Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Frog King

Morality Tale Type: What Not To Do

The first thing you need to know about this story is that this is not the title. Nope. The title is Iron Henry. Now, you may be asking, “Who is Henry?” And you may be thinking, oh, of course, the frog prince must be named Henry.

Nope. Dude doesn’t even show up until the last couple paragraphs. So hang tight; we’ll get there.

Actually, we’ll there pretty fast, because what is there to say that you don’t know already? Princess drops a ball in the water, frog goes to get it—wait. I’ve got this. There is stuff to say.

A ball? Either this girl is involved in the sort of extracurriculars most princesses avoid, or she’s pretty young. So, option 1: we’ve got a chick who plays softball or football or something , doesn’t know how to swim, and is generally creeped out by things that do. Or, option two: little girl drops her favorite toy in the well.

Given that her activity was described, specifically, as tossing the ball up and catching it, I’m putting my money on option two. Plus, I feel like a little girl would be less freaked out than a lady if a frog started talking.

On the other hand, I also feel like a little girl would be less grossed out by the frog than the lady would. Whatever. All I’m saying is, if the chick’s favorite activity is playing catch with herself, she takes a talking amphibian in stride, and she cries over a lost toy, maybe we shouldn’t expect her to be totally on top of the wise decisions.

This is, by the way, not about me rearranging the story so yet another charming prince is a pedophile, okay? We’ve got plenty of that out in the open—I’m not about to go looking for it. This is about attempting to explain the princess’s indisputably horrible behavior. Either way, we can’t win this one. Either she’s a little kid, or she’s a vicious murderer, so pick your poison, I guess.

Back to the story. Girl promises to hang with frog dude if he gets the ball, she runs off as soon as she has it back, and he shows up at the palace and tattles on her. The king, also unfazed by the talking frog, tells her she’d better keep her promises, with the scolding further cementing my child theory. Girl deals with frog until bedtime, and here’s where things get interesting again. (Oh my goodness, I was so wrong about having nothing to say.)

She’s afraid of the frog sleeping in her bed. Five years ago, I would have thought yeah, duh, he’s all wet and boggy and stuff, and what if she rolls over in her sleep and crushes him? Guys, I have done way too much research in college to be that innocent. Does the frog actually intend to just sleep in the bed? I don’t know for sure, but I’m betting he doesn’t.

His intentions here are really important, because the next thing that happens is that she picks him up and flings him at the wall. And he’s a frog, so, you know, splat.

If this was her defense against a particularly cringe-worthy come-on, I’m gonna go ahead and say she’s in the clear here. However, if the blatantly attempted homicide was just ‘cuz he was getting on her nerves, dude, what the heck? You’re the princess. The princess doesn’t kill people.

And in a move that rivals Sleeping Beauty level wtf, the impact jolts him right out of enchantment, or something, and suddenly instead of frog goop, we’ve got a hot prince proposing to our murder girl. I mean, if that’s really what you want in a relationship, man. Your funeral. Maybe literally.

(Sidenote: What were the terms of his spell? You can only be a prince again when you’ve pissed someone off so much she wants you dead? There is no kiss here, people. There is only murder. Someone remind me to come back to this when I do the Lindworm series—I’m just noticing some interesting parallels, although I don’t know what to make of them yet.)

Of course the girl agrees to marry the guy she just attacked in a fit of homicidal rage, because that’s how fairy tales work. And now we finally, finally get around to Iron Henry.

Dude’s a servant of the prince, and he’s been pretty bummed about the whole frog thing. Not even because of his paycheck. He had to get three iron bands put in around his heart, to keep it from breaking over the whole mess.

But now his prince is back and he’s getting married, and Henry’s so happy those bands just snap right off. So Iron Henry really loves his king, is what I’m getting here. I mean, we’re talking literal heart-breakage. He had to get preventative surgery.


If this was a popular story, in the here and now, you know they’d ship it hard. I can already see the fanart. And let me tell you, Iron Man frenching a frog? Not the prettiest picture.


Girls, don’t make promises you can’t keep, and remember, murder is not the answer. Guys, don’t marry someone who tried to kill you, and stay out of other people’s beds. And if anyone’s in the market for heart surgery, hit up Henry for some tips.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Greetings from the Attic

I don't have much in the way of blog content this week, and I probably won't for a while; I've just moved, and I don't have internet at the new place yet, and it's not really a priority. Also, I start my first full time job tomorrow, so. Social media is getting neglected.

