Thursday, April 3, 2014

Care and Feeding, By Ed Ahern

Editor's note: Charm is hard to define, but I know it when i see it. This story has plenty of charm, and while it is quite modern in style, has the pace and details of a classic fairy tale: A magical creature, an underdog to root for, and, of course, riches.

erry ran crying into the reeds behind his house. He hopped from tussock to tussock, staying dry until he reached his secret place. The patch of ground was circled by tall reeds, making him invisible. Deer bedded there at night, but during the day the little island was Terry’s alone.
No one else would want to come. Terry peeked eastward through the reeds at a brackish pond, and across the pond, at the town land fill. The town’s garbage and broken toys and worn out clothes and grass clippings had been dumped there for over 50 years. The slope facing Terry was ash-tinged dirt decorated with patches of weeds and scrub brush.
He dropped down onto a bed of broken reeds warmed by the sun. The dried reeds crackled and puffed out smells of plant dust. Terry stared at the land fill without really seeing it. He'd stopped crying, but was pretty sure he'd cry again tomorrow.
Bruce had hit him three times, then pushed Terry down. Before that, Bruce had sat behind Terry on the bus ride home, whispering to Terry what would happen to him once the bus let them off and before Terry could run home. And he'd done it.
The sinking sunlight behind him robbed the land fill of colors except for red. And as Terry stared without focusing, wallowing in his thoughts, something moved out onto the slope across the water. He squinted. It was a person, no, maybe an animal, something bigger than Terry. And then it spread its wings.
Terry turned to run back home but before he could jump onto the first tussock he heard a leathery whooshing and was picked up and dropped back into the islet.
“Now there’s a bother.” It wasn't words, but the sense of the words, uttered without sound right into Terry’s thinking.
“I am sorry, but I'm going to have to kill and dispose of you.”
Terry opened his eyes. A greenish-red something was staring at him, slowly beating its wings and flexing the talons where its feet and hands should be. Terry screamed.
“Only thing that'll do is scare away the deer.”
Terry screamed again anyway. Then he stood up, getting ready to run when a front limb talon grabbed his arm. “Please, please,” he sobbed, “Let me go. I won't tell anyone.”
“First rule: Never trust a human, they even lie to themselves. No, I'm sorry. If you have any last thoughts, think them now.”
Despite his fear, Terry began to stare at the thing clutching him. Its thorax was lit from within by greenish and yellowish lights that slowly swirled from one spot to another, vanished, and rekindled. It didn't really have a face, it had a snout- with flaring nostrils and large pointed teeth. Its black wings were skin and not feathers, with pronounced veins and tendons. Smoke roiled from its mouth, and something was waving behind its back.
“I didn't do anything to you.”
“Doesn't matter. You know that I exist--you die. But I’m not a wild beast. If you prefer I can drown you. And although it makes perfect sense to eat you, I can leave you to rot in the ground or the pond if you wish.”
“You, you can't do that, you'll be arrested.”
The skin around its mouth curled up, exposing more pointy teeth. “We've been able to hide from you for two millennia; I doubt the police would know where to look.”
“But I know, you just came out of the landfill. Do you live there?””
“Look, Terry is it? I wish you'd quit asking questions so we can just get on with this. One bite and it’s pretty well over. But, since you asked, you'd almost exterminated us when we discovered the garbage dumps you humans were piling up next to your cities and towns. You've been providing us with food and hiding places ever since.”
“And you can eat garbage?”
“We swallow all kinds of plants and animal material whole and cook it into energy--grass, wood, rats, mixed garbage, doesn't matter, we're better omnivores than you are. The digestion generates as much heat and light as one of your furnaces.”
“But what are you?”
“Ah. You used to call us dragons, and spend considerable time hunting us down and killing us. Once we'd been hiding in the trash heaps for a century or two you switched to killing other things.”
The dragon tightened his hold on Terry’s shoulder, talon points pushing through his skin. “I can just bite your head off if you wish. It’s messy, but quick.”
Terry’s thoughts had been churning, but it was like trying to stir cold oatmeal. “Wait, ah, what should I call you?’
“Hrraushtu. The sound is like clearing spit from the back of your throat.”
“Hrraushtu, there must be things that you want but can't always get living in a garbage pile.”
Hrraushtu threw Terry back down onto the reed bed and stared at him. “Of course. Fresh fruit, we so rarely get fresh fruit. And chocolates. We almost never find chocolates that aren't all dried out and rocky.” He flapped his wings, talons curling in the process. “But no point wanting what you can't have. Sit still little one, while I open you up.”
“No, no you don't understand, I can bring you these things--chocolates and fresh fruit and meat…”
The dragon paused, and slithered a narrow, split ended tongue over the points of its teeth. “Apples and pears and maybe even a pineapple… How could you do this?”
“I can buy these things and leave them here for you. You could come out after dark and pick them up, but don't let the deer get to the fruit, they like it too.”
“And of course you would want to stay alive to do this.”
“Yes, please. And I could bring you even more things if you could bring me something in return.”
“What would I have that you want?”
Terry reached in his pocket and pulled out a quarter. “We use these round bits of metal to buy things. Do you find them as you burrow through the garbage?”
“All the time. They're not digestible, so we just spit them out or excrete them”
“Bring some to me- I can use them to buy you even more things.”
And so, despite his better instincts, Hrraushtu let Terry jump back from tussock to tussock until he reached his yard. Terry wanted to tell his mother and father about the dragon, but felt he'd made a deal, and anyway, who would believe him?
