January 2023: Storytime Bloghop (plus a tiny bit about the kickstarter)
I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things. The kickstarter is such a great motivation to get back to writing (it’s in its final throes … ehm week, and I think we might even get to the last stretch goal yet). Also, I settled into my new flat just fine. My story for the Storytime Bloghop is the first one I did using dictation, and although it needed some revising, it turned out better than I’d feared. And writing it went much faster than typing. I’ll try dictation on my novel next.
For now, I hope you’ll like this blog hop’s #free #story. Remember to visit the other participants too. And please leave comments for us. We love to hear from you. It cheers us up and means the world to us.
I went to fetch water like Mom had ordered me to. It was Saturday and the whole family wanted to take a bath. For that we’d need a lot of water. I already hated carrying the heavy buckets, and I hadn’t even reached the river yet.
The sun shone through the gaps in the forest’s canopy and sweat ran down my neck, despite the cold of the winter morning. When I neared the river, the trees ended and the sky spread blue and endless toward the distant mountains. It was the perfect day for an adventure but none was forthcoming, and Mom had made it pretty clear what she thought of the make-believe adventures I’d played yesterday.
A flight of dragons was flying overhead, returning to the mountains with two Aurochs, and there seemed to be another group further in the distance. Since they didn’t eat much it meant that they’d have their annual maturity-feast soon.
I envied them their strength. If I were a dragon, I could carry enough water for a whole week of baths in no time. Angry with Mom—punishment was one thing but why had she ordered me to do this without any help at all?—I kicked a new stone, the size of my dog. Where had this come from all by itself anyway?
“Ouch.” The stone turned a scaly snout toward me.
Holy cow. It was a dragon, not a stone. Judging by its mottled dark blue scales, it was a male youngling. Since I’d never seen a dragon this close, I just stood and stared.
“What did you do that for?”
I apologized and then asked him why he was here.
“Well,” he said, “I’m trying to find out how to start my fire. I’ve experimented with so many things already. I ate coals, drank my parents’ fire, I even participated in a weird ritual, but nothing helped. I still can’t breathe fire.”
He seemed friendly enough, so I sat down beside him and pondered his problem, although what could I, a mere human, do to help him? Still, I couldn’t just leave a baby dragon without helping him, could I? My mind wandered to the way Mum made fire when my little brother forgot to feed the embers again. Tentatively, I said, “What if your fire only starts with something that hasn’t got to do anything with fire at all?”
The dragon managed to look skeptical despite his scales. His breath condensed in the cold air, and he cocked his head as if questioning my sanity.
“I’m not kidding. Mom starts our fire with two stones. She hits them together, sparks fall onto the tinder, and set the wooden splinters on fire. Maybe you’re missing those stones. Have you tried eating some?” An idea crossed my mind. “Of course they would need to be the right kind of stones. If you help me carry home enough water for my family’s bath, I’ll give you one of our sets.”
“Deal.” He went to the river and began sucking up nearly as much water as I used to fill my buckets. I was quite glad that dragons had an interim stomach for transporting liquids. Imagine having to bathe in the half digested foodstuff in his real stomach. I shuddered involuntarily.
Side-by-side we walked to my village, a circle of wooden houses surrounded by a wooden palisade. Since most people stayed inside on a chilly day like this, no one noticed us slipping past the houses. Not that my people feared dragons, but none had ever visited the village before, and I worried they might politely ask him to leave. After all, an accidental hiccup would set the whole village ablaze, and they didn’t know my friend couldn’t do that yet. So I made doubly sure no one saw him.
Our bathhouse was attached to the side of the house and had a separate entrance. Mom had insisted on it to keep the water’s vapor out of the main house. She’d set up the the tub already, lined it with a white cloth, set the soap on the only stool in the room, and started a fire in the open hearth. The cauldron sat beside it, ready to heat the water I brought.
I hung it over the fire and emptied my buckets into it. It looked like I hadn’t fetched any water at all. This would take a while, even with the dragon’s help. I sighed.
