Monday, December 5, 2016


Wow!  It's hard to believe I've been away from the blog for FOUR MONTHS!!! What have I been doing? Spending lots of time with my family and doing a lot of nothing. Catching up on some TV shows, a little reading, and lots of just hanging around. In other words, I was taking a much needed break.  But, now it's time to get back into the swing of things.

Katie, Kai, and I have been talking about #Inkripples topics for 2017, and I realized how much I've missed posting these last few months. I'm very excited about the upcoming topics, and hope you will be too!

But, before we get there, we have the last 2016 topic to tackle. Cookies.

Cookies are great! In fact, I indulged in two at work today (a wonderful and unexpected gift from a hockey-mom friend). Another great thing about cookies? Recipe swaps. One of the things I always enjoyed on my early twenties was getting the holiday themed romance book collection (3-5 stories in one book) with recipes from the authors. And if the food (cookie or pie or cake) was worked into the story, even better.

While I haven't worked a cookie recipe into a book (although there is a loose mac and cheese recipe in The Boyfriend Project) I thought I'd share a couple of holiday go to's for me.

This recipe has been passed down through my family and are a yearly favorite.  You may know them better as Peanut Butter Balls.

1/4 cup margerine
 2 cups confectioner's sugar
 2 cups peanut butter
 2 cups rice crispies
 Almond bark (or chocolate chips and wax), melted

Cream first three ingredients.  Add rice crispies.  Mix well.  Roll into balls.  Refrigerate 2 hours.  Dip in melted chocolate and set on wax paper.  Store in refrigerator. Notes:  When dipping them in the chocolate, we always stab the peanut butter ball in the center with a toothpick and dip it in the chocolate, leaving a small circular area uncovered- it makes it kind of look like an eye (hence the name).

 My son recently mentioned that this is his favorite cookie, so I see a batch of these in the near future! This recipe is from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book.

1 cup shortening (part butter or margarine)          
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar  
1 tsp. baking soda
 2 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt 
2 3/4 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar  
2 tsp. cinnamon

Heat oven to 400.  Mix shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and eggs thoroughly.  Blend flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in.  Shape dough in 1" balls.  Roll in mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  These cookies puff up at first, then flatten out.  Makes 6 dozen cookies.

 What are your favorite cookie recipes? Share in the comments below!! Be sure to check out Katie and Kai's posts. And stay tuned for the 2017 #Inkripple topics!!

Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted bKatie L. CarrollKai Strand, and me, Mary Waibel. We post on the first Monday of every month. If you would like to participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, include any of the images displayed on the #InkRipples tab above, and link back to our three blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation.

Monday, August 1, 2016

#InkRipples~Inspiration and Guilty Pleasures

[Wipes away the cobwebs hanging everywhere and shakes the dust from the curtains.]

Hi! I bet you thought I'd abandoned this place, didn't you? Well, I just took a short leave of absence. And now I'm back.

Because I missed last month's topic, I thought I'd give you a quick post on where I get inspiration before diving into this month's topic. I find inspiration everywhere. In a song. In a lyric. In an image. I once had a book idea come to me from a name in the credits at the end of a movie. I just need to find the time (and focus!) to develop the ideas I find.

Now, on to guilty pleasures. Here's a couple of mine!

First...Anime. I love to watch Anime. In fact, I just finished re-watching Vampire Knight for the somethingth time (yeah, I've lost count.) I don't know what it is about that show, but I can binge watch all 26 episodes in 2 days.

I also love Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. While I enjoyed Fullmetal Alchemist, it was almost like reading a draft of a finished novel when compared to Brotherhood. They share a similar story line, but Brotherhood was much more developed.  I highly recommend Brotherhood to anyone new to Anime. It's an amazing story you don't want to miss.

Second...Movies. Recently I've been obsessed with watching Pride and Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightly). I've been waiting for it to come back on Netflix, and in the meantime I watched Pride and Prejudice the mini-series with Colin Firth. While this had more character development, I still find myself partial to the Matthew MacFadyen's Mr. Darcy. (He's good to watch in Ripper Street, too!)

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

Don't forget to stop by Katie and Kai's blogs to see their guilty pleasures!

Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Katie L. CarrollKai Strand, and me, Mary Waibel. We post on the first Monday of every month. If you would like to participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, include any of the images displayed on the #InkRipples tab above, and link back to our three blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation.

Monday, June 6, 2016


Wow! It's hard to believe an entire month has gone by already. Don't look, but we're almost halfway through the year. Didn't it just start a few weeks ago???

As Katie and Kai pointed out on twitter...I've been slacking. But, not with my #InkRipples posts (although this one is going up later in the day than usual.)

This month, we're talking movies.

I love movies. Truth be told, I prefer to watch them at home, but I've made it out to the theater for three flicks so far this year. What have I watched?

Deadpool. Superman vs. Batman. Captain America: Civil War.

Okay, so I have a thing for comic book/action movies. But, those aren't the only movies I've watched this year. I also watched Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightly and Matthew MacFayden one) on Netflix. If I'd see the movie first, I'd probably have liked the book better as I really like this movie (and may have rewatched it a couple times).

