Blog Archives

The Vintage Jane Austen Tour

Oh my. First off we have retellings, which I love. Second, we have Jane Austen, whom I adore. How could I say no to being involved in this blog tour?! Take a look at the beautiful covers and intriguing premises of the Vintage Jane Austen books below. I can’t wait to read them myself!

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What would it be like to see Elizabeth Bennet in 1930’s clothes? What if Emma Woodhouse was the daughter of a car dealership owner? What if Marianne Dashwood was seeking to become a movie star in the golden age of film? The Vintage Jane Austen series explores the world of Jane Austen, set in 1930’s America. Five authors took on Jane Austen’s five most popular novels and retold them set in the depression era, remaining faithful to the original plots. As an extra bonus to the series, there is a collection of short stories that were inspired by Jane Austen. Which of these books do you most want to read?

Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Emma): The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant (Sense and Sensibility): Canton, Ohio, 1935. Ellen and Marion Dashiell’s world crumbles when their father is sent to prison. Forced to relocate to a small town, what is left of their family faces a new reality where survival overshadows dreams. Sensible Ellen, struggling to hold the family together, is parted from the man she’s just learning to love, while headstrong Marion fears she will never be the actress she aspires to be. When a dashing hero enters the scene, things only grow more complicated. But could a third man hold the key to the restoration and happiness of the Dashiell family?

Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Mansfield Park): It’s March, 1937 and Faye Powell couldn’t be happier. After moving to live with her uncle, a wealthy banker, she’s fallen into the swing of life with his exuberant children–including Ed. The one she’ll never admit she’s in love with. But she hadn’t reckoned on the swanky Carters getting mixed up in that vow. Ed seems to be falling for charming, sweet Helene Carter. And when Faye’s cousin BeBe trusts her with a secret about Horace Carter, Faye is in over her head. Will she betray the confidence BeBe’s given her? Will she lose Ed to Helene? The days at Bellevere House are crowded with surprises and only time will tell how God plans to unravel Faye and Ed’s hearts.

Perception by Emily Benedict (Persuasion): Upstate New York, 1930. Thirteen years ago, Abbey Evans was persuaded to break off her engagement to a penniless soldier headed to the front lines of the Great War. A daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families could never be allowed to marry so far beneath herself. But Black Tuesday changed everything. With her family’s prominence now little more than a facade, Abbey faces the loss of her childhood home. As if that weren’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned after making his fortune – and he wants nothing to do with the young woman he courted before the war. With the past forever out of reach, the time has come for Abbey decide her own fate, before it is too late…

Presumption and Partiality by Rebekah Jones (Pride and Prejudice): Coming soon…A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice… set in 1930s Arizona.

Second Impressions: Jane Austen’s stories have inspired writers for generations…in this collection they inspire fiction across the genres!

From the English Regency to the American 1950s, in Houston or a space freighter, fairytale land or a retirement center…Austen’s timeless characters come to life again.

 

Visit these blogs during this week to find interviews, book reviews, and much more!

November 5

        Review of Emmeline – Once Upon the Ordinary

Review of Bellevere House – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Series Spotlight – A Real Writer’s Life

Interview with Kelsey Bryant – Resting Life

Series Spotlight – Kelsey’s Notebook

November 6

Interview with Sarah Holman – J. Grace Pennington

Review of Emmeline – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Mini-Reviews and interview with Sarah Scheele – Deborah O’Carroll

Interview with Rebekah Jones – Livy Lynn Blog

Review Suit and Suitability – Resting Life

November 7

Interview with Kelsey Bryant – J. Grace Pennington

Review of Perception – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Review and Interview of Perception – Purely by Faith Reviews

Review of Second Impressions – The Page Dreamer

Series Spotlight – Finding the True Fairytale

November 8

Interview and Review Suit and Suitability – Once Upon the Ordinary

Review of Suit and Suitability – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Review of Perception – A Brighter Destiny

November 9

Series Spotlight – God’s Peculiar Treasure

        Review of Second Impressions and Suit and Suitability – Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Father

