Kristina Wojtaszek

Scarecrow Contributor Interview: Kristina Wojtaszek

Scarecrow Blog Tour

Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I (and Magnus) conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Kristina Wojtaszek. Kristina also had a story in Fae and you can check out her Fae contributor interview here 🙂

Interview with Kristina Wojtaszek

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

I crack open the bottle of turmeric as I head out into the night and almost choke in the overpowering aroma.  And then I have a sudden, odd thought.  I have no memory of his scent.  Standing so close, I should have caught a whiff of coffee or soap, a hint of deodorant, maybe a haze of stale cigarettes… something.  But as I wheel through a leaf pile in the parking lot, it hits me; the dry, clean scent of leaves.  Leaves and apples.  He smelled of nothing but autumn.

There’s a Japanese God who is represented as a scarecrow. It is all-knowing but cannot move. If you could know any one thing, what would it be? How to end suffering for all.  I know it sounds like a beauty-pageant answer, but I say it in all seriousness.

Would it be worth learning the answer if you were forever stuck in one place afterward? It would only be worth learning if I could share my wisdom somehow.  I’d take the lifeless limbs and unblinking eyes of a scarecrow if people came to me, and by some magic or another I could share with them what I had learned.  But if I had to keep it to myself and watch with a sewn-on grin as humanity continued to suffer, completely unable to help?  That sounds a lot like what I envision God to be; a silent pillar of love stuffed to the bursting, and tormented by us, so oblivious.  No.  No, I would not want be God.

If you were a scarecrow, what would you look like? What would you be stuffed with? I’d be little more than an old coat hung on a tree branch, a bit of wild hair woven into a bird’s nest, a lost shoe gone to seed, a thread of poetry in the breeze.  There’d be no stuffing, nothing to me, really; just a handful of scattered hopes, an everlasting love of nature, and the memory of a warm smile carried by those who’ve know me.  Isn’t that all any of us are?

Do you think you’d make a good scarecrow? Why? I don’t think I’d fit the typical job description, no.  I’m not a very scary person, other than my hair first thing in the morning, and I’d be more apt to whip out a pair of binoculars and my Guide to North American Birds than to try to frighten anything off!

What is it about scarecrows that inspired you to write about them? Loneliness.  What it would mean to be a stuffed doll made to look like what you can’t possibly be, waving ragged arms in the wind and watching little winged beings fly away in fright, while you slowly and pathetically fall apart.  Dear God, that sounds a bit like my own life right now—perhaps it was more inspiration than I knew!

As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂

Mr. Yegpie: It would be cool to know where all these stories came from, I mean geographically – like I think I could tell who was from Edmonton and who was from Vancouver! (Where do you live, and did that affect your story/poem at all?) Wyoming, where I lived for almost nine years, probably affected the setting of A Fist Full of Straw.  The strange thing about much of Wyoming is that it’s high desert country with little more than rock, buttes and dry dirt, and yet, in town, everyone has their own little patch of yard surrounded by an old picket fence, within which some grow astonishing gardens.  I could never manage it, myself—the soil eroded away from the bedrock below and never stayed in one place, and I found most plants are far too demanding to thrive in an area where there is no shade, almost no humidity, and what natural soil there is is often so alkaline it emits this salty crust of absolute infertility.  But there they’d be, these master gardeners with their roses and ripe tomatoes, always with a sprinkler going and wide smile, like there was simply nothing to the magic they made.  So I guess that’s where the witch’s garden came from.

Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?) There was no single fairy tale that inspired my story, nor any specific character from myth, but witches in general and the tricky nature of life and magic, surely played a big role in A Fist Full of Straw.  But mostly my idea came from feeling quite inhuman myself, and wondering how others might feel if stripped of their humanity, yet still alive and aware.  Both the woman who has grown apart from her role as wife and mother, with a yawning need to find her own, separate identity, and the scarecrow himself are feeling less than human in this story.

Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?) I’m not sure if I have a favorite corvid, they’re all pretty awesome, but I do remember the first time I saw a black-billed magpie in Wyoming.  With that long, elegant tail, I thought I was seeing a tropical bird!

