LEXICAL GAP Issue No. 2: Kummerspeck

Where did February go?

I swear, it was just January last week. Blink, and February's gone. I suppose it makes sense since it's the shortest month of the year (even with the added Leap Day this year), but on the other side of 2015, my pub date suddenly seems really close. 

March looks to be pretty exciting for me on the Wintersong front; we should be finalizing my cover, plus I'll be getting copyedits soon. My novel is moving from a story in my head to an actual physical thing, and that's both awesome and scary, to be honest.

Lexical Gap: Kummerspeck

This month's lexical gap is another German compound noun, and one of my favorites. Kummerspeck is literally "grief bacon", and it is "the excess weight gained from emotional eating." I suspect a great many of us are well-acquainted with Kummerspeck.

In this issue:

1. LEXICAL GAP: Kummperspeck
2. BEHIND THE SCENES OF WINTERSONG: Part I of the Long, Shitty Synopsis



Art by Ruben Ireland.

Wintersong's Long, Shitty Synopsis: Part I

All right, so I promised my lovely newsletter subscribers the long, shitty synopsis of Wintersong, back when it was nothing more than a twinkle in my eye that I was trying to figure out for NaNoWriMo. If you remember from my origin story post, I emailed said long, shitty synopsis to my friend Marie.
I use the long, rambling synopsis as a way for me to think through a novel. I am effectively telling myself the story before I start writing. The final draft doesn't adhere to this synopsis perfectly: some elements get dropped, some get added, and even the act breaks come in different places. However, I'm figuring out where the story beats are, and I try to tell myself the story uninterrupted, i.e. in one sitting. 

The original synopsis I sent Marie was 4500 words long, so I'm breaking it up into parts. Also, the synopsis is unfinished; I wrote to about the halfway point before I decided I had enough to start the novel itself. (I do this; I jump in and start, rather than planning everything out.)

So without further ado...
PART ONE: The first act ends at a different point in the actual book. Where I end the first act in my synopsis turned out to be merely a dramatic chapter ending. 
Constanze: Grandmother (Mother’s mother) - superstitious, tells tales of the Goblin King
Franz Georg: Father, called Georg by his wife, musical, dreamy
Maria Anna: Mother, called Anna by her husband, beautiful, practical, careworn
Maria Elisabetta: called Liesl, eldest daughter, practical, composer
Katharina Aloysia: called Käthe, beautiful, frivolous
Franz Josef: called Josef, beautiful, musical
Liesl (Elisabetta) is the eldest daughter of an innkeeper in Bavaria on the road between Munich and Vienna. Liesl comes from a family of musicians: her father is a violinist and her mother is a singer. Her mother has since given up singing to run her family inn. In her youth, the mother (Maria Anna) was a promising soprano in Vienna, where she met the father (Franz Georg). However, when her own father died, she came back home to take up the family business, bringing her husband with her. Liesl is the eldest of three: two girls and a boy. The second child is a girl: blonde and beautiful like the mother. She is sort of sweet and frivolous (and unfortunately unmusical), and the one everyone thinks will make a good marriage. The youngest is the son, as beautiful as the mother and as talented a violinist as the father.

Liesl is a budding composer, but as a woman, she has no future in the career. Like her mother, she is pragmatic, but with her father’s slightly more mundane looks (but with beautiful, expressive eyes). The family is working to send the youngest to Vienna to study music with a master, and the middle daughter has been betrothed to a burgher’s son in the town.
However, one night, the middle daughter is bewitched and enchanted away by the Goblin King, and Liesl must journey underground to rescue her sister.
Constanze and Anna do not get along? Or rather, Anna has no patience for Constanze’s superstitious outlook. All the children love Constanze’s tales, especially Liesl and Josef, who try and write the music of the fairies, which is supposedly so beautiful as to drive you mad. Liesl plays pianoforte and composes and sings a little, while Josef plays the violin with extraordinary skill. In that regard, they are both their father’s children: both musically inclined and romantic of mind.

However, like their mother, Liesl must often set aside her dreams in favour of What Must Be Done. She helps with the cooking and cleaning and managing of the staff around the inn, as Georg prefers to spend most of his time gambling and playing music. Because of Josef’s talent, they are thinking of sending him to Vienna to study with a proper music master. A famous one is due to stop by their inn on his way to Munich and they are determined to have Josef play for him.

