giftmas

Giftmas 2021 Blog Train: Help Those in Need & Enjoy a Story, Too!

Posted by on Dec 10, 2021 in Blog, giftmas | 2 comments

giftmas 2021

I’m taking part in Giftmas again this year, an annual effort coordinated by Rhonda Parrish for the benefit of the Edmonton Food Bank. I don’t need to state the reasons why helping food banks is more important right now than in past years. We need to help each other. We can’t connect in person, but we can connect with a few bucks that will help fill bellies and add warmth to the world through kindness. If you’re American like me, your dollars will deliver extra bang with each buck, too. $1 = 3 meals.

Please help.

This year, Giftmas is giving something extra to readers: a story: Eleven of us are participating in what is called an “exquisite corpse” story. One person begins, and each person adds another section in the sequence. There is no planning, no plot. The story zigs and zags with each new raconteur.

Begin with part 1, here.

Yesterday’s story segment was by Iseult Murphy. My contribution is below. The story will continue to grow and change over the next week! Keep reading, and please, donate.


Agnes certainly felt like a living person, her warmth muffled by her fuzzy woolen coat. “They said you headed off to the store, in a snow storm, to buy cheese. You were never found, but they thought…” Cherie’s stomach lurched with every incredible leap taken by the fox, snow crunching and squealing beneath his paws each time he landed.

“They,” scoffed Agnes. “The town police? It’s a wonder they can find a donut shop! At least I vanished for a noble cause. I did get that cheese, by the way, and it was far superior to anything found at that neon blight called Buy-It-Rite back on Earth.”

Right. She was most definitely not on Earth now. Cherie squinted her eyes shut as snow pattered her face. Septimus had landed in an especially deep bank. “Okay,” she said, spitting out some flakes. “You’re alive after all. Yay. You came through a fantasy portal for cheese. Yay to that, too. I might have come here more readily if I’d known that good cheese awaited me. But why do I have a bad feeling that those snowmen want to eat us?”

“You’re a smart girl, listening to your intuition,” said Agnes.

Septimus glanced back. “It helps when carnivores let it be known they are carnivores.” He flashed his own pointed teeth. They were icicles. “Now hold on!”

He advised such with a reason. Cherie’s frantic check showed the snowmen still trailed them all-too-closely, their rounded bottoms gliding over the snow. Cherie clutched Agnes impossibly tighter as Septimus sped up. Rather than lap, he plowed through the snow. Cherie grunted and held on as the world turned black with whiteness.

Then suddenly, they were through. His claws tapped on icy rocks as they climbed a slope–a slope to an incredible castle on high, its peaked towers threatening to puncture the very clouds.

“Oh.” The reaction escaped Cherie like a gasp.

“As you can see,” Agnes said with blatant smugness, “I have upgraded my domicile somewhat.”

“Lady A!” sang a voice from above. “You in a difficult spot today, love?”

Why did that voice sound familiar? Cherie craned up her head to see a pegasus. An honest-to-goodness flying horse with a shimmering white coat and faint gray dapples across the hindquarters. Broad wings flapped outward, fanning back Cherie’s hair as the pegasus dove low.

“Oh, it’s those snowmen again. They are always hungrier on colder–“

“Clover?” Cherie cried out. “Clover, is that you?”

Clover had been her so-called imaginary friend during her lonely, awful childhood. Together they had romped across field and fen and made everything into a grand adventure. Back then, Clover had been an awkward colt to match Cherie as an awkward girl.

He’d become the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

The pegasus’s hooves clattered as he landed beside them, keeping pace with Septimus’s continued run. “Cherie?” his voice cracked. “You’re real?

“I’m real?” Cherie sounded almost hysterical to her own ears. She wanted to glare accusingly at Agnes but had to settle for giving her an additional squeeze.

“I can explain,” Agnes said airily.

As heavily as Septimus panted, he managed an incredulous cackle. “Oh, this should be good,” he said as they pounded across the long drawbridge to the castle gate.

To be continued… by Jemima Pett tomorrow!

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Giftmas 2020: Help the Edmonton Food Bank!

