Book Recommendations · Dyslexia · My Books

Disability Inclusive Fantasy Romance Recommendations

“Why highlight disabilities?

It normalizes disability.

It provides a window into life with a disability.

It raises awareness and understanding.

It increases accurate disability representation.

It allows us to see a new perspective.”

~Mary Mecham

As someone who struggles with dyslexia, anytime I find a character who also struggles with dyslexia I feel seen, even when the author gets things wrong.

I get it. A lot of people think dyslexia has to do with your eyes or vision (it doesn’t–I love that dictionary.com explicitly states that it does not have to do with intelligence or vision). Yes I get a little bit annoyed that this false hood persists but I really appreciate that the author tried! (For those of you wondering it has to do with the way the language center of the brain processes information.)

However to avoid spreading false information I feel it is imperative for authors to do their research especially if they don’t have experience with the specific disability they are portraying. We want to do all of those things in the quote above, normalize it, raise awareness, increase representation and provide a new prospective.

When I first began writing The Wolf’s Golden Deception, I did not set out with the intention to write a book about someone with a disability, however as I dug into the myth and did some more research I realized that losing a limb would be perfect for my story. Except I was hesitant at first. What did I know about such things? I don’t have a close relationship with anyone who has had a similar experience.

So I did what I always do when searching out information, I turned to the all-knowing internet. However I didn’t want generalized medical information about it, I wanted real personal accounts. I watched people on You-Tube share their stories and read numerous personal accounts, both for those who had experienced snake bites and for those who had lost a limb. I was touched by all of their stories and grateful for the opportunity to learn more as I did my best to portray what it might have been like for my character Mira.

For more information about dyslexia feel free to visit these sites: Dyslexia–Symptoms and Causes, 10 Symptoms of Dyslexia, What is Dyslexia?

Sweet & Swoony Retellings

Inclusive fairytales I’ve read and enjoyed!

The Wolf’s Golden Deception by Alesha Adamson

Stolen magic. Broken trust. Can love save Rafe and Mira from being consumed by the Wolf’s deception? Or is it already too late?

For months, Lord Rafe has been ensnared in a deception that he wishes he’d never fallen for. But what else could he do to protect his family? What started out as something seemingly harmless became achingly complex when he fell in love with Princess Mira. Refusing to see her hurt by his poor choices, he made the painful decision to stay away from her.

Mira still doesn’t understand why the man she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with vanished after the end of the midnight balls. When he finally returns contrite and ready to court her, she wants to forgive him and regain what they once had. But Rafe is accused of a shocking crime and banished just as a tragedy strikes that changes Mira’s life forever. Now they must meet cloaked in secret if they wish to be together.

Can they solve the mystery of the Wolf before time runs out, or will their secrets and their forbidden love be exposed, making things more precarious than ever?

*Representation: Main character loses a limb.

Poisoned: Snow White’s Story by Mary Mecham

A poisoned apple and true love’s first kiss were only the beginning to Snow White’s story…

After a handsome prince swoops in to save the day, Snow can’t help but feel like something is still missing in her life. She begins to wonder if “happily ever after” really exists, because what she is experiencing certainly isn’t the idyllic life she imaged a princess would have. With each passing day, Snow feels an increasing desire to escape the pressures of the castle and return to the brothers who live in the cottage in the woods.

Snow adores the youngest of the brothers, who cannot speak and has an inexplicable, infectious joy about him. Oliver’s grouchy caregiver doesn’t want anyone to get close to their family, and continually rebuffs Snow’s kindness. Snow can only hope that the unlikely friendship of these two brothers will be the key to unlocking her heart and happiness.

*Representation: Prominent character has an intellectual disability.

Becoming Hook by Mary Mecham

A pirate, a pixie, and a plot to foil Peter Pan…

James Hook never meant to become a pirate, and never dreamed that he would turn against best friend, Peter Pan. Every adventure and eternal youth awaited them… until a pixie exposes a shocking revelation. Tinkerbell’s information forces James into acknowledging that, far from being the benevolent hero he painted himself to be, Peter Pan was kidnapping innocent children.

After accepting the traumatic loss of his hand and of the family he can barely remember, James deserts Pan. In the fight to rescue the Lost Boys, Hook will risk everything, even if that means becoming the most notorious villain in Neverland… or losing the fiery pixie who is stealing his heart.

Can the original Lost Boy vanquish Neverland’s greatest threat?

*Representation: Main character loses a limb.

Turret by Camille Peters

Princess Gemma has been trapped for years within a magical turret, a fate she deems fitting for a sickly princess with little purpose. The enchanted walls offer security, which she’d do anything to maintain, for though she knows she should want to escape, her prison seems far safer than the outside world. But the magic of the tower has begun to fade, bringing with it not only unpredictable dangers but the very real possibility that soon Gemma will be forced to leave the prison she’s grown to trust.

The tower’s shifting magic isn’t the only thing changing, for the longer Gemma spends with her faithful guard, Quinn, the more she realizes that her feelings for him are inappropriate for one of her royal status. But the deeper her feelings for her guard grow, the more Gemma yearns not only to escape the tower in order to see more of the world beyond, but to break through the walls she’s built around herself.

But even if she finds the courage to fight for the life she wants—one filled with possibilities far more beautiful than she’s ever allowed herself to imagine—there’s one final obstacle for her to overcome…for she’s not the only one who has created walls. Though she’s striving to lower hers in order to allow her guard in, Quinn is determined to protect her from his devastating secret by keeping her out.

*Representation: Main character struggles with chronic illness. Another main character begins to go blind.

Beacon by Camille Peters

As the daughter of a lighthouse keeper, Marisa spends her days exploring the different locations the enchanted lighthouse takes her to—as well as developing her magical ability to manipulate water. But when her magic inadvertently causes a tragic accident, she chooses to pay penance by giving up both her voice and her magic.

For years, Marisa is content with her self-imposed silence…until the day she saves Prince Owen from drowning. What begins as a noble rescue soon entangles her in a fake engagement…one whose promised reward might not be worth the risk should Prince Owen’s intended discover their deception.

Marisa makes every attempt to protect her heart during their façade, but the endearing prince makes it increasingly more difficult to remember it’s nothing but a ruse. The closer they become, the less of a charade their relationship feels, and the more Marisa misses the words that are no longer hers, yearning to finally free herself from her guilt and reclaim her voice.

*Representation: Main character experiences a traumatic event and stops speaking.

The Sorcerer and the Swan Princess by Lucy Tempest

A usurped princess. A mercenary sorcerer. A fate neither expected.

As a crown princess, Ava has always anticipated betrayals—but never from her own twin. The unspeakable treachery comes the night Ava meets her true love, when Lina hires the infamous sorcerer, Lord Von Rothbart, to turn Ava into a swan, and takes her place.

Kept across the mountains in Dietrich’s castle lake, Ava’s repeated attempts to escape, to return to her prince and life, keep failing. But in the last time Dietrich recaptures her, she gets close enough to glimpse the terrible truth of what she left behind—starting with that of her prince.

Yet, it’s Dietrich’s true motivations and the unique bond that forms between them that shock her the most.

Will she reject their burgeoning feelings and trust to undo his efforts and reclaim her kingdom? Will he risk the consequences of freeing her from his curse? Will their love survive the demands of duty, and the toll of resentment and threats? Or will it fade away with the moonlight at sunrise?

*Representation: Main character’s foot was injured and never healed properly

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

*Representation: Main character has cerebral palsy

More Inclusive Fairytales TBR:

A Curse of Gold and Beauty by Mary Mecham

What if Rumpelstiltskin and the miller’s daughter fell for each other?

Meg is cursed, bewitched with breath taking beauty at the cost of absolute obedience to her father. Rhys, her best friend, is also cursed. He is able to spin straw into gold, but each pump of the treadle exacts a terrible price. Two souls were never so perfect for each other, but fate seems determined to pull them apart.

When the King holds Meg hostage and demands gold, she must decide… Is she willing to let Rhys suffer if it saves her own life or will she accept the King’s punishment and let Rhys go free?

*Representation: Main character has rheumatoid arthritis.

Use this link to download the e-book for free!

The Moonflower Dance by Lea Doue

A beastly curse. A dangerous secret. A princess with a plan.

Princess Neylan is fed up with meddling sorcerers. With more knowledge about the dangers of sorcery than any of her eleven sisters, book-loving Neylan never imagined she would lose her heart to a man who’d been cursed, much less one she’d never met. Won over after months of correspondence, she joins Master Healer Keir in a distant kingdom, confident her presence will be the cure. But when her attempt to break his beastly curse fails, she turns to an unforeseen ally who offers a solution that will grant her the knowledge she seeks … or else destroy all chances of happiness forever.

*Representation: Side character is paralyzed.

The Wilting Captive by Abigail Manning

A duchess, a beast, and a castle full of hungry hostages…

Duchess Mirabel Brantley has spent nearly all her life being sheltered due to her fragile health. With no hope of ever living the life of adventure she dreamed of, Mira agrees to an arranged marriage with the neighboring duke of Dhurin. Their betrothal celebration might have been pleasant if they didn’t already despise each other, but it also might have helped if the entire party wasn’t taken hostage…

The ex-prince Conan has been left beaten and scarred after his partnership with the criminal group, the beasts. With a hunger for vengeance against the Ruby Realm and a never-ending craving for power, Conan seizes the entire Dhurin castle with the help of an enchanted gift. His terms are simple; hand over Dhurin, and the hostages live. Refuse and… well, the guests will learn why he was favored by the beasts.

Mira is a prisoner at her own party, but they might not be in as much trouble as they thought when a lone caster offers up her powers as protection. With the ability to cast her magic into living plants, the caster selects a simple rose to contain her gift. With only the dwindling lifespan of a rose keeping the hostages from being torn apart, it’s only a matter of time before matters get grim. Can Mira convince their captor to set them free before their time runs out? Or will they simply wilt with their rose?

*Representation: Main character deals with celiac disease.

Maiden of the Sea by Sarah Beran

It all started one dark and stormy night…

After a foolhardy rescue attempt in the middle of a raging storm, Ariel found herself crippled and robbed of the one thing she had always taken for granted–her legs. As an initiate to the Daughters of the Creator, she strove to find meaning and purpose in her life through service to others, and tried to convince herself that saving the life of the Earl of Ashland’s young son was worth the price of her legs. But despite all that, in her deepest parts she still dreams of the day she will be able to dance again. Twelve years later, a meeting with the mysterious (and probably completely untrustworthy) Captain Lesard leaves with her greatest wish fulfilled: he can restore her legs to her for three days if she agrees to help him find the treasure hidden in Davy Jones’ locker–but the cost is her voice.

