Saturday, 17 November 2012

Our HEA, Calling Winners, and Important Questions!

Well, we've reached the end of another party - but our happily ever after is that we have lots of wonderful new books on our to-be-read lists :). Thanks to everyone who came to the party and helped make it such fun! And of course a huge thank you to our fab and generous guests of honour Maureen McGowan, Bonnie Dee, Bettie Sharpe, Selena Kitt and Lila DiPasqua.

Also, don't forget to check if you're a winner! I've just announced Lila's winner, and I'm still waiting for Tuesday's winner SHELLEY to contact me! If you know her, tell her she's won a Fairytale  Fantasy from Bonnie Dee and should contact me, Marie AT MarieTreanor DOT com.

And finally a couple of questions for you about our theme parties: do you like this format of having a different guest author each day? Or would you prefer it if we had everyone on the same day or over a couple of days, so that you could read all the posts at once and enter all the contests you wanted to at once? Is there anything else that you think would make our parties even better? And what themes would you like to see coming up in 2013?

Have a great weekend, and a wonderful Thanksgiving for those who celebrate it. We may have some kind of event for Christmas, although I'm still hazy about details - watch this space :).

Marie

Friday, 16 November 2012

Welcome Lila DiPasqua!

Today,as our final guest of honour at the Fairytale Party, I'm delighted to welcome Lila DiPasqua, author of wonderful historical romances and retold fairy tales. Welcome to the party, Lila!


A new genre is born….Fairy Tales by Lila DiPasqua

Everyone loves a fairy tale. There have been countless movies, countless books that have taken classic fairy tales and given them their own special spin.

But do you know where the genre of fairy tales was born? Or when some of the most famous fairy tales came about?

Well, now, dearest readers, I have some tantalizing tidbits to tell...

Once upon a time, there was a land full of decadence and excesses with elegant lords and ladies who lived in city mansions and sprawling palatial country estates. They attended spectacular masquerade balls, the theatre and ballets.

And they did plenty to fill the scandal sheets of the day.

Yes, dearest readers, it was a time as fine as Regency England. Just as polished. With healthy dose of salacious behavior.

That time was the 17th century. That place was the decadent Kingdom of France.


 And it had all the elements we find in fairy tales.

There was a King – a lusty one, in fact. Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, loved sex and indulged in amorous encounters up to twice a day – into his seventies. The only thing he adored as much as women was dance. Did you know he established the first school of ballet? King Louis and his glittering court were not only connoisseurs of the arts – but of the carnal arts as well. The pursuit of sinful pleasures was a pastime. Sex, an art form. ;)


There was a queen – two, actually. The first was said to have been poisoned, something not uncommon in fairy tales!

Princes and Princesses – Louis had a number of mistresses, a brood of illegitimate children, most of whom he legitimized.

A castle – No, better than that! Palaces! Several owned by the King, the most magnificent of which was and still is the Palace of Versailles. Commissioned by Louis XIV, it is majestic, full of opulence and splendor. He wanted and got a palace fit for the most powerful monarch in all of Christendom.

It was during this time period that Charles Perrault first began writing down fairy tales – folklore that had been passed on verbally for generations – and added morals to his stories. Soon fairy tales became a highly fashionable topic of discussion in the renowned salons of Paris. Hosted by women of the upper class, the salons were where the literati – writers, poets, dramatists and grammarians – gathered with statesmen and the aristocracy to discuss and debate history and literature, religion and philosophy.

Charles Perrault, the father of fairy tales, created The Tales of Mother Goose in a magical, glorious time and brought the world Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, to name a few.

CHARLES PERRAULT

And I, dearest readers, must admit that I find this most sumptuous place and time just as inspiring. The critically acclaimed Fiery Tales series—wickedly retold fairy tales with my very own steamy, romantic spin—have been set during the very time when the genre of fairy tales was born!

My latest, UNDONE, is an emotionally charged retelling of Rapunzel. And in a few weeks watch for my holiday novella, THE DUKE’S MATCH GIRL—A grown up retelling of The Little Match Girl!

Once upon a scandalous time….


UNDONE
A Fiery Tale
Historical Romance
ISBN: 978-0988035010
Available Now!

Excerpt from UNDONE (A retelling of Rapunzel)
Copyright© 2012 Lila DiPasqua. All rights reserved.

Simon approached her slowly, his brow slightly furrowed. 

Unable to stop herself, Angelica took in his male beauty. He, not the books, now dominated the room. How was it possible that he looked even better than before?

A few wayward strands of his dark hair played against his lashes, but it was his mouth that captured her attention.

Such an appealing mouth…

She looked away, horrified by the workings of her mind. It had to be her headache that was distorting her thinking.

He stopped before her, towering over her.

The bookshelves against her back kept her fixed in place. She was keenly aware of the limited space between their bodies, his proximity causing her body to warm.

“I asked you a question.” His voice was quiet but firm.

Gazing up at him, she tried to clear her head by taking in a deep breath, but it only served to draw in his wonderful scent. She couldn’t quite describe it, but it was tantalizing in the extreme.

What was the matter with her? She shouldn’t be reacting to him this way. She’d chosen a cloistered existence, or rather, it had chosen her. Nonetheless, she’d accepted her future long ago.

“You should not be wandering about alone.” He spoke softly, his voice deep and rich in her ears. It reverberated through her belly with wicked appeal. Lightly, he stroked his knuckles along her bruised cheek. 
“You should be in bed. You are still injured.”

