Now Solo! Tales of Old Giralliya

Tales of Old Giralliya is a small collection of fairy tales from my North-lands.

I released it first in the book bundle Might Have Been, with a promise that I’d make the collection available solo in a few months.

I’m delighted to announce that I’m now able to redeem that promise.

Tales of Old Giralliya is here as its own ebook and as a paperback. Its cover art is by John William Waterhouse, an artist strongly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites. (I love the works of the Pre-Raphaelites!) 😀

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A troll-mage rains death upon the land from his citadel in the sky. Who—if anyone—can defeat him? Despite the oracle’s prophecy, few believe the beggar’s son might be the people’s champion.

A magical plague infests the villages, the cities, and the lonely manors. Will the realm descend into ruin before a cure is found? Or could wizened, old Eliya convince the stricken that something improbable might save them all?

Three ducal brothers fight for the rule of their duchy, crushing fields and hamlets under their chariot wheels. Can young Andraia, kidnapped from her village, bring the destructive struggle to an end?

Instead of Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, or the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the Giralliyan Empire has Ravessa’s Ride, the Thricely Odd Troll, the Kite Climber, and more. Tales of Old Giralliya presents six of these fresh, new fairy tales for your enjoyment.

Adventure and magic in the tradition of The Red Fairy Book and the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

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New Bundle! Might Have Been

I love fairy tales! I’ve always loved them, and I hope I always will.

The Red Fairy Book, Tales of the Brothers Grimm, and East of the Sun and West of the Moon were well-read favorites in my childhood, and I didn’t stop re-reading them when I reached adulthood.

My only complaint was that there weren’t enough new-to-me fairy tales. Sure, I could (and will) re-read the old classics indefinitely. I’m a big re-reader. But wouldn’t it be great to find fresh stories, or even the same stories told with a fresh twist.

I can almost believe that A. L. Butcher curated the Might Have Been bundle for me especially.

The Russian fairy tales are entirely new to me, and the twists on old favorites are twists like I’ve never seen before. This is a bundle I’ll devour.

Among the 17 titles in Might Have Been, several provoked particular interest in me. I draw them to your attention…

*     *     *

Beauty has a Fate.

A Destiny.

To keep dating losers and ‘beasts’ until she manages to find that prince hidden underneath that bad boy exterior.

But what if she doesn’t want to? What if she wants to take control of her own destiny?
 
 
 

*

“Kristine Grayson gives ‘happily ever after’ her own unique twist!”—Kasey Michaels

In this romantic trilogy, fairy tales and myths inhabit a slightly askew world of charming princes, sleeping beauties, and wicked witches.

Welcome to the fractious fairy tale world of Kristine Grayson, where the bumpy road to happily ever after surprises and delights.

The Charming Trilogy omnibus contains three complete novels.

Utterly Charming

When Prince Charming enters Nora Barr’s office to hire her to protect Sleeping Beauty, only the size of his check keeps her from throwing him out. Nora doubts happily-ever-after exists, but until last week she never saw magic before either. Let alone a real Prince Charming.

Thoroughly Kissed

Emma, the real Sleeping Beauty, awakens after a thousand years and swears to never kiss anyone again. Ever. She keeps that vow until she meets temptingly gorgeous Michael who—somehow—becomes the only person who can get her across country with her weird cat Darnell. Before her magic takes over their lives, and maybe destroys the entire world.

Completely Smitten

For centuries, Darius shadowed Prince Charmings because he knew they needed happily ever afters. And he does too. After he fought Cupid, the Fates forced Darius to unite 100 soulmates. Two away from the end of his sentence, he falls for triathlete Ariel, seemingly destined for another soul mate only he can find. If he wants freedom, he must find her soul mate. No matter how badly it breaks his heart.

*

A modern twist on the classic fairy tale of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf.

Lettie and her brothers inherited a great deal of money from their grandpa. While her brothers took the money and set off to enjoy life, Lettie took her share and bought a bar.

Unfortunately for Lettie and her brothers, Grandpa had a lot of other grandkids, and he pissed off all of them by leaving them out of his will.

And some of those other grandkids are werewolves.

*

Illustrated children’s stories that come from the heart of ‘Holy Russia’— a realm stretching from the Ukrainian Steppes of Kiev to Novgorod in the west to the borders of the Caspian Sea in the east.

