2016: Good riddance – bring it on 2017!

Reflections on a crappy year

2016As I’m writing this on the last day of 2016, I look outside my window at frost covering my garden, beautifying the ugly trampoline that the kids still jump on occasionally. It is freezingcold. When I opened the living-room door to take the pictures, my son nearly turned into an icicle. His words. He’s thirteen so prone to teenage melodrama.

One of the highlights of 2016 was thePentatonix concert in Frankfurt, two days after the Orlando massacre. They played this song and dedicated it to the victims. You could have heard a pin drop. One of the most moving moments in my life and one I won’t forget. There wasn’t a dry eye in the hall…

Pentatonix – Light in the Hallway

The World Sucks

2016 has been a difficult year for me like for so many others. The whole world has gone crazy. Political tectonic shifts like Brexit and Trump. Human outrages, Nice, Orlando, Brussels, Ankara, Berlin, Aleppo – was there one country in the world that wasn’t in some way touched by religious madness and crazy dogs bringing their carnage into our personal space? Or vice versa?

Small but equally soul-destroying experiences like that rabid clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. The brutal attacks of police against the black community and the horrific backlash. The Pharma Games of Rio. The death of thousands and thousands of desperate people fleeing their homes. The treatment of traumatized survivors in so-called civilized countries like Hungary where police pepper-sprayed children.

So Many Lost

img_6051And then the stream of beloved celebrities dying, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael (seriously? I’m still in disbelief), Carrie Fisher and her mom, AA Gill, Victoria Wood, the list goes on and on and on.

So forgive me if I didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas this year. While we sit and eat turkey and praise the birth of Jesus, others build walls, persecute minorities and spout bigoted hatred in the name of the son of god.

I withdrew into my home and enjoyed the company of family and friends. And it was lovely. As long as I didn’t turn on the news.

My Personal 2016

The crazy thing is that 2016 was a good year for me. I finished my book Spirit Hunger. I tackled five years of tax submissions that had woken me up in the middle of the night with worry. My husband was promoted, my kids are doing great, a good friend had a lung transplant and is doing well.

Bring it On, 2017!

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine that 2017 could be worse than the last year. Although the new man in the White House doesn’t fill me with confidence. The USA is already suffering the effects of global warming with a huge increase of tornadoes, draught, and strange weather patterns. I can’t see this getting better with a man who wants to turn the clock back 50 years and increase reliance on fossil fuel. I suppose he’s too old to give a shit about what happens in 30 years. He’ll be dead by then. Thanks a lot.

Resolutions

My resolutions are two-fold, personally and professionally:

  • lift my family’s health to a new level. We’ve slipped (more like I couldn’t be bothered to cook for the last two months while finishing THE BOOK. So we’ve decided to eat vegetarian and add a bit of meat with each dish. I’m already working out 3 times a week, lifting weights. Just need to add a bit more cardio, walking, swimming, rowing to my routine.
  • Write more books. I’m getting started on *Spirit Elfen*, the second part in the series. It’ll be set in Heidelberg, Germany, my alma mater. I envisage a few trips to this beautiful town and maybe some overnight stays in the summer. Yay, something to look forward to!

Maybe I’ll even manage part 3, *Spirit Warrior*. For that, I’ll have to do a ton of research into native American legends and belief-systems, so again, exciting, challenging and so so cool. Can’t wait!

I’m very tempted to slip in a novella, featuring gay kick-ass detective Jason Wozniak, Chicago PD. I read a lot of romantic detective stories and this guy wants out, in every sense. Out of my head and onto the page, as well as out of the closet. Who am I to deny freedom to a fictional character!   

My Wish to You All

img_6052I wish you lots of health and success in 2017. When life turns shit, hug your family, your friends, your lovers. We can’t do it by ourselves, we need people around us who understand and support us. If you’re surrounded by people who don’t give you that, cut them out. Life is too short to be dragged down by users and emotional leeches.

When things get hard, you need to be able to ask for help. Turn off the radio, TV, internet news and focus on the good things. And there are many, believe me. Your kids, the first peep of green in spring, lying by the lake in the summer and listening to the dragonflies. Find those moments and treasure them.

Happy New Year to You All!

