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.
 

Cover of

 

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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Yay, cool theme. I love strong women. They appear in my books again and again. But before we get to that, here’s this month’s release (BTW, it’s the 8th release this year and I’ve still got enough material for publications up to March next year). So without further ado, here’s a collection of grim-dark short stories.

Eight dark short stories

Find hope even in the darkest places …
When darkness threatens to swallow all that’s good, a few brave souls must stand up against evil.

An American girl visiting Germany must find a way out of a nightmare realm without losing her sanity.
A runaway girl must rely on a tortured boy to leave Hell on Earth.
When visions in a mirror cabinet seem more real than life, a young girl’s decision determines whether she’ll be loved or killed.
An inherited house isn’t as easily cleaned as two sisters think and to survive, they must learn to trust each other.
When the death of a person is like the best drug trip ever, how can a young man stay sane?
A reluctant invisible friend will do anything to protect her charges.
A human monster must face the truth of his actions.
Living on nightmares and beer, an old adventurer gets a stone that fulfills dreams.

In these dark fantasy stories, people face the blackest moments of their lives. But even then, a sliver of light gives hope. Writers of the Future judge Dave Farland told Katharina, “Your writing is excellent and you pulled me in from the start.”

To read these dark stories, get them now.

 

Now back to this month’s theme:
When I started school, I was soon ignored by the girls because I enjoyed learning, loved reading a lot, and played with the boys. I didn’t even notice their animosity, I was too busy with my friends. But then, puberty hit and I was suddenly all alone. The boys had suddenly noticed that I wasn’t one of them.

I suffered through many verbal attacks that only stopped when I (accidentally) cracked two teeth of a classmate (whom I secretly swooned over). He’d been teasing me (in a friendly way) and I overreacted. After this incident, everyone called me ‘Gerlatschko’ and avoided me. There also was a bodily attack that I managed to fight off. When I told my father, he intervened with all the power he had as a forester and official assistant to the local police authorities. I’m still grateful that my trust in my parents has always been so strong that I did talk to them.

It got better when I changed to a school where no one knew my nickname. I started over. Still, the characters of the novels I read were my best friends for a good, long time. When I started writing my own stories, those characters found their way into my typing fingers that kept reminding the readers that: »It is perfectly fine to defend yourself. It is right to talk to a person you trust, and that person doesn’t even have to be a grown up. Share your burden and allow people to help. There are always some who will be there for you come storm and Armageddon. You just need to let them know that you need help.«

Then one day, you will be able to embrace life with open arms and enjoy it to its fullest. Don’t allow anyone to put you down. You are worth just as much as anyone else on this Earth, regardless of how much power, money, influence, skin pigments or thoughts, feelings, and ideas you have.

I know that what I went through is kinda harmless compared to some things today’s kids go through. The word ‘Mobbing’ (German for bullying) didn’t exist yet, but the problem did. That’s why I found and still find it important, to gift my readers with strong characters as role models. Maybe that’s the thing that makes my stories different. Get one of my books and decide for yourself.

 

#faktastischernovember #faktastisches2020 #faktastischdurchdasjahr #wirsindfaktastisch

 

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Nothing can be more scary than the events of 2020 so far, and there isn’t much we can do about it except struggle to protect ourselves and the people around us. However, we might find a little happiness in reading some cool flash stories where the scariness is twisted and utterly not-2020-real. So without further ado, here are my story and the ones from 10 other participants of 2020’s Halloween Bloghop.

If you love audio, you’ll find many of the Bloghop stories (including mine) in the final two episodes of the Podcast “Alone in a Room With Invisible People” (which I highly recommend). Episode 1 can be found here with 21 amazing stories.
Episode 2 can be found here with 25 outstanding stories. My story is on this one and starts about 1/4 of an hour in.

Enjoy the season (and my story) and as always, remember to visit the other participants (list below the story).

 

 

The Witch at the End of the Road

Halloween is a nightmare for me. Mom always forces me to join tight-knit groups of friends that don’t want me, and I hate to pretend to be happy, collecting sweets. This year is worse than usual. She shoves me toward the group of bullies from my school. My arms, back, and legs are still hurting from the lashing she gave me when I begged her to let me stay home.

To my surprise, the trick-or-treating goes smoothly at first, even though the others’ none too gentle nudges hurt. But then Gordon tells us of the witch at the end of the road.

“She turns candy into stones.” His gleeful stare finds me. I shiver with dread. Not because of the witch—we wouldn’t go there if she existed—but due to the promise of lost sweets in his gaze. The closer we get to the witch’s house, the faster my heart beats. I struggle to join the chorus, but my painful bruises remind me of Mom’s anger and I go on.

“You first,” Gordon pushes me up the steps. There are potted plants on the porch and a black cat with white paws. I nearly wet my pants. This is it! I’ll lose my sweets, and Mom will be furious. I search for a solution in vein and ring the doorbell with trembling fingers.

A lady older than any I’ve ever seen opens the door.

“There you are!” Her voice is surprisingly friendly. “Been waiting for you, lazybones.”

I start speaking and stop when I notice no one falls in. Looking around, the boys are staring open-mouthed and motionless at the lady.

“Not spellbound?” She winks at me. “So you’re kin, ey? Interesting.” She turns to the others and taps Gordon on the forehead. “You will stop hurting people. Find joy in the woods.”

He walks away with glazed eyes. The lady taps every boy and gives them a command, and they file away silently. Witches do exist after all. I’m mesmerized.

When she turns to me, fear freezes my blood. Although I want to run, my legs don’t move. My heartbeat drowns out every sound but my breathing and her words.

“For you, I’ll need something special.” She cups my face with her hands. Barely louder than a whisper, a scream escapes my lips. She smiles and her eyes are full of sympathy. “I know, honey. Be strong. It’s over in a blink.” She kisses my forehead, warming me.

Next I’m in Mom’s kitchen, arms over my head, hurting. Stones have spilled from a plastic pumpkin onto the table. I’m covered in fresh bruises, and Mom is lifting a wooden spoon to hit me again.

The witch grabs her wrist.

Blue light whizzes between them.

I can hardly breathe.

The witch changes to the semblance of Mom, while Mom grows old and frail and vanishes eventually.
“Finally!” Witch-Mom hands me a bag of sweets. “Guess, it’s time for a new life for both of us, ey?”

 
 

If you liked the story or want to comment with anything else that’s on your mind, feel free to do so. I’ll answer as soon as I can. Meanwhile read the stories of the other participants:

Immortality by Juneta Key
Unwelcomed Visitors by Bill Bush
Unraveled by Bonnie Burns
Holiday Guest by Sabrina Rosen
Home by Barbara Lund
Missing Parts by Jemma Weir
A Perfect Match by V. S. Stark
The Glistening Bat by Karen Lynn
II-The Priestess by Raven O’Fiernan
The Old Ways by Nic Steven
Halloween Pest by Elizabeth McCleary
Tales From the Pumpkin Patch by Marilyn Flower

 

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Liebster Blog Award 2011