Let "Once upon a time" voting BEGIN!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Run by Snow Patrol.

98. That is how many choice you have. My eyes kind of went like this when I finally counted them up 0_o

You guys are absolutely unequivocally made of pure awesome.

And I had to work around a few snags, namely the fact that any free poll maker I could find would not let me put more than 20 answers in a single poll. So pretend those boxes are all one big happy box.

And to do this, I think we should have two rounds, one for paring down, and another for the final pick. So pick your top 20 favorite entries. Look through all of them before deciding. Some really good ones are farther down.

Now, I don't know how this is going to work exactly. You may have to remember which ones from each section were your favorite and reload and push "submit" for each box. I don't know. Please just be patient and know that I spent three hours trying to find a poll creator that would let me do this is one go - but alas. No go.

So again - you do NOT have to pick from every single box if you do not want to. Heck, you could pick them all from the same box if you wanted. Just pretend all these boxes are one box, all zen-like and all that good stuff. ^_^

This is only open until SUNDAY at 11:59 PM PST. Then Round 2 goes into effect for the finalists. If there are not enough votes, I will just pick my top 20 favorites. I hope that is fair. So what are you waiting for? Go pick the most awesome variation for Once upon a time that you've ever heard. :) Good luck everyone.

Back before ninjas killed the fairies...

In the long, long ago...

According to your crazy Uncle Sal, God-rest-his-soul...

It happened once...

When the days were old and the nights were cold and toilets were not yet invented...

Long, long ago, in a far away land...

This tale begins...

At the beginning of this tale...

Once, long ago, in a faraway place...

In a place that is of this earth and yet not of this eart, of a people who were once considered to be our kin, there lived a princess of a long forgotten land called Eden, in a universe that was once connected to our lands on earth, but these connections were forgotten long ago, and the memory of these people became legends.

Back in the day of cassette tapes and disco balls...

here once was a tale from (enter city in story)...

The beginning of our tale started long ago...

All was lovely until...

In a day before horcruxes...

Once upon your mom...

Once upon a death...

During the war (said in old grandad voice)...

In a land of chalk and cheese...

According to Voldermort the pixie...

Here are the wise words of an alcoholic...

In a land where Ricky Gervais is funny...

Phew! She woke and realised it was all just a dream. What was? Oh, she recalled it so vividly...

During a time when elves didn't bully goblins because of their height...

Before silly girls threw themselves at bloodlusting vampires...

In a world where books are given away for fairytale openings, a girl called Katie really hoped and prayed...

When zombies attack...

When President Bush came into office...

It all started with a paper cut...

Once upon a coffin...

In the moonlit night...

By the sea of the sewer water...

You probably never would have guessed it but...

When you ran out of things to say you say this...

I was bored one day so I...

So you want to be a vampire? (or any other supernatural being)...

Once upon the last time...

Once upon the universe...

One day long ago...

In a land far far away...

In and in-between...

Hidden in the shadows of the earth...

Floating on the mist...

In a place between the light and dark...

Taken by the queen...

Magic only starts in the morning...

In a land not far from here...

Those who walk in the sun...

In and amongst us live the fairy...

When an eyelash drops from a cheek...

When you feel a soft touch on your skin or see a small babe smile then you have been near the faire...

Did you know when a baby laughs their first laugh there are the winged ones...

In that time between dusk and night...

When the land was still young and fresh...

Drink milk

They rule mist, fire, land and the earth...

When you die there is a place full of Wonderous things...

In a world not unlike our own...

In the time and place of the small ones...

When upon the Lake you look and see lights around thee the faire folk will be...

They live in and amongst us. All hiding in the seams of the hall. But every now and then they come out to cause mischief to all...

After the Mall was raided and everyone was Screaming did they show their true flying winged colors...

Taken as a Babe by the Forest Queen in the month of May...

If you nap outside on a summers day you can hear them play as the branches sway...

Some are Light at heart while others are dreadfully dark. Some shine and sparkle in the Sun while others come out to glow in the dark. Some have Muddy hair and and are Very Grupy.While Some are pink and smell like the fresh pear. There are no 2 alike they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They my friend are the Fairy Kind.

If your baloon pops for no good reason.I you trip on your own feet. If your hair is a mess and your clothes are rumpled. then you have been jinks by the fairy...

Down in the deep dark drier vent with Downey in the air lives the house fairy...

Under the floor of the earth when it rumbles to and fro the fairy are dancing the midnight jig...

On the Hogworts train for only a dime you can buy a chocolate fairy for thine...

While our dog ate them out of the sky they still come back for the the Milk I set aside...

From a land far from here. The Fairy Broker catches and sells the fairy to the highest bidder...

They only wear black. They are able to leap high in the air. They can jump over buildings in a single leap. They are the M.I.B. (Muses in black)...

Over the mountain and through the woods...

Follow the yellow brick road to the land of the Fairy...

Toto I believe in fairies but I just want to go home...

Look Boss it's a fairy Boss a fairy...

On the Love Boat fairies can be bought and sold...

Frankly My Dear I don't give a Dam if you don't believe in Fairies...

Do you believe in fairies Peter Pan?

Watch out it's a plane it's a Sparkle, IT'S SUPER FAIRY!!

When the morning air is only dew then fairy is at it's happiest!!

In the time of the flesh-eating fairies...

Once, when the world was younger than the dinosaurs...

When the rainbow still held a door...

When humans were still young and fae folk ruled the realm...

Once there was... oh, forget it.

