Sunday, March 18, 2018

Lessons Learned from Rooglewood Press Contests

The journey began in 2013.

It was summer when I spotted a pretty novel in the local bookstore. The cover was deep blue, depicting a dragon's face with the image of a young maiden in its eye, the girl gazing thoughtfully into the water. The back of the book looked interesting too. But . . . Aethelbald? The love interest was named Aethelbald? It sounded odd, and being the wary book-buyer I am (or was; I'm getting alarmingly good at purchasing books these days), I resolved to check it out at the library before I invested $20.

That book was Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. And as often happens with mental notes-to-self that are never committed to paper or phone notes, the promise to seek out the book later quickly slipped through the cracks of my memory. Until one day in late November, I rediscovered Heartless on the library shelf. "Why hello there," I said to myself. "I do believe I forgot about you. Good thing you popped up again."

Image result for heartless anne elisabeth stenglVery good indeed, I soon found. It was a snowy November Sunday when I first cracked that book open. My family and I were Christmas shopping. The opening tale of young Una and Felix's adventures--the bridge, the sibling dynamics, the talking cat--drew me in so fully I couldn't help but twist around in my seat as we drove along and read funny excerpts to my siblings.

I devoured the story cover to cover. Not since beloved favorites like Chronicles of Narnia or Bryan Davis's Dragons in Our Midst had I been so captivated with a perfect elixir of wonder, magic, tension, and heart-wrenching hope. Heartless was an instant favorite, oddly-named Aethelbald and all.

I don't think I'd even finished the book before I Googled its author, curious to see who she was and what else she'd written. Lo and behold, there was a whole Tales of Goldstone Wood series! Not only that, but Anne Elisabeth had a blog full of interesting archives--and her most recent posts talked about a writing contest called Five Glass Slippers, held by Rooglewood Press. Curious, I investigated and found that entrants were to write creative retellings of Cinderella, five of which would be published in an anthology together.

The wheels started spinning. Apparently, the contest had been announced back in June, and the deadline was December 31st. Just one month away. Accepted story length: 5,000 to 20,000 words. "Well," I said to myself. "That's not that long. I've written a novel much longer than that."

So I made a crazy decision. This young writer, with twelfth grade studies on her plate and writing speedometer typically set somewhere around tortoise mode, decided to give it a go.

I have since entered all four fairy tale contests hosted by Rooglewood Press, and each one has played an important part in my writing journey. So today I'm going to share with you the lessons I've learned.

(Thanks to Esther @ The Pen of a Ready Writer for sparking some of these ruminations!)

Five Glass Slippers - 2013/14

I wrote like mad all that December. I'd never written a retelling of a fairy tale before. I'd never written a novella before, either, just short stories and a couple novels. But digging into the original Cinderella tale was a whole lot of fun! The classic elements--orphan waif, evil stepmother, nasty stepsisters, fairy godmother, glass slipper, and nameless prince--I threw into a bottle with a cup of creativity and a sprinkle of plot twists, then whipped it into a froth.

The result? The Glass Girl, a messy story about a glassmaker's daughter turned into glass herself by her stepmother, an evil Mystere pulling the strings in a power conspiracy.

Blunders Made

Plot holes: Oh, the plot holes! I cringe now to think of the gaps I didn't catch in the rush of getting my story submitted in time.

Insta-love: Yep, Ella met Dominic, a lord's son, and proceeded to fall in love with him that evening. Within twenty-four hours, she was confessing a deep secret, crying on his shoulder, and saving his life Tangled style. Ella and Dom still have my affection, but if I ever rewrite this thing, I'll make sure their affection takes a little longer to develop.

Weak writing: It wasn't bad quality considering where I was as a writer at the time. In fact, I discovered something about my own voice while writing The Glass Girl. (More on that in a minute.) But I've grown since then. And looking back? I'm cringing again. I wasn't even sure at the time if novellas were long enough to merit having chapters (news flash: they are), so I wrote one big, long story split up only by scene breaks!

