Saturday, 9 September 2017

Inner City - Free Ebook

I'm really trying to push my first book, Inner City. It's featured at the moment on Many Books - Manybooks.net




I'm trying various promotional sites. Many Books cost me $29 to list it to their mailing list for a week. On the first day, September 9, I had 20 downloads. It doesn't sound like a lot, but getting anyone to download a book these days is hard work. I also like my Author listing on their site - I hate photos of myself, but a cute puppy on your lap always helps.


Books Butterfly was my previous promotion and they charged $80 for a guaranteed 1000 downloads. During their promotion and now some weeks later, I had 2 downloads, although one I am pretty sure came before their promotional period.

The people at Books Butterfly were very nice and responded to emails promptly, they said many free books have a long lag when recording books and claimed KOBO was notoriously bad in reporting their downloads of free e-books. I can imagine updating free book downloads isn't high on their priorities, but it feels like an excuse.

Inner City has downloaded 4200 times since I listed it - although this latest draft is a year's work to improve and proof the manuscript as best as I can.

The other really clear issue is the book is listed and published at Smashwords and not Kindle. Almost all the promotional sites work with Kindle and it's hard to find those who list Smashwords links. Inner City is listed at Kindle, but at the price of 89 cents - in Australia $1.03 - I think. This is because Kindle doesn't seem to allow a free book. It allows you to promote a book for free across a promotional period - and this only if you are enrolled in the KDP select program that makes it Kindle exclusive.

I am still debating whether to do this or not, as both Smashwords and Kindle are easy to use and publish, but there are reports of the exclusivity of Kindle drastically reducing any author percentage and once you sign, you sign to be exclusive, so I want to exhaust my experiment with Smashwords first.

The plan is to keep Inner City free until October 31st. The Kindle or Smashwords conundrum will be answered by how many downloads it gets once it's at a price.

Of course, you can also download the book at:
Barnes & Noble Nooks Books 
Kobo
iTunes Books

Here are the links to reviews so far:
Goodreads
Barnes and Noble
Amazon

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Australia's Same Sex Marriage Plebiscite - The Straw Man Cometh


Australia is about to have a postal plebiscite to vote on same sex marriage. Woo-hoo! With opinion polls continually returning approval of the change in the 70% range - it sounds like it's going to be a huge gay party. (Everyone knows they're the best type.)


But not so fast. The plebiscite will cost over one hundred million dollars - money the government could save by simply passing a law. The vote would be nonbinding, not compulsory and would allow the conservative government to vote it down even if the vote from the plebiscite overwhelmingly supported changing the marriage act.


The opposition to the vote warns such a vote gives conservative groups the opportunity to legitimise, promote and publicise damaging, hateful and erroneous views towards the LGBTQ community in the name of campaigning for a no vote.

And this fear is now being realised.


It's ironic that those who are clearly no friend of Dorothy, rely on all her friends to argue against things they don't like or understand.

They clearly don't have a heart, given they want to stop people in love from declaring their relationship in a formal way, equal to all others.


They don't have a brain, given they keep confusing marriage between a loving couple with polygamy, bestiality and the ability to have and raise children.


And they don't have the courage to stand up and declare they have an issue with anyone under the LGBTQ banner having equal rights, and those reasons are, largely, that they don't like, understand or consider them equal.


We should all become more aware of the straw man arguments continually rolled out for debate on emotive issues and call these arguments out for what they are. Cut the debate short by declaring an argument is not on topic.

The definition of the straw man argument is to give the impression of refuting an opponent's argument while refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent.

For instance - Gay marriage has nothing to do with having or raising children. They are two separate issues. Gay people can already have children in Australia. This is a legal right and can be achieved by many different means. Whether they are married or not has no bearing.

The reason gay parenting has been raised by the pro same sex marriage advocates is that these kids shouldn't be told by the anti lobby groups their parents are less able to raise children, or less worthy or that the children themselves are at a disadvantage.

The Australian Christian Lobby argues this case hard - but never once wraps that argument around the millions of single parents who are in the same exact situation as not having both a male and female parent present. Again, be honest if you are going to argue a case. This argument, by the inclusion of single parents, is quickly reduced to a nasty, emotive, manipulative straw man argument that is not on the topic of should same sex marriage be legalised.


