2016 Eligibility Post

If you are nominating for industry awards this year please consider the following works of mine which I published in 2016:

WomenInPracticalArmorShort Story:

Sharper Than a Griffin’s Claw, Women in Practical Armor, March 2016

Where I come from they say there are a finite number of souls and after death each goes to a great repository to await another vessel to fill. By that reasoning, if one were to live forever, they would encounter the same souls over and over again…

Anthology / Related Works:

SIRENS -- cover by Jonathan C. ParrishSirens, World Weaver Press, April 2016

Sirens are beautiful, dangerous, and musical, whether they come from the sea or the sky. Greek sirens were described as part-bird, part-woman, and Roman sirens more like mermaids, but both had a voice that could captivate and destroy the strongest man. The pages of this book contain the stories of the Sirens of old, but also allow for modern re-imaginings, plucking the sirens out of their natural elements and placing them at a high school football game, or in wartime London, or even into outer space.

Featuring stories by Kelly Sandoval, Amanda Kespohl, L.S. Johnson, Pat Flewwelling, Gabriel F. Cuellar, Randall G. Arnold, Micheal Leonberger, V. F. LeSann, Tamsin Showbrook, Simon Kewin, Cat McDonald, Sandra Wickham, K.T. Ivanrest, Adam L. Bealby, Eliza Chan, and Tabitha Lord, these siren songs will both exemplify and defy your expectations.

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. ParrishC is for Chimera, Poise and Pen Publishing, April 2016

This installment of Rhonda Parrish’s alphabet anthology series asks skilled storytellers to write around the theme of chimera. The resulting tales are part fable, part poem, part dream. But like any chimera, the parts make up a greater whole.

Blend reality with fantasy. Mesh science fiction with mystery. Mix history with what should have been. They are all chimera.

A shadow tells a tale of schoolyard bullies. A long-vanished monster returns from the cold dark. Make-up makes up a life. Alchemy, Atlantis, and apocalypse. These 26 tales bring both chaos and closure to dark and elusively fantastic geographies.

 

If you are qualified to nominate for awards (of any flavour) and you’d like a copy of any of these works in order to read and consider them, please email me. I will be more than happy to provide what I can.

Servants of Fate

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Wendy Sparrow has a sweet holiday treat for you. Her Servants of Fate series — three paranormal romance titles — is available today! These are three PG-rated romance stories which each feature a different one of Father Time’s hunky (but kinda clueless) sons.

As servants of Fate, Father Time’s sons must sacrifice a mortal’s lifetime on behalf of humanity before each year ends. It’s simpler if they don’t get involved, as their immortality is a barrier to relationships and to understanding the emotions of those whose lives end in a blink, especially if these time holders have a hand in it. Servants of Fate pass in and out of the lives of those around them, never interacting, until a different type of fate steps in. They can stop time, but love will leave them powerless.

The series is available for one low price from Amazon or, if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited you can read them for free!

Get them now!

Dear Santa,

Santa For the past several years I’ve written a letter to Santa Claus on my blog that includes a wishlist of gifts. This is not an actual wishlist that I want my friends or readers to buy me things from it’s just meant to be fun :)

Dear Santa,

This year has been rough. Really, really rough. But I’ve tried my best to be good — actively worked really hard at it, actually. If I’m not on your ‘Nice’ list this year, you really need to get a new list-maker. I mean, have you seen some of the ‘Naughty’ people out there in the world? Okay, I know, I know, comparing myself to others is not good and could easily lead to my name being put right alongside those people I’m judging. It’s hard, Santa, but I get it. Still, I hope I’m on your ‘Nice’ list because I have a few things I’d really like from you this year.

  • The Fairy Tale — this is a course offered through The Carterhaugh School and though there is no reasonable way for me to make time in my life to take this course, I want to. And given the subject matter, maybe it being nearly impossible for me to pull it off makes it even more appropriate that I do it? Think about it… 🙂
  • A Mysterious Package — Any of them! They all look so amazing! I really wanted to get the Filigree in Shadow one during their kickstarter (I suspect the object will be a camera-type thing) but that was pretty expensive. The ones on the website seem to be somewhat more reasonably priced, though still far from cheap. But still… it’s an experience!
  • A Big Wall Calendar — something like the one I linked would be great, but I’m not too picky. I just need something to help supplement the white board that keeps me sane.
  • I didn’t get to donate as much to Fauna this year as I like to do. If you could give them a donation on my behalf that would be awesome. I really appreciate the work they do and they could definitely use all the support they can get.
  • Finally, five years ago I said, “I could also really use some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done.” and yup, you guessed it. That’s still on the list for this year.