Interview with Rebekah Jones – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Series Spotlight – Christian Bookshelf Reviews

November 10

Review of Suit and Suitability – With a Joyful Noise

Series Spotlight – Liv K. Fisher

Review of Second Impressions- Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Review of Perception – She Hearts Fiction

Interview with Sarah Holman – Rebekah Ashleigh

November 11

Series Spotlight – Reveries Reviews

Review of Suit and Suitability – Faith Blum

Interview with Sarah Holman – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Interview with Hannah Scheele – Peculiar on Purpose

Review of Bellevere House – Seasons of Humility

As part of this special blogging event, we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift Card.

Click the link below and enter to win:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7203fcc1112/

 

 

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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.

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

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

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CLICK HERE TO ENTER

The World of A WISH MADE OF GLASS

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

Isidore

Isidore

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.

Blessing1

Blessing

Blessing

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.

Anthony

Anthony2

Anthony

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.

Hazel

Hazel

Hazel

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 . . .

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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.

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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.

Masquerade

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.

 

 

 

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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*

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CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

A Wish Made of Glass: RELEASE DAY!

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:

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Smashwords

RELEASE EVENTS

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

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Paperback copy of A Wish Made of Glass

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 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

 

Cinderella Schemes #5: An Interview with Cameron Dokey

For my final post in the Cinderella Schemes interviews, I’m thrilled to welcome the epic Cameron Dokey. She is, as most of you are aware, the author of the acclaimed Once Upon a Time series of fairy tale retellings. She’s with us today to discuss her own spellbinding Cinderella story, Before Midnightand the universal truths we can glean from Cinderella herself.

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Was there anything in particular that sparked the idea for your retelling? What was it? How did it come about?

pumpkinThere was a very specific spark for the direction my re-telling ended up taking. I like to do quite a bit of research, reading as many variations of the “original” story as I can. One thing I discovered very quickly about Cinderella was that, in its earliest versions, her father is alive during the events of the story (though he’s not a very active character). This totally blew me away. What kind of guy lets this happen to his own daughter? I wondered. And that was the genesis for my re-telling right there.

The other thing that putting a living father back into the story accomplishes is that it also let me do some re-thinking about the stepmother and stepsisters. I don’t know that I can claim that re-thinking the stepmother/stepsisters is a completely new idea, but I really did want to sort of rehabilitate them. If we jettison the notion that the stepmother is a straight out villain, what might her motivations for “mistreating” a stepdaughter be? Could it be as simple as a series of misunderstandings, eventually sorted out? I really enjoyed that aspect of the re-telling.

What original storylines, scenes, characters or props did you feel you just had to retain from the original Cinderella to use in your own version?

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time series

One of the tricks about any re-telling is that you have to decide what you can and cannot do without. In the case of Cinderella, I think you need a ball, a glass slipper, and a pumpkin! They’re just such touchstones. And you need the stepmother and stepsisters and a prince, of course. But, as I hope I’ve successfully shown, just because you have to have them, they don’t have to behave quite the way that readers expect. Deciding what the core of the story is for you as a writer is not only fun, it also lets you decide what can stay and what might go.

What themes from Cinderella do you think resound well for readers today? What themes or lessons did you personally take away from this fairy tale?

It has always seemed to me that one of the core lessons of the Cinderella story is the notion that, eventually, you will be seen and honored (or punished) for being who you truly are. I think, even more than the “she gets the prince” angle, this is what keeps us coming back to this particular story. She is misunderstood, put upon–in many versions we would say abused–but eventually, she comes out right. She stays true to herself, and her worth is recognized. I think we’d all like to believe that this aspect of this fairy tale that could come true for us. That someone will see us for who we really are no matter what the surface might suggest, no matter what others might say about us. And that, having seen us, they will love who we are and give us the opportunity to love in return. Now that’s a happy ending!

It was an honor to visit with you, Cameron. Thanks so much for visiting Finding the True Fairy Tale!

