Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Let Not the Crown Fall

     Sunshine and pearls

     As a girl, I was obsessed with princesses. Or rather, I suppose, I was obsessed with adventure, and being a princess seemed a perfect way to find a good one. Disney was my main supplier for princess-consumption, although I also rented The Swan Princess every time we went to Blockbuster. Some of my earliest memories are watching Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty under a fort in the living room, while inspired by a Pocahontas nightgown I owned, I would spread pillows on the floor and jump from one to the other, re-enacting the moment John Smith first lays eyes on the chief's daughter. I loved the gorgeous dresses and beautiful music, but even more than that I loved the stories that surrounded these princesses. Princess stories had all that I wanted: Adventure! Romance! Death! Excitement! Villains! Happy Endings! Dramatic Musical Numbers! BIG GLORIOUS BALLGOWNS!

To me, princesses symbolize femininity, elegance, wisdom, strength, and responsibility.
     But as I grew older, I noticed that not everyone had this same love that I did. Today books with titles like "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" or commercials for popular cartoons disdaining the "princess mentality" show a growing number of people who find the idea of women being princesses weak or demeaning, and claim that all this mindset does is sexualize young girls. (Personally, I wonder how being royal sexualizes someone, but maybe that's just me) Is there sexualization and "diva-fication" of girls going on? Of course. But that's not necessarily connected to princesses. To be a princess in the truest sense of the word is to be another thing entirely. In fact, I think to be a princess is to be gracious, strong, wise, and kind but firm.To people who say that the "princess-obsession" most little girls go through is harmful, sexist, and problematic, I have one thing to say:

Image result for you're so wrong gif
Actually, I would probably word my opinion on the subject a little more strongly, but, you know, have courage and be kind.

     Perhaps this comes from being a history major. Surrounded by stories of princesses (many who became queens) there is a slew of role models to found among the ranks of real-life princesses. These were women who oftentimes were sorts of ambassadors after marriage, representing a link to their home country while living in the land of their husband. These were women who served as intercessors for the people, who could sway the opinions of their king, and beg for mercy on behalf of their subjects. These were women who became queens and co-ruled with their husbands, or in some cases ruled without one. A queen could make or break her country. So, perhaps that's why it offends me so much when I hear people lumping all princesses together in disdain, as if they all represent some materialistic, "let-them-eat-cake" attitude. Not all princesses are like that, I assure you. And having just written a final research paper on medieval Scandinavian queens, I think I'll tell you about a couple of them.... Margaret I of Denmark. Daughter of one king and wife of another, after her husband's death she united the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden (and by extension Iceland, Greenland, and Finland) into the Kalmar Union. And ruled, uncontestedly, until her death.

     Then there was Philippa of England, daughter of Henry IV and sister of Henry V (yes, those Shakespearean Henrys) who married a Kalmar King. In her husband's absence she defended Copenhagen from the Hanseatic League. Hans Christian Andersen even wrote about her in his Godfather's Picture Book:

"The Hanseatic merchants came," continued Godfather, "from warehouse and counter, the rich traders of Rostock, Lübeck, and Bremen. They wanted to seize more than the golden goose from Valdemar's Tower; they had more power in the town of the Danish King than the Danish King himself. They came in armed ships, and no one was prepared. And King Eric had no desire to fight with his German kinsfolk; they were too many and too strong. So King Eric and all his courtiers escaped through the west port to the town of Sorö, to the quiet lake and green forests, to the song of love and the clang of goblets.
"But there was one left behind in Copenhagen, a kingly heart and a kingly mind. Do you see this picture here, this young woman, so fine and tender, with sea-blue eyes and yellow hair? It is the Queen of Denmark, Philippa, the English princess. She stayed in the distracted city, where the townspeople swarmed in panic in the narrow lanes and streets with steep stairs, sheds, and shops of lath and plaster. With the courage of a man, she summoned townspeople and peasants, to inspire and encourage them. They fitted out the ships and garrisoned the blockhouses; they fired with their carbines; there were fire and smoke and lightness of spirit - our Lord will never forsake Denmark! The sun shone into all hearts, and in all eyes was the bright gladness of victory. Blessed be Philippa! Blessed she was in hut and in house; and blessed she was in the King's castle, where she nursed the wounded and the sick. I have clipped a wreath and laid it around this picture," said Godfather. "Blessed be Queen Philippa!"

