February 23, 2017

Shattered Fates Cover Reveal, Writing Opportunities

 

World Weaver Press has a variety of news, including the cover reveal above. Read on about Shattered Fates.

"The magic barrier protecting the Taakwa from their enemies, the Maddion, is gone. Malia, who led the Taakwa against the Maddion in the Dragon War, must convince the magical being, the changer, to repair the barrier before the Maddion invade to take revenge on her people and the winged Jeguduns who also call the valley home, even if it means reversing the healing the changer wrought for her.
 
"Chanwa, the wife of the Maddion leader, uses the disorder created by the changer to lead a coup against her husband in a desperate attempt to ensure she and the other Maddion women are treated as equals. Her life, and the future of every Maddion woman, depends on her success.
 
"Both women know the only way to succeed is to come together in an unlikely alliance."

"Pre-order your copy from AmazonBarnesandNoble.comiTunesKobo, or World Weaver Press. (Note: paperback pre-orders only available through WWP.)

"We've also redesigned the covers of Roland's first two books, Shards of History and Fractured Days."

 

 

Also--

Goodreads Giveaway for Dream Eater by K. Bird Lincoln

Ends March 3, 2017

Enter to win an advance review copy! Just click here.

“I came for the Japanese mythology, and I was not disappointed. Readers who want variety in their urban fantasy beyond the werewolf and vampire staples are advised to pick up Dream Eater.”

— Laura VanArendonk Baugh, author of The Songweaver’s Vow

But wait, there's more:

"We are open for submissions until February 28th! If you seeking publication for a finished, standalone, speculative novel or novella, see our guidelines here. We are especially interested in acquiring dieselpunk, solarpunk, steampunk, and paranormal romance.

"SONOFAWITCH! is still considering contemporary fantasy short stories until March 31st. See what anthologist Trysh Thompson is looking for here."


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February 22, 2017

Toads and Diamonds, By Charles Perrault

 

Oh Charles Perrault, you sure gave the world some fantastic tales when you published Tales of Mother Goose 350 years ago. This tale, which I think of as "Diamonds and Toads," is such a favorite of mine that my first fairy tale site was called Diamonds and Toads.

The submission window for the "Diamonds and Toads" issue opens March 1 at 12 a.m., EST, so I thought publishing the story here might help writers and poets who wish to submit. And don't forget that the window closes at 11:59 p.m. On March 30, EST. and please read the guidelines. Here they are: https://tinyurl.com/zb3ex9x

I'm also going to share my thoughts on the story, so--spoiler alert! Scroll below and start reading the story before coming back up here for some perspective.

Why do I love the story so much? Probably because its message is that words can be jewels or they can be nasty and animalistic. Also, when my sisters and I were growing up, our mother would admonish us about fighting by saying "toads and snakes are dropping from your lips!" Our poor mother!

I used to think that having jewels and flowers popping out of my near-constantly chattering mouth would be quite a gift. But now, much older, and a little wiser, I hope, I see both the gifts for the "sweet" daughter and the "curse" for the surly daughter are, in fact, both curses. 

What kind of gift is having rocks, however pretty, ejecting themselves from your mouth? What if the "lucky" sister talks in her sleep? Wouldn't she choke to death? And wouldn't she be forced to babbble ceaselessly by greedy people who get their mitts on her?

And that prince! Princes in fairy tales are booby prizes, because they are almost always greedy, creepy (as in "Snow White") or barely one dimensional. In this story, the prince finds the heroine very pretty, but it's what jumps out of her mouth that seals the deal. That doesn't bode well for the good sister's future.

The other, surly sister ends up an outcast who dies. Yes, she was pretty awful, but did she deserve to be rejected from society and die?

As in many fairy tales, the parent is the real villain here. That mother plays obvious favorites, then ends up driving both daughters away! Fairy tales can be so enjoyably nasty, can't they?

Enjoy!

(Top image by Margaret Evans Price, next is by Mabel Lucie Atwell, next is unknown, and last, Gordon Laite.)

Toads and Diamonds

There was once upon a time a widow who had two daughters. The eldest was so much like her in the face and humor that whoever looked upon the daughter saw the mother. They were both so disagreeable and so proud that there was no living with them.