Thank you, Santa! Happy Ho Ho!

Rhonda

FIRE!

You’ve probably seen this — I signal boosted the crap out of it all over social media when Tyche made the official announcement — but in case you haven’t, I am excited to share with you the official call for submissions for book one of my brand new elemental anthology series — Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns.

War with the dragon on castle

Fire: Elemental Anthologies #1

 

Tyche Books and Rhonda Parrish are proud to announce a brand new elemental anthology series, and to kick things off they are opening to submissions for the first anthology in the series—Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns.

The ability for people to control (to some extent at least) fire has long been held as one of the major events that contributed to human evolution, but when fire eludes or escapes our control it is also one of the most destructive forces on earth. Associated with passion, power, transformation and purification, fire is a ferocious element with an unquenchable appetite.

We want to explore the many facets of this beautifully furious element and the creatures associated with it so Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns will be filled with stories about every kind of fiery creature you can imagine, not only those listed in the subtitle. We’re looking for phoenixes, ifrits, salamanders, lava monsters and fiery beasts no one has ever heard of before. And of course this anthology will not be complete without at least one demon, dragon, and djinn!

Rights and compensation: Payment: Flat fee of $50.00 CAD and a paperback copy of the anthology. In exchange we are seeking first world rights in English and exclusive right to publish in print and electronic format for six months after publication date, after which publisher retains nonexclusive right to continue to publish for the life of the anthology.

Open submission period: June 1, 2017 – August 15, 2017

Length: Under 7,500 words

No simultaneous or multiple submissions.

Submission method: Submittable! You will be able to upload your story on the Fire Submission page.

Expected Publication Date: Summer 2018

D is for Dinosaur Giveaway

dino500x750I’m giving away a handful of review copies of D is for Dinosaur. In case you missed it and don’t know what D is for Dinosaur is all about:

For the fourth installment of Rhonda Parrish’s Alphabet Anthologies, contributors were challenged to write about dinosaurs. The resulting twenty-six stories contain widely different interpretations of the dinosaur theme and span the spectrum from literal to metaphoric.

Within these pages stories set in alternate histories, far-flung futures and times just around the corner, dinosaurs whimper and waste away, or roar and rage. People can be dinosaurs, as can ideas, fictions and flesh. Knitted dinosaurs share space with ghostly, genetically engineered and even narcotic ones.

Teenagers must embrace their inner dinosaurs in order to find peace and belonging, a dying woman duels a God in a far future city that echoes aspects of our past, an abused wife accompanies her husband on a hunt for an ancient power and finds more than she could ever have imagined and a girl with wonderful magical powers stumbles across the bones of a giant long-dead lizard. And so much more!

You can enter to win a paperback from Goodreads and/or you can also enter to win an electronic copy from LibraryThing. I can’t link directly to the LT giveaway like I can the Goodreads one, so you’ll have to go to that link and then scroll for it. Sorry :-/

But please do enter, and good luck to you!

 

2016 Advent Ghosts

To quote Loren Eaton from a couple years ago, “Advent Ghosts seeks to recreate the classic British tradition of swapping spooky stories at Yuletide. However, instead of penning longer pieces, we post bite-sized pieces of flash fiction for everyone to enjoy.

