Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Where does a writers responsibility begin and end?


Following my post on Fifty Shades of Grey, and the white hot rage it and it's message inspired within me, not to mention arguments such as racefail (which still has cause to rear it's ugly head from time to time) and this recent article in the Guardian, I've been thinking a lot recently about a writers responsibilities.

There isn't a lot of fiction out there that elevates any minority to positions of equality. Those that do exist are most often found within the realm of science fiction and fantasy, though there are equally as many fantastic universes created which still seek to oppress minorities, seeming to long for the good old days, when women were little more than princess in ivory towers and slavery was normal.

Any media can be a force for change, putting forward points of view that make us stop and questions ourselves and our preconceptions. Star Trek having a black woman on the bridge, for example, was unthinkable in the 60's. Of course the majority of telephone operators in a telephone exchange were women, so perhaps making her the communications officer was not that ground breaking after all. It made a bold leap, no doubt, but was that leap bold enough? Why couldn't Spock, the second in command, have been a woman, or heaven forbid, even the captain! Even just making a woman the navigation officer would have been better, and at least then the Enterprise would stop and ask for directions when needed!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Hope for Tomorrow, Chapter One

It's #SampleSunday again.

Book Blurb: When housemaid Martha began an affair with her Master's son, Lucien, the future Earl of Marchwood, it was always destined to end badly.

Single, pregnant and unemployed, Martha struggles to forge a new life for herself and her daughter, only for Lucien to inadvertently destroy it.

She and her daughter are homeless and starving when they come to the aid of a man who proves to be their salvation.

Lucien is still obsessed with his lost love, the only woman who has ever rejected him.

A chance meeting seven years later could spell disaster but can they put their pain and pride behind them and seize this opportunity, or will old ghosts ruin their last chance at happiness?

Chapter One
Lucian reeled backwards as though Martha had struck him.
No,” he told her, his usually robust colouring turning ashen. “You can't be, it's not possible!”
I can assure you it is!” Martha said, her previous dreams of everything working out for the best crumbling before her eyes. The pain his denial caused burned deep into her soul and her fiery temper began to assert itself, as it usually did when she was hurt. “It took two of us to make this baby and you were there!”
But... a baby! I can't have a baby with a housemaid!”
A housemaid? After everything you said, all those dreams you shared with me, is that really all I am to you?”
What?” Fear was now causing his own temper to rise. “You thought that I would marry you? Me, the son of the Earl of Marchwood marry you, a servant in my father's home?” He laughed but was it cold and brittle, far from the warm laugh that she loved.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Mason and Me - Life with a Teacup Dragon (7)


Dragon from Shrek

Oops!
There are some animals where it's hard to tell their sex when they're just born. Cats are one type of animal that suffers this. Turns out that dragons also suffer from this little problem and despite an expert assuring me that I had a male, Mason is in fact a girl dragon.We only realised because Mason had a play date with his, I mean, her brother today. The difference became obvious when we saw them side by side, for Wilfred (the brother) is much stouter in his build and his skin is rough, while Mason has a rather graceful build and though scaly, her skin is quite soft and smooth.
Well, we are a female heavy household to begin with, so what's one more? I do feel sorry for Andy-Dog sometimes though, being the only man.
Mason, guarding my North & South DVD
Am suddenly wondering if I can get Mason a little pink tutu or something. Don't worry, I wouldn't really be that cruel.
However, it does explain one interesting factoid, Mason's interest with North and South. You see, I thought that she fancied Margaret (though she wasn't that interested in her scenes) sympathised with the working classes, or perhaps empathised with John's struggle.
But nope, it turns out that I have fire breathing competition for Richard Armitage affections.
My only hope!
Let's face it, girls, when vying for his attention, who is he going to choose? The rare, believed to be extinct dragon, or the slightly mad author? It's a no brainer really.
*Sigh*
My only hope now, is to get a ridiculously cute puppy before meeting him.
Of course, given that neither Mason or me are likely to meet him, that might be a little drastic.
Still, it's nice to have company to watch the mini-series with, when I can wrestle the DVD box away from her, that is. She's weirdly possessive of it.
I haven't daren't show her the Vicar of Dibley yet, I'm afraid her ovaries might burst! 
Mason and her brother, Wilfred.

