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Posts Tagged ‘Faerie’

The Greener Forest 300 dpi cover Every time I discover a new review of my books, my hands sweat and my heart thumps quickly. It’s always a little scary to see what a reader thinks of the worlds I’ve created. Perhaps they won’t like my story or language or characters or… Well, you get the idea.

I really appreciate my readers, and I try to not only please myself with my tales, but also, those people who part with a few dollars and open the (real or virtual) pages of my books. I’m thankful for readers and for their support, both when they purchase my books and when they take the time to review them.

Here are some Amazon reviews of The Greener Forest:

“A fantastic collection of short stories about the hazy boundary between our world and the hidden faerie world, with roots in archetypal fables (the good get rewarded, the bad get punished), but with branches extending into a more modern setting. Judging by the cover, I gather the author is also an accomplished artist, but sadly the interior illustrations were not made available in the Kindle edition. I wish I could have seen them.” – Mark Taylor  (Sorry Mark, Kindle versions usually don’t include illos. You can see some of the illos included in The Greener Forest on my website).

“Mrs. Crist has a wonderfully vivid imagination which is brought to life in these poems and stories. She is both an excellent writer and an extremely talented artist. The imagery in the poetry is beautiful, such as in “The Greener Forest”, “Late Winter,” and “Key.” What makes the stories truly touching and memorable are the relationships between the characters. “Birdling” reminded me of traditional stories of faeries and how tricky they can be. In “Appleheads” and “Blood of the Swan” the bonds of friendship and affection are truly magical and deep. In “Scarecrow” one is reminded to accept friendship no matter who or what it is from, and to do what is right despite what others say or think. As also in “Blame it on the Trees” we remember to look beneath the surface at what is within. Finally, we learn to respect the natural world, for it is very much alive, and the home of many creatures. Some of the other stories were very short and I wanted more from them, but nevertheless they were still imaginative and well-written. Well done Mrs. Crist. Well done. ” – AM

And a link to a post with earlier reviews of The Greener Forest Intrigued? Why not buy a copy?

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impossible I hope you answered the title question with a loud, “No!” If so, you’ll enjoy: No, you do not have to be ashamed of reading young adult literature

This is the 3rd week I’ve shared links to some of the articles posted recently about adults reading YA. If you missed the previous posts, here are the links: Against YA and More YA Discussion and Adults Read YA Books and Read What You Want and YA is Good for Adults.

Thursday, I’ll share the final post (for now) in this series about the adults reading Young Adult books bruhaha. I hope you’ll stop by and take a look.

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Brian Froud English illustrator, Brian Froud, is known for his fantasy illustrations of fairies, trolls, goblins, and other magical beings. A great quote from him which appears on his website: “I paint the spirit and soul of what I see.”

I believe illustrators and writers alike should strive to paint the spirit and soul of what they see – whether through words or watercolors. I know I do.

By the way, I took this photo of Brian at an East Coast FaerieCon. (Thanks Faerie Magazine for inviting me to attend). And I must mention, I’ve been collecting work illustrated by Brian Froud for years. While at FaerieCon, I asked him to sign a book or 2. He saw my bulging knapsack, and realized all books in the bag were illustrated by him – so he told me to leave the knapsack and stop by later. I did so, and much to my amazement, in each book was a small goblin drawing by Brian beside his signature.

I hope I will always treat my fans as kindly.

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Lily-of-the-Valley Fairy Happy Tell a Fairy Tale Day to all my readers. Like many of you, I fell in love with the magical, mystical, and miraculous world of fairy tales when I was a small child. And I’m still in love with this most wonderful kind of story. To celebrate, here’s a link to the beginning of Feathers, one of the fairy tales included in my new book, Owl Light: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/stories__more/happy_tell_a_fairy_tale_day

And remember to celebrate Tell a Fairy Tale Day every year by sharing your favorite fairy tale with a child or re-reading a fairy tale for the sheer pleasure of re-visiting a charming (though often scary) part of childhood.

