Giftmas 2017: Stories in the Wintertime

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

Today I am hosting A.J. Wells on my blog and making an appearance on hers. Please enjoy her thoughts on stories in the wintertime 🙂

Stories in the Wintertime
A.J. Wells

The song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” contains the lyrics:

There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of the
Christmases long, long ago

The Christmas season is the perfect time to remember the value of storytelling. It’s a value that doesn’t stop when the snow melts off the ground, and it doesn’t begin with the season. But when Christmas comes, it’s (hopefully) time to relax for a bit, which means everyone has the chance to tell stories, rediscover new stories, or if they’re writers who have too much time on their hands, to create their own.

Why do we want to? Why do we tell stories? We do it to entertain. We do it just to enjoy making something happen. But many of us don’t want to keep their stories to themselves. There are entire industries of people telling stories to each other, or to the public, or teaming up to make their own stories together. While profits are the main concern of mass media, and a lot of subpar material gets churned out every year, even the most trashy material proves that people want to share stories with each other.

But we need to share our stories, not just for bonding, for self-expression, or for profit, but because they allow us to share truths with each other in a secret language, and to expose new truths to each other. This happens to storytellers, too, as through the act of storytelling they will discover new things about themselves.

It’s complicated to exchange truth in this way. Creating a story with a message in mind often cripples it, makes it mechanized and predictable, but on the other hand, stories can’t help telling truths. They might only be the truths the author believes in, but, those are still something. Even when all creativity might be stomped out of a work by executives, even when a story is extremely simple or simplistic, most stories try to say something, and stories can change a person.

When it comes to stories showing truths, the example most appropriate to the season is Christmas stories, whose stars achieve success only after they learn to follow Christmas’s values of charity and companionship, to demonstrate how good it is for real people to hold those same values.

This holiday season, remember the power of stories, and aim to create some of your own. By donating to the Edmonton Food Bank, you will help make sure that others are free to do the same things.

A.J. Wells is an Edmonton writer and member of local writer’s groups The Scruffies and the Smeerps. She works for On Spec: The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic, and runs a freelance writing and editing site at www.wellsaj.com. Her novel, “The Doll and the Dragon”, is currently in the works.

Giftmas 2017: Shining Lights II

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

Today I have the pleasure of hosting J.S. Watts and appearing on her blog. Please enjoy J.S.’s take on shining a light 🙂

This is the second of my two blog posts for the Giftmas Blog Tour 2017, which is raising funds for the Edmonton Food Bank (that’s Edmonton, Canada if you are reading this in the UK). The link to the fundraiser is here: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/giftmas-blog-tour-2017-supports-the-edmonton-food-/

Big thanks to the generous Rhonda Parrish for hosting me and for setting up the Giftmas Blog Tour in the first place.

In my first post, I admitted to my love of shiny lights and the glittering indulgence of year-end. In this one, I thought I’d share some more thoughts about the shiny visuals of Christmas.

As a writer, I try to evoke all the five senses to bring my words to life: touch, taste, sound, smell and sight. I like to think if used correctly they can prove extremely evocative.

My last poetry collection, “Years Ago You Coloured Me”, is all about memory and things that leave their mark. I therefore spent a lot of time trying to write evocative poetry. The collection includes several winter or Christmas themed poems. Over the years, I have also written a number of other wintry or Christmas focused poems. Collectively, they have referenced all of the senses and include, “prickly soft boughs like arms”, “aromas of Christmas, / flavours of a childhood past” and a “sound like jasmine”, but when I consider them dispassionately the sense I find I’ve drawn on most is that of sight, the “festive, / kaleidoscopic lights” of the Christmas period.

If I think about my childhood Christmases, it is the glittery, colourful, nature of them that comes to mind first: the glow of firelight, Christmas tree fairy-lights shining in an otherwise darkened room, the glint of that light on tinsel and wrapped presents. It’s the lights that get me every time.

To illustrate the way the shining lights of Christmas can take me back, I thought I’d share a poem with you. It’s from “Years Ago You Coloured Me” and it is a brief look at how lights, even after Christmas is over, can transport me to a place I thought I’d lost.

Christmas Lights – Ware, January Third

I thought Christmas had gone,

faded back into mid-winter night

and the acid-burn aftershock of New Year.

But, driving through the town centre

after dark, I found the lights,

primary coloured, electric ribbon lanterns

strung along the High Street

in brazen, gaudy delight,

the exact bright shades

of the cheap paper chains

I stuck together as a child,

painstakingly licking each rainbow strip

to form a piecemeal rope of coloured dreams

strong enough to draw Old Christmas down,

bright moon balloon of kaleidoscopic glass,

loudly reflecting entire colliding spectrums,

as well as simpler echoes

of childhood’s undarkened joys.

