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!

E is for Evil

I’m excited to announce the theme for the next volume in my Alphabet Anthologies series will be:

E is for Evil

Oh man, I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about this one. The contributors to this anthology series never cease to amaze me with their clever and diverse interpretations of a theme and this one… well, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a doozie!

Speaking of those contributors. For this volume the contributing authors, in random order, are Michael Fosburg, Lynn Hardaker, KV Taylor, 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 Alexandra Agner, Cory Cone, Jeanne Kramer-Smyth, Beth Cato, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Megan Engelhardt, Gary B. Phillips, Brittany Warman, BD Wilson, L.S. Johnson, Pete Aldin and Michael M. Jones.

E is for Evil will be hitting shelves spring of next year, so we’ll all need to be patient while we wait for it, but people had been asking what the next letter was going to be and I was getting tired of saying it was a secret 🙂

Previous volumes in this series include A is for Apocalypse, B is for Broken, C is for Chimera and — coming out in less than three weeks! — D is for DInosaur.

D is for Dinosaur cover reveal

dino500x750

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chimeric Contributor: Alexandra Seidel

It’s kind of become a tradition that I interview the contributors to my anthologies and share those interviews on my blog. It’s also kind of become a tradition that it takes me a very long time to get them all posted. I plan to continue the first tradition but I’m hoping to avoid the second. Just to be different.

We’re continuing the Chimeric contributor interviews with a familiar name on my blog–Alexandra Seidel. Alexa and I have worked together in tons of different capacities for several years now. It started when I accepted one of her poems for Niteblade, then she was a slush reader, then Niteblade’s poetry editor… She’s also contributed to every single one of the Alphabet Anthologies so far 🙂

C is for Chimera-Interview

What letter were you assigned?

A

Did you struggle with the letter you were given?

Not at all. The story started forming in my head right away.

What was your favourite idea for the ‘word’ to use in your title that you didn’t use?

Mmh, my title is actually exactly as I wanted it to be!

What kind of chimera is your story about?

The one with two heads. It’s pretty close to the Greek creature, but also it’s something else entirely.

What, other than the letter you were assigned, helped inspire your story?

My story is actually set in a world that I’ve explored before (in The Marriage of Ocean and Dust, which appeared in Postscripts to Darkness) so that was part of the inspiration. I don’t want to give away too much, but one of Poe’s stories also helped inspire me.

Lion, goat or snake–which are you more like?

Well, I really want to say lioness, and some people would agree. But I do have some snake-like qualities as well. I’m not much like a goat, at least the last time I checked I wasn’t growing horns.

If you were going to be magically transformed into a chimera composed of three different creatures, what would you want them to be?

Let me think; I’d want to be one third dragon, one third tiger, and one third crane.

What if it wasn’t limited to creatures? What three things would you want to be composed of?

That one’s easy: one third wormhole, one third Mimir’s Well, and one third a witch’s cauldron.

Unrealizable dreams have been called chimeras. Taking the ‘unrealizable’ part out of the equation, what is one of your fondest dreams/goals?

Oh, I’d just want to have more time to write things, it’s as simple as that.

Can you share a short excerpt from your story?

When her daughter left to become an alchemist, the mother did not understand. Had her youngest child not always loved the harp, played songs as if the ghost of muses lived inside her hands? But the girl said she wanted nothing more to do with string, and ever since that moment, her harp would not speak another sound.

 

Alexandra Seidel is a writer, poet, and editor. Her writing has appeared in Strange Horizons, Lackington’s, Stone Telling, and elsewhere. If you are so inclined you can follow Alexa on Twitter (@Alexa_Seidel) or read her blog: www.tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com.

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish

Find C is for Chimera online:

Amazon

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

OmniLit

Payhip 

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

D is for [Drum Roll]

It’s time to announce the theme for the next Alphabet Anthology. I am really stoked about this one. Like, really, really stoked. I’ve been looking forward to the D anthology since I first decided to do this anthology series–in fact, more than once Jo has had to talk me out of releasing books out of alphabetical order because I was impatient to get to D.