She closed her eyes briefly. Get hold of yourself. This was the second time he’d touched her. Instead of drawing back, as she would have expected, she found herself wanting to draw near. It was a stunning reaction. As stunning as the tiny tingles that sped up her spine at his caress.



Bio:
Lila DiPasqua is a multi-published author of wicked & witty historical romance for Penguin/Berkley, as well as self-published works. Best known for her critically acclaimed Fiery Tales series.  She lives with her husband and three children in Canada, and is a firm believer in happily ever after. To learn more about Lila’s books, visit her website: http://www.liladipasqua.com/ You can find her hanging out daily on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LilaDiPasquaAuthor  and Twitter: https://twitter.com/liladipasqua

Today, Lila is giving away a print copy of her book, A Midnight Dance to one lucky reader who answers the question, How fiery do you like your tales? or who comments on Lila's post in some other way. The contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Swan Song

As my final contribution to the party, I thought I'd share with you a smidgeon from Swan Song, a tongue-in-cheek short story of mine which is loosely based on the Swan Maiden/Swan Lake story - except in mine, the shape-shifting swan is a male ballet dancer :).

Hope you enjoy it!


SWAN SONG
By MARIE TREANOR
Available now at Changeling Press 

When you find yourself confiding in a swan, you know you’re in trouble. When the swan talks back, madness clearly beckons. Throw in a fool of a fiancé about to be dumped, a Russian gangster, and a lustful ballet dancer with tights to die for, and the night becomes strangely magical…


 
“Want to do lunch?” I asked the swan. Since he didn’t say no, I tore a bit of bread off and dropped it in the water beside him. He dipped his head again, as if in thanks, which made me smile. He was a splendid creature, graceful and noble like most swans, but in my present mood of self-pity, he also seemed to have incredibly kind and intelligent eyes.

    “I suppose you don’t feel the cold,” I said wistfully, huddling inside my borrowed fur-lined leathers. “My suitcase is full of swim wear and strappy sun-dresses. Not entirely suitable for winter picnics in Russia.”
While he snapped up the bread, I bit into my share of the sandwich. The bread was a bit odd -- good cheese though.

    “Come to that,” I added, swallowing, “I don’t think you’re meant to be here either. Don’t you guys usually go to my country for the winter? Or are you just back?”

    He fluttered up his feathers a bit, almost like a human shrug. For some reason, it seemed a gesture of great sadness to me. I knew an urge to wrap my arms around his graceful neck, although since I thought he’d probably savage me for the presumption, I managed to keep my distance.

    “So what’s the deal with your people, then?” I asked, tearing off some more sandwich. “As I understand it, Jason’s company rebuilt this pre-revolutionary mansion where we are now, apparently guests of Mr. Yepanchin. Who is this Yepanchin? Just nouveau riche? Or gangster? Because I have to tell you, my money’s on the latter. Worse, I have even more money on the notion that Jason doesn’t care. He’s climbing into this shit up to ears.”

    I sighed again. “Yes, you’re right, of course. He’s an arse.”

    “Then why are you marrying him?”

    I choked, sending lumps of semi-masticated bread and cheese spattering across the water. Through my watering eyes, I stared at the swan. Then, as common sense returned, I twisted my head to look around me. There was no one in sight. We were at least fifty yards away from the nearest tree, a hundred from the house, There was nowhere for anyone to hide.

    Slowly, I turned back to face the swan. It had finally happened. I was officially insane.


:)

What other versions of this story have you come across

Marie

Welcome Selena Kitt!

I'm thrilled to welcome today's guest of honour, erotic romance author Selena Kitt - no stranger to retold fairytales! Welcome Selena!


In Search of Happily Ever After by Selena Kitt

Why do fairy tales stand the test of time? There are hundreds—thousands, perhaps millions!—of stories that have been told and forgotten throughout the years. So why is it that stories like Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs have survived, not just in our literature, but in our psyches? These are tales that have been immortalized, passed down like heirlooms to new generations, again and again. Disney, of course, is our modern vehicle, re-telling tales like SleepingBeauty or Cinderella in full color, animated form.

But fairy tales don’t just appeal to children. In fact, there was a time when the intended audience for fairy tales was quite adult. Disney has cleaned up their versions for a younger audience, taking out the violence and the sex, but those themes have existed in our fairy tales for far longer than they’ve been sanitized. These are themes that go to the core of our being, that we wrestle with daily, that touch the deepest aspects of our lives. We keep our children “young” far longer today than we ever have before, attempting to shelter them from the harsh realities depicted so often in those long-ago fairy tales. We prefer our children to stay innocent because we adults know the extent to which our modern world can corrupt.

But fairy tales are coming finally into their own in today’s world. Recent retellings—Alice in Wonderland, Beastly, Mirror-Mirror—have brought fairy tales to the forefront. Some have even turned fairy tales on their head, telling them from the villains’ side, as in Wicked or the upcoming Malificent. Even television has gotten into the act with series like Once Upon a Time and Grimm. Fairy tales are morphing, changing before our very eyes, adapting to the modern world in which we live.

The time has come for the fairy tale, for their telling to circle back to their original audience—the time has come for the grown-up fairy tale.