     I don't know, if my future daughter wanted Queen Philippa as a role model, I wouldn't complain. And that's not to mention other princesses, too: Elizabeth I, Nefertiti, Kaiulani, Victoria. One of the most fascinating facts I learned in my Modern Britain class this semester was that during World War Two, Queen Elizabeth II (then princess, of course) served as a driver and mechanic! It's not that these princesses are perfect role models. They could be difficult and make bad choices. But there is such variety in their lives and responsibilities. These were women with the world on their shoulders, not women who sat around doing nothing but looking pretty.

An Armenian crown used during wedding ceremonies when the bride and groom are traditionally crowned as a "king and queen.":

     But what about Disney? Aren't those what girls think of when they want princesses things? Probably. But I never found most Disney princesses problematic. Cinderella gets a terribly bad and unfair reputation, but I don't think you'll find kinder, more Christian-like character in animation. Despite a few hiccups in the Disney canon (*ahem* Ariel's rebelliousness) most Disney princesses do show kindness, work ethic, self-sacrifice, and intelligence. And there is nothing wrong with dressing up in ballgowns and tiaras, so long as we also, like Snow White, know how to whistle while we work with our aprons and dishrags.There is nothing wrong, I'll also say, in being saved by a prince--for isn't that an allegory for the Greatest story of all, the Story of our own Prince saving us from certain death?

     I can't help but think that like the princesses of old, we are also ambassadors, sent by our Father, the King, to this earth to share the message of our True Home. So when we think of princesses, let us be reminded of that. We, too, have a duty. Let us fulfill it!

(also, apparently I was suddenly impassioned to write this post during #princessweek. I didn't even know that was a thing until today.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Writer's Tag

books.quenalbertini: Attractive publishers cloth bindings with gilt detailing late 1840’s early 1850’s:

(I shamelessly stole this tag from Cait. Wahaha. I always knew I'd make a good thief. After all, my first movie crush at the age of five was on Aladdin's dad in Aladdin and the King of Thieves not to mention Han Solo and Robin Hood and Flynn Rider so maybe it's just fate. But then again I'm pretty sure she offered the tag to anyone who wanted it, so I guess it wasn't very scoundrel-y of me after all.)



     I can't say I'm overly fond of sticking to one genre, but generally I go historical. I can't help it. But I really like sci-fi and one day I hope to write a bunch of classic-style adventure stories in all their melodramatic, swashbuckling glory. Think Captain Blood, John Carter, or Zorro. (Or Robin Hood, of course)


     ALWAYS past tense, except for one tiny bit in The Wulver's Rose which was (gasp!) in the present tense. I generally don't like anything else. I alternate between third person and first person depending on the book, because they can be used for such different effects. And I do love multiple, large-cast POVs.

     I also feel like I need to warn you I have the Victorian penchant for really long sentences that would make Dickens proud.


logical and bookish ladies
moral and admirable gentlemen
lots of dancing
also sword-fighting/pistol-dueling/knife-stabbing/poison-drinking
thieves (SEE)
other aspects of Victorian crime
period-correct ideology (hey, at least I try)
fairy tales
close family (especially sibling) relationships

     I know that these are generally more surface topics and probably aren't entirely what the question is asking, but I don't see myself as a topical writer, so I didn't know any other way to answer it.


     I have it on good authority that I wrote "A Cat Called Love" when I was 3ish.


     I could go with something profound, but as I've gotten older I'm acutely aware of the one thing that keeps me writing: I'm in charge of my stories, and I won't mess them up. I don't mean that in an arrogant way, but I've been disappointed so many times with book and TV series that have ruined themselves, either through gross out-of-character lapses, shoe-horned-in political statements, or an inclusion of "okay" immorality. Sometimes, the culprit is just a really stupid and misguided plot. But guess what? I never have to worry about scriptwriters ruining my stories or characters in the third season! Isn't that fabulous? Other people can't mess up your favorite stories if you write them yourself!

Image result for roll safe meme


     In the mid-morning after I've gotten ready for the day, which is really inconvenient since I get all of my best ideas while I'm snuggled up in bed at midnight.



     The outlining, the planning, the naming--the time when the plot is coming together and it's beautiful.

     Writing a paragraph that flows beautifully and realizing that it's actually a piece of good writing and no, it's not just my imagination! (This is rare but it's lovely when it happens)

     Writing finis at the end and looking back with satisfaction that, first draft or not, I finished a novel!