The hubby and I watched I'll Follow You Down on Amazon. This is a time travel/sci-fi movie. And, while I'm really hit and miss with Sci-fi, I really enjoyed this movie.

Of course, having been out to the movies, I've made an "I want to see" list that contains the following:

X-Men: Apacalypse
Star Trek: Beyond
Suicide Squad
Jason Bourne
Doctor Strange
Rogue One

What movies have you seen this year? What are you looking forward to seeing? What's the one movie you have to stop and watch when you find it on TV (or Netflix or Amazon)?

Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Katie L. CarrollKai Strand, and me, Mary Waibel. We post on the first Monday of every month. If you would like to participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, include any of the images displayed on the #InkRipples tab above, and link back to our three blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation.

Monday, May 2, 2016

#InkRipples - Memories

Memories. I've been thinking about memories a lot lately. Especially how they can change as we age.

A few weeks ago I began to wonder if one of my memories from my childhood had been made up, and it made me realize just how fragile our memories are.  Fortunately my memories weren't made up,  but the sad truth is that the memories of someone close to me are fading and changing.

Memories, like time, are fleeting. Snippets of our past that slip through our fingers like sand. The tighter we try to hold on to them, the faster they seem to race away. Still, I treasure the memories I have...even when I question the truth of them.

I'm no stranger to thinking about memories. Lost memories play an important part in  Charmed Memories, the second novel of my Princess of Valendria series. Imagine what you would do if suddenly you had no memory of your past, not even your name. Would you search until you learned who you were or would you turn your back on the past and create a new life? No spoilers'll have to read Charmed Memories to see what Bri does.

Do you treasure your memories? Have you ever doubted yours? Have you ever lost yours? What would you do if you did lose your memories? Share in the comments below.

In closing, last month's topic of poetry must have intrigued my muse, as I felt inclined to try my hand at writing a poem. So, here is my attempt at a poem on memories.


                       Inscribe on my soul the deeds of my youth,
                       so when I am old I can recall their truths.

                       Etch on my heart the joys and the sorrows
                       I shared with family and friends
                      for me to savor when my time is near end.

                      Allow not time to mar these marks on my soul and heart,
                      for if they are damaged what shall I recall of my past
                      before I depart?

Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Katie L. Carroll, Kai Strand, and me, Mary Waibel. We post on the first Monday of every month. If you would like to participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, include any of the images displayed on the #InkRipples tab above, and link back to our three blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Happily Ever After~ Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip

It's time to see if Princess Aurora (AKA Sleeping Beauty) and Prince Phillip would make a good couple. Using my less than scientific scale of points from the following categories:

Decision Making Skills
Respect of Others
Sense of Responsibility
Compassion Towards Others

and the assigned point values (0-5) let's see if this couple can get within five points of each other, my litmus test for the perfect couple. If you recall from my post on Snow White and the Prince, the close the points, the better the relationship balance, and in my opinion, the better chance for happy ever after.

Edward Frederick Brewtnall
Princess Aurora: 15/20
While Princess Aurora is on screen more than the Prince (from Snow White), you don't see enough of her interactions with others to make a good judge of her character. In fact, while watching the movie, I found that it seemed to be more about the fairies than Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip...but maybe that was just me :-)

Decision Making Skills 3/5
Aurora, like Snow White, makes some poor choices that cause her to risk her life (and those of her people) to the evil fairy's plan.

Respect of Others 4/5 
We don't get to see much interaction between Aurora and others in the movie, but what we do see shows that she has great respect for those in her life (human, fairy, and animal).

Sense of Responsibility 3/5
While we see that Aurora has no problem with the chores assigned to her, we get a glimpse that she would forsake all of her responsibilities as a princess for the man she met in the woods. 

Compassion Towards Others 4/5
Aurora seems to have compassion toward the fairies that guard her and her animal friends from the forest. She also accepts her true identity with little question or fuss, accepting that her years of living in the forest were for her safety. (hmmm...I feel a story brewing here :-) )

Prince Phillip: 18/20
For me, Prince Phillip is the man that all princes should be compared to. He is the prince of all princes, the one to compare all future Disney (and other company) princes to. After looking at his scores, I'm sure you can see why I think this.

Decision Making Skills 4/5
Prince Phillip shows excellent decision making skills. Even though he longs to go and find the girl from the woods, and break off the engagement his parents made when he was a boy, he chooses to risk his life to save Aurora's kingdom.

Respect of Others 5/5
Phillip shows great respect for others. From the respect he shows Briar Rose (AKA Princess Aurora) while dancing, to his treatment of Sampson (his horse) and the way he respectfully disagrees with his father, he treats all with great respect.

Sense of Responsibility 4/5
Prince Phillip knows what is expected of him as a prince, and he's willing to risk all to save Aurora. Yet, he would give it all up for the peasant girl he met in the woods. Fortunately for him, Briar Rose and Princess Aurora are one and the same. But one can't help but wonder what he would have chosen were they two different people.

Compassion Towards Others 5/5
Phillip has great compassion towards others. He dances with a stranger in the woods. Fights a dragon for the woman he loves. What more could he do to show his compassion for others?

