Filtering by Tag: fairy tale

Publication News: "Mr. Fauntleroy's Flying Family"

Admittedly, I haven't been struck by the blog muse this month. The only part of my life that seemed even remotely blog-worthy was that the summer rainy season has hit Florida - but I talk about the weather all the time. Surely you don't want to hear about how, for two weeks straight, the rain clouds stalked my car and unloaded only when I was one street away from reaching home.

I starting watching Dominion  if only for the world-building and Tom Wisdom's portrayl of everyone's favorite archangel, haha. Catching up with Sherlock, Doctor Who, and MST3K as well. And slowly making my way through the stack of books stacked underneath my bedside table. Then there's work. My job's been getting pretty exciting, but until I get comfy with my new role, I've been buried in manuals and training.

After a month of not much writing, not much blogging, and itchy eyes from staring at the computer at work (oh, and one paper cut), I'm thrilled to say that Gingerbread House, an online literary magazine that publishes poetry and fiction with magical elements, has just launched their 7th issue today... and one of my stories is in there: "Mr. Fauntleroy's Flying Family."

The coolest part about being published in Gingerbread House is that each piece is accompanied by artwork. Even cooler? The artwork used for my story was specifically created for the magazine by artist Natalia Pierandrei. Natalia's artwork is gorgeous; I can't express how honored and fangirly I felt when I first clicked on my story's page and saw a mysterious, melancholic harpy guarding her eggs (Georgina, for sure).

"Mr. Fauntleroy's Flying Family" is a favorite of mine. I have a thing for birds as a writer - I'll never get sick of writing about them, same as with stars, hearts, and other ethereal (and kind of creepy) things. Mr. Fauntleroy's quiet hope for a human child, despite loving the family he has, struck home with me the minute he tentatively stepped into my head. After a few years of trying to find this story a home, I'm so happy that Gingerbread House was the right place.

How has June been treating you? Any epic thunderstorms?  

Frozen, Retellings, and Mother's Day

As the grand finale to an entire weekend celebrating Mother’s Day, Mom and I sat back and watched both Frozen and Tangled. The two movies, paired together, made perfect sense, especially because I love the theory connecting Anna, Elsa, and Rapunzel together. I don’t really care if it isn’t true. It’s fun to think about.  

Anywho, I love both movies. I think that Tangled’s animation is more polished, but the music in Frozen is delightfully addicting.

However, I’m also a huge fairy tale fan and some things just sort of… bother me. I’m always in search of new retellings, whether in film or book form, and when I was poking around Goodreads, looking at Snow Queen retellings, I found a review that said something like this:

“… if you want a good retelling of the Snow Queen, watch Frozen.”


I cannot agree with this.

Because I think it’s fairly obvious that Frozen is not a retelling.

When rumors of the new movie were floating around, all signs pointed to the news that Disney was going to retell Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “The Snow Queen.” And I was thrilled. It’s a long, strange tale full of danger, longing, and hope trapped in ice. Gerda is one of the strongest fairy tale characters I’ve ever read, and I wanted badly to watch her entire journey unfold on the big screen.

But as (most) of us know, the movie took a completely different turn and is, truly, its own film. Frozen is Frozen. No retelling in sight.

Even with a time crunch, clever editing, and the combining of minor characters, it would be difficult to fit “The Snow Queen” into a feature-length film. That’s why most retellings for “The Snow Queen” come in mini-series form (I’ll get to that later).

If you’ve never read the original, what are you doing? You’ll need some time, but it will be well worth the read.

There are a few characters that you’d need for a legit retelling of “The Snow Queen.” I was about to make a list, except that I while I was surfing the internet during my lunch break, I found some great articles… and someone who said it better than me, by far:

"There is the Snow Queen herself, a formidable villain who’s power is treated with respect. There is Kai’s grandmother, who provides an essential catalyst to Gerda’s journey. There is the old witch woman with the enchanted garden who functions as a threshold guardian for Gerda while being characterized in a respectful manner that serves as a good subversion of the old witch trope. There is a female crow who knows how to sneak into palaces, a helpful princess who heads a side plot in which she will only marry a prince as intelligent as her (!!!), a robber and her daughter, head of a band of robbers who kidnap Gerda. The daughter is a spunky, knife wielding girl who befriends Gerda and aids her on her way. And finally, there are two women, the latter of whom helps Gerda understand the inherent power she has always had within her, a power that will ultimately save her friend, and the world."

