Happy Anniversary!

Me And Jo

Happy Halloween to you, and Happy Anniversary to Jo and me 🙂

The picture there is the most recent one I have of Jo and I together. It was taken at the book signing for Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories in February. Jo and I co-wrote a story that was included in that book, Sea and Sky. Anyway… this isn’t about that book, it’s about our anniversary 🙂

Today is our 9th anniversary. Ask me how I know it’s the 9th… c’mon, ask me. I know it’s the 9th because Danica is in grade ten and she was in grade one when we got married. That is also how Jo knows it’s our 9th anniversary. We are so screwed once Danica graduates from school LOL It’s kind of appropriate that we keep track of our anniversaries that way, though. I don’t know that we would have gotten married it if weren’t for Dani. We both loved each other very much but we didn’t really feel like we needed a ceremony to prove that however Danica really wanted us to be married, it meant a lot to her and so we did. Now I’m happy that we did. We didn’t need a ceremony to prove anything, but there’s something that really appeals to me about being Jo’s wife and partner.

Now, you don’t need to run away, I’m not going to spend a whole blog post gushing about how much I love him but I do want to share one short story with you that will illustrate just how awesome he is.

A few years ago I was all like ‘Gawd, I need a new job!’ and Jo said, “Well, if you could do anything in the world what would it be?” I replied, “Writing, but that will never happen.” Jo looked at me, I mean really looked at me and said, “Why not?” Why not indeed. If not for that question I might still be stuck in a job I hated and so many stories I’m incredibly proud of would never have been written.

Thank you for being awesome Jo. You rock and I love you.

And now… back to business.

Anniversary or not, today is also the last day for two work-related things. It’s the last day you can enter my draw for a goodie bag full of awesome:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Metastasis Cover - artwork by Jonathan Parrish, Cover design by Carol HightshoeIt’s also the last day to get your copy of Metastasis at a discount:

Amazon.com
Paperback – $14.95
Kindle – $6.95

Kobo
ePub – $6.95

Smashwords — Use coupon code LM63L in order to receive 25% off your order
ePub – $6.95
Kindle – $6.95
PDF – $6.95

Createspace — Use coupon code TGERED9J in order to receive 25% off your order
Paperback – $14.95

Sale: Potty Party Girl

Kitties at workMy poem, Potty Party Girl, has been accepted for inclusion in a future issue of Gold Dust Magazine. Potty Party Girl is a weird little piece that I wrote as part of a poem-a-day challenge (I don’t remember which one off the top of my head). I was pretty sure it was just going to sit on my hard drive collecting dust because, as you may have guessed from the title, it would be a wee bit difficult to place. Then I discovered Gold Dust Magazine and I thought it would be a good fit. Turns out the editors thought so too, which means I’ll be able to share the poem with you come December 🙂

As to that photograph… well Gold Dust didn’t have a handy logo and I thought this post needed something, so I decided to use this one. A picture of how I write first drafts. I try to keep the cats off my notebooks but in this case I stepped away for just a second…

Metastasis Contributor Interview: Joely Black

Metastasis Cover - artwork by Jonathan Parrish, Cover design by Carol HightshoeJoely and I first met, interestingly enough, when our stories followed one another in the 3 hundred and 65 project which benefited a children’s cancer charity. It was no surprise to me then when she submitted a story to Metastasis. Let’s here what she has to say about it:

Who or what was the inspiration for your story in Metastasis?

When I was nine, my uncle died of a brain tumour. He was 37. We used to go and see him at the hospice in London. I became very curious about how a brain tumour changes the very nature of who we are, after watching how the tumour changed him. We get our very selves, all our creativity and thought, from the brain, and cancer changes that radically. I wanted to explore how that might change a person, but not in a uniformly bleak way.

How has cancer touched your life?

I’ve never had cancer myself, but I’ve lost three close relatives to it. My uncle’s death stayed with me a long time, as he died very young and made me conscious of how early cancer can claim a person. My grandfather died of prostate cancer when I was a teenager, which felt like a battle of the wills between him and the disease. I understand he never properly sought treatment for it, which is why he died so quickly. And of course, my other uncle died last year. That was a hard one; the cancer was concealed by his Alzheimer’s, and it’s awful to think that many of his unusual behaviours were caused by a tumour rather than the degenerative dementia.

When it comes to cancer, what gives you hope?

Many of my friends are scientists, constantly working on tiny pieces that fit together to produce cures. The speed with which we’re learning about new treatments, new techniques and new medicines is astounding. I think we’re making progress, especially when it’s caught early.

