5 books set in Sonoma County

Crissi vineyard
Me, standing in a Kenwood vineyard near Jack London’s ranch.

As a Sonoma County resident, I love reading books that are based around here. Some of the world’s best authors have called Sonoma County their home, including Jack London and Jack Kerouac, who have both written about Sonoma County in their novels.

That one time my kid thought I was one of the most famous *people* in the world. I’m writing about families again for the Press Democrat! Tune into my stories and other topics at the family blog, The Village. 

Road2HopeFontFinalWith its gorgeous landscape, towering redwoods, and close proximity to the ocean, Sonoma County serves as a wonderful backdrop for any story, including several of mine that I’ve written. The town of Petaluma plays a large part in the Hope series. Locals will recognize a few landmark restaurants mentioned in all three of the novels. Bodega Bay is the backdrop to my magical realism romance, Come Here, Cupcake (a book that will one day have a sequel!). And the book I’m the dystopian romance I’m currently working on, Numbered, mentions several Sonoma County and Northern California locations, though it’s set in the future.

Here are a few other books worth checking out that are set in Sonoma County.
Note:  I use affiliate links at no cost to you, but that offer me a small kickback with every purchase to help fund my book projects.

undersideofjoyThe Underside of Joy, Sere Prince Halverson
Halverson’s debut novel takes place in the fictional town of Elbow, but with familiar landmarks anyone in Sonoma County would recognize. The story is about Ella Beene, a widow caught in a custody battle for her stepdaughter with the girl’s natural mother, despite the fact that Ella has been the a steady mother figure in the young girl’s life. Following her husband’s drowning death, Ella is not only facing this battle, but also fighting her own internal battle as her husband’s financial secrets come to light. Halverson’s writing is exquisite, detailing the gorgeous landscape in delicate prose and telling a heartbreaking story with tenderness and heart.

afirestoryA Fire Story, Brian Fies
Anyone who lives in Sonoma County has their own personal story of what happened to them in October 2017 when Santa Rosa and surrounding areas burned in a devastating firestorm. Graphic novelist Brian Fies had his own story to tell, sharing the horrible details of fleeing his home in the dead of night, and coming back to a pile of ash where his house once stood. Through illustrations and intimate details, Fies not only shares what it was like to lose his home, but also the stories of other people who lost their homes, along with what the recovery process has been like. I’ve met Fies on several occasions, and he is just the nicest, most humble man in person. But you should also know that his story won a Grammy when it was retold as a video on PBS. Fies gave a voice to many of us who will never forget October, 2017.

The following books I have not read, but they are on my To Be Read list. The descriptions are from Amazon.

intotheforestInto the Forest, Jean Hegland
Now a major motion picture. Set in the near-future, Into the Forest is a powerfully imagined novel that focuses on the relationship between two teenage sisters living alone in their Northern California forest home. Over 30 miles from the nearest town, and several miles away from their nearest neighbor, Nell and Eva struggle to survive as society begins to decay and collapse around them. No single event precedes society’s fall. There is talk of a war overseas and upheaval in Congress, but it still comes as a shock when the electricity runs out and gas is nowhere to be found. The sisters consume the resources left in the house, waiting for the power to return. Their arrival into adulthood, however, forces them to reexamine their place in the world and their relationship to the land and each other.
P.S. I feel privileged to be in the same writing club as Jean Hegland, who is truly a gifted author.

divisaderoDivisadero, Michael Ondaatje
From the celebrated author of The English Patient and Anil’s Ghost comes a remarkable, intimate novel of intersecting lives that ranges across continents and time. In the 1970s in Northern California a father and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work their farm with the help of Coop, an enigmatic young man who makes his home with them. Theirs is a makeshift family, until it is shattered by an incident of violence that sets fire to the rest of their lives. Divisadero takes us from San Francisco to the raucous backrooms of Nevada’s casinos and eventually to the landscape of southern France. As the narrative moves back and forth through time and place, we find each of the characters trying to find some foothold in a present shadowed by the past.

