Monthly Archives: March 2013

Fairy Tales-The Darker, The Better

I love fairy tales! When I was about nine or ten I went through every fairy tale book I could lay my hands on. My mum had to take me to the library and the book store on a regular basis. In the end I had a lovely collection.

The Disney films were okay, but I usually found them a little boring and too sweet, especially if I’d read the original version.

Brothers Grimm and Hans Christina Andersen were a regular staple. I loved the adventures and the fact that evil always got its come-uppance. No matter what, good would always triumph. I think my need for a HEA started there;). Then I received a copy of a book of Russian Fairy Tales. It had cloth binding and black figures were stencilled into the red cover. It also had a red ribbon as a bookmark. I was in heaven. I also realised the stories were quite violent and scary, but in an abstract manner. Family members would die, limbs would come off and the hero would sometimes reach the heroine only moments after something horrible happened.

And it didn’t matter!

I still went to bed reading fairy tales. I mentioned it to my mum and she wore her concerned face. I had to reassure her that it didn’t have bad dreams.

Unfortunately I grew older and fairy tales moved more and more into the background. Reading all these great posts has reminded me how much I loved fairy tales. It has also made me dig out my e-reader and the free copy of Japanese Fairy Tales. Looking at the fabulous stories from an adult point of view I believe a country’s fairy tales shows some of the attitude and way of life of a culture.

I love it when someone takes a well-known fairy tale and reinvents it.

Fairy tales are amazing and great for every age. They are available all over the place. Take a moment, sit down and read a tale, either one you remember fondly or try something completely different.

And above all: have fun!

Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates and have a great weekend.

Tina Christopher Writer of Sexy Steampunk and Sensuous Sci-Fi available at Ellora’s Cave and Amazon.

Cinderella vs Sinderella

Sinderella is my favorite fairy tale! Ooops perhaps I should have said Cinderella?

Yes, *Jan eagerly nodding her head* when I was younger, it was Cinderella.

As a child I loved reading fairytales  Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel and so many more. It was awesome to wrap my mind around those awesome fantasy worlds. When I was a wee kid, one night my dad dragged me out of bed and sat me down on the living room couch, tossed a blanket over me, turned on the black and white tv (we didn’t get color until the early 80’s) and he said, “Watch this one. You will like it.”

He was right. LOL. OMG! I loved it! It was the 1965 musical/fantasy/romance version “Cinderella” starring actors Leslie Ann Warren and Stuart Damon.

cinderella_1965 version

cinderella 1964

Music/songs are by Rodgers and Hammerstein. I sing the songs from that movie to this very day while I am hiking in the woods. So when you come across a strange lady in the wilderness singing “It’s Possible” –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtFhREtPdiE  (check out those glass slippers!),  “Ten Minutes Ago” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIe2Y5lgahQ , or “Do I Love you because you are Beautiful?” or many others…chances are it is me singing!

Soap opera fans of General Hospital will also be thrilled to see that Stuart Damon (Alan Quartermine) plays Prince Charming. He’s so cute! As you can see by reviews on the Amazon.com site the movie is well worth the purchase if you love a sweet romance and fairy tales.

As I got older, I wrote Sinderella, my own Cinderella version – an adult erotic romance. I love this cover!!

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Here’s a peek:

By day she’s a dedicated gynecologist. By night Dr. Ella Cinder escapes reality by secretly performing in her own erotic, adult version of Cinderella, aptly re-titled Sinderella.

When sexy colleague Dr. Roarke Stephenson shows up in the Sinderella audience on the same night her Prince Charming stands her up, Ella seizes the opportunity to make Roarke into her Prince Charming for one carnal night of hot, blazing sex.in front of an audience.

But at the strike of midnight, Ella knows she must face the harsh reality that Roarke must never learn her secret life and they can never be together again. Until then, she plans on making sure he’ll never forget their night of carnal play.

Dr. Roarke Stephenson is immediately captured by the lusciously curvy actress who hides behind a mask and is known only as Sinderella. For some insane reason she reminds him of his klutzy co-worker Ella. But that’s not possible. Ella would never have the nerve to do the wickedly delicious things Sinderella does to him…or would she?

More info on Sinderella – http://www.ellorascave.com/sinderella.html  Or at other online retailers.

Thanks for dropping by and for reading my post. I hope you enjoyed it.

Hugs and Happy Fairytales!

Jan

We all have a little ugly in us…

swan

One of my favorite fairy tales is Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling.

The mother duck is hatching her last egg, one which is different from all the others that already hatched into lovely little duckettes. There’s wild speculation about what type of egg it is, because it’s big and not at all like her other eggs. Is it a turkey? The mother decides she will sit on her egg a little longer until it hatches despite it not being a duck.

