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A blog to post my most recent projects, sketches, and any thing else that floats my boat.
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1. Answer these 7 questions and be entered to win a free print.

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - [email protected]

Fill out the survey below and be entered to win a free print. You email address is collected for purposes of the giveaway only and won’t be added to my email list or shared or anything. The survey will be open until October 9 2016, and I will announce the print winner in the comments of this post on the 10th. The winner will also get an email. Thank you!

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2. 3 Things You Need to Know About Writing a Picture Book

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - [email protected]

3-things-you-need-to-know-about-writing-a-picture-book

Last weekend I was at Salt Lake Comic Con. I had a great time talking to people and selling my art. During this time, I spoke to a few individuals who told me they are writing a book and are looking for an illustrator.

“Your style is perfect,” They say.  “Just what I’ve been looking for.”

It’s always nice to hear that people like my art, but when someone says this to me I cringe inside. Not that these people have done anything wrong but I know these people are missing some crucial information about book publishing.

Three Things Beginning Picture Book Writers Need to Know About Publishing

1. The publisher picks the illustrator

I’m starting with this as the number one thing because if your writing a children’s book and you’re here, you are probably looking for an illustrator.

Stop Now.

As a picture book writer, choosing the illustrator is not your job.

At this point, you may be thinking, “What if my publisher doesn’t pick an illustrator I like?”

I’m not going to lie. There is a possibility you might not like the artist they pick, but before you write this idea off think of the benefits.

Publishers work with hundreds of illustrators. They get tons of postcard mailers every day from illustrators. They have education and experience at finding artists and matching them to the right picture book text. They also hire the illustrator, have lawyers to create contracts that include important details like deadlines and rights, and they pay the illustrator what they are worth so that you, the writer, don’t have to.

On the other hand, you might know 3-5 artists who are really good. Out of these artists, one or two may have professional work experience. If they know how book publishing works, they’ll probably say no to your project. Sometimes, they may say yes if you have the budget for it. If you can pay them enough, then all you have to worry about rights, deadlines, and art directing. No biggie.

Save yourself some stress. Let the publisher pick your illustrator.

2. It’s hard work

If you read section one up there, you’ve probably realized by now this picture book thing is more difficult than you think. Don’t let this discourage you. It’s hard work, but you can do it.

When you write a picture book, you are writing a story. Your story should have a beginning, middle, and end. It doesn’t matter how short the text is, all stories have those three things. Even the board books I illustrated have a beginning, middle, and an end and they have less than 100 words each.

Picture books are about text and pictures. When you write a picture book, think about what the images might show and don’t put that in the text. There is no need to use lengthy descriptions of the characters or settings. Remember a picture is worth 1000 words. That means on every page there are at least 1000 words you don’t need to write.

Picture books these days are very short. Remember, parents and teachers read picture books out loud. Less than 1000 words is a great guideline, but lots of books have less than 500. Work on your drafts until you have the right amount of words for your story.

3. It’s not only your book once you involve an illustrator and publisher

Once you have a fantastic draft and you, start looking for a publisher you have to let some things go. In the end, it’s not only your book. The publisher and the illustrator also have their names on it, and they want to do they best they can to make it great. Just focus on the writing and trust the illustrator and publisher to make the book as great as they can, and everyone wins.

Here are some resources to find out more about writing and publishing your book

SCBWI.org is the Society of Children’s book Writers and Illustrators. They have great publishing resources and put together some great conferences all around they world where you can get more info about writing and illustrating picture books.

Stories Unbound Podcast is a great resource with interviews with published authors and illustrators. I got to be a co-host in a few episodes talking about attending conferences and setting up a critique group. Check it out.

The Purple Crayon is another great website with excellent info about children’s publishing. This website has the answers to tons of publishing questions. You’ll also learn stuff you probably never thought to ask.

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3. The Five Building Blocks You Need to Make Great Art

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Periodic Table of The Elements

What’s that called? That image up there… yes, I know this is a blog for artists but humor me.

It’s the periodic table, right? Right. To be even more precise it’s the Periodic Table of the Elements.

What are elements? Elements are things that help you build other things. The elements on the periodic table build pretty much everything. We can’t break them down smaller, and when you put them together, they make new things. For example, when the elements of hydrogen and oxygen combine they make water.

Ok, I’m done talking about science, but there is a point. Just like elements make the world around us, We also use elements to make pictures. They are the Elements of design.

The Elements of Design Are:

Line, Shape, Value, Texture, and Color.

Take a moment to think about any art you’ve ever seen. If you can think of a piece that doesn’t use one or more of these elements, I would think you were crazy. Because as far as I know, it’s not possible to make art without the Elements of Design.

Let’s talk about them now.

Line

Leonardo Da Vinci used line to create this sketch.

Leonardo Da Vinci used line to create this sketch.

I’m pretty sure you know what a line is. We use them all the time. Lots of times we use lines to make shapes. Lines can be hesitant, beautiful, bold, straight, curved, sketchy, and much more. Read more about line by clicking here.

Shape

As I said, lines can make shapes, but you can make them in other ways. Take a paint brush and blob it on your paper. You’ve just made a shape. Lots of times we think the shapes with names, triangle, circle, square, oval, etc. But there are also shapes that don’t have names. These shapes are part of the elements of design too.

The way you choose to design your shapes can have a huge impact on how your art looks. Let’s face it; some shapes are just more interesting than others.

Value

Value is how light or dark something is. Think of a black and white movie or a grayscale image. The reason you can still tell what is going on is because of the values. Values tell us a lot of stuff, where the light is coming from, where forms change direction, if it’s a sunny or overcast day, and lots of other things.

When I see paintings that aren’t working, it’s usually because there is a problem with the values. I’ve written some other articles about value. Read this oneor this one. 

Texture

Monet used Heavy Brush Strokes created paintings with Real Texture.

Monet used Heavy Brush Strokes created paintings with Real Texture.

Texture is how something feels, rough, smooth, furry, slimy, etc. and texture can be real, or implied.

Real texture is really there. Like the texture of the paper, or the ridges and bumps created from brush strokes.

Implied texture is texture you only show in your picture.  For example, if you paint a tree trunk, and it looks rough but actually isn’t if you touch it, that is implied texture.

You can learn more about texture in this article on chrisoatley.com 

Color

Red, Yellow, Blue, etc. Right? Right… The thing is it doesn’t just stop there. Every color has a value, temperature, and saturation.

I’ve created a worksheet to walk you through the different aspects of color and show you ways to use them. You can download it free when you sign up for my mailing list.  Click here to sign up and Get The Color Worksheet.

The Elements as building blocks

By now you I hope you see how the Elements of Design make up the pictures, sculptures, and other art we see. If you want to work more with them, I’ve created a downloadable worksheet so you can get to know them a little better. You know, make friends and stuff. I hope you enjoy it.

