May 25, 2016

Adrienne Segur: Quietly Popular Fairy Tale Illustrator

Perhaps you've seen her fairy tale illustrations and do not realize the artist behind them. Think of big-eyed little heroines and gorgeously rendered cats. Think of adorable elves and rich colors that seldom fall into the wrong side of pastel, but never over power. Think of illustrations that are surprisingly densely filled with detail.

Think of Adrienne Segur (1901 to 1981), a French illustrator about whom very little seems to have been written, but whose work is popular all over the internet. And, depending on your age, maybe between 40-60, you may very well know Adrienne Segur's illustrations from The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, the cover of which is the first illustration here. It may be one of my favorite book covers of all time.

Segur's work, I think, lends itself best to young children's books, and I think her art would be perfect for a little girl's bedroom. You can find a huge range of her work at Art Passions--a site replete with fairy tale and Pre-Raphaelite images. You can also link to some gorgeous prints to buy there. In any case, if you love art, you should visit Art Passions, and if you want to be swept back to childhood, check Segur's work.

In order, the images are The Golden Book of Fairy Tales cover, "Baba Yaga's Cat," "The Ugly Duckling," "Sleeping Beauty," and "Puss in Boots."

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May 24, 2016

Window for Midsummer Submissions Closing Soon

The submission window closes at 11:59 p.m., EST, May 30.

For no particular reason:

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May 18, 2016

Ida Outhwaite, Classic Fairy Illustrator

Ida Outhwaite, an Australian whose work flourished during the Golden Age of Illustration, is well remembered for her work with fae and children. Her images managed to capture the sense of childhood and fae without being too sweet. And her color palette was rich and pleasing to the eye. I'm surprised she isn't more well known, even though much of her work is nearly 100 years old.

You can read more about here here:

And here:

Her work is also plentiful on Pinterest. 

Some images:

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May 12, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Fitting In, By Katrina Robinson

Editor's note: "Cinderella" from the shoe's point of view--I did not see that coming. But this poem works. Truly imaginative. Update, May 12, 2016: Here's a Throwback Thursday delight. It's worth reposting for the reasons listed in my first note. It was first published April 2, 2014.

I was meant to be a gift
a precious keepsake
that wouldn’t regress
into forest vermin or a rotting gourd.

Yet, you’re too afraid to reach for me,
unwilling to claim me.
You begged for transformation,
now you’re too fearful to see it through.

How do you think this feels,
the looks that bore through me,
the fingers that stain?
They smother me in grubby heat
when they force themselves in me.
It always hurts.
They never fit.
But I won’t crack,
I won’t break.

After each failed fitting
he looks at me with frustration.
His fingers tighten on me
until I can feel his fractured pulse.

I’m nothing to him,
just a conduit to you.
We’ve both been abandoned and refused,
stuck at a standstill
since the moment you ran away.

I endure each stifling touch,
each crass inspection,
while you cower in the corner.

I won’t beg you to claim me.
You don’t even know
of the courage needed for the next step –
the servants who will whisper behind your back,
the gentry that will sneer.

Once I’m yours again,
you can’t crack,
you can’t break.
You must withstand it all.

But if you can’t,
then just stay in that corner
with your tattered head rag
and soiled sundress.
I’ve been through worse
than your rejection.

Katrina Robinson is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore. Her publishing credits include V Magazine for Women, the W.W. Norton Hint Fiction Anthology and two issues of Enchanted Conversation (the "Beauty and the Beast" issue and the "Snow White" issue).

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May 9, 2016

Krampusnacht Two: Important Tips

The window for Krampusnacht Two opens May 15. You can find the guidelines here:

It's amazing how many stories I receive that show little to no evidence that the writer ever read the guidelines or took them seriously. Your story will not be chosen if you fail to read the guidelines carefully. Your story may not be chosen anyway (for the first Krampus book, less than five percent of the stories submitted made it onto the book), but stories written by people who didn't read the guidelines are glaringly obvious.

It's also really important for you to read the first Krampusnacht book. Here is a link to the ebook (and you can easily find the paperback from there as well): 

If Amazon isn't your thing, go to World Weaver Press for other buying info:

Despite the importance of reading the first Krampus book thoroughly, please don't make the mistake of thinking I want retreads of stories from the first book. But reading it will give you an idea of the kind of stories I tend to choose.

