Starry Night and Agency

There was a story I wanted to tell. It was about a drug-addicted stripper in post-apocalyptic Edmonton and the dealer who wanted to save her and through her himself (or at least assuage his guilt). It’s not really a long story, or a complicated story but it took me a very long time and a lot of thought to figure out how to tell it.

I tried telling it from her point of view. I tried telling it from his point of view. I tried using an omniscient narrator. I tried 2nd person point of view (oh yes I did!). I tried starting before the apocalypse. I tried starting at the end and working backward…

You get the idea.

No matter what I did it was a struggle. And the biggest reason it was a struggle was because I was pretty sure at least part of this story needed to be told from the woman’s point of view but she didn’t really have any agency.

Agency, in case you’re unfamiliar is… well, I’ll steal this description which came from Patricia C. Wrede — “The best short definition I found was “Agency is an actor’s ability to make purposeful choices.” (“Actor” in this sense being “a person who takes action,” not “Robert Downey, Jr.”)” (Source: http://www.pcwrede.com/agency-in-fiction/).

Normally when I discover that one of my characters lacks agency I rewrite them to give them some… but (because reasons!) that’s not what I did in this case. Instead I made the story about her lack of agency in a ‘This character has no real agency… but can she find some by the end of the story?’ kind of way. And it worked! Or, at least it worked enough for me to get the story written.

And it worked for the judges of the In Places Between short story contest at When Words Collide last year, because they chose it as the winner.

If you’d like to see if it works for you, you can download a free copy here:

Free download — Click Here

…and don’t mind the obviously American road signs. The story really IS set in Edmonton, I promise 🙂

E is for Evil Cover Reveal

E is for Evil contains twenty-six individual stories which each shine a different light on the multi-faceted idea that is evil. Running the gamut from lyrical fantasy to gritty horror in these stories possessed toys, hellish bureaucrats, scientists with questionable morals, abusive partners and even lingerie sellers all take their turn in the spotlight.

Featuring fresh new stories from Michael Fosburg, Lynn Hardaker, Stephanie A. Cain, Andrew Bourelle, Suzanne J. Willis, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, Hal J. Friesen, C.S. MacCath, Michael B. Tager, Jonathan C. Parrish, Amanda C. Davis, Lilah Wild, Sara Cleto, Alexandra Seidel, Mary Alexander Agner, Cory Cone, Jeanne Kramer-Smyth, Beth Cato, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Megan Engelhardt, Danielle Davis, Brittany Warman, BD Wilson, L.S. Johnson, Pete Aldin and Michael M. Jones.

 

I wanted this cover to represent ‘evil’ without relying on any one specific religion or mythology (satan & pentagrams, for example), which was tricky. To further complicate things I also wanted it to be black and white and grey. That made it difficult not only to find the right image (we went with a play on ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’) but also to get the contrast right. It took a lot of finessing but in the end I think Jo nailed it. I can’t wait to see this one on physical books 🙂

If you’re going to pick up a copy of this please consider pre-ordering your copy here:

 

E is for Evil on Amazon

(US) (CA) (UK)

 

Pre-ordering is an awesome way of supporting the book and I really appreciate it. Thank you!

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish

Prairie Starport Cover Reveal

Usually I like to wait and do cover reveals when I have an official Table of Contents complete with signed contracts and back cover copy… but I’m making an exception for Prairie Starport. Why? Well, because on Facebook I promised that after the contribution deadline had passed I would share the cover, and I keep my promises.

And also because I really love this cover and can’t wait to show it off 🙂

Isn’t that lovely?

The contribution window for the anthology has passed (aka: submissions are closed) and I’m working on production and aiming for a May/June release. You can bet you’ll hear a lot more from me about this book between now and then but right this moment I’m just going to bask in how pretty it is 🙂

Cover Design by James, GoOnWrite.com 

Colouring Contest

I’m having a colouring contest!

I’m putting together the Magical Menageries Colouring Book so I need something awesome to use as a cover and it occurred to me that the best cover art would be the coloured version of one of the interior pages. That’s where you come in 🙂

How to Enter:

1. Click on one (or more if you’re feeling ambitious) of the illustrations below. That will take you to a full-size version of the image that you can print.

