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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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?
I’m going to apply this theme to the books I published and I’ll be keeping it short. It’s been a very hard week. My MIL (80) cracked a vertebrae falling from a ladder she had no business to be on, and my husband crashed his bicycle, ripped open his leg from the knee to the ankle, bumped and bruised his shoulder, and ruined his helmet (which he thankfully wore, it most likely saved his head). Also I’m a tad busy with some client work, two anthologies in German for charity, and my own publications. So without further ado, here are my favorite covers in the order from loved to most loved.
I adore the covers Corona (no, not the virus) Zschusschen did for my fairy tale retelling series. However, they probably don’t speak to the people who love fairy tale reltellings, so I’ll most likely revamp the whole series some time next year. What do you think? Are they awesome?
I still love the covers for my “High School Dragon” trilogy even though a group of professional designers ripped them apart (they said they looked like cheap clip-art put together). I love the simplicity and the contrast between the flaming heart and the dragon silhouettes. “Thankfully tastes differ”, said the monkey and ate the soap. What do you think about these covers?
Truth be told, there isn’t a single book where I don’t love the cover, but without a doubt the most beautiful are the audiobook covers for Will Hahn’s “Shard of Light” series (and the narration by the author is superb, even though he’s redoing volume one, the perfectionist :D).
And now to this month’s publication (where I also love the cover!). It’s another short story collection. The first book of this series came out in March, that’s how long it took me to get this baby ready. But I promise that for the next two or three months you’ll get more of my short stories. Enjoy!
An unhappy Death, murder in the name of an ancient god, and a bridge where dogs die. The world has room for all, but not unchecked.
Even though each world has a dark side, there will always be those who will give their lives to keep innocents out of harm’s way.
Quantum physics opens doors that would better have stayed closed, putting more than one soul in peril.
An Ancient god longs for tranquility when his new acolyte goes too far.
One of the many Deaths is grumbling. He’s in love with life and hates his job. But then he gets accidentally pulled into the soul collector.
A security guard calls Death to ask for a favor when his sins catch up with him. Now the life of his niece and sister are part of the gamble.
A conflicted officer of the magical police must catch a murderer stealing hearts – literally.
A handicapped fairy police officer is sent to investigate an emergency call at Overtoun Bridge, annoyed that she’s got a new partner, a dwarf.
When a child summons The Lady of Slaughter, the goddess must face her biggest enemy: herself.
A young guard is dreaming of other worlds when unwanted visitors show up at the entrance to the forgotten temple.
In these eight short stories, Katharina shows creatures that only partially qualify as people. Writers of the Future judge Dave Farland told Katharina, “Your writing is excellent and you pulled me in from the start.”
To get to know slightly inhuman creatures, buy the book now.
Favorite quotes I have a few, but only two changed me considerably. The first one was pivotal for my writing and I heard it a million times from many sources and in varying phrases before it sank in. The gist is: „First drafts are always crap!“
My first published novel took a long, long time to finish. While that was partially due to research, after all it was a historical novel, a good portion was stage fright too. Perfectionism stalled me again and again. So writing the first draft was a daunting process because I wanted to produce the best possible book I was capable of writing.
I still want this to this day. However, I no longer aim to get the manuscript perfect during writing the first draft. I hammer out the story as fast as I can without thinking too much about it, and then I go back and revise it to the vision I had in my head when I started writing. This change of attitude has freed my writing and led to much faster publications without sacrificing the quality.
The second quote is from my great-grandmother who died when I was ten. She suffered from dementia and didn’t remember the most recent events in her live (like falling down a stair one night or how long the time between two meals was), but she was a happy woman with principles. She often told me that one should always strive to look at a situation (or anything else) until one found the bright side. Her motto was: „Es ist nichts so schlecht wie irgend gut für!“ = Nothing is as bad as it is good!
That became my life’s motto too. As a child, I’ve trained myself to always find the bright side. By now I do it automatically without much thinking about it, and it helps me to cope with all the bad things I see in the world: the selfishness of humanity, the deliberate ignorance of powerful people, the casual cruelty and greedy destruction. Without my great-grandmother’s saying, I would have succumbed to depression long ago, because the world is not fair. It never has been and it never will be.
But even in the biggest disaster you can find a grain of beauty if you’re just willing to look close enough. And while that won’t help to address the problems at hand immediately, it can give you the amount of hope you’ll need to make the world around you just a teeny, tiny bit better.
That’s what I’m striving for with my life and my writing. Thank you, Uromi!
About the WIP:
My novel is growing, slowly but steadily. Meanwhile, my grandson is keeping me on my feet and the monthly publications also need their time.
Maybe you’re interested in the second volume of the “Waldmann Family Saga”. I’ve re-published the historical novel Victor’s Rage with improved readability, an expanded appendix, and a new cover.
About the Book: A forced courtship. A legacy’s honor under threat. Will the truth destroy a young girl’s chance at real love?
Northern Germany, 1848. Young Rieke Waldmann knows the man she loves and hopes to marry doesn’t meet her mother’s standards. Though the radical idealist is willing to prove himself a suitable husband by striking out on his own to earn money, Rieke must also accept her mother’s request to get to know the local miller’s son. Surprised to discover her new suitor is far more considerate than she expected, Rieke’s forced courtship reveals a deeper personal crisis: Her late father kept secrets that could ruin her dreams.
With the German Revolution plunging the country into turmoil, the young woman’s search for an affordable farm overturns yet more disturbing puzzle pieces. And increasingly distant from the love of her heart, these fresh allegations only add to the weighty burden on Rieke’s spirit.
With her father’s legacy on the line, where will Rieke’s loyalty lie?
Themed Month July: Happy End – Does it always have to be?
I think that there’s just one genre that cannot do without a HEA, and that’s romance. In all other genres it is not obligatory to have one. Now the question probably is, whether I personally need a Happy End always.
In my opinion that depends on the story. Of course I like Happy Ends where the characters are satisfied or even happy for the moment or forever, but for some stories an end like that would feel forced.
In one of my stories, for example, the main character has to cope with the loss of a close friend at the end. Of course she would not be dancing with joy in a situation like that, so I went with a moderately hopeful end to show she’s healing.
The only thing I do not like at all is when the end is very sad, depressing, and dark. Even in the worst situation, there is still a sliver of hope. Or there should be one in my opinion.
That’s why you won’t find stories by me that are completely free from hope (except maybe in one or the other dark fantasy short story).
About my WIP:
After the forced break of Corona restrictions, I’m finally writing again (the grandson is back to kindergarten). The story is moving forward. I also updated all my websites, added my newly published books, and put the authors of the brand new German language anthology onto my publishing company’s homepage. I’m quite happy with how everything worked out this month.
Publishing News: Short term change!
Originally planned for July 19th, the publication of “Victor’s Rage” is delayed by a month for personal reasons. Instead, I’ll publish my long awaited Time-travel Romance Fantasy “Centennial Sisters”.
The new pen-name “Leonie Joy” will be the name I’ll be using for all my Romance Fantasy stories from now on.