misc

July 2022:
Bloghop

Somehow time seems to get faster the older I get. It’s depressing to see the end of my life less far away than the start. Add in a good amount of Corona bad news, the frightening developments in the two biggest countries worldwide, and the climate crisis, and you might understand why I find it hard to do regular blog updates or eMail letters. It all seems so pointless.

But then I see my grandson. I revel in the way he enjoys every day, accepts every person as is, loves learning new things without a thought about what will come tomorrow. And I have hope. Hope that things might still change for the better. That’s what always gets me back to writing something.

I hope you’ll like this blog hop’s #free #story. Remember to visit the other participants too. And leave us comments. We love to hear from you. It cheers us up no matter what, because it means someone reads what we write. And that’s worth so much in times like these!

 

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New Stork

“Don’t you miss work?” I asked Melinda.

“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 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.” 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, holistical’, the name of the new technique. We put the holistical at the end because the acronym reads better that way. Stork expects the participants of this course 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 delivery method as best I could while evading the inquisition. Ever so often I’d visit Melinda who had to stay behind to take care of her son.

I laughed out loud. Suddenly, life was exciting again.

 

Visit the others:
First Contact by Barbara Lund

Who Can Blame Him by Bill Bush

The Stuff of Nightmares by Sue Abrie

Regarding Dragons by Vanessa Wells

Midlife Ghostwalker: Katje Storm Episodes 1 thru 10 by Juneta Key

 

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April 2022:
Bloghop

This was a close one. I wrote the story in one sitting on the 25th (links were due on the 22nd, but I know the organizer :D).

My next goal is to write up an idea and a reading sample for a semi-open call of a German publisher before the end of May. We’ll see how that will go. I’ll try to keep you posted.

Now, enjoy the story and remember to visit the other participants’ websites too. And leave a comment!

 

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Coming Out

“Are you coming to the dance club tonight?”, Elsbeth asked Vinny as they sat cross-legged on the flowery duvet on Vinny’s bed. “It’s going to be girls night, and you so love to dance.”

“I’d be all alone.” Vinny shuddered. She’d never gone anywhere without at least one family member around. The very idea scared her. What if the others didn’t like her? What if she needed help? Safety lay in numbers.

Elsbeth laughed. “It’s an evening of dance and merriment. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Vinny lay back and stared at the white ceiling of her room with her heart thundering in her chest. Elsbeth had gone so many times already, but whenever asked, Vinny had declined. Somehow it seemed her duty to agree this time, but that didn’t make the decision any easier. Even the green and yellow wallpaper didn’t calm her nerves like it normally did.

“Can’t Joe come along?” She knew Elsbeth liked Joe.

“He’s got two left feet.” Elsbeth slipped off the bed and opened the wardrobe. “You could finally wear your new dress.” She pulled out a white dress with black polka dots. The body fitting top and the wide skirt with its seven layers of underskirts were Vinny’s pride and she’d never had a chance to put it on so far.

Breathing deeply, Vinny nodded. “Okay. I’ll come. But promise you won’t leave me alone.”

“I swear.” Elsbeth grinned from one ear to the next, and her teeth gleamed in the sunlight falling through the yellow curtains.

***

The dance hall smelled strongly of straw which was no wonder since it used to be a barn. The familiar scent calmed Vinny’s nerves somewhat.

“See, it’s not as bad as you thought.” Elsbeth dragged her deeper into the throng of people. “Let’s show off your dress.”

Vinny found it hard to follow her. Too many people milled around, and soon Elsbeth was lost in the sea of faces. The full moon was already up, and the music was loud enough to wake the dead, and everyone seemed to be determined to move to the rhythm one way or the other. Aside from the DJ’s table and a hastily constructed counter where drinks were sold, the room was bare. As far as Vinny could tell, it was better that way. Hundreds of teens her age swayed on the dance floor—although Vinny wasn’t sure how they could tell the area for dancing from the area for socializing.

“Hello. Beauty.” Warm breath caressed her ear. “All by yourself on a lovely night like this?”

She flinched and turned, finding herself nose to nose with a young man slightly older than her. Jared was the head of her school’s soccer team, and she’d dreamed of him for at least two years. His eyes held a glitter that made her already wobbly legs shake. His smile created dimples in his long, handsome face. Vinny’s heart raced, even though the scent of dog, drifting off of him, didn’t suit him at all.

“My friend …” She tried to look around, but the young man had already grabbed her arm.

“I’ll show you the ropes until he shows up.” Jared nodded toward the bar. “Care for a drink?”

“No, I—”

Ignoring her answer, he pulled her along, waved at the barkeeper, and handed her a cocktail glass with something that smelled of lemon with a tangy note to it.

Vinny closed her eyes for a moment and let his flirting wash over her. It felt so good. If it hadn’t been for her exceptional sense of smell, she could have fallen for him. But so … this had gone on long enough. She opened her eyes again, breathed deeply to gather her resolve, and said. “Sorry, but I don’t drink anything but plain water. I will leave now.”

The smile on Jared’s face faltered, but then returned full force. “Naturally I will accompany you, lovely lady.” Grabbing Vinny’s arm, he headed for the rear exit, a small door set into the wall behind the counter. His fingers dug into her arm.

Vinny allowed him to pull her along and used the time to scan the dance floor for Elsbeth but she was nowhere in sight. She should have known better than to trust her promises. Elsbeth always meant well but she just didn’t understand how hard it was for Vinny and her family in a town of were-wolves.

Once through the door, Jared turned and pushed her against the barn’s wall. One arm raised over her head, the other still holding her arm, his face closed in on Vinny.

Albeit reluctantly, she turned her head sideways to evade his kiss. “I’m quite sorry,” she said. “But I am not interested in dating a wolf.”

“Not even an alpha?” His eyes grew darker. “You’re beautiful and your smell is so enticing.”

His pheromones hung in the air like a heady perfume. Vinny’s heart raced and she wanted nothing more than to throw herself into his arms.

“I can feel that you’re a were too.” He stared into her eyes without coming any closer. “Don’t you feel it too?”

Vinny couldn’t answer. Her blood roared in her ears and the need to share the night with another were, burned in her blood. If only it hadn’t been full moon.

“Be mine tonight,” Jared’s whisper filled her senses. “And I’ll be yours forever.”

Vinny didn’t manage to speak. The change she had suppressed for so many years finally had overcome her. A loud moan escaped her lips as her bones melted and reorganized themselves.

Jared stood back, his eyes wide with wonder. “You’re a …”

“A were-cow, yes.” Elsbeth stepped out of the door, aiming a handgun at him. “And if you harm even a single hair on her body, I’ll pump a round of silver bullets into you.”

“Why would I harm her?” Jared didn’t even look at Elsbeth. “She’s perfect. Beautiful and perfect.”

Vinny saw the adoration on his face and for the first time ever, she felt she might belong after all.

He groaned as the change came over him, too.

Vinny’s heart danced as his body settled into that of a strong, healthy bull. Side by side, they walked away into the night, leaving behind a girl with a gun and an open mouth.

 

Visit the others:
Rabid Rabbits Revenge by Jemma Weir
Dragon’s Tale by S. R. Olson
Jory’s Gamble by Juneta Key
The Ballad of Jamie Stewart by Vanessa Wells
Tribute by Lyssa Medana
Moon Flower by Melanie J. Drake
Battlefield by Barbara Lund

 

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More cats than you can handle?

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).

I told you it might be more than you can handle. 😀 So head over to get the bundle right now or read more about the stories and their authors below.

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

*~*~*

Convinced you NEED to check out this bundle? Go straight to the good stuff and enjoy!

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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*).

This year’s theme is: Magic

 

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Month September:
Bloghop

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.

 

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Themed Month March:
release and bookbinding

This month the second of my fairy tale retellings bundles will be published on the 19th on Amazon (the other shops will follow 90 days later).

This omnibus contains the retellings of The Hut in the Forest, Hänsel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty. Of course, it also contains the originals of those tales in case you don’t know the story, plus three bonus stories going along with each retelling. To round off the bundle, I included a brand new, never before published bonus story based on The Brave Little Tailor and its original. If you haven’t read my retellings yet, you should try them:

 

Cover Fairy Tale Retellings Bundle 2

A hunted mechanic, lovers torn apart, and a beauty sleeping away her life must discover the truth or die trying…

Once upon a time there was magic. But even in fairy tales, time does not stand still. From mechanical gadgets to steam-driven machines, new inventions clash with old powers.

A young mechanic must evade execution after discovering the Hut in the Forest, slave traders are hunting Hänsel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty has to break the curse before it kills her. Will magic be their salvation? Or technology? Or will both only create more havoc?

Find out how your favorite fairy tale characters survive in a world where technology suppresses magic.

 

I also started a new project that might be of interest to you. A friend of mine sent me three books she very much loves but that have suffered badly over time. They were all partially ripped, one was missing pages, and one was even slightly moldy. I’m doing my best to restore them. You can follow my efforts on my Facebook Page or on Instagram (the accompanying texts are German, please don’t be put off by that; FB has a translation button that works reasonably well).

In the first step, I dried the books (in my oven for 3hrs at 70°C), then took them apart to look at the damage. I’m now at the stage where I reinforce the fold of the paper-sheets with a thin paper so I can start sewing. If you’re interested in my progress, head over to FB or Insta and follow me there.

 

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Themed Month February:
free story

Pst, it’s me again. You can now get my fairy tale retellings in four bundles with really cool covers. Each omnibus got a brand new, never before published bonus story. If you haven’t read the tales yet, go and get them:

 

Today, you’ll get a free short story from me. I was asked to include: Valentine or Love or Anti-Love, Cat, Grimoire and Fire. I hope you’ll like what I came up with. Again there’s a list of more participants of this BlogHop after my story. Enjoy and leave a comment!

 

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Heart of Fire

Going to the Witch Hunt Remembrance Fire with Gregory had been Jackie’s desire since she’d been allowed to go the first time at age thirteen. Two years later, her biggest dream was about to come true.

Fighting her elation, she’d put on her best black dress—the one that looked least sun-bleached—and even found a purple scarf with matching stockings that would go with it. Unfortunately there wasn’t much she could do about her squished witch’s hat or her sturdy boots. With the family finances like they were, she had to wear what they could afford.

How had Gregory noticed her? Normally, he only hung out with the in-crowd. It didn’t matter. He was going to take her along as his partner, not any of the other girls.

Wrapped in a wide, black cloak she’d inherited from her gran—one of the last True Witches—Jackie waited for her beau. Her heart beat frantically when the limousine stopped in front of her house.

But no one opened the door for her, and when she climbed inside on her own, the long interior room with the dark blue velvet seats was empty. Even the tinted glass between her and the driver was closed. She’d never felt this lonely. The disappointment gnawed at her heart.

Just as she was about to step back out, the limousine drove off. The door closed with a thud, and Jackie fell into one of the soft velvet seats.

Meow!

The sound came from one of the hidden compartments near the front of the long room, and the order was indisputable. Wrapped as tightly into her cape as possible, Jackie opened the small door, ready for a furred fury to attack anyone in sight. She’d never been particularly good with familiars.

But the cat—a black tom with white front paws—just walked out, tail held high and meowed again as if to say, “What took you so long?” It turned and stared at Jackie.

A few heartbeats later, the limousine stopped and the door was ripped open.

“There’s tonight’s princess!” Gregory’s voice was like honey and made her knees wobble.

The tom mewed in disdain, scratching the extended hand before Jackie could grab it.

“Yikes, why did you bring that monster?” Gregory sucked at his fingers while Jackie climbed out of the limousine.

“He isn’t mine. He was locked in a compartment.” Why did she have the feeling she had to defend herself?

Gregory grunted and took her upper arm. None too gently, he pulled her on the path uphill, toward the bonfire. As tradition demanded, it burnt in a ring of stones on top of an airy hill next to a spring. All four elements combined were the token that the witch hunts would never return. By the elements, the last few True Witches had made peace with the None Talented a century or so ago.

Jackie was looking forward to dancing around the fire. When the flames died down, those whose powers had already manifested would jump through the flames, the others would wait to jump the glowing embers.

Jackie loved the flames. In her family most members were fire witches. She breathed in the aromatic scent of smoking wood. It seemed to be calling for her, but no. It was just the dratted cat, hissing at Gregory.

Only when they neared the groups of teens dancing around the flames did she notice that no adults were around.

Where were the supervisors? She would never have gotten permission to come if the school hadn’t promised to bring in supervisors. And Gregory’s grip on her arm was beginning to hurt. Just as she was about to turn to head home—even with Gregory by her side she wasn’t ready to face the school bullies without adults nearby—two heavily built young men approached. Thank the Mother, Gregory has brought his bodyguards to protect me. Jackie relaxed as they stepped beside her.

“You’re sure about this?” Gregory asked someone behind Jackie.

“Witches take up to fifteen minutes to catch fire.” It was Dina’s voice, and it seemed to douse Jackie in ice water.

Gregory nodded to his bodyguards. Four strong hands grabbed Jackie’s arms. And before she could so much as protest, she flew into the heart of the fire.

The heat and the smoke from the burning timbers stung on her skin and made breathing hard. She teared up. Tendrils of fire seemed to wrap around her arms and legs, prolonging the flight. Hot air whipped up her hair and made it dance.

Meow! The tom jumped after her, and they hit the white hot coals throwing up a shower of sparks. Jackie fell forward and her hand landed on a searingly hot pebble. Still her fingers closed around it instinctively. To examine it, she blinked away her tears. They dropped onto the hot stone with tiny hisses, their vapor licked up by flames and carried away by the hot air.

Then the pebble changed. It expanded, grew rectangular and flat and softened to the touch. The corners turned to gilded metal. A grimoire? Only the rare True Witches owned one.

Jackie was so excited, she didn’t notice the fire’s discomfort any longer.

“I knew it,” the tom said. “From the moment I set my eyes on you, I knew you’re a True Witch. One of the few that can balance all four elements.”

“You can talk?” All of a sudden, Gregory, Dina, and all the others were farther away than the moon.

“How else do you expect me to teach you?” The tom sat down and began to lick his up-stretched hind leg. “Aren’t you going to punish them?”

“Now, that sounds like a really good idea.” Jackie grinned and pulled the fire to her. Flicker by glow by flame, it came to her, climbed her legs, spread over her body, her face, her hair, and her arms. Like a living torch, she stepped off the bonfire.

Gregory turned paler than the white sand of the sea, and if not for his bodyguards, he would have dropped where he stood. They carried him downhill as fast as they could. Following them, Dina screamed like a banshee as she ran. Most of the other kids fled too. Only a few reached for blankets and the fire extinguisher valiantly.

Before they could do anything, Jackie sent the flames back to the bonfire.

“All the better for us,” she said to the stunned helpers and pointed to the long table covered with delicacies. “Let’s party!”

The tom stalked off the bonfire and sat beside her. “I’m quite proud you didn’t hurt anyone.”

“They’ll be running home to mommy and daddy, wailing about murdering me.” Jackie spoke with a new spark in her voice. “Let them get themselves into trouble for a while.”

“I knew, you’d be the right kind of witch for me.” The tom lolled his tongue and it looked just like he was laughing.

_________________________

More participants of the BlogHop and their stories:

III – The Empress by Raven O’Fiernan

Recognition by Sara R. Cleveland

Careful What You Wish For by Nic Steven

Jesse and Tyler by Bill Bush

Sweet Vengeance by Sabrina Rosen

Patent of Marriage by Grace Craddock

Love, Drunk, and Cupid by Jemma Weir

Stop Dragon My Heart Around by Elizabeth McCleary

Any Other Way by Barbara Lund

Date Swap by Sandra Kleinschmitt

 
#free #stories #fairytaleretelling #publication #eBook #book

 

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Themed Month January:
The New Year

Welcome to the new year. Hopefully 2021 will be better to us, even though it started out with a BANG (not only in the news but in my family too). Before you’re scared off by the rant that’s following (only this once, promised), please leave your wishes for subjects or themes I should be blogging about. I’ve run out of ideas again but would love to create a list of interesting topics like last year to help me through the year. Just leave me a topic in the comments.

And now back to the two ps I’m not going to mention again after this post: the current political upheavals and the pandemic. We’ll start with the latter. I know the restrictions for the pandemic are hard for everyone, but don’t forget that everyone suffers for the sake of their fellow humans. But that is not the only way how you can help if you want.

Do you have a family member, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance you haven’t been in contact for a while? Call them. Make sure they’re okay, that no black clouds are hanging over them. Depression sneaks up on you and sometimes you don’t even know you’ve got it before it’s too late. If you’ve got the funds, gift your friend a book or eBook. Taking one’s mind off the two ps is a good way to find your center again.

And don’t forget yourself either. If you’re living alone, try to get some fresh air daily, even if it’s just standing at a window for a little while (better would be a walk in an uncrowded area). Keep your distance from anyone not living with you and wear a mask. And if you feel like it, let me know you’re okay. I keep worrying about my family, my friends, and my readers. Hopefully this will be over soon.

As to the second p (politics), I’ll just say, listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger. He might not be a specialist on Nazis, but he’s lived through what they left of the German countries. Since the aim of Nazis is the destruction of democracy, the ONLY way to handle Nazis is to chase them away, cut off their access to mass media, and/or lock them up (if they can be rightfully charged). And that is NOT censorship. They’re still allowed to say what they believe. It’s just a severe reduction of their platform. One thing to always keep in mind: if you find yourself agreeing with a Nazi (or similar), you’re in the wrong. There’s no debate possible about that.

I am not taking sides. I just would like to drop one thought into your minds. Here in Germany, we’ve got Conservatives too (plus many more parties), but even the ones farthest to the right are still pro democracy. If the people you support aren’t, you should rethink your values.

Thank you for bearing with me. I (hopefully) won’t need to rant again any time soon.

 

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Themed Month December:
Year’s End Conclusions

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.
 

Cover of

 

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).

 

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Themed Month November:
Women Power

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.”

To read these dark stories, get them now.

 

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.

 

#faktastischernovember #faktastisches2020 #faktastischdurchdasjahr #wirsindfaktastisch

 

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Liebster Blog Award 2011