Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Mary had a little lamb...

Let’s be clear: I’m no lover of being in the outdoors. I simply fail to see the attraction in yomping through mud and cow shit in search of the perfect mountaintop view. The idea of getting soaked and freezing my ass off in a kayak or some other water-borne conveyance that ought to have been consigned to pioneer history, just leaves me confused. And a little scared, quite honestly.

That said, neither do I wish to see the entire countryside disappear under concrete and barbed wire. It has lately been lambing season in these parts. This has brought forth the yearly cries of  “ Foul!” from island citizens concerned about our rocky lamb mortality record. The problem is that the Northern Isles are super-exposed. There are few trees to speak of, and nothing you could actually call a hill whilst keeping a straight face. But there is wind a-plenty. In fact, if the wind ever stopped blowing here, we would all probably freak out, convinced the world had just ended. Oh, and it rains a lot, too.

Look in any direction across the islands, and you will see open fields and miles of five-strand barbed wire. You can’t help wondering - how do the lambs find shelter? The answer is, with great difficulty. Many die of exposure before the farmers can bring them inside sheds.

Right here let me just state that I’m not about to get into a discussion on the rights and wrongs of modern livestock farming, okay? That’s for another day, another blog. They've been farming in these parts for centuries, they still farm today, and that's how it is. This blog is about making better one aspect of that farming.

Every year the suggestion is made in the local paper that we replant the hedgerows to counter this death-by-exposure problem. Hedgerows attract birds and wildlife, and they give handy instant shelter to livestock. Apparently they are also good for strengthening the ground, but that’s more technical-environmental than my brain can cope with. The task of replanting could be carried out by the volunteer sector, which happens to be pretty extensive in these parts ( They have to be…they picked up most of the slack when the island council decided, in the best tradition of all out-of-touch government, that elderly and disabled services would make the best budget sacrifices ). Work training and much-needed jobs could be created through continuing care and maintenance of the hedgerows. Farmers would stop losing so much livestock and, in many cases, their livelihoods. And best of all from the point of view of the island council -? The tourists wouldn’t be traumatized by seeing poor dead little Larry The Lamb. Hedgerows make a much prettier picture to show the folks back home.

But will the island council ever get around to undertaking a project like this? Will they implement it by digging into the £90million fund they amassed through cutting vital services over two years? Will they hell.

They’ll spend the money on erecting another white elephant of a building that the tourists will never bother to use and the locals will have no use for, and then they’ll complain of being skint again. The lambs will continue to die of exposure and the farmers will continue to be out of pocket. And a landscape that could be beautified, will instead still be marred by miles and miles of rusty, stabby barbed wire.

Because heaven forbid any sensible decision should ever be made by local government. Imagine the dangerous precedent that would set?!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Lil' Bit O' Blowing My Own Horn...

I awoke today to the happy news from Jay Hartman over at Untreed Reads that my debut novel for them, 'Vampires of Hollywood Book 1: Dante's Awakening' is PICK OF THE WEEK at DriveThruFiction

As unambitious and easygoing as I am, sometimes 'tis nice even for me to see my own work rewarded in such a way as this. So " Yay me!" and go take a look-see. Hey, why not buy a copy whilst you're there? Authors need to drink eat too!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

REJECTION...? It happens, get over that, too!

Rejection. It happens, right? That’s what all we authors all tell ourselves, anyway, and sometimes we eve do it with a careless shrug and a laugh. And then we turn away and cry. Bitterly. Because we fear rejection. Deep down, we fear it like a two year-old fears the bogeyman. 

Okay. I don’t do this often…but in this case I’m going to relate a very personal story because it connects directly to my feelings about rejection and the unnecessary agony I see some fellow authors put themselves through over it. When I was 10 yrs-old I suffered catastrophic, inexplicable, and irreversible kidney failure. Due to various factors - which I won’t get into here - I waited 7 years for a transplant, every one of those hard and on dialysis ( I won’t go into that either because it’s a novel in its own darned right! ) and when I did get that magical, life-saving transplant -? Well, it did its best to kill me.

No. Seriously, it did.

Long story short, I reacted with deadly violence against the life- and kidney-saving drugs I was being given, only one out of every ten thousand people who were unlucky enough to do so. More of the long-and-for-another-day story cut mercifully short, I recovered. Against all odds, to the amazement of my doctors, and only to find that my precious life-giving transplant kidney ( which had functioned with steady perfection throughout all the bad stuff ) was starting to REJECT. Well, hell. That sucked ass.

I was assured by one of the most competent and personable nurses whom I have ever had the pleasure of encountering that this was temporary set-back, something that was to be expected, and which could be easily reversed, and that all would be fine…But she also reminded me that even if the kidney did reject permanently, I had got to where I was once, hadn’t I? I could get there again if I was called upon to do so. The bald, simple truth of that statement struck me more than anything else had ever done before or since in my life.

Guess what? Twenty-some years ( and a lot more abuse ) later I still have the same steadily functioning transplant kidney. I’ve had one more episode of rejection - and I didn’t even know about it! My doc told me months afterward. I couldn’t give a shit either. I have always remembered that nurse’s advice: you did it once, you can do it again. Rejection is as rejection does...

And to come to my point…I’ve had a bunch of my writing stuff published in magazines, small presses, by publishers etc. I’ve also had my share of rejections. A whole motherfucking lot of ’em, actually. But has this rejection scarred me, deterred me, sent me weeping and tearing out my hair, running to a corner of a dark room, where I scheme and slobber, wild-eyed, never seeking the light of day again?…

Um, well...NO. Not at all. 

