Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Erin Hayes guest post: Turning a Fairy Tale on Its Head) Twisted Princess Box Set book tour) + giveaway

Turning a Fairy Tale on Its Head 
By Erin Hayes

My favorite things to watch growing up were Disney movies, especially the ones based on fairy tales. Everything from Cinderella to Aladdin and Alice in Wonderland—there’s something magical about seeing happily ever afters unfold in such a colorful, beautiful way. I’ve always had a huge appreciation for animators and how they were able to bring these stories to life. My favorites were Beauty and the Beast and Robin Hood.

Then I learned about the original versions of those stories, and that opened up a can of worms for me. Cinderella’s stepsisters cut off their heels in order to fit into the glass slipper, and it wasn’t until they bled on the horses heading back to the castle that they were found out. The prince in Rapunzel was thrown out of a tower and blinded, while she raised their twins.

Fairy tales are twisted, man. And I loved it.

That realization allowed me to explore within these worlds—to bend the rules and make something out of an established story. After all, Disney twisted them to be more family friendly. I realized that we could go the other way.

New takes on old tales are fairly popular already. Alex Flinn reimagined Beauty and the Beast as Beastly. Marissa Meyer set her fairy tale series in the future and added a science fiction spin with The Lunar Chronicles. And even Disney themselves are retelling their stories with Liz Braswell’s Twisted Tales series, which dives deeper into the backstory of our favorite tales.

With that kind of freedom, you can turn a story into something wholly unique, yet at the same, completely familiar, which is why I think these stories are so popular. I think the main thing is to:

- Keep the spirit of the original story and use it as jumping off point

- Tell something new with your story, whether that a surprise twist on a trope or changing up genders—something to make it different from the fairy tale

- Add Easter eggs for fans of the original to put together

- Write a damn good story

And, really, that’s it, which makes the twisted fairy tale genre wide open. Sure, there may only be so many fairy tales, but if you let your imagination loose, you can tell a story that will both resonate and excite readers.

My entry into Twisted Princess is a story called Sleepless Beauty, where I turned the idea of sleeping into insomnia and what that means for my characters. From a spindle to true love, there are familiar elements that you’ll find. But I hope you’ll find that there’s more than what you initially thought.

Happy reading. And don’t be afraid to let your imagination run loose. Whether it’s with telling a new fairy tale or writing a tweet—I think it’s a good rule to have for anything in life.

About the Author: Erin Hayes
Sci-fi junkie, video game nerd, and wannabe manga artist Erin Hayes writes a lot of things. Sometimes she writes books.

She works as an advertising copywriter by day, and she's a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author by night. She has lived in New Zealand, Hawaii, Texas, Alabama, and now San Francisco with her husband, cat, and a growing collection of geek paraphernalia.

You can reach her at and she’ll be happy to chat. Especially if you want to debate Star Wars.

Excerpt Sleepless Beauty:

The fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty used to terrify me as a child.

No, seriously.

The thought of sleeping for a hundred years, only to be woken by true love’s first kiss—is it really true love when you’re kissed by someone you don’t know? I remember being scared of spindles. Why were they so pointy and made princesses sleep? And that was made worse by the fact that my eccentric mother kept an antique up in the attic among the many other weird things she keeps of our family history.

And she wonders why I moved in with Dad after the divorce.

But I think something else contributed to my terror of that one fairy tale. Growing up in Savannah, Georgia, I’d always hear about this ghost that floated around Colonial Park Cemetery. If you saw her, you’d fall in love with her and become so obsessed that you’d stop sleeping. And then you died.

And the ghost was called Sleepless Beauty.

For a young girl like me, an urban legend may as well be a fairy tale. In fact, I consider them to be worse because they don’t have that ‘once upon a time’ element. Urban legends happen in the now and in your corner of the world.

So while the stories Sleepless Beauty and Sleeping Beauty seemed to be the exact opposites of each other, my mind equated both Beauties to the same scary character that haunted my nightmares.

Did I believe in them? Oh yeah, even now that I’m sixteen. And I think Sleepless Beauty especially haunted everyone I know, because five of us are standing outside of the Colonial Park Cemetery at midnight while my friend Hayden scales the gates to go visit Sleepless Beauty.

On a dare.

Yeah, we’re not very smart, and I can see the tension on all our too-wide-eyed faces.

“Careful, Hayden!” my best friend Lizzie yells up at him as he swings one leg over the spiked, wrought iron fence.

“He’ll be fine,” Marcel tells her with a smirk. Of course he’d be smirking, this whole dare was his idea. I want to point out to him that since we’re stuck on this side of the fence, we have no way of knowing whether or not Hayden will be fine or not. There could be raccoons or coyotes or police over there.

Or even ghosts that kill you slowly.

I wince watching Hayden, my mind painting pictures of him slipping and impaling his leg on the vicious, ornate fence. Colonial Park Cemetery is a couple hundred years old. I wonder who the builders of it were trying to keep out. Or keep in.

Hayden finally pushes himself over and jumps down, landing on his feet on the other side. He gives a triumphant grin—one that I can’t help but roll my eyes at—as he salutes us.

