Giftmas 2018: December 3rd

Edmonton has been good to me. In addition to being full of friends, and one of my favourite cities to visit, the hero of my first novel is from there, and most of my third is set there. And so I was thrilled to donate a story to Rhonda Parrish’s fundraiser in support of the Edmonton Food Bank. This year we’re trying to raise $750, which could translate into 2250 meals.

If you missed S.G. Wong’s story on December 1st, or Alexandra Seidel’s story yesterday, you can read S.G. Wong’s story here, and Alexandra Seidel’s here. You’ll find information about the other Giftmas contributors at the end of this blog.

Please read, and enjoy, and if you can, please donate to our cause. There is also a Rafflecopter giveaway full of prizes. Check them out at Rhonda’s website!

My story, The Gift that Keeps on Giving, started its life as a holiday challenge to my writing group for our December meeting many moons ago. It has since appeared on this website as a gift to my readers, but it’s been a while since I’ve shared it, so here we go again, and happy reading!

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Nicholas stepped nimbly over the coals still smoldering within the fireplace. He had years of practice, and nary an ash clung to his polished, gleaming black boot. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? He smiled at the old joke. Practice.

But in all those years, this was something new. It was new, and that bothered him. He pulled the long parchment list from within his heavy coat. Checking it once, he didn’t like what he saw.

He checked it twice.

But there was no disputing it. This house wasn’t on his list. Nicholas shouldn’t have stopped here. There was no longer a reason for him to have stopped here. That poor little girl. He shook his head. There had been nothing he could have done. Not all wishes can be granted. He sighed ruefully. And not all pains can be soothed with toys. It had broken his heart, what she had wished for, but it just wasn’t within his power to grant.

There were no decorations in this house. No tree. No garland. No mistletoe. Framed photographs lined the mantle of the fireplace, but no stockings dangled beneath the images of a once happy family.

Nicholas turned his back on the unhappy dwelling and started back towards the chimney. A creak on the stairs stopped him in his boots. It was a soft noise, followed by the shuffle of fabric over hardwood.

A child’s slippers.

He couldn’t be seen, unless he chose to be. That was the one rule that governed, and protected him. Him, and the magic of Christmas both.

“Santa,” a weak voice rasped from the stairs.

It was a rule he often broke.

“Yes, my child,” Nicholas answered as he turned; ready to flash the hundred watt smile that would bring a rosy cheeked, dimpled grin to the girl’s face. Perhaps the list was mistaken?

The smile died as he saw her, now practically on top of him. She’d crossed the intervening distance between them in a flash. Her breath, coppery and rank, wafted over him, and her grip upon his mittened hand was too firm to shake.

“You didn’t bring me what I asked for last year,” she said petulantly as she pressed her tongue to an oversized canine. A bead of black blood welled up slowly from the small wound. “But someone did.”

Nicholas screamed as she jerked his head down by his snowy white beard. Blood sprayed across the girl’s little face.

His blood.

She lapped at the arterial spray, like an animal. Her face was a vision of ecstasy. His eyes stopped focusing as she whispered in his ear.

“Now every child in the whole world will get my wish.”

*

Later, in every house that still believed in such things—and there were many—children left out plates of homemade cookies, and tumblers of milk, beading with condensation. Wherever they had succumbed to slumber a voice whispered through teeth that glinted like knives, and a stained rusty beard.

“I never drink…milk.”

Art by S.M. Beiko.

The next post can be found on Michael Tager’s site, here.

Check out the rest of the participants, and when to expect them below. If you enjoyed my story and want to support #Giftmas2018 please share this story, and those of my fellow authors.

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Central Canada Comic Con & Creative Colleagues

I can’t believe that C4 (Central Canada Comic Con) is only a week away!

It’s definitely going to be a mad dash to that finish line to get everything done I’d like to have done beforehand, and an even madder weekend during the con. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Because I love working with friends. And I’ll have a lot of them at this convention.

First off, Prix Aurora nominated artist (for his work on a live blog of his reading of the Thunder Road Trilogy), and illustrator of my 2014 C4 project, A Simple Twist of Fate, Kevin Madison will be at C4 for the first time in Artist Alley. He surprised me on Thanksgiving with this piece:

Ted with Ravens

Love it! Check out more of his work.