Lessons Learned

Writing fast: There was only a month to write and edit 20,000 words. Professional authors usually accomplish that many times over in a month, but I'd never worked that fast before. I learned a good lesson in butt-on-chair-fingers-on-keyboard that December!

Cutting words: I ended up going a little bit over the word limit, so in my feverish editing, I had to do some trimming. See, I tend to write long. (Ahem, this post is a case in point.) But this contest provided me with valuable practice in cutting back.

Catching a glimpse of my voice: Writing teachers always talk about that elusive thing called voice, and quite frankly, I had not yet found mine. But Ella's story, framed in a fairy tale, set in a fantasy world, and laced with emotion, provided me with an opportunity to fuse poetry and prose. Was my writing flawed? Of course, but that's how everyone starts: in a mess. I caught a glimpse of what it was like to write the kind of imagery I've always loved.


I didn't win, but I learned to produce a story in short order, practiced putting myself out there, and had a really fun time doing it. There's enough likable bits of The Glass Girl that it might be worth revisiting in the future.

image via unsplash

Five Enchanted Roses - 2014/15

When the second contest rolled around, I was ready for it! And let me tell you, I was so excited to find out that the chosen fairy tale was Beauty and the Beast, because it has long been one of my favorites. This time, I had the full half a year to ponder the original tale and spin a new twist on it. I decided to step a wee bit out of my fantasy comfort zone and write a contemporary . . . although in the end, it still had a fantastical flavor. (Apparently the fantasy genre won't leave me alone.)

So Blood Rose was born: the tale of a young medical graduate stranded in the secluded mansion of a man who is much older--and deadlier--than he appears.

Blunders Made

Plot holes: The genre mashing of this story meant that my fantasy/sci-fi ideas had to have a real-world medical grounding. I did as much research as I could within the time limits, but in retrospect, I do believe I left a few shaky spots.

Somewhat unbelievable romance: While Emi and Will had much longer than twenty-four hours to get to know each other, I don't think there was quite enough development between them. Emi should have been more reluctant to take shelter in Will's mansion, and Will needed to exhibit a lot more positive character traits in order to outweigh all the red flags he was throwing up. (I mean, he is actually a good person, but that's not always . . . ahem, obvious. He is, after all, the Beast.)

Lessons Learned

Plot holes again: Yes, those dreaded holes were actually a positive as well! See, about two-thirds of the way into the story, I wrote myself into the most difficult corner I had ever encountered. If I didn't find a way out, Emi was going to die, and then Blood Rose wouldn't have an ending. Hemmed in by medical facts that I couldn't change, I had to either find a real-world loophole, or scrap the plot and start over. So I prayed about it. And I prayed some more. And then I went back to researching. You know what happened? I found a little-known medical tidbit that saved Emi's life and the story itself, and was able to write my way out of that corner! So this lesson is two-fold: trusting God with my writing, and persisting through the tough parts.

Friends: I found a lovely group of writers to beta read this story for me as I wrote it. (I guess some people call that alpha reading if it's the first draft, right?) Through our back and forth interaction, I built some amazing online friendships which I still carry with me today! One of my readers, in fact, was also writing a story for the contest, and I got to be her beta reader at the same time. That story was called Burning Thorns. Anybody who peeks into the comments around here can probably tell that the authoress, Christine Smith, became a dear friend, as did several other sweet souls!


I didn't win Five Enchanted Roses either, but I still felt like a winner anyway. I loved my characters, loved my story, and had a blast sharing it in almost real-time with a group of fantastic betas. I also grew closer to God by realizing again that He really does care about my stories.

image via Pinterest

Five Magic Spindles - 2015/16

Confession: I wasn't over-the-moon thrilled when Rooglewood announced the theme of the next contest was Sleeping Beauty. Maybe that's because I didn't watch the Disney movie as a kid, or maybe it's because nothing could quite compare to my beloved Beauty and the Beast. But the more I pondered the original fairy tale of the princess trapped in an enchanted sleep, the more I got excited about all the possibilities!

