September 16, 2017

Writers on Writing Double Author Interview

The Emperor's New Clothes Issue is out and this week, 
Writers on Writing is featuring the first two authors in the issue: 
Kiyomi Appleton Gaines and 
Deborah L.E. Beauchamp

First up, we have
Kiyomi Appleton Gaines
"The experiment in vulnerability was not considered a success. He wanted to convey that these rumors were not true, were unfounded, yet only prevailed in terrorizing his entire kingdom. He was only a man like any other, he wanted to say. But no, his wise sister insisted, he was not like any other man. He was a ruler, and thus, he must rule."

Kiyomi's story, Re-Covered, explores a different side to the classic Emperor's New Clothes fairy tale that is worth the read. In this interview, she gives some insight into her creative process.

1.  What is the first fairy tale that left a big impression on you? 
Kaguya-hime changed how I thought about stories. There were other fairy tales I loved as a kid, many introduced to me through the Disney versions, and when I was a child, I had the impression that Disney was definitive, and that those stories were locked up and final, as drawn. But Disney never had Kaguya-hime, and I remember my mom telling me, “this is one version, but it’s a very old story,” and it just opened up this whole world of possibility for me that there could be many tellings, and that no one owned these old stories – so they could be mine too. Beyond that, the themes in the story of belonging and outsider status, duty and destiny, family and home, rang true for me then in a package I could wrap my mind around as a young child, and that I continue to unpack and find relevant today.
The beautiful Kaguya-hime
2.  What do you think makes a good story? 
A good story gives you the feeling of magic, of possibility beyond what's in front of you, and has unexpected twists that make you think, "ah, of course, it couldn't be any other way," but at the same time not what you would have guessed or predicted. For me a good story, even a tragic one, is about surprise and joy, a joy of discovery and of hope for what comes next, beyond "the end." Stories, at their best, should get inside you because you’re able to recognize yourself there, and change you, because they are connected to bigger themes and different perspectives.

3.  How do you promote yourself as a writer, and what advice would you give new writers on this subject
I’ve only recently started sharing my writing publically, so I’m learning, reading all the things other people recommend and deciding what makes sense for me along the way. I finally gave myself the title, “Writer,” so I think that helps!  I recently launched a blog, which has been fun and is keeping me writing in a different way, and I share a lot on Twitter that I find interesting, or related to themes I like to explore in my writing. I’m finding my community, and that’s what I would tell anyone else, too: Write stories you love, and share them in places where there are a lot of other stories you also love.

a story by Kiyomi that appeared in
The Steadfast Tin Soldier Issue of EC.

Kiyomi loves folklore and fairy tales for what they teach us about what it means to be human. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and pet fish.
and follow her on
TWITTER @ThatKiyomi

Next up:
Deborah L.E. Beauchamp
"She had everything that they sought-after,
so they copied every move, even her laughter."

Deborah's poem, An Illusion, is a timely metaphor for our modern pop-culture and is an example of how classic fairy tale themes still resonate today. Check out her Q&A:  

1.  What is your favorite fairy tale film and why? 
I have very happy memories of watching Cinderella when I was a young girl. It was magical; I dreamt about being her, dressed in a beautiful ball gown and finding my own Prince Charmng. Oh, and who wouldn't want a fairy godmother?

2.  When did you start writing and what was the first thing you sent out?
I started writing when I was in my teens. The first thing I sent out was a poem. If I remember correctly, the title was, "Lonely." It was about feeling all alone and yet somehow liking it. It was not accepted, but I kept writing and sent out more poetry until I was published.

3.  What's a lesson you've learned as an author that you'd pass along to a new writer? 
Don't be afraid to put your writing out there. Be proud of what you do.

Deborah is well past the age of a ‘new’ writer but her experience plays an integral role in her work, shaping her thoughts that she paints on the paper. Deborah writes poetry, children’s books and is a photographer.