Here’s to happily ever-afters! – Vonnie

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Miracles, mystery, and magic are three of the best words to describe my fantasy short story collection, The Greener Forest. In The Greener Forest miracles are possible. In “Angels,” not only do angels sing in the trees, but pieces of their trunks tell a carver’s hands what to whittle away to free the angel inside the wood. In “Birdling,” a young woman rescues, then cares for a baby bird, but doesn’t know how to teach it to return to the wild. A Brown Man comes to her aid, then “blesses” her with the ability to see and hear the faeryfolk that live in her garden.

There are mysteries to be solved in The Greener Forest, too. Why do spriggans skulk about cypress knees, try to sabotage boats, and wreak havoc near the Ferris Wheel in “Tootsie’s Swamp Tours & Amusement Park?” In “Appleheads,” three kids try to figure out what creature is lurking in Miss Greenspun’s garden. And by showing up unannounced in her backyard, they discover her true identity as the moonlight filters through the branches of an ancient tree.

Magic abounds in The Greener Forest. When a granddaughter places a bowl of milk next to the pond where her grandfather believed a dragon lived, she begins a magical ritual in “Weathermaker.” And in “Blood of the Swan,” a young man searching for a healer to cure his village of an unknown disease becomes entangled in the magical scheme of a swan maiden.

M could stand for mermaid. In “Shoreside,” a ningyo (a kind of Japanese mermaid) who’s married a man and had three children with him, swims into the ocean to save a drowning boy. Once in the waves, the sea begins to call to her, and she must choose between her land-bound family and a life in the water.

M could also stand for murder. In “The Garden Shop,” a would-be thief makes the mistake of trying to rob a shopkeeper who not only knows he shot a fellow small business owner, but happens to be a fairy ready to hand out fairy justice.

And lastly, M could stand for more. Because these stories and more lead the reader into the depths of The Greener Forest, where Faerie and the everyday world collide. There is dark and light, evil and good, and uncertain dusky gray lurking in between the pages of this book. Discover that all is not what it seems at first glance, and wondrous things still happen in The Greener Forest.

The Greener Forest can be purchased at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/Greener-Forest-VW-Crist-Amazon And please stop by http://vonniewinslowcrist.com and http://www.tinyurl.com/Fb-Vonnie-Winslow-Crist-Author

And on this most magical, mysterious and miraculous day, M could also stand for:  Merry Christmas!

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I love my readers, and so does my publisher. So, for a limited time, Cold Moon Press is offering its readers one of my stories, Blame it on the Trees, as a FREE eBook. Now, let me tell you how this eBook came to be…

Last January, I thought The Greener Forest, my 1st fantasy short fiction collection was complete. But Editor Katie had another idea: “You’ve got trees and tree images in all of these tales. I want one more story where the trees are a character that interacts with the rest of the characters.”

Yikes! Trees as a character. So, I thought about what sort of person trees might care about. I’d used fairies, a Brown Man, she-elf, applehead gnomes, swan maidens, mermaid, dragon, Mud people, and other nature spirits in the book’s stories already. I needed someone different. While leafing through A World of Baby Names [T. Norman] trying to find a name for a main character that might spark a tale, I spotted, Berg: “Directly derived from berg (mountain).” Woot! I’d found my name and my Faerie race: a giant.

I decided to write against type, and make my giant kindhearted. But where would a giant go to interact with others and why? My answers: a zoo, because he likes to hunt animals – with a camera, of course. What kind of job would a giant have? That’s easy – one where he counts gold, or in this case, money. So I made Berg an accountant. Besides being tall with big hands and feet, I also gave him the “typical” large, scary, yellow teeth readers associate with giants. But Berg is embarrassed by his ugly teeth.

Next, I need someone who chooses to interact with a giant. A damsel in distress seemed a reasonable choice. My damsel, Shelly, is a woman babysitting her nephew. Since opposites attract, I made her short and good with words rather than numbers.

