Tuesday 21 November 2017

Guess who's having a party?

As Christmas approaches, all this talk of partying can send us into sensory overload: the food, the smells, the sights, and all those thoughts about hanging decorations in the right places and creating playlists ... the list goes on.  However, we're looking way past Christmas and into May 2018 when we hope to invite you all to a very special party being held for a very adorable hedgehog.

The Hedgehog's Full Moon Party
The Hedgehog's Full Moon Party will be the next offering from Burton Mayers Books, a charming tale about a hedgehog who makes some wonderful new friends on her nightly walks.  The story is by children's author Richard Mayers and showcases the wonderful talents of upcoming illustrator, Abigail De Montfort.  Abigail's artistic style incorporates real photos interwoven with beautiful watercolours to create mesmerising imagery that literally leap off the page.

The book is currently in development and being tested by young readers, school librarians and hedgehog enthusiasts across several counties, so you can expect a very polished and refined product when the book hits the shelves in May 2018.  We can't wait and hope you feel the same way, too.

Thursday 8 June 2017

Nuptial Flight 2017 - what you need to know about 'Flying Ant Day' in the UK

At least once a year, one of the most amazing natural phenomenon occurs across the UK (and the world): nuptial flight, also more affectionately known as 'flying ant day'.

Before we talk about our latest book, Nuptial Flight: The London Vampire Conspiracy, it is important to explore more about this process in detail, examine why it's important and consider how this possibly links to John Michaelson's allegory about ants and vampires.

The following is adapted from Wikipedia:

"Flying ant day" is an informal term for the day on which queen ants emerge from the nest to begin their nuptial flight.  In most species, smaller male ants fly alongside them and are less noticeable. During their flight, the queens cover varying distances before mating and dropping to the ground.  They then shed their wings and attempt to found a new colony. 

The flight typically requires clear weather since rain is disruptive for flying insects. Different colonies of the same species often use environmental cues to synchronise the release of males and queens so that they can mate with individuals from other nests, thus avoiding inbreeding.  The actual "take off" from the parent colony is also often synchronised to overwhelm their predators.

During flight, the queens release pheromones to attract males. However, the queens often try to escape the males, allowing only the fastest and the fittest to mate with them. Mating takes place during flight and one queen usually mates with several males. The sperm is stored in a special organ, known as a spermatheca, in the queen's abdomen, and lasts throughout her lifetime. This can be as long as 20 years, during which time the sperm can be used to fertilise tens of millions of eggs!

Once they have landed they attempt to start a new colony. The details of this vary from species to species, but typically involve the excavation of the colony's first chamber and the subsequent laying of eggs. From this point the queen continuously lays eggs which hatch into larvae, exclusively destined to develop into worker ants. The queen usually nurses the first brood alone. After the first workers appear, the queen's role in the colony typically becomes one of exclusive (and generally continuous) egg-laying. 

Queen ants have an extremely high failure rate. During its lifetime a very large ant colony can send out millions of virgin queens. Assuming that the total number of ant colonies in the area remains constant, on average only one of these queens succeeds. The rest are destroyed by predators (most notably other ants), environmental hazards or failures in raising the first brood at various stages of the process. This strict selection ensures that the queen has to be both extremely fit and extremely lucky to pass on her genes to the next generation.

In the UK, nuptial flight occurs typically during the summer months and on one day, although recent research by the Royal Society of Biology has concluded that variations occur in different regions.  More can be found below this post.

Nuptial Flight: The London Vampire Conspiracy (12th June 2017 - Burton Mayers Books)

John Michaelson's cryptic new book

John Michaelson has always had a fascination with ants.  At first we thought he was just trying to be poetic, but in fact - having edited both books - we can see now what he was trying to suggest much more.  The vampires he hunts are defined by him as ants because they exhibit similar characteristics; there are a group who exist within London who are exclusively trying to found new colonies of vampires.  Furthermore, we believe he defines these modern day vampires as ants because it allows him to dehumanise them and thus make extermination of them that little bit more guilt-free.  

Indeed, having read Nuptial Flight you might reach your own conclusions about whether Michaelson himself is a virgin queen or not, trying his best to ensure his own colony survives the competition that exists in the UK's dangerous capital.  The conspiracy, of course, runs much deeper and darker than we are prepared to let on.  

Nuptial Flight is available from all good bookstores and a Kindle version is also available. Michaelson's first book, October's Son, introduced us all to a world where our perceptions of vampires were radically challenged. 

Below is a snapshot of the Royal Society of Biology's Nuptial Flight investigation -  Visit the full page here

150802 ants Shropshire Richard PrewFlying ants often seem to appear on the same day in different locations in the UK – flying ant day.

Ants aerate soil, help to cycle nutrients, improve garden fertility and control pests. Most ant colonies start with a flying ant - when young queens leave the nest to found their own colony.

However, after five years of our flying ant survey, we have found that flying ant day isn’t as predictable as we had at first thought.David sawflyingants
If you see flying ants during the summer months, send us a picture of the ants and another of you holding an 'I just saw flying ants' sign, via Twitter or Facebook using #flyingantsurvey or via email.

Sunday 21 May 2017

Publications Update - New Books - May 2017

The team at Burton Mayers Books have been working hard to bring you more exciting, innovative content. We have several exciting projects in the pipeline, but let's start with our first release of 2017:

June 12th - Nuptial Flight: The London Vampire Conspiracy

Nuptial Flight - John Michaelson
Determined to set the record straight, John Michaelson (aka The London Vampire) returns with the follow up to October's Son.  John materialized on the surface web in 2009 and attracted global interest.  His claim?  That vampires were alive, operating deep within London, and very different to how you might imagine them to be. 