Ilya and Cloudfall
Ilya Meets Svyatogor and Parts with Him
Ilya and Nightingale the Robber
Ilya and Falcon the Hunter
The Adventure of the Burning White Stone
The Story of Nikitich and Marina
The Story of Kasyan and the Dream Maiden
How Stavr the Noble Was Saved by a Woman’s Wiles
The Golden Horde
How Quiet Dunai Brought the Princess Apraxia to Kiev
How the Court of Vladimir Received a Visitor from India the Glorious
Whirlwind The Whistler, or the Kingdoms of Copper, Silver, and Gold
Vasily the Turbulent
Nikita the Footless and the Terrible Tsar
Peerless Beauty the Cake-Baker

In addition to charming line drawings, the ebook is enhanced by 16 amazing color-plates from Frank C. Papé.

Curl up with this unique sliver of Russian culture—not seen in print for over a century—and immerse yourself in the tales and fables of yesteryear.

*

Might Have Been also includes my own story collection, Tales of Old Giralliya.

A troll-mage rains death upon the land from his citadel in the sky. Who—if anyone—can defeat him? Despite the oracle’s prophecy, few believe the beggar’s son might be the people’s champion.

A magical plague infests the villages, the cities, and the lonely manors. Will the realm descend into ruin before a cure is found? Or could wizened, old Eliya convince the stricken that something improbable might save them all?

Three ducal brothers fight for the rule of their duchy, crushing fields and hamlets under their chariot wheels. Can young Andraia, kidnapped from her village, bring the destructive struggle to an end?

Instead of Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, or the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the Giralliyan Empire has Ravessa’s Ride, the Thricely Odd Troll, the Kite Climber, and more. Tales of Old Giralliya presents six of these fresh, new fairy tales for your enjoyment.

Adventure and magic in the tradition of The Red Fairy Book and the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

*

From retellings of classic fairy tales to legends and lore shared around the hearth, this collection presents stories of wonder and fantasy—some straight up and others with a twist.

Children’s tales from Serbia and Russia feature water spirits and household sprites, knight princes and giants, whirlwinds and the Golden Horde.

An unusual visit to Wonderland follows Alice as she encounters the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and Humpty Dumpty under horror’s shadow. The secrets of a most infamous castle, Burg Frankenstein, deliver up ghosts.

While a trio of sexy gender-swap tales yield Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast with spice.

Romeo and Juliet—and vampires, the Three Little Pigs as you’ve never seen them, Cinderella embracing witchcraft…these are the Might Have Been, folklore, granny tales, and fairy tales turned upside down or glimpsed darkly in the mirror.
 
*Not all stories suitable for kids.

The Might Have Been bundle includes:

“Fairy Tale Fates” by Leah Cutter
The Charming Trilogy by Kristine Grayson
“The Legends of Castle Frankenstein” by DeAnna Knippling
Snow Truer Love by AJ Tipton
“Brick Houses” by Annie Reed
“The Return of Alice” by Robert Jeschonek
Into the Forest Shadows by J.A. Marlow
Handsome and the Beast by AJ Tipton
The Russian Story Book by Richard Wilson
Tales of Old Giralliya by J.M. Ney-Grimm
“R+J Sucks” (Vol 1.) by Ann Hunter
Hunting Red by AJ Tipton
Lost: Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries by Ron Vitale
Return to Wonderland by Tanya Lisle
Fairy Tales Revisited on Silvery Earth by Barbara G. Tarn
“Redd’s Hoodie” by Karen C. Klein
Hero Tales and Legends of the Serbians by Woislav M. Petrovitch

P
A Head’s Up: Most of the titles in the bundle are ‘sweet,’ not ‘spicy.’ But the few spicy ‘not for kids’ stories include explicit scenes. If fictional spice is not for you, be prepared. (Myself? I did some skipping.)

Of the non-spicy stories I’ve read so far…“Fairy Tale Fates” possesses a twist after my own heart; Completely Smitten from The Charming Trilogy has given me a new favorite character: Darius; and “Brick Houses” was just pure fun.

The Might Have Been bundle is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

*     *     *

For more bundles with my stories in them, see:
Here Be Magic
Eclectica
Here Be Unicorns
Here Be Merfolk
Here Be Fairies
Here Be Dragons
Immortals

 

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Am I Daring?

One lone idea sparked my short story, “To Haunt the Daring Place.” I wanted to tell about the founding of a monastery that will feature in the ninth book of my Gael & Keir series.

That was all I had.

There was a monastery. It had an unusual founding. Gael and Keir would visit the place a hundred years (or two) later.

My logical self informed me that this was a slim spot to start from.

My storyteller self felt serenely sanguine. There was a story already present, hiding in my subconscious and ready to be revealed. All I needed to do was trust in its existence and tell it.

I mused upon my protagonist. He was a scholar and a mage, possessed of great world-wonder. He felt curious about everything, but he’d taken a break from the scholarship he loved to rebuild his fortunes, which were decimated by the troll wars. Now he was reclaiming his curiosity.

