Covers!

This past December, I started experimenting with various graphic design platforms, just to see what I could do. One Saturday morning, I logged into Canva and had fun making covers for my prequel stories, “Coming Home,” “With Sword in Hand,” and Fealty. A couple weeks later, I realized I could probably make a cover for “What She Saw by Lantern Light,” as well.

Today, I quickly put together a cover for a collection of all my folktale translations to-date, and also adjusted my previously-made covers to include their series title, The Crown of Seasons.

I am not pretentious enough to claim to be a fantastic graphic designer right off the bat. I definitely know these look nowhere near professional standards. However, it feels so good to give these stories some art to represent them.

I hope you enjoy a glimpse at these covers, as well!

You can find the Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of the fiction stories on my Patreon. The folklore collection will be put together at a later date.


2020 in review

Tonight is the last night of 2020, and oh what a year it’s been. For me it’s the year that, back when I was fourteen, all my collaborative stories of the future were set.

I bet you didn’t expect me to say that, did you?

In real life, we have had a flu pandemic disrupt the world. We’ve watched toilet paper and food supplies disappear off shelves. There have been fires, hurricanes, and drought. We’ve had stay-at-home orders. Work places have shut down or pared down. Masks have become fashionable necessities. Virtual programming is de rigeur. In the USA, we’ve had protests, riots, and a major election.

Everyone we know has been affected, one way or another.

The 2020 I grew up with was completely different, yet in some ways eerily similar. It was a world of magic mixing with the mundane, of children being put in cages because they were Other, of giant sandworms, and abandoned diners, and learning to rely on each other.

In both versions of 2020, imagined worlds have been my refuge and my joy.

And strangely enough, I feel as if the 2020 we created as kids prepared me for the 2020 of today. The adventures, the hardships, the fear, the overcoming.

Normally, this is the part of the post where I’d list out my accomplishments, but although 2020 was a year of milestones for me, I feel like the greatest part of my journey has been internal, and I’m still in the making. Here’s to a wonderful 2021.


December 13th, Light in the Dark

I have an uncomfortable relationship with traditions. I grew up as a child in one country, but I grew up as an adult in a couple others. Coming “home” again to the culture of my birth left me feeling at-sea. I wanted to feel comfortable in my own new skin, but I was surrounded by people insistent on one way to celebrate; one way to live and be. And if I dared to live or think differently, it caused defensiveness, anger, threats, and even abuse from others who treated my differences as a negative reflection on themselves.

Yet for some reason, traditions won’t leave me alone. There’s just something bone-deep about them. I may have shed a desire to celebrate Independence Day or Thanksgiving, but every year I celebrate Armenia’s Old New Year on January 13th. I may not be of Asian-descent, and yet somehow I keep coming back to the Mid-Autumn Festival. I mark time by the solstices, and for years now I’ve made sure to have folkloric gifts to give my followers.

And every year, on December 13th, I turn to my albeit distant Swedish heritage and quietly celebrate the light in the darkness.


Prequel Short Stories

The Crown of Seasons series is underway!

A tie-in short story was published in the Frozen Fairy Tales anthology.

The ARCs of both prequel short stories are now up on Patreon.

I finished the full rough draft of an extra prequel novel.

Now it’s time to overhaul my draft of One True Lie. I have a blank white wall and several pads of sticky notes. I’m ready!


Prequel novel rough draft, complete!

Draft started: May 8, 2019

Draft finished: May 6, 2020 (irony not intentional)

Word count: 70,776

Passes: Two passes on all but last chapter and epilogue, 3 (or more) passes on chapter 5. -.-

Mostly written in: May 2019 (30k, lots of uninterrupted time out in the boonies), November 2019 (retype/fix pass), January 2020 (finished retype in prep for forward progress), April 2020 (covid-19 shut-downs).

Working titles: “Aromantic Masquerade story” aka “aro masq,” or The Prince’s Masquerade.

Tentative “final” title: Fealty.

References to the story on social media:

 

 


House-warming gifts :)

I have some really good news!  Today is the day I move in to a new apartment.

This year has been extremely surreal. Aside from the pandemic which is surreality in itself, (yes, that’s now a word), this year so far I have

  • healed enough to accept a full-time work position
  • been hired full-time as a librarian’s minion
  • found a one-bedroom apartment and am finally moving out of living in other people’s homes

I have been disabled for ten years. I’ve been living in other people’s homes–either with relatives or via pet/housesitting–for all of that time.  But today is the day that changes. I am so excited.

To celebrate, I am giving away a free party-favor. Fairer will be free through this Friday.