Michaelson remains secretive about most of his research which involves active investigation and deception across the dark web in pursuit of this terrifying sect.  In 2014, a stylized retelling of his experiences were published in October’s Son: The London Vampire Diaries, gaining media attention for his alternate view on vampirism.

In Nuptial Flight, Michaelson answers many of the questions raised in October's Son, including how he tracks down modern vampires and where he gets support from now that Michael is gone.  Told through a series of terse journal entries and graphic recollections, Michaelson's writing is chilling, dark-humored and painfully real. 

Released: 12th June 2017 £9.99 available from all book stores.  A kindle version of this title will be released on 8th June 2017 and is available to pre-order now.   

The Adventures of Lavender the Hedgehog

Burton Mayers Books are developing our first venture into children's picture books.  Author Richard Mayers, whose titles include Spikez and Making Trakz, has developed a very different tale about a curious little hedgehog whose nocturnal routine is changed when she stumbles across a full moon party in her favorite garden.  The story is being wonderfully brought to life by illustrator Abi de Montfort through her wonderful layered style of photos and watercolors.  We've included a few sample images below just to whet your appetite, but we think that children, mums and dads alike are going to love The Hedgehog's Full Moon Party when it hits the shelves, hopefully by late 2017.

Sample illustration by Abi de Montfort

Lavender the Hedgehog - Full Moon Party 

Web and Educational Publishing

In 2010 Burton Mayers Books began publishing online content, which included exciting websites such as www.alevelmedia.co.uk This site was set up to support the work of Media Studies students and teachers by offering a bank of resources and study guides for the A-level content that had recently come into effect in 2008,  However, following Ofqual's recent overhaul of all A-level specifications, which includes Media Studies for September 2017, Burton Mayers Books have been redeveloping the website and content to offer students and teachers a rich, multi-media online resource to help them stay up-to date.  When the specification for all exam boards has been approved (hopefully by July 2017) we will be looking to release an accompanying text book for 2017-18.  In the meantime, please check out the website and give us your thoughts.  

Spikez will be making another appearance in Red Dragon very soon.  Keep up to date by following us on Twitter @BurtonMayers or see what author Richard Mayers is up to @Spikez_Novel or if you're feeling brave, see what @TheLondonVamp has to say.

October's Son is also available on paperback here.

Wednesday 22 February 2017

World Book Day 2017 - Rise of the Animal Cyborgs

What an amazing week it's going to be. Two days after Shrove Tuesday (pancake day) we have World Book Day! As a teacher, I love seeing how much of an impact good books have on the creativity and imagination of young people.  This year our school is having a day  themed around the wonderful world of Roald Dahl. What will you be doing on World Book Day 2017?

Previously, Burton Mayers Books have made Kindle editions of their titles available at a discounted price during this important event. But because we recognise the impotance of getting children reading books we will be offering our titles: for free.  That's right, we have pitted two of our animal superheroes against each other to see who will become crowned #WorldBookDay king of the animal cyborgs.  Yes, Spikez and Making Trakz will go head to head in the free books chart to see who will be ranked highest under the 'Animal Fiction' category.  Who knows, they may even invade other categories - in 2014 Spikez made it to number 12 in the overall children's fiction category on World Book Day.  Not bad for a robotically enhanced hedgehog.

You can find out more information about each title by clicking the link below and read many of the glowing reviews.   

Meet the most unlikely pair of heroes:

Making Trakz https://www.amazon.co.uk/Making-Trakz-Richard-Mayers-ebook/dp/B017FJZCHO

Remember to follow us on Twitter @BurtonMayers to track the who is winning and to get your  free copy.

For all hedgehog, rodent, cyborg and pigeon related stories and news, visit www.twitter.com/spikez_novel

Monday 20 February 2017

Nuptial Flight - The London Vampire's Final Manuscript Received!

In October 2016 we were given a glimpse into the dark, depraved and murky life of the elusive London vampire hunter, John Michaelson, when he disclosed an extract from his forthcoming biography.  It certain whetted our appetites and that of readers, however November, December and January passed without any extra chapters, and editing of the manuscript was unable to take place.  By February, the team at Burton Mayers Books nearly gave up hope that Michaelson would ever deliver his manuscript for Nuptial Flight despite several polite reminders.
Nuptial Flight - Draft Idea 1

That was until recently when Michaelson, in his trademark London vampire style, defied expectations and randomly sent us an encrypted file.  Eventually we were able to download and start unpicking what can only be described as dark material.  Whilst his book is written with a similar degree of humour, honesty and hostility towards those who ruined him in October's Son, there is a noticeable difference in the overall tone - like we are starting to get to know the real John Michaelson, aka The London Vampire.

Little of what is written is being edited down, however the order of  events is less linear and more modular so we are making creative decisions about how best to order the events.  Nuptial Flight dips in and out of key events over a period of nearly eight years rather than a single year and feels more like a biography.  Aside from that, there are very few hurdles limiting us for publishing the title for Spring 2017.  We have ideas for a book cover design which we will be sharing soon and we think you'll love it.  The book is certainly worth the wait.

So keep your eyes peeled and your fingers crossed that we can finally share with people the truth about London's vampires.