BLOOD PHOENIX: INFERNO |Cover Reveal and Book Trailer

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I have been on journey with my new novel, drafting it faster than I’ve ever completed one before—five months from start to finish. A totally mind-blowing feat for me.

Add to this, the culmination of rebranding over the last few years has sent me to a cover artist to create new covers for the series. We started with book four, this book—BLOOD PHOENIX: INFERNO—and I am so SO happy to share it.

Big thanks to Christian from Covers by Christian. Not only was he patient with my pickiness, he churned out a cover that fits the book so well.

The angst.

The magick.

The wear from breaking my main character, Ria.

Okay, let me reign myself in. If I get myself too excited, I’m going to reveal too much, but I do want backdrop the cover a little bit with one small detail.

Those marks on her back are the catalyst to her next stage in the paranormal evolution, shoving her into a transformation that will take hold before the end of book five (the final chapter of Ria’s story).

All right, no more belaboring the point of this post. Here’s the book’s official blurb and the cover!

Drawing the Scarlet Queen to central New York’s training grounds, Ria’s remarkable blood triggers negotiations between two kingdoms.

Ria questions her own humanity when she finds herself aligned with Phea, the vampire queen—a woman who’s tortured her and her friends for months.

As all of her secrets unravel around her, Ria is forced to conform or sacrifice the people she loves.

If she doesn’t find a way to break their alliance, the balance of the universe will plunge deeper into chaos, and no one will be safe.

With a sprinkling of Twilight, a bite of Anita Blake, and a smattering of satirical Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you won’t want to miss this dark and witty vampire series.

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Now, I can’t help myself! Here’s the first two chapters of the new installment, coming this November. And I’ll be linking the official book trailer below.

Chapter One

Gene burst into my room and jarred me upright in my bed. Nausea burrowed into my gut, finding its old nesting hole to roll around in. Oh god. I was going to be sick again.

“Get dressed. We’re expected in the clearing.” He pulled the sheets back to hurry me along.

“What’s going on?”

The shift to get out of bed set off warning bells, and my head sank between my knees.

“Another renegade.”

My esophagus shrank.

I bolted to the bathroom, kicking the door closed as I bent over the toilet and puked. This has been my routine for the last few weeks. Gene was unhappy to admit that it might contribute to my lack of faerie blood, but he gladly filled in the gaps in my needs as he could.

“We do not have time—”

I wiped my mouth on the back of my hand. “Pull out something for me to wear. I won’t be long.”

Another wave trampled me.

My stomach churned out more bile.

I rinsed and waited.

Twice was my pattern, but some days…so I lingered.

Five deep breaths, and I opened the door to a dress.

“Come on. Are you kidding me?”

“We do not have time.”

Ugh. I snatched it and threw it over my head, snagging the heels that would sink into the grass in the clearing. Gene both ushered and supported me as I slipped into the shoes on our way out of the apartment door.

“I didn’t know James was looking for anyone.” Fidgeting with the dress top, the line didn’t match the sports bra I wore beneath it.

“He’s not the only one with the job.”

We stood around the semi-circle as Phea strode across the lawn, waiting in her usual spot across from the pathway onto the grounds, dressed like the true queen she was. Powerful. Elegant. Elevated.

She took up the entire clearing with her presence.

Not that long ago, I tramped through that foliage to face the queen of the vampires and ended the evening with a stake beside my heart, dying, and claimed by a man I didn’t know—the one I’d grown reliant on, connected to, comfortable with. I suppressed the urge to reach for his hand now.

The brush rustled, and Vincent stepped through—all doom and danger—then Julia appeared.

That couldn’t be.

Julia was dead.

Dead-dead.

Set-herself-on-fire dead.

The blonde hair shimmered, and Julia vanished. In her place stood the small blonde woman I’d seen in Vincent’s memories. A patch of hair buzzed around her ear, a gold piece holding her hair in place to expose it, and her rainbow eyes glowed with the kind of power that seemed regal.

Not what I expected out of a renegade.

Nor was the corset covering her abundant dress.

Phea’s surprise shifted her unnaturally, like when a cat tilted its head on its side but not nearly as dramatic. Scarlet stood from her dais on the porch behind our queen—a queen of her own. Bloody, they said. The Scarlet Queen.

“May I present Nani, Maka Nani, noble faerie of the underwater mound.” Vincent presented her in the same way James, my maker, presented me to Phea. An offering.

And that’s exactly what she was.

“Oh, Commander, how naughty you’ve been.”

His bow held an intimacy that came from a reformed renegade. One that made her third in command so loyal to her. Nani, the new vampire, fell into a graceful and practiced curtsy without buckling under fear.

Certainly not a normal renegade.

Scarlet’s obvious interest countered her usual demeanor, wicked and cold—colder than Phea, and it seemed to spark a challenge between the two, given the recent trend of sacrifices they paraded through the grounds.

“She is my claim, Your Majesty.”

“General.” Phea’s demand hung in the air, and James dragged a bent over T that once chained him in place to punish him for my vampirism. Now, he thrust the sharpened end into the ground as Vincent stepped forward to take it. “We have a punishment to dole out, and if your fae wants to be tested as yours, she will have to watch and wait through it before she undergoes her own trials.”

“She’s strong enough.”

Nani shifted behind him, but Vincent kept his gaze on our queen as he efficiently disrobed and braced himself within the metal cuffs at the ends of the T-top.

It was more than I wanted to see of him, looking over James instead in his suit and newly shortened hair. He stood as her soldier with a large, wooden box in hand.

Phea flicked her wrist, and the shackles snapped around Vincent’s.

James presented her whip.

She touched the scar on his chin before taking the weapon and slashing it across the grass, a snake promising to strike.

Feet jarred from under him, Vincent took the weight in his shoulders, but instead of the devoted bliss he often aimed at our queen, he seemed to find solace in his new claim.

Nani’s hands clenched the puffy fabric of her skirt, but she maintained her decorum. Like a princess.

Man, I really didn’t want to witness this again. I barely endured it when she’d done this to James. Well, if you could call it that. Felix taunted me right in the middle of this group while she split James’s skin open. Vincent held me as Felix and Gene fought. I hadn’t seen so much of the act.

Felix, our queen’s pet, was gone now, too.

Did Phea think he was out on a renegade hunt? That the new vampires I’d killed and sent off with the Assetatomerely ran off or got themselves killed? She had to suspect me.

I’d stabbed him in the heart after all. Like they’d forced me to do to Harris.

Too many deaths under my belt in too few weeks.

Witchet-crack.