The days of princesses waiting in their castles for their rescuing prince are over—but our search for our happily ever after is not. The basics never change, and the universal themes of fairy tales always come through. That’s what appeals to me as a writer. Injustice, corruption, fear, hatred, greed—they never change. But goodness, kindness, generosity, ethics and love—those never change either. Fairy tales are stories of good vs. evil, indifference vs. love, and in the end, we are always searching for one to conquer the other. And we all know which should win out in the end. We all know, even if the world doesn’t always give us what we want—fairy tales will.

In the modern versions of fairy tales I’ve attempted to re-tell so far—including Gretel, Red, Beauty, Goldilocks, Briar Rose, Rapunzel, Alice and Wendy—the focus in each is on our modern heroine, not a princess locked in a castle, not willing to passively wait for her rescue—but still longing, as always, for her happily ever after. Villains no longer come in the form of dragons or trolls. The enemies we fight in the modern world are less visible, but are just as difficult to vanquish—things like cancer and betrayal by the ones we love most. These are modern fairy tales that take place in the modern world, and they have modern characters, situations, and consequences, but they re-tell familiar tales with universal themes.  

Today I am offering my latest re-told modern fairy tale to one lucky winner—Bluebeard—which is the first of a new volume in the Modern Wicked Fairy Tales series that will focus on the masculine rather that the feminine, and which will include Bluebeard, Pinocchio, Aladdin, Pied Piper, Rumpelstiltskin, Peter and the Wolf, The Frog Prince and Jack and the Beanstalk. Look for these new releases in 2013!

For now you can read ALL of the collected fairy tales (aside from Bluebeard) in Modern Wicked Fairy Tales: The Complete Collection. And if you are a lover of fairy tales and would like to read my modern take on Bluebeard, leave a comment below telling me what it is that appeals you about fairy tales. I will choose one lucky winner!

Just a word of warning: my stories bring back the sex—and in some instances, even the violence—to fairy tales. They are told in modern language, and they give us a view of the universal themes that existed then, and now. But of course, as in all fairy tales—things always come out all right in the end!

-Selena Kitt


Excerpt from Bluebeard:

In this modern version of the fairy tale classic, who wouldn’t want to marry a rock star? That’s what Petra told herself when she agreed to fly from Minsk to Los Angeles—a mail-order bride to the lead singer of Bluebeard, one of the most popular American rock bands of the twentieth century. The question really was—why would a rock star want to marry her? Find out in this modern take on the Bluebeard fairy tale by Selena Kitt!

Warnings: This title contains elements of BDSM including domination, submission and spanking. It also makes mention of sex, drugs, rock and roll, masturbation, German philisophers, Hindu goddesses, and an incorrigible pug dog who likes to steal things, including your heart!

Word Count: 12,800

Cheryl, Manic Readers Reviews, 4/5 Stars!

"...[A] really spicy read. I have read several books by Ms. Kitt, and they are always good. Warning, if you wear eye glasses, you may want to keep a rag handy to wipe off the fog you will get from reading this book...[The characters] were smoking together. This book will have you looking at fairy tales in a whole new light."


EXCERPT:

Blue leaned in close, whispering into her ear. “Guess what?”

“What?” She looked up at him, inquisitive, his presence making her already racing heart skip beats, fighting the urge to put her arms around him.

“I gave Max and Mrs. Ribya the day off.” Blue slipped his arms around her waist, lifting her, breathing in her scent.

She gasped, crying out in surprise at his touch. “You did? Why?”

“Because you’ve been a very, very bad girl.” He nuzzled her neck, his hands moving lower, oh god, grabbing her ass, lifting her higher! “And you need to be punished.”

“Blue!” She cried out as he squatted down, easily hefting her over his shoulder. She squealed all the way down the hall, wiggling on his arms. “What are you doing? Put me down? Milyi!”

The poor little pug was only one left in the house she could call for help!

“He’s locked in your room, remember?” Blue smacked her ass—hard! “By the way, he dropped the key under the dining room table.”

“How did you…?” But of course he knew. Her heart sank. The cameras. They were everywhere. And Max. Had he been watching? Oh god, he would have told Blue everything. “Please, put me down. Let me explain.”

“Stop talking.”

SLAP

She cried out again. He was angry—an emotion she didn’t often see in him. She could tell by the way he strode down the hall, her body bouncing as he carried her down the stairs. “I’m going to give you one more chance to do as I say.”

One more chance. She took a deep breath, closing her eyes, praying he was taking her to his bedroom. Oh, god, his unlocked bedroom. He knew she’d been in there too. And were there cameras…? No!

“You’re familiar with this room, aren’t you?”

Her eyes flew open as she twisted, trying to see. He strode through the carved door, slamming it hard behind him. Was this it, then? Would she be one of those mail-order brides murdered by their American husbands?

“Blue, please,” she begged. My god, he’d her carried across the whole house, down a flight of stairs, and he hadn’t even broken a sweat!

Then he was opening the second the door, the one she hadn’t unlocked. He didn’t use a key. She saw it all upside down, making it even more surreal. There was a bed in the corner, similar to the one in his room, a four-poster. Over the bed there were decorations on the wall, things reminiscent of his concert days—floggers, crops, ball-gags, handcuffs.

Then he was sitting, putting her upright in front of him, pulling her into his lap. Her head swam and she clung to him, so surprised by his nearness, the way he grabbed her, touched her, after months of so much distance between them.

“Where are we?” she whispered, wanting to look around more, but unable to take her eyes off his. They were dark, animalistic—and angry. She wiggled in his lap and he grabbed her hips, growling low in his throat.