the life she wantsThe Life She Wants, Robyn Carr
In the aftermath of her financier husband’s suicide, Emma Shay Compton’s dream life is shattered. Richard Compton stole his clients’ life savings to fund a lavish life in New York City and, although she was never involved in the business, Emma bears the burden of her husband’s crimes. She is left with nothing. Only one friend stands by her, a friend she’s known since high school, who encourages her to come home to Sonoma County. But starting over isn’t easy, and Sonoma is full of unhappy memories, too. And people she’d rather not face, especially Riley Kerrigan.
Riley and Emma were like sisters—until Riley betrayed Emma, ending their friendship. Emma left town, planning to never look back. Now, trying to stand on her own two feet, Emma can’t escape her husband’s reputation and is forced to turn to the last person she thought she’d ever ask for help—her former best friend. It’s an uneasy reunion as both women face the mistakes they’ve made over the years. Only if they find a way to forgive each other—and themselves—can each of them find the life she wants.
P.S. Carr also wrote A Summer in Sonoma, a sweet romance story.

Do you have any favorite books that are set in your hometown?

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4 of my favorite books I’ve read this year (so far)

4 books to read

This year, I set out to read 100 books. We are now almost 1/4 of the way through the year, and I’ve just reached the quarter mark of my reading goal with 25 books. To celebrate, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite books I’ve read this year. At the end, I’ll share some of my secrets for reading fast. Also, I’d love if you commented with some of your favorite books you’ve read because I’m always looking for recommendations!

Note: These are affiliate links, which means I get a small kickback at no extra cost to you when you purchase through them. The recommendations are purely my own, based on my own reading experience.

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, by Meg Elison

midwifeBecause I’m currently working on a dystopian novel, I’ve been adding more of this genre to my reading list. This book surprised me at how much I loved it, and it tops my list for a reason. Meg Ellison is a San Francisco Bay Area writer, which is exciting to me since I live in the North Bay (hey neighbor!). This was also her first book, a fact that’s almost unbelievable when you begin reading this book. Elison’s way of rounding out her characters is incredible, and her description places you right there in the story.

The premise of the book is that a disease has swept over the earth, killing almost anyone, especially women. The women who do survive find they’re unable to get have children, as they and/or their infant dies during childbirth. Women are also such a rarity that those who have survived death are in danger of enslavement by predator men.

The main character is a female in this world, but she takes on the persona of a man to keep herself safe. The way Elison changes this character’s identity is seamless and artful. With an inexperienced author, it could have come off as confusing, but not so with Elison. The author addresses gender roles, sexuality, morality, and the different ways people cope in the fall of society in this story, and does so with grace and utter believability.

This was one of the first books I read this year, and it’s still stuck with me. It’s the first of a trilogy, and I enjoyed the second book (The Book of Etta) just as much. The third book is due to publish in April.

Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson

jacobThis is an oldie from my childhood that I sat down with one day when I wasn’t feeling well and needed a book that felt kind of like a blanket. This was absolutely my book blanket. In fact, my husband walked in on me when I was almost to the end and caught me with a tear-streaked face and a sob in my throat. I pretty much cried the whole last half of the book, but it was that really good kind of cry that only a great book can produce.

The story follows Louise, a tomboy girl growing up in 1940s Chesapeake Bay, and the twin sister of beautiful Caroline, a girl as fair and delicate as much as Louise is dark and strong. As time goes on, we see Louise struggle with her identity, feeling held back because of the person she is compared to her sister. The story will resonate with anyone who struggles with jealousy or frustration, especially those who grew up with these feelings. It’s a middle grade to young adult book, but don’t let that fool you. The writing is beautiful, and it still stands strong almost 40 years after it was published.

5,331 Miles, by Willow Aster

5331milesI discovered Willow Aster because she teamed up with Tarryn Fisher (one of my favorite authors and human beings) to write the End of Men series, a steamy dystopian romance that will have you fanning yourself as you turn the pages.

5,331 Miles is much more innocent then the End of Men series, but no less incredible. It’s the endearing love story of Jaxson and Mirabelle, two English kids who grew up together and move to the US at separate times, and who also keep missing their chance at love. The characters are flawed and completely human, making mistake after mistake, and still remaining likeable. And the love scenes? Touching and beautiful. This one left me with a smile on my face.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by Sarah Addison Allen

moonSarah Addison Allen is tiptoeing her way into my favorite author slot. Her books have a hint of magic wrapped up in sweet character-driven stories, and her writing is beautifully descriptive, and just as magic as the storyline. This latest book was one I never wanted to end, and yet I couldn’t stop reading until it was done. It’s the story of Emily, a girl who goes to live with her grandfather after her mother dies, and discovers this quirky little town where her mother grew up….and that the noble, altruistic mother she grew up knowing was not the same girl the town knew. Emily finds herself living under the shadow of her mother’s mean girl persona as a teen, and she pays socially for her mother’s mistakes as the town turns their noses up at her. However, Emily also meets a few people who are willing to look past her mother’s mistakes and see the true person this girl really is.

As for the magic, it’s honestly just a sprinkling—which is what I love about Allen’s writing. She doesn’t try to overexplain it or even make it a huge part of the story, but offers just a taste of something mystical that enhances the sweet flavor of the story. I just finished the book last night, and it still lingering with me.

HOW I READ FAST

To read 25 books in three months, it takes a bit of strategy. First off, I read every day, mostly at night before I go to bed. This works because I don’t watch a ton of TV (though I do watch American Idol, and was seriously getting irritated that there were TWO two-hour episodes every week. So. Much. TV.). But the kind of books I read matters, too. First off, I do not pad my numbers with novellas, though I’m not opposed to the occasional short read. So far, all of the books I’ve read have been full-length novels. However, length does matter. There’s one book I’m reading that proved to be much longer than I anticipated, and I had to put it down because it was clogging up my progress. Now that I’m ahead of schedule, I plan to pick it up again.

I also pay attention to those genres I read faster than others. My favorite genres are dystopian or end-of-the-world books, magical realism, and romance. That last genre I read the fastest for several reasons. First, I really, really love a good falling in love story, and even better when paired with a bit of steaminess. Second, the writing in standard romance novels isn’t that dense, allowing the reader to breeze through the story without chewing on the words. Yes, I really love reading books with exquisite descriptions and incredible world building (Barbara Kingsolver is my queen). But sometimes I just want a book that serves as an escape. So when my book number is lagging, I reach for chick lit, romance, or any other kind of book that I know I can read in a day or two.

Finally, I make sure I read at least 8 books a month, and strive to read more (since 8×12=96). Once I reach that magic 8 number, I pick up any book I want, even the long ones, and keep on reading.

All right, your turn. What are some of your favorite books you’ve read? Go!

Numbered, a dystopian romance: Meet Noelle & Ryder

My current WIP is Numbered, a dystopian romance, set to release next year (date TBD). While we wait, I thought I’d introduce you to the main characters of this novel.

Everyone, meet Noelle and Ryder.

The year is 2050, and technology has advanced so that people know the exact date of their death and how they’re going to die. In their final 100 days, people give up their jobs, their homes, and everything in their life, say goodbye to their families, and then enter a facility where everything is taken care of for them, spending the last three months of their life in complete comfort with no worries at all.

Noelle is in her 30s, completely healthy, but knows she’s going to die of a heart attack. It’s why she’s spent every day eating healthy and exercising, trying to reverse the end fate has handed her. It’s also why she refuses to get close to anyone. She’s spent her life as a loner, and is ready to spend her last 100 days alone at River’s End.

