What I’ve Been Watching

2021, like 2020, is already turning out to be a TV-heavy year for me. Here are a few mini-reviews of some of the stories that have been gracing my screen lately…

WandaVision

WandaVision review: A boldly surreal new direction for the MCU ... or is  it? | EW.com

Like, of course. Along with everybody else, my family would gather ’round Friday nights for our weekly episodes. I really liked this one. As someone who grew up with a lot of old sitcoms, I LOVED the references! However, I think the later episodes are actually better, and have I mentioned I love Vision?

Because I really do.

Paul Bettany's 'WandaVision' Performance in Episode 2 of Disney+ Show |  TVLine

I have so much respect for Marvel for willing to go so bonkers with the whole thing. Also, as a kid I was obsessed with watching Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s movies, so I do think it’s funny that as an adult I’m now just as obsessed with their younger sister’s, lol.

WandaVision Episode 9: Vision vs Vision, rise of the Scarlet Witch and the  Darkhold headline an emotional finale

Fringe

Where are the cast of Fringe now?

I started season 3 this January and WHAT A RIDE. While I wasn’t a fan of a few of the plot twists, there were some things that I absolutely adored (mainly the whole concept of the Observers, especially in the earlier seasons). It took me a while to warm up to Oliva, but I loved Peter and Astrid almost immediately, and I may or may not have named my new used car after Walter.

Walter bishop GIF - Find on GIFER

(I did so for a variety of reasons which include the fact it’s an old car with newer tech installed which means it can do fun things like hook up to Spotify but has no clock or working air-conditioning. plus it has a semi-permanent gasoline smell that I fear is killing my brain cells)

Miss Scarlet and the Duke

Miss Scarlet and the Duke Review: A Placidly Pleasant Victorian Crime  Series - Paste

I hadn’t watched a good period drama TV show in awhile, so I jumped on this one when it came on PBS. Ultimately I found it underwhelming, but by the time I’d decided that it was only meh I was already halfway through the show (there are only six episodes) so I figured I might as well finish. (I have a hard time leaving any show, no matter how bad, unfinished) It ended better than it began, and I actually will probably try season 2. My main complaint was that I found most of the characters frustrating & and there was waaay too much bickering (and not the fun kind).

All the Stargates!

Rediscovering Stargate: Coming Back To SG-1, 20 Years Later » GateWorld

I watched all ten seasons of SG-1 last summer, and then started Atlantis; I didn’t get into the latter at first but then I tried picking it up again in January and got sucked in. SG-1 is still my favorite, but I did enjoy Atlantis!

Also I cannot BELIEVE that it actually made me care about Rodney McKay of all people, who I despised in SG-1.

(my favorite character is definitely Carson Beckett, though.)

Most recently, I finished Stargate: Universe, which is definitely not as good as the other two. That being said, the second season was really starting to get better (I found the last four episodes or so particularly compelling) and despite complaining about the show nearly the whole time, I was still unreasonably irritated that it got cancelled.

Fan Tries Kickstarter For Syfy Stargate Universe Season 3 | The Mary Sue

Debris

Debris' Sets Premiere Date As Creator Of New NBC Sci-Fi Drama Draws  Parallels To “Fringe – TCA – Deadline

My newest TV venture, this show recently premiered and only has about three episodes so far. Most of the reviews on IMBD have been pretty lukewarm, but I’ve actually been really enjoying it. I like the premise a lot, and I actually like the characters (which is rare for me, especially in the first episodes of a new show). Hopefully it will only continue to get better.

(If you’re wondering, like I did, why the main actress looks vaguely familiar, I finally realized she played Queen Nefertiti in that one Doctor Who episode with the dinosaurs on a spaceship, lol)

I also finished Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego (cause why not) and, of course, I’ve most recently begun The Falcon and the Winter Soldier! What have you all been watching lately?

Falcon And The Winter Soldier GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I know that most of us are all being sucked in to Disney+’s Marvel shows, but have any of you newly discovered any older shows that previously escaped your notice? How about some newer stuff you think is underrated?

