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8328656We're now at number 4 of the Thorstruck Press Anthology The Secrets Of Castle Drakon and although it may be wrong to pronounce my favourite story among 11 outstanding pieces of fiction in multiple genres, up till now I personally think Bev Allen's short "A Solemn Curfew" is the most brilliant of them all. Not only is the story truly mouth-watering due to all the processing of delicious food that goes on page after page, the story's moral is so helplessly human and Bev sticks closest to the title of the anthology: secrets that take place in a castle.

But don't get me wrong, all the stories of the anthology are of unusual quality and as they are so totally different, it's in fact impossible to compare them. Preferences are therefore not based on quality but only on personal grounds. After we've shed light on all 11 treasures, I'll let you know my top 3 stories and I'll ask the other authors and our friends to vote for their favourite Top 3. I hope that this way all our stories will be liked by many. It's great to see reviews for our anthology popping up like the mushrooms in Bev's story :-)

So I also asked Bev if "A Solemn Curfew" was written in her usual style.

My usual genre is YA sci-fi, often with a strong military theme, but not always. The current book "The Tattooed Tribes" has an ecological basis, but it is still the sort of adventure story I love to write. I also, just for a change, rather like the weird. I can't do the full blown horror stuff, but I can do the creepy and the strange. I'm not sure what that says about me :-) I once wrote a story for SFX called "Maud: a Garden Tale", you can find it on my website. I think its a good example of me being weird .

What inspired you to write "A solemn Curfew"?

Salsify-black-300x200When I saw the title for the anthology involved a castle, I decided to avoid all the obvious and try and write a "downstairs" story instead of an "upstairs" one. So I decided to explore the politics of a medieval kitchen. I had a lovely time researching mushrooms. You wouldn't believe the number of delicious ways there are to kill someone.

The salsify Quine cooks at one point seems to be interesting a number of people. It looks like this, but is really yummy, honest.

Here's a taster of "A Solemn Curfew":

Taking a lump of the best butter, he cast it into the pan and watched it fizz and foam. It was too hot, but that was the price he would have to pay for cooking on such a crude source of heat. He added the slices of mushroom, carefully turning them in the hot fat. As he watched the butter took on the purple shade of the gills, but the blue and white of the fungus stayed. It reminded Quine of the fantastically expensive blue and white china which adorned the sideboard in the dining hall, not even his lordship dined off those.

When he thought they had cooked enough, Quine took the pan to the table. His instinct was to add salt and pepper, but he thought it would be best to see how they tasted in their natural state. He speared a piece with a fork and carried it to his lips.

And there it stayed, hovering in mid-air, he wanted to put it in his mouth, he wanted to know how it tasted, but he also did not want to die. On the other hand this could be his golden opportunity. He tried again, but once again his courage failed him, it was no good, he could not bring himself to eat something which might mean not only death, but an agonising death. He would throw the mushroom on the fire and that would be an end of it.

As he turned to toss the contents of the pan into the grate he caught a sudden blast of aroma. There was no way of describing it, it was not the usual smell that came from well cooked food or the delightful odour which had come from mushrooms in their uncooked state, it was all of them only a hundred times more powerful.

Saliva filled Quine’s mouth and his stomach rumbled in anticipation. He had to eat it! He had never in his life experienced such hunger or greed. He wanted to eat this one and the ones hanging in the privy, and any more that Hurl could find for him.

The fork rushed to his lips and the warm slice was inside before he knew what he was about, and his mouth was full of the taste of the wild. There were earthy tones and the suggestion of wild boar and juniper and quail, hints of heather honey and bilberries and chestnuts.

When these passed there was an aftertaste of wild thyme and fresh water mussels. Never in his life had Quine tasted anything like it and he could hardly contain his rush to eat another. If this was going to kill him, it was worth it.

He looked with deep regret at the final slice, he wanted to savour this last morsel, make it last, enjoying every tiny layer of mind blowing flavour, but the sounds of others on their way to begin work meant he had to rush it into his mouth. He had no wish to be found alone in the kitchen this early, plus he needed somewhere to go and see what reaction he might have.

Quickly he ducked into the dried goods store; it was a long narrow room with a dog leg down the end where he could wait unseen if the boys came in for porridge, or the bakers for more flour. Hidden around this corner he sank down to the floor amongst the sacks of dried beans and pulses to await developments.

To his relief and delight nothing happened, apart from a small burp which rose from his stomach and again filled his mouth with the delicious bouquet. It was quiet and warm. After his succession of sleepless nights Quine was tired and began drifting.

As the sounds from the kitchen began to fade and his limbs sagged into a state of wonderful relaxation, he jerked himself back to life. Was this how the blue mushroom killed, not violently with all the drama of vomiting and fits, but softly and quietly? He shook his head, trying to rid himself of the fatigue.

It passed and he thought it probably was nothing more than being tired, but there was a slight feeling of elation which was unfamiliar. There was also a tingling around his lips and cheeks. It was not painful, but it did itch a bit.

The feeling spread to his nose and he had to rub it hard, which eased it, but did not stop it; then he felt as if itching had exploded over his whole face, up to his eyes and onto his forehead, across his cheeks to his ears and down his chin to his neck. It lasted barely a second, but it had been a disgusting and frightening sensation.

bev

And Bev's editing buddy C. Reg Jones wrote this review:

Bev Allen's story, "A Solemn Curfew" doesn't actually give us a time and place for the setting, but it has a definite medieval flavour to it that manages to lend credibility to the fantasy element of the story somehow.

Set in and around the kitchen at Castle Drakon, it follows the trials of the vegetable chef, Quine, as he strives to catch the eye of the head of the household, known only as His Lordship.

Bev has a way of sucking you into her fiction and regardless of the fact that most of the main characters are known only by their titles and jobs, the simple human nuances she describes make them all too real and identifiable.

I won't go deeper into the plot, but I can assure the reader a "can't put down" reading experience that I loved.

So don't forget to purchase you own Castle Drakon for a mere 99 cents! Go over to Soooz's blog or Elaina's blog (scroll down) for more reviews and buy the anthology: here.

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2137868Today we take a close look at story No. 3 of the Thorstruck Press Anthology The Secrets Of Castle Drakon, that wonderful compilation of 11 short stories by Thorstruck Press authors. In the spotlight today our multi-genre author Jillian Ward, who also writes under the pen name Lucy Pepperdine.  Jillian's story in the anthology is called Brotherly Love? The question mark not being out of place but you will find that out for yourself when you read the story. What always impresses me most when I read Jill's work is the smoothness of her writing. It reads as if she effortlessly throws her sentences on the canvas from a huge pallet of vocabulary and always with that twist of wry, ironic humour. And her ability at characterisation is enviable, to say the least.

So I asked Jillian if Brotherly Love? was written in her usual genre and this is her reply:

I don't know what the genre might be. It's a bit of everything really, what you might call a contemporary hodgepodge.

Where did you get the idea for this short?

It just popped right in there!! Sometimes that's how it happens. I have no other pictures, just the one we were given, no other cues either. The story sort of formed itself. I just wrote it down. It also seems to be somewhat open ended - you don't really know who this Drakon/Conrad character is at all. Who has been using who? I like that sense of enigma...and jelly babies.

jillianHere's a taster of Brotherly Love?

“So what about you, Barry Bolton?” Drakon said, after a long and contemplative silence. “If you
could have one wish, what would it be? Money? Women? Power? Because it seems only fair that if you are going to put yourself to all this trouble for me, I should try to do something for you in return as soon as I am able.”
Barry barked out a harsh, brittle laugh. “Nobody can give me what I want.”
Drakon looked at him keenly, reached a hand over the table and laid it on his wrist, his
expression one of deep sympathy and understanding. “Tell me what you want.”
Barry wiped his hand over his eyes and glanced at his watch. Nearly one in the morning. How
had it got so late so quickly?
“It’s late. I should go,” he said, standing. “I have a lot of work ahead of me tomorrow. Thank you
for your hospitality, Mr Drakon. It has been a pleasure to meet you.”
Drakon too rose, although it seemed to be more of a struggle for him.“You too, Barry,” he said.
“If you don’t mind, I won’t walk you to the door. I’m very tired. You can find your own way out, I’m sure. You should know the layout of the house like the back of your hand by now.”
“It’s beginning to feel like it,” Barry said with a shy smile. “Goodnight, Mr Drakon.”
“Goodnight, Barry.”
Barry took a step toward the hidden stairs that would take him down the tower to the main floor of the house, then turned back. “Before I go, can I ask you something?” he said. “About yourself?”
Drakon nodded. “Of course.”
“Your name, your ancestry, is it true what I’ve read?”
“That depends on what you’ve read.”
“Some say you are Malachi Drakon, that you’re a lot older than you look, the last living
descendant of a long line of foreign aristocracy with a strange and exotic background. Others seem to think you’re just plain old Michael Conrad, unemployed wannabe drummer from Tyneside. Which is it?”
Drakon draped an arm around Barry’s shoulder and gave it a friendly shoogle. “Does it really
matter? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Besides, in a few weeks both of them will cease to exist and nobody will give a shit.”

And here is Suzanna Burke's review of Brotherly Love:

Meet Carlton Greenleaf, Solicitor. A tall, thin, man who makes no sound when walking, and casts no shadow.

He enters the office of Larry and Barry Bolton, twin brothers that run an unsuccessful Real Estate office. Larry Bolton, the older twin by a matter of minutes, is the brash, pushy brother. His twin, accustomed to always being downgraded by his sibling, is quieter, more thoughtful and reflective. He has long given up trying to exert his own personality, knowing in advance that his brother would always undermine him.

The strange Mr. Greenleaf has a proposition for them, making it very clear from the outset that he is well aware of their precarious financial position. A tenuous situation that no amount of bluster by Larry Bolton can change. 

Mr. Greenleaf offers them the opportunity to represent his client Count Malachi Drakon in the sale of Castle Drakon an imposing 300 year old ‘white elephant’ located nearby.

Greenleaf directs most of his conversation towards the quieter twin, Barry.

Before leaving them he offers a substantial bonus if they are able to acquire a buyer within a period of three months. That bonus together with their commission from the sale would buy them out of financial trouble and set them up in a major city to begin anew.

‘Castle Drakon’ named so by the last owner, and the twin’s newest and only client, was an architectural abomination in anyone’s language. Having being sold and resold often, and altered with every new owner, it had the unfortunate reputation of being called everything from haunted to a place of strange practices of unspeakable evil.

When the brothers head out to take their first look they find a lot more than they expected including a room that would please anyone with an interest in sexual perversions, and drug paraphernalia suited to all types of addiction.

Author Jillian Ward has set a cracking pace with this story, the relationship between the twins features strongly. The descriptions used and the gallows humor in the dialogue are both exceptional. 

Relationships and their often strange outcomes are absolutely pivotal.

A terrific yarn.

So don't forget to purchase you own Castle Drakon for a mere 99 cents! Go over to Soooz's blog for all the reviews and buy the anthology: here.

 

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Today we take an in-depth look at the second story of the wonderful Thorstruck Press Anthology, which you can purchase for a mere 99 cents. It will guarantee you many hours of enjoyment, getting to know the very different styles of the 11 authors who contributed to the short story collection with the theme: The Secrets of Castle Drakon.

2103537Our sci-fi author Jeff Blackmer is responsible for this second short story called Zeara ga mouche and honesty demands to tell you this was my very first science fiction story since I read Jules Verne as a child. Shame on me, I know, but I thought the genre wasn't for me. Well, if you also consider yourself anything but a sci-fi fan, try Jeff Blackmer's work. He's an astonishing writer with a keen eye for exotic, colourful details and a great capacity to describe these in well-turned phrases. If there was ever an author who could lure you into liking sci-fi, it must be Jeff Blackmer. I know I'm sold!

So I asked Jeff is this was his usual genre?

The genre of Zeara ga mouche is science fiction, which has always been my genre of choice. However, many of my more recent ideas have fallen in the genre of Historical Fantasy.

Where did you get the idea for this short?

Well, the title Zeara ga mouche, came from a commercial I heard on the radio a few years ago advertising a local restaurant that served Baba ghanoush, a middle eastern dish made from eggplant, tomatoes, onions, olive oil and various seasonings. Baba ghanoush is such a fun word to say. I decided to write a story and somehow use it. After a while I had no ideas for a story about Middle Eastern cuisine. So I changed the word, while still making it fun to say. I ended up with Zearagamouche. I still didn’t know what the story was about. Finally it came to me that it might be a bird call. And that’s when the story began to take shape; a call by a bird on an alien world that warns anything in the area of a ferocious, terrifying saber-tooth panther. Everyone had difficulty pronouncing the title, so I broke it into sections: Zeara ga mouche.

zearaHere's a taster of Zeara ga mouche:

“Zear... Zear... Zeara ga mooouch... Zeara ga mooouche...”

It was the bird cry, beginning with a shriek and ending with an audible sound of air rushing out in an evil hiss. It sounded exactly like they’d been told.

“Zeara ga mouche …” the bird cried again in the thick dripping shadows.

Grady dropped a shell into the chamber of his gun and Brandt heard his fierce whisper. “Come on. Come out where I can see you.”

“We’ve had our alarm, people,” said Hawthorne. “Everybody stay close, move slow, stay alert. Grady and Arnoff, be ready.”

Brandt glanced over to her left and up onto a branch, and then she saw the bird. She stopped and Grady almost ran into her.

“Keep going, I'll be there in just a sec. I'm taking some pictures of this bird. It’s only about five feet away, the closest we've been to it. This could be useful in the future.”

“It's not doing its call right now though,” said Arnoff. “That's good, right?”

“I hope so.” She raised her camera and snapped four pictures as everyone moved beyond her.

“I’ve found your Varovani, Dobrovsky,” she whispered. “He’s beautiful.” Suddenly Grady’s foot caught on something and he stumbled, falling to his knees. Brandt heard him and turned. “You all right?”

“I'm fine. No punctures, no injuries.”

“Good.” Brandt turned back toward the bird, but it was gone. Instead, underneath the limb, a black shadow crouched in the dark gloom. She wanted to scream, but all that came out was a hoarse whisper. “Grady. Cat.”

“Huh, what the hell … don’t move Brandt, I’ve got this.”

Grady was about twenty yards beyond her, a tree trunk blocking his view. He could maneuver for a shot, but would there be enough time?

Involuntarily Brandt began trembling inside her suit. This beast was enormous, much bigger than a tiger, so black it glistened, and like a panther in appearance. It had saber tooth fangs, probably six inches long, and shorter ones about half that length jutting up from the bottom. A low, almost continuous growl emanated from the throat of the cimmerian monster. A forked tongue flicked in and out of its mouth, and that seemed out of place until she stared into those eyes. The eyes, they had her frozen. Pale yellow, with reptilian slits for pupils; focused, determined and intense."

fungus

And here is Suzanna Burke's review of Zeara ga mouche.

This story is both clever and engaging.

Five interstellar travelers walk through a portal of ‘Castle Drakon.’

Their quest, to gather 50 kg of a fungus that grows nowhere else, a fungus that would be used to create a universal virus vaccine that could not yet be replicated synthetically. The portal brings them to an oasis of sorts, where the trees grow to over a mile in height, with bases over 100 yards in diameter.

They are a diverse group of travelers, with Hawthorne as mission commander, the female botanist Brandt, uncomfortable wearing a sidearm yet excited to have been included on the mission. Dobrovsky is their exobiologist; his expertise hopefully would help protect them from the apex predator, already the cause of eleven deaths on two previous missions. Grady and Arnoff are military, bought along as mission protection.

Grady was the only survivor of the 2nd mission. Apart from himself and the mission leader, none of the crew had been warned or told of the high death rate of the previous missions. They had all found it odd that they needed to be so heavily armed in what appeared to be an oversized tropical paradise.

The briefing by Brandt reveals that the fungus can only be found at approx. 3,000 feet. Their protective suits will shield them from the extremes in temperature.

Dobrovsky then informs them of the ‘apex’ predator which he calls Sheidah. The Polish for dark demon. The news that it is around the size of a saber-tooth tiger and will attack if detecting any movement has the crew rattled. They are warned not to move if sighting one.

The good news is that a bird resembling an Australian Kookaburra, only much larger and vividly colored, a Varovani ... Czech for Fearful Premonition could be their greatest ally, this bird gives a warning cry whenever a Sheidah is nearby. The call sounds like ‘zeara ga mouche.’

Author Jeffrey Blackmer keep the tension resoundingly high in this tale. Unrelenting and unpredictable.

An absolute pleasure to read.

Suffice it to say that I will not be heading into the tropics again anytime soon.

Mouthwatering? Bone-chilling? Go over to Soooz's blog for all the reviews and buy your Castle Drakon for 99 cents: here.

 

 

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On 23 December Thorstruck Press published its first anthology, with short stories of 11 of its authors: The Secrets of Castle Drakon. It is a superb collection of shorts in many genres: fantasy, horror, historical fiction, sfi-ci & romance, with every Thorstruck author showing his of her unique talent of storytelling.
We were given this picture to let our imagination run free. Doesn't everyone have 'something' with castles? And they're are almost synonymous with secrets. The very architecture of the spooky towers and thick walls, wide moats and draughty halls; the remote ages in which they were built, it all conjures up a fuzzy haze of images and emotions. You don't even have to be a writer to find yourself telling your children bedtime stories about castles and their strange inhabitants. Let alone give such material to the group of professional writers that make up Thorstruck Press.  1656312_756863171027831_6924784642560883476_n We're a great team at out publishing house and one of the binding elements is the buddy system in which we proofread each others' work to make small suggestions for changes or pick up spelling errors before the manuscript goes to our editor. In this light we've also read each others' shorts in teams and as it is my intention to highlight each of the stories on my blog, I've asked the buddies to write a review of the story in question.

regToday we start with the opening story The Fiddler's Soul written by Richard Rhys Jones. I asked him if it was written in his usual genre?

"I usually write horror or adventure with a horror twist. I decided to try my hand at something with a supernatural element to it; not necessarily horror, more ghostly. I tried to make the characters sordid, or at best morally frail, and I hope this puts a warped spin onto what is already a strange tale about a motley collection of weirdoes performing a very odd ritual."

Where did you get the idea for this short?

"The idea came from an old folk story I’d read as a child about a blind fiddler and his dog going into a cave to face the devil. I’ve no idea where it originated, but the story stuck in my head. I crossed that with a castle not far from my home town called Gwrych castle, and the cave not far from it called The Devil’s Cave, (well, that’s what we used to call it when we were young).

devil's caveCastle Drakon

Local folklore has it that the people of Llandulas had problems with the devil, who lived in its gloomy confines. Apparently he was in the habit of frightening pregnant women, so the locals called in an exorcist to be rid of him.
I’d also always liked the idea of early film makers filming ghosts, séances etc, and wanted to write something along those lines. The filming aspect sort of took a back seat to the characters, which is good in my opinion, but it’s in there and was my original idea for the story. Perhaps I’ll do another short about filming a ritual some other time."

Here is a taster of The Fiddler's Soul:

Fritz registered the nod and continued. “The aim of this weekend is to retrieve a soul from the Realm of Satan, an innocent man who foolishly took a bet, and paid for losing it with his soul.”

He paused for effect and scanned his audience. The men, Hypatia, and the jaded Miss Forbes watched him, but showed no emotion. Lady Greystone’s eyes flashed with the light of resolve and the elderly Eleri and her daughter followed him intently, like children hearing a story for the first time; only Miss Page had not changed her position on the sofa. She sat motionless, her cup held in both hands, listening and looking straight ahead. Fritz continued, “In 1872, John Cadwaladar, Eleri’s husband, took on a wager he would spend a night in the Devil’s Cave, not far from here in Llandulas. The Devil’s Cave is a local attraction and it has its own legend and folklore, but for now we’ll stick with the story that interests us. John was famous locally for his talents with the fiddle, but like every talented musician he had his detractors.”

rag

And here is Bev Allen's review of The Fiddler's Soul. Bev is also a Thorstruck Press author and Richard's 'buddy'.

The new anthology from the authors from Thorstruck Press, “Secrets of Castle Drakon,” opens with a tale of classic horror from Richard Rhys Jones.
Jacob a somewhat naïve young journalist is tempted by the offer of a mystery with overtones of the supernatural. He has fallen for one of these before and got his fingers burnt as a result, but this one has a ring of authenticity so he goes off to delve deeper into the whole.
Deep in the heart of Wales (beautifully described by the author) he finds himself one of a house party at Drakon Castle. There is a cast of memorable characters from the beautiful blind girl, through the voluptuous vamp and the predatory older woman, via the suave aristocrat, the mad German and several batty old dears.
The German is mine host and he has a plan he wants Jacob to witness and write down, he wants to raise the Devil and film him…Ridley Scott, eat your heart out.
No spoilers, I wouldn’t want to ruin all the twists and turns in this tale of revenge and redemption, but the whole is well spiced with some hot scenes of unbridled lust and some delicious moments of gory violence.

Mouthwatering? Bone-chilling? Go over to Soooz's blog for all the reviews and buy your Castle Drakon for 99 cents: here.

 

 

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Here I sit, my fingers typing what my heart is feeling: with these sparkles I want to wish all my readers a HAPPY & HEALTHY 2015.

Next to all other good things you may be wishing for, I hope this year will be filled with Earnestness, Clarity & Concentration. These three qualities belong to Kano, Kauno or Kenaz, the Rune of Opening, the 6th letter of the Runic alphabet, one of my favourites, if not the most favourite.

KanoKano's meaning is opening, fire, torch, enlightenment. Or, as the rune specialist Ralph Blum phrases it: "This is the Rune of opening up, of renewed clarity, of dispelling the darkness that has been shrouding some part of your life. You are free now to receive, and to know the joy of non-attached giving. Kano is the rune for the morning of activities, for seriousness, clarity and concentration, all of which are essential at the beginning of the work."  BTW, I prefer the word 'earnestness' to 'seriousness', but that's - of course - a matter of personal taste. :-)

Privately, there are still heavy clouds over my head and those of my family but professionally I hope to make a big leap forward in 2015. On 23 December the Thorstruck Press Anthology "The Secrets of Castle Drakon" came out and I'll be blogging extensively on the 11 short stories written by my colleagues and me in the course of this month.1656312_756863171027831_6924784642560883476_n The, already much-praised, high-quality, Anthology is available for a mere 99 cents so don't miss this true marvel. Here's the blurb to make your mouth water.

"Castle Drakon is a mysterious place. A portal to offworld, a haven for the ancients, a receptacle for nightmares, and a residence where the weird and bizarre are the norm. In this anthology of eleven short stories you will experience a smorgasbord of phenomenal tales that will entertain and leave a lingering mulling over the profound and macabre.

Welcome to Castle Drakon, enter the sacrosanct halls at your own peril."

 

3850890_origMy Casablanca, My Heart audiobook narrated by Kate Fisher is due to come out in January. You can listen to a sample here. Furthermore, two more books are in the pipeline for release in 2015, namely in July and August. I'll keep you updated on the progress over the next couple of months.

thermos_bottle_12ozLast but not least, do take a peek at my publisher's merchandise. The articles are ever so cute! Personally, I'm totally wild about this thermos and will order one asap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here's to a busy, fruitful year of writing & publishing! Slainte!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For my darling Joy (16 July 1984 - 15 March 2014)

Every day in my heart.

Joy

Come and meet Happy Dance, a pretty blue-red-yellow kite with a very long tail. For three years Happy Dance has lived in Jennifer’s garage in Wind Street. Now the little kite is old enough to fly the skies by herself and that is what she likes most of all. Fly and dive, rise and dance and dive before the rise again. When the strong wind blows out her wings, she would like to stay up all day. But Jennifer, her string keeper, is mighty strict. Jennifer decides if the wind is good and how long Kite may fly over the houses and above the trees.

For many long hours Happy Dance hangs on the wall in the garage. She shares the wall with garden tools and another grumpy old kite, Bluebeard. The garden tools are always discussing weeds and digging and raking. Happy Dance has no idea what they are talking about and when she tries to start a conversation with them, they wink at each other and turn their muddy faces away from her. The old kite with his blue body and tail is not very talkative either and never says more than three words in one go.

kitesShe tries to get Bluebeard to talk anyway. She’s so bored. It has been ages since Jennifer took her out. “When was the last time you went flying?” Happy Dance asks.

“Four years ago,” Bluebeard grumbles.

“Would you like to go flying again?”

“No.”

“Why not? Don’t you like it? I like nothing better.” Happy Dance flaps her canvas wings eagerly.

“Because I fell,” Bluebeard sounds tired.

“What happened? Did you hurt yourself?” The young kite looks hopefully at the old one. Maybe he will share the adventure with her, but Bluebeard snaps:

“Broke my back.” And shuts up. Happy Dance feels sorry for him but is dying to hear more.

Is Bluebeard pretending to be asleep? This is no time for sleeping.

Happy Dance pricks up her ears. Is it the wind she is hearing? Perhaps, Jennifer will come. Through the window she can see the dunes in the distance and she knows that behind the dunes are the beach and the sea. The sun is shining, it invites her outside.

Sometimes wishes are granted.

Jennifer is standing in the doorway, her hands in the pockets of her jeans, her yellow plaits peeping from under her khaki cap, a red rucksack on her small back.

“Are you ready, Happy?”

“Are we going flying?” the overjoyed kite shouts. She cannot hang still and quiet anymore. The commotion wakes Bluebeard from his slumber and he grumbles:

“Stop being silly.”

“Oh, Bluebeard, you’re just jealous. I’ll ask Jennifer to take you with us.”

“Hell, no thanks.” The old kite folds double and goes back to sleep. Jennifer takes Happy Dance down from the wall. She winds her long kite tail around her arm so it doesn’t get entangled.mooi

“I’m going flying, I’m going flying,” the little kite sings.

“Yes,“ Jennifer joins in, “we are lucky today because mom is going to drive us to the beach. You can fly there with lots of your friends.”

In the back of the Mrs Lind’s station wagon Happy Dance bobs up and down joyfully all the way to the beach. Jennifer’s mum parks the car at the top of the dunes and says to her daughter:

“I will pick you up at this same spot in an hour, Jen? Make sure you check your watch!”

“Sure, mommy,” Jennifer answers as she hops out of the car and opens the trunk. She grabs Happy Dance and off they go, down the steep wooden steps to the sandy beach. There are many other kites flying in the sky or about to go up. Happy Dance is becoming even more excited. Only one hour, she can’t wait to be up and show the other kites how well she can dance and dive. The impatient kite pulls on her string.

“Hurry up, Jennifer,” she shouts. But Jennifer has difficulty walking in the loose sand and she is looking around her to find someone to help her flip Happy Dance up in the air.

Finally, Jennifer has decided on a spot where she has enough space to run backwards while Happy Dance goes up. Jennifer has asked a boy to help her with her kite. Happy Dance feels how the boy holds her while he is waiting for Jennifer’s instructions. Happy Dance holds her breath, she is almost giddy with happiness and then suddenly she is flying, really flying. Oh, how good it feels!

dancingRising higher and higher the happy kite sees the whole beach, then the sea and then she can look over the dunes and see the red-roofed houses of her village on the other side. Far below her, she sees a small blue dot, which is Jennifer with all around her other children and grown-ups holding the strings of all the kites. Happy Dance shouts a cheery ‘hello’ to a red kite with little white polka dots on her left but that kite turns away and ignores Happy Dance.

“Ah well,” the little kite thinks, “I know all about grumpy kites. I just want to have fun.” So she smiles and waves at a purple kite with a tail even longer than hers, with lots of little white bows on it. The purple kite is much friendlier and waves back, then others come and wave, yellow, green, red, all different colours. Happy Dance smiles and dances for a while and has great fun with her new friends. She hopes Jennifer will forget to pull her down; that something will happen so she can keep flying forever and ever.

Happy Dance is just ready to take a big dive when from the corner of her eye she sees an angry looking black kite with a white death head coming her way.

“Whoooahhh,”she cries during the dive and, “iiieeeeeoooooeeeehhhh” while she climbs up again. Very far down it sounds like Jennifer’s voice yelling at her but Happy Dance has the wind in her ears and doesn’t listen. She looks over her shoulder and sees the black kite, really close.black

The next moment the little kite hears a loud bang and a sharp snap. Happy Dance screams and fights to stay up. She hits the black monster with her flaps trying to get away from him. Struggling free, still flying, she sees the black kite going down in big circles. She is glad to be free again but something feels different. Happy Dance can’t feel the tug of the string on her body and flaps anymore. Checking what is wrong she finds her string is broken. And she is rising higher and higher. She is flying over the dunes in the direction of the village. It feels wonderful. She is completely free now. This is the best feeling there is. She has dreamt of this moment so often, hanging and waiting on the garage wall. So this is what it is like to fly without a string. Heaven!

But when the little kite has flown over the village and then over the next one and another village with red rooftops, she starts to worry about herself and about Jennifer. Her stringkeeper will think she has lost her. It is also very tiring to fly all on your own so far away, but Happy Dance doesn’t know how to go down. She needs a rest. There are no other kites in the sky here, there is only the wind pushing her on and up. One lonely seagull flies past her but then goes in the other direction without greeting or helping.los

“How am I ever going to get down again?” the frightened kite whimpers. She flies over treetops and over a golden weathercock on top of a church. She keeps peering down hoping to see she is getting lower, nearer the ground. If only the wind would be kind, let her down. But no, the wind doesn’t listen. Happy Dance is being blown higher and further, far away from her garage wall in Wind Street. The little kite starts to feel very lost. There’s no one to help her.

On the horizon she can see the sun is already going to say goodbye to the day. Soon evening will fall. She is so afraid of being high in the sky at night. Happy Dance shivers and a teardrop trickles down her little face.

“Please, please let me come down?” she prays. “Please let me go back to Bluebeard and Jennifer. I will never, ever want to be free again.” But the night sails in and Happy Dance is still by herself in the black night. Stars come out and the crescent of a moon appears right above her. The little kite is so tired that all she wants to do is close her eyes and sleep. A couple of times she almost falls asleep but shakes herself awake again when the wind pulls her tail. But after a while her eyelids droop and she dozes off. Sailing softly on the wind.

As she sleeps, Happy Dance doesn’t feel the wind die down and change direction. Very slowly the gentle breeze carries the exhausted little kite back and lets her go down. There is a soft thud as Happy Dance falls on the pavement. She wakes, a sharp pain in her back. Blinking, the kite looks around her and opens her round eyes wider than wide. She is lying in front of her own garage next to Jennifer’s mom’s station wagon.

“I’m home!” she shouts feeling so much joy at being back alive. She is so happy that she doesn’t even feel the pain in her back anymore. All sleepiness is gone as well. “Jennifer, I’m home!”art

A light goes on in Jennifer’s bedroom and within seconds Happy Dance sees her stringkeeper run out the front door in her pajamas. She rushes over to the wounded kite and picks her up in her arms. Hugging the little kite tightly she softly scolds her:

“You naughty little kite, but I’m so pleased you’re back. I thought I would never see you again. Are you all right?”

“Oh yes,” Happy Dance replies with a big smile, “My string is gone and my back is sore but I will be okay. Just very tired. “

Carefully Jennifer carries Happy Dance back to the garage and hangs her on her own little spot. Giving her another friendly pat, she says:

“Tomorrow I will ask daddy to make you a new string and repair your back. Now go to sleep.“

“Thank you, Jennifer.” The little kite gives her a grateful smile.

Happy Dance sighs deeply, ready to fall asleep at once. But before she closes her eyes, she says to Bluebeard in a little voice:

“I’m so glad to see you Bluebeard, I never thought I’d see you again.“

“Be quiet, you silly little girl,” the old kite grumbles but giving her a friendly wink, “the wind and I are old friends. We made sure you’d come back safely. We old men know how to deal with Scary Sky.”

The little kite is so surprised about hearing Bluebeard say so many words that she doesn’t understand the meaning of his words. But she feels they are friends now and Bluebeard will protect her. Before she sails off to the land of dreams, she whispers:

“Thank you, Bluebeard! I’ll never want to fly on my own again.”

eind

 

2 Comments

books1To some folk I may seem like a strange specimen but when I read a book, I tend to read for pleasure, perhaps instruction on the craft, but never to race through it in order to get to the next one. While on the haunt for more reviews for my new novel Psychic Confessions, I visited many reviewers' sites and was surprised to find there is a real battle going on how many books one can consume per day, per month, per year. To find that readers set targets on book quota, TBH that was a whole new aspect to me. Like training for the marathon. I recently came on a site where the reader had done his '99 books' for this year and only had 1 more to go. He will definitely have a relaxing Christmas, lying flat out under his Christmas tree. Not a book in sight. :-)

Goodreads-2014-Reading-ChallengeI know Goodreads sets reader challenges but have never taken part in that. I'm greatly irritated already when Audible informs me I've listened for an hour during my lunch break or am awarded a midnight owl badge. WTF? I wasn't even having lunch and had no idea it was past my bedtime! Anyway, reading is clearly not a competitive business for me but maybe I'm not en vogue anymore?

Always when I learn something new, I wonder how other people think about it. Please fill in the poll below and let us see what the results are. The number of books you read per year. Shall I keep track in 2015?

Thank you for taking part!

 

 

 

 

 

I'm trying out a thousand things with my website, some work, some don't. I want to add polls and surveys to my blog as I love those and think they're great way of interacting with my writer pals but for some reason WordPress won't let me, so for now I've given up.

cCreated a bit of a Christmassy atmosphere on here in an attempt to get in the mood. I feel such a strong urge already to reflect on 2014 but it's not time for that yet. For the rest, completely immersed in reading about book marketing, to be more precise about hashtags, the results of which will soon be shared with you.

Meanwhile I'm editing my third novel Ingrid and preparing the start of number four: The Angel Within.

Only remaining interesting piece of information to tell you right now is that I got my 3rd 5* review for Psychic Confessions this week. :-)

This is what the reader wrote: pc

"A different type of story which I enjoyed reading. The main character delves into her childhood and also before she was born to understand why she turned out the way she did. Kept me interested to see how the story ended. The author has a true gift of imagination."

Thank You, Dear Reader!

 

10 Comments

1Being a writer is one of the best parts of being me. The creative process, the determination to get the story on paper, the endless editing rounds, the nail-biting wait for the publisher's green light, it’s all intrinsically part of me and - although far from light or easy – a part I couldn’t part with for the life of me. I believe I was born as a writer and then got the extraordinary – often incredibly hard life – to suit the job.

All well, all doable, all taken in my stride.

But.

Then comes the part I seem unable to tackle.

2Marketing the new book.

Honestly, this is last week’s score:

    • Sent 65 requests for reviews: 5 accepted, 3 no thank you, 57 no answer
    • Twittered about the new book 35 times
    • Did two interviews
    • Wrote two blogs
    • Spent 20 hours reading marketing tips
    • Sent 10 mails for marketing help
    • Joined 3 groups that assist authors to market their books
    • Updated all my social media that needed updating: Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Website, Goodreads, FB Author page, Amazon author page, Pinterest
    • Joined Instagram.

So far this week's marketing work adds up to 70 hours outside my normal workweek.

And the results? Aahhhhhhhh *Le sigh*. :-(

3But giving up is no option! Even if it means I have to study marketing books to know how to make my book stand out among the 2 million (?) eBooks on Amazon, I believe in its quality and its beauty.

On a Brighter Note. Had my second 5* review for Psychic Confessions and this is what the reader said:

"Who is Jenna Kroon de Coligny? That is a question Jenna must find the answer to, and find it she does, emerging "from the rubble of six decades of troubled family history, a lone phoenix." Hannah Warren's new novel, "Psychic Confessions" is a haunting, unforgettable, can't-put-it-down gem that leaves me anxiously awaiting the arrival of Book 2. Hannah Warren is an author to watch."

Well, here I go again, just at a slower pace or it will be the death of me! Really need to start writing again and feel the life sap flow through my veins. Oh yes! :-)

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2 Comments

shaky

After doing a mini research into audiobooks in October and posting these on my blog, Audiobook I and Audiobooks II, I now want to add my own experience of listening versus reading. As yet, however, my experience is rather limited: I’ve listened to 3 (parts of) books by 3 different authors read by 3 different narrators (an Englishman, a Scot and an American).

Having read novels for 50 odd years, it was revolutionary new to me to put in earplugs, put on  winter coat and hiking shoes and switching to Audible on my phone, venture into the great outdoors with a male voice (I haven’t listen to a female voice yet) intimately talking inside my head and inviting me into a story by means of his vocal chords. Being an experienced – perhaps even obsessive – reader, I had to get used to a number of aspects that made the listening adventure a little unsettling to me at first. These are mostly aspects of a practical nature.

I was irritated by noises in the street, cars driving passed predominantly, but unwilling or not fast enough to stop the reading for the duration of the interruption, thus missing parts but finding it too much of a hassle to rewind and relisten. I live in a remote part of the world and sometimes I waited until I was outside the village before plugging in but also there was regularly annoyed by passing tractors :-(

grap2I also listened while driving and at certain busy traffic moments couldn’t give my full attention to the story. I missed the normal ‘reread’ you do when you feel you’ve lost it for a moment. The listening goes on and you have to pick up a little later but this can feel somewhat rushed. As if you’re briefly infidel to the author's voice. I had to get over this dissatisfaction of missing something and let go of it.

Another practical hiccup for me was the pronunciation of unusual names of persons or unknown places. I feel less capable of ‘seeing these before my eyes’ because I keep wondering how they're spelled. Written words are anchors for me. Reading the letters t-a-b-l-e help you to visualise a flat rectangular top with 4 legs. That’s how the brain – mine at least - is wired.

I also had to get used to being involved in an inward process while taking part in the outside world. This division of attention can be strained. For example, I would be greeting a neighbour in the street while listening and finding myself unwilling to stop and make some small talk as I usually do. Reading in the sanctuary of one's home, or even on the beach is a clear activity that people witness and take into account but they aren't aware you’re not ‘with them’ although you see them and say ‘hello’. Got some funny faces there :-(

luisterenWhat I have so far also found different from reading is that after an hour or so of listening, I need to switch off and listen to the silence around me for a while. With reading I can have fits of unstoppability, reading until 3 or 4 in the morning but for me that isn’t the case with audiobooks. I get tired listening to the same voice all the time, however skilled the narrator is at bringing the story alive. But that doesn’t mean that Audiobooks aren’t addictive. After the break, I need to listen to the next episode the next day, only in smaller portions than with reading but again that could purely be being unused to the habit and may change over time.

Audiobooks are certainly a great enrichment to the the world of books. As you only have the narrator’s voice as your compass, the activity of absorbing the story is exquisitely intense. You’re even more in the here and now and more concentrated on the act of getting to know the characters and the storyline than with the book in your lap. To me reading is a more casual affair, but again this may be due to the novelty of it all.

Conclusion: I’m hooked, I’m sold and I’m definitely going to listen to all my favourite authors & books one day, some day! Thank you Audible and my publisher Thorstruck Press for introducing me to audiobooks.

The audio version of my own first novel novel Casablanca, My Heart narrated by Kate Fisher will hopefully be out before Christmas. Yipppyyy!book