Monday, July 27, 2015

Launch Week - Five Enchanted Roses

Dear readers, welcome to a week of celebration! TODAY marks the launching of Five Enchanted Roses, an all-new collection of "Beauty and the Beast" stories from Rooglewood Press, and the authors and I are pretty much thrilled!

To start the party, I am featuring Kaycee Browning, the talented young author of the very first story in the collection, "Esprit de la Rose." This piratical adventure novel has already beguiled early readers with its breezy combination of charm and spookiness. Here's a little more about that story . . .


How did you find out about the Five Enchanted Roses contest?

Kaycee Browning: Short answer: Jenelle Schmidt. Long Answer: I became a fan of Jenelle's after reading King's Warrior when I was twelve years old (and then discovering we attended the same church, and then inadvertently babysitting her daughter... but that's a longer story). I followed her blog and I followed her progress as she prepared a story for the FiveGlass Slippers contest. Even though she was not one of the five winners, I bought the intriguing collection. I loved all five of the Cinderella retellings. I especially loved the little advertisement at the end of the collection- it featured a gorgeous cover with the title Five Enchanted Roses. I was pleased to see that the next contest focused on my favorite fairy tale. I sincerely hoped Jenelle would enter because Jenelle's writing + Beauty and the Beast = even more awesomesauce, but I had no intention of entering. I was too busy with my original novel. Or, at least, I thought I was.

Did your story spring immediately to mind or did you have to work to find the right tale to tell?

Kaycee Browning: Like I said, I had absolutely no intention of entering the contest. I planned to spend all available time working on my novel, Hail Frost.

Then my grandad died.

He died in the middle of my junior year of high school. I was swamped with schoolwork, SAT, ACT, and AP exams, college visitations, and stress. My family and I drove down to Georgia, attended the funeral, and then returned to North Carolina. I had an anatomy test and an AP exam the very next weekend.

Kaycee with her grandparents and siblings.
I cried once for about five minutes during the entire ordeal. I remember being briefly concerned by this. I loved Grandad. He had been one of the first people to encourage me to write. He was the source of so much inspiration and so much happiness. Why wasn't I more upset? Why wasn't I wrestling with sadness, like my brother, sisters, relatives, and parents?
I wondered, but then I picked up my ACT prep book. I could think about it later.

That summer, exams and school and stress finally over, we went to stay at a beach condo in Florida. I was very excited. I would finally have time to write! I could finally work on Hail Frost!

Nothing. I could write nothing. I could read over what I had written, I could know in my head what needed to happen, but I could not make my fingers type. I could not move.

That was terrifying.

I nearly cried, but my sisters were in the room and I didn't want to try to explain what I could not explain, so I hastily clicked over to the spotty Internet and started blog-hopping.

I don't know which blog it was, possibly Jenelle's, but I was again reminded of the Five Enchanted Roses contest. I allowed myself a brief moment of fancy; what Beauty and the Beast story would I tell?

A pirate ship. The silhouette of a man in a tricorn hat. Cold blue lights. Mermaids.

"Esprit de la Rose" istantly sprung to life.

What makes this retelling of the tale uniquely special to you?  

Kaycee Browning:  I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen years old. It was a pirate adventure titled Shadow's Fire, featuring a shy but strong heroine, an enigmatic pirate lad, an evil government scheme, and epic ship battles. It also featured poor narration, deus ex machina, inconsistent plot, and a complete lack of character development. I love Shadow's Fire, but very few people have and ever will read it. Grandad was one of the few who read it. I think I was grieving Grandad, in a way, by abandoning my usual genre of quirky sci-fi/fantasy for pirates once again.

Also, grace is one of the main themes of Esprit. While writing Esprit, I went through some huge character development myself. I learned the true meaning of grace. I learned the true significance of mercy. I learned that I had been playing the role of a villain for most of my life, especially when it came to judging others. It felt good, almost cleansing, to put thoughts I had actually harbored into the mouth of a fictional villain.

Those are my two “deeper” reasons for finding Esprit special. Here are some fun reasons!

Pirates have always been a bit of an obsession of mine. During middle-school, I was the queen of pirate trivia. I would often corner my poor friends and siblings and quiz them. “Which of these flags belonged to Blackbeard?” “What are the names of the two most well-known female pirates and which captain did they sail under?” “Which of the following killed Henry Morgan: a cannon ball, old age, rum overdose, or sickness?” When my poor victims floundered for answers to these oh so important questions, I smirked and would recount the proper answer, along with a bunch of other pirate facts. I'm so glad I'm not such a dweeb now! (BTW, the answers to the above are “The one with the skeleton stabbing the heart”, “Anne Bonny and Mary Read served under Captain Jack Rackham”, and “sickness possibly caused by rum overdose”.)

I have always been fascinated by colors, lights, and the water- especially when all three are combined. The Beast's transformation scene in Disney's film is my favorite piece of animation for this very reason. There's a lot of imagery in Esprit involving brilliant colors, flashing lights, and ocean water. I had a lot of fun simply thinking about the story, because I found it eerily beautiful.

