Monday, June 29, 2015

Roogleood Brainstorming: Part 3

It hasn't even been a whole month since the contest was announced, but I know several of you have started on your stories.
Today I want to talk about Sleeping Beauty herself. I have heard that it's the characters that make a retelling so appealing. And I'm not just talking about Rooglewood retellings. How many times have you read a boy meets girl type of story? Or watched an asteroid-hits-earth type of movie? The plots are very similar; it's the characters that make it new and fresh.  Am I right?
Your characters are going to be unique because YOU wrote them. And you're pulling from your own set of experiences and relationships to create them.
So tell me about your heroine - what is she like?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Snippet: Color and Music

Colors swirled around her, keeping time with the music.  It was the first day of the ball, and guests had flocked to the castle of Hanadil by the scores.  For a moment, Ilona felt dizzy, but it was a delightful dizziness that made her feel as if she could float away into the music itself.

Friday, June 26, 2015


     "Maud will check at the undertaker's to see if he has any ready-made coffins." Madam dusted her hands on her apron and surveyed the white-wrapped corpse with a grim expression.
     I stood in a corner, twisting my hat in my hands and wondering how she could accept death with such a square jaw. I didn't even know the boy -- had only seen him fall -- and I felt like I had lost a friend. "I'll go with her."
     Madam raised her eyebrows but didn't argue. The stolid Maud with her pug nose and decided limp wrapped a shawl over her head and stumbled out the door ahead of me.
     The streets were narrow, and the homes and businesses leaned precariously over us, as if ready any minute to tumble in and obliterate the street.  Snow blanketed everything, heaping in mounds over unidentifiable objects.  More flakes continued to fall, dusting my shoulders and Maud's shawl with white.
     Feeling that some conversation was necessary, I cleared my throat.  "A sad demise," I commented soberly.
     She blinked at me.  "W'at mice, sir?"
     I shook my head.  "Not mice.  Demise was the word." I searched my mind for a simpler explanation.  "I only meant to say that I am sorry the boy fell."
     "Lawsy!" Maud opened her eyes wide.  "I don't be eddycated like them uppity folks."
     I tried a new thread of conversation. "Have you been a resident at Madam's for long?"
     She scowled.  "I don't make no dents.  That was Clara.  I take good care of all Madam's things."
     I gave up on conversation.  Clearly Maud was not up to it.
     Turning a street corner, I got my first view of the undertaker's.  It was a sober little shop with bold black lettering over the door.  Through a window, I caught sight of several coffins and a statue of an angel.
     Maud pounded on the door until a plump little woman with a sour expression opened it.
     "He's away on a call." She barely cracked the door wide enough to talk to us.
     "F'how long?" Maud demanded.
     The woman shrugged, implying that she didn't care.
     Maud sighed.  "We'll wait."  She cast a worried glance behind her.  "I 'ope they cook my rolls."
     The woman shrugged again and started to close the door.
     "Mind if we wait inside?" I spoke quickly.
     She hesitated, looking from Maud's rags to my quality suit.  Then she backed away, leaving the door open to us.  Apparently my fine clothes won her respect.
     "Don't touch anything, child," she snapped at Maud as we entered the front room of the shop.  I closed the door behind us as the plump woman disappeared into a back room.  Maud sat down on the edge of a coffin, and I followed suit.
     It was a rather morbid place to be, especially considering our purpose.  I was silent, wrapped up in my own thoughts.  One must have nerves of steel to work in an undertaker's.  But then, it seemed that everybody in this neighborhood had nerves of steel.  It was a far cry from my life of culture and art and eternal politeness.
     I glanced around me, looking at the comforts of death.  There were two small coffins -- just the boy's size.  One was black and the other was wood.  Which would we choose, I wondered.  Probably whichever was cheaper.
     And the statues were out of the question.  I'd be surprised if the boy even got a decent tombstone.  My eyes wandered over the statues -- all of them were angels.  One had a very peaceful expression, with her hands outstretched over the ground beneath her like a benediction.  I liked that one.
     Another was an image of the saddest looking angel I had ever seen.  Stone tears lay on her stone cheeks.  I wrinkled my nose.  Who would want a crying statue sitting over them for the next hundred years?
     But Maud was fascinated with it.  I heard a sigh escape her and looked around to see her staring up at the crying angel as if she were an art-lover losing herself in Mona Lisa's smile.
     I hadn't seen that look on her face before.  But for this brief moment in time she was not thinking about cooking rolls and changing dirty diapers.  Watching her was like watching the sun try to peek through the clouds.
     "I'd want this un...if I could 'ave it."  She pursed her lips and puckered her eyebrows in a wistful expression.
      It caught me off-guard.
      She lifted her eyes to meet mine.  "It's 'eavenly.  To think that one o' them fine sort was sad w'en I died." Her voice lowered to a reverent whisper.  "To think that somebody cried over me."  She shook her head as if she couldn't believe her own words.  "Over ME."