At the same time, Käthe has been betrothed to Hans, a burgher’s son. He is respectable and agrees to take over the business of running the inn, but he is older, stolid, and not exciting enough for bright, vivacious, flirtatious, and frivolous Käthe. She’s constantly flirting with customers and Hans is left behind. If Liesl were beautiful, the townspeople say, she would be better suited to be Hans’ wife, but Hans is known to have a weakness for beautiful things. For all her frivolity and licentiousness, he does love Käthe, and knows he will be able to provide for her the way she wants, if only she would just grow up.

In the week before Käthe and Hans’ wedding, and day before the music master from Vienna is due to arrive, Liesl and Käthe go shopping for ribbons and other pretty trinkets. Constanze warns them to “beware the Goblin Market” and the wares they sell. At the market, the girls run into fruit vendors with an otherworldly look about them, playing pipes and such sweet music as to draw them in. Liesl sings along in counterpoint, finding harmonies that delight the sellers and seem to amuse a tall, hooded man in their midst. Liesl walks away without buying anything, refusing the fruit as payment for her song, but Käthe seems enchanted and tempted by the fruit. Liesl has to drag her sister away.

The girls continue shopping for ribbons and wreaths when Liesl loses sight of Käthe. Liesl runs through the market in a panic when she spots her sister by the fruit vendors. Suddenly afraid, Liesl drags Käthe away, but Käthe has nothing in her hands. However, her lips are red, sweet, sticky, and glistening, as though begging to be kissed…

The next day, Käthe seems changed. Pale and wan, she seems ill, but insists she is fine. Hans and Liesl both worry; Käthe seems distracted and won’t eat. Constanze fears she is fairy-touched, but Anna scoffs at the notion. Liesl feels plagued with guilt; she had been distracted at the market by a stall selling the most beautiful violins and sheets of composing paper and quills when Käthe wandered off. Liesl asks Constanze how to lift the goblin curse, and Constanze mutters ominously that there was nothing for it but to shut Käthe away; she is for the Goblin King now.

At first Käthe seems happy to stay confined to her room, but is restless at night. She goes wandering and Liesl follows her and sees her meeting with that tall, hooded stranger from the market. She witnesses them kissing and is horrified. The next morning Liesl confronts her sister, who grows angry, dangerous, and fey. Liesl asks Käthe who the stranger is, and Käthe refuses to answer, weeping and crying. Liesl threatens to tell Hans and Käthe says to go ahead; her dark prince can give her everything she wants now.

That night, the famous music master arrives. As planned, Josef plays for him and so moved, the master agrees to take him on as a student. Everyone is ecstatic over the news except Käthe, who is sullen and withdrawn. Liesl notices a tall man in their midst with long, elegant features and chillingly, two different coloured eyes: one as grey as a winter sky, the other a hazel-green, like moss peeking through dead loam. He is not handsome, but he is eerily beautiful.

Celebrations continue and Liesl notices Käthe serving the tall man. She worries. Hans arrives and tells her that he is happy for Josef, and that he wants nothing more than to feel part of their family. But he wonders if they consider him one of them. He’s eyeing Käthe and the stranger as he speaks. Liesl’s heart sinks; without Hans’ support and money, they cannot afford to send Josef to study.

Liesl is determined to confront Käthe and put a stop to everything, but she is accosted by well-wishers, and then her father. Georg says that he can rest and die easy now that he knows his children are taken care of. But if only he could feel reassured that Liesl was provided for too. He always thought Liesl was meant for something greater than being the spinster older sister of an innkeeper’s wife. Liesl’s resentment beats in her breast.

When her father leaves, Käthe is nowhere to be found. Liesl searches high and low, but Käthe is gone. She finds Constanze in the rooms upstairs, looking out the window as hounds bay in the distance.

“We’re too late,” she says in a dead voice. “She belongs to the Goblin King now.”

End of first act.
If you made it this far, congratulations! Stay tuned for next month, wherein I will share the next installment.

Further Reading

Previous Issues of Lexical Gap

  1. Sitzfleisch and Backpfeifengesicht
My name is S. Jae-Jones, but JJ, if you please. I'm an artist, adrenaline junkie, and author Wintersong, forthcoming from Thomas Dunne in Fall 2016. 

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