The Brightest Thread, the journey of a princess walking the realm of dreams and a faraway prince whose dreams are more real than he knows, ended up being my favorite Rooglewood entry yet.

Blunders Made

Trying to fit a big story into a small space: This was more of a challenge than a serious mistake. Since my idea involved a long rivalry between fairy stewards, one hundred years of history between two nations, a curse and all the rules it entailed, and the development of a romance, I had my work cut out for me. Or rather, I had to literally cut out some of my work. If you've been around the blog long enough, I'm sure you remember me wailing about my first draft being 10,000 words too long!

Lessons Learned

Making every. little. thing. count: On that note, when you need to rip out a third of a story, it feels like you're maiming it. But it's amazing how much leaner a story can be when you're ruthless about weeding out the fluff. Extraneous dialogue? Out. Long-winded descriptions? In the garbage. Unnecessary secondary character? Repurposed. The large-scale result was that every single person, place, or thing in The Brightest Thread absolutely had to be there. On a smaller scale, every word was chosen with purpose.

Writing with abandon: Writing that first draft was a beautiful experience. Sure, it had its ups and downs (especially later on during the editing stage!), but I was so in love with my characters and the world of Iror and Bauglind that spending time with them felt like a dream itself. Years down the road, I have a feeling I'll look back on this story and say, "There. That's when I really discovered my voice." Because that's what it felt like. The story was unapologetically me.


Was The Brightest Thread perfect? Hardly. Even the expanded version of it I'm working on right now has its issues to be addressed. But the heart of the story, then and now, feels right. And to my surprise and delight, my dear Luci and Hadrian made it to the top ten in the contest! That news, plus the judge's thoughtful feedback, was a confidence booster and served as confirmation that this is a tale worth pursuing. Plus, I have precious memories of sharing the journey of writing TBT with amazing beta readers once again.

image via Pinterest

Five Poisoned Apples - 2017/18

Rooglewood Press postponed the 2016 contest to the following year, so by the time Snow White was announced as the final theme, I was itching to enter again! For a long while, though, I wasn't sure what to do with the Snow White tale. I was busy editing the novel version of TBT, and then I was busy starting business school, and my brain just didn't have a lot of extra space to create a new story.

Eventually, however, Mirrors Never Lie unfolded--a look at what happens when a young woman is ensorcelled by a cursed mirror and puts her surrogate family of seven huntsmen in danger.

Blunders Made

Fragmented writing sessions: Being in college made writing a challenge. Rather than immerse myself in the story like I wanted to, I wrote in short snippets on weekends and evenings whenever homework wasn't looming. That approach got the job done, but the downside was that I felt disconnected to Skadi, my main character, for quite some time.

Misconceptions: I was frustrated with the story and myself because Skadi's outer journey seemed disjointed at first. Her goals take her in one direction for a while, and then she literally turns a 180 and runs off in the exact opposite direction. It wasn't until I realized that Skadi's inner journey formed a satisfying arc that I understood the story.

Lessons Learned

Three act structure: After pulling out my hair over cutting The Brightest Thread down to size, I was determined not to make the same mistakes with Mirrors Never Lie. Thankfully, K.M. Weiland wrote a helpful article over on Helping Writers Become Authors that explained how to break down the three act structure in a way that allows you to calculate your story's length . . . before you ever write a word of it. I used this structure to plot my novella and I think it worked! I barely strayed over the word limit, and having signposts to guide my way helped me write even when I felt disconnected.

No matter how terrible a first draft is, there's always editing: You know what I found? The story wasn't nearly as bad as I first thought it was. There was plenty to edit, but when I looked back over my first draft, I found enough to love. Enough diamond under all the rock to encourage the refining process.