Download Elements of Design Worksheet (0)

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4. Creating Rey and Bb8 Fan Art

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Rey and BB8 FInished

I was sitting in artist alley at salt lake comic con fanX surrounded by fan art when I had the idea for this painting. Well, not this painting exactly but it was the beginning of an idea that led to this painting. Let me tell you how it happened.

I’ve never been able to pull off fan art. When I try to draw an established character, it always ends up looking exactly like the character already looked. So, you know, what was the point? For some reason, I thought of fan art only as an established character drawn in a different style or turned into a cat, which made it hard for me to want to create my own.

At conventions like Salt Lake Comic Con, I do alright. People like my stuff and they buy it, but not as much as people like and buy fan art.

Another Way To Draw Fan Art

But as I sat there behind my little table last March I realized that was silly. I needed to forget about drawing characters in my own way, and think in stories. I like stories and although I’ve tried to branch out recently, drawing narrative illustrations is my favorite thing.

So, in my head, I made up a story about what Rey and BB8 did the morning after they met. I sketched, and sketched and eventually got this. I think the image could have told the story better, but overall I feel good about it.

I’ll try selling prints of it at Salt Lake Comic Con in a few weeks, and we’ll see if it makes a difference in sales. If you’d like to buy one look for me in Artist Alley Purple 19. Or follow this link to buy one from the shop. 

 

 

 

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5. Is Digital or Traditional Painting Better?

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The answer is traditional painting is better. Duh.

Ok maybe not.

Digital painting can’t be better or worse than traditional. Just like a watercolor painting isn’t necessarily better than one painted in oil. But, when you get down to specifics everything changes.

You can say that an art piece is better than another based on skill, how well the art communicates its goal and your personal preference. An artist can also say they prefer watercolor to oil or digital, and actually, that is what I do say.

(I will do that now)

I prefer painting in watercolors. Digital painting often makes me frustrated. The Results are good enough, but the journey is never as fun. Thus for me, traditional painting is better.

A Digital Illustration Goes Analog

My Iron Giant illustration started out as a something I did for Sketch Dailies. I don’t remember if I used photoshop or my old iPad but either way, he turned out well, and I added the image to my portfolio.

At our illustration conference last February, Giuseppe Castellano reviewed my portfolio. It was one of the best portfolio reviews I remember having. He mentioned my art seemed more like me when I do watercolor. I had been working hard to improve my watercolor skills and liked that compliment a lot.

He suggested I take the digital Iron Giant and repaint it in watercolor. Usually, I’m not up for re-hashing old illustrations but in this case, it sounded like fun.

I took my old drawing made a few minor changes and transferred it to watercolor paper. I used my old digital painting as a color study. It ended up being an easy process and a lot of fun.

Here are the Digital and Watercolor Versions of An Iron Giant Takes a Walk.

Iron Giant Takes A Walk, Personal Project: Digital

An Iron Giant Takes a Walk: Digital

An Iron Giant Takes a Walk

An Iron Giant Takes a Walk: Watercolor

 

I”ve always liked the digital painting of this, but I love the watercolor version.

Never Stop Leaning

Although I love watercolor, there is so much to learn about art. Make sure to keep learning in many ways. I signed up for Chris Oatley’s digital painting course, and I’ve learned a lot about digital painting that can also apply to watercolors. Don’t let one medium or way of working keep you stuck. There is much to learn by branching out.

What medium do you prefer? Comment below and let me know.

 

 

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6. 2 Ways to be True to Your Style when Being Inspired by Another Artist

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - [email protected]

While pursuing Instagram, I saw Natalie Hall‘s beautiful angel drawings. Even though our artwork doesn’t have much in common, her elegant pictures often inspire me. Continue reading to learn how I take inspiration from someone else’s art make it a jumping off point for mine.

little angel artwork by Manelle Oliphant, inspired by art

Be Inspired by Others While Keeping Your Artwork Yours

The thing I loved about Natalie’s angel drawings, besides everything, was the wings. The shapes are beautiful and expressive while having a bit of an edge. They inspired me to try drawing my own “edgy” wings, but that is probably not how you would describe my angel painting. Honestly, I don’t know if “edgy” is something that could come out of my hands or head. Edgy it not me.

So, my first piece of advice when it comes to keeping your style yours is Be Yourself, and trust that yourself is good. Once someone described my artwork as soft and flowy with sinister undertones. It’s one of my favourite compliments because it describes me as a person as well as my art. We need art in the world with edge. We need art that’s flowy, and we need whatever kind of art is your art too.

My second piece of advice is to remember what another artist draws is their interpretation of something real. Natalie drew wings. Wings also exist in life. Birds have wings. Bats have wings. Airplanes have wings. Don’t forget to look at real life for yourself and interpret it your way. For this painting, I used reference of swan’s wings to help me create the finished art. So although I got the idea and the shape inspiration from Natalie, I used real life interpretation of swan’s wings for more information.

The 2 Ways to Be Inspired By Others and Be True to Yourself are:

First, even when you are looking at other artists for inspiration keep making your own marks, and thinking about art in your way. Second create your own interpretations from real life. Look at real life stuff and use lots of references.

Here is my video speed painting of this little angel piece. I hope you enjoy watching it and find much inspiration from it that you can make your own.

How do you use other artist’s work for inspiration? Feel free to tell me in the comments below.

 

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7. How to Create Conceptual Art When Your Brain Thinks In Stories

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devine nature manelle oliphant

Do you create art that is more narrative or conceptual? I usually create art based on a story, but this painting was a change for me. I chose to focus more on images that conveyed ideas, and it was a workout for my brain.

Drawing and Idea

I started this piece knowing I wanted to create something beautiful and little fantastic. I knew I wanted the girl’s face to be the focal point of the image and that the things around her would support the idea that we all have a Divine Godlike Nature that is an important part of who we are.

I found this image of the girl’s face and felt like it conveyed the confidence of someone who knows who they are, and conveyed the idea of Divine Nature in her eyes and expression. I added some of the other elements around her to support the idea. I added doves because traditionally they are used to represent God, flowers because they are pretty and blue because the Young Women Value Divine Nature is represented by blue in my church.

I struggled to try to make sure the doves with the super light value didn’t compete with the face. I also would have liked to have more imagery to support the main idea but overall I feel good about the result.

You can watch me paint the image in this video.

Conceptual Art Divine Nature Speedpaint

What do you think, is the painting successful? Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist or a narrative artist?

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8. In the Wind Interior Speedpaint 2

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

wind-15March 1 is the exciting day! In The Wind is released. Here is my third and final speedpainting recording that I did from the book.

You can see the other two paintings on these posts.

Cover Speedpaint

Interior Speedpaint 1

And you can buy the book by following this link. 

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9. In the Wind Interior Speed Paint

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

wind-2Last week I posted the speed paint cover for in the wind. This week you get to see on of the interior paintings being painted. Then next week I have one more interior.