“Hold still,” he hissed. “Don’t make me tear this dress off you.”

The blood drained from her face, heading straight between her thighs.




Selena Kitt is a bestselling and award-winning author of erotic fiction. She is one of the highest selling erotic writers in the business. With half a million ebooks sold in 2011 alone, she is the cream-at-the-top of erotica! 

Her writing embodies everything from the spicy to the scandalous, but watch out-this kitty also has sharp claws and her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.

When she’s not pawing away at her keyboard, Selena runs an innovative publishing company (www.excessica.com) and in her spare time, she devotes herself to her family—a husband and four children—and her growing organic garden. She loves bellydancing and photography. She also loves four poster beds, tattoos, voyeurism, blindfolds, velvet, baby oil, the smell of chewing gum and leather, and playing kitty cat.

Her books EcoErotica (2009), The Real Mother Goose (2010) and Heidi and the Kaiser (2011) were all Epic Award Finalists. Her only gay male romance, Second Chance, won the Epic Award in Erotica in 2011. Her story, Connections, was one of the runners-up for the 2006 Rauxa Prize, given annually to an erotic short story of “exceptional literary quality,” out of over 1,000 nominees, where awards are judged by a select jury and all entries are read “blind” (without author’s name available.)

Selena loves hearing from readers!
twitter: http://www.twitter.com/selenakitt @selenakitt

Get ALL FIVE of Selena Kitt’s FREE READS


Today, Selena is giving away a copy of Bluebeard to one commenter who answers her question above, What is it that appeals to you about fairy tales? Her contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Screen Tales




As I'm sure you've noticed, fairytales are "in" just now. Not only in the realm of books but in a rush of films and television shows.

One of the things Bonnie Dee and I do in our adult fairytales is to "empower" the heroines of the story. I know other authors do the same in their takes. Passively waiting to be rescued by a handsome prince just isn't acceptable to most writers or readers any more! So I was quite surprised to come across some criticism on the web of the new films and tv shows as insulting to women. The argument seemed to be that the heroines had to "turn themselves into men" - ie warriors - in order to succeed. Or that women weren't represented at all, as in the series Grimm.


Now, I haven't actually seen the new films, like Miror, Mirror or Snow White and the Huntsman, or Grimm or Once Upon a Time, so I can't really comment! I would like to know your views though :).

So what are your favourites among the current screen versions, and why? Is there an older one that captures your attention more? Perhaps a classic, like Cocteau's 1946 Beauty and the Beast? Personally, I loved Company of Wolves (a highly imaginative and atmospheric take on Little Red Riding Hood) when it came out. And I thoroughly enjoyed the 10th Kingdom. What about you?



Marie

Welcome Bettie Sharpe!

Today's guest of honour is the wonderful Bettie Sharpe who has written (among other things!) some adult re-tellings of  fairytales for Carina Press. Welcome Bettie!



Fairy Tales and the Fun of New Versions by Bettie Sharpe


Many thanks, Marie for holding this fun, fabulous week of fairy tale posts and contests.

When I was a kid, my favorite fairy tale wasn’t Cinderella, Snow White, or even Beauty and the Beast, it was Puss in Boots. I loved the way the wily, stylish cat fooled everyone and outwitted an ogre. I loved the cat’s cleverness, and the boldness with which he dragged the Miller’s Son on an amazing adventure. I wanted to be wily and clever and stylish, too. I wanted to have amazing adventures.

The only problem with the fairy tales I loved was that there weren’t a great many that featured clever girls having amazing adventures. Instead, we got heroines like Cinderella or Snow White who cooked and cleaned until they were rescued and married by their respective nameless princes. When fairy tale girls did show a little curiosity and initiative like Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, or Bluebeard’s wife, they were punished with a grandmother-devouring wolf, a hundred-year coma, or a serial-killing husband.

The fearful fates for female fairy tale characters were no accident. In his book Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion, fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes claims that the founder of the fairy tale genre, Charles Perrault, deliberately altered common folktales in order to emphasize the traits he thought were ideal for boys, and those he thought were ideal for girls. Big surprise: those traits are polar opposites. Male characters in Perrault’s genre-founding fairy tale collection, Histoires ou contes du temps passé or Les Contes de ma Mère l'Oye (Stories or Fairy Tales from Past Times with Morals or Mother Goose Tales) are bold and clever, like the cat in Puss in Boots or Jack of Beanstalk fame, but female characters are patient, beautiful, and long-suffering like Cinderella and Snow White.


Though I continued to love fairy tales even as an adult, I always longed for stories where the female characters could have their own adventures and shape their own destinies. I wanted bold, brash, brainy heroines—heroines who weren’t pretty, passive, and perfect, but instead had real strengths, and real flaws. And I wanted those heroines to meet and marry men who loved them just the way they were.

What do you do when the stories you want to read don’t exist? You write your own. At least, that’s what I did. In
Ember, my free novella retelling of Cinderella, the prince is cursed to be charming, and the Cinder Girl is the clever creation of a slightly wicked witch. In Each Step Sublime, my short story retelling of the Little Mermaid for the Agony/Ecstasy erotic anthology, the Mermaid takes a certain pleasure in her pain. And in Cat’s Tale: a Fairy Tale Retold, Cat starts out as a vain, beautiful woman with a shoe collection to make Carrie Bradshaw weep with envy. When an evil wizard turns her into a cat, she has learns that she is more than just a pretty face.

