Giftmas 2023

The sun is setting over a lake with the words "Giftmas 2023" written on it.

Update: We did it! See note at bottom.

Once upon a time, there was a town.

It wasn’t a city, large and anonymous and impersonal. It wasn’t a tiny village, either, with only a few households of families local for generations. No, this was a town, of exactly the size you’d think of in a heart-warming holiday tale, and populated entirely by middle-class folk with harmless quirks and mildly interesting jobs.

Henry (he sponsored lighted wreaths for two lamp posts on the town square) noticed it first. He watched for a moment, and when it was time for his coffee break he went next door to the post office (garland on the counter, with some fairy lights twisted in) and pointed it out to Tanya. She was intrigued, and she thought to take a photo and text Miranda (who saw to the lighted and animated Grinch figure in front of the library). Miranda knew Todd (lighted candy canes for the courthouse lawn) would have a good view, so she asked him to walk by and report.

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Holiday Cards! 2023 Edition

pine cone and ornaments on Christmas tree, courtesy PicJumbo

🎶It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….🎶

Well, not really. We still have Halloween and American Thanksgiving to go. But in terms of planning ahead… It’s time again!

Every year, I offer to send Christmas cards to anyone who wants one. It’s been so much fun to send cards all over the world! But we’re doing the holiday cards a little differently this year, so please read about the new options.

Last year the number of people who requested a Christmas card quadrupled from the previous year. Quadrupled. I was honestly thrilled and delighted! But on the grinch-y pragmatic side, that was hundreds of dollars in postage, not to mention printing costs or the hours of signing cards. I regret nothing! but I should consider future costs.

That said, I don’t want to stop sending Christmas cards. I’ve heard from some of you how this might be one of only a few cards or even the only card to come in, making this one important, so we’re keeping the cards.

So how could I continue offering unlimited holiday cards, and maybe also offer something else special? After consideration, I came up with this idea, and I hope you like it. This year, you have three choices:

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It’s Giftmas Time Again! 2022

Giftmas 2022 with greenery and candle background

If you’ve been around with me before, you know Giftmas is an annual charity fundraiser, and if you’re in a big hurry today, no worries — here’s the link to do good. If you’ve got some time, you can read my musings on light in darkness, too. Thanks!

Solstice. Festivals of Lights. The Christ Mass. Holiday lights. Winterlights.

Even with so many traditions among our eight billion global citizens, light in the darkness is a universal thread in mid-winter observances. There’s a reason we drape LEDs over anything that holds still (and some things that don’t) and spread glitter and sequins to reflect every photon from every facet. In the dark of winter, we celebrate the light.

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Giftmas 2021: The Thrilling Conclusion!

Giftmas 2021

You might know that every year I join Rhonda Parrish and a coterie of authors for Giftmas, a blog tour to raise funds for the Edmonton food bank. This year we have a goal of raising $1200 CAD, which will provide 3600 meals through the exponential leverage of bulk non-profit purchases. And if you’re donating in USD (or Euros or many other currencies), your donation is even more powerful!

By this time I’m sure I don’t need to explain how vital food banks and support efforts are for individuals and for society as a whole. It’s been a hard couple of years for many; let’s work together to help.

We’ve done many things on the Giftmas blog tour, but this year we’re trying something new: an exquisite corpse story! And before you cover the kiddies’ eyes, it’s not what it sounds like. It’s a method of collaborative storytelling in which each author writes a section with no plan, no outline, and no discussion with those writing before or after. Each author receives a story in progress, adds to it, and passes it to the next. It’s fun, and it’s challenging, and you can find the start of ours here.

And you can find its end here below!

But first:

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The Tale’s End

“But I want to find Sir Eldrick, too,” Clover protested as Cherie adjusted her legs to accommodate his spreading wings. “Can’t the snowmen wait?”

“As you supposed, the answers I found in the tower were as much for me as for the two of you.” Cherie settled the flamethrower into a more comfortable position. “This world really is like the real world—I mean, the world I think of as mine. And it really is connected. I just need to practice and build my confidence: if I can strike a deal with Santa to restore a polluted stream and get a flamethrower in my stocking, then I can make real changes at home, too. If I can fight carnivorous snowmen, I can fight for watersheds at home. And if things get tough”—she gave a little test spurt of fire—“then there’s always a Plan B.” She paused. “Besides, I think Agnes will be more successful with some space.”

“But we need you here.” Agnes glanced about, eyes flicking as if in search of something.

