October 16, 2017

Take Time For You

Take Time For You

With NaNoWriMo coming up, it's a great time to discuss self-care. With our busy lives and all we try to get done in a day, sometimes (most times, if we're honest) our selves fall by the wayside. And that can be bad.

We've been given these beautiful bodies and minds, and when we don't stop to take care of them, things can go wrong. Depression and stress can start to consume you. Your physical health can go downhill, resulting in illness, bad attitudes, and sleep loss. I don't claim to be an expert on any of this, I just know from personal experience. That's why we need to take time to take care of ourselves, even if it feels like we shouldn't.

Let Go of Guilt

Before you can enjoy some you-time, you have to let go of the guilt that wants to show up when we stop working. The voices that say you shouldn't be relaxing right now, or reminds you of your massive to-do list, or whatever it is that tries to drive you away from de-stressing.

This is the hardest part for me personally. I have to sit there and tell those voices "shut up". I need this time, I need a break. I am going to enjoy myself. That's much more important than the work I have to do. I especially have to fight that when I spend time playing games or something like that with my siblings. I want to feel guilty that I'm not working, but then I remind myself that family time is much more important in the long run than time spent working.

Take A Break

"Run away with us for the summer, let's go upstate." Sorry, it fits. But it is a good lesson too. If Hamilton had taken a break from his work, he wouldn't have had the problems he had, and maybe even become one of our presidents. (You know what I'm talking about.)

You-time doesn't have to be long. It can simply be a ten or fifteen minute break where you read a book, lay down, or play a game of solitaire. Set a timer if you want. It doesn't need to be a long time, just enough to give your mind a break and you a chance to unwind.

If you're encountering a problem in your manuscript, video, whatever, this is an excellent time to take a few minutes break. When you come back, your head will be clearer and you'll be in the mindset to tackle the problem again.

Do What Makes You Happy

You-time is when you should do things that make you happy. The most relaxing thing in the world is something you enjoy. What is that for you?

For me, it's watching a movie or reading a book. Drawing something I'm passionate about. Looking at nature. Writing something I enjoy. Dancing around like a crazy person. Think about what sort of things you enjoy and relax while doing. Make a list if you have to.

Work Out

When you're feeling down or unmotivated, try working out. Doing so not only helps lift your spirits, it also gives you the benefits of getting a stronger body. Yoga can help you get more flexible and calm you if you're feeling stressed. There are many pluses to exercise, so I suggest you give it a try.

Don't worry if you've never worked out before. You can start any time and there are tons of workouts out there, so you're sure to find something you enjoy. Running, dancing, kickboxing, yoga, pilates, jazzercise, and zumba are just a few of them. I enjoy Blogilates workouts and yoga myself.

You-Time Suggestions

If you're not sure what to do to have some you-time, here's a list of some things to try. Or if you do know what you like to do, maybe you can find something new to try.

• Read a book. There's nothing more relaxing. Plus, it helps you get more reading in.

• Watch a movie. Whatever is your favorite genre. Comedy? Action? Fantasy? Or try something new.

• Watch TV. Binge your favorite show. Don't worry, no one will judge.

• Play a game. It can be a physical board game or a computer or phone game. I'm partial to Disney Emoji Blitz myself. I enjoy sitting down to play it for something to relax me.

• Listen to your favorite music. Whatever you like, no matter how weird. (Any other classical music nerds out there?)

• Dance! I don't care if you can or can't. Just let go and have fun. Do it in your bedroom if you don't want anyone to see you.

• Draw or do other art. Paint. Paper cut-outs (super relaxing). Photography.

• Create something. Do a craft or make a clay figure.

• Bake or cook. Making food can be an amazing thing that has the bonus end of having something delicious at the end.

• Workout. I said this already, but I'll say it again. It's so good.

• Stretch. Stretching is relaxing for me. I turn on some music and push my body to it's limits.

• Color. Adult coloring books, or even kids coloring books are super relaxing. Do whatever kind makes you happy.

• Spend time with friends. That always makes me feel better.

• Build with Legos. No, you're never too old for Lego. Who do you think designs the sets? Adults, that's who. It can both be fun and stretch your imagination.

• Watch YouTube videos. A good Studio C run or whatever you like is great for a mood lifter.

Let's talk! What tips do you have for self-care? What are your favorite you-time activities? Tell me in the comments.

