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.
As the world might have noticed by now, the book fair in Leipzig, the biggest reader oriented book fair in Germany, has been canceled due to the Corona virus threat. To say I was devastated is putting it mildly. I’ve got boxes of new books, printed reading samples, flyers and more that I’d meant to distribute there.
Enter the community of German bloggers: in slightly over 10 days they organized several online events, written interviews, video recordings of readings or interviews, and much more. I’m still stunned.
I decided to move March’s “themed month” post a week forward (it’ll appear on the 22nd) and tell you some more about the generous support we got. Of course, participation was a lot of work, but I do think it was worth it. If you understand German decent enough, check out all the places I had the chance to present myself (as Katharina Gerlach or with my new pen name Leonie Joy) or my author group (Qindie):
– Yesterday I did a live online reading (To see me, you’ll have to fast forward the movie to roughly 1:40hrs and watch from there) from a soon-to-be-published short story (the only cat story I’ve written so far).
– I’ve got three pages on the fakriro LBMreloaded site. One for Katharina Gerlach, one for Leonie Joy, and one for Qindie. I was also tagged for a mini-interview.
– At 3pm, Julia posted something about my historical Romantasy “Juma’s Rain”.
– Kathis Lesewelt will present me and my tiny publishing company, the Independent Bookworm (a link will follow as soon as the post goes life).
– Soon, there will be memes from my book “Kissed by Fire” (German version) on ACs bunte Bücherwelt on FB and Instagram. I’ll post the direct links as soon as I get them. Meanwhile check out what else she has.
Well, genre is one of my big problems. Due to the fact that I’m interested in everything (aside from long-winded analyses of Soccer games and Documentaries about WWII [it’s not that I’m not interested in those, I just can’t watch them without getting nightmares for days]), a lot of subjects can be found in my books.
For example, I worked my love for Scotland’s mythology and all things Scottish into my book „Scotland’s Guardians“, and in „Juma’s Rain“, I added all the interesting facts I’d found about an African Stone Age culture called Nok. In the novel „Urchin King“, I used medieval Europe as a jumping point, and „Amadi, the Phoenix, the Sphinx and the Djinn“ features a lot of everyday life in Arabian countries.
There’s only one genre I like that allows for such a wide variety of interests: Speculative Fiction (Fantasy, SciFi, and Horror [if rarely]. All of my stories contain a core from our world, from my experiences. My favorite is adding bits and pieces of our history, because there are so many fascinating times to be explored. There’s a reason the word “history” contains the word “story”. The best part of history are the stores about the people living through it. Add a little fantasy, and you get very interesting novels.
If someone would have told me, I’d ever research history of my own, free will, I’d have laughed at them. 😀
Unfortunately, “common sense in marketing“ points out that it is only possible to make a living off your books if you stay true to one sub- (or sub-sub-sub)-genre and provide your fans with stories they’ve come to love (preferably in a series).
I do understand that (which is part of the reason I’m currently writing a potentially neverending Romantasy series under my new pen name Leonie Joy) but it won’t stop me from writing what I love, regardless how diverse. Of course, I’ll keep adding fantasy. I am pretty sure there are many readers who love to read more than one trope. How about you? Do you have a favorite genre?
Information about my current WIP:
Centennial Sisters is done (revised, and edited) and the cover is ready too. The first few scenes of my new novel (still without title) are written. However, I’ll be publishing all those stories a lot later under my new pen name: Leonie Joy (that reminds me that I’ll need a website for that too).
Congratulations on being a semi-finalist in quarter four of the 2019 L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. This was the largest quarter of the contest ever, and as a result the competition was very fierce. Many fine stories that deserve publication didn’t quite make it into our finalist round.
Your writing is excellent and you pulled me in from the start. I loved a lot of things about it.
My only concerns were minor. I really wanted just a bit more detail in the story—particularly in the form of stronger visuals.
This one was really close to a finalist. If the quarter hadn’t been so strong, it would have been. So polish it up and send it out. I think you’ll find a good home for it.
I look forward to seeing a story from you again soon!
Dave Wolverton/aka David Farland
It’s time for the Storytime Blog Hop again already. Why does it always surprise me so? This time I’m quite unprepared what with my grandson’s birthday and so on. We’ve had several small parties (with his father, with his great-grandparents, with his friends) and now he thinks he’s gong to get presents forever. I’m seeing a big disappointment in his future. 😀 But now we’ll get to the reason you’re here: my story for the blog hop. It’s a mini fairy tale retelling. I hope you’ll like it. As always, remember to visit the other participants (list below the story).
I woke up in a different place and heard people whisper outside my window, just as I had planned. The one thing I hadn’t expected was the fact that I didn’t understand a word of what was said. How could that happen? Had I done something wrong? I looked at the ring on the low table beside the cushiony something that should have been my bed – bed as in “the bed I had slept in for years before dad got himself caught by my Beast.”
No, I wouldn’t think of him. I got up and dressed. Luckily, some of my nicest clothes had come along with the ring. I put it back on my finger. One day was all he had agreed to, so I’d better make the best of it. I opened the shutters in front of the window and sunlight fell in. It was my room and it wasn’t at the same time. Pictures painted on paper as thin and smooth as the thinnest leather I had ever seen hung on the wall. They showed demons with spiked, colorful hair and metal studs all over their faces. Still, below all that, they did look vaguely human.
