August 9, 2020

September 2020 Authors Chosen

I’m posting this a day early because tomorrow I’m extremely busy. I’m in the middle of a super busy stretch. The authors of the chosen works for September have already been informed of their status. Therefore, if you did not receive an email from me telling you that your work has been chosen, you should shop the story elsewhere—there were some really good ones that were hard to turn down this month. The top five stories were all highly publishable.

Here are the chosen authors:

Kelly Jarvis

Lee Gaitan

A.M. Offenwanger

Thank you to everyone be who submitted! The window for October submissions opens Sept. 1. Also, a wonderful writing opportunity will be coming very soon. Keep checking this site!

This week’s essay will run Tuesday.


Image from “Cinderella,” by Charles Folkard.

August 6, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Dishwater Dreaming, By Debby Zigenis-Lowery

Editor’s note: This is so direct, so hopeful, yet with an edge to it. I hope you’ll love this gem from 2017 as much as I do!

Dare I hope?
Steaming water reddens my hands,
Skin once white as apple blossoms
And smooth as velvet petals.

The prince has asked for a cake baked by me…
Did he see?
How could he see
Beyond this stinking
I wear?

Dare I hope
He has seen beneath this shaggy skin?
I rinse a heavy pewter cup,
Take up the next.

Once I caught the eye of a king.
I shudder.
How the thorns and branches of the wood
Tore at my face and hands
As I fled
My own

But this time it is a prince,
Young, winsome.
I rinse the last cup,
Dry them all quickly with
The rough,

I shall sneak into the orchard.
Aye, when I am done.
The apple trees are blooming,
Their petals will be just the thing
To transform these work-worn hands
To the hands of a queen.

Debby Zigenis-Lowery is a reteller of folktales, a historical fantasy novelist, and a poet. You can find her blogging at or indulging in her favorite addiction at

August 4, 2020

Submission Window Closed

The window for submissions for September closed. No more submissions will be accepted for September.

A link to submission information is HERE. The submission window will open again the first of September.

Can’t wait to read the submissions!

Image by D’Ancona Vito.

August 3, 2020

Death and the Mother, By Melissa Yuan-Innes

Editor’s note: I couldn’t resist this angle on the Angel of Death. Melissa takes a classic fairy tale and Death and mashes them up in a very unexpected way. A surprising and satisfying tale.

The Queen gasped as her newly born infant daughter snapped at her breast. "What shall I do?” asked the Queen, cradling the hungry baby as best she could.

"Your Majesty, I will fetch your wet nurse," answered the youngest attendant.

The Queen shook her head. She had longed for this tiny princess for far too long to hand her over immediately to a wet nurse.

"It is better for you to rest now. You have lost too much blood," said the midwife, drawing a soft, white dressing gown over the Queen's shoulders before she reached for the princess.

The Queen pushed away the midwife’s hand as the baby clamped on for several excruciating moments. As tears rose to the Queen’s eyes, the newborn's eyes closed and her tiny body sagged into sleep.

The Queen laughed and held her daughter tighter. They would try again later. The Queen tucked her head against her baby’s soft head, trying to inhale her new scent, but a sudden chill cut through the bedroom.

She opened her mouth to order someone to stoke the fire. Instead, she froze, spying a charcoal mist undulating toward the bed.

Within seconds, the mist coalesced into a figure wearing a long, black cloak.

He pushed back the hood to reveal his skeletal face. He hoisted his scythe in the air, aiming at her precious baby's throat.

She tucked her own body over her baby's. She had no time for disbelief or fear. "Angel of Death, you cannot have her."

"Your Majesty, do you see someone?” asked the Queen's attendant.

The midwife's head jerked up. She gasped, a tiny puff of air.

The Queen ignored them both in order to concentrate on the specter in front of her. "Death, hold thy sting. This baby is not for you."

Death paused with his scythe in the air. His voice was like the wind rattling winter's dry branches. "She is mine. Look at her skin, pale as alabaster. Her heart is not strong. She belongs in my arms, not yours."

"Her lips are as red as a summer's rose," countered the Queen.

"Yes, yes, the fairest of them all," soothed the attendant.

