Monday, July 24, 2017

On Fairy Tale Retellings

Fairy tales.

Fun, sweet children's bedtime stories.

Fairy godmothers, true love, and happy endings.

Or not.

Rapunzel's twins and the prince's blindness due to having his eyes poked out with thorns.

Cinderella's stepsisters cutting off their toes to fit in the slipper and getting their eyes pecked out by birds.

The Little Mermaid having her tongue cut out, feeling like she's stepping on knives, and turning into sea foam in the end.

Rumpelstiltskin ripping himself in half.

Sleeping Beauty's mother-in-law tries to eat her kids. (In the earlier Sun, Moon, and Talia version, she, um, has twins while asleep, and the cannibal is the king's wife. Charles Perrault cleaned it up a bit.)

If you thought the characters in Into the Woods had some serious morality issues, they all came straight from the originals. The message I personally take from that story is "If you do things you shouldn't, you will die." Because of the entire cast, 5 are alive at the end, if you count the Baker's baby.

Fairy tales just aren't...kid friendly.

So why do people love fairy tales? I would say it's because of retellings. The fairy tales give a good base storyline, and endless freedom. How else can you get Disney's Cinderella, Ella Enchanted, and Cinder out of the same basic story? How do you get Once Upon a Time and Bookania? How do you get classic fantasy Poison Kiss, western bedtime story Rosette Thornbriar, and wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey Twisted Dreams out of the same very different fairy tale?

Most people know the basic storylines of common fairy tales. They may be the Disney version, but hey, who doesn't like Disney? And then when we encounter these same fairy tales in other situations, retold into a sci-fi, turned into a comedy, told as a modern romance, it brings us back to childhood. It becomes a point of connection. They're familiar and yet new. You can predict them, and yet they still surprise you. You enjoy finding out how the writers used each fairy tale element in a new way.

And the retellings are generally cleaner and less gruesome than the originals. πŸ™‚

What do you like about fairy tales? What is your favorite retelling?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Start the Countdown!

Just three weeks until the three Sleeping Beauties are here! It's an exciting time as we're getting ready for the blog tour, doing final edits and proofreads, formatting, setting up preorders (you can preorder Twisted Dreams both as a kindle book and a signed paperback), doing NaNo instead at times...

As a part of all the excitement, I got my first proof copy!

I'm really loving the way it came out. I was so nervous it would turn out awful...I'm always afraid of that...and then it didn't. So have some more pictures. 😊

Hopefully these aren't too spoilery. πŸ˜‰ What do you think of the interior design? I decided not to go with regular drop caps, since they were a BEAR to deal with in Time Captives, but I like the larger first letter. And it's just so exciting to me to hold the real book in my hands.

At the same time as all this, I'm doing Camp NaNo. Maybe conventional wisdom says releasing a book and doing NaNo at the same time is a bad idea, but it's a novella, and I'm only writing 40 pages of the Espionage sequel. But it's going fairly well, and it should get me pretty close to the end of the book. The story is a bit messy right now, but I feel like there's a pretty decent chance you might get the book next year. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think we all already knew that. At any rate, I'm pretty excited about both Twisted Dreams and the Espionage sequel right now, which is so much better than the writer's block I've been suffering so much from. Time to get back to work to make this thing happen! Three weeks till Sleeping Beauty!

What do you think of the Twisted Dreams proof? Are you doing Camp NaNo this month?

Monday, July 10, 2017

The End Justifies the Means?

My family recently started watching 24 together. I didn't want to watch it at first--I knew it tended to be very violent, and I was also the kid who made sure never to accidentally glance at the television if I went to the kitchen to get a drink while my parents were watching it. Old habits die hard. But my sister needed "interrogations that crossed the line" for writing research. I personally have mixed feelings on the show. As someone who grew up in politics, I like the political intrigue, and as action/torture/interrogations are difficult for me to write, it probably helps. But there are a few Things I don't appreciate/don't watch, and some violent moments that make me cover my eyes in horror. (I'm very squeamish, and not a big fan of high body counts.) We're currently about halfway through Season 2. That said, on to the main point of the post.

Jack does whatever he has to do to stop the terrorists, even if it steps over the line morally. He will kill, he will torture, SEASON 2 SPOILER he will even cut off the head of a key witness against a bad guy END SPOILER if it helps him accomplish his goal. His goal is to save the president, save America, most of all save his family, and he will do literally anything to get there.

The end justifies the means.

Or does it?

I understand there are some situations where right and wrong gets fuzzy. When you're trying to stop terrorists from blowing up LA with a nuclear bomb, well, how far is too far?