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Find out more about Cameron and her books here:

Website     Amazon     Facebook

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BEFORE MIDNIGHT

Etienne de Brabant is brokenhearted. His wife has died in childbirth, leaving him alone with an infant daughter he Before Midnightcannot bear to name. But before he abandons her for king and court, he brings a second child to be raised alongside her, a boy whose identity he does not reveal.

The girl, La Cendrillon, and the boy, Raoul, pass sixteen years in the servants’ care until one day a very fine lady arrives with her two daughters. The lady has married La Cendrillon’s father, and her arrival changes their lives.

When an invitation to a great ball reaches the family, La Cendrillon’s new stepmother will make a decision with far-reaching effects. Her choice will lead La Cendrillon and Raoul toward their destiny — a choice that will challenge their understanding of family, test their loyalty and courage, and, ultimately, teach them who they are.

Influence Readers Needed for A WISH MADE OF GLASS

Yep. It’s that time.

Within a week, I’ll have the physical proof of my novella in my hands. If no changes are necessary (*fingers crossed/teeth gritted*) I will be announcing the official release date for A Wish Made of Glass very soon. And when I say soon . . . I mean, this little book will be releasing in the next three weeks or less. Yeah.

Sooo . . . that means I need a handful of people willing to pre-read and review my book! To those of you who are newsletter book reviewssubscribers, you’ll already know about this. Read no further! As for the rest of you, now is your chance to nab a free e-copy of A Wish Made of Glass in exchange for a simple little review!

Here are the details you’ll want to know (read carefully!):

1.) It’s a novella. Just over 25,000 words. So even though it’s a fairly short time, you won’t need to worry about it taking too long to read.

2.) The reviews must be published on both Amazon and Goodreads by the end of August at the latest, although preferably earlier (at least, as early as the Amazon listing is up). This is a big one. If there’s any question of your NOT being able to read/review/post within this time frame, please consider waiting to read the book at a later time!

3.) As you’re probably already aware, A Wish Made of Glass isn’t a light, cheery, close-to-the-original Cinderella retelling. So if that’s what you’re expecting or desiring, you may want to steer clear. Just a friendly warning 🙂

4.) I’ll be choosing between 10-15 influence readers (in addition to those who have responded to my newsletter request). So not everyone who requests to be an influencer will be accepted. I’ll try to respond to everyone who e-mails me, but if you don’t hear from me, you can assume the number of readers has already been reached!

Still interested? Here’s what to do next:

Email me at ashleew(at)zoho(dot)com and tell me 3 things:

1.) Affirm that you’ll be able to post on Amazon and Goodreads sometime before the end of the month.

2.) Give me a brief reason why you’re interested in being an influence reader for A Wish Made of Glass.

3.) Tell me your preferred type of book file: PDF or mobi (Kindle).

I’ll choose the readers within the next 2 or 3 days and get the book e-mailed out immediately after.

Thanks ever, ever so much to those of you who respond and are willing to give your time to help me in this enormous way! I appreciate it with all my heart!

Cinderella Schemes #4: An Interview with Clara Diane Thompson

Time for the fourth Cinderella author interview! This time I’m talking with the beautiful Clara Diane Thompson, the author of The Moon Master’s Ball from the Five Glass Slippers collection. I had the privilege of being an influence reader for Clara’s enchanting story (see my review here), and I truly can’t wait to read more from her.

Clara chats with me today about how she came up with a fresh angle on the original tale, and what she’s working on now!

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How difficult was it for you to come up with a fresh plot for such a well-known story? Were there any tricks you used to imagine a new angle on the theme?

It was pretty difficult to come up with something new, something that might make readers think, “Hmm. I wonder how this could possibly be a Cinderella story?” To me, the Cinderella story has always been light, a bit shallow, and completely unrealistic…even though it is a fairy tale. So I immediately started thinking of a way to change the all around mood of The Moon Master's Ballclassic story, and my imagination instantly took to a darker path. My original idea started out completely differently than how it ended up. There was a ball, an eclipse, and an insane prince living in the forest…But something just wasn’t right. There wasn’t a theme to hold the story together.

