Monday, April 21, 2014

Introducing: Elisabeth Brown

Dear imps, this week we are expressing our excitement over the upcoming Five Glass Slippers anthology with a series of interviews featuring each of the five talented novelists! I am excited to get to know these young women, and I hope you are too.

Be sure to check the end of each post for the fun giveaway. At the end of the week, one lucky winner will be selected to receive a beautiful Five Glass Slippers mug--decorated with the same banner you see up above. You imps are all coffee and tea drinkers, right? Or at least hot chocolate . . .

Today we are meeting the first novelist in this collection, Ms. Elisabeth Brown. Here is a little about her first:

ELISABETH BROWN has always loved words. The third of seven children, she enjoyed being homeschooled through her senior year of high school, and is now studying piano performance at Appalachian Bible College. When she's ignoring the fact that she should probably be practicing more or doing Greek homework, you'll find her sewing, baking, reading, singing along to basically any musical ever created, hiking through the woods, or laughing at incredibly silly puns.

What Eyes Can See is her first published story, but she also rambles at


Welcome to the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog, Betsy! First of all, would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee?

 Hello, and thanks for having me! Let’s see…well, I’m a college sophomore studying piano performance, which sort of takes over all other hobbies during the school year. I’m a fairly social person, so if you stop by my campus, you’ll probably find me talking. My walls are covered with pictures drawn by my younger siblings, I’m addicted to chapstick, I use a different color of pen every day, I wear flowers in my hair, and my Pandora station is normally playing Ramin Karimloo and Josh Groban. Tea or coffee? Tea, every time. Black, green, chai, herbal, sweetened, unsweetened, in a china cup or in a plain mug…I really love tea.

 What led you into the writing life? Have you always been a storyteller?

 My family tells a lot of stories: Mom read us all the Little House books, Dad read us James Herriot and A Christmas Carol. They told us stories while we fell asleep on camping trips and let us check out piles of books on tape from the library. Eventually, it became natural for me to start making up my own. My sister and I used to create the most elaborate imaginary worlds together, with our own heroes and villains, romances and heartbreaks. Without my family, I would have no creativity at all; it’s thanks to their influence that I started writing. 

Tell us a little about your work! What Eyes Can See is your debut novella, right?

Yes, ma'am! In fact, it's also the first story I've completed, so I feel quite fond of it. What Eyes Can See is set in an imaginary kingdom long ago and far away--typical fairytale stuff. I wrote it specifically for the Five Glass Slippers contest, so it was simple to decide on a fairytale feeling. (Though there's no magic or fairy godmother or anything, so maybe it isn't a fairytale. I'm not sure.) There's not a lot of action, no true bad guy--it's just a simple romance, a story about love the way it looks to my inexperienced imagination.

How did you come up with the initial ideas for What Eyes Can See? Is this a story you’ve been brewing for a while or was it a sudden inspiration?

What Eyes Can See definitely falls into the “sudden inspiration” category. I was brainstorming ideas for the “Five Glass Slippers” contest, and for some reason I found myself wondering if Cinderella were really as mistreated as we’ve been led to believe… Initially, I envisioned Cinderella as an odious young lady, and the stepmother and stepsisters were the mistreated heroines. That’s not what I ended up with—instead, Arella is simply a shy girl fonder of dusting than dancing—but it got the creative juices flowing.

Can you pick a favorite character from this story?

That would easily be Arella’s stepsister Drusilla. She’s not the prettiest, she’s not the cleverest, she’s not the most talented…but she’s not bitter about it.

What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration?  

Regarding What Eyes Can See, the biggest inspiration I had was merely the challenge of actually finishing something for once. Otherwise, a lot of ideas come from reading. I devour Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters and Agatha Christie and Francine Rivers. People watching is another big inspiration: I love those little quirks that set one person apart from everyone else in the world. I have a whole list of people waiting to have stories written about them. None of them know.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process? 

I love letting my imagination run wild for hours on end. I love making characters from my head come to life on a page. I love the satisfaction I felt when I wrote the last sentence and knew I had finished. I didn’t love editing. That was more like real work. And coming up with a name—that was super hard. My sister actually came up with the title for me. (Thanks, Ruth!!)

Are you working on any new story ideas these days? 

At the moment, the most I have is some vague ideas of things I could work on this summer in my free time. I’d love to try my hand at some historical fiction…we’ll see what happens.

Would you share a short snippet from What Eyes Can See? Something to entice us! 

