Paul’s Blog

ANZAC Day: We Remember the Sacrifices made.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

ANZAC Day is placed on the first day of possibly the greatest military boondoggle and fuck up of all times: The Gallipoli Campaign. On the 25th of April, 1915, a half-bungled landing, with barely a troopship getting the troops to the locations they were supposed to be, started the campaign.

It went downhill from there. In fact, the only truly successful part of the campaign was the withdrawal, that was performed with an efficiency and a near-zero casualty count that occurred at no other point in the campaign.

It resonated with a sense of Australianness that Austrailia Day will never achieve.

In many respects it is similar to the US Veteran’s Day – But in Australia, it signifies something more as well. It also has an undertone, though grim, of our Nation coming of age. Standing up amongst other nations. Almost like if you added Veteran’s Day to Independence Day and roll it into one in many ways

For me, after studying history for 20 years with a significant focus on Military History, it is a day to remember all the fallen. In some ways, it has become a day that holds a significant centrality to my thoughts along with Remembrance Day.

The Poem that has come to signify this, for me, speaks of any soldier fallen in any war. It is called For The Fallen, by Robert Laurence Binyon.

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children
England mourns for her dead across the sea,
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow,
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again,
They sit no more at familiar tables of home,
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime,
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires and hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the night.

As the stars shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

It is a day for remembering a history that we should reflect on at the very least, if not be proud of. It is a day when people of all the ideologies, all the nationalities that have made up the melting pot Australian, should stop, just pause from the regular life, and take the time to think about the notion of sacrifice.

Word of warning for those who just wish to reflect on the day: STOP HERE, RANT INCOMING!

Now we get to the meat of the post. There is something I hear with increasing regularity which has gone from causing me a mild annoyance to downright anger over the years.

“ANZAC Day is about glorifying war.”

It is nothing of the sort. It is about respect. Respect for those among us who served, and their comrades who are no longer with us.

Most of all it is about respecting the sacrifices willingly made in time of war by so many soldiers.

The Second criticism that really gets me is

“Australian soldiers were not exceptional and should not be portrayed as such.”

The problem with this one is that it is not backed up by the historical record – There are commentaries from both sides in both wars praising the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp. Their courage, skill and stubborn defiance in World War One is so clear on the record that the Turkish government treats Anzac Cove with immense respect. The respect they give it is just short of the respect given to a Holy Site. It is a matter of record how much they were respected in communications.

In World War Two they were involved in the Tobrok and Kokoda Campaigns, most significantly. On both sides of the world, the Australian force was massively outnumbered. Yet at Tobrok they stopped Rommel and the German forces cold. In Kokoda they stopped the Japanese Army cold.

These were both Exceptional achievements.

But my biggest problem with this criticism is it entirely misses the point of the day – to think back on the sacrifices made by all in wartime, but particularly by the soldiers. Many of them were hardly more than kids, but they fought with a gallantry, courage, and honor that is fast fading from the modern world.

That is another thing that is important to reflect on.

The final criticism I have – They always make these comments on the day before or the day itself.

For the Gods sake couldn’t they wait til after and let us reflect on this in peace? Apparently not. The most insulting arguments I’ve heard is ‘it is only appropriate for us to criticize Anzac Day on Anzac Day.’ This is one of the biggest fallacies I can hear, to be honest. Criticizing it, especially two or more days afterwards, would at least show respect for the people who respect the day.

Criticizing the day on April 25th is not only disrespectful to the people who respect the day, but to what it signifies for them.

But that’s a problem with the world today, isn’t it? If they criticized it two or three days later, their criticisms would get nowhere near the publicity.

Rather than try and respect others and what they find significant, people would rather get extra exposure than risk showing someone some respect. Publicity is all that matters to them.

This is what’s causing the disintegration of societies. It is no longer acceptable to show respect for the people with differing opinions to you. Instead, it is acceptable to condemn them, and if condemning them on a particular day, no matter how disrespectful that would be, would get you extra publicity? Fuck the disrespect, go for the publicity, is the opinion of too many.

