This year hasn’t been good to me. I’ve been out with an illness that was supposed to be a minor nuisance but turned into nearly half a year of convalescence. I did finish “High School Dragons 3: Crowned by Fire” (more on that later) and just got it back from the editor. Getting it published asap is my highest priority. At the same time preparations for the Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar are underway (this year’s theme: dragons!), as well as the preparation of my NaNo novel. You see, I’m very, very busy.
That doesn’t stop me from participating in the Storytime Blog Hop again. This episode will also be featured in one of the two Halloween episodes of the “Alone in a Room With Invisible People” Podcast (FB page is here). Check it out, it’s awesome. So without further ado, my whimsical story for the hop. I hope you’ll like it. As always, remember to visit the other participants (list below the story).
Edda’s Second Chance
Edda didn’t want to leave the afterlife to become an invisible friend. Not even the reward, a day of being human again, excited her. She only agreed after securing another boon.
As a slave, sex toy, and food tester for a rich Roman, she hadn’t enjoyed life. Her only fond memory was of his face, as he realized she’d poisoned the wine.
Grinning at the memory, Edda slipped into a little girl’s room. Only in second grade, Suzie already was victim to severe bullying. Edda wondered how she might help.
It turned out to be easy. Suzie was still young enough to believe in her. So Edda scouted routes, kept Suzie away from the two bullies, and encouraged her to learn Judo, which did wonders for Suzie’s self-esteem.
Halloween rolled around.
Since Edda didn’t feel like having a day off, she and Suzie devised a plan. In human form, Edda hid behind trees and followed Suzie as she and her best friend collected sweets. As expected, the bullies showed up soon.
Edda jumped out of her hiding place, grabbed the boys’ bags, knocked them over hard, and pretended to attack Suzie. As discussed, Suzie grabbed her lapels, and threw her over her shoulder. Edda dropped the bags and fled. Suzie handed the boys their bags.
After that, they protected her, and Edda was assigned a new case.
James father came home drunk every night, and James prayed half the day that he’d be too tired to hit his mom. But that hardly ever happened. Edda did her best to hide the three year old, but James’ mother’s screams found him everywhere. Every night, the boy fell asleep crying, no matter what Edda tried.
One day, she hid him in the garage under the car, and James climbed into the motor compartment. Something ripped and squirted oil, so she convinced James to hide someplace else.
The next day, his father had a car accident which kept him in the hospital for months. Unfortunately that saved his life because the doctors discovered a heart problem.
During his absence, James bloomed, making friends and even laughing. His mother, too, looked healthier and happier—until the day her husband returned and the beating commenced.
A decision grew in Edda’s heart. She could barely wait for Halloween. Rising early, she hugged James and told him to hide in the garden shed at nightfall. He complied. Then, she called in her second boon.
When the moon rose, she turned into the Grim Reaper—scythe and all—and knocked at the door of James’ home.
The father opened. Already drunk, he swore and staggered. “No party here.” He lifted his meaty fist to slam it into her face. With a laugh, she lifted her head so he could look under her hood into the non-existent face.
He paled, gurgled, and clutched his chest. With his family hiding, there would be no help. Edda walked away smiling.
Maybe being an invisible friend wasn’t too bad after all.
Sometimes, we’ve got emerging writers participating that don’t (yet) have their own blog. That’s when one of the organizers or participants hosts the new writer’s story. Here’s one by Rebecca Anne Dillon, a student of Holly Lisle’s. She normally writes very long family stories. Enjoy her story.
Very Thin Line
by Rebecca Anne Dillon
In 1869 on All Hallows Eve, ten-year-old Jasper Remington is dressed in a ghost costume, and has finished trick or treating on the streets of Ohio. He carries his little hessian sack with pennies in it, heading home… but he never arrives.
A hundred and fifty years later on All Hallows Eve, he is wearing the same costume, carrying the same sack, and he’s knocking on doors, still trying to get more pennies for his sack, but no adult can see him. However, at one house he’s seen by the family dog, Lady Penelope, who begins whimpering and shivering. When he moves toward her, she hides under the chair in the hallway and refuses to come out.
In that same house, ten-year-old William Remington comes downstairs wearing an old white sheet with eye holes and a mouth hole cut out.
“Mom, here is my costume!” he says, “Can I please take Lady Penelope out trick or treating?”
His mother smiles. “Of course.”
But it’s a ghost costume… and when Lady Penelope sees it, she goes back under the chair in the hallway, and stays there until William leaves with his jack ‘o lantern candy basket. She refuses to go with him. So William leaves alone, and trick-or-treats alone.
He has just left one front door with more candy when he sees a kid in a ghost costume like his with a little burlap sack sitting on the sidewalk crying. William asks the kid, “Why are you crying?”