Since I can’t actually hold a house-warming party, please enjoy a lovely reading session curled up in your favorite reading spot, sipping your favorite beverage.

If you would like to give a house-warming gift in return, I would love it.  After unwrapping gifts, we could sit at my low table on pillows and play card games and enjoy whimsical conversations full of folklore and our favorite books and writers.  What are you reading now? Have you watched The Mandalorian?

I’ll admit, the first two proper pieces of furniture I bought for my new apartment are a writing desk and chair. I can’t wait to assemble them and start using them! It will be great to have a workspace all my own again. 🙂

See you around!

-Laura


2019 in review

In 2019,

 

This year’s new release:

Fairer_smaller2


“The Wondrous Scarab,” an Alsatian folktale

Strangely enough, I’ve encountered many Alsatian folktales about scarab beetles. I say strange, because when I think of scarab beetles I immediately picture Ancient Egypt, but here we are instead in the liminal forests between France and Germany, encountering many forms of wondrous scarabs1. This particular folktale is pulled from the collection Révue des traditions populaires. 1901.


A foreign knight left the monastery of Murbach one day, garbed in the robes of pilgrimage. He passed through the valley and, in order to expiate his sins, went in search of other prayers.

He arrived on the hill where later the village of Bühl would be built, and weary from his journey on foot, reclined beneath a linden tree to rest. He fell asleep, and when he awoke near evening, he perceived an exquisite fragrance. The scent was emanating from an unknown species of scarab clinging to the stem of a flower. Examining it more closely, he discovered that the insect bore, beneath its closed fore-wings, the image of a black cross.

He saw it as a sign from heaven2 and swore an oath to construct a little chapel on this very spot. He kept his word and erected the church of Bühl3 surrounded by a cemetery, from where one can behold the whole valley and the plain up to the Rhine and the Black Forest.


1. One of the first Alsatian scarab folktales I encountered featured golden scarabs, or scarab beetles turning into living gold. Such a wondrous image was entirely folkloric, I thought, until I saw this tweet showing off the species chrysina resplendens found in Costa Rica.

2. I really enjoy tales where the pattern of religious–in this case Catholic–legends intersects with faerie and folkloric themes. For example, a righteous man encounters a sign then builds a church on that very location is a fairly common story behind many churches scattered throughout Europe. A traveler encountering a wondrous creature that asks him for something or that changes his perspective is just as common in faerie folklore. And so here we have the tale of “traveler encounters wondrous scarab” intersecting with “man searching for greater holiness finds what he seeks.” It’s like an early “cross-genre” tale.

3. According to wikipedia and Bühl’s own website, the medieval town’s earliest church was actually built starting in 1514. That century to me doesn’t invoke the image of a knight on pilgrimage and feels a couple hundred years too late. Is this an instance of a 19th Century tale mistaking the dates of a historic location? That has certainly happened before. Or is this seeming discrepancy due to Alsatians not knowing as much about the German town of Bühl as they thought? (Strasbourg and Bühl share a historic connection through a feud in the 14th Century).


 

If you’ve enjoyed this series of folklore translations and would like to support my further translation endeavors, please feel free to support my work on Patreon.


“The Astronomical Clock of Strasbourg Cathedral”

I translated this particular version of the tale from Récits historiques et légendaires d’Alsace, collected by Robert Wolf. 1922.


For a long time the Strasbourg Cathedral clock remained unfinished. The master who had invented it had died without finding anyone capable of finishing his work.

At last a foreign master craftsman who promised he could finish the work arrived in Strasbourg. He completed the masterpiece, far surpassing all hope for it. One day, at noon, he presented the moving clock to the astonished gathering of people. The bells tolled and Death indicated the hours. The apostles passed before the Savior, bowing before him. The two lions that held the city’s coat of arms began to roar. It was a festive and joyful day for all the city.1

With the work completed, the young artist desired to take his leave, but the council of the city’s municipal officers did not consent. They feared the artist would create a similar masterpiece in another city, and they desired to be the only ones to possess such a marvel. Therefore, they had the artist’s eyes blotted out.

But soon the city was punished for this cruelty. The blind artist became weaker and sicker from day to day, and the clock itself no longer worked with precision. When the master died, it stopped entirely. (1) Later, another artist, Schwilgué, succeeded in restarting the clock in 1842.

