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What it says on the tin! You can now see the new black and white illustrations I did in full detail, as well as read the new little bit I put in the end! Go buy read –> here.

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You can listen to it on my libsyn site or on iTunes. You can read the original post, “Losing My Shoes in Venice,” here.

A reminder that today is the last day to pre-order my Monsters novella! If you follow the blog, you’ve read it here, but this version has new illustrations and a new bit at the end!

I haven’t been keeping up, but! Yesterday episode 11 of the podcast went up, in which I read “The Piano Room”! While there’s an amusing glitch in the sound editing (oops), I really love this story.

If you’d like to read the story yourself, here’s the link.

Also: consider pre-ordering the consolidated and edited Monsters fairy tale novella on Amazon! I am super happy with the set of new illustrations I did for the book. Thanks also to the people who have been following along with the story since I started it in September.

Story no. 40, the seventh and FINAL part in my retelling of Beauty and the Beast. If you are just finding my blog now, you probably want to read part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, and part six first. Friends, I don’t even have words for how excited I am to have this finished so you can all read it! 

I have more exciting plans for this novella, but I will wait until I’ve got a bit more done to talk about them here. 

If you’d like a print of this story’s illustration, you can find that here

If you want to support me or this project, I have a Patreon


the_forest small

The studio was a flurry of people coming and going and yelling at each other when Khirkara arrived. It had been a real struggle not to just lie down on the floor in the apartment and sleep, and the world tilted off its axis if he didn’t focus on staying upright.

Eleth actually waved a hand at him when he walked past the costume shop. “Khirkara! I’m using those embroideries from your research folder for the court scenes! They’re really shaping up well . . .” He held up a beautiful half-jacket of black damask, the front points stiffened with knotwork in silver thread.

Khirkara smiled at him and mouthed a compliment, feeling both gratified and bewildered. Those designs are from the wrong century, he wanted to say. And that knot was only ever popular in Rathsgar. Isn’t the movie set in Rathskun now?

He had clearly labeled all of his research folders with the period and region of the information contained inside, using red plastic clips and a bold shorthand on each page in case it got separated from its parent document. There was no way that Eleth could have missed those tags.

The movie was outside of time, he thought, breathing deeply through his nose. It would be very pretty. Read More

Story no. 39, the penultimate sixth part in my retelling of Beauty and the Beast. If you are just finding my blog now, you probably want to read part one, part two, part three, part four, and part five first.

If you’d like a print of this story’s illustration, you can find that here

If you want to support me or this project, I have a Patreon


FADE FROM BLACK to a grassy hill near shortly before sunrise. The sky is pale blue. The land rises in front of the camera, blocking the long view of the plains. The yellowish plants are tipped with frost. It is still early spring, but the weather is beginning to break.

The SHEPHERD’S MOTHER crosses onto the screen, a lamb under each arm. She looks less feeble than the last time we saw her, when the SHEPHERD showed her the head of the sheep slaughtered by the Beast. It appears that the year of his absence has been a good one for her; her face is fuller and browner, and her gray hair is more neatly braided.

She disappears over the hill. The camera pans to the left, where the SHEPHERD is kneeling next to a small fire, a bundle in his arms.

Cut to the SHEPHERD in profile. Behind him we can see many white lumps huddled in the grass: sheep who have yet risen for the day. The bundle in his arms is another lamb, head poking out of a piece of fabric, probably a torn cloak. He is vigorously toweling off the lamb. It bleats sporadically and indignantly. The BRACELET of brambles around his wrist is visible as he holds the lamb with first one arm, then the other. Read More

Story 38, part five in my retelling of Beauty and the Beast. If you are just finding my blog now, you probably want to read part one, part two, part three, and four first. The last two installments are written; I just have to do the illustrations for them. I refuse to speculate how long those will take, as clearly every time I give myself a deadline I refuse to meet it. So!

If you’d like a print of this story’s illustration, you can find that here

If you want to support me or this project, I have a Patreon


He went out from the tower,
The ancient and ruined place,
Where once humans had ruled
And now the beast slept.
The beast, with whom he had kept
Good and gentle company,
Brought him a bramble in her teeth:
The thorns as long as claws,
Sharp as death in winter.
“Wear thee this, on thy wrist,”
Said the voice in the trees.
“When its teeth have gone dull,
Know that the beast has died
Heartbroken, for want of thee.”

***

Khirkara got a ride from an old man in an ancient board-sided livestock truck, well after the sun had set. He wasn’t the only passenger; another young man with a shaved head sat in the center of the bench seat. A thin boy was asleep in the space under the dashboard. No one spoke except for the wind and the sheep crammed in the bed of the truck, who baaed fervently.

Read More

Story 37, part four in my retelling of Beauty and the Beast. If you are just finding my blog now, you probably want to read part one, part two, and part three first. Two more installments to go after this one! The story should finish up by Thanksgiving. 

If you’d like a print of this story’s illustration, you can find that here

If you want to support me or this project, I have a Patreon


From the translation monograph of Nazar Alibek:

“The reader is given very different, often conflicting, descriptions of the beast throughout the manuscript, which again may reflect sources of differing origin and age. Late in the poem, the horse-familiar tells the shepherd that the beast was of noble birth, the daughter of a great sorcerer princess, who was transformed in this beastly aspect by a jealous rival of her mother’s. This version of the beast is described as profoundly erudite, precise and dignified in comportment, and swift and merciless in battle—all qualities one might expect to read in a standard commissioned extollment for a princess of the era. Yet earlier in the poem, the voice in the trees warns the shepherd that the beast has been imprisoned in her monstrous body for her crimes of savagery, that her exterior might better reflect the character of her soul.

The narrator also refers several times to the beast as “queen in the forest,” a phrase that shows striking similarity to the Elasim myth of “rajkath in the trees” and by extension the Mukari “rejgad,” or the Shadow Knight. While this creature is recovered from oral folklore many centuries younger than the Harbin manuscript, she is an intriguing parallel to the idea of a beast occupying the deep woods. The Shadow Knight is a gaunt woman with elongated limbs and needle-like teeth. She haunts the wildest parts of the landscape, whether forest or steppe, hunting lost travelers and children.

Whether the beast is meant to be an essentially human entity who is rescued from monstrosity, or a fundamentally monstrous one transfigured into humanity, is a subject for debate.”

***

Atzgar had turned his chair away from the fire so that he could watch what Khirkara was doing. The agreement that had been settled on, with considerable protest from the old man, was that he could examine the catalog at his leisure, but if he wanted to look at a specific book, he would need to get confirmation from his host before taking it off the shelf. Read More