The youngest, who was the very picture of her father for courtesy and sweetness of temper, was withal one of the most beautiful girls ever seen. As people naturally love their own likeness, this mother even doted on her eldest daughter and at the same time had a horrible aversion for the youngest—she made her eat in the kitchen and work continually.

Among other things, this poor child was forced twice a day to draw water above a mile and a-half off the house, and bring home a pitcher full of it. One day, as she was at this fountain, there came to her a poor woman, who begged of her to let her drink.

 

"Oh! ay, with all my heart, Goody," said this pretty little girl; and rinsing immediately the pitcher, she took up some water from the clearest place of the fountain, and gave it to her, holding up the pitcher all the while, that she might drink the easier.

The good woman, having drunk, said to her:

"You are so very pretty, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot help giving you a gift." For this was a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country woman, to see how far the civility and good manners of this pretty girl would go. "I will give you for a gift," continued the Fairy, "that, at every word you speak, there shall come out of your mouth either a flower or a jewel."

When this pretty girl came home her mother scolded her for staying so long at the fountain.

"I beg your pardon, mamma," said the poor girl, "for not making more haste."

And in speaking these words there came out of her mouth two roses, two pearls, and two diamonds.

"What is it I see there?" said the mother, quite astonished. "I think I see pearls and diamonds come out of the girl's mouth! How happens this, child?"

This was the first time she had ever called her child.

The poor creature told her frankly all the matter, not without dropping out infinite numbers of diamonds.

"In good faith," cried the mother, "I must send my child thither. Come hither, Fanny; look what comes out of thy sister's mouth when she speaks. Wouldst not thou be glad, my dear, to have the same gift given thee? Thou hast nothing else to do but go and draw water out of the fountain, and when a certain poor woman asks you to let her drink, to give it to her very civilly."

"It would be a very fine sight indeed," said this ill-bred minx, "to see me go draw water."

"You shall go, hussy!" said the mother; "and this minute."

So away she went, but grumbling all the way, taking with her the best silver tankard in the house.

She was no sooner at the fountain than she saw coming out of the wood a lady most gloriously dressed, who came up to her, and asked to drink. This was, you must know, the very fairy who appeared to her sister, but now had taken the air and dress of a princess, to see how far this girl's rudeness would go.

 "Am I come hither," said the proud, saucy one, "to serve you with water, pray? I suppose the silver tankard was brought purely for your ladyship, was it? However, you may drink out of it, if you have a fancy."

 

"You are not over and above mannerly," answered the Fairy, without putting herself in a passion. "Well, then, since you have so little breeding, and are so disobliging, I give you for a gift that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad."

So soon as her mother saw her coming she cried out:

"Well, daughter?"

"Well, mother?" answered the pert hussy, throwing out of her mouth two vipers and two toads.

"Oh! mercy," cried the mother; "what is it I see? Oh! it is that wretch her sister who has occasioned all this; but she shall pay for it"; and immediately she ran to beat her. The poor child fled away from her, and went to hide herself in the forest, not far from thence.

The King's son, then on his return from hunting, met her, and seeing her so very pretty, asked her what she did there alone and why she cried.

"Alas! sir, my mamma has turned me out of doors."

 

 

The King's son, who saw five or six pearls and as many diamonds come out of her mouth, desired her to tell him how that happened. She thereupon told him the whole story; and so the King's son fell in love with her, and, considering himself that such a gift was worth more than any marriage portion, conducted her to the palace of the King his father, and there married her.

As for the sister, she made herself so much hated that her own mother turned her off; and the miserable wretch, having wandered about a good while without finding anybody to take her in, went to a corner of the wood, and there died.[1]

read more " Toads and Diamonds, By Charles Perrault "

February 20, 2017

Frederick Little Packer, Artist

I'm cheating just a tiny bit in celebrating Frederick L. Packer today. While he was not a fairy tale illustrator, his illustrations remain absolutely delectable.

Not much seems to be known about Packer. He was clearly a political cartoonist--he won a Pulitzer for Editorial Cartooning in 1952, according to Wikipedia. The cartoon was called, "Your Editors Ought to Have More Sense than to Print What I Say." I guess that means "fake news," huh? Very 2017.

