Embroidered Worlds Release Day!!!

Today is the official release day for Embroidered Worlds: Fantastic Fiction from Ukraine and the Diaspora!!!

A desperate trek through the icy canyons of Mars, a doll-sized family with giant-sized opinions, a defiant princess whose fate must remain a secret… Welcome to the wild, colorful, and ever-blossoming landscapes of the Ukrainian imagination. Embroidered Worlds presents a bold glimpse into fantastic storytelling throughout Ukrainian culture, from science fiction, fantasy, and horror to slipstream, fairy tales, and more.

This collection gathers 30 short stories from writers living in wartime Ukraine, their work translated into English for the very first time, as well as from international authors of Ukrainian heritage. Come, now, and experience the magic, the terror, and the wonder-filled surprises of the worlds they’ve brought to life.

It’s a beautiful book, put together by a team of talented and dedicated people. I’m so excited that it’s out in the world, and soon physical copies will be in the hands of readers. Thank you to our publisher, Atthis Arts, for making this all possible.

As soon as the Kickstarter campaign successfully funded, the translators, publishers, and editorial team hit the ground running to get Embroidered Worlds ready for print to meet our deadlinelong days and nights spent communicating over time zones, hundreds of emails, dozens of messages, so many drafts, each one improving upon the previous version. We did it! This creative community came together to verify words, edit content, fine-tune intention, and review all the many details.

AND as we were doing that, Ukrainian pysanka artist Anna Chychula was at work crafting this beautiful, one-of-a-kind fantastic Embroidered Worlds pysanka!

I love seeing the energy of this project manifest in this beautiful pysanka. You can read more in Anna’s Embroidered Worlds Kickstarter guest post here.

AND here’s a peek at our limited edition Embroidered Worlds bookplates being printed at Bookplate Ink, in Yellow Springs Ohio!

I have more to share about the process of editing this anthology and the stories and writers and translators, and I’m hoping that things can slow down a little during the end of this year so that I have time to catch up with writing and posts and upcoming projects! This is Mother Christmas season after all….

Blessings of peace and love during this season.


Springtime Blessings

Both Ukrainian Christmas and Easter are rich with ancient traditions woven into the fabric of the holiday. I love the connections; these ways we remember those who came before us. When I mentioned blessings baskets on Twitter and Facebook, several people asked me to explain, so I’m adapting/updating this description from an older blog post (April 7, 2007):

I have always admired the way my maternal grandmother dyes her eggs with onion skins, so this year collected the yellow onion skins for several months. We boiled the eggs with the skins, and voila!


On Saturday, we had the blessing of baskets, one of my favorite Ukrainian Springtime traditions. In Ukraine, Christianity came late (988 CE). The peasants still clung to their Old Ways, and as a result, Christianity became infused with them.


Woodcut by Ukrainian artist Jacques Hnizdovsky, illustrating traditional Easter festivities.

The traditional Spring celebrations: dances, baking special breads, painting pysanky, burning fires, dousing with water…these were directly adapted into the Easter holiday. The Saturday before Easter, Ukrainians take their baskets filled with the traditional foods to an area outside of the Church…the blessing usually takes place outside, unless there is rain. The foods are blessed by holy waters and then enjoyed the next morning as breakfast.

The basket usually contains hardboiled and colored eggs, smoked sausages, ham, cheese, butter, horseradish mixed with beets, some salt, and of course the sacred bread, called “paska” or “babka.” Sometimes seeds are added, to be blessed for the garden. We always add some cat food for the cats, and some chocolate…well, because it’s chocolate!

The preparation and baking of paska was considered one of the most important tasks of the year. (I like to bake my own but didn’t get the chance this year.) People believed that the future could be predicted depending on how this holiday bread turned out. Every homemaker wanted her paska to be the best and the biggest, therefore while baking it she performed various magical gestures and used incantations. The dough for the paska was kneaded in a trough which rested on a pillow so that the bread would be light.

During the preparation, the baker had to maintain positive thoughts. While the paska was in the oven, no one was allowed to make a loud noise for fear it would collapse in the oven. In some regions of Ukraine the man of the house stood guard in his front door lest someone enter and cast an evil spell while the paska was baking.

The top of the paska is often covered with symbolic signs made of dough such as a cross, solar signs, rosettes, leaves, pine cones, birds and bees. They refer back to the Goddess of Spring, and the rebirth of the Sun.

Wrapped in a rushnyk (ritual cloth) and placed in the basket, the paska was carried to be blessed in the outdoor ceremony. Once these were offered to the Goddess of Spring and the Sun, now they are offered to the Mother and her reborn Son. Still a ritual of rebirth. The archetypes survive in a slightly different form.

We had a large basket for our family, filled with foods that we shared for breakfast on Easter Sunday.

In the spirit of my ancestors, I wish you all the blessings of Spring and the prosperity of a Summer and Fall filled with abundance. May the Sun shine with favor on your path, and the ground grow fertile beneath your feet.

Easter Eggs in July

Tonight I had dinner with . Moments like this make me so happy to be home. One of my favorite things to do is sit and talk with friends over food and drink–those meaty conversations that nourish your whole person. Sometimes the conversations are mundane and earthy, sometimes they are provocative and philosophical. They are always treasured.

And speaking of treasures, [info]swampwitch brought me a gift–an egg that she purchased because it’s a "Valya Egg."

It was actually labeled as a Valya Egg! And it’s purple and sparkly, and it opens like a Fabergé egg. The egg has already been claimed by this mini steampunk poppet (one of Lisa Snelling‘s creations) seen gazing longingly above.

Because I have an uncommon name, I was never able to find any of those personalized gifts that kids sometimes had in the 80s: bracelets, bookmarks, or mugs. There may have been a Valerie or a Val, but I was neither of those. A friend once made me a wooden sign of my name, I have it to this day because it was the only thing with my name.

And now this egg.

Plus [info]swampwitch knows me well enough to know that I am fascinated with eggs as symbols, a part of folklore and tradition, and as a storytelling tool. Eggs by their very nature hide something precious inside. They connect generations. They hold their stories hidden inside the shells. They are a perfect symbol of potential.

(Painted eggs, called pysanky, are an important (and one of my favorite) part of Ukrainian culture. To read more about them from a previous LJ post, click here.)

I wanted to write more about friendship and hidden treasures, but I’m falling asleep on the keyboard.
More later.
Night all.