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?

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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.

Summer is coming

Wow, I’m just taking my A-levels (Abitur in German) and whoosh, 25 years have passed. The worst/best is that I know my husband even longer than that. ;-)

So, obedient little girl that I am (snort), I have been to the celebrations of the silver anniversary. It was so nice to see all my old classmates again, but it also made it clear that I still don’t have much in common with them. There are but a few overlapping interests. Still, I learned a lot of new things about subjects I knew next to nothing about (I also learned from the speech of the new director of my old school that one shouldn’t hold a speech if one’s speaking like a machine gun).

Some of my classmates were quite well informed about what happened to people from other classes (with a few surprises like the guy I went to the theater workshop with an who now writes scripts for some well respected films in German TV). Maybe I should get active and feign an interest in gossip after all. It’s really nice to know where they all went. On the other hand, some gossip is rather nasty and I don’t really want to know it. It’s probably best to restrict my gossiping to events like the silver anniversary and stick to my writing meanwhile.

Apropos, with the summer holidays looming (two and a half weeks to go), I will shut down soon. There’s no way I’ll be able to write when the kids are home. Let’s just hope the weather will be nice enough so we can go to the pool a lot.

After the holidays, I will start publishing like mad. I’ve got so many new stories to share. Enjoy the sun if you can.

Second Try

From the feedback I got I realized that the fairies are a matter of taste. Half of the commenters liked them the other half didn’t. I like them, so they’ll stay (for now, I might still change my mind). Also, I’m aware of the fact that “Treasues Retold” is only readable when the cover is full size, but I don’t mind. It’s a logo and easily recognizable as such even if the writing isn’t clear at thumbnail size. Thank you all for helping me come to these conclusions.

However, there are a few more issues, and I think you might need to know at least a little bit about my stories. The first one is a retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” with the dwarf as the main character (he’s not the villain in this tale), the second a retelling of “The Beauty and the Beast” in a steampunk setting. I incorporated as many of the suggestions as I could. Since it seemed that the cover for volume two was universally liked, I mostly worked on the cover for volume one.

Band2-final

My biggest problem at the moment is what to put into the big medallion. I found a wonderful picture of a man in a leather jerkin resembling a dwarf. Unfortunately, he’s much too old to be the dwarf in my story. So I started looking for two girls, one blond the other brown and close to each other to fit in the frame. One problem was that the clothing often was too modern. These are some I found. Do you think one of them would work?

Band1-3 Band1-4

Band1-5 Band1-6

I could try to find some fans of medieval clothing to pose for a picture (Oops, I just realized that I forgot to capitalize “twins”). Ideally, they would be having fun like the two girls on the left in the bottom row but look a little bit older.

Please give me some more feedback. I appreciate it a lot.

Help me with the Cover

Oh dear, the hardest bit about publishing a new title is the cover art imho. I didn’t have any trouble whatsoever with the cover for my middle grade time travel series, but my fairy tale retellings cause me headaches. Maybe you can help? Here they are.

possible covers for volume one:
Band1-0 Band1-1 Band1-2

possible covers for volume two:
Band2-0 Band2-1 Band2-2

Which layout do you like best? Or do you have a completely different idea? It is important to show that all volumes belong to the same series. Also, the cover should look enticing. Sigh.

Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop

Traditionally, summer is a time for me where I read a lot. Since I can’t write my own stories when my children are on holiday, I do the second best thing: reading someone else’s.

Kathy from I am a Reader initiated this Giveaway Hop, and I thought I’d participate. After all, you might be a little bit like me. Go ahead and win an eBook I haven’t published yet (although it is edited and proof read).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want more chances to win eBooks, go here:

William L. Hahn’s Giveaway

I think it is now time to tell you a little bit more about my friend Will.

William L. Hahn

William L. Hahn

Will Hahn has been in love with heroic tales since age four, when his father read him the Lays of Ancient Rome and the Tales of King Arthur. He taught Ancient-Medieval History for years, but the line between this world and others has always been thin; the far reaches of fantasy, like the distant past, still bring him face to face with people like us, who have choices to make.

