13 May 2017

Dreamercialism (a short story)




I am walking down the streets of neon lights and gleaming billboards. A huge greasy doughnut is following me up to the corner of the street, blabbering on about his lemon custard and chocolate topping. I run away. The sparkly billboards dazzle me. I squint, then close my eyes. Someone shoves a flier into my hand. It offers a seventy percent discount for a new haircut. I crumple the flier and toss it into a bin nearby. The bin is glittering with red and blue stripes: an ad for a sugar-free chewing gum. I scowl and keep walking.

A giant slice of pizza is waving its gloved hand at me. I need to try their new pepperoni with eighty percent discount, it tells me. If I bring a friend, the walking slice of pizza promises two bottles of beer.

I slog away through the forest of billboards. They are square, round, rectangular; they glimmer, they blaze, they glow and sparkle and hurt my eyes. They are offering me the best, the finest, the latest—all that I need for happiness.

I hang my head down and run.

I stumble upon a friend under a striped tent. He's smiling. He’s come across the best hot dog stand in the town and offers me a sausage drowning in mayonnaise.

“Give it a try,” he says. “I've just found this place. Saw it in my dream.”

I look at the hot dog in my hand. It’s big and greasy and smells of spice. Suddenly, the pink sausage opens its eyes and stares at me.

“Did you see me in your dream too?” it asks in a squeaky voice.

I gasp and drop that terrible hot dog to the ground. The billboards are still blazing.

“get noticed!” says a blond woman from a banner. She's clad in a red dress, showing off her long legs and red patent shoes.

“let’s shoot ‘em up,” says a muscular hunk with a smartgun. I think I know him, have seen his stony face on the posters at every movie theater.

“get slim with magic tea,” promises a man with a turban on his head.

A little girl on another billboard is throwing a tantrum, her face a mix of rage and apocalyptic ire. The billboard blinks and the wild girl is replaced with a smiling little angel, pressing a gorgeous doll to her chest.

“our toys change your kids,” says the caption.

The billboards begin to swell and rise up into the air. I hear their endless buzzing as they fill the space above me, forcing me to retreat, making me feel small, insignificant.

“the best prices.”

“the biggest discounts.”

“buy the cheapest.”

“buy three for the price of one.”

The air is lacking, I can’t breathe. The billboards are choking me and the hot dog on the ground is telling me to pick it up and have a bite.

“Try me,” it's yelling. “Twenty-five percent more meat. Try me! Try me! Try me!”

 

* * *

I wake up covered in sweat. I know it's morning, but I can't see the sun. I have to trust the clock. I see very little sky. It's hidden behind soaring billboards. Hundreds, thousands of billboards.

I want to stay at home forever, to hide from all that glow. I need a space free from commercials, but home is not safe either. My doorway is littered with fliers, my post box is crammed with visiting cards. My message box is sinking in unread messages about vacations and Viagra.

I'm walking down the streets again. Buses and trams are advertising lipstick and toilet paper. I’m constantly chased by walking cellphones and anthropomorphous sausages. A food cutter and a talking tire join them.

I run.                                                                   

There’s a familiar face around the corner, waiting for the doors of the movie theater to open. I know her, we used to work together in a discount store before I quit.

“Heard about this movie in my dream,” she says. “Can you believe it? Talk about mystery.”

“Talk about trouble,” I think, but say nothing. I have dreamed about that movie too.

My head starts spinning, overwhelmed by the perfume odors, the smells of food, the sparkling jewelry and neon lights. Fish cans and mascara bottles chase me down the streets, trying to foist on me their fliers, testers, and discount cards. I avoid them. I walk faster. I run.

It’s night, but I don’t see the moon. The sky is shielded with blazing lights: red, blue, yellow, green, pink, purple; they mingle, they shine, they sparkle and lure me into the kingdom of commercials.

“You need us,” they say, “We’ll make you happy.”

 

* * *

I go to bed. I sleep, but don’t rest. I see them again. Fliers float in the air. People from the banners wink at me. Posters fill my last free space.

I wake up covered in sweat. I don’t want commercials in my dreams. My dreams are my last haven, they belong to me, they can't be rented!

I roll over in my bed and press the remote controller with my elbow. The TV turns on. The light pierces my eyes. Soon they adjust and I see commercials.

Someone on the TV talks about a revolutionary advertising method. I wonder what else they’ve come up with. Was there anything else left? There’s no more space. Every inch of this town is covered with billboards. Banners shield the sky, posters cover the streets and pavements. Everything talks, walks and sells.

“Yes, this is a true revolution,” says the man from the TV. “We need all the space. We need to use it all. Every inch of it!”

I wait impatiently for him to go on. I need to hear what they have done. “No,” I think, “not that. Not my sanctuary.”

“yessss!" he yells. "We're advertising in dreams! An expensive service, but worth every penny.”

I wake up covered in sweat. Burgers and cupcakes chased me while I slept.

I pull the drawer open and take out my gun. I load it and press it to my temple. I don’t want to shoot. Once I used to love life.