Anyway, back to the reason why I am featuring Packer: Many of his illustrations are lush, highly colored, and celebratory of the female form. They could easily be paired with stories of enchantment. His landscapes and backgrounds are deliciously colored. They are inspirations for dream times. And they are often very Art Deco, which I adore!

The early 20th Century was the Golden Age of Illustration, and even though Packer didn't illustrate tales of wonder, they sure do fire the imagination, as all of the best images from that time do.

Enjoy!

 

 
 
   
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February 19, 2017

The Dangers of 'Fair Trade' With Fairies, By Lillian Csernica

 


Fairies are among the sneakiest and least forgiving of all supernatural creatures.


It's dangerous to make a deal with any supernatural creature. The Wee Folk in particular are famous for their arrogance, touchy temper, fondness for playing pranks, and their tendency to steal anything from thimbles to fully grown human beings. This being so, humans would do well to avoid being put in the position of making any kind of deal with one or more of the Fae.


As the saying goes, good stories come from bad decisions, so folklore has more than a few tales of humans who have tried to solve a problem by making a deal with a fairy. The usual pattern of folk tales results in the fairy coming up with an interpretation of the deal's terms that makes the human's problems that much worse. Often the human's own carelessness brings about an unforseen fulfillment of the terms of the deal.


Most of the time the fairies get the best of humans, but there are occasions when the human comes out the winner. Outsmarting the Wee Folk is not a good way to make long term friends of them. Matters go two ways from there. One, the fairies respect the human and keep their distance. Two, the fairies' revenge is well timed and very costly.


***


Lillian's fiction has appeared in Fantastic StoriesThese Vampires Don't Sparkle, and DAW'S The Year's Best Horror Stories XXI and XXII.  Her Christmas ghost story "The Family Spirit" appeared in Weird Tales #322 and "Maeve" appeared in #333.


The perils of bargaining with a powerful fairy is the central theme of her short story "Beware the Fairy's Price." This story will appear in Wee Folk and Wise, a new anthology forthcoming from Sky Warrior Press. Visit Lillian at lillian888.wordpress.com.

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February 15, 2017

Donkeyskin, By Charles Perrault


Editor's note: "Donkeyskin" is a disturbing fairy tale, but it is rich with possibilities for writers and poets. Before I go any further, spoiler alert: If you don't want to read anything about the details of the story or if you have never read it, skip down to the tale and read it first.

(Why am I exploring "Donkeyskin"? Because it's the submission theme for June and we think this one may take people awhile. You submit in May, if you're interested. I'll be posting about "Diamonds and Toads, which is the theme for the March submission period.)

Charles Perrault was a well-born 17th century Frenchmen and a man of many talents. He was involved with creating the Academy of Sciences and was a member of the Academie Francaise. He advised Louis XIV, and as such, was wise in the ways of power. He was also a writer, who, happily for fairy tale fans, published Tales of Mother Goose, which made fairy tales very popular in high circles. I consider him the Father of Fairy Tales, but I realize many people will disagree. Certainly most people, even fairy tale fans, have never heard of him.

His understanding of government, court, power and sycophancy reveal themselves in in his fairy tales. His understanding of the abuse of absolute power is most evident in "Donkeyskin." In it, morality, the taboo against incest, and the powerlessness of women, even princesses, are thrown into bold belief. Yet, it seems to me that because he was a wily fellow, Perrault couched his commentary in a simple fairy tale--he even published the stories under his son's name, Pierre Darmancort. You need to be careful when you're a retired servant of Louis XIV, the Sun King. (Although to be fair, Louis XIV was never accused of incest, to the best of my knowledge.)

In this story, ministers, the church, and everyone else bow down to the king, who is even more powerful than most rulers because of his immense fortune. (They bow down by NOT trying to stop him in his quest to marry his own child. And some versions of this story have them collaborating with the king.) The fortune is built on a donkey who poops gold. So this perverted king's empire is built from a mountain of crap. How is that for commentary?

I won't tell the story in my comments, but I urge you to notice the shocking way Perrault resolves the story. By 21st century standards, its really terrible. In fact, the whole story is terrible, but very appropriate for 2017 USA, on many levels. 