Once upon a particular position in the space-time continuum...

It was a (insert adjective here) night and the the faerie eyes were glowing in the woods...

If I tell you this tale I'll have to kill you, or at least leave you badly dismembered...

These words are powerful, so listen well...

Beware the cunning people who live where humans dare not go...

Blood and guts. If this makes you feel squeamish, do not read on...

It was a beautiful summer day and the zombies sat quietly decaying...

If you're reading this now, it's probably too late...

When the naiads had forgotten how to swim and the metal towers scraped the sky...

If the fae folk touch you, call the priest and not the police...

Once, before the sparkly glitter faeries attacked...

Once the wind whispered to me of...

At a very specific date and time...

Far far away in the land of...

After the knight slayed the dragon the faeries...

There was a beautiful princess that lived in a beautiful palace-- But this story is not about her it's about...

In the typical fashion of the faeries, the day started off with a dance party with...

It was the 2nd time today that Braden found himself being shot at while...

Feature Fun Friday - A Disney Fairy Tale

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): My Only Offer by Mates of State.

Ha! You thought that fairy tale month ended yesterday, but you were oh so wrong. We needed one more video of fairy tale goodness. And I'm going to the ultimate reminiscence from childhood - Disney all the way baby. No one has made a "happily ever after" quite like they have. And there are so many cute couples to choose from. ^_^ That's why there is this delicious video. It is the best one I could find (that didn't have disabled embedding with it. Grrr. Maybe I can edit my own for your guys some day... that sounds nice...) Trust me there are a lot on YouTube, so if you don't get your fill here, worry not fair readers. There are many romantics like you (and me) out there. Have an amazing weekend everyone! (Hopefully I will have the poll for our Once upon a time winner up later today. Cross your fingers for me.)

A New Challenge

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Love Story by Taylor Swift.

Before anything, I have to say that this is not my post. It was inspired by a comment by Jazz, and I think it is an absolutely perfect way to tie up all the ends of fairy tale month.

In my post where I linked to a short story I had written for you (about King Thrushbeard), Jazz made a very thought-provoking comment (well, thought-provoking to me, at least).

Have you ever considered writing your own original fairy tale? I am currently in the process of writing my own. Retellings are wonderful, but I think it is important to have new fairy tales that relate to the world we live in better than the old tales do. And plus it is a ton of fun.

Truer words I have not heard in a quite some time (last Thursday at least). These stories are timeless, but why do they have to stop in the "way back then"? It really made me start thinking. Adapting has a tons of really fun challenges, but to craft something from scratch and have it compare to the masters we all know? Now that seems daunting.

But I have a tenancy to run on the side of the mildly insane, and I actually like these kinds of challenges. In fact, I tend to thrive on them. So Jazz, I accept. I will write a new fairy tale, completely original, and I will post up here for everyone. AND, as something fun, I will use the opening line from the winner of this month's contest about if fairy tales had not begun with "Once upon a time..." It only makes sense after all. New fairy tale. New opening line that rocks of awesomeness. So if you haven't entered yet, go ahead now. Today is your last chance.

Now, does anyone have any preference for elements that should be in this new story? I am going to try and keep to original "fairy tale" language both as a homage, and well, because it's fun. But as for the story - no clue. This idea just came to me yesterday. So shout them out. I may be inspired by something that you wouldn't expect. What about you Jazz? Any hints to what your new fairy tale is going to be about? Are we ever going to have a chance to read it? :D

(Okay, and confession - I picked my Theme Song for today. I had to pick an appropriate song to end fairy tale month. I couldn't let it just an end on a non-fairy-tale-ish song! You can slap my wrist for cheating).

The Few, the Proud, and the Hardcore of Fairy Retellings - Part 2

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Stolen by Dashboard Confessional.

You guys are awesome. I can't believe the response I got after less than 24 hours. You are incredible. And I can't believe I forgot so many! Okay, quick catch up:

Gail Carson Levine - how could I forget her? Ella Enchanted was my favorite book in elementary (and trust me, it still ranks pretty high). That is the only book that I've actually forgotten how many times I've reread it. I stopped counting at 37 (no, I'm not joking). She also has a series of great little stories directed at a younger audience, but still very good. Her retelling of Snow White in Fairest was very cool, and I actually really like the audio book version of it too. I still can't believe I forgot her. A thousand humble apologies.

Gregory Macguire is another one I'm still just shaking my head at. He's done several retellings, one of which was turned into a Broadway musical. You may have heard of it. A little known one called "Wicked." I sadly have not read any of his books, but I don't know which is more shameful, so I'm going to be sneaking off to my library right after this *shuffles away*

There are lots of others who have done retellings, but not as the predominant part of their work. People like Mercedes Lackey, Patricia McKillip, Margaret Peterson Haddix. I would highly suggest looking at Sur La Lune Fairy Tales if you have a further itch. Just click on your favorite fairy tale then click the link "Modern Interpretations" and viola! All the fairy tales you can handle. They are an absolutely amazing reference (there's a reason it is a permanent link on my sidebar). ;)

One cool fairy tale that I have to point out in assembling this post is called The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines who apparently is going back to the "darker themes" of the originals. He has a couple, including one called The Mermaid's Madness (Little Mermaid anyone?) that I am really wanting to check out now. Just in case you had never heard of him either. :)

Hey! - my "theme song" today fits pretty well for today's post. Rock on.

[Edit]: I forgot to mention Mette Ivie Harrison who has done several stories based on and inspired by fairy tales. Many thanks to all the commentators without whom this list would not have been made.

