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!

Equus Battle Royal Winner

It was a very long, difficult battle, but after more than two months of slugging it out, round after round, the Equus Battle Royal has a victor:

Congratulations to Nova and Reaver for making it all the way through the tournament to come out on top, and congratulations also to Peregrine the damned soul who gave the war unicorn team some strong competition!

Please enjoy the short excerpt from each of their stories:

Excerpt from “Rue the Day” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh:

There was a small group gathered on the beach, half-ringed about a woman of perhaps forty, dressed in fitted skirts with her hair drawn back severely. Trainer Isabel, stablemaster and head of all the royal trainers, stepped close to speak with her, and Galyne thought they might have been sisters.

Then Trainer Isabel stepped back to join the half-circle. “We are ready when you wish.”

The sun dipped against the ocean. Rue stepped close to Galyne, keeping his eyes on the sorceress as if he did not trust her. Sorceresses had that effect on people, especially at first.

The woman spoke strange words in an awful voice and raised her bare hands against the wind and sea. She stood immovable on the wet sand, deliberately weaving her hands as if to pull the wind like wool or candy.

And then, as another wave rolled to break against the shore, Galyne saw a horse’s form in the waves, its mane rising and falling with the waves’ crests, though there was no flesh-and-blood horse there. The dread woman on the sand called again, and the head broke above the water, an ivory horn piercing the air.

The unicorn was the color of night upon the ocean, its mane and tail like foam lit by moonlight. It rose majestically from the waves and stepped onto the packed sand, arching its thick crest as if aware of its own powerful beauty. It paused before the woman who had summoned it from the elements and raked the sand with one magnificent hoof.

“Reaver,” said the sorceress simply, and the beast bowed its head in gracious acknowledgment. Trainer Isabel stepped forward, extending a halter of worked silver and gems, and the unicorn tossed its head, sending spray over the women, and then extended its neck to accept the halter.

“How does she do it?” Rue whispered.

“It’s a request,” Galyne said. “She invites a unicorn from the elements, but it is always the unicorn’s choice. She grinned. “You don’t argue with a creature of magic who has agreed to fight on your behalf.”

Reaver, gleaming with seawater and his new silver halter, walked away with Trainer Isabel. Galyne’s eyes followed them. “I hope I have a chance at him,” she said. “He’s gorgeous.”

“Like everything to do with unicorns,” Rue said, and there was a note in his voice which should not have been there.

Galyne looked at him, but he was watching the sorceress and Trainer Isabel, and she did not ask him to explain.

Excerpt from “Riders in the Sky” by V.F. LeSann:

The storm shook the tavern as it descended into the valley, drowning out most conversation between the women. Jovial whoops mingled with the wind and the distinct sound of iron hooves within the thunder. The hissing crack of a whip. Her shoulder ached fiercely.

The cacophony persisted for what seemed like hours and Delia eventually got to her feet, peering out through the boarded window.

“Should’ve been done by now,” she murmured. “Clouds are dipping low. Looks like we’re in the middle of the warpath.”

Her voice trailed off as she peered closer, her eyes widening in shock, oblivious to the boards bowing near her face.

Hennessy leapt to her feet, pushing Delia to the ground as the wood splintered. Delia’s scream was punctuated with another shout from within the tavern. She stayed crouched low, guiding Delia to the door as the storm whipped through the broken window.

“Delia?” someone bellowed, followed by the sound of snapping wood and another scream from a neighbouring room.

Hennessy kept Delia shielded as dusky wisps of cloud seeped into the room. She heaved the door open and launched them both onto the landing, slamming it closed behind them.

“We’re alright, Sergei!” Delia yelled, finding her voice. “Damn it.” She fumbled to tear the hem of her dress with shaking hands.

Instead, Hennessy pulled a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed the blood dripping down the side of Delia’s face.

“I thought I saw a boy in the storm. West Osmond.” Delia winced at Hennessy’s touch, and took over, pressing the cloth firmly against her temple. “You can’t believe what you see. Sometimes the storm shows you things. Things to make you come out and get caught in it.”

Hennessy steadied the other woman and hustled down the stairs. A prickle of fractured memories made Delia’s suspicion feel true.

