For the last year or so, while I’ve been deciding what to do with them, two of my fairy tale retellings for middle graders have been tugging at my sleeve, eagerly asking ‘Are we there yet?’
I’m pleased to say that we’ve finally arrived – at least, at the first stop. Stop One is where anyone can download these stories for free from Smashwords!
However, to my mind, middle grade stories of this type are much more fun for their readers when they’re in a print copy, with illustrations. So Stop Two, further down the line, will be when I re-release these texts as illustrated, printed fiction.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these FREE, short e-stories!
A tale of sisterly love and science. While Kate and Rupert's parents are off touring the kingdom, Cousin Garil is in charge. He lets Rupert do anything he wants, but Kate isn't allowed to do any of the things she likes to do: no horse riding, no playing ball with her brother, no eating competitions — and, worse of all, no more lessons with Rupert's tutor. With Cousin Garil breathing down her neck and Rupert acting more toad-like every day, Kate’s plans to become a scientist are hard to put into action. Yet when Rupert gets himself into a fix, Kate's love of science might be all that can save him. A short story of
5, 800 words for middle-grade readers.
Hah and Grr were abandoned in the wood as babies and raised by Mother Wolf. They are happy, but they are the weakest of the pack and they are often hungry. One day, when they are following in the tracks of their lupine family, they smell something wonderful on the wind and follow their noses to a strange den in the woods, where they find delicious foods that fill their bellies. In the confusion that follows, Hah and Grr must decide whether their future lies with Man or Wolf. A short story of 5, 100 words for middle grade readers.
Some of you will remember that last year one of my stories, 'Eirlys and the Seven Naughty Children', featured in Katharina Gerlach's wonderful Indie Authors' Advent Calendar.
This year 18 authors have contributed to the advent calendar. My contribution is a flash fiction story that begins on the morning of the shortest day of the year.
Each day this December another door of the advent calendar will open and a new story will appear.
Sign up here to get the stories delivered by email and receive bonus content from each of the authors - this may be a poem, another short story, a picture, or some other special surprise.
I hope you enjoy my fantasy tale, 'The Longest Night'.
I've belatedly realised that I unconsciously echoed Gerard Manley Hopkins with the title of my last blog post — not all that surprising, considering he is one of my favourite poets.
When I was a teenager (before I discovered Hopkins — I owe the pleasure of that revelation to one of my university lecturers*), I used to keep a scrapbook of poems I liked. I would painstakingly write them out by hand and decorate them with amateur drawings and cut-out pictures. (That was the kind of literary lover I was from a very young age).
It occurred to me when I was doing a spring clean out not long ago and I stumbled across this tattered scrapbook that Pinterest would be the perfect place to keep such a collection in this day and age. Pinterest, after all, appears to be nothing more than digital scrapbooking, and I was already using it to pin pictures in the same way I used to do when I was young and would cut and paste pictures I liked from magazines into the blank pages of a scrapbook.
However, I was disappointed with the poems I found on Pinterest — there seemed to be a lack of many well-known poems, none from New Zealand, bare snippets of others, and very few with any integrated artwork. I had expected Pinterest to be full of beautifully illustrated poems.
Of course, some of you will be rolling your eyes at my naivety as the reason for this lack will be obvious to you: copyright laws. Until I started thinking about pinning poems on Pinterest, I hadn't really understood that individual poems bear copyright in their own right, not as parts of a book or collection (which can therefore be quoted/reproduced). I now know that without the author or publisher's permission, it is only permissible to publicly reproduce a few words or a short phrase from any individual poem -- unless the material has entered the public domain due to copyright expiration. Copyright expiration is different for every country, but as far as I can fathom, works originating in the US have entered the public domain if they were published in the US before 1923 or if it is seventy years after the author's death; in New Zealand, fifty years after the author's death; and in the UK, seventy years after the author's death.
If my understanding is correct, this means I can publicly share poems on Pinterest which were published before 1923 or written by authors who died over 70 years ago. If you are interested in what kinds of 'antique' poems catch my fancy, you can read them on my Poetry board. My other favourite 'scrapbooks' at the moment are my Nursery Rhymes board and Fairy Tale Illustrations. Nursery Rhymes may actually be my favourite kinds of poems.
Here's hoping that by pinning artworks to Pinterest, I'm not breaking any art copyright laws. If so, then I guess I'm in good company with 100 million other users. I don't mean to sound flippant, however - a bit of research seems to suggest that links to other websites are permissible, which is probably how Pinterest manages this potential minefield. At least I have learned that I can't just share whatever artwork takes my fancy on my blog without permission. Luckily, there are a lot of great websites about, like Pixabay, that have fantastic royalty-free images like the ones above and below.
It was Horace who said, "A picture is a poem without words." Here's to enjoying the beauty of both.
*Margaret Belcher taught me Victorian Poetry and Prose in the third year of my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Canterbury back in 2000. We had a laugh together when I returned from term break as a Hopkins fan after I'd earlier stated my extreme dislike for his unique style. What do you think of Hopkins? Is he an 'olive writer' (an acquired taste)? You can find my favourite Hopkins poems, including "Spring and Fall: to a young child" (first published in 1918) on my Poetry board.
One of the peculiar things about living in a Western culture in the Southern Hemisphere is the seasonal mismatch of all the significant cultural holidays. Here we are coming out of winter, celebrating the arrival of spring -- blossoms, butterflies, daffodils and ducklings, longer days and light-filled nights -- and yet here comes Halloween, All Hallows' Eve, the Christian festival in remembrance of the dead overlaying Gaelic Samhain and more ancient festivals, with all their implications of harvest, autumn and fall.
It is a peculiarity that those of us born in the south seem to manage without issue (our only complaint generally being that we have no mid-season festival to ease the dullity* of the long winter months). But then the human mind is more than capable of handling cognitive dissonance — and of finding connections and echoes in even the most different things.
It's been a long winter, the coldest I can remember for a good fifteen years. One of my preoccupations this winter has been planning and running a family reunion celebrating seven generations of the Chappell family in New Zealand (the reunion took place last weekend). Family is important to me, history as well, and so, I thought, as spring brings me back to the writing world and Halloween approaches, what a perfect moment to dust off a story I wrote back in 2013, and share it with the world.
This is a story of family, a story of All Hallows' Eve, a story of ghosts. It is a tale of a friendship and of endings and new beginnings. It seems to me a fitting blend of fall and spring. It will be free to download from Smashwords. I hope you enjoy All Hallows' Eve.
* dullity — brownie points for you — yes, of course, I made this word up, but what a perfect blending of nullity and dullness...!
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