Thursday, May 10, 2012

Once Upon a Time's Evil Queen Regina: Not Exactly Mother of the Year!

GOOOOOOOOOD MORNING, SEEKERVILLE!!!! Oh mylanta, it's been raining cats and dogs, buckets and every other thing you can think of in upstate New York! My puddles have puddles!

And the puppies.... (who will start going to their new homes this weekend!!!!)  ... Oh, puppies love to play in puddles. Splashing. Chasing kitties. And toddlers.  It has been officially determined that puppies love water!

For the record:  Let me just say that at no point in this blog post do I EVER equate Mary Connealy to a really ugly animal. Because that's just SO STINKIN' MEAN.

And I'm the nice Seeker!  ;)

Regina Mills/Queen Regina/Wicked Stepmother/Trophy Wife/Dutiful Daughter/Wounded Soul

Now there's a balanced character archetype.

And here she is in her Evil Fairytale Glory:

And here's a You Tube link that takes you to a short montage of Regina...

Click here and then come back!!!!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, first: WHAT PLANET ARE YOU LIVING ON?????

The planet Mars, inhabited by tiny bits and bytes and mites.... 
That's like pretending Gibbs doesn't exist. Or that Jimmy Stewart was a two-bit actor. Oy.

For the record again:  Queen Regina/Mayor Mills is played brilliantly by Lana Parrilla, one of the stars of ABC's "Once Upon a Time" a crazy fun fairy-tale spin show that puts most fairy tail movies to shame.


First: Wonderfully taut and tight writing by the writers that brought us "LOST"... Now, I didn't like "LOST" because it had no point, no center, no gravity and it felt hodge podge... And good fantasy should have threads that make some kind of sense, that intrinsically weave a story through circumstance, emotion, relativity and empathy. If you are creating Netherworlds, trying to become too complex can be your downfall. Readers want to understand, to get lost in the 'other place', but that's hard to do if your names.... (Ollibuf, Ornswaggleov, Diaphapheadraanna, etc.) do not bear pronouncing much less remembering. Some fantasy writers/authors get lost in the setting and their ability to use far-out names and made-up governmental regiments. They forget to write a great book. That's a newbie mistake, because if you skip back to great fantasy works, they are amazingly simple... Good vs. Evil.  And eventually, Good wins.

So it's okay to NOT CREATE an entire new language, name system, solar system, on top of writing a story. Use the craft carefully, and that's what the writers of "Once Upon a Time" have done so well, while totally twisting and adding to the fairy tales we thought we knew.

"Once Upon a Time" borrowed concepts from Brothers Grimm, Sisters Grimm, children's books and the writers' own imaginations and layered the show with a great cast of modern day characters trapped in a fictional town in Maine. "Storybrooke" is a town without magic, a town where time stands still, a town whose captive storybook characters in kept in place by some sort of invisible force field.... But today we're writers, focused on character development and the Ultimate Queen Award must go to Queen Regina....

The writers make it easy to hate Regina. She's a user. An abuser. A taker. She is completely manic and undeniably clever, and the writers have used P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E as one of her fortes. Why is this important? Because it's subtle.  You don't have it in-your-face.... Like her savage ways of removing living, beating hearts.... Or her sheer delight when besting a foe... Her utter disregard for children's hopes and dreams....

No. Regina's patience to horde her mental, emotional and physical weapons is a huge part of her success but it's not lauded. Or spoken of. Or alluded to. It's simply there, and that's what makes it brilliant. Quietly layering your characters with qualities that speak to a reader's heart, mind or emotions is the gift of great story-telling. If you MUST explain something, you should probably do a re-write...

We all know that the wicked stepmother/evil queen hated Snow White.  While young and foolish, we thought 'twas merely vanity..... The mirror bespoke Snow's beauty and that became her undoing.

Obviously we were mistaken because now we know that the young Regina was the victim of child abuse herself.... At the hands of a magic-wielding, evil, ladder-climbing, stop-at-nothing-to-make-my-daughter-queen mother....

Who would have thought the sweet Barbara Hershey would be an EVIL QUEEN MOTHER????

Drama begets drama......

After months of viewing, we build some sympathy for "Regina, the child" in this late-season episode. This is her Darth Vader-like background, a glimpse of why we become who we are... and the choices and roads not taken.

Those old paths are the bricks of the future, right?  On those cornerstones we build characters, setting, plot, but not overloading the story with backstory????


Occasionally we would glimpse Regina's pain in her gaze, her eyes, always averted from others, lest they see... but the viewer (or reader) could see it. But they were teensy-tinsy increments, subtle and short....  barely notable. But there.

Regina will stop at nothing. Not back then, in fairy-tale land. Not now in Storybrooke... always plotting, scheming, staying one step ahead. But every villain has a nemesis.

Regina has several.

Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, played by Richard Carlyle:

As current-day pawn shop owner and lawyer... (grinning here)  Mr. Gold

And as Rumplestiltskin in fairy-tale land of lore....


Face-off between Mayor Regina Mills and newcomer Emma Stone... Snow White's and Prince Charming's daughter, the "Luke Skywalker" type savior, the key to breaking the curse...


Her adopted son, Henry...

Henry is determined to prove that Regina is an evil fairy tale queen and his innocent belief in fixing things, breaking the curse, is what draws the adult drama together.  Using a child to draw factions together is a strong and often-used maneuver in story-telling. In romance, it's the "baby" draw... In fantasy it's the "savior" or "hope for the future" pull.  In suspense, it's the "fix it" maneuver. We need a safe haven for our children, one way or another.

Key elements of great story-telling don't change much. You can call it by any acronym you wish (which we know I won't do because you'd have to READ that stuff, and well... Really?????)

Layering characters through setting/emotion/action/reaction is the basis for a strong story.  The writers for Once Upon a Time have done a wonderful job with Regina... Mr. Gold... Henry... Emma... And of course Snow White, the tough but innocent princess-type. 

I'd love to chat about story telling and fairy tales and romance with you today! And if you're a writer and would like to have your name in the cat dish for a critique (and you know, I ALWAYS clean the cat dish before I throw your names in, LOL!) just mention it in your comment. If you just want to be in for the book, leave a comment and you're in, automatically!

And might I just add (yes, shameless plug because selling books is INTRINSIC TO MY CONTINUED GOOD HEALTH!!!!)  that "A Family to Cherish" is simply a deeeeelightful story!

Come on in! Coffee's on and the conversation's startin'!


