Hi everyone! Today I am excited to welcome back Kate Lowell to Joyfully Jay.  Kate is here to share with us more about her new release, Christmas Goes Analog, including how she put ice cubes in her bra while writing!  She has also brought an excerpt and a great giveaway.  So please join me in giving her a big welcome!

Christmas Goes Analog banner

Publishing is a slow business. In large publishing houses, books might be a year or more in production before they finally make it out for sale. Even digital first presses have lag time between the writing, the acceptance, and the release.

What this means is that writers are often working on stories that are very out of sync for the calendar. Valentine’s stories at Halloween, summer romances in January, ghost stories at Easter.

Christmas in July.

Which is exactly when the first half of Christmas Goes Analog was written. Imagine trying to replicate the feel of a chilly winter’s day–the kind where just walking outside makes your teeth chatter–while wearing shorts and your skimpiest tank top, and taking occasional breaks to wash the sweat off. It just so happened that we were in the middle of a heat wave–well, what we call a heat wave, way up here.

Generally, writers are pretty good at maintaining the kind of focus you need to ignore these little distractions and stay within character and theme. It would make the job a lot trickier if you couldn’t–after all, you’d need to wait until Christmas to write a Christmas story and, by then, it would be too late for that year’s calls. So we persevere.

On occasion, though, we need a little help.

Now picture yours truly drinking slushies until she got brain-freeze, sitting on freezer packs and dropping ice cubes down her cleavage. Add in a few Christmas carols and you’ve got a pretty good idea of how I spent my July. I watched The Grinch, and The Santa Clause, and even the Shrek Christmas special. I was that serious about it. In fact…

I started shopping for Christmas.

The funny thing was–that’s what really kicked me over into the Christmas mindset. Every time I got stuck, I went internet shopping. And the story grew and grew until it was finished.Plus, I’ve never been so ready for Christmas in my life. And what this tells me is that I need to write a Christmas story every year.

In July. With ice cubes in my bra.

advent calendar 2013To celebrate getting to actual Christmas–and because I know that this is something that Rob would have adored–I’m giving away a copy of the Jacquie Lawson Animated Advent calendar. Puzzles, games, activities and animations–no one is immune to the charm of it. I have two versions–an Edwardian house (think Downton Abbey) or an Alpine Village. Follow the link to check them out. Or, if you aren’t interested in the calendar, you can chose a copy of the ebook and I’ll send it along. After all, it’s Christmas–you should be allowed to have a wishlist, right?

Ornament kate lowellAlso, Christmas ornaments play a large part in Shawn’s solution to Rob’s Christmas problem, so I’ve decided to give one away. It’s made of pewter, in a local shop. The ornament itself is shaped like a birdhouse, with two birds, and the words ‘Our First Christmas’ written on it. To enter to win the ornament, click the link here and leave a comment at the bottom of that post. The winner will be drawn on December 10, and the ornament will be mailed out, hopefully the next day (weather permitting—this is Canada, after all!)

  • Title: Christmas Goes Analog
  • Publisher: Loose Id
  • Release date: December 3, 2013
  • Genre: Holiday Contemporary
  • Blog: thebluntinstrument.wordpress.com
  • Twitter: @Kate_Lowell


Christmas Goes AnalogWhen Rob’s dad was injured by an uninsured driver, it spelled the end of Rob’s carefree childhood and, more important to Rob, the idyllic Christmases they used to have. Hard work and sacrifice nets him a degree in computer programming and then a contract at a rapidly-growing video game company. Things are looking up, especially when he meets his new System Administrator. But the closer it gets to Christmas, the more bugs there are in the system.

Shawn’s found him. The Guy. But Rob’s had it rough and it’s been years since he’s been anything but responsible. It all comes boiling to the surface when a family financial crisis is followed by a work emergency that ruins Rob’s plans to bring Shawn home to meet the family over Christmas holidays.

With Rob’s mood growing darker the closer it gets to Christmas, Shawn needs to find some way to give Rob the Christmas he’s so desperate for. And he just might have the plan…


Not long before lunch, a flash of movement in the door caught Shawn’s eye—and his irritation. Like any other sysadmin, he hated it when people came looking for him instead of sending a ticket. First, it usually screwed up the documentation, so he ended up doing it all at the end. Second, it meant they thought they were going to butt in line ahead of everyone else. He spun in his chair to give the interloper a good lesson in “don’t bother the guys with the system access” but froze instead. A tall, dark-haired guy with a slightly self-conscious smile and eyes full of laughter stood in the open doorway.

“Hi. Sorry. I tried to make a ticket, but the system wouldn’t let me. I’m Rob.”

Rob? Oh, Robert Forbes. “Come on in,” Shawn heard himself say. It was like his whole body was on fire, or he’d stuck his finger in a socket. He wondered if he was having a stroke; his brain seemed to be caught in an infinite loop.

