High school senior Ashley St. Helens
has suddenly found herself living a fairy tale life....
Which is not as much fun as it sounds.
Until... the other shoe drops.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Story So Far...

Two writers of a musical (a.k.a. 'The Creators') create a blog and ask people to post stories about their "fairy tale realities" for a project they're working on.  A letter arrives from a mythology professor, introducing her student, Ashley St. Helens Prince. A letter arrives from Ashley herself, which piques the curiosity of the writers. After a few flurries of letterspostcards, and emails, Ashley begins telling her story.

In Chapter One, Once Upon a Time, Ashley recounts her childhood, which was happy until her mother died and her father remarried a woman named Sylvia who had two daughters, Debra and Donna. (The Creators converse about her story and talk about publishing it as a book as well as a musical.) Sylvia's true colors show just before Ashley's father dies.

Chapter Two, The Virtue of Rags, sets the scene with Ashley withdrawing in sorrow into the attic room, emerging only to clean her mother's house. (The writers interrupt the story a few times in this chapter, to discuss musical business.) One day, while she is doing the laundry, the phone rings... after too much discussion of clothes, especially undergarments, and her stepmother, Sylvia, acting weird. (Aside, the writers discuss Ashley's current relationship with these people, and articles about these topics.)

In Chapter Three, Miss St. Helens Erupts, Ashley answers the phone. It's Harry Carrington, her long-lost godfather. He encourages her to let out her feelings, and as it turns out, she has quite a few. Then he tells her where to look to find a very special (practically magical) dress she could wear to prom.

Chapter Four, My Father's Shoes, begins as the stepsisters come to say goodbye (and in this installment, the musical begins to take shape) on the night of the prom, as does Sylvia. Ashley wanders the house, struggling with her self-esteem. Is she worthy of her dreams?

Just as she is ready to curl up with a book, Harry makes a dramatic entrance to kick off Chapter Five, The Souls of My Feet, and shares his philosophy about shoesThey bond while remembering her parents as they choose the perfect pair, and Harry gives Ashley an emotional makeover as well as a physical one. The chapter closes with a series of email exchanges in which we find out the project may be having some trouble.

Just minutes after her arrival, The Toss of a Coin (Chapter Six) determines Ashley's fate as the surprise queen of the prom. As she and Jeff do their victory dance, Harry confronts Sylvia. Behind the scenes, there is a change of plans with the writers, but Ashley runs from the prom when she is discovered. 

The next morning, Harry and Jeff show up at Ashley's house, reminiscing about what had happened at The Stroke of Midnight (Chapter Seven). They eat brunch and tell her about the Squash Coach's strange behavior. Behind the scenes, the writers launch a crowdfunding campaign; Sylvia's daughters discover her distasteful attempt to fix the prom and a shouting match begins. Then, Harry invites Ashley to live with him.

A Fairytale Ending begins with Jeff going upstairs with Ashley to help her pack. On their way down, it dawns on Donna and Debra that Ashley is now popular girl—not that she cares. They return to the living room just in time to hear Harry's confession, and Sylvia kicks them all out of the house. But when Ashley turns back to face Sylvia, the final shoe drops: she finds out she got a scholarship...and now her dreams have come true!

Everyone's dreams come true ten years later when the musical about Ashley and her fairytale family finally makes it to the stage.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Let's Put Our Feet Up!

And So it Begins!

Thank you, friends, for being there for me as I finished writing this story. If it were not for my commitment to you, I wouldn't have made myself stick it through to completion. Knowing you were there, salivating for each new twist and turn, kept me accountable to the project.

And now look what we've done. The blook is going to grow up to be an ebook. And the musical has come back to life.

What Happens Next?

Here is a short survey that will enable you to give me any feedback you can and you care to. If you would like a FREE copy of the ebook, I'd love to give you one. Just put your email in the bottom of the form.

Come to the Launch Party!

On April 21, the ebook will go live. The following Saturday, we'll celebrate by giving our feet some love. If you're in or near Oakland, I hope you can join me! But no matter where you are, I hope you can get some friends together and go pamper your feet with a pedicure, a foot massage, or even... (do you need an excuse?)... a new pair of shoes!

Here's a link to the event. Feel free to invite your shoe-loving, fairy-tale loving, drag-queen loving, or just loving friends.
(And please feel free to post a picture of your beautiful, happy feet afterward!)

After That... Making Music!

Thank you to all who have contributed to our Indiegogo fundraising campaign! Your donations have already helped us accomplish two major things:
  • A membership to Fractured Atlas, our fiscal sponsor... this means all future donations are tax-deductible AND we will be eligible for foundation grants (this is HUGE), and
  • Train tickets for Michael to come out and finish the music around Kristen's piano in May.
Any further donations will go towards hiring actors and musicans to create a really great demo recording. We also hope to create some videos for YouTube to kick off "The Patchwork Princess Project"—in which glee clubs and high school theater groups record scenes from the musical.

