Intelligent Stories for Clever Readers

Homepage of Author Katharina Gerlach
for Children, Young Adults, and the Young at Heart

 

Welcome, Willkommen (German), Fàilte (Gaelic), Bienvenue (French), Djin dobre (Polish)*.

A short introduction about the authoress and Why is reading so important?

William L. Hahn Bloghop

I’m a little late in posting this — actually I’m quite late in posting anything recently. There seems to be so many things that need to be done before Christmas and not enough time. ;-)

My good friend, Will Hahn, is preparing for his next release. The third part of “Judgement’s Tale” will be available soon. His books are published one novella-length part per 3-4 months which I love because it means readers won’t have to wait so very long. Epic Fantasy usually makes you wait for ages for the next volume. So, if you haven’t started reading the story yet, the price of volume one “Games of Chance” has been reduced to a $0.99 bargain price. Read it. Although the beginning shows a lot of people, which can be confusing at first, the prose is beautiful. And believe me, not a single thread of the story is superfluous.

And since Will’s narration is highly unique, here is his reasoning for using

Unusual Narrators

William L. Hahn

William L. Hahn

(oh, and if you read all the way to the end, you get the chance to WIN a printed copy of Judgement’s Tale volumes one and two!)

The protagonist of Judgement’s Tale is someone nobody gets to know. I understand their difficulty — Solemn Judgement won’t talk much to me either. Of all the beings in the Lands of Hope, his is the only mind that remains closed to me (the sole way to evade the block is too horrible to mention — I did it once and never again! See the first chapter of Reunion of Souls.). So I have been forced to rely on second-hand information, namely, the witness of others. And since hardly anyone he’s met comes off liking him, my difficulties are multiplied many times over.

The Man in Grey, as most people know him, has taken to wandering the Lands, methodically visiting every village and town for reasons that are unclear. He can never hope to finish, should he live to be a hundred. He seldom stays long. If there is a significant Healer in the area, Judgement visits him or her, and stays perhaps a single night in their house, within the protective healing circle. He has a terrible knack for showing up where something dangerous is happening, leading to gossip that the Man in Grey brings trouble with him. His manner, though civil, is often cold and intense, doing little to dispel this notion. This is the only way I saw him, for the first twenty years or so of studying the Lands of Hope; as I viewed the great deeds of one of the adventuring bands, such as the Candidates or Tributarians, there he’d be in the midst of battle or at the edge of a great conflict, walking through and perhaps staying long enough for a conversation or to lend a hand.

If it had not been for Cedrith, I don’t think there would be a Judgement’s Tale.

A Friend in Need

I don’t exactly recall when I first realized how Judgement came to the Lands, though it was always clear he was not born in the kingdoms. But it was through the writings of Cedrith Fellareon, an otherwise obscure Elvish Sage, that I began to nail down the year and the place. Thrown together by a chance of fate on Judgement’s first day in Conar (see Games of Chance), Cedrith was unaccountably interested (maybe fascinated) by Judgement’s upright character and frightful maturity, and became very committed to protecting, tutoring and understanding him. This kind, erudite, domestic Elf was able to show me through his dogged persistence that the Man in Grey was indeed the hero I suspected he might have been. Through his interviews and letters (to Kia, his fiancée) I was able to build a picture of the horror Judgement endured as a youth, the relentless drive he felt to learn and fulfill a higher purpose.

But Judgement is not always with Cedrith. So it became necessary to find other narrators to complete the tale.

And there have been many;
– The Gypsies who found Judgement on the beach his first day in the Lands, burying his father. When they tried to force him to play a game, he had to leave the clan.
– Guardsmen and magistrates, from whom I would never have compiled an accurate picture. One sergeant in particular has sworn to kill him.
– Various employers such as Nador the silversmith who taught him metalwork, or Till the groom when Judgement briefly kept the stables for a noble house.
– Frightened villagers, fellow adventurers, a postal courier, ferrymen and a future king or two, who generally greet him with apprehension and see him off with relief.
– In The Eye of Kog (publishing in 2015) Judgement reaches one of the few remaining unsettled areas in the Lands, and his narrators are not, um, strictly speaking, human. In point of fact, they are trying to eat him; but I’m not sure Judgement detects much of a change in attitude from what he’s previously experienced.

And probably the most interesting narrator I’ve ever used is just four years old.

