January 25, 2019

FAIRY TALE FLASH - What Happened by Roppotucha Greenberg

Our ancestors didn't quarrel much,
but their child was a monster...
Our ancestors, transparent, caring, wracked with old pains, were at our wedding. They came to bless us, had a sniff of the champagne, slow-danced, fell in love and moved in together. I didn’t mind sharing with them at first. They kept a dog and a few chickens. You could hear the faint clucking on summer mornings. They didn’t quarrel much. She let a few mugs fall, and he made the air tingle a few times, that’s all, but their child was a monster.
It was not its fault. His parents had suffered too much injustice when they were alive. My husband’s ancestor was an illegitimate son of a rich landlord. There’s a song about it, the one with winter, and a small cold child, and the mother crying at the closed gate. My ancestor was worn out by war; in her village war came every year; people spoke about it like a season. To avoid conscription, you could try to change your name or chop off your finger, but it didn’t always work. She never complained. Their child, the monster, inherited their black anger. It rattled the walls, pulled out the plants from the flower beds and blew up and down the chimney. Late at night it whispered into my husband’s ear, and it made him mad. When he shouted at me for not doing the dishes on time or for burning the roast, I felt frightened. Our home became a dark and chaotic place.
I didn’t realize what was happening soon enough. The ancient spirits were too fond of their child to help me. Besides, it really wasn’t its fault. The old house is long gone, so the monster is outside; you can tell by the way the branches shake. We have split up, so I wonder: is there any point in looking to placate it and address the old wrongs? I have so little time now, because the monster ate up a lot of my years, but maybe I should make an effort: look for recipes in old folios and secret websites, leave out a saucer of milk perhaps? Or some toffee to ease the pain, even for a short while, just to stop shouting, take a look around, and begin to half-dream of other things.
Roppotucha Greenberg writes micro-fiction and flash fiction.
Follow her on Twitter @Roppotucha
and check her out on Amazon HERE

Cover: Amanda Bergloff

January 22, 2019

NEW RELEASE - Skull & Pestle: New Tales of Baba Yaga by Kate Wolford

Our favorite anthologist (and founder of Enchanted Conversation) Kate Wolford's new book was just released!

Skull & Pestle: New Tales of Baba Yaga is now out from World Weaver Press and available HERE.

In this anthology, Kate Wolford has collected seven unique tales of Baba Yaga, the iconic witch, that will transport you from a Tsardom far away beyond high white mountains and vast icy steppes, to a swamp in Alabama, to impossible paths lit by the supernatural eyes of a skull...and beyond.

In “Vasilisa the Wise,” Kate Forsyth tells the classic Russian fairy tale of a girl with a pure heart that encounters Baba Yaga and performs the impossible. Lissa Sloan’s “A Tale Soon Told,” is a bittersweet reflection on a life seen in three different phases under the subtle guidance of the all-knowing grandmother. “Baba Yaga: Her Story,” is author Jill Marie Ross’ take on Baba Yaga’s origins, of Koschei the Deathless and how lost souls can find one another and become family.

Set in a place where folktales and the horrors of World War II tragically meet,“The Partisan and the Witch,” by Charlotte Honigman, tells the tale of a girl’s bargain with Baba Yaga for weapons to kill three who cannot be killed. Here, the dead can help the living, and a blessing can scare even a powerful witch.

A mysterious old crone in the swamplands of the American South helps a motherless girl find her true calling in Szmeralda Shanel’s “The Swamp Hag’s Apprentice.” In “Boy Meets Witch,” by Rebecca A. Coates, doing impossible chores for a witch is the least of a boy’s problems once the spell he asked her for takes effect.

And the anthology culminates with Jessamy Corob Cook’s, “Teeth,” a tale of sisters, jealousy, guilt, sacrifice, and revenge.

So tell the hut to stop spinning so you can pour yourself a cup of tea from the samovar. Sit by the warm fire to enjoy these stories, and when you’re done, think of the favor or question you would like to ask, because Baba Yaga is waiting...

Baba Yaga knows all.