The midwife placed a hand on the attendant's arm and shook her head, ordering her to be silent.

"Her hair is as black as ebony. She lives, she breathes, she came through my body. She is not for you!” the Queen shouted. Her uterus tightened. She gasped as she bled afresh between her legs, but it didn't matter. Only her daughter mattered.

Death shook his head. "A beauty she may be, but not for this world. I am sorry for your loss, my Queen."

"Am I your Queen, then?” she answered, holding the infant so close, she murmured in protest.
"All of you are mine, sooner or later, my Queen."

"If I am your Queen, if I belong to you, then you may take me in her stead."

Death shook his head. "I am not here to bargain, my Queen. I am here to cull a life."

The Queen fixed him with her most imperious glare. "Are you, then? If any life will do, you may have mine and be done with it."

Death chuckled. It felt like finger bones clinking in her throat. "It does not work that way, my Queen. Once a human has been marked for Death, I will keep coming, no matter how many lives are thrown in my path."

"Will such a life slow you down?” the Queen asked, raising her own pale hand, nearly as white-skinned as her daughter's.

"It might tarry me a little, but I will come regardless."

"Tarry then, with my life before her own."

"As you wish," said Death’s Angel, and swung his scythe at the Queen’s throat. With her last breath, she kissed her daughter one final time.

Blood gushed from between the Queen's thighs, soaking the bed.

The attendant screamed.

The midwife yelled, "Take the child! Call the Royal Physician!" and did her best to staunch the flow, but when the Queen's skin turned waxen and her lips leached from red to blue, the midwife whispered, "I will aid you as best I can, my Queen."


Nine years later, Death exited the castle with another soul. Every time, he expected to carry off the princess, but this time, it was a scullery maid who caught the worst in a kitchen fire.

The Angel passed through the gardens and paused when he heard the King speak of his daughter. "She is too clumsy."

"That may be," said the Chief Advisor, "but Snow White's beauty is already renowned throughout the land. She will not want for suitors.” He smiled at the little girl who tossed her ball in the air and shrieked for joy.

"I had never thought a princess capable of falling in a moat," said the King. "Then, the other day, she choked on a piece of bread."

Death would have smiled, if he had possessed lips.

"The midwife happened to be passing and managed to remove it," said the Chief Advisor.

"Yes," said the King, but his gaze strayed to the miniatures sent from neighboring kingdoms. He would have to marry again, and soon, to ensure heirs, preferably sturdy boys and not beautiful but clumsy girls.

Death fingered the sharp blade of his scythe. Soon, he promised it silently. The Queen's blood had protected her for nearly a decade, but he would return for the girl soon.


Less than a year later, thanks to a new and jealous Queen, Death stalked the little princess on the heels of a huntsman. Death could feel her small, weak heart hammering in her chest and hear her frightened gasps as she stumbled over the roots of trees.

See? he silently asked the former Queen. Would you not prefer a peaceful death in your arms, as an infant, to being hunted like a deer before her heart and lungs are excised from her chest as a bloody trophy for the new Queen?

A branch lashed the princess next to her left eye. She cried out and crashed down on her hands and knees on the edge of a clearing.

The huntsman raised his blade.

Now, thought Death. His scythe was sharp and hungry.

The child wept. The tears and mucous on her face glistened in the moonlight. "Please, sir, I beg of you!” the child pleaded.

Death shook his head. She had evaded him for ten long years. Payment had come due.

A sound rustled in the bushes. Death ignored the wild boar, but the hunter raised wild eyes toward the animal.

The child began to weep and wail in a way that might have touched Death's heart. Fortunately, he lacked that particular organ.

The huntsman cast his knife at the boar's side. Its screech rent the air. Its forelegs lurched.

"Go!" the huntsman shouted at the child. "Go far and never come back!"

Death's teeth clattered in his jawbones. He pursued the still-sobbing girl, but she managed to stagger deeper into the forest, away from the huntsman, who seized a dagger and sliced the still-screeching boar's throat.

The Angel of Death raised his empty eye sockets to the sky. He did not believe in heaven or hell, but sometimes, he wondered if the former Queen could unduly influence matters, still.


