August 27, 2018

Flash Fiction Summer Series - Story #3

The inspiration for this week's piece is a picture from Disney's Enchanted, featuring Giselle (the soon-to-be princess) and Queen Narissa (evil stepmother to Prince Edward and soon-to-be mother-in-law to Giselle).

Fairy tales often feature an evil stepmother as the villain. Looking to my favorite fairy tale portrayals—Disney, of course—I found...

Snow White - lived with a jealous stepmother who tried to have her killed
Cinderella - lived with a jealous stepmother who made her work as a maid and limited her social interaction
Princess Aurora - raised by three magical surrogate mothers, although not technically stepmothers, after she was threatened by the evil fairy Maleficent
Princess Ariel - tricked by the sea witch Ursula in her plan to capture King Triton, although Ursula is not technically a stepmother...she does want Ariel's widowed father (Ariel's mother had been killed by Captain Hook)
Princess Rapunzel - in Disney's version, Princess Rapunzel was stolen by Mother Gothel who used the healing powers of the princess' hair to retain her youth

And don't get me started on the films that feature mother-less protagonists...

The Evil Stepmother by @mayatylerauthor

Everything she had ever wanted was within her grasp. The man of her dreams. The crown. The title of Queen. Plus one bothersome brat.

Belinda donned an appropriately sorrowful expression as she entered the sick room. "How is her majesty?"

The nurse moved to the side, revealing a pale-faced diminutive form lying on the well-appointed bed. "I'm afraid your sister doesn't have much time left, Miss Belinda."

"And nothing can be done?"

"No, Miss. The sickness came on suddenly, and she has faded just as quickly." The nurse shook her head. "Do you want to sit with her for a bit?"


The nurse ducked her head and left the room.

Belinda sat on the high-backed chair next to the bed. "Oh, sweet sister," she murmured. "How things have changed." In my favor.

Queen Catherine moaned and blinked rapidly.

Leaning closer toward the bed, Belinda watched her sister's expression change from distressed to tortured. "Are you trying to say something, Catherine?"

With her blond curls spread across the white pillow and her eyes closed peacefully, Catherine appeared to be sleeping. Belinda smirked. Like Sleeping Beauty. Except this time there wouldn't be a handsome prince coming to her rescue. Not even the charming King Cayden could save his regal wife.

Belinda chuckled. "You can hear me, can't you? But you can't speak or move. You're completely helpless. This has worked better than I imagined! Soon you will succumb to the dastardly effects of the poison, and I will be the one comforting your grieving husband."

A single tear rolled down the queen's still cheek.

"Poor Catherine." Belinda narrowed her gaze at the motionless figure. "You had everything you desired handed to you on a platinum platter. You had to but point at Cayden, and he fell at your feet. No more. It's my time now. I will marry Cayden and rule this kingdom. Once you leave us."


Belinda turned her head toward the sound. Princess Hana stood, mouth gaping, in the open doorway.

How much did she hear? Belinda forced her lips to curl into a friendly smile. "Come to auntie, dear."

Hana shook her head violently and backed into the hall.

It hadn't been the plan, but she couldn't take the risk. Belinda rose from the chair, walked toward the shaking child, and wrapped her hand around the girl's arm. "Come with me, child." She grimly escorted the princess to her chamber.

Catherine's mysterious ailment just became contagious.


August 6, 2018

Flash Fiction Summer Series - Story #2

From the Woods by @mayatylerauthor

Once upon a time—because all the best stories begin that way—there lived a fairy princess in the enchanted woods now known as Foloi Forest. Princess Xylia was loved by her people, holding not only their love but also their deepest respect. Princess X—a pet name bestowed by her fairy family, The Glitter—carried the appearance of youth and the wisdom of age. She happily wore her long blond hair free, letting it flow behind her like a yellow river as she raced through the great forest. Under a carefree guise, she surveyed their domain with the cunning of a hunter. Her intelligent green eyes missed nothing.

The Glitter depended on her to keep them safe. Although they lived an immortal life, they were still susceptible to harm and potentially even death. A revelation painfully learned ages ago when the human world became a lot less hospitable to the fairy folk. For thousands of years, humankind and fairies had lived in harmony. In a symbiotic relationship. Until The Great Divide when a faction of fairies embraced dark magic and became wizards. Afterward, the humans began to distrust and fear fairy magic.