The whip struck flesh, breaking the sound barrier and bringing me back from the neurotic melancholy I’d grown too used to sulking in.

The musky scent of his blood tapped my heartbeat in my fangs and curdled my insides.

Each strike uncovered the madness in Phea’s eyes—one I didn’t see when she’d done this to James—then, I hadn’t exactly been watching her.

Her whip slid around her, leaving traces of blood across her dark clothes.

And they referred to Scarlet the bloody queen?

I traced the lines of Gene’s jacket with my gaze, the way his hands folded together in front of him, the clean press along the creases, the swoop of his dark hair styled in almond oil. The scent calmed me from here. My attention must have burned his skin because his shoulders rolled, and he tipped his face my way to spare a glance.

I forced a smile to say I was okay. Just trying to not really pay attention over here.

Witchet-crack.

I flinched, working on my breath. It didn’t help, funneling more of Vincent’s musky blood into my sinuses. I could practically taste him.

James shifted on the other side of the circle, far enough to keep clear of the gore. With his expensive taste, I understood why.

The new persona he’d taken on after he changed me and brought me here didn’t fit him like his suit did. Standing at ease, clasped arms behind him exaggerated his shoulders’ width.

He met my gaze between the full-fledged vampires I stood behind. The planes of his face were blank, but amusement twinkled in the blackness of his eyes; beyond the gruesome display he found humor in my rushed attire. At least, that’s what the trajectory of his examination suggested.

I tugged at the clingy fabric, the static twisting it between my thighs.

Did a corner of his mouth quirk?

Witchet-crack.

I jerked and shifted again, aware of someone else watching me.

Torture consumed Phea, Nani, and most of those gathered, but not Scarlet. No, I seemed to fascinate her. As much as the thought wormed its way down my spine and made me squirm, it had been this way since Tahe and I returned from the attack at the mall. For a while, I assumed she sensed Boden on me in some way, but I didn’t know if fae possessed that kind of discernment.

Wishful thinking kept me from examining this too closely.

Maybe she got wind of my more-than-inflated reputation.

It’s not like I held a candle to either queen.

But those too-round eyes, that demeanor, those gloved hands…all unsettled me.

Might be the stories and gossip Tahe whispered in my ear when we went into town to feed.

Scarlet smiled at me, manipulative and sweet.

Had this been a few weeks ago, I might have reached for Gene’s hand to stabilize my emotions and my abilities, but my mentor has put in the work with me, gotten me to put in the work, too, and I had control. At least in times like this.

Put me against her directly, however, and I’d likely be singing a different story.

Scarlet paced on the dais behind the performance, giving her an excellent view of the gory bits—something she enjoyed—but her head tilted, remaining privy to my every move.

Witchet-crack.

Shaking my head, I tuned her out and rubbed the scar on my chest. It didn’t dull the burning reminder of how the wood felt as it slammed between my ribs.

Witchet-crack.

Damned glad this wasn’t my problem.

 

Chapter Two

Gene escorted me to his apartment in the Victorian house. I sank into his comfy, leather couch, holding my middle and urging my body to settle while he swept the living room, partial kitchen, and bedroom before settling in front of me.

“Coffee or blood?”

“What?” Queasiness curdled deeper.

“For your stomach, which would you prefer, coffee or blood?”

My choices warred with each other, simultaneously appetizing and revolting. I couldn’t decide, so I leaned into his shoulder instead.

Warmth engulfed my sides and back as his hand generated circles.

One of our cycles. Me queasy or puking. Him unsure what to do for me. We’d already discussed the possibilities of needing fae blood, and as sick as I was of being ill, I didn’t want to bring up that discussion again. There was no point to it.

The vanilla, honey, and almond scent of him took the edge off, so we spent a lot of time in close proximity, especially in the mornings when it was worst.

That meant a lot of sleepovers and cuddling.

Intimacy bloomed between us, and I struggled with it.

It sent us in another routine of warm, cold, hot, too hot, cold, and around again.

Demanding and pronounced taps struck his front door, pulling us apart.

Visitors made a habit of separating us. Unannounced and dangerous.

Gene paused to brush my bangs from my face and drop a kiss on my mouth before he helped me upright. Whoever showed up probably meant to gain something from me—an upper hand, information, fear. Being tired and aware of it didn’t keep it from happening.

I braced myself behind him, peeking from behind his shoulders.

He opened the door to Scarlet.

That prickling I used to get when Felix’s power crawled over my skin returned, but the threat was far more perilous.

A tug at her gloves and a brief touch to her pearls, Scarlet nodded to acknowledge us both. “Do I get the offer of coffee or blood? I almost always take blood, whether offered or not. Almost.”

The quirk of her mouth disturbed me.

Gene’s shoulders tightened under his suit jacket.

“I find it strange. You two have retired here five of seven nights this week.”

“I do not see how our nightly routine or where we retire is of interest to you or how it is any of your business.”

A shift in her stance read offense. “I heard you were one to follow rules and protocol, and here I am still standing in the hallway like some kind of beggar.”

Scarlet didn’t force her way in the way Felix or Vincent might. Instead, she smoothed down the fabric of her bodice and sighed. “You think just because I lost the ability to flay someone with my bare hands keeps me from enjoying the use of a blade? That I don’t have any other abilities? It was easy enough to gain power with it, but keeping influence and position brought new challenges. Different attention. More subtly. I have a new way of dealing with obstacles now.”

“How’s that?” Gene moved to block me once more.

“Why, I deal in secrets. And you’re teeming in them.” Her gaze found me anyways. “The both of you are.”

Gene and I exchanged a look, clearly dismissing me from the room. I didn’t want to leave him there alone with her, but I’d learned to trust him.

“I didn’t say she could leave.”

“You’re not our queen, and etiquette says you’ll deal with me as our hierarchy dictates.”

“It may be in your best interests not to send me after her when you’re not present, especially since she enjoys spending so much time with that pack of humans. Hierarchy would not serve her well then.”

I met her gaze fully. A challenge to her authority.

Even though I am not the highest amongst them, depending on who was present, they were powerless against her, and she’d force me to break protocol anyways.

My hand braced Gene’s elbow. He broke his protective barrier between us.

“So, what do you want from me? The more specific you can be, the better,” I said.

Her lips and brows quirked. “I see why you tend to conduct the meetings, but I am not surprised. Her attitude proceeds her. Generating a mythos of her own, spreading wide, and once it’s penetrated too far, you’ll not be able to contain or control it.”

I fought not to roll my eyes. Didn’t I say to be specific?

“And?”

Ria.” Gene gave me a shot of magick to chide me.

