Interview: Annie Reed on “Chance of Bunnies and Occasional Toad”

“Chance of Bunnies and Occasional Toad” is in Innocence and Deceit, the second volume in the Ever After Fairy Tales anthology series.

Enter the magical, unpredictable, wonderful world of fairy tales!

Meet Annie Reed

Dean Wesley Smith says Annie is considered to be one of the best short story writers coming into fiction in the last decade. Annie divides her time between writing short fiction (her first love) and novels in whatever genre strikes her fancy. She’s one of the founding members of the innovative Uncollected Anthology, a series of themed urban and contemporary fantasy collections. Her stories have appeared on recommended reading lists and in Year’s Best collections. Her most popular fantasy stories, including her Diz and Dee detective stories, are set in a fictional version of Seattle called Moretown Bay. Her novels include the private eye Abby Maxon mysteries set in Northern Nevada, A Death in Cumberland featuring rural Nevada Sheriff Jill Jordan, and the suspense novel Shadow Life, written under the pen name Kris Sparks.

“Chance of Bunnies and Occasional Toad”

A visit to one of her favorite childhood places gives Cecily one last chance to find the magic she lost growing up in “Chance of Bunnies and Occasional Toad.” Not only for herself, but for her aunt, a free spirit who taught Cecily the value of imagination.

Excerpt

One side and the back of Aunt Gin’s yard were closed off with a tall redwood fence, but the other side had only a little split-rail fence. On the other side of the split-rail fence was a field that seemed to go on forever.

“That’s why I love this place,” Aunt Gin had told her one time when they were sitting beneath the maple tree. “All that open space, as far as I care to see. There’s magic in open spaces, you know. That’s where imagination lives.”

At ten, Cecily didn’t know about magic, but she knew about the rabbits that lived in the fields. She saw them now and then, cute little brown bunnies with fluffy white tails. She told her aunt once that she wished she could hold one because it looked so soft and cuddly

“You can’t hold magic, Cici. If you try, it runs away. That’s why adults can’t see magic anymore. They want to own it. Control it. They’ve forgotten how to slow down and just let the magic happen.”

—from “Chance of Bunnies and Occasional Toad” by Annie Reed

The Interview

“Chance of Bunnies and Occasional Toad” evokes a wonderful sense of magic hidden in plain sight. What inspired you to write this lovely story?

You’re going to laugh, but the inspiration came from a toad that dug a hole for itself beneath one of the bushes in our front yard. Cottontail bunnies frequently visit our yard to munch on the grass, but this was the first toad we’d seen. I came up with the title for the story from that encounter, and it just grew from there.

What difference do you see between today’s fairy tale retellings, and the types of fairy tales that were told a hundred of years  ago? 

That’s a tough question. The well-known fairy tales—Hansel & Gretel, the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Little Red-Cap (Little Red Riding Hood), Snow White—that was some pretty scary stuff, especially if you were a kid (or a beautiful young woman). I don’t know about anyone else who retells fairy tales, but I like to put the wonder back in the tale without necessarily scaring the crap out of kids along the way.

What do you enjoy about incorporating fairy tale elements in your own writing?

Tapping into the common elements of a story like a fairy tale that a lot of people grew up with is a shorthand way of shaping expectations, but then I like to twist those elements around. Turn the scary into the wondrous, or look at a character or situation from a different perspective. That’s fun for me.

The original fairy tales were often cautionary tales, told to teach lessons. Do you find some of these lessons still apply in today’s world? 

Sure. Especially how not to take things at face value, but use your own judgment. 

A while back you participated in a challenge and wrote a short story each week for an entire year. One of those stories turned into your novel Iris & Ivy. What’s the novel about, and what was the short story that inspired you to expand it?

The novel’s about a woman who has to track down her twin’s killer so that her twin’s ghost can find peace. In order to do that, she has to become the twin she’d lost touch with—basically become more than just the party girl she’d always assumed her twin was—and serve herself up as bait for a killer who’s more than happy to go after the same woman again so he can get it right this time.

While I liked the main character in the short story, I didn’t have a lot of time to flesh out either her life or her twin’s life. I also wasn’t really happy with the killer or his motivation in the short story. The novel let me play around with more points of view, to dig deeper into the murdered twin’s life, and to come up with a killer I really liked (I know, that sounds weird [unless you’re a crime writer *g*]). And while I thought I already knew the basic story going in since I’d written the short story version, the novel surprised me a lot during the writing and I’m really happy I expanded the story into a novel.

Iris & Ivy is set in Moretown Bay, the same fictional version of Seattle you use in your Diz and Dee fantasy detective series. Do the two story lines overlap? If not, do you plan to write overlapping stories in this world?

