The Power of Accountability

It’s Easy to Write a Book. Right? Right?

AcountabilityBack in Spring 2015, when the self-publishing phenomenon gathered momentum, I decided to write a book. I had done some research and had a good idea that I wanted to write something romantic with magical elements strewn in.

I grew up in Germany, and from early on, I was fascinated by fairy tales my grandmother used to tell me. Later, my parents encouraged my reading passion, and for Christmas, I received beautiful Reader’s Digest hardcover editions of 1001 Nights, Tales of the Caravan Serail, stories by Hans Christian Anderson, Bechstein, Grimm brothers, and collections of world legends. I devoured them all.

I knew my material. Couldn’t be too hard, then, to sit down and pen a love story set against the background of a magical parallel world, could it? I wrote 1500 words, submitted them to my local Writers Group, and got destroyed.

Writing a Book is Harder Than I Thought

“This reads like fan-fiction,” was one of the kinder comments. What a wakeup call! Apparently, the style of writing I was used to didn’t translate well for modern readers.

I dragged my sorry butt home and sulked. I nearly gave up the idea of writing altogether. Then I re-read my story a few weeks later, and some of it was really good. And some… just wasn’t.

Fast-forward a few more weeks. I listened to podcasts, bought some beginner writers’ courses online, and slowly began to understand why my first attempt had been so bad.

Ever heard of “Show, don’t Tell”? Yeah, I had told my story. When my heroine was sad, I’d written, “She was so sad that she cried.” Seriously.

Over the course of the next year, I learned how to outline. How to weave story strands. How to build a story arc with conflict and foreshadowing. How to write settings. How to avoid purple prose—the kind of dramatic, over-emotional writing that was popular in the nineteenth century. Boy, was there a lot to learn!

And once I’d figured out how to improve my actual writing, I realized that I had to learn about marketing and publishing as well.

By the time I was ready to return to my book, it was nearly two years later.

Writing That Book Should be Child’s Play By Now

The one thing I had still not mastered was consistency. I’d go WEEKS without putting down a single word. Frustrating, to say the least! I had a really cool concept, an outline, two memorable main characters, the title for the first, and ideas for two more books.

Every morning I got up, had a cup of tea and sat down to write. Then I’d remember I needed to fold the laundry. And do the dishes. And get lunch ready. Steven Pressfield writes about this phenomenon in his inspiring book The War of Art:

“Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is. (…) Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard or smelled. But it can be felt. It is experienced as a force field emanating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its intention is to shove the creator away, distract him, sap his energy, incapacitate him. (…) If Resistance wins, the work doesn’t get written.”

And yet, at this very moment, I’ve written and published two novels and four short stories (in two very different genres). I’m writing a novella, have outlined the third novel in the Spirit Walker series, and I’ve started writing a prequel in the same series. I have three books planned in a brand-new series, and ideas for many more in my ideas folder.

How Did I Finally Write Two Books (And More)?

Last year, I came across a series of writing exercises which led me to The Write Practice website.

The site owner Joe Bunting runs several programs aimed at motivating and teaching writers. One particularly cool one is The 100 Day Book Program.

Over the period of three-and-a-half months, writers must post a chapter each week. If they miss the deadline three times, they forfeit $100 which will be paid to the IRS. If they succeed, the money is returned to them. There is a fee involved which covers daily lessons, videos, mentors checking in with the writers.

Once the chapter is uploaded, the writer receives feedback from other participants, and has to provide feedback themselves to three authors. Kinda like a benevolent pyramid scheme!

The feedback was great and highly appreciated, but what made the program work for me was the accountability element. There were quite a few Thursday nights where I worked until late into the night to get my chapter done and uploaded.

The process didn’t run smoothly for me, but it got me 95% there after 100 days. I needed an extra week with my first book and an extra three weeks with my second. Most importantly though, I GOT THEM DONE! Two months later, they were edited and published as Spirit Hunger and Spirit Elfen.

Summary

For some reason, we writers are a fickle bunch. We talk ourselves out of writing every day, even though it’s our favorite thing to do in the world (mostly)!

Every time you start a new endeavor, be it getting fit, or completing a project, the first bit of advice you get is, “Find an accountability partner!”

I used to scoff at the idea. Until I tried it with writing. Knowing that there were people out there, waiting to hear how the story progressed, was a very powerful motivator. As powerful as potentially losing money to the IRS. Ugh.

The secret to writing, publishing, and becoming successful as a writer, is consistency. Find a mechanism to make yourself more consistent. You could do worse than checking out The Write Practice.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Have you suffered from Resistance and its little brother Procrastination? How did you get over it?