But last Sunday I moved into the attic apartment of a huge old house, and my life this week has been solitude and gardens and excellent views, and I am very happy. I feel like a fairy tale character. A princess in a tower. Like Cinderella or Rapunzel, only without the kidnapping and slave labor and stuff.

I've been slowly revising a novel, and it's been hard to focus on anything else, writing-wise, but if you have a fairy tale you want me to yell about or whatever, comment or something. In theory I'm going to work my way through the most interesting parts of Il Pentamerone, but I might not get to it for awhile.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cat Cinderella

Have I told you guys about Cat Cinderella? I don’t think I’ve told you guys about Cat Cinderella. This’ll be a short one.

Okay, so first of all, the title. I don’t know, guys. I have no idea. Cinderella isn't a cat. Cinderella doesn’t even have a cat. There are no cats in this story.

Now, this is from Il Pentamerone, so you know right away it’s gonna be something. This book also gave us The Golden Root, Rape Sleeping Beauty, and Necrophilia Snow White. Those Italians, man. I need to look into what was happening in Italy around this time, because something must be up. Seriously. They’re not okay.

Whatever. Story time. So, girl’s mom dies, dad remarries, girl hates stepmom. Standard, right? Here’s where things get interesting: Cindy’s got a governess. Cindy thinks the governess would be a way better stepmom than the one she’s got right now. So what does Cindy do?

Cindy snaps her stepmom’s neck.

She pulls that classic Juniper Tree move—you know, where you ask the person to get something from a chest, then slam the lid down on their neck? Not a fun way to go.

So Murderella introduces dad to governess, and they get married. And, well. Let’s just say she regrets the whole thing. The governess was all like, I can be your new mommy, Cindy. We just gotta get rid of this loser. But it turns out she’s a lot more interested in being dad’s wife than in being Cindy’s mom. 

And this is where we launch into our own familiar Cinderella story. Wicked stepfamily, magic tree, three balls, dropped shoes, happily ever after, etc., etc. Whatever. I don't even care who lives happily ever after. You got what was coming to you, Cat Cinderella. Murder is not the answer, Cat Cinderella. Murder is never the answer.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

April Sales!

Hey, guys! So we're going to be having a special promotion through the month of April: if you buy any of my books in April 2017, you'll also get a free copy of thin. Digital or physical, your choice.

This applies to hard copies, Nook books, Kindle editions. If you buy a copy of thin, you'll get a second copy free.

Shipping is also free.

So if you buy anything during April, send a copy of your receipt to, along with whether you'd like digital or physical, and a shipping address if applicable.

Books you can purchase:

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble (1)
Barnes and Noble (2)

Barnes and Noble

And He Became a Handsome Prince
Barnes and Noble

Happy April!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

No, He's Not My Boyfriend

The first time I was assigned a romantic partner based on hair color, I was five. His name was Cody, and we were both blonde. Obviously, it was meant to be. I retaliated by declaring my intention to marry another boy, one with brown hair, and spent the next several years fiercely defending a crush based more on spite than attraction.

The second time I was assigned a romantic partner based on hair color, I was fifteen. His name was Devin, a church friend, and it wasn’t the first time I’d had to convince someone that was all he was. It took me a week to reassure a friend with a crush that she wasn’t getting between anything, and I nearly hated him, I think, by the time she believed I wasn’t in love.

The hair color incident, though, took place several months later, after his romance with my friend had flourished, then immediately crashed and burned, the way long distance relationships between high schoolers, based on a single meeting, tend to do. It was New Year’s Eve, and our church was holding an all-night event with two others. Devin and I were on nursery duty, with a dozen small children, loud and far too energetic at midnight, none of whom we’d met before.

The culprit was a little boy, four or five, very cute.

Not cute enough to pull a stunt like that.

Of course, when he realized that I was fifteen, and Devin still only fourteen, he came to his senses and saw that it would never work—apparently you have to be compatible in age as well as hair color. A narrow escape, but Devin, I nearly kissed you then and there—spite, again. I don’t like being told who I’m allowed to be with, even by preschoolers.

I don’t like to be told what to do in general (a source of great conflict between me and precocious young cousins), but about my love life, happily nonexistent, I get particularly testy.

I recently went with a male friend to Scandinavia, and I cannot count the number of times the following conversation occurred.

“So you’re here with your girlfriend?”


“Oh. Your sister, then.”


At this point the questioner stares at us with an expression of blank confusion, and I take a casual step behind Jamie. When men begin this interrogation, I always get the impression there’s one more question they’re dancing around: “Hey, dude, are we gonna have a problem if I bang this chick against a train station wall and have my way with her?”