The dragon peaked over the rim, opened his mouth, and emptied his interim stomach. But what was that? The water flowed from his mouth, and it flowed and flowed and flowed. He filled the whole cauldron with water. And my buckets as well. When he still couldn’t stop, he vomited water into the bathtub until he finally managed to close his lips. The stream of water stopped, and he stared at me with wide eyes.
I stared at him with wide eyes too. Could it be? It wasn’t impossible just highly unlikely. I mean when was the last time a dragon had been like him? Still, I voiced my thought. “You’re a water dragon.”
“There hasn’t been a water dragon in centuries.” His voice trembled, and he shivered.
Remembering my grandmother’s adventurous tales of the Mighty Waterdragon, I said. “You’ll get used to being special.” My grin went from ear to ear, I could feel it. “Would you let me join your adventures? Anything will be better than carrying water for a bath.”
“Well, that’ll be quite the surprise for my tribe.” The dragon visibly braced himself. “By the way, my name is Dracobert. If you want to be my partner in adventure, you’d better come to my maturity feast.”
I laughed. The bath would come in handy after all.
I’m beyond thrilled. After only 32hrs, my kickstarter funded and now it’s already close to 1000€. Thank you so much for your support whether you pledged or shared the campaign. It’s all a great help.
When I read about the success Brandon Sanderson had with his million Dollar Kickstarter, I was skeptical of running my own. After all, he’s got a huge fanbase, and I do not. I’m so glad I didn’t let that discourage me. I love this book. The whole idea of putting so many short stories into a single volume, of holding an epic sized book of short stories in my hands, makes me shiver with delight.
the fund-sum I’ve reached so far will allow me to pay the best proof-reader I know the amount he’s worth (and not the bargain price he usually charges because he likes my stories). And if there’s something left over, I plan to use it for other struggling writers (maybe get them something they need or gift them one of Holly Lisle’s courses, we’ll see).
Up front I want to apologize, but you’ll get many posts/eMails from me in the next few days. If you’re not interested in the campaign, you’ll recognize them by the word kickstarter in the title. That way it’s easy to ignore the mails/posts.
If you are interested (as I hope), just follow this link and look if there’s a pledge level you might be interested in. BTW, as I type this, I’ve already reached more than 10% of my goal, and the campaign has only been active for 30min!
Finally, if you want more cool book-ish kickstarter goodness, here’s a whole bundle. Some of them are life already, others will go life in the near future. Just pledge (or sign up) for their campaigns by following this link.
Long time no see/read … and I’m very sorry about that. Like for many people, my life has changed a lot during the pandemic. I was quite productive (I wrote 52 short stories last year) and enjoyed the time as best I could. Of course there were many things that took a lot of adjusting, but I never lost the urge to write.
That changed drastically at the beginning of this year. I began to avoid my novel. Instead I planned another three that are now waiting to be written, and dabbled in short and flash stories. Those are fun but not as satisfying as novels. Then the war in Ukraine started, and I haven’t been able to write more than a few words since then. Not even the writing event Camp NaNo changed that (and I had high hopes).
The flurry of activities, the noise (even though mostly happy), the returning people (or dear, the people, even family and friends) seem to be too much after more than two years of silence. Analyzing my feelings (or temporary lack thereof), I think I have some form of depression or burnout. It’s not that I don’t want to write, I do, I just can’t seem to get myself to actually do it. It’s a pattern I know from both my husband and son. So I decided I won’t allow myself to remain in this state. That only brings about self-pity. From my husband and son, I’ve learned that slow and steady with plenty of downtime gets one back on one’s feet.
So I’m setting myself some small goals. I decided to post each one here to see how it goes. As you know I’m not tremendously good at writing blog posts regularly, but I’ll do my very best. Maybe seeing me making progress and relapsing but never giving up helps you, too, to adjust to the new normal.
