Flash Fiction: The House with the Blue Roof

The man of the moon lived at the end of a quiet street in a small cottage that had a curious thatched roof the colour of the sky on a clear spring day. A low fence overgrown with brambles enclosed a small front garden and larger backyard. Although the front garden of the cottage was immaculate, the back garden held a chicken coop with five hens, a large tabby cat (who enjoyed the taste of scrambled eggs more than a mouth full of feathers), a tangle of birch trees, shrubs, and a jumble of buckets and containers. These seemed to have little use, but the man of the moon refused to part with them, even though the neighbours complained and gave him stern, sidelong stares.

In the centre of the garden stood an oak tree that was much older than the cottage, the neighbourhood and even the whole of the long-lived town. It’s boughs stretched upward and outward to touch the birch leaves and form a shaded garden of dappled sunlight. The man of the moon looked after the oak tree day after day, even talking and singing to it during the bleak midwinter when everything seem to lose its colour. Then, on the nights when the moon had waxed fully and the silver light of the moonbeams struck the oak and birch trees, the man of the moon would be outside and clattering about with his containers and buckets well past midnight to the chagrin of his neighbours. Placing the containers just so to fill them with the dripping dew of the moonbeams could take the whole afternoon. Balanced on his rickety, silver-splashed ladder, the man of the moon would hang pails on some of the middle branches of the oak tree, adding more silver-splashed pails, buckets, and even glass jars beneath the trees in the garden where the dew would drip from the heavy summer leaves. By the time the sun finally set, the whole garden would be set aglow as the moonbeams gathered among the trees and the moonlight-filled, silver dew drip from the leaves into the waiting containers. As one container filled, he ran to empty it into the large water tanks that he kept in the corner of the garden, rushing back again, splashing through the silver dew to replace the receptacle before emptying the next filled container into one of the water tanks. So it would go on the whole night. Rushing from one jar to the next, from one bucket to a dangling pail that he deftly hooked and unhooked from the height of the old groaning ladder.

By morning his clothes and boots were as silver-splashed as the garden, but he would quickly close the water tanks before the sun rose and go scrub his face and hands while the jumble of containers settled noisily in their heap next to the water tanks.

By the time the first people up the street left their homes for the day, the garden with its oak and birch trees would look like any other; the moonlight dew faded to nothing but water that dripped-dripped onto the leaf-strewn ground below. The boots by the back door were no longer silver-splashed, but muddy, and even the tabby would have washed the last remnants of silver from its coat. She, of course, would be sitting by the front gate with such a look of malice and disdain for the people of the street that none would dare to come and bother her owner while he was trying to eat breakfast without falling asleep at the table.

It would be with new moon that the man of the moon’s next task would begin. This night, after all, was the best night to see where he painted the stars that would swirl, shine, and shimmer for the next month. The rig that he built to pump the moonlight dew from the water tanks to the roof was almost silent and he turned it on after everyone had headed inside for the day and he was left alone outside. Standing on the blue thatch, he took a large paintbrush from a bucket at his feet and ran his hand over the bristles to make sure that they weren’t clumped together. He dipped the brush into the container of silver at his feet and, with broad strokes of his arm, painted the light swirls of the Milky Way, stippling the stars of the sky and paint the constellations in place with a fine brush. By midnight the swirling night sky was alive with silver light again and he looked at his work with a smile. He headed back inside after taking down the light dew’s rig and climbed into bed dreaming of dancing silver swirls.

The Starry Night (1889) by Vincent van Gogh, Wikimedia Commons

This is the first story that I’ve written that will make up part of the collection titled Where the Stars Used to Sing.

Cover for Where the Stars Used to Sing (2020)
writing, paper, pen, fountain pen, Aaron Burden

Writing Update: May (Part 2)

Since the previous writing update quite a lot of exciting things have been happening. Here’s a short update as to what I’ve been up to (and what I’m up to at the moment).

Flash Fiction Collection Dim Mirrors Published!

About a week ago I published Dim Mirrors on Noisetrade Books. The collection is made up of 39 flash fiction stories (stories shorter than 1 000 words). While they are mostly fantasy and speculative in nature, there are some non-genre stories as well.

You can either get a copy for free or you can leave a tip. (I know you need to give an address when you sign up with Noisetrade, but I’m not planning to do anything with the info they send me other than going ‘O, cool, I have readers in place X!’.)

Just a reminder that the (free) anthology Jozi Flash is also available! Download Jozi Flash by following this link. There you will also find out more about the contributing authors. (Hint: They’re all awesome.)

SASMARS – Or, me acting all academic

During the next two months I will be hard at work on the article I’m presenting at the SASMARS (Southern Africa Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies) Conference in August. Plane tickets have been bought so there’s no turning back now! If you’re curious about the paper I’ll be presenting, follow this link. It’s not medieval Icelandic zombies this time (read the Eyrbyggja Saga!), but I still find my topic very interesting.

Patreon – Yes, you can become one of my patrons!

After quite a bit of thought, I decided to join Patreon. If you haven’t heard of Patreon yet, check this out.