Previous Mason blogs : Intro | Feeding | Other Breeds | Oh Dear! | Tricks and more | First outing |

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Trouble With Twilight?

I've heard a lot of people groan and complain about the feminist aspects of the Twilight Saga but honestly, the first time I read them I was too caught up in the plot to pay much attention to the sexism. After the furore surrounding 50 Shades of Grey, a story inspired by Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, I decided to go back and read the Twilight Saga to see what exactly inspired a story about a sado-masochistic relationship. It didn't sound anything like the Twilight I remembered.

I'm only going to comment on this from a feminists perspective, I'll leave the quality of the writing and the Mary-Sue aspects to people more qualified to comment.

So, let me start by saying that as a feminist, on the whole, the books don't offend me or my feminist ideals, though there are a few gripes.

I'll start with the biggest, Bella going to pieces when Edward leaves her in New Moon. I'm not saying women don't go to pieces, I have a friend whose sister, a high-powered executive, was hospitalised for depression when her husband left her. So it does happen, some people do fall apart when they're left. In this book, even Edward is portrayed as being a broken man after leaving Bella, so I cant even argue that this is a sexist representation of women.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The trouble with 50 Shades of Grey


Fifty Shades of Grey, by EL James
For those not in the know, 50 shades of Grey began life as an AU Twilight Fanfiction, casting Edward as the human Dominant and Bella as his Submissive. It was very popular and since being published by a twilight fanfic publishing house (with names changed to Christian and Anastasia and a few other details altered) it has broken records and made headlines across the world. It was just bought by Vintage (an imprint of Random House) for a 7 figure sum.

Love it or loath it, everyone is talking about 50 Shades of Grey.

I wont comment on the fanfic element because many others have done that and besides, I don't believe that fanfic writes are inherently bad writers. What does trouble me though, if the BDSM elements. In case you're an innocent, that's Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism.

The 'sadism' in that acronym should give you an idea where this is heading. In case you think that BDSM is all rollplay and tie and tease, let me assure you, it isn't.

[WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES AT THE FOLLOWING LINKS]

Mason and Me - Life with a Teacup Dragon (6)


First outing.
During the glorious good weather we had the other week, we thought we'd try our first trip outside. There are a few things to remember when acclimatising your teacup dragon to new things.
1) They are very shy creatures. Try to find a bag, pocket or similar, so that they can still peek out but also feel safe.
2) Don't go anywhere loud or crowded.
3) When scared, they tend to flame. Make sure you have some oven gloves and a handy pocket fire extinguisher, just in case.
4) Don't wear anything too flammable (steer clear of the hairspray on days like this).
Mason's first time outside
So, with all this in mind, I put him in my shirt pocket and we headed to the park with the dogs (I thought that having the dogs around would make him feel more relaxed). The material on my shirt is thin enough that he could just about see through it, or he could peak out of the top of the pocket when he felt confident.
We settled on the grass for a while and when the park emptied out after lunch time, I took him out and he wandered on the grass for a while. He seems to like nature, though when he saw another person enter the park (like, 100 meters away) he gave me a few scratches as he desperately tried to get back into my pocket.
Still, all's well that ends well.

Previous Mason blogs : Intro | Feeding | Other Breeds | Oh Dear! | Tricks and more |


Welcome to the Zombie Apocalypse!

How to Train Your Zombie


Welcome to my latest release, How to Train Your Zombie.

So what's it all about? Well, I'm glad you asked me that. You see...

The Zombie war is in its final throes, when Meg's husband is bitten. She's lost so much already that she just can't face losing him too, so employing her skills as a dog trainer, she takes it upon herself to try and train him.

Not only must she face the dangers inherent in close contact with a zombie, she must also protect him from outside forces that mean him harm. Can she convince the handsome yet stern Colonel MacDonald that he deserves a chance? Can she stop him being used for vivisection? What about those who want to use him as bait for other zombies?

Join Meg during the final few months of the Zombie war, as she shares her at times gruesome, sad and darkly humorous story with us.
Richard Armitage, my inspiration for Colonel MacDonald

In a slight departure from my usual work, this novel is written in the first person, from our heroine, Meg's point of view.

Buy your copy now:
From Amazon UK
Or Amazon US

Paperback coming soon.