“I’ll be fine,” Delia assured. “We’ve got a bunker beneath the floor, but Sergei isn’t going to let you in after how the two of you got off.” Wind whipped through the exposed bar, slamming doors and shaking rafters. “There’s a tunnel, under the last table on your right. It leads over to the church. Father Monaghan will let you in. He can’t say no if you ask for sanctuary.” She gave a wry smile. “Old custom, but useful for us shadowy women.”

Delia quickly unfastened her cloak and tossed it to Hennessy before standing on her own strength.

“Take this and stay outta that storm, you hear?”

Hennessy clasped the cloak around her neck, running across the empty bar, and hauling chairs aside until she found the entrance to the tunnel. Slamming it closed above her, she fled into the earthy darkness.

‘Are you safe?’ Peregrine’s panicked thoughts flooded her mind. ‘Has the wind blown you out to them? You are very small, with only two legs…”

In a blatant and transparent attempt to get more votes I’ve also been giving away a book to random voters. This week’s giveaway was complicated by the fact my blog was down for a bit on Saturday and to fix it we had to roll it back to a previous version of itself. A version that didn’t include most of the votes that had been cast. Thankfully I had a physical tallysheet showing what the scores were, but not the individual voters.

I wanted to thank those voters who came back and commented to re-add their name into the draw, so this week I had Siri choose two random winners.

Sarah Miller and Rachel, Siri has chosen you as the winners of this week’s draw. Please drop me an email at rhonda.l.parrish@gmail.com to choose your prize and tell me where to send it.

On a related note, some of the other prizes have not been claimed and were won by people who didn’t leave an email address. So, if you happen to know Tobin Elliott and/or Sylvie Stulic give them a nudge in my direction, would you?

If you’ve enjoyed the excerpts from the anthology I’ve been providing through this competition, or hell, even #EquusFight itself, please consider pre-ordering a copy of Equus today. I’d really appreciate it — pre-orders are important.

Pre-order Equus now:

World Weaver Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iBookstore

Equus Battle Royal Finals

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

VS.

Story Title: “Rue the Day”

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Equine Combatant’s Name: Nova & Reaver (they’re a team)

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 17

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 11

Charisma: 18

(per Pathfinder stats w/ D&D mod)

Special Attacks: Goring Horn (+8), Striking Hooves (+4)

These specially-trained war unicorns are skilled in the “airs above the ground,” or in RPG terms Acrobatics, and thus can Rogue their way across a battlefield to stomp you dead while simultaneously stabbing your buddy. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Special Defences: Magic Circle Against Evil, Too Damn Pretty To Die.

Evil Alignment creatures have difficulty closing distance against a unicorn. They also are a natural example of Reynolds’ Law, being Too Damn Pretty To Die.

Story Title: Riders in the Sky

Author: V. F. LeSann

Equine Combatant’s Name): Peregrine

Species: Damned soul

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 15

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 13

Charisma: 12

Special Attacks: Iron hooves that get red-hot for kick attack. Stubborn horse-logic. Flame mane and tail for striking. Occasionally bursts into flame and moves at ghost-speed. He will bite. Plus when fighting demons.

Special Defences: Soul-bound and telepathically linked with a fully-armed and generally cranky Rider. Shared health pool with the Rider. Can look in someone’s eyes and judge the weight of their souls. He is not considered a living creature (damned/undead)

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and you wanted to vote for Star Trekyou would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek.”

You may vote once each round, and each vote enters your name into a draw to win an awesome book (details here) so you could win alongside your favourite equine!

It’s just that easy.

 

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Equus Battle Royal — Semifinals (rnd. 2)

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

VS.

Story Title: The Boys from Witless Bay

Author: Pat Flewwelling

Equine Combatant’s Name: unknown

Species: Kelpie

Strength: 13

Dexterity: 9

Constitution: 12

Intellect: 16

Charisma: 16

Special Attacks: Super sneaky musical abduction attack! Underwater zombification of enemies!

Special Defences: Superglue skin, now with more hazardous waste slime!

