I can’t believe it’s December already. Publishing-wise, the year was quite successful. I managed to release a new book every single month since April, and I’ve still got a few more lined up. This month’s title is the fifth in my “Gaggle of Stories” Series and it contains eleven playful short and shorter tales. Grab your copy.
Free minds and unbroken spirits will find creative solutions …
With enough imagination, problems turn into opportunities. With enough creativity, the biggest struggle can be overcome.
A cat must fight its fear of water to save the world.
A party-girl’s dream of an early retirement evaporates as she gets involved with an escaped slave.
A young witch who pretends to be old falls for a truth loving magician.
When a young artist dreaming of grandness is demoted to kitchen duty, she gets creative.
There’s no guarantee that the adventurers will survive their exploration of Softrock Mountain.
A young girl’s move to the countryside proves more magical than anticipated.
When a desperate girl gets a chance to visit Australia magically it might change her future.
A young student writes a very honest essay about the Salem Witch Trials.
Kissing a frog does have consequences after all.
In the kingdom of words, an insignificant nurse faces annihilation when she sets out to save the king.
A mistreated girl must protect her Halloween sweets from the school bullies or face her mother’s wrath.
These lighthearted fantasy stories illuminate what it takes to enjoy life to its fullest, even if you have to start over. Get your copy now.
Other than that, this year was a catastrophe. I’m not just talking about the pandemic. Have you noticed how early the trees turned red? Stress from too little water. The soils here in Germany (and most likely all over the world) are rapidly losing water, and there’s not enough rain to replenish the reservoirs. It might still be a few more years, but we’re facing a world without the kind of trees we know. For the first time in my life, I’m more scared than I care to admit.
And even my haven, the one place where I was able to refill my resilience all these years, has dwindled. I didn’t write much (barely 1/4 million words, most of that in short stories and translations). November – strike that – the whole year didn’t go as planned. Writing fell to the wayside, and financially, it was a disaster. Not a single book fair to go to (the online events were trying hard but couldn’t really compete), no readings, no direct interaction. I missed that so much (even more than the money I didn’t make).
At the beginning of the pandemic, we couldn’t visit our special needs kids for over 1/2 year. They were very brave and coped, but the fallout only became visible after. My eldest is extremely clingy at the moment and the youngest withdrew and is worrying about her future. It will take many visits and hours of telephoning to return them to +-normal.
I don’t really want to complain though. After all, we’re healthy. my grandson is striving, and life is still interesting enough. That said, have you already checked out “The Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar“? It’s still time to enjoy the stories, and if you sign up for the daily alerts before the 24th, you’ll get them bundled including the bonuses in a single (free) eBook.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (and let’s hope the next year will be better).
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?
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:
Together with my book, you can get more than 40 other speculative fiction eBooks for free in this promotion. It is open until September 14th. Go and grab your copies now (you’ll have to find the books you’re interested in on a retailer if you want to read the blurb). I am giving away Amadi, the Phoenix, the Sphinx, and the Djinn.
It was one of the first books I published. Back then, I knew next to nothing about cover art, coding, or creating print books. Since I’ve learned a lot in these areas, I updated the story about a girl in an Arabian Night’s setting. To celebrate the re-release I am giving the story away through instaFreebie until the 14th of September. Get the book here.
About the book
Amadi enjoys the busy frenzy the souk and tries to escape the harem her stepmother rules as often as possible. Unlike her sister Bülbül she feels caged, not protected. When Bülbül becomes engaged against her will, Amadi longs to evade a similar kismet.
Luckily a master thief wants her as an apprentice, and she grabs the chance to live like a boy. Too bad that she and her teacher become targets of a jackal-headed god of death and an assassin when they accept an assignment from a magic-using customer.
Who wants them dead so badly remains a mystery she must solve to survive. And now that she fell head over heels in love, she very much wants to live. With her life spinning out of control, will her skills be enough to save her … and, maybe, the caliphate too?
I know, I should be posting more often again, especially since the summer is over. Strangely enough, time seems to have accelerated and, after an initial lag I’m whizzing along (like in those newer Star Trek movies where the light of the power-units expands while the Enterprise seems to be stuck in one place for a second before it zooms away with warp-speed). Not that I like it, mind, but there are so many things I didn’t get done in the summer (due to the heatwave and a couple of personal catastrophes), that the mountain of work barely shrinks.
Still, I just discovered that I completely and utterly forgot to let you know about my upcoming release of “Juma’s Rain” (you might remember the posts I did about the NOK-culture and Stone Age tools and weapons). I’m currently in the process of coding the eBook and print book and will hopefully be able to post the link to the pre-order page some time soon. For now, I’ll share with you the gorgeous cover, Hendry Iwanaga made for me (well, he drew the picture, I did the fonts etc.):
And this will be the full cover, front and back, for the print version:
wrap around print cover
Oh, and I’m currently releasing another 99ct short-story too. It’s about a gen-designed newt-human who has to escape two hunters. Here’s the cover and the blurb for “Newtling“:
I love my webbed fingers and my ability to stay under water for a long time…
I don’t mind that my backside is blue with brownish dots and my belly bright orange…
Neither do I care that me and my family are much smaller than our creator though we share his genes…
But what I do hate is being hunted … especially since I’m unarmed and running through the local swamp. Can a newtling like me outsmart two hunters and their state-of-the-art hunting gear?
This short story takes you into the mind of a genetically engineered newt-human-crossover and lets you witness his struggle to survive.
15 page short story with an XXL reading sample of “Paralan’s Children”, a YA scifi murder mystery.
This year, I will be attending the Leipzig Book Fair (Germany) where I will display my fairy tale series. The first book in the series already received the Qindie-award AND the B.R.A.G. medallion, both seals of quality for Indie authors.
The third book in the series, also honored with the Qindie-award, will be available as an eBook on March 12th, the day the Leipzig Book Fair opens (for those who are there, I’ll be in hall 5 at stall B302). The German print version is already available, the English print versions will follow soon.
About the Book:
Once upon a time in a world where magic and technology collide with unexpected consequences…
After her father is caught in the act of stealing a jeweled rose, Luna and her brother face a penalty worse then execution unless she works as the king’s mechanic. With her brother’s safety in mind, Luna does her best to please the king, trying to ignore his best friend, who is very interested in bedding her. As if these troubles weren’t enough, the king crashes a machine she considered safe to use and nearly dies. Can she keep him alive long enough to avert danger to herself, her brother, and possibly the whole kingdom?
What if Charles Perrault’s Beauty can do more than soften the heart of a beast? The book includes a bonus story and the original fairy tale.
When I learned to read, I inhaled fairy tales. The first book I ever wrote (now sleeping peacefully in a drawer) was a fairy tale kind of story. Many of my early attempts, handed in to editors with a hopeful heart, reminded of fairy tales. And then… nothing for many, many years. I wrote Fantasy, SciFi, Urban Fantasy, Historical novels and even Non-Fiction, but never a fairy tale any more. I guess it was because of all the rejections I got and that basically said, fairy tales don’t sell.
The Dwarf and the Twins
These days, I believe differently. So when my Muse (my creative side) offered me a series of fairy tale retellings at novella length (100 pages max.), I was delighted. In three months, I wrote three stories, revised them and translated two of them. There are more to come since I already got ideas for at least two more stories set in the same world. I’m having a blast.
But for now, I have the pleasure to announce the release of the first volume in my “Treasures Retold” series: The Dwarf and the Twins, a retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” by the Brothers Grimm.
The original story tells of two innocent maidens who help a talking bear through the winter. They also help a vicious dwarf despite his bouts of anger. In this tale, the dwarf is a little different, as is the bear…
Martin lives a solitary life in the kingdom’s big forest. One day, he encounters a pregnant woman who is fleeing from the king’s soldiers. Little does he know that helping her will change his life forever, for the twins she bears will not stand idly by when his life is threatened.
The books in this series will all contain the retelling, a bonus story and the original tale (for some fairy tales will be quite unknown).
I hope you will have as much fun reading the tale as I had writing it. Please help me spread the word.
As the central kingdom of the Lands of Hope languishes without rule or reason under a worsening pall of chaos, most Children of Hope stand by and do nothing. The few who would dare are outcasts and strangers, either too high up, or too far inside, or still too young to help. Worse, all their scattered mysteries seem unconnected.
Treaman the Woodsman struggles to guide his companions through ensorcelled wildlands to safety. The poorest knight in the city prays by Conar’s statue for weeks without ceasing, as though his life depends on it. The young scribe Anteris copies histories for his master by day, dreams of adventure till sunset, and searches the stars by night for the riddle of his future. A noble Conarian heir seeks to join a lost legendary Order, putting his duty before his life. A gentle Elvish sage confronts the greatest of puzzles, the closed door barring the way to friendship with his greatest, and most dangerous pupil.
For Solemn Judgement, the Man in Grey, is learning that names are indeed important when he shows… Strength of Conviction.
Go and grab it, and if you like it, please leave a review and buy the second book too. He needs all the help you can give.
This is a call to action. I’m trying to get enough funds to finance a print run for the German translation of reMIND, a graphic novel. Since the story is freely available online and suitable for all reading ages, it makes perfect learning material for anyone studying the language.
Of course, if you’ve got relatives or friends who still read German, or if you’ve got relatives over here, in my home country, please let them know about this campaign. I need as many people to support it as possible.