I lower the gun down and look out the window. I see billboards. Where are my stars? I don’t want these shiny banners, I want stars. Please, give me back my stars.

I run out, the gun squeezed in my hand. I try not to look at the banners. I don’t want a new hairdryer, a new microwave oven, a new car... I don't want their discounts, I don't care for their sales.

They have stolen my stars from me.

I wander down the streets for hours, but can’t find a free space. We need to use every inch, I remember the man's words from the TV.

Up in the air I see balloons with ads; hang gliders with commercials cross the littered sky. Flags flip over my head. Something crumples under my feet. Once autumn leaves, now just fliers and discount cards.

I shove the gun into my mouth. This time I don't hesitate.

 

* * *

It's black at first, empty. No sound. No smell. Nothing. I keep my eyes shut for some time, to be sure no one’s trying to sell me anything.

I open my eyes and feel them well with tears. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen the sky. It's beautiful. I see a sunrise, and I see the stars. I don’t know how it can be, but maybe the rules here are different. Or maybe somehow I have deserved this much beauty.

The breeze caresses my face. The hill I’m standing on is covered with daisies. They tremble with every gust of the wind.

“Couldn't take it anymore?”

I turn around. The voice belongs to an old friend of mine. He's been gone for three months. A suicide. He's leaning against the tree and smiling knowingly. Then he bends down and helps me to my feet.

“I needed freedom,” I say.

I look around again, to be sure I’m free. I take a deep breath. The air is clean, not stinking with perfume and roasted chicken. The tree is not plastic, the grass is not synthetic turf. The sun is up and is warmer than the light bulbs. I pick up a daisy. I haven’t touched a real flower for so long. They didn’t grow in my town anymore, they were imported.

I want to go down the hill, but my friend stops me.

“Stay here,” he says.

“Why?”

“This is the last hill,” he says. “The last free space.”

The air clogs in my throat and my hands quake. “In the afterlife?” I ask.

He nods.

“But why?” I yell. “Why in the afterlife?”

“It was the last free space,” he says. “Every space must be used.”          

 



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11 April 2017

The Road to Magic (Ch1, P1)




