S4, E86: Updates and A New Project!


Lengthy hodge-podge episode with a big set of news and notes, an update on the status of The Girl in the Forest, and introducing a new project now underway: my first fairy tale retelling!

News & Notes:

  • Tried Peruvian food, got a new iPad and keyboard, gave laptop a boost, stressed, car is supposedly fine, I’m anemic, yay
  • Spectrum Books interview went live this month, check it out on iTunes or at SpectrumBooks.co.uk
  • Aisuru had two new reviews hit this month, one from Reading Dreaming (who had posted an Amazon review earlier) and one from YA Insider
  • Both titles reduced to $3.99 for the month of May and part of June (until I can try again for Bookbub, then if that fails, I’ll put them back up to $4.99 each – can’t do KCD after price change)
  • Both titles listed on ACX, both timed out first round, second round both have had 2 auditions each and I ended up pulling the listings for now
  • Venting on the mess that is Deviations paperback getting to stores – short version is: at this point, I’m sorry, it will be Amazon or direct exclusive
  • ARC team sign up is now live and now have more streamlined process to request review copies: //review-copies/

The Girl in the Forest

Efforts at revising The Girl in the Forest have gone nowhere.  I have a few notes, but that’s it.  I haven’t touched a single word in the last month.  A few reasons I think I’m struggling to get going with this:

  • Mental health which isn’t helping with any of the writing stuff at all
  • Not enough of a break between first draft and trying to revise
  • Continuing failures of Aisuru and Deviations are heavily weighing on me and feeding my negative side’s view of “why bother, no one will read it either and it will suck and you will just fail some more”; it is as niche as they are, which makes it even more likely to end in failure
  • Stress

So for now, its revision is effectively “on hold” until I can get some alpha reader feedback and take a longer mental break from it. 

The Start of a Series: Maid Maleen

I’ve teased a bit that I’ve been interested in trying out a fairytale retelling, and to that end have been rereading Grimm’s Fairy Tales (complete, unabridged) and marking ones that I was drawn to and felt had good potential.  I did not want to do redo any one of the ones done half a dozen times. 

Roughly 28% through, I have marked six as potentials.  Of those, the most familiar one being Hansel and Gretel.  The rest are a more eclectic mix.  After that, one stuck with me in particular (and not the one that I thought would), and I ended up staying up a little late writing out notes of all the stuff my brain was throwing out because I’m starting to realize I’m getting older and need notes to help me remember later 😉

Love my keyboard for lying in bed with the iPad!  I wrote two pages of notes there, including very rudimentary story “beats” (I know, shocking!).  And now I’m around 5,000 words or so into the first draft of my first fairytale retelling, Maid Maleen!  This is German fairytale, #198 of the Brothers Grimm tales.

Princess Maleen (the only named character BTW), refuses to give up her love for a prince so her father locks her and a servant in a tower for seven years.  When no one comes to let them out at the end of her sentence, they escape to discover their kingdom in ruins.  The pair travel to the kingdom of Maleen’s prince and finds him about to marry another.  The reluctant bride forces Maleen to act as her stand in and in doing so helps Maleen reunite with her love.

This one has only had one relatively recent (2007) and well-known retelling, Shannon Hale’s Book of a Thousand Days. Not planning to read it but from the Wikipedia article it is from the servant’s POV and told in the form of diary entries.  The setting is also changed to a fantasy world based on Mongolia.   My story most definitely is different, so not worried about overlapping there.

As part of my retelling, I’ve been trying to honor its German roots, making sure the characters and places have names reflective of its culture (and getting those checked by my best bud who is part-German and goes home regularly 🙂 ).  I’ve also changed quite a bit of the ending, since part of my thought process was to ask various questions about the story and using those to guide where I wanted to take the tale.  For example:

  • why Maleen wouldn’t give up the prince and why her father was angry about it?
  • how did they deal with things like going to the bathroom and bathing, much less keeping seven years of food fresh?
  • why was the kingdom “destroyed” and what happened to the citizens and castle occupants?
  • would her prince really have pined away seven years when he thought she was dead?

So far I’ve been enjoying writing it and I like how its turning out.  A bonus of this experiment is if I do like it and the final story, I’ve already got five more potentials to play with and my very first series underway!  They would be connected by genre while still being standalones with enough variety to keep me from getting stuck with the issues I normally would have doing a series.  So keep those fingers crossed!

Listen to the episode for a sneak peek at my rough draft of Maid Maleen 🙂

I’m taking requests!  What would you like for me to talk about in an upcoming podcast episode? Writing craft type stuff? Tools of the trade? Business stuff? About my writing projects? Have a question you’d like answered? Feel free to comment on my blog, message me on Facebook, email me, or use the contact link on my site.