Which fairy tales are your favorites, and which would you like to see rewritten? Leave a comment in the comment section for a chance to win an ebook copy of Cat’s Tale: A Fairy Tale Retold.

Thanks for reading!

Bettie





Here's an excerpt from Cat's Tale:


“What shall I call you?”
It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him my name, but then I thought better of it. The Lady Catriona was a dream to him, a prize to be won. He would not want her if he learned she had been turned into an animal by her ex-lover. I did not want to alter the image of Catriona he had in his head—the glimpse of my face through the carriage window those years ago.
And so, I did what I have always done in order to get what I want. I lied. “We cats, among ourselves we do not have names.”
“Well, then, I shall have to make up a name.” He was silent for a moment. “I know. Let’s call you Boots.”
“Let’s not.”
“Puss—”
Definitely not. ‘Puss’ isn’t a name, it’s an invitation to ribald puns.”
“What am I to call you, then?”
“Call me Cat.”

Today Bettie is offering an ecopy of Cat's Tale to one lucky commenter who answers her question above: Which fairy tales are your favorites, and which would you like to see rewritten? The contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Fairytale Heroes and Villains



You can't get much meaner than fairytale villains, can you? They're spiteful, cruel and often use dark magic, like the Queen in Snow White, Rumplestiltskin, or the witch in Sleeping Beauty. But it seems to me that sometimes the heroes aren't much better!

Take the king in Rumplestiltskin who forces the poor miller's daughter to spin straw into gold. Marriage to him is meant to be a reward? Her happy ever after? Really? (You should read Demon Lover, to see what Bonnie Dee and I think of that one :)). And what about the dude in Rapunzel? Climbing up her hair must have HURT! What sort of careless, even abusive husband would he make?

In fact a lot of the fairytale heroes are induced to rescue the princess with promises of power and wealth to go with her hand in marriage. He's not really making much of a sacrifice, is he?

So, talk fairytale heroes and villains with me! Which "hero" doesn't measure up for you? Which villains are the scariest? Or even the most attractive? :)

To give you an idea what I mean, here's a snippet from the opening of Demon Lover...




Excerpt from DEMON LOVER By BONNIE DEE and MARIE TREANOR
Available Now in  E-book from Samhain Publishing and Amazon
And in Print



“Is your name Charles? Oliver? Harold?” Gwyneth’s pulse pounded, and she shivered despite the fact she held the precious trump card up her sleeve. Her husband King Midas, the courtiers and soldiers all looked on, frozen as they had been from the moment the devil arrived in a thunderclap and a puff of sulfurous black smoke. Literally frozen by some magic force that thickened the air around them.

“No.” The evil being’s deep voice reverberated through the room, sending a chill down her spine and making the hair on her nape prickle. As menacing as a towering black thunderhead threaded with crackling lightning, the dark-shrouded figure dominated the throne room of the castle. Gwyneth longed to throw back his hood and behold his face just once.

“Brandon? Sylvester? Archibald? James?”

Why was she playing this dangerous game when her child’s very life was at stake? She should simply spit out the horrid name her spy had overheard and win Brea’s freedom. A demon from hell couldn’t break a deal, could he? Surely he was bound by his word.

“No. Are you prepared to concede, to pay me what you owe?” A cool voice came from the dark depths of the hood.

Gwyneth exhaled slowly, trying to rein in her racing heart. The warmth of victory swelled through her, but she willed herself not to show it with a smug smile. No point in angering her enemy.

“Is your name perhaps”—she paused and licked her lips—“Rumplestiltskin?”

There was dead silence in the room for the space of three heartbeats. Brea stirred in her cradle and gave a soft gurgle. Gwyneth glanced from the hooded figure to her husband, whose frightened gaze was riveted on the intruder.

Gwyneth knew she was correct. She’d received an eyewitness account of this cloaked demon waltzing around a campfire, gloating over her inability to guess his ridiculous name.

“Is your name Rumplestiltskin?” she repeated.

The dark being strode forward, stopping only a few paces from her and the cradle.

“No. It is not.” He reached for the baby.

For a moment, Queen Gwyneth froze, unable to fathom his answer, then she darted between him and the cradle, intercepting his black-gloved hands as they reached for her precious daughter. She snatched up Brea and clutched the baby to her breast too tightly, making the infant squawk in indignation.

“You lie! I know that’s your name. I won’t let you take my baby.”

“Madam, I never lie, and the child is mine.” He moved closer.

Gwyneth caught the familiar scent of smoke and earth that permeated his clothes. The odor should’ve turned her stomach, made her gut clench in fear, yet it instantly brought back memories of several long, dark, mysterious nights when he’d talked to her and…touched her while she spun straw into gold.

“I won’t harm her. I wish to raise her as my own.” His fingers tightened in the baby’s blanket.

“Begone, demon! I’ll never let you take her.” Gwyneth pushed away his hand.

“I would not be accused of separating a child from its mother,” he drawled. “You’re welcome to come to the underworld with us, lovely Gwyneth. If you dare to give up your wealth and title.”

“No!” Midas cried. Maybe he cared for Gwyneth and Brea more than she’d thought. More likely he feared losing the source of his riches—not that she could’ve spun one golden thread if it weren’t for the magical creature who now claimed their child in payment.

“Guards, seize him!” The king yelled quite futilely as everyone in the room, except, apparently, Gwyneth, was still frozen in place.

