Marchbooks' Blog

March 27, 2009

Talk to Your Animals by M.J. Claire

Filed under: Comments from our Authors,Uncategorized — marchbooks @ 5:34 pm
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A cute commercial, I believe the product is Pupperoni, shows an assortment of animals and how we communicate with them: a woman holds up a dress to a great Dane who is holding a sign that says ‘I like the red one’, a dog lies on his back holding a sign that says ‘a little to the left’ as his owner scratches his belly and a Bulldog, sitting by his burly owner, holds a sign that says ‘I’m not going to cry’ as they watch a sad movie. It makes me think about how we communicate with the animals in our lives.

Most of us have come to know when the animals we live with need the essentials: a fresh bowl of water, some moist food or a scratch behind the ear. One of my cats will meow and head butt me until I lift the covers so she can come under and snuggle against me. Another can go for days without any human contact but then she follows me everywhere I go, winding herself around my legs and trying to trip me up, until I give her some much needed attention.

It gets more difficult when these animals that we love so much are not feeling well, especially cats. Felines are so independent that we don’t always notice, especially in a multiple cat household, when they are not eating, drinking or using the litter box. More than once, I have had a cat become ill and I have wondered to myself if I should have seen the signs earlier. In those instances, I can’t help but think how nice it would be if they could hold up a placard saying ‘hey stupid, I’m sick’. For owners with AIDS infected cats, it becomes even more important. Oftentimes, when we finally realize that they are sick, it is already too late for their depressed immune systems.

But not all pet owners are even that mindful. How many households are there where the dog or cats in residence are nothing but an afterthought? In those instances, the animal may be lucky just to be brought inside on a night when temperatures dip below zero. In these homes feeding and watering the animals may or may not get done on a regular basis, shots and regular vetting doesn’t usually occur and the animal is probably not neutered.

These neglectful situations occur because many people do not see the health and well-being of their animals as an important consideration. If they did, our animal shelters would not be overflowing and there would not be astronomical numbers of innocent animals euthanized every year. For these owners, I would say; take a moment and look into the eyes of your animal. They are trying to communicate with you. They can communicate with you, but they cannot do it with a big sign around their neck. You have to look and listen.

On the far extreme of these owners  are the ones who can only communicate with their animals in a violent manner. These are the people who enjoy inflicting abuse on something that is small and defenseless. How can someone actually enjoy looking into an animals eyes and seeing pain and fear? It is incomprehensible to me and yet it happens every day. These people just do not know, or care, that human beings do not have a monopoly on suffering. To these people, I would say, talk to your animals. They are much more than so much fur and bones. Perhaps, if you let them, they can help you find a way to heal the anger that drives you. Because, no matter what abuse you heap on them, the animals in your life will accept you. That is a great gift that should not be squandered.

March 23, 2009

An Economic House of Cards by Janus Kane

Filed under: Uncategorized — marchbooks @ 6:52 pm

I am curious. How many of you out there actually believe that our economy will have any integrity at all when the dust settles? Will the American dollar have any value after this recession has finally leveled out? First the disclaimer – I am by no means an expert. My one undergraduate course in Economics did not go well. I think I recall a C+ for my efforts. But, I have been successfully managing my own finances for over 30 years and I believe I have developed a sense of what works and what doesn’t. I had no love for ‘the Bush administration’. I do like Barak Obama and what he stands for. I think he is the shot-in-the-arm that this country needs. I do realize that ‘doing nothing’, in light of this recession, was not an option.

Having said all of that, I have to add emphatically that I am not in favor of, nor do I understand the current bailout philosophy. This is not the first time we have helped to bail out an industry (several years back it was the Savings and Loan organizations) and it will probably not be the last. But, where is this money coming from and are we placing no restrictions on its use? A wise man once told me; ‘if you are going to give  money – give it with the understanding that you will, in all likelihood, never see it again’. The context here was loaning money to a family member. The banking industry is not a family member, unless we consider it the shiftless uncle that drops in only when he needs some cash, and this money was not a gift. At least I hope it wasn’t.

But, I am not sure. In all of the congressional hearings, I don’t remember any mention of interest rates or repayment terms. How odd that the American people would give money to financial institutions that survive on one thing alone – the interest that they charge us for the use of their money. So now, if I am understanding this correctly, we are giving money to the banks so they can loan it back to us at the going interest rate. ????

