Search This Blog

Dec 31, 2015

To 2016 And Beyond!

How many cats do you see?

 Introducing our newest family members, Loki and Finn (MacCool), 6 months old.

Along with Loki (front) and Finn, we wish you a very erholsam/restful slide into the New Year and that all the dreams you've imagined for the next 365 days (And Beyond! - said with a Buzz Lightyear voice) will come true.

Our newly adopted rescue cats when they were still in hiding. Loki and Finn (aka The Mischief Brothers)
We are celebrating this evening with frozen margaritas and seven layer dip with a side of spanish rice

Seven Layer Dip (meatless version)

The recipe is designed to be spread across a large dinner plate and should serve 4-6 as an appetizer and 2-3 as a main meal. Using a larger decorative platter will also leave room for lining up the tortilla chips or fried tortilla wedges around the edges for a more festive appearance. Feel free to vary quantities according to taste, but don't skimp on the guacamole.

 Layer 1: Refried Beans 

The easiest is to use canned beans or, if available, canned refried beans (the easiest easy). These can also be made from scratch using dried pinto beans or, for something different, black beans. Simply cover the beans in water, add spices as desired, and cook the beans until tender. This does need some prep. Pintos need at least four hours cooking and black beans can take even longer. The beans can be presoaked the night before to speed cooking time. 

Alternatively, with a crock pot (on my wish list), add water, turn it on and forget them for several hours. 

Fry the cooked beans in lard or vegetable shortening or peanut oil (about a tablespoon or two per two cups of beans) until softened. Mash the beans and continue mashing and cooking - if they become too dry add a little bit of water - until they reach the desired consistency (I like mine with some lumps). Option: saute diced onion in the oil before adding the beans. Option 2: Fold in some sliced jalapenos at the end of the cooking time.

Layer 2: Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche

Put two cups of sour cream or creme fraiche in a small bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of taco mix (or make your own - here for example and here) and mix well

Layer 3: Guacamole

The heart and soul of 7 Layer Dip is the guacamole. This is my secret (oops) no-fail guacamole recipe that I learned from a woman I worked with at the UT Medical School in Dallas in my short-lived capacity as medical secretary many many years ago. I wish I could remember her name so I could thank her properly. The avocados must be perfectly ripe. Peel the avocados (need at least two, possibly more depending on size so you end up with a cup and a half - more is certainly okay - I've never ever had any leftover guacamole). Mash them in a bowl, add some finely diced green onion (optional), just a teaspoon or two of chopped and seeded tomato, a few squeezes of fresh lime juice, salt and hacked up cilantro leaves to taste and mix well. Be sure to keep this away from family members until ready to spread onto the dip.

Layer 4: Cheese

Use a good cheese such as a piquant Gouda or well-aged Cheddar or a good Mexican cheese if you can get it. Mozarella also works but is taste-neutral. Shred the cheese until you have a good cup and a half or even two.

Layer 5: Olives

Chopped and seed black olives, a half a cup or so

Layer 6: Lettuce and/or Cucumber

Shred the lettuce finely and, if desired, add a few tablespoons of finely diced cucumber to give about two cups

Layer 7: Tomatoes

Chopped and seeded tomatoes, at least two cups. Option: finely diced green onion can be mixed in with the tomatoes


Spread the refried beans onto the plate or platter to form a layer a bare centimeter thick. Spread the sour cream/creme fraiche on top. Follow this with the guacamole. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the guacamole. The rest of the layers can be sprinkled on as you like. But the order of the layers given here are the way I usually throw it together. The tomatoes on the top give the finished dish a nice color. Warning: the dish will only look good for about the first 30 seconds before everyone begins to demolish it. Give everyone a small plate to pile some dip on and pass around some good quality (plain salted) tortilla chips or deep fried corn tortilla wedges to use as dip utensils. The round chips seem to work the best.

Some people add a layer of ground beef between the beans and sour cream. When adding meat, divide the taco mix between the beef and the sour cream.

For frozen margaritas, this is a simple but excellent recipe and this one is sweeter because it uses a sugar syrup.


Dec 21, 2015

The Schattenreich: Heinrich's Songs (2)

Wishing everyone a safe and peaceful holiday season.   

Love Never Gives Up
Heinrich von der Lahn

If Death takes us down, take it again.
You have to believe in the power
When you have no better way.
When destiny strikes the hour,
The gods will have their say.

And Death takes us down.
The shape of things to come
Is hidden from us all.
While the promise of dark wisdom,
Keeps you in its thrall.

Hold the one who matters near.
Let her drink from your cup.
Through your sorrow and your fear,
Love never gives up.

Death marks us all.
It’s his duty and his right.
Yet we must walk his road
Without an end in sight.
The past weighs our load.

Though Death marks us all,
That is not where it ends.
Life’s load makes us sway
With its twists and bends.
But Love’s light shows the way.

Hold the one who matters near.
She will share your poison cup.
Through your sorrow and your fear,
Love never gives up.

