Tuesday, March 24, 2020

New Book!

So, it’s been a while. And I’m still not here to talk about fairy tales; sorry. I have a website now. www.jennyprater.com

And. I own a publishing company called Wax Heart Press (www.waxheartpress.com), which I’m using for self publishing right now, but I want to publish books for other people too, eventually.

 My new poetry book is out! Here’s the announcement from my press!

Small Scars is available today in print and for Kindle! There was a slight glitch with Barnes and Noble, but the Nook edition should be available within 72 hours.
While the print edition is available through most major retailers, we would encourage you to order directly from our website, as this will yield the highest profits for the author.
However, in light of COVID-19, we would recommend ordering the digital version at this time, as we do not know if the printer will choose or be required to shut down temporarily.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Wax Heart Press

It's been a while, and this isn't about fairy tales, but I officially own a publishing company! Wax Heart Press is currently selling three chapbooks.

thin is about eating disorders and recovery, Dear Somebody is about asexuality, and Lord is about faith. All are available starting tonight!


Monday, December 2, 2019


Hello! As most of you know, I now own a small publishing company, Wax Heart Press, which will begin releasing books in 2020. This means some changes in my currently available books.
My current books are Goodbye and Other Words I Should Have Said, Avalanche: A Self Portrait in Verse, thin, Dear Somebody (print and digital), and And He Became a Handsome Prince (digital only).
As of today, all print book prices will be reduced by $1. This deal is valid through December 31, 2019. Beginning on January 1, 2020, all print books will no longer be available.. The digital versions will still be available. thin and Dear Somebody will be re-released in 2020. At this time, a date has not been set to re-release Avalanche and Goodbye; if you intend to purchase these books, I would recommend you do so in 2019.

Sunday, October 6, 2019


Hey. It’s been a few weeks.

I’ve talked before about how Patreon doesn’t work well for me, and that continues to be an issue. I have a full time job, an energetic puppy, and a house that needs a lot of work done. It’s hard to make time for writing.

So when I do make time, it makes a lot more sense to work on my books than on random short pieces to post on Patreon. Every blog, every book review, every fairy tale analysis, represents time that could have been better spent doing something else.

I enjoy writing all of those things. But I used to write them as a break from my bigger projects. Now that I feel obligated to produce one a week, it seems like it’s all I ever have time to do. It’s not a fun break anymore; it’s just one more thing I have to cram into my schedule.

I thought at least weekly updates were something I could do consistently, but that’s not going well either. No matter how much work I get done in a week, it can be summarized in a sentence or two, and looking at those couple sentences just makes me feel so unproductive. And of course it’s worse if I’ve had a bad week—the updates are just discouraging for me.

So. I tried a new system, it didn’t work, and we’re back to Patreon not being a thing that works for me. I’ll keep thinking about it, and your thoughts are welcome as well. In the meantime, check out my website—I’ve got a few short stories and poems up there that you may not have seen yet.


Sunday, September 1, 2019


All right. A break from Beauty and the Beast today, since I’m starting to run out of steam. A couple hours ago I watched Don Bluth’s Thumbelina, so I thought that would be a good fairy tale to talk about.

It’s weird; I thought I remembered this movie very clearly from my childhood, but it was almost completely unfamiliar. Thumbelina, the character, was exactly as I remembered her. But there were so many things I didn’t recognize at all, and specific things I thought I remembered, like Thumbelina’s mother (younger in my memories) and the ending scene (dozens of fairies emerging from flowers), weren’t there.

So I don’t know what I was remembering. I did some quick research, and there don’t seem to have been any other Thumbelina movies I may have confused it with.

Anyway. This, like The Princess and the Pea and The Snow Queen, is one of Hans Christian Andersen’s few straightforwardly happy stories. I reread it just now, so I haven’t had a chance to really process my thoughts yet; this’ll be a little rambly.

One thing I wasn’t expecting is that Thumbelina’s mom specifically asked for a tiny child. (And got her from a witch for 12¢.) Why would you specifically want a Polly Pocket daughter? She’d be so easy to hurt. You could step on her or knock her off a shelf. You could set a glass on top of her or vacuum her right up.

And, like, what kind of life is this poor kid gonna have? It’s gotta be hard making friends with people 12 times your size. And forget about romantic relationships. This whole story made a lot more sense before I realized that Thumbelina’s size was her mom’s idea.

Everyone wants to marry this tiny girl. A frog, then a mole. Why would they want to marry a tiny human? What’s wrong with other frogs and moles?