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 12

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

 

spirit-hunger

Chapter 12

Honi looked at his phone’s display deep in thought. When he raised his head, Adi walked into his field of vision. If anything, she looked even worse than yesterday. Although her hair was pulled back into a pony tail, the style couldn’t hide the greasiness of the strands pulled tight over her ears. There were shadows around her eyes that hadn’t been there before.

As Honi turned her way, every single spirit animal in the square turned with him and stared at the slight girl. The feeling of wrongness, of unbalance was made him nauseous. Ho’neo growled and slunk closer, tail between his legs. What the hell was going on? He walked a little faster and then realized what had bothered him from the moment he had met her. Where was hers? Where was Adi’s animal? If he could see everybody else’s, why could he not see hers?

When he drew closer, Adi looked up and met his eyes. Did she ever wear anything else but her gray hoodie with ratty jeans and trainers? He stopped in front of her and smiled. Adi smiled back tentatively.

“Hey, you’re up early,” she said.

“Yeah, couldn’t sleep. Weird dreams,” he responded casually while watching her closely. She flinched a little when he mentioned the dreams. He had suspected that her presence in his vision wasn’t accidental and he really wanted to confirm whether she could remember being there.

“We have half an hour before class. Wanna join me for a quick bite to eat?”

Adi hesitated for a moment, then nodded. Together they walked across campus to the only decent coffee shop close by. Honi spent more than he could afford on two scrambled eggs with chives and bacon. When Adi’s face lit up at the sight of the plate in front of her, he was glad that he had.

Once they were both scraping the last bit of food off their plates, it was time to find out how much Adi knew about her ability.

“So I’ve been having some weird dreams lately,” he began. Adi’s eyes snapped up to his and he tried to return her gaze as calmly as he could.

“Funny thing is that you were in my the last dream,” he continued. Then he waited.

Adi spent a long time chasing a piece of chive across her plate with what Honi assumed was her ‘thinking face’. Then she asked:

“Why would I be in your dream? You know that sounds seriously weird, right?”

Honi grinned. “Yeah, but not as weird as having you appear in my spirit journey.”

“What? Okay I’m intrigued. What the heck is a spirit journey? Is that some Indian thing?”

Honi chuckled. “We prefer Native American. Well, there are a lot of names you can use, although Indian isn’t one of them. That’s a whole different continent.”

Adi blushed. It looked good on her. “Sorry. What should I call you then?”

“How about Honi?” he said drily. “I’m Mekui’te and moved here from Oklahoma. Your turn.”

Adi smiled hesitantly, then said, “Well, you know my name is Adi and I moved here from Germany. My father was American, my mom German. I grew up in a town called Frankfurt and I’ve been back in the States for a couple of years.”

  “And? Do you like it?”

“Yeah, it’s great. I’ve been back to the USA a few times. My father was keen on keeping in touch with his family.”

Honi noticed that she didn’t say “my family”. There was a story there but he didn’t want to pry. He thoughtfully took a sip from his Darjeeling while keeping eye contact with Adi. Wow, she did have beautiful eyes. The morning light lit up her whole face and now that he sat opposite her, he could appreciate the color of her irises. He wasn’t really a man of words and he couldn’t think of a good description. Amber maybe? Just then, her eyes began to narrow. Oh crap, he was staring at her, wasn’t he? He quickly changed tack. There wasn’t a lot of time left before class.

“So…, the reason I wanted to talk to you…,” he began. Adi waited politely. “I had the weirdest dream last night. It was kinda scary and you were in it.”

“Okay, that doesn’t sound any less weird the second time you say that,” Adi said drily.

“Hear me out. There is a Mekui’te tradition where young boys go through a test before they become men.” When Adi raised an eyebrow, Honi smiled ruefully. “Yeah, it’s old-fashioned and not many kids do it nowadays, but I did. So during this test, the boy is sent into the wilderness and has to fend for himself. The idea is that he gets himself into a state of altered consciousness and finds his spirit animal, his guide that will be with him for the rest of his life.”

Adi frowned. “Sorry, are you saying that you send children out by themselves? What if they’re attacked by animals or have an accident? Is that even legal?”