The next day Terry emptied out his piggy bank. Bruce wasn't on the bus so Terry was able to make it home unpunched and walk to the corner store. He bought two bags of apples and mangoes and oranges and carried the bags of fruit out to his little island. The dragon waited until dusk had overshadowed the land fill and flew over.
“Wow,” Terry said, “That was something. With your wings spread out and your belly lit up you looked like a bright, flying plate.”
“Yes, well, fortunately for us your night time depth perception is terrible. What is little and close at night you see as big and far away. When you notice us you think we're flying saucers filled with aliens. Really? Aliens?”
Terry opened up his bags of fruit and Hrraushtu opened up two plastic grocery bags as well. In the dim light Terry began to sort through what the dragon had brought.
“Ah, no, Mr. Hrraushtu, see, these are metal buttons from clothes . And these here are pins from elections and conventions. And these are bottle caps. None of those will help us.
“But here, these are good for buying fruit and chocolate. See these are quarters, and these are dimes, both very good for buying. And this one-wow--if this yellow one is what I think it is I can buy you a month’s worth of fruit!”
The coins were all covered with dirt and other things Terry didn't want to think about. When he got home Terry washed the coins with dish washing soap. The little yellow coin had 1863, $1 stamped on it, and Terry was pretty sure it was gold. During his lunch hour Terry walked over to a coin shop and showed his coin to the manager. The manager offered him $50 for the coin, but Terry was suspicious and said no. Before he could walk out of the shop the manager offered Terry, first, $100 and then $300 for the coin, no questions asked. But Terry knew he had something special, put the coin in his pocket, and walked over to a grocery store.
Bruce was on the bus going home. “What’s in the bag, runt? Are you going to give it to me? Should I just take it from you? Are you ready to get hit?”
When the bus pulled away, leaving Bruce and Terry on the corner, Bruce punched Terry, knocking him down. Then he dumped all the fruit out onto the ground. “Fruit? Fruit! What kind of an idiot are you?” Bruce stomped on all the fruit, smashing it, and walked away.
Terry scooped up as much of the broken pieces and smooshed pulp as he could and put it back into the plastic bag. Then he hopped over the tussocks to his secret place.
When Hrraushtu flew over he could see that Terry had been crying. “What happened? Are you maimed? Should I kill you to stop the pain?”
“No and no,” Terry replied. “But all your fruit is ruined. A bully hit me and tromped on every piece.”
“It’s not so bad as you think,” said the dragon. “Remember that I dine at the dump. But we can't have this interference. Should I kill him?”
“Absolutely not,” Terry said, “but I don't think I can bring you fruit while he’s on the bus with me.”
Hrraushtu thought for a minute. “Shouldn't you cripple him so he is unable to take the bus? Or would you just like to intimidate him?”
Terry laughed despite his fear and sadness.
“Bruce is much bigger and heavier than I am.”
“And probably slower. Does he hit you with his right talon or his left?”
“His right, always his right. But I don't want to hurt him. Just make him stop hitting me.”
“Hmmm. Slightly more difficult. Okay I'll show you what to do.”
In a blur Hrraushtu swung his forelimb, talons closed, and knocked Terry into the reeds.
“Ow!” Terry yelled. But even though it hurt more than Bruce’s punches Terry didn't cry, for he knew the dragon had meant it to train him.
“Is Bruce that fast?”
“No, slower, much slower.”
“This will be easy for you.”
“And the dragon showed Terry how to side step, grasping the fist as it was swung toward him and twisting it hard enough to strain the wrist.
“This is great,” Terry said, “Bruce won't bother me once his wrist is strained.”
Hrraushtu sighed, belching out greasy smoke and little flamelets. “How have you survived this long? He'll be both angry and a little afraid. He’s bigger than you, so he'll try and wrestle you to the ground, and then punch you with his left talon.”
“So I shouldn't have twisted his hand?”
“No, no you pathetic biped. When he grabs you, you grab one or two of his fingers and twist them until they dislocate.”
“I'm not sure I could do that.”
The dragon sighed again, smoke swirling around his head. “Okay, just until he yells. That should stop him from hitting you. Here are more of the flat metal circles. If you could find squishy center chocolates that would be a very good thing.”
The next day during lunch hour Terry bought pears, a ripe cantaloupe and a box of chocolates. Bruce sat behind him on the bus, hissing threats. When they got off, Bruce moved in front of Terry and clenched his fist. Terry dropped the grocery bags and waited. When Bruce swung, much slower than the dragon had, Terry side-slipped the punch and grabbed the hand, pulling and twisting in the same direction the punch was swinging. Bruce howled and jumped back, grabbing his right arm.
“Now you're going to get it,” he yelled. Bruce rushed at Terry and grabbed him around the waist. Terry reached down, grabbed a finger and yanked. Bruce howled again, almost a scream, and backed off. Bruce was crying.
“Leave me alone, Bruce” Terry said. “If you try and hurt me again you'll be sorry.”
Terry picked up the grocery bags and hopped out to his little island. At dusk Hrraushtu, wings thrumming, landed on the reeds. “You didn't cry.”
“No. I almost feel sorry for Bruce. But will he try and hurt me again?”
“I don't think so. In his mind you've gone from being prey to being predator. But I'd stay alert.”
The dragon slobbered his way through the pears and cantaloupe, and gobbled the chocolates, box and all. “Ahh,” he sighed, the flames almost singing Terry’s eyebrows. “That was good.”
They sat for a moment in silence, watching the sunset. Hrraushtu stirred, and began picking his teeth with his index talon. A charred bit of green paper fluttered to the ground. Terry noticed the number 1 printed on it. “Hrraushtu,” he asked, “how often do you find these green and gray paper rectangles with numbers in the corners?”
“All the time, usually tucked inside something else we're eating, like pants or a mattress. They don't taste very good, do you have a use for them?”
“I think you're going to be eating a lot more chocolates.”