Loren has been hosting Advent Ghosts for I dunno how long, but I’ve been participating for a handful of years. It’s one of my favourite holiday traditions. Officially, we’re suppose to write and share drabbles–stories that are exactly 100 words long–to date I have never done this. My stories have varied in length over the years but this one is probably the longest yet at about 1,700 words long. It’s also the first story I’ve ever written that was set in space, or on a spaceship. That was pretty intimidating, I won’t lie–I really like it though, so I hope you will too 🙂 This story does contain sexual violence however, so consider yourself forewarned before reading…

bethlehems

Bethlehem‘s Star

As Christmas feasts went, it wasn’t much —an MRE, dried fruit and instant coffee—but it was the best she could do given the circumstances. She wasn’t supposed to be in orbit—she and her crew were supposed to have  returned to Earth weeks ago so she was lucky there was any food left at all. What was that saying? No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy? Well, no space mission ever survives leaving orbit.

They’d been on their way back to Earth when NASA spotted the debris field. If nothing was done the edge of it would come in contact with Earth and the results planetside would be catastrophic. The ISS was useless in situations like this—they only kept it operational as a floating museum of space exploration so Bethlehem would have to delay their return home, at least for long enough to set up a laser grid.

It wasn’t a difficult job—or it shouldn’t have been—but the whole thing turned into a farce of unbelievable proportions. Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong. First the shielding on the communications system had failed leaving it exposed to any cosmic rays that happened to come along. And apparently they did because it began to malfunction almost immediately, garbling their messages so much that the data they were getting back from Earth became completely unreliable.

Unable to get the information they needed to deploy the laser grid necessitated a EVA. It was Helen’s turn in the rotation but her preparations turned up a leaky air hose in her suit. They didn’t have time to repair it and since suits were custom fit she couldn’t just use another…

 

Helen glanced up at the digital clock on the wall—20:16. She had four more minutes before the ship’s rotation would swing back around and let her see the star—her star. The star shouldn’t exist, wouldn’t exist if Captain Monsef hadn’t done the walk in her place, but he had. And he’d died.

 

With communications down they hadn’t even seen it coming.

Helen had been on the bridge with D.J. when it happened. She saw the whole thing, saw it over and over again whenever she closed her eyes. A scout, a bit of debris that was ahead of the rest, had come out of the black, spinning and twirling like a dreidel. Helen watched it sideswipe the captain, snapping his umbilical to the ship and saw his face as he zoomed by—stiff-jawed and stoic. He knew he was doomed. Maybe he knew, even then, that they all were, but he wasn’t going to die kicking and screaming. That wasn’t his way.

She didn’t see the captain and the boulder tear through Shuttle One. Not with her eyes, anyway. She did see the control panel light up like a Christmas tree as every klaxon on the ship began to scream.

D.J. elbowed her out of the way and began pushing buttons seemingly at random.

“What are you doing?” She’d tried to stay calm—men tended not to listen if she raised her voice. “D.J. what are you—”

D.J. wasn’t even qualified to be on Bethlehem—he’d won some sort of social media contest or something and his inclusion in the ship was his prize—a PR stunt for the space program. Certainly no one had expected him to do anything.

He launched Shuttle One before she could stop him. In his defense, launching Shuttle One was the ship’s suggested protocol to deal with the hole the captain and the asteroid had punched through its hull opening them up to space. An experienced astronaut, however, would have just closed off that section and tried to find a way to save the shuttle and the captain.

She’d shoved D.J. out of the way just as Ramirez entered the bridge. In retrospect, that was probably when D.J. started hating her—the moment another man saw her overpower him and watched her try to correct his mistakes.

By the time the other four crew members had joined them on the bridge she’d stabilized things to the point the sirens had stopped wailing and she’d deployed the laser grid based on the last good coordinates they’d received from Earth before everything went to shit.

Unfortunately it was too late.

The grid did its job. Mostly.

Bethlehem hid beneath its cover and watched it obliterate the debris that passed through it, reducing it to sizes that would burn up in the atmosphere. The grid wasn’t perfect though and a few pieces slipped by on the edges. Helen and the crew could do nothing but watch and hope the Earth-based defenses could take them out.

 

Helen took another bite of leathery apple and looked at the clock again. Two minutes. Two minutes until she’d see her star once more. She and the star were orbiting around each other so she only got to see it every fourteen hours and then only for a few minutes.

 

Difficult decisions had needed to be made. They couldn’t land Bethlehem without comms—they needed to be in touch with ground control. Bethlehem had a nuclear reactor and any failed landing that resulted in a crash could cause a chain reaction that would endanger innumerable people planetside.

