Willow in 300 Words

small girl aloneI haven’t had a chance to publish my books on Neobooks or epubli yet, but will do so this week and let you now how easy it is. But now for my next Willow project:

For a while now I’ve wanted to write Willow stories suitable for a picture book, little snippets of Willow’s life before she arrived in Stinkforth-upon-Avon. These stories are for a younger age range of readers than my Willow stories would normally target. So here’s the first of Willow stories in 300 words or less. I hope you’ll enjoy it. I plan to eventually publish a collection of these as either a regular book or as a flipbook online, if I can get to grips with the techie aspect of putting it together that way.

©Maria Thermann 14.07.2014

Small and Alone

Small and alone, Willow watched her mother and wondered when she would see her next. It was time to say goodbye again. With her mind already on the wider world, out for her next kill, Alice took little notice of her 8-year-old daughter. Alice was a mother, but first and foremost she was a vampire. She was too busy packing her suitcase to sense the tears brimming up in Willow’s eyes. Too busy thinking about the streets of London, where people went missing every day. The trembling throats she would bite; the food she would bring home to her family.

Small and alone, Willow walked over to the window and watched the taxi take her mother away. She tried to count on the fingers of her hands how often they had said goodbye this year. In a moment, some stranger would walk through the door and smile, trying to take her hand and tell her that everything was alright. But it wasn’t alright.

Aunty Verushka was from Russia and rolled her “R’s” in the most frightening way. When she spoke, it always sounded like a snarl. She wasn’t very popular. Willow practiced her “happy face” and squared her shoulders. Now she was ready for Aunty Verushka, ready for child minder number 503.

Small and alone, Aunty Verushka stood on the porch and waved Alice goodbye. She squared her shoulders, practiced her “happy face” and went inside. Now she was ready to face the little girl with tears in her eyes. The little girl, who needed a hug from her mother, just like Verushka needed a hug from hers.

Small and alone, the grandfather clock ticking in a corner, the two faced each other. It was going to be a long week, Willow sighed at last and held out her hand.

©Maria Thermann 14.07.2014. All rights reserved by the artist.

 

(picture source: Wikepedia,Taylor and Moulana, authors. English: Portrait of the Colquhoun children of Lake Clarendon, early 1900s Two girls and a boy from the Colquhoun family of Lake Clarendon, ca. 1900-1910. The girls are wearing smocked dresses and the boy is wearing pants and a shirt with a crocheted collar. The youngest child is seated, and the boy has his arm around her shoulder. The portrait was taken by Taylor and Moulana, Brisbane and Ipswich. Date between 1900 and 1910; Source Item is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my next Publishing Adventure I’m heading to

Vampire-bats-animated…Neobooks(dot)com, which is affiliated to one of Germany’s most respected publishers.

Unfortunately, the site doesn’t seem to be available in English, which will cause problems for the non-German language indie authors among you, but when I emailed Neobooks a while back they assured me they do support literature of other languages and they do accept authors from other countries.

Your book will not just be listed and sold by the biggest ebook retailers in the world – including Amazon.de, Buch.de, Kobo, Der Club/Bertelsmann, Buecher.de, Google Play, Ciando.de and Apple iTunes – but will also cover the entire German-language book market, as they sell into Switzerland and Austria also.

These are the heavy-weights of ebook sellers in Europe, so if you’re thinking of publishing your vampire, fantasy or non-fiction book on bats as an indie author, don’t be put off by the German language aspect of it. All of these retailers sell English language books.
Covers: According to the blurb on the site, it looks easy to upload cover designs (which need to be 1,400 pixels wide min).

Text: All headings for chapters must be set to Header 1/Header 2 etc in order for them to translate properly into epub readers apparently – now would it not have been nice for other ebook publishers to tell us that? Grrr. Don’t bother adding one of those stupid “floating” tables of contents either, Neobooks do that apparently.

