Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Launch Week - Five Enchanted Roses

Welcome back to our week-long celebration of Five Enchanted Roses and the amazing authors who made this collection worthwhile. Today we are featuring Jenelle Schmidt, whose clever story, "Stone Curse," is delighting readers with its unexpected plot twists and endearing characters . . .


How did you find out about the Five Enchanted Roses contest?
Jenelle Schmidt: I found out about the Five Enchanted Roses contest because I was waiting anxiously for the announcement. In 2013, I had posted a short snippet of a fairy tale retelling I was sort of playing around with for “The Princess and the Glass Hill.” Anne Elisabeth emailed me and asked if I had ever thought of doing other retellings and informed me of the contest Rooglewood was hosting for a Cinderella retelling. I submitted a story for that and - even though I didn’t win - really enjoyed working on a shorter project and being able to finish a rough draft in less than a month.

When Rooglewood Press announced the following year that the fairy tale would be "Beauty and the Beast," I had already decided I wasn’t going to enter. I didn’t think I had time. However, my imagination had other ideas and the glimmering of a plot began to smolder in the corner of my mind. Eventually, the plot and characters began to clamor for more attention, and I realized that I was going to enter the contest after all.

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

Jenelle Schmidt: The basic gist of the story came together pretty quickly and all at once. I wanted it to be pretty different from the original, while still having a lot of familiar settings and themes. I wrote the first two scenes in rapid succession, conquering over 2,000 words in an afternoon. 

After that, everything came to a screeching halt. Who had cast the curse on the prince? And why had they done it? And how could it be broken? Without knowing those things, the story could not progress, and I was stumped for weeks. I would sit down to write and absolutely nothing would happen. I would write a scene to take the story in one direction and then give up after a few hundred words, aware that what I had written was all wrong and could not work. I was starting to get desperate, and beginning to think I wouldn’t finish this story in time.

Finally, my husband (my knight in shining armor!) came to my rescue. We had already discussed the story a few times, but now he sat down with me and we spent a few evenings just talking about the story and wrestling with the outline and plot. He kept asking me, "Why? Why was the curse cast? Who cast the curse? How will the curse be broken?" It was that last question that finally unlocked the door to the way the story had to play out. And once Derek suggested the character of Ritter, the rest of the outline fell into place and the story began to take shape. It wasn't always perfectly smooth sailing from there on out, but I didn't run into any more brick walls.

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

Jenelle Schmidt: There are a myriad of reasons this story is special to me. First is the character of Karyna. I struggled with her a lot and had a hard time getting her just right. I had to do a lot of character development for her during the edits, trying to figure out what motivated her, why she thought and felt and acted the way she did. The breakthrough came when I realized that she shared a personality type with my sister-in-law, whom I love, but who is also very different than me. Once I could “see” Karyna, she began to grow into a more well-developed person, and I was able to write her much more clearly.

Another thing was that I just really enjoyed getting to write a completely different version of "Beauty and the Beast." I liked “fixing” some of the plot holes that are inherent to the Disney version (for example, if you do a little math, you realize that in the Disney cartoon, the prince is cursed at the age of eleven for not letting a creepy old woman into his house on a dark and stormy night - a decision I always thought his parents would have applauded). I also had a lot of fun adding my twists; I got to “break the rules” of the story while still holding true to the idea and themes of the original.

And finally, this story is dear to my heart because I wrote it for my children. I have three precious kiddos, two of whom are beautiful little girls who love fairy tales and dressing up and pretending to be princesses. (The youngest is still a baby, so he’s not much into stories or games of imagination . . . yet!) But I am excited to share this story with all three of them, and I hope they enjoy it. I hope it inspires them. Because while many of my readers may envision my life as this glamorous series of author photo shoots, sitting in my writing cave furiously typing away, or receiving boxes of books on a daily basis... the reality is that I am a mom first, author second. My life is mostly full of listening to the thoughts and dreams of two little girls, looking at interesting leaves with a magnifying glass, exploring the back yard, building fairy gardens, learning letters, rocking, cuddling, teaching, and playing. Writing is what I do when all the children are sleeping. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. The writing is hard to get done with three little munchkins running around, but without them, I know I wouldn’t write nearly as much.

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

Jenelle Schmidt: I love fairy tales. My grandpa gave me a book of the more obscure ones when I was five or six, and I just fell in love with them. I never really thought about which fairy tale was my favorite, though there were several I would read over and over again. "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," "The Goose Girl," "The Snow Queen," "Rapunzel," and "The Princess on the Glass Hill." I tended to lean towards the stories that were a bit more obscure - though I also loved the more familiar tales: "Beauty and the Beast," "Cinderella," and "Sleeping Beauty."