What do you see in the tale? And what do you make of the "moral" of the story? Does it ruin the tale for you?

Whether or not you agree with my assessment, or don't even see it as political commentary, it's quite a tale.

The tale is from D.L. Ashliman's site, which is 100 percent worth visiting.



"Donkeyskin"

Once upon a time there was a king who was the most powerful ruler in the whole world. Kind and just in peace and terrifying in war, his enemies feared him while his subjects were happy and content. His wife and faithful companion was both charming and beautiful. From their union a daughter had been born.

Their large and magnificent palace was filled with courtiers, and their stables boasted steeds large and small, of every description. But what surprised everyone on entering these stables was that the place of honor was held by a donkey with two big ears. However, it was quite worthy of this position, for every morning, instead of dung, it dropped a great load of gold coins upon the litter.

Now heaven, which seems to mingle good with evil, suddenly permitted a bitter illness to attack the queen. Help was sought on all sides, but neither the learned physicians nor the charlatans were able to arrest the fever which increased daily. Finally, her last hour having come, the queen said to her husband: "Promise me that if, when I am gone, you find a woman wiser and more beautiful than I, you will marry her and so provide an heir for throne."

Confident that it would be impossible to find such a woman, the queen thus believed that her husband would never remarry. The king accepted his wife's conditions, and shortly thereafter she died in his arms.

For a time the king was inconsolable in his grief, both day and night. Some months later, however, on the urging of his courtiers, he agreed to marry again, but this was not an easy matter, for he had to keep his promise to his wife and search as he might, he could not find a new wife with all the attractions he sought. Only his daughter had a charm and beauty which even the queen had not possessed.

Thus only by marrying his daughter could he satisfy the promise he had made to his dying wife, and so he forthwith proposed marriage to her. This frightened and saddened the princess, and she tried to show her father the mistake he was making. Deeply troubled at this turn of events, she sought out her fairy godmother who lived in a grotto of coral and pearls.

"I know why you have come here," her godmother said. "In your heart there is a great sadness. But I am here to help you and nothing can harm you if you follow my advice. You must not disobey your father, but first tell him that you must have a dress which has the color of the sky. Certainly he will never be able to meet that request."

And so the young princess went all trembling to her father. But he, the moment he heard her request, summoned his best tailors and ordered them, without delay, to make a dress the color of the sky, or they could be assured he would hang them all.


The following day the dress was shown to the princess. It was the most beautiful blue of heaven. Filled now with both happiness and fear, she did not know what to do, but her godmother again told her, "Ask for a dress the color of the moon. Surely your father will not be able to give you this."

No sooner had the princess made the request than the king summoned his embroiderers and ordered that a dress the color of the moon be completed by the fourth day. On that very day it was ready and the princess was again delighted with its beauty.

But still her godmother urged her once again to make a request of the king, this time for a dress as bright and shining as the sun. This time the king summoned a wealthy jeweler and ordered him to make a cloth of gold and diamonds, warning him that if he failed he would die. Within a week the jeweler had finished the dress, so beautiful and radiant that it dazzled the eyes of everyone who saw it.

The princess did not know how to thank the king, but once again her godmother whispered in her ear.

"Ask him for the skin of the donkey in the royal stable. The king will not consider your request seriously. You will not receive it, or I am badly mistaken." But she did not understand how extraordinary was the king's desire to please his daughter. Almost immediately the donkey's skin was brought to the princess.

Once again she was frightened and once again her godmother came to her assistance. "Pretend," she said, "to give in to the king. Promise him anything he wishes, but, at the same time, prepare to escape to some far country.

"Here," she continued, "is a chest in which we will put your clothes, your mirror, the things for your toilet, your diamonds and other jewels. I will give you my magic wand. Whenever you have it in your hand, the chest will follow you everywhere, always hidden underground. Whenever you wish to open the chest, as soon as you touch the wand to the ground, the chest will appear.

"To conceal you, the donkey's skin will be an admirable disguise, for when you are inside it, no one will believe that anyone so beautiful could be hidden in anything so frightful."


Early in the morning the princess disappeared as she was advised. They searched everywhere for her, in houses, along the roads, wherever she might have been, but in vain. No one could imagine what had become of her.