Davy Jones, heir to the Earl of Ashland, has been on the trail of Captain Pierre Lesard for almost a year, ever since he discovered the nefarious pirate had been the one keeping his cousin Pan captive. Lesard has evaded capture twice, but the newest trail leads Davy and his friend John Childs to the island country of Maregar. Davy remembers well the site of his near death, and the voice of the girl who rescued him still haunts his dreams at night. With Lesard as his excuse, he can finally return and express the proper gratitude to the girl who saved him all those years ago.

When their paths collide, Ariel and Davy race against Lesard to find the locker and the treasure he believes is hidden inside. As her time slips away, Ariel is forced to make a choice: Will she take Lesard’s offer and have her legs restored permanently? Or can she give up the dream she has been holding onto for years in order to once again save Davy’s life?

*Representation: Main character suffers a severe leg injury.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

*Representation: Main character has a limb difference.

The Theft of Sunlight by Instisar Khanani

I did not choose this fate. But I will not walk away from it.

Children have been disappearing from across Menaiya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. When her friend’s sister is snatched, Rae knows she can’t look away any longer—even if that means seeking answers from the royal court, where her country upbringing and clubfoot will only invite ridicule.

Yet the court holds its share of surprises. There she discovers an ally in the foreign princess, who recruits her as an attendant. Armed with the princess’s support, Rae seeks answers in the dark city streets, finding unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges street thief with secrets of his own. 

But treachery runs deep, and the more Rae uncovers, the more she endangers the kingdom itself.

*Representation: Main character has a clubfoot.

The Scarred Prince by Erika Everest

A bitter and reclusive prince. A determined intruder. An unlikely friendship.

His face scarred from a witch’s curse, Prince Sebastian retreats inside his castle, resentful and angry. He shuns contact with everyone except the Red Hoods, the elite soldiers he trains and leads.

Four years ago, Sienna was kidnapped. Still traumatized by her ordeal, she needs to learn to protect herself to feel safe again, and she wants the Prince to train her.

Reluctantly, Sebastian agrees.

But long-held beliefs aren’t so easy to cast aside. Can the bitter soldier and the haunted girl overcome their demons? Or will their pasts rip them apart?

*Representation: Main character has severe burn scars.

The Golden Ball by Erika Everest

A disguised princess. A friend in need. A desperate plan.
And one entitled prince standing in their way. 

To save her friend, Princess Natashya travels across the continent and goes undercover as a servant, Asha. But the enchanted golden ball that could help them is in the possession of the Prince, and his price for relinquishing it is the one thing Asha doesn’t have… time.

As the Midsummer Ball approaches, so does the deadline. Natashya’s involvement is risking her own Kingdom, but is she risking her heart as well?

*Representation: Main character has autism.

The Princess Vow by Erika Everest

Princess Aurora is not going to wait for a prince to rescue her.

Trapped in an enchanted sleep, Aurora uses her magical link to twelve other princesses to find out how to break the spell. But she also has to contend with the mysterious man who visits her in her sleep. Is he her protector as he claims, or is he her jailer?

Meanwhile, Aurora’s sister Rosebud and their friend Sienna are on a quest to find her. The three must work together to uncover the secrets of the past if they want to have a future. They made a blood vow to each other, and they are going to fulfil it: No princess left behind.

No matter what it takes.

*Representation: Main character deals with depression.

Pirouette by Kenely Davidson

It was just a dance. But in Caelan, dancing changes everything.
Especially if you’re a princess.


Princess Ilani is cursed. She can no longer dance, and is therefore considered worthless. Forgotten. Invisible.
Until her twelve sisters are trapped in a deadly game with a breathtaking prize—a royal bride and an empire for the taking, if a man is willing to risk everything for a chance to win.

Only Ilani can see the sinister forces at work behind the scenes and the danger lurking beneath the smiles of the court. But who will listen to a cursed princess? No one, that’s who. No one except a strangely compelling foreigner, whose motives remain shrouded in secrecy and mistrust.

As darkness gathers and deadly plans come to light, a fierce princess and a dangerously charming spy may be the only ones who can save both their kingdoms from the malice and magic of a treacherous adversary.

*Representation: Main character’s legs were broken and never healed properly.

The Cursed Prince by Aya Ling

Can a disabled mage save a prince from a terrible fate?

When she was fourteen, Gabi promised she’d do anything to protect Prince Alrik of Arksar. Including falling in love with him, in case true love’s kiss is needed to break the curse. But six years later, Alrik hasn’t expressed interest in any woman. He is content to flirt, but never showed a strong attachment for anyone. And now the witch who cursed him has returned after years in exile…

Time is also running out in Savony, where trolls have broken out from underground, terrorizing the castle. More help is needed to defeat the trolls, but with half the mages tasked to protect Alrik, how will Alix, Sybil, and the princes band together and save their kingdom from an unprecedented crisis?

*Representation: Main character has a foot injury.

Fairest Son by H.S.J. Williams

The Fair and Foul courts of the fey folk have long yearned for one to bring them together in peace, but hopes are dashed when the fairest prince and the prophecy concerning him are laid to ruin. Burdened with shame and sorrow, the prince flees to the cold mountains far above the forests and lochs with nothing but animals and goblins for company.

When a human huntress stumbles upon him in her search for a legendary predator, their fates are intertwined. But she hides deadly secrets, and if he dares to trust her, he may risk the doom of both courts to an ancient evil…

*Representation: Main character is blind.

Sweet & Swoony Fantasy Romance

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Inclusive Fantasy Romances TBR:

The King’s Captive by K.M. Shea

I can turn into a housecat.

It’s a fun magic, except in a world filled with vampires and werewolves, it doesn’t exactly make me a powerhouse. Instead, the supernatural community has classified me as an outcast, which means one thing: picking on me is open season all day, every day.

The local fae are the worst of all, and it’s during one of their regular “capture the cat-girl” sessions that I shift into my cat form and meet HIM for the first time.

Noctus is so powerful his magic radiates off him like a sun, and my fae captors can barely look in his general direction. And then my life gets even more terrifying when Noctus decides to take me with him. As a pet.

Why did he pick today to “adopt don’t shop” a cat?

It gets worse when I realize he’s an elf, a ruling race of supernaturals that was supposedly killed off centuries ago.

But he’s not just any elf, no. He’s an elven king, with heaps of secrets to protect. Secrets that I am quickly learning since he includes his new pet in everything from breaking into buildings to inspect classified paperwork to tracking down sketchy supernaturals.

All this means if he gets even a hint that I’m not a real cat, I’m going to find out firsthand how elves treat their prisoners.

So, escaping Noctus is priority #1. How hard can it be? (Answer: very.)

*Representation: Main character has anxiety and side character is blind.

Grace by Contract by Rachel Rossano

After her father uproots the family to the northern duchy of Brackenhurst, Grace Eldon and her four younger sisters struggle with a new life of hardship. Desperate to keep a roof over their heads amid mounting debts, she and her youngest sister seek employment in the Duke of Brackenhurst’s household despite fearsome rumors.

Scarred and maimed from a terrible fire Silas Isling, Duke of Brackenhurst, buries himself in his work to avoid the stares of pity and fear. When one of the new maids shows no fear at his appearance, he is intrigued. That is until his meddling steward gives her the task of cleaning Silas’ bookroom. It is a most unwelcome disruption since he prefers to be alone.

While a thief plagues his castle, an old nemesis reappears, and enemies invade in the guise of guests. Amidst the distractions and chaos, Grace brings some unexpected order. Once convinced his scars had stolen all hope for love, Silas finds his life forever changed by the quiet maid. Could she love a scarred Duke?

*Representation: Main Character struggles with vision problems, chronic illness and has a limb difference.

Dragon’s Fire by Kimberly Rogers

They survived one curse, breaking another could burn them.

Thalassa and Alina spent one hundred years dancing for a golden dragon. With their elder sister and her huntsman venturing north, they are left to figure out a new place in life. One that might not involve dragons. However, when the dragons are attacked by a shadowy cabal, the sisters choose to join a quest to root out the organization before it can bring war back to the Five Kingdoms.

Lore spent over a century alone save for his human companions, the huntsman and three sisters. A healer and curse breaker, he closed away his emotions after unimaginable loss until one of the sisters dared challenge his rule of detachment. Something he cannot allow. When he discovers an old enemy is involved with the cabal attack, he agrees to help break the cabal’s schemes in hopes the dancer wrapping her fingers around his heart will fall for another.

Their quest becomes more perilous when the cabal uses magic to separate the group and curse the dragons to madness. Thalassa and Alina must each fight for their dragon’s mind. But to survive this curse, they must unlock the secrets of their own heritage before everyone succumbs to dragon’s fire.

*Representation: Main Character is dyslexic.

Gryphon’s Sister by Kimberly Rogers

The curse stole her voice, but breaking it may cost everything she holds dear.

Hidden in the northern mountains, Sybil longs for the day when their curse will be broken. Life with only gryphons as company is not easy. She knows that she is the key to returning her brothers to their human forms but doing so may be impossible. Then everything changes when she saves a stranger.

Damian is a hunted man. When he makes the mistake of trying to protect a mysterious and silent girl, his fate takes an unexpected turn. A foreigner, he’s lived on the run for years. As he grows closer to Sybil, he discovers she doesn’t need a voice to speak. However, he cannot forget his haunted past and the gryphons she claims as brothers are eager to see him gone.

With danger closing in on all sides, will Sybil be forced to sacrifice something greater than her voice?

*Representation: Main Character is non-verbal.

Of Heat and Springs by Kimberly Rogers

A Daughter of Zeus
A Loyal Servant
A Love Daring to Rebel


Athena, daughter of Zeus, is the ultimate strategist. Her mind is her greatest strength in surviving the Storm King’s court. And she proves it by being her father’s most loyal child. Until the day she fails a mission.

Desperate to regain her place, Athena obeys Zeus’ command to bring a recalcitrant weapon smith to heel. Hephaestus of the fire elementals is the greatest weapon smith known to elementals and he is infuriating. Athena’s strength lies in her mind but crossing a water elemental risks drowning. When Hephaestus challenges her loyalty to the Storm King, she thinks she can handle any scheme.