I would be delighted to share! Here’s a bit from when the family is at the royal ball…           

Excerpt from
What Eyes Can See

“I have to dance with him!” Arella whispered frantically to Drusilla behind her fan, out of earshot of the prince. He continued to bow to young ladies and their parents but sent frequent glances in Arella’s direction.
“Just what every other girl wishes to do,” Drusilla whispered back. Now was not the time to let Arella indulge in solitude. Like it or not, she would have to make herself agreeable.
“Why can’t he dance with every other girl, then?” Arella whimpered.
“Because you are the prettiest.”
“I hate being the prettiest!”
It was the most vehement speech Drusilla had ever heard her stepsister utter. “I’m afraid that isn’t for you to choose. Dance with him, agree with what he says, smile a little, and then it will be over. Surely you can manage that?”
Arella bit her lip.
“It will be just like dancing with any other young man,” Drusilla continued. “Don’t be nervous. Everything will turn out well.”
Arella cast a dissatisfied glance at Drusilla. “I hate dancing with all of them, too!”
Their conversation was interrupted when a friend of the duchess joined their party to visit.
Drusilla sighed. Please, Arella, just behave.


Click Here To Pre-Order!
What a great little scene, Betsy! I love seeing the dynamic between shy Arella and practical Drusilla. They have such a charming dynamic between them, and I loved watching their interactions throughout the story.

I hope, dear readers, that all of you are eager to pick up a copy of Five Glass Slippers to find out what will happen when poor Arella is forced to dance with the handsome prince . . .

Be sure to stop by tomorrow so you can meet Emma Clifton, the author of book 2 in the anthology, Broken Glass.

Below you have the giveaway options for a chance to win the pretty mug. Several of the options are to ask questions of the other four authors . . . I request that you come back in the next few days to enter those options, however. Post your questions to those authors on their individual interviews. But Elisabeth Brown will be happy to read your comments today!

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Sarah Pennington said...

What Eyes Can See sounds great; I can hardly wait to read it!

Question for Elisabeth: what's your favorite strategy for when you get stuck?

Betsy said...

Thanks Sarah! I hope you enjoy it. :)
When I got stuck, most of the time I just closed my laptop, grabbed my favorite pen and a scrappy notebook, and just started scribbling away. Sometimes what I would write worked, sometimes it didn't. It was always messy. But it got my brain working again.

Betsy said...

Also...I just realized that my google account calls me Betsy, not Elisabeth. I am Elisabeth, though, not some random stranger answering your question. Though that would be sort of fun, too.

Unknown said...

Hello, Betsy! I've heard a lot about you. : ) Did any Cinderella themes or previous Cinderella reinterpretations inspire you? Thanks! It sounds wonderful!

Hannah said...

Ooo, I can't wait for this book!

Elisabeth, do you have any writing plans after this? :D

Grace said...

This looks like its going to be a lovely tale! I liked how that I could see your characterization in so small a snippet- well done!

My question: Was this your first take on writing a fairy tale?



Meredith said...

I loved this interview, Ms. Elisabeth and am so eager to read "What Eyes Can See". The title is so intriguing, and I enjoyed the excerpt very much. Sounds like we have lots in common. I love Josh Groben and Ramin Karimlou. I devoured all the James Heriot books and still read them whenever I'm looking for a light but stimulating read, and I love the Bronte sisters' novels. My favorite is Wuthering Heights.

Question: Did you base Orilla and her stepsisters off your own siblings? From the interchange in the excerpt, I could easily picture this conversation occurring.

God bless you.

Betsy said...

Allison--oh dear. That statement always makes me nervous... ;)My biggest CInderella inspiration was the Disney film, honestly. You may notice the name "Drusilla" sounds suspiciously like the Disney stepsister...

Hannah, they're more of "vague ideas" than "plans" at the moment...but yes, I have schemes brewing. Being part of Five Glass Slippers sort of got me in a writing mood, so I actually started another story just last week...but it isn't enough of anything yet to really describe.

Grace, thanks! Yes, this was my first fairy tale. I enjoyed it a lot! :)

Twinsie said...

What was the first thing you did when you found out you won the contest?
And would you ever consider working on a collaborative story... Say, with some friends? ;)

Betsy said...

Meredith, thanks!I know so few people that have even heard of Ramin that I feel this connection to anyone who has. :) I love Wuthering Heights, too, but I think I would have to go with Jane Eyre...I just adore Jane Eyre.

That's a really good question...I didn't consciously base Arella and her stepsisters off of my siblings and me, but in retrospect, the relationship I have with my brothers and sisters probably did influence the way I described Arella interacting with her stepsisters. Because I've spent so much time hanging out with my family, imagining the family dynamic wasn't difficult at all.