Will didn’t always make the right choices when he was young. Any stick or vaguely-sticklike object became a sword in his hands, to the great dismay of his five sisters. Everyone survived, in part by virtue of a rule forbidding him from handling umbrellas, ski poles, curtain rods and more.

Will has written about the Lands of Hope since his college days (which by now are also part of ancient history). With the publication of Judgement’s Tale Part One, Games of Chance, he begins at last to tell the tale of the Land’s most unique hero, The Man in Grey.

Will Hahn is the chronicler of the Lands of Hope tales:
The Ring and the Flagtry the Audio Book for free
Fencing Reputation
The Plane of Dreamswatch the trailer!
Three Minutes to Midnight
The Book of Tales

Find Will on Smashwords, on Amazon, or on Barnes &Nobles

Will’s Blog Thoughts – Including tales of a happy childhood (which continues), hopes for a writer’s journey, and analysis of Classics You’ve Never Read

Rafflecopter of the Lands Contest
Enter to win free Tales of Hope here!

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An Introduction to Solemn Judgement

My friend William L. Hahn is one of the few authors of Epic Fantasy whose books I truly enjoy reading. Usually, book in this genre bore me after a short while. The pacing is slow due to overbearing descriptions and side-stories. But not in Will’s books. With him, every single word moves the overall story forward.

I’m all the more delighted that he trusts my small publishing company “The Independent Bookworm” with the publication of his masterpiece “Judgement’s Tale”. Follow us into his world: “The Lands of Hope”.

In Will’s words:

William L. Hahn

William L. Hahn

I am deeply pleased and honored to address Cat’s followers today, for she has been a dear friend and an invaluable colleague directly responsible for much of my success. It’s only fitting that the excerpt for this post is the title-character of my upcoming novel, Judgement’s Tale.

As you may know, I followed the Lands of Hope for a long time – seriously more than 25 years – without trying to “write” about it in the sense of tales. Notes, yes copious notes, almost obsessive details, but never with an eye towards authoring a story. The Lands were always real to me – took a long time to admit that – and it was simply too BIG a job. There are more than five thousand years of history, a continent ten thousand kilometers long, and a population currently near five million persons. Where to start?

Long story short – I did start, by chronicling some of the spectacular events close to the current day in the Lands, what the sages are now calling the Age of Adventure: and they don’t mean that as a compliment! Adventurers are rare and unloved, they upset people and break with honored customs to follow rumors and hunches. But even outcasts, it seems, need company – they usually go about in small groups, and can be incredibly loyal to each other. I followed the deeds of several bands of these remarkable persons in my early chronicles.

But throughout my notes there was one fellow, unique even for them, maybe not properly an adventurer at all. He was a pariah, regarded with fear and loathing though he seemed to do nothing wrong. I was taken in by his driven nature, his terrible alone-ness – even other adventurers seemed to reject the one all knew as The Man in Grey. I wondered about that – to my eye, he was a combination of admirable and frightening qualities. Intelligent, brave and courteous, but also tightly-wound, inflexible and seemingly humorless. Solemn Judgement, the infamous Man in Grey wandered through every kingdom and touched briefly on the lives of nearly all the heroes, because he like them seemed to seek out danger in the furthest corners of The Lands.

Then as I looked at him more closely, I realized – he was not nearly as old as everyone took him to be, indeed, just a youth. How did this happen, and where did he come from? Even after twenty-five years of study, I had to admit I didn’t know the answer, I had never dared to look. But I began, and the result, several years later, is this novel.

In this excerpt, nearly the beginning of the tale, you can meet Solemn Judgement for the first time and perhaps begin to see how his spirit was formed from his first day in the Lands. I hope you enjoy Judgement’s Tale Part One: Games of Chance.

As we say in The Lands, Ar Aralte! (Hope Forever)

Excerpt of Games of Chance: Solemn Judgement

At forest’s edge, the gypsy band huddled and watched a boy on the seashore burying his father.