If it wasn't a straw man argument and therefore null and void, you could argue that marriage between a gay couple provides the child or children with a better level of stability, security and legal surety, making it harder for a parent to leave the relationship. You could - but that would also be an adjunct to a straw man argument - so I won't.

Similarly, arguments like the wonderful, inclusive, loving Christian Arch Bishop who is up in arms because a change to the law may force him to teach same sex marriage in schools or other religious based organisations. Straw man argument - go away. This is a curriculum issue. If you want to teach your students about a world that doesn't exist, go ahead. The hard right conservatives are always looking for new members and the bright kids will see what's going on through things called windows. Christian schools do have windows, right?

Similarly, as I've argued in a blog post before, Here, if you feel your religious freedoms are being usurped by people next door doing things you don't like, don't include them/us. Just make sure you have the courage of your convictions and make this known. I would suggest a door sign that reads: "We do not support or welcome GLBTQ marriage in this church congregation."

I'd be far more assured about religion if all religious based programs were happy to lead by example instead of asking people to follow their words and not their deeds. Just like a plebiscite - the people of this ever changing, and I'm optimistic enough to believe, forward thinking nation, will vote with their feet on knowing your views.

Tradition is another good argument. Except that traditionally women weren't seen as equal, and are, as a result, still catching up in terms of representation at executive levels, equal pay and in Parliament. Also, Aboriginals were classed as part of Australia's flora and fauna until 1967 - so who isn't proud of tradition? Why should we ever change anything?

Come on - it's a pro gay blog - it must include a musical!

Tony Abbott, Australia's former Prime Minister and Alt-Right poster boy, has raised the idea that a 'No' vote is a vote against political correctness. That argument certainly is.

This is another classic straw man argument wheeled out by a man who is very smart, (A Rhodes Scholar no less), but not at all clever. This is a Trump supporter's view of the world. Abbott is one of the down trodden, privileged white citizens being oppressed by the world forcing him to accept others as equal. Equality for others is not oppression. Equality for others often does mean the privileged get less of the pie - but not less than an equal share. It's hard to argue in any way against equality. Those who do don't seem to understand what the word means.


It lessens the sanctity of marriage is another argument. Maybe some people do feel this. That's so sad. That you would love your wife or husband less because Tony and Guy from next door got married. Or you feel your marriage is less binding because Penny and Jude tied the knot. That feels a little like an excuse to get out of your own marriage to me - maybe you and your significant other should talk and not try to argue that your marriage is suddenly less binding because of what's going on with your neighbours.

Gay marriage is a form of gay privilege, is another argument getting a good work out. Ricky? Any thoughts?


As the arguments flow they get increasingly more desperate and disparate. More straw man and not the type of straw man who was a friend of Dorothy, a man looking to change and better himself.

This vote - if it turns out to be a legitimate vote - is about letting all couples in love marry. Period. (Thank you for that Spicey)


Let's call out the emotional rhetoric, the straw man arguments and any other arguments that are not based solely on that single question.

And once again I call out homophobia for what it is. It's fine not to like us - and I get not to like what you don't understand. It's hard to empathise with something that you have no connection to or understanding of. I genuinely don't have an issue with that or with you for feeling that way. What I do have an issue with is you dressing your lack of empathy and understanding up in different clothes and arguing on a range of emotive issues, designed to shield you from being honest about how you feel towards the GLBTQ community. If you don't like us and don't see us as equals - own it.

Don't use straw man arguments to hide your true motives - to stop people you don't consider equal from gaining equality.









Monday, 24 July 2017

Vote for Moonman

Moonman is now live as part of the @Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA)’s #SocialShorts competition! 

The Comedy category is only live for one week, so head to www.socialshorts.com.au http://www.socialshorts.com.au/ to view and vote for Moonman. 

Voting enters you into the draw to win tickets to the 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel!




Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Light

He celebrated youth, his eyes bright, holding a lifetime of possibilities. He stood on the doorstep of the old building, his hand hovering at his future - to knock or walk away.


Summoning his courage, managing to keep his excitement in check, he knocked on the door. It must have felt like jumping off a cliff as adrenaline pulsed through him, the opportunity to back out vanishing.