Kind of like the Hunger Games. Is it wrong to kill the others to stay alive? It wasn't your choice (unless you're a Career) to go into that arena. Katniss only volunteered to save Prim. Was it wrong for her to shoot Cato? Was it wrong for Thresh to kill Clove? I believe very strongly in self defense, but how far is too far? Cato wasn't going to kill them when he was being mauled by the mutts. MOCKINGJAY SPOILER Was it wrong for Katniss to shoot Coin instead of executing President Snow? END SPOILER It wasn't in self defense, and it wasn't directly in defense of someone else. (Now Katniss...and Jack...can have some of their killings excused by saying "They're ca-razy." And I personally really like The Hunger Games for the themes of fighting back against evil government.)

But how far is too far?

I'll readily admit, I don't have the answer for every situation. Because I do believe self defense is an absolute necessity. I do believe sometimes wars have to be fought. And I believe that sometimes bad guys need to be killed. 

But I also believe the end doesn't justify the means. 

If you take it to the extreme...

Someone is holding your family hostage, threatening to kill them before your eyes. You can save them, but only by renouncing Christ. You can just say the words, you think. You don't have to really mean it, you're just giving them what they want to save your family. The end is saving your family's life. Surely it doesn't matter if you compromise to get there. The end justifies...

No. Even if the end is good, you cannot compromise God's word. You cannot disobey Him.

That is where you draw the line. If stopping the terrorists, saving your family, preserving your own life will cause you to disobey God, that is where how far becomes too far. When you're thrown into an arena and only one person out of twenty four is allowed to come out alive, when terrorists have kidnapped your family or are trying to blow up LA with a nuke, when you're in the middle of a war and have to go on offense to save your people, you're going to have to go a lot farther than you would discussing with your friend whether or not to go see that movie your mom doesn't think you should see.

How far is too far?

When you're trying to save your country, save your family, save your own life, do whatever it long as it remains right in God's eyes. God's law is the line, and that we must not cross, even for a good reason. Because disobeying God is too far.

The end does not justify the means.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Three Sleeping Beauties Blog Tour Sign Up

It's that time again! Formatting and proof copy and blog touring time! I've been working on all the book creation stuff, and I'm really eager to get my hands on that first proof. Here, have a title page.

So, since Twisted Dreams proof copies are a thing now, it's time to really get going on the blog tour organization thing. Kendra put together a sign up form for that, and also set up a Thunderclap project. With Thunderclap, you just sign up with your Facebook and/or Twitter, and, if we get enough people, it'll automatically post to your page on August 7th, our release date.

We'd really appreciate your help in spreading the word about our books. Thanks in advance!

Monday, July 3, 2017

For Freedom

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Independence. Liberty. What so, so many people gave their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for.

The reason Caesar Rodney rode all night, through the rain, sick, to vote for independence, knowing now he could never go to England to see the only doctor with any success curing his particular kind of cancer.

The reason Nathan Hale, a young, honorable schoolteacher with his life ahead of him, volunteered to be a spy--the job of the lowest men--and willingly gave his life in the process.

The reason John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg concluded his sermon on Ecclesiastes 3 by saying "There is also a time to fight, and that time has now come," removed his clerical robe to reveal his Continental Army uniform, and led over 300 men to enlist, establishing the Eighth Virginia Regiment.

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States."

These words, chosen so carefully and meticulously revised for just the right meaning, inspire me so. All men are created equal. God has given us permanent rights that cannot be taken away or transferred, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government is instituted to protect our rights, not to oppress us, or dictate our lives. Government is there to ensure our freedom.

That is what our Founders and the soldiers of the American Revolution fought for. That is what we fight for today.

"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

I love the United States of America. I'm proud to be an American. And I'm proud to be a part of the fight for freedom.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Give Me Liberty Review

For thirteen–year–old Nathaniel, an indentured servant in colonial Virginia, life is hard. Though things improve with the help of a kind master named Basil–who shares music, books, and philosophies on equality–around him the climate is heating up. It's 1775 and colonists are enraged by England's taxation. Patrick Henry's words "give me liberty, or give me death" become the sounding call and the American Revolution is about to errupt. Nathaniel and Basil must make a choice about joining the fight and face a larger conundrum about the true meaning of liberty.

L. M. Elliott crafts a stirring narrative for middle grade readers–conveying the hopes and dilemmas of this crucial era in American history.


 A few weeks ago, this book was returned to the book drop at the library where I work. It intrigued me, as I love American history and the cover gave off strong Johnny Tremain vibes. It's difficult to find a historical fiction book that doesn't distort history these days, so I skimmed the author's note, found little known but awesome history facts there (which indicated a perspective I agree with), and decided to try it.