The black figure loomed over the queen and her child. His cloak seemed to billow in an unseen wind, and the air around them was charged as if from an approaching storm.

Gwyneth clutched Brea and stared into the depths of the hood, trying to glimpse a pair of eyes, trying to make a connection as she begged for mercy, but it was like trying to look down a well. A person might catch a glimmer of water at the bottom, but it was simply too dark to see anything clearly.

“Please, sir, leave my baby alone. I will come with you if that is what you desire, but this poor, innocent child has done nothing. Why should she pay for my unholy bargain?”

“Unholy?” A harsh bark of laughter came from the figure. “You think me some kind of devil? Well, maybe I am, but I’m not the one who was willing to give up her baby in exchange for a pile of gold.”

Neither was I. It wasn’t my fault. I was trying to save my life. Gwyneth wanted to protest and explain her actions, but excuses would not move him. She gripped his wrist, solid and strong beneath the black gloves—not an incorporeal spirit, but a demon of flesh and blood, as she well knew. She stared into the hood, searching for the face she couldn’t see, and made her offer again.

“I will come with you. I will do anything you want. Anything.”


:) Marie

Welcome Bonnie Dee!

Today I'm delighted to welcome the very talented Bonnie Dee back to the blog. As well as being the author of a string of imaginative and passionate stories in several sub-genres of romance, Bonnie is my writing partner in the Fairytale Fantasies series at Samhain :). 


Fractured Fairytales of Erotic Education 
By Bonnie Dee

Fairytales aren’t just for kids anymore. Updated adult versions are becoming more popular for grown up girls. For many women, fairytales were their first introduction to romance stories. While we enjoy the sense of familiarity we feel when reading books based on those venerable tales, we now want them a little edgier and sexier.

Marie and I have enjoyed crafting several re-imagined fairytales over the past few years, starting with Cinderella Unmasked, the story of what happens to a disillusioned Ella after her happily ever after. Only a girl when she married Charming, the queen comes to some realizations about what love truly is and finds her real heart’s desire in an unexpected place.

Our collaboration, Demon Lover is based on the Rumplestiltskin tale with shades of the Persephone myth added in. What if the creature who bargains for the queen’s child isn’t a gnarled gnome but the King of the Underworld, who has a good reason for taking the child? And what if the mother wouldn’t allow her baby to be snatched away, but went along to the Underworld to try to win her back?

AwakeningBeauty continues our theme of “what if” things were just a little bit different from the original fairytale. Aurora awakens in modern times, not with a kiss but with a hard shake given by a “prince” of industry who has reached a crossroads in his life. The unlikely pair feels an instant connection which the cynical hero can’t quite believe in…until that bond becomes paramount to their survival.

Our newly released story, Sex and the Single Princess, is based on one of my personal favorite fairytales, The Twelve Dancing Princesses aka Girls Gone Wild. In the original tale, the king is incensed by the way his daughters wear out their dance slippers and sends a poor soldier to track them and find out where they go at night. Marie and I didn’t change the original tale as much as we have others, except we made the soldier into Will Shoemaker, the court cobbler.

We really enjoyed writing princesses with feminist ideas about taking charge of their own destinies. Princess Iris struggles between her duty to her country (ie. marrying to strengthen relations with a foreign nation) and her desire for personal freedom, represented by the fairy world where she can dance with a handsome elf lord every night. Lower class Will struggles simply to get by in this world and tries not to dream of a woman who could never be his. I’m a huge fan of romance bridging a vast economic chasm and Will and Iris’s story was a sexy, fun and interesting one to write.

If you enjoy the Once Upon a Time TV series, you may like our fairytale fantasies. Marie and I certainly hope you’ll give one a try. I’d like to give away any one of the tales from our fairytale fantasies collection to a random winner drawn from those who comment today. Let me know in your comment which fairytale you would like to see rewritten with an adult slant. The lesser known the better!




Excerpt from:
Sex and the Single Princess by Bonnie Dee and Marie Treanor.
Available Now from Samhain, Amazon and other e-tailers

Iris sponged at the spreading stain on her dress with a handkerchief dampened in water from a fountain. She didn’t know what tremor had caused her to spill the wine but was glad of the distraction and a chance to breathe fresh air. Her encounter with Hadriel was growing increasingly heated, and she didn’t want to go too far.

If you play with fire, you can’t be surprised when your fingers get singed, Lady Lambert’s voice nagged her.

Iris sighed. Hadn’t she decided earlier today she’d take advantage of this opportunity to satisfy herself with Hadriel? She’d sworn she would have one sexual fling to remember when winter nights in an old man’s arms grew too unbearably long. Yet here she was, dithering again. For heaven’s sake, she was as scatterbrained as Pansy, blowing this way and that on a whim. But something inside her was telling her that having sex with Hadriel would be a mistake. For it wasn’t him she wanted.

“Piss!” she threw the stained handkerchief on the flagstones where the breeze caught it, and it tumbled like a little white ghost across the terrace. Iris sank down on the nearest bench.

This should be so easy—enjoy a strings-free night of passion with a passionate prince from a magical realm—but she couldn’t relax and totally surrender to the experience. Thoughts of Will continued to distract her. She pictured his furrowed brow if he knew what she was up to, and she had no idea why his opinion of her behavior mattered so much to her.

“Will, you’re ruining my night,” she muttered.

