Tag Archives: folklore

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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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.

Persinette_2

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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iBooks

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Buy direct:

Payhip

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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.


Promoting Fairytale Non-fiction

Persinette_2Here are some of the things I have learned in the past three months about selling short (46 page) e-books and folklore/fairy-tale translations & non-fiction.  You have to admit, it’s a slightly different story than trying to promote or sell a novel. In no particular order:

1. Being in the Amazon Top 100 in the Folklore & Fairy Tale categories isn’t enough to sell books, especially when you have no reviews. I figured this out when I was hand-selling copies of my book, before I made its existence public knowledge. These categories are just too small, and not browsed often enough.

However, the same isn’t true for being in the Top 100 in the corresponding free categories. Those do get drive-by “sales.”

2. Here are the three paid promotional sites that produced a spike in sales even though my e-book wasn’t a novel:

3. The Indie View was the only effective way of getting an early review from strangers out of every other method I tried, and it’s free. I searched the first 150 or so of their listed reviewers, looking for everyone who liked fantasy, Christian fiction*, non-fiction, and short stories. I applied to 5 reviewers who listed some combination of these. Of the 5, one responded that they were full up and would have to pass. Then another responded enthusiastically–and bumped Persinette up first in line, ultimately giving it its first 5-star review. 🙂

4. Getting a 5-star review as its first Amazon review has done more to sell the e-book than anything else. This is self-explanatory, and is most likely true for any kind of book, be it novel or non-fiction.

5.  Goodreads is hands-down the best way Persinette has been discovered by strangers, especially once listed on Listopia lists for its various categories.  If you haven’t listed your standalone or first-in-series book anywhere on Listopia, do so. Even just a single-vote by its author is enough to help readers find your book. You don’t need to go extort votes from anyone in order for Listopia to be an effective promotional tool. 😉

6. KDP Select results: I matched my genre pulse ad up with a 5-day free promotional period that started not long after I got my first 5-star review. I was very pleased with the results, though the genre pulse ad was only effective the first 2 days of the promotional period.

If I could do it again, I would split the 5 days of free promotion into a 3-day period and a 2-day period and promote each one.  Experiments, experiments.

Otherwise, the vast majority of my sales have come from the Amazon US store. Only now am I starting to get sales trickling in at the Amazon UK and Amazon CA stores. This is probably due to the fact that the 5-star review is now cross-posted to the other stores due to the fact that someone voted for it as being “helpful”.

7.  Kindle Unlimited results: Persinette has gotten very few borrows in comparison to sales. However, because the e-book is listed for sale at $.99, the royalties from the borrows should pretty much equal the royalties from the sales. I will know for certain when I get the full report.

8. Patreon is still my most dependable fairytale/folklore income stream. I find it ironic that the translations I post for free on my website do more to help support my hobbies than the rather more expensive-to-produce e-book. Still, I wouldn’t change my decision to publish Persinette.

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* – Persinette isn’t actually Christian fiction, but I delve into the French Wars of Religion of the 16th century and their reversal during the 17th century in order to make a few points about Mlle de La Force’s life and bibliography, and so I wanted to be absolutely certain the reviewer wouldn’t be turned off.


Amazon release: Persinette

Now on Amazon (International link)

Persinette_2

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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I first began working on my translation of “Persinette” by Mlle de La Force in Spring 2013.  The first third ended up being my translation project for Lisa Carter’s online translation course “Defining Writing Style.” After the class ended, I finished translating the last two thirds of the tale, I ran the whole thing by a lot of other pairs of eyes, I produced multiple drafts, and then I began work on the supplementary materials. I had a working first draft of my e-book put together to show my editor Kristy by April 2014, and she led me through the next two drafts rearranging and expanding the material.  I handed in my final draft at the end of August 2014, but then life hit us both in the guts until the beginning of this year.

So here I am, two years after I started. It’s been quite a journey, and a lot has changed since I began, both in my life and in my writing, translation, and research experience. I’m excited to begin all over again with my next fairy tale e-book. 🙂

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Cover designer: Niki Smith

Editor/Formatter (for all but the public domain translations): Kristy Stewart

For more information, see my translation website: www.littletranslator.com

Purchase on Amazon.


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….


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