J.S.Watts is a UK poet and novelist. Her poetry, short stories and book reviews appear in a wide variety of publications in Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the States and have been broadcast on BBC and Independent Radio.  

Her poetry collections, “Cats and Other Myths” and “Years Ago You Coloured Me”, plus a multi-award nominated poetry pamphlet, “Songs of Steelyard Sue” are published by Lapwing Publications. J.S. performs her poetry all over the UK and runs workshops on both poetry and prose. She has been Poetry Reviews Editor for Open Wide Magazine and Poetry Editor for Ethereal Tales. 

Her novels, “A Darker Moon”, a work of literary dark fiction, and “Witchlight”, a paranormal tale, are published by Vagabondage Press. For further details see: www.jswatts.co.uk and, of course, her Goodreads Blog: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6620930.J_S_Watts/blog

 

Giftmas 2017: Lighting Up the Lives of Others…

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

 

Today I’m hosting E.C. Bell on my blog and making an appearance on hers. Please enjoy this post from her about lighting up the lives of others:

When I see Christmas lights I think charity, and I thank my parents (and grandparents) for that.

On the farm, back in the eighties, my grandmother would start knitting mittens “for the kids” a month before she started making Christmas gifts for us. (Yeah. She made our gifts. And they were amazing.) The kids she was knitting for were teenagers who were going to spend Christmas at YESS, a local emergency shelter for teens.

While she was busy at that, my dad would get the outside evergreens prepped to light. He ascribed to “The Christmas Story” theory of Christmas lighting. (He used a tractor with a bucket, not a ladder, to get high enough to decorate them, but the theory still holds.) He’d add strings until breakers blew, and then he’d back off one string. All of it would have blown the mind of every safety officer in the known world if they’d seen, but hey, it was a different time, and that was the way he rolled.

In mid December, he’d light the trees. Then, he’d buy a bunch of frozen turkeys and take them and the mittens in to the shelter, so those kids would have warmth and food, at Christmas.

I imagine those trees were a beacon to him, calling him home to the warmth and laughter that was the farm, after his Santa run.

My father and grandmother are now gone, but their tradition isn’t. It just looks a little different at our house.

One December a few years ago a kid knocked on our door. He was half frozen because it was (surprise surprise) bitterly cold and he was NOT dressed for the weather.

“Nice tree,” the kid said. He was talking about the huge evergreen in our front yard that my husband had decorated with Christmas lights. He’d done it for me soon after we’d moved into the place, because I’d so loved the trees out on the farm.

I will never forget him sitting at our kitchen table calculating exactly how many strings of lights the outdoor electrical outlet could take, (he’s an electrician, so that’s the way he rolls) and then developing a tool (with duct tape, of course) so he could get the lights to start exactly at the top. Nothing like the way my dad lit his trees, but the effect was the same. It looked wonderful.

“Thanks,” we said. And then we waited, because we knew the kid was going to try to sell us on donating to his cause.

“I know you won’t want to make a donation,” the kid said, waving a sheaf of papers at us. “Nobody on your block does. But at least you opened the door. Would you mind if I came in for a second? Just to warm up?”

The wind was howling and he looked miserable, so we said yes. And we let him give us his pitch, even though we donated to local charities and had hit our financial limit for the year.

He warmed up, thanked us for listening, and went on his way. My husband and I watched him trudge off into the darkness, and for a second I wished I knit mittens, because that kid could have used ta pair. Then, my husband said, “Hell, he’s only asking for $35. We can afford that much.”

So we called him back, signed up to be foster parents, and gave him the money. We actually did it for him, more than for a kid from Haiti, but now we are helping a little girl who was caught in a bit of hell not of her own devising. My husband was right. The money isn’t much, to us.

Last year we fostered a couple more orphans. Two young elephants from Kenya, caught in hell. It’s not much money, but—I hope—we are making a difference in their lives, too.

And we turn on the Christmas lights before we donate, so our house looks as warm and welcoming as my parent’s farm did, so many years before.

About E.C. Bell:

My debut paranormal mystery, Seeing the Light  (2014)  won the BPAA award for Best Speculative Fiction Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Award for Light Mystery. The 2nd and 3rd books in the series are out now (both shortlisted for awards, look at me go!) and the 4th will be available in October, 2017. Which means I’m hard at work on number 5. My short fiction includes the Aurora Award winning fantasy anthologies Women of the Apocalypse and The Puzzle Box.  When I’m not writing, I’m living a fine life in my round house with my husband and our two dogs.