A small sound, the catch of breath in a throat, brought her head up with a jerk. But she saw no one in the garden other than a necking couple on another bench, sheltered from revealing moonlight by tree branches.

“Who’s there?” she whispered, peering into the darkness.

This time, she had no doubt that an unseen presence was nearby. She felt the heat of a body right in front of her, heard the slight creak and rustle of clothing as the invisible being knelt or perhaps settled on its haunches. The hair on her nape prickled, and she half rose from the bench.

“I’ll scream,” she warned. “Someone will be here in seconds.”

“Don’t scream. I won’t harm you.” The voice was a mere whisper. She might’ve thought it was the breeze, but air couldn’t form words.

“Who—or what—are you?” Her eyes scanned back and forth as if she could force this mysterious entity to appear.

“Who do you want me to be?”

“I don’t want you to be anything. I want you, whatever you are, to go away and leave me be.”

“Is that really what you want, Iris?” The voice was suddenly close to her ear, so low, so soft and so seductive that her initial panic turned into a different sort of agitation.

Her breathing quickened as did the beating of her heart.

Something warm settled on her arm, a hand—not gripping, just resting there light and easy. A roughened palm began to stroke her bare skin, sending chills through her body.

Iris didn’t pull away. She should be running from this unknown entity. Considering she was in the land of the fae, the creature could be an evil spirit, perhaps twisted and obscene in physical appearance. It might be trying to seduce her soul as well as her body. She should be terrified. But she wasn’t.

She was entranced as the hand slowly stroked her arm, lifting the tiny hairs with a charge of energy. Another hand settled on her knee as the unseen being knelt before her, and then a breath of air warmed her face as it—he—leaned closer. Lips touched the corner of her mouth in a gentle kiss.

“You are so beautiful.” Despite the quietness of the whisper, the voice seemed familiar. And the touch. Iris struggled to grasp why, but her senses felt clouded, perhaps from too much honeyed wine, and she couldn’t focus her thoughts.

“Why do you come here, Iris? What do you want?”

“I like to dance, and a handsome escort awaits me inside, so if you’ll excuse me, Mr. Invisible.”

“Wait.” His voice was suddenly commanding, and Iris found herself rooted to the bench. “Kiss me first. Just once.”

“Why should I when you won’t even show yourself?” she answered tartly.

“I can’t. I’m under a spell, but perhaps one kiss from you will set me free.”

His breath brushed her lips. He was so near she had but to shift a little and their mouths would touch. The idea of such intimate contact with a mysterious stranger was intoxicating, and a little voice in her mind—different from Lady Lam’s nagging—murmured that this was exactly the encounter she’d dreamed of having tonight. Not Hadriel but this man was the reason she’d come here.

Iris leaned in, and the warm softness of lips pressed against hers. She tasted the salt and sweetness of an unseen mouth. Her eyelids drifted softly closed, and she could forget she was kissing an invisible man. All she need do was surrender, and as his hands stole around her and his body pressed close, she felt she’d come home.

He pulled away, and she exhaled a little sigh.

“All right?” he whispered, and another wave of déjà vu swept over her. She’d been asked that question by that exact voice many times. She felt this mysterious man was no mystery at all but someone very familiar to her; yet she couldn’t see her way clear to who he was. He might have been shrouded by a spell.

She nodded and answered breathily, “I’m fine. Kiss me again.”

He did, possessing her mouth with a ferocious determination that swept her off her feet, though she remained seated on the garden bench. His body pressed between her knees, bunching her skirts and weighing them down, and his hands pressed firmly against her back. She could feel the heat burning through her bodice into her skin.

His kisses continued, fervent, desperate, like a man grasping for a branch that would keep him from tumbling down a cliff. He might not have Hadriel’s seductive technique, but, oh, he made up for that lack in pure ardor. This was what it felt like to be worshipped with kisses.


To enter Bonnie's contest for an ebook from the Fairytale Fantasies series, answer her question above - Let me know in your comment which fairytale you would like to see rewritten with an adult slant. Her contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Fairytale Movies

I'm sure most of us were brought up on Disney's classic animations, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast. I loved them - more or less straight re-tellings of everyone's favourite fairy tales, with all the gothic menace of evil queens and witches, and handsome princes to dance with, marry and live happily ever after with.

And I have to say, there's still something magical about these films - although interestingly, my daughter stopped watching them at an early age, even although I kept buying them for her whenever one became available :). I think her attitude reflects today'sin general - we want more than beautiful, passive princesses enduring until their prince rescues them. Even the kids seem more cynical about this.

For me, Skrek was the first film that woke me up to this. From his line at the beginning "Aye, right, like that's ever going to happen" (approx!), I knew it was going to be fun! I loved his sweeping of Snow White in a coma out of his living room with an order to the dwarves: "Oh no, dead broad off the table!" Fiona as both ogre and fighting the forest bandits was brilliant. And who could forget Fiona singing to the bird like Snow White did in Disney's film, with somewhat different results :). Of course, the sequels went on to make the fairytale princesses Snow White, Cinderella etc, a lot more kick-ass, and I think that's what we expect now.

The new fairytale films that come out, like Tangled, veer away from the old norms, with humour and irony and yet they're still a tribute to the fairy tales, both read and watched, that we loved as children. If anything,  the re-tellings we read,write and watch today, just show how enduring the original tales are, and how deeply they're imprinted on our psyches :).