Honi laughed. “In the olden days, it was a test to see if the child would survive and become a worthy warrior. Nowadays the kid is more protected than if he went shopping at Walmart. My dad and his friend, other family members, even my mom were always around me, making sure I didn’t get into any situation I couldn’t get out of. I didn’t know until after, so it was still scary.”

“Wow, that’s a great tradition,” Adi interrupted. “So the child has the illusion of being tough and capable but at the same time is totally safe?”

Honi looked at her sharply but couldn’t detect any sarcasm. He felt pleased that she got the point of it.

“Yeah, when I walked back to our village, I felt ten feet tall. And even when I found out much later that there’d never been any danger, it didn’t make the achievement smaller.” Adi was leaning forward, listening intently.

“Sleeping under the stars, listening to the coyotes, that was an experience I wouldn’t want to miss. One of the greatest of my life so far, actually.” Honi and Adi shared another genuine smile.

Then Adi asked, “So did you find what your spirit animal is?”

Honi turned serious. “Yes, I did. And that’s why I wanted to talk to you. During the third night, I had a vision of a large wolf walking towards me. I was half asleep but the animal looked and felt real. I remember not being very scared. The minute I looked at him, I knew what he was. And he’s been with me ever since.” Adi’s eyes widened. Honi resisted the temptation to pat Ho’neo’s head next to his knees.

“So last night I had another dream. This time I was the wolf. And I met you in the spirit world. You knew me and we were friends.” Adi scooted back a fraction, clearly starting to freak out a little. Honi hesitated but he knew he had to continue.

“The dream was beautiful and peaceful but then it turned ugly. I dreamed that you were attacked. I tried to help but couldn’t and woke up. I’ve had nightmares before but not like this…” He stopped.

Adi had scooted back all the way. She took a sip of her tea and he could see her hand shake. She knew what he was talking about alright. Before he could say anything else, her mouth tightened and she stood up.

“Thanks for breakfast. Sorry you had a nightmare. Not sure what you want me to do about it but I gotta go now. Things to do before class. See you round.” And before Honi could say anything else, she walked off, nearly falling over a trashcan in her rush to get away.

Honi sat back. Huh. He’d certainly hit a nerve. Her reaction proved that she remembered being there. Just before she jumped up, he had seen the fear in her eyes. Damn it, he didn’t even get to the part where he tried to convince her that she might have the gift herself. And he was running out of time, if John was right.

Talking of running out of time…. He checked his watch. Time to go and spend the next ninety minutes with the ever delightful professor Diepger.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 11 

Link to Chapter 13 

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 11

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

spirit-hunger

Chapter 11

It was time to go back. Honi walked faster, feeling the night’s icy chill biting through his jeans. He cursed himself for forgetting his gloves and stuck his hands deep into his pockets. A loose thread kept getting stuck under his fingernail and he pulled at it with a scowl. His shoulders were hunched and he doubted the wisdom of stomping through the night instead of reading some books in his light-filled heated room.

It was pitch-dark in the park, streetlights and traffic blocked by large trees and bushes. His imagination conjured up ominous noises and movement in the blackness that wasn’t there. A cold breeze blowing down his neck – because he was too stupid to remember a scarf as well as his gloves – added to his growing unease.

Just as he decided to screw his dignity and break into a jog, the night became less impenetrable. Minute by minute, the pale light grew until the lifting fog revealed rocks and trees instead of distorted and hunched over trolls. By the time he left the park and re-entered college grounds, the sun was climbing over the city’s high rises. As he stared, the light suddenly exploded above the last edge of building and blinded him with its intensity.

He blinked his eyes closed and smiled as the light broke through the night’s chill and warmed his skin. As long as the sun rose every morning, everybody living under it would get their do-over, John always said. Until they didn’t, a dark voice inside of Honi whispered. He shook his head at himself. Damn, he was negative this morning. John would kick him with that attitude. The thought made him smile. It had been a long time since John could best him physically. Not that that stopped him verbally abusing him if he felt like it.

Now he was chuckling to himself like a weirdo. Maybe he could call the shaman before class. John always rose early. Checking his phone, Honi blinked. Damn, he needed to get back, grab a bite to eat and get his books ready for class. He had lost track of time while talking to himself. A few minutes later, he was leaving the dorm when his cell phone rang. A quick glance confirmed that John had beaten him to it.

