Six fairytales you thought you knew, set against a tapestry of historical backgrounds.
A lonely girl plots revenge in the shadow of a mountain. A stolen princess fumbles a century backward. A dwarfish man crafts brilliant automatons. A Polish Jew strikes matches against the Nazis. A dead girl haunts a crystal lake. A terrified princess searches a labyrinth. A rich collection of six historically inspired retellings, Once is a new generation of fairytales for those who thought they'd heard the tales in all their forms.
Featuring the novellas of Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand.
It's been several months of hard work getting to this point, but Once is finally ready to be sent out into the world. Publishing a new work is one of the most exciting (and nerve-wracking!) times for a writer, and I'm both exuberant and a little nervous. :) However, I'm glad to be in this together with some truly wonderful ladies that I've gotten to know oh-so-much better through this project. And now, to get you excited, we're all sharing excerpts from our stories!
Here's a passage from With Blossoms Gold, my Rapunzel retelling:
I wasn’t that Benedict disliked the idea of marriage, exactly. But it had always seemed to him a pleasant but far-off dream for when his days of thrill-seeking and adventure were over. And as every betrothal he’d ever entered into had ended due to circumstances beyond his control, he’d grown used to bachelorhood. But now, after Cécile, his failed romances seemed more like the result of a curse than mere misfortune. At least his other fiancées hadn’t tried to kill him. At best, he wanted to wait. Forty seemed a good age for marriage. He had told his brother that once, and Orlando had nearly given him a black eye.
“I’m not waiting another twenty years to marry Silvie,” he had said, furious. “So don’t you dare!”
Benedict had thought his brother’s reaction was slightly exaggerated; he’d be forty in only thirteen years, not twenty.
This afternoon, though, Orlando seemed more resigned than angry. He gave a deep sigh.
“Never-mind. Silvana’s already planning to play matchmaker. She has a widowed duchess from the south picked out for you at the moment.”
“I’m glad to know Silvana has my future planned,” Benedict said, fearing he was sincere in his sentiments. Putting his future in Silvana’s hands might not be a bad thing. She was a sensible one. “However,” he went on, “for the time being, I have other plans. I heard rumors of a werewolf prowling around the woods of Griffin’s Peak—”
“Heaven help us all! You’re so anxious for adventure you’re giving credence to the superstitions of fishwives, now. I suppose next you’ll be gallivanting off in search of the beautiful maiden held captive in a tower.”
“A maiden in a tower?” Benedict asked, interested. He leaned forward. “I haven’t heard that one yet. It sounds promising.”
“That one’s been around for years, Ben. Some peasants from Ivly swear that an old witch stole a beautiful young girl with golden hair and locked her in a tower.” He laughed and shook his head.
But Benedict was serious. He leaned back in his chair. “I might look into that one.”
“No, in truth.” Benedict sprang up from his chair and grabbed his cloak. “Ivly, you said? I think I’ll go. Much more interesting than a German werewolf. And much closer.”
“Ben, you cannot be serious! It’s absurd!” He rolled his eyes. “Never-mind. I told you that about the “vampire” of Venice, and you went there anyway.”
“What you fail to realize, Orlando, is that no matter how seemingly ridiculous a tale is, there is almost always a grain of truth in it. There was no vampire, but there was a sadistic—bloodthirsty, if you will— murderer on the loose. And if I hadn’t brought the man to justice, he might be out there still.” He shrugged into his cloak. “Now, do you care to come?” He said it lightly, but he felt a pounding in his chest, the same urge that always prodded him when the right quest had fallen into his lap. It would take him only moments to prepare, and Ivly was but a day’s ride from the palace.
“No thank you. But Ben—” Orlando’s voice stopped his brother at the door. “If there really is a maiden, do us all a favor and marry the girl!”
Ben laughed. “You know how tales get distorted. I’m willing to bet the maiden locked in that tower is bald, losing her teeth, and all of sixty-five. With a wart on her nose for good measure!”
Orlando’s reluctant laughter followed him down the hall.
Read the rest of With Blossoms Gold in ONCE.
You can check out excerpts from the other stories on each respective authors' blogs by clicking on the links below. Have fun! :D