October 14, 2017

Beautiful Books 2017

Beautiful Books 2017

With NaNoWriMo fast approaching, it's time for this year's Beautiful Books. It's hosted by Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In, and you can find out more here. I'm looking forward to NaNoWriMo and I'm already mostly done planning. Just doing a bunch of worldbuilding now. But on to the questions!

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

Well, my novel this year is a sequel, so it was inspired by the first book, which leaves off on a big cliffhanger. I've had the idea for maybe five years. I actually tried to write it back then, but like the first book, it needed complete rewriting. It's been nice starting over with a fresh slate.

2. Describe what your novel is about!

Here's the blurb and cover.

Celia and the Mad Hatter, Flynn, have been tossed back into our world after the fight in the Dark Sdoow. After first, it's not too bad. Celia is returned to her family and Flynn seems to be doing well. Then he reveals that he's been wounded and the only cure is in Wonderland.

Celia begins a quest to find a way back to the fantastical land most people believe is a myth. Through her search, she finds another descendant of Alice who agrees to meet with them, leading Celia and Flynn to head for England. But between Celia's new overconfidence and the Destroyers, who have secretly regrouped, returning to Wonderland may be harder than they thought. And time is running out for Flynn.

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

I'd say my novel's aesthetic starts out kind of happy, but then slowly gets darker as the story goes along. Here's a collage of some of the images from my Pinterest board to show you what I mean.

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!

• Celia Lopez- my protagonist. She's a gymnast who found out she was the descendant of Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) and now she's helping save Wonderland from the Destroyers. She's a determined, fierce girl.

• Flynn, or the Mad Hatter. He's an orphan, a hatter, and a weapon maker. He is both mentor and sidekick to Celia.

• The Queen of Hearts, Celia's main antagonist. She's cruel and wants to keep Celia from returning to Wonderland.

• Janet Liddell. Another descendant of Alice who helps Celia and Flynn find a way back to Wonderland.

• Nobody. A spy and tracker from our world who wants to go to Wonderland. He joins the Destroyers so he can get there.

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

It depends on what the novel is. For this one, I did a lot of outlining and worldbuilding, but less character development, because I'd already done that for the first book and have a pretty good grasp on my characters. I didn't actually need to do worldbuilding, but I wanted to work on it more, and had some extra time, so worldbuilding I am.

For NaNoWriMo, I also get a collection of chocolate, one piece for every day of the month so I can have something to reward myself after writing so many words. Concentrating that long isn't easy for me, so having a tangible thing to look forward to helps. I also reward myself for reaching major goals.

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

• Putting Wonderland characters in our world and seeing what happens.

• Pushing Celia and Flynn's relationship to the breaking point then bringing them back.

• Writing the twists and turns. (That hopefully no one will see coming.)

• And, weirdly enough, giving Flynn a makeover. He's going to have to fit into our world, but still look himself.

7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

• It's in our world, so I don't have as much free range as I would in Wonderland.

• There's a mansion in the mountains of Austria where the Destroyers are hiding.

• Celia and Flynn head to Christ Church in England, because that's where Lewis Carroll wrote the book. I'm looking forward to it.

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Celia's goal is to find a way back to Wonderland so she can heal Flynn. What's standing in her way is her own overconfidence and the Destroyers, who want to keep them from returning.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

She learns to balance between being confident and being cautious. Her friendship with Flynn will also have deepened.

10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

The themes of Missing Magic are balance and friendship. I want readers to feel happy when it's over, but also want to read the next book as soon as possible.

There you have it! You'll probably learn more as the next few Beautiful Books come out. Also, if you'd like to be my buddy on the NaNoWriMo site, my username is PhantomViolin. I'd love for us to be able to encourage each other during this challenge.

Let's talk! What are you writing for NaNoWriMo (or writing currently if you're not participating)? Do you like making Pinterest boards for your novel? What are some ways you prepare to write? Tell me in the comments.

October 12, 2017

Writing a Secondary Character Like Inigo Montoya

Writing a Secondary Character Like Inigo Montoya

"Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." This is one those famous lines from movies that everyone knows and quotes. Inigo himself is a great example of a secondary character, which is why today we'll be talking about how to write a character like him. Spoilers for the movie ahead.

Give Them a Goal

Secondary characters need goals, and their goals shouldn't be to help the protagonist. At least not without a good reason, as we'll discuss in a minute. You need to give your secondary character their own personal goal that may or may not compliment the hero's goal. Having one that will actually put them against the protagonist at points can actually add conflict.