They don’t at this point. The Diz and Dee mysteries tend to be lighter in tone than some of the other Moretown Bay books, like Iris & Ivy, my novella Unbroken Familiar, or my short story collection Tales From the Shadows.  Diz showed up in another Moretown Bay short story—“Roxie”—that’s in Fiction River: Sparks, but I hadn’t planned on that happening. In Moretown Bay, the neighborhoods tend to overlap more than the characters do. But you never know. I never know what’s going to happen when I start writing one of these stories. 

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I have a sweet romance novel I’m finishing up—the first of many, I hope—and sweet romances are always fun to write.  On the flip side, I’m working on a noir mystery series tentatively called Saints & Sinners (all of the crimes have something to do with religion) that’s letting me expand on a character I created in my short story “The Flower of the Tabernacle” published in Fiction River: Recycled Pulp. Expanding the world of a character I really like is also a lot of fun for me, and besides—I always like figuring out whodunnit, since I rarely know when I start writing a mystery. 

About Annie

A frequent contributor to the Fiction River anthologies and Pulphouse Fiction Magazine, Annie Reed’s recent work includes the urban fantasy mystery novels Unbroken Familiar and Iris & Ivy, and the near-future science fiction short novel In Dreams. Annie’s also one of the founding members of the innovative Uncollected Anthology, a series of themed urban fantasy stories published three times a year written by some of the best writers working today.

Annie’s full-length novels include the Abby Maxon private investigator novels Pretty Little Horses and Paper Bullets, the Jill Jordan mystery A Death in Cumberland, and the suspense novel Shadow Life, written under the name Kris Sparks, as well as numerous other projects she can’t wait to get to.

Find Annie

Website ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find Innocence and Deceit!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Apple Books ~ Books2Read ~ Goodreads
 
 

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Interview: Todd Fahnestock and Giles Carwyn on “True Love (Or the Many Brides of Prince Charming)”

“True Love (Or the Many Brides of Prince Charming)” is in Innocence and Deceit, the second volume in the Ever After Fairy Tales anthology series.

Enter the magical, unpredictable, wonderful world of fairy tales!

Meet Todd Fahnestock and Giles Carwyn!

Todd and Giles have been friends since high school. They co-wrote The Heartstone Trilogy, an epic fantasy that begins in the city-state of Ohndarien and includes murder, treachery, invasion, and the curse of a fallen city of sorcerers. Todd collects quotes, is fascinated by slang, and spends as much time as he can with his quirky, fun-loving family. Giles has worked as a film script analyst, and is currently focusing on writing screenplays.

“True Love (Or the Many Brides of Prince Charming”

Some people blame poor Prince Charming for throwing Cinderella into the dungeon, having little Snow White beheaded, and ordering Sleeping Beauty to be burned at the stake. But “True Love (or the Many Brides of Prince Charming)” tells us the other side of the story…

Excerpt

The glass slipper should have tipped him off. Cinderella’s odd carriage should have nailed the coffin shut on her chances of marriage. There were hints all along of trouble to come, but Charming was smitten. He could see nothing beyond her beauty, her soft skin, her fine figure. Her dulcimer voice haunted his memories.

But what kind of a woman owns glass shoes? Shoes in which the slightest misstep meant severe lacerations? What kind of a woman shuttled herself around in a squash? From the moment she stepped out of the coach, Charming should have realized she was out of her gourd.

With that damn slipper, Charming managed to find Cinderella. He and his entourage went door to door, searching for the owner of the glass slipper. When he found it fit upon the delicate foot of a servant girl he could not have been happier. Two days later he was married.

No one truly knows what occurred on the honeymoon. As honeymoons should be, it was an affair between the young lovers alone, but Charming returned with a smile on his lips and light in his eyes.

Things went downhill after that.

—from “True Love (Or the Many Brides of Prince Charming)” by Todd Fahnestock and Giles Carwyn

The Interview – Giles Carwyn

“True Love (Or the Many Brides of Prince Charming)” is a humorous take on Prince Charming and his brides Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. What’s your favorite part about this story? 

My favorite part of the True Love is the way it subverts expectations. The idea for the story came when I was on a blind date in college. My date asked,  “Why did Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White all fall for Prince Charming? Don’t they all know that he is cheating on all of them.” My immediate urge was to flip her question around and paint Charming as the poor romantic fool who had been betrayed by each of the women. (Which my date thought was very funny, but not funny enough to want a second date.) That idea of the thrice married man being a victim rather than a player was the initial inspiration for the story Todd and I wrote.

