Pay What You’d Like For Mrs. Claus!

Tis the season for Mrs. Claus to shine once more 🙂

This anthology came out last year and though can pick up a copy from all the usual suspects I am excited to tell you that for a very limited time you can also pay what you want for a copy. And not just of my Christmas anthology, but up to nine other Christmas books as well!

Here’s the deal. Mrs. Claus is a part of a StoryBundle. That means you can pay whatever you’d like to receive these four books:

But if you spent $15 or more you won’t just get those four titles, but these six as well:

Pretty sweet, right?

You can click here right now to go to the Story Bundle page.

There you will not only be able to learn more about each of the books, check out some reviews, and even some excerpts. The excerpt for Mrs. Claus is from Laura VanArendonk Baugh’s story, “Wight Christmas” in which Mrs. Claus is a Valkyrie. Go check that out even if you don’t pick up the book. The story begins with a fight scene that will amuse you 🙂

Dear John

For this year’s Giftmas blog tour has an advent theme each participant has donated a story — one each day between now and Christmas Eve, with a special surprise on Christmas Day. Not every participant has an active blog, however, and so for those couple who do not it is my pleasure to host them here. Julie E. Czerneda is one of those people, and so it is my honour to share her story here on my blog.

Before we get to the story, however, a quick word about the tour, if I may. The purpose of the blog tour is to fundraise for the Edmonton Food Bank. We do that by collecting donations through our Canada Helps page which you can find right here. We use Canada Helps because it’s easy, and also because then you can give with confidence knowing that the money is going exactly where it’s intended — to help struggling people. Also, by using Canada Helps it means Canadian contributors will be able to get a tax receipt. Oh, and American donors? You get some awesome value for your money because donations are all in Canadian dollars so the exchange rate will definitely work in our favour here 😉

Finally, in addition to offering a story a day to everyone who’d like to read them, we like to reward those people who do what they can to help out. However they help out. Whether that be by making an actual donation, helping to boost our signal or just leaving encouraging comments on the stories themselves. They all help. So we’ve got a rafflecopter with tonnes and tonnes of prizes. You can read the full list here but they include loads of books, critiques, a magazine subscription, dice and more.

Enter to win here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(If the widget doesn’t load for you click here, it will take you to the page so you can enter directly)

And now, without further adieu…


Dear John

Julie E. Czerneda

Dear John:

<as the opening line to a letter destined for a being of indeterminate sex and nomenclature, it would likely tickle his sense of the ridiculous. Still one should follow customary form in these matters…>

Dear John:

<definitely should scratch that, however traditional. Haven’t covered formal or informal modes of address – stylized or otherwise. And what kind of name is “John” to identify a 3 metre animated piece of chitinous tupperware…>

I am writing this to say…

<nix that line too. Who writes these days? By the time this vocalization makes it through the translator, it will consist of quantified photons and resonances with an occasional catchy rhythm…>

I’ve met someone else…

<technically? Well, now’s not the time for details…>

This someone can satisfy me in ways, frankly, you can’t…

<not being equipped by nature or imagination, dear…>

It’s best that I leave…

<we’ll ignore the fact that you’ve already flown the coop. The saucer-like, quaint, crater your ship left in my yard will generate enough tourist dollars for my retirement, thank you very much…>

It’s been fun…

<except for the incident with my mother. You really never grasped our prohibition against consuming ancestors, did you?>

And while I wish we could have been together always…

<actually, while I can imagine a dimension in which you – or I – were less relatively ugly, in truth, we both know that’s unlikely…>

We both realize forever can never be…

<though I do have concerns about those glowing pods in my cellar. They seem new, John. Have you left something behind?>

I will carry your memory in my heart always…

<right above the 16 stitches you gave me before we both realized that taking our relationship to the, ahem, next level, could be a fatal mistake at this – or any – time…>

So, I wish you the best in your future, John…

<a feeling not shared by the rest of the inhabitants of my planet, unfortunately, given the regrettable results following your experiments with those harmless-looking gnats>

And hope you can find it in your heart to understand and forgive me…

<and if you ever show up here again, buster, have I got a bug-spray for you!>

Love,

Barbara

P.S. Just kidding about the pods. I can assure you they aren’t yours…

<strike that. Not a nice thing to bring up – which could be truer than I’d like to think.>


An original SF story by Julie E. Czerneda first published in Odyssey Magazine Volume 6, 1998, London.