His name was Coehlin, and he was an especial fan of ancient North-lands philosophers such as Kleomedes the Younger and Aglaia of Seleucis.

I envisioned the story appearing in my collection, Tales of Old Giralliya.

The time period seemed to fit, and I envisioned a sort of fairy tale style for its telling.

But after I wrote the first scene, it was clear that I wasn’t using a fairy tale style at all. It wasn’t right for the story I wanted to tell. Nor would the length be comparable to that of the other stories in Tales of Old Giralliya. They fell in a range between 700 and 4,500 words. “To Haunt the Daring Place” would be at least 6,000 words, maybe more.

My next plan was to submit the story to SFF magazines.

web imageI’d received a nice comment from a magazine editor when I submitted “Crossing the Naiad” to him. Recently I learned what a personal comment like that meant, aside from, ‘It’s good!’ It meant that he’d read the story all the way to its end. And editors don’t do that unless either: 1) they think they might buy the story for their magazine, or 2) they are enjoying the story so much that even though it is not right for their magazine, they can’t bear to stop.

That put my editor’s comment in a new perspective. Getting a story accepted seemed like it might truly be possible!

But as I wrote “To Haunt,” I began to worry that it would be too long for any magazine. Wasn’t 6,000 words the top limit for many? And it was becoming ever more certain that “To Haunt” was going to cross that 6K limit.

In fact, the first draft of “To Haunt” came in at 13,714 words. Yikes!

If 6,000 were the top edge, then my story was more than twice as long. Cutting it down a little to fit wouldn’t be feasible. But I could (and should) check that limit. Maybe my memory was wrong. Maybe, even if I remembered right, there might be a few magazines that would take a novelette. Or, if there weren’t any magazines that would, maybe there would be an anthology call permitting longer lengths.

What I really wanted was to get my story into a magazine with a circulation of thousands or an anthology with an editor possessing an established audience of thousands. The readers who read my work seem to love it. But their numbers are, as yet, few. I want readers who have never heard of me to have a chance at reading my stories.

So…is there a potential venue for “To Haunt the Daring Place”?

Yes!

I checked the word limits for the top magazines, and many of them accept submissions up to 20K. A few specify 15K, and one 10K.

Obviously the 10K rag won’t work for “To Haunt,” but I have lots of options. Yay! I’m pretty thrilled about it.

So…did the monastery get founded?

W-e-l-l…not exactly.

The magical architectural element that leads to the founding of the monastery is indeed created in the events recounted in “To Haunt the Daring Place.” But the monastery itself? No. It’s never even mentioned.

But it will be a fun Easter egg for readers of both “To Haunt the Daring Place” and Book Nine of the Gael & Keir Adventures. I assure you that the architectural element is not something that can be missed!

Wish me luck in getting the story accepted. 😀

For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Caught Between Two Armies
Tales in a New Bundle

 

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Upcoming Release! Tales in a New Bundle

Tales of Old Giralliya is an experiment for me.

I conceived of the stories as the fairy tales that mothers and fathers of my North-lands tell their young children at bedtime, and I recounted the stories in the spare style typical of fairy tales.

Characters are sketched in with just a few details, leaning heavily on archetypes. We have the young, inexperienced king, who tries something that an older man would not. Or the young girl, kidnapped from home, held captive by her enemies, and faced with a chance to save her village, but lacking any obvious means to do so.

Each story is comprised of just one scene, or two, embedded within a scant narrative frame that is the equivalent of ‘once upon a time.’

I loved telling the stories, writing in hope that some of my readers would enjoy reading them.

But would they? Would they really?

And who might like to be my first reader, the one to give me necessary feedback—feedback that would allow me to revise the stories to be their best?

I needed someone who not only had loved fairy tales as a child, but who still loved them. Someone who might pull out her battered copy of East of the Sun and West of the Moon and read it for pleasure (not mere nostalgia) now.

Really, my choice of a first reader was simple. I asked the curator of the bundle for which Tales of Old Giralliya was created.

She graciously consented to help me, and I sent her the file.

Then I waited. Nervously.

I thought she would like the stories, but . . . would she really?

Well, good news: she did! 😀

And she provided me with excellent feedback.

My collection has now been revised, edited, and proofread, and will release sometime this month in the bundle entitled Might Have Been.

Here’s a little bit about Tales of Old Giralliya.

*     *     *

A troll-mage rains death upon the land from his citadel in the sky. Who—if anyone—can defeat him? Despite the oracle’s prophecy, few believe the beggar’s son might be the people’s champion.