My first goal was to update the website, which I did successfully. I added all the short stories that were published over the last two years, and since they didn’t fit into the menu any longer, I put them on a separate page.
I even made a cover for the story “A Twist on Katlani’s Plan” that I’m quite proud of. I sold it in February 2021 and it’s free to read. Check it out if you want and let me know if you like it.
My next goal is to write an interesting Flash Fiction story for the upcoming bloghop. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll do my best and hope you will too.
I have always been awed by cats even though I don’t tolerate them in my house. I just don’t like the way they climb over tables and clean kitchen surfaces. Also, I grew up with dogs and have no idea how I’d go about training a cat not to seek the highest vantage point. It’s their instinct. But that’s okay. I can admire them from afar or when they belong to someone else. And in fiction of course.
There are so many great stories with cats out there. They can be found in all kinds of stories which seems logical considering the fact that cats always show up in unexpected places. And although I’m a dog person (mostly), cats have invaded my fiction too. You can read one of them in a bundle with ten stories from varying genres all with cats which will be available for three weeks only.
But the best thing is that you get to decide how much you pay. For as little as $5 (or the equivalent in your currency plus applicable tax) you’ll get four full novels: Unfair Magic by Bonnie Elizabeth, Delectable Mountain Quilting by Debbie Mumford, Otherside by Barbara G.Tarn, and The Task of Auntie Dido by Ryan M. Williams. If you’re willing to spend $20 or more, you’ll get four more bonus novels/novellas (The Fates Trilogy by Kristine Grayson, Bookshop Witch by T. Thorn Coyle, The Inheritance by Katharina Gerlach (me), and Big Eyes by Dean Wesley Smith) and two short story anthologies (Unexpected Cats by Annie Reed (exclusive to this bundle!), and The Year of the Cat: A Cat of Fantastic Whims by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith).
Oh, and if you decide to get our stories, please do let us know how you liked them. You can do that on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, iBooks, or any place else that allows you to post your opinion.
Here’s what Dean Wesely Smith has to say about the bundle (excerpt only, read the full post on the bundle’s website):
Every type of story imaginable, a writer has put a cat in it.
And yes, I (Dean) am no exception to that rule.
And neither is my wife, writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch. In fact, in this bundle, Kris has added in her Fates Trilogy, three of her fun fantasy novels in one bundle written under the name Kristine Grayson. Yes, all kinds of cats.
For those of you who don’t know, Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a USA Today and New York Times bestseller with almost 200 novels and hundreds and hundreds of short stories to her credit.
So when I started to put together this fun bundle, after getting the bundle from Kris, I got a book from German author Katharina Gerlach, who goes by the name Cat. Not kidding. She had a wonderful book titled THE INHERITANCE that is a fantasy retelling of Puss in Boots. A really fun read.
Cat has published almost thirty novels and books, mostly in English, and has had her stories picked up by major magazines and anthologies, including I must say, my magazine, Pulphouse Fiction Magazine.
Staying with fantasy books for the moment, Barbara G. Tarn writes mostly fantasy novels and short stories of all types. She sent in a novella titled OTHERSIDE where a cat turns into a man through a magic steampunk world portal and it gets even crazier from there. Really fun.
I also got from writers two different paranormal mystery novels that have cats. The first novel is from Bonnie Elizabeth titled UNFAIR MAGIC which is in her Familiar Café series. Bonnie not only writes about cats, but she lives with cats as well.
The second paranormal mystery I got was from T. Thorn Coyle titled BOOKSHOP WITCH. This is in her Seashell Cove Paranormal Mystery series. Thorn is a prolific writer of both fiction and nonfiction.
Moving from paranormal mystery to straight cozy mystery, Debbie Mumford offered up DELECTABLE MOUNTAIN QUILTING which is in her Kristi Lundrigan series. Debbie is known for writing mostly fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction as well as cozy mystery under her Debbie Mumford name. She also writes science fiction and fantasy for young adults under her Deb Logan name.