“What’s up?” Honi asked casually as he crossed the square between the dorm buildings.

“Honi, are you okay?” The young man frowned.

“Yes?” he slowly replied, waiting for further explanation. John was silent for a moment.

“Something’s happening in the spirit world. The spirits are agitated and some of the younger kids have had really bad dreams…” Again he hesitated. Honi frowned. It was rare that the shaman was at a loss for words and he seemed even more intense than usual.

“I had some worrying visions myself last night. The spirit world is restless,” John finally continued.

Honi was thinking for a moment. Then he said, “I went spirit-walking last night. It didn’t go well.”

His mentor stayed silent, waiting for the young man to continue. Honi imagined John sitting in his kitchen with the old-fashioned pea-green phone connected to the wall with the spiral cord that always entangled itself. His wife Judy had threatened to cut the damn thing with her kitchen scissors if John didn’t upgrade it. Such a rush of bitter-sweet homesickness hit Honi that he needed to close his eyes for a moment and compose himself.

“I was there as the wolf.” No need to clarify where “there” was. “This girl I told you about? Adi? She was there too. We…,” again he hesitated, “we played. It was peaceful and she wasn’t afraid of me.”

Honi swallowed hard as the memories rose up. “I don’t know what changed but suddenly… Suddenly we were attacked… She was attacked by these things, they looked like birds…”.

Honi’s voice shook as he recalled the shock he felt when he saw the misshapen creature holding Adi’s eyeball in its beak. Even though he knew it wasn’t real, her scream had torn through him and even now, he felt like throwing up. He continued, his words tumbling over each other, “They attacked her and hurt her badly. They blinded her and I tried to help her and I jumped and fought but I had to run! There were too many…,” his voice trailed off again, helplessly.

John was still quiet on the line. Honi waited, then whispered: “John? You still there?” The shaman grunted, then Honi heard a deep inhale. “Yes. I get a feeling that this isn’t good. Something about this girl is provoking the spirit world, and that can’t be good for any of us. I’ve only ever heard of one case like this and it didn’t end well.” Again he stopped and Honi could hear his loud breathing through the phone line.

Then he continued in his slow, measured way, “Many years ago, there was a young man over in Custer County, Weatherford, if I remember correctly. He had terrible nightmares. Every night he was screaming himself awake. Then one day he disappeared and was found dead in the hills. The coroner declared it death through exposure. There wasn’t much left of him. Coyotes had seen to that.

“But just before he disappeared, he started talking about seeing all kinds of animals following him, and that they were hunting him, even into his dreams. Nobody took it seriously. His friends thought he was trying to draw attention after his girlfriend ran out on him.”

Another long moment of silence. “His father asked me to look at the body and I could feel that something wasn’t right. There were wounds on the poor kid that didn’t look like coyote bites. You know, he looked like he had been attacked by lots of different animals, birds, coyotes, snakes.”

Honi held the phone tighter to his ear. “So what, you think this’ll happen to Adi?”

“I don’t know. I wasn’t around to talk to the boy then. When I saw his body, it was too late. But I have a feeling that your friend might be in danger. Hang on a second.” John put his receiver down and Honi could hear him talk to somebody. After a moment, he was back on the line:

“I’m really sorry. I’d like to come down and speak to her myself. Unfortunately I’m leaving for South Dakota tomorrow and won’t be back for a week. You need to talk to her, Honi.”

“Talk about what exactly?”

“About what she sees, whether she has nightmares. Find out if she has the gift and tell me.”

“I don’t know, I don’t know her that well…,” Honi trailed off.

“Try. It might not just be her in danger.” And with these cryptic words, the shaman hung up.     

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 10 

Link to Chapter 12 

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 10

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

spirit-hunger

Chapter 10 

Honi often woke up from his spirit travels slightly disoriented. While his body slept, his spirit was busy navigating an alternative reality. He was used to feeling tired and not very well rested after those nights. This morning was no exception. He opened his eyes and stared at his dorm room ceiling. He had spent a couple of hours when he moved in and stuck night sky constellations on the white painted plaster. The eerily glowing sticky stars were a strange comfort to him and helped him remember where he was.

