I love this time of year. The magic of snow, good cheer all around, and giving presents. Yes, I like giving even more than getting (though I like getting—don't get me wrong!), because I love offering my friends something I think they'll enjoy.

Here are some gifts for you, dear readers: two new places to find free fiction online, and a free year-at-a-glance calendar.

Electronic is all the rage. Last week Ninc member Sasha White talked about free reads. There are two brand new sites that didn't get onto her list, though: Book View Cafe and the Mad Genius Club.

Book View Cafe is is a joint venture by over twenty multi-published writers including Ninc members Maya Bonhoff, Jennifer Stevenson, and myself, to bring our out-of-print and experimental fiction to readers on the Internet.

Book View Cafe features science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, mystery, horror, romance, and young adult in short story, novella/novelette, and novel form. Every day there are new offerings on the site. We will eventually be offering for-pay premium content as well. It's a new exploration in electronic publishing.

I have a holiday piece being serialized there at the moment, "Glad Yule," a fantasy novella I wrote for Fred Saberhagen's An Armory of Swords anthology. Look for it in my bookshelf.

The Mad Genius Club is a group blog of fantasy writers, which is also offering free reads in the form of  Sunday Snippets. Every Sunday a member of the blog will post a snippet of fiction, or occasionally an interview or other item of interest. This is an eclectic, international group of folks who are a lot of fun.

Lastly, calendars. I'm really happy to be able to give these, because they are something I actually use myself, even if they have decorations that are not to my taste. I don't know why I never thought of this before: if I design my own calendar, the decorations are guaranteed to be something I like!

This year-at-a-glance calendar for 2009 is tied to my upcoming fantasy novel, The Betrayal. If you'd like to receive one, visit the Ælven Calendar page to send me your mailing address.

So if you need a break from the manic shopping and holiday insanity, visit the Mad Genius Club for a different kind of insanity and a quick smile, or cruise on over to the Cafe and grab a cuppa, sit down with some fun fiction, and relax. And if you're already looking forward to next year, shout out for a calendar, my treat!