Giftmas 2017: Dear Santa

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

For the past six years I’ve written a letter to Santa on my blog. This is not an actual wishlist of things I’d like my friends and readers to buy for me (unless we live together LoL), it’s just supposed to be fun. This year I decided to incorporate it into my Giftmas Blog Tour. In part because I wasn’t sure when else to schedule it (my blog is pretty busy this month) but in part because while I’m not shy about asking Santa for things I want, I also like to ask for things for others… so I think that means it fits the theme of ‘Shining a Light’. 🙂


Dear Santa,

Remember last year when I started out my letter by saying how tough 2016 had been? Well, dude, I had no freaking idea what was waiting for me. 2017 has pretty soundly kicked my ass butt. But I’ve tried to be good, to do good, despite all that, so hopefully I’m on the Nice list. Actually, I met one of your elves at the All Is Bright festival and they told me I was on the Nice list so here is this year’s wish list 🙂

  • I’d really like a new printer. This one is still working (barely) but it’s getting touchier and touchier every day. I guess I don’t blame it, it’s over ten years old now I think — what is that in human years? Like eighty? I’ll probably be pretty cantankerous when I’m eighty too… Still, I’d really like a printer that I didn’t have to coax into working each time I needed it.
  • Could you help the Oilers win a few games? Does that fall within your purview at all? Because that would be sweet. Right now it’s not looking like we’re even going to make the playoffs and though that’s a rather familiar feeling, it’s not one I’m fond of.
  • I’d love to adopt a chimp from Fauna Foundation. The good news is that the chimp doesn’t actually come live with me, but the money that goes into ‘adopting’ them helps pay for their care (and that of all the other animals) at the sanctuary.
  • A mysterious package! They all look so cool. The one I’m most intrigued by is Filigree in Shadow, but I’m pretty flexible really. These are kinda pricey but the Curious and Conundrums thing that I subscribe to from the same company is pretty sweet so I expect these to be too.
  • There’s also this bourbon I’d like to try. Not just because John Wick drinks it, but admittedly, also because John Wick drinks it.
  • Remember six years ago when 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.” Well, as it turns out, apparently I could see the future…

Thank you Santa, Merry Giftmas!

Best,

Rhonda


Those of us who have donated to this blog tour are not Santa Claus, but we might have a gift for you just the same! See this Rafflecopter here? Well, the prize list for it is so big I can’t fit it all on this page. Seriously. You can check it out by clicking here but first place comes with original art, poetry critiques, books, books, uh, more books… You get the idea.

Everyone gets one free entry each day and you can earn extra ones by donating to our fundraiser or boosting our signal.

Good luck!

Giftmas 2017 – What I Celebrate

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

There are as many different ways to celebrate winter holidays as there are families and today I wanted to find out about what some of the blog contributors celebrate. You can join in the conversation by commenting here or using the #Giftmas2017 hashtag on social media — what do you celebrate? How do you celebrate it?

Our family celebrates a secular version of Christmas that I like to call Giftmas, hence the name of this blog tour. One of my favourite family traditions is advent. On December 1st we clear all the clutter off our fireplace mantle and replace it with a new kind of clutter — candle clutter! We put twenty-five candles out. Each night in December we light the number of candles that match the date, hang out together and enjoy a chocolate and some holiday music. Some years we’ve read books aloud, but mostly we just sit in the varying degrees of darkness and talk. It’s a lovely, restful way to count down the days toward Christmas. And not just because there’s chocolate, but also because there’s chocolate 🙂

What do the other participants celebrate? Let’s ask them!

“We don’t really celebrate anything anymore, but when I was a kid, we had a the worst fake tree ever made. We used to strategically place the tinsel to cover the gaps between limbs.”

Jennifer Lee Rossman

“We celebrate Christmas, though in a more secular way. (I grew up in the Church of Christ, and was taught that Christ’s birth was something to be acknowledged all year long.) For me, Christmas is about joy and good food and family and Santa Claus. This is what I’ve tried to impart on my son, too. He’s autistic, and we adapted our traditions for his sensory needs. He has always loved numbers and math, so from an early age, I started getting him advent calendars so he could count down the days to Christmas with chocolate. When I hit post-Christmas sales, I try to find one or two more advent calendars too so we can then do “January and February advent” for his numerical joy. We did a third extra advent one year, but since we live in Arizona, I found that the chocolates became too soft by March and we couldn’t get them out of the plastic!”

Beth Cato

“I celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ. Not that he was born on December 25, of course; the Roman calendar at that time was a hot mess (leap months, seriously?), even if anyone had bothered to record the date at the time. But December 25 is as good a date as any other to acknowledge and honor the day. We exchange gifts because gifts are a nominal cultural remembrance of the gifts of the Magi to the newborn Jesus or a Christian rebranding of Saturnalia gifts—but mostly because it’s fun.”