Illustration by Carly Heath

 

by Leslie Brown

 

 

2. Colour the picture.

3. Send me a high-quality scan as a .png or .jpg attachment to rhonda.l.parrish@gmail.com using the subject line ‘Colouring Contest’.

4. Cross your fingers.

 

Each person can send me up to three entries — one of each image.

I will be accepting entries until midnight MST March 1, 2018.

The winner will be decided by me on or before my birthday — March 15th.

 

But wait? What does the winner get?

Well, in addition to having their coloured picture used as the cover of the colouring book they will receive 2 contributor copies and a $25 gift card from their choice of either Amazon or Kobo.

Plus, I think it’ll be fun.

Who’s in? Are you in? C’mon, you know you wanna… 😉

Award Eligibility

Time is crazy.

I thought I had lots of time to get around to making an award eligibility blog post… and then World Weaver Press tweeted yesterday to remind people about all the things they’d published that were eligible and I started flailing like, “OMG nominations are open!!”

So here is my rather brief and very belated list of works I did last year which would be eligible for award nomination this year:

Short Story
“Starry Night”, In Places Between short story contest, IFWA, August 2017

Non-fiction
Haunted Hospitals (co-written with Mark Leslie), Dundurn Press, August, 2017

Anthologies
D is for Dinosaur, Poise and Pen Publishing, February 21, 2017
Equus, World Weaver Press, July 18, 2017
Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say, World Weaver Press, November 28, 2017

I am also eligible for short form editor for my work in the aforementioned anthologies, and for long form editor for my work on Dream Eater by K. Bird Lincoln.

If you are nominating for any major awards (and I count the Auroras among those) and would like to read any of my eligible works, just get in touch and we’ll make it happen.

Thank you.

Nevertheless Table of Contents

Greg Bechtel and I co-edited Tesseracts Twenty-one and our theme was optimistic speculative fiction. After working very hard for months to craft a call for submissions, put it out, read submissions, narrow them down, narrow them down further. Greg and I live in the same city so we were able to meet in person to discuss the anthology as a whole and individual stories, and thank Gawd for that. I don’t know how we’d have come up with the Table of Contents otherwise. There’d have been an anthology worth of emails involved I’m sure LOL

Once we had the Table of Contents all finalized Greg and I had one more in-person meeting to figure out the title.

It took several hours, and then several emails back and forth afterward, but then the perfect title just stood out. The obvious title. The one that had been staring us in the face the whole time only, for some reason, we’d been too blind to see it.

And we named the anthology:

Recently, in an email explaining this title I said something like this (edited for clarity but still using blockquote because it’s pretty),

“…one of the best reasons for doing an anthology of optimistic future this year was because of the current political situation, and other relevant social and political movements ongoing in the world. It’s been a really tough year (no matter which side of the political or social spectrum you land on), but ‘Nevertheless’ we try to remain optimistic despite the darkness. Nevertheless, we don’t give up. Nevertheless, yes, we persist.

The stories in this anthology of optimistic SF are some of the darkest optimistic stories you’ll ever read but, nevertheless, they are optimistic. And they are awesome.”

I stand by that. And these are those stories:

1. “Inside the Spiral” by Dorianne Emmerton
2. “Pin and Spanner” by Pat Flewwelling
3. “Red” by Alison McBain
4. “Tera & Flux” by Leslie Van Zwol
5. “A Breath for My Daughter” by Jason M. Harley
6. “Steve McQueen and the Hope Particle” by Gavin Bradley
7. “On Reading to the End” by Buzz Lanthier-Rogers
8. “Missed Connections, Mactaquac” by James Bambury
9. “Pirates Don’t Make Amends” by S. L. Saboviec
10. “A Walk in the Woods” by R.W. Hodgson
11. “Hill” by Ryan Creighton
12. “Anhedonia” by Meghan Bell
13. “A Room of His Own” by Ursula Pflug
14. “It’s in the Eyes” by Jerri Jerreat
15. “Across the Seas of Sand” by Jason Lane
16. “Lt. Anderwicz Goes Applepicking” by Natalia Yanchak
17. “With Two Left Feet” by Lisa Timpf
18. “A Threadbare Carpet” by Kate Heartfield
19. “Green Leaves Don’t Fall” by Stephen Geigen-Miller
20. “Proteus in the City” by Fiona Moore
21. “The Garden” by Darrel Duckworth
22. “One Way Ticket” by Michael Milne
23. “The Rosedale House” by Michael Reid

I’m proud of this anthology and look forward to sharing more of it with you this spring 🙂

 

Post edited on 6/4/2018 to reflect the fact that, due to circumstances beyond my control the Table of Contents has changed slightly.

