June 28, 2014

Winter Dreams, By Carolyn Charron

By Edmund Dulac (altered)

Editor's note: This gorgeous coming-of-age exploration of a young girl's discovery of the fae and herself made this an easy April 2014 winner.

The fae live in my garden. The ones my mother says don’t exist. At first I think I am dreaming but I see them so often, I am soon certain it is not my imagination. They are as tangible as I.

They are beautiful with iridescent wings and high-pitched voices but rather shy. If I stay silent for a long while, they creep out of their hiding places. How I love lying there half hidden in the bushes, grass tickling my skin, watching them as they play games of "flying tag" and "touch the butterfly." All too soon though, a dog barks or someone calls my name, frightening them and they scatter in all directions.

I move my heavy earthbound arms and legs, wishing with all my heart that I possessed their light and graceful limbs. I have seen them alight on a flower and rest, cross-legged on a petal, barely moving it. The wind itself moves those soft petals more than they.
After my discovery, I spend as much time as possible watching them, whenever I might affect an escape from my parents or my tutor. The summer days fly by and autumn is well underway before I begin to understand some small part of their speech. I recognize their names first, such musical sounds! I cannot replicate them with my clumsy tongue but I can taste them on my lips and hear them chiming in my mind.
Oh, and the colors! There are not enough words to describe all the colors they are made of! Purples and pinks, blues and greens, all hues, sparkle from their skin, from their wings, from their hair. They wear no clothing; these are not domesticated fairies. They are the fey, the sidhe—the mischievous and sometimes cruel creatures from legend. They ignore my presence for the most part but I always feel an underlying threat even while they play.
I read everything I find about them. Many of the books have such ridiculous information that I toss them away unfinished. But there are a few tomes which keep me spellbound. I begin a journal of my observations, comparing my fairies to the sidhe in those dusty old books, learning more about them.
Each of them is a distinct individual, with likes and dislikes that are simple to discern. One of my favorites has dusky green skin and a faint pink tinge to her hair. She sits motionless on a leaf or petal and watches the others. She rarely flies in those rough and tumble games, but the others defer to her in subtle ways. I am certain she is the leader, perhaps even their queen.
As she sits so quietly on her leafy throne, I watch her, learning more about her than any of the others who are unable to sit still for more than a moment. I believe she is watching me too while she grants me this opportunity to study her. But for what purpose, I am uncertain.
So I watch them through all the seasons, my large mortal body shivering in the snow and sweating in the heat. I pay little attention to the passage of time but I grow from a pudgy child to a gangly-limbed young lady whilst I watch. I fill my first journal with my observations and begin a new one.
I dream of them every night. Nothing else seems important. Until the day my blood blooms.
Mother comes to me that terrible winter day, my journals in her hand. In her usual no-nonsense voice, she reminds me I am grown now—it is time for me to put away childish things. Then she tosses my journals into the fireplace where a freshly laid fire devours my beloved books. My heart turns to stone, tears streak down my cheeks. I run away from the sight of my dreams turning to ash.
Despite the cramps troubling my stomach, I wrap myself up in my warmest clothes and find a quiet spot in the garden to vent my tears. The moon is full this midwinter night and I creep across a lawn lit up as if the sun still shone. I crouch quietly in my habitual spot and hot tears spill down my icy cheeks. A sparkle of color heralds their arrival. But this day, this day is different. Instead of flying to her usual throne-like leaf, the queen flits to a bare branch beside my face.
I have never seen her so closely before. She looks directly at me. Her tilted eyes are a feral orange and they search my face, finally resting on my own prosaically brown eyes. I feel naked, my dreams exposed. She speaks to me, but so quickly I don’t understand all her words. She repeats them in her high-pitched voice. And this time, I understand.
I glance behind me once, looking at the brightly lit house where I glimpse my mother bustling about her daily tasks, then I turn back to face the tiny creature who waits for me. I reach out my hand in answer and her tiny hand touches my fingertip in a butterfly kiss. Light explodes around me, flickering in the snowflakes that fall.
The air around me comes alive with her subjects, touching me, pulling off my winter cloak, my skirts and petticoats. I gladly shed the bulky garments, hating the way they bind me to the earth.
My exposed skin tingles in the frigid air. The naked branches of the bush loom larger around me. Lightly falling snowflakes grow huge in my vision. The chill in the winter garden disappears, warmth spreads through me. It is a wonderful sensation.
I slip free of the final layer of cloth, shrugging my shoulders against the tingling I sense. My shoulders feel different, strange, and I twist around to look behind me. I laugh at what I see.
I flutter my newly sprouted wings and gladly join my brothers and sisters in a game of "catch a snowflake" under the winter moon as our queen watches over us with a sly smile.
Carolyn Charron has been watching the fae for years and is still waiting to join them. Her works have been published in Mused and Fabula Argentea.

