Intelligent Stories for Clever Readers

Homepage of the Author Katharina Gerlach - for children, young adults, and the young at heart

 

Willkommen, Welcome (Englisch), Fàilte (Gaelic), Bienvenue (Französisch), Djin dobre (Polnish)*.

Short introduction of the author and who started my dream.

Storytime Bloghop: Canned Food

Welcome to our little Bloghop. Here, you’ll find 15 participating blogs (find the links under this story) who posted one story today. The stories will be available for one week only. So make sure you’ll read them fast! Enjoy.

Canned Food

© Katharina Gerlach

baby-dragon“You will not eat my son!” When Mother roared at Elder, I knew the tribe didn’t want me. I was too small. I mean, Mother wasn’t very big either. The tips of her wings barely reached the shoulder blades of a red-deer, but at least she wasn’t disabled. She hovered in the air in front of Elder and spat tiny flames at him.

“He wouldn’t make a good sized snack even if I top him off with a wild boar,” Elder roared back.

“He’s a true dragon.” Mother’s voice shook with anger, and I feared she’d attack him in her rage. She wouldn’t stand a chance. After all, he was at least three times her age and thus three times her size as well. I lowered my head and crawled toward the cave’s exit avoiding the rest of the tribe as best I could.

“What do you expect,” a matron said. “His father’s a wyrm.” She swiped her tail out of my way as if I were contagious. With a sigh, I returned to the nest waiting for the tribe’s verdict. I no longer thought Mother would be successful, and everybody knew what happened to those fledglings who didn’t get accepted. It was either the cookfires or the lizards. I really, really hoped for the cookfires. At least death would be quick then.

***

After a week with the lizards, I hated them more than ever. There were probably no animals more boring in the whole wide world. They were either eating insects or sitting in the sun to warm up, and if the sun was hiding behind clouds, they hid in the grass from the rain. I couldn’t even talk to anyone since their vocal cords were too different from mine. And they didn’t talk much. All they uttered was a high pitched wail when danger loomed.

“Kiru, kiru.” There they went again. Every single one of them vanished under a stone or in a hole in the ground. But I refused to follow them. Anything was better than their company. So I remained, ready for disaster. A rider approached the mountain glade where I now lived – existed would be more correct. His can, I mean his armor, reflected the light of the setting sun – a George! We hadn’t seen Georges for centuries. Fighting down my excitement, I hoped he wouldn’t find my tribe. We had learned to hide, blending in with our surroundings or hiding underground. But Georges were notorious dragon hunters as I recalled. Only Elder remembered how to beat them.

“Canned food,” he used to call the Georges when he was still telling stories to my siblings and me before it was clear that I wouldn’t grow, would never fly and couldn’t spit a single spark. I focused on the George, pretending that I was made of stone. Sometimes they were stupid enough to believe that, and I was curious. After the most boring week in my life this promised to become an adventure. Would he try to find a dragon to kill or was he simply showing off? I swiveled my eyes gazing around for his entourage, but he was all alone. I noticed that he didn’t even have a lance. That surprised me. I had assumed that Georges would be well equipped for killing dragons. His gaze touched on me, and I immediately closed my eyes. They would be enough to break the illusion of stone upon closer inspection.

“Oh, Wow! What a beautiful carving.” Warm hands picked me up, and I froze my limbs to keep my stance. After all, stone wouldn’t move. I held my breath and listened while he turned me over and over. My heart hammered so hard I could barely make out his words. By now, I scolded myself severely for not hiding. Funnily enough, the material of his gloves and body armor wasn’t as hard as Elder had made it out to be.

“It’s a strange material too,” he mumbled. “It feels nearly real – I wonder who forgot it here. Well, Emily will love it.” He wrapped me into something soft and tied me to his riding animal – which could be what Elder had called a horse, although I never knew that horses were made of metal. I wanted to scream for Mother but knew she wouldn’t come. After it was clear that the council wouldn’t kill me, she had accepted their verdict and renounced me. My throat fell so dry that my electrical gland sizzled. Luckily the George didn’t hear me. He must be deaf. The gentle swaying and bumping of the moving horse calmed my nerves and finally sent me to sleep.