Fire Table of Contents

I’ve been stoked (heh) about this anthology from the very beginning for all sorts of reasons. First, because it’s the first volume in what I hope will be a new and awesome series. Second, because it’s my first foray into working with Tyche Books. Third, because it’s a super fun theme with tonnes of potential. Fourth — demons, dragons and djinn. I mean, c’mon!

But despite how excited I was there’s this stage that happens with every anthology I work on where I’m absolutely, positively certain that things aren’t going to come together and I’m never going to have a table of contents and even if I do it’s not going to do the thing justice and blah blah blah blah. You know what I’m talking about, if not specifically when it comes to anthologies than about something. It’s like Imposter Syndrome and ‘It’s always shinier in my brain than it is on the page’ had a baby and that baby moved into my brain and is having a never-ending temper tantrum. Yeah. That.

It happens every time.

And every time the baby eventually grows up and moves away and I realise that, actually, I’ve put together something special.

And each anthology is special in its own way.

The Fire baby (man I’m really milking this aren’t I? LOL) moved out quite a long time ago, actually, so I’ve had lots of time to really enjoy this anthology and really appreciate the things about it that make it special.

Fire is special to me for two big reasons.

First, the quality of the stories and their diversity in regard to tone, voice, point of view, theme and style is impressive. By my count, just off the top of my head and going by memory within these twenty-one stories six have demons, six have dragons and three have djinn. Some have all three. Some have none of those. Some are pretty subtle and others couldn’t be more in your face if they tried. There are fire critters I’d never heard of, and stories went in directions I never could have guessed at, and I love that.

Second, there is a fantastic mix between authors I’ve worked with before and those I’m working with for the very first time. Working with people I’ve worked with before is always a bit easier–we’ve been down this road, we know what to expect. It’s comfortable, familiar. We know each other. We might even be friends. And working with new people is exciting, scary and new. I never know exactly how they are going to take my edits, or my sense of humour. In some cases we’ll meet for the first time at a launch, or event. It keeps me on my toes. This anthology has a great mix of comfort and fear… sort of like fire itself.

So without further ado:

Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinn

 

“Magnesium Bright” by Lizbeth Ashton
“Bait” by Krista D. Ball
“Strange Attractor” by Kevin Cockle
“The Midwife and the Phoenix” by J.G. Formato
“The Djinni and the Accountant” by Hal J. Friesen
“Midnight Man versus Frankie Flame” by Chadwick Ginther
“Cold Comfort” by Gabrielle Harbowy
“Aitvaras” by R.W. Hodgson
“The Hatchling” by K.T. Ivanrest
“She Alone” by Blake Jessop
“A Girl, Ablaze with Life” by Claude Lalumière
“Old Flames” by V. F. LeSann
“Light My Fire” by Susan MacGregor
“Double or Nothing” by Mara Malins
“Aladdin’s Laugh” by Damascus Mincemeyer
“Cilantro” by Annie Neugebauer
“Breath of the Caldera” by Wendy Nikel
“Phoenix Rising” by Heather M. O’Connor
“Ring of Fire” by JB Riley
“Permanence” by Dusty Thorne
“The Second Great Fire” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinn will be launched at When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta this August 🙂

The Continuum — Out Today!

The Continuum by Wendy Nikel is out today! If you like time travel adventure you’re in for a treat because this book is exactly that. It’s a super quick read–on account of it’s a fast-paced novella–so even if your TBR pile is truly epic you’ll be able to fit this one into your schedule 🙂

“Nikel’s inventive spin on time travel and eye for sumptuous detail make her writing a treat to read.” — Publisher’s Weekly

Order it now:

World Weaver Press

Amazon

Kobo

iTunes/Apple iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Or ask your local library to add it to their catalogue!

 

Time Travel Week: When would you go?

