Monthly Archives: June 2016

Book Blitz: “The Cinderella Theorem”


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Author Interview with Shantelle Mary Hannu



A Dream Not Imagined: A Cinderella Story

By Shantelle Mary Hannu

Synopsis from Amazon:

A Maid, a Prince, and a Duke. A Gardener, a Stepmother, and a secret… 

Ellie Abbington, a beautiful yet unassuming young woman, quietly longs for her life to change. Too privileged to associate with the servants—too underprivileged to associate with her own family; she dreams a dream of a prince and a happily ever after. 
But it could be that her own stepsisters, conniving Dezmarie and easily-influenced Adelaide, are dreaming the same dream…of the same prince. 

But it could be that her own stepsisters, conniving Dezmarie and easily-influenced Adelaide, are dreaming the same dream…of the same prince. 

A Dream Not Imagined is a non-magical fairytale novella based loosely on the classic tale of Cinderella.

About the Author

Shantelle Mary Hannu was born in the mountainous west, spending her golden childhood years there. Since then, she has relocated time and again with her parents and seven siblings, making cherished memories in both the South and Central United States. 

A Christian homeschool graduate, Shantelle has a passion for writing and all things books. From a young age she’s been penning tales with a hope of sharing with the world adventurous and soul-stirring stories that bring glory to God.

A Dream Not Imagined, a fairytale novella, is her first published book. She’s currently preparing a full-length fantasy novel for publication as well, and working on its sequel.

Shantelle blogs at A Writer’s Heart: about her stories, favorite books and movies (with reviews), healthy wheat-free recipes, and hosts fellow authors, among other things. One of her joys is connecting with fellow writers and readers! You can also find her on: 

What gave you the idea for this book?

The story randomly came to me … I wrote it participating in a writing contest.

Why did you choose to write about Cinderella instead of a different fairy tale?

The contest that I wrote A Dream Not Imagined for was specifically a Cinderella retelling writing contest. So after it was announced that we must create retellings of Cinderella, I got to work writing about a maid who lived with her wicked stepmother … the uniqueness and plot came pretty much as I wrote.

What was your favorite chapter or part to write and why?

The blissfully happy parts … the epilogue. I like writing scenes filled with fun and joy. And also concluding a story in a satisfying and beautiful way is always so delightful for me!

Why did you choose the theme of dreams?

Hope is so important. Dreaming big can be good too. I didn’t really plan this theme when I first started writing, but bits and pieces of my life and experiences often find themselves in my stories … so yeah, I started exploring a young woman’s dreams and God’s plans.

What is your favorite retelling of Cinderella (short story, book, or movie) and why?

Oh my … hmm. I think I have to go with the live-action movie, Cinderella {2015}. I love Ella’s sweet spirit. The beautiful dresses. How goodness triumphs over selfishness and bitterness. It’s simply so gorgeous, happy, and satisfying.

Thank you for joining us Shantelle! 

Author Interview with Shonna Slayton


Today, we have an interview with Shonna Slayton, the author of these two lovely Cinderella books!

A brief background on the books:

Cinderella’s dress is not as magical as the stories say. It didn’t disappear at midnight! Instead, Cinderella kept the dress and the shoes and passed them down to her female descendants and gave her best friend and maid the duty of “Keeper of the Dress.” Hundreds of years later, in the 1940s, teenaged Kate inherits this legacy. But the descendants of the evil stepsisters are still around,too, and will stop at nothing to get it back.

And now for the interview with the lovely Shonna!


Interview with Shonna Slayton


It’s good to have you here with us today, Shonna! Why did you choose to write about Cinderella?

Short answer: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was looming and I needed a story!

Longer answer: Cinderella’s Dress is a descendants story, set in the 1940s, and focused on a family heirloom–the dress. I first formed the idea of turning Cinderella’s dress into an heirloom to be passed down through the generations after I saw a picture book of the same name. (The picture book was about the animals making the dress and the book cover shows a young girl sliding down a banister in a modern-looking house.)

Why the 1940s? I also had the notion to write about department store window dressing as a career option newly open to women during WWII. I was surprised it was considered a male occupation until then, so when I read that tidbit in a history of retail stores, it stuck with me.

