Thursday, June 13, 2013

Once Upon A Twist by Michelle Smart / Aimee Duffy: Guest Post and Excerpt


By Michelle Smart

I love fairy tales. I love the magic of it all, the knowledge that good always triumphs over evil. I love the idea of a poor cobbler working his fingers to the bone and being rewarded by elves making the finest shoes one could ever wear. I love the idea of a princess being stuck with a frog who’s rescued her ball, and having to dine with him and sleep with him and kiss him… and then he turns into a prince! *Stamps foot* - I want a prince!

But I also have a dark side (much like these same fairy tales with their evil protagonists that must be overcome for my princess to find her Happy Ever After). I’m not a huge gore fan, but I do have a ‘thing’ for zombies. Incidentally, I started watching a new show a couple of nights ago called The Returned. It’s French and features zombies – except these aren’t the flesh eating ones we know and love. These zombies are just like us, they look like us and eat proper food not brains. Except they’re dead – some have been dead for decades, but they don’t know it. I’ve only watched the first episode but it’s so beautifully written and acted that I had goosebumps the whole time I was watching it. Anyway, I digress.

The first zombie film I ever saw that I actually liked was Shaun of The Dead, which is utterly hilarious. Then I saw the film 28 Days Later, which is not hilarious. But it is eerie and brilliant. I also love I Am Legend.

Back to the fairy tales: even as a child I couldn’t understand why the heroine had to be so pathetic. The male protagonists were always daring and dashing, but the females were always drippy… unless, of course, they were cast as the wicked witch/stepmother. It used to make me furious that the heroines I loved were not allowed to save themselves – it made me even more furious when they didn’t even try. Prince Charming always had to save the day. Pah! And out of all of them, Cinderella made me the crossest - I wanted nothing more than for her to stop snivelling and stick up for herself.

Then I realised that being a writer meant I could write my own Cinderella book and make the heroine the exact kind of action girl I’d always wanted her to be, and more! Because, although I wanted to keep it firmly rooted in Fairy Tale Land, I also wanted to put a proper twist on it and to raise the danger stakes. And as I had complete creative license to write this book exactly how I wanted, that meant sticking a bunch of zombies in to liven up the proceedings (you’ll have to read the book to discover how, exactly, her glass slippers becomes a godsend at killing the nasty flesh eating monsters). What I ended up with is a story that any small child would be warped for life if they read!  Even better, when I got my critique partner to have a read, she loved it so much she decided to rewrite her own fairy tale too, Little Red Riding Hood. And thus, Once Upon A Twist was born.

2 Stories/2 Authors
Strong, Kick-butt Heroines

Glass Slippers and Combat Boots
by Michelle Smart

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, the creatures are coming...

In a land run by misogynists, where fair maidens are deemed liable to fall in a dead faint at the sight of blood, Prince Charming is worried – the creatures that have destroyed their neighboring kingdoms are coming for them. He judges it imperative to get all the females to safety, but first he needs to break the enchantment enslaving his One True Love to her hateful home. Oh, and there’s the small matter of the Ball to get through too.

But when the creatures reach them ahead of their expected time, all plans are foregone. Can Ella break her wicked stepmother’s enchantment? Can she save her handsome Prince and the kingdom before midnight strikes? And can she show his soldiers what it really means to kick  a monster’s butt? The clock is ticking…

Glass Slippers and Combat Boots excerpt 
“She murdered my father – I can’t prove it but I know it was Christell who put the poisonous spider in his bed. If she could, she would kill me too but my fairy godmother put her own enchantment on me that stops Christell or my stepsisters from killing me. It doesn’t stop them beating me when the mood takes them, but it is impossible for them to decapitate me or remove a limb or stop my heart from beating.”
“Why doesn’t your fairy godmother break the enchantment?”
“Ha!” Ella rolled her eyes and heaved herself up. “I haven’t seen her since my father’s funeral. She’s elderly and very scatty.” 
James’s easy-going smile had vanished. His brow had furrowed and he stared at her for long moments before speaking. “Christell’s taking an awful risk letting you into the forest every day.” 
“Like most of the humans in this land, she avoids the forest.” She dragged a finger along his stubbly cheek, tracing the long scar that ran along it, a permanent reminder of the war he had been fighting in for King and Country. “But you are braver than most humans.” 
Darkness clouded his eyes. “I wish you had told me before… Ella, we need to find a way to break the enchantment.” 
“Until my fairy godmother shows up, there is no way. Christell’s magic is too powerful and personal for an unconnected sorcerer to break it.” 
“It’s not safe for you here,” he bit out. “I wanted to marry you and take you as far away as I could. It’s not safe here for anyone.”