  1. I'm in hiding. Only coming out long enough to take care of coffee duties.

    The pot's on. Now I have to run back bahind my tree. (I didn't know what she was talking about. Had to have it all 'splained.)

  2. I'll admit to skimming because, well, there's 12 eps waiting for me on my TiVo... ;)

    Spoilers you know.

    But, yes, they've done a wonderful job creating layers and multidimensional characters.

    But I also loved LOST.

    Stick my name in the cat bowl for that crit, would ya? And for the book.

    Time for me to head to bed, I think...

    But I'll be around tomorrow - I wouldn't miss Ruthy day :D.

  3. What planet am I on? Does anyone know? I'd really love to get back to the normal people. Ok, maybe not, I like being weird, and how better to grow more so than in my own world?

    But yeah, I've heard of this show, but I admit, I haven't been interested, it sounds way too complex to pull it off and end it well. Maybe when the show is canceled, if I still hear raves about it on facebook, (unlike the LOST people going, "huh?"-- I watched LOST in 60 seconds or whatever and I was good.) then maybe I'll just watch the whole thing all the way through if people still like it then.

    That is....if I can get the show on my planet.

  4. oh, throw me in for a crit - I do tend to collect them and never take them, but one day I'll use them!

  5. Great post! This is our family's favorite show. Regina is a perfect unison of scintillating writing and awesome acting.

    Surprised to see her hardened shell cracking just a bit when she had the nightmare involving the angry townspeople.Might have pulled in just enough sympathy to keep her real.

    Perfect call on the antagonist's patience as one of the chief weapons in her arsenal.

    In contrast, it was our (Emma) protagonist's "impatience" to save Henry that nearly doomed all of our StoryBrooke favorites.

    I liked LOST for its strong characters, but Once Upon a Time has a better flow and doesn't take so many brains cells to follow each week. I'm all for that!

    Count me in for the crit and the book! Thanks again- Loved the montage too.

  6. Oooh, a Ruthy book. Isn't that better than TV? Better than fairy tales? Must be.

  7. Hi Ruth:

    I read every word of your post but I think I’m lost. I’ve never seen this show. I never saw an episode of Lost either. So I’m twice lost. But I wonder: a Queen Regina? Really? Do they have a King named Rex or a Prince named Princeps?

    I think we have our own Storybrook here. It could be called Seekerbrook. Each Seeker could be a character from a folktale, allegory. or children’s book. If they can be animals, why not characters as well?

    Let’s see:

    A Fairy Godmother.
    I think that would be Missy.

    Any ideas or story threads?


    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net – please put me in for anything.

  8. Okay...first a new Ruthy book in her series....whoohoo! Cannot wait to read this one :)

    And I LOVE/am obessed with OUAT. (What we fans like to call it you know...haha!) So this post was so fabulous. They really have done an amazing job of creating new stories from old stories and creating Storybrook to be fascinating too. I find myself waiting eagerly for Sunday nights for the next installment to the story. To take fairy tales and do this...genius. So genius. The characters really add to an already great story.

    So glad there are others who like it as much as I do. ;)

  9. Ruthy, such fun.

    Every Sunday night I have watched Amazing Race with Man O instead of this show. The sacrifices I make. Oh, I do hope it will be on Netflix.

    I still have my fairy tale book from when I was a child. The whole good versus evil thing intrigued me. I also tended to gravitate to the darker tales: The Little Mermaid, The Little Match Girl, Snow White and Rose Red.

    I think you have given me another layer for the story I am working on. How are good and evil playing out? Do I have enough of that sort of conflict?

    Throw me in for the critique and the book if possible.

    Peace, Julie

  10. Hi, Ruthy! Yes, I read your WHOLE post :)
    I was never hooked on LOST. It seemed like Survivors on bad meds.

    But watch OUAT! Oooo, that evil plotting, conniving, twisted, Regina! She doesn't ensnare me with that "hint" of sadness. Don't be fooled those are just dangerous crocodile tears for prey!! I am convinced of that when she tossed
    (little Spoiler Alert)........
    ...the ring that held the last glimpse of Daniel in the hat. Power was more important to her than her memory of love.

    I like the plot of this series. Like you said, Ruthy, her (Regina) DarthVader-like background and decisions were made. A wrong decision became her point of no return.
    I think of how in a person's life decisons are made and with each there will be either rewards or consequences.

    "Red" in OUAT is another matter altogether that I finally had to
    tell myself it was okay to accept, but you're not talking about her, are you?

    Ooops, sorry so long! I guess I should stop being a peek-a-boo lurker and comment often (?)

    I will share my Dove chocolate with you all :)
    I would love to be entered for your book, Ruthy!
    Hugs to all.

  11. Ok first I have to say I live on planet earth in a behind the times country Called Australia where the network has teased us about Once upon a time since last year when it was launched. they keep saying coming soon then take of the add, bring it back with coming soon and take it off again. So we are still waiting, and waiting and waiting.

    I have A Family to Cherish on preorder at the Book depository.

  12. Oh just had an add for Once upon a time. looks like Australia is seeing the light. it starts on Tuesday night at 7.30pm. Sounds good to me.

    Dont enter me for the book I have it on preorder.

    Oh and if anyone got the number of the truck that hit me I would love it. (feels like I was hit by a mack truck not sure if its just that I am so tired or am coming down with something nasty.)

  13. This post drew me in, Ruthy. Great analysis! Once Upon a Time is one of those shows where the writing, character arcs, and dialogue are so well done that it should be the subject of a class. (I wonder what the moral premise man thinks of it.) I also loved LOST and a show called Friday Night Lights for the same reason.

    I think the writers just have to make sure that they don't make Regina so powerful that it seems futile to oppose her. Showing her backstory and some vulnerability--like the look on her face in that great little scene where Mary Margaret forgives her--helps with that.

    Have a super day!

  14. I am on the planet that knows this show exists and has a super following. I know Richard Carlisle as Hamish MacBeth and Barbara Hershey from Hannah and her sisters. MY GOSH DO YOU KNOW THAT WOMAN'S AGE?

    she looks fabulous (there has to be some "work" ) and I'm not saying 62 can't be fabulous but she looks fortyish from here.

    okay, didn't mean to go off on a tangent after last night's sermon on 'real beauty'.

    One of my favorite movies is Hope Floats and its portrayal of mothers.
    thanks Ruthy

  15. Awesome post, Ruthy! What a great way to illustrate the layering that goes into memorable, relatable characters we love to love. And hate :)

  16. Helen, LOL! Thanks for the coffee even though I vershlumpled you!

    Carol, I hear you! I haven't had time to catch up on NCIS or Castle and I'm avoiding social media spoilers....