While outlining the story, I was learning quite a lot about grace. To try to push myself to show grace to everyone, I decided to think of personality traits that I despise. I gave those traits to the Beast character and then I challenged myself to like him. This was fun, though I still can't exactly bring myself to like real-life people with those particular traits. At least I can show them understanding and grace now.

If you had to pick a favorite fairy tale, which would it be and why?  

Kaycee Browning: My favorite fairy tale is definitely Beauty and the Beast, but I also love a rather unknown Grimm fairy tale titled The Robber Bridegroom. In the tale, a young maiden is forced to marry a wandering, and evidently rich, stranger. The stranger only wants her because she is beautiful, and her father is only pushing her to marry to earn money. She is suspicious of the stranger, but she has no power to refuse. Her betrothed insists she visit his cabin deep in the woods. She goes, but she spies on him before entering. She watches as he and a gang of thugs brutally murder a young girl. She returns home without him ever knowing what she saw. At the wedding, she tricks her bridegroom into giving himself away. He is arrested, and she escapes both an unwanted marriage and her own murder.

I love this tale because, while the world was exceedingly unfair to the poor protagonist, she used what she had- a quick mind and clever wit- to save herself and no doubt many others. She did not whine or sob or beg. She thought her way out of her problem. I doubt Disney will ever make a movie out of this particular story (lol), but I wish more people knew of it.

Keeping in mind the many themes of the classic fairy tale, have you ever experienced a “Beauty and the Beast” moment in your life?

Kaycee Browning: I can think of several distinct "Beauty and the Beast" moments in my life, but there is one in particular that stands out in my memory. It was when I realized it was fun to be different.

I can't pinpoint an exact day or time when this happened. I do know it was a slow and sub-conscious process that built into an epiphany.

I first realized I was a bit different when I overheard some criticisms as to how I was being parented. I was around nine years old. I loved reading Greek mythology, fantasy, and fairy tales. I scowled and stormed at even the mention of romance, lady-like behavior, or any attempt to “boss me around”. I was always in blue jeans and T-shirts. Within my community, I was different. And, from what I gathered, different was bad.

I set my jaw and determinedly plucked up my plastic sword. I stubbornly endeavored to be even more different. There's a twisted type of power in being able to make others predictably mad by unpredictable actions. I was rude and abrasive and I certainly was not having fun. I was just trying to prove a point. What that point was, I didn't know and I still don't know.

I was around fourteen years old when I finally realized why I was so unhappy. It was because I was spending all of my energy on trying to make others uncomfortable to make up for the fact that I was uncomfortable. I don't know when it happened, but I suddenly realized that yes, I was different. Yes, it was okay to be different. Yes, I needed to be who I wanted to be. But I finally realized that I did not need to be so obnoxious about it! I needed to simply be who I was and not care at all what others thought. I realized that I had spent so much energy on trying to make people irritated I was not enjoying the differences I pretended to love. I decided to stop paying any heed to what people said. I decided to just be me.

I have no idea what people think about me. I do know I'm a much more likable person now. I know I'm nerdy, practical, ambitious, stubborn, brave, and different. And I know that I am having so much fun! The theme of "Beauty and the Beast" that has always resonated with me is that people are different. Because of our differences, the same person might be viewed as a hero from one perspective and a beast from another. The same person might be viewed as beautiful one moment and crazy the next. The same person might seem charismatic and handsome on the outside, but vile and vain on the inside. There are so many perspectives in the world that in the end, the best thing to do is to simply be kind to yourself and be kind to others. You can't change the perspectives of the world. You can only change yourself. That, to me, is a truly beautiful concept.


KAYCEE BROWNING is a homeschooled teenager living in North Carolina. She wrote her first novel when she was thirteen and published a novel at age fifteen. When not writing, she is most likely amusing herself by reading, fangirling, hanging out with friends, or (occasionally) doing her schoolwork. She resides with her two amazing parents, her three awesome siblings, and her two bossy dachshunds.


In honor of this exciting release, the authors of Five Enchanted Roses have teamed up with Rooglewood Press to offer an exciting Giveaway Bundle for one lucky winner! Included in the bundle will be:

1 print copy of Five Enchanted Roses
1 "Book of Omens" red leather journal from Kaycee Browning
1 Lilla Rose cameo hair clip from Savannah Jezowski
1 pressed rose bookmark from Jenelle Schmidt
1 pair of jaguar sunglasses from Dorian Tsukioka
1 gorgeous rose and pearl necklace

If you would like to enter your name for a chance to win this awesome bundle, here's what you do:

 Share any of the following images (or any of the images from our Launch Week Celebration) on your social media sites -- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, etc.

For every image that you share, copy a link and compile all your links into a list. Send your link list in an email to David Cross ( using the subject header: "Five Enchanted Roses Giveaway." Be sure to send him your links NO LATER THAN MONDAY, AUGUST 3. The winner will be selected later that week.