I suppose that the original logic was based on the trickle down theory – that these large amounts of money would eventually trickle down and benefit the general populace. Unfortunately, the only trickling seems to be happening within the hierarchy of these major corporations.

But, if we put that questionable plan aside, that still leaves the question of where this money is coming from. How is it that we have suddenly gotten access to over a Trillion dollars that we are free to loan/give to whomever we choose? Is there a little back room at the Treasury where we are printing this special EXTRA money? Is this money backed up by gold bullion? If so, where was it when our government was running a financial deficit of its own?

Again, I acknowledge that math is not my strong suit, but it still does not add up. We had a Trillion dollars sitting around collecting dust while we had elderly who were shivering in the cold, while kids were dying for lack of health insurance and while mothers had to send their children to bed, hungry. I ask again, where did this big influx of cash come from? And while these corporations happily pad their bonuses and use this money unscrupulously, what will it do to the American dollar.

Are we creating a world where our children will have to carry thousand dollar bills around like we carry twenties? Are we edging toward the fifty dollar cup of coffee or the twenty dollar tank of gas? I have to wonder, because that is the one thing I took away from my Economics 101 course – supply and demand. In this instance, have we increased the supply of greenbacks in circulation to the point where they will loose their value? I suppose only time will tell, but one thing seems pretty clear – we are not going to fix our current economic problems by throwing more money at them.

March 20, 2009

Animal Advocacy by M. J. Claire

Filed under: Comments from our Authors — marchbooks @ 6:55 pm

People who know me are not surprised that a recurring theme in my stories is the humane treatment of animals. The key word here being – humane. We all need to remember that we, as human beings, do not have a monopoly on suffering. Animals, whether they be four-legged with fur or covered in feathers, scales or fins, feel pain. They can also communicate with us.

Anyone who has formed a bond with a beloved pet knows that they are not the unthinking footstools that some people think they are. So, whether it be the animal testing labs that are killing animals in the name of better cosmetics, the unthinking business owner who leaves their dog tied outside in all kinds of weather to guard their cherished junk cars or the thoughtless pet owner who does not have their cats spayed because ‘the kittens are so cute’ but them dumps them off at the nearest farmhouse, I will be endeavoring to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Hopefully some of you will do the same and report the careless person who leaves their dog in a baking car while they run in to do some shopping or the clueless person who puts their dog at risk of hanging by tying them on their deck.

We are supposed to be the intelligent species. Lets start acting like it. My books speak primarily to kids who need to see that there is a better way to treat the other beings that share this planet with us. Kids that need to realize that animals deserve more respect and better treatment. Kids that need to see that there is a better way to cohabitate with our smaller, more vulnerable companions.

There is a better way. Let’s find it.

Nightsweats in Bigelow Hollow

March 19, 2009

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March 13, 2009

The Face of Publishing Today – by Janus Kane

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 9:31 pm

There is no question that the world of publishing is experiencing some growing pains. With the development of new Print-on-Demand technology, one has to wonder why we are holding onto the old ways.

It has been almost 600 years since the advent of the first printing press. Much of what we are seeing today, in the publishing world, are operating practices that are that deeply entrenched and equally outdated. Large print runs, short promotional periods and unlimited return policies are just a few of these antiquated carryovers. Isn’t it time that we reavaluate those practices?

Today, when our forests are dwindling, can we really say that we have the luxury of large print runs that will eventually wind up in the supermarket discount bins? Why should a book’s shelf life be limited to 4-6 months unless it is a breakout bestseller? Today, we have the luxury afforded by new POD technologies. We can print a text out in 1-500 copies at the touch of a button. Those books can be at the vendors front door in a day or two.

Why then is it necessary to continue overshipping books, storing and handling them only to pack them back up after six months and return them for a credit.

What other product in today’s economy offers a no-questions-asked, unlimited return policy? Perhaps there was a need for such guarantees at one time. Now, there is no need for such speculative safeguards, in fact, they are counterproductive. No other industry offers a guarantee of sale on their merchandise. There is always a bit of speculation involved. By allowing a merchant to return books, in any condition, upon their failure to sell, there is no incentive for the merchant to exercise intelligent buying practices. They can buy large quantities to fill their shelves, secure in the knowledge that they can return unsold books at any time.

It is lovely to have a sea of bestsellers spreading across the entrance to your local bookstore, but ask yourself – what is the cost? What is the cost in labor to print, package and ship those books? What is the time investment required to unpackage and display those books, only to repackage them months later for return? And most sadly, what is the cost to the environment of producing thousands and thousands of books that will at best end up in the recycling bin.

Maybe it is time for a more enlightened, environmentally sound approach to book publication. Maybe it is time to break free from outdated practices and approach the job of publishing with a less short-sighted outlook. Perhaps it is time for the book publishing trade to join step with the new publishing technology and quit holding on to old, outdated practices.

We can only hope.

 

To Be Released in August 2009

To Be Released - August 2009

March 10, 2009

The Arduous but Necessary Task of Editing

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 7:11 pm

 

 

 

Every time I try to read Strunk or ‘The Chicago Manual of Style’, my head starts to hurt. I don’t think that attention to grammar comes easily to most people, especially in today’s ‘hurry up and go’ society. In my own case, I find myself using punctuation the way a blind musician plays music – by ear. For good or bad, my acid test is how a sentence sounds when I read it. That does not mean that it is right. I am sure there are those who would argue with my comma placement or my use of a dash rather than a colon. To a degree, some of these choices are open to the author’s interpretation.

What is not up to interpretation is the myriad of careless spelling errors that seems to be so prevalent in self-published works. Whether it is online or a hard copy publication, this is an infraction that hurts everyone who ventures into the seas of self-publication. I would venture to say that this is the main reason that self-published authors do not get the respect they deserve. Publishing a work that you have labored over is a complex endeavor. It should be taken seriously. Editing your own work is tedious, exhausting and difficult, but it has to be done.

It is a given that, even after the most strenuous editing efforts, there will still be small things that may be missed. Big publishing houses put out books that are less than perfect and that is with the resources of an arsenal of editors and proofreaders. But, we can all tell the difference between one errant typo and a story that is replete with errors. 

In some instances, it is hard to believe that the author has made even a cursory effort to proof their writing. It is almost as if, once the words are written, the author wants nothing more to do with them. How tragic? If an author doesn’t even enjoy reading his/her own words, how can they expect someone else to?

We all realize that editing ones own writing is a difficult and arduous task. We can commiserate with those who have words popping into their heads so quickly that they just have to write them down, but please, have some compassion for the reader. Mistakes are made. We’re not perfect. That’s why God made erasers and that’s why Bill Gates gave us spell check (is he the one who was responsible for that…hmmm?).

 

This kind of careless effort brings us all down. The advances in printing technology are a huge boon to those who want to see their lovely words in book form. Let’s not take advantage of it and let’s not take advantage of the poor reader who spends their hard-earned money, only to get a sub-standard piece of literature. We can’t all be Keats or Tolkien, but we can all make our publications the best and most polished works they can be.

 

After all, your name is on this story that you have labored over for months and months. Have some respect for your art. Put your best work out there and make sure that it is a reflection of you. If you like going out to dinner in a dirty, tattered t-shirt, okay then. Hopefully you don’t, but even if you do, don’t make your book suffer by sending it out into the world looking like a filthy street urchin. Dress it up in its Sunday best. Give it the respect it deserves and make your writing something you can be proud of.

 

 

 

Read on.  Visit our website http://www.marchbooks.com

 

 

Kelly escapes from Black Institute

Kelly's escape from the Black Institute

 

 

Meet Jenn, Jason, Kyle, Kyra, Beth and Brad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 6, 2009

Publishing in Today’s Tough Economy

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 8:02 pm
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Is there ever a good time to start a venture of this magnitude? Entering the complex world of publishing is a daunting endeavor under the best of circumstance. These are certainly not the best circumstances. With businesses folding all around us, what besides temporary insanity would prompt such an undertaking?

The answer is simple. There has never been a greater need for a little dose of healthy escapism. What, other than a good book, can better transport us out of the sea of troubled waters that is now our reality? What else can give your mind the kind of vacation that it so desperately craves?

A good book may not cure your problems. It won’t make them go away. But, perhaps it will put us in a better frame of mind to come back and deal with them. And even if it doesn’t, it will still give us those blessed hours where we can focus on someone else’s problems, someone else’s life, someone else’s story – all for less than the price of a take-out pizza.

March Books is all about bringing good stories to eager readers. We believe in good, healthy escapism – wherever and whenever you can get it.

Read on.  Visit our website http://www.marchbooks.com

Kelly escapes from Black Institute

Kelly's escape from the Black Institute

Meet Jenn, Jason, Kyle, Kyra, Beth and Brad

Meet Jenn, Jason, Kyle, Kyra, Beth and Brad

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