Friday, September 21, 2018

The Red Shoes

by Shari Randall

You may have noticed that the Stiletto Gang has an updated look. We’re celebrating our new logo with a giveaway! Readers who comment on one of the Red Shoes blogs in September and October are entered to win either an Amazon or Starbucks $10 gift card. Join in the fun! The winner will be announced on our November Clicking Our Heels blog.

As a dance lover with a former ballerina as a main character, for me there is only one pair of red shoes that matters - The Red Shoes, a classic British film starring Moira Shearer.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the film but a recent viewing revealed how well the film has aged. The Red Shoes has even more to say now than when it was first released to great acclaim, two Oscar wins, and several nominations in 1948. Directors as different as Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma have named the film one of their favorites. If these directors of some of the grittiest, hardest hitting films of all time declare a ballet movie one of their favorites, there must be something more to it than a simple backstage drama.

The film is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fable about a girl who yearns for dazzling red shoes she sees in a shop window. The shopkeeper gives them to her, but they are no ordinary shoes. She begins to dance, but discovers that she cannot stop dancing. The girl dances across fields, across cities, for days, exhausted, bruised, terrified by what’s happening because no matter how she tries, she cannot take off the enchanted shoes, cannot stop dancing. She begs a woodcutter to cut off her feet. He complies and she’s finally freed of the cursed shoes but at a terrible cost.

The directors of The Red Shoes used the fable as a springboard to an emotionally sophisticated and rich story. By setting the fable in the world of theater, the film’s central motif, the shoes, become a symbol for the artist’s gift.

The film centers around Vicky Page, a gifted young dancer. When she meets charismatic Boris Lermontov, a dictatorial ballet impresario, he asks her why she dances.
“Why do you live?” she responds.
We meet Julian, a young musician whose music has been plagiarized by his music professor. Boris asks Julian to compose music for a ballet version of The Red Shoes. With Vicky in the starring role the ballet is a sensation and Vicky is hailed as a great new talent at each stop on a glamorous European tour.

Two beautiful young people, each gifted artists, each passionate about their art – you can guess what happens next. Vicky and Julian fall in love. 

Against the pleadings of Lermontov, Vicky marries Julian and returns to England, leaving her career behind while Julian’s star rises.

But the pull of dance is too great. Vicky goes to visit her aunt in Monte Carlo, just as the ballet pulls into town. Lermontov begs her to return to the stage. She does. Did Vicky really simply wish to visit her aunt or did she intend to meet Lermontov? The film suggests but does not tell.

Just as she is preparing to take the stage for a revival of The Red Shoes, Julian storms in, begging her to return to England with him. Lermontov offers a counter argument, begging her to see that she is an artist, that she is born to dance. Vicky, forced to choose  between the man she loves and the art that keeps her alive, is torn from reality. As if her own red shoes are enchanted, she begins to dance, and….

I don’t want to give away the ending, because this film is so enjoyable on so many levels. The directors hired a painter to be in charge of art direction - it's one of the most gorgeous, color drenched, Technicolor films ever. The costumes by French house of Fath are spectacular. But most importantly, the film has surprisingly modern things to say about art, artists, and relationships. 

Do yourself a favor and rent it. The Red Shoes raises so many issues about the nature of art and the sacrifices artists must make to honor their gift. It’s the perfect film, and the perfect shoes, for a group of writers who understand Vicky’s answer to Lermontov’s question.
Why do you write?
Why do you live?

Have you seen The Red Shoes? What do you think of Vicky’s situation? And what about those costumes?
Remember, if you comment, you are entered to win a gift card.

Shari Randall is the author of the Lobster Shack Mysteries from St. Martin's Press. Book One, Curses, Boiled Again, has been called "Delightful! A fun whodunit full of New England coastal charm and characters who feel like friends. Warm humor, a delectable plot, and clever sleuthing will keep you turning the pages."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Power Heels

By Cathy Perkins

Aloha from Kauai, where none of us have worn shoes this week other than swim fins! 😊

This month on the blog we're celebrating friends, fellow authors, and a fun new logo—a red stiletto high heel. We’ve considered themes from fashion, to movie tie-ins and dancing, with numerous steps in between. Scroll through the posts if you’ve missed one.

I’ve thought about heels a lot over the past few weeks while I considered what they represent to me. While many images came to mind, my first impression is the suits and high heels that were part of my professional personae for so long. A west coast transfer changed the heels requirement—telecommuting tends more to fuzzy slippers and flip-flops. The professionalism expectation, however, never wavered.

I think that professionalism is one of the things that drew me to this blog. Each member of The Stiletto Gang approaches her stories in a different way, reflecting our personality and experiences, as well as how we want to tell a story. All of us are committed to bringing the best possible experience to our readers.

Holly Price, the protagonist in my amateur sleuth series, knows her heels and suits are excessive in her hometown, but to her they represent professionalism and commitment to clients—and to her family. (She’s saving the family business.) We'll leave political discussions of powerful women for another day. Of course, part of me just loves the red high heels on the cover of So About the Money, book one in the series.

To celebrate the newest book in the series—In It For The Money—book one (So About the Money) is on sale this weekend!


So About the Money romps through eastern Washington with its rivers, wineries, Native American casinos, and assorted farm animals. Add in some wicked fun chemistry between the CPA amateur sleuth & a local detective and Holly Price better solve the case before the next dead body found beside the river is hers.

 Amazon   Nook   Kobo   iBooks   


We’re celebrating our new logo with a giveaway! Readers who comment on one of the Red Shoes blogs in September and October are entered to win either an Amazon or Starbucks $10 gift card. Join in the fun! The winner will be announced on our November Clicking Our Heels blog.