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

“We have a very traditional Advent and then a long 12-day Christmas season until Epiphany. So we start from the 2nd of December lighting a candle on the wreath, we start creating the crib sowing the grass and hay, we soak our fruits in rum for Christmas cake and then start making sweets for the office. The kids all start doing the one-kind-deed-a-day decoration chains and we pull out the decorations. In addition to that, we start caroling at various places, work on the Church star and crib with the community, organize gift bags for the poor, make a retreat and confession. Finally, by Christmas week, the cake is baked, the decorations and lights go on and the merrymaking starts on Christmas day after midnight mass right till Epiphany.”

Pamela Q. Fernandez

“As an atheist, I celebrate my cultural roots: I celebrate that there is glühwein (mulled wine) again and that it’s the time of the year to make feuerzangenbowle (a very German thing), which contains wine, rum, and fire as the main ingredients. Since it is the end of the year and the very tipping point of the dark season, I do have the sense of a coming together with those you hold dear (because drinking glühwein alone is just sad), of reflecting on the past year and setting out to tackle the new one, of a sense of quiet.”

Alexandra Seidel

“I’m not really in the Christmas spirit right now—I’m in the Advent spirit. Advent is a Christian season of hopeful anticipation, of waiting, of expectation. It’s a time to reflect on the darkness in the world and to look forward to the coming of a savior, a messiah who will show us the right way to live and lift us out of the darkness. I think in that way, it has a lot in common with the Winter Solstice—and maybe that’s part of why the early Christian church decided to place Christmas so near to the solstice. Over the past several years, I’ve made an effort to place emphasis on Advent until Christmas Eve—the day my parents and I have always held our own private celebration of Christmas.”

Stephanie A. Cain

“My family has always celebrated Christmas. At least we call it that, but it is really a secular celebration, rather than a religious festival. At times, I have somewhat flippantly been known to draw on the mid-winter and Roman heritage of my home country (I’m British) and offer felicitations for the festival day of the risen god, Sol Invictus.”

J.S. Watts

“My holiday traditions are a muddle! We go Yule singing door-to-door in the days leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we sing carols and go to church. We open gifts on Christmas morning, and eat a supper that includes a cake shaped like a Yule log. Next, we celebrate the changing face of Janus on December 31st by ushering out the old year and welcoming the new. Lastly, I celebrate Imbolc on February 1st, lighting candles and lanterns to welcome the coming of spring. ”

Barbara Tomporowski

“Not a holiday sort of dude. I like the excuse to give presents or hang out with people, but there’s no one holiday that I adhere to. Again, the cynic in me grumbles, but stays quiet for the most part during the month of December. I like the cold, the lights, and the mountain of baked goods that accompany this time of the year. It’s the only chance to watch my favorite version of “Christmas Carol” with Alastair Sims.”

Doug Blakeslee

We celebrate a secular version of Christmas. I was raised on a farm, and that definitely coloured how I celebrate the season. We baked multitudes of fantastic cakes and cookies. We went to the back forty and cut down our own Christmas tree. Then we decorated it and the rest of the house. It was wonderful. But one of the big events that signalled (to me at least) that Christmas had really truly arrived was watching Alastair Sim’s version of “A Christmas Carol” on CBC on Christmas Eve. Now, in my own house, we decorate a tree (sadly, we have moved to artificial, but digging it out of its box and putting it together is just as good as slogging through the snow to cut down a real one. Right?), and bake a bunch of different cookies for the season, but I have developed a variation of “the movie before Christmas.” Now, we watch the “25 movies of Christmas.” We start with “Die Hard” on December 1st, and watch (at least) one movie with some sort of a Christmas theme an evening until Christmas Eve. That’s reserved for… (if you guessed Alastair Sim’s “A Christmas Carol,” you’d be wrong!) “Love Actually.” Because my husband gets to pick movies too, and this is one of his favourites.”

E.C. Bell

Another Giftmas tradition I enjoy is exchanging gifts and it really is true what they say about giving being better than receiving — I love a good gift, don’t get me wrong, but I really love the feeling that comes with finding and giving someone else that perfect something.

Which is an elegant little segue to the fact that if you love books or art I might have the perfect gift for you. Two people will win awesome prizes from this Rafflecopter right here. There are honestly too many prizes for me to list them all here, but you can check out the list by clicking here.

Everyone gets one free entry each day and you can earn more by helping us signal boost this tour and fundraiser, or by donating.

Thank you, and good luck!

Giftmas 2017 – Why I Give

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

For today’s post I asked the contributors to talk about why they give, and I intentionally left the question of what they give completely open because I wanted to see how each individual would interpret the question. Because we all give in some form or another — we give money, or time, objects or of ourselves. What motivates that giving?

