Fairytales don’t always happen once upon a time. Fables don’t always have a happy ending. Sometimes the stories we love are too dark for nightmares. What if waking Sleeping Beauty was the worse thing the Prince could have done? What if Rapunzel wasn’t in that tower for her own protection—but for everyone else’s?
Assembled by The Bearded Scribe Press, Twice Upon A Time combines classics and modern lore in peculiar and spectacular ways. From Rapunzel to Rumpelstiltskin, this unique collection showcases childhood favorites unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Both traditionally-published and independent authors will take you on a whirlwind ride through fairytale and folklore, myth and majick. Cherished stories are revisited and remastered into newly-treasured tales of hope and heartache, of adversity and adventure.
This collection features 43 short stories ranging in length from 2K-12K words from the following cast of talented writers:
Bo Balder, AJ Bauers, Carina Bissett, Rose Blackthorn, S.M. Blooding, Rick Chiantaretto, Richard Chizmar, Liz DeJesus, Court Ellyn, S.Q. Eries, Steven Anthony George, Dale W. Glaser, Jax Goss, K.R. Green, Kelly Hale, Tonia Marie Harris, Brian T. Hodges, Tarran Jones, Jason Kimble, Shari L. Klase, Alethea Kontis, Hannah Lesniak, Wayne Ligon, RS McCoy, Joshua Allen Mercier, Robert D. Moores, Diana Murdock, Nick Nafpliotis, Elizabeth J. Norton, Bobbie Palmer, William Petersen, Rebekah Phillips, Asa Powers, Joe Powers, Brian Rathbone, Julianne Snow, Tracy Arthur Soldan, C.L. Stegall, Brian W. Taylor, Kenechi Udogu, Onser von Fullon, Deborah Walker, Angela Wallace, and Cynthia Ward.
Excerpt from Fire & Ash by Joshua Allen Mercier, a dark fantasy retelling of Little Red Riding Hood:
THE cold, autumn gusts ripped across Salem’s port, stirring the angry waters, stirring the angry spectators gathered before the gallows—gallows which had not, until this day, been used since the Trials several years back. Men, women, children—all bore hateful eyes and twisted faces. All bore a deep-seeded fear of the woman before them; they watched and seethed, anger building like fire fed by the winds, waiting for answers, for closure, for justice—for the devil’s death.
Constance Archer stared at the sea of faces; she despised all of them, save two—two faces that weren’t supposed to be there. Her daughters, Rhiannon and Rowan, hid in the small grove of trees, but she could still see their watery, green eyes piercing through the shadows, their stares stabbing their fear and pain and confusion into her. They weren’t supposed to see her like this. With the gag still tightly secured about her mouth, however, her muffled pleas for them to leave went unheard.
Where was their grandmother?
Constance’s fiery locks were drenched with tears. Her heart ached. For them, for herself, for her husband, Jacob. She shouldn’t have let the rage overtake her; she knew that now, now that it was too late.
“For the crimes of witchcraft, how do you plea?”
Even though the thick rope around her neck made it difficult to escape it—to forget—the reverend’s voice jolted her back to reality.
“Not guilty,” Constance replied through the gag, unsure if her plea was understood.
“Executioner, please remove the gag from the accused.”
The reverend’s statement was cold. They had known each other since they were children, but he was but a stranger now as he stood before her. He was once so compassionate, so caring—what had changed?
The executioner approached Constance with apprehension; she soon understood why. Despite the black hood covering his face, his scent—sweet, woody, musky, like freshly-sawn wood mixed with perfume and sweat—immediately revealed his identity: William Black. He removed the gag with haste and stepped across the gallows with a speed she hadn’t witnessed him have in years.
How fitting that the town adulterer would be the one to hang her. She wondered who the woman had been, the one whose scent lingered on his clothing and skin. Surely it wasn’t his wife, Catherine.
It couldn’t be.