This is the opening scene in the book where the girl and her mom are about to go off on their kite-flying adventure. I hope you enjoy it.

And you can of course buy the book by clicking this link. In the Wind

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10. In The Wind Cover Speed Painting

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

Hello All,

My new book In the Wind is coming out March 1, 2016. It’s illustrated by me and written by Elizabeth Spurr.

When I was working on the books a few months ago I recorded myself painting some of the images. Here is the cover image recording.

 

I hope you enjoy it. You can also pick up the book on Amazon at this link. Or if you’d like to support your local book stores, which is a good thing to do, head over to one of them and have them pre-order it for you.

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11. What I Learned from Norman Rockwell

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

Last week I had a chance to go see the Norman Rockwell Exhibit at the BYU museum of art. I went with friends from my critique group. It’s so much fun to go to things like this with other artists. We had a great time analyzing the paintings together. This post is about some of the things I learned by staring at the awesome art.

  1. Norman Rockwell was great at using lost edges.

    Triple Self-Portrait

    For example if you look at this painting called Triple Self-Portrait you can see how the man’s trousers are the same color as the canvas. In the original painting there isn’t a line to distinguish the two elements. Your brain fills that line in all on it’s own. Pretty cool.

  2. Norman Rockwell used color grouping. (and you can paint a white dress against a white background too.)

    Christmas Homecoming

    See in that image how the three jackets are all the same color. Tan, tan, and tan. They are three separate elements but since the value/tone and color are similar your brain can read them as one. This is a busy picture full of lots of people and things. The color grouping really helps lead your eye through the image.

    Here is another example of color grouping.

    After The Prom

    Another thing Norman Rockwell did all the time is harder for me to explain, but this image illustrates it very well.

    Brass Merchant

    See how that lady has a white dress on. See how the background is white. If I was painting this painting I probably would have made her dress purple or blue. White would have been out of the question. I would have been too afraid of her blending into the background and the image being out of balance. But Norman did it here and I think it’s working. I’m excited to start trying to do more of this type of thing in my paintings.

  3. Norman Rockwell painted a ridiculous amount of studies and took tons of photos.

    Soda Jerk

    To see more of his photos into paintings you can check out this blog post.

    But it wasn’t just that he took a lot of photos. He did drawings and color studies and more drawings and more color studies until he got what he needed.

  4. Norman Rockwell Painted big paintings.

    Checkers

    This is one of my all time Norman Rockwell Favorites. It is 35×39″, and is typical of many of the paintings I saw at the museum. It’s not a mural by any means but it’s much bigger than the sizes I usually work at. He was able to get a lot of detail into the art at this size. I’ve been working the size of my scanner. I think I’m going to try some larger stuff so I can get more of the effects that I want.

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12. The Importance of Learning to Draw

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

There is a common misconception that being an artist is either something you are born with or not. The general feeling in society pervades that artists are odd, and going into art is an unwise career choice because artists don’t make any money.

The reality is drawing realistically can be taught, and there are many many careers for artists. There are also many careers which aren’t considered art jobs but that can benefit immensely from people with the skill for thinking spatially. Learning to see the world in a non-verbal visual way is a beneficial thing for everyone to learn. In school there is a lot of emphasis on core subjects such as reading and math. Drawing and music tend to be overlooked because they aren’t considered valuable skills when preparing for careers such as doctors, lawyers, or engineers. But, not only are there plenty of careers in the arts  (fashion, movies, video game, and amusement park industries all use artists) but the ability to picture something in your head would be useful for a doctor or engineer.

Part of the reason people don’t see the value of taking an art class is because drawing is not taught as it used to be. Many art classes as they are taught now teach students to express themselves but don’t give them the skills to do so. This would be similar to telling a piano student to play something that expresses himself without teaching him any notes.

When I was about 11 my love for drawing was clear and my parents enrolled me as a student to my amazing teacher Sydney Bowman taught me many drawing basics using the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.

I’m grateful for the lessons she taught me and I’m excited to teach students of my own many of the principles I learned from her.

If you or your children are interested in learning to draw I highly recommend getting the book and going through the exercises. Or if you live in in Salt Lake County Utah  I still have spots available in my classes. Email me at illustration (at) manelleoliphant (dot) com for more information.

 

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13. Painting a Blue Wing Fairy

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

Thrifted Frame

I went to the thrift store and found some fun picture frames. This one is one of my favorites. It’s just so darn cool looking, despite the fact that it’s actually made of plastic. The red velvet was a little worn but some fabric paint took care of that.

Thrifted Picture Frame

Painting The Fairy

Then I took some time and painted this blue wing fairy to fit in the frame. I’m really pleased with the result.

 

blue wing fairy watercolor painting by Manelle Oliphant.

 

Here’s a video of my painting process.

Selling the Art

I plan on selling the original art with the frame at a Christmas Gift and Craft show in a few weeks. Hopefully I’ll have some more fun framed art to share with you then as well. In the meantime if you really like this painting you can buy a print of it in my shop. 


Framed blue wing Fairy watercolor painting by Manelle Oliphant

 

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14. Inktober

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

I used to love working with ink and watercolor. It was my go to medium for a long time. Gradually I’ve moved away from that but every once and a while I pull out my ink and draw. Then I remember I really enjoy drawing with that medium.

Inktober is (find out more about it by clicking here.) a good chance to remember how much fun ink drawing is. The last two days I’ve been working on this and I created these videos of me drawing characters with ink.

I won’t be doing 31 drawings. My plan is to do 24 drawings of the characters you’ll meet in my next year of Tales Fantastic Stories. I tried to do a lot of planning before Inktober began but now that it’s been a few days I’m learning I missed a few things. For one thing I think I drew these guys too small, and the details would work out better if their faces were a little larger. It’s also taken me a long time to draw each character before I start inking. So this morning I’m rethinking my plan a little. Maybe in a few days I’ll report back the changes I’ve made in the meantime you can follow my progress on Instagram.

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15. Choosing Who Influences Your Art

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

 

This interview on one fantastic week with J.A.W. Cooper was really inspiring to me, and from what I’ve seen on the facebook group I wasn’t the only person inspired. They talked about being deliberate about choosing your influences. Even to the point of keeping a written record of who they are and why. I have many artists whose work I admire, and many who I choose to inspire my work but I’ve never thought about making deliberate choices about this.

Joseph Zbukvic

Lately I’ve been paying closer attention to how I draw hands and feet because Wylie Beckert does such an amazing job with this, and I’ve been trying to keep my watercolor looser like Joseph Zbukvic. I know I am doing this but I haven’t thought about where allowing these influence in would take me, and if I want to go there.

I think it’s time to focus on this a little bit more.

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16. Ghost Connection

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

Here is my latest Tales Fantastic Story. My brother volunteered to read the story and I think he did a great job. You can listen to it on the video or read it below. If you’d rather read it later on your kindle or ipad you can download this story free from smashwords.

