Karen’s Killer Book Bench: Upon A Time (Short Stories) by R.L. Stedman

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 読書KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!



Short Stories


Welcome to Upon a Time – a collection of fairytales. Meet Cynders and his fairy godfather; Ashley, dreaming of the Charming Ball; Ella, wearer of specially engineered shoes; a mirror-programmer (how do you define fairest anyway?) and of course, Beauty and her long-sleeping Beast.

Upon a Time is an expanding series of short stories. There’s one installment for each holiday: Christmas, Valentines, Easter and Halloween.

So, if you’re wanting to grab yourself a copy of this expanding series (you’ll get the Christmas and Valentines too), click here to be taken to the email list. You can choose between pdf, kindle or nook/itunes formats.

Short Stories


The shop was called ‘Charming’ and the dot above the i was a crown. You’ve probably heard of us; we’re in most high-end shopping malls.

“Hello. Do you remember me?”

“Of course.” I smiled, and hoped she hadn’t returned to complain.

“I got a dress,” she whispered. “It cost a fortune, but it’s worth it. I hope.” She peered behind me. “Are those other, um, ladies, here?”

“They’re out the back.”

“Do you still have any of those glass shoes? I’ve looked everywhere for something as nice, but I can’t find anything. I don’t want to get you into trouble. But those shoes were just so comfortable.”

Suddenly I felt immensely angry at Bernice and Zelda. They were so selfish! “I’ll go and look.”

I barged past Zelda, still staring up at her smoke. Grabbed a few boxes, so she wouldn’t realise that I was after one in particular and returned to the store, where my customer was standing, just where I’d left her. Except now there was someone beside her – a tall, dark-haired man. He was awfully good-looking. No wonder she wanted her dress and shoes to be just right.

“Here you are.” I put the other boxes on the seat like a barricade, so that if Zelda or Bernice came out they wouldn’t see what I was doing. “Sit down,” I said. “We had better check they still fit.”

“Oh they will,” she said. “I’m sure of it. It was just like magic!”

“It’s the new technology. Amazing, isn’t it?” I pulled them from the box, put them on the floor and she slipped her feet into them. “Look, they fit perfectly!” I laughed. “You shall go to the ball!”

The man smiled. “You happy, Aunt?”

She pouted. “Oh don’t call me ‘Aunt’, darling. You know it makes me feel so old.”

“You’re his aunt?” I asked, stupidly. Like it was any of my business. My face grew hot.

But the man laughed. “You were right. She is pretty, isn’t she?” He helped me to my feet. His eyes were intensely blue and, weirdly, he looked familiar. “What do you think, Ashley? Would you like to come to the ball?”

“Me? How do you know my name?”

“When my Aunt told me about her experience…”

Don’t call me Aunt.”

“…in this store, I looked up the staff records.”

“How could you do that?” Only the head office had access. Perhaps a computer hacker might get in, but the Charming Brands were known for their security. Anyway, he didn’t look like a hacker. He looked like…

“Well,” he half-smiled, “Actually, I own the store.”

“Oh my gosh! You’re Princeton Charming!” Princeton Charming, himself! In this store! He was much more handsome in real life than the photos. I was going to hyperventilate!

“Princeton calls me Aunt,” said Cougar Lady, “but I’m not related to him at all. I’m Flora, his Godmother.”

“So you’re not going with him? To the ball?”

Flora looked at Princeton. Began to laugh. “Oh, my dear! Oh, no! No. The man I am going with is much, much, better looking.”

“Thank you very much,” said Princeton.

“And younger,” added Flora.

I tried not to make a face, but Princeton did.

Zelda and Bernice came into the store. There were red spots on Bernice’s cheeks.

“See, I told you,” said Zelda. “She’s trying to sell those shoes again.”

“Ash!” said Bernice. “You can’t sell those shoes! They’re…”

She stopped. Zelda stopped. For a moment, the world seemed to pause.

“Ah, yes,” said Princeton, charmingly. “These must be the other staff you mentioned, Aunt. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, ladies, but …you’re fired. I was going to send a letter, but then I thought – since my Aunt,”

Don’t call me that,” hissed Flora.

“Sorry. Since Flora told me about her experiences here, I would like to meet you personally.”

Zelda and Bernice stared at him, their mouths wide open. They looked like two stuffed fishes.

“And Ashley,” said Princeton, “I’m giving you the afternoon off. Flora would like to take you shopping. For the ball.”

“For the ball?” whispered Bernice.

“You’re taking her?” said Zelda.

“Of course.” Princeton took my hand. His fingers were warm and very gentle. “I look forward to dancing with you. You’ll have to wear the new glass slippers, Ashley. I know they’ll fit you perfectly.”

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‘A true dream is when the events I see in my sleep have, or will happen. It’s a talent that runs in my family. I was thirteen when I had my first true dream.’

Will’s Aunt says the Kingdom of the Rose is the most fortunate of lands. But Will hates the place – his uncle and aunt are horrible, and he misses his parents.

Dana wishes she wasn’t a princess. She’s always being told how to behave, what to wear. The collier’s cart seems the perfect escape. Only she didn’t realize she’d become so dirty, or so lost. Fortunately this boy, Will, has a sense of direction. And next to the forbidding stranger, N’tombe, he seems reassuringly normal.

Welcome to A Necklace of Souls: a story of love and loss, of shattered lives and desperate hopes. In the Kingdom of the Rose, bravery is not always measured by strength and magic is real, if only one has the courage to dream.

Shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, A Necklace of Souls was awarded the Tessa Duder Award for Young Adult Fiction, Best First Book at the New Zealand Post Children and Young Adult Book Awards and is a Storylines Notable Book.



Chapter One: Dreaming

A true dream is when the events I see in my sleep have, or will happen. It’s a talent that runs in my family. I was thirteen when I had my first true dream.

This was my dream.


Candles cast shadows across the roof and dripped wax on the flagstones. I knew this place — it was the throne room, used on the most ceremonial occasions: investitures, coronations, state weddings. But now it was crowded with people. Laughing, they called loudly to each other, or to the musicians, or the wine waiters. They were not ceremonial at all. What was I doing here?

Feeling like a balloon, I bobbed against the stone roses on the ceiling. Below, the dancers twirled and swayed. They were richly dressed, in stiff embroidered cloth and gold-threaded cloaks that gleamed in the candlelight. Up against the ceiling, the air was stifling and I felt hot and bored. Watching someone else’s party is rarely entertaining.

With a crash of guards’ spears, the doors of the antechamber opened. A soberly dressed woman and a blonde-haired boy in a ruff stood in the doorway. The boy tugged the stiff lace at his throat. This child and the woman — a servant by her dress, a nurse by the way she fussed over his hair — seemed out of place in this crowded ballroom. Threading their way through the crowd, the boy clung to his nurse’s hand, hiding his face against her skirts, as women touched his head with ringed fingers.

No-one noticed me. This is the way of true dreams. You’re a watcher only, powerless to change the events that unfold, even if you want to. Unless, unless, you have power and passion, and then, ah, then there is nothing you may not do. But that night, I had neither…

INNER FIREinnerfire-stedman-ebookweb_FINAL


‘Maybe it would be better if I started at the beginning.’ Gran watched me carefully. ‘This ability we have; my mother, me. You. We draw heat along our bodies; anger makes us flame.’

When her friend is assaulted, Corrine Peterson can’t help reacting. But she didn’t think and now her hands are burnt, Gran is coming to look after her and, scariest of all, strange men are watching her house. Could they be terrorists? Secret agents?

It seems that Gran’s idea of a solution is to introduce Corrine to Rowan. Okay, sure, maybe eighteen year old Rowan is gorgeous – but he has his own troubles. And right now, Corrine doesn’t need complications in her life.

But in a world of surveillance and secrecy, complexity is inevitable. And as the tension mounts Corrine realizes – maybe Gran can help her, after all.

An exciting new story from an award-winning author.

Contains coarse language and sexual references.

Meet the Author, R.L. Stedman… authorphoto_RLStedman

I’m Rachel Stedman, writing as RL Stedman. I live in the south of beautiful New Zealand, where the weather is cold and the roads are empty.

I write YA and middle grade fiction, mostly with fantasy elements. I’ve had a blast writing a romantic trilogy, a futuristic thriller, and most recently, a ghost story for kids. My first novel, A Necklace of Souls, won Best First Book in the New Zealand Book Awards, and the Tessa Duder Award for Young Adult fiction.

You can read more about my writing here.

And…the reason I’m coming onto Karen’s blog is to let you know about this lovely little gift that I’ve got going. See, I love my readers. They are an awesome bunch! So to say ‘thank you’ I’ve created a giveaway, and I’m sharing it with Karen’s readers, too. If you are a teacher or a librarian you are more than welcome to copy and share Upon a Time with your students.

I hope you enjoy.


Links to R.L.’s website, blog, books, etc.

Link to Giveaway: Upon a Time

Inner Fire: http://amzn.to/26NpiE0

A Necklace of Souls: http://amzn.to/21rPQ9T

Link to store: Amazon Store

Website: RL Stedman




Twitter and Instagram: @rlstedman


uponatime-stedman-ebookweb**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**:
Everyone’s a winner! Don’t forget to get your free copy of UPON A TIME by R.L. Stedman. Just follow the links in this blog. Be sure to check out all of her other books while you’re at it. Thank you, R.L., for sharing your stories with us.

Don’t miss the chance to read these books!

3 thoughts on “Karen’s Killer Book Bench: Upon A Time (Short Stories) by R.L. Stedman”

  1. I didn’t know fairy tales could be so intriguing. I read my fair share when I was very young. Maybe now, it’s time for me to read some more. Thank you for sharing your interesting excerpts.

  2. Good morning, R.L., and welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench! I loves fairy tales growing up and still do, especially the grown up versions. 🙂 All of these books sound wonderful. Thanks for sharing them with us today!

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