And here’s where the trees come into the tale. From placing a wire-like rootlet on the path so the  stroller’s wheel gets tangled, to pushing up the sidewalk with a root and tripping Shelly, to shoving a teen into the grizzly bear pen – the zoo’s trees play an active role in the love story. And, yes, it is a love story.

blame it on the trees cover When Editor Katie suggested giving away one of my stories as a gift to my readers, Blame it on the Trees seemed a natural. Now, I needed cover art. I’d done a watercolor (with a few inks & a touch of acrylics) called Poet’s Moon which seemed perfect. A small square of the painting had been used by Scifaikuest as the cover art for their February 2012 issue, but over half of the painting remained unpublished. That half was filled with trees in the pinks and purples one often associates with Valentine’s Day.

So – a belated Happy Valentine’s Day to my readers. Visit http://tinyurl.com/vonnies-blame-trees-story for your FREE copy (or enjoy it as the last story in The Greener Forest should you like to read more magical tales). There is a time limit on the FREE, but I hope to have the eBook available for those who want a quick read for quite some time.

And should you decide to read either Blame it on the Trees or The Greener Forest, I hope you’ll take the time to “Like” the book and give it a brief review. Thanks, readers. I really do appreciate your support.

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 We’re right in the middle of National Magic Week – when it seems all the world acknowledges that magical things are still possible. And I think it’s no coincidence that Halloween is just a few days away. But rather than magic in general, I’d like to celebrate the illustrators (like Gary Lippincott pictured here) I met at last year’s FaerieCon who bring their visions of the usually hidden worlds of fairies, elves, trolls, giants, and such to the reader.

 I’m one of those devoted readers and appreciators of illustration who drags a knapsack worth of books to a conference and patiently stands in line for the signature of the artist or author. FaerieCon, held this year November 4-6 in Hunt Valley, Maryland, is a great place to meet these artist-magicians. Last year, I met the gracious Michael Hague (see my Jan. 6, 2011 blog) and the fabulous doll-maker, Wendy Froud (see my Dec. 12, 2010 blog) – but they weren’t the only artists I chatted with. Brian Froud (pictured on the left), Wendy’s husband and perhaps the most well-known fairy artist working today, spoke as part of several panels and shared his delightful tales of bringing Faeriefolk to life. And if you took the time to stop by and visit with the Frouds, both Brian & Wendy signed their books and chatted amicably with their fans.

 Faerie Magazine, www.faeriemagazine.com , usually hosts several illustrators and authors at their FaerieCon booth. Last year, the colorfully-dressed and always-smiling Linda Ravenscroft signed 2 books for me. She seemed happy indeed to converse with her many fans as well as talk a bit about her art. (Linda is pictured on the right).

For those who decided they wanted to know more about the business of illustration, businesswoman and illustrator extraordinaire, Jessica Galbreth, gave a workshop.  Not only did Jessica tell the audience about the ins & outs and ups & downs of life as an illustrator, wife, and mom – but those who registered for the workshop also received a copy of her Artists Manual. And as the owner of an autographed copy of that manual, I can tell you it was a worthwhile workshop. (Jessica is shown to the left).

And lastly, but never leastly, Charles Vess, autographed 2 of the Neil Gaiman children’s books he’d illustrated, for me to give as Christmas gifts to my daughter. This year, Charles has a wonderful painting that will be displayed at FaerieCon.  For those who’re interested, you can see the progress of the enormous painting on Charles’ facebook page. I’ve already got my copy of a book of his magical art ready to take with me to hopefully get autographed when I visit FaerieCon in a little over a week from now. (That’s Charles in the photo to the right).

And what of my illustrations? I had a successful exhibit of fantasy paintings this summer (sold 4). My illos have been published in a few speculative magazines recently, and are scheduled to a appear on the covers of several more in 2012. A small crocus fairy illo of mine will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Faerie Magazine as part of an ad. And of course, I included over 30 of my drawings in my recent book from Cold Moon Press, The Greener Forest. For those who’d like to read more about what I have to say about illustration, check out a guest-blog from me at Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog:
http://wp.me/p18Ztn-17n

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 Folks often ask me how to find the magical, and today’s response is, “Get off of the bus!” Let me explain… In 2009, I visited Scotland with my mom, sisters, and about 45 distant cousins that were part of a Scottish Clan Irwin tour. One afternoon we were scheduled to make a last stop at Balnuaran of Clava before heading back to our hotel. It was late and rain was beating heavily on the roof of our bus. We pulled into the parking area (which seemed to actually divide one of the circles of standing stones), and the tour leader asked, “Does anyone want to get out and walk around? It’s just a bunch of stones.”

