Category Archives: Samples

“The Dragon’s Gift” – is an actual gift!

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I’m going on an adventure!  Would you like to come along?

I’ve been kind of hush-hush about my fiction over the past few years, but I’ve decided it’s time to step out into the world again and start sharing.  I’m launching a newsletter for my fiction.

My fiction newsletter will have loads of sneak peaks condensed into a four-part welcome series, including but not limited to:

  • a dragon friendship tale e-book
  • the first chapter of my folklore-inspired novel work-in-progress
  • not to mention the novel’s title (besides “sandbox project” >.>)
  • and current cover
  • and what folklore inspired it
  • and probably an exclusive folktale retelling….

Yikes, that’s a lot of insider info.  I’m actually kind of daunted to share, but I think it’s time.  And what better way for you to get to know what I’m like as a writer?

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Sign up for my fiction newsletter and get a copy of “The Dragon’s Gift” e-book.

 

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Gods, Witches, Space & Stars (+bonus short story)

Back in 2011 when I started this blog, I named it “Gods, Witches, Space & Stars” as an encapsulating summary of the type of stories I was working on at the time: switching back and forth between what I called my “Gods & Witches” secondary fantasy world and some science fiction.

I first created my “Gods & Witches” world in 2009 for Brandon Sanderson’s SF&F writing class.  As part of that class, we were to begin a whole new writing project rather than continue working on any pet projects.  So, I began a Rapunzel-inspired story set in a secondary world of–you guessed it–gods and witches, where “gods” had creation magic and “witches” had destruction magic.  The repercussions for using their magic were inspiring awe, reverence, and a compulsion to worship or follow (gods) or inspiring intense fear and hatred in anyone in the vicinity to the point of their wanting to kill you (witches).  There’s a bit more to it than that, but my idea was to take folkloric trends and human tendencies and press down on them, exaggerate them, or make them a bit more concrete and a bit less abstract.

I ended up writing something like 76k of the first book of my planned duology (The Witch’s Tower (Rapunzel retelling) / God’s Arrows (Cupid & Psyche retelling))  before running into several problems I was unequipped to solve at the time.

One, The Witch’s Tower was far bleaker and more tragic a story than I actually wanted to write.  And although I retooled the ending and overall arc several times to make it lighter or more hopeful, I kept running into the fact that although I mentally wanted to write something more uplifting, I emotionally couldn’t.  Frankly, I was carrying too much emotional baggage from my own life that I needed to confront, work through, and heal in order to be able to write anything else.  Writers write from our hearts and our subconscious as well as our minds, after all.

Two, even though I’d been writing collaboratively with friends for over a decade by this point, I had comparatively little experience crafting plots solo.  The 76k I’d written barely scratched the surface of the story I wanted to tell, and I was frustrated by its lack of substance.  I wasn’t sure at the time if this was due to my intense love of long-story formats or if I simply didn’t know what I was doing.  I suspected it was more the latter, (although frankly it’s probably both).

It was really hard for me to reach the decision to set the world and these stories aside, however I don’t regret it.  I spent the next several years experimenting with and learning from short fiction, from 1k one-offs to my 44k novella.  I won’t say that I’m a master of plotting now, but I’m increasing my ability to tell if my pace is a plot problem that needs solving or if I simply need to go ahead and indulge my love of wandering through character and worlds.

Then in 2014, my friends at World Weaver Press did a #SFFLunch Twitter chat on my birthday and I jokingly suggested they create a dragon anthology for me.  Aaaand they agreed! Haha, I’m still highly entertained and pleased by this.

After looking at the worlds and stories I had to hand to see where I might craft a dragon story to submit, I eyed my Gods & Witches world and characters and realized that allowing the mentor-figure of The Witch’s Tower to encounter a dragon in her backstory would set her on a much less lonely, wearying, tragic path.  It would also unravel a good deal of the resulting situation and plot I’d written out in that 76k, and sort of create a “what if something else had happened” alternate direction.

In other words, if I wrote a dragon-and-girl friendship romance story with this character in this world, I could not only practice my plotting, but I’d create much more light and hope and a greater potential for happiness within my own inner worlds.  It felt like a much more suitable way to say goodbye.

I took up the challenge; I wrote the story.  I saved it a couple years to submit to the anthology, but unfortunately due to a few things the anthology never got off the ground.

However, I’ve also sought help and feedback on the story sporadically over the years, and I’ve learned a lot from my experiences revising. From cutting a scene on one reader’s feedback, to putting it back in with a different approach on the very next reader’s feedback, revising this story has given me a lot to think about concerning what’s right or wrong in regards to storytelling and the relationship between a writer’s intent and readers’ expectations.  Especially since, in my quest to write a lighter story (despite the protagonist’s difficult past), I originally undercut the protagonist’s emotional arc and made her a bit colorless and the ending weak or difficult to understand.  I’ve definitely grappled a lot with the balance of dark and light in this story.  We will see what impact my revisions have made.