A smith with a magnificent mind is not what she expected. But when they are both accused of disloyalty, Athena faces the most challenging choice of her life. Stay loyal to the father she cannot trust. Or, rely on an unexpected bond and rebel.

*Representation: Main character suffered severe injury resulting in weakened legs.

The Elf King’s Sacrifice by Elisa Rae

The King of Eldarlan hates parties. Superficial conversations and social niceties never come easy for him. When cursed to host human princesses at a party every night, he considers it mild torture until an unusual princess appears one night. Wrapped in a worn robe with bare feet and tousled hair, she intrigues him immediately

Kate had been a princess only a matter of hours before being pulled from her bed by a magical spell. It drops her in an enchanted garden populated by silent elves and princesses of various ages. Attempting to avoid the unsolicited advice of her new peers, she retreats to the dark hedge maze where she encounters her host.

*Representation: Main Character has POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) disease.

Runemaster by Everly Haywood

A kidnapped governess. A goblin prince. A world on the brink of disaster.

Anrid Fray left her sister for an arranged marriage to a dark elf; instead, she is stolen away and accidentally binds herself to a temperamental magic known as the Bifrost. She only wants to find her betrothed, but a harassed Runemaster and a pack of unruly orphans won’t let her leave.

Prince Jael Daemon needs to save his kingdom from strange earthquakes, but the Bifrost protecting Agmon is inexplicably failing. The last thing he wants is responsibility for his wayward younger brother, a naïve human girl, and her homeless goblinborn children who are all in danger.

With the Bifrost under attack and their souls bonded to its fate, can these star-crossed lovers reconcile duty and desire before shadows consume all they hold dear?

*Representation: The goblin children are inspired by down syndrome.

Dragon School: First Flight by Sarah K. Wilson

Join Dragon School. Learn to Fly. Sixteen-year-old Amel arrived at Dragon School just like everyone else – with a dream to ride dragons and join the Dominion Dragon Riders. But Amel has a crippled leg and Dragon School training is gruelling. Before she can even become an initiate, she must complete her First Flight on a dragon. Can Amel survive First Flight and become a Dragon School initiate or will her dreams dash on the rocks below? 

*Representation: Main character has a leg injury.

Phoenix Heart by Sarah K. Wilson

A DISABLED TEEN. AN EMPATHETIC PHOENIX. A MAGIC THAT COMES FROM THE HEART.

Disabled and rejected in her community, Sersha has never had a best friend. Until one day, a phoenix enters her world, tied to her heart in a way no one can break. Now, this great fiery beast has adopted her as his best friend and he wants to take her away from the world she’s known until now. But Sersha’s village is in trouble and unless she can learn to work with her phoenix friend right now, they might both lose the future they were counting on. Will Sersha’s big heart be enough to forge a bond between them?

*Representation: Main character is non-verbal.

Reader Recommendations:

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Cece Louise

*Representation: Main character is autistic and has a leg injury.

Snow White by K.M. Shea

*Representation: Main character struggles with anxiety.

Guarding Snow by Elizabeth D. Marie

*Representation: Main character struggles with anxiety and depression.

By Winged Chair by Kendra Merritt

*Representation: Main character is paralyzed.

**It sounds liked there are characters struggling with things from anxiety to a limb difference to neurodivergence throughout the whole Mark of the Least series.


Have you read any of these books? Any other books with disability representation that you loved and read? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!

I was pleased and happily surprised at the amount of books I was able to find with such wonderful and diverse representation! A huge thank you to all of these amazing authors who made these books possible and those on the sidelines who helped them (and us) learn and understand the stories behind the disabilities. I hope you are able to find some new and fantastic reads and learn a little bit more about the struggles–seen and unseen–that some people might be facing.

Happy Reading!

Alesha Adamson

P.S. If you want to find more disability inclusive books or find a sensitivity reader check out disabilitybookweek.org or follow @disability.book.week on Instagram.

P.P.S Want even more sweet and swoony lists directly in your mail box? Click the button below!

Book Recommendations

Grumpy Hero Fantasy Romance Recommendations

Why do people love grumpy heroes?

There is a reason Beauty and the Beast is wildly popular–arguably one of the most popular retellings–and I think it is more than just the amazing library. Then there is Pride and Prejudice. Has anyone ever wondered why that is Austin’s most popular book? Sure he is rich, but so are several of her other characters.

The banter: Most everyone loves a book with good banter and a book with a grumpy hero is bound to have banter especially when it is a case of opposites attract!

A protector: Most woman love to feel safe and protected when they are with a man. It fulfills an innate need to be cherished. I’m not saying we women need a man to protect us, but it sure is nice when we have that extra support and are with someone who makes us feel safe. And those grumpy men exude that Alpha-male masculinity, trait that makes us feel like he can protect and cherish us.

A bit of bad-boy danger: Lets face it, many of us find a bad-boy exciting. You never know what he might do or say next, but with these grumpy heroes, often the bad-boy front is covering a cuddly teddy bear inside. What is better than a complex man with a troubled past who just needs a bit of tender-loving care?

The redemption arc: No one is perfect, no matter how much we try. Reading about a character whose imperfections are there for all to see but is able to do what it takes to change and become a better man makes us feel hope for not only ourselves but for all of humanity.

Personally the banter and strong masculine vibes mixed with a dark exterior hiding a troubled but sweet marshmallow who melts your heart, gets me ever time! I can’t help but fall for the endearing grump and long for his healing and redemption arc.

Sweet & Swoony Retellings

Fabulous Grumpy Hero Fairytales I Loved:

I’m sure there are even more reasons you love a good grump. I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy some of these sweet & swoony fantasy grumpy hero romances!

The Dark King and the Eternal Dance by Alesha Adamson

An unwanted proposal. An unexpected curse. Will Rayna and her eleven sisters ever be free of the Dark King and this eternal dance?

Rayna is not usually the boldest of her sisters. However, when her eldest sister, Faelynn, seems ready to abandon her own happily ever after and accept the Dark King’s proposal, Rayna knows she must act and take drastic measures before someone gets hurt. Measures that just might cost her her heart.

*A retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” intertwined with “Hades and Persephone”

Considering how much I love grumpy heroes it should come as no surprise that when I came up with how to turn the fairytale on its head and have the villain as the hero, I knew I wanted a misunderstood grump. Soon the delightfully grumpy and slightly oblivious Drake was born. The more I got to know him and his troubled past the more I loved him. He was a joy to write. And I adored his banter with Rayna! Their whole relationship was simply adorable.

Reflection by Camille Peters

Princess Rheanna’s self-esteem shattered when her former fiancé unexpectedly ended their betrothal. Years later, the rejection continues to haunt her, and now that she’s faced with yet another unwanted political engagement, Rhea will do anything to avoid another heartache.

When a mysterious lure draws Rhea to an abandoned turret of the palace, she discovers a magic mirror and is shocked to find a snarky man trapped inside. Although she agrees to help break Drake’s curse, things quickly grow complicated, for not only does she begin to fall in love with him, but breaking a curse proves quite difficult when she herself feels trapped––by her own self-doubts.

*Inspired by “Snow White”

Poisoned: Snow White’s Story by Mary Mecham

A poisoned apple and true love’s first kiss were only the beginning to Snow White’s story…

After a handsome prince swoops in to save the day, Snow can’t help but feel like something is still missing in her life. She begins to wonder if “happily ever after” really exists, because what she is experiencing certainly isn’t the idyllic life she imaged a princess would have. With each passing day, Snow feels an increasing desire to escape the pressures of the castle and return to the brothers who live in the cottage in the woods.

*A retelling of “Snow White”

Beast Charming by Jennifer Wardell

Beast Charming tells the story of Beauty, who works as a temp at an agency run by a high-tempered dragon. To avoid running into her conniving and desperately-craving-for-nobility father—conveniently named Noble—she takes on a peculiar job that will force her to converse with a violent beast named, well, Beast. The rest of the story develops into a hysterical tale of a classic fairy tale romance gone modernly awry.

*A retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”

Beauty by Robin McKinley

The sisters’ wealthy father loses all his money when his merchant fleet is drowned in a storm, and the family moves to a village far away. Then the old merchant hears what proves to be a false report that one of his ships had made it safe to harbor at last, and on his sad, disappointed way home again he becomes lost deep in the forest and has a terrifying encounter with a fierce Beast, who walks like a man and lives in a castle. The merchant’s life is forfeit, says the Beast, for trespass and the theft of a rose—but he will spare the old man’s life if he sends one of his daughters: “Your daughter would take no harm from me, nor from anything that lives in my lands.” When Beauty hears this story—for her father had picked the rose to bring to her—her sense of honor demands that she take up the Beast’s offer, for “cannot a Beast be tamed?”

*A retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”

TBR Grumpy Hero Fairytales:

The Scarred Prince by Erika Everest

A bitter and reclusive prince. A determined intruder. An unlikely friendship.

His face scarred from a witch’s curse, Prince Sebastian retreats inside his castle, resentful and angry. He shuns contact with everyone except the Red Hoods, the elite soldiers he trains and leads.

Four years ago, Sienna was kidnapped. Still traumatized by her ordeal, she needs to learn to protect herself to feel safe again, and she wants the Prince to train her.

Reluctantly, Sebastian agrees.

*”Beauty and the Beast” meets “Little Red Riding Hood”

Song of the Sea by Deborah Grace White

Sometimes the death of your greatest dream is only the beginning…

Princess Estelle has never been happy in her father’s underwater empire, although she’s ready to do her duty—marry at fifteen and pass her three hundred years in service to family and empire. But when she’s finally allowed to ascend to the surface and catches sight of a handsome human prince, a different—and altogether dangerous—dream starts to grow in her heart.

*A “Little Mermaid” retelling

Wilting Captive by Abigail Manning

A duchess, a beast, and a castle full of hungry hostages…

Duchess Mirabel Brantley has spent nearly all her life being sheltered due to her fragile health. With no hope of ever living the life of adventure she dreamed of, Mira agrees to an arranged marriage with the neighboring duke of Dhurin. Their betrothal celebration might have been pleasant if they didn’t already despise each other, but it also might have helped if the entire party wasn’t taken hostage…

*A retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”

The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo

A humorous and magical re-telling of Cinderella from a unique perspective.Burndee is a young and cantankerous fairy godfather, who would rather bake cakes than help humans. A disgrace to the fairy order, Burndee has only two wards entrusted to his care…a cinder girl and a charming prince. A royal ball presents Burndee with the brilliant solution of how to make his wards happy with the least amount of effort. He’ll arrange a meeting and hope the two fall in love.