Eyes of a Child

Riddy sees “the Ash Man” in Strength of Conviction, when his fisherman father sells Judgement his old unused boat which Riddy had been keeping as a fortress. It seems our hero can never get off on the right foot, as he belatedly realizes the hull he wants to patch up had another owner. I figured “here we go again”—what could a little kid feel except hate and fear for the unspeaking, unsmiling, staff-bearing intruder who’s stealing his castle? But instead I watched in astonishment—Riddy’s young life goes from carefree through tragic, to adventurous and finally just a touch miraculous all in the space of a few days. And Solemn Judgement—perhaps the only man in all the city of Conar willing to listen to everything a four-year old will say—hears an interesting tale about a man who walked into the sea, which proves of great value to him.

All in all I was pretty pleased with how that portion of the story went. Imagine my surprise when a reader praised the section and said how they looked forward to hearing about Riddy again! I’m still flabbergasted. Isn’t there such a thing as a one-time character in this tale? He’s a kid, he’s living in the safest city in the Lands of Hope. What conceivable reason… no, wait. If watching Solemn Judgement has taught me anything, it’s that everyone has value. And as I look ahead into The Eye of Kog, there is one young girl who touches the tale briefly. Even Anteris, the young scribe’s apprentice of Trainertown, is destined for more adventure than you might think (certainly more than he does). And perhaps years from now the world will hear of famous deeds by those who are now among the least important.

I cannot imagine who will narrate their tales to me.

Will’s Weirdly Whimsical Website is where he posts news about upcoming releases and blogs about writing, classic fantasy works you’ve never read and the unique photo-based series “It Figures”.

The Lands of Hope Facebook page contains a chronology of the Lands.

WIN A PRINTED COPY OF JUDGEMENT’S TALE 1&2
a Rafflecopter giveaway


and then, you’ll have to go and buy the third installment “Reunions of Souls” because you’ll be just as hooked as I am. I can barely wait for part four. Thankfully, it’s only going to be 3 months!

Advent Calendar

I think by now, nearly everybody knows about the Indie Advent Calendar that I organized. If not, here are the details:

1. six authors = six serialized stories and one song plus one German artist = two pictures

2. all nicely hidden behind numbers on a beautiful calendar page.

Indie Advent Calendar 2014

Indie Advent Calendar 2014

Those who sign up for the alerts (even if they do it on the last day), will get the calendar bundled into an eBook. Come over and join the fun.

follow up on Vanessa’s Blog Tour

As a thank-you present for hosting Vanessa on my blog, I got both “Wizard of Ends” eBooks from her. I read them in October and loved them. What I like about them is that the characters feel so alive. The stubborn refusal of Lashlor Leaflin to use magic unless severely threatened is refreshing. And King Lanaran’s love for his wife, although it causes some big problems, is something most women dream of. The villain is strong enough to cause the heroes some really big difficulties, but not so big that this becomes a Don Quixote fight against windmills. Also, the writing held just enough detail to keep me grounded in the world. If you get a chance, get yourself copies of both books on Smashwords (Book 1: Wizard of Ends, Book 2: Dark Creature).

Doorway to Destiny

Doorway to Destiny

So, when Vanessa asked if I would host a one day book blast for her, I couldn’t refuse. She and her colleague TC Southwell have bundled eleven novels and two short stories into a gigantic volume called “Doorway to Destiny”. For a short time, this huge amount of reading pleasure will be available for 99ct only. Don’t be put off by the low price. Both writers are skilled (I’ve read books by both of them). This offer is clearly a bargain. I will get a copy myself.

About the Book

With eight novels by TC Southwell and three novels and two anthologies by Vanessa Finaughty, this box set offers fantasy and sci-fi lovers escapism that will keep you up long past your bedtime. Dive into fantastic worlds and meet fascinating characters whose trials and tribulations will enchant and inspire. Discover how a vengeful assassin reshapes the fate of three kingdoms and share in a quest to discover the origins of mankind, then follow the tale of a young queen’s fight to be free with the aid of a combat cyborg. Two short story anthologies spice up the fare with dragons, sorcerers and magic galore, and a child of another god strives to save his world from mankind’s ravages. When a mortal dark god treads a tragic path as he rises to destroy the Overworld, a brave young girl risks her life to try to change his savage ways. Each hero and heroine takes a definitive step through a doorway to destiny as he or she seeks to right wrongs and save worlds.

Get your copy of the book on
Smashwords,
iBooks or
Barnes & Noble

Two Authors Worth Reading (both from South Africa)

TC Southwell Vanessa Finaughty

<- Vanessa Finaughty

and

TC Southwell ->

Guest Author: Vanessa Finaughty

Let me introduce you to Vanessa Finaughty, an Indie author from South Africa. She currently released the first book in her Wizard of Ends series.

Wizard of Ends is a fantasy novella series packed with adventure, magic, dark creatures, some life lessons and more. Today I have the pleasure to host Vanessa for the release of the second novel in the series: Dark Creature

Vanessa created a unique kind of magic and found that magic isn’t as unreal as wen might think. In the article below, she will explain her reasoning.

Modern Science and Ancient Magic are One and the Same Guest post by Vanessa Finaughty

Between 1543 and 1687, textbooks tell us, there was a 150-year window in which modern thinking transformed from magic and superstition to what we now call science. Many believe that modern science is, in fact, driven by cosmology and magical philosophy.

I think most of us have heard the hype about the Age of Enlightenment that many believe began on 21 or 22 December 2012. Why do so many believe we are now in this age, however, and what exactly can we expect if these people are right? Countless ancient texts across the world tell us to ‘awaken and remember’, and predict a time during which the ‘veil will be lifted’, bringing in a new world. It does seem as if science and spirituality no longer oppose each other as they once did. Not so long ago, most people believed that to believe in science was to lack belief in a higher power. Today, nothing could be further from the truth. Is it because the stars are now aligned to bring in the Age of Enlightenment, enabling our consciousnesses to rise to new levels so we can see the world through new eyes?

I believe that humanity has lost much ancient knowledge that we are slowly beginning to rediscover. Almost all ancient humans had vast knowledge of the stars and science, as is evident by ancient texts, hieroglyphs and other archaeological finds, such as ancient batteries and evidence that suggests the pyramids were once giant power generators.

In ancient times, science was called by other names, like alchemy, magic or sorcery. Whatever we call it, it is the same thing: knowledge sought by the same or similar means. Ancient alchemists and sorcerers were insatiably curious. Combined with their deeply philosophical outlook on nature, this enabled them to gain a greater understanding of not only our world, but the entire universe, thus empowering them to perform ‘magical’ feats like healing the sick. Ancient alchemists also had advanced knowledge of chemistry, consciousness, hypnosis and trances, and even other worlds that modern science is only beginning to understand via quantum physics.

I think part of the reason much of this knowledge was lost is due to religious institutes deeming it ‘evil’ and ‘of the Devil’, and thanks to human politics. This means that ancient scientists – or sorcerers, if you will – had to hide their insights in coded texts and symbols to avoid being labeled evil and condemned for it. An example of this can be found in Galileo, the father of modern physics and astronomy. Once he had discovered planets and gained knowledge of their orbits, among other things, he was ordered to go to Rome to stand trial for heresy, after which he was forced to spend his remaining days on this Earth under house arrest!

Many believe that another reason much ancient knowledge was lost is due to an ‘elite’ group of humans in power persecuting those who wanted to share this knowledge with all of humanity. These conspiracy theorists believe that all the persecutions were an attempt to prevent ‘the rest of us’ from benefiting from these ancient secrets, for, if everyone knew what the elite knew, the elite would no longer be elite and would lose the control they still have over the masses. I can’t say for sure, but this theory does have a ring of truth to it, don’t you think? Then again, some believe that Atlantis was real and Atlanteans were wiped out because they abused this ancient knowledge. If this is the case, perhaps the elite are trying to protect us from ourselves. This, too, could be true, considering humanity’s abuse of our advancements – using nuclear power to create weapons that could destroy humanity and Earth a few times over is a perfect example. Then again, it’s the said elite who wanted the nuclear weapons in the first place….

Modern scientists have not only done much research into ‘supernatural powers’ like human psychic abilities and remote viewing, but have made breakthroughs into tapping into these and other ‘magical’ powers. Modern science has proven that was once considered magic is real – real science! It’s been scientifically proven that almost anyone can be taught to project their consciousness to other places or times in order to view the goings on there. Of course, rather than teaching everyone who is interested, this knowledge is being used for espionage.

We have no way – currently – of knowing the ultimate truth. However, I believe that, one day, we will know everything ancient humans did and will once again be able to harness the full power of our universe. One day, life will once more be filled with magic. I just hope we don’t use it to destroy ourselves.

About the Books

cover artIn “Wizard of Ends“, book 1 of the series, Lashlor Leaflin, who is new to the Land of Ends, happens across two men abducting the Queen of Ends and is compelled to help her. Thus starts his magical adventure, leading to a confrontation with a deadly sorceress who believes the crown to be rightfully hers.

 

In “Dark Creature“, book 2 in the series, Lashlor finds himself trapped in the Mountains of Eclador with no way to help his queen, who will be forever trapped in the form of a dark creature if he does not return to Ends. To make matters worse, thinking the Wizard of Ends will not return from the mountains, King Lanaran Dragonsbane attempts to undo the curse on his wife – something Lashlor warned him against.

