Always judge a book by its cover

themileVery chuffed that Emily Hogarth’s amazing cover for The Mile is to feature in the Book Week Scotland exhibition celebrating “the very best in contemporary book design and innovation”.

It’ll be at Edinburgh Castle for a week (21st – 27th November) before moving to Stirling Castle (5th – 11th December).

Always judge a book by its cover, I say, especially this one, which is still only £1.99 on Kindle or £6.99 in paperback. You don’t get the real thing though, that’s MINE. Hands off.

Details here: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/…/design-by-the-book-a-sco…

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Shorts – a collection of easy-drinking short stories, set mostly in Scotland

shorts-smlIf you enjoyed THE MILE you might like my wee bargain-basement collection of short stories.

These were all written before The Mile, as part of an online writing course (www.writingclasses.co.uk) so they’re a mixed bag, but you might find something you like in there.

  1. Pleasant Street  -Albert just wants a kip but his upstairs neighbour has other ideas.
  2. Everyone’s a winner baby – Danny makes a life-changing decision.
  3. For the river – a group of friends come together in grief.
  4. Fly me to the moon – a nurse causes a stir in the wards.
  5. Blowin’ in the wind – an eviction, but a glimmer of hope remains.
  6. Goosed – a quest for a Christmas dinner.

Reviews so far:

“Sharp, funny, observant, sometimes heart breaking this cleverly written collection of stories once again show what a talented writer Craig A. Smith is. The only downside is that it wasn’t longer! From the hilarious ‘Pleasant Street’ to the deeply moving ‘For the river’ this book will not disappoint.”

“Mostly re-affirming, occasionally sad, a few quiet chuckles and a couple of laugh-out-louds. Give it a bash folks, you’ll like this, I guarantee it.”

And it’s only 99p.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GKE9EAG

We will be free, and THE MILE will be free (for 3 days only)

Here we are, one year on, and Better Together’s promises have crumbled to dust. Like we said they would. The Tories are back in Number 10, and could well be there until 2030. Like we said they would.

mile-cover-smallWe could go on, but nobody like a smart arse, suffice to say it’s all panning out as we predicted.

What we probably couldn’t have predicted though, was just how quickly we’d pick ourselves up again.

The immediate aftermath of September 18th was a grim, grim time for us Yes voters, and it seemed that the bubble had burst. Fear had won over hope. The dream had died.

For a week or so I was miserable. Sleeping all the time. Every day seemed to bring more bad news, but in the middle of all that there were faint glimmers of hope. Embers that refused to go out. Whether it was a passer-by with a Yes badge, or a car driver still proudly displaying their Yes stickers – it kept us connected, kept us talking to complete strangers. Our bond – our common goal of independence. Normality. A Scotland free from the Tories forever.

And here we are today, with a political map a mere 4000 votes from turning completely SNP yellow, and already preparing for #indyref round two.

So, to commemorate the anniversary of Scotland truly fucking-up the biggest decision we’ve ever been asked to make, THE MILE is going to be available for Kindle at the austerity-snubbing price of £0.00 for three whole days.

Yup, zero pounds, zero pence. Zip. Nada.

(It’s already available for nowt as part of Kindle Unlimited’s lending service, but now you can own it for hee-haw too.)

I was conscious when writing the book that it shouldn’t speculate on the outcome of the vote. That would have been daft, and could have consigned it to the dustbin after September 2014.

I read the ending again recently, and it still stands up. It hasn’t aged. If anything, it’s even more apposite. So if you haven’t already, please give it a read. It’s not like it’s going to cost you anything, tightwad.

Still need convinced? Here are some Amazon reviews:

One of the funniest books I have ever read.

Arguably the best thing I’ve seen written about the Independence referendum.

Once you pick up this book you will not be able to put it back down again.

Thoroughly recommended.

A page turning treat.

Easy reading book that i just couldnt put down.

Witty and well written with a native’s eye for detail.

Tremendous. Started reading this morning and just kept going right to the end non-stop.

Brilliant read.  I could not put it down. Highly recommended.

A wee book full of heart and brimming with optimism for a future Scotland.

Brilliant novel.

Laugh out loud moments.

This book is brilliant. I never wanted it to end.

My eyes genuinely welled up towards the end, and I’m not really a soppy type.

A positive book with a positive message.

Fantastic read from start to finish.

Perfect.

The prose of The Mile flows like the beer taps of its busiest pub. Highly recommended.

A really enjoyable read.

Cracking debut novel with a heart-warming story.

Had me hooked on the first chapter.

