I’ve been writing a retelling for Little Red Riding Hood on & off for a few years, and feel that I’ve finally gotten to a place where the story is set in stone. I’ve deliberately avoided other retellings because I never wanted to take another authors idea’s. Recently a friend my told me that my story has similar plot points to popular, short story retelling. I feel stuck. I love where my story is, but don’t want to be accused of plagiarism. I was wondering if you had in advice on my situation.

Here’s the thing: it’s going to be very, very difficult to come up with an entirely unique fairy tale retelling concept. That’s just the nature of the genre. I wouldn’t worry too much about similarities with another retelling, because 1) there’s no way that everyone who’ll read yours will have also read the other and 2) I firmly believe that it’s best to stick with the story you believe in. Yes, you may have to explain that the short story did not inspire yours, but it’s unlikely that someone would accuse you of plagiarism (this generally come to word-for-word similarities). Just keep driving on with the story you believe in and don’t worry about other stories that might resemble yours. There’s no way to prevent the possibility of similarities with any kind of fiction, especially for fairy tale retellings, so just stick with your idea and don’t worry too much. 🙂


Thanks sooo much some positive queer spaces could be really helpful if it’s not too much trouble 💛💛

I’ve heard that Ash Hardell’s channel is a great place to look! I also recommend Jessie Gender (I knew her in high school and she’s now a queer Youtuber), and she’s got a great video here about identity spectrums.

If you’re looking for bookish stuff (my specialty), you can find good stuff at YA Pride (formerly The Gay YA). They’re on tumblr, too (@ya-pride)! @lgbtqreads is also great! 

The Trevor Project has a social network site for queer teens your age here! It sounds like it might be something you’re looking for! 

I hope this is a help, and as I said, I’m here to be your cheerleader. ❤ 

Do you have any advice for a 14-year-old struggling with their romantic orientation, i think I might be gay or bi but I really don’t know. I have a preference towards girls and feel more physical attraction as well as emotional attraction towards them but I also feel that emotional connection with boys but not the same physical attraction. I am aware about comp het and I’m not sure that’s the case here. Do you know if there’s some way I can talk to someone about this.

…My parents are accepting understand but they’re not lgbt+ and I don’t think they’d understand from confused 14 year old continued

Hi, hon! The first thing I want to say is that, at 14, it’s perfectly okay not to be sure of your orientation, either sexual or romantic! The internet might tell you that you need to decide, but that’s simply not the case. You’re at an age where you body is physically changing a lot and your hormones are doing weird things and it’s all very sucky and confusing. Been there, done that. I don’t say this to sound patronizing, but because our feelings can often be tied up in what our hormones are doing, and trying to pin them down can feel a bit useless and difficult. That’s because it is, and you’re not wrong for being confused or unsure. It’s a perfectly normal part of the process, and to be honest, it’s awesome that you’re willing to have an open mind about it! 

Just don’t put the pressure on yourself to decide right now. If it makes you feel better to have a name for your orientation, that’s one thing, and I get that. But whatever you choose right now doesn’t have to be permanent! When I was first figuring out that I was ace, I learned that the names we use for our orientations are labels, which are tools. They’re meant to be useful to us. When they’re no longer useful or don’t fit anymore, we don’t have to keep using them and we can find something that fits better! It took me until I was at least 23 to get comfortable with the grey-biromantic label, but I still question it sometimes, just to test it and make sure it feels right (so far I haven’t found anything that fits better).

I figured out my orientations by talking to people online, mostly, but just make sure that you’re looking at positive, healthy, and non-toxic sources (sadly, some queer spaces CAN be toxic). If you’d like me to be more specific, I can look up some places for you because I’m blanking at the moment. You’re okay just the way you are, label or no label, and I’m here to support you if you need it!

Hey Sarah I’m sorry to bother you but I could use some advice right now . I’m going into my sophomore year of college and I’m miserable. Many of my friends have transferred schools. Many others are planning too. The things that drew me to the school have been taken away. I feel like I’m not getting what I paid for. I kept hoping it would get better but things keep getting worse. (1/2)

(2/2)My college keeps dropping majors and has reduced the number of classes offered. I’m not happy here but I’m terrified to transfer and to lose more time and money. I’m not sleeping though and I’m crying all the time. If you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated.