The only characters The Feminist Fangirl fails to mention in here is Kay / Kai and the reindeer. With good reason. The point of her article is much different than my blog post. If you know me, you know I love a good story where a boy needs rescuing. My heart pounds every time I reach the moment when the Snow Queen steals Kai away. He's already damaged by then, after having absorbed poisonous shards in his eye and heart, turning him into a cold, cruel boy.

(SOUNDS LIKE HANS. MAYBE. I need to stop with the theories that may or may not make great Frozen sequel ideas).

Danger looms in the world because people have absorbed the mirror shards (mistaken for snow), but Gerda’s journey takes her beyond her home and into a place where crows talk, princesses read newspapers on pearl-thrones, and robber-girls can be persuaded to help you if you know what to say. Gerda’s love for Kai never wavers, even though she is severely tested by those she meets.

I could probably keep going, haha. Depending upon the ages picked or a retelling, Gerda and Kai’s love may just be friendship, or blossoming into something more.

Frozen is more about sisterly bonds, not marrying the first guy you meet, learning to embrace what makes you unique instead of hiding it away. While all fine lessons and great story material, it cannot be compared to Gerda’s journey.

Now then, before I switch gears, I’ll share my two favorite film adaptations of “The Snow Queen,” in case you’re looking for something that actually follows Anderson’s tale (you should). 

My most favorite adaptation. Yep. Hands down. And Hallmark Entertainment made it. This is a mini-series, allowing us plenty of time to get to know Gerda, Kai, and even the Queen herself. Four things I love about this series:

1)        Gerda and Kai’s relationship is romantic. What can I say? I’m a shipper. They are both teenagers in this version; Kai loves Gerda, but she’s still mourning over her mother’s death to notice her own feelings for him. But just as they start to come together, the Snow Queen strikes.

2)       The mini-series follows both Gerda’s journey and Kai’s, which is a first. Instead of being stuck doing nothing, Kai searches for a way out of the ice palace, tries to fend off the Snow Queen and avoid completing the mirror puzzle, and strikes up a shaky truce with the Snow Queen’s guard – a polar bear.

3)       The world Gerda travels through is sectioned off into seasons. There’s the Spring Witch (the same one, in the original, that tries to trap Gerda in her cozy cottage), the Summer Princess (a new version of the pearl-throne princess), and the Autumn Robber (the old robber woman, mother of the robber-girl). All three are the Snow Queen’s sisters, desperate to maintain their respective seasons despite the Snow Queen’s growing dominance.

4)       Most of the characters have interesting backstories, filling out Anderson’s fairy tale without distorting it too much. Everyone’s motivations are clear. Their actions have purpose. My favorite, of course, is finding out what drives the polar bear’s loyalty to the Snow Queen.

The second is, uh, pretty bizarre, but even more accurate to the original.  Made by the BBC, The Snow Queen is a blending of operatic songs with major CGI tricks that form to create disorienting and beautiful settings. Truthfully, this was a hard one to watch the first time (I mean it when I say the style is disorienting), but it grows on you. Certain scenes exude magic, and the showdown between Gerda and the Snow Queen is exciting. 

It’s hot outside. Freezing inside (I think I’m sitting underneath five air vents in my cubicle). Despite wishing I could wear a parka at work, my mind isn’t on the cold. 

Or so I thought. 

I've got my own retelling of "The Snow Queen" languishing on my computer. At 45k, just short of a novel-length manuscript, Tread Softly had been on for a while before I took it down, polished and sent it out, etc. Thinking about Frozen started a chain reaction, I suppose, and I started skimming Tread Softly for my own versions of the princess, Gerda, the crows, and the reindeer. To see exactly what I did with Andersen's beautiful fairy tale.

Brrr. Now I really need to burrow under a blanket. Too bad it's May. 

Deathless Press: Summer 2013 Review

Do you know what's more delicious than dipping your toes in the ocean or going parasailing? Indulging in Deathless Press's summer released chapbooks:

I've never considered myself an eloquent reviewer, but I want to make reviewing Deathless Press chapbooks a tradition. There are never, ever enough fairy tales in the world - and I've been enjoying the ones coming from this press.

Considering that my own chapbook POCKET FOREST was released in this bunch, I'm going to skip over it (of course) and focus on the other two chapbooks.