June 18, 2014

That Cinderella, Moira Gardener

"Jessie Cameron," by Emma F. Harrison, artmagick.com

Editor's note: Sometimes, like with this story, a light, brisk tone is just what it takes to successfully recast an old, classic fairy tale.

“That Cinderella,” said one blind sister to the other. “What an uncharitable witch. She sits up there all high and mighty surrounded by servants, while we depend on charity.” The two old sisters sit in the town streets with their begging bowls nurse their bitterness. Then along comes a wizard.

Knowing of their plight he offers them a solution. He tells them he has an axe to grind with the present King, the former prince. Latching onto a chance to get even with Cinderella they agree to help him.

Saying a powerful incantation he restores their former youth and beauty, including their eyes and feet. You see, the sisters mutilated their feet trying to make them fit the glass slipper; and those darn birds of Cinderella’s pecked out their eyes. But, now fully restored, they run off to the Palace. Knowing Cinderella has a soft heart, the sisters concoct a story about being noble ladies fallen on hard times in need of a position at court.

Cinderella, still having a soft heart as the sisters suspected, gives them a position. Over the years of ruling the kingdom with the King she has maintained her soft heart, but also gained much wisdom. And because the wizard restored the sisters to their former selves, rather than disguising them, Cinderella knows who they are. But Cinderella and the king have plans of their own. Thus the sisters find themselves as scullery maids instead of ladies in waiting.

“That Cinderella is as horrible as ever,” they complain.

One day a magician and a troupe of singers come to the castle to entertain the King and his Queen. Cinderella welcomes them and offers them refreshment in the kitchen until it is time to perform. The magician being the last to perform is left alone in the kitchen with the two sisters. He turns on them with scorn.

“What fools,” he says to the sisters, for he is really the wizard in disguise. “I see you’ve done nothing, so I have come to destroy the King and his Queen myself.”

“But we need more time,” they plead.

The magician, cape billowing, leaves the kitchen to perform his magic act. He is brought into the hall and bows before the King and Queen.

“And now I shall make your majesties disappear,” and with smoke and words he does just that. To the delight of the sisters Cinderella and the King are never seen again.

A-h-h-h, but far away lying on the white sands of a tropical isle surrounded by exotic fruit and warm sunshine lieth King and his Cinderella.

“…that Cinderella,” the King says, “and her brilliant plan. It was worth giving that wizard the kingdom. Isn’t retirement great?” Cinderella beams as she snuggles up with her prince charming.

Oh, and the step sisters. The wizard has found out they could cook. So he let them retain their youth and beauty. But they must remain in the kitchen as scullery maids with the added task of cooking. From their perspective, as long as they believe Cinderella got it in the end, they’re happy. So, let’s leave it at that.

Moira Gardener’s background is eclectic: from dentistry, to administration, then geriatrics and now writing. She enjoys her rural lifestyle on the Pacific West coast, and spending time with her husband of many years walking in the woods and on the beaches.

June 11, 2014

Fairy Tale Meal

Every so often, I write a post asking EC's friends what they would eat for a fairy tale meal. Which tale would inspire you? What would the meal consist of? Why?

Use your imagination. Tell us the delicious details.

Mine? I think it's a delicious array of nibbles of the kind one might find at the ball where Cinderella dances. Imagine cheeses, canap├ęs, gleaming fruit, luscious chocolates, wafer thin slices of ham, all washed down with delicious, sparkling liquids that have a magical taste.

For your inspiration:

    "Cinderella," by Harry Clarke. Bet she's hungry!

