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Posts Tagged ‘Fairytales’

Beth-Barany_360by270-cropped Author and workshop leader, Beth Barany passed the baton to me on this blog hop. At the same time, she passed the baton to James C. Wallace II And Dan O’Brien. We’re all to answer 4 questions about our writing process. And almost every writer likes to chat about their writing process, so this is an easy post to write.

My Writing Process:
1- What are you working on now? Actually, I have several projects in the works. I know that seems like it would be confusing, but I have a short attention span, so it helps me to move from project to project until I’m nearing the end of the first draft. That said, when I work on a second draft, I focus on one book at a time. I’m currently writing the follow-up book to The Enchanted Skean (a Compton Crook Award Finalist), a YA science fiction novel, a YA urban fantasy, and a non-fiction historical book. Plus, I’m working on illustrations for a picture book.
2- How does your work differ from others in this genre? I think coming from both an illustration and writing background, I “see” the world of my books as I write them. Also, having taught creative writing, especially poetry, for over a decade, I think I bring the poetic emphasis on the senses to my prose.
box of clovers 3- Why do you write what you do? I believe the world around us is filled with mystery, miracles, and magic, so it’s natural I’d include those things in my writing. I’ve been in love with myths, fables, fairy tales, and folklore since I was a child, so my writing and illustrations are filled with a sense of wonder. By the way, I found my first 4-leafed clover of 2014 today on a walk with my granddaughter – I’ve already slipped it inside the pages of a book. Once the clover is pressed flat and dried, I’ll add it to one of the jars of 4-leafed clovers I have on my shelves. Magic really is everywhere around us.
4- How does your writing process work? Something inspires me – a word, something I see or hear, an over-heard conversation, a “what if” thought about an ordinary moment. Then, I mull the idea over in my mind. Quite often, I dream parts of the story. By the time I actually begin writing, my fingers can’t keep up with my brain! Editing can be tiresome for me – but I know it’s necessary. I revise, polish, submit the manuscript to publishers, and repeat the process.

If I can wrangle a couple of writers into accepting the baton, I’ll post their bio and blog links here. Until then, keep on the look out for 4-leafed clovers! And here’s a question for you: Fellow readers (and writers), are you interested in a writer’s process?

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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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 If you’d asked me a year ago what a podcast was, I wouldn’t have known. But I’ve since become acquainted with the technology that allows a writer to share audio recordings of their stories (or poems) with listeners.

Although it’s intimidating to sit in front of a microphone, book in hand, and read — at least I can click on a button, stop the recording, delete the dreadful version, and re-record. Only Sandy the Black-Mouthed Cur knows how many times it took to get a useable recording — and she’s sworn to secrecy.

Public readings aren’t so forgiving. If you stumble on a word or mix-up a phrase or mispronounce your main character’s name — there’s no erase button.

 I have Broad Universe http://broaduniverse.org  that wonderful organization for women who write (and illustrate) fantasy, science fiction, and horror, to thank for pushing me into the world of podcasting. They have a monthly podcast anthology program that presents the work of their members. I participated in the May 2011 “Celebrating Motherhood” and September 2011: “Fairy Tales for Grown Ups” programs.

You can go to the Broadpod site and listen to my first 2 attempts at reading & recording  excerpts from 2 stories included in The Greener Forest:

“Birdling” – http://broadpod.posterous.com/may-2011-celebrating-motherhood – “Birdling” begins 1 minute & 51 seconds into the podcast.

“Blood of the Swan” – http://broadpod.posterous.com/september-2011-fairy-tales-for-grown-ups  – “Blood of the Swan” begins 19 minutes & 47 seconds into the podcast.

Just forgive my mistakes. I hope to get better at podcasting. Who knows, I might even manage to put together some music and a complete short story in the future and post it on iTunes. So take a listen, and enjoy!

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The theme of the upcoming issue of the Maryland-based literary magazine, Little Patuxent Review, is “Make Believe.”  I’m delighted to say I’ll have an essay titled, “Fairy Stories, Magic, and Monsters,” in that issue.

Though I need to address Editor Laura’s suggestions, the essay will remain much as I first wrote it. In examining our enduring fascination with fantasy, I was able to use examples from stories by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, J.K. Rowling, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Neil Gaiman, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Nancy Werlin, March Cost, and Charles Dickens. But I could have written a much longer, more involved essay which included the work of dozens of other authors who’ve given readers magical worlds to inhabit as they turned the pages of a book.

 In my new book, The Greener Forest, I tried to bring a bit of that magic to my readers. Have I succeeded? Only time will tell. But I did receive my first email from someone who bought a copy of The Greener Forest, reprinted here with permission:

“Hello! I bought a copy of your book at the Mythic Faire in Maryland.  I finished it in one sitting–I couldn’t put it down.  Thanks for an enjoyable read; your stories were sincere &  full of wonder and joy. Keep up the great work! — K. Masters”

And thank you, K. Masters, for your note. Writing is a solitary passion and it’s nice to know that someone besides your editor enjoys the fantasy worlds you’ve created. Want your copy of The Greener Forest? Visit: http://coldmoonpress.com/quickbuy.html  And remember, the world is full of mystery & magic. We just need to look, listen, and believe that wondrous things are still possible.