Let's Keep in Touch!

You can subscribe to:
  • Kristen's occasional newsletter, "The Cobbler" or
  • Blog posts from the musical (the actual history is on that site, too...)
You can 'Like:'
You can 'Follow:'

What about the Blook?

If you stay subscribed to this blog, you may get an occasional announcement in the future. The posts may "fade into obscurity" (disappear from the site) after the ebook comes out. And then, some day, for some special event, they may be published again, in order, over a series of weeks, NOT months.

You can feel free to unsubscribe now, at any time (or don't, and see what happens). Thank you for taking all these steps with us...
we've arrived!

A huge thank you to
 Ann and Charlotte Hutcheson-Wilcox
 for the hilarious and beautiful cover photo!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Five-Minute Survey

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A "Mirror Imag(in)e" Teaser....

Mädchen March, Ph.D.
Castleton College
Black Forest, OH 44883

July 25, 2010

My Dear Creatives,

I just received the most delightful letter from Ashley about your work together, and I wanted to wish you well on your project.

Ashley asked if I would write something about Nevada LeBlanc. Poor Nevada, what she went through really changed her. She worked for me during her Freshman Year, helping with one of my research projects on Urban Mythologies. Although she, Ashley, and Linda were quite the show together in Freshman mythology class—sparking debate, causing laughter, and prodding one another (and everyone within earshot) to think more deeply—one on one Nevada seemed quiet, attentive, grounded, sweet, and even simple.

That being said, Nevada always had the keenest sense of justice of any student I’d ever had. She seemed to be able to sort out right from wrong in the cloudiest situations, and make sure that the underdogs were given the rights due to them. Once I remarked that she was “the fairest of them all,” and her classmates took up the tease (well-naturedly, of course). Who knew it would be so portentous!

As a matter of fact, Nevada was the driving force behind my efforts behind the New York City Sewer Alligator Rescue Service, once we discovered this urban legend actually had some teeth. She actually shed tears at the terrible plight of pipe-bound crocodillians and this prodded me to action.

Because of this quality of hers, the heartbreak we all felt at the injustice done to her was ever the more painful. When Nevada returned to school, she was a changed person. More reserved, more skeptical, and a even, I must point out, a few shades paler. And perhaps not-so-strangely, her interests had moved from social justice to neuroscience.

Because Nevada is now such a private person, I would be surprised if she agreed to share her story with you. But on the other hand, I would not be surprised if her friends convinced her; they are, as I mentioned, quite taken with your project. Even I was talked in to writing to her!

By the way, you may be interested to know that since I last wrote you I have rescued two mice from a French laboratory (named Melibellule and Tigrounette), who have inspired my new research on the transformational aspects of rodentia in the Cinderella myth. There may even be some shamanic involvement that I cannot yet, at this time, confirm. 


Professor Mädchen March

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Roll Credits

The Souls of Her Feet interactive BLOOK was brought to you by:

Kristen Caven

in collaboration with both the real and the fictional

Michael O'Dell

and the following artists:

Frontspiece photo (artified):
Gyorgy Vass

Demos for "Big Bitch," "Ashley's Blues," and "If The Shoe Fits"
Jenn Graham as Ashley (sung) and Brian Yates Sharber as Harry. 
(Spoken parts & photo of Brian's feet by Kristen Caven)

"When You Try to Clean With Dran-o"
Kristen Caven using Autotune*

"It's A Waltz"
The robots at XtraNormal*

New York stage reading cast:
Narrator.....Jen Ponton
Ashley.....Juliana Marx
Donna.....Dina Plotch
Debra.....Cassandra Bodzak
Sylvia.....Susan Neuffer
Harry.....Keith Levy (a.k.a. Sherry Vine)
Jeff.....Blake McCorvey
Coach.....Robert Kalman
Heckler.....Roger Wingfield

Chorus (Understudies):
Kerri Ford (Ashley), Jen Ponton (Ashley), Giancarla Boyle (Donna), Joanna Schubert (Debra), Alex Beck (Jeff), Roger Wingfield (Coach) JenMarie Pierce, Kris Doubles

“Midnight Mouse”

Piano.....Michael O’Dell, Jess Stewart
Bass.....Brian Holtz
Drums.....Rossen Nedelchev

See more about who these fine and awesome actors are on the blog.

*All other music everywhere by Michael O'Dell, of course.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Three Blocks from Broadway

From: FTR <info@fairytalereality.com>
To: Ashley <ash-prince gmail.com>, <crankingitout@gmail.com>
Date: Sunday, 28 August 2011 7:07:07

Subject: Congratulations

Ashley, Congratulations to you, Jeff, Harriet, and Peter on the newest little Princes... (and one is a Princess!) I hope you are recovering well and enjoying your first few days being the mother of twins. Michael and I are sending something along for the little ones.