Michelle Smart
My love affair with books began as a baby when, according to my mum, I would throw my teddies out of the cot and cuddle my books instead. This love for all things wordy has never left me. I have always been a voracious reader, crossing all genres depending on my mood. Looking back, my first experience with romance was as a child devouring copious amounts of fairy tales. As my reading tastes evolved, encompassing amongst others Mills & Boon, Jackie Collins and Jilly Cooper, I discovered something special – that a book has the capacity to make my heart beat as if falling in love for the first time.

When not reading or pretending to do the housework, I love nothing more than creating worlds of my own featuring handsome heroes and the sparkly, feisty women who refuse to take crap from them. I hope my books can make my readers' hearts beat a little faster too.

Little Facts About Me:
* I live in England with my extremely tolerant husband, two young sons and two gerbils.
* I want to move house as I am running out of space for my books.
* I am allergic to housework. I am trying to find a doctor to confirm this diagnosis.

If you would like to follow me on twitter, you will find me @chellebellwrite. Sorry but I don't auto-follow - I do love interacting with fellow tweeps though!

Michelle’s Links: 
Reunited With Red by Aimee Duffy

Many, many years later…

When Ruby visits her grandmother in the deep, dark forest, she stumbles into a nightmare. Her grandma’s been attacked by a wolf-like creature, and an ancient disease that turned people into monsters is back… and so is the cold-hearted ex she walked out on a year ago.

Now she has to either accept Jeremy’s help or face becoming a monster herself. Fighting alongside the man she once loved isn’t easy, especially when she discovers there’s more to Jeremy than the cheating bastard she took him for.

As they fight to survive the disease and save those they love, can they keep from falling for each other all over again?


Reunited With Red excerpt

“Where are you going?” she asked.
“To get the gun. Stay there,” he added when he heard the water splashing around her.

The splashing stopped, and she didn’t speak. He pulled a small torch from his pocket, clicked the button. Nothing happened. Shaking his head, he considered waiting for the clouds to pass the moon so he could see properly. That could take minutes they didn’t have.

Dropping to his knees, he felt blindly around the ground, but it was like looking for a natural blonde at Hugh Hefner’s. Then again, he’d be able to find Red there—or anywhere—even without the gift of sight. She may still be in the water, but he could remember her lavender scent, remember her silky smooth skin. Remember how his body fired up like it had been injected with a semi-lethal dose of hormones when she was in a ten foot radius.

“How…d-do you kn-know it will f-f-follow us.” Her teeth rattled together as she spoke.

Without the heat of his body, she must be freezing. He increased the speed of his search, thought about leaving the damn thing. After all he had plenty more at home, what was one shotgun when he had one in every closet? But keeping her alive for the journey back was more important than keeping her warm.


He considered how much to tell her, after all, he’d signed away the right to be honest with anyone, even the rest of the world when the half-dead creatures started attacking in the night. When he realized what had started it all, he had sworn he would put an end to what he helped create, even though opening his mouth meant he risked jail. Or worse, the other person’s death.

He’d been responsible for enough deaths already.


Aimee Duffy
All my life I’ve been dreaming up stories. My mum said when I was little I used to make all the My Little Pony figurines talk to each other, and even fall in love. Later, it was Barbie and Ken. In my teens, I played matchmaker with my friends at school.
When I wasn’t creating imaginary scenarios, I had my nose stuck in books, reading across genres and there was one thing I loved more than the escapism—the fact a story can touch me so deeply, like I was experiencing everything along with my characters. I knew from early on this was something I wanted to do for others.

Fast forward a few years, and the dream almost got lost in real life, but I still couldn’t shake it completely. Now I write sizzling romance with the hope of making my readers’ hearts race like they are falling in love for the first time.

Aimee’s Links:



Aimee Duffy said...

Thanks for featuring our book :o)

Michelle Smart said...

Thank you Laurie! :-)