How To Write Fairytale Retellings: digging deeper

May 18, 2018

   Time for the second part of the How To Write Fairytale Retellings series! Last week's was lots of fun (and you can check it out here if you missed it!), and I'm super excited to dig in deeper ;). Who's ready?

   Last week we messed around with creating what-if questions for rewriting fairytales, and this week I chose four of those questions (one from each category!) to expand upon. Let's take a look at how we can dig deeper into those what-if questions ...
The POV what if: what if Rumpelstiltskin was told from Rumpelstiltskin's point of view? 

   See, the POV ones get tricky, because you're basing the retelling off of someone else's point of view. But there still needs to be twists and a side to the story that we didn't know about. So how would you do that with Rumpelstiltskin?

   Well, first off, you could stick with him being the villain and have it be a story from the villain's point of view (these retellings are always cool, I like seeing the "why" behind the villain's actions), OR you can show that there was a different side to the story that we didn't know before.

   Maybe Rumpelstiltskin had forseen that the child he was trying to take would lead the kingdom into ruin, and he knew the only way to save it. Or maybe the child had been prophesied as the warrior that would save the fae folk, and he needed to bring it home. Or he knew the child was a changeling, not the Queen's real child at all - but he wasn't able to tell her. There's tons of things you could throw in to twist the entire story around with this one, it's just too much fun! xD

 The Twisty-Tale what if: what if Sleeping Beauty meant to prick herself? 

    Obviously, Sleeping Beauty (we'll call her Briar-Rose because I very much prefer it) would need a good reason to want to put herself to sleep for a hundred years. Why? What's her reasoning?

   Well, maybe she's using the hundred-year sleep as a way to escape from a disastrous marriage that would ruin her kingdom. Maybe the "sleep" isn't really sleeping at all, but a series of dream-trails that Brier-Rose knows she must pass before she can become Queen. Maybe the only way to protect her people is by sacrificing herself - whether that means that falling prey to the spindle's curse will save the people from an outside danger, or save them from herself (OH, THE PLOT BUNNIES). 

    This one is actually the what-if question from a novella that I wrote YEARS ago (and will never return to *shudders*) for the Rooglewood Sleeping Beauty writing contest, and I can attest that it is a very fun one to play with! <3 Except I'm never looking at 14-year-old-Savannah's version of it ever again. Nope. Not.

how I feel about that old novella xD

The backstory what-if: how did Peter Pan find Neverland and the Lost Boys?  

   I'm not a wizard when it comes to backstory retellings, but this is one that's always had me curious! How did Peter Pan find his Neverland? What was his childhood - his before-permanent-childhood childhood - really like? What made him not want to grow up?

   Maybe he watched his older sister - who used to play with him and make up the most wonderful stories - start getting older and lose her interest in adventures. Maybe he saw the careworn lines in the face of his father,  or the way that none of the grown-ups could find any fun the way that he could. And so he decides to leave, and ends up running into Tinkerbell, who takes him to Neverland. Or maybe he finds Neverland all on his own? Maybe he discovers pixie dust and sails off all on his own after the second star.

   ... wow, plot bunnies are doing ALL the attacking right now, you guys xD. I think this would be a really cool idea to mess around with! Who knows what incredible stories y'all could come up with about Peter Pan before he become the eternity child? (just be warned that whoever takes on this tale...will have to deal with very angry fangirls if they get the story wrong. Just saying' *shrugs*)

The Continuation what if: what if Snow White finds another magic mirror - and realizes that the Mirrors are actually trapped people?

   The continuation what if is probably the most open-ended retelling that you can do, and rests just on the edge of being its own story and not a retelling at all. So the hardest part of writing a continuation is, in my opinion, still having it stay true to the original story. And how can you do that with a continuation of Snow White's story?