Inigo's goal is to find the six-fingered man and kill him. He has his own personal vendetta. Because he's working as a sword for hire so he can pay the bills, he has to fight Westley. That puts him at odds with Westley's goal, which is to find Buttercup. But later, when he discovers the six-fingered man is inside the castle, his goal lines up with Westley's, and he helps him get inside.

Give Them a Motive

What is driving them to accomplish their goal? That's your secondary character's motive. Dig deep for this. Is there something in their past that's pushing them forward? Have they been hurt somehow? The better backstory they have, the more compelling of a character they will be.

Inigo's motive for killing the six-fingered man is because he killed his father. And when little Inigo challenged him to a duel, he humiliated him. Inigo spent years training in swordplay so he could hunt down the man and kill him. His motivation is avenging his father.

Give Them a Personality

Think about your favorite secondary characters. Which ones stick in your head the most? The ones with good personalities, right? Your secondary characters need a personality that makes them shine (but not brighter than the protagonist). Without that, they will fade to the back of your reader's minds and be forgotten.

Inigo is well-mannered, witty, and determined. He's one of those characters that tends to steal the scene from the protagonist, called a foil. You should avoid making characters like that, unless you don't mind having your secondary character steal the scene. One of my favorite things about Inigo is his politeness. His and Westley's duel is the most polite fight you've ever seen. I love that scene.

Give Them a Skill

Your secondary characters should also have a skill of some sort, something to make them useful and special. Maybe they could be a baker or a healer. An excellent archer or an amazing wizard. Give them something that can help the hero or the plot.

Inigo's skill is his amazing swordsmanship. He can probably kill you in about ten seconds. In fact, he starts his duel with Westley with his left hand so it's not over too quickly. Normally you would reserve a skill that good for the hero, but in this case it works.

Let's talk! Do you think Inigo is a great secondary character? What tips do you have for secondary characters? Tell me in the comments.

October 9, 2017

5 Reasons to Watch The Princess Bride

5 Reasons to Watch The Princess Bride

I recently re-watched The Princess Bride recently and was reminded how much I love that movie. If you've never heard of it, I hereby order you to go watch it immediately. Whether you have or haven't, here are five excellent reasons to watch the film. (But seriously, never hearing of it is inconceivable.)

1. Ultimate Fairytale Story

This movie has it all. A princess, a farm boy, and a scheming prince. True love, sword fights, revenge, death, and riding off into the sunset on white horse. Westly, the male protagonist, is the perfect gentleman. Buttercup, the female protagonist, is faithful to him even when she thinks he's dead. Chivalry runs throughout. This story has all you could ever want from a fairytale.

And even though it has all that, it doesn't feel overworked or outlandish. It's perfectly balanced. I love it because it feels like something you could read from the Grimm Brothers or Hans Christian Anderson. It's inconceivably good.

2. Twue Wuv (or true love, if you don't know the movie)

I said it once, but I'll say it again. The Princess Bride has some amazing true love in it. Two peasants fall in love and when Westly dies, Buttercup refuses to love anyone else. Throughout the whole movie, the two of them remain devoted to one another. (Don't know how they can when one's dead? You'll have to watch it to see what happens.) You just don't see that kind of love in movies anymore. Real, pure love for one other person.

3. Witty Characters

Every character in here has the perfect thing to say in any situation. I thought about calling them sassy, but that's not the right word in this case. Sassy means you're cheeky, whereas witty means you use quick and inventive verbal humor. That's what this film is full of.

In a world full of characters that all seem to be full of snark, these characters that have a witty comeback for anything is great. The verbal battles in the movie are just as good as the physical ones. I suggest you watch it just for that alone, if it weren't for all the other great things about it.

4. Epic Fights

There are many fights scattered throughout the film, from fighting R.O.U.S. (rodents of unusual size) to battles of the wits. Whether fighting man or creature, the characters show their skill with whatever their specialty is. The best fight of all, however, is the sword duel between Westly and Inego Montoya. There is so much skill, wit, and politeness in one five minute duel, it's astounding.

5. Inego Montoya

After Westly and Buttercup, the most beloved character of the film is a secondary character called Inego Montoya. He's a Spaniard out for revenge against the six-fingered man who killed his father. His person quest for revenge almost steals the movie. On Thursday you'll get a post all about writing a character like him, so I'll save my best points for that. Just know he is awesome and his speech he makes to his father's killer is probably one of the best in movie history.