This journey had been particularly weird. Honi was used to strange visions and John had told him in the past that the spirit world would never expose him to more than he could handle. This time though he felt like he was pushed a little far. Vague memories made him shudder. He tried hard to recall what exactly made him feel so uneasy.

There was a girl. His brows drew together in concentration. Not just any girl, Adi with her hair down and looking serene and happy. Ho’neo had merged with him for this experience. He remembered a strong feeling of belonging and an urge to protect. Honi smiled at the memory of her fingers caressing his fur, relaxing him. There was nothing sexual about touch and it had felt so nice, so peaceful. Her little body, even smaller when he was in his wolf form, curled up against him. Her warmth against his flank, an overpowering instinct to protect, to love.

And yet there was still this unease, this dread. It made him itchy. Honi closed his eyes and did an internal check on his body. This was a basic meditative technique that had served him well ever since he was a young boy on his first spirit quest. He relaxed each body part in turn, feet, thighs, hips, belly, chest, arm, hands, and finally his face and head. The familiar routine calmed him and allowed him to try to assess what else he had experienced in his journey.

There was something else, something his mind wasn’t allowing yet to rise to the surface. Honi frowned and tried harder. Little by little, the calmness drained from him again and was replaced with fear. A threat was coming.

Honi’s teeth ground together and he willed himself to relax his jaw muscles. The dream images strengthened and Honi’s eyes flew open. He moaned a little with what he saw in his mind. Adi had been under attack and he had tried so hard to defend her. There had been too many flying shapes. His wolf eyes hadn’t allowed him to recognize the animals but they were evil and their intent murderous.

He threw his arm up over his eyes as if to wipe the images off his brain. Those bird-like creatures had hurt the girl, had plucked both her eyes out and the wolf could do nothing but watch and suffer with her. Adi’s screams echoed in his mind and Honi rolled himself into a ball, whimpering as if he still were the wolf. He nearly threw up, swallowing convulsively to keep the bile down. Adi wasn’t really hurt, he kept chanting over and over in his mind. It had felt real though and suddenly he was overcome with a protective rage that slammed into him like a fist to the stomach.

He sat up in his bed and shook his head, trying to clear it some more. He needed to talk to Adi. Ho’neo had allowed him to experience these images during his spirit journey. There was a reason why he had witnessed the attack on her. That together with her uncanny ability, the gift she shouldn’t have, made him fear for her safety. He quickly splashed water into his face and cursed his long hair. As much as he loved the effect it had on girls and didn’t mind the extra care he had to take with it, today he really just wanted to finger-brush it and get out.

Then he caught a glimpse of his face, the wild eyes and near manic expression. It brought him to a dead stop. He couldn’t go and meet Adi like this. Plus it was way too early. He needed to wait at least another couple of hours before he could try to barge into her dorm. He knew that they had another class together first thing so maybe he could catch her outside the classroom before she went in.

He took his time with the rest of his morning preparation, brushing his teeth and throwing on a white t-shirt. He would have loved to wear something nicer but he was completely out of clean clothes and this was the last shirt that didn’t smell like he’d worked out in it. So what, he wasn’t trying to impress her, right? Honi scoffed at the thought. Adi wasn’t really his type at all, too small, too skinny, too pale. The reason why he wanted to rush to her side was because she needed help.

And yet – his wolf had felt attraction to her. Honi knew not to ignore his spirit animal’s intuition. Ho’neo had felt safe with Adi. Honi shook his head. He didn’t want to examine this thought any closer. He quickly scanned the room for the wolf but he was wherever spirit animals went to when they didn’t want to hang. Honi scoffed. Trust the wolf to get lost when Honi needed a distraction. He was too wired to stay in his room, yet it was too early – a quick glance at his alarm clock made him roll his eyes – to talk to Adi.

So he walked. Campus security were used to him stretching his legs at weird times of the night. When he first got here, he was stopped a few times but pretty soon everybody got used to him walking around the large green space between the dorm buildings or even the park not far away. The place was so different at night. The daily chatter and clamor of students was replaced by different sounds, the barking of foxes, the melodic rasp of cicadas later in the year. Sometimes he felt like he was the only person alive on the planet. Tonight though, he wasn’t alone.

In fact, there were quite a few kids. Some swaying suspiciously after a late party, some working late shifts and getting home for a few hours sleep before late morning lecture. And every single one had a spirit animal on their shoulder or walking with them. No amount of squinting or concentrating made them disappear. Honi hadn’t experienced such a lack of control over his ability since he was a kid. Another question that needed to be answered. Right after why Adi appeared in his dreams.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 9 

Link to Chapter 11

Read FREE urban fantasy – Spirit Hunger – Chapter 9

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Chapter 9 

Tall grass blades rustled in the wind. A blue sky stretched over miles and miles of rolling hills, mirroring the color if not the texture of wind-driven ocean waves. Adi stood still on the highest point, enjoying the soft warm caress of the breeze on her skin. Her hair fell freely around her shoulders and even though her feet were bare, the grass did not hurt them. That alone made her realize that this couldn’t be reality. It felt so peaceful, so soothing, just standing here, looking around her. The sun was bright but didn’t burn or glare, the wind was gentle and rustled with hypnotic rhythm through the prairie grass.

When the rustling increased behind her, she turned around dreamily, no rush, no fear. The grass parted and she found herself face to face with the most beautiful animal she had ever seen. She took in the wolf’s sapphire eyes, the white teeth in his parted mouth, his over-sized puppy paws, too large for his body. She didn’t feel afraid. The animal took a step towards her, his tail wagging like a dog. There was no threat in his movement, no growling. In fact his face looked like it was smiling at her.

Adi stretched out her hand and the wolf sniffed it in a dog-like fashion. She smiled and scratched behind his ears. The animal’s eyes closed contentedly and he laid before her feet to enjoy her caress better. Adi followed him down and curled next to his furry bulk. The wolf briefly licked her hand, then settled down for a nap. For a moment his scent seemed familiar to Adi. There was none of the faintly unpleasant odor she knew from large dogs. The wolf smelled of ozone and fir trees, pleasant, woodsy and calming. Adi smiled and relaxed further against the animal’s strong side.

She didn’t know how long they were pressed against it each other. After a while, she was a little bored and started shifting around. One of the animal’s eyes opened and conveyed how not impressed he was with her wiggling. Adi stilled for a moment, but then on a whim poked the wolf in his side. With a surprised ‘whoof’, the wolf rolled to his front and sprang up. His head tilted he seemed to consider her for a moment, then without further warning licked her face.

“Ewww,” she giggled and wiped his slobber off her skin. When the wolf tried again, she made a run for it. Vaguely she remembered hearing that one should never run from a wild animal. Surely that didn’t apply to a dream though? She made it a couple of steps when she saw the black coat of her new friend out of the corner of her eyes. When she turned her head, his face looked so funny with his lolling tongue, that she laughed out loud and put on a burst of speed.

She gained a little bit of distance before he was huffing behind her, the noise getting louder and louder. Before she could brace herself, a huge weight hit her back and she was taken down. The wolf wrapped himself around her and they rolled together before Adi ended up on top of the animal, laughing helplessly. Briefly it occurred to her that if this were reality, she’d be dead, but in her dream, there was no danger, only safety with her furry friend. His tongue licked her face again and she warded off his attacks with both arms, giggling so hard that her face hurt.

For a while, both beast and human rested in each other’s arms – or paws. Adi’s face was only inches away from what in nature would be a fierce predator, her natural enemy that could rip her throat out with one clench of his jaws. His eyes were kind though and when Adi looked closely into them, her own widened. She could see a person in there, like a photographic overlay, a transparent figure that reminded her of somebody. Somebody she liked. A lot. But she couldn’t focus enough and when her eyes blinked, all that was there was the wolf.

Suddenly his ears pricked up. Muscles and tendons tensed under her body and with a quick shuffle, the animal squirmed out from under her. Adi fell onto the ground with a huff. It didn’t hurt, it was still a dream after all, but something was wrong. A feeling of dread crept up on her and when she raised her head, she saw that bright blue sky had turned into a maelstrom of grey and black clouds. That couldn’t be good.

Wake up, wake up, wake up! Adi always managed to wake herself up when dreams turned bad before. When she was a kid, she could even continue where she left off if she got woken out of a good dream. Why didn’t it work now? Her furry companion reacted to the threat as well. His furry butt turned towards her, the wolf stood in front of her, neck hair on edge, both front legs stiff and anchored to the ground as if he were trying to ward off an attack. What could possible freak out a huge powerful predator? Adi looked in the direction the wolf was facing but couldn’t see anything but swaying grass.

Then beating wings, loud as bull whips, sounded right above her. Adi’s head snapped up, just in time to see a black shape hurdle past her field of vision. Adi gasped and twisted her body out of the way but couldn’t avoid the sharp beak tearing a hole into her sleeve. What the hell was that? Before she could react, she felt her skin tear when another bird-like creature attacked. Adi screamed when the pain burned through her like a knife cut. There was no time to check her injury with more and more attacks happening quickly.

Adi felt her hair being torn off her scalp and when she touched her head, her hand came back covered in blood. She heard her friend growl and snarl as he jumped as high as he could to defend her. There were just too many sharp claws and beaks. Adi cowered on the ground and covered her head with her hands that were torn mercilessly. A sharp yelp made her look up and she saw the wolf being beaten back by a cloud of creatures. They weren’t birds exactly, more like caricatures of what some mad artist might conjure up.

Then an unbearable pain tore through her left eye. Her remaining eye stared in disbelief as a creature retreated triumphantly, clutching an eyeball with trailing nerves and muscles in its beak. Adi’s mind wailed in horror. This couldn’t happen to her, why her, never her! And just before her second eye was torn from her skull, her friend and protector turned tail and abandoned her.

Adi shot up straight in bed, her breath whistling through her heaving chest. Her exhales sounded like muffled screams to her and it took a her a moment to realize that she wasn’t blinded. There were no birds or wolves or any other weird creatures in her bedroom. Adi grabbed for her phone and turned on the flashlight app. She sprinted towards the switch and bathed the entire room in bright light. Her hands were shaking and she poured herself a glass of water in order to calm down a little. The pain and terror still echoed in her mind. There was no way she would go back to sleep in the dark. Or at all. Ever.

Adi slowly walked towards her bed. The shadow under her bed had different shades and textures. It moved when her toe pushed against a sweater sticking out from the darkness. She gulped and her mind went into overdrive. What if there was something under the bed? What if it grabbed her ankles just as she got in? With that comforting thought, Adi took a giant leap from standing and landed in the middle of her mattress. Her heart was racing. She pulled the cover around her heck, barely resisting the impulse to hide underneath completely. Nope, the light stayed on. Definitely.

While her heart took a little while to slow down, Adi tried to focus on something positive. Her thoughts landed on the irritating but seriously attractive boy Honi. What an odd name, she thought for a moment before she drily acceded that her name wasn’t exactly the most usual either. Adalwolfa. Nobel Wolf. Who would curse their daughter with a name straight of a Prince Valiant novel, seriously?

Thinking of wolf, what about that wolf in her dream? Adi sighed tiredly. Before her dream had turned to all hell, she had felt so safe with the large animal, so cared for, so … loved? Whatever. With a snort, Adi turned over and as the bad dream drifted away like cobwebs, she tried to catch another few hours sleep before her alarm went off in the morning.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 8 

Link to Chapter 10 

Tell Me It’s Real by TJ Klune

Tell Me It’s Real by TJ Klune

My rating: 5 out of 5

tell-me-its-realThe Story

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Paul Auster doesn’t. Paul doesn’t believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother’s homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.

Enter Vince Taylor.

Vince is everything Paul isn’t: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.

But when Paul hits Vince with his car-in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it’d-only-be-manslaughter kind of way-he’s forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself-and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince’s family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he’s perfect the way he is.

My take on it

I LOVED THIS BOOK! The story is about Paul, a really smart (and smart-assed) guy who is far from perfect. He’s a little chubby and hugely self-conscious because of it. He’s clumsy, has verbal diarrhoea and can’t believe that there’s anybody out there for him. The story is told from 1st person POV and I’m really impressed how well the author used this difficult perspective. It allows a deep emotional insight into Paul’s psyche, his bitchy and often hilarious internal monologue.