*A retelling of “Cinderella”

Grace by Contract by Rachel Rossano

After her father uproots the family to the northern duchy of Brackenhurst, Grace Eldon and her four younger sisters struggle with a new life of hardship. Desperate to keep a roof over their heads amid mounting debts, she and her youngest sister seek employment in the Duke of Brackenhurst’s household despite fearsome rumors.

Scarred and maimed from a terrible fire Silas Isling, Duke of Brackenhurst, buries himself in his work to avoid the stares of pity and fear. When one of the new maids shows no fear at his appearance, he is intrigued. That is until his meddling steward gives her the task of cleaning Silas’ bookroom. It is a most unwelcome disruption since he prefers to be alone.

*A reimagining of Beauty and the Beast

Mirrors of Ice by Celeste Boxendell

There is still worth in broken things.

With the end of her mourning period approaching, Princess Eirwen of Glaciar knows her time is up. Her aunt, Queen Regent Isolde, is going to strike soon, but Eirwen’s ready—as ready as one can be for their own assassination. As soon as Eirwen is out of the way, there will be nothing left to stop Isolde from taking over Glaciar.

A retelling of “The Snow Queen”

Fly with the Arrow by Sarah K.L. Wilson

He’s been stealing brides for centuries and now he’s stolen her.

Izolda is as chilly and practical as her icy homeland. The prospect of an arranged marriage to a much older man doesn’t worry her. But when a stranger arrives, kills her would-be husband and claims her as his bride instead, citing a law she’s never heard of, she is left with a tangled problem on her hands.

*Inspired by “Bluebeard”

*End on a cliffhanger so be ready with book 2!

Sweet & Swoony Fantasy Romances

TBR Grumpy Hero Fantasy:

In Darkenss Forged by Kenely Davidson

In a land of darkness and deadly adversaries…
He might just be the deadliest one of all.


Burdened by a debt she can never hope to repay, Aislin is sent by her cruel lord to the mysterious land of Dunmaren, where she must beg the night elves for a single favor. The shapeshifters demand a steep price, but Aislin will do anything to save her family—even travel alone into a nightmare forest filled with monsters.

Except she isn’t quite alone…

*Moderate violence, occasional swear

Gardian of Talons and Snares by Anastasis Blythe

Can they stop almost killing each other long enough to save their empire? Or will his secrets destroy them both?

Sun Aranya just wants a stable job so she can care for her ailing grandfather. After years of relentless magic training, she has finally earned a city wardenship—only to discover on her first day that annoyingly handsome Shi Kai is laying claim to her position.

There’s only one option: they’ll just have to compete for it.

*Moderate fantasy violence

The Shadow Elf’s Rescuer by Elisa Rae

In a world full of elves, woodwose, gargoyles, and brownies, shadow elves are the most feared. Casimir, brother of the elven king’s spymaster, is constantly reminded of this reputation in his service to his brother and his king. Now, dying slowly at the hands of a crazed magus, he holds no hope of rescue. Who would risk their life for a nightmare like him?

The Elven Healer’s Apprentice by Elisa Rae

Merlon, the king of Eldarlan’s healer, hides his soft heart beneath a prickly exterior. Despite a traumatic childhood, he strives to excel as a healer and an elf. But he gets more than he bargained for when he rescues a human woman from certain death right before being snared in the curse put on the king of Eldarlan.

Moonlit Woods by Eliza Tilton

When Rosalie is thrown into a deadly bridal competition she must decide if the dark fae stealing her heart can be trusted to save her life.

In order to save her sick firehawks, Rosalie sells herself into a competition to marry the wicked magistrate of Farrow’s Gate. If she wins, her farm is saved. If she loses, she’ll be forced to work off her family’s debt in an undisclosed location.

But the magistrate won’t marry just any human.

*Mild fantasy violence

Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L. Moody

Faerie wasn’t supposed to be real. Tricked by a fae prince, Elora is stuck in the Faerie realm far from her young sisters who depend on her for survival. Under the terms of her bargain, she can’t go home to the mortal world until Prince Brannick becomes the next High King. Or until he’s taken out of the running.

*Mild fantasy violence

Knight’s Rebirth by Sarah Ashwood

“My name is Buckhunter Dornley, and I am dead.”

This isn’t your average fairy tale, and Sir Buckhunter Dornley isn’t your average knight. He’ll tell you that himself. Winning tournaments, fighting cyclopes, and slaying dragons? All in a day’s work for the mightiest knight in the empire, but that knight is about to meet his match in Mercy, the charming and outrageous princess of Merris. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and Buck falls hard. What he doesn’t know is Mercy lives under an ancient, terrible curse. When he finds out, Buck swears he’ll do anything to break it.

*Mild fantasy violence

Happy Reading

Alesha Adamson

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Book Recommendations · My Books

A Villain’s Ever After

In 2019 I had the amazing opportunity to team up with eleven other authors to create a twisted fairytale series where the traditional villain is instead the hero of the tale. What a blessing it was to have this series to look forward to publishing in 2021 and to get to work with this group of amazing authors during a world-wide pandemic. What a blessing to have the friendship of these fabulous women when everyone was feeling isolated and alone. We were there for each other supporting and learning from each of our experiences and talents. And even more amazing still, I was blessed to have this experience as I launched my debut novel The Dark King and the Eternal Dance.

Even villains need a happily ever after

What if the enchantress fell in love with the beast? or the sea witch wasn’t so evil? Suppose the sorcerer won the swan princess’s heart? “A Villain’s Ever After” will take you to places where wishes really do come true… from a certain point of view. Except the unexpected as we fall in love with the villains who might not be the “bad guy” after all. Featuring twelve short novels full of magic, romance and adventure, you’ll see villains in a while new light. Who said said villains can’t have happily ever afters?

The Beast and the Enchantress by Camille Peters

If there’s one thing Astrid, an aspiring enchantress, has learned throughout her studies, it’s that magic must only be used for good. But when an egocentric prince breaks her sister’s heart, Astrid’s only focus is revenge, and what better way to enact it than with a well-chosen curse?

A simple incantation is all it takes to transform the arrogant prince’s appearance to match the state of his heart. But something goes wrong, causing the spell to affect not only the prince, but its caster as well. 

The Sultan and the Storyteller by Lichelle Slater

For thirty-nine nights, the sultan of Zunbar has chosen a new wife.
For thirty-nine dawns, they are pronounced dead.

When Sultan Zayne summons my best friend to be taken as his newest victim, I can no longer pretend to be blind and volunteer in her stead. My only plan–weave a story each night and hopefully learn why he would kill in the first place.

Bluebeard and the Outlaw by Tara Grayce

Marriage: the ultimate heist.

Robin of the Greenwood spends her days robbing from the rich to feed the poor. With her knowledge of the fae paths, she eludes all attempts to capture her. But she and her merry band of brothers never seem to get anywhere. The more she steals, the more the evil Duke Guy “Bluebeard” taxes the villagers.

When Robin discovers that Duke Guy plans to marry yet again, she conceives a plan for a final, big score. As Guy’s wife, she will have access to his wealth. The lord is notorious for killing his wives shortly after he marries them, but Robin has no plans to be dead wife number four.

The Stepsister and the Slipper by Nina Clare

What if the prince fell in love with the stepsister?

Lady Charlotte needs a rich husband, and fast. Good thing she has plenty of beauty and charm, with no foolish ideas of love to get in the way of her plans. When the chance to catch the wealthiest, most eligible bachelor in the kingdom appears, she will do everything in her power to win such a prize; even if she must break a few hearts along the way. But in the end, it is her own heart that’s troubled. Perhaps true love really does exist, but if so, it’s not with the man she has caught…

The Goblin and the Dancer by Allison Tebo

Grik the goblin spends his days as a janitor cleaning the Metropolitan Dance Hall, drawn to the Elvish world and tired of the darkness of his underground home. He secretly pines for the ballet company’s lead dancer, Rosanna, but his own ugliness and shyness stand in the way of confessing his love.

When a handsome soldier named Paul appears on the scene to make a bid for Rosanna’s affections, Grik’s jealousy bubbles over and he commits the unthinkable, plunging all of them into the river and down into the depths of the earth.

Hansel and the Gingerbread Queen by Lea Doué 

No matter how the sugar sparkles, never sample the sweets.

Evony is the daughter of a witch, with all of her reputation but none of her powers. She’s spent her whole life in the heart of the forest, safe from outsiders in a wondrous candy cottage as dangerous as it is beautiful. Kept company by a trio of tiny companions—a loyal gingerbread dragon and two mischievous brownies—Evony’s one desire is to find a place in the human world. But first, she must find a way to undo her mother’s spells and free the poor souls who fell to temptation. Only two obstacles stand in her way. A traveler with distracting molasses-brown eyes, and the one creation the witch left behind with the power to stop her: the gingerbread man.

The Dark King and the Eternal Dance by Alesha Adamson

An unwanted proposal. An unexpected curse. Will Rayna, and her eleven sisters ever be free of the Dark King and this eternal dance?

Rayna is not usually the boldest of her sisters. However, when her eldest sister, Faelynn, seems ready to abandon her own happily ever after and accept the Dark King’s proposal, Rayna knows she must act and take drastic measures before someone gets hurt. Measures that just might cost her her heart.

Gothel and the Maiden Prince by W.R. Gingell

Deep in the forest, far from the light, a sorceress with magic of the blackest kind keeps prisoner the princess she stole away years ago. From time to time, a prince will come to challenge her, but by and large, life is peaceful for Gothel. And that’s just the way she likes it.

She’s not prepared for the earnest young prince who seems more determined to talk her to death than challenge her to a duel of magic; nor, having tricked him into a battle of questions, is she expecting him to show more interest in her than the tower-bound princess.

The Sorcerer and the Swan Princess by Lucy Tempest

A usurped princess. A mercenary sorcerer. A fate neither expected.

As a crown princess, Ava has always anticipated betrayals—but never from her own twin. The unspeakable treachery comes the night Ava meets her true love, when Lina hires the infamous sorcerer, Lord Von Rothbart, to turn Ava into a swan, and takes her place.