Still enjoying the book of fairy tales my grandfather gave me!
I’d say that if I absolutely had to choose, though, I’d go with the "Twelve Dancing Princesses." Something about that story always intrigued me. I enjoyed the mystery of it, the open-ended nature (which allows for quite the variety of retellings), the magical realm that the princesses venture out to every night. It was my love of adventure which first drew me to this story and captured my heart. 

When I was little, my cousins were my best friends, and whenever we had sleep-overs at their house we would determine to stay up until all our parents were asleep and then slip out of the house to have an “adventure.” They lived on a very large piece of land, with a creek running through the middle of it. It was the perfect place to have large games of Capture the Flag. Most nights, we fell asleep before we got to go adventuring, but once in a while we would manage to stay awake. Our adventures never took us to magical realms, but our imaginations definitely did. 

Even as an adult, I still enjoy a good adventure. My early love of fairy tales turned easily into a love of fantasy and science fiction. Those genres are replete with daring exploits and thrilling escapades. It can be hard to experience those things in the midst of every day life, especially when you’ve got three very small children to keep track of. Most of the time, I am content to enjoy that sort of excitement through reading books and watching movies. However, every now and then I do get a chance to experience a bit of that adventure my soul longs for.

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

Jenelle Schmidt: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. One of the reasons I love the story of Beauty and the Beast is the number of Biblical themes running through it. Beauty’s father, for example, has always seemed to me to be a type of Job character - through no fault of his own, he loses everything. Then there is the sacrificial love displayed by both the father and Beauty, each willing to die in the other’s stead. And finally, there is the Beast, who must be loved before he appears lovable in order for the curse to be broken.

We are all, at some point, like the Beast. Unlovable and incapable of love. Like the Beast, we wear a curse, and we cannot free ourselves from it. Just like Beauty must love the Beast while he is still under the curse, while he is still ugly and scary, Christ loved us while we were still sinners. In the midst of our rebellion, he died for us - and His love is the only thing that can break the curse of sin.

I would have to say that the most profound “Beauty and the Beast” moment in my life came on the day I realized and understood that I could not climb up to Jesus on my own. That I was under a curse, and I could not lift it on my own. On that day, I accepted the gift of Jesus’ love for me, despite my beastliness. And it was on that day that I, like the Beast of the fairy tale, began to be transformed into something beautiful.



 JENELLE SCHDMIT grew up in the northern-midwest. She now resides with her husband and their three adorable children in North Carolina where the summers are too hot and there is never enough snow. Jenelle fell in love with reading at a young age during family storytimes. To this day she enjoys creating exciting adventure tales filled with poignant themes and compelling characters in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.


 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 Jenelle down below, congratulating her on her new story or asking her a question about "Stone Curse."

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


Don't forget to purchase your copy of Five Enchanted Roses today! Add the book to your Goodreads shelves and let your reader friends know how much you enjoy these beautiful tales.


Unknown said...

Congratulations! I can't wait to read it! : )

Savannah P. said...

Your story sounds really interesting, Jenelle! I can't wait until I can get my hands on 'Five Enchanted Roses' and read it! What was your favorite part of the publishing process for this book? ~Savannah P.

Unknown said...

That plot hole in the Disney movie bothers me too. What eleven year-old boy is going to want a rose? :P Stone Curse sound so good! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Five Enchanted Roses.

Esther Brooksmith (wisdomcreates) said...

I loved hearing about the different aspects of creating this story!

Jenelle Leanne said...

Allison - thank you so much!

Savannah P - Hope you enjoy it! My favorite part of the publishing process? I enjoyed so much about it, but I think the part I enjoyed the most was not having to do everything. There was a lot of work, but I didn't have to line up the editors or the proofreaders or the beta readers or the cover art or do the formatting, or read the story a hundred thousand times to sift for typos... as an indie-author, that felt very strange... but nice. I realized, however, that I'm a bit of a control freak about my writing! :) So it was hard to relax and just enjoy it. I had to restrain myself from emailing Anne Elisabeth twelve times a day asking for status updates! haha! (I did control myself, and I'm sure she appreciates that!) :)

Emma - Exactly! Thank you!

Wisdomcreates - Thank you so much! I love that we all have different reasons and motivations and processes for creating these stories, and yet they all go together so well.

Savannah Jezowski said...

I loved Stone Curse! Ritter was such a surprise and so enjoyable, but Barend was my favorite. I could totally read a whole book on these characters.

Jenelle Leanne said...

Aww, thanks, Savannah! :)

Unknown said...

Stone Curse is beyond epic! I love it so much! ^_^

Jenelle Leanne said...

Kaycee - :) thank you!

Unknown said...

Stone Curse was great! I really liked that there was something deeper behind the curse :D

DJ Edwardson said...

That may be one of the best author interviews I have ever read. Seriously. I love the way you bring everything back around to Christ. I had never really thought of this story in that light before. What a beautiful reminder of the gospel. It makes me want to read this story all the more.

Jenelle Leanne said...