 

Ghost Connection

A short story by Manelle Oliphant

I’ve been haunted by two things since I was born, my red hair, and a ghost. This is the story of how my sister Emily’s Halloween obsession helped me become uh… un-haunted.

Let’s start with the ghost. She’d been around from my earliest memories. She was white and glowy. She wore a flowing dress, had long hair, and looked a little old fashioned. She followed me around in a kind of smoke. Her presence brought a feeling of desperation. Like she wanted to be my friend and had to struggle every moment to make it happen.

As a kid, I talked about her all the time. I didn’t realize seeing a ghost wasn’t normal. I told everyone how she looked and things she did. My family called her my “imaginary ghost friend”. The only reason I stopped talking about her was because of my red hair.

I’m the only redhead in my whole family. No one, not even a cousin has a hint of it. When I was eight, my older brother Jake told me I didn’t fit in because I was adopted. Maybe I shouldn’t have believed him, but I did.

I asked my mom about it. She was doing laundry at the time and looked at me with her arms full of dirty sheets, “Of course your not adopted, Clayton. My mom had red hair just like yours.” That relieved me quite a bit, but when I asked more questions, Mom looked sad then shoved the sheets into the washer double quick. “She died around the time you were born. Please don’t ask me anymore about her”.

I was ok with that. I’d heard what I wanted. Triumphantly I told my brother about our dead grandma with red hair.

He laughed at me. “Have you ever seen a picture of her?”

“No.”

Jake smirked “Then how do you know it’s true? I think Mom made the whole thing up to make you feel better. You really were adopted. I remember when they brought you home so I would know.”

At this point, tears threatened at the corners of my eyes. “You were only three. How could you even remember?”

He smirked at me. “Oh, I remember. Trust me. You’re adopted.” Then he ruffled my hair like I was a cat. “Don’t worry little brother, I’m sure they won’t give you up. ‘Course if you keep going on about that imaginary ghost they’ll have to take you to an asylum. Probably the same one where your real mom lived when she had you.”

I kicked Jake’s shin. “It’s not true.”

He just smirked at me, “That’s why she had to give you up you know- because she thought she saw ghosts. Just like you.“

I tried to punch Jake in the arm, but he blocked it. So, I ran to my room and cried. My ghost appeared and tried to comfort me. The gesture didn’t help. Her desperate feelings always overpowered everything else. I felt so angry because the fact that I could see her made me feel crazy. I decided right then I wouldn’t talk about her ever again. I wouldn’t look at her. I would ignore her until she went away.

After that, Jake didn’t tease me as much, and my parents no longer looked at me with worried expressions. My ghost got more annoying than ever, though. The more I ignored her the angrier she got. Instead of gliding she dashed about from place to place. Sometimes she disappeared only to reappear right in front of my face. She made lights flicker, rooms colder, and did everything a ghost could do to get my attention. I ignored this constant ghosty tantrum like a pro. That’s how things stood with us for years. Then came my sister’s wedding.

Weddings are supposed to be fun, but they aren’t. Like I said, my sister Emily was obsessed with Halloween. She loved ghosts, wearing black, and found some guy to marry her who loved that stuff too. Since I actually saw a ghost all the time, I didn’t get what the big deal was but Emily was knee deep in it. As a consequence, she wanted her wedding to be on Halloween in a graveyard. Weird.

Emily couldn’t get permission to have the party in the actual cemetery, but she reserved the park next to it. So, while she “got ready” for her big day, me, Jake, Mom and Dad, and anyone else we could get, set up tables, hung old looking photos in the trees, and put up lights. Then we cleaned ourselves up just to sit through a wedding. By the time we got to the reception, which was supposed to be the fun part, I just wanted to fall asleep.

I found a bench away from everyone where I could be by myself. I slumped down, breathed in the crisp air and shut my eyes.

Ghost-Connection-fin-flat

When I opened them again, my ghost floated in front of me. Her dress billowed out in all directions. The air grew colder, and wisps of ghostly light reached toward me. She stared at me with empty black eyes and wailed. Her feelings of anger, hurt and desperation overwhelmed me. I think Halloween, or the graveyard, or both made her more powerful.

The thing of it is, even though I felt her presence stronger than ever, I was exhausted. I’d seen her throw so many ghosty fits this just felt like one more tactic to get attention. It didn’t work. I stood and walked back toward the party. She wailed louder and whirled around me so fast I felt a breeze. I pretended not to notice. I figured once people surrounded me again she would leave. But it didn’t work out that way. When I stepped into the lights of the party, the band stopped, and everyone looked at me. Then they all freaked because they could see her too!

I’m not sure what happened next. I got caught up in the chaos until I hid under a table with my cousin Ryan. He’d stolen some of the cake. People and a ghost screamed all around us, but I just sat there under the table and ate cake, no point of it going to waste.

Once things had quieted down I crawled out from under the table. Most of the guests had fled. My sister looked delighted by their unexpected wedding guest. Mom sat very still on one of the few upright chairs, and Dad directed anyone still there to start cleaning up.

I walked over to Mom. “Are you ok?”

She looked at me. She’d been crying. “Clayton, I saw a ghost.”

“Yeah, my ‘imaginary ghost friend.’”

“Oh…well, I know who she is.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, my mom. She died a week before you were born. Cancer. I’d hoped she’d at least meet you before she died. You are her first and only grandchild with hair as red as hers.”

She put her arm around my shoulders. “All these years I’ve tried not to think about how she missed out on meeting you and seeing all you kids grow up.”

I patted her on the back. “Well, she hasn’t actually missed out on all that much. My first memory of her is at my second birthday party.”

Mom smiled. “Really?”

“Yes. I’ve always wondered who she was.”

Mom squeezed my shoulders again. “Let’s get this mess cleaned up, and then I’ll tell you about her.”

When we got home, Mom pulled out some old photo albums. Dad and Jake joined us as Mom told us about Grandma. She showed us the wedding photos first.

I pointed at the first picture. “That’s the same dress.”

My mom smiled. “Yes, we buried her in her wedding dress.”

Seeing my ghost in full color was weird. She had the same dress like I said, the same face, and the reddest of red hair.

I smiled. “See Jake, not adopted.”

Jake just laughed.

Relief washed through me. I’d told myself many times Jake had been kidding about me being adopted, but I think I didn’t really believe it until I saw that photo.

We looked at pictures for a few hours while my mom told stories about growing up. By the time we went to bed I felt like I really knew my ghost, and Mom looked happier than she had in a long time.

I only saw the ghost once more after that, she appeared in my bedroom a day or so later.

I smiled at her. “I’m sorry for ignoring you.”

She nodded. The feelings of desperation were gone. I felt connected to her now, even though she was old and dead. I saw her mouth form the words “See you later.” Then she faded away. I don’t know if she meant she’d come back sometime, or if I just have to wait until I’m dead to see her again. I’m good either way, as long as I don’t die for a good long time.

