Three New Hallowind Cove Stories and a Facelift for the Whole Series

This is the final new release announcement for 2018 and it’s a big one, for I have not one or two but three new Hallowind Cove stories to announce as well as a quasi relaunch for the series.

The origin of the Hallowind Cove series lies in a shared world anthology which fell through. So I took my story for that anthology, changed the names and filed off the serial numbers and published the story as The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock.

I didn’t intend to revisit Hallowind Cove. But then during the 2016 July short story challenge, I had an idea for a story that would be perfect for Hallowind Cove, a story which eventually was published as The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach. And so Hallowind Cove became a series.

During the 2017 and 2018 July short story challenge, I wrote two more Hallowind Cove stories. However, they languished on my harddrive, because Hallowind Cove series just doesn’t sell very well. And though I usually ignore conventional indie wisdom about marketing and cover design, it eventually became clear to me that the Hallowind Cove series was branded wrong and marketed at the wrong audience. The original monochrome covers (which you can still see here and here) had a horror vibe, but Hallowind Cove isn’t really a horror series, even though the town of Hallowind Cove is nigh permanently shrouded in fog and plagued by ghosts, monsters and vengeful zombies. However, the tone of the stories is humorous rather than scary and the attraction of the series lies in the quirky town and its equally quirky inhabitants.

In short, the problem with Hallowind Cove was that I was marketing the series to the wrong audience and had the two existing books in the wrong categories. Because Hallowind Cove is not horror, it’s cozy fantasy, a category which unfortunately does not exist on Amazon or any other online bookstore. However, the stores do have a cozy mystery category full of stories set in quirky small towns with equally quirky inhabitants, which are a large part of the attraction. Amazon even has a subcategory of paranormal cozy mysteries featuring witches, ghosts, etc… I’ve featured these books at the Indie Crime Scene (and they usually are crossposted to Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month as well) and know that they are massively popular. And the Hallowind Cove stories are certainly closer to those paranormal cozy mysteries than they are to straight horror. So I decided to aim them at the readership for paranormal cozy mysteries instead.

However, that left the problem of the covers. Because the existing monochrome photo covers were completely unsuitable for the cozy paranormal market, where candy-coloured cartoon covers and vector graphics rule surpreme. So I would have to rebrand the series and redo the covers as well and I would have to come up with a unified cover style that could be easily adapted for future books in the series. The new covers needed a cartoony look in keeping with genre conventions and I also wanted the covers to stress the maritime background of the Hallowind Cove series. Which was a problem, because the overwhelming majority of seaside related vector graphics available on the usual stock art sites were summery images of sunny beaches and palm trees. Whereas Hallowind Cove is permanently shrouded in fog and doesn’t have a single palm tree. So I put the two already finished Hallowind Cove stories on the backburner until I could figure out how to rebrand the series.

As longterm readers will know, I usually publish at least one holiday story every year. I initially planned for the 2018 holiday story to be an In Love and War novella, which is already partially written. However, the novella focusses on a character who hasn’t been introduced in the series proper yet due to a novel that has been giving me problems for two years now. Hence I set it aside (you’ll get it in 2019) and looked for another holiday story to write and came across a story start called A Hallowind Cove Christmas. So I got to work on the story and decided to use the opportunity to redo the covers and relaunch the whole series.

I also came up with an idea for the covers that was viable, doable with my skills, could be adapted for new stories in the series and also had a certain maritime flair that matched the series. The new Hallowind Cove covers are basically a vector graphic of a ship’s porthole. Inside that porthole, there is an image that fits the story in question, e.g. a zombie pirate for The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock and a tattooed arm for The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach. You can see the new covers for both stories below:

The Revenant of Wrecker's Dock by Cora Buhlert The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach by Cora Buhlert

Meanwhile, the Hallowind Cove Christmas story or rather the beginning thereof focussed on Rachel Hammersmith, a character who briefly shows up in The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach, where we learn that Rachel is a newcomer to Hallowind Cove who took over the local bakery. Now baking and Christmas go together, which makes Rachel the perfect protagonist for a Hallowind Cove holiday story. And indeed, the abandoned story start I pick up chronicled how Rachel came to Hallowind Cove and how she came to take over the bakery. Next came a scene where several notable citizens of Hallowind Cove show up in Rachel’s bakery and tell her that only she can save Christmas. And that was as far as I’d written. Why can only Rachel of all people save Christmas and from what is she supposed to save it? If I ever came up with an answer to those questions, I sure as hell didn’t remember. And in fact I suspect that’s the reason I abandoned the story back in the day.

So I brainstormed potential Christmas related dangers, preferably of a supernatural kind, and quickly hit upon a holiday threat straight from German folklore, namely the Krampus, a scary devil-like monster that is a companion of Saint Nicholas in South Germany and Austria and punished the bad kids with his birch rod. The Krampus is certainly a suitably scary Christmas threat. There was only one problem. I didn’t actually know much about Krampus, because German folklore is very regional and Krampus just isn’t a thing in my part of Germany. In my part of Germany, Saint Nicholas travels with Knecht Ruprecht, a man with a bushy black beard who gives the bad kids a thrashing with a birch rod. And across the border in the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas travels with the Zwarte Piet, a black man in faux orientalist garb who doesn’t really thrash anybody, but manages to be controversial nonetheless. And since the Krampus isn’t really part of the culture I grew up with, I had to do some research.

Since the Krampus is a monster that thrashes the bad kids with a birch rod or kidnaps them and – in those parts of the German speaking world, where Krampus is a thing – people dressed up as Krampus run wild in the street on the night of December 5 (i.e. the night before St. Nicholas Day), it was obvious why the Krampus would be a threat to the peace of Hallowind Cove or what passes for it at Christmas time. Now the next question was, how exactly could Rachel of all people save the town from the Krampus’ wrath?

Now Rachel is a baker and therefore, it was obvious that the solution should be bakery related. So I researched whether there were any pastries associated with Krampus and found that there were. Even better, it was a type of pastry I was familiar with, namely figures of sweet leavened dough that are known as Stutenkerl or Weckenmann in my region and as Krampus elsewhere. What is more, it turns out that in addition of the “dough man with pipe” Stutenkerl that I was familiar with, there were also Krampus shaped dough figures in the respective parts of Germany and Austria. According to legend, the Stutenkerl with his pipe represents Saint Nicholas with his bishop’s crosier, while the Krampus shaped figures represent the Krampus. And indeed, the Krampus that visits Rachel’s bakery picks up a Stutenkerl for Saint Nicholas.

If you want to make your own Stutenkerl or Krampus, here is a recipe. Meanwhile, inspired by the story I was writing, I bought a ready made Stutenkerl at Janssen‘s excellent bakery in Oldenburg

Stutenkerl

A Stutenkerl from Janssen’s bakery in Oldenburg, surrounded by some of their delicious cookies.

Since Krampus is traditionally the companion of Saint Nicholas, Santa himself show up near the end as well. And because Hallowind Cove is persistently fog-shrouded, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer appears as well, even though he has nothing whatsoever to do with the Krampus and the traditional Saint Nicholas legend and is instead a 20th century American invention. I even managed to sneak in another legendary winter figure occasionally associated with Krampus, namely the winter witch known in South Germany and Austria as Frau Perchta or Frau Percht. In my region, she is called Frau Holle.

Established Hallowind Cove characters such as Hugo the talking raven and Ian, the landlord of The Croaking Foghorn pub (who even aquires a surname in this story) also appear. And Paul MacQuarie, the other newcomer to Hallowind Cove who is the protagonist of The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock, shows up as well, first to buy a muffin at the bakery and later to help Rachel deal with the Krampus problem. The two of them quickly bond over their shared experiences and there’s even a kiss under the mistletoe.

Intrigued? Then read…

The Bakery on Gloomland Street
The Bakery on Gloomland StreetA legendary monster threatens Christmas…

It’s Christmas time in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, which is also known as the “Harbour of the Weird”.

Rachel Hammersmith is new to Hallowind Cove and has recently taken over the bakery on Gloomland Street, after Marie Percht, the previous owner, retired.

However, Marie Percht didn’t tell Rachel everything, when she retired. She didn’t mention the fog, for starters, and she also didn’t mention that her bakery plays a vital role during the Christmas season and not just as a provider of holiday cookies either.

For the Krampus, a yuletide monster from alpine folklore, is coming to Hallowind Cove. And the only thing that can keep him from wrecking the town and ruining Christmas are pastries baked according to a secret recipe. Unfortunately, Rachel has no idea what the recipe is.

However, with the help of fellow newcomer Paul MacQuarie, Rachel will bake up a storm to pacify Krampus and save Christmas.

More information.
Length: 9300 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

Though it was written earlier (yes, I write series out of order), the next Hallowind Cove story is a direct sequel to The Bakery on Gloomland Street. For The Mermaid of Foghorn Point follows the newly minted couple Paul and Rachel on their first date to The Croaking Foghorn pub. But this is Hallowind Cove and so their date does not at all go as expected.

The Mermaid of Foghorn Point is one of three Hallowind Cove stories to date to come out of the July short story challenge, where the idea is to write a short story per day during the month of July.  Like several of the July short story challenge stories, The Mermaid of Foghorn Point was inspired by an image, namely this piece of fantasy art by Axel Sauerwald, where some fishermen make a most unexpected catch.

Inspired by the image, I started writing a story about a fisherman returning to harbour and explaining to a customer why he came back empty-handed. After a few paragraphs, I realised that this was the perfect Hallowind Cove story. And so Eddie Bramwell, fisherman and captain of the ominously named The Doomed Privateer, regals Paul, Rachel, Ian and Old Hank with a marvelous bit of sailor’s yarn – or is it?

To find out, read…

The Mermaid of Foghorn Point
The Mermaid of Foghorn PointThe catch of the day at the Croaking Foghorn is not at all as expected…

Strange things keep happening in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

Paul and Rachel’s date at The Croaking Foghorn pub is derailed, when it turns out that local fisherman Eddie Bramwell brought home no fish, but one hell of a story.

But Paul has one hell of a story of his own to tell and he’s not at all sure how Rachel will react.

More information.
Length: 3400 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens, the third new Hallowind Cove story is more of a standalone (not to mention a standaround) and focusses on another crop of newcomers to Hallowind Cove, the Hutchinson family who visit the town on one of the rare non-foggy days and wind up buying a mansion that’s for sale for a ridiculously low price (and of course, none of the locals mention the fog or the many weird things happening in Hallowind Cove with the exception of Hugo the talking raven. And no one ever listens to Hugo). But this is Hallowind Cove, after all, so it’s clear that the Hutchinsons are in for an unpleasant surprise.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens is another story to come out of the July short story challenge, the 2017 edition in this case. The inspiration for the story was watching a trailer for what looked like a very bad low-budget horror movie. A little more than a year on, I can’t even recall the title of the movie, which shows how forgettable it was. I had to comb through the weekly link roundups at the Speculative Fiction Showcase from July 2017 to find it again (and it turns out that a lot of bad trailers for forgettable horror movies came out in July 2017). That movie had the usual set-up of a group of people trapped in an isolated house and menaced by sinister shadowy figures. At one point in the trailer, someone freaks out about the figures out there and someone else asks what the figures are doing, whereupon the first person replies, “Nothing”, which made me break in laughter. And so the standarounds – shadowy figures who literally just stand around and stare at random houses – were born. The standarounds themselves are also briefly mentioned in The Bakery on Gloomland Street, which was written after this story. Sheriff Alastair Angus Aberdeen also appears in The Bakery on Gloomland Street, by the way.

So prepare to meet The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens. And don’t worry, they’re harmless.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens
The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens by Cora BuhlertSinister shadows menace a family…

Strange things keep happening in the quirky little seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

When the Hutchinson family buy the beautiful Beauregard mansion on Gloomland Street, they believe they’ve made the deal of a lifetime.

But unfortunately, no one told them about the fog that envelops Hallowind Cove for three hundred and forty days a year. Or about the mysterious shadows that stand around Twilight Gardens, staring at random houses…

This is a short story of 3300 words or approximately 14 pages in the Hallowind Cove series, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 3300 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

If you want to read the whole series, there is also a series bundle available at DriveThruFiction at a reduced price.

And that’s it for the year. Next year, there will be more In Love and War stories, including at least one novel, more The Day The Saucers Came… stories, a new sword and sorcery series , After the End 2: More Stories about Life After the Apocalypse, Murder in the Family 2 and much more.

Happy holidays, whichever one you celebrate!

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