I’m a little concerned that Thumbelina never made it back to her mom. Everything starts when she’s taken in the night by a frog to be her son’s bride. Thumbelina escapes that and winds up stuck with a May-fly, until he decides she’s ugly because she doesn’t look like a May-fly. She spends an entire summer on her own in the forest, gets taken in by a field mouse , and spends the entire winter and following summer with her.

That’s a bit of a pattern for Andersen, actually—it happens in The Snow Queen, too. Girl with apparently loving parents takes off, goes on an adventure that takes literal years, no big.

Anyway, she’s supposed to be marrying the field mouse’s neighbor the mole, but ends up running off with a swallow, then meeting a fairy prince just her size and marrying him. And then he changes her name from Thumbelina to Maia. I don’t know what that’s about, exactly, and I haven’t been able to find any analysis in a cursory internet search. A project for another day, I suppose.

Thumbelina was published two years before The Little Mermaid. I’ve talked about The Little Mermaid before, here and here. Specifically, I’ve talked about how Andersen was depressed and felt like an outsider, in part because of his sexuality. Now, Thumbelina and The Little Mermaid are both about young women who are outsiders. But there’s a significant difference.

Thumbelina is desired for her strangeness. A frog, a bug, and a mole all want to be with her, because she is different and beautiful. For a while it seems as if she might agree to marry the mole, who can provide for her and isn't a bad person, exactly, just very, very different from her. But ultimately she chooses to go back out into the sun, and wait for the person she truly belongs with.

The Little Mermaid falls in love, makes incredible physical changes for the man she loves, and still isn't enough. She never finds love or acceptance, and eventually chooses to die rather than hurt the man she loves in order to return home.

So I wonder what happened to Andersen in those two years. He wrote a story about someone who was different and celebrated for it, who persevered and eventually found love. And then he wrote a story about someone who was different, tried and failed to fit in, and died alone.

Overall, I definitely prefer the message in Thumbelina.

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Beauty and the Beast Reviews: Liz Braswell's As Old As Time

I reread Liz Braswell’s As Old As Time on Wednesday, and it’s not a great work of literature or anything, but it sure is fun! This is a little different; it’s published by Disney, and is a retelling of Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast, not of the original fairy tale.
The premise, as advertised on the cover, is that the Enchantress who cursed the Beast is Belle’s mom. A good chunk of the story is comprised of flashbacks to when Maurice and the Enchantress (her name is Rosalind) were young, before Belle was born and when she was a baby. We have two big things happening in this back story: there’s a plague, and anyone remotely magical is being persecuted. The king and queen aren’t doing anything about either issue. So when they both die of the plague, Rosalind goes to test their son, to see if he’ll be a better ruler than his parents.
He fails. It’s possible she overreacts.
This is where a lot of the things I really love about the story come in. It addresses all the questions and concerns I had about the movie. The Beast is a 10 or 11 year old child when the curse is placed. The story and all the characters in it acknowledge that the curse was absolutely not an appropriate way to handle the situation, and was deeply unfair to both a child and a house full of servants who had nothing to do with anything. Which I really, really appreciate. The picture in the West Wing of an adult Prince is explained, too; it’s some really mean-spirited Dorian Grey crap, enchanted to show him what he would look like if he hadn’t been cursed.
Also, the Beast can read. We see him reading. I always hated the way the musical version made him illiterate; at 11 you should have learned to read. Especially as a prince. The only acceptable exception is The Whipping Boy.
So. Back to the story. Rosalind never returns home after placing the curse. She’s grabbed by the story’s Big Bad, who’s been kidnapping anyone with magic. We’ll come back to that subplot later. Her last act as she’s taken away is to set a spell that makes all normal people—including Belle and Maurice—forget about the existence of magic, to protect any of her people who are still free. Unfortunately, the Big Bad also has magic, so he remembers.
And I think that’s enough on the back story. Belle gets to the castle like usual. The change comes in the West Wing, when she manages to actually grab the rose before the Beast stops her, destroying it and any chance at breaking the curse.
(Afterwards, she points out rather callously that judging by the state of the rose, he didn’t have much time left anyway. Did he really think a girl was going to fall in love with him in the next couple months? She then proceeds to fall in love with him over the course of the next THREE DAYS. Also, the entire story, aside from the Maurice and Rosalind flashbacks, happens in three days. It’s a lot.)
This is when information about Belle’s mom starts coming out. They go through a bunch of old census records and fail to find anything about her, including her name, but they discover in the process that the local bookshop owner was in the census a few hundred years ago, and therefore probably knows something about all the magic stuff.
They head back to town to talk to him, and find him missing, with the book store burned down. We find out later that Gaston did it, and this was how he defended himself:
(A fire hazard, Gaston? Really?)
So they go to talk to Maurice next, and Belle has the Beast wait outside when she goes in the house, considering how their last meeting went. Except she never comes out; the big bad has her and Maurice now, too. The Beast sees where she’s being taken, but there are too many people for him to overpower.
He goes home for help, and finds that everyone is gone; the furniture and knick-knacks are just furniture and knick-knacks. The Beast himself has been struggling with animal instincts since the rose was destroyed; the curse is progressing.
With no other options, he goes to recruit the villagers for a rescue mission. He has the mirror, so they can see that Belle is in danger; they decide to deal with the whole Beast situation after rescuing Belle.
Meanwhile, Belle has gotten away, rescued her father, rescued her mother who’s been held her for a full decade, and released dozens of other prisoners.
And we’re into serious spoiler territory now, so I’m just gonna say the good guys win, Gaston kills the Big Bad, and everyone present is horrified, because he deserved a fair trial, Gaston!, which for some reason I just find hilarious.
Rosalind is seriously weakened by her decade of captivity. She says that the Beast isn't in danger of giving in to his animal instinct anymore because of his love for Belle. (Three days, guys!) But she has only enough power to either restore the Beast’s humanity or the humanity of all the servants. He chooses to restore everyone else’s humanity, of course, but it’s implied at the end that he and Belle are going to go on an adventure to find all the other magical people who went into hiding, and maybe one of them will be able to fix him.
Adorable awkwardness of Beast: Yes! He really gives off strong I-try-hard-but-my-life-basically-stopped-when-I-was-10 vibes. I love him!
Stand-Up-For-Herself-iness of Beauty: Good.
Human at the End: Nope.
Who Learns and Grows the Most? About equal.
Also, one more thing; have this conversation I thought was hilarious. Idk how the stove is drinking, exactly.