Image result for proud of myself gif


     Okay, do you know that feeling where you suddenly just don't like anything fictional and find it unsatisfying? I don't know if I'm describing this well, but in every story I hit a point where I just don't care about anything or anyone in it. It seems dull and lifeless and pointless, and I get depressed and in a funk and don't feel like reading any other books or watching any other movies, either. It's terrible while it lasts (which thankfully isn't for long) but it generally happens at some point with (most) every book I write.

     Also, this usually happens during the first, second, third, and all other subsequent rounds of editing, so maybe that has something to do with it.

     The overwhelming and oppressive jolts of self-doubt are also a downer.


     I take a walk and watch a movie or a TV show. If chocolate is in the house, I usually sneak some of that, too. (see, thief)

Image result for stealing chocolate gif

     To be honest, writer's block is usually a sign that I've just been working too long and fried my brain-- that is, it's a clue I need to take a writing break.


     "So are you writing anything right now?"

     I get that question a lot, and my answer is the same every time:

     "I'm always writing something."


1. Finish January Snow and my Little Mermaid retelling (both of which are novellas)
2. Work on my poor neglected historical novel, Grande Complications (formerly titled Philippa, if you've stuck long around this blog)
3. Begin the first draft of my next piece of historical fiction, which I'm attempting to write in the style of an actual Victorian novel (what am I doing someone stop me)
4. I also want to at least attempt a classic-style adventure story, but we'll see how that goes.

     And there I end the writing tag! I know that this blog has been filled with a lot of tags, but now that school is almost over for the summer I should have more time to actually write posts! Then again, with all of those writing goals, you might be lucky if I have the time to just post a cat video.

Image result for cat gif

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

With Blossoms Gold Now Available!

     It's here! With Blossoms Gold is now up here on Createspace, and it should go through and be on Amazon within a day or two.

Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Things I Thought I'd Love (But Didn't)

The Novels of the Brontë Sisters

Image result for bronte novels
In which you can totally see that Branwell painted himself out of the picture, which I completely understand. I've done the same thing.
     After I was introduced to Jane Austen’s novels, Charlotte Brontë’s works seemed the next logical step. But the fact remains that even if I can appreciate some things about books like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights or Agnes Grey, the Brontës and I aren’t exactly kindred spirits. They tend to irritate me. That being said, I did (sort of) enjoy reading Villette for class this semester, so...I guess they get better on multiple readings? I don't think I'll ever love them, but I can at least admit that some of their writing is very good.

This raspberry and rosewater truffle from Godiva.

Image result for raspberry rose godiva truffle

I thought the rosewater flavor sounded so elegant and refined.

No. It tastes like perfume. One of the grossest things I have ever put into my mouth.

Don’t do it.

The Emily of New Moon Series

     I have always loved Anne of Green Gables, and L.M. Montgomery continues to be a favorite author. I thought I’d love these books, given that they are about a writer. But…I don’t. Even if Emily and I share some very distinct personality traits, I find her annoying. Even more annoying is the love story. I WANTED TO PULL OUT MY HAIR. I just…don’t like Emily. AND IT ANNOYS ME THAT I DON’T.

But what can ya do. :/

Ever After

So many pretty clothes in this movie, though.
     I have a vague (but perhaps false) memory of watching this movie at a young age. However, I didn’t rediscover it until later in my late teens, and I wondered why on earth I hadn’t thought to watch it earlier. I mean, fairy tales + Renaissance? Why on earth hadn’t I watched it before? Excited that there was a movie I was sure would become one of my new favorites, I watched it…and felt very much let down. I didn’t hate it exactly, I just felt indifferent to it. And the ending kind of ruined it for me, more of a “haha the stepmother gets it” rather than the forgiveness that I think, quite frankly, makes the new Disney version of Cinderella better. Ever After might be the more serious, realistic movie of the two, but it makes the core of the story lose its impact. Not that the movie is entirely bad (I mean, the scene where Danielle picks up the prince makes me laugh, after all. And the scenery and “feel” of the movie was one that helped inspire With Blossoms Gold) but it’s not one I feel the need to re-watch.  Definitely “meh” for me. I would be more specific with my complaints, but it’s been a few years now since I watched it. I just remember being disappointed.

Sleepless in Seattle

     I am not one for chick flicks, to be honest. I’ve only seen a few, and I’ve liked even fewer. One of those in the latter category is You’ve Got Mail. Since I enjoy that one so much, I thought I’d like Sleepless in Seattle, too. Everyone always lumps those two movies together and I just assumed if I liked one, I’d like the other.


