Monday, January 28, 2008

Obscure Fairy Tale: Snow White and Rose Red

Today's fairy tale is "Snow-White and Rose-Red." Not to be confused with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." Totally different. Except for the name thing. And the use of dwarves. But that's it.

I love this story. I think it's even better than its more-famous counterpart. Except that if you look at it a little too closely, it kind of doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Okay, fine, even if you look at it from a mile away, the narrative is a total mess. But who cares? It has a talking bear! Talking bears are always good!

Snow-White and Rose-Red (from the Brothers Grimm)

A poor woman has two rose bushes (one white and one red) and two beautiful daughters (one called Snow-White and one called Rose-Red).

Red-herring #1: the Roses. You'd think they'd play an important part in the story. Yeah, not so much.

The daughters are fast friends. Snow-White says, "We will not leave each other." Rose-Red says, "Never so long as we live." And their mother finishes, "What one has she must share with the other."

Red-herring #2: the Promise. Ooh, foreshadowing! They're going to be forced apart! Or the mother will have to make some hideous choice between them! Or the fate of one will uplift and/or destroy the other! Very dramatic! Except not. They just like each other. And that's one of the things that I love about this story: the two sisters and the mom all love each other. No one's trying to enslave or poison or eat or dismember their relative. Refreshing.

The sisters like to gather berries in the forest together, and the birds and beasts like to frolick around them. No harm ever comes to them. Sometimes, they stay out in the woods too late, spend the night on a bed of moss, and wake to see a ghost-like boy leaving. Mom tells them he is an angel who watches over good children.

Red-herring #3: Angel-Boy. That's it for him. No dialogue. No action. No mention ever again. My guess: when the original audience heard about the woman whose daughters frolicked unharmed in the deep, dark, scary woods, they started crying, "She's a witch! A witch!" So the storyteller tossed in a spare angel.

One day in winter, while the sisters, a lamb, and a dove are listening to the girl's mother read a story, there's a knock at the door. Rose-Red answers it and finds a great black bear. She shrieks and hides.

I love a sensible heroine. That's totally what I would have done (though I'd like to think that I would have slammed the door shut first). No idea what's up with the lamb and the dove. Maybe they serve the same purpose as the spare angel: proof of non-witchiness. Kind of like the opposite of Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books -- in those books, the witches prove their witchiness by purchasing skulls and warty noses and other witch paraphenalia from a mail-order catalog; in this tale, the family has purchased their set dressing from the "we're innocent" collection. The Grimm Brothers are far too subtle to mention it, but the family is also listening to harp music and eating Angel Food Cake.

The bear says, "I mean you no harm." Mom invites him in.

I love the mother. She's so very polite. Not wanting to embarrass their ursine guest, she never even asks why he's a talking bear. She simply invites him in to share their angel food cake.

The girls sweep the snow from the bear and then play with him -- tugging his fur, rolling him with their feet, beating him with a hazel-switch...

Beating him with a hazel-switch??? Where's the ASPCA? And since when is whacking a bear with a stick a good idea? Even a talking bear has teeth. Are they really so bored that this is considered "fun"? Well, maybe. They are cooped up for the winter, and TV hasn't been invented yet. If not for "American Idol," perhaps we would all be spending our winters whacking bears with sticks. Um, right.

When they're too rough, he cries, "Snow-White, Rose-Red, will you beat your wooer dead?"

Ahhh, sweet romance!

Spring comes, and the bear says, "Now I must leave and guard my treasure from the wicked dwarves. It was safe in winter while the ground was frozen and the dwarves could not dig." And he leaves. Snow-White is sad.

I smell cross-over! This is what the famous Snow White's dwarves were mining! Also, note that only Snow-White is sad. I smell romance!

One day in the woods, the girls find a dwarf with his beard stuck in a crevice of a tree. He cries to them for help. To free him, they cut off a bit of his beard. He shouts at them, "You uncouth hooligans! How dare you cut my beautiful beard!"

The famous Snow White has Sleepy, Dopey, and Sneezy. This Snow-White has Fussy. I'm rather fond of Fussy Dwarf.

Another day, by a stream, they find the same dwarf with his beard caught in a fishing line. He's about to be dragged into the water by a big fish. To save him, they cut a bit of his beard again. Again, he curses them.

Personally, I'm fascinated by this dwarf-eating fish. What kind of stream has dwarf-eating fish? How big is this fish?

