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Truth in Fiction Video Introduction

Fairy tales have evolved over time. Many of the fairy tales we know so well through Walt Disney films were written centuries ago for adults. Their themes often contained acts of violence that were considered too scary for children.

For example, in the original Sleeping Beauty known as The Sun, Moon and Talia by Giambattista Basile (1634), Talia aka Sleeping Beauty was not awakened by true love’s first kiss. Rather, she was discovered in her unconscious state by a king “who grew hot with lust.” His uncontrolled passion produced two babies named Sun and Moon. Today we would say having sex with an unconscious woman constitutes rape!

I’ve taken an in-depth look at some of the classic stories to determine what they really communicate. For example, is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs just a sexist story about a Princess waiting to be rescued by a Prince? No, it is really much more substantive. It’s about family, friends and diversity! The story encompasses every human emotion and shows that acts of caring and kindness lead to positive outcomes while jealously in the extreme is self-destructive.

My findings are presented in an entertaining talk titled Truth in Fiction: Lessons Learned from Fairy Tales. This presentation offers insights for businesses, associations, community organizations and women’s groups. For an introduction to my talk, click here.

To schedule a speaking engagement on Truth in Fiction: Lessons Learned from Fairy Tales, contact me.
“Ellen Roth is an enchantress…She reminds us that fairy tales… make us all dream again.”
—Carl Kurlander, Screenwriter, “St. Elmo’s Fire,” President/CEO of the Steeltown Entertainment Project

“Ellen Roth engages and inspires her audiences.…”
— Aradhna M Oliphant, President & CEO, Leadership Pittsburgh Inc.

“Ellen’s discussion of fairy tales can be applied to a wide range of business and personal situations…Great ideas and fresh thinking.”
—Ann Dugan, Senior Managing Director of Consulting, Family Office Exchange

Is love good for you?

Tragedy befalls the most famous lovers in romantic literature. Romeo drinks poison and Juliet plunges Romeo’s dagger into her chest. In a similar vein, Antony, receiving false news that Cleopatra has died, falls on his sword; but he is only wounded. Carried to Cleopatra, he dies in her arms. Shortly thereafter, Cleopatra inflicts herself with bites from a venomous snake and joins him in death.

Love can lead to tragedy. But most evidence suggests that love is good for you!

Like Romeo and Juliet, the characters in my story, Martak and Marianna, fall in love at first sight. It is the love that binds them that gives them the strength to conquer evil.

Studies show that people in loving marriages or supportive relationships have fewer doctors’ visits, less depression and substance abuse, live longer and experience more joy (Sherry Rauh, WebMD Health News). Feeling loved and connected wards off the detrimental effects of loneliness and isolation.

On this Valentine’s Day and year-round, make someone happy by showing your love and affection. You’ll be enhancing your own health as well because kissing lowers stress, relieves pain and boosts immunity (Lisa Bushak, medicaldaily.com).

Hugs are good, too!

A Holiday Message of Hope

The holiday season is special. Colorful lights, joyous music, delicious food, being with family and friends are traditions we all cherish. We enjoy the holidays and often recall our pleasure in celebrating them as children.

My goal in writing Ten Fingers Touching was to transport adults to an imaginary world with the same pleasure they experienced in reading magical stories as youths. Stories where the power of good conquers the forces of evil.

Our world is filled with harsh realities and there is no shortage of disturbing news, e.g., war, terrorism, cyber terrorism ― all communicated in real time via technology and social media. We crave respite from the evils we perceive and the uncertainties they create.

The power of fairy tales is that they allow us to escape from the problems of the present and dream about worlds where anything is possible. Their happy endings give us hope that what can be imagined can be achieved.

Hope is vital to the human spirit. In the words of Elie Wiesel, “Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future.”

For every hardback copy of Ten Fingers Touching sold between Dec. 8 and Dec. 31, 2016, I will donate copies to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh for domestic violence. Please send proof of purchase to ellen@ellenrothauthor.com.

Screenplay Update

3-images3-1I’ve been working on the screenplay adaptation of Ten Fingers Touching for several months. Friends and fans have asked how it’s coming along, so I thought I would comment on its progress. My writing partner, Steve Fine, who edited the book, and I are working with a screenplay analyst who is guiding us through the creative and technical side of screenwriting.