     Other than the fact it had a lot more content issues than You’ve Got Mail did, I just…didn’t enjoy the story line? The two leads barely interact, and I felt like I was waiting the entire movie for the “good part” of the film that never arrived. Really the only positive thing I can say about it that it’s the only movie I’ve seen Meg Ryan in where I like her hair. I get serious hair envy over that French braid of hers. Why couldn't her hair have looked like that in Kate and Leopold?

Anyway, life is full of disappointments, and thankfully these were generally pretty frivolous ones. Anything you thought you'd love but ended up...not liking?

(Also, hopefully I will have a post of things I thought I'd hate, but didn't. That should be more uplifting, true?)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

With Blossoms Gold Winners!

The giveaway is over, and our winners are:

Emily Smith
Ekaterina Yodis

Congrats! You'll be receiving emails from me shortly!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

With Blossoms Gold Giveaway!

     It's almost time for With Blossoms Gold to bloom in paperback!  Originally I had planned to release this book on the 2nd (That is, today) but there's been a slight delay. It shouldn't be a long one by any means (maybe a week or so) but to make it up to you, I'll be giving away TWO paperback copies of With Blossoms Gold, to be sent as soon as they are available.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

Monday, March 27, 2017

graze review

     I now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a post of a different sort than what I usually pen: a product review. It's not book related, but it's almost as good. It's food related.

     I had heard of graze through a commercial on TV, and since you can get a sample box for free, I wondered, "why not?" I love free food. I am the free sample queen. I know when the most free samples are at the mall, and I'm pretty sure by this point the free sample man at the Japanese food kiosk knows my face. I see him a lot.

     ANYWAY....graze is a company that claims to send healthy, delicious snack food right to your door. Each box (with 8 containers of single-serving snacks) are $13.99. Personally, I find this a bit expensive, since I think the serving size is pretty small (it comes to about $1.74 per snack package) but then I remember how much money I spend at the vending machine and the cafe at school and it doesn't seem quite so bad. And then I wince at how many of my dollars go to junk food. EITHER WAY IT'S BAD :/

my graze box

     As far as graze goes, you don't exactly have control over what they send; they have a large selection of snacks that you can rate as "Love It," "Like It," "Try It," and "Trash It." The level of love/like you choose makes a difference of how often they send you that flavor, while if you rate something as "trash it," you won't ever get sent that flavor at all. You can rate things before you try them, too, so from the start they have a better understanding of what you'd like. (For instance, I trashed anything that had raisins in it because raisins are gross.) They also have a lot of options for people with allergies, too, and you can select an all-sweet box, an all-savory, and a few other varieties.

For my sample box, I got four flavors:

Cranberry & Hazelnut toasts with Cocoa Dip
Salted Fudge & Peanut Cookie
Sesame Garlic Crunch
Sweet Memphis BBQ

     I was a little sad that I didn't get any of their granola bars (which, being a British company, they call flapjacks) but overall I was pleased with the choices they sent me.

     The Cranberry & Hazelnut toasts were pretty good, although I was disappointed at how few were in the box! The chocolate dipping sauce was also pretty tasty, and since it had been in a warm mailbox, I didn't even have to heat it up. (Depending on what snack you get, though, that could definitely be a bad thing.)

     Frankly, I was disappointed with the Salted Fudge & Peanut Cookie. Taking a handful of the mix and eating it at once it was actually all right, but each individual item didn't taste particularly good. (especially the vanilla fudge, which was rather odd)

     I was surprised by how much I like the savory selections, since I thought I'd be more drawn to the sweet. Sweet Memphis barbecue was kind of addicting, and I clicked "love" on that one after I tried it.

     The Sesame Garlic crunch was a bite more bland, and had more of that "healthy," whole-wheat taste. But even so I ate it up, and I think it grew on me after awhile- I'd definitely want to get some again.

     Even though I'm pretty sure each snack package is supposed to be one serving, I ate all four in one sitting (granted, I shared with my family, but the high majority of the food was gobbled up by yours truly). I definitely would say a serving is really more like two packages than one. Not so much the trail mix, but there were only four or five tiny hazelnut toasts! (can you tell I'm sad over this?) Overall, though, it is a nice surprise to find in the mail, and personally I think a lot of the fun is wondering what kind of treat you'll get next....I'm just still not quite sure the price is worth it.

     Now, I'm off to find more free food....

