2017 is winding down.


It was a complete dumpster fire of a year. The second half of 2016 and all of 2017 has been one long depressive episode and my health has crashed badly. Arthritis requiring injections, diabetes worsening, & heart issues requiring echo cardiograms (still don’t know what’s going on there).

But there have been good things too, the facebook communities, Rainbow Snippets and Queer Sci-Fi have been interesting, supportive and really a highlight of my year. Another brilliant spot was getting a toe in the door with Nine Star Press. Elisabetta and Raevyn were very welcoming.

The downside of this year was I hardly wrote. I sold only two short stories, an old one, Conned to MLR press (also new to me) and The Glow of Lumniferous Aether on Tinsel to Nine Star. I’m pretty proud of them, especially the latter which is averaging 4 stars.

But I need to write more. I have started my paranormal romance in the Hocking Hills These Haunted Hills and I really like how it’s going. It was my nano and thanks to Lex Chase challenging me to word sprints, I won. I doubted I would have otherwise so thanks, Lex!

So my plans such as I make them for 2018 are as follows:

1. Finish These Haunted Hills
2. Keep trying to place Blood Red Roulette if it gets rejected from where it is now
3. Work on expanding Sacred Kin from short story to novella for Nine Star’s Lost open call (this will probably be the priority as it has a deadline)
4. Fix the ending of Cassadaga Nights as it’s almost ready which is good.
5. Dust off my bear shifter story and see if I can remedy it.
6. Work on Kaleo and Aneirin’s story
7. Check out any short story open calls just to keep the name out there.

Wish me luck. Happy and creative new year to you all. To all my friends, fellow authors and readers, thank you for joining me in this journey. You make it worth it.

The Belsnickle of Deutschtown

The Belsnickle of Deutschtown
By Jana Denardo
Author’s Note: This was written for the 12 days of fic mas 2017. It’s set in the Soldiers of the Sun series and you can find the longer works in this series here

“Check down that way.” Caleb pointed toward a block of houses. He scowled as the wind picked up. The calls the Soldiers of the Sun had received from the people living in the City of Allegheny’s German community known as Deutschtown. They had gotten reports of a man dressed in furs chasing and hurting children. It was nearly Christmas, and they were running around freezing their backsides off because no one wanted let kids get hurt. Caleb knew this had to be bringing back bad memories for Temple in particular who had been traumatized a couple Christmases ago when they faced down Pere Fouettard, the Whipping Father. Li was with them then. This was the first Christmas with Temple’s new partner, Jo. She looked particularly unhappy to be out late night with frigid wind blowing up her skirt, even if she did wear pants under it.

“Did you see something?” she asked, drumming her fingers on the butt of her pistol.

“Maybe. The snow is making it pretty impossible to see anything,” Caleb replied. He hated feeling like he was leading the team blind.

“Do you really think it’s the Belsnickel?” Temple scowled, barely visible in the pale street light.

“From what we’ve been told and researched, it seems likely,” Caleb said, flexing his fingers. Even inside his gloves, they were cold and stiff, poorly suited to drawing his sword if need be.

Agni shuffled down the street, hunched up under his uniform jacket. “May I ask something, and I don’t mean to be critical of Christianity?”

“You put up with our questions about Hinduism,” Temple replied.

“Why are there so many evil spirits associated with Christmasn and why are all of them revolving around hurting children?” Agni skidded on the icy bricks. “You have Pere Fouettard whipping and killing children. This Belsnickle is just as bad, and then the Krampus looks like any demon in our reference library. I don’t understand why Christians want to set such monstrous creatures on their children.”

“Not all Christians,” Caleb replied. “We Welsh had the Mari Lwyd who engages in witty banter and then we party.”

“The Italian prefer to party as well, if you call the Esta dei Sette Pesci, the feast of seven fishes a party. Dinner lasts for hours all the way up to when we need to go to Midnight mass,” Jo said, peering between two houses. “We do have La Befana, the Christmas witch but she’s more like Santa Claus, not some crazed whipping demon who punishes kids for Santa.”

“All right, we French have Pere Fouettard as you know. The wicked Christmas spirits seem to be more in France and Germany and through the cold northern countries. I don’t know why,” Temple said. “You know how I am on research. Honestly, I think it all started as a way to get children to behave but you know how demons can be. If enough people invoke them, they’ll take the shape that is expected, the one called upon. And that leaves us freezing off our family jewels – forgive that, Jo – chasing down a Belsnickle days before Christmas.”