The princess, meanwhile, was continuing her flight. To everyone she met, she extended her hands, begging them to find her some place where she might find work. But she looked so unattractive and indeed so repulsive in her Donkey Skin disguise that no one would have anything to do with such a creature.

Farther and still farther she journeyed until finally she came to a farm where they needed a poor wretch to wash the dishcloths and clean out the pig troughs. They also made her work in a corner of the kitchen where she was exposed to the low jokes and ridicule of all the other servants.

On Sundays she had a little rest for, having completed her morning tasks, she went to her room and closed the door and bathed. Then she opened the chest, took out her toilet jars and set them up, with the mirror, before her. Having made herself beautiful once more, she tried on her moon dress, then that one which shone like the sun and, finally, the lovely blue dress. Her only regret was that she did not have room enough to display their trains. She was happy, however, in seeing herself young again, and this pleasure carried her along from one Sunday to the next.

On this great farm where she worked there was an aviary belonging to a powerful king. All sorts of unusual birds with strange habits were kept there. The king's son often stopped at this farm on his return from the hunt in order to rest and enjoy a cool drink with his courtiers.

From a distance Donkey Skin gazed on him with tenderness and remembered that beneath her dirt and rags she still had the heart of a princess. What a grand manner he has, she thought. How gracious he is! How happy must she be to whom his heart is pledged! If he should give me a dress of only the simplest sort, I would feel more splendid wearing it than any of these which I have.

One day the young prince, seeking adventure from court yard to court yard, came to the obscure hallway where Donkey Skin had her humble room. By chance he put his eye to the key hole. It was a feast-day and Donkey Skin had put on her dress of gold and diamonds which shone as brightly as the sun. The prince was breathless at her beauty, her youthfulness, and her modesty. Three times he was on the point of entering her room, but each time refrained.


On his return to his father's palace, the prince became very thoughtful, sighing day and night and refusing to attend any of the balls and carnivals. He lost his appetite and finally sank into sad and deadly melancholy. He asked who this beautiful maiden was that lived in such squalor and was told that it was Donkey Skin, the ugliest animal one could find, except the wolf, and a certain cure for love. This he would not believe, and he refused to forget what he had seen.

His mother, the queen, begged him to tell her what was wrong. Instead, he moaned, wept and sighed. He would say nothing, except that he wanted Donkey Skin to make him a cake with her own hands.

"O heavens," they told her, "this Donkey Skin is only a poor, drab servant."

"It makes no difference," replied the queen. "We must do as he says. It is the only way to save him."

So Donkey Skin took some flour which she had ground especially fine, and some salt, some butter and some fresh eggs and shut herself alone in her room to make the cake. But first she washed her face and hands and put on a silver smock in honor of the task she had undertaken.

Now the story goes that, working perhaps a little too hastily, there fell from Donkey Skin's finger into the batter a ring of great value. Some who know the outcome of this story think that she may have dropped the ring on purpose, and they are probably right, for when the prince stopped at her door and looked through the key hole, she must have known it. And she was sure that the ring would be received most joyfully by her lover.

The prince found the cake so good that in his ravishing hunger, he almost swallowed the ring! When he saw the beautiful emerald and the band of gold that traced the shape of Donkey Skin's finger, his heart was filled with an indescribable joy. At once he put the ring under his pillow, but his illness increased daily until finally the doctors, seeing him grow worse, gravely concluded that he was sick with love.

Marriage, whatever may be said against it, is an excellent remedy for love sickness. And so it was decided that the prince was to marry.

"But I insist," he said, "that I will wed only the person whom this ring fits." This unusual demand surprised the king and queen very much, but the prince was so ill that they did not dare object.

A search began for whoever might be able to fit the ring on her finger, no matter what the station in life. It was rumored throughout the land that in order to win the prince one must have a very slender finger. Every charlatan had his secret method of making the finger slim. One suggested scraping it as though it was a turnip. Another recommended cutting away a small piece. Still another, with a certain liquid, planned to decrease the size by removing the skin.