Jemma - thank you! Yeah, I wanted the curse to be a bit more interesting... :)

DJ - thank you so much. Beauty and the Beast always seemed to be one of the deeper fairy tales that way. It was so fun getting to play around with it and explore slightly different themes - still related to the original - but in unique ways. I hope you enjoy the story when you read it!

Meredith said...

What a wonderful interview, Mrs. Schmidt. The answers to the questions were fantastic, and I especially enjoyed the answer to the last question. Your story was absolutely beautiful. I loved the cleverness of the twist ending. The reason behind the curse being cast moved me to tears, and I could definitely relate to the culprit. I loved Prince Barend and how skillfully you wove the rose symbolism into your version.

I'd never thought about the prince being only eleven in the Disney version when it begins! Don't know why I didn't, but numbers and I don't mesh, so I suppose I just never stopped to think. That's hilareous!

I love that you and your husband did lots of brainstorming about "Stone Curse" together.

Questions: Do you think it's more difficult to retell a fairy tale or to make up your own plots, (I understand you've written other books as well.) What other fairy tale would you be most interested in trying to retell?

Christine Smith said...

Congratulations on your story! The idea of people turned to stone absolutely fascinates me, so I'm just itching to get my hands on this thing. I have no doubt it's going to be wonderful!

This interview was so fun to read. (And your children are absolutely adorable. <3) It's so sweet that you write for your children and feed their love for fairytales and adventures--I think that's wonderful.

What you said in the last question put how I feel about the Beauty and the Beast tale in the perfect words! B&B has always been my favorite fairytale because of the Christian themes that can run so parallel with it. You put it so beautifully!

I'm simply thrilled about the book being released and I cannot wait to read your tale!

Jenelle Leanne said...

Meredith - My husband is an integral part of most of my writing. He's a creative genius! :) He's very good at asking me tough questions that help get the plot wheels turning.

As far as your questions... there are difficulties inherent in both re-writing fairy tales and writing my own plots. With a fairy tale, the skeleton is in place, which can make things easier, but trying to put a unique spin on the tale is hard, because the other versions are all bumping around in my head together. Creating all-new worlds and plots is a lot of work, but it can also feel much less restrictive because it can be whatever I want and doesn't have to resemble a beloved fairy tale. I think the hardest part of retelling a fairy tale is that one's audience is always going to be comparing it to the original. So, I don't know if that answers your question! haha. They're both fun, and they're both difficult, just in different ways. I enjoy both!

What other fairy tale would I most be interested in retelling? I have some editing to do on my Cinderella story, which I'll hopefully be able to release in the near future. I would love to finish my Princess on the Glass Hill story at some point. I've got an opening scene, but I'm not sure what happens after that. Other than that... I honestly don't know. There are a lot of other stories I have queued up right now that need my attention!

Christine - Thanks for your kind comments! (I think my kiddos are pretty cute, too... but I'm biased!!!) I hope you enjoy the entire collection!

E.F.B. said...

Hi Jenelle. I really enjoyed reading about your creative process. Very interesting! Congratulations on getting your story in this collection!

P.S. Your kids really are adorable :)

Jenelle Leanne said...

E.F.B. - Thank you!

Hayden said...

First off, your kids are adorable :)

I find it really interesting how you brainstorm with your husband!

I really enjoyed your characters, and the curse was a really neat twist :)

Sarah Pennington said...

Your story sounds really cool, Jenelle! Can't wait to read it!

Joy said...

Stone Curse looks incredibly interesting and I can't wait to read it! I love the cover art. ^.^ Also the pressed rose bookmark looks amazing! Did you make it yourself?
And yes, I agree with the others. Your kids are adorable!
Congratulations, Jenelle!!

Jenelle Leanne said...

Hayden - Yes, I would be lost without my brainstorming partner! He's my hero! Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the story!

Sarah - Thank you! I hope you enjoy it!

Joy - Thank you! I think the cover art is awesome!!! Sadly, no, my talent lies in writing, not in arts and crafts... I found the bookmark on Etsy - but since roses and dried roses play such an integral part in my story, I thought the bookmark would be a fun addition to the prize pack ! :)

Georgina said...

Congrats on having your story chosen for Five Enchanted Roses! I look forward to reading it soon. :)

Jenelle Leanne said...

Georgina - thank you so much! I hope you enjoy all of the stories!

Deborah O'Carroll said...

I absolutely loved reading this review! <3 Fascinating to get behind the scenes on Stone Curse and with Jenelle -- thank you for a lovely read! :)

Also Twelve Dancing Princesses is absolutely the best fairytale. ;) Beauty and the Beast is my second favorite, though!

Jenelle Leanne said...

Deborah - thank you! I'm really, really, really glad you enjoyed my story so much! I waffle a bit between which fairy tale is my current favorite... but Twelve Dancing Princesses holds a special place in my heart. I think my second favorite is Goose Girl... or... um... hmmmmm too hard to choose. :)