Is there a fairy tale that you really enjoy, or which has stuck with you? If so, which one—and what do you find compelling about this particular story? 

Of all the classic fairy tales, I find Beauty and the Beast the most compelling. That’s mostly because I’m a sucker for dancing spoons and Disney romances, but I also appreciate the deeper meaning of the story. I have heard an interpretation that the story is about women learning to love the animalistic parts of men and men’s sexuality and men learning to love women for who they are, not for what the can give you. People criticize the story for being a romanticization of Stockholm Syndrome (which it is) but on a deeper level I think it is about finding Beauty (humanity) within the Beast and the Beast (strength/value) within the Beauty.

The original fairy tales were often cautionary tales, told to teach lessons. Do you find some of these lessons still apply in today’s world? 

I would say that all stories are cautionary tales. And I find it fascinating how humans keep updating our favorite old stories to address new things we need to be cautioned about. The way I see it, the “original” fairy tales were mostly focused on gaining wealth and status like marrying a prince in Cinderella or finding a great treasure in Aladdin. Then those stories were then rewritten in the 20th century with happy/romantic endings that were focused on gaining “true love” rather than wealth or status. More recently, as we have become more skeptical of the idea that kissing a super hot stranger will lead to lifelong happiness, the tales are getting rewritten again. More modern fairy tales like Shrek (which is focused on emotional intelligence and gentrification) and Wall-e (which is focused on isolation and environmental sustainability) are still cautionary tales, they are just cautioning about different things.

Giles, you’re working on a series of middle-grade books about children who find four magic hats. Other than the magical aspect, what’s special about these hats?

There are four children in the book. One experiences the world through his mind and tries to solve all his problems by being smart. One experiences the world through her emotions and tries to solve all her problems through relationships with other people. A third experiences the world through her body and tries to solve all her problems by being active and assertive. And the last experiences the world through his ideals and tries to solve all his problems by staying positive. All of them are struggling because their narrow approaches to life don’t work very well. Then they discover the magic hats which represent the four archetypes of the Lover, the Warrior, the Magician, and the Sovereign. Putting on different hats causes the wearer to start thinking different thoughts and feeling different feelings. That leads the children to discover and learn to appreciate the four different approaches to life: being smart, being connected, being assertive, or being positive. As each of the children learns the strengths and weaknesses of each approach, they become more confident and well-rounded people. And then… Of course…  All hell breaks loose. The four of them need band together and use all their new skills to save the magical land that the hats came from.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing? 

These days I am focusing on screenplays. I’m in the middle of revising a King Arthur story that focus on Merlin and the Lady of the Lake’s relationship as they try to train an adolescent Arthur to become the king the Brittain needs. What’s fun about the story is that Merlin and Nimue have very different ideas of what makes a great king. Merlin has a very masculine approach. Nimue has a very feminine approach. And they fall in love as they argue about how to raise Arthur, who being a teenager, doesn’t want to listen to anything either of them say. .

I am also working a script called the Phantom of the O. It is a retelling of Phantom of the Opera set in a modern day New York City sex club. The heart of the story is taking a deeper look at the pressure, support, and judgments women put on each other around their sexuality. What I enjoy  most about the story is the edgy, sexy and ultimately very heartfelt relationship between our heroine and the Phantom. He’s really cool, in a deeply broken kind of way.

The Interview – Todd Fahnestock

“True Love (Or the Many Brides of Prince Charming)” is a humorous take on Prince Charming and his brides Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. What’s your favorite part about this story?

For me, it was the last part of Charming’s interaction with Sleeping Beauty, when her obsession with sharp things comes to a pointy crescendo of profanity. I always laugh aloud. Though where Giles started and I left off in the story is often fuzzy in my memory, I’m pretty sure he wrote that part, which is likely why it always makes me laugh.

Is there a fairy tale that you really enjoy, or which has stuck with you? If so, which one—and what do you find compelling about this particular story? 

Interestingly, the “fairy tale” that has stuck in my mind forever was a novel based on the life of Sleeping Beauty. It was a fractured fairy tale, of sorts. The name of the book was Beauty, and for the life of me I can’t remember the author’s name, but the story followed Beauty from the original fairy tale into a harrowing journey to all kinds of places you wouldn’t associate with the character. It was a dark, apocalyptic fantasy of the past and the future, rife with diabolical faeries, time traveling psychopaths, and a horrific possible future ending of the world. Beauty is caught up in this nightmare, an object of desire for some pretty horrible men, and her character arc is one of strength, growth and perseverance. One of the most interesting characters is the faerie Puck, who alternately betrays Beauty and saves her life (which, I suppose, is in his job description, fickle fellow that he is). I read this in college many years ago, and I wish I could find a copy of it and read it again. It made an impression on me.

