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. 😀
The German bloggers of “Our Favorite Books” (Facebook and Webseite) had a genius idea. A whole group of authors and bloggers will each write monthly posts to the following themes:
Since I’ve had problems blogging regularly (blush), I promised myself to be active this time. At least once a month I’ll write something so you’ll know what’s going on. Aside from the themes posted above, I’ll inform you about where I am with my current writing project.
My posts will go life on the 15th of each month here on this website. This is not a New Year resolution (those always fail), but something I’ll do long term. I’d love to see you comment once or thrice because I enjoy feedback of every kind.
I know you’ve been waiting patiently, and I appreciate that. I meant to publish the final volume at the beginning of this year but as you can read if you go to the older posts, that just didn’t work out.
But now, I’m finally able to sit again which means I’m working on the revision. During the time I spent on my belly (roughly from May till now), I translated the chapters I already had using dictation. That went fine, but revision is something that just doesn’t work with dictation. At least not for me.
After I stopped writing the first draft in November last year, I added sentences for the missing scenes so I’d know what needed to be written. Now I’m pretending that I already did write those scenes (7-8 in total) and started on the revision. Naturally I’m using my abbreviated version of How To Revise Your Novel for that since this book is a mess (unwritten scenes, missing clues that are needed for the ending, a superfluous character, and more).
But as my beta readers can attest you, I’m fast when it comes to revision (at least now that I’m more or less healthy again). Therefore I’m aiming for a release in late September. It’s a tight schedule, but I should be able to pull it off IF Murphy doesn’t throw some additional stuff my way (like the broken central heating that needed replacing and that is getting repaired today – grrr). So please don’t get angry should the book get delayed a little more than that. I’m doing my best, working as fast as I can.
As a thank you for your patience, I’m already showing you the cover and hope you like it as much as I do.
Sometimes, life just explodes, and that happened to me in November. In a rapid succession, my kids moved (one even twice), and I was so busy with the paperwork and the actual moving that all my writing plans were blown to smithereens until April.
Then, in May, my doctor found an issue with my digestive system that required a tiny operation. Really, the cut couldn’t have been more than 10mm (a little more than 1/4 inch), but I’ve been flat out ever since. I’m sleeping, swallowing pain meds and sleeping again. It took me by surprise, but seems to be the norm. When I complained, the doc told me, it’ll take roughly six weeks. Thanks for the advance warning. 😀
Well, I did the best I could. Today way my first day of getting back into the swing of things. I lay on my bed and dictated the translation of “High School Dragons: Crowned by Fire”, the final volume of the trilogy. Yes, it’s close to completion. All I need to write is the showdown. Since I need to read the whole story again to get in the right mood, I’m translating at the same time. That saves me time and nerves and makes a late summer/early autumn release likely.
Since the birth of my grandson, I’m having problems to keep my blog up to date. I know you don’t mind (much). However, it’s not only his fault. I couldn’t think of anything beside “buy my books” (naturally you may do that but I don’t want to be reduced to that). So I came up with two themes that have been on my mind recently and decided I’ll post about them.
First, there’s all this cool and weird stuff I do for research. I discover so many interesting facts that it’d be a shame not to share. I’ll start with the Romans, because hubby and I were lucky enough to be able to go on a journey through parts of Germany. During that trip we visited many historical sites with remains from the Romans (you see, immigration happened 2000 ago too). I’l try to post these regularly on Mondays from the beginning of October on (I need to build up a buffer).
Closer to the end of a week, maybe on Fridays, I’ll talk about my path toward a cure or at least a betterment of my Diabetes Type II. In a first step I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing the last three years since diagnosis and what helped. After that, I’ll post a fortnight worth of data collected from a healthy person (I couldn’t find those on the Internet, and hubby graciously agreed to be my guinea pig) and then, I’ll post my progress. Maybe that way I can help people with similar problems.
If there’s still time (or just in between), I’ll point out new releases like my Upper Middle Grade or Lower Young Adult book “Beasthunter”. It can be pre-ordered as an eBook already and will be delivered on October 21.st, the day the paperback will be available on Amazon too.
Here are the blurb and the cover:
To turn his ghostly sister back into a human, twelve-year-old fraidy-cat Tom must fight the Beast, a century old demon stealing kid’s souls.
Tom is afraid of his own shadow. What if it turns into a monster and attacks? Luckily his older sister, Sally, protects him from everything that scares him: classmates, teachers, shadows…
One night during a heavy thunderstorm, a real monster attacks Tom in his very own bed. At the last moment, their new neighbor’s dog saves him from the Beast. But even the Beasthunter and his not so doggish dog can’t stop the creature from turning Sally into a ghost.
Will Tom find the courage to confront the Beast to find out if he can rescue his beloved sister? He has no effective weapons. All he can count on are his ability to see through the Beast’s disguises and the imagination that has given him scares for all his life.
I’m sure you’ve heard of GDPR (German DSGVO) that became enforceable law on the 25th of May. This law has been issued to better protect the data of Internet users (like you and me). Unfortunately it went unnoticed for the longest time, and now many site owners are frantically trying to the their sites compliant. I was incredibly annoyed that none of my hosting companies pointed me to that law with enough time to act. After all it’s been around more or less since 2013!
I’ve always been careful to gather as little data as possible. Therefore I’m all in favor aof the GDPR even though adjusting to it was a lot of work. For more than a month I did nothing but change websites (mine and those of friends) to make them compatible with the new law. I was quite amazed (and not pleasantly) where data was transfered without me even knowing (e.g. When showing share-buttons; I knew that data gets transfered when you click, but already while showing? Well, I found a plugin and the trasfer of data before you click a link is no longer possible.). In that regard especially, the new law is good.
I also used the opportunity to clean up behind the scenes. I also added the books I published in the last two year but never got round to add to my website. Now, everything is up to date again.
Soon, I’m going to change my hosting service. Tigertech is incredible when it comes to service, however they don’t issue data usage contracts as required by EU law. Until I can move my pages, they disabled the collection of data completely. This means that no IP-addresses are stored and no other data either. That makes my sites compliant with GDPR but unfortunately it leaves me without statistics about my visitors that I can analyze to improve my web-presence. When I move my sites, there might be some bumps along the road but I don’t expect any major crashes.
And now that everything here is spiffy again and I got used to the chaos in my life, I promise I’ll blog more often again. 😀
Yes, it’s that time of the year again, the next bloghop is due. This time we’ve got a new (and much nicer, don’t you think?) logo, made by Juneta Key one of the bloghop’s regular authors. For the longest time I didn’t know what to write about until a few days back, I realized that not everybody wakes quite the same way as I do. Naturally, the names of the kids are all made up (to protect their privacy), and I also used a time when they were a lot smaller, but essentially, this is how I get up every morning. I hope you enjoy the story.
A Writer’s Morning
I pull the cover over my head, but it’s suffocating me and it doesn’t shut out the five thirty alarm anyway. I wish I could stay in bed.
“Now, if you take me to the Gruesome Waste, I could be truly heroic. Let me explain,” the main character of my current project says.
Not now, I think. Grumbling, I climb out of bed and use the bathroom. My blood pressure is under the roof already without even listening to the kids’ banter downstairs. How can anyone be so lively this early in the morning? I can’t even muster the necessary strength to remind them to be quiet. I shuffle to the kitchen, prepare coffee for the husband, set the table for those energetic enough to eat, and spread four double slices of bread with butter and anything that’s fresh form the fridge. So far, my packed lunch hasn’t killed anyone – yet.
“Woojee, woojee.” My youngest hugs me. He smells of chocolate and leaves brown stripes on my nighty. “I’m an ambulance.”
“Ambulance,” says my love interest. “Now that’s an idea!”
Not yet! I groan, trying not to be heard by Joey.
“I’m not hungry. Elly made me a toast.” Joey one hugs me again and races off, wailing worse than before. Did I miss a day? Is it a weekend? I gaze at the calendar – no, it’s Wednesday. I’m not wrong. Thanks for that.
“You need to get dressed for school,” The words fall like stones from my mouth. Joey speeds out of the room toward the bath, overtaking Elly on the way. “Me first!”
“Oh, I wish we could have bathrooms,” the antagonist says. “Couldn’t that be my motivation? Bathrooms for all?”
“Not yet!” The tiredness slowly gives way to annoyance.
“How about something to drink?” My husband’s soft voice sounds angelic, calming me instantly. He fills a glass with coffee and milk and puts it beside my plate. A writer’s life juice. I drain it while I stuff lunch boxes into schoolbags and my husband’s briefcase. On the way out, he plants a kiss on my nose that was aimed at my mouth. I stand beside the door like a blade of grass swaying gently. Elly passes me with Joey at her hand. She smiles.
“Will you pick me up in time for swimming?”
“Swimming!” My main character positively beams. “How about me having to find a way through the Gruesome Waste and the only option I seem to have is swimming?”
“Mom?” Elly’s eyebrows rise.
“Sorry, hon. Of course I’ll be there in time.” I smile back and wave until my tow favorite non-adults vanish around a bent in the road just a few paces from the bus stop. Then, I wait until the bus rounds the corner and wave again. When the dust cloud settles, I turn to get dressed.
“Any ideas welcome,” I say to the characters of my WIP. They remain silent.
Jacko, our dog gets up and stretches. When he was younger, he used to get up with me, excitedly jumping around hoping for a long walk. These days he knows me better.
“Well, what was that about the Gruesome Waste?”
Silence. I look at Jacko. His tail starts wagging when I put on my shoes.
“Well, old boy. Another day, another chance, right?” I breathe the air outside. The freshness of the spring morning will get me going. It always does. And usually, it makes the voices in my head come back.
As I jog into the morning, the voices slowly return, filled with nightly discoveries and fresh ideas that need to be evaluated. All the characters clamor for attention. The dog is happy, and so am I. Soon, I’ll be able to write again. Who said that being an early riser was easy?
I hope you liked this story. If you did, check out my books. Also, have a look at these wonderful stories by my fellow writers:
First and most important, do not try to walk through the halls on Saturday (that is a lesson learned during several bookfairs in Leipzig that I visited). On Saturday, everybody and their family will come, so the corridors are stuffed. If you can, Thursday or Sunday are actually the best days to visit.
Leipzig Bookfair is something special. With the addition of the Maga-Comic-Con (with the Cosplayers) and the used-books-fair, it’s also pretty full. However, it’s the best place to actually meet readers. That’s why I come back with the Qindies (Quality Indies) every year for as long as we manage to fund a booth. This year was more successful than any of the years before, and I expect next year to be even better.
Also “Leipzig liest” (Leipzig is reading), the author reading platform of the fair, is a great way to find new readers and fans. Most venues are an absolute pleasure to work with. A car seller decorated his showroom with graves, a hanging skeleton and spooky atmosphere furniture to make our reading an event his customers (and we) are likely to remember.
If you want to go to a German bookfair, Leipzig is the place to go. True, Frankfurt is much bigger but it’s also a lot less personal. I’ll be posting some impressions of the fair in the next days.
And a final thing if you are visiting a bookfair as a vendor (author): Make sure every promo material item does exactly what is is supposed to do. I glitched when I created giveaway cards for an eBook and only discovered after the bookfair that the link I included on the card wasn’t activated. It made me look like an idiot (which I probably am from time to time 😀 )
“I like living here with you alone.” My daughter set aside another darned sock. “Not to forget that the inquisition will never find us here.”
I smiled at her to show her how much I love her, but in secret I longed for something more important to do than making a living. I sighed and went back to my spinning. The regular rhythm and Melinda’s breathing relaxed me and the internal unrest subsided until the peace of our evening routine was disturbed, when something heavy thunked against the window of our little cottage. Since it was dark outside we couldn’t exactly see what it was. My fingers stopped turning the spindle, and we both held our breath, fearing the same. But there was no screaming, no pitchforks, and most of all no fire. Slightly relieved but still wary, I called. “Who’s there?”
“Sh-sh-l ivri” The voice sounded muffled, as if it held something in its mouth and was trying to talk around it. Melinda looked at me, and I looked at Melinda.
“I know someone who talks that way,” I whispered. “But this is a different voice.”
Whoever was outside the window bumped against the delicate pane that kept out the winds. If it broke, winter would send its icy fingers into our home, so I got to the door and opened. But not without stopping at the hearth and picking up the biggest knife we owned. I dropped it the minute the door swung open and revealed a roughly human sized dragon with red scales and a bundle of cloth hanging from its maw. When he saw Melinda standing behind me, he took the bundle out of his mouth and moved his jaw from side to side to loosen the muscles.