Ed Ahern resumed writing after 40-odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but advises that after 46 years, they are both out of warranty.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

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.

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).

Monday, March 31, 2014

April 2014 Submission Window Opens Tonight

The submission window for the April 2014 monthly contest opens at 12 a.m. April 1, and closes a 11:59 p.m., April 2., EST.

Inspiration by Charles Robinson:


The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, by Christina Ruth Johnson, Vintage Fairy Tale Sleuth

The stories from Oscar Wilde’s two published collections of fairy tales are by turns sad and uplifting, idealistic and cynical, and often include political, social, and religious themes. They are all written with elegance, eloquence, and wit (would we expect any less?); unfortunately, they are not well known to those with only a passing interest in this great Victorian writer.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900) is perhaps most famous today for his (only) novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as for his plays, which include The Importance of Being Ernest and An Ideal Husband. Wilde was also a poet and, as I present to you here, an author of fairy tales. His life was not an easy one -- he died at an early age, penniless, with a poor social reputation -- and these hardships seem to be reflected in the depressing elements within his stories. And yet, the stories are not without their kernels of hope.

Wilde’s first fairy tale collection, The Happy Prince and Other Stories, was published in 1888. It includes five tales: “The Happy Prince,” “The Nightingale and the Rose,” “The Selfish Giant,” “The Devoted Friend,” and “The Remarkable Rocket.” Walter Crane lent his illustrative talents to the first edition of this publication.

Wilde's The Happy Prince, book cover, 1888
"The Happy Prince," Walter Crane, 1888
The story of “The Nightingale and the Rose” exemplifies the depressing-with-a-kernel-of-hope motif found in these works. Overhearing a young man exclaim sadly (even histrionically) over his lack of a red rose to bestow upon the woman he loves, a nightingale gives her heart’s blood for the sake of Love, an ideal she deems more worthy than her own life, to create the most beautiful red rose ever seen. The young man casually plucks the bloom, inches away from the body of the little bird, and takes it to the woman he loves. She spurns his advances, and he discards the rose, which is crushed in the street. At first the utter futility of the nightingale’s death outweighs any other thought, but then the absolute beauty of her uncomplicated self-sacrifice outweighs even the sorrow of the tale.