“Forgive what? If I had jewels, they’d be gone by now.” Jo grinned.

“I think I’m beyond annoyed as a large segment of Christian society at this point,” Agni huffed, rubbing his arms.

“There!” Temple leveled his Tommy gun at the unkempt looking man clothed in furs under a street lamp at the end of the block. “First one who gets him, gets the first cup of coffee when we get home.”

Caleb didn’t need to direct them to battle, and if Temple could be motivated by coffee – and he always could – Caleb had no complaints. Within in seconds, there was one less demon in the world, and they were in the car heading back to Oakland, another Christmas saved.

Rainbow Snippet

Wow, end of the year already. It seems somehow impossible and at the same time incredibly crappy. The political nightmare aside, this has been a terrible year personally. I am, however, very grateful for this community. Your support means a lot and here’s to a new, creative and supportive new year for us all!

I’m sticking with These Haunted Hills this week. They’ve spent the drive to the haunted murder hotel being geeky and now we’re back to work.

“We’re going to have to go off road for this,” Joshua said, as he turned his truck onto a rutted path leading back into the woods.

“Is this safe?” Brendan suddenly rethought every step that brought him to this point. He was going to drive into the wilderness with a man he’d only met the day before. What if he was about to be the next ghost haunting this woods? Freaking author imagination! Like I have any reason to worry. He shook his head, aware how instantly his suicidal thoughts turned to survival in the face of imagined danger.

And here’s the song from last week’s snippet.

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

The Mari Lwyd – 12 days of ficmas flash fic

The Mari Lwyd
By Jana Denardo

Author’s note. This is set in my Kept Tears universe. You can find Kept Tears Here

Aaron nestled into the couch listening to Bryn and Bron bantering back and forth. Rhys’s twins had arrived in town for Christmas. He didn’t think they had any hint of Christian faith being fae, but they liked the lights and the gifts and all the parties. He didn’t mind when they came to town, the centuries old Tylwyth Teg twins were amusing. He enjoyed spending time with them.

That said, he’d rather spend the night with Rhys alone. Ah well, there would be other nights. Rhys spent most of his life isolated from his own kind, his family, as one of the guardians of humanity. Aaron could hardly begrudge him a family visit. Besides, the twins had centuries worth of stories about their father. He couldn’t get enough of those.

Someone knocked on Rhys’s door. As Rhys was busy getting drinks, Aaron levered himself up to go answer it. One day, when it came to dealing with the fey, maybe he’d learn to curve his helpful nature, but that day wasn’t today so here he stood, staring at a horse’s skull grinning toothily at him.

Aaron slammed the door shut, leaning on it, the servos in his prosthetic hand whining as he splayed his hand against the wood. “Rhys!”

“What?” he called merrily from his station at the makeshift bar he had set up in the corner of his living room.

“There’s a goddamn horse’s skull on a skeletal body wearing a cape with a bunch of strange people behind it.” He couldn’t keep the slightly hysterical note out of his tone.

“Brilliant,” Bryn cried, popping up off the couch.

“The Mari Lewd. It’s been ages since one of them has shown up,” Bron added.

Aaron pressed his forehead against the door. He should have realized they’d know what the hell was going on. There were days he wondered if he had suffered more brain trauma than he thought when he lost his arm and nearly his leg after his transport was hit during the war. It would explain his complete love for Rhys despite the fact he was fae and had so much accompanying weirdness swirling around him.

“What is the Mari Lwyd?” Aaron said, stumbling a bit over the strange name.

“The Grey Mare, it’s a Christmas tradition in parts of Wales, and you know that’s where my kind once held sway,” Rhys replied, striding toward the door with his sons.

He flung the door open. This time Aaron could see the horse skull held a bell in its jaw. Behind it were several humans but somehow, he doubted the colorfully clothed men and women were remotely human. He knew the fae hide their otherness on this plane.

The horse’s skull nodded, ringing its bell while the others sang. “Wel dyma ni’n dwad. Gyfeillion diniwad. I ofyn am gennod i ganu. Os na chawn ni gennad. Rhowch wybod ar ganiad. Pa fodd mae’r ‘madawiad, nos heno.”

Aaron had no idea what they were talking about. Was it Welsh? Some faery language? They had the same linguist roots for all he knew.

Rhys sang back, “Does genni ddim cinio. Nac arian iw gwario. I wneud i chwi roeso, nos heno.”

“It’s pwnco,” Bryn told Aaron.

“It’s a battle of insults and rhymes,” Bron added.