The Few, the Proud, and the Hardcore of Fairy Retellings

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Different by Acceptance.

It's no secret (anymore) that I love fairy tales, and fairy tale retelling in particular. I have yet to write my own retelling, but if it were to be any, it would one of the many fantastic unknown fairy tales.

So as we near the last few days of fairy tale month here, I want to point you to a few of the vetrans of fairy tale retellings, in case you need a fix (or three) like I sometimes do. ^_^

The obvious first is the venerable Robin McKinley. She was doing this back in the 80's when I was but a wee one*, and her first story of Beauty and the Beast is still among one of my absolute favorites. She has covered the gamut of Sleeping Beauty to Robin Hood, though her early work is far better in my opinion.

Cameron Dokey is an old hand at Simon and Schuster's Once Upon a Time novel series. If you haven't heard about it, that may be a little heaven for you, though some of them have been hit and miss for me (but I certainly haven't read all of them yet). I mention Cameron Dokey because she represents a majority of the work and she has ventured into such unknown fairy tales as one of Mulan and the Arabian Nights. A retelling of the Snow Queen is being released later this year apparently, which is news to me. But good bubbly kind of news.

Not quite a predominant fairy teller, but Shannon Hale's stories are too good to not include here. She has tackled Rapunzel, Maid Maleen, and The Goose Girl, the last of which has spawned an entire world and series of stories based off of it (shameless plug that the next one is due out this September! So excited).

Another gal from my good ole' home state of Utah who is gaining recognition is the fabulous Jessica Day George. Her first books were based on dragons (always a plus) but she has already managed to put out a couple retellings, both of which I'm dying to get my hands on. *Curse the library-holding gods* I'm number 38 after almost a month of waiting. Grrr. Patience is not a virtue in this case. Her retellings include East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

And just because I love East of the Sun so much, I have to include the author of the other retelling I know of - East by Eddith Pattou. I really enjoyed this one.

Donna Jo Napoli is another veteran, and has a slew of books in the realm of faerie. She is not always my cup of tea, but I put her on here because she certainly does have q few retelling under her belt. Before Shannon Hale, she was the only one I knew of who had tackled Rapunzel. And Zel is such a cool name.

Juliet Marillier describes herself as a historical fantasist, and I think that is a perfect description of her. Author of the Acclaimed Sevenwaters trilogy (the first of which is based on one of the little known fairy tales of The Six Swans - awesome fairy tale), she has also written for young adults Wildwood Magic, based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses (I told you this fairy tale was getting more love recently). :)

Did I miss anyone? Anyone you absolutely love that I am insane to have missed? Please tell me and I'll add them to the list. Hope you found some new friends to enjoy.

*scuse me, I just checked and found out her first fairy book was published in 1978. So I was a bit less than a wee one. :D

Feature Fun Friday - Ingrid Law (Savvy) Interview

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): A Riot of Color by Little Kingdom.

As we are nearing the end of my self-proclaimed Fairy Tale Month, I thought it high time for another author interview. But instead of falling to some obvious vetrans, I thought I'd take a different spin on matters.

Ingrid Law has written a phenomenal book, Savvy, about a family who has *ahem* larger than life powers. I mean, this is the opening line for heaven's sake:

"When my brother Fish turned thirteen, we moved to the deepest part of inland because of the hurricane and, of course, the fact that he'd caused it."

Sweet, huh? :)

This is not your traditional "fairy tale" story because Ingrid Law had the idea based off American tall tales. And I think those are as close a thing to fairy tales we have this side of the pond, so rock on. I certainly had never had thought of them this way, and it's just so cool. It also won a Newberry Honor, if that first line wasn't convincing enough for you. ;) Enjoy the interview and have a fabulous weekend everyone. :)

Do you remember King Thrushbeard?

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): You Are Water by Haley Westenra.

In my 10 awesome fairy tales you've never heard of post I made a teensy weensy footnote that mentioned quite subtly ;) to keep en eye for something special concerning the fairy tale King Thrushbeard. Well, here it is.

I wrote a story for you guys.

Yep, that's right. I wrote a story just for you to read, spread, or shred as you will. Like so many of you, I love fairy tale retellings. Adore them you could even say. Fairy tales were after all originally an oral tradition and changed as they passed from person to person, and I like seeing that tradition continue.

King Thrushbeard has special value for me. It is one of those fairy tales that I cannot understand why it didn't become one of the popular famous ones. It is so good, and really very sweet. It is about a haughty princess, who after insulting so many suitors, her father promises he will marry her to the first beggar that comes to the door. It happens to be a wandering minstrel, who rather regrets knocking on that particular door. She has to learn the most basic of things, and learns the lessons of her pride, and in the process, finds love.

I really wanted to make this a modern story, just to see if the old adage "fairy tales are timeless" was really true. In the process, I came up with a rather interesting twist.

I would recommend reading the original King Thrushbeard first. Then you can spot the parallels (it's like Where's Waldo, but with words instead of men in striped shirts). But you don't have to. I wrote this so that it could also stand alone.

I hope I did this PDF uploader thing right, and I really hope you enjoy my first superhero present to you. ^_^

Viva la fairy tales.

Thrushsong - A Modern Retelling of the Fairy Tale of King Thrushbeard

Did I mention that you can do whatever you want with this? I'm putting it under a Creative Commons License. Convert it, download it, share it, digitally paint it, whatever. :) Please just give credit where you got it from. That would make me happy. ^_^

(Photo courtesy of queenofbeasts on Deviant Art)

Fairy Tale Misfits - Rumpelstiltskin

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Pictures of You by The Last Goodnight.