The Baker and the Wolf by J.M. Stengl

A mysterious stranger, an enchantress grandmother, and an overprotective mother. Can Cerise trust any of them?

Cerise DuBois might as well be invisible. Not even her scarlet cloak attracts male interest, and her mother begins to despair of snaring a husband for a boring middle daughter with no magic ability. If not for her baking talents, Cerise would be a hopeless burden on the family.

The Prince and the Sea Witch by A.G. Marshall

All mermaids long for the magic of a human soul. Briony won’t drown sailors to get it.

She makes potions instead, earning a reputation as a witch and becoming a social outcast. When a little mermaid asks for a potion that can reunite her with the human she loves, Briony reluctantly agrees.

But there is more to the mermaid’s plan than a quest for love. The more Briony interacts with the human prince the mermaid wants to claim, the more she suspects that he never loved the little mermaid at all.

Carabosse and the Spindle Spell by Silva Mercedes

Shy but magically talented, Princess Carabosse only wants to help her people as they face the looming threat of the Warlock King and his daughter, Aurora. Aurora was gifted from infancy with fairy blessings that make her the most lethal magic-user the world has seen in centuries . . . and she wants Cara’s kingdom.

The only hope for fighting off this deadly threat is the loyalty of the twelve Dragon Lords. They have sworn allegiance to the Briar Crown. But when the crown falls into Aurora’s clutches, who will the dragons serve?

Happy Reading

Alesha Adamson

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Book Recommendations · My Books

Little Red Riding Hood Recommendations

The Fairytale:

The big bad wolf is the villain in many fairytales. The wolf is dangerous and cunning. He is a beast of prey ready to eat those who are too trusting. In “Little Red Riding Hood” he deceives her not once but twice. First when she encounters him on the walk through the woods and he suavely asks her where she is headed suggesting she pick flowers for her grandmother. Then again when he sets up his trap, disguising himself as her grandmother so he can eat her.

In Charles Perrault’s version from 1697, the tale ends there. A depressingly cautionary tale. However when the Grimm brothers adapted the story in the 1800’s they changed the ending by adding a woodcutter who saves both Little Red and Grandmother from the belly of the wolf, filling his belly with rocks instead. While in even earlier versions of the tale, Little Red saves herself by stating that she needs to go to the bathroom and cleverly running away.

Whatever the version, the message is clear: be careful who you trust. The proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing” may be hiding in the woods, in broad daylight, or even in your own home. Thankfully there are red flags to help us detect the wolves from the sheep. Such as the wolf’s distinctive eyes, ears and teeth. And like the Little Red of old–when she realized that the person before her wasn’t her grandmother–we can run or get the help needed.

Credits:

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brothers_Grimm,

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Red_Riding_Hood,

*https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/there-are-58-versions-of-little-red-riding-hood-some-1000-years-older-than-the-brothers-grimms-180947704,

*https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/1810-edition-of-little-red-riding-hood,

*https://www.girlmuseum.org/fairy-tale-history-little-red-riding-hood/

Sweet and Swoony Retellings

Retellings I’ve Read and Loved:

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor’s twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist–wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory.

But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it’s not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse . . .

This book was a fabulous sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball! Rereading the blurb only makes me want to reread the entire series!

The Princess Fugitive by Melanie Cellier

Princess Ava used to be a weapon–sharp, strong and beautiful. But when she fails at her most important task, she’s forced to flee from her own family.

Only her personal bodyguard, Hans, remains loyal. Hans claims to know the real Ava but she finds that hard to believe–after all, she’s been the villain so long that she can’t remember anything else.

This book has definitely been one of my favorite books by Melanie Cellier! I adore the characters and their banter and the journey they go on throughout the book.

Unenchanted by Chanda Hahn

Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated; until she saves her crush’s life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it’s next fairytale victim. To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.

This book is a delightful mesh-up of Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and a few more grim tales. It is set in the modern day giving you the paranormal feels. I loved the entire series!

The Wolf’s Golden Deception by Alesha Adamson

Stolen magic. Broken trust. Can love save Rafe and Mira from being consumed by the Wolf’s deception? Or is it already too late?

For months, Lord Rafe has been ensnared in a deception that he wishes he’d never fallen for. But what else could he do to protect his family? What started out as something seemingly harmless became achingly complex when he fell in love with Princess Mira. Refusing to see her hurt by his poor choices, he made the painful decision to stay away from her.

Mira still doesn’t understand why the man she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with vanished after the end of the midnight balls. When he finally returns contrite and ready to court her, she wants to forgive him and regain what they once had. But Rafe is accused of a shocking crime and banished just as a tragedy strikes that changes Mira’s life forever. Now they must meet cloaked in secret if they wish to be together.

I came up with the idea for this book when I was still thinking about the villain theme from the Villain’s Ever After anthology. In fact, I came up with a whole series based around this theme. For this tale based off of both “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Orpheus and Eurydice,” I wanted to have the person everyone thought was the villain, not be the actual villain, and so the blackmail plot was born. Add in a snake and a delightfully fairytale, Greek and Norse inspired world with my own set of magical rules and I had a delightful time writing this book! It is the second instalment of my Ever After in Vilastoria stand-alone series.

TBR Reads:

Scarlet by Melissa Meyer

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of Marissa Meyer’s bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

This is a delightful companion to the widely popular Cinder. If dystopian, meshed with fairytale steampunk sounds like your jam, you will probably enjoy this series.

The Baker and the Wolf by J.M. Stengl

A mysterious stranger, an enchantress grandmother, and an overprotective mother. Can Cerise trust any of them?

Cerise DuBois might as well be invisible. Not even her scarlet cloak attracts male interest, and her mother begins to despair of snaring a husband for a boring middle daughter with no magic ability. If not for her baking talents, Cerise would be a hopeless burden on the family.

Or so she believes until a dark man with eyes like gold appears in the family bakery to deliver an invitation from a grandmother she has never met . . . and real trouble begins. What if everything Cerise believes about herself and her family is false?

If you love fast paced writing and corky lovable characters you will probably enjoy reading J.M. Stengl’s books. I’m looking forward to giving this one a try.

Path of Secrets by Kenley Davidson

There are no wolves in the woods, they said.
You’ll be completely safe, they said.
They lied.


Batrice Reyard has everything she’s ever wanted—a fabulous job, an understanding mentor, and the freedom to be herself. Or so she thought…

I have yet to read any of Kenley Davidson books but am looking forward to giving her a try. From the reviews, her books might be a tad violent and on the darker side but still happy enough that I think I can enjoy them. (I’ve also been told that some of her books have a few swear words.)

Cloaked in Scarlet by Annette K. Larsen

A girl determined to fight her own battles.
A boy desperate to protect her at all costs.
And a prowling villain with a deceptively charming smile.

After watching her two closest friends survive mistreatment and degradation, Emeline is determined never to become a victim herself, no matter how small and quiet she may be. She’s proven to others that she can take charge as a cook; now she’s proving to herself that she can handle any situation.

Girl in the Red Hood by Brittany Fichter

The girl who’s bitten by a wolf and marked for life.
A boy, shrouded in secrecy, who watches over her.
The one man who can save her from her dark curse…or doom her to it.

In this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, when Liesel’s mother died, Liesel felt as though the world had ended. To make matters worse, in his grief, her father moves them to a village deep in a sunless forest. In her terror, Liesel tries to flee back to her grandparents that they left behind, but before she can escape, she’s bitten by a wolf, and unbeknownst to her, marked for a terrifying destiny.

Crimson Claws by Abigail Manning

A girl and her grandma… separated by an entire pack of beasts.

Roisen Karro and her grandmother run the most beloved bakery in the province of Omaira. Ever since her father disappeared seven years ago, Ro has decided there is no place for a man in her heart, especially an obnoxiously flirty woodcutter. Unfortunately, her granny has no issue encouraging the young man’s advances toward her.

The Scarred Prince by Erika Everest

A bitter and reclusive prince. A determined intruder. An unlikely friendship.

His face scarred from a witch’s curse, Prince Sebastian retreats inside his castle, resentful and angry. He shuns contact with everyone except the Red Hoods, the elite soldiers he trains and leads.

Four years ago, Sienna was kidnapped. Still traumatized by her ordeal, she needs to learn to protect herself to feel safe again, and she wants the Prince to train her.

Reluctantly, Sebastian agrees.

*A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast with a grumpy hero.

Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey

The eldest daughter is often doomed in fairy tales. But Bella vows to escape the usual pitfalls. Anxious to avoid the Traditional path, Bella dons a red cloak and ventures into the forbidden forest to consult with “Granny,” the local wisewoman. But on the way home she’s attacked by a wolf—who turns out to be a cursed nobleman. Secluded in his castle, Bella is torn between her family and this strange man who creates marvelous inventions and makes her laugh—when he isn’t howling at the moon. Bella knows all too well that breaking spells is never easy. But a determined beauty, a wizard (after all, he’s only an occasional werewolf) and a little Godmotherly interference might just be able to bring about a happy ending.

This book is geared toward adults yet from everything I can tell it seems clean. Many reviewers said it felt like a YA book and one reviewer mentioned that there were some slight inuendoes.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris–the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

*This looks like a dark retelling with mild to moderate violence. And can I just say the cover is gorgeous!

Short Stories:

Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Valde

So you think you know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with the unfortunate name and the inability to tell the difference between her grandmother and a member of a different species? Well, then, try your hand at answering these questions: Which character (not including Little Red herself) is the most fashion challenged? Who (not including the wolf) is the scariest? Who (not including Granny) is the most easily scared? Who is the strangest (notice we’re not “not including” anyone, because they’re all a little off.)? Who (no fair saying “the author”) has stuffing for brains? Master storyteller Vivian Vande Velde crafts eight new stories involving one of the world’s most beloved (and mixed-up) characters in literature. You may never look at fairy tales in quite the same way again.

*Reader Suggested Recommendations:

Cloaked by Rachel Kovaciny a historical western retelling (mild violence)

Mountain of the Wolf by Elisabeth Grace a historical western retelling novella length (moderate violence)

The Wolf Gate by Hannah Sandvig a modern portal fae retelling.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you find many new and fantastic reads! If you enjoyed this list and would like to receive more be sure to join my newsletter by subscribing with the link below.