“I don’t understand why the boss insists on carrying it in my mouth,” he said and handed the bundle to her. “Special delivery for you. New Stork Inc. sends their congratulations. You’ll find a welcome bonus packed right in.”
With shaking fingers Melinda opened the bundle.
“It’s a boy,” the dragon said needlessly. “Plus a few nappies.”
Melissa’s face mirrored the shock that kept me rooted to the spot. I had to clear my throat several times before I managed to speak. “Why’s Stork sending us a baby? We never ordered one.”
“New policy.” The dragon smiled, displaying more teeth that I was currently happy with. I swallowed, and he smiled some more. “We’ve got a few remnants that need old-style distribution. Your daughter was one of the candidates the boss chose.”
“Remnants? Come in and explain.” I stepped aside. I’d been one of Stork’s helpers for as long as I remembered, learning the midwife’s trade from my mother and passing on my knowledge to Melinda. However, since the inquisition started burning midwifes as witches, we’d gone into hiding. So far successful.
The dragon curled up in front of the hearth, enjoying the warmth of the fire. He puffed a few happy smoke curls before he got to the point. “Stork lost a lot of his delivery crew when the inquisition decided stork deliveries were not real and anyone believing in it was superstitious and needed to be punished. People actually started shooting storks then, I guess because they’re hungry.” He stared into the flames for a while, and I took up my spindle again. He sighed contently. “Well, as I said, Stork lost a lot of his crew that way, so he decided to go direct with a delivery system designed to work without stork transportation. I helped him set up the system. It took quite a lot of magic to get it working properly, believe me.”
“Direct?” My mind whirred. “Stork-free delivery?”
“Well, the seeds get harvested when they’re still in single cell state, and a magical tube shoots them directly into the mother’s belly. It’s a marvel. It really is.” He preened his claws and looked smug. “And I was a major part in developing that system if I may point that out.”
How could Stork send babies straight to the mothers? Into their bellies if I hadn’t misheard. My eyes widened when I realized what that meant. “If he sends the parcel into the mother, it must come back out at some point, right?”
“Yup, and that’s why he’s inviting you to an advanced training in what he calls ‘birth’. That’s short for ‘binary inter-rump transfer holistics’, the name of the new technique. The participants of this course will have to spread the word.”
Suddenly I saw my life stretching out in front of me – always traveling, helping women through ‘birth’ and teaching Stork’s new deliver method throughout the country as best I could while evading inquisition. Ever so often I’d visit Melinda who had to stay behind to take care of her son. Suddenly, Life was exciting again.
My year will be extremely busy, and here’s why: I’m planning on writing 52 short stories this year. I know this sounds crazy, but after the scare with my father’s breast cancer I need a fun challenge, and I love writing short stories. I know I’ll probably not be able to write one short story per week, translate it into German, and post it here on my blog, but I pledge to at least try. My goal is to write enough of them to fill 4 or 5 anthologies. Should you have cool ideas for story prompts, you’re welcome to eMail them to me through the contact form on this site. If it’s a good suggestion, I’ll take it.
To give you an impression on the scope of this challenge, let’s dive into a couple of numbers (strangely enough I love numbers nearly as much as words). A good sized crime novel has between 50 and 75 thousand words, an epic fantasy between 100 and 250 thousand. If I assume an average short story length of 3,000 words, I’m facing 156,000 words plus the same in translations plus the ca. 100K words I need to finish the novella I’m currently writing, the ending of Scotland’s guardians part 2, and another installment of my fairy tale novellas. That makes 412,000 words in total for 2017 (not to forget the publications that need to be done).
Now let’s have a look at my stats from last year: I managed to write and translate a total of 304,574 words. Had I been writing every single day (even on weekends and holidays) that would have been a mere 835 words per day. Taking off weekends and the times my children were not in school, I think I wrote more than twice that amount per day. To make my goal in 2017, I’ll have to write 2,200 words per day. I call that a real challenge, and I won’t bereave myself should I fail. However, my ambition is to make it through the year reaching all my goals.
Wish me luck (and enough writing time)! I will start posting on January 26 when it’s time for the next Story Time Bloghop.
P.S.: If you want to read more than the beginning (the first 100-250 words) of the short stories I manage to write, you will have to be fast (the full version will be available for a few days after posting only) or wait for 2018 when I’ll publish them all in bundles of 5-6 stories.