Thursday, July 2, 2015

Paula Richey Art Giveaway Winner

Caroline Yu!! You are the winner! You have 72 hours to contact me at enchantedconversation@gmail.com.

The randomly chosen number was 654. Caroline was closest.

Thank you so much, Paula!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Art Giveaway Ends Tonight at 11:59 EST

There's still time to enter and is super easy! Just look for the Paiula Richey Art Giveaway.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Discovering the Feyland Series, By Brita Long, Fairy Tale Book Reviewer


It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited about a newly-discovered writer. I recently read the
prequel novella The First Adventure by Anthea Sharp, part of the Faery Realms ebook bundle. I loved it so much that I immediately purchased her Feyland trilogy, including The Dark Realm, The Bright Court, and The Twilight Kingdom. (Editor's note: See all about the books on Anthea Sharp's site,including the free prequel, here.)

The Feyland universe is the perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy. Set in a futuristic Earth, a video game company is developing an immersive virtual reality video game: Feyland. This is no ordinary video game, though. Some game testers have discovered playing the game leads them into an actual faery realm.

Jennet Carter’s dad is the lead developer on Feyland, but she isn’t allowed to play it… So she sneaks into his home office to play when he’s not around. Unfortunately for Jennet, she doesn’t realize Feyland is real until it’s too late. When she loses the final battle, she loses more than just a video game.

I love these books so much, for so many reasons.

The Characters

The Feyland books have a wide cast of characters. Jennet is a reformed spoiled rich girl. Tam is one of the best video game players in the world, but his complicated home life keeps him from pursuing a
normal life. Tam’s best friend Marny is unapologetically herself—bold, fat, and unpopular. Roy is
wealthy, handsome, and hungry for power—but not beyond redemption.

The Setting

The magical faery realm includes the Dark Realm, the Bright Court, and the Twilight Kingdom. Readers familiar with faery tales know the Unseelie and the Seelie Courts, which Sharp masterfully recreates as the Dark Realm and the Bright Court.

The Ballads

In each book, the characters rely on old ballads to learn how to triumph in the final battle. I love how
Sharp weaves real ballads into her futuristic faery tales.

The Video Game

Feyland is an RPG—a role-playing game. Players must complete quests to advance to the next level.
Sharp describes both the game and the actual magical realms with exquisite detail. I love that
progressing through the actual magical realms parallels playing the video game.

The Technology

Smart houses and flying cars join the immersive virtual reality video games as futuristic technologies in these novels. I would love to one day live in Sharp’s vision of the world!

If you want to discover Feyland for yourself, check out that free prequel!

What faery tales have you read lately?

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

Brita Long

Friday, June 26, 2015

Don't Miss the Giveaway!

The fabulous Paula Richey Art Giveaway is winding toward the end. Just look under the banner for details or scroll to the post two below this one from June 1 for details. It's super easy to enter!

Here's a reminder of just one of the four gorgeous works of art the lucky winner will receive.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Frozen Fairy Tales Decisions


Reading and deciding about submissions for Frozen Fairy Tales will be going on until mid-July. Those whose submissions have been chosen will be notified around that time. Many stories were submitted and the process is slow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Around the World: Folktales of India, By Christina Ruth Johnson, Vintage Fairy Tale Sleuth

The first international stop in our Around-the-World Fairy-Tale Tour is India, home to one of my favorite cultures in the world. The food! The clothes! The dancing! And, of course, the stories.

Researching Indian folktales for this post actually turned out to be an intriguing process. From our (at least, my) place on the other side of the globe, we tend to conceive of India as one homogenous nation. It’s not. This is one of the things that make it such a fascinating country to study and admire.

Indian edition of the Kathasaritsagara, early 17th century.
Metropolitan Museum

India is made up of 29 states and 7 union territories. Various sources and sites state that up to 1650 languages are spoken there; only a handful, however, are spoken by a majority of people. Over 12 are specifically literary languages. There are also 10 different writing systems. Within these regions and language groups and writing systems are many different traditions and sub-cultures, which give birth to many, many different folktales, some unique, and others with related stories around the world.