Catskin by Sylvia Linsteadt

CATSKIN is a retelling of a the same-named fairy tale, where a princess runs away from home disguised in a coat made of cat skins to avoid being married to her own father. This dark tale is a classic - but if you're not familiar with it, you may have read Donkeyskin, which is the most popular variant (at least, when it come to retellings).

Linsteadt breathes new life into her version of Catskin. The story opens with a girl named You (or Yew, as she prefers), living with her father in a lighthouse that demands time and care. When her father, heavy with drink, considers marrying his daughter, Yew runs away to escape him. Her travels take her into the woods where she meets the Mistress of Bobcats. The Mistress of Bobcats offers Yew a new identity and power, but not without payment.

The Mistress of Bobcats is a fascinating character: incredibly wise, yet untrustworthy. I enjoyed how well Linsteadt described the bobcat-who-is-also-a-woman, with shifting shadows and sharp teeth. When Yew becomes Catskin, she gains freedom from her father, and any other man who threatens her, but she also loses her humanity - which is perhaps a good thing, by the end of the tale. Maybe she becomes the best of herself. CATSKIN reminds me of "The Tiger's Bride" by Angela Carter: lush description, shifty characters, and an unforgettable ending.

Throw Down Your Hair and Then Yourself by A. A. Balaskovits

Rapunzel remains one of my top favorite fairy tales. There's something incredibly relatable to me about being trapped or limited in some way, no matter how much your "jailer" loves you. And then... there's always my favorite part, when Rapunzel's tears bring back the prince's sight (yes... I'm a sap. And proud!). However, Balaskovits's retelling, THROW DOWN YOUR HAIR AND THEN YOURSELF, is probably the most twisted and darkly shocking version I've read so far. And that's what made it so enjoyable, despite my penchant for the happier variants, haha.

Our Rapunzel narrator begins her tale telling us what her auntie has always told her: that she's a sharp thing. She's stuck in a tower, surrounded by soft things to combat her sharpness, until one day when a sweet-talking prince convinces her to leave her auntie and become a queen.

Life as a queen isn't easy, especially when her husband starts ordering the deaths of every citizen with a physical blemish. But as her auntie once said, our narrator is a sharp thing. And boy, does she ever strike back against her husband.

Even though this story started out as a Rapunzel retelling, I felt that by the end, I watched the narrator transform into the Evil Queen from Snow White. Did you ever see the movie Snow White and the Huntsman? Frankly, I dislike that movie, especially when people try to tell me that it was better than Mirror Mirror (weird, right? MM is totally better). BUT Charlize Theron played an amazing Evil Queen and her scary-wrathful beauty is quite like the narrator's transformation. Making, of course, a great ending to this chapbook.

So what are you waiting for? Go read these books! ;)

Publication News: Rose Red Review

Hallo! How's October treating you so far?

Although I'm still sweating in my shorts and tank tops, the world is starting to change. Ghosts hang like used tissues on tree branches. The grim reaper watches me as I dump half-price cheese balls into my shopping cart. I wish for bats, remembering how I saw them fly each morning while I wandered the outside hallways of my high school. Gads, I love Halloween spirit.

This month is also proving to be one full of, well, my stories.

This may be a late announcement, but the lovely Rose Red Review has published my short story called, "Scissors & Thorns." Hurrah!

You may want to read this story if you:

  • think scissors are magical
  • never underestimate the danger of thorns 
  • are partial towards clumsy boys with fishing traps

"Sleeping Beauty's Dream" by Catrin Welz-Stein
If you've been reading along, you already know that I have a thing for Sleeping Beauty. It's one of my favorite fairy tales. There are so many angles to explore, ideas to follow... and I feel like, one day, I'll end up with a giant pile of short stories and novellas that all center around it. After all, just look at "Tick-Tock Beauty," the short story I had written for Mossyhearth. I can't get enough.

In this case, the idea of what caused and sustained the thorny barrier in the original fairy tale was what started "Scissors & Thorns." Even if the good fairy had cast the spell to cover the castle in thorns, how could the thorns stay alive for a hundred years? Maybe by feeding on the all the boys that weren't the princess's true love... or maybe, well, the thorns weren't purely thorns at all. Hmm. Hmm. Go read the story.

In other news: two more stories will soon be published this month.

The first is a flash fiction piece that will appear in the first issue of the White Ash Literary Magazine.