His best friend is a drag queen with awesome attitude. In fact, all the characters are amazingly well drawn and relatable. My favourite is Johnny Depp, the homophobic parrot:

“When I went over to her house to meet him for the first time, the first thing Johny Depp did was squawk at me, “Pray the gay away!” while my grandma giggled from behind his cage.”

Paul is such a lovable weirdo. He has a dog named Wheels, a menstruating ghost in his house, and the stuff he comes out with is just incredible. When you read the book, try to imagine it as a movie and you’ll howl laughing at some of the scenes.

Paul meets the incredibly gorgeous Vince who isn’t the brightest but equally loveable. He refuses to believe that Vince might be into him, because, well, Vince is ripped and beautiful and Paul, isn’t.

I don’t want to give more away because the book is just that good.

The only criticism I have (and it’s not even a criticism per se, just my perception) is that the author went out of his way to lighten a very emotional situation towards the end involving the whole family. I would have preferred a bit more suffering but that’s just my inner sadist coming out.

Paul and Vince will stay with me, together with their whole cast of miscreants. I don’t know if T. J. Klune has written any follow-ons to their story but I’d love to read it! I know that there’s a book 2, covering Sandy and Darren so I’ll be off to read that one next! My life rocks for having discovered these books 🙂

What do you think? Did you enjoy it or were the characters too flaming for you? Let me know below!

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How I Overcame Writer’s Block

How I overcame Writer’s Block

dawn-190055_640So for the last two days I haven’t been able to write. I’m literally 90% done with my novel. In theory, I should be flying through the final ‘boss battle’ and head for the home straight.

In practice I was terrified of that particular scene. I had no idea where to go. No idea how to get my characters through it. Not even from whose perspective I would tell the story.

So my dilemma wasn’t the kind of writer’s block, “oh no, a white piece of paper, what could I possible put on it…” It was more like, “oh no, what if the scene is boring? Or over the top? Or no one likes it?”

Why I suggest an outline

This has happened a few times throughout my journey to write the first draft. And each time it cost me WEEKS to get back to my story. What saved me was the fact that I had taken the time to write an outline.

I know this doesn’t work for everybody but if you get times where you just need to step back from your manuscript, I highly recommend you at least give it a try. This is what worked for me because I’m a detailed planner. It would equally work for somebody who doesn’t like planning but has a general idea where you’d like to end up!

I created a very detailed outline with each individual scene planned. That doesn’t mean that throughout the writing process, I haven’t changed it up. What it does mean is that even after taking a lengthy break, I can sit down with my document and have a pretty clear idea what should come next.

As I explained in my article on Dragon Dictation, it helps me to think about the scene for five minutes before I write. Maybe even talk aloud to myself like a crazy lady, just like I would tell a friend about a movie I watched and what happened next.

If you’re a VISUAL person, you got it easy!

I have no idea if this works for everybody. But I’d guess that if you’re a creative person, you’re familiar with the idea of day-dreaming. Have you ever imagined what it would feel like to win the lottery, call your boss and hand in your notice? Or how your spouse would react when you kiss them and say, “By the way, honey, I’ve solved our mortgage problems and ordered that Ferrari you’ve always wanted. No, I’m not crazy, I’ve won $10,000,000 in the lottery! No, I’m serious!”

Doesn’t that feel awesome? Can’t you imagine how the scene would be full of emotion, happiness, maybe a little fear about how your life would change? That’s the technique I use for writing a scene in my book.

I sit down, put on some headphones with binaural sounds, such as Inspire from iDoser – it costs $3 to download but I was happy to pay that. I find it works really well for me and I can use it as a timed sprint of 30 minutes exactly.

Then I visualize my scene. This has the double effect that it allows me to solidify my characters in my mind. I always cast my hero and heroine and that makes it a lot easier to do the next step.

I literally describe the scene that’s playing in my mind like a movie. I watch the two characters move, gesture, smile, snark, fight, get hurt, care for each other. Then I put fingers to keys and type like the devil, writing what’s already there in my head.

I usually end up with 600-900 words during a 30 minutes session. Word count isn’t as important as breaking through the barrier between my imagination and the page. This visualization technique allows me to do that and produce energetic, colorful scenes.

Hope this helps you guys! Let me know if you tried this and whether you found it as great as I do 🙂