I love Mirrors Never Lie the way I love memories of scraped knees and stumbles. There is a rawness in that story that makes me flinch--a combination of self-doubt about the writing quality and my own vulnerability laced through the story's theme. Yet something good came out of that experience. Skadi may not be my favorite protagonist ever. But maybe that's because she embodies a part of myself that isn't my favorite, and maybe that's a good thing.

I don't know what the results of Five Poisoned Apples will be. It's bittersweet, knowing this is the last contest. I hope to see familiar names on the cover in fifteen days when the announcement is made on April 2nd!* Whatever happens, I can't wait to read the winning stories!

*I hear tell of an early announcement on Rooglewood's private Facebook page for the contest (March 31st), but since I don't have Facebook, I likely won't hear anything until the official news is posted.

image via Pinterest

Was it Worthwhile?

Was it worth it to spend so much time writing fairy tale novellas when I could have been focusing on my longer works-in-progress?

Yes! It absolutely was. I'm a firm believer in no writing being a waste. I learned something in each contest.

How to write faster.

How to edit with purpose.

How to share my stories with others.

How to write from the heart.

How to write past doubt.

Not to mention these four opportunities to send my writing out into the world! Hitting send is hard. Waiting is hard. Not knowing is hard. But every time it gets a wee bit easier. And I can say with confidence that the motivation the Rooglewood contests provided have made me a stronger writer.

Whew, you made it to the end! Perhaps I should've taken my own advice and cut this post shorter, but I really wanted to share these lessons--almost like a tribute to the opportunities Rooglewood Press has provided. How about you? Have you entered a contest in your field of creativity before? What's something you've learned? (And are you counting down the days until April 2nd as well?!)


  1. This was so awesome to read! All your entries sound so creative, and I love it. <3 I definitely entered Five Poisoned Apples, although I haven't entered any of the others (and don't worry, I'll be at the Facebook party, and if your story wins, I or someone will surely let you know. :D)

    1. Thank you sooo much, Faith! <3 Yay, another FPA entrant to squeal with and faint with and generally flail around nervously with! XD (Thank yooouuu! I tell ya, stuff like this tempts me to break my never-getting-Facebook-because-I'm-stubborn streak. XD)

  2. Great, great post!!! I loved reading this!!! It was so facinating to see how your writing journey has developed!!!

    1. Awww, thank you!!! <3 Writing this post made me realize just how much of an impact the contests have had on me.

  3. I LOVE THIS POST!! Such a lovely look-back - honest in both the bad and good. I am so amazed to hear you COMPETED IN ALL THE CONTESTS. I wish all the best with your current novella - and all the others, whatever you will do with them! I cannot wait to see the winners either. And I will be as delighted if I see friends' names as if I were seeing my own, I can tell you xD when is the official announcement, again?? :D

    1. THANK YOU, SWEET HUMAN! I considered not entering this year, given how full my schedule was, but I hated the thought of breaking my participation streak. XD

      Thanks for all the well wishes! <3 I'm going to be so excited to read Five Poisoned Apples no matter WHO wins a spot in it! The announcement is on April 2nd officially--but I hear that those on the private contest Facebook page will hear the news on March 31st. :D

    2. I have something funny to tell you. I was talking to my family about book titles and my mom asked to hear all the book titles my friends came up with for their wips and I mentioned Mirrors Never Lie, and my 7 yr old sis asked, "Why would she name it 'Mirages Never Lie'?" *cough* I spoke too fast XDD

    3. THAT IS THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVER. THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME. <333 Your sister sounds smart! :D

  4. This is such a fun post! One of my first and longest things I ever wrote was because of their Five Roses... it was also the only one I ever entered in. I received great feedback, and learned so much! Certainly a worthwhile experience. I do hope to see your name on the cover! It's sad this is their last year ;/

    1. Thanks, Keturah!!! It's awesome that Five Enchanted Roses kind of kickstarted your writing journey. Getting feedback is so valuable! :D And I'm sad to see these contests come to an end as well.