You can find more information about the author and her many books on her Author website, her Author blog, Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook. You can buy her books on Smashwords, iBooks and Barnes & Noble

Review of Soulless by Chrystal Collier

When I was asked to review “Soulless” by Chrystal Collier, the sequel to “Moonless”, a book I had read and reviewed before, I hesitated because I never got warm with the main character of the series (read my review on goodreads). After much thinking, I came to the conclusion that my dislike for her was mostly due to the fact that I cannot stand a typically Victorian woman. The way they accept the “superiority of men” raises the hairs on my neck and makes me aggressive. The problem was that the book is set in a Victorian world, so the main character’s view of the role a woman must play was perfectly logical in the context of the story. Also, I like Crystal a lot, so I finally decided to read the second book. Boy, was I glad I did.

volume 2 in the Maiden of Time series

The second book focuses much more on the history of the Soulless and the Passionate. The romance between Alexia and Kiren blooms, and this time, the feelings seemed more real to me than last time. I think it highly possible that the author is very happily married. ;-)

The problems the nearly-wed faced mounted with every page I turned. Some scenes left me breathless (although I have to admit that I did skip a few kisses – as I said in my review of the first volume, I’m not really a romance reader at heart), and I loved to see Miles and John return. They’re my favorite characters by far.

In my opinion, this sequel is a lot better than the first volume. The characters are more rounded and the seeds planted in volume one finally begin to make things hard for Alexis and Kiren. By now, I’m hooked and can’t wait for the next volume. Well done, Crystal.

About the Book

The Soulless are coming…

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she’s forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.

About the Author

Stories literally siege upon Crystal Collier (usually in the middle of the night) and threaten to destroy the universe if not set free. Through the years she has visited many realms of creativity in hopes of purging these life-threatening menaces, but, the only true way to satiate those hazardous narratives is to trap them in an electronic page.

Crystal Collier

Crystal is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids with a thriller pace. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

You can also win a couple of great things from Crystal. Just participate:

Freak’s Fun Friday: Tweaking Covers

Since I can’t afford to hire a top-of-the-art cover designer, I have to do my own covers. Since I was never quite happy with the results, but couldn’t say why, I took a course on how to create professional looking covers. It opened my eyes.

With only a few minor tweaks, my covers changed from good but not spectacular Indie covers to professional looking covers. Let’s take Scotland’s Guardians as an example. The artist I hired captured exactly what I wanted, and still the cover did not satisfy me.

Then, I tweaked it a little bit. The changes are barely noticeable if you don’t have the covers side by side. But the new version looks much more like I wanted it.

cover for Scotland's Guardians before / after

The best example of my learning curve (from when I started out 2 1/2 years ago) to now is Urchin King. The first cover is extremely busy and indicates historical novel rather than fantasy. Also, it has no color scheme whatsoever and not much to do with actions in the book. The second cover at least tries to show what the book is about (the royal twins). But it is clearly visible that the designer (me) was an amateur. Again, it didn’t even begin to hint at fantasy.

Urchin King old covers

The third cover is a little better, although it still doesn’t hint at the fantasy genre. For the fourth cover, I finally found the right piece of art. But even with a fantasy feel to the picture, the cover still didn’t look like one by a traditional publisher. The fifth and final version does.

uk-d

Let me know what you think. Can you deduct what I learned just by looking at the pictures?

New Release: Treasures Retold 1

When I learned to read, I inhaled fairy tales. The first book I ever wrote (now sleeping peacefully in a drawer) was a fairy tale kind of story. Many of my early attempts, handed in to editors with a hopeful heart, reminded of fairy tales. And then… nothing for many, many years. I wrote Fantasy, SciFi, Urban Fantasy, Historical novels and even Non-Fiction, but never a fairy tale any more. I guess it was because of all the rejections I got and that basically said, fairy tales don’t sell.

The Dwarf and the Twins

The Dwarf and the Twins

These days, I believe differently. So when my Muse (my creative side) offered me a series of fairy tale retellings at novella length (100 pages max.), I was delighted. In three months, I wrote three stories, revised them and translated two of them. There are more to come since I already got ideas for at least two more stories set in the same world. I’m having a blast.

But for now, I have the pleasure to announce the release of the first volume in my “Treasures Retold” series: The Dwarf and the Twins, a retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” by the Brothers Grimm.

The original story tells of two innocent maidens who help a talking bear through the winter. They also help a vicious dwarf despite his bouts of anger. In this tale, the dwarf is a little different, as is the bear…

Martin lives a solitary life in the kingdom’s big forest. One day, he encounters a pregnant woman who is fleeing from the king’s soldiers. Little does he know that helping her will change his life forever, for the twins she bears will not stand idly by when his life is threatened.

