The Mysterious Case of The Black Ring

Leamingston Spa features in Book 2 of The Enigma Wars, the sequel to The Last Changeling – so I was intrigued when I saw this strange feature in the Leamington skies: 

I looked for more reports: it seems ‘The Black Ring of Leamington’ – as it’s now being called – happened near Warwick Castle… which just so happens to feature in Chapter 2 of The Last Changeling:

‘It may have stood for centuries, repelling many invaders and even making kings of men, but Mr. Butterworth wasn’t sure if Warwick Castle was ready for its latest onslaught.  As his party headed for the dungeons and torture chambers, he tried to keep any happy thoughts of vengeance well hidden from his face.
The afternoon passed remarkably without incident. Picnics had been eaten on Ethelfleda’s mound, the unbelievably high and winding stairway of Guy’s tower had been climbed and the state rooms viewed.  Year Seven had loved the armour, the swords, the birds of prey, the cakes, the ice creams and the horrific instruments of torture.  So far no one had been sick or fainted, or even dropped a water bomb from the ramparts onto the unsuspecting head of an elderly tourist.
All Butterworth had to do was get the little stinkers back to school and he was home and dry for another term.  He lined them up again by the coach and repeated the head count.  No, wrong number.  He tried again.
‘WILL YOU ALL KEEP STILL!’
Fidgeting children stopped playing with their souvenir trinkets and lined up sulkily.  Butterworth counted again – fast.  Heart sink.  There was still one missing.’
                                                                          THE LAST CHANGELING   

Interesting… the ring is being described as a swarm of insects…  VERY interesting if you’ve read The Last Changeling…
‘A decade or so after Myxomatosis had been introduced into the barrows, as if in answer, Varroa Destructor had first appeared on honey bees.  Not properly identified until years later, the deadly parasitic mite had continued spreading through the bee colonies of the world.                                       
Some years ago, at a covert meeting of representatives from the nine governments signatory to the secret Reykjavik Accord, Shiraishi had posited that the timing indicated that Varroa was a counter weapon that had been deliberately deployed by the metahominids.
The creatures lived close to nature and, to a degree, appeared quite capable of manipulating other species to their own advantage.   Many of the signatories listening that day considered Shiraishi’s theory on Varroa to have some foundation. Without any bees to pollinate them, crops would fail causing worldwide starvation.  Then the vast edifice of human civilisation would be all but wiped from the face of the earth, in a little less than four years.  Only the insects would remain.  Making up an astonishing twenty percent of the planet’s biomass, following any catastrophe that might befall planet Earth, the last creatures standing, or crawling would be certain varieties of insect.  After the second world war, at Auschwitz where even the grass refused to grow, where no birds were seen to fly overhead for many years, only the cockroaches flourished..  Shiraishi had answered his critics, including D, agreeing it was a very high risk strategy for the metahominids.  Then he had pointed out that the metas were just insectlike enough to probably survive.  They would be free to re-colonise a world cleansed of humankind.’                                                                             THE LAST CHANGELING


Then, rather clumsily, a second explanation of this eerie event appeared and it is now being ascribed as ‘experimental fireworks.’

The eventual answer came in the middle of Tuesday afternoon when a statement from Warwick Castle confirmed that they had been testing fireworks.

A Warwick Castle spokesman said they had been trying out “fire effects” to go with the daily firing of the Trebuchet Fireball – a giant catapult.
Even this echoes The Last Changeling…
‘The conspiracy theorists had so much grist for their rumour mills that their multiple contradictions quickly ground any grains of pure truth down into useless dust.’
                                                                      THE LAST CHANGELING
It’S ALL very PECULIAR, and VERY D9!!!

April 22nd 2014…

Yes… this is it!!!
This is the date when the paperback version of The Last Changeling becomes available…
April 22nd.
Got that?
Good….
Go to Amazon and grab a first edition!

The Strange Case of the Rossendale Fairies and the Stolen Cards…

These photographs are just wonderful.  Untouched – and completely open to personal interpretation – they have been travelling the world and bringing out the very best, and worst in people.

