Once Upon a Time…much later

Dear readers,

I admit that my site has become part of the blogging graveyard–that nebulous place that unattended blogs inhabit until its finally shut down or–more ominous–it remains forever, like a dark stain on your mythical permanent record there to taunt you with the memory of your inaction.

In my defense, I started the blog for all the wrong reasons. I knew I needed an on-line presence of some kind since I continue to avoid Twitter, Facebook, and all the other trendy social media people in my age group should embrace.

This may sound like a cop-out, but my excuse is a genuine one. I have been working on my fiction writing in the interim, diligently. But I know that blogging does help exercise my writing chops. So, I reevaluated my blog and decided the subject didn’t work for me anymore. I considered letting the whole enterprise go, but I hit upon a better idea. Something I know I can write about with conviction and authority, while not taking myself too seriously.

If I’ve piqued your interest, please join me at my new site. Thanks for reading my work–each follow was a huge thrill–I hope you’ll keep it up and I promise to do the same.

Bye for now!

Valentine’s Day Confession

As many of you know, Disney has my heart. It’s the kind of love that can withstand many missteps (like tarting up Merida for her princess unveiling, waiting way too long to give us diverse princesses, and making a meeting with the Frozen girls at Disneyworld a logistical nightmare for any parent). For quite a long time it was strictly platonic…and then came Aladdin.

I was eleven when Aladdin was first released in movie theaters. Junior high was already on the horizon, and my elementary school heart was already thinking about boys in a serious way. The thing was, I wasn’t one of those girls who fantasized about getting married. My career was a more exciting prospect and freedom was my main objective. But I still obsessed about boys. Jazmine was relatable to me, she wanted more than what was expected of her—and what was expected was marriage. I can’t remember if I made all these connections as a tween, but I knew I liked her best of all. It also didn’t hurt that we had the same skin tone.

Then I met him. Aladdin. Handsome and clever and completely unafraid of a strong woman. He could sing and he had a flying carpet. His best friend was a monkey and (really thrilling to eleven year old me) he never wore a shirt. Escandalo! Was he real? I fully admit to the fact that I developed a huge crush on an animated character, but looking back it wasn’t as strange as I made it sound. Aladdin is the male protagonist I always look for when I read (and write) a book. We take it for granted in an age where women and minorities wish to be heard and want to be represented in every conceivable way. But finding that elusive unicorn—the well-rounded male—is almost impossible. A man who is strong yet sensitive enough to realized when we don’t need (or want) to be rescued. A male character who shows vulnerability and courage. It was exciting then and refreshing now.

picture of Aladdin with bread

Aladdin with a reassuring smirk

These men exist in nature. I’ve met them and I married one, but why are they rare in stories? We’ve replaced the two-dimensional female archetype from fairy tales and replaced her with an equally underdeveloped male archetype.

Yes, I know this movie sets a lot of people’s teeth on edge with its stereotypes and insensitive song lyrics (which Disney recently changed in the song, Arabian Nights) and I freely admit that my analytical side gnashes right along with them. But this isn’t that kind of post.

I know that by the end of the movie, Jazmine wanted nothing more than to marry Aladdin. The feminist in me wants to rail against that, but honestly I don’t. Once you’ve found the one who lets you be you, it’s reason enough to want to spend the rest of your life with them. So, I don’t begrudge her suddenly going gaga over him. If I ever met Aladdin, my well-rounded husband would have some real competition.

Old Mother Goose

Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.

Mother Goose riding her gander Mother Goose on Gander  Illustrator unknown, engraved by Edward P. Cogger  (ca. 1864-1867)

Mother Goose riding her gander Mother Goose on Gander
Illustrator unknown, engraved by Edward P. Cogger
(ca. 1864-1867)

Mother Goose had a house,
’Twas built in a wood,
Where an owl at the door
For sentinel stood.

This is her son Jack,
A smart looking lad.
He is not very good,
Nor yet very bad.

She sent him to market,
A live goose he bought.
“Here, mother,” says he,
“It will not go for nought.”

Jack’s goose and her gander
Grew very fond,
They’d both eat together,
And swim in one pond.

Jack found one morning,
As I have been told,
His goose had laid him
An egg of pure gold.

Jack rode to his mother,
The news for to tell;
She called him a good boy,
And said it was well.

Jack sold his gold egg
To a rogue that he knew,
Who cheated him out of
The half of his due.

Then Jack went a courting
A lady so gay,
As fair as the Lily,
And sweet as the May.

The Rogue and the Squire
Came close at his back,
And began to belabor
The sides of poor Jack.

And then the gold egg
Was thrown into the sea,
But Jack he jumped in,
And got it back presently.

The Rogue got the goose,
Which he vowed he’d kill,
Resolving at once
His pockets to fill.

Jack’s mother came in,
And caught the goose soon,
And, mounting its back,
Flew up to the moon.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Magic and Mayhem Part VI

Sorry for the delay. Computers really do run our lives!