Try before you buy; read chapter one here.

Yeah, I know I said no more books last month, but that was last month! *sheepish grin*

Truthfully, I have no TV, so all those hours a night you spend watching Coronation Street and Watchdog and the like, I spend writing (or editing) because honestly? I have nothing else to do.

While we're on a zombie theme, let me share this little gem with you (below), Zombie Love Song by Your Favourite Martian. It's well worth a watch, trust me.


How to Train Your Zombie, Prologue, Chapters 1 & 2

Another Sunday, another sample.

Book Blurb: The zombie apocalypse, which has devastated the world, is in its final throes when Meg's husband is bitten. She has lost so much already that she simply can't face losing him too, so when it becomes apparent that he is about to join the ranks of the walking dead, she decides to employ her skills as a dog trainer and takes it upon herself to train him.

Not only must she face the dangers inherent in close contact with a zombie, she must also protect him from outside forces that mean him harm. Can she convince the handsome yet stern Colonel MacDonald that he deserves a chance? Can she stop him being used for vivisection? What about those who want to use him as bait for other zombies?

Join Meg during the final few months of the Zombie war, as she shares her, at times, gruesome, sad and darkly humorous story.

Prologue
Let me make one thing clear; I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. I don't know shit about Freud, cognitive behaviours or Neuro-linguine programming, or whatever the hell it is. When I began this fool's quest, I had no noble intentions of proving anything about life, intelligence, the soul or any other quasi-philosophical crap.
I am a dog trainer. Not only that, I am a kick-arse dog trainer.
It just seemed clear to me that the zombies retained a basic intelligence. They knew what they wanted (food) and they could perform simple tasks (such as opening door handles). I reasoned that if they were capable of even rudimentary intelligence, they could become productive members of society. Perhaps they might even progress and gain intelligence, just as children grow and learn. They may never become Prime Minister (though sometimes I don't think they could do a worse job) but one day, I thought, it might be possible that they would be your checkout person at the local Tesco Extra.
And if you believe that load of bollocks, you'll believe anything.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Bemused, Chapter One

It's sample Sunday on twitter, so please enjoy this sample of Bemused.

Book Blurb: When self-made property developer, Niall, is attacked by vampires on his way home, his neat and ordered life soon begins to fall apart. His rescuer, the effervescent Mel, declares herself to be his Muse - better known in modern times as a Guardian Angel - and offers him a business proposition; she wants them to go into business as supernatural detectives.

Slightly sceptical to say the least, Niall eventually agrees to work one case with her - helped in no small part by his rather strong attraction to Mel.

Mrs Hart's house has been plagued by a series of deadly and inexplicable events, culminating in the death of a local boy. As they look into possible causes, Niall finds himself growing even more fond of Mel, although she seems determined to keep him at arm's length.

He discovers why she she is so reticent but that is soon overshadowed by the cause of Mrs Hart's problems; a foe so powerful that even the immortal Mel seems terrified!


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Mason and Me - Life with a Teacup Dragon (5)


Tricks and more!
Mason's creation!
Well, Mason had mastered toast, cupcakes and Victoria sponge! Our next challenge is... Barbecue! Of course it's still a little early in the year for that.
He also makes a mean latte. In fact, Mason gets more use than my hob and my microwave now! Talk about energy efficient; we're saving the world, one teacup dragon at a time! Still, he seems to enjoy it and he gets a mini marshmallow when he does well.
He's now just mastering holding what he's cooking and though his hands are small, he can just about manage a slice of toast. I was quite surprised to get up earlier this week to find that he'd managed to open the bread, get a plate out and cook it to perfection, all in time for me to come through. He's such a sweetheart!
Mason lighting my friends cigarette
He's a two months old now and fully house trained. He has a teeny litter box that he uses. When it's raining, the poor old dogs look quite envious of him!
I've taught him to sit on command, to shake hands and wings and to wink. But the coolest thing I've taught him is to light a cigarette. Yes, I know it's bad for you, but I'm a writer, we live on our nerves (well some of us). You still won't find a cooler lighter, and he lights candles and other things too.
He still hasn't learned to fly but he's a little young for that.

Follow Mason's facebook page for regular updates.


Intro | Feeding | Other Breeds | Oh Dear! |