Fairy Tale Mistakes, Fixed


One of the things that Lani and Krissie and I have been talking about is our long-delayed collaboration on Fairy Tale Lies. It’s been long delayed because we all have other books we have to finish first, but we love the idea and we love our characters and plots . . .

Actually that wasn’t true. We all loved their characters and plots. Lani’s writing a really pissed-off Rapunzel who just got scammed by a wolf in conman’s clothing who looks a lot like Robert Downey, Jr., and Krissie’s writing a really pissed-off Cinderella who just got dissed by a Grand Vizier who sounds a lot like Alan Rickman. (When you’re collaborating, you have to give your collaborators concrete references until you’re far enough into the book that all the characters become who they’re going to be and are clear to everybody.) I was writing Red Riding Hood as a grandmother who goes into the woods to keep her teenage granddaughter from making the Family Mistake and ending up knocked up by a wolf. Lani and Krissie were fine with it, and I loved all the metaphor-and-symbolism richness of Red going back into the woods as an adult, but I couldn’t make it catch fire for me. I collaged it, I wrote the intro scene for it, but I could not make it work. Which was okay, I have Liz and Zelda’s books to work on. But it bugged me just the same.

So this time when we were sitting in front of the fire with handwork and tea, and we talked about the back story for the antagonist, I said, “I don’t want to write Rip [our Big Bad], but I’d love to write Goldie [his henchwoman].” I’ve written the antagonist on the two previous collabs–Xan and Kami–but I had no interest in Rip, and Lani loves his placeholder (have you seen Dodgeball?) so everybody was happy. Except Goldie doesn’t have a POV, so I didn’t have much scope. She’s just a grown-up Goldilocks who lives in the woods in a gypsy caravan and guides people through to the other side so they don’t get killed by the wildlife, human and animal, and spies for Rip. She’s little and cute and blonde and lethal: do not fuck with Goldilocks, she was raised by bears. When we first brainstormed her, she was Kristin Chenowith, but I kept seeing her as more of an Amy Poehler, bright and pretty and savage.

The more I thought about Goldie in that caravan, the more intrigued I was. She’d have a fluffy little poodle like our Mona, and she’d name it our nickname for Mona: The Iron Muffin. And Muffin would be like Goldie, bright and cute and little, with teeth that can rip your throat out. Wolves would back away from Muffin. And then there was that brightly painted gypsy caravan . . . I loved the idea of that caravan.

Okay, you’ve seen this coming a mile away, but I didn’t. It took until last night for me to say, “I think I want to switch heroines.” It was really hard because I LOVE the Red Riding Hood story, I have many books analyzing the Red Riding Hood story, but that was all intellectual. Goldie got me viscerally, and you can figure out intellectural but you cannot create visceral. Plus Goldie’s back story, once I started on it, actually made more sense than Red’s in the context of this particular conflict. Plus The Iron Muffin. I wished Red the best of luck and moved into Goldie’s caravan.

Of course that meant I had to find Goldie a hero, peel off my old character pictures from the Fairy Tale Lies collage and put the new characters up, and figure out exactly what’s going on with their story together (because although there’s an overall plot of Our Girls against the Big Bad Rip, this is essentially a triple romance novel), but that’s all easy now because Goldie is so My Girl. Plus so much fun stuff: When the hero says, “I was raised by wolves,” Goldie says, “Tell me about it. My brother is a bear,” and neither one of the realizes the other one is being literal . . . well, I just get all happy inside.

Here’s the revised start to my collage. (Lani and Krissie are doing their stories on scrapbook pages; this is just Goldie’s story although the other two heroines are definitely part of it which is why they’re there to the left and right.) There’ll be a ton more stuff on here by the time we’re finished, but that’ll happen as we work because we’re definitely going to write this one.

Filed in Writing

72 Comments to 'Fairy Tale Mistakes, Fixed'

On February 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm McB said...

This post is titled “6825”?

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On February 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm Merry said...

What, you can’t figure out the code? 😉

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On February 12, 2012 at 5:48 pm Jenny said...

Sorry. I was so tired, once this was done, I hit “publish” and went to bed. I have no idea what that number means. It’s the seven hundred and sixty-first post on Argh, if that helps at all.

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On February 13, 2012 at 10:00 am McB said...