Posted by on Dec 15, 2020 in Blog, giftmas | 1 comment

giftmas 2020

I’m taking part in Giftmas again this year, an annual effort coordinated by Rhonda Parrish for the benefit of the Edmonton Food Bank. I don’t need to state the reasons why helping food banks is more important this year than ever before. We need to help each other. We can’t connect in person, but we can connect with a few bucks that will help fill bellies and add warmth to the world through kindness. If you’re American like me, your dollars will deliver extra bang with each buck, too. $1 = 3 meals.

Please help.

Rhonda asked Giftmas participants to post on the subject of connections. For me, this year has featured an evolving connection with my son.

He turned fifteen in March. We didn’t get to do his annual birthday trip to IKEA, where he loves following the handout map and the big arrows on the floor, as he has since he was a preschooler. He’s autistic. He loves maps and numbers, and IKEA is all about those things.

Last year, he started high school. It was not a transition without hiccups. He needs routine and quiet. He struggles to understood the chaos of other people. The lead-in to his birthday was the start of virtual high school. It was… tumultuous, to say the least. The kid who needs routine, losing all semblance of it. Me, I’m diagnosed OCD and not much better at handling this stuff than he is, but I have to be the cool-headed parent because if I crack, he will really crack.

I’m also the at-home parent as I do this writer thing. I was the one who had to talk him through the fear, the unknowns. I had to talk myself through, too.

As April chugged along, as masks became the thing, his school days began to find more of a groove. He did, too. He actually found it easier to focus on his work in the online school format. I enjoyed having him around, too, preparing lunch for him and checking in during breaks to see how things were going. It became a situation that bonded us more, as we talked at lunch about the new COVID-19 case numbers for the day and what they meant for our family.

We’ve continued to work through, day by day, as his sophomore year began in the fall. He started out online, then got to return to school for two days a week for three weeks before an outbreak shut his school down in early November. Soon after that, rising case numbers for Arizona forced his entire district to return to online learning to finish out 2020. He’s handled these transitions oddly well. I’m proud of him. This year has been hard, but he has grown in this time. So have I.

That said, I selfishly would like fewer growth-through-adversity moments in 2021, for our sakes and for everyone else, too.

Please help other people end their 2020 and start the new year on a brighter note. Donate to the Edmonton Food Bank today.

Thank you.

Follow the entire blog tour through RhondaParrish.com and her social media.

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#Giftmas2018: Donate to the Edmonton Food Bank & Read Holiday Stories!

Posted by on Dec 18, 2018 in Blog, giftmas | Comments Off on #Giftmas2018: Donate to the Edmonton Food Bank & Read Holiday Stories!

Giftmas 2018

Happy Giftmas! This year I continue the tradition of participating in Rhonda Parrish’s Giftmas Fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. As before, there’s a Rafflecopter below where you can enter for a chance to win some wonderful gifts for yourself (scroll down to find that!). For the first time ever, I’m giving away a Tuckerization within my WIP novel. What’s a Tuckerization? It means someone supplies me a name–their own or their own character’s–and it’s in the book. You could die in fiction! Or have a brief appearance in one scene! Maybe a few lines! I don’t know. I’ll need to see the name first and judge how best to fit it in. As author, I AM the grand arbiter of these kinds of things.

So, why donate to this particular cause? Honestly, one thing I love about this particular fundraiser is that I can donate anonymously, so I’m not nagged for donations via email or snail mail throughout the year! However, the money is also put to good use:

  1. Each dollar raised equals three meals 
  2. Canadian donors can receive a tax receipt for their donation
  3. All donations are in Canadian dollars, so American donors can get amazing value for their donation.

Here’s my story for Giftmas, my flash fic “Rootless,” originally published at Every Day Fiction. Read through then enter the giveaway!


Rootless

Day 1

I am ancient yet not immortal, and I wonder if this is how my death begins.

I have lived in these mountains seasons beyond measure. I have bonded myself with dozens of trees and mourned their mortality as I moved on. However, this is the first time my home-tree has been severed at the base, its roots abandoned. The humans seem pleased with their efforts as they carry us down the mountain.

As a dryad, I can end my link with this pine. There are many other trees that would suffice for me, and yet… I cannot leave, even if it means my death. I have loved this home-tree like no other. It’s still young, scarcely beyond a sapling, but knows such joy as its roots sink deeper and its branches stretch toward the sun.

My tree is hurt and confused. I offer what balm I can through my magic.

Night has fallen. The humans tie the tree to a vehicle. We move, gliding like birds over the ground. Ever-bright lights loom ahead but grant us no warmth. A harsh wind scatters my tree’s needles like seeds as the trunk weeps amber.

Day 2

My tree’s base is nestled into a basin of water–strange water, bland, compared to our rooted home. My tree is appeased, excited. Its innocence both delights and frustrates me.

The sun has been stolen from us. Walls surround us at all sides. I can scarcely sense the earth. Ancient as I am, my wells of magic run deep, but not deep enough to extend the tree’s life beyond a few weeks.

Day 3

My tree, oblivious to our dire circumstances, only knows something has happened to its roots and hopes to resume growth soon.

There are other plants in the house. I can faintly taste their earth and chlorophyll. Without wind to help, it takes me hours to siphon their life essence and weave it into my home-tree.

The humans speak loudly from the next room.

“How can all five poinsettias be dead? I bought them this morning!”

“I don’t know what happened. An hour ago they were fine!”

“Where’s the receipt? I’ll take them back. I better get a refund.”

Day 4

The humans cover my tree’s branches with strange objects of all colors and weights. This includes strange lights that emit little warmth and no nutrition. My tree tastes electricity across its drying branches, and for the first time knows fear.

If fire comes, I can bolster my tree’s resistance for a time, but I cannot force away flames.

Day 10

My tree continues to despair, but now its grief focuses on me.

The tree was beautiful from the time it emerged from earth: straight of trunk, symmetrical, perfectly tapered. My magic made it all the more glorious.

Now, the tree wonders if it was chosen for this death because of me–that I made it too irresistible, its green incomparably vivid. It’s afraid. It regrets accepting my bond at all.

I confess its reaction wounds me even deeper than the loss of root and earth because I fear it may be true. I may have brought this upon the tree I love so very much.

Day 12

Colorful objects nest beneath my tree’s lower branches. The humans radiate excitement.

My tree no longer speaks with me. It resists our bond as much as it can.

As humans come and go from the house, I sometimes taste the outdoors. There are other trees and plants not far away, though I can’t connect long enough to draw on their essence.

I could still abandon my home-tree and drift to a new tree nearby, though it repulses me to think of existing surrounded by humans, their stench. The transition would be easy and I would live. And yet… I hesitate, even as my tree sulks and resists my devotion.

Day 13

Humans fill the house and open the objects at the base of the tree. Music shudders through the branches stronger than birdsong ever did. My tree would dance, if there was wind to play partner, but knows joy even in stillness. I absorb the emotion and grieve what will become of us.

Sound grows louder, sharper. The humans disperse, happiness evaporated. The smell of smoke is sudden and strong.

“The kitchen’s on fire! Get out! Call 911!”

My tree is calm as our bond opens again. It tells me to go. It knows it is drying out and the fire will be fast, and that I should live on and bless another tree.

The doors are open. Brisk winter air blows in and carries the heady essence of life. This is it. This is the opportunity I have awaited.

My tree’s enhanced majesty made it vulnerable; now I will make it all the more majestic, but stronger. Mightier.

I fling out my power, sinking magical tendrils into every nearby plant, and I yank. More people enter, and with them, water flows in a magnificent fountain. Smoke increases as the fire dies with a hiss; I call forth the water as I once lured in rain.

I reach into my ancient self. I take everything, I offer everything.

Life pours into my tree. I shove the energy downward, upward. I tell it to grow. To live. To take on such height and girth that it will never again be rendered rootless.

New roots shove through metal, through gray as dense as caliche, and find blessed dirt. They sink deeper, deeper. Branches snap through the walls and ceiling and discover the sun. Life burbles through my tree. I am overjoyed, even as I dwindle, spent.

My magic is no more. I am almost no more, a mere wisp of dryad, but our bond roars like a river in spring thaw. My tree cradles my spirit within its broad trunk. I am content. I am home.

originally published at Every Day Fiction


 

Click here to donate to the Edmonton Food Bank for Giftmas 2018

 

Yesterday’s Giftmas with Laura VanArendonk Baugh | Tomorrow’s Giftmas with Jennifer Lee Rossman

 

You don’t need to donate to Giftmas to enter the Rafflecopter, but we sure encourage it–and it gets you another entry in the giveaway!

