{Guest Post and Giveaway} "Fairy Tales in the Wild West" with Author Amber Stokes

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Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a passion for the written word—from blogging to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and pursuing her passion for books as a freelance editor/publicist and self-published author. She’s the author of “The Heart’s Spring” series, a collection of inspirational historical romance stories set in the American West. You can learn more about the series at www.TheHeartsSpringSeries.blogspot.com

You can also connect with Amber on her personal blog (Seasons of Humility), the group blog she contributes to (The Borrowed Book), Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Fairy Tales in the Wild West
by Amber Stokes

While I’ve long been a fan of fairy tales (mainly the Disney versions), the fairy-tale writing bug didn’t bite me until last summer, when I heard about a Cinderella-themed writing contest. I was in the midst of release promo for my debut (inspirational Western romance), and one of my readers had talked about her interest in a certain secondary character of mine. This writing contest was for novellas and short stories, and I thought, “Hmm. Why not create something for the contest and explore this secondary character’s story at the same time?” Thus, Fairy Slippers was born.

I didn’t win the contest, but I ended up with a short story—and another I had written in the meantime titled BELLFLOWER, a prequel to a different book in the series and a Beauty & the Beast retelling. I’ve recently released both as a combo e-book.

So how do fairy-tale retellings work with Western settings? As with any retelling, the trick (and the fun!) is in balancing the familiar elements of a fairy tale with original elements—either characters, plot, or setting...or (hopefully) a fresh combination of the three.

Three of my four main characters for these short stories were ones I was familiar with before writing the retellings, as they were in novels I had already written. They all sort of fell into place with their respective fairy tales, yet they had their own personalities because I wasn’t trying to force them to be characters they weren’t. They weren’t Cinderella and Prince Charming, Belle and the Beast. They were Margaret and Zachary, Annabelle and Jacob. I just let their romances blossom in fairy-tale-esque ways. :)

For the plots, I think it made the task easier for me to keep things short. I can’t even imagine the challenge Marissa Meyer had in keeping the fairy-tale elements straight for her Lunar Chronicles series! (Still, I’m glad she persevered, because that series is amazing!) As for me, I wove in the main themes and then incorporated little details. In FAIRY SLIPPERS, there’s a sense of longing for being cherished and seeing dreams come true. The hero fought for the Confederacy in the War Between the States, and he sings war ballads at the Saturday night dances, so his nickname is “the Prince of the South.” The title of the story itself and its incorporation in the story comprise a big Cinderella connection, too. ^_^ In BELLFLOWER, the premise of how Annabelle and Jacob met—in a mining town’s brothel—lent itself to an exploration of beauty vs. beastliness. Then, as I was writing, I considered the different elements that stuck out to me about the story of Beauty & the Beast (again, the Disney version is the one I’m most familiar with). Belle’s love of reading, the Beast’s “temper tantrum,” the yellow dress, etc. 

(You can read the full, spoiler-y list of connections on the series blog.)

As for the settings, because these stories are part of my Western series, they’re obviously different than the original fairy tales in that way! FAIRY SLIPPERS is set in a redwood lumber town, where I left my hero at the end of my debut. And BELLFLOWER is set in a Nevada mining town, as that’s where the hero and heroine met and ended up for the first book in the series. Yet each setting lent itself to its respective fairy tale. The redwood lumber town (Falk, California) used to have Saturday night dances—not a ball, but close enough for a retelling’s sake. And while a brothel is hardly an enchanted castle, it has its own darkness and secrets, and a brooding master...

I have to add that picking the titles is always a big step for me, shaping the story as I write. All the stories in The Heart’s Spring series have flower titles, so it was an interesting challenge finding the right flower titles for the Western fairy-tale retellings! But these two—FAIRY SLIPPERS and BELLFLOWER—fit perfectly with the locations, the characters, and the themes. You’ll have to read them to see what I mean. ^.~

If you write fairy-tale retellings, how do you approach the writing process? If you read them, what do you believe makes a retelling “work”?

O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: The Heart's Spring Short-Story Combo E-Book
Author: Amber Stokes
Release Date: March 9, 2014
Publisher: Seasons of a Story

The Heart's Spring Short-Story Combo eBook 

BELLFLOWER: Short Story Prequel to FORGET ME NOT

Spring 1880 

Annabelle knows only one way of life. Jacob knows only one way to feel secure. When their paths cross in a Western mining town, can they find a way for love to bloom? Discover the story behind two hurting hearts in this short but sweet retelling of Beauty and the Beast

FAIRY SLIPPERS: Bonus Short Story Companion to BLEEDING HEART

Spring 1888 

Margaret is fragile. Zachary is tough. Both are lonely. Will a dance in a redwood lumber town bring them together - or drive them apart forever? Discover the continuing story of the cook from Bleeding Heart in this short but sweet retelling of Cinderella.

Buy the duo now!
Only 99¢!
What a deal!


Ready to check out 
by Amber Stokes?

Amber is giving away 3 copies of the e-book combo to three of our lovely Fairy Tale Fortnight readers!

All FTF giveaways run until May 10th.

You must register on the Giveaway Registration Form during the event to be considered for any prizes in individual giveaways throughout the event.

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  1. I love everything in this beautiful, heart wrenching world of Amber' s books! I cUt wait until her next one!! :)

    1. You're so sweet! Thank you so much for the kind words and support. :) Hoping to have Morning Glory available in late summer...!


  2. I have all of your novels, but this one! I'm so glad you decided to publish it even though you didn't win the Cinderella contest! I'm sure it's great!

    1. Aww, yay! I appreciate that vote of confidence and the encouragement. :) While Bellflower is darker that Fairy Slippers, I did have a lot of fun writing both! Short stories can be a blast to write - less pressure, and more focus on scenes that really "count," you know? :)


  3. Bellflower was an interesting twist on Beauty and the Beast. And I really appreciated the truth and gravity you placed into Bleeding Heart. I'm interested to see what you did with Fairy Slippers--what with Zachery and all. :)

    How do I approach a fairytale retelling?...um...I brood around until I get an idea and launch forth with it... :D

    1. Thanks so much, Hannah! I hope you enjoy Fairy Slippers - I had fun with Zachary's character. :) And it's a much lighter story than Bellflower (more overtly inspirational, as well).

      LOL about your approach to writing fairy-tale retellings! Whatever works, right? ;) I definitely like to think/daydream about stories a lot before and during the writing process!


  4. Ahhh, love these two short stories!!! :) I really need to go re-read all your books, Amber. They're so much fun. Can't wait for Morning Glory to come out!

    1. Meagan!! I'm so touched you would want to read my books again! I'm thrilled you enjoyed them the first time around. :) Hoping to keep my goal of publishing Morning Glory in late summer!


  5. I adore fairy tale retellings! I think the bug bit me when I read Ella Enchanted- and it's still one of my favorites :) I have a category on goodreads just for them, so I'll be sure to add Bellflower to it.

    1. I haven't read Ella Enchanted! Although I have seen the movie... *sheepish grin* But I've heard it's a classic. :)

      Thanks so much for being willing to add Bellflower to your collection on Goodreads! Hope you enjoy the story(ies) if you check it/them out. :)



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