I thought you just did that to keep us distracted. Kind of like when I was a kid gonig someplace with my dad. He would give me his keys to play with while he got his haircut or whatever. So I spent a while playing with all the permutations of 6825 and trying to find deeper meaning. If you hadn’t checked in I’d be well on my way by now to giving the Mayans and The DaVinci Code a run for their money.

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On February 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm skay said...

This is why I read your books and blog…You make the pictures come alive in my head so I can’t wait to read the book!!!!!

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On February 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm Mary Stella said...

When the hero says, “I was raised by wolves,” Goldie says, “Tell me about it. My brother is a bear,” and neither one of the realizes the other one is being literal . . . well, I just get all happy inside.

OMG. I want to read this book tomorrow! Too bad I can’t sleep like Cinderella and just wake up the day before the book hits the streets.

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On February 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm Sharon S. said...

It’s Sleeping Beauty who sleeps, not Cinderella! :)

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On February 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm Kelly S said...

snow white would have worked too, after having eaten the apple

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On February 12, 2012 at 5:14 pm romney said...

I’m glad you’re going to write this one because I definitely want to read it.

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On February 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm Briana said...

Fun! I’m just happy, sitting here thinking about all your books-to-come. Happy, happy, happy.


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On February 12, 2012 at 5:51 pm colognegrrl said...

Definitely looking forward to this book. If it takes a while before it’s finished, will you please feed us little morsels of information about it once in a while? We don’t need much.

Thanx, Hänsel & Gretel

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On February 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm Kate George said...

I can’t even tell you how jealous I am that you get to write books with your friends!And probably editors with jump up and down with glee to get their hands on it. I’m excited to read the book because you all are fabulous together, while simultaneously jealous and wondering how I get my physical friends to write books with me – they aren’t writers! And wanting to sit around with tea and handwork and watch fun stuff on TV. Ah, well, my time will come. These monsters I live with are very close to being raised now!

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On February 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm Deborah Blake said...

I love it when a plot comes together…

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On February 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm Leigh said...

The collage’s like one of those pop-up books I secretly covet. I want to pick up the pooch, and turn the handle on the red door, and peek inside. I want to know who’s that woman skulking in the bushes, and if the tree house is habitable. I want to sit on the blue steps for a bit, in case that guy who looks vaguely like Benjamin stops looking over his shoulder, and starts looking at me….Yup, I’m liking the collage.

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On February 12, 2012 at 7:56 pm Jenny said...

The treehouse is where the hero lives.

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On February 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm katyL said...

I get that you like to use famous people as placeholders and you’ve explained why it helps, but do you ever find it too confining once the writing starts?

When I write, I need to keep my characters in my head. Sometimes, my hubby or other folks have said to me “You know who’d be great to play so and so” or “Character X reminds me of so and so.” But I find I can’t let those ideas into my head because then I start thinking of my characters differently–and not in a good way. I’ll want my character to say or do something and stop a second when I think: but so and so doesn’t have that mannerism or whatever.

How do you keep your famous placeholders from influencing the development of your characters?

Not sure this has ever been a problem for any other writers here, but I’d love to figure out a way to make use of placeholders now and then–you guys make it look so fun.

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On February 12, 2012 at 7:56 pm Jenny said...

I usually use several different people as placeholders. It’s more about the attitude in the photograph than the actual person.

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On February 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm katyL said...

Thanks. Interesting distinction. This I get. I’m all about energy and so get the idea now. I think you’re talking more spirit, vibe kind of thing. THAT I can use.

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On February 12, 2012 at 9:28 pm PG said...

Kind of on the topic of mental images of characters, I thought this was cool.

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On February 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm JulieB said...

Mr. Rochester was positively creepy, but that was fun!

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On February 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm Clever Cherry said...

I do better if I don’t know my placeholders personalities well. I tend to pick athletes because I know very little of the sports world. For my current wip, the hero placeholder is Rio Ferdinand, pro soccer player (shut up Delia) and the heroine is a German actress I know nothing about but her emotions show up in her photos.

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On February 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm Leigh Evans said...

I think you’re right on that Clever Cherry. Knowing too much about the personality behind the face can mess you up.

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On February 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm Tracey said...

Speaking of placeholders, is the heroine on the left (as I look at the collage) Laura Linney? Probably not, but I can’t place the face, so I thought I’d ask.