Samantha Beiko is the illustrator of a couple of my other projects that’ll be debuting at C4 in addition to being a top-flight editor and author. Sam’s a triple threat, and the real deal.

Here’s a taste of her work:

Ted New Year's Eve by SM Beiko

Samantha will also be at C4 as her alter-ego: Valkyrie Books, a bookstore that until now, has existed only in her imagination. She’ll be selling the latest speculative fiction goodies, as well as a selection of titles by local authors (including yours truly).

I love having a table around GMB Chomichuk, it’s such a good vibe and good energy. We finally got to work together, putting a little story bindup of Lovecraftian Madness together called Shared World. We each contributed a story and Gregory brought his wicked art sensibilities to the cover and interiors. Gregory talked about how the project came together on his blog last week, and how he blames me, but Samantha Beiko made the craziness possible. Thanks also to Silvia Moreno-Garcia for writing us a kickass introduction.

Our first (hopefully of many) Valkyrie Books Secret Editions: Shared World!

SharedWorldposter1

The third (but definitely not last) of my Scott Henderson commissions just arrived. Scott did a killer Thunder Road illustration after reading the book, and I loved it so much I asked him to do a Tilda drawing to celebrate the publication of Tombstone Blues.

Here’s what he cooked up for Too Far Gone:

TOOFARGONE_INK

This is just the inks, to see the full colour amazing, you’ll have to come by my or Scott’s tables at C4. I fucking wept to see it. Also, sorry for all the stuff that happens to you in Too Far Gone, Edmonton.

Finally, speaking of creative colleagues, Dave Gross hosted me on his blog’s Creative Colleagues feature! Send him your clicks please.

Write on.

A Few Questions About Writing

My northern Manitoba colleague, Lauren Carter, author of Swarm, tagged me recently and asked me to take part in a blog tour happening in the literary community across Canada. The gist of it is that I’m assigned four questions and then invite two other writers to join in. Here goes:

What am I working on?

I have a number of projects on the go right now, most notably the third book in the Thunder Road Trilogy, which you should see in Fall 2015. I’m also polishing up some short stories set in the world of the trilogy to keep you all occupied until next year.

In addition to my Norse Myth-influenced work, I’m editing the first book in an entirely new urban fantasy series, trying my hand at comic book scripting, and co-hosting and organizing the Winnipeg arm of the Chiaroscuro Reading Series with fellow author Samantha Beiko.

How does my work differ from other works in its genre?

Since my series is influenced by Norse myth, I’m not retelling the big ending of that myth cycle–Ragnarök, the Fate of the Gods–in the Thunder Road universe, that fate has already been dealt. In the Marvel Comics take on Thor, Ragnarök has happened at least three times, but what struck me as a myth fan was how interesting the stories that came after were to me. When Ragnarök is on the table, that is the only place the story can go. It’s inevitable. Having that great battle in the past also allowed me to avoid “ruining” any stories people might have loved from the sagas. They are there. They happened. My only caveat to this is that in my books, Loki survived his prophesied death (because if anyone could weasel his way out of his fate, it would be him).

Another notable difference is probably my use of Manitoba as a setting–not a place most people think of when they think of magic. I’ve read very little fantasy that uses Western Canada (and Manitoba in particular) as a setting, and I think there’s a lot to left to be said in this part of Canada.

Why do I write what I do?

I love juxtaposing the magical and the mundane and the Urban Fantasy genre is great at that. I grew up with old Tarzan and Lone Ranger stories, so adventure was set in my bones from an early age. When I went to listening to stories to reading them, comic books were my gateway (and I still read them) and I went from those to Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasies. I can’t imagine wanting to write anything else. Fantasy allows me to write anything, and unlike my more realistically inclined writing colleagues, I get to have dragons and robots too.

How does my writing process work?

Barely. Ba dum bump.

But seriously…

I am what is usually referred to as a “pantser” (as in I write by the seat of my pants). No plotting, no outlining. For me, writing is a lot like driving at night: the headlights allow me to see just enough to keep going, even when I can’t see my destination.