    Well, mostly because kids and puppies don't allow time this week! ;) Let's blame them, instead!

    Ah, Melissa, you're on our planet, honey.... You're feeling like I did with Harry Potter.

    Like we're out of the loop.... But, the main point of the blog is character layering and how the subtleties of that are sometimes the least obvious character traits.


    With a big, ginormous sigh, of course.

  17. I love Once Upon A Time and Grimm too.

    Queen Regina wears such beautiful clothes!

    I do enjoy reading books with plots that are a sping on fairy tales!

  18. Ruthy, I get it now that it isn't 2AM like the first time!

    But I did have to think about my characters and think about what makes them tick, the bad as well as the good.

    Since everyone is chiming in about Lost, I was fan until it got ridiculous and even looking at Josh Holloway didn't help my growing irritation. My husband watched until the end.

    Peace, Julie

  19. Oh, DRAT, Ruthy ... now I'll have to watch it!!

    I saw the promo for it and thought it looked like a GREAT program to watch, but since I rarely watch TV, I quietly let it slip from my mind ...



  20. Ruthy, I haven't seen either show, but love the pictures. Queens dress so beautifully! Great tips for layering characters!

    Have fun stomping through the puddles with toddlers and puppies! And cleaning them up after. :-)

    What's to eat?


  21. Melissa, you're in!

    Ava.... total agreement! And I'm not dissing lost as a TV viewer... My grown up kids loved it for the bizarre circumstances.

    But I love a strong threaded story, even if the background threads are light... Think Great Expectations. Who would have thunk that the criminal was the benefactor? Or seen the strength of that?

    I love undercurrents!!!! And fantasy with good vs. evil....

    VINCE!!!! Oh, how much fun would that be. Maybe we'll do a serial on the website... With different Seekers taking on various characters and writing separate chapters.

    Oh mylanta, I'd have a ball with that!!!!

  22. Fairy Godmother Missy????

    OH YES!!! I CAN SEE THAT!!!! Um, not for nothin', but there's no magical OPOSSUM, is there?

    Because I was an opossum just last week and it was ever so much fun, but I'd sooner be an OLD HAG....

    And I can do a mean cackle, LOL! And I've got experience ROASTING CHILDREN!!!

  23. Valerie, this is such a lovely book!!!! I am just totally lovin' on it, and I'd love to send you a copy, sweeeeet thaaaaang! ;) If I ever actually mail things out.

    It's on the list.

    It's on the list.

    It's on the list.

  24. Ruthy,

    I have to delurk to commend you for using OUAT to talk about storytelling. The writers have done a great job in layering and provides lessons to all writers in how and when to reveal back story. It is great stuff and it is time that someone talked about it in this way, and not just as entertainment.

    I hope that ABC repeats it this summer so that more folk can tune in, and make these observations for themselves. And Ausjenny, please don't let any of the spoilers here stop you from watching it--it is a very complex story and the rewards of watching it are worthwhile. We here in the U.S. were in the same position when Downton Abbey was on in Great Britain and the spoilers were released months ahead of time on the Internet. It did not stop us from enjoying the series!

    Please put me in for both the critique and the post. Great job, Ruthy!


  25. Christy, I agree.... My one major downfall of this show is that it shouldn't be on at 8:00 because it's not a little kids show. Definitely young adult or adult, right?

    And I could have done with less sexual innuendo on Regina's part... Sometimes less is more.

  26. I mean put me in for the book! I need more coffee!


  27. Ruthy, you are sooo funny and so early in the morning too.

    I'm with Carol, I LOVED Lost. Couldn't get into this one though. Don't know why unless I simply had too much storybrook and evil witch in my own life to deal with another. LOL

    I agree with Vince. Missy would be a great Fairy Godmother.

    And all of you putting in for a critique-BEWARE- Miss Ruthy just might turn into that evil witch. She can be ruthless. Well okay, she only was with me because she was RIGHT. yikes.

    And am loving the image of puppies and water. smile

  28. Julie, you're in for both! And I saw you sent me an e-mail but these puppies....


    I love 'em, but my time these past two weeks is bound in "Puppy Kingdom"!!!!

    But the little cuties go to their homes this week and I will breathe life into my next Allegany County book and CATCH UP ON E-MAILS!!!

    Anyway, back to sacrifice....

    I have to DVR OUAT (thanks for that info, Christy!!! And "Christy" is still one of my all-time fave romances. Beauty and depth... Love it!) and NCIS and Castle so I don't waste 20 minutes for commercials.


    But I hear ya'. Loud and clear! Next year my goal is to catch up on Downton Abbey.... Because the layering of characters there is just marvelous.

  29. Survivor on bad meds!!!! Oh, Miriam, that's such a great line I might have to steal it!!!!

    LOL, ROF!!!! And you read the whole post.... I had to skim (and I never do that) twice lately and I'm riddled with Catholic guilt because I really love our posts... So I understand skimming, but oh my stars, then I LIE ABOUT IT and pretend I read the whole thing.


    (Kidding.... kidding.... kidding... Teeena right now is WRINGING her hands saying, "Why does she say such things???????)


  30. Ruthy, now you've got me thinking about layers. And my wip. And figuring out how to bring in more layers. ;) I haven't watched OUAT. I'm curious about it now, though. :)

    So, what do you do to bring in layers for your characters?

  31. JENNY!!!! You have me on preorder????



    That is truly the best gift you can give us because it tells Mr. "H" that we're gaining in popularity and that people want our books badly enough to anticipate them.


    And I'm so glad you're going to get Once Upon a Time!!! Tell us what you think.... And don't fret if you miss an episode here or there, because I'm sure we'll have re-runs ad nauseum.... My tween kids at Ruthy's Place will be ALL OVER THAT!

  32. Renee, yes, that LOOK!!!! Wasn't it classic?

    Which is the gift Lana brings to the part, (and the directors of course) but you touched on another huge component... The evil cannot be so formidable as to be un-opposable.

    However that's spelled.

    It must have a chink.... Like the Death Star that was designed to look flawed... but wasn't.

    But everything has a chink. Oh, good point!!!!!