 

For over twenty years, Canadian author/ former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books. Julie writes fantasy too, her Night’s Edge novels (DAW) A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo). Her Clan Chronicles series concluded in To Guard Against the Dark, Julie’s latest SF is Search Image, #1 of The Web Shifter’s Library. Next out is Clan Chronicles: Tales from Plexis. This winter she’ll be busy with her new fantasy standalone, The Gossamer Mage, out August 2019. www.czerneda.com.

 

 

The blog tour continues tomorrow at Steve Toase’s website with his story, “Seeing with Pollen”, and in case you missed it, yesterday’s story was “The Fool and the Wise Men” by JB Riley.

Giftmas 2018

Each year I organize a blog tour to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank. This year’s blog tour has an Advent theme. That means twenty-four participants each sharing a story with you for the next twenty-four days. With a special surprise on Christmas Day. Check out this lineup!

These stories are not all happy. They’re not all holiday-themed. They’re not even all speculative. But they have all been donated by generous writers to help draw attention to our fundraiser for the Food Bank.

The stories will mostly be hosted at the blogs of the people who’ve written and donated them, so we’ll be spreading the love around. I will be sharing those URLs on my social media (Twitter and Facebook mostly) but once a week I’ll have an update here to share all the URLs and make sure even those of you who don’t follow me on social media won’t miss out 🙂

Most of the bloggers will be kind of subtle about the ‘passing of the hat’ portion of their blog posts, but not me. This is the one time of the year I am absolutely shameless about asking for your money. Because I’m not asking for myself, I’m asking for people who could use a little help. And every single dollar counts.

Because of their bulk buying power and community connections, each dollar donated to the food bank can buy three meals.

Our goal this year is $750

That means if we reach our goal we will have helped provide 2,250 meals to hungry people. And that, my friends, ain’t nothin’.

But we can’t do it without you, and every dollar counts.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE EDMONTON FOOD BANK

You’ll notice that link doesn’t go to a PayPal account or anything like that. None of this money comes to me. It all goes to the Edmonton Food Bank via Canada Helps. That means you can donate with confidence, knowing there is no chance your money won’t go where it’s intended. Also, Canadian donors can get a tax receipt and American donors can get crazy value for your money because those donations are in Canadian dollars. So every US dollar is worth about $1.25 Canadian!

But wait! There’s more!

While donating to the food bank is guaranteed to make you you feel good, we’re offering even more than that warm and fuzzy feeling in exchange for your donation.

Every person who donates to the fundraiser will receive a Giftmas card from me. However, the first five people to donate will find a custom poem (about a subject of their choice) included in that card along with some brand new ‘Writing is a Team Sport’ swag (in the form of a magnet) and for any of those donations which are $25 or more I will also include a special custom Corvidae die.

Also, every single person who donates $1 or more to the fundraiser will receive an electronic copy of Brandy Ackerley’s book, Fated.

Oh, but also? There’s still more 🙂 We have a Rafflecopter, and you don’t even need to donate in order to enter.

Because we know that money can be awfully tight around the holidays, so we’ve made it easy for you to support the fundraiser without spending any money — by signal boosting it. Check out the prizes that you can win. There are three prize packs, one which is open to anyone. One for the US only and one for Canadians.

First Prize

JB Riley — 5,000 word proofread

Beth Cato — Tuckerization within her current WIP novel. Her first ever!

Stephanie Lorée — 5,000 word editorial critique (first chapter, short story, whatever)

Jamie Wyman Reddy — 5,000 word editorial critique

JM Landels — One year e-subscription to Pulp Literature

Jennifer Lee Rossman — Signed copy of Jack Jetstark’s Intergalactic Freakshow

Alexandra Seidel — 5,000 word short story critique (horror or sff preferred)

L.S. Johnson — Signed copy of both Harkworth Hall and Leviathan

E.C. Bell — Signed copy of Hearing Voices

Rhonda Parrish — Signed copy of Equus

Stephanie A. Cain — Set of Circle City Magic paperbacks with signed bookplates (US & Canada only)

Julie E. Czerneda — The Web Shifters Trilogy, in trade paperback, (US & Canada destination)

Julie E. Czerneda — Audiobook of Search Image (Web Shifter’s Library series)

US Only Prize:

Ashley R. Carlson — signed copies of the first two books in The Charismatics series

Rhonda Parrish — Paperback copy of E is for Evil

Michael B. Tager — Paperback of your choice from Mason Jar Press

Canada Only Prize:

Kurt KirchmeierChronicles of Narnia

E.C. Bell — Signed copy of Hearing Voices

Rhonda Parrish — Corvidae Dice

O_O

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Or, if that widget doesn’t load for you click here to go directly to the page)

I’ll draw winners for the Rafflecopter on Boxing Day. Winners will have three days to respond to my email or I’ll draw a new name — so check your email over the holidays LOL Once winners have been contacted and finalized I will announce them here on my blog and on social media.