I’m a huge music fan (all of the chapter titles in Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues are taken from songs) and I also write to music, so it has seeped deeper into my process. One of the first things I do when I’m starting a new story is make a large playlist of songs that feel like how I want the story to feel. As I write and listen, I winnow them down to about twenty or so that form my book’s playlist. That soundtrack also happens to be an emotional outline of how I want the book to feel.

There are exceptions to this. The third book in the trilogy turned out to be something I couldn’t “pants”. I had built up the architecture of the series, and wrote certain scenes as they came to me while drafting the first two books. Because I wasn’t entering the world fresh, by necessity it required a bit more of a structured approach to writing than I am accustomed to. Not a bad thing, just not usually my thing.

Next up, author and illustrator, GMB Chomichuk and author and Valkyrie Books proprietor, Samantha Beiko!

My Keycon 31 Schedule

Are you coming to Keycon 31? I hope so! It’s shaping up to be a good one. Author guests include: David Gerrold, Tanya Huff, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Robert J. Sawyer will be attending, as well as a bunch of awesome local folks, such as: S.M. Beiko, Gerald Brandt, GMB Chomichuk, Karen Dudley, Shayla Elizabeth, Lindsay Kitson, and Sherry Peters.

If you’re around, here’s where you’ll find me:

  • Reading (with Samantha Beiko) – 9pm Friday
  • Locally Grown – 12pm Saturday
  • Using Setting & Culture to Shape Characters – 1pm Saturday
  • Sparking Creativity – 4pm Saturday
  • Autograph Session – 12pm Sunday

Do come and say hello!

 

Tombstone Blues and ChiSeries Winnipeg shortlisted for Aurora Awards!

I’m thrilled to be able to finally announce that Tombstone Blues is shortlisted for an Aurora Award in the Best English Novel category.

It was hard to sit on that news for the last couple weeks, I assure you. I’m also nominated in the Best Fan Organization category alongside my pal and co-chair, S.M. Beiko (who is also nominated for her debut YA novel, The Lake and the Library, and the anthology she co-edited, Imaginarium 2013. Go SAM!) for the Winnipeg arm of the Chiaroscuro Reading Series.

It’s great to see so many authors I admire–and so many friends–on this year’s ballot. Once again, I am in some pretty impressive company. Congratulations to all the nominees!

Best English Novel

Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer, Penguin Canada
River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay, Viking Canada
The Tattooed Witch by Susan MacGregor, Five Rivers
Tombstone Blues by Chadwick Ginther, Ravenstone Books
A Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books

Best English YA (Young Adult) Novel

The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Demon Gate by Marty Chan, Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Ink by Amanda Sun, Harlequin Teen
The Lake and the Library by S.M. Beiko, ECW Press
Out of Time by D.G. Ladroute, Five Rivers
Resolve by Neil Godbout, Bundoran Press
The Rising by Kelley Armstrong, Doubleday Canada

Best English Short Fiction

“A Bunny Hug for Karl” by Mike Rimar, Masked Mosaic, Canadian Super Stories, Tyche Books
“Angela and Her Three Wishes” by Eileen Bell, The Puzzle Box, EDGE
“The Awakening of Master March” by Randy McCharles, The Puzzle Box, EDGE
“Ghost in the Machine” by Ryan McFadden, The Puzzle Box, EDGE
“The Gift” by Susan Forest, Urban Green Man, EDGE
“Green Man She Restless” by Billie Milholland, Urban Green Man, EDGE
“Living Bargains” by Suzanne Church, When the Hero Comes Home 2, Dragon Moon Press

Best English Poem/Song

“A City of Buried Rivers” by Clink, David, The Literary Review of Canada, vol. 21, no. 9,
November
“Awake” by Peter Storey, Urban Green Man, EDGE
“The Collected Postcards of Billy the Kid” by Helen Marshall, Postscripts to Darkness, Issue 4, October
“Lost” by Amal El-Mohtar, Strange Horizons, February
“Night Journey: West Coast” by Kernaghan, Eileen, Tesseracts Seventeen: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast, EDGE
“Turning the Leaves” by Amal El-Mohtar, Apex Magazine, Issue 55, December

