The Witch’s Daughter

Today’s short story is another one from my NaNo novel, told by my storytelling main character, Lyra.  You don’t have to know any background, except perhaps that her stories are heavily influenced by the Brothers Grimm, so feel free to skip on down to the story if you like.  There is a little context that may be interesting though.

The non-NaNo novel draft I’m working on is about Jasper, a wandering adventurer, and Julie, a girl he rescues who ends up traveling with him.  There’s also Tom, a talking cat.  In one chapter, they go to the castle of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, which then became the basis for my NaNo novel, telling the story from one princess’ point of view.  Lyra spends some time talking to Julie, and learns a little about her–her mother was a witch, her father taught her to read, she has a conceited orange cat and Jasper can’t read.  Lyra goes on to make up a story about Julie and Jasper to tell her sisters.  Because she doesn’t know much, it bears only slight resemblance to the story in my other novel.  But it was fun to take several of the same elements, and throw them together into a new story.

So here is Lyra’s mostly untrue story about a witch’s daughter and a wandering adventurer.


The Witch’s Daughter

I told a tale that began once upon a time not too long ago, about a girl whose father taught her to read.  The girl’s father died when she was still quite young, which left her alone with her mother.  This was doubly sad, because her mother, it turns out, was a witch, in every sense of the word.  She was far more interested in her magic and her spells than in her daughter, and the girl was mostly left to herself.  She explored the crumbly old castle they lived in, and read every one of her father’s books.

In due time, the girl grew up into a young woman, one who dreamed of escaping her mother and finding her own path through the world.  Since she had never been beyond the castle and knew no one else, she was afraid to run away alone.  She was also afraid that her mother would catch her, as a witch has many resources to hand.  And if she caught her, there were far too many horrible things she could do.  But the girl was smart, and patient, and so she waited for her opportunity to escape.

One dark night there was a terrible storm, and out of the midst of the storm there came a man on horseback who had lost his way.  He came to the castle to ask for shelter.  The witch saw that he was young and strong and there were many uses she could find for one such as him.  The girl saw that he was handsome, with hazel eyes.  The witch invited the young man in, and told him he must stay until the storm was gone. Continue reading “The Witch’s Daughter”

The Girl Who Followed the Birds

For Fiction Friday this week, I have another story-within-a-story from my NaNoWriMo novel.  Within the novel, this story reveals quite a bit about how my lead character is currently feeling about her life and especially her love interest.  Outside of the novel, it is, I hope 🙂 an entertaining Brothers Grimm-esque fairy tale.


The Girl Who Followed the Birds

This is a story about once upon a time in a mountain village.  It was a small village where there lived simple people.  They knew their mountains, they knew their business of goatherding and farming, and they knew each other.  They knew very little else.  In this village there lived a girl, who all her life had known how the rest of her life was likely to be.  Her parents raised goats and a few crops like everyone else, and she did her part to help.  Someday she would marry the boy who lived next door, and they would have their own cottage and their own goats and plot of farmland, and so would their children after them.  It wasn’t that she had to marry the boy next door, but they had lived and played and grown together all their lives; she had always expected she would marry him one day, in an abstract sort of way.  One spring morning when they were both sixteen, he offered her a cluster of blue mountain flowers and she looked into his blue eyes and the abstract became the very real and she knew that she didn’t only expect to marry him, she very much wanted to—someday.

It was a fall day when her sweetheart asked her to marry him, and he would have said that it was a perfect and beautiful day.  It was also a day when the birds were in the village. Continue reading “The Girl Who Followed the Birds”

The Lazy Girl and the Enchantress

As you know if you were reading this blog during November, I wrote a retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” for National Novel Writing Month.  My narrator, Lyra, was a storyteller, so within the novel I wrote several short stories for her to tell.  I want to share one with you today–you may recognize the beginning, as I put up an excerpt in November.  But today I’m posting the whole story.  🙂

Writing stories for Lyra was particularly interesting, because I had to think about the kind of stories she would tell.  For one thing, she has a more poetic style than I do (if that makes any sense!)  She also lives inside of a Brothers Grimm story, and has been reading that type of story her whole life.  So when I wrote stories for her, I wanted to create something that was very Brothers Grimm-influenced, but hopefully makes a bit more sense to a modern audience!

This story isn’t based on any particular fairy tale, but throws some traditional elements together–with twists.


Once upon a time, there was a shopkeeper’s daughter who was very beautiful.  It was a sad fact that because she was beautiful, people’s automatic inclination was to do things for her.  That might not have been so bad in itself, but she had realized this tendency early on and loved to take advantage of it.