Introducing Unapologetic GAY Romance Under New Pen Name

Unapologetic Gay Romance because Love Needs No Excuses

Our world generally sucks. Children die from poison-gas in Syria, drown in the ocean while trying to get away from slaughter, and are abused again and again (Hungary, anybody?) because they dare to want to survive. And that’s just in the so-called 3rd world countries.

In our oh-so-civilized nations, street kids get hooked on drugs, work as prostitutes, are abandoned by their parents, the state, most adults they ever come in touch with.

Looking at all the shit in the news every day, forgive me if I try to find a glimmer of hope amongst the suffering. And if people find and cling onto each other, for comfort, support, and yes, love, I want to cherish that. It’s a fricking miracle it happens at all!

So that’s why my motto is Unapologetic Romances Because Love Needs No Excuses

Let Me Take This a Little Further

Love is love. What that means is that as long as people love each other, I don’t give a toss whether they’re attracted to male, female, queer, trans, whatever.

After humming and hawing for months, I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and launch my new website dedicated to m/m romance writing.

In order to avoid confusiong my readers—although I’d be more than happy to take anybody along on this journey—, I’ll publish my gay romance novels under the pen name EJ Smyth

If You Haven’t Read in the Gay Romance Genre Yet, Here’s Your Chance

The first time I read a gay romance novel, I was blown away. Apart from the hotness factor (and yes, if you don’t like steamy, this may not be the genre for you!), the writing was incredible. Fast-paced, awesome characterization, fascinating dynamics between the main characters.

If you’re interested, here’s a list of a couple of writers I’d highly recommend. One thing you’ll find is that gay romance books cost more than regular romance books. However, most of them are also in Kindle Unlimited, so it’s not all bad!

N.R. Walker

One of my favorite writers in the genre. She’s Australian and has written a series of books, set in the outback. It’s a fish-out-of-water romance, both from the Aussie farmer’s and American student’s point-of-view. Just adorable!

Red Dirt Heart

 

 

Cronin’s Key

N.R. Walker is a hugely prolific writer. I honestly can’t keep up with her publishing speed. If your thing is more Urban Fantasy Romance, check out Cronin’s Key. It has just been released as an audiobook with one of my favorite voice-actors Joel Froom. Well worth a listen!

 

And just to give you a flavor of what else she writes, here is a story about an overweight guy with massive self-esteem problems whose personal trainer helps him fall in love with himself. And with the trainer. You know what I mean 😀 Anyway, the story is ADORABLE!

The Weight of It All

 

Madeleine Urban

She wrote a series of thrillers that revived a genre that I’d given up on reading because it’d become so predictable.

It’s a classic enemy-to-friends-to-lovers story. The characters are stubborn assholes, two FBI agents that hate each others’ gut. So much sass, humor, drama, angst, cuteness—I couldn’t stop reading.

Cut & Run

I wrote a review for this book and the series which you can read here.

 

Josh Lanyon

An author who has defined the genre. Incredibly prolific albeit not always consistent. This series hits it out of the park, though.

Adrien English, an unassuming bookstore owner, is accused of murder and has to clear his name. His nemesis is a homophobic detective who’s convinced Adrien is guilty. Adrien suffers from an acquired heart condition, but is certainly no swooning maiden to be rescued. Far from it! Very funny, touching, reminiscent of classic British detective stories of the 1940s.

Fatal Shadows

Here is the review for the book as well!

JL Merrow

Staying with the British theme, JL Merrow’s books are set in the UK. Her dialogue is pure Brit, and her characters are guys I recognize from my time in London. The series I enjoyed most is unfortunately on hold until 2018, along with Camwolf about a reluctant werewolf in Cambridge.

 

 

There are other books like the Shamwell Tales (think Midsumer Murders) because JL Merrow is another prolific writer with a huge back catalogue.

Plumber’s Mate Series

 

 

Amy Lane

The last author I’d like to recommend writes Magical Realism. Her Candy Man series may not be hard-hitting social criticism but it’s cute, fluffy, humorous and exciting. Pure relaxation.

Candy Man

 

 

And if you want to read funny, here is Shiny! A story about a very, very clumsy guy who needs rescuing from himself. Hilarious!

Shiny!

 

 

 

I hope you like my short list. I’d compiled it for a German friend of mine who had only just started reading in the genre and needed help. There’s a lot more books out there!

What do you think, have you read any of them? Would you recommend others?

And don’t forget to pop over to my new site to pick up a free, very sexy short story!

Romantic Urban Fantasy–Wanna See as Graphic Novel?

Spirit Hunger Graphic Novel—One Day!