Rumpelstiltskin is the most aggravating fairy tale in the world (that I've found - so far). Don't believe me? I'll show you.

But I'm going to be cheating a little. I'm going to start by quoting Vivian Vande Velde, an awesome YA author with an even awesomer last name. She says it so much better than I ever could. The excerpts come from her author's notes from her book The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, a collection of stories all based on Rumpelstiltskin. (You should all definitely read it. Some are touching, some are hilarious. My favorite by far is the second story in the collection, Straw into Gold).

She begins talking about a famous game she knew as Gossip, but has other variants such as Telephone, Whisper Down the Lane, and Chinese Whispers. It is where one person whispers something in someone's ear and it goes around until it gets to the last person and they finally say it and it is almost always vastly (and usually hilariously) different from what it was originally.

That's how I feel about the story of Rumpelstiltskin - it makes no sense.

The story starts with a poor miller telling the king "My daughter can spin straw into gold." ...

Now, no matter the reason the miller said what he did, you'd think that in reality he would have noticed that his daughter doesn't actually know how to spin straw into gold. (Unless she's lied to him. In which case you'd think that now would be a the time for her to set things straight). But still hr brings her to the castle to show off a talent she doesn't have - which doesn't sound to me like responsible parenting.

At the castle the king locks the girl into a room and tells her, "Spin this straw into gold, or tomorrow you shall die."

Not my idea of a promising first date.

The girl seems smarter than her father. She knows that she can't spin straw into gold, so she's worried. But what does she do? She starts crying. Not a very productive plan. Still, along comes a little man who, by happy coincidence, knows how to do what everyone wants. "What will you give me to spin this straw into gold for you?" he asks her, and she offers him her gold ring.

Now think about this.

Here's someone who can spin an entire roomful of straw into gold. Why does he need her tiny gold ring? Sounds like a bad bargain to me. But the little man agree and spins the straw into gold. Is the king satisfied? Of course not.

The next night he locks her in an even bigger room with even more straw and offers her the same deal: "Spin this straw into gold, or tomorrow you shall die." Again the little man comes, again he gets her butt out of trouble (this time in exchange for a necklace - apparently the poor miller has a secret stash to keep his daughter in all this jewelry), and yet again the king makes his demand: "Straw for gold."

At this point the girl has run out of jewelry, but the little man says he'll spin one more time if she'll promise him the firstborn child. Why he wants this child he never says, and she never asks. Obviously the miller's daughter is no more a responsible parent than her father is, for she agrees to the bargain.

Fortunately for everyone, the next morning the king is finally satisfied with the amount of gold the girl has spin for him, and he asks her to marry him.

Swept off her feet because he's such a sweet talker ("Spin or die"), she accepts the king's proposal.

Eventually the happy couple has a child, and the little man suddently shows up to demand what has been promised to him. Again the girl cried, perhaps hoping that yet another little man will step forward to get out of trouble.

She goes on to point out numerous other discrepancies, like why Rumpelstiltskin is singing his name loud enough to wake the dead, or why, after how forthright and kind and patient this guy has been, the queen still feels it necessary to put up a charade of goading him with false names before finally giving him his real one. Talk about thankless. And let's not even touch him stamping his foot hard enough it cracks the ground (wasn't he described as little?) and then tearing himself in two?

What do you think your teacher would say if you handed in a story like that?

I think you'd be lucky to get a D-.

And that's assuming your spelling was good.

It was by asking myself all these questions that I came to write these stories.

-Author's Notes to The Rumpelstiltskin Problem

What she doesn't point out (and something I read from another argument, but I can no longer remember where) is how unfairly treated Rumpelstiltskin is throughout all of this. He came to help her, he fulfilled every end of his bargain to the letter. There were no deceptions or trickery from him (something of a precedent in a story like this), and then when he comes to fulfill his end of the bargain to take what was rightfully offered him, she throws a fit and makes him seem like the bad guy. What's up with that? And because he is a "child stealer", we automatically sympathize with her. Something's whacked here. And then, even though he has no obligation to, he offers her a way out of the bargain! Dude, this is the most misrepresented villain in fairy tale-dom. And then at the end, he gets the most unfair treatment by having to rip himself in half. Now that's a messed up fairy tale.

Like Vivian Vande Velde's very worthy collection, there have been attempts to figure out this tangle of a story. A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce is the most recent example I can think of, and looking at Sur La Lune, there seems to be quite a few. I have never read A Curse as Dark as Gold, but I dearly want to, if only to see how she dealt with this fairy tale. For me, this is the Holy Grail of fairy tales, because if I write it, and get this one right (and can have it make sense), well, that's just cool.

What are your thoughts? Had you ever thought of Rumpelstiltskin this way? Or is there another fairy tale that bugs you as much as this one does for me? :)

(Photos courtesy of Photia on Deviant Art, and concept art from Happily Never After)

Feature Fun Friday - Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Rumpelstiltskin

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): It's Not Easy (Superman) by Five For Fighting.

Remember in my post of 10 awesome fairy tales you've probably never heard of, I mentioned that Rumpelstiltskin is a convoluted mess of unsensefullness (more on this later. In fact, I'll be dedicated Monday's post to unraveling this particularly troublesome fairy tale). So as a pre-kickoff, I found a special retelling of our famous friend. It's got Rocky. It's got Bullwinkle, and it's one of the more interesting explanations for that little man with a baby fetish. Enjoy everyone, and have a fantastic weekend! :)

Linky Love!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Mercy by One Republic.

