Pixar’s 22 rules to phenomenal storytelling (click in the pictures to zoom)
I’m sick of magical worlds with no technology. I want fairy run coffee shops where you can get a latte with a shot of charisma, because you’ve got a big presentation you’re worried about, or witches working at Apple selling phones that automatically appear in your pocket if you accidentally leave it somewhere, or psychics running hair salons who always know how you want your hair to look, or aura reader therapists. I just really want normalized magic in modern society
Arab Little Red Riding Hood with a red hijab
A Japanese Snow White with her coveted pale skin and shiny black hair
Mexican Cinderella with colorful Mexican glass blown slippers
Greek Beauty and the Beast where Beast is a minotaur
Culture-bent fairy tales that keep key canonical characteristics
GIVE ME THESE I M M E D I A T E L Y
Afro-Caribbean Rapunzel with 75-ft-long dreads.
Anselm had hoped that mentioning Clara would assuage Aladdin’s suspicion of him. Judging by Aladdin’s glare, it had the opposite effect.
“How do you know about her?” Aladdin repeated when Anselm didn’t answer quickly enough.
The older man sighed. “Clara’s my goddaughter. I’ve known her since she was born.”
He felt a smile tug at his lips, the first genuine one in quite some time. He remembered her soft curly hair, her chubby baby cheeks, and those dainty fingers. His throat constricted and he coughed to dislodge the lump developing there.
“She means everything to me.”
“I didn’t mean Clara, I meant my wife.”
The silence thickened between them. Anselm swallowed and thought that perhaps an introduction was in order. If only to keep Aladdin from killing him with his stare.
“My name is Drosselmeyer, and I am Clara’s godfather, as I have mentioned. I know about you and your family because about a year ago I thought of retrieving her from your wife. I saw how well she was being taken care of, and for that you have my deepest gratitude.”
“You’ve been down here for a year?” Aladdin’s voice was gentler than before, sympathetic even, which unfortunately compelled Drosselmeyer toward honesty.
“No, only a few months. I wouldn’t last a year down here.” As the words came out of his mouth, Anselm realized his mistake.
“So, you chose to leave your fifteen year old goddaughter with strangers.” Any sympathy Aladdin could have offered vanished instantly.
“Well, strangers is a bit of a harsh term…”
“She’s been through hell. This entire time she needed her family, some shred of her home, and you chose to abandon her.” Aladdin’s voice cut through the darkness like a knife.
Anselm felt the urge to flinch but resisted. He leaned forward against the chain-link and stared into Aladdin’s dark eyes. “She was safer with your family than with me. And, despite everything she has been through, I still believe that. Whatever you might think of me, I did what was best.”
Aladdin remained unmoved. Anselm slowly exhaled.
“Listen, friend, we can either end this conversation and make your escape or you can spend the next few days having Nottingham pound on your face. It’s your call.”
To his surprise, Aladdin’s features softened again and he let out a noise that was almost a laugh.
“Is that a yes?”
“Maybe. I don’t trust you, or believe that I have such luck that I’d be rescued from imprisonment for a third time in my short, bizarre life. But I definitely don’t want to stay here.”
“All right then.” Tension eased out of Anselm’s shoulders. He was seriously concerned that Aladdin might refuse him. The other end of his small cell held a tiny desk and a lamp. This was his life now, working away in a tiny cell in a dark basement. The dampness did a number on his joints. He switched a lamp on and blinked against the harsh light. Then he began rummaging through the single shallow drawer of the desk, shuffling his hand along the bottom. After a few moments he found several paper clips, a handful of rubber bands and his ruler.
“This might take some time, so be a little patient with me. I’m assuming you can pick the locks keeping the doors closed.”
“You can’t?” Aladdin glanced at the lock above him.
“I could once, but I’m afraid my fingers shake a bit too much now.” He held out a hand which visibly trembled.
Quickly, but with the kind of precision only a true craftsman could have, he bound the items together into a rudimentary slingshot. It wasn’t his finest work but it would do. He then wrapped the remaining paper clips in tape until they formed little packet. There were only three paper clips left at the end of the process. He would only have the one shot. A practice would be best.
“Stand away from the fencing. Don’t want to catch you in the eye.” He tested the gadget with an eraser. It was a bit heavier than the paper clips; he’d have to adjust for that. Aladdin moved further back into the cell, watching with curiosity.
Drawing as close to the chain link as possible, Anselm aimed at the corner of Aladdin’s cell, using the length of the ruler to align the shot with the gaps in the fencing. Placing hit thumb against the paper clip trigger, the eraser went flying and pinged against the interlacing wire of Aladdin’s cell.