I crossed my arms and waited.

Scarlet met my challenge with a practiced ease. “Your secrets, renegade. I want your secrets.”

A deep breath jangled her pearls, and she wiped her hands down her bodice once more.

My fingers tightened around my biceps. She’d have to wait in line.

“Not right this moment, mind you, my reputation doesn’t include my sense of patience, but I know when to utilize it if I must.” A few curious blinks, and she acknowledged us both individually before turning from the door. “Not forever, though.”

Adrenaline shook my hands and shoulders, so I gripped myself harder as Gene closed the door.

“You shouldn’t goad her. She might not be our queen, but she has enough power to slaughter scores of her own people and ours.”

“I know.”

“It’s like you have a death wish.”

“I don’t.”

“Why do you challenge her then?”

“Because she’s the epitome of authority, and you know how I am with that.”

Gene mimicked my stance, arms folding across his chest. “Quite intimately, but I do not find that to be an adequate answer.”

A tilt of my head shifted his weight in response. His tendency to lecture me came from a good place, so I sighed.

“How about because I’m sick of every other creature looking at me like an anomaly, like my secrets are the answer to whatever power struggle they’re entangled in, like I’m some prize to cash in on. I am a person. Not property—”

Gene cleared his throat, reminding me that I wasn’t quite right. He didn’t need to, but that didn’t mean I agreed with how this society pinned me as such.

“—to be used as some type of magickal talisman. I just want to be left alone.”

“I do not disagree with you, but you will have to give up the pipedream. Reality is ruthless, and the sooner you understand that, the safer I can keep you.”

Another dose of adrenaline sucker punched me right where I was sensitive. My arms unfolded, and I cradled myself for the jog to the bathroom.

I cursed life as an immortal the entire time. How could I be this sick as a vampire?

I missed how easily Boden’s touch tended to soothe this pain.

Gene came in after, a glass of water at the ready.

Thanking him, I swished and spat before I flushed.

“Coffee or blood?”

Exasperated, I couldn’t refrain from the eye roll. “Coffee.”

 

And the trailer! I’m so excited for this book, y’all.

Figuring Out Fictional Motherhood

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As a woman who lucked out, getting to take part in raising children without having to push them out of my body, the idea of motherhood for me is a bit skewed.

This creates a challenge for me as I begin writing my way toward motherhood for several characters. Luckily, I have plenty of friends and family to question about what pregnancy and child-rearing is like; plus, the internet has a buttload of information—both medically and anecdotally.

I got to learn about those super long needles used to test DNA, called an Amniocentesis Test, the stages of baby bump, what sonograms look like, what it’s like to establish a connection with the baby as it grows. Yup, lots of things that I’ll never experience.

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That’s the fun thing about writing a wide range of characters, with enough research and imagination, I can nail motherhood. At least, fictionally. I’ve known Ria wanted kids throughout her entire series so far. Several of her past lives featured kids. Each of the books, so far, has put her in the position to instinctually save children, and she naturally wants to save people, especially the innocent. It’s in her nature to act motherly. Her mother, Tatiana, has to get used to and give up on being a mother in a matter of nine months. Kaia is barreling towards motherhood and step-motherhood with one last novel to wrap up her saga.

I’m hoping I can vary them enough to show a spectrum of mom experiences.

So, yeah, here comes the babies.

Wow, that’s so awkward of me to say.

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Here’s to tapping into my own step-motherhood, auntiness, cat-motherhood, and teacheriness to pull these varying moms off in a realistic way.

 

Got any tips for handling the many moods of babies since I got my yahoos in the threes and fours? I’d love to know how you handle character experiences that drastically differ from your won. Leave me your advice in the comments below!

Creating the Stages of Grief in Fictional Characters

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Grief has been long understood as the eventual progression of steps we walk through after a loss. Most think of it as a straight route through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, but the truth is that grief is a mess of loops and tangents and backtracking through these emotions without a specific or defined trajectory.

It also has more parts than we once knew, adding shock before denial and testing before acceptance. Let’s break down the steps to better understand real grief so that we can write about it with better accuracy.

First, every person—and therefore, every character—experiences grief differently, and we grieve over many types of losses: a loved one dying, the end of a relationship, losing a home or a job, amputation, terminal health diagnoses, and having to drop out of a program, etc.

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Second, grief is cyclical and has no specific rhyme or reason. We can jump around, repeat, and remain stagnant in several stages before we make progress in dealing with our losses, and the process will take longer for some than others.

Here are the stages:

Shock | Initial shutdown at receiving the bad news. This typically comes with numbness, fogginess, or disbelief. This is when we run on autopilot, protecting us from that early pain.

Denial | Avoiding the inescapable. Although psychology has deemed denial as a negative symptom, in grief, denial is healthy in moderate quantities. It’s the brains way of making itself feel better until it can fully face the loss. Easing into the difficult reality is denial’s job, ensuring that we don’t face it all at once.

Anger | Aggravated outburst of bottled-up emotion. This may be anger at the source of our loss—the person who died or left or fired us, etc. Sarcasm or increased irritation from minor problems is caused by the energy needed to move on. Anger can happen at any period of grief, and it often cycles.

Bargaining | Futile pursuit of getting back what was lost. This is when people beg god or the universe to reverse the tragedy, promising to live better, do better, and end bad habits in exchange. These can generate uncomfortable conversations that lead nowhere.

Depression | The final comprehension of the unavoidable. This is accompanied by sadness and crying, loss of appetite or disrupted sleep patterns, unexplained aches and pains, and it seems like this could be the end of our life. And it is the end of an old normal.

Testing | Pursuing genuine paths forward. While in that dark pit of depression, we recognize that we can’t stay there forever. Thus, we start experimenting for ways out, doing things to relieve the despair, crawling out of the dark hole toward acceptance.

Acceptance | Finally establishing a new normal. Recognizing the importance of the person or thing lost, we lack the anger once harbored for it or the need to barter for its return. Instead, we begin building our new lives. This comes with absolute peace, but the stage is so hard won that most never fully reach acceptance.

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Managing each of these states accurately within a character’s story arc takes careful planning. Or, at least, that’s what I like to think. I planned each bit for my new diary story where a mom realizes she will die to give birth to her baby. I’m sure they’ll change slightly for organic developments.

We also naturally understand these steps when we cause grief to our characters, leading them through their own loops without planning, but there’s something to be said for a little structure, even if it comes afterwards, in revision.

The most important thing to note is that reality comes in variety—not just excessive crying or vowing revenge. Some process internally and others externally. We all cope differently, so this means creating distinct reactions that don’t simply end, no matter if the world needs saving. This is why reactions sprinkle through a person’s life instead of stopping it.

