Once upon a Shoe is my first published book, and it’s also the book that I took the longest to work on. Part of that was figuring out the world, which my other published books share, but a lot of it was fear of showing it to anyone and worrying that nobody would like it. Before Utopiacon 2016, I had no intention of ever publishing this or any other books, despite the ideas floating in my head. But my husband has a big mouth and before I know it, what was supposed to simply be a chance to meet some of my favorite authors became a huge wave of encouragement from them and other authors who were at the convention. Due to their influence, I started to consider the idea that I could be an author myself. I wasn’t entirely certain if I wanted to publish yet, but I left more open to the idea and determined to at least write this story.
I think it was maybe late 2017 when I asked for feedback from a few other authors. But it wasn’t until early to mid 2018 before I reached out to my editor and scheduled her services. It was especially challenging to not allow myself to continue to tweak my story while I waited for my scheduled time to get it edited because that wouldn’t happen until late 2018. By the time both rounds of editing was done, it was early 2019. Once I finished editing, I hit publish and listed it on Booksprout for reviews all one the same day. I waited to enroll it in KU until after the due date I had set for the Booksprout reviews.
Anyway, I should get to the details of the book itself. I’ll try to keep the spoilers minimal, but I make no guarantees. If you don’t want any spoilers for my book, stop reading this now, because I can’t not give at least some spoilers and talk about my version.
It’s interesting how far an idea can change when you’re writing a book. For Once upon a Shoe, my idea started with the stepmother, Iris. I started off wondering what if the stepmother isn’t the stereotypical bad guy that she is usually is? Although I’ve since read a different version that answers this same question, I hadn’t seen anything even remotely similar to the concept before I started working on this in 2016. Most of my first draft based on this idea was cut in later drafts because I realized that I was writing more than one story. About half of my very rough first draft was written from Iris’ point of view and took place before Ella was even born. Iris will still get her own story later because for many reasons it is near and dear to my heart, but I realized that for a Cinderella story, I was starting it way too early.
Aside from knowing that I wanted a nice stepmother, I went in with a few strong ideas of what I did and didn’t want to bring in from the originals. I wanted my prince to have a personality, closer to the Pharaoh of Rhodopis than the boring prince of most versions. But unlike Rhodopis’ pharaoh, I made Aeden a bit jaded. I mean, I couldn’t see why a prince would be happy to just go along with the idea that he needs to pick a bride at the ball from a bunch of random strangers. The fact that Ella and Aeden were friends was another early decision.
Of course, the fact that they were best friends early on gave me the problem of deciding exactly how and why they weren’t close anymore by the time the necessary ball came around. Although I didn’t save most of the earliest drafts, this problem was one that I approached from several different directions before I made my final decision on having the split happen during the funeral. And even that scene went through numerous revisions before I felt like I had it right.
I mentioned in my post about my favorite Cinderella’s that Ever After is my absolute favorite version, and I certainly drew inspiration from that version in the idea that I had one nice stepsister and a mean one. But I certainly needed to know exactly why Anna (the mean stepsister in my book) was acting the way she did. In many versions I’ve read, I have always felt like there was a lack of motivation being shown for the evil stepfamily, so it was important to me to make sure that I did let that shine through, even though the task wasn’t an easy one without letting Anna be a point of view character. If you’re a newsletter subscriber, I have an early prologue (among other scenes) on my subscriber page that was from her point of view. If you aren’t on my mailing list and you want to check out my subscriber page, you can sign up here. Whether you subscribe or not, I do have plans to give Anna her own story in the future.
If you didn’t just stumble on this post without any knowledge about me, you probably know that my Once upon a Story series is made up of standalone stories that include little Easter eggs for other books in the series. The biggest reason I chose to write them as standalone is because as a reader, I have a love/hate relationship with series. It can be really difficult to get to the end of a book only to find out that the story isn’t over and the next book won’t be out for some unknown amount of time. Since I had several ideas for this world, and no idea how long it would take for me to finish all of them, I wanted to make sure not to leave readers hanging with a cliffhanger ending. Some of the Easter eggs were pretty big and others are more subtle. The one for my second book, Once upon a Silent Song, was certainly much smaller than what I wrote in for my third book, Once upon a Rose. Then there are the threads to stories yet to come, though not everything is connected to this story. I wonder how many you’ve found?
Since I’ve mentioned all of the major decisions I made for the book, I should probably stop before I spoil the whole thing, LOL. But if you have any specific questions, let me know in the comments and I’d love to answer it for you.
If you haven’t read it yet, you can find Once upon a Shoe on Amazon. It’s free to read in KU. And here’s the official description:
Magic shoes, family problems, and a midnight deadline… How much do you really know about Cinderella’s fairytale?
Ella always knew she’d marry for love or not at all. She wanted nothing less in a marriage than the obvious affection she witnessed between her father and her stepmother, Iris. But when her father disappears and Iris sinks into depression, Ella cuts herself off from the rest of the world as she struggles with her own emotions, a disgruntled stepsister, and an overwhelming workload. Armed with a fragile hope, she must go to the royal ball to find her father. But a reunion with her childhood best friend threatens to shatter the walls she’s built around her heart.
Crown Prince Aeden always hated his status. He felt like social engagements and propriety were a waste of his time and energy, especially with girls who were just interested in a crown. One such confrontation with Ella led to the start of an unlikely friendship. Over time, Aeden realizes that his feelings for Ella have evolved into something more. But before he can tell her, tragedy strikes and Ella pushes him away. When he finally sees her, Aeden is determined to do whatever it takes to not lose her again. He must convince Ella that they are meant to be together before his time runs out.
Stepmothers aren’t always villains and princes aren’t always charming. With so much uncertainty, do they have what it takes to create a happy ending?
The Once upon a Story series consists of interconnected standalones that can be read in any order.