On the last Wednesday every three months, a couple of Indie authors get together for the Storytime Bloghop. We each post a flash story (500-1000 words). This month doesn’t have a theme aside from Speculative Fiction.
If you enjoy my story, please leave a comment. For the other stories follow the links below my story. Now, have fun (although this story is rather dark for my standards).
I stare at the scars on my arms. The thin lines look crappy. Blood pulses in them — so close to the skin’s surface. I imagine what it would look like if it welled out; blooming dark red on my pale skin. A token of life no-one could mistake. A tiny cut would be enough to prove that I’m still here.
But I’m not gonna do it.
I’ve promised myself. After all, that’s why I’m here, isn’t it?
My gaze wanders through the room, as colorless and empty as my life. Why am I staying? I curl up on my bed. I’d be better off dead. No one would notice anyway. Except for the therapists – maybe. But they don’t count. Neither of them knows what I’ve been hiding in my mattress. So close. So easy to reach. Maybe I should make a cut … a tiny one … in a place where no one will see it.
No. I don’t want that any more. Breathe! I roll on my back and force myself to lie still. The display of my mobile that’s lying on the table casts a bluish rectangle of light on my ceiling, but I have to strain my eyes to see it. It’s not yet dark enough outside. Maybe I should turn on the light, but my strength has gone. If only the mobile were gone. Everything would be fine then. Or it wouldn’t, but at least I wouldn’t know.
„I’m dating Mandy now,“ he wrote. That was it. The end of our relationship with a text message. Who does that? And I’m not even sorry … or angry … it’s not important at all.
I remember what it was like when we first got together. His arms felt so warm on my shoulders. His laugh filled the emptiness inside. But he laughed less and less often. I’m a burden for everyone. I even kill the laughter.
The razor blade in the mattress calls for me. Not with a real voice or so, but I can feel its presence. I try not to think about the comforting and familiar pain spreading from my arm. Soon it would be stronger than the hollow feeling in my chest. Maybe it would finally open the door that traps me in this life. I wonder what’s on the other side. Will I be able to really feel?
The door opens, and Mr Bollart looks in.
“Half an hour to the meeting, Tanja. Are you alright?”
“Shall I turn on the light?” He reaches for the light switch, waiting for my answer. I nod again.
The room is now too dark, and he probably can’t see me. But maybe I’m not here any more and that’s why he can’t see me. The right corner of my mouth twitches when I ponder what Mr Bollart would say if he turned on the light, and my room was empty.
“Yes, please.” My voice is so low that I barely hear myself, but light floods my room.
“See you in a minute, right?”
“Hmm.” That could mean ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ or something else. Don’t know. It’s not important. It’s important that he looked in. Into my room. As if it were important that I’d show up.
Most likely he does that with all his patients. They trained him for that, didn’t they? Psychology … must be hard. Nothing for me. I roll onto my side using my arm as a pillow. The wall on the other side of my room has a horizontal line. Maybe there once stood a bed. It looks like it. I wonder what kind of problems that girl has had? All kinds of people come to this institute.
Don’t think about the blade.
Think of other people. Of the fellow inmates.
Louise, two rooms down the corridor for example. She swallowed enough sleeping pills to kill a horse. She cries in her sleep. Tonight I tried to comfort her — wasn’t really successful. I mean, she went back to crying as soon as I returned to my room. Just because they were nasty with her in school. Mobbing … must be horrible. But being invisible is worse. Believe me. I know that from experience. Maybe I should tell her?
Today. During the therapy session.
If I go.
I might also … the razor blade … I feel it as if it were digging into my side. My hand crawls to the rip in my mattress. If I use it now, they’ll take it away from me. And then? I won’t get a new one easily. I don’t want to need a new one. I don’t even want to use this one. Shit world. My hand crawls on, and I can’t stop it.
Someone knocks timidly, and I pull back my hand instinctively. Again the door opens. Louise looks in.
“May I come in?” Her voice trembles as if she’s scared of something. Not of me, surely.
“OK.” I sit up and pull my legs to my chest to make room for her on the bed. The chair from the table to too uncomfortable.
She sits on the far end of the bed and stares at her hands.
“For tonight. I felt so lonely, and when you came, it was better.”
Something warm spreads in my belly. I don’t know what it is, but I can feel it. I can FEEL. Without the blade!
“Could we…” Louisa doesn’t look at me. „I mean … would you like to…“ Her hands tighten their grip on each other, and she shivers. “Would you like to go to the session with me?”
All of a sudden, I realize she’s afraid of the answer.
“Of course I’d like to.” I smile. It’s the first time since I came here. If she can find the courage to reach out, maybe I can too. I could start by saying something during the session. Who knows. I might hand in my razor blade some time soon. Or not. We’ll see.
A while ago we, the moderators of Holly Lisle’s Writing School forum, bundled short stories into an anthology to support Holly, our mentor. We sold enough copies to give her a little financial boost. Now, we will withdraw the book from the market (the reasons are complex, and I won’t go into details).
So if you want a copy, you can get the eBook on amazon at a reduced price from tomorrow, 27th of January, until February 3rd with the price rising a little every other day. After that, the book (print and eBook) will never be available in this form again. Grab your copy asap!
Nine characters named Holly.
Not two of them alike…
… but many with dragons.
The Crate by Watson Davis
Roman believes he found the perfect gift, but has he?
Holly’s Opportunity by Felicia Fredlund
Flying deliveries in the darker areas of town is dangerous as best, but getting injured is a nightmare that might cost more than a broken bone or two.
A Christmas Blessing by C.L. Roth
Luciana wants to rescue her helper’s brother, but the Christmas meal has to be prepared on time, and she’s the one in charge.
The Christmas Dragon by Katharina Gerlach
Holly’s Gran is obsessed with dragons. What if a drawing isn’t enough?
Rescue by Larkin Hunter
Unwilling, suicidal Ben helps Hera find her missing sheep. When a blizzard hits the Panhandle of Texas, he’s forced to try to survive.
Storm’s End by Liz Schröder
When an injured dragon meteorologist crash-lands in an empty barn, she must make friends with the enemy to keep from restarting an old war.
The Harbinger by Peter Cruikshank
When dragon hunter Revin hears about a rare, red dragon in the North, she can barely wait to catch it. But people in the little village she visits have been awaiting her for a strange ritual and all of a sudden, she’s the one caught.
As a Man Thinketh by Martha Gilstrap
A man turns himself into a true vampire after listening to Reverend Graham Baxter. After several people die, it’s up to the Reverend to talk him back to humanity without getting drained.
Delete by Watson Davis
Computer program Holly wants to be free from her confines, but accessing the net is dangerous. Will her programmer help?
List Challenge — the things I need to do before NaNo
I decided to join the Listing Fest by Alex Cavanaugh and Bish Denham a while ago, and today is the day. So I decided to post a list of things that I can’t possibly all do in a single week (unless I’ll turn into super-writer-woman this second). NaNo is approaching like a runnaway fright train, and this year, for the first time, I’m not ready. Oh, I did all my pre-planning and have the time set aside, but there are so many things I still need to do before I can use the time for writing. Look at my list:
write 2 reviews for German books I read (promised, so it’s a must) done
write more blog posts (I might skip this) done
translate next fairy tale (urgent for next publication)
test the new, mobile-friendly theme design for this site and install it if it works
set up the telephone (land-line) so it won’t break any more (and let everyone know about the new phone number) done
fetch my dog from my parents done
fetch my brother-in-law for a one week holiday while dropping my daughter at her grandparents done
put away everything we took along for the horse riding holiday
phone 5 different administrations who bungled things for my eldest and get them to change their decisions (and I know this’ll take a while) done
set up the Skeleton Marathon for my NaNo group done
upload files for print book of “Juma’s Rain” (done) and find reviewers
add a post about “Juma’s Rain” to the forum I’m active in done
watch the videos of the course I’m currently taking and implement the advice (I might have to move this to December since there’s no way I’ll manage that)
There might be more but I can’t think of it just now. All I see is that I have to do more than I can possibly manage in one week — and the list doesn’t even contain all the marketing I should be doing …
Anyone who feels like helping is welcome to contact me (there’s a contact form). I still need reviewers for my upcoming release (15th of November) of “Juma’s Rain”. Thanks for looking in.
To make it easier, here’s the list of the other participants:
Two blogs did Interviews with me, one in German and the other one in English. On DJ Mills’ blog, I return to my starting days and discuss the twisted path I took. The German blog focuses more on my books and how I write them (naturally that interview is in German).
In August, I’ll be participating in a blog hop where several fantasy authors will post a short story on their blogs on the same day. The stories will stay up for one week, and then be pulled. So if you want to read them all, and there are some crazily talented authors participating, mark August the 26th on your calendars.
From now on, I’m author of the month on a German publishing platform: When they asked me, I was naturally quite surprised. Of course I was quite happy about it and answered readily all the questions they asked my in an interview. It seemed that the plan alone to visit the Leipzig Book Fair was enough to attract some attention. Now, that I’m back, I get more eMails, more sales, and introduced to more nice people. Being an author might not always make you financially richer right away but it doubtlessly made my life emotionally richer.
Here’s a quote from my interview (Nothing sells books like reviews). If you speak German, come over to read it.
Sorry for the delay in posting about the final day of the book fair. When I sat down to write it yesterday, I opened my Inbox to 160 eMails with only a very small percentage of spam. Also, I had forgotten about an important meeting I had to go to in my lunch break. So instead of getting things done, I helped my kids with their appointments. Life happens. 😉
Now to the book fair. The final day was less busy than the Saturday. Still, the book fair had a new visitor record. Two hundred and ten thousand people wanted to see what’s new. When I roamed the halls, I had the feeling that at least a third of them came dressed up, although I’m sure it only felt that way.
The Sunday was also the best day for selling books, especially since we were allowed to sell them without paying a commission to the mess after 3pm. Naturally, we didn’t sell quite as many books as we wanted or had taken along, but we did sell some. And more important, we were seen. I managed to give away more than 300 free eBooks (printed and signed, see picture). Since the idea of a printed eBook is relatively unheard of so far in Germany, I’m sure that most people will download the eBook and read it. I already see spikes in my download statistic. I just hope that the readers will move on to my other books as well. 😉
Toward evening, the crowd began to thin out. I saw the best Cosplay costume (Mononoke Hime from the film Princess Mononoke) but couldn’t take a photo because I had left my camera at the booth. Sigh… Still, I can picture it in my mind and it was truly gorgeous.
I was extremely grateful for the two colleagues who stayed to the end with me and helped to empty the booth. We were done in record time and I was home before my kids went to sleep. That was a wonderful conclusion to a great weekend. I hope I’ll be able to repeat that next year.
Over the next few days, I’ll post a couple of the Cosplayers I photographed to showcase how much time and effort some people put into their costumes. I’ll also post the promised pictured of our booth, of Boris, and of my fellow German Qindie-authors.
There were so many people on third day of the book fair (Saturday) that the corridors between the stalls were choking. Sometimes, it was impossible to move more than one tiny step every other minute. I missed two of the three events I had meant to visit this way.
As recompensation, many people were bored waiting for the cues to move and stopped at our stall to talk, grab some flyers, and buy books. Thus, I’m considering this day as the most successful.
At one point, I thought all my flyers had gone but then found one more cardboard box in my car with more flyers. I was quite relieved knowing there were some more for the final day. I just wish I’d found a spare set of feet in my car as well… 😀
The Leipzig Book Fair is approaching fast; it’ll start next Thursday already. I’M already very excited. The books of several fellow authors from the German Indie-publisher platform Qindie have all arrived (as far as I can tell) and are waiting to be loaded into my car. Since we’ll start setting up our booth at 8:00am on Thursday, I’ll have to leave home by half past five latest. That means I’ve got to go to bead early on Wednesday.
If you’re in Leipzig, Germany, at that time and want to meet me there, I will be in Hall 5 Booth B302 with the Qindies. We’ve got a Meet and Greet on Saturday, 14th of March at 1:15p.m. in the Autorenlounge Hall5 Room B413. If you’re there, come by and say hello.
If possible, I’ll post something about the book fair every day here on my blog. Should I have problems getting access to the Internet, I’ll post a very long report after my return. Promised.
I’ve been nominated again by Elizabeth McCleary, but will not post everything again that I’ve already posted. I’ll just answer her questions.
What color shirt are you wearing right now?
My jumper is bright red and the T-Shirt blue.
Have you traveled outside your native country? If so, where’d you go?
America, Scotland, France, Denmark, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Austria (for five minutes 😀 ), Switzerland, Netherlands
I think that’s all; at least it’s all I can think of.
You’re all writers. Tell me your primary genre, any secondary genres, and what genres you prefer to read. (Not all writers read in their own genre.)
I love to READ anything Fantasy and SciFi and some Romance as long as it is well written with interesting characters, plus I love good Non-fiction especially all things history.
I write mostly Fantasy with some SciFi and Historical novels on the side. At the moment, I’m writing Fairy Tale Retellings (that reminds me, I’ve got to put up the page about the next release on March 12th)
Who or what has been the biggest inspiration for your writing?
My overactive imagination 😀
Computer or longhand?
Computer, longhand hurts after a while.
Location of your ideal writer’s retreat. Where would you go to just write? Would you take someone with you, or go alone?
I don’t need to go away to work. I would go to my tiny office (2.5sqm) and I will need my family in the afternoons but not while I’m working.
Aside from writing, what other creative pursuits do you enjoy?
I used to make dolls, but haven’t done so since the kids were born. The last toy I made was a donkey with a music box inside for my baby (which is now 13 years!).
If your life was a movie, who would you want to have play you?
She’d have the right size to do it.
If your book/story was a movie, who would you want to have play your main character and/or antagonist?
I’ve written many books, so this is a tough question. I’m going to answer this for my novel “Paralan’s Children“. For the antagonist I’d like to get either Merryl Streep or Jamie Lee Curtis (obviously they’d need to wear a wig), and for the protagonist, I’d like Kirsten Dunst.
Coffee? Tea? Soda? Wine? Water? Double bourbon, no rocks? What is your beverage of choice?
Plain water, unflavored
Roller coaster or carousel?
Roller coaster — I love the mixture of speed and safety
What interesting writing rituals do you have? Include anything you want… music you listen to, habits you have, whether the TV is on in the background, whether you pour coffee and let it sit there getting cold while you’re working (like I do). Whatever. The question is wide open.
I write from 7:30am to 1pm. First I’ll answer my eMails, go through the forum where I’m moderator once. Next, I’ll write 1500-2000 words on a new project. If I’ve got a new release planned or need to write a new blogpost, I’ll work on that next. If I’ve got nothing scheduled, I translate. I need silence for working but can listen to music when doing other stuff.
Wizard of Ends is a fantasy novella series packed with adventure, magic, dark creatures, some life lessons and more. Today I have the pleasure to host Vanessa for the release of the second novel in the series: Dark Creature
Vanessa created a unique kind of magic and found that magic isn’t as unreal as wen might think. In the article below, she will explain her reasoning.
Modern Science and Ancient Magic are One and the Same Guest post by Vanessa Finaughty
Between 1543 and 1687, textbooks tell us, there was a 150-year window in which modern thinking transformed from magic and superstition to what we now call science. Many believe that modern science is, in fact, driven by cosmology and magical philosophy.
I think most of us have heard the hype about the Age of Enlightenment that many believe began on 21 or 22 December 2012. Why do so many believe we are now in this age, however, and what exactly can we expect if these people are right? Countless ancient texts across the world tell us to ‘awaken and remember’, and predict a time during which the ‘veil will be lifted’, bringing in a new world. It does seem as if science and spirituality no longer oppose each other as they once did. Not so long ago, most people believed that to believe in science was to lack belief in a higher power. Today, nothing could be further from the truth. Is it because the stars are now aligned to bring in the Age of Enlightenment, enabling our consciousnesses to rise to new levels so we can see the world through new eyes?
I believe that humanity has lost much ancient knowledge that we are slowly beginning to rediscover. Almost all ancient humans had vast knowledge of the stars and science, as is evident by ancient texts, hieroglyphs and other archaeological finds, such as ancient batteries and evidence that suggests the pyramids were once giant power generators.
In ancient times, science was called by other names, like alchemy, magic or sorcery. Whatever we call it, it is the same thing: knowledge sought by the same or similar means. Ancient alchemists and sorcerers were insatiably curious. Combined with their deeply philosophical outlook on nature, this enabled them to gain a greater understanding of not only our world, but the entire universe, thus empowering them to perform ‘magical’ feats like healing the sick. Ancient alchemists also had advanced knowledge of chemistry, consciousness, hypnosis and trances, and even other worlds that modern science is only beginning to understand via quantum physics.
I think part of the reason much of this knowledge was lost is due to religious institutes deeming it ‘evil’ and ‘of the Devil’, and thanks to human politics. This means that ancient scientists – or sorcerers, if you will – had to hide their insights in coded texts and symbols to avoid being labeled evil and condemned for it. An example of this can be found in Galileo, the father of modern physics and astronomy. Once he had discovered planets and gained knowledge of their orbits, among other things, he was ordered to go to Rome to stand trial for heresy, after which he was forced to spend his remaining days on this Earth under house arrest!
Many believe that another reason much ancient knowledge was lost is due to an ‘elite’ group of humans in power persecuting those who wanted to share this knowledge with all of humanity. These conspiracy theorists believe that all the persecutions were an attempt to prevent ‘the rest of us’ from benefiting from these ancient secrets, for, if everyone knew what the elite knew, the elite would no longer be elite and would lose the control they still have over the masses. I can’t say for sure, but this theory does have a ring of truth to it, don’t you think? Then again, some believe that Atlantis was real and Atlanteans were wiped out because they abused this ancient knowledge. If this is the case, perhaps the elite are trying to protect us from ourselves. This, too, could be true, considering humanity’s abuse of our advancements – using nuclear power to create weapons that could destroy humanity and Earth a few times over is a perfect example. Then again, it’s the said elite who wanted the nuclear weapons in the first place….
Modern scientists have not only done much research into ‘supernatural powers’ like human psychic abilities and remote viewing, but have made breakthroughs into tapping into these and other ‘magical’ powers. Modern science has proven that was once considered magic is real – real science! It’s been scientifically proven that almost anyone can be taught to project their consciousness to other places or times in order to view the goings on there. Of course, rather than teaching everyone who is interested, this knowledge is being used for espionage.
We have no way – currently – of knowing the ultimate truth. However, I believe that, one day, we will know everything ancient humans did and will once again be able to harness the full power of our universe. One day, life will once more be filled with magic. I just hope we don’t use it to destroy ourselves.
About the Books
In “Wizard of Ends“, book 1 of the series, Lashlor Leaflin, who is new to the Land of Ends, happens across two men abducting the Queen of Ends and is compelled to help her. Thus starts his magical adventure, leading to a confrontation with a deadly sorceress who believes the crown to be rightfully hers.
In “Dark Creature“, book 2 in the series, Lashlor finds himself trapped in the Mountains of Eclador with no way to help his queen, who will be forever trapped in the form of a dark creature if he does not return to Ends. To make matters worse, thinking the Wizard of Ends will not return from the mountains, King Lanaran Dragonsbane attempts to undo the curse on his wife – something Lashlor warned him against.