Ryder has been battling a debilitating sickness for the past decade, but that’s not what haunts him. He’s been let down by every parent figure in his life, and has learned he’s on his own. This becomes even more true when he uncovers a secret just days before coming to River’s End.

Noelle and Ryder come to the facility on Day 100, destined to die on the same day, and determined to remain distant from everyone until the end. But when secrets come to the surface and past lies become truth, their only solace is knowing they have each other.

Hope at the Crossroads, and writing my heart

Crossroads FINALThe countdown is on for the release of Hope at the Crossroads, the 2nd book in the Hope series. The book is set to release on Sept. 5, which is only 7 short weeks away. Right now, beta readers are finishing with the book, and then it goes to the editor before it’s finally released to all of you.

This series is one that’s extremely close to my heart. This morning I was thinking about what the entire 3-book series is about, and what it means for me. When I first wrote The Road to Hope, it was only meant to be a stand-alone book. I wrote about Jill’s loss of her son so that I could write about my feelings of losing my own son to stillbirth. I wrote about Maddie’s journey as a teen mom and becoming homeless so that I could write about my own journey as a young mom who struggled through poverty. I wrote about the Wilsons, who took Hope in and gave her a home, because they were like my own parents who nursed me back to health after I left an abusive marriage.

When I ended that first book, I felt like I’d said everything I needed to say. But then I realized, I really hadn’t, particularly through Maddie. That first book, I spoke about loss, about falling down and then getting back up. What I didn’t write about was what happens next. What happens after you’ve turned your life around? I’ll tell you what—your mind plays tricks on you. Your life might look different, but inside, you’re still that same person you were, ready for the deck to fall in your fragile house of cards. When things are great, you question if you’re worth all this goodness. You are prone to turning back to your old lifestyle. You feel inadequate. You may even sabotage everything you’ve gained in your new life.

In Hope at the Crossroads, Maddie is now living at the Winstons’ house with Hope. She’s just graduated, and her future is promising. She’s learning about the winery business with Mr. Winston, and her life on the streets is far behind. Except, it really isn’t. In her mind, she feels out of place. She will always be that rejected teen, the one her parents threw away, and then her boyfriend. She’ll always be that homeless pregnant teen, the one people avoided looking at while they walked by. She battles feelings of unworthiness while trying to move forward—and this affects every single aspect of her life, and threatens her relationships with the people who love her most.

While the 1st book was about falling back down and getting back up again, book 2 is about the inner battle of identity. It’s about life after a dramatic change, when life has changed but the mind hasn’t. It’s about worthiness, overcoming old narratives, and about how we tend to sabotage ourselves because we feel we’re not worthy.

I wrote this series to get out my most personal story of loss, identity, and redemption. But I also wrote it because I’m not alone. I wrote this to offer HOPE to others who have experienced loss, who struggle with overcoming lies about our identity, and about letting love lead us out of the trenches.

Of everything I’ve ever written, this series is the one that’s my heart.

Books I’ve published so far

In case you’re new here, or you may have missed some of my previous books I’ve released, here’s a full list of all the books I’ve published over the years. Of note is The Road to Hope, which is the first book in the Hope series. Book 2, Hope at the Crossroads, publishes on Sept. 5.

(All of my books can always be found at crissilangwell.com/books, or in the dropdown menu above)

If you’ve read my books, which one is your favorite? Which one are are you reading next?

BOOKS I’VE WRITTEN

ltw-FRONT-cover-finalAll Tiger Lily wants is to be a warrior and serve as one of the protectors of her people. But there are rules in the Miakoda tribe of Neverland. Girls aren’t allowed to fight or hunt, and princesses are to remain free of danger. However, when pirates threaten her tribe, Tiger Lily is cast in the very center of peril and uncertainty. But it isn’t until she finds herself face to face with the legendary Peter Pan that her true adventure begins.