I had the pleasure of acquiring and editing Wendy Nikel’s time travel novella, The Continuum, for World Weaver Press last year and next week I get to watch it get released into the world. I am very excited to see it get into the hands of readers so I asked Wendy if, to celebrate and sort of lead-up to that happening, we could do something on my blog.

Wendy has been using the hashtag #TimeTravelTues to pose a time travel related question to Twitter for weeks now so over the next few days I’m going to share five of those questions, Wendy’s answer to them, my answer to them… and maybe a short excerpt or two. And I’m curious to know what your answer to the questions would be as well.

Today’s question was… well, it almost broke my brain is what it did LOL

#TimeTravelTues — What historical event would be most interesting to observe? (Observations only! No changing the past!)

“There are two main historical events of the turn of the twentieth century that have fascinated me: the sinking of the Titanic and the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. And since one involves the sinking of a ship and tragic loss of life and the other involves Houdini and the first Ferris Wheel, well… one of these obviously makes a better choice for a vacation in the past.”

“Oh dude, I don’t freaking know. A great number of the specific historical periods or events that fascinate me do so in part because of how horrific they were, how brutal. I don’t actually want to experience them. So then I thought, well, maybe I’ll just pick something that happened at a time or place that I’d like to write about, as research. Narrowing that down also proved to be a nightmare… but I’ve been working on a story for over a decade now that involves the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. I shouldn’t want to see that up close and personal, I don’t think, but perhaps the resulting sunsets which are legendary for their vividness all over the world because of the smoke in the air? I think that might be worth a trip to the past for…”

What historical event would you chose to observe?

While you ponder that, here’s one final excerpt from The Continuum before the book comes out on Tuesday. If you enjoy it, consider pre-ordering a copy to support a small press, a skilled author and me. Her editor. 🙂

Excerpt from The Continuum:

The spinning slows. Suddenly, everything stops.

My legs flail, searching for solid ground, until I plunge abruptly into dank, smelly water. I gasp, and my mouth fills with brine. I’m being dragged in one direction, but instinct pulls me the opposite way. I kick against my heavy skirts and break the surface. For one dizzying moment I’m utterly confused. The concrete slabs of the nearby docks sharpen my fuzzy memory.

1912.

Southampton.

The Titanic.

I Extracted while on the gangplank—a gangplank that doesn’t exist in 2012. This is exactly why our travelers are encouraged to use pre-approved Extraction locations. The Wormhole dumps travelers at the same place they’ve left from, which can make for some awkward (or dangerous) entrances.

Across the way, Marie does a frantic doggie-paddle towards the steel rungs leading up to the dock. With labored strokes, I swim after her, clutching the sphere in one hand. When I reach her, she’s still clinging to the bottom rung, too exhausted to climb to safety.

“Hang on.” I slip my Wormhole Device into my handbag and pull my dripping body up to the dock. Water streams out around me, forming a dark puddle on the concrete. The evening sun, balancing on the very edge of the horizon, casts an eerie glow on the water.

“Okay. Come on up—”

My encouragement is drowned out by the sound of retching. Lovely.

 


 

Order it now:

World Weaver Press

Amazon

Kobo

iTunes/Apple iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Or ask your local library to add it to their catalogue!

Time Travel Week: Method of Travel

I had the pleasure of acquiring and editing Wendy Nikel’s time travel novella, The Continuum, for World Weaver Press last year and next week I get to watch it get released into the world. I am very excited to see it get into the hands of readers so I asked Wendy if, to celebrate and sort of lead-up to that happening, we could do something on my blog.

Wendy has been using the hashtag #TimeTravelTues to pose a time travel related question to Twitter for weeks now so over the next few days I’m going to share five of those questions, Wendy’s answer to them, my answer to them… and maybe a short excerpt or two. And I’m curious to know what your answer to the questions would be as well. Please feel free to answer here or on Twitter using the hashtag 🙂

I got to take a journey down nostalgia road as I answered today’s question… and that’s a sort of time travel all its own, eh? 😉

#TimeTravelTues — What’s the best method of time travel?

“In Jack Finney’s novel, Time And Again, the main character Simon Morley uses hypnotism to travel into the past, and I’ve always thought this was a fascinating method of time travel. Unlike many methods, you don’t need a fancy machine or magic potion or high-tech wormhole — just the power of the human mind. I also love that, with this method, time travel could be a skill that anyone could learn.”