Fortunately, the new Queen did not entrust Snow White's fate to incompetent underlings a second time. By springtime, she had located the princess and enticed her into sampling an exquisitely ripe but poisoned apple.

Snow White choked as soon as the poison touched her tongue. Her stomach heaved.

Death eyed the princess, wondering if her mother would somehow manage to expel the bite of apple from beyond the grave.

The princess's eyes protruded. She tried to cough. Her hands flew to her throat and waved there helplessly while the apple remained embedded in her gullet. Less than a minute later, the girl slid to the ground.

Her chest no longer rose or fell.

"Good," said the new Queen, and hobbled away, still disguised as an old peasant.

Death swung his scythe at Snow White's throat. When he pulled it back, her soul followed, drawing out of her body.

The shimmering golden web caught half-way. When Death yanked his scythe, the soul struggled away from him, arching back toward the corpse.

"What's this?" said Death. He touched her body with one skeleton finger. Immediately, he understood. The princess had been born with an extra ring of muscle in her swallowing tube, causing her to choke on too-large morsels of food from an early age. The apple piece had lodged there. She had choked and fainted, but had not crossed over. Yet.

Death drew his pocket watch out of his cloak and studied its face. The clock had mysteriously reset itself to show five more days. Death could wait five more days, while the poison seeped into her body and completed her murder.

"Soon, my pretty," he said, tapping a finger bone on her brow.

She did not even blink. She was so close to Death, in more ways than one.

Death drew his cloak back over his face and vanished.

Five days later, he reappeared at her side, slightly surprised to see her arrayed in some sort of glass coffin while seven little servants struggled to carry her aloft.

"That will make a fine tomb," he said, scything her throat. His weapon passed easily through the glass. He reached once more for her soul. This time, it came readily, if slowly, as a silver thread spooling out of her body. He spun it into a ball, humming.

The thread slowed down. He tugged at it.

The thread stopped altogether.

She still clung to life. A stubborn child, just like her mother.

Death raised his scythe a final time.

A pallbearer stumbled. Another one ran into him.

The glass coffin tilted. The little pallbearers scrambled to hold on, but it fell to the ground. Two glass panes fractured instantly.

Snow White's body bounced once, twice, still contained in the coffin. The Angel dove toward her, scythe ready, just as the princess stirred and coughed.

"She lives!” shouted a little man, and soon they opened the coffin and swarmed all over her.

Death gnashed his molars. They were in the way, but he had negotiated battlefields much worse than this. He hefted his scythe one last time.

The princess gagged and spat out the poisoned bit of apple.

Her soul unwound back into her body.

"No!” shouted Death, snatching the ball of silver thread, but it passed through his hands and flowed like a thin silver river toward her now-breathing form.

"No, no, no!” insisted Death. He seized his pocket watch. The princess's death had been reset to eleven years hence.

"No one cheats Death," he yelled. "You are all mine eventually. Kings, Queens, shoemakers and sin eaters. Babies or grown women. You all belong to me."

No one responded to him. The girl sat up, blinking in astonishment at the seven little men cavorting around her, singing their delight.

From the sidelines, a taller man dressed in fine leather boots crossed to her side and caressed her cheek. When she turned toward him, he pressed a kiss on her lips.

Death hoped that the poison remaining on her skin might harm one or both of them, but they merely beamed at each other. The man embraced the princess as if she were a weakened fawn he would nurse back to health. She closed her eyes, leaning into his disgustingly healthy body.

Somewhere, somehow, The Angel of Death could have sworn he heard the former Queen laugh.


Bio: Melissa Yuan-Innes is a doctor who loves fairy tales and werewolves. She’s a Writers of the Future winner published in Nature and The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror. She writes the Hope Sze medical mysteries as Melissa Yi, recommended by the CBC and Ellery Queen. Her website is


Image by Richard Tennant

Did you like this story? If so, please take a look at the post on payment to writers HERE. I’d love to know your opinion.

August 2, 2020

Payment: What Do You Think?

Tomorrow, Aug. 3, at 2 p.m., a wonderful story will be published. I know you’ll love this new fairy tale by Melissa Yuan-Innes.

