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)








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:




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)



The Super-Human Power of Choice

Before I forget: for those of you who enjoyed reading the first two chapters of Willow the Vampire & the Sacred Grove, I’ve uploaded chapter three on the Sample Chapters page.

The animals I’m going to mention today have no business being in a blog titled Creatures of the Night, since they’re not nocturnal – but they possess a particular super-human power that links them with the vampire genre.

Vampires in modern fiction can transform into bats, rats, wolves or foggy apparitions; they can scale walls and mountain-sides whilst hanging up-side-down, fly through the air, jump several meters up into the air and hypnotise us with their stare. In folklore vampires can be anything they wish to be: babies, ghost-like ghouls, beautiful sirens who want to seduce us or devils that want to devour us whole.

In Joss Whedon’s superb TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dracula can even reform after Buffy has turned him to dust by staking him through the chest. Various methods for killing vampires are described in folklore as well as modern fiction, using a wooden stake through the heart and exposing them to sunshine being among the best known and most popular methods.

All vampires have something in common with tortoises, tuataras and parrots though, which has ensured their continued existence in our collective psyches: their super-human longevity. Living forever – or at least well beyond our allotted time – has been an enduring theme in literature.

Whilst nobody really knows how long whales, lobsters and other marine creatures actually live – we typically murder everything that moves before we have time to find out anything about the other living being – tuataras are known to live for more than 100 years. As lizards they are the oldest “living fossil” on Earth, having survived for 225 million years. They saw dinosaurs come and go, witnesses our ape-like ancestors desert their arboreal nests and take to the grasslands and were present, when white invaders landed on the shores of the Maori’s homelands.

Tuatara Sphenodon punctatus

Tuatara Sphenodon punctatus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tuatara has a unique arrangement of teeth; in a single row in their lower jaw fits snugly between two rows of sharp teeth located in their upper jaw. The word “tuatara” stems from the Maori language and means “crests on the back”, since the tuatara is an inhabitant of New Zealand and has a dorsal crest to be proud of. Their powerful claws dig small burrows during the day, when the tuatara needs to protect itself from the mid-day heat.

Tuataras continue to grow until they are 35 years old – indeed, some tuataras have been known to continue growing until they are 50 – and have been known to live for 120 years and more. Parrots typically outlive their owners and have to be included in the owner’s will to ensure they’ll have a home, after the owner has died. As for tortoises, we still don’t know for certain how long some of their order can live.

Our own mortality and the uncertainty of the existence of an afterlife are a powerful motive for conjuring up creatures of the night like vampires. My own cancer was partly responsible for my wish to finally complete my Willow the Vampire novel…something to leave behind after my demise…in the absence of any super-human powers like being able to re-assemble myself after I’ve been “dusted” by the NHS!

There are two types of tuataras, one that is threatened with extinction with only 400 specimen left in the wild on North Brother Island (genus: the Sphenodon guntheri tuatara) and more than 60,000 individuals of the Sphenodon punctatus living dotted around in 30 island habitats off the north-easterly coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Unlike humans, the tuataras’ sex is determined by the temperature at the time of incubation. Both varieties belong to the reptile order of Rhynchocephalia.

In the animal kingdom super-human powers are the norm, not the exception. From the highest jumper, the flea, to the fastest land mammal, the cheetah, animals are far better adapted to the world around them than we are…Wouldn’t it be great, if we used the one and only truly unique feature we have, our laughter, to do something GOOD with it? Now that would truly amount to a super-human power, wouldn’t it?

…but instead of using our unique ability to laugh about our lack of super-powers, we are seemingly intent to wipe out anything that makes us feel jealous.

Just as well our lifespan isn’t anything like the tuataras’ or the common vampire’s (genus Vampiricus bitey-puss)!