At last the large egg broke, and a young one crept forth crying, “Peep, peep.” It was very large and ugly. The duck stared at it and exclaimed, “It is very large and not at all like the others. I wonder if it really is a turkey. We shall soon find it out, however when we go to the water. It must go in, if I have to push it myself.”

Poor duckling, so unlike his siblings. An outcast, black sheep and worst of all, different. During my childhood, I remember thinking that I never quite fit in. It was an internal thing with me. I had friends and fun in school, but a part of me never completely fit the social mode. I call it The Me, Not Me syndrome.

Because the duckling doesn’t look like everyone else, the other ducks bite him and tease him. One duck wants him to leave. I love how the mother sticks up for her odd little son, seeing the good in him and downplaying his ugliness. Character over beauty.

“Let him alone,” said the mother; “he is not doing any harm.”

“Yes, but he is so big and ugly,” said the spiteful duck “and therefore he must be turned out.”

“That is impossible, your grace,” replied the mother; “he is not pretty; but he has a very good disposition, and swims as well or even better than the others. I think he will grow up pretty, and perhaps be smaller; he has remained too long in the egg, and therefore his figure is not properly formed;” and then she stroked his neck and smoothed the feathers, saying, “It is a drake, and therefore not of so much consequence. I think he will grow up strong, and able to take care of himself.”e others are very pretty children,” said the old duck, with the rag on her leg, “all but that one; I wish his mother could improve him a little.”

The duckling finds himself alone in the big world. Being ugly isn’t all bad because it saves him from being hunted. He discovers his love for water and wants to find his own path.

“You don’t understand me,” said the duckling.

“We don’t understand you? Who can understand you, I wonder? Do you consider yourself more clever than the cat, or the old woman? I will say nothing of myself. Don’t imagine such nonsense, child, and thank your good fortune that you have been received here. Are you not in a warm room, and in society from which you may learn something. But you are a chatterer, and your company is not very agreeable. Believe me, I speak only for your own good. I may tell you unpleasant truths, but that is a proof of my friendship. I advise you, therefore, to lay eggs, and learn to purr as quickly as possible.”

Instead of taking the advice of others, he goes out in the world again, searching for where he belongs. It’s this journey of self-discovery that transforms him into his true self – a beautiful swan. Others now appreciate his beauty, yet, all those times he was jeered at, teased and told that he was ugly has scarred him. At first he’s ashamed for being happy that he’s beautiful. When this moment passes, he allows his happiness and joy to shine through.

Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”

I love ‘ugly duckling’ stories – a person’s journey in finding their true self. In romance, often times our hero(ines) are beautiful, handsome, powerful, seemingly perfect. The characters that stand out are the one’s that are flawed. Everyone has some ‘ugly duckling’ in them and if brought out in a story, it makes the character real, complex and fascinating to watch their discovery of what’s truly important.

Viki Lyn
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Viki Lyn: Award winning author of male/male paranormal and contemporary romances. You can find all of Viki’s books at the following sites: Amazon, All Romance Ebooks and GLBT Bookshelf.

Pride will be the death of him.

When psychic Nate Coleman dreams of a murder, he knows it’s a premonition. He can’t forget the image of his ex-lover with a bullet hole through his chest. Nate has no choice but to confront William and face the skeptical scientist’s ridicule.

Dr. William Ryner doesn’t believe in what he can’t prove. When Nate comes back into his life, it’s not to rekindle their love, but to bring up more of that mumbo jumbo that split them apart.

Despite William’s refusal to listen, Nate can’t ignore the premonition. And, William can’t ignore Nate. Before the gunman strikes, William must either trust in Nate’s ability or rely only on the facts, but if he does the latter, pride could be the death of him.

The Power of the Babe

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great… You have no power over me.”

labyrinth-cover

Believe it or not, but I wrote that quotation from memory. It comes, as you should know (and if not, why not?!) from Labyrinth – the story of Sarah, who wishes the Goblin King take her step-brother away and then has to navigate a strange realm in order to get him back. Labyrinth is a film I first saw as a young teen and have loved ever since. I have the Collector’s Edition on DVD. And the soundtrack.

For those that haven’t seen it *glares* Sarah is a young woman living in a dream world after the death of her mother. Though her father has moved on, remarried and now has a child, she’s trapped in the past, not willing to let go. She behaves like her stepmother is something from a fairytale and is convinced that she’s not being treated fairly. Left to babysit, she takes umbrage at baby brother Toby’s constant crying and, using a cue from a story, utters the fatal words: “I wish the Goblin King would take you away. Right now.”