Interviews by: Amanda Bergloff

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September 13, 2017

Baba Yaga Submissions Call

At last! Here are the details for the Baba Yaga 

Baba Yaga Anthology (actual title TBD)
Anthologist: Kate Wolford
Open for Submissions: January 1 to March 1, 2018
Expected Publication: late 2018
Story Length: 7,500 to 20,000 words
Payment: $50 per story
Baba Yaga, the terrifying witch of the forest in Slavic folklore, lends herself to all kinds of interpretations. Notorious for traveling in a mortar while wielding a pestle, Baba Yaga sometimes wreaks havoc on humans, but can turn around and help when she feels like it. And she is an early Tiny House owner--hers moves on chicken feet.
Baba Yaga may be recognizable from classic images by Ivan Billibin, but, in the US and some other countries, her qualities are not as widely known as they are in Slavic countries. A link to learn more is HERE.
Kate is looking for stories from Baba Yaga’s point of view, or the point of view from those she helps or hurts, or from anyone who might be a protagonist worthy of the Baba Yaga story. You can set the story in the past or present. The story can take place anywhere in the world. It can include romance or action or tragedy or comedy.
Kate wants well-developed stories that don’t disintegrate at the end because they’re rushed or major plot lines are unfinished. Develop characters. Draw readers in with specific details. Make them root for the protagonist.
The audience is age 15 and up. Please, no sci-fi, dystopian, erotica, high fantasy, time-travel, futuristic, space travel, or western submissions. No love triangles, please.
Kate will not provide feedback at any point during the submissions period.
Submission Method: Send your story pasted into the body of the email. Attachments will not be opened. Please email with Submission: [story title] in the subject line. Please include a brief cover letter, but DO NOT summarize your story in the cover letter. Send submissions to Enchantedconversation[at]gmail[dot]com.
No multiple submissions. Just one per author. But simultaneous submissions are fine.
read more " Baba Yaga Submissions Call "

September 10, 2017

Arthur Rackham Picture Mystery

Okay, maybe it isn't a huge mystery, but I love this Arthur Rackham image and can't tell which work it is from. Any ideas? 
read more " Arthur Rackham Picture Mystery "

September 5, 2017

October 2017 Submission Window Open

The window for submissions is open for the "Godfather Death" October Issue, from now until September 30 at 12:59 p.m., EST. 

For details on submitting, check out guidelines HERE:

Image by Heinrich Leffler.

read more " October 2017 Submission Window Open "

August 30, 2017

The Emperor's New Clothes Issue - Table of Contents

Enchanted Conversation is excited to present The Emperor's New Clothes Issue this month! This issue offers stories and poems by authors who took this classic fairy tale in new directions with their unique ideas. 

What happened to the Emperor after he took his infamous walk through the town? How does a cunning Empress inform her subjects on the "real" fate of the Emperor? Is a son bound to follow in his father's rusty footsteps even though he knows it would be wrong?...and just why is nude the new four other tales and poems for our EC readers. Enjoy!

Kiyomi Appleton Gaines

Deborah L.E. Beauchamp

Erin Wyble Newcomb

Rebecca Buchanan

Gerri Leen

Sarah Deeming

Amelia Gorman

Nancy Brewka-Clark

Note: All of the accompanying art in this issue was created by Amanda Bergloff, contributing editor and art director here at EC.

read more " The Emperor's New Clothes Issue - Table of Contents "

Re-Covered, by Kiyomi Appleton Gaines

The king had stood naked and vulnerable before his people. The only person who acknowledged the exposure was a small child, and he was quickly hushed. There were rumors that to directly look upon a member of the noble family would render one a fool, or blind, or unfit for service; it would cause one's deepest shame to be revealed, would cost one's inheritance, or render one sterile and heirless. He exposed himself to them all.

The experiment in vulnerability was not considered a success. He wanted to convey that these rumors were not true, were unfounded, yet only prevailed in terrorizing his entire kingdom. He was only a man like any other, he wanted to say. But no, his wise sister insisted, he was not like any other man. He was a ruler, and thus, he must rule. The people did not want to serve and follow a man like themselves; in fact it would be dangerous folly to do so. Common men were built for common matters, equipped for planting and harvesting, for managing crops and animals, or buying and selling and crafting goods. A king had to be above all of that, in order to oversee all of that.

"He is only a man," the child cried out in the middle of the procession, and the king had smiled at that, expecting the people to slowly acknowledge and accept this. He was a man. A man of privilege, who bore great responsibility. A man who would do everything that a man could do for them, and would uphold his duty. But a man, not a god, not one who could heal and guarantee peace and good crop yields and fertility and prosperity. He didn't control all that.

"You must learn to," his sister advised him. "If you can't, they will kill you."