To claim your Giftmas card from me and/or copy of Fated, email me at rhonda.l.parrish@gmail.com. Include your snail mail address (for the card) and your preference of .mobi or .epub (for the book) and if you were one of the first five donors I will contact you about the subject matter for your poem. If you donated anonymously, please also tell me the time and amount of your donation so I can match them up.

And, in case you’ve forgotten how to donate (because this is a long blog post), I’ve got you covered. Check it out:

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE EDMONTON FOOD BANK

Thank you! Enjoy the stories, the warm feeling of supporting this fundraiser, and good luck winning some of the goodies!

Giftmas 2018 — Advent Schedule

 

  1. SG Wong — “The Fix
  2. Alexandra Seidel — “Hans & Gretel
  3. Chadwick Ginther — “The Gift That Keeps on Giving
  4. Michael B. Tager — “Where the Dead Go To Disco
  5. Stephanie A. Cain — “Gift of the Werewolf
  6. Pamela Fernandes — “Letters from Bidbid
  7. J.S. Watts — “Christmas Traditions
  8. A.J. Wells — “The Feast of the Wolf King
  9. Randi Perrin — “Invisible
  10. JB Riley — “The Fool and the Wise Men
  11. Julie E. Czerneda — “Dear John
  12. Steve Toase — “Seeing With Pollen
  13. Premee Mohamed — “The Last
  14. Kurt Kirchmeier — “Souls on Display
  15. Tiffany Michelle Brown — “Anything But Plain
  16. E.C. Bell — “Oslo’s Wish
  17. Laura VanArendonk Baugh — “Cocoa
  18. Beth Cato — “Rootless
  19. Jennifer Lee Rossman — “Spider
  20. Amanda C. Davis — “Things That Matter
  21. Lizz Donnelly — “Eggscellent
  22. Cassandra Weir — “Never Too Late
  23. Kevin Cockle — “Eight Precious Spiced Jewels
  24. Cat Rambo — “Dark Shadows on the Earth
  25. [Top Sekkrit Surprise]

Aphanasian Stories on Sale

Aphanasian Stories by Rhonda Parrish

Three of Rhonda Parrish’s beloved Aphanasian stories brought together in one collection for the first time!

A Love Story: Z’thandra, a swamp elf living with the Reptar, discovers a human near the village. When she falls in love with him, she faces the most difficult choice of her life, a decision that will affect the Reptar for generations.

Lost and Found: Xavier, the escaped subject of a madman’s experiments, and Colby, a young lady on a mission to save her brother, must combine their efforts to elude capture and recover the magical artifact that will save Colby’s brother before it’s too late.

Sister Margaret: A vampire hunter and a half-incubus swordsman are hired by a priestess to kill the undead pimp that is extorting, torturing and murdering vulnerable girls.

Okay, I admit it. The title is less than inspiring, but the stories are good 🙂

Aphanasian Stories are on sale for this weekend only–because Black Friday. You can pick up your copy now for less than a dollar… and the timing is great because I’ll be releasing a new Aphanasian story next year, so this will introduce you to the world and the characters just in time to pick that one up and dive in 🙂

Available Now

Amazon (US) (CA) (UK)

Kobo

B&N

iTunes

Playster

But wait! There’s more 🙂

Because of course there is, it’s Black Friday.

Aphanasian Stories is on sale as a part of a larger sale.

Click here to check out dozens of titles in all sorts of genres that have been marked down to $1 for this long weekend 🙂

Good news, everyone!

“Good news everyone! I think I’ve invented a plague that will destroy all life on Azeroth!”

~Professor Putricide

Sorry, sorry… I just couldn’t help myself, I have had that line stuck on repeat in my head ever since I woke up. Because I knew I wanted to start this blog post with the first three words. Hopefully, you will be more excited about my news than about that very old news from Ice Crown Citadel.