So what is the theme?

Well, Demons seemed like a good fit–a collection of dark and diverse stories would be a lot of fun but not quite as fun as–

Dragons. Dragons seem the obvious choice, right? I mean, I love dragons. I used to collect them, I even have a dragon tattoo. And there’s no doubt that dragon stories could be diverse in theme, voice and tone… but dragons were actually kind of too obvious. Plus I have a vaguely dragony anthology in the works and I don’t want to duplicate efforts. Much. Still gargantuan reptilian creatures are pretty amazing and so I am excited to announce that–

 

D is for Dinosaur

–because c’mon! How cool is that?

The dinosaur theme will be interpreted in a wide variety of ways for this anthology but my authors assure me that there will, indeed, be at least a handful of prehistoric critters within its pages. I’m super stoked!

Speaking of those authors, contributors to this anthology include some veterans to the series and some new faces too. In no particular order, story contributors to D is for Dinosaur are:

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

Janice Blaine will be contributing the artwork.

D is for Dinosaur will be coming out in 2017 but you can pre-order the third installment in the Alphabet Anthologies series, C is for Chimera right now.

Fractured Friday: Alexandra Seidel

B is for Broken. Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

For the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera. Each story in the series is associated with a letter of the alphabet and is titled in the letter is for word format. What’s more, just to keep things nice and complicated, the story’s title isn’t shared at the beginning but at the end so that you can guess at what it might be while you read.

On that note, even though the story titles could be considered spoilers because of how the book is formatted, for the sake of simplicity if the author has chosen to post their title publicly somewhere else (their blog, Facebook, wherever) I am going to include it in my posts. If they haven’t revealed that information, though, I’ll list the story titles as Letter is for…

 


I met Alexa through Niteblade, first as a submitter then a slush reader and, eventually, the poetry editor. We’ve worked together for several years now and it’s always been a true pleasure. I am super stoked to include Alexa’s work in both A is for Apocalypse and B is for Broken 🙂

Interview With Alexandra Seidel

What letter were you assigned? H

Please share a short excerpt from your story: The second peddler has a hat weighing heavy with cream white roses. “A cup is a beautiful thing. When it breaks, there is grief in the world[…]

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? A clock. I was still a kid back then, and I broke it while playing. The clock was a gift to someone else, and something that was lost forever in a way because the gift giver is dead.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? Actually, this is how I try to feel when I accidentally break something. I tell myself, it’s broken. You cannot unbreak it. This is the reality of the situation. Accept and move on.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? The first law of thermodynamics. It’s just because I want a perpetual motion machine. I figure it’d be way cooler than an iPod.

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? The categorical imperative comes to mind.

Never ever? Well, I write fiction you know, so never is a challenge more than anything. Maybe I’ll explore that further down the Alphabet Series…

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? Well, I first wrote another story, but it wasn’t right. Then, this story happened, and even when I was feeling it come together in my head, I knew that it was for Broken.

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? Life. And death.

 


 

Alexa SeidelAlexandra Seidel is a writer, poet, and editor. H is for Hanging Man (aka The Hanging Man Who Does Not Heal) is her second story in the Alphabet Series. Other than that, her writing appeared in Strange Horizons, Lackington’s, Stone Telling, and elsewhere. If you are so inclined you can follow Alexa on Twitter (@Alexa_Seidel) or read her blog: www.tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com.

~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~

B is for Broken is available now at:
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Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

 

Niteblade #32 cover -- design by Jonathan C. Parrish, Art by Marge Simon

What Happened Among The Stars

Niteblade #32 cover -- design by Jonathan C. Parrish, Art by Marge SimonWe released latest issue of Niteblade, What Happened Among the Stars, today. This, our 32nd and penultimate issue, contains a farcical science fiction, magical horses, everyday immortals, creeping trees, fairies, close encounters with death and so much more.

Strange and unusual high-quality speculative fiction and poems that will make your heart skip a beat.

