Krampusnacht Flash Story Info

Friday, December 19, 2014

Krampus and Santa Contest Almost Over

Time is running out for the Krampus and Santa flash writing contest. It ends tomorrow . See post below for details!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Open: Krampus and Santa Flash Writing Contest -- $100 Cash Prize

Here's an easy flash writing contest to celebrate the release of Karmpusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus.

Below, in the comments section, write a flash story or vignette or even a poem depicting a dinner between Krampus and Santa (Saint Nicholas). The entry must be no more than 600 words. I'm leaving it to your imagination as to when, where, etc.

All of the the content-related requirements listed here apply. Submissions that do not meet the guidelines will be posted. Do not submit without reading the guidelines. Please do give some kind name associated with you entry (although you may use a pen name). POST THE ENTRY IN COMMENTS. DO NOT SEND IT TO EC'S EMAIL ADDRESS.

The contest starts now and runs until Dec. 20. The winner will be reposted on this site and awarded $100 through Paypal.  I am buying first time electronic rights only. Once the winner is officially posted, anyone who entered, including the winner, is free to sell the work elsewhere in any form. You must have a Paypal address. The winner will be announced by Dec. 24. If the winner does not contact me within 72 hours at, the next entry in line will become the winner.

There is no entry fee.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Krampus Ebook Winner Is... Uh Oh

Shari did not claim the prize in time. Hopefully, she will try again in another contest.
Shari! Shari is the winner, having picked 401, which is exactly the number generated by the random number generator. Shari, you have 72 hours to contact me at
Thanks to all for playing!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fairy Tales at the Ballet: The Firebird

I had the privilege of attending my very first professional ballet performance awhile back. As a twenty-first century girl used to being surrounded by stimulating visual entertainment at every turn, I was afraid that I would find the ballet to be a little boring, however much I appreciate the art of the dance. I was so wrong! The ballet was, in a word, enthralling, and I definitely will be attending more in the future.

It didn’t hurt matters that the ballet I saw was The Firebird (Zhar-ptitsa in Russian), a performance based on Russian folktales. 

The Firebird premiered on June 25th, 1910 in Paris, conducted by Gabriel Pierné and choreographed by Michel Fokine.

The iconic music for The Firebird was written by Igor Stravinsky, only 28 years old at the time. The Firebird made him famous, along with two other ballets he wrote for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes: Petrushka and The Rite of Spring.

Not everyone loved Stravinsky’s music. The famous ballerina Anna Pavlova refused the lead role after hearing the score, which she referred to as “noise.” Tamara Karsavina took the role instead.
Firebird, 1910
Firebird, 1910
Firebird, 1910
(Aren’t the costumes just fabulous???)

In the ballet, Price (Tsarevitch) Ivan finds the Firebird in the gardens of Kastcheï the Immortal and proceeds to chase and capture her. In return for her freedom, she bestows upon him one of her feathers, a token that he may use to call upon her for aid if he should ever need it. The Firebird flies away, and a group of nine beautiful maidens come into the garden, picking fruit from trees. At first, Ivan hides, but his attention is captured by the Princess (Tsarevna) who leads them. He falls in love. Surprised at first, she quickly falls in love with him as well.

When dawn comes and the Tsarevna and her maidens return to Kastcheï’s castle, Ivan follows. But as soon as he opens the castle gates, a large group of strange men--passing travelers whom Kastcheï has ensorcelled--rush out into the garden and bow to Kastcheï as he makes his grand entrance. Kastcheï orders his men to attack Ivan and then attempts to cast a magic spell on the prince himself. Ivan pulls out the Firebird’s feather, calling on her for help. She comes and enchants Kastcheï’s enspelled captives, forcing them to dance until they fall to the ground exhausted.

But Kastcheï, using his magic, attacks the Firebird and kills her. As she dies, Ivan finds the magical egg that holds Kastcheï’s soul and dashes it to the ground. The evil magician dies. Ivan and the Tsarevna are free to marry, and the Firebird is reborn.

As I did my research for this post online, I noticed that certain elements of the story change from one production to another, but only very slightly. You may read another version from the website of the Birmingham Royal Ballet here.

No one specific tale provided the basis for the plot of this lovely ballet. The Firebird is a creature that appears in many Russian tales; and the evil magician Kastcheï the Immortal is based on Kastcheï the Deathless, also a recurring figure in Russian folklore.

You can read two of my favorite Firebird tales on the Surlalune website. One is “The Firebird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilia.”  The second is “Tsarevitch Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf.” 

Writing this post was actually my first introduction to Kastcheï the Immortal/Deathless. Andrew Lang included the story “The Death of Koshchei the Deathless” in his Red Fairy Book. It’s a fabulous, fascinating tale! I was by turns reminded of “Bluebeard” (with gender roles reversed) and “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” (also with gender roles reversed), yet the story has its own unique flair. You can read it here.