Clouds ripped overhead in shreds of slate; below, the endless Western Sea reflected leaden chop without a white edge to relieve the monochrome sense of threat. Yet the boy outdid them both. He laid his father’s corpse in a pose of dignity, and stubbornly hacked a fire-trench behind the tide-line scrub. All the while his posture, his pace, his entire demeanor radiated a total lack of color. The gypsies could have explained the ashen tint of his tunic, the dusty charcoal of his breeks and high leather boots. Salt water might have bleached his long, straight hair to dark silver, as well. But they could all sense it was otherwise- the boy was grey, through and through. And they came no closer yet, though the Rom were a hospitable people by nature.

“Grandmother, can they really have sailed from the West?” said Yellin the knife-thrower to the troupe’s leader. The thin, tightly-wrinkled woman shrugged for answer, in annoyance not indecision. He continued “But no one has crossed the ocean to the Lands since…”

“Since the advent of Hope, if we are to believe the stories,” said Mari the tambour-player; and at this everyone nodded, for to the gypsy a story is the blood of life.

“Yet see you the skiff,” insisted Yellin. “Well made and trim, to be sure, but so small, and with a crew of only two.”

Now the leader bestirred herself and pointed with her stick to the skies, where a lone hawk circled and cried. “We have had strange storms this month,” said Grandmother Valeria, “lightnings of many colors and winds that blew in circles, it seemed. And the hawk portends long journeys, the lone hunter who rules the signs of the Air. I think this young man comes of a land further, yet not the same, as those our heroes set out from.”

The band stood in silence after the grandmother had spoken- a new story unfolded now and none would interrupt it. Instead they watched as the young man completed the trench, then faced the skiff with arms akimbo. After three moments, he decided; bracing his leg under the mast-board for leverage, he hauled hard and began to break up the beautiful craft for firewood.

The Gypsies watched him still, an hour later near dusk and by the light of the burning pyre. Munching apples and crusts, they took in his every move, like watching a play: the boy piled the planks in a half-pyramid, put his father’s body on the keelboard, and hauled it to the top with driftwood-rollers and all his strength. He had set the flame and now stood leaning on a half-length of the skiff’s mast, serving him as a thick quarterstaff.

“He is not a man,” said Mari, “not fifteen I bet.”

“Old enough to see his father die perhaps,” Yellin nodded. “But to bury him… and now?”

“Now, he is alone in all this world,” said Grandmother Valeria “For he is not of the Lands, I can feel it.”

Again no one answered her, and the story continued in silence. The son had put aside some of his father’s belongings, and with the funeral flame fully set he knelt briefly, then rose to take them. As the flicker-toothed fire ate the setting sun, the grey stranger put on the iron-hued broad-brimmed hat, hung the silver symbol around his neck and donned the full-length charcoal cloak, with all the gravity of a man putting on armor. He took up the staff, and faced the fire on the beach once again. For a moment, he seemed to sag, as if under some nameless weight. The wind died down, but a single report of thunder signaled it was merely the quiet before the storm.

“He is a castaway, an orphan now,” said Geltar the fire-eater.

“And so, he is one of us,” finished Valeria, and before anyone could stop her, she stepped from the edge of the trees and into the story, gesturing to the boy on the sand. At first, he appeared not to notice, but after dipping to one knee a final time in a gesture of respect, he turned and strode steadily in her direction. From that moment, he never looked back at the fire or the sun, the father or the sea. The rest of the gypsy band shuffled from cover in response, and before long they were together. At this close range, the Rom could see that his eyes were large gems of silver, gazing hawk-like from beneath his ashen brows.

“Do you speak the Common Tongue, boy?” Valeria asked, holding her hand palm-up in a gesture of friendship.

For a moment, it was as if she spoke to a statue of a boy, his body unmoving and his face yielding no more comprehension than that of an animal to her speech. But as she prepared to try again, the grey youth said “Aye, though thy tongue is somewhat odd, I trow I do gain the meaning of thee, mistress.” It was Common, as the gypsies knew it, but of an older dialect, such as the scholars in Conar might speak.