Monday, June 22, 2015


"Three?  What would I do with three?"
"The same as you do with one!"
          ~A variation of the argument between Tevye and Lazar Wolf [Fiddler on the Roof]

I have three barebones stories in my head for Sleeping Beauty.  One is set long, long ago and far, far away.  One is set in modern times.  And one -- well -- I can't even measure in earth years's on another planet.  How's that for variety?

So my plan is to work on these three for a little while and see what happens.  Maybe one will automatically take the lead.  Or maybe I'll polish up all three.

Once I get them settled into story form, I'll probably try to ask some friends what they think of the stories.  Friends can say "this is perfect" or "this needs more work," but if they say "regardless of how fabulous this story is I don't think it sounds enough like Sleeping Beauty" then it will probably be scratched from the running.

And if none take a clear lead and none get knocked out of the running by friends...hmmm...I guess I can enter all three.  Providing I have enough time to polish them up.  Because three stories "with potential" are not as good as one story that is "great."

And why I am writing this...or if it makes sense, I am not sure.  It is two hours past my bedtime, and I didn't get to sleep but 2 hours last night.  Sooooo...I'm a little sleep deprived.

But happy.  Of course.  Because I have story ideas finding their way onto paper.  And that is always a good day.

Goodnight for now.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fullness of Joy Literary Tag

Fullness of Joy is celebrating their 4-year anniversary with a literary tag.  Below are my answers but I also encourage you to take a peek at Joy's blog.  She has a giveaway there, if you are interested.  :D