Personally, I want to talk specifically about why I give to the Food Bank — why that is the cause I choose to support with this blog tour. The answer is very simple, really. I give to the Food Bank because the Food Banks have given to me. I live a privileged life these days and we never struggle to put food on the table but that wasn’t always the case. When I was younger and my mom was a struggling single mother of three we didn’t go hungry but the local Food Bank’s Christmas hampers were a huge factor in our Christmas celebrations. Without them our season would have been far less bright. And when Dani was a toddler and I was the single mom a Christmas hamper meant I didn’t have to pick between having a holiday feast or putting a great present under the tree for her. Supporting the food bank now that I am financially able makes sense to me and it feels good too.

As for why some of the other contributors give? Let’s ask them:

“Last year was the first time I took part in the Giftmas tour hosted by Rhonda. And I honestly didn’t think much of it until we met and surpassed the 500$ mark and I was amazed at the generosity of fans. We’ve been blessed abundantly in a way that we can write, share stories and become a part of people’s thoughts long after they’ve finished a book. It feels wonderful to be able to share with others who’re finding the going tough. If there is something that we can do to help others have a better Christmas it would be awesome. ”

Pamela Q. Fernandez

“I support the Giftmas Blog Tour because our friends, families, and community members should not go hungry in this great country.”

Barbara Tomporowski

“I give because I can, and because I hope that it will give the gift of happiness, no matter how brief, to someone else who needs it. I also think that if we all acted kinder and more giving toward one another and the other beings sharing this planet with us, we would find more happiness ourselves.”

Alexandra Seidel

“I give my time and energy because I don’t feel like I’ve done enough to “earn” the good things in my life.”

Jennifer Lee Rossman

“I give for a lot of reasons—first and foremost because I’m a follower of the Jesus way, and one important tenet of that way is to give to others, to love other people as much as I love myself. I won’t get all preachy on you, but I’m a firm believer that every gift I give to another person is also a gift I offer to Jesus. For another reason, my forty-one years have been a roller coaster of both need and plenty. There have been times I’ve had a thousand dollars in my checking account and had plenty to give someone in need. There have also been times I’ve just bounced a check and needed someone’s help to buy groceries. I know what need feels like. I know how crippling and shameful it can be to have to ask someone for help in a culture that seems to idolize self-reliance. And I know just how big a tiny gift can feel.”

Stephanie A. Cain

“I’m cynical by nature. Slow to trust or warm up to people. It’s part of my past that I work to get past. One of the ways I do that is support things that I do believe in. As a kid I devoured science fiction of all types. Science was my passion and while I didn’t go that route, it’s something I believe in. It gives us hope that there’s something better or we can become something better. When I got the offer for the blog tour, I took up the cause, because it’s passing along a bit of hope. A recent sci-fi anthology just arrived and it’s full of stories that embody the hope that sci-fi brings to me. That’s why I’m offering it to the blog tour. Maybe it’ll kindle someone else’s hope.”

Doug Blakeslee

“To paraphrase 1 John, “We give because he first gave to us.” I participate in this blog-hopping fundraiser because it’s a fun way to simultaneously connect with colleagues and support a cause outside of my local sphere of influence. I support a number of local non-profits, but here are two charities which work around the world and which you can support from anywhere:

IJM (International Justice Mission) fights slavery—not “I’ve got student loans” but real, chattel slavery which still exists in much of the world and probably touching you. (It’s why I highlight fair-trade chocolate when I blog about chocolate.) Several of my writing projects feature slave characters, but I want to be sure I don’t romanticize this concept, and I’ve used books as fundraisers to support IJM and will again.

World Vision provides education, resources, supplies, and support in all kinds of conditions and needs. They have a great record of using donations directly to aid, rather than diluting in marketing, fundraising, salaries, slush. They also have a child sponsorship program, if you want to connect personally.”

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

“I give to this fundraiser and other causes because I know what it’s like to need. My family often struggled as I was growing up. There were a few months where we got by on a bare minimum of ramen noodles, cereal, and milk. We didn’t get assistance from a food bank, though our plight would have warranted it. And even though we didn’t have much, we always gave.  My mom encouraged me to donate to food or toy or pet-supply drives, emphasizing that there were always people who need help. Those lessons have stayed with me.”

Beth Cato

Short answer? Because I have been incredibly lucky most of my life, and this blog tour is one way I can give back. It’s not the only thing I do, but it is special to me, because it happens at Christmas time. I love the trappings, and the baking, and the lights, and the food, and the celebrations I can join around the city if I choose—and did I mention the food? That’s the biggest reason why this blog tour is close to my heart. Food is the lynch pin of all my celebrations around this season, and I can’t imagine not being able to afford it. (Actually, I can, because I wasn’t always lucky. And that’s another reason why I give.)”

E.C. Bell

“I fall into the category of cash-strapped writer. I don’t have the money to donate to heaps of good causes, as much as I might like to. I do, however, have my writing and performance skills. When a good cause comes along that enables me to volunteer my time and my skills, I jump at it. It’s my way of giving back.”

