Built on Sand – and stuck in it

Next to my house, a double garage with a solar cell covered roof is being built. The actual construction will start on Monday, but laying the foundation started yesterday. Here is a photo, taken from my kitchen window:

Dredger

Two workmen and a dredger beginning excavation work.

The workers continued dredging and excavating throughout today and poured sand onto the site of the future garage and driveway. Around four in afternoon, they ran out of sand and had to call in for more sand to be delivered.

The sand promptly arrived, delivered by a three-sided tipping truck with a crane:

Three-sided tipping truck

A three-sided tipping truck with crane gets ready to deliver sand.

The crane attached to the rear of the truck, because it meant that the truck had to dump the sand to the side rather than to the rear. So the train dumped its load and promptly got stuck in the sand:

Three-sided tipping truck

The truck has dumped its load and got stuck. What to do now?

The truck tried to get loose by moving its crane up and down, but it was to no avail. The truck was stuck. Several workmen stood around the truck, at a loss what to do now. So they dumped the entire load of sand, hoping that would help. It didn’t.

Truck stuck in sand

The truck has dumped its full load and is still stuck.

So they attacked the problem with shovels…

Shoveling the truck free

Shovelling the truck free. It was getting dark by this point and I didn’t want to use the flash, so the image is a bit dim.

…and the dredger:

Stuck truck

Dredging the truck free.

But even digging out the wheels didn’t help, the truck was still truck. So they called in a tractor to tow it free:

Truck towed by tractor

A tractor tows the truck free.

And this time, it even worked. The truck was free. It still blocked the road, though, much to the annoyance of the lady who just had to drive past and wouldn’t turn her car around.

The whole episode took maybe 45 minutes and was extremely entertaining, at least when observed through the window from a warm kitchen.

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“Something to Read: The Omnibus Anthology” with two stories by Cora

You may remember that I have a story each in the anthologies Something for the Journey and Something to Take on the Trip.

Now an omnibus edition of all three anthologies in the Something series has come out, entitled simply Something to Read. The anthology was edited by Stella Wilkinson. It contains 100 stories in various genres by authors including Kevin J. Anderson, David Gerrold, Ron McLarty, Stacy Claflin, Vincent Trigili, Frank Zubek, Monica La Porta, V.A. Jeffrey, Paul Levinson, Cate Dean, Lindy Moone and many others. Oh yes, and it also includes two stories by me.

All stories were donated to raise funds for Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal, a charity to benefit a children’s hospital in Bristol, which receives 100% of the proceeds The cover was designed by the very talented Gayle Ramage. Copyediting was providing by Amy K. Maddox of the blue pencil.

There’s also a Facebook page for the anthology with teasers for some of the stories.

My contributions are “Refusal of the Call”, a humorous fantasy short, and “Bad Deal”, one of those hard to classify, semi-literary stories. So far, both stories are only available in the anthologies of the Something to Read series.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy now!

Something to Read: The Omnibus Anthology
Something to Read: The Omnibus AnthologySomething To Read is exactly one hundred stories to entertain you whenever and wherever you feel the need. The majority of these stories are flash fiction of under 1000 words and contain themes as varied as the authors who wrote them. Stories were contributed for charity from nearly seventy different authors from at least four different continents, and contain comedy, tragedy, romance, science fiction, horror and everything in between. If you have several hours or just five minutes, there is something here for you.

Buy it for the low price of 6.99 USD or equivalent at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon France, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico and Smashwords.

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Cora takes part in an SF Signal Mind Meld

I’m busy putting the finishing touches on the next Helen Shepherd Mystery at the moment, so I’ve only got a signal boost to post today, because I’ve been asked to take part in an SF Signal Mind Meld about the best book openings in SFF.

You can see my answers as well as those of Beth Bernobich, Catherine Lundoff, Gillian Polack, Jennifer Brozek, Joe Sprunk, Fran Wilde, Jacey Bedford, Kaaron Warren, Maureen K. Speller, Evie Manieri, Tex Thompson, Jenn Brisset, Kathy F., Marissa Van Uden, Ilana C. Meyer, John C. Wright, Kay Kenyon, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Susan Voss, Rachel Cordasco and Sheila Williams (apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone) here, so check it out.