Now it’s time to share it with the world and move on to the next big adventure: another world, another novel that’s now well over 100k and pleasing me much more.

I should probably change the name of my blog to something more suitable to what I’m writing currently, but first, my announcement!

I’m giving away this story, “The Dragon’s Gift, Once Given” for free to start off my new fiction-writing and releases newsletter.  The story clocks in at roughly 12k, right between short and long, haha.  I’m still happy with how I wrote their relationship.  A dragon with a sense of humor? Check!

Enjoy! 🙂

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Click to sign up for my fiction newsletter and receive a copy of “The Dragon’s Gift.”


Behind the scenes: What She Saw By Lantern Light

I’ve been a fan of both Enchanted Conversation and World Weaver Press for years.  So when I saw the announcement that Kate Wolford would be heading up a joint anthology of original or lesser-known fairy tales set in winter, I decided I would write towards her prompt.  I never actually expected that she would like it, though I did try to hit both her theme and word count goals as a sort of experiment for myself.

What follows is a spoiler-free behind-the-scenes glimpse into the story, why it turned out the way it did, for those who like to read such things.

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When I sat down to write the story in April (2015), my grandmother, for whom I’d been the primary caretaker the first six months or so of her brain cancer, had just recently passed away.  My own health, since I had my own chronic illness to contend with, had been thoroughly shot to pieces, but as part of my recovery I’d decided to return to writing again little by little.

I also had no workable computer at the time and so the idea was that I’d trial out writing a couple short stories on my 7″ tablet paired with a new bluetooth keyboard before delving into anything longer.  This set-up created the interesting effect of only being able to see a few lines of story at a time.

If the tale is packed full of details, it’s because if I didn’t write them, they would not exist.  Whatever ended up “on paper” became the story in my head, not the other way around.

In the bleak midwinter…

The opening line of the Frozen Fairy Tales prompt also happened to be the title of one of my favorite carols.  I’ve included the version that has meant the most to me over the years, trekking with me through the snowfalls and dark nights of my time living in Armenia, and soothing my grandmother’s anxiety as we sat together in her living room in our last month together.  I tried to capture the essence of the song in my story, both consciously and unconsciously.

“And a woman as had her wits about her.”

The Secret of Roan Inish is perhaps my favorite folktale movie of all time.  I watched it religiously when I was younger, to my sister’s bemusement.  If I was going to write a own folktale retelling, I had to pay homage to it in some way, if only in a turn of phrase.  Everyone with Netflix should check it out.

‘Not old like me. I mean old. Old like darkness and stars,’ she said to the flames.

Terry Pratchett’s Thief of Time has been my “bedtime story” audiobook of choice in recent years.  It never fails to sooth my own anxiety and help me conquer my insomnia (a frequent, pesky demon since my chronic illness struck).  One of my favorite scenes is when Nanny Ogg tells Susan, granddaughter of Death, her own hearth-tale about the lady Time giving birth to a mostly-mortal boy.  In honor of Terry Pratchett’s passing and in thanks for all the comfort and relief, I paid tribute to this scene by giving my favorite line a cameo.

Christkindelsmärik

(Photographer Claude TRUONG-NGOC, Wikimedia Commons)

(Photographer Claude TRUONG-NGOC, Wikimedia Commons)

The original Alsatian folktale I based my retelling on starts off with a newly-wed young woman setting off on her first, midnight trip from Rosheim to sell goods at the market in Strasbourg.  Making the switch to Strasbourg’s world-famous, centuries-old Christmas Market seemed like a perfect change to make, given the winter theme.

Sunday’s child…

The concept of a child born on Sunday being able to see into and participate in the world of spirits and faeries I borrowed from a different Alsatian folktale, which I translated from an oral telling under the title “The Faerie’s Gift of Tears.”

My own family lore…

I grew up with stories about my ancestors, including how one Swedish ancestor of mine (a young woman) would regularly walk for long hours of the night to “commute” between where she worked and where her family lived.  And there was this one time where she thought she saw something frightening in the dark…. I won’t tell you what it was or what it turned out to be, but the imagery has stayed with me.  My grandmother also told me a couple tales of her family members encountering friendly ghosts.  So, there’s that.

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“What She Saw By Lantern Light”

Our first snowfall ironically marks the occasion.  My short story “What She Saw By Lantern Light” can now be found in the anthology Frozen Fairy Tales.

Winter is not coming. Winter is here. As unique and beautifully formed as a snowflake, each of these fifteen stories spins a brand new tale or offers a fresh take on an old favorite like Jack Frost, The Snow Queen, or The Frog King. From a drafty castle to a blustery Japanese village, from a snow-packed road to the cozy hearth of a farmhouse, from an empty coffee house in Buffalo, New York, to a cold night outside a university library, these stories fully explore the perils and possibilities of the snow, wind, ice, and bone-chilling cold that traditional fairy tale characters seldom encounter.