The End

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17. Forest Queen

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

Forest Queen CoverA Short Story By Manelle Oliphant

About 1,150 words

A woodcutter heads into the forest for his regular day of work. He goes into a part of the woods where he’s never been and notices some weird things, but being content there he ignores them. After a while he decides to finish his work for the day and prepares to cut down a tree. Only the forest won’t let him, and he’s about to meet someone very important. This is a short fantasy story with one illustration.

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18. Forest Queen

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

 

Forest Queen is the first tales fantastic story where you can listen to the story as well as read it. The audio version of the story is posted above in the youtube video. The video is called the Tales Fantastic Podcast but it’s not actually a podcast yet. In order for me to host the audio file so you can download it as a subscription on itunes and other podcast platforms it costs money. Currently I’m only $8 away from my goal on patreon that will pay for the media host. If you want to listen to the stories at a podcast I hope you’ll check out Patreon.com/manelleoliphant so see how you can make it so.

To download this story free visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/543956

Forest Queen

A short story by Manelle Oliphant

Watercolor painting called Forest Queen by Manelle OliphantThe day started out like any other. I broke my fast in the dim light of dawn and headed into the forest with my cart in tow. Throughout the morning I chopped a large tree, which had been my project during the previous few days. It’s wood only filled my cart halfway. I had a few hours before the market closed and wanted enough wood to sell, as well as keep my own family warm. So, I wandered southward instead of toward town. I’d never been that direction, but the trees looked old. Experience told me older trees meant more fallen branches, and I looked forward to an easy afternoon of work.

As I traveled the trees grew larger. The occasional bits of sun breaking through the forest canopy echoed off the plants below and gave the whole scene a green glow. The fresh smell of wild flowers hung in the air. Squirrels, deer, and rabbits watched me without fear. There were no predatory animals among them. There were many birds as well. They flitted through the trees singing. I never saw a fallen branch or log. The lack of forest litter had me second-guessing my decision to go that way, but the forest looked so old. I reasoned I’d find what I needed before long. I felt safe there, and wanted to linger. I pulled out my lunch and made myself comfortable on a tree’s root.

While I ate I took a closer look at the forest around me. There were still no fallen leaves or dead branches, and the day was wearing on. I realized if I was going to have enough wood by the day’s end I’d have to start from scratch. I looked around at the huge straight trunks. Most of these trees were too big for me to harvest alone. In the distance though, I saw a smaller tree. I could chop it down on my own, and still fill my cart for the next few days.

I pulled my cart over to it’s base. I examined the tree and the surrounding area with my well-trained eye. I saw where to hit, and how the tree would fall. With the plan in place, I raised my ax.

A strong wind blew in circles around me and the bird’s chirped louder. I heard the chatter of other animals too. I lowered my ax. The animals silenced and the wind calmed. The hush after such commotion made the forest feel hollow. I shuttered, but raised my ax again. The animal’s chatter started up at a greater volume than before and a gust of wind blew me against the tree. I shook my head to clear it. Feeling spooked I resolved to leave. As I leaned to pick up my ax from where I’d dropped it, another blast of wind slammed my head against the trunk.

When I woke, I lay on the mossy ground. My head swam as I sat up. I rolled to hands and knees and looked around. An eerie red light had replaced the dancing green one from before, and a thick fog rolled over the ground. Deer, raccoons, rabbits, and every kind of forest beast stood in a circle around me. I saw with dismay wolves, bears, and other predatory animals stood next to their gentler counterparts. I used the tree to help me stand.

“Woodcutter,” said a clear voice from behind me, “why do you enter my forest and attempt to break the pact I made with humans in eons past?”

I turned around. A beautiful woman sat before me on an ancient stone throne. She seemed larger than life; her dark hair fell wild, and branches grew from her head. She looked exactly as the forest queen is described in all our stories. She even held the staff of life with an unbroken egg affixed to it’s top. Powerful forces emanated from it, giving the forest life.

I flung myself at her feet. “Great Lady, I ask your pardon, and plead ignorance. I did not know you protected this part of the forest.”

“All the signs were there for you to see. I even commanded my wolves and bears to leave you alone. They could have eaten you, but I bid them not, as I felt you respected the forest and it’s kind.”

“I’m sorry. In my thoughts for my family’s welfare I neglected to see the signs. My only thought was for the food and warmth more wood could provide.”

She stared down at me. “I know humans often make mistakes. I also know you use wood to survive in your mortal bodies. That is why you are allowed your own portion of forest to do with what you will, but you may not mar the trees in my realm. Many years have made them wise and removing them from this world would be an irreversible mistake. Today you may go, but if you enter my woods a second time you will not live to come out.”

I nodded. “Thank you, I understand.”

As I spoke a soft breeze put me back to sleep. I woke up in a more familiar part of the forest. Pine needles littered the ground and the air felt crisp and empty, unlike the cozy feel of the  air in the queen’s realm. My belongings sat next to me. I fingered the bump where I’d hit my head and groaned. A headache already pounded in my brain. The sun set as I trudged home, and told my wife what had happened.

She examined the bump on my head. “Do you think it was a dream?”

“I’m not sure, but I’ll never head into that part of the forest again.”

Since then I am more careful how I get my wood. I seek the ground harder for trees and branches felled by nature. Sometimes, when I pay attention, the wind blows me one way or another. When I follow it, I always find what I am looking for. I believe it’s the Forest Queen helping me keep my family fed, and protecting her forest at the same time.

The End

If you enjoyed this story learn how you can support the creation of more like it at www.patreon.com/manelleoliphant

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19. Tea and an Art Thief

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

tea-painting-fin-flatA Short Story By Manelle Oliphant

Abt 2400 words

Tiffanie Barton was brought up to be a lady of quality. The only problem is she spend much too much time with her father the city’s police chief. She learns the finer points of sparing and helps him investigate crimes. For the last few months they have been after a notorious gang of art thieves all believed to be gentlemen and move in the highest circles of society. Things look hopeless until Tiffanie’s aunt invites the leader of the gang to afternoon tea.

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20. Tea and an Art Thief

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

Tea and an Art Thief

A Short Story

By Manelle Oliphant

Download this story free by clicking here.

tea-painting-fin-flat

Tiffanie ran into her father’s office and slammed the door. “Father,” she gulped for breath, “quite by chance I’ve found out the information we need.”

Mr. Barton looked up from the documents spread over his desk. Tiffanie held on to the wingback chair across from him with one hand, while she pressed the other into her side. “Just give me a second.” she wheezed, “ran all the way from Aunt Laurena’s … stitch in my side.”

Mr. Barton looked stern. “You know you aren’t supposed to run on the skywalk Tiffanie.”

Tiffanie glanced at her father and slumped down in the chair. She gave him a dismissive wave. “Don’t be silly. You and your men do it all the time.”