My point is, if you’re going to tackle grief with your characters, be sure to keep it in sight as your creations interact with the world.

Have you tackled grief in your stories or plan to? Tell me about how you’re tackling it in the comments below.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/grief/understanding-the-stages-of-grief/

https://www.griefandsympathy.com/whatisshock.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/supersurvivors/201707/why-the-five-stages-grief-are-wrong

http://changingminds.org/disciplines/change_management/kubler_ross/testing_stage.htm

https://storyembers.org/six-tips-for-writing-grief-realistically/

 

 

My Summer Wrap Up & Memory Keeping

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Want to watch me prep for my Fall Semester and check out my new classroom? Check out my new Day in the Life vlog.

 

Y’all, I have never had a summer fly by as fast as this one did. Man!

The good news is, I got to spend a lot of quality time with my family back in New York, I published a novella, finished the first draft of a novel—completing Camp NaNoWriMo, started vlogging about writing and editing on YouTube, finished my first round of edits on an old novel, and put together a cookbook for a client. Wow, when I put it all down on paper, that sounds like way too much. Still, it was a lot of fun!

I’ve got plenty of new goals for the rest of the year, but I surpassed a major milestone in these last few months and that’s my word count goal for the year. FOR THE YEAR. By August. Um…what?

My original goal was 106,000 words, I’m just shy of 116,000 words.

I didn’t think I’d get past 100,000 since I’d been struggling these last few years to get words to paper. I will admit that since the start of August, my word count has dropped significantly, but I’m trying to not completely lose the habit amongst the chaos of the Fall Semester, teaching four classes, editing an anthology and two books, and publishing another.

I wonder, however, if my yearly habit should be front heavy. Writing packed into the slow times of the year, and focusing on editing and marketing for the last quarter. Ooo, y’all, I have so many new ideas to get ahead.

Honestly, I’ve been leaning more and more that way the last couple of years, but I feel like my yearly planning system is about to change. Here’s hoping I can keep more realistic goals, so that I can keep meeting them.

Okay, sorry for that tangent, but when ideas strike, sometimes, you just have to go for the ride.

To end, I want to highlight some of my favorite memories from the summer:

~My plane landing early and ruining the surprise my mom planned with the kids holding signs with my name on it. They were still really cute, and I loved it.

~Strawberry picking with the family.

~Having a no-looking drawing contest with my niece in the back seat of my mom’s car.

~Chatting with my brother about Arizona

~Watching Bosch, Absentia, and Timeless with my dad; A Discovery of Witches with my mom; Letterkenny with my friend/sister, Donna; Entourage with my Uncle John.

~Going to the craft show with my mom and forgetting to pay the library ladies for the coffee and donuts before remembering and literally running back to pay them.

~The cookout with my Aunt Mikki and cousins Joel and Cameron, and making that’s-what-she-said jokes to him and his girlfriend much to their shock.

~Visiting my grandma in the hospital and having her mistake me for one of the nurses, but the moment she knew I was there, she boasted about me to the actual nurses.

~Having dinner and drinks and talk around the bonfire with my Aunt Karin and cousins Rachel and Naomi. We toasted each other all night.

~Going to the gym with my step-dad, Dan, and teasing my mom whenever we went somewhere together by singing, “waiting on the woman,” to her as we waited for her to pull the car out of the garage.

~Going to Strong with my mom and step-dad, and the nurse asking him to flip over his hand, so he gives her his other one, and all of us giggling together.

~So many trips to the ice cream stand and lots and lots of food!

It was a good time, y’all.

How did your summer go? Tell me in the comments below!

Did You Know…About the Scarlet Queen?

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Marusya Negreev, the Scarlet Queen, single-handedly seized the faerie mound in the Soviet Union just before the Russian Revolution and the fall of Tsar Nicholas the second. Many believe that the fall of the mound influenced the fall of the tsar’s regime, but no one knows for certain.

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When Marusya gained power within the Soviet mound, she flayed her own parents for her merciless upbringing and proved to the people that she would defeat all who came against her. Ruthless and dispassionate, her name was a sign of what she’d been burdened with, and her family was blamed for much of her bitterness. Names prove potent enough to taint the soul, especially amongst the faerie folk.

Many fae died without their home to hide within—exposed to the Celampresians and humans. Anyone who did not serve Marusya fled her rule. Too many didn’t make it out and more never found their way to safety.

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Immediately following Queen Tarkovsky stepping down from the Soviet throne, Scarlet ordered the execution of what amounted to be a hundred-thousand faerie folk, more than a third of the population, earning her the title as the Scarlet Queen. The bloody queen.

She ran off to join the Celampresians as the revolutionaries gained greater numbers than she had the strength to fight from within the mound. Her death toll rose to a quarter million afterwards.

Now, she works with the vampire queen, searching for ways inside what was left of the independent mounds and the truth about her birth.

Camp NaNoWriMo Week Five and Final Update

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Hello, lovelies!

It’s done. Oh my shit, it’s done. Camp. The book. All of it.

But believe me, the book did not want to end. I kept plugging and plugging and plugging, and the book got longer and longer and longer. It finally wrapped itself up at 94,500 words, and fifty-three chapters.

I sat for a day in disbelief that I’d finished it and rewarded myself with a few chapters of reading for pleasure.

Want to see me try and talk my way through the ending? Check out my Camp writing vlog below.

In my last four days of camp—because my week starts on Sunday, not Monday, fight me about it—I racked up close to five-thousand words and all of my remaining minutes. Actually, with the last day, I got an extra five hours in because I wouldn’t let myself plug in those last ten minutes until the book was done.

Okay, let’s be honest, I would have by midnight because I like checking off the box that says I’d complete something, but the prolonging of button-clicking gratification pushed me to find that ending.

So, here are my number so the week:

Minutes Completed: 585/480

Words Written: 4,989

Total Minutes Completed: 3,720/3,720

Total Words Written: 27,964/20,000

Final note: I WON!

It feels nice to win Camp NaNoWriMo again. It’s been a while. In fact, this year has reminded me just how important writing is to my life. And now that I’ve made it a focus, I’m certainly not letting go of it again if I can help it.

 

Well, I’ll be back next week with a project update and an editing vlog, where I dive back into INFERNO to take a full look at it. In the meantime, let me know how you celebrate when you finish a project in the comments below.