(By the way: if you are going to try it, use the code 7XL9NVVFP at the checkout, and you'll get your first and fifth box free...and I'll get rewards too! So see, we all win)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Book Sacrifice Tag

     I saw this tag a little while ago and thought it was a really interesting idea...but I was busy and wasn't sure I wanted to tackle an entire post flambéing my most-hated novels because, let's face it, people get vicious when books they love are under attack. Did I really want to be open to a deluge of hate in the comment section? (By the way...I am not against book-burning on principle. There are terrible books that deserve a flaming death of judgment and punishment. Rotten stories are not somehow sacred just because someone typed them up on a piece of paper.) Anyway, then Suzannah did it and she seemed to survive the experience, so I stole the tag from her.

#1: An Over-Hyped Book

Situation: You are in a bookstore when the zombies attack.  Over the loudspeakers you hear the military announce that over-hyped books are the zombies' only weakness.  What over-hyped book will you chuck at the zombies?

Wuthering Heights

     I'm not sure if this book is over-hyped, exactly (the phrase makes me think more of a million-dollar book franchise that's become a household name and spawned a series of badly acted but high budget movies) but it's definitely well-known in the classic novel arena. It's well loved by many, which I find difficult to understand, and held up by some as the perfect stormy romance with the epitome of the tortured hero, which I find even harder to grasp. (In the novel's defense, I don't think that's the meaning of the book at all). I tried to appreciate it and the story it had to tell because sometimes books use unlikable characters and bad situations in a way that works, but I hated nearly every moment of this reading experience. Steam was perpetually coming out of my ears and fists were occasionally clenched. If there was a way to reach through the pages and commit literary murder, I would have strangled Heathcliff before we'd gotten 1/4 of the way through.The only thing that made this book bearable was that it was told from a story-within-a-story format, so I imagined that I was being told a horror story on a cold and dreary night, with wind howling in the distance.

*SPOILER* And also I cheered when Heathcliff died *END OF SPOILER*

#2: A Sequel

Situation: You are caught in a torrential downpour and you're probably the type who melts when you get wet.  What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself?


    Little Women and Me

    So maybe this book shouldn't count on a number of levels because it's not a sequel, exactly, and I also haven't exactly read it (or at least, the whole thing- I picked it up in the library and ended up skimming it until the end). Basically it's about a girl named Emily  who gets an assignment to write about one thing she would change in a classic novel. She picks Little Women, and somehow gets magically transported into the novel where she tries to prevent Beth from dying and make sure Jo ends up with Laurie.

     Yes, I understand there are people who think Laurie and Jo should have ended up together. I do not count among the number. I could write an essay on why the two of them are completely wrong for each other, why Jo made the right decision, and why Professor Bhaer is actually awesome, but I'll save it for another time. I assumed from the beginning that Emily would come to realize that Lousia May Alcott knew what she was doing when she ended the book the way she did. BUT NO. After her experience wrecking havoc throughout 1860s Concord, Emily comes back to our world and writes her paper and explains why she thinks the two of them should end up together and gets a bad grade because, SURPRISE Jo and Laurie *do* end up together because she "fixed" the book while she was in it or something. ??? I'm sorry, the book wasn't broken in the first place. UGH I GET ENRAGED JUST THINKING ABOUT IT.

#3: A Classic

Situation: You're in English class and your professor won't stop going on about a classic that "revolutionized literature". Personally you think the classic is garbage and you decide to express your opinion by hurling the book at his head.  What classic is that?


The Call of the Wild

     I slugged through this one either in late middle school or early high school, and I don't remember much of it because I may have been half asleep from boredom. I've heard a lot of Christians don't like Jack London because of his worldview. Is this true? I don't know. I was more turned off due to the fact it was about a dog.

#4: A Least Favorite Book

Situation: You're hanging out at a bookstore (where else would you be?) when global warming somehow manages to to turn the whole world into a frozen wasteland.  Naturally, your only hope of survival is to burn a book.  Which book would you not regret tossing into the fire?



     I am especially bitter about this one because the first couple of chapters are actually well-written and they tricked me into thinking the book was going to be good.

     It wasn't.

     Supposedly Pride and Prejudice told from the servants point of view, this had the potential of being a really great book. Unfortunately, the original novel's characters were shown in a constantly negative light, it's littered with crude references and a postmodern view of history, and WHY DO YOU HATE ON MY FAV CHARACTERS, JO BAKER? WHY? I was so disgusted with this one that I didn't even finish it.