The difference between publishing with Neobooks and say, Amazon Kindle or Bookrix, is that at Neobooks authors can go straight into a daily “most liked/most read” type competition that could easily bag them a traditional publishing contract with Droemer Knaur Verlagsgruppe, which incidentally is working in cooperation with Rohwolt Verlag on this venture. These are two of Germany’s, and therefore Europe’s, most prominent, respected and powerful publishers of fiction and non-fiction. They feature heavily at all the big book fairs, inc. Frankfurt Book Fair and New York’s book fair.

And the partner list of Neobooks also makes for impressive reading: Leipzig Buchmesse (Leipzig Book Fair) is only one of THE biggest book fairs in the world and I think the second largest in Germany after Frankfurt Buchmesse. ZDF stands for one of Germany’s largest and most prominent TV channels. I don’t have to explain to magazine readers or men and women of the WordPress world who or what Stern.de stands for, do I?

werewolf-under-full-moonIf Neobooks accept your manuscript on their site for ebook publication and you put the time in to promote your book/s, you stand a good chance of not only making book sales but getting proper literary respect from your peers, publishers, readers and critics. They have nurtured a large number of authors who since then have become bestsellers.

The site encourages reviews and acts as a useful resource with lots of excellent tips how to protect your work. If you were looking for an outlet for your translated manuscript, this could be the one for you; you’ll just need to borrow/hire a German speaker to help you with the set-up and upload.

I’ll report back when it’s done. Incidentally, all my uploads into Bookrix (dot)com have now been made available at the retailers they work with. It took about a week, no more, before all was up for sale. Pretty good, bearing in mind that with traditional print publishers it can take up to 2 years before a book sees the light of day. Please stop by to leave a review if you’ve got the time…and give us a howl, if you cannot make sense out of uploading with Bookrix.

Happy writing everyone!

 

(source of animation: heathersanimations.com)

Vampire masters eBook Technology with minimum Bloodletting

Iconic scene from F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu, 1922 A screenshot of the 1922 film, Nosferatu. Though the film is in the public domain in the US, It is not in the public domain outside of US (and its origin). License details Public domain in the United States, likely copyrighted in Germany until at least 2029.

Iconic scene from F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, 1922

Over on Maria Thermann’s blog I’ve just explained my heroic efforts of dealing with uploading my ebook text into the Bookrix template – so this gives me the perfect opportunity to tell all of you creatures of the night out there what to watch out for when using your own artwork or book cover design for publishing an ebook via Bookrix.

I chose to create my own artwork for Willow the Vampire’s various adventures but this meant that Bookrix’s own logo and the tag line I wanted to insert were causing a multitude of problems.

If you are not choosing from one of their own royalty free templates, it best to use option 2 (upper left hand side of the upload screen), which allows you to upload and insert your own picture/artwork and insert the text via Bookrix text boxes. It also allows you to unclick the Bookrix logo and their book category, so these won’t appear on your book any longer once unclicked.

You are given lots of different font, colour and size choices for your title, tag line and author name but each will always appear in the dead centre of the part of the cover where you place your text box, which can be a nuisance if your artwork just happens to be a face – people who write their memoires will probably be cursing the No. 2 option.

For best results your design should have 3 areas that are fairly uni-coloured, so the text of the title, author name and tag line, if using, stands out as much as possible and isn’t obscured by the photo or artwork in the background. Anything preventing the reader who searches for ebooks to decipher what it says on the cover may throw your book out with distrubtion channels (Amazon, Google etc).

Placing the tag line on the Willow the Vampire & the Sacred Grove cover was a nightmare, because no matter what text colour I chose, it never stood out well against the background colours.

This is approximately what I ended up with: WTV sacred grove cover for scribd kindle amazonSo I’ll now have to change the cover on Amazon & Kindle & Scribd.com to match all of them to the Bookrix cover. It’s not the cover I’d hoped for but hey, I know better for next time.

And herewith I have now addressed a young reader’s – Miss Baethge – concern, namely that my last blog post didn’t contain the links for the ebooks I had uploaded on Bookrix.  I simply hadn’t received them then. Just click on the book title in the paragraph above and it will take you to the sales page, so you can have a look at how your ebook might be displayed to people who have not signed up to Bookrix but could potentially buy your book. It’s free to join Bookrix.

Within the community, once you’re a member, authors can join groups like they would on Goodreads and have discussions, promote their work, get advice etc. I’m really chuffed with the author page I got, which was easy to set up and looks amazing. It comes complete with a blog that allows authors and readers to communicate. Again, this was totally free.

The other two ebook links for Willow’s adventures are:

http://www.bookrix.com/_ebook-maria-thermann-to-hell-with-bloodsuckers/

and

http://www.bookrix.com/_ebook-maria-thermann-an-embarrassment-of-witches/

It is entirely free to publish ebooks, you get an ISBN number without any upfront cost and as long as you ignore their “if your book is ready upload the whole file” option and copy and paste instead into their “editorial template”, the second option on the upload page, you should get your book out there in no time. I’ve explained this in more detail on my Maria Thermann blog.

Description: The Vampire. 1893. Edvard Munch. Munch Museum at Oslo. xfgxdtjh

Description: The Vampire. 1893. Edvard Munch. Munch Museum at Oslo. xfgxdtjh

Distribution with some of the bigger ebook sellers can take up to two weeks before your ebook is listed, so my next post should contain the links to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, Thalia, Google etc and I will update the Willow front page for this blog at that point – to have a coherent promotional approach, according to the Bookrix promotion guide I was sent for free.

A word of warning: if the layout of your book’s manuscript or your spelling and grammar leave a lot to be desired, you won’t be published and the Bookrix team will reject your book; you must revise it before trying again.

You can also upload books without selling them, making them available for free, which is what I have done to whet readers’ appetite for Willow’s adventures. It’s a single short story published as a book.

 

(Willow the Vampire book cover artwork copyright Maria Thermann, all rights reserved; source of pictures: Wikipedia; please note:

F.W. Murnau – screen capture around the 1hr 19min mark; a screenshot of the 1922 film, Nosferatu. Though the film is in the public domain in the US, It is not in the public domain outside of US (and its origin). License details: Public domain in the United States, likely copyrighted in Germany until at least 2029)

 

 

Vampire sneaks into Bookrix

bookbaby WTV cover 2Yes, Stinkforth-upon-Avon’s most famous vampire has made it into the e-book market in a big way…well, according to Bookrix, she’s sneaked into the virtual world in about 60 different ways…so far without the slightest bit of blood-letting on anyone’s part.

Willow the Vampire’s short stories and one feature length adventure are now available on Bookrix.com and via ca. 60 other e-book outlets. Two short stories, just long enough for young readers to get their fangs into,  are also available under the book titles “An Embarrassment of Witches” and “To Hell with Bloodsuckers”. One of them is for free, how good is that?

It gets even better; as a bona fide Goodreads.com author this shameless self-promoting woman called Maria Thermann has made one whole juicy chapter available for young readers to sample for free.

Any creatures of the night out there now green with envy must bide their time until Maria’s laptop has caught up with all her other writing projects.

Happy summer reading everyone!

 

Taking Short-Cuts

bear on bikeIt’s been a very long time since I worked – still as an office slave – in London and now, that I’m staying here for a few months, I recalled how back in the 1980s and 1990s I used to walk everywhere in London because of constant bomb threats from the IRA. Frequently, underground stations would be closed for several hours at a time, making you either hopelessly late for work in the morning or delaying you to such an extent that train services back to sunny Surrey, where I used to live, would practically pack up and go home for the night before one managed to get back to Waterloo Station.