 

Breaking Down Satire: Vividness

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Since one of the main descriptions of satire is the use of vivid language that clearly depicts painful, bizarre, foolish, and wicked events and people in order to make an audience aware of how blinded or insensitive or numb we can become to the truths in which we often must overlook to get through our day. Okay, that opens a can of worms that I will actually dig into.

Let’s jump right into an example, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” one of my favorite stories to teach for the satire unit.

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Ursula K. Le Guin does an excellent job of crafting this magnificent place, and she does so straight away with her first lines:

With the clamor of bells that set the swallows soring, the Festival of Summer came to the city of Omelas, bright-towered by the sea. The rigging of the boats in harbor sparkled with flags. In the streets between houses with red roofs and painted walls, between old miss-grown gardens and under avenues of trees, past great parks and public buildings, processions moved.

And:

An old woman, small, fat, and laughing, is passing out flowers from a basket, and tall young men wear her flowers in their shining hair. A child of nine or ten sits at the edge of the crowd, alone, playing on a wooden flute. People pause to listen, and they smile, but they do not speak to him, for he never ceases playing and never sees them, his dark eyes wholly rapt in the sweet, thin magic of the tune.

Both create a sense of awe, of fairy tale, or a utopia, which is what Le Guin works for six pages to make us believe in—something more unbelievable than a fairy tale. Utopias cannot exist. Especially not on a large scale.

And that, my friends, is her point. She often asks the reader, “Do you believe me now?”

Then, she drops this bomb on us, more vivid than any of her previous imagery:

Do you believe? Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describe one more thing.

In a basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Omelas, or perhaps in the cellar of one of its spacious private homes, there is a room. It has one locked door, and no window. A little light seeps in dustily between cracks in the boards, secondhand from a cobwebbed window somewhere across the cellar. In one corner of the little room a couple of mops, with stiff, clotted, foul-smelling heads, stand near a rusty bucket. The floor is dirt, a little damp to the touch, as cellar dirt usually is. The room is about three aces long and two wide: a mere broom closet or disused tool room. In the room a child is sitting. It could be a boy or a girl. It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect. It picks its nose and occasionally fumbles vaguely with its toes or genitals, as it sits hunched in the corner farthest from the buck and the two mops. It is afraid of the mops. It finds them horrible. It shuts its eyes, but it knows the mops are still standing there; and the door is locked and nobody will come…but the child, who has not always lived in the tool room, and can remember sunlight and its mother’s voice, sometimes speaks. ‘I will be good,’ it says. ‘Please let me out. I will be good!’

Although may lessons can be taken by the way she sets up the trajectory of the story, the largest impact comes in comparing that first child, the flue player, with the child in the closet. Le Guin lays out the rules, without that single sacrifice, that boy wouldn’t have been so blissfully wrapped in the tune of his flute.

In fact, the entire city would fall apart, and so would its people:

If the child were brought up into the sunlight out of that vile place, if it were cleaned and fed and comforted, that would be a good thing indeed; but if it were one, in that day and hour all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed. Those are the terms. To exchange all the goodness and grave of every life in Omleas for that single, small improvement: to throw away the happiness of thousands for the change of the happiness of one…

I hope the point is obvious. Since utopia means something different for all of us, when one is enacted, there will always be someone who is oppressed and violated. Someone will always suffer so that others can have more.

I, of course, use this in class to talk about all types of things, like child slave labor and bad business practices of big conglomerates. But it also allows me to force their hand, to make them look at their bad behavior, at all of ours, because those conglomerates wouldn’t be so big if we didn’t buy their products. But when Le Guin makes that connection between the children, she is describing us—those of us with the easy connection to the internet, who carry computers around in our pockets, drive our own cars to work or school, have more food than we can eat in a week, those of us who have to work fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty ours a week to have a little more than the bare minimum.

She is also talking about the rich and powerful, too, don’t let me distract from that, but they aren’t reading this story. My students are, and they have to know that those luxuries are available to us because of that eight-year-old digging in a field to extract cocoa and coffee beans. Those people who try to jump to their deaths from the top floor of a third-world factory, making our leading brand of phones, because they’re treated so poorly—only to be caught in nets and rolled right back into work.

We buy those products and fuel those businesses. We vote with our dollar, but most of us do not think about it.

We’re distracted by those toys, by the hustle to be successful, to make more money, to live an easier life. Because it’s hard to do. It makes sense that we don’t stop to think about it, and when we do, we feel the pull of that game on our phone, that social media feed, that cat video. We can’t do anything as a single person amongst billions.

That’s why Le Guin names the story after her brilliant ending. There are ones that walk away from the city because they can’t live with their happiness hinging on someone else’s misery.

If you get the chance to read the full story, I encourage you to. Her ability to so vividly describe this place and this problem makes it rich with connections and layers of meaning. And that’s what vividness should do for a satirical text—highlight their point and infuriate their readers.

 

Have you had a vivid description impact you in this way? Let me know about it in the comments below.

Academy Book Fair Giveaway

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Hey, lovelies!

Want to win a complete set of the Harry Potter series? Check out the Academy Book Fair, featuring one of my books, THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR.

For the festivities, here’s an entire chapter from the novel.

 

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN Crazy. Not Stupid.

Uncle Henry insisted on driving me the two minutes to school as a show of authority in taking on my father’s parental role. In fact, he escorted me on campus and to detention to meet Adam.

Luckily, or maybe out of my uncle’s design, we arrived first. When they shook hands, my uncle morphed into a no-nonsense-FBI-dad, and I swear he grew two inches taller like he’d had to intimidate paranormal creatures as a career. Maybe towering over criminals felt the same to him.

And maybe, he’d teach me that someday.

Adam didn’t skip a beat as I took the front left corner desk by the window.

“I worry about the people your niece associates with. She has quite the potential to make a good REP agent, but she has to apply herself instead of being distracted by the nonsense.”

I walked back to Uncle Henry, who held my extra bag of books—I stuffed my backpack with snacks and divided my research into two shopping totes that wouldn’t see a vegetable for quite some time. I smiled up at him as I retrieved it silently from his grip and returned to my seat.

“She’s a good kid. I don’t expect she’ll give you much trouble. And the Walkers are good people, even if their son likes fireworks.”

The corner of Adam’s mouth twinged.

Mine, too. I should have figured my uncle knew everyone in town at least to some degree, but I hadn’t thought about it.

“Yes. Unfortunately, the destruction in one of our labs was a bit more extensive than some loud bangs and flashes of light. Dragons are not toys.”

“Then I hope the school isn’t handing them out indiscriminately.”

Humor shifted Adam’s stance, seeing the family resemblance in the way Uncle Henry defended me without denying my involvement in the Moon debacle.

