Cover Wars – 2

OK, forget falling asleep! With 50 votes in on the first day, The Shop on Peculiar Hill was joint overnight leader in this week’s Author Shout ‘Cover Wars’ contest, so there’s everything to play for and it’s getting really exciting! So do get along there and vote before you forget, and then do the same thing the next day, and the same the day after that, etc. It’ll be just like cleaning your teeth but much more interesting – and without leaving strange blue stains all over the towel.

Here’s the website for voting! Remember to leave at least 24 hours since the last time you voted. See you there… http://authorshout.com/cover-wars/

Live on Peculiar Hill

Illustrious speaking opportunity yesterday. Well, all right, a chance to read aloud from ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill‘ for five minutes before they sound a bell and throw you off stage. Naturally I myself (Grimly) was far too busy so I sent Simon Ounsley instead (see picture). As usual, he had a great time swanning about pretending to be me – and the reading seemed to be well received, though from what I hear his Aunt Maggie voice needs a lot more work.

Many thanks to Anzir Boodoo for telling us about the event, and to Fictions of Every Kind for the opportunity to speak. We hope to attend a future meeting, and this time perhaps provide an exclusive foretaste of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the second book in the series, which is due out later this year.

And now he’s had a try-out in front of some adults (as far as I could tell, though there might have been the odd twelve-year-old with a false beard who had slipped in undetected) we can send Simon Ounsley to read in front of some children. If you are involved with some likely establishment (school, library, shop or similar) who might tolerate him for a short while as he mangles my prose, then please get in touch with us.

Do send Ounsley back in one piece though. He still has a vital role to fulfill in our organisation. No one has made me a decent cappuccino all morning.

Don’t forget that we’re always very happy to receive illustrations, reviews, and anything else you might be inspired to produce after reading ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’! Please send such items to us, but bear in mind that we will be assuming you are submitting them for publication unless you specifically say otherwise.

Our email for all purposes is grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com

See you next time then, and remember it’s still bogey season, so don’t forget your hat!

Audrey’s Illustration

Hello Everyone – Grimly here, and this time we have another contribution from Audrey, the reader who I was chatting with a few weeks ago. This time she has produced this great illustration of a large proportion of the cast of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill‘. Let’s see if you can spot who is who.

Audrey pic Shop

Got it?

No, that isn’t Uncle Bob painted blue with wings on. That’s a bogey, one of the vary rare blue ones in fact. And the green character on the left isn’t Mr Grimble feeling a bit green and sickly after having been accidentally shrunk in the washing machine. It’s a heeblegreeb. But you really knew that, didn’t you?

The next two are easy of course: Amanda looking cool in black and Peter in his new blue jeans, but is that a hot air balloon in between them or could it possibly be a strange tomato on a lead? I think it’s a strange tomato all right. It’s the purring that gives it away!

And finally, the character at the far right hand side surely has to be Algernon, but are those muscles under his T shirt? He looks like more than a match for any strange creatures who come his way. The only thing that worries me is that he hasn’t got a hat. Hopefully Amanda has it safely stashed away in her bag in case the bogeys start fizzing.

Many thanks to Audrey for sending us that terrific picture. I look forward to seeing her illustration of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ which is due out later this year of course. And in the meantime, if anyone else would like to try your hand at illustrating any of the characters in ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, we shall be delighted to see what you come up with. Just remember that if you send any drawings in, we will assume that you’re happy for us to publish them on the blog.

And finally, following on from last time, I decided that yes, I would change the photo of me that goes at the top of the blog. Up there now is one that my friend Lee (Audrey’s grandma) has lovingly photoshopped into submission. Yes, perhaps it makes me look a bit younger than I actually am but I think it also makes me look less scary than the previous photo did. And after all, what with bogeys and heeblegreebs and jamjam plants, there are enough scary things in ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ without people having to worry about the author as well, don’t you think?

‘And I’m not really scary, am I?’ I ask the staff here at Grimly Central. But no one replies. They’re all hiding behind their desks.

Ho hum. That’s all for now then, but bear in mind it’s still bogey season so… Don’t forget your hat!

Review by Django

Hi Everyone – We’re pleased to be back with another review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, this time from twelve-year-old Django Ensor, who says:

  • I loved the cute tomatoes
  • I liked all the different strange creatures
  • I liked Aunt Maggie and Uncle Bob’s characters
  • My favourite part was when they went to the Vale of Strange

Django also sent us this brilliant sketch of Uncle Bob’s strange purring tomatoes, pointing out that a purring tomato is likely to look like…. a cat

Django image Purring tomato

Many thanks to Django, who has been one of the first to help us out by reading an advance copy of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the second book in the ‘Vale of Strange’ series. The book is still undergoing revision, which is why Grimly is even more grumpy than usual just now, but we hope to have a bit of a foretaste of what it holds in store here on the website soon!

In the meantime, you are warmly invited to send us your own review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, complete with an illustration if you wish. Please use the ‘Contact Grimly’ page or email us at grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com

(Please note that by submitting your comments. audios, photos, pictures etc. you are giving us permission to post them online.)

See you soon – and don’t forget your hat!

Review by Lucy West

Hi Everyone – Well, time has been scurrying on without leaving too many posts here on Grimly’s website. so I’m delighted to be able to bounce back with this new audio review of the book plus a quite frankly terrifying picture of a bogey by seven-year-old Lucy West.