It’s been awhile since I’ve cared so much about figures in a novel.

Five Stars for a belter of a book!

Gripping read kept me up till 6 am finishing it!!! 

Funny, sad, thought-provoking and brimming with positivity. You will not be disappointed.

Cracking story very well told with laughs, history lessons and political commentary a plenty.

Filled with characters that are likeable, seemingly larger than life but incredibly relatable and real feeling, this is a novel that I literally couldn’t put down.

The Mile is a story that manages to evoke that rare feeling in today’s cynical world; hope.

So what are you waiting for!?

Here it is, right here, nae cash necessary!!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FIPT1GG/  

According to reader comments, and Twitter conversations, this “Wee Blue Book” has also played its part in driving folk towards a Yes vote, and there’s no reason why it can’t continue to do this, so please share and spread the word.

And for everyone who’s already bought it, thank you – you are already awesome.

Who are you calling anti-English ya clown!?

Remember how the media portrayed anyone voting Yes as “anti-English” throughout the referendum campaign?

I was involved in this for over two years, and didn’t witness this at all. Not once. The Yes vote was anti-Westminster, anti-austerity, anti-sleaze, anti-corruption, all of this, but it was NEVER anti-English. Still, it gave the media and the pro-UK campaigners a stick to beat us with. And it gave the more low-wattage unionists (and jeezo, there were plenty of them) a simple, but groundless, put-down.

It’s still happening on Twitter now under the witless SNPOut hashtag (out of what? They’re barely IN Westminster, fucking idiots).

Dunno if you’re paying attention, but since we’ve accepted the vote and swallowed the fact that most decisions affecting Scotland are still, for now, going to be made at Westminster, the anti-Scottish rhetoric has gone through the roof. Cartoons in all the English press, that would be deemed offensive in any normal society. Rabid attacks on SNP representatives on the BBC politics shows. “SNP threat” this and “Jock stranglehold” that.

It’s a fucking disgrace, and that’s what your “Better Together” vote did for this country. Stay a part of the UK, but only if you shut your mouth. It’s an affront to democracy, plain and simple.

I don’t think Labour will be wiped out in Scotland as much as the polls suggest, but we are going to send a hell of a lot more SNP MPs to Westminster. And let’s face it, a Labour government or a Tory government makes heehaw difference to life in Scotland. Ed Balls confirmed he wouldn’t reverse a single thing in Osborne’s budget. They are now one and the same party.

It’s all getting very interesting again, and maybe the anti-Scottish brigade (and there are as many of them up here as there are down there) could end up winning independence for us after all.

Our eyes are on the prize

Just a wee thought for “No thanks” folk.

For the most part, you haven’t exactly been motivated throughout this campaign, you’ve sat back, comfortable in the knowledge that the opinion polls were on your side. That’s always the way with referendums, the status quo takes an early lead. Helped by the “I’m alright Jack” attitude, complacency, or whatever.

As Better Together continue to bus-up paid “volunteers” from down south to help out, it’s clear that most of you haven’t volunteered, delivered leaflets, spoke to friends & neighbours, read hundreds of blogs and articles, attended public meetings and communicated with like-minded people on a daily basis.

Well, we have. And we’re not giving up. We’re the ones who want change, so if, heaven forbid, we wake up to a no vote on the 19th we won’t be content with spending the next five years saying “we told you so” as Scotland’s budget is decimated, our public services crumble and that “volatile” resource of oil continues to keep the City of London gorging on the champagne and truffles while kids in Glasgow, and Dundee and Edinburgh go to bed hungry every night. We’ll keep on keeping on.

Independence is the goal, and our eyes are on the prize.

Having said that, maybe a narrow win will mobilize you to defend this union you seem so keen on. It’s just that I haven’t seen a single good reason for keeping it.

Millionaire J.K. Rowling supports Better Together

I’ve just read JK Rowling’s piece on why she’s donated £1m of her hard-earned cash to the anti-Scotland campaign and, as a fellow author (and one who spent a whole month at the number one slot in Blackwell’s while Rowling’s books were nowhere to be seen – booya!) I thought I’d pen a quick response.

Okay, joking aside, my book sells heehaw in comparison to Ms Rowling’s blockbusters, so I don’t have a million quid to donate to Yes Scotland. Believe me, if I did, I would. So far, I’ve probably donated about £150 to various pro-independence causes. Some to the official campaign, some to National Collective, Wings, Business for Scotland, Scotland Yet, Women for Independence etc. It’s all I can afford, unfortunately. The Yes campaign has been largely supported by ordinary people (and okay, the Weir’s millions too, but they’re still ordinary folk). £100 can make a serious dent in a grassroots supporter’s wallet. Unlike Ms Rowling  – for whom £1m, while undoubtedly generous, probably won’t have her heading to Aldi instead of Waitrose this week.