This book sounds FABULOUS! I can’t wait to read it!

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On February 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm Jenny said...


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On February 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm inkgrrl said...

Belated WOO!

Love this – I totally identify with Goldie more than with Red too. I can see the appeal in writing Red, but yes, distant and intellectual.

Again, WOO!!

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On February 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm Gina Dolin said...

Yes please! The fairy tales so need to be re-written. As a little girl I loved fairy tales and bless my mother and grandmother who kept telling me I was in charge of my own destiny. Lucky for me I listened to their words and ignored their actions. So please help empower the next generation of young women.


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On February 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm Christie Griffin said...

I so love working with mythic paradigms a la fairy tales! And sounds like your Goldilocks will rock! I hate to have to pass on the grandmother red, knocked up by a wolf, though! Maybe she’ll be a minor……….

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On February 12, 2012 at 7:58 pm Marta said...

You had me at Kristin Chenowith. I know you changed your mind, but I’m keeping Kristin in mine. I wonder, though, if Red had a dog, and if not, would it have made a difference.

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On February 12, 2012 at 10:55 pm JulieB said...

I had a beautifully illustrated picture book of LRRH when I was younger, and I want to say there was a little brown dog in the story. But I don’t really know know if I just added that.

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On February 12, 2012 at 11:49 pm Jenny said...

I’m keeping Kristen, too. Some of the images I have of her are still perfect for Goldie. But I like the central image I have; that’s very much as I see Goldie. The Chenowith images are Goldie playing a part.

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On February 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm Clever Cherry said...

The collage looks fascinating and the book sounds intriguing. Iron Muffin looks adorable sitting on those steps all alone.

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On February 12, 2012 at 10:37 pm robena grant said...

Awesome! Love that collage, and it’s amazing when you click on it and see the larger version. The tree house is great. Can’t wait for the book.

Hope you started writing tonight. : )

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On February 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm Kathy S said...

Ok, reading this post I couldn’t help but think that Cinderella should be your spy for Rip. I just saw her as a really bitter dowager queen who got the prince and found he wasn’t all that charming, then had the kids who aren’t really all that great, and wants out of the fairy tale. ( Uh sorry if this infringes on that author/fan trap).

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On February 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm Jenny said...

That’s Krissie’s Girl, and she has a great plot for her already. But thank you for playing (g).

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On February 12, 2012 at 10:53 pm JulieB said...

Visceral is good. And, I’m really glad to hear that you jumped characters. I did, but at the time fiction was so new to me that I resisted for a long time and wasted a lot of energy doing so, as well as the time I could have used writing. It’s good to know that it happens, and it can happen years into story writing. Also, you already sound like you’re in the right place. Before when you wrote about the book, you’d spend more time telling us what Lani and Krissie were writing than anything about Red. Thanks for giving us a snapshot of the process.

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On February 12, 2012 at 11:45 pm Micki said...

(-: The only Red Riding Hood I every really liked was Thurber’s. Can’t wait to see what you guys do with your fairy tale heroines!

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On February 13, 2012 at 1:33 am Emily said...

It’s like looking for The One – you’re with a guy, he’s a perfectly nice guy, you really want it to work, it should work for a whole lot of reasons, but… he’s not The One. Same deal with writing characters and story – you have a perfectly good story that ought to work, but it’s not The One.

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On February 13, 2012 at 2:17 am Sarah said...

Oh, this book sounds fabulous – I can’t wait! Thank you for sharing more of your process, too. I adore the collage (as always) but found your explanation of changing heroine/storylines really fascinating. It must’ve been hard to drop something that was ‘worked out’, researched, planned and thematically interesting (the RRH story) for the new one that said ‘write me’. I’m often too frightened to trust my instincts and it isn’t until after months of wasted work/being stuck that I obey them. Yes, I’m an idiot. But I’m hoping I can learn from you! Thanks again.

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On February 13, 2012 at 7:42 am Kimberly Hope said...

Wow. Little sharp teeth on a small animal in the woods. Did anyone else flash on Gwen Goodnight?

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On February 13, 2012 at 8:24 am Nancyf said...

My toes are curled in anticipation of this book already. Not that I want to push, but hurry up and write it please???