Good news, everyone! For the next few days only, the electronic version of Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns will be on sale for $0.99!

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.

Discover the power of Fire and the creatures that thrive on it in these twenty-one stories, including: the true inspiration behind Jim Morrison’s songs; a special weapon used in World War II; the secret in the depths of a mortuary furnace; a fantastical card game; and a necromancer out on what may be his last job.

Featuring: Blake Jessop; Kevin Cockle; Lizbeth Ashton; Dusty Thorne; V.F. LeSann; K.T. Ivanrest; Hal J. Friesen; Laura VanArendonk Baugh; Krista D. Ball; Mara Malins; Claude Lalumière; Susan MacGregor; JB Riley; Damascus Mincemeyer; Heather M. O’Connor; Gabrielle Harbowy; R. W. Hodgson; Chadwick Ginther; Wendy Nikel; Annie Neugebauer; and J.G. Formato.

Available Now:

Direct from the Publisher

Electronic: Amazon Kobo | B&N

Paperback: B&N | Amazon

“Rhonda Parrish’s fascination with all aspects of fire and fantasy has resulted in a gift to readers: Fire: Demons, Dragons, and Djinns is an incredibly eclectic and carefully curated collection of short stories. The theme is exactly as the title says – a stunningly original array of tales involving fire. There isn’t a clinker in the stack… The authors who have enriched this anthology are among the most imaginative storytellers I have ever read. ”

~Melanie S. Amazon Review

If you haven’t already, please consider checking it out. For less than a buck I guarantee you can’t go wrong!

Help Me Choose My NovPAD Theme

ETA: Voting has closed and that’s the winner right there ^ Chancer’s Inn. Thank you to everyone who helped me pick the theme for this year’s poetry challenge. Now I better get my butt in gear and write the poems 🙂

The original post is below for archivey/context purposes 😉

 

***

 

Whaaat? Two blog posts in one day?!

Yeup.

I have a bit of a problem… it’s an affection for pre-made book covers. I love them. The problem is, I buy the cover and then I have to find the time and inspiration to write the stories to go with them, and sometimes that’s a pretty big challenge.

Several weeks ago I held a flash editing sale on social media. The idea was that if enough people bought in for me to pay for the pre-made covers I had my eye on I would buy them and write the stories to go with them. Well, lots of people supported my sale, more than enough to pay for the covers, but when I went to buy them they’d already been sold! *sad face*

Since I couldn’t get those covers I said I would pick a selection of other pre-mades and let Twitter and Facebook decide which one of them I would buy and write something for.

But then there was this sale and I spontaneously bought premade covers for a trilogy. And added those to the other trilogy I haven’t written yet but have covers for. I was forced to admit that I had a bit of a problem. A wee bit of a backlog. I still wanted to let Twitter and Facebook vote on a cover for me to write for but it was pretty obvious that I could not commit to a full-length novel for that.

And then today my November Poem-A-Day partner in crime, Beth Cato, sent me a message and said, “Are you doing NovPAD this year?” and I was like, “Yes. But I wonder what my theme is going to be.”

And then EUREKA! It struck me.

I could let you vote on a pre-made cover and use that cover to determine my NovPAD 2018 theme. And then, eventually, use that cover to publish the resulting poems. Perfect.

Except that NovPad begins tomorrow, so there’s a huge time crunch on this. >_<

Here are the covers:

Two things to remember while looking at these:

  • That is dummy text. It’s just there to show off the typography and will be replaced with my name, title, etc. when the time comes. In other words, those titles are not staying 😉
  • My interpretation of the theme based on the cover may not match the text at all. (ie: Just because it says ‘Horror novella’ doesn’t mean my poems will be horror-themed). It also may not match your interpretation or expectations.  

🙂

To vote, drop me a line however you prefer (Tweet, Facebook comment, Blog post comment, email, whatever) and tell me the dummy title for the cover you want me to use (ie: ‘The Road of Lost Souls’ or ‘Frozen’ or whatever).

I will total up all the votes that are in when it’s time for me to start working on my poem for tomorrow (probably around noon Mountain time), purchase the winning cover, announce it here and on social media and then get to work.

Thank you for taking the time to help me decide on my NovPAD theme. I look forward to discovering what it will be!

The Other Side of the Door

A collection of ghost stories that will touch you, thrill you and send chills down your spine.