Yet another day, the girls are walking into town, and they find the dwarf about to be carried off by a bird. They pull him free, though his coat is ruined in the process. "My coat!" he cries. "My beautiful coat! Ruined! You clumsy, stupid oafs!"

Fussy Dwarf has keen fashion sense.

On their way home from town, they find the dwarf admiring a bunch of jewels. He yells at them, and a black bear emerges from the forest. Frightened, the dwarf tells the bear to eat the girls and spare him.

Fussy Dwarf has a not-so-keen sense of gratitude.

The bear kills him.

Oh, no, Fussy!!!

The bear then transforms into a handsome prince. He explains that he was bewitched by the dwarf who had stolen his treasure. Now, with the dwarf's death, he is free.

Not to be all hung up on chronology or anything, but didn't he say earlier that he had to leave to protect his treasure from the dwarves? And now he's saying his treasure was stolen before he became a bear? Also, why kill the dwarf now? Why not earlier? And why the three rescues? Was that supposed to be comic relief before the big finale, or was that key to the plot? Did I skip a page? I must have skipped a page...

Snow-White marries the prince, and Rose-Red marries his brother.

Yay for romance! See, told you she liked the bear. Wait, where did the brother come from? Does Rose-Red like him? What was he doing while his brother was a bear?

They split the treasure.

Yay for practicality! Of course, it was his treasure in the first place. Or so he claims.

The mother moves in with them, and she brings her two rose bushes. Every year they bear beautiful roses, white and red.

Yay for poetic yet pointless roses! And yay for the mother and her two daughters who successfully navigate a Grimm's fairy tale without suffering anything particularly grim!

If you'd like to read a retelling of this tale that actually makes sense, check out the beautiful and wonderful book, Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede.

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 obscure fairy tale posts.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Website, Blog, and MySpace Updates

My husband and I spent this weekend doing home improvements. Not the fix-the-plumbing kind of home improvements. That was last weekend.

Last weekend, a tree turned off our heat.

You wouldn't think this would be possible. But thanks to some twisted Rube Goldberg-esque chain of events, it is. You see, we have this lovely umbrella magnolia tree outside our kitchen. Its roots grew into some piping, which caused our sink to clog, which caused our dishwasher to
overflow, which caused water to seep through the floor into the basement and directly onto our boiler, which caused the wiring to short-circuit, which caused our heat to shut off. Really. This actually happened. It sounds funny. It wasn't. (Okay, it was a little funny.)

We plunged. We snaked. We Drano-ed. We called a plumber. The plumber broke the pipe. We called a different plumber. The second plumber performed a sort of sewer colonoscopy in which he sent a tiny camera through the pipe, and then he bored through the tree root...

Anyway, this weekend, our home improvement
s were to my online home. And I am even more excited about them than I was about boring through tree roots (though, I admit, that did make a cool crunching sound -- updating my website did not, thankfully, involve a crunching sound).

Newsletter Sign-Up

See the new sign-up area over in the blog sidebar? (If you're reading this on LJ or elsewhere, you can click over here to see it.) It's also on the Contact page of my website. We were up until 3am figuring out how to set that doo-hickey up. (Okay, technically, we were up until 1am figuring out how to set it up, then until 2am watching American Idol -- we had t
o see the guy with the shiny cape and the white-feather hat -- and then until 3am because we both zonked out on the chair.) But armed with a combined 37 years of schooling (not counting kindergarten), a Netscape HTML instruction manual from 1997, and the power of the internets, we were victorious!

And now you can sign up to receive my newsletter!

Not that a newsletter exists yet. But once one does, you could be the proud recipient. That will be very exciting for you, for me, for your neighbor who will hear the songs of joy that you are inspired to sing... Okay, perhaps it won't inspire singing. But I still hope you'll con
sider signing up for my newsletter. If you don't, then I'm just going to keep signing myself up, and that will just be pathetic.

Happy Newsletter Recipient

Blog Sidebar and Header

Look up! Cover art in the header! And look to the right -- we added Out of the Wild! And cute little award buttons! Yay for cute little buttons!


We also updated my MySpace page to include Out of the Wild. And we added a countdown to the Out of the Wild pub date -- June 19, 2008! There were three options for special effects on the countdown: glitter on the edges, glitter overlay, and glitter on the words. I said yes to all of them. I believe the end result is tasteful, understated, and non-obtrusive. After all, you can never have too much glitter.