This is really cool. Do you have a "burning" question about The Hunger Games? In preparation to the anticipated sequel, Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins is going to answer three questions submitted by - us. Head over quick, one has already been answered.

The Burning Question - The Hunger Games

Shooting Stars Mag has a really sweet contest going on right now, one I couldn't help sharing (although be warned, I totally want to win this one). It's to win a copy of Jasmyn by Alex Bell, from all the way on the other side of the pond. It sounds like a rocking book, and the contest totally ties in with fairy tale month over here. :)

And it looks like we have more than one superhero masquerading in disguise! The amazingly sweet and rock-out literary agent Nathan Bransford took a humanitarian trip to Peru, and was kind enough to share his experience. (and plus there is a picture with him and a happy llama. You just can't beat that) :)

And the last one is just weird, fascinating, and horrifying all at once. I love ice cream. It is my all-time favorite desert if I had to pick one. But even this may stretch the limits of my love. Here are 101 frightening flavors from around the world. # 17 doesn't even bear repeating. I almost died when I read it.

Proof I'm a Superhero.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters.

Look at that pose, those heroic piercing eyes, that beautiful silky smooth skin. Yep, I'm a superhero alright, done complete in comic book style. (Actually I discovered my photobooth application on my Mac and had way too much fun messing around with my little sister. This one just happened to turn out really really good. She can play a damsel in distress so well. She's so cool).

I love being a superhero in disguise. :D

Superhero Theme Song to the rescue

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Annie by Safetysuit.

I was glancing over my post yesterday and I realized I came off as rude/arrogant in a I-am-a-cool-indie-music-wizard-and-you-are-not sort of way. Oops. I'm sorry. And guess what? It turns out I was wrong. You can totally find Hrafnagaldur online. It's on playlist.com and of course, itunes and amazon (where I bought my copy). So to make up for my accidental meanness, here is a piece of Hrafnagaldur for you (they didn't have the whole song on playlist, which made me sad, but the excerpt they do have of this 10 minute song is one of my favorite parts). Enjoy! You now can be a superhero too. :)

Ten Fantastic Unknown Fairy Tales - The Grimm's Edition

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Hrafnagaldur (Odin's Raven Magic) from Screaming Masterpiece.

More Fantastic Unknown/Forgotten Fairy Tales - Part 1
More Fantastic Unknown/Forgotten Fairy Tales - Part 2
More Fantastic Unknown/Forgotten Fairy Tales - Part 3

Since we are on the self-dubbed fairy tale month, I thought I should share my secret love for several shinning unknown gems. I like obscure things, in fact you could say I relish in them (just look at some of my Current Theme Songs. Today's for example, I don't think you could find anywhere). I love indie bands, I love exotic foods no one has heard of, let alone know how to pronounce. My most recent to this list comes from my trip to Thailand. Mangosteens rock the world out in white fleshy goodness.

Likewise I love obscure fairy tales. Lovelovelove them. I always dreamed of rewriting an unknown fairy tale, because I fell in love with fairy tale retellings ever since stumbling on Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley in fifth grade. Ever since then I've been hooked.

I grew up on fairy tales, and so as I grew up, I never understood when I talked about fairy tales that no one else had ever heard of. They gave me funny looks, and I often cocked my eight year old head in confusion. The most common of late has been The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Thankfully that wonderful story has come into a fuller light with such retellings as Wildwood Dancing and Princess of the Midnight Ball, and Barbie's Twelve Dancing Princesses (so sue me. I've seen it and I liked it). :) But even then, I've had so many people say they have never heard of it before. It's unfathomable to me.

Another thing I just don't get is how some fairy tales became popular, and others didn't. Take Rumpelstiltskin. Talk about a crazy fairy tale that makes no sense (thank you to A Curse as Dark as Gold for a valiant try to untangle that mess of a story). So here I've compiled a list of ten fantastic unknown fairy tales, presented as "The Grimms Edition." You may know of one or two, but I can bet you've never even heard of half of them. I would really suggest looking them up. They are well worth the adventure.

The Valiant (or Brave) Little Tailor *

The Girl Without Hands

King Thrushbeard**

The Two Brothers***

The Six Swans****

East of the Sun, West of the Moon*****

Allerleirauh (or All-Kinds-of-Fur)^

The Twelve Huntsmen^^

Iron Hans

The Peasant's Wise Daughter^^^

*the version of this I first heard as a child had Mickey Mouse as the main character. I was so happy to see it was a real fairy tale.

**keep an eye out for something special with this one.

***Can I claim this one for a novel adaptation? :)

****made most famous by Juliet Marillier's masterful retelling Daughter of the Forest trilogy.

*****my original favorite unknown fairy tale. Alas, tis too famous for me to ever do my own retelling of it now. It's like Beauty and the Beast with a polar bear and where the girl takes charge to save her own prince. You can't beat that!

^there is a wonderful adaptation done by the Jim Hensen's The Storyteller TV series called Sapsorrow (and what a cool name!). I would love to do a novel adaptation of this one as well. It's like Cinderella, but in a cool take charge way.

^^awesome AWESOME premise. Can't say any more.

^^^loved this one as a child too. Maybe it is famous and I just don't know it. Any takers to prove me wrong?