Kristina Wojtaszek

Kristina Wojtaszek grew up as a woodland sprite and mermaid, playing around the shores of Lake Michigan. At any given time she could be found with live snakes tangled in her hair and worn out shoes filled with sand. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management as an excuse to spend her days lost in the woods with a book in hand. Now a mother of two little tricksters and their menagerie of small beasts, she continues to conjure bits of fantasy during the rare spell of silence. Her fairy tales, ghost stories, poems and YA fiction have been published by World Weaver Press, Far Off Places and Sucker Literary Magazine.  Follow her @KristinaWojtasz or on her blog, Twice Upon a Time.

Scarecrow edited by Rhonda Parrish

Amazon: (CA) (UK) (US)
Kobo: (CA) (US)
Direct From the Publisher: World Weaver Press

Glitch Rain

The Sports Thing

In the spirit of writing as a team sport, Alex Livingston reached out to me about the release of his cyberpunk novella, Glitch Rain. I am excited to help shine a spotlight on the release of Glitch Rain, and also to give Alex a spot to talk about the sports thing 🙂

The Sports Thing

A guest post by Alex Livingston

Can we talk about the sports thing? And how I’m obsessed with fake sports, but can’t stand real ones?

I can’t be the only one who can talk Quidditch strategy but isn’t sure how many players are on a basketball team.  Name three podracers? Easy. Name three NASCAR drivers? Umm….  I don’t remember the names of the characters in BSG, but I remember Pyramid.

You’ll forgive me a little hyperbole; I have a passing familiarity with the more popular sports, and spent a few years actually watching hockey. Like on television and everything. But I’m not going to tell you how many hours I spent playing the quote-unquote minigame Blitzball in Final Fantasy X, managing my team and drafting players with a pragmatism and alacrity I wish I could apply to other parts of my life.

So what’s wrong with me? Here, presented for my entertainment in actual real life, are highly-trained professionals working for teams which have histories far broader and more fascinating than any fictional sport. And yet I’d rather reread the chapters about Welters in The Magicians.*

My best guess is it’s in the presentation. Just as drama is life with the dull bits cut out, Quidditch is hockey/cricket shown to me in mere minutes. No endless droning commentary, no low-scoring games, no sigh-inducing stoppages in play.

Also, we’re all pretty much on the same page when it comes to fictional sports. There’s only so much one can know, unlike actual for-real sports. We’ve got what’s in the books, and that’s it. That well only goes so deep. So no feelings of inferiority for not being able to name anyone from the starting lineup of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers.

Of course, there’s flying in Quidditch. And magic. And weird words to nerd out about**. And wizards interfering from the stands. And all that good stuff. Maybe if I call the endzone “the grim plain of the Obsidian Windprinces”….

Now Akuba, the main character of my novella Glitch Rain, she lives in a fairly sports-free environment. She knows who the big players are, but only if you define ‘big’ by their status as socialites and party people. She has certainly been hired by the managers of a few players to hack the feeds and make sure no pictures from their A-list escapades end up on instagram. But you won’t find her sitting in the stands of a AAA baseball game any time soon. Unless you’re buying the drinks.

And if you invite me to a AAA baseball game, please don’t be mad when I play Final Fantasy: Record Keeper on my phone.

(P.S. Don’t get me started about fictional games (as opposed to sports). Sabaac vs. Pazaak? 3D chess? The deck of cards used in Wicked Grace? Whatever that board game is in DA: Inquisition? Settle in. This is gonna be a long one.)

*Headcanon: the kings and queens of Fillory play Welters while they’re there, living out old rivalries and trying their skills against the magical beasts. Eliot tries to convince a giant to join his team at one of their month-long tourneys, but Janet threatens to show the court an accurate picture of how Eliot dressed first year and the king relents.

**The quaffle is leather without any seams? How is that possible? OH WAIT MAGIC.

GLITCH RAIN

Glitch Rain
This high-speed cyberpunk novella is sure to be an adventure you don’t want to miss.
Akuba is a low-level hacker for the city’s wealthy, making just enough to keep her bills paid and her booze flowing. Her job is to scrub the social feeds for faces who don’t want to be seen, hanging out at parties to guard the elite from errant social media statuses and incriminating photo posts. Not the most glamorous job, but she’s getting by. When an old debt comes due early suddenly she is the one who needs to keep her face out of the drones’ omnipresent eyes. Thrown into the high-stakes world of international cybercrime, Akuba will have to have to outmaneuver unlimited surveillance, high-tech con artists, and an international hacker kingpin if she wants to survive. Every identity has a price in Glitch Rain.
Corvidae Text

Corvidae Contributor Interview: Michael S. Pack

CORVIDAE blog tour banner

Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that Magnus and I conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Michael S. Pack. In addition to having a story in Corvidae, Michael also had a story in Metastasis — the anthology I edited to benefit cancer research.