They forget that this is a day for people who sacrifice things so others would not have to. They risk their lives, risk physical injury, risk serious mental harm. They risk their life long mental well-being and their lives. They did in all past wars and still do today. It is their day. That certain people cannot resist the temptation to disrespect those sacrifices is an extreme disappointment. Am I emulating them? I feel not. I feel I am fighting for their right to be respected.

I seriously consider delaying this post, or at least the second half of it. However, my reflection on the day has already been destroyed by those who have openly disrespected it. So I came to a compromise, one that I added with no little amusement. I placed a trigger warning for those who simply wanted the day to be one of reflection. The irony of placing a trigger warning as a radical centrist does not escape me. It is not something I would normally do in any circumstances. The circumstances of Anzac Day, what it means to so many, and what it should mean to so many more, are hardly normal.

Also, Clubs advertising ANZAC parties and sporting fixtures on ANZAC day that pump up the ticket prices? These should be banned. As in the people who try to profit off a day built on remembrance and respect? Make a buck of the sacrifices of others, sacrifices that they obviously cannot comprehend? Lock up those responsible and fine them into poverty. This is probably worse than the three above point in some ways, although most of the sporting events try to show respect and some don’t increase the standard ticket price. IF they respect the day, and price it like any other I have fewer issues with it. I still have qualms over the tendency of comparisons between the players, who are richly paid, and the sacrifices of the soldier, who is poorly paid and, since the 70s, demonized by parts of society. There is no comparison. The simplest way to fix the problem is to simply ban special Anzac Day promotional events, be they sport or buisness.

Perhaps now I’ve gotten some of the anger out of my system, I can return to a day of reflection myself.

Paul C. Middleton.

Midnight Magic release

The Midnight Magic Anthology is coming out on the 25th of April and is now up for pre-order. Below is a snippet from my title in the anthology ‘Pack, What Pack, Were?’

Pack, What Pack, Were?


I walked to the nearby stream, carefully leaving a trail of human footprints. I started shivering as the crystal clear, but icy cold, water went to my knees. Then I started shifting. It was neither is pleasurable as the second shift had been nor as painful as the first. In a lot of ways, it just
was. I mean it was just a part of me, of who I was.

It’s hard to describe what the world is like through a wolf’s eyes compared to humans. Some colors are more intense, others are duller. You’ve got an overlay of wafting scent colors. All the smells around you subtly add an almost misty overlay to what you see. Gods this is frustrating. It’s like trying to describe the color pink to someone who is blind. It’s exactly like I’m telling you but it’s different as well. What it really is, though, most importantly, is both thrilling and wondrous.

I didn’t look at myself. I had been told by Mom and my sisters that I was large for a wolf. I assumed that any other Were I met would be about the same size. My sister Kate loves petting me in my wolf form. She cooed about how beautiful I was. Vanities aren’t a particularly wolfish trait, though. Fitness, and the fact that I was healthy, those were important to me. Whether I was pretty or not? I couldn’t have cared less.

I could scent a rabbit nearby. There was a slight shift in its odor as it went from concerned to nervous. Rabbits are a massive pest here, so I felt no concern about immediately giving chase. This was part of the reason I’d come out here, after all.

I started by stalking closer, as I was downwind of it. My odor wouldn’t travel cleanly to it. By carefully zigzagging as the breeze shifted, I managed to get within ten meters of it. That was more than pushing my luck, but I was doing this as much for practice as out of hunger. Shifting did leave me hungry, but it’s not the sort of ravenous hunger that you hear of in books and from movies.

The rabbit had calmed down briefly, so I took my chance and made a lightning lunge. My jaws slammed around its neck, and I shook it, snapping its neck quickly. There was no reason to cause unnecessary pain or harm. The sweet, hot taste of its blood filled my mouth, and I started getting down to eating it. I didn’t mind eating the fur and the offal, but I still balked at eating the brains and skull. I could easily have crushed it, but there was just something about it that disgusted the more human side of me. Even in wolf form.

