Black Friday Madness {Gift Offer Inside}

It’s that time of year again. Where we celebrate the obliteration of an entire continent of cultures by gorging on food and pretending to be thankful for our drunken familial arguments over politics and religion and then wake up hellishly early the following morning in an orgiastic display of America’s One True Religion: Capitalism.

Let me be clear, I don’t have a problem with people celebrating Thanksgiving. I think we should be thankful. I think it should be every day, but I’ll take 1 day a year over none. What I don’t appreciate is Black Friday. I don’t appreciate being told that I need to show my love for family and friends with dollar signs. I don’t appreciate the encroachment of commerce into one of the only days of the year that retail & service industry workers — including members of my own family — were guaranteed to have off from their labor.

I was willing to stay home on Friday and be quiet about it, but these “early Black Friday”, “forcing people to skip dinner with their families”, Thursday sales are bullshit. ESPECIALLY when your workers aren’t getting holiday pay. (YES, I’m looking at YOU, McDonald’s franchise my mother works for!)

So to all of this I say, fuck it. Fuck Black Friday, fuck forcing low income workers to work on one of the few days they were previously guaranteed a rest, fuck commerce, fuck all of it. I’m not doing it. I urge all of you not to do it either.

I’m going to be away from a computer when this posts, but here is my counter offer: if you’re going to give gifts this holiday season, make them. If you can’t make them, support small businesses and artists by making your purchases next week.

For those of you who are thinking, “I’d love to get a person I love a gift this season, but I can’t afford it.” Or maybe, “I don’t have anyone who’ll be getting ME a gift this year, and that makes me sad.” For those people, I have a counter-counter offer.

Let me help. I’ve donated to Worldbuilders this year, but I want to do more. I want to, but I’m no Patrick Rothfuss. I don’t have a NYTimes best-seller to my name to rate me celebrity friends to help and bigger clout. So I’m going to start small, but I’m going to do what I can.

If you know someone who could use a gift this season, let me know in the comments. Maybe you know someone who could use getting a package in the mail to make them smile. Maybe that someone is you. Tell me.

Obviously, you need to be willing to share your mailing address with me in order to participate. I’m in the US and don’t have a budget for international postage, but I’m hoping more people will chime in wanting to give.

Here’s what I have on offer: a few books of the SF/UF/F variety that are gently used to send to someone who will love them. I’m a crafter who sews and works in polymer clay. I’m still learning at both of those things, but I’m willing to share what I have. I like to make wallets and bags, and tiny strange creatures in clay. I can’t promise the seams will all be straight or the creatures won’t have lumps and bumps. But it’ll be a promise, from me to you, that I care. That I’m thinking of you. Even if I don’t know you.

These are a few things I’ve made in the past.

There are no strings attached to this offer. I’m not sure if/how I’m going to do international packages but I could probably manage a letter if nothing else. I’d prefer people who sign up be truly in need, but I don’t have any way to check up on that. So if you tell me you need it, I’ll believe you. I’ll do what I can.  I’d also like it if people who are able could also offer to help send someone else a gift. Otherwise, I’ll try to fulfill as many as possible myself.

If you’re interested, leave me a message in the comments about why you feel you (or your friend) could use a gift. Tell me a little about the things you like. Then fill out the form with your personal info.

If the form doesn’t show up below, click this link to reach it directly.

A Precious Gift, or How David & Leigh Eddings’ Books Taught Me to Be A Decent Human Being

I’ve done lots of stupid things in my life. I think just about everyone has. Regardless, I try not to spend a whole lot of time on regrets because if even one thing in my past were changed, I think the whole domino pile of craziness would collapse — and, well. I kind of like where I’m at now.

So I only really ever had one big regret, and it has nothing to do with past loves or big mistakes or foolish choices.

It is simply this: I never got to meet David or Leigh Eddings. If you’re not familiar with this King and Queen of Epic Fantasy (and why aren’t you?), then you’ve probably never read the series known as The Belgariad. Or the ones titled: The Mallorean, The Elenium, The Tamuli or the stand-alone The Redemption of Althalus.

The Belgariad in particular is a universal, coming-of-age, farm boy becomes a King kind of epic fantasy. Yes, that’s become a familiar trope but dare I say (and yes, I do) that even if Eddings did not do it first, then at least he did it best. This is a truly world-encompassing tale with sorcerers, knights, both benevolent and evil gods, and a pair of dueling prophecies that could shatter the entire universe with their opposition.

I admit it – I read this series when I was very young. I read it, and loved every bit of it. From the illiterate kitchen scullion to the fiery-haired princess to the magic-wielding aunt to the curmudgeonly old story-teller/sorcerer. I didn’t love it in the same (lesser) way that I enjoyed Dragonlance, which I read at about the same time. That was adventure, but this was something else.

