Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Spotlight on Romancing the Holidays, Volume 2 & Birthday Giveaway #21

I'm happy to welcome author Melody Johnson to The Romance Dish today. Melody is here to tell us about a new anthology presented by multi-genre authors belonging to the First Coast Romance Writers. I've read Melody's Halloween contribution to this collection and immediately started searching out more stories in her Witchy Business short story world. She reeled me in hook, line, and sinker. It's left me even more excited to sample the thirteen other stories in Romancing the Holidays, Volume 2. Scroll down for Melody's post, an excerpt from her short story, and don't miss the giveaways at the bottom. 

Over a dozen ways to fall in love at the holidays…

Looking for a Happily Ever After? How about fourteen of them?! Romancing the Holidays, Volume 2 is a collection of romantic short stories all with the happy ending you crave. Genres include: contemporary, historical, paranormal, romantic suspense and young adult. 

And what better time to find romance than during the holidays? Escape into these Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Three Kings Day and Valentine’s Day adventures, and swoon anew with each couple as they fall in love. 

Proceeds from this anthology benefit First Coast Romance Writers, a non-profit chapter of Romance Writers of America that helps writers hone their craft and expand their knowledge of the publishing industry


“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 fourteen 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 readers from Halloween and Thanksgiving antics 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.” 

In addition to her contributions to Volumes I and II of Romancing the Holidays, Melody has also published the “out of this world” full-length sci-fi romance novel Beyond the Next Star and the gritty, four-book paranormal romance Night Blood Series with Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press. The New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Lynsay Sands "laughed out loud" reading Beyond the Next Star, and Kirkus Reviews praised is as, "an engaging and unusual otherworldly tale." 

Romancing the Holidays, Vol. 2, releases the first day of fall, September 22, 2021, and is available online in e-book and paperback formats. Preorders are available at https://books2read.com/RTHVol2.


Fated By Fire   

Excerpt (The “first look” scene)

Melody Johnson


Rumor had it Dr. Marcus Kyle could siphon as well as merge magic, and if he chose to, he had the power to drain entire covens to husks with a single, powerful flex of his will.

In her vivid and increasingly—frighteningly—accurate visions, he was often testing the limits of that power in a parody of Carrie, wearing the blood of his slaughtered witches and warlocks with trembling glee.

In reality, his cheeks dimpled when he smiled.

Jen stood to face him, leaving her lug wrench on the asphalt where she’d dropped it mid-spin at the sight of him. No need to call attention to the fact that in addition to the lug wrench, she’d also dropped her car, having stuttered on her levitation spell. Goddess help her if he’d noticed.

He paused at her rear tire, looking a bit sheepish. “You’ll have to excuse the get up. I was on my way to a costume party, but I couldn’t pass by without asking if you might need help changing that tire?”

Breathe. She’d seen Dr. Kyle’s face in her mind’s eye for years, but her visions hadn’t prepared her for the heat of his direct gaze nor the distraction of his angled jaw. From the curls of his faux hawk to his perfect teeth, beaming at her from behind those lush, parted lips, and every smooth-as-caramel, baby-faced feature in between, he was fresh and friendly. Adorable, even.

She supposed the wrath and violence in her visions had prevented her from truly appreciating his appearance because before this moment, she would have described Dr. Marcus Kyle as dangerous, vicious, and volatile. Now that he was before her in the flesh, the phrase “cutie pie” came to mind.

And holy mother of Earth and Rain, she wanted a bite.


Birthday Giveaway #21:

One randomly chosen person will receive an e-book copy of Romancing the Holidays, Volume 1 (donated by Melody Johnson).

One randomly chosen person will receive an e-book copy of Romancing the Holidays, Volume 2 from PJ.

Giveaway ends at 11:00 PM, September 23.

*Must be 18

*Void where prohibited




First Coast Romance Writers, an affiliate of Romance Writers of America®, is an organization for both published and unpublished writers, as well as any individuals involved in the writing and publishing industry. The membership includes writers of all levels, from those working on their first manuscripts to multi-published, award-winning authors. The chapter is dedicated to promoting excellence in romantic fiction through monthly meetings and workshops in a comfortable forum where published and unpublished writers share knowledge about the constantly evolving publishing industry. FCRW strives to help writers become published and establish careers with innovative programs, networking opportunities and pertinent information on effective marketing techniques for members’ novels. Find FCRW online at https://www.firstcoastromancewriters.com


Romancing the Holidays (Vol. 2)

A First Coast Romance Writers Anthology


ON SALE: September 22, 2021

Holiday Romance / $2.99 / B09881F57V 


  1. What a great way to raise funds to help other writers. This sounds like a wonderful anthology. I am intrigued by the fact that it is multi-genre and multi-holiday.

  2. I particularly enjoy holiday themed books close to the holidays.

  3. I love that this is helping writers hone their craft. I love that everyone is welcome to write no matter what genre.

  4. I am a fan of holiday anthologies. And it is a terrific thing that y'all are doing this to aid other writers.

    Thanks for introducing me to another author. Y'all are so kind to me.

    Hope everyone is well and happy and safe.

  5. I love supporting these charity-based books. This sounds like a wonderful anthology.

  6. I love anthologies for 'meeting' new to me authors! I especially appreciate when I'mhelping support others when I buy something. I am intrigued by the excerpt. Thanks!

  7. I love anthologies and Holiday anthologies are often the best out there. I like that this one has such a wide variety of genre and holidays represented. From the excerpt, it will be interesting to see what her visions really mean and what happens. Are the rumors really true? Is something entirely different going on?

  8. That is quite a wide mix of genres for an anthology. Sounds like great fun to read!

  9. This looks like an intriguing anthology. I added it to my tbr, thank you!