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Capsule Stories Winter 2021 Edition: Sugar and Spice

Featuring poetry and prose, Capsule Stories Winter 2021 Edition explores the theme Sugar and Spice. Read wintry writings that feel cozy and warm and explore the ways food can bring us together during the winter holidays. These stories and poems reflect on connecting with loved ones, family traditions, and even yourself through food and drink. Capsule Stories Winter 2021 Edition is the perfect book to curl up with alongside a hot drink and a tasty treat on a cold winter day.

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Capsule Stories Winter 2021 Edition: Letter from the Editors

It’s been a long year, and we all need an extra dose of cheer this winter. As 2021 closes, we want to reflect on happy memories of good food and the people we share it with. Inside this edition, you’ll find stories and poems that feel cozy and warm and explore the ways food can bring us together during the winter holidays. Whether you sneak out of a joyous but loud family gathering to find comfort in these pages or crack open this book late at night with a plate of cookies and a cup of hot chocolate, we hope you enjoy reading about family traditions, recipes passed down through generations, and quiet moments of hope in these pages. Happy reading!

Sugar and Spice

The room is warm when you wake up. Your body squeaks uncomfortably on an old leather sofa. Your little cousin is sitting on the rug of the living room, playing with his iPad. In a daze, you stumble toward the kitchen, toward the hearty laughter echoing through the hallways, the aunties arguing over oven space. Something smells like butter and garlic. You have been tasked with peeling potatoes.

Your family members bustle around the kitchen, stirring, tasting, adding more salt. A single potato slips out of your hands and bounces on the tile. You remember that you often feel alone at big gatherings. The inescapable urge to retreat to an empty bedroom. But what comforts you is imagining what is happening in all the other houses. You imagine a young woman, overdressed, sipping wine at the dining table by herself as chaos ensues around her. You imagine seventeen-year-olds being sent off to the grocery store for the third time in search of gravy packets and vanilla ice cream. You imagine some people must be alone, eating Chinese takeout, comforted by the quiet streets outside and the low hum of the radiator fixed to their apartment wall. The food is a string that ties us together, enriching small moments with a depth of flavor that will always remind you of home.

Capsule Stories Winter 2021 Edition Contents and Contributors


“Growing Pains” by Amanda Hurley

Amanda Hurley is a writer, translator, and editor, originally from Wellington, New Zealand. These days, she lives in a small town surrounded by lakes and forest in former East Germany, where she co-runs a cafe with her partner. She has previously worked for Radio New Zealand and the Daily Telegraph in London.

“Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake” by Kay Miller

Kay Miller resides in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband and two adult children. She enjoys writing short stories and poetry and is working on a full-length cozy mystery.

“Red Bean, Chrysanthemum” by Rachel Kim

Rachel Kim hails from somewhere between Seoul, South Korea, and New Jersey. She is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, with undergraduate majors in media studies and psychology. She seeks to find the special in the mundane through writing, film, and photography.

“Hungers” by Tomas Baiza

Tomas Baiza is originally from San José, California, and now lives in Boise, Idaho. He is a Pushcart-nominated writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Parhelion, Meniscus, PANK Magazine, 101 Proof Horror, The Meadow, Peatsmoke, The Good Life Review, Kelp Journal, Black Lawrence Press, Bacopa Literary Review, Passengers Journal, and elsewhere. Tomas’s first novel, Deliver Me: A Pocho’s Accidental Guide to College, Love, and Pizza Delivery, and his short fiction collection, A Purpose to Our Savagery: Stories and Poems, will appear from Running Wild/RIZE Press in 2022.

“Curry Pots and Raspberry Bins” by Maggi McGettigan

Maggi McGettigan (she/her) is writing from Chester County, Pennsylvania. Her work can be found most recently in the literary magazine CONCINNITY from Downingtown Books and on

“Lunch Date” by Katrina Agbayani

Katrina Agbayani is an editor with Acta Victoriana and La Mosaic. Her poems have been published in SAND Journal, UC Review, and The Trinity Review and have been awarded the OECTA Young Authors Award.