Hold the one who matters near.
Musn’t be easy to be good.
We will find our way back to each other.
Never fear Ankou’s wood.
The years may pass, but our love never will because
Love never gives up.
Love never gives up.

photo credits:

my wooden heart via photopin (license)

 Fisheye Snowscape via photopin (license)

Brittany Tree, Klaus-G. Hinzen, 2013

Dec 4, 2015

Amazon giveaway of Primary Fault!

Not yet read Primary Fault, Book 1 of the Schattenreich series?

Book 1 of the Schattenreich:
a tale of seismology, druids and an evil blonde

Now's your CHANCE  (link goes to Amazon giveaway page) to win 1 of 5 copies of the paperback version! U.S: addresses only (sorry! it's an Amazon restriction.)


Even if you don't win, the ebook is on sale for $0.99 (links below) from now UNTIL JANUARY 1ST.

trade paperback 
(to purchase - see link above to have a chance to win a copy)

Amazon (global link)
Apple ibooks

additional links at

Dec 1, 2015

The Schattenreich Extras: Caitlin von der Lahn in an exclusive interview!

Caitlin von der Lahn, the attractive and elusive mistress of Burg Lahn, has granted an exclusive interview with Anna Sturm for the Cologne Morgenpost. Frau Sturm, prime time news correspondent and freelance journalist reveals she has a personal connection to Freifrau von der Lahn, who consented to talk about some of her recent experiences.

STURM: Hi Caitie. Thanks for agreeing to talk to me. You're positively glowing with health. And that charming pinafore dress makes you look like you're on the verge of turning twenty. Pregnancy does become you.

VON DER.LAHN: Hi Anna. Thanks for the compliments! I'm feeling great. Spring in Germany, especially at Burg Lahn, does that to me. All that life that goes away in winter, returns. It's a heady experience.

STURM: And let me congratulate you on your recent victory. It must have felt like quite a triumph.

VON DER LAHN: Victory? Well, life has become a little easier. Goodness knows carrying triplets is a weighty enough affair. I'm glad to be able to get on with just concentrating on that and not having to listen to taunts of being the Hexe of Burg Lahn on a daily basis.

STURM: Have they stopped?

VON DER LAHN: Will they ever? You know how superstitious people are in the Rhineland. I've had to learn it firsthand!

STURM: You've turned down every request for an interview up until now. Since the surprising revelation of your relationship to Kilhian ar C'hoed and his own revelations, I think most everyone is eager to know more about it.

VON DER LAHN: No one was more surprised than me - except maybe for Kilhian. But you'd have to ask him about that. It's unsettling to suddenly find out you've got relations that you had no clue about.

STURM: Yes...I imagine so. But is there anything you can tell us about what transpired behind-the-scenes? How did you get Herr ar C'hoed to agree to come out in the open about his dealings with Dagmar Abel? And how did it come about that her sister----

VON DER LAHN: (clears throat) Half-sister. As I said, you'd have to ask Kilhian about all that. Have you tried to reach him? I'm sure he'd love to come out in the open about so many things.

STURM: Haven't yet tried to reach him, no. To be honest I'm more interested in your take on things. I mean, this whole thing started back when they accused your...when they accused Augustus Schwarzbach of attempted rape and murder. And Frau Abel's involvement in that was never proven.

VON DER LAHN: No, it wasn't. But I learned from Gus many years ago that the best way to handle trouble, especially serious trouble, is not to dwell on it overmuch. Don't you agree? I have to admit that I do, on occasion, have  problems following through with this advice. But long hot showers and taking action helps. Well, you and I certainly know how to go about taking action. (smiles) Bless our hearts!

STURM: We've dealt well together, it's a fact. Action is a better way of dealing with a great many things. A good reporter can't wait for the stories to come to her.

VON DER LAHN: And a good scientist must accept the data at hand, even if it seems unpleasant or the problems insurmountable.

STURM: You've certainly had your share of trouble lately.

VON DER LAHN: I am learning to take the good with the bad. If I constructed a histogram of all the good things that have happened to me since I moved to Germany and compared it a histogram of the bad things, then I think----

STURM:  We don't have room for any graphs in this article, I'm afraid.

VON DER LAHN: Hey, no problem.

STURM: I have one last question. It's a little awkward, but if you don't want to answer it...

VON DER LAHN: Out with it, Anna.

STURM: There seems to be a rumor of someone, people are calling him the Lord of the Dead of all things, stalking you.

VON DER LAHN: (creases brow, frowns, then smiles brightly) As I said, these kinds of rumors will likely never cease. Why I never...maybe it's one of those leftover Karneval gags.

STURM: (laughing) No, from what I've heard, from the official rumor mills, he's going for something much older than Gothic. Late Iron Age, maybe, you know, some kind of Nordic thing.

VON DER LAHN: Sounds oddly romantic in a scary supernatural kind of way. But a stalker, no, I'd surely have noticed that. I'm certainly not afraid of Death, wouldn't do much good anyway... (looks away)

STURM: Another mystery. They seem to surround you.

VON DER LAHN: Do you think so? I reckon it's something I could cultivate. Imagine that, me being mysterious. I'd dearly love to have such an image. But honestly, I'm just an expatriate Texan, trying to learn how to manage daily life in a castle near the Rhine and prepare for the big changes that come with having children.

STURM: Hmm. Maybe someday we'll learn The Full Story.

Book 5, the conclusion to The Schattenreich series

The Full Story: AVAILABLE NOW! In trade paperback
and ebook:

Amazon (global link)
Nook (Barnes & Noble)
Apple ibooks

Other links at

 BONUS! To celebrate the completion of the series, the ebook of Book 1 of the series, Primary Fault, is on sale for the entire month of December for $0.99.

Here's where it all began, Book 1 of the Schattenreich series
trade paperback
Amazon (global link)
Apple ibooks

additional links at

Nov 17, 2015

Bookkeeping Information for

Dear Readers,

Coming up on the holidays (and beyond), there will be a few changes at both and at the new website that should be launched sometime close to year's end. Please check back for upcoming promotional type thingies and giveaway stuff as things get closer to being finalized. There might also be a Facebook page for the Schattenreich series and any associated stories/books coming in the near future, but I've not made the final decision on that yet. If any of you have any strong opinions about that (yea or nay) please let me know.

I will be porting the blog (hopefully intact) over to Wordpress and the 'new' blog will then BE The launching site for my books and upcoming releases will then be The reason for this change is that 1) I've noticed that people don't have an easy time making comments on Blogger, and this bugs me. I want to hear from you, and 2) maintaining two separate websites that basically serve the same purpose in addition to the blog seems unnecessary and confusing for people looking to find me.

In the meantime, I have made the decision to stay wide with my distribution (rather than going exclusive with Kindle Unlimited), at least for the existing books. But I've switched aggregators for many of the channels where my books are to be found. Therefore, on my existing website the links have changed for some of the distributors.

First off, the Amazon (goes to my author page and is a GLOBAL link) and Kobo (goes to the Kobo link for Primary Fault) links have remained the same. Below, the links all go to Primary Fault*:

The links to the Tolino consortium: Hugendubel, Thalia, Weltbild AND Mayersche have changed.
The links to the Barnes & Noble (Nook) ebooks have changed.
The links to Scribd have changed.
The links to Apple/ibooks have changed.

*apologies that these are not global links - but the other books can be found easily either by scrolling down to the other books by this author (Scribd and ibooks) or by clicking on my author name)

Oct 31, 2015

Adieu, Dear Friend!

I am sad to report that this morning at approx. 10:00 we had to put our beloved Miezie to sleep forever.

Luckily the poor guy had passed into a waking coma sometime between 4:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. so didn't experience the final ride to the dreaded vets.

His given name is really Ramses, but throughout his 17 years of life has been mostly known as Miezie, Kitty, Mimu, Mimiman, Miezmiez, Hey There Meeeem!, and sometimes Miezie Stop That! or Miezie NO! although the last two not that often.

We shared thrilling conversation on a daily basis (Are you the Meem? Miaow. Really? You're the Meem? Miaow. You're the Meem! Miaow!) 

 Miezie was quick to draw blood and engender not insignificant pain to the unwary, but never held a grudge. He loved a game of hide and seek or chase the straw. Miezie was always there for a late night writing binge at the computer or curled up next to me on the couch while I read and shared my yoghurt with him in the wee hours whenever I couldn't find sleep. 

He was an outdoor cat first and foremost and always to be counted on for his help and guidance whenever any gardening activities were being carried out. Or when snowballs were being thrown or snow igloos constructed (made expressly for his use).

His hunting prowess was incomparable and he was an excellent ratter. His mousing abilities were so good, we had to devise a means to catch the ones he let loose in the house still very much alive and sometimes in the middle of the night (the soon-to-be-patented Empty Shoe Method).

He purred incessantly, wanted to be petted Right Now, and would always be near one, but honestly didn't enjoy being picked up or carried around. He wasn't a lap cat either, but would deign to sit on my lap (and no one else's) for around five minutes at a stretch just to show he could do it.

I always appreciated his companionship near (or mostly on) my laptop keyboard and his incisive additions to my manuscripts, some of which I only found when doing final edits.

 I had no idea I would be grieving this much for him, and I know it's completely maudlin to talk about it, and no, I don't care.

Miezie now has a nice place in the garden where he can keep an eye on us with a stack of smooth Brittany beach stones over his resting place. 
He was always so utterly happy in the garden, sun, rain or snow.


At least he is finally at peace and probably already hunting far afield in the Otherworld. Adieu, my dear dear friend!

Oct 5, 2015

Triple Junction, Book 5 of the Schattenreich: excerpt and cover reveal

Finally! Triple Junction, the last book in the Schattenreich series (but not the last of the Schattenreich!), soon to be released in ebook and trade paperback. 

Sorry for the delay, but we are accompanying our terminally ill cat, the handsome and intrepid Ramses (also known as Miezie and the model for Cicero in the Schattenreich books) on his last days with us. I hope there are still many days still remaining for our dear friend of 17 years (see picture at bottom), but it is hard to be sure.

Consequently, I am also behind on getting the Terrae Motus Books website ready for launch (it will eventually replace To keep abreast of new releases and giveaways/promotions exclusive to subscribers, please sign up to receive my quarterly newsletter. I had planned on a 3rd quarter release of both the newsletter and the ebook (uh, that was last week, right?), but am now looking ahead to a fourth quarter, post-holiday, gentle launch of both paperback and ebook. It will be available before that time, wide, in a variety of outlets. Naturally, I will post updates on the blog.

So, on to the excerpt. I have picked this passage, not at the beginning but only a little ways into the book, as it's a nice standalone scene and provides a good framework for the novel and its themes. And of course, I didn't want to reveal spoil the wedding, which occurs near the beginning of the book. 

Book 5 of the Schattenreich
Chapter 6

We started from Lahn-dunum, the Schattenreich counterpart to Burg Lahn that now existed firmly within the borders of Ande-dubnos. I hadn’t been here since Heinrich, Hagen and I drank the funky-tasting water infused with the essence of the Dreams that allowed us to see into each other’s souls. I jumped at the eerie wailing emanating from the depths of Lahn-dunum’s crypts. I had last been down there when my uncle Niehls stabbed me in the neck.

Heinrich looked as puzzled as I felt.

Hagen didn’t. “Lahn-dunum has a new guardian. But he is still experiencing some, ah, adjustments to his new home.”

Sebastian crossed his arms. “Is he secure?”

“Quite,” Hagen said. “But I haven’t had a chance to check in on him recently. That will have to wait until a later time. Brides first?”

Hagen pushed open a set of double-doors leading out of Lahn-dunum. I’d never entered or exited through the front doors before. Or even remembered seeing them. Another first. Maybe they only existed on this night, Kala Goañv, Samhain, the festival associated with the end of the harvest and the coming of winter.

And now it would be celebrated as the eve of our wedding night. My second wedding night.

We reached the wooden bridge that separated Ande-dubnos from the Schattenreich. Its carved railings resembled my bedposts. In the dark, I could only hear the water rushing underneath. Because of more than one fateful encounter here, I looked both ways before hurrying to follow the others across. I supposed we were making a shortcut through the Schattenreich, but wasn’t sure. Hagen led us to the right, down a darkening path, lined on either side with brambles and sickly looking trees.

“Haven’t been this way before,” I mumbled.

“It’s not usually open to travel,” Hagen said.

The two full moons in the sky shone with a pale, pearly light. Heinrich reached upward and twisted his hand as if turning a faucet. We were blanketed in moonlight that cast an envelope around us, holding the darkness at bay. My moon shone through the trees, not quite full. It no longer had a dark growth blotting out its brilliance. I breathed out in relief, my legs feeling more solid.

We reached an archway of thick, tangled branches.

“Watch out for the thorns,” Hagen said. “They induce a stupor, followed by pain.”

We moved through the arch singly. I went last, holding my traveler’s cloak tight around me. Heinrich pulled out a binioú kozh, his Breton bagpipe; it looked ancient and more like a water bladder made from goatskin than a bagpipe. He played a few notes.

I shifted on my feet. “Are we waiting for someone?”

A series of plaintive cries reached us. Not wails; they sounded more like pleas, pleas to the living. Even though I didn’t understand the words, I understood their meaning: Give us life. Give us your life.

And there they waited, far from us, across a wide open plain bordered on the far end by forest. Even at a distance, they were easy to see; four of them, sunken-in men, their clothes in disarray and their hair plastered to their heads.

“Who are you?” I felt myself calling to them.

Hagen grimaced and grasped my shoulder, his arm around me. With his other hand, he covered my mouth. “Don’t—”

The sky lightened as if from a sudden brightening of the moons. The ground shook. I took a breath to shout a warning, but Hagen kept his hand firmly over my mouth. My eyes closed for a moment. When I opened them, the four men had closed at least half the distance between us. I hadn’t even seen them move. They cried again, the mournful sounds penetrating my skull, making me shiver.

I wanted to mimic their cries. My throat tightened.

Hagen nodded to Heinrich, who started a slow dirge on his bagpipe. The men turned and marched away in time to his music. We followed the dead men in one long procession. I fought the fright gripping my groin by putting one foot in front of the other.

The well-trodden path, its dark gravel ground into the equally dark and foul-smelling earth was bordered on either side by withered plants and bare-limbed trees that seemed hunched over with their own weight. We followed it into the woods. We were in Ankou’s domain. The sudden knowledge didn’t cripple me with fear – I was with Hagen and this was where he came to do his Ande-dubnos duty by guiding the dead to their final resting place – but it didn’t encourage relaxation on my part.

We made the trek in grim silence, relieved only by snuffling sounds from either side of the path. I looked once. Orange-red eyes glared back at me. Whatever creature belonged to those eyes had bulk, a darker shadow hulking against the darkness.

But although the creature jerked upwards when our eyes met, it didn’t move to intercept us. After that, I kept my eyes fixed on Hagen, striding confidently in front of me. Heinrich flanked me from behind, followed by Sebastian. He hummed quietly.

The path ended at a steep bluff. The dead men had deserted us, vanishing into a mist that rose behind us. Hagen turned and moved backwards along a faint trail that wound down, his hands braced on stones and protruding, famished-looking tree roots that lined the way. Once he reached the bottom, he motioned for us to follow him.

In the twilit evening we scrambled down. A patch of moonlight just behind a range of hills in the near distance called us on.

“Are we there yet?” I asked.

He smiled. “Just over the hills.”

The meandering trail through gentle hills led us into a bowl-shaped dale. A single-file procession marched downwards from the hills opposite us. Hagen called a halt when we reached a jumble of moss-covered boulders to the right of the path.

“Just find a place to sit comfortably. We won’t have long to wait,” Hagen said.

Heinrich slung his binioú kozh in preparation for playing, and Sebastian sat next to me, taking my hand in his.

“Who are they, Tadig?”

“Departed souls.”

“What are they doing here?”

“Celebrating. And remembering. Like us. Look. A few of the Tud join us.” My father pointed behind us, to the path we had just taken.

A line of about a dozen Tud, one of several races of beings who inhabited Ande-dubnos, came our way. These were the tall ones with fair skin and long silvery hair. They stood near a group of boulders to the left of the path. A couple of them nodded to us, and they watched Heinrich expectantly.

Then I saw Ankou. He stood where the path opened out to the grassy dale, where the dead had just passed. He wore his black cloak and wielded his iron-tipped staff, his legs spread. His hair blew behind him, his skin an unearthly white. He waited until the last of the dead passed by. When they were all gathered in the middle of the downs, Ankou rapped his staff on the ground three times.

The dead began to sing. Ankou rapped his staff three more times. Some danced, but mostly they moved amongst each other in a grim Irish wheel, touching one other as they passed, many of them turning, gazing as if searching for someone or something, the short cropped grasses not even marked by their passing. Hagen gazed in the same way. He tapped Heinrich on the shoulder.

Out in the middle of the dale, Hagen and Heinrich’s mother Isabel glided past the other souls. Her face had none of the life and hope so visible in the pictures Heinrich had shown me in Dinard, but she was beautiful, with a kissed-by-moonlight paleness contrasting her long dark hair and slender form.

Beautiful and dead. So near but so far away.

Heinrich played a few notes on his bagpipe, then stopped to sing to her in Brezhoneg, not a funeral dirge, but a song that sounded both happy and sad. Heinrich’s clear voice conveyed respect and longing.

Isabel glanced once our way and then continued her search. Was she looking for Hagen’s father Theodor? One of the dead men took her hand and led her in a slow dance. She didn’t resist. The others joined them, swaying and turning to Heinrich’s song.

Ankou kept a close watch on his flock. When one of them strayed too far towards us, he would call them back with a commanding voice that touched me in the deep place where my fear of him still lived. But what could he possibly threaten the dead with?

I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answer to that question, but as I turned to ask Hagen, Ankou stood before us. He had moved across the dale in less time than it took me to open my mouth to speak, as quick as the dead men who had led us here. I turned my face away, unwilling to meet Ankou’s eyes.

His claim on me had not yet come to pass; he would have to wait. I married the man of my heart’s desire tonight and was still very much alive and a part of his life. Ankou bowed and reached out a hand to me. Was he asking me to dance?

I shrank back. Hagen reached me and took my hand in a tight grip. He held out a hand to ward off Ankou’s advance. “Your claim on Katarin is not yet due. What do you seek from the living?” A ring of light glowed a ghostly white on Hagen’s little finger.

Ankou bowed. “A dance to celebrate Kala Goañv and the day of your promising.”

Was our wedding night to be the cause of hostility? Hagen couldn’t tell me about the unfinished business between them because of a geis. But if all Ankou wanted was a dance, then I could do that. I took my hand from Hagen’s and extended it to Ankou.

A light touch on my shoulder made me turn my head.

“May I have the pleasure of a dance with you, milady?” Brionne, the Tud I once met at the Sea of Dreams, the night Heinrich and I made love for the first time, stood next to me. For the evening’s festivities, he wore a burgundy red suit featuring a double-breasted long-tail coat that went well with his platinum hair. Hagen smiled and nodded his head in approval.

Brionne bowed to Ankou and turned back to me. Ankou’s face betrayed no emotion, but a brief smile of acknowledgement appeared.

I gave Brionne my hand. “I’d be honored.”

The other Tud danced with us, their long arms and legs swirling, rising and falling. Ankou swiveled his head to watch us. Their enthusiasm pushed me into a frenzy, just like on Kala Hañv, the Maifest, when I ran with the Tud to honor Eduard’s passing. Here it had none of the urgency of the Wild Hunt I had fled.

I didn’t need to escape Death. Not tonight. Not yet.

Hagen joined Heinrich in his song, his voice higher but in harmony. I’d never heard him sing before. The words poured out evening a rich timbre; although I didn’t understand their meaning, the carefully contained emotion behind them seemed clear. Sebastian added his voice to the chorus, and put his arms across their shoulders. Heinrich ended the song with a few plaintive notes from his Breton bagpipe.

I curtsied low to Brionne and thanked him for the dance before turning again to the dead. The souls in the middle of the downs continued their own songs, voices strengthening and then fading away. Sobs and cries issued forth. They intensified their movements as if working up to a grand finale. At a signal from Ankou, they abruptly turned and began the climb back to where they had come from.

Hagen took a few steps closer to Ankou. They faced off, their words swallowed in a wind that swirled around them, a wind Ankou caused with a flourish of his iron rod, so that none of us were privy to their conversation. Heinrich held me around the waist.

Finished with what they had to say to each other, Druid and Death regarded each other across the short distance between them before Ankou turned and followed his flock, his long hair flowing around him. He turned once more and bowed to me before continuing on his way. My husband started after him, a momentary sadness lingering in his expression, until Sebastian clasped him by the shoulder.

We began the trek back home.

our beloved Miezie

Sep 15, 2015

The 777 Writing Challenge

The writing challenge, as I understand it, is to take a current work-in-progress - in particular, the 7th line of the 7th page and then the next seven lines. I have parsed for dramatic effect but have held faithful to the tenets of the challenge. I was tagged by Michael W.Lucas.

This is from my current WIP, The Sundered Veil, a novel of the Schattenreich that takes place in the near future, but also a series of elongated and connected short stories. (i.e., I haven't yet decided what the hell it's supposed to be since I'm only about a third of the way into it. SO this really is showing my underpants).
We stood facing each other in the crowded tram. Brev scanned quickly, his brilliant dark eyes missing nothing.

He leaned forward, close enough to whisper, “All clear.”

I nodded and breathed easier. Then I grabbed an overhead handhold and scrutinized the aisle and the seats behind Brevalaer for any signs of the Folk.

The family called them the Tud, but by whatever name you called them, they weren’t human.

Some had bits and pieces of humanity, half-human parentage, knowledge of which was lost in the mists of time. Most could pass for human when they wanted to, making them harder to identify for what they were by those who didn’t know what to look for.


This is from my finished but not-yet-ready-for-publication SF novel, Daughters of Earth.

Meyna felt a tear run down her cheek as she looked at the boys’ faces.

They idolized Ramsen, and their stricken expressions showed how much his sacrifice had affected them. 

They repeated the storydance, this time embellishing it with another major movement, the escape from the Setkaens into the swamp.

Setkaens and Meynators. Meyna would rather be eaten by the latter, this world’s natural predators, than captured or killed by their invaders.

Meyna concentrated, channeling the ultraviolet of her anger and grief into movement, her arms silky light kryswings, sliding over Reeth’s.

The two women moved as one graceful struggling organism, their hands touching and then moving away. Reeth’s shrill song echoed the puffs of poison mist the Setkaens had hunted them with.


Bwahahahaha. I'm now entreating the following writers to do their own thing with this challenge.

I've tagged: Priya Sharma, Rob Rowntree, David Conyers, D. L. Young


Aug 27, 2015

Short Hiatus

Taking a couple of weeks off for some needed R&R and to get caught up on several projects. Will be back in mid-September.

Until then! Don't let the clock rule you .

Timepieces on display at the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy

Jul 17, 2015

Immortal Guardian stories in German - Die Serie des Ewigen Wächters - Live!

First of all, the edits are progressing on Triple Junction, Book 5 of The Schattenreich. I expect an early fall release. Excerpt and cover release in early September.

Secondly, for the German readers out there (you know who Du bist), especially those who have been asking me when German translations will soon be available for my Schattenreich novels (leider noch nicht), here are excerpts from the German versions of my first two short stories from the Immortal Guardian series, Die Schwingen des Wächters and Das Auge der Sphinx, translated from the English to the German (aber nicht rückwärts rum) by Lieselotte Kill (planned release: early August LIVE!) . Universal links below.

Aus Die Schwingen des Wächters, Copyright 2015, Sharon Kae Reamer

Amazon worldwide German version 
Amazon worldwide English version

 Das grelle Licht blendete ihn für einen Augenblick. Enkidu stellte sich vor es sei der Funke des Lebens nach dem Tode oder die Berührung der Götter. Ein Raum, den er niemals zuvor gesehen hatte, erschien vor ihm und er spürte den Schlag seines Herzens. Es war, als ob jemand kochendes Öl durch seinen Körper fließen ließe.

Er atmete tief ein. Eine Frau stand vor ihm. Sie war etwa einen Kopf kleiner als er, hatte einen olivfarbenen Teint und braunschwarze Augen; ihr glattes Haar fiel wie ein gelber Wasserfall über ihre Schultern bis auf die Brust. Sie beobachtete ihn, ernsthaft und konzentriert. Er fand ihr starkes, herzförmiges Gesicht verführehrend, schon deshalb, weil es nach seinem Tod das Erste war, das er sah.

Enkidu hatte keine Ahnung, in welchem Teil des Himmels oder der Hölle er angekommen war oder welche Gottheit vor ihm stand. Sie schob ihr Haar mit beiden Händen zurück, so dass es hinter ihre runden, aber aufrechten Schultern fiel. Die Goldfäden, die ihr weißes ärmelloses Gewand am Mieder und am Saum durchzogen, passten zu der üppigen Menge Gold an ihren Armen und um den Hals und betonten ihre Schönheit.

„Sei willkommen“, sagte sie.

„Sei bedankt“, Enkidu neigte den Kopf und breitete seine Hände aus als Geste der Unterwerfung. „Wie kann ich dir dienen?“ Ihr Willkommensgruß und seine Entgegnung waren in einer Sprache gesprochen, die er niemals zuvor im Leben benutzt hatte.

Sie machte einen Schritt auf ich zu, einen kleinen nur, aber er musste darüber lächeln. Sie sah so sterblich aus.

„Du musst wissen, warum ich dich zurück gerufen habe.“

Enkidu hob den Kopf. „Zurück?“ Er bewegte sich langsam im Kreis, sein starrer Blick auf den steinernen Dämon gerichtet. Der hatte den Körper eines Löwen und die Schwingen und den Kopf eines Falken.


Aus Das Auge der Sphinx, Copyright 2015, Sharon Kae Reamer

Amazon worldwide German version
Amazon worldwide English version

Er meißelte vorsichtig eine kleine Unebenheit von ihrer Wange und strich dann mit der Fingerspitze darüber, um die Stelle zu prüfen. Fahles Tageslicht tauchte die Dombauhütte in sepiafarbene Töne und erzeugte fleckige Schatten. Die vielfachen heiseren Rufe einer vorbeiziehenden Gruppe von Fußballfans hallten auf dem großen Platz wider. Vögel, die auf einem Sims über ihm saßen, stimmten ihre Abendgesänge an. Lavendel und Nelken in Töpfen verströmten ihren Duft. Ein Windhauch strich durch sein Haar, eine kurz gelebte, aber perfekte Ewigkeit. Jetzt ist eine Ewigkeit, in der ich leben will.
Der letzte Rest des Tages, diese wenigen kostbaren Augenblicke, ließen ihn fast vergessen, was er wusste: Zeit existierte nicht.

Er strich mit den Fingern über den Stein, tastete nach Unebenheiten und dabei richtete er die schleifenförmige Bewegung auf eine raue Stelle unter ihrem Kinn. Leandro wusste, dass er jede Sekunde der Ewigkeit brauchen würde, um seine eigenen Unebenheiten zu glätten.

Er  richtete seine Aufmerksamkeit auf den scharfen Meißel, den er am liebsten für das Formen von Gesichtern benutzte. Steinerne Augen starrten ihn aus einem Gesicht an, das seit hunderten von Jahren tot war. Er wurde aber nicht müde, es zu formen. Leandro trug die Büste zu einem der langen Tische. Er setzte sie vorsichtig ab und trat zurück um zu sehen, was noch nicht stimmte, dabei wischte er den Staub von seinen Händen. Mangel an Schuld. Die Augen schauten ihn nicht mehr anklagend an.

„So spät noch bei der Arbeit, Leandro?“

 Miriam lehnte an der Wand am Eingang zur Werkstatt.

„Ah, Frau Richter.“ Ein kleiner Ruck mit einem eckigen Schaber vollendete den Bogen einer Augenbraue. „Wie sind Sie hereingekommen?“

Markus hat mich hereingelassen, als er ging.“ Sie ging auf Leandro zu und schaute sich die Einzelheiten genau an, die er gerade geformt hatte. In seinem Körper kribbelte es, als sie näher kam. Miriam zog die Rundungen der Büste mit dem Zeigefinger nach. „Sie ist wunderschön. So wie alle deine Schöpfungen.“

„Sie hieß Nanaia, und ja, sie war wunderschön.“ Er drehte sich um und legte seine Hände auf Miriams Schultern. Er küsste sie einmal auf jede Wange. „Hallo, Miriam. Es ist gut dich wieder zu sehen.“

Sie lächelte, als ihre Blicke sich trafen. Miriam trat einen Schritt zurück, und ihr Lächeln verschwand. Sie sah sich in der Werkstatt um. „Alle sind schon gegangen, nur du bist noch hier? Ist es nicht ein bisschen unheimlich, alleine hier zu dieser Nachtzeit, über dir türmt sich der riesige Dom?“

Er zuckte mit den Schultern. „Das finde ich nicht. Faule Sommerabende unter dem Dom helfen, meinen Verlangen nach dem ewigen Paradies zu stillen.