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Choose Your Own Adventure- FTC Tag 2021!

It’s that time of year again! February is the month we at the fairy tale central spotlight fairy tales in general, and we always like to kick things off with a tag! Here are my answers, and if you’re interested in doing the tag yourself, you can find it here.

The Choose-You-Own-Adventure Fairy Tale Tag

– Your father the king has declared a contest for your hand in marriage. But he’s allowing you to decide what kind of competition it will be. What do you choose? Is there a penalty for losing, or do the losers just go home while the winner remains to marry you?

All my suitors compete on…

Image result for the price is right intro gif

The Price is Right.

Losers have to work a year in retail.

– You’ve just been told that you’re the Chosen One – the heir to your kingdom’s throne. Of course you demanded proof, but you didn’t expect quite so much of it to be brought forward. You grudgingly ask the state of the land. Your kingdom is at war with two neighboring kingdoms, a third kingdom is expecting your kingdom to ally with theirs and help them fight in agreement with an old treaty, there is famine in two counties in the north, and the barons of the kingdom are fighting over who will supply the palace with food for the next year. What do you do first?

I suppose I’d go with the famine, since it would be hard to get anything done with the war while everyone is starving. Maybe those barons who want to supply the castle can help out there, if suitably rewarded for their generosity?

– You’ve set off to find your fortune but end up caught in a storm in the middle of the night in an enchanted forest…and there’s an ominous growl emitting from the trees. A warm looking cottage sits nearby but you’ve heard that questionable figures dwell in this wood. What’s your plan of action?

The cottage. I’m willing to deal with questionable figures as long as I’m not wet and cold!

– It is time to christen your dear new baby. It’s expected to invite the local fairies but they’re known for “gifting” babies with less-than-desirable characteristics (Ella Enchanted-style). Do you invite them anyway or “accidentally” forget to send out an invitation and risk the wrath of the petty (but powerful) fairy-kind upon your kingdom?

I’d invite them but tell them that our royalty has become too arrogant and proud to deserve any great fairy gift; just the fairies’ presence would enough of an honor. With enough groveling, maybe they’d accept it? As long as I implied they were too great and we too low to deserve gifts, rather than that I didn’t want them.

– Your fairy godmother grants the choice of three gowns for your one chance to meet the prince at the ball: a dress the color of the golden sun, a dress the color of the silver moon, or a dress the color of the sky. Which dress do you choose?

THIS IS SO HARD! But ultimately I’d go with a dress the color of the sky, because the sky can have all sorts of different moods- sometimes its would be a starry night, sometimes a sunset, sometimes a clear blue with swirls of white, sometimes a stormy gray. A dress that changes with the sky would be amazing!

– Your cursed beloved tells you that only when he marries a true-blood princess will he be set free. Do you choose to aid him by finding a princess that can set him free from his horrible curse? Or do you visit the witch of the forest and make a deal with her to become a princess – but you will only get to be with your prince one day a year.

Well, how much do I love him, lol? To be honest, I can see myself helping him find a princess rather than going to a witch. With luck, maybe on the journey I’ll find out I was a real princess all along?

– You’ve just completed a fairy tale adventure worthy to join the ranks of the world’s greatest legends. Alas, the kingdom’s most famous minstrel is also notorious for adding his own embellishments. Would you rather have your story lost to the world, your name and deeds forgotten, or to be known as a hero throughout the land…just in a very inaccurate and mangled version of the story?

Well, is it a good song? In that case, ah, go ahead. I don’t mind being so much of a legend of which no one actually knows the true story, I guess. Maybe there’s even more privacy that way. I kinda like the ideas of scholars to come arguing endlessly about what *actually* happened to me.

Image result for bard gif

– You’ve just been approached by a man in a pointy hat who says you’re the chosen one destined to save a magical world. Before you enter the portal to this new world, you are allowed to take one piece of modern technology with you. What do you choose?

Not to be too American with my answer, but…A gun. Do you know how much easier it would be to fight bad guys when you’ve got more than bows, arrows, and swords?