   Well, maybe there can be a thing about poisoned apples. They can be a contraband item in the kingdom (but people still smuggle them ... shh!), and tie into the continued plot really well. And another big part of the Snow White story is the seven dwarfs - so it would be really fun, in a continued story, to show us what the dwarfs (if they're dwarfs at all in your retelling - after all, its your story!) went on to do AFTER the Snow White story. And of course, there's the Mirror - which is where the trapped people element comes in. Maybe after the Evil Queen died, the Mirror broke free of some oath of silence and can finally tell people what really happened.

   But, since this is a continuation story, try to drop lots of little hints and tie-ins to the original stories. Its always fun for us readers to go "aha!" and get madly excited as we point at all the little hints we were able to catch as we watch the pieces fall together.

   And that about finishes up the second part of this part of the series! I hope it was fun for y'all to get a deeper look at what these stories could possibly be. The next post in this series will be up in about a week, and we'll be figuring out how to tie everything together to make your story a real retelling. So much sure to follow along! You aren't gonna want to miss it ;).

~ Savannah Grace 

which one of this ideas would you most like to write?
can you think of any more ways to dig deeper with these four ideas? 

Featured Author - May // TAYLOR BENNETT

May 11, 2018

   Eleven days into May, and its time for the first Featured Author of the month! I'm stoked to introduce you all to one of the sweetest gals in this writing community, Taylor Bennett - who's debut book was published exactly eleven days ago! Who's ready to meet this ray of sunshine?

Featured Author - May // TAYLOR BENNETT

A few epic Taylor-things that you should check out:

Cover Image for Porch Swing Girl by Taylor Bennett
What if friendship cost you everything?

Stranded in Hawaii after the death of her mother, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is desperate to escape. She has to get back to Boston before her dad loses all common sense and sells the family house. But plane tickets cost money—something Olive gravely lacks.

With the help of Brander, the fussy youth group worship leader, and Jazz, a mysterious girl with a passion for all things Hawaiian, Olive lands a summer job at the Shave Ice Shack and launches a scheme to buy a plane ticket home before the end of the summer.

But when Jazz reveals a painful secret, Olive’s plans are challenged. Jazz needs money. A lot of it. Olive and Brander are determined to help their friend but, when their fundraising efforts are thwarted, Olive is caught in the middle. To help Jazz means giving up her ticket home. And time is running out.

her contemporary YA debut novel, Porch Swing Girl

her beautimous Instagram,

her author website,

Savannah Grace: Hey, Taylor! So happy that you're able to be here today, I'm excited to interview you! What are a few quirks about yourself that people might be surprised to know?

Taylor Bennett: Thank you so much for having me, Savannah! I’m thrilled and honored to be here 😊.

Until I started pursuing publication, I actually had no social media accounts whatsoever. So when I started to build my platform, I literally started with nothing—no FB friends, Instagram buddies, NOTHING. And even now that I have a social media presence, I don’t have a smartphone (or any phone for that matter.) 😊

When I was in elementary/middle school, I could not spell AT ALL. Even though I spent as much of my free time as I could reading, the words didn’t stick in my brain. Now, I’m a much better speller, but…well…I’m still thankful for the spell-checker on my computer 😉

I’m kind of an old soul, evidenced by my chosen friends. My best-friend-since-birth is my mom, and my other friends are…her friends!! I have “kid friends” too, but I’ve always been more comfortable talking to adults.

Savannah: I can absolutely relate to have no social media accounts! I really need to step up my game, haha ;D. What steps did you take that helped get you published so early on in your life? (you're my age exactly, I think, which I find super cool ;))

Taylor: I started pursuing publication when I was thirteen, just a few months before I entered high school and, honestly, I’d say that the biggest step was simply being consistent with my goal. When I started querying publishing companies, I had a way-too-small-to-be-a-real-novel manuscript and a haphazardly-constructed query letter. But, as I received rejections and studied the writing craft, I learned more about the publishing world. I could have given up after getting my first rejection letter in the mailbox, but I had to make the decision to stand by my goal, no matter what.