"Fullness of Joy Literary Celebration Tag"
1. What is your favourite "happy" sort of book? (a book that either has joy/happiness as a major theme, or a book that gives you a happy, cozy feeling inside).
     Pollyanna is a "glad" book!
2. Did you ever have, in your childhood/youth, a certain book that launched you into a serious love of reading which made it something bigger than a mere hobby in your life?
     No, I don't remember NOT reading.
3. What is one overhyped novel that people nowadays term as a "classic" that you really didn't like as much as everyone else? What made you dislike it so much?
     The funny thing about my brain is that I will "humph" at it for a week and then promptly strive to forget all about it.  I know I have read some classics that I didn't care for, but now I have forgotten what they were.  
4. What makes you motivated to blog, and what is your favourite aspect of the blogging experience throughout the years you've been writing?
     I needed a literary outlet.  I had been journaling and writing pieces of stories for years, but it was stagnant.  
     Favorite aspects:
          a. Being able to write, knowing that somebody is seeing something that I have written.
                b. Getting feedback from other readers/writers on my work.
              c. Making connections.  Meeting people.  Being able to comment on their blogs and have them comment on mine.  Being able to follow their feeds and learn from them.
5. What are 4 works of literature that you are particularly looking forward to reading in the near future?
     Sense and Sensibility (again)
     The Best of James Herriot: Favourite memories of a country vet
     Hunger Games trilogy
     To Darkness Fled
6. What are some of your favourite non-fiction books?
     The Bible
     God's Smuggler
     The Hiding Place
     biographies, survival books, high school math and science books, writing tutorials.
7.  What are some of your favourite time-periods to read about?
     Bible times.  Medieval.  Colonial America.  Mid-1800s.  Wars.  Future.
8. Is there a special book that influenced you to do something new in your life, or changed you in a profound way?
     Do Hard Things.
     Little Women.
     The Hiding Place.
     God's Smuggler.
9. Do you have a favourite contemporary fictional novel?
     No.  There are a number that I like, but I don't have a favorite (using the American spelling of favorite).
10. Persuasion is a very autumnal book, and many authors and poets have beautifully described and romanticised that season, which leads to the question: why is autumn so often idealised, and does it hold that certain magic and charm to you? What is your favourite season?
     Autumn is special.  The colors are vibrant and warm.  The heat of summer fades away to a delicious chill.  The harvest comes in -- sweet and rich -- everything that you have worked for all year.  And, just as the fullest bounty comes in, you store it away for the coming winter.
      Because it is no longer so hot, it becomes the time of year for snuggling with your family and lighting bonfires and roasting apples.
     I do not have a favorite season.  I love the flowers and fresh new green buds of spring.  I love the thunderstorms and wind.  Summer is probably my least favorite -- heat, annoying insects - but even it has its charms.  Autumn might be my favorite -- I love the way it feels.  And then winter comes with its snows and hot chocolate and sledding parties.  I love winter.
11. There are many novels set during the era of the French of Revolution, especially books written in previous generations by authors such as Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Baroness Orczy. Which, if any, are your favourites?
      I've read Dickens and Dumas and liked both of them.  I admittedly love the way Dickens writes in general.  I haven't read Hugo, but I watched an older Les Mis movie.
12. What excites you the most about literature and its influence in culture, and how it effects the way people think and act?
     It excites me that literature can influence for good. I am not excited that it often works the other way around.
     I like to broaden people's minds to other (good) ways of thinking.  It's so easy to get caught up in one way of doing things and not even realize that other people may approach the same problems differently.
     Literature should make people think, and it should inspire them for good.
13. Is it ever a struggle to reconcile reading fiction/entertainment with the struggles of reality, and to place the importance of fiction within one's daily Christian life and walk with the Lord?
     Sometimes.  If I err, I probably err on the side of too much fiction.  But for me, it is refreshing and relaxing.  And I like the chance to face the struggles of reality in a story form, where the bad guy is defeated when you finish the book.
14. Would you rather you lived in the countryside of England during WW2, or in the American Prairie during the 1800s, or during the Neoplonic Wars in Europe? (basically favourite historical era/setting to live)
     Ahk!  Impossible question!
     This is why we read books.  So we can live all of those places.
15. What is your favourite Jane Austen novel? Do you have a favourite film or tv adaption?
     I like Pride and Prejudice the best.  Sense and Sensibility is a close second.  And then Emma.
     The 1995 Pride and Prejudice with Firth and Ehle.
     The 1995 Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet
     The 2009 Emma with Romola Garai.
16. Describe your ideal reading nook! 
     A window seat with lots of cushions.  And maybe hidden from the rest of the house by curtains.
17. Is there a particular book that is quite underrated and yet you think is undeservedly so and should be read by everyone? 
     Socks.  By Beverly Cleary.
18. Do you have a favourite Parable that the Lord Jesus told? What inspires and encourages you the most about it?
     My favorite changes from one to the other as I need it.  ;)
     At the moment, it is the one about "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" because one person in the crowd can influence the mass for good or evil.  I am inspired to be good leaven in my crowds.
19. Name a book you've reread more than twice. 
     Oliver Twist.
     (and over a hundred others -- I like to reread, and spent a lot of time at home as a child with nowhere to go but into one of the books in our cabinet)
20. The main character in one of the giveaway books (Until that Distant Day) is a superb cook. How fond are you of cooking/baking and homemaking in general? 
     I love it if I have time and am home all or most of the day.  If I am rushing in after work and after I've been up all night at a birth, then I'd rather open a can of soup.
      But generally, I love to cook and create and keep house.  :D
21. What is a book you're intimidated to read but really want to read in the near future?
     Heart of the Sea
22. What 3 novels (or series of novels) would you like to see adapted to film or television?
     Jill Williamson's Blood of Kings trilogy
     Rachel Heffington's Fly Away Home (but only if we could get a young Gregory Peck to star - disappointed face)
     A Tale of Two Cities (a newer and more accurate version than the one I've seen)
23. What would be the first thing you would like to say to/ask your favourite author if you had the opportunity of speaking intimately with them for ten minutes?
     "Hi.  Nice to meet you."
25. Favourite quote by your favourite author?
     Hard to pick a favorite -- He said so many great things!!!!
     The first quote that comes to mind is "Lo, I am with you alway - even to the end of the world."
26. What is your greatest wish/purpose in picking up your own pen and writing?
     To be some leaven.  To say what God has for me to say.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Snippet: Nightmares and All