The Belgariad is carried not by its plot (which is, though entertaining, fairly predictable for anyone familiar with the fantasy genre), but on the backs of its characters. Garion, our hero, is very young when the story starts and is essentially “raised” during the course of the books. From his practical old friend, Durnik, he learns the value of hard work and that the best course is always honesty. From the old storyteller, Belgarath, he learns that many things can be accomplished based on the way others perceive you. From the burly Barak, he learned swordsmanship; from the knight Mandorallen, bravery; from the spy Silk, cunning and wit; from the horse-lord Hettar he learned a sort of stoic justice; from Her Imperial Highness the Princess Ce’Nedra, he learned passion; from his impulsive friend Lelldorin, he learned  devotion. And from his aunt, the sorceress Polgara, he learned the value of boundless love.

As Garion learned these things… So did I. As I read of serpent queens and mad gods, I was also taught the value of self-worth, honesty, the real meaning of courage, practicality, and much, much more.

When I am exhausted, defeated or lonely, I come back to this story, these books (and, to my great satisfaction, I am not the only person I know who does this). The characters are all the oldest of my friends. Each one has a voice of their own in my head, and I could probably quote long portions or at the very least tell the whole tale without reference. It was only recently that I started to wonder at the fact that it seems very apparent that The Belgariad taught me how to be a good person. I am grateful for that, more grateful than even I could know, I think.

So it was with a heavy heart that I heard of Leigh Eddings’ death – on my birthday, no less – in 2007. Later, I read with real devastation the announcement of David’s own death in 2009. Gone were my heroes, the most beloved of the hundreds (thousands?) of authors I have read. I think it took me another year or maybe even two before I realized the full tragedy: I would never meet either of them, would never hear them speak at a convention or book signing, and I would never possess a signed copy of any of these books.

Until now.

Slip case and cover

A dear, dear friend who has often spoiled me far more than I truly deserve has done it yet again. (There is a reason, my dear Reader, that she was the best “man” at my wedding. We could find no better person – woman OR man.)

#280!

This is a Signed, Numbered, Hard Cover, Slip-Cased, Limited, FIRST edition of The Redemption of Althalus. Althalus is, of course, my favorite of Eddings’ work now that I’m an adult. The Belgariad is an old childhood friend that taught me everything I know about growing up. Althalus is the devious, incredibly fun friend of dubious morality – a perfect grown-up companion. Garion’s world is where I retreat when I’m feeling beaten. Althalus’ realm is where I go when I’m feeling sort of naughty*. (*In a “short-sheeting the bed” prank-y kind of way, not the Adults Only kind of naughty.)

I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve friends like this, but boy am I grateful for them. And? Not only do I have the one thing I never thought I would (which is the second best option to actually meeting David and Leigh, which would be sort of difficult at the moment), but apparently the dough that was ponied up for this book also went to benefit the people of Japan after their recent disaster(s). That, I think, would make Durnik awfully proud.

I’m not ashamed to say I cried when I realized what I was holding. I don’t think that even after this entire post that I can really express to you what it means to me to be holding a tiny piece of the history of two people that, despite my never having met them, made a very large difference in my life. It is a gift beyond measure, and I am doubly blessed that not only can I hold it, but that I have a friend who would go to this distance to put this most significant gift into my hands.

The only way I could think to repay her (since she would not accept anything else) was to share this story with you.

Writer’s Resources for October 2nd through October 17th

This is a list of links I’ve found useful for October 2nd through October 17th:

The WFF Holiday Gift-Buying Guide

What do you mean, you weren’t planning on giving books as gifts this year? Haven’t you heard that the economy is crappy? Put down that overpriced sweater and hie thee to your local bookstore ASAFP, people! A book is the perfect gift: they’re cheap, they’re portable. They’re easy to wrap.

They can also be a doorway into hours of entertainment. Please consider the most excellent choice of a novel this holiday season. (Especially if you’re buyingfor moi.)

If you’re new to the book-as-gift buying idea, let Waiting For Fairies help you out. Here’s our guide to this season’s best stories for the giftee’s in your life.

For the Sarcastic:

moonshine

I could recommend nothing more nor less than Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series. Give the gift of snark this holiday season. Your local wise-ass will thank you. Also works for: emos & goths. Trust me.

The series consists of:

  1. Nightlife
  2. Moonshine
  3. Madhouse
  4. Deathwish
  5. Roadkill (forthcoming in March 2010)

Your giftee already a Thurman fan? No worries. Try Mark Henry’s Happy Hour of the Damned instead.

For the Vampire Fan:

If you’re ready to progress past stalker-vamps, why not let half-vamp, half-mage – all-bad-ass assassin – Sabina Kane cleanse your palate? This is the most unique vampire story I’ve read in a long time. Look for: Red Headed Step Child by Jaye Wells. rhsc

For the Ladies:

Have a friend who insists on opening her own doors and snorts at the thought of the Disney princesses? Then give the gift of a different side of all those sappy ‘happily-ever-after’ fairy tales. Jim C Hines’ The Stepsister Scheme is a breath of fresh air. No princesses “waiting to be rescued” here. In fact, this trio of butt-kicking ladies turn the table on convention by heading out to rescue … a prince!