***

grown-dragon“For me?”

The voice that woke me was high but melodic. Immediately I recalled what had happened, adjusted my stance and closed my eyes again.

“I found it in the park.” That was the George. I wondered if Elder had ever tried to talk to Georges. They did speak our language after all.

“Thank you, Daddy.” Someone smacked. I wondered if child-Georges ate their parents. My already tense body cramped, and I struggled not to wriggle. I couldn’t even run away since I was still wrapped up. The child began to free me and I noticed the George standing behind her still dressed in his silvery armor. Wasn’t that terribly uncomfortable? But maybe this newfangled armor no longer came off. What did I know about Georges…

“It’s a dragon! Oh, it’s so beautiful.” The child grabbed me. My belly fitted easily in both of her hands. It became unbearably hard to hold my breath. My mouth felt terribly dry, the electric gland hummed, and my heart hammered as if ready to burst. The child lifted me to her face. White, gleaming teeth were all I could see. I’d had enough. I refused to be eaten – at least not alive. With a whoosh, I let out the breath I had been holding. It hit the electricity from my glands and ignited – you know how it is, youngsters, don’t you?

Screeching, the child let me go, and the ground hurled toward me. Instinctively, I opened my wings, beating furiously to break my fall. Imagine my delight when I suddenly soared toward the ceiling of their abode. The child screamed, her hair slightly singed and wet. The father screamed too. He held an empty vase with the flowers strewn around his daughter. A woman stood in the door, screaming too. I used their confusion and darted toward the big, rectangular hole in the wall through which I could see the mountains in the distance. How could I know that Georges had invented invisible stones? I slammed into the invisible wall and crashed to the ground unconsciously. As I learned later, I cracked a rib and tore my wing when I slammed into the ground.

What, Dearielle?

Oh yes. That is exactly how I met Emily and her family. No, I will not tell you how we returned to Dragon Mountain. That is a story for a different day. Now, close your eyes, sleep tight, and don’t let the Georges bite.

The End

14 More Stories:

Rabia Gale: Spark
K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel
Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue
Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate
Cherie “Jade” Arbuckle: After I Died
Karen Lynn: The Family Book
Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog
Thea van Diepen: Are You Sure It’s That Way?
Paula de Carvalho: Body Double
Kris Bowser: Tantrums
Virginia McClain: Rakko’s Storm
Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl
Elizabeth McCleary: The Door
Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box

Help needed for a German title

If you’ve got a German Amazon account, I need your help. With my newest release (in German, the English version will follow in September) I’m participating in Amazon’s German Storyteller Award. To get through the first round, I’ll need as many downloads as I can get. So I set the introductory price at 99ct (Euro). If you’ve got a German Amazon account, please buy the book. Here are the details:

Ein Fantasy Liebesroman aus dem steinzeitlichen Afrika

Die Sonne brennt auf Juma hernieder, als sie ihre Familie zum größten Dorf des Stammes führt. Nichts und niemand soll sie daran hindern, Schülerin der Stammesführerin zu werden. Also ignoriert sie die Hitze. Am See wird alles besser sein. Doch die Felder, die jetzt eigentlich grünen sollten, liegen trocken vor ihr; die Erde ist rissig und spröde. Sogar der See, dessen Quellen endlos schienen, schwindet langsam.

Juma entdeckt, dass der Feuergott Mubuntu daran Schuld hat und dass die Regengöttin immer noch schläft. Doch nur Netinu, der Sohn der Stammesführerin glaubt ihr und scheint mehr Interesse daran zu haben, sie zu umwerben, als dem Stamm zu helfen. Dazu kommt, dass ihr magisches Talent sie dazu verdammt, Schülerin der Dorfzauberin zu werden. Es ist schwer, die Schadenfreude ihrer Rivalin zu verdrängen. Noch schwerer ist es, Netinu’s Werbung abzuweisen, denn Jumas Herz hat sich längst entschieden. Um den Stamm und Netinu zu retten, versucht sie alles, um der Dorfzauberin zu helfen, die Regengöttin zu wecken. Vergeblich.

