Friday, 29 October 2010


Last weekend was Halloween. Okay, so it wasn’t but for our local pagan community we made it Halloween as certain people couldn’t make it the following weekend. Halloween, or Samhain as it’s known by most modern pagans, is seen as the time of the year when the veil between the worlds is at it’s thinnest. It’s seen as a time for divinations and the like as the spirits that communicate with us at the time find it easiest to get through.

You can see this how you like. As a philosophical rather than a theological pagan I tend to see all forms of divination as being the same. Whether by Tarot cards, astrology or contact with the dead the result is the same, that we manage to gain information or insight that we wouldn’t otherwise have. All these divination systems free up our intuition and seem to enable these insights and the source becomes irrelevant.

The actual date of Halloween is also a bit of a moot point as it’s more a factor of the time of year. We are finally saying goodbye to the summer, autumn is no longer in doubt and to an agrarian dweller the world seem to be dying. So the date, give or take a week is somewhat irrelevant.

However, Halloween isn’t only about Tarot cards and apple bobbing. It’s a time for remembering our dead. Many pagans have a respect for their ancestors, but remembering some amorphous people who’s names we hardly know and certainly never met seems a little distorted when each of us most surely have been to a funeral or two. So when we come to remember our ancestors let’s pay homage to those recently departed, Aunty Jane or Uncle Bob, or even Mum or Dad. It matters not that they may not have shared our path because despite the fact that they may be different to us, may have opposed our pagan perspective or may never have known who we really are, these people are our ancestors. These recent ancestors are our flesh and blood we should remember them for, perhaps, nobody else will. And if we do then, perhaps also, those that come after us will remember us.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

I am an arse - well partially at least

It seems publishers are beginning to look to self published authors for their next talent. This is great news for self published authors waiting to be discovered. But look just below the surface of these claims and you discover that publishers are looking for self publishers who have achieved good sales of their self published books. So they seem to be using successful self published authors as a way of reducing their exposure to risk.

Read Alan Rinzler's blog about this here

I’m a pretty incompetent publisher. I’m a fairly incompetent marketer. I’m a completely incompetent publicist. When it comes to being a self publicist I’m a total arse! I am a self publisher.

I can’t phone up a venue to say I’d like to do a book promotion for my own book because I feel like they will think I’m a wannabe, unable to find a publisher because I’m crap. I know that’s not the case but it’s what’s going through my mind. During the brief time when I had a publicist I did readings, signings, all sorts, and I had a great time. Having somebody else to represent you gives you credibility. I can do all the web promotion, social networking, all that’s easy. When I started I chose a pen name so I could pretend to be a second person when I was acting as my publisher. That way I might disguise the fact that I was self published. It didn’t really help much because what I really needed was another team member.

I’m a writer, I’ve been writing for twenty years, mostly corporate or technical content with some copywriting and a bit of journalism thrown in for good measure. Now I’m trying to break into a new field, writing popular mass market comic fiction.

Saying that publishers are going to judge the potential of a self published book on sales seems ludicrous. I know these are businesses but, surely, when a manuscript lands on their desk they judge it on the manuscript. It’s got potential or it hasn’t. Expecting self published books to show fantastic sales is just saying that they only what to publish books by business gurus. I write deeply absurd comic fiction with philosophical themes that make people laugh out loud on the train. I know that’s true, my readers have told me so. But I don’t have tens of thousands of readers out there because I have no way of reaching the mass market. Even blogging and tweeting isn't going to  bring you to the level that the industry are looking for as people follow bloggers when they have whiff of success, rarely before. Plus some of the bigger on-line sellers list print on demand books as unavailable or out of print! The industry is actively blocking the one man bands.

Publishing insiders claim that there isn’t a wall around the industry. Saying that self published writers are welcome, then picking up one or two as an example to show how open the industry is, just means they have extended the wall to block a minor breach. The rest of us are still on the outside.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Druids are recognised religion - Daily Mail journalist turns out to be mystical seer

The past couple of days we’ve heard that the druids have been recognised as a religion. As I understand it the truth of the matter is that The Druid Network has been granted charity status by the Charity Commission and this was because they needed some sort of legal status due to the fact that they are collecting money from their membership. The fact of the matter is that they applied for charitable staus, presumably because their organisations isn’t set up to make a profit and one might imagine that there are no shareholders. We might imagine that the Charity Commission have had to have a box to put them in and the only box available was religion. The alternatives might have been anything from a sports foundation an animal welfare organisation. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are recognised as a religion by the state but apart from the relationship between the Monarchy and the Church of England I’m not sure that the UK recognises any religions anyway.

Today there was a wonderfully disapproving article in the Daily Mail by Melanie Philips complaining that the whole world is going to rat shit and no doubt Christianity should be the one true faith and all that.

Ironically I think Melanie Philips (see Daily Mail article) has a surprisingly good grasp of the changing times we are living through. She's just raging against the new reality. She recognises the weakening of heavily structured top down faiths and its partner, heavily structured rational perception. She understands how there is a continuing upsurge of bottom up, grass roots religions where people gain some autonomy but also have to have a sense of responsibility rather than externalise all their experiences both positive and negative. What she fails to understand is that there are other established faiths and practices, such as Buddhism, which don't have this top down structure and they are stable if not growing.

So apart from that last little oversight I reckon Melanie Philips, bless her undoubtedly Tory cotton socks, should be revered as a prophet and a seer. ;o)

Read my book about this very subject here