***Rated G

CLICK here to read more about Loving the Wind: The Story of Tiger Lily & Peter Pan


If you’re a writer, artist, or musician with a full-time job or young family, you know how hard it is to find time for the creative side of your life. Through tips on organizing your creative space, budgeting your money, getting in touch with your spiritual side, and more, this book promises to help you find time for your craft—even if you can’t quit your day job.

CLICK to read more about Reclaim Your Creative Soul.


cupcake-real-2

There are four things to know about Morgan Truly.

  1. She is not thrilled to have moved back to her seaside town of Bodega Bay.
  2. She’s falling for a handsome rugged seafarer.
  3. She’s discovering that she loves baking.
  4. But with that discovery of baking comes a dark secret.

***Rated PG-13+

Read more about Come Here, Cupcake.


The Road to HopeTwo mothers. Two different roads in life. Two unimaginable events.

The Road to Hope paints a portrait of grief and affliction, opening the wounds of life’s calamities before shedding the light of hope on new roads to travel. This is the story of Jill and Maddie, the trauma they experience, and how life’s twists and turns can have an impact on who they think they are, who they’re bound to become, and the lives they touch in between.

***Rated R

The Road to Hope is now the first book in a new series! Find out more about the HOPE series here.

Read more about The Road to Hope and where you can find it.


Forever Thirteen

What would you do if you died before you could ever really experience life?

After a terrible car accident with his mother, 13-year-old Joey is stuck in the afterlife, just like he is wedged forever at the awkward place between childhood and teenager. That fact alone seems overwhelming as he mourns the life he lost. But it’s the utter despair of his best friend left on earth that pulls him in and gives his in-between life a purpose to have died for.

***Rated PG

Forever Thirteen is the follow-up novel to A Symphony of Cicadas.

Read more about Forever Thirteen and where you can find it.


Rachel Ashby is on the other side of life, looking in. Her fiance is trying to live without her, and failing. Both are left clinging to a path that no longer exists, blind to the bridges they’re burning along the way.

A Symphony of Cicadas shares the surreal story of two worlds held together by the fragile strings of love, the grief in letting go, and the spiritual journey on the road towards healing.

***Rated R

Read more about A Symphony of Cicadas and where you can find it.


“It was two lifetimes ago when I left my husband, the

father of my children. The next lifetime was spent recovering from the aftermath. But it wasn’t until after that first year – when I woke up into my third lifetime – when I realized I could actually survive being a single mother.”

And so begins the book of stories from our single-parent family.

***Rated G

Read more about Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows, and where you can find it.


Before Crissi Langwell wrote fiction, she needed to find a way to create prose in her storytelling. Through poetry, she found it. These verses travel through emotions of love, heartache, joy, and despair. Some of the poems are true, many were poems wished to be true. And all of them are words that led to love, brand new worlds, and stories that needed to be told.

These are the poems that helped the ink start flowing.

Read more about Everything I Am Not Saying, and where you can find it.


COMING SOON

The Road to Hope is becoming a series! Books #2 and #3 focuses on Maddie and Hope, and will release in 2017.

Sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss any new release.

HOW TO REACH ME
Facebook: facebook.com/pg/CrissiLangwellBooks
Instagram: instagram.com/crissilangwell
Twitter: twitter.com/CrissiLangwell
Snapchat: @crissitherese

Happy reading!

Hear about ‘The Road to Hope’ and upcoming series at Copperfield’s Books April 25

This week, the Argus Courier, my town’s local newspaper, featured me as their Petaluma Profile. This was a complete honor because A) it’s really hard for smalltime authors to get any kind of significant coverage in their local newspaper, B) it’s near impossible to get any kind of coverage if you actually work for the newspaper (I work at their sister paper, The Press Democrat), and C) I got to talk about my upcoming book series and my appearance at the Montgomery Village Copperfield’s Books next Tuesday.

If you’d like to read it, click here.

