March 29, 2018

Fairies and Fan Fiction - William Gilmer

It’s not a stretch to call fan fiction polarizing. Its legitimacy is often questioned by self-appointed “serious” writers, even though it is one of the most prolific forms being written today. How prolific? Head over to FanFiction.net and see how many stories have been uploaded in the past day. I’ll wait.


Impressive isn’t it?

There are already mile long forum threads to show how non-productive it is to debate the validity of fan fiction, so I’m not going to throw my opinionated hat into that ring. I would rather use this space to highlight one example of fan fiction that is enjoying massive success – the modern, or fractured, fairy tale.

Not fan fiction you say? Do they utilize characters from other works in original ways? Do they explore worlds and settings created by others? Do they seek to deepen and pay homage to already existing narratives?

Sounds like fan fiction to me, and it’s thriving.

A quick internet search brings up numerous anthologies of “new” fairy tales published in the last year (After the Happily Ever After, Transmundane Press, Twisted Fairytales Anthology, Createspace Publishing, Fractured Beauty: The Fairy Tale Five, Tork Media -  just to name a few)

The 1991 movie, Hook, for example, is certainly fan fiction and was nominated for 5 Academy Awards. (we’re going to save the conversation about whether or not Peter Pan is an “actual” fairy tale for another time)

The ABC television series, Once Upon a Time, ran for 7 seasons and had an impressive list of Emmy nominations.

Both Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast have enjoyed new life with expanded live action adaptations.

So why is fan fiction being celebrated when it comes to fairy tales, and eye-rolled into obscurity when it deals with nearly any other genre?

Readers expect complete stories with well-constructed worlds and fleshed out characters.

Fan fiction usually doesn’t take the time to build worlds or characters. It relies solely on source material, and assumes that the reader has a strong understanding of the “canon” that came before it. This means that the fan fiction writer will either need to write about a literary world people are already familiar with or be content with a small readership.  


We all know fairytales. The majority of us grew up with Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood. When Once Upon a Time uses Cinderella in an episode, you already know her story. This social familiarity helps the story appeal to a much wider audience.


You might be wondering, “Well everyone knows Harry Potter, shouldn’t its fan fiction be just as popular?”

It might be, if it wasn’t for the giant elephant in the room - the dreaded copyright. Most fairy tales have been around long enough to slip into Public Domain, meaning that anyone can use the characters and settings without fear of infringement. Chances are, an author isn’t going to let a story that infringes on their copyright go far (anywhere but a web forum far), so most fan fiction that would appeal to a large audience is stopped before it even gets off the ground.


While an author can’t prevent anyone from writing fan fiction, they certainly can limit the amount of exposure a piece gets. Cease and desist letters can come quickly for the successful fan fiction writer.



Some fan fiction is written while the source material is still being expanded by the original creators, others are “officially” done, leaving fan fiction as the only way to keep these stories and alive.

Some of us sit around and wait for another visit to Hogwarts or that second season of Firefly. Others get to it themselves.


Regardless of your thoughts on fan fiction, I’m sure everyone can agree that it’s a labor of love. It comes from a place of wanting more of characters or worlds that have touched the reader in a special way.


It’s over for classic fairy tales. The originators of our Grimm favorites have been gone for hundreds of years. If we want another taste of those nostalgic stories, we have to turn to fan fiction. This void creates fertile ground for new writers to plant their own creative seeds. Fan fiction becomes more acceptable when it deals with works that can’t be expanded any other way.


It’s easy to split hairs with this topic. How exactly do you define “fan fiction” or “fairy tale”? Can Walt Disney's 1950 animated version of Cinderella be considered fan fiction, while the 2015 live action version is considered a remake?


My hope with this article was to highlight the seemingly contradictory way we enjoy, even celebrate, fan fiction’s creative borrowing. There seems to be something about fairy tales we can’t let go of, a magic that compels us to make special exemptions to get our next fix of forbidden forests, glass slippers, and fairy godmothers.