[Giles’s note: The book is Beauty by Sherri S. Tepper]

The original fairy tales were often cautionary tales, told to teach lessons. Do you find some of these lessons still apply in today’s world?

I do, though I think it depends on the particular faerie tale and the particular lesson. Some of them were pretty black and white morality plays, and we just don’t live in a black and white world anymore.

Todd, what is “slanglift,” and do you use any of the slang you come across in your writing?

Ha ha! I love the “slanglift” part of my website. It’s a composite of two of my great joys: language and teenagers. I love kids. I love to play with young kids, running around, making them laugh (one of my greatest inventions of all time is a game called Cake Monster, which has mostly to do with chasing kids around the yard), and I love listening to teenagers, with all the brilliant things their hyperactive minds produce. Sometimes, if I can get away with it, I’ll set my phone to voice recording while I’m taking my daughter Elo and her friends to a dance or back home from play practice, just to record the way they talk to one another. I’m fascinated by how quickly teen slang will come and go. A personality-defining phrase in 2018 will suddenly vanish in 2019. It reminds me that teenagers are in a time warp compared to me. A year of my life is like a brick stacked on a single tower I’ve been building for 49 years. A year of their lives, by comparison, is like a million bricks, forming dozens of little towers, an entire mini-civilization, a Rome that actually IS built in a day. And it can vanish just as quickly, these “towers” of their relationships, of their catch-phrases, falling into disuse within months. I love to capture these “eras” before they pass, immortalizing the ruins of their bygone teen parlance on my website.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing? 

Oh! Such a great question. I’m working on an epic fantasy novel called Brilliant. It’s a story about the inquisitive, sarcastic and romantic Brom, who attends the Champion’s Academy, a school of magic where all would-be magicians (called Quadrons in this world) must train. The school is run by a mysterious and nigh-omnipotent group known only as The Four, and as we follow Brom through his time at the school, we discover that The Four may not be as benevolent as they seem…

About Todd

Todd Fahnestock is a writer of fantasy for all ages. His bestselling The Wishing World series for middle grade readers began as bedtime stories for his children. His epic fantasy series include: Threadweavers, The Heartstone Trilogy and The Whisper Prince Trilogy. Charlie Fiction, a time travel urban fantasy, is his latest novel. Stories are his passion, but Todd’s greatest accomplishment is his quirky, fun-loving family. When he’s not writing, he goes on morning runs with his daughter, wrestles with his son, and practices Tae Kwon Do. With the rest of his free time, he drives the love of his life crazy with the emotional rollercoaster that is being a full time author.

Find Todd

Website ~ Facebook ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

About Giles

Giles Carwyn is a novelist, screenwriter, husband, father. He co-authored the Heartstone Trilogy with Todd Fahnestock published by Harper Collins in 2006-2008. While living in Los Angeles he worked as script analyst for Phoenix Pictures. He has presented workshops on various aspects of the writer’s craft through Pike’s Peak Writers and Delve Writers. His also a licensed Shadow Work® Facilitator and Coach who specializes in men’s sexuality. He is a co-creator of the Eros Work Program and the Men’s Sexual Shadow Transformation Weekend with Shadow Work® founder Cliff Barry. He currently lives in Asheville, NC and is working on a historical screenplay about the mentoring relationship between Merlin and the teenage King Arthur.

Find Giles

Website ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find Innocence and Deceit!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Apple Books ~ Books2Read ~ Goodreads
 
 

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Interview: Leah Cutter on “The Lizard Horses”

“The Lizard Horses” is in Innocence and Deceit, the second volume in the Ever After Fairy Tales anthology series.

Enter the magical, unpredictable, wonderful world of fairy tales!

Meet Leah Cutter!

When Leah was eight years old, she wrote in her journal, “When I grow up, I want to be a writer.” She now writes everything from fantasy to science fiction to mystery. She’s a member of the Uncollected Anthology, an urban and contemporary fantasy collective, and of the syndicate Boundary Shock Quarterly, whose motto is “On theme. With weird.”

“The Lizard Horses”

“The Lizard Horses” is set in modern-day Hungary. Jelek loves reading old myths and legends, like the stories of Hungarian wizards, how they only drink milk and always carry around weighty spell books. But what if some myths are true?

Excerpt

Still, I decided to catch at least a few now. I slid my crutch across the threshold and poked at the nest, startling the brood hen. She stood up and hissed at me, spreading her wings wide.