Lots of great and different suggestions there.

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Photos: Enchanted November Woodlands

We had a lovely sunny and mild late November weekend, so I took the opportunity to go hiking in my favourite local hiking spot, the Westermark forest near the town of Syke, which has been featured in these pages before.

And since I took my camera along, here are some photos: Continue reading

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New German spy story available – Neue Spionagegeschichte auf Deutsch erhältlich: Auf der anderen Seite des Vorhangs

I have a new release in German, namely the German language version of The Other Side of the Curtain.

I initially planned to announce the new release on November 9 to tie in with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the inner German border. But then I got ill, several vendors were rather slow to update (I’m still missing a couple of smaller Tolino stores) and besides, the usual jerks decided to pollute what should’ve been a joyful anniversary with their personal political agenda.

So I decided to postpone the announcement until the book was actually available everywhere and instead celebrate on November 9 what I’ve always celebrated on that day, namely the 95th birthday of my late grandmother.

***

Ich habe mal wieder ein deutsches e-Book anzukündigen, nämlich die deutsche Fassung der Spionagegeschichte The Other Side of the Curtain.

Ursprünglich wollte ich die Geschichte am 9. November pünktlich zum 25jährigem Jubiläum des Mauerfalls ankündigen. Aber dann wurde ich krank und einige der Händler waren doch sehr langsam darin, das Buch hochzuladen und außerdem haben die üblichen Verdächtigen sich daran gemacht, ein eigentlich freudiges Jubiläum mit ihrer persönlichen politischen Agenda zu verpsten.

Also entschloss ich mich, die Ankündigung zurückzustellen, bis das Buch tatsächlich auch überall erhältlich ist (na ja, einiger der kleineren Tolino Partner fehlen noch), und stattdessen den 9. November als das zu feiern, was er in erster Linie immer für mich war, nämlich der 95. Geburtstag meiner leider inzwischen verstorbenen Oma.

Und jetzt das Buch:

Auf der anderen Seite des Vorhangs
Auf der anderen Seite des Vorhangs by Cora BuhlertLeipzig, 1966. Major Werner Gottwald hat sein Leben dem Dienst am Vaterland gewidmet und beobachtet als Stasi Agent westliche Besucher in der DDR. Sein neuester Auftrag ist der amerikanische Millionär Zane Smith und dessen Geliebte, die schöne Shoushan Kariyan.

Auf den ersten Blick scheint es ein Auftrag wie jeder andere zu sein. Aber an Zane Smith ist mehr dran, als es auf den ersten Blick scheint, und so steckt Gottwald bald schon bis zum Hals in Schwierigkeiten. Denn es stellt sich heraus, dass Gottwald die Verschlagenheit der kommunistischen Brüder vom KGB unterschätzt hat. Und er hat definitiv Shoushan Kariyan unterschätzt…

Mehr Informationen.
Länge: 9000 Worte
Preis: 2,99 EUR, USD oder GBP
Erhältlich bei Amazon Deutschland, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Niederlande, Amazon Frankreich, Amazon Italien, Amazon Spanien, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australien, Amazon Brasilien, Amazon Mexico, Amazon Japan, Amazon Indien, Kobo, Apple iTunes, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Der Club, BOL, Otto-Media, Donauland, buecher.de, buch.de, eBook.de, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, txtr, Inktera, Smashwords, Casa del Libro, Flipkart, e-Sentral und XinXii.

Dieses Buch gibt es auch auf Englisch.

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Two posts on the German publishing world

I know that many of you are not regular readers of the Pegasus Pulp blog, which is more focussed on publishing related subjects. So I’d like to point you to two recent posts about the German publishing world over on the Pegasus Pulp blog.

The first post talks about the German e-book market and the recent news that the market share of Tolino, an e-reader developed and marketed by an alliance of several German booksellers, has surpassed that of Amazon’s Kindle.