Best English Graphic Novel

Looking for Group by Ryan Sohmer and Lar DeSouza, webcomic
Rock, Paper, Cynic by Peter Chiykowski, webcomic
Weregeek by Alina Pete, webcomic
Wild Game: Sweet Tooth Vol. 6 by Jeff Lemire, Vertigo
Best English Related Work

The Puzzle Box by The Apocalyptic Four, EDGE
Urban Green Man edited by Adria Laycraft and Janice Blaine EDGE
On Spec published by the Copper Pig Writers’ Society
Suzenyms by Susan MacGregor, blog suzenyms.blogspot.ca
Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing edited by Sandra Kasturi and
Samantha Beiko, ChiZine Publications & Tightrope Books

Best Artist

Erik Mohr, cover art for ChiZine Publications
Melissa Mary Duncan, illustrations and cover art
Dan O’Driscoll, covers for Bundoran Press and the SF Aurora banner
Apis Teicher, body of work
Tanya Montini, cover design for The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Demon Gate

Best Fan Publications

No award will be given out in this category in 2014 due to insufficient eligible nominees

Best Fan Music

Brooke Abbey for writing and publishing 12 songs
Debs & Errol for CTRL+ALT+DUETS, EP
Chris Hadfield for his performance of Space Oddity
Kari Maaren for Beowulf Pulled My Arm Off, CD
Devin Melanson, Leslie Hudson and, Kari Maaren for Pirate Elves in Space, CD

Best Fan Organizational

Evelyn Baker and Alana Otis-Wood, co-chairs Ad Astra, Toronto
S.M. Beiko and Chadwick Ginther, co-chairs Chiaroscuro Reading Series, ChiSeries Winnipeg
Sandra Kasturi and James Bambury, co-chairs Chiaroscuro Reading Series, ChiSeries Toronto
Randy McCharles, chair When Words Collide, Calgary
Matt Moore, chair Ottawa Chiaroscuro Reading Series, ChiSeries Ottawa
Rose Wilson, Art Show Director, VCON 38, Vancouver

Best Fan Related Work

R. Graeme Cameron, weekly column in Amazing Stories Magazine
Steve Fahnestalk, weekly column in Amazing Stories Magazine
Robert Runté, ”Why I Read Canadian Speculative Fiction: The Social Dimension of Reading”, Scholar Keynote Address at ACCSFF ’13, Toronto

Thunder Road & Tombstone Blues Shortlisted At Manitoba Book Awards!

I’m very excited to say that both of my books are shortlisted for awards at this year’s Manitoba Book Awards, Thunder Road for the Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction, and Tombstone Blues for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. I’m also very pleased to see so many of my friends on the shortlists as well: congratulations David Annandale, Samantha Beiko, Anita DaherKaren Dudley and Janice MacDonald!

Being nominated for the genre fiction award is especially wonderful, as Michael was a friend and mentor when I was getting started on the writing path. One of my first blog posts was about what Michael means to me. If you haven’t given his Monty Haaviko crime novels a chance, please do, you’re in for a treat.

Congrats to all the nominees, and see you at the gala!

Write on!

Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-FictionPrix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais

Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One / Aimée Craft / Purich Publishing Ltd.

Canadian Policing in the 21st Century / Robert Chrismas / McGill-Queen’s University Press.

The Constructed Mennonite: History, Memory, and the Second World War / Hans Werner / University of Manitoba Press

“Indians Wear Red”: Colonialism, Resistance and Aboriginal Street Gangs / Elizabeth Comack, Lawrence Deane, Larry Morrissette & Jim Silver / Fernwood Publishing

Best Illustrated Book of the YearMeilleur livre illustré de l’année

300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba / Bill Wright & Dave Craig / Great Plains Publications / design by Relish New Brand Experience

Confessions sans pénitence / Lise Gaboury-Diallo / Les Éditions du Blé / graphiste Philippe Dupas /  illustrations par Denis Devigne

Itty Bitty Bits / Anita Daher / Peanut Butter Press / illustrations by Wendy Bailey / design by Melanie Matheson, Blue Claw Studio

Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot! / by Beryl Young / Peanut Butter Press / llustrations by Jason Doll / design by Lee Huscroft

Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book

Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One / Aimée Craft / Purich Publishing Ltd.

