Friday, June 13, 2014

The Moon Master: Hero, or Villain?

"Losing someone close to you is more haunting than a life of cursed solitude."

In the world of Winslow Village everyone has a secret. Lord Hollingberry, whom Tilly (Cinderella) works for, has been hiding a secret since he was a young man. Caroline, beloved innkeeper of Apple Tree Inn, always seems to have a mysterious gleam in her eye. Rodger, the jolly boy Tilly grew up with, is growing more serious by the day, and even Tilly herself has attempted to mask the frightening truth of her past.

But what of the Moon Master?

It would appear that all the dark happenings in Winslow are because of him, and everyone's secret is somehow touched by this shadowy man. But as I said before, everyone in Winslow has a secret -- even the dark Moon Master.

He might be a tortured soul, he might not, and it would seem that at some point in time he had been powerful. Perhaps, even good. But for now his outlook on life is through the gloom of the circus's lights, and the strange circus has a way of warping a man's character.

The Moon Master is someone I hope you're going to meet by reading about his ball, and everything that transpires during it. Perhaps you'll figure out his secret, and whether or not he plays the hero, or the villain...

If I had to choose one actor to play the Moon Master, I would cast Colin Morgan in the role. His sharp, angular features fit the Master perfectly...not to mention Colin would do a fantastic job playing him.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"A far from perfect guy."

"And aside from the fact that he was a royal, Auguste thought his chances none too shabby; he thought  he'd seen a certain encouraging spirit in the way she looked at him."
-The Windy Side of Care by Rachel Heffington
Princes are the most underrated creatures in the world, I think. In fairy tales you seem to get either the Prince Charming type (a.k.a. Mr. Vapid) or the man who's pretty much a Cinderella-story himself. But what about the myraid of princes who are neither of these things? Surely you've got a handsome, privileged prince who can actually think? Or perhaps your prince isn't really into the whole prince-thing after all and would rather be doing something else?

Having Lady Alisandra Carlisle as the princess of The Windy Side of Care, I wanted a proper foil for her in Prince Auguste. And I thought to myself, well what if he is the sort of prince who doesn't give a hairpin for his throne? You know, there is nothing more frustrating to a person who wants to be angry than the object of one's anger not giving a whit for the thing you're hating them over.  Running off of this idea, I created Prince Auguste Blenheim and grew rather to love him. This song, found after I'd written Auguste's character, expresses my prince's views on his royalty rather wonderfully. Enjoy the listen. :)

I hope learn to love Prince Auguste Blenheim of Ashby as much as I did while writing him. He's not your classic fellow ... whatsoever. 

Oh. And P.S. Five Glass Slippers came out early on Kindle last night. Fly away  and get your copy, darlings. It'll be worth it! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Character Interview with Darcy

Today I thought I'd do a fun little character interview with someone from Broken Glass.  (These questions can be found at Further Up and Further In, a wonderful writing blog).

1) What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it? Prince Darcy of Arcadia. Darcy means "dark one", a name that fits well with his personality.
2) How old are they, and when were they born? Darcy is around twenty years old; he was born just one year after his older brother Marius, leaving him second in line for the throne. Being second place in his family has always been kind of a sore spot for Darcy.
3) Describe their physical appearance. (Bonus questions: 1. What is their race/nationality/ethnicity? 2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!) He has dark hair which has habit of falling over one eye. He's not very tall, but he's not short either. Basically, this Darcy:

4) Describe your character's personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences. Bitter. He wishes he had the firstborn because he believes that he deserves the throne more than Marius.
5) What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc? Henry Jackman's Magneto from the X-Men First Class soundtrack.
6) Which one of the seven deadly sins describes your character? Um...a lot of them would fit him. Envy probably describes him the best, though.
7) If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be? Air. He can be practically invisible when he wants to. He's a first class eavesdropper.
8) What is their favorite word? Me. He's very selfish and self-centered.
9) Who’s one person they really miss? (It could be someone who’s passed away, or someone they’re not close to anymore, or someone who’s moved away.) No one, really. He's too busy with his own desires to care about anyone else.
10) What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person? Nothing really applies here...
So I hope you enjoyed this interview with Darcy! It's less than 10 days until The Five Glass Slippers comes out. If you haven't already, you can preorder a copy now from Amazon!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tilly Higgins from The Moon Master's Ball

Well. Where to begin? I suppose I'll just jump in and say a little something about my Cinderella...