Interview with Michael S. Pack

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

That morning, Chris hadn’t woken up. The nurses mumbled answers that dodged the only question that still mattered. Later, a doctor would stop by on rounds to explain what Lorraine already knew. A machine alarmed. She turned to look, but it was routine. Some drug run its course. A bag that needed flushing. A kink in the IV line. Nothing that could make a difference. A nurse came and went.

When she turned back to the window, she almost fell out of her chair in shock. A large black raven perched on the stone ledge. It cocked its head such that one black eye stared through the glass. Its beak, a hard, black finger length, opened as it quorked a sound that made Lorraine think of water drops. It could see her through the glass, but it showed no fear. It quorked again. As suddenly as it had appeared, it launched into flight. The great pinions of its wings beat the air.

The bird was gone, and she was alone again with her dying son. 

What is it about corvids that inspired you to write about them? Ravens have interesting ambiguity when they appear in myths and folklore. They can represent wisdom, but also destruction. They can be messengers of the gods or forerunners of war—or both. They create, but they also play the role of the trickster. The uncanny intelligence of ravens has led people around the world to imbue them with supernal, almost mystical, cunning. And, in many myths the raven literally exists in a state of ambiguity: a part of our “real” world as well as a part of the spirit world. 

Was there one corvid characteristic you wanted to highlight more than others? The sound of their wings in flight.

If you were a corvid, what would you build your nest out of? Twigs. I’m all for tradition.

What’s your favourite ‘shiny’ thing? Firefly. 😉

As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂

Mr. Yegpie: It would be cool to know where all these stories came from, I mean geographically – like I think I could tell who was from Edmonton and who was from Vancouver! (Where do you live, and did that affect your story/poem at all?I live on the north coast of British Columbia, and ravens are abundant here. There’s one that hangs out around our house who likes to talk to the cats. Not sure what he says. Location mattered in one other way as well. The hospital in the story is loosely inspired by St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?A few years back, I saw the aurora borealis for the first time. The image stayed with me, and I ended up reading some on myths around the northern lights. The thread of myth where ravens use the lights as a gateway to the spirit world resonated with me. That I first saw the aurora while my son was recovering from a lung transplant has some obvious implications for my story.

Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?I’ve met ravens and crows, whiskey jacks and jays of all kinds, but never a magpie. I couldn’t do a magpie proper justice in a story. I would have to say I favour ravens.

 

Michael S. Pack was born in the Deep Southern US, but he fled to Canada after an encounter with a particularly fierce mosquito swarm. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies, most recently Missing Monarchs (Fox Spirit 2014) and Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse (Exile Editions 2014). He is currently working on an epic fantasy novel. He sometimes posts on twitter @Michael_Pack and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/M.Pack.Author

Cover for CORVIDAE. Design by Eileen Wiedbrauk

Available Direct from the Publisher:
World Weaver Press

Or Find it Online:
Amazon
Goodreads
Kobo

BEST (1)

The Struggle IS Real

BEST (1)

Sometimes this thing we do, it’s freaking hard.

And it’s lonely. And depressing. And sometimes it kicks your ass so hard you begin to wonder why you do it. And the next time it hits you you wonder if you should stay down.

Or at least, that’s how it is for me.

Maybe for you too? If so, I want you to know that you’re not alone.

For me, it’s a near constant struggle. Against the cursor blinking at me from an empty Word document. Against an industry that is broken. Against my own demons (depression, self-doubt). Against that bottom line that just. doesn’t. move.

And it’s lonely. Because no matter how many friends you have and how much support they try and give you, in the end it’s just you and the book/story/poem.

When I first moved in with Jo 15(?) years ago, we lived in a pretty rough neighbourhood. There was a crack house across the street and the house beside it was home to a constantly changing number of working girls. We’d go for walks and I’d pick up needles from the grass beside the elementary school. Our street was blocked off by police cars more than once. It was… unsavoury. The house next door was exceptionally run down, and the man who lived there had obviously had a difficult life. He was poor, I’m pretty sure he was an alcoholic, and he worked fucking hard.

That dude, from sunup to sundown he was working. He’d be shoveling bottles into the back of his truck to take to the depot for a refund. Or sorting through various metals to sell for reclamation. Or–you get the idea. He worked his ass off… but he never seemed to get anywhere.