Have any of you seen The Firebird ballet? What do you think of ballet as a vehicle for reinterpreting fairy tales? Join Enchanted Conversation and let us know!

References: (“The Firebird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilia”) (“Tsarevitch Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf”) (“The Death of Koshchei the Deathless”)

Christina Ruth Johnson recently received her Masters in Art History with a focus on the ancient Mediterranean and a side interest in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her other great love is fantasy literature from ancient times to present day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside: A Review of Three Darkly Beautiful Modern Faerie, By Brita Long, Fairy Tale Book Reviewer

Holly Black is one of my favorite authors, who writes in a variety of genres for different ages. If you don’t like faerie tales, I’m not sure why you’re reading this column. You will still probably find a book to love by Holly Black—just not the three Modern Faerie Tales I’m reviewing today.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale is the first book I ever read by Holly Black, and then I read Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie as soon as it came out. Recently I reread them in preparation for finally reading Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale, the final book in the trilogy.

In Tithe, Kaye is a teenage girl recently returned to her childhood home. She reunites with her old friends, including two faeries, who reveal that she is actually a pixie, a changeling. In Valiant, Valerie is a teenage runaway who joins a group of mysterious squatters. In Ironside, the two previous storylines converge into an exciting, heartbreaking, but ultimately satisfying conclusion.

How do I love these books? Let me count the ways.

Chapter Openings:

Each chapter opens with a quotation. A line of poetry, a song lyric, famous lines from a play, and even the occasional famous clever quip. Each quotation alludes to that chapter’s plot. I love the variety of quotations used and how each one works so well with the progression of the plot.

Character Diversity:

A pitfall in many faerie novels is the overdependence on straight, white characters. Black’s writing does not have this problem. Furthermore, the diversity is not just tokenism, but a genuine integration with the fantastical plot.

Shades of Morality:

No one is perfect. The protagonists make bad decisions, sometimes for the right reasons, often for the wrong ones. Good and evil are far from obvious. The first two books surprised me—and disappointed me, since I really liked those characters—with the changing morality of some supporting characters.

Thoughts with Spoilers:

The realm of Faerie is a dark one. I cringed at the senseless torture, and I cried at the needless deaths. The queens of the rival faerie courts, the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court, are truly evil.While the overall plot arc and character growth is the epic love story between Kaye and Roiben, I most enjoyed Corny’s story. A human teenage boy, Kaye inadvertently pulls him into the faerie part of her life.

Awkward, nerdy, and gay, Corny ends up exquisitely tortured by a dangerous faerie knight. Broken but wanting to overcome his fear, he becomes reckless in his interactions with faeries. He even intentionally provokes a faerie into cursing him. Eventually Corny meets Luis, another human teenage boy, but one who has the Sight, who can see faeries and can see through their glamours, and who helps mortals afflicted by faerie curses. Luis has his own damaged background, and he and Corny help each other heal.

I highly recommend this trilogy for anyone with a love for urban fantasy, overlapping mortal-immortal worlds, or dark faerie tales. What should I read next?

Brita Long is a francophile feminist living out her own fairy tale with her husband in Ohio. You can find her online at, where she writes about her faith, books, and her life as a southern belle in the Midwest.
Brita Long

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Into the Woods: Will it be Deep or "Disney-fied"?, By Nora Stasio, Fairy Tale News Reporter

There's been so much buzz about Disney's film adaptation of Sondheim's Broadway hit musical, Into The Woods, I figured it was high time for a focused article on it. We only have one trailer so far, but quite a few still images have been released. I highly recommend you look them up--everything I've seen is really gorgeous. Right now, I've got some cast details for you, plus a few of my thoughts. And at the end, feel free to share yours as well!

This is a star-studded cast if I ever saw one. I'm most excited to see Meryl Streep as "The Witch." Have you seen her costume yet? She looks wonderfully wicked, with silver-blue hair, black mutton sleeves and sharp, untrimmed fingernails. 

British comedienne Tracey Ullman plays the Mother of Jack, from "Jack and the Beanstalk." Daniel Huttlestone, who played Gavroche in 2012's Les Miserables, is Jack. He's only 15 years old.

We've also got Anna Kendrick (from Pitch Perfect) as Cinderella, Chris Pine (Star Trek: Into Darkness) as her Prince, James Corben (One Chance) as the Baker, and Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria) as the Baker's Wife. 

So far, we haven't seen any images of Johnny Depp as "The Big Bad Wolf," aside from a shot in the trailer of one hairy, clawed hand. I guess they're trying to keep his appearance a surprise until opening day. Hopefully that means it'll really knock our socks off.