#5: A Series

Situation: There's a flooded stream you have to cross on your quest and you can't get your feet wet. Which series (oh yeah, btw, you brought your whole bookshelf and also probably the local library with you) will you use as stepping stones?


The Austen Project (mainly Sense and Sensibility)

     I didn't know how to answer this question, because generally if a book is bad, why would I read the rest of the series? There are definitely duds in the many series that I've read, but not enough to chuck out the whole lot of them. And I've read plenty of mediocre series that were insipid but not maddening enough to really fit on here.

     And then I remembered.

     The Austen Project is a series of Austen re-writes by different authors, setting Jane Austen's novels in the present day. A little iffy in concept, I admit, but I was willing to give it a chance. So I read Sense and Sensibility. Nope-ety nope nope nope. From its strange adherence to plot points that didn't work in the modern day and disregard of the moral core of the original, to its unlikable characters and in-your-face inclusion of technology, it was a disaster. I haven' read the other subsequent books in the series, but just from their blurbs and the reviews I've read, I don't think they are any better. The Pride and Prejudice rewrite, Eligible, looks particularly appalling. In our world, apparently modern = steeped in sin. If you believe in ghosts, don't. Because if they truly existed, then Jane Austen would have risen from her grave by now and hit all of these authors with her reticule. Or maybe stabbed them with her pen.


     I answered each question on this tag as it came, but now looking over it, there is a definite pattern. If you learn anything from this post, let it be that you should not attempt to "fix" beloved classic literature. IT'S A BAD IDEA. DON'T DO IT.

     That's all.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

With Blossoms Gold Cover Reveal!

It's time! I'm very pleased with the way this cover turned out, and I hope you will be, too!




She never wanted to leave the tower. He never wanted to rule the country.

Nella has lived quietly in her tower in the woods for over a decade. After dangerous accusations drove her and her grandmother away from their village, they escaped deep into the forest where no one would try to harm them. Now, after her grandmother's death, Nella is alone, and she is determined to stay that way. She has no patience for a world she deems judgmental and ignorant.

Or so she tells herself. In reality, her paralyzing fear prevents her from stepping foot outside of the tower.

Prince Benedict Allesandro is an adventurer- a rescuer who prides himself on saving the weak and unfortunate. When he hears rumors of a beautiful damsel trapped in a tower, he rushes to her rescue...only to find a woman who most definitely does not wish to be saved.

But when war breaks out, this reckless prince and reclusive maiden are faced with overcoming their deepest fears in order to determine not only their own fate, but that of their entire country.

Coming April 2, 2017

Add this book on Goodreads.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Pinterest Storyboard Party

     Elisabeth Grace Foley is holding a Pinterest Storyboard Party, and as I am constantly making Pinterest storyboards for my novels (it's one of the first things I do in planning stages) I couldn't help but join in. Unfortunately for the party, almost all of my Pinterest boards for my unfinished novels are kept secret until a month or so before their release, so these are for the novels that have already been published.

     With Blossoms Gold's mood was inspired by Renaissance paintings, brocade fabrics, gardens and flowers, damp catacombs, Shakespeare's plays (specifically Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice), a random de'Medici documentary I watched for research, and the costumes of Ever After.

     I loved making this board for For Elise. Its contemporary setting, dash of 1940s nostalgia, and setting of a Victorian mansion meant it was a fun board to put together.

     The Wulver's Rose remains one of my favorite storyboards-partly because I love the gloomy mists of the Scottish landscape. You might also notice a few elements that didn't quite make it into the final book. One day, depending on publishing rights, I'd love to re-add some of those scenes to the novella and expand it unto a full length novel. Of course, I don't have much hope of that happening (even if I did have the opportunity, I have too many other things to work on) but it's a nice thought. :)

     I hope you enjoyed these! If you'd like, you can join the party too! Find more about it here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sweet Remembrance Cover Reveal

     Today I'm pleased to show you the cover for my fellow Once author's standalone edition of her story Sweet Remembrance. Emily's story is both beautiful and tragic and, fair warning, may make you cry!

Sweet Remembrance: The Little Match Girl Retelling

In the despair of the Warsaw Ghetto, a young Jewish woman fights the Nazis with the only thing she has left—her memories.

Add on Goodreads
Purchase the eBook

About the Author:

Emily Ann Putzke is a young novelist, historical reenactor, and history lover. She's the author of It Took a War, Resist, Sweet Remembrance, and co-author of Ain't We Got Fun. You can learn more about Emily and her books at

Giveaway Winners!