There are days when I feel very much like that man.

…and then there are days like today.

Today I hit my word goal for the day. Yay writer me!

And today this happened:

Yay editor me!

And this happened:

Yay editor & publisher me!

And it made it easier to remember why I do this thing I do. It’s not for the bottom line that never moves, it’s to make good art. And maybe make some people happy along the way.

…but sometimes? It’s still freaking hard.

21852415405_e98784ffc3_z

 

Photographs by me. Model in the top one is my niece Jayde.
Scarecrow-Text

Scarecrow Contributor Interview: Holly Schofield

Scarecrow Blog Tour

Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I (and Magnus) conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Holly Schofield. I met Holly when we were on a panel together at When Words Collide, and I’ve shared a table of contents with her in Tesseracts 17 but this was the first time I got to work with her directly 🙂

Interview with Holly Schofield

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

I pictured the scene as a crow might see it: the scarecrow high-stepping under the moon, tails flapping, twisting like the hepcat he would become. NBC’s Palmolive Hour alive with sweet jazz, the hopeful scent of ripening tomatoes, and the moonlight playing among the carrot fronds. The scarecrow tap dancing madly to “California, Here I Come” as it blared out the window of the farmhouse he was never, ever invited into. 

What is it about scarecrows that inspired you to write about them? Scarecrows held no appeal for me at all, the dusty, frumpy old things. That is, until I read Rhonda’s suggestion of a _steampunk_ scarecrow. Then I was off and running, like a mouse across a cornfield.

As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂

Mr. Yegpie: It would be cool to know where all these stories came from, I mean geographically – like I think I could tell who was from Edmonton and who was from Vancouver! (Where do you live, and did that affect your story/poem at all?I come from a province filled with thousand-acre farms and not a scarecrow to be seen.

Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?I had read Rhonda’s blog suggesting steampunk scarecrows immediately after I had randomly read about dance marathons during the Depression. The two ideas synched together like dance partners fox-trotting across the floor.

Holly Schofield’s work has appeared in many publications including Lightspeed, Crossed Genres, and Tesseracts. For more of her work, see http://hollyschofield.wordpress.com/

Scarecrow edited by Rhonda Parrish

Amazon: (CA) (UK) (US)
Kobo: (CA) (US)
Direct From the Publisher: World Weaver Press

CORVIDAE blog tour banner

Corvidae Contributor Interview: Adria Laycraft

CORVIDAE blog tour banner

Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I (and Magnus) conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Adria Laycraft. I met Adria through Fae, and my friendship and professional working relationship with her are one of the best things to have come out of that anthology.

Interview with Adria Laycraft

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

“It was a stone crow that saved me,” she said, remembering that awful final night. “I hit him with it, in the head. He thought it was a raven when he gave it as a gift.” The idea struck her as funny, and she laughed. Raven laughed too, tossing his head back and pointing his beak at the sky.

What is it about corvids that inspired you to write about them? I love birds in general, but corvids hold a special place in my heart for their intelligence and tenacity. I think they appear in so many mythologies and legends because they are worthy of it!

Was there one corvid characteristic you wanted to highlight more than others? I wanted a modern riff off old myths, highlighting Raven’s trickster ways, his laziness, and the fact he is seen as Creator in so many West Coast stories.

If you were a corvid, what would you build your nest out of? The feathers of my foe. Mwhahahaha…

What’s your favourite ‘shiny’ thing? As many are aware, I collect crystals and minerals. They are my ‘shiny’ treasures, my precious.

As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂

Mr. Yegpie: It would be cool to know where all these stories came from, I mean geographically – like I think I could tell who was from Edmonton and who was from Vancouver! (Where do you live, and did that affect your story/poem at all?I live in Calgary, but my heart lies on the West Coast of Vancouver Island where my story is set, in the village of Ucluelet.

Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?My story was inspired by various Raven stories of the Pacific Northwest people, especially the Nuu-chah-nulth.

Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?It’s hard to choose between my beloved magpie friends, the noisy but entertaining jays, the wonderful crow girls I’ve met, and the magnificent raven characters I’ve known. Mr. Yegpie, we are all family, I cannot choose a favourite!