\"romantic

Now that my novel is published and has gathered some really nice reviews on Amazon, I’m looking into the future. WAY, WAY into the future. Like, let’s say, 5 years?

As you must be aware by now, I’ve enjoyed the writing process so immensely that I’ve fallen in love with my characters. Apparently, that happens often with writers…

Anyways, because I love Adi and Honi so much, I want to see them in another medium than print. So I’ve dusted off my digital drawing board, signed up with PencilKings, and I’m re-learning how to draw.

What’s Involved?

Lots of time, I’m afraid. The timeline for my romantic urban fantasy is literally five years because apart from perfecting drawing techniques and software, so much goes into making a graphic novel.

Thankfully, the heaviest lifting is already done because I created a detailed outline for romantic urban fantasy novel, outlining 70 scenes. So I know which scenes are pivotal and deserve a double-spread, for example.

Here is an example of the first couple of scenes:

\"romantic

Timeplan for my Romantic Urban Fantasy Graphic Novel

  • Year 1-3: Learn how to draw both realistically, and how to reduce the sketches to a graphic style, yet to be determined;
  • Year 4: Creating thumbnail layouts;
  • Year 5: Pull it all together into an actual graphic novel

So far, the experience has been awesome. I took a drawing class here in Frankfurt where I’m learning the basics. The next one will start next month, and I can’t wait!

The owl is something we did in 90 minutes in order to learn to see detail in a photograph. I love creating sketches and drawings in pencil where I only need to worry about tone rather than color…

First Character Sketches

We were given a challenge this month of April to create a baseline character, then create different expressions. At the beginning of the post, I\’ve given you my hero Honi with a serious face. Here he is with angry and confused expressions. Let me know what you think!

\"romantic \"romantic

Can’t wait to show you guys more of the Spirit Walker world. I’ll keep you informed, and if you want to receive more info, you can subscribe to my newsletter and get the prequel Spirit Quest as well.

Talk to you soon!

P.S. Please note that all artwork is protected under the license below. That means you can\’t use it for your own projects commercially, but you can share it and modify it! In fact, fan art is seriously welcome!

\"Creative
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Spirit Hunger is now available on all platforms!

Spirit Hunger is now available on all platforms (except for Kobo because I lost my login—don’t ask)!

\"\"OMG, I’m so excited! After what felt like an eternity—and was in fact nearly two years—I finished the novel. To be fair, I didn’t WRITE it for two years but spent a lot of time building a mailing list and establishing a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest following. Really bloody hard work!

It has paid off though. I’m really proud of this book, an Urban Fantasy Romance featuring my intrepid heroes Adi Gutseel and Honi Clearsight Fisher. They’ve taken up residence in my heart and house, as my whole family can confirm. There’s paperwork, planning lists, books, and other writing paraphernalia everywhere.

Please Give me Love!

I\’m so happy that readers like the book enough to have already left 19 reviews with an average of 4.8 stars.

The way Amazon works, especially for a new writer, is that my book won\’t be visible unless I get lots of reviews.

Big request to you all: if you downloaded the book and you like it, would you please, pretty please, leave a review for it? Even if it\’s just a few lines? It would make a huge difference to rankings and therefore sales in the future. Thanks!

Here\’s the direct link to the review page

Synopsis

If you’d like to check it out, here’s a synopsis and links to various platforms:

“Adi is an ordinary student with an extraordinary talent. All around her, she sees wild animals—monkeys on people\’s shoulders, tigers walking by their sides. When her visions turn into terrifying nightmares, Adi fears for her sanity.

Honi is a young Mekui’te Native American, studying law to help his people. He has long ago come to terms with his gift. When he meets Adi, he’s drawn to her against his will. He knows his purpose in life and has no time for a skinny German girl with bad dress sense. But when he witnesses the damage her visions cause, he knows that without his help, she won\’t survive the next few weeks.

Can the two head-strong individuals stop fighting long enough to save each other? Or will Honi suffer the same fate Adi is headed for?”

Amazon
ITunes
Nook

Plans for the Future

I’m already working on the second volume, Spirit Elfen. Keep your eyes peeled from end of May. Volume three should be done by end of the year, so it’s all go go go!

Plus, because the characters are so vivid and gorgeous, I’ve decided I’ll bring them to life through a graphic novel. Problem is, I haven’t done any drawings or illustrations for many years. So I’ve registered with PencilKings and hopefully, in a few years or so, I’ll have gained enough skill to make it happen.

I’m only half-joking—there’s a lot to doing a project like that. I should be able to create some lovely character sketches pretty soon though. Learn to walk before you run, and all that 🙂

Can’t wait to show you guys more of the Spirit Walker world. I’ll keep you informed, and if you want to receive more info, you can subscribe to my newsletter and get the prequel Spirit Quest as well.