Happy reading!

Alesha Adamson

Book Recommendations · My Books

12+ Recommendations for 12 Dancing Princesses

“The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is a lesser known fairytale from the Grimm Brothers. It is also known as “The Worn-Out Shoes” or “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces.” One of the most popular adaptations is the Barbie movie from 2006: Barbie in 12 Dancing Princesses.

I had never heard of the fairytale until I was in college and a roommate suggested I read it. Suddenly I saw the story everywhere, starting with Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball. This fairytale soon became one of my favorites.

For those of you unfamiliar with the original tale, I’ll tell you my quick rendition based off the many versions (including the original Grimm tale) I read for my own adaptation of the tale, The Dark King and the Eternal Dance.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses Tale

Once upon a time, there was a king who had been blessed with twelve beautiful daughters (Because how else are princesses to look). One morning he found that each of his twelve daughters had somehow worn their dancing slippers to shreds. How had this happened? They had been in their room all night long. He demanded his daughters offer an explanation; however, they refused to disclose anything. Though he locked them into their room each night, the problem continued.

Frustrated at having to purchase all twelve of his daughters new dancing slippers each day, he sent out a proclamation. Any man who could solve the mystery of the tattered slippers would be offered a reward and the hand of marriage to the daughter of his choosing. Nobles and princes alike came to solve the mystery. All failed and were put to death (because killing off the unsuccessful makes perfect sense).

Out in the kingdom, a war-weary soldier came upon an old lady as he journeyed. He paused to help her. As a reward, she offered him an invisibility cloak and told him to use it to solve the mystery of the tattered slippers. She then advised him not to eat or drink anything the princesses offered him.

Armed with knowledge, he went to the castle to solve the mystery. As had been done before, he was locked in with the princesses. The princesses graciously offered him bread and wine. He discreetly disposed of the offered food and drink into a (conveniently located) plant. When the sisters went to bed, he pretended to sleep.

At the stroke of midnight, he heard a stirring. Through partially closed eyes, he watched as a portal opened and the sisters began exiting. Throwing on the invisibility cloak, he hurried to follow the youngest sister down the staircase that now descended from their room into a dark wood.

In his rush he accidently stepped on the youngest sisters cloak.

“Ow! Someone stepped on my cloak.” She complained, looking about.

“It must have gotten caught on a nail.” Her eldest sister assured her.

He continued following them into a stunning forest made entirely of silver trees. Amazed, he snapped off a twig.

“What was that?” The youngest sister gasped.

“It’s just the princes, they are so excited to see us that they are cheering.”

They continued down the pathway, entering into a gleaming forest made entirely of gold. After a time, the golden forest gave way to a glittering forest made entirely of diamonds glinting under the moonlight.

Before long, the princesses came to a lake where twelve princes with twelve boats awaited their arrival. The soldier snuck onto the boat of the youngest princess causing the prince rowing their boat to comment upon the princess being heavier then he remembered.

When they finally reached the other side of the lake, they enter an enchanted dance where the princesses danced with the princes the whole night, until their slippers were worn entirely to pieces.

The soldier followed them for the next two nights. On the second night he took a golden twig. Again the youngest heard the snap and complained. Her concerns were put off. On the third night he took a diamond twig that once more does not go unnoticed. At the dance that final night, he took a golden goblet as his final piece of evidence.

The morning of the third day, he went to the king with all that he had found. Elated the king offered the soldier the promised reward, plus the hand of one of his daughters in marriage. The soldier married the eldest princess. And they all lived happily ever after.

But of course there are several holes in this story (as fairytales are wont to have). Holes that several authors answer in interesting and entertaining ways.

Sweet and Swoony Retellings

My Favorite Retellings:

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Rose is one of twelve princesses–sisters condemned to dance every night in the palace of the King Under Stone. Galen is a young soldier returning from war. Together they will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to attend the endless midnight balls. All they need is an invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with silver needles, and that most critical fairy tale ingredient–true love.

This was my first proper exposure to the Twelve Dancing Princesses and will always have a special place in my heart. This book was spell-binding and captivating with surprising twists along the way. All the elements were so beautifully woven that I was convinced that knitting something must have been part of the original tale.

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.

I loved this fairytale so much that I was excited to find this second retelling. Juilet Marillier has a lush beautiful way of describing everything. I was transported into this darkly stunning world. It was so well done that it felt not only plausible but real. The characters were lovable and there was a memorable frog! Just writing this makes me want to read this again.

The Midnight Dancers by Regina Doman

Tired of the tight leash that she and her sisters are kept on by their parents, Rachel Durham is seeking for a way out: and one night, she unexpectedly finds one in their Chesepeake Bay home.
As the pull of the night world grows inexorably stronger upon Rachel, her anxious father enlists the aid of Paul Fester (soldier, medic, juggler, and ninja) to find out what his daughters are up to. Paul embarks on a daring but difficult balancing act to win the girls’ trust – before it’s too late.

This book is an exciting and modern twist on the classic tale. I remember it giving me that fairie-portal world feel with a touch of paranormal.

The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling (if silly) curse, and anyone who ends it will win a reward. Reveka, a sharp-witted and irreverent apprentice herbalist, wants that reward. But her investigations lead to deeper mysteries and a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?

A delightful blend of my two favorite fairytales Twelve Dancing Princesses and Beauty and the Beast! I absolutely loved the twist at the end of this book!

My Fairly Dangerous Godmother by Janette Rallison

A fairy godmother can be a dangerous thing.

Some people bomb singing auditions. Sadie throws up on live TV during hers. So yeah, there’s no way she’ll ever be able to face strangers again, let alone the people at her high school.

Her performance on America’s Top Talent is so bad it earns her a fairy godmother through the Magical Alliance’s Pitiful Damsel Outreach Program. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Sadie’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing fairy godmother to save the day—or perhaps make it even more horrible.

Wishes are, after all, unpredictable things.

Janette Rallison became another favorite author when I read her refreshing and hilarious book My Fair Godmother. Imagine my delight when I discovered that her final book in the series meshed “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Little Mermaid”. This is definitely a series I’ve read again and again.

A Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier

When Princess Liliana and her twin sister set sail for new lands, she hopes to find adventure and romance. But the people of Marin live under the shadow of a curse–one powerful enough to destroy entire kingdoms. To protect them all, Lily and eleven other princesses are forced to participate in a mysterious and secret tournament.

More recently I was thrilled to discover this unique rendition of the tale. I was sucked in right from the beginning and loved how she made it into a tournament and had twelve contestants as the ‘sisters’. I adored the main character and her twin sister as well as their unexpected connection. When you finish it, you’ll want to immediately grab the next book and read her sisters story!

The Dark King and the Eternal Dance by Alesha Adamson

An unwanted proposal. An unexpected curse. Will Rayna, and her eleven sisters ever be free of the Dark King and this eternal dance.

Rayna is not usually the boldest of her sisters. However, when her eldest sister, Faelynn, seems ready to abandon her own happily ever after and accept the Dark King’s proposal, Rayna knows she must act and take drastic measures before someone gets hurt. Measures that just might cost her her heart.

An intertwined retelling of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses” and of “Hades and Persephone”.

As you might imagine, all the previous books had a hand in inspiring my own retelling. Since it had become one of my favorite retellings, I’d been thinking about how to incorporate it into a fairytale mesh-up idea I had when Camille Peters suggested I join her villain anthology. So of course this idea sprang to mind. Before long, Drake and Rayna had taken up residence in my mind and I’d begun crafting their delightful story.

TBR Retellings:

Kingdom of Dance by Deborah Grace White

Don’t get caught eavesdropping on a dragon—or dancing might be the least of your problems.

With eleven younger sisters, Princess Zinnia usually has little choice but to be responsible. But if she had her way, she’d spend her time exploring the seashore and cavorting with the dragons often found there. When she sees one of those dragons flying mysteriously over her castle one night, the temptation to sneak out after it is too strong to resist. Except, by the time she realizes she doesn’t recognize this dragon, she’s already witnessed something much bigger than she was ready for. And now she’s trapped, her sisters along with her.

After reading the rest of this delightful series I’m eager to begin this last story! Her books are sure to be full of swoony romance and endearing dragons.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by K.M. Shea

Quinn is a loyal soldier of Farset, willing to risk her life on behalf of her country and squad. So, when a fellow soldier volunteers for a dangerous mission, Quinn joins him. Their assignment is to investigate the nightly disappearance of the twelve royal princesses, a mystery none have solved as those who attempt it vanish. But when she follows the girls, Quinn uncovers the truth: the princesses are cursed, and they’re not alone.

If you are familiar with the fairytale romance genre you have probably heard of, or read K.M Shea. This retelling definitely sounds like an exciting and unique tale to add to my pile!

The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doué

A kingdom of shadows. A soldier sworn to protect. A princess silenced by love.

Princess Lily, the eldest of twelve sisters and reluctant heir to a mighty kingdom, struggles to live up to her inheritance … and to free herself from her mother’s matchmaking attempts. While seeking refuge from an overzealous suitor, Lily stumbles into a secret underground kingdom where she meets a mysterious sorcerer-prince. When she and her sisters become entangled in his dangerous curse, she must find a way to end their nightly dances and prove herself worthy of the Firethorn Crown.

Lea was a part of the Villain’s Ever After anthology with me. I read and adored her book Hansel and the Gingerbread Queen and can’t wait to read more of her books. Especially if it is “Twelve Dancing Princesses”! Her rich fantasy world was simply delightful!

Poison’s Dance by Tricia Mingerink

If he falls to the lure of the curse, the dance might trap him forever.

Alex has survived his first year as high king. The new counsel has improved cooperation between the kingdoms, and peace seems achievable. When the Tuckawassee queen sends him an invitation he can’t refuse, Alex must once again face his greatest threat for the sake of peace.

I’m super eager to read this retelling. Another book I read by her was so exiting, I simply couldn’t put it down. I anticipate this book being just as engrossing!

The Thirteenth Princess by Nina Clare

The true story of the twelve dancing princesses has now been recorded…

Thirteen sisters have grown up hidden away by their Uncle, who rules the kingdom by proxy. When the eldest sister marries, her husband will take the throne. But the king has no intention of giving up his crown.

Maybe I’m biased but after working with Nina Clare for the Villain’s Ever After anthology, I’m excited to give this book a try too!


More Dancing Princesses!