After eating the rabbit, I started spiraling out from where my tent was. The eucalyptus smell through a wolf’s nose is so much more intense and so relaxing. I had to be careful it didn’t lull me into complacency. There could be a human out here hunting feral dogs for all I knew. I’d never camped in this place before.

 

A Simple Trip – snipet

This snippet of A Simple Trip comes to you before it’s final edit. The anthology it will first be released in hasn’t been named yet, but should be out before the end of the month. More news to follow.

Chapter 1

It had taken me months to convince the twins to come to school early, so we could go into the strange shop that was on the way from our homes. I like the twins, they are an interesting pair. They’re both Russian, but not what you’d typically think of as Russian. They are about five foot four, with dark hair and olive skin. Although they come from a family that claims Cossack Heritage they don’t look like the traditional blonde haired, blue-eyed, tall, muscular Cossacks. They looked closer to the Romani, both in features and in the quirky temperament.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Asked Katya nervously.

“What makes you so sure he will even be open this early?” Tatiana asked grumpily. Tatiana was not a morning person. One of the major differences between the twins.

“It will be open. I’ve got a good feeling about this.” I said confidently.

The twins looked at each other, as if they knew something I didn’t. If I’d been paying more attention I have noticed the deep sadness and the edge of timorousness to their faces. But I was too wrapped up in my own excitement at getting a chance to see what was in the store. Secondhand stores like this one had some of the best stuff you can find, and for prices a teenager like me could afford.

We left early enough to give ourselves at least half an hour in the shop. Probably longer, as in my excited anticipation I’d hurried. With my long legged gait they’d had to jog to keep up. When we arrived I could hear their heavy breathing, and feel the slight burn of their angry stares at the back of my head. I ignored it. They had agreed to come along, after all. I just hoped Tatiana, the more volatile twin, wasn’t actually mad at me. She could be terrifying.

As we entered the store I barely noticed the elderly cat cleaning itself next the register. What hit me was the overwhelming odor of old books. The kind of smell that only the best bookstores that sell new books have,  but secondhand bookstores all seem to have it permeating them. Used paper and ink, with a hint of another, sort of musty odor. A smell that is one of the simple pleasures of life, in my opinion.

It surprised me because from the front of the store, all you could see was furniture and knick knacks. As the bell above the door tinkled, I heard the shuffling of the store owner. I’d never met him before, for some reason he always closed the shop between three and four. He probably didn’t want the younger kids pawing through his shop and damaging things.

When I spotted him, he seemed to tense up at the sight of us. There was some apprehension, and the flicker of fear crossed his expression. I bowed deeply and said “Good storekeeper, we merely wish to peruse your wares. I swear there will be no damage done to them.”

To all my fans

I’m sorry I’ve been out for two or so weeks.

Life keeps biting me in the arse.

I have solved where many of the issues were coming from, and am moving full swing into production. Several shorts will be coming out this month, in anthologies like Midnight Magic,

So will the start of a Non-Fiction series, A Writer’s guide to Combat.

I hope to be finishing Breed Matters Book 2, and Boris Chronicles Book 4 may be out very late this month, if not it will be out in May. I will be seeing how I go with that one.

So – now my only job is being an author I hope to be able to push harder at Authoring stuff. Hope to provide you with more, faster!

Signing off
Paul C Middleton.

P.S. Don’t be afraid to contact me either through this blog or on Facebook. Twitter is a little more problematical. I often turn it off so I can write in peace.

P.P.S. Keep Checking this Blog! I plan to post at least twice a week (although we all know about the plans of Mice and Men, Eh?)

Cursed Mother: Final Snippet. Book Live

As I walked across to the bar, Jimmy, the bald-headed barkeep and owner, waved me over, unexpected cheer on his face. He was the main reason I was safe here. He’d spread the word about the curse. In a strange way, being cursed with a century-long timeline by Alecto had given me a form of fear-driven protection. No one in their right mind wanted to end such a curse prematurely. To do so would cost them their lives, probably in a long, creative, and drawn-out process. The corollary being that their refusal to help me was driven by blinding terror.

My relationship with Jimmy was mostly financial. I slipped him five hundred dollars under the table every month. He gave me possible candidates who might be willing to take on the curse. No guarantees — he just kept an eye out for people who might be willing to help me for the right price. Often the price wasn’t money, but something more…esoteric.

“New guy been coming in. Stared down Andre, made him back off,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone.

Andre was the leader of the local pack. He was tough as nails and had taken my eldest under his wing. He also never backed down to a challenge, and his pack wasn’t the one that had been messed up last year. Andre had supposedly taken down a Werebear. Being a wolverine in his other form, his victory was impressive, to say the least.

“No one is sure how. Seems to be a vanilla like you, but can’t be if he managed that. Should be here in half an hour. I’ll warn you, he comes in with half a skinful. Not the cleanest smelling fella either.” There was a hint of disgust in his voice, but he continued with amusement. “He’s got some kinda death-wish by the looks of him and those that see it stay well away. A Demon was trying to corrupt a young Sorcerer here last week. Somehow this fellow, Anslem, got the fucker out of here. I’ve never seen anything like it.” He grinned at me, “By far the best candidate for what you want I’ve seen here.”

Technically, Sorcerers ranked below Vampires on the supernatural scale. A talented Sorcerer could be as powerful as a full Wizard. Most were just dabblers. Heck, technically every priest you meet is a minor Sorcerer, the hypocrites. The sin of Simony be damned.

******************

Cursed Mother is now Live, and can be purchased HERE

Long awaited by some, and an entry into the universe for others, I hope that I have fewer health problems in the future and can accelerate my release schedule.

In the meantime, Enjoy!

Cursed Mother 2nd Snippet

I have long since come to the belief that if there was a God, he’d stopped listening some time ago. He sure as heck hadn’t heard my prayers.

When I married my first husband, Dan, I would never have believed that my husband even believed in cursing people. I used the excuse that he was at work so often for why I cheated on him. He never seemed to have time for me. I see now that he was working so hard for us. After all, when I broke his heart he didn’t just try and curse me himself. No, he found a real professional and paid her.

Then he ended up marrying her.

The curse his new wife put on me came in two parts. The first part was that I would never give birth to a human child. The second part was that I would be fertile for more than a century. It’s been 15 years. I still didn’t fully believe the curse was over me until after the birth of my fifth child.

My first two children seemed normal, although my eldest daughter has always had a green tint to her hair. Following the birth of my third child, I found myself thinking that the curse that had been placed on me might actually be real. That was my final child with that father. When she came out with scales covering her legs, unlike the medical staff,  he hadn’t been able to ignore them. Thankfully I’d had a prenup. With no evidence or actual cheating I’d taken him to the cleaners. I also became afraid that some of a Fury’s nature might have crept through from the curse.

I have two more children from discreet one night stands, despite using every method of birth control known to man. The only sex I’d had in the last twelve years. The final one had, despite my own needs, forced me to reconsider having any sex life beyond those dandy little devices. It still caused me some despair at times. A woman has needs, Okay?

I loved all my children, but in desperation had needed to find a new home for the youngest. He’d been an Imp. Horns, a Tail, the works. Of all people, Alecto’s grandson, who insisted on being called the Mongrel, had been the only one willing to help me with that problem. Even he refused to cross his grandmother on helping me find a way to break the curse problem I have.

So, I regularly came to The Menagerie, hoping to find someone crazy enough to cross one of the ancient Furies. Tonight was no different. I braved the unique and disgusting ambiance of the front bar to reach the main venue. Stale beer, dried blood and a hint of urine were not my favorite odors.

Thankfully the rear section had some form of ventilation that kept the foul odors from settling. Only once had an overwhelming smell of blood assaulted me, when one of the local packs was holding an Alpha challenge. Both the current Alpha and the Challenger had died that night, requiring more challenges to sort out the mess.

 

Cursed Mother Words complete (and snippet)

Finally. After a flu, getting a Wisdom tooth ripped out, Allergies and sinusitis, I’ve completed Cursed Mother. Sending it to the tender hands of my alpha readers, and hope to be able to send it to the editor tomorrow.

*Jumps for joy*

Snippet

I was always nervous as I headed into The Menagerie. After all, it’s not a safe place for people like me.  It catered to a unique mix of Supernaturals, and was the only place like it in Australia. Publicly, it was kind of dive that made biker bars look like havens for saints. You might find places where demons and angels would frequent simultaneously. Not as unusual as you’d think, as they both had an agenda to scare people away from the Supernatural, and towards the God they followed.

Not the kind of place people expected a wealthy woman like myself to enter. The number of propositions I received were somewhat ego swelling, although I looked at least a decade younger than I was. It was part  of the nature of my problem. I’d give up all those years of youthful looks to solve it, and gladly.

Behind the doors and the front bar, which often had Weres fighting each other in their human form. It was a venue that catered to any peculiarities that a Supernatural might desire. Except murder. For the vampires, there were ‘groupies’, recruited for their desire to be bitten or hopes to be chosen to become a vampire. Or so I assumed. I did not want to associate with blood givers and drinkers. For shapeshifters, a pit where they could conduct training and challenges. For the Fae it was considered neutral. In a way. Some place where they could meet without violence being guaranteed, no matter the mix of courts.

I came once a month, like clockwork. People assumed it was to get a piece of ‘rough’ on the side when they found out. I wish. I was looking for someone willing to take a big risk and help me remove the curse my ex’s new wife had placed on me on their wedding day.

The thought always brought a tear to my eye. I had loved Dan, deeply. I had played around on him because he was always at work. He even slept there four or more nights a week, making me feel like I was a piece of eye candy to him. Someone to be on his arm at events. He’d objected to any attempt I made to help him at work, or find a job of my own. I became bored and lonely, so I’d lashed out.

When he found out what I’d been doing, it nearly killed him. His love for me became a burning hate. Though I hadn’t known it, Dan believed in the Supernatural. He’d started looking for people to curse me. Unfortunately, both of us were angry at each other in different ways. Witches had been unwilling to curse a woman who felt scorned. So he’d looked deeper and darker for someone… some being… Willing to curse me.

He’d found Alecto. The Fury of Anger. As both of us were enraged at the other, and he lost most everything in the divorce he’d insisted on, her payment had been to curse him. A curse he found he enjoyed. They’d ended up married.

I’d ended up convinced it had all been faked.

A Simple Trip snippet (1 and only!)

A Simple Trip is a short story coming out in a Phoenix Prime anthology

Here’s your One and Only Snippet from it!

***

Chapter 1

 

It had taken me months to convince the twins to come to school early, so we could go into the strange shop that was on the way from our homes. I like the twins, they are an interesting pair. They’re both Russian, but not what you’d typically think of as Russian. They are about five foot four, with dark hair and olive skin. Although they come from a family that claims Cossack Heritage they don’t look like the traditional blonde haired, blue-eyed, tall, muscular Cossacks. They looked closer to the Romani, both in features and in the quirky temperament.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Asked Katya nervously.

“What makes you so sure he will even be open this early?” Tatiana asked grumpily. Tatiana was not a morning person. One of the major differences between the twins.

“It will be open. I’ve got a good feeling about this.” I said confidently.

The twins looked at each other, as if they knew something I didn’t. If I’d been paying more attention I have noticed the deep sadness and the edge of timorousness to their faces. But I was too wrapped up in my own excitement at getting a chance to see what was in the store. Secondhand stores like this one had some of the best stuff you can find, and for prices a teenager like me could afford.

We left early enough to give ourselves at least half an hour in the shop. Probably longer, as in my excited anticipation I’d hurried. With my long legged gait they’d had to jog to keep up