Wilde’s second collection, A House of Pomegranates, was published in 1891 as a companion to The Happy Prince. It includes “The Young King,” “The Birthday of the Infanta,” “The Fisherman and His Soul,” and “The Star-Child.” A lovely 1915 edition features illustrations by the Scottish artist Jessie M. King.
From "The Young King,"
illustration by Jessie M. King, 1915
By Jessie King, from
"The Fisherman and His Soul, 1915
Elements of religion and philosophy are especially prevalent in the first tale of this collection, “The Young King,” which deals explicitly with ideas of aestheticism, a philosophy that Wilde ascribed to vociferously during his lifetime. Awaiting his coronation, a young king is entranced by the beautiful and costly things around him and demands that his coronation regalia be the most beautiful objects ever seen. That night, three dreams come to him in succession, showing him how poverty, slavery, disease, greed, and death all had a hand in the creation of this regalia. Immediately, the prince rejects the items and proceeds to his coronation dressed in rags. Although many try to convince him to take up the regalia, he refuses, and is thereby gifted by God with holy regalia not made by man.

Upon the publication of The Happy Prince, a reviewer asked why Wilde used the template of a children’s fairy tale to deal with the adult themes in these stories. Wilde responded that he wrote the tales “not for children, but for childlike people from eighteen to eighty.” The language and style of these stories was certainly aimed at an older audience. Wilde later stated, in reference to Pomegranates, that he “had about as much intention of pleasing the British child as [he] had of pleasing the British public.” Confusion about Wilde’s intended audience continues to baffle (and compel) scholars to this day. (Heath, “Lessons not learned,” 1)

One last bit of “eye-candy”: the great Charles Robinson’s illustrations of stories from The Happy Prince from 1913.
Illustration by Charles Robinson, from
"The Nightingale and the Rose," 1913

Robinson, from
"The Remarkable Rocket, 1913

You can find all of Wilde’s “fairy tales,” as well as many more illustrations by Robinson and King, here:
A question to ponder: If his stories were not intended for children, why do you think he wrote them as fairy tales?
Christina Ruth Johnson recently received her Masters in Art History with a focus on the ancient Mediterranean and a side interest in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her other great love is fantasy literature from ancient times to present day.



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Review Column, By Lissa Sloan (From the Forest and Opal)

Into the Woods: In which I review books about the woods and set in the woods (From the Forest and Opal).

From the Forest: A Search for the Hidden Roots of Our Fairy Tales by Sara Maitland

In From the Forest, Sara Maitland provides an in depth look into the connection between forests and fairy tales. Maitland theorizes that the landscape a group of people live in heavily influences their culture, including their fairy tales. For instance, characters in Middle Eastern tales do not go into the desert the way European characters would go into a forest, because the desert would only cause their deaths. They find their adventures travelling to other places or at sea. Whereas while European characters could get lost in a forest, they could also hide, find adventure, and find themselves once again. Therefore, Northern European fairy tales are tightly bound to the countryside of Northern Europe, especially its forests. Over the course of a year, Maitland records her visits to twelve British forests as she thoroughly explores the way forests influence fairy tales. Each chapter finishes with her retelling of a Brothers Grimm tale, which often touches on themes from the chapter.

Throughout From the Forest, Maitland examines forests and fairy tales in a variety of ways. She looks at natural history, and the way humans affect the land they live in, remarking that even humanity’s efforts to preserve a forest in its natural state has an effect, just as attempting to record a previously oral story in print makes the story static, freezing it in a moment in time. She uses events from British history such as “afforestation” (a monarch claiming any land he/she likes for personal use) and the Enclosure Movement (the monarchy forcing the original landowners to buy back their lands, and then the nobility barring the commoners from using it) to explain why kings come out so poorly in fairy tales. Doubtless the tellers of these tales took great pleasure in the subversive message of common people using their wits, good manners, and bravery to rise out of poverty and end up on top, often outwitting a king in the process. Speculating that the originators of Northern European tales lived and worked in forests, Maitland spends some of her forest visits meeting modern Free Miners and foresters.