“The Chesapeake’s Cornucopia” by Annie Marhefka

Annie Marhefka is a writer, HR consultant, and mama residing in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband and daughter. She thrives on coffee, relationships, and delving into deep, dark, swirly feelings. She also serves as executive director of Yellow Arrow Publishing Co., which supports women-identifying writers in Baltimore.

“Recipe” by Ciera Horton McElroy

Ciera Horton McElroy has work in AGNI, Bridge Eight, Crab Orchard Review, Little Fiction, Lumina, and Flash Fiction Magazine, among others. She is represented by Folio Literary Management.

“Devotions” by Sara Davis

Sara Davis is a recovering academic and marketing writer who lives in Philadelphia with two elderly cats. Her PhD in American literature is from Temple University. She has recently published flash in Cleaver Magazine, Toho Journal, and CRAFT literary magazine. She blogs about books and climate anxiety at You can find her at @LiterarySara.

“Baking Do” by Kalisse L. Van Dellen

Kalisse L. Van Dellen writes about where she’s been and what she’s lost. She is a graduate of Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, and resides as a Canadian expatriate in Greenville, South Carolina. Her work has most recently been featured in 3 Moon Magazine, the Brogue, and Mississippi’s Best Emerging Poets.

“The Joys of an Old Cookery Book” by Alex Grehy

Read the essay and download the recipe here

Alex Grehy has a sweet life filled with narrowboating, rescue greyhounds, singing, and chocolate. Her work has been published worldwide, including a recipe and memoir in the Red Penguin Books cookery anthology Feeding the Flock. Her vivid prose, thought-provoking poetry, and original view of the world has led to her best friend to say, “For someone so lovely, you’re very twisted!”

“It’s Never the Knife’s Fault” by Larry Griggs

Larry Griggs got an English degree from the University of West Georgia before he decided to start writing. Then in a spur-of-the-moment decision, he went back to work on his MAT. He has a passion for food and eating, and in his downtime he likes to cook and find good restaurants to eat at.

“Homemade Magic” by Joshua Flores

Joshua Flores manifested in Chicago with Spanish as his first language, and the struggle to learn English well led him to read. At ten years old, he pecked out short stories on an old electric typewriter. He hasn’t stopped writing since.


“Ritual” by Tamiko Dooley

Tamiko Dooley is a half-Japanese mother of two. She read Latin and French at New College, Oxford. When there’s no pandemic, she’s hired as a wedding pianist from time to time.

“Home-Baked” by Ellen Clayton

Ellen Clayton is from Suffolk, England, where she lives with her husband and three young children. Her poetry often focuses on motherhood and love. She has recently been published in The Daily Drunk, Discretionary Love, and Gypsophila and has poems forthcoming in Tattie Zine, Nightingale and Sparrow, Corporeal, and Honeyfire Literary Magazine. Her poetry can be found on Instagram at @ellen_writes­_poems.

“Just a Quick Nap” by Sean Wang

Sean Wang (he/him) is in Singapore on national service. His poetry has been published, and he works as a writer and editor on the side. He can be found on Instagram at @wean_sang.

“In Our Kitchen on Christmas Eve” by Jen Feroze

Jen Feroze (she/her) lives by the sea in Essex, United Kingdom, with her husband and two small sleep thieves. Her work has recently appeared in Doghouse Press, Gingernut magazine, and The Mum Poem Press. Her debut collection, The Colour of Hope, was published in 2020. She loves turquoise things, Christmas lights, and cheese you can eat with a spoon. Find her on Instagram at @the_colourofhope and on Twitter at @jenlareine.

“Solace” by Charlotte Gutzmer

Charlotte Gutzmer is a nonbinary twenty-one-year-old undergraduate writer fascinated with all things magical and bizarre. In their craft, they explore themes of fantasy, identity, environment, and myths—they especially adore creating uncanny worlds that explore surrealism, obscurity, and realms just beyond our reach. Charlotte’s goal is to draw readers into surreal worlds and to help them realize that it’s okay to face the darkness. It’s often there that we find the most obscure and precious magic.

“in the house under the snow” by Aral L.

Aral L. is a nonbinary latinx poet living in Canada. They are a student and dream of nothing more than writing.