The books in this series will all contain the retelling, a bonus story and the original tale (for some fairy tales will be quite unknown).

I hope you will have as much fun reading the tale as I had writing it. Please help me spread the word.

Get a free eBook

Judgement’s Tale vol. 2:
Strength of Conviction

My friend William L. Hahn releases his new eBook “Strength of Conviction” today. It is the second volume in the “Judgement’s Tale” series. To celebrate it, you can get the first volume for free until the 3rd of October on Amazon. Please help us spread the word.

About the Book

As the central kingdom of the Lands of Hope languishes without rule or reason under a worsening pall of chaos, most Children of Hope stand by and do nothing. The few who would dare are outcasts and strangers, either too high up, or too far inside, or still too young to help. Worse, all their scattered mysteries seem unconnected.

Treaman the Woodsman struggles to guide his companions through ensorcelled wildlands to safety. The poorest knight in the city prays by Conar’s statue for weeks without ceasing, as though his life depends on it. The young scribe Anteris copies histories for his master by day, dreams of adventure till sunset, and searches the stars by night for the riddle of his future. A noble Conarian heir seeks to join a lost legendary Order, putting his duty before his life. A gentle Elvish sage confronts the greatest of puzzles, the closed door barring the way to friendship with his greatest, and most dangerous pupil.

For Solemn Judgement, the Man in Grey, is learning that names are indeed important when he shows… Strength of Conviction.

Go and grab it, and if you like it, please leave a review and buy the second book too. He needs all the help you can give.

back from the summer with alien news…

Usually, I wouldn’t write anything specific about my private life (that’s why it’s called private, you know) but this time, I’m going to make an exception. For a reason.

Most of you might know how much I love to combine knowledge and fun. I like nothing better than reading a book I thoroughly enjoy only to find at the end that I learned something too. I’m trying to do the same in many of my books, especially the historical fiction.

During the summer holidays, I participated in a night walk through a Slovakian forest that achieved just that. Like most kids, yours might not like going out for a walk even if it is at night and in a forest. My kids at least weren’t very keen on the idea. With a forester for a grandfather, they thought they’d seen it all. However, I knew they were in for a treat. First, we were in Slovakia at that time (and their forests are a little different from ours), and second, a group of locals had prepared an elaborate background to make this walk more interesting for kids. The tour was open for children from 8-13, but since my girls are not good enough with their English (yet), I was allowed to accompany them.

The organizers pretended that an UFO had crash landed in the forest. Men in Black were searching the area trying to find the one surviving alien. Their scientists were examining the UFO’s energy source. Luckily, a group of people had decided to help the alien get back his energy so he could return home. They were the ones leading the kids through the forest.

the crashed UFO

the crashed UFO

At the place we had gathered, there was a tent with information about stars, galaxies, the universe, and the biology of the alien who crashed the UFO (for obviously, some of its comrades had not survived). We set out in small groups of 3-5 children and passed 9 stations where the kids had to perform small tasks. The first was an astrologist who explained the stars and where the alien had come from. At the second station, the kids had to steal the UFO’s energy bulbs (little glowing plastic containers) from the lab. At one point, we were captured by MIB’s who searched unsuccessfully for the energy bulbs (the kids were delighted they hid them well enough) and took photos and finger prints. Another time, the army, in charge of the safety of the area, lead us on a detour through a low tunnel and past the crashed ship (illuminated with flickering Christmas lights – unfortunately the photo didn’t turn out well, see above).

After much cross country walking in the dark (we crossed a brook twice), we reached the alien, and it was the highlight of the walk (see picture). It was extremely thankful for the help. Each kid got a little reward, and then we could go home. I was delighted by this little play. My kids never noticed how fast two hours had passed.

the alien

the alien

Advice for teachers: if you want kids to learn something, make it fun. My kids are still talking about stars and galaxies two weeks later.

Time Off!

Just a very short notice to let you know that I’m going on a horse riding holiday with my kids. Won’t be in for a while.

BTW, I finished the fairly tale during my CampNaNo and most of the time travel story. I’ll write the ending as soon a I’m back. Then, I’ll need to concentrate on getting the stories I’ve got line sup published in a timely manner. At the moment I’m looking at 5 short stories, 2 novels of the time travel series, 3 fairy tale retellings, one spooky MG story about ghosts and beasts, and Juma’s Rain, my YA historical fantasy set in Stone Age Africa. I’ve also got to finish the first volume in a MG superhero story tentatively called Rainbow Girl that I started during NaNo last year and have always wanted to get back to.

So there’s enough to do, but for now, I’ll be enjoying my summer vacations. Enjoy yours too.