She had killed her, in a way, the memory of the act flooding back to her nearly causing her to faint. Seems Catherine and her husband didn’t understand the meaning of marriage; then again, neither did Jacob (apparently). Catching him with Catherine was the most heart-breaking of all.
Wyatt Thatcher cleared his throat. “Mrs. Archer—your plea, now that we can hear you.”
Constance stared at her old friend, pain and tears welling in her eyes. “Not guilty.”
“If not for witchcraft, how do account for the brutal way you murdered Catherine Black? Surely, you were possessed,” countered Reverend Thatcher.
“I didn’t murder Catherine Black. As I told you all before, she was attacked by a beast.” She wasn’t lying, but she wasn’t telling the whole truth. The truth wouldn’t save her, and she couldn’t have her daughters hearing it. They weren’t supposed to be here, but calling attention to them now would only make matters worse.
“You’re the beast!” a woman’s voice sounded from the throng.
“Witch!” said another, followed by her husband’s jibe, “You’re Satan’s whore!”
Reverend Thatcher held his hand to the crowd; without a word, they fell silent. It wasn’t their first execution; it probably wouldn’t be their last. His attention turned to the defendant, but his eyes remained downcast, staring at the rough wood of the gallows as if it were the most interesting sight he had ever beheld.
Constance knew why Wyatt Thatcher wouldn’t look at her, knew he couldn’t show a hint of weakness or compassion for her lest he be hanged, too, for sympathizing with the Devil. Satan was in Salem Village that day—no doubt about that. But it wasn’t Constance or Reverend Thatcher. The Devil stood in the crowd, reflected in the eyes of every spectator. His hunger bellowed in their calls, their taunts, their glares, and it wouldn’t be satisfied until her limp, lifeless body waved in the autumn winds like a banner for their tainted justice, a flag of their blood-stained victory over evil.
Wyatt’s hardness broke, even if for just a second, Constance the only witness to the silent tear soaking its fleshy path across his regretful face. “And please explain to us why you were covered in her blood.”
“I’ve told you all this before, Wyatt…” Using the reverend’s first name stirred a wave of gasps from the crowd, forcing her to pause. “I carried Catherine into my house to try to stop her bleeding, to prevent her death.”
That was a lie; it was what she wanted everyone to believe, but it had been all for naught. It had only sealed her fate.
“And what of your husband’s disappearance?” An icy gust of wind blew through Constance’s locks of red hair; with it, Thatcher’s own coldness returned. “Did you use witchcraft to dispose of his body?”
“My husband was attacked, too, his body dragged into the orchard by the beast.”
That was a lie, too. She couldn’t tell them the truth—that she had, in a fit of rage after seeing Jacob and Catherine naked in the orchard, cursed her husband’s appetite for flesh. The curse had gone horribly wrong…
“Brilliant change-up on the new flood of “Fairy Tale Twists”. If you’re looking for something that can suck you in right away, this book is definitely it. The collection of short stories makes sure you never get bored with the story or writing style.” ~Jett Murdock / Amazon review
About the Publisher:
The Bearded Scribe Press, LLC is an independent publisher of quality Speculative Fiction. They aim to become a platform for emerging writers to get discovered by the mainstream and inversely, through becoming a staple in the literary community, becoming the source for readers to discover emerging talent in the Speculative Fiction realm.
Watch the [Extended] Book Trailer:
I am so thrilled to be a part of this spectacular fairytale retelling anthology. Twice Upon A Time was put together by editor and blogger Joshua Allen Mercier as a launch for his new publishing house, The Bearded Scribe. Having previously been featured on Joshua’s blog (Aversion review), I was approached earlier this year with an invitation to submit a short story for the launch. Since I’d already tackled Cinderella’s story in my YA novel, The Other Slipper, I figured I would try to come up with something darker for this. About six months later, I submitted my wacky take on the Sleeping Beauty story, which was accepted (phew!) and now sits alongside about 40 other stories . I hope new and old readers of my work will enjoy the stories, and share your thoughts on them online.