J.S. Watts

One of the themes I see running through those answers is ‘I give because I can’. Related to that is the Rafflecopter you see right here.

Though we really want to use this blog tour to raise money for the Food Bank we recognize that not everyone can contribute financially and that’s okay. You can still help by spreading the word, by boosting our signal. And if you can’t do that… well, everyone deserves a chance at some holiday goodies. So in addition to giving you extra entries for boosting our signal we’re also giving everyone one free entry each day.

You can check out the full prize list for the Rafflecopter by clicking here but suffice to say it includes books, original art, books, Tuckerizations (that’s when someone names a character after you!), books, critiques, and did I mention books? There are a lot of books!

Enter to win now, and good luck!

And don’t forget to support our fundraiser to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank if you can. It’ll give you some extra entries into the Rafflecopter, let you claim some awesome rewards and put a smile on your face. That’s pretty tough to beat!

Giftmas Blog Tour 2017

Welcome to the 2017 Giftmas Blog Tour!

The Giftmas Blog Tour has been an annual tradition since 2014, but last year we added an extra fundraising layer — raising money to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank and help feed hungry families. We’re continuing that this year and hoping to do even better than last year.

2017 was a very difficult year for a lot of people, so the theme for this year’s blog tour is ‘Shining a Light’. We will be sharing positive, hopeful, funny or otherwise — attempting to shine lights into the darkness. Because every little bit helps.

The tour officially begins tomorrow, but this blog post right here is the main hub. It’s going to be a huge blog post, containing a whole whack of information, but I’ll try not to let it become overwhelming.

The most important part of this whole post, of this whole tour, is this right here:

Donate to the Edmonton Food Bank

Last year we raised $521 so this year our goal is $522!

I’m going to be unrepentantly pushy about that link and here is why — every dollar matters. I’m not exaggerating. Because of their partnerships, bulk-buying and that sort of thing the Edmonton food bank can turn every dollar donated to them into three meals for hungry people. Let me say that one more time:

$1 = 3 meals

Oh, and if you’re American your dollar will stretch even further because all donations made to this fundraiser are in Canadian dollars. At the time of my writing this blog post that means for you every $0.78 = 3 meals.

So if you can manage to donate, even just a dollar, you will have shone a light into three people’s lives. And that ain’t nothin’. And as an added bonus, we’re offering some awesome rewards for your generosity. Check that out below.

If you can’t donate, you can still help by spreading the word, and we’ll enter you into a draw for some awesome goodies for doing that too!

Mmmk. So, in order to try and keep this from becoming super complicated let’s look at this one thing at a time. First, if you can donate, in addition to the warm feeling you will get from the knowledge that you are helping those less fortunate than yourself, I’d like to offer you the following rewards:

Donor Rewards:

The first ten donors (of any amount) will receive a download code for a free copy of Faegotten by Jude Tulli.

If you donate $1 or more you may claim all of the following:

If you donate $40 or more you may claim all of the following:

  • A personalized holiday card from me, Rhonda Parrish*
  • An ebook copy of your choice of any of the Alphabet Anthologies (A is for Apocalypse is already free, so you’d be picking from B is for Broken, C is for Chimera and D is for DInosaur.)
  • Giftmas stickers from Stephanie A. Cain
  • Tuckerization in Circle City Magic by Stephanie A. Cain (Stephanie’s choice of either a villain, victim or werewolf from this series will be named after you)
  • Homemade winter holiday themed fabric coasters from Rhonda Parrish (set of four)*
  • Advance copy of the Magical Menageries Colouring Book (expected release Summer 2018)*
  • eARC of E is for Evil (expected release Spring 2018)

To claim your rewards fill out the form below. Include in the body of your message any of your preferences (which Alphabet Anthology you’d like, for example) and if you’d like to receive any of the physical items (which are marked with an asterisk) I’ll also need your snail mail address.

If you made your donation anonymously please also let me know the date and approximate time that you donated.

To claim your rewards for donating to support the Edmonton Food Bank, please fill out the form below or email me directly at Rhonda.L.Parrish@gmail.com using the subject line ‘Giftmas Blog Tour Donor Rewards’.

This is an ugly form. I know it’s an ugly form, you know it’s an ugly form… but it works. :-p

Once you’ve submitted the form or sent me an email to claim your rewards for donating, don’t forget to keep on scrolling and enter the Rafflecopter too!

But wait! There’s more! As promised there are ways that you can help which don’t involve spending any money and which will still give you a shot at some awesome goodies in return.

