Friday, 21 April 2017

Armenia



Just saw this nice article on the BBC about Armenia. Many years back, I did a short stint out there with a charity, popping over a couple of times. It wasn't somewhere I'd ever really thought about. I couldn't even place it on a map before booking the tickets. 

Having been, I would absolutely recommend it. A beautiful country with so much to see. The first country to turn Christian in 301 AD, but also home to the last remaining Pagan temple in Transcaucasia.

On my days off, I managed to get round most of the things mentioned in the article:

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Lynnea Glasser



My publisher, Ghostwoods Books, has been letting their authors take over their Twitter feed recently. I spent a couple of hours talking about my own work last week, and this week I was in time to catch a fascinating lady, Lynnea Glasser.

I've spoken in the past of my love of text-based roleplay. How books like Fighting Fantasy and the world of MUDs helped shape me as a writer. 

Well, as well as contributing The Star that is Not a Star to Ghostwoods's Cthulhu Lies Dreaming anthology, Glasser is also an avid text-game author. You can find her work over on her website Made Real Stories. She is best known for the award-winning Coloratura:

Coloratura was a fun way for me to combine three of my favorite passions: science, music, and horror into something truly novel and exciting. It also was a great exercise in game design and planning. It won first place in the 2013 Interactive Fiction Competition and the "Best Game" award in the 2013 XYZZY awards, along with several other rewards. - from blog

You can play and download all of her games via her website. It's so wonderful to see text-based gaming alive and well in this age of gratuitous graphics.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Piano Addict


I've just written an article for Piano Addict about the Kigali Keys project

We're almost at £1,000 after just one week. Apparently if we can reach 20% funded, we stand an 80% chance of reaching our total. I've posted an update on the project page explaining how you can help us get there.

Don't forget, you can also follow the project through our blog, Facebook page and Twitter.

Help us to build pianos in Rwanda.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Piano Love


Sorry guys, you're not getting anything about writing out of me for a couple of months. Not unless you support the crowdfunder. I promise, building pianos won't mean no more writing - it'll just mean writing and music.

Here's an old piano I found in a field several summers back. Left over from a festival.


I was reminded of this after seeing a very cool article on public pianos around the world. I think we need one in Kigali.





I put my newly acquired piano mending skills to use yesterday. A few weeks back I got a call from the Korean church in Kinyinya, not far from where I live. Someone had accidentally managed (still not sure how) to cut five of the bass strings. I helped identify what they needed and the new strings arrived yesterday. Everything's back in working order and sounding great.






A couple of other fun piano-related things I found online: two screen pianos, one operated by mouse, the other by keyboard. Simple, but cute.

Then there's this wonderful online piano museum. The website is made out like an actual place you can walk around. Lots of pianos from throughout history to ogle at.

Finally, back to the crowdfunder. Any help spreading the word, and of course, any donations, hugely appreciated.


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Indiegogo Piano Project



Hi everyone.

We've finally gone live with our piano project. We want to build the first pianos in Rwanda. We have about 60 days to reach as many music lovers as possible. Any help sharing the link to our Indiegogo campaign would be hugely appreciated. You can also follow our blog: Kigali Keys.

We'd also welcome any opportunities to tell people about the project through guest blogs and interviews.

Visit Indiegogo Page

Please also connect via:

https://web.facebook.com/KigaliKeys/https://twitter.com/KigaliKeys
 

Saturday, 8 April 2017

All Lies and Jest


I've just finished reading All Lies and Jest by fellow Ghostwoods author Kate Harrad. You can check out Kate on Twitter (@katyha/@fausterella) and in The Guardian.

A dark, sexy subculture romp, All Lies and Jest is a novel about belief, delusion, and the dangers of being so open-minded that your brain falls out.

When the USA becomes a fundamentalist theocracy, one of its first actions is to round up all the queers, atheists, deviants, geeks, goths and other undesirables it can find, and throw them out. The United Kingdom welcomes more than its fair share. But Britain is no haven; the Christian United States wants the Old Country to follow in its footsteps, and the fundamentalist tides are rising.

Elinor Rosewood is a habitual non-conformist. As British as tea and spanking, she flees her small-minded home town for the dubious joys of London. It’s only after she arrives that she discovers that the greatest isolation can come from being in the middle of a crowd of strangers. Refusing to be defeated by a mere ten million people, she resolves to track down some interesting weirdoes whilst they’re still around to be uncovered.

Her first discovery is a lettuce-eating vampire named Stefan. He’s far too pretty (and silly) for his own good, but he’s a stellar introduction to the Jesus’ Blood Church, and to the sprawling morass of subcultures lurking in London’s cheaper pubs. Elinor plunges into the chaos, little suspecting that her quest to avoid boredom — and maybe save the world a little — will bring her into contact with crazed cultists, devout flat-Earthers, were-mosquitoes, psychopaths, Otherkin, elves, vile plots, and more corpses than you’d normally expect to encounter on a pleasant evening out.

The novel is set in a time when the US has been rebranded the CUS (Christian United States) by the God'n'Guns party, when all alternative subcultures have been banished, when people give up their iPhone for an iTem, and when it's surprisingly easy to get fitted for a pair of fangs down a back street in King's Cross.

This was a fun read, and perhaps the first time I've read a book that alternates between first and third person with such ease. All Lies and Jest was originally published in 2011, and re-released by Ghostwoods last year with a gorgeous new cover by Gábor Csigás.

If you're easily offended by digs at religion and mental health, this isn't the book for you. If you revel in that sort of thing, you'll enjoy it. It reminds me a bit of Jane Lovering's Vampire State of Mind, another good urban fantasy read. 

There's a really major plot twist to this one, and it took me a moment to get my head around it. As another reviewer put it: hilarious and then horrible. But horrible in a good way. Definitely entertaining.

More recently, Kate has been the editor of Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain published by Thorntree Press.