These seemingly disparate ideas smashed together in my mind to create an image of Cinderella’s dress in a department store window.

Now, how was I going to make that happen? I had the month of November to write 50,000 words as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge to find out.

Wow. Another NaNoWriMo success! And the combining of ideas is pretty cool. I wonder if I’ve read that picture book, because it sounds somewhat familiar… What was your favorite chapter or part of Cinderella’s Dress to write and why?

Uncle Adelbert and Aunt Elsie are my two elderly characters. There is a scene in the second half of the book where they dance together in their living room. It’s a quiet scene, but one of my favorites. When I was imagining it, it made me cry. I know their history, and the sacrifices Adelbert has made for Elsie, and that scene, for me, was a final showing of their lifetime of love. Adelbert is so tender with her.

I remember that scene! It was so beautiful and sweet. Why didn’t you make Cinderella the main character?

There are two levels to this answer!

1-why a descendant story? and 2-why a servant story instead of a princess one?

First, I had read so many great fairy-tale reimaginings, I didn’t see the need to add another basic retelling to the mix. What hadn’t been done yet? At the time, there weren’t any descendants stories for fairy-tale characters (that I know of), so I saw an opening.

Secondly, I toyed with making Kate, the main character, Cinderella’s descendant, but I pushed myself even more to tell another kind of story. In a royalty-based story, there is usually only one princess, but lots of supporting roles. What if a supporting character got a chance to be in the spotlight?

Even though I had started with very different ideas for a Cinderella novel—the 1940s, a family heirloom—I still began writing a lot of Cinderella parallels in the first draft. Then I stopped myself. I took out the sisters and gave Kate a brother. Instead of a stepmother, Kate has both her parents (sort of!—Dad is off to war.) When I saw myself conforming to the mold, I broke it so I would force myself to tell a different story.

You certainly did break away from the mold of Cinderella stories, too. What was the most interesting thing you learned while researching the books?

I loved researching the 1940s. The books take place mostly after WWII has ended, turning the focus more onto the home front and the aftermath of war.

It was fascinating to find out when our “modern day” items were invented—like hairspray (attempts for a better bug spray during the war led to technology after the war being applied to hair products!)

And when I dove into the research for life in Europe after WWII, for the SHOES book, there was so much that I had never thought of before. The day after peace is declared is so much like the day before—bombed streets, food shortages, anger, and frustration. It takes a while for nations, for people to figure out their new normal and try to make sense of what just happened. So much of what I learned never made it into the books because I wasn’t going for a dark tone. In SHOES, the character Lidka might seem a little rough around the edges, because she was how I dealt with all the horrible things I read about. She has a dark past and is working her way back.

Hair spray comes from bug spray!?! Weird. And, Lidka was a memorable character. You did a good job portraying her and the post-WW2 world, as well. What parts of the retelling do you think are better or worse than the classic Cinderella fairy tale because of the lack of magic?

Interesting question! When I was first drafting the book I toyed with not having any magic at all. To make the reader feel like the Cinderella story was actually a part of history, and that over time the story had become a legend that included a fairy godmother with magical abilities.

In the classic Cinderella tales, there is, actually, very little magic. Cinderella is going along, living her ordinary life, but when she needs help, (one version) her fairy godmother enters and gifts her with the means to go to the ball, or (another version) the tree under which her mother is buried gifts her on three separate nights with the clothes and shoes to wear to the ball. That’s it for magical intervention. Oh—and the birds help her pick out lentils from rocks—magic?

At some point in the writing I realized I much preferred to have a little bit of the fantastical in my story. So the dress, having survived all these generations—despite the rumors it disappeared at midnight—has some special qualities to it. There is a reason it has survived this long. However, DRESS is definitely more history than fantasy. The sequel SHOES has more fairy-tale fantasy mixed in with the history as I pull on more threads from the original tale to wrap up the story.

Good point – there wasn’t as much magic in the original Cinderella stories as there is in the more modern retellings. What is your favorite retelling of Cinderella (short story, book, or movie) and why?

