Cunning little Vixen

Master of Foxhunt Book Cover with Title and Author NameThose of you who are following my Stories from the Hearth blog site may have already seen that I have just published another book. “Master of the Foxhunt” is suitable for readers aged 12+. It’s an old-fashioned ghost story that had been bubbling away in my writing cauldron for several years until it suddenly boiled over from a short story idea to become a full blown novella with ca. 56,000 words. What’s it about? Here’s the official book blurb:

“Maria Thermann’s novella is a traditional Victorian ghost story with a spoonful of romance thrown in for good measure. Set towards the end of the 19th century in the fictional county of Oxtailshire, the novella takes a humerous look at the genre and hopes to entertain, rather than scare readers.

Furious about his son’s choice of wife and occupation, Sir Hubert Tulking, life-long enthusiastic hunter of foxes, decides to take drastic measures, when his son Allan returns to England to introduce his American actress wife to the county set. The brazen fortune seeker must die! Just one minor problem: Sir Hubert isn’t exactly in a position to wring the lady’s neck…for he himself died a year ago in a riding accident. How can a ghost exact vengeance? Sir Hubert leaves no stone – or ancient book – unturned to find an answer!

Still grieving over the death of his young wife, Roderick, Marquess of Tumbleweed, throws himself into his work and follows his passion: fox hunting. He runs a successful Hunt from his estate, but fails to engage on a personal level with anyone other than his childhood friend Sir Alan Tulking. Even lonelier after his friend departs for Broadway and the career of playwright, Roderick is delighted when Sir Allan announces his return, but horrified when he discovers a ghost is out to destroy his friend’s new-found happiness. Will Roderick be in time to save the new Lady Tulking from a gruesome death at the ghostly hands of Sir Hubert?

Matters are complicated even more, when Roderick finds himself pursued romantically by author Beatrice, who won’t stop at nothing to ensnare Roderick and promote her new novel at the same time. She’s one cunning little vixen and the Marquess of Tumbleweed had better watch out or the Master of the Foxhunt will become the prey.

Whatever happens, rest assured, the foxes will have the upper paw in the end – for those who call causing the suffering of animals “sport” deserve all they get!”

rider and beaglesWhere can you get this delicious slice of romantic Victoriana in time for Valentine’s Day?

It’s out at various ebook stores, incuding Kindle, Kobo, GooglePlay, Barnes & Noble. Will shortly be publishing it via Scribd(dot)com as well: ISBN: 978-3-7396-3465-4

 

Victorian lady riderHere’s the sales link for iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/master-of-the-foxhunt/id1080939714?mt=11

How the story came about and what inspired both story and book cover you can discover on my Stories from the Hearth blog: the most recent blog post explains the Landscapes of my Mind!

 

 

Yuletide Greetings from Vampires

small christmas tree surrouned by moving train setWillow the Vampire, her friends Darren and Felicity are keen to extend their Yuletide greetings to all their friends, so have yourselves a merry, bloodless Christmas and savour every bite (says Willow).

If I get a chance to finish The Little Book of Ghosts, I will upload it before the New Year – there’s just so much interesting stuff to include, it’s hard to know what to leave out…

For example, there’s the Victorian plasterer, a grumpy man who wouldn’t listen to his landlady’s advice, went out in his white garb and got himself killed by an angry, and very scared, mob because they thought he was one of the ghosts who had caused nocturnal mischief for a while on London’s spooky streets…

Then there are all those wonderful folk legends from Russia, Scandinavia, not to mention Japan, which seems to have more creepy ghosts and demons than all of Europe put together. And don’t get me started on India, what a fascinating place for creatures of the dark…

 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

The Little Book of Ghosts

Copyright Maria ThermannWhat’s it about? A while back I decided to start a whole series of books on “creatures of the night” and, as a life-long devotee of ghost stories, I began the series with “The Little Book of Halloween” and “The Little Book of Ghosts”. The concept is to present a blend of 70% non-fiction and 30% fiction, with fun and educational facts about the main topic, followed by two or three short stories inspired by the creature of the night or paranormal/supernatural topic.

I’m not applying the concept of the 70/30% split too rigidly. “The Little Book of Halloween” for example has only two longer short stories, while “The Little Book of Ghosts” will have 3 shorter short stories (around 2,000 words each).

I wanted to inject something of “myself”, or rather my cultural background into each book, so there will be stuff on Germany’s haunted houses and German folk tales about ghosts. There are mainly stories that originated in the North of Germany, most notably in my home town Luebeck, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and birth place of the Hanseatic League that dominated European trade in the Middle Ages.