“Totally easy,” he says, brushing off his letterman’s jacket.

“Just be careful,” I tell him.

He nods. “Start the clock. An hour, right?”

Marcel holds up his phone, the light emanating from it telling us that he has already started timing. “Time’s a-wastin.’”

“I’ll be back,” Hayden says in a bad imitation of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He winks at me before taking off at a jog. I feel that familiar flutter in my heart as the shadows swallow him up. It’s a flutter that hasn’t been there for very long, but it gets stronger and stronger the more time we spend together.

“Why don’t they have street lights down there?” Lizzie mutters, rubbing the chill from her arms. Her breath comes out in little white clouds.

“It’s a historic landmark,” our friend Cole says. He’s been kind of quiet all night, underneath his beanie and his hoodie. But then again, Cole has always been quiet. “And there are so many unmarked graves there, they don’t want to disturb them by running electrical lines all over the place.”

Makes sense, but still, it’s too eerie, too dark for me to feel easy around here. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being watched.

Like something within those shadows wants to reach out and pull me into the depths of hell.

Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but it certainly feels that way.

I shiver.

“Hey,” Lizzie says, “he’ll be fine.”

“Oh,” I say, trying to shake it off. “Of course. I mean, who’s going to be at a cemetery at this time of night?”

“Sleepless Beauty,” Marcel says, and I clench my teeth with that. “So, what’s happening with you and Hayden anyways?”

And, just like that, my mind goes from being terrified to being absolutely mortified. It’s not the first time this topic has been brought up in my little group of friends. Sometimes just to either me or Hayden, but sometimes, it’s in front of everyone with a little bit of teasing.

It was just in good fun. I think.

“Leave Jane alone,” Lizzie says, giving Marcel a glare. “They’re working things out.”

I guess that’s what you could call it. If working it out meant chuckling about it later and me holding my breath for Hayden to say that we should try it. But, the last time we did talk about it, Hayden just smirked and gave me a hug.

“Wouldn’t want to ruin our friendship, Jane,” he told me that time. “We’ve been friends since we were two.”

But isn’t that how a good romance goes? People can have their fairy tales. What I think we had is something bound by fate. We know each other better than we know ourselves.

Wouldn’t we be the perfect match? And then I can justify these strange feelings that I’ve been having for the past two years. And it didn’t used to be like that—hell, Hayden and I grew up together, as neighbors. I saw him naked when I was three years old. We were best friends, shared birthday parties and toys. When his mother went to the grocery store, my mom would watch after us. When my parents argued before they got divorced, I’d sneak over to his room and stay there until morning.

But then, when high school started, something changed. He started looking less like the Hayden that peed himself in the pool when we were five and more like…well, Hayden the heartthrob. His arms filled out from playing football and his acne, bad in middle school, finally stopped being a problem, leaving smooth, tanned skin.

All the girls loved him. And I found that I’m one of them.

“Hey.” I jump and blink at Lizzie who had spoken. She looks at me, concern etched into her face. “You okay?”

I shrug, trying to play it cool. Not like I was just trying to figure out my love life. “Yeah. Totally fine.”

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

I give a hollow laugh. “Well, isn’t that why we’re here? To see a ghost?”

“That’s why Hayden’s here,” Marcel says, breaking into the conversation. “I’m here for my twenty bucks when he pisses himself and has to come crawling back.”

“You really think he’ll come running back?” Cole asks dazedly.

“Yeah,” Marcel says. “Didn’t you see how scared he looked?”

Actually, Hayden didn’t look very scared at all. Marcel’s uneasy chuckling makes him look like he’s terrified out of his mind.

“Well, I’m scared, and I’m not even on the other side,” Lizzie says, straightening up. “Ghost or no ghost.”

“Do you really think he’ll see her?” I ask.

“Something would have to be real for you to see it,” Marcel says cockily. At my narrowed eyes, he belts out a laugh. “What, do you believe in Sleepless Beauty, Jane? C’mon, I’ll give you forty bucks to go join your lover boy.”

“He’s not my lover boy,” I say, too defensively.

“Leave her alone,” Cole sighs.

I can’t help but feel like I should be on the other side of that fence though. Like this is all my doing. After all, I was the one who brought up Sleepless Beauty. We were over at Lizzie’s having some drinks and just, you know, talking when we played a game of Truth or Dare to spice things up a little bit. I chose Truth and that was where I admitted that I’d been terrified of Sleepless beauty since before I could remember. Hayden backed up my story, which turned into this dare/bet from Marcel.

And here we are.

Time seems to go by so slowly here. I talk with Lizzie, discuss boys and the squad. Marcel and Cole do their own thing, but we’re sure to be quiet, since the cops could show up at any point.

Cole kicks a rock, sending it off into the darkness. I watch as he paces, his hands in his hoodie’s front pocket. Such a quiet guy.

Meanwhile, Marcel is playing on his phone, the screen lighting up his face in sinister blues and whites. Marcel’s the loud one, with a wide grin and the wit of someone who’d grow up to be Seth Rogan. He fits in any group at school, and for some reason, chooses to hang out with us.

“I’ve got such a bad feeling about this,” Lizzie murmurs, her frown mirroring my own.

I hope she’s not right. Lizzie replaced Hayden as my best friend when we went through a period of boys have cooties. With her darker hair and bright blue eyes, she’s gorgeous. And I know she’d do anything for me.

Then there’s Hayden, the jock and the brains all rolled into one. Like Marcel, he fits into any group on campus, and I think that’s why they’re best friends.

And last, but not least, there’s me. Jane Dyer, the popular girl because she can do a double handspring for the cheerleading squad. I’m smart too, and with my dad’s lawyer connections, I’ll probably get into an Ivy League college after high school. From there, I don’t know what else to expect out of life.

But I expect Hayden to be a part of it.

“Been in there for a bit, hasn’t he?” Cole murmurs suddenly.

As if on cue, Marcel’s alarm goes off. The loud noise in the otherwise quiet cemetery makes both Lizzie and me shriek in unison.

“Jesus, Marcel, do you have to have the Self Destruct Alarm on your phone?” Lizzie gasps.

Marcel snickers as he takes out his phone and turns it off. “Keeping you on your toes, ladies.”

Lizzie scoffs, but not before I see movement on the other side of the fence.


Silence. The rest of my friends follow my gaze towards the space where I’m squinting at, and come up behind me. There’s some movement there, so there is definitely something on the other side.

I lean forward, threading my hands through the bars to get a better look.


“I saw her!”

I scream and stumble backwards, away from the fence. Hayden stands in the space where my face had been. He’s grinning widely at us from the other side of the fence, his smile contagious. My scream, however, sets Marcel rolling with laughter.

“Dammit, Hayden!” I say. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

Hayden at least has the decency to look apologetic as he scales the fence. He climbs it faster this time, his movements more sure than they were when he climbed over an hour ago. He drops to the ground and dusts off his pants.

“Gah, I guess I owe you twenty bucks,” Marcel mutters, taking out his wallet.

“What do you mean, you saw her?” Cole asks, frowning. “Who’s her?”

“Who do you think?” Hayden asks as he takes the bill from Marcel. “I saw Sleepless Beauty.”

The floor seems to tilt underneath me and I force myself to stay upright. “You saw her? Did she?”

Hayden beams at me. “I saw her. She kissed me. Told me she loved me. And…”

“And?” I ask.

Hayden just smiles. But there’s something different about him, something that I can’t quite place. Because he looks joyful at the moment. Glowing, like he’s found true happiness.

“You’re so full of crap,” Marcel mutters.

“Am I?” Hayden asks, sounding genuinely offended.

“Remind me never to bet with you again,” Marcel counters. “And how do I know that you were actually at her grave?”

“Oh, I was,” Hayden promises. “And she’s beautiful.”

Marcel makes a disgusted noise as he turns away, grumbling about Hayden cheating and being a dipshit. I want to ask Hayden more, but from the roll of Lizzie’s eyes, she doesn’t believe him either.

“Let’s get going, Jane,” Lizzie says, as she’s joined by Cole.

Hayden gives me a playful shrug as he follows them, leaving me to frown in his wake. Did he or did he not see Sleepless Beauty? He seems all right, not scared out of his wits like I would have been in his shoes. Then again, Hayden was always the stronger one, so he could spend an hour in a graveyard by himself, just to make a point.

I sigh and start walking after them. But a few steps from the fence, I turn back, feeling the eyes of something on me as I walk away. The cemetery is still silent, still dark.

I can’t help but feel like something very wrong had happened out here tonight.

by Samantha Gregory, Kat Gracey, Margo Bond Collins, Erin Hayes, M. L Sparrow
April 1, 2017
Genre: Dark fantasy
Publisher: SKGregory
Number of pages: 261
Word Count: 70,000
Cover Artist: SKGregory

Sleepless Beauty
by Erin Hayes
Jane knows the tale of Sleepless Beauty well, an urban legend in her home town which tells the story of a beautiful woman who enraptures her prey with a kiss and steals their sleep. Jane tries to convince herself that it's just a fairy tale, until Sleepless Beauty kisses her best friend Hayden. 

The Beast Within
S. K. Gregory
For Izzy, working with supernatural beings is part of her job. When she is called to clean up the mess of a cursed werewolf, her life takes a dark turn as she faces the beast within.

Spectral Velocity 
by Margo Bond Collins
Aboard the Rapunzel-320, Cybele helps a plague ridden planet with medical supplies. Her budding romance with Finlay is both forbidden and risky. Can she figure out a way for them to be together or is she doomed to a life of solitude? 

The Origin of Snow
by M. L. Sparrow
A king searches for a wife and turns to a mysterious witch for help. Will the girl she produces be his true love or his downfall? 

Wonderland Casino
by Kat Gracey
A detective searches for a missing woman called Alyce in the infamous Wonderland Casino. As he joins a game of high stakes he soon realizes that there is more than money on the line.

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