The Lifkin Wall

As I promised yesterday, I’m now going to explain what’s really going on in Pete Lyon’s cover illustration for ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill‘ so you can get a taste of what’s going to happen in the new book.

What the cover shows is an enormous wall which the lifkins have built to protect the underground deposits of strangeness. These are under attack from a new character, the villainous Percival Crow, so putting at risk the very balance of the weirdosphere. The lifkins are the industrious, spindly creatures who first appeared in ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’. They make everything out of things they find lying around in the Vale of Strange and this wall is no exception. Pete has used this as the starting point for an extraordinary picture, showing all the things that make up the wall in microscopic detail: bits of cars, an aeroplane, an old fashioned camera, a postbox, an anchor with chain, everything including the kitchen sink… How many different things can you spot?

In the right hand side of the foreground, you can see a lifkin called Suds who has been using a vacuum cleaner to clear up puddles of strangeness following an attack from Percival Crow the previous day. In doing so, he has also accidentally vacuumed up the three children. He has just switched off the vacuum and is reading the instructions in concern, while the children have fallen to the floor where they look rather dazed. In a few moments time, they will need to have all their wits about them, as who should come scrambling down the wall but Thing, the lifkin who caused them so much trouble in the previous book. Thing’s mood has not improved in the meantime….

And as for that creature in the background, that isn’t a bogey, is it? It looks too big….

That’s all I can tell you for now. You’ll have to wait till the book comes out to find out more. But it won’t be long now. The eBook version can be pre-ordered right away and the paperback can be purchased on the publication date, which is 1st Dec, next Sunday! The wait is almost over….

In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, take a look at the first two chapters of the book, available free on line right now!

The Reading Realm Cover Competition

I’m delighted to be sharing the front cover of my new book ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill‘ here on the Grimly blog today. Thanks again to Mani of Mani’s Book Corner for revealing it to the public gaze for the first time a few days ago. I’m going to be telling you a bit more about the picture (created by the brilliant Pete Lyon) and how it fits in with the new book very soon, but for today we’re asking you to let your own imagination run wild and think of your own (very) short story inspired by the picture. So this doesn’t have to be anything to do with Peter and Amanda and the Vale of Strange (unless you want it to be). It can be anything you want to write about that is inspired by the picture. You’ll have to keep it short though, because it has to fit in a tweet!

This competition is being run by The Reading Realm, some very nice people who have created an app for the iPad to encourage children to read. It has excerpts from over 200 pieces of prose and poetry including – would you believe it? – The Shop on Peculiar Hill! There are questions to answer about what you read and all sorts of other games. It’s great fun and it can be downloaded now from the Apple store. An android version is expected later this year.

Anyway, the Reading Realm (who created the app) are running this competition over on their Twitter feed, so if you are on Twitter, get over there and take a look at it now. You can find them here: @reading_realm The prize for the best (very) short story inspired by Pete’s picture and which fits in a tweet will win a valuable signed copy (by me, Grimly) of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. So get over there now and get your imagination racing. Good luck with it!

Oh yes, and don’t forget your hat…

(The competition is UK only (Sorry!) and closes 24 November.)

Stranger Days – Free Sample Chapters Available Now!

As promised, here is a link to the free sample chapters of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the second book in the Vale of Strange series. This is your chance to try before you buy.  If you decide you want to read more – and I really hope you do! – the Kindle version of the book can be pre-ordered now from your local Amazon store.

UK link

US link

It will then be auto-downloaded to your device or app on 1st December, the publication date. The paperback version can’t be pre-ordered but it can be purchased from 1st December.

If these two chapters aren’t enough for you and you would like a sneak preview of the whole book, then that might be possible too if you are happy to give us some feedback when you have read it. If you would like to see the whole book in advance, please get in touch with us through the Contact Grimly page.

Happy reading!

Grimly at The Reading Realm

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Here’s a really great interview with Grimly by Ian Eagleton, designer of the briliant app The Reading Realm, which can be downloaded now for iPad and has all sorts of quizzes and games to encourage children to read. Ian asks some very interesting questions about the influences on Grimly and how it felt to create the Vale of Strange. Enjoy…

Revealed At Last!

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Well it’s been tense and time got a little bit tight for a while, but I’m pleased to announce that we now have a definite publication date for ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the eagerly awaited second book in the ‘Vale of Strange’ series and sequel to ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’. It’s going to be released in good time for Christmas: on 1st December. Not only that, but copies of the eBook can be ordered right now. They will then be auto-downloaded to your Kindle device or app on 1st December.

You can order here if you are in the UK and here for the US. The paperback version can’t be pre-ordered but it can be purchased at Amazon from 1st December. The book will also be available in both formats from Amazon sites worldwide.