“Ooookay,” Aaron drew out the word, still confused but what he knew of Welsh holiday traditions could hide in the dot on an I. If La Befana, the Italian Christmas witch showed up tonight too, he was out of here.

The strangers with the Mari Lwyd shot back something more in that foreign language, and the twins answered them. After several exchanges, they changed to English, so Aaron could follow.

“You can’t come in. This is a game you cannot win,” Rhys said, and the Mari Lwyd clattered its jawbone.

Maybe I should just go get a jump on the drinking, Aaron thought, vaguely irritated out by the whole thing. He wondered how long this battle could go on but they all seemed to be enjoying it. He wanted to consider himself open to all cultures, so Aaron tried to jump into the verbal fray. Corrine would have fared better than he.

Finally, Rhys threw his arms open wide and took a step back. “You have triumphed, enter.”

The people trooped in, more than Aaron had thought had been in the hall. He thought he might recognize a few of them. He helped Rhys pour drinks while the twins fetched appetizers. Aaron turned to get a bottle of vodka and when he turned back he yelped, nearly dropping the bottle. A pallid head sat on the table and a headless body leaned against it.


“Donahue, put your damn head on,” Rhys snapped at the fae. “You remember, Donahue, right Aaron?”

Aaron nodded. Donahue the Dullahan and his damn detachable head was how he’d found out about Rhys was fae. It wasn’t any less creepy now.

“And I was putting the head on.” Donahue’s head said, his slack jaw rapping on the table. The Dullahan scooped it up, setting it on his shoulders where it pinked up more lifelike. “Can’t drink without it.”

Aaron sighed and poured him a vodka martini as the twins raced by, their glamour spells dropped, their pointed ears showing. As he handed over the drink he noticed most of the fae had abandoned the spells that made them look human.

Aaron turned to Rhys. “Am I the only human here?”

Rhys let his magic fall away. Long gold curls, delicately pointed ears and luminous eyes, Rhys was even more gorgeous without it. “Yes.” He slipped his arms around Aaron, “but you’re my human.” He kissed Aaron.

It was corny, but Aaron’s heart melted.

“Always.” He leaned against Rhys. “This is the weirdest Christmas ever.”

“Oh, it’s only going to get weirder from here,” Rhys promised, caressing Aaron’s backside.

“I think I need rum, lots of rum.”

Rhys laughed, pulling up two liters of coke, knowing Aaron would want that too. “Not too much. I have plans for you later, and I need you in fighting form.”

Aaron wrapped a strand of Rhys’s long hair around one hand, “Tell me more.”

“Later. If Donahue overhears he might want to join in…or just the head.” Rhys smirked.

Aaron dropped the strand of hair. “And now that you ruined sex forever.”

“Oh, we’ll see about that.” Rhys kissed him again. “Challenge accepted.”

“Weirdest Christmas ever,” Aaron repeated, returning the kiss. “Potential the hottest.”

“As I said, challenge accepted.”

Aaron never wanted a party to be over more but until then, he was going to make the most of the crowd of fae.’ Merry Christmas to him.

Author’s Note – the pwnco was taken from http://www.omniglot.com

Christmas Dreams – a 12 days of ficmas Flash Fic

Christmas Dreams
By Jana Denardo
Author’s Note: This was written for the 12 days of fic mas 2017. It’s set in the Soldiers of the Sun series and you can find the longer works in this series here

The soft creaking set Temple’s teeth on edge. He could barely see anything past the edge of his dual flashlights, one clipped to his belt, the other he carried. It barely lit the byzantine roads weaving through Paris. Where were his brothers? Probably leaving him on his own. Teaching him a lesson.

Temple wiped a sweaty palm on the big red cross centered over his chest. All he needed was to lose his grip on his sword because his hands were sweating. Why were they sweating? Cold bit at him making him wonder where his gloves were. Why did he sweat? Nerves? Maybe. He was also after all. He didn’t see a single Knights Templar anywhere near him.

Temple blinked up at the street lights. Fat snowflakes tumbled from the sky. Why was he here alone? He didn’t remember why he’d been sent to patrol this sector of Paris, or even how he wandered here. Where were his gloves? He dug in his coat pocket, finding them. Temple tugged them on.

Another creak made Temple spin around. He couldn’t see anything moving in the snow. He wanted to go home. It was Christmas eve. He should be with his family, not looking for demons but that was his job as a Templar. He should be home before the fire. He was too old to put out shoes full of fruits and nuts for Pere Noel but he could dream of singing carols with his mother, getting ready for a Noel dinner of oysters and pate de foie gras. He could taste the richness of it even now. If only he could figure out what the creak was.

