Advice on Writing a Fairy Tale Retelling

If you’ve ever written, or tried to write, a fairy tale retelling, you’ll know that it’s not at all the same as writing any other story. Though you have a great deal of creative license, you can’t simply take the story exactly where you want it to go. You must stick to at least a skeleton of the original tale. Your finished story must be recognizable when compared to the original, whether in theme, character, plot line, or some other way.

I know many of you are writers, and almost all of you are fairy tale admirers. So perhaps these tips on writing a fairy tale retelling will help or inspire you in some way. I observed my own method and wrote down the brainstorming process I go through before attempting a retelling.

Retelling Pic

Please do yourself a huge favor and, before anything else, research the original fairy tale. All versions of the original, in fact, because sometimes there are more than one. I love Disney as much as the next person, and if you feel it’s necessary to base your story off the Disney version, by all means go right ahead. But only after you’ve researched the original version(s). And only after you’ve come up with a very unique spin on your own retelling. Sometimes the original version opens up ideas in your mind that you never would suspect otherwise, makes you ask questions you didn’t know you had. For example: Why did Cinderella’s father (still alive, by the way, and not dead like the Disney version tells it) stand idly by and watch all the horrible things Cinderella’s stepmother put her through?

So . . . yeah. I’m aware this is a question that all authors ask about every story they write. Or so I assume. How else can you come up with something original? When writing a retelling, this part is actually simpler than when you write a unique tale. Instead of asking “what if” to questions you have to come up with to begin with, you get to ask “what if” to a theme/plot/climax that has already been written for you. Easy, right? Start by making a list of all the things you personally expect when you think of the particular fairy tale you plan on retelling.

Story: Aladdin. A central object: Magic lamp. What if: The lamp wasn’t magical? What if: The lamp wasn’t a lamp at all, but some other object? What if: The lamp didn’t contain a genie who would grant three wishes, but instead a demon who dispersed three curses? The possibilities are endless.

You need to have strong feelings about where your story takes place. Take a setting you love – or even hate – and drop your story there. What happens? How do these unique settings change elements of your story? Make the location original, detailed, even surprising. Throw it into contrast with the mood of your story, or with what would normally be expected. Write the setting almost as if it were a person, make it come alive, and make your characters engage with it and react to it in sensory ways. This is another principle that works with just about any story; however, with a fairy tale retelling it can add an extra punch simply because the original story is so very well known. That means that a fresh and unexpected setting for such a well-worn tale will have that much more fascination for the readers.

This one is done a lot, although it never seems to lose popularity. There are just so many variations that the possibilities seem endless. I did it myself in A Wish Made of Glass, writing a loose version of the Cinderella fairy tale from the POV of the stepsister. Try it yourself for the story you plan to retell. Choose a different character in the story, or perhaps create a brand new character and plunk her into the middle of the fairy tale. How do the events of the story appear to this person? How is she effected by them? Will she do something that spins the rest of the tale into an exciting new direction?

This is one of my favorites, and I used it in the most recent retelling I wrote (finished only a few days ago!). It’s pretty self-explanatory: Take the fairy tale you’d like to retell and mesh it with another fairy tale . . . or even another story that’s NOT a fairy tale. The Little Mermaid meets Blackbeard. Rapunzel meets Henry VIII. Sleeping Beauty meets Die Hard. This is so creatively attractive to me because of the wild possibilities that open up when weaving two (or more) unlikely stories together. You are forced to push both stories to the limit, bend them into unexpected shapes, watch as the characters meet each other and do unpredictable deeds. How could you NOT come up with a fun and exciting twist?

Take your fairy tale completely out of the fairy tale/fantasy genre. Maybe even take it out of the time period in which it is set. Using your imagination, before writing anything at all, just picture what the events of the given fairy tale would look like in another genre. What would happen to Hansel and Gretel if they wandered into a mysterious, remote factory run by a cyborg witch who, instead of eating them, wanted to use them as guinea pigs for cutting-edge scientific experimentation?

This is one of my favorites. Choose an element of the fairy tale as your centerpiece. Maybe it’s the magical beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk. Maybe it’s the thought of a long, enchanted slumber as in Sleeping Beauty. Or maybe it’s a particular favorite character of yours, such as the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. After you’ve chosen your centerpiece, begin building a story AROUND it. Remember to also sprinkle elements of the original story, in whatever detail or capacity you choose, as you build your NEW story. In A Wish Made of Glass, I took the glass slippers themselves and gave them supposed powers: the ability to hold their wearer’s heart within them. I included elements of the original story as well. Stepsisters who must deal with the remarriage and neglect of their parents, a loose version of a “fairy godmother” in the form of the fey folk who live in the forest, etc.