When her mother asked her to clean the house or to help with the laundry, she’d make endless excuses to get out of it, preferring to spend the time combing her hair or trying on different dresses.  When her mother did insist on her working, she was so slow about it that the good woman would eventually give up in exasperation and do the job herself.

When her father asked her to mind the shop, she would avoid helping customers if at all possible, and when she couldn’t avoid it she was as slow as you could imagine.  She asked the customers to pack up their own purchases and couldn’t be bothered even to do the counting to hand out change.  You may expect that service was slow and the customers ended up waiting around, whenever she was minding the shop.  The men, however, so enjoyed looking at her that they didn’t often complain.  Her father still knew that he was losing business because not everyone was willing to wait—and he wasn’t winning customers to his shop from the women in town.

One day the prince of that country passed through the town and his party stopped at the shop to buy fresh supplies for their journey.  It happened to be a day when the girl was (in theory) helping in the shop.  The prince saw her, and was sure that he had never seen anyone so beautiful, which may have been true.  He had been reading too many stories, and become convinced that such a beautiful face could only indicate a kind nature, a worthy spirit, and a personality that would match his own—in other words, that her beauty proved she was his soul mate, which it didn’t at all.

He proposed to her at once.  She was lazy but she wasn’t stupid, and she was quite sure that the wife of a handsome prince would have all the dresses she could ever want, and no work to do at all.  She accepted, and off they went to the royal castle. Continue reading “The Lazy Girl and the Enchantress”


As I’m sure you know, we’re coming up on November.  And as many in the writing and blogging community will know, that means National Novel Writers Month–NaNoWriMo in the shorthand, or NaNo if you want to make it really quick.

The goal of NaNo is to write a novel in a month–50,000 words, or about 1,600 a day.  People come together, in person or over the internet, and support each other in their goal.  It is, by all accounts, a fun way to connect with other writers, and to hopefully produce some writing–which everyone expects will require vast amounts of revision.  But the point isn’t so much to write a good novel–just to get something written, and you can always revise it later.

I’ve been hearing about NaNo for years, but I’ve never actually participated.  November never seemed like a good month for a vast amount of writing.  In school, November is just when everything’s gearing up with major papers and final exams.  Last November, I was busy starting a blog.  🙂

But I’ve decided that this is the year–I’m finally going to give NaNo a try.  I have a full-time job and plenty of social activities, not to mention a blog, but I know lots of people with crazier schedules than mine make an attempt on NaNo!

I already write most days, but I tend to fit in just a little time at the end of the day, and I’d like to write more.  I figure NaNo will force me to–and hopefully I can make some habits I can keep following after November.  I’m finishing up the first draft of the novel I’ve been working on for about a year and a half, so the timing is perfect to launch off into something else.

I’ve had an idea percolating for a while that I want to explore.  As I think regular readers all know very well 🙂 I love fairy tale retellings.  Lately, I’ve been drawn to “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”  After reading a lot of retellings, I re-read the original in Grimm’s (“The Shoes that Were Danced to Pieces.”)  There was plenty there that had been in most of the retellings, but there was one line that suddenly jumped at me:

“Each Prince danced with the girl he loved.”

I found myself re-examining the entire story.  In every retelling I’ve been able to find, the Princes are evil demons, the Princesses are forced to go dancing, and the King is a well-meaning man who does his best to help his daughters.

But that’s not in Grimm.  In Grimm, the Princes never do anything evil, the Princesses seem perfectly willing (even eager) to go dancing, and the King is locking up his daughters and chopping off champions’ heads.

Which leads me to ask–what if the villain of the story is not who everyone has been making it out to be?  What if everyone’s motivations, and everyone’s desires, are entirely different than what we’ve come to expect them to be?

So that’s what I’ll spend November answering!

Obviously I plan to focus on novel writing for the month, which will mean less blog-writing of the usual kind.  I expect there to still be a few book reviews and a few other things like Favorites Friday posts–and if the novel-writing goes well, I’ll share excerpts!  But don’t be surprised if the usual posts are less frequent for a few weeks.  I still plan to post often though–so that I can let you know how the novel-writing goes, and keep myself accountable!

If you’re participating in NaNo too, I’d love to hear how it goes for you; you can find me over on the NaNo website.  My username is cherylmahoney.

I have another horror novel review for Halloween, and then the novel-writing starts next Tuesday–wish me luck!