“I wouldn’t know. Her instincts to run toward danger rather than from it is commendable.” Wow, did he just compliment me? “But until she’s had the proper training, we need to reinforce her need to seek out the proper authorities instead of rushing in.”

Damn. That hit an FBI nerve. Too many stories about not being prepared and getting myself killed echoed in the training sessions he’d run me through.

“We can agree on that,” Uncle Henry said as another student entered detention—totally his cue to stop before he embarrassed me. “You let me know what she needs work on, and I’ll be sure she has the practice.”

With a handshake, my guardian disappeared, and I dropped my head to my things before Adam could catch my attention and likely lecture me for that exchange.

A bag clattered on the floor catty-corner to me and a paper cup with lid scraped the top of my desk. Evan dropped into a desk with a cardboard cup holder and a second drink.

“You moving in?”

Radiating my embarrassment, I tucked the scarf more tightly around my ears. “If I have to be stuck here, I may as well make it a productive time.”

“Takes the fun out of getting detention.” The delinquent look Evan shot Adam’s way knotted my stomach. I did not want to get caught in the middle of whatever feud they had. At least not any more than I already was.

I shook my head and sipped the coffee he’d brought me—sweet but not too sweet, with milk but dark. Good, but not enough to have me bowing to his observational skills yet because the excitement in Evan’s smile terrified me as my mentor looked our way.

I yanked the first book from my bag and did my best to ignore the igniting of tension between them. Leave. Me. Out of it. I sighed into my history reading, mind growing numb and derailing into the little research I completed before Uncle Henry switched me to homework. He seemed proud of the projects I’d put together, but I was on punishment once I finally caved and told him about earning Saturday detention.

He expected me to clean the house this weekend on top of it. I needed to focus so I could get everything done.

Ancient History consisted of a list of names and abilities and dates, which seemed like it would be interesting, cataloguing the variations of different species over a period of time, but it grew tedious rather quickly. One leader clashed with another and had greed motivating them so that each generation had their own wars to fight. Family lineages flourished and died, and I really couldn’t care less.

After an hour, I had my scribbled notes organized to be typed for my chapter response and drained the remnants of my cold coffee. Stretching free of the heavy concentration and pure determination, I jolted at the sight of a dozen precise paper footballs lined up on Evan’s desk. He bent a fresh piece and creased it carefully with the back of his thumb.

Heat rising with my pulse. This was not going to be good. If Evan started a war in here, I was barricading myself in the back and waiting for the fallout.

Both of them seemed so calm and calculating. Adam scratching out notes on a pad as he scanned a book—somehow, he looked right doing it, which I never imagined before. He seemed more of the hands-on, teach-from-experience type.

I grabbed a couple snack cakes from my backpack and tossed one at Evan, who glared at me. “Before your sugar dips and you do something stupid.”

He scoffed like I’d offended him. “Crazy, maybe. Never stupid.”

Shifting in my seat, the coffee hit my bladder, but I didn’t want to interrupt the glare-a-thon. A few minutes more proved this an impossible task. I slipped from my seat and rattled off, “potty break,” on my way out the door.

“Hey. Where do you think you’re going?”

“Bathroom.”

“You need permission to leave the room.”

“Try to stop me, and we’ll both get wet.”

Blonde brows shot high on his forehead, and Evan grinned as I slipped out the door.

Relieved, I returned to Evan examining his paper footballs between two fingers, clearly aligning them with Adam’s desk. He might say crazy, but what he was obviously planning seemed so far into stupidity territory, the natives might think him one of them.

I nearly finished reading for Miss Oscar when the commotion started.

Evan set a white oval stone on his desk, lining it up with painstaking precision. Once satisfied, Evan took his first football, aimed it toward his rock, and flicked with a thumb and forefinger.

Sparks sprayed as the paper met the stone and shot the football into the books on Adam’s desk. They toppled back onto the floor.

Evan armed another, twisting his stone a hair, letting loose, and scattering Adam’s papers in a big puff.

The cold, death in my mentor’s gaze froze me to my seat but didn’t faze Evan. They each moved at alternating speed, Evan fast and Adam slow. Was that an effect of the magic he used to spring his weapons with such velocity?

Three more hit Adam across the chest, but the one spinning for the center of his forehead stopped, hovering in the air.

Adam snatched it, and Evan changed strategy.

The rampage of paper flung around the room, and the two other detentionees ducked under their desks.

Once Evan was out of ammo, he grinned, stretched, and hopped his desk to sprint out of the door.

Fury seethed from my mentor, teeth grit as his gaze followed my lab partner.

Then he stuck me in my seat with it before I knew I’d stood.

Everything fluttered and snapped back into place like nothing had happened, and Adam stomped out of the room after Evan.

After a few minutes, I stopped waiting for them to come back and set to work. They’d either explode back into the room or they wouldn’t, and I was sick of staring at the door in anticipation.

With most of my homework complete, except for the exercises Adam assigned in our mentorship, I tackled my bag of research fromhome. I spread them out around me like Uncle Henry; that was what I needed now—here, sitting in this tiny desk. A serious table might suffice, but a nook would work better.

The only real space was by Adam’s desk and the whiteboard. Instead, I pushed the desks around me, settled against the wall under a window and fanned my stuff onto the floor.

Halfway through my organization process, Evan returned, closing the door, marking it with white chalk, and stuffing small shards of stone between the seams around it. His markings spread to the wall and floor as Adam’s face appeared in the small, rectangular window.

With a shake, the lock seemed to fuel the flames in his blue eyes. His fist rattled the door.

“Uh uh uh,” Evan said, shaking his head. “Remember your duty to protect school property.”

Of course.

I shook my head and ducked into my project.

Evan dropped a stone and markings around the other windows before he squatted across the two layers of notes as I started a third.

“Falling down the rabbit hole, I see. What’s all this?”

“Research.” I spared him an annoyed glance and peeked at Adam making sparks of his own on the other side of the door.

I laid more papers out, and Evan scanned my organized chaos.

“What have you found?”

“Well, nothing yet, but there’s something here.”

“Because you feel it.”

“If you’re not going to help, don’t disturb me.”

I finished spreading my printouts and copies. After a minute, Evan shifted my stack and crawled into the vortex with me.

“You’ve got two different projects here.” He pointed first to my preliminary findings on the three missing students. “Not much in the way of leads there, but what’s that new search you’re doing? The local book by that girl who went feral?”

The mockery in his voice stung, jabbing me a little in the heart.

Evan flipped through my copy with a chuckle. “Been busy with your notes, I see.”