Like Beast – if it would be possible to remove the ugly and scary bits. I turned and looked out the window. Two kids sat in the grass dressed like the demons in the strange paintings. Hardly older than my sisters when I left them, they were trying to eat each other mumbling gobbledegook. I watched them a while until I realized they were kissing, not eating. Blushing, I closed the shutters silently. I tiptoed out of my room and down the stairs. A real painting hung at the wall half way down. I stopped in amazement. It was my face staring at me. A black veil surrounded my head like a sad halo, and words in my father’s familiar hand sagged along the bottom. I bent down to read.
In memoriam of a daughter who did more than her duty for her guilty father.
A giant fist squeezed my heart.
“You like it?” A boy, surely no more than six or seven, grinned at me from the bottom of the stairs. I’d never seen him, but he spoke my language. He wore short, blue pants and nothing else and dripped water all over the floor. Where did he come from? My gaze went past him. How much this part of my home had changed! The floor was no longer stamped earth and cobbles as it used to be. Shiny wooden floorboards, soft carpets and comfortable looking furniture made my home resemble that of the ugly love I had left behind.
“Hello-o… Do you like it?” The boy climbed the stairs.
I nodded, meaning the house, not the picture but he obviously misunderstood.
“It’s my great-great-great-and some-grandaunt Belle. She was eaten by a monster, and no one has ever found her corpse. Maybe it ate all of her, hair and bones and all.” His eyes sparkled with excitement.
He could have hit me with a hammer and I wouldn’t have felt worse. Great-great-great-and some-grandaunt? What had happened? Where had all the time gone? Beast must be frantic. Then, it dawned on me. Beast would be dead after all this time.
“Say,” the boy had reached the step below me. “You look awfully like her.”
I stared at the ring. Would it be strong enough to take me back to my time? Without a word, I fled up the stairs toward the bedroom that had once been mine. I had to go to sleep. I had to!
After locking the door to keep out the boy, I slammed the ring on the nightstand and flopped on the soft bed. A single beam of light fell through the shutters onto my face. I tried hard, but sleep wouldn’t come. The sunlight was my greatest enemy.
When I got to know my (now) best friend Anke Waldmann (who lived near Osnabrück) during our time at university, I began writing in earnest. She had rediscovered her farm’s archive that held documents back to the 15th century and started to learn the old German Handwriting so she could type the texts into the computer. She uncovered a treasure trove of stories.
When she found court records about the family’s struggle to gain their freedom from serfdom that contained most of the gossip of the area from 1799 to 1804, we decided to turn that story into a novel. In this case it was a stroke of luck that both parties had dragged every possible fact in front of the judge to ruin the other side’s reputation.
We researched and wrote for nearly five long years. My most important task was to depict life at that time as accurately as possible. The people of that time weren’t all than much different from us, but the time was a lot less hectic. Nearly everything was done with patience, and no one left the area if they didn’t have to.
The more I learned about the time, the more it fascinated me. It was quite difficult to stop myself from stuffing all my research results into the novel, but we wanted the story to be entertaining and authentic. Luckily Anke found all the places that weren’t engaging (in her opinion) or that wandered too far from the facts.
When the manuscript was done, we found an agent with less problems than I’d thought. Delighted with the project, he contacted the big German publishers, but all declined, stating that their readers only wanted to read stories set in the Middle Ages. Finally the agent gave up, but Anke and I believed in the story and kept going.
In the end, „Ann Angel’s Freedom“ found a home with a small regional publisher, who published the print version with a nice cover. They were counting on selling around 100-200 books. In the end, they sold nearly a thousand.
When the so called eBook-revolution began, I published the eBook myself in English and German as best I could. Two years ago the publisher folded and I managed to get all rights back. Therefore, the German version was re-published a little while back with a new cover and an improved editorial appendix. It’s waiting for readers who are interested in more than just the Middle Ages. I’m lagging behind with the English version but it is in the works. Watch out for it.
Here’s a short evolution of the cover (German, but the English were similar):
Our publisher focused on older readers for the book even though it is an all age novel. The cover for the eBook was one of my first tries at cover design and it’s a big fail (even though I still like the background). The newest version was done with the help of a pro cover designer and is aimed at younger readers. I think it’s wonderful.
At the end of the 18th century, fifteen-year-old Anna Angel Waldmann has to work hard. Even though her father, a farmer in the Osnabrücker Land, is wealthy and well liked in the neighborhood, there are never enough hands to finish all the work. But Angel is happy because her best friend lives close and her crush, Adam Averbeck, works with them as a farm hand. Therefore she isn’t bothered by being a serf of the Count of Langelage.
But everything changes when the count promises her father with a binding handshake that they can buy their freedom. After a lot of consideration, Angel’s father wants to agree to the deal only to learn that he’s been sold. To force the issue, he drags the count to court, and Angel’s life becomes a nightmare. How can the freedom her father craves improve her life if she loses her best friend and Adam?
Very well researched and fully authentic, the novel illuminates a fascinating time. It is based on true events in the Waldmann family. Ann Angel’s Freedom is the perfect mix of work, friendship, daily problems and love.
At the moment, only the old English version with its slightly bumpy language is available through Amazon, but I’m working on the re-release. Unfortunately I cannot do magic. 😀