I should let you know that while book talks are absolutely vital to an author’s career, I’m always a bundle of nerves before these events. It doesn’t help that I’m struggling with an unrelated essay I’m writing for my college English class, even though I know I need to prepare for this upcoming author event. Or maybe it’s better this way — it means I don’t have time to stress (fat chance on that).

What I am excited about is knowing that there will be so many familiar faces in the audience next Tuesday, along with people I know have read the book. These are the people who likely have the inside scoop on why this book I wrote means so much to me.

For those of you not in the know, The Road to Hope was the first book I ever wrote (though the 5th I published). Because this is what a lot of new authors do, I ended up writing many true things within the fictional stories of Jill and Maddie. However, I embrace this fact, and have used this series as a way to cope with some of the things I’ve grappled with in real life, unapologetically telling the truth with fiction. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to writing a memoir (no promises), and has been a true therapeutic release.

That said, the events in these stories are completely made up. It’s the feelings behind them that are real. For instance, when Jill loses her son in the second chapter (this is not a spoiler, it’s one of the main themes of The Road to Hope), it’s based on how I felt when I lost my infant son to stillbirth. When Maddie is kicked out of her parents’ home after she reveals she’s pregnant, it’s based on how I felt to become pregnant at a young age, experience poverty and figure out my place in the world (for the record, my parents are awesome and never kicked me out!).

I wrote the upcoming books, Hope at the Crossroads and Hope for the Broken Girl, with the same theme, as I follow Maddie’s story. The second book in the series has Maddie grappling with self-worth and a new romance. The third book has themes of domestic violence and poverty.

If you’re in the Santa Rosa area this coming Tuesday, I’d love to see you at the Montgomery Village Copperfield’s (even though I’ll likely be nervous!). Come and say hi. The event is 6-7 p.m. See all of the event details here.

Book Crush: ‘The Beauty in Darkness: A Vampire Story,’ by Leah Reise

beauty

he story of The Beauty in Darkness, the debut novel of Sonoma County author Leah Reise, starts with an awakening of sorts, and a wish for true death. Edrea stands at the gates of the Décret, a clan of vampires who are sure to tear her apart for arriving without invitation. This is exactly what she is hoping for. She is two days into her life as a vampire, having been turned on her 29th birthday following the mortal attack from a rapist who left her for dead. And dead is what she wishes to be. It’s the only way to curb the insatiable thirst that is consuming her from the inside out. Unfortunately for her, the Décret have other plans.

So begins the tale of this Sonoma County native, a girl-turned-vampire who is cast into the underground world of San Francisco where the creatures of the night walk below the feet of the living.

Through the story, we learn of Edrea’s roots—a mom who plays favorites, an emotionally distant father, a doting yet elusive brother, and a jealous sister. Edrea, herself, is a free spirit, comfortable in her solitude. And even with their faults, this family is bonded. But now that Edrea is one of the undead, she must forget her family and move on.

Edrea’s new family is now Pierre, her creator. With him, she is to work for the Décret. She has the rare ability of being able to read people’s thoughts, and it makes her a useful tool among this clan. However, Edrea senses early on that something seems to be amiss with their eagerness over her gift.

What I love about this story, first, is the author’s ability with description. Reise has a gift for painting the scene without overtelling, and still offering enough detail to allow for vivid imagery. I was able to see everything within the story, and was easily transported from scene to scene.

The second thing I love is that much of it takes place in Sonoma County locations. This is one of my favorite reasons to read books by local authors, as they often use familiar places within their stories. Reise doesn’t disappoint, taking her characters to Bodega Bay and Santa Rosa, though much of the story is set in San Francisco.

The third thing I love is how large a role family plays in The Beauty in Darkness. There are definite themes that take place from both Edrea’s old and new life, which I’ll let you find out on your own to avoid any spoilers.  As of yet, there doesn’t seem to be any sequels planned (and the end was blissfully free of a cliffhanger). But I can see how the story could easily be continued.