At last the trials began with the princesses, the marquesses and the duchesses, but their fingers, although delicate, were too big. for the ring. Then the countesses, the baronesses and all the nobility presented their hands, but all in vain. Next came the working girls, who often have slender and beautiful fingers, but the ring would not fit them, either.

Finally it was necessary to turn to the servants, the kitchen help, the slaveys and the poultry keepers, with their red and dirty hands. Putting the tiny ring on their clumsy fingers was like trying to thread a big rope through the eye of a needle.

At last the trials were finished. There remained only Donkey Skin in her far corner of the farm kitchen. Who could dream that she ever would be queen?

"And why not?" asked the prince. "Ask her to come here." At that, some started to laugh; others cried out against bringing that frightful creature into the room. But when she drew out from under the donkey skin a little hand as white as ivory and the ring vas placed on her finger and fitted perfectly, everyone was astounded.

They prepared to take her to the king at once, but she asked that before she appeared before her lord and master, she be permitted to change her clothes. To tell the truth, there was some smiling at this request, but when she arrived at the palace in her beautiful dress, the richness of which had never been equaled, with her blonde hair all alight with diamonds and her blue eyes sweet and appealing and even her waist so slender that two hands could have encircled it, then even the gracious ladies of the court seemed, by comparison, to have lost all their charms. In all this happiness and excitement, the king did not fail to notice the charms of his prospective daughter-in-law, and the queen was completely delighted with her. The prince himself found his happiness almost more than he could bear. Preparations for the wedding were begun at once, and the kings of all the surrounding countries were invited. Some came from the East, mounted on huge elephants. Others were so fierce looking that they frightened the little children. From all the corners of the world they came and descended on the court in great numbers.

But neither the prince nor the many visiting kings appeared in such splendor as the bride's father, who now recognized his daughter and begged her forgiveness.

"How kind heaven is," he said, "to let me see you again, my dear daughter." Weeping with joy, he embraced her tenderly. His happiness was shared by all, and the future husband was delighted to find that his father-in-law was such a powerful king. At that moment the fairy godmother arrived, too, and told the whole story of what had happened, and what she had to tell added the final triumph for Donkey Skin.

It is not hard to see that the moral of this tale is that it is better to undergo the greatest hardships rather than to fail in one's duty, that virtue may sometimes seem ill-fated but will always triumph in the end.

The story of Donkey Skin may be hard to believe, but so long as there are children, mothers, and grandmothers in this world, it will be remembered by all.

Images by, in order: Warwick Goble, Arthur Rackham,  Harry Clarke,  Rie Cramer and HJ Ford.
read more " Donkeyskin, By Charles Perrault "

February 7, 2017

Authors for 'Steadfast Tin Soldier' Issue

 

Choosing the authors for the "Steadfast Tin Soldier" issue was unusually difficult. Although the number of submissions was lower than usual, the quality was amazingly high. I've done some complaining here about authors not following the submissions guidelines and about receiving submissions that were incompatible with publication on EC. But I can't complain this time. The submissions were terrific.

I will go so far as to say, for the first and probably last time, that all the submissions were publishable. I don't write that lightly. So those of you whose work was not chosen, it wasn't because it wasn't good.

When choosing works for an issue, I am always thinking about the issue as a whole, from a mix of voices to which works provide good opportunities for art. I also think about whose work has been in issues a lot recently, and about  how many new or almost new voices to feature. I think it's important for me to keep things fresh. So while quality is always paramount, other factors are in the mix. I almost always have to leave some excellent work alone, but my finances are tight!

So, without further explanation, here are the authors for the "Steadfast Tin Soldier" issue:

Jude Tulli
Kathy Guttosch
Erin Newcomb
Rhonda Eikamp
Luisa Kay Reyes
Kiyomi Gaines
Alicia Cole
Rebecca Buchanan 

Thanks to everyone for your great submissions! 

Illustration by Shigeru Hatsuyama.


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January 30, 2017

January Window Closes Tonight

The submission window for The Steadfast Tin Soldier Issue Closes Tonight at 11:59 p.m., EST.

 
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January 23, 2017

Slenderman Documentary

 

Please don't think I have deplorable taste, but I think a post on the Slenderman documentary premiering tonight on HBO has a place here on EC. Here goes:

As many of you know, in 2014, two young girls attempted to stab a third girl to death in order to "please" Slenderman, a character that came to "life" on the internet. The two would-be killers were 12, as was their victim. 