    I absolutely adore the way you discovered Heartless and, in turn, these contests. I also admire how you entered ALL the contests. That's so fantastic! (I only ever did the B&B one. Ooops.)

    It was fascinating seeing your journey through all the contests and how you've grown and learned from each.

    Thank you for the shoutout! MEEP. I'm sitting here grinning and squealing. Taking part in the Five Enchanted Roses contest was seriously one of the best things I've ever done for myself, and the biggest reason is because of getting to know YOU through it. You're one of my greatest blessings! <333 GAH. Now I'm getting all reminiscent of those beta days. :') (And I'm also totally missing dear Emi and Will. <3)

    I think it's the greatest thing that you weren't sure about doing a Sleeping Beauty story at first, and now LOOK how far TBT has come! God works in awesome ways! And just just...I LOVE TBT SO MUUUCH!!! <3333333333333 I'm eternally grateful for these contests because it made you write that beautimous story! Hehe.

    I'm just so, so, SO in awe at you squeezing in Mirrors Never Lie during that crazy time in your life. You are a writing rockstar! And it makes sense it was harder working in fragments. I, too, much rather have long writing sessions to fully immerse in the story. I always feel distant when I'm writing bits and pieces here and there. The same with reading books actually! I don't enjoy it nearly as much if I'm only reading the occasional chapter here and there. (Sadly, that's all I have time for with reading these days it seems... :-/) But I think it's beautiful how you grew to love the story and learned so much from it.

    ALL your experiences are so precious!

    AND THE SNIPPETS. I'm over here just CONSUMING all these pretty snippets. The Mirrors Never Lie snippet did THINGS to my heart. It's just so...beautiful and peaceful. I could FEEL the joy and comfort of the night bonfires and it made me long to be there myself!

    This whole post filled me up! Though I only participated in one Rooglewood contest it, too, did HUGE things for myself and my writing. As you said, no writing is wasted writing! It's absolutely wonderful how much you got from these contests. Whatever the announcement will be on April 2nd, I'm so, SO proud of you!

    1. *curls up like a happy hedgehog* EEEK, I'M SO HAPPY!

      I'm rather fond of how I met Heartless too. ^_^ I'll admit there was a bit of the perfectionist in me that motivated me to enter this fourth contest, haha! (You may have entered only one, but you sure made it count! <3)

      ALL THE FEELS. Will and Emi and Rose and the Dragon and alllll the back and forth emails. *clutches heart* It feels like ages ago, and yet not! You're a humongous blessing to me too, darling! <333

      It IS amazing! Going from uninspired to falling in love with one of my favorite stories to write EVER--God *is* good. Thanks for all the sweetness and TBT-love! ^_^

      Awww, thank you. I still wonder a bit if Mirrors Never Lie could've been a better story if I'd written in when I was LESS busy... but you do the best you can with what you have, right? And that includes time and mental energy. :) Ugh, I know, little spurts in writing OR reading make it harder to connect! (Case in point: I've been reading through Circles of Seven by Bryan Davis for the past two weeks and I still have almost 200 pages to go. It just pains my heart because it's one of my favorite DIOM-world books! *sobs*)


      Awww, you! That's about as long as the peace and comfort last for poor Skadi, though. You know me... upending protagonists' lives all the time. XD But I'm so glad you liked it!!

      I think it's phenomenal how Rooglewood's contests have impacted all these writers! And yes, no writing is ever a waste! And thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for sticking by me and being a persistent cheerleader! <3333

  6. *gasp* TRACEY. Those snippets. Your writing is BEAUTIFUL. Which...I knew already...but I must have forgotten because I feel struck with a death-wound.

