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

The Fairy Ring Writing Contest Submission – Anna Meade

In the interests of being fair, I offer up to you my own submission to The Fairy Ring Writing Contest. I can’t win, of course, but I wanted to share my humble effort as I believe all writers are in this together. I hope you enjoy.
Violets by Anna Meade
“I want a man who’ll twine violets in my hair.”
I wrote this sentence and then doodled violets in the journal margin. My whimsy would be the death of me. My days were spent on the outskirts of the woods behind my parents’ home, sprawled under a tree on a faded blue-check blanket, barefoot and hair-tumbled and romantic poetry-addled.
I rolled onto my back, staring at the late summer sky. My too-long skirt tangled round my legs, so I sat up to extricate myself. The shadow fell over me then.
I squinted up at him in the sun, “Hello.”
He smiled and put a finger to his lips. His step barely stirred the grass. He took me by the hand to his bower, where we supped on honeysuckle and blackberries. 
“Every day I am with you feels like a year,” said I, idly leaning against his shoulder.
He smiled, so tenderly, and wound flowers through my curls.
His hands were gentle and his kisses were poignant. I stayed awake as long as I could, but my traitor eyelids fell. I slept so heavy, filled with ambrosia and dreams, and when I woke all the forest was in the chill grip of autumn.
I shivered and hurried back towards the edge of the woods, back to my parents’ home. I ran to the door and pounded, “Mother! Father! I’m back!”
The door opened and a startled wrinkle-raisined face peered back at me. “Are you looking for someone, child?”
I stumbled backwards and ran towards the forest, heedless of my way. I found my tree and beneath it, mostly buried in the dirt, I unearthed the smallest fragment of paper. It was weather-faded and nearly illegible, but I knew what it said:
“I want a man who’ll twine violets in my hair.”
Painting by John William Waterhouse; Photography by Andrew Kuykendall

PC Game Review – The Book of Unwritten Tales

The Book of Unwritten Tales begins with a “spirited leap” onto the back of a dragon and doesn’t let go till the very end, some 20-odd hours later.



The action in the game is third person point and click. You play as a number of characters throughout the game: the gnome Wilbur Weathervane, elvish Princess Ivo, Nate the human buccaneer, or his creature Critter who is a…creature.

Some videogames have annoying and repetitive music and voices. This is not the case with The Book of Unwritten Tales. The few times when I had to play in a quiet area, I got my headphones so I didn’t miss a moment.

In fact, the music and vocal work is truly exceptional, the soundtrack nuanced with believable sound effects. Unlike some games that force two voice actors to create five or six different voices, this game has a sizable vocal cast about a dozen and you can tell as you encounter people throughout the world.

The visuals are five star, a dizzying array of locales. There are icy mountains, underground caverns, and dark forests.



 The pacing of the plot dynamic and keeps you interested.  The puzzles range in challenge from easy to ‘scratch your head difficult.’  The game raises the difficulty by disguising objects so perfectly into the background that you can’t perceive them.

Several mini-games require a series of quick key presses to progress, which creates a little urgency in a linear game since you cannot progress otherwise. Like most adventure games, the player has to combine unexpected elements. Fasten the rubber chicken to the torture device to create a makeshift slingshot? Check.

You also often have to switch characters during cooperative play as you often need to use a character’s specific skill to solve a puzzle.

Lots of humor is written into both the dialogue and the tiny reaction animations. The designers don’t take anything too seriously, a great deal is tongue-in-cheek. There are countless gaming and geek references: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Advanced Dungeon & Dragons, Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, Magic: the Gathering, Mission Impossible…and those are just the ones I caught on the first go-thru.


Not only are there countless references in-game, but also musical jokes to those attuned to the soundtrack. Early in the game, Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” starts playing to underscore with ominous bassoon a risky venture by the main gnome. I often found myself laughing out loud.
If you are not a fan of puns, some of the humor in the game may strike you the wrong way (i.e. you encounter a cast-iron safe for saved games). On the other hand, who can resist cheeky termites talking in a Cockney accent?  “Get out of our sun, homeotherm!”

The game, however, is not without a few issues. The animation to switch characters is odd; they half walk in a circle around each other to swap instead of instantaneous, which gets old when you have to constantly switch. The same half-circle happens when going in and out of doorways and entrances.

Though the script is very good, the last few lines of dialogue in the game is in untranslated German. It was an odd way to finish, but a small mar of the face of an otherwise excellent game-playing experience.

Some lessons to take away from The Book of Unwritten Tales:
• Don’t tee off the trolls.
• If you can’t see the solution to the puzzle, it’s likely under your nose.
• Individually, tiny creatures are no threat. Collectively, they can cart you off and toss you into the bushes.

The Book of Unwritten Tales definitely gives you your money’s worth. The game is presented as a book, divided into five chapters. I’m quite adept at adventure games and I found myself stuck in several places for a day or two. I opted not to use the walk-thru, as that takes all the fun out of it.



Like any good tale, I did not want it to end and didn’t want to leave these characters behind. Does plucky little Wilbur have the courage to adventure forth and be a true mage? Do Ivo and Nate end up floating off into their own sunset in a gnome balloon? Well, I’ll let you play and write the story on your own.

There are strong hints of a sequel–“Maybe there’s another adventure out there for us,” says Wilbur–and there’s definitely room for more creative adventure games like The Book of Unwritten Tales.

Game Trailer:

You can also buy the full game as a digital download for only $29.99.

The Book of Unwritten Tales is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB

Article first published as PC Game Review: The Book of Unwritten Tales on Blogcritics.

