Thursday, November 28, 2013

Shapeshifters review

I've just spotted what may be the first review of the Fox Pockets Shapeshifters anthology, at the 'Tony's Thoughts' review site on Wordpress.

I'm sure he won't mind me nicking a couple of his comments and reproducing them here:

"There is more to this book than werewolves. It explores the mythology of various cultures from South American to Northern Europe to give a distinctly global feel to this collection of stories."

"Every story is different but they are all dark and predatory in places. It is well worth a read..."

He seems to have liked it!

You can catch the rest of the review here.  Don't forget the paperback is available from Lulu at the remarkable price of only £4.50.  A nice idea for a Christmas stocking-filler, perhaps?

Monday, November 25, 2013

What's in the fox's pocket?

Just a quick line to say that the Fox Pockets series now has a video trailer available on YouTube.  Not only for the currently available Shapeshifters and Piracy anthologies, but also for various other titles due to hit the book shelves later this year and early next.

In case you've been on Mars the last few weeks and haven't noticed, I have a story called The Boyfriend From Hell in the Shapeshifters volume.  The paperback is available on Lulu right now and the ebook should be coming soon.

You can see more about the book here, and watch the video trailer here.

Happy viewing!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gleams at Waterstones online

Like most writers I mostly have my head in the clouds so it can take me a while to catch up with new developments.

However, whilst rummaging around on the Waterstones website, I discovered that Gleams of a Remoter World is fully available on - and *cough* probably has been for quite some time.

Pop along to my website for further details and the all-important buying link!

I'm still working on getting the print book into Waterstones book shops.  There are lots of forms to fill in, letters to write and information to look up so it's taking longer than I hoped.  And of course, all that only goes as far as their central buying committee, who may still say no. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tentacles at the ready

Great news today - my latest story is out in the Shapeshifters anthology from Fox Pockets.

The Boyfriend From Hell is a daft little tale involving aliens, birthday presents and showers - and tentacles, of course.  Lots of tentacles.  And if you think your other half is bad, leaving the loo seat up or eating all the biscuits and putting the wrappers back, then I can assure you, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Want a giggle before Christmas?  Then look no further than Lulu, where the book (featuring an impressive sixteen short stories by a range of authors) is available for the very reasonable price of $7.64 (approximately £5).

Monday, November 11, 2013

Walking weekend

Last weekend a combination of bad weather and sheer laziness meant we spent most of the time cooped up indoors.  This weekend we were determined to Get Out, no matter what.

On Saturday we started our Christmas shopping in Kendal.  It seemed as though everyone else in south Cumbria had the same idea since the town was heaving, but we got some cards and a few other bits and pieces which is a good start.

The weather had gradually been deteriorating, and by afternoon the skies had gone black and the heavens opened in a series of torrential, thundery downpours that included hail and even sleet.  Not the best conditions for walking, but we both had twitchy legs so donned boots, waterproofs and brollies and set off past our local waterfall (which, needless to say, was roaring in a very impressive way) and then back by various footpaths.  It isn't exactly a country walk but the autumn colours are spectacular and in spite of getting soaked we rather enjoyed it.

Yesterday was a glorious day from start to finish, so we decided to hang the chores and get our boots back on.  We drove round the other side of the lake to do a walk Dave discovered when he was preparing for the Coast to Coast a couple of months ago.  This starts in the little village of Far Sawrey (not Near Sawrey which is famous for Beatrix Potter's former home, Hill Top) and follows a stream through some idyllic countryside to a cluster of tarns on the hills above the village.  These have the most wonderful names - Moss Eccles and Wise Een - and are surprisingly little-known, which is a shame because the walk is lovely and the reward at the top well worth it.  Moss Eccles Tarn was dark and moody, surrounded by trees with only a brief glimpse of the Coniston fells in the background, but Wise Een Tarn was set like a jewel in open heathland with spectacular sweeping views of most of the central fells, from the Langdale Pikes right round to Wetherlam.  And the highest tops were dusted with snow.

The view from Wise Een Tarn - although the weather was a little different!

