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Posts Tagged ‘Fairy’

Some gardeners are practical sorts with a focus on tidy rows and neatly-trimmed shrubs. I am not one of those gardeners!

I like the look of a garden that is unexpected – one with little nooks and crannies and surprises. I have quite a few cement animals and gargoyles hidden here and there amongst my flowers. I enjoy the surprised and delighted looks on the faces of children and the young-at-heart who spot the hidden garden statues.

I’ve decided to add a Fairy Garden to my backyard this year. And why not? Surely, there must be sprites and gnomes visiting my garden along with the rabbits, squirrels, snakes, crows, toads, and various other woodland creatures.

For a magical article with pictures of fairy gardens, check out a recent post, Fantastic Fairy Gardens, from House of Hawthornes.

Happy gardening, and happy fairy watching!

 

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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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“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

A fan of fairy tales since I was three, I agree with Einstein! I read fairy tales along with lots of other books to my kids when they were small, and now read to my grandkids. Fantasy, whether fairy tales or other corners of the genre, encourages readers to lose themselves in another world where tough moral issues can be dealt with and not seem too “real.”

I wrote an essay, Fairy Stories, Magic, and Monsters, published in the Little Patuxent Review, on why we like make believe worlds. I’ve posted the entire essay on my website for you to enjoy.

How do you feel about fairy tales?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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Angels aren’t confined to heavenly choirs and altar paintings. I believe their enchanting presence can be felt everywhere. And that’s how I present angels when I include them in my writing.

The angels in the 10th story in The Greener Forest sing in the trees. They also tell a wood-carver named Porter what to carve, and who to give his angel carvings to. Yes, I’m geeky enough to have selected Porter’s name because according to several baby naming books, “Porter” comes from the Latin “keeper of the gate.” How appropriate a name for the man whose wooden angels transform into real heavenly beings and lead the newly dead to the afterlife.

At the moment, I’m working on a story that features guardian angels. These comforting creatures are near the central character all of the time, and leave feathers for him to find as a sign that they’re watching over him. (A polished version is included in my book, Owl Light, so you can read what the guardian angels do in “Feathers” there).

How many of us have found a feather in the grass or at the beach or on the sidewalk? Sometimes I view these feathers as a gift from the wild birds that I feed. Perhaps they’re a sign an angel is close at hand. Or a swan maiden. Or even a fairy with feathery wings rather than one with butterfly-like wings.

If the feather I find is tattered or in ill-repair, I still say, “Thank you,” to whom ever left it for me. Then, I make a small wish (just in case the feather has got a pinch of magic) and place its shaft’s tip in the earth. I’m returning the feather to nature, and perhaps it will be useful to a forest creature of the animal or magical kind.

If the feather I find is whole, I thank the giver, and take it home. In my house at Wood’s Edge, I have jars filled with gift-feathers. Whether crow-black or sparrow-brown or cardinal-red or gull-white, every time I glance at the feathers, I feel blessed by the spirits of nature and the angels.

To read an early version of my story, Angels, for free: http://tinyurl.com/vonnie-angels

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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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 At November’s FaeryCon, I had the honor of meeting and chatting briefly with illustrator extraordinaire, Michael Hague. An admirer of his work for many years, I’d brought along 2 books with hopes for an autograph. Not only did he sign, The Little Mermaid, but he sketched in ballpoint pen a wonderful mermaid and fish on the first pages of the book. His sketching style, quiet manner, and kind smile reminded me of Pop (my grandfather) who used to spend countless hours drawing with me when I was a child. I must admit to being a little misty-eyed when I thanked Michael and turned to leave.

“Wait, isn’t that Tolkien’s World?” Michael asked pointing at the unsigned book I held.

 “Yes,” I responded, and began to explain I didn’t want to take too much of his time since there were other fans waiting in line for autographs. Michael waved his hand in the air, then proceeded to sketch a roaring dragon’s head opposite his painting of “Smaug the Magnificent” from The Hobbit.

 Born in the Year of the Dragon, those legendary creatures remain my favorite fabulous beastie. And in 2010, not only did I manage to place my dragon story, “Weathermaker,” in Dragon’s Lure: Legends of a New Age and became the proud owner of a Michael Hague dragon sketch – but I just learned that a recent review of Dragon’s Lure features a paragraph about “Weathermaker.”

So thanks to BSC Review and their book reviewer. For those who’d like to take a peek at the review: http://tinyurl.com/review-of-dragons-lure (Paragraph #4 focuses on “Weathermaker”)

 And now, to begin a dragon sketch of my own!