Talk to you soon!

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 17

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 17

Honi had no classes after lunch. It left him plenty of time to mull over what had happened. He took a little stroll to his favorite place on campus, a small pond providing a home to a family of ducks. As he sat by the edge of the water, the occasional rumble of delivery trucks and the laughter and shouting of kids seemed very far away.

A mother duck with six yellow ducklings in tow gave him the stink-eye. When he didn’t move, she quacked indignantly and led her family around him towards the water. He watched in amusement as the little balls of fluff struggled to keep up with their brown-feathered leader.

Eventually they floated off, the mother gliding elegantly ahead, the babies floundering after her. The water of the pond soon was perfectly calm again and Honi’s mind settled as he stared at the dark surface. He moved into a meditative pose and breathed slowly in and out.

Ring! Ring! Honi jumped. For the love of… He’d picked a shrill, old-fashioned 1940’s ringtone but he’d forgotten to set his phone to silent on campus. He pulled his phone impatiently from his back pocket, grumbling under his breath. After snapping an impatient ‘hello’, he quickly added a somewhat contrite, “oh hey John, what’s up?”

  “Hi Honi, am I catching you at a bad time?” Honi could hear the amusement in his mentor’s voice.

“No, not really,” he sighed. Honi knew that John wasn’t calling to exchange pleasantries, so he waited for the older man to continue.

“So I talked to Dan Whitefir from the Southern Mekui’te reservation. His grandfather died back in the 60s, but Dan remembers some of the stories he told him when he was young.”

John’s voice was far more serious now and Honi listened intently.

“Dan told me what he knew about spirit animals. He confirmed what I already suspected. There’s a fine balance between this world and the spirit world. If that balance is destroyed, both worlds are in danger.” John stopped for a moment and Honi could hear him drink something.

“Sorry, I had a long talk with Dan, my throat is dry,” John explained.

“Sure, no problem. So what’s this got to do with Adi?”

John hesitated again. When he continued, he did it slowly, like he was talking to a frightened animal. “Honi. Are you… Do you like this girl?”

Now it was Honi’s turn to hesitate. He knew he was attracted to Adi. There was something about her, underneath her stubbornness and aggression. Something that drew him, that made him smile when he thought of her. Even now, talking to his mentor, he could feel his mouth curl up. The answer was easy.

“Yes. I like her. She’s special and I’d really like to get to know her better,” he said confidently.

John sighed again, an unhappy sound he couldn’t suppress. “Okay, let’s work with this. You might be able to save her if she returns your feelings.”

Honi blushed a little and quickly interrupted, “I’ve only spoken to her a few times. I have no idea how she feels about me and I’m not going to push her.”

“You may not have a choice. That boy who was killed? Remember I told you about him last time we talked?”

Honi nodded. After a second he realized that John couldn’t see him, so quickly added, “Yeah, I remember.”

“Dan’s grandfather told a story about the spirit animals growing angry if they were ignored by the few chosen who could see them. If that happened, they would eventually attack and… well, I think that’s what happened to the poor kid.”

Honi sniffed in disbelief. If that was true, how come this didn’t happen all the time? As if John could read his thoughts, he continued, “In the olden days, people believed more. Nowadays, with fewer and fewer people able to see them, the spirit animals are more vicious when they finally find somebody with the gift who denies it.”

Honi still listened intently. When John stayed silent for a moment, he asked, “So you believe Adi is one of the few, even though she isn’t Mekui’te? And because she doesn’t believe, the spirit animals are going to attack her eventually?”

They had certainly been acting very strangely over the last few days. Then another thought occurred to him. “John, I can’t tune them out anymore. I see them everywhere and no matter how much I try to control them, the dreams get worse.”

“Do you still dream of her?”

He admitted in a low voice, “A few times? Only the first one was a nightmare though, the others were… not?”

“Well, what were they about?”

Honi felt his ears go hot. How old was John anyways? Did he have to spell it out? When he didn’t say anything, the shaman eventually got it.

“Oh.” He laughed. “It’s like that, is it?”

Honi rolled his eyes. “Yeah, whatever.” He quickly changed the subject. “So what do you want me to do?”

John sounded serious again. “Befriend her. Stay close to her, she’ll need your help soon enough. Waiting for me to come back is only going to waste time you don’t have. And Honi…,” he sighed again, “don’t get too attached. It may already be too late.”

And with those comforting words the shaman hung up, leaving Honi staring at his phone. Images of bleeding eye sockets and a lifeless body swam through his mind for a second before he rubbed his forehead vigorously to get rid of them. He stood up resolutely, eager to find Adi and try yet again to convince her of something most people would consider fairytales and legends.

 

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 16 

And that’s it!

 Thanks for sticking with the story so far :)The good news is that you can download the entire book, properly formatted and edited free of charge. Pop your address in the box at the top of the page, and it’s yours.

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 16

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 16

Adi looked at him expectantly and Honi wasn’t quite sure how to start. Her outfit was drab, her hair parted in the the middle and tied into a messy ponytail. There was nothing special about her at first glance but the closer he looked at her, the more he noticed. The girl was truly beautiful. She obviously didn’t know this herself which added to her appeal. Her perfect lush lips, her cute nose, slightly turned-up at the end, her luminous honey brown eyes, now slightly narrowed in growing irritation, it all made her increasingly attractive.

“You’re quite done staring yet?” She lifted her eyebrow as she waited for his response. He liked this about her as well. She certainly wasn’t a pushover, maybe a little too aggressive at times, but always with an underlying vulnerability that made him feel like wanting to protect her.

Before she could say anything else, he put his cup down. “There are stories about people like us in our tradition,” he began slowly.

“People like us?” Adi interrupted.

“People who can see spirit animals. I’ve been able to see them since I was a little child. The shaman recognized my gift early on and trained me.”

“Why do you keep calling this a gift?” Adi looked a little upset. Honi’s heart went out to her. It must have been very hard for her to be able to see people’s souls but not understand what she was seeing. Once again, he silently thanked his family who took such great pains in educating him and showing him his path.

Then he looked back at Adi’s troubled face and tried to think how best to approach this. “It’s a gift because we are the intermediaries between the spirit world and the representations of the human spirit. Soul, essence, character, it all means the same. When we die, our spirit rises to another realm, the spirit world.”

“Yeah, I’m not really religious,” Adi interrupted.

Honi could see that he was losing her, so he continued quickly, “This has nothing to do with organized religion. These stories have been around for many many generations. And aren’t the animals you see around you every day enough proof that there is more to our world than people know? Do you think it’s a coincidence that all our mythology has animal representations of human characteristics?”

“What do you mean?” Adi leaned forward a little.

“Well, you know I’m Mekui’te. Our people have many stories that were passed down the years. For example, Wi’ite the great trickster was both a spider and a man. Wanna hear the story?”

Adi nodded, “Yes please, I really love fairy stories.”

Honi laughed. “I’ve never heard anybody refer to the great trove of Mekui’te legends as fairy stories! There are no princesses or Prince Charming and a lot of them are not exactly PG.”

Adi’s mouth twitched a little. “Really? That sounds interesting, please carry on.”

“Yeah, many legends deal with incest or girls marrying animals. When animals take on human shape or men can turn into coyotes, modern rules don’t apply.”

“True, Beauty and the Beast, Princess and the Frog, even Little Red Riding-hood are borderline.”

“I’ll tell you a quick legend of Wi’ite.” Honi’s voice dropped as he remembered when he first heard this tale. John had told the story to all the kids around the campfire. They had huddled together, staring into the orange heat of the flames. The crackling and whooshing of the leaping fire was a formidable barrier against the night noises and black shadows of giant firs encroaching on their little campsite.

Honi had felt safe in the arms of his father whose bulk was both protective and warm against his own scrawny 5-year-old body. When John began speaking in a hoarse deep murmur, every child’s eyes were wide and glued to the shaman’s silhouette next to the fire.

“A village owned two horses. Little Fox, Wi’ite’s enemy, was the Chief’s son-in-law. Wi’ite found out that Little Fox wanted to play a trick on Wi’ite and decided to punish him for it. He went out into the wilderness.

There he found one of the horses and he put it to sleep. After it was fast asleep, he found Old Mouse and he said to her, “here is a dead animal. Go to Little Fox and tell him, ‘My dear grandson, here is a dead animal. I couldn’t move it. Just near the village, that’s how far out it is. Pull it to one side, and we alone shall eat it,’ you may say to him.

“Mouse was very willing, so she ran back and spoke to Little Fox. But Wi’ite ran back and waited for them in the village.”

Honi paused. Adi was listening intently with a little smile on her face. Honi felt a flutter in his stomach. He really liked the way she focused on his face so intently. While he talked, he had forgotten where they were. The background noise had all but disappeared and it felt like there were only the two of them. Adi blinked and he hurriedly continued before the spell broke.

“Mouse tied together the tails of Little Fox and the horse. She tied them very tightly. Little Fox said, ‘I am strong. I will pull it.’ When he tried to pull it, he woke up the horse. When it saw an animal fastened to its tail, it became frightened. It ran away and dragged Little Fox like a branch to the village.

“Right away, Trickster shouted very loudly, ‘Look at Little Fox, the son-in-law, he is doing something crazy. Look at him!’ All of them ran out. There Little Fox was bouncing up and down, tied to the horse’s tail. Finally it went back to its owner and they untied Little Fox. His mouth just quivered as he sat there. He was very ashamed. He didn’t even go back to his own lodge. Now from there he went away somewhere and that was the last of him. He had a wife and many children, but he left them all there.”

Honi paused for effect, “since then he has never again been among the people. Anywhere they saw him, he would feel ashamed. If one is seen someplace, his mouth would twitch as he sits. For he is ashamed of this same thing, even to this day. That’s the story why foxes are so shy, to this very day,” he finished solemnly.

There was a moment of silence. He nervously looked at Adi. Was she bored? He had always liked the story but it was very simple and maybe Adi didn’t appreciate the old-fashioned feel of the tale. But then Adi’s eyes lit up.

“Wow, that’s a great story! You know, this really reminds me of the tales my grandmother in Germany read to me. Everybody only knows the disneyfied versions, like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, but there are so many more stories. And many of them feature animals with human characteristics like Oda and the Snake or the speaking horse head Falada!”

Honi sat up in surprise. It hadn’t occurred to him that European tradition might have anything in common with his own Mekui’te legends. But of course, at some stage Europeans had lived off the land not unlike the plains tribes. And if you went far enough back, research into human history showed that all of humanity derived from only 3000 individuals. So why wouldn’t the spirit world and its animals be a common phenomenon all over the world? Just because modern society didn’t believe in anything that couldn’t be measured and photographed?

“Would you tell me some day? I would love to hear those stories and compare them to my own tradition,” he asked.

Adi returned his smile. “Of course.” Then she frowned. “I still don’t understand what that has to do with my… my gift as you call it?”

Honi took another sip of his milky drink, then glared at his glass as he set it back down. Warm frappe, not his favorite thing. He considered his answer for another few seconds.

“My point in telling you all of this is that these stories have been around as long as people have. And there’s a reason for it. My ancestors, and yours as well, used to see spirit animals everywhere. For some reason the ability has declined and now there are very few who can see them.”

“But what’s the point?” Adi asked, not unreasonably.

“I’m not sure. Our shaman told us that losing the connection to the spirit world is a bad thing. They feed from the living and we feed from them. There should be an exchange between the spirit world and our world, and for generations, that exchange has become less and less. We just don’t know what the effect will be in the long run.”

Adi looked very skeptical. “And you really believe that?”

“I do. Have you not noticed that many of the animals are looking sick and act aggressively?”

“I wouldn’t know what’s normal.” Adi swallowed. “I saw them when I was a child. Then I got better and they disappeared. Now they’ve come back. I’m still not sure if you’re sharing my delusions or if you’re serious.”

Honi bent forward and took her hand. She was so fragile and her fingers felt like he could crush them if he tried. The wave of protectiveness towards her surprised him with its intensity. He swallowed and concentrated on her eyes.

“I’m not delusional. And neither are you. I don’t know what happened to you as a child but believe me, you weren’t crazy then and you aren’t crazy now. This is real. And if you want to, I’ll help you control the visions.”

Adi’s breathing had turned shallow and fast, and while Honi still watched her, he saw her emotions flit over her face until they settled on determined. She firmly pulled her hand out of his. Honi immediately missed the warmth and softness of her palm.

Adi got up quickly after glancing at her iphone screen. “Thanks for the tea. I had a great time but I’ve really gotta run. I’m late for class,” she quickly said. Her voice was firm and she had obviously come to a decision.

She grabbed her bag and before Honi could say anything else, he looked at her back halfway to the exit already. The mirror above the sofa where Adi had sat only a minute ago reflected his confusion back at him. That could have gone better. He was sure he had gotten through to her but at the last moment, she had withdrawn, just like last time. Something was preventing her from trusting him fully.

He pushed down hard at the little flutter of worry rising inside of him. She would be back, he was sure of it, and maybe she’d be more willing to listen to him then. He only hoped it wouldn’t be too late to help her. A whine and a quick wet swipe of Ho’neo’s tongue let him know that his wolf shared his concern.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 15 

Link to Chapter 17 

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 15

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 15

Adi didn’t want to let go of his large, warm hand but didn’t know how to hold it any longer without it becoming awkward. Needing her hand to open the door out of the building was a good excuse to let go. When she glanced over at him, he seemed disappointed for a split-second before his usual serene expression took over.

“I need a cup of tea. You?” she asked self-consciously.

Honi smiled weakly. “Yeah, lead the way.” They walked shoulder by shoulder the brief distance to the coffee shop. Their foot steps crunched in unison on the loose gravel and the occasional small rock got flung aside. The noises of spring were all around them. The conversational chatter of students hadn’t managed to scare away chipmunks and bluejays.

There was an odd tranquility over campus that belied Adi’s inner turmoil. She was grateful for the little breather it allowed her. The constant having to ignore what was plain for her to see was eating up her nervous energy. She was craving Honi’s state of mind, his calmness. He seemed incapable of being rattled and Adi was looking forward to learning how to achieve his zen. A feeling which lasted another ten minutes until Honi stumbled, dropping his books everywhere and hissing a curse in exasperation.

And there, for just a moment, Adi saw the wolf she had seen in her dream appear by his side. There was no doubt, Adi would have known the creature anywhere. The animal was massive. Walking next to the tall boy, its shoulder reached as high as Honi’s hips. The large paws gave away its youth but the sapphire blue eyes held a wisdom beyond its age. The vision only lasted for a second but the wolf looked straight at Adi and… smiled?

Adi returned the smile in reflex and before she could straighten her face, Honi said softly, “you see him?” For a moment Adi wanted to deny it, but then sighed and nodded. Holding her breath, she waited for the inevitable response, for the smirk, the pitying widening of his eyes. Instead Honi picked up his books, took her hand again and said, “You’re the only one who can, you know? Well, besides me, obviously.”

Adi was still slightly in shock when they arrived at the small two-story building with its red brick facade and green awning. The young man politely held the door for her and she slipped into the dark interior. The clattering background noise of coffee shops everywhere soothed her racing thoughts. Hushed murmuring, the sharp wet hiss of the cappuccino machine and the clinking of porcelain added to the soundscape. What a pity that she didn’t like coffee, she thought yet again. The smell, warm and deep, wrapped around her senses like tendrils of liquid comfort.

She walked to the front desk and ordered a cup of Orange Pekoe with a feeling of regret, of missing out on a big secret that most other people shared, but that she was excluded from. Then again, coffee tasted gross, she decided defiantly, lifting her head and meeting the barista’s judging look straight on. Honi added his order of chocolate frappe with a friendly smile and Adi couldn’t help noticing how much the amused expression in his face suited him. Still, she had a reputation to uphold so she said sharply, “I don’t like coffee, okay?”

Honi lifted his hands in mock surrender. Still smiling, he paid for both beverages despite Adi’s admittedly weak protest. They picked up their orders and Honi led the way to a wooden table in the back of the room. The terra-cotta feature wall was complemented by a chocolate brown soft sofa that was just the right level of squishiness to be supremely comfortable, yet firm enough to offer some support. Adi had snuggled into the sides of the leather three-seater many times and she quickly out-paced her companion to secure her favorite seat. Honi gave her a slightly irritated look and settled on the single leather chair instead.

“I haven’t been here a lot,” he admitted.

“I love the atmosphere in here. Particularly the way the coffee and spices smell,” Adi replied. She adored the freshly-baked scent of muffins mingling with the cinnamon and vanilla flavored coffees. It reminded her of her grandmother Oma-Adi back in Germany, about the stories she told of Scheherazade beguiling the Sultan with 1001 stories. Oma-Adi would sometimes sip her special chai tea, exuding the same fragrance of warming scents that to Adi encapsulated all the magic of the Orient. She sighed contentedly. Then she remembered why they were here and her mood changed quickly.

“So you can see them too?” She stopped herself and pulled up her shoulders. This was something she’s been spending most of her life denying, so saying it out loud felt daring and brash. Honi didn’t answer immediately. His long body sprawled in his chair, legs parted, thumb stuck in his front pocket. The large glass with its dark content topped with white cream covered the lower part of his face as he sucked thoughtfully, but his warm brown eyes were looking steadily at her. Adi twitched a little under the attention. People, men, didn’t usually look at her like that. Eventually, Honi put his glass down and sat forward. He continued holding her gaze with his intensity.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 14 

Link to Chapter 16 

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 14

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 14

Diepger continued glaring at her and Adi held his gaze without blinking. Her stomach felt heavy and her head faint with nerves. She really hated confrontation but no way would she look away first. As she stared at him, something moved on his shoulder. Adi’s eyes widened. She suppressed a shocked inhale. There it was again! Just like before, a small monkey, its face twisted with malevolence.