  33. I should get bonus points for at least knowing what that show was (but only because a big billboard on my way home advertised it.)
    I don't watch television anymore. Haven't for about two years. I get a lot more reading and writing done. =)
    And I did tell Mary that when I saw the possum pic, I was too scared to even comment, LOL. But that gave me a name for one of the bad guys in the western I'm putting together so that was kewl.
    I'm always in for a Ruthy read so please put my name in the cat dish =)

  34. Deb, Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats!!!! Oh what a wonderful job she did in that movie...

    And Harry Connick Jr.????


    Great story line, girl coming home, great layering. And you're on my planet with a date for Bedford Falls in Seneca Falls in December, right???

  35. Rose, that stinkin' Regina is clearly stylin' in modern garb and 'yester-year'....

    What a gorgeous woman.

    And they have Snow White/Mary Margaret in sweet, simple, Peter Pan collared shirts and sweaters... totally in character.

    Love it!

    Julie, this is the rare show that ups the ante because it is clearly above and beyond normal TV production.

    And it won't be everyone's cup of tea... But what a fun use of fantasy and poetic license.

  36. Checking in from Mars. Four months ago we didn't have ABC and now that we do we still stick with CBS.

    Layering characters through setting/emotion/action/reaction is the basis for a strong story.

    This is good. In my current story the hero comes off as a little bit cold at first but as the story develops the reader will see why he's that way and side with him. The trick is making him likable enough through the Heroines eyes at the start to keep them reading.

  37. Loved this post! I think it's fun that fairy tales are making the rounds so much lately--lots of books and movies taking a familiar tale and giving it a fresh new twist. It helps spark ideas for my own writing!

    I don't have TV, but I have Netflix, so I'll look it up and see if I can watch it that way. You've got me hooked!!!

    Sign me up for your book, Ruthie! I like your Allegeny county series.


  38. Piper, thank you!!!! I'm grinning, ear to ear because I agree. When you're a writer it's easy to over-criticize and analyze things because you're part of the industry.

    And that can curb the enjoyment, so when it's done this well, it seemed like a golden teachable moment, right?

    And Mr. Gold????

    As a parallel nemesis? Awesome. And that's part of the allure, that they can take it far beyond what a normal Hollywood production can do.

    Thank you for coming out of lurkdom!!!! I'm so glad that you and Miriam popped in!!!!

  39. Piper, you're in for both!!!!

    You know I'm mean, right????

    Just making sure.


  40. Morning Ruthy,
    I saw that show advertised, but never watched any episodes. When I was crippled, before the hip surgery, I watched TV all the time. But now that I'm 'healthy,' I am too busy to sit that long. I even walk around when it's a show I like. And I gave up taping shows for later. I never watch them if not in real time.

    That said, I appreciate the layering you point out - her patience and the story beneath her rage. Good to let that unfold and not expose all in the beginning of the story. It's a balancing act I need to work on.

    Wanted to mention that I picked up a copy of 'Reunited Hearts' for a quarter from our library sale, and it looks brand new, like the person who donated it didn't know the gem they had in their collection! Poor misguided person. Now I have it on my Kindle AND on my shelf, lol. Can't get enough Ruthy. Would delight in winning your newest.

    But most of all, I'd love to have you as my Mother Hen, so please put me in for the critique. Yes, that means I almost have a new WIP first chapter honed and ready for fresh eyes. Whoohooo...

  41. Ruthy,

    I would not have believed it, until I saw what Sandra had put that warning into her post--Yikes! However, I will be brave and remain in the cat dish(es). (gulp! :))


  42. Yes, I'm one of those strange ones who have never watched Once Upon A Time...

    I have to admit it was because I didn't like Lost, so thought I wouldn't like something done by the same people. But with this glowing recommendation of the BEST reasons to watch or read anything (i.e., great characters and story), I'll have to give it a try!

    Unfortunately, it will have to be on the laptop. has full episodes available. reminds me of what Donald Maass says in "The Fire in Fiction" - there are two kinds of writers: story tellers and status seekers. The story tellers win in the long run :)

    I'm on my way back to bed - this cold won't let me sleep, breathe or do anything useful. I'll be reading between loads of laundry.

    But before I do, I'm going to put a certain book on pre-order. Just to keep my friends happy.

  43. I HAVEN'T seen it - watch SO little TV (at least TV that's not kid shows LOL), but this one SO has me intrigued. May have to watch one.

    And PLEASE put me in for a critique. Please! I like cat dishes ;)

  44. Ruthy! Now I want to watch this show, you gazelle, you.
    Backstory is such a trick to do right. As writers it is so hard to see that our backstory is just GRINDING THE STORY TO A DEAD STOP.
    There is an emotional attachment to it that makes it painful to cut. And yet it has to be in there. But to weave it in with subtlety is just the difference between a scapel and a sledge hammer.
    I never feel like I have it done to suit myself.
    I'll start watching this show and pick up some clues.
    Having a villain who is three dimensional is so key to making them strong characters. I usually just want my bad guys to be mindlessly evil and then get shot. But I know that's wrong, wrong, wrong!!!!

  45. How about an Irish Setter? Great red hair. Skinny.
    Dog references can just go so WRONG.

  46. Thanks for making a girl feel welcomed in :)
    Ruthy, steal away!! (Smile)btw, I saw (on fb) your cutie puppies--nothing sweeter! Well, maybe your grands!

    As a still new writer...I'm wondering...Is there a point when layering is too much in a storyline?

    Layering is what I like about about so many books that I read! When they are scared, cold, hungry, or happy and I begin being caught up and I empathize with the character(s), it's then I know I'm hooked in and have to find out the outcome! I'm studying it now more and jotting notes about descriptive layers.

    Right layering is important to it, isn't it? Like a cake. I'd much rather have a chocolate or strawberry layered cake than a say... a mustard layered??? Eeewww!

    LOL! Now I'm thinking of grabbing my cookbook for a cake recipe...
    Don't worry... I'm thinking strawberry :)
    Need a cup of coffee first!

  47. Sorry I'm late to the fairy tale party!!! I was wrestling with an email problem. Grrr! Waste of my time, but I had no choice. The good news is I think I got it fixed, with the help of Norton customer service rep. Stephen. Thank you, Stephen!

    Anywho, once again you guys are talking about one of my favorite subjects: FAIRY TALE RETELLINGS! I love writing them so much. I just started a new one and I am already IN LOVE with the story and the characters. And if you haven't had a chance to read The Merchant's Daughter, don't worry. You have lots of time. Zondervan had to push back the release of my Snow White story, The Fairest Beauty, to December. Yes, I cried. But the devil is to blame. He jumped in and messed up the schedule and now somehow God is going to make it all work out to my advantage that my new book is NOT coming out in August but IS coming out in December. It will all work out in my favor, because God loves me and that's all I got to say 'bout that.