~

(1) In truth, the clock built under the direction of Dasypodius, a strasbourgeois mathematician, and that of the brothers Isaac and Josias Habrecht of Schaffhouse, stopped working in 1789.2


1. If you would like to see the astronomical clock’s various parts and figures, this page has a great collection of photos of the current version of the clock

2. The famous astronomical clock of the Strasbourg Notre Dame Cathedral has been built several times throughout history. The first clock was built of wood in the 1350s. The second, started in 1547 by the mathematicians Chretien Herlin, Michel Heer, and Nicolas Briiker, was interrupted by the death of Herlin and not finished until 1574 by Dasypodius and the Habrecht brothers Isaac and Josias. While work on the clock was still in progress, Josias was called away by the officials of Cologne to build the clock of Kaiserswerth castle. He was also unable to return, due to the illness and subsequent blindness of his sister. Grandidier proposes that this is one of the keys to the creation of the legend surrounding the clock.

Once again the clock stopped working, this time in 1789 in the midst of the French Revolution, a time of great turmoil for the city. Although the young Schwilgué was but a boy of twelve at the time, he determined to be the one to bring the clock back to life. He grew up to make his dream come true, finishing a complete overhaul of the clock and its figures in 1842.

The Astronomical Clock of Strasbourg Cathedral was once counted as “one of the seven marvels of Germany.” Over the centuries, it has collected quite a number of legends, including the assertion that its creator was none other than Copernicus himself. Most of the legends surrounding it, however, deal with ablind mathematician. Either the mathematician becomes old and blind, thereby unable to express to others the true workings of the clock; the clock itself refuses to be touched by any other hand but its master’s; the city municipal council blinds him and the city is cursed by a clock that refuses to work for cruel masters; or else the blind mathematician takes revenge on those who destroyed his eyes by asking to visit his clock one last time, and, plunging his hand into its gears, withdraws a critical piece.


 

If you’ve enjoyed this series of folklore translations and would like to support my future translation endeavors, please feel free to support my work on Patreon.


“The Enchanted Armies of Ochsenfeld,” an Alsatian folktale

(Originally posted February 2018)

I translated this particular version of the tale from Récits historiques et légendaires d’Alsace, collected by Robert Wolf. 1922.


Not far from Cernay lies a great, desolate plain called the Ochsenfeld1 cattlefield. There, come evening, a faint clatter of weapons can often be heard. It is here that the armies of the infamous sons of Louis the Debonair who betrayed their father on this land in 8332are enchanted and imprisoned in immense subterranean caverns. Travelers out too late must often submit, until they reach the lands of Cernay and of Thann, to the worrisome company of warriors outfitted in a heavy cuirass.

One day, as a countryman was passing by the field, a warrior suddenly emerged from the earth and announced the era when he and his comrades would be delivered from the spell pronounced against them. Then, just as suddenly, he disappeared. In the Middle Ages, the entire army was also sometimes seen passing through the air, especially during a full moon3.


1. German for “cattlefield” due to its purpose back in the Middle Ages, Ochsenfeld has persisted as the name of the plain between Thann and Mulhouse. It’s a place rich with history and old battles.

2. Here comes a brief history lesson. Once upon a time, an Emperor named Louis the Debonaire, or Louis the Pious, had three grown sons–Lothaire, Pepin, and Louis–and laws of inheritance already spelled out. Then he remarried and had a fourth son, Charles, and was so taken with him, he decided to give him an inheritance of his own, including Alemannia, of which Alsace was a part. Now, this Emperor’s eldest son, Lothaire, did not like the idea of inheriting less, and so he went to war against his father, persuading his brothers to join him.
The Field of Lies, also called the Field of Blood, was the legendary location (now disputed) where the Emperor’s own army and other allies, one by one, were persuaded to give him up to his sons and their armies. In other words, there was a lot of betrayal going on. Sons against their father, armies against their emperor, the pope against his ally, and so on and so forth.

3. I find this tale similar to tales of the Wild Hunt, in which an army of the ghostly dead rises to ride during thunderstorms or during the full moon, led by Odin or Wodan or another powerful figure.
This tale also reminds me of a less kind version of the tale of King Arthur and his sleeping armies, waiting to rise in a time of need as Britain’s “once and future king.”
Another version of this tale of the sleeping warriors at Ochsenfeld says that the warriors asleep beneath the plain did not belong to Lothaire and the other traitorous sons of the emperor but to Charles, the last-born and promised king of this region. In that version, warriors who die are said to join the sleeping army, waiting to rise again not from a curse of shame or guilt, but as an honor for those good men who die in battle. These are called the Ochsenfeldritter in German, and the knights of the Ochsenfeld, in French.


 

If you’ve enjoyed this series of folklore translations and would like to support my future translation endeavors, please feel free to support my work on Patreon.