Fairies once roamed the earth, assuming the stature of humans. Now, they hid from the world outside the woods in their diminutive form, making their homes nestled in the majestic oak trees. The tiny creatures cared for their environment, using their magic to help the plants grow and the seasons change. For most this existence was enough.


A shrill voice resonated throughout the quiet woods. "Xylia!"

Princess Xylia wrinkled her nose in distaste. Her young sister Talia was the only fairy to achieve such a pitch. No doubt disturbing more than one fairy at work in the woods. "What do you want now, sister?" she muttered.

"There you are!" Talia bounced exuberantly toward her sister. "I have been looking everywhere for you. Didn't you hear me call your name?"

Intentionally ignoring the blatant criticism, Xylia reached inward for every scrap of patience she could summon to withstand the whirlwind exchange. It was difficult acting both mother and father to the high-strung sprite. "I thought your schooling occupied your time today, Talia."

Talia had the decency to blush. "I'm bored. Why must I study letters and sums on such a beautiful day?"

"Oh, Talia."

"Please, Xylia, may I go play? I'll study twice as hard tomorrow."

Xylia rubbed the back of her neck. Fighting with Talia always brought on head pains. "Very well. You may go, but remain in the woods. I don't want to hear of any more daring explorations."

Talia smiled demurely. She dropped into an absurd curtsy before dashing away.

"That girl." Xylia shook her head slightly and watched Talia's retreating form. "If anything becomes of me, then our future will rest in her hands."


Talia skipped through the woods, elated to escape the tedious yoke of her studies. Xylia would become suspicious if she begged off every day, but today was special. Fenix waited for her at their place just beyond the fringe of the woods. She nervously smoothed her unruly blond hair. Like its owner, her crown of golden locks had a mind of its own and refused to be tamed. Other than her striking green eyes and lithe figure, she differed from her elder sister, in all manners, like day to night. Xylia had been born old, knowing that she would one day hold all the responsibility of The Glitter. Her burden had only increased with the death of their parents during The Great Divide. Talia had been born with the freedom, and reckless curiosity, to move like the wind. Even so, she felt a twinge of guilt at shirking her own duties. Although seeing Fenix—the exciting adventurer she'd been meeting in secret for months now—was worth every sacrifice. Especially today. She was sure he would declare his love for her.

Talia was in love with Fenix. Perhaps it had even been love at first sight. Her heart skipped a beat excitedly as she neared her destination. She stepped through the barrier of translucent blue sparkles that shielded the fairy folk. As she passed over the magical gate, she assumed the human form, by increasing her stature and changing her clothes.

Stepping away from the safety of the trees, Talia was unaware of two things: how ethereal she appeared with the sunlight glittering through her hair; and how Fenix had betrayed her trust and, ultimately, her love.


Instinctively, she moved toward the sensuous voice of her love. She stopped in her tracks when she spotted Fenix. He was surrounded by strange men in uniforms.

"Fenix?" She evaluated the scene shrewdly. "What's going on?"

Remorse covered his face like a weighted blanket. He stood there woodenly except for the mournful shake of his head. His shoulders were hunched over in defeat, and desperation raged in his dark eyes.

One of the men stepped forward. His uniform held decorations, and he looked older than the others. "Good work, son." The man patted Fenix soundly on the back and assessed him proudly. "You've done well."

Fenix looked directly at Talia with a wild, panicked look in his eyes. "Run!"

Talia jerked out of her trance-like, surreal state and turned toward the woods. Sounds of the men shouting and moving behind her faded into the background as she ran. She connected sure-footed against the uneven undergrowth and made way for the gate. She saw the shimmery blue sparkles beckoning to her as the heavy net collapsed over her head.

"Xylia!" She extended her hand toward the gate as she screamed her sister's name.



If you liked this short story, then you may enjoy my paranormal romance A Vampire's Tale, available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Check out my publisher's book page for more details.

Also, stay tuned for more magic in the anticipated sequel of A Vampire's Tale about Kurtis Warde and the wizards of The Circle.