My un-scientific review shows that Aurora and Phillip have a high percentage of obtaining happy ever after. Being older, Phillip should have better decision making skills, and I believe that his strength there, as well as with his sense of responsibility, will help balance out Aurora, making them a good couple.

Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Monday, April 4, 2016


Poetry. The art of using as few words as possible to create a a feeling in the reader. An art that can create powerful feelings that last a lifetime.

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." 

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

These two famous poems are the first to come to mind when I think of poetry. The first, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, has always spoken to the romantic in me. Who wouldn't want to be told all the ways that someone loved them?

The second, by Robert Frost, is the poem that most defines poetry for me. The imagery used by Mr. Frost painted a pictured of the road in the woods, and the two different paths he could choose from. With just one hundred and fort-four words, Mr. Frost painted an image within my mind that has stayed with me since the first time I heard this poem.

I am not a poet. I cannot seem to find the way to paint my pictures with so few words. Those who have the ability to craft such powerful images with so few words amaze and humble me.

How about you? Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Share who/what in the comments. Do you write poetry? Share a few lines for us to enjoy.

Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Katie L. Carroll, Kai Strand, and me, Mary Waibel. We post on the first Monday of every month. If you would like to participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, include any of the images displayed on the #InkRipples tab above, and link back to our three blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sleeping Beauty and the Working Women of 1959

The 1950's is often cited as one of the best decades to have lived and/or grown up in. Who hasn't watched Happy Days or Grease and felt the nostalgia of life in the '50's? Disney released Sleeping Beauty in 1959, near the end of this iconic decade. So, how well does Princess Aurora represent the women of 1959?

Vogel, H. (Hermann) (1856-1918)
While many women entered the workforce during World War II, the most common job held by a woman in 1959 was that of housewife and mother. Women did work outside the home, including as nurses and teachers, but they didn't have the same job choices as the women of today have. Few were doctors, professors, or business executives--positions many women hold in today's society.

By Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M (Flickr: Data Processing Machine) 
Keeping these norms in mind, I think Aurora is a good representation of the women of this decade. Her parents' goal is to marry her off so she can raise a family of her own. Now, being royal, Aurora lives a privileged life and doesn't have to work. But, while hiding away with the fairies in the woods, we see her performing the more traditional housekeeping role that has become associated with women from this time period.

If Disney's was making this film today, I don't see where there would be many differences to the tale. They didn't change much of Aurora's role from the story told by Perrault, so unless you recast the roles so that the princess saves the prince, Aurora would remain pretty much as she is.

Do you think Aurora was a good representation of women in 1959? What changes do you see being made if the movie release today? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy Book Birthday, FINDING THOR!!!!

I can't believe it's been one year since this amazing book released. Have you found your Thor? Kai wants to help with that. Be sure to check out the giveaway below my interview with the fun and talented Kai Strand.

International intrigue hits small-town America.

Tragedy has left Cara Cassidy broken and the only thing keeping her from giving in completely is her guilt. Until Nik Rock.

Nik stirs up feelings in degrees she has never experienced, and causes her to do things that most assuredly give him the wrong impression – like kiss him before their first date. Somehow, he breaks down the walls around her emotions until she has no choice but to forgive herself and feel again.

But a mysterious, troubled past follows Nik, and Cara may prove to be his weakest link.

When a royal princess shows up looking for Nik, and an international gang arrives looking for missing jewels, Cara lands in mortal danger. Will she be able to save herself? What will happen to her newly repaired psyche if she loses Nik?

Romance, mystery, and high stakes – just another day in high school.

Mary: Congratulations on the one-year anniversary of Finding Thor’s publication!!!

Kai: Thanks, Mary. These milestones in an author’s career are fun to celebrate. In December I celebrated five years as a published author. Five years already! Wow.

Mary:Wow! That's great! Speaking of great, Finding Thor is a great romance. And, since we’re talking about celebrating, what is your favorite wedding anniversary celebration?

Kai: So far my favorite celebration was for our 20th wedding anniversary. We went on an Alaskan cruise and it was amazing! Very romantic, too. We used the formal dinner night as our official celebration. It was fun to be all decked out with my hunky hubby on a fancy cruise ship. 

What about you?

Mary: Aww, what a cute couple! We went to Pittsburgh for our 15th anniversary, and stayed at this really cool B&B in the Mexican War district. We had fun walking around the city, and had a romantic dinner on the hill overlooking Point State Park. We’re talking about going to Vegas in a few years for our 25th, but so far Pittsburgh is the one to top.

I noticed in Finding Thor that Cara and Nik don’t really seem to get a chance to celebrate much. I bet Nick would pull out all the stops for a romantic evening with Cara.

Kai: You’re right on both counts. They’re too busy with car chases and kidnappings to go out for a romantic dinner. But Nik is pretty old fashioned and downright swoony, so I know he has it in him.

Mary: I see you’re giving away a super cool Thor cap as part of the Finding Thor swag pack. 
I’ve always wondered, out of all the superheroes, why Thor?