A magical plague infests the villages, the cities, and the lonely manors. Will the realm descend into ruin before a cure is found? Or could wizened, old Eliya convince the stricken that something improbable might save them all?

Three ducal brothers fight for the rule of their duchy, crushing fields and hamlets under their chariot wheels. Can young Andraia, kidnapped from her village, bring the destructive struggle to an end?

Instead of Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, or the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the Giralliyan Empire has Ravessa’s Ride, the Thricely Odd Troll, the Kite Climber, and more. Tales of Old Giralliya presents six of these fresh, new fairy tales for your enjoyment.

Adventure and magic in the tradition of The Red Fairy Book and the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

*     *     *

For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Caught Between Two Armies

 

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Caught Between Two Armies

Before I embarked on writing “The Kite Climber,” I possessed only the haziest of ideas for the story I wanted to tell.

It involved kites and civil war.

That was all I had.

I knew very little about man-lifting kites. I knew they existed historically. I knew they’d been used in times of war for signaling and observation. I had this vision in my head of a gigantic diamond-shaped kite with a man lashed to its cross bracing. That’s actually not what man-lifting kites look like, but I didn’t know that then.

Nor did I go seeking such information.

I felt like I needed the emotional heart of my story more than I needed technical details.

I trawled through my memories of my backlist books in hope of finding inspiration, and find it I did in a passage from Troll-magic.

Lorelin . . . embarked on the story of Emoirie’s great grandmere, the remarkable lady who’d saved her village when it was caught between opposing battalions in the Wars of the Tree Wands; and then for an encore went on to boss around the most influential Giralliyan Paucitor of her times. All before the age of twenty years, when she returned by choice to her humble origins and lived happily to become matriarch over innumerable grandchildren.

I loved the possibility of telling the story of Emoirie’s great grandmother.

There was only one problem with that, but it was a serious one. Emoirie lives in the Steam Age of my North-lands. Her great grandmother would have lived in the Age of Sail.

The story I wanted to tell took place long before then, at the end of classical antiquity when much of Giralliya was war-torn and falling into the barbarism of the Dark Ages.

I teetered on the edge of dismissing my feeling of inspiration, and then decided I’d be bold and uphold my inner artist. Surely Emoirie’s great grandmother wasn’t the only woman who’d been faced with saving her home when it stood between opposing armies.

I would tell the story of a girl confronted with exactly that circumstance, but living in the violent period of history that I wished to chronicle.

I was so excited by my decision, that I dove right in!

No research, no hesitation, just a quick sweep for names (people and places), and then I began.

I’d imagined starting with the girl who’d been stolen to climb the kite tethers, carrying reports from the man aloft in the kite to the forces on the ground. Instead, I delved into the source of the armed conflict. Only after I’d recounted the story of the three hostile ducal brothers did I turn to Andraia, my heroine.

But it was going well, and I was loving it.

I never did check into the man-lifting kites—not until after I finished the story.

The fighting brothers were all mages—powerful troll-mages. They were more than capable of using magery to give their colossal diamond-shaped kites a boost, if the technical aspects really required more lift than a diamond-shaped kite could provide.

“The Kite Climber” is one story of six in Tales of Old Giralliya.

For more about the collection, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Tales in a New Bundle

 

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Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes

“The Hermit and the Smith” is the first of two new stories I’m writing for Tales of Old Giralliya.

I was inspired by a passage from the appendices of Hunting Wild.

The Holy Hermit Cathal was born into the social unrest and turbulence of this time. As a young man he pursued the course of an ascetic, withdrawing from human contact to pursue a life of simplicity and meditation. Later in life, one of the destined human sacrifices escaped to Cathal’s lonely hut in the hills and changed Cathal’s outlook.

Cathal realized that withdrawing from tumult was cowardly, and he emerged to challenge the disgusting practice of human sacrifice, speaking nearly every day to crowds in the realms of Istria, Eirdry, and Ennecy.

I wanted to write about Cathal. Not his full story, but that moment when he was confronted by the fugitive running for his life.

If I could just capture that scene, it would satisfy some longing in my writer’s heart.

But a story is more than just a vignette or cameo. The scene I was longing to paint with words needed more than one man fleeing and another offering him refuge.

So I put on my thinking cap.

Who was the fugitive? What was important to him? How did he come to be destined for blood sacrifice?

As I pondered these and other questions, I found myself wondering if I could connect my holy hermit with some of the events forming the backstory of The Tally Master.

That proved to be the concept that would ignite my creative fire.

I imagined the dry hills and the olive orchards around the city of Castarre. I discovered the name of the man—a metal smith—outracing the hounds. It all became very real in my mind’s eye.