  48. I have to admit, I watched the first few episodes of Once Upon a Time and then stopped. But my two girls still watch it. I just can't seem to stay interested in a TV show that stops with a cliffhanger and then makes you wait at least a week to see what happens next. No, I'm not a patient person. God isn't finished with me yet.

  49. Hi Ruth:

    I’m waiting for my SiL to arrive in Tulsa so I can help her arrange a funeral for her cat. I may have to speak at the funeral. She is going to use the same service we used for our dog, Plato. This is so sad. Pets give unconditional love. There is no way I can make her feel better. I just wonder if the happiness pets bring must be balanced by the sadness we experience in their passing. There is such a high price to pay for loving a pet. I feel like those characters in romances who have lost a spouse and promise to never love again. I think when normal is sad, then paranormal seems better.

    Has anyone come to the point of saying, "No more pets, forever?"


  50. Did someone say "Harry Connick, Jr." ???

  51. First of all, I absolutely love this show! It is one of the things I look forward to every weekend. The writing is amazing, and the twists are unexpected. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who could talk about this show and it's characters like they're real haha. I'll admit I almost cried when Regina killed Graham. Partly because he was gorgeous and had that amazing Irish accent. One more thing we seem to have in common Ruthy. :) Add me in for the draw on the book and the critique!

  52. I'm scared of that cat bowl now. especially since what I would send is [currently] so rough as to be sandpaper. Are we allowed to jump out of the cat bowl?

    Thanks for the smiles today gang - they are much needed :D.

  53. I have not seen this show yet!!

    Okay so why is Helen in hiding?

    Whom did she kill? And why didn't she ask us to help bury the body? We are friends after all.

  54. Haven't watched the show since about 4 weeks in--kept forgetting it was on, mixed TV watching personalities around here, etc., etc., etc. I didn't even finish reading your post, Ruthy. *blush* *hanging head* But I had to laugh at something I caught: "fun fairy-tale spin show that puts most fairy tail movies to shame." Fairy TAIL??? LOL

    I don't even know what you're giving away this time--I do see Carol's comment about a crit and a book. I've been getting hit hard lately about writing again, but I don't have anything really worth critiquing right now, but I'm always up for a book. I have NO Love Inspireds waiting or me to read them right now (in the past month or so I have read "The Harbinger" and Frank Peretti's "This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness"--all quite a ways from LI land!). No money to buy anything either, so I can always use a book! ;-)

    Looking forward to Saturday the 26th in Penfield! :D

  55. haven't watched the show even though i've wanted to - i've two toddlers in the house (one three, the other, my DH *tongue firmly planted in cheek*) i must bow to watching Dora the Explorer or DVRd episodes of "Deadliest Catch". someday i'll be able to catch up on "normal" TV - just not anytime soon.

    did so love the post though. very helpful. i would love to win a Seeker book to read (hopefully child unit will allow me to do so - he tends to pull the book down and command: "Play Momma!")

    nm8r67 at hotmail dot com

  56. Oh, WOW!!!! What fun!!! I was an avid LOST fan, and now the same holds true for ONCE UPON A TIME!!!

    Guess I'm just a sucker for a good fantasy/fairy tale. I love-love-love LORD OF THE RINGS, too. I've read all the books at least 3 times and watched the movies that many times and more.

    Great job psychoanalyzing Regina, Ruthy! "Snow White" was on GMA this morning plugging the season finale, and she says it's going to be a real shocker! Can't wait!


    Did anyone see the Red-Riding-Hood-as-werewolf coming???

  58. Sandra, thank you for reaffirming my evil-lurks-here image!!!!

    Every time someone gets the notion I'm NICE, the expectations just simply get out of hand.

    Ridiculous, really! ;)

  59. Jeanne!!!! It still amazes me that people ask for my advice, like expecting it to be GOOD, LOL!!!

    But... since you were silly enough to ask!!!!

    First layer: A past. Good, bad, horrid, indifferent, stellar, prodigy... All the things that make up a person's individual "TAKE" on what happens to them now. This is the "Nurture" side of character development.

    Second layer: The "Nature" side. Personality. Inherent flaws and talents, desires, the parts we're born with. Sometimes these contrast with the history/past, sometimes they strengthen it, like when an introvert personality is made to become a front-line star: "Gypsy Rose Lee" scenario.

    Third layer: Time. Has time hardened or healed? What is the character's moral premise or conflict? Why does he need what he thinks he needs? And does he really need it or is it his inner self, longing?

    Fourth layer: Longing. We all long for something. We all wish for or want or desire something that's out of our reach. And sometimes those things are SO FAR GONE that they seem irretrievable.

    Basically, it's balancing the inner personality of your character (moody, sweet, kind, tough, curmudgeon, dork, geek, nurturer, etc and often more than one of these are used together) against the circumstances he/she's in and deciding how THEY would react.

    Not you.

    Not Auntie.

    Not Mom or Dad.

    But that character based on his or her past and their personality.

    Are you SO SORRY you asked now, chickie???? ;)




    Gotta love 'em!

  61. Nancy, you're in! And I gave up TV too...

    So I totally understand. Now I allow myself to listen to Yankees games on CBS radio with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman... Love those two!

    And NCIS, Castle, Once Upon a Time on DVR.

    And I know there are other great shows, but I'd rather write!!!

    But those shows delight me. And of course the Yankees...



  62. Hamish MacBeth??? Debra, I immediately went back to Ruthy's post to look at the pix again. I didn't recognize him, and I 'm still not sure I do. It 's been a while :-) Loved that show.

    Okay, back to comments ...

    Nancy C

  63. Jamie, well said. You have to have enough sympathy-gearing emotion in a harsher personality to make the reader want to invest the time in the hero's journey.

    Otherwise we kick 'em to the curb!

    Nice insight.

  64. Emily, you're in! And I'm so glad you like the series....

    I've had so much fun writing it, delving into the foothills of Northern Appalachia, playing in Allegany County, meeting folks. It is truly one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. Lush green hills, deep deciduous forest, gorgeous valleys, farms, estates, villages, towns, people.... And every denomination imaginable.

    Just a great place to envision as Small Town, USA!