Image result for indiana jones gif

– Your parents have angered a powerful witch in your land, and she has chosen to strike out at you to punish your parents. However, since you weren’t the one who actually angered her, she’s letting you choose your own fate: 1) sleep for 100 years and leave your parents to die of old age while you sleep, 2) be locked alone in a faraway tower so your parents will never find you, 3) lose your voice so you’ll never be able to speak to your parents, or 4) give you a fatal golden touch so that you can’t hug your parents lest you turn them into statutes.

Lose my voice- at least we’d still be together! After a while, we’d probably get pretty good at charades.

– You just found out that you have a twin, and you two were separated from birth because an ancient prophecy claimed one of you would bring ruin upon the kingdom. Are you the prophesied twin of ruin, or is it your brother/sister? How do you figure that out, and what do you and your twin decide to do about it?

Well, outrunning and outsmarting prophecies never seem to work, so unless my twin had super major red flags, I’d just say we should both go about our lives and see what happens. haHA maybe I’m just an archaeologist and I bring some ruins to the kingdom museum, huh? How’s THAT for outsmarting a prophecy?

Image result for archaeologist gif

Well, thank you for joining me on this adventurous journey! Don’t forget to check out more fun on The Fairy Tale Central this month, including story wishlists for some of our earlier fairy tale spotlights!

reflections

What a mixed bag this year has been. Quarantine has, in fact, been the least stressful part of it. The stress has come from life switching back between highs and lows at a frustrating pace.

I got a job.
I lost three family members.
My sister got married.
I had a major(ish?) health scare.
I wrote a novel.

This year has been one of changes, most of them major. I don’t like change.

(speaking of which, eww, what are these new WordPress sponsored posts?)

Perhaps I coped with a little too much TV. (Watching all ten seasons of Stargate: SG-1 in like three months? Rewatching every episode of Agents of Shield? That’s just the tip of the iceberg.)

I’ve felt a lot like Bilbo this year- like too little butter scraped over too much bread. (I’m paraphrasing, but you get it).

But even through it all, God has been good.

Sometimes, that’s something I have to repeat as if to convince myself. Sometimes, it’s something that’s so clear and obvious I wonder how I can ever doubt it. Yet either way, it’s true. It’s true, even when my feelings don’t confirm it. And it’s true when my feelings do.

Lord high and holy
Lord meek and lowly
You have brought me to the valley of vision
Where I live in the depths
But see You in the heights
Hemmed in by the mountains of sin
So I behold Your glory

Let me learn by paradox
The way down is the way up
That to be low is to be high
And that the valley
The valley’s the place of vision

Lord in the daytime
Stars can be seen from
From the deepest, oh, the deepest wells
And the deeper the wells, the brighter Your stars shine
Hemmed in by the mountains of sin
So I behold Your glory
As I behold Your glory

May you all have a happy & blessed new year. 💖

Me? Doing NaNo? It’s More Likely Than You’d Think.

Yikes, guys. Do you know how long it’s been since I posted?

A long time.

To be fair, this has been a particularly terrible & stressful year, not just in general, but for me and my family personally.

So of course, in all this craziness…why wouldn’t I do NaNo?

It’s actually going really well, which is saying something, since I only decided I was going to do it on the afternoon of October 31st with an idea I got on the spot.

I don’t want to share too much about it, because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done (it’s a flat-out fantasy, and much more darker + spiritual + allegorical than my normal fare) but it’s also 100% me (another spin on Beauty and the Beast! Tons of folkloric and historical references! A very creepy forest!).

It’s also weirdly 2020 in content, something I didn’t realize until a few days ago when I was struck by just how much my story revolves around…masks.

The masquerade kind, though. But still.

(and yesterday I clocked in 25,00 words–right on schedule! hooray! please throw confetti)

What to Read on Kindle Unlimited

So, with current events being…well, what they are, some of us may be hunkering down and staying home a lot more than usual. And what better way to pass the time than by some reading? If you’re an ebook type of person (and even if you’re not) this might be a great time to try a free trial of Kindle Unlimited!

