Title: Once Upon a
Authors: Christine Young, C. L. Kraemer, Genie Gabriel
ISBN: ebook: 978-1-62420-369-5 POD: 978-1979071093
Buy at: Amazon
A free digital copy of Once Upon a Christmas Moon will be given to a randomly chosen commentor during this blogtour.
A collection of stories about the magic of romance at
When Archer Steele shows up at Calanthe Durand's failing
an alligator over his shoulder, Cali thinks she's never seen
handsome man. During the war she had to defend herself and
from both union and confederate soldiers. Independent and
self-sufficient, she vows to never marry. But Archer Steele
different ideas. The first time Archer sees Cali in town, he
instant attraction. He decides he will do everything and
convince the beautiful Miss Durand he is worthy of her love.
weeks leading up to Christmas, he gives her twelve gifts in
will fall in love with him.
An ancient evil from the old country has arrived in the high
Oregon. Gnome children are vanishing then re-appearing,
stages of traumatization. Tiamoon, warrior gnome, will put
her skills to
use alongside Killian, a handsome warrior, also in need of a
With their world destroyed and their space ship
dogizens of Planet Canid have little choice but to crash land
They face tortuous experiments at the hands of the Geeks in
they can trust an eccentric inventor and his zany family to
Canine Queen's puppies and help them celebrate new lives.
EXCERPTS: Once Upon a
Near New Orleans October 2,1867
“Sam! Close the shutters on the back landing. I’ll get the
front. Hurry. There’s a storm coming.” Calanthe Durand felt the small hairs on
the back of her neck rise and shivers run down her spine. A big storm was on
its way, probably a hurricane. Energy and fear poured through her like the
pounding rain and flooding that accompanied high winds. Closing the house to
the storm was imperative.
Cali took a moment to smile. She’d heard Sam grunt. He
didn’t talk much, but she wouldn’t have survived the war or these last two
years without Sam and his daughter Daisy. Both sides, the North and the South,
had occupied their home. Daisy and Sam were family, the only family she had.
She’d do whatever was necessary to protect them. Even with emancipation, life
wasn’t easy for blacks in the south.
“I’ve got them, Miss Cali.” Daisy rushed past her and out
the door. Wind whipped her hair and tugged at her dress. Branches torn from
trees landed on the porch.
Cali followed, the storm swirling around her, her hair
beating against her face. Her breath was ragged, and fast as her heart
thundered. She pushed and tugged at her skirt, trying to detangle the fabric
from her legs. “Get inside!” The tempest raging around them swallowed her
“Not until we’re finished here.” Daisy fastened a shutter
before moving on to the next one.
They worked together to protect the windows from the storm
on the raised porch which stood five feet off the ground as wind howled around
the eaves. A steady rain poured from the black sky, and lightning slashed the
Cali pushed dripping strands of hair that had slipped from
her chignon away from her face. “I’ll light the candles. It could get dark here
“Horses and livestock are safe for now.” Sam stepped beside
her. “Hope it’s not a big one.”
“Hello up there. Hello, bonjour, anyone home?”
Hearing the voice from below, Cali left the protection of
the house to lean over the porch railing. Below her a man stood, with cupped
hands to his mouth and a dead gator slung over one shoulder a quiver filled
with arrows on the other. “Hello. Can I get shelter from the hurricane?”
“Don’t know if it’s a hurricane.” Terrified of unknown men,
Cali didn’t want to do the charitable thing. She pursed her lips, thinking, but
all that came to surface was memories of troops commandeering her home. Good
lord but she’d had to hollow out a bedpost to hide her jewelry. The soldiers
had taken everything they could see. Sometimes she felt as if the war had
ripped her soul from her body.
“Maybe not a hurricane. Could be just a bad storm, but I
don’t want to be on the swamp right now. The water’s rising.” A loud roar and a
thunderclap followed his pause. Behind him an old Cyprus tree crashed to the
ground, uprooted by the wind.
“You can take shelter in the stable.” Cali watched his back
stiffen, while she swallowed hard, but she wasn’t about to back down. The
stable was good enough for some wandering man who she owed nothing. Besides,
there was a tack room with a bed. No one slept there anymore, but she kept it
clean and the moss in the mattress was fresh. Daisy had rolled it out two days
ago. Yet a small niggling in the back of her head kept telling her this wasn’t
a traveling man but one of means. He was a man she should treat as a gentleman.