The remaining shuttle was operation and small enough that if it crashed it would only kill its passengers but there were seven people on Bethlehem and the shuttle was only designed to fit four. It was possible they could cram five in, but not seven. And they couldn’t just leave Bethlehem unattended in orbit, either.

And so they’d drawn straws. Well, everyone but Helen had. She’d volunteered to stay aboard—she’d been Monsef’s second-in-command so his death meant she was captain now and the captain goes down with their ship. But someone had to stay behind with her.

D.J. was chosen.

Helen suspected the process was rigged, that the rest of the crew was punishing him. Or her. Her cool competence had not earned her any friends on board, and more than once she’d heard them refer to her as a bitch. So maybe D.J. had been left behind as a punishment, maybe it was a message to her, or maybe it was just dumb luck. Whatever the reason it had signed his death certificate.

The shuttle launched without ceremony and then there was nothing Helen and D.J. could do but wait and hope it landed safely. Hope the crew sent up help. Hope rescue came before the food ran out…

Actually, that wasn’t all there was to do. D.J. found another thing—another two things, actually. The first was drinking.

He’d tracked down every liquid with any alcohol content whatsoever, including Smith’s potato homebrew, and spent more time than not totally hammered.

His hair stuck up in all directions, his face was flushed an odd orange colour and he pushed his mouth into a shape that resembled nothing more than an asshole. It might have been comical if not for what came next.

She’d been passing him in the hall on one of her many trips between her quarters and the bridge when he’d slurred something incoherent and groped her, obscenely cupping her crotch.

Shocked, she hadn’t reacted for several full seconds and then, when she did, it was in an explosion of energy. She slapped him hard across the face and pushed away. In the low gravity of the passageway that was enough to send him careening into the doorway of Ramirez’s quarters. The door irised open, D.J. floated through it, and it closed behind him while Helen propelled herself to the bridge.

There, gravity still reigned allowing her to stomp around with much more satisfaction than was possible in the living quarters. How dare he? If she ever saw him again it would be too soon.

Sadly, only a couple hours later he joined her on the bridge. He was leaning against a wall and blathering. He wasn’t making any sense, just rambling randomly about everything and nothing at all. When Helen started to turn her back on him he snatched a femur-sized wrench from where it was Velcroed to the wall and smacked her across the back of the head with it.

 

Helen reached behind her, felt the fist-sized lump that was still there and winced. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only place he’d injured her. She’d woken up striped to the waist with him grunting over her, his hand pawing at her breast, his putrid breath washing over her.

 

She tried to push him off but this time she couldn’t overpower him. He had gravity on his side, superior size, and wasn’t struggling just to remain conscious. Then, her searching hand landed on the wrench he’d struck her with, now forgotten on the floor. She closed her fingers around it and cracked him across the side of the head as hard as she could.

Then it was his turn to be unconscious. And when he woke it wasn’t in the bridge like she had. Oh, hell no. Even the brig was too good for him.

“A tragic accident,” she’d said into the intercom when the cameras showed her he was awake and aware of his predicament. “Just horrible. He must have had too much to drink and stumbled into the airlock…”

No one would believe that story, of course. Too many security protocols had to be overridden for that to be plausible, but Helen didn’t care. Help wasn’t coming from Earth. It had been two weeks now, if someone was coming they would have arrived already. Or signaled. Or something.

Maybe the shuttle had crashed on its way down. Maybe the debris that had slipped past the net had taken out the fleet. Maybe it had taken out the world. If it hadn’t, history would someday show that she, Helen Rosemary Carver, had gone down with her ship… after ridding it of a rat.

 

For now though, she glanced at the clock, in five, four, three, two—there he was.

He’d only been out there for a couple cycles but space was already working its magic on him—freeze-drying his corpse, turning him into a space mummy. He would never rot, but stay up here—a desiccated lump, arms and legs splayed like a starfish with a scream frozen on his face.

She watched him, the star she’d created. Even now when all hope for her, maybe even all hope for mankind, was lost, watching him sit and spin could still make her smile.

END

You can read all the other Advent Ghost stories on Loren’s blog — 2016 Advent Ghosts.