Jareth, the infamous King and played by a glorious camp David Bowie, does as Sarah wishes, except she’s not all that grateful and quickly realises what she’s done. But to get her brother back, she has to solve the Labyrinth and that isn’t anywhere near as easy as she thinks it’ll be – it’s a world of hidden doors, shifting walls and oubliettes ready to trap the unwary.

labrinth-ballroom

The film itself is absolutely beautiful and the Labyrinth looks like a true fairy kingdom. Or should that be goblin kingdom? Either way, the twisting paths and the richly drawn characters make it a memory that sticks with you long after the credits have rolled. The songs are just as catchy, too.

Songs? Oh yes, there are songs. From title track Underground, through Magic Dance (where I borrowed the blog title) to the haunting As The World Falls Down played during the Ballroom Scene, the songs are as much a part of the story as the plot and characters.

Labyrinth is a coming-of-age story. But unlike a certain popular trilogy, it’s not about falling in love (though there is that as well), it’s about a young woman discovering her place in the world, and in the power she has to control her own destiny. It’s also about moving on after a loss. It’s about putting away childish things but not losing that wonder. And it’s about friendships.

If you’ve never seen it, go and grab yourself a copy. But be prepared to hum the tunes for at least a week!

The Curse of Levity and the Love of Gravity

thelightprincess

The truth is, I have a ton of favorite fairy tales, the darker the better. Bluebeard or The Wild Swans, for example, appeal to that side of me. But there is no doubt that one of my all time favorites is The Light Princess by George MacDonald. Given that the story centers around a princess who has been cursed to lose her gravity, one might image it to be a light tale, full of humor and jokes. It isn’t that at all, however. There are few crueler things than someone who cannot empathize with pain or sadness and The Light Princess demonstrates that well.

floating

In fact, I was so inspired by the many questions the story brings up about the ties between an ability to experience pain and the ability to experience love, that the first fairy tale Keira and I worked on for our Tempting Tales series was an erotic, m/m rewrite of the story. We chose it because the themes were so fascinating, but also because when the gender of the protagonists change from a m/f story to a m/m story, it highlights those issues even more by removing the sharp edge of misogyny inevitably present in the original work.

The outcome of our experiment is titled Earthly Desires, and we are quite proud of it.

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An Excerpt from Earthly Desires

Dmitri didn’t understand it, but as he gazed at Efrosin’s lips, he felt a heretofore unfamiliar, and yet compelling surge of need pulse through him, and before he could stop himself, he leaned forward and kissed those lips. The answering gasp, followed by more laughter that seemed to fill his own mouth and tickle against his palate, did not discourage him at all.

Efrosin’s lips were soft and his tongue was slick and he didn’t pull away from Dmitri’s clumsy attempt, but rather deepened the kiss in a way that made Dmitri’s toes curl and blood rush to his cock. For a confused moment he thought he was kissing an angel before he remembered that he was only kissing a prince. A free-floating, beautiful, powerful, laughing prince. Perhaps “only” was not quite the proper word.

“Lovely,” Efrosin exclaimed, pulling away and licking his lips. “I hope you intend to ravish me, because I have always imagined it would be quite fun to be ravished. No one’s ever tried it with me, alas.” Efrosin frowned a little and licked his mouth. “You taste like dirt. It’s delicious, though I’ve never enjoyed the taste of dirt before. How odd.”

“You taste like clouds,” Dmitri said, hoping it was a compliment.

“I ate quite a few during my journey to this tree,” Efrosin said. “I…feel a bit strange. Quick. Kiss me again.”

Dmitri, reminded of Efrosin’s perilous flight, came to his senses, and while he was not willing to say that he would not kiss the prince again, he did think there were just a few things that should be accomplished first. “We must get you down.”

Efrosin frowned, seeming much less intent on getting back to the earth now that he had company in the tree. “But you will kiss me again?”

“Once we’re safe.” Dmitri looked down to choose which limbs they should try, and immediately wished he hadn’t. His head swirled with the distance between his body and the earth below. He’d never before climbed so high.

“Safe is such a thrilling state of being. I can’t remember the last time I felt safe. Grip my hands,” Efrosin said. “Don’t let go.”

Dmitri took Efrosin’s smooth hands into his own, and Efrosin began to shake with amusement again. “Your calluses tickle. Now, hold tight. It will be fun.”

“What will be?” Dmitri asked.

“Jump.”

“What?”

“We are tied hand and foot, and you have hold of my hands. All will be well. Trust me.”

It was surprisingly hard to trust laughing royalty. “We’ll die. It’s too far.”