“Do you know any other speech, then?” Valeria asked, and in response the stranger tried first a smooth-flowing tongue, which had no meaning for any of the band, and then another, somewhat harder and more clipped. He spoke with fluency to judge from his ease; but on his third try, every tone hummed like a rung bell, and some of his listeners actually stepped back a pace from the resonance and strength of it.

“Those words!” started Yellin, “Is he singing? I never-” but the leader of the band interrupted him, her face shining with wonder and fear.

“It is Ancient, I’ll be bound. I know it not but I’ve heard enough before, in the courts and at trials. This boy speaks the tongue of power like a native.”

The stranger stopped to hear this dialogue, a puzzled expression on his face. “Ye- know somewhat of those last words? I have little training in them-”

“And you should not speak it again, except at need,” returned Valeria. “It is the Ancient speech, which our heroes used, the tongue of dragons and other beings of power, and one cannot lie while speaking it.”

The boy raised a single brow. “Or in any other tongue, certes.”

After a moment, a quiet chuckle made its way among the gypsies, the first hint of levity these entertainers had felt this day. Valeria too smiled, and said “Assuredly. We have seen you from afar, traveler, and we welcome you to our band for as long as you may wish to stay. Tell us, what are you called?”

The young stranger stood even taller than before as he swept off his hat and answered in the manner of a captive soldier. “Mine name be Solemn Judgement, mistress. Son of… of Final Judgement, once of…” and here for a time the boy could not continue. As he stood in silent struggle, the weather broke and a storm came lashing down on him. The gypsies stood just under the lee of the forest and were mostly untouched, but the grey stranger’s face was soon speckled with rain. Valeria scrutinized him closely, yet saw nothing but sky-water on his cheeks: the heavens granted a sign of grief he could not provide himself. “He was- my teacher, mistress. Every day, as we sailed- he taught … I seek knowledge,” he finished stiffly.

Valeria stepped forward then, and as her band gasped she reached for the young man with both arms. The same stick-hand which had just yesterday cracked Geltar’s skull when he offered an impertinence in jest, the fingers which had turned the tarot cards in merciless judgment of her own people over the decades she had ruled the clan; these same limbs she now used to enfold the stranger, holding him close as if she would shelter him from the rain. And for all he bent in any human reaction to her welcome, she may as well have embraced his staff. But when she turned and led him by the arm, Solemn Judgement went along with the gypsy band, stepping east with them into the forest, further into the story, and fully onto the Lands of Hope.

About Judgement’s Tale: Games of Chance

Judgement's Tale part oneFor twenty centuries the Lands of Hope prospered from their Heroes’ peace, but suffer now from their absence as a curse thickens over the central kingdom known as the Percentalion. An immortal omniscient conspirator schemes to escape the extra-worldly prison restraining his tide of undeath, using a demonic ally in a plot to bring back hell on earth. Solemn Judgement steps onto these Lands both a stranger and an orphan, driven to complete the lore his father died to give him.

In a world beset with increasing chaos, the bravest Children of Hope must take mortal risks. A young woodsman’s spear-cast, a desperate bid to save his comrades; the Healers Guildmistress’ cheery smile, hiding a grim secret and a heavy burden of guilt; the prince of Shilar’s speech in a foreign tongue, a gambit to avoid bloodshed or even war. As a new generation of heroes, scattered across the kingdoms, bets their lives and more, Solemn Judgement- soon to be known as The Man in Grey- must learn to play … Games of Chance: Part One of Judgement’s Tale

available on amazon on July 4th

#MyWritingProcess

I’m going to host William L. Hahn’s new release “Judgement’s Tale #1: Games of Chance” tomorrow but couldn’t resist participating in this Blog Hop too. Please come back tomorrow so you won’t miss Will’s fun guest post.

Danyelle Leafty

Thank you Danyelle Leafty@DanyellLeafty, for inviting me to the hop. I admire the way you twist fairy tales like pretzels making them more delicious with every turn. If anyone who likes fairy tales hasn’t read on of hers, please do so. They’re really worth it.

