Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Obscure Fairy Tale: The Lassie and Her Godmother

As part of the countdown to the release of my next book ICE, I am sharing old Norse tales collected by Asbjornsen and Moe. The most famous of these tales ("East of the Sun and West of the Moon") was the inspiration for ICE. This is NOT that story...

The Lassie and Her Godmother (from Asbjornsen and Moe)

Once upon a time... a poor couple has a baby girl but can't afford to christen her. The man begs for someone to pay the fees, but the only person who offers is a well-dressed lady who wants to keep the child for her own.

Talk about an offer that comes with strings. Sheesh! At least Rumplestiltskin led up to his ultimatum.

The mother refuses, and the man continues to beg. But he has no luck, so he agrees to the lady's terms: the baby is christened and then taken away to live with her new foster-mother.

Sucks to be fairy-tale parents. They either die or never see their kids again. I think the survivors need a support group -- PARFTB (Parents Against Ridiculous Fairy Tale Bargains).

One day, years later, the foster-mother has to go on a journey. She shows the girl three doors and tells her she must not open them.

How has the girl never noticed the three doors before? I mean, she lives there, right? Unobservant much?

While the lady is away, the girl is overwhelmed with curiosity. She opens the first of the three forbidden doors. The Star flies out.

Here's an idea: if you have a forbidden room, lock the door.

When the lady returns, she's so upset that she wants to send the girl away. But the girl cries and begs, and so the lady allows her to stay.

Umm... any explanation about the star? Why was a star in the room? How did a star get into the room? Just how big is this house?

Eventually, the lady needs to go on a second journey. She warns the girl not to open the two remaining forbidden doors. This time, the girl opens the second door. The Moon flies out.

Seriously, I don't meant to be all un-poetic, but why is this woman kidnapping celestial objects? And isn't this causing a few minor gravitational issues? What about the tides?

When the lady returns this time, she is even more upset, but again, the girl cries, and the lady allows her to stay.

Lady, lock the door.

Before her third journey, the lady warns the girl not to open the final door. Of course, the girl opens the final door. The Sun flies out.

Got to admit: that's kind of a cool image.

This time, the lady tells her she must leave. She gives the girl a choice: "You can be the loveliest woman in the world but unable to speak, or you can be the ugliest woman in the world but keep your voice."

This lady has odd superpowers. Granted, Wonder Woman's invisible jet and lasso-of-truth are odd too, but still...

The girl chooses to be lovely and mute.

Ooh, ooh, we must be leading up to a moral! Pretty is as pretty does.

Leaving her foster-mother, the girl walks and walks through a great forest. At night, she climbs a tree. In the morning, she's found by a prince who thinks she's so beautiful that he decides to marry her.

Another deep meaningful relationship based on mutual interests and compatible worldviews.

At the birth of the girl's first child, the girl's foster-mother appears, cuts the baby's little finger, smears the blood on the girl's mouth, and says, "Now you will be as sad as I was when you let out the Star." She leaves with the baby.

Ouch, that's harsh.

Everyone assumes the girl ate her baby. The prince's mother wants to burn the girl at the stake, but the prince argues to save her life.

Perhaps the girl could learn sign language. Or charades.

At the birth of her second child, the prince doubles the guard around the girl, but the foster-mother still appears, smears blood on the girl's mouth, takes the child, and says, "Now you will be as sad as I was when you let out the Moon."

At least the prince is sensible enough to set guards. Two points for princey.

Again, everyone assumes the girl ate her baby, and the prince has to argue even harder to keep her alive.

Another idea: the girl could learn to write. A nice letter explaining that she's not a cannibal might help the prince out. Even a cryptic note: "Kidnapped. No eat."

At the birth of her third child, the foster-mother appears again, takes the baby, and says, "Now you will be as sad as I was when you let out the Sun."

Did the girl not see this coming?

This time, the prince is forced to agree to burn his wife. As the girl is led out to the stake, her foster-mother appears with three children. The foster-mother says, "You have been punished enough." She returns the children and restores the girl's voice.

Wait, wait, where's my moral? She chose pretty! Shouldn't she be learning some relevant lesson? You can't be leaving me with just "don't disobey"! What about the imprisonment of celestial objects? Are the kids really okay? Does the prince still like his wife? What about the girl's biological parents? Did they join PARFTB?

And everyone lives happily ever after. The end.