William Gilmer is a contributing editor at Enchanted Conversation Magazine and a writer and poet currently living in Michigan.
Follow him on Twitter @willwritethings 

Cover layout by Amanda Bergloff


March 26, 2018

Double Fairy Tale Flash - The Snake of Midas AND The Blank Night Sky

This week, Enchanted Conversation Magazine 
presents two Fairy Tale Flash stories:
The Snake of Midas by E.J. Hagadorn
and 
The Blank Night Sky by Kyle Bolan
We hope you enjoy them and share your thoughts
with the authors of these mythic tales in the comments section below.
While wandering through a hedge maze where the sun never set, I found myself in a courtyard, one of many I’d seen that day.

I stepped out of the shadowy passage, and the hedges grew and twined behind me until I was looking at a solid wall of green leaves. I knew well that no effort would take me back that way. The path was gone.

And just as before, the other walls of the courtyard had no opening at all.

Circled in by the high yew hedges, a green lawn sprawled out before me, and all around me were statues of gold. Under the clear sky they looked as if they were made of sunlight. Here was an old man kneeling in prayer. There was a young woman tying her hair back.  And over by the other end of the courtyard was a little boy picking his nose. All around me, at least a dozen expressionless faces looked up, down, and back.

As I puzzled over these golden statues, my eye caught a glint of silver.

Wrapped around the wrist of the praying man was a silver snake. Its scales shone like new, but they were tarnished in between, and its eyes were emeralds.

I examined the snake and saw that its back was hinged. I opened it and slipped it off the old man’s hand. Seeing nothing else to do with this bizarre bracelet, I clamped it onto my wrist.

Immediately, my left glove turned to gold.

I gasped and wrenched the glove off. Thankfully, my hand was still flesh.

I looked down at the glove. It was a woven net of beauty. I grabbed a fistful of grass and watched as it turned to gold between my fingers.

The elating potential of limitless gold filled me, and I thought of everything I could touch. I looked around for more wealth to make, but the sight of the statues froze my thoughts.

I stood in the midst of a golden crowd.

I looked down at the bracelet. Taking care not to touch my left hand, I pulled and prized with my right. But it wouldn’t give.The serpent gripped my arm, constricting itself, waiting for me to sneeze, or scratch, or wipe away a tear.

I pushed at the bracelet so hard I could feel the bones in my hand straining underneath.  As my fingers curled back, they touched the silver bracelet, and it turned into gold.

The bracelet unhinged and fell, where it lay between my glove and the grass, which had crumbled into piles of golden dust.

I looked up. A dozen piles were wisping and curling away in the warm breeze, while across the way, a gap was growing in the hedge.

Drawing my cloak closer about me, I crushed the snake under my heel and left the courtyard.


E.J. Hagadorn is the author of numerous works of fiction and poetry. He spends his spare time visiting dead authors and making webcomics.
Check out his websites: www.ejhagadorn.com
www.authorgraves.com
Follow him on Instagram: @oscar_and_edgar
There once was a time when humanity worshipped many godlike beings. The most overlooked of these was the god of men’s psychÄ“ who oversaw men’s souls. He was often overlooked because he was no more than a soul himself, a whisper in the wind.

The task given to him by the Deity, the god of all the gods, was to collect the souls of the recently deceased and dispose of them.


All the other gods saw this as the most unimportant task because the souls of humanity meant nothing more than a drop of rain in an ocean. But the god of souls saw this as the most important task for a god to perform because the souls of men were so beautiful. The beauty surpassed that of even the gods themselves.


He thought that humans should be able to see the beauty of what was within them all, and that the beauty of men's souls should be seen by more than just him.


He began to place the souls he collected from the deceased up in the night sky, for back in these days, when there was more time ahead of humanity than behind, the night sky was blank and contained nothing but the gaping maw of darkness that characterized the night. He thought this way, the souls could be admired by all the inhabitants of the earth.


Soul by soul, the night sky slowly became illuminated, and death was not feared because it meant a place in the heavens where a person could be remembered always.


The Deity, though, did not like this. Humans did not deserve to be immortal like the gods, by having their souls placed in the limitless sky. They did not deserve to be more beautiful than anything else in creation.