Now, go and watch The Princess Bride. If you've already seen it, you're probably smiling very fondly about all the things I just said. If you haven't, time to have that remedied.

Let's talk! Have you seen The Princess Bride? What's your favorite part? Tell me in the comments.

October 5, 2017

Let's Talk About: Bethany Hamilton

Let's Talk About: Bethany Hamilton

I don't remember when I first heard of Bethany Hamilton. I've know about her for a long time, that's for certain. Ever since I learned of her and her story, she's been inspiring me to do more than I thought I could. It's been a while since I did one of these Let's Talk About posts, so she seemed like the perfect one to discuss.

Who Is She?

Back in 2003, Bethany Hamilton was just a normal surfer. She was pretty good. Until a fateful day when she was attacked by a shark while surfing and lost her arm. Bethany survived, and even more amazing than that, she started surfing again. With one arm! Not only did she figure out how to do it with one less arm, she's good. She's won lots of meets since then.

Bethany has become an icon to people all over the world. From young women to amputees, she inspires people to push past what they think they can do and show the world they aren't weak. In 2013, Bethany married Adam Dirks and they now have a super adorable son named Tobias.

What Makes Her Inspiring?

• She's a Christian, and unashamed of it. If you read her books, she's just brimming with her faith. She's often talked about how it helped her get over losing her arm to the shark.

• She reminds me that I can be strong. If she can do things like fixing her hair, tying her shoes, or exercises with one arm, how much more can I do with two? When you think you can't, remember people like her that have it so much harder and try more.

• She's positive. It's hard to go through something like losing your arm, but she's managed to remain cheerful and positive through it all.

I would suggest you check out her books, Soul Surfer and Body and Soul. The first is about her experience with losing her arm, the second is a book for girls that encourages a healthy, faith-filled life. You should also watch the film made about her, also named Soul Surfer. It will probably make you cry, but it's super good.

Let's talk! Have you heard of Bethany Hamilton? If you have, is there any way she inspires you? Tell me in the comments.

October 3, 2017

Book Review: 100 Cupboards

Book Review: 100 Cupboards

100 Cupboards
by N. D. Wilson

Blurb: Lying in bed at night, twelve-year-old Henry York can't ignore the thumping and scratching he hears on the other side of his bedroom wall. He scrapes off the plaster and discovers doors- ninety-nine cupboards of all different sizes and shapes. Through one he hears the sound of falling rain. Through another he sees a glowing room- with a man strolling back and forth! Henry and his cousin Henrietta soon learn that these are not just cupboards, but portals to other worlds.

Cover Review: The whole thing just screams creepy. Between the greenish lighting and the yellow eyes peeking out at you, it certainly gives a hint to what's inside. But the many cupboards also give a hint to the magic this book contains. A great, engaging cover.

My Thoughts

I wanted something kind of scary for October, with Halloween and all, but I didn't have a lot of time to figure it out, so this was the best I could come up with. It is pretty scary for a middle grade novel.

Plot: The plot doesn't have a lot of action (at least not in this one), but it does have adventure. It almost like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, except there are a hundred magical doors instead of one. N. D. manages to keep the reader engaged, and also slightly scared, during the whole book. However, if you want to know the answers to any of the questions you have, you have to keep reading the series.

Characters: Wilson made a bold move here by naming two major characters Henry and Henrietta. I think it works because they're different lengths, although it can be confusing at times. I like Henry a lot. He's a boy who hasn't been allowed to do much in his life, so when he moves in with his uncle and aunt, he discovers a new way of living. Henrietta was a bit annoying to me. I've noticed that a lot with N. D.'s girl characters. It's either they're too bossy, or the boy isn't manly enough. I'm not sure.

Other than those two, there are Henry's aunt and uncle, Dotty and Frank, who are amazing. He also has two other cousins besides Henrietta, named Penny and Anastasia, who I like a lot. She's willing to stab a witch in the neck.

World: This book mixes our world and magic beautifully, and thing I think I like most about it, is that he shows our normal, everyday world, as being magical to someone who's never fully experienced it. I love how he took a perfectly normal thing like an attic, then filled it with doors leading all over the place. You don't get to see a lot of these places in this book, but if you keep reading, you will.

Other: This book is both magical and scary, which is a great combination. It may not be great for younger readers, but anyone older than that can enjoy it.

My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Let's talk! Have you read 100 Cupboards? Do you like magical but scary books? Tell me in the comments.