Joely Black is a writer and author living in Manchester, England. She has published a fantasy trilogy and is currently writing a new fantasy serial called Five Empires. She has also written for the Manchester Literature Festival and appeared in One in Four magazine. You can find more info at joelyblack.com.

Metastasis is available at:

Amazon.com
Paperback – $14.95
Kindle – $6.95

Kobo
ePub – $6.95

Smashwords — Use coupon code LM63L in order to receive 25% off your order
ePub – $6.95
Kindle – $6.95
PDF – $6.95

Createspace — Use coupon code TGERED9J in order to receive 25% off your order
Paperback – $14.95

All coupons codes expire on October 31, 2013.

Metastasis Contributor Interview: Sara Cleto

Metastasis Cover - artwork by Jonathan Parrish, Cover design by Carol HightshoeSara Cleto is today’s participant in the series of Metastasis contributor interviews I’ve been hosting here on my blog. Sara’s poem, “A Hunter Reflects Upon the Properties of Sunlight, and Also of Ashes, is just one of several pieces from this anthology which touched on sunlight (Cat Jenkin‘s story “Like Sunlit Honey” being the most obvious other example). It was a theme I wasn’t expecting to find as I read submissions, but at the same time, it wasn’t surprising either. Which is not to say that Sara’s poem or Cat’s story are without surprises, because that would be a lie. I’m going to stop rambling now so we can hear what Sara has to say:

Who or what was the inspiration for your story in Metastasis?

Despite my lifelong fascination with vampires–my favorite novel is Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, and my first academic article discusses Gothic vampires– I’d never written anything creative about them because vampiric literature can veer very quickly towards the cliche. The prompt for Metastasis offered an opportunity to invoke vampires in a really unconventional way, and once I made a connection between sunlight, cancer, and vampires, I knew exactly how my poem would unfold.
How has cancer touched your life?
Both my mother and my maternal grandmother have survived cancer. They faced illness with incredible bravery and grace, and my poem is dedicated to their strength. My partner’s extraordinary grandfather passed earlier this month after his own battle with cancer, and I don’t yet have the words to talk about it.
Not counting your own, which story or poem in Metastasis is your favourite?
Beth Cato’s poem “Hunter” just about broke my heart with its magic, sweetness, and sadness.
Sara CletoSara Cleto is a PhD Student at the Ohio State University, where she explores folklore, literature, and the places where they intersect. She spends most of her time reading, writing, and teaching her students about fairy tales and the supernatural. Her creative work can be found in Cabinet des Fees: Scheherazade’s Bequest, Ideomancer, Nightblade, and others.

Metastasis is available at:

Amazon.com
Paperback – $14.95
Kindle – $6.95

Kobo
ePub – $6.95

Smashwords — Use coupon code LM63L in order to receive 25% off your order
ePub – $6.95
Kindle – $6.95
PDF – $6.95

Createspace — Use coupon code TGERED9J in order to receive 25% off your order
Paperback – $14.95

All coupons codes expire on October 31, 2013.

Metastasis Contributor Interview: Scott Lee Williams

Metastasis Cover - artwork by Jonathan Parrish, Cover design by Carol HightshoeScott Lee Williams is the next participant in our series of contributor interviews. Scott’s story, “The Cure” has a fantastic voice and real three-dimensional characters who I really liked.

Who or what was the inspiration for your story in Metastasis?

When I wrote “The Cure” I was playing the game that all authors play – what if – asking, “If cancer had a story, what would it be?” In many ways, my story is two stories: the story of a man who has a disease, and how that affects him and his relationships, and the story of the disease – if the disease were actually a sentient lifeform with its own agenda. Each of those stories has its own emotional resonance. The danger, of course, is in possibly appearing too glib about the very real suffering that cancer causes. Sympathy for the devil, after all, is easy enough, until you realize what the devil’s really after. I tried to counter this by making my human characters as real as possible.