So, the Deity, the god of the gods, had the head of the god of souls chopped off and placed in a chest so that he would never again be able to gaze upon the beauty he had created--the stars. The Deity also had the god of souls’ arms removed so he could no longer place souls up in the night sky. His arms were then replaced with wings, for wings represent knowledge. So, giving wings to the god of souls was a perversion of this meaning for he no longer had a head to contain knowledge.


The Deity then placed the god of souls up in the night sky by arranging the stars to create an image of him for all to see, wings and all, to further defame the god who was thinner than the wind.


But, young one, the Deity did not succeed in defaming the god of souls because we still remember him for who he was and what he did for humanity. The memory of him goes on, like the beauty of the stars in the once blank night sky, and my love for you.


Sleep well little one.



Kyle Bolan writes horror, sci-fi, and fantasy stories. He spends all of his money on books and records.
Follow him on Twitter: @KyleBolan

Story Graphics: Amanda Bergloff

March 23, 2018

Story Inspiration - Photo Reflections from Thailand by Kiyomi Appleton Gaines

This week, Enchanted Conversation Magazine would like to thank, Kiyomi Appleton Gaines, for sharing her photos and thoughts from her recent trip to Thailand. We hope Kiyomi's art and words can serve as story-inspiration for our readers.
The old city is in ruins, falling down, overgrown with trees and plants. The forest is taking it back. Yet still they know the way along the old paths and animal trails.
They climbed into the old temple, ruinous and crumbling, steps worn by a thousand foot falls and weathered by the years. They climbed to the place where the image used to sit, of the one they and they ancients worshiped. Behind it was an alcove, hidden in darkness, thick with mosquitoes and damp. Outside the sun was setting.
Stairs curved now, down, as many as they had climbed up the crumbling edifice, and more. The air was heavier here, and grew cool. Their candles flickered, casting shadows and illumination over images engraved on the walls of their descent; images offering instruction to those who would come to this dark and hidden place.


Wax droplets covered each step, wax pools reflecting the path taken, the points of pause and lingering where others had come before. They could feel the slick and slightly greasy wax beneath their bare feet as they walked, a contrast to the grit of each rock chiseled stair. They did not linger at the images, their instruction unnecessary after long practice. They could hear the dogs outside as night fell, and then, later, inside, the trickling of water.
They carried offerings; rice, water, flowers, fruit, incense. The food and water are always consumed when they return.
The image of the old one they worship is gone, long degraded, broken by wear and time, or ruined or removed by others who do not follow this old way. But they still know where to come, how to pray, what offerings to make. The old city is in ruins, yet still they come.
All photos by IJGaines/KAGaines

Kiyomi Appleton Gaines is a contributing editor at Enchanted Conversation Magazine who writes stories and articles inspired by folklore and fairy tales. 
Find more of her writing at A Work of Heart
and follow her on Twitter @ThatKiyomi

Cover by Amanda Bergloff 

March 19, 2018

Fairy Tale Flash for Spring - Beloved

All the assembled Elementals 
held their breath and waited...
Air waited impatiently, stamping her feet on the ground.

Fire wondered aloud why they were always kept waiting.

Earth said it had always been this way.


Winter moved off on the horizon and disappeared.


All was still.


A curtain of mist fell across the landscape, and the assembled Elementals all held their breath.


Then, the curtain parted, and she stepped from the Beyond in a delicate shimmering cloak that glittered with all the power of starlight and dreaming. Droplets of water most pure intertwined to form the sheer silver fabric that took four maidens to hold up


It was time for the flowers and the land to be awakened, and only her touch could do it.


All bowed before her when she walked by, and she nodded in their direction.


Where she passed, gentle rain called the flowers forth.


Air, Fire, and Earth all sighed. They knew they were in the presence of pure endless beauty, and their beloved one had returned.