Tilly Higgins is the sort of person that most people take for granted. She’s always lived in the town of Winslow, everyone knows and likes her, and yet most, even the closest of her friends, have failed to realize that there has been something troubling her since she was a small child. Because of her dark past she is an introverted person who works hard at her job and concentrates on leading a normal life, and she certainly isn’t searching for a Prince Charming! It’s only because she feels bound by Lord Hollingberry, the dear old man she works for, that she ventures to return to the place that frightened her many years ago and… I can’t say anything else. This is a short story, after all! ;)


I don’t really know how I came up with Tilly’s personality. She’s not necessarily like any of my friends or family, but I hope she is someone that anyone who reads Five Glass Slippers will come to love and enjoy rooting for throughout The Moon Master’s Ball.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Reluctant Lady: Cinderella in What Eyes Can See

I can actually remember the very moment I got the inspiration for What Eyes Can See--or rather, what eventually wound up as What Eyes Can See. In the beginning it was a completely different story.

It was early June, or thereabouts. I had just heard of the Five Glass Slippers contest, and I was dreaming of entering. The only problem was that I had no plot.

Yeah, that was a little bit of a problem.

So I thought. And I thought and thought. Finally, washing dishes at my kitchen sink one evening, I had a moment of inspiration: what if Cinderella wasn't the heroine she's made out to be? After all, I ruminated, as we all know, winners write the history; was Cinderella really as mistreated as she makes it sound? What if the stepmother and stepsisters were the long-suffering saints, and Cinderella was, for lack of a better term, a spoiled brat? In that first glimpse of a story that flashed through my mind at the kitchen sink, an insufferable, spoiled, haughty, gorgeous Cinderella charms the prince with her beauty. He catches the "gorgeous" thing pretty quickly, but doesn't recognize that the other three adjectives apply to her until after the wedding. She makes the entire kingdom miserable. The end. (I have a thing for sad endings. Villette, anyone? Loved it.)

Luckily, that's not the story I ended up writing. But it did set me on a path--a path in which Cinderella, instead of being a mistreated servant in her own household, is simply just a very shy girl who's never really connected with her stepmother. What if Cinderella didn't want to go to the ball at all? That question set me scribbling in an old notebook every moment I had spare to scribble. It kept me up into the wee hours of the morning pecking away on my laptop whilst Josh Groban softly serenaded me. It pushed me to actually finish a story for once (yup, serial story-beginner-and-abandoner here).

I can't say that Arella in What Eyes Can See is really based on any person I know in particular. She's just an answer to the question I asked myself after I got over that whole "spoiled Cinderella marries Prince Charming and he regrets it forever" thing. And she's an answer to an elusive ideal I've always held for myself. Beautiful. Blonde. Petite. Graceful. Reserved. That perfect girl I always wanted to be...

But as Arella taught me while answering my question, the ideal isn't really always ideal. It comes with some serious problems, too. Sooner or later, some stepmother will force you to go to a royal ball...and then, well, stuff happens.

Hmm. Yeah, it's probably a good thing I didn't go with the depressing one, isn't it?

I really need to get one of those cool sign-off things like "cheers" or "toodles" or "TTFN" or whatever.
       ~Elisabeth Brown

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cinderella in A Cinder's Tale

A big thank-you to Rachel for kick-starting the Five Glass Slippers blog!  All five of us are extremely excited to be able to chat with you about our stories.  Like Rachel, I also took a little bit of inspiration for my protagonist from a real-life acquaintance.

I’m on the tall side--just enough to make compact cars annoying, but not enough to buy tall jeans with any sort of confidence that I won’t be stepping on the hems.  All that is to say, I haven’t personally experienced the trials and tribulations of the vertically challenged. 

My friend Christian, however, is just barely five feet tall on a good day, and she is forever climbing up on wobbly tables, rolling chairs, and other structurally unsound objects in order to reach items shelved by taller individuals.  She is simultaneously one of the cutest and fiercest people I’ve ever met. (She once broke a man’s nose with a small skillet.  He was 6’ 4”, so really the most surprising thing about that story is how she managed to reach his nose in the first place.)  Somehow Christian manages to blend a no-nonsense attitude with boundless friendliness, resulting in a skillet-wielding spitfire who will make your favorite flavor of cake for your birthday.

Elsa, the protagonist of A Cinder’s Tale, is based in part upon my diminutive friend.  Although there is no nose-breaking in the story (spoilers?), there is a good deal of climbing on top of objects to reach things.  Elsa and Christian are both exceedingly tolerant of, shall we say, difficult working environments and even more difficult coworkers.  Patience is a necessity, whether one works on a lava-strewn planet or in a cubicle farm.  One’s odds of receiving a custom-made spacesuit to fit one's height, however, are considerably higher in the former place of employment than in the latter.  

