“I like living here with you alone.” My daughter set aside another darned sock. “Not to forget that the inquisition will never find us here.”
I smiled at her to show her how much I love her, but in secret I longed for something more important to do than making a living. I sighed and went back to my spinning. The regular rhythm and Melinda’s breathing relaxed me and the internal unrest subsided until the peace of our evening routine was disturbed, when something heavy thunked against the window of our little cottage. Since it was dark outside we couldn’t exactly see what it was. My fingers stopped turning the spindle, and we both held our breath, fearing the same. But there was no screaming, no pitchforks, and most of all no fire. Slightly relieved but still wary, I called. “Who’s there?”
“Sh-sh-l ivri” The voice sounded muffled, as if it held something in its mouth and was trying to talk around it. Melinda looked at me, and I looked at Melinda.
“I know someone who talks that way,” I whispered. “But this is a different voice.”
Whoever was outside the window bumped against the delicate pane that kept out the winds. If it broke, winter would send its icy fingers into our home, so I got to the door and opened. But not without stopping at the hearth and picking up the biggest knife we owned. I dropped it the minute the door swung open and revealed a roughly human sized dragon with red scales and a bundle of cloth hanging from its maw. When he saw Melinda standing behind me, he took the bundle out of his mouth and moved his jaw from side to side to loosen the muscles.
“I don’t understand why the boss insists on carrying it in my mouth,” he said and handed the bundle to her. “Special delivery for you. New Stork Inc. sends their congratulations. You’ll find a welcome bonus packed right in.”
With shaking fingers Melinda opened the bundle.
“It’s a boy,” the dragon said needlessly. “Plus a few nappies.”
Melissa’s face mirrored the shock that kept me rooted to the spot. I had to clear my throat several times before I managed to speak. “Why’s Stork sending us a baby? We never ordered one.”
“New policy.” The dragon smiled, displaying more teeth that I was currently happy with. I swallowed, and he smiled some more. “We’ve got a few remnants that need old-style distribution. Your daughter was one of the candidates the boss chose.”
“Remnants? Come in and explain.” I stepped aside. I’d been one of Stork’s helpers for as long as I remembered, learning the midwife’s trade from my mother and passing on my knowledge to Melinda. However, since the inquisition started burning midwifes as witches, we’d gone into hiding. So far successful.
The dragon curled up in front of the hearth, enjoying the warmth of the fire. He puffed a few happy smoke curls before he got to the point. “Stork lost a lot of his delivery crew when the inquisition decided stork deliveries were not real and anyone believing in it was superstitious and needed to be punished. People actually started shooting storks then, I guess because they’re hungry.” He stared into the flames for a while, and I took up my spindle again. He sighed contently. “Well, as I said, Stork lost a lot of his crew that way, so he decided to go direct with a delivery system designed to work without stork transportation. I helped him set up the system. It took quite a lot of magic to get it working properly, believe me.”
“Direct?” My mind whirred. “Stork-free delivery?”
“Well, the seeds get harvested when they’re still in single cell state, and a magical tube shoots them directly into the mother’s belly. It’s a marvel. It really is.” He preened his claws and looked smug. “And I was a major part in developing that system if I may point that out.”
How could Stork send babies straight to the mothers? Into their bellies if I hadn’t misheard. My eyes widened when I realized what that meant. “If he sends the parcel into the mother, it must come back out at some point, right?”
“Yup, and that’s why he’s inviting you to an advanced training in what he calls ‘birth’. That’s short for ‘binary inter-rump transfer holistics’, the name of the new technique. The participants of this course will have to spread the word.”
Suddenly I saw my life stretching out in front of me – always traveling, helping women through ‘birth’ and teaching Stork’s new deliver method throughout the country as best I could while evading inquisition. Ever so often I’d visit Melinda who had to stay behind to take care of her son. Suddenly, Life was exciting again.
Today is the 4th of December and silly me forgot to let you know that the annual Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar has opened its doors again. If you love a surprise story every day, it’s THE place to bookmark. And if you sign up for the alert, you’ll get a bonus every day (a picture, a poem, a recipe or another story), and the eBook with all stories and bonuses on Christmas Day.
Do you love supporting awesome authors and grabbing FREE books at the same time? Well here’s your chance. Get 22 YA novels totally FREE. Check out the teasers and descriptions on this page, choose the ones that look good to you, or grab them all! You’ll be taken to Instafreebie, who will give you the book via email (don’t worry — it’s quick, easy, and painless). The author may follow up with you and check in on you now and again because we all love chatting with our readers.
A quarter of a year passes so fast, I hardly ever realize how much time has gone again. And that’s me nearing 50 already. Luckily I’m still feeling much, much younger (also due to being in love with the same man for more than 30 years, methinks). So here we are, closing in on Halloween and Christmas with our next Bloghop.
My middle daughter is a great fan of Australia (probably inherited from her mother — me). Her favorite band is 5SoS, she’s interested in Aboriginal history (did a voluntary presentation in school about it), and the wildlife. I’m sure she’d love to travel to Australia just to see everything with her own eyes. So naturally, I came up with a way she could get there. Enjoy the story (as always there are links to more stories at the end of this post).
Do you believe in magic? Visit Australia for a tenth of the usual price. Information at St. Paul’s chapel, Kirkstreet, Monday 5pm
With the music of an Australian band filling my little living room, I stared at the ad trying not to get my hopes up. Australia was my dream country. I’d read all the books, seen all the films, and carried around a first aid kit with everything needed to cope with snake bites, including antidotes to the most common poisons. Not that I ever needed it though. I’d been saving every penny for as long as I could remember, and it still wasn’t enough – not even for a one way ticket. By my estimate I’d be fifty before I would have the funds for a three month holiday. So what did I have to lose?
I entered St. Paul’s chapel a little late and discovered I was the only visitor. The hollow feeling in my gut deepened. I had known the ad’s offer was too good to be true. I turned to flee, but the exit was blocked by an Aborigine in a loincloth and nothing else.
“Welcome. I am very glad you came.” His wrinkled face contorted to the friendliest smile I’d ever seen. He grabbed my hands and pulled me to a mattress lying in the space between the front row of the pews and the altar. “Please, sit down with me. You could be in Australia in less than five minutes.”
My hands grew clammy. Was this real or had I fallen into the clutches of a fraud? One thing was sure, he felt my desperation, my longing. Well, he wouldn’t swindle me out of my hard earned savings. “I don’t have any money.” And that wasn’t even much of a lie.
“Don’t worry about something so inconsequential.” The Aborigine sat on the mat with crossed legs and pointed to the other side. “Please do let me explain. It all comes down to the Dreaming.”
“Dreaming?” I had read about their religion. It consisted of thousands of stories about the beginning of the world and the Aborigines’ ancestors. What did that have to do with me visiting Australia? This was all too confusing. Still I sat down against better judgment. Maybe I could learn something new.
“If you believe it or not, I come from a time before the white man came to Australia. The ancestors took me here and promised to find me a person who can help me, and they did.” He smiled again, and without reason, I relaxed. “Back home, my son went on a Walkabout to be worthy of becoming leader of our tribe. On the day he should have returned, I found him semi-conscious not far from our village. He’d been bitten by a desert death adder which was strange since they are usually very reluctant to do so. I called upon the ancestors, and they took me here and sent you to me. Will you come with me to save my son?” He looked at me with puppy dog eyes. How could I refuse the plea, especially since I couldn’t lose? Best case, I’d get to see at least a little bit of Australia. Worst case, I’d waste a little time to please an old lunatic. So I nodded.
He took my hands, and the persistent hum of a didgeridoo filled my mind, taking all light with it. The droning sounded like a busy beehive, but it held a melody that grabbed my heart and puled me along. When words joined the song, the light returned. I found myself under a sky with a full moon and the Southern Cross that I’d only seen on TV. Scents, aromatic and wild, filled my nose, and the buzzing of insects joined the song.
The old man sat under an eucalyptus tree, playing the didgeridoo. Beside him lay a man maybe in his early thirties. He was breathing hard and sweating profoundly. Luckily the moon’s light was enough to see the bite wound on his ankle. I took my first aid kit out of my handbag, and used the pump to suck out as much poison as I could. The man moaned. When I was sure I’d done the best I could, I filled a syringe with the antidote and injected it into his bloodstream. Hopefully it would be enough to counteract the poison. Desert death adders had a lot of poison in their bite. My prayers joined the old man’s song and together we waited.
When morning dawned, the younger man’s breathing became regular, he stopped sweating, and fell into a peaceful slumber.
The old man stopped playing. As the melody ended, I was sucked back into darkness. All I heard were is parting words.
“Thank you. We owe you a much longer visit.”
When a hand touched my shoulder, I opened my eyes. I was lying on the mattress in St. Paul’s, and a young Aborigine woman bent over me with a smile on her face.
“So, you are here after all. I didn’t expect great-grandfather’s tales to be true. Honored to meet you,” she said and helped me up. Then, she crossed the arms before her chest and bowed. “I have come to fetch you to Australia for a few months as my great-grandfather requested.” When she straightened again, a smile lit up her face that reminded me a lot of the old man’s. “And we all thought you’d be a figment of great-grandpa’s dreams.”
Ever since spring I had meant to add all the books I published last year, but I only get round to it now. Somehow time seems to go faster with every year (Help! I’m getting old). Yesterday I got started.
The overview of my books is done, but some of the individual book pages are still missing. Therefore you’ll stumble over an “Under Construction” sign in some places for a while. Don’t be annoyed. It was the only way to avoid dead links.
I promise to work as quickly as I can, after all I want to be done before November. As always I’m starting NaNoWriMo, a month where authors all over the world try to write 50,000 words, on November 1st. If one can write every day, one needs to get 1667 words per day. Since I have to take the weekends off (due to my children), I need to write 2381 words. That doesn’t sound like much but is hard work if the words are supposed to make sense. copying the word NaNoWriMo 50,000 times is not an option for me. 😀
By the way, next week there’ll be another episode of our quarter annual Storytime Bloghop. My story will be in English and German (as always) and only available for a limited time. I hope you’re looking forward to it.
Together with my book, you can get more than 40 other speculative fiction eBooks for free in this promotion. It is open until September 14th. Go and grab your copies now (you’ll have to find the books you’re interested in on a retailer if you want to read the blurb). I am giving away Amadi, the Phoenix, the Sphinx, and the Djinn.
It was one of the first books I published. Back then, I knew next to nothing about cover art, coding, or creating print books. Since I’ve learned a lot in these areas, I updated the story about a girl in an Arabian Night’s setting. To celebrate the re-release I am giving the story away through instaFreebie until the 14th of September. Get the book here.
About the book
Amadi enjoys the busy frenzy the souk and tries to escape the harem her stepmother rules as often as possible. Unlike her sister Bülbül she feels caged, not protected. When Bülbül becomes engaged against her will, Amadi longs to evade a similar kismet.
Luckily a master thief wants her as an apprentice, and she grabs the chance to live like a boy. Too bad that she and her teacher become targets of a jackal-headed god of death and an assassin when they accept an assignment from a magic-using customer.
Who wants them dead so badly remains a mystery she must solve to survive. And now that she fell head over heels in love, she very much wants to live. With her life spinning out of control, will her skills be enough to save her … and, maybe, the caliphate too?
After debating with myself for quite a while, I decided to join a promotion of several fantasy, SciFi, and horror authors. For the next three days, we bring to you a plethora of free novels.
I revamped the cover of my novel “Juma’s Rain” (it seems the US audience didn’t much like the mostly bare bottom of the main character despite the fact the story is set in Stone Age Africa) and decided it’s time for some visibility. It is now free for anyone who likes Romantasy (Fantasy and Romance).
The sun’s rays parch Juma as she leads her all male family toward the main village. Nothing and no one will stop her from becoming the chieftess’ apprentice. So she ignores the heat. Everything will be better near the lake. But the fields that should sprout green by now lie bare, with precious soil cracked and dry. Even the lake, thought to be everlasting, dwindles.
Juma discovers that heat dæmon Mubuntu is out of control and that the rain goddess is still sleeping. But only Netinu, the chieftess’ son, believes her, and he seems more interested in courting her than in the welfare of the tribe.
With her dreams going up in flames, Juma prepares to battle the dæmon and wake the goddess – and maybe, in the process, prove herself worthy of becoming chieftess.
The eBook also contains the novella “The Rain Maiden” by Theodor Storm
A few words from me about the idea for the novel
The main character was named after my World Vision Goddaughter from Kenya. However, I made sure their characters differed greatly. After all this is a made-up Fantasy story. It is loosely based on Theodor Storm’s novella “Die Regentrude” (Germany 1863) but is set in Africa in a tribe of the little known Nok. All we know about this culture is that they left very beautiful clay statues and kilns behind. As far as we know, they went directly from using stone to iron tools without first using copper and brass like the rest of the word. What little I was able to find out about the Nok, I found so fascinating that I wanted to make them come alive again. And what better way to do that than with a love story.