Here is a link that tells the whole story, with lots of other links to help you understand it:

And here's another: http://tinyurl.com/hvtau2x

Why am I bothering to write about this tragic, weird story on a fairy tale site? Because the story of the Slenderman crime involves internet folklore, and how it happens. The story shows us the power of imagination and how myth develops online, just like it did at hearth sides when fairy tales were born. And, as with old-fashioned fairy tales, different sources and people added layers and twists to the narrative.

But unlike stories that grew and shed layers over decades, as is the case with fairy tales, the Slenderman narrative grew quickly. And it took a real-life victim, who, thankfully, survived, but what terror and betrayal she has faced. Like Snow White. Or Donkeyskin. Or the miller's daughter in Rumpelstiltskin. 

I don't have HBO, but for those who do, I hope you'll watch and tell us about it.

About the picture: Countless Slenderman images are now on the internet. Since he is not real, there are many interpretations available. The picture with this post is the one I'm most familiar with, but I'm not sure who photoshopped it. Eric Knudsen is said to had created the Slenderman concept on a site called Something Awful, but it really took off on creepypasta.

Look closely. You'll see him.

What do you know about Slenderman? What do you think about the crime it helped generate?
read more " Slenderman Documentary "

January 19, 2017

Cats for Happiness

Today is hard for me. Here's why: I will miss the Obamas. I accept that I may alienate people by showing my admiration for the outgoing president and his family. But I was raised to believe that kindness and good manners and not being showy or flashy were hallmarks of good character and taste. I believe the Obamas exemplify these virtues. Also, I'm am old enough to remember when almost everyone agreed that these were virtues no matter what your politics were. (And kindness good manners often pay off in fairy tales. See "Toads and Diamonds" for an example: http://tinyurl.com/h5e6ycx.)

(I am not trying to actively discuss politics here. People of all beliefs are welcome at EC, and that includes Trump supporters.)

On sad days, I find cat memes have a magical, positive effect on my mood. So, in the spirit of lifting spirits, here are a few cat memes. Dog lovers, please don't feel offended. I adore dogs as well, but cat memes simply seem to work better in the internet. Here goes:

 

 

 

 

 

 
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January 13, 2017

More Poetry, Please

 

There is a paucity of poetry in submissions to EC these days. In fact, it has been a problem for awhile. 

Finding great short stories for each issue is usually a no-brainer. But poetry is a problem, because simply put, I get very few useable submissions. 

The biggest problem is poetry that is NOT about the theme. (The same thing happens with stories, but not nearly so often.) I do not expect slavish devotion to a theme, but I promise you, if you submit a work that does not have a sense of the theme, you've wasted your time.

And here's a general reminder for all: I often get passive-aggressive little comments with submissions about following all of my rules. (Yeah, that'll help your chances.) This is my party, and understand, that even with the poetry problem, there are always more than enough submissions for every issue from talented, polite, creative people. Sooner or later, every one of these people will end up published in EC. Probably multiple times. Because they are, creative, talented, meticulous, and well mannered. This world is filled with amazing people.

Back to poetry. If you are a poet, 2017 is your year. You have to follow the rules, just like everyone else (no multiple poems submitted, please), but I'm looking for poems that bring old fairy tales into new ideas. Poetry inspired by classic fairy tales can go into delightfully unexpected places. Don't fool around with weird spacing or indents or characters. But do explore old and new methods of bringing fairy tales alive through poetry.

Poets, show me what you've got. 

Here are some "Steadfast Tin Soldier" images to inspire you. (Remember, that's the current theme.) The top image is by Marcia Brown. The first image below is by Elizabeth MacKinstry. Next is by Kay Nielsen. Last is by HJ Ford.

 

 

 
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January 7, 2017

Maginel Wright (Enright) Barney, Artist

 
It's time again to feature a classic fairy tale/fairy artist. Today it's Maginel Wright (Enright) Barney. 