Five lizards sped out from loose collection of hay and grass under her.

I pushed myself back, startled, landing on my ass in the dirt.

Stupid tyúk. Lizards ate eggs. Bird probably had been keeping them warm for a week, not her chicks.

I grabbed my crutch and struck at the lizards coming out of the hut. Missed the first one as it raced away, and the second one as well. I ended up smacking the ground hard, jarring my arms as I pounded the dirt.

But the next three came out in a straight line. Whack. With a single stroke, I stunned them all. Then I took my crutch in both hands and smacked them again and again, until they were all dead.

They were some of the ugliest lizards I’d ever seen. Gray-stone colored, with nobby heads and matching points running down their spines. Their jaws were funny as well, over developed, like they could unhinge them to swallow something bigger than their heads.

—from The Lizard Horses by Leah Cutter

The Interview

“The Lizard Horses” is based on the Hungarian Folk Tale “The Dragon Rider.” Why did you choose this particular tale as the basis for your story? 

I wrote “The Lizard Horses” for an anthology call. I believe the spec called for stories based on myths. I’m familiar with a lot of non-traditional myths and stories. I went paging through one of my large collections, and ran across “The Dragon Rider.” I’d read it before, and everything all clicked in my head for this story when I read it with this anthology call in mind. I didn’t sell the short story to the anthology (though I did get a nice rejection letter.) 

What do you enjoy about incorporating fairy tale elements in your own writing? 

I love taking the existing tropes, fairy tales or others, and twisting them. What can I do to make this idea new, different, fresh and unusual? I also love fantasy, magic, and the hidden things lurking in the corners of the garden. All of these things regularly influence my writing, whether I consciously use them or not.

Traditional fairy tales varies depending on where the tellers lived. Is there a geographical region (or regions) whose fairy tales resonate more with you? And if so, why? 

I’ve read so many fairy tales and myths from all over the world. I have lots of collections. I find they Mongolian myths fascinating, because of the horses. I love the dream-like quality of some of the South American myths. And the darkness of the eastern European myths. 

You’ve written another story about feathered serpents mating with chickens! “The Challenges of Raising Urban Chickens” is part of the Uncollected Anthology’s Beasties issue. Did you change the mythology you used between that story and “The Lizard Horses?” 

Oh yes. They aren’t related at all. The feathered serpent in “Chickens” is from South America, and it’s speculated that he’s a “snow bird” – traveling north in the summer when it’s hot, then migrating south again during the winter. “The Lizard Horses” uses a very different Hungarian serpent.

What are some of the fairy tale elements you’ve incorporated in your Seattle Troll Series? 

Trolls are used as changelings in many, many of the European myths. And that’s where I start with in “The Changeling Troll” – a troll who’s been raised as human, so her human “sister” can fulfill her destiny. There are a lot of tropes I play with there, such as Trolls loving the underground, guarding bridges, being short tempered and “troll-like”. The second trilogy (The Troll Wars series) introduces a lot of different species, and I had a lot of fun taking what was expected and twisting it.


You write in multiple genres, including fantasy, mystery, science fiction, horror. Do you have a favorite genre?

I always seem to come back to fantasy. While I’ll write other things, fantasy appeared to be my one true love. In particular, contemporary fantasy. That’s the “flavor” of fantasy in which I have the most novels finished. After fantasy, I love all the others equally.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m just about finished with the second book in a dark, epic fantasy trilogy, Wind-Stone-Sea. (“A Wind Blown Torment”, “A Stone Strewn Clash”, and “A Sea Washed Victory.”) I love this series because no one is human. All the characters are relatable, but the magic and what they can do is very different. It’s a typical trilogy structure – book one – things get bad, book two – things get much, much worse, book three – everything gets resolved, eventually. It’s kind of one big story, instead of a stand alone first book followed by a duology. The next book is the last of an urban fantasy series, so back to my beloved contemporary settings. After that, who knows?

About Leah

Leah Cutter writes page-turning fiction in exotic locations, such as a magical New Orleans, the ancient Orient, Hungary, the Oregon coast, rural Kentucky, Seattle, Minneapolis, and many others.

She writes literary, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and horror fiction. Her short fiction has been published in magazines like Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Talebones, anthologies like Fiction River, and on the web. Her long fiction has been published both by New York publishers as well as small presses.

Find Leah

Website ~ Facebook ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find Innocence and Deceit!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Apple Books ~ Books2Read ~ Goodreads
 
 

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Water Faeries: 15 Tales of Mermaids, Kelpies, and Magical Water Creatures

Jump into the water and enter the world of Faerie!