 

Adria Laycraft reading from her story, Water Sense, at the Fae launch at WWC 2014

Adria has stories in IGMS, the Third Flatiron Anthology Abbreviated Epics, FAE, OnSpec Magazine, Tesseracts Sixteen, James Gunn’s Ad Astra, Neo-opsis Magazine, and Hypersonic Tales, among others. She is a graduate of the Odyssey Writers Workshop and a member of the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association (IFWA). Adria is also an award-nominated editor. For more details visit adrialaycraft.com.

Cover for CORVIDAE. Design by Eileen Wiedbrauk

Available Direct from the Publisher:
World Weaver Press

Or Find it Online:
Amazon
Goodreads
Kobo

Virginia

Scarecrow Contributor Interview: Virginia Carraway Stark

Scarecrow Blog Tour

Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I (and Magnus) conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Virginia Carraway Stark. A writer so dedicated that even being hit by a car barely slows her productivity!

Interview with Virginia Carraway Stark

Please share a short excerpt from your story/stories:

“Edith watched them and fed them her scraps.  She no longer had the eyes of a young mother.  She had aged along with the year and she watched the pigs with the same canny appraisal that the magpies and crows had watched us plant our seeds that spring.  She was the crone now and barren. We must prepare for the maiden of spring together, we must make the path rich and clear for her young, bare feet when she awoke in the growing light of spring.

The next day she brought the kitchen knife with her.  It was long and sharp.  The blade curved inward from being repeatedly being sharpened year after year.  It was the same one she had cut the gourd’s free from their vines with.”

There’s a Japanese God who is represented as a scarecrow. It is all-knowing but cannot move. If you could know any one thing, what would it be? This is a difficult question for me because I don’t know who I would be getting the answer from and I don’t really believe that many questions have definitive, finite answers, so a lot of this would be down to the source. I guess I don’t really believe in answers being just handed to you. Answers are found by searching and otherwise you risk the answers of oracles that could make sense in a thousand different ways. If I can’t find an answer for myself I question whether or not I would be able to understand the answer. Knowledge does not bestow wisdom.

Would it be worth learning the answer if you were forever stuck in one place afterward? And from this, perhaps you can see why I am so cautious to choose a question to have answered. ‘Free’ knowledge so often comes with a price. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice my freedom of movement and I can’t think of any question or answer worth getting for such knowledge.

If you were a scarecrow, what would you look like? What would you be stuffed with? If I were a scarecrow I would like to a dressed in my grandmother’s gardening clothes and wearing her sunhat. I would be smiling, but sadly and somberly because fundamentally I have been reduced to the role of being a passive observer and I would be stranded from helping or changing the course of things. I would want to be smiling so that the people who saw me would smile back and know that someone cares about them. I would likely be stuffed with corn husks, or I would hope I would be. They smell lovely and are soft but firm.

Do you think you’d make a good scarecrow? Why? I think I would be alright as a scarecrow but I think a lot of things would make me sad, in particular frost and winter and not being able to run or swim. I would enjoy watching the trees and the garden and unfortunately for the crops, I would love watching the birds. That would be big failing in a scarecrow and it pushes me more into the direction of: No, not scarecrow material.

What is it about scarecrows that inspired you to write about them? Scarecrows fall into a similar category to dolls, they look like us but they don’t have souls or life of their own. This makes them eerie and because they are stationary, they also see no end of things. They are witnesses to more of our lives than we might be comfortable with and at the same time they have nothing to do but sit and ponder what they have seen. Who know what conclusions or attachments they might make. In Edith and I the scarecrow is drawn to Edith because she is his goddess. She comes and goes as she pleases and she decrees when it is time for the harvest and time for the sacrifices to nature. Like many ‘goddesses’ she doesn’t realize the sort of attention and devotion that she has created and she is left vulnerable to being courted or stalked.

As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂

Mr. Yegpie: It would be cool to know where all these stories came from, I mean geographically – like I think I could tell who was from Edmonton and who was from Vancouver! (Where do you live, and did that affect your story/poem at all?) I live in Northern British Columbia and I feel that the connection to the weather and the intensity of the seasons makes autumn a poignant time of year. I think that if you were a scarecrow it would be a frightening and intense time, all the more so for how long and deep the freezes are.

Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?) My grandmother inspired my poem. She loved the garden and I learned so much from helping her in the garden when I was little. She always treated her scarecrow with such dignity and respect that I wanted to show the story from her scarecrow’s perspective as I imagined it. I always thought that he would be in love with her. After all, she was his mother and would be the only woman who dressed him and cared for him when he was injured. If he was damaged or knocked over she would mend or repair him or put him back up on his post. That’s a strange but romantic relationship.

Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?) My favorite corvid is the blue jay. I had a stellar jay land on my hand and eat from it and I’ve been enchanted by them ever since. I’ve also had a lot of interactions with magpies and crows and ravens. I like the crows the best because they will often have voices and speak to me. Maybe if more magpies were willing to have a conversation they would be my favorite.

 

Virginia

Virginia Carraway Stark started her writing career with three successful screenplays and went on to write speculative fiction as well as writing plays and for various blogs. She has written for several anthologies and three novels as well. Her novel, ‘Dalton’s Daughter’ is available now through Amazon and Starklight Press. ‘Detachment’s Daughter’ and ‘Carnival Fun’ are coming later this year. You can find her on Twitter @tweetsbyvc, on Facebook https://Facebook.com/virginiacarrawaystark and on the web: www.virginiastark.com

 

Scarecrow edited by Rhonda Parrish

Amazon: (CA) (UK) (US)
Kobo: (CA) (US)
Direct From the Publisher: World Weaver Press

Corvidae Text

Corvidae Contributor Interview: Leslie Van Zwol

CORVIDAE blog tour banner

Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I (and Magnus) conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Leslie Van Zwol. Leslie is only beginning to build up a publication history but trust me when I say you really wanna keep your eye on her writing career because she is going places. And I’m not just saying that because she’s my friend, though I’m proud to call her such 🙂

Interview with Leslie Van Zwol

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

Suddenly the sound of hundreds of wings beating in unison is behind me. I have a brief surge of courage before I decide courage is a bad idea and dive into a juniper bush, holding my breath and hoping this camouflage isn’t as pathetic as it seems. The streetlights flicker and go dark. Shadows race past me converging into a solitary point as he materializes on the sidewalk. I watch the Nachtkrapp rise out of the darkness, his death-black sockets burning through the juniper bush.

He is at least three times my size. Matte feathers draping around him like a thick woollen cloak; he cocks his ebony skull to the side watching me as I free myself from the bush.

A sharp curved beak blends flawlessly into the coal-coloured bone like some macabre embellishment from the Devil’s wardrobe. He reaches one of his four bony talons towards me. “One for sorrow… six for gold.” His voice hisses like burning bark.

What is it about corvids that inspired you to write about them? Corvids are too smart for their own good, and their high intelligence often comes out in mischievous ways – this is what I love about them. You often see a group of corvids picking on a lone dog, a bird of prey, a human, or even a wolf. They just don’t care about anything. They lack the natural fear you see in most species. They are the embodiment of the ‘idle hands’ warning – too smart, too cunning, too bored!

Was there one corvid characteristic you wanted to highlight more than others? I wanted to highlight their faults and their talents. Corvids are notoriously resourceful and fearless, but they are not very physically strong. I really wanted to show how they use their skillset to get around their weaknesses – not much slows a corvid down.

Do you think you were successful? I think I did a good job… well I hope so.

If you were a covid, what would you build your nest out of? Anything I could find, but I would lean towards the side of ‘things that did not stink’. No garbage. I would use mint gum as an adhesive, and find the prettiest accessories and add some bling around the edges.

What’s your favourite ‘shiny’ thing? I am a fan of sequins and glitter, but I don’t like them in high concentration, more like a tasteful sprinkle. I am most assuredly not a corvid.

As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂

Mr. Yegpie: It would be cool to know where all these stories came from, I mean geographically – like I think I could tell who was from Edmonton and who was from Vancouver! (Where do you live, and did that affect your story/poem at all?Well first off, the story came from my vivid imagination. Which, is currently located in southern Alberta. More specifically Lethbridge.

Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?How my story was inspired: I really wanted to highlight what a magpie would be if he was a person. His flaws (oh, so many flaws) and strengths. That preliminary idea grew into my grubby, fast-talking, bear-poking, adaptable, shiny-collecting detective. I also wanted to use the traditional magpie poem in a murder/mystery/fantasy setting. Mash those ideas together, blend for 3-5 minutes, then bake for an hour on 350 degrees and you have ‘A Mischief of Seven’.

Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?My favorite corvid is a magpie. Although, I have this strange image of the corvids of the world uniting and taking over the Earth…. Just saying.