    I loved hearing about each and every one of your Rooglewood entries! They all sound so wonderful. It's hard to believe TBT was so long ago already...but I guess I have been sneaking peeks at your lovely blog for quite awhile. :)

    1. MEGAN, YOU'RE SO KIND. <333 Ack, please don't die! *sends magic butterflies to revive you*

      It IS hard to believe TBT started so far back. o.o Wow. And it's still not done, haha! I'm honored you've been around for that long. <3

  7. That was awesome!! I loved seeing what you learned from your projects! They sound really awesome, especially "The Brightest Thread!"
    If it wouldn't bother you, I would love to do something like this on my blog.
    Best of luck with the contest; I can't wait to hear the results!

    1. Thank you, Mikayla! <3 I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. And I'm partial to The Brightest Thread myself. ;)

      Absolutely! I'm happy to inspire fellow bloggers. ^_^ Leave me a link to your post once it's up, and I'll check it out!

      Thanks! Me too! I'm on pins and needles over here. Just 12 more days...

  8. Unfortunately, I didn't find out about the Rooglewood Press Contests until Five Glass Slippers was already completed. After that, I made certain not to miss the Beauty and the Beast Retelling. I decided to write a story about a girl whose father was a wealthy star minor who went missing, so an alien mercenary (aka the beast) kidnaps her to try to get her father out of hiding. That was the first year that I was really writing seriously and it definitely shows in my story. I have about 8,000 words of insta-love, plot holes, and unrealistic characters. I cringe thinking about it.

    For Five Magic Spindles I spent more time on my story, which was about the assassin sent to deliver the spindle to Sleeping Beauty, and I tried my best to make my story longer, adding more details and such... and I ended up making it too long. It ended up being over 20,000 words long and I had to trim stuff (including the "prince" off of my hero's name in all cases outside of dialogue XD). I ended up rushing everything and again that made my characters unrealistic. Note to self: don't ever try to write a novella about a quest, namely a quest that involved lots of traveling, ancient feuds between two countries, and a complex magical system XD

    For Winter Cursed I decided to take it slow. Only add what was entirely necessary (I followed the three act system as well- life saver!), focused on the characters rather than the plot (finally I had a story that I cared about the characters for), got rid of unnecessary side characters or cut their role to a minimum, found alpha and beta readers, and know I am waiting with a palpitating heart for the results.

    I had such fun, exchanging stories with you! I really enjoyed Mirrors Never Lie :D

    I learned many of the same lessons that you did while writing. It was kind of creepy actually that our stories had so many of the same problems ;P

    1. Nicki, that Beauty and the Beast in space idea sounds like a lot of fun! Plot holes and insta-love aside, of course. ;) As cringey as it may be, it's awesome that it marked the beginning of taking it seriously for you.

      Okay, writing a Sleeping Beauty story from the perspective of a spindle-delivering assassin sounds AMAZING. The premise might be worth coming back to! But ugh, I know the feeling of trimming absolutely EVERYTHING that isn't 100% necessary. XD Hopefully no one forgot that your prince was actually a prince. ;) The quest type of story is a hard one to cover in just 20k! I tried that too with TBT... It was difficult but not impossible.

      Sounds like you learned some valuable lessons to apply to Winter Cursed, though! It paid off, in my opinion. ^_^ I was impressed at how you neatly fit your story structure into the word limit without sacrificing too much depth.

      Thanks! The enjoyment was mutual! <3

      Yikes, it IS quite the coincidence we struggled with the same things. Creeeeepy. XD

  9. I love that you entered all of them! It's cool that is was so helpful to your writing journey. I thought The Glass Girl and Blood Rose were both beautiful well written stories. I'm sure Mirror's Never Lie was just as good if not better. It would be amazing to see your name among the winners this time!

    1. I was really happy that I got to enter all of them two! Awww, thank you, Skye. It's been an honor to have you as a beta reader for so many of them!!! <333

  10. Oh wow, I LOVED reading about your journeys with all of your entries, Tracey!
    They are all so unique!! The lessons learned was my favorite section of each.