“Too far? What a silly notion.”

Dmitri’s last thought when Efrosin kicked his feet out from under him with a strong swipe was, At least I got to kiss him. They tumbled into the air, crashing into branches below until Efrosin pushed off against the tree trunk, thrusting them both clear. It was only then Dmitri realized how slowly the ground rose up to meet them.

“Your weight to bring us down,” Efrosin sang in his ear. “My levity to keep us from being quite smashed.” There was more laughter, and then a curl of words in his ear, which, coupled with the rush of adrenaline coursing through his veins, made Dmitri’s cock stiffen against the hard bone of Efrosin’s hip. “And you will ravish me, won’t you? Once we’re on the ground. You promised. You’re so handsome, and your hands are so big. I’m aquiver at the thought of you on me, in me, touching me—”

“Oh my God,” Dmitri choked. “Do you speak to everyone who gets you down from trees this way?”


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Buy Earthly Desires at Ellora’s CaveAmazonBarnes & NobleSony and All Romance eBooks.


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Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and others! And also remember to look at Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

Hands Down… Snow White

I love the story of Snow White. It has a little of everything… magic, betrayal, jealousy, the fight between good and evil, all that fun stuff. Now, even the Disney version has those things, but the original story is much darker, as is true with most fairy tales, which have been sanitized for modern children—who apparently are hardy enough to play Grand Theft Auto, but too delicate for dark literature!

Of course, like many heroines of the early Middle Ages, Snow White is pretty daft (they don’t call that period the Dark Ages for nothing!) and the queen gets not one but three chances to kill her, once she realizes the huntsman didn’t do the job the first time around. But, despite that, it’s still my favorite, because each time I think I’ve seen or read the very last interpretation I can of it, some wonderful author comes up with another. I’ve read Sapphic, vampiric, erotic and adventure interpretations, even a BDSM one, and each retelling highlights a different facet of the story, sometimes even introduces me to one I hadn’t considered.

Maybe that’s why it remains my favorite. It’s a story in and of itself, yet has enough nuances and levels that it lends itself to true longevity. After all, there’s no higher compliment than imitation and I think Snow White, its themes and sub-plots, will continue to spawn new stories as long as humans still exist.

For two of my favorite modern versions, check out Snow, by Deborah M. Brown, and Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman, found in his Smoke and Mirrors anthology.

Anya
Journeys Through Seduction

Anya Richards/Anya Delvay books available from Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo.

Happily Ever After

Hello Everyone,

Fairytales. Love em? Hate em?

I for one love them. There is just something so uplifting when it comes to a happily ever after.

But which is my favorite? This is a really hard question. I like so many. And I love reading them as much as I love watching the different renditions of them on film.

Of course I watched the Disney versions as a child. I loved Cinderella. But there are also some non-animated versions I liked better. The first one I ever remember seeing that wasn’t animated was Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

But as time went on the movies involving fairytales became so much better.

Ever After

Loved this version of Cinderella.

But my most favorite would  have to be Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

Now I really wanted to find something with the music from the sound track in it, but as I was looking at the trailers I noticed the music played in them was from Willow. Another awesome movie by the way LOL.

When I was in band we learned to play the music from that sound track and played it for our year end concert. Yeah, first confession, I was a band nerd. Trumpet. Go brass! But the music from this was awesome. I can not tell you how many times I have watched this movie. So this would have to be my favorite fairytale. 🙂

But I must give a nod to Once Upon a Time and Grimm. I love these two television series. 🙂

Check out Seductive Reunion and see why it received five stars. 🙂

9781419940163

http://harliebooks.blogspot.com/2012/06/seductive-reunion-review.html?zx=35fffb687436f08d

Best wishes,

Virginia Cavanaugh

The Nightingale

I ADORE fairytales. We had a giant book of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm when I was a kid. (Actually, I still have it.) I loved the familiar ones, because I could see what really happened in the stories without the Disney candy coating. (Spoiler alert Denise, The Little Mermaid dies at the end. Sorry!)

But my real favorites were the ones that I only found in those books. The girl with 7 brothers who were turned into swans. The dogs with eyes as big as teacups and towers. And then, my favorite, The Nightingale.

The story is simple. A Chinese emperor heard from a kitchen maid that a tiny brown bird had the most beautiful song in all the kingdom. He ordered the bird into his court, and the nightingale sang for him and all his friends. But then someone brought a mechanical bird, covered with gold and jewels, who could sing just as beautifully as the nightingale. The emperor forgot the real bird in lieu of the wind-up one, and the real bird left for its home in the forest.