The door was locked.
It had to be the one Aram was looking for. All the other gate doors inside that fern thicket were open, leading either to the mountains, or back into the village. But this low wicket gate with a small keyhole didn’t seem as simple as the rest of the doors. Firstly, it was forged of black metal and decorated with ornaments in the center: a broomstick, a cauldron, and a cat, and this kind of ornaments were not fit to the courtyard of the old church. And secondly, when Aram crawled closer to the door, he could hear a babble of a stream, even though there was no river within a radius of five miles. Yes, that was the door he needed, the door which, as Grandpa Kevork had been promising all those years, would take him to a place he would never want to leave again. The place where he would find the answers.
The door was surrounded with a thicket so dense there was no way to climb over or walk around it. The only way to get to the other side was through the door. Aram snapped his head left and right, but there was no key. He looked back, thought about running home after tools, but feared of losing the way back to the door, which he had found after crawling through fern and thorn bushes for the last two hours.
Someone laughed inside the bushes. Flabbergasted, Aram pressed his ear to the door. He still could hear the babble of the water, but he was sure that the laughter had come from his side of the door, and so close, that had it been someone from the village Aram would have noticed him.
“Who’s there?” Aram asked.
Laughter again, this time right under his palm. Aram gawked at the ground where something small and shiny fluttered into the withered bushes. A bit of earth seemed to have been dug up by tiny hands. Aram touched the small hole, felt something hard and pulled it out. It was a small key and without hesitation Aram shoved it into the keyhole. It fitted. Aram took a deep breath and pushed the door open.
Even though all that he had seen around the door was fern and thorn bushes drying under the scorching August sun, Aram found himself inside a plaited tunnel of yellow marigolds and white hydrangeas, with a piercing sunlight awaiting him on the other side. He thought about getting rid of his backpack, which hindered his movements inside that narrow tunnel, but immediately changed his mind. If Grandpa Kevork had told him to take the backpack, then he would be needing it.
A greening clearing welcomed him on the other side, with chamomiles trembling in the gentle wind. But it wasn’t the unfamiliar clearing that took his breath away, but the mountains surrounding that clearing. Aram had grown up in highlands, and knew each crag and hill of his village as well as a bird knows its nest. But the chains of peaks stretching before his eyes were not those he had been seeing every day for the last thirteen years. They were higher, overgrown with forests, their tops slumbering under a layer of white snow. Panic-stricken, Aram turned his head around, hoping to find a familiar sight: There was a woodland he didn’t know, an unfamiliar river was snaking across the rocks, and he was standing on an unknown chamomile-covered clearing. Even the clouds were different…
Aram froze. What he saw made him doubt his sanity. If he tried hard, he might find an explanation for the sudden change of his village’s settings, but for the life of him, Aram could not explain how a castle so big and majestic could have grown up in mere seconds. Or was it not a castle at all? What were constructions this massive called? It wasn’t just one, but more like five castles grouped together, carved right from a great rock that served as a resting board for that colossal back overgrown with towers so high their sharp roofs scratched the sky and went beyond it. Aram had never in his life seen anything that massive and mesmerizing at the same time. For many years he had been falling asleep to Grandpa Kevork’s fairy tales about a land filled with wonders he had never heard of before, of creatures he had never seen, and of the day he would become a part of it. Aram’s heart fluttered against his ribs. No matter how beautiful Grandpa’s fairy tales had seemed, to him they had always been fibs, splendid stories meant to put him to sleep.
“They were not fibs,” Aram whispered to himself, his heart beating as fast as ever. And if the castle, the ‘source of great knowledge’, as Grandpa called it in his fables, existed, then so did the rest.
Aram let out a nervous giggle. He knew it was a dream, but such a beautiful one that he wished to see more of what his own imagination had prepared for him before awakening.
Had he fallen asleep while looking for the door, or had the door been a dream too?
Doesn’t matter, Aram thought, and squeezing the shoulder straps of his backpack, he hurried down the slope. Soon he saw the high stone wall circling the castle and the paved roads stretching to the widely open gate. He could even hear the sound of the waves breaking against the rocks, but the sight of the sea was shielded by the enormous castle.
Aram stepped on one of the paths stretching to the gate. He saw boys and girls like him walking happily into the courtyard. Well, they were mostly like him, if Aram did not take into consideration that some of them had big or pointy ears, some were strangely short, and others seemed to have stepped out of century-old books.
Two giant oaks flanked the castle gates through which Aram walked into the courtyard, once again marveling at his own imagination. A deep green maze rose on the castle grounds that was covered with emerald grass and dotted with blooming flowers of summer. The hedge of the maze was almost eight feet in height, and a great part of the grounds was hidden behind the yew walls, unlike the bronze fountain that was standing proudly right in front of the gate. It reminded Aram of a merry-go-round carousel, but instead of horses and lions there were bronze witches on flying broomsticks spinning above the fountain’s pool, and strips of sparkling water were gushing down from the cauldrons in their hands. A curved pole rose near the fountain, with nearly two dozen arrows sticking out of it, telling Aram to head to the left if he needed the Bakery or the Ballei Hall, and to the right, if he was looking for the Arena. The Armory and Broomstick Storage were in the northeast, but in case Aram needed the Girls’ Dormitory, he’d have to walk to the northwest. The biggest arrow with the word ACADEMY glowing across it pointed forward.
Aram passed the fountain, staring at the wooden stands with motley awnings, where the young people lingered and scanned the thick journals lying open on the desks. With the grounds full of people minding their own business, Aram was the only clueless one. Now, closer to the castle, he took a long look at its massive front base with stone stairs leading to a wooden door and two adjusting six-story buildings on its left and right that connected to the castle with three rows of stone pillars. Two enormous knights in silver armor had crossed their spears over the castle door, which was so tall and big that even without climbing up the stairs Aram could see the engravings etched all over its length, the mermen and mermaids with scaled tails, the centaurs shooting arrows and fauns playing the lutes, and the already familiar broomstick, cauldron and cat chiseled on the door’s center. Six statues flanked the entrance, three on the right and three on the left, but only two of them resembled humans. The other four either had pointy ears or a horned head, or stood on hoofs instead of feet or were half the human size.
Walking slowly across the castle grounds while not taking his eyes off the statues in front of the entrance, Aram stumbled upon a lonely willow leaning against the yew wall, with a trimmed bench under it. A woman was sitting on the bench, her black hair flowing down and pooling on the ground. The longer Aram gazed at her back, the more he couldn’t take his eyes off the dots sparkling above her long thick hair. The woman had her eyes closed and was holding a book in her hand, but instead of scanning the pages, she was sliding her forefinger over the letters. And what from the distance had seemed to Aram sparkling dots turned out to be butterflies, or similar winged creatures, fluttering over the woman’s hair and plaiting narrow strips of her tresses into long braids. Aram gasped with bewilderment, and even though his voice had been low, the woman opened her eyes and stared at him.
“Yes,” she said. “Can I help you?”
This time Aram’s gasp was louder. He felt sick in his gut at the sight of the woman’s eyes. They were very much like the eyes of any other human being, with the only difference that hers were white, devoid of irises.
“Don’t be scared, child,” she spoke in a gentle tone of voice. “If you have any questions, I can help you.”
The dream was getting more and more bizarre, Aram thought, retreating away from the willow while keeping his eyes on the woman on the bench and the winged fairies plaiting her hair. Pacing backwards, he bumped into someone and heard him hit the ground with a low ‘oy.’ Aram turned around. There was a blond boy sitting on the ground and looking up at him with his deep blue eyes.
“Oh!” Aram hurried to help him to his feet.
The boy rose and glanced at Aram from head to feet. “Govorish po Russki?” he asked.
Even though Aram was fluent in Russian, he began stammering under his breath, until the boy spoke again.
“Maybe English?”
“Umm, yes,” Aram said at last.
“Did you just arrive at the Academy?”
“Academy?” Aram squinted at the boy.
“Yes, the Academy.”
Aram glanced at the castle, then back at the boy. “Who are you?”
The boy chuckled. “Nikolai Dimitrov, from Russia. Kolya for family, Nick for friends. And you?”
Aram frowned deeper. Somehow everything happening around him didn’t seem like a dream anymore. “Is this…” he began, then stopped. Of course it was all a dream, though a vivid one.
“Wait a minute,” Nikolai said, “do you know where you are?”
Aram had nothing to answer.
Nikolai chuckled louder. “How did you get in here?”
“Through a door,” Aram answered quickly.
“That’s right. So did I. Then you’re one of us.”
“One of you?”
“Soon to be magicians. Come on, buddy, don’t be so thick.”
“I…” Aram stammered again. “I don’t understand.”
“No worries,” Nikolai giggled merrily, “you’ll understand everything soon. Just try not to gape like that. It’s not polite, you see. By the way, you still haven’t told me your name.”
“Aram, from Armenia,” he mumbled, offering his hand. Nikolai glanced at Aram’s outstretched arm, but his right hand stayed inside the pocket of his pants.
“Nice to meet you, Aram,” he said, clapping Aram friendly on the back. “Call me Nick. You have to be thirteen, right?”
Aram nodded, still confused.
“So am I. Know what that means?”
Aram shook his head.
“It means we’re gonna be in the same class. You and I and everyone else here who’s thirteen.”
“This is a school?” Aram asked, glancing once again at the castle.
“A school?” Nick sniggered. “No, my friend, you have come to the Academy of Lost Knowledge. Or as the common folk call it, the Witchcraft Academy.”
Aram’s mouth hang open. “A witchcraft what?”
Nick glanced at Aram as if he had just broken out of a mental hospital. “Aram, wake up,” he said, putting his left hand on Aram’s shoulder and smiling widely. “If you have found the road to the Academy, then you are going to be a magician. No, you’re not dreaming. Yes, this is for real. Here, let me help you.” Nick gave Aram a quick, painful pinch on the hand. Aram winced.
“Believe me now?” Nick asked happily, and hurried to the biggest stand with a great journal left open in the middle. “We need to sign up first,” he told Aram, queuing in line to get to the journal. “I know, ‘cause I asked one of the third years. She was also from Russia, a very nice girl, gave me a lot of necessary info. Unfortunately she couldn’t walk with me through the sign up process, said she had to go after her books. Anyone from your country?” Nick looked inquiringly at Aram.
He shrugged. “I don’t know… guess not.”
“No worries. I’m sure others here are nice too. Magicians are supposed to be nice, aren’t they?” Nick said, while Aram pinched his hand two more times.
“There it is,” Nick said happily, reaching the journal and picking up the quail pen. “Nikolai Dimitrov, Russia…” he mumbled under his breath, writing in the journal, then moved aside and gestured for Aram to do the same.
“Aram Nazarethian,” Aram jotted down his name, then added his home address and put his signature next to his name. “What now?” he asked Nick as they moved away from the sign-up stand.
“Tatiana said the staff will arrange the class timetables and hand them to us tomorrow.”
Aram shut his eyes, took a deep breath then looked around again. He was still in the middle of the castle grounds, among the greening maze and the colorful stands. “We’re really going to study here? Study magic?”
“I don’t understand,” Nick said, “if you’re here, then how come you’ve never heard of the Academy?”
“And you? How did you come to know about it?” Aram asked, walking with Nick across the grounds.
“My Yaga had told me.”
“Your who?”
“My Gramma. She’s a… umm… a witch.”
“Your Grandmother’s a witch!”
“Yes, but don’t think of her as of an old ugly witch who steals kids to eat them. My Yaga is great. She knows a lot of things, and she’s shared with us stories about the Academy. So many that I chose to study here instead of our local school of witchcraft.”
“Your local…?” Aram shook his head, as if trying to rid it of crazy thoughts. He wasn’t dreaming and he could feel the elation growing inside him. All the dreams he had seen, all the stories he had heard, turned out it had all been true.
“Look there!” Nick shouted, pointing at the other side of the grounds. “I can’t believe it!”
And both ran to the fence behind which four boys were doing their best to hold the reins of a strangely shaped black stallion that was kicking its way out of their hold. Aram saw that it was an arena with audience seats on its three sides, and a stable on its north. The stable door was left open. It seemed to Aram that the boys had taken the stallion outside without evaluating their strength, as the animal seemed too sturdy for them. While three of the boys tried to hold the reins, the fourth one leaped on the stallion’s back and got hold of its neck. And then something amazing happened. The stallion whinnied and reared and two gigantic wings spread open on its sides. They were huge, made of lengthy black feathers that blazed like tar under the sunlight.
“Pegasus,” Aram whispered in awe. He and Nick climbed over the fence and paced closer to the Pegasus which was still kicking and trying to throw its rider to the ground.
“Cillian, watch out!” one of the boys yelled to the rider. The latter looked smugly at the three lads around him.
“Step away, I’m going to make her fly.”
“Think he can do that?” Nick asked, not taking his eyes off the winged stallion.
Aram could not speak. He had been riding horses since childhood, but this animal, it was something else, something so unbelievable he doubted any human could tame it.
Maybe that’s what the magicians ride? Aram thought, staring open-mouthed at the Pegasus and its rider. The lad who had straddled the Pegasus did not seem to be able to tame it. The Pegasus kept kicking and rearing, but refused to fly despite the rider’s orders and body language.
“I want to get closer,” Nick said, taking careful steps towards the Pegasus.
“It’s not a good idea,” Aram told him, nevertheless following him closely. “It’s annoyed and won’t fly, but will give you a nice kick if you go too close.”
Nick stopped a few feet away from the Pegasus. The boys around it had stepped back too, yelling instructions to the rider that seemed to annoy him greatly.
“I know what I’m doing,” he kept shouting back, “just step away and I’ll tame her!”
The Pegasus soared at last. But it wasn’t the desired flight the rider had been expecting. It soared ten feet into the air, then sunk down at the five boys standing now in a group. While four of them jumped to the right, Nick leaped to the left, almost getting under the front hoofs. The Pegasus saw him and reared in the air. The rider hardly stayed in the saddle, and Nick got so scared he tripped and spread over the grass, then hid his face behind his arms, for the first time pulling his right hand out of his pocket.
 Aram rushed to Nick’s aid and began dragging him away. The Pegasus was still whinnying, flapping its wide wings and trying to get rid of the rider pressing on its back.
“You lousy cripple!” the rider shouted. “Get the hell out of my sight!”
Nick’s face turned crimson, and before he managed to shove his hand back into his pocket Aram noticed that Nick’s right arm ended not with a palm, but with a stump.
“That’s right,” the rider yelled after Nick, who was hurrying away from the arena. “Who the hell lets freaks into the Academy?”
Aram looked at Nick’s hunched back, then turned to the Pegasus and without giving it a second thought, lurched at the rider, grabbed his leg, pulled it out of the spur, and threw the lad to the ground. The Pegasus reared again and flapped its wings, creating a wind so strong that it sent Aram backwards to the ground. The Pegasus hovered up into the sky.
“No!” the rider shouted. Then he looked at Aram and so full of malice was his glance that a shudder ran down Aram’s spine. “You will answer for this,” he muttered through clenched teeth. Aram had just gotten on his feet when the rider ran into his chest and they both tumbled down on the grass. “Do you even know what you’ve done, you idiot!” the rider was shouting. “How will I get her back?”
Aram gripped his tormentor’s neck and held it in a chokehold. They rolled over the grass, hitting and punching each other. Then voices sounded nearby, hands and legs came into view, and someone began dragging Aram away from the rider.
“Leave me,” the rider was telling his friends. “Let me break his head!”
 Aram was trying to get free and get back into the fight, but at least two pairs of hands were holding him back.
“Stop it,” someone spoke in his ear. “You’ll get expelled even before the Initiation. Stop it, calm down, he’s not worth it.”
Aram stopped resisting and the hands that were holding him let him go.
“I’ll remember your ugly face,” the rider cried out, pointing a finger at Aram. “I’ll turn your life into hell.”
His three friends threw a menacing glance at Aram and all four left the arena. Aram looked at the two lads who had kept him back. Both were tall, one had bright auburn hair, the other a few shades darker. Nick was there too, looking guilty.
“My fault,” he mumbled.
“Absolutely not,” Aram reassured him.
Nick bashfully looked away.
“Did you calm down?” the red-haired lad asked Aram.
Aram nodded. “Will the flying horse come back?” he asked, looking into the sky. There was no trace of the Pegasus.
“She will. The problem’s that they had taken the horse out of the stable without Wizard Persivald’s permission. Cillian and his minions will get into a lot of trouble.” The lad looked at Aram and Nick. “I am Wilhelm, this is my brother, Theodore. He’s a first year too,” he said, then turned to his brother. “You don’t mind if I leave you here, do you? The first day is for making new friends. Go get a room.” He winked to the three of them and left.


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09 April 2017

Abracadabra: The Witchcraft Academy (Prologue)




 

The old witch knew the magician was close. She could hear his heavy footsteps echoing in the dark corridor. She knew what he wanted, but she would be the last witch in the world to hand it to him.

The lights of the castle were out, but the dark passages and grim chambers had served the old witch as a home for a lifetime, she wouldn’t get lost inside that familiar maze.

With a wooden chest squeezed under her armpit, she pushed open the heavy door of the library and slid inside. In the darkness the thousands of colored paperbacks that covered the high walls looked gray and lifeless. Under the silver will-o'-the-wisps gleaming across the ceiling the old witch moved in-between the desks to the edge of the vast chamber. The oaken doors on her left and right were not locked, but she chose not to hide. She stood still under the central canvas and watched the magician approach her, the magic wand raised menacingly in his hand.

“Nowhere to run,” the magician said. “Give it to me and I will spare you.”

The old witch grinned. “You will never get it, slave.” She pressed the wooden chest harder to her breast.

The magician frowned. “One last warning, old hag. Give it to me.”

“Never.” She snatched a bronze candlestick from the closest desk, but before she could aim it at the magician, a silver light sprang from the point of his wand and struck her right above the heart. The witch’s body spread on the floor.

The magician crossed the chamber, bowed down and pulled the wooden chest out of the witch’s grip. The chest was handmade, with a mermaid carved across its lid and a silver latch. The magician opened the lid and looked inside.

The chest was empty.



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09 April 2017

Im back with Abracadabra! (sort of)




I haven’t been online for eight months! Wow, that’s a lot, isn’t it?

When I took the hiatus, I was sure that in six months I’d be back with the first book of my new series. But come to think of it, the book isn’t done yet. And it’s really heartbreaking. I am becoming mad, losing my grip, I have lost sleep. I plot all the time. And the more I plot the story the more complex it becomes.

But a part of it is done, and I’ve decided to post chapters of the new book on my blog. Obviously, the chapters WILL NOT be professionally edited, and when the times comes to publish the finished book on Amazon, it will definitely differ from what I will post here.

But I want to share with my readers what I have written in previous months, and so, the first book of Abracadabra series will be posted portion by portion on my blog.

Thanks for reading my books. It means the world to me.

Love,

Irena



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16 August 2016

Taking a Hiatus




I wish I didn't have to, but I think it's the right thing to do at the moment. I am totally into my new book and find it hard to manage a blog. This doesn’t mean I won’t be posting reviews. I may still do it once in a while. But I won’t be accepting books for reviews. I’m still reading a lot, but right now I prefer acclaimed authors who can teach me to write better. It will be four years soon since I’ve began writing in a second language and I want my next book to be better than the “Witch Hollow” series.

Unfortunately, I still haven’t reached the level I wished I would have reached after four years. I still struggle for words, misuse them, pen awkward sentences, and bang my head against the keyboard more often than is okay for the human brain.

This is how I look like most of the day.

And the book isn’t going as fast as I want. But it’s going. If I want to be done with the book by the end of autumn I need to focus solely on it.

Wish me luck, fellow witches and wizards!

With love,

Irena

The painting is The Passion of Creation by Leonid Pasternak.



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01 August 2016

Last Night I Dreamt About JK Rowling




I must have told a few times I am currently working on the first book of my new series, Abracadabra. The title is enough hint about the genre, isn’t it? Those who have finished my Witch Hollow series know that the new series will be about the Witchcraft Academy. I am excited, but I am also nervous. I know my new book might be called a copy of Harry Potter. In the vast cyberspace, where indies are bullied on a regular basis, I might be called a plagiarizer, a wannabe-Rowling, and many other things. But I’m still writing my book and hope to publish it somewhere around the most magical time of the year: Christmas!

Maybe I am thinking too much about the possible reaction towards my book, and maybe because of my impressionable personality, I had a dream last night, where I was having a conversation with Miss JK Rowling! I told her about my upcoming book and its plot, and asked her if she felt offended because I was writing about a school of witchcraft (in real life, I don’t think I am offending Rowling, but we do and say strange things in our dreams, don’t we?). She answered me, “You have chosen a topic that can be explored and create hundreds of interesting stories. If you have one in your head, write it by all means.”

Then we talked about our favorite magical items. I told her how much I wished to receive a flying broom as a Christmas present when I was a little kid, hoping to find it inside our big Christmas Tree. She told about hers, but I don’t remember.

What’s strange is that I’m not even a very big Harry Potter fan. At the moment I’m stuck in the beginning of book 4. I do like the series, and love the second movie, but there are diehard fans, and I’m not one of them.

Then I woke up, checked the Internet, and found out it was JK Rowling’s (and Harry Potter’s) birthday. :))))

So, happy birthday, JK Rowling! And even if you say "The Cursed Child" is the end of Harry Potter stories, may you change your mind and make your readers as happy as they are at the moment.



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21 June 2016

10 Ways To Seduce a Writer




There are a lot of memes over the Web about the writers. Very often we are portrayed as nutjobs, insomniacs, introverts, edgy, crazy and even suicidal. There’s a bit of truth in all of these characteristics. But we can be cute and sweet too. All you need to do is follow some rules. Here’s a great list I’ve found (from Writers Write), which does a good job at telling what the writers love.

I especially love the first two. Can there be such a thing as too many books? I can’t fit paperbacks in my home anymore, but there are always digital books, which I love no less. I don’t care that they are digital; they are readable, nothing else matters. So what am I trying to say here? You can give me digital books as gifts, too! I’ll be more than happy to receive them. And if you decide to give me paperbacks, then also remember to build me a bookcase!

Alright, I’m kidding :D But digital books are indeed appreciated. Just because we can’t touch them doesn’t mean they can’t touch us. Don’t underestimate their value as gifts.

Then there is another list: How to drive a writer crazy.

Every time I see a list like this, I remember my friend and her great idea for a fantasy novel. I might have to ask her if she has finished her book. After all, writing is nothing complicated, is it?                                            



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15 June 2016

Author Lois Duncan Has Passed Away




Just learned that author Lois Duncan has passed away today. She's probably most famous for "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and other YA suspense novels (I had reviewd IKWYDLS back in November 2015). I didn't knew Lois Duncan personally, but I am so saddened by the news of her dead I can't stop thinking of her. I followed her on Facebook and to me she had become a friend, someone whom I admired and whose career I followed. She had written over 50 books and had sold hundreds of thousands copies worldwide. She was a pioneer of Young Adult Suspense genre and had some of the most original storylines. As far as I know Lois was over 80, and she'd sometimes post on FB how hard life was for elderly people. She had recently moved to a new place, and I remember so well when she posted on Facebook that she felt she had reached the last haven. It was sad to read about her constant pain in the back, but despite all that pain just a few months ago she found time to send hundreds of autographed books to her readers. She was a wonderful person, a truly great, inspiring author, and she will be greatly missed by all her readers all over this wide world. 

Rest in peace, Lois Duncan. Thank you for the books.



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10 June 2016

Warcraft




As a fantasy lover I was looking forward to this movie, sometimes even counting the days. After the disappointment called Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, I had been longing for a new fantasy to dive into and spend a bit of magical time among the elves, orcs, dwarves, and humans.

Just look at those orcs!

I can’t remember more beautiful and malicious characters than the orcs in Warcraft. They were a real work of art, detailed and meticulously designed.

I tried to get into the movie. I have never played Warcraft, but it shouldn’t have been a problem. Warcraft is supposed to be a movie for fantasy lovers, not just for the game fans. But it seems the writers and director have another opinion. Because while my imagination did its best to fill in the gaps and paint a wholesome picture, the movie did everything to confuse me. They should have shown Azeroth a bit more before the kingdom plunged into a war with the orcs. They should have introduced the characters better, so that I’d care for them. Maybe then I wouldn’t lose my interest after the first 30 minutes. Warcraft should have been an hour longer. Otherwise it was too fragmented and confusing.

Such a shame :’(

I’ll be looking forward for another fantasy. If Warcraft 2 comes out, I know I won’t be watching it. Just not interested anymore.



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23 May 2016

I am alive #2




Ohhhh, where do I begin?

I haven’t been active for ages. BUT! I had a good reason. Now at last I can think of me as a healthy person (more or less), and at last I can fully devote myself to writing. My head is full of so many stories, and I can’t decide which one should be written first. Because I had promised my readers to tell them about the Witchcraft Academy, then Abracadabra needs to be the first. Only, I have no idea when book 1 will be ready. I’ll do my best to finish it as soon as possible. Meanwhile, check out the Witch Hollow short story collection: Stories from the Past. It’s available on Amazon for just $1.99.



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02 November 2015

I am alive




I am alive, I promise. I've just been a bit messy lately. Sick, jobless, and overall upset. But I am writing and reading and will post new revies soon.

I just need to drink 1000th cup of tea. And decide what I am going to do with my life. It seems my dream is coming true and willy-nilly I am becoming a full time writer. And I wonder if I'll starve or not :D No, I guess not. No way. No, no, no.

See ya all soon. Take care and keep yourselves warm. There are viruses everywhere!

 

 

 

Image from www.christinevida.com.



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16 September 2015

I Don’t Read Romance




I have specifically stated in the review guidelines that I don’t read romance. Please do not offer me love stories or books with romantic elements. I’m not interested. Moreover, I am uncomfortable reading them, because most of these books are nothing but the author’s sexual fantasies. Really, I’m not interested in reading another woman’s fantasies, mostly about a hot-alpha-male-dangerous-brutal-dark-possesive-aggressive-sex-machine protagonist. After 2 books of this nature became bestsellers, almost every book in romance category is by someone who consumed them and thought “I can write this too!” And they do. The same old story is published a few thousand times a month. I’m not the book police and I’m not telling others what to write, publish, and read. I’m just asking once again to not offer me stories filled with sex, pining, swooning, hot males, Kamasutra positions, washboard abs, accidental pregnancies, sweet heroines, dark heroes, love triangles, perfect jawlines, taut chests…

Send me mysteries. Send me horror. Suspense. Sci-fi. Historical. Fantasy.

And please, no Young Adult. I write YA, and that’s enough for me.

Thank you.



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07 September 2015

Summing up the Week






01 September 2015

Cheesecake and Me




There is only one thing better than reading a book, and that is reading a book with a nice slice of something sweet and tasty :D

Voila'! My new creation!  