And then I started writing!

For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Caught Between Two Armies
Tales in a New Bundle

 

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Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales

You may have noticed a new progress bar over there in the sidebar of my website. Yes, the one entitled Tales of Old Giralliya. That’s the one.

Where did it come from, and what’s it all about?

It all started back in 2012.

In 2012, I wrote several North-lands fairy tales for my blog.

I had a lot of fun with them, and at least one of my readers told me that she was really enjoying the flash fiction. (The fairy tales were short, under 1,000 words.)

I remember brainstorming a bunch of ideas for future fairy tale blog posts, and I developed a list of a dozen possibilities. I imagined myself checking the list at intervals, writing and posting the next story from it, and eventually writing all of them.

The fourth story on the list went long—to 1,500 words instead of the usual 700 or so.

I was okay with that. Really, anything up to 3,000 words seemed a manageable length for a blog post.

The fifth story was 8,000 words long.

That was a problem.

Oh, I had fun writing it. And I think my readers enjoyed reading it. But 8,000 words deserves to be published as more than a blog post. This one was, eventually. In the ramp-up to publication, it grew, because I discovered as I worked that the story needed a bit more development, which added scenes and word count.

When the draft was complete, it had reached 20,000 words. I named it Hunting Wild. 😀

So far, so good.

But what about fairy tale #6, Fairest Trickery?

I never wrote it, because it is a more complex tale than Hunting Wild, and since Hunting Wild required 20,000 words, Fairest Trickery would probably require at least 50,000 words. It would be a novel.

Obviously, I like writing novels! I love writing novels. But Fairest Trickery would have to get in line behind the ten other novels I wanted to write first!

Aegis and Mage and Mirage—the stories following after Fairest Trickery—are probably novellas, but this whole sequence—Blood Falchion, Hunting Wild, Fairest Trickery, Aegis, and Mage and Mirage—forms a series telling of the events occurring around a cursed blade as it passes down through history. And I would need to write the books in order. I still think I might one day; we’ll see.

But the Blood Blade series brought my fairy tale telling to an end, back in 2012.

Occasionally I toyed with reviving my list. I could skip past the Blood Blade series and tell some of the other, unrelated fairy tales.

I could, but somehow I never did. Until now!

What happened?

A. L. Butcher, bundle curator extraordinaire, invited me to contribute to a fairy tale themed bundle that she plans to release this November.

Oh, how I wanted to be part of it!

But I had a problem.

Troll-magic, a re-telling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, is already in the Here Be Magic bundle.

Crossing Naiad, a re-telling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, is in the Here Be Ghosts bundle.

The Troll’s Belt, a re-telling of Hansel and Gretel, is in the Here Be Fairies bundle.

Some of the earliest bundles to which I contributed are no longer in print. But these three are. I didn’t have any new fairy tales for the new bundle. That made me sad.

Then I remembered the fairy tales from my blog! They are not re-tellings of fairy tales from our own Earth’s cultures, no. They are brand new fairy tales emerging from the cultures of my North-lands. But they are fairy tales.

I could collect them together and contribute the collection to the bundle!

I emailed A. L. about the possibility, and she liked it. So I set to work.

The first part was simple. I copied-and-pasted from those old blog posts. Then I ran through the files with a light edit. And that should have been enough. Legend of the Beggar’s Son, Ravessa’s Ride, and The Thricely Odd Troll, when gathered together form a nice little trio.

But, but, but!

Re-reading the stories inspired me. Wouldn’t it be fun to tell a few more of the stories from my old list? I was sure I could make the November deadline. Oh, oh, oh! It was irresistible.

Last week I finished The Hermit and the Smith. This week I finished The Kite Climber.

I also re-visited my decision not to include Blood Falchion. Why had I decided that? I re-read it. Wouldn’t it be nice to give the story the visibility the bundle would confer on it? Yes, it would. So what if it’s the beginning of a series. The story is complete in itself. It stands alone. I would include it!

So Tales of Old Giralliya will have seven stories in it: four from my blog plus three new ones. I’ve loved working on the project, and I’m excited about the next story I’ll write for it.

I’ve done the brainstorming and taken a bunch of notes. I want to do a little outlining and a little thinking, and then I’ll dive in!

I plan to blog a bit more about the process of creating this collection. In the meantime, watch the progress bar to see the words piling up! 😀

For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Caught Between Two Armies
Tales in a New Bundle

Edited to Add: The seventh story, when I actually sat down to write it, proved to be too long for this collection and told in a different style. It’s not right for Tales of Old Giralliya, but you will get to read it. I plan to release it as a standalone novelette.

 

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