by Barb DeLong

Are you one of those crafty types—you know, one of those creative creatures who swoon upon entering Michael’s or Hobby Lobby? Then you’ll have noticed that, starting sometime in July, Christmas project supplies elbow Halloween frights in an ever-growing mash-up aisle after aisle, week after week. You might have to ask where the Pilgrim hats are located. Disneyland famously combines Halloween and Christmas in its IMG_1611Nightmare Before Christmas-themed Haunted Mansion open in early September. Some retailers have begun sneaking in some holly among their scary zombie masks.

Christmas in July is a popular promotional tactic used by many businesses, not the least of which are authors of holiday stories. Be sure to read Ottilia Scherschel’s recent WSR post called “Love for Christmas” for insights into the possible origins of the Christmas-in-July phenomenon. And yes, Ottilia, I confess to watching some wonderful snowy Hallmark holiday romances this past summer and loving them with temps outside in the 80’s.

So, what’s my actual point here?

My Writing Something Romantic author group missed the boat—er—sleigh this past July for our Love for Christmas holiday romance anthology promo. Here it is September and we feel perfectly justified in doing so now, especially because the paperback version of the anthology will be available in October (the e-book is already up on Amazon under Love for Christmas, a Holiday Romance Anthology). Check it out. It’s never too early to get into the spirit of the holidays! In fact, it seems rather late.




A Witch For Christmas – a Short Story

This year my critique group, Writing Something Romantic, decided to publish a holiday  IMG_1611     anthology of original short stories. Because I write light-hearted paranormals, I focused on a humorous witch story with a Christmas Eve deadline. I played the “what if” game. What if a witch who’s been cursed by an evil sorceress must find her one true love by Christmas Eve or be doomed to a loveless future? What if she doesn’t realize that her perfect match is right under her nose?

I had fun with this story. When I named my characters, I chose names from witch and wizard folklore, from movies like Harry Potter and TV shows like Bewitched. I borrowed fantasy book author Roald Dahl’s first name and a name from the high fantasy video game Zelda. The fancy restaurant in my story, Tres Becheur, means “very snobby” in French. I wrote my scenes from memories of whizzing down snowy slopes on a dented aluminum saucer, and afterwards enjoying a mug of rich, hot chocolate with a generous dollop of whipped cream. I still love decorating for the holidays, from overloading the Christmas tree to trimming the mantel, even though I sometimes wish I had a witch like Abigail Goodbody to lighten the task with a well-placed spell.

And, as with almost all of my stories, there be animals. Abby’s canny feline familiar is a blue-eyed ragdoll named Endora. Joe, Abby’s lovelorn next-door neighbor, resists the siren call of his familiar, a calico tomcat. Oh, not to forget the pickled frog sacrificed to the swirling depths of a black cauldron.

If you love your Christmas on the lighthearted, magical and decidedly romantic side, check out “A Witch for Christmas,” in WSR’s Love for Christmas anthology, available in November 2017 from Amazon.

Barb DeLong – Writing Magic

I didn’t start out writing paranormal romance. As a youngster, I loved all the westerns that were on TV at the time. Dating myself, I know. You’d think a western historical romance would be in my writing future, and I did devour a lot of those as a reader in later years. Horses and hunky cowboys – what’s not to like?  iOCX7EjJdTlDkbSF5Y9mWhIJ_9xkZa0jUU7XoajAWLo

Most of my romance writing life until fairly recently has been in the contemporary romance genre. A story about a big-time lawyer, burnt out and needing a change, goes to work on a Kentucky thoroughbred breeding farm. A harried widow and mother of three kids gets kicked out of her rented home along with a pregnant Afghan hound, a sweet boa constrictor and various other pets. A mushroom researcher in the Pacific Northwest, in danger of losing her grant, is aided by an undercover cop and a very rascally raccoon.

If you didn’t notice, animals of all sorts make their way into my stories. When I finally turned to paranormal romance, animals came along for the ride. I’ve read many paranormals, sci-fi’s, fantasies, and got my fill of werewolves, vampires, hybrids thereof and other weird and wonderful creations. Most of these stories were dark, serious, world-as-we-know-it threatening. When I came across the light-hearted and humorous, I loved it. One of the first books I read where I laughed out loud was Jill Barnett’s Bewitching. I loved Jill’s slightly inept witch. This is what I wanted to write–paranormals with a light-hearted touch.

I watched Hocus Pocus, The Good Witch, Practical Magic, and other iconic humorous movies about witches and how they wielded their powers for good or mischief. I read more light-hearted paranormals. I took notes, studied the craft of writing funny. Took more notes. Ideas swirled like the ether rising from a smoldering cauldron. My series, Charmed by a Witch, was born. Book One in the series, my current work-in-progress called Charm’d, is about a witch who can communicate tele-magically with animals. She has a ferret familiar with powers of her own. She can disappear and appear at will.

I find in animals a pureness of spirit, a sweet innocence and guileless honesty. They surprise and delight me. That they should follow me into my paranormals was only natural. My quirky witch and her animal entourage make putting fingers to keyboard a happy occasion.