And here’s a treat for you: the video of the staged reading. We were only three blocks from Broadway! It was wonderful to meet some of your friends in the audience. It seems Nevada has come around and is willing to tell her story—with a little help from Cadwallader, Linda, and Professor March.

Enjoy the mini-musical. It’s rough, of course, but everyone was tremendous and worked so well to pull off a good show with so little rehearsal time. The story isn't exactly how we want it yet, but we got the broad strokes... hope you like it! We’ve already started the rewrite, and are taking the next “little steps.” As your life has grown and developed into something so much more than it was when you were seventeen, we hope this story of yours will grow and develop into something that can really touch people’s hearts.

It’s been wonderful working with you. Thank you for sharing your story.

With gratitude and affection,
Kristen and Michael

The Souls of Her Feet - NY Staged Reading from Kristen Caven on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

That One Big Step

We crept back into the living room, hoping to grab them from the windowsill and go, but Sylvia was still sitting where we had left her, staring into space. Light played over her fraying hair from the glass beads when we moved the shoes.

“Ashley,” she said, looking up, “I’m sorry.”

Startled, I turned to look at her. I had never heard her say those words.

Sylvia’s eyes went from liquid to solid in an instant, as her dominant and dominating persona regained control. “If you walk through that door, though, I swear to God, you will never get an ounce of support from me again."

Jeff and I just stared at her. "You are leaving your HOME behind! How could you do that?”

“Well I don’t want to,” I retorted, feeling my temper rise through my fear, “but Harry’s right." Jeff touched my back, and I took a breath and kept going. “I don’t have to live like this anymore. I’m tired of you yelling at me all the time. I’m tired of doing all the work and being called names. I deserve better than this.”

Her eyes softened again, and the rare vulnerability returned. “I am just so angry right now I can’t stand it. But Harry’s right. You don’t have to stay. You are winning, and I am losing the one thing...the one thing I have left of your dad. Who I really loved.”

Sylvia started crying again, and I felt a rush of empathy and sorrow. Why hadn’t she ever said this before? We had that in common. Things could have been so different. Why did she have to see it as a war? “I’m sorry, Sylvia,” I said. From the corner of my eye I could see Jeff rubbing his neck. He later joked that he got whiplash from her sudden mood shifts.

“Can you just do me one favor,” she asked, in a softer voice than I'd heard in years, since before she started taking me for granted. “Can you help me clean this mess up? I just can’t… I just don’t know how I’ll get through the day. With the girls and all. And then tomorrow…”

I looked at Jeff, whose inner eyebrows were creeping into his forehead, then looked at Sylvia, pressing her hand to her mouth, and realized I could end this on my terms. The mess she was referring to was a nicely set buffet table—with mom’s china—a few dirty dishes, and a pile of papers on the floor by her desk. I lifted my chin and said “Of course, Sylvia.” Together we stacked the plates up and put them back in the cabinet. She poured the punch down the drain and I packed it carefully back into the box, wrapping crumpled newspaper around each cup, dated from my parent’s wedding month. I folded the tablecloth—the way I wanted it folded. Jeff helped me put the plastic slipcovers back on the furniture, and bent to scoop up the piles of paper from the floor by the desk, from when Sylvia had cleared it in her fury.

“Ashley,” Jeff called out, “there’s mail for you.” Sylvia rushed towards him, laughing nervously, “You know! Maybe I should clean up my own desk! You guys can go.” But it was too late.

“It’s a letter from Castleton,” Jeff said, narrowing his eyes at Sylvia. He handed it to me and I tore it open.

“They accepted me,” I said, feeling the weight of my long and painful wait leave my shoulders. And when I got to the bottom, I shouted, “and a scholarship!” I jumped up and down. This was the dream I had been waiting for.

Jeff threw his arms around me and twirled me around and away from Sylvia. “I’m going there, too,” he grinned. That was the dream I could never have hoped for!

“I-I was waiting for Debra and Donna’s to come so I could give them to you all at the same time,” Sylvia stuttered, suddenly self-conscious. I stood up straight and looked her in the eye, trying to find some response to what I could see clearly now as bullshit. In spite of all the sincere emotion of half an hour ago, now I was just done with her. I opened my mouth up with every intention of speaking my feelings—the ones Harry had helped me articulate for the first time just two nights ago—but I couldn't bring myself to use the B-word. She probably deserved a flood of words more colorful than I could ever knit up with a tongue that had been trained to be as tempered as mine. But even Harry's words hadn't slowed her down. And I knew from experience that language like that would just fuel her fire. Plus, letting fly is just not my style.

So I took a deep breath and, permitting myself only the slightest whiff of snootiness, simply said, “Sylvia, I think you can clean the rest up yourself.”

Jeff told me later he wanted to laugh out loud. Instead, being the stud that he is, he took my hand and held it tight, drawing me gently away.

“Goodbye, Sylvia,” I said for the last time, taking that one big step out the front door and into my own life.