September 28, 2017

September Monthly Recap

September Monthly Recap

September has been a busy month of getting back into the schedule. It's also been warm most of the month, which is annoying because I want to break out my sweaters and fuzzy boots. It's fall, weather! Time to cool off. But moving past the weather, let's talk about what I've been up to this month.

What's Been Going On

Like I said, I've been trying to get back on a schedule, or at least as best I can. Life does happen, and things change every day. But I do have a bit of schedule going.

I didn't do a lot this month. There was Labor Day, the county fair, and my parents anniversary, which were all fun, but we didn't do anything big. I'm also doing my last year of violin, which is both nice and sad.

What I've Done


I'm finishing up another round of edits on The Girl with the Sword. I think it's almost ready for people to start critiquing and reading. I'm also thinking up a new name for it. That's always fun. (Hear the sarcasm?)

Speaking of new names, I have a new name for Return to Wonderland and the rest of the series. The name is now. . . New Magic and the whole series is going to be called Magic of Wonderland. The second and third books are called Missing Magic and Heart Magic.

Missing Magic is also the novel I'm going to be writing for NaNoWriMo. I'm already working on pre-writing it, because I'm that over-prepared person. This is the first time I've written a sequel, so I'm hoping it goes well.


I just drew out the main character, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts from New Magic. Celia, the main character, came out super good.

Celia, my MC
The Mad Hatter
The Queen of Hearts

I'm also getting into Studio Ghibli movies, because I'm playing some of the music for my violin class. One of them was My Neighbor Totoro, which I found adorable. So I had to draw the Totoro.

I've also taken some bookstagram pictures that I think are pretty good, so I think I'll do a picture post with them next month, or possibly in November, since that will be an easy post to do.

Where I've Gone

• The book festival. I wrote a whole post on it, which you can check out here.

• The beach. It was so nice last week, my dad took us to the beach on the spur of the moment. It was the perfect weather and lots of fun. I drew the picture below in my travel journal while I was there. We also saw a snake that was either a harmless water snake or a copperhead, so we steered clear.

Thoughts on October

• I'm going to keep preparing for NaNoWriMo. I've still got a lot of work to do plus getting all the things put in the site. I'm looking forward to seeing the update they're going to roll out.

• I have my driving test next week. Aggh! I really hope I pass.

• I've got to figure out what to be for Halloween. I forgot to think about it until a bit late for a super great costume, but I've got time to come up with something good.

• I want to get some editing done on Jeremiah was a Bullfrog, which also needs a new name. It's also getting close to the people actually reading it stage.

Let's talk! What have you done this month? Is it still insanely hot where you are too? Tell me in the comments.

September 25, 2017

September Book Reviews

September Book Reviews

I'm glad to be back with some normal book reviews this month. I've got some good, some great, and some bad ones for you, so let's get down to business. (To defeat the Huns.) As normal, all the books I didn't review here are linked to my Goodreads reviews if you want to see what I thought.

Best Books

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe- C. S. Lewis

My Rating: 5 stars


• Classic fantasy adventure. A magical realm, adventurous children, mythical creatures, and prophesies of greatness. Lewis wrote this book before any of these things were cliche, and even when you read it today, it's still amazing. This is my favorite book of the series and I love reading it over and over.

• The children. Each one has a unique personality. Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy- names that will go down in literary history. Lucy has always been my favorite. I also love how Lewis gave girls roles as important as the boys.

• The themes. Many themes run through the book, but none as deep as the theme of redemption. When I read the book this time, Edmund's story really struck me. He's always everyones least favorite character, but I realized that's because he's supposed to be like us, a sinner. Who can only be saved through someone else's sacrifice. It's powerful.


Absolutely nothing. Lewis is a master storyteller and I can't find a fault with any of his Narnia books.

Design for Dying- Renee Patrick

My Rating: 4 stars


• Lillian and Edith. These are the protagonists, and mystery solvers, of the novel. Lillian is an ex-actress-wannabe who now holds a steady job. I liked her because she had her feet on the ground and wasn't a wishy-washy young woman. Edith is a costume designer for one of the major movie studios and solves the mystery while giving fashion advice. The two of them worked well together.

• Old Hollywood glamour, with a dark side. I've always been fond of books about the 1920s and 30s, especially in California or Chicago. This book captured that old time feeling, plus showed a behind-the-scenes look at the world, past the movie making studios.

