Friday, July 22, 2016

"Five Magic Spindles" Release Day!

Five Magic Spindles has launched! I am officially a published author! I keep thinking I'll get used to that idea, but each step in the process has felt unreal. Now it's undeniable. "Out of the Tomb" has been published in a book--something I never thought I'd say when I started this story.

Almost exactly a year ago, I stumbled across a Kindle sale for a novella collection called Five Glass Slippers. As a lover of fairy tale retellings, I thought the book was ingenious--five versions of "Cinderella", all gathered under one cover, each highlighting the original tale in a different way. It was the fastest purchase I've ever made, and one of the best. All the stories were enjoyable and unique retellings that captured my imagination.

Then, at the back of the book, I found a single, fateful page: an announcement of a contest to fill a similar volume with retellings of "Sleeping Beauty". I'd never considered writing for contests before, but this one seemed tailor-made for me. Most of my story ideas are fairy tale retellings, or take inspiration from fairy tales. If I was going to write retellings anyway, why not retell "Sleeping Beauty" and submit it to the contest?

I dove into different elements of "Sleeping Beauty", looking for interesting characters or unique ideas to focus on. I started on a promising story starring a vivacious, swashbuckling Sleeping Beauty who went on adventures in a flying sailing ship, but remained open to inspiration for other stories.

A few weeks later, a scene sparked in my imagination: a group of government agents flying to a remote location to find something important. With the contest on my mind, I combined this with the "Sleeping Beauty" framework, and imagined a team of archaeologists entering a tomb and waking a sleeping princess. I quickly changed this so that a single tomb robber made the discovery--I liked the image of a tomb robber being completely shocked when the seemingly dead person caught her stealing his things. Within a few hours, I'd come up with a world, a backstory, conflicting personalities for two main characters, a character arc, and some basic themes.

I loved what I'd come up with, but feared the story was too strange to win. A gender-swapped "Sleeping Beauty" in space starring a cynical alien tomb robber? The judges would never consider it for a collection whose cover featured a beautiful princess in a golden fairy tale forest. Yet the story continued to fascinate me, my swashbuckling fantasy airship story wouldn't gel, and none of my other ideas developed into full stories. By the time the deadline arrived, "Out of the Tomb" was the only story I'd finished, so despite my doubts, I sent it in. I knew I wouldn't win. I was happy that I'd finished a story, and that was all that mattered.

On March 1st, I looked at list of winning stories, expecting only to see five names that weren't mine. At the bottom of the list: "Out of the Tomb" by Ashley Stangl. What? What??? This wasn't happening. It didn't make sense. Was there a mistake? But the story description contained Tanza's name.  The judges had read the story. They hadn't just chosen a title and stuck it on the page. I'd won. My name was on that gorgeous cover and I was being published.

It's been a great journey. I've worked with some great editors and made friends with four wonderful authors. And now, our stories are going out into the hands of readers.

There are some lovely events surrounding the book's release. Rachel Kovaciny, the author of the collection's first story, "The Man on the Buckskin Horse", is hosting a bookmark giveaway on her blog, with one bookmark celebrating each story. I've provided a picture for my story's bookmark. Follow the link to see the rest and enter the giveaway.

Next Saturday, July 30th, all five of us authors will be participating in Rooglewood Press's Facebook launch party. We'll each have about thirty minutes to answer questions and chat with readers. The event runs from 1:50-4:00 pm Eastern time, and I'll be featured from 3:30-4:00 pm Eastern. We're hoping lots of people stop by and join in the fun!

But today, I'm just going to bask in the glory of a dream come true. When I bought a Kindle book a year ago, I could never have guessed that this journey would be the result. I can't wait to see what surprises come next.


  1. Yes and yes and yes. I'm still not fully able to realize that this is real, not even when I hold a copy of our book in my hands. It's starting to feel real, but a lot of times I remember and go, "Oh, that's true! It really did happen!" Hee.

    And I love having met and gotten to know you and Kathryn and Grace and Michelle. I hope that even when the busy-ness of this launch die down, we continue to hang out and encourage each other, because it's been such fun.

    1. Oh, I definitely hope we keep in touch. Our little author community has been one of the best things about this experience.

      The experience continues to feel surreal. Sometimes it disappears into the anxieties of everyday life, but then I'll remember just how big a deal it was to win. I sometimes have to step back and think, "I didn't just dream this, did I?"

    2. Yes. It's easy to forget about as I wrestle with the next story, or the laundry, or getting three little people to brush their teeth. And then there it is, a little glowing shiver of joy. I've been published.

      This could be habit-forming.

  2. Hey Ashley! Just wanted to let you know that I've featured your short story contribution to the Five Magic Spindles collection in a review on my blog :) -->