I opened the door, greeting him, the same adrenaline finding me. He was the first person I’d dated since the call I’d taken, abruptly ending my thirteen-year relationship. Greeting this boy was one more step out of a funk that began with a mantra of self-abuse for letting someone I loved slip away. The young man’s age meant I was expecting this to go only one way. That’s what I was looking for; something exciting, something liberating; something disposable. He didn’t care I was older. At nineteen he was half my age. We shared enough in our backgrounds to make the age gap less ridiculous, but I wasn’t kidding myself about what this was.

His name was Alexander, but he called himself Sasha. It was the familiar name given to him by his family and friends. He was charming, well spoken even in his second language and from a wealthy, privileged world of expectations and demands that I knew only too well. He was heading to the train station, en route to Berlin, to study engineering. His parents were paying for the course and covering his living expenses. Nothing was too much for their beloved first son; except their time.

I knew this part of his story. In a privileged world time is a rare commodity. I understood how debilitating that lack of interest could be. The benefit was freedom and independence; the disadvantage - a stranded self-confidence. It took a force of pent-up sexual desire to overcome and bring this young man to my door. It was why he’d shown up, or at least part of it. The other piece of the jigsaw was selecting a foreigner with no possible connection to anyone in his world. That meant no possibility of being outed before he was ready.

The freedom he enjoyed from his parent’s lack of supervision allowed him to alter his travel plans by a weekend and find the perfect accomplice. I was lucky enough to be the person he chose. A nineteen-year-old, arriving at my door like room service, with plans to spend the weekend, before heading to a university, a thousand miles away. He had no plans to return before my contract would end and by then, I’d be half a world away. It was the perfect formula for a one night stand.

My apartment was old and ornate. It sat within the forgotten ghetto that cast a shadow over the city. The small portion of preserved ghetto wall, with it’s even smaller memorial plaque, along with the bagel sellers on every street corner, screamed the ghosts of a dark past discreetly ignored by most. It was a city that prided itself on looking forward, not back. That made it the perfect place for Sasha to vanish for a weekend.


He arrived with his provisions for his new life, worn on his back in a pack that towered over him and made each step unsteady. He unclipped and leveraged the heavy backpack to the floor in my front hall. We sat in the small galley kitchen trading small talk.

I didn’t know the etiquette of the online hook-up back then. It was early in the millennium, the diplomacy of the left swipe was still years away. In time I would learn, on welcoming strangers for sex, small talk was entirely unnecessary, but here and now, it seemed the least we should do before taking things further.

We did take it further. We began in the bedroom before visiting almost every room in the house over the next three days. Sasha transformed from a shy timid young man to one who thought nothing of walking around the house naked, as if he belonged. He stayed like that, on display, for almost all of his time with me, enjoying his new found freedom. He only dressed when we went out; the first time being when we ran out of alcohol. The two of us wandered down to the nearby market, through the late October snow that transformed the city and made any trip outside an extraordinary adventure. Sasha found my awe at the squeaking snow amusing. We swapped stories about childhood that brought us closer.

We bought a chicken, beer and some rather sad looking vegetables from a shop-assistant who assured us they would taste better than they looked. It wasn’t the season for healthy eating, and this wasn’t a city offering spring vegetables out of season in any but the wealthiest suburbs. My suburb seemed lost in time, lurching to catch up to a modern world, but not quite able.

Back home I roasted the chicken with potatoes and carrots. We drank and ate and slept together until we wanted nothing but sleep. We continued like this for two more days, without any real care for anyone or anything happening outside the apartment.

On the third day, Sasha told me he wanted to take me somewhere special, to share something of the local customs. I was curious and let him lead.

We jumped in a taxi and arrived at a cemetery, crowded with people, sombre as they passed between the stones and mausoleums. They placed lit candles on the graves of family members, friends, or on stones of the great names of the city, now all resting together as equals.

It was All Saints Eve. It seemed the whole city had come to pay their respects. The brightest graves were the soldiers and citizens who fell during the uprising against the Nazis and were now forever honoured in this place on this night.

The whole cemetery flickered and shone brightly from a sea of candles. Even long forgotten names received a good share of flames, the passers-by unwilling to leave any soul in darkness.

We walked in silence, part of the orderly progression, filing by gravestones, reading the names and dates. It was particularly moving, considering I was a stranger, but there is something universal in the dead being respectfully honoured. It’s a tip of the hat through time to those who delivered us and gave us what we have, and never more poignant than in this city, in this cemetery.


That night was to be my last with Sasha. With fresh supplies of alcohol and a feeling of goodwill from our All Saints evening, we filled up the large bath, lit our candles and balanced the ledger for our earlier religious respect.

In the morning we shared a cooked breakfast, then a hug and Sasha, with his heavy pack, still balanced precariously on his shoulders, headed out my front door and away, towards the train station and a life filled with a thousand challenges.

I came back inside and felt quite contented. As far as random hook-ups go it was a great success; a no-strings, fleeting but enjoyable weekend with a young man I would always remember.

The next weeks rolled by without being noticed. I was working for a large company who brought me in to guide a large job. I forgot about Sasha and the time we’d spent together, as the days and weeks brought me new people and places to fill my time.

At Christmas, I had a few days off. With no family around and a flight home offering more time in the air than on the ground, I was looking forward to being a hermit and binge watching whatever I could find to watch.

There was a knock at the door. I was surprised. I didn’t know anyone, so I assumed it was a neighbour or a salesperson. I opened the door to Sasha who threw his arms around my neck and hugged me close. He had the same backpack strapped to him, although this time it was hardly holding anything, and a plastic bag clutched tight in hand. He smiled wide on seeing me and kissed me passionately.
“Surprise!”  

As he enjoyed my astonished look, he explained he’d told his parents he wanted to stay over Christmas in his university dorm room to study. He’d then jumped a train to come and see me and not them. He failed to notice my concern and sauntered in to take over the house with the casual ease of belonging that he’d adopted when we were last together.

He handed me the plastic bag he’d been clutching so tightly. It was a present. I opened the bag and found a stunning desk lamp. It was hand crafted in steel and chrome, with a light that looked like a car headlight from the 1920’s, held in place by railroad tracks of dual metal straps on either side, which gently sloped in an art-deco design to metal plates that formed a layered shield effect as a base. It was heavy and looked extraordinarily expensive. Sasha beamed a smile. He knew I was a writer and he wanted something to remind me of him, while I was sitting at my desk working. I thanked him as my stomach pounded a panicked beat, searching to send an alert to my conscience. This kid was in love, and I wasn’t.

My conscience heard the distant drums and ignored them as we hit the bed and picked up where we’d left off. The next morning, after more sex, I become a little more distant. Sasha didn’t notice. I tried to encourage him to go home and visit his parents – he didn’t want to leave my house. I tried to suggest he should go back to Berlin early, as I had so much work to get done. He paraded naked and suggested we re-visit the lounge chair with the wide and sturdy armrests. My work, and attempts to drive him away, could wait.

Another day and Sasha noticed my mood becoming icy. He wanted to talk. I could tell he was upset. I told him it was a mistake for him to come without telling me. It crushed him. He looked like a lost puppy. I felt awful, but I told myself it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t the first person he’d been with, but I suspect I may have been the first person he’d been with he could identify.

Coming out is an extraordinary journey, littered with a huge number of men hiding from everyone, including themselves, and seeking totally anonymous sex with other men. It’s a sad world of shadows and secrets, and when you finally find someone who stands out in the open, it’s so easy to project every hope you’ve ever had onto them. For me, Sasha’s infatuation was flattering. I felt younger than I had in years and it would have been so easy to go with it, leading him on, knowing full well we had no future.

He was a good looking nineteen-year-old at the very beginning of his university experience. Only a complete arsehole would have him miss any of that on a false promise, driven by middle-aged vanity.

It took three days to wear him down. He kept finding excuses for my attitude, hoping it would change. At one stage he begged me to cut his hair with my hair trimmer, and I’m sure it was only to have my attention focused on him for a moment more. The hair cut was lousy, but he smiled, thanked me and said he loved it.

He left my house earlier than planned. He’d finally accepted my harsh, cold message. The All Saints weekend was a moment in time he couldn’t get back. I wasn’t to be the love of his life and whatever he’d projected onto those few days had been too much too soon.

