Monday, July 31, 2017

A Jumping Off Point

What is the relationship of an original fairy tale to the retelling? Is it a hard and fast guide for the storyline? A general outline? Just the spark of an idea? Or any one of the three?

When writing a fairy tale retelling, the original is your jumping off point. It's your basic idea, and that idea can follow the fairy tale extremely closely, or just have vague elements of it. 

It starts with a "what if?"

What if Cinderella had a gift that made her unable to disobey?

What if Cinderella's slipper fit the wrong girl?

What if Cinderella was a cyborg?

What if Sleeping Beauty was set in the old West?

What if, when Sleeping Beauty fell asleep, she woke up in another world?

If you're thinking of writing a fairy tale retelling, the first thing to do is start brainstorming your "what if?" There are infinite possibilities. Use the fairy tale as a jumping off point, and explore your twist.

You might come up with an epic sci-fi like Cinder.

You might come up with a sweet romance like Disney's Cinderella (2015). 

You might come up with something no one's ever thought of before. It'll be familiar, but new, because you took that old fairy tale and jumped off, and then ran with it.

What if Rumpelstiltskin involved time travel?

What if the Little Mermaid wants to be human to save all the missing mermen?

What if Cinderella was actually leading the prince into a trap?

What if Snow White's stepmother was really trying to save her from the dwarves?

What fairy tale twists can you come up with?
Just one week until the Three Sleeping Beauties are here!

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. 🙂

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. 😉 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.