That was when I pulled out my trusty journal and found an old idea about a prisoner hidden away amongst the clowns and acts of a circus. And thus The Moon Master’s Ball was born!

What original story lines, scenes, characters or props did you feel you just had to retain from the original Cinderella, and use in your own version?

Well, obviously the slippers had to stay, and I wanted them to play a more useful roll in the story, which I think turned out nicely. Then there’s the mice–that’s where darling Scatter came from, and, of course, pumpkins. With pumpkins comes a cool, fall atmosphere that fits so perfectly with the eerie feel I was going for. Apart from there being the classic pumpkin carriage, they are mentioned several times throughout the story.

Which character(s) in your retelling did you have the most fun writing?

Oh, The Moon Master himself was my favorite to write! For some reason his scenes came so easily and naturally, I wasn’t having to drag the sentences and dialogue out of my brain! His character is just the type I love reading about, that could be why I enjoyed writing him so much.

Which character(s) in your retelling was the most difficult to write?Clara Diane Thompson

Tilly Higgins. It’s something about those main characters that get me every. Single. Time. I think it’s because I’m more detached from them, and was constantly wanting to get to the next scene with a more interesting character. Ha! But I can’t be too hard on her…after I struggled writing Tilly, she blossomed and became the timid, sweet maid I love today!

What themes from Cinderella do you think resound well for readers today? What themes or lessons did you personally take away from this fairy tale?

Personally, I think the idea of a poor, kindly girl who is treated horribly by everyone getting the gorgeous dress and the prince makes story lovers happy! Everyone enjoys a sweet hero/heroine who gets all the goodness they deserve.

As for what I took away from the fairy tale, it would have to be how Cinderella didn’t act. In the Disney cartoon, it always drove me crazy how she never stood up for herself! I’d have to say what I take away from the story is it’s never wrong to have a backbone and stand up for yourself…just so long as you’re kind while doing it.

Do you have any plans for more retellings? If so, could you give us a hint as to which fairy tale(s) they may be based on?

Ooh, goodness, yes! I’m currently working on (as I’m sure many of you are as well!) my entry for the Five Magic Spindles competition. The one thing I’ll say about this story is that it’s unlike anything I’ve attempted before. I’m a bit nervous about it! Also, I’ve got the beginnings of a Puss in Boots story brewing in my mind, which is going to be loads of fun, I hope! And then there’s Rumpelstiltskin, too….

The list is never ending!

Thank you oh, so much for hosting this interview, Ashlee! I am enthralled by the premise of your own retelling, and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

I loved visiting with you, Clara!! And I’m pretty thrilled that you’re working on some more retellings – can’t wait to read them! Thanks again!

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five glass slippersAfter her terrifying experience there several years ago, the one place young housemaid Tilly longs to avoid is Bromley’s Circus. But when kindly Lord Hollingberry begs her to deliver a message to the mysterious Moon Master hidden away among the circus dwellers, Tilly can’t refuse . . . and finds herself ensnared in a web of enchantment cast by the loathsome Mrs. Carlisle and her beautiful goddaughter.

FIND CLARA HERE:

Blog     Facebook     Goodreads

Cinderella Schemes #3: An Interview with Melanie Dickerson

Today I have the enormous privilege of chatting with Christian fairy tale author Melanie Dickerson. She has written a beautiful series of medieval fairy tale retellings which, if you haven’t read already, you most definitely should. One of those retellings (of course!) is based on the Cinderella tale. Here’s a bit more about it:

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THE CAPTIVE MAIDEN

Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. the captive maiden

So when Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten – the boy she has daydreamed about for years – is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have.

To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart.

But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

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Was there anything in particular that sparked the idea for your retelling? What was it? How did it come about?

I knew I wanted to write a story with Valten as the hero, since he was the hero’s brother in the previous book. Since Valten was such a manly character, a knight who was trained for battle, I wanted him to be able to rescue a damsel in distress, and Cinderella seemed like a great damsel in distress kind of story, so I went with it.

