Some years ago, I lived in a house with a passive-aggressive electronic doorbell. Not only would it ring when someone pressed the button next door, it would also reprogram itself. No matter whether you selected a classic bing-bong or something more reminiscent of Big Ben in a jolly mood, what you got, sooner or later, was Oh, Susanna. Which would insist on playing right to the very end, regardless of how soon you had opened the door, thus inhibiting conversation with the unsuspecting perpetrator.
Not surprisingly, this (and the other ills which electronics are heir to) rather soured me on electronic doorbells. Instead, I yearned for a classic old-fashioned mechanical doorbell, such as had resided on the door of our previous residence. This yearning only grew when we moved to our present home and discovered that you could still see the marks on the door where such a mechanical doorbell had previously been.
It’s not quite as old-fashioned as the bell-with-chain arrangement, but it is simple and nifty nonetheless. The button (on outside of door in accordance with time-honoured custom) is pressed, pushing a long thin rod through a long thin hole in the door, pushing in turn a piece of mechanism which does what mechanisms do and results in vigorous yet microscopic acts of violence against the outer covering of the workings, which is also – ta da! – the bell.
Unlike the electronic bell of evil memory, there is no way to set it off from next door, nor can it play Oh, Susanna. (If it ever tries, it will be bell, book, and candle time.) Nor can the batteries go flat, nor any other ‘tronicky problem assail it. The only issue I’ve ever seen with one was simply solved by unscrewing the cover/bell, spraying the revealed workings with WD40, and replacing the bell. Simplicity itself.
So you can imagine my delight when we were able to obtain one of these fine objects gratis from a building condemned to be demolished. (Please note: all legal and above board.) And you can imagine my consternation when I discovered that one of the pieces was missing: viz, the button.
Without which, as you may imagine, the doorbell was significantly less useful. One can hardly ask visitors to impale their finger on a long thin metal rod to draw attention to themselves.
Many developments and efforts followed, which I will not weary you with, but suffice it to say that we had hopes of another button from the same condemned building. And then one morning we rose and drew the curtains and observed a large machine being manoeuvred into position, the sort of machine that eats buildings for breakfast and appears to be growing quite fat upon them.
The implications were clear. The building in question would shortly be no more than machine-munchings, and our dreamed-of doorbell button with it. I found myself faced with an unpleasant choice: give up on the button, or go out in the rain to accost a complete stranger and ask them to do me a last-minute favour.
To my surprise, I went. Feeling faintly nauseous, but I went. Skirting the monstrous machine and its attendant minions, I accosted the first on-site person I saw not attending to the muncher, explained the situation, and to my further surprise was shortly striding home for my breakfast with a doorbell button in my hot little hand.
So it seems that although not every path leads to an open door, it’s worth stepping out (even in the rain) to try your luck. On which note, I saw a mention from someone whose blog I follow (and now I am not even sure who it was) that such a thing as the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off exists.
So I kept my eye out for the announcement of this year’s registration opening, and was fortunate enough to see it soon enough that I nipped in fast enough to secure The Wound of Words a spot in the list of 300 for SPFBO6.
How it works, for those who are interested, is that ten review sites are each given 30 books to read. They have five months to read their batch (most sites have a team of judges) and agree on one of their 30 to put forward to the final. All ten sites then read all ten finalists and agree on a winner (which they have six months to do). All ten sites review at least their favourite of their 30, their favourite of the 10 finalists (if not the same book) and the eventual winner (ditto).
All in all, it’s an excellent thing for all concerned. Self-published fantasy authors – excluded from many competitions for being self-published – get a chance to raise their profile (and that of their book) without having to fork out money they may not have for the chance. Readers get a smorgasbord of fantasy brought to their attention, with the judges providing some commentary to help them find the books that might well suit their taste. (Kudos to Mark Lawrence for thinking of it.)
What the harvest shall be is not yet known, as SPFBO6 is less than a month old, but the signs so far are promising, if what I see on Goodreads is anything to go by.
So there you are. Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and a doorbell button shall be given unto you.