Maitland has a conversational style, and the non-fiction section of From the Forest makes for a fascinating read. But her re-told fairy tales are equally appealing. Many tell the tale from a different point of view, commenting on the story along the way. Maitland’s style is simple and graceful, making her stories a pleasure to read. Her tales seem to just keep getting better as the book goes along, but standouts for me are the poignant "Dancing Shoes," which tells "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" from the point of view of the soldier, and "Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf," the story of Red’s wolf-like woodcutter. I found it curious that, as Maitland is especially focused on differences in fairy tales from different geographical areas (rather than the similarities most scholars focus on), that she uses Grimms’ tales, rather than specifically British tales such as "Jack the Giant Killer" and "Mr. Fox" to go with the British forests she writes about. However, From the Forest is a completely absorbing, thought-provoking read, which anyone who loves not only reading fairy tales, but reading about fairy tales is sure to enjoy.

Opal by Kristina Wojtaszek

When her mother dies, Opal is taken to her father, who she has never met. But Opal is no ordinary girl. She was born a snowy owl, and spent her early life in the wilds with her mother. Now she must learn her history as part human, part Fae, a people with a strong connection with nature who can take animal form, and take her place in the world. Opal is told through two narrators, the title character, and Androw, a young prince who forsakes his cruel father and enters the woods, where the Fae are said to live. He also seeks a white hare, with black tipped ears and red eyes. The hare is a character from a fairy story, but Androw is determined to find her nonetheless. Together Opal and Androw tell not only their own stories, but that of Eira, a half-human, half-Fae princess who cannot survive among humans and finds peace in the woods with The Seven, who take the shape of animals to guard their precious charge.

As an alternate version of "Snow White," Opal is one of the most unique fairy tale retellings I have come across. Author Kristina Wojtaszek does not use many parts of the original tale, there is no wicked stepmother, for instance, only a very loving one, but the elements she does use are intriguing. Despite a simple plot, I found the use of two narrators, telling their stories from different points in time was disorienting for a while. However, I continued to be drawn in by Wojtaszek’s introspective characters and compelling world. Opal is an intimate, very personal book, and reading this it gave me a strong sense memory of the complete escape I enjoyed curling up with the Patricia McKillip books I loved as a teenager. I found myself wishing it were a full length novel so I could delve deeper into it.

Lissa's avatar, by Lissa
What atmosphere or setting says “fairy tale” to you? Join the Enchanted Conversation and share your thoughts. Happy reading!

Lissa Sloan has contributed stories, poems, and guest posts to Enchanted Conversation, but she also writes and illustrates for younger readers. Visit her online at her website,, or on Twitter, @LissaSloan. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

February EC Contest Winners

The winners for last month's contest are Edward Ahern and Katrina Robinson.
Congratulations to them both!

Something to gaze upon:

"Elf Hill," by Harry Clarke

Monday, March 17, 2014

A St. Patrick's Day Fairy Tale News Report, by Nora Stasio

The Seal-Woman and The Mistress of All Evil (Song of the Sea and Maleficent)

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, our first story hails from the Emerald Isle.  

"Cartoon Saloon" is an  Irish animation studio that's best known for producing The Secret Of Kells in 2009. If you've never seen that lovely little picture, it tells the story of a young boy who befriends a forest spirit on his quest to complete the legendary "Book of Kells." A beautiful piece of animation, rich with the flavors of Ancient Ireland, it was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 2010 Academy Awards.

        Image from the Book of Kells

Their next feature production is titled, "The Song of the Sea." Not much has been revealed about the plot, except that it centers on a selkie named Saoirse (pronounced SEER-sha).

Never heard of a selkie? It's a creature from medieval Irish and Scottish traditions. The selkies were said to be beautiful men and women who lived inside seal skins that they could don or shed as they pleased. Typically they'd live among the seals, appearing no different from the rest of the herd. But on occasion, a curious selkie might shed their skin and wander into town to interact with humans.

A typical selkie myth goes like this: A female sheds her seal skin and a human fisherman finds it and hides it away. This puts the selkie entirely at his mercy; she is forced to become his wife. In some stories, their love is mutual, or they grow to love each other. But because she is a creature of the sea, the selkie is never satisfied living a human's lifestyle, and longs to return from whence she came. She will either uncover her stolen sealskin while cleaning, or her child will happen to find it. The next day, the fisherman awakes to find that his wife and her seal skin have disappeared. Typically they never meet again, though sometimes the selkie will return to visit her children. 

