WIP updates!

So first off, let me apologize for the state of the site over the last week and a half. We got hacked, and everything went merrily into a handbasket. Things should be all fine and safe again. I’ll catch up with the writing in Ireland posts and things shortly, I hope.

#WIPjoy daily listOn a brighter note, I’m playing along this month with the #‎WIPjoy ‬collective sharing project, authors sharing about their work in progress. I’m trying to post most days about some part of one work in progress — in particular, The Lamp and the Lie. (That’s a working title, very subject to change — as it’s already the second working title….) Continue reading

Ireland Is For Writers #3: Ashford Castle & Cong

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Writing in Ireland
stone wolfhound chained at the front door

wolfhound chained at front door

We went on to Ashford Castle, which you’ve probably seen without knowing it. Ashford was founded in 1228 as the principle stronghold for the de Burgo family, and throughout the centuries the new owners (Bingham, Browne, Guinness) extended in contemporary style. In 1939 it was purchased and converted to a classy hotel. How classy, you ask? Well, there’s a heliport beside the front drive, and the rooms are the kind that start at about $350 US per night and continue to the range where you have to have your people call for a quote. It’s a favorite site for society and celebrity weddings, as well as for television and film locations (I hear Reign is shot there now). Continue reading

Halloween Candy & Risk

English: A PayDay candy bar, broken in half. C...

But where is the razor blade?!  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So in Orphan Heirs & Shades of Night, Robin reflects upon the real and imagined dangers of Halloween, including the popular fear of tainted candy. However, Robin says, the risks are actually quite low, as there has never been a confirmed case of Halloween candy poisoning.

Every year, parents are lashed into a panic by hyberbolic warnings of trick or treating dangers. Alternative candy-grab events are promoted, at shopping malls or store parking lots. (I’m really not sure how accepting candy from a stranger at a shopping mall is significantly safer than accepting candy from a neighbor on your street, but whatever makes you happy.) But the risks are somewhat overstated. Let’s look back on this last Halloween and see how we did. Continue reading

Orphan Heirs & Shades of Night – a new Robin Archer tale

Circles & Crossroads Mini SetThis isn’t a real release.

Not really. It’s not a big splashy thing and it’s not a full collection of stories. It’s a novella, the next tale about Robin Archer. I’d like to do a whole series of short stories and novellas about Robin, a whole Circles & Crossroads series, and then release them in one set, but that’s not ready yet. But in the meantime, I’d like to share a new one with you, just because people have liked Robin so.

It’s a Halloween tale and takes place in Irvington, an Indianapolis neighborhood boasting the oldest and largest Halloween festival in the country. (I’ll be doing posting about some of the local scene soon.) When children begin to disappear from the festival, Robin and Jimmy offer to help search, and Robin recognizes a crime out of time.

Books traditionally release on Tuesday. But because this isn’t a real release, just a story for Robin fans, it hits virtual shelves on Friday, halfway around the week from Tuesday. That seems an appropriately Fae-like way to do it. Continue reading

Fox! Origami Kitsune

Multi-talented reader Emilia sent me this photo of an origami kitsune she folded. (Folded? Created? What’s the right verb there?) The original origami design is by Hideo Komatsu.

kitsune origami sitting on cover of KITSUNT-TSUKI

Emilia lamented that she could not find any designs with multiple tails. But if you recall, Tsurugu folded an origami fox with just one tail, so I think that makes this “authentic to the scene” or something.

Thanks for sharing this, Emilia!

Art of the Ukiyo, the Floating World

This entry is part 5 of 16 in the series GDB & Route 66

Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms, and the maple leaves; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating… refusing to be disheartened, like a guard floating along with the river current: this is what we call the floating world. Asai Ryoi, Tales of the Floating World, approx. 1666

Once “the floating world” referred to the Buddhist concept of detachment, but by the 17th century it had come to mean a hedonistic approach to life’s pleasures.

“In the Buddhist context, ‘ukiyo’ was written with characters that meant ‘suffering world,’ which is the concept that desire leads to suffering and that’s the root of all the problems in the world,” according to Laura W. Allen, the Asian Art Museum‘s curator of Japanese art. “In the 17th century, that term was turned on its head and the term ‘ukiyo’ was written with new characters to mean ‘floating world.’ The concept of the floating world was ignoring the problems that might have existed in a very strictly regulated society and abandoning yourself, bobbing along on the current of pleasure.” A creative boom developed in the “pleasure district” of the yoshiwara in Edo (today Tokyo), amid the tea houses and the theaters and the brothels.

looking up at the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge

It is an impressive bridge.

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco has a special exhibit on ukiyo-e, images of the floating world, so after a brisk walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, just to say I did, I made a visit. And I took pictures.

Continue reading

Hiking the Redwoods

This entry is part 4 of 16 in the series GDB & Route 66

In an attempt to distract myself after returning Mindy, I used the next day to go over training homework and then I took myself hiking. And I made sure to find some sequoias, because we don’t have those at home.

two tiny lumberjacks beside enormous chestnut trees

the American Chestnut tree was typically enormous and grand

We used to have amazing trees in the Midwest, too. Accounts remain of nuts lying too thickly to reach through to the ground, and we have photos of trees with diameters of 12 and 15 feet. But we logged many of them before the lumbermen ever got to California. (The rest died when we imported non-native species, releasing the disastrous chestnut blight.)

Laura in hat before redwood bark, in selfie mode

My arm is just not long enough for a selfie with a redwood.

Midwestern conditions allowed our trees to reach incredible size in just a couple hundred years. The redwoods are much longer lived, though, a full four digits of years, which demands another level of respect. Continue reading

Catch Me in Chicago! Guesting at Anime World Expo

Anime World Expo in ChicagoSo today’s just a brief announcement: I’ll be the Author Guest at Anime World Expo in Chicago, August 2015.

AWX is a small but mighty con with an emphasis on Japanese culture, not just anime and manga fandom (although there’s certainly that too). Previous editions have included seminars and hands-on workshops on Noh theater, martial arts, and Japanese dance, so I’m very excited to be able to speak on traditional folklore.

I’ll also be speaking on general writing and the publishing industry, and then be sure to catch my reading of antique translations of classic Japanese fairy tales. It’ll be fun!