June 1, 2014

Fairy Tale Merch--Disney Does it, and So Can You, By Nora Stasio, Fairy Tale News Reporter

Fairy/fairy tale themed merch is hot!
This necklace is by Nora, see below.
I know I always say this, but it remains true--these days, fairy tales are trendy. From movies to books to video games, these classic stories are absolutely everywhere. The smartest of entrepreneurs have an understanding that now is the best time to sell Fairy tale-themed merchandise, and if you're creative and business-savvy, you may also be to cash in on the trend.

There's no dispute--whatever you're selling, the key to success is marketing. The folks at Disney have spared no expense in marketing their latest fairy tale epic, "Maleficent," and one of their major targets is young women with an interest in fashion. They've teamed up with Hot Topic Stores to create an exclusive clothing line inspired by Angelina Jolie's portrayal of the iconic villainess. There are currently seven items: three black dresses, one white dress, a leather vest, a grey tunic top, and a wickedly cool hoodie. So if you've ever wanted to dress like an evil fairy with a modern-day twist, it looks like now's your chance to grab some "Maleficent" swag. But I'd act quickly. The Batwing Hoodie was sold out before it even officially went on sale. In this case, it looks like the marketing is paying off.

With a little ingenuity, you can market any product to suit any particular trend. Here's a good question: Have you ever wished your afternoon cup of tea tasted like a fairy tale? If you've got an idea for a delicious new blend of herbs, spices, and exotically flavored teas, Adagio Teas will actually mix it together for you and have it sent right to your house. You can even design the logo that goes on the front of the package.

Adagio.com is a really cool website. Not only do they have a great selection of high-quality teas and "signature blends," but I'd recommend you check out the "fandom" section. People all over the world have been creating tea blends based on their favorite characters from film, TV, and literature, and if you like their concoctions, you can order them for yourself. There are teas inspired by Marvel Superheroes, Game of Thrones characters, even "One Direction" band members.

But of course, I'm more interested in the fairy tale teas. It seems most, though not all of them, are inspired by the Disney films, which isn't too surprising. A quick search for "Cinderella" brought me to Kayla Larson's "Cin-ful Cinderella" blend. It contains rooibos tea, black tea, apple pieces, cinnamon bark, and all natural apple, cinnamon, and creme flavors. Sounds heavenly, if you ask me. The flavor is, as she puts it, "inspired by Cinderella's sweetness and internal spice." I also like the drawing of Cindy on the packaging, which I presume was done by Miss Kayla.

I can definitely see myself creating some teas through this website. Have you ever tried it?

How about Etsy? A lot of artists are using Etsy.com, a global e-commerce site, to buy and sell vintage and handmade items of all kinds. The beauty of this marketplace is that you can make and sell basically item you want, with any theme or style you want. If it's unique and high-quality, there's bound to be somebody out there who has to have it. There are a lot of amazing artists all over the world making a lot of money by utilizing this great website. If you go there, you'll see for yourself. And your wallet will cry out in pain.

I actually just set up an Etsy shop of my own. The shop title is "Sense of Wonder by ShanghaiHilltop," and I sell handmade, fairy tale-inspired costume jewelry and accessories. I only have a few items up, and I don't have a nice camera to take photos with, so the shop is still very humble at the moment. In the future, I do plan on doing a fancy fashion photoshoot with my photographer friend, and probably also making a video to showcase my work. I'm told that without good photography, it's hard to get your work noticed on Etsy. So when I have the time, I'll definitely make that a priority. In the meantime, check me out here. (Editor's note: I LOVE the pieces Nora has made!)

So, who else out there is on Etsy? Or perhaps you make and sells crafts via other marketplaces. What has your experience been like so far? Are your items fairy tale-themed? If not, what inspires you to create art? I'd love to see all of your shops. Please, do share a link with us!

When it comes to selling fairy tale-themed merch, we may not be able to make as much money as Disney does... but money is money, and it's a fun business to be in, if you ask me. Because, in the end, an artist is filled with a deep sense of satisfaction when the money she earns, meager as it may be, is the result of a labor of love.

Can I get an amen? (Amen! from Editor.)

Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entirelife! 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)."