Author Archives: bookishashlee
So many writerly things happening lately. After being on a bit of a (if unasked-for) hiatus for a year, these past several months my imagination has felt the need to make up for lost time. After about a month of simply trying to get the skeletons of all my ideas down on paper, I finally had to take a step back and decide which one to pursue first. As you may remember from a previous post, I chose to focus on a chapter book for children (ages 7-12) and I am happy to announce today that my revisions for this story are finished at last.
You know what that means! I will be asking 2 or 3 beta readers to look over the story and offer feedback, criticism, and advice. Never having written anything in this age category before, I’ll admit I’m a little nervous of the results. But it was a story I felt I had to tell, so though it may need even more revisions, I am ready to share it with at least a few others at this point, and with everyone a short way down the road.
I wished to put off writing a full-length novel for the time being, simply because I have so many other things going on in my life that I know I don’t have the time to devote to it. Despite this, a story idea for a trilogy (YA fantasy of course!) has been stubbornly clamoring at the back of my mind for a long time now and I had to give in finally and at least write the outline for the first book . . . which led to writing the outline for the second and third books . . . which led to writing character sketches and fleshing out some scenes that I had in my mind . . . which . . . well, you get the point. This trilogy is daunting to me, and will probably not be written in full until some time in the future, but it is most certainly not an idea that is fading. The opposite, in fact. When characters start talking to you in the middle of every-day tasks on a daily basis, and when scenes play out so vividly in your head that you rush to the nearest scrap of paper to get them down, you know there’s no escaping the story.
In the meantime, to fill my time between outlining trilogies and revising a children’s book, I have also been working on some fantasy short stories which I would love to publish as a collection one day. So many of these ideas are so exciting to me, yet aren’t full enough for a novel. Answer? Put it in a short story! I’m so thrilled about some of these stories, I can’t wait to get all my ideas explored and written.
With my newly-written and revised children’s chapter book has also come my desire to add a few illustrations within the book itself. I won’t decide on this for certain until I’ve spoken with my agent and some others who have had experience to see if this is a feasible option. But it has led me lately to scouring book store aisles and Pinterest boards for samples of artwork that I admire.
Illustrations have such an impact on our feelings for a story. I’d love to know what some of your own favorite illustrations or artists are!
Also, what have you been up to this end-of-summer?
For those of you who haven’t heard, author Shonna Slayton and I have started a shiny new group on Facebook called Fairy-Tale Forum. If you’re not part of it yet, please come on over and join! We have lots of fun stuff planned, and hope to see some fun fairy-tale-ish things from the rest of you as well!
This week we have been having an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with editor and fairy-tale blogger Tahlia Kirk (Timeless Tales Magazine, anyone?!). She is so talented, I can’t even tell you. Please head over to our group and ask her whatever you’d like . . . she’s very responsive and so very fun to chat with!
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST GIVEAWAY
Also, beginning today, we have an awesome giveaway in honor of the upcoming Beauty and the Beast movie. Here’s what we’re giving away! I’m so thrilled!
Any thoughts on Beauty and the Beast in general? Where does it fall in your lineup of favorite fairy tales? Who are your favorite characters? What do you love (or not love!) about it? Will you be going to see the new movie?
Friends . . . It has been a while since I’ve blogged! I’ve missed you. We have some catching up to do!
A WISH MADE OF GLASS – AUDIOBOOK
First things first: A Wish Made of Glass has been made into an audio book!! If any of you follow my Facebook page, you will have seen my occasional posts on the exciting progress of the audiobook – what a fun process! I auditioned several narrators, and was absolutely thrilled with Keely, the lady I ended up choosing. Keely’s voice is mesmerizing and whimsical and just perfect for my little tale. I couldn’t be happier with her lovely rendition of it, and I think you’ll love it too.
I have several FREE audio books to give away, too (of course! You knew I would!). In order to receive one, you only have to do two little things for me: Write a review of it to post on Amazon, and share either your review or the link to the audio book on as many of your social media as you’re comfortable doing so. See . . . not so bad!
If you’d like to be considered for receiving a free code for the audio book, email me at email@example.com and let me know why you’re interested, and what social media you’d plan on sharing the book through (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). Preference will be given to those who also have blogs they plan to share on. If you’ve already read A Wish Made of Glass – no worries! You still qualify for receiving a free copy!
Life has thrown some huge changes at me this past year or so. Some good and some bad, including two big moves, a change in schools for my almost-10-year-old son, and a brand new job for me. Needless to say, amidst all these changes, my writing has had to sit on the back burner. That doesn’t mean that everything that has been happening to me hasn’t been grist for the mill . . . when life gets complicated and sad and stressful and unexpectedly joyful, that’s where the real stories come from! So, story ideas abound, and you’ll often find me scribbling away on the back of a receipt or church bulletin, to capture the next idea or snippet of an idea before it floats away.