So, what is this bloghop about? All over the world, authors (established and up and coming) share details about how and why they write. The reason:

“We writers share these things, but informally during workshops and at conferences (and, for a handful of established writers, in printed interviews), but not so much through our open-forum blogs. With the hashtag #MyWritingProcess, you can learn how writers all over the world answer the same four questions. How long it takes one to write a novel, why romance is a fitting genre for another, how one’s playlist grows as the draft grows, why one’s poems are often sparked by distress over news headlines or oddball facts learned on Facebook…

 What am I working on?

I’m currently working on two projects at once. First, I began retelling fairy tales but with a twist. The first two volumes are done but not (yet) translated (see below for my writing process). I hope to start publishing them close to the end of the summer.

Second, I have worked out the kinks in the overall storyline of a Middle Grade time travel series which will have five to ten volumes of roughly 25,000 to 30,000 words. Terry, the main character of the series will be traveling to many interesting but not so well known times in history on her search for her father.

While I’m still polishing, and having my editor go through the texts, I’ll be publishing several short stories that have been collecting on my hard drive during the last year. They are rather diverse. ;-)

 

How does it differ from others of its genre

The fairy tales have twists I haven’t encountered yet. I read thousands of fairy tales from many cultures when I was younger and still love the diversity found in the old stories. The first volume will contain a retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” from the dwarf’s point of view (who is not even half as evil as you might think) plus a bonus short story about Rumpelstiltskin. The second volume is a retelling of “The Beauty and the Beast” in a steampunk setting. Both were a lot of fun to write. At the moment, I’m using stories that are not entirely unknown but that might change at some point. I plan to include the original tale in the finished eBook for those who’ve never heard of it.

The time travel story will be very different from other MG time travels. It will not be like “The Magic Treehouse” for example since there will be an overarching problem the main character faces. Although the episodes can stand on their own, they all build on each other. Also, the historical time my main character visits will always be meticulously researched. I want these books to be so entertaining that the readers won’t even notice they learned something about history before they set the finished book aside. I’m a big fan of learning with fun, and what more fun is there than an entertaining story. ;-)

 

Why do I write what I do?

I’ve read so many books, I’ve lost count. Most of them were mediocre or just didn’t fit my taste. Since I had been writing stories ever since I learned my alphabet, becoming an author and writing the kind of books I would love to read myself, was the only sensible option. I’ve been striving to write the best books possible ever since.

 

How does my writing process work?

When an idea has congealed to something worth writing about in my mind, I sit down and condense the whole idea into a single sentence of 30 words or less. Then, I work out scene cards (my scenes average at 1500 words, so that makes 10 cards for every planned 15K words). The most important bit that goes on each scene card are the scene’s main character and conflict. When I have the whole plot laid out, I start writing (usually one scene per day) the first draft in English. During this time, it often happens that I have to adjust my scene cards, move them around, cut or replace them, or change the conflict or the character.

Once the first draft is done, I set it aside and let it simmer for a while. Then, I start revision (Which usually takes much longer than writing the first draft). When I’m done with that, I send the file to my editor and start translating the story back into German, my native tongue. As son as I finish the translation, I incorporate the changes sugessted by my editor in both language versions and then send both versions to their appropriate proof readers. The, I hand-code them into ePub, mobi and print ready files and get started on the next book. When I’ve got some spare time, I do a little marketing. However, spare time is hard to come by in a family of five…

Finally, I’m passing the staff on to my fellow writers who will be posting a week from now:

1. Carole Engelhaupt (will follow)

2. Mildred R Holmes writes fantasy in a world called ‘Niiganabiik’s World. ” She published a collection of short stories “Stories of the People – Niiganabiik’s World” at JukePop Serials jukepop.com/home/read/2197. She writes a monthly column “Minute with Millie” for the Bois Forte News and manages four blogs.  Her author blog is www.niiganabiiki.com.  Her author pages are www.facebook.com/MildredRHolmes and google.com/+NiiganabiikBlogspot.  Twitter handle @niiganabiik.

She was born and raised on a reservation,  is Bear Clan of the Anishinabeg, and has a lot of stories to tell.  She is an active member of NaNoWriMo, a project she believes is helpful for writers.