To add to the excitement, we can now announce that the book’s splendid cover by Pete Lyon, which we enthused about in a previous post, is being revealed right now at Mani’s Book Corner. You may remember that Mani was the first blogger to review The Shop on Peculiar Hill and she has always been very enthusiastic and supportive so we decided that she was the ideal person to do the Cover Reveal, especially as her blog has a lot more regular readers than ours does! So I strongly suggest you get over there right now and take a look at the cover. Prepare to have your breath taken away by this remarkably detailed imagining of a scene from ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’.

One more thing before you go: if you don’t already follow this blog, we suggest you sign up now. You’ll then be assured of getting all the latest news on the new book and all other Vale of Strange-related matters. Just pop your email in the box you will find in the sidebar. Or if you have a WordPress account, you can sign up to follow through WP. You will also find us on Facebook and Twitter of course.

A very important reason for signing up is that you’ll be informed as soon as the free sample chapters become available online. That will be very shortly, well before publication date. So don’t miss out on your chance to take an advance peek into this latest mind-boggling adventure…

Oh yes, in all the excitement. I almost forgot to remind you of the most important thing: One! – Two! – Three! – Don’t forget your hat!

Stranger Days Are Nearly Here!

Hello – Grimly here! It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here and I’ve noticed that a few new people have been viewing this site (welcome!) so I decided I should bring my computer out of the cupboard under the stairs, eject the rats that had set up home in the backup drive, de-louse the keyboard, polish the monitor, hunt around for the password cupboard, wrestle the mouse off the mice, and write you an update on what has been going on around here.

Well, nothing much really, but it’s all going to start soon because I’ve just taken delivery of Pete Lyon’s magnificent cover for ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the sequel to ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ and part two of the ‘Vale of Strange’ series. Pete’s illustration really is wonderful. If you liked the cover of the first book, you’re going to really love this one! It’s a good thing that the ‘Vale of Strange’ paperbacks are larger format than the tiny books which seem to pass for normal these days because that will give you a chance to study the fine detail of the drawing. Even so, you might want to think about buying the Kindle version as well (so you can take advantage of the magnification capability) and to make sure you really appreciate the fine details I suggest adding an electron microscope to your Christmas list.

You think I’m joking? The illustration would really look at its best on the wall of some great public building. You’ll see what I mean when you see it. Maybe the House of Commons would like to feature ‘Stranger Days’? Some might think it appropriate.

I would have shown you the cover here but we’re going to look into the possibility of organising a ‘Cover Reveal’ event in advance of publication. If we manage to set that up, we will let you know here of course.

At the moment, we’re hoping for a mid November publication date, but once again we will publish the details here. If you’re not already following the blog, you can sign up for email alerts in the right hand sidebar. That way, you’re sure to be fully informed of all developments. You can sign up for our Facebook group there too.

That’s it for now then – but don’t forget your hat! It’s autumn now, so this message is endorsed by not only Aunt Maggie but also Uncle Bob. It’s October – almost Halloween – and the bogeys are flying!

(Photo shows Pete Lyon and Grimly Darkwood, on the lookout for bogeys.)

The Reading Realm – New Version this Month

It’s great to see The Shop on Peculiar Hill listed among some of this year’s favourite books of Ian Eagleton, whose educational app The Reading Realm is to be substantially upgraded this month. The Reading Realm presents children with a wide range of extracts from prose and poetry, both classic and contemporary, with lots of games to entice them into reading. The new version also includes creative writing from children themselves. In addition, I’m proud to report, it will include an extract from The Shop on Peculiar Hill! Needless to say, I’m delighted to be involved with this wonderful project. The updated app is scheduled to be released sometime this month. I’ll let you know here when it becomes available.

Radzy’s Review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’

Hi, Grimly here! Yes, I know it’s the first time I’ve shown my face in a while but I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches to my new book ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. I’ll be sending it off to our publisher, Jennifer, at Journey Fiction any day now so it should be out in good time for Christmas. Don’t forget to put it on Santa’s shopping list…

As you might have guessed, it’s all about the further adventures of Peter and Amanda on Peculiar Hill, this time joined by another young friend called Mala, whose father, the hapless explorer Augustus Flipper, has gone mysteriously missing. Is there a chance that in the course of their investigations they will wander into the Vale of Strange, you may be asking? It may be best not to exclude this possibility.

You’ll be able to read much more about the new book here on the blog in the buildup to publication, so don’t forget to follow us to make sure you get notification of new posts as they come out. You can do this either by email (see the form in the sidebar) or through Facebook. If you have a WordPress account, you can also follow us through them.

To add to the excitement, there’s another new review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ just out, this time by blogger Radzy who writes: “I can only imagine the creative impact this will have on young minds, and cannot recommend this book enough for yourself, the wee ones in your world, or just anyone you know who will enjoy a quirky, meaningful novel.”