Kai: Really, Mary? You have to ask? It’s Thor! I might have a bit of a thing for Marvel’s Thor. And that thing might have gotten even more manic when Chris Hemsworth started to portray him. I’m a puddle.

But as far as my main character Cara is concerned, she has always been obsessed with comic books – Thor being her favorite, too. She always envisioned love as Thor, slamming his hammer into the earth, and the vibration resonating within her for a lifetime. She never expected love would be a thousand tiny actions from a normal boy. It was kind of like that for me IRL. My husband and I were friends before we started dating. He went out of his way to do things for me (fix a flat tire, drive me two hours to the airport, etc) that I always assumed were friendship things, but other people always took as signs that he had a thing for me. I was totally oblivious – until I wasn’t.

Mary: I love that image of the vibrations of love. I met my husband on a blind date, but like with Cara, it was the little things over time that made me fall in love.

Come fall in love with Cara and Nik. Mystery, love, car chases, and everyday superheroes. What more do you need? Check out the excerpt below, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!!!

Thanks so much for stopping in to share your anniversary celebration with us, Kai. Congratulations on Finding Thor’s first birthday!

Kai: Thanks for hosting me. And good luck to your readers in the giveaway!

The veil dropped over Nik’s expression so fast, it told her exactly what she didn’t want to know. Nik had indeed seen her mom. Cara turned away from him again intending to trudge back into the classroom.

“By the crown, will you stop already?” Nik begged.

The exasperation in his tone and the odd choice of words piqued her curiosity. Cocking her head, she asked, “By the crown?”

The frustration melted away and Nik pursed his lips, which almost distracted Cara enough to forget the thread of conversation, but she tore her eyes away and asked, “Is that what they say in Seattle?”

Nik’s eyes lit with appreciation. “Aren’t you clever?”

“Am I?”

He nodded. His appreciative appraisal and half smile wreaked havoc with her supposed cleverness.

“Nik?” she breathed.

“Yes?” He tilted toward her giving her the impression he hung on her every word. His eyes were glued to her lips, which she realized were parted and ever so slightly panting.

She gulped. “Can we perhaps do this after school?”

When he raised his gaze to meet hers she almost liquefied under the heat of it. “Can I trust you?”

“Trust me to do what?” Cara asked. She was losing the ability to think.

“Show up.” He slid closer and she held her breath hoping he would take her in his arms.

“Show up where?” she asked.

A full-blown grin curved across his face and she thrilled with the knowledge she’d put it there. Then she realized she couldn’t remember how.

“Actually, I was going to ask you that,” Nik said. His eyes roved her face.

“Wait. What?” Cara’s voice was so breathy she wasn’t sure if she spoke or gasped.

“Where should we meet? After school.”

She itched to rise up on tiptoe and kiss that stellar grin off his mouth.

A low chuckle rumbled through him. “Why don’t you tell me in gym class?”

She nodded slowly. Was he a drug? Or maybe the male version of a siren. Did they have those?

He tipped further forward and she caught her breath. Then he sighed.

“See you next period.”

Her mouth fell open as he walked away. He hadn’t even touched her and she was burning with need.

At the end of the hall, he glanced over his shoulder and grinned when he saw her still gaping after him. When he walked out of view she let out the breath she’d been holding. It stuttered and shook, but was relieved to escape her burning lungs. How long had she been holding her breath?

By the crown, Nik Rock was dangerous!

Finding Thor is available in print or electronic format from the following:

Amazon| Barnes & Noble| Whiskey Creek Press| All Romance| BookStrand|

Add Finding Thor to your to-read shelf on Goodreads

About the author:

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website,

Mailing List| Facebook| Twitter| Instagram|

Swag alert! Looking for your Thor? Look no further, Kai’s got you covered. Enter to win a custom tote bag for all of those books you like to carry with you, and a Thor baseball cap. Easy entry for those in a hurry, or many other ways to earn more entries for contest junkies. FT swag pack can only be shipped in the United States. If first winner is International, an Amazon gift card will be substituted and another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 7, 2016


I'm late putting my post up today because I had a difficult time figuring out what I wanted to say about this month's topic: Feminism.

In fact, I skimmed through Katie and Kai's posts before sitting down to write my own. (And yes, I'll go back and read them thoroughly, and suggest you do as well. They both have a great take on the topic.)

I write stories with strong female leads, so it seems like the topic of feminism would be easy for me to discuss. But, this is a controversial issue, and while I'd like to blame my dislike of conflict for my avoidance of the topic, it's more that I'm not sure how to get my thoughts across, but I'll do my best.

When I sat down to write this post, I looked up the definition of feminism, hoping something there would give me that "ah-ha" moment and I'd know what to say. defines feminism as the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

A pretty straight forward definition. Equality for all. It reminds me of when I was in high school and we had an assembly where we were shown how orchestra members were chosen. A blackout screen was set up and musicians stood behind it and played, being judged on their merits of performance, not appearance. To me, it was a demonstration of the best way to choose someone for any job. Based solely on their abilities. Something I still believe in to this day.