The anticipated release date is the 23rd of December, just in time for a Christmas morning read in bed. I will post more links up in the coming week but, in the meantime, below is the book’s blurb and links to its Youtube book trailer Continue reading
CORDS OF THE ASCENDANT
He didn’t know he could hate another person so completely.
Revenge is within reach.
Then something goes wrong.
After covertly implanting a nanochip into the newly elected U.S. President, Maxwell Charles detects a glitch in the device. What was intended to be a simple electronic connection manifests into a psychic link between Maxwell and the head of state.
Maxwell soon finds himself wondering whose face he will see in the mirror the next time he looks. Can the president see him too? Is he being influenced by the subject of his own invention?
As he races to sever the psychic link, Maxwell soon discovers that he is one among many who wish to control the president. Someone close to the Commander-in-chief also has an interest in the business of mind manipulation. Now they’re tracking Maxwell, the formula for this new technology, and its potential for unlimited power.
Has Maxwell orchestrated his own demise?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cherese A. Vines is an Indie author and publisher of paranormal romance novel “Three Weeks in May” and young adult novels “Countercharm” Books 1 & 2 . She enjoys reading fantasy, magic, and science fiction. Her other pastimes include writing reviews, blogging, and discussing books with other readers. Cherese resides in Georgia with her family.
CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:
OTHER WORKS BY THIS AUTHOR
Countercharm 2: Of Stars and Dreams
Three Weeks in May
Last month I had to give up my contact details to download some CAD details from a product website (nothing is free in this world, right?). I usually don’t mind as the information I put down is my work email, but I got stuck right at the start of the process when the only salutation options open to me were “Mr” or “Mrs”. It is important to note this is not the website for a small company based in a warehouse off the M1. The site belongs to a renowned international cladding company who have delivered high profile projects all around the globe. Over the years I have become accustomed to receiving emails and letters addressed to Mr Kenechi (imagine their shock when they ring and I pick up). To be fair to them, I can almost understand their inclination to write “Mr” when they have no idea what gender this Kenechi person might be, but the fact of the matter is that a salutation is not necessary. If you don’t know someone’s gender but you know their name, doesn’t it make sense to just write their name?
Anyway, back to the offending website. I don’t understand how a company can justify leaving no other salutation options for the wide range of people who visit their site. I know the construction industry is still very male dominated and is only now catching up on realising single women can be proper member of the building workforce, not stuck at home waiting to get married before we can emerge into society, but this is a little ridiculous. The whole reason “Ms” was re-introduced to the English language in the 20th century (according to the ever-trusty people at Wikipedia) was so that people wouldn’t find themselves in said uncomfortable situation. I thought about writing to them to inform them of their “error” (because it has to be one, surely) but I don’t have the energy to follow it up. Shame on me…but I really don’t. I ended up selecting “Mr” on the website, just for fun. I’m waiting for the awkward silence when their follow up phone call comes…
In a slightly related incident, one almost as inappropriate as not being given the option to identify myself as “Miss” Continue reading
It’s National Poetry Day so I thought I’d reblog one of the very few poems I’ve attempted. I’m usually rubbish at writing them but I quite like this one and it fits in well with the theme this year which is “remember”.
Originally posted on caeblogs:
[I don’t usually write poems, because I’m not really sure how to and I don’t think I’m good at it, but we had a group exercise set a couple of weeks ago to expand on the opening words “I was down that road before” and for some reason, a poem is what came to me so I decided to give it a shot. It might need some more work in future but we’ll see if I ever get the courage to return to it.]
I was down that road before
In another lifetime
When dreams seemed attainable
And hope was more than a feeling
Now all I gleam are passing shadows
Of a life that could have been
So when I’m glum
I pause and remember
That dreams that haven’t come true
Were probably never meant to be.