International Kittens of Mystery

Black Lambs!


It’s often difficult to tell when a one year-old ewe will lamb. Whereas an older ewe will start developing a significant udder more than a week before giving birth, the first time ewe often doesn’t. Which makes you doubt your calendar. Maybe she’s not pregnant? Maybe the raddle lied and the ram came back a fortnight later?

That’s what happened with this ewe. She was supposed to lamb on Thursday but was showing no signs of imminent labour. From the size of her, she was definitely pregnant but she didn’t look any different to the ewe who was due in 14 days time.

Then, on late Tuesday afternoon, she suddenly went into labour. Two days early and in the woods at the top of the field. So we hastily strawed down a lambing pen and coaxed/pushed/bribed her down from the woods and into the pen.

Normally, a first time ewe will have a single lamb. She had two very small twins. And they were practically black. Here they are, a day later, sniffing noses. They’re three-quarters Suffolk, one quarter Rouge d’Ouest.



And here’s a family group. Showing they may be small but they can still run and leap.



And they’re curious. Especially when humans crouch down to take pictures of them. They’ve got to come over and give you a sniff.




International Kittens of Mystery

Book View Cafe: It's Dead Funny

The Book View Cafe authors are delighted to welcome our newest author members...the Walking Dead!

With proven staying power, and back lists of books that have never gone away, awards too numerous to mention, these authors will re-energize and re-shape the cafe in ways never before imagined!

In honor of these new additions to the Cafe line up, the Cafe's front page will be dedicated to the finest work of these authors, newly returned to prominence and the surface of the earth.

"With the internet, print on demand and civilization-ending environmental catastrophy bringing so many exceptional authors back to life, as it were, we saw a real opportunity," said Sarah Zettel, Book View Cafe's Managing Director.

When asked why she decided to rise from the grave to join the ebook revolution and zombie apocolypse, Margaret Mitchell said, "I swore, as God is my witness, I would never go hungry again. With Google Maps to help me find the best concentrations of fresh brains, I can keep that promise."

"The fleeing populace is a moveable feast for a young zombie," adds Ernest Hemingway. "If we can use ebooks to help ensure they have short, happy lives, why the hell not?"

But, as always, it was the father of the modern English language who put it best. Said the Bard:

"Brrraaaaaiiinnnnssss..."

Visit http://www.bookviewcafe.com and http://blog.bookviewcafe.com/ to see the results
International Kittens of Mystery

Author Chat and a New Book

Dragon Lords and Warrior WomenOn Tuesday, March 16, Book View Café will host a chat with BVC authors who have stories in the new fantasy ebook anthology, Dragon Lords and Warrior Women.

Come on by and chat with the authors! We will have a drawing for a free copy of Dragon Lords and Warrior Women.

Time: Tuesday, March 16, 2010, from 8:00-11:00 p.m. EDT. That's 1:00-4:00 am Paris time. 
  
Location: http://tinychat.com/bookviewcafe

I'll be there, alarm willing, as it'll be the middle of the night for me. Other authors dropping by include Brenda Clough, Jennifer Stevenson, Sarah Zettel, Vonda McIntyre, Nancy Jane Moore, Judith Tarr, Deborah J. Ross and Sherwood Smith - some for an hour, some for longer.

Here's the ToC of the anthology. It's a big one with well over 200k words of stories, mostly reprints. My story, Headless over Heels, is the opening two chapters of my urban fantasy novel, Medium Dead.   


TABLE OF CONTENTS

High Fantasy

Eagle’s Beak and Wings of Bronze......................................Deborah J. Ross
One Small Detail...................................................................Katharine Kerr
Hero........................................................................................Sherwood Smith

Fantastical Others

Kind Hunter...........................................................................Pati Nagle
The Merrow...........................................................................Steven Harper
Night Harvest Cuvée Rouge..............................................Vonda N. McIntyre
Repo Babe............................................................................Jennifer Stevenson

Modern Fantasy

Grow Your Own...................................................................Brenda W. Clough
East of the Sun,West of Acousticville..............................Judith Tarr
Headless Over Heels .......................................................Chris Dolley
Somewhere in Dreamland Tonight.................................Madeleine Robins
Daddy’s Big Girl..................................................................Ursula K. Le Guin

Fantastic Merlin

Taco Del and the Fabled Tree of Destiny......................Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
The Thief of Stones ..........................................................Sarah Zettel

Ancient Fantastics

Not My Knot........................................................................Irene Radford
Dusty Wings......................................................................Nancy Jane Moore
Heart of Jade.....................................................................Amy Sterling Casil
Feather of the Phoenix.....................................................Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
The Natural History and Extinction of the People
of the Sea...........................................................................Vonda N. McIntyre
Illustrator: Ursula K. Le Guin


International Kittens of Mystery

International Kittens of Mystery Cover



The book's finished, the cover's here, and the release date is...

April 3rd.

It was going to be March 26th but Apple pushed the iPad release date back so we did the same.

Latest thinking is that there will be an ePub version for iPads and other eBook readers; a PDF version for PC/Mac users and an HTML version for the those that don't want PDF.