 I raised my hand. Luckily, a couple of the other members of the group wanted to see the Neolithic graves with their Bronze Age standing stone circles, too. So a handful of us got off the bus bundled in raincoats and toting umbrellas. And the place was magical!

Balnuaran of Clava is one of a number of prehistoric cemeteries built more than 3,000 years ago in the Inverness region of the Highlands near the River Nairn. It’s surrounded by woods and farmlands — and on that gray afternoon, it was quite lonely. I took out my camera, doing my best to shield it from rain, and snapped a few pictures before the bus driver beeped the horn and summoned me back. But I could have stayed much longer in that misty woods.

 There were 3 stone cairns or graves. The one closest to the parking lot was a passage cairn. The central grave was a ring-cairn with no entrance into its pile of stones. And the grave furthermost from the parking area was also a passage cairn. According to authorities, each grave was constructed for a single individual, and as I touched the moss-covered, lichen-riddled boulders, I felt the ancientness of the site. And I felt it was alive with the unseen.

When I stood at the entrance to the far Southwest passage cairn, it became evident that it aligned with the entrance to the Northeast passage cairn. Later, I learned that alignment marked the Midwinter sunset. Perhaps the astronomical meaning was part of the magic I felt.

 The construction of the cairns seemed a bit haphazard at first glance, but upon looking closely, I could see stones were carefully stacked without mortar of any sort. To help stabilize the smaller rocks, large boulders had been placed around the outside of each grave as kerbs. As I examined the interior of one of the passage cairns, I could swear I heard a murmuring of voices along with the raindrops pelting rocks, leaves, and my raincoat.

Then, I noticed one of the standing stones that surrounded each cairn was split. For what purpose? I had no idea.  But the writer part of me imagined it was a gateway to Faerie or the past or another dimension. So I snapped a quick picture as I realized I was the last person at Balnuaran of Clava.

“I’m sorry I can’t stay longer,” I whispered to the spirits that seemed to hover nearby. I did not take a pebble or even a blade of grass away with me. To do so seemed wrong. Later, I heard one of the locals say that a tourist once took a rock from Balnuaran of Clava home and suffered so much misfortune that he later mailed the rock back to the Inverness Tourist Board. Perhaps the story is a bit of foolishness — but I had known not to take from the unseen amongst us.

 Because I got off of the bus that day in Scotland when others chose to remain warm and dry — I saw the magical. I experienced the mystical. And perhaps, I even caught some of that on film! The images published here have not been altered. The blurred areas in some of the pictures are most certainly raindrips or condensation or faulty photography of some sort. Or perhaps not.

I leave it to the viewer of these photographs and others who’ve visited the ancient burial and astronomical site of Balnuaran of Clava to decide for themselves. As for me?  I still believe the mystical and magical are all around us. And I write about it in my books: The Greener Forest, Owl Light, The Enchanted Skean, and elsewhere. (And here’s the Link for UK readers).

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I’ve been taking time out from writing to do some drawing & painting. I finished a fantasy watercolor painted in various pinks, blues, and purples called Poet’s Moon, then sent a bit of it off to an editor for cover art consideration. That bit will be the cover of the February 2012 Scifaikuest.

I drew a pen & ink, faeriefolk-infested maze for BSFAN, Balticon’s souvenir book to promote my book from Cold Moon Press: The Greener Forest. (I’ve received positive feedback from a number of attendees on the maze). I painted a sweet little fairy, “Crocus,” for an ad in the next Faerie Magazine. Plus, she’ll be matted & framed for an upcoming art exhibit – I’ll have to let you know after it’s published what folks think.