Blue screen of death. Wonder if he’d give me mouth-to-mouth? He shook himself mentally and made his lips form the words, “What can I do for you?”

Rob took a couple of uncertain steps into the room. “I don’t want to push—I know there’s a protocol in place—but my access keeps going in and out. Sometimes I can get in; sometimes I can’t. And there doesn’t seem to be any kind of triggering event. It’s just random.”

The part of Shawn’s brain that wasn’t completely occupied in wishful thinking poked at that and came up with several possible solutions.

Easiest first. “Let’s check your cables.” He got up and slipped past Rob, catching the other man’s scent as he moved by. Damn, he even smells good. What are the chances?

Rob followed him, looking baffled. “But I can get on sometimes.”

Shawn dug through the box of spare cables and pulled out a couple of Cat 5e’s and an IDE cable, just in case, though he doubted the problem was inside the box. Unless there was a corrupted file in the operating system, but that wouldn’t cause the intermittent connection issues Rob was experiencing. “Occam’s razor,” Shawn told him. “We’ll try the cables, then look at other things if the cables don’t work.”

Rob held out his hand. “I’m sure you have better things to do. I’ll take them up and try them out.”

Not likely. “That’s okay. I need a break, and it’s a good excuse to stretch my legs.” Good thing his name wasn’t Pinocchio, or his nose would be six feet long after that lie. He gestured at the door and smiled. “Let’s go get you set up.”

It only took a minute to swap out the Cat 5e cable. But it was definitely worth the effort because when Shawn crawled back out from underneath the desk, Rob looked quickly away from him and blushed.

Yes! Nothing says gay better than checking out your coworker’s assets. And that blush…

Shawn didn’t make his move right away. He hung around for another twenty minutes, making Rob repeat all the actions that had caused him problems.

Everything worked.

In triumph, Shawn twisted the old cable into a knot, then pulled a set of wire cutters out of his pocket and snipped it in two with a dramatic flourish. At Rob’s surprised look, Shawn grinned. “That way it won’t end up back in the box again.” He sent a silent prayer of thanks to whatever Cupid was in charge of gay men’s love lives, the one who’d handed him such an easy fix and made him look good in front of this new guy.

This new, cute guy.

He glanced at the clock. “You wanna get some lunch?”

For the first time, Rob looked uncomfortable. “I, uh, brought my lunch.”

“My treat. In honor of your first day. We owe you something for this.” Shawn waggled the broken cable.

Rob still looked unsure, and Shawn was suddenly hit by the unwelcome idea that maybe Rob already had a boyfriend. Damn, he hoped not. He did his best to look unthreatening and friendly, with—he hoped—a little sexy in the mix.

A broad smile spread across Rob’s face, as if he’d read Shawn’s mind, and he nodded. “Okay. Let me get my jacket.”

Shawn took him to a small pub a few streets away. Over the course of lunch—a burger for Rob, chicken in Thai peanut sauce for Shawn—he learned a lot about the new hire. Rob had graduated only last week, and this was his first time living away from home. He had a sister, a nephew, and a niece, who all lived with his mother. His father was disabled and lived in a private nursing home, which Rob helped pay for. He loved movies—science fiction and superheroes, mostly, but a good action film with lots of explosions could tempt him as well.

And he was single.

By the time they’d gotten back to work, Shawn had talked Rob into a date on Friday night, gotten his phone number and his personal e-mail from him, and had extracted a promise to eat lunch together the next day. That afternoon, for the first time in months, Shawn took his break, so he could spend some more time with Rob. They walked back from the breakroom together, and Shawn was pleased to note that Rob seemed reluctant to leave, lingering in the doorway until Shawn had to shoo him off so they could both get their work done.

When Shawn left work that evening—late, as usual—he was actually looking forward to going back the next day, which was something else he hadn’t done in a while. Not for the job—for Rob.

So when Ruairi called back late that night to ask, “Are you interested in that job?” Shawn knew what his answer would be.


Kate has two great giveaways going on for you guys!  

First, leave a comment below to enter to win your choice of one of the Jacquie Lawson Animated Advent calendars. You can choose from an Edwardian house (think Downton Abbey) or an Alpine Village. (Follow the link to check them out) Or, if you prefer, you can chose a copy of the ebook instead.  To enter for these goodies, leave a comment at the end of the post by the time the contest closes on Thursday, December 5th at 11:59 EST.

Second, Kate is also giving away a pewter birdhouse ornament with the words ‘Our First Christmas’ written on it. To enter to win the ornament, click the link to her blog here and leave a comment at the bottom of that post. The winner will be drawn on December 10, and the ornament will be mailed out, hopefully the next day (weather permitting—this is Canada, after all!)

Good luck!

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
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FILED UNDER: Excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post