Yes, it’s that time again. Here’s the Storytime Bloghop for June. This time we have 12 participants (including me) and their stories. Enjoy. Here’s mine
“Lobster One. Report to base.” The voice from the loudspeaker crackled. The lonely bluish gray crustacean on the bridge sighed. Luckily the trip was nearly over, so he needn’t worry about repairing it any longer. His long-range sensors had already caught the data stream of a suitable planet.
“Lobster One reporting. Possible planet found. Commencing scouting endeavor. Requesting full weapon access.”
“The use of all weapons has been approved. Good luck, Lobster One.”
A few seconds later the vessel slowed and found a place in the orbit of the planet. It looked promising with its wide expanse of water. With a little terraforming it would surely not be a problem to submerge most of the land masses.
Lobster One observed the planet from above for four days. They were the hardest days of his voyage since he had to remain on high alert due to space junk. When is data scan was finally complete, he marvelled at the results. The planet was perfect except for one, minor detail. It held a semi-intelligent species, some kind of ape-like creature walking on two legs mostly warring against each other. Their weaponry would not suffice to stop an invading army from his home planet.
Lobster One decided it was time for a peek. Since the planet’s atmosphere was too thin for his breathing organs he ordered the ships transporter to deposit him in the middle off the biggest ocean. What was that? Why couldn’t he breathe? His handheld scanner showed that he was surrounded by water. He should not have difficulties breathing. Still his intake valves seemed to be clogged. He used up eight of the ten time intervals he could hold his breath to clean the valves and grab a water sample. Then he reprogrammed the transporter to deposit him in a different ocean. Thankfully he sucked in oxygen.
A strange undercurrent caught him unaware and pulled him along. The more he tried to escape the current, the faster it got. More and more crustaceans appeared around him. Although they were a lot smaller than him they resembled each other strongly. Just when he realized that the tiny creatures around him were not intelligent, they were lifted out of the water and dumped onto a big metal surface.
“Oh look, we caught a lobster!” His universal translator managed to make sense of the garbled noises of the ape-man. “Finally something better to eat then shrimps.”
Lobster One froze. These creatures ate crustaceans? What kind of world was this? Where there more predators specialized on cracking exoskeletons? With small sound that the ape-man didn’t even notice Lobster One activated the transporter and returned to his ship.
During the next three hours he set up a new scan with very specific parameters. It took the ship a whole week to complete.
The perfect planet he thought he had found was infested with creatures hunting and eating crustaceans. Commercial calculations showed that even if they eliminated the worst few species the whole ecosystem would collapse. Defeated, Lobster One reported his failure, set course to the next planet, and began to repair the loudspeaker.
Here are the links to the other stories. Enjoy them and please leave comments. We can only improve our craft if you let us know what works and what doesn’t. Thanks for reading.
I’ve read the first two books in this series and loved them. So it was a no-brainer when Rabia Gale approached me about the cover reveal. I can tell you, you’re in for a visual treat. All three covers are brilliant and vibrant in their colors, just like the stories behind them (I’m assuming the third is going to be just as good as the first one and will buy a copy as soon as it is available).
Let me introduce you to Rabia Gale and her “Sunless World” series:
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!
I’m delighted to reveal the cover for my upcoming release, Flare, Book Two of The Sunless World, an epic fantasy series with a steampunk flavor.
Rafe and Isabella are back
The mages of old saved their world, but left it in eternal darkness. Now it’s time to bring back the light.
After two years of training his magical gifts, Rafe returns home to a land wracked by war. Desperate states struggle to protect their resources of luminous quartz. Magic pulses and earthquakes devastate a world on the brink of extinction.
Rafe’s old enemy Karzov has gathered a band of prodigies obedient to his will. He seeks the power of the ancient mages for an audacious and sinister purpose. It’s up to Rafe and his ally, Isabella, to stop him—and undo the mistakes of the past to put their world right again.
Flare will be out in September 2016!
The Sunless World series
“Quartz: The Sunless World introduces a rich and credible backdrop to the adventures of her characters, with a deadly political mire underlying the bright colours of high society.” – By Rite of Word Reviews
“This story is fast, fascinating and highly recommended.” – Amazon.com review
The Sunless World series begins with Quartz (Book One) and Flux (A Sunless World Novel).
About the Author
I create weird worlds full of magic and machines, and write characters who are called on to be heroes. I’m fascinated by light and darkness, transformation, and things that fly. Giant squid and space dragons appear in my work—you have been warned!
A native of Pakistan, I now reside in Northern Virginia, where I read, write, doodle, avoid housework, and homeschool my children.