Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tiamat's Nest

Weather forecasting is a life-or-death profession, and hard sciences and technology are all that keep people alive and fed. Anthropologists, soft and useless, rank slightly below politicians and telemarketers on the social scale. This sucks for Charles Hawthorne, Professor of Anthropology.

Worse yet, his research into human behavior has discovered how human history ended up on its current miserable course, and the perpetrator is hell-bent on keeping it hidden.

Worst of all, with everything mechanical under computer control, the most innocuous device is a potential murder weapon to a well-connected villain.

After a series of deadly near-misses Charles flees to the wilds of Greenland where the global network has yet to reach. But to deal with the threat, to save himself and his family, Charles has to confront technology full on and enter the even more hostile world online.

Freeing humanity from a lifetime of slavery comes as an added bonus.

# # # # #

Release date: August 30
Price: $2.99 after release, or pre-order now for $0.99 

at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo.

I appreciate any help to spread the word. If you mention Tiamat’s Nest on your blog please drop a link in the comments here with instructions on how to contact you, and I’ll get you a free e-copy once the book is on general release.

If you’d like to do a pre-release review (on your blog, or on Amazon or Goodreads) please let me know. I’ll get you a PDF of the text ahead of time, and a free e-copy of the official version once it’s released.

Many thanks to those of you who’ve already offered mentions and guest posts. I’ll be in touch next month when I return from vacation.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Selfie revenge

Ever been out as a family and your teenage daughter can't stop taking selfies of herself and her friends?

Us oldies can play at that game too!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


When Ali & I toured BC twenty years ago, long before we moved here and before we’d put serious thoughts to starting a family, one of the strongest impressions we had of the place was family-friendliness.

Everywhere we went, we saw facilities, parks and playgrounds, and people having fun as a family. This was a stark contrast to the “adults only” and “children should be kept out of the way” attitudes back home, which we had never even noticed as (at that time) a childless couple.

Every so often, I’m reminded of that childlike attitude to fun that prevails here - one of the drivers for our move over ten years ago. We’ve just returned from the Canada Day parade through Sidney this morning. Yesterday evening we watched a glorious fireworks display from the Sidney pier. I was struck yet again by the happy and casual atmosphere throughout the town as all generations mingle in a friendly and trouble-free atmosphere.

Long may those attitudes prevail.

Happy Canada Day.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Phew! It’s getting hot!

It’s been a glorious spring in this part of BC, and summer is kicking into high gear this weekend. Don’t know how long it will last, these spells of 30+ tend to last only a week or two each year around Victoria, but for now it’s barbecues and salads alfresco.

With one thing and another, my plans to get everything finalized this month to release Tiamat’s Nest early July took a hit. Seeing as we’ve also got some summer camping planned I’ve now settled on a release date at the end of August.

If anyone would like to help spread the word, I’ll be posting more details as soon as the final cover is ready. Meanwhile, the e-book is now available for pre-order on Smashwords at an introductory price of $0.99.

So, how’s your summer going? And do you have any unique or adventurous vacation plans?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Memory lane

Things have been quiet on the blog recently for a couple of reasons.

First, I'm letting life settle back to normality after a week-long trip to my old home in Guernsey, UK. This is only the second time I've been back since moving to Canada, and the last trip was six years ago. This will probably tell you that this is not a journey I choose to make for my own pleasure. Both times were to celebrate significant family anniversaries.

I was not looking forward to the traveling. It's long, tiring, and we are regularly regaled with stories of how airlines treat their paying passengers as nothing more than cattle to be herded into the smallest possible space, so I had visions of traveling conditions deteriorating even further over the last six years.

In the end, things weren't nearly as bad as I'd feared, and the trip as a whole was a good experience. The downsides were the inevitable fatigue of so much traveling for such a short spell - barely over jet lag one way before it's time to turn around and head home - and endless waits in airport lounges, shuffling in line at check-ins, security, passport control, baggage reclaim...

On the plus side, I was pleasantly surprised by the Air Transat flight. Although airline seats are not designed to fall asleep in, at least I didn't feel like my knees were pressed into my chest the whole way. And we were served relatively decent food, with a complimentary glass of wine - something I really didn't expect in cattle class!

It was good to reconnect with family and some old friends, and to revisit a few places. Things haven't changed much over the years, apart from a bit more development squeezing out the last few open spaces. The big change has been in my own perceptions. Having grown used to open spaces, few crowds, and courteous drivers, getting around the island was intimidating to say the least.

As an added bonus, I was able to meet sci-fi artist Chris Foss, who has a home and a studio in Guernsey. Chris's cover art for Azimov and E.E. "Doc" Smith books, amongst others, has had a big influence on my own work.

The second reason for staying offline (I did say there were a couple) - I'm busy finalizing Tiamat's Nest for publication. After a few back-and-forths with the book designer I think we're very close on the cover design, and I'm working through a final round of edits on the text. I'm hoping to release the e-book next month, with the paperback to follow shortly after. More information to follow in due course...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

No, I'm not a robot

I've just encountered a new level in online annoyance.

The dreaded Captcha is being replaced on some blogs by an innocuous check box saying "Please prove you're not a robot".

Up to now, on blogs I've visited this simply involves clicking on the box and posting the comment. This morning's, though was different.

When I clicked on the box, up popped a new form that at first I thought was an irritating pop-up advertisement for something to do with cookery. After a few second's hunting for a way to dismiss the intrusion, I realized it was part of the verification process.

I was presented with a dozen pictures of food, and the instruction to click on all those that involved pasta or noodles. Sounds easy, except the images were too small and grainy to confidently tell in many cases what they were pictures of. I tried, but didn't find enough to satisfy the beast and it gave me a new test. Ice cream this time. This was easier because they were more obvious, but there were clear cultural assumptions at work. Who outside of North America, for example, would know that a round carton with a big "DQ" on the side needed to be clicked?

In my view, this now officially surpasses Google+ and Disqus in the "pointless ways to piss off your readers" stakes.

I can guarantee that if your blog inflicts this on me I will not be leaving a comment.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Our connected world

Isn't it strange how technology has changed us in just a few short years? Sometimes I complain about the "always connected" life we live, especially the kids with their iPhones surgically implanted into the palms of their hands, but even I, dinosaur and closet Luddite, feel somehow vulnerable if I leave the house without a phone.

Sometimes, though, it can be handy.

Just about to leave work this evening. Phone rings. Ali, telling me to avoid the highway. Tailback northbound almost back to the edge of town, so find an alternate route. She's caught up in the middle of it so I might be home before her despite setting out a lot later. I travel on side roads and rejoin the highway several miles up, beyond where accidents usually happen.

Beetling along nicely - and thanks for the warning - when I hit another slow patch and finally reach the actual source of the trouble - a nasty accident in the other lane. If traffic northbound was slow, southbound from that point on was worse than I've ever seen it. I need to turn left at some point but all the intersections are snarled up with oncoming traffic trying to escape the mayhem.

Call Ali (before you ask, hands-free and legal!) to check on her progress - not a true necessity, but peace of mind counts for a lot at my age. They've made it past the crush. Better yet, they'd made another diversion down to the coast and just spotted a pod of orcas out in the bay. I was in time to join them, but if we hadn't been connected I would have missed the sight.

Everyday technology does have its perks.
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