The following are some types of stories of like to see, but these are just a few suggestions (I hope to see other types of stories as well.):

* A full-on, detailed origin story for Krampus using old folklore of the Alpine region, where he tends to be most popular.
* Krampus as Homer Simpson like family man.
* Stories exploring the workaday schedules of Krampus and Saint Nicholas.
* Stories about super evil kids vs. Krampus. 
* Old ladies and Krampus.
* Krampusnacht celebrants meet Krampus and are too drunk to think he's real. He can't convince them.
* A fairy tale mashup with Krampusnacht.
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May 3, 2016

The Rain Issue 2016 Table of Contents

Magic, fairy tales, nature, mystery, suffering, love and joy are all present in the six works featured in the 2016 rain issue of Enchanted Conversation. Mother Nature in all her power, glory and cruelty wends her way through these works.

The moon also makes an important appearance, as do strong references to "Snow White" and "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." And eggs? We got 'em. Mother love is explored, as is the confusion parents feel when kids don't turn out how we expected. Through it all, there is the steady thrum and patter of rain--sometimes helping, sometimes ruining, but never truly controllable. No fairy tale witch can ever match the sheer power of weeping clouds.

When I came up with the idea of a rain issue for EC, I wasn't sure it would work, but as I noted in an earlier post, the problem wasn't with too few writers and poets sending in excellent submissions for this issue. There were too many! I hope you'll love my choices. I do. Here is a table of contents:

"Waking Up Snow White," By Kim Malinowski

"Raindrop," Amanda Bergloff

"In The Rain House," Shannon Connor Winward

"River Child," Chanel Earl

"The Egg Memorial," Caroline Yu

"Secret Passage of the Eldest Princess," Star O'Star

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Waking Up Snow White, By Kim Malinowski

I smooth the wet fabric around her collar,
trace and tuck her gown.
We are both wet from rain, and I can see that she has awoken,
tears trickling down.
I taste the brine as our lips
Nothing happens, she doesn’t pretend to wake up.
I know what dead lips look like—shriveled and pale—like so many lovers.
Too many apples to count. I’ve waited and practiced
and now her lips are soft and full.
I hold her hand, trace a line and whisper—“I know you are awake.”
She takes her hand back.
“I was never asleep, just waiting.”
“Well, I’m the Prince.  I’m supposed to rescue you.”
Rain trickles down my back.  There should be fireworks or something.
Not wet.
“Maybe I’ll love you,” she smiles.
“Maybe I’d like to be dry.”
I brush her cheek with my hand, savoring the softness.
I pick her up, and we go inside.

Kim Malinowski earned her BA at West Virginia University and her M.F.A. at American University.  She currently a student of The Writers Studio.   Her chapbook is forthcoming from Kind of a Hurricane Press.  Her work has appeared in War, Literature, and the Arts, Mythic Delirium, as well as others.

Altered image by Heinrich Lefler
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Raindrop, By Amanda Bergloff

Once long ago, a Queen sat embroidering by her palace window. It had been a long winter with many frozen tales to tell, however the first signs of Spring began to show in the palace gardens below.

The Queen worked steadily on her embroidery, but looked up when a little bluebird landed on the windowsill and sang a beautiful song which brought a smile to the Queen’s face. The little bird was delighted that it pleased the Queen with its song, so it stayed on the sill throughout the afternoon. While the Queen enjoyed her new companion’s song, she noticed that the first daffodils had bloomed outside the window in the garden under the beautiful blue sky overhead. As the afternoon wore on, clouds gathered, and a gentle Spring rain fell to coax the rest of the flowers in the garden to follow the bloom of the daffodils.

The Queen sighed and spoke to her friend. “Oh, little bluebird, how I wish I had a daughter with a voice as sweet as your own, eyes the blue of an endless sky, hair the yellow of a daffodil, and the sweet nature of a gentle Spring rainshower.,”

The bluebird listened to the Queen, for it was enchanted and had the power to grant wishes. Although the bluebird could not completely understand the Queen’s language, it understood in general what she asked for and said to her, “I will grant your wish, oh kind and gentle Queen.” The Queen did not hear the bluebird’s words since the Queen did not understand the language of birds, and it only sounded to her like the bluebird’s song.