    I think I learned the same lesson on Rooglewood Five Poisoned Apples you did. I started mine during July Camp NaNo last year and my writing was very fragmented because I was working around my summer work schedule and my draft trainwrecked on me. And then grad school happened and the draft just sat because I couldn't get to it at all. Not a good writing strategy....

    Excellent post, I really enjoyed it!


    1. Thanks so much, Catherine! <3 It's kind of amazing how much there was to learn through these contests. I don't think I realized it until I put all those lessons together in this post!

      Ah, I know how those trainwrecks feels. They're not fun at all, but I hope you were able to salvage something from the wreckage--something you enjoyed and could be proud of! <3

      Thanks again! :D

  11. This is one of my favorite posts of all the ones of yours I've read.

    Thank you for sharing these lessons. AND FOR SHARING THE STORIES.

    The Glass Girl sounds interesting.

    Oooh, gosh, I had almost forgotten about Blood Rose. That was such an INTRIGUING PREMISE.


    Girl. I hope Mirrors Never Lie wins, but either way, THAT SOUNDS SO GOOD.

    I can hardly wait to see where you and your stories go. :) <3

    1. *bear hugs* ARIELLE, THANK YOU. <333

      LOL, The Glass Girl has some major issues, but I still like the premise! So...maybe I'll do something with it one day. ;)

      Right, I remember sending you a little blurb! So glad you like it!

      ALL THE HEARTS IN THE WORLD. <3333333333

      I'm about to burst just waiting for the announcement--you'd think it would get easier or less exciting, but nooo. XD Thank you so much! I sound like a broken record, but seriously!

      I'm so, so honored to have you along for the ride, my dear.

  12. Thanks for sharing your writing journey with us! That's incredible how you have been a part of the Rooglewood contests since the beginning, and how you grew in your writing through them.
    Thanks also for sharing your writing throughout the years! I love the artistic feel of Glass Girl, the Sci-Fi twist to Blood Rose, the fascinating world of Mirrors Never Lie.
    The Brightest Thread was amazing, with realms that were a wonder to explore (even when terrifying), and I eagerly await what will happen next in the story's story.

    1. And thank YOU for reading! It's been amazing to be a part of each one and to see the contest themselves grow--not to mention the growth of everyone who's entered them. ^_^

      Thank you so much, Blue! The great thing about writing novellas (or short stories, I imagine) is that you can play with different genres without having the same commitment as you would with a novel.

      Eeeep, THANK YOU! I'm so grateful to have had your feedback along the way. You're a treasure.

  13. YES! I love this post!

    So much of my journey runs parallel to yours. As Nicki hinted, the similarity in our development (yours, mine, hers) is marvelous and unexpected. It's kind of neat to see.

    I didn't enter Five Glass Slippers, and my Beauty and the Beast story was definitely cringe-worthy. I wrote 3 stories for Sleeping Beauty -- they were still a little cringe-worthy but much better. The third one was starting to flow more smoothly from my fingers than had previous attempts. And this year's tale feels even better to me. So, regardless of whether I win or not, I will still end this year feeling like I've IMPROVED.

    Your story premises are phenomenal, and I love your writing voice. So I look forward to hearing more from you!!!!

    1. Thanks for sparking some of these thoughts, Esther! :D

      Ca-RAY-zy how our three journeys are so similar! I just love how these contests have brought writers together who otherwise would never have met.

      I was always in awe of anyone who managed to submit more than one story! It was a bit of a scramble to get even ONE ready for me most years. XD But that's wonderful you can look back and see such marked improvement. What an encouragement!

      *squeals* THANK YOU! <3333

  14. I loved this post!!! Thank you so much for sharing about the things you learned. I am on the edge of my seat rooting for so many different people to win... I do not envy Anne Elisabeth the job of narrowing it down to just five!

    I only entered Glass Slippers and Enchanted Roses... but I kind of wish I'd written stories for the other two even if I didn't intend to enter them... it'd be nice to have a collection of fairy tale retellings finished... but then, if I'd done that, I wouldn't have had the inspiration I had a few months ago to write a series of fairy-tale retellings all set in the same world, and that would be sad, because these story ideas are shaping up in a way that looks like they will be super fun to write!