Let’s listen to the review first:

Which got us wondering: Lucy says Algernon is her favourite character from the book. What is yours – and why? Would you like to write in and tell us? We’d love to hear from you. It’s probably easiest to use the ‘Contact Grimly’ page, the link to which is (most likely) on the right hand side of the screen. Or you can email us at grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com

Maybe you would also like to send us a drawing inspired by the book, just as Lucy has done, though you may find it hard to draw a bogey as scary as hers:

Lucy Bogey pictureHey, where’s everyone gone? Oh, I see. They haven’t left after all. The whole of Team Grimly is hiding behind the sofa. Can you terrify them too? Please send us your monster picture and we’ll post it here…

See you next time then. And remember: don’t forget your hat!

Please note that by submitting your comments, audios, photographs, pictures etc you are giving us permission to post them online. Many thanks to Lucy and her father Graham for sending us these.

A Glimpse of Bogeys

Greetings from all at Vale of Strange HQ! We thought we’d start the New Year by sharing some impressions of The Shop on Peculiar Hill. One of our readers, Janet, sent some great, very spooky pictures of bogeys. You may have seen them on our Facebook page but here is one of them again.

I don’t know about you at home but everyone here in the office is now hiding behind the sofa. These bogeys look very similar to the bogey pictured in the top right of Pete Lyon’s excellent cover illustration (see below) so maybe they’re genuine bogeys. Perhaps Janet went out for a stroll and just happened to have her phone handy when the bogeys flew by. I hope you had your hat with you too, Janet.

This is actually one of two bogeys on Pete’s cover. Have you noticed the other one? If so, can you write and tell us where it is? And while we’re about it, what do you think is peering out of the cellar of the Shop on Peculiar Hill? Have you noticed those eyes?

We shall be excited to hear your own impressions of Peculiar Hill, the Vale of Strange, and the scary creatures which live there. Please write in with your pictures or descriptions and we’ll post them here. (Please note that by sending these in, you are giving us permission to post them here and/or share them online. We will just identify you by your first name unless you tell us otherwise.)

You can write to us at grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com or use the ‘ContactGrimly’ form.

Don’t forget you can also share your impressions of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ by leaving a review on the Amazon.com or Amazon UK sites. This is very useful, as it helps to spread the word about the book. You can also leave reviews on other sites such as iTunes and Goodreads.

Grimly says “Hi!” but is too busy to say any more because he is working hard on the next book in the Vale of Strange series, ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill ‘, which is due out later this year and is due to reveal some further secrets about the vale and its inhabitants. Don’t forget to look out for it – and don’t forget your hat!


Fun for All Ages

IMG_6683

Well, we’re in the pre- Christmas rush period now, so everyone’s rushing round to get everything ready for Christmas. This is very important. If everything wasn’t ready for Christmas then people would have to sit around pretending to open invisible presents and wondering who had run off with the Christmas tree. So, it’s very important that all these things get done, including putting in the bit that goes bang in the Christmas crackers. Otherwise they might go pop instead of bang and you might have to somehow struggle through the next twelve months without a tiny screwdriver set or a joke about a reindeer.

Then there’s remembering to order in enough snow and making sure the chimney’s unlocked so that Santa can get down it with all the presents, none of which leaves very much time left over for writing book reviews on Amazon. So after the first gush of five-star responses to ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, there’s been a bit of a quiet time. But a new review arrived just the other day, and the person who wrote it has left some very useful thoughts to share with the other Amazon customers. Here’s what she had to say:

“Question: What amuses a seven-year-old and a seventy-year old for hours? Answer: The Shop on Peculiar Hill. My 7 year old granddaughter and her 70 year old grandfather both loved it. It’s a brilliant book, suitable for 7 year olds and upwards.”

We love that review, especially the bit about it being “a brilliant book”, but it’s also really helpful that this reader has explained how the book can be enjoyed by a very wide age range of people. This is what Grimly and the rest of the team have been saying all along. So if you can’t find a copy of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ around the house to read, it might be because you or your parents have accidentally forgotten to buy one (possibly because you were too busy ordering some other bit of Christmas) or it may be that your seventy year old grandfather or similarly aged relative have come across the book and have now found a spot to hide quietly away in and read it themselves. In which case you may just have to politely suggest that they get their own copy at Amazon UK, Amazon USA, or some other online bookshop of their choice. Or better still, why don’t you suggest that you read it together? That way you can share all the funny and scary bits, chuckling at the antics of Uncle Bob and Aunt Maggie, then hiding under the sofa together when the bogeys come out.

But whether you read it alone or in company, we hope these Christmas holidays provide you with time to read the book if you haven’t already had chance. After Christmas, we’ll be having lots of entertaining chats about the book here on the blog and we think you’ll enjoy those a lot more if you already know the story.

Right then, I hear the jingling of reindeer bells. Grimly says “Ho ho ho!” but he can’t stop and chat right now because we’re doing our test run with the sleigh we’ll be using to distribute the ‘Shop on Peculiar Hill’ flyers planetary wide this evening. Don’t worry – they’re made out of biodegradable Christmas Cake and they burst into flames as soon as you’ve read them anyway. All environmentally sound. “Hey, Mr Darkwoood! Wait for me!”

Merry Christmas, everybody!

(Thanks to Sarah Helen Booth for the photograph.)