You can never have too much glitter.


New home page! And a new Excerpts page. And a page with links to all the Obscure Fairy Tales that I've babbled about (thus far) in this blog. I also added a link to Miss Erin and Traci's book trailer for Into the Wild (on the ITW book page), the blurbs for Out of the Wild (on the OOTW book page), and a bunch of other little tweaks.

What do you guys think? Am I missing anything? Are there any other features or info that I should add?

Is it a bad idea to have a tree with Swiss-cheese roots right next to my house?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008


What do Holly Black, Tamora Pierce, Charles de Lint, and Michael Buckley have in common?

If you said they're all incredibly amazing authors who I worship unabashedly with fangirly delight... you'd be absolutely right, though that's not really where I was headed with this.

If you said that none of their names start with the letter Q... well, technically, you'd be right too, though you'd be starting to irritate me.

If you said they'd all read Out of the Wild and written wonderful blurbs for the book jacket... I'd probably call you a big fat liar and tell you that it wasn't very nice to tease me like that and that jerks like you should stick to crank-calling authors early on the morning of the ALA awards... But then I'd have to sheepishly come back and apologize profusely for calling you a liar and a jerk because...

OMG! Check out what Madame Editor just sent me... Blurbs for the book jacket of Out of the Wild!

"An enchanting romp full of adventure, humor and cleverness!" -- Holly Black, New York Times bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles and Tithe

"An amazing, wild ride with very high stakes, and the fate of humans and fairytale people alike on the shoulders of one determined girl. This is even better than the first book!" -- Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author of Terrier (Beka Cooper) and The Will of the Empress

"This is one of those rare occasions when the sequel is as good as the first book, if not better. Though, in my estimation, they make two halves of one story, and what a wonderfully entertaining story it is." -- Charles de Lint, author of The Blue Girl and Widdershins

"Head-spinning fun! Any book that mixes fire breathing dragons and Elvis Presley is a rare treat." -- Michael Buckley, New York Times bestselling author of The Sisters Grimm series

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you to Holly, Tammy, Charles, and Michael for taking the time to read Out of the Wild and say such wonderful things. My appreciation exceeds the words I have to express it.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Andre Norton Award Preliminary Ballot

Hear that?

[stomp, stomp, stomp, doo-doo-doo-doo...]

Yes, that's me doing a Snoopy Dance of Joy! Why, you may ask? Well, it has something to do with the fact that SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) has officially released the Preliminary Ballot for the 2007 Nebula Awards. It has even more to do with the fact that one of those awards is the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. And it has a whole lot to do with the fact that one of the four works on the 2007 Andre Norton Preliminary Ballot is Into the Wild!!!

2007 Andre Norton Award Preliminary Ballot
FLORA SEGUNDA by Ysabeau S. Wilce (Harcourt, Jan07)
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic Press, Jul07)
INTO THE WILD by Sarah Beth Durst (Penguin Razorbill, Jun07)
VINTAGE by Steve Berman (Haworth Positronic Press, Mar07)

Here's what this means: Be warned, there will be some math... To qualify for the preliminary ballot, you need 10 recommendations from SFWA members. (I'm tickled to say that Into the Wild was rec'd (as they say) by 17 very kind souls!) SFWA members then vote, and the top five works from each category make the final ballot. At this stage, for the Norton, up to three more works can be added to the final ballot by a seven-member jury. SFWA members then vote again to select the winners, which are announced during the Nebula Awards Weekend, held this year in Austin, TX from April 25-27. Sound complicated? It is.

Here's what this means as translated by my brain: SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am truly honored to have a book on the Norton preliminary ballot. One of the very first things I did after I signed the contract for Into the Wild and Out of the Wild was to join SFWA. I'd wanted to be a member for years and years. (In fact, I'd been crashing their parties for years and years.) So to be a nominee for a SFWA award really means a great deal to me.

To everyone who made it onto the preliminary ballot (especially my fellow Andre Norton nominees): Congratulations!!! I'm honored to have my name printed on the same page as yours. I've met Steve and Ysabeau, both awesome people and amazing writers. I've never met J.K., but from what I've read in Maureen Johnson's blog, she sounds like quite a character. And I've heard that those books of hers are selling pretty well.

To everyone who rec'd Into the Wild: Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

To any active SFWA members who are interested in reading Into the Wild: Please email me at and I will be happy to have a copy sent to you.

And to everyone, check out the rest of the Nebula preliminary ballot. There are some great books and stories in here.