Twinsie, honestly...the very first thing I did was freak out. And double-check to make sure that that was, in fact, my name. Then make sure I was actually awake. Once I was assured of all those things, I went out to the hall and danced (my roommate was sleeping, remember) and called my Mom and squealed. Funny you should ask about the collaborative story; I've actually worked on one with a group of friends before. So far, it's a delightful fairytale mismatch of writing styles. However, I took the last turn, and no one has had the courage to decide what happens next... We'll see if it ever gets finished. ;)

Anonymous said...

What eyes can see sounds interesting. Question for Betsy,
Do you ever have a problem with writing down your story I mean like you have the story in your head but not on paper or some writing program?

Betsy said...

Jemma, the wonderfully ironic thing about your question is that I have lots of stories that never make it out of my head, and one of them has a main character also named Jemma. (Though she spelled it Gemma.)Writing is time-consuming, and if I don't feel like it's "good enough" I normally won't make it past a few pages. That's probably something I need to grow out of if I ever want to be a "real writer," because the only way to get better is to practice, I assume.
Maybe I need to tell my Gemma's story, after all. You just inspired me.

Meredith said...

Thank you, Ms. Elisabeth, for answering my question. Yes, Jane Eyre is a wonderful book, and there's a new musical out based on the novel. I know, more people need to know about Ramin! He's outstanding, and I loved his portrayal of the Phantom in the Royal Albert Hall concert. God bless you.

Betsy said...

Wait, Meredith, you're also familiar with Jane Eyre the Musical?! We might be long-lost kindred spirits. That's the other thing no one has heard of. Also Tale of Two Cities the Musical...but that one was on an even smaller scale.

Twinsie said...

Jane Eyre is pretty much the best first-person classic ever written. Vilette is a close second. I didn't care much for Wuthering Heights though. I couldn't understand 90% of the characters.

Jane Eyre the musical is pretty much the best thing in the world, but the play itself leaves out most of the book. A Tale of Two Cities is pretty amazing. I wish I could see it again.

Ms. Elisabeth, care to pick a favorite musical? Or dare you even attempt?

Emily Chapman said...

Hullo Elisabeth!

First off, congratulations on winning the contest. I can't wait to read What Eyes Can See!

And secondly, which character in your story are you most like?

Betsy said...

Twinsie, "Tale of Two Cities" is really, really hard to measure up to. However, I'm also a huge fan of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." Mostly because of the song where the brothers do ballet in the snow while also holding axes.

Emily, thanks! I hope you enjoy it! My personality doesn't quite match any one character in the book, but I'd have to say that I identify most with Drusilla. We share a very strong big-sisterly instinct, even though we're unlike in most other ways. (For instance, she's a good dancer. Not my forte.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Betsy
I am so glad I am not the only one who doesn't always write down their stories. I am glad I inspired you:)

Meredith said...

Oh, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" is hilareous!
The Broadway musical of Jane Eyre is great, and the new musical version by Jay Richards is excellent.

Yes, I've heard the music from A Tale of Two Cities. It's wonderful, particularly the songs "I Can't Recall," and "Out of Sight, Out of Mind." All of the songs are excellent, though. Truly shameful it was so underrated! It deserved more attention.

Have you ever had an opportunity to perform in a musical? Possibly community theater? I was blessed to be in a production of Fiddler on the Roof. It's an experience I've never forgotten. God bless you.

Galadriel said...

You mentioned that you like audiobooks--have you heard any of the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre productions? They're really good, and the Narnia ones are better than the movies, especially Aslan's roar.

Betsy said...

Wait. Meredith, you've also heard of Tale of Two Cities?! I have literally never ever ever met ANYONE who has heard of that, save the friends with whom I saw it and the friend who was in the local production. Bascially, you must either be my sister under an alias or my new kindred spirit. My sister probably would have chosen an alias such as "Mrs. Eduardo," so that leaves you as my new kindred spirit, k?
I've never been in a musical, though I've always wanted to! Maybe someday... What did you get to be in Fiddler on the Roof (another of my faves!)?

Galadriel (I love your name!), I know my family has a audio version of "A Christmas Carol" that my sister and I ALWAYS listen to while we're making sugar cookies, and I want to say it's by Focus on the Family...but I would be guessing. They sound good! I'll have to look some up! (I don't mind admitting I'm not a huge fan of the Narnia movies anyhow.)

Mrs. Eduardo said...

Betsy, yes, we have the Focus on the Family version