Tiny Victories and Tremendous Satisfaction


I’ve always used storytelling as a vehicle to get my work out there, but it is also an art form that I love in and of itself. So, since January of 2017, I’ve done these events called Tea & Tales where I tell a story out of Ella Bandita as well as fables, myths, and folk tales from all over the world. We lounge on pillows, drink herbal tea, chill out, and the audience listens while I talk. Sometimes I sell a novel out of this, but for the most part, donations are the only payment I get out of it. The first year, I quickly figured out that Tea & Tales 2x/month-year-round is not realistic. So Tea & Tales has since become a monthly event that happens seasonally from the fall until mid-Spring when the days are noticeably longer.

I was burned out at the end of this season. I was more than ready for the last Tea & Tales on April 7th to come and go because the light was increasing along with my restlessness, and I was more than ready to be done for the rest of spring and summer. I’m proud of what I’ve done with Tea & Tales, that I’ve stuck with it for 3 seasons, and have slowly built up a network of regulars that I can count on somebody showing up.

For the first 2 seasons, I had only 1 regular who I could count on, and Simran is fabulous. He kept me going, showing up when nobody else did. And so long as he was there, I told my stories and got some practice. He even participated as a guest storyteller a couple of times, and he painted my Tea & Tales sandwich board sign on both sides. Isn’t it fabulous?

During the 2nd season, I promoted and emailed and pushed and had larger audiences as a result, but I did not gain new regulars. I tend to find my regulars through the things I like to do. For example, I love espresso and my favorite barista came to a few of the Tea & Tales this season. A friend of mine has been coming, and a couple of potential new ones came who I met through a women’s group that I recently joined. Marc started coming in the 2nd season, and he invited me to do a skit with him through Open Heart Mic after I did a storytelling there.

And on this last Tea & Tales, a young woman showed up who had seen me last year at Open Heart Mic. This was the first she had seen of my Tea & Tales on Facebook, and she jumped right in. The fact that she came a YEAR after she had seen me perform at Open Heart Mic left me elated.

If that’s not the highest compliment to what I do, I don’t know what is. These are the small victories that keep us going. I may have to promote more next season, but I also need to get out there at other events. That was a gorgeous eye opener, and a warm glow that will last me until the fall when I do it all over again.

How to Revamp a Fairy Tale


We all love them: the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, the new re-tellings of fabulous fairy tales by contemporary authors such as Aimee Bender or Kevin Brockmeier. Fairy and folk tales have a lot of allure. They touch on universal topics, they're strange, they captivate, transport, and feel real all at once. Fables are the inspiration for Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. They're easy to contemporize because they have such universal themes. This post is going to give you a few quick, easy applications for transforming your favorite story into a new, contemporary piece. Want to be inspired?

Download your free story of Scheherazade - my retelling.


How to Make an Old Story New

There are, of course, many ways to re-tell a story. You do it all the time when you're telling your friend what happened on the latest episode of New Girl, or when you're describing the jerk at work whose sour attitude always spoils your day (I hope you've more experience with the former, not the latter!). So that's your story telling backbone. Now, take a fairy tale you know a little something about -- it doesn't have to be well -- and try some of these exercises on it to see how you like the story you've created.

I'll start with my favorite:

  • Write the story from the point of view of the "evil stepmother/brother/witch/sorcerer" and make the reader sympathetic to them. OR, and this is maybe even better, make the sympathetic character the evil one (ie, Cinderella's really a nasty, scheming gold-digger).
  • Replicate the story exactly, but change the setting to a contemporary landscape. For example, Francesca Lia Block updated Cupid and Psyche by turning them into a couple who met on an online dating site. (It's a GREAT story! Read it!)
  • Combine two fables. See where the original stories intersect and create your own based on that comingling. (like the little Mermaid meets Leda's swan)

« Léda et le cygne », huile sur bois (H. 64,5 cm ; l. 80,5 cm) réalisée avant 1600 par Pierre Paul Rubens (1577-1640) - Œuvre faisant partie de la collection Stephen Mazoh en dépôt au musée des beaux-arts de Houston (États-Unis). Photographie réalisée lors de l'exposition temporaire l'Europe de Rubens - Musée du Louvre (Lens).

  • Ms Litterati recommends this, and it sounds like loads of fun: take away the magic. "A fairytale without magic sounds completely ludicrous at first but it’s a way to put a fresh twist on your story. Think about the movie A Cinderella Story: it follows the storyline of Cinderella without having an actual fairy godmother to wave her wand and help transform Sam, the “Cinderella” character."
  • Copy the plot of a fairy tale, then put in characters from another book. Everyone handles situations differently. Just imagine if Hermione were in Harry Potter's place...

What are you ideas on how to revamp a fairy tale? Link to your story in the comments if you want to share one!

Ours is a highly individualized culture, with a great faith in the work of art as a unique one-off, and the artist as an original, a godlike and inspired creator of unique one-offs. But fairy tales are not like that, nor are their makers. Who first invented meatballs? In what country? Is there a definitive recipe for potato soup? Think in terms of the domestic arts. "This is how I make potato soup." --Angela Carter

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Get Ready to LAUNCH!


With the start of September I'm ready to announce the release of the final ebook in the Ella Bandita and the Wanderer story. For my loyal readers, I'm offering it FREE today and tomorrow only!  

Despite growing up with the Bard's warnings to always follow his heart, the Wanderer loses to Ella Bandita, who curses him to the unfamiliar life of the Wolf. Tormented by memories of his life as a man, the Wolf is overcome with grief and unspeakable loneliness. One day, the Wolf takes solace from the music of a fiddle well played. And thus, the Wolf finds some kind of salvation in the friendship of the Shepherd who spares his life. But the Shepherd has stories and a secret of his own. Together, the Shepherd and the Wolf form an unusual friendship. Each of them will be tested as their journey brings them back to the Sorcerer's Caverns, where the nameless daughter of the Patron sold her heart for a change of destiny and a chance at love.

There, they will meet again, Ella Bandita and the Wanderer.

The Heart of the Lone Wolf Book by Montgomery Mahaffey of Free Flying Press