Of Mice and Me

With Books, Wildlife Camera Traps, and Social Media
Hello

I am back from the sea, up in the mountains again, where the weather is perfect and mosquitoes rare*. The wildlife trail camera is set up down by the seasonal stream (the water seems to hide underground for a part of its length at this time of the year), giant rocks are being moved, walls painted, and fires readied for cooking. As most of you know by now, being out in wilder places agrees with me. As I recently discussed with a good friend, it’s not that I dislike cities — I don’t, I love them — it’s just that I expend energy in those places, and replace it in quieter, greener locations.

It is the same for me with people — I love meeting new people, I love catching up with friends, but, being an introvert, it is tiring for me and I only recharge my batteries when I am either alone or with Aurélie. Everyone is different, and I love that. There are times I miss the bustle of a city, times I miss large gatherings of people, but these things need balancing. If you are an extrovert, I can only imagine how tough being locked down for Covid must have been/still be.

It took me a long time to realise there was nothing wrong with needing time to recharge, nothing wrong with declining invitations to parties, pubs, meals, and gatherings. Like so many things in life, we often only reach an equilibrium after some years, understanding ourselves and, by extension, understanding and accepting others. It is the same with my fiction — it’s not for everyone. And that’s fine. The key thing is to connect with the audience who do appreciate it, and that also takes time.

Each book I release, each newsletter I send, every promotion I take part in — they are all steps on a journey, sometimes small, sometimes larger. I am still very much learning how to market things adequately and I’ll be trying some new ideas for the forthcoming Tales, especially Death In Harmony. Essentially, I’m still trying to find my people, but I feel progress is being made and the curve is rising. Statistics will no doubt be shared at some point.

Mother and Fawn: Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Free Books!

This month, I’m taking part in just one group promotion over at StoryOrigin. Only One Death is one of a remarkable 87 books you can download for free. This giveaway is simply entitled Summer Sci-Fi and Fantasy and, as the name should suggest, contains both fantasy and science fiction books and there are some titles here I have not seen before. The promotion runs until the 1st of September and don’t forget — it’s all free and author-friendly. Do please check it out!

(Incidentally, if you haven’t already downloaded Only One Death, it’s a permafree book, meaning it will always be available for nothing, at no cost, nix, naught, nowt, zero, zilch, etcetera. Not only that, but if you enjoy it, and want to read more about a couple of the characters, there’s a link to a further free tale, Dust & Death, contained within.)

And Leaving…
Brief Book News

There’s a reason this newsletter is shorter than normal (but still, I notice, well over a thousand words. Brevity is not my forte); the new novel, Death In Harmony, and it’s bonus tale, Dancing With Death, will be released very soon and I’ll be sharing more details as soon as a date is set. Before this, however, you will also be hearing from me with news of the first anthology, Tales of The Lesser Evil, Volume 1, which is due to be published even sooner than Death In Harmony.

Tales Vol. 1 will be released widely, on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Apple, and others, and also, for the first time, the stories will be available as a print book. So if you follow this newsletter and have no ereader, this will be your chance to read the first four Tales, namely: Only One Death, Dust & Death, Death & Taxes, and A Clean Death.

I’ve also taken this opportunity to revamp and update the books which are already available, playing around with the files themselves, removing superfluous coding and, crucially, revitalising the blurbs of each. For example, here’s the original blurb for A Clean Death, with the updated version below. What do you think?

Old version:

In a city where everyone is masked, how to find one man? And who — or what — is also hiding in the shadows?

Pepper has one more name on her list, just one more death to tick off then she can go home, but this final murder will be anything but easy. She has three days until the city is cut off and she is trapped for winter, three days to find her prey. And finding one man in Youlmouth — where it is law to wear a mask in public — may prove too much, even for her skills.

Hedda has trained for this ever since she can remember, yet the question remains — does she have what it takes to snatch away a life? Does she have what it takes to make Pepper proud?

This death is not a simple task, but events have a habit of overcomplicating the already-complicated, and what Pepper and her apprentice shall discover is beyond anything they could possibly comprehend.

There are things the world does not know, things that live only in stories and whispers of rumour.

Things that want Pepper dead.