But in the meantime, I’d like some opinions, and I hope you’ll give them below, even after Melissa’s story is posted. Read both!

This post is about payment to writers. Right now, EC costs me about $4,000 out of pocket per year. That mostly includes paying writers, plus a lot of other smaller costs. I enjoy what I do here, so I’m not going to whine, but I did want some feedback on what you think is fair payment to writers.

The rates I have currently: $100 for stories and $50 for nonfiction are actually pretty high—not pro rates, but not bad. Many places pay nothing. Some pay token amounts. Over the years, I’ve paid anywhere from $10 to $200 for works. I am on the side of paying, because I can, and because I think I should. I do not, however, look askance at publishers who pay very little or not at all. If that’s what it takes to keep a market open, I say go for it! There’s room for all of us.

The current pay, noted above, will probably not be in place in 2021. Fiction will no longer be prioritized in terms of pay. I will probably be paying the same amount out each month: $200, perhaps even a bit more, but the pay will be a flat $50 per work—that’s for a poem or a story or a nonfiction post. To keep the payment rate fair, I’m cutting back on word count: poems can be any length, but stories or nonfiction will be between 750 and 1,000. This way I’m not actually lowering the per-word rate (or not much). 

I want to bring poetry back, period. I miss it. And, I’ve come to the decision that poems should not be paid less. How do I know it doesn’t take as much time to get a poem right as it does to write a flash fairy tale? Poetry should not be the unloved stepchild, financially.

Also, although I cannot understand why, people have not been sending in many nonfiction submissions. I get a lot of fiction. Tons. The competition this month is fierce. But nonfiction? Very few. I have, however, been delighted with what I have gotten. The quality has been high. Also, nonfiction gets a lot of traffic. The exception is the angel card readings, which are ending. The numbers don’t support the effort.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Nonfiction is just as important to me as fiction, so the pay will reflect that in 2021. 

The final reason why I’m going for four works at $50 each is so I can have a new work per week. The site traffic really stays up when new works come on a weekly basis.

So, questions:

1) What fo you think of the proposed 2021 pay structure and the attendant length requirements?

2) What do you think of fiction vs. nonfiction? Do you even have a preference?

3) It looks like EC’s going to need a crowdfunding campaign. Would you be willing to give a one-time gift? A monthly gift? What do you think of the whole crowdfunding thing?

Finally, and this is just an idea: What do you think of EC adding a small press component, specializing in fairy tale anthologies? IF I did this, and it’s a big if, I wouldn’t start it until 2022, but it would take a lot of planning.

I look forward to some comments below.


The image is a Vogue cover of a woman reading, by Helen Dryden.

July 30, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Italy: The Birthplace of Modern Fairy Tale Telling, By Christina Ruth Johnson

Editor’s Note: I love posts that teach us about fairy tales and folklore. Italy as the origin country for fairy tales is not a new bit of information, but not many people know about it. Enjoy this post from 2014!

When we think of countries that are birthplaces of fairy tales, we automatically think of France and Germany--at least, these are the first that come to my mind, thanks mainly to Perrault and the Grimm brothers. We may think of England, too, as the place tales about actual fairies abound. Next, our minds might travel east to Russia or even farther into the lands of the Arabian Nights. Or perhaps we go north to Denmark, remembering Hans Christian Andersen.

One place to which my mind never traveled, until my research took me there, was Italy. I have since learned that traveling to Italy (literarily speaking) is a must for fairy tale lovers!

A most extraordinary collection of tales was published in Italy between 1634 and 1636--written by Giambattista Basile (published posthumously). The original title was Lo cunto de li cunti overo lo trattenemiento de peccerille--“The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones.” The title by which we know the work today, however, is Il Pentamerone, a phrase from the dedication page of the first edition that appeared as a subtitle in the 1674 edition by Pompeo Sarnelli (another Italian writer of fairy tales). (Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales)