Now the book. Unfortunately, I can't completely rave about how awesome it is because of a few literary flaws. First, I feel like it could have used another editing pass to refine the use of old fashioned language. That aspect was good, but not great. Especially considering the fact that she once referred to Nathaniel's unusually pale blue eyes as "weird-colored" even though according to Webster's 1828 dictionary, "weird" meant "skilled in witchcraft."

My primary complaint is that she shoved in too much historical and cultural information via exposition in the dialogue. Too many characters went on for paragraphs in an "as you know, Bob" manner. Now, as a lover of American history and particularly the American Revolution, I didn't really mind the history, but at the same time, it's a sign to me that she did a lot of research and wanted people to know everything she found out at the cost of the story. I kept comparing it to Johnny Tremain as I read, and Johnny Tremain is just a better written book.

But lest you think I hated this book, I actually really enjoyed it. Yes, there are literary flaws, and no, it doesn't measure up to Johnny Tremain (one of my three favorite historical fictions), but it still managed to be a pretty good book. Not spectacular, but pretty good and I don't regret the read. I liked Nathaniel and obviously I liked the historical period, and the details felt very authentic (minus the use of "weird"). It's very obvious the author spent a lot of time in colonial Williamsburg. Speaking of which, there were some moments of internal squealing at mentions of places in Williamsburg where I've been and lesser known historical figures I learned about on my trip there. (Which was 8 years ago this fall. Wow. I really need to go back.)

So would I recommend it? It depends. If you love the American Revolution, are looking for a book with an accurate perspective, and are willing to overlook some literary flaws, then absolutely. Because seriously, my only complaints are the literary ones already listed. The American Revolution is a fantastic period of history and I love it. And this book reminded me of that fact. Though now I have an urge to go reread Johnny Tremain

Originally posted on Goodreads.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Three Sleeping Beauties Cover Reveal


The covers are here! The covers are here! The day we've all been waiting for! Well, except for maybe the release day August 7th, when you can actually read the books. Today, however, you finally get to see what these books will look like, add them to your Goodreads, and preorder them on kindle. And start getting really excited for August.

Without further ado, here are the covers, alphabetically by author.

Poison Kiss

About the Book

Everyone knows that Sleeping Beauty's curse is triggered when she pricks her finger on a spindle and that she is awakened by true love's kiss ... but what happens when the wicked fairy decides to switch things up?

Edmund didn't mean to put Auralea to sleep, but now it's up to him and the famous Puss in Boots to figure out how, exactly, a spinning wheel is supposed to awaken her.

About the Author

Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers.

You can connect with Kendra on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Her book Sew, It's a Quest is free as an ebook.

Twisted Dreams

About the Book

“I, Calandra, of the Wingans, do bestow upon you, the Princess of Hanover, a gift. You have been given long life. I cannot interfere with that, but when you are sixteen years of age, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an everlasting sleep.” She stepped closer so that she could be heard only by Liesel and her parents. “Then you will at last see the truth. Be wary. Be wise. Your fate rests upon yourself.”

On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Liesel Rosanna falls victim to a sleeping curse—but wakens in another world, a prisoner of war. As the bait in a trap for her fiancΓ©, the crown prince of Hanover, Liesel longs to escape back to the fairy tale world. The world where she is only wanting a true love’s kiss to set everything to rights.

As situations quickly grow dire, Liesel must choose which story to live, which life is real. The fate of her country rests on her decision.

Do you know who I am? You'd better, since this is my blog, but I'm going to be goofy and put my bio and social media links here anyway. Just in case. πŸ˜‰

 About the Author

Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing and teaching piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment as well as the Time Captives fantasy trilogy.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Rosette Thornbriar

About the Book

Once upon a time, way out west...

Back when they were young'uns, Fleur Guardstone proposed to Rosette Thornbriar with a cigar band ring. However, not long after, she disappeared back into the forest and hadn't been heard from since. However, when Fleur hears reports of smoke coming from that woods, he's determined to find out if it is, indeed, his dear Rosette. If he can get past all of the briars.

Preorder on Kindle.

 About the Author

Rachel Roden is a natural story teller, capable of weaving the most hilarious of fairy tales. She fell in love with the Lone Ranger in her teens, but ended up with a basketball referee instead. Together, she and the Ref homeschool their four children in the Piney Woods of East Texas, as well as any other odd kid who ends up in their house. She might also be the sole human who still uses math after college.

You can connect with Rachel on her blog, twitter, and Pinterest.

So what do you think? Are you even more excited for August 7th now? What do you hope to see from these stories?