In a previous article, I'd reported that 10-year-old singer Sophia Grace Brownlee had been cast as Little Red Riding Hood. I had had some concerns about that. Turns out, I wasn't the only one. Sophia Grace's parents pulled her from the project last year. Dominic Brownlee, Sophia's father, spoke about his decision on Twitter. "It was a joint decision between us and the director and producer of "Into the woods" to withdraw Sophia Grace from the film." He continued, "After careful consideration we the parents of Sophia Grace felt that as rehearsals progressed that she was too young for this part."

It would have been interesting to have seen Sophia Grace acting in a serious role, but at least she's got her own Nickelodeon TV movie to make up for it. That should keep her busy enough. Meanwhile, 13-year-old Lilla Crawford will be replacing Sophia, now that her stint as Little Orphan Annie on Broadway has come to an end. 

Despite the Brownlee Family's concerns, I have a feeling the film will not portray the relationship of Little Red and the Wolf as having sexual undertones as per original musical. That would be very un-Disney-like, wouldn't it? After all, Lilla is only 13, and Johhny Depp is 51. That would surely raise more than a few eyebrows. 

Some may ask, why did the musical portray the girl and the wolf in this way? Actually, it is not uncommon for fairy-tale theorists to interpret the original fairytale, "Little Red Riding Hood," as a cautionary tale, to teach young women to steer clear of potential sexual predators. These days, when we read the story to children, we tell them the moral is simply, "don't talk to strangers." But those undertones are always there if you're looking for them. 

One of the reasons the 1970's (note: make that 1980's) musical was so highly regarded was the way that it took the fairy tales we grew up with and made them deeper. By that I mean, of course, that they had always been deep, but adults have always simplified these stories for the sake of children. Many of the most beloved fairy tales of our day are told quite differently now then they were hundreds of years ago. Scenes that were considered too risque or too gruesome for those with puritanical tastes were often removed, or transformed into something a little easier to swallow. 

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods made a deliberate attempt to include aspects of the original stories that had previously been censored or simplified. It also introduced a new theme of "real-life consequences," seeking to explore what may have happened after "happily ever after."

For those who've never seen the show, I don't want to give anything away. But I'm wondering if Disney will stay true to Sondheim's vision, and portray the tales as they once were - deeper, fuller, a little more raw and ugly. Or will Disney turn around and "Disney-fy" what Lapine and Sondheim had previously "un-Disney-fied?"

Judging by the trailer, I think it will be somewhere in-between. Either way, will you be seeing Into the Woods on Christmas Day? Have you seen the musical, and what did you think of it? 

I may follow-up on this story next year, if there's enough to say. See you then!
Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entire life! I recently graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."

Nora, by Nora

Friday, November 14, 2014

Krampusnacht Ebook Giveaway Closed

To celebrate the new book, Krampusnacht, with its 12 fabulous stories, I'm hosting a giveaway of one e-copy. 

Here are the rules for the giveaway of one electronic copy of the book.

1) To enter, you must be 18 years of age, but because this is an e-book giveaway, you can be a resident of any country.
2) You must comment below with a guess of a number between 400 and 1,000. Don't forget to guess the number!
3) Only one entry per person, UNLESS, you tweet (or retweet), Facebook post, find a way to pin or otherwise promote this contest. Then you may enter a second time. The second entry must include a link to the way you promoted the contest, plus another number guess between 400 and 1,000. Again, it must be done in the comment box for this post.
4) The contest ends Nov. 30 at 11:59 pm, EST. The winner will be announced by Dec. 5. The winner will then have 72 hours to send me a message at, acknowledging  the win. If the winner does not contact me within 72 hours, I will pick a new winner.
5) You MUST follow EC through Twitter, one of the Google methods, Pinterest or Facebook before you enter, to qualify. If you are named a winner, you will be asked to how you follow. This is not optional. And you must follow before you enter, not after you win.
6) No former or current or future students of mine at IUSB may enter. Authors in the anthology are not eligible either, but their friends and family are.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Krampusnacht Available Today

Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus is out today! Please buy! The book has twelve terrific stories looking at Krampus from more angles than you can imagine.

There are several Krampus books out there. So, here's the right cover:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Check Out the Krampusnacht Cover Artist

Searing Limb Art did the amazing cover for Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus. I know I've posted about it already, but take a close look. The detail in this image is amazing.

Do you see the little hand popping out of the basket? Oh wait, there's two more! And I love that weird, snaky forked tongue. The Krampus tongue thing is lascivious in most images, which I hate, but in this image, the tongue is scary but in a non-skeevy way. 

I love the way the profile of Krampus as rendered by Connor Anderson of Searing Limb Art reminds me of both the Minotaur and a big old cat. There's an animalistic charactistic to this image that makes it new.

You can follow Searing Limb on Twitter, and I just started!

This wonderful cover suggests the amazing variety and richness of the stories within. The book is available Nov. 11. You can preorder the book here: