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.
After a chaotic week filled with appointments and tight deadlines, I’ve been to the best book fair in the world, a small festival dedicated to Fantasy and SciFi. It’s my favorite. The organizational team is incredible. If I can, I’ll return next year.
However, the day had 20 hours for me including 6 hours car drive. When I returned I was knackered and spend the Sunday resting. Therefore I ask your pardon for not getting the third part of my Roman travels up in time.
And another one of those… I seem to be too busy in between the bloghops to post much. Pleas forgive me. The latest in a row of catastrophes was the death of my youngest’s pet rat and a second pet rat injured himself when he fell out of the cage. Somehow my days fly past and I don’t get much writing done. Only translations (English-German) are feasible and cover art for some clients.
That’s the reason why my entry today is only the beginning of a story. The rest is still in my head. Enjoy, and don’t forget to visit the other participants too.
Under the Bridge
The water fifty meters below me was black as tar as it flowed toward the sea. This high up in the crisscrossing steel beams of the bridge’s construction, it looked like tarmac. A strong breeze tugged at my breeches, carrying the scent of salt, seaweed, and crustaceans with it. Instinctively my long, flexible toes dug deeper into the steel. It groaned. Together with the thrumming of the passing cars, the sound reminded me of a lazy jazz piece.
I smiled, glad I didn’t have to hide my tusks. As necessary as it was, I was tired of lying about what—who—I was. But down here, there was less light than in the shady bar my human friends and I—naturally in my human disguise—frequented. I enjoyed my true shape.
Hoicking up a considerable amount of snot and spit, I let it fly into the night … never saw or heard it hit the water. I sat and dangled my feet over the gray steel balustrade, marveling at the size of the rivets—also gray and bigger than the palm of my hand. And I did have a big hands all things considered.
It was surprising that humans, these frail creatures, had created something so … so solid. I stroked the metal disregarding a few splinters of rust and paint digging into my green flesh. What’s a little pain if you know you’re doomed no matter what.
Not caring one bit (after all everybody was doomed one way or the other) I spat at the river again. It looked like the road to hell.
And on nights like this it was.
Been there, done than. Only Hell doesn’t do T-Shirts—especially not my size. My low laugh shook the steel beams, but then I shuddered. It hadn’t been the best of times. And now I was waiting for an old … well, you couldn’t exactly call someone from hell a friend, but he’d been the closest to a friend I’d had at that time.
Maybe I’d take him to that shady bar. With his horns and cloven hoof hidden, he’d clean up much nicer as a human than I ever would, and he’d smell nicer. Not of rotting meat and dumpster like I did.
But who cared? I was the one who collected the bridge toll which meant I was the one with enough cash to pay for drinks.
It didn’t matter how good my disguise smelled, only that I had one. What innkeeper in his right mind would let an eight foot troll with a three foot devil in tow into his establishment, even when all customers were lying with their heads in pools of vomit and stinking of alcohol and piss?
Don’t forget to visit the other participants. Enjoy their stories:
First and most important, do not try to walk through the halls on Saturday (that is a lesson learned during several bookfairs in Leipzig that I visited). On Saturday, everybody and their family will come, so the corridors are stuffed. If you can, Thursday or Sunday are actually the best days to visit.
Leipzig Bookfair is something special. With the addition of the Maga-Comic-Con (with the Cosplayers) and the used-books-fair, it’s also pretty full. However, it’s the best place to actually meet readers. That’s why I come back with the Qindies (Quality Indies) every year for as long as we manage to fund a booth. This year was more successful than any of the years before, and I expect next year to be even better.
Also “Leipzig liest” (Leipzig is reading), the author reading platform of the fair, is a great way to find new readers and fans. Most venues are an absolute pleasure to work with. A car seller decorated his showroom with graves, a hanging skeleton and spooky atmosphere furniture to make our reading an event his customers (and we) are likely to remember.
If you want to go to a German bookfair, Leipzig is the place to go. True, Frankfurt is much bigger but it’s also a lot less personal. I’ll be posting some impressions of the fair in the next days.
And a final thing if you are visiting a bookfair as a vendor (author): Make sure every promo material item does exactly what is is supposed to do. I glitched when I created giveaway cards for an eBook and only discovered after the bookfair that the link I included on the card wasn’t activated. It made me look like an idiot (which I probably am from time to time 😀 )
“I like living here with you alone.” My daughter set aside another darned sock. “Not to forget that the inquisition will never find us here.”
I smiled at her to show her how much I love her, but in secret I longed for something more important to do than making a living. I sighed and went back to my spinning. The regular rhythm and Melinda’s breathing relaxed me and the internal unrest subsided until the peace of our evening routine was disturbed, when something heavy thunked against the window of our little cottage. Since it was dark outside we couldn’t exactly see what it was. My fingers stopped turning the spindle, and we both held our breath, fearing the same. But there was no screaming, no pitchforks, and most of all no fire. Slightly relieved but still wary, I called. “Who’s there?”
“Sh-sh-l ivri” The voice sounded muffled, as if it held something in its mouth and was trying to talk around it. Melinda looked at me, and I looked at Melinda.
“I know someone who talks that way,” I whispered. “But this is a different voice.”
Whoever was outside the window bumped against the delicate pane that kept out the winds. If it broke, winter would send its icy fingers into our home, so I got to the door and opened. But not without stopping at the hearth and picking up the biggest knife we owned. I dropped it the minute the door swung open and revealed a roughly human sized dragon with red scales and a bundle of cloth hanging from its maw. When he saw Melinda standing behind me, he took the bundle out of his mouth and moved his jaw from side to side to loosen the muscles.
“I don’t understand why the boss insists on carrying it in my mouth,” he said and handed the bundle to her. “Special delivery for you. New Stork Inc. sends their congratulations. You’ll find a welcome bonus packed right in.”
With shaking fingers Melinda opened the bundle.
“It’s a boy,” the dragon said needlessly. “Plus a few nappies.”
Melissa’s face mirrored the shock that kept me rooted to the spot. I had to clear my throat several times before I managed to speak. “Why’s Stork sending us a baby? We never ordered one.”
“New policy.” The dragon smiled, displaying more teeth that I was currently happy with. I swallowed, and he smiled some more. “We’ve got a few remnants that need old-style distribution. Your daughter was one of the candidates the boss chose.”
“Remnants? Come in and explain.” I stepped aside. I’d been one of Stork’s helpers for as long as I remembered, learning the midwife’s trade from my mother and passing on my knowledge to Melinda. However, since the inquisition started burning midwifes as witches, we’d gone into hiding. So far successful.
The dragon curled up in front of the hearth, enjoying the warmth of the fire. He puffed a few happy smoke curls before he got to the point. “Stork lost a lot of his delivery crew when the inquisition decided stork deliveries were not real and anyone believing in it was superstitious and needed to be punished. People actually started shooting storks then, I guess because they’re hungry.” He stared into the flames for a while, and I took up my spindle again. He sighed contently. “Well, as I said, Stork lost a lot of his crew that way, so he decided to go direct with a delivery system designed to work without stork transportation. I helped him set up the system. It took quite a lot of magic to get it working properly, believe me.”
“Direct?” My mind whirred. “Stork-free delivery?”
“Well, the seeds get harvested when they’re still in single cell state, and a magical tube shoots them directly into the mother’s belly. It’s a marvel. It really is.” He preened his claws and looked smug. “And I was a major part in developing that system if I may point that out.”
How could Stork send babies straight to the mothers? Into their bellies if I hadn’t misheard. My eyes widened when I realized what that meant. “If he sends the parcel into the mother, it must come back out at some point, right?”
“Yup, and that’s why he’s inviting you to an advanced training in what he calls ‘birth’. That’s short for ‘binary inter-rump transfer holistics’, the name of the new technique. The participants of this course will have to spread the word.”
Suddenly I saw my life stretching out in front of me – always traveling, helping women through ‘birth’ and teaching Stork’s new deliver method throughout the country as best I could while evading inquisition. Ever so often I’d visit Melinda who had to stay behind to take care of her son. Suddenly, Life was exciting again.
Today is the 4th of December and silly me forgot to let you know that the annual Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar has opened its doors again. If you love a surprise story every day, it’s THE place to bookmark. And if you sign up for the alert, you’ll get a bonus every day (a picture, a poem, a recipe or another story), and the eBook with all stories and bonuses on Christmas Day.
Do you love supporting awesome authors and grabbing FREE books at the same time? Well here’s your chance. Get 22 YA novels totally FREE. Check out the teasers and descriptions on this page, choose the ones that look good to you, or grab them all! You’ll be taken to Instafreebie, who will give you the book via email (don’t worry — it’s quick, easy, and painless). The author may follow up with you and check in on you now and again because we all love chatting with our readers.
A quarter of a year passes so fast, I hardly ever realize how much time has gone again. And that’s me nearing 50 already. Luckily I’m still feeling much, much younger (also due to being in love with the same man for more than 30 years, methinks). So here we are, closing in on Halloween and Christmas with our next Bloghop.
My middle daughter is a great fan of Australia (probably inherited from her mother — me). Her favorite band is 5SoS, she’s interested in Aboriginal history (did a voluntary presentation in school about it), and the wildlife. I’m sure she’d love to travel to Australia just to see everything with her own eyes. So naturally, I came up with a way she could get there. Enjoy the story (as always there are links to more stories at the end of this post).
Do you believe in magic? Visit Australia for a tenth of the usual price. Information at St. Paul’s chapel, Kirkstreet, Monday 5pm
With the music of an Australian band filling my little living room, I stared at the ad trying not to get my hopes up. Australia was my dream country. I’d read all the books, seen all the films, and carried around a first aid kit with everything needed to cope with snake bites, including antidotes to the most common poisons. Not that I ever needed it though. I’d been saving every penny for as long as I could remember, and it still wasn’t enough – not even for a one way ticket. By my estimate I’d be fifty before I would have the funds for a three month holiday. So what did I have to lose?
I entered St. Paul’s chapel a little late and discovered I was the only visitor. The hollow feeling in my gut deepened. I had known the ad’s offer was too good to be true. I turned to flee, but the exit was blocked by an Aborigine in a loincloth and nothing else.
“Welcome. I am very glad you came.” His wrinkled face contorted to the friendliest smile I’d ever seen. He grabbed my hands and pulled me to a mattress lying in the space between the front row of the pews and the altar. “Please, sit down with me. You could be in Australia in less than five minutes.”
My hands grew clammy. Was this real or had I fallen into the clutches of a fraud? One thing was sure, he felt my desperation, my longing. Well, he wouldn’t swindle me out of my hard earned savings. “I don’t have any money.” And that wasn’t even much of a lie.
“Don’t worry about something so inconsequential.” The Aborigine sat on the mat with crossed legs and pointed to the other side. “Please do let me explain. It all comes down to the Dreaming.”
“Dreaming?” I had read about their religion. It consisted of thousands of stories about the beginning of the world and the Aborigines’ ancestors. What did that have to do with me visiting Australia? This was all too confusing. Still I sat down against better judgment. Maybe I could learn something new.
“If you believe it or not, I come from a time before the white man came to Australia. The ancestors took me here and promised to find me a person who can help me, and they did.” He smiled again, and without reason, I relaxed. “Back home, my son went on a Walkabout to be worthy of becoming leader of our tribe. On the day he should have returned, I found him semi-conscious not far from our village. He’d been bitten by a desert death adder which was strange since they are usually very reluctant to do so. I called upon the ancestors, and they took me here and sent you to me. Will you come with me to save my son?” He looked at me with puppy dog eyes. How could I refuse the plea, especially since I couldn’t lose? Best case, I’d get to see at least a little bit of Australia. Worst case, I’d waste a little time to please an old lunatic. So I nodded.
He took my hands, and the persistent hum of a didgeridoo filled my mind, taking all light with it. The droning sounded like a busy beehive, but it held a melody that grabbed my heart and puled me along. When words joined the song, the light returned. I found myself under a sky with a full moon and the Southern Cross that I’d only seen on TV. Scents, aromatic and wild, filled my nose, and the buzzing of insects joined the song.
The old man sat under an eucalyptus tree, playing the didgeridoo. Beside him lay a man maybe in his early thirties. He was breathing hard and sweating profoundly. Luckily the moon’s light was enough to see the bite wound on his ankle. I took my first aid kit out of my handbag, and used the pump to suck out as much poison as I could. The man moaned. When I was sure I’d done the best I could, I filled a syringe with the antidote and injected it into his bloodstream. Hopefully it would be enough to counteract the poison. Desert death adders had a lot of poison in their bite. My prayers joined the old man’s song and together we waited.
When morning dawned, the younger man’s breathing became regular, he stopped sweating, and fell into a peaceful slumber.
The old man stopped playing. As the melody ended, I was sucked back into darkness. All I heard were is parting words.
“Thank you. We owe you a much longer visit.”
When a hand touched my shoulder, I opened my eyes. I was lying on the mattress in St. Paul’s, and a young Aborigine woman bent over me with a smile on her face.
“So, you are here after all. I didn’t expect great-grandfather’s tales to be true. Honored to meet you,” she said and helped me up. Then, she crossed the arms before her chest and bowed. “I have come to fetch you to Australia for a few months as my great-grandfather requested.” When she straightened again, a smile lit up her face that reminded me a lot of the old man’s. “And we all thought you’d be a figment of great-grandpa’s dreams.”
Ever since spring I had meant to add all the books I published last year, but I only get round to it now. Somehow time seems to go faster with every year (Help! I’m getting old). Yesterday I got started.
The overview of my books is done, but some of the individual book pages are still missing. Therefore you’ll stumble over an “Under Construction” sign in some places for a while. Don’t be annoyed. It was the only way to avoid dead links.
I promise to work as quickly as I can, after all I want to be done before November. As always I’m starting NaNoWriMo, a month where authors all over the world try to write 50,000 words, on November 1st. If one can write every day, one needs to get 1667 words per day. Since I have to take the weekends off (due to my children), I need to write 2381 words. That doesn’t sound like much but is hard work if the words are supposed to make sense. copying the word NaNoWriMo 50,000 times is not an option for me. 😀
By the way, next week there’ll be another episode of our quarter annual Storytime Bloghop. My story will be in English and German (as always) and only available for a limited time. I hope you’re looking forward to it.
Together with my book, you can get more than 40 other speculative fiction eBooks for free in this promotion. It is open until September 14th. Go and grab your copies now (you’ll have to find the books you’re interested in on a retailer if you want to read the blurb). I am giving away Amadi, the Phoenix, the Sphinx, and the Djinn.
It was one of the first books I published. Back then, I knew next to nothing about cover art, coding, or creating print books. Since I’ve learned a lot in these areas, I updated the story about a girl in an Arabian Night’s setting. To celebrate the re-release I am giving the story away through instaFreebie until the 14th of September. Get the book here.
About the book
Amadi enjoys the busy frenzy the souk and tries to escape the harem her stepmother rules as often as possible. Unlike her sister Bülbül she feels caged, not protected. When Bülbül becomes engaged against her will, Amadi longs to evade a similar kismet.
Luckily a master thief wants her as an apprentice, and she grabs the chance to live like a boy. Too bad that she and her teacher become targets of a jackal-headed god of death and an assassin when they accept an assignment from a magic-using customer.
Who wants them dead so badly remains a mystery she must solve to survive. And now that she fell head over heels in love, she very much wants to live. With her life spinning out of control, will her skills be enough to save her … and, maybe, the caliphate too?