How has cancer touched your life?
I’ve been very blessed that cancer has not directly affected my life in the way that it has many of the contributors to Metastasis. That being said, cancer affects everyone. It’s part of our culture, in that it’s the ur-horror story. Not everyone believes in the boogeyman, but everyone believes in cancer – the body as betrayer. We all walk around with it in our head everyday. We hear about it on the news, or a friend of a friend has it. We look at the unexplained bruise or sore and think, “Is it cancer?”  We all live with a greater or lesser portion of this fear in our lives, and I certainly look forward to the day when it will be something we don’t have to worry about.
When it comes to cancer, what gives you hope?
Technology gives me hope in the fight against cancer. I tend to vacillate wildly in my belief in the power of science to improve our lives. I’ll say, however, that right now, the research that’s being done finds new treatments everyday, and screening methods catch cancer at earlier and more treatable stages. We’re also learning to address the environmental and genetic causes of cancer.  We may never entirely eliminate cancer from the human experience, but we are learning to fight better, and smarter, and that is certainly a reason to hope.
Scott Lee Williams writes in Brooklyn, NY, where he lives and thinks thoughts with his wife and cat. He also maintains a blog called Four Each Day, in which he writes four lines, every day, about something that happened that day. Most of the stories are even true. You can find that at http://foureachday.blogspot.com.  Scott Lee Williams

Metastasis is available at:

Amazon.com
Paperback – $14.95
Kindle – $6.95

Kobo
ePub – $6.95

Smashwords — Use coupon code LM63L in order to receive 25% off your order
ePub – $6.95
Kindle – $6.95
PDF – $6.95

Createspace — Use coupon code TGERED9J in order to receive 25% off your order
Paperback – $14.95

All coupons codes expire on October 31, 2013.

Fall Into Fantasy

Fall Into Fantasy 2013

We’re going to take a short break from Metastasis interviews today to talk about Fall Into Fantasy giveaway. Hosted by Ash Krafton, Fall Into Fantasy is a huge book (and swag) giveaway. More than 50 writers participated this year, which makes for a HUGE selection of goodies that you can win.

There are so many prizes being offered that the Rafflecopter can look a little intimidating (at least to me) but there are a lot of really easy entries to get. You get three entries every day you tweet about this giveaway, for example, and if doing giveaway shout outs aren’t your thing you can also earn entries by leaving a blog comment, following me (or Niteblade) on Twitter, checking out Niteblade Magazine or hooking up with me on Goodreads. Also? There are 50+ other authors who you can earn entries by friending/following/whatevering. And who knows, maybe you’re friends with some of them already. So try not to get overwhelmed by the Rafflecopter and enter. You can’t win if you don’t enter, and here are just some of the books that are being given away:

BookBox: embed book widget, share book list

That’s just a FEW of them. Personally I donated a bunch of stuff to the swag bundles plus copies of Aphanasian Stories and Niteblade. So take a look at the Rafflecopter below and earn yourself a few entries because, free books. 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Metastasis Contributor Interview: Michael S. Pack

Metastasis Cover - artwork by Jonathan Parrish, Cover design by Carol HightshoeMichael S. Pack’s short story, Unchanged, takes place in a future where there is a cure for cancer but as we all know, nothing is without consequences…

How has cancer touched your life?
In 2007, a routine x-ray for back pain found bone mets in my mother’s spine. The oncologists never identified a primary tumour, but the biopsy indicated breast cancer. With advanced metastasis, the doctors could offer little in the way of treatment. They gave her two years, but it spread faster than they had predicted. No radiation, no chemo, no surgery. She accepted nothing but palliative care. She passed away just after New Year’s of 2008.
When it comes to cancer, what gives you hope?
I don’t think we find meaning in our circumstances, but in our response to circumstance. It gives me hope to see the ways in which people choose to respond to cancer. You can’t stay neutral, even denial is a response. Every cancer survivor who finds the strength to persevere, every patient in treatment who perseveres even without strength, every family member that offers support, every community that holds a rally, runs a relay, spreads awareness — those offer me hope. When someone chooses to live their life in spite of the odds, whether from stubbornness or determination or force of will, that gives me hope. Every time someone finds the serenity to accept, that gives me hope. Cancer itself, it brings too much pain, too much suffering for me to find its value. The human reaction though, there’s value there. In the ways in which those responses are framed — by everyone who fights to live one more day, by everyone who comes to terms with mortality, by everyone who grieves for the time lost — those very human responses have meaning. They have value.
Not counting your own, which story or poem in Metastasis is your favourite?
That’s a tough question. I’ve read the anthology, and I’m impressed with all of the contributions. You’ve done a fantastic job putting together some really powerful pieces for Metastasis. If I had to choose just one though, I’d have to say Beth Cato’s poem, “Hunter”. It caught me a little off guard, and it spoke to me on an emotional level. It was beautiful, but also painful to read.
Michael S. Pack is a writer who grew up in the Deep South, but he now lives in northern British Columbia with his wife and three cats. He writes fantasy, science fiction, and other stories. Michael sometimes rambles on twitter @Michael_Pack and on https://www.facebook.com/M.Pack.Author where he posts updates about his stories. He is currently at work on a fantasy novel.