An abused boy receives a ghostly visitor, a lost girl discovers a house which could save or damn her. An impossible voice sings an impossible song. A Christmas miracle allows for a once in a lifetime visit, and a man faces the darkness in himself and his world in these tales which will haunt you long after you’ve finished reading them.

Available Now!

Amazon (US) (CA) (UK)

Kobo

Apple

B&N

 

Okay, see, what happened was I was left unsupervised…

😉

Honestly, I’ve intended to pull together a bunch of my ghost stories into a collection and release them together for a while now–I had the cover made for it last year so it’s been at least that long–but I never seemed to find the time to do it. Then, on the 20th my husband had to work.

We’re usually pretty strict about not working on weekends around here, or we try to be anyway, in order to keep my workaholism in check and ensure we have family time together. But on the 20th he had to work. Which meant I had a day I could work if I wanted to, guilt free, and there was nothing in my planner. Nothing that needed to be done. And with Halloween approaching, that made it the perfect chance for me to finally make this collection.

It also meant there was a super small window between when I created the book and when I released it, so there was none of the usual pre-release trumpeting and promotion. I offered copies to my ARC team* and then it was today and here I am, surprising you with my ghost stories.

Surprise!

This collection includes some of my personal favourites (“Coming Storm” and “The Other Side of the Door” in particular) and if you like ghost stories I really hope you’ll check it out.

 

*If you’d like to join my ARC team please just drop me a line

Giftmas 2018 Sign-up

Over the past few years it has become a holiday tradition that I organize a blog tour to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank. The way it works is that we have a holiday-themed blog tour and on each of the stops we invite people to support the food bank through our link and help feed hungry families. Some years we give away prizes, some years we just rely on the goodwill of others. Every year once the fundraiser is over everyone involved gets to feel that special kind of glow that comes from having done something unselfish and good for someone else.

It means a lot to me.

This year we’re going to be doing a sort of Advent blog tour. I will be asking each participant to share some fiction on their blog for their stop in the tour. That fiction might be a poem, or flash, or a short story. We will have one stop, one story, each day leading up to a very special stop on Christmas Day. The number of stops we have will be determined by the number of participants who sign up.

Would you like to participate? Do you have a story to share? It doesn’t need to be holiday or even winter themed, but I would appreciate it if it wasn’t completely dark and depressing. Something appropriate for all ages with a little hope, a little optimism, a little light would be wonderful.

To sign up to participate, or if you have any questions at all, hit me up at rhonda.l.parrish@gmail.com

Sign-ups will be open until November 15th or until I get 25 participants, whichever comes first.

Black Pearl Dreaming is Out :)

In one of those fun little parallels that make up my life I’m in the middle of editing the third book in the Portland Hafu series by K. Bird Lincoln and it is awesome. It’s relevant and magical and beautiful and I love it. But this is not about the third book, it’s about the second, because BLACK PEARL DREAMING is out today!

/flail

I got to edit this book, so obviously I’m biased, but I think it’s awesome. Up there? Those are my contributor copies that arrived a little while ago. Aren’t they pretty? You know you want one already and I haven’t even told you about the book yet 😉

When K. Bird Lincoln first submitted this book to World Weaver Press I knew I had to have it. An urban fantasy featuring mythology beyond vampires and werewolves? Yes please! I have nothing against vampires or werewolves, I love them, actually. But I wanted something different. Koi Pierce, a baku who picks up dream fragments when she touches people offered that. Something different. Pair that with kitsuni, a corvid trickster and a dragon? Yeah. I had to have this book.

I wasn’t the only editor with my eye on it either. I won’t go into details but there may have been some back alley dealings required in order for me to secure Dream Eater (and thus the whole series) for myself but it was 1,000% worth it.

Dream Eater delivered and Black Pearl Dreaming builds on that. Each book stands alone (though BPD is complex and it might be tricksy to pick up all the threads without the grounding that DE gives you) but together they combine to make a powerful one-two punch I think most fans of urban fantasy will enjoy.

Best part? Dream Eater is on sale now for you $0.99 so you can check it out for less than the price of a coffee and then, if you like what you’re reading, you don’t need to wait to get book two because it’s out now!

But Rhonda, you say. Could you stop sounding like an infomercial for a damn second and tell us what they are about?

Sure. ‘Course I can.

Koi Pierce dreams other peoples’ dreams. Her whole life she’s avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact—a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee—transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit.

But Koi’s getting her act together. No matter what, this time she’s going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it’s not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Alzheimer’s disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor’s hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi’s father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.