“Great-Aunt Agnes, you are the boldest and most competent woman I know—aside from your roofing skills, but we needn’t quibble. You have a magical talking snow fox to help you. And you’ve known the answer all along, haven’t you?”

Agnes opened her mouth, hesitated, closed it.

“You left that doorknob on the outside of the portal—in an attic, where it couldn’t have dropped from the door by the living room fire. You were waiting for me at the footbridge, though you couldn’t have known I’d gone looking for Giftmas decorations. You wanted me to come.”

Clover looked at Agnes, who nodded slowly.

“You and Clover tried to get into the tower. You did not ask Septimus to break into the tower, though it would have been far simpler for a size-shifting magical fox. And Septimus has owed you a favor, or several, as I heard when you asked him to carry us ahead of the snowmen.”

Agnes shook her head. “That’s enough. You don’t have to say more.”

“I do,” Cherie protested gently. “Because Clover deserves to know. Even more, Septimus deserves to know.”

“Agnes.” Clover looked down his long face and whuffled softly. “What happened?”

“He was poisoned,” Agnes said. “By the pollutants. Magical pollutants needed a magical cure, and I made a deal to save his life.”

Clover’s head jerked upward. “That’s—is it…?”

She nodded. “Septimus is Sir Eldrick. He remembers only some of what happened.”

Clover’s wings flexed uneasily. “But a deal to save him in another form… There’s only one with that kind of magic.”

“And it’s not very Giftmas-y to talk about him,” Agnes said quickly. “So let’s not ruin the holiday mood.”

“But Agnes, when he comes to claim—”

“Then he’ll come.” Agnes’s voice was firm, final, and sad.

“Fortunately, I’ll have leveled up on a few dozen snowmen by then.” Cherie slapped the flamethrower. “New year, new me, new fire toy. Leave a peppermint stick for old St. Nick and flick it with your Bic. I did say I wanted to make some real changes, didn’t I?” She twisted a hand into Clover’s thick mane. “Let’s ride.”

Thank you for joining all of us on the tour! And tune in tomorrow for Rhonda’s big finish.

Cards on the way

Every year I send Christmas cards to readers who want one (and now to my Patreon fam too). I design a new holiday postcard and send it to anywhere in the world it’s requested (barring current USPS international restrictions, thanks DeJoy). It’s fun!

stack of cards, top signed "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Laura VAB"

It is, however, a lot of signing. Every card is handwritten. And, as I mentioned, each year I design a new card. This year, I started signing and realized about 80% of the way through that the phrase I’d chosen to write on the back of the cards was the same as what I’d included on the front of the cards. /facepalm/ Oh, well, at least I’ve emphasized the seasonal message!

It’s fun to see where the requests come from and where the cards go. The United States and Canada receive the bulk, with the UK and Australia coming next. And then there’s Peru, South Korea, South Africa… I think we had 9 countries this year, if I recall correctly. And now I’m getting cards back from readers, which is delightful! This beautiful specimen was the first to arrive:

Christmas card showing Bethlehem, star, and text "A Christmas Prayer"

The process was assisted this year by my new thermal printer. I acquired this to help with shipping, and it’s amazing. Here it is running one stream of address labels:

They’re already in the mail, so watch for your card soon!

If you missed the signup to receive a card, I’m sorry! I do mention it in my newsletter and on social media, and you can watch for the announcement every November. Or if you’re a supporter on my Patreon, it’s automatic, no need to sign up.

If you want to give me more chances to play with my nifty thermal printer and justify my investment, you can order books and swag here directly from me, and I’ll ship it directly to you, signed and everything.

(If you’re wondering what printer I’m using, it’s here.)

G is for Ghost

G is for Ghost

G is for Ghost releases today. It has 26 stories, one for each letter of the alphabet. There are 26 days ’til Halloween. Coincidence?

A teenage girl’s classmates begin disappearing only to haunt her dreams, ships full of ghostly passengers in need of release test those who are tasked to give them peace, psychopomps whose job is guiding the spirits of the dead to the other side meet in a support group, and more fill these pages.

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“Wight Christmas” Now In Audio

Hello! With American Thanksgiving yesterday, we are now Officially in the Holiday Season. With the completion of Thanksgiving dinner, it is now permissible to play Christmas music (a guideline I just made up yesterday afternoon) and I have also decorated the website here (Christmas lights are my favorite).

And my first holiday gift is only barely from me: the Untold Podcast has produced “Wight Christmas” for your listening enjoyment! You can listen to it here:

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