The Future Book Store

Bookstores are doomed, they say. They are disappearing at an alarming rate, they say. All over the world, big book seller chains are in trouble.

They blame Amazon.

And it’s true that a lot of book buying has shifted online. Ebooks are only part of that phenomenon, even physical books are bought online more and more.

It makes sense to me. It’s so much easier to find books online, to find recommendations – and last but not least, ebooks take almost no time for delivery. It’s also a rather comfortable way of getting new reading fodder.

In fact, I have to admit that I have stayed away from big bookstores in the last years or so. I have walked through some small ones and left without buying. These days, I feel overwhelmed by looking at thousands of books that don’t interest me while those fields that do interest me are not stocked. So I go online.

And yet, for some reason, I kept thinking about a weird question:

What would a bookstore have to look like so I would enjoy going there? Weiterlesen

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Two Things Happened

Writer

Writer

They say to never apologize after a long break in blogging. They say to just pick up the pieces and continue as if nothing ever went wrong… lah di dah.

Well, that doesn’t feel right. You deserve to know what really happened:

The afternoon after I published the post with swords (in October), the school horse I usually ride decided to play rodeo, right at the end of the lesson. He pitched me off right over his neck and head, after bucking several times first.

I managed to turn the fall slightly and slammed down on my right shoulder. My right collar bone took the full brunt of the impact. In fact, it splintered quite impressively. I ended up in ER, got some painkillers, was sent home with a special clavicle bandage and an appointment for surgery a few days later. Weiterlesen

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The Trick with Short Stories

Manuscript

Manuskript *

The other day, a friend called me and asked for help. She had been given an assignment: Write a short story.

If you ask me, that’s a pretty tall assignment – and it was given in a foreign language class, on top. But then, I was often asked in school to write a tale, without getting guidelines. Teachers rarely write stories, so maybe they assume that creating a little short story is a snap, precisely because they are short.

Well, it isn’t.

And here’s what I told my friend – she needed simple guidelines:

A short story is about an extraordinary experience of the Main Character.

That’s the foundation. And yet what exactly that extraordinary experience is completely depends on the character and on what kind of story you want to tell. Weiterlesen

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Behold! Another woman!

Seax

Seax

I found myself grinning wickedly when I discovered another archaeology article this morning. This one is about an Etruscan grave. When it was opened for the first time, it contained the remains of two people, a lance, a vase and some jewelry.

Yes, they thought. Classic. An Etruscan prince on his own, wide slab with the lance, and his wife on the second, narrower slab. How romatic to have the two of them in a single grave, with all the goods in place. And news of a great Etruscan Prince made the rounds.

Exept it wasn’t. Weiterlesen

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Coming Home for Christmas

Here’s a little flash fiction piece I wrote for today’s blog event on Turning the Pages Books. They provided this picture as a photo prompt. Alas, I do not know who to credit for it.

photo prompt

Coming home for Christmas

   Peter lingered at the hedge surrounding the garden. Weiterlesen

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Behold, they were women!

hand print

Hand print

Imagine the Stone Age. What do you see? Well, the usual picture is men as hunters, inventors, protectors and artists. Because most of the scenes in the cave paintings show animals and hunting, it was thought that the artists were men, as well.

Of course.

And all those handprints found on the walls were made by men, too. And the small ones among them must have belonged to boys being introduced to the art. Makes sense, right? You can probably even see them in your imagination, sitting or standing in the flickering torch light, mixing paint, drawing those animals, being creative. Male heads, shaggy beards, possibly even chanting hunting magic in low, deep voices.

Guess what? Wrong image. Weiterlesen

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The 52-hertz-whale

Signal of the 52-hertz whale

Signal of the 52-hertz whale

I’m quite excited about finding an article about this whale on Wikipedia. Because this fellow is the inspiration for Pu’ukani’s Song. I don’t remember where I first read about him.

Basically, they call him the loneliest whale in the world. That’s because he sings at a frequency that no other whale uses. He’s unique. And possibly lonely. And still alive, they have found his song under the sea every year.

He lives in the Pacific, travelling as far north as Alaska. And that’s about all we know about him. He might be a fin whale – blue whale hybrid, or  have a malformation. Even so, he has grown and matured, and the voice has lowered slightly. So much for the science.

For me, just the idea of such a giant singing every year, possibly hoping to attract a mate or maybe at least some company is quite inspiring. Letting my mind wander, it goes into imagining a culture of whales, a society with rules, traditions, good people and possibly bad people. All of it under water, dominated by the environment, floating, with sounds that echo through the vast blue.

That’s what reading Wikipedia can do for me. What inspiration did you find on Wikipedia?

Image Source: Wikipedia, owner: NOAA

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Did Wild Horses Survive in America, after all? Probably not.

Horse Skeleton

Skeleton of an Arabian Horse *

Horses can make headlines. Even dead ones!

Today, I found an article that is a few months old. It’s about the discovery of the skeletons of two horses and one donkey in California, obviously in ritual burial. Radio carbon dating puts the death of the horses sometime between 1625 and 1705 which is about 50 years before Spaniards created the first missions in California.

And of course, now people are speculating that wild horses never went extinct in the Americas, after all. What if they survived in small pockets? Weiterlesen

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Winter Baby

Winter Baby

Winter Baby

Here I give you my new flash fiction tale, Winter Baby. Never mind the cryptic list at the top, that’s for the anthology we’re building. In fact, you can follow the link at the bottom to read more of the stories.

Genre: Fantasy
Author: Hannah Steenbock (which is a pen name)
eBook: Yes
Dedication: To all those school horses that have born me in my lessons Weiterlesen

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Whales and Poison

Blue whales

Blue whales on a Faroer Stamp

Okay, this story is a little gross. Or maybe a lot. But because it’s about whales, I really have to share it here.

It’s also about earwax. In the ear tubes of blue whales. Ugh.

But you see, that ear plug, as the scientists call it, is deposited throughout a whale’s life. And it faithfully reflects the hormones, nutrients and poisons such a whale has coursing through its body throughout its entire life. And that’s quite a record, after all, those giants can live for decades.

And now, they have analysed the ear plug of a fairly young whale that was washed ashore after being killed by a ship stike (Luahine, anyone?). And what they found was … well, is a little shocking for me. Weiterlesen

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