The proclamation was read in kingdoms throughout the land and many sought out king. Dukes, earls, viscounts, and other noble personages came to the castle looking for a bride, but were instead handed a mystery. Try as they might, none could prove or disprove the sorcerer’s story. And after three days each suitor was sent to the nether realms, never to be heard from again. Soon nobles were few and far between and the mystery had yet to be solved.

One day a humble soldier was making his way to the kingdom. He had recently retired from years of service and sought his fortune in the capitol. Along the way, he was stopped by an old woman sitting at the side of the road.

“Kind sir, will you share your meal with me? I am but an old woman who is tired and hungry,” she said.

“I don’t have much, but I will share what I have with you,” he replied and reached into his sack for the bread and cheese he had there. They sat in a companionable silence until the food was gone. The old woman smiled and pointed at his leg.

“What has happened to you?”

“I was a soldier and was wounded in battle. I’m retired now and am heading to the capitol to earn a living. Perhaps I’ll find some luck as my duke did wedding the king’s eldest daughter,” he said with a laugh.

“The Princess Mariana is not married,” she replied with a wink.

“But that is impossible. He left 6 months ago to marry her and never returned. What a puzzle!”

“It’s true sir and there is a puzzle to solve. Perhaps you might find it well worth your trouble to solve it. If you do, listen to an old woman’s advice. Drink nothing that the princesses give you and take this cloak so none can see you when you follow them,” she said and with that she thanked him and walked away belying her years. The soldier found this all most peculiar, but had no other plans.

He presented himself at the castle and despite some misgivings from the king and Uriel was allowed to stay and try his hand at the riddle. When he went to his chamber, which looked over the princesses, he saw the old woman carrying a bundle of fabric. A passing servant confirmed that she was Mistress Bronwen, a fixture of the castle for years out of memory.

That night the eldest princess herself brought the soldier a glass of wine before retiring. Remembering the words of the old woman, he pretended to drink the beverage and then feigned exhaustion. The princess was sorry to trick such a nice man, but she could not have him interfering in her plans. Making her way back to the princesses’ room, she never looked behind her sure that her potion had done its work.

Following only steps behind her was the soldier cloaked in invisibility. Not wanting to be detected he nearly missed his chance to slip in the door behind Mariana. The cloak snagged and a sliver of boot was visible. It would have gone unnoticed, but the youngest, Amara screamed and pointed at the spot. The soldier was able to move quickly and cover his mistake before the other sisters investigated.

“You’re just excitable because it’s time to go. Get your shoes on so we can depart,” said Mariana slipping on her dancing slippers.

Tapping the floor three times a portal opened in the middle of their bedroom. A spiral staircase descended into the dark hole with twinkling lights at the base. The soldier could see only the first stair while the other princesses crowded around the entrance awaiting their turn to descend. After the youngest started to make her way down, the soldier followed and saw the pinks and purples of dusk surrounding them. He was so overwhelmed by the stars and the exotic smells that he accidentally tread on the hem of the youngest princess. Again she yelped.

“Amara, what is it this time?” asked her elder sister, Anora.

“I have a strange feeling. Like someone is following us. Maybe we should head back,” replied Amara looking over her shoulder again and again. The soldier cursed himself for his clumsiness and waited until the princesses were three steps ahead before continuing.

“You’re just being silly. I’ve done this countless times before you and our sisters have been doing it before we were born without a problem. That soldier is fast asleep like the rest of them,” Anora reassured her. But Amara still stole glances behind her back to be sure.

Soon they arrived at a glowing lake with swans the size of horses gliding to the edge. On each sat a man or boy that looked to be about the same ages as the princesses. Each rider took the hand of a princess and helped her onto the back of a swan. Lucky for the soldier, Princess Amara was small as was her companion. He eased himself behind her and fit nicely on the saddle. Lifting his cape to avoid the water, his toe stuck out again for only a moment. The princess blinked and then her companion gave the command for the swan to move.

The soldier was amazed by the sights in from of him. Trees shimmered in silver and gold. Where there should have been fruit growing, only gemstones hung in abundance. When they docked, the pathway was strewn with glittering sand which shone like diamonds. Up ahead stood a grand palace from which music wafted out of windows.

Once inside, the princesses danced with richly clad gentlemen who looked oddly similar to the royal highnesses. The way they danced looked friendly, but not amorous—the way one might dance with a family member. Standing in the middle of the dance floor and swaying along to the music, the soldier listened to the conversations being had. Some were of little consequence, commenting on the weather or the merits of the song being played. The youngest princesses told her companion of her fear that they had been followed. The eldest, however was in rapt conversation with the man turning her about the floor.

“Now that we have a full complement, I think it time to strike,” she said with a serious face completely at odds with her graceful and carefree movements.

NaNoWriMo—Training Lean, Mean, Writing Machines

The kind of post that will keep me sane when I participate in NaNoWriMo this year.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2012-08-13 at 7.23.14 AM

Yesterday Jami posted about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I really hope you guys take her class because she is truly a gifted teacher. Today, I want to talk a little bit about what writers (especially new writers) can gain from NaNo.