Sie hob sein Schnitzwerkzeug auf und betrachtete jedes Teil sorgfältig von allen Seiten. Wie sieht es mit Abendessen aus? Geht natürlich auf mich.“

Er hakte seine Daumen in den Bund seiner Jeans. „Stell dir das vor. Hauptkommisarin Miriam Richter will mich zum Essen ausführen. Sollte mir das zu denken geben?“

Miriams Lächeln war kein warmes Lächeln. Sie strich sich über ihr kurzes schwarzes, mit Silberstreifen durchzogenes Haar. „Bei mir solltest du immer auf der Hut sein. Ich bin nichts als Ärger.“


Jun 28, 2015

Ah, Italia! Part Four

Hello Perugia!

City on a hill. The capital of the Italian province of Umbria and a former Etruscan city (the indoor pool of our hotel allows a glimpse at some of the ruins through a transparent bottom).

I've decided I really liked Umbria. The Perugia city center is on the top of a really big-assed hill. Where our hotel is, there's no parking. There's really no parking anywhere at the top. People who actually live here must pay premium prices for a sliver of garage space.

We resigned ourselves to trudging up from one of the public parking garages (at the bottom of the hill), dragging our suitcases behind us. But wait!

On the way down down down from Perugia's city center
There's escalators that go all the way up. And up. And up. All the way to the top. It's a miracle.

This picture doesn't really do the whole system justice. To get where you're going you may have to change escalators, walk, and get on another escalator. It really is a system.

The steepness won't impress anyone who's been on the London Underground or the subway in Prague. But the really fun thing about the whole Perugia escalator system is that there's a culture going on in there.

While you're walking from one escalator to the next, there are shops and market stalls selling chocolate, cheese, and crafts. There's even a restaurant. You could spend a whole day in there.

Market stalls next to one of the escalators

There's some cool pictures here and from the Perugia tourism portal here with all kinds of information about the city and events.

So once we got to the top, just a very few meters from our hotel, we decided to explore the city's main drag and give ourselves a treat.
the view from our hotel room

Happy hour Perugia style

It was only around five in the afternoon, but, you know, it's always six o'clock somewhere. The beers are what w paid for. The rest was on the house. We decided we needed to come back here again the next day. And we did.

San Pietro abbey

But business comes first and the reason for making our stop in Perugia was to visit the Observatorio Sismica Andrea Bina in the basement of the Benedictine abbey San Pietro.

The well-maintained and well-worn basement where the seismic observatory resides seems to have left the outside world behind - with the exception of the seismic signals, today collected digitally. Father Martino Siciliani, the director of the observatory, is  well-maintained but doesn't appear well-worn at all for his age (I won't tell, but he's terribly fit, typically Italianate stylish, and I'd guess ageless).

One of the oldest seismic observatories in Italy, the modern observatory was established in 1931 and contains a treasure trove of antique seismometers. The oldest is a pendulum of the design for which the observatory was named. The concept of suspending a (lead) pendulum over sand originated with the philosopher and monk Andrea Bina in 1751.

Andrea Bina's treatise on ground motion
Another rarity includes an Agamemnon seismograph, which utilized drum recordings on smoked paper and were one of the first seismographs to be employed in the late 19th century (in Greece) to measure seismic waves.
the drum and recording of the Agamemnon seismograph

After our short but instructive visit to the observatory, we spent the rest of our time walking the city center and basking in the ambiance of this lovely relaxed city. I think April is probably one of the best times to visit. It wasn't too hot nor too crowded.

Piazza IV Novembre - everyone gathers on those steps
I developed an instant fascination for the Perugia griffin (due to my innate love of anything chimera!) and have made it my goal to learn more about this marvelous beast. I had hoped that the griffin - head and wings of an eagle and body of a lion - would turn out to be Etruscan, but the city symbol was adopted in the Renaissance period as a symbol of strength. He can be seen on doorknobs, frescoes - everywhere - throughout the city.

Jun 5, 2015

New blog design!

I've decided to lighten things up a little. The background picture is from Brittany, some form of beach plant caught in morning dew.

I'd appreciate any feedback you'd care to share about the design.

And a few garden pictures, now that summer has arrived.

The writer's life with roses

Clematis, The President, with late blooming aquilegia

Bronze fennel, a welcome stray

A shy foxglove, just lifting its head

Foxglove with a reluctant cucumber

Cinnamon fern in all its glory
Rose de Rescht, stay away from those thorns

Rhubarb by the compost

pots on the patio with beach stones from Brittany

My new raised planter with babies