But something else happened that stuck with me. I remember as one person approached, and the sound of their heels clicked through the room, the conductor commented that the person should have worn flats, or something quieter so as not to give away their gender. And I wondered why the sound of the shoes should make any difference to the quality of the performance. Honestly, it shouldn't, but there probably are some people who would judge them different for being a woman. Some would use it as a reason to add an inferior performance, giving exceptions because they were a woman and wanted to reward them for that. And others might find an excellent performance lacking, because they perceived that a man could perform it better.

Both of these actions are wrong, and I think the reason that the feminist movement is such a controversial topic. I think many people see feminism being used to further women into positions that they might not earn on their own merits. As a woman, I'm offended when another woman is given something (job, title, bonus, etc.) just because she's a woman. It's wrong and doesn't further equality between genders, in fact, in my opinion, it only widens the gap.

The other issue I have with feminism, is that to me it doesn't seem to apply to all women world wide. There are places on the globe where women are still treated as little more than property, and yet some of the loudest proponents of women's rights in this country turn a blind eye to the inequality of their situation. It makes me question why it's alright for those women to be treated in a manner that most of the free world abolished two centuries ago. Why do those women deserve to be left so far behind the rest of us? That doesn't seem very equal to me.

I guess all this is my way of saying that we treat people as a whole different (men/women, rich/poor, insert comparison here), and I believe it's because we spend so much time focusing on our differences rather than on the things we have in common. And that the focus on these differences serves to divide us further, rather than help us unite toward a common goal.

What do you think? Do you think things would improve if we worked at focusing on our commonalities more than our differences? If we shared our strengths, merging our weak and strong points together to make a united front? I know in the fiction I write, this is what I try to do with my characters. Balance them out so each fulfills a need the others has and becomes the best version of themselves.

They save fiction imitates life. So, do you think we could work on imitating that and leave all the labels that mark our differences behind?

Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Katie L. Carroll, Kai Strand, and me, Mary Waibel. We post on the first Monday of every month. If you would like to participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, include any of the images displayed on this page, and link back to our three blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Sleeping Beauty: Disney vs Perrault

This month I'm focusing on Sleeping Beauty. So let's dive in and look at the differences in the tales by Charles Perrault and the Grimm brothers and the 1959 Disney animated movie.

Both the Perrault and Grimm story versions contain more fairies (8 and 13 respectively), whereas Disney chose to focus on four: three good and one evil. And while both Perrault and the Grimms chose to mention how the King and Queen struggled to conceive a child, this is left out of the animated version.

The story of how the fairies were invited vary in the print versions, but the "evil" fairy always bestows her curse before the final fairy has given her blessing. Disney leaves out the invitation part, but the gift bestowing seems to match well with Perrault and Grimm.

Disney lets us see Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora's first meeting (he as a young boy and she a baby), using the traditional promising of marriage to form an alliance, something neither text makes mention of.

The pricking of the finger on the spindle is the same in all stories, but Disney sets up a unique villainess in Maleficent. Neither of these tales mention a dragon or have the prince slay any creatures to rescue the princess. Instead,  the tales penned by Perrault and the Grimm brothers, have one hundred years pass before a prince from a foreign land finds the princess and wakes her. There are some other versions where the prince/king who finds the Sleeping Beauty behave very dishonorably, but that is not the case in these two tales.

Henry Meynell Rheam
Disney's version of things after the finger pricking creates a completely new version of the tale. Prince Phillip, Aurora's betrothed and her mystery man from the woods, slays the dragon and saves the girl he loves.

For me, while quite different than the original tales, the addition of defeating the dragon and the nod to the "true love conquers all" theme make for a wonderful change (one I played off of in Quest of the Hart). 

Disney gives a nice nod to the Grimm Brother's by having Aurora use the name Briar Rose while in hiding (this is the name the Grimm's used after the spell took place.)

The biggest difference I noticed was in the ending. Disney's ending followed the Grimm brother's ending more than Perrault's. In the Perrault tale, the prince and princess spend time getting to know each other before marrying and reaching their happy-ever-after.

What differences did you notice in the stories and film adaptation? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and don't forget to stop back next week to see what I learned about women in the workplace in 1959.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Great Weekend Read!

Looking for a book for the weekend? How about one with two hot guys to choose from and a story line that involves pirates and a biblical prophecy? 

A power as old as King Solomon awakens when a seventeen-year-old girl marks the brooding hot abductor ordered to seize her. 

Addie Heaton’s not your average high school student. Orphaned at two, she’s spent most of her life reading the emotions of others. It’s a little trick she likes to call color-vision. But lately, a stranger has been trailing her, putting off shades of black and red—colors Addie hasn’t seen since the night her parents were killed—colors Addie never wanted to see again. 

But when Addie comes face to face with Conal Reed, owner of the terrifying shades, she learns her stranger’s a little different too. He’s brooding hot, mysterious, and all too elusive. Conal loves to materialize, and then vanish at all the wrong times. Nice. 


After years of keeping her ability a secret, Addie’s found another person with gifts, someone who may know what she really is. But Conal’s not talking. He’s having more fun showing up uninvited, teasing her senses, and disappearing at all the wrong times. Instead of finding answers, Addie finds herself reconsidering ever being alone and naked again.