Ragamuffin, by Tobias Buckell (Tor, Jun07)
The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, May07)
Species Imperative #3: Regeneration, by Julie E. Czerneda (DAW, May06)
Vellum: The Book of All Hours, by Hal Duncan (Del Rey, Apr06 (Macmillan hardcover Nov05 (UK)))
The Accidental Time Machine, by Joe Haldeman (Ace, Aug07)
The New Moon's Arms, by Nalo Hopkinson (Warner Books, Feb07)
Mainspring, by Jay Lake (Tor, Jun07)
Odyssey, by Jack McDevitt (Ace, Nov06)
The Outback Stars, by Sandra McDonald (Tor, May07)
Strange Robby, by Selina Rosen (Meisha Merlin Publishing Jul06)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic Press, Jul07)
Rollback, by Robert J. Sawyer (Analog, Feb07 (serialized in Oct06 through Jan/Feb07 issues; Tor book, Apr07))
Blindsight, by Peter Watts (Tor, Oct06)

"The Helper and His Hero," by Matt Hughes (F&SF, Mar07 (Feb07 & Mar07))
"Fountain of Age," by Nancy Kress (Asimov's, Jul07)
"Stars Seen Through Stone," by Lucius Shepard (F&SF, Jul07)
"Kiosk," by Bruce Sterling (F&SF, Jan07)
"Memorare," by Gene Wolfe (F&SF, Apr07)

"The Children's Crusade," by Robin Wayne Bailey (Heroes in Training, Martin H. Greenberg and Jim C. Hines, Ed., DAW, Sep07)
"A Flight of Numbers Fantastique Strange," by Beth Bernobich (Asimov's, Jun06)
"Things That Aren't," by Michael A. Burstein and Robert Greenberger (Analog, Apr07)
"The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," by Ted Chiang (F&SF, Sep07)
"Sister of the Hedge," by Jim C. Hines (Realms of Fantasy, Jun06)
"The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs Of North Park After the Change," by Kij Johnson (Coyote Road, Trickster Tales, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Ed., Viking Juvenile, Jul07)
"The Sun God at Dawn, Rising from a Lotus Blossom," by Andrea Kail (Writers of the Future Volume 23, Algis Budrys, Ed., Galaxy Press, Sep07)
"Safeguard," by Nancy Kress (Asimov's, Jan07)
"Alastair Baffle's Emporium of Wonders," by Mike Resnick (Asimov's, Jan08)
"Tonino and the Incubus," by Peg Robinson (Helix: A Speculative Fiction Quarterly, WS & LWE, Ed., Oct06 (Fall06 issue -- #2))
"Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter," by Geoff Ryman (F&SF, Nov06)
"The Fiddler of Bayou Teche," by Delia Sherman (Coyote Road, Trickster Tales, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Ed., Viking Juvenile, Jul07)
"Not of this Fold," by William Shunn (An Alternate History of the 21st Century, Spilt Milk Press, Sep07)

Short Stories
"Unique Chicken Goes In Reverse," by Andy Duncan (Eclipse 1: New Science Fiction And Fantasy, Jonathan Strahan, Ed., Night Shade Books, Oct07)
"The Padre, the Rabbi, and the Devil His Own Self," by Melanie Fletcher (Helix: A Speculative Fiction Quarterly, WS & LWE, Ed., Oct06 (Fall06 issue -- #2))
"Always," by Karen Joy Fowler (Asimov's, May07 (apr/may07 issue))
"For Solo Cello, op. 12," by Mary Robinette Kowal (Cosmos, Mar07 (Feb/Mar07))
"Titanium Mike Saves the Day," by David D. Levine (F&SF, Apr07)
"The Story of Love," by Vera Nazarian (Salt of the Air, Prime Books, Sep06)
"Captive Girl," by Jennifer Pelland (Helix: A Speculative Fiction Quarterly, WS & LWE, Ed., Oct06 (Fall06 issue -- #2))

Children of Men, by Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby (Universal Studios, Dec06)
Pan's Labyrinth, by Guillermo del Toro (Time/Warner, Jan07)
The Discarded, by Harlan Ellison and Josh Olson (Masters of Science Fiction, ABC-TV, Apr07)
Blink, by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, BBC/The Sci-Fi Channel, Sep07 (Aired on SciFi Channel 14 Sep07))
The Prestige, by Christopher Nolan and Jonathon Nolan (Newmarket Films, Oct06 (Oct 20, 2006 -- based on the novel by Christopher Priest))
V for Vendetta, by Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski (Warner Films, Mar06 (released 3/17/2006 -- Written by the Wachowski Brothers, based on the graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd and published by Vertigo/DC Comics))
World Enough and Time, by Marc Scott Zicree and Michael Reaves (Star Trek: New Voyages,, Aug07 (Aired 8/23/07))

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Disney World

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to blog more often.