“Let It Be” by Jaime Dill

Jaime Dill (she/her) is an accomplished book coach, founder of Polish & Pitch editorial agency, and editor-in-chief of Cardigan Press who uses her precious downtime to pour her lesser-known self into free verse poetry. Jaime’s writing reflects her professional interest in language while also ripping apart the rules to show the world the raw beauty of emotion, femininity, and admission.

“Worcester, Christmas 1996” by Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies and is a Pushcart Prize and Forward Prize nominee. She is developing a practice as a participatory arts facilitator and believes everyone’s voice counts.

“Winter Market, Galway” and “French Toast Breakfast” by Steve Denehan

Steve Denehan lives in Kildare, Ireland, with his wife Eimear and daughter Robin. He is the author of two chapbooks and two poetry collections. Twice winner of Irish Times’ New Irish Writing, he has numerous publication credits, including Poetry Ireland Review, Acumen, Prairie Fire, Westerly, and Into the Void.

“candied haws and other sweet things about new year’s” by Luna Yin

Luna Yin is a fourteen-year-old poet who was born in China and lives in Canada. Luna credits her wild imagination and love of writing to a life spent moving between countries and reading fantasy novels. When she isn’t spending rainy days lounging on the sofa with a good thriller, Luna is often sitting by her piano and trying to turn her thoughts into sheet music. You can find her on Instagram at @luna.y.writes.

“Hello My Darlin’” by Lizzie Thornton

Lizzie Thornton graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BA in English. Since then, she has turned her focus to her own editing and publishing career, establishing her freelance editing company, Lady Lizzie Editing, and cofounding Cardigan Press, an up-and-coming small press. She has continued writing for herself (mainly poetry and a novel that will eventually get finished), but this is the first time she has been published officially. She hopes this is the first of many publications to come. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @iamladylizzie.

“French Press” by A. M. Arndt

A. M. Arndt has been a child, a sibling, a parent, a spouse, a lover, a teacher, an artist, and a dreamer. Through it all, A. M. Arndt has been a writer, focusing mostly on prose poetry. This poet has been recognized by the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Contest and has had the poem “Hemingway” published in Into the Void.

“Potato Season” by Wendy BooydeGraaff

Wendy BooydeGraaff has fiction, poems, and essays included in Not Very Quiet, Another Chicago Magazine, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, NOON, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, she now lives in Michigan.

​​“Holy Night” by Philip Styrt

Philip Styrt (he/him) lives in Davenport, Iowa, with his wife, toddler, and toothless dog. His poetry unites recognizable and traditional forms of meter and rhyme within a distinctively modern sensibility. His work has been published in, among others, carte blanche, Eastern Iowa Review, and Writers Resist, and he recently won a regional prize in the 2021 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest.

“cinnamon” by Alexandra Weiss

Alexandra Weiss writes in Chicago, where their apartment is slowly being taken over by Halloween decorations and houseplants. They edit for Another Chicago Magazine and have work published or forthcoming in From the Depths, Coffin Bell, Giving Room Mag, and others.

“The Room Is Not Empty” and “December Gacela” by Mark J. Mitchell

Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in Southern California. His latest poetry collection, Roshi San Francisco, was just published by Norfolk Publishing. Starting from Tu Fu was recently published by Encircle Publications. He is very fond of baseball, Louis Aragon, Miles Davis, Kafka, and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian Joan Juster, where he made his marginal living pointing out pretty things. Now, like everyone else, he’s unemployed. He has published two novels, three chapbooks, and two full-length collections so far. His first chapbook won the Negative Capability Award. A meager online presence can be found on Facebook at @MarkJMitchellwriter, and he sometimes tweets at @MarkJMitchellSF. A primitive website now exists at

“Homecoming,” “Creation,” and “Monday Evening” by Skye Wilson

​​Skye Wilson is a Scottish writer with an MSc in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh. She has been described as “an ugly feminist bitch” and thinks two out of three is not bad. Skye loves rugby, words, and ugly shirts. Find more of her work at

“The Scent of Home,” “Delicious,” and “Inheritance” by Sheryl Guterl

Sheryl Guterl writes from New Mexico and New Hampshire. Retiring to the Southwest after a career as an educator in New Jersey, she appreciates more sunshine, higher mountains, and less winter ice. Her cabin on a lake in wooded New England provides inspiration and refreshment with cooler summers. Sheryl’s poetry is found in The RavensPerch, Iris Literary Journal, Deep Wild Journal, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Poetic Sun, Mason Street Review, and several local anthologies.