The subscription is normally about $10 a month and gives you access to a library of ebooks to read, but you can usually get a month of it free first. (I got a free trial back when I started reviewing for The Fairy Tale Central, and after the trial was over and I cancelled they were like, “Wait! Come back! We’ll give you three months for 99₵!” so I did that and then cancelled. And then they were like “WAIT! It’s the new year…how about another three months for 99₵?” So I’ve literally gotten seven months of Kindle Unlimited for two bucks. Not a bad deal.)

I’m actually NOT a fan of ebooks at all, but I’ve actually really utilized this subscription because if it’s free, I want to get my money’s worth. (I know, I know…just go with it)

BUT it’s not always easy to find good books on Kindle Unlimited. So here are, in the seven months since I’ve been on there, some of the authors & novels I’ve really enjoyed:

39791122. sy475 W.R. Gingell

I’d already read some of her fairy tale retellings, but Kindle unlimited introduced me to W.R. Gingell’s urban fantasy City Between series and I’m HOOKED. They were my favorite reads of 2019 and are hilarious but also heartbreaking, which of course is the best combination.

Kate Stradling Goldmayne: A Fairy Tale by [Stradling, Kate]

Kate Stradling is a recent find—and by recent I mean I read my first book of hers last month!—but I simply haven’t been able to stop reading her novels. I started off with The Legendary Inge, a Beowulf-inspired fantasy, and have ended with her Ruses series. My absolute favorite so far, however, has been Goldmayne—an unusual and fun fairy tale retelling that’s much different than any others I’ve read before, yet still manages to capture the “feel” of the classic fairy tales I grew up on.

Princess of Shadows: The Princess and the Pea Retold (Fairy Tale Adventures Book 1) by [Marshall, A. G.]A.G. Marshall

A.G. Marshall has written some of my very favorite fairy tale retellings—I highly recommend her Fairy Tale Adventures series. And, if you’re looking for a shorter read, her short stories are amazing as well. I’m particularly fond of The Bruised Princess and The Curse of Gold! (Incidentally, these stories are both included in a collection the author recently released.)

K.M. SheaBeauty and the Beast (Timeless Fairy Tales Book 1) by [Shea, K. M.]

Even though K.M. Shea is a name I’ve heard a LOT in the indie community, for some reason it’s only recently that I’ve dived into her novels, and I’m pleased to say they live up to the hype! While I enjoyed her Beauty and the Beast, I admit that right now what I’m really invested in is her urban fantasy series, which is loosely inspired by the Donkeyskin tale. (The next book comes out late this month, and I’m impatiently waiting!)

The Firethorn Crown (Firethorn Chronicles Book 1) by [Doué, Lea]Lea Doué

So far, I’ve only read The Firethorn Crown, the first book in this author’s Firethorn Chronicles. (I actually own the next books from free promotions, so I’m waiting to get to them after my KU subscription is over). However, that was enough to know that if you love fairy tale retellings, you’re going to enjoy these. The first book is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and I’m especially excited to start the second book, because it’s inspired by a Midsummer Night’s Dream!

Britain Kalai Soderquist Glass Roses: A Victorian Fairytale by [Soderquist, Britain Kalai]

So full disclosure: I haven’t actually read this book yet. But Glass Roses is a retelling of both Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, told through letters and set in the Victorian era! It’s a great historical fiction and non-magical option for some fairy tale retellings! (the author has also recently released Apple Blossoms, a retelling of two more fairy tales written in the same manner)

A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England Book #1) by [White, Roseanna M.] Roseanna M. White

Speaking of my historical fiction fans: I just realized that the first book in Roseanna M. White’s Shadows over England series is available on Kindle Unlimited! I enjoyed the whole series, though the first book, A Name Unknown, is by far my favorite. I highly recommend checking it out for a WW1-centered read that involves former thieves, spies, and sweet romance!