All in all, I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys supernatural and vampire fantasy.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Rated PG-13 for some non-graphic sexual and violence situations.

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Book Crush: ‘The Lazarus Kid,’ by Tim Farrington

the-lazarus-kidI am a huge fan of Tim Farrington, having discovered The Monk Downstairs a few years ago, followed by The Monk Upstairs, and then concluding with every other book Farrington has ever written before re-reading the Monk books again (and maybe again). So when I found out he had written another book, I got it and started reading immediately.

The follow-up to the first two Monk books, The Lazarus Kid does not disappoint. Farrington’s beautiful descriptive writing paints each scene, placing a microscope on some points or aspects of certain scenes, and panning way out for a broader view in others. Farrington has a way with believability, offering details that breathe so much life into each event, it’s almost as if you are right there inside the scene instead of just reading the story from a page.

The characters have evolved since the first two books. Mike is still contemplative and spiritual in both mind and mannerisms, but we now see him in a deeper role as a father and stepfather – even if much of his parenting is done at a distance due to chaos on the job. Rebecca is a better mom than I am of a precocious teen, handling infuriating circumstances with clenched fists and outward grace. And Mary Margaret is every bit the rebelling teen, though I never once found her character to be cliche. Rather, I saw my own teen daughter in her (hence, my awe at Rebecca’s skills of keeping a level head).

Of course, there’s so much more to the story, but I don’t want to offer any spoilers at all. Just know that when you read anything by Tim Farrington, you’ll never be disappointed. I can only hope that Mr. Farrington has more books up his sleeve very soon.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
PG for some adult language. Aimed at adults.

10 fairy tale retellings you’ve never read (but should)

fairy-tale-retellings

Fairy tale retellings are nothing new. Don’t believe me? Think of “Hook” with Robin Williams, “Snow White and the Huntsman” with Charlize Theron, “Ella Enchanted” with Anne Hathaway, and many, many more. And with the next season of “Once Upon a Time” starting this Sunday (can’t wait!), fairy tale retellings are even more popular right now.

The book world is no exception. Marissa Meyer made it big with The Lunar Chronicles, a series of books that started with Cinder (for Cinderella), then Scarlett (for Red Riding Hood), and so on. Then there’s Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry.

These are books that many fans of fairy tale retellings know. But there are so many more great books out there! Here are 10 fairy tale retellings you’ve probably never read, but should.

Cinderella Dreams of Fire, by Casey Lane. What if Cinderella wasn’t some nice young girl forced to the bidding of her stepmother, but lives a secret life? In Casey Lane’s version of this epic fairy tale, Cinderella is no ordinary girl. By day, she does her stepmother’s bidding. By night, Cinderella is a thief with no match. But a chance encounter with the prince complicates her mission. Worse, he wants to join her in her lawlessness.

Gaslight & Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales, an anthology. Originally backed by a successful Kickstarter, this collection of short stories mixes (mostly) Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Steampunk-styled stories. Imagine steam-powered technology in stories like The Three Little Pigs, Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella.

Kissing Midnight, by Laura Bradley Rede. A modern day retelling of Blackbeard, the immortal Deveraux Renard must make a girl fall in love with him every New Year’s Eve, or he dies. Her kiss will allow him to live one more year. It will also end her life. This year, his life is in the lips of Saintly, a girl who is crazy about her new boyfriend. But Saintly has a secret – she sees dead people. And one dead girl has a secret she’s dying to share.

Queen of Hearts, by Colleen Oakes. Before Alice fell down the rabbit hole, there was Princess Dinah. As the future queen of Wonderland, Dinah dreams of approval from her father and a future with the boy she loves. But a betrayal breaks her heart, threatening her path to the throne, and sending her toward her dark future as the Red Queen.

