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.
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*
A FAIRY TALE
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:
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!
WANT TO HELP SUPPORT MY LAUNCH?
- 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 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 Amazon 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
I wrote this short story last year for publication in the Timeless Tales fairy tale magazine and thought I’d share it on my blog for those of you who haven’t yet read it. I’ve always been fascinated by the way many Greek myths are so similar to stories from the Bible. So of course, being me, when I wrote my version of the story, I had another, deeper, meaning in mind.
If you’re unfamiliar with the original Pandora’s Box myth, you may want to refresh your memory at this link.
Hope you enjoy!
by Ashlee Willis
My father Zeus cast me from him – proof he was loveless. He locked tight the only gift he had ever given me – proof he was faithless. And he gave me in marriage to Theus – proof he held no respect for me.
Morning light slants across the tiny room and I lie awake, seeing things that aren’t there. Heaven, a silver crown to fit my head and golden streets beneath my feet. Things I should have had. Things I’ve never seen, yet somehow still yearn for. Things to make this life I’ve been dropped into seem as pale as a candle against the sun.
Theus stirs in the bed next to me, bringing me back from my bitter thoughts. When he opens his eyes, his first look is for me. Smiling, he puts a rough-skinned hand gently to my face.
I try to smile back, but I’m not sure the muscles in my face obey.
A year ago I had never seen this man. I watch as his handsome face, now so familiar, falls slightly at my cold response. He turns from me to get out of bed, and I am close behind. For there’s breakfast to make, and cleaning to do, and errands to run. I’m a wife now, the daughter of a god no more.
“Husband, fetch down that spoon there – I can’t reach it.” In one arm I carry a pot, with the other I stoke the fire beneath the stove. But my mind is far away.
Theus holds out the ladle to me, but does not let go when I grasp it. I look at him.
“I’m happy to get this spoon, as I’m happy to do your bidding in all things. I love you, Pandora,” he says in a voice quiet as a lullaby, his blue eyes bent on my face.
“Obedient,” I mutter, jerking the spoon from him and turning back to the stove.
“I said you are obedient, Theus.” My voice raises slightly, but I don’t look at him. “You were obedient to your parents when they bade you listen to Zeus. You were obedient to Zeus where he bade you marry his castoff daughter. And you are obedient to Pandora now when she bids you get her a spoon to stir your gruel. Ha.” My laugh is bitter. I can’t help it. “Look where obedience has brought you, husband.”
Now I glance over my shoulder and see something I have never seen on my husband’s face before. Anger. But only for a moment. Then it is gone, replaced with that hard-won patience he values so much. A pity, that – I had almost seen something in him to make me pay attention for once.
“Zeus commands many things,” says my husband. “But he cannot command love, not in me nor in any other man or woman alive. I love where I choose. And I love you.”
Most would think me a cold woman not to respond to those words. But most would simply not understand. In silence I spoon out the gruel into two wooden bowls and place them on the table, without once looking up at my husband.
A heavy hand falls on my shoulder. Theus pulls me around to look into his face, full of pain. “What is this about, truly, Dora? Is it the box again? I asked you not to speak of it. Zeus said we may not open it – not now or ever.”
The familiar feeling is in me again, at the mention of that infernal box. The feeling that nothing will ever be right in the world if I cannot have the gift that was meant for me – the gift that was only partially given.
Why do you keep it from me, I want to cry to my father, when you know it is meant to be mine?
Instead, I hiss, “It’s not the box. It’s only … it’s only …” My life? My freedom? My restless, hungry spirit, calling for more, more …
“I know what it is,” says Theus.
“You do?” I give him a look that says I don’t believe him.
“You long for more, Dora – you think I can’t see it? More than the life we have, more than what Zeus gave us.”
I’m shocked he’s hit at the very heart of it, but my face remains stony. “Then why don’t you do something about it?”
My voice is shot with venom, I can hear it. For a moment I think Theus will walk away from me. But then his strong arms are around me, and the wetness on my face tells me I must be crying.
“I try to give you more, Dora, I try, I try … if only you could see it.” His voice is a heartbreaking mixture of kindness and sorrow. His embrace surprises me with the comfort it gives. And it whispers of something just beyond my grasp – something that I can almost see … but not quite.