And for my fellow fairy tale retelling fanatics, I also recommend looking up Melanie Cellier, Kyle Robert Shultz, Allison Tebo, Nina Clare, and Brittany Fitcher, who’ve all written outrageously fun retellings available on Kindle Unlimited. (And Allison Tebo’s comedic novellas may be an especially good choice for any of my younger readers looking for a squeaky-clean fairy tale retelling!)

And, of course, I’ll end with a shameless plug: you can find my 1920s Snow White JanuarySnowFINALnretelling January Snow on Kindle Unlimited, as well as my ghost story novelette, For Elise. And even if you don’t have a subscription, you can still find my Rapunzel retelling, With Blossoms Gold, for free in the Once collection, along with five other historically-inspired retellings.

Also: don’t want kindle unlimited? Or you’ve already used up your free trial? Check with your library online to see if they have ebooks! My library system uses Hoopla Digital, which has a pretty good variety of books, movies, and comics to check out online for free. And don’t forget that a lot of classic Christian theology books are also available for free online–if you can’t go out to the library, rest assured that the internet, for all its faults, can bring the library to you!

*also, an obligatory disclaimer: while all authors/books I mention here could be described as “clean,” I haven’t read *every* book by these authors, and so cannot vouchsafe for all of their novels. All books mentioned in this post vary in rating from G to PG-13, so use your own discretion!

Aside from reading and  Netflix (or Disney+), do any of you have an introvert-ish plans for our Coronavirus-fueled social distancing? What are your favorite reads that you’ve found on Kindle Unlimited?

Books I Wrote as a Kid

Did you guys write a lot as a kid? I know I did. In fact, when I was a child, the first thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was an artist, so I could draw my own stories. (Spelling was too hard back then–I would never be able to finish a story if I had to pause and ask my mother how to spell every other word!)

But once I did start writing, I didn’t stop. In looking through my old journals and notebooks, I couldn’t help but be amused at my early attempts at fiction…

…and so decided to share them.

#1: The Island

Okay….I don’t actually know what the title of this one was, because it is the name of the story I infamously shredded and burned later, but it was basically born out of my obsession with Swiss Family Robinson and the whole idea of being stranded on a deserted island, which has been a particular favorite daydream of mine since I was a small child. Seriously, if there was any type of story about surviving alone on an island (Island of the Blue Dolphins, Flight 29 Down, etc.) I. Ate. It. Up. Which is funny, since I’m not an outdoor person…at all.

Image result for leverage quote outside

However, I love being by myself, so the whole “deserted” part of the “island” was, I guess, the attractive part, as well as the self-sufficiency. The story was basically about a group of kids my age at the time (that is, between the ages of 9 and 10) who get stranded on an island through means I cannot precisely remember, and have to work together to survive and find their way back home. I found this story again when I was 13 and was so horrified by my misspelled words, childish sentence structure, and overdramatic dialogue that I destroyed it.

I learned two things from this book:

  1. 9-year-old kids are generally not as smart as 9-year-old me thought and probably would not do very well on an island all by themselves….BUT a story about such improbably mature kids would probably be greatly enjoyed by fellow 9-year-olds. (If I was able to write about improbably mature nine-year-olds at that age…then was I an improbably mature nine-year-old? The world may never know.)
  2. I learned that I love writing about teamwork, and groups of bickering, diverse people who have to learn to work together. This hasn’t changed in the 14 years since I first wrote this story.

(also, should I watch Lost? Because I feel like I should watch Lost. I just….have heard about the ending, so ???)

#2: The Mystery of The China Shop

A mystery set in the 1940s. This one was handwritten between the pages of a tiny composition notebook heavily decorated with Lisa Frank stickers.

I also illustrated it with colored pencil drawings. This one had to be written within a year or two of The Island and was probably heavily influenced by the American Girl history mysteries.

I actually found and re-read this one because all I could remember about it was that my heroine’s older brother had a picture of Hitler on his wall that he would throw darts at. Because obviously no historical fiction book set during the 40s is complete without a little bit of obligatory Hitler-hate.