Anselm tried a few more times with other miscellaneous items from his desk. Having one sightless eye severely hindered his depth perception so he felt a small amount of accomplishment when he found the perfect angle. Then he saw Aladdin’s expression. Obviously the young man doubted putting any faith into the old man flinging office supplies at him. Anselm sent him a short smile, which was not returned, and then set up to shoot off the paper clips.
He only needed one try. The packet bounce off a post and landed next to Aladdin’s shoe. Aladdin was unimpressed. Anselm tried not to let that bother him.
“Paper clips are the best I could do all things considered.”
“They’ll work. Now you’ll have to have a little patience.”
Aladdin unwrapped the paper clips and began working on the lock. Between the awkward angle of his hand through the chain-link and the subpar tools, it took some time before the lock gave in. After unlatching the door, he swung it open and stepped out. Overall, it was bit anti-climatic.
“Now, on the far wall, there is a vent that will lead practically anywhere in the compound…what…what are you doing?”
Aladdin was at Anselm’s cell door, picking that lock as well.
“I told you, you don’t have to help me. I’m too old to—”
“I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing this for Clara.” Aladdin grumbled. “She needs you,” he added softly.
A piece of Anselm’s heart broke away. The young man just didn’t understand, couldn’t understand. He humored him though, and stepped back from the door to let him do his work. He could get Aladdin out of the house at least, possibly even get him halfway back to the city, but ultimately Anselm would stay behind. This was his place now. His miserable, dank hellhole.
My close friend Kristin and I both have stories in an upcoming anthology!
In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It’s The Dark Carnival.
And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there’s no promise that anyone can leave…alive.
Edited by: Jolene Haley, Kristen Jett, and Jessi Shakarian
Contributors include: Kat Daemon, Kristen Strassel, Julie Hutchings, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Mark Matthews, Brian W. Taylor, Kim Culpepper, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, J. Elizabeth Hill, Nicole R. Taylor, Ashly Nagrant, Kristin Hanson, Calyn Morgan, Tawney Bland, Roselle Kaes, Ken Mooney, Emily McKeon, Bobby Salomons, Ezekiel Conrad, Sheila Hall, Michelle Davis, Lucas Hargis, Vanessa Henderson, Ryan Bartlett, Debra Kristi, Jessi Esparza, T.A. Brock, Ruth Shedwick, Brian LeTendre, Amy Trueblood, Gregory Carrico, Jamie Corrigan, Kate Michael, Tyle Anne Snell, Alicia Audrey, Meghan Schuler, Jamie Adams, Wulf Francu Godgluck, J.C. Michael, Suzy G., Kristin Rivers, and Claire C. Riley.
*Final lineup subject to change
Add it to Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20495362-the-dark-carnival
Want to show The Dark Carnival even more Goodreads love?
Add it to your shelves - horror, anthologies, and thriller are good places to start.
Did you say you have more love? Pin the shiny new cover to Pinterest, send out some tweets, and scribe it into Facebook. You never know - show The Dark Carnival enough love, and it might just let you leave.
Cover Design by the fabulous C. Elizabeth Vescio. Learn more about her and her incredible design skills here.
Alright its that time again! I will be doing another WriteFit Challenge in the month of October (or really starting tomorrow just to keep the weeks even).
My goals this time around are to do yoga five times a week, preferably in the morning, go jogging three times a week, and write a mininum of 100 words every day. This challenge will basically be training me for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year. I’ve participated before but have never reached the 50,000 word goal. This is the year!
You can follow my progress or join in on Twitter, @jessimesparza, and here on tumblr. Wish me luck!
Anonymous said: I’m trying to do research for some Native American characters. I plan to use a mixture of some of them having Western first names and some having Native American first names that go with their tribe. However, it set in modern day I need last names and I can seem to find any…
A study in creating great characters, by Aaron Ehasz (head writer of Avatar the Last Airbender). A lot of animation lead characters are forced to fit the far right criteria, but think of the many classic characters that are better described by the left: Tony Soprano, Frank Underwood, Jamie Lannister, Walter White, etc.
But do note that all of the anti-heroes mentioned are dudes. This is not to cast aspersions on Giancarlo (who is magnificent), but to emphasize that we need to be sensitive to how we evaluate, and even react to female heroines. We’re conditioned not to tolerate certain behaviors in women (selfishness, ruthlessness, aggression, vanity, promiscuity) that we forgive in men—behaviors that happen to make for some really interesting character choices. This is one of the reasons I loved Orphan Black and also why I’m really excited for How to Get Away with Murder.