Attention turned to collecting Indian folktales in the nineteenth century when such studies gained popularity in western Europe (the era of the Grimm brothers, etc.). Since India was a colony of Great Britain up until 1947, most of those who collected Indian tales were European colonists, especially women (wives and daughters of ambassadors, soldiers, etc.). This led to publications of stories that had been “doctored” for content, or written in a literary style incongruent with the tales’ sources.

One nineteenth-century tale, “collected” by Flora Annie Steel, is a fascinating variant on “The White Hind” in which the deer, instead of turning into a lovely princess, is actually a witch in disguise. It is up to the king’s young son to defeat her and rescue his seven mothers. A clever princess helps out. You can find a link to read it below under Resources.


Syrian edition of the Panchatantra, 1354: the rabbit fools the elephant king.
Bodleian Library

Fascinatingly, at that time India was considered to be the original source for the folktale tradition in Europe. Many ancient Indian texts had been translated into European languages from the original Sanskrit as early as the European medieval period by way of Arabic and Latin. One such text is the Panchatantra, a collection of about 87 animal stories first compiled between the third and fifth centuries AD but likely originating around 200 BC or earlier, possibly in Kashmir. For comparison, the earliest known collection of animal fables attributed to the legendary Aesop comes from the fourth century BC. (Fun side note: someone who writes or compiles fables is called a “fabulist.”)

One unique story from the Panchatantra involves the king of the jungle, who is an elephant, a bullock advisor, and a tiny ant. The ant challenges the elephant, who scoffs at his diminutive size. We can all guess how this tale ends: the ant triumphs. But he does so by going up inside the elephant’s trunk and into his brain. All ends well, and the elephant gains much greater respect for the insect. (Beck #69)

Pakistani edition of the Kathasaritsagara, 1590:
King Putraka in the Palace of the Beautiful Patali. LACMA

Another famous Indian story collection is the Kathasaritsagara (“The Ocean of the Streams of Story”) compiled sometime in the eleventh century AD. The publishers of the Penguin Edition describe it as “an uninhibited and bawdy celebration of earthly life.” These tales influenced or provided source material for Arabian Nights and the Decameron. Even Shakespeare based a couple of his plays on these early Indian stories: Cymbeline and All’s Well That Ends Well. We also see in the Indian folktale tradition variants of some of the most well known stories in the western world: Cinderella, Oedipus, Lear and his daughters, among others. One tale from South India follows the Oedipal storyline but swaps the genders of the original Greek story: a woman is fated to marry her son, which of course ends up happening despite everything she does to avoid it.

Today, scholars are working to compile oral stories that are still in existence from all the disparate regions, languages, traditions, and sub-cultures of India. These have been translated into English with the goal of remaining as faithful to the originals as possible. Ramanujan and others have published a couple of excellent anthologies (which are listed under Recommended Reading below), which categorize these stories by genre and language/region. Some tales have religious/sacred roots, others have roots in the upper-class literary traditions, and still more come from the “folk” or lower-class traditions.

One fun tale from Karnataka is about the god Krishna and deals with the jealousies of co-wives. The story includes magical flowers, 1001 parrots, cross-dressing, and one woman turning (herself!) into a golden fly. (Beck #44)


Pakistani version of the Kathasaritsagara, 1590:
Somaprabha and a Celestial Nymph listening to Music. LACMA

Within this plurality, we are at the very least able to pinpoint prevailing themes and motifs that appear across regional and language boundaries. These are themes of familial relationships (between parent and child, between siblings, etc.); marital relationships (between betrotheds, between husband and wife, and including adulterous situations--often humorous); origin stories; stories about stereotypical character-types (the fool, the underdog, the trickster, etc.); and stories lauding (or disapproving) specific character traits--lauding cleverness, selflessness, courage, and religious dedication; disapproving foolishness and egoism. Many tales fit into more than one category. Women are typically given prominent places, often appearing in semi-magical roles or in disguises. Ramanujan points out that women tend to embody universal roles, while men embody specific cultural identities.