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.  Visit her at or on Facebook 

Sign up for her new release announcement newsletter in either place.

She's hard at work on
The Body in the Beaver Pond, which was recently presented with the Claymore Award. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Red Stilettos? Not with MY Feet!

By Kay Kendall

Darned good thing I’m not required to wear stilettos to be part of this magnificent gang of writers. I’m tall, two inches shy of six feet, and have no need whatsoever for sky-high heels. And to boot (hee hee) I don’t wear red shoes—or any other bright color. Nature gifted me with rather large feet (ahmm) in order to balance my height.

Nancy, my pal since kindergarten, always teases me about my foot size. I reply I'd tip over if they were small, or average, in length. That's a sensible view—all of me should be in proportion. But recently I saw actress Brooke Shields interviewed on TV when she divulged an odd factoid. Though she's six feet tall, her shoe size is a seven. She concluded, “Therefore I often fall over.” I raced to phone Nancy to tell her that my opinion had been validated. (Inquiring minds might like to know my own size rhymes with the number seven.)

Despite my flippant answer, I'm not fond of my feet. They often don’t even seem to belong to me, lurking at such a far distance from my eyes. My feet seem almost alien. This probably relates to the fact that I once had difficulty finding shoes to fit me, back when larger sizes for women were uncommon and I would end up buying ill-fitting footwear. Consequently my feet always hurt.

Style wise I also took what I could get. My shoes were never stylish and always in somber colors. In my first job after grad school, my employer was hosting a fancy dinner. One of my coworkers wanted to know what I was wearing—answer: blue—and then what color shoes I would wear. When she heard I could choose either black or brown shoes, she was stunned, insisting I had to do better than that. She set to work on me, getting me to upgrade to fancier footwear. My fascination with more interesting shoes dates from that point in time—30 years ago.

 These days the range of sizes for female feet has grown—and my feet have not, hallelujah! Now my shoes spread all over my closet and creep into my husband’s space. The colors range more widely—showing a partiality to gold and blue. Nevertheless, you still won't find a heel higher than two inches, or a pair that is red. Some things never change.

Meet the author

Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and now writes mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. A reformed PR executive who won international awards for her projects, Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff. In 2015 Rainy Day Women won two Silver Falchion Awards at Killer Nashville. Visit Kay at her website <>or on Facebook <>


Monday, September 17, 2018


by Paula Gail Benson


My dear blogging partner, Linda Rodriguez, I’m thinking of you and the lessons in courage you have taught me as I write this post.


It’s always fascinating when the universe seems to have found a common thread, sending multiple messages along the same wavelength.


Carl Jung called the idea “synchronicity.” Wikipedia explains it as “a concept . . . which holds that events are ‘meaningful coincidences’ if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.”


Take for example some recent events that happened just as, this month and next, the Stiletto Gang celebrates its new logo, featuring bright red stilettos. (Thank you, Bethany Maines!)


In August, Aretha Franklin’s body lay in state in Detroit. She had several outfit changes, but according to the New York Times, “For the first open-casket viewing, Aretha Franklin was dressed in a lacy crimson gown and towering scarlet Christian Louboutin heels, with cherry-red lipstick and nail polish to match.”

At the beginning of September, the FBI revealed that a stolen pair of ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz had been recovered through a sting operation. These were the shoes worn for “close up” shots, the “clicking your heels” sequences. (Does that remind you of a segment we feature here at the Stiletto Gang on a regular basis?)


I think it’s interesting that red (and pink, if you’re a Legally Blonde Elle Woods fan) signals and symbolizes empowerment for women. Aretha’s ankles were demurely crossed, but those red shoes made their statement. She was a lady to be reckoned with. Dorothy’s red slippers started her on her journey to self-awareness and brought her home to the knowledge that she had the power within herself.


This year, I’ve had my own experience with red as a fashion statement.


My main make-up is lipstick. Previously, I’ve stayed with more neutral and natural looks. Then, a friend of mine, the lovely Cortlin Collins, began selling LipSense products by SeneGence. She posted the bright reds on her Facebook page, Your Face First with CortlinPlease check it out if you have an interest. Cortlin’s a sweetheart.


I was intrigued by the deep garnets and how the appearance could be changed by combining colors or applying a gloss. Fly Girl was my first purchase, quickly followed by Roseberry. I remember wearing the colors for the first time at church, fearing I had perhaps been a little too bold. Three gallant gentlemen independently stopped me to compliment my appearance. The next week, my female co-workers told me they admired my new look. I was sold and haven’t looked back.


Speaking of synchronicity: as Hurricane Florence aims for the Carolinas, what is my new lipstick for this fall? Hurricane.


And, to further validate the power of red lipstick, here are a few words of wisdom from women who know:


Andie MacDowell
“During my forties, I thought I couldn’t wear red lipstick. I thought it was too much and I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t know why. But now, I’m going to wear red lipstick for as long as I want.” -- Andie MacDowell


Chloe Sevigny
“I discovered red lipstick when I did the Oscar season: Chanel sent me one and I realized how classic and glamorous it can be.” -- Chloe Sevigny


Gwyneth Paltrow
“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.” -- Gwyneth Paltrow


Taylor Swift
“You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye. And I got that red lip classic thing that you like.” -- Taylor Swift


“If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack.” -- Coco Chanel


Coco Chanel
So, let’s celebrate our new logo with a signature vermilion shade for the lips. Display your inner femme fatale!