I watched him dejectedly trudge down the snow cleared footpaths on his way to the taxi rank that would deliver him back to the station. A few weeks later I moved to a modern apartment on the very edge of the reclaimed ghetto border. I never heard from Sasha again. I hope he didn’t turn up to that old apartment looking for me, but I will never know.


I stayed in that remarkable city for another year, until my contract ended. When it came time to leave I gave the few personal possessions I’d added to my apartment to a close friend: my desk and chair, my bike and Sasha’s light. That beautiful, expensive, perfect lamp, that sat on my desk for my time there. Some nights I would stare at it and hate myself a little for what it reminded me of, of how I’d treated Sasha. Some nights I’d let it serve a fond recollection of that first, perfect long weekend we’d spent together.

I told my friend to take it, that it was too heavy for me to travel with, and in a way, it was. It could never serve as a light for me to work; it was the light of a broken heart.

Sometimes, even now, I think of Sasha, of where he might be, of what he’s done with his life? Did he find someone he could trust and fall in love? I’m sure he did, and maybe, just maybe he’s travelled far enough from that All Souls Eve to understand why two visits could be so very different – and why I still see the light from that lamp.    



Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Free Children's Book

I wrote and illustrated this for my Nephew, Charlie, who is five and a half.
If you have an early reader in your life, feel free to share this with them.
Read, discuss and enjoy.

πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ


The Rhyming Alphabet.

An A to Z of silly rhymes.

Aa  Bb  Cc  Dd  Ee  Ff

Gg  Hh  Ii  Jj  Kk  Ll

Mm  Nn  Oo  Pp

Qq  Rr  Ss Tt

Uu  Vv Ww 

Xx Yy

Zz  



This incredibly silly set of rhymes is dedicated, with love, to Charlie Taylor, from his Uncle Scott – who wrote the rhymes and pleads guilty to all of the very bad illustrations.
18th May 2017



Aa

 An angry Ant allowed an Ape to open all his mail.
A late account,” the Ape announced and angry Ant exhaled.

 
Always angry Ant had been to class to calm his mood,
But let an Ape keep your accounts – you’re likely to be sued.


Bb

By a babbling brook, a Beaver blocked the flow with beams.
Before too long a bottleneck had joined up all the streams.


  Because he had a sailboat, Mr Beaver climbed aboard.
  Could he have swum? Of course, he could, but sailing he adored.


Cc

Cats are cute and cuddly clean; they lick themselves all day,
  Could they taste of cup-cakes, their coat a sweet entrΓ©e?

     Can a cat crave control and cease his licky-lick?
    Does the spittle on its fur help flees and flies to stick?


Dd

Darren was a Doberman, a dour and distant dog,
       Defeated by a Dingo in a race across a bog.


Darren didn’t let defeat deter his dashing dream,





Entering Olympics he won bronze on the high-beam.


Ee

Every event that Evan endured left him feeling blue,
Even experiences exciting him couldn’t end his flu.
Evan embraced his doctor’s advice to go and have a shot.
Fear gripped him as he walked on in, ‘cause the shot was in his bot.



Ff


Felix was a forest fox who foraged for a feast.
Ferreting out a ferret was fantastic fun to say the least.
Forgetting the farmer and foxhound would chase him for a hunt,
Getting away was a frivolous lark and a funny YouTube stunt.



Gg

 Georgie got a great big hole in her Granny’s garden gloves.
      Gaby cut the fingers off to grip the bike she loves.


Good guys give their garments away, granting them new again,
Have them stitched and mended up, or swap them now and then. 



Hh

Horace had a horrible hat his Nanna knit for him,
His first harsh howl on seeing it was, “Throw it in the bin”.
Having his Nanna on holiday, he knew would make her frown,
In order to spare her feelings, he burnt his whole house down.




Ii

Instead of a house, where there’s infinite snow, they invented an igloo of ice.
Inside, I imagine, they installed lots of fur, and insulation would be very nice.
Imagine if, with the snow all around, you lost your own front door.
Just like that, you’d be homeless again - an ice house would be quite a chore. 