MonkWalkingJust as slowly as a medieval traveller on ox cart or on foot in air-conditioned sandals, the trusted cudgel by one’s side (which in my case tended to be a brolly), I would creep through the little rat runs and shortcuts of Soho to get back to Leicester Square and from there to Embankment, pushing through the crowds, the noise and the litter. Walking felt so much safer to me than taking the underground, even if it meant taking a risk in London’s dingy side streets.

Intellectual Short-Cuts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATaking short-cuts in children’s writing is much harder to do, because their understanding of the world is less developed than that of adults. This has really hit home with me over the last few days, while I’m putting the finishing touches to my first German language novel for adults. When writing for grown-ups one merely needs to mention stiletto heels and the click-y-de-clack they make on the pavement and an adult reader will picture the type of person doing the walking perfectly. Finding child-sized short-cuts, as it were, is much harder.

If the writer takes examples from kid’s movies…those examples will date quickly…if one takes examples from classic literature kids might not have read those books yet. Be too long winded in the thing you want to say and kids throw your book away and head for a short-cut into the garden to play footie or go online to play games.

Travelling safely

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMedieval travellers, it strikes me, would probably have avoided taking short-cuts in real life, but they were masters at using metaphors in their paintings, illuminated books and swirly scrolls. Travelling was far too risky and best done in large numbers on well frequented routes.

monk with fishIf you wanted to get from castle A to fortress B, you joined a throng of pilgrims, preferably one with a few knights attached to their party, and hobbled along. Any creature of the night that might be tempted to drag you off to hell would think twice about attacking, for the throng of pilgrims might easily scare attackers off with a few well-aimed Hallelujahs, a punch on the nose and handy crosses aimed at the ghoul. Intellectual travelling, on the other hand, involved side-stepping a great deal of moral scrutiny, mostly from church leaders but also from an educated person’s peers.

What better way to avoid detection than using a few nifty metaphors of which only you and your mates knew the true meaning? Several hundred years later intellectual travellers looking at medieval paintings or books need an expert guide to help them find their way through the incomprehensible maze. Here taking short-cuts would have preserved the necks of those who painted or wrote something that the ruling order of the day did not approve of.

Getting lost in the Here and Now

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANegotiating the short-cuts we take in our stories thankfully no longer means trying to hide from the ruling classes for most of us – unless you live in a dictatorship or other type of evil regime. However, our writing short-cuts will be just as incomprehensive to future readers, no matter what age, if we go with the trendy phrases, the metaphors of Hollywood or TV. Yes, trying to please the “ruling classes” of current readerships is just as oppressive. Be a rebel, avoid the trendy and stick to the timeless!

What does that mean?

book00021 history book closesWell, if you want to describe a character in your book as somebody who’s easily led and superficial you could use the metaphor of gadgets, mobile phones perhaps or tablets…but remember, in just a few years’ time, a new generation may no longer understand what you’re talking about because technology moves on so quickly. If you’re aiming to write a book that will stand the test of time, especially in children’s and YA markets, and allow future armchair travellers to enjoy it just as much as readers would today, your short-cuts should be recognisable as such by future generations of readers.

A little moth-eaten around the Edges

The_Moth_Diaries_FilmPosterNo, I’m not talking about myself here! Although, admittedly the image staring back at me in my mirror could do with smoothing out, peeling off the old and pasting on a younger, fresher smile once in a while. At least you still have a mirror image, I hear the vampire enthusiast among you cry. You are right, one should always be grateful for small mercies in life and after-life.

Actually, my comment about being a bit moth-eaten around the edges was aimed at the movie “The Moth Diaries” which I finally got around watching last weekend when I wanted a break from writing chirpy travel articles about Spain and Portugal.

Although I’m not strictly saying that the film was boring – far from it – it just took such a long time getting round to what it wanted to say that I was tempted to shout “aren’t we there yet” at my laptop screen, like an impatient child sitting in the back of a car on her way to Harry Potter World.

I liked the moth element of this supernatural tale, which of course was chosen because it mirrored the protagonist’s happiest childhood memory; only the vampire knew how to twist and pervert this life-sustaining memory into something deadly and morbid.