I snatched the book from his hands with a menacing glare and put it back beside me.

“Tell me you’re not genuinely studying Locating Lucifer’s Lair as evidence.”

“I don’t know what I’m studying it as, but there’s something beyond the surface of it.”

“I didn’t take you as a Lucifer-chaser.”

Fumes flared my nostrils.

Adam tapped the window with a long and black stick.

“Lucifer’s my mother,” I said, half under my breath.

“And you’ve never met her.” The softness of his voice surprised me. “Always had a feeling that angel’s kindness and defense of humanity made her a woman.”

“That kindness hasn’t touched me yet.”

His elbow found my knee. “I’ve never really met my parents either.”

“Neither of them?”

A heartbeat of a pause.

“Nope. I was too young. Adopted.”

“So, you’ve got missing pieces, too.”

Evan nodded and took another look around my notes—this time with a bit more contemplation.

Patterns. I needed patterns.

Too many pieces were missing.

I pulled out my phone and logged into my different social accounts, searching for the popular kids.

Too many with the same name and no visual reference. I sighed and tapped Evan for my snack bag, pulling out an apple. I offered him one.

“I’ll take another snack cake if you’ve got one.”

“Do you run on sugar?” I tossed him one.

“And meat.”

“Right.”

I tried to think without thinking.

The two leads weren’t likely connected through anything other than the circumstance of this paranormal town. I mean, how probable would it be for these three to be connected with my mom and the mines?

Since Belle’s tale was already a cold case, I focused on my fellow students.

“What do you know about fey?”

“Matriarch. Big into royalty. Tricksters. Couldn’t care less about human affairs. Mild powers.”

That resembled the sirens quite a bit. “Are they competitive?”

“With other fey, but they’re superiority and pride keep them from challenging other creatures unless threatened.”

“Doesn’t sound smart to me, challenging a hive.”

“It’s not.”

“What about demis? There’s more than one kind, which one is Lucinda?”

“Demon. Most common since they like to sleep around with humans and the DNA overlaps better than gods or angels.”

“Aren’t demons and angels really similar?”

Evan shifted again, shrugging his shoulder and picking some lint off his jeans. “Yes and no. Angels are divinely made. Demons were human once.”

“Oh.”

“If you’re looking for a link between the threesome, they’re all hot-tempered tricksters that use temptation and threats to achieve their goals. Besides, they’re rich kids who live on the outskirts of town. Powerful parents and families rooted into the foundation of our little Saint Siena.”

I tapped at my phone again and showed Evan. “Show me who is who so I can research in other ways. Being the new girl has major drawbacks.”

“Like all of your friends are hundreds of miles away.”

Grief slumped through me again. “Exactly. Who’s who?”

He tapped the first, Lucinda. No friending option, so I followed what little they left public.

Katie next, same sparse public profile. I followed.

Jeremy last. Followed.

Shit. I bet Evan wasn’t friends with any of them with the way he stomped through the world.

Maybe Starr wouldn’t mind a little stalking and gossip. I sent her a quick text.

Got a mini-almost-friends favor. How good are you at cyber stalking?

“Thanks. We’ll see how much I can dig. At least, now, I’ve seen their faces. Class with two of them.” Both in English.

“Count your blessings that you didn’t grow up with the three.” He grumbled incoherently. “And I’m the one with community service.”

“Torrid past?”

Caveman harrumphed.

The window behind us rattled, and Adam levitated there, throwing more magic at it.

“He’s going to murder you when detention is over. We have to leave sometime.”

Evan grinned back up at Adam like he had a death wish. “He has to catch me first.”

I’ve got some serious skill. Who’s your target?

Please, don’t be besties with these three. I need an unbiased third party with some actual interest. I sent her the names.

Set your sights high, girl. What are you looking for?

What was I looking for? Basic info, patterns, routines, outliers…

Everything. Info-gathering mission.

Full-blown stalker-mode, up and running. Hit you back when I’m through.

Relief. Wheels turning. Maybe I’d solve this before the end of the semester. Hopefully, no one else went crazy before then.

“So, are you going to tell me about this feud you have going, or are you going to keep me from the middle of it from now on?”

“It goes back a long way. I haven’t seen him in years. Feels good.”

“Shooting him with paper footballs.”

Evan poked his lip ring. “Yup.”

“Why do I feel like I’m going to have to reveal a deep dark secret to hear this story?”

A shrug.

“Put something into the ether like that, and you’ll have to own up to it.”

“Maybe.” I gathered my knees in my arms. “But not today.”

No. Today, I would be wracking my brain for memories of English class. For Katie and Jeremy. I haven’t seen them in what seemed like weeks; however, my lack of a real life merged school together into one mass of class and homework and lonely nights at home.

I could filter it out.

I needed to.

 

Be sure to check out the Academy Book Fair’s Giveaway!

Killing off Characters |Camp NaNoWriMo Week Four Update

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Hello, lovelies!

Holy shit, y’all. I got close to another 7k on my word count this week. Who is this person Camp has turned me into?

And I’m hovering 500 words shy of 90k in my manuscript. This isn’t including parts that I have to go back and add to, and I have another two and a half chapters left!

Okay. Wait. Breathe. Yeah, I’m almost done. Which is what I wanted. But when I get here, nerves and excitement and the end-of-the-draft crazies descend upon me.

Want to see me freak a little about having to kill one of my main characters? Check out my Camp writing vlog below.

I hope in the next two days that I can hammer out the last few chapters. The end has thrown a few obstacles at me, and some new plot points that I didn’t think of in the plotting of this. Fun thing about my outlines is that they’re usually vague enough for me to squeeze other things in there if I need to, or condense a whole bunch of shit I thought was important but, really, wasn’t.

Yup. Even with all the moving around, I keep racking up the words. I also got to catch up on quite a few minutes, too. Far less behind than last week, and I’m confident in hitting my Camp Nano goal of 3,720 minutes written.

So, here are my number so far:

Minutes Completed: 995/840

Minutes Behind: 105

Words Written: 6,830

With four days left of writing, I have to up my daily goal from 120 minutes to 150. Easy peasy.

Time to win. You with me?

 

Well, I’ll be back next week with another update and another writing vlog. In the meantime, let me know if you’d ever try NaNoWriMo in the comments below.

 

Did You Know…About Cinderella?

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The versions we currently know of the Cinderella story glean their pieces from a piece dating back to the first century, which transformed a tale about a Greek slave girl becoming an Egyptian queen into a supernatural and magical romance.