#3: Grace

I had completely forgotten about this one until I accidentally found it looking for The Mystery of the China Shop. It says “2005” at the beginning, which meant I was about 11 at the time of writing. It was about a girl named Grace (duh) who had a big family (because apparently I only know how to write about big families) and had to deal with starting school when (gasp!) her mom was going to be TEACHING AT THE SAME SCHOOL SHE ATTENDED. This is something I actually knew about (In the first grade, the only year I attended public school, my mother taught third grade across the hall from my classroom). There was also a new girl at the school, I think, and somebody had a wedding. I never got to go to any weddings as a kid, so I think I was living vicariously through the story at that point. (I just wanted to save the wedding rings like Ramona did in Ramona Forever, okay? *looks over at my newly engaged younger sister*) Overall, there was not much of a plot.

However, I still had room in my little notebook after I’d finished the story, so I used up the rest of the pages for a little picture book about my sister. Using gel pens, of course.

There was also a picture book I wrote in the back about the history of the United States of America called America the Beautiful because I am, and always have been, a history nerd.

#4: The Stevens

That isn’t actually the real title- I might have come up with this one when I was 12, but the title was actually really good and….I kind of want to save it and use it someday. I’m actually still quite fond of this one and its characters. It was set during the Civil War about this large, eccentric family living in the south who was generally so eccentric and weird (but also from old money) that they could get away with suspicious stuff…like helping runaway slaves escape to freedom. Sadly, this book didn’t have a lot of great writing in it, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to give up on this story completely, even though I know it’s been permanently buried in the story graveyard. Some of the scenes and plot points actually hold up after a decade’s inspection.

#5: Finding Adelaide

Oh man, here’s where I really decided to get serious and write a Grown Up Novel. This one was started when I was 13, around the time I started reading Christian Historical Fiction. It’s fairly obvious in that I was way too influenced by that genre, but I did have some good ideas of my own. The plot also grew out of my slight annoyance that such fiction has where ALL arranged marriages are always horrible and must be avoided at all costs–like, didn’t they work out sometimes? Why are all the guys girls get betrothed to old and gross? So this one was about a likable betrothed couple who didn’t know each other but there was a heavy dosage of evil uncles and mustache-twirling villains and disguises and passionate piano-playing with tears and joy and rage AND YES I AM A LITTLE MELODRAMATIC I GET IT.

Also, I’m only now realizing that the core idea of this one–girl runs away to hide from danger and start a new life elsewhere, boy tries to find her in a race against time before the bad guy does–actually got recycled in January Snow. huh. Maybe my writing hasn’t changed as much as I thought it has…

And there we have it.

Around this time is when I began coming up with ideas for Hidden Pearls. In a lot of ways, Hidden Pearls is a good example of my older writing. (I was still not a very good researcher and sometimes I lie awake at night dreading that a British person is going to read the novel and be horrified by its absolute American-ness)

But overall, each one of these stories had something that helped me on my writing journey in showing me what “clicks” for me and what doesn’t. The Island taught me that I love writing teamwork/friendship stories. The Mystery of the China Shop cemented my love of writing historical fiction and mysteries. Grace taught me that, while contemporaries aren’t really my thing, I do like writing about big families. Working on the The Stevens let me know that 1) I like to mix comedy and tragedy in one story and 2) eccentric and unusual characters are my favorites. And finally, Finding Adelaide was a lesson that, while romance is all very well and good, for me personally, writing it is also going to entail adding a lot of danger, swashbuckling action, and plot twists.

What are some of the stories, however regrettable, that you wrote as a kid?

How I Write Fairy Tale Retellings

It’s time for another post for fairy tale month! I already posted about why I write fairy tale retellings…now it’s time for a post on how.

howiwritefairytale

1: The Idea

This is the most nebulous, indefinable aspect of writing a fairy tale retelling. Each one I’ve done has a different story behind it.