I shake my head and step away from him. “Thank you, Theus,” I say, wiping tears. And I mean it. I am thankful, in that moment, to have had the solace of his arms. I smile at him, willing him to leave. He smiles back, a smile full of love. A smile that tells me he believes in our future together.
How wrong he is. We have no future – not so long as that box glares at me every night. Not so long as my husband keeps the key to what is mine and mine alone.
After Theus is gone, I slam the cupboard door, wiping more angry tears from my face. The latch doesn’t catch, and it swings back open. So I slam it harder.
A clinking noise makes me freeze. It’s a noise only metal makes.
I am at the cupboard in half a heartbeat, scrabbling at the base of it like a dog digging for a bone. It is heavy, but I soon have it inched away from the wall with enough space for my slender arm to fit into. My fingers slide through a fine layer of dust and meet with the cold of brass.
And just like that, the key is in my hand. The key Theus tells me he has kept away out of love for me, when I know that if his love was true he would keep nothing from me.
Nor would my father have done.
This box is yours, Pandora, yours alone – but you must not open it. My father’s thunderous voice swirls into memory. And Theus’ voice follows, more softly: Some gifts are meant to protect, not plunder.
“But you should have given me more,” I insist aloud to the empty room, not knowing if I talk to father or husband. “The daughter of a god deserves more than this. So much more.”
My hands shake almost too much to fit the key into the lock. But at last the key turns and the lock opens with a heavy scrape. I have longed to hear that sound for nearly a year, although something tells me it has been much longer than that, in truth.
Without another thought, I reach for the lid and throw it back.
The world comes to an end.
A thousand banshees scream past my ears, laden with the rank odor of death and sickness. Images, creatures, even people, rush from out of the box. It is impossible. They’re horrible, all of them, beyond compare. I want to push my face into my pillow and hide, but I cannot tear my eyes away. They sweep over me, tearing at my clothes, roaring in my ears, baring their bloody teeth in my face until I am weeping and screaming like I have lost my wits.
None of them stay … they fly round the house and out the windows, crashing the panes and splintering the wood as they go. They leave me crumpled on the bed. My body is unharmed, but I am aware of a horrid throbbing, deep within me, as if there is a part of me there that I never knew about – a part of me I should have held more precious.
That part of me is torn in shreds. It will never be whole again, I think.
“Pandora.” A voice is at my ear and I jump violently. It is my husband. His eyes are red-rimmed, as if he’s been weeping too, and his hand is bewilderingly gentle on my hair. His blue eyes hold no reproach. Even so, I’m filled with shame so deep I don’t think I can live beneath the weight of it.
He does not ask, “How could you?” He does not say, “You have loosed hell on earth.” Instead he sits next to me and takes the box from my lap, looking into its emptiness.
“You will find nothing there,” I whisper. “They’ve all gone, and it’s all my doing. Zeus will strike me down now, I know, and you will be rid of a wife who was never good to you anyway. Perhaps it’s for the best.”
Theus’ dark brows come together as he shakes his head. His blue eyes pierce me, and I see tears forming in them. He is fiercely angry, I can see, and I wonder if he will strike me, or perhaps force me to leave him. An hour ago I would not have cared. Now the thought of leaving him makes me grasp at my chest, for I think I can feel my heart cracking in half.
“Even now, Dora, you do not understand, do you?” Theus’ voice shakes with emotion. “Even now you can’t see what I have tried to offer you – the more that you have always wished for.”
I am nodding, grasping wildly at his hands. “I see it, I do see it now, Theus. I swear to you. It’s only that I’m afraid I’ve lost it forever. Please … please …”
My husband looks once again into the box’s depths, then sets it down and gathers me into his arms. He kisses my forehead, then my nose, then my lips. I sob with anguish and relief.
Over my husband’s shoulder I see something tiny perched on the box’s rim. From its darkness has crawled a creature like I’ve never seen, winged and beautiful and fragile as a cobweb. It flies to me and its touch as it lands on my ear is light as the warmth of sunlight.
Then it is gone, its small wings propelling it out the shattered window, into the shattered world.
It will be crushed, I think anxiously. It will be destroyed by those other horrors. Killed even by breathing the same foul air that they do.
But then Theus looks at me, and I see the light of that bright, tiny creature within his eyes. And in joy, I laugh.