Cemeteries, hot chocolate and pinwheels.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): For a Reason by Death Cab For Cutie.

Have you ever had those days where two days blend into one? That was me yesterday. Wow, weird. I'm now leaving the time warp. *hopping out of time machine*

Because I had some seriously cool secret adventures to tell you. Last night (aka two nights ago because of said "time warp." Seriously, today isn't Friday. You're all crazy). ;) But two nights ago, I went into a cemetery just as the sun was setting. It was so cool. Some of my favorites cemeteries were in DC. They were so old, and the headstones, some were so weatherworn or covered in mold that you couldn't even read the inscription anymore. One of the other interns thought I was morbid and completely into the macabre because I wanted to go see the old cemeteries while we were in New York City. (It seriously is the weirdest feeling ever. Because you're walking along these enormous buildings and suddenly BAM! There's a 250 year old cemetery right in front of you. And I had to see the cemetery next to Trinity Church. I mean, come on, the climax of National Treasure was filmed there). Anyway! Cemeteries are invaluable resources to writers and thrill seekers alike. Let me explain. :)

They have so much history and atmosphere. I've gone in them more than once to do research, to find out the stories of the people who used to live here (and you wouldn't believe half of them. Really). That's what I was doing yesterday (aka two nights ago). But of course, I couldn't help taking a few pictures too. But there are other reasons I've been in a cemetery before.

Now, I'm not sure if this is a universal rule, but generally, cemeteries close at dusk. They usually have a very nice guard or very nice gates to give you the hint. This wasn't the case with the cemetery in my little college town. There are no guards and no gates, just a little stone wall that opens at each of the entrances.

There are also no signs (trust me, I checked). So one night (key word, night) I went - into - the - cemetery, just so I could know what it feels like to wander through one at night.

See you happy readers, you have no idea what writers go through to bring you these stories you love so much. And let me tell you, that was one of the freakiest experiences of my life.

I did not talk myself up. In fact, I thought all the horror movies were a lot of hype and creepy music. Part of the reason I went was to disprove all that nonsense and to get an "authentic" experience. I stayed on the path, but even then, oh man it was scary. Seeing the headstones constantly shifting in the single house light that spilled into the cemetery was unnerving. But the worst? The sounds.

It was really windy (which didn't help, and also part of the reason why I chose that night). The sound of the wind high in the trees that didn't blow down to me was unsettling. But the absolute worst? The pinwheels next to the graves. Man, I never thought those things could be so creepy! They would start up suddenly and keep spinning and then stop as you passed them. I almost died. And the bells. Whose idea was it to put bells in a graveyard? Creepy! I was there barely fifteen minutes before the cold and the scary were plenty of reason for me to go. Wow. That was a research experience I will never forget. So remember dear readers, writers do the strangest things to bring you a story that will literally come to life. Here is another tale about how another author, Tess Gerritsen, was doing research and how it almost got her arrested. :D

And what did I do after I left that cemetery that night? I drank a super big, super thick cup of hot chocolate. And then all was well with the world. :)

New Contest - Wings by Aprilynne Pike, SIGNED.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): American Dream by Switchfoot.

I think it is high time for another contest, and I have a treat for you. I hold in my possession a first edition, first printing signed copy of Wings, a New York Times bestselling novel by Aprilynne Pike. And guess what? She's a debut author. That is just sweet beans in my book. This particular book has been all over the blogosphere it seems, and for good reason. She is trying to reinvent and breathe new life into the word "fairy." I will not say anything more to keep from spoiling anything, but it is pretty darn cool. Since her book is about fairies, I'm expanding this contest to fairy tales. In fact this entire month you will see posts related to fairy tales. I may even make it the official theme for this month. ^_^ Why? Because I love fairy tales.

So! For the contest, it's simple. All you have to do is answer one thing. We all know all fairy tales begin with "Once upon a time...," but what if they didn't? Your challenge to win this month's contest is to invent what fairy tales should start out as, if it hadn't been "once upon a time." Get your thinking caps on, this is going to be a fantastically fun contest. I can just imagine what some of them might be. Silly or sweet, just start saying them. And say as many as you like, there is no limit to the number of entries on this one. You have the most control out of this contest than any other. There will be no random number chosen. The best will win. And best of all, I'm going to let you guys choose the winner. I'm so excited, so start commenting and spread the word. I really want to know what you guys can come up with. :D

Oh, and I've marked who are my followers up to this point. You will get a survivor advantage in the next contest, no worries. ;)

[EDIT]: Hahaha. Contest ends July 31st. ^_^ Should probably include that tiny bit of information.

Jordan Mechner on WriterGirl?!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Time Only Knows by Stuart Chatwood (Prince of Persia video game soundtrack)

Oh my GOODNESS!!! I glanced at my followers today and saw I had gone up to 35 (made me terribly happy. Did a little dance and everything). Then I decided to go over and say hello and see who had found my little blog. It’s only good manners, after all. So I was holding my little cursor over each of my new friends when a name flashed up: Jordan Mechner. I stopped. My heart did a little flip flop. My thoughts went “either that is a very strange name coincidence or…” I clicked on it. I was right. It was THE Jordan Mechner, writer of the Prince of Persia video game franchise!

