Competition Extended to 12 August!

Just when you you thought you had missed your chance, I am pleased to inform you that you haven’t! That’s good news, isn’t it? What could be better than that?

Now don’t get overexcited. I’m afraid that some opportunities have indeed disappeared into the mists of time. You’re still too late to attend the 1966 World Cup football final for instance, which may be for the best, because I have a sneaking feeling that the more times we watch it, the more likely it is that Germany is going to win after all. We’re also too late to be the first person to land on the moon. I can vouch for that because they brought me back an authentic stick of moon rock which had little green men on it and a label which said ‘made in Blackpool’ with the ‘Blackpool’ bit crossed out and ‘the moon’ written in.

So that possibility’s gone as well, I’m afraid, But don’t worry because believe it it not, you are still in time to win the most important prize of all: one of three signed copies of that fantastic work of fiction, ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ because the deadline for entries to the LoveReading4Kids competition has now been extended (by popular demand) to 12 August. So get in now while you’re still in time! Hurry across to LoveReading4Kids to find out all the instructions for how to enter. Those books won’t be there for ever, you know, so don’t miss out!

I understand that if you don’t win a book, you can still pick up a piece of moon rock, though the rumour is that the latest ones don’t come from the moon at all but from a popular range of insolvent garden centres. So that’s hardly the same sort of quality prize as Peter’s mysterious adventures in the Vale of Strange, now is it?

So make sure you win one of those books, personally signed my me, Grimly Darkwood.

And if you win,

a) Don’t forget to read it, and

b) please post an honest review of the book on Amazon, Goodreads, your own blog, or in some other reputable publication, whether in print or online. Most people who read the Vale of Strange books seem to really enjoy them, with lots of five star reviews, but we need more people, kids and adults alike, to spread the word!

More Signed Copies of Stranger Days to be Won!

If you didn’t get lucky in our previous competition, there’s now a new chance to win one of three signed copies of the paperback edition of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill, this time courtesy of Lovereading4kids You can find out all about how to enter on the lovereading4kids website here, where you’ll also find the Lovereading4kids review of the book.

This is of course the second in the Vale of Strange series, the sequel to The Shop on Peculiar Hill. Lovereading4kids points out that it’s also a stand-alone novel which works very well even if you haven’t read the previous book. They say: ‘this is an exciting book which will certainly be a page turner for those who love all things weird and wonderful’.

The book is one of the Lovereading4kids ‘indie books that we love’ and also one of their featured books. There’s lots more about the book, including more reviews, on our own special page here and you can read some free sample chapters here. Good luck in the competition!

The Shop on Peculiar Hill – now on YouTube!

If you missed the great reading of The Shop on Peculiar Hill Chapter One by Ian Eagleton, developer of the terrific The Reading Realm app, you can now catch it on YouTube.

The video is set to start at 14 min and 40 seconds in, which is about where Ian starts reading Chapter One, but the whole video is fun. Amongst other things, Ian reads a poem called The Owl and The Pussycat in sign language plus a snippet of my biography!

Ian is continuing to do readings, quizzes etc while the schools are out, about a couple of times a week at 11am, so do take a look at them. If you want to catch them live, you can find them on the Reading Realm Facebook page.

Happy New Year!

Best Wishes to you all for a Strangely Happy New Year in 2020 from us all here at Grimly HQ!

Here’s your checklist of Really Important Things for the New Year:

1) Are you new to The Vale of Strange? Then make sure you get your copy of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ the first book in this remarkable series, on Kindle for the bargain price of only 99p (UK) or 99c (US) or for a similarly small amount if you live elsewhere in the world. Note: if you’re on Kindle Direct you can read it for free!!

Ian Eagleton, Creator of The Reading Realm app, said: “Thrilling, dark, utterly barmy, funny and surprisingly moving… if you haven’t read it already, please do. What a hidden gem!”

Joanne Owen, Reviewer at lovereading4kids, said: “A riotously imaginative feast of fantastical adventure with lashings of larger-than-life characters and curious goings-on.… Brilliantly bonkers.”

2) If you’ve already read the first book, have you got your copy of the newly published sequel, ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon UK, Amazon.com and other Amazon sites worldwide.

John Guy Collick, author of the Book of the Colossus series said: “Stranger, more peculiar, and utterly delightful, Grimly Darkwood’s sequel to ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ perfectly combines outlandish scares with adventure and wild imagination”

Radzy Writes and Reviews said: “In honesty, as soon as I’d finished ‘Shop on Peculiar Hill’, I was desperate to get my hands on ‘Stranger Days’ – this is a world with absolutely no finite end point, and I hope this series just keeps going.”

3) Having bought your book, don’t forget to read it!

4) Having read it, please let us (or someone else) know what you think about it! We’ve had almost entirely good feedback on the books so far but it takes a lot of banging and shouting to get the message about them out there. So please do a favour to all those who haven’t yet heard about the Vale of Strange books by helping to spread the word.

5) Most important of all: there are bogeys about – please don’t forget your hat!

You May Not Have Seen This Interview

If you are one of the many who have only just discovered the Vale of Strange books, you may not have read this interview with their author Grimly Darkwood. Grimly was in conversation with Ian Eagleton who is the developer of the excellent app for iPad ‘The Reading Realm’. This app encourages children to read with games and quizzes. An extract from the first Vale of Strange book, ’The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, is one of the texts which Ian has used in his app.