Bela_Lugosi_as_Dracula,_anonymous_photograph_from_1931,_Universal_StudiosWhat I found interesting was the fact that this supernatural caper went back to the pre-Dracula days in the vampire genre when vamps where emotional life suckers rather than the blood-slurping variety. These are, of course, the type of vampires one is more likely to encounter in real life than the fangy Count D.

It made me think back of my school days and how certain types of people simply cannot bear to see others being friends or lovers without wanting to insinuate themselves into the middle and sucking the life out of that relationship.

Oddly enough, elements of the Transylvanian school of thought, as I call the emotional life sucker folklore, will be creeping into my 2nd Willow adventure too, although for the moment I have put this to the backburner to finish another book.

How do you prefer your creatures of the night? Biting with gusto into a throaty, full bloodied adventure or wheedling their way into the heart of the matter like a sly maggot?

 

(picture source Wikipedia: The Moth Diaries is a 2011 Irish-Canadian horror film directed by Mary Harron. It is based on a 2002 novel of the same name written by Rachel Klein)

Faeries, Faeries, quite contrary

flying pixie manDuring research for one of my WIPs I came across this lovely book “Faeries, Elves and Goblins – The Old Stories” by Rosalind Kerven, a National Trust book published under their Folklore banner. It not only has beautiful illustrations by Arthur Rackham and other acclaimed artists but also contains a very interesting collection of stories and a wealth of information about the Little People living under hills, in meadows and ancient groves.

I had never realised how wicked some faeries, goblins and elves could be – just read King Herla’s story or the plight of poor farm boy Tom Tiver, when he meets goblin Yallery Brown, and you’ll know what I mean!

Not all of these nightly creatures are wicked though and some are rather helpful to humans, provided said men, women and children are deserving of their magical interference. I also didn’t know how many different kinds of faeries existed in the folklore catalogue of mythical creatures populating the British Isles – there’s a veritable legion of them.

fairy on islandThanks to J K Rowling we all know about Cornish Pixies, and if you aren’t friends with Hermione Granger it’s probably not a good idea to invite a Cornish Pixie into your house for tea. But did you know there were pixie populations in Devon and Somerset, too? Would a Devon Pixie have a different accent than a Cornish one? Would a Somerset Pixie offer you a pint of scrumpy if you asked nicely?

Do you know what a Greenie or Grey Neighbour is or have you ever come across Henkies, Hobs or Hogmen before?

Hands up, who’s heard of Phynnodderees, Portunes or Trows? Ever come across the Siofra, Spriggans or Grogachs after a particularly boozy night out?

I’m especially intrigued by the stories that mention faerie folk living under hills and mountains, for it ties in with my research on Arthurian legends – not the medieval 12th and 13th century romantic versions we usually get to see on telly or on the silver screen, but the “real” 6th century AD legendary King Arthur and Merlin characters mentioned in various historical documents (which may be fictional accounts and not about real people at all but hey, us folklore fanatics take what we can get).

To me, faeries belong to the Dark Ages, the time when the Romans had left the British Isles and Britons had to fend for themselves – and according to legends, Arthur and Merlin were probably the last remaining defenders of the Celtic way of life, before the invading Saxons and their nasty new-fangled religion destroyed the magic that had once permeated every aspect of Brythonic life. King Herla’s story in particular stands out – it’s almost as if the storyteller is referring to the Romans, making them faerie folk who promised a land of golden opportunity, patronage, friend-and kinship and then simply vanishing into thin air.

excalibur out of waterSo if you want to learn more about these mischievous creatures of the night, these laughing, chanting, giggling dancers and musicians with their gem encrusted halls, their faerie gold and silver bells, their colourful clothes and strange sense of humour, have a peek at Rosalind Kerven’s book. It’s perfect night time reading material.

 

(source for animations: heathersanimations.com)