Pst, it’s me again. You can now get my fairy tale retellings in four bundles with really cool covers. Each omnibus got a brand new, never before published bonus story. If you haven’t read the tales yet, go and get them:
Today, you’ll get a free short story from me. I was asked to include: Valentine or Love or Anti-Love, Cat, Grimoire and Fire. I hope you’ll like what I came up with. Again there’s a list of more participants of this BlogHop after my story. Enjoy and leave a comment!
Heart of Fire
Going to the Witch Hunt Remembrance Fire with Gregory had been Jackie’s desire since she’d been allowed to go the first time at age thirteen. Two years later, her biggest dream was about to come true.
Fighting her elation, she’d put on her best black dress—the one that looked least sun-bleached—and even found a purple scarf with matching stockings that would go with it. Unfortunately there wasn’t much she could do about her squished witch’s hat or her sturdy boots. With the family finances like they were, she had to wear what they could afford.
How had Gregory noticed her? Normally, he only hung out with the in-crowd. It didn’t matter. He was going to take her along as his partner, not any of the other girls.
Wrapped in a wide, black cloak she’d inherited from her gran—one of the last True Witches—Jackie waited for her beau. Her heart beat frantically when the limousine stopped in front of her house.
But no one opened the door for her, and when she climbed inside on her own, the long interior room with the dark blue velvet seats was empty. Even the tinted glass between her and the driver was closed. She’d never felt this lonely. The disappointment gnawed at her heart.
Just as she was about to step back out, the limousine drove off. The door closed with a thud, and Jackie fell into one of the soft velvet seats.
The sound came from one of the hidden compartments near the front of the long room, and the order was indisputable. Wrapped as tightly into her cape as possible, Jackie opened the small door, ready for a furred fury to attack anyone in sight. She’d never been particularly good with familiars.
But the cat—a black tom with white front paws—just walked out, tail held high and meowed again as if to say, “What took you so long?” It turned and stared at Jackie.
A few heartbeats later, the limousine stopped and the door was ripped open.
“There’s tonight’s princess!” Gregory’s voice was like honey and made her knees wobble.
The tom mewed in disdain, scratching the extended hand before Jackie could grab it.
“Yikes, why did you bring that monster?” Gregory sucked at his fingers while Jackie climbed out of the limousine.
“He isn’t mine. He was locked in a compartment.” Why did she have the feeling she had to defend herself?
Gregory grunted and took her upper arm. None too gently, he pulled her on the path uphill, toward the bonfire. As tradition demanded, it burnt in a ring of stones on top of an airy hill next to a spring. All four elements combined were the token that the witch hunts would never return. By the elements, the last few True Witches had made peace with the None Talented a century or so ago.
Jackie was looking forward to dancing around the fire. When the flames died down, those whose powers had already manifested would jump through the flames, the others would wait to jump the glowing embers.
Jackie loved the flames. In her family most members were fire witches. She breathed in the aromatic scent of smoking wood. It seemed to be calling for her, but no. It was just the dratted cat, hissing at Gregory.
Only when they neared the groups of teens dancing around the flames did she notice that no adults were around.
Where were the supervisors? She would never have gotten permission to come if the school hadn’t promised to bring in supervisors. And Gregory’s grip on her arm was beginning to hurt. Just as she was about to turn to head home—even with Gregory by her side she wasn’t ready to face the school bullies without adults nearby—two heavily built young men approached. Thank the Mother, Gregory has brought his bodyguards to protect me. Jackie relaxed as they stepped beside her.
“You’re sure about this?” Gregory asked someone behind Jackie.
“Witches take up to fifteen minutes to catch fire.” It was Dina’s voice, and it seemed to douse Jackie in ice water.
Gregory nodded to his bodyguards. Four strong hands grabbed Jackie’s arms. And before she could so much as protest, she flew into the heart of the fire.
The heat and the smoke from the burning timbers stung on her skin and made breathing hard. She teared up. Tendrils of fire seemed to wrap around her arms and legs, prolonging the flight. Hot air whipped up her hair and made it dance.
Meow! The tom jumped after her, and they hit the white hot coals throwing up a shower of sparks. Jackie fell forward and her hand landed on a searingly hot pebble. Still her fingers closed around it instinctively. To examine it, she blinked away her tears. They dropped onto the hot stone with tiny hisses, their vapor licked up by flames and carried away by the hot air.
Then the pebble changed. It expanded, grew rectangular and flat and softened to the touch. The corners turned to gilded metal. A grimoire? Only the rare True Witches owned one.
Jackie was so excited, she didn’t notice the fire’s discomfort any longer.
“I knew it,” the tom said. “From the moment I set my eyes on you, I knew you’re a True Witch. One of the few that can balance all four elements.”
“You can talk?” All of a sudden, Gregory, Dina, and all the others were farther away than the moon.
“How else do you expect me to teach you?” The tom sat down and began to lick his up-stretched hind leg. “Aren’t you going to punish them?”
“Now, that sounds like a really good idea.” Jackie grinned and pulled the fire to her. Flicker by glow by flame, it came to her, climbed her legs, spread over her body, her face, her hair, and her arms. Like a living torch, she stepped off the bonfire.
Gregory turned paler than the white sand of the sea, and if not for his bodyguards, he would have dropped where he stood. They carried him downhill as fast as they could. Following them, Dina screamed like a banshee as she ran. Most of the other kids fled too. Only a few reached for blankets and the fire extinguisher valiantly.
Before they could do anything, Jackie sent the flames back to the bonfire.
“All the better for us,” she said to the stunned helpers and pointed to the long table covered with delicacies. “Let’s party!”