In Screenplay, the bible for aspiring screenwriters, Syd Field lays out the paradigm for crafting a movie. Screenplays are divided into three acts ― Set up (30 minutes), Confrontation (60 minutes),  Resolution (30 minutes). We have an outline for the story and we’ve pretty much nailed Act I. We’re working on Act 2.

Writing a screenplay is very different from writing a book and it is extremely challenging. A book is a text where you can wrap up the story at the end in a few paragraphs. A screenplay is a story in pictures. You need to show the story through images, augmented with dialogue, so the viewer understands what is happening and why without an explanatory text.

When I wrote Ten Fingers Touching, I knew from the outset that it would have cinematic appeal because the imagery is so big. Many authors write words that create images. I saw images in my head and then tried to find the words to describe them. The visuals were a powerful part of the storytelling.

In addition to the beautiful illustrations in the book that depict key points in the story, I’ve started to collect images that could represent scenes in the movie. Some of these images are pictured on the left.

If you find an image that calls to mind a place in the book, please send it to me!

New Talk

3 images2-1While working on the screenplay adaptation of Ten Fingers Touching, I’ve also developed a talk on: Finding your Happily Ever After:  Lessons Learned from Fairy Tales.

Fairy tales endure because they are engaging, magical stories. They impart messages that resonate and linger beyond the narrative. My presentation discusses how fairy tales permeate our culture and their deeper meanings.

Fairy tales are represented everywhere. We see them larger than life in movies e.g., Cinderella, Into the Woods, Maleficent, Frozen and on television, e.g., Once Upon a Time.

Fairy tales have galvanized the fashion industry. Vogue’s spread on haute couture features fashions associated with Briar Rose, aka Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and others from storybook classics. Fairy tales are popular in contemporary humor as in  Smartphone, Smartphone, on a stick, who has the fairest profile pic? They inspire travel and influence our lives in countless ways.

Fairy tales also provide messages about simple truths that linger beyond the story. One such truth is ― share your feelings and show your love and affection. In Beauty and the Beast, when the Beast is dying, Beauty tells him that she loves him. Declaring her true feelings not only brings him back to life but turns him into a Prince! We also learn from this story not to judge people by their looks but by their good deeds.

Finding your Happily Ever After: Lessons Learned from Fairy Tales sweeps you into a timeless world of fantasy that inspires hope and happy endings.

To schedule a speaking engagement for your organization visit my contact page.

Announcement of Award

3 jonSo proud to announce that the electronic version of Ten Fingers Touching just won the Benjamin Franklin Silver Digital Award for exceptional content, design and use of technology. The book received high ratings not only for the story but also for aesthetics, user engagement, graphics and downloading speed!

This award makes me happy because I wanted to write an engaging story and also create a work of art. The aesthetics of the book were very important. John Blumen, the illustrator, ensured that the beautiful images would easily adapt to all electronic and print platforms.

When searching for an illustrator, I was immediately attracted to Blumen’s exquisite portfolio. His illustrations, in the style of magical realism, were perfect for a fairy tale. Each image created for Ten Fingers Touching adds depth to the story and further draws the reader into a timeless world of fantasy and imagination.

As one blogger wrote, “Come for the illustrations, stay for the story, and leave with another couple of which to remark upon the next time you think of ‘great loves.’”

I’ve also created a delightful PowerPoint presentation on fairy tales that is both substantive and entertaining. To schedule a speaking engagement on Finding your Happily Ever After:  Lessons Learned from Fairy Tales, visit my contact page.

Screenplay Aspirations

3 imagesSo much has happened since my last newsletter! Ten Fingers Touching appeared on the front cover of Publishers Weekly, on the back cover of FAE: Faeries and Enchantment Magazine and was featured at two Barnes & Noble book signing events. It has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon! I’ve also developed an engaging presentation on “The Enduring Appeal of Fairy Tales and their Relevance for Adults.” It is both substantive and fun and has been well-received.