Table of Contents:
Small Necessary Things by Angela Enos
Shamaness by Wendy Howe
Jacks by Nicholas L. Sweeney
What Happened Among the Stars by Beth Cato
Monkeyshines by J.B. Rockwell
Carousel Ifrit by Sandi Leibowitz
The Third Sister by Gabriel F. Cuellar
coming home by Senia Hardwick
The Night Wind’s Ballad by Alexandra Erin
The Hanging Tree by Brian Ennis

Available now:

Direct from Niteblade
Smashwords
Kobo
Amazon

The issue will also be available online once we reach a combined total of $50 in sales and donations. Until that happens you can check out teasers of all the stories and poems.

Niteblade is open to submissions for our final issue (coming out in September) until the end of July. Protip: We’re not kidding when we say not to indent the paragraphs in your submission 😉

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

B is for Broken

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

Broken people, broken promises, broken dreams and broken objects are just some of the ways these 26 fantastic stories interpret the theme of ‘Broken’. From science fiction to fantasy, horror to superheroes the stories within these pages cover a vast swath of the genres under the speculative fiction umbrella.

Featuring original fiction by:

~ Brittany Warman ~ Milo James Fowler ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Sara Cleto ~ Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ Megan Arkenberg ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Simon Kewin ~ Beth Cato ~ Cory Cone ~ Cindy James ~ Alexis A. Hunter ~ Michael M. Jones ~ Steve Bornstein ~ BD Wilson ~ Michael Kellar ~ Damien Angelica Walters ~ Marge Simon ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Pete Aldin ~ Gabrielle Harbowy ~ Lilah Wild ~ KV Taylor ~

Available now at:
Smashwords
Kobo
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

After months of hard work I’m incredibly excited to announce that B is for Broken is live and available for purchase! This anthology is the second in the Alphabet Anthologies series and because the theme was broader than the first (A is for Apocalypse) the stories are even more diverse in regard to genre, style, voice and theme than before. We’ve got retold fairy tales, robots and spaceships, superheros, minotaurs, second world fantasy and so, so, SO much more. The story length ranges from flash fiction to an incredible fantasy novelette from C.S. MacCath (trust me, you don’t want to miss this one).

Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing contributor interviews, excerpts and even (once it’s complete) a ‘Broken Story‘ to try and tempt you into picking up a copy but if you enjoy speculative fiction I don’t think you can go wrong with this anthology. I’m biased but it really is packed full of awesome.

“This collection is a massive and magnificent assortment of truly enjoyable stories. There is simply no way to read this book  and not find a story you can connect with or love. This is the book to have in your travel bag. In it you are sure to find a tale to fit any mood. Each time you open it, a new adventure begins.”

Anita Allen, Assistant Publisher/Editor, Mythic Delirium Books

Also? We’re holding a Facebook party to celebrate the release and you’re invited 🙂

By Georges Jansoone (JoJan) (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

C is for Chimera

It is with an extreme amount of pride and pleasure that I’m announcing the theme and contributors to the third in the alphabet anthology series. I hope you’ll be as excited as I am about… dun dun DUN:

C is for Chimera

In case you’re thinking, “Uh, a whole anthology of lion/goat/serpent creatures?” that is not the only definition of the word 🙂 I’ve got my fingers crossed for at least one lion/goat/serpent creature in the anthology, but check out this definition and then tell me you can’t see the potential for a hugely diverse collection of stories:

Definition of CHIMERA (From Merriam-Webster)

1: a capitalized:  a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail
b:  an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts
2: an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially :  an unrealizable dream <a fancy, a chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayer — John Donne>
3: an individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution

Synonyms
fantasy, conceit, daydream, delusion, dream, fancy, figment, hallucination, illusion, nonentity, phantasm (also fantasm), pipe dream, unreality, vision

Near Antonyms
actuality, fact, reality

Other Genetics Terms
hermaphrodite, plasticity

Our contributing authors are also diverse and write in a wide variety of styles and genres within the broader categories of science fiction, fantasy and horror. You’ll notice some familiar names from the first two books in this series (A is for Apocalypse and B is for Broken) as well as a few new additions. Anthology contributors (in no particular order) are:

