August 20, 2016

Shaun Tan and Fairy Tales

Shaun Tan, whose work I am a bit familiar with, but clearly I need to know more, is featured in a Financial Times recent article. My dad sent it to me, and I'm glad  he did. The story delves into the darkness of fairy tales, and Tan's work with graphic novels, as well as fairy tales.

Tan, like anyone who takes fairy tales seriously, recognizes their dark sides. His works include acclaimed graphic novels and and an Oscar winning short.

Read more about Tan and Philip Pullman's Grimm's tales inspiring the artist here:
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August 12, 2016

Thanks to Denise Ortakales, Illustrator

Ever wonder where I get so much vintage fairy tale art? I have dozens of sources, but one of my top faves is Denise Ortakales' site Women Children's Book Illustrators. It's very user friendly, and is an excellent source to find art and information concerning women illustrators from the Golden Age of Illustration.

Not all of the illustrators on the site worked with fairy tales, but many did. And you can fall down the rabbit hole of delightful research at this site. EC is not a children's site, but the art at Women Illustrators is still very inspiring and useful to me. Check it out here:

Denise Ortakales is a well regarded children's illustrator and artist, who primarily illustrates children's books, which you can find out about here:

Thanks Denise!

Art by Wanda Gag, who you can learn about at the Women's Illustrators site.

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August 11, 2016

Krampusnacht Two Deadline Extended

The deadline for Krampusnacht Two submissions has been extended to August 31! 

See guidelines here: 
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A Reason Why You Aren't Getting Published:

Stick to the damn theme!!!!

Every time I time I open a THEMED window for submissions, I am inundated with submissions that have nothing to do with the theme.

I don't expect the submissions to all be very overtly about a stated theme, but when I ask for a "fairy godmother" submission, and I get a high fantasy tale about warring gnomes, I get annoyed. Very.

I have to read all the submissions the whole way through, just in case something theme related happens by the end. As you all know, I am a one-person show. A few off-topic submissions really slow me down.

Sometimes I ask people why they submit off topic. I'm often told something like: I thought it was so good, you'd publish anyway.

This is a PG site, so I won't say what my gut reaction is to that kind of absurd display of ego and desperation.

Writers need to believe me when I tell you that editors in general expect you to follow the rules. Don't kid yourself that your work is trailing clouds of genius and is therefore irresistible. Resisting off-theme working is very easy.

Thus endeth the lecture.

But do know that the competition is fierce, and I always find excellent work by people who follow the theme. The fairy godmother issue is no different.
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August 6, 2016

Authors for Fairy Godmother Issue

It's a busy day, so without further ado, here are the authors whose work was chosen for the Fairy Godmother Issue.

Priya Sridhar
Erin Newcomb
Kristen VanBlargan
Jude Tulli
Paul Haughey
Alicia Cole
Janet Bowdan

Eye Candy:

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July 31, 2016

July Submission Window Closed

The submission window for the fairy godmother edition of EC has closed. No more submissions will be accepted.

I'll get started on reading!

Image by Florence Anderson.

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July 26, 2016

A Krampus Figurine--And a Reminder

My husband (whom you should thank if you like EC, as it would not exist without him), brought the figure shown below home to me today. It's Krampus and Todd made him with a 3-D printer at work. It's made from resin. 

The pedestal says "Krampus." Pretty cool, huh? 

Reminder: The Krampusnacht Two submission window closes August 15. Here are submission details:

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July 18, 2016

Pourquoi Tales: Answers to 'Why?', By Susan Caroff

Pourquoi tales have been around since humans began to speak.  A popular genre of folk-literature, they are a staple of many classrooms and storytelling events.

There are pourquoi tales to explain almost all elements of the natural world, e.g., why the possum’s tale is bare and how the Grand Canyon was madePourquoi tales are sometimes called creation stories or how and why stories.  The how portion lies in the telling of the tale itself.  How did the tiger come to have his beautiful stripes?   The porcupine her quills?

Introductions to pourquoi tales begin, like many narratives, ” A long, long time ago..." and conclude with a statement about why something is the way it is now.

Animals and other creatures can talk and main characters often get their comeuppance.  Other tales have no moral and are told purely for entertainment. Example: The American tall tale character Pecos Bill lassoed a tornado and went for a wild ride that included the carving out of the Grand Canyon.  Tales from a variety of different genres, tall tales, myths, legends and fables can also be pourquoi stories.

Pourquoi stories come from oral traditions across many cultures.  Explanations of how animals came to look and behave the way they do proliferate.  For example, in the West African folktale, Why Turtles Live in Watera turtle, who at that time lived on land, was caught by some hunters and brought to their chief.  The chief decided to cook turtle, but clever turtle convinced him to throw him in the river and drown him before cooking him.  When turtle got in the water he swam away, and from that day forward turtles have lived in the water.