• Excellent mystery. I was engaged the whole way through, and didn't want to put it down. I didn't see any of the twists, or the killer coming. Of course, I don't like to guess who's the killer either, unlike some people. I like to let the mystery unfold in its own time.

• Fairly clean. There were no inappropriate scenes and not much cursing either, for an adult novel. It surprised me, as I haven't had a lot of success reading adult books that aren't classics yet.


• Too many characters. There were a ton of characters in this book, but not a lot to tell them apart. Actresses and gangsters flooded the pages so that I couldn't keep them straight. Agatha Christie was a genius with large casts, this author, not so much.

• Why does the girl always fall for the detective? This trope is becoming overused. This was another book where the MC girl falls in love with the handsome, always ready with a good comeback, totally macho detective. The romance was barely there, which I appreciated, but why can't they fall for someone else?

Worst Books

Target Practice- Mike Maihack

My Rating: 3 stars


• Good art. I like graphic novels with nice artwork. It wasn't my favorite style, but I liked the way it was done, the main character especially.

• Cute for kids. This book was a big pile of cliches, which I'll tell you about in a minute, but it would be fine for kids. They would enjoy it. I just didn't.


• The main character. Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt one, is the protagonist for this novel. I wanted to like her, I really did. But she was mouthy and untalented at everything except combat. There wasn't much to like.

• The storytelling. It started halfway through the story, which is generally a big no-no. Then it skipped back and started over to show you how she got there. This can be done well, like Cressida Cowell does, but I didn't like it here.

• Cliche plot. The main character is dragged to another world, turns out to be the savior, and instantly rejects the idea. Plus the personality I already mentioned. It was annoyingly predictable.

Legacy of the Clockwork Key- Kristen Bailey

My Rating: 3 stars (I'm not sure why I rated this one so high, except that it wasn't horrible. It just wasn't good.)


• Steampunk! There isn't nearly enough decent steampunk novels out there. I thought this one was fun, but it was a little over the top at times. I didn't understand how the machines worked, even though I wanted to. Steampunk doesn't have to be scientifically correct, but I like at least a plausible explanation.


• Meg. Who is the main character. She was not likable. She spent most of the book being wimpy, stupidly brave, or mooning over Will. *gags* Meg also had no skills except being the key. An automaton could have been more useful.

• Instalove. Meg meets Will and instantly starts getting heart flutters. And the only reason she falls in love with him is because he's handsome. The romance felt really rushed and unrealistic.

• Formulaic plot. It was a mystery/adventure, which I normally enjoy. This one hit all the marks but remained predictable. I didn't even understand why the bad guy was bad, and everything felt too easy.

However, judging by Goodreads, the second book is better, so I'm keeping my hopes up.

Notable Mention

Time Lord Fairy Tales- Justin Richards

I'm a huge Whovian. I've seen at least an episode from every Doctor, and all of the new Who episodes (except the second half of the Satan Pit, because it scared me, and the newest season, because it's not on Amazon Prime yet). Anyway, my friend let me borrow this book and I adored it.

It takes a bunch of fairy tales and makes them Doctor Who style. My favorites were "The Angels in the Garden" and "The Grief Collector". It was fun to see all the different Doctors fairy tale style. I even once starting reading on as a certain Doctor, then it turned out to be him. I only didn't know what one tale was supposed to be.

Other Books

Passenger- Alexandra Bracken (3 1/2 stars)
Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles- Katheryn Lasky (3 stars)
The Magician's Nephew- C. S. Lewis (5 stars)
This Savage Song- Victoria Schwab (4 stars)
Flygirl- Sherri L. Smith (4 stars)
King's Cage- Victoria Aveyard (3 stars)
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers- Deborah Heiligman (4 stars)
My Lady Jane- Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (4 stars)

Let's talk! What did you read this month? Do you hate predictable plots? Tell me in the comments.

September 21, 2017

12 Fairy Tale Retellings I Want to See

12 Fairy Tale Retellings I Want to See

I've loved fairy tales for a long time. Especially the beautifully illustrated ones you can find for children. Aren't they gorgeous? Not only are the stories fantastical and full of whimsy, they're also great because they often have such excellent morals.

Anyway, retellings are super popular right now. They're fun to write and read, and it gives us a new look at old tales. I love stories like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast as much of the next person, but I'm getting tired of the same four stories being told over and over.

In this post, I'm going to share twelve fairy tales that I would love to see written. Or write myself, depending. I'll give you a quick summery of each tale (which is probably horrible, so if you're interested in any of these, you should look them up for the full story) and some ideas on what you could do with it.

