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!

 

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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…

 

 

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.

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)

 

 

What’s Bartholomeoaw’s real Catty Secret?

For those of you who have already finished reading Willow the Vampire and the Sacred Grove, Bartholomeoaw’s secret will be a “cat out of the bag”.

Willow’s pet is a little  more than meets the eye – which for most people in Stinkforth-upon-Avon means a mangy old cat that has seen better days and should perhaps better stay at home instead of going on vampire hunt.

While Bartholomeoaw has the appearance of a domestic cat, there is more to the species of cat that meets the eye from anyone’s perspective. Cats are often referred to as the ultimate hunters. As strict carnivores – notwithstanding my own cat’s hankering after digestive biscuits – cats in the wild eat mainly meat.

In nature we will find cats in practically all the regions our planet has to offer – from deserts in Africa to the icy cold horizon in the Arctic. Only Australia and Antarctica are cat-free zones. Famous for their grace and strength as well as astonishing agility, cats come in a huge range of sizes, colours and “danger factor”. From the massive lions of Africa to the kitty in your shoe-box, they all have in common that they bewitch us with their beauty, their elegance and mysterious stare!

The species CAT is actually split into three sub-families. There are big cats of the Pantherinae family, which includes lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards for example. Then there are the much smaller cats, the Felinae, which range from pumas, bobcats, lynx to ocelot. The graceful cheetah is in a category all on its own, namely the Acinonychinae.

The main difference that separates these families are the flexibility of their larynx. Who hasn’t shuddered at a lion’s roar in the zoo, when their yawn suddenly erupted into that ear-shattering noise? Only big cats can roar – probably just as well, or my own cat would have driven me to distraction long ago!

Cheetahs don’t have retractable claws like other cats and they are also much, much faster runners than other cats, or indeed other animals for that matter.

Domestic cats like Willow’s cat Bartholomeoaw often lie on their side so we can stroke their tummies. They learn how to do this when they are still kittens, namely when their  mums grooms them every day by licking their fur. It also serves as a warning pose to enemies in nature, since cats with their tummies exposed, their four legs outstretched, their teeth bared and their claws flexed can turn around in seconds to bite and scratch anyone who comes to close.

When you get to know Willow’s pet a little better, you will realise that stroking Bartholomeoaw’s tummy is not an activity to be undertaken without taking special precautions…like wearing oven-mitts for example!

Domestic cats might eat anything from mice and frogs in the garden or fields surrounding your home to raiding bins in cities or eating dainty portions of cat food in our kitchens. In the wild feral and domestic cats might even hunt rabbits, a prey nearly their own size.

Domestic cats are not adverse to a morsel of nice fish, while cats living in Stinkforth-upon-Avon might occasionally feast on vampires-turned-bat and wash it all down with a slurp of blood-wine.