  65. Aw, Lyndee, I'll Mother Hen you any day! Thank you so much for your kind words and for grabbing Reunited Hearts...





    I love that story!!!! ;)

    You're in for the book and critique, sweet thing and I agree with you, that by the virtue of your returned mobility, I'd kick the TV to the curb and go line dancing!!!!

  66. Piper, Sandra was being absolutely honest....

    Think "VULTURE" with fangs.

    Very Scary Larry and the Very Hairy Tarantula .... that was a story or close to a story my boys loved....

    I am that MEAN.


  67. Jan, rest your weary head!!!! I hate colds. Here. There's some generic Airborne from CVS... the grapefruit flavor. It's my fave.

    And some generic Mucinex.

    And some generic hugs. ;) But HUGE THANK YOUS for the preorder, chica!!!! Those numbers really count because it drives the internal percentages up.

    I know that sounds weird, but in category, it's a big sign of growth and success.

    Thank you!!!!

  68. Ruthy said: But, the main point of the blog is character layering and how the subtleties of that are sometimes the least obvious character traits.

    So ... how can you discern the difference between a reader who just isn't paying attention (be it contest judge, critiquer, editor, agent or reader) and the need to go back and do a rewrite? Is it possible some readers don't get the subtleties and never will?

    Nancy C

  69. Wow, Ruthy, thanks for the info about the four layers. Now to check my work against that ...

    Nancy C

  70. JoAnne, you're in! And I totally get the lack of TV watching and APPLAUD it because ya' gotta sacrifice something, right?

    But yes, this show is an amazing toss-down of well done archetypes and deeply layered characters who rarely use gimmicks to get them into or out of trouble...

    And to handle an ensemble cast like that, and keep them in character in the "netherworld" and here in Storybrooke, Maine is very impressive.

    I wonder how big their STORYBOARD is?????? ;)

  71. Now I'm a dog? Skinny? Red hair????

    And yes, I can see negative potential...

    Gazelle.... No, no, no, Myra would be our gazelle, tall, lithe, limber....

    I could be one of those cute, stout French ponies.

    Short legs, strong, broad rump and good disposition unless you TOUCH MY TIARA.


    I'm still having night terrors.

  72. Mary, I believe Ruthy's current hair color of choice is blonde. Although I always think of her as a redhead, too.

    And have I ever mentioned that before meeting Ruthy in person, I always "heard" her with a stiff British accent?

    Just goes to show . . .

  73. I like that "gazelle" comment, though, Ruthy. Makes me want to stand a little straighter, maybe even pull out the yoga videos.

  74. Tina:

    I'm hiding my face because I've neer seen either of these shows, so I'm totally LOST in this analysis.

  75. For the record, I'm from the planet Klingon. My name is originally Ma'ry Vir'giniiiiia'aaa Car'mi'chaelllll.

    Anyway, this looks AMAZING. And that kid! HOW CUTE IS HE????

    Ok, Ruthy, I know you can write and to be able to write, you have to understand good writing. You also can TALK about writing in a way that learning writers can understand...

    Soooooo, when are you going to stop that rhubarb pie nonsense and start offering podcasts for writers?

    No, wait, not ready to give up you and Missy cooking in the cafe... So perhaps podcasts on writing and cooking, together?

    I'm waiting.

  76. Mary, your evil dudes are totally 3D... all that much easier to shoot them. Hard to shoot flat characters when they turn sideways.

  77. Ruthy, I am so NOT sorry I asked. I appreciated what you shared, and I can now take it and look at my characters with that lens and see how to make them a little more real. Especially my heroine. Sigh.

  78. So glad Jeanne got "character layering" out of you, Ruthy!

    I have been working on that today with my heroine. You have given me a slightly different way of looking at it.

    Now if my hero would just tell me what he does for a living!

    Love the idea of you being one of those stout little French ponies. Laura Ingalls Wilder would approve.

    Peace, Julie

  79. I haven't seen either.

    I didn't reconize Barbara Hershey in the pic. I remember her from Hoosiers w/Gene Hackman which was quite a few years back.

    I may have to watch an episode or two.


  80. Thanks Ruthy this is great!
    It reminds me of Shrek. Early on in the first movie he was telling the donkey that ogres were like onions. Peel off one layer and there is another and another.
    So, now I am going to make all my characters like onions.
    How that sound?
    I would love crit but I'm not ready. I am ready for a cookie though. And a book anytime.

  81. I'm hiding behind the tree with Helen. Although I did watch LOST for a number of seasons. Then it got too crazy.

    My fav program now: The Killing.

    Sorry. That's about all I watch. Other than the news and American Idol. Go figure. :)

    Oh, and I love Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.


  82. Okay, there's one more show. I watched SPLASH and loved the singing and dancing, but some of the issues got too in your face for me. Took the moral high road and decided to just say more watching SPLASH.

  83. Connie mentioned of my all-time favorite movies!!! I've watched it, maybe, 300 times. Maybe more.

  84. There really is a show called The Killing? I had to look it up.

  85. Virginia, thanks on the 3D bad guys. I hope mine are.
    We need someone we WANT TO SHOOT. I have a problem killing off characters I care about so when it comes to shooting people, I mostly focus on creating people my readers want to die.

  86. I'm loving all your suggestions for character layering, Ruthy. But these comments... they are total entertainment, all by themselves... who needs TV???

    I don't watch a lot of TV at the best of times, and was way too impatient to spend time with either Survivor or Lost. I kept thinking of the TV cameras hovering just out of sight, and couldn't get past the fact that the characters were neither lost nor surviving. Guess I'm not a big fan of reality shows. That means I should love Once Upon a Time... but I've never seen it!!!! Yikes!!!! My writerly education is horribly lacking!

    I will, this very instant, go hunt up the TV Guide and find out when the next episode is on.

    (I'd love the book, Ruthy, but I don't think I could handle a critique if it's likely to be as mean as Sandra suggests. I'm not quite ready for that.)

  87. I am a little lost as I do not know the show, but the you tube clip was interesting. she looks like quite the formidable foe. I will have to do some research on her. Thanks for the heads up.
    I would love to be for the draw for the book or the draw. jodi(dot)janz(at)gmail(dot)com


  88. I have heard many dont like Robert Carlyle cos of his role in Stargate Universe.
    I admit I am still watching that series and dont like him alot in it.