The wait had been worth it, and the world bloomed into its Ethereal Spring.
Amanda Bergloff writes modern fairy tales, folktales, and speculative fiction. Her work has appeared in various anthologies, including Frozen Fairy Tales, After the Happily Ever After, and Uncommon Pet Tales.
Follow her on Twitter @AmandaBergloff
Check out her Amazon Author page HERE
HAPPY SPRING to all! Thanks for reading my story, and please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you! -Amanda


March 16, 2018

March Artist Spotlight: John Anster Fitzgerald by Kate Wolford

You’ve seen his work if you are any kind of a fairy art aficionado. The backgrounds are densely layered with little creatures and fantastic plants, while the foregrounds dance with exquisite, ethereal fairies. The colors are sumptuous and vibrant and make the colors in real life seem pallid in contrast.

John Anster Fitzgerald (1819-1906) was known as “Fairy Fitzgerald,” during his lifetime, which encompassed the entire Victorian era — a time when fantasy and fairy tale illustration was booming. His dreamy works held their own next to paintings by Pre-Raphaelite super stars like John William Waterhouse and Edward Burne-Jones.

Yet unlike the Pre-Raphaelites, Fitzgerald was not chummy with his peers. He seems to have been a self-taught artist, although he did exhibit at prestigious institutions like the Royal Academy of Arts. Maybe his family life kept him too busy for clubbing with other artists, as he had a wife, Mary Ann Barr, and at least six children.

Despite his domestic duties and his solo path as an artist, Fitzgerald may have enjoyed some personal time in the opium dens that flourished in Victorian times. One of his famous paintings is called “The Pipe Dream” and considering the many little goblins, ghouls and sprites that populate the dream’s landscape, it seems that Fitzgerald knew a thing or two about opium and/or laudanum. Drug use was rampant in 19th Century England, and many celebrated artists and writers succumbed to temptation.

Speculation is about all we have to go on when it comes to Fitzgerald’s life and work, but his paintings are so layered and lovely, we can assume that he had a first-rate imagination, was a keen observer of nature (he didn’t just paint fairies and goblins), and mixed colors like a champion.

One of his most celebrated paintings is “The Fairies’ Banquet.” It’s layered with all manner of pretty beings decked in astonishing hats, but also some deeply strange “other” creatures with antennae. The morning glories that loom over the banquet are lifelike, giving the painting a link with reality. You can stare at that painting for an hour and not see everything.

Most of Fitzgerald’s paintings were independent of stories and plays, but he did work inspired by “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “The Tempest.” His “Ariel” shows Shakespeare’s spirit draped on a branch, yet his weight looks like it might be too much for his bough. And his eyes have a weird, mischievous look. Every Fitzgerald painting has a touch of malice mixed in with the gorgeousness.

Fitzgerald’s work is hugely popular over 100 years after his death. His works are all over Pinterest and quality prints are cheap to buy and frame. For those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, below are some of his best. In order, they are “The Pipe Dream,” “The Fairies’ Banquet,” “Ariel,”“Titania and Bottom,” “Fairy Hordes Attacking a Bat,” and “Fairies Looking Through a Gothic Arch.”

Do you have a John Anster Fitzgerald favorite? If so, share below!

Kate Wolford is the founder of EC and a contributing editor to the magazine. She's also a freelance editor whose books, Beyond the Glass Slipper, Krampusnacht, Tales of Krampus, and Frozen Fairy Tales can all be found at her Amazon Author Page HERE.
Follow her on Twitter @EnchantedConvo
and on Pinterest HERE.

Graphics: Amanda Bergloff

March 15, 2018

Hitting the Wall by A.M. Offenwanger

What nobody had told me was that
the folklore about frogs is different...

EDITOR'S NOTE: Just a reminder that submissions for the April "Animal-Themed" issue will close on March 20th. Read all the details HERE. Until the new issue comes out, please enjoy A.M. Offenwanger's "animal-tale" of a frog and many princesses called, "Hitting the Wall."

“Become a frog,” they said. “You’ll have pretty girls lining up to kiss you. Sure way to get that girlfriend.”
So I hoofed it over to the nearest witch. It only took a little bit of taunting about gingerbread and little kids for her to lose her temper and zap me. Whoosh, there I was, developing a taste for entomology (house flies, I learned, are a good staple food; mosquitoes work well for a snack—they leave a nice metallic buzz on the tongue).