Swan Lake, by K.M. Shea. This author, by the way, is pretty prolific when it comes to fairy tale retellings. Swan Lake is just her latest in the 7-book Timeless Fairy Tales series. In this story, Odette is cursed to be a swan by day, and the guide to smugglers at night. There seems to be no way out. But when a handsome prince finds his way into her heart, Odette not only finds hope, but must make a choice between fulfilling her responsibilities or fighting beside the man she loves.

Peter: The Untold True Story, by Christopher Mechling. More a historical novel than a retelling, Christopher Mechling shares the possible inspiration behind Peter Pan, describing the adventures of a real wild boy who came to London, and the people who cared for him. While no magic exists in this story, the story is magical all the same.

Littlefoot Part One, by M.L. Millard. What if Cinderella never wanted to go to the ball? In this fairy tale novella, M.L. Millard offers a comical take on stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and more in this first book of an upcoming series. As a devoted follower of her blog, I’ve fast become a fan of Millard’s writing style.

Zombie Fairy Tales, by Kevin Richey. What could make fairy tales better? Zombies, obviously. Fairy tales take a dark and twisted turn in this 12-story collection of your favorite characters who come back from the dead.

The Ugly Stepsister, by Aya Ling. After ripping up a childhood book, Kat is accidentally transported into the story of Cinderella. Worse, she’s one of the stepsisters! To leave, she’ll have to complete the story to its original happily ever after. But when the prince turns his attentions toward her, her HEA may never come.

Loving the Wind: The Story of Tiger Lily & Peter Pan, by Crissi Langwell. A must-read for Peter Pan fans, written by yours truly! Neverland is seen through the eyes of Tiger Lily, sharing about her life as the chief’s daughter, her dreams of being a warrior, her battles with the pirates, and the moment she meets the legendary Peter Pan and learns he’s nothing like the stories she’s heard. But soon she discovers his true story, and a secret that could end Neverland forever.

Do you have a favorite fairy tale retelling? Share in the comments!

The book that almost never was

TigerLily tease2

I’m about to tell you about the book that almost never was. Every year I write a book for National Novel Writing Month in November. This last year, however, I was stumped. I had just written Reclaim Your Creative Soul, and that book took a lot of energy out of me. I figured I would just skip it this year. But at the eleventh hour before the eleventh month, an idea came to me—why not just have fun with it this year? I know, a novel idea for a novel.

And so, I did. Having always been a fan of Peter Pan and Neverland, I began exploring the idea of writing about a character that only got a bit role in the original story: Tiger Lily. I began to develop who she was, where she came from, the values of her people, and her likes and dislikes. Just like Peter Pan is a coming of age story, Tiger Lily’s story was much the same. She became a princess held captive by rules she didn’t appreciate, and with hopes and desires that didn’t fit the mold of her people.

Throw in some pirates, a few Never beasts, the Lost Boys, and Peter Pan, and I suddenly had a story.

To up the ante, I not only wrote the story, I LIVE wrote it. Many of you followed along as I posted each chapter to Wattpad, allowing you to see the inside process of what it’s like for a novel to be written beginning to ending. While it was just a rough draft, I was pleased with how things worked out as I wrote. Many of you expressed interest as well, anxiously waiting for me to post the next chapter.

The story was never supposed to be published. It was just something to amuse myself and a few fans, and nothing more. However, the more I wrote, the more I realized that the story was taking on a life of its own. It was more than just an amusing tale, it was a story that needed to be told.

This story became Loving the Wind: The Story of Tiger Lily & Peter Pan, and it just published this morning!

For the next few days, I am keeping the Kindle version of this book at 99 cents so that there are no barriers for you to buy this book. This is my gift to you for sticking alongside me, cheering me on, and anticipating this very moment. Please don’t delay in buying this book now, as the price goes back up after the weekend.

Furthermore, I have a few contests on my Facebook page if you’d like a chance to win the print version of this book. Just look up #LTWgiveaways and you’ll find a bunch of contests that are going until Sunday.

Thank you for all your support, and happy reading!

Love,
Crissi