As you can tell, she really likes the book and it’s a very thoughtful, perceptive review, well worth a read in full on her excellent blog, ‘Radzy Writes and Reviews‘. I strongly suggest you take a look at it now…

Thank you, Radzy!

Finally, the usual piece of fashion advice: Uncle Bob may say you don’t really need one for bogeys at this time of year, but if you’re here in the UK, you’ll need one to keep out the rain. So do the smart thing and don’t forget your hat!

(This column has Aunt Maggie’s Official Seal of Approval.)

A Welcome, an Update on Grimly, and a Great New App called The Reading Realm

Welcome to those of you who have only recently liked our Facebook page. Some of you may have liked us as part of the LoveReading4Kids competition to win a signed copy of ‘The Shop On Peculiar Hill’. Others may have liked us because you actually really like us. But whatever it is that brings you here, I hope you will stay and join in the fun.
The winners of that competition are due to be notified by July 12. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything! In the meantime, you may like to pump up the excitement by reading two free sample chapters of the book – which you can find on Grimly’s website here.
Speaking of Grimly, you may be wondering why there’s not been much sign of him recently here on the blog. That’s because he’s still revising the second book in the Vale of Strange series, which is going to be called ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. We estimate he is now on draft number 238 and we’ve just had to open our 35th pack of jumbo waste paper baskets to accommodate all the pages he’s thrown away. But he says this latest version is finally totally perfect and… oh no, he’s just scrunched it up and thrown it away and is banging his head against the wall. We’ll be on Version number 239 then next, as soon as the steam has stopped coming out of his ears, and this version is going to be totally, totally perfect and it’ll be out on 1st November. Unless it isn’t of course.
Meanwhile, I wonder if you have heard the exciting news that an excerpt from The Shop on Peculiar Hill is going to be in a brilliant new app called The Reading Realm which incorporates all sorts of games to help children develop their reading. It’s going to be loads of fun and it’s already made the top ten downloads for education apps. We’re going to be in the new version of the app which is out in September.
Mr Ian Eagleton, who developed the app, described ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ as “thrilling, dark, utterly barmy, funny and surprisingly moving”. He said “I love finding gems like this to share on The Reading Realm”. Obviously he is a man of taste as well as talent. (We call him “Mr” because he used to be a teacher.)
Right – that’s it then for now then. Good luck to those of you who entered the competition! We hope you hear soon… And please remember: even in July, it really is best to wear your hat! (Whatever Uncle Bob may tell you.)

The Shop on Peculiar Hill – three free copies to be won!

Well, with the extra publicity we’ve been getting through lovereading4 kids (as we mentioned last time) we’re getting more people reading The Shop on Peculiar Hill and so, we hope, more people are finding this website for the first time. If one of them is you, then welcome to Planet Grimly, your one stop shop for all things Vale of Strange (though we’re a bit short of unge and glop, to be honest – we suggest you try eBay for them). You are very welcome to ask any questions you may have about The Vale of Strange (just occasionally we may even know the answers) or send us a review of the book or some artwork it has inspired you to create. You will see some of the remarkable artwork and responses we’ve already received if you take a look back through the previous posts. Our contact address is grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com

We’re also delighted to announce that those nice people at lovereading4kids have three signed copies of The Shop on Peculiar Hill to give away free! That’s signed by Grimly himself, I hasten to add. It was quite an effort and he had to lie down afterwards. If he ever becomes a truly best selling author (and he’s not quite there yet) he’s going to have to go on one of those army fitness programmes to tone up his hand muscles first. Otherwise he will never cope with the signing sessions. Anyway, just for now his work is done and he’s getting back his strength by munching on a chocolate biscuit and a stick of celery, so the chances are he’ll pull through this time. If you would like a chance to partake of the fruits of his labour then full details of how you can win one of the valuable signed copies he has produced can be found on the lovereading4kids site here.  The competition closes on 30th June, so don’t delay – get entering right away!

It occurs to me, though, that most of you reading this will probably already have read The Shop on Peculiar Hill so you may not be mega excited by the competition. Bear in mind, however, that these are potentially valuable signed copies, so they could be worth a fortune one day – or at least the price of a packet of chocolate biscuits and a stick of celery, in case you too need to recover from an arduous workout. And it also seems likely that you may know some of those unfortunate people who haven’t yet read the book. So here is your chance to bring a little sunshine into their lives by sending them a link to the competition and strongly suggesting they enter. After all, someone – or, more accurately – three people – have to get lucky and one of them could be them!

All right, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading this (assuming you did, and haven’t just cheated by skipping to the end). Don’t forget to spread the news about the competition – and, most importantly – as always! – don’t forget your hat!