And indeed, the Queen’s wish was granted for the next Spring, a daughter was born to her. The King and court rejoiced, and the little princess was presented to the King in her cradle. Only her eyes and hair were visible above the blankets.

The King smiled broadly.“Her eyes are the blue of an endless sky, and her hair is the color of a yellow daffodil.” But when the King pulled the blankets down so he could see his little princess better, he was shocked. The little princess’s baby skin was a light green color.

“Why...with her yellow hair and green skin, she looks just like a daffodil, itself!” He exclaimed to the Queen. The King’s voice startled the little princess, and she began to cry in her cradle by the open window. A small cloud formed outside and a gentle rain fell.

The King and Queen saw the rain and looked at their little princess. They wondered how this could be, until the enchanted bluebird landed on the windowsill. It sang its song to the princess, to which the princess opened her tiny mouth, and the same bluebird’s song came out of it.

The Queen immediately recognized it. “By all enchantment, my King, this bluebird answered a wish I had last Spring only too well.” she said in amazement.

The King and Queen looked at one another, confused as to what to do about their strange and unusual baby. But when a raindrop splashed on to the little princess’s face from the open window, the Queen picked her up and lovingly wiped the raindrop away.  

The Queen smiled and said to the King, “We will call her Raindrop, for she is as sweet and precious to me as the sweet rain that brings forth the flowers in Spring.”

The King nodded and from that day forward, Princess Raindrop was the light of their lives.

The nursemaids and ladies in waiting that attended Raindrop were all sworn to secrecy as to the strange appearance of the little princess, and the Queen decided that Raindrop would be covered completely and wear a veil under the pretext of modesty when she was amongst others. The King and Queen wanted to spare their little princess from the unkind natures of people who would not understand or look past Raindrop’s unusual outer appearance to see her true sweet and gentle nature.

Years passed quickly, and no one in the vast kingdom knew what the mysterious princess really looked like. They went about their lives and did not question it.

Raindrop always wore her veil and performed her royal duties throughout the kingdom, but was happiest when she was alone in her own private garden that was bordered by high hedges. In her garden, she did not have to worry about prying eyes when she shed her veil. She understood the language of birds and spoke to them there, and she learned to call forth a gentle rain whenever she wanted. All the birdbaths throughout the kingdom were constantly filled with sweet, clear rainwater for the birds, and the kingdom never suffered from drought, for Raindrop was able to send rain where it was needed. She read books and learned many things in the time spent in her special garden, and she grew into a most interesting princess with rare talents that no one ever saw.

It was finally time for the princess to be married, but the King and Queen worried that no prince would accept Raindrop’s light green-skinned appearance, let alone her ability to understand and speak to birds or her ability to bring forth gentle rain and cherish her like they did.

But Raindrop said, “Do not despair, my dear parents, for I have devised a series of riddles for a prince to answer. If they can solve a puzzle of words using their wits to see beyond that which most cannot comprehend, then I will know he will be able to understand and accept me for who I am.”

The King and Queen agreed to allow Raindrop to determine her future husband in this manner, for they desired that Raindrop be happy and loved by a prince that was truly worthy of her uniqueness. Secretly though, Raindrop hoped she would never have her riddles answered because she had grown quite used to her life the way it was.

And with that, the King and Queen let it be known throughout the land that they would be holding court on one special day. All eligible princes could come then and seek the hand of the princess by answering her riddles. The prince who could answer them all would win her hand in marriage.

Many princes came from far and wide with their entourage for the chance to answer Princess Raindrop’s riddles. Each prince was called into the main courtyard, one at a time, so that the mysterious, veiled princess could ask them the same four riddles.

Many princes did not understand why they had to answer riddles. They thought their handsome looks would make the princess choose them without having to answer even one. These princes were turned away immediately, while other princes attempted to answer, but failed.

Raindrop was quite pleased with herself that no one could answer her riddles and most gave up before trying. She thought that no prince could understand her if they could not even match wits with her.