Don't miss The Bone Treaty, by TC McKee. On sale at AMAZON for $0.99!!!!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Once Upon a Time ~ Sleeping Beauty

Up next in my study of fairy tales turned animated films is Sleeping Beauty. The 1959 Disney film is based on La Belle au Boir Dormant by Charles Perrault that can be found here.

It also has some elements from the Grimm Brother's Briar Rose, which can be found here.

There are many other variants to the story, including ones that are very dark. You can find more on them here.

Come back next week to compare the written tales and the animated film.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Something in the Water by Ben Starling

Today, I'm happy to introduce Ben Starling to the blog. Welcome Ben! Tell us a little about yourself. When you're not writing, what do you like to do?

Analyse boxing techniques on online. I used to coach and box competitively until a few years ago. Many people see only the force and lightning speed of boxing. But it is a beautiful sport in many ways too if you understand and watch for the underlying strategy in each play.

I loved watching boxing with my dad when I was younger. Brings back some great memories. What have you been working on recently? Can you tell us about your new release?

Something in the Water is fundamentally a love story—with a bit of adventure in the tropics thrown in too. Here’s the blurb:

The sealed box Teal finds in the street contains more than just a mystery…

What if to be with the man of your dreams…you had to give up your life? 

On the verge of losing her job, side-lined journalist Teal is forced to travel to the South Pacific to profile a powerful businessman. But with her almost-but-not-quite fiancé Bear discouraging her every step of the way, she may not be able to save her career or her relationship. 

When corporate criminals invade paradise, Teal teams up with a former 
boxer turned marine-biologist to investigate. As she discovers the true intentions behind their new canning operations, she must either accept the plum promotion that will save her career or—with Perry—defend the island with more than her life.

Something in the Water, An Ocean Romance is available on Amazon. 

Oh! I see the boxing tie-in now. Who will this story appeal to? 

Those who love the works of Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts and Colleen Hoover.

I'm a huge Nora Roberts fan. Can't wait to see where you take me with this story, Ben! What inspired you to become an author?

An accidental long-term commitment to simplicity. It’s an occupation that lends itself to a lifestyle de-emphasizing material possessions and that promotes time for reflection. It’s so easy, so compelling to get caught up in the rush of city life, so difficult to wind down and be mindful of the little things, the simple things. The things which make life worthwhile.

Interesting. I know my life is quite complicated at times and I miss the simple things. It's always nice to take that break that brings you back to a simpler place and time. I imagine your lifestyle gives you time to reflect on all kinds of advice. What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Swim 60 lengths every morning before writing.

I'd love to, if I had access to a pool. I'd miss working on my form. Speaking of form, what is your favorite literary form to write?

I enjoy everything, everything. I’ve written poetry, a screenplay, a novella, short stories, non-fiction articles. There is something to learn from everything. Every form teaches something new and informs the next project’s challenges. Poetry teaches imagery and rhythm. Short stories hone tight scene writing. Novels need structure and pace. Structure and pace lift poetry…

I’m currently writing a Valentine’s Day poem—it’s being written over several days in the lead up to the big day. I am releasing it stanza by stanza daily on my facebook page.

That is so cool! Where can we check it out? 

Visit me at to follow a new kind of event-a Valentine’s Poetry Writing Reality Show!

Is there anything you MUST have in order to write?

Silence. Frequent breaks. Occasional chocolate. Encouragement from my editor and beta readers. More chocolate…

I'm sensing a theme here :-) What can we look forward to next from you?

Something in the Water will be supported by a series of short stories that reveal the backstories of the major characters in this world.

The first in the series, Something in the Air, is available now free at my website as well as free on Kobo (and also available at Amazon). The second short story in the series, Something on the Fly, will be released in the Spring!

Where can we find these books?

Something in the Water - available on Amazon

Something in the Air –  available for FREE at, Kobo It's also available at Amazon, for $0.99

Something on the Fly – coming soon!

Care to share a snippet from Something in the Water?


Something in the Water – Chapter 1 begins…

New York, September

He didn’t look like the hotel guests, the business people, or the tourists. He didn’t move like them either.

He brushed past me as I climbed off my Vespa, stilettos in hand, outside the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria. Had he smiled at the radiance of my scarlet ball gown? Or was he amused by my battered Converse sneakers?

As a valet approached to take my scooter and helmet, I spotted my boss, Malcolm, waving hello from the lobby. He was approaching the glass doors that separated us when I noticed a small wooden box on the ground. Two steps later, I had picked it up. Who could have dropped it?

No one was close by, so I turned. The only man who’d passed me was already a half block away, gliding beside the cars that waited for the lights to change at the end of the block. Was it his?

What I knew for sure was that now wasn’t the time to be tracking down the little box’s owner. I should hand it in to reception and concentrate on the evening ahead. For a few seconds, I relaxed as I studied the hotel’s confident, soaring opulence—a world unknown to me before my arrival from Nantucket four years ago. The smooth texture of the box, however, drew my thoughts back to it. Was there something valuable inside? What if it did belong to that man, and he never returned to collect it? I turned the box over—and caught my breath.