Grand Prize:
  • Paperback copies of the first four books in the Amethir series by Stephanie A. Cain
  • Beth Cato will send you a signed copy of a Chicken Soup from the Soul book containing one of her essays
  • Signed copy of Vacuia Magia by L.S. Johnson
  • Copy of Three-Way Dance signed by Brian Rosenberger
  • Sensitivity read or poetry critique by Lisa Bradley
    • Will read and respond to up to 50 pages of fiction from her perspective as a queer USian Latina with chronic illnesses and depression OR critique up to two pages of poetry (one long poem or two shorter ones)
  • Paperback copy of The Stars in My Door signed by Doug Blakeslee
  • Signed copy of Monsters in my Mind by Ada Hoffmann
  • Paperback copy of Heavy Metal by Andrew Bourelle
  • Small piece of art by Lynn Hardaker
  • eBook copy of the Witches of Doyle three book set by Kirsten Weiss
  • Paperback copy of The Songweaver’s Vow by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
  • Tuckerization by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
    • Name if it fits the world and characteristics if it doesn’t, or Laura will substitute another world to keep the name
  • Custom cross stitch (6″ square or smaller) by Jennifer Lee Rossman
  • Art print from Barbara Tomporowski
  • Signed copy of Dying on Second by E. C. Bell
  • Download code for a free copy of He Sees You When He’s Creepin’: Tales of Krampus courtesy of Jude Tulli
Second Prize:
  • Beth Cato will send you a signed copy of a Chicken Soup from the Soul book containing one of her essays
  • Signed copy of Vacuia Magia by L.S. Johnson
  • Themed packet of journaling/scrapbooking ephemera
  • Mini hand-bound leather journal by Lynn Hardaker
  • eBook copy of Bait by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Wow!

Do you need a moment to catch your breath? I wouldn’t blame you if you do. Like I said before though, here is the most important part about all of this:

Click here now to donate to support the Edmonton Food Bank

All the rewards and the prizes are pretty amazing, but they are nothing compared to how good you’re going to feel for helping to make someone else’s holiday’s brighter. Shine a light — donate today.

That’s a lot right? But didn’t I mention something about a blog tour?

The blog tour runs through December 11th and a whack of fantastic writers and bloggers will be working together to bring you a series of great blog posts, all of which are intended to help shine a light.

 

 

Mrs. Claus

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Mrs. Claus is coming to town…

And now that I’ve got that stuck in your head (sorry, not sorry) I’ve just gotta say, “It’s here! It’s here!” Mrs. Claus is here!

Each anthology is an adventure all its own but this is the first I’ve done that was inspired, at least in part, by a commercial. This commercial:

If you haven’t seen it already give it a watch. I’ll wait.

🙂

I love that commercial. Not just because it makes me cry every stinking time (though it does. That particular flavour of sappy cheese always makes me cry) but also because it’s about Mrs. Claus, and she gets to be awesome and independent of Santa.

That is where the seed of the idea for this anthology came from but the stories contained within it are incredibly diverse. Some of the Mrs. Claus’s look and act like Janet McTeer… some most decidedly do not. Some bake cookies, some smoke cigars. Some hunt monsters, some deliver presents to aliens, some are alien, and some enjoy a quiet life in a magical wood. All of them are awesome. Even if I do say so myself :-p

But I’m not actually saying so myself. Check out some of these reviews:

“Parrish (Haunted Hospitals) delivers comfort, joy, and more than a little Christmas spice in this adorable anthology that explores the woman behind the Christmas mythos in various guises, drawing on mythological influences that span the globe.”

Publisher's Weekly

“What a delightful anthology that blends myth, magic and folklore with a healthy dose of reality.”

Ann

Goodreads Reviewer

If you like your holidays blended with fantastical paranormal and sci-fi elements combined with a touch of dark holiday magic then this book is absolutely perfect for you.”

Roxanne Rhoads

Author and Reviewer

“Editor Rhonda Parrish performed well, giving readers many different types of females Clauses. These women are not merely takeoffs on the one we have always heard about, but imaginative stories that transform Mrs. Claus into someone else.”

Dee Arr

Goodreads Reviewer

“All of the stories in this collection were creative, diverse, and well written. I never would have guessed that Mrs. Claus could be interpreted in so many different ways or that she could be frightening in one plot and sympathetic in the next. ”

Reviewer

Long and Short Reviews

Mrs. Claus Christmas Songs #3

Once all the editing for Mrs. Claus was done I asked all the contributors if they had ideas for how we could promote the anthology. Jennifer Lee Rossman, brave soul that she is, offered to write Christmas carol parodies inspired by some of the stories from the anthology. I said if she did that I would feature them on my blog. Because Christmas is meant to be fun and so are parodies 🙂

Over the next couple days I’m going to share some of the resulting songs with you. I hope they’ll make you smile and I’d like to thank Jennifer for all the hard work she put into creating these — Thank you!