 

Above and Beyond!

giftmasblog-tour

Wow! You guys went above and beyond. My original goal had been $500 and you guys came through in such a phenomenal way that not only did we meet that goal, but we beat it! Thank you SO much! I am ecstatic to tell you that together we raised $521 for the Edmonton Food Bank. Because the food bank has some awesome buying power and is able to stretch each penny they receive to incredibly lengths that $521 works out to 1563 meals for hungry people!

This makes me so proud, I hope you feel it too.

Whatever you did to contribute — donate, spread the word, whatever — thank you. Thank you so much <3

As part of this blog tour I was offering a giveaway of a crocheted throw. Rafflecopter has chosen the winner and it is:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS REBEKAH K.!

 

I’ve emailed you, so if you didn’t get it, check your spam filter.

Everyone else gets a prize too though! I said if we reached our $500 goal I’d throw something else into the prize pot. After giving it some thought I’ve decided to give out a couple paperback books to two more random winners. I let the Rafflecopter choose them and it picked Emeryl and Leslie V. You guys should also check your email 😉

Thank you again to everyone who participated in or contributed to this blog tour. It’s the best Giftmas present I ever could have asked for. Thank you!

And those blog stops again, in case you missed them, are:

Christmas Baking and Gingerbread Bloodshed

Giftmas Bready or Not: Cake Batter White Chocolate Fudge (Microwave)

Food, Glorious Food!

Giftmas Tour 2016

Christmas Lunch 

Snowed in: A Giftmas Guest Blog from Jennifer Crow

Fruitcake and Christmas Wishes

A Place at the Table 

The Worst Thanksgiving Ever

The Weight of Christmas Dinner

A Nontraditional Foodie Christmas

D is for Dinosaur cover reveal

dino500x750

For the fourth installment of Rhonda Parrish’s Alphabet Anthologies, contributors were challenged to write about dinosaurs. The resulting twenty-six stories contain widely different interpretations of the dinosaur theme and span the spectrum from literal to metaphoric.

Within these pages stories set in alternate histories, far-flung futures and times just around the corner, dinosaurs whimper and waste away, or roar and rage. People can be dinosaurs, as can ideas, fictions and flesh. Knitted dinosaurs share space with ghostly, genetically engineered and even narcotic ones.

Teenagers must embrace their inner dinosaurs in order to find peace and belonging, a dying woman duels a God in a far future city that echoes aspects of our past, an abused wife accompanies her husband on a hunt for an ancient power and finds more than she could ever have imagined and a girl with wonderful magical powers stumbles across the bones of a giant long-dead lizard. And so much more!

Features stories by Alexandra Seidel, Pete Aldin, Beth Cato, Michael Kellar, Cory Cone, Simon Kewin, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, C.S. MacCath, KV Taylor, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Michael B. Tager, Gary B. Phillips, Michael M. Jones, L.S. Johnson, Brittany Warman, Hal J. Friesen, Megan Engelhardt, BD Wilson, Michael Fosburg, Jonathan C. Parrish, Suzanne J. Willis, Lynn Hardaker, Amanda C. Davis, Andrew Bourelle, Sara Cleto and Jeanne Kramer-Smyth.

This cover was designed by Jonathan C. Parrish using original artwork by Janice Blaine.

D is for Dinosaur will be available in February 2017. In the meantime, don’t forget to add it to your ‘Want to read’ shelf on Goodreads and LibraryThing!

 

Last Day For Donations!

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Today is the last day to donate to our fundraiser to help the Edmonton Food Bank. That’s the bad news. The good news is that so far we’ve raised $426 of our $500 goal! Whoot whoot!

Because the Food Bank is able to buy food in huge numbers (and they are basically magic) they can turn every $1 into 3 meals for hungry people. That means so far we’ve donated enough for 1,278 meals! I’d really like to push it over to a nice even 1500 though — which is only $74 in donations away. Maybe it’s time to add an extra bit of incentive.

If we reach our $500 goal in addition to awarding someone a crocheted blanked from this:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will… well, I’ll do something else. But I don’t know what. Let’s take a vote shall we?

