Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Isle of Arts

Looking for something madly cultural (but fun) to do in April?  Then why not clear a space in your diaries for the Isle of Arts festival, based on the Isle of Wight?

The festival, now in its third year, is a multi-arts event including music, art, comedy and literature and usually features a wide range of events, concerts, lectures, and themed walks.  I have to admit I'm not entirely unbiased since my uncle is one of the main organisers; however, he and his colleagues seem to have a knack for attracting some top level 'guest stars'.  Last year they snaffled Lesley Garrett while this year's acts include Alan Davies, Stuart Maconie and Femi Temowo.  They're even running a Doctor Who writing competition!

If you're interested, the event runs from 19-21 April 2013 in Ventnor, Isle of Wight.  Which is a jolly nice place to visit on its own account with spectacular cliffs, sea views, and a quaint town centre.  It's also a great base for exploring the rest of the island, a green and pleasant place with a distinct whiff of seaside holidays of the past.

Further details here:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sky Connect traffic management

A quick word of warning for any customers of the Sky Connect broadband service, who might have noticed their broadband download speeds plummeting recently.  Apparently Sky now use 'traffic management' at peak times - basically all evening on weekdays - for customers who either download a lot, or breach the terms of their contract.

Since the terms of said contract are woolly at best, and since Sky themselves decide what constitutes 'a lot', it's highly likely that large numbers of customers are being penalised, possibly unfairly.  We found our download speeds had been reduced from the advertised 8 Megs a second to something under half a Meg a second.  When we phoned to complain, we were told we were 'high users'.  However, when we checked the terms and conditions of our contract, high users were defined as downloading more than 1.3 gigabytes a day, a vast figure that we honestly don't think we could ever get close to.

If you are noticing delays, slow downloads and the like, it's worth checking your own contract and phoning customer support to find out if 'traffic management' has been applied to you.  If so, you might want to complain.  We have, and haven't even received a reply, but the more customers who say they're unhappy with this discrimination, the more likely Sky are to do something about it.

Or, of course, you could just find another provider.  We're already looking...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Framing marvellous...

I'm feeling absurdly pleased with myself.  The other day I found a spare clip-frame kicking about in a drawer.  Rather than use it elsewhere in the house, I printed off an A4 sized copy of the cover art from Gleams of a Remoter World, popped that in the frame, and have hung it over the desk in my study.  It's a little wonky (the wall is solid slate and I can never bang the nails in far enough) but it looks surprisingly good and is a great way of providing a little instant inspiration when work isn't going terribly well.  And LC Chase's stunning cover art looks even better in a frame...

Friday, February 08, 2013

The Swimming Lesson

This is the title of my latest short story, which has just gone 'live' over at Shotgun Honey.

The story was inspired by a photo I saw, of a man standing up to his knees in a beautiful blue sea, and beckoning.  It (the photo) was probably meant to be enticing but to me it looked ever-so-slightly unnerving.  Who was this man?  Who was he beckoning at, and why?  Perhaps I've seen Death in Venice one too many times, but it started a few things whirring in my mind and this story is the result.

You can read The Swimming Lesson (for free) here.  It's quite dark and twisted, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

QueeredFiction bites the dust

I've just popped over to the QueeredFiction website to check on something, and found the following brief and rather unhelpful message:

"QueeredFiction Press is closed. We thank you for being part of the QueeredFiction Press journey. "

And that's all.  There's no mention of the books and stories published by QF over the years, or whether the rights have reverted to the authors, or what's happened to any royalties that might be owing.  It's all a little unsatisfactory, and directly affects me because I had a story in their Queer Dimensions anthology.  Presumably, that's no longer available so I'll have to remove mention of it from my website.

It's a real shame the press has struggled the last few years and now closed, because the quality of the books they produced was very high, both in terms of formatting and in terms of the writing.  The stories in Queer Dimensions were mostly an absolute joy, and the editor was a thoroughly professional and pleasant chap.  However, small presses do tend to fail with monotonous regularity so I suppose it's no surprise this has gone the way of so many others...