This does not mean that women are not cast as comic characters. In one story from Kashmir, seven sisters have ridiculous speech impediments, which their mother desperately (and, of course, futilely) tries to hide from the matchmaker. (Beck #27)

Which Indian folktale is your favorite? Check out the Recommended Reading list below, and then join Enchanted Conversation to let us know! Feel free to vote in the comments on where our journey will take us next.

Christina Ruth Johnson has her M.A. in Art History with a research focus on the ancient Mediterranean. She is currently working as a teacher and freelance writer. Her other great love is fantasy literature and folklore from ancient times to present day.

Resources
A.K. Ramanujan. “Foreward.” Folk Tales of India. ed. Brenda Beck, et al. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987, xi-xxi.
D.L. Ashliman, ed. “The Panchatantra.” University of Pittsburgh. Accessed 5 May 2015. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/panchatantra.html.
Encyclopedia Britannica, “Aesop.” Accessed 6 May 2015. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/7451/Aesop.
Flora Annie Steel. “The Son of Seven Mothers.” Tales of the Punjab. London: Macmillan, 1894. UPenn Digital Library. Accessed 7 May 2015. http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/steel/punjab/punjab-10.html.

Recommended Reading
A.K. Ramanujan, ed. Folktales from India: a selection of oral tales from twenty-two languages. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.
Brenda E.F. Beck, et al. Folk Tales of India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
C.H. Tawney, trans. “Katha Sarit Sagara.” Project Gutenberg. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/40588/40588.txt.
D.L. Ashliman, ed. “The Panchatantra.” University of Pittsburgh. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/panchatantra.html.
Flora Annie Steel. Tales of the Punjab. London: Macmillan, 1894. UPenn Digital Library. http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/steel/punjab/punjab.html.
Maive Stokes, coll. and trans. Indian Fairy Tales. Project Gutenberg. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/31209/31209-h/31209-h.html.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Paula Richey Fairy Tale Art Giveaway Starts Today!

Super-talented artist Paula Richey is very generously giving away a set of four fairy-tale inspired hand-painted, original works. To learn more about the process behind these works, check out her recent post here. The lucky winner will receive the 9-by-12-inch works as a set of four. You can find out more about Paula, here.

Here are the beautiful works to be given away:

Inspired by "Beauty and the Beast"


Inspired by "Cinderella"


Inspired by "The Little Mermaid"
 
Inspired by "Red Riding Hood"


Here are the giveaway details:

1) To enter, you must be 18 years of age and live in the USA.
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 July 1 at 11:59 pm, EST. The winner will be announced on July 2. The winner will then have 72 hours to send me a message at enchantedconversation@gmail.com, 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. Everyone else is free to enter.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Jewelry Commercial has Debuted: Book of Dreams, By Nora Stasio, Fairy Tale News Reporter


A still, from Book of Dreams

IT’S FINALLY DONE! The project I’ve been working on for so long! My jewelry commercial, Book of Dreams!

This is a video I made to showcase my handmade accessories, which I've talked about on this blog before, if you recall. Yes, alongside my love of fairy tales and crafting, I'm also an aspiring filmmaker! It seemed only natural for me to combine all my passions together into one exciting project. With some help from my wonderful, lovely friends, it actually came together!
 
To tell the truth, I have actually been working on this project since last summer. Before creating all the necklaces and headpieces featured here, and putting everyone’s outfits together, I first had to conceptualize the scenes, and that's what ended up taking the longest. I wanted the overall feel to be classically dreamy and magical, but in a very organic way. Eventually, I settled on two distinct scene concepts that I thought went well together: the first, an all-natural, pastoral scene of sisterly nymphs, roaming the forest, adorned in ivory lace and flowers (representing the day), and the second, an elegant tea party with black and white costumes, just hinting at a gothic edge (representing the night).
 
I worked with my brother, Marc, himself an inspiring composer, to create the original song, “Pages,” that's used here, and yes, that is me singing! I'm planning to release an official lyric video of the song as soon as I can, to really showcase the brilliant work he did.
 
Our budget was low, and the video quality could have been sharper, but I hope it comes across as charming and humble... All in all, I really am pleased with the final product, and I sincerely hope others will enjoy it, too.
 