How difficult was it for you to come up with a fresh plot for such a well-known story? Were there any tricks you used to imagining a new angle on the theme?

I was pretty faithful to the original premise, especially in the beginning of the story, but I added my own twists, since I already had a setting and characters in place. I just tried to imagine what kind of person would want to hurt Valten and would cause my Cinderella character to flee from the ball—but I ended up having her kidnapped by Valten’s nemesis, which made it more exciting.

Name your top three fairy tales, and explain why you love them.

1. Beauty and the Beast, 2. Cinderella, 3. Sleeping Beauty, because these are the most romantic, and I love romance.

What’s unique about the Cinderella-character in your book? How is she different from the Cinderella most people think of?

My Cinderella is named Gisela, and she is tougher, more of a tomboy, and is pretty defiant toward her stepmother and stepsisters. She only puts up with them because of her beloved horses.

Name one thing in your story which is completely new and unique from the original tale.

The second villain, Ruexner, who is the hero’s nemesis and kidnaps the Cinderella character from the ball, causing her to lose her slipper in the process.

Which character(s) in your retelling did you have the most fun writing?

Gisela was probably the most fun, because she is strong and spunky.

Which character(s) in your retelling was the most difficult to write?

The evil villains are always the hardest for me to write. The stepmother and Ruexner were the hardest because they’re so mean, and I had to try to think like them in order to write their actions and their dialogue. And there was no softening in either of them, especially the stepmother, and that’s hard for me to write.

What themes from Cinderella do you think resound well for readers today? What themes or lessons did you personally take away from this fairy tale?

I think everyone can relate to feeling like they have to do more than their share of the workload, and everyone can relate to wanting something, to having a dream, like dancing with the prince and wearing a beautiful dress and having everyone stare at you and wonder who that gorgeous person is.  I like the hope this fairy tale gives, that if you hold on to your own integrity, good things will eventually come to you, if you keep believing and don’t give up.

Why do you think fairy tales (and their various rehashings) are still so wildly popular today?

I think everyone can relate to fairy tales, the whole good versus evil thing, and the reversal of fortune that happens in fairy tales, where the poor mistreated stepdaughter ends up married to the wealthy and beloved prince. Everyone prays for their own reversal of fortune story when things aren’t going so well.

Tell us about what you’re working on now.

I am working on a Little Mermaid story set in Medieval England and waiting for my Rapunzel story to come out in November, The Golden Braid.

Do you have plans for more retellings? If so, could you give us a hint as to which fairy tale(s) they may be based on?

I have a Rapunzel story releasing in November, and I have a Princess and the Pea/Beauty and the Beast story, titled The Beautiful Pretender, coming out next May, which is a sequel to The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. I also am working on a Little Mermaid story that is as yet untitled that will come out November, 2016.

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Melanie! It was a true honor!!

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FIND MELANIE HERE

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Cinderella Schemes #1: An Interview with Shonna Slayton

As a way to celebrate the release of A Wish Made of Glass, I’m doing a series of interviews with other authors who have written retellings or renditions of the Cinderella story. I’ve got some pretty spectacular authors lined up, so I hope you’ll join me every Monday from today until August 3rd.

In the first of these interviews I am hosting the lovely Shonna Slayton. She is the author of Cinderella’s Dress (June 2014) and its sequel, Cinderella’s Shoes (October 2015).

Without further ado, here’s what Shonna has to say about writing her re-vamp of this age-old tale . . .

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How difficult was it for you to come up with a fresh plot for such a well-known story? Were there any tricks you used to imagine a new angle on the theme?

My two Cinderella novels are spin-offs of the original story, told from the point of view of the descendants of all the characters. The novels are set in New York City during the 1940’s starting from around D-Day in 1944 until the summer of 1947 where I move the cast to post-WWII Europe.

I had been going through a fairy-tale binge when the ideas for Cinderella’s Dress started to take shape, but I never intended to write my own retelling. So many people had already produced such wonderful retellings that I was too intimidated to try my hand at it. Instead, I wanted to “tell the rest of the story” using the objects Cinderella might have bequeathed to her children: her dress, her glass slippers!