“I and my men are police officers. Sometimes we must chase criminals. You are a young lady. If your Aunt Laurena knew how much time you spend here…”

Tiffanie sat up. “Oh tish Aunt Laurena. Don’t you want to hear what I found out at her house today?”

“I hope you don’t use language like that in front of your aunt.”

“Of course not. I hardly get a chance to speak a word around Aunt Laurena, as you well know. Besides that doesn’t matter right now.” Her voice got louder. “Father, not only did I find out the name of our gentleman thief but I also found out when he and his gang are planning to steal the necklace from Leopatra’s tomb.”

Her father looked nonplussed. He planned a sting operation to catch a gang of gentlemen thieves, but had been missing one crucial bit of information. They knew the necklace on display at the national museum was the target, and they knew the gang’s usual methods for stealing objects in similar environments, but despite the many formally worded textograph messages they’d intercepted, he still didn’t know when the gang planned to strike. He cleared his throat. “My apologies dear. Please, do tell me your story.”

“Well, as you know, I was late.”

“You should make an effort to correct that dear.”

Tiffanie sighed. “I sometimes wonder if I accidentally make myself late on purpose, since I never want to be there.”

Mr. Barton’s mouth twitched up at the corner but he managed not to smile. “What does this have to do with your discovery?”

Tiffanie paused. “Sorry, I got off my train. I shall skip to the good bits, shall I?”

Mr. Barton smiled at his daughter. He was used to her somewhat muddled conversation. “Please do.”

“When I arrived I paused on the stoop to catch my breath. I didn’t want to get scolded, for I did run much of the way, and I was positively gasping. That’s when Mrs. Harrison opened the door.

“She looked quite harassed when she said, ‘Miss Barton, you’re here at last.’ So I knew Aunt Laurena must be in a right pickle at me being late. Which, of course, meant we were having tea with a rich and eligible man.

“Harrison took my hat and gloves and sighed with relief. ‘They are in the parlor miss. You best hurry.’

“Her manner made me ever so nervous, and my stomach flopped about as I walked toward the parlor door. The last time she’d looked that fagged, Aunt Laurena introduced me to the fat duke who was at least 40 and kept buying me all those flowers. You remember him Father?”

“Indeed I do. I don’t know what your aunt could have been thinking.”

“She thought he was very rich, as you well know.”

He frowned. “Indeed. Well, was it a fat duke?”

“No. I had a moment to appraise the back of his head and it was quite well formed. Unfortunately, Aunt Laurena sat in her favorite chair where she could see the doorway so I couldn’t lurk for long.  She scowled at me but quickly went into her simpering impress-the-gentleman attitude. You know how she is. ‘Ah, Tiffanie, you are here at last. Come. Sit. Meet our guest.’ She motioned to the sofa’s empty spot right next to the gentleman. I moved forward, but he turned around and about choked on his tea when he saw me. I admit, if I’d been drinking tea at that moment I would’ve had a similar reaction. Instead, I froze in my tracks and made a noise that sounded like Aunt Laurena’s old lapdog.”

“Well, who was it?” Mr. Barton interrupted.

“It was our art thief of course.”

“You’re sure?”

“Quite sure. I have seen him at least two times you know.”

“Yes. Although I don’t know how you seem to be the only one who ever runs into him. Sergeant Beckstand has only glimpsed the back of his head.”

Tiffanie grinned. “Did he tell you it was well formed?”

Mr. Barton smiled at her joke, “I still wonder how you’ve been the only one to see him.”

“You know both times happened by chance. I was in the right place at the right time.”

“Or the wrong place at the wrong time. You shouldn’t have been there at all.”

“Let’s not go into that again Father.  Do you want to learn his name or not?”

Mr. Barton sighed but motioned for his daughter to continue.

“Okay, well, I sat down. All the while Aunt Laurena scolded me for the dog noise. You know how she is. ‘What is the matter with you child? Such unladylike noises. What will our guest think?’

“She, of course, didn’t notice how ‘our guest’ mopped tea off of his tie with her best Egyptian cotton napkins. It was very hard not to laugh, I tell you. Aunt Laurena was trying to marry me off to a criminal who just spilled tea all over himself. If she only knew!

“Eventually she finished her scolding and saw fit to introduce us. ‘Tiffanie dear, this is Mr. Charles Havendish of the Saagford Havendish’s. Mr. Havendish this is my great niece Miss Barton.’”

Mr. Barton smacked the desk with his fist. “Mr. Havendish! I never would’ve guessed. We knew our thief was gentry, but he’s rich as blazes. I assumed it would be a man down on his luck. How did we not see it?”

“Well. I know how I did not see it. I’ve heard of Mr. Havendish of course, but we’ve never been introduced until today.”   

“He recognized you. Do you think he meant to put you on your guard?”

“No, he was as surprised as I. One does not usually spill tea all over one’s self you know.”

Mr. Barton chuckled. “True.” He paused, “Did you not tell me you found out when they plan to steal the necklace? Please continue.”

“Well, after introductions we sat like civilized people to enjoy our tea. Except Mr. Havendish kept smirking at me. It’s a smile that… that just, rankles. If I was a man I would have punched him.”

“You didn’t!”

Tiffanie looked affronted. “Of course not! Not in front of Aunt Laurena. I do have some sense you know.”

“I’m sorry dear. Although, I do wish those young officers had never taught you the finer points of sparing.”

“Well I didn’t punch him. I only thought about it. Which must have shown on my face, because Aunt Laurena said, ‘What is the matter with you child? You will get wrinkles if you constantly furrow your brow like that.’

I would have responded but Mr. Havendish cut me off, ‘You have a nice painting there on your mantel Mrs. Barton. It looks like a Marnet. Is it original?’

“He was obviously sporting with me. When Aunt Laurena turned toward the painting I sent him my most withering stare. He smiled at me over his teacup.

“I declare, Father, I detest the man. He’s an odious person who cased Aunt Laurena’s house right in front of me even though he knows I’m your daughter. Not to mention he kisses people when they least expect it.”

Mr. Barton jumped out of his seat. “What! He kissed you at your aunt’s house. I’ll murder the man!”

Tiffanie started in her seat. She looked a little abashed, “No, of course he didn’t kiss me at Aunt Laurena’s. Where did you get that idea?”

Mr. Barton stared down at his daughter. “Tiffanie, you just said…”

“Did I? No, I don’t think so.” She smiled and looked down at her hands. “Anyway, he did not kiss me at Aunt Laurena’s”

Mr. Barton sat down with a humph and stared across the desk at his daughter. She glanced up, then away.

“So the man did kiss you. When?”

Tiffanie squirmed in her seat. “It’s of no account.”

“When?”

“Well, if you must know it was that first time I saw him, outside the museum. You’d gone inside with your men, while I waited on the skywalk.”

“You told me he ran up with the package under his arm, doffed his hat in your direction and ran on.”

“Well he did, but between the doffing and running, he kissed me.”

“And you have been protecting him!”

