Saturday, September 28, 2013

Relief Day

What began in 1998 with a hand-me-down 486 computer, reached another milestone today with the release of my third novel, Ashmore Grief. The book may have been released today but there is no release for me, and neither is there any relief.

The lead up to a book release is an anxious time. More than at any other stage during the process, from genesis of the idea to draft through to publication, the two weeks leading up to release day and the three or four weeks after, are the hardest. I fret. Will it sell? Will readers like it? How do I get more readers? Impatience for success boils within me. Will this be my breakthrough novel? Will I finally burst out of the forest of obscurity into the sun drenched clearing of recognition? I obsess. What else can I do to get noticed? Why don't people respond to e-mails or return my calls? Why did the local book store which hosted me for two previous book signings, have to close down a week before the release of Ashmore Grief? What else can I do to get noticed? Did I mention I get obsessive?

Soon, these intense and distracting feelings will pass but not longer after that I will begin the process all over again. I have been asked why I set myself up for such disappointment and frustration. Some people wonder why I bother, why I put myself through torment. If you are asking that question, I don't think you will understand the answer. On the other hand, some of you will know exactly what I am talking about it, and appreciate precisely how I feel.

Ashmore grief is an entertaining novel: dramatic and confronting, with a sprinkling of wry humour, and an important message to convey. I will be donating 50% of my royalties to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Your purchase will support two good causes. Thank you for reading.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre is Australia’s leading asylum seeker organisation. We are a multi-award winning, independent and non-federal government funded human rights organisation. We work at the coalface assisting some of the most disadvantaged people in our community.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Dead Guinea Pig on the Tiles

My week began poorly when my team was knocked out of the play-offs. We were at the game to see the mighty Bulldogs, bark and growl for the first twenty minutes of the game without putting enough points on the board, before tucking their tails between their legs and whimpering and yelping to defeat. Season over.

We have been babysitting our neighbor's guinea pig, Blaster. It had been enjoying many weeks of luxurious holiday making in palatial accommodation next door to my daughter's equally pampered rabbit, Kiki. Then it croaked. Was it sick? Was it old? Did we do something wrong?These are the questions we were left to ponder in our grief.

Guinea pig poop...Good compost?  or just poop??  :)Click To Enlarge

My son graduated from high school during the week. It was a proud moment, a milestone. As a high school drop out, I appreciated the fact that he had not only showed no signs of dropping out but actually lifted his intensity and sharpened his focus this year. On the eve of the HSC exams, he has already begun applying to various universities. I'm sure he'll do well.

The downstairs living room floor has been adorned with bare concrete for many years. Ever since flooding ruined the carpet, we have battled to stem the flow of water during heavy rains and dreamed of re covering the floor. Yesterday, it happened. Big smiles all round. I've just got to put the skirting board back on.


What do these events have in common? What deep insights have I gained as I reflect upon them? Nothing and none. It's just a slice of my life and I wanted to share it with you.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Murder of Crows

After many successful years as a criminal defense attorney, Lawrence Russell finally succumbs to his own conscience and verbally attacks one of his own clients in court. As a result, the defendant is found guilty and Lawrence is disbarred.

A-murder-of-crows-dvd-cover.jpgHappy to now be free of the burden of defending people whom he knows are guilty and unrepentant, Lawrence sets about making a new life for himself. He decides to write a book but can't get started so he spends his days drinking and dreaming instead. One day he meets a man who gives him a manuscript about a man who murders five defense lawyers, and asks him to read it over and give an opinion. When the man dies suddenly, Lawrence makes the fateful decision to put his own name on the novel and submit it for publication. A Murder of Crows is a huge success. However, it also turns out to be a true story and as the "author", Lawrence becomes the prime suspect for the murders.

Lawrence Russell did the right thing in obeying his conscience to quit as a defense attorney, but when the rewards he hoped for, like success as a writer, did not materialize  he disobeyed his conscience by putting his name to a manuscript which he did not write. The consequences of his decision were life threatening.

Lesson 1: the rewards for doing the right thing are not always immediate or obvious. Lesson 2: Making a decision for good at one time in your life does not make it any less likely that you won't make a bad decision at another time.

When have you learned the truth of lessons 1 & 2?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Spilt Milk

There will be many people like myself, waking up this morning in Australia, feeling a little sad. Unsurprisingly, it was only about four hours after the polling booths closed and the vote count started, that  Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd officially conceded defeat, on behalf of the Australian Labour Party.

Later this week, our new Prime Minister will be sworn in by the Governor-General, and those of us who are disappointed by the election result and unimpressed by the man who will lead this great country for the next three years, will just have to learn to live with it. Australia has decided. The government has changed. How much Australia will change as a result of the resounding election victory by the Liberal/National Party coalition remains uncertain. I have grave concerns. I have read some very alarming pieces of information put out by Coalition opponents with respect to the aggressive, and I would add regressive, policy agenda of the incoming government. I'm hoping they are exaggerations, but I must admit to honestly being a little worried about the future.

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister elect, waged a relentless 5 year campaign. He offered nothing positive because he and his team were hell bent on completely discrediting the government. They did a good job. They convinced enough people that the Labour government was a failure, despite the facts. With the support of Australia's largest media network, who rabidly attacked and ridiculed the Prime Minister from the beginning of the campaign until the end, the Coalition won office with a collection of uninspired and inferior policies.

When I opened the fridge door this morning I found a lot of milk where it should not have been. Someone had failed to tighten the cap on the bottle and laid it down on a shelf. Milk spilled from the middle shelf to the bottom shelf, forming a white lake with little islands of cheese, ham and creme caramel. I cleaned it up, and was struck by the poignancy of the moment. What a timely metaphor.

Australia has a new Prime Minister: a man I don't like, who doesn't inspire me, and with whose policies I do not agree, but there's no use crying over spilt milk. Life goes on. We'll probably be all right.

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