Story Title: “Rue the Day”

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Equine Combatant’s Name: Nova & Reaver (they’re a team)

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 17

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 11

Charisma: 18

(per Pathfinder stats w/ D&D mod)

Special Attacks: Goring Horn (+8), Striking Hooves (+4)

These specially-trained war unicorns are skilled in the “airs above the ground,” or in RPG terms Acrobatics, and thus can Rogue their way across a battlefield to stomp you dead while simultaneously stabbing your buddy. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Special Defences: Magic Circle Against Evil, Too Damn Pretty To Die.

Evil Alignment creatures have difficulty closing distance against a unicorn. They also are a natural example of Reynolds’ Law, being Too Damn Pretty To Die.

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and you wanted to vote for Star Trekyou would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek.”

It’s just that easy.

You may vote once each round, and each vote enters your name into a draw to win an awesome book (details here) so you could win alongside your favourite equine!

 

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Round Five Results

 

Well, damn. It doesn’t get any closer than this.

When it was time to close the voting for this round one of the competitors was ahead by a single vote. Then I found a vote waiting in the ‘Is this spam?’ airlock for me to approve it. I did approve it and boom! Suddenly we had a tie.

So I opened voting back up again for a couple hours and… we still have a tie.

I didn’t have any system in place to deal with a tie.

Thinking on my feet I’ve decided to say the equine who got the most votes on the blog (rather than points via dice rolls) is the winner. That means our winner is:

Story Title: Rue the Day

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Equine Combatant’s Name: Nova & Reaver (they’re a team)

Species: Unicorn

Nova and Reaver will be moving on to the semifinals.

Starting tomorrow our combatants will be:

Beezus from “Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray” by M.L.D. Curelas

vs

Peregrine from “Riders in the Sky” by V.F. LeSann

Excerpt from “A Complete Mare” by Tamsin Showbrook:

Its voice is drowned out by a scream. My own. I don’t know whether it’s my voice or the feeling of my chest splitting open but it’s the only thing I can hear. Falling to my knees, I lean forward and let my four arms take the strain of whatever’s forcing me open. I can see something emerging and then, like someone’s thrown a switch, my eyes stop working. The impression of what I last saw is still there, but even that’s fading. I’m conscious of being grabbed by the scruff of my neck, lifted up, and then the switch is thrown back on and my vision powers up as I swing back and forth in the gorgonite’s grasp, my feet catching on the path every few running steps.

What I see is crazy though. No human brain is built to see 360 degrees all at once, but that’s what I think I’m seeing—the fug of smoke, the side of the gorgonite, the Hall and the garden and behind us and to the side and—and I have to shut my eyes because it’s too much. My shoulders ache like they’re supporting an extra weight and, dreading what I’m fairly certain I’ll find, I raise my hands and press my four palms against four heads. They’re all human, but there’s four of them. Front, back, left, right. I can feel the rush of air on all of them now.

I have never hated my ancestors so much.

Equus Battle Royal – Round Five

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

VS.

Story Title: A Complete Mare

Author: Tamsin Showbrook

Equine Combatant’s Name: Verity Marshall

Species: Norse God/Human hybrid

Strength: 16

Dexterity: 8

Constitution: 15

Intellect: 11

Charisma: 8

Special Attacks: High speed ram using the speed from all Verity’s eight legs.

Sleipnir Smackdown: a high jump into the air to land on the target, who then receives a pummeling from all eight of Verity’s hooves.

Special Defences: 360 degree vision.  Enhanced hearing and sense of smell.  Toughened skin which can protect against blades and bullets.

Note about character photo: Verity in her full hybrid state has four identical human heads, as well as four arms and four legs which end in hooves rather than hands and feet.

Story Title: Rue the Day

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Equine Combatant’s Name: Nova & Reaver (they’re a team)

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 17

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 11

Charisma: 18

(per Pathfinder stats w/ D&D mod)

Special Attacks: Goring Horn (+8), Striking Hooves (+4)

These specially-trained war unicorns are skilled in the “airs above the ground,” or in RPG terms Acrobatics, and thus can Rogue their way across a battlefield to stomp you dead while simultaneously stabbing your buddy. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Special Defences: Magic Circle Against Evil, Too Damn Pretty To Die.

Evil Alignment creatures have difficulty closing distance against a unicorn. They also are a natural example of Reynolds’ Law, being Too Damn Pretty To Die.