This time, I am sharing quotes from two of my Sleeping Beauty ideas.  They are working under the titles of An Arranged Marriage and SPINDLE, but those titles may change as the stories develop.  Enjoy!

It’d be cruel of me to give you nightmares.  

“I told you I came to see people.  All of them.  High and low, I see no difference.”

Monday, June 15, 2015

Rooglewood Brainstorming: Part Two

So last week, for our brainstorming session, we talked about the essential elements of Sleeping know, the things that make you say "it just wouldn't be Sleeping Beauty without ___."

I had 4 people comment, and here is the results of our brainstorming:
Spindle (3 out of 4 votes)
Sleep/Long sleep (3 votes)
Curse (2 votes)
Princess (2 vote)
Little fairies/two fairies (2 votes)
Kiss (1 vote)
Gift (counteracting the curse) (1 vote)
Prince (1 vote)

Today, we are going to talk about things that we could change.  Some of the broadest changes would be in setting, time period, and type of story.  So let's start there.

Remember the point is just to throw some crazy ideas out there and see if any of them stick.  It will also help all of us to see what types of stories appeal to our blogging friends.

So what kind of settings could we put Sleeping Beauty in?  If we look at previous anthologies, we see the typical "kingdom" setting.  We also see spaceships, circus tents, ships, jungles, and who knows what else.  What would happen if we put Sleeping Beauty in those settings?  What are some other settings she could find herself in?

How about the time period?  This is similar to setting, but what if we placed Sleeping Beauty at a particular time in history...anywhere from 1000 BC to the Civil War to now?  Or if we put her far into the future?

And what sort of flavor can we give a Sleeping Beauty story?  Can we make it funny?  Fill it with lively wit?  Can we give it a classic feel?  Can we make our readers cry?  What other ways can we flavor the story?  What would you like most to read?

Pop into my comment section down below and tell me what you think.  I would also love to know how many of you have already started your retelling.  I was going to let my ideas stew for a month before embarking on this journey, but I admit I have already started writing.  :)  How about you?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Snippet: The Pretty Part

I have started my Rooglewood retellings for Sleeping Beauty.  So, for the next several weeks, I am going to post a quote from my stories on Saturdays.  I hope you enjoy it!

“This is the part that hurts.  Can’t we skip it and go straight to the ‘pretty’ part?”

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Just Not Hero Material

I am fond of believing that anybody can be hero material.  Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are bold; some are quiet.  Some are fearless; some press through their fears.  Some are strong; some are weak.  Some are crazy geniuses; others are simple folks.  Even the unlikeliest character can become a hero...

...But only if you have enough time to show the change.  Readers still demand a certain level of action and sacrifice by the end of the book.  Being able to take a un-hero-like character and push him through trials that show his true metal is part of what makes a great book.  But what if you are writing a short story?