But what nobody had told me was that the folklore about frogs is different in Europe. Girls read fairy tales from books there, and the way the old Grimms tell the story isn’t what I’d always heard.
It was a nasty surprise.

She was a beauty all right, that first girl—flashing black eyes, dark curls, a figure to die for… She took me to her bedroom, and I sat on her hand, puckering up in anticipation. Then—Splat! I hit the wall. I’m not sure what was worse, the pain or the shock.

“Oh well,” the girl said, “you’re obviously not the right one for me,” and she tossed me through the open window into the garden.

I sat stunned for a moment, then absentmindedly shot a black fly out of the air to console myself. Trust my luck to get a psychopath on the first go, but there were always other ones.

The next girl looked sweet—ethereal and blonde, classic princess material. I sure got my hopes up, until—Splat! “Oh damn!” said the sweet princess, and she left me lying injured on the sidewalk. I hid in the bushes for a few days until my sprained foot recovered.

After that, they became a blur—blonde, black, redhead, dark-skinned, pale, tall, short... I was punch-drunk from all the walls I’d been thrown at, and I developed a neurotic twitch at the sound of high heels clicking towards me on the pavement.

So when, after weeks of this, one more pair of female hands cupped around me and raised me up, I just closed my eyes and waited for it to be over.

“Look at you!” she said. “Aren’t you a cutie! You’re a Pacific tree frog, right? I’ve never seen one of your kind before!” At the gentle sound of her voice my eyes popped open. A pair of soft brown eyes looked at me out of a freckled face.

“Ribbit?” I said weakly.

“Oh!” she cried, delighted. “You even have an accent! Our frogs here just croak, ‘scraaak’. I almost don’t want to try—you’re so cute as a frog. Are you a prince?”

I almost shook my head, but something stopped me. I blinked my froggy eyes at her.

“Okay,” she said, “I think the safest is if you do it yourself.” She raised me up until I was within a few inches of the moss-covered brick wall that I had been thrown at at least twice before. “Go ahead,” she said softly, “jump at it, little Frosch.” She ran a gentle finger over my back. “Don’t hurt yourself.”

That’s what did it. None of the other girls cared one bit about me as a frog; all they wanted was the prince. This one—was different.

I gathered my legs under me and leapt.

And then I was on my back on the hard sidewalk, staring up into the tree branches hanging over the top of the wall, which looked much smaller now. A freckled face came into view, its eyes wide.

“You are!” the girl said. “You’re my prince!”

She bent down and kissed me.

And that kiss was worth every single second of being a frog.

A.M. Offenwanger, contributing editor at Enchanted Conversation Magazine, is a writer, reader, blogger, and editor.
Follow her blog Amo Vitam
and follow her on Twitter @amoffenwanger
and on Facebook here


Cover layout by Amanda Bergloff

March 12, 2018

Double Fairy Tale Flash - The Life Changing Magic of Getting Your Teenage Wizard Son to Tidy Up AND Pizza Pot

This week, Enchanted Conversation Magazine 
is featuring two Fairy Tale Flash stories:
The Life-Changing Magic of Getting Your Teenage Wizard Son to Tidy Up by Lena Ng
and 
Pizza Pot by Kerry E.B. Black
We hope you enjoy them and share your thoughts
with the authors of these tales in the comments section below.
The young wizard, over the dusty grimoires, rusted talismans, and ancient amulets scattered over the floor, waved his wand and intoned the tangled spell. His arms hung mid-air in anticipation.

Nothing happened.

A head poked into his room. "What about the magic of tidying up? There's a whole book written about it."

"Can't you see I'm busy?"

"It's supposed to change your life."

"Mom, magic is performed to astonish and amaze. Not to clean the toilet."

"I'm amazed I'm still alive. Last week I was almost trampled by a pirouetting bison."

"That's because I pronounced a spell word wrong.  It's supposed to be 'syllables', not 'silly bulls'."

Mom wrinkled her nose at the magically malodorous smell. "If you don't clean up your room, you can't borrow the keys to the broom."

"FINE."