None of these songs contain egregious spoilers but they do contain plot points so if, like me, you prefer to go into stories without knowing anything about them, you might want to skip the songs and just pre-order the anthology.

*shifty eyes*

What? I’m just sayin’…

😉

Desperately Seeking Santa — To the tune of “Deck the Halls”

Christmas tree is trimmed and glowing
Fa la la la la, by Mrs. Claus
Weather outside: cold and snowing
Fa la la la la, la Mrs. Claus
Mistletoe’s been hung for kissing
Fa la la, la la la, Mrs. Claus
Gifts are wrapped but Santa’s missing
Fa la la la la, call Mrs. Claus

In the workshops, she’ll go searching
Fa la la la la, la Mrs. Claus
in the caves he keeps his merch in
Fa la la la la, la Mrs. Claus
Caves are dark but she will brave them
Fa la la, la la la, Mrs. Claus
From the goblins, she will save him
Fa la la la la, la Mrs. Claus

Christmas ride is quickly nearing
Fa la la la la, la Mrs. Claus
If she saves him, we’ll be cheering
Fa la la la la, for Mrs. Claus
Hurry, hurry; faster faster
Fa la la, la la la, Mrs. Claus
Stop this Christmas Eve disaster
Fa la la la la, la Mrs. Claus

*

Christmas Magic — To the tune of “Jingle Bells”

Crashing to the snow
in a pod from outer space,
Bringing joy and hope
to the human race

She married Santa Claus
Dressed in velveteen,
Photo on the cover of
every magazine

Mrs. Claus
Mrs. Claus
made his reindeer fly,
But he shouldn’t trust her
’cause it all might be a lie!

 

Reserve your copy now!

Paperback — $12.95

Direct from the publisher

Electronic book — $0.99!

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks

Mrs. Claus Christmas Songs #2

Once all the editing for Mrs. Claus was done I asked all the contributors if they had ideas for how we could promote the anthology. Jennifer Lee Rossman, brave soul that she is, offered to write Christmas carol parodies inspired by some of the stories from the anthology. I said if she did that I would feature them on my blog. Because Christmas is meant to be fun and so are parodies 🙂

Over the next couple days I’m going to share some of the resulting songs with you. I hope they’ll make you smile and I’d like to thank Jennifer for all the hard work she put into creating these — Thank you!

None of these songs contain egregious spoilers but they do contain plot points so if, like me, you prefer to go into stories without knowing anything about them, you might want to skip the songs and just pre-order the anthology.

*shifty eyes*

What? I’m just sayin’…

😉

You’d Better Watch Out — To the tune of “O Come All Ye Faithful”

O come, all ye children, orphaned or in danger!
O come ye, O come ye up to the North Pole
Work with the Clauses
Mrs. Claus will care for you
while she helps train the reindeer,
and calculates the Nice list,
and practices carjacking,
and drinking Scotch.

*

Red to Hide the Blood — To the tune of “Good King Wenceslas”

Monster hunter Mrs. Claus
checking on the reindeer
Awful scene that gives her pause:
all of them are slain, here

Santa begs her not to kill,
but she must protect him
from the things that wish him ill
and that disrespect him

 

Reserve your copy now!

Paperback — $12.95

Direct from the publisher

Electronic book — $0.99!

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks

Mrs. Claus Christmas Songs

Once all the editing for Mrs. Claus was done I asked all the contributors if they had ideas for how we could promote the anthology. Jennifer Lee Rossman, brave soul that she is, offered to write Christmas carol parodies inspired by some of the stories from the anthology. I said if she did that I would feature them on my blog. Because Christmas is meant to be fun and so are parodies 🙂

Over the next couple days I’m going to share some of the resulting songs with you. I hope they’ll make you smile and I’d like to thank Jennifer for all the hard work she put into creating these — Thank you!

None of these songs contain egregious spoilers but they do contain plot points so if, like me, you prefer to go into stories without knowing anything about them, you might want to skip the songs and just pre-order the anthology.

*shifty eyes*

What? I’m just sayin’…

😉

Miss Lil’ Toe Head — To the tune of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

Hark! Her girlfriend had to leave
her alone on Christmas Eve
She reflects upon her scars
then hears bells and smells cigars
Joyful little Martians guys
flying down out of the skies
With their boss who makes it known:
“With Mrs. Claus, you’re not alone!”

*

Good Morning — To the tune of “Silent Night”

Magical night,
Christmas Eve night
Mrs. Claus,
works all night
Round the clock casting magical spells
Makes the sleigh fly and jingles its bells
When will she see the sunlight?
When will she see the sunlight?

 

Reserve your copy now!

Paperback — $12.95

Direct from the publisher

Electronic book — $0.99!

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks