Something cool after this heat-wave :D

I asked my friend Thea van Diepen from Canada to tell me about a weird place she read in. This is her reply. Have fun.

Why You Should Read at Hockey Games by Thea van Diepen

Canadian Minion?

Canadians are supposed to love hockey. When we attend hockey games, we’re supposed to cheer on a team or an individual with vim and vigour, especially when we’re in another country. They must know we are not American Canadian, after all. What we’re not supposed to do during a hockey game is read a book.

When I was about eleven, in the middle of my family’s three years in Alabama, we found out about a hockey game happening in town. So my parents bought tickets.

At the time, I was busy working my way through all of the science fiction and fantasy books our local library had in its MG/YA section. I’d take out as many as I was allowed at a time (aka, a lot) and read them all in a couple days. The book I was in the middle of when the hockey game even occurred was Colors in the Dreamweaver’s Loom by Beth Hilgartner, which had me fascinated. So fascinated that, book lover as I am, I brought it with me to the game despite lingering guilt.

It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t Canadian exactly how… Canadian hockey is. Tim Horton’s, the coffee and doughnuts chain that has also been a Canadian Thing, was started by a hockey player and its ads and commercials would feature kids playing hockey. It’s our official winter sport. It’s all over TV and social media when the season hits, during draft picks, whenever anyone might have the slightest excuse to mention it. And, yes, it was invented in Canada, no matter what anyone else might say.

*cough*

Still, I am not a hockey person. Shocking, I know.

I would have not gone to the game at all, if possible, but my parents cajoled me.

“There are a bunch of Canadian players on both teams,” they said.

Which, as far as cajoling goes, worked. Moving to another country had been hard for me, and I was determined not to lose my Canadianness while there. Maybe it’d be interesting enough that I wouldn’t have to read to relieve boredom.

We went in, found our seats, and commented about how we never thought we’d find a real ice rink in Alabama. I’m not sure how much of this I joined in, as I opened my book as soon as I possibly could. And, swoosh, I was sucked right into the story. Hockey didn’t even stand a chance.

Outside of the world of the book and Zan’s adventures in an alternate world, hockey players made goals. Half-time happened. Canadians did cool things on the ice. Other vague events occurred.

Inside the book, I travelled with Zan as she both dealt with grief after her father’s death and tried to find a way to help the Orathi keep their land from being taken. There were shapeshifters, spirit-gifts, gods, and the Dreamweaver doing her best to help using a loom that can affect the actions and choices of others. With the last being the coolest world detail ever. There were characters that I loved and connected with. I wanted them to succeed. I wanted them to find happiness.

(And then there was the ending, but I won’t spoil that one for you. Just, if you do decide to read it, keep in mind that there’s a sequel… the author doesn’t hate you, promise.)

Even in the action and excitement around me, it all paled next to the book that had me riveted.

It’s easy to read a book and enjoy it when life is calm and you sit in a pleasant garden by yourself on a warm day.

But, from time to time, you may want to try reading a book during a hockey game. That’s when you know you have magic in your hands.
When have you been sucked into a story this way? What book was it?

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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.

I’ll leave this post online until the 9th of September. After that, I’ll be cutting it down to the beginning. I’ll leave the links though.

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.

… this story will be published in December in time fro Christmas with a second story about a dragon. If you want to be notified about the release, join my reader team.

 

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

 

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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?

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the final day

Sorry for the delay in posting about the final day of the book fair. When I sat down to write it yesterday, I opened my Inbox to 160 eMails with only a very small percentage of spam. Also, I had forgotten about an important meeting I had to go to in my lunch break. So instead of getting things done, I helped my kids with their appointments. Life happens. 😉

Now to the book fair. The final day was less busy than the Saturday. Still, the book fair had a new visitor record. Two hundred and ten thousand people wanted to see what’s new. When I roamed the halls, I had the feeling that at least a third of them came dressed up, although I’m sure it only felt that way.

my FlyerThe Sunday was also the best day for selling books, especially since we were allowed to sell them without paying a commission to the mess after 3pm. Naturally, we didn’t sell quite as many books as we wanted or had taken along, but we did sell some. And more important, we were seen. I managed to give away more than 300 free eBooks (printed and signed, see picture). Since the idea of a printed eBook is relatively unheard of so far in Germany, I’m sure that most people will download the eBook and read it. I already see spikes in my download statistic. I just hope that the readers will move on to my other books as well. 😉

Toward evening, the crowd began to thin out. I saw the best Cosplay costume (Mononoke Hime from the film Princess Mononoke) but couldn’t take a photo because I had left my camera at the booth. Sigh… Still, I can picture it in my mind and it was truly gorgeous.

I was extremely grateful for the two colleagues who stayed to the end with me and helped to empty the booth. We were done in record time and I was home before my kids went to sleep. That was a wonderful conclusion to a great weekend. I hope I’ll be able to repeat that next year.

Over the next few days, I’ll post a couple of the Cosplayers I photographed to showcase how much time and effort some people put into their costumes. I’ll also post the promised pictured of our booth, of Boris, and of my fellow German Qindie-authors.

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I’m blaming the weather…

Up to this weekend, the weather has been much to my liking; not too warm, not too cold, not too dry and not too wet. However, this Pentecost weekend is growing hotter and dryer by the minute. I’m really happy that we insulated our house or I’d have dried out by now.

With the summer came an avalanche of work. Ever since I opened my kickstarter (btw, it’s still running a few more days), I started connecting with people I never would have thought of. Even if the campaign doesn’t fund, it looks as if my dream-project will still come true. We’ll see. As soon as I’ve got something definite, I will keep you posted, promised.

Meanwhile, I’m preparing for the release of my friend Will Hahn’s novel. I’ll be featuring him and his release here on this blog on the 17th of June (please come by and win something). At the same time, I’m preparing some of my short stories for release. Proofreading took much longer than I had anticipated though, but that shouldn’t delay the release for long. And last but not least, I finished planning the overall structure of my first planned series. The first volume is already written (has been for a while) and I’m currently translating it.

You see, I’m so terribly busy I simply forgot to post on my blog. I’m sorry and blame it all on the weather. Who do you blame if you can’t keep up with the requirements of life?

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Blog Tour Giveaway

Blog Tour Badge Urchin King

My blog tour started on the 9th with lots of excerpts and spotlights. Today, I’m over on Niecey’s Book Addiction with a guest post. Look at her blog and say hello.

Also, I decided to do a Giveaway to celebrate my first ever blog tour. Here’s your chance to win. The giveaway will be open until midnight EST on the 23rd of December. So, go ahead and do it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review Monday: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

I read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken first when I was twelve, and it was one of my favorites immediately. I keep rereading the whole series all the time and still find it fascinating.

About the Book:
Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie’s parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture is sold, and Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a prison-like orphan school. It seems as if the endless hours of drudgery will never cease. With the help of Simon the gooseboy and his flock, they escape. But how will they ever get Willoughby Chase free from the clutches of the evil Miss Slighcarp?

My thoughts:
These were truly believable characters, and they were dropped into a really nasty situation. No one likes losing their parents, but adding the loss of their home topped it all. I loved the way the two girls never let themselves get down. They fought back with everything they had. Since this story takes place in an England with slightly alternate history, the story also taught me (unconsciously) about the way of live in GB. Joan Aiken is a genius. What I loved best about this series is that she took one minor character from the first book and made him the hero of the next and so on. That way, there was always room for the characters to grow, and I was never bored. I might borrow this idea some day. 😉
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Review Monday: Ordinary Princess

When I began reading English, my Scottish mother (adopted) bought me a book. It was quite slim so I wasn’t too frightened to try, and it turned into one of my all time favorites to this day. The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye is a story for all ages.

About the book:
Along with Wit, Charm, Health, and Courage, Princess Amy of Phantasmorania receives a special fairy christening gift: Ordinariness. Unlike her six beautiful sisters, she has brown hair and freckles, and would rather have adventures than play the harp, embroider tapestries… or become a Queen. When her royal parents try to marry her off, Amy runs away and, because she’s so ordinary, easily becomes the fourteenth assistant kitchen maid at a neighboring palace. And there… much to everyone’s surprise… she meets a prince just as ordinary (and special) as she is!