January Snow was actually the first retelling idea I ever came up with. My brother mentioned how much he hated Snow White, and of course my first thought was, “how can I force him to like it?” The answer seemed obvious: add mobsters. And what better way to add organized crime to a “Snow White” tale than a 1920s American setting?

The Wulver’s Rose was much different because it was created for the Five Enchanted Roses contest. I’ve gone into detail about my process before, but I didn’t choose which fairy tale to tackle; the contest did it for me. But I did choose to set it in Scotland because I wanted the beast to be an actual mythological creature; during research, the wulver checked all my boxes and became the inspiration for the rest of the story.

I’ve always loved the story of “Rapunzel;” there’s something about the idea of a young woman trapped in a tower that’s always been an appealing plot to me. It seemed so cozy! Thus, my brain started wondering…what if she didn’t want to leave? The setting of With Blossoms Gold was taken directly from Paul O. Zelinsky’s picture book. Somehow, I couldn’t get rid of that vision of Rapunzel in a Renaissance gown.

There are a lot of reasons why an author may choose a particular fairy tale to retell; sometimes it’s because they dislike the original and wish to “fix” it (which is generally not my favorite tactic) or because they love the original so much they want to elaborate on it. Either way: make sure it’s a fairy tale you’re willing to travel with for the long haul, because you’re going to be knee-deep in it for a long time.

rapunzel

2: The Reading

Reading, you say?

Yes. The Reading. After getting down my initial ideas and plans for the story, I reread the original fairy tale.

And then I read it again, this time with notes. I check through all of the major plot points, and all of the smaller bits of the story I know I’d like to incorporate. I also research other versions of the tale. Which version of “Rapunzel” do I want? Do I want to take inspiration for other similar tales of folklore? What are the similar legends, myths, and folktales of the region I’m setting the story in that can be utilized in in my own retelling?

I also avoid reading retellings of the same tale during this time.

One thing about reading fairy tale retellings is that they can run together and at times be frustratingly alike. That’s not surprising; they’re based on the same source material after all! But one thing that’s very important to me is not to be influenced by plot points of other retellings or the Disney versions. Of course, as someone who reads a lot of fairy-tale inspired fiction, I do generally already have a pretty good idea of what’s out there to begin with. (If you’ve never read a fairy tale retelling before but want to write one…you should probably familiarize yourself a bit with the genre!) One of my favorite things to do is pull in the more obscure elements of popular fairy tales and shine the spotlight on them in a retelling. Sometimes, the things we think are elements in a fairy tale are really just something invented by Disney or popular retellings. (The beast getting cursed because he was a jerk or did something wrong? Yeah, that’s not in Madame de Villeneuve’s original story!)

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It *is* a great addition of Disney’s though

But that’s not the only reading that gets done. Because I write historically-set stories, I also have that research to do. It’s during this time that I usually have a notebook that helps me collect ideas when my two realms of research collide. (Spiritualists and mediums in the 1920s usually had a special object that they thought the spirits communicated with them through? Make a note of that because the evil queen’s object is sure as heck gonna be a mirror!)

3: The Writing

And now it’s time for the work. There’s not too much to say about this other than the fact that I do have my book of fairy tales beside my computer as I write that first draft. I’ll occasionally glance back through it if I need to. But –generally– the writing and revision process is not much different than my other books. Except….

4: The Revisions and Edits

I read the fairy tale. Again. (And yes, as much as I love my fairy tales, I’m usually pretty sick of it at this point!) Do I think I’ve written a good interpretation of the story? Have included all of the events and motifs from the original that I wanted to?

This is also the point when I start reading other retellings of the same fairy tale, just to see what others have done and make sure that what I have isn’t too similar to books that have already been published. I usually already have a good idea if this is true or not, but I want to double-check.

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And that’s about the size of it. Every book is different, but these are some ways that fairy tale retellings differ from my other works of fiction. But the how of writing retellings also depends a lot on each author’s goal. I love being true to the fairy tale and bringing in forgotten elements of what we often call the “original” while still turning one or two plot points on their head. (Rapunzel doesn’t want to leave; Snow White isn’t “innocent,” etc.) If you have different goals, then your process may look very different! However, one thing I think is essential is becoming ridiculously familiar with your source material. Feel free to alter it as you like, but it’s difficult to to give it your own spin when you don’t even know what you’re spinning in the first place!