  1. If we reach our $500 donation goal for this fundraiser I will make D IS FOR DINOSAUR free for the first three days after its release.
  2. If we reach our $500 donation goal for this fundraiser I will choose two extra winners from the Rafflecopter and give them a signed paperback copy of any one of my books.
  3. If we reach our $500 donation goal for this fundraiser I will [insert your suggestion here]

Leave your vote as a comment to this blog post. If When we reach our goal I will read through them and let you know what I’ve decided to go with in Wednesday’s blog post — which is also where I’ll announce the Rafflecopter Winner.

Please go here and donate to help!

 

Between now and then, however, we’ve got lots of food-tastic blog posts for you to check out:

Christmas Baking and Gingerbread Bloodshed

Giftmas Bready or Not: Cake Batter White Chocolate Fudge (Microwave)

Food, Glorious Food!

Giftmas Tour 2016

Christmas Lunch 

Snowed in: A Giftmas Guest Blog from Jennifer Crow

Fruitcake and Christmas Wishes

A Place at the Table 

The Worst Thanksgiving Ever

The Weight of Christmas Dinner

A Nontraditional Foodie Christmas

WOW! While I was typing up this blog post some anonymous awesome person made a donation to take us over the top! We’re at $501! Whoot whoot! So it looks like I WILL be adding something awesome into the prize pot (for lack of a better description), it’s just a question of what! So be sure and vote / leave a suggestion in the comments here. And do consider donating if you can spare even a little bit. Though we’ve met our goal for this fundraiser there are still a lot of hungry people out there who would thank you for your generosity if they could!

giftmasblog-tour-4

Check back Wednesday when I’ll announce the winner(s?) 🙂

$209 Raised

giftmasblog-tour-3

So far, together, we have raised $209 for the food bank. That works out to over 600 meals! Whoot! But we’re not done yet — there are still just over three days left in this fundraiser so if you can donate even a couple dollars please

Go here to help feed hungry families this winter

and accept my sincere thanks 🙂

And then come back here and enter the Rafflecopter to win a crocheted throw by yours truly. As you can see, the odds are most definitely in your favour LOL

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The stops so far on the tour have really covered quite a spectrum. Our theme this year was food, and everyone touched on that but family is also a hugely recurring theme — go figure 😉

In case you missed them, check out these stops:

Snowed in: A Giftmas Guest Blog from Jennifer Crow

Fruitcake and Christmas Wishes by Eileen Bell 

A Place at the Table by Tiffany Michelle Brown

The Worst Thanksgiving Ever by Kara Reynolds

…and there’s more on the way!

 

The Weight of Christmas Dinner

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Today, as part of the 2016 Giftmas Blog Tour I am hosting Barbara Tomporowski. Please enjoy her story which is ostensibly about Christmas dinner, but really is about family, and tradition, and shortbread 😉

The Weight of Christmas Dinner

Barbara Tomporowski

“The day that oven dies, I’ll smash it.”

My son perked up. “Cool!”

“Really?” My boyfriend asked mildly. “With what?”

Having never owned a crowbar, let alone used one, I knew I was trapped. “What I meant is that the day that oven quits in the middle of cooking our Christmas dinner will be the last day of its mechanical life.”

My dad cringed, probably at the thought of purchasing a new stove. My boyfriend shrugged and said, “At least it’ll be cheaper on Boxing Day.”

“I meant today.” They both winced. Neither would want to brave the press of last minute shoppers in any store Scrooge-like enough to sell major appliances on Christmas Day.

Heat blasted my cheeks as I opened the oven. The temperature was probably too hot, but at least the bird was cooking. I would be thankful if the unreliable thermostat in my parents’ stove, a relic from the ’70s, cooked the turkey thoroughly enough that no one got salmonella.

I peered at my daughter’s efforts to make our family’s traditional bean salad. Seeing her rinsing lentils and chopping celery, I offered Mom a wooden spoon. “Could you do the shortbread?” Since her stroke, Mom often seemed lost in a lonely and confusing fog, but that day she seemed happy to be with us in the kitchen. She nodded, I set her to creaming the butter, and the rhythmic, sloppy sound soothed my holiday dinner anxieties.tomporowski-christmas-table-at-government-house-2015

Nobody makes shortbread like my mother. Although the recipe is simple, mine never turns out. Mom claimed the secret was to cream the butter by hand, with a spoon instead of a mixer, but I suspect there was some secret ingredient she kept from me so I would have to come home.