“The worst method of time travel has got to be ‘randomly’ such as in The Time Traveler’s Wife, and when I started thinking of the best ways I began with things you go into–Deloreans, TARDISes, phone booths, accidental time machines–but it very quickly became apparant that my favourite methods of time travel involve things you can hold in your hand. Though the time-turner from Harry Potter was a very close second, in the end I had to pick the omni from Voyagers! Because man, did I ever love that show when I was a kid. Here are the opening credits with the omni in case you’ve never seen it:


Order it now:

World Weaver Press

Amazon

Kobo

iTunes/Apple iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Or ask your local library to add it to their catalogue!

Time Travel Week: Modern Invention

I had the pleasure of acquiring and editing Wendy Nikel’s time travel novella, The Continuum, for World Weaver Press last year and next week I get to watch it get released into the world. I am very excited to see it get into the hands of readers so I asked Wendy if, to celebrate and sort of lead-up to that happening, we could do something on my blog.

Wendy has been using the hashtag #TimeTravelTues to pose a time travel related question to Twitter for weeks now so over the next few days I’m going to share five of those questions, Wendy’s answer to them, my answer to them… and maybe a short excerpt or two. And I’m curious to know what your answer to the questions would be as well. Please feel free to answer here or on Twitter using the hashtag 🙂

Today’s question was really, really hard for me…

#TimeTravelTues — What modern invention would be most useful while visiting the past?

“My single-serve French press. Since the first coffee press wasn’t patented until 1929, it seems like it’d be a good idea to have one of those handy if I went adventuring into the past. Like my main character in THE CONTINUUM, Elise, I’m a big fan of my morning cup of joe and think that being able to keep up my morning ritual would make time travel a lot more enjoyable.”

“Ah, dude. I dunno. I guess it depends on how far into the past I’m traveling, and where. I mean, is there electricity? What’s the weather? I’ve often thought one of the most difficult things about living in the days before central heating one of the worst parts of living in a temperate climate would be trying to stay warm in which case a space heater might be lovely, but only if I could power it. Also, indoor plumbing… amirite?”


Excerpt from The Continuum by Wendy Nikel:

I flash my warmest smile and carefully consider my accent before speaking. “I wish to speak with Miss van Grete.”

It isn’t her real name, of course. Not that anyone in 1912 would recognize the twenty-something pop star, but one can never be too careful when touring the past.

“Who’s calling?” the maid asks.

“My name is Elise Morley. Marie and I knew one another in New York, and when I read of her engagement in the paper this morning, I simply had to stop by and congratulate her personally. Is she home?”

I pull the clipping from today’s Daily Telegraph from between the pages of my notebook. It’s proof of the client’s infractions, starting with the fact that she’s still here when she ought to have already returned from her little vacation. When I Jumped back to 1912 New York to Retrieve her, I discovered she’d relocated to London, where she’d somehow convinced an influential businessman that she was his long-lost niece. What’s worse, she also won the heart of a local gentleman, known for his scientific genius and his family’s sizeable fortune.

Her blatant disregard for the Rules is the worst I’ve ever seen.

The maid nudges the door open further, but her slight frame still blocks my view. “Very sorry, miss. She left with her fiancé yesterday. He’s arranged a trip for the two of them as a surprise engagement gift.”

A new hire, then, obviously. Any seasoned domestic servant would know better than to gossip with her employers’ callers.

“Will they return soon?”

“Afraid not. They’re bound for America, so he might ask her father for her hand in marriage face to face.”

Curious, considering her father hasn’t been born yet.

“Of course! How very proper. I do hate that I missed an opportunity to see her, though.” Again, I silently fume. “When do they depart?”

I check my PITTA-issued watch, which displays not only the current time and date, but also the time and date in my own present. April 9. I’m running out of time.

“Noon tomorrow. Out of Southampton.” She beams at me and leans in closer, as if imparting a great secret. “They will be crossing on the Titanic!”

Order it now:

World Weaver Press

Amazon

Kobo

iTunes/Apple iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Or ask your local library to add it to their catalogue!

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

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