    I never watched Lost. But am a big NCIS fan

  89. Ah, I did mean SMASH and not SPLASH. Sorry! :)

  90. Julie, The Killing is well written and has great ending hooks. A must-see for a suspense writer. :)

  91. Showing up late because Blogger was not being nice earlier today and wouldn't let me on (but I didn't take it personally). ~ Oh Ruthy---your posts always make me smile!! Loved this one (even though I guess maybe I do live on Mars...because I wasn't familiar with this show *gasp*)--so thank you for explaining (Henry is adorable!). ~ I jotted some notes from this Ruthy-post (even though the entire post goes in my Keeper file!). ~ Please toss my name in the cat dish (better that than the litter box,LOL) for a book or critique, please. Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo p.s. Your book cover is precious!

  92. Would love a copy of your book, Ruthy! Thanks!!

  93. I tend to forget ABC exists, so I've never watched this show. But perhaps I'll catch it on DVD. I thought it sounded good when I first heard of it, and a Ruthy endorsement pulls a lot of weight with me.

    Ruthy, sometime when I'm not reading on a smart phone, I'll copy and paste your four layers from your earlier comment. That's golden.

    I'd love to be in for the book and the critique.

    andeemarie95 @ gmail dot com

  94. Okay, The pictures are totally fun!
    A bunch of strong women here!

  95. Active layering:

    Prim and proper June Cleaver type wife whose life goes to shambles after discovery of husband's illegal acts...

    And his ensuing suicide....

    She crashes. Gets lost in the bottle, but then grabs hold of herself for her children's sake, but her June Cleaver type upbringing makes going it alone, single parenting, working, discipline hard.

    Active layering allows for tons of growth. And we can make fun of them, right? As they grow? Because humor makes tragedy much more palatable!

  96. Melanie, you're a hoot!

    You've shown the downside of episodic or "serials" but I always loved them in magazines, growing up. And I'd love to do one on our website with some other Seekers because that was half the fun... the anticipation!

    So I love that aspect of the show. For us as writers, we work with one story...

    How much fun must it be to be with a team of writers and work on multiple story lines, inter-woven?

    Extreme Layering, 301!!!

    Oops, read out of order... Mel, schedules get changed all the time in this biz. No biggie. And December means in time for Christmas!!! :)


  97. Vince, I was gone last night because the puppies had their veterinary visit. The night before, their mom "Libby" had her check up... While paying for Libby's visit, a man walked in. He glanced around. Caught a tech's eye and said, "I'm here with Ben."

    I knew that look. The hard gaze, blinking back tears. Oh, I knew, all right, while Libby sat politely by my side, waiting to go home, hearty and healthy.

    The tech nodded, sympathetic. "I've got a room ready."

    The old man flinched. Then he shrugged a shoulder to the door.... "My daughter needs a minute with him. That okay?"

    The tech flashed a look of reassurance. "Take all the time you need."

    I cried. Taking Libby out, there was the woman, kneeling alongside the car, hugging Ben. Ben whined when he saw Libby. His tail thumped twice...

    And I went home.

    Then yesterday I got a phone call from a puppy buyer... A great family, so nice. They asked if they could pick their puppy up last night, when I got home from the vet's office.

    Sure, I said.

    They were a little late, but they called twice to let me know they were coming. Isn't that nice?

    And when they got there to pick "Bella" up, Dad told me that they'd decided not to wait for the weekend because their old Doodle had to be put down that day... They knew she was on her last legs, and they knew they were on borrowed time. They laid her out, Vince. With cards and flowers. They wrote a letter with their kids, explaining how much she meant to them. They showed me pictures of the burial service...

    They went to the "nth" degree to make the dog's passing memorable to their two boys, 9 and 11. And then they took new life home, to fill the void and start anew.

    Years ago a barn fire at the next farm down took the lives of 13 horses... We let them bury them here on our farm because the woman who owned the barn refused.

    What was she thinking? Who knows?

    The local funeral director came and did a memorial service. For several years, owners would come and lay wreaths on the site. We let a tree grow up to mark the site naturally.

    Yeah, I think pets are worth it. I"ve got James Herriot on my keeper shelf because I love the warmth he infuses in animal stories. (Shoot, Vince!!!! This was a blog post PLUS, as an answer, LOL! God bless you for touching my Ruthy-emotion buttons!!!) If you've never read James Herriot, oh... you should!

  98. Miriam, you're exactly right! I think that's the huge trick of layering, not going too deep too quick, and not being unrealistic. It's like knitting with lace thread, thin, sweet, tight, but gently woven so you don't get puckers!!!!


    And oh my stars, it's stinkin' lovely to have you here! Grinning in upstate! And thank you for saying nice things about puppies and kids... They're adorable!

  99. Carol, Carol, Carol.... The cat bowl is definitely aged, but bleach kills almost everything, right????

    Key word: Almost


    Kayla, hey, girl! Yeah, I admire good story-telling in any venue and I'm not good at getting to movies... Nor am I good at trying new things, so this biz has been a WAKE UP CALL in adaptability for me. And that's a good thing!

    Embrace change. Embrace change. Embrace change!!!!


    So glad you see the intricacy behind the scenes! That's what draws me to OUAT... I really marvel at that.

  100. Teeeeena, Helen's hiding because she totally didn't get my post and has never seen the show which only means I didn't 'splain it well enough.


    Sorry, Helen! And thanks for the coffee.... While I play catch up this morning!

  101. MELANIE!!!! Are you really coming to my book signing at Alpha and Omega on the 26th in Penfield????? From 2-4????

    They've got me in Greece that morning, too, 10-2.... I can't wait! I love Alpha and Omega Books! (It's our local Parable affiliate store)

    Can't wait to meet you!!!!!

  102. Deb H, welcome to Seekerville!

    Hey, I remember those days. So well. Now my little 'uns go home at the end of the day and I have a couple of hours of time... That's such a difference, isn't it?

    You enjoy those precious babies while you've got them. But... I'm so glad you're taking time to visit us, lurk, learn, and maybe write a little???? Take it step by step. And have fun!!!!

  103. Myra, I did not see the "Red" thing coming...

    A great twist. And I love Granny like THIS MUCH.....

    Looks like you and I are kindred Seeker spirits when it comes to fantasy land! Yayayayayay!!!!

  104. Nancy, great question, and this is one the Seekers mulled and hashed during those long years of pre-publication...

    Here's a consensus:

    If some contest judges get it and LOVE IT, then you've either hit pay dirt or are very close.

    If the others hate it or are lukewarm but they're in the minority, then you're close.

    If the judges that LOVE YOUR WORK sound like they're invested in the industry and offer good critical advice without smack-downs, then you're in the groove and close... so close...