“How on earth…?”

Malcolm emerged in front of me. “Hello, darling, you look absolutely—are you okay?”

I thrust my sparkly evening shoes into his hands, and hitched up my shawl. I was about to give chase when a convertible Ferrari lurched to a stop beside me.

“Going my way, babe?” its driver shouted, over the thrum of the engine.

But my dress was redder, and I got the better start.

Read the rest of Something in the Water, Chapter 1 at

Ben Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his upcoming novel. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades. He is Oxford’s only ever quintuple boxing Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and competed until a few years ago. He is 6’3”and 192 lbs. Ben graduated with a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.

Connect with Ben at:

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happily Ever After? ~ Snow White and The Prince

And they lived happily ever after. Or so the story says, but did they? 

What makes a good couple? For me, I think a good couple is evenly balanced. And by that I mean that they share the power of the relationship. When I write couples into my stories, I try to make sure that my strong characters are matched with a strong counterpart. If my female MC is a warrior princess, she would tromp all over a weak-willed servant, and the relationship wouldn't work. It would be out of balance. I'm not saying she has to be paired with a prince, but she needs to be paired with someone who equals her strengths or balances her.

In order to see if the characters would be well matched as a couple, I needed some sort of criteria to judge their individual strengths. I thought about what traits believed a strong character would demonstrate and came up with the following criteria to judge:

Decision Making Skills
Respect of Others
Sense of Responsibility
Compassion Towards Others

I assigned points (0-5) for how I thought each character rated in the four areas and then totaled up the values for each character. If the point values ended up close (within 5 points) I'd say that we have a well matched couple. The closer the points, the better the relationship balance.

So, how did Snow White and The Prince fair in my non-scientific and totally subjective test?

By Aida McKenzie 

Snow White: 16/20

Decision Making Skills: 3/5 Snow White made a good decision to run from the Huntsman and to stay with the Seven Dwarfs, but then she started making some pretty bad decisions. Not listening to the dwarfs about dealing with strangers harmed her at least three times in the Grimm brother’s tale, and once in the Disney animation.

Respect of Others: 4/5 Snow White is very respectful of others, in fact, this is part of what gets her in trouble with the disguised evil queen. Snow White doesn’t want to be rude to her elder, and the evil queen plays upon this to achieve her goal of eliminating Snow White from the picture.

Sense of Responsibility: 4/5 Snow White shows a good sense of responsibility. She takes it upon herself to clean the dwarfs home in the movie, and agrees to clean the home in the book. However, she doesn’t seem to have a sense of responsibility toward the people of her kingdom, as she fled for her life and has made no plans on how to return to her kingdom. Granted, she was a princess who would most likely be married off to form an alliance with another kingdom, but there is nothing in the story or movie to show she has any thoughts of returning from hiding.

Compassion Toward Others: 5/5 Snow White takes care of the dwarfs, she is kind to the old woman (evil queen), and is shown in the animated tale as someone the animals love and trust. She even seems worried about the Huntsman who tried to kill her. If that doesn’t show compassion, then I don’t know what does!

The Prince: 8*/20

Decision Making Skills: We do not see enough of The Prince to know how his decision making skills are.

Respect of Others: 4/5
While the Prince is only onscreen for a few minutes, the way he treats the Seven Dwarves and Snow White shows at least some semblance of an upbringing that taught respect for others. He is polite and doesn’t just barge in demanding things, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here and granting him almost perfect at respect.

Sense of Responsibility: We do not see enough of The Prince to know how his decision making skills are.

Compassion Toward Others: 4/5 Given that he stopped in a clearing to see the presumably dead Snow White and offer his respects, I find that shows a sense of compassion.

Overall Assessment: It is difficult to say whether or not Snow White and The Prince are suited for each other. We never learn enough about The Prince to know if there would be a power imbalance. The happily-ever-after ending in both the animated movie and the original tale relies too much on magic and insta-love to give an accurate assessment of the couple. However, if the prince has good decision making skills and at least a moderate sense of responsibility it appears the two would be better suited than what we see now.

What do you think? Are Snow White and The Prince the perfect couple? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Monday, February 1, 2016

#InkRipples~ Chocolate!

Chocolate. Just hearing the word makes my mouth water for a piece of that creamy, cocoa confection of awesome-sauce.

In case you can’t tell, I LOVE chocolate. In fact, I’m always amazed when people say they don’t like it. I’m like, really? How can you not like this amazing food?

I have author friends who have to have chocolate covered espresso beans or a piece of a specific brand of chocolate during their writing sessions. Other friends use it as a reward system: if I get ‘X’ words done, or if I write myself out of this scene I’m stuck in, I can have a piece of chocolate.

I don’t do either of those things. If I’m writing, I tend not to eat, and my coffee/tea goes cold as it sits untouched at my side. If I’m stuck, I get up from the keyboard and do something else while my subconscious works on my problem. For me, while I love chocolate, it isn’t a motivator or a “must have.”

Anyway, back to chocolate. Mm. Chocolate.

When I think of chocolate, I think of goodies. And that makes me think of cooking or baking. Being a kid and spending some time in the kitchen with my mom.

One of the earliest recipes I learned was for a form of chocolate cookie called “No Bakes.” My mom used to make these all the time. They’re quick and super easy to make. In fact, this recipe I pulled from Quaker’s website is just like my mom and I used to make!

No Bakes

2 Cup(s) granulated sugar
8 Tablespoon(s) (1 stick) margarine or butter
1/2 Cup(s) Low-fat milk
1/3 Cup(s) baking cocoa
3 Cup(s) Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)

PREPARATION:In large saucepan, combine sugar, margarine, milk and cocoa. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Continue boiling 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in oats.* Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper. Let stand until firm. Store tightly covered.

*If using old fashioned oats, cool mixture in saucepan 5 minutes.

Don't forget to swing by Katie and Kai's blog for their chocolate themed posts. If you're tossing your own ripple, be sure to leave me a link in the comments and don't forget to tag #InkRipples!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Release~Dear Diary, EP Thompson Here by Judith Natelli McLaughlin

Congratulations to Judith Natelli McLaughlin on the release of her MG novel, Dear Diary, E.P. Thompson Here.

Back Cover Blurb

Dear Diary,

E. P. Thompson here.

Worst. Year. Ever. First semester in sixth grade, and my best friend Debbie has dropped me because my boobs aren’t big enough. Well, she didn’t say that exactly, but I just know that’s the reason. Then I got paired with Adam Berry, the biggest pencil-protecting geek of the decade, for the never-ending, semester-long math project. And as if that’s not bad enough, Thomas Maxwell, the cutest boy in my grade, only pays attention to me when I’m making a total fool of myself. Ugh.

Weirdest thing of all: it seems Lucas C. Tanner Middle School has a full-on, bona fide thief! Now all the teachers are going crazy and all the students are too, because Mrs. Peule has promised to make this year a living nightmare until the culprit is caught.

We have to find out who is ruining sixth grade. Like, now!

Well, at least the criminal activity has taken the focus off my lack of bra ownership.


I have to go. I’ll write again soon. Promise.

Get your copy today at AMAZON 

About The Author

Judith Natelli McLaughlin grew up reading a solid diet of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, and Shel Silverstein. Her mom was famous for telling her, "You are never alone if you have a book," and her dad, a lover of words, was always reciting poetry to her.
She went on to write, illustrate, and publish her own poetry book,Poems on Fruits and Odes to Veggies—Where Healthy Eating Starts With a Poem. Her other works include a women’s fiction novel titled This Moment and a soon to be released children’s chapter book, Mackenzie Goode Makes A Mistake—A Big One.

She lives in New Jersey with her husband Brian; her three daughters Katie, Lindsay, and Maggie; and her faithful writing companion, a Westie named Duke.

Find Her Online:

TWITTER: @judynmclaughlin

Monday, January 25, 2016

I’ve recently begun to wonder how accurate my view of the role of women in the 1930’s (and other decades) truly is. I’ve always assumed that women were housewives and didn’t work outside the house, yet at the same time I knew that couldn’t be completely true. Women were nurses, and teachers, and librarians, and secretaries. Heck, during WWI and WWII, they worked in the factories while the men went overseas to fight in the war.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints 
I can hear you asking, “But Mary, what does this have to do with Snow White?” Well, let me explain.

When I first came up with the idea for these posts, I thought it would be interesting to see how the role of women in society was reflected (or not) in these classic stories and movies. Did the female MC role development from damsel in distress to savior of the prince/kingdom follow the changing role of women in society? Well, if you go by the dates the stories were written, the answer would be no.  But I’ll talk more about that when we get to Mulan. For now, let’s take a look at Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

"Offterdinger Schneewitchen (2)" by Offterdinger 

In the Disney animation film of 1937, Snow White is portrayed as a domestic worker. She cooks and cleans for the dwarfs in exchange for her room and board. How does that relate to women in the 1930’s? According to the US Census, out of the eleven million working women (24.3% of women 14 and older) almost ⅓ worked in domestic or personal service. Therefore, I find that Snow White is a good reflection of society’s perception of the working woman.

But, then Prince Charming comes into the picture, and things change. It isn’t a leap to assume that Snow White marries Charming and leaves her working days behind her. And, in the 1930’s, it appears to have been similar for the working woman.

It was frowned upon for married women to hold jobs. Single, working women were seen as “helping out their families”, yet a married, working woman was perceived as “taking a job from a man”. During the Depression, laws were even created to prevent more than one family member from working for the government.

"Franz Jüttner Schneewittchen 2" by Franz Jüttner
In conclusion, it appears that Snow White is a good representation of women in the 1930’s. I also believe that if Snow White was adapted to the screen today, there would be some stark differences in the way the famous Disney Princess would be portrayed. Our movies have moved away from the helpless damsel-in-distress to women who can and do fight for what they want/need. Not that they don't ask for or receive help, but they aren't waiting on the sidelines for the guy to save the day. I think a modern interpretation of Snow White would have a smarter heroine, one who didn't fall so easily for the evil queen's tricks. What do you think?