Während ihre Träume in Flammen aufgehen, bereitet sich Juma darauf vor, gegen den Feuergott zu kämpfen und die Göttin zu wecken – und vielleicht, um zu beweisen, dass sie die richtige Wahl für eine Nachfolgerin der Stammesführerin wäre.

Thank you for your support!

P.S.: If you can read German and post a review in the 4 weeks after buying this book, send me your receipt and I’ll refund your money.

My very own summer nightmare

In January, I booked a flight for my middle daughter (13) to the US where she wanted to spend time with close friends of mine. The booking went through, and I got an eMail asking me to also book an accompanying service for her at the price of $300 payable upon departure. I did. After all, I want my child to be safe.

In July, I phoned the airline to ask if I could please accompany my daughter to the gate. However, they told my my daughter can’t travel at all because I didn’t book an accompanying service. I’d have to book a new flight plus the service and that’d cost me $1,700 for the flight and $300 for the service. Shocked and frustrated, I called my travel agency and they sorted things out for me (or so I thought). It turned out that the computer system American Airways is using is not compatible with the one US Airways are using, so no one told US Airwaiys that I booked the service. But also, no one told my travel agent or me. After a lot of shouting and insisting, American Airways booked my flight anew, directly through the US Airways system. They charged me $400 (which I thought was way better than close to $2K). So I paid, and they told me that with US Airways, kids under 15 but over 13 can travel unaccompanied so I wouldn’t have to pay the $300. Fine, I thought, all sorted out.

On August 10th I took my daughter to Schipol airport (some 5hrs drive from us) because that was the only place in the North where I could get a direct flight to her destination. I checked her in and asked again if I could walk with her to the gate since she was only 13 and travelling on her own. The clerk informed me that this wasn’t possible because I didn’t have a boarding pass. So when the time came that she had to leave or miss the plane, I hugged her with a heavy heart and let her walk off. She looked so terribly grown up…

Then, I went to search for my car (a feat in itself) and drove 1 1/2 hours to visit an uncle. We ate lunch and talked and had fun, which took my mind off my worries, until a phone call interrupted us. The friend who was taking care of my other daughter told me that the airline had refused to board my daughter and that she was still sitting in Schipol.

After a nervous breakdown, countless phone calls and hectic action, the airline finally admitted that the fault was theirs because no one had told me to go to a ticketing officer to get the REQUIRED!!! accompanying service and pay the fee. I was close to bursting with frustration at that point. Surprisingly, as soon as they found out how terribly misinformed and upset I was, they asked me to come back to Schipol. They checked us into a nice hotel, paid for all expenses, waived the service fee, and let my daughter board the plane on the next day. All I had to do was sign a form.

Naturally, this time I waited until the plane was in the air and the checking clerk confirmed that my daughter was aboard. She’s now with my friends and obviously very happy.

It’s my life (Bon Jovi) … in songs

I woke up with the crazy idea that it should be possible to tell my life’s story in song titles. Since it’s my birthday today, I’m going to do just that. And because I’m bilingual, I’m going to use German and English songs. 😀

What happened so far (condensed version):
Birth: (Here I am, rocked you like a ) Hurricane, Scorpions
Childhood: Wenn ich König von Deutschland wär (if I were king of Germany), Rio Reiser
School: Die pure Lust am Leben (the undiluted joy of living), Geier Sturzflug
Puberty: Smooth Criminal, Michael Jackson
A-Levels: Love is in the air, John Paul Young
Apprenticeship: Die Regenballade (the rain ballad), Achim Reichel & Ina Seidel
University: Life is Live, opus
Scotland: Lord of the Dance, 19th century Shaker tune (here by The Dubliners, and I know they’re NOT Scottish)
PhD: Wishing you were here, Pink Floyd
Wedding: Wolke 4 (cloud 4, its a love song that emphasizes that cloud 7 is mightily high up 😉 ), Philipp Dittberner & Marv
1st Child: Wie schön du bist (how beautiful you are), Sarah Connor
2nd & 3rd Child: Keine ruhige Minute (not a peaceful moment), Reinhard Mey
Writing: Nothing Else Matters, Metallica
Ever since: Paperback Writer, Beatles