    If the judges seem like they're collectively yawning, or if the praise is nice but the scores keep you out of the finals continually, then you need to re-examine and re-write.

    Today's writing in contests is judged by romance industry standards which means FAST OPENING, JUMP IN THE ACTION and MOVE IT, SISTAH!!!!

    This is why Ruthy often writes the beginning three times because she fights that urge to 'splain everything from page one....

    No. No. No.

    So examine the scores vs. the comments. And avoid gushers. Gushers don't always know what they're talking about, but honest, heart-felt critiques from judges... I always thought those were invaluable.

    And God bless every judge who waded through my early j-u-n-k.

  105. Myra, you are the quintessential gazelle...



    Despite her somewhat rude, rude, rude analogical comparison of me to that snip-faced rodent-like beast, I LOVE HER HAIR!

    Just thinking about it makes me smile!!!!

  106. Virginia, Mary, whoever you are today.....

    We're talking behind the scenes about doing some fun Seeker writing things.


    And I'm actually submitting a class for ACFW 2013.... We'll see how it goes, but I have so much fun teaching that it would be a hoot to work with a bunch of folks at a conference.

    Yes, I love being in a crowd, working and talking writing, so that's on my agenda and I do believe it's on a Seeker agenda... MORE TO COME... And remember, we've got our 5th birthday coming up!!! October is only four months away.... Does that seem possible????????

    Four months... surprises... and smiles.... and opportunities!!!

    And we couldn't be happier for how well those opportunities are paying off for the lot o' youse!!!!

  107. Julie, I wonder if you're the only person on the planet who would know that I stole that line from half-pint????? :)

  108. Connie, do it.

    Even if you don't 'get' the whole thing, that's okay.

    The subtleties are what drew me... and the layering between time zones and places and staying true to character.

    That's just stinkin' hard for a writer to do, especially episodically.





    A-STINKIN'-DORABLE!!!! While Nikki and I talked puppies, Dave and Steve watched the Yanks vs. the Tampa Bay Rays....

    What a happy dog she'll be!!!!

  110. Mary Cline, in for the book... and keep working! Yeah, I love the Shrek analogy....

    And analogies work because they create a visual. Whether onion... hamburger (bun, meat, dressing, condiments, lettuce, etc.)

    Whatever works in our heads to create that layered characterization....

    And that's tough in short books, let me tell you. Myra does a magnificent job of layering... Rose, too... Erica Vetsch.... I'm missing folks, and thinking Heartsongs because they're that 10K shorter than LI's and it's tough to wind a character's clock and tell a whole story and create depth...

    These women do that beautifully.

  111. Deb, I'm with you on Splash. Beth DVR'd the first one, maybe the second one too, but they took a great concept and turned it into a liberal fest of bedroom scenes...


    How much more fun would it have been if they'd delved into the story line and did a Marlo Thomas "That Girl" idea without the constant sexual overtones?

    I haven't seen The Killing, you suspense writer, you!!!! ;) I would probably NEVER SLEEP again.

  112. Mary, I've wanted to kill several of your characters... Thanks for doing it for me, Sistah!!!

  113. Carol, LOL!!!!

    Yes, look up the show....

    And yes, FEAR ME....

    (If I SOUND mean, it keeps people at bay. Hey, WHATEVER WORKS!!!!!)

    You're in for the book, chickie!

  114. Jodi Janz, I just love seeing you here!!!!!

    Yes, you're in and they had other You Tube videos about her, but I thought that one was just the right length....

    Just enough witch!!!!

    You're in, kiddo, and for the record, other than NCIS and Castle, I never recommend TV shows because in my bossy upstate NY state of mind (how Billy Joel 80's is that????) we should all be writing... not watching TV.

    BUT.... sometimes they just plain smack dab get it right and I had to onion peel our Queen Regina back a bit... expose her layers....

  115. I love Hoosiers.

    And Remember the Titans....

    And every baseball movie ever made.

  116. Andrea, you're in, sweet thing!

    And it's not a good show with kids around. That's another reason I DVR it. I've got grandkids around on Sunday evenings sometimes and it's got violence that I don't want them seeing/hearing...

    Did you ever notice that little kids are drawn-like-moths-to-a-flame by SCARY music????

    So I opt for the no nightmare scenario... But in all honesty, this is a show that layers everything, it's truly a writer's course in and of itself.


  117. Jackie, you're in, sweet thaaaaang!

  118. love to win this book!!I love the show"Once upon a time"

  119. Hi Ruth:

    Thanks for you comments. You did make me feel better. We had the ‘service’ yesterday and there were more tears than I’ve ever seen at a human funeral. Linda said the prayers.

    Sometimes pets can mean too much but we can’t help it. My SiL had a cat named Admiral when she joined the Navy. Some years later Admiral died and a real Admiral in Pensacola offer to giver her two eight week old kittens. This was 16 years ago. They were litter mates and brothers. I was asked to name the cats. I suggested Poseidon and Neptune. She chose Poseidon and Zeus because they were brothers. (She would often say that they were as close to Greek Gods that she would ever get.)

    Poseidon was the healthy cat. Zeus is a diabetic who needs two shots a day. But it was Poseidon who died. SiL has no children. As sad as this was, she will have to go through it again very soon. The cats have been in the Navy with her almost her whole career. She retires soon. Normally we don’t outlive our children. They say the loss of a child is the hardest to live with. The loss of a pet that was a ‘child’ is so hard. I’ve read books on the loss of a pet and I can give advice with the best of them but the reality, when it happens to you, is not of the books.

    Zeus was at the service. He came up to the little box casket and just meowed twice and then went back to where he was sitting. He had done all he could do.


  120. Vince, you made me get teary-eyed. YOu wordsmith, you.

    James Herriot always recommended that dog lovers should have TWO DOGS so that when one is lost, the other lives on...

    Solace. Companionship. And to help train the new, younger dog of the pair that he encouraged folks to get.

    Pets are like family. I see this every day, although I'm probably more pragmatic after raising cows, pigs, chickens for meat...

    BUT.... if you can get into the double digits with pets, that's awesome, right there. Truly, a gift. And I know they get pricey, but one of my favorite books is Where the Red Fern Grows... Big Dan and Little Ann and a boy's love and devotion.

    Who could ask for more?

  121. Ruthy, if you're still checking in -- thank you for the answer to my question :-)

    Nancy C

  122. I love Fairy Tales & Fairy Tales for grown ups - even better.