Maginel was born in 1881, and christened as Maggie Nell, but her name was contracted Maginel. She was the younger sister of nine other than Frank Lloyd Wright. Married twice, you can find her work under Maginel Wright Engel or Maginel Wright Barney. She was also the mother to Newberry Award winner and writer and illustrator Elizabeth Wright Enright. 

But enough about the rest of her family. Maginel was a highly successful and well regarded children's illustrator in her own time. She illustrated books by L. Frank Baum, not Oz books, though. But Baum wrote the delightfully titled Policeman Bluejay, which Maginel did illustrate. 

She also illustrated Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, as well as Heidi. She illustrated countless times for magazines and during her entire career, illustrated 63 books. She died in 1966.

Her use of color is exquisite, and the lines of her figures and scenery are clearly delineated without being harsh. She seems to have had a strong understanding of what kids wanted to see in their books. No wonder her illustrations are popular on Pinterest.

Below are Mermaid's Gift, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, "The Fairy Artist," and Farm and Fireside. The illustration at top is from Myself and I

 

 

 

 
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January 4, 2017

The OA, Haiti and NDE's

Have you watched the sometimes trippy, sometimes baffling, but intriguing Netflix show  The OA?

 


I did. My husband gave it one episode and gave it a pass. I completely unfairly accused him of not liking entertainment with a woman protagonist. So I watched the rest of the episodes myself. It was decidedly strange, often silly (those dance moves), but occasionally unsettling in a good way. 

Warning: Spoilers below.

The fact that the protagonist was a delicate looking blonde woman was a bit eye roll inducing. I'm not against blonds. My son-in-law is blond. I have a lot of (fake) blond in my hair. But if you know of any brunette, delicate, ethereal angelic types in popular media, please tell me.

Also, while there are some essential nonwhite cast members (which is great!) there are NO African-American people on the show until we see a black high school kid speak at almost the very last minute of the the whole series. This I found irritating. The story took place in the US. There are over 70 million people who are at least partly African American here in this country. Apparently I was not the only person who noticed. There's an excellent essay on the whole unbearable whiteness of being in The OA on io9. But the essay, by Evan Narcisse is about far more than The OA. It also explores a spiritual experience he witnessed many years ago. Just read it. Here it is:

Narcisse's story takes place in Haiti, although he is a New Yorker. In it, he mentions a book he devoured in college: When Night Falls: Kric Krac--Haitian Folktales. It seems like it is expensive and hard to find,  but Narcisse is a good writer, so if he liked it, it's worth looking for. Here are the Amazon details: http://tinyurl.com/z3kykzn

Back to The OA. What really grabbed me about the show was that Near Death Experiences, or NDE's, are a very important element in the story. So I started reading about them. The scientific evidence is sketchy, but the fact is, since resuscitation and other forms of bringing people "back from the (near) dead" are very common nowadays, they have also been around since well before the advent of modern medicine.

I'll admit it: I'm now fascinated by NDE's. I'll be 55 in a few weeks. You start wondering about this kind of thing at my age.

So I wondered, are there Near Death Experiences in fairy tales? I can think of at least one: Snow White essentially dies three times and is revived. I wonder what she saw when she was dead. Apple trees? Angels? White light? Her deadbeat, out-of-the picture father?

And what about "The Juniper Tree"? If you don't know it, I won't spoil it, but you can find it HERE: http://tinyurl.com/d9pnfvb

Can you think of any others? Have you seen The OA? Do you know anyone who has had an NDE? Are they worth discussing? What did you think of Narcisse's story?

I want to read what you think! 

Image is of Brit Marling who co-created The OA and stars in it, as Prairie.
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December 31, 2016

New Year's Issue Table of Contents


The end of 2016 is now upon us, and I, for one, am very grateful. Let's hope 2017 is better. This issue of EC has six wonderful works to help us ring in the new. Classic fairy tales are thoroughly and charmingly explored, and some new enchanting ideas are featured as well.  I hope you'll find the variety as entertaining and intriguing as I have. There's magic in this issue.

Happy New Year!

Dance Me to the End, Alicia Cole

The Three Princesses, Penny Jo McAllister

Diamrem's New Year Dilemma, Christine Tapper

The Turn of the Year, Gerri Leen

Bite, Shannon Whalen

New Leaf, Subhra Bhattacharya





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