Note about character photo: War unicorns were considered too fearsome to depict directly, so contemporary artists’ tended to render them in a very stylized fashion.

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and you wanted to vote for Star Trekyou would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek.”

It’s just that easy.

 

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Equine Battle Royal — Round One

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be stolen from their competitor and added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

VS.

Story Title: To Ride a Steel Horse

Author: Stephanie A. Cain

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Aenbharr of Manannán

Species: Each Uisge

Strength: 12

Dexterity: 15

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 14

Charisma: 18

Special Attacks: Sharp teeth for ripping flesh; sticky skin to capture rider; eats cattle and humans.

Special Defences: Can shapeshift between enticing human form and dangerous equine form; is an extraordinarily fine riding horse when it can’t see salt water.

Story Title: Different

Author: Sandra Wickham

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known):

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 17

Dexterity: 13

Constitution: 15

Intellect: 16

Charisma: 17

Special Attacks: Rising up on forelegs, Stabbing Through the chest with horn

Special Defences: Any touch to the unicorn burns victims

And

War unicorns were considered too fearsome to depict directly, so contemporary artists’ tended to render them in a very stylized fashion.
VS.

Story Title: “Rue the Day”

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Nova & Reaver (they’re a team)

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 17

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 11

Charisma: 18

Special Attacks: Goring Horn (+8), Striking Hooves (+4)

These specially-trained war unicorns are skilled in the “airs above the ground,” or in RPG terms Acrobatics, and thus can Rogue their way across a battlefield to stomp you dead while simultaneously stabbing your buddy. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Special Defences: Magic Circle Against Evil, Too Damn Pretty To Die.

Evil Alignment creatures have difficulty closing distance against a unicorn. They also are a natural example of Reynolds’ Law, being Too Damn Pretty To Die.

Story Title: “Eel and Bloom”

Author: Diana Hurlburt

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Eel

Species: limerunner (native Floridian cousin to the Scottish kelpie)

Strength: 15

Dexterity: 10

Constitution: 17

Intellect: 8

Charisma: 12

Special Attacks: Overrun (limerunner hooves are sharp and their kick can exert more than 200 PSI); Jawbreaker (limerunners have carnivorous teeth and strong jaws).

Special Defences: low-light vision, keen sense of smell, heightened stamina for long-distance running and above-average speed (~40 mph) for distances under a mile, dexterity in water or on land.

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story/stories you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and

Pirates vs. Ninjas

and you wanted to vote for Star Trek and Pirates you would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek and Pirates.”

And you don’t need to vote for something in each bracket–if you didn’t have a preference between Star Trek and Star Wars you could totally just vote for Pirates.

It’s just that easy.

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Equus Battle Royal

Equally inspired by a conversation with Cat McDonald about which equine from the Equus anthology I thought could beat up all the other equines, and Hal Friesen‘s character Death Match events from a couple years ago, I present to you:

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine from their story against the equines from all the other stories and fight it out until only one remains standing!

Dun dun dun!

This is going to be a whole lot of fun 🙂

Here is what the tournament looks like:

(Thank you PrintYourBrackets.com!)

Since those titles are abbreviated allow me to elaborate–the competitors are:

  • Lightless by K.T. Ivanrest
  • Rue the Day by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
  • To Ride a Steel Horse by Stephanie A. Cain
  • Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray by M.L.D Curelas
  • Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things by J.G. Formato
  • Eel and Bloom by Diana Hurlburt
  • Above the Silver Sky by Daniel Koboldt
  • The Boys from Witless Bay by Pat Flewwelling
  • Different by Sandra Wickham
  • Riders in the Sky by VF LeSann
  • A Glory of Unicorns by Jane Yolen
  • The Last Ride of Hettie Richter by Cat McDonald
  • A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter by J.J. Roth
  • A Complete Mare by Tamsin Showbrook

The battle begins on May 2nd when I will post the character stats for the first two competitors and we will open up voting. Because guess what? You get to help choose the winner. You’ll be able to vote by leaving a comment on the blog post.

We didn’t want this to just turn into a straight-up popularity contest though, so our competitors won’t just be sitting quietly and watching votes come in, they will also be stealing those votes.

