Monday, January 27, 2014

A Beastly Beauty

It started with the college assignment of creating a Narrative Rhyme (a play for young actors). Once I developed a workable angle, Beauty and the Beast was the clear choice.  

Here was the nugget that came to me all those years ago: What if Beauty was a jerk? 

A major flaw of traditional fairytales is the one-dementionality of their characters. Consider a typical fairytale princess.  No matter which evil-stepmother is persecuting her or which handsome prince saves her in the end, she has one thing in common with all her sisters: she is unfailingly good. It doesn't seem to matter what type of abuse the world shells out, our beloved heroine (Snow White, Beauty, Cinderella, etc.) simple lays down and takes it (i.e. sleeps for one hundred years, dutifully returns to cleaning ashes out of the hearth, and/or willingly cooks and cleans for seven tiny men.)

Side note: feminism was definitely not a thing in fairyland.

The purpose of these tales was to instruct children on correct behavior.  The moral of our princess' tale? Good always wins. Against all odds, the self-sacrificing scullery maid wins the prince's heart, the cursed maiden is awakened by loves first kiss...blah, blah, blah. And one more. Blah.

You get the picture.

Admittedly, back in the day, if you were evil enough you probably would contract syphilis and die. Side note: unlike feminism, syphilis was a thing back then. We've all known individuals who, while living the worst sort of lives, make more money and gain more public acclaim than say, the average kindergarten teacher.  The real world isn't black and white. We walk in shades of gray, struggling to keep our footing as we pass through layers of shadow in search of light.

Perhaps that's why the idea of a beastly Beauty stayed with me long after I turned in the assignment. The very notion gave me that delicious feeling of having desecrated something that has been around for far too long. Like smashing a particularly ugly heirloom. Don't you love those crashing noises?

Ten years and several versions later, Bella--the possessor of a grand panorama of human foibles--is coming to light in Becoming Beauty.  I hope you'll love her.  She's created out of all the best and worst parts of me.  Because, after all, every girl wants to be a princess, even if the princess happens to be a little crotchety.
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Thanks for stopping in! Feel free to grab your complementary tiara on the way out and leave me a comment about your favorite types of heroines!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fairytales & Fancy Footwear

Regardless of my neanderthal-esque upbringing (i.e. five crazy brothers who liberally tossed about the phrase “I'll give you something to cry about,” a handyman dad who firmly believed in the merits of electrical tape and chainsaws, and a self-proclaimed tomboy mom who preferred the great outdoors to housekeeping), I am undeniably girly.

I'm the girl who hosts pampering parties, paints itty bitty toddler nails, and houses a burgeoning collection of high-heeled shoes I will never be able to wear to work. (Seriously, they have an average wearability of three hours. Like I'm going to teach kindergarten in those puppies. But they're just so pretty!)

I'm still not sure how it happened, but one day I went from chunky orthopedic footwear to peep-toes, sling-backs, and kitten heels. Somehow, I had learned the truth:

Shoes Are Magical.

And not just in fairytales.  Shoes fit when your cute pants are too snug and your fat pants with their elastic waists beacon from the nether-reaches of the closet. Shoes make your legs, behind, and too small/too big feet look sexy.  Even on the worst of very bad hair days (think cockatoo or Dudley Moore), a snug pair of Spanx and a cute pair of pumps can change your outlook on life.

Maybe that's why shoes are featured in fairytales like Cinderella. Where would Cindy be without the fairy godmother's final gift, the exquisite glass slippers? (I'll tell you where, stuck in the kitchen fetching meals for her ugly stepsisters by day and weeping into the cinders by night.)  One pair of shoes turned a "mentally abused shut in" into a princess.

As Cindy's fairy godmother understood, there is power in a good pair of shoes and a well-chosen outfit. Bella, the heroine of Becoming Beauty, shares this philosophy. However, what's a girl to do when the entire countryside is smitten with her elder sister? (It doesn't seem to matter that Cassie is uninterested in any of the gentlemen bent on wooing her.)