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Beauty and the Beast Review: Stacey Jay's Of Beast and Beauty

This book is…a lot. There are so many things to say about it.

So we’ll start with this: technically it’s sci-fi. It all takes place on another planet. None of the characters are technically aliens, but a lot of them are technically mutants, adapted to survive the new planet. But it doesn’t feel like sci-fi. It reads like a fantasy.

The second thing is a not-so-great one. Overall I really enjoy this book. I think it’s very clever. But this one thing—well. You don’t give little blind girls reading books a blind princess to relate to, then take away her blindness as part of her happy ending. That’s bad. That implies that you can’t be blind and live happy ever after.

There were people in the background—not present enough to be considered characters—who were missing both arms and legs. Who were missing chunks of their faces. Who weren’t exactly equipped to have good lives in a setting like this. And healing them, I guess I can understand better. It’s a quality of life issue. But the blind girl and the mute girl were awesome, capable characters who didn’t need to be healed to have happy endings, so to heal them feels almost cheap. It’s not solving a problem as much as it’s taking away valuable representation.

Okay. On to the good things.

The main characters are a beautiful young woman and a man described as “Monstrous.”

But it’s the man who attempts to steal a rose, the man who is held prisoner by the woman, and the man whose departure to help his family and delayed return nearly result in the woman’s death. It’s the woman who gets the transformation scene at the end when the man says “I love you.”

And all of this is done so cleverly that it doesn’t occur to you, for quite some time, that the roles have been reversed, that the woman is the Beast and the man the Beauty. Which I suppose is what comes of getting caught up in physical appearances in a story that’s literally about how deceiving physical appearances can be.

The Beauty and the Beast relationship is usually a very solitary one—just the two of them alone in an enchanted palace. Our girl here is a princess, though, and then a queen, with a court to manage and a city to care for. There’s a lot of political intrigue that a story like Beauty and the Beast doesn’t usually get into.

The story ends with the power of love bringing life to a dying planet, everyone’s disabilities erased, and everyone’s body changing in some way to better adapt to life on this planet. The characters are surprisingly nonchalant about major physical transformations. But it’s a fun story overall.

Adorable awkwardness of Beast: Sadly none

Stand-Up-For-Herself-iness of Beauty: Good

Human at the End: Not really, but that’s because a transformation did happen

Who Learns and Grows the Most? About equal

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