Diepger said something but Adi wasn’t listening. That animal freaked her out so badly as it looked at her, never blinking. Then, as Adi continued to watch, it deliberately lifted its skinny fingers, tipped with sharp nails, and plucked out its own eye. This time Add gasped, overcome with the memory of her dream. Her blood was thudding so hard in her ears, she couldn’t hear anything around her. As she stared, her mouth hanging open in shock, the creature vanished.

“…have you gone deaf? I am talking to you! Are you trying to challenge me, here in my classroom, in front of my class?”

Adi suddenly became aware that there was total silence around her, except for her teacher talking louder and louder until he was screaming at her. When her eyes met his, the anger in his face felt like a physical punch.

“You know what? Get the hell out of my lecture! I don’t need you sitting here, pretending to be, whatever you’re pretending to be…” God, he was so angry, he tripped over his own words. Adi blindly fumbled for her things and got up. She needed to get away.

Then she heard a deep calm voice behind her: “Professor Diepger, I’m sure Adi didn’t mean to be disrespectful…” When Adi turned around, she saw Honi look at the teacher with a pained expression on his face. He quickly glanced over to Adi and threw her a smile. That was a mistake.

Diepger took a deep breath and bellowed, “Well, if you’re such good friends, why don’t you join your crazy girlfriend! Get out of my class!” and he theatrically stuck out his hand, pointing at the exit door. Adi’s eyes were burning and she was seconds away from bursting into tears. No way was she going to give that jerk the satisfaction. She grabbed her bag, pushed past the boy sitting next to her and ran outside.

“Adi, wait!” Honi called after her. Damn it, she had gotten him expelled as well. She felt like she owed him, trying to stand up for her, whatever good it had done, and stopped with her head hanging down. Honi stepped around her and said quietly, “You’re upset. You look like you need a hug.” And before Adi could respond, the young man had pulled her gently against his chest and held her tight.

Once again Adi was calmed by his scent. She couldn’t help herself, after all the upset and feeling tired and mentally exhausted, she let go, pressed closer against his warm chest and started crying. Honi held her tight and walked her to a few chairs in front of somebody’s office. He guided her down without saying anything.

Adi couldn’t stop crying. She sobbed even though her face probably looked like an ugly mess. Every time she calmed a little, she thought of something else. Her parents’ death. Her fear that her father’s family hated her so much they tried to have her declared mentally unfit. Her nightmares. Everything just came to a head in Honi’s arms.

She pressed her cheek against his shirt and tried to ignore how the fabric turned damp under her face. His heart beat steadily compared to her own frantic pounding. It felt incredibly safe and she snuggled just a fraction closer against his chest. They sat like that for a  while until Honi moved back a little. Lifting her chin, he asked softly, ”Hey, are you okay? We should probably move before class is over.”

Adi didn’t want to move away from him but equally she didn’t want the rest of the students to see her like this. She wasn’t a child, she was a grown-up and now embarrassment crept up on her. Christ, Honi must think she was a nut case. She sat up straight and turned her face away. Her eyes were probably red and swollen, tear tracks down her face, and oh no, had she snotted onto his clothes?

Honi kept his hand on her chin and then he kissed her forehead. Just a small peck but when Adi looked up, he seemed just as surprised as she was. His face slowly turned red and with a feeling of giddiness, Adi realized he was blushing. It made her smile. Apparently she wasn’t the only one affected by the situation. Resolutely, she stood up and pulled him to his feet by his hand. He followed willingly and they stood opposite each other, still smiling.

“Come on,” she finally said. Seeing that ugly monkey on Diepger’s shoulder had made up her mind. She was done ignoring the situation. Unless she was suffering a psychotic break, Honi was her best chance to find out what was going on. If he had the same experience, maybe he knew what to do about it.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 13 

Next chapter on Monday

Link to Chapter 15

Facebook Ads Make Me Shiver

Literally. I’m running my first ad EVER and everytime I look at it, I get goosebumps. Bit pathetic really but doing all this marketing for my book feels like I’m a professional author. I love this feeling. It took such a long time to write Spirit Hunger and now it’s finally finished. Well, at the editor’s anyway, but sooo close to being finished!!!

So here’s the ad – please make my day and click on it, share and like 🙂

Thanks everybody, particularly to my friend Kathy who coached / goaded me into believing in myself and my sister Eva who’s been supportive all the way through (and allowed me to talk her ear off with story ideas).

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 13

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 13

Adi was upset. The conversation with Honi had started out so pleasantly and for a little while, she’d been able to forget her dreams. Of course it couldn’t last. When Honi had started talking about his nightmare, the images from last night had invaded her mind with such power that she stopped breathing for a moment. Continue reading “Spirit Hunger – Chapter 13”