That didn’t make it any easier, but it did make it easier for me to keep pressing forward when times got tough. Other than making a firm commitment to follow my dream, something that helped me a lot was joining a community of writers. I found an online critique group where I could learn and grow both by getting and giving feedback.

Savannah: THIRTEEN? Girl, you are dedicated. *fistbumps* Thank you for being such an all-star, Taylor, you're an inspiration! With all the publishing houses out there, how did you end up signing with Mountain Brook Ink? 

Taylor: Once I realized that my first non-novel wasn’t going to earn me a book contract, I changed tactics. I tried writing several other books, but either my computer would crash or I would get discouraging feedback that made me realize it wasn’t the “right” book for me.
Finally, I woke up one morning with three words going through my head: Porch Swing Girl. Though I didn’t know where the words came from or what had prompted them, I couldn’t get them out of my mind. In a few short hours, I had concocted a story to go along with the title, and I felt more inspired than I had in months.
When I attended the Oregon Christian Writer’s conference that summer, I pitched the idea (I hadn’t even finished writing it yet!) to three different publishers. Two of them were dream publishers and the other was…a wild card. Mountain Brook Ink was the wild card and, as it turned out, the only one interested in publishing a contemporary Christian YA book.
I spent the next year polishing Porch Swing Girl, and, when I met Miralee Ferrell, the owner of Mountain Brook Ink, at the same writer’s conference a year later, she was still interested. In fact, she wanted me to write two more books—and that’s how the Tradewinds trilogy was born. 

Savannah: Good gracious, that's amazing! (also - go you for having the bravery to pitch!) I love that you not only got a deal for Porch Swing Girl to be published, but for a whole trilogy. What inspired you to set Porch Swing Girl in Hawaii?

Taylor: I was inspired to set Porch Swing Girl in Hawaii because of an acute mix of wanderlust and homesickness. Thanks to the generosity of a family friend (who is really more like family) my mom and I had gotten the opportunity to stay in a beachfront condo in Maui several years before. I’d been dreaming of returning to the island ever since and I figured, if I couldn’t go back for real, I could at least transport myself there via my writing. (Fun fact: I ended up going back to Maui twice during the writing of Porch Swing Girl for “research trips.”)

And why do I love Hawaii that much? Sure, the beach is great, the palm trees and hibiscus bushes beautiful, but the real secret behind Maui’s charm is its aloha spirit. It might sound cheesy, but anyone who’s ever visited this enchanted isle will tell you—Hawaii is a special, magical island because of the people who live there and their culturally rich heritage. Where else can you make friends with a rooster, eat at five-star restaurants, and watch sea turtles frolic just inches away?

Savannah: I'm legit dying to visit Maui now ;D. I'm so glad that you got to visit there so many times! It's super neat that your book is set in such a lovely place. Are any of the scenes (or characters) in your book inspired by real-life experiences of yours?

Taylor: Oh, I love this question!! Mainly because half of the people in the book are actually real people. Okay…maybe not quite half, but there are a lot of them!! A couple of family friends that we actually met during the editing stage of Porch Swing Girl got written into a scene, and one of my favorite snippets (where my character, Olive, attempts to apply for a job at a snobby boutique) was actually a reimagining of a similar experience I had while visiting Maui.

I also wrote a lot of my own quirks into Olive, including my then-dislike of egg salad. The funny thing? As I was editing Porch Swing Girl, I actually ended up falling in love with egg salad. I just had it for lunch today, as a matter of fact 😊

Savannah: That's seriously epic, Taylor, I love how much of your real life got tied into the story! Nothing can make a book feel more real than real-life getting tied in ;). What do you hope that people come away with after reading Porch Swing Girl?

Taylor: I hope that people come away from reading Porch Swing Girl with a smile on their face and hope in their heart. When I write, I hope to touch people, to show them that just because things are messy and broken doesn’t mean they aren’t also beautiful. I want to give readers hope and joy, and I want them to be able to get caught up in a story without having to worry about “content.” I want to write YA fiction that will resonate with everyone, but that is focused first on God and on being holy, pure, and innocent so that He is ultimately glorified.