You may also gain one free entry by leaving a comment for Kaycee down below, congratulating her on her new story or asking her a question about "Esprit de la Rose."

Have fun spreading the news about this awesome new collection from Rooglewood Press!


Don't forget to come to the LAUNCH PARTY tonight on Facebook and chat with the five authors themselves! Fun insider's scoop on each of these awesome stories and a good time to be had by all. See you there!


Meredith said...

Congratulations, Ms. Browning! I loved learning the inspiration behind your story and am sorry to hear about your grandfather. He sounds like a wonderful person.

Question: Do you plan to write any other fairy tale retellings?

Best wishes with all your writing.

Ruth Elizabeth said...

Congrats Kaycee!! I can't wait to read your story and all the others!! :)

Esther Brooksmith (wisdomcreates) said...

Kaycee Browning, congratulations! And I loved all your answers. They make me even more eager to read your story. :D

Savannah P. said...

Your story sounds incredible, Kaycee! I'm excited to read it sometime, it sounds very interesting. What was your favorite part of the publishing process? ~Savannah

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for all of the kind comments! I am so incredibly excited about the release of Five Enchanted Roses. :)

Meredith: I don't have any specific plans at the moment, but I absolutely love fairy tales. If the right idea ever came to mind, I would definitely be up for it!

Savannah: In April, I received the initial edits for Esprit de la Rose. There were several pages written by the editors detailing plot suggestions and changes. While a bit daunting at first, I soon discovered that editing can be quite fun. It forces you to think deeply about your story, to question everything. As strange as it sounds, the plot editing was definitely my favorite part of the process.

Christine Smith said...

An eerie and swashbuckling B&B tale? Oh my! does this sound scrumptious! Congratulations on being chosen for the collection. I can tell just from the description of Esprit de la Rose why you were! I absolutely cannot wait to read your story.

What was the hardest part of making Esprit de la Rose into what it is today?

Happy launch day! I'm so very excited!

Unknown said...

Esprit de la Rose sounds like a great tale! I can't wait to read it!
(I love reading about pirates)

Leah B said...

Congratulations Kaycee!!!!
lokking forward to reading this!!


Kira Thomas said...

AAH, I don't think I realized just how excited I was to read this until I read this blog post. This. Looks. Fantastic.

Tracey Dyck said...

Wow, this is so exciting! I can't wait to snatch up a copy--I'm sure all five stories are amazing. =D
Kaycee, this insight into your inspiration and writing process was simply captivating. I'm in quiet awe of the way you challenged yourself personally, and how you also grieved your grandfather through writing this.
And it looks like we have at least a few things in common! I was also homeschooled, and I have three siblings as well. (A brother and two sisters, fancy that.) Looking forward to reading "Esprit de la Rose" (which has a gorgeous title)!

Unknown said...

Thank you for everything you shared, Kaycee! Hearing your story regarding your Grandpa resonated so closely with me. I'm praying for you.

All the other aspects of your writing journey you mentioned just made me more anxious to read Esprit de la Rose. Keep up the good work!

Clare said...

Congrats on your story it sounds so cool, at sea too! Ships always are a point to a story, I really want to read it!

Hayden said...

I love pirates! Pirate stories, that is...haha. I've gotten my copy of the book, so I'm excited to start reading Esprit de la Rose today! :)

E.F.B. said...

Hi Kaycee. What an interesting story combination: Beauty and the Beast and pirates! It's not something I would have thought of myself, but I look forward to reading Espirit de la Rose as soon as I can. Congratulations on getting your story in this collection and thanks for sharing your inspiration with us!

Unknown said...

Thank you everyone for your encouragement and kind words! It means so much to me. I hope you all enjoy Five Enchanted Roses!

Christine: The hardest part was definitely learning to let go of some of the scenes that I liked but did not add much to the story. I enjoyed editing Esprit more than I thought I would. Adding scenes, dialogue, and details to make the story stronger was fun. Deleting... not so much. But in the end, I'm so glad I did. Esprit is better for it. :)

Tracey: That is too cool! 'Tracey' is actually my mom's name, so there's yet another thing we have in common. :D

Thanks for all of the sympathy relating to my grandfather. He was a great guy, and I appreciate your prayers. :)

Tracey Dyck said...

@Kaycee: LOL, that's so neat! :D What a coincidence.

Sarah Pennington said...

This sounds like a really cool story, Kaycee! I can't wait to read it!

Joy said...

Oh my word, congrats Kaycee!! Your story sounds every kind of amazing, and I absolutely love the cover art. :) I found your blog ages ago and have loved reading through it ever since. I'm so sorry about your grandfather *hugs* but I know he'd be proud. :)

I can't wait to get this collection and start reading! Congratulations Kaycee, Savannah, Jenelle, Dorian, and Hayden!!

Georgina said...

Congratulations on being selected for Five Enchanted Roses! I'm looking forward to reading your story! :)