Now taking cozy mystery even one step farther into the cat world, Ryan M. Williams gives us THE TASK OF AUNTIE DIDO in his C. Auguste Dupin series. And this book is from the cat’s point of view. Great fun and it works completely as a cozy mystery. Ryan works as a full time librarian.
I added a novella into the mix called BIG EYES. The novella is in my Pakhet Jones series. Pakhet is a superhero in the world of cats, existing in the Poker Boy universe. And yes, in this novella, Poker Boy makes a couple of guest appearances as Pakhet and other gods and superheroes struggle to find out who is attempting to kill cats with a powerful new weapon. For those who don’t know me, I am a USA Today and New York Times bestselling writer of over 200 novels and many other books. I also edit the popular cross-genre magazine Pulphouse Fiction Magazine.
Now, a bundle called CATTITUDE would not be complete without two books full of cat short stories. So I contacted Annie Reed, a writer of immense skill and a cat lover bar none. She just happened to have a collection of cat stories called UNEXPECTED CATS which are tales of fantastic felines. Annie was nice enough to hold publication on the collection so that it could be exclusive to this bundle. I have bought a story from Annie for every issue now of Pulphouse Fiction Magazine. That’s how good she is.
And to round off the bundle, a year ago Kris and I edited THE YEAR OF THE CAT, twelve volumes of nothing but cat stories. So I thought it would be great fun to put in one of those titled A CAT OF FANTASTIC WHIMS.
And remember, when you grab this fantastic bundle that will only last for three short weeks, toss in a little for our charity, AbleGamers. A fantastic cause.
I hope you enjoy all the great cat stories in this bundle. I sure had a wonderful time putting it all together. – Dean Wesley Smith
Looking at the year I feel positively SciFi. 😀
Being buried in tax papers, I was glad that someone reminded me of the quarterly bloghop. This story is a little darker than usual. Blame it on the weather or on my mood. I still hope you’ll like it. You’ll also get free short stories from the other participants. As usual there’s a list at the end of this post. Enjoy and leave a comment!
The Beauty of Rainstorms
Frozen in my bay window seat I seek solace in neat rows of books, well placed trinkets, and carefully arranged furniture whenever lightning illuminates them.
I flinch at every earsplitting thunder-crack, remembering the earth-shaking explosions, the sirens, and how – secretly shivering with fear – Mother used to read to me in the bomb shelter’s gloom. Her voice was all that kept panic at bay. Her words painted pictures in my head, so vividly I no longer smelled the dust hanging in the air.
I don’t want to think of our flight. The waves’ thunder, the salt on my lips and skin, the burning thirst – worse than hunger – and the scared gazes of men, women, and children are burnt into my soul. Although I cannot know the number of boats like ours that were swallowed by the ocean, I feel their once living cargo in my heart. A stone of the beach we landed at still lies on one of my shelves. It gives me strength when my heart can no longer bear the burden of my fear.
Now, I’m a mother myself and I read to my own daughter. During thunderstorms I sometimes hide in her bed, sucking in the scent of diapers and milk. Then, she’ll close her tiny arms around my neck, and I know the world won’t end – like it didn’t end in the bunker, like it didn’t end on the ocean.
If only my sweet daughter would be here with me now. Her room is endlessly far away, and my legs don’t obey. The storm’s chaos and noise paralyses me. Like a laughing giant, it plays with my memories, my fate – one of many – as if to prove how unimportant one human life is. And still, I’m here, even though I I sit and stare silently at my orderly room, fighting panic.
The door opens and my daughter bursts in, delighted by every kaboom. Her laughter against the giants’ grumbling. My living whirlwind careens through my sanctuary and hugs me with all her strength. While she holds me, she talks about everything and nothing until I finally relax.
Maybe with her it’s possible to rediscover the beauty of rainstorms.
The Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar opens again soon!
I know I’m late, very late again this year, but as you all know this hasn’t been your normal “run off the mill” year once more. Although things aren’t as bleak as they were last year, the prolonged problems seem to affect all my writer friend’s creativity (including my own). Just a few days ago, I only had 7 submissions. I’ve got more now, but still not the full 24 stories I’d hoped for.
So this year is going to be even bumpier than the last. I’m already sorry for this. I’ll make it up to you on Christmas Day, promised. This year, you’ll get two eBooks, the collected stories and bonuses and one of my short story collections.
Spread the word that it’s that time of the year again. The Indie Author’s Advent Calendar is open from December 1st on and you’re signed up for the daily alerts (BTW, if you get annoyed with the alerts but want the exclusive eBook at the end of the calendar, it would work to unsubscribe and then sign up again a day or two before Christmas *grin*).
Luckily someone reminded me of the quarterly bloghop, and I managed to write a story for it. Naturally, it is slightly spooky. It’s Halloween soon, after all. You’ll also get free short stories from the other participants. As usual there’s a list at the end of this post. Enjoy and leave a comment!
I hated the morning’s blinding light in my eyes, but welcomed it nonetheless for I must have missed the alarm. I just couldn’t afford to arrive late at work again, especially after the scary dream of how I had prepared for work. The details were fading, but I remembered the tube station and lots of people running my way.
My mouth tasted like something had died on my tongue, but I had no time to brush my teeth and wasn’t in the mood for coffee.
I left the house in a hurry. As I walked swiftly towards the tube station, I wondered if I’d locked the front door. I wasn’t quite sure.
The air smelled of lilacs that filled the tiny front gardens of my neighborhood. When was the last time, I’d noticed? Again, the sun blinded me.
The tube arrived just as I jogged up the last few steps to the raised platform. I entered behind a stocky man in suit and tie. Thankfully the car was nearly empty, but I still remained standing. There were always one or two people who ignored the unwritten rule of not looking directly at others. Some even wanted to talk, and that was something I abhorred this early in the morning.
My gaze traveled over the few people spaced out in the car. Some were reading, some used earphones and had their eyes closed, and a young girl, probably a teen on her way to school, looked in my direction. Her gaze went past me as if she hadn’t seen me at all. Perfect.
I got off at my usual stop, although I had trouble with the electric doorknob. It only did its duty when the schoolgirl pressed it. Maybe it didn’t like the sweat on my hands.
My throat constricted the closer I got to the office building where I worked. Hopefully I wasn’t too late. I needed the job to pay off the mortgage. I took the stairs to the third floor to avoid co-workers and my boss and managed to reach my place in the cube farm without anyone noticing. The scent of coffee hanging in the otherwise fetid air was particularly strong this morning.
Relieved I sank onto the ergonomic chair that came with the gray table and the computer in the cube and leaned back. I’d have to water my plant soon. It looked slightly droopy.
“Have you seen Finlay?” My boss’ voice sounded too close for comfort, so I bent over my keyboard and pretended to type although the computer wasn’t even running yet.
“Nope, not yet.” The voice of the co-worker in the next cubicle sounded annoyingly happy. “Maybe he’s late. There’ve been delays on the tube lines in his direction.”
“He’d better not.” The boss sounded annoyed, so I ducked even deeper. “Tell him to see me as soon as he shows up.”
My gaze wandered to the clock at the wall over the door to my boss’ office. Impossible! It was nearly time for lunch. A bright light reflected from the clock’s glass, and I had to close my eyes.
I stood in front of the Sludge Maker, as my co-worker called the coffee machine in the tiny, nondescript kitchen with its gray cupboards and counter top, and pondered whether I should pour myself a cup or not. I didn’t really like the stuff this machine produced.
Wait a moment. I’d forgotten to punch in. Leaving the Sludge Maker behind, I hurried toward the timer. Just as I left the kitchen, one of my co-workers entered. It was the petite brunette from the far corner that I’d admired secretly. And she didn’t see me.
Before I could step aside, she passed right through me. What the …
“Folks!” The boss’ voice rang over the low hubbub of the office and any noise died immediately. My co-workers stood up to better see him. I, too, turned toward him. Behind me, the petite brunette looked out of the kitchen. Her gaze tingled in my neck, but I didn’t turn. It was too creepy to be watched by a ghost.
“I am sorry to inform you,” the boss’ voice sounded strangely strangled, “that your co-worker Finlay Harper has passed away in the hospital after having a heart attack on the tube this morning. We will prepare …”
Not hearing the rest of what he had to say, I could feel my mouth hanging open, but my mind was too numb to do anything about it. Dead? I was the ghost, not the brunette? But … but … but …
A light, as bright as the sun—if one was stupid enough to look into it—appeared right in front of me. A dog barked. The scent of lilacs, cut grass, freshly brewed coffee, and rolls drifted toward me, and my father’s voice called, “Come on, son. What are you waiting for?”
I’m sorry I missed the September post. Time just ran away from me. My husband turned 60 a few days ago (which needed some organizing), my in-laws hadn’t done their taxes yet (and I’m good with tax documents, so they requested my help), the 5 anthologies for the flood victims here in Germany (July 2021) needed a lot of my attention, and Frankfurt Bookfair (I needed a catalog) and NaNoWriMo (the prep-work is mostly done now) are approaching fast.
Due to this, many of my projects have been pushed back a bit, and I clean forgot about posting in September. But I’m catching up. I’m still good in time with my “52 short story this year” challenge (36 out of 40 finished), the series I plan to write next year under my new pen-name is developing nicely with some really cool ideas, and I’ve got a few really cool client projects that I’m looking forward to or currently working on.
You’ll hear from me again soon because it’s October which means the quarterly Bloghop is due. I hope you’re looking forward to your free stories again.
Oh, and I’d love suggestions on what you’d be interested for themed posts. I’m running out of subjects again, and it’s so much easier to motivate myself when I know what I want to write about.
Between the 12th and 19th of July, many German regions experienced heavy flooding. In many places, it rained more than 150ml per square meter in only 24 hours. Hundreds died (firemen, men, women, and children), many more lost their homes, their possessions, their livelihood. The country was in shock even as help began to get organized.
Just a few days later, I was contacted by a fellow writer I knew from Facebook. She needed a publisher for a charity anthology she was planning, and since I own my own, tiny publishing company, I agreed. Then, the stories began t pour in and they varied so much in genre and target audience, that we decided to split them into 5! themed anthologies.
Since my grandson also is at home right now, kindergarten holidays, I’ve been to busy to breathe. BUT I managed to prepare one more publication for you. The German version of this book has been out for a while. I had this scheduled for much earlier, but never got around to creating the necessary files.
So without further ado, here’s my newest release: The Witches of Greenwitch (it’s on Amazon first, the other retailers will follow asap). And this time you have the choice between eBook, paperback AND hardcover (although the print versions will take a little longer to trickle through the system). Here’s what the story is about:
Can a book-rat haunted by memories escape a determined hunter and save the world she only recently discovered?
Orphaned by an accident, Melissa lives with her aunt and uncle, and reluctantly accompanies them to a holiday at the Baltic Sea. Luckily she brought along a book in which to immerse herself instead. But when she discovers a magical stone, it transports her to Greenwitch, a world that could have been the setting for one of her fantasy novels.
As she searches for a way back, she must cope with giant spiders, stuck-up unicorns, and other legendary creatures. Meanwhile a skilled hunter is tracking her with a handful of trained fighters, and he will stop at nothing to get her magical stone.
Melissa must learn to control the stone’s power to re-balance Greenwitch, or her pursuer and his allies will invade the worlds like locusts and eliminate all magic. Is Melissa strong enough to stop them?
If you like magic, unicorns, and dragons, enjoy Melissa’s adventures. But if you suffer from arachnophobia, don’t touch this book!