Still to come:
Sustainable Success: We are the Champions, Queen
Husband’s Retirement: Wind of Change, Scorpions
The Inevitable End: Sound of Silence, Simon & Garfunkel

Theme:
My Way, Frank Sinatra
and Geh aus mein Herz und suche Freud (go my heart and look for joy), German hymn by Paul Gerhard

I hope you’ll enjoy listening to those songs. They’re a good representation of the styles I enjoy (it’s a little short on classic music which didn’t really fit the idea). And now, I’m challenging William L. Hahn, Rabia Gale, Elizabeth McCleary, Patricia Jankowsky, Jaqueline Spieweg, and David Pawn to show us the playlist of their lives with a minimum of 5 songs plus a live-theme. I’m looking forward to those! 😀

Mark the day in your calendar

On August 26th, you’re going to get a special treat. A couple of authors (me included) have decided to do a Story-Time bloghop which means you’ll get tons of interesting, well written (I know that for sure), brand new and FREE short or flash stories. All are speculative fiction (SciFi and/or Fantasy), all will be online for one week only. So if you want to read the stories, mark August 26th, come to this blog, read my story, and follow one of the links provided to another story (all blogs will be linked in all posts).

MIA – problems piling up unexpectedly

The world gremlins decided to have a go at me. Everything I did aside from writing seems doomed. My motorbike, in urgent need of an MOT, won’t start any more after I took the back wheel out and put it back in. There’s no reasonable explanation why it’d stop working because of that action. My youngest daughter will have to go to the hospital for a few days for an MRI because her feet are turned inward, and I’m worried sick that it might be something serious. And then, there’s the trouble with my middle daughter’s flight to the US in a few weeks:

Anger boiled in her chest hotter than the heatwave outside. A thousand dollars? Where should she take them without stealing? When she booked the flight for her daughter in January, she had thought that the special service required for an under-age child had been booked too, but somehow there had been a hickup. Now, changing the flight would mean buying a new ticket – three weeks before the trip. A nightmare!
How was she going to face her daughter’s disappointment? Bile rose in her chest and her heart hammered like a steam engine. At the same time, her throat constricted and her vision blurred.
She’d tried contacting the travel agency but they’d been playing muzak on the phone for close to 15min so far without anyone feeling the necessity to pick up the receiver and help her. Her annoyance grew. It’d be an effort not to scream at whoever would finally be at the other end – if at all. Grinding her teeth, she tried to ignore the perversely happy song blaring from the phone’s speaker.
Finally, a voice … a young man who let her anger roll off him like water off a duck’s back.
“Yes, Mam, you did send an eMail regarding the special service. Let me see what happened … please hold the line.”
Slightly calmer, she searched her Outbox. There was the eMail in question. How could she have forgotten all about it? Did that mean everything was fine now? The eMail she had answered said something about a fee that needed to be paid. A quick scan of her pass sheets revealed no payment. Had the travel agency answered her eMail in January? She couldn’t remember. She’d have to ask the friendly clerk when he picked up the phone again … toot toot toot – the line went dead.
NO! NOT NOW!
Shaking with anger, she dialed the travel agency’s number again. After maneuvering through the voice guided menu, the artificial announcer said, “Your waiting time is ten minutes.”
By now, she’d been on the phone for close to an hour already and her patience was wearing very, very thin. She closed her eyes and breathed while the muzak kept squawking “summer feelings”.
She needed to DO something or she’d go crazy. Another ten minutes of forced repose would drive her up the walls.
So she opened a document and began to write.
The anger subsided … little by little.
The song became bearable.
Fifteen minutes and counting.
Breathing deeply, not thinking about all the things she still needed to do today seemed to help – a little.
Twenty minutes …
Drat, she had left the eReader on the attic. Did she dare run upstairs? No, better not. It must be any minute now.
Hopefully.
Thirty-five minutes – at least her husband had been so kind to fetch her eReader. Waiting was boring but reading calmed her nerves.
Forty-three minutes – another clerk.
She sighed and repeated her problem, this time making sure they got her phone number to call her back just in case the line broke down again. More waiting while the clerk inquired about her problem, then the reassurance that she’d done everything right. Still, the problem wasn’t solved yet. Someone higher up in the hierarchy had to get back with her to find out why she had neither gotten confirmation for the special service nor the bill that needed to be paid. But for now, it looked as if everything would be sorted out in time for the flight. They promised to call her back tomorrow.