Copyright Ashlee Willis, 2014
I have been making lists and checking them twice, readying myself for both giving and receiving for Christmas this year (although giving is much more fun, as we all know!). I thought it would be amusing to look up gifts strictly in the fairy tale realm. I don’t know many people whom I’d be able to actually buy these gifts for … but how whimsical and wonderful they are, all the same!
FOR THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE
A prince frog ring? Why yes, please 🙂 And he’s so cute, who wouldn’t want to kiss him??
A castle necklace for your prince (or princess!) charming.
FOR BOOK LOVERS
This version features enhanced illustrations (150 of them!), as well as annotations that explore the historical origins, cultural context, and psychological effects of the tales (wow!). It also has a biographical essay on the lives of the two brothers Grimm.
As if E.E. Cummings isn’t awesome enough without having written a fairy tale book for his daughter … and wait till you see some of the amazingly unique illustrations in it! Eek.
I’ve been meaning to create a crochet pattern of my own for a cute and cuddly dragon for some time now. But in the meantime, this felt one is pretty adorable (not to mention organic and … ahem … a bit pricey!).
I can just imagine making these fairy tale shadow puppets dance on my wall in the light of the Christmas tree …
This tea is supposed to “induce quiet creativity.” Um, bring it on!
In anticipation of spring, a whimsical garden stepping stone.
Which is your favorite? Who would you give it to?
Once upon a time, there was an author who was very thankful for all the support she had received from her readers and reviewers. As grateful as she was, she knew that “thank you,” and lots of smiles (which no one saw anyway) could only go so far….
So she decided to give something away … no, make that two somethings. They weren’t much, but they at least said “thank you” in less of a virtual way, and in a bit more of a physical way.
Here’s the first something:
Because who in the world can’t use an Amazon gift card??!!
And here’s the second something:
Make no mistake, this game has more to it than an ordinary memory game. You can become an author, publisher or editor (um, yes!), you can create your own personal library, and you can challenge other players to a literary duel. Too much bookish fun to handle, really! If you want to travel to Missouri, I’ll even play it with you ….
Here’s the Giveaway Info
WHO QUALIFIES? Those who have read The Word Changers and posted a review of it on Amazon.
WHEN DOES THE GIVEAWAY END? It will run from today until Tuesday, November 25th (and yes, I changed the original dates I had decided on because I didn’t want it to run through Thanksgiving!).
HOW DO YOU ENTER? Simply e-mail me with the link to your Amazon review of The Word Changers, (ashleew(at)zoho(dot)com), or comment with the review link below.
HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF YOU WON? I will announce the two winners here on my blog first thing on November 26th (that’s a Wednesday, and yes, it’s the day before Thanksgiving!).
Perhaps you are in the middle of reading The Word Changers, or maybe you haven’t got a chance to start it at all yet … No fear! You have a week to finish it, write your Amazon review, and be eligible for this giveaway!
I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, readers and reviewers, for your taking the time from reading books whose authors you have at least heard of … and agreeing to read and review mine instead! 😉
Most of you probably know the importance of getting reviews for your own book, or leaving reviews for others’ books. They help potential buyers find a book to begin with, and then help them to decide whether or not it’s the book for them. Real, honest opinions from real, honest readers – for me, at least – count far more than even the book’s blurb or cover.
The Word Changers now has 55 reviews on Amazon (thanks to 55 very awesome readers!). When it reaches 60 I am going to be doing a giveaway. For what, you ask? Well, there will be an Amazon gift card involved, and something bookish and creative which I haven’t yet made a final decision on. But trust me, it will be lovely, and you will want it 😉
So my request for you is this: If you have read The Word Changers but haven’t yet left an Amazon review, hop over to their site and write one! And if you’ve been wanting to read The Word Changers but haven’t got around to it yet, get your own copy over at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords (see sidebar for links), and then leave a review. It’s just $2.99 right now in eBook (rather than its original $3.99).
If you know a friend who may like to read it, lend her your e-copy, or buy her a copy as an early Christmas present … and then ask her to leave a review as well! The more the merrier!
This opportunity will be for Amazon reviewers ONLY … and we only need 5 more reviews for me to start the giveaway! Yay! So get your review in so you can enter your name when the giveaway begins.
Ok, my shameless requests for you to read and review my book are over. But I will have you know they are just a front for what I truly want to do: THROW A GIVEAWAY! 😀
Have a great weekend, a fun Halloween … and happy reading!