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On February 13, 2012 at 8:52 am lee said...

teeth just make me think of Tilda’s mother. Which makes me really happy, don’t get me wrong, but all those tiny, sharp teeth….

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On February 13, 2012 at 10:53 am Nancy said...

And speaking of Tilda: I just re-read Dogs and Goddesses for the nth time, and among all the wonderfulness was Shar’s response to painting and drawing. The charcoal lines on the white paint … As with Tilda when she’s painting as herself … as with Daisy in The Cinderella Deal. Among Our Author’s fabulousness is her ability to convey the visceral emotional nonverbal nature of a visual artist’s creative process.

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On February 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm Christie Griffin said...

You did this with Daisy, too, in the Cinderella Deal……..She’s your heroine most like me. I love her vulnerability, and how hard she is willing to try to plug into Linc’s world……The respect her work gets at the end of the novel is really gratifying too!.

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On February 13, 2012 at 9:45 am Marcia in OK said...

It is so wonderful to hear how excited you are about your writing again. Thank you for sharing.

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On February 13, 2012 at 10:05 am Eve said...

sounds like a fun book! also lol – three blondes, one book?

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On February 13, 2012 at 11:16 am Jennifer said...

This does sound like a lot of fun. I look forward to eventually reading it. Goldie does sound like an entertaining girl.

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On February 13, 2012 at 11:39 am Kathy said...

I love the collage, and what a wonderful way to remember the details while writing!

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On February 13, 2012 at 11:56 am Sheila said...

I love the idea of remaking the fairy tales and righting the wrongs. Keep up the great work.

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On February 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm stephanie said...

I was on pinterest looking for a recipe I’d saved when I saw pictures of vibrantly colored caravans and thought, “Wow. There’s something fun going on in Jenny Land!”

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On February 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm Sure Thing said...

That teeny, tiny bit of dialogue just got me. Trailers? Who need’s ’em? (Nothing against a good trailer, mind.) Just damn Crusie, if visceral does that, then we all need to take notes.

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On February 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm Kate said...

Can’t wait to read this one! Sounds like a lot of fun at this stage.

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On February 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm Melanie said...

This sounds like a really fun read – can’t wait until we get the chance.

I think this description of Amy Poehler is perfect: “Bright and pretty and savage.” Can’t wait to see how the story plays out!

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On February 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm Sharon S. said...

This is like waiting for the 3rd installment of Star Wars (the original) after Han is frozen in Carbonite and Yoda’s “There is an-o-ther Sky…Walker”. OMG, how do we wait that long. Patients has never been my strong suit!

I was raised on all-things-Disney and only read Grimm’s Fairytales as an adult. What a rude awakening I had. I thought the ALL ended Happily-Ever-After…but am loving “Once Upon a Time” so I am really, really looking forward to this book. Hop to it girls! Your audience awaits. :)

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On February 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm Christie Griffin said...

Amen: our girls and teens need an antidote to Disney, too………I’m working on a nature adventure with a save the world theme, pulling from Greek and Celtic myth, but I very much envy the fun of plugging into/ reinventing familiar, beloved fairy tales!

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On February 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm Pam said...

Did you find that picture of Amy Poehler or assemble it? I’m guessing assembled, so will you explain how? Thanks!

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On February 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm Jenny said...

I found the picture of Poehler in a rock t-shirt holding her fingers like that. I used Curio to block out the original image on the shirt and put in the Bear Rescue letters (because I have yet to learn Photoshop) and then glued a picture of Mona onto her hand.

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On February 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm CrankyOtter said...

I like the brambles, myself.

Good luck with the Goldilocks; when can we preorder?

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On February 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm CrankyOtter said...

Oh, two more things.

1) You could sell this on CafePress right now:
“Do not fuck with Goldilocks
She was raised by bears”

2) Red could always make a cameo. It’s not like we’d need to see a lot of her to get the point, or extensive explanation to make her work.

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On February 15, 2012 at 10:11 am Pam said...

I really really really want that shirt!

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On February 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm Christie Griffin said...

I’m all about a cameo by Red! Bring on Grandmomma Red: she’s lookin’ out for the schemin’ teen user, and gets swept off her feet instead……Yeah, Cougar Red: no match for a very hunky, much younger Wulf!