How the Birds Got Their Colors, an Aboriginal tale from Australian literature, says that in the Dreamtime, the time before the world was made, all birds were black.  One day Dove injured his foot and other birds, hearing his painful cries, rushed to help him care for his wound.  All birds came to Dove’s aid except one, Crow.  Jealous Crow flew about and shouted to the other birds to leave Dove alone.  Suddenly, one of the birds, looking to relieve Dove’s pain, took her beak and opened Dove’s infected foot.  The colors of nature poured out from the wound and onto the birds.  This is how birds got the lovely colors we see on them today.

This tale, like pourquoi stories from other cultures, reflects the values of the community.  In this case, helping and caring for others is prized over cruel indifference to suffering.

Any discussion of pourquoi tales brings to mind Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories (1902).  One of these tales, The Elephant’s Child, explains why elephants have such long noses.  The prose is old-fashioned, as are the other animals’ reactions to the little elephant, but the tale is very humorous.  And not all of the story is fantastical, as crocodiles really do eat young elephants.

Pourquoi stories are a good place to begin building skills as a storyteller.  Most have simple plots and a range of characters that are easily portrayed.  You can write your own pourquoi story to reenact in storytelling.

For some advice on how to write a pourquoi tale, look to the education world where advice for doing such abounds.  Keep in mind that while much of the educational advice on composing stories is geared for teachers and students, these resources still contain useful information on writing in all kinds of narrative genres, including fairy tales.

Susan Caroff teaches at West Chester University.

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July 15, 2016

One Month Until Krampus Deadline

There's one month left until the Krampusnacht Two submission deadline. That's a firm deadline, so if you are working on stories, keep at it! 

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July 10, 2016

Fairy Godmother Submission Window...

Has been open since July 1. You have until July 30 at 11:59 p.m., EST.

This month, I have a tiny budget, so the competition will be very tight and only a handful of works will be chosen--around three or four.

To maximize your chances PLEASE read EC thoroughly and pay attention to the kinds of works I publish. Also, read the guidelines. They exist for good reasons.

Some visual inspiration is below. The artists are, in order, William Henry Margetson, Virginia Sterret, Jessie Wilcox Smith, and unknown.

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July 1, 2016

Midsummer Issue Table of Contents

Welcome to the Midsummer Issue! It's a bit late, but I believe you'll judge it well worth the wait. We've got sunshine, sadness, nature, joy, fairies, magic, and everything else you'd expect from an issue about the summer and fae. Without further ado, the works:

"A Burning Tale," Lissa Sloan

"The Changelings," Aliza Faber

"Dawn Thread," Judy Darley

"A Body at Rest," Alison McBain

"A Rose Like No Other," Shari L Klase

"Phoenix Rising," Adina Newman

"By the Light of the Kumquat Tree," Melissa Yuan-Innes

"The Scattering and the Gathering," Gerri Leen

"The Summer Fairy," Lorraine Schein

"Lucy in the Sky," Elise Forier Edie

Image by John Anster Fitzgerald.
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A Burning Tale, By Lissa Sloan

They say you should not speak my name. They say if you so much as whisper it, I might appear. But on nights like tonight, some folk cannot quite resist. How beastly she is, they say, with her jagged teeth, gobbling up small children who stray off the path. How terrifying is her hut that turns on chicken legs, with its fence made of thigh bones and burning-eyed skulls. How fearsome are the three horsemen she commands, the first black as the night, the next white as the dawn, the last red as the sun.

And just between us, say stepmothers to stepsisters, she would be just the thing to rid us of this tiresome bit of baggage, this motherless, worthless servant girl.

They say I am only a story. Too wild, too ancient, too ravenous to be true. But some nights they do still think of me, if by chance their flames go out. For on this shortest night, when my Dark Midnight is at his weakest, all good folk make their fires the brightest. They make them burn high and hot, all the brief night long, feeding flames to my Red Sun that will last him all the year. If by chance, on this night of all nights, if the fire has gone out, if the last candle flame is guttering and sputtering, then stepmothers and stepsisters could almost believe I am real after all.

For they know one more thing about me, besides my crooked nose, so long it touches the ceiling of my hut when I lie down to snore my rattling snores, besides my red eyes and my iron teeth and my hideous claws. They know I keep the light burning.

Off with you, they shriek at the child, and don't come back without a light. They believe in me just enough to think we will do their neglected work, this little slip of a girl and me. Or they send me their unwanted rubbish, this leftover girl, in hopes that I will finish her off. I don't suppose they care which. They believe I will do their bidding.

And so they send her, a hungry little waif with nothing to guide her but the shine in her eyes and the doll in her pocket. She does look good enough to eat. But fair is fair, and I always give my visitors a chance.