Now you may ask yourself what you will be getting in return for becoming a patron – well, the short answer is that you will get to have a look behind the scenes (though not a video of me writing; that will just be boring). Here’s what I’ve decided on (pledges for a maximum of 2 fiction posts per month, Afrikaans fiction not included):

  • $1 Pledge: One Patreon-only flash fiction story per month.
  • $5 Pledge: One Patreon-only flash fiction story per month, vote on title/promt for monthly flash fiction story.
  • $10 Pledge: One Patreon-only flash fiction story per month, choice of prompt for the flash fiction story, see worldbuilding notes and stories of Airtha-Eyrassa – follow the story of the world as it unfolds.
  • $15 Pledge: One Patreon-only flash fiction story per month, choice of prompt for the flash fiction story, see worldbuilding notes and stories of Airtha-Eyrassa – follow the story of the world as it unfolds, see maps of Airtha-Eyrassa, see behind the scenes of any other WIP(s).
  • $20 Pledge: One Patreon-only flash fiction story per month, choice of prompt for the flash fiction story, see worldbuilding notes and stories of Airtha-Eyrassa – follow the story of the world as it unfolds, see maps of Airtha-Eyrassa, see behind the scenes of any other WIP(s), see early drafts of current WIP/character sketches – see how the project grows and develops.
  • More than $20 Pledge: One Patreon-only flash fiction story per month, choice of prompt for the flash fiction story, see worldbuilding notes and stories of Airtha-Eyrassa – follow the story of the world as it unfolds, see maps of Airtha-Eyrassa, see behind the scenes of any other WIP(s), see early drafts of current WIP/character sketches – see how the project grows and develops, become a character in the novel.

Interested? Head over to my Patreon page, have a read through, and make your pledge!

And, finally, to everyone reading the blog, commenting, and sharing my stuff, thank you, thank you, thank you! Without the support I’ve been getting online it would be a lot more difficult to follow my dream.


How to Publish Your Book on Noisetrade Books

Publishing your book on Noisetrade Books is not only very easy, but also a great way to get some new fans and build on your exposure as a writer. Though some of the books will be free, you will also receive “tips” from users.

You only need to follow a few basic steps and you can have your book on Noisetrade in minutes.

Step 1: Finish your book

This seems obvious, but before you get ahead of yourself, make sure that you have everything you want to include in the book in a way that will make it easy to export into the correct formats Noisetrade requires.

Step 2: Export your book in the correct formats

Don’t worry – it’s a lot easier to export files into the correct formats than you might think – especially if you’re using the Scrivener software. (If you’re not, I can definitely recommend that you try it – you also get a 30-day free trial.)

Noisetrade requires at least two of the three following formats:

  • PDF
  • EPUB
  • MOBI

Once you’ve exported the files you can head over to Noisetrade and click on Log In.

Step 3: Open and complete your Noisetrade Author Account

Once you’re on the Noisetrade log in page, you can create a Noisetrade Author Account. Once you’ve created the account, you need to fill in the following pages:

  • Author page – fill in your bio, website, social media links, and other stores where your books can be purchased.
  • Your book’s page – Enter the title, description, length, language, etc. Then you’re ready to upload the book’s files. Choose the files you want to upload and then click “Save Changes”. (Please note that Noisetrade does not require an ISBN for you to upload your book.)

You’ll see that the user interface is actually very user-friendly!

And that is it! Once the changes to the page has been saved you will see that the book becomes active and you will receive the link at the top of the page that will take you to the Noisetrade Books page where your book is ready for download. All you need to do now is spread the word! Why not start by putting your book on your Goodreads Author Page?

Once you have uploaded your book onto Noisetrade, please let me know in the comments – I would love to check it out!

Download my book “Dim Mirrors: A Flash Fiction Collection” on Noisetrade books!

“Dim Mirrors” Now Available!

Dim Mirrors, a collection of 39 flash fiction stories by yours truly is now available for download on Noisetrade Books! The stories are mostly fantasy, including some fiction set in the world of Airtha-Eyrassa, in which my current WIP is set.

Dim Mirrors is a collection of 39 flash fiction stories penned by Carin Marais. They range from the comical “Not According to Plan” to more serious and introspective works like “Blue Ribbons” and “The Destroyer of Worlds”. Her liberal and creative use of mythology and folkloric elements comes to the fore in stories like “The Souls of Trees” and “Ariadne’s Freedom”. A number of stories in this collection, including “Life on Canvas”, “Charms of Ash”, and “Shadows”, are set in her own secondary world of Airtha-Eyrassa.

What is Noisetrade Books?

Noisetrade is a platform where you can download books and music for free (legally) and leave a “tip” if you want to.

So… I can get it for free? As in mahala?

Yup. I would love it if you shared the links and spread the word. Any tips will go towards a top secret project which will see the light in August. Okay, it will be top secret until I post the blog post about it.

What are you planning to do with my email address?

Bury it in a vault where no one can access it but me. At the moment I don’t have a newsletter, so you won’t suddenly start receiving a bunch of mail from me. When I do have a new collection available, I’ll let the list know first, though. But that is it. And I think it’d be cool to see where in the world my readers find themselves.

Download Dim Mirrors here

Remember to tell your friends!

Flash 2.0.3