Each Tuesday I’ll post that week’s competitors. Then on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday each of the competitors will roll a d20 (that’s a twenty-sided die for those of you who don’t speak that particular geek dialect) either in 3 dimensions or using Roll Dice Online. They will then steal that number of votes from their opponent and add it to their own total.

I will update those totals as a comment on the blog post as well as on social media.

Votes will close each Sunday at midnight MST, and the winner of that round will be announced the next day (Monday). Just in time for the next set of opponents to be announced on Tuesday.

If all goes well, and I counted correctly, the victor should be crowned the week before Equus comes out 🙂

Combat Schedule
May 2nd
To Ride a Steel Horse vs. Different
Rue the Day vs. Eel and Bloom
May 9th
A Glory of Unicorns vs. Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray
Lightless vs. The Boys from Witless Bay
May 16th
Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things vs. Riders in the Sky
Above the Silver Sky vs. The Last Ride of Hettie Richter
The schedule after this becomes a bit more complicated because we need to know the results of the earlier rounds to determine who will be competing.
I am excited about this and can’t wait to get started. I mean, I will wait because I said we’d start Tuesday, but I’m anxious for Tuesday to arrive LOL
In the meantime, check out this slideshow of some of the competing character’s portraits!
Cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Equus Cover Reveal

Cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Is it a horse? A unicorn? A pegasus? One of the best things about this cover for Equus is that you can’t tell — but you know it is equine. The cover was done by Jonathan C. Parrish and I love it. I think the sparkles add the perfect fantastical element, the equine is beautiful and the white will stand out among the other covers of the series while still fitting in with them. It’s an awesome collection and I’m super happy that it has an equally amazing cover to go with the stories!

There’s always something magical about horses, isn’t there? Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through these pages span the fantasy spectrum. In one story a woman knits her way up to the stars and in another Loki’s descendant grapples with bizarre transformations while fighting for their life. A woman races on a unique horse to save herself from servitude, while a man rides a chariot through the stars to reclaim his self-worth. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom.

Featuring nineteen fantastic stories of equines both real and imagined by J.G. Formato, Diana Hurlburt, Tamsin Showbrook, M.L.D Curelas, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, VF LeSann, Dan Koboldt, J.J. Roth, Susan MacGregor, Pat Flewwelling, Angela Rega, Michael Leonberger, Sandra Wickham, Stephanie A. Cain, Cat McDonald, Andrew Bourelle, Chadwick Ginther, K.T. Ivanrest, and Jane Yolen.

Pre-order your copy now:

World Weaver Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iBookstore

 

Add Equus to your Goodreads To-Read shelf now!

 

Equus Cover Wrap

 

Equus Table of Contents

Equus

It’s time, it’s time, it’s time!

I was telling the contributors to this anthology that I look at the TOC reveal a bit like the part of a show where the house lights go down and the curtain begins to open. Not wide open, just a peek — enough to whet your appetite and make you excited for what’s about to come next. This is me introducing you to the anthology… the cover reveal is, I dunno, the handshake perhaps? And the release is when you really get to know one another.

I love Equus. I think it’s the strongest anthology I’ve ever put together and I can barely wait for you to meet and fall in love with it like I have, but for now the introduction. The lights are going down… here’s your peek behind the curtain:

Equus Table of Contents

 

Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things by J.G. Formato

Eel and Bloom by Diana Hurlburt

A Complete Mare by Tamsin Showbrook

Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray by M.L.D Curelas

Rue the Day by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Riders in the Sky by VF LeSann

Above the Silver Sky by Dan Koboldt

A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter by J.J. Roth

Ladies Day by Susan MacGregor

The Boys from Witless Bay by Pat Flewwelling

The Horse Witch by Angela Rega

Eli the Hideous Horse Boy by Michael Leonberger

Different by Sandra Wickham

To Ride a Steel Horse by Stephanie A. Cain

The Last Ride of Hettie Richter by Cat McDonald

We Us You by Andrew Bourelle

Scatter the Foals to the Wind by Chadwick Ginther

Lightless by K.T. Ivanrest

A Glory of Unicorns by Jane Yolen

Release date: July 2017

Be sure and add it to your shelves on Goodreads in the meantime 🙂