Yeah, broke that already. (Sorry!) But I have a very good excuse. I have been without Internet access for a week because...

Me at the Happiest Place on Earth

I've been in Disney World!!!

I love Disney World. I really, really love it. I think it's my fav
orite place in the entire world. I know not everyone agrees. I do recognize that Disney chose the most passive version of Cinderella that exists, that Minnie Mouse is an appallingly non-feminist role model (for pity's sake, get yourself a hobby that doesn't involve Mickey!), and that Snow White's voice could curdle milk. I know that sneering at Disney is fashionable and that loving Disney probably renders me ineligible to join the cultural intelligensia. But I absolutely love every inch of the place.

Why do I love Disney? Three words: princesses on leashes.

Princesses on leashes!!!

Seriously, tell me that's not awesome. It's awesome. Also awesome: the new Bibbity Bobbity Boutique. Little girls can be transformed into princesses, complete with a dress, tiara, and lots and lots of spa
rkles all over their cute little scalps. There were princesses (on and off leashes) everywhere you looked. I felt underdressed. And jealous. I totally want a princess dress. And tiara. And wings. Oh, and a unicorn. Or possibly a manatee. Manatees, while perhaps less elegant than unicorns, are the teddy bears of the sea. I want one.

I love the little (and not-so-little) details at Disney W
orld. I love that the trash cans are designed to match whatever area of the park they're in. I love that the giant Big Wheels sculpture outside our hotel had a recommended child weight limit of 877 lbs.

Big Wheels recommended child weight limit: 877 lbs

I love how every time you turn around you're encouraged to dream, to imagine, to make wishes. In the acknowledgements for Into the Wild, I say that this book is my wish in the wishing well. Disney reminds me of my wishes.

I make a lot of wishes.

I made some wishes for my next book, Out of the Wild
, while I was there. I even chatted with some of its characters...

Me and Sleeping Beauty

Me and the Prince

And shopped in its namesake gift shop...

Out of the Wild!!!

But the best part of the whole trip was spending every second with my family. Here's a photo of my family on Dumbo:

My family on Dumbo... wait, that didn't work...

My family on... okay, one more time...

Oh, never mind.

Hope you all are having a magical start to 2008 and that all your wishes come true!


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year and Cybils

To my friends, family, readers, and book ninjas extraordinaire,

Wishing you a year filled with many Snoopy Dances of Joy!

Happy 2008!

I did my first official Snoopy Dance of Joy of 2008 on New Year's morning. My husband and I woke up early to check the Cybils website. (Cybils = Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards. Not to be confused with sybils, who are oracular seeresses from Ancient Greece.) We'd heard that the nominating committees were posting several lists of finalists on the morning of January 1st, including the list for my category, Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction.

My husband admitted later that he'd actually woken up earlier and had been lying in bed thinking, "I want to check. I don't want to check. I want to check. I don't want to check." (He is, in my humble opinion, the Cutest Husband Ever.) After an hour of this, Cute Husband woke me up and brought the laptop into bed. We scrolled through the site together. The YA Fantasy/SF finalists were listed first, and then the Middle Grade Fantasy/SF list...

THE CHAOS KING by Laura Ruby
INTO THE WILD by Sarah Beth Durst


Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! I'm a Cybils finalist!!! And wow, to be listed in such amazing company... I adore all these authors. It's just more than my little brain can handle... I'm thinking about tattooing this logo on my forehead:

On second thought, I think I'll pass on the tattoo. I'm not good around needles. Seriously, I once fainted when my cat got a shot. Worst part was that I knocked the cat off the counter in the process. The cat was fine, but the anecdote became the stuff of family legend, alongside many other embarrassing Sarah-moments. But I digress... This news totally, totally, totally made my day. Heck, it made my year so far! To the Cybils F/SF nominating committee, thank you so so so much.

And to everyone, hope you all had a fantastic New Year's and have a happy, healthy, and magical 2008!

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