“I have not been protecting him, I’ve been helping you to catch him. Have I not? Besides I didn’t want you to overreact.”

“I am not overreacting. You are my daughter and despite some of your boyish tendencies, and my work here you are a lady of good birth. I will not have you treated thus.”

Tiffanie huffed but after a pause she grinned. “Well, I suppose we better catch him then.”

“Yes, I suppose we’d better.” He shrugged a hand in her direction. “Finish your story.”

“Thank you.” Tiffanie sat back in her chair. “We talked about the painting for a while. Luckily it wasn’t a Marnet, but one of his unknown students. So Aunt Laurena’s house is safe for now. After another bit of chitchat Harrison entered with a note on a tray. She held it out to Havendish. ‘Pardon me, Sir. This message just come for you on the textograph.’

“Havendish read the message and looked pleased. Then he looked at me, and winked! I glared at him. I had to see what that note said. He placed the note in his pocket, stood up, and said. ‘I’m sorry to say I’ll have to cut our tea short today.’ He bowed at us in turn, ‘It was enchanting to meet you Miss Barton, Mrs. Barton.’

“That’s when I made my move. As he walked past me I stood as well. We collided and there was a bit of a scuffle as he tried to extract himself.” Tiffanie giggled.  “You should have seen me. I was at my best. ‘Oh! Mr. Havendish, I do apologize. Let me get that for you.’ and I made sure to brush lots of imaginary crumbs off of his jacket. Eventually he made his escape, and I got what I wanted!”

At this last statement Tiffanie held out a scrap of textograph paper.    

Mr. Barton grinned. “That’s my girl! Got the message off him then?”

Tiffanie nodded.

He took the paper and read it’s contents. “Invitations received and all have RSVP. We are ready for tonight.”

“They plan to hit the museum tonight!” Mr. Barton jumped up. “Why didn’t you say so at once, Tiffanie dear?” He bustled around his desk, grabbed his hat, and ran out of his office yelling, “Operation Gentle-thief is a go. We must act fast. They strike tonight!”  His voice had changed. When talking to Tiffanie he was a doting father. Now he was the Chief of Police commanding his men. Tiffanie followed after him. She planned on being present when they arrested Mr. Havendish.

•••

Tiffanie stood around the corner from the museum with Officer Jensen, her glorified nursemaid. She could give him the slip, but she knew when her father found out it would mean more teas with Aunt Laurena.

She’d sneaked into a cruiser with two younger officers but Mr. Barton caught her before she could follow them inside. So, instead of being part of the excitement she waited, feeling huffy. She found the clue, why should she not be present at the arrest?

Whistles and yelling came from the museum’s direction. A man ran around the corner being chased by a group of officers. Officer Jensen blew his whistle and raced forward. The man saw him coming and dodged around him.  This brought him quite close to Tiffanie. She drew her fist back and brought it forward turning it over at the last second like she’d been taught. The man doubled over, and Tiffanie saw the back of Mr. Havendish’s well-formed head. She’d punched him square in the stomach. He was still gasping as his hands were cuffed and he was shoved into a cruiser.

For a few minutes there was still some commotion as the rest of the gang was apprehended. Once all the thieves were secure Mr. Barton pushed through the crowd of officers to his daughter. “Well done my girl! We caught them red handed. I take back my words earlier. I’m grateful those officers taught you to punch so well. Officer Jensen will take you home now.”

Tiffanie started to protest but Mr. Barton cut her off. “No arguments or I’ll tell your aunt what you’ve been up to.” Her shoulders slumped but she didn’t argue. He kissed the top of her head and left to arrange their caravan back to the station.

Tiffanie looked through the window at Mr. Havendish. When they made eye contact he grinned, gave her a respectful nod, and winked.

Tiffanie stared open mouthed as the cruiser pulled away from the skywalk. She expected a humbled man, who’d been punched by a girl, but he was just as cocky as ever. She smiled to herself. This game wasn’t over yet.

The End

If you enjoyed this story learn how you can support the creation of more like it at www.patreon.com/manelleoliphant

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21. Napping Fawn Print Giveaway

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

It’s been a little while since I’ve written a post. Next week I’ll have a new illustrated story for you, but today, just for fun I wanted to have a giveaway.

Enter to win your very own “Napping Fawn Print”.

napping-fawn-print

To enter either comment on this post, or signup to receive these blog posts by email (over there on the left). You won’t get spammed or anything you’ll just get my blog posts in your email. If you are already signed up with your email just post a comment below so so I know you want to enter. You can sign up and post a comment if  you want but you’ll only be entered once.

Don’t know what to comment? Just let me know which of my blog posts has been the most useful, or fun. That way I can make more of them.

Then after you’ve commented, or signed up follow this link to facebook and like or share or comment on the post.

You have until March 11, at 12:00pm to enter.  The winner will be chosen at random next Thursday.

Good Luck.

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22. Goody Alice

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

goody-alice-finGoody Alice

A Short Story

By Manelle Oliphant

Goody Alice’s hate began on a sunny day and grew from there. Over the years she’d stoked it with all the anger and resentment she had until it burned like a bonfire, warning others to avoid her at all costs.

She lived in a ramshackle cottage at the edge of town where no one came to visit for fear they’d be turned into a rat, or worse. She spent her time hating herself, her sister Mary Anne, and Yisis. Yisis was a lizard, her familiar, who helped her with her spells. She made revenge spells, and rat spells, but sometimes she got creative and baked a cake. Then she ate it all, and hated herself more.

The day on which this story takes place is also a sunny day. Alice hated sunny days so it made it very easy to take her bonfire of hate and channel it into a new spell. This was her best one yet, and she looked forward to her long-hoped-for revenge on Mary Anne.

She added a few sheep’s eyes and swung the cauldron into the fire. “That should do it. Now we just need to let it boil.”

Yisis scurried up her arm and onto her shoulder. “Very good, very good.”

She flicked his chin with her warty finger, and sat down to wait. She imagined Mary Anne drinking the bubbling brew with delight. If all went as planned Mary Anne’s loving nature would turn upside-down. Then she’d know how it felt to hate and be hated. Alice giggled. This spell would work, unlike her many other attempts.

They heard a small click outside. Yisis crawled up her hat and squinted out the window. “Person approaches!”

Alice growled. Visitors were unwelcome and they knew it. Who would have the gall to come to her house uninvited. She slid off her stool and shuffled to the door. By the door’s frame hung a small leather purse. She grabbed it and held it ready to throw. It was her on-hand spell for turning unwanted guests into rats, frogs, or spiders, and like all of her spells, hate fueled it.

She flung the door wide and glared at the man on her stoop. His body trembled from head to foot. His fist hovered in the air, ready to knock. “A-alice M-marie Cartwright?” His voice rose to an ever higher pitch as he spoke her name.

Alice held her spell at the ready. “Who wants to know?” She would have poofed him right then except she hadn’t been called anything but Goody Alice for over 40 years.

