"The Empress" [Fiction Friday]

Lately I have been trying to learn more about the field of writing and pursue it more diligently in my free time. Turns out there is a fountain of information on writing and publishing on the internet. Shocking, I know. Thanks, modern technology! It just so happens that my husband is friends with an author and she just released her third book this week called “Sweetly.”

Look how excited we are to own it!

Her name is Jackson Pearce, and she writes young adult fiction. I read her first book “As You Wish” last year and couldn’t put it down. I haven’t read her second book “Sisters Red” yet, but I will definitely be doing that soon. I hear really great things about it!

Anyway. She’s been turning a lot of heads with her modern twists on fairy tales. [“Sisters Red” plays off of Little Red Riding Hood, and “Sweetly” plays off of Hansel and Gretel.]

A website called Novel Novice is currently holding a writing contest in conjunction with the release of “Sweetly” that asks participants to write and submit the beginning of a story—a modern twist on a fairy tale.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to practice writing, give me a deadline and goal to work with and also give me some direction by laying out a topic to start with (since I usually just sit there wracking my brain for hours trying to come up with a good potential storyline and don’t come up with anything I haven’t already written about). Win, win, win.

I chose to do a twist on The Emperor’s New Clothes and title it The Empress (I realize Jackson’s titles are infinitely more creative than this but hey, it’s a work in progress.)

Anyway, in honor of Fiction Friday (which I just made up), I wanted to post what I wrote in case anyone was interested in reading it. It’s geared towards a younger audience, but I hope you’ll still find it entertaining and want to hear the rest of the story! (Submission guidelines restricted it to the first 500 words or so.)

If you would be interested in reading more of the story, let me know and that will give me an excuse to finish it. :) Click “read more” below to read my story.

You can order “Sweetly” by clicking here or buy it in a real live book store! (It’s still release week which I now know is a big deal so buy it this week if you’re going to buy it!) Follow her on twitter: @jacksonpearce.



The Empress

My palms start to sweat as I stand backstage, running through the last three months’ events in my head. How did it get this out of hand? As soon as she goes out there, it’s all going to be over. I’m going to have effectively ruined the rest of her high school career. Which, to her—let’s face it—is the end-all, be-all of her existence.

It all started as a simple ploy for my own amusement, but it’s going to end up destroying life as she knows it. And when she finds out I tricked her—that the so-called “vocal cord elixir” I gave her was nothing more than Japanese fruit tea—my life will be similarly in shambles. (That is, at least until college.)

I mean I know I haven’t always been the friendliest person, but this may have crossed a line. Let’s think about this. I have exactly one friend—well, had exactly one friend—and even she’s bailed. Although to be fair, she’s the most sickeningly sweet, positive person I’ve ever met, so she would probably just self-destruct if she were to ever engage in this level of deceitfulness.

“Jessica Bingham!” the stage manager called. “You’re up!”

Oh God. She’s up. In just a few short minutes, the whole school is going to know that Jessica Bingham, Moorestown Academy of Performing Arts’ newest celebrity, sings like a bag full of stray cats being slammed against a brick wall.

This never would have happened if her asinine friends didn’t go along with every lie that rolled out of my mouth just to be shielded from her wrath. You sound great, Jessica! You have to make a cd, Jessica! Where can I buy those pants, Jessica? Okay, that last one was beside the point. But if those psychotic clones didn’t worship the ground she walks on and encourage her to sing tonight even though they know darn well she still sounds like a cow being run over by a speeding train, this whole operation would’ve been shut down right from the start, allowing me to go right back to the life of invisibility I always wanted. So really, this is their fault.

Great. She’s at the mic. Maybe I should just sprint onto the stage and slow-motion tackle her, screaming “Noooooo!” for a full 6 seconds. That’s what they would do if this was one of those Disney Channel shows. (Not that I’ve ever watched those to escape my otherwise boring high school experience. I’m just saying—no one at my school ever sees the future or tries out for the school mascot while hilarious hijinks ensue along the way.)

Too late now. The track has started. I can’t look. No—I can’t listen. I need to leave.

As I turn to my left to try to make a quick escape, my face suddenly collides with a cinderblock wall of a man apparently named Phil, according to the name tag that was now endangering my cornea.

“Hey, uh, isn’t that the girl you came with on stage?” he pointed to Jessica, who was busy motioning at the sound guy to turn the music up in the monitors.

“Oh, um, well…” was all I managed to get out, because he spun me around and pushed me towards the side of the stage.

“Good thing I caught ya or you would’ve missed the whole thing!” he chuckled politely then shuffled off, mumbling into his headset.

Awesome. Now I am forced to watch this train wreck first hand. I cover my eyes, leaving only a small crack between my fingers to peer through. Jessica and I simultaneously take a deep breath. Here we go.