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it’s taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include this very popular adaptation. The cover of this book is lovely and I tried to read it several years back but for whatever reason I couldn’t get into it. Perhaps I simply wasn’t in the mood for a retelling at that time. If you read and loved this retelling I’d love to hear what made it a must read for you. Maybe I’ll consider giving it another try.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Jenni James

Twelve princesses, one gardener, and a mysterious secret . . . As the castle gardener, Aleck is paid well, has his own room above the stables, and he is able to support his mother and younger brothers and sisters. Why would he risk it all for one girl? For weeks now, Princess Cascadia and her eleven sisters have awakened each morning to swollen feet and tattered dancing slippers without any recollection of what happened. Why would someone do this to them? 

Jenni James always delivers sweet, entertaining, and quick reads! I’m looking forward to giving this retelling a try.

The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler

Zita is not an ordinary servant girl—she’s the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita’s father banished her to the servants’ quarters to work in the kitchens, where she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret.

This rendition looks adorable.

Pirouette by Kenley Davidson

It was just a dance. But in Caelan, dancing changes everything.
Especially if you’re a princess.


Princess Ilani is cursed. She can no longer dance, and is therefore considered worthless. Forgotten. Invisible.
Until her twelve sisters are trapped in a deadly game with a breathtaking prize—a royal bride and an empire for the taking, if a man is willing to risk everything for a chance to win.

Kenley Davidson’s books seem to have risen in popularity, I’m looking forward to giving her a try soon! (I’m told that there is very minimal language but an over all clean read.)

Mirrored by Alex Flinn

Celine’s life is the stuff fairy tales are made of. She’s beautiful, talented, and brave. Unfortunately, her tale comes complete with a wicked stepmother! When Violet steps into Celine’s life, everything changes and weird things begin to happen to her—bizarre accidents, strange illnesses, and rabid animal attacks. Celine doesn’t feel safe anywhere. It’s almost as if some hateful witch is out to get her.

“Twelve Dancing Princesses” seems to be the back story in this “Snow White” retelling. Any time you read something by Alex Flinn be prepared for all the feels of teenage angst.

Dancer by Kimberly Rogers

A desperate attempt to save a child demands sacrifice.

Imani Tanzer is the closest her young brother has to a mother. When he falls ill due to a vengeful dragoness, it seems almost impossible to save him. Yet when she hears rumors of a dragon healer, Imani risks seeking him out. The dragon gives her a sliver of hope—the curse can be transferred but she and her sisters must leave their family behind forever.

I’ve had several people recommend Kimberly Rogers to me and look forward to reading some of her books!

The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn

Under the stars, in a secret world…

Rowena, the youngest of twelve sisters, loves to slip out of the castle at night and dance in a magical forest. Soon she convinces her sisters to join her. When Sir Ethan notices that his daughters’ slippers look tattered every morning, he is certain they’ve been sneaking out. So he posts a challenge to all the suitors in the kingdom: The first man to discover where his daughters have been is free to marry the one he chooses.

A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

A re-telling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” like you’ve never seen before!

For six hundred years I have dwelt in this prison. Trapped. Helpless. Unliving and undying.

For six hundred years I have watched as cursebreakers come and go. Brave young women all, gifted with powers beyond mortal understanding.

I have watched them die. I have watched them wish to die.

Short Stories:

A Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley

 A retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses in which an old soldier discovers, with a little help from a lavender-eyed witch, the surprising truth about where the princesses dance their shoes to tatters every night.

A book of three short stories the last being the “Twelve Dancing Princesses”. Robin McKinley had always been a favorite read for me. I’m just sad the story is short.

The Dancing Princess by Kendra E Ardnek

Plagued by nightmares for the last few years, Katrine only wanted answers. Instead, she finds herself trapped in a tangled web of melody as she tries to free a cursed king and his brothers. No one deserves existence such as theirs, but dare she risk her very life?

Phew! I made it to twenty-two recommendations. I know that there are even more “Twelve Dancing Princess” retellings and I’m certain more are being written. Drop your favorites in the comments. Which fabulous sweet and swoony retellings did I miss?

* Reader Suggested Recommendations:

A Lonely Dance by Selina R Gonzolez (Mild swearing and violence–Triggers: past abuse off page.)

Till Midnight by Aya Ling

The Midnight Show by Sarah Pennington

The Dark King’s Curse by Wyn Estelle Owens

Curse of the Midnight King by Yakira Goldsberry

Wrought of Silver and Ravens by E.J. Kitchens

Dancing and Donuts by Rachel Kovaciny a historical western retelling

Happy Reading!

Alesha Adamson

P.S. Would you like to get even more sweet and swoony fairytale and fantasy romance suggestions? Follow my newsletter by clicking the link below!

Author Advice · New Author · The Process · Writing

Alesha’s Secret Sauce: Recipe for a Rough Draft

Ingredients:

  • One intriguing idea
  • A healthy heap of excitement
  • A daily dose of writing
  • A dash of direction
  • *Warning: Turn OFF the editing brain. It is not yet time to bake.

Instructions:

Begin with one intriguing idea. Ideas are flourishing everywhere, ripe for the picking, if you know where to look for them. They are hanging in your dreams, growing from life experiences or events, sprouting from words, fairytales or tropes, blossoming from an image, story or show. The places may vary for each individual. However, they cannot be found if you are not looking for them. Rarely do ideas fall out of nowhere and hit you in the head, like the proverbial apple. Unless you’ve already opened your eyes to them. In which case, you may be trying to avoid paying attention to the over-abundance of ideas popping up everywhere you look. Unfortunately, you cannot harvest all of them at once. Thankfully, you can combine some of them making for an even tastier draft! You can also pick your favorites and write them down to save for later.

For those of you struggling to hold on to just one. Never fear. One is all you need. Also please note that looking for the perfect idea may prove difficult, if not impossible. No idea is perfect in its infancy, you must see its potential. That is what you are here for, dear writer, to help bake it into the fabulous story it has the potential to become! Now that you have selected the idea you want to work with, you can begin mixing your rough draft.

Whip your idea with a healthy heap of excitement. If you aren’t feeling excited about it, then no one else will. Everything flows so much better when you are delighted with your idea, trust me. Perhaps it has been a while since you last looked at this particular idea and you find yourself feeling a lack of that former enthusiasm. Perhaps you have been writing this idea for far too long and the flavor has become stale or even sour. Calm down. The idea isn’t necessarily bad—you just need to freshen it up. It might need more time to ripen or you might need a break.

This could be a good time to put it aside and work on something else. Spend a day writing an idea that has sparked your interest, work on fun prompts or even a bit of world building, before returning. Perhaps you need a much longer break. I finally allowed myself a five-year brake from a story that had become particularly sour. This allowed me to finally focus on a new idea and finish what would become my first fully baked novel.

When sludging through your writing and feelings of enthusiasm have waned, consider stirring in another heap of excitement to get you whisking along once more. Renew that passion by building a playlist that reminds you of your book or compile images that resonate with your world. Repeat positive affirmations. Tell yourself how awesome your idea is. Ask yourself why you are such a speedy writer. Remember why you wanted to bake this intriguing idea into a novel. Reread your favorite parts. Remind yourself why you love writing.

Review all the things you originally loved about your idea through journaling—as a friend of mine recently suggested. As you journal you may discover something is missing. Originally you were super stoked about your villain but now the villain isn’t living up to your dream. Good thing this is your rough draft. Keep working the batter. Shift things around and regain that spark that originally drove you! Dive into the scene that has been on your mind or you are feeling stoked about. If you are a linear writer, consider summarizing the scenes you don’t want to write to get to the fun part. You can always fill in the missing parts later.

It is important to note, as you are folding in excitement, that nothing will happen if you are not putting in your daily dose of writing. You must give your idea substance to work with or you will have nothing to bake into a novel. Start off small to make writing a habit. Like other good habits it will become easier with time. Try to schedule a daily writing time—it doesn’t have to be long just regular. If this is not possible with your current schedule, don’t panic! Squeeze writing in at various times during the day, during breaks, during nap time, during those moments you have to yourself before bed or in the morning. The most important thing is to write frequently. Even when you aren’t feeling particularly inspired.

Train your brain to write by using the same writing space. Give yourself goals to work toward. You can do word count goals, page goals, time goals, or even weekly writing goals. Any writing will do, it is not meant to be beautiful. This is your rough draft. It is meant to be fun and messy. Ingredients get spilled on the counter. Pieces get discarded. Flavoring is added at the end. You will clean up the mess later. Putting things away before you are finished with them can create a lot of extra work. The goal is to take your idea and unravel it—until it begins to resemble the story you imagined.

Throughout this process keep in mind my warning. Now is NOT the time for editing! This is a rough draft. It is not ready to bake. No matter how tempting, you must resist. Turn OFF your editing brain. It is exceedingly difficult to fix something half-baked. It is equally difficult to figure out all the ingredients you want to mix in before you know exactly what you are making. You can add spice, flowery words and motifs later. It is unnecessary and nearly impossible to do all of it at once.

Personally, I find it difficult to turn off the editing brain while typing on a computer. It is fine for short papers and blogs, but to complete a whole book, I needed to find a way to stop the perfectionist syndrome and roll the story out. There are a variety of techniques to help. Some authors chose to use various writing programs or platforms, others dictate, using speech to text. I discovered notebook writing. I write my rough draft by hand on a notebook I cut in half. I carry this notebook wherever I go and jot down ideas whenever they strike me. This also allows me to be messy.

I advise you not to delete parts that aren’t working. The wording you use there may help you in your next draft. If you are using a computer, consider striking through or highlighting unwanted sections rather than deleting them. Don’t try and edit or rework them at this time. Simply add a note or start the section anew. In my notebook, I put a bracket around the chunk that went amiss and begin the scene over adding various notes in the margins when necessary. I needn’t figure it out now. I simply make a note and move forward. Forward momentum will move your toward completing your recipe!

As you get going, remember to dust your idea with a dash of direction. When and how much, is up to you. However, it is very difficult to get anything accomplished if you don’t have a general idea of how you want your final product to turn out. There are hundreds of ways this idea could go. Things could get unwieldy. Gently beat it into submission. Whether you are a recipe follower or improv baker, direction is needed. As an improv baker myself, I start with a main idea and a bit of direction then jump right in. When things get tough, I pause to sift in some more direction by creating an informal sort of outline. If I do this, things tend to go much smoother.