My thoughts:
This book shows everyone that ordinariness or it’s opposite lie in the eye of the beholder. Princess Amy is anything but ordinary. Her problem is that she’s not what her parents want her to be. She doesn’t behave like princesses are supposed to, and she isn’t fixated on beauty (hard to do when you’ve got freckles believe me). When her parents come up with a nightmare idea to marry her, she takes matters into her own hands. This is the absolute anti-Cinderella story and that’s why I love it so much. It contains just as much romance and some typical fairy tale elements, but it twists them in a way that makes them new and exciting. If you haven’t yet, give this story a try. It’s not very expensive and you can get it as an eBook too.
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Review Monday: Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones

My absolute favorite author is Diana Wynne Jones who died in March 2011 unfortunately. She managed to create something new with every single one of her stories. Not like some big successes (HarryP cough, cough), where the same story repeats with slight variants. Every single one of Diana’s works is unique, the characters so alive they could jump right from the page into real life. Of course, it’s difficult to choose one from the big list (she wrote countless stories, here an overview). They are all great. The first story I ever read from her (I was 10 years old) was “Charmed Life“, the first volume in the Crestomanci series (all books can be read independently from each other). Till today, it’s still one of my most favorite stories.

 

Charmed LifeAbout the book:

Cat doesn’t mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Ancient and turreted, the castle is every bit as grand as Gwendolen had hoped. But there are disappointments. No butler opens the door to her, no lavish banquets are given in her honor. Instead, she and Cat have to do lessons in the schoolroom with Chrestomanci’s two children, and worse of all she is forbidden to practice magic except under supervision. Frustrated, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack.

 

My thoughts:

From the first page, I hated Gwen (I still do but not as strongly as back then – come on, it’s been more than 30 years). She is a beast, and her brother Cat always has to bear the blame for her tricks. When they arrive at Crestomanci’s, Gwen seems to be close to her goal, but she gets worse with anger because the big magician simply ignores her. Crestomanci is so disinterested, the reader considers him absentminded. As a child, I was sometimes very angry with him because he didn’t help Cat one little bit. But of course, there is a really good reason (as always with Diana Wynne Jones) for his actions. What a pity I can’t tell you. You’ll have to read the book yourself.

After I read this book (and others by DWJ), I knew I wanted to write Middle Grade and Young Adult books like this one day. Now, my dream is slowly coming true.

How about you? What’s your favorite book? Do you know Diana Wynne Jones (maybe from the cinema where one of her books was turned into a movie titled “Howl’s Moving Castle“)? Leave me a comment and I promise to answer.

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Review Monday: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I know, I have been neglecting this site somewhat lately. It wasn’t on purpose. With the kids on holiday, my schedule went haywire, and I decided to focus on getting me next books ready for publication. In the next months, you can expect at least 5 more eBooks to see the light of day, starting with a YA Fantasy set in Scotland, my favourite country in the world. But now, to the review.

 

The Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanAbout the book:

After unknown strangers kill his parents, Nobody Owens, known as Bod, grows up in a cemetery, protected by ghosts and his guardian, a creature between life and death. They teach him as best they can, although some ideas they have are rather old-fashioned. Then, one day, Bod meets a strange girl-ghost near the wall of the end of the cemetery who wishes for a real tombstone. But when he leaves the cemetery, he alerts the old evil that’s still looking for him.

 

My thoughts:

Imho, this is not Neil Gaiman at his best, but it is a pleasurable read for younger children. Neil’s strength lies with creating wonderful worlds with rich backgrounds and well thought out rules. His characters however sometimes fall a little flat, especially the villains. The Graveyard Book is absolutely wonderful up to the point where the villain shows up for the third time. After that, it became utterly predictable for me, and I thought that a pity. Sure, the average MG reader probably won’t notice (having read much less than I did) but considering it’s Neil Gaiman we’re talking about here, he could have done better.

That said, I loved the cemetery crew. There are some brilliant characters hidden away in there, so the book is worth a read. Maybe my disappointment was due to the fact that most of Gaiman’s other work is so much more than this was. Still, if I had to give stars (like on amazon), I would still give it 4 of 5 without hesitation. I hope you will enjoy it.
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