1: Snow White and Rose Red

Snow White and Rose Red is about two sisters who are kind to a talking bear that shows up at their house one night. They become friends. In the end, it turns out he was a prince turned into a bear by a nasty dwarf, who the prince kills. Snow White marries the prince, and Rose Red marries his brother (because princes always have brothers in these types of tales.)

This story has it all: romance, a prince in disguise, an evil dwarf, treasure, and death. I could see this set in a modern setting, or maybe in space. What if the two girls were foster sisters? Or the bear was really evil, not the dwarf? Who doesn't love some deception?

2: Hansel and Gretel

You probably already know the story of Hansel and Gretel, but I'll fill you in anyway. Hansel and Gretel were two children with a loving father and evil stepmother (surprise, surprise). She tries to get rid of them by sending them out in the forest to collect wood. The first time, they leave stones to find their way back, but the second time, they use breadcrumbs, which get eaten. They get lost and find a house made of candy where a witch lives. She catches them and locks them up to eat. But when she takes Hansel, or sometimes Gretel, out of the cage to eat, she's pushed into the stove and the children find their way home.

I know this story has been told before, but it always seems to make the siblings witch hunters. There's got to be more ways to retell the story than that. What about the witch has a scheme to capture lots of children for something, and Hansel and Gretel have to stop her? Or do something like Wicked and make the witch good and the kids bad?

3: Anything from One Thousand and One Nights

One Thousand and One Nights is full of one thousand different tales. There a many wonderful, unique tales to choose from, including famous ones like Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor. With so many stories, you're sure to find something to use for a retelling.

How you retell these stories depend on which one you pick. What about Sinbad, but with a girl instead? Or a modern day Aladdin? This would also be a good place to use some unique cultures, magical creatures, and mythology. Your problem is probably going to be picking a story to use.

4: The Six Swans

A king has six sons and one daughter. After his wife dies, he marries a new woman who is jealous of of the children. She turns his sons into swans, and they can only turn back for a few minutes every evening. Their sister sets out to find a way to turn them back, which is to sew six shirts of nettles for seven years without making a sound. While she's doing that, a prince finds her and falls in love. They marry. His mother-in-law, who is obviously wicked, takes away her first child when she gives birth and claims the girl got rid of it. She's sentenced to be burned at the stake. Her brothers show up just as she's about to be burned. She puts the shirts on them and saves them and herself.

I love this story because it features a family, a girl protagonist, and magic. I read one version of this set in space, and while it wasn't very good, that is a good idea to update the tale. Or what if she had to make shirts from something else, or put it in a different setting. And brainstorm more ways about why she can't talk? What will happen if she does?

5: Bearskin

Bearskin is about a man who makes a deal with a devil after the war. He has to wear a coat and skin and not cut his hair or nails for seven years. If he does so he'll be rich. The man agrees, but people are so revolted by him he can't find anywhere to stay. He finds an old man who is about to be sent to jail for not paying the innkeeper and leave his daughters without anyone to care for them. Bearskin gives him money to pay his debt and in return, the man says he can marry one of his daughters. Only the youngest agrees. He gives her a ring and promises to come back in a few years. After the time is up, Bearskin finishes his deal and returns to the girl. They marry and live happily.

This tale is a bit morbid, but it's a unique tale. There's plenty you could do with this story. Place it in the future with aliens. Change the devil to an imp or genie. Who doesn't like a tale with some true love and people in disguise?

6: Bluebeard

Bluebeard is a horrible, ugly nobleman who marries young women that mysteriously disappear. Another young woman is chosen as his wife. He gives her the keys to the house, but forbids her to go in the basement room. Obviously, she goes in to discover all his former wives dead and hanging on the walls. She runs from the room and tells her friend about it. Bluebeard returns from his trip and discovers what she did. He is about to kill her. She is saved by her friend's husband, who kills Bluebeard.

Bluebeard is a creepy and disgusting tale, but you could really go somewhere with it. It's got all the elements of a great story. A horrible villain, a curious woman, bodies in the basement. Maybe this could be made into a murder mystery. Or the girl could agree to marry him to discover what happened to the other wives. On second thought, I may not enjoy reading a retelling of this one, depending on the way it's told.