Dave had kept very quiet about the view so it was a complete revelation and rather wonderful.  I snapped a load of photos, then we plodded back down the path and called in at the local pub, The Cuckoo Brow, for a nice Sunday lunch.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Yahoo Groups update

Many thanks to a friend who pointed out a way to rescue the situation I blogged about yesterday.

As far as I can tell, the mobile phone requirement is still mandatory, but you can now postpone it.  Whether you can go on postponing it indefinitely I'm not sure, but it will at least give you access to your own Yahoo groups again.

Here's what to do if you find yourself in the same situation:

1.  Log out of Yahoo (not just a group, but Yahoo itself).

2.  Log back in.  At the screen where it asks for your mobile/cell phone number, click 'remind me later'.

3.  This should take you back into Yahoo, but with one notable improvement - you now have access to your groups again.

I'm thinking Yahoo may have responded to a welter of criticism, because the log-in screen I saw today was subtly different from the one I saw when I tried to log in last weekend.  No matter.  I can now access my groups again, and even if it's for a limited period I can at least warn the moderators that I might suddenly vanish in a puff of smoke!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Yahoo Groups and mobile (cell) phones

If you're a member of any Yahoo Groups, not least for business or professional reasons, then read on, because this will apply to you.

Apparently Yahoo have just changed the terms of membership for Yahoo Groups. They kept this remarkably quiet so I've only found out about it through trying to discover why I couldn't get into my own groups any more!

Basically it's now mandatory to give them your mobile (cell) phone number. No mobile phone number, no membership. There is no way round this, no let-out clause, nothing. Which seems a little... draconian, but presumably they want phone numbers so they can sell them on for advertising. Google also ask for a mobile number from time to time, but they at least have a 'don't want to give it' box you can tick. Yahoo don't. You can't even give a land-line number instead; apparently someone tried and it came back with 'invalid number'.

Last time I tried to log into my groups I got a dialogue box asking for my mobile number. I sure as heck wasn't going to give some vast creepy multinational organisation with a reputation for getting hacked regularly anything as personal as that, so I tried leaving it blank. It took me back to the same box. I tried again, same result. Eventually, in tiny print under the box I noticed a link saying "I don't have a mobile phone", so I clicked that. I was in a hurry and not taking much notice, but I'm pretty
sure (aka 99% certain) that there were no terms and conditions, no warnings, no mention of any penalties.

By clicking that link, I have automatically downgraded my membership to 'mailing list only' rather than full membership of any Yahoo Groups. I am no longer a member of any of my groups, including two groups run by my publisher. I can send and receive email, but that's all. I can't even access my groups to change my email preferences, or to leave the groups. I will never be able to do so.  And there appears to be no way to re-access that mobile phone dialogue box, enter the number of (say) an old or non existent phone, and get my membership back again.

I'm not sure all this is even legal - there was no notification that they would be doing this, and no explanation or warning on screen when they asked for the mobile number. But do it they have, and I just wanted to warn everybody else because it will eventually apply to everybody in Yahoo Groups.

Sorry for the rant!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Gleams on the shelf

My previous attempts to have Gleams of a Remoter World stocked by local bookstores have met with polite but firm rebuffs, so I'm doubly delighted to announce that as of now, print copies are available from The Carnforth Bookshop in Carnforth, Lancashire.

This is a complete Aladdin's Cave of a shop selling books old and new, books fiction and non-fiction, maps, guides, stationery, gifts, calendars, cards, and even more books, in over 14 rooms on three floors of a lovely old stone building on Market Street.  The proprietor has kindly agreed to make a little space on his overflowing shelves for a few copies of Gleams, which he said would stand out on the shelf thanks to the stunning cover art and 'unique' content.

So, if you'd like to explore the shop and pick up a copy of my book while you're at it, the address is 38-42 Market Street, Carnforth, Lancashire LA5 9JX.  Phone number is 01524 734588, and the shop has its own website.

You can even combine the trip with a visit to the Carnforth Railway Heritage Centre, a fascinating museum based at the railway station, which is best known for the fact that they filmed Brief Encounter on the platform.  They've recreated the old ticket office and refreshment room, piled every nook and cranny high with railway and movie memorabilia, and they don't even charge to go in.  We went for the first time on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed it.