I painted 2 gouaches “on spec” for the cover of an upcoming speculative fiction anthology: Rush of Wings. (Hmm, I’m not sure if that’s the true plural for more than 1 gouache — that strange child of watercolor & acrylic paints). One painting, “Rush of Wings,” was declined, and I’ve since sent it out to another editor for another project. The other, “The Golden Egg,” is still being held by the RoW editor. Both speculative paintings just sold from an art exhibit I have at Bel Air Barnes & Noble (MD) for June 1-30, 2011.

Two other paintings have also just sold “off the wall” of my local Barnes & Noble: “Mermaid & Friends,” the cover art for my eShort Sideshow by the Sea, (soon to be included in my new book) and “Three Dwarves,” a watercolor used as cover art by the now defunct Lite – Baltimore’s Literary Magazine. For those interested, you can see the mermaid painting and also, “Acorn Sprite,” a small painting that another buyer has expressed interest in purchasing when the B&N show ends — at the art-gifts on this blog: https://vonniewinslowcrist.wordpress.com/art-gifts/

 I sent the 2 gouaches (mentioned in paragraph #2) plus a watercolor called “Strawberry Dragon” off to my local Society of Book Writers & Illustrators annual Jack Reid Scholarship for free tuition to their July conference. And, gulp, I won the illustrator’s scholarship, so my $195 tuition is being waived!

So what does this “sudden” artwork success mean? Should I stop writing and devote myself to illustration? I think not! I believe these positive responses to my artwork tell me the hours, days, weeks — actually years — that I’ve spent painting and studying art are being acknowledged. Practice has helped me to get better.

I’ll continue to practice my painting and my writing this summer. Hopefully, I’ll have good news in both disciplines. But most importantly, I hope to grow and improve so I can bring my readers better stories and more powerful art in the future. And I encourage all of you to practice whatever it is that you enjoy doing — and I bet you’ll see an improvement in your skill-level, too!

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Bonshaw Tower & Estate

Several people have asked me of late  why I chose The Greener Forest as the title of my first book of fantasy short stories. The title actually comes from a trip I took to Scotland with my mom, 3 sisters, and a bus full of distant cousins in 2009. These cousins are all associated with the Scottish Clan Irwin Association — and yes, if you go back a few generations, one of my ancestors was the American Revolutionary War hero, General William Irvine.

Drum Castle

The trip included visits to numerous historical and cultural locations: Edinburgh, Isle of Iona, Culloden, Fort George, Aboyne Highland Games, Urquhart Castle along Loch Ness, Glencoe, Aberdeen City Hall, Stirling Castle, Wallace Monument…

One of the most unique things about this trip was a tour of Bonshaw Tower & Estate in the border area led by present laird, Christopher Irving, and a tea hosted by his lovely wife, Claire. The second very special part of the trip was a tour of Drum Castle & Gardens given by David Irvine, 26th Baron of Drum and Chief of the Name and Lady Carolyn.

Drum Castle Greener Trees

It was while visiting Drum Castle, that I wandered into the woods near the small stone Drum Chapel. This little bit of Irvine woods seemed greener and more steeped in myth & Faerie than almost anywhere else I’d ever been. I was quite certain that if no one else was about, a hobbit or elf or other shy Tolkien creature might pop his head around the side of a tree and motion for me to follow them into the even greener depths of the forest. Or I’d stroll between an arch of branches and find myself in Narnia chatting with a faun.

More Drum Castle trees

And that’s when I decided the book of fantasy stories I wanted to put together should be titled: The Greener Forest.

My stories are certainly not equal to those of JRR Tolkien or CS Lewis, but I nevertheless try to put a little of the same magic into them. Readers, if you like fantasy, I hope you’ll give The Greener Forest a look. Writers, if you have the good fortune to travel — keep your ears and eyes open. You never know when inspiration will be standing in front of you. 

 And writers, remember Cold Moon Press: http://coldmoonpress.com  is actively looking for new authors. What do they want? Buy my book and you’ll see!

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