Cover Reveal! Rapunzel: Stay at Home Mom

Today is the day!

Julie was in town, and we had tons of fun. We also did business stuff for publishing with everyone on the team. The roll out for Rapunzel looks like smooth sailing from now on. I’m going to keep this short, but I do have a word count this week: 1000. It’s a slow start to the year, but it’s a start. Please post your word count below and tell me what you think of the cover!

I love working with Kevin because he really listens to me and is so talented. You can view more of his work at

Rapunzel Now

Rapunzel has survived centuries to be one of the more popular and referenced fairy tales in modern times. She doesn’t beat out Cinderella or Snow White by any means, but did you have the Snow Queen memorized before Frozen came out? Rapunzel is a simple story on the surface: a child is stolen from her parents, grows up in a tower and is saved by a prince. But beneath the simplicity are complicated themes of yearning, parenting, adoption, and true love—themes that are still important today.

Like all fairy tales though, Rapunzel continues to undergo changes to fit the times. When Disney reinvented Rapunzel for today’s audience, they devised an intriguing and thrilling story for Tangled. It’s the only version I know of where Rapunzel is reunited with her parents. We are a very parent centric society and look down on any parents who don’t hold their children up as number one in their lives. I think that Disney realized today’s audience needed to know that the mother and father of Rapunzel were always looking for her.

Tangled is also the only version where Rapunzel is born a princess and her rescuer is a commoner. Not only is he a commoner, but he fits the bad boy mold perfectly. Today’s audiences are looking for a little more in a hero than the past perfection of the Disney Prince had to offer. Making Rapunzel’s hero sketchy really tapped into what today’s lovers of Twilight movies are looking for.

But the best part of Tangled is Rapunzel’s cooky personality. I have always thought Rapunzel would be at least a little crazy being locked up in a tower all the time, and I really appreciated Disney addressing it. Rapunzel is often two dimensional in her own story, and Disney really brought her to life.

Though I enjoyed Tangled, my favorite modern retelling is the Rapunzel part of the Broadway musical Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim. Into the Woods is a mash-up of several fairy tales. I was lucky enough to play in the pit orchestra for a local production of Into the Woods several years ago. While other songs were my favorite (Red Riding Hood and the Princes’ songs particularly) Rapunzel’s story was the best story in the first half of the show. Sondheim holds a magnifying glass up to the themes of abuse and parenting in his treatment of Rapunzel. The witch is often the most empathetic character in the play, especially when she’s singing about her reasons to keep Rapunzel locked away in “Stay with me”. I found myself constantly having to remember that the witch did steal the baby and did lock her away. Making characters gray rather than black and white is something else modern audiences are looking for. We like stories messy, and making the witch not exactly evil was a brilliant move.

In Into the Woods, Rapunzel is also a bit crazy, as in Tangled, because her world revolves around her hair. I would’ve loved to see Sondheim portray her more in the happily ever after segment of Into the Woods, but unfortunately Rapunzel gets squashed by the giant.

I think having her die in the second act has always annoyed me because in March I wrote my own version of Rapunzel’s happily ever after that didn’t involve being stepped on by a giant. As mentioned in last week’s post, Rapunzel had twins. Thinking about a woman who was locked away in a tower for most of her life becoming a parent really sparked my imagination. She must be a totally anxiety ridden mother bent on keeping her children safe even to the point of their detriment. This was a woman I could empathize with—myself being a nut job after the birth of my first child.

When my husband and I started talking seriously about the self publishing business, I decided Rapunzel: Stay at Home Mom would be the first story we’d publish. Well, I got obsessed with my pen name, and published first under it, but this will be the first story self-published under my real name :) Even though it’s a short story, I wanted it to have illustrations like all good fairy tales and didn’t think that would happen at a short story market. Sometimes a story gets one picture, but I really wanted more. Rapunzel: Stay at Home Mom begins with her in the shadow of the tower at her prince’s castle, watching her children playing under the deadly sun. As promised, here is the tiniest of sneak previews:

by Kevin Yancey

I hope you’ve enjoyed these mini-essays about “The Maiden in the Tower” stories and how they’ve both changed and stayed the same throughout their retellings. I’m really looking forward to the December release of Rapunzel: Stay at Home Mom. I hope you are too!


Inspiration for Blooming Hedgehog

Happy Monday!

First a bit of business before I talk about the inspiration for Blooming Hedgehog. If you missed it, yesterday I posted the cover art for my upcoming novella. Please take a look. It’s premiering on Thursday from Jupiter Gardens Press!

Also, please come back to the site tomorrow. The editors at The Colored Lens have been kind enough to offer to answer your questions about the publishing business. If you have a burning question about the submissions process or want to know about the mysteries of acceptance or anything in between, please post them in the comments section of tomorrow’s post from June 11-17. They’ll be answering them in guest posts either sprinkled throughout the summer or in one post in July depending on how many questions they get. I’d really like to give them a lot to think about, so I’ll buy the first five posters the upcoming summer issue of The Colored Lens.

And now, the inspiration for Blooming Hedgehog. Blooming Hedgehog originated a few years ago when I was in a writing class taught by John Shirley. It was a great class not only because of the teacher, but also because all the students in the class participated. Most writing classes I take, half the students pop in on occasion or not at all, which amazes me because writing classes are expensive. But this particular class, everyone posted work every week and commented on everyone else’s work every week. Needless to say, I didn’t want to be the slacker, but it meant any idea that flickered through my head I grabbed and held onto until it was a story I could post.

Although Blooming Hedgehog is the first of my satyr stories to get published, it’s not the only one I’ve written. In one of my husband’s D&D campaigns, he made an NPC  out of a satyr named Silas.

Silas is one of my favorite characters ever, and I got this notion that if evil undead creatures like vampires can become beloved, why not satyrs? I mean, at least satyrs are warm blooded. The class happened during the summer, and I thought it would be interesting to have a woman hiding in the desert from a satyr because why would a satyr ever visit a desert? The story evolved from there.

I wanted to make a cactus central to the story because I thought it was important to have a native plant as the focus. The blooming hedgehog seemed ideal— it’s rather dainty for desert foliage and can sit on top of a table. Or it can be enormous:

When I began my 100 rejections quest, I found the story in my files and thought, “Why not send it out?” I read through all the comments from class and changed the ending quite a bit. The first place I sent it to was a professional market, and it made it to the second round! I couldn’t believe it. But, it wasn’t accepted, and so I sent it to another and then another. It made it to the final round a few other times, but no luck with publication. Along the way, I cut it down to 1000 words so that I could submit it to flash fiction markets. I’d finally put it away for good when Penn Cove announced the theme for May was flowers. Since the flowers are central to the story, I pulled it out one more time and crossed my fingers. It finally made it all the way to publication!

I hope you liked it, and if you haven’t read it, I hope you check it out. Another satyr story of mine has received good comments from editors, but they always reject it for the same reason: too linear. Perhaps I’ll turn it into a novella and continue my campaign for satyrs to take over the speculative world!