Note to readers

Dear Readers and fellow bloggers,

if there is still anyone following this blog:

First, I want to apologize for not posting anything for so long. I had planned on having both an english and a german blog, but it simply doesn’t work, because it confuses people on whose blogs I comment in different countries – in fact, I confused myself in the end.
So now I turned my good old german blog into a bilingual blog and I would be very happy if you feel like visiting me at the WORDNEST.

Have a nice day!

Patricia Koelle


The Accidental Novel

In November, in the middle of working on a novel, I started to write a short story, because a protagonist appeared before my inner eye from nowhere as a complete surprise, sat himself on a paperweight on my desk, dangled his legs and looked at me expectantly, willing me to tell his story.
After a few pages I stopped because of Christmas preparations and other unforeseen things.
In January and February it was bitterly cold outside and I spent the afternoons at my desk to finish the story. And it turned out not to be so short. Suddenly it was a finished novel! This proves what surprises writing can bring. There was no plan and no plot to this story, I broke all the rules. I wrote it for myself, to enjoy, and never thought of potential readers. And yet, when I sent it to “my” publisher, he was all excited about it. It will be an ebook AND a print edition. It may even be the best thing I have ever written.
This post is supposed to encourage all of you fellow writers out there. Offer the surprises a place on your desk, and then simply have fun. As long as you sit down and write, all kinds of things may happen!

The Color Of Tomorrow

Have a look at the new Spring Issue of “From the Depths” by Haunted Waters Press.
What a lovely literary journal with a stunning design!
I am honored that my story “The Color Of Tomorrow” is part if it, as well as an author’s interview.

Soft Silver

After a rainless autumn, we have a warm winter full of a soft silver drizzle that silently and gently spreads a new kind of Christmas magic over the gardens – roses and other flowers still blooming, untouched by frost, enhanced by the muted light of December that sets them sparkling in an almost unreal way. I like it. Nature decorates with unpreposterous grandeur, sparks of hope and thanks hanging from every tiny stem.
Have a blessed and magic Christmas, everybody!

An unexpected gift

We had to remove an apple tree in our garden. Over the years it had grown much more than expected, and so a very old rose, nearly dead and hardly visible was forgotten in its shadow.
With the tree gone, the rose revived. It started to grow at the beginning of November, and now, a day before December, untouched by frost as yet, has fifteen gorgeous roses on it. A wondrous fragrance rises from them, warm and fragile, deep and beautiful – a scent I am sure only a winter rose can give, in celebration of survival, life, and the discovery of light even in dark and cold days.
My mother always told me when she came home from the war and the train carried her through a destroyed Germany, she saw a magnolia tree blooming undismayedly among the charred remains of crumbled houses. Whenever she got discouraged and lost hope and faith, she thought of that magnolia tree, and it gave her strength. Later, she planted one in our garden.
I think this winter rose will be a magnolia tree in my mind, though not the only one.

A Wonder for Writers

Ha! At long last, there is Scrivener for Windows, available HERE. (as a trial version, too.)
I was wary about the beta version, played around with it some but for serious work waited for the full version.
I thought this software would be good, but hey, nobody told me it is such FUN besides being a wonderful tool.
I’m a chaos person when writing. Notes fly about my desk like hyperactive moths. Plot ideas pool haphazardly at the bottom of overlong word documents, ending up as worms that seem unfamiliar to me and tend to knot. Index cards stick to closet doors and whiteboards, remaining there for years mixed with new ones until I hardly recognize them or remember to which manuscript they belong.
But NOW, there is SCRIVENER! There is a corkboard, ready at a click, where I can move around at will index cards in any size, amount and color I want, stamped with “First draft” or “Idea” or whatever I desire, and with custom-colored pins sticking in them.
There is a folder for research. There is s place for “document notes” that stay with a document and show up neatly at the side when I’m working on it (Only if I want, but I WANT!) There is also a space for “Project notes”. What a help!
I can change around everything at a click and have it exactly the way I want. The corkboard alongside the document, the screen split either vertically or horizontally – or two documents alongside eath other – or just the document I’m working on, without any distractions. Then there are the fun AND useful gimmicks like session targets and a name generator.
It is all very easy to get the hang of; it works intuitively, and there is a short tutorial, clear and to the point.
Hey, I can shove everything around at will and no stickies drop from the desk to get lost under the carpet or stick to my shoe soles. This software enhances the fun and sparkle in writing, saves time and helps me improve my manuscripts, because I have an overview at all times. Editing is easier and so is compiling.
Thanks all of you who created this wonderful tool! One so seldom gets exactly what one wants and needs – even before one knew what one wanted! So, it’s pure joy. I’m going to wallow, and I hope many writers will enjoy!

We are so rich

My love and I sitting in the garden on a balmy October Sunday, he in the amazing new wheelchair that opens up new paths – but at the moment our garden is paradise. Surrounded by trees spun of dancing gold, a carpet of gold and flame around us, the taste of golden apples of our own harvest on our tongues, church bells and birds in the background, the hum of last bees and the glitter of a dragonfly in flight. What more could one want?
Okay, it would be nice if somebody would want to read my books now and then. But it could hardly make me any happier.
I enjoy the scene deeply, almost afraid to breathe in case that makes the moment pass faster. It is so precious, so fragile.

Very good advice

I have had trouble concentrating this summer, getting distracted and discouraged easily and wearied by the maze and tangle of daily tasks that sap time and energy from my writing. These days I stumbled upon very simple and very sound advice in the post of a fellow blogger, which was just what I needed to remind me and point me the right way again, so I copied and printed it and hung it in the middle of my project wall, just to keep me on track. Thanks, Oliver. You wanted a picture of it, so here it is:

New Stories…

I put a lot of work into my writing this summer, partly to cope with the loss of my father. Three german books are going into print. I also translated my favorite Christmas stories, which are now available as english ebook.
I haven’t had much time and strength left for blogging, but I hope to find more time for this now. The wistful and glorious magic of my favorite season, fall, calls for words, pictures and joy in both.

Here is a sample:

Treasure in the Christmas tree

Freddie Johansen scratched his head. Doubtfully he stared at the Christmas tree that stood in his low-ceilinged room like an unwelcome bum who had just come in for a moment to warm up. A complete stranger. Outside a storm growled and threw the thin blanket of snow about as if the island underneath was tossing and turning in a worried sleep.
His great-niece Nancy and her slick boyfriend had blown in like a snowdrift an hour ago, hastily pulled the tree from the roof of their car and raised it in the corner of his living room before he grasped what they were doing. They strangled it with a string of purple electric lights that flashed on and off. Then they hung outrageously fat red glass balls on the end of every branch. Freddie thought he could hear the tree groaning.
“You shall have it nice and Christmassy, Uncle Freddie,” said Nancy, hugged him tight and announced that she was pregnant and he would become a godfather in the summer. “And that’s why we spontaneously decided to go on a trip this Christmas. So we have no use for the tree after all.” Before he had a chance to say anything, they were gone.
Freddie was left with the tree. He couldn’t remember whether he had ever had a Christmas tree in his house. He allowed himself a whisky and tried to concentrate on the murder mystery on TV. But the tree troubled him. It felt as if somebody stood there, uninvited.
“What am I going to do with you?” Freddie asked of the tree. He turned off the flashing lights. But this made the tree look desolate, so he took the string off. As he hid it in a cupboard, an envelope full of worthless, brightly colored stamps fell out. Somebody had given them to him for a long gone birthday. He had never discovered why. Now he emptied them onto the table, licked them one by one and stuck them onto the huge, faceless red balls. This gave them character and he began to feel friendlier towards them. He found a handful of real wax candles in the same cupboard and fastened them to the tree with the help of ruthlessly bent paper clips. He hated electric lights on holidays. Now he felt better and was able to concentrate on the TV show in time to find out who the murderer was.
The next day was Christmas Eve. Freddie turned up the Christmas music on the radio, ate cinnamon cookies that Anna from next door had brought him and watched the warm, flickering glow of the candles. What had been so good this year that they had such reason to shine? Lately a fog was spreading in his memories. Its grey grew denser with time, swallowing the days that had just passed. He clearly remembered the taste of the raisins in his pockets in school days and the tanned knees of the neighbor’s daughter he had played with in summers more than half a century ago. But he didn’t know what he had eaten yesterday, what the weather report had said and he forgot that his friends were coming for a card game. He didn’t know what kind of summer it had been, wet or dry, warm or sunny. It had disappeared. Nothing seemed to be left of the past year but another gap in his teeth. It scared him. Freddie stretched his hand towards the nearest candle. Its warmth did him good.
Later he carefully blew out the candles and went to bed early, because his old friends Arnie and Pete were coming the next day. This time he didn’t forget because he had stuck a huge note to the door of the fridge. “Card game on Christmas!!!”
Arnie came in with his heavy tread that made the floor vibrate. The needles on the tree trembled. Arnie pointed to the garish balls with the stamps on them. “Hey Freddie, that’s great. After Christmas you can put them in the mail.”
Pete had brought ice-cream. Twenty-five portions of green ice cream. “Pistachio. It’s a bit much”, Arnie admitted, “but it was on sale. Put it in your freezer until our next meeting. It’s always empty anyway, isn’t it?”
Arnie and Pete gave Freddie an afternoon full of laughter. He forgot the fog lurking in his mind. Forgot it as he forgot other things. But he remembered their years on the herring boat when Arnie and Pete, who were younger, spun familiar yarns about them.
Later, at the door, they thumped him on the shoulder affectionately. “Well, Freddie, Merry Christmas and have a great New Year! We’ll be seeing you!” The winter night swallowed their steps. Only snatches of a sailor’s song drifted back to Freddie, who struggled to shut the weather-beaten door against the wind, thinking about their casual words.
A whole new year. Wouldn’t that be too much for him? He pushed the weighing doubt aside and hoped that the fog would at least hide that, too.
This evening he was glad of the Christmas tree’s company. They had gotten used to each other.
When he tidied the kitchen in the morning, he found the leftover wrappings of the ice cream. Each portion had been packed in a transparent plastic ball that could be opened in the middle. The halves were connected by a tiny hinge. He thought them rather nice, washed them carefully and put them in the cupboard. He seldom threw things away that might still be of use.
New Year came and went, and not long afterwards he discovered the first Easter eggs in the store.
Freddie had taken the stamp-covered balls and the candle stumps off the Christmas tree and carried it into a corner of the yard, but he didn’t have the heart to chop it up and add it to the wood pile. He thought the tree still looked green and alive. Sure, it appeared a little tired, just like Freddie felt. Its needles were bent like Freddie’s back, but they still clung firmly to the branches. Freddie began to have a chat with the tree off and on. He told it of this and that. Maybe the tree retained traces of green because it was allowed to share Freddie’s life. On the day after such a one-sided conversation, Freddie often couldn’t remember quite what he had told the tree. This grieved him.
“It’s a good thing you can’t laugh at me”, he said sadly and looked piercingly at the tree in case it dared to try. On the lowest branch he spotted a forgotten red ball covered in disintegrating African stamps. While putting it into the cupboard with its fellows he found an idea.
From that day on he sat down every evening after supper and wrote on a red, blue or green piece of paper what had been the best thing that day. Every second Sunday he made himself an especially good cup of tea, allowed himself a piece of cake from Finch’s bakery and read his notes from the past two weeks. He chose the experience most dear to him, like “Met Bertha at the cemetery and took a spontaneous walk to the lighthouse with her.” Many things he had already forgotten and was amazed at what had happened in only two weeks.
He folded the chosen note carefully and put it into one of the transparent ice cream package balls. Before he snapped shut the two halves of the ball he pulled a thread through the hinge. Then he laid it in a box marked with three huge exclamation marks. Whenever he ran out of balls he ate one of the leftover portions of Christmas ice cream from his freezer…

You will find the end of this story in the ebook above.

Words in the wind

We hear of a heat wave in the USA, while here in Berlin, Germany a cold, rainy July spits puddles around usually dusty street corners.
This morning I peered through a silver curtain of rain and saw the rocking chair in the garden moving in a serene rythm. The wind was sitting in it comfortably, telling stories to the sunflowers which were bent attentively over it by the weight of the rain. Maybe it was spinning a yarn about the winter they will never see.
The scene reminded me that often it is the silent, wordless stories that are worth listening to.