No idea why I used to think that making a cheesecake has to be something complicated. I'd order it at bakeries and cafes, delight after each bite and feel sorry for my inability to make one. Until I checked the recipe, he-he! It's basically cream cheese, eggs, and sugar. I ransacked a dozen stores and didn't find cream cheese here. There are Mascarpone and Philadelphia, and they are uber-costly. So I went with curd cheese and my cake is yummy. So yummy that I've made it for the second time already and hardly got a bite myself :)))

It looks better in real life <3

And reminds me of the Moon's surface,

Any cheesecake fans out there?



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19 August 2015

Author Jealousy




This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. So many times I have seen popular authors tell us that we should treat other authors not as rivals, but as business partners. That one author’s success is the success of all authors. I call it bullshit. Another author’s success has nothing to do with my books and their sales. We’re not this big, nice family, where everyone gathers around the table with a roasted turkey in the center, smiling and petting each other on the shoulder, while congratulating one of the family members who just sold 1 million copies of her book. Our life is not dreamlike, as many think. Just because writers don’t have a 9.00-6.00 job (although I do, like many others), that doesn’t mean a writer’s life is a compilation of smiles and congratulations. Yes, we are rivals. Because writing is business, and we have a limited amount of customers. Let’s be honest, one day there will be more books than readers. And that day seems to be approaching. If you’re not a famous best-selling author, than the only way to survive is writing as many books as you can in a short period of time. And that’s what we, the indies, do. Now tell me, how can there be no rivalry? No way, right? But you know what? Rivalry is not a bad thing. It can be a good motivator to write more, and write better, and hire a professional editor, and order a good-looking cover. And all the aforementioned will help you to make your book stand out. Competition is what drives the business, and as I said already, writing is a business, too.

But rivalry (or should I say healthy competition) is not jealousy. While rivalry makes you work harder and produce better books, jealousy pushes you back and sends you into a state of misery. Get rid of it. If you’re not sure how author rivalry differs from author jealousy, let me explain it.

Rivalry is when you see another author publish their third book in the same year and think, “I should work as hard as her.”

Image from fareedsiddiqui.com.

Jealousy is when you visit another author’s book page and leave a 1-star review, hoping it will stop the sales or will at least hurt that author’s feelings. Or when you summon your friends and begin carpet bombing said author’s books with negative reviews. Or when you upvote the negative reviews and downvote the positive ones. I see this often. A fellow author has recently published a romance novel in a popular subgenre. Her book is well-written and professionally edited; she has a good cover and has a lot of positive reviews, and one single 2-star review. And that 2-star review is upvoted, while the 4 and 5 stars are downvoted. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not really a big deal. It’s just a review and it won’t really harm the book’s sales, no matter how many times it’s upvoted. It’s just a bit sad witnessing this type of jealousy. And the more popular the book becomes, the more it’s carpet bombed by jealous authors and their friends. I’m not talking about genuine negative reviews. Over time I’ve learned to tell the real negative reviews from the fake ones. Call me crazy, but I like to receive a negative review once in a while. NO, I’m not asking you to give my books negative reviews :)) I’m just saying that a balance is always good. I’m also saying that being jealous won’t help. It’s just a waste of energy and time. Thinking “Why her and not me!” won’t help you finish your next book. But it will turn you into a miserable human being. The word explains itself well: jea-lousy. You don’t want to be lousy, do you? But you can be a healthy competitor and work as hard as you can, while lending a helping hand to the newbies. I know I'm loving every bit of it!



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23 July 2015

Welcome to AWISL




I see you’ve found my new website!

Welcome to AWISL: Authors Writing In a Second Language.

If you have been following my blog at idblind.blogpost.com, then you know I have been planning this website for a while. At last it’s ready! As I've said before, I am going to review books and discuss my experience as an indie author who writes in a foreign language. If there are certain topics that interest you, share them with me, and I’ll tell you about my experience. Staying faithful to my promise about helping newbie authors, I will try to answer all of your questions.

If you have come to this website, then I suppose your biggest problem is writing in a foreign language, which in our case is English. On one of these days I will write about famous authors who had chosen this same path and why you should do that too, but as for now, I will give you one very important advice: If you want to write in English, then you need to read in English. A lot. Every day. You may not like it, but I advise you to read only in English. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 3 years. I even read the Russian classics in English. I have to admit it’s a bit sad, because I love Russian and Armenian (my native tongue) languages, but I also love the idea of being a published author and having readers who love my work. Everyone needs to sacrifice something. And don’t forget that we, the AWISLs, might have to sacrifice more than the rest. We also have to work thrice more, and thrice harder. So, if an author needs to spend at least 4 hours a day writing, we need 12. If an author needs to spend at least 3 hours a day reading, we need 9.

Yes, I know.

But who said this was going to be easy? I’ve been doing this for 3 years, and I still hate what I write, and get depressed, and bang my head against the keyboard, and cry and moan and drive myself crazy.

But it’s worth it. Because there’s nothing like telling a story. And if you agree, then take a deep breath, pick up your pen, and start writing in English. And follow AWISL. I promise to help you.  



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