My life changed after my mother’s stroke. Despite having children of my own, I never felt like more of an adult than the day I was solely responsible for the weight of Christmas dinner.

Christmas was – is – a big deal in my family. The tree, the lights, the singing. Parties and families and guests. As a child, the anticipation of Christmas Eve interrupted by Midnight Mass. I liked the carols and the figures in the Nativity scene almost enough to make up for the never ending church service. Afterward, I would help my mom make a midnight lunch: cheese, pickles, crackers; pepperoni and farmer’s sausage; cherry tarts, butter tarts, and of course the shortbread cookies.

On Christmas morning I would wake early, run to the tree and marvel at the presents. After ripping through my stocking to examine what Santa brought me and my brothers, I would fidget until it was late enough to wake my parents and open the gifts. Next would come Christmas breakfast and washing those dishes, just in time to dirty more as we sliced onions, peeled potatoes, stuffed the bird and boiled the dreaded Brussels sprouts. I could never figure out why Mom insisted on cooking a vegetable nobody liked, and we three kids slurped apple juice from wine goblets to disguise their bitter flavour.

As a grownup, wine replaced my apple juice and I helped my mom with midnight lunch. After banishing the kids to bed, I stuffed their stockings by the peaceful glow of incandescent lights and woke, as my parents must have, to gleeful shrieks from the living room. And then my mom had her stroke, and everything changed.

My dad survived an aneurysm a few years later, and every Christmas since has been in the care home where he now lives with my mother. That first year, I brought them a Christmas dinner wrapped in foil and packed on ice for the three hour drive. We had to borrow plates and warm the turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes in a stove that was, happily, newer than what we’d finally hauled out of my parents’ house. There wasn’t enough space for all of the food in the oven, and the turkey was cold by the time the gravy was steaming. No Brussels sprouts, though; even a Christmas cook must draw the line somewhere.

Last year, my boyfriend persuaded me to be easier on myself by ordering supper. My  shortbread still isn’t as good as my mom’s, but I compensate with caramel squares and my father doesn’t notice while I bring him his favourite butter tarts.

A couple of weeks ago, my brother announced that he will fly home for Christmas, and Dad’s anticipation of the holiday meal is surpassed only by his joy at the prospect of having us together. So I’ll make Christmas dinner again, but my boyfriend suggested assembling plates of food at my house and driving them to my parents. Meals on wheels, family style. Still packed on ice, of course, and no Brussels sprouts. But what would Christmas be without shortbread and butter tarts?

Maybe this year I’ll try the wooden spoon.

 

Barbara Tomporowski writes fantasy, justice-related nonfiction, and Christmas blog posts. She chairs a writing group in Regina, Canada, and was recently chosen as an apprentice in the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Mentorship Program. You can find her on Facebook.


A big part of this blog tour is us attempting to raise money to help the Edmonton food bank. If you haven’t already, please click here or on the image below and donate to help feed a family this month — whether it’s a dollar, ten or more every little bit helps! And, as a bonus, all these donations are in Canadian dollars so if you are American, for example, your $10 donation might only cost you $8 (I don’t know the exact exchange rate). Also, if you use PayPal to donate they will add 1% to your donation. Once you’ve donated come back to enjoy the recipe I have to share and enter my rafflecopter to win a cozy prize!

giftmasblog-tour

Thank you so much for helping!

And if you can’t help monetarily, there is still something you can do — help us spread the word about this fundraiser. As with donations, every little bit — every tweet or Facebook share — helps. We can’t reach our fundraising goal without you!

To thank you for all your help I’m also hosting a giveaway. The winner will get a cozy crocheted throw (homemade by me!) in whatever colour(s) they choose. I will ship it anywhere in the world, and though the odds favour those people who donate to the fundraiser (even $1!), you can also earn entries by tweeting about the giveaway or just by showing up because everyone gets one free entry as my gift to you 🙂

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway