#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!


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



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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.


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Snowed in: A Giftmas Guest Blog from Jennifer Crow

Posted by on Dec 7, 2016 in Blog, giftmas, guest | Comments Off on Snowed in: A Giftmas Guest Blog from Jennifer Crow


One of the first things anyone learns while growing up in Maine is that winter weather means preparing, adjusting plans, or else spending some quality time stuck in a snowdrift. For us kids, a blizzard brought adventure and welcome days off from school, an extra morning or two of sleeping in, or an afternoon sledding and sneaking extra marshmallows into the hot chocolate. Snow usually meant extra fun.

giftmas-crow1_smBut even Christmas wasn’t off-limits for those polar blasts that swept down out of the northern forests to whomp my hometown. One Christmas morning we woke up to a foot or two of the white stuff and more still falling. My sisters and I were in a frenzy of frustration because Grandma and Grandpa were supposed to join us after breakfast—already way too far in the future—and between Grandpa’s slow driving speed and Gram’s nervousness with regard to his driving and the weather, it looked to my siblings and I like the vital present-opening part of the day might get pushed back until the January thaw.

Dad stepped in to rescue the day, and his in-laws, by heading out in his truck to pick them up. While he was gone, Mom called our elderly neighbors and honorary grandparents to see if they’d weathered the storm. Yes, they were warm in their little farm house, but they wouldn’t be driving to their son’s home while snow was still flying.

“Go get them,” Mom told Dad when he’d returned from fetching the grandparents. “Patience and Karl won’t be able to get to Norm’s in this weather.”

“Okay,” Dad said.

“Patience will tell you not to bother,” Mom added. “Do not listen to her.”

“Right,” said Dad. (I think he liked knowing he and the truck could not be defeated by a little blizzard.)

So that was how we ended up eating Christmas dinner with both the grandparents we expected, and the adopted grandparents we hadn’t planned on. I always thought of that as the ‘Kidnap Christmas,’ but the truth is, that meal which we stretched a little farther, that table where we squeezed a little more, was one of the best holiday dinners I remember. The pictures from that day still make me smile.giftmas-crow2_sm

Today the world seems a little colder, a little more unsteady than it did when I was a kid. But I haven’t forgotten the lessons of the Kidnap Christmas, and how little it took to make the world a better place for someone in a time of need. If we can help, through the Giftmas Blog Tour, to provide for families who are at risk, that will be one small way to keep the darkness and the cold at bay.

Light a candle. Add an extra leaf to the table. No matter the strength of the storm, there’s always something we can do to make a difference.

This year, the Giftmas Blog Tour is raising money for the Edmonton Food Bank. The link to our page is

Please help us to make sure some needy families have what they need for the holidays. No one should be going without a warm, wholesome meal.





Jennifer Crow has been writing speculative poetry for almost twenty five years now, which is probably a sign that her judgment is not to be trusted. Her collection of fairy tale poems, The First Bite of the Apple, was published in 2013 and nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Elgin Award. She lives near a waterfall in western New York.

Read some of her recent poems in Uncanny Magazine, Mythic Delirium, and Mithila Review.


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Giftmas Bready or Not: Cake Batter White Chocolate Fudge (Microwave)

Posted by on Dec 5, 2016 in Blog, Bready or Not, cake mix, chocolate, fudge, giftmas, no-bake dessert | Comments Off on Giftmas Bready or Not: Cake Batter White Chocolate Fudge (Microwave)


I’m offering a holiday-favorite Bready or Not recipe again to help kick off Rhonda Parrish’s Giftmas Blog Tour. Rhonda lives up in Edmonton, Alberta, and she’s hoping to raise funds for the Edmonton Food Bank. I’m all about helping to feed people! Please donate if you can. Note that funds are listed in Canadian dollars.

Rhonda is also doing a giveaway as part of the tour. She’s making a crocheted throw. The winner gets to choose the color, and she is shipping it anywhere in the world!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wander around to other stops on the tour over the next week. I’ll post another favorite recipe at Eileen Bell’s site on the 10th!


This is a sweet cause, so here’s a recipe to make something especially sweet: microwave fudge that uses cake mix!

Cake Mix White Choc Fudge

Eating this fudge is like licking the paddle after mixing up cake mix batter. If you prefer savory over sweet, this recipe isn’t for you. This is for the people who love fudge and frosting and all things sweet.

Cake Mix White Choc Fudge

I didn’t limit myself to sprinkles in this. I had some Christmas candies, the type for topping cupcakes and such, that had been sealed away for a year. It had been a great post-holiday clearance buy. I wanted the containers GONE, so I pretty much dumped the contents into this fudge. That’s why you see little light bulb shaped candies in there.

Cake Mix White Choc Fudge

This is obviously a great Christmas recipe, but it’s an easy one to customize year round depending on the colors you mix in. Make fudge to support your favorite sport team, or pink and red for Valentine’s Day, or pastels for spring. Cake mix goes on sale all year round, too, making this a pretty cheap recipe to throw together.

Whatever you add in, I’m sure it will be pretty. And delicious. So very, very delicious.

Modified from Sally’s Baking Addiction.


Bready or Not: Cake Batter White Chocolate Fudge (Microwave)

Quick, no-fuss microwave fudge.
Course: Dessert
Keyword: no bake, quick fudge
Author: Beth Cato


  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp white or yellow cake mix any brand, sifted
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar sifted
  • 1/2 cup salted butter cut into chunks (or use unsalted and add a pinch of salt)
  • 1/4 cup milk almond milk works
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles/non pareils/jimmies


  • Line an 8×8 baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside. Measure the white chocolate chips and the sprinkles in separate dishes so they are ready to add quickly.
  • Mix sifted cake mix and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add milk and butter, without stirring, and microwave for 2 minutes.
  • Promptly mix ingredients until the butter is fully melted and incorporated. The batter will be very thick. Fold in white chocolate. Add the sprinkles last and stir gently so they don't leak too much color.
  • Scoop into prepared baking pan. Level it across the top. Chill the fudge in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before cutting into small blocks.
  • Fudge will keep upwards of a week in the fridge, if it lasts that long.


    Cake Mix White Choc Fudge




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