Koi Pierce, a half-baku, visits Japan looking for answers and finds an impossible choice.

With the help of powerful new friends, Koi defeated her dragon enemy in Portland. Now, no longer able to deny her dream-eating powers or the real reason for her father’s mental decline, she flies to Tokyo with her new Kitsune love, Ken, and the trickster Kwaskwi, seeking answers. But secrets from Ken’s past and Kind politics threaten to unravel their newfound trust and someone in Tokyo is desperate to kidnap a Baku. Koi must untangle a long history of pain and deceit in order to save her father, an imprisoned dragon, and herself.

I think you’ll enjoy them and you won’t be alone. Check this out:

“In Black Pearl Dreaming, Koi is a delightfully watchable heroine in way over her head. She struggles to figure out whom to trust, where she can get good coffee, and what exactly she should do about this enormous sleeping dragon, in this fast paced paranormal intrigue set in a vividly detailed contemporary Japan.”

— Tina Connolly, author of Ironskin and Seriously Wicked series.

Oooh or this one:

“I absolutely got sucked in by the way several mythologies were mixed with modern-day and WWII history to form a cool, surprising, and action packed plot. ”

— Pat Esden, author of The Dark Heart and Northern Circle Coven series.

 

I hope you’ll give the series a shot. And if you do, lemme know what you think 🙂

Bright Spot — Alison McBain

When Brian Hades and I were discussing themes for Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) one of the possibilities he suggested was optimistic speculative fiction. I pounced on that idea for two reasons. First, because I’d just recently become aware of solarpunk (largely through Sarena Ulibarri) and was excited to work on an anthology that might include some and second because I’d become convinced that we were living in the darkest timeline.

That was in 2016. I had no idea how much darker it could become.

Still, despite a very difficult couple of years, I manage to find reasons for optimism. Lights in the darkness. And I’m not alone in that.

In the coming weeks I will be hosting a series of blog posts I’m calling “Bright Spots in the Darkest Timeline”. Each will be written by a Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) contributor and I think they will serve the dual purpose of giving me an excuse to talk about the anthology, and shining a bit of light into people’s lives.

This post from Alison McBain talks about something that’s all too easily forgotten and taking steps in the right direction…

NEVERTHELESS BLOG POST

by Alison McBain

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned in my writing journey is there is no down without an up, too. Writers talk a lot about harsh critiques, bad reviews, and rejections, rejections, rejections—but there’s also the opposite. Those days where you not only get one acceptance, but you get FIVE. Or when you get your story into your dream journal or magazine or anthology. When someone emails you and says, “Hey, I like your writing.” Or the best yet, when you get another writer saying, “You’ve inspired MY writing journey.”

Now, how cool is that? I had that happen to me this year, and when the person said it to my face, I wanted to turn around and look behind me to see who the person must be talking to, because it couldn’t be me. MY words were an inspiration to someone else who wanted to write? That just blew me away.

This year was a great one for me for a number of reasons—I had a lot of “firsts.” While I’ve had a number of short stories and poems published over the past five years, 2018 was when my debut YA novel, The Rose Queen, hit shelves in July. It’s a gender-inverted retelling of Beauty and the Beast and the first of a trilogy, and people seem to be enjoying it so far. In fact, I’ve had several readers ask when the next in the series will come out (answer: 2019).

Also this year, I became lead editor for the first time and helped put together a very awesome time travel anthology containing stories by a number of award-winning authors from around the world. It’s called When to Now and will be available for sale on October 1st. I was also “promoted” at Bewildering Stories, so I’m a coordinating editor and a member of the Review Board, and get to help choose the quarterly and annual awards to celebrate the best writing the magazine publishes each year.

I feel that now is the best time to be a woman, a POC, and a speculative fiction writer. Every day I hear /read about another anthology or another award that is going to an author in one of these aforementioned categories, to say nothing about the growing popularity of speculative fiction writers from many other marginalized communities and groups. For example, in the Fairfield Scribes’ soon-to-be-released anthology that I’m editing, When to Now, ten out of the eighteen stories are penned by women. And for the second year in a row, the Hugo Awards were dominated by women writers. I can’t say how inspiring this is to me.

I’m not blind to a number of ongoing trends around the world, however—and sometimes it’s hard to stay optimistic when I’m writing science fiction stories, since it seems like perhaps there won’t be a world as we would like to imagine it in 1000—or even 500—years. And perhaps, despite focusing on an optimistic outlook, things could change for the worse sooner than that.