We also have a Kindle version but as Kindles don't display colour I'd like to trial that version on a few people first to see if the book still works with greyscale pictures. People who have the 'Kindle for PC' application (free from Amazon) will be able to see the pictures in colour on the PC in a Kindle emulation.

The file sizes aren't too bad. The epub version weighs in at 3Mb, PDF at 4Mb and HTML at 6Mb - which for a book with 75 large colour pics is pretty good.
International Kittens of Mystery

International Kittens of Mystery

I’ve just finished the first draft of the kitten book and it weighs in at 5,000 words and 74 pictures. Anyone want to make it 75?

What I’m missing is a picture of a cat/kitten not looking too pleased about being dressed up. The picture has got to be yours or in the public domain.

The picture will be used to portray 24 star Jack Miaower of the CTU (Counter Terrier Unit) who, as usual, is having a bad day (and has been captured and forced to wear silly clothes)

No great financial remuneration I’m afraid. But you and your cat will get a credit in the book. And a free copy of the eBook (epub or HTML)

What’s the book about?

Well, it chronicles the stories of the International Kittens of Mystery – their training and a few of their missions. I’ve taken the pictures and a few of the stories from the original Kitten’s Guide blog posts but 80% of the stories are new.

Here’s the intro:

In an uncertain world there is one organization that stands head and small furry shoulders above the rest. Whenever the planet is in danger – be it from giant balls of wool or bands of renegade squirrels – there is only one group guaranteed to answer the call.

The International Kittens of Mystery

This is a journal of their stories. For the first time, cameras have been allowed into one of their top secret training camps – Training Camp Alpha. A camp where, under the supervision of pet humans, recruits are shown not only how to save the world but also how to manage their secret identities – how to blend in and infiltrate the human society that they alone can protect.

Pictures should be jpegs of at least 300x600. Preferably much bigger.  Email them to me at cats (at) chris-dolley.com
International Kittens of Mystery

Coming in March... Kittens!

I'm a third of the way through the "Kittens' Guide" book and, deities willing, should have the book completed next month for a March/April publication date.

It's going to be full colour with, if size constraints permit, larger, higher quality pictures than the original series. And most of the stories are new.

What I've done is take the original blog posts and bring them together under a central theme. The old posts were a random collection of fun stories illustrated with cute kitten pictures. The book is different with new interpretations of the pictures and a story running from beginning to end.

Currently the plan is to produce an epub version (primarily for the iPad) and a pdf version (for people without eReaders)

There might also be a slimmed down version, with black and white pictures, for the Kindle, Sony etc eReaders that don't display colour pictures.
International Kittens of Mystery

Want to Appear in my Next Book?

Book View Cafe are running a Twitterfic competition to mark the launch of Magical Crimes. First prize is a Magical Crimes ebook, a SHIFT ebook and ... your name appearing as a character in my next story!

Second and Third place winners will each receive a Magical Crimes ebook and a SHIFT ebook.

PLUS . . . some or all of the winning entries may be added to the Magical Crimes promo page, and may even appear in subsequent editions of the book.

It's so simple to enter, completely free ... so, what have you got to lose? Other than your life in my next story:)

All you've got to do is come up with a witty spoof review of Magical Crimes in less than 140 characters. You don't have to have read the book. All you need is to look at the cover, read the blurb and let your imagination do the rest. 

Links, rules, instructions and everything else you could possibly need is here.


International Kittens of Mystery

Magical Crimes - CSI, Magic and a Giant...


Yes, it’s out and it’s big! Today’s the official launch date of … Magical Crimes, a fun CSI with magic and ‘a little something else’ novelette. The little something else being two foot long and lurking in the hero’s trousers. But don’t worry, the p#@%$ in this story is used purely for the purpose God intended – humour and crimefighting – not lustful titillation.

And it’s only $.99, available DRM-free in all the popular eBook formats.

And there's a competition - details below.

Seb Kemp is a psychic profiler with a problem. After a night out drinking, some men wake up with an unexpected tattoo. Seb woke up with a floor-length penis and no memory of how, when or where it happened. To make matters worse, magic doesn’t work well with living tissue. The results are unpredictable. The spell might fade after a few days or … something might drop off.

He needs help but, Pete, his forensic magician partner, is 3,000 miles away working on another case and Seb’s new partner is of the young and female persuasion. Not to mention extremely hot. The two of them are thrown together to solve a high profile locked room mystery where the utmost tact and diplomacy is required – not easy for a man with unpredictable trousers.

Praise for Magical Crimes:

“I want my detectives like my murderers – well hung,” Dorothy L Christie
“CSI with a big dick – and I don’t mean David Caruso,” The Miami Enquirer
 
Hmm, think you can write a funnier review?  Why not enter the BVC Twitter Fic contest and do just that.

There are prizes – including a ‘walk on’ or maybe ‘drop dead and be dragged off in several pieces’ part in my next story.

Magical Crimes can be purchased here or from the Amazon Kindle Store here.

