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.”
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.
Themed Month October: If I could jump into a book …
Hahaha! It is my job to jump into books. I do that day in, day out. If it’s a good day, I manage to write around 1500 words about the experience. But let’s do this month’s post a little different. I’d like to get the new release out of the way first. We’ll have fun with the theme afterwards.
In time for the spookier season, the short story collection “Ghosts” (universal link to many shops) is now available. If you like ghosts and libraries, you’ll love these stories (not all of them feature libraries but many). Check it out:
In the world between ours and the next, unhappy souls wait for the unwary.
Ghosts are known to scare and torture people, but are they evil?
An oversized librarian must stop a well-proportioned ghost from destroying her beloved books.
Although a young girl has lived with ghosts all her life, coming to term with their existence threatens her sanity.
When a reading addicted teen gets locked in the library, she must face the ghost haunting it.
Struggling with an overpowering craving, a forgetful man must remember to discover the meaning of death.
A young woman’s live is in danger when she finds out why the Blue Room is forbidden.
A book addicted ghosts haunts a library, but protecting the books seems more than he can handle.
A bullied school girl must face a haunted house and her only ally is the bully.
A grandmother’s life in a haunted house changes when she discovers intruders.
These fantasy stories show how to handle a variety of ghosts (many in libraries) for Light never is without Shadow.
Great. Now that this is out of the way, let’s get back to being inside of books. Does one really need to enter a book or story bodily? I don’t think so. In my personal experience, it is far more satisfying to share the adventures and minds of peoples in books, visualizing things the way my imagination likes them best, and feeling the characters’ emotions. That way, I can live a multitude of interesting lives, not just a single adventure (Actually, it’s probably the same difference between watching a film and reading a good book, just a little more direct).
Also, there are way too many good books to decide on a single one to jump into. How can I chose? I’ve got close to 2,000 books on my attic shelves, and those are just the favorites I kept. I’ll stick with traveling into stories with nothing but my mind, experiencing a character’s life, love, thoughts, and adventures without coming to harm (even though the character might). How about you? Would you jump into a book? And if so, which one would you chose?
I’m going to apply this theme to the books I published and I’ll be keeping it short. It’s been a very hard week. My MIL (80) cracked a vertebrae falling from a ladder she had no business to be on, and my husband crashed his bicycle, ripped open his leg from the knee to the ankle, bumped and bruised his shoulder, and ruined his helmet (which he thankfully wore, it most likely saved his head). Also I’m a tad busy with some client work, two anthologies in German for charity, and my own publications. So without further ado, here are my favorite covers in the order from loved to most loved.
I adore the covers Corona (no, not the virus) Zschusschen did for my fairy tale retelling series. However, they probably don’t speak to the people who love fairy tale reltellings, so I’ll most likely revamp the whole series some time next year. What do you think? Are they awesome?
I still love the covers for my “High School Dragon” trilogy even though a group of professional designers ripped them apart (they said they looked like cheap clip-art put together). I love the simplicity and the contrast between the flaming heart and the dragon silhouettes. “Thankfully tastes differ”, said the monkey and ate the soap. What do you think about these covers?
Truth be told, there isn’t a single book where I don’t love the cover, but without a doubt the most beautiful are the audiobook covers for Will Hahn’s “Shard of Light” series (and the narration by the author is superb, even though he’s redoing volume one, the perfectionist :D).
And now to this month’s publication (where I also love the cover!). It’s another short story collection. The first book of this series came out in March, that’s how long it took me to get this baby ready. But I promise that for the next two or three months you’ll get more of my short stories. Enjoy!
An unhappy Death, murder in the name of an ancient god, and a bridge where dogs die. The world has room for all, but not unchecked.
Even though each world has a dark side, there will always be those who will give their lives to keep innocents out of harm’s way.
Quantum physics opens doors that would better have stayed closed, putting more than one soul in peril.
An Ancient god longs for tranquility when his new acolyte goes too far.
One of the many Deaths is grumbling. He’s in love with life and hates his job. But then he gets accidentally pulled into the soul collector.
A security guard calls Death to ask for a favor when his sins catch up with him. Now the life of his niece and sister are part of the gamble.
A conflicted officer of the magical police must catch a murderer stealing hearts – literally.