Many people ask me if I’m writing the sequel to Ten Fingers Touching. The answer is no, but I am writing the screenplay adaptation of the book! With the support of Carl Kurlander, President and CEO, Steeltown Entertainment Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a thriving entertainment industry in Pittsburgh, I sent Ten Fingers Touching to a script reading company in Hollywood. The book was rated good for film potential. Since then, I have been on a crash course in screenwriting, hired a screenplay analyst and am working with Steve Fine, who edited Ten Fingers Touching to bring the story to the big screen. The process of transforming the book into a movie is both exciting and challenging!

For those seeking a non-traditional Mother’s Day gift, please consider surprising your mom with Ten Fingers Touching, a fairy tale for grown-ups! Not only will it last longer than flowers, it’s as sweet as chocolate but without the calories!

Thoughts about Valentine’s Day

Red dress 3Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day? There are many legends but my favorite goes back to the 3rd century A.D.

The Roman Emperor, Claudius II, decreed that young men were forbidden to marry because he felt that unmarried soldiers were better warriors. He wanted to grow his army with men who would not be distracted by families. Valentine, a priest in Rome, performed marriages in secret and was imprisoned for defying the edict. While a prisoner, he cured his jailor’s daughter of blindness. Before being executed on February 14 in 270 A.D., he sent the girl a farewell note signing it “Your Valentine.”

St. Valentine’s Day became associated with romantic love in the 14th century based on a poem by Chaucer.

The 18th century popularized gift giving and exchanging elaborate handmade cards known as valentines. In the 1840’s, Esther Howland set up an assembly line of card makers in her home, becoming the first person to mass produce valentines in the U.S.

If you’re looking for a non-traditional Valentine’s Day gift, please consider surprising someone you care about with my book! It will last longer than flowers, and it’s as sweet as chocolate but without the calories!

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I’m doing a book signing at Barnes & Noble at The Waterfront on Thursday, February 11, 2016, starting at 6 p.m. I would be delighted to personalize a copy of Ten Fingers Touching for your lover, mother or friend!

Happy Valentine’s Day and a toast to the romantic in all of us!

Photo contest winners!

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the 10 Fingers Photo Contest. We received  a wide-range of outstanding entries and they were judged anonymously. There were so many good choices that the judges awarded three winners instead of two! Interestingly and totally coincidentally, the three images that were selected represent love at different stages of life!

Please join me in congratulating Lida Larsen, Sheree Lynn Ross and Lisa Fraley for their heartwarming photos!  Each will receive an autographed copy of Ten Fingers Touching!

Click on a gallery image to view the photo full size!

I hope you enjoy viewing these photos which speak volumes about loving relationships ― lifetime love, young love and childhood love!

Following are comments that accompanied the first two photos and provide meaningful context:

Lida Larsen wrote, “My parents always held hands. This is right before my father died.”

Sheree Lynn Ross took this picture noting: “My great niece Paige and her fiancé, Matt. They became engaged Dec. 10.”

Together, these three images are poignant examples of the power of non-verbal communication and show how trust, reassurance and comfort flow from a simple gesture.

My book begins and ends with two original short poems about ten fingers touching because holding hands with someone you care about creates a sense of well-being and an emotional bond. In the case of lovers, Martak and Marianna, ten fingers touching leads to greater intimacy that completes an emotional circle giving Markak the power to conquer evil.

New Year’s Photo Contest

Ellen Roth Cover (4)To my friends and fans who follow this blog in the U.S. and in 16 countries around the world, let’s start the new year with something fun and different ―a photo contest!

The cover of Ten Fingers Touching shows our hero and heroine, Martak and Marianna, with their fingertips touching. In Chapter 12, we read how, “Turning over Marianna’s hands, Martak gently placed a kiss in each of her palms, then pressed them against his own, sealing their love. Ten fingers touched as their lips sought what their hearts desired.”

The image of ten fingers touching can be interpreted in so many ways, e.g., hands coming together in prayer, a circle of children holding hands, lovers holding hands, etc.

What image comes to your mind?  I would love to know and so would our many readers!  Send us a photo representing your interpretation of ten fingers touching. A panel of judges will review all the photos and their two favorites will be posted on my blog.

This contest will run for two weeks from January 5 to January 19, 2016!

Post your photos on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #10FingersContest or leave a comment on this blog post with a link to your photo!

I hope that my book and this contest inspires your creativity in portraying images that are romantic, clever or humorous!

Best wishes to all for a healthy, joyous New Year and one in which there will be peace on earth.