Jj

Justin Jones jumped just enough to jerk his friend Jack’s jacket
Jack, from Japan, was not impressed and jagged Justin’s ear to whack it.
Jimmy jumped between the pair to plead for calm and justice,
Kapow they went, Justin and Jack, saying Jim’s a fool to trust us.


Kk

Karyn couldn’t understand how K and C were sounded,
Keep K hard, but C’s the same unless it’s soft and rounded.
K is for kite and kick and kilt, but C’s the same for Cupid.
Let’s all agree; it’s not that clear, in fact, it’s sometimes stupid.



Ll






Mm

Murtle the mosquito just loves the taste of blood.






Moonlit nights she makes the scene with her bizzy-bizz, buzz-buzz.

My what a nose, much like a hose, to milk blood from your vein.


Now here’s the trick - slap her – quick - and flick her down the drain.








Nn

Norton the Newt was nearly mute as he nosed around in nature,
Never afraid, nor a nervous trait, he was bold and brave in stature.
Night time would near, and he’d nest in his nook, the moonlight brightly beaming,
Others may think he’d be bored to the brink, but with Wi-Fi Norton’s been streaming.



Oo

Outrageous Otto the Orangutan opted to dye his hair blue.
Overcome with surprise, his parents cried, what on earth did you go and do?
Otto just smiled, as he stroked his blue hair, and combed some styling gel through.
Perhaps, he surmised, if I don’t blink my eyes, they won’t notice my brand new tattoo.



Pp

Plop, plink, plug, and some sounds like sludge, are words where the spelling is freer.
Particularly gross, P words are the most – can you say onomatopoeia?
Peculiar words that cannot be unheard, they sound like the thing they’re describing.


Quack from a duck, or Vroom from a truck, or A-choo when you’re perfectly hiding.



Qq

  Quiggly little Quoll had a boat with outboard motor,
  Quickly he would tear down river for a ride.
  Quiet wasn’t what he knew; he revved beyond his quota.
   Regretfully he now rides upon the tide.   




Rr

  Rueben Renshaw was a rat with rare good taste to spare.
  Renowned at retro galleries, he dressed with regal flare.










Refusing rates of any kind, he was a trust fund child,
 Some say that’s why he disappeared and why the fat cat smiled. 











Ss

 Sissy Snake succumbed through seasons to slither slow to see,
 Someone stole her glasses and snuck them up a tree.
 Suspects many said “No, no, I did not steal from snake,”
 Today she sees with flick of tongue and a wiggly little shake.




Tt

   Two tonne Tony tears the trees to tiny little pieces.
   Twenty men once tooled those trestles, until they lost their leases.
   Tony never takes a break or tours the staff canteen,
   Unless he needs some maintenance - for Tony’s a machine. 



Uu
 Under an Umbrella is unreal on rainy days,
 Unless you get unusually gusty wind.
 Uncontrollable is what becomes of umbrellas bent wrong ways,
 Very wet you’ll be until your brolly’s binned.


Vv


Virtual Virgil lived online in a world that was virtually real.
Vitally, Virgil didn’t know he was virtual; he thought his name full of appeal.
Viewing his world as totally real, Virgil asked questions the same,
When the power failed, and he disappeared, he discovered he lived in a game.


Ww

  Wesley was a Walker who walked the whole day through,
  Wanting an Olympic gold, he wore out each new shoe.
  When he wanted some new wares he’d walk a mile to buy,
  X-Ray goggles you would need, to see his quick feet fly.






Xx

X marks the spot for pirate Xav, which didn’t help him at all,
Xeriffs were buried, Xav didn’t know where, for the clues on his map were too small.
Xavier the Pirate was in a tight spot, until he decoded a sonnet,
Yippee,” he cried, as the words made more sense, revealing a spot with X on it. 



Yy

Yes is about the world’s very best word, it means you get your new thing;
Your treat; your ride; your present ticked, your tricked out mega bling.
Yet other words come that you’ll also hear, like no, not yet or never,
Zero chance is another, it means ten times no; no hope, I’m sorry - not ever.



Zz

Zak and Zara were both quite sad because their names came last,
Zeal for alphabetic lists they lost, as everyone zipped past.
Zebras also share this fate and Z words never trend,
Zo Zak and Zara started to cheat and make up Z words – Ze End.