Oh yes, I know the girl's secret. That little bundle of rags she keeps in her pocket. Her mother-doll. It led her through the blackness, right to my door. Turn left at the path. Now right. Now straight ahead. Tell the hut, 'turn your back to the forest, your front to me,' and it will show you the door. I know the child feeds her doll scraps of meat and crumbs of cake and thimbles full of tea. I know that in return, it does the impossible tasks I set. We understand each other, this doll and I. It nods to me as the girl comes through my door. And I nod back. Fair is fair.

And when my hut is neat as a pin, grain sorted and seeds cleaned, I send the child on her way, before my shortest Dark Midnight is over. She must be home before he gallops past her, making way for my earliest Bright Dawn. I give her the favor she requests, for fair is fair and I have my reasons. This red-eyed skull will light her way, speeding her home, task completed.

And yet I gave her more, more than she asked for. My blazing skull will light not only the candle and the fire, but the whole house and more. For I have not forgotten stepmother and stepsisters waiting idly inside, thinking I will do their bidding. I do no one's bidding. And yet my Red Sun will be fed. When he follows my Bright Dawn, his mount's hooves leaping into the air to take his place in the sky, he will never be so long or so strong as he is this day. By their burning, the stepmother and stepsisters will feed him so well that he will warm the land and ripen the crops like never before. He will bring plenty and health, full bellies and strong beasts. At least until next year. My Red Sun and I, we make no guarantees.

And that blessed, tasty little morsel? The doll in her pocket will whisper to her all she needs to know. Don't go in the house. Hand the light through the door. Run for your life. And she will be wise enough to listen, and brave enough to carry on. That suits me well, for someone must live to tell the tale. And fair is fair.

They say I am only a story. But I keep the light burning.

Lissa Sloan's poems and short stories are published in Enchanted Conversation, Niteblade Magazine, Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus, and Frozen Fairy Tales.  “Death in Winter,” Lissa's contribution to Frozen Fairy Tales, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Visit her online at her website,, or on twitter: @LissaSloan. 

Image by Ivan Bilibin.
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The Changelings, By Aliza Faber

There once was a child with golden hair,
Who grew up strange and wild and free,
In the hands of the fairy queen's tender care,
Where reeds play tunes and secrets be.
She drank dew straight from petal's lips,
And spun and danced in the moon's bright beam,
flowers adorned her hair and hips,
Though she was troubled by a single dream.
On midsummer's day of her sixteenth year,
As the fires rose high in bundles of twine,
While the fay reveled with zest and cheer,
She turned and said; "mother of mine.
How can it be my ears are round,
My feet a pointed shape do lack,
Instead of green, my eyes are browned,
And wings don't lie upon my back."
The fairy queen then stroked her hair,
And told her; "child, let it bother you not,
After all I've done it would only be fair,
For you to abandon this train of thought.
I saved you from the clutches of,
A plain and dull and mundane life,
If still you do not believe me, love,
Tomorrow I'll show you the cause of this strife."
True to her word the vain queen took her,
To the land hidden behind the rift,
As midnight struck, humans she showed her,
Living their lives mundane and swift.
"If not for me you would share their fate,"
The queen explained to the changeling girl,
And she led her back through fairy's gate,
To dance and sing and laugh and twirl.
The queen thought she could now forget,
But the changeling girl would not be sated,
She dreamed of humans to be met,
Every day for midnight to come she waited.
Then she'd creep to where the lands did meet,
To search far and wide until she found,
A human with pointed ears and feet,
The one to which her fate was bound.
For near a year at midnight she rose,
To watch the changed one in plain clothes clad,
Hidden deep in mooncast shadows,
She gazed at the life she should have had.
After some time she decided she'd rather,
Stay where the fay played their merry tune,
Still she returned to watch other,
Who in a life not hers was strewn.
Midsummer came again with all its might,
And the girl once more crept through the veil,
But the midsummer midnight sun shone bright,
With no moon to hide her, her face turned pale.
For the changed one stood there and started at her other,
"You've been watching me," she said, her green eyes bright,
"You suffer," said the one raised by the fairy mother,
and told her the tale of their birth night.
The fairy told the girl to take her place,
To be accepted by the humans as she never was,
So she could live with the fairy race,
That had given her up without good cause.
But the human girl shook her head,
A sly fairy glint played in her eyes,
As she said; "Why should I go in your stead,
When we both can enjoy the faerie's cries?"
So changelings returned to the land of fey,
To dance around the fairy glen,
And there they live to this very day,
Never to return to the land of men. 

Aliza loves reading, writing and anything to do with fairy tales. She hopes one day she will have enough time to continue introducing less well known fairy tales on her blog

Image by John Anster Fitzgerald.
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