Metastasis is available at:

Amazon.com
Paperback – $14.95
Kindle – $6.95

Kobo
ePub – $6.95

Smashwords — Use coupon code LM63L in order to receive 25% off your order
ePub – $6.95
Kindle – $6.95
PDF – $6.95

Createspace — Use coupon code TGERED9J in order to receive 25% off your order
Paperback – $14.95

All coupons codes expire on October 31, 2013.

Metastasis Contributor Interview: Steve Lickman

Metastasis Cover - artwork by Jonathan Parrish, Cover design by Carol HightshoeSteve’s story in Metastasis sucked me in from the first paragraph and held my attention up to the very end. He’s here today to answer a few questions in another of our super short Metastasis interviews 🙂

Who or what was the inspiration for your story in Metastasis?

It was really more of a what. Of late there’s been a lot of noise online regarding the role of women and minorities in the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy and also nerd culture in general. The story came about as my brain tried to deal with the ugly, ugly things I was reading online. My thoughts regarding sexism and institutionalized misogyny dovetailed with the idea of metastasis. Most cancer treatments are not kind to the human body. We cut, burn, and bombard it with chemicals. A person’s sexual identity risks damage as a result. Comedienne Tig Notaro when talking about her fight with cancer jokingly referred to a double mastectomy as a “forced transition”.  That’s sort of the idea I was chasing.

How has cancer touched your life?

My family is certainly no stranger to the disease. My grandmother beat both breast and lung cancer during her lifetime. My dad has beaten skin cancer. Unfortunately, my Aunt Michael wasn’t as fortunate. Lung cancer claimed her life. Right now one of our dogs is sick, and our vet says that cancer is the most likely culprit. I pray she is wrong.

However the most striking way cancer has touched my life involves a friend with whom I had a falling out with a number of years ago. Our friendship disintegrated over a bunch of stupid bullshit and we ceased all communication with each other. About a year ago I learned he died of lung cancer.  A mutual acquaintance showed me a picture of him that had been taken shortly before he died. When I knew him, he was a chain-smoking Falstaff, a larger than life character who was always quick with a joke. The person in the photograph looked to be less than 120 pounds with sagging yellow skin and the suggestion of a smile on their lips. It’s my understanding that the disease hit him hard and fast. Whenever I catch myself acting petty, I think of him. It’s cliché, but life can turn shockingly short for stupid bullshit.

Not counting your own, which story or poem in Metastasis is your favourite?

That’s a difficult question, because I had that in mind as I read the anthology, and it starts off with Jay Lake’s powerful “The Cancer Catechism”. And as I continued to read, there was just one fantastic idea after another. The Phillip K Dick fan in me loved the central idea behind David Sklar’s “Quantum Therapy”. However, at one point during Gabrielle Harbowy’s story, “Arpeggio”, I audibly gasped. So if I had to pick just one, I’d pick her’s.

When not being mean to his characters, Steve Lickman is mean to software in his role as a quality control analyst. His story, “Fangirl”, recently appeared in Sidekicks! published by Alliteration Ink. You can follow him on Twitter @SteveLickman or at his website, BeerAndMonsters.com, where he writes about pop culture, home brewing, and, occasionally, writing.

 

Metastasis is available at:

Amazon.com
Paperback – $14.95
Kindle – $6.95

Kobo
ePub – $6.95

Smashwords — Use coupon code LM63L in order to receive 25% off your order
ePub – $6.95
Kindle – $6.95
PDF – $6.95

Createspace — Use coupon code TGERED9J in order to receive 25% off your order
Paperback – $14.95

All coupons codes expire on October 31, 2013.

 

Published: Bedtime Story

Tesseracts 17I am honored and proud beyond words that my story, “Bedtime Story”, is included in Tesseracts Seventeen: Speculating Canada From Coast to Coast. Having my work included in a Tesseracts anthology was totally a bucket list item for me, and you can bet that now that I’ve done it once, I very much want to do it again, and again, and again 🙂

I woke up one morning from an incredibly vivid and stylized dream and I quickly scribbled the words:

I was hiding in my parents’ closet with a friendly lamp who promised to stay the night with me, and Laura, a battle-scarred doll of my mother’s.”