She’d been taught better but the war had changed all that and the lessons she
learned were not served to her with a silver spoon.
“Much obliged.” He nodded before turning toward the barn.
His natural swagger and broad shoulders sent a different kind of sensation
through her. Warmth swept inside, swirling within and heating her frozen heart.
For a moment he looked back, a strange expression on his well-chiseled face.
High Desert, Central Oregon
Killian stared at the
rise of rock from the desert floor. The emerging sun tricked the sky into
revealing pink and blue streamers across the horizon exposing the severe lines
of craggy mountains. Pine trees scented the air, and the slightest hint of sage
tickled his nose.
“Where are they disappearing to? They’re much too young to
be running away.”
The young man turned his blue gray eyes from the mountain to
answer. “Yes, Ms. Luna. What can I do for you?”
“Are you sitting out here at this early hour worrying about
the young ones?” Luna’s black hair was braided down her back and she sported a
shawl bright with her clan’s colors. She handed the young man a steaming cup of
coffee. “I hope you don’t mind black. I’ve yet to milk the goat.”
Killian flashed her a seldom seen smile. “Ms. Luna, you make
the best coffee in the desert. Black is fine.”
Taking up a spot next to him on the porch, she turned her
attention to the mountains admiring the soft colors of rose and tan springing
to life in the morning sun. “What is it that haunts you so?”
“The illogicality of it all.”
“Aye, I figured that. It is indeed illogical. The children
are too responsible to leave unannounced, yet they are snatched from their beds
in the middle of the night with no clues.”
Killian sipped the wicked black brew and allowed the liquid
to spike his taste buds. The brilliant light of a new day was caressing the
landscape and warming the air. “The kinders disappearing are not inclined to
run off. They are the eldest and most reliable. These missings make no sense.
They don’t happen in the same area or at the same time. They’re completely
arbitrary and being so—random—has given me pause to find a method. If I were to
discover a pattern, the recovery would be simpler.”
Luna watched the anguish distort his handsome young face.
His blue eyes clouded to a dark grey when he spoke of the missing children, and
his normally full mouth stretched to a tight slash across his face.
“I don’t wish to sound cruel, but none of these are young
ones of your own family. Why take their absence to heart?”
Killian relaxed his scowl a bit, and a smile began to touch
his lips. “Because it is they who will be the leaders of our clans in but a few
short years. I had hoped to retire my sword someday to warm my boots by a fire.
Having a mate and young ones around isn’t such a bad idea.”
He automatically sipped his dark brew. It would indeed be
nice to warm my feet by a fire with a mate and children. The problem being I’ve
found no person who makes me think in such terms.
“Well, I must admit, Master Killian, I never would have
thought you to be the settling type.” She picked up his cup, returning from the
kitchen minutes later with fresh coffee in the container.
“Neither had I, Ms. Luna, neither had I, however, aside from
our missing young ones, there has been no conflict between the clans, nor have
the Others tried to interfere in our affairs in a very long time. It is a good
thing for many but for me, what good is a warrior without a war?”
Luna could only agree with his forlorn assessment; what
good, indeed, was a warrior without a war? “Maybe a solution will arrive in the
near future. You never know.”
Killian shrugged his shoulders. Who knew indeed?
“So where is this alien craft?”
Fletcher had never completely trusted Commander Viktor
Atrocitor. Since he had taken command of GIG two years ago, the atmosphere at
the agency had become cold and suspicious, like the man himself. He seemed
carved from six and a half feet of granite, blocky and scowling.
“It has disappeared.” Fletcher knew this statement would
draw Atrocitor’s ire and disdain, but what was the use of denying the obvious?
“Fool! Can you do nothing right?” Atrocitor turned to the
GIG agents waiting at a wary distance. “Search the neighborhood. Someone must
have seen something or is hiding them.”
While Atrocitor berated Fletcher, other GIG agents spread
throughout the neighborhood, offending pretty much everyone by demanding they
stay in their houses while their property was overrun and searched.
After two hours of fruitless searching, Commander Atrocitor
called a halt. “If you want to save your career and this town, you will bring
me these aliens within twenty-four hours.”