The conversation took place a few months ago and the interview appeared on The Reading Realm site in November, shortly before the publication of the second Vale of Strange book, ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. It’s really worth a read if you haven’t seen it. Here’s a brief extract in which Grimly describes what he hoped to achieve when he started out writing the books:

“In writing The Shop on Peculiar Hill, I wanted to produce a book that was funny as well as scary, mysterious as well as exciting, and fun for adults to read as well as for children. I hope readers will think I’ve succeeded.”

You can read the whole of the interview here.

If you read one of the Vale of Strange books over the Christmas holiday, don’t forget to write and tell us what you think of it or send us your impressions of the Vale, either in print or in pictures. You are also welcome to send in any questions you have about the books. We always love to get feedback from you.

And finally, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Grimly HQ!

Oh yes, and don’t forget that hat….

Chat and Spin

Don’t miss me (Grimly) speaking on chatandspinradio.com about ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ this Thursday evening 12 Dec. I will be on at around 8pm UK time. I’m sure you can find the time to tune in. It’s not like there’s anything else much going on that day…

Keeping In Touch

Just to ring the changes a bit as regards pictures here on the blog, many thanks to John Guy Collick, author of the galaxy-spanning Book of the Colossus series, for sharing this photo of his paperback copy of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill on desk display...

Now that all the Kindles have been sieved and measured as they were downloaded through the great colander in the sky, we are able to report that almost a thousand people (yes, almost a thousand!) took advantage of the splendid offer of a free e-copy of The Shop on Peculiar Hill. This being so, it seems likely that some of them have been smart enough not only to grasp this remarkable opportunity with eager fingers but also to find their way here to the premier source of knowledge of all things Grimly. One of them may even be you, in which case welcome along!

This is indeed the place to come to keep up-to-date with all the latest developments in the world of the Vale of Strange. You may wish to check back here from time to time to make sure you’re not missing anything. Alternatively, if you’re as smart as I think you are, you’ll prefer to automate the process by putting your email address in the little box on the right-hand side of the page, the one labelled ‘Follow Blog by Email’. It will not surprise you to learn that this will sign you up to get email notifications of new posts here on the blog.

But of course, communication is a two-way thing. Extensive scientific experiments have proved that shouting at the top of your voice is a totally useless means of communication if no one is listening. So I wish to assure you that, for our part, we are sitting here with our ears sticking out of our hats (which Aunt Maggie assures me is perfectly safe as long as no bogeys are flying around), ready to capture your faintest whisper and place it on the conveyor belt which carries it up to what passes for a brain here at Grimly Central, where a conglomeration of brain bits (to use the technical terminology) will convert it into the message you wish to transmit.

Or to put it another way, tell us what you think and we’ll be listening.

Have you finished reading that book yet? What do you think of Peculiar Hill and the Vale of Strange? Would you like to live there? Who is your favourite character in the book and why? If you have just read ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, are you keen to read ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ next? What do you think is going to happen next? What would you like to happen? What is your favourite monster in the Vale of Strange? Do you think there are some more in there that we haven’t discovered yet?

And if any children – or indeed adults – would like to send us a drawing based on the books, we should be very interested to see it and perhaps share it here on the blog. Our artist, Pete Lyon, has shown us what he thinks the humans and monsters look like. What do you think?

You can contact us via the ‘Contact Grimly’ page, a link to which you will see on the right-hand side of the screen. In the case of any difficulty using the ‘contact Grimly’ form, just use the email address which is given on that page or leave a comment on this post. We’re really hoping to hear from you!

(If you do send us drawings and/or your thoughts about the books – and we very much hope you will – we’ll assume you are happy for them to be published in this blog unless you tell us otherwise.)

Of course, if you haven’t finished the book(s) yet then keep on reading – and keep on wearing that hat!

One last reminder: you can also keep up to date with events in the Vale of Strange by following us on Facebook and/or Twitter – see the links on the right….

Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill

‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the second book in the Vale of Strange’ series is out today! You can download the Kindle version right now from Amazon. if you pre-ordered, it should have been auto-downloaded to your device. The paperback version isn’t online yet but it is due out today.  I will update this post when it arrives. Hooray!

(Brilliant cover artwork by Pete Lyon.)

This is the link for Amazon UK

This is the link for Amazon.com

Also available at the other eleven Amazon sites worldwide.

Happy reading!

The Vale of Strange – Free Access for Five Days only!

If you haven’t yet read The Shop on Peculiar Hill, the first book in the Vale of Strange series, this is the ideal time to give it a try. The eBook version is available FREE for five days only, starting today! The final day of this special offer will be Saturday 30 November. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

Please pass this news on to any friends, relatives etc. who you think might enjoy the book. It is aimed at middle grade children (aged 8 to 12 or thereabouts) but feedback suggests that it can be enjoyed by people of just about any age from 7 upwards, adults included. As Grimly said in his recent interview with Ian Eagleton, designer of the Reading Realm app, ‘In writing The Shop on Peculiar Hill, I wanted to produce a book that was funny as well as scary, mysterious as well as exciting, and fun for adults to read as well as for children. I hope readers will think I’ve succeeded.’

This is your ideal chance to see if you think he’s right – and without paying a penny! Download your free E-book now at Amazon UK, Amazon.com, and – as far as I know – other Amazon sites worldwide! And if you enjoy it, don’t forget that the sequel, ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ can be pre-ordered in E-book format now and purchased as a paperback on Amazon from Sunday 1st December (i.e. this coming Sunday).

Happy reading! – and please let us know what you think…

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!