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By Melody Johnson

“We all need a little escape from reality sometimes, and I hope this anthology of short stories will help readers get into the holiday spirit,” says Melody Johnson. “The holidays are sometimes a reminder of the people or traditions that one has lost, but through the magic of storytelling, we are never alone.”

Melody is one of 14 First Coast Romance Writers (FCRW) contributing to Romancing the Holidays, Vol. 2, the second installment in the group’s holiday anthology series. This compilation of short stories transports to Christmas and Valentine romantics with over a dozen unique happily-ever-afters, ranging from sweet to steamy. Readers who enjoy contemporary, historical, or paranormal romance will be whisked off their feet and away to worlds where love prevails.

“Usually, I write full-length novels, so participating in this annual anthology is both fun and challenging,” says Melody. “Fun because I love taking a break from the project I’m currently working on to return to Witchy Business, a world I’m already in love with. But challenging because developing a relationship, motivation, high stakes, and finding a satisfying resolution in only thirty pages is a wild ride. I hope people take as much pleasure in reading these stories as we did in writing them.”

In addition to Melody, the other contributing authors in this anthology include: Debby Grahl, Elise Darby, Barbara Whitaker, Maggie FitzRoy, Leah Miles, Karen Renee, Sara Walker, Vickey Wollan, Abigail Sharpe, Gloria Ferguson, Laura Salas, P.K. Brent and Candese Nieves. All fourteen women are members of FCRW, and proceeds from this anthology benefit their organization, a non-profit chapter of Romance Writers of America®, that helps writers hone their craft and expand their knowledge of the publishing industry.

“I’ve been a member of First Coast Romance Writers for six years. I’m a past Event Coordinator, Treasurer and President of the chapter, and have helped to bring publishers, agents and other industry professionals in person to speak to our members. But participating in this anthology is the accomplishment I’m most proud of,” says Melody. “It just feels right that we are writers raising money for our chapter by doing what we’re most passionate about: writing romance.”

Melody’s contribution to this year’s anthology is Fated by Fire, a Halloween romance and the third installment in her Witchy Business short story series. When the hero of Fated by Fire, Marcus Kyle, stops to assist a stranded driver change a flat tire, the last person he expects to face is Jenavieve St. Clair, the young witch whose unnervingly accurate visions consistently cast him as the harbinger of death and destruction for their covens. Crossing paths with her is unsettling, but perhaps fate has intervened on his behalf, granting him the opportunity to prove to her that he’s just a man, not the monster that her visions predict him to be.

“I chose to feature Halloween for this anthology because what better holiday to frame a romance brimming with witches, sparking with magic and fighting against fate?” says Melody. “I’m a voracious paranormal romance fan. My heroes are Laurell K. Hamilton, Chloe Neill, Anne Rice, and Karen Marie Moning. Besides the obvious perks to the genre—danger, action and adventure—I’m drawn to paranormal romance because of the world building. I love taking a beloved genre and putting my spin on it with my rules in a world of my creation.”

Romancing the Holidays, Vol. 2, was published on September 22, 2021, and is available online in ebook and paperback formats.


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