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On February 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm rosemary borage said...

have you read Michael Gruber’s The Witches Boy?

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On February 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm Sharon S. said...

OMG, I should have written Patience has never been a strong suit…I work in a hospital. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

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On February 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm RainyWeather said...

So many interesting posts here – I adore the Goodnight family. I think they are my favorite Crusie creation. Just requested The Witch’s Boy from the library – thanks, Rosemary. I really enjoyed blog 6825, Jenny (okay to call you that, Ms. Crusie? It feels right! :)). I’m very interested in your writing process and, like Sarah, I’m impressed by your willingness (probably not the right word) to change main characters after doing so much research and work with Red. I know I read somewhere (in one your essays? A foreword? Somewhere . . . ) that originally Eve was going to be the main character in Faking It, but Tilda just kind of took over. I wanted to share a quote I like from Robin McKinley (who did a lovely retelling of Beauty and The Beast, and then did another version 20 years later). She said: “I’ve long said my books “happen” to me. They tend to blast in from nowhere, seize me by the throat, and howl, Write me. Write me now! But they rarely stand still long enough for me to see what and who they are before they hurtle away again, and so I spend a lot of my time running after them, like a thrown rider after an escaped horse, saying, Wait for me! Wait for me! and waving my notebook in the air.” (I’m very new to this blog. Hopefully including a long quote is acceptable blog etiquette.) Also want to say THANK YOU, Jenny, for hours and hours and hours of enjoyment. I have many, many favorite authors (lucky me), but you are among my favorite favorites.

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On February 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm Jenny said...

Love the McKinley quote; it’s so true. Thank you!

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On February 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm Merry said...

If you have a chance, you might want to check out How to Write Badly Well. He’s put together a randomly generated folktale… er, generator:

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On February 14, 2012 at 9:53 am cleo said...

I love that you’re re-telling Goldilocks. I love modern re-tellings of fairytales and I don’t think I’ve read a Goldilocks yet. I like your characterization – she always seemed kind of limp to me (at least in the childhood versions I remember), but really, you’d have to be tough to sneak into a house full of bears and eat their porridge.

Can’t think of any re-tellings of Rapunzel either, at least off the top of my head, except for Into the Woods (which rocks btw). There might be a Goldilocks dancing around in Into the Woods as well – can’t remember.

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On February 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm Jenny said...

Well, she started out as a supporting character. My Goldie’s back story is that she was a rich little girl until she was four when she went into the woods and was adopted by bears; then after two years gypsies found her and took care of her until she was sixteen when she went to work for the wolves. Now she’s thirty-something and people are annoying her. My kind of heroine.

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On February 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm Jill said...

Much better enlarged. Who is that hiding in the leaves ? Evil Eve ?

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On February 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm Jenny said...

That’s Poppy. Or Scarlet. Our Red Riding Hood and probably the MacGuffin.

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On February 15, 2012 at 3:21 am colognegrrl said...

I googled Goldilocks because it’s not known in Germany and I found this:

Really funny. if you like to read verse.

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On February 17, 2012 at 7:11 pm Ericka said...

jeez. please don’t die. i need you to finish this book which will take you YEARS so you need to survive. i’d take it as a personal favor.

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On March 7, 2012 at 2:32 am pat said...

late in reading this, but it hits familiar when I saw Red. The books i write for the missing child stuff i do, well i mixed it up a bit and threw in 2 interactive plays. I had already done the fairy tail retelling of Red, bigbad is also what i called the wolf, and that was to discuss with your kid stranger danger… the second was Hansel and Gretel which used a sweet little old lady as the bad guy thou she did make reference to him as they talked. she was acquantence danger….last was pinocchio and big bad, and the stories break when red would say, “i don’t know what to do, what would you do?” to the audience and the narrator leads off the questions/whatever the kids come up with all safety info is given in the front of the story so kids know… big bad comes out to a bare stage and starts to talk about how it was so easy to get the kids before these days. he ends his last statement with the same “i don’t know…” and this gives the kids in the audience as well as the kids in the play the chance to yell, scream, whatever to chase him from the stage as the players applaud to the audience.
which was all way too more than you ever wanted to know about writing education/prevention materiall. actually the 3 part story is also just to be read to/with little kids with hugs and k isses for rewards as well as positive reinforcement…

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