Dancing With the Fairies – The Fairy Ring Writing Contest

 Hear ye! Yearning for Wonderland proudly announces their very first writing contest. Ever.

I know it’s what you’ve all been waiting for. Please calm yourself. No tears of joy, please.

By this point, you might be saying, get on with it!

Shhh, I am savoring…okay, here are the details.

This contest is in honor of The Fairy Ring (you know you want to read it! Or gift it to someone who believes in true magic in the world). For those of you who have not yet read my review of Mary Losure’s The Fairy Ring (Candlewick Press, 2012), please do so to know how amazing this prize is. I know several of my readers have expressed interest in the book – now is your chance to win it for free!

Galleys have graciously been provided by the beauteous Raquel Matos of Candlewick Press.

I will announce the winners by February 22nd. I cannot wait to see all the magnificent permutations of fae encounters that your creative minds will unleash. Let the games begin!

Additional Details (updated 2/14/12)
* The winner of the contest will have their link shared on the Google+ page of Candlewick Press, woot!
* The title does not count in the 300 word limit.
* In the spirit of the contest and the book, please no erotica or slasher horror. I love dark fairytales, but give us goosebumps not buckets of blood.
* Please visit all of the entries and comment – writers love feedback!
* WordPress blogs need different HTML – email me at annabbps at gmail.com if you want me to send you the alt. code.
* If you do not have a blog and would like to enter, send me your entry to the above email and I will post it on Yearning for Wonderland.
* We have an amazing new logo, courtesy of Ruth Long @bullishink

Comment with any questions. Here is the Linky Tool code to copy to your blog’s HTML:



Guilt and Other Goblins

When I envision Guilt, I picture a hunched over little man, maybe only 6 inches tall, with a screwed up angry face and a very pointed pitchfork. He pokes me with this pitchfork right in the gut, repeatedly. Today, I picked him up by the scruff of his little red trousers and put him out with the recycling. Maybe someone else can use Guilt today, because he is no longer welcome in my house.

Writers are very familiar with my little goblin, Guilt. Maybe theirs is taller and has a big spear, but the end result is the same. Jab. Jab. Jab.

There are times when Guilt is useful: “Watching that episode of ‘Downton Abbey’ for a -third- time? Go write, you lazy schlub.”

Thanks, Guilt.

But the majority of the time, Guilt is not useful: “I don’t care if you’ve worked close to open, close to open shifts all week! Why aren’t you writing? Who cares if you are falling asleep on your laptop? WRITE!” Jab. Jab. Jab.

To complicate matters, social media often dials into our sense of NOW, do it NOW, or you’ll fall behind. Who doesn’t feel a sense of urgency when you hear of other writers getting book deals, getting published, getting awards and kudos and you can’t help but think “AIGGGGHH! Why isn’t this manuscript done?”

The good news: for most of us, the only deadline is our self-imposed one. So cut yourself some slack. Do something other than write. Read a book, take a walk, watch a ball game, talk to a friend, cook an amazing meal and eat it, stare at your ceiling and play with your cat.

Let us collectively give ourselves permission to rest our creative brain. Ruining your health to satisfy your own inner deadline monster is a disaster. And, I hate to say it, but Guilt is never happy. He will keep jabbing you as long as you let him.

Your book will be there when you return, I promise. It’s sitting right there, beaming contentedly. And you may find that when you come back it is far easier to edit and tweak, now that you have some space.

Thus, my house is now officially a NO GUILT ZONE.

Sorry, Guilt.


This post was inspired by a conversation with my writing group, The NoInklings. Deep gratitude to Angie, Angela, Ali, Cara, Dasia, Daniel, Lillie and Ruth for keeping me sane during bouts of Guilt. And Laziness, my other goblin, but that is for another post.

Goblin image courtesy of the magnificently talented Tony DiTerlizzi.

Blog Hop, or Terror in my Soul

You may notice even though I frequently refer to writing on this blog, I have not actually posted much writing. That is because it’s far more pleasant to muse idly on the beauteous creations of others than to expose your own tender work to the knives of the internet comment board.

However, I have decided this is a cowardly stance. In support of my awesome and amazing writing friends, Lillie McFerrin, Daniel Swensen, Angie Richmond and Angela Goff, I am entering my tiny, humble piece-ling into their Super Cool Blog Hop Contest. In 300 words or less, write a piece of flash fiction, poetry or song using the photo prompt below. You can go here for the details. Below is my wee entry. *covers eyes* Okay, now you can read it.


Hour of Light
She kept walking. The Wood wasn’t bright enough this time of night, so she thought – luminosity – and it steadily grew brighter. Time and again, she had told the trees to grow in straight lines, but they never listened. The dark trunks jutted from the ground in irregular clusters, silhouetted in the gloom. She trailed her hand over the flowertops, gently dotting dewed petals with her fingertips.  As she brushed past them, they sang along with the wind in a lonesome susurrus. She placed a finger to her lips and tasted the dew; it tasted of memories.
This was how she always walked in the Wood, towards the light. The starflowers grew so deep this time of year; they were already above her knee. Her bare feet grew cold as she squished through the grass, so she decided it was warmer than she thought. 
 
She took great breaths of the air, scented with dead and growing things. The sky was growing steadily lighter, for she knew it was the hour of light. Sometimes when she walked through the mist, she could not decide which way was forward and which was back. So she kept walking. Was there a time she had ever not walked in the Wood? She finally reached the hanging light bulb and reached up, up, up so carefully on her tippy-toes. She pulled the cord and the light went out.