I’ve written dystopian. I know how that line of reasoning goes.

On the other hand, I’d like to think that for every step backward, we’re taking two steps forward. Not just me, personally, but in all the realms of technology, society, and culture. We’re a global community of writers, now more than ever, and it’s a great time to celebrate how far we’ve come. And to look forward to where we have yet to go, and how we can get there together.


Alison McBain was born in Alberta, grew up in California and received her B.A. in African history and classical literature at U.C. Santa Cruz. After her nomadic twenties, she settled in Fairfield, Connecticut, where she is raising three girls and her husband.

She is an award-winning author with more than 70 short stories and poems published, and her YA fantasy novel, The Rose Queen, was released at the end of July. She is also an editor for an awesome time travel anthology coming out October 1st called When to Now. It has contributions from more than ten local authors, in addition to stories penned from around the world, including writers from India, New Zealand, Britain, and Canada.

When not writing, she practices origami meditation and draws all over the walls of her house with the enthusiastic help of her kids. Once in a while, she puts on her editor hat for the magazine Bewildering Stories, or interviews authors and artists at her website www.alisonmcbain.com.


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Bright Spot — Kate Heartfield

When Brian Hades and I were discussing themes for Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) one of the possibilities he suggested was optimistic speculative fiction. I pounced on that idea for two reasons. First, because I’d just recently become aware of solarpunk (largely through Sarena Ulibarri) and was excited to work on an anthology that might include some and second because I’d become convinced that we were living in the darkest timeline.

That was in 2016. I had no idea how much darker it could become.

Still, despite a very difficult couple of years, I manage to find reasons for optimism. Lights in the darkness. And I’m not alone in that.

In the coming weeks I will be hosting a series of blog posts I’m calling “Bright Spots in the Darkest Timeline”. Each will be written by a Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) contributor and I think they will serve the dual purpose of giving me an excuse to talk about the anthology, and shining a bit of light into people’s lives.

This post, by Kate Heartfield, is one I can relate two on several levels. I kind of want to talk about them, but that could diminish the impact of what she has to say, so we’re just going to dive right in 🙂

Optimism blog post

By Kate Heartfield

 

Soon after Anne arrives at Green Gables, Marilla Cuthbert chides her for not eating.

*

“I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?”

“I’ve never been in the depths of despair, so I can’t say,” responded Marilla.

“Weren’t you? Well, did you ever try to imagine you were in the depths of despair?”

“No, I didn’t.”

*

The first few times I read L.M. Montgomery’s novel, I was very young, and I saw Marilla’s curt responses merely as a failure of empathy, a sign that she has a lot to learn about raising a child. And indeed, all of that is true. But now that I’m closer to Marilla’s age than Anne’s, I understand Marilla’s perspective more.

We talk about “youthful optimism”, as though it’s a quality that fades with time. But I don’t think that’s quite right. Youthful optimism is ephemeral, and it turns into despair all too easily. The optimism of old women is steady. It hardens under pressure, like carbon turning into diamond. The optimism of old women is quiet but stern. It doesn’t demand to be catered to, but it doesn’t back down, either.

The optimism of my grandmothers was Marilla’s brand of optimism. Both of them had been through hardships I could barely imagine when I was young, even the ones I knew about. They were, above all, practical. They woke up every morning and did the work that needed to be done, because someone had to do it.

There’s a strength that comes from carrying on not because you hope everything will be OK, but because you know that nothing will be OK unless someone does the hard and unending work to make it OK. A strength from knowing that you have it in you to do your share of that work. From refusing to give in to cynicism despite knowing all too well that humanity falters, that life is sad and unfair, that easy answers are lies. From knowing that you and joy have both survived, and some things can get better, when people make them get better.

Old women are too tired to give a damn about the things that don’t matter, and too fierce to stop giving a damn about the people who do.

Those are the women who people most of my stories, these days.

 


Kate Heartfield is a former journalist in Ottawa, Canada. Her novel Armed in Her Fashion was published in spring 2018 by ChiZine Publications, and she has a time-travel novella, Alice Payne Arrives, coming in November 2018 from Tor.com Publishing.

Her interactive novel, The Road to Canterbury, is now available from Choice of Games. She’s on Twitter as @kateheartfield and her website is heartfieldfiction.com.


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I write, I edit and I take a lot of naps.

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