Hello friends! The winners of the Kindle copies of For Elise are:

Emily Ann Putzke
Brooke Elizabeth Smoke

Congrats! I've emailed you all, so you should be hearing from me shortly.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The I Love Austen Week Tag

*gasp* Hayden posts twice in one day! Will wonders never cease? This is what happens when a blog party is going on, I suppose ;)

1.  Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one? 

     A book. My first experience was reading Pride and Prejudice when I was 12. I only picked it up because it was supposed to be an important classic book, even though at the time I didn't know anyone who had read it or even liked Jane Austen. Because of that, I came into the book blindly with no expectations or even a clear picture of what the book was about. Therefore, it was one of the best reading experiences I've ever had.

2.  What is your favorite Austen book? 

     Emma, followed by Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey.

3.  Favorite heroine?  Why do you like her best? 

Image result for elinor dashwood 2008

     Hmmm. I think my favorite heroine is Elinor Dashwood although, ironically, Sense and Sensibility is probably my least favorite Austen book. (I do like the story, and love the movie adaptations, but the novel itself has always been a harder one for me to get through). Elinor is certainly the Austen heroine I relate to the most, and I admire her strength of character.

4.  Favorite hero?  Why do you like him best? 

     Mr. Knightley, of course. He's just so good, with an uncommon amount of common sense. But he's not perfect or boring, and I love his sarcastic comments and sense of humor.

5.  Do you have a favorite film adaptation of Austen's work? 

     Well, I have favorite versions of each story. Well, mostly. The film adaptations for Sense and Sensibility and Emma are practically a tie, and I haven't seen the newer version of Persuasion recently enough to make a call on it. But I definitely like the newer BBC version of Mansfield Park, for all its faults, because it is just so much better than that travesty that is the 90s version. I've only seen one version of Northanger Abbey which had wonderful casting if some odd and out-of-place directing choices, and I actually enjoyed Love and Friendship, despite all the hate it's gotten.

     BUT I'm sure the real question is which P&P adaptation I prefer, and it's definitely the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle one. (I'm not quite a hater of the 2005 one, but some aspects of it do make me grit my teeth)

Image result for pride and prejudice 1995

6.  Have your Austen tastes changed over the years?  (Did you start out liking one story best, but now like another better?  Did you think she was boring at first, then changed your mind?  Etc.) 

     Actually, yes. I used to think of Pride and Prejudice as the be-all, end-all, most perfect of Austen's works; however, I've been so overexposed to it over the years I've lost my taste for it a bit. I had to read it several times, and then I was in a theatrical production of it so I know the story far, far too well. The story is still great and amazing, but I just have needed to take a break from it for a while.

7.  Do you have any cool Austen-themed things (mugs, t-shirts, etc)?  (Feel free to share photos if you want.)

     I have some very pretty Jane Austen notebooks, but sadly few Austen-themed items besides the books and some of the movies.

8.  If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would you ask her? 

     How much are your characters based on the people that you know? Which of your heroines do you relate to the most?

9.  Imagine someone is making a new film of any Jane Austen story you choose, and you get to cast the leads.  What story do you want filmed, and who would you choose to act in it?

     Well, there's not really a Mansfield Park adaptation I'm satisfied with, so I'd choose that one.

Image result for eleanor tomlinson death comes to pemberleyImage result for tom hiddleston jane austen regrets

Fanny Price- I was throwing around the idea of Eleanor Tomlinson, only to find that that's who Natalie chose, too! :D I also thought of Kimberly Nixon, who played Sophy in Cranford, as an option as well.

Edmund Bertram- Tom Hiddleston (just because if anyone could make me *truly* like Edmund...wouldn't it be him?)

Henry Crawford- maybe James McAvoy? If only because his role in Becoming Jane seemed a little Henry Crawford-ish to me at times.

Mary Crawford- Michelle Dockery. Don't tell me she wouldn't be perfect for this one.

10.  Share up to five favorite Jane Austen quotations!

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” -Northanger Abbey

“A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” -Pride and Prejudice (I quoted this just yesterday, because my mother and sister do this ALL THE TIME)

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.” -Pride and Prejudice

“The ladies here probably exchanged looks which meant, 'Men never know when things are dirty or not;' and the gentlemen perhaps thought each to himself, 'Women will have their little nonsense and needless cares.” -Emma

Don't forget to check out more Austen-themed goodness on Hamlette's blog here!