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The first variant of Cinderella is “Rhodopis,” which originated in Egypt and is believed to loosely based on a real person. Herodotus wrote a story about a young, Greek girl being kidnaped by pirates and sold to a kind Egyptian master. Unfortunately, her fellow slaves are less kind, so she finds solace in her animal friends. Then, she discovers fancy shoes in the Pharaoh’s court. Cue the romance, of course, as she marries the Pharaoh by the gods’ decree. This early tale appeared in various forms across eighteen centuries.

Another close version appeared in the sixth century, depicting a Greek wealthy prostitute named Rhodopis plots to have an eagle steal one of the slave girl’s shoes, fly it across the Mediterranean, and drop it into the lap of an Egyptian king. The shoe was a sign from the heavens, and the king quests to find its owner, marry her, and make her a queen.

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In a ninth-century Chinese portrayal, Ye Xian is granted a single wish from some magical fishbones: to create a gown in hopes of finding a husband. A monarch finds the shoe—a gold fish-scale design—and quests for the woman with tiny enough feet to fit it. Ye Xian’s beauty prompts the king to marry her, and the terrible step-mother dies in her cave home, crushed by stones.

The medieval Phillipines created “Anne de Fernandez,” where the title character befriends Gold-Eyes, a talking-fish reincarnation of her mother. Anne’s evil step-family tricks Gold-Eyes, kills her, and prepares her for supper after sending Anne on an errand across the forest. She’s shown the bones when she returns. Her only way out of this hellhole is when the Prince of Talamban falls in love with her instead of one of her step-sisters. An intriguingly small, golden slipper, leads the prince back to Anne in spite of her family’s plotting.

In Japan, Chūjō-hime, escapes her evil step-mother with the help of Buddhist nuns. She joins their convent in the end. And in Korea, the mistreated Kongji goes to the mayor’s feast, meets his son, and the love story ensues.

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Most of the newer bits stem from more recent tales, like the seventeenth-century’s “Cendrillon” or “The Little Glass Slipper” by Charles Perrault, which depicted a young girl forced into servitude to her stepfamily and is eventually rescued by a prince with the help of a lost glass slipper, a godmother, and magic, of course.  His account introduced the pumpkin and the cinder element, since the maiden slept beside the fire every night and woke covered in ash. But in Perrault’s world, the stepsisters apologize for being terrible and go on to marry lords.

Most of the countless depictions follow this theme. Although one version has Cinderella murder her stepmother. I want to read this one. And another shows Cinderella force-fed her own toe. Ick. Needless to say, this character and her story isn’t so easily defined, yet she permeates our culture so deeply. She intertwines together centuries of storytelling and many cultures.

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Another modern version comes from an Italian collection of short stories. “La Gatta Cenerentola,” or “The Cat Cinderella,” also possessed the ingredients of the modern tale, the step-family, the magic, the missing slipper, but it brings more darkness. A woman named Zezolla flees from a king who wants to marry her, narrowly escaping him at two different celebrations, but he catches her at the third and thwarts her ability to abscond. Instead of uplifting love, Zezolla’s story ends in a forced marriage. Oh, and she has six evil step-sisters instead of two.

A second Italian variant of the tale—or a second-cousin to the story—headlines with a woman giving birth to a talking gourd. A prince stumbles upon it and takes it with him. Eventually, a girl emerges from the gourd and is kept as a slave by the prince, who mistreats her terribly. Beaten to keep her from his ball, she makes it there anyways in disguise. They meet, and he gives her gifts throughout the night, and in the morning, she serves him breakfast as her squashy self, but has slipped her gifts into his food, and he realizes she is his beloved. They get married. Um, what?

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Well, without surprise, the Brothers Grimm got their hands on the tale, too, creating a much darker story in the nineteenth-century. “Aschenputtel,” or “Ash Fool,” provides a tree growing from her mother’s grave instead of a fairy godmother to grant Cinderella’s wishes. Instead of a dead father, he’s obstinately ignorant of his daughter’s misery. Grimm gives the girl golden shoes and has her step-sisters cut off their own toes to get the shoe to fit. However, Cinderella still marries the prince, and her step-sisters are bridesmaids, but doves peck their eyes out during the ceremony. Yes! That’s one to read to the kiddos. I mean, if your kiddo was like me as a child…

In Russia, “Baba Yaga and Vasilisa” was written in the mid-nineteenth century and is similarly more adult. The girl, Vasilisa, is sent to a witch by her step-mother, who assumes that the girl will die. But she survives the hut made of human bones, her brush with death reunites her with her dad via a helpful magic doll. Unfortunately, Baba Yaga punishes the cat whose only job was to kill Vasilisa by scratching out her eyes.

Native Algonquin legends in the late nineteenth century provided us with “The Hidden One,” a variance that emphasizes morals rather than revenge. A young warrior named Strong Wind could make himself invisible, which he uses to test the truthfulness of the women who’d like to marry him. Then, he meets three sisters; two claim to see him when they can’t, but the youngest and most abused, tells the truth and, therefore, ends up with Strong Wind.

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Disney’s version of Cinderella piggybacked on the more kid-friendly elements, like the talking animals and songs popular in Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. It also worked as an excellent marketing tool, showing the merits of consumerism—the nice ride, the fancy dress and shoes, and how a grand entrance really does make a great first impression. Oh, and did you know that sparkly dress was based on designs by Dior, a French luxury fashion designer?

Most recently in 1994, West Africa offers Chinye, a reprieve from the marriage mandate. The young girl is sent by her step-mother to fetch water in a dark, scary forest. Chinye is patient and good hearted, which leads her to a treasure in the woods. This provides her with the financial freedom of her greedy step-family, and she goes on to live a great life, helping others with her riches.

The Cinderella story most often tells us that we can overcome hardship. That we have the power to change our lives. And if you’re a hopeful romantic, that love will find a way to save us.

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I had the honor of reading through and publishing so many new takes on the fairy tale in AFTER THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. But since Cinderella marries a Charming prince, and so does Snow White, I couldn’t resist smashing the two princesses together in the same kingdom as undercover agents. Yes, you heard me right. Think fairy princess and 007, abusive husbands, crafty DWARVES, and conspiracy theories.

Hardships are abound, but can these two overcome them all? Who’s to say? Well, I could, but I won’t.

 

What’s your favorite version of the Cinderella tale? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Sources:

https://www.vox.com/2015/3/15/8214405/cinderella-fairy-tale-history

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/cinderella-origins

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Cinderella#Origins_and_history

https://www.npr.org/2015/03/13/392358854/a-girl-a-shoe-a-prince-the-endlessly-evolving-cinderella