The second post tackles the very German publishing phenomenon of the “Romanheft”, novella-length stories published in standalone digest-sized pulp magazines, and draws some parallels to e-book indie publishing. I’ve also included a couple of links discussing the digital strategies of “Romanheft” publishers.

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Flowers in the Attic and some surprising parallels to Game of Thrones

Tonight I chanced to watch the 2014 adaptation of V.C. Andrews’ cult classic Flowers in the Attic, starring Ellen Burstyn, Heather Graham and Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper in Mad Men).

I was actually surprised how negative many of the reviews on IMDB were (and how many of them defended the 1987 adaptation, which I’ve only ever heard described as bad), since I felt that the 2014 Flowers in the Attic was a surprisingly good and accurate adaptation of a novel that is not exactly easy to adapt.

Spoilers for both book and movie in the following: Continue reading

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An interview, a new vendor and some awards geekery

First of all, I’ve been interviewed at Book Goodies, so check it out.

And if you’re a reader in the Netherlands, you can now buy my books at the newly established Amazon NL without having to pay Amazon’s international surcharge.

Last but not least, the 2014 World Fantasy Awards have been given out.

Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria won in the best novel category, Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages in the best novella category (this story was also my favourite novella on the Hugo shortlist, though it lost to Charles Stross), The Prayer of Ninety Cats by Caitlín R. Kiernan won in the best short story category (Kiernan also won best collection), the George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois edited anthology Dangerous Women won in the anthology category. Some very good choices all in all, though I haven’t read the Caitlín Kiernan story.

Sofia Samatar has shared the approximate contents of her acceptance speech at her blog. She also addressed the problem that the World Fantasy Award statuette is a bust of H.P. Lovecraft, who was not just a pioneering dark fantasy writer but also a vicious racist, which makes accepting the award awkward for writers of colour.

Plus, once again the majority of the prizes in the fiction categories went to women writers, including a woman of colour, while the best anthology, though edited by two men, focusses on stories with female protagonists. All in all, very encouraging.

Cheryl Morgan says it best in her post on the awards:

You know what this means, don’t you, folks?

OMG! The FemiNazis Have Destroyed Fantasy!!!

Eat cooties, dudebros.

Indeed, this year’s World Fantasy Award winners should annoy a certain fraction of SFF writers and fans quite a bit. But then, those people don’t usually care much about the World Fantasy Awards, probably because they’re juried and have always tended towards more literary fantasy.

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Familienkutsche featured at Kobo Next and other news

Familienkutsche, the German version of my crime short Family Car, is a featured selection at Kobo Next, Kobo’s own promo site, this week, along with a whole lot of other good books such as When the Music’s Over by German SF writer Myra Çakan.

If you’re waiting for more German language books, I have a new one in publishing right now and hope to announce it in time for the anniversary tomorrow, e-book vendor gods willing.

In the meantime, I’ve got a profile on the new social network tsu (where you can get a sneak peak at the new German book), so drop by, if you’re there. What is tsu? Here is an explanation.

Finally, Heidi Garrett, Jessica Rydill and myself keep posting all sorts of interesting content at the Speculative Fiction Showcase, so check it out, if you haven’t already.

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Constantine or when the imitators eclipse the original

We’re living in a strange age where every American comic you ever read, no matter how obscure, is probably going to be a movie or a TV show sooner or later. Want proof? Look at Marvel’s massive line-up of upcoming movies, including a bunch of characters I for one would never have expected to see on the big screen. But hey, we’re living in superhero comic movie utopia these days and I for one like it.

Regarding to Marvel’s competitor DC, I finally got around to watching the pilot episode of Constantine a few days late. Here is a recap from Tor.com and one from iO9.

Like Gotham, Constantine was a comic related TV show I was planning to skip. But then I saw the trailer and it looked pretty good. So I decided to give it a try.

So what is the verdict? Middling. I’ll probably give the show another try (after all, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needed ten episodes or so to become really, really cracking good), but so far I’m not at all convinced. And I’m not sure if it’s the fault of the show itself or just bad timing. Continue reading

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