It’s not that I’m scared of these men—I have a one inch blade in my pocket, and can use it to kill someone in three different ways. Not that I’ve ever tried. But they’re a nuisance, with all of their assumptions. I am travelling with Jamie, therefore I must in some way belong to him. It is not a problem I expected to encounter outside a work of historical fiction.

So, a note to all those who have ever suggested I am or ought to be dating my friends, whether you are other friends, small children, or creepy Norwegian men: No, he is not my boyfriend. I don’t care how old he is, and I do not care about the color of his hair. No, he is not my brother, or my boyfriend, and no, you cannot be my boyfriend instead.   

No, I do not have a boyfriend. No, I do not want one.

Maybe if I dyed my hair purple, there would be no one left to set me up with.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Adventures in Accidental Tourism

(I wrote this ages ago and I'm too lazy to adjust it to reflect that. Sorry.)

My favorite thing to do in London is get lost in it. I have been here for three days, and have managed to get lost on every one of them.

London is a big place, full of many big things, most of which I have not seen. Big Ben and the London Eye were noticed in passing. Buckingham Palace remains a mystery. Rumors about the historical nature of that large building down the street persist, but as I have passed it only alone in the dark, I cannot quite bring myself to care. It is a landmark that points toward home; that is enough for me.

I recently walked past a man dressed as a woman, complete with wigs in multiple locations. I entered four bookshops on my first day, and came across some excellent gelato. Having spent long hours squinting at street signs and praying to survive the crossing, I have come to the conclusion that both maps and traffic laws here are based more on hope than fact. I have passed six Southampton Rows now. One of them, I’m told, leads to my hotel.

Completely by accident, I have found the home of Charles Dickens. Also by accident, I have found myself at Parliament, the Tate Modern Art Museum, and five more bookstores. It is true that I have been provided with a map, but even if I was good with maps, I doubt I would use it. The lives of those who are not chronically lost must be very boring indeed.

There is a street called the Strand. It is also called about six other things, but the Strand was the most interesting and memorable of them. I’ve walked up and down it several times—straight lines are important for the easily lost, although I’ve still managed, somehow, to get turned around a few times.

The three months I’ve spent in Europe have been strange, stressful, and utterly overwhelming. There are a lot of things, I’m sure, that I could have learned in London. I could have paid some attention to Parliament. I could have actually entered the Tate. At the very least, I could have taken a photo of the plaque informing me that I was at Dickens’ house. But I didn’t. And in the four days I have left in London, I probably won’t.

I’ve learned a lot about the places I’ve seen—who lived there, who died there, what they wrote, who they worshipped, how they worshipped, who they loved. I have cried for dead men I never knew, I have walked on the graves of my ancestors, and I am tired. For three months I have known where I’m going. Today I don’t.

The sky is overcast, the light breaking through it soft and dull. The streets are dirty. People ignore me, which is a blessing. They don’t explain the history of the architecture I pass, they don’t rake their eyes slowly up and down my body, and they don’t whistle. I make up my own histories for each interesting building as I walk by, and I don’t ask for directions.

In a bookstore on a dirty, quiet corner, a woman from Topeka tells me about the weekend she just spent in the Lake District, and the week she spent in Minneapolis ten years ago. In another, three or six or twelve blocks down, depending on how many wrong turns it takes to get there, the cashier and I fangirl gleefully over the new book I’m buying, recently written by an amazing and underappreciated author.

There are a lot of ways to be lost, and I’ve experienced most of them. This endless tour of Europe has been constant structured chaos, and in the midst of it I’ve lost a lot of things, like peace, faith in humanity, and my sense of self. Sometimes when you get lost enough physically, you end up finding yourself emotionally, or spiritually, or however you lost yourself. That’s what I’m trying to do.

So I didn’t learn a lot in London. But I’ve had an even more valuable experience. Here is a city full of normal people living normal lives, surrounded by history but not yet a part of it. I don’t like to go looking for things; I only feel like a failure when they constantly elude me. Beauty is better when you stumble upon it by accident.

I’m sure there are a lot of great things for a tourist to do in London, but I can’t give you much information about any of them. For three months I’ve watched the lives of people who died a long, long time ago. This week I chose to close all the books, turn in all the audio guides, and sit on the outskirts of lives still being lived. I took a few wrong turns, I missed a few great sites, and I found some peace.

Not all who wander are lost. But I am, and that’s the way I like it.