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 The saying goes: Faeryfolk live in old oaks. And I love faeryfolk. Maybe it’s because I adore oak trees and made tea party place-settings from acorn tops when I was little. Maybe it’s because I wove huge daisy chains and danced every chance I got in mushroom rings. But ever since I was old enough to hold a book, I’ve been fascinated with fairy and folktales and the creatures who populate those stories. And though I adore the butterfly-winged fairies that sail the breezes and ride mouseback to great celebrations in the deepest parts of the forest, I like lesser-known and darker members of Faerie, too.

Trolls are one of my favorites. The under-the-bridge troll of The Three Billy Goats Gruff is fearsome indeed, but the trolls of the northern woods of Scandinavia are often viewed as nature-helpers. These trolls are responsible for tending plants and animals. I decided to make the trolls in the fourth tale in my children’s book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, non-threatening. In fact, they’re comical in appearance and quite fond of snow, unicorns, and playing chess.

Another one of my faeryfolk favorites are stray-sod pixies. Stray-sods have grass growing from their backs. They settle in a meadow or other grassy spot and wait for the unwary pedestrian to step upon them. As soon as a person steps on its back, a stray-sod twists, turns, and confuses the careless hiker. Stray-sods are one of the faeryfolk I’ve included in a novel-in-progress I’m working on.

I’ve included a kelpie in a poem. A kelpie is a waterhorse who waits in moving water for a foolish or curious person. Climb onto a kelpie’s back and you’re likely to be at least dunked if not drowned and eaten. But there’s also something touching about a horse with a shaggy forelock partially hiding its wide set eyes poised at the edge of a stream begging to be petted. Perhaps the kelpie is truly lonely and not just hungry.

And what of the swan-maidens of Celtic tales? Healers and were-creatures of great beauty and shyness, I’ve often wondered under what circumstances would they be bold and vengeful. That bit of speculation resulted in my short story, Blood of the Swan, due to appear in a soon-to-be-printed anthology.

Even goblins make appearances in my writing. I have several varieties of the much-hated goblin race in my looking-for-a-publisher YA novel, The Enchanted Skean. Though there seems to be little to love about them, the main character, Beck, wonders if the goblins also have names and families. And spriggans, rude and obnoxious cousins of goblinkind, appear in one of my short stories currently “out” awaiting a publisher’s decision to accept or reject.

Mermaids are sometimes portrayed as sirens luring men to their death. I played against that type in my eShort, Sideshow by the Sea. Still, I didn’t discard the death-by-merfolk idea all together. Though the protagonist, Dusana, is a sweet girl – the mermen in the story carry knives with sharp, curving blades.

So as spring arrives, sit under an oak, read a fairytale, and look for the lesser-known faeryfolk. Perhaps they’re peering at you from behind a shrub, dangling from a branch above your head, or skulking in your cellar way. Just beware, all fairies are tricksy!

Learn more about Vonnie’s writing at www.vonniewinslowcrist.com

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 As I sit with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit open on my lap, I’m thankful for the wonderful speculative fiction that I read as a child. It was those books from long ago that stirred my imagination and inspired me to write stories.

I still have a stack of 10-page fairytale booklets, published by The Platt & Munk Co., Inc. in the early 1930s, given to me 1 at a time for “something to look at” when my parents visited with an elderly friend on the other side of Baltimore.

Before I entered kindergarten, I’d taught myself to read during those visits using Cinderella, Chicken Little, Dick Whittington, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Tom Thumb. And who knows, maybe the seed for the precocious opossum in Assassins formed as I read Platt & Munk’s Puss in Boots.

Three of my favorite books when I was a second grader were Ruth Stiles Gannett’s My Father’s Dragon series. In her tales, right under the noses of people in the “real world” lived a family of blue and yellow dragons. I had such vivid memories of the beautifully-colored dragons. I didn’t realize until I bought a copy of the books years later as an adult that the pictures were rendered in pencil. The stunning hues of the dragon family had been imagined by me. And dragons remain one of my favorite things to draw and write about.

Perhaps the most serendipitous introduction I had as a preteen student to the world of magic and folklore came from the librarian at Perry Hall Elementary. In the fifth grade, I’d rush through my regular classwork, and then, ask to go to the library to help put books back on the shelves. By the end of the year, not only did I know the Dewey Decimal System quite well, but the librarian gifted me with 2 slightly damaged books.

The first gift book was Lupe de Osma’s The Witches’ Ride and Other Tales from Costa Rica. I was immediately infatuated with the ghosts, witches, fairies, and other magical beings written about in that book. The beginnings of Bells? The second gift book was about prehistoric creatures that never existed. Among the critters written about were mermaids. The beginnings of Sideshow by the Sea?

Writers tend to write about what they know. What I’ve known since toddlerhood was fairy tales, folktales, myths, legends, and magical creatures introduced to me by books.

Still an avid reader, I gravitate to work by Neil Gaiman, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles de Lint. It’s the fantastical and sometimes dark worlds created by these writers that draws me in. And as a writer, I strive to create my own darkly magical worlds for my readers to enjoy.

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