The second is the first segment of an audio serial featured on the Tripod Cat.

Believe me, I'm excited to share these stories with you.

Slipper Talk

I made you many and many a song,
Yet never one told all you are --
It was as though a net of words
Were flung to catch a star;

It was as though I curved my hand
And dipped sea-water eagerly,
Only to find it lost the blue
Dark splendor of the sea.

- Sara Teasdale, "The Net"

I always view grocery shopping as an adventure. I love finding a new flavor of potato chips, admiring stunning packaging designs, and rolling my cart as if I were a tulle-trimmed skater along the tile floors. This past weekend had been particularity exciting; I found a pair of Hello Kitty shoes. Now, I like Hello Kitty, but other characters are more appealing to me (I'm not much of a pink person, besides). These shoes were black flats, with Hello Kitty's face sewed on as a patch over the toes.

I stopped the cart, gawked at them, and then check the sizes... children's shoes! Don't worry, dear readers. I was no deterred! The beauty of being short is that I can, on occasion, put my small feet to good use and do impossible things. I found the biggest size - four - and managed to slip them on with no problem. As I looked down at my feet, I was reminded of the Cinderella fairy tale. Her stepsisters tried to fit into her glass slipper but their feet were too big. I believe, in some variants, they even cut off parts of their feet to try to fit them into the slipper. I couldn't imagine cutting off my toes for these Hello Kitty shoes. But still, remembering that fairy tale put me in a bittersweet mood for the rest of the day.

Besides the small feet, I never used to associate myself with Cinderella. I didn't have stepsisters, or a stepmother, and probably did less chores than most children my age. One set of grandparents left the world early, so the remaining set, well, provided me with a grandmother who was better at finding coupons than changing a pumpkin into a coach. I wouldn't expect a stranger to crawl in through the window and change me into a girl ready for the ball. And - this is embarrassing - I never made friends with talking birds or mice.

But now that I'm older, I've found that I can understand Cinderella a little better. And acknowledge that, yes, I've done something that she had done.

Would you believe me if I said I left my glass slipper for the prince?

"She then rose up and fled, as nimble as a deer. The Prince followed, but could not overtake her. She left behind one of her glass slippers, which the Prince took up most carefully." - Cinderella

I've always felt that she left the slipper on purpose. Unless you're wearing flip flops, it's hard to just lost a shoe (without tumbling down the stairs and breaking a nose). She must have realized that, no matter how well of a time she had with the prince, she could never have hope of meeting him again without leaving a piece of her behind. You could say, in effect, that the glass slipper was a piece of her heart.

If you do believe me, then I'll tell you this: I made my slippers. Glass is too fragile, too transparent. Fur is too thick and soft. So when I reached for the materials that, I thought, would surely catch the prince's eye, I turned to paper and ink. I wrote until ink stained my fingers, until the text on the page transformed into a story wild with whale-song, lonely planets, and singing stars. The images shivered in the air like holograms, delicate as smoke, as I fashioned the tiny story-shoes around my feet. As Sara Teasdale writes, I had cast my net as best I could.

Rain drenched the walkways leading to the palace. I knew that if I wore the slippers, they would melt away like abandoned ice cream. So I kept them safe and warm inside my bag and trudged to the castle with sneakers. Water ran down my cheeks, clung to my hair, and when I stepped inside, no one paused to look at me. Unlike Cinderella, I had no gossip to precede me.

"There was immediately a profound silence. They left off dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so attentive was everyone to contemplate the singular beauties of the unknown new-comer." - Cinderella

I didn't dance with the prince either. After all, he was the one making the music. Bodies crowded the ballroom, bringing heat to the chilly, rainy evening. The music flowed into my veins and it felt, sometimes, like his voice whispered into my ears. When the ball ended, I stepped outside into the humid air; the rain passed away, leaving a trail of blurred lights and mirror-puddles. And I made sure, while holding my breath, to leave my slipper outside the castle gates. I kept the other one in my bag. A memento. Something to compare the other by if I woke up one morning the rhythm of a knock on my door.

I slept peacefully that night, awakening with the rags still clinging to my skin. The magical night seemed to be nothing but a dream, replaced my peasant thoughts like finishing homework, making breakfast, and finding quarters for my laundry.

The most important number in fairy tales is three. I've left paper-and-ink slippers twice. Perhaps the third time will be the charm.

First Photo from We Heart It, Last from SurLaLune.