Hey, hon! First of all, I’m so, so sorry the system is failing you like this. That can be incredibly disheartening and such a struggle. Know that I support you and I sincerely hope you find a way to make it work. There are two things I can suggest you do:

1) Stick it out and make it your bitch. Sometimes, when it seems a system to working against you and taking away what you came for, it can be hard to see past that, and I don’t blame you one bit. But if you are dead-set determined to remain at that school and get your money’s worth, there’s probably a way it can be done. This will take some creativity, backbone, and determination on your part. Sometimes it takes grabbing administration by the lapels (figuratively) and demanding that you get what you came for. Before you do this, it’s best to have a plan of courses and such that you think you need and/or want. Perhaps you will have to change your major to something adjacent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish your goals. Find out what really makes you tick and find a way to make that happen within the limitations of your school’s layout. And one more tip: Remember that, as sucky as it is, colleges and universities want your money. If you confront them with a “give me what I’m paying for or I’m leaving” attitude, that might help move things in your direction (especially if you have other students on your side). I can’t guarantee this will work, but it’s worth trying if you really want to stay.

2) Transfer schools. I completely understand what a terrifying prospect this can be. I freaked out just changing my major, let alone changing schools! But sometimes it is necessary. If what drew you to the school in the first place simply no longer exists and there’s no way you can get it back, you will be far more miserable staying for another 2.5 years than you will be by transferring and maybe taking summer classes if some of your courses don’t transfer. I promise, it’s better to take a little extra time to finish rather than sell your soul and be miserable for the duration of what should be a really exciting time in your life! I’m saying this having once been in a position where finishing on time was the Most Important Thing to me; but I’ve since learned that “on time” means different things for different people. There’s no shame in it, and while it’s incredibly disappointing that your school is letting you down, there’s no need to remain miserable if you have other options. 

Again, I’m so sorry that you’re in this situation, but given that you’re a sophomore, there’s plenty of time for things to turn around, no matter what your decision in. I’m rooting for you, and I hope you find this helpful!

i dont know if youll respond or if ill even have the guts to send this but i almost killed myself last night and i dont know what to do,, i want to live and i have people around me who care but i keep feeling like they dont and im never enough and i never will be enough and i almost cut myself last night too which is like something i havent done in a really long time and im just really scared because im worried that one time im not gonna chicken out and actually go through and end this

Hey. I’m right here. So is my little cat, Millie, who is purring and giving me kisses. I want you to think about that little cat, think about something warm and soft and happy, and take a few deep breaths. 

In. Count to 5.

Out. Count to 5.



I am proud of you. You had the guts to send this! That’s so brave of you! Reaching out for help can be one of the hardest things to do (Millie agrees), and you’ve done that, just by sending me a message. I know from experience that sometimes we can know people care and know what we want from an objective standpoint, but that doesn’t always mean our minds and are emotions will agree. That can be so frustrating, feeling like we know the truth but don’t feel the truth. It’s something that other people have a really hard time understanding, too, but that does not mean we’re alone. I might not have suicidal thoughts, but I absolutely know what it’s like to feel like you’re not enough and never will be. Here’s the thing that I have to remind myself:

I don’t have to be enough. “Enough” is arbitrary. “Enough” means different things to different people. It’s an unattainable goal for anyone. Try the word in your mouth. Say it lots of times in a row, and eventually it won’t sound like a word with a meaning that can hurt us anymore. It’s just a sound. Just a word. You don’t have to be “enough” to make yourself worthwhile. You are worthwhile, valuable, because you are a human being. There is inherent worth in that! 

This world often lies to us and tells us that we’re only worth something based on what we do, but it’s only a lie. We are worth something because we are human (Millie is very insistently and loudly reminding me that we are worth something because we are cats, too–sure, Millie). Being human is a scary thing because we can feel so small all the time, but because being human is scary, it also means that you are brave. Every single breath you take and thought you think is a brave one, because you’re doing it in spite of the fact that being alive is scary. And the fact is, you didn’t kill yourself last night. You didn’t cut yourself. That’s incredible! You’re so strong! I know it doesn’t feel like that, but take courage from the fact that You Are Still Here. I believe that you’ll continue to be here, continue to be brave, continue to love and be loved, because you’ve already shown that you’re brave and strong, and those things remain true no matter how we feel when we get out of bed in the morning.