7: The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Almost everyone knows this one. There is a king with twelve beautiful daughters that he won't let marry anyone. They are discovered to have holes in their shoes every night and looking tired, like they've been out all night. However, no one sees them leave. The king offers a reward of a princess to whoever can figure out the mystery. A young man decides to try his luck. On his way to the castle, an old woman gives him some advice. Following what she said, he finds out the princesses are going to a magical land each night and dancing there. He reveals the secret and marries a daughter.

There have retellings of this one already, but it's such a pretty fairy tale, I'd love to see more. What if you placed it in a modern setting? Or add a mystery, like the princesses have to go to the magical land and the man has to figure out why? Or make it something besides dancing?

8: The Brave Little Tailor

A tailor is about to eat lunch when he sees flies gathering on his bread. He kills them and discovers seven. Being proud of that, he makes a belt that says "Seven with one blow". He decides to set out and seek his fortune (I guess he got an inflated ego). He meets some giants and tricks them into thinking he's strong and can kill seven men with one blow. He then joins the military, but everyone is too afraid of him. The king sends him on several impossible tasks, each of which the tailor completes. In the end he gets the princess's hand in marriage and half the kingdom.

I like this story because the tailor, despite having no skills, manages to convince everyone that he's some great hero, and comes out better for it. I could see this story being a really fun one, with a trickster main character. And someone who knows his secret, possibly threatening to reveal it unless the trickster does what he says.

9: Fairer-than-a-Fairy

This one's a bit complicated, so look it up if you want the full thing. Basically, this king names his daughter Fairer-Than-A-Fairy, which is a bad idea. An ugly old fairy comes and takes the girl away to be her servant. The girl grows up, falls in love with a prince the fairy turned into a rainbow, and manages to escape the fairy.

I've always found this tale interesting because it's so complicated. The girl has to do all sorts of stuff to get free of the fairy. I could totally see this tale set in a fantasy world, or in space. And maybe with some wicked twists. Like what if the prince doesn't love her, he's only trying to use to her get free?

10: The Goose Girl

There's a princess with a talking horse and a magical charm to protect her. She gets sent to marry a prince, and on the way loses her charm. Her maid takes advantage of that and forces her to change places. When they arrive at the castle, the maid claims to be the princess. The princess is made a goose girl. The boy she works with notices strange things about her and tells the king. The king tries to convince the girl to tell him, but she can't. He tells her to tell an iron stove instead, and hides inside it while she talks. Thus he learns about the maid's trickery. The king tells the maid about the false servant and asks her to pick a punishment. She says she should be dragged through town in a barrel full of spikes until she dies, so that's exactly what happens to her. The prince and princess marry and live happily ever after.

Don't you just love a story where the villain comes to a nasty end? Plus, the princess in this story has a very Cinderella attitude, which is nice compared to some of the people in today's novels. This tale could be made into quite the story. Add some tension. Maybe the maid is a evil creature in disguise. Maybe the princess doesn't want the prince in the end because he couldn't tell the difference between a princess and a maid.

11: The Pied Piper

This is another famous tale. There's a town called Hamlin that's over-run with rats. A man shows up and offers to get rid of the rats in one day. The people don't think it's possible, so they agree to his price. He pulls out a flute and plays. The rats follow him right out of town. But the townspeople, being greedy, don't want to pay him. He warns them to pay him or they'll regret it. They don't, so he plays his flute again and takes away the children, who are never seen again.

Interesting fact: this story is based off of a real town in France where there were no children. Some people speculate it might have been the plague. Can't you just see what a creepy story this could make? Or what if you picked up after the story, telling about what happened to the children? Or told the story from the piper's point of view?

12: The Water of Life

There was a king who was dying, so he sent his three sons out to find the water of life to heal him. The two older brothers were mean to a dwarf on their journey, so he punished them. Only the youngest was kind and the dwarf told him how to find the water of life. He meets a princess on the way and they fall in love. The youngest brother returns to the kingdom with his brothers, being the only one with the water of life. The older brothers take it and switch it for sea water. That makes the king sicker. When he is healed by the older brothers, he orders the young brother killed. He escapes instead. Later the king is sorry for it, learns his son lived, and asks him to come back. The youngest prince goes to retrieve the princess and the two live happily ever after.

This story is kind of a mix of elements. Mean older brothers, lots of tests, and an escape from death. This is another tale I could see doing well in space, or in the modern day. Or maybe you could reverse it, so it was sisters and a prince. Or maybe the princess is a witch trying to trap the prince.

Let's talk! What are some fairy tales you would like to see retold? Do you have any favorite tales? Tell me in the comments.