Thursday, August 30, 2012

Facebook author app

A friend of mine passed on a rather dire warning about the Author Marketing App on Facebook, which many authors probably aren't aware of. As with so many of these things, it seems it pays to read the small print. More particularly, the bit of the small print which reads:

"You grant to Agile Marketing the unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual fully-paid and royalty-free right and license to host, use, copy, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, resell, sublicense, display, perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, modify, make derivative works from, retitle, reformat, translate, archive, store, cache or otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content to which you have contributed, for any purpose whatsoever, in any and all formats; on or through any and all media, software, formula or medium now known or hereafter known; and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed and to advertise, market and promote same."

In other words, you're signing away all rights to any content, including any excerpts or short stories you post, for all time, without any form of compensation.

Read it and weep. And more importantly, avoid this app like the proverbial plague unless you're happy with losing all control over any of your work that you add to it.

I knew there was a good reason I didn't like Facebook...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Allergy test

For some time now I've been having what seem suspiciously like anaphylactic shock reactions to something I eat at some restaurants. So far I haven't turned blue, but I have fainted and it's a little unnerving, as much for my companions as for me. The NHS specialist I saw several years ago was unhelpful to the point of being rude, but the attacks have kept on coming and finally, on Saturday, I plucked up courage to go for an allergy test at a local health food shop.

I have to admit I was dubious. The test was by means of a Vega machine and when I researched the process online the results were very negative. At best, I thought it would identify a few 'usual suspects' that I might be intolerant to. At worst, it would be £50 down the drain. But in fact, I was pleasantly surprised. The operator was clearly very experienced (and very sensible), and she'd set the whole thing up as a controlled experiment, so that neither of us knew the results in advance. I wasn't allowed to tell her what I thought I might be allergic to, so there was no way she could influence the results. And in turn, I had no idea which substance I was being tested for, so I couldn't influence the results.

And the results were interesting to say the least. Mild intolerances to citrus and tomatoes, a much more unusual intolerance to carrots (yes, really - she checked three times!) and a high intolerance (bordering on danger levels) to monosodium glutamate and several food dyes.

The mild intolerances aren't a problem - I simply cut out those foods as much as possible for a couple of months before reintroducing them gradually to my diet, which should hopefully give me time to build up tolerance to them. The higher level results for MSG, tartrazine and carmine red are much more of an issue, and are almost certainly what's causing my allergic reactions. How strange that the NHS specialist couldn't or wouldn't test for those, instead of selecting a couple of ingredients at random that I told him I hadn't eaten.

Of course, it's going to be difficult to avoid additives, particularly when eating out, but I can try to avoid cheaper restaurants which are more likely to use cheaper ingredients, and I can now press my GP for an epi-pen to carry around with me. And I no longer have to feel like a hysterical, middle-aged female who's imagining the whole thing, over-excited by the prospect of eating out, or trying to gain attention by fainting in public. Yes. Those really are some of the things that were suggested by the specialist.

Homeopathic testing gets a bad press (and sometimes probably deserves it). But in my case so far, it's homeopathy five, conventional medicine nil. And the best £50 I've spent in a very long while.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

UK Meet guest blog post

The UK Meet (for readers, writers and lovers of gltb fiction) is rapidly approaching and we're starting to do a little promotion of the event, and ourselves, in the lead-up.

Today, it's the turn of a guest blog post over at Jessewave's m/m review blog, where various authors who'll be heading to Brighton for the event are given the chance to say what they're hoping to get out of it. Other than sore feet from too much standing, sore throats from too much yakking, and a goody bag, of course.

Muggins here has added her twopence worth, so if you'd like to know more about my reasons for attending - and check out some of the other writers who'll be there - then pop along to Jessewave's blog for the lowdown.

Oh, and ps - there are still a few places available if you want to come along yourself. The place - Hotel Mercure in Brighton. The time - Friday 14th to Sunday 16th September, although you can just come for the Saturday. The cost - um, I can't remember, but you can find that and a load of other details on the UK Meet website. Do come along - it's going to be fun!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


The first round of edits on Gleams of a Remoter World have landed with a thump in my inbox, so I'm likely to be a little inundated for the next few days until I've worked my way through them.

Thankfully, so far, they don't seem too horrendous and thankfully I've now got to grips with the latest version of Word, so I'm not fighting to get every comment or comma in the right place! Even so, it's always hard work making sure I've dealt with everything I'm being asked to. So if I'm a little absent please bear with me. I will be back. And I'm very excited about the prospect of having this novel published.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Walking weekend

The good weather continued (mostly) unbroken throughout the weekend. We took one look at the blue skies and sunshine and said 'hang the chores', grabbed our boots and went out for a couple of lower level but still lovely walks.