There are a myriad of ways to mix an outline—formal or informal. You can create a long, detailed summary of the whole book called a snap-draft. You can form a table or chart, having each box represent a chapter or time frame and add in the corresponding scenes at specific points in the novel. You can do a mind dump, writing down everything you know about the story before organizing it to your liking. You can get to know your characters and world by creating charts, timelines, or family trees. You can storyboard using movable notecards containing all the scenes you know need to happen. Start off with the bigger picture, and fill in the details along the way, or start off with the small details or scenes and built your story out.

Personally, I like to summarize the story using succinct bullet points starting at the beginning and moving from point to point as far as I can, in a linear fashion. When I find myself uncertain what course a character will take, I do what I like to call the A/B scenario—journaling different paths that the characters can take and what will happen if they take each one. Often, I’ll find my answer based on the path that leads to the most thoughts or the outcome that gets me closer to my next plot point. I constantly take notes or talk with friends to slice through and analyze various ideas. This keeps the juices flowing and the excitement levels up.

Chose or combine any of these processes or create your own. Learn from master story bakers. Discover what works best for you. Take the time to find the direction your mind has been searching for. Remember, this is your story. You get to choose how it will go. There may be times when characters do things seemingly of their own accord; however, you can work with that because you are becoming a seasoned story baker, you are now equipped with the secret sauce.

Keep in mind that each writer is different. This can be both frustrating and freeing. Frustrating as you struggle to determine how you work best and freeing when you realize you don’t have to write in a certain way to be successful! However, these key ingredients seem to be universal. An intriguing idea whipped with a healthy heap of excitement, given a daily dose of writing, all dusted with a dash of direction will help you complete your recipe for a rough draft, moving you closer to baking up the novel you’ve been dreaming of.

Happy writing!

Author Advice · New Author · The Process · Writing

Four Tips for Aspiring Authors

1. Write! 

I know this sounds obvious, but all your ideas will remain just that—ideas, until you set pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and write it down. We make time for the things that are important to us. If writing a book in important to you, make the time. I carry a notebook with me wherever I go. When I have a thought or idea, I jot it down. I can write on my break or while waiting for something. You don’t need to carve out hours and hours to write. Time is everywhere if we know how to look for it. 

Write often! Some authors prefer to write at the same time every day or in the same location. Some set word goals or page goals, while others write for a set amount of time or number of days a week. For a while I had a goal to write something (even if it was one word) five days a week. See what works best for you. Have fun! Celebrate your successes! 

2. Resist the urge to revise! 

That piece of advice I kept getting but took forever to follow… Yep, it has made all the difference. After thirteen years of writing and writing without ever finishing anything, I suddenly had a manuscript within a matter of months. 

A rough draft is meant to be rough. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to sound good, in fact, at times, it doesn’t even have to make sense (that is what the second draft is for). The goal here is to get that amazing story that is floating around in your head out, and on to paper. I have found that handwriting my first draft helps to turn off my critical brain and allows the story to flow. Do what works for you. I promise when you resist the urge to revise, magic will happen! 

3. Believe you can achieve! 

You have to believe it to achieve it. If you don’t believe it will happen then it never will. Everything we do and become started out as a thought, going to school, getting a job etc. Then it became an action and that action made it into a reality. Why would writing a book be any different? Do you want to be a published author? Imagine it happening.   

One large step on my journey was committing to be a part of A Villain’s Ever After anthology. I knew others were counting on me. When I wasn’t progressing very fast, I had to question my process and do something different. I started telling everyone that I was going to publish in 2021. I started calling myself an author. I got the cover for my book and really started to visualize it happening—an informal sort of vision board. (A vision board is where you post pictures of your dreams in a prominent location and visualize them happening.) 

Get really clear on what you want to do with your novel. What do you need to do to feel it, see it, taste it, and visualize it happening? You can make your novel a reality. 

4. Invest in yourself! 

After putting all that time and energy into writing your novel, I’d imagine you want to get it out there. First, get clear about what you want. Do you just want to share it with friends and family? Great, invest the time and money into binding it and getting it out. (My grandparents have created several family history books that I treasure.) 

Do you want to try the traditional or self-publish route? Great, find someone who is successful doing what you’d like to do and learn all you can from them. However, beware of the get rich quick scheme and paying someone to publish your book for you, they should be paying you. Read carefully through anything before ever signing your name. 

If you’d like to self-publish, invest your time into editing your book then invest in a good cover and a good editor. If it looks professionally done and sounds professionally done—with an enticing blurb—readers will be more likely to want to purchase it. 

I also feel that it is important to invest in a good group of beta readers and ARC readers. My beta readers were friends and family who I felt comfortable reading my book before it was complete. They told me their thoughts, feelings and opinions about my book. I was able to discover problems that I was unable to see on my own and fix them before ever publishing my book. ARC (advanced reader’s copy) readers are people who you don’t know. You give them your book for free, and usually before it comes out, in exchange for a true and honest review. They help promote your book and leave reviews on Amazon and other platforms to help other readers see if they would be interested in reading your book. It also helps with your ranking on Amazon.

There are many ins and outs of publishing. Invest your time and possibly money into finding those recourses and studying what it is you will need to do to be successful. 

Good luck and happy writing! 

Dyslexia · My Books · My Story · New Author · Writing

Accidental Author

I never set out to be an author. The whole thing happened quite by accident.

In fact, if you had asked me what I wanted to be as a child, an author would have been the last thing on my mind. Don’t get me wrong I loved stories, at least in the form of dramatic play with my dolls, Barbie’s, stuffed animals or anything that was cute and needed a story. However, books were quite a mystery. Why anyone bothered to read those boring words was beyond me. I much preferred movies and my own made-up stories. Reading was much too hard.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I developed a love of reading (mainly due to my mother and sister, but that is another story). As my sister began reading to me, I suddenly realized that those words unfolded a whole new world of adventure, magic and fun. I simply couldn’t get enough of it.

Then in middle school the writing bug started to infect all my friends, especially as they discovered Harry Potter fan fiction. It seemed that all anyone could talk about was writing and Harry Potter. Several of my friends had decided that writing fan fiction was just the thing. We all had to do it! I quietly protested that writing our own stories was much better than using someone else’s ideas, but they couldn’t be swayed. We must get started right away and we could do it together.

Thus, the Harry Potter fanfic notebook was born. One day I was handed a blue notebook and told it was my turn to write the next part of the story. Four of us would be contributing to this tale. Nothing much was discussed other than we each had our own characters and would write the next part of the story when our turn came. Needless to say, we didn’t get very far. We passed the notebook around for a few weeks before things started to taper off. Two of the girls may have continued on, but I was much too concerned with having some kind of cohesive plot, so I didn’t mind when my next turn never came.

However, it did encourage many of us to start writing our own stories. I decided to start my own unique adventure. There was no need to copy some story that had already been told. My story was about a young girl (much like me) who was kidnapped by the evil villain, who had been following her and her friends (uncannily similar to my own friends) all around town. I wrote and wrote until nearly half the notebook was filled, except then I couldn’t figure out what to do once she had been kidnapped and was being transported to another world. I couldn’t wait to get to the other world but what to do while in the middle of space with only her kidnapper for company. Just how did one fill in all the middle bits?

In a fit of irritation and disillusionment, I tore the notebook into pieces. Whatever was happening was so bad that I didn’t think it was even worth saving. There were a few other weak attempts to rewrite the story, all met with failure.

Then one unsuspecting day in twelfth grade Humanities, my dabble with writing long forgotten, we were given an assignment to write our own creation myth. Excited, I started in on a story about the creation of fairies. I had this whole plan with how I was going to incorporate all of the elements that were needed.

Then I put fingers to the keyboard and… nothing.

I was stumped. How does one begin such a thing? Then pulling upon years of English class and the five-paragraph essay, I began. Except, unfortunately it sounded exactly like an English essay and nothing like a story, myth or otherwise.

Discouraged, I deleted the page I had managed to type and sighed. Writing a myth was turning out to be much more complicated than I had expected. Finally, after seeking help from several friends, I closed my eyes, pictured a scene, and began to write.

Thus, the dock scene was born. I imagined a girl sitting upon a dock watching the sunset. A name even popped into my head, Nyah. Footsteps echoed against the wood of the dock as they did in my mind and the scene continued to flow. Before I knew it, I had written several pages and class was over.

Except, as the days passed and I continued to think about my myth and slowly add to it, I began to worry. This whole thing felt much too large. How would I ever finish it on time? Besides, I felt like the story was straining to be more than a just creation myth.

Then one unsuspecting afternoon, my Humanities teacher announced that we didn’t have time to finish our myths, and after much deliberation, she had decided to cancel the assignment. However, if anyone wished to finish on their own time, then it would be extra credit.

I rejoiced. This was too good to be true. My myth had been set free! I no longer needed to force it into specific parameters. I could make it into the novel it had been yearning to become. Eagerly I typed out several more pages. Until I realized that I needed a new plot and more information to continue. Besides, I was getting ready to graduate, there simply wasn’t time to worry about writing a myth. So, there it sat for several months, waiting, but not quite forgotten.

I graduated and headed to college excited to start this new chapter of my life, writing a novel was far from my thoughts. Then during a fateful four hour bus ride home for the holidays, I had nothing to do but think, and nothing better to think about then the myth turned novel that had been stewing in the back of my mind for the better part of a year. Over the course of that bus ride, an exciting and complex plot began unfolding: Complete with magic, romance, plot twists, and a truly evil villain. Gone were the fairies (but maybe not completely) and a new story began to emerge.

I kept writing, slowly but surely, determined to finish this story that seemed to keep materializing. I wasn’t very far into it when I realized that several elements of this story were similar to many of the stories I had previously attempted to write, something about this tale was longing to be written.

About a year and a half later, I took a creative writing class and suddenly my myth turned novel began to take off. Thirty pages turned to sixty and sixty pages turned to ninety while the story continued to grow. Although this particular story (now a three-book series) still isn’t entirely finished, through writing this book, I discovered a joy of writing that I never thought possible and a barrage of story ideas just waiting to be written.

I will forever be grateful for that twelfth grade Humanities teacher who unknowingly provided me with an outlet to discover a talent I never knew I had. Without her, I never would have accidentally started a novel and discovered a love of writing that has prompted me to write several more stories and truly become an author.