I can't wait for you to get to know Elsa properly.  June isn't far away!
Stephanie Ricker

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

{A Blustery Affair} Cinderella in The Windy Side of Care

"I swear before the glittering, pompous courts of Ashby: the birth certificates were switched!"
Thus says Lady Alisandra Carlisle in the most exasperated of tones to a jury of crows in the start of The Windy Side of Care. Alis' story is one I did not expect to write at all. I most certainly did not expect it to win a place in Five Glass Slippers. I started my first entry for Anne Elisabeth's contest way way back when the contest was first announced. I began with something I called "Driftfire" which, while being a perfectly beautiful sea-shell colored thing, was little bit ordinary in terms of plot. The descriptions were gorgeous as sunset shining in the mirror-lick of sea on a shore's edge. But the plot. Ohhhhh the plot. It was hopelessly Cinderella...and not in the "Yay! Cinderella!" way. More of the "Yadayada Cinderella? Why can't we have Sleeping Beauty?" way.  About the time I began to pay heed to the creeping, ghostly feeling that I was tying a noose around my own neck with Driftfire, I started to think about possibly, someday, y'know-not-any-time-soon writing my best friend into a book. Most people take offense at being told you are going to write them into a book...with good reason too. We authors are not above giving someone their just desserts in print if we cannot in real life. My mind flits back to an occasion wherein I cast an arrogant man I nowise trust as the antagonist in my novel. Ahem. But I did not intend to cast Katie as a villain and as I thrashed about mentally for new inspiration for a Five Glass Slippers entry, a question hit me like an anvil tumbling down Niagara Falls: 
What would Katie do as a Cinderella?
You can't know Katie. You can't possibly understand how incongruous a question this is unless you really know her. Most of the time, Katie's a classy, brilliant political strategist. As in, she's currently managing a campaign for state senate. She dresses fabulously, keeps close tabs on the royals in other countries, and plots the day when she and I (if we are both still single at thirty) will go on a 2-month vacation in London. The other half of the time she's sending me Tom Hiddleston pins and snapping crazy photos wearing her Dad's glasses and telling me hockey scores and how her brother rubs elbows with Jimmy Carter's grandson and all about tracing her family tree back to the ancient Romans.

What would Katie do as a Cinderella? The very oddity of that question spurred me onward and by seeking to answer a seemingly unanswerable question, I got Alisandra Carlisle. Alis isn't your typical Cinderella...and she's also not your typical headstrong female lead. She's deeply compassionate and possesses a wit sharp as glass. She's equal parts Queen of Common Sense and hopeless romantic. And did I mention impulsive? When the story begins, Alis is stuck at her home at Cock-on-Stylingham plotting to overthrow the Prince of Ashby on suspicion that she is the real royal. On a suspicion, mind you! Treason is, apparently, held cheap in Ashby. So I began with an inverted version of Cinderella (she believes she is royalty and the prince is not) and kept asking myself the whole way, "How would Katie behave? What would Katie say?" and the story grew at the pace of hilarity. I wrote it fast--breathtakingly fast--and easy. Having a dynamic personality on which to base Lady Alis certainly helped. Rather like taking someone's likeness rather than imagining a face and sketching the imagination, having a flesh-and-blood model for this very flesh-and-blood character was a boon indeed. One can hardly avoid a well-rounded paper-Alis when taking cues from a real-life Alis, right?

All the same, I did not expect to place with The Windy Side of Care...chiefly because it is an entirely scapegrace affair born out of my love for a dear, scapegrace friend. I wrote it to please myself only. In fact, when I clicked "send" and shot the file to Rooglewood Press, I expected it would be too undignified and rattle-trap a tale to win favor. But I loved it. And, evidently (isn't it so jolly when these things sort themselves out?) the judges loved it too. I think this is a decisive element for a writer in deciding what sort of author they will be. You can write what is popular and sells, or you can write to please yourself. There are merits to both methods, but I favor writing what I please. Sometimes, like this time, it comes around to bless you.

Five Glass Slippers is going to be a marvelous collection of stories. I cannot wait to hear about the Cinderellas of my fellow winners! They are all likely to be just as unique and wonderful as My Lady Alis Carlisle. I hope that those of you who like to live your own lives on the windier side of care will grow to love Alis and her halcyon personality, and that you will find her as fast an ally and friend as the girl who inspired her has been to me. 

         Rachel Heffington