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December 4, 2022 by in category Spotlight tagged as , , , ,

Totally Folked, a heartfelt and hilarious standalone romance from New York Times bestselling author Penny Reid, is ZERO PENNIES for just a short while. Now is the perfect time to start the small town Good Folk series and visit Green Valley!

★★⁣⁣Grab your copy TODAY!★★⁣⁣

★★⁣⁣Blurb★★⁣⁣

One unforgettable night leads to an unlikely shared connection, and unlikely connections never go unnoticed by the good folks in Green Valley, Tennessee. . .

Jackson James follows the rules. He has to. He’s a sheriff’s deputy in a super small town with a super big personality. However, strict adherence to the law during the day has been enjoyably balanced by rakish rules at night. Jackson, typically happy to protect and serve (and serve, and serve), starts questioning the value of wayward evenings when getting laid starts to feel more like being waylaid. Could it be that Green Valley’s most eligible—and notorious—bachelor longs for something (and someone) real?

Mega movie star Raquel Ezra follows only one rule: always leave them wanting more. Studio execs, reporters, audiences, fans, lovers—no one can get enough of the smart, savvy, and sexy bombshell. But when “generous offers” begin to feel more like excessive demands, years of always leaving has the elusive starlet longing for something (and perhaps someone) lasting.

When Raquel abruptly returns to the quirky Tennessee hamlet, her path crosses with the delectable deputy with whom she spent one unforgettable night. Unfortunately, scandal and intrigue soon follow. Raquel and Jackson must decide which is more important: following their rules? Or, at long last, finding something real.

TOTALLY FOLKED is a standalone, contemporary romantic comedy novel and book #1 in the Good Folk: Modern Folktales series.

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The Birth of the Christmas Card

December 3, 2022 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , , , ,

The First Christmas Card

John Callcott Horsley designed the world’s first commercially produced Christmas card for Sir Henry Cole in 1843.

Cole was part of the elite social circle in Victorian England. During the holiday season of 1843, having too many friends caused Cole much anxiety.

The old custom in England of sending Christmas and New Year’s letters boomed with the British postal system introducing the “Penny Post.”  A letter or card could then be sent anywhere in the country for the cost of a penny stamp.

Now, everybody was sending letters, but Sir Henry Cole was a busy man. He watched the stacks of unanswered correspondence and fretted over what to do. In Victorian England, it was considered impolite not to answer mail, and being the 1840s equivalent of an A-Lister, Cole had to figure out a way to respond to all of these people.

Cole asked his artist friend, John Callcott. Horsley, to design an idea he had sketched out. Cole had a thousand copies on stiff cardboard made by a London printer. On each postcard he had printed “TO:_____” so he could “personalize” the generic greeting “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You.”

Thus was born the first Christmas card.

1843 The First Christmas Card

The Modern Christmas Card

In the early 1900s, a man named Joyce Hall started a revolution that resulted in creating the modern-day Christmas card.

In 1905, he and his brothers spent $540 to buy picture postcards to sell to store owners and retailers in Norfolk, Nebraska. A few years later, they opened their own little store in Kansas City, Missouri, selling the postcards and other greeting cards, but the store sadly burned down just a little while later. After that, The Hall Brothers bought an engraving business and printed their own cards.

Their customers wanted to write more than what would fit on a postcard. This resulted in a card that was 4 x 6 inches folded once, and inserted into an envelope. By 1928, the cards were being produced under the brand we all know today as Hallmark.

Christmas cards in the twentieth century reflected the times and artistic styles of each decade. 

With the advent of computers and digital photography, families could now shoot, design, and print their own customized cards right at home.

1920s

The Most Popular Christmas Card of All Time

Debuting in 1977, one particular greeting card quickly took hold as the bestselling Christmas card design of all time. 

Hallmark artist Ruth Morehead designed the angelic Three Little Angels artwork that depicts a trio of adorable cherubs. Unlike seasonal cards that come and go with each passing year, ‘Three Little Angels’ was so popular that it was sent over 36 million times in its first two decades of production. According to Hallmark’s director of creative writing, Kristin Riott, “Cuteness and God together are unbeatable.”

Christmas Cards Today

Technology advancements in recent decades are making Christmas cards a little less popular. Social media platforms make it easier to stay connected with friends and family all over the world, and face-to-face video conferencing helps form meaningful connections, especially around the holidays.

Along with Mother’s Day, Christmas cards are still the most popular season for card-buying, card making, & sending, with over 1.5 billion individual & boxed cards purchased every year.

Janet and Will’s Skylar Drake Mystery Series

DESERT ICE

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DESERT ICE

GAME TOWN

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GAME TOWN

SLICK DEAL

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SLICK DEAL

SLIVERS OF GLASS

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STRANGE MARKINGS

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Songbird, a Holiday Short Story from Penny Reid and L.H. Cosway

December 2, 2022 by in category Spotlight

★★NOW LIVE★★⁣⁣

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
Songbird, a holiday short story from Penny Reid and L.H. Cosway, is available now for a limited time and only 99¢! This Rugby series exclusive will be available only in the month of December, so grab your copy today!

Read Songbird TODAY!

★ ★ BLURB ★ ★

After finishing another long shift at her dead-end job, Ophelia is left with the bleak prospect of spending Christmas alone for the very first time. Not wanting to return to the house she rents with far too many strangers, she wanders the streets of Dublin taking in the festive cheer. Then, in the cozy confines of a small, quiet pub she graces the patrons with a song, snagging the attention of a tall, handsome American stranger.