In the bleak midwinter, heed the irresistible call of fairy tales. Just open these pages, snuggle down, and wait for an icy blast of fantasy to carry you away. With all new stories of love, adventure, sorrow, and triumph by Tina Anton, Amanda Bergloff, Gavin Bradley, L.A. Christensen, Steven Grimm, Christina Ruth Johnson, Rowan Lindstrom, Alison McBain, Aimee Ogden, J. Patrick Pazdziora, Lissa Marie Redmond, Anna Salonen, Lissa Sloan, Charity Tahmaseb, and David Turnbull to help you dream through the cold days and nights of this most dreaded season.

Table of Contents:

Introduction by Kate Wolford
The Stolen Heart by Christina Ruth Johnson
Faithful Henry by Steven Grimm
The Ice Fisher by J. Patrick Pazdziora
Buffalo Wings by Lissa Marie Redmond
Cold Bites by Tina Anton
Death in Winter by Lissa Sloan
Simon the Cold by Charity Tahmaseb
The Light of the Moon, the Strength of the Storm, the Warmth of the Sun by Aimee Ogden
A Heart of Winter by Anna Salonen
Happily Ever After by Amanda Bergloff
The Heart of Yuki-Onna by Alison McBain
The Wolf Queen by Rowan Lindstrom
What She Saw by Lantern Light by L.A. Christensen
The Shard of Glass by David Turnbull
How Jack Frost Stole Winter by Gavin Bradley

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Story accepted!

Happy All Saints’ Day!

My Alsatian folktale retelling “What She Saw By Lantern Light” will be published in Enchanted Conversation‘s and World Weaver Press‘ joint winter anthology, Frozen Fairy Tales.  You can find out more information, including the announced table of contents, here. You can find Frozen Fairy Tales on Goodreads, here.

I’ll post more once the anthology’s released. 🙂

Until then, I put my Bibliography back up, fully fleshed-out.  I took it down a couple years ago because it was depressingly empty and I felt having it up was rather pointless (and discouraging).  But now it is much fuller! And there is a point to having one! Woot woot.

 

 


Persinette Wide Release

It took me longer than I was expecting to put together this wide release.  First came life things, then came a bug in the ePub, then came various hitches with several different retailers.  However, it’s all come together and Persinette is now available at a variety of e-book retailers.

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A hundred years before Rapunzel, there was Persinette. Before the Old Witch ever locked Rapunzel in a tower, a Fairy set out to change Persinette’s destiny.

Read the French fairy tale that inspired the Grimm Brothers’ “Rapunzel,” learn about the authoress Mlle de La Force, and discover answers to questions such as why Persinette’s father traded her for a fistful of parsley and how she survived for years alone in her wilderness.

Includes translations of the French tale “Persinette” (1698), the Italian tale “Petrosinella” (1634), and the German tale “Rapunzel” (1812-57), along with background information on each of the tales and their authors.

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Retailers:

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Buy direct:

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Add to Goodreads or write a review

Librarians: Purchase Persinette for your library catalog with Overdrive or EbooksAreForever


Call and Response poem

I’m going to be collecting a few things I’ve done elsewhere, here, to make up for the lack of interesting things lately on the blog while I work on writing and translating.  The first is a poem-response sent to a folklore aficionado acquaintance.  Check out his tumblr for lots of cool faerie-lore.


Persinette on Patreon

Persinette is available as an exclusive early release for all Patreon backers for the month of March.

Description:

A hundred years before Rapunzel, there was Persinette. Before the Old Witch ever locked Rapunzel in a tower, a Fairy set out to change Persinette’s destiny.

Read the French fairy tale that inspired the Grimm Brothers’ “Rapunzel,” learn about the authoress Mlle de La Force, and discover answers to questions such as why Persinette’s father traded her for a fistful of parsley and how she survived for years alone in her wilderness.

Includes translations of the French tale “Persinette” (1698), the Italian tale “Petrosinella” (1634), and the German tale “Rapunzel” (1812-57), along with background information on each of the tales and their authors.

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Patreon is also the only place you will be able to get the e-book with this version of the cover.

I was going to say more, but a lot of important and exhausting life-things happened in March, so this is what I’ve got.  Thought I would go ahead and post this now while it’s still March….


fairy tale & folktale translations

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, you’ll already know that I’ve launched a website for my fairy tale and folktale translations.  But we’re approaching the end of the year and I thought I would post an official announcement here.

I’ve had the website URL reserved for years, but only since July of this year have I started building it up, in preparation for an imminent e-book launch.  But that is news for another day.

My folktale translations are the only thing I’m writing at the moment, since I only have the time/energy to write a few sentences at a time every few days, but it’s working well enough to be able to post a translation per month.

For those interested, visit littletranslator.com


50k vs. 140 characters

I find it funny that I won the Halloween twitter-fiction contest, considering I found out I won in November while toiling away at trying to write 50k (whereas in October I was gleefully experimenting at paring down story-glimpses to 140 characters).

Here’s my winning tweet.  If you’re curious, I chose The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo as my spooky-book prize.  It also doubles as part of the curriculum for the historical fiction course I’m taking via coursera.


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