A handicapped fairy police officer is sent to investigate an emergency call at Overtoun Bridge, annoyed that she’s got a new partner, a dwarf.
When a child summons The Lady of Slaughter, the goddess must face her biggest enemy: herself.
A young guard is dreaming of other worlds when unwanted visitors show up at the entrance to the forgotten temple.
In these eight short stories, Katharina shows creatures that only partially qualify as people. Writers of the Future judge Dave Farland told Katharina, “Your writing is excellent and you pulled me in from the start.”
To get to know slightly inhuman creatures, buy the book now.
Favorite quotes I have a few, but only two changed me considerably. The first one was pivotal for my writing and I heard it a million times from many sources and in varying phrases before it sank in. The gist is: „First drafts are always crap!“
My first published novel took a long, long time to finish. While that was partially due to research, after all it was a historical novel, a good portion was stage fright too. Perfectionism stalled me again and again. So writing the first draft was a daunting process because I wanted to produce the best possible book I was capable of writing.
I still want this to this day. However, I no longer aim to get the manuscript perfect during writing the first draft. I hammer out the story as fast as I can without thinking too much about it, and then I go back and revise it to the vision I had in my head when I started writing. This change of attitude has freed my writing and led to much faster publications without sacrificing the quality.
The second quote is from my great-grandmother who died when I was ten. She suffered from dementia and didn’t remember the most recent events in her live (like falling down a stair one night or how long the time between two meals was), but she was a happy woman with principles. She often told me that one should always strive to look at a situation (or anything else) until one found the bright side. Her motto was: „Es ist nichts so schlecht wie irgend gut für!“ = Nothing is as bad as it is good!
That became my life’s motto too. As a child, I’ve trained myself to always find the bright side. By now I do it automatically without much thinking about it, and it helps me to cope with all the bad things I see in the world: the selfishness of humanity, the deliberate ignorance of powerful people, the casual cruelty and greedy destruction. Without my great-grandmother’s saying, I would have succumbed to depression long ago, because the world is not fair. It never has been and it never will be.
But even in the biggest disaster you can find a grain of beauty if you’re just willing to look close enough. And while that won’t help to address the problems at hand immediately, it can give you the amount of hope you’ll need to make the world around you just a teeny, tiny bit better.
That’s what I’m striving for with my life and my writing. Thank you, Uromi!
About the WIP:
My novel is growing, slowly but steadily. Meanwhile, my grandson is keeping me on my feet and the monthly publications also need their time.
Maybe you’re interested in the second volume of the “Waldmann Family Saga”. I’ve re-published the historical novel Victor’s Rage with improved readability, an expanded appendix, and a new cover.
About the Book: A forced courtship. A legacy’s honor under threat. Will the truth destroy a young girl’s chance at real love?
Northern Germany, 1848. Young Rieke Waldmann knows the man she loves and hopes to marry doesn’t meet her mother’s standards. Though the radical idealist is willing to prove himself a suitable husband by striking out on his own to earn money, Rieke must also accept her mother’s request to get to know the local miller’s son. Surprised to discover her new suitor is far more considerate than she expected, Rieke’s forced courtship reveals a deeper personal crisis: Her late father kept secrets that could ruin her dreams.
With the German Revolution plunging the country into turmoil, the young woman’s search for an affordable farm overturns yet more disturbing puzzle pieces. And increasingly distant from the love of her heart, these fresh allegations only add to the weighty burden on Rieke’s spirit.
With her father’s legacy on the line, where will Rieke’s loyalty lie?
Themed Month July: Happy End – Does it always have to be?
I think that there’s just one genre that cannot do without a HEA, and that’s romance. In all other genres it is not obligatory to have one. Now the question probably is, whether I personally need a Happy End always.
In my opinion that depends on the story. Of course I like Happy Ends where the characters are satisfied or even happy for the moment or forever, but for some stories an end like that would feel forced.
In one of my stories, for example, the main character has to cope with the loss of a close friend at the end. Of course she would not be dancing with joy in a situation like that, so I went with a moderately hopeful end to show she’s healing.
The only thing I do not like at all is when the end is very sad, depressing, and dark. Even in the worst situation, there is still a sliver of hope. Or there should be one in my opinion.
That’s why you won’t find stories by me that are completely free from hope (except maybe in one or the other dark fantasy short story).