Savannah: That's one of the best goals there is <3. And with how much hype your book has, I have a feeling its going to do just that! What has surprised you the most to learn during the process of getting Porch Swing Girl published?

Taylor: How nice everyone is!!
That might sound weird, but really—I can explain.

When I used to envision the publishing world, I pictured it is a cutthroat community of review-hungry writers whose only goal was to win the biggest awards and hit #1 on the NYT. I’ve come to realize that the Christian writing community is nothing like that. Everybody knows everyone, and more established authors are always happy to help out industry newbies (like me!)
I’ve been amazed and encouraged by support from industry veterans like Sara Ella and Nadine Brandes, and I can’t wait until I can pay it forward someday by encouraging a young author myself.

Savannah: Isn't the industry great? Everyone always talks about how hard it is, and how you have to develop a thick skin - but I think there's still an awful lot of sweet people out there that can make the process so much easier! It's great that you've found those people ;). What’s one line (or paragraph) you’re written that you really love, and why do you like it so much?

Taylor: I’m seriously attached to Porch Swing Girl’s first line: “I hate Hawaii.”

Why? Because it’s perfectly ironic, and it also sets the stage for my main character’s transformation throughout the course of the book. I’d elaborate more about said transformation, but…well…spoilers 😉

Savannah: Haha, spoiler territory is a scary place! I'll just have to read your book for myself and find out ;). Okay, one last question before we let you bounce off to do more epic writer-things: who are three of your greatest inspirations, and why?

Taylor: My mom—she is literally the most dedicated, most loving person I know. She makes it her mission to be sure that everyone she meets feels loved and cared for, and she has the biggest, brightest smile I’ve ever seen. Her heart is so huge and so beautiful (and she’s super smart and talented, too!) and I can only hope that, someday, I can become more like her.

Stephanie Kehr—this fellow writer is an amazing person and she inspires me to always trust God and to live with joy no matter the circumstances. I’ve never had the opportunity to meet her in person, but I’m so happy to have connected with her through writing. Her blog and Instagram posts are sure to brighten my day and encourage me to live with grace and kindness no matter what comes my way.

Beverly Cleary—for one, I grew up reading her beloved Ramona books. For another, she’s a fellow Oregonian! And thirdly, she penned one of my favorite quotes: “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.” That quote inspires me every time I sit down to write!

Savannah: I absolutely agree about that incredible quote! So much importance there. Thank you for chatting with us today, Taylor! You're a gem - I can't wait to read your gorgeous masterpiece! <3

Author Image of Taylor Bennett

Homeschooled since kindergarten, Taylor Bennett is the seventeen-year-old author of Porch Swing Girl, which will be released by Mountain Brook Ink on May 1st. When she’s not reading or writing, Taylor can be found playing her violin or taking walks in the beautiful Oregon countryside. She loves to connect with readers via her author website, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (her favorite!), Pinterest, and Goodreads.

   I hope y'all were inspired but that interview! You guys, Taylor's only seventeen and she's already traditionally published with more books coming. If that isn't incredible, I don't know what it ;).

   ANYways - keep being epic, y'all. <3 I'll be back in a few days with another post!

~ Savannah Grace

have you ever traveled anywhere for a "research trip"?
feel free to chat with Taylor in the comments!

Book Review (and giveaway!) - The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

May 7, 2018

   Hey y'all! I'm on tour today with JustRead for the INCREDIBLE book, The Story Peddler - and I've been waiting for weeks to tell you guys about it! I love this story SO MUCH <3. Who's ready for a very fangirl-y review?

Book Review of The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

4.5 Stars

   This book is like a piece of magic in and of itself! And, would you believe it - The Story Peddler is the first non-reread book OF THE YEAR that I've rated this high. Because I'm a picky porcupine. So there's that ;D. And The Story Peddler absolutely deserved every one of those stars, this book is just stunning! 