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is the book that introduced me to fairy-tale retellings so it will forever be a favorite. The opening paragraph is genius.

I adored Ella Enchanted as well! It’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read and, yes, that opening paragraph is genius. 

That’s all for the interview! What did you think? Isn’t the idea descendants from the Cinderella story pretty cool?

Fun Fact About ‘Ella Enchanted’


607014Have you ever read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine or seen the movie Ella Enchanted (2004)?

It’s the story of a girl who is “blessed” at birth to do everything anyone tells her or else she becomes physically ill. As you might guess, it caused her some problems, such as when her stepsister found out and used it to order her to do horrible things. So, Ella set out on a quest to find her fairy godmother, Lucinda, and convince her to rescind the so-called “blessing.”

If you only watched the movie, you may or may not have picked up on the fact that Ella Enchanted is a retelling of “Cinderella.” The movie had only a fraction of the indications that it is a retelling than the book did.

One of the clearest indicators are the names: “Ella” for “Cinderella” and “Char” for (Prince) “Charming.” But did you know that there is another name in the story that comes from the story?

Here is our fun fact: Ella’s fairy godmother’s name also comes from the name “Cinderella.” The word “Cinderella” can be broken into two parts: “Cinder” and “Ella.” “Cinder” is a variation of “Cindy,” and “Cindy” is short for “Lucinda,” the name of the fairy godmother. p33298_p_v8_ad

It makes a person wonder. Why did Levine name the fairy godmother “Lucinda”? Is it so that the three main characters of the story – Cinderella, the prince, and the fairy godmother – all had names from the original tale? Is there some hidden meaning in it that maybe the fairy godmother was a little Cinderella-ish herself, which is hard to believe? Is it because Lucinda in Ella Enchanted is the reason Ella was forced to work like a slave, earning the nickname “Cinderella” in all the stories? Or is there no real reason behind it other than fun and I’m over-analyzing things?

Tell me what you think in the comments!


6 Cinderella Retellings with the Stepmother and Stepsisters as Protagonists


We have all heard the story of Cinderella, with her ugly stepsisters, glass slipper, and happily-ever-after with the prince. There are dozens of book and movie retellings as well as fantastic artwork, costumes, and fun merchandise.

But what if we have had the story wrong from the beginning? What if the stepmother and/or stepsisters weren’t as bad as the stories say?

These six authors have decided to explore the idea in their works:

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gegory Magurie

With almost 50,000 ratings and 3,000 reviews on Goodreads, this book has been pretty popular since its publication in 2000. Set in seventeenth century Holland, this story presents stepsisters as sisters, with all the joys and arguments of a sibling relationship.

Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

This one is a story of a stepsister in contemporary times. “Cinderella” is the pretty, popular girl in school who is dating her stepsister’s crush. But this stepsister isn’t going to wait for a fairy godmother to help – she will change her own life!

Ugly Stepsister

The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

This book is the most recently released of these six novels, dating from June 12, 2015, not even a year ago. This stepsister is magically transported into the world of Cinderella after ripping an old picture book. Only problem is, she’s the ugly stepsister, not Cinderella!

Stepsister's Tale

The Stepsister’s Tale by Tracy Barrett

The Cinderella in this tale is beautiful but spoiled. It’s the stepmother oldest stepsister who is desperately trying to keep her fiscally unstable family from crumbling, especially when Cinderella’s father dies. But an invitation to a ball could change all that…

what eyes can see

“What Eyes Can See” (Five Glass Slippers Collection) by Elisabeth Brown

“What Eyes Can See” is one of five Cinderella novellas in the anthology. This Cinderella is stunning by desperately shy. And, she likes cleaning. The stepsister falls for the prince, and the prince for Cinderella, but she will have none of it.

Stepmother's Story

A Stepmother Story: The TRUE Tale of Cinderella by R.M. ArceJaeger

The stepmother is the hero of this twenty-paged story. What if she was the one that owned the dress and the shoes?

Readers, have you ever read of any of these Cinderella retellings? Do you know of any other retellings with the stepmother or stepsisters as heroes?