About my WIP:
After the forced break of Corona restrictions, I’m finally writing again (the grandson is back to kindergarten). The story is moving forward. I also updated all my websites, added my newly published books, and put the authors of the brand new German language anthology onto my publishing company’s homepage. I’m quite happy with how everything worked out this month.
Publishing News: Short term change!
Originally planned for July 19th, the publication of “Victor’s Rage” is delayed by a month for personal reasons. Instead, I’ll publish my long awaited Time-travel Romance Fantasy “Centennial Sisters”.
The new pen-name “Leonie Joy” will be the name I’ll be using for all my Romance Fantasy stories from now on.
I believe that being an artist—whether with words or other media—is the only socially accepted way of being insane. Some smell colors, others taste sounds, and yet others feel shapes that aren’t there (yet). I hear voices from the characters in my head.
Those voices are insistent to the point of becoming a nuisance. My family is quite annoyed sometimes when I seem to ignore them because the voice that’s loudest in my mind at that point drowns out their words. I have learned to ask my family several times what they wanted from me but sometimes I just don’t notice.
The problem intensifies when I can’t write due to outside circumstances. During the COVID-19 pandemic, my lovely grandson is brightening up my life and throwing it into chaos. He’s also the reason why I can barely write. It’s hard to concentrate when a three year old decides to color your bed’s mattress or to fly a toy helicopter around your desk.
That doesn’t go down well with the characters in my head. They want to be written, and they want it now. To keep them from driving me up the walls, I help myself with flash fiction or short stories that I write in the early mornings when my grandson is still asleep. I’m using the rest of the day for publishing, because that’s something I can do even with my grandson and my characters around.
The good news is (for the characters in my head as well as for my readers) that my grandson will start kindergarten again in a fortnight. I’ll be free do write then and promise to put several of the loudest from my mind onto paper. I just hope the characters I put down will get stuck in your head too. I’ll do my very best. 😀
This month’s publication is a German anthology about mermaids. If you’d like some information on that, click on the German flag at the top of the page.
As to my WIP: I’m so ready to write the whole thing in as short a time as possible if only I find the peace I need for writing. Unfortunately I’m not 15 any longer, sigh, when I was able to ignore everything and do my homework in the break with a whole class playing soccer around me.
From the books I wrote, the one that’s closest to my heart is “The Little Ghost Bodo and the Letter” which I’m currently translating. So far it’s only been published in German, but that will soon change.
I wrote it for my youngest daughter who couldn’t read as well as other children but wanted a book from her mom too. So I worked hard with her teacher to write a book that’s not too hard for her to understand but that also challenges her her and there.
It’s about a ghost whose sister is coming home after finishing school. At the welcome party, everyone can do tricks, except for him. Of course he needs to learn one, which isn’t all that easy for a ghost.
I had a very talented artist illustrate the book and love, love, love it. I’m working as fast as I can and hope to publish this book in English before the month is out, but I’m not promising. It depends on a lot of factors, mainly if I find the right kind of editor (someone with the knowledge of how much children in second grade in the US are capable of reading).
The other thing you might be interested in are my publications and the WIP (work in progress).
The WIP is stagnant, because the call for a short story anthology of my publishing house brought in over 175 submissions. It took ages to read them all and decide which ones to take.
However, I’ve re-issued “Ann Angel’s Freedom” with a new cover. It’s now titled “Angel’s Freedom” because several people told me they thought “Ann” was a spelling mistake. It wasn’t; it’s the main character’s name. But since it’s impossible to explain that on a cover, I shortened the title. You can learn all about that book in this article.
Also, a few friends from a writing forum I’m in and I decided we wanted to publish a handful of funny flash stories so people have something to laugh about in these sub-optimal times. The book “Now You Are in Trouble! or Where did all the Toilet Paper go?” is available as eBook only, but it’s completely free. If you like to grin, that’s the book for you. Grab it!
Don’t panic. Fifteen funny stories to get you through the pandemic. Because laughter is infectious.
Stories by James Husum, Bill Bush, Nic Steven, Elizabeth McCleary, Gregg I. Veg, Sarah Neuen, Sabrina Rosen, Vanessa Wells, Juneta Key, Jemma Weir, VS Stark, and Katharina Gerlach
I find regular blogging rather hard, because I never know what interests you. So I’m always open to suggestions. Is there anything you’d like me to write about? Leave your questions or topic ideas in the comments and I’ll do my best.
New Release plus Storytime Bloghop April (free fiction)
I’ve done it, I’ve published the first short story collection of the six I’ve planned for this year. This one is all about portals. If you like the idea of stepping into another world through a door or something similar, you might like this little collection.
Below the information about the release, you’ll also find a free flash fiction story about a pretty confused old lady that I wrote for the Storytime Bloghop. I hope you’ll like it. But the release first:
Doors are useful. Close them to keep people out. Open them to let someone in. Or step through … into another world.
His music condemns a young musician to death on a pyre.
Katlani’s plans of revenge crumble around her when her goddess interferes.
To save her father, a young woman must face the danger of doors that take her anywhere.
A disabled phoenix must rekindle his flames or die forever.
To save herself and those she loves from death for being different, a young woman must find the City of Many Worlds.
A bereaved tyrant faces loneliness if he doesn’t atone for his actions.
In these six portal stories, Katharina shows people at a crossroads. Their actions lead them to a literal or fictional door where they’re faced with an impossible choice.
But now to the free flash story I promised you. We hold the Storytime Bloghop quarterly, and all stories are free. I hope you’ll like mine, and as always, remember to visit the other participants (list below the story).
The day faded and night fell. With the moon absent, it was so dark in the house, Jane couldn’t see where she was. All she had was a sense of space and age. Dust motes hung in the air, she could smell them more than see them.
The whole world seemed like that, slightly off. When she tried to look out of one of the windows, the curtains wouldn’t budge until she used all her strength. And when she went to the kitchen to fry some eggs, the sink under the window contained different dishes every time. As if someone put them there when she didn’t look.
Was there a ghost in the house? She remembered her gran—ages ago when Jane was still young—telling her stories in hushed tones about the young, handsome laird who’d been killed in this house and who’d come back to haunt it.
Jane shook her head. There were no ghosts. And if she was wrong and and the laird did exist, she would have noticed him by now, wouldn’t she? After all, she’d lived here for sixty five years; ever since her marriage.
She made her way to the living room by touch. One of those big, modern TVs hung at the wall. She didn’t remember buying it, but since it was there, she might as well use it. The living room smelled of stale beer, and she wrinkled her nose. Was someone trying to annoy her? But who?
She had no lodgers, even though Katie had often suggested she’d get some. Maybe her daughter was right. After all, the house was rather big for a single person.
But she didn’t feel ready to give up the life she’d known for so many years. The memory of Todd’s death still brought tears to her eyes. The clingy wetness tasted of salt and reminded her of the many times they’d taken their daughter to the sea. Those were the days … She sighed and there was a good portion of longing in the sound.
If only her day-night-rhythm would improve. The pills she was using didn’t seem to help. She still fell asleep at sunrise and lost most of the day to weird dreams before waking at nightfall. If she could reverse that, she wouldn’t depend on Katie so much.
Poor child. She walked to the fireplace and looked at Katie’s graduation photo. How the child had grown. Jane frowned. She really had to talk to the cleaning lady. She didn’t pay her for cobwebs and layers of dust.
The old-fashioned grandfather clock from the hall chimed melodically. Jane loved the clock. It had been a wedding present from her parents. She counted the beats automatically.
Nine, ten, eleven … twelve. Midday! A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Todd would come home any minute now. She had to prepare his lunch.
With a spring in her step, she hurried into the kitchen—was it winter already? It was so dark—grabbed a pan, a bottle of oil, and eggs, set everything on the table, and turned on the gas.
Someone gasped audibly.
“See, I told you.” Even though the person was whispering, Jane knew the voice.
She put her arms akimbo. “Katie Joanna Lou Hawkins. Come out wherever you’re hiding. That is not polite, and it might scare your father to death. You know how bad his heart has been lately.”
Katie stood up on the other side of the kitchen table, barely illuminated by what little light from the streetlamp in front of the house the curtains admitted. A slender youth that looked just like Todd when he was still young clung to her arm, and a dark haired young woman was half hiding behind her.
Jane frowned. There were streaks of gray in her daughter’s brown curls. But … but … she’d only graduated from university a few weeks ago, hadn’t she? And who were those teenagers?