Lena Ng is a writer and poet from Toronto, Ontario.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in several anthologies and magazines including:  Just Desserts(WolfSinger Publications, 2016), World Unknown Review III (Editor L.S. Engler, 2016), Devolution Z (Jan 2017 issue), Monsters Among Us (Bloody Kisses Press, 2017), Polar Borealis Magazine (July/Aug 2017 issue, Spring 2018 issue), Gathering Storm Magazine Issue 2 (April 2017), Gathering Storm Magazine Issue 4 (Aug2017), Antimattermag.com (Oct 4, 2017), The Quilliad Issue 9 (Oct 2017), and Killing It Softly 2 (Digital Fiction Publishing Corp, October 2017). "Under an Autumn Moon" is her collection of horror/fantasy short stories.  She is currently seeking a publisher for her first novel, Darkness Beckons, a gothic romance set in the Victorian era.
A tiny man thrashed but couldn’t free himself from a tangled fishing line.

Virginia rubbed her eyes. At fourteen, she felt well past the age of believing in fairies, even if one struggled at her feet. Still, there it was, and being a sensible person, she decided to help him and sort out the belief issues later. Besides, her big sister would return soon, and Virginia didn’t want to explain a tiny humanoid to her.  

“Hold still. I’ll free you,” she said, brandishing her pocket knife.

The little man shrieked.

“I’m not going to hurt you. Hold still or I might accidentally.” The line bit into her fingers.

Soon, the fairy brushed his aspen-green suit loose. He tipped his head and narrowed his eyes. “I didn’t ask for your help, you know, so I don’t owe you anything.”

Virginia pushed to a stand. The little man barely cleared the top of her worn fuzzy ankle boots. “I didn’t say you did,” She scowled, “but a thank you might be nice.”

He covered his mouth as though shocked by her language. “I’ll give you one wish.”

Virginia snorted. “Really? Like in…” she paused, about to say, “like in the fairy tales?” but remembered the obviously not-human creature. “Well, my sister and I are hungry, but I don’t want just one meal or something.” She licked her lips, and her stomach growled. At that moment, she’d have been satisfied with one meal, but how often does one see - let alone rescue – a fairy? “Our parents died, and we’re taking care of each other.” She studied her worn jacket-hem.

The fairy steepled his fingers beneath his nose. “I could give you an enchanted cooking pot. It’ll make whatever you want to eat.”

Virginia’s mouth dropped open. “Anything?”

“Certainly.”

Her stomach imitated a bear waking from hibernation. “Can I try it to see how it works?”

The fairy’s face split with glee. “It’s on the bench behind you.” He climbed the wooden bench leg with the skill of a squirrel. “What do you want?” He waggled his eyebrows.

She whispered, “Pizza.” A slice bubbled from the pot. She seized and bit it. Buttery, cheesy, chewy crusted, basil and oregano-rich goodness. “Mmmm.” Virginia closed her eyes, savoring.

“Sounds like you’re satisfied. I’ll be on my way.

When Virginia opened her eyes, her sister glared at her. “Where’d you get that?”

Virginia pointed to the pot and a second piece. Then another. And another. Such was their hunger that neither asked questions, simply stuffed their stomachs until full.

“How do you turn it off?” Virginia searched her surroundings, but no little man explained the mechanics of the pot. It produced piece after piece of delicious pizza without pause until the girls grew fat on it and then began selling pieces until they grew wealthy. They fed pizza to the hungry, but never would the pot stop, and so nobody in their community went hungry ever again.


Kerry E.B. Black would love to share an intriguing view of her elegant estates and sumptuous gardens, but those places reside only in her imagination. In fact, her home is little more than a little suburban doll house surrounded by herbs and flowers, a bog, and a meadow where magical fogs creep on wolfish paws to clothe the mornings. She spends her days as many Americans do, balancing multiple schedules and worrying over finances. Nights she reserves for visiting the fantastic world of writing.
Please visit the author at www.facebook.com/authorKerryE.B.Black
https://kerrylizblack.wordpress.com/
and follow her on Twitter @BlackKerryblick

Story Graphics: Amanda Bergloff
SITE DESIGNED BY PRETTYWILDTHINGS