A strange rattle of chain joined the creaking. Temple gripped his sword’s pummel. He hated swords. He wished he could hunt demons with a gun, like the Soldiers of the Sun did, but no, the Templars were so mired in the past.

There, something moved in the distance, the falling snow obscuring his view. Most people would not be out on Christmas eve. He didn’t see the white and red of a Templar uniform, nor that of the police. He pulled his sword. If he survived this, he was taking himself to the cinema to see Jacques Feyder’s latest movie. Temple hoped he wasn’t drawing his sword on some innocent person out for a wintery stroll. He crept closer trying to see through the swirling snow. It was so thick it was nearly vertigo inducing.

Temple’s mouth dried, seeing the man wore robes not unlike a monk’s. Dark unkept hair and scraggly beard poked out of the cowl. A long chain clanked around his waist as the creature stalked through the snow, a wicker basket creaking on his back.

Pere Fouettard! The Whipping Father. Temple remembered threats of Pere Fouettard growing up, his father and grandfather especially holding it over his head and those of his brothers and sister. Be good or Pere Fouettard will get you, gut you, boil you into stew. At best Pere Fouettard will whip you raw. Naughty kids all met Pere Fouettard in the end.

God knew Temple had been naughty most of his life. There had been so many women, men too, this year just like the one before. He was a teen, too old for Pere Fouettard surely and yet there he stood. Temple steeled his jaw. He was a knight Templar. A wicked spirit like Pere Fouettard could not be suffered but could he be killed? Was he immortal? Temple didn’t know. The research aspect of demon hunting wasn’t his strength. He was better with action.

So why was his sword arm trembling?

He could see Pere Fouettard’s face now under the light of a street lamp. His lips parted showing yellowed teeth as he leered at Temple. Wasting no time, Temple charged, swinging his sword. His boot skidding on the icy bricks of the roadway. Over balanced, Temple sprawled, striking his head as he went down,

Stars joined the snowflakes dancing in the sky. Laughing, Pere Fouettard brought a whip down. Fire launched across his arm and side. Temple screamed. He scrabbled in the snow for his sword. Where was it? How could it had gotten so far from his side when he fell? Pere Fouettard’s whip swung fast and furious.

Temple shrieked under the onslaught, the smell of his blood heavy in the air. Where was his back up? His brothers still were absent. Not even his cries brought them running. His sword had vanished. All that existed was Pere Fouettard’s ferocious face and his flailing whip.


He snapped his head side to side trying to find the man calling for him. No one was there.

“Temple, wake up!”

Temple sat up, shivering in the cold. Only it wasn’t cold. He wasn’t lying in the snow, dying at the hands of a Noel monster. He sweated profusely, blankets pooling at his waist. Next to him, Li had his arms around him, shaking him gently.

“Temple, are you all right? You were screaming in your sleep.”

Temple scrubbed a rough hand over his face. “Pere Fouettard was killing me.”

Li’s brow wrinkled as his partner and lover stared at him in the dark room, lit only by a sliver of moonlight through the curtain that hadn’t been pulled shut entirely. “We beat Pere Fouettard last week, remember?”

Temple shook his head. What the hell…oh, right, they had literally fought Pere Fouettard in Ambridge and saved a bunch of kids from the evil Noel spirit. “God, it felt so real. I was in Paris, still a Templar.” He licked his lips, remembering his teenaged years before he ran away from the Templars to join the Soldiers of the Sun. “My brothers had deserted me.” That much was true. His family wanted nothing to do with him and vice versa.

“It was just a dream.” Li kissed him gently. “You’re here with me. Paris was a long time ago.”

And so it was. He was in Pittsburgh now which couldn’t compare with Paris for beauty but his found family lived here. He was happy here when he wasn’t dreaming about being beaten by Saint Nicholas’s wicked counterpart. “Felt so real. I was losing.” He pushed up the sleeve of his pajama top jsut to be sure he didn’t bear any whip marks.

“You beat him in the real world. Just remember that.” Li patted the mattress. “Try to go back to sleep. Lie down with me.”

Temple settled back, and Li pulled the covers up over them, encasing him in warmth, welcome in the chill room. Li tucked up against him and Temple closed his eyes.

“Thanks for being here.”

“Always, love. always.”

Temple found that the perfect thing to fall back to sleep thinking on.

Author Note #2- The novella where they fought Pere Fouettard is The Darkest Midnight in December and you can find it at the link in the first note.