When I was younger my parents dragged me around to antique stores, and at the time I hated it, but now I have a fascination with old objects and the stories they silently keep. What would Cinderella’s children…grandchildren…hand writinggreat grandchildren do with her dress? Her shoes? Would the children fight over them? Would these items remain full of fairy-tale magic? If so, what could they do? These are some of the concepts that had me daydreaming a new angle for the well-known story.

What original storylines, scenes, characters or props did you feel you just had to retain from the original Cinderella to use in your own version?

During the first draft I started to parallel the Cinderella story pretty closely. Almost like a retelling where my main character, Kate, had a wicked stepmom, and she had an older sister who took advantage of her, but not far into the writing I realized that wasn’t at all what I wanted to do. I really wanted to change it up even more.

Back in medieval times there was a job called “Keeper of the Wardrobe.” As the job title suggests, a keeper maintained the clothing of the royal family. I latched onto that role and made Kate’s family the descendants of the original Keeper. They became the ones responsible for the safety of the dress. And since the 1940’s was a pivotal time in fashion, I had a lot of fun placing the story in an upscale department store, and talking about the arrival of Dior’s New Look.

Now, for the sequel, Cinderella’s Shoes, which comes out in October, I had a bit of fun with adding more references to classic Cinderella tropes. Some are obvious, but others more subtle. The story moves from New York to Europe so it seemed appropriate to add more fantasy to the sequel the closer my characters got to the source, so to speak.

What type of research, if any, did you do for your retelling? How deeply into the history of Cinderella did you dig?

I didn’t research the original Cinderella tales very much at all, since I was only taking pieces from the story. For Cinderella’s Dress I spent most of my research time learning about New York in the 1940’s, department store window dressing, and 1940’s fashions. I was thrilled to discover actual historical events to tie my plot points to. (Seriously thrilling—often gave myself goosebumps over it!)

For Cinderella’s Shoes, I dove into research of post WWII Europe. This research was a bit trickier considering much of what we know from Eastern Europe has only recently come to light. As an English speaker studying Polish history, I felt frustrated at the lack of information available compared to the wealth of information that was available for New York during this same time period. Nonetheless, I did find some fascinating bits of info that I was able to include in the story. Much of what I learned about WWII and the aftermath was quite terrible, but given that I was not writing a realistic novel like Code Name Verity, I put a lot of what I learned into the backstory of a new character, and only hinted at what she went through during the war.

Do you have plans for more retellings? If so, could you give us a hint as to which fairy tale(s) they may be based on?

I do! This summer during Camp NaNoWriMo I am writing a new fairy-tale/historical mashup, and if you check out my Pinterest boards, you could come up with a pretty good guess as to both the fairy tale and the historical time period.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Ashlee! I’ve enjoyed following your publishing adventures this past year and look forward to more fun with you.

Thanks, Shonna! Sooo fun to visit with you, as always!

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CINDERELLA’S DRESS

cinderellas dress coverKate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dress, life gets complicated.

Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart shipped off to boot camp, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.

CINDERELLA’S SHOES 

(Available Oct 6, 2015)

The war may be over, but Kate Allen’s life is still in upheaval. Not only has she discovered that Cinderella was real, but now Cinderellas Shoes by Shonna Slaytonshe’s been made Keeper of the Wardrobe, her sole responsibility to protect Cinderella’s magical dresses from the greed of the evil stepsisters’ modern descendants.

But Cinderella’s dresses are just the beginning. It turns out that the priceless glass slippers might actually exist, too, and they could hold the power to reunite lost loved ones like her father—missing in action since World War II ended. As Kate and her boyfriend, Johnny, embark on an adventure from New York to Italy and Poland in search of the mysterious slippers, they will be tested in ways they never imagined.

Because when you harness Cinderella’s magic, danger and evil are sure to follow…

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FIND SHONNA HERE

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