On a rock by the shore sits a mermaid fair
Dreaming of her lost lover as she combs her hair

Kelpies, and selkies, and the great snakes of the sea
All stop and listen as she sings of a love never to be

For the sailor she saved from those dark, storm-tossed waves
Got back on his ship, and sailed away

Now the mermaid’s alone, with broken-hearted dreams
And far, far away the sailor stares out at the sea

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What if the Loch Ness monster is more than a myth?

Where did the Lady of the Lake go after leaving Avalon?

Can a mermaid ever truly leave the sea, and follow her lover to land?

This collection includes fifteen tales about sirens, kelpies, mermaids, sea monsters, naiads, and other enchanted creatures of the water.

Enjoy the magic and wonder of these watery tales of Faerie!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Apple Books

Books2Read ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

The Stories

Lina asks the sea to return her fisherman husband in Jaime Lee Moyer’s “Ocean Daughters.” A mermaid comes to shore to answer Lina’s call, and offers a bargain…but is Lina willing to pay the price?

In modern day New Hampshire Guinevere, now a blacksmith, and the Lady of the Lake, guard King Authur’s magic sword in Karen L. Abrahamson’s “The Lady of Ashuelot.” When Lancelot arrives and demands the sword back it distrubs the peace the two women have built. Now Guinevere must decide whether to spend the magic of the sword to revive Arthur and Camelot, or to preserve her modern world.

In “The Best Disguises,” by Grayson Towler, Moira heads to Scotland to search for the Loch Ness monster, and to prove to herself that the friend—and monster—she’d met when visiting Scotland as a child had actually been real. What she finds is unexpected…because sometimes the best disguises are so good that you sometimes forget who you really are.

Trapped on an island with an abusive husband, Selene struggles with her fear of the sea every day in “I Sing a Song of Mourning,” by Dayle A. Dermatis. But when her husband abandons her to drown, the mermaids give Selene the power to exact her revenge. How she chooses to use that power—and how she faces her fear—will change her life forever.

After the Christians riot in front of Dionysus’ temple in Thea Hutcheson’s “Coming into the Iron Age,” Mneme, a water muse, and the satyr Krotos head to the mountains to escape. All the old gods have scattered, and the rest have faded into obscurity. What kind of life can a water muse live in this new age of iron?

John falls asleep while sailing in the Virgin Islands, and wakes up to find himself in the middle of the ocean, with land nowhere in sight, in Jamie Ferguson’s “Learning to Sail.” With no safety equipment, and no way to determine which direction land lies, he prepares for his impending doom…and then a mermaid appears in the water next to his boat.

Anthea Sharp’s “The Sea King’s Daughter” goes deep beneath the Irish Sea, where a kingdom beyond mortal men’s imagining lies. The daughter of the Sea King journeys to the surface, and leaves her tail behind so the fisherman she’s fallen in love with believes she’s a beautiful maiden washed ashore. She cannot speak to him in any voice, though her yearning shines from her eyes. But with forces of land and sea arrayed between them, will the couple ever find their happy ending?

Oz heads to a seaside town in Ireland to take photos of the wee folk at the bequest of his grandmother’s will in Brenda Carre’s “The Selkie’s Treasure.” Fairies don’t exist, of course, so he knows his quest is futile…or is it?

A mermaid falls in love with the man she rescued from the sea in “Blood and Water” by Alethea Kontis. She’s willing to pay any price to be with him, for she loves him more than life itself. But is the price of love too high?

Louisa Swann’s “Verbena Draws First Blood” is the tale of a deadly sorceress and powerful necromancer who heads to a lake high in the mountains to thwart her nemesis. But she didn’t expect the lake to contain a kelpie…

Three days after Japanese torpedoes hit the USS Indianapolis, Gordie is one of some six hundred US Navy sailors slowly dying in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in Brigid Collins’ “The Road Beneath Indianapolis.” There’s no food, nothing to drink but salt water, and sharks are feeding off the men. Or are they really sharks?

It’s 1934 in DeAnna Knippling’s “Of Drought and Harsh Moonlight.” Claudine lives in a small town stricken by drought and poverty. Change arrives when a sweet-faced, dark- haired, whistling man shows up…but why did he come to town? And how did he know the new bridge had been destroyed when the newspaper hadn’t come out yet?

Linda Jordan’s “Awakening” tells the story of Merial who, just before her sixteenth birthday, learns she’s only half naiad—the father she’s never seen is a dryad. She leaves the water and heads for the forest to find him, and finally understands who she really is.

