Category Archives: Blog

In Loving Memory of Rose Ryder (1930–2019)

Nan in the late 1980s. There I am on the right!
Nan in the late 1980s. There I am on the right!

My Nan died yesterday… I’m not sure how to feel.

It’s been coming for a while; years in fact, and in some ways it feels like a relief. She didn’t really do much in later life, and quietly lived out her final years in a tall, musty house in Ramsgate, Kent.

Yet despite her solitude, she remained ever-present in our lives, a woman who could be relied on to be stubborn and unbending in matters of elderly respectability and social pride. Despite her setbacks, she quietly soldiered on, pottering about, living one day to another with barely a shrug or complaint.

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Self-publishing and the challenge of ‘marketing yourself’

One of the hardest things about writing is that it inevitably leads you to bare some small part of your soul to the world. This is particularly true of fiction as the world you create is wholly your own. If someone doesn’t like your characters, then they don’t like the characters you created. Similarly, if they have a problem with the politics, or the themes of your work, then again, they have a problem with your politics, and your themes. This is quite different from other types of writing where more often than not you will be working to a set of guidelines that may constrain your work, for in this case, the work you produce is all down to you, and there is simply no place to hide.

This challenge becomes even more difficult when it comes to self-publishing. Unlike regular publishing, where you might have an editor and production team working with you to oversee the process, when it comes to self-publishing, the power is wholly in your hands. This can be a remarkably liberating step, and certainly has a number of advantages; however, it can also pose great challenges when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. On the one hand, naturally, you want to sell your work, and put it out there, but at the same time, there is a sense that absolutely everything to do rests on your shoulders, and if someone doesn’t like it, then it’s completely down to you.

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MJRyder.net – 10 years on

It’s my birthday today, and to celebrate, I thought I’d post a blog about this very website, MJRyder.net, which turned 10 earlier this year. I can’t believe that a whole decade has passed since I started the project, and it’s certainly had its highs and lows, however, I’m glad to say it’s going as strong as ever, and I’m really happy with the way it’s been taking shape. Here’s to another 10 years!

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Ethics, killing, and the Moral Machine

Just over a year ago now, I published the results of a small survey I shared with my followers on Facebook. The idea was to test a few theories I had been working on around ethics and the relative value we assign different forms of life. In this case, I was specifically interested in how we think about animal life, and how we respond to different species when it comes to decisions around life and death.

Even though my survey was relatively small, the results were quite remarkable, and show a clear trend in responses that favour saving larger and more ‘noble’ animals, over smaller, ‘less intelligent’ animals that may be perceived to be in some way less worthy. While a utilitarian perspective should in theory show that the save/kill decisions made by respondents should be weighted equally across five different species of farmyard animal (each life is, after all, of equal ‘value’), respondents very clearly favoured saving a single horse over a single chicken. This trend continued when participants were asked to choose between saving a single horse or five chickens, with many respondents still opting to save the horse, while many respondents would much prefer to kill five chickens, instead of a single horse.

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