They were taken in a secret location in the Rossendale Valley by a local Professor, definite shades of ‘The Cottingley Fairies’ here.  Lots of people have responded by saying they believe the pictures are of true fairies, some say they ‘wish fairies were true’, but it’s the ‘grounded’, ‘rational’ people who have surprised me.  Never have I witnessed such a visceral response to a group of seemingly harmless photographs.  One facebooker I know, who posted the photographs on his own timeline, has had to ask commentators to moderate their speech in case his children go online – and read all the swear words these commentators have written.  All in the name of rational science.
I don’t get it.
I have seen religious types get affronted and upset when their faith is brought into question, which always makes me wonder… does the offended believer think his, or her, god isn’t big enough to fend off a few doubting commentators?  However, when the person throwing a blue fit is doing so in the cause of cold science, then the absurdity of that situation just makes me want to laugh.
Science is big enough.  Believe me.  It’s also a lot weirder than a lot of small minded people can imagine.  As Albert Einstein once said, ‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy stories.  If you want them to be even MORE intelligent, read them MORE fairy stories!
I have met the photographer John Hyatt and he’s a very interesting chap.  If you are anywhere near the North West of England in the next couple of months, please go and have a look at his exhibition of his fairy photographs at The Whitaker Museum and Gallery in Rossendale.
Now, things are getting even stranger here.
Okay… it’s taken me a while to post this because I wasn’t sure…
Now I am sure and it’s all a bit strange and eerie…
My car was broken into on Friday night.  The back window was smashed in and a few things disturbed…
Now this is a car full to the gunnels with all sorts of interesting stuff – an arrow, silver spray,(I kid you not, read my book as to why!), lots of clothes, craft materials and finished craft products, then there’s the usual sat-nav, C.D’s, C.D player etc… so, amongst all that lot, it’s taken me ages to establish exactly what was stolen out of my car full of goodies…. and this is where it gets properly odd in the light of all the problems I’ve been having with my book… (have a look at the older posts)… okay, so, ready for this….?
All they took, out of all that lot was a couple of boxes of business cards.

Business cards with no telephone number or personal details on them, they were printed just to advertise the paperback edition of my book, The Last Changeling, which is coming out on the 22nd. of April.
These cards were in different locations in the car, one box in the passenger foot-well, one box buried in craft fabric on the back seat.
Now they are gone.  It’s hard not to get paranoid when things like this just ‘happen’ to keep happening…

You lose some… You win some!

I am waiting for the proof copy of The Last Changeling to arrive.  At over 600 pages, it’s a hefty brick of a book, but I’m not sure what to think about the pricing.

In the UK on Amazon.co.uk it will retail at £11.99 including postage, (I’ll get a whopping 25p royalty per copy – which is about the same as if I had a huge publisher behind me),  but, in the USA it will be $20.83!  EEK!  This is a lot for the average American to pay for a paperback.  It will give me $4 royalty too, but I would much rather cut the royalty down to 50 cents, and offer a competitively priced book.  But, amazingly, it’s not allowed!  Even if I buy wholesale and self distribute I have the problem of shipping costs.  So although I can offer face to face discounts at signings the UK, I’m annoyed I cannot offer them in home of Amazon, the USA.
Yet again Amazon.com seek to squish me! :(

On the plus side, this is the SECOND time in a month Amazon.co.uk have attempted to sell my own book to me!  So at least they are telling people about it! :)

Thank You!

Hey ….  This was sent to me from Amazon this afternoon:

The churning and endless refreshing stopped after the first day of the promotion and now the price is finally available!  Okay, it is now Thursday, and the promotion started on Monday, so the lion’s share of the week-long promotion has been ruined, but it’s finally working!  

It says a lot that during the last promo that ‘went wrong’ I battled it out with emails to Amazon tout seule  and nothing happened.  The whole bloody mess rambled on until the entire seven days ran out like sand in an hourglass.

This time I finally wised up and asked for help and look, the results speak for themselves…

A huge and hearty thank you for looking at this blog and adding your leverage!

On a completely different subject: you may have noticed the UK has been having some ghastly weather, plus today was the second day of a strike on the London Underground – the railway beneath our capital.  The ingenious Dan Baines has linked the two events and come up with a rather startling conclusion!
The Derbyshire Mummified Fairy
/////BREAKING NEWS\\

FAIRY INFESTATION – SECRET CAUSE OF LONDON TUBE STRIKE!

From TFL Spokesperson – “It will take at least 2 days for specialist government teams to clear the underground network of this menace”.

Heavy rainfall over the UK and London has driven fairies beneath the city where they have caused millions of pounds worth of damage to the rail network.

Pay dispute or fairies? You decide…

D9 — with Tink Bell.

Can you help me please…?

Can you help me please?