Leslie Van Zwol is an avid genre writer who enjoys adding a dash of grit to mystical worlds. She spends her days working for justice to support her nighttime writing habit, and is always on the lookout for her next adventure or inspiration. She also attributes the accuracy of this story to the noisy magpies that were constantly squawking outside of her window during the writing process. (Although the crows continually voiced their objection to the subject matter.)

Cover for CORVIDAE. Design by Eileen Wiedbrauk

Available Direct from the Publisher:
World Weaver Press

Or Find it Online:
Amazon
Goodreads
Kobo

Looking Ahead -- My goals for 2016

Goals for 2016

Looking Ahead -- My goals for 2016Each year I set goals for the year to come and share them on my blog here. At the end of each year I assess how well I did in accomplishing my goals and set new ones. It’s an important thing for me, this setting and sharing of goals. Setting them and having them written down in concrete language really helps me regain my focus when I lose it (which is often), evaluate progress, get things done and also, look back over time and see a bigger picture of things I’ve accomplished. Sharing them on my blog here with you is equally important because it provides a sense of accountability which can be a huge motivation at times when I need it most.

Over the past couple years my goal lists have grown and grown becoming quite long and complicated. So, too, has my career when you count in the things I don’t talk about here (such as freelance work and ghostwriting). It was kind of beginning to feel overwhelming, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what I’m going for so I think it’s time to simplify a wee bit. Thus…

My Goals for 2016

  • Speed up my blog/website
  • Write the Haunted Hospitals book with Mark Leslie.
    • I’ve begun working on this in February. My goal is to have the first draft of my contribution done by the end of April. I’ve never written anything like this before though, so I’m unsure how reasonable this goal is.
  • Announce D is for… anthology and prepare it for an early 2017 release
  • Release C is for Chimera on April 19th
    • Promote it sufficiently to break the sales numbers for A is for Apocalypse (based on the first three months after release)
  • Release Sirens (July?)
    • Promote it sufficiently to break the earn out its advance within the first year. Bonus points if it’s in the first six months.
  • Attend the ‘Despite Excuses’ writing retreat in California this July
  • Take August off. With the exception of attending When Words Collide… which is work but also isn’t :-p
  • Write the first draft of Deadmonton (My Winterknight Towers book), beginning in November and using NaNoWriMo as a springboard to get started
  • Hire an editor for Shadows and prep it for release
  • Host a December blog tour to celebrate the holidays and benefit the food bank.

I’ve also got several projects that are pending or in limbo right now including a brand new anthology series (Keep your fingers crossed for this one, especially!), three stand-alone anthologies I’d be co-editing (with three different people) and two collaborative poetry projects. I’ve deliberately built some empty spaces into my project calendar for the year to address these projects. Also, you just never know when I’m going to be distracted by something shiny and need to take a little detour for a while 😉

Scarecrow Blog Tour

Scarecrow Contributor Interview: Jane Yolen

Scarecrow Blog Tour

Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I (and Magnus) conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with the amazing Jane Yolen. I was honoured to include poems by Jane in both Corvidae and Scarecrow and you can check out her Corvidae contributor interview here.

Interview with Jane Yolen


There’s a Japanese God who is represented as a scarecrow. It is all-knowing but cannot move. If you could know any one thing, what would it be? 
All the poems of Emily Dickinson so I could tell myself one a day while hanging on my pole. 1800 poems, 1800 days.

If you were a scarecrow, what would you look like? What would you be stuffed with? Skinnier than now, stuffed with leaves from old books.

Do you think you’d make a good scarecrow? Why? No—I have little patience.

What is it about scarecrows that inspired you to write about them? Crows.

You have work in both anthologies, which came first? The corvid or the scarecrow? Corvid first.

As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂

Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?Sorry—but it’s crows for me. Though I love the look of magpies strutting across my Scottish lawn.

JaneJane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America”(Newsweek) is the author of well over 350 books, including OWL MOON, THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC, and HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT. Her books and stories have won an assortment of awards–two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among many others. She has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the World Fantasy Assn. Lifetime Achievement Award, Science Fiction Poetry Association Grand Master Award, Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, Kerlan Medal from the University of Minnesota, the du Grummond Medal from Un. of Southern Missisippi, the Smith College Alumnae Medal, and New England Pubic Radio Arts and Humanities Award . Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates. Her website is: www.janeyolen.com

Scarecrow edited by Rhonda Parrish

Amazon: (CA) (UK) (US)
Kobo: (CA) (US)
Direct From the Publisher: World Weaver Press