Happiness Threads, The Unborn Poems / Melanie Dennis Unrau / The Muse’s Company, J G Shillingford

The Lake and the Library / S.M. Beiko / ECW Press Ltd.

Carol Shields Winnipeg Book AwardPrix littéraire Carol-Shields de la ville de Winnipeg

Rebel Without a Pause: A Memoir / Nick Ternette / Roseway Publishing, an imprint of Fernwood Publishing

The Silent March / by C.M. Klyne / Self-published

Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg / text by Bartley Kives, photographs by Bryan Scott / Great Plains Publications

Tombstone Blues / Chadwick Ginther / Ravenstone Books, an imprint of Turnstone Press

The Wittenbergs / Sarah Klassen / Turnstone Press.

John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer

Jonathan Ball

Melanie Dennis Unrau

Laurelyn Whitt

Lansdowne Prize for Poetry | Prix Lansdowne de poésie

Sûtra /  J. R. Léveillé / Les Éditions du Blé

Tempo / Barthélemy Bolivar / Les Éditions du Blé

Tether / Laurelyn Whitt / Seraphim Editions

Manuela Dias Book Design of the YearPrix Manuela-Dias de conception graphique en édition

100 Masters: Only in Canada / Stephen Borys with Andrew Kear / the Winnipeg Art Gallery / design by Frank Reimer

300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba / Bill Wright & Dave Craig / published by Great Plains Publications /design by Relish New Brand Experience.

Confessions sans pénitence / Lise Gaboury-Diallo / Les Éditions du Blé / graphiste Philippe Dupas / illustrations par Denis Devigne

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow / William Dumas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press) / design by Relish New Brand Experience Inc. / illustrations by Leonard Paul

Powwow Counting in Cree / Penny M. Thomas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press), design by Relish New Brand Experience Inc., illustrations by Melinda Josie

Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

The Insistent Garden / Rosie Chard / NeWest Press

Sebastiano’s Vine / Carmelo Militano / Ekstasis Editions

Ten Lords A Leaping / C.C. Bennison / Doubleday Canada

Wolf River / Margaret Riddell / Self-published

The Wittenbergs / Sarah Klassen / Turnstone Press

Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba PublisherPrix Mary-Scorer pour le meilleur livre par un éditeur du Manitoba

300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba / Bill Wright and Dave Craig / Great Plains Publications

Condemned to Repeat: A Randy Craig Mystery / Janice MacDonald / Ravenstone, an imprint of Turnstone Press

Manitoba Butterflies: A Field Guide / Simone Hébert Allard / Turnstone Press

The Wittenbergs / Sarah Klassen / Turnstone Press

McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award – Younger Category

A Walk in Pirate’s Cove / Marisa Hochman / 36 Peonies Publishing Inc.

Powwow Counting in Cree / Penny M. Thomas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press),

Surviving the Hindenburg / Larry Verstraete / Sleeping Bear Press

McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award – Older Category

The Fall / Colleen Nelson / Great Plains Teen Fiction

The Gypsy King / Maureen Fergus / Penguin Canada Books Inc

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow / William Dumas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press)

McNally Robinson Book of the Year

The Constructed Mennonite: History, Memory, and the Second World War/ Hans Werner / University of Manitoba Press

Kisiskatchewan: The Great River Road / Barbara Huck / Heartland Associates Inc.

The Secret Mask / Rick Chafe / Playwrights Canada Press

Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction (2012/2013)

Food for the Gods: An Epikurean Epic / Karen Dudley / Turnstone Press

Gethsemane Hall / David Annandale / Dundurn

Thunder Road / Chadwick Ginther/ Turnstone Press

The Manitoba Writers’ Guild would like to thank this year’s awards sponsors:

Canada Council for the Arts
Friesen’s
Manitoba Arts Council
McNally Robinson Booksellers
Manitoba Tourism, Culture, Sport and Consumer Protection
Prairie Fire Press Inc.
Winnipeg Arts Council
The Winnipeg Foundation
Winnipeg International Writers’ Festival.

The 2013 Manitoba Book Awards take place Sunday April 27, 2014 at the West End Cultural Centre. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the ceremonies begin at 7:00 pm. Admission is FREE.