Win a Wishing Season prize pack!

WishingMy holiday short story collection Wishing Season, released as an ebook last year, is now available in paperback from Amazon — and to celebrate, I’m having a giveaway. I love settling in on a winter evening with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book, so the winner will receive:

  • A signed paperback copy of Wishing Season
  • A 16 oz. holiday stoneware mug
  • Three packets of specialty hot cocoa mix


Wishing Season features seven of my holiday-themed short stories, including “The First Winter,” which recently appeared as part of this special bear-themed episode of Podcastle. Wishing Season is also the only place to read my story “Santa’s Summer Vacation” — it was written just for this collection.

To enter:

  • You must be signed up for my mailing list (sign up here if you’re not already subscribed).
  • Send an email to reneecarterhall at with the subject line “Wishing Season giveaway.”

The fine print: Open to US residents only. Only current mailing list subscribers are eligible to win. Giveaway ends at 8 AM Eastern on Monday, December 21. Winner will be notified by email.

Good luck!


It’s a major award!

Or at least it feels like it, even though there are no aesthetically questionable lighting fixtures involved…

Near the end of March, I had hit something of a creative low. I’d finally completed a new story for an anthology’s deadline, was pretty happy with how it turned out, felt confident about it getting in — and, of course, it didn’t. As much as I’ve learned to bounce back from rejection (at least after a day or so), it’s always a letdown to feel like your work is perfect for something, and have such good feelings about it, and then find out you were completely wrong. I knew I had to send it back out again (always the best balm for any rejection letter), but because of a lot of other things going on at the time, I felt too tired and disheartened to figure out where.

And then I ran across a link on Twitter to a writing contest.

Whose theme just happened to suit the story perfectly.

With only two days left to submit.

So I shrugged, and sent the story in, and waited, and hoped, while at the same time trying desperately not to get my hopes up (because it’s been that kind of year), all the time thinking, “wouldn’t it be funny if…”

And now I can say that my story “The Frog Who Swallowed the Moon” won the fiction grand prize in the latest Spark contest:

It’s my first writing contest win — for fiction, anyway, not counting things like essay contests in high school, so it’s pretty exciting.

This sort of thing has happened before — story gets rejected only to wind up getting published someplace that’s somehow better in the end — but not quite this dramatically, so in addition to being a nice ego and confidence boost, it’s also a nice boost to the kind of faith you have to have to keep writing and revising and sending stuff out time after time.

Although I have to admit, I always feel weird about writing these sorts of announcements. There’s such a fine line, to me, between announcing one’s accomplishments and sounding like you’re bragging about them. I’m taken back to that feeling of elementary school, sitting at my desk with a completed test, waiting for somebody else to finish and hand theirs in before I get up, so everyone won’t know I’m the first one to finish. And on the flip side, I know what it’s like to feel that everybody else’s success always happens during your own driest spells, and to write congratulatory comments with your teeth gritted.

In the end, though, I come back to this, a passage that’s been quoted so much it should feel like a threadbare cliché, but one that still rings true to me:

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

And besides, I got a particularly snarky rejection letter a couple days later. So the universe is still in balance. 🙂


Giveaway: Win a free copy of By Sword and Star

BSS cover FAIt’s a book-iversary! My novel By Sword and Star has now been out for a year — well, sort of. (Technically, Amazon lists it as having been available in February, but I’m going by this date because it’s when the publisher officially announced it.)

To celebrate the first anniversary of Tiran’s journey (and mine), I’m giving away 2 copies of the ebook. Winners can choose either epub or Kindle format, with the file to be sent as an email attachment. (Just as a reminder, the book’s recommended for teen and adult readers.)

To enter, just leave a comment below. Two winners will be randomly chosen on April 3.

Good luck!


Publication updates

If you missed “Nevermore” when it was emailed out to subscribers, it’s now online to read at the Daily Science Fiction website:

I’ve also found out that my flash fiction piece “Nativity” was a runner-up in the quarterly Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest. (See the full list of winners.) I admit I’m disappointed it didn’t place higher, but it was still nice to be chosen for the top ten and win a prize, and I’m looking forward to the interview on the WOW blog. At any rate, think of “Nativity” as something of an early Christmas card for my readers. 🙂


Interview from August

I’ve been going back through my entries here on Dreamwidth (possibly getting ready to move this blog to another site; we’ll see), and I just realized that though I must have posted it to Twitter, I never posted the link here to my second interview with Jon Gibbs, after winning his Meager Puddle of Limelight Award for Best Short Story Title this year.

In this case, my winning title was “The Bear with the Clockwork Heart,” though the story wound up actually published under the title “The Bear with the Quantum Heart”.

The interview was originally posted August 1st and can be read here:


Something fun…

My flash fiction title “Norma the Wal-Mart Greeter Meets the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” is the co-winner of this year’s Meager Puddle of Limelight Award for Best Short Story Title, hosted by jongibbs:

(Darn it, I knew I should have told my husband to go vote for me in the final round. Then it wouldn’t have been a tie.) 😉

On a serious note, though, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that I tied for first place without asking anybody outright to vote for me, even though it’s possible I could have driven a few more voters to LJ to win outright. I’m just not crazy about doing the whole “hey guyz! go vote for me!!!” thing, even though I know it’s not exactly frowned upon.

At any rate, both of us winners get a copy of Jon Gibbs’ book Fur-Face (which I’d been wanting to read), a coffee mug that says “I are a writer” (sweet!), and either a guest blog post or an interview on his blog. Since I don’t have any astounding ideas for blog posts at the moment, I’ll be taking the interview option. Plus, interviews give me a satisfying illusion of importance. 🙂

(I really should make “Norma” into a series: “Norma the Wal-Mart Greeter Finds the Lost City of Atlantis,” “Norma the Wal-Mart Greeter Meets Cthulhu”…)

Or not. 😀