Finally, there was only one prince left. He entered the courtyard in a grand fashion, dressed in the strange custom of his land. He was covered from head to toe in robes of white with a large hat that hid his face. His mother, the Queen of his land, had accompanied him on his journey and was offered a seat next to Raindrop’s mother, out of respect.

The prince bowed low to the princess and said, “I have travelled far from my kingdom to answer the riddles of the mysterious Princess Raindrop, and seeing that I am the last one, I know that no one else has answered correctly. I would like to try to win your hand in marriage, so please, ask me your first riddle.”

Raindrop nodded her veiled head. “Here is my first riddle, oh prince. How can you see into forever with no beginning or end?” she asked.

The prince took some time thinking about the riddle. He stood still, lost in thought, then suddenly looked up and answered, “By looking up into the cloudless blue sky. It has always been there and will last forever. It has no beginning or end.”

Raindrop was surprised. He was the first prince to answer her first riddle.

“Yes, you have answered correctly,” she said. “And now, I will ask you my second riddle, oh prince. How can the sun be in two places at once?”

This riddle took longer than the first for the prince to think about. He sat down and stood up several times, then realized the answer was along the edge of the courtyard all along. He laughed and answered, “A daffodil, with its bright yellow flower, brings the yellow of the sun to the ground. It is both in the sky and at your feet, so it can be two places at once.”

Raindrop was shocked that the prince’s second answer was also correct. She thought that surely he would never be able to answer the remaining riddles.

“Here is my third riddle, oh prince. How can music be heard, but not played on any instrument?” she asked, her worry rising because the prince was half way to claiming her as his bride.

This riddle took even longer than the previous two riddles for the prince to think about. He paced back and forth in deep thought. He turned his head this way and that, trying to bring forth the right answer. Finally, he shook his head in defeat, until a sound caught his attention. He laughed once again and answered, “The song of a bird is music that is all around us and is not played on any instrument.”

Raindrop stepped back at his correct answer and spied the bluebird the prince had seen on a branch near her in the courtyard. She thought to herself that it was only by chance that he guessed correctly, and it would not happen with the last riddle.

“You have done well. There is only one riddle left to answer,” said Raindrop, the sound of fear rising in her voice.

“Princess...if I answer the last riddle correctly, will you remove your veil, so that I may see your face?” the prince politely asked.

Raindrop knew that he would never answer the final riddle, so she nodded in agreement and continued. “My final riddle for you, oh prince, is my most difficult one: What is a tear most pure?”

The prince stood as still as a statue, thinking on this final riddle. He knew this was the most important riddle of them all, for he would claim the Princess Raindrop if he got it correct. He stood there until Raindrop thought he had fallen asleep standing, when he suddenly laughed more heartily than before.

“That is the easiest question you have asked, princess, for the answer to your riddle is hidden in plain sight. I will not only answer in words, but I will also show you.” And with that, he moved his hands and made a small cloud appear between him and the princess. A gentle rain fell between them in the courtyard.

“A tear most pure is a single raindrop, for it is clear and sweet without the salt that is present in a princess’s tear. The answer to your final riddle, was your own name. It was hidden in plain sight, and that is the best kind of riddle.”

Raindrop started to tremble. She knew what this meant and she must keep her promise. She lifted her veil, revealing her eyes the blue of an endless sky, hair the yellow of daffodils and her light green skin.

“Do not fear, my princess,” the prince said tenderly. He reached up to remove his hat, which had hidden his face, to reveal his own red hair that stood straight up, and most wondrous of all, his light green skin. He called to the princess in the song of a bluebird and Raindrop, who understood the language of birds, answered his call of love in the same manner. They both rushed together to embrace in the gentle rain the prince had created in the courtyard, never to be parted from that day forward.

The prince’s mother, who was seated next to Raindrop’s mother, leaned over and whispered to her, “My favorite flower was a red tulip in Spring.”

The two Queens nodded and smiled to one another.

And the bluebird, who had saved its most beautiful song of love for a moment such as this, sang on.

Amanda's bio: "I am a science fiction/fantasy writer with stories published by Darkhouse Books (Stories from the World of Tomorrow) and World Weaver Press (Frozen Fairy Tales.) I love all things pop-culture--paint and write daily--read obsessively--and the interior of my mind looks like vintage fairy-tale-art."
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