January 19, 2019

FAIRY TALE FLASH - The Old Woman Who Threw Dirt by Rhonda Eikamp

"What have you done, old woman?
What have you given them?"
"Only their heart's desire."
An old woman wished to enter the palace. She wore no finery and had no gold with which to bribe the guards. The guards tittered at her.
"I have cake," said the woman.
The cakes she drew from her vest were honey-soaked and seed-choked. One taste and the guards fought among themselves for more. She tossed cakes aside and they hurried to collect them, shoving at one another, while she hurried into the palace.
A courtier stopped the old woman at the throne room. He wore a pinched face and the fiery cloak of authority. "You've no right to be here," he snapped.
"I have meat," said the woman.
From her vest she drew a giant platter bearing a flank of roasted boar. The meat popped with juices. The scent of happiness, with a red center. Licking his lips, the courtier snatched the platter and huddled in a corner, tearing into the meat with tooth and nail, while the old woman hurried on into the throne room.
The king and queen sat upon their thrones. The king, young and virile, dozed, and his face in repose was that of a god. His queen sat lovely beside him, in glowing drapes of silk and damask. In her arms she held their newborn child. In all the land there was no happiness greater than theirs.
The queen frowned at the old woman. "Do I know you?" Her ears caught the sound of the courtier's gorging, the scrabbling at the main door, and her gaze hardened. "What have you done, old woman? What have you given them?"
"Only their heart's desire. They have so few desires."
"And have you something for me?"
"My daughter, I have dirt."
From her vest the old woman took a handful of dirt and stepping close she threw it in her daughter's eyes.
The palace vanished. Around them lay a dank cave, of spiderwebs and fungal drippings. Salamanders darted over the boulder that had been the queen's throne. The queen cried out. Her dress was sodden leaves, peeling from her. The child in her arms was a stick. She dropped it.
Beside her dozed a great brown bear, with old blood on its claws.
Lights faded in the young woman's eyes. "But, everything…"
"Come, my daughter."
"But how–"
Out they went, through the cave's mouth, past a red fox that slunk away with a mouse in its jaws. "Who did this to me?" the girl gasped.
"Some enchantments are of our own doing."
They went past sparrows that tittered and fought over seeds. The girl's tears dropped on them. Hesitating, she turned to look back, and her mother waited. There lay the young queen's palace in its glory. The stick, the bear.
"My arms will ache now forever." Her voice broke the old woman's heart. "Why couldn't you have left me there, if I was happy?"

"Because one day he will wake up."
Rhonda Eikamp is from Texas and lives in Germany, where she works as a translator. In addition to her story "Unburnished" in EC, her work has appeared in Lackington's, Lightspeed and Unlikely Story. In the Welsh tale of The Woman Who Went To Fairyland, magic ointment reveals the true fairy world, but she began to wonder: what if the fairy world were the illusion?

Cover: Amanda Bergloff

January 14, 2019

CELEBRATING WINTER - Quotes, Art & Folklore

and Enchanted Conversation is celebrating
with some quotes, art, and folklore!
Winter is the time of year when I'm inspired to read more, enjoy meals with family and friends on a cold night, walk in the snow, and dream by the fire. The season of winter has inspired beautiful art, tales, poetry, and song...so please enjoy some wintry ones I've picked out below to inspire you this season!

"I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, 'Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.'"
--  Lewis Carroll

10 Strange Signs Predicting a Hard Winter
  1. Woodpeckers sharing a tree
  2. Pigs gathering sticks
  3. Ants marching in a line rather than meandering
  4. "See how high the hornets nest, 'twill tell how high the snow will rest"
  5. Early arrival of crickets on the hearth
  6. Thick hair on the back of a cow's neck
  7. Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands
  8. Muskrats burrowing holes high on the river bank
  9. Spiders spinning larger than usual webs and entering the house in great numbers
  10. 3 snowy owls flying overhead together during daylight hours

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."  -Edith Sitwell  
Winter Reading Nook Goals
because it's a valid excuse to stay home when it's snowing 
to spend the day reading in a cozy nook...
"In the winter she curls up around a good book 
and dreams away the cold."
Ben Aaronovitch, "Broken Homes"
"There is no winter without snow, 
no spring without sunshine, 
and no happiness without companions."
-Korean Proverb

"Antisthenes says that in a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered, and after some time then thaw and become audible, so that words spoken in winter go unheard until the next summer.
-Plutarch, Moralia  

Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter
This 19th-century palace, located in southwest BavariaGermany, has inspired many authors and artists with its fairy tale-style appearance. It has appeared prominently in several films through the years, as well as serving as the visual inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.
"Brew me a cup for a winter's night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight:
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I'll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair."
-Minna Thomas Antrim
5 Soups to Warm the Winter Soul
Watch the recipe below:
"In January
it's so nice
while slipping
on the sliding ice
to sip hot chicken soup with rice.
Sipping once
Sipping twice."
-Maurice Sendak, In January

"The twelve months...
Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,
Showery, Flowery, Bowery,
Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,
Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy."

-George Ellis

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
Love of Winter, George Bellows, 1914

The Snow Queen, Charles Robinson

Winter Landscape, Iványi Grünwald Béla

The Dance of Winter and Gnomes, Arthur Rackham

Winter Bullfinches, Bruno Liljefors, 1891

Gerda and the Reindeer, Arthur Rackham

Storal Park, Julian Onderdonk, 1900s

December 22, 2018: the Cold Moon
January 21, 2019: the Wolf Moon
February 19, 2019: the Snow Moon

Check out EC's
A Winter's Rhapsody issue
Share what you love about this season 
in the comments section below!

EC's editor-in-chief, 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