I had so many ideas for this story based on that dream, ideas that involved dragons, witches, goblins and rats. It took me a very long time to mentally construct the story, cutting out several of the original elements until only the strongest remained. It took me even longer to be brave enough to put my pen to paper and start to write — I was totally intimidated by the story. I felt like it had the potential to be the best thing I’d written and I didn’t want to screw it up.

Once I finally did write it, it turned out I was right — it was the best story I’d written up until that time. I love it, and I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Tesseracts to check it out for yourself (not to mention all the incredible other authors who I’m sharing a table of contents with!).

In the meantime, Tesseracts Seventeen is officially being released today, and EDGE Publishing is having an online book launch for it. You can check it out here — Bitten By Books Online Launch of Tesseracts Seventeen and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway. Over the next 24 hours or so all the contributors to Tesseracts Seventeen will be popping by to chat, answer questions and all that good stuff so consider popping over to see what’s going on. I was going to say you can also enter by using the Rafflecopter code below… but I’m not 100% sure that comments or questions left on my personal blog will count, so to be 100% safe, pop over to Bitten By Books and comment there. Despite the name, I’m pretty sure none of us will bite 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck winning that Gift Card, and also if you pop over, tell them I sent you. I think they are keeping track LOL

I Miss My Mom

My mother, Sandra McKenzieThe anniversary of my mom’s death happened not so long ago and after much thought I decided not to blog about it… but today has been a hell of a day and I need to vent a little.

You know, mostly I deal well with the fact my mom is gone, I mean, as well as you can, but every once in a while life decides to pick up a stick and just jab it in all my most tender places.

Today was one of those days.

It started with seeing that Mom had given one of my books 5 stars on Goodreads two years ago (because, of course she did) and realizing she could never do that again. Then, because I’m a masochist, I followed the link from her name to her Goodreads profile and started sobbing at the list of books she ‘Wanted to Read’ but now never could.

It just got worse from there.

It’s just so fucking unfair. I miss my mom.

Fuck cancer.

Metastasis Contributor Interview: Michael Kellar

Metastasis Cover - artwork by Jonathan Parrish, Cover design by Carol HightshoeAs part of my efforts to both increase awareness of Metastasis and also allow you a little insight into the people behind the stories, I’m presenting a series of super short interviews with some of the contributors of the anthology. Michael Kellar is one of those contributors. Michael’s story, Oil and Water, is the superhero(ish) story from this collection and is one of my favourites.

Who or what was the inspiration for your story in Metastasis?

Rather than a single source of inspiration, I think that my story evolved from a sense of collective empathy. I was working on the idea of having a young boy possess an unusual ability that was rather nondescript.  I knew I wanted it to be both a little bit tragic and a little bit hopeful at the same time – kind of bittersweet. But it wasn’t until I started to get to know my characters that I realized the exact direct direction it would go. I drew upon my memory of a number of families I had known personally who had been affected by this disease, and I suddenly knew that this would be the core issue. The final line just seemed to leap into my head, and I found that I was then excited to go back and rework everything up to that point.

When it comes to cancer, what gives you hope?

Our track record. We have been highly successful at dealing with smallpox, polio, measles, diphtheria, rubella, mumps, tetanus – and any number of other diseases which have afflicted us. Currently, cancer may be more tenacious, but we will get on top of it.

What do you believe is our greatest obstacle to finding a cure?

Misguided or misplaced efforts.

Not long ago there was an article in the “Washington Post” with the title “You give religions  more than $82.5 billion a year”. It provided the interesting perspective that even if one religion  happens to be true, “it’s undeniable that the majority of church-spending is going to support false doctrines” since no single belief system receives the majority of the funding.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I cannot help but wonder what could be accomplished in the area of searching for a cure for cancer if that annual $82.5 billion were instead devoted to medical research.

There are a lot of good people out there who want to accomplish great things. I just wish more of them would go about it in a different manner.

 

Michael Kellar is a writer, poet, and occasional online bookseller living in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Other than his story in “Metastasis”, his most recent print publication was a horror story appearing in the anthology “Side Show 2: Tales of the Big Top and the Bizarre”. He has also recently had a story accepted for “The Ghoul Saloon” and a poem accepted for “Gothic Blue Book III”.

 

Metastasis is available at:

Amazon.com
Paperback – $14.95
Kindle – $6.95

Kobo
ePub – $6.95

Smashwords — Use coupon code LM63L in order to receive 25% off your order
ePub – $6.95
Kindle – $6.95
PDF – $6.95

Createspace — Use coupon code TGERED9J in order to receive 25% off your order
Paperback – $14.95

All coupons codes expire on October 31, 2013.