Several years later, the wind-up bird had grown so fragile that it was hardly used at all, and then it broke completely. The emperor grew very ill, and Death perched on the end of his bed. The emperor begs for music to keep Death away, in a line I still say to myself every time I turn on the tunes:

“Music! Music! The great Chinese drum!”

The nightingale hears of the emperor’s condition, and leaves the forest and sings at his bedside. Death is so moved by her song that he agrees to leave the emperor. The emperor apologizes to the bird for the way he treated her, and she agrees to come back and sing for him as long as she can come and go as she pleases.

Sigh. I love this story. It reminds us that as cool as technology is, nature is even cooler. Yeah, I’m a fruity hippie. 😉

 

Have you heard of this one? Do you have a favorite that isn’t so well-known? Tell me! I love new fairytales. 🙂

 

Twisted Fairytales

I love fairytales. Always have. Read everything I could get my hands on – including some of the unsanitized versions that included blood and lopping off body parts. So I can’t give you a favorite. I love ’em all. HOWEVER. We can talk about execution.

Unless you are of a certain age, you won’t know Fractured Fairytales from the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. Without fail, these are some of my fav reworks of classic fairytales. I linked in “Leaping Beauty”, but if you search Youtube for Fractured Fairytales, you’ll find a bunch of five to six minute episodes.

Twenty plus years past the era of Fractured Fairytales, Shelly Duvall produced Fairytale Theatre. Cheesy, fun sets. Silly costumes. STELLAR casts. It’s like she blackmailed a bunch of her friends into doing this project with her. Some of the shows are funnier than others, but my two favorites of hers are Cinderella (Jennifer Beale and Matthew Broderick) and The Princess and the Pea.  Here’s the opener for Princess and the Pea.

In books, Robin McKinley made Beauty and the Beast my very favorite retold fairytale of all time. Her book, BEAUTY, is one of my desert island books.

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Beauty by Robin McKinley

How about you? Are you a strict traditionalist when it comes to fairytales? Or do you get into the retellings – the more twisted the better?

Yay Thingamabobs and Whatsits Galore!

Muscular hunkToday’s MANhandler picture has, as usual, nothing to do with my post. Enjoy!

On to today’s topic: Favorite Fairytales. This means it’s confession time. I’m a complete and total “Little Mermaid” junky. It’s true. (sigh) I stalked kids at the theater so people wouldn’t realize I was there to see it by myself. I bought an extra DVD when it was available so that I’d have an emergency copy in case of “mishap.” And, uh, Iknowallthewordstothesongs. There are several things about the Little Mermaid that make it a favorite story of mine, despite the fact I didn’t know the story until later in life.

First, I can totally relate to Ariel’s overwhelming desire to live somewhere else. I have a perpetual, incurable case of wanderlust, so I’m forever eyeing the next stop of life’s journey and yearning for it. “I want to be where the people are” is a battle cry for me. I want to surround myself with the “new,” and tend to become obsessed with “thingamabobs” and “whatsits” of faraway, seemingly impossible places (*cough*Ireland*cough*). I can, and have, become so focused on what’s coming that I forget to celebrate what is. Fortunately, I’ve had good friends around me to keep me grounded.

This brings me to my second talking point. Ariel has friends who have her back. Always. And even though they’re a lobster, a fish and a trippy seagull, they have her best interests at heart. They hold the hard lines with her when they need to, even though they don’t always win. And they are always there to commiserate and celebrate. The one thing I would have changed would have been the fact that all her friends are male. I would have loved to see her given a female friend and for that friendship to be valued by the prince. Seems women are forever denied strong female friendships in fairytales while the “evil” sisters or step-mothers or witches are elevated and thrust forward so we’re sure to know who the bad “guy” is.

My final talking point is, not surprisingly, the prince. Prince Eric falls in love with Ariel without the benefit of words and, for someone who talks a LOT (me), this is impressive. The two find a way to overcome their differences and he loves her in spite of a perceived “disability.” This is HUGE. Even though she’s this undeniable beauty, she’s not perfect, and that made the whole story so much more appealing to me. He loves her, not the evil Ursula in disguise (again, a beautiful woman disguise — and why do all the evil women have dark hair???) who’s ironically sporting Ariel’s amazing voice. That Eric loved her when he could have had a woman who wasn’t mute made me mad-crazy in love with him.

What are your thoughts on the Little Mermaid? Do you have a different take on it that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. One final thought: if you’ve never read the original fairytale? DON’T. Just…spare yourself. I read it as research for this blog and I’m clinging to my lyrics and HEA harder than ever. Sea foam? Three hundred years for a soul? Prince Charms-a-Little? EEK! Disney, I’m all about your version.

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