International Kittens of Mystery

Things Your Writer’s Group Never Told You


With Magical Crimes due for its official launch on Tuesday I think it’s time to spill the beans about what happened in the four months before Resonance, my first book, was published.

As with all my tales it’s both unbelievable and true. And something no new author should ever have to experience.
But it has a happy ending so – yay!

And it’s funny.

Back in June, 2005 I was floating along on a white fluffy cloud of authorial bliss. I had a book coming out in November and people were already buying it on Amazon.

Then July happened and my book disappeared.

I’d clicked on my bookmarked page to check the Amazon ratings and ... another book had replaced mine. It had my ISBN. It had my publisher but ... everything else was different. It was now called Blackcollar by Timothy Zahn.

I checked the Baen website and there was my book with the right ISBN. But, there too, was Blackcollar by Timothy Zahn. It was due out three months after mine. Could Amazon have switched books? I checked Amazon using Blackcollar’s ISBN and found ... Blackcollar. It had two listings and two ISBNs. How many did it need?

I emailed Baen to tell them and they told me not to worry. It was a mistake and it would be soon rectified.

Along came August and things got worse. Other booksellers followed suit. It wasn’t just Amazon that had the wrong details but Barnes and Noble and the independents. Little by little my book was disappearing. The forces of Blackcollarness were sweeping the planet laying claim to my ISBN wherever they found it.

I emailed Baen again and was told not to worry. These things take time. There was plenty of time before publication.

But I was a new author with a new book and a past history with Fate. If there was a way for everything to go wrong, Fate would find it. She knew where I lived.

(And I speak as a man who was impersonated, robbed, arrested, pursued by wasps across a roof top and menaced by a ten-foot long caterpillar – all within months of moving to France.) 

 So I took action. Amazon had an email address for authors to correct their book details. I used it. And they replied telling me how book details were supplied by distributors such as Ingrams. I tracked down an email address for Ingrams, explained the situation and gave them the correct details.

They were very accommodating and told me they’d have the new details out in a day or so. Yay!

Calamity. Fate must have been listening in – either her or Timothy Zahn – because if early August was bad, late August was worse. Resonance re-appeared with the correct ISBN but I was no longer the author. Timothy Zahn was.

Aaarggghh! All suddenly became clear. This is what life as a new author was like. All the big author kids hanging around the school gate waiting to snatch the little author’s new book from his hand. Would Timothy Zahn and his gang come asking for my dinner money next? 
 
Only one thing to do. I’d write to his mother.

I redoubled my email campaign. I emailed Baen, B&N, Amazon, Ingrams, Mrs Zahn. I tracked down Australian distributors. Everywhere there was a mistake I tracked it down and left no one in any doubt what the correct ISBN for Resonance was.

Then came the September bombshell. A mistake at Simon & Schuster back in April had caused the ISBNs of Resonance and Blackcollar to be swapped. The error had been discovered in July when they’d been swapped back but the message hadn’t got through to Baen.

And everyone I’d emailed in August assuring them that, as author, I knew my own ISBN ... I had to email again assuring them the opposite.

Fate hates it when I get pro-active.

And if I thought September was bad...

Along came October and the book disappeared again. Then reappeared. Then disappeared. One month to go before publication and suddenly it started mutating with the verve of a randy fruit fly. Strange books started appearing - Blackcollar by Chris Dolley, Resonance by Timothy Zahn. Sometimes they had a November publishing date, sometimes January. The pages could by 400 or 608. The descriptions and covers were interchangeable too. And often we were co-authors of both books.

Somehow I’d entered the world of Quantum Publishing. A world where your Amazon cart could contain a book by me or maybe one by Timothy Zahn. The only person who knew for certain was a cat and, after last time, he wasn’t saying.

With three weeks to go to publication I’d almost got a correct version up on Amazon.com. The only thing wrong was having Timothy Zahn as a co-author. I emailed Amazon and they removed one of the authors. Do I need to say which one?

There is no adequate word to describe the panic and frustration I felt. And if there was, Timothy Zahn would have stolen it.

Seven days to go and I managed to get my name back on the book. Only as a co-author but by that time I was just glad to get a mention. And I wasn’t emailing Amazon.com ever again.

That was a joy I was saving for Amazon.co.uk. They’d just put back the release date of Resonance from November to January – thank you, Blackcollar. Even though they’d started shipping the book to eager customers they promptly stopped. People would have to pre-order it as it’s not out until January.

BUT YOU’VE GOT ALREADY GOT THE BOOK! You’ve been shipping it for days! Uh-uh, that’s not what our database says. The January release date rumour spread to Australia. Bookshops turned away customers in the November/December period because their database (which can never be wrong) said the book wasn't published until January.

Where’s the happy ending?

Here. In December Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, ordered a copy of what he thought was Timothy Zahn’s latest. Later, he posted on his blog that he’d just read a book called Resonance by Timothy Zahn and Chris Dolley and how good it was. Within twelve hours Resonance hit number 32 in Amazon’s SF bestseller list.