From "Two Cakes," illustrated by George Cruikshank
Giambattista Basile was born near Naples in 1575 to a middle class family. He worked as a soldier, a government official, a courtier in Mantua, and a governor of various small states in Italy (Encyclopedia Britannica). When he died in 1632, he held the title of count (OCFT). Basile was well regarded as a poet while he lived, “and during his career he became fascinated with the folklore, customs, literature, music, and dialect of the Neapolitan people. He began serious study of things Neapolitan and began to collect fairy tales and folktales, setting them down in a lively Neapolitan style with much local flavour and all the ornament and flamboyance of his influential contemporary Giambattista Marino” (EB). 
"The Serpent," illustrated by by Warwick Goble
Basile’s arguably most famous work, Il Pentamerone, was the first literary compilation of nothing but fairy tales to be published in Europe, paving the way for later publications by the Grimms and others that we know and love today. Linguist and historian Nancy Canepa writes, “Lo cunto constituted a culmination of the interest in popular culture and folk traditions that permeated the Renaissance, when isolated fairy tales had started to be included in novella collections” (OCFT). Il Pentamerone, however, was written in the complicated Neapolitan dialect and parodied both earlier canonical works by Italian authors, such as Boccaccio, as well as contemporary Neapolitan culture (OCFT).

"Seven Doves" and more, by Cruikshank
Like Boccaccio’s Decameron, Basile’s Il Pentamerone is composed of a frame narrative with 49 interior tales--the frame narrative is its own tale, raising the total number to 50. Many stories we readily recognize today appear in this anthology, some in their earliest known literary forms: “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Rapunzel,” “Snow White and Rose Red,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Puss in Boots.”

"The Three Enchanted Princes, illustrated by Goble
 Canepa remarks that Basile’s versions of these stories are “often bawdier and crueller” than their later, better-known retellings. For example, the heroine of “La gatta Cennerentola” (“The Cinderella Cat”) actually kills her stepmother and actively helps orchestrate her own happily-ever-after. In general, Il Pentamerone’s heroines are surprisingly active and clever agents in their own fates. (OCFT) Petrosinella (the earliest incarnation of Rapunzel) coordinates her escape from her tower, essentially giving orders to the prince.

You can read a selection of stories from The Tale of Tales on the Surlalune website, as well as view more of the gorgeous illustrations by Warwick Goble and George Cruikshank here: You may also try your hand at reading the original Neapolitan here (full text):

I for one love reading such different versions of tales we think we know so well! Which Pentamerone tale is your favorite? Join Enchanted Conversation and let us know!

“Giambattista Basile.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed 17 August 2014. [OE]
Heidi Anne Heiner, ed. “Il Pentamerone.” Surlalune Fairy Tales.
Nancy Canepa. “Giambattista Basile.” The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales: The Western fairy tale tradition from medieval to modern, 41-43. Edited by Jack Zipes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. [OCFT]
Nancy Canepa. “Pentamerone.” The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales: The Western fairy tale tradition from medieval to modern, 377-378. Edited by Jack Zipes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. [OCFT] 

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.

July 29, 2020

Angel Card, 7-29-20

It’s angel card time here again, and I remain ambivalent. The stats show little engagement, and I can think of lots of other things to post on a Wednesday. 

How about letting me know if you like the angel cards or not, below, in the comments?

Onto today’s card.

Look at the back of the card, and fix a question in your mind. The card won’t predict the future, as I’ve noted in these readings before. Instead, the card, hopefully, will help you take inventory of yourself and your circumstances, so you can move forward on the issue you have in mind.

I clearly had the question about quitting the cards in my mind when I picked this card. (It’s always random, and with my eyes closed.) The answer, as you can see below, suggests that I take my time at the very least.

“Reconsider, “ shows a pretty, buff, stern guardian angel holding a big, old sword. He’s a bit threatening. Is he trying to coerce me into sticking with the readings?


Here’s the thing: I don’t think these cards predict anything like the future, and I don’t think they should be “obeyed.” They just encourage people to think about their lives and specific questions about their lives. The cards are also ambiguous. This one could just as easily be a suggestion that I reconsider doing the readings at all. Like I’ve said before: These cards are more Rorschach tests than anything else.

The book says to proceed carefully and ask for advice from trusted sources. Take time with the decision and be careful. Ultimately, it says wait for another moment.

We’ll see.