Because I don’t fear it. I stopped fearing rejection of any kind on that long, hot, agitated night I spent in hospital, because I realized something about rejection itself on that same night… … I realized that rejection itself cannot kill us. I fought the rejection of something that really was a life-and-death matter to me, and you know what I learned - ? That it doesn’t even matter that I 'won' - it matters that I fought and I did my best whilst I fought.

What more can any one of us ask of ourselves?

Oh, and if you're still feeling crappy about your book being rejected, go take a look at this:
Publishers Who Got It Embarrassingly Wrong
If that doesn't make you feel better, then you're in the wrong game, matey!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Some Vampires Are Sparkly...Get Over It.

Personally, I don’t care for the ‘Twilight’ series, neither the books nor the movies, but that doesn’t mean I think books and movies alike should be thrown on a bonfire and Stephenie Meyers run out of town. Certainly not. Lots of folks love Edward and Bella and that other bloke, whatsisface, the moody werewolf guy... And why should they not be allowed to love these characters?

What is the big crime in introducing ( pardon the pun ) new blood into the vampire genre? Whether it be blonde Viking vampires who fall in love with half-faery waitresses or teenage vampires who sparkle in sunlight, don’t tell me that there isn’t room in the market for these vampires alongside the coffin-dwelling cape-wearing counts and the grotesques who haunt a cut-off Alaskan town during the yearly 30 days of night. It’s a vast market and there most assuredly is room for everyone. I suspect that the biggest scoffers at Ms Meyers et al are those who cling desperately to what they view as ‘sacred tradition’ in which everyone should adore Tolkien and abhor Evanovich, whilst worshipping at the bloodstained altars of grindhouse and pulp fiction. The idea that tradition might be opened up to include new tenets sends them into a tailspin.

I’ll be the first to defend anyone’s right to an opinion, whether it’s popular opinion or one that chafes right against the grain. But when opinion starts to veer into self-righteous refusal to recognize anyone else’s right to hold a differing opinion, well, then I begin to chafe. If everyone’s tastes were the same, it’d be a mighty dull and dreary world. Just imagine the conversations:

“ I think ‘30 Days of Night’ was the best vampire story ever.”
“ Yes, I think that, too.”
“ Me, too.”
“ I fully concur.”
And on and on ad infinitum.

Is this the world you'd like to live in? ( If your answer to that is ‘yes’, I seriously suggest you seek therapy because having that insecure an ego just ain’t right ) Me, I’d much rather live in a world where there’s room for sparkly teenage emo vampires and the Alaskan throat-ripping grotesques. Because I believe in a world where choice and variety still should exist, even if vampires do not.

And whilst we are talking about vampires...get your copy of 'The Vampires of Hollywood Book 1: Dante's Awakening' by yours truly, Devon Marshall, from Untreed Reads and other outlets NOW! Click on the title there to visit the store and get your ebook copy.

" Ha! Admit it...you are all intimidated by my supreme sparkliness!"

Monday, 7 May 2012

Now At KDP Select...and With FREE Days!

That's right. 'The Lives and Loves of The Modern Goddess' is now enrolled in the KDP Select program. Don't ask me what that is exactly - it's kind of a Kindle owners' electronic library thingie. I think. Anyway, FREE DOWNLOAD DAYS are scheduled for May 10th, June 6th/7th, and July 4th/30th 2012 ( please be aware of UK-US time differences ) so if you want to read my first ever published novella go here to Amazon UK and here to Amazon US.

Now, there are some authors who cleave to the opinion that we should never offer our wares for free ( much less that we should ever give away the free shit that I'll be doing ;-) ), arguing that people don't value what they get for free. But I reckon that's just another example of rampant writer snobbery. We all like to get something for nowt, don't we? Well, I do, and I've yet to meet anyone who'd turn up their nose at being handed a free bookmark in the library or a free cake in the supermarket ( especially the free cakes -you can bring those on, please! ) but that may be because the kind of folks I hang out with don't tend to be rampantly snobbish. Besides, free shit tends to be promotional shit, meaning that the name of the store/business/author will be emblazoned all over whatever bookmark or pen or quirky little sticky-on thing you are given. In other words, you're advertising us for free, in return for getting something to mark your page in your book or write your grocery list with, the idea being that our name should be kept in the forefront of your mind each time you do these things. Oh, and it's always nice, too, if your family, friends, workmates, passing strangers on the street, see our names emblazoned on those quirky sticky-on things!

So, if you aren't a rampant snob and you dig getting free shit, you can do two things, or one of the two, whichever one you choose...You can download 'The Lives and Loves of The Modern Goddess' for FREE on May 10th / June 6th/7th / July 4th/30th 2012 from KDP Select ( assuming you're a member of this, or whatever you have to be to take part, a barcoded and brainwashed Amazon devotee maybe? ) and / or you can drop me an email at this DevonWrites@gmail.com to claim your FREE bookmarks, fridge magnets, and postcards! You don't have to buy the book or download it to claim the freebies, by the way. I'm a generous lil' soul that way...No, actually I'm just learning to be a promotional whore like so many of my scribbling brothers and sisters!

Oh, and by the way, Blogger...thanks a bunch for changing the dashboard layout. As if Facebook and its fucking Timeline weren't enough for we technophobes to be coping with!
" AAARRGH! Ch-ch-changes!"