Rumpelstiltskin is still my favorite childhood story. Spinning wheel inside the Blackhouse at Arnol. Scotland

Fellow writers, have you penned any fairy tale retellings? What are some tricks and tips you have to share? Do you enjoy fairy tale retellings that stick close to their sources, or ones that are only loose interpretations?

January Snow Giveaway!

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It’s time for a Giveaway! This book has been a long time coming, and I’m happy to finally share it with you! And now you even have an opportunity to get a copy for free!

Prizes

#1 A signed paperback copy of January Snow (US only)

#2 An ebook (pdf, mobi, or epub file) of January Snow (open internationally)

Enter using the Rafflecopter below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

And remember, you can also buy January Snow in paperback or ebook on Amazon.

Fairy Tale Blog Tag

And the February celebration of fairy tales continues, this time with a blog tag.

– What’s an obscure fairy tale you love? Though I’ve seen this one become a little more well-known lately, I think “King Thrushbeard” still counts as obscure. My sister and I discovered it together, and it was one of those stories we’d never heard people talk about before but really enjoyed.

– If you got to choose Disney’s next animated princess movie, what fairy tale would you choose to be adapted? Oh, “The Wild Swans!” It’s been one of my favorites since I was a kid, and I’d love to see an adaptation for it. The same with “The Princess and the Pea.” I think the latter would make an especially good Disney film because there’s a lot of room for them to put their own spin on it, as they did in Tangled or The Princess and the Frog.

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– What is the first fairy tale you remember hearing when you were a child? As far as I can remember, I think the earliest fairy tale for me was “Cinderella.” That makes sense, since it’s my mother’s favorite and one she would want to share with me!

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– If you were to embark on a fairy tale quest, what necessities would you pack in your bag? Rope, cheese, bread, and an enchanted cloak. Also a book….of fairy tales. For guidance on the quest, you know?

– What’s your favorite fairy tale trope? I’m not going to lie: it’s the prince saving the princess. I know modern culture loves to hate on it, but I love it, okay? Ever since Prince Philip fought a dragon for Aurora I was like, “Ah, YES. My future husband should be willing to fight a dragon for me.” Not a tall order to fill, huh?

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– If you could be any fairy tale character archetype (the princess, the soldier, fairy godmother, talking animal, mischievous imp, wise old woman, evil stepmother/sister, etc.), who would you want to be and why? I’ve always wanted to be the fairy godmother and make people’s dreams come true while also giving out excellent advice and help when needed. As I lack a magic wand and fairy wings, perhaps the most I can hope to be in reality is a wise old woman.

– What animal/mythical creature would be your sidekick for fairy tale adventures? I would love a tiny baby dragon and I’d give it all my pennies to hoard and it would be adorable.

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– What is your favorite historical era, and what fairy tale would you love to see in that setting? Okay, so once upon a time Disney was planning to make an animated “Jack and the Beanstalk” film set in Exploration-Era Spain and I am DEVASTATED that never happened.

There are several time periods I’m planning to utilize in my own retellings in the future (such as Viking-era Scandinavia and Regency England) but I’d love to see more fairy tale retellings set in ancient settings, such as Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, or in various Native American cultures.

– If you could change a fairy tale’s villain into a hero, who would you choose and why? I’ve got to go with Rumpelstiltskin on this one. Once Upon a Time messed around with this idea a bit, and as the love interest of the original story is less than likable, I kind of enjoy twists that turn Rumpelstiltskin into a more heroic (or at least complex) character.

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– Do you prefer fairy tales with happy endings or sad/tragic endings? why or why not? Happy Endings all the way. I see enough sadness in real life; I want to see characters get a happy ending, especially when it’s one they’ve worked so hard to earn.

You can find the blog tag questions on The Fairy Tale Central.