I am having some issues with the promotion I’m currently running.  I complained about the problem and got a nice email from Amazon:

I’ve checked and see that the countdown deal for your Kindle book,”The Last Changeling” has stated, (sic).  The book is now available for $0.99 on Amazon.com and doe £0.99 on Amazon.co.uk.  To reconfirm please visit the following links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00B90EIRQ

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B90EIRQ

If you need any further assistance, you can contact us by replying to this e-mail.  We are always here to assist you.  
Thanks for using Amazon KDP.


Pleased, I followed the link, but the Amazon.com page refused to show me the price.  Today I received this email from a good friend in New York, USA:

‘I accessed Amazon from New York and when you click on your book it comes up with ‘pricing not available’ so I was unable to buy a copy Stateside – which is pretty shit.’

Then, a little later this afternoon, I was sent this screenshot from Dallas, Texas USA:

So, If you live anywhere outside of the UK, could you please send an email to amazon.com asking why you cannot access a price for my book?  Go to ‘help’ and you will be directed to sign in.  If you don’t have an Amazon account, don’t worry, you can skip this section.  Then click on ‘Kindle’ and tell them you cannot find a price for The Last Changeling by FR Maher.
The page at amazon.com is:
http://www.amazon.com/Last-Changeling-Enigma-Wars-ebook/dp/B00B90EIRQ
Thank you, I appreciate you taking the time to help me.

Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Or just plain theft?

So much has happened over the last few months… may I extend a belated ‘Happy New Year’ to you?   Actually, it’s not that late if you happen to be Chinese! 
I have met, (okay online), an inspiring soul called Katwise.  She makes an excellent living by making glorious upcycled clothes and lives in a heavenly rainbow coloured house in upstate New York
 Fabulous eh?  I admire anyone who ploughs their own path. 
It generally comes with a price though.  Some people get scared of anyone who refuses to stay with the herd; from within the warm depths of safety in numbers, they take any signs of individuality as an unspoken criticism of their own personal desire to stay safe.  They can get pretty nasty and cranky.
Then there are the fans.
These are the coolest and the best.  They are the people who ‘get’ you.  Who hear what you have to say, and are genuinely pleased when others discover you too.  I am blessed with some extraordinary fans who have given me amazing support.  
I started out with a couple of beta readers and slowly, bit by bit, book by book, the circle has widened.  Word of mouth has really helped and now interest in The Last Changeling has spread to every continent… er…except Africa…. Hey guys, what’s going on??? J
Katwise has got tens of thousands of fans – although I don’t know if many hail from Africa – I know she’s hitch hiked extensively through the continent.   
But then it got a bit dark and nasty…  some ‘fans’ started copying Kat’s work and threatening her livelihood.  She freaked a little, but then took a deep breath – and more importantly, she took the advice of a wise woman and actually embraced the copiers!  If these copy-kats were going to rip her off, the least they could do would be to make goodcopies of her upcycled sweater coats… so she started selling tutorials on how to make exact replicas of her clothing!
I find this extraordinary.  It is the highest – risk strategy I can imagine, yet for Kat it has worked out.  To date she has sold over 10,000 copies of her tutorial at around $6 each!
My friend Dan Baines creates magical tricks and one was ripped off and made in Asia.  Worse yet, they even copied his DVD – featuring him(!), where he pledges to help anyone who can’t make the trick work.  And many couldn’t.  He only became aware of the cheap copies when disappointed people started contacting him.
So, what is this building to? 
To give you a flavour of my novel The last Changeling, here’s some blurb:
Can you be sure everyone you meet is 100% human? 
Are myths and legends secret instructions for dealing with humankind’s oldest enemy?
What is lurking beneath the ancient streets of London, England?
The Last Changeling is a dark fantasy that unfolds against a backdrop of over 500 years of British history.  When Queen Elizabeth the First and her astrologer the extraordinary Dr. John Dee set up a secret organisation to combat ‘metahominids’, they began the longest secret war in history.
Meta hominid is ancient Greek for ‘other man’ – a name for a race of creatures that we commonly identify with child abduction, tales of lost time and unexplained disappearances.  We call them ‘aliens’, but a couple of hundred years ago, people called them ‘fairies’.
When 21st century government budget cuts compromise the centuries old cover-up, a shambling, unlikely hero, known only as D, becomes our last and only hope against the rising of this dark and persistent enemy.  Yet they are not the only enemy ranged against him, for D has to unmask a traitor and combat the meddling of a reckless amateur, hell-bent on breaking open ancient secrets.
Will D save the child or the city; the country, or the planet?
Just remember, whatever happens, parts of this story are true.
So, that’s my book, but, later on in 2014 an occult publisher will be releasing a novel with the exact same title as mine, by an author with so far, only one published book that has nothing to do with the paranormal. It’s strange for a ‘straight’ author to dive into the occult, but it seems this is what she has done.  
She is writing a book about fairies – but her book appears to have far more in common with mine than that.  I introduce D9, a secret government organisation.  Their first case appears to be the basis for the story of her book.  They say ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,’ but what about plain, old-fashioned plagiarism?
Thus I find I am David, the publishers, if not Goliath, are certainly bigger than my publisher The Art Clinic, but we are on the case. 
Yet is there more to this than meets the eye?  My typical reader is alternative and intelligent.  They enjoy the chilling frisson of darker themes, and are acquainted with the films of Guillermo Del Torro.  
My readers are far more likely to read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ than ‘Twilight.’ 
The other book is definitely aimed at the ‘I’m in love with a spangly vampire’ brigade.  Something my readers would view with scorn – and the worrying thought is that any link to this other camp would definitely deter new readers for my book.  The other one doesn’t just ‘not fit the profile’, it is the polar opposite to it.
It does make me wonder…. is this another bid to bury my book? 
When I put it on a Kindle promotion last November, the Amazon.com product page for The Last Changeling refused to load.  I blogged about it at the time.  Just yesterday I started another promotion… and yet again at the very beginning of the promotion, The Last Changeling on Amazon.com refused to load. 

I would like to be as laid back as Katwise about this ‘Sincerest form of flattery’, but even she has stated in her tutorials that she expects to be credited for her intellectual property.  She has good ideas and she makes a living out of them.  Any one should be safe from opportunists trying to steal their livelihood, and yes, that includes me too.
I will keep you posted, in the meantime, any help or advice, or any words of support you may like to leave would be hugely appreciated.  Thank you.

Help! My book has been banned!

Do you think the internet can save ordinary people by exposing the wrongs done to them?
I do.
On the very day Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the internet castigated the spooks for cracking online encryption and making the world a far less safe place to exist in, I am relying on his invention to make a clarion call to rally assistance.

I never thought I would need help in this manner, but I am going public with some deep concerns I have.  I don’t feel safe and I need as many people as possible to know my story.  If everyone knows I am being bullied, maybe it will stop, or at least, stop escalating…

First things first.
If you have been trying to get your copy of The Last Changeling from Amazon.com, you will probably have been disappointed.  I have received notifications from followers of The Last Changeling in Amsterdam, Dallas, Singapore and Los Angeles saying that The Last Changeling definitely isn’t available from Amazon.com.

The guy in Dallas said it kept saying that the price wasn’t available, now that’s subtly different from the kind of thing I have been experiencing, (the page churns and continually refreshes without ever settling), which I find a bit odd.  Surely a genuine glitch would be the same wherever you encountered it, not apparently ‘tailored’ for different scenarios?

I complained to Amazon and I got a strange reply explaining the page was working correctly.  That’s it – a flat ‘We’re right, you’re wrong.’ What is going on?

So, if you want to purchase from Amazon.com, please note, The Last Changeling is currently only available from Amazon.co.uk .  You can follow or cut and paste this link:

I will advise you as soon as I can as to when / if the US sanction is lifted.  For now I can only view this as a sinister turn of events occasioned by the startling truths hidden within my book. 

So this is how it is, and it’s not a great place to be.  There is an echo on my phone – friends have been complaining about it for around six weeks now.  I never thought much about it.  

A man from a certain security organisation made a point of giving me his card a couple of months ago.  I mentioned this to someone who laughed and said ‘Americans always give out their cards…’  but I haven’t encountered this oh so fervent behaviour before, and this guy really wanted me to know who I was dealing with…  still I didn’t join up the dots.  Then another apparent anomaly – I live in the wilds of Wales and 19 bats suddenly died here, like they’d been hit by a sudden burst of something.  
Then I began to wonder if this was all part of some of the names I have named in The Last Changeling.  Today I was followed down a lonely mountain pass.

 Earlier this week, traffic to this blog from the USA went up a startling 1,100% in one day. 

So who is reading this? 

Are you my friend? if so, please share what’s happened here and shout it loud.

Or are you a man in black?  If so, be aware, you only think you are the good guys.  
I, and millions more like me, agree with Tim Berners Lee.