FYI – they haven’t called back yet. Neither have they sent an eMail. Right at this moment, I’m in the waiting line again. No time estimate this time.

FYI-Update – Everything is sorted. The fault lies with American Airlines – they didn’t tell us, that the combination we booked wasn#t possible in their system. At least they waived the horrendous fees they first requested for re-booking the flight, and the travel agency will issue a complaint as well. Still, the fee we’ll have to pay now is ca. 200 € higher than what it would have been in January, but my daughter can fly as planned. So, we’ll have to tighten our belts a little over the next few weeks – or you could buy more books 😀

Despic… I mean Popular Me

It seems I’m getting more popular lately. 😀

Two blogs did Interviews with me, one in German and the other one in English. On DJ Mills’ blog, I return to my starting days and discuss the twisted path I took. The German blog focuses more on my books and how I write them (naturally that interview is in German).

In August, I’ll be participating in a blog hop where several fantasy authors will post a short story on their blogs on the same day. The stories will stay up for one week, and then be pulled. So if you want to read them all, and there are some crazily talented authors participating, mark August the 26th on your calendars.

See you there.

my 3 most important rules for Fantasy

Writing (and reading) Fantasy is supped to be fun. But lately, I find myself not finishing books because imho the author ignored the most important rules. The fist one is the most important one. If it works, I can skip blunders of the other two rules.

Rule 1: Thu shalt not bore the reader

Obviously, this rule applies to all genres not just Fantasy. Unfortunately there are plenty of authors who don’t adhere to this rule. This is an instant “Won’t Buy” sign for me.

Rule 2: If you create something unusual (flying donkeys, two moons or three suns), it must have consequences in your Fantasyworld

Like many people’s, my education was scientifically biased. I always enjoyed the logic behind it. Therefore, nothing annoys me quite as much as a Fantasy-novel where basic rules of nature are ignored without giving a proper reason and without consequences for the world. Consider how many religions surround our single moon. What do your think would happen if you’ve got two moos (regardless the strange effects on ebb and flow)?

Rule 3: Magic complicates matters and doesn’t solve problems

Most Fantasy-novels contain a magical element. Of course, that’s cool and surely one reason why people read Fantasy. Still, an author shouldn’t make the mistake to use Magic to clear away obstacles for the hero (or heroine). On the contrary. To achieve rule one, it is essential that magic complicates the main character’s problems. That can happen for example through “costs” of magic (bodily exhaustion, increased ageing) or through mistakes when used (see Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, originally written by Göthe).

Of course, these rules (aside from rule one) aren’t similarly important to all readers. So, tell me, how do you feel about rules? Which ones are important to you when you read (or write) stories?

revamping Urchin King

As you might have noticed from the number of covers (see here), my first Indie release (Urchin King) is a sort of tryout book for me. I keep fiddling with the cover, the formatting, the blurb… anything, to see what works best so I can apply it to the other books as well.

This time, I decided that the last cover I did, as beautiful as I think it is, doesn’t reach the intended audience (Young Adult). I came up with a completely new cover. Do you think it’s better suited to reach the intended audience? Can you tell how many pictures I used to create it? Do you like it? Do you think the KBR-seal should be bigger (and maybe in a different place)?

Here’s the new cover (I’ll still need to change the German words for their English cousins, don’t worry about that for now). We’ll get to the new blurb soon.

new cover for Urchin King

Cosplayer Twenty-Three

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and another costume that made me shiver…

There were plenty more wonderful costumes (I even met Mononoke Hime from Miazaki’s Princess Mononoke film, and it was my favorite costume), but my camera fell down and didn’t work properly any more after that. I was quite sorry about that, but enjoyed the costumes nonetheless.