"The Song of the Sea" is expected to be released in Ireland sometime this year. Check out the link below for the official trailer. I'm super excited!

In other news, have you seen the posters for the upcoming film Maleficent? Angelina Jolie has a striking appearance (quite literally) as the iconic Disney villain from 1959's Sleeping Beauty

This project is apparently a retelling ofSleeping Beauty's story (this time in live-action), told from Maleficent's point of view. We'll be following her progression from innocent young girl to cruel, conniving witch. According to the synopsis, the cause of her wickedness is a tragic back-story. (Sounds a little bit like "Wicked," by Gregory McGuire, if you ask me.) 

I was a bit perplexed when I first saw the ad. Obviously, "villain stories" are in vogue these days. From Breaking Bad to The Wolf of Wall Street to Despicable Me, we've been seeing a lot of anti-heroes and hearing classic stories told from a darker perspective. And it's an interesting trend. This just isn't something I expected from Disney, of all studios. 

Maleficient, to me, never seemed like Disney's most sympathetic character. In the first act of the 1959 film, she curses Princess Aurora with an early death, merely because she was jealous at not having been invited to the royal christening. She names her pet raven "Diablo," after the devil himself. At the film's climax, she literally calls herself, "the mistress of all evil," and summons, "all the powers of Hell," to aid her in defeating the heroic Prince. 

It seems like quite a daunting task to turn the vengeful hellion created by Disney into a very modern personification of the "misunderstood monster" trope, the type of character that audiences should feel bad for. But I'm keeping an open mind. Maybe Linda Woolverton's screenplay will blow us away, and we'll all leave the theater weeping for poor Maleficent's plight. The film opens May 30th, 2014.

Are you fond of "villain stories," or are you getting tired of trendy tropes likes these? Leave us a comment! Also, if you know any good Irish folktales, feel free to share!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entire life! I recently graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Instagram Following

I'm hoping to start sharing lots of images on Instagram! This will be a new way to follow EC as well. So please, if you are an instant, follow me!

That's Gus, EC's mascot on Instagram!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Lady and the Ghost, By Jennifer A. McGowan

"The Ghost's Petition," By Emma Florence Harrsion

Editor's note: Jennifer's work has been featured often in EC--she knows how to evoke a mood. A touch of the macabre and a nod to classic story-poems from the British Isles made this a winner.
Bess, she had a likely lad,
and that lad he had Bess.
Why he went out on Hallows eve
is anybody’s guess.

He lost his way and climbed a hill
to see what could be seen—
Glided up to him from out the mists
a grim and ghostly queen.

“One kiss, my handsome Will,” she cried,
“One kiss!  I claim my prize.
or those who climb up Tanner’s Hill
are driven mad, or wise.”

Now Will he fancied wisdom
if it would get him back to Bess.
He bowed to the ghostly figure,
bestowed on it a kiss. 

Just one kiss from my clay-cold lips
and you’ll never be alone. 

And he saw gold abounding,
riches more than he could name.
He gathered gems up in his hands
and then he turned back home.

Bess waited with a lantern
brushing her flowing hair.
She thought she heard Will in the lane
but nobody walked there.

She thought she heard Will by the byre
but no-one passed it by.
She thought she heard him at the door;
she thought she heard him sigh.

He climbed in through the window
reached his hand hers to have.
But Will had found his wisdom
in the bed of an early grave. 

Just one kiss from my clay-cold lips
and you’ll never be alone. 

The Lady and the Ghost cont’d. 

Bess felt his hand pass through her own
put on her cloak of green
ran crying through the lonely night
to face the ghastly queen.

“I’ll pay your price, you hag,” she swore
as she clomb Tanner’s Hill.
“You shall have my cursed kiss,
and I shall have my Will.”

The queen laughed soft but she laughed long,
“I fear not to be spurned.”
A kiss then to her Bessie threw
and was kissed in return.

The morning sun dawned bright and gay
and Bess awoke and saw
The ranks of dead men in the dew
a hundred strong, or more. 

Just one kiss from my clay-cold lips
and you’ll never be alone.

Now Bess among the living waits
for Time to claim his own.
The faithful dead walk at her side
and she’s never alone.

 Jennifer A. McGowan lives near Oxford, England, and has published widely on both sides of the Atlantic.  For more poetry, info about her first collection and anthologies, and for samples of her medieval calligraphy, visit


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