Thoroughly frustrated with the situation, Bella turns to what she knows best: pretty dresses, delicate dancing slippers, and expensive adornments. After wheedling the best that money can buy out of her father, Bella holds her head high at every social gathering and flirts shamelessly with the less-than-exuberant second sons and backward country gentry who figure they've got no chance with her sister anyway.

Night after night of being rebuffed would wear on any girl, especially someone as strong-willed as Bella. She could never guess that her determination and good taste will aid her in changing the life of one who has lived in darkness and shadow for far too long, and win her the love of her life.

I'm a firm believer in happy endings, so here's my advice to girls everywhere:

Thanks for dropping by, friends. Keep those adorable accessories in place and feel free to leave me a comment to tell me what makes you feel like the Queen of the World. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Rose & Jewel

And then the heavens decreed, There shall be but one Boucher daughter. Accordingly, my mother had five sons.  And me. 
With five brothers, my girlhood wasn't exactly lonely.  But I longed for a sister.  I didn't want someone to steal my clothes or leave long, creepy, strands of hair in the sink. (That still creeps me out.) What I wished for was someone who would keep me up at night talking about boys, giggling about nothing, and sharing girly secrets.  More than anything, I wanted someone with whom I could share that sisterly bond that draws girls together.

Over the years, my life has been enriched by sister friends and sweet sister-in-laws. Lovingly, they filled the void I felt in my childhood.  Perhaps that lifelong struggle for connection inspired the theme in Becoming Beauty in the first place.  Having no sisters of my own, I enjoyed exploring the ins and outs of a sister relationship through the creation of Becoming Beauty.
Introducing the dynamic sister team, Bella and Cassie:

With a single-minded focus on her own ambitions, Bella differs greatly from her elder sister Cassie who spends all her time thinking of others and working for their benefit.  Bella takes Cassie's kindness for granted until a certain jewel--the relict of a mysterious woman from the past--comes into her possession. Bella discovers that the previous owner, a woman named Rose, lost everything in pursuit of her dreams. When Bella too suffers great loss, she begins to appreciate Cassie and all that she sacrificed for Bella's family. Only then, does Bella develop an understanding of the true meaning of beauty.

In earlier versions of Becoming Beauty, the relationships between Bella, Cassie and Rose were less emphasized.  Feedback from my readers revealed how much more rich the storyline would be if I brought forward the connections between the female characters. Incidentally, Bella became much more relatable when I expanded Cassie's role in the story.

So my dears, learn from me and look for truly meaningful themes to explore in your writing. Also, notice the positive influence other's have had in your life and find a way to pass it on. A hug, a kiss, an amazing gift (chocolate is always appreciated in my world). Carry on, my dears!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved stories.  (Perhaps having a daddy who knew how to work an audience and regularly read to his children had something to do with that.)  Books were her best friends.  They provided a place where the hand-me-down clothes she wore and the home haircuts didn't matter.  They opened doors to magical worlds she could never imagine having the money to visit. 

And let's not forget the Romance. 

To a little girl who was hardly looked at twice by boys, the idea of devoted swains falling at her feet and flirting school chums was titillating, to say the least. Beyond anything, she longed to be Ann-with-an-E and snub a devoted Gilbert, or Beauty transforming the Beast back into a handsome prince. 

Over the years, all that romance, joy, and friendship claimed a chunk of her soul.  Unable to resist the call, she picked up her pencil and played at creating her own fairystories (for fairytales had always captivated her).  And after years of playing the part of a "closet writer," she decided to own the fact that she was fully addicted to storytelling and her own personal brand of wit and sunshine was worth sharing with the rest of humanity.

Hi, I'm Sarah, and you've probably guessed this already, but this is my story. 

Welcome to my site.  Please, make yourself at home and stay as long as you'd like.  My greatest desire is to pass along a little corner of what it's taken me years to find: a place of happiness, humor, and acceptance.  I hope you come back often! I'll keep the fun, laughter, and fabulous deals coming your way!