From The Back Cover 

The Story Peddler Cover Image

Selling stories is a deadly business
Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down . . . and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers . . . and they’re after her too.

View The Story Peddler on Goodreads   ---   View The Story Peddler on Amazon  

   The Story Peddler was published by Enclave on May 1st, 2018
Lindsay A. Franklin headhsot image

Lindsay A. Franklin is a best-selling author, award-winning editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. She lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder of a husband, their precious geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed wombat with his own Instagram following.

- Connect with Lindsay - 

- Cliche FLIPs everywhere! Guys, there was so much potential for this story to slide into some well-known cliches and tropes - but it didn't. Lindsay flipped everything on its head so many times, and I LOVED IT! Some of them almost made me laugh out loud, because I've been waiting so long for someone to twist certain cliches and Lindsay pulled it off perfectly. Loved that aspect so, so much <3.  

- Memorable (and pronounceable!) fantasy names. Oh, my gracious y'all. Maybe this point seems like a small thing to you, but fantasy names are often the bane of my existence. But to my shock and delight, all the names in this fantasy book were easy to remember, and easy to pronounce! My relief is great ;D. 

- Tanwen. And Mor. And Gryfelle. And Braith. And - okay, all the precious characters! <3 Seriously, you guys. I just CAN'T with the characters in this book! Y'all know that I'm super character-oriented, and if the characters fall flat, I won't like the book. But these characters? Polar opposite of "flat". I loved them all so much, and Tanwen is one of the best main characters I've ever read, I adored her. Lindsay has a magic touch when it comes to writing characters!

- The magic. YOU. GUYS. Out of all the books I've read in all my life, The Story Peddler has one of my top-favorite systems of magic. It was so unique and so beautiful, I just can't <3. I can't explain it and do it justice, so you guys will just have to read the book and see for yourself!  

   And this is one of those books where I could go on and on about, but I'll have to stop there - otherwise I'll end up turning this book review into a mile-long rave! ;D 

- Huh. Were there any dislikes? Honestly, I can't pinpoint anything that I could put in this category! The only reason I'm not giving it a full five stars is because there were a couple scenes in the story lost my attention (very! smol! parts!) - but not enough to stop me from shrieking to the world about JUST HOW AMAZING this book is <3.

   Well, I said it at the beginning and I'll repeat it at the end: THIS BOOK IS A PIECE OF MAGIC ITSELF. I didn't expect to love it so incredibly much, but I adored it to death <3. I'm super thankful to have had the chance to read this book before it officially released - and now that it IS released, you guys need to go buy it, because it is the most lovely piece of magic <3. I would absolutely recommend it to any readers (14+) who are looking for a stunning fantasy story.

   And I think that's about all I have to say (who am I kidding, no it's not - but if I don't stop now, I'll go on for days xD)! Y'all are probably wondering about the giveaway now, huh? Well, JustRead tours (click here to get to the tour landing page and see the other stops!) is generously hosting an epic giveaway for this Story Peddler tour, and the prizes are EPIC ...

The Story Peddler JustRead tour banner

What exactly is being given away, you asked? A signed copy of The Story Peddler, a custom Story Peddler candle, art prints and a map from The Story Peddler, a fluffhopper sticker, a custom bookmark, and Little Women writing gloves, that's what! Who would want to miss out on the chance to win all those??

The Story Peddler giveaway image

   Y'all will have to skip on over to the tour landing page to enter the giveaway though, because rafflecopter hates my blog today (and most days, haha) - sorry!

   And I think that's all and everything. I hope y'all enjoyed the book review - but more importantly, I hope it made you want to give this book a shot, because you absolutely should! And then come running back here so we can rave about it together ;D.

   Keep being epic, y'all <3.

~ Savannah Grace 

have you read The Story Peddler yet?
what's your favorite book that flips a lot of cliches?