For more obscure fairy tales (with commentary), check out the Obscure Fairy Tales page of my website, where I've gathered links to all my prior fairy tale posts.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Dream the Dream

You've probably seen this already, but just in case:

Susan Boyle video

I've watched this about ten times now. It brings me to tears every time. And today I ran across this fantastic blog post about "when to quit" that was inspired by this clip. My favorite quote:

"You quit when you want something else, more. You quit when you have another dream that means more to you."

But you don't quit until then. Even if everyone in the audience is snickering at you. Even if your snickering audience is just your cat. I believe this in my heart of hearts. Dream the dream.

Now, back to revising chapter two...

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Twitter, Facebook, and Winterized Website

Played online all weekend. Very fun.

Started "tweeting." Am rapidly becoming addicted. If you're on Twitter, you can follow me here.

Also created a Facebook page. Yep, I'm pretty much the last person on the planet to do so. If you're on Facebook, I hope you'll drop by and become a "fan."

And I winterized my website (as well as my blog and MySpace) in honor of the new cover art for ICE. Outside, the forsythia is blooming and robins are hopping about in a cliched spring-like manner, but online, the deep freeze begins!

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Cover Art and Jacket Flap Copy for ICE!

Ooh, ooh, ooh, look what I just got from my editor -- cover art for ICE!!! Created by Cliff Nielsen, the same artist who did the covers for Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series.

OMG, I absolutely LOVE it. If it is possible to fall in love with a jpeg file, I have just done so. What do you think? Do you like it? Do ya? Do ya?? Do ya???

As you may have noticed from the sidebar, I've started plastering this image all over my website and blog. And in honor of the occasion, I added an ICE page to my website, complete with a new book description, also recently received from my editor, which I'll reproduce here:

When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairytale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth to become a prisoner of the trolls. Now that Cassie is older, she knows that this was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, she is determined to become a scientist, and she has no time for make believe.

Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face to face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned in the troll castle. And that he can bring her back -- if Cassie will agree to be his bride.

That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairytale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knew will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her -- until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of ICE.

Soooo..... Do you like it? Do ya? Do ya?? Do ya???

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Monday, April 06, 2009


I have a lot of reasons to love the UK:

Our first apartment... After college, my husband and I lived in Cambridge, England, for a year. Our apartment had a few flaws. The closet was over the bed, which meant that the only way to get our clothes was to stand on top of our bed. Odd. Also, the walls molded midway through the year. But I loved it because it was the first place we lived together as a couple. We cooked our first Thanksgiving turkey there (we didn't know y
ou were supposed to remove the giblets) and learned why you separate laundry (I turned half our underwear a lovely light blue).

Lots of daffodils and old stuff... We bought my engagement ring in London and took it on a photo tour of the major sites: Big Ben, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and parks packed with daffodils. Also memorable that day: as we walked toward the Tower of London, a bird pooped on my shoe. If I had shifted my weight forward a little sooner, the whole mood of the day might have been different.

My Ring at Westminster Abbey

My Ring (and very classy Eeyore watch) at Buckingham Palace

Cadbury's caramel bars... The Tube used to have (and maybe still has) Cadbury bar vending machines. I bought one every time we went anywhere in London. Any place that produces yummy chocolate treats has my undying affection.

And now I have a brand-new wonderful reason to love the UK:

ICE will be published in the UK!!! I just found out that there will be a UK edition of my next novel, ICE!! It's scheduled to come out on November 2, 2009, about a month after the US edition. And it already has its own Amazon UK page. Click here to see, and to read the lovely new book description (complete with the British spelling of Arctic research centre!). This makes me as happy as Mary Poppins.

Not to be confused with the scary Mary Poppins:


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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I Love Libraries

I love libraries. Always have. I was the kid who wanted to take out sixty books at once. My mom eventually had to make a rule that I could only take out as many books as I could carry. I learned to stretch out my arms and balance a huge number of books between my fingertips and chin -- enough books that if I'd dropped them, I'd have crushed a small puppy.

I'm still that way. Confronted with a smorgasboard of books, I'll say, "Let's take them all." And so I stagger out of the library with more books than I could possibly read before the due date. I can't help myself.

Anyway, my mom (who is directly responsible for my addiction to libraries) is visiting and discovered this song, and I just had to share it:

I LOVE MY LIBRARY by Lunch Money

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