That was what he was trying to avoid. Revolution had come to the next kingdom, and the entire noble house had lost their heads. Their economy had faltered, followed by a drought, and it required kingsblood to remedy. They didn't say so - the executions were secular matters of state nowadays - yet the formula held. The old ways demanded that the gods be given kingsblood when things got bad, and in return, things would get good again. After the executions, the rains had returned to the neighboring kingdom. It was hard to argue with results like that.

So the king devised a plan. He would show himself to be a mortal, frail and limited and human, just like they were. His sister advised against it. But he was king, and surely that meant something, so he did what he had decided.  

The reports trickled in over the following days. Reports of people struck blind and falling into madness. Reports of secrets revealed and the peoples' justice being meted out for social infractions, mobs descending on homes and shops.

What had he unleashed?

He sent his soldiers out to quell the riots. Even their numbers seemed diminished over the past few days, he noticed.

He called for his sister. "It can't be undone," she said.

"How do I move forward?" he asked.

She told him, "I have a robe crafted by the three spinners of old, made of golden thread, and stitched by our wisest seamstresses. It will let you pass unseen. We can go into exile and return after this has all settled down."

"Leaving won't help our people."

"Let the people help themselves. They aren't yours anymore. They don't want you except as an offering to their own fears."

There was a shift in the demeanor of his household guard as the days went by. They still watched over him, followed him as he moved from place to place, stood guard at doors and windows. Now, rather than a protective presence, he began to feel they were keeping him in.

In the council room, as he passed by, he heard the accent of the neighboring kingdom. "The time to act is now," the voice said. "The wealth of this land has been bled away, and it becomes more wasted with every day that passes. It is time for the common man to take his place before god and destiny, to be the true master of his own -"

One of his guards stepped in front of him, blocking the council chamber, and pulled the door closed. "My lord, we should continue on." The king was ushered into his audience chamber, as he was each morning. No one had come to seek audience with him since the procession.

He called for his sister again. A servant was dispatched, but she never came. He waited, he felt he was patient, and then he stopped a maid in the hall. She ducked her head, but he saw her stealing glances at his face. Her cheeks were flushed. Did she still think she shouldn't look on him? "Where is my sister?"

"My lord, she can't be found," the young woman answered. She looked over his shoulder at the guard, and then hurried along her way.

His sister must have made good on her escape, he thought. He should have gone with her when he had the chance. He needed to get some air, to sort out what all of this meant. He knew exactly what it meant, of course, but he couldn't bring himself to accept it, to even acknowledge it. At the doorway, the man guarding the door looked to the man guarding the king. They shared a wordless exchange, nodded, and then the guard at the door stepped aside, and the king stepped out into his walled garden. His sister had always loved this space, and he felt calmer here, as though he might gain the benefit of her advice simply from being in the place she had passed so many hours.

What to do? What to do? He paced and kicked a pebble along before him as he went. He had made a gamble, he had trusted in his people, and he had lost. He stretched, looked up, and over the wall he saw the upright planks of a scaffold being built. His stomach turned.  "What's being built over there?" he asked his guard.

The guard looked for a long moment, then shrugged. "We should go back inside."

The king was not allowed to return to the garden.

Walking up and down the halls of the palace made him feel caged, and so he began to take meals in his rooms. He watched out the window as the scaffold went up and when it was completed, his fears were confirmed.

The morning came when the house seemed alive with a strange new kind of energy. People walked with quickened steps. His breakfast was pushed in with a hurried lack of ceremony, and his dresser never followed. He heard the crowd gathering outside, beyond the garden walls. He could see the tops of the peoples heads and saw his ministers seated on chairs along the platform. There were also strangers there, in places of honor. One of the ministers was speaking, but he couldn't hear the words. And then a woman was led up onto the platform. The minister's voice raised. The people cheered. His sister's face was pale as the executioner lowered the noose around her neck. He saw her speak, heard her voice, but he couldn't make out the words. Then a black cloth was lowered over her face, and the trapdoor opened, and she fell. The people cheered. Though every other sound came to him muffled and distorted, he clearly heard the crack when the rope reached its limit.

A day and a night passed. No one came. He barely noticed. He couldn't tell if the pain in his gut was hunger or loss or fear. Finally someone came and cleared away the remains of his breakfast from that terrible morning. His guard came soon after that, stood just inside the door, silent.

"My sister?" the king asked.

