Yearning for Wonderland

There is such a place as fairyland - but only children can find the way to it...until they have grown so old that they forget the way. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again...The world calls them singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland. ~ L.M Montgomery

Book Review: Lies, Knives, And Girls in Red Dresses

There’s a dark, twisted underbelly to fairytales that modern parents generally do not acknowledge.

Early fairytales were often moralizing, cautionary tales with very real messages: do not walk into the woods alone, do not always trust the honeyed words of strangers, not every fair face is your friend.

In the original tale, the Little Mermaid feels like she is walking on swords when she uses her legs and dies in the end of a broken heart, returning to the sea as foam.

Edmund Dulac

 Our contemporary, sanitized and Disneyfied stories are pastel-colored and always have a happy ending. While there are dark moments (notably Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty terrorized me), we are comforted and secure in the knowledge that our protagonist will succeed in their quest, often accompanied by crooning crabs.

Failure, ruin and despair don’t have much play in modern fairytales, except in books like Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge (illustrations by Andrea Deszo).

Koertge makes no bones about his dark retellings; he writes on the first page:

“Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller. Do you want to think about the world in a new way?

Come closer. Closer, please. I want to whisper in your ear.”

Even the cover promises dark dreams: a lascivious red tongued wolf threatening to gobble a girl in a red dress.

These are true retellings. Do not look here for many happy endings. At best, his characters end up with their expected version of happiness, which isn’t so permanent after all. At worst, maiming, suffering and beautiful death.

If you enjoy the original Grimm Brothers stories, if you like your tales with a razor’s edge, Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses will be your cup of tea. The finely designed laser-cut illustrations from Andrea Deszo give the look of old-world woodcuts, adding a perfect punctuation to the dark-rimmed stories.

Here are twenty reimagined tales, written in free verse ranging from poetic prose to rhymed couplets. It reads like stories rather than poetry, though, and is quite easy to slide into.

My favorite is a series of five stories on Rapunzel, from the point of view of the mother, the father, the witch, the prince and Rapunzel. It will make you rethink Happily-Ever-After.



Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses is available for pre-order on Amazon. It releases July 10, 2012.

Thanks to Candlewick Press and Raquel Matos for the advance copy to review.

Once Upon a Time Writing Contest: Fan Favorite Contest!

ADDENDUM 5/4/12: The Once Upon a Time Fan Favorite Contest has ended! The winner, with a total of an unbelievable 47 votes is Cory Eadson (@evermore_evil) for his story, “Three Simple Words.” Go read it and comment and if you’re on Twitter, say congrats to Cory!

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*drumroll* HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Tis time again for that ever popular FanFav contest on Twitter. If you are not on Twitter, I hereby recommend you create a free account. Go on. I’ll wait.
Okay, now that you are on Twitter I will fill you in on this fun and fast-paced contest. All you need to participate is a free Twitter account.

This FanFav contest involves the entries of the Once Upon a Time Writing Contest (tag #ouatwriting).

First, go and read the 88 entries for the #OUATWRITING contest. Or just read your favorites. Or the authors who have the best thumbnails. Then choose your three favorite. I’ll see you in 72 hours when you are done. (Just kidding, the contest starts tomorrow, 5/2/12).

Contest Details:

* The contest is only open on Twitter. No other form of entries will be accepted.

* Each person can vote for a maximum of three stories.

* The contest is open for 12 hours ONLY, from 8 am EST to 8 pm EST on 5/2/12. All entries included in this time will be counted. All entries outside of that will be discarded.

TO CAST A VOTE:

* People will vote by tweeting the author’s name of their favorite story, followed by tags #fanfav and #ouatwriting. Both @SJIHolliday and I will be tracking and auditing votes separately for accuracy.

TO AUTHORS, I highly recommend you canvas for votes by tweeting your links, cajoling your followers, bullying, begging and earning votes by any (legal) means necessary in order to win this most amazing prize.

(And no, you cannot vote for yourself. Sheesh)

THE PRIZE:

Oh yes, this is what you were wondering about, wasn’t it? Remember that amazing contest I ran just a month or so ago: the Fairy Ring Contest?

The prize is a glorious professional audiobook recording of The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure (Candlewick 2012), narrated by Nicola Barber.

The audiobook is a brand-new release (List: $19.99) and 2 world-transporting hours away from our grey reality.

Are you ready for some hijinks? See you at 8 AM!

Illustrating "Violets" – Bringing Your Story to Life

The Fairy Ring Contest is finally over and, despite the fact I have lapsed into a semi-comatose state, it was easily one of the most rewarding writing experiences of my life. I met dozens of new writers and saw old friends create literary magic of their own.

I was awed by the willingness of all these creative people to donate their time, energy and brilliance to my little contest. One of these creators is Tina Ramey, an extremely talented designer.

Tina kindly donated an illustrated PDF to the winner of The Fairy Ring Twitter #FanFav contest, Ruth Long (@bullishink) and her entry “The Scourge of Clan Bethmoora”.

Check out the amazing job Tina did (jpeg of first page):

Tina found appropriate artwork, contacted the artist for permission and did a magnificent layout of Ruth’s story.

I was so charmed by the beauty of this work, I asked Tina pretty please for a illustration of “Violets”, my own Fairy Ring entry. She sent me this loveliness (jpeg of first page):

I loved it so much I wanted to offer her services to my writer friends. Tina has put together a page detailing her services; she has a short fiction special rate offered (see comments below) for Fairy Ring writers and fans of my blog. She can assist with all your digital publication needs, whether it be a tiny piece of flash fiction or your NaNoWriMo novella.