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 At the recent FaerieCon, I attended a clay sculpting workshop led by the delightful, Patricia Hedegaard. (Shown to the right of text). Ten attendees were each given a lump of clay and 2 black beads. We borrowed Patricia’s ceramic tools, and with her patient instruction — 10 strangely different goblins were born.

 And though the medium is different (words instead of clay), creating a goblin character for a story is much the same. The writer begins with a heap of words and possible ideas in her head. She begins to separate the words, stringing a few together at a time, and eventually shapes them into sentences.

 Next, the writer gathers the sentences into paragraphs. She edits her descriptions, reveals the goblin through its actions (rather than telling), double-checks her folklore and legend references for accuracy, and tosses the faery creature into a plot with a few twists and turns.

 And if the writer is lucky or skilled or a little bit of both — a well-rounded goblin character appears. Whether the nasty, nose-picking spriggans of “Tootsie’s Swamp Tours & Amusement Park” or the mischievous gremlers of “Waiting for More” or the shape-shifting bogle and goblin from “Appleheads,” I had fun creating an assortment of goblins and their kin for my new book, The Greener Forest, due out in March 2011 from Cold Moon Press: http://coldmoonpress.com  And I also had fun creating the little goblin to the left.

My challenge to you: Take time out of your busy schedule to create something magical whether in words or clay or the medium of your choice. And check out the brand new publishing company – Cold Moon Press.

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For those of you who like Egyptian myth and lore, a poem of mine called “Immortality” is now up at EMG-Zine, an online science fiction/fantasy magazine: http://tinyurl.com/vonnie-immortality  This magazine always has interesting art, non-fiction articles, poetry, and stories. Check out their archives for many of their past themed issues. (I have a poem in their Raven, Dragon, and Spider issues).

And speaking of poetry, I’m busy writing a few more poems to compliment the short stories in my soon-to-be-published collection of fantasy work called: The Greener Forest. The titles of some of the finished poems: Goblins, Dark Fairy, The Greener Forest, and On the Edge. Well, I guess you get the idea – there are fantastical creatures of all sorts mingling with the regular folks in these poems and short stories.

 Also, get ready for several posts with pictures and information from this fall’s FaerieCon. I met some wonderful artists and writers, and sculpted my own goblin.  And speaking of poetry and FaerieCon — award-winning writer, Jane Yolen, read a number of her marvelous poems. Not only did many of the audience members (me included) have tears in their eyes when Jane read her poetry — but facilitator, Wendy Froud, was on the verge of crying, too.

Good writing is a powerful thing indeed!

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I rarely wear a watch. In fact, people who’ve known me for years have never seen a watch strapped to my wrist. Why? Because they always break. I’m not talking about being dropped or smashed or stomped – no, no. The watches just stop working.

I’ve been told by some people my body has too many electrical currents. Hmm. Others have told me that there must be something magnetic about my body. Since I haven’t noticed any nail filings clinging to my ankles, that seems unlikely to me. And then there’s this explanation that’s come from friends, strangers, and family members: fairy blood. It seems according to legend, someone with fairy blood jinxes technology.

I, of course, give no credence to such foolishness. There must be a more logical explanation for why the toaster wouldn’t work today (like many days) when I plugged it in and pushed down the levers – not once, but thrice. Witnessing my dilemma, my husband stepped forward, plugged the wretched toaster in once, pushed down the levers, and it worked perfectly. Argh!

 I’m sure it must have been a coincidence that his afternoon as I awaited a phone call, the house phone went dead. Much to my chagrin, the television in the background lost reception at the same moment. And as my husband used his cell phone to call the land-line telephone company to inform them of the loss of service, I saw we no longer had internet.

The loss of internet service happens often to me. I’ve become practiced in the steps necessary to reboot our router. What to unplug, how long to wait, when to replug. Usually, I go through the steps three to four times before the internet is functioning or I give up. When my husband comes home on those days, he shakes his head and goes through the steps once. Once, and bingo! The internet is perfect, and feel like a fool. Of course today, the internet was dead because the cable was out-of-service. I guess it’s Murphy’s Law.

And I hate to even discuss flashlights. I buy them, put new batteries in them, use them once or twice, and they go dim. The next time I turn them on – they won’t work. I replace the batteries and fiddle with the connectors, but they still won’t work. If flashlights continue to refuse to work for me and the moon isn’t bright enough, I guess I’ll have to start walking the dog in the evening by torch light.

Electrical currents, magnetic body pulses, Murphy’s Law, or fairy blood – technology and I are often at odds. Which brings me to the desk light – the bulb just went out. And so, by the computer screen’s dim glow, I’ll sign off before it, too, is jinxed.

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