About 3 or 4 months ago, when my son was having a hard night, I lay in bed with him and told him a bedtime story (something I haven’t done in ages!). That story, which was for his own courage and comfort, sparked something in me, and I couldn’t let it go. A few weeks after telling it to him, I began writing it. And just a couple weeks ago, I finished the rough draft of what is now a 14,000-word children’s book. Yes, it’s different from what I’m used to writing. But still fantasy, still full of fun and whimsy and even some heartbreak. I’m so excited to be able to do my preliminary revisions and then gather a few beta readers to help me on the next step to publishing this story.
Tell me what this near year has been like for you so far . . .?
Before I wrote my own version of Cinderella, I researched the “original” versions of it. Surprisingly, there are several, and this story I thought I knew so well actually goes back further than I ever dreamed.
I took several of the elements I liked the most from the old tales, added quite a few elements of my very own and, in the end, mixed them up and simply wrote the story I wanted to write. A Wish Made of Glass is not a strict retelling of Cinderella by any means. Still, it was fun to discover some of the unknown-to-me details of this apparently rather ancient story, not to mention some fun facts about items or things that happen within the tale. Here are a few you might find rather intriguing:
- The story of Rhodopis is considered to be the earliest version of the Cinderella story (published 7 BC). It’s about a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Egypt.
- Ye Xian is a ninth century Chinese version of the Cinderella story. In it, the poor stepsisters and stepmother are punished by being crushed to death by stones in a cave.
- It was common for servants and scullions to be soiled with ash in the days of the first Cinderella versions, partly because of the natural dirtiness of their work, and partly because they lived in cold conditions and had to draw very close to the fire to get warm.
- According to mechanical engineers, it would have taken specially-made glass, or what we call “safety glass” today, for Cinderella’s slippers to have withstood the strain of her walking and dancing, not to mention running from the ball at the stroke of midnight . . . Of course, we know that the slippers were made from magic, so of course there was never any real danger they’d break – right?
- One of the earlier versions of Cinderella was Charles Perrault’s rendition (Cindrillon, 1697), in which the famous slippers were made of glass. However, in the Brothers Grimm version (1812), the glass slippers are not glass at all, but “pure gold.”
- In Perrault’s version, Cinderella forgives her stepsisters. In the Brothers Grimm version, however, the stepsisters undergo cruel punishment in the form of blindness. If you think that’s bad, the first German version is worst of all, in which the stepsisters are condemned to dance with metal red-hot shoes until they are dead.
- Giambattista Basile’s Italian version of Cinderella (Cenerentola) includes fairies (yay!).
- Perrault put his own touch on the Cinderella story by choosing lizards to become the footmen. In his time, it was a known and laughed-at fact that footmen were lazy. The image of a lizard lying motionless in the sun apparently brought to Perrault’s mind the idea of a lazy footman. Perrault is also the one credited with adding the pumpkin and the fairy godmother to the original tale. What would the Cinderella story be without those classic touches?!
Do you know any details, ancient or modern, of the Cinderella tale that are little known or simply extremely interesting? What are they?
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Cinderella has never been one of my favorite fairy tales. Maybe that’s because its familiarity through the years has turned it a bit drab for me. Maybe it’s because the danger isn’t fierce enough or the stakes aren’t high enough.
Or maybe . . . maybe it’s because I can’t relate to a girl who is nothing more than a victim. A girl with a princess-like beauty whom never does anything wrong except in the eyes of her “evil” step-mother and stepsisters. A girl whose beauty and mere lack of evil are all it take for her to win not only a prince, but a kingdom.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely do things wrong. A lot. I say the wrong things, I’m clumsy, I’m impatient, I’m unkind, I’m none-too-beautiful. Basically, I’m human. How could I possibly write a story about a girl like Cinderella? I’m not qualified. I can’t understand her. I’ve never even been able to care much about her, try as I might.
So when considering retelling this story, I decided I wouldn’t write about Cinderella at all. Simple as that.
Instead, I wrote through the eyes of somebody I could understand: the stepsister (in my story, there’s just one). As a teen who went through some rough times, I often felt like the freak, the ugly, awkward girl, the misunderstood girl, the girl who used sarcasm like a shield, the girl people were uncomfortable having around because of her random bursts of emotion and sometimes rather brutal honesty. The girl . . . well, you get the picture.