New version:

An assassin, her apprentice, and one final murder. A city where it is law to wear a mask in public. And someone — or something — hiding in the shadows. Something which wants them to fail. Fatally.


Pepper has one more name on her list, just one more death to tick off then she can go home, but it will not be easy. In three days, the city will be cut off and she will be trapped for winter. Just three days to find her prey. And finding one man in Youlmouth may prove too much, even for her skills.

Hedda has trained for this ever since she can remember, yet the question remains — does she have what it takes to snatch away a life? Does she have what it takes to make Pepper proud?

This death is not a simple task, but events have a habit of overcomplicating the already-complicated, and what Pepper and her apprentice shall discover is beyond anything they could possibly comprehend.

For there are things the world does not know, things that live only in stories and whispers of rumour, things Pepper never believed were real.

Things that want her dead.

A Clean Death continues the story of Little Pepper — and the apprentice assassin has become the master. Believing she is at the very top of her game, Pepper is about to learn just how much she still does not know. And what she and Hedda shall discover could change the entire direction of history. If they survive.

Different spot during the day. Not the best pic, the video is better!
Other Places to Find Me

Time again to quickly mention where else I am located, on and off.

I have recently shared a few photos to Instagram, here, some of which you’ll have already seen, and I will continue to post over the coming months. I am, however, looking forward to when Hive Social becomes available for Android. At present, you can only get it if you have an iPhone. It seems to represent a melange of Twitter and Instagram, with a chronological feed uncluttered by advertising. I’m hoping it will be more satisfying than Instagram is these days, where I often miss things people post, bombarded with videos for products I neither want nor need and, generally, feel that something has been lost.

My website will also (finally, yes!) be live in the next couple of weeks. For sure. I’ve been threatening that for some time, but the soft relaunch is imminent. I’ll let you know when it is and, as mentioned last month, I’ll soon be posting bonus material for the Tales of the Lesser Evil.

Although I do not use it for anything but publishing advice groups these days, I am still on Facebook. I don’t look at the feed very often, however. I keep intending to place a holding, pinned post there, directing readers to these other locations, but I still have yet to get around to it.

Similarly with Pinterest — I have an account and used to populate it relatively regularly but, these days, it’s mostly mothballed. However, if you are interested in Post-Apocalyptic Fashion, or Ephemera, for example, do have a look.

I have a Youtube account, but there is precious little on there available to view, and nothing recent. However, you can always watch videos of storms, or my wilderness home in the snow, and I do have some tentative ideas of how to use this space in the future.

Similarly with TikTok, I have an account, and a plan for this, but nothing has yet been done. If you use it (and BookTok is certainly worth investigating, if you haven’t already), then any ideas are welcome!

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the same spot as the previous pic.

I do have a Reddit account, and occasionally pop in there. I suspect I will use this more in the coming years.

The same with the Hive blockchain. I started posting there but then events and a lack of time meant I stopped — however, the idea is to cross post from my website, when I start to populate this with new articles. If you are interested in the social blockchain, Ecency is a good place to start.

The place where I post the most (and, these days, that is considerably less than it used to be) is Twitter. Too many of my favourite people have either gone or rarely post there these days, however, and this makes me oddly nostalgic for the days when I could discuss interesting subjects with wise people. All things change.

And that is really it. Instances of Livejournal, Blogger, Tumblr, Google+, WordPress.com, and others I’ve probably forgotten — they’re all names vanished into the mists of history. At least for me. The archaeology of the internet is a fascinating subject, and one which definitely deserves more discussion than I have time for here.

And a European badger (Meles meles).

I shall curtail this note here, but do expect more news soon. And more photos. Until the next time.

Photos are all mine, all but the last are screenshots from videos taken by my wildlife camera trap. I would attach the videos only, even after compression, they are probably too large for this newsletter. At some point, I’ll probably use TikTok or Youtube for these, and maybe my website. We’ll see.


*There is, however, also a plague of mice. Previously, there were feral cats who would visit and, indeed, be fed scraps and leftovers, encouraged to patrol and catch and deter the mice. Then a dog moved in next door (with its people, not alone, in case you were wondering), and the cats decided it wasn’t worth the risk. Hence the dozens of mice. Such as this one, who loves ginger ale.

WARNING: Contains MOUSE.

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