~ BD Wilson ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Pete Aldin ~ Beth Cato ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Marge Simon ~ Simon Kewin ~ Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ KV Taylor ~ Sara Cleto ~ Michael M. Jones ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Milo James Fowler ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ Megan Arkenberg ~ Michael B. Tager ~ Gabrielle Harbowy ~ Steve Bornstein ~ Lilah Wild ~ Amanda C. Davis ~ Megan Engelhardt ~ Michael Kellar ~ Brittany Warman ~

No Time Like December 6 To Polish Your Boots

This month on my blog I’m sharing holiday traditions, mine and other people’s as well. This is the second of those posts, you can find the first, entitled Giftmas Cards (and subsequent ones) by visiting the main page, here. Happy Ho Ho!

~*~

No Time Like December 6 To Polish Your Boots–Nikolaustag in Germany

By Alexandra Seidel

You know how the Christmas season always creeps up on you and is suddenly just here, real unexpectedly? Yeah, happened again this year, and now it’s just a little over three weeks to Giftmas.

But perhaps sharing a little culture and tradition with everyone can make the time seem longer, or at least make one take notice of it more. So here goes.

I want to share a German tradition with you (no, there are no pickled tree ornaments, like, at all over here). I’m talking about “Nikolaustag” (St. Nick’s Day) which is celebrated on December 6. And how do you celebrate? Well, I suppose there are a lot of older customs, but really the bones of it are these: the night before December 6, you have to clean your boots, get them all shiny and tidy, put them just outside your door, and then the next morning, St. Nick will have left something in those boots, most traditionally oranges and nuts, but nowadays it’s more likely toys and chocolate.

I do suppose it’s a little bit like a test run for Christmas. Being a kid, it sure is nice to be given gifts twice in December.

St. Nick’s Day is more widely celebrated in this part of Europe, but also in Denmark, and I think Sweden, too. As with Christmas, it might go back to a much older pagan festival, but I cannot provide any specific information. What I can provide is a regional quirk within Germany of which not even many Germans are aware.

I grew up in the north of Hesse, which is the state pretty much in the center of Germany. Here, we actually did celebrate December 6 in a special way. Kids will put on masks (those used to be predominantly Santa Claus masks, but really anything will do nowadays) and costumes and go from door to door on the evening of December 6, reciting poems or little rhymes to then collect candy (or in some cases a few coins) for their troubles. There is even a special name for that evening: “Glowesnacht” or “Glowesabend” (or also “Klobes-” or “Clobes-” instead of the “Glowes-” used here.) According to the internet, “Glowes-” and its alternate forms are all vernacular forms of the name ‘Klaus,’ as in Nikolaus, the notorious gift-giver whose cultural roots may go back to pagan times for all I know. After asking a few relatives and some more internet research, it seems that this tradition is also known in the Hamelin area (home of the Grimms’ pied piper fairy tale) as well as the Bremen area (which we also know from the Grimms’ The Town Musicians of Bremen.)

Glowesabend is pretty much like Halloween actually, but again, where that tradition comes from exactly and why it is only observed in part of the country while everyone else doesn’t even seem to know about it, I cannot tell you. I do know that it was also common, at least until a generation ago, that older teens would go from door to door and get schnapps instead of candy, at least in smaller villages. I suspect–again, with no proof–that this can be connected to Krampus, a darker and more rowdy expression of the saintly gift-giver, most certainly with pagan roots.

Wherever those traditions come from, what they all have in common is an emphasis on community and on bringing some more light and good spirits into an otherwise dark and cold season. And there is nothing wrong with that, especially if you can combine it all with some mulled wine, laughter, and friends.

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Alexa Seidel edits poetry for Niteblade. She also writes things that get published every now and then in such places as Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, Lackington’s Magazine, and elsewhere. Alexa has a great fondness for the cold and dark season because it makes you find the warmest and brightest places (where there is mulled wine.) If you are so inclined, have a look at her blog www.tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter @Alexa_Seidel.