Award-winning author
Unusual times, remarkable places

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

25 March 2015

Cinderella grows up

Today I welcome romance author Ines Johnson to the blog. She has provided a thought-provoking guest post on the Cinderella trope in recent movies and fiction.


Girl on Her Own Horse

Have you been paying attention to the evolution of the Cinderella story? If you’ve watched the Disney blockbuster Frozen, then you have. Young girls and women are no longer waiting around for a man to come by on his horse, sweep them off their feet, and give them shoes.

Okay, I doubt any of us would turn down the shoes!
 Courtesy Glamhag, CC BY-SA 2.0 license

My point is that women are now taking the reins of their own stories and rejecting the Cinderella trope of changing themselves into someone new. In many, dare I say most, of these stories, the prince doesn’t pay attention to the Cinderella character in her ordinary world of working 9–5 pm with grime under her nails and threadbare clothes. He doesn’t look her way until she gets magicked into expertly applied makeup, a binding, shape-shifting corset, and brand-new shoes.

My first notice of this twist on the trope was in the film Working Girl. This 1980’s retelling of the Cinderella story featured a bright secretary who had dreams of entering the boardroom with a briefcase instead of coffee. After her wicked boss steals her idea, the secretary seizes an opportunity to steal into a high-profile business meeting by pretending that she’s her boss, while also wearing her boss’s dress and shoes. Melanie Griffith, as the secretary, uses Harrison Ford’s charming character to get her into the board room’s door. When the business deal goes south, Griffith doesn’t wait for the knight in a business suit to rescue her. Instead, she shows off her “head for business and bod for sin” in order to win a business deal, thwart her boss, and get her man.

Sander van der Wel,  CC BY-SA 2.0
A decade later, Drew Barrymore retold the Cinderella story in Ever After. In a pivotal scene in which Barrymore’s character, Danielle, has been taken prisoner by the evil Pierre Le Pieu, the audience holds its breath as the prince leaps onto his horse and heads off to rescue her. But Danielle picks up not one, but two swords and swashbuckles her way to an escape. As she’s walking out of the castle a free woman, the prince arrives moments too late with her shoe in hand.

Nearly another decade later came another retelling with Penelope. Penelope is an heiress born under a curse that can only be broken in the face of true love. The problem? Penelope’s face doesn’t inspire sonnets and poems as much as it does a hankering for breakfast meats. Penelope’s snout nose has caused her to be rejected her whole life, including rejection from her own mother. When she finally finds a man willing to tolerate her looks and break the curse, she comes to the realization that she likes herself just the way she is. And just like that, the curse is broken and Penelope’s outside matches her glowing inside.

In today’s stories, women don’t wait around for men on horses. They take the reins, defend themselves, and declare love to their own reflections. They’re now even qualified to deliver true love’s kiss to their own sisters as we saw in the blockbuster Frozen.

In my fairytale retelling Pumpkin: A Cindermama Story, my heroine has given up on fairytale love. Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. 

Town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne has been searching for his soulmate all his life, whom he’ll recognize at first sight by a golden aura that only he can see surrounding her person. Manny doesn’t see gold when he meets Pumpkin, but the more he gets to know her, the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.


Ines Johnson writes erotic, paranormal, and fairytale romance novels. You can find her Website at Her newest book, Pumpkin: A Cindermama Story, is available in Kindle format at Amazon here.

24 March 2015

The natural world deserves to be in your books and stories

The modern industrialized United States has demonized dirt and bugs and everything else in our world that works together to create a balanced harmony in nature. I get snail mail and email several times a week from organizations telling me about states not only allowing but encouraging people to kill wolves, which play important roles in their ecosystems.

"Odin's Self-Sacrifice," W.G. Collingwood (1854–1932)
One can see the disconnect between people and nature in the many novels that either ignore the outdoors or uses it generically as a setting. I've been guilty of it myself . . . although I'm going to be more aware in the future to do my part to wake people up to the beauty that surrounds us and the importance of saving species, even toads that hold up highway construction.

Yesterday, I did a guest blog post at the Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal Chapter of the Romance Writers of America's blog. I talked about the close relationship between trees and hominids, focusing on beliefs and myths about trees that are found around the world. (One of those myths is the "world tree," known in Norse mythology as Yggdrasil.) You can check it out at

Do you agree that the natural world should be a crucial element of world building? Do you notice when authors use the indoor world in their stories but not the outdoor world? If you are an author, do you remember to include the natural world?

23 March 2015

This 'n' that

1. Those of you who've been waiting for my posts on chronic illness may have noticed they have not been appearing. Ironically, I have been too sick the past year and a half to write much ... except in my head, which has been planning those blog posts along with three new novels and another project. I'll be having two or three surgeries this spring and should feel much better afterward. So stay tuned for those posts, which people without chronic illness should find interesting as well.

2. Wednesday (25 March), Ines Johnson will be visiting my blog with a post on the recent evolution of the Cinderella story. I rarely go to movies, so I was fascinated by Ines's discussion of how the Cinderella trope in movies has changed.

3. I'll be signing Claimed by the Enemy on Sunday (29 March) in Brea, California, in a book signing with 70 other people. Most authors write romances, but there will also be authors of mysteries, historicals, erotica, and who knows what else.

Even if you already have my book, please stop by my table to say "hi" and pick up bookmarks (for Like Mayflies in a Stream, Claimed by the Enemy, and my August 2015 release, Ice Magic, Fire Magic) and a Ghirardelli chocolate square.