NaNo Teaches Endurance 

I remember years ago thinking, “Wow, if I could just write a thousand words a day, that would be AMAZING.” When I looked at professional authors, it was like watching a marathon runner—all the while knowing I couldn’t run a flight of stairs without requiring oxygen and possibly a defibrillator to restart my heart. I so struggled to get words on a page, and Lord help me if I saw something shiny.

Of course, after years of practiced discipline, I generally have a thousand words written by breakfast. When I fast-draft (which I do for all my books), my average is abnormally…

View original post 1,084 more words

Cupcakes should be real, but awards are nice, too

Warning: I’m doing it again!

To my great surprise I’ve been nominated for another award. I’m thrilled that my little dog and pony show is getting people interested enough to want to recommend my site to others. This one is called the Super Sweet Blog Award. Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you (this is just good breeding in my opinion)
  2. Answer 5 super sweet questions (now you can know more about me)
  3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award image on the post (which is cute as well as tempting)
  4. Nominate a baker’s dozen of other bloggers (always happy to pass on good fortune)
  5. Notify your nominees on their blog (see my aside for part 1)

Thanks to Swati Chavda from the blog A Dash of Magic, A Sip of Adventure

This award is all the sweeter for being unexpected!

Here are the questions:

  1. Cookies or Cake? Not even a contest. I always think of cookies as a waste of time. Cake so much depth…and layers (my only exception are rainbow cookies that are like mini cakes called a cookie)
  2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Definitely a loaded question! Well, if you’re talking about ice cream then I prefer a swirl, thank you very much. If you’re talking about a cake make mine chocolate. But if you’re talking about a drink vanilla shakes along with Licor 43 (vanilla flavored liquor from Spain) are definitely my choice.
  3. Favorite sweet treat? Anything citrus tends to be my Achilles Heel. My favorite…Lemon Chiffon cupcakes with lemon filling! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
  4. When do you crave sweet things the most? Well this is just a silly question! Wouldn’t the better question be when I don’t crave sweets? To try an answer this question I’ll say the craving grows strongest when The Curse comes calling. Cliche, but true.
  5. Sweet nickname? Now that’s too much information but I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker” – Ogden Nash (but I’ll admit I learned that quote from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie) Food for thought as it were 😉

Now for the blogs I nominate for this award:

  1. Simple Pleasures – photography & more
  2. Charlotte Hoather – Soprano
  3. Theodora Goss – personal author page
  4. Coffee Stained – musings on fiction
  5. Kristen Lamb’s Blog – writer
  6. The Lightrider Journals – Eric Nierstedt
  7. Sophie Bowns – short stories
  8. International Bellhop – fun armchair travel
  9. Bucket List Publications – more travel ( a passion of mine)
  10. One Cool Site – WordPress blogging tips, tools and tutorials
  11. Rebecca Hains – children’s media culture
  12. Streets of Salem – blog about Salem, MA and environs
  13. AP Roberts’ Stories – writings, musings and random updates

Once Upon a Blog Post

My writings have been sporadic at best. I can only blame myself for trying to be so ambitious. It was a little crazy of me to think that I could write two novels and still the time and ability have to come up with original stories for a blog every week. Funny enough, I think my scope was too small. Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I should have included other materials within the realm of fairy tales and fables. Perhaps consider the current trend of “revisionist mythology” that is sweeping books, movies, and TV.

I’ll start with Once Upon a Time… on ABC. The show takes place in a fictional town in Maine (please save your Stephen King assumptions) called Storybrooke were all the characters from fairytales and legends have been transported by a curse conjured by, you guessed it, an evil queen.

Specifically the evil queen in Snow White.

The show is now in its second season, so I won’t try and summarize the entire show thus far. Suffice it to say, good tries to trump evil and at every turn craziness ensues. I went into the show with low expectations considering how poorly fantasy shows do in the ratings on network TV (I’ll talk about Merlin in a future post). I have been more than pleasantly surprised by its popularity among other things.

The clichés are self-evident. The woman representing good is blonde and blue-eyed, while the antagonist is a dark eyed beauty with black-brown hair. I was ready for Disney-level simplicity. Good is always good and evil can’t help but be so and must lose. But a funny thing happened when they let go of the obvious. The protagonist has a checkered past complete with a prison stay. The antagonist started out as good, but through a series of unfortunate events embraced the easy way—being bad.

It’s fairytales versus pop-psychology.

“There by the grace of God” club meets Of Mice and Men.

I don’t know if it qualifies as a full-blown guilty pleasure, but it speaks to the child at heart who grew up and wondered what happened to everyone after we closed the book. The child in me gets angry when evil gets the upper hand, but the adult appreciates the realism. Good or evil, I think Once Upon a Time…is a show anyone who loves fairy tales should give a chance.

Look back for more post about this show in the future.