Short stories can cover some of the same epic changes, but, due to the...well...shortness of a short story, you don't have as much room to cover the changes.  Fewer characters can go through big changes, and the big changes cannot be quite so big.  There simply isn't enough word-space to do it justice.

Which is why I had to rethink the hero in one of my Sleeping Beauty retellings.  I pulled in too many "lies" for him to overcome, and he simply didn't have enough time to do it.  I had to go back and cut down on his troubles so that I could do justice to the troubles he had.

How about you?  Are your characters facing big changes in their lives?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rooglewood Brainstorming

Okay, folks, I'm here to take a vote. Most of you know that Rooglewood is hosting their third annual fairy tale contest. And, if you don't, you can find out more information here.

Each fairy tale contest must be a creative retelling, but must also include elements from the original tale.

For Cinderella, there was a prince, a mistreated/hard-laboring girl, a stepmother, stepsisters, a godmother, a ball, a pretty dress and carriage, a midnight curfew, and, of course, glass slippers.

For Beauty and the Beast, there was a beast (who was really a prince), a girl, a ransom (giving of oneself in exchange for another), and roses.

So I want to hear what you think: What are the most important elements of Sleeping Beauty?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Beautiful People: June
I am joining with Sky and Cait's Beautiful People link-up.  They posed the questions for me to answer for my character.  Rather than answer them myself, I will let Ilona answer them.  It seems more fun that way.
Ilona, so you know, is the only daughter of the king and queen of Hanadil.  She is a character in a new story I am playing with. 
Here it goes:

1. Do you know your biological parents? Why?
     Yes, of course, I know my parents.  Why wouldn't I?  I was raised by them!  (And by my nursemaids).
    Do you know your grandparents?
     Noooo.  My papa's parents died before I was born.  And my mama's...I've never heard about them.  Is that strange?  Maybe they died, too, and she is too sad to talk about it.

2. Have you inherited any physical resemblences from your parents?
     I look very much like my papa.  I have his hair color.  But I am beautiful like my mama...or so he tells me.

3. What are your parents' dress style?

4. Do you share personality traits with your parents?  Which do you take after most?
      I am quiet and graceful like mama.  But, mostly, I take after my papa.

5.  Do you get along with your parents or do you clash?
     I am very close to both my parents.

6. Describe each of your parents in one word.
     My papa is strong and encouraging.  My mama is protective and wise.

7. How have your parents helped you most in your life?
     My papa taught me about my duty as princess, how to make sacrifices for others, and how to enjoy life to the fullest.
     My mama taught me how to listen, how to see the world around me by paying attention, and how to be patient.

8. What was your biggest fight with your parent(s)?
     I can't think of any particular fight.  There were little battles of being made to do unpleasant things (like finishing my studies) or of being deprived of something I wanted (new horse, new dress, new maid).

9. Tracing back the family tree, what nationalities are in your ancestry?
     My papa's family has been Hanadil royalty for as long as long as Hanadil has existed.  My mama's family is from...actually...I have no idea.  Hmmm.

10.  What is your favorite memory with your parents?
     So many memories!  How shall I choose?  I think I especially like horseback riding with my papa or sitting with him in court.  And I love going for walks with my mama or sitting in her rooms and talking with her.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Epic Bible Quote Challenge

For this one, you have to read the whole story (in I Samuel 15) to understand the betrayal that Samuel uncovered.  And how Samuel cried to see a great man placing trust in himself instead of remaining humble before the Lord.  It was the beginning of Saul's downfall.

But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Last year, when I entered the B&theB contest, I kept it very quiet.  

I didn't talk about the contest for fear of attracting competition.  

I didn't talk about my story for fear somebody would steal it.

I hid.

But I watched and listened, too.  And I saw other writers taking advantage of the community.  Nobody spoiled their stories, of course, but they talked to each other.  They shared loglines and premises.  They shared joys and pains of writing.  They shared excitement over the contest itself.  And they had fun together.