You have to ask though, why is it only millionaires that are hell-bent on protecting this rotten union? 1 in 5 Scottish kids are born into poverty, that will rise to 1 in 3 soon. In some parts of Glasgow, HALF the kids are born into hardship and will be queuing at their local foodbank long before they’re queueing for Ms Rowling’s autograph.

This is why I support a Yes vote, not – as Ms Rowling suggests – because the Yes campaign offers false promises of a utopia, but because I know that we’ll NEVER be able to address these problems under Westminster rule. I, like most rational Yes voters, don’t expect a land of milk and honey to appear overnight. I’d just like our “wee” country to be able to do something about it. Like every other “wee” country in the world – Denmark, Norway etc. consistently top the “happiest nations” leagues. Same size as Scotland, with similar resources available to them.

There’s a blatant piece of Better Together spin in her piece about the bank bailouts. Seriously, sometimes speaking to pro-union supporters is like taking the argument back a few years. The share of the bank bailout, if Scotland had been independent, would have been ROUGHLY THE SAME, as only 10% of RBS’s operations are based in Scotland.

She displays the usual unhealthy obsession with Alex Salmond, which supporters of the union seem to share. Most Yes supporters never mention the guy – but it suits the Better Together argument to personalise the Yes vote, knowing that Salmond, despite his party just winning the Scottish Euro Election, is still unpopular among certain voters.

And if she wants to highlight that “fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence” surely we need a bit of balance. A quick look at BritNat Abuse Bot on Twitter shows that this swings both ways. It doesn’t help the argument to be so blinkered, so accept that this is rife on both sides of the debate and we might start to get somewhere. But adding fuel to the Daily Mail’s “CyberNat” fire is duplicitious and I’d expect better.

And regarding Yes supporters’ apparent obsession with national identity as “death-eaterish”? Really? Who’s claiming any pure-Scots lineage? I’m only half-Scottish, if you want to go down that route. I’m also a quarter-English, an eighth-Irish, and an eighth-Italian. The important thing is I live in Scotland, and so I care most about the country I live in. This is the crux of Civic Nationalism. Lineage or ethnicity doesn’t factor into it. But the pro-UK campaign and its supporters love to claim it does. It’s just another attempt at obfuscation which muddies the argument and attempts to demonise those who just want Scotland to be a normal country.

She then brings up the old oil argument. As has been pointed out many times, oil is a bonus to the Scottish economy, we don’t rely on it. Yes it’s running out. It’s also running out all over the world. And if we’re still reliant on oil for production by that distant point in the future when it does run out, we’ll have a lot more than a dip in tax revenue to worry about. We probably won’t be able to breathe.

The rest of it, if I’m honest, is just a result of a lack-of-faith in Scotland’s negotiating position after a Yes vote. Some of us believe we’ll be in a winning position, especially over currency. Oil is one of the securities that props up Sterling, so denying us the pound (which is as much ours as it is theirs) would be madness. If they don’t want a currency union. So be it. We’ll use the pound anyway.

Regarding more devolution, I’m disappointed that she’s chosen to forget what happened in 1979 when we were promised more powers. We got nothing, just 18 years of the Tories and the destruction of the central-belt of Scotland, including my own hometown. “I doubt whether we will ever have been more popular, or in a better position to dictate terms, than if we vote to stay.” -uhuh – well I doubt that very much. But maybe that’s the difference between us Yes voters and millionaire no-voters, we’ve got less to lose.

The killer line for me is this: “if we vote to stay, we will be in the heady position of the spouse who looked like walking out, but decided to give things one last go.”

Wow, “one last go”. I hope she realises that this is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Scotland to regain its independence. It’s not going to come back every 10 years, Westminster will make sure of that. So that “one last go” could see Scotland going to its grave thinking “what if?”

I hope that in this case, the spouse does the walking away and makes a go of it. With pride, with a bit of backbone, with their head held high and with total faith in their own ability.

Otherwise we’ll spend the rest of our days as an international laughing stock, as the “wee” country that was too feart to step out into the world.

I don’t want pitying glances from the rest of the world. I want Scotland to be normal.

So vote Yes.

And buy The Mile, my first spare million will go direct to Yes Scotland. 😉