If you enjoyed, please do subscribe to my YouTube channel! I'll be releasing a new video of bloopers and behind-the-scenes footage soon! I also hope to make more videos like this in the near future, some with more overt fairy tale themes, if I get the chance!
 
To keep up with my work, here are all the places you can follow me! (Especially if you want to see more of that beautiful photoshoot I did with my friend, Mary!)
 
 
 
 
 
Thanks so so much for watching! Leave a comment to let me know what you thought! You can be honest :)

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Giveaway Coming

A giveaway of Paula Richey's gorgeous art will start on June 1.
Stay tuned!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Little Mermaid,' by Paula Richey, Artist--Giveaway Coming Soon!

This image is not yet named. Any ideas?
Editor's note: As soon as I get from under student papers, EC will have a giveaway for some of Paula's gorgeous images. For now, enjoy learning about her artistic process.

Hans Christian Andersen had a history of unrequited love and evidently was familiar with on pointe ballet and the extreme physical demands it makes on the dancers, both of which are clearly shown in “The Little Mermaid.” In my painting, I wanted to keep close to his original tale and inspirations, while drawing attention to the overlooked elements of the story.

For this piece, I began by considering her feet. In the original tale, the little mermaid had her tail split in two so that she could walk on land, and every step felt as though she was walking on knives. Her steps are delicate and graceful, and she dances on her toes like a ballerina, though her feet bleed easily. Rather than the clean, magical transformation seen in the Disney version, she has chosen to injure herself and endure the suffering of trying to become human.

In my painting, I outlined her hips and legs in black, but used red to create flowing lines that indicate her calves, heels and soles of her feet. I continued the line beyond her toes to evoke several aspects of her story: her lost tail, her bleeding feet, and also the long ribbons of a ballerina's toe shoes.

Next, I considered her pose. Her shoulders are rounded, and she holds her hands to her heart, cradling her hopes for happiness. But she doesn't slump, and though she's sad and suffering, she is resolute. Even when all hope of marrying the prince and gaining a soul is lost, she still loves him and chooses his life over hers. This is an often overlooked strength, to suffer and suffer and still never become bitter and vengeful. Especially considering that in the usual tales concerning mermaids, they don't value human life at all, and are known for leading sailors to their deaths. But this little mermaid has made her choices, and she owns them until the end. So I've taken care to show her pain, while leaving out sharp angles and any hint of aggressiveness.

Then, her hair. I considered making it red, but decided to distance my work from Disney's Ariel. Besides, black hair symbolizes her sadness and imminent death, while red would have suggested life and joy. The wind plays with her hair, and it's described as wavy, so I depicted it blowing in the wind and used strokes that I would use for ocean waves. Strands of her hair are blown across her mouth, to show that she is mute. 

In the tale, she was rescued and given another chance by the daughters of the air, who send soft breezes to relieve mankind's suffering -- which is an ending that comes out of nowhere, until you consider that wind is everywhere and the story is told very tightly through the little mermaid's viewpoint. Hans Christian Andersen could have broken the narrative viewpoint to explain “spirits of the air,” but this is the mermaid's story, and she chose to spare the prince and die without having any clue that she would be rescued.

There are other deliberate choices I made for this painting, such as her dominant, centered placing, the symmetry of her pose, and floating her in the white space without any other strokes anchoring her to the background. These choices pay tribute to her status as the central character and the way all the action rests on her choices, and even her characterization as a thoughtful, steadfast person who considers all options and, once she has decided on a course, does not stray from it.

My entire abstract fairy tale series is painted on 9" x 12" white paper with red and black acrylics, and with each one I endeavor to say something new about the fairy tales that inspire them with as few lines as possible. Fairy tales are so often brief and abstract themselves, with endless opportunities for reinterpretation. The tropes they play can be limited, usually involving love, royalty, trials, rewards, and some aspect of the fantastic, but within this palette of plot elements there is infinite variety. Similar to the use of white space in a painting, what is not said is just as important as what is said, and when people (usually parents) are absent, their presence is missed. My goal for each painting is to put so much into each line that every time someone sees them, they have the ability to reveal something new.