In Deb Logan’s “Selkies in Paradise,” the seers Artie and Jed are on their honeymoon in Hawaii, far away from the terrors they’ve fought together in other parts of the world. They come across a sad young woman staring out to sea, and realize she’s a selkie—but her sealskin has been stolen, and she can no longer return to the water.

Hagen von der Lahn goes on a treasure hunt in the deepest gorge in France in Sharon Kae Reamer’s “A Recipe for Disaster.” But the historian he’s working with is searching for a different kind of treasure, one which involves poison, an ancient knife, and tangling with a river guardian.

Find Water Faeries

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Apple Books

Books2Read ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

A Procession of Faeries

Learn more about the series, and follow A Procession of Faeries on Facebook and Goodreads!

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Story spotlight: “An Idol for Emiko” by Travis Heermann


 
In 17th-century Japan, Emiko has always been an outcast in her fishing village. When strange coins wash up on the shore near Emiko’s fishing village, she is the only one who resists the wave of greed overtaking everyone she has ever known. How long can she resist the pressure from her neighbors and from her own poverty? How can she protect her son from the half-seen forms that now lurk in the nearby sea?
 
 
 
 
“An Idol for Emiko” is in the Beneath the Waves collection. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the collection’s Facebook page.
 


Collections With Stories by This Author


More by the Author


About the Author

Freelance writer, novelist, award-winning screenwriter, editor, poker player, poet, biker, roustabout, Travis Heermann is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and the author of The Ronin Trilogy, Rogues of the Black Fury, and co-author of Death Wind, plus short fiction pieces in anthologies and magazines such as Apex Magazine, Alembical, the Fiction River anthology series, Historical Lovecraft, and Cemetery Dance’s Shivers VII. As a freelance writer, he has produced a metric ton of role-playing game work both in print and online, including the Firefly Roleplaying Game, Battletech, Legend of Five Rings, d20 System, and the MMORPG, EVE Online.

He has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, a Master of Arts in English, and teaches science fiction literature at the University of Nebraska Omaha. He has presented workshops on writing and publishing at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Pike’s Peak Writers Conference, and Colorado Gold Writers Conference, and regularly appears at conventions across the U.S.

He enjoys cycling, martial arts, torturing young minds with otherworldly ideas, and monsters of every flavor, especially those with a soft, creamy center. He has three long-cherished dreams: a produced screenplay, a NYT best-seller, and a seat in the World Series of Poker.

In 2016, he returned to the U.S. after living in New Zealand for a year with his family, toting more Middle Earth souvenirs and photos than is reasonable.


Find the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Story spotlight: “The Black Marker at the End of Time” by Ron Collins


 
 
A lone figure walks a desolate beach. Heart cold and worn. Gun empty.

Behind him the war of all wars destroys humankind. Before him lies the ocean.

Cold. Harsh. Vast. Ageless.
 
 
 
 
 
“The Black Marker at the End of Time” is in the Beneath the Waves collection. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the collection’s Facebook page.
 


Collections With Stories by This Author


More by the Author


About the Author

Ron Collins is an Amazon best-selling Dark Fantasy author who writes across the spectrum of speculative fiction.

His latest science fiction series, Stealing the Sun is available from Skyfox publishing.

His fantasy series Saga of the God-Touched Mage reached #1 on Amazon’s bestselling dark fantasy list in the UK and #2 in the US. His short fiction has received a Writers of the Future prize and a CompuServe HOMer Award. His short story “The White Game” was nominated for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s 2016 Derringer Award.

He has contributed a hundred or so short stories to professional publications such as Analog, Asimov’s, and several other magazines and anthologies (including several editions of the Fiction River Anthology Series).

He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and has worked to develop avionics systems, electronics, and information technology before chucking it all to write full-time–which he now does from his home in the shadows of the Santa Catalina Mountains.


Find the Author

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Story spotlight: “Flower Faeries” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch


 
Funeral directors deal with everything at a funeral, but only a few must handle an influx of flower fairies. Or worse: the arrival of a flower fairy child, alone and unsupervised.

Flower fairies are unpredictable…except when they get angry. And then they become terrifying.

So, what will they do if they think one of their children faces danger?
 
 
“Flower Faeries” is in The Faerie Summer collection. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.
 


Collections With Stories by This Author


More by the Author


About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes in almost every genre. Generally, she uses her real name (Rusch) for most of her writing. Under that name, she publishes bestselling science fiction and fantasy, award-winning mysteries, acclaimed mainstream fiction, controversial nonfiction, and the occasional romance. Her novels have made bestseller lists around the world and her short fiction has appeared in eighteen best of the year collections. She has won more than twenty-five awards for her fiction, including the Hugo, Le Prix Imaginales, the Asimov’s Readers Choice award, and the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice Award.