The tom stalked off the bonfire and sat beside her. “I’m quite proud you didn’t hurt anyone.”
“They’ll be running home to mommy and daddy, wailing about murdering me.” Jackie spoke with a new spark in her voice. “Let them get themselves into trouble for a while.”
“I knew, you’d be the right kind of witch for me.” The tom lolled his tongue and it looked just like he was laughing.
More participants of the BlogHop and their stories:
III – The Empress by Raven O’Fiernan
Recognition by Sara R. Cleveland
Careful What You Wish For by Nic Steven
Jesse and Tyler by Bill Bush
Sweet Vengeance by Sabrina Rosen
Patent of Marriage by Grace Craddock
Love, Drunk, and Cupid by Jemma Weir
Stop Dragon My Heart Around by Elizabeth McCleary
Any Other Way by Barbara Lund
Date Swap by Sandra Kleinschmitt
#free #stories #fairytaleretelling #publication #eBook #book
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Welcome to the new year. Hopefully 2021 will be better to us, even though it started out with a BANG (not only in the news but in my family too). Before you’re scared off by the rant that’s following (only this once, promised), please leave your wishes for subjects or themes I should be blogging about. I’ve run out of ideas again but would love to create a list of interesting topics like last year to help me through the year. Just leave me a topic in the comments.
And now back to the two ps I’m not going to mention again after this post: the current political upheavals and the pandemic. We’ll start with the latter. I know the restrictions for the pandemic are hard for everyone, but don’t forget that everyone suffers for the sake of their fellow humans. But that is not the only way how you can help if you want.
Do you have a family member, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance you haven’t been in contact for a while? Call them. Make sure they’re okay, that no black clouds are hanging over them. Depression sneaks up on you and sometimes you don’t even know you’ve got it before it’s too late. If you’ve got the funds, gift your friend a book or eBook. Taking one’s mind off the two ps is a good way to find your center again.
And don’t forget yourself either. If you’re living alone, try to get some fresh air daily, even if it’s just standing at a window for a little while (better would be a walk in an uncrowded area). Keep your distance from anyone not living with you and wear a mask. And if you feel like it, let me know you’re okay. I keep worrying about my family, my friends, and my readers. Hopefully this will be over soon.
As to the second p (politics), I’ll just say, listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger. He might not be a specialist on Nazis, but he’s lived through what they left of the German countries. Since the aim of Nazis is the destruction of democracy, the ONLY way to handle Nazis is to chase them away, cut off their access to mass media, and/or lock them up (if they can be rightfully charged). And that is NOT censorship. They’re still allowed to say what they believe. It’s just a severe reduction of their platform. One thing to always keep in mind: if you find yourself agreeing with a Nazi (or similar), you’re in the wrong. There’s no debate possible about that.
I am not taking sides. I just would like to drop one thought into your minds. Here in Germany, we’ve got Conservatives too (plus many more parties), but even the ones farthest to the right are still pro democracy. If the people you support aren’t, you should rethink your values.
Thank you for bearing with me. I (hopefully) won’t need to rant again any time soon.
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I can’t believe it’s December already. Publishing-wise, the year was quite successful. I managed to release a new book every single month since April, and I’ve still got a few more lined up. This month’s title is the fifth in my “Gaggle of Stories” Series and it contains eleven playful short and shorter tales. Grab your copy.
Free minds and unbroken spirits will find creative solutions …
With enough imagination, problems turn into opportunities. With enough creativity, the biggest struggle can be overcome.
A cat must fight its fear of water to save the world.
A party-girl’s dream of an early retirement evaporates as she gets involved with an escaped slave.
A young witch who pretends to be old falls for a truth loving magician.
When a young artist dreaming of grandness is demoted to kitchen duty, she gets creative.
There’s no guarantee that the adventurers will survive their exploration of Softrock Mountain.
A young girl’s move to the countryside proves more magical than anticipated.
When a desperate girl gets a chance to visit Australia magically it might change her future.
A young student writes a very honest essay about the Salem Witch Trials.
Kissing a frog does have consequences after all.
In the kingdom of words, an insignificant nurse faces annihilation when she sets out to save the king.
A mistreated girl must protect her Halloween sweets from the school bullies or face her mother’s wrath.
These lighthearted fantasy stories illuminate what it takes to enjoy life to its fullest, even if you have to start over. Get your copy now.
Other than that, this year was a catastrophe. I’m not just talking about the pandemic. Have you noticed how early the trees turned red? Stress from too little water. The soils here in Germany (and most likely all over the world) are rapidly losing water, and there’s not enough rain to replenish the reservoirs. It might still be a few more years, but we’re facing a world without the kind of trees we know. For the first time in my life, I’m more scared than I care to admit.
And even my haven, the one place where I was able to refill my resilience all these years, has dwindled. I didn’t write much (barely 1/4 million words, most of that in short stories and translations). November – strike that – the whole year didn’t go as planned. Writing fell to the wayside, and financially, it was a disaster. Not a single book fair to go to (the online events were trying hard but couldn’t really compete), no readings, no direct interaction. I missed that so much (even more than the money I didn’t make).
At the beginning of the pandemic, we couldn’t visit our special needs kids for over 1/2 year. They were very brave and coped, but the fallout only became visible after. My eldest is extremely clingy at the moment and the youngest withdrew and is worrying about her future. It will take many visits and hours of telephoning to return them to +-normal.
I don’t really want to complain though. After all, we’re healthy. my grandson is striving, and life is still interesting enough. That said, have you already checked out “The Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar“? It’s still time to enjoy the stories, and if you sign up for the daily alerts before the 24th, you’ll get them bundled including the bonuses in a single (free) eBook.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (and let’s hope the next year will be better).
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