“Mom?” Katie’s eyes were bigger than Jane had ever seen them.
Her poor baby. Still as afraid as a rabbit. “Oh, hon. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” She smiled reassuringly and opened her arms wide for a hug.
“But you’re…” Katie and the teenagers took a step back. All three grew very pale when Jane followed. Their gazes clung to Jane’s midriff. Jane looked down, and paled too. She was standing right in the middle of the kitchen table. How did she do that?
But she knew.
Everything came crashing back. The short, sharp pain in her chest, Katie’s and her grandchildren’s crying, the overbearing scent of white lilies, and the fact that she’d been standing beside her body, watching the mourners carry it away after the wake.
Heavy boots clonked on the stone floor of the small rear hallway. Katie and the teenagers grew even paler and moved out of the way of the door. It swung open with vigor Jane knew only too well.
“Darling!” Todd opened his arms wide. He was so strong, his shoulders so wide, and the scent of tobacco and leather so intense, she nearly cried for joy. And his voice … his voice still made happy little shivers dance down her spine. “I’ve been looking for you ever since you died.”
“I think, I was a little lost,” Jane said and threw herself into his arms. Gone were the years, the gaps in her memory, and the pounds she’d gained throughout life. She felt young again.
She never heard the grandfather clock strike one.
If you liked the story or would 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:
I swapped the order of themes around. This topic was meant for June, but I moved it up front because it’s connected to a few announcements I have to make. The next two themes from the initial post have been moved one month back. In July we’ll be back on schedule.
As you might have gleamed from my blog, I haven’t been very active the last year. That was mostly due to health related stuff. What irked me the most was that I could barely write. So I’ve decided to change something about that situation.
I actually made a publishing schedule (yes, unorganized me!) with one book a month for at least one year (print and eBook, mostly in English. The German versions will follow whenever I get the translations done). The reason is that I signed up for a yearly challenge that “forces” me to publish one book per month for a whole year. Since I signed up on March 19th, you’ll get the first book before April 19th. The stories all exist already, so I’m free to write new novels and novellas as well as translate the stories into German that I haven’t had the time for yet.
Next month, I’ll be publishing the book that’s closest to my heart (it also fits next month’s theme: a book of my heart), a first reader book with many pictures. It’s already out in German but I’ve not taken the time to do the English version yet. So that one’s up next.
Then I’m planning to reissue my two historical novels with bigger and better appendices, bundle my fairy tale retellings into box-sets of 4 novellas each, and publish six short story collections. Except for one, they’ll contain mostly new fiction. The order in which these books appear isn’t completely fixed yet. I’ll let you know in advance each month when I report about the newest publication.
And finally, on April 29th, it’s time for the quarterly Storytime Bloghop again. This year, I’ve written a whole new story. Come by and let me know how you like it. Until then, buy my books (I hardly ever say that, don’t I? But the readers I’ve talked to said they’re good. So they might help you get through this social distancing time). *grin*
Information about my current WIP:
The first volume of my new series “The Paladins” only grows slowly. Since my grandson is at home for the whole day now, my writing time is less than half of what it was (from 5:30am to 7:15 or 7:30am instead of 8:00 to 12am). But it’s so much fun to have the two main characters interact since the healer is a slightly naive do-gooder and less than pleased with Death. 😀
Strangely enough, the bookfriends I had were all from other people’s books. Among my favorites were Anne of Green Gables, Atreju from the “Neverending Story”, and Death from the graphic novels “Sandman” by Neil Gaiman. These days it’s “Boris and Olga” from a so named Steampunk-series by German author Selma J. Spieweg. There were many more since I’ve read thousands of books (two thousand of those are in my personal library), and most of them are still dear to my heart today.
The interesting fact about this is that aspects of them bleed into my own stories. That is not a conscious process and it’s not a copyright infringement if you’re worrying about that. What happens is that some aspects of the dear friends I used to have in books merge with aspects of people I know in real life (strangers, friends, and family) to become something new, someone new, someone who might one day become the bookfriend of another reader.
And that is the true power of stories, and something I find really, really cool!
Information about my current WIP:
The first novel in the new series I’m planning to write under my new pseudonym is thoroughly planned and the first few scenes are written. In the fist volume of “The Paladins” a dedicated healer, determined to eradicate death, falls for the Paladin of Death.