Copyright Maria ThermannThe Halloween-related book will have many fun facts about pumpkin growing competitions in Germany and what German children say when they knock on doors with their version of “trick or treat”. Naturally, there will also be pumpkin-growing tips and pumpkin-related recipes, as well as general information about the origins of Halloween and what people got up to centuries ago on the night of All Hallows Eve. Halloween wasn’t celebrated at all in Germany, when I grew up there. It wasn’t until the mid-1990’s that this fun autumn festival gripped the nation and is now celebrated widely across Germany. There will also be a brief overview of the creatures of the night that people most commonly dress up as.

What about vampires and werewolves I hear you cry! Don’t they deserve a  book all of their own? Of course they do! Willow the Vampire and her brand new sister Flora Fangs would never forgive me, if their species were to be left out.

Already, I am collecting fun facts about vampires, real ones (fleas!) and supernatural ones, for a future book, which as you may have guessed, will be “The Little Book of Vampires”. Next up in the series is then “The Little Book of Witches”, which should be amazing, since I found a huge amount on witchcraft, witch hunts and trials, not to mention witch museums in haunted castles where the ghosts of murdered women won’t let anyone visit for fear they might end up also being tortured and burned as witcheCovere for Vampire Blind Dates!

I am also working on an ebook with a collection of short stories aimed at an older audience. It’s entitled “Love at First Bite”; a while back I answered the call of a Bookrix.com member for competition entries and, as the theme was “first date with a vampire”, I wrote a short story about a blind date between a vampire and a human. It was so much fun that I thought, why not create a whole book of this, each story based on a different deadly critter?

If you want to read the vampire story, which is set in London in the 1920’s, you need to sign up (for free) to Bookrix, where I’ll be gradually adding to the ebook I have created for the “Love at First Bite” short story. It’s a free download for Bookrix members.

So there, that’s my update.  Am still working away in the background on the second “Willow the Vampire” book, but as I didn’t like the first 4 chapters I’d written some time ago, it looks like I’m having to start afresh. Maybe I’ll turn the stuff I’ve written so far into a short story instead, so it won’t be wasted time. If only we had days with 48 hours in them to get all these projects done…

 

 

Ghostly Vengeance

fireghostI haven’t had much time to update this blog lately, because I’ve been too busy writing lots of short stories and putting together “The Little Book of Ghosts”, as well as “The Little Book of Halloween”. The latter is pretty much complete now, just sorting out the artwork, which didn’t upload very well at my first attempt to release this as an ebook on self-publishing platform Bookrix.

“The Little Book of Ghosts” will feature a few ghost short stories, but will be mostly non-fictional, providing paranormal info for kids and their parents to enjoy. While I was collecting background material for ghostly facts, however, I had this idea for a short story…which is now a long story that’s rapidly swelling into a full blown novel with ca. 50,000 words. Yeiks! What’s it about?

Set in late Victorian times, the story features Sir Hubert Tulking, very  one dead Justice of the Peace, who is rather resentful when he finds out his only son and heir has married an American actress and gone to NYC to become a playwright at Broadway. When young Sir Allan returns to Oxtailshire to introduce his glamorous wife to the county’s gentry, the ghost of Sir Hubert sees his chance to get even with what he believes to be a ruthless little gold digger. And then there is the Marquess of Tumbleweed, one lonely widower who spends his days hunting defenceless foxes. He’s about to be ensnared by one little vixen who won’t stop at nothing to get the man of her dreams. Will the forthcoming battle with ghostly Sir Hubert bring them closer together or put a damper on their budding romance?

I’m already nearing the end of the mini-novel, so hopefully will be able to answer some of these questions soon and let you know where the book will be published.

As for Willow the Vampire: I have withdrawn the two short stories that were on sale, because I want to publish a large short story collection just about Willow and Stinkforth-upon-Avon. The two stories previously on sale will then be included in that.

 

 

 

Fantasy Creatures taking an unexpected Turn

Copyright Sarah ChipperfieldYes, I know, I’ve already blogged about my entry for the Inkitt Fantasy genre writing contest “Wanderlust” over at mariathermann.wordpress.com. HOWEVER, for some reason the link to illustrator Sarah Chipperfield’s about.me page won’t show up. So here it is:

https://about.me/sarah_chipperfield

duly delivered! She tells me she’s putting the page together, so just be patient.

In case some of you fall in love with the illustration she did for my http://www.inkitt.com/stories/23849 entry and want to commission some art work for a book cover for example or illustrations for a picture book: please form an orderly queue…We are not only working on an Early Reader’s book (for my Flippety Floppet series) but are currently pondering on a picture book for Willow the Vampire, set when Willow was a lot younger and still at Vampire Infant School in London. Watch out for one snappy little critter called Flora Fangs!

Back in rural Lincolnshire, 9-year-old Linus Brown discovers he gets more than he’s bargained for when he takes the advice of a mysterious scarecrow and chooses a road less well travelled on…things take a rather unexpected turn for shy Linus. Did I mention there are witches and any number of jokes about farting littering my Inkitt entry? Be careful when wandering into Linus’s world though, or you might step accidentally on a few leprechauns with your size tens. Thunderpants-a-go, please LOVE and VOTE for the story, if you like it and FORWARD to as many creatures of the night as you can think of. Thank you.

Freddy digs for Victory

Since Freddy the Ferret and I shared a tent last autumn, the little albino rascal has been very busy. As soon as the weather got warmer and the ground was no longer frozen, Freddy embarked on major excavation works to create his very own network of escape tunnels under and next to the shelter I had built for him.

I didn’t know anything about ferrets, when Freddy invaded my tent, apart from the two facts most people know, namely that

a) ferrets bite

b) male ferrets spray everything and are quite stinky as a result

Ferrets have poor eyesight apparently, which explains why Freddy bit heartily into my feet, the moment I had taken my boots off. Either he mistook my toes for juice snails or the smell of my swollen feet offended him to such an extent, he had no choice but to sink his teeth into my flesh. As ferrets have needle-sharp fangs, the wounds were quite deep and rather painful. Shame on you, little fluff ball, biting the foot that belongs to the person who feeds you!

I haven’t seen the little rascal for a while, but I know he’s still occupying the shelter, because everytime I go to leave some food, new excavations have been carried out, mounts of fresh soil are piled up next to the shelter’s entrance and I can see an oblong outline in the freshly dug soil, which looks remarkably like one sleepy ferret dozing in the mid-day sun.

Ferrets are not strictly speaking nocturnal – I know, this blog is supposed to deal only with creatures of the night, but we’re making an exception for this particular example of wildlife, shall we?

Freddy does pop out of the shelter a couple of times during the night, probably to go to the toilet and to snatch a few worms on the way back. He is far more active at dusk and at dawn, sleeping around 20 hours a day in the interval. Although Freddy must at some point have belonged to some human, he is quite fierce, now that he’s been living free for a while. I always watch my fingers, when I carefully push a new container with raw meat into the opening of his shelter. Since Freddy wasn’t a wild ferret to start off with, he’s never learned to hunt for mice or other rodents. Not sure he’s figured out how yet, but he’s certainly thriving, or the tunnel work wouldn’t progress to the extent it has over the last couple of months.

Freddy the Ferret goes on Holiday

Kingsgate cliffs, Kentish coast

Kingsgate cliffs, Kentish coast

Of all the bizarre things that have happened to me over the years, when I’ve been travelling, the following incident was not one this writer’s mind could ever have imagined. Last autumn, when I couldn’t find anywhere to stay in a hostel or camping ground, I decided to pitch my little tent in the wild for a night.

The temperatures that night began to plummet and it was suddenly bitterly cold. It was early in the evening, but utterly dark and I was about to snuggle into my warming covers, when suddenly some creature made a determined assault on one side of my tent, trying to burrow its way underneath and through the tent’s bottom. Bevor long, my tent was invaded by what I thought in my panic was a huge rat. I’d dropped by torch, so couldn’t at first find the creature, but when its red eyes finally flashed up in my torchlight, I discovered to my utter amazement that my tent had been invaded by an albino ferret!

After an epic battle that lasted more than an hour, I gave up trying to evict the ferret. By now it was quite late and there was no way I could find accommodation anywhere else. Since I wouldn’t survive a night out – and the ferret wouldn’t either – we had to make the best of things and SHARE a sleeping bag and covers. The ferret was obviously used to human contact, which is why it had sought me out in the first place. My theory is that some homeless person use to look after little Freddy the Ferret, but lost him some day in the dark woods and undergrowth. Now Freddy, as I promptly named the little intruder, was quite content to make a new holiday acquaintance – ME!

Eyes glowing in the dark...Since then, I’ve been keeping an eye on him, supplying him with food throughout the winter, since no animal shelter would take a half-wild, feral ferret on the run from authorities. He seems to be thriving so far and has taken over the shelter I built for him with relish, snuggling into an old duvet every day at dawn, after a couple of hours of activity.