As Fletcher watched the caravan of GIG vehicles disappear
down the road out of Watermark, he felt like a six-year-old kid again. Bullied
and humiliated for his belief that beings from distant galaxies simply wanted
to explore and build alliances. They weren’t like aliens in movies who wanted
to destroy humanity.
That’s why Fletcher started working at Geeks in Green. He
thought he found other humans like himself who believed alliances with aliens
could benefit everyone. Now he was starting to believe the rumors about
Commander Atrocitor being heartless and determined to eliminate aliens were
true. How could he know for sure?
His thoughts were interrupted when Agnes staggered out the
back door toward the barn. “Who’s disturbing my goats?”
With her hair disheveled and her clothes askew, she did
indeed look as if she had spent a raucous night of partying—the after-effects
of being zapped by a ray gun.
Laycee and Fletcher followed Agnes into the barn, where the
spacecraft was once again visible. Now the hatch was open, with guards standing
on either side pointing ray guns at Agnes, Laycee and Fletcher.
With a sizzle of purple, one of the alien guards fired his
gun and Fletcher crumpled to the ground.
“Why did you do that?” Ryan hustled out of the spacecraft.
“He is of GIG,” one of the guards stated. “He is a danger to
“Is he dead?” Ryan knelt over Fletcher’s inert body.
“Simply stunned. We will revive him when the danger to our
Queen is gone.” The two guards loaded Fletcher onto a transport board, which
levitated and moved inside the spacecraft.
“Your mouth isn’t moving but I can hear your words.”
Laycee’s shocked whisper matched the stunned expression in her eyes.
“Our Canine Queen is birthing and is not to be disturbed.”
This time the alien’s mouth moved as he spoke, and he looked like any other
human except for a twinkle of star light in his eyes. “Weren’t you getting milk
for the royal puppies?”
“Yes.” Ryan refocused his attention on this task, determined
to ignore Laycee’s presence. What was she doing here anyway? “Agnes, do you have
milk from your goats?”
“My goats don’t much like to be milked.”
“Surely it can’t be that difficult,” Ryan said.
Agnes lifted an eyebrow. “You’re welcome to try. I’ll get a
Determined to get milk for the Queen’s puppies, Ryan began
stalking one of the goats.
“I think it should be a female,” Laycee said.
Ryan felt like a first grader again. “I knew that.”
Laycee coughed behind her hand to cover her laughter.
“There’s a girl goat on top of the space ship.”
Ryan looked up the curved, smooth surface. “Maybe there’s
another girl somewhere easier to reach.”
He stepped around the space ship and over the boards broken
when the craft crashed through the roof. “There’s a girl! Help me get her into
While Ryan circled around the nanny goat one way, Laycee
closed in on her from the other side. The little goat narrowed her eyes at the
humans and, when they were within a couple feet of her, she let out a bleat and
ran between Ryan’s legs. Startled, he stumbled and dropped to one knee.
“Watch out!” Laycee’s shout made Ryan turn in time to see an
irritated male goat charging toward him.
A traveler for most of her life, C. L. Kraemer has settled
in the Northwest with her husband and two cats. When not creating a new world
or entity, she likes riding next to her husband on their Harleys.
Fur against my face and the soft smell of a dog curled
protectively around me existed before my first memories of this life. So began
my journey of being more in tune with animals than with people.
I went through the expected motions of marriage, kids,
divorce, and career, but usually out of step with most of the human population.
This proved to be an advantage in developing an independence and a curiosity
about things most people don’t even consider.
A minor health issue led to energy healing and becoming a
master level Reiki practitioner. Working at the local animal shelter flipped on
the switch to communicating with animals. Each dog I adopted showed miraculous
changes most people couldn’t believe.
As a writer, I explored the mysteries of why people behave
as they do, and also became fascinated by science, especially quantum physics.
But perhaps my favorite way of writing stories is to ask the question, “What
if?” and dive into those imagined worlds—surrounded by my beloved furbabies, of
Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived
in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a
BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University
working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her
Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days
of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first
book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, My Angel to
Kensington. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising
three children. Christine's newest
venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder,
editor and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.
Christmas, anthology, romance, fantasy, adventure, mystery
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/genene.valleau