Find the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Story spotlight: “The Queen of May” by Linda Jordan


Sivli, a dryad, senses a deep imbalance in Faerie. Earth energy wanes and the world of Faerie drifts dangerously off-kilter.

With a plan in mind, Silvi decides she must be May Queen. To beat the sylphs in finding the first hawthorn blossoms of summer.

She feels driven to save the day.

This world bursts with an earthy, yet fantastical vision of Faerie.

 
“The Queen of May” is in The Faerie Summer collection. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.
 


Collections With Stories by This Author


More by the Author


About the Author

Linda Jordan writes fascinating characters, visionary worlds and imaginative fiction. She believes in the powers of healing and transformation.

She’s fascinated by nature’s peculiarities, mythology and spirituality, what makes humans (and aliens) tick, political systems and the creation of music and art. She loves including all this and more in her stories.

In another lifetime, Linda coordinated the Clarion West Writers Workshop as well as the Reading Series for two years. She also spent four years as Chair of the Board of Directors during Clarion West’s formative period. She’s worked many other jobs, more than she cares to count. Eventually, she fled the city to live out among the tall cedars.

She lives in the rainy wilds of Washington state with her husband, daughter, four cats, a cluster of koi and an infinite number of slugs and snails.


Find the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Story spotlight: “The Jaws of the Manō” by Chuck Heintzelman


Kaikala longed to leave her island and visit far-away lands. She wanted to see the exotic places described by warriors around the nightly campfires.

But only warriors left the island. Girls could not be warriors.

When a strange man washes up on the beach, she finally gets her wish for adventure.

And she learns BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.
 
 
 
“The Jaws of the Manō” is in the Beneath the Waves collection. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the collection’s Facebook page.
 


Collections With Stories by This Author


More by the Author


About the Author

Chuck writes quirky short stories, usually with some sort of fantastical element. He’s as surprised by this as anyone. Even after dozens of stories he stills stays up too late at night, feverishly working on the next tale.

He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his beautiful wife and their three daughters.


Find the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Celebrate Tell a Fairy Tale Day!


 
 
You can celebrate fairy tales every day, but if you’re in the U.S., you might not know that February 26th is Tell a Fairy Tale Day!

Yes, this is a totally made-up holiday. But it gives you another excuse to celebrate fairy tales! 🙂 Here’s a look at a few collections of fairy tales retold, reinvented, and reimagined.

Enter the magical, unpredictable, wonderful world of fairy tales!
 
 
The anthology series Ever After Fairy Tales contains two volumes: Beauty and Wickedness, and the just-released Innocence and Deceit.

What if Cinderella was the wicked one, and manipulated her kind, loving stepmother and stepsisters? Is being a handsome, charming prince really as effortless and trouble-free as it seems? Would you be alarmed if you realized that the beautiful red shoes you’re admiring change their appearance to appeal to whoever is looking at them? And speaking of shoes, how did Cinderella manage to dance in glass slippers without them breaking and slicing her feet to shreds?

In these two collections, you’ll find beauty and treachery, magic and courage, innocence and wickedness…and at least some happy endings.
 
 

From the bestselling authors of the award-winning Once Upon Anthologies, the next fabulous volume is here! Revisit your favorite faerie tales, masterfully retold in science fiction settings with delightful (and sometimes chilling) twists, in Once Upon a Star.

What if the Twelve Dancing Princesses were undead clones? What if the witch in Hansel and Gretel was an AI-sentient house? Are you ready for the Three Little Pigs… in space? These fourteen tales will entertain and inspire you, and you’ll never see your favorite faerie tales quite the same way again.

And there’s more! The first three volumes in this fabulous series are Once Upon a Curse, Once Upon a Kiss, and Once Upon a Quest.
 
 
The Uncollected Anthology is a group of authors who release three ebook bundles each year. Fairy tales often pop up in their stories, and the 16th collection has a fairy tale theme—in fact, the name of this issue is Fairy Tales! Investigate twelve missing sisters, deal with an inheritance, choose your destiny, review a strange invitation, celebrate Midsummer, and make the sale of a lifetime in these masterful fairy tales!
 
 
Tell a Fairy Tale Day wouldn’t be complete without a few fairy tales being read aloud. 🙂 If you’re in the Denver, Colorado area, stop by BookBar on Tuesday evening, February 26th, and listen to a group of eight authors reading from their own fairy tales. And if you aren’t in the neighborhood, read about their thoughts on fairy tales in this interview.
 
 
 

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!