The man held out a sealed letter. The paper flapped about in his shaking hand. “A-a letter has been l-left to you in the will of Mrs. Mary Anne B-brandon.”

Alice’s eyes narrowed. “Mary Anne is dead?”

At her harsh voice the man quavered backward. She could tell he wanted to run but he stood his ground holding out the letter. “I’m j-just the clerk ma’am. I do what I’m t-told.”

Alice glared at him, then at the letter he held out. She recognized her sister’s round handwriting giving the direction to her cottage on the edge of town.

So, Mary Anne was dead. She considered the shaking man for a few seconds more. Turning him into a rat seemed a waste of a spell. She snatched the letter from his hand and slammed the door.

He’d gotten off easy. Ten years before, Goody Alice took great pride in knowing nobody left her yard in human form. Had she become more lenient, or maybe the thrill of watching a face agonize as it turned into some kind of vermin had abated? She wasn’t sure.

Goody Alice stared at the letter in her hands. Her sister’s soft handwriting hadn’t changed over the years. Alice’s handwriting was spiky and hurried. As a girl she often got scolded for it.

She thought about the last time she’d spoken to Mary Anne.

 

The sisters sat on their father’s sunny porch reading. Alice listened to Mary Anne’s clear voice, while she fidgeted with her sleeve and wished they were finished.

A man’s voice broke through Mary Anne’s. “You read very well Miss Mary Anne.”

The young women looked up to see the handsome Jeremiah Brandon. Alice’s stomach flopped. She always felt awkward and hopeful around him. Alice and Mary Anne had stayed up many nights talking about Mr. Brandon’s kindness and good looks. Alice hoped the awkwardness would pass as she got to know him better.

Mary Anne, as always, seemed very composed. “What brings you out our way Mr. Brandon?”

Jeremiah smiled at Mary Anne. “I wonder if I could have a private word with you Miss Cartwright.”

Mary Anne smiled back. “Shall we walk a bit?”

They walked together through the gate and down the street. When they came back they were to be married.

Alice’s heart felt like it melted into the ground. She hadn’t realized during their late night talks that Mary Anne meant to steal Brandon for herself. It was the last day she ever talked to her sister.

In her gloomy cottage Alice sat down on her stool, and broke the letter’s seal.

 

My dear Alice,

If you are reading this letter I am dead. I’ve been sick for some time now, and I want to tell you how much I love you before I go. One regret of my life is that we grew apart. We were so close as children. I loved following you about the yard and playing the wonderful games you made up. You have a talent for imagination, which I never had. I wish you could meet my daughter Patience. She reminds me so much of you. Both of you are bold and fearless, something I have never been. I envy that of you.

I have lived a happy life. I hope you have found happiness on your path.

Your Sister Mary Anne Brandon

Alice’s insides deflated. Mary Anne had died, and not by her hand. Alice wanted her to suffer in life as she had suffered. She wanted her to feel bad for taking Jeremiah for herself. Sure, she’d gotten sick, but it was none of Alice’s doing. She had still been kind and happy her whole life.

She looked at the spell pot boiling over the fire. Little good it would do now. She screamed and kicked the pot. Green liquid sloshed out and fizzed in the fire. A noxious smoke poured into the room. Yisis scurried away to avoid breathing it in.

Alice screamed again. She stomped to the window and threw it open. The smoke floated from the room and wilted the tree branches outside the window. With another grunt she slammed the window shut and stomped back to her stool.

When she had calmed a little Yisis scurried onto her hat. “She did say she envied you.”

Alice jerked her head up to see him. “What?”

Yisis held tight to her hat so he wouldn’t fall off. “She said she envied you.”

Alice grunted again but picked up the letter from where she’d dropped it in her rage. She read it again. Mary Anne had envied her? Their parents often praised Mary Anne for her quiet patience. Alice always felt loud and awkward. Even so, Mary Anne had envied her.

She thought back through the years of failed spells and landed again on that sunny day when her hate began. Her heartbreak had been the spark, which fueled years of schemes for revenge. She found now, in the wake of Mary Anne’s death, the bonfire of hate she’d built up over the years had died down. Her torso felt hollow. What would she fill herself with now?

Yisis judged his mistress’ mood and decided it was safe to speak again. “She also said she loves you.”

Alice thought for a minute. She reached up and stroked Yisis under his chin. “Thank you.”

He didn’t move for a split second, then he leaned in to her finger and rubbed his face against it. She looked at him and saw a smile. He’d never smiled before. Of course, she’d never said anything nice to him before.

She looked at the remains of her boiling spell and grimaced. Making that spell, all those spells, had been a waste of time. “Yisis, lets clean this up. Today is now a cake-baking day. Maybe, I’ll even share with you.”

The End

If you enjoyed this story learn how you can support the creation of more like it at www.patreon.com/manelleoliphant

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23. Goody Alice

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

goody-alice-coverA Short Story By Manelle Oliphant

About 1530 words

Goody Alice is a witch who lives on the edge of town and thinks of spells of revenge. She spends her whole life trying to figure out how to make her sister sorry for stealing the man she wanted years before. When she gets word of her sister’s death she’ll have to find a new meaning for her life.

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24. Ode to Troll

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

troll bride coverA Short Story By Manelle Oliphant

About 200 words

This short poem with together with it’s illustration implies a story where a man was put under a spell and forced to marry a troll. As part of the celebration after the wedding he writes her love poetry, only the spell is wearing off. This is his poem.

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25. Ode to Troll

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

Hi friends,

Here’s my latest “story”. I put story in quotes because with this one it’s more of an implied story told through the image and the underlying context of a poem. The image popped into my head one day when I was thinking about how it would look if beauty and the beast were reversed. Once I’d thought of it I knew I had to make it.

As always you can download the story free for your devices on smashwords.com Just click here.

Ode to Troll

or The Troll Bride

By a guy who’s been under a spell, 
and is just now coming out of it.

Ode to Troll, A #story #poem and #illustration by Manelle Oliphant. Funny fantasy illustration.

Oh my beauteous troll-y bride,
I sit contented at your side.
I dream of all our lives will be,
And feel my stomach disagree.

You command me body and soul.
For you my heart won’t charge a toll.
My mind, my life I freely give.
It makes me wonder how I’ll live.

Luscious lashes before my eyes.
Draw from me spontaneous sighs.
Your large lips and protruding teeth,
Have me writing my last bequeath.

I stroke your wig and feel your skin.
I plant a kiss upon your chin.
I long to hold your giant hand,
And wonder why I read the banns.

My heart wilts when I think of you.
Crying would, to myself be true.
Annulment is my best retreat.
To flea from you will be a feat.

Oh my beauteous troll-y bride,
I sit uneasy by your side.
I dream of all my life will be,
After I’ve run away from thee.

The End

If you enjoyed this story learn how you can support the creation of more like it at www.patreon.com/manelleoliphant

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