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Giftmas Guest Post: Jennifer Lee Rossman on Shining a Light and SAD

Posted by on Dec 8, 2017 in Blog, giftmas | Comments Off on Giftmas Guest Post: Jennifer Lee Rossman on Shining a Light and SAD

Giftmas 2017

 

Rhonda Parrish, editor of Mrs. Claus, has put together this Giftmas blog swap to raise money for the Edmonton Food Bank.

She’s also organized a Rafflecopter giveaway filled with great prizes (including custom cross stitch by yours truly).

This year’s theme is “Shine a Light.”

It’s winter, which means long, dark days for us in the northern hemisphere. Around this time of year, Seasonal Affective Disorder can start to depress us.

Less natural light, more isolation from family during what’s supposed to be a time of gathering and joy… it’s no wonder a lot of people feel hopeless.

Maybe I’m the odd one out, but I’ve always found winter to be the most beautiful, hopeful season. Snow clinging to trees in the moonlight, getting to snuggle under the blankets with a cat and watch football…

The world is stripped of color and life and everything seems bleak, but I see it as more of a blank slate so we can get a chance to start again in spring.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Jennifer Lee Rossman is a science fiction geek from Oneonta, New York, where she cross stitches, watches Doctor Who, and threatens to run over people with her wheelchair. Her work has been featured in Circuits & Slippers, Syntax & Salt, and Cast of Wonders. Follow her blog and her Twitter account.

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Through the Fog: A Giftmas 2017 Blog Post to Benefit the Edmonton Food Bank

Posted by on Dec 7, 2017 in Blog, giftmas | 2 comments

Giftmas 2017

Rhonda Parrish has organized the Giftmas Blog Tour to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank. You can also enter to win loads of prizes! Scroll down to find a Rafflecopter giveaway.

The theme of Giftmas this year is to “Shine a Light.” Therefore, I am sharing a memory of foggy darkness… and the light of home that awaits.


I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley of California, a broad swath of terrain that was once grassland and marshes, now converted to agriculture. Each winter, a phenomenon called tule fog occurs often from November through February. Think of horror movies that feature fog–a completely impenetrable cloud where the world ceases to exist beyond five feet, where driving at night requires that a car door be held ajar so that the driver can follow the painted lines directly below.

The fog is at its worst soon after a rain, though it can happen any time through the winter, as the land remembers it once was swamp and radiates moisture. The fog often lingers into the morning, too. When I went to school, I never experienced a snow day, but I often had foggy day schedule, where school didn’t start until about 10am. Sometimes the fog was still awful at that time, too. Those are the kinds of days where people avoid driving, if they have any choice. Car accidents are inevitable. Every few years, there are disastrous pile-ups on I-5 or Highway 99, some involving as many as a hundred cars.

As a child, the fog both awed and terrified me. Driving through it was the stuff of nightmares. The car rolling along at a mere ten miles an hour, Christmas lights and street lights nonexistent. Hoping that no one was walking in the fog, that no cars flew at us out of the ether.

Waiting, praying, for the faint lights of home to glimmer at the end of the driveway.

Home felt especially welcoming on those cold, isolating, foggy nights. It provided a refuge where my heart could resume a placid rhythm, where I could warm myself by a crackling fire. Where I was safe, supper awaiting in a hot crockpot.

Not everyone has that refuge, that hot food to await them after the strain of the day. That’s why I’m asking for you to contribute to the Giftmas fundraiser–and to your local charities, too. Everyone everywhere needs some help and hope. We need that faint light that penetrates the fog.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

#SFWAPro

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Giftmas Wrap-Up: Donate to the Edmonton Food Bank!

Posted by on Dec 12, 2016 in Blog, giftmas | 2 comments

Today is the final day of the Giftmas Blog Tour. Last Monday, I shared my Cake Batter White Chocolate Fudge recipe to bring attention to Rhonda Parrish’s organized tour to raise funds for the Edmonton Food Bank. Please donate if you can! (Funds are shown in Canadian dollars.) 2016 has been a cruel year, and 2017 doesn’t look much better.

Let’s share some food and love.

2016-giftmasblog-tour-1

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