Flash Fiction 2018 – May

Flash Fiction #05: M for Mocking

As the year 2018 draws to a close, I am looking at my various Flash Fiction pieces that I wrote throughout the year, but never edited. When I began writing in earnest four years ago, I never thought that there was so much more to it than putting pen to paper (figuratively speaking). I soon learned that editing and revising is just as important (if not more) and quite challenging. But it doesn’t matter that it took me half a year to sit down and actually edit this flash fiction piece; what matters is that I did edit it. So, without further ado, here it is: 


Mum, No. 

There’s one sentence that my Mum is particularly fond of: “Are you really going to wear that to school?” And she says exactly that as I walk into the kitchen in the morning to get some cereal.

I turn around to her. “What’s wrong with it?”

My mum sighs, shaking her head. “Honey,” she says, “why don’t you wear that nice dress I bought you?”

“Mum, no.” I empty some cereal into a bowl, then pour milk over it.

“Why not? You’d look so cute in it.”

I frown. “I’d look ridiculous. And this is much more comfortable.”

My mum eyes me sidelong, then grabs her purse. “You know, it’s not always about being comfortable,” she says. “Sometimes you need to dress a certain way.”

“Why?” I shovel a spoonful of cereal into my mouth.

“Because it shows others what kind of person you are.” She straightens her skirt, then picks the car keys off the table. “I’ll be home late tonight, but there’s food in the freezer.”

“Are you seeing that Gary guy again?”

My mum purses her lips. “His name is Garret.” She comes round the kitchen counter and pecks me on the cheek. I rub the spot with the back of my hand. “See you later, bug. And please change that sweater!”

“Sure!” I call after her. “Have fun with Gary!”

I finish my breakfast, walk into the hallway and stop in front of the mirror. The light here highlights my newest piece of clothing in all its glory. Every single sequin that shapes the mocking bird adorning my front. A beaded eye twinkles back at me.

“Sorry, mother,” I say, “but I am really going to wear that to school.”

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THE SEELIE PRINCESS – What’s it about?

I’ve briefly talked about this before here – but I want to tell you a bit more today. THE SEELIE PRINCESS is my first full-length novel, which I finished revising back in August. As of now, it has not been published, but I’m querying and excited to share this story with you. So today I want to rave about my book baby. 

A quick recap of what to expect:

  • YA Fantasy with LGBTQ rep
  • faeries! lot’s of them
  • f/f romance
  • strong female characters
  • a magical realm 
  • elements of Celtic mythology
  • names that are pretty on the eye but you won’t be able to pronounce them (sorry, not sorry)

Meet the MC – Kayla Whittemore

Everyone knows that faeries only exist in stories, but Kayla is certain that they are real and the reason why her father vanished when she was little. Even almost 10 years after his ‘death’, she holds on to the hope of finding him. When she finally receives word from the faeries, she doesn’t hesitate to strike a bargain with their queen. But finding her father is not as easy as she’s hoped and Kayla has to face treacherous faeries, hidden family heirlooms, and her first heartbreak. How far is she willing to go? 

Kayla was born in 1998 in a small down in Illinois. After her father disappeared, they moved to the bustling city of Chicago. When Kayla isn’t researching how to find faeries, she spends her time cuddled up with a good book or drinking way too much coffee with her best friend Abby. 

What inspired it? 

1 – Celtic Fairy Faith

In the summer of 2014, I was obsessed with Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles. And even though I was a huge fan of all the badass Shadowhunters in the books, what fascinated me even more was her portrayal of the faeries as beautiful, cunning, and complicated creatures. So I began to research how she’d come about that idea and I soon learned she’d taken a lot of her inspiration from the Celtic Fairy Faith (as did her wonderful writer-friend Holly Black).

The Celtic mythology is filled to the brim with magical creatures and fantastic folktales. I could write for hours about this topic! But I don’t want to digress, so I’ll give you a little overview of characters that found their way into my story: 

  • faeries: also known as Daoine Sidhe, inhabitants of the magical Tír na nÓg, divided into the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court
  • pookas: the underdogs of the faerie realm, shapeshifters and forest creatures
  • pixies: smallest inhabitants of Tír na nÓg, also the friendliest of the Fair Folk
  • merrows: merfolk living on a small island off the mainland, telepaths and constantly suspicious of the faeries
  • faerie cats: an ancient type of faeries who can perform magic and shares both a cat’s furry ears and its heightened senses 

2 – Diverse Storytelling

When I began this journey of writing THE SEELIE PRINCESS, I had decided on two aspects early on: there would be faeries (plenty of them!) and my main character would be a girl falling in love with another girl. Throughout my writing process, many ideas appeared, shifted, manifested, or disappeared again, but these two facts persisted until the very end. 

There has been an abundance of great stories where girls were whisked away to far lands by incredibly handsome boys (I’m looking at you, Jace Herondale!). I believe it’s time for girls to get whisked away by gorgeous girls, too. Or boys being seduced by other boys. Or just generally people falling in love. All mixed with a fair amount of faerie dust! 

So who’s the Seelie Princess? 

I can’t tell you just yet… but keep your eyes open for little excerpts and sneak peeks! If you’re interested in reading more about faeries and Tír na nÓg, please check out my two short stories: The King’s Daughters and Broken Bonds. Feel free to talk to me on twitter @sarah_tanzmann or leave a comment below! 

My NaNoWriMo18 experience

-How I defied my inner demons-

On November 1st, I set out for my newest adventure as a writer. For years I had dreamed of participating in NaNoWriMo, but it never worked out due to other responsibilities. But this year, my schedule for November was clear – finally! So with a rough outline in my head, I put pen to paper and began to write. Soon, however, doubt settled in. 

Can I do this? Am I really able to write a WHOLE BOOK in just a month? Of course I’d written a book before, but that had been a long process. Months of research followed by months of planning, writing, and ultimately revising. The prospect of going through most of this process within just a month seemed daunting. And then another question settled in my mind like a parasite: What if I can’t write another book? What if I’m really an impostor, a fraud? What if I’m not really a writer? Maybe I had placed all my cards on this dream of being a writer, only to realize that I’d never make it. 

So on November 15th, halfway through NaNoWriMo18, I stopped writing. I just couldn’t continue. The thought of returning to my project was too much to handle and I turned the other way. The remainder of the month I spent licking the wounds of my bruised ego. One sentence ran through my head on constant repeat: I HAD FAILED. I had failed NaNoWriMo. I had failed writing another book. I had failed building up a writing habit. I had failed as a writer. I had failed as a human being. That was the only thing I could think of, until a friend of mine opened my eyes. It was true, I had not completed NaNoWriMo. “But you wrote 22.000 words in 15 days,” my friend said. “And even if you choose not to continue with this particular novel, you still did something! In the very least, you can consider it as practice.” Huh. I sat back in my chair. Others had told me similar things and somehow deep down I had always known that you could not fail NaNoWriMo. But this particular friend had highlighted all the things that I had accomplished and slowly the doubtful demon trying to tear me down from the inside started to subside. 

Yesterday, for the first time since November 15th, I sat back down to write. I did not continue my NaNoWriMo18 project (at least not now), but I tried to write something different. And I wrote this blog post as well. I’m not going to lie, it was hard to get back to writing, but it felt like the first sip of water after a long drought. So maybe NaNoWriMo just isn’t for me or maybe I try again next year and write even more than 50.000 words in a month. Or maybe I really needed to “fail” this year to realize that every single word I write is an achievement. Every written word can be the start of something new – or maybe it doesn’t amount to anything. Whichever it is, every second spend following my dream is an accomplishment in itself. 

So, to wrap this up, whether you finished NaNoWriMo or not, even if you wrote only a couple of words, YOU ACHIEVED SOMETHING! Be proud of what you did rather than mourn all that you could’ve done. Every single word you write is worth it!

I’M D-O-N-E!!!

Yesterday was a pretty exciting day for me because…

I FINISHED MY NOVEL!

excited

Okay. Breathe. Let that sink in.

It feels kind of odd, because I’ve been here before. About three years ago I finished writing the first draft of my novel, then I put it aside. First, I celebrated. I’d done it! I had seriously sat down at my desk and wrote AN ENTIRE NOVEL, something I always wanted to do. But then… I wasn’t done, because, honestly, my first draft SUCKED.

And that’s when I learned that writing a book is about so much more than just getting the words onto paper. It’s about planning, about revising, about editing, about screaming at the screen because that. scene. just. won’t. work. AAAAARGH!

So I revised and revised. I gave my manuscript to my dear writer friends, who in return gave me tons of feedback (thanks, btw. I could not have done it without you!!!). And I revised some more. I cried, I laughed, I worried. And it all got me to where I am today.

My story is far from perfect, but it’s the best I could do. Now it’s time to send it out into the world and hope for the best!

Wish me luck 😉

PitchWars 2018 #BoostMyBio

Hello everyone! Exciting news! As my WIP is rapidly approaching its final stages, I’m gearing up to send it out into the world. One of my fellow writer friends stumbled upon PitchWars, a mentoring program that could potentially help me improve my novel and get it ready for agents. So now it’s time to #BoostMyBio and introduce myself to them (and everyone else).

About MeFullSizeRender

My name is Sarah Tanzmann and I’m from Austria (not to be confused with Australia). I’m a student of English and American Studies at the University of Vienna and I try to surround myself with as much English as possible.

A few fun facts 

  • I’m a real Potterhead. My bookshelves are filled with way too many Harry Potter books, some even in languages that I don’t speak (because why not?)
  • German is my first language, but I haven’t read a German book in more than 5 years!!! Sorry, English is just way better.
  • I lived in the USA for a total of 18 months (Chicago, Florida, Pennsylvania) and it will forever be a home away from home.
  • I’ve kept every movie ticket I bought in the last ten years. Is that weird?

Some books I love

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda AND Leah on the Off-Beat
  • The Hate U Give
  • A Closed and Common Orbit
  • The Mortal Instruments Series

Favorite book genres

  • fantasy! (mostly in writing)
  • sci-fi (I’ve already got an idea)
  • contemporary YA

But now on to the most important part…

 

My debut novel: SEELIE PRINCESS

This YA fantasy novel is the first full length novel I’ve ever written (in English, thank God no one will ever see the ones I wrote in German). It’s the first part in a series of two called THE CROWN OF TÍR NA NÓG. It is also set in the same realm as my two short stories (click here for more info).

What’s it about?

Kayla lives in the bustling city of Chicago. She and her family moved there when her father went missing, or, as Kayla’s mother believes, died in a car accident. But Kayla’s mother thinks that faeries only exist in stories. One day, encouraged by a mysterious message she receives hidden in an acorn, Kayla embarks on a journey into the lands of the faeries to find her lost father.

What to expect

  • faeries! lot’s of them
  • f/f romance
  • strong female characters
  • a magical realm (where words such as gay and lesbian just don’t exist, because everyone is open-minded)
  • elements of Celtic mythology
  • names that are pretty on the eye but you won’t be able to pronounce them (sorry, not sorry)

Why this story is worth your time

It’s been about four years since Kayla entered my heart. Ever since then, she’s been by my side as I struggled through heart-break and depression. She gives me strength when I have none left. She’s more than a character on paper (or screen), she’s my friend.

So for four years I’ve poured my heart and soul into this novel. When I first had the idea, I had this vision of a young girl, embarking on this big journey of finding her father and falling in love for the first time. I knew from the very beginning that this novel would tackle the issues of loss and queer love. And I always knew what I did not want: a coming-out story. While Kayla has to overcome many obstacles, this isn’t one of them.

So, to summarize, SEELIE PRINCESS is a story about love, loss, and friendship, all sprinkled with a good amount of faerie dust.

Why pick me as your mentee?

I am determined and diligent. I don’t give up easily. The best example for this is my novel. It took a year to plan it, another to write it, and two more to edit it. I never rushed this, but instead took the time to show it to some beta readers and share it with fellow writers. I have spent countless hours (days, months!) with the feedback that I’ve been given. But it’s all worth it, if it helps me achieve my dream of having this book published (so I can hold it in my hands and sniff it, hihi…).

No matter how much time I’ve spent on this novel, there’s only so much I can do. I’m not a native speaker (sadly) and I’m not an experienced writer. So now I’m looking for a guiding hand who’ll help me along this crooked path to become a published author.

 


You can find me on twitter @sarah_tanzmann 

 

Flash Fiction 2018 – April

Santa Monica Pier

Flash Fiction #04: A for Attraction

New Year’s resolutions can be difficult to achieve. The same is true for my writers group’s challenge to write one piece of flash fiction each month. We don’t always hand these pieces in on time (sometimes we even skip a month), but neither of us has given up. We keep going and we keep writing. Because we all have something in common: we want to tell a story. Enjoy!


A Night at the Pier

My friend Stacy said it was the place to be on a Friday night and so I went with her. But once we got to the Santa Monica Pier, everything was as usual.

“No,” Stacy said when I pointed that out. “Because today is the day you’re finally going to ride the rollercoaster.”

I took a step away from her. “I certainly won’t,” I said. “I’m getting a churro.” I turned to walk away, but Stacy grabbed my arm.

“Listen,” she said, “my friend Meghan owed me, so I asked her to bring her brother tonight.”

“Jamie?”

Stacy grinned back at me. “Yes, and they’ll both be over at the rollercoaster in about 10 minutes. So, what do you say?”

I bit down on my lower lip, glancing over at the rollercoaster. Tiny cars with people were whizzing along the tracks. I swallowed hard. “I guess we should at least say hello, right?”

Jamie and Meghan were indeed waiting for us at the ticket window. Jamie welcomed me with a smile and a “’sup?”. I croaked back a hello.

Stacy bought four tickets and then we were in the queue. I stared up at the steel monster.

“Afraid?” Jamie asked.

I blushed. “No.”

“There’s no need to be,” he said.

The four of us would get on the next ride. The car drew up into the station, some of the passengers were laughing, others looked as if they’d seen a ghost.

“You coming?” Jamie asked. He even held out his hand to me.

One of the passengers getting off the ride laughed. “Man, I felt like I was gonna pee my pants back there!”

“Come on,” Jamie said to me. “You can do it.”

I reached out for his hand and opened my mouth to respond.

But I puked on his new vans instead.

Flash Fiction 2018 – March

Once again I am posting my flash fiction piece for March fashionably late (editing is a hassle, let me tell you!). No one ever said that a writer’s life is easy, but I love every part of it anyway 🙂 This little piece below is set in a bookstore in Chicago called Myopic Books. It’s one of my favorite book stores of all times and I miss it a lot. If you’re ever there, go check it out.

Update: You can also find MT’s flash here.


Flash Fiction #03: M for Myopic

 

Books don’t judge

Some people like books. Others adore them.

And then there is my little sister.

“Quick! They’re not open much longer,” she says.

We hurry toward a store called Myopic Books. A bell rings out as we enter. All walls are lined with shelves, displaying hundreds of books. My sister grabs me by the hand and pulls me through the store.

“This must be one hell of a book,” I say.

“You bet it is.”

We stop in front of a shelf that looks like any other in the store. A label below reads Fantasy/Sci-Fi. My sister pulls a book down and shoves it right under my face.

“Do you see?” she asks. Her eyes are huge.

I stare down at the book. It’s one of the Harry Potter’s, perhaps the first one. “What am I supposed to see?”

“The cover,” my sister says. “It’s limited edition, they only made a few thousand copies.”

“So? You’ve got all of them at home, don’t you?”

“Yes, but not this one!” She tightens her grip on the book until her knuckles turn white. “But I’ve already spent my birthday money and I was wondering…”

I raise an eyebrow. “Seriously, you’re begging me for money to buy a book you already own?”

She groans. “I knew you’d act like that!” She puts the book back and stomps off. I catch up with her right outside the store.

“I’m sorry, okay?” I say. “But, you know, you do spend a lot of time with books. Maybe, just once, you want to go outside and hang out with some other kids…”

Arms crossed in front of her chest, my sister glares at me. “You don’t get it,” she says.

“Then explain it to me.”

She bites her lips. Her eyes shimmer with tears. “It’s just…”

“Yeah?”

“The other kids are mean,” she says, her lower lip wobbling. “But books would never judge me.” A first tear trickles down her cheeks.

Before she can say anything else, I dash back into the store. They are about to close. But they give me another minute and then I step back out.

My sister hasn’t moved. She looks up with a smile. “You bought it?”

“Of course.” I hand her the book and she hugs it to her chest.


 

Here’s a little peek a this book store. Apparently I was more focused on the books than taking decent pictures 😉

 

 

Into the Dark Forest

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I have to confess something: 2017 was the year of distractions (as you can see by the lack of posts on this site). I put my novel on hold and I stopped working on The Tales of the Seelie Court. But I still kept writing and I wrote this short story called Into the Dark Forest, which features my favorite magical creatures: faeries! The characters and places and this story are not related to my other works about faeries, but I dare say it is still a magical, little piece of writing. Enjoy! 


 

Into the Dark Forest

 

It was that time of the year when the trees wore their most colorful dresses and the air chilled when the sun set. But while the sun was still up, the weather was warm and the world bathed in a golden glow. In that time of the year, the outside became Hayes’s favorite place on earth.

On one of those golden days, Hayes fled to one of the parks to escape his chaotic home. No matter how much he loved all his brothers and sisters, sometimes he longed for a short break. Here, everything was peaceful, and he could rest his back against the bark of a tree, his long, lanky legs stretched out over the foliage that covered the ground.

He kept his eyes closed so all that he could see of the world around him was the light filtering through his eyelids. He could tell that most people had already left. Apart from the occasional laughter and the rustle of the foliage as people walked through it, it was only the sounds of nature that he could hear. Birds chirping, wind shaking the leaves, and somewhere in the distance the low rumble of the afternoon traffic.

When Hayes opened his eyes again, he noticed someone who he’d never seen in this park before. It was a boy, about his age, but the complete opposite of what scrawny, dark-skinned Hayes looked like; the boy was tall, muscular, and very pale, with fair hair and a face that looked as though it was cut from white marble. Hayes was immediately struck by his extraordinary appearance and intrigued by the way he moved. The strange boy was barefooted and barely made any noise as he prowled through the park. He seemed frantic, as though he was looking for something.

Hayes sat up straight, his eyes now following the boy’s every step. The boy walked up to a tree, examined it, then shook his head and walked on. The more Hayes watched the boy, the more peculiar he appeared. His clothes were odd, too. He wore something that looked like a golden breast plate over his shirt.

Finally, the boy stopped in front of one of the largest trees in the park. He examined the bark closely, running both hands over it. Then, with a jolt, he reached up for the lowest branch and pulled it down.

Continue reading “Into the Dark Forest”

Colors

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This is a short piece of about 1000 words that I wrote more than a year ago. It is also the only piece of creative writing I ever did in the course of my studies at the University of Vienna (which, to be honest, is a shame). Our professor asked us to pick a song and transform it into a story. Back then, I had “Colors” by Halsey stuck in my head. I loved the lyrics and the melody and both gave me a clear picture of what kind of story I wanted to write. Please find the story below! 


 

Colors

Dim afternoon sunlight trickled through the cracked shutters, casting bright spots on the bed. He was lying on his back, head resting on a tattered pillow. I let my eyes drift over his bare chest, pale skin stretched over jutting bones and ribs. His jawline was dotted with black stubble.

“I’m sure he loves you. After all, he’s your brother,” I told him as I snatched the half-finished joint from his fingers.

He watched me take a drag and exhale the smoke into the air. We hadn’t opened a window in hours and it was beginning to smell badly, a mixture of weed and used bedsheets.

He scratched his chin. “My family was never the loving kind. Mother was only interested in her career. I doubt she ever realized there was a life waiting for her behind the cameras.”

I lifted the joint to my lips a second time, but he yanked it out of my hand, placing it between his own lips. He inhaled deeply, filling his body with the substance. In these short moments, when his entire being was soothed by the drug, he looked completely blissful. Broken as he was, there was still beauty in him. His eyes, even though red-rimmed, were a clear blue, like one of those marbles that I had collected as a child.

“You’re staring at me again,” he said.

Continue reading “Colors”

Flash Fiction 2018 – February

After a minor delay of only a couple of months, I can finally post this little piece of work. Even though I did write it in February, it took me until today to gather all my strength to finalize it. You know, writing a story can be so easy, the hard part is editing. Again I had help in the form of feedback provided by my lovely writers group. Please check out Jack’s and MT’s monthly flash fiction (click on the names to follow the links). And please find mine below. Enjoy!


Flash Fiction #02: F for Fedora

 

He would’ve wanted me to have it

I storm inside once the door opens.

“Where is it?”

My sister raises an eyebrow at me, softly closing the front door again. “Will you stop yelling? The kids are asleep.” She talks in the same hushed voice she’s adopted ever since the birth of her twins.

It drives me nuts. Even more so now. My hands clutch the handle of my bag. “Where is it?” I ask, my voice trembling. I don’t allow the tears to flow.

“Dana, what are you talking about?” My sister has one hand on her hip, her eyes judging me as they have had for years.

I grit my teeth. “His hat,” I say. “H-He would’ve wanted me to have it.”

My sister sighs and vanishes down the hall. When she returns she’s holding an old, tattered fedora.

Even among a thousand hats like that one, I would recognize my father’s. Nothing’s more familiar to me than all the stitches on that hat trying to hold it together.

“I just don’t get why you would make such a fuss about a dusty hat!” My sister hands it to me and I clutch it to my chest.

I cradle the hat like a baby. It still smells like him, musky and warm.

“You never understood.” I shoot my sister one last glare. Then I open the front door myself, step out and shut it with a bang.

Upstairs, the babies start crying.