"Gone," the guard said. He already knew the answer, he wanted to hear it though, to gauge some reaction in these people who had until so recently been his people.

"What did she say?" he asked.

"My lord..." The guard hesitated. "I don't remember..."

"Please. What did she say?"

At last the guard spoke, quietly, slowly. "I die guilty only of the name I was born to. May these gods my life is given to appease bring justice on this land. And..."  He hesitated. "And, long live the king."

The king bowed his head.

"She asked that you be given this." The guard set a bundle on the edge of the dressing table.  

"How long do I have?" the king asked.

"Tomorrow. Mid-morning," the guard answered, and stepped out of the room.

The king opened the bundle and unwrapped a finely woven cloak.

Kiyomi Appleton Gaines loves folklore and fairy tales for what they teach us about what it means to be human. This is her second story in Enchanted Conversation. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and pet fish.

read more " Re-Covered, by Kiyomi Appleton Gaines "

An Illusion, by Deborah L.E. Beauchamp

She was a stunningly beautiful girl
dripping in gold and pearls
and clothing from the finest collections;
her name on everything, like an infection.

When she spoke, they gathered around,
listening to every word, to every sound,
What she says must be true,
what she wants we must do.

She had everything that they sought-after,
so they copied every move, even her laughter.

How she talked,
how she walked,
how she dressed,
how she obsessed
but they weren't any happier
perhaps less.

Nothing had changed
it was all just a game.

So be happy about who 'you' are,
it may be tragic
but that's the only magic.

Deborah L.E. Beauchamp is well past the age of a ‘new’ writer but her experience plays an integral role in her work, shaping her thoughts that she paints on the paper. Deborah writes poetry, children’s books and is a photographer.

Art by: Amanda Bergloff

read more " An Illusion, by Deborah L.E. Beauchamp "

Nude is the New Black, by Erin Wyble Newcomb

The Emperor is always in fashion
Because he tells us what’s new, what’s now.
This season, skin is in.
We’re naked as the day we were born, but
That’s not a simile.
It’s a statement
About where we stand between the lines
The spring and fall collections.

The Emperor is always fashioning
A new collection of lines. What’s new now?
This season’s skin is so last season,
So next season we’ll all be stripped bare, which
Is just another metaphor,
A statement regarding transparency
And reading between the lines.
Each collection embodies a new line.

Spring and fall, the Emperor is fashion,
Because he tells us so. The new and the now
Make way for next season.
We’ve got skin in this game.
That’s just a colloquialism,
A statement piece to remind us of the dangers
Springing and falling
For another collection of lines.

The Emperor fashions himself an emperor.
He’s what’s new and now and next
Because seasons are cyclical.
We always circle back to naked, which
Sounds dirty,
Except for the existential dread about the
Line between vintage and avant-garde,
Past and future, life and death.

The Emperor’s fashion is cutting edge.
It’s not new to be cloaked in power, but it’s now.
Fashion is frivolous, but—no—
Clothes make the man.
That’s an expression,
A lesson about men with cutting edges
Slicing up the lines
That clothe our fallen bodies.

The Emperor didn’t spring up out of nowhere.
He’s now. He’s next. He’s not new.
He’s a made man in a parade of sycophants.
He makes fashion, but we made the man.
That’s a warning,
Echoing through the ages about
What lines we’ll cross
Between truth and lies.

The Emperor fashions the lines because
He tells us and we listen and we want to believe
Nude is the new black.
Whose nude? And who’s nude? There is no neutral.
The naked truth is not the truth.
It’s a collection of questions.
When we will spring up? How will we fall down?
Where will we draw the line?

Erin Wyble Newcomb reads, writes, and teaches in the Hudson Valley, and she records her adventures in homeschooling at; you can follow her on Twitter @ErinWyble. She is pleased for her work to appear again in Enchanted Conversation.

read more " Nude is the New Black, by Erin Wyble Newcomb "

"But he is naked," the child chanted, by Rebecca Buchanan

Glamour shredded,
he stood exposed,
pale in his vanity,
feet bare and bloodied on the stones.

Sated, satisfied, 
the tailors slipped into fae,
to the sharp smile of their queen,
needle bright
as she sewed her tattered heart 
whole again.

Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. When she is not writing, she likes to sit on her front porch and listen to the mad rantings of ravens.

Art by: Amanda Bergloff

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