How did he know? Can he possibly know that I love Prince of Persia with every fiber of my being? How did he even know I existed? Let me tell you – I love Prince of Persia. I cannot tell you how much, especially The Sands of Time (and The Two Thrones). All-time favorite game. No exaggeration. And now he’s a follower of my blog. I may die and go to heaven right now. The game was impeccable, the concept brilliant, the bantering dialogue between the hero and heroine priceless. And he made such believable characters of the prince and Farah that I fell in love with them both. Loved it. So in love with it. I will even admit, I once even harbored the fangirl notion of writing a novelization for The Sands of Time. Far-fetched and basically impossible I know, but it was the first time I ever considered something like that (the little girl inside of me still wishes for it). That’s how much I am in love with this game, and consequently, the writer. Put another way, I’m the kind of girl who knew there was going to be a movie made of The Sands of Time three years ago, when it was first announced (and that it will star Jake Gyllenhaal. That’s just cool).

I don’t know how he found my blog, but if he ever told me, I may swoon and die of happiness (you can take that as a cue anytime, dear Mr. Mechner) :D I do apologize, but I needed to share my moment of pure rapture at finding one of my writing/video game idols in a place I would never ever expect. Thank you Mr. Mechner for all your wonderful work. I’ll stop screaming now.

WriterGirl Interview with Cindy Pon, author of Silver Phoenix!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Lord Willowbies Welcome Home by Elizabeth Farr.

Today I am ecstatic to tell you that we have the fantastic and wonderfully talented Cindy Pon here on The Secret Adventures of Writer-Girl. Cindy is amazingly sweet and so open to her fans, which I love. Her novel, Silver Phoenix, is an Asian fantasy, which I think is pure awesome because it combines two of my favorite loves. She graciously agreed to do an in-depth interview, but she did request that I mention that this interview contains SPOILERS, so please be warned. (I thought I had done a great job of avoiding spoilers, turning a phrase just the right way, but no. I see how there are plenty of SPOILERS to be had. Sigh). However, there is a really cool hint about what her next book is about (second to last quest for the non-spoiler readers). So without further ado, here is Cindy Pon with her debut novel, Silver Phoenix.

P.S Beth over at Writing it Out has informed me that she has posted her review of Silver Phoenix on her blog. Isn't that pleasantly happy? :)

CONTAINS SPOILERS (but if you don't care, or have already read it, read on! Tis an awesome interview).

[ME]: Silver Phoenix - will we ever get to hear her story more fully? I was totally taken in with her character, even if she was mentioned so little.

[CP]: Yes! You'll learn more about Silver Phoenix in the sequel!

[ME]: What made you think to defeat Zhong Ye how you did? It was a way I had never thought of before, but perhaps the greatest deception of all.

[CP]: The climax scene was always there in my mind, along with the kiss. I just didn't know how the story would wind itself there to make sense. Thankfully, it did. I liked the irony that Ai Ling left home to avoid a betrothal, only to walk straight into another. It also made sense to me that Zhong Ye's guard would be down, that'd he'd equate Ai Ling to Silver Phoenix, and assume their love and connection would be instant.

Of course, he didn't suspect his past lover's (Silver Phoenix's) motivation either.

[ME]: Besides the Life-Seeker, what monsters were your own creation?

[CP]: Ha! was the life seeker obvious? But what she did is pretty much in line with Chinese folklore. Alluring women seduce men only to turn into something monstrous (like the snake demon).

With the exception of the snake demon and the one-armed tribe, all other monsters and demons were from my own imagination.

[ME]: You have mentioned that you felt this story was about unrequited loved and that it felt complete to you as a stand-alone title (despite people pleading with you for a sequel. Screaming, in some cases) :) What made you want to decide to write a story about unrequited love? It certainly isn't an approach most authors take. Were you ever afraid of the risk of how it would be received?

[CP]: I felt it was fitting to the story. Chen Yong isn't at a place to wed--he's still
searching for his identity and also recently lost Li Rong. That doesn't make it a place for him to be open to love. I felt that the ending stayed true to the storyline as well as my characters--that Ai Ling would be too fearful to let her feelings be known. That Chen Yong's mind isn't exactly on romance.

I wanted to write about unrequited love because it's all I knew as a teen and in college. Ha! Seriously.

I never realized how unusual it was, and I'm very thankful that my editor allowed me to keep it as is.

For those who read the novel and were not happy with my ending, take heart, there's always the sequel. Tho honestly, if the book was stand alone, the ending would have remained exactly the same.

[ME]: Why is it the demons never tried to attack Ai Ling before her journey started?

[CP]: Because she wasn't a threat until she started to make her way to the palace. In my mind, the giving of that jade necklace catapulted her from the normal world into a fantastic one.

[ME]: Since you weren't originally planning on a sequel - how did you originally foresee the rest of Ai Ling's life being like?

[CP]: Oh, but I did have the seeds of a sequel in mind. I didn't write toward it, but after I finished the novel, I realized there could be more. I just never started it because I knew how much I had emotionally invested into the novel, not to mention the work and time. I couldn't bring myself to write the sequel unless I knew I could sale the first book!

There's a dream sequence Chen Yong has of leaving home and traveling on a ship. Then at the end, I knew he would go abroad to find his birth father. it naturally lent itself to another book.

[ME]: What is your favorite scene, personally?

[CP]:The scene in the bamboo forest. The climax is a close second.

[ME]: Did you have to cut out anything you didn’t want to cut out? (editors or otherwise?)

[CP]: Honestly, not really. There were some phrases and prose I thought was genius on my part, but more likely over-written. Ha!

[ME]: Where is Jiang Dao? You say it is across the sea. Is there any real-life counterpart to it? (like in Lord of the Rings?) :)

[CP] Nope. I may draw on a culture for inspiration, but at this point, I'm really just making stuff up. =D

[ME]: Any hints as to what happens in the sequel? Just a little?