Home to Highbury: On Loving Emma


     Emma became my favorite Jane Austen story the moment I was introduced to it. The Gwenyth Paltrow movie version has long been one of my favorites, and though it took me several watchings to appreciate it, the BBC version has also become a well-liked adaptation. And then, of course, there's the book itself- one that I've been re-reading for class this semester and loving every moment of. I've greatly enjoyed my British Novel class because of the discussions we're able to have about literature--though, in truth, it can be a little frustrating as well (because, I mean, if you don't love Mr. Knightley I just don't think we can be friends.)

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     I'm not sure why this book is my favorite. As much as I like her, I freely admit that Emma Woodhouse is one of Austen's more maddening heroines and I can't give Mr. Knightley all the credit for making me love the novel so. Then why do I adore it so much?

     When it comes down to it, I think what I love about Emma is the close-knit society in which the characters exist. Highbury isn't a large town, and everyone seems to know everybody, at least by sight. There's a small circle of friends, family, and frenemies in a way that's not so different from my life, but different enough for me to yearn for its simplicity, and its absence of 24/7 news, politics, and Facebook rants. It seems cozy there, and comfortable. There's something about a small, old-fashioned English village that seems welcoming--a reason, perhaps, why my favorite Elizabeth Gaskell movie adaptation is Cranford--and when I'm reading Emma I feel like I've been enveloped in a warm blanket and set in front of the fire. (My long-neglected and abandoned etsy shop, in fact, bore the name of "Home To Highbury" as homage to one of my favorite fictional places) It's the only Jane Austen novel where the action doesn't move from place to place. There are no scenes in London, no trips to Bath, no excursions to the distant house of friends or distant relations. We might hear of events happening in those places, but all of the "on-screen" action happens in Highbury.

     Like most Jane Austen novels, the problems of Emma are in some sense small. There are no explosions, no world-saving exploits, no fights against tyranny or examples of political intrigue. But maybe because it's so contained, so centered on a small group of people, is why it works so well. Everything that happens in the book is vitally important to the characters's lives. It delves into the emotions, misunderstandings, and mistakes that we all make. There is so much about the book that is appealing to me: the characters who are so distinct and yet are so familiar because we've met their counterparts in our everyday lives; the equally familiar but uncomfortable situations they get themselves into, and the promise of a happy ending. But for all its familiarity, it's still a form of escapism, too. I know that sometimes I get wearied from the world and all of its current problems: its immorality, its strife, its determination to reject all that is wholesome and good. Jane Austen's world was far from perfect, but Emma's idealistic one very nearly is, and we know that all of her problems will (eventually) resolve themselves.

      When it comes down to it, visiting the unchanging world of Emma is a bit like coming home, where Mr. Woodhouse always has a bit of gruel set out for you, Miss Bates is as eager as ever to talk anyone's ear off about Jane Fairfax, and Mr. Knightley's sage advice is always a short walk away.

(Interestingly enough, it seemed like everybody on my Goodreads feed was reading or rereading Emma this past month or two. I wonder if we all decided to do so separately, or if we saw that others were reading it and thought it sounded like a good idea!)

Friday, February 10, 2017

For Elise Giveaway

     Happy (early) Valentine's Day! I've always loved this holiday, probably because as long as I've remembered my parents have bought my siblings and I chocolate to celebrate. And to help you celebrate, I'm giving away 3 kindle copies of For Elise.

Good luck!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Cover News & Upcoming Giveaway!

     Hello friends! I've been absent for a while now, busy with school but also with some upcoming projects. One of them? Readying With Blossoms Gold for its paperback edition. I'm almost done with the cover, and it's time to get participants for the cover reveal on March 1st! If you'd like to join, just leave your email address in the comments (I'll have the comments on moderation) OR send me an email at thestorygirl20[at]yahoo[dot]com and I'll send you the cover, story synopsis, and coordinating links a few days before the reveal date.

     Also, today is For Elise's first birthday! To celebrate, I'm going to be holding a Valentine's Day giveaway where I'll be giving away 3 kindle copies! It begins on the 10th of February and I'll be announcing the winners on 14th.

See you then! (in a figurative sense, of course)

With Blossoms Gold on Goodreads
  For Elise on Goodreads

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

ONCE sale!

     I'm just dropping a line to tell you all that Once is on sale for $0.99 January 3rd -6th! You can pick it up here.

Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales by [Foley, Elisabeth Grace, Heffington, Rachel, Pennington, J. Grace, Putzke, Emily Ann, Rowntree, Suzannah, Wand, Hayden]
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