For Your Favorite D&D/Sword & Sorcery nerd:

And I say that in the fondest way possible. Internet rumor has it that Jim Butcher penned this sword-and-sorcery epic on a dare. Even if it’s not true that the dare was to combine Pokemon and Roman legions into a workable story – it’s still one crazy, wild ride. And totally worth it.

Codex Alera is a complete series composed of:

  1. Furies of Calderon
  2. Academ’s Fury
  3. Cursor’s Fury
  4. Captain’s Fury
  5. Princep’s Fury
  6. First Lord’s Fury

For Moms & Fans of Zombies:

I know that’s a crazy couple of demographics to put together, but Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker has managed it. Single mom Briar Wilkes heads into a destroyed and barricaded alternate history Seattle to rescue her trapped teenage son. In the process, she fights zombies (aka “rotters”), meets dirigible-flying air pirates, and a crazy mad-scientist who just might be her long-dead ex-husband. Get this book for the zombie-fighting mom in YOUR life.

For the Steampunk or Jane Austen fans:

soulless

Properly-mannered spinster Alexia Tarabotti is missing something rather important. She is one of the rare people who lack a soul, giving her the unique gift of negating the otherworldly powers of the excessively-souled supernatural creatures of London. But just because she’s soulless, that doesn’t make her heartless and the ill-mannered brute of a werewolf known as Lord Conall Macon seems to have captured it. There’s no time for romance, however, as Alexia has to solve the mystery of the disappearing, reappearing vampires! Soulless is worth reading for Alexia’s flamboyant vampire friend, Lord Akeldama alone.

For the Intellectual ‘Literary fiction’ fan:

We all have those friends who would rather drop dead than be seen with a ‘genre’ novel. Do these friends a favor and buy them The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber. With the haunting prose of Dickens and the soul of a Victorian romance (with a dash of Jack the Ripper), Percy Parker is a mesmerizing tale.

For the Lover of Twist-Endings

If they loved The Sixth Sense, then they’ll love Rob Thurman’s A Trick of the Light. This book is all subtle build up followed by several successive Big Bangs of revelation and twist ending. I want to buy this book for every friend on my list. Don’t forget to buy a copy for yourself, too. Believe me, you & your friend will appreciate having someone with which to discuss this book

For the Macabre:

For the friend who thinks The Crow (or, god-forbid, if you don’t know that one, then the Saw movies) wasn’t quite bloody enough. Meet just-resurrected-from-Hell Sandman Slim. Because it doesn’t get any more bad ass than the guy who was an assassin for Satan’s highest lieutenants. Richard Kadrey should be very proud of himself. Slim is probably the most talked about book of the year.

For the CSI fan:

Written by former medical examiner Diana Rowland, Mark of the Demon combines autopsies and demons. And scary things from the past coming back to bite you on the ass. Who can’t relate to that? This is an author to watch, folks, so get in on the fandom early.

For the Comic / Superhero fan:

Black & White by Caitlin Kittredge and Jackie Kessler. Buy a copy for everyone who’s ever even watched a Marvel movie. Because these two ladies have done it better. bnw

For the Conspiracy Theorist:

Ultra secret society of superheroes hiding out in every major city of the world, battling evil and protecting civilians while staying undercover and out of sight? If I could sum up Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodiac series in one word it would be: brutal. Pettersson doesn’t pull her punches when it comes to putting her heroine through the ringer.

Series consists of (to date):

  1. The Scent of  Shadows
  2. The Taste of Night
  3. The Touch of Twilight
  4. City of Souls
  5. Cheat the Grave (forthcoming June 2010)

For Teens

odtsI can’t recommend Kim Harrison’s Once Dead, Twice Shy enough. I loved this novel, and I’m an adult. I can only imagine how much someone who’s not quite as far from their teenage years as I am would love it. If you think they’d like something just a touch darker, then give them Lili St. Crow’s Strange Angels. The teenagers were so realistic in that one that I wanted to pick them up and shake them. You can also try the just-released sequel. (PS – I gave my favorite teenager both of these novels for Christmas. So I stand by my recommendations.)

For Kids:

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book has won so many awards I couldn’t even list them all here – including The Newbery Medal. It’s The Jungle Book,  with ghosts.

Another fun read for kids (or adults) is Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz series. Written from the perspective of a boy who’s ‘superhero’ power is clumsiness/klutziness/breaking stuff, we’re introduced to a world where a vast secret society of evil librarians have conspired to write an entire continent who didn’t agree with them right out of history.

Series consists of:

  1. Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians
  2. Alcatraz vs the Scrivener’s Bones
  3. Alcatraz and the Knights of Crystallia

So there you have it, folks. A shiny new book for every person on your list. Think we missed something? Leave your own recommendations in the comments.

FTC Disclaimer: The Amazon links are for your convenience only. I am not an affiliate and make no money from any purchases you may make. With that in mind, feel free to buy from whatever your favorite store happens to be. I did not receive review copies of any of the books recommended above. Which is a sad, sad thing. Edit: I forgot that I did, in fact, receive an ARC of Miss Percy Parker. Which was the book that made me feel Most Intelligent this year. Looking forward to the sequel!