Do you have a favourite among the children's fairy tale movies?

Marie

Welcome Maureen McGowan!


Our first guest of honour this week is the fascinating Maureen McGowan, who has written a unique fairytale series, and now finds her new, YA dystopian series to have a lot in common with fairy tales! Welcome, Maureen!

Dystopia as Fairy Tale by Maureen McGowan

Fairy tales endure because they give young children a chance to safely explore their deepest darkest fears. Those fears still resonate with us as adults, as do the emotions evoked when we first heard the stories, and I think that’s a strong reason why fairy tale adaptations for teens and adults remain popular. We all want to feel those strong emotions again and again.

My first two novels, Cinderella: Ninja Warrior (Silver Dolphin Books, 2011) and Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer (Silver Dolphin Books, 2011) were fun, adventurous twists on the classic stories, written for kids age 10 and over. I loved writing those books. I loved creating stories that had familiar elements but “fixed” the problems I, as an adult reader, saw in the classics. Like: why would Cinderella stay with her step mother if she treated her so badly, or why would she assume a royal marriage would make things any better? Or, the tiny problem of Sleeping Beauty being, um, asleep for most of the story. Talk about a passive heroine! J

But I have to say, I’m even more excited about my new series The Dust Chronicles, and while it’s darker and more serious than my Twisted Tales books, I think it has more in common with fairy tales than first meets the eye.

Deviants (Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2012), the first book in The Dust Chronicles, is a supernatural thriller, with a post-apocalyptic setting and elements of dystopia, horror and romance. (I love that you can blend genres in the Young Adult market!) But what occurred to me, when Marie approached me about being part of this fairy tale themed week, was that, in many ways, dystopian novels are the new fairy tales.

Think that’s a stretch? Hear me out. J

Fairy tales feature oppressive villains who exert total control over, not only the heroines, but over entire kingdoms. That sounds exactly like dystopian societies.

Fairy tales put their heroines in dark desperate situations from which they long to escape. So do dystopian novels.

Fairy tales are set in alternate worlds that look a little like our own but with big twists. So do dystopians.

Fairy tales often include elements of magic and/or the fantastical. And most dystopian fiction has an element of the fantastical and/or science fiction. Deviants has both.

Fairy tales pit good against evil. So do dystopians.

Fairy tales feature the triumph of the underdog or the oppressed—often children or teens—over their oppressors. So do dystopians.

Fairy tales disguise evil under something that first appears benign or friendly: Evil queens in disguise, witches hiding in candy houses, beautiful step-mothers seducing grieving fathers. And the main tenet of dystopian fiction is an evil power lurking under the guise of a Utopia.

In my new book Deviants there isn’t a castle, or an evil queen, or a handsome prince—exactly—but there is a domed city and an oppressive Corporate-like society, the executives of which act as evilly as the worst fairy tale queen. And there are monsters. Ugly scab-covered monsters. Plus a hunky love interest who, well, sometimes turns into a monster too.

The thing I love about all fantastical fiction, whether it be fairy tales, urban fantasy or dystopian Young Adult fiction, is that it allows we as authors and readers to explore the darkest corners of our fears and fantasies—from the safety of a book.

 Here’s a short snippet from the start of Deviants. Don’t you think it could be the start of a modern fairy tale?

Excerpt:

The air at the uppermost reaches of Haven is hot and thick with the stench of rat droppings. Small price to pay for free food. Normal girls run screaming when this close to rats, but I can’t afford luxuries like fear.

The sky looms close to our building’s rooftop, and I duck to avoid cracking my head on a beam. If this section of the dome was ever painted blue, the pigment wore off long ago, leaving barely reflective metal panels.

Bent at the waist, I creep forward and scan the less-than-five-foot gap between the roof and the sky. Heat and darkness press in from all sides and sweat trails down my spine. I wish I could carry some form of light, but a lantern would make the rats run. Behind me, something moves.

I crouch deeper and spin.

“Who’s there?” My voice comes out higher than I’d like, and the rats echo with screeches.

A large shadow slides across the roof near an air vent, and I press myself down, gravel digging into my knees and palms. The shadow’s too huge to be cast by a person, but my pulse engulfs my senses, blurring my eyes, filling my ears, clouding my judgment.

I blink and the shadow’s gone; all that’s left is the undulating wave of rats over rats.

Shielding my nose to block the smell, I draw in long breaths. You’re okay. You’re safe. No one knows.


For a longer excerpt, click here, or download the sample for your kindle or kindle app

A recently reported Bowker Market Research study found that 55 percent of buyers of Young Adult fiction were adults and 78% of the time they were purchasing for their own reading—that is, they weren’t buying the books for their kids. I talked about why I love YA fiction here.

Do you read YA Fiction? Why or why not? Answer for a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Deviants and a signed trade paperback copy of Cinderella: Ninja Warrior.


Maureen McGowan always loved writing fiction, but side-tracked by a persistent practical side, it took her a few years to channel her energy into novels. After leaving a career in finance and accounting, she hasn't looked back.

Aside from her love of books, she's passionate about films, fine handcrafted objects and shoes.

She lives and writes in Toronto, Canada where she attends the Toronto International Film Festival each year.

Twitter: @MaureenMcGowan


Maureen's Contest: Answer Maureen's question above - Do you read YA Fiction? Why or why not? - for the chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Deviants and a signed trade paperback copy of Cinderella: Ninja Warrior. The contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread