Fairy Tale Channels

I offer here one of the shorter, sillier versions of a fairy tale retelling.  Since turnabout is fair play and thus far I’ve been critiquing other people’s writing, I decided the first retelling would be my own.  The following falls at one end of the fairy tale spectrum: the light-hearted, humorous type.  I happen to think that the opposite, darker end of this spectrum is more intriguing, but as it is also less well-known, we may as well begin here.

“Fairy Tale Channels: Everyone’s Searching for Something”

Hilda’s curls flailed wildly around her shoulders.  She’d been wearing her blue robe and training hood for days; it was a relief to uncover her head.  Tossing her training garb aside, Hilda flung herself into her rocking chair.  Behind closed eyes she saw again the last human she’d tried to help to earn her Fairy Godmother license.  “Oooohh, boo!”  How did her gifts always manage to go wrong?  She couldn’t understand it.  That spell for magically growing rope had been one of her first and easiest at the academy.  Hilda couldn’t imagine how it had become attached to that poor girl’s head instead of her window.  She sighed.  If only she’d performed the spell less perfectly it might still have been of use.  She could have cut her magically rope-strong hair and climbed down it, but no – it had stopped growing and disappeared as soon as it left her head, just like the most obedient elf rope in the land.  “How could it have landed on her head?” she moaned, half angry and half desperate.  That poor girl, with her hair now ridiculously long, had been her second chance at her license.  If she didn’t manage something better soon, she’d have to give up and leave in disgrace.  Hilda did not think she’d make a good disgraced fairy: she didn’t have the grace or the temperament to accept help from men instead.

Restlessly, she wandered over to her items chest.  Already the council had insisted on looking over everything she’d invested with magic to be sure she wasn’t turning to witches’ magic.  They’d left the inventory inside, signed ok to return to her with the remark: Only follies and novelties, nothing of interest in spells.  “That’s rather unnecessary,” Hilda muttered, running her wand down the list to make sure it got everything properly put away on the shelves.  One teddy bear with magical punching powers, two shoes with enchanted dancing spells, a blanket with invisibility powers –

unfortunately blocking vision from both sides, a set of jewels that could squish into any shape or lock, and a set of unbreakable, if very small and uncomfortable, glass slippers.

With the chest empty and ready to infuse new objects with magic, Hilda turned determinedly to the crystal ball.  Surely someone eligible would be in need of a fairy godmother soon, and she must be the first to answer the call.  Whatever she did this time, it just had to be impressive.  “Not to mention come off perfectly,” she added under her breath.  “E.-M.A.I.L. Network,” she told the ball clearly.

Instantly the crystal globe flicked on, switching through the Eligible-Maidens Accruing Ill Luck – the type of human her training had specialized in.  In a small bubble at the top of the sphere flashed faces of vampires, goblins, and witches.  With a shiver Hilda remembered she’d had her ball to the I.M.D.B. channel, for those In Magical Distress or Bondage.  If she couldn’t even order magical rope to work right in a witch’s place of power, she wasn’t about to risk going up against a dark magician again.  “H.U.L.U. channel,” she ordered.

The crystal’s main picture enlarged to show all the Humans Undergoing Love Uprooting.  Dozens of girls cursing engagement rings, moving away from friends, and sobbing at parents’ funerals swept past her view.  Not a single one looked important enough to redeem Hilda’s failure.  They also had a sad lack of straightforward answers.  In the Fairy Godmother world, achieving straightforward goals always gained higher rewards than more long-term aid.  Hilda understood that the latter allowed the humans a chance to complain.  Stifling a yawn, she rose to go to bed, when she thought of the general channel for men: the Beautiful But Crying.  “Switch to B.B.C,” she nearly whispered.

The faces slid by slower here, the camerawork more on the girls’ bodies.  Hilda recognized several from the previous channels, and even a few from the royal families whose troubles were the responsibility of appointed Fairy Godmothers.  “Silly idea,” Hilda remarked after about the twelfth girl.  She rubbed at her eyes and raised her wand to turn off the crystal.  But her hand stopped when her eyes focused again.  This common girl knelt in rags; clearly she had no importance.  On the other hand, she was beautiful enough to draw attention, even from a prince, her problem was simple, and her persecutor a mere human.  Drawing a deep breath, Hilda scrolled down the scene.  When she reached the bottom, her breath hissed sharp against her teeth.  “Well, bippity, boppity!” she exclaimed in delight.

On her feet in an instant, the blue robe and hood of the trade resumed their places.  Grasping up her inventory list, Hilda touched her fingers to the globe.  In a chill, a word, and a glide, she stood before the weeping girl in her rags.  With a wave of her hand and a tinkling throat clear, she gained the maiden’s attention.  “Greetings, child.  I’m your Fairy Godmother.”  As she spoke the words, her heart beat faster in her chest.  This time, it would come off perfect.

“My godmother?”  What was her name? –Cinderella asked, wonderingly.

“Fairy Godmother.”  Hilda’s smile was beatific.  “And you need to get to the royal ball.”

Cinderella gasped.  “Yes!  Oh – could you really do that for me?”  Her eyes shone as if Hilda were the only one in the world.  Perhaps she’ll actually catch this prince!  Aiding a royal bride would really impress the committee! 

For answer Hilda swirled towards the road.  For one awful moment she feared she’d forgotten her wand at home, but after a slight fluster of “Where?” and “Boo!” she produced it with a flourish.  Focusing very hard on the curved shape and luxurious colors of human coaches, she gently flicked her wand.  The road trembled slightly as a giant, and garishly orange vehicle appeared.

Cinderella ran to her carriage.  She turned back, looking quizzical.  “It’s a giant pumpkin on wheels,” she remarked.  Strolling casually behind, Hilda brushed her fingers on the side.  It was, undoubtedly, a pumpkin.  However, the inside was covered in satins and silk, and every line and handle shone, covered in golden gilt.

“That’s the newest fashion for you.  Now, we need mice.”  She drew Cinderella away.  The ragged maiden stared.  “Ah!  I have just the thing!”  Hiding the list in her sleeve, Hilda summoned the items she wanted.  The fighting teddy bear, though useless as a princess’s bodyguard in the woods, managed to round up six mice, a cat, and various others without difficulty.  As they arrived, Hilda set her teeth and willed herself to remember everything right.  Again and again her wand flicked out, as her spells did their transforming work.  “Bippity-Boppity-Boo!”

When six horses stood reined to the pumpkin coach, now manned by footmen and drivers, Hilda dared to inspect her work.  They wouldn’t last long, but great bipping, they looked wonderful!  Grandly, she gestured for Cinderella to leave.  “Thank you, so much!  But…how can I go in rags?”

“Of course you cannot!”  Tired and sweating, Hilda remembered the rest of the plan.  Her case of magic jewels tailored themselves into a gleaming, shimmering dress to replace the rags.  Two diamonds shifted and squished into twinkling combs for her hair.  “And now, the coup de grace!”  Breathless with excitement, Hilda summoned her tiny glass slippers.  As she’d suspected from the moment she’d seen those feet, they truly fit Cinderella.  “Perfectly boppy.”

“It is, isn’t it?  Oh, thank you, Fairy Godmother!”  Cinderella smiled and bolted into the coach.  “I shall remember this night for always.”

“I hope so, child, but your night must end at midnight.  That’s when these spells shall end.  So, go fast – and enjoy every minute you can!”

“Goodbye – and thank you!”  The coach rumbled into the night, with Cinderella and her problems now solved.

“I did it!  At last, I did it!”  Nearly leaping through the air, Hilda whirled back into her home, eager to watch how it went.  Gleefully, she touched her crystal awake, and asked to see Cinderella.  Please.  The night had gone so well already, Hilda hardly dared hope for more, but if only-if only…Please let her enchant the prince.  Please let her become important!  It was the only way this girl could possibly win her Fairy Godmother license.


The clock began striking midnight, and Cinderella ran.  When the prince ran after her, Hilda clapped her hands and cheered.  Down the stairs the lovers flew, threading their way through the guests.  Hilda’s wand swept out and two pairs of dancing shoes, unnoticed in the crowd, danced their way toward Cinderella.  One cleared a path for her escape; the other pestered and slowed the prince’s feet.  No one could ask for an easier flight, until the girl reached the last step.  A leather sole plopped on her slipper’s heel, letting her left foot slip free.  As Cinderella fled onward to her waiting coach, the dancing shoes kicked out a circle around the deserted slipper.  The prince could not possibly miss it.

Guards and servants fanned out. Glass shoe in hand, the prince couldn’t think how he could possibly have lost her.  The orange coach had been there, within easy reach, when they’d inexplicably disappeared, in front of his eyes and his entourage.  The road stayed empty and a search found nothing on the wayside.  Clutching her slipper, the prince bemoaned his defeat as they returned home.

Withdrawing her invisibility blanket from its place between the lovers, Hilda smiled at the prince in her crystal.  “Now, it’ll have to be my slipper that helps them!  They’ll have to admit I helped royalty!”  Twirling lightly to her bed, Hilda sang as she fell asleep.  “Bippity boppity boo!”


Dear Mom,

Today, Cinderella got married.  I’ve had my Fairy Godmother license for only a short few weeks, and already I’m growing quite famous, and as rich as my newlywed princess!  After all, if I can turn a girl from rags to riches, what else can my magic objects do?  I’ve even had a man come to me – a Fairy Godmother for maidens! – and ask for help reaching the sky.  He wants to fetch a piece of moon for his wife.  Now, I’ve never studied the moon, but he only asked for a way to the sky.  It should be easy enough to magic a ladder.

I have to go, mother, the beans for my dinner are ready.  Love me.


Proof the unnatural does not need zombies.

The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet
edited by: Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant http://www.lcrw.net/lcrw/thebestof.htm
Ballantine Books 2007

Drawing on a decade of submissions to the zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet , the variety of stories in their newly published “Best Of” anthology hold only one clear message: here there be monsters! Whether it involves mushroom-crazed duchesses, unavoidable ghosts, talking animals, or only a sorry inability to mix a great cocktail, the imaginable atrocities of life, and some that only these authors could have imagined, find vibrant and stirring representations in this book.

Designed to tempt every palate, this collection of far-ranging stories seems to include something for everyone-and no one story can accurately indicate the tone or appeal of the others. A skim through Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is rather like flipping through the stations on a radio: you’ll find everything from pop music to health advice, and one of those stations is bound to interest you. The main difference is that where one might feel silly for finding a commercial more engrossing than anything else on the radio, this book’s offerings embrace so much, in such a short span of pages, their readers will be too busy paying attention to compare them to anything else.

A satisfyingly weird homage to the magazine pledged to publish the best and the oddest of today’s literary world, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is a provoking experience. The only piece of advice that could help prepare readers for some of the strangeness in store for them here, is to avoid reading it right before bedtime.

Of course the criminally-minded end up in government.

Going Postal

By: Terry Pratchett

HarperTorch  2004

A science fiction review

In Going Postal, Terry Pratchett makes memorable the name of antihero Moist von Lipwig, which takes some doing.  As a skilled conman Moist is a master at offering others the “prospect of hope”, but it seems rather unfair when all his efforts to escape Ankh-Morpork and its patrician Lord Vetinari start becoming only prospects of freedom.  From being hanged in the morning to being forced to accept a government job in the afternoon would be enough to drive anyone mad.  Add in a golem for a parole officer, a decrepit Post Office building complete with fanatic tenants for a home, and a cynical Miss Dearheart for a love interest, and Moist’s new career seems hopeless.  Fortunately, the discovery that mysterious forces killed the previous four postmasters died suspiciously, and that the head of the rival communications giant of clacks, or telegrams, has a brutal business agenda convinces Moist that he must rise to the occasion.  At least it all comes with a hat.

Pratchett’s con artist works through charisma, and successfully charms the readers as well as those in Ankh-Morpork.  The numerous turns and story lines unravel at a quick pace that carries the reader along pleasantly, without being abrupt or confusing.  Add to that Pratchett’s great talent of creating stories that are really relevant, but only just relevant enough, and Going Postal packs entertainment with a punch.

Regency Romance’s Best Bickering

Black Sheep
by: Georgette Heyer (www.georgette-heyer.com)
Sourcebooks Casablanca 2008
An historical fiction review

Miss Abigail Wendover leads a charming life full of high fashion, close friends, and a confidence that enables her to keep her own counsel in the face of both societal and familial objections. Some proud and determinedly proper relatives were Abby’s greatest trial until her beloved niece Fanny fell for the older, controversial Mr. Caverleigh. A chance encounter with this suitor’s uncle Miles sets Abby on her way towards rescuing Fanny, exploring romance, and deciding what rules are really worth caring about.

Possessed of an independent living as well as an independent mind, Abby’s choices lead her beyond the simple struggle between propriety and desire, and into the dilemma over how to select which pressures and thoughts should count towards her decision. The combination of Abby’s insights with her impetuous streak of humor turn her into one of Heyer’s most delightful, fresh, and modern heroines. Between Abby’s mental comments, her banter with the roguish Miles Caverleigh, and Heyer’s masterful use of different points of view, Black Sheep delivers Abby’s story with enough wit and fun to make it sad that there’s less than 300 pages.

Next Newer Entries