“Christmas Cookies,” “Honey,” “Evolution,” and “Giving Thanks” by C. T. Holte

C. T. Holte grew up in Minnesota without color TV; played along creeks and in cornfields; went to lots of school; and has had gigs as teacher, editor, and less wordy things. He recently migrated to New Mexico and got a cool electric chainsaw for Christmas. His poetry has been published in Words, California Quarterly, Months to Years, Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality and the Arts, Mediterranean Poetry, The Daily Drunk, and elsewhere and has been hung from trees to celebrate the Rio Grande Bosque.

“Recipe for Pasta Figolé at Christmas” ​​ by Nicole Farmer

Nicole Farmer is a writer and teacher living in Asheville, North Carolina. Her poems have been published in Sheepshead Review, The Bangalore Review, The Roadrunner Review, Wild Roof Journal, Bacopa Literary Review, The Great Smokies Review, KAKALAK, 86 Logic, Wingless Dreamer, and others. Her play 50 JOBS was produced in Los Angeles. Nicole was awarded the 2021 First Prize in Prose Poetry from Bacopa Literary Review. Way back in the nineties, she graduated from The Juilliard School of Drama. You can find her dancing barefoot in her driveway on the full moon at midnight.

“Arepas at Night” by Laine Derr

Laine Derr holds an MFA from Northern Arizona University and has published interviews with Carl Phillips, Ross Gay, and Ted Kooser. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Antithesis, Portland Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere.

“Soft Meringue Kisses” by Fran Fernández Arce

Fran Fernández Arce (she/her) is a Chilean poet living in Suffolk, England. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Pollux Journal, Catatonic Daughters, and Firmament, among others. She is a poetry reader for The Walled City Journal and poetry editor for Moonflake Press. She enjoys reading and writing about art, language, and the weather outside her window.

“Spices” and “Another Day” by Agnieszka Filipek

Agnieszka Filipek is a Polish-born poet living in Ireland. Her work has appeared in over sixty publications internationally, including countries such as Poland, Ireland, India, China, Bangladesh, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Germany, Canada, and the United States. Her poems have appeared in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Lucent Dreaming, Black Bough Poetry, Crannóg, The Blue Nib, Chrysanthemum, Marble Poetry, Headway Quarterly, and elsewhere. She has a poetry Facebook page dedicated to her writing at

“Synecdoche” by Sam Risebrow

Sam Risebrow was born in London and lived in Scotland most of his adult life, where he studied English at Stirling University. He now lives in Madrid, where he teaches English as a second language to children and adults. He has been writing poetry for around fifteen years but has only recently decided to submit a small number of poems for publication. He was longlisted for the Plough Prize in spring 2021.

“Winter Warmth” and “Winter Song” by Luciana Francis

Luciana Francis (she/her) is a Brazilian-born, UK-based writer of poetry and fiction. She earned a BA (hons) degree in anthropology and media from Goldsmiths, University of London. Her writing has appeared in Popshot Quarterly, Kissing Dynamite, Whale Road Review, and Literary Mama, among others, and is forthcoming in Choices, the fourth issue of Mum Poet Club zine, edited by British poet Liz Berry, and in Cōnfingō Magazine.

“A Warm Bond” by Vaishnavi Anand

Vaishnavi Anand (she/her) is an Indian student and poet (and cat mom) pursuing her undergraduate studies in information technology. In her free time, she’s absorbed in writing poetry or bird photography. You can find her work forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit and on Instagram at @thevariegatedpen.

Capsule Stories Winter 2021 Edition Publication Credits

Book Designer: Carolina VonKampen
Ebook Designer: Lorie DeWorken
Cover Artist: Darius Serebrova

Disclosure: Capsule Stories is an affiliate of and Amazon, and we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Please consider buying your books through to support independent bookstores—and Capsule Stories!