Genre: Retellings

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Stepsister’s Tale Tour Stop: Guest Post + Giveaway!

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Today we’ve got the author of The Stepsister’s Tale on the blog to talk to us about the challenges she had while writing this book, then you can enter to win! 😉

The Stepsister’s Tale Tour Stop: Guest Post + Giveaway!The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett
Published by Harlequin Teen on June 24th 2014
Genres: Retellings, YA
Buy on Amazon

What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family's struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane's stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate...

From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett's stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.

Guest Post by Tracy Barrett

The biggest challenges of writing this book

The Stepsister’s Tale took me a long, long time to write. I think that from the time I started it to the time when I signed the publishing contract was seven years! I don’t mean that I wrote all day, every day for seven years, though—I’d write for a while and hit a snag and put it away for a few months, and then take it out and delete a lot of it and write some more and hit another snag. Finally, with help from my agent, Lara Perkins, I managed to whip it into shape and get it submitted to Annie Stone, my editor at Harlequin TEEN, who identified some of the things I hadn’t been able to fix earlier and gave me guidance about how to make them better.

It’s hard to identify the single biggest challenge to writing this story. I can identify three, though, that really got in my way:

1. One of the hardest things was making sure that Jane stayed front and center. Isabella kept trying to steal Jane’s thunder and get all the attention, so I had to remind myself that this was Jane’s story, not Isabella’s. Cinderella has already had her turn! Jane had to have as rich an inner life as any Cinderella who’s ever been written about or filmed, and as many dreams, as many difficulties to go through, as much triumph.

2. Since I don’t know of any version of the story (and believe me, I’ve read a lot of them) where Cinderella is anything other than good and sweet and put-upon and I had decided to write a counterpoint to that, I kept making her worse and worse until she was positively demonic! I had to pull back and make her human—a bit spoiled, perhaps, and sometimes bratty, but not evil. Lara was especially helpful in identifying ways to do this.

3. The challenge that made me get stuck the longest was near the end. If Cinderella isn’t the main character and if she doesn’t behave in a way that makes her deserve to live happily ever after, why does she get to marry the handsome prince? This was a problem that took me a long time to break through. The answer came to me, as many answers to this kind of problem tend to do, as I was falling asleep. (Don’t worry—no spoilers!) When I woke up, I wrote the ending.



About the Author

Tracy Barrett is the award-winning author of several books for young readers, including the Sherlock Files books, King of Ithaka, Cold in Summer and Anne of Byzantium. Her books have been named an ALA Best Book for young adults, a Bank Street best children’s book of the year, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, among many other honors. She is a professor of Italian language and civilization at Vanderbilt University and lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.

This post is part of The Stepsister’s Tale blog tour.

Monday, June 9th – Fiktshun (Character Interview)

Tuesday, June 10th – Harlequin Blog 

Wednesday, June 11th – Xpresso Reads (Guest Post)

Friday June 13th – About To Read (Guest Post)

Monday, June 16th – The Irish Banana (Author Interview)

Tuesday, June 17th – On The Verge (Author Interview)

Wednesday, June 18th – Refracted Light Reviews (Guest Post)

Friday June 20th – The Book Cellar (Guest Post)



Thanks to Harlequin Teen and Kismet Book Tours, you can enter to win a copy of The Stepsister’s Tale.
There is also a grand prize of a HarlequinTEEN Goodie Bag, all entries into the daily giveaways on each tour stop count towards the grand prize!


  • Open to US and Canada only
  • Full contest terms and conditions found on Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Great by Sara Benincasa

Review: Great by Sara Benincasa

Posted by on 03/24/2014 • 17 Comments

What a weird book this was.  I have to be honest and preface everything I am about to say by letting you know that I have never read The Great Gatsby.  I know nothing of what it is about, all I know is that Leonardo DiCaprio recently starred in a movie version about it that I have not seen.  Naturally I won’t be able to compare GREAT to the source material at all but I can talk about the book for what it is.  So what was it? Well, it was a contemporary tale about richie rich Hamptons kids who use “summer” as a verb and it had little vines of mystery snaking into the story here and there.  I had fun reading it, but I am not too certain…

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Posted by on 02/05/2014 • 22 Comments

When I read Cinder in 2012 I came out of it feeling like we had a rocky love/hate relationship. In the end I rated it 3 stars and then bumped it up to 4 stars a few weeks later. Then Meyer put out Scarlet and the novel came into my life like a wrecking ball (cue Miley singalong here) and tore me apart. Scarlet completely immersed me in the character’s lives and it literally had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I believe I ended up rating that one 5 stars x1000 on my blog. Now that I have read Cress I am sad to say that the reading experience was much more like the one I had with Cinder rather than the completely perfect one…

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Posted by on 01/14/2014 • 30 Comments

Holy crap what a wild ride! In this 3rd novel of the Lunar Chronicles series, we meet Rapunzel Cress and embark on her unplanned journey to earth. This novel is easily my favorite in the series thus far – and funnily, Rapunzel is also my favorite fairytale princess! We are just meant to be!

We swing into action from the very beginning of this novel, during which we meet Cress and get to know the kind of life she lived inside this satellite for almost a decade. Like always, I love the references to the original fairy-tales this series is based on. After an explosive start, we engage on a survivalist-type story through a desert that is described with such realism you will feel parched and out of breath, Cress’s…

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Posted by on 01/10/2014 • 32 Comments

Cruel Beauty is really confusing, even kind of a mess at first, but eventually the story does paint a gorgeous, dangerous picture. Still, much of it is quite mind-boggling. I’ve been mulling over what I read for days.

Retellings are always difficult for me, especially that I wasn’t big in fairy tales as a child. I’m kind of discovering them inside retellings, actually, so they can be a hit or miss. Cruel Beauty falls in-between for me. I did love the Beauty and the Beast angle, all while bringing an extremely creative story to the table. Originality is not something Cruel Beauty is lacking. It involves a world that becomes simply mind-blowing. Distorting the perception of everything you thought you knew, kind of mind-blowing. It’s not easy to grasp,…

Waiting on Wednesday (103)

Waiting on Wednesday (103)

Posted by on 12/11/2013 • 30 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


My pick this week:

A Peter Pan love story! Dude! 😀 That was only one of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid. I had the VHS (Lolz) and I used to watch it over and over until I’m pretty sure the tape physically broke!

What are you waiting on, this week?


Waiting on Wednesday (94)

Waiting on Wednesday (94)

Posted by on 10/02/2013 • 31 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week:

This was described as “The Wizard of Oz meets Kill Bill”, enough said!

What are you waiting on?

Fresh Batch (New Releases July 21st – 27th)

Fresh Batch (New Releases July 21st – 27th)

Posted by on 07/20/2013 • 12 Comments

Fresh Batch, posted weekly, keeps you up to date on the hottest releases of the upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:

Stacey’s Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with three pen names, two small children, and a passion for playing pretend for a living. She’s been a full time mom-writer since 2005 and can’t think of anything she’d rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, waiter, math tutor (for real) and yoga instructor.

Other releases this week: *In no particular order* *Click on title links for Goodreads*

–  Sizzle (Bad Boy Rockers #1) by…