And this year, I'm going to do that, too.  I'm going to join this community of writers as we pursue this year's contest together.  Because I want to share my joy with you.  And because I want to know a name on the winners' list next it mine or yours.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Half-full, half-empty, or the whole glass?

Artist: Isabel Quintanilla
Glass pictures via Pinterest

     My dad and I were talking about artistic people.  You know, the ones who take their time to sketch a glass and the result looks exactly like the glass.  These are people who can see the whole glass -- seeing things that other people never notice -- and it makes them amazing artists.

Artist: Linda Huber
Glass pictures via Pinterest

     I know some writers who take time to see the whole glass.  They sit down with their characters, having conversations with them for hours on end, until they feel they know their characters as real people.  And they do this because they are artists and they want to see each character completely.

Artist: Nono Garcia
glass pictures via Pinterest

     But what happens when a glass has nothing to stand on?  It will fall and shatter...Unless it stays safely in the artist's imagination.  Knowing your characters is not enough, by itself, to get a book written and published.  The rest of the story must be created.  The author has to be persistent to write it down, even if it doesn't come out perfectly the first time.  She must tackle the edits and do everything she can to polish her book for the public.  And then she must pursue publishing, being willing to face those hurdles as they come.

     What does this mean for the artist who is slowly memorizing every fracture of light in a glass?  It means one of three things: Either...

a. She will spend the rest of her life happily admiring glasses.  

b. She will realize that the extensive glass study is not getting her where she wants to go, and she will change tactics.

c. She will find a way to apply her in-depth study to every area of creation -- characters, plot, setting, etc. -- and she will create the greatest masterpiece in the world...but it will take her many decades.  And that's okay because her desire was to write one book and to write it to the very best of her ability.

      And who's to say, except perhaps the artist herself, which of the three she will be?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cover Reveal and Contest Announcement

Coming?  Uh-uh.  It's HERE!!!!!!

       We knew this day was coming.  We've been waiting for days, weeks, months to learn of the next Rooglewood contest.  Well, the day is finally here.  Today, Rooglewood announces the terms of their 2015-2016 contest.  Now for the cover and Rooglewood's description! Are you ready?

Rooglewood Press is delighted to introduce their third fairy tale novella contest—

Five Magic Spindles
a collection of “Sleeping Beauty” stories

     The challenge is to write a retelling of the beloved fairy tale in any genre or setting you like. Make certain your story is recognizably “Sleeping Beauty,” but have fun with it as well. Make it yours!
Rooglewood Press will be selecting five winners to be published in the Five Magic Spindles collection, which will be packaged up with the phenomenal cover you see here. Maybe your name will be one of the five listed? 

     All the contest rules and information (how to enter, story details, deadline etc.) may be found on the Rooglewood Press website. Just click HERE and you will go right to the page.

     Rooglewood Press’s first collection, Five Glass Slippers is available for purchase, and our second collection, Five Enchanted Roses is scheduled to launch on July 27, and is currently available for pre-order. Be certain to get a copy of each and see what previous winners did with their wonderful retellings.

So there you have it, folks!  It's time to sharpen your pencils and let your imagination craft a story worth reading.  I look forward to seeing what we all come up with for this contest, and I hope to see some of your names in the winners' list next year.  

Also...what do you think of the cover?  Pretty, isn't it?  Here is what Rooglewood told me about her: "This cover illustration was rendered by Julia Popova, “ForestGirl.” You can find out more about this gifted artist on her website:"  I love the forest setting and the fall colors.  Do you?

I want to hear your thoughts on everything so please leave me some comments.  Do you like the cover?  Have any ideas for your story -- did seeing the announcement prompt some creative musings?  Do you think you might enter?

Head over to Rooglewood's website for all the details on the contest.  And please feel free to take this button (see below) and post it on your own blog.

Can't wait to hear from you all!