Many times after choosing a centerpiece to base your story around, ideas will begin to flood your imagination about HOW you can use that piece, whatever or whoever it may be, in unique and new ways. Brainstorm, let your imagination fly free for a while before you begin to write, and the story you come up with may surprise you.

I’m curious, have you ever dreamed of writing a fairy tale retelling? Maybe you’ve already written one (or more!). I’d love to hear about the inspiration for your story, or the story you plan to write one day. Tell me in the comments below.

A New Chapter

Friends . . . It has been a while since I’ve blogged! I’ve missed you. We have some catching up to do!


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 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 . . .?

8 Things You May Not Know About Cinderella

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Ye Xian is a ninth century Chinese version of the Cinderella story. In it, the poor stepsisters and stepmother arerhodopis punished by being crushed to death by stones in a cave.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.
  7. Giambattista Basile’s Italian version of Cinderella (Cenerentola) includes fairies (yay!).
  8. 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?




We’re All Evil Stepchildren

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?


You’ve got four more days to enter your name for this FAIRY TALE PACKAGE GIVEAWAY!




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.

Isidore child


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

fey prince
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 . . .

lord auren1
Lord Auren

Lord Auren

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.

Midland forest

Midland Forest
Midland forest

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.

Northern forest

Northern forest
Northern forest

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.

Stepmother’s gardens

Stepmother’s gardens

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.


masquerade2Oh, 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*



A Wish Made of Glass: RELEASE DAY!


A Wish Made of Glass is a story that has been through many changes. When I first began writing it, I wanted nothing more than a simple fairy tale told from an alternate point of view from the original Cinderella version I was loosely basing it upon. That’s what I got with the first draft. But, more than a year later, when I returned to the story, I saw the potential for an even deeper meaning. The changes I wanted to make were so extensive that, instead of revising the original version, I started from scratch, though I kept the main points of the original intact.

Many blissful, agonized, bleary-eyed, contented hours went into this little book, and though I enjoyed nearly every moment with these characters, I can’t say that I’m sad it is finally out of my hands and into yours!

You can find it at these locations now:

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Smashwords


So what can you expect around here now that my novella has officially released? Well, here are a few things I’ve got planned.

Fun posts. Quite soon I plan on introducing you to not only the characters from A Wish Made of Glass, but the places, etc. of my story as well. Come back next week to see pictures and hear descriptions of my little fairy tale world.

Blog tour. This will run from August 24 – 30. I’ll be posting a link to it in my sidebar as soon as the final schedule of stops comes in. Keep your eyes open!

Giveaway. Beginning on the week of the blog tour, I’ll be giving away the items pictured below. If you’ve had a chance to read the book already, you’ll understand the meaning of each of them 🙂 One lucky winner will claim all of them at the end of the blog tour!

Giveaway item1
Set of 4 custom-painted fairy tale forest cards
Giveaway item2
Butterfly masquerade mask
Paperback copy of A Wish Made of Glass


  • Purchase a copy of my book (of course!). Right now, both the eBook and the paperback are at a special discounted price which will run until around the first week of September. After that it will return to normal price. If you’ve already got a copy, consider purchasing one for a friend who may enjoy it, or even your local library.
  • After you read A Wish Made of Glass, leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.
  • Share about this novella with your friends through Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, your blog, or just plain word-of-mouth.

Thanks so much, friends, for the help you’ve already given up to now. You mean so much to me and I’m so excited to share my little book with you. Blessings.

A Release Date at Last!

A Wish Made of Glass will be releasing Friday, August 14th, 2015. Yes. As in NINE DAYS FROM NOW!

Here are the things that will be happening at this point:

Launch day. Where happy, interesting, launch-ish things happen here on my blog. If you’d like to help when the time comes, feel free to do a spotlight post on your own blog sometime during launch week, or perhaps just share the AWishMadeofGlassFinalAmazon link to my book on one (or all!) of your social media.

Blog tour. This is set for the last week of August. The guest posts are written up and I’m ready to start answering interview questions. It should be fun. Also, FYI, there’s going to be a pretty cool giveaway package during the week of the blog tour. So you should definitely check in for that, if nothing else 😉 I’ll be posting more info about the blog tour, dates, and stops in the near future.

Special price on Amazon. For the first 3 or so weeks after release, BOTH the Kindle and the paperback versions of A Wish Made of Glass will have a special sale price. If you’re already certain you’d like to read this novella, that will definitely be the time to purchase it! Also, the book will be enrolled in some sort of Amazon program (forgive me for having no clue what it’s actually called . . .) in which everyone who purchases a paperback will receive the Kindle version for free. Awesome, yes?!

Also, thanks so very much to all of you who agreed to pre-read and review the novella. I’m seeing a few reviews pop up on Goodreads and I’m so humbled and honored at your sweet and thoughtful words!


“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.” – Carlos Ruiz Zafon