Evil. Many times that’s how I felt. That’s what I believed people thought of me. That’s how they seemed to look at me. Therefore that’s what I began to believe I was in truth. Evil. Warped.
Then God stepped in. He had had enough.
“You’re not evil,” He whispered to me. “Your heart is beautiful and kind and loving. It is desirable to Me.”
The things I had never been able to see before because of my own blindness and self-loathing became apparent when God showed them to me through His eyes, through His grace. But then, that’s natural, isn’t it? That’s how it’s supposed to happen, the rescuing of our souls. My heart is beautiful because it’s God’s. My kindness and love are really only an extension of God’s own kindness and love.
When I began to think back on my own love story with God, I knew I must make it a part of this story I was writing. I have never been a Cinderella, ready from birth for Heaven. I needed redemption. I need redemption on a daily basis. But not from an evil stepmother or stepsisters. Not from any outside source of oppression. No, I needed saving from myself, and from the person Satan has plans for me to become. Because I am the evil stepsister. Or at least I was . . .
Those are the times God patiently reminds me that I am now His true daughter – a stepchild no longer.
When He took me in I became a princess in truth, and I share in a Kingdom more beautiful than any prince could have offered Cinderella. Right now I can’t always see that Kingdom, though it’s both in me and all around me. Sometimes I catch glimpses of it clearly, sometimes I only feel its nearness. But someday I plan on living there and claiming my happy-ever-after once and for all.
Tell me, what fairy tale could be better than that?
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Instead of simply introducing the characters in A Wish Made of Glass, I thought I’d go a little further and give you a peek into some of the enchanting places and settings in my story as well. I saw them all so clearly as I wrote them, people and places and props alike, it was such a pleasure to find images that mirrored what was in my imagination already, and now show and describe them to you.
Welcome to the world of A Wish Made of Glass.
She is the one who tells this story. She is the stepsister, the outsider, the stormy and dark protagonist who is, in fact, her own worst enemy. Yet I’ve always found that, in both books and real life, people who have known the greatest pain and heartbreak have the largest capacity for joy and love.
Here is the girl on whom the actual Cinderella character is based. Although soft-hearted and soft-spoken, don’t be fooled. Blessing has real struggles of her own, too.
Isidore’s father’s heart has a huge amount of love for everyone, his daughter most of all. It’s a love that means so much to Isidore that she doesn’t want to share it with anyone – not even her beloved new stepsister, Blessing, much to her father’s heartbreak.
After Isidore’s mother dies, her father hires a nursemaid: Hazel. Isidore wouldn’t have been the same without her dear maid, who becomes more of a mother and friend to her than anything else. This tale-weaving, long-suffering, opinionated lady supports Isidore through every heartache and joy.
The fey man
He’s ageless, as are all the fey folk. He’s completely unfamiliar, yet Isidore feels she knows him somehow. He’s one of the fey creatures who live hidden in the forest. I saw him clearly in my mind as I wrote him, although finding an image that looks like him was extremely difficult! I suppose this picture will have to suffice . . .
The mysterious young lord who holds a ball, rumored to be searching for a wife. He is young and kind-hearted and rather shy, but most assuredly knows his own mind and is a true lord of the manor.
This is the place Isidore grew up, the place she first met and danced with the fey folk as a little girl. The trees here are, “squat, woven-trunked, whispering things” which make up much of the fabric of Isidore’s childhood, just as the fey themselves do. Green and moss-covered and full to the brim with whimsy and magic and memories, the Midland forest is a true fairy tale wood.
Different entirely from the Midland forest, the trees in the North are “straight and proud and tall. They wear their leaves like a gathering of giant kings donning their crowns.” Isidore soon learns the invisible paths in this wood, which lays just beyond the garden hedge of her new home. She wanders here often, seeking comfort when heartache starts to haunt her. The forest’s cold stillness echoes her own heart.
Although Isidore may not be enchanted with her new home in the North, the gardens surrounding it are another story, especially after all the memories she and Blessing make together there, playing tag and whispering sisterly secrets.
Oh, the masquerade. How fun, honestly? I’ve always wanted to go to one. Second best: writing about one. Lord Auren throws a masquerade in an attempt to find a bride. Does he succeed in finding the woman he could love among the masked attendees? You’ll have to read the story to find out . . . In the meantime, check out the Pinterest board of masks I created, some of which inspired descriptions in my novella.
Enter to win this fairy tale package giveaway (Aug 24-30) which includes a masquerade mask, a signed paperback copy of A Wish Made of Glass, and a set of 5 custom-painted enchanted forest greeting cards.
*Only US addressees may enter*