On Saturday afternoon we chugged our way round about two thirds of the so-called 'Windermere three peaks' route - a slightly tongue-in-cheek description for an ascent of the three small fells at the back of the town: Brant Fell, School Knott and Orrest Head. I wimped out after the first due to the heat, which is fine when you're sitting elegantly in the back garden but a killer when toiling up one in four slopes with no shade. Dave, though, went on to complete the second as well and is hoping to add the third in the next few weeks. And even I must have walked a good three miles, much of it very uphill.

Yesterday we took the car out a short distance from the town, on narrow winding lanes through countryside that was like a step back in time. I'm not going to say exactly where we ended up because it was so utterly unspoilt and peaceful that I don't want to accidentally popularise it and spoil it for ever! But we parked by a small tarn and took off walking in the general area between Troutbeck and Kentmere, along a track that was simply plastered with wild flowers. I must have counted 25 or 30 different varieties in a four mile walk and haven't seen flowers like that for years. Setting off it was sunny with a fresh breeze, but after we'd been walking about an hour the clouds rolled in, the humidity level shot up, and the sky looked dark and threatening. We carried on for a short way, but thunderstorms on the fells can be unpleasant at best so in the end we wimped out again and headed back to the car. Needless to say, by the time we got back the clouds had cleared and the sun was shining as bright as ever... but we still had a really enjoyable Sunday afternoon stroll.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tourists for a day

Dave and I both have exceptionally busy periods coming up - him with travels all over the place, including abroad, and me with edits on my novel. On Wednesday the sun was shining for a change so we decided to make the most of the opportunity, and a relatively free day before the 'deluge', to become tourists for the day.

We headed over the Kirkstone Pass to Glenridding, grabbed about the last place in the huge car park there, and bought tickets for a boat trip on Ullswater, which I last did when I was about eleven, and Dave had never done before. The scenery around the lake is stunning, with high mountains at the head and more pastoral scenes at the foot, but usually Dave is manhandling the car round bends and past other traffic and can't take his eye off the road. We thought this would give him the chance to actually see the surroundings for a change.

Trouble was, we'd reckoned without the crowds. The boat we were on had not one but two entire coach parties stuffed into it before they even started letting us ordinary passengers on. Consequently we found ourselves down in the bowels of the boat, on stools in the bar area, with hardly any view... as the boat sailed past some of the most spectacular scenery in England. Never mind, we thought, we'll get off at Pooley Bridge, have a wander round and a cuppa, and catch a later boat back when the crowds have died down a bit.

We did exactly that, but everyone else had the same idea and although we got seats on the top deck on the way back, they were under an awning and facing backwards, so we still couldn't see much of the mountains. Sigh.

Never mind, it was a fun trip out, we grabbed a handful of photos from the pier at Glenridding, and we saw what looked suspiciously like the Lake District's only remaining golden eagle soaring over the crags near High Street. A magical moment that made the whole trip worthwhile.

If we do this again, though, it will be firmly out of season when the boats are quieter and we can get a decent seat!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Come to Brighton, win a Kindle!

The organisers of the forthcoming UK Meet in Brighton have just let those of us who will be attending know that there's a chance to win one of three Kindles:

"The organisers of UK Meet 2012 are delighted to announce that delegates will have the chance of winning one of three (count em!) Kindles, thanks to the generosity of one of our sponsors, Silver Publishing. We'll be putting one into the raffle in aid of our link charity (Albert Kennedy Trust) while the others...well, wait and see on the day."

It's still not too late to book your place at the event; anyone who reads, writes or is remotely interested in gltb fiction is more than welcome to attend and there's already a long list of fascinating panels to go to, as well as the chance to meet some of your favourite British (and even non-British) authors.

Yours truly will be popping along on the Saturday and reading out the first 150 words of my latest work at the 'Novel Openings' panel.

So if you're free on 14th, 15th and 16th September (or even just the 15th), and fancy a trip to Brighton and the chance to win yourself a Kindle, see the UK Meet official website for more details.

See you there!

Monday, August 06, 2012

'Necessity' in print - update

The Rentboy Collection anthology, containing not only Necessity's Door but three other super titles on the theme of sex bought and sold, is now fully available to buy in print.

The four stories are by yours truly; fellow British author Anne Brooke; Cat Grant; and the writing pair of Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane; and the stories range from the back streets of Birmingham to New Orleans in the floods.

If you'd like to treat yourself to the collection in print (complete with stunning cover artwork) then hurry along to the Riptide website where you can read excerpts, find out more, and place your order.