    I truly hope to see your name on the cover this year!!!

    1. Thank you, Jenelle!!! I feel like I know (or know of) so many writers who entered this year, which is making the wait even more nerve-wracking for me too! Ay yi yi, I don't envy Anne Elisabeth either. Or any of the judges. Are you going to be at the Facebook party on Saturday?

      Did I know you entered Glass Slippers? *scratches head* If I did, I'd forgotten--but that's so neat! But hey, what's this I hear? A fairy tale series all set in the same world?? FROM OUR VERY OWN JENELLE SCHMIDT? UM, YES PLEASE.

      *hugs* <3333

  15. Ooh, I think I'd probably be too intimidated to try and reimagine a fairytale like that. Good ol' perfectionism.

    But this definitely a series of books I'd like to look into. Hopefully your story will be included with this year's compilation! =)

    1. Retellings aren't without their sticky points, but it's fun to rearrange a ready-made framework into something new! (Kick that perfectionism to the curb, girl! ;))

      The collections were all AMAZING. I found things to love in all three, and I can't wait to get my hands on the fourth one this summer! So definitely check them out if you get the chance. Thank you! Either way, I have a story I'm happy to have written, so I feel like I've won already. :)

  16. Awk, you're giving me all the nostalgia of reading Burning Thorns and Blood Rose back around when I first got to know you well! I love Emi and Will!! ^_^ *huggles story*

    I loved getting these glimpses at your experiences writing for the contests! Thank you so much for sharing! I only entered the Sleeping Beauty one, but I learned a lot from just that one. I can't wait to see who the winners are too! Crossing my own fingers for your own name and other familiar ones on the cover! ;)

    1. Now you're making ME all warm and glowy with fond memories. Crazy how long ago that was! I'm so glad to have gotten to know you better--and over stories, no less. (Books have a magical affect on friendships, methinks.)

      Eeep, thank you! I'm so glad you had a good experience entering Magic Spindles! ^_^ That's so sweet--I'm hoping to see familiar names on there too! There are just so many friends to root for that I need to find a time machine to zap myself to Saturday night. XD

  17. These are some really great lessons! I hope you win! *crosses fingers *

  18. I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH TRACEY. <333 It was so awesome seeing your journey and it's so amazing all of the things you learn, just by continuing to write. ^_^

    I can't wait to see the winners!! It would be so amazing to see some familiar names on the cover. :D Best of luck!!

    1. YOU SWEET PERSON. <3 Oh, that right there is another excellent lesson: we learn about writing BY WRITING. Which seems obvious and has been said before by people more eloquent than I, but it's always a great reminder!

      Me too, and thanks!!! I can't wait to celebrate whoever the winners are. (Are you planning to be at the Facebook party?)

  19. Whew! Wow, this post brought back plenty of memories of you writing all those stories. :O :D

    I think you did a good job in all the fairy tale retellings! (Yes, I haven't read the most recent story yet, but I'm sure it's fabulous! :3)

    By the way, the little snippets of all the retellings was awesome! ^.^

    Good job with the post!!!

    1. LOL, I'm sure it did! I guess I become rather chatty about whatever my work-in-progress is. XD

      Thanks for you vote of confidence, sis! ;) Speaking of which, we should continue TBT sometime.

      Thanks again--so glad you enjoyed it! <333

  20. Amazing post , great job !! keep it up !! i wish you BEST OF LUCK!! i am really excited to read all these. i am new to writing and blogging and i reallyyyy love them but you and other amazing writers make it even more fascinating!!!
    Greetings from Crete

    1. Thank you very much! Five Poisoned Apples is sure to be an amazing collection of stories.

      Thanks for stopping by! And while I'm at it, welcome to the world of writing and blogging too! :)