At only $15 for a 2 page flash fiction, you can’t afford not to have a great-looking presentation for your short fiction for your blog or portfolio site! Go see Tina and get your own pages of loveliness.

The Fairy Ring Flash Fiction Contest Winners

Despite some minor glitches with Blogger, I am determined to post the winners to our super-duper amazing Fairy Ring flash fiction contest.

This contest was held in honor of the release of The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure (Candlewick Press, 2012). Galleys have graciously been provided by Raquel Matos of Candlewick Press.

To qualify, entrants had to write a 300 word work of flash fiction about their fictional (or not) encounter with a fantastical creature. The entries were incredibly diverse: we saw stories of elves and faeries, unicorns and goblins, changelings and mermaids, ghosts, gnomes and killer fae that defied description.
Despite being 300 words, the stories were comical, tragic, silly, powerful, lyrical, dynamic, unexpected, horrifying and more. I strongly urge you, if you have not read all 54 of the entries (yes, you read that right), please go and click on the thumbnails at the bottom of the contest page. If you enjoy what you read, please consider commenting. A considered compliment is always appreciated.
Now, the prizes.

1st Place: A copy of The Fairy Ring and a 10 page edit by Anna Meade. They will have their blog link shared on the Google+ page of Candlewick Press.

2nd Place: A copy of The Fairy Ring and a 5 page edit by Anna Meade.

3rd Place: A copy of The Fairy Ring.

I have added a special category – the Yearning for Wonderland Award, the story that best communicates the idea of this blog. This winner will be awarded a guest posting on Yearning for Wonderland.
In closing, I must say that the caliber of writers in this competition made decisions practically impossible. If I had a dollar for every person who said ‘Gosh, I don’t envy you this decision’, I could switch to blogging full-time. I am no stranger to tough decisions – I have cast theatrical productions and judged other contests – but this was a whole other level of splitting hairs on excellence.
Without further ado, here are the winners.

1ST PLACE: MATT LANNIGAN for “TRANSPORTED”
My Photo“Transported”, Matthew’s story is paced perfectly. He slowly builds dread; the reader senses something bad will happen to little Izzy, but can’t help but go on. That is true craft. Also, who reading this has not lost themselves in a book to sometimes catastrophic results?
Matt wins a copy of The Fairy Ring book and a 10 page edit by myself. WOOOT!
2ND PLACE: STEVEN WATSON for “3 A.M.”
Steven’s entry took a classic backwoods cabin drunken love story and gave it a savage twist. Attention: it has a little sauce, for people who are bothered by that kind of thing…or for those who like it (PG-13). Not your grandfather’s fairytale and that is why Steven has won a copy of The Fairy Ring and a 5 page edit by yours truly.
3RD PLACE: KERN WINDWRAITH for “GREEN GROW THE RUSHES”

My PhotoKern’s excellent story was entry #54 and she linked it in, seriously, about 23 minutes before the contest closed. Not to encourage procrastination, but her masterful portrayal of childhood creepy set me back on my heels.  Kern has won her own copy of The Fairy Ring too!

YEARNING FOR WONDERLAND AWARD: DANIEL SWENSEN for THE DARKEST PART OF THE WOOD
Daniel’s story deserves special mention for its perfect balance of darkness and poignancy. His prose grabs you; I defy you to stop before the last line. He has been awarded a guest post on Yearning for Wonderland.
I should also mention the winners of our FanFav contest on Twitter, held on the 20th. Everyone had three votes, which they tweeted. The FanFav contest closed when the Fairy Ring contest did. After the votes were tallied, here were the results:
FAN FAVORITE: RUTH LONG for “THE SCOURGE OF CLAN BETHMOORA”
Ruth won the vote on our Twitter contest! Her award was an illustrated PDF of her story, courtesy of the talented Tina Ramey. You can check it out here.

HONORABLE MENTION: MCKENZIE BARHAM for “PLEASE SEND THIS TO MY FAIRY”
Mckenzie is our youngest entrant at 16, though you certainly can’t tell it from her sophisticated storytelling. She came in second on our FanFav contest.
Thank you so much for all those who entered, who promoted and shared. This has been a marvelous and humbling experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My gratitude is boundless. Thank you to Raquelle Matos of Candlewick Press, who offered the free galleys and triggered the idea. Thank you to Ruth Long who designed the Fairy Ring contest logo.

The Fairy Ring Writing Contest Submission – Thomas Loy

In his first flash fiction competition ever, Thomas Loy has sent us a piece full of nostalgia.


Dreaming of Heaven and Big Back Yards
 
As I long to stay awake, I can feel slumber being forced upon me and the thoughts of heaven and home begin to lay me down to sleep. As the sleep fairy takes me away to slumber town, I can see my home in Tennessee at the bottom of the long hill with the weeping willow tree and my big back yard. 
I saw the world in my backyard. The Big Orange played and beat Alabama everyday. The ivy walls of Wrigley Field and the maple tree was the big green wall at Fenway Park. 
The smell of fresh cut grass in the summer and fallen leaves in the fall. A picnic table to eat peanut butter sandwichs and drink cherry Kool Aid on hot summer days.
Dogwood trees were magic tents. Evel Knievel rode and Bear Bryant stood, leaning against the old oak tree. Normandy Beach was stormed many times and the battle always interupted by the call of my loving grandmother offering homemade biscuits and freshly fried chicken.
It’s where my first dog had her puppies. The Lone Ranger chased a thousand outlaws there. The swing where I stole my first kiss. Summer days and magic ways. Life has never been as simple since.
I believe there is a heaven. I believe we go as kids and our family waits patiently for us with outstretched arms, because heavens just another place just like my big back yard.

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