As famous record producers go, Broderick is incredibly low-key. Drinking alone in a random Dublin pub before planning to fly home to New York first thing in the morning, he takes an instant interest in the intriguing singer, her sound like none he’s heard before. The guy who rarely talks can’t help talking to her, if only to satisfy his curiosity about her heavenly voice. Soon, the two are walking the city streets together, Ophelia giving Broderick a tour of all her favorite places. And while he immerses himself in her world for a few short hours, they form a connection he fears will be hard to forget once the night is through.

Songbird, a collaboration between authors L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid, is an 11k word short story, can be read as a standalone, and might be the start of a great lovestory . . . one day.

#illustratedbookcover #romance #booksofinstagram #romancebooks #romancereader #romancebook #bookworm #bibliophile #bookstagram #IGreads #bookseries 

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Dianna Sinovic, Featured Author

December 1, 2022 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , ,

Author of the Month: Dianna Sinovic

picture of dianna sinovic

Dianna is a contributing author in the last three anthologies from The Bethlehem Writers Group, An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny and Strange Tales of Intrigue, Fur, Feathers, and Scales, Sweet, Funny and Strange Animal Tales and Untethered, Sweet, Funny & Strange Tales of the Paranormal. She has also contributed stories for the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable ezine, including “In the Delivery.”

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Horror Writers Association, The American Medical Writers Association, and The Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC.

Dianna also has a regular column here on A Slice of Orange, titled Quill and Moss, in which she frequently includes short fiction.

Below, you can also listen to Dianna read her short story, “Cold Front” from the GLVWG Writes Stuff anthology.


Other books by Dianna Sinovic


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Pressured

November 30, 2022 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic tagged as , , ,
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Armed with an LED light array half its length, the robotic sub maneuvered closer to the vestimentiferan colony. 

“Hundreds and hundreds of them, it looks like,” Dr. Parish said. “Can you get any nearer?”

“Trying,” Angela said, and sighed in frustration. “The rocky terrain around the vents is tricky. I’m afraid of hitting a jagged outcropping and damaging Deep Fin. We can record from here, and I can boost the magnification. That’s safer.”

“You are now the one in charge of this project?” Dr. Parish said.

Angela said nothing, knowing it was futile to argue with Parish. Besides, she was the pro at controlling the sub unit. Inept at fine controls, Parish nearly crashed it the first few times they had sent it out, and he finally acknowledged that she would be the permanent “pilot.”

She turned on recorder and increased the zoom. At least two meters in length, the tube worms formed dense clumps of slender white cylinders, their deep red gills protruding from the tops. White crabs and other vent creatures clung to the colony like baubles on a giant bracelet.

Parish sighed. “I’d love to spend all of our allotted time on these.”

“But the unit only has about forty-five more minutes before it runs out of battery,” Angela finished. 

While the worm colony drew their attention, it was the vents with their bubbling, superheated water they were more interested in. 

“Go ahead then,” Parish said.

They sat side by side in the control booth aboard the Searcher research vessel in the Pacific. The day was calm, a counterpoint to the excitement Angela felt at finally getting to examine the vents—even if via robotic sub. She had to keep Parish on track. He often drifted, like a boat in a swift current without an anchor.

Slowly, with a delicate tuning of the controls, Angela moved the sub to the vent they had marked on their map. It had formed within the last year, since they had last examined the area, and was remarkable for its size. The monitor registered a rapid warming of the water as the sub inched closer to it. 

Angela, intent on the vent itself, was startled at Parish’s sudden intake of breath. 

“What the hell was that?” he shouted, making Angela jump.

“Where?” She concentrated on maintaining the sub’s location. “On the screen?” When she glanced at him, his eyes were wide, alarmed.

“A figure, but it couldn’t be,” he said. 

She had seen nothing but the rough terrain the sub was navigating. No time to be studying anything else. 

“We’ll run it back later,” she said. Parish must have imagined whatever he thought he saw. “Figure—are you talking human?”

Parish ran a hand over his buzz cut. “It couldn’t be. The pressure down there is like a trash compactor on steroids. But what was it?”

Sensing that Parish was no longer interested in exploring the vents, Angela moved the sub out of harm’s way, slipping back from the rocky outcroppings. “Let’s hold here for a few minutes. I’ll keep a sweep going, and maybe it’ll show up again.” While I’m watching.

“Sure, sure.” Then he fell silent, studying the screen intently.

Angela continued panning the light array across the field of vision. The worm colony lay a dozen meters away, and the rest of the view was the profound darkness of the deep.

A shiver ran down Angela’s spine. He’d probably seen a fish, some odd-ball creature with surprising appendages.

The screen shimmered with momentary static, and when it cleared, she was staring at a face—a human-like face—only centimeters from the sub’s camera. 

Almost as quickly as it appeared, the face vanished, and seconds later, the camera went offline.

“It was there, wasn’t it?” Angela whispered, more to herself than Parish. 

“I saw it,” Parish said. “We both saw it.”

Looking at the readouts from the sub’s controls, Angela felt sick. “We’ve lost more than the camera feed. All connection to Deep Fin has been severed. It’s gone.” And how many millions of dollars gone with it? She and Parish were responsible.

As if reading her mind, Parish clapped her on the back. “Yes, it’s a huge loss, but the flip side is, the world will be at our doorstep the minute we release the footage. Unbelievable. We’ll be heroes.”

Angela hoped he was right.

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