Thank you so much for sending me this message, because it means you’re fighting. I’ll repeat myself again. You are brave. You are worthwhile. You are strong. I love you as my fellow person in the world and as someone whose mind likes to screw with her on a daily basis, too. We can get through this, together. ❤ Stick with me, and picture Millie chasing half an orange Easter egg around the carpet and smile.   

Hi Sarah! Do you have any advice for how to handle a suicidal/depressed friend? I’m trying to be supportive, but this person is constantly hating on themselves over the slightest thing, and I don’t know how to help.

Hey there. Having been on both sides of this issue in some degree, my best advice is to just let them know you’re there for them. Depression makes you feel alone and like no one cares about you, and when I’m wrestling with my symptoms, all I really want is someone to reach out to me and let me know they’re thinking about me. It’s a small gesture, but it goes a long way. On the other hand, don’t force yourself into their space too much because they’ll feel coddled, which makes them feel weak, and that’s not helpful because it contributes to the narrative their brain is feeding them. Let them know you’re there, be there to help when they ask for it, and refer them to resources they can seek out on their own terms. That’s the best advice I have. ❤

Do you have any tips on how to write a proper book review? I’d like to support more authors by reviewing their books on sites, but I never really know how to

It takes a little trial and error to find the balance between what’s important to you and the basics that a review should have, so don’t worry about adjusting your format the first few times you do it! Some people like to break it down by character/plot/etc. I take a more general approach of Good/Bad/Representation, and I break it into finer points in my extended reviews on Patreon. I always link to Goodreads, but if you don’t do that, it’s a good idea to have at least the publication date and publisher in your post so that it’s easier for people to find. I personally think content warnings are important, but that’s my take and your mileage may vary. 

Like I said, don’t be afraid to try a couple of different methods when you get started. Eventually you’ll find your flow and a system that works for you!

any tips on how to write faster?? bcs i feel so down that i can manage literally only 2k in 5 hours even if i envision the scene perfectly 😩😢 i wish i could write 5k easily …. it just makes me so upset that i cant update my fanfiction fast enough

Honey, that’s an incredible pace! It’s an accomplishment to be able to do even 2k a day. The daily goal for NaNoWriMo is only 1,667. This is a challenge for even the most seasoned writers! I know from experience the pressure to update fic regularly, but fic is just as much about your enjoyment as your readers’. Take your time, and don’t feel rushed! 

You’re doing great, so there’s no need to be discouraged!

Hi Sarah! Do you have any tips on coping with exam stress? I’m drowning in work, especially with culminating projects. When I do finish the presentations, all my back-to-back exams will be only 2 days away! Thanks for your help!

Oh hey, hun! This does sound tough. My recommendation is to schedule in rest time. It’s counter-intuitive and it’s hard to do because when we’re drowning in work, all we want to do is work. But if you make sure that you rest (for example, by stopping work at a specific time each night or giving yourself a weekly day off), your brain will work more efficiently during times you are working and you’ll get more accomplished. And don’t forget to reward yourself when you do get something finished! That way, you’ll be even more motivated to move onto and finish the next thing. Finally, don’t study for your exams more than 24 hours in advance, because nothing you take in during that time will settle into your brain on time to be useful to you. My advice to all of my students has always been to avoid studying 24 hours before unless it’s absolutely critical for the purpose of easing your anxiety. 

Good luck! Sounds like you have a lot on your plate, but I believe in you!

Hello! If it’s okay for me to ask, I was wondering if you have any advice on giving constructive criticism? Thank you for your time!

Hi! Great question! Sadly, this is a thing that never really gets any easier. My technique is to remember that I’m trying to teach/help the person in question, so I need to phrase my criticism in a way that that they’ll be receptive to. If it’s just harsh or too mean, they’ll shut down and not be helped. So I try to offer one positive or every negative, or to use encouraging phrasing like, “I see that you were trying to do this, but I recommend doing this instead.” All that said, holding back can be unhelpful. Striking the right balance is difficult to master, but it comes with practice. As long as you’re coming at it with the goal of helping, that’s a good place to begin. 🙂