[CP]: The sequel will be a pre-sequel. At least, that is my hope. The prequel is Silver Phoenix and Zhong Ye's story three centuries prior. the sequel follows Ai Ling and Chen Yong to Jiang Dao. And somehow, the storylines will merge. *crosses fingers* =)

[ME]: Everyone in the blogosphere seems to be raving about the descriptions of food in your book (it's something I love about Ai Ling, by the way. What a unique trait to have! And that you modeled it after yourself is the best part of all). :D Can you share a simple Asian recipe with us that we could make ourselves? (it would be amazing if it was something from the book, but anything would be wonderful). You just tantalized us too much.

[CP]: Ha! Thank you! Unfortunately, I'm a eater, not a cook. =( My mom is a wonderful Chinese cook, but I never learned anything from her. One of my favorite dishes, however, is mapo tofu. Bean curd in a spicy sauce with minced pork. Soooooo good!!

Thank you so much Cindy, it was blast talking with you. But you know, I was still itching after all that mention of food you gave. So I took the liberty and found a recipe for Mapo Tofu (courtesy of the Washington Post). I hope it is as good as your mother's. Thank you again and we're greatly looking forward to your next installment.

"The Best" Mapo Tofu

The Washington Post, October 1, 2008
  • Course: Main Course

This version of a spicy Chinese classic was judged "the best" by journalist and author Jen Lin-Liu's husband-to-be, Craig Simons. It was one of the first meals she served him when they were dating in Beijing.

A small amount of ground beef is used, more as flavoring than as main ingredient. Cubes of either firm or soft tofu can be used.

Usually, Sichuan peppercorns are sprinkled on at the end, providing a numbing sensation as the dish is eaten. But Lin-Liu prefers a more subtle use, infusing the cooking oil with Sichuan peppercorns for a few seconds, then removing them before cooking the remaining ingredients.

Serve with steamed rice.

4 to 6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 pound lean ground beef [or pork, I'm sure - WriterGirl interjection]
  • 2 tablespoons minced leek or scallion (white and light-green parts only)
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger root
  • 1/4 cup broadbean paste (a fermented, reddish-brown condiment available at Asian markets)
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine [optional - WG interjection]
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 to 15 ounces (1 package) firm or soft tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes


Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the Sichuan peppercorns and cook for a few seconds, until some of them pop and crackle. Remove the wok from the heat; use a spoon to remove and discard the peppercorns.

Return the wok to high heat; when the oil is hot, add the beef, breaking it into small pieces and stirring for a minute or two, until it begins to brown. Add the following ingredients in order, stirring for 1 minute between each addition: leek or scallion and ginger, broadbean paste, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, if desired, and sugar. Then add the water, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 4 to 5 minutes; the mixture will bubble at the edges.

Add the tofu and increase the heat to high; cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat; serve immediately.

Photo courtesy prospect.org

Recipe Source:

Adapted from Lin-Liu's "Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China" (Harcourt, 2008).

Silver Phoenix : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia
Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, April 28 '09


Feature Fun Friday - Warbreaker Cover Painting Demonstration

Current Theme Song (aka what's on my ipod right now): I Still Love You by Stuart Chatwood (Prince of Persia video game soundtrack).

I really like Brandon Sanderson's work. From what I've seen, he is among one of today's best fantasy writers. There are very few writers where I have believed so much in their world and characters as I have in his. I am absolutely in love with his Mistborn series. They are so good, they deserve the honor of being labeled in the YA section (you can tell I think very highly of YA, and guess what? So does he). :) So when I found out that his newest book, Warbreaker (a standalone) was coming out, I rushed out and gleefully (dancing around Barnes and Noble with no shame, mind you) bought it. And then I found this video. Oh. my. goodness. Have you ever wanted to see how a cover for a book was made? The painter, Dan Dos Santos, has done a time-lapse of how he painted the cover for Warbreaker, and let me tell you, it is an absolutely gorgeous cover. I know that not all book covers are made this way (I found out some are even just stock photos. That made me cry inside a little). But that makes this all the more special. You will be astounded what he is able to do with this. Purple for a face? It really works. And is it simply incredible. Have a great weekend everyone!

Artistic Thailand (and proof of me on an elephant!)

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Viva La Vida by Coldplay.

We are now winding up my week of what I did on my humanitarian trip to Thailand. Thank you so much for letting me share these with you. When I was over there, I took over 2,000 photographs. This last batch are just some that I love for the artistic value of them (as well as some fun ones of me). As you know, photography is one of my passions, and one of my secret abilities as Writer-Girl. :) I've been trying to keep my commentary to a minimum and let the photographs speak for themselves. Next week is going to be very exciting. We've got an author interview set up (which is totally tying in with this Asian theme, if that is any clue for you) ;) as well as announcing next month's contest. And keep a look out for Feature Fun Friday tomorrow, I found something incredibly awesome.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnd... ELEPHANT! ^_^

Thanks everyone. This has really been the adventure of a lifetime being able to go over and serve the people of Thailand. I will never forget that place or the people there. But tomorrow is as much an adventure as today, and I don't want to miss any of it. See you tomorrow. :)

Beauty of Thailand

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now) Clocks, cover by Twelve Girls Band (with ancient Chinese instruments. It's awesome).

Here is a taste of just how beautiful Thailand is. It is a place truly beyond words.