The boy says, “No one opens the door when I knock. And dogs bark at me, or run and hide. Like your dog. When she saw me, she ran under a chair in your hallway.”
William sits on the sidewalk next to the boy so he can talk to him. He asks, “What’s your name?”
And the boy answers, “Jasper Remington.”
William says, “My name is William Remington. I wonder if we’re related?” And suddenly he realizes that he can see a bit of the sidewalk right through Jasper. The more he looks, the more he can see through the other boy. He whispers, “Grown-ups can’t see you, and Penelope is afraid of you, because you’re a real ghost…”
Jasper gets very angry. He doesn’t want to be a real ghost. But he’s happy that this one boy can see him. Can talk to him. Because the more he looks at William, the more Jasper realizes that he can see through William, too.
Jasper pushes up against William, and both boys blend.
Jasper can feel himself breath in for the first time in forever. He shouts, “I’m alive!” And he locks William way down deep, so deep he’ll never escape.
Because on All Hallow’s Eve, life calls to death, and blood calls to blood. And on All Hallows Eve, the very thin line between life and death merges.
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.
Whoosh … there went the time and it’s summer already. I did manage to get most of the final volume of the High School Trilogy written and translated and hope to finish the end this month. If all goes as planned, the release will be some time in early autumn.
But now, it’s time for the Storytime Blog Hop again. Don’t forget to visit the other participants (the list is below my story).
The Salem Witch Trials and what we can learn from them
by Amalia Tenner, class 4c
Witches have always been hunted and killed without good reason. In Europe the main time for killing witches was from 1550 to 1650, but America did not kill witches before the Salem Witch Trials – well, not many that is.
It seems that the people who initi started the trails didn’t want women to ride brooms and go to parties with men they didn’t know, in particular the deivl. They thought that atrocious, and I’ve often wondered why that led to the torture of 55 people and the killing of 20 supposed witches, mostly women.
So here comes my reasoning.
I’ve heard Pa tell Mom that he’d like her to ride his broom again, and she blushed and giggled. So it probably was something I wasn’t meant to hear. After some research, I found that “riding a broom” sometimes refers to the sexual act. Which is kinda strange because, you know, it also refers to using a broom to clean the house and to go flying through the air on an oldfashioend broom with a wooden brush.
So I think that during the Witch Trials, women and men were talking about different things. Men didn’t want their wives and daughters to have sex, especially not with people they didn’t know. But women wanted to clean their houses. After all, a dirty house isn’t very nice, especially if you wanted to invite neighbors for a party.
Conclusion (what we can learn):
We can learn that we should always be very clear about what we’re talking about. Misunderstandings lead to arguing and that can easily go bad fast. So better be careful what you say, or else…
Sandra Tenner put down her daughter’s homework, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. Then she pointed at the stapled sheets and spoke a Word of Command. The piece of lined paper with the round writing obediently vanished and reappeared in Amalia’s school bag beside the table in class.
As I said last time, Romans liked colors. They painted the walls of their homes with different shades of red, white and green, often mixed with mosaics, patterns, or detailed murals. Often, the outsides of the houses were painted too. In the recreated houses in Xanthen, the color of choice was a dark-ish red. In these two photos you can see a restored restaurant, but the color was the same as on the private homes. I cannot tell you if the archeologists got that from research in Roman documents, from finds on other sites (like Pompeij) or from finds on this site, but it surely looked nice.
The restored restaurant even had a cellar, a feature many of the houses didn’t have. But the restaurant had to keep wine and vegetables cooled. Storing them underground was the best way to keep them because even in summer, the soil remained fresh and cold in a cellar. The thick walls and the buried amphorae ensured this. Food was fetched as needed.
I can’t tell how many houses shared this feature but would expect that at least the upper class had their own cellars if for wine only.
Not far from the restored restaurant were the remains of a smithy. You can see how sturdily the foundations were built. Some bricks were built in vertically to better spread out the weight of walls, floors, and furniture resting on top of them. This photo is quite interesting because by the size and form of the foundations one can determine where the walls used to be, and also where the furnace and the anvil must have stood.The open areas between the foundations were there to allow the hot air from the floor heating to circulate.
At home the Romans dressed casually but, since Germany was a comparatively cold country, with warm dresses. The Roman men adapted with time and often wore the long under-trousers that German men wore. The toys of the children were often similar to those still used today (waddling animals like ducks, spinning tops, marbles, etc.). Shoes were made of leather and protected the feet from the cold and the sharpest shards. Still, you felt every stone through the thin sole (I know because I bought a pair for myself. They’re very comfortable but much like walking barefoot).
As far as I could tell, Romans loved bright colors. The fabrics in the rooms we saw were mostly yellows, greens, reds, and the natural shades of wool. Strangely enough I didn’t see any floor coverings or wall hangings (like carpets or tapestries). I’m not sue if they didn’t exist or if the reconstructing people just didn’t think them important. To me, the rooms looked rather spartan (in the modern sense of the word since Romans most likely didn’t copy Spartan living styles 😀 )
When the Romans left the house, they had a strict dress code. The amount and quality of the fabric a person wore depended on the family’s financial situation. The more and the better, the higher your status. Togas were used for keeping warm during winter but also for showing respect. For example: women who didn’t cover their feet with the toga they were wearing weren’t respectable. In Roman times, only whores and the very poor would show their feet. A man could even divorce his wife if she was seen withe more than the tips of her toes showing beneath her toga. So the picture on the right is wrong in that regard (I’ll tell you in a later post how I learned these details).
As you can see in the picture on the left, security measures during work weren’t yet invented. Like this smith, the Romans wore comfortable clothes for even the most dangerous work. I bet there were a lot of work related accidents.
Germans wore far warmer clothing. Since they didn’t have amenities like heated floors, they wore long skirts and heavy trousers even inside their houses. Outside they usually had several layers to keep off the cold and the rain. I guess in summer they wore pretty much the same indoors as out. But our guide didn’t say anything about that, so that’s guesswork on my side.
I believe that most Romans in Xanthen bought their fabric from Germans except for the richest who surely imported theirs directly from Rome. But not everybody had the means to do that. Our guide confirmed active trading.
Not much to say but that I’m very tired and extremely busy. Some things leech more strength than I had anticipated, mostly due to stupid people. So I dug out this old writing exercise for you. I still quite like it despite its obvious flaws. Have fun, and don’t forget to visit the other participants.
Morning has broken
I kicked the pebbles and watched them fly into the gently breaking waves. In the distance, the sea sparkled but close to the beach, its sheen seemed dull. I should have known she wouldn’t come. Not only didn’t she talk to boys, ever, also this part of the beach smelled like rotting garbage, and the water carried brown sludge from Dad’s sewage factory. His slogan still rang in my ears.
‘Synbatec – Cleanliness everyone can afford ‘
Hah! I dug my bare feet into the sand, cooling grains mixed with water squeezed through my toes. I loved this feeling but hated the effort of rubbing them clean later. The sun burned my face and helped me suppress my tears. I had wanted her to come more than anything in the world. I needed her to see what Dad really did when he “cleaned” the waste water. She would have known what to do. After all, she and her father featured eminently in the news—him being a famous actor and an environmental activist. They surely could negotiate something that would keep Dad out of jail and end the pollution.
With my eyes still closed, I strained my ears for footsteps, but not even seagulls came to this godforsaken place. I sighed, opened my eyes, and gagged on a foul taste. A hairy hand pressed a wet, sweet smelling cloth to my mouth. My vision blurred, but I recognized the butterfly tattoo on the man’s forearm. Every Wastopaneer Environmentalist wore it. I relaxed and sucked in the sweet odor of the sleeping drug. If they had to kidnap me to stop Dad’s toxic waste, I wouldn’t put up a fight.
From the corner of my eyes, I saw her. She smiled at me, and her smile stayed with me when darkness claimed me.
In November when I normally participate in the writing marathon NaNoWriMo, it was decided that my eldest daughter could move out of the assisted living home into her first ever flat that she wanted to share with her BFF. We agreed that she should be trained in budgeting and cooking until the two girls found a suitable flat. Of course considering the current limited market for flats, we thought we’d have three to four months to get everything sorted.
Surprise, surprise, by the second week of November, they had secured a newly renovated flat that lay in the budget (money-wise and size-wise) with four rooms, a big kitchen, a bath room and a separate toilet room. The girls were excited … me too until I realized how much trouble that spelled for me: bureaucracy. I filled in application after application, canceled living quarters here, ordered energy there … One day I took twenty-two letters to the post office, mostly applications for one thing or the other.
It seemed to take forever, but in early December, we got the go ahead and were able to finally sign the rental agreement. So the kids began to pack their things. In the excitement, they cycled box after box of stuff from their old living quarters to the new flat. Expecting to get most boxes out of the way easily, I drove to my daughter’s best friend’s 6th floor flat with my car to empty it out except for the furniture that would need a van (to be rented).
We worked from morning till nightfall, and there was still more (It wasn’t as bad as in the picture, though). So the kids used their bikes again the next day. Then, the flat’s neighbor attacked my daughter’s BFF with a picture on a canvas so badly that the BFF had a severe concussion. The police got involved which meant we had to go to the Police station to give our statements. Then, the landlord’s property manager set a tight deadline. Due to the holidays, the flat had to be empty by 4pm on the 28th, and the bedroom, which had been painted green by the previous inhabitant, had to be painted white (that was last Tuesday).
I alerted my family and friends, and great guys that they are, they came. In a concerted effort we emptied the flat, painted the room, carted all the furniture to the new flat (4th floor), put all the bulky waste on a trailer, and cleaned everything. Trust me, I’ve never been this tired in my life.
Therefore I’m hoping for a peaceful and quiet Christmas time. I will not write between the years even though I urgently need to. I’ll read and relax so I’ll be fit again for next year.
And I wish you the same.
I’m sorry for not writing any Christmas cards this year or for sending out presents too late. But as you can see, there weren’t enough hours in the day and not enough energy in my aging body. Hugs to everyone who things (s)he needs a hug. Those I’ve got plenty.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
We’ll see/read each other again in 2019 (I promise more blog posts about the road trip I took with my husband, and about my diabetes controlling efforts).
In November, posting will be spotty at best. I urgently need to finish writing and translating “Crowned by Fire”, the last volume of my High School Dragon trilogy. I’ll be using NaNoWriMo for that.
For those who’ve never heard of that, the National Novel Writing Month (November) is dedicated to writing at least 50K words in a single month. Thousands of writers all over the world participate and also communicate with each other. It’s not only fun, but also productive.
If you’re a writer, feel free to join. If you’re a reader, you can follow my progress here (strangely enough you’ll need to sign up for seeing the participants. That used to be different. I contacted the organizers about that). I’ll see you all in December. 😀
And another one of those … But this time I’m better prepared. I’ve got all my NaNoWriMo-stuff lined up (more about that tomorrow). And I’ve got a good Halloween-ish story for this Bloghop (I hope you’ll agree it’s good; it’s surely not for everyone). I sent this in to the best writing related podcast I’ve ever listened to: “Alone in a Room With Invisible People“, AND IT GOT ACCEPTED. YAY! So you will hear it on the podcast some time soon.
Here’s my story. Happy Halloween for those who celebrate it:
Satisfied with the makeup that made her look like a deathly pale Victorian vampire, Anne closed her compact mirror and walked through the doors of the golf club. Tonight she would mesmerize her future husband, someone with money. No man in his right mind could resist her allure. Scanning the crowded room for unfamiliar faces, she hoped none of the regulars would notice she was wearing the same costume as last year. The hairdo had eaten up the last of her money.
She dismissed guys with expensive wedding rings, for she needed someone unbound. Two well rounded buttocks in an Armani suit swaying to the music caught her attention. The hands were unadorned. The face, when her potential husband turned, was nothing spectacular but would do. She wasn’t looking for Mr. Universe anyway.
It only took a few heartbeats to draw his attention. With a smile, he asked her to dance. Pressing her body close to his, Anne felt his erection through their clothes. Hook, line, sinker! They didn’t talk. When she looked up, her lips moist to invite a kiss, his eyes glowed a dull red.
“You’ve been tantalizingly close all this time.” His voice was husky. “Come with me. I’ll give you everything you’ve dreamed of.”
He limped, and she lost her synchronicity. Something seemed wrong with his leg, but her eyes were glued to his face. His smile hardened her nipples with arousal and fear. He had promised to fulfill her dreams, hadn’t he? Her gaze fell past him, and she frowned.
People around her had changed, wearing dull colored brocade clothing adorned with golden threads, and so did she. Where were they? Or was it when?
“You could be mistress to a pope.” Her partner pointed to a fat man with a hooknose in a red cloak. Countless jewels studded Hooknose’s fingers. When he smiled, his teeth were twisted black stumps. She shivered.
“Well, if Roderic de Borja is not to your taste…” Her partner whirled her around and the scene and their clothes morphed again. Now he wore a stiff necked suit, and her bosom fought a dress with a whale-bone crinoline. He nodded to a portly man she had once seen in a history book—a king of England or some such.
“Interested? He’ll make you his queen.” His eyes sparkled.
Wealth and power! All she’d ever wanted. That one was Mr. Right. But a question remained, “Why can’t I stay in my time?”
“Because death awaits you tonight.” The red glow in her partner’s eyes intensified. In them, she saw herself lying in a puddle of blood. She swallowed hard.
“What will it be, pope or king?”
She didn’t ponder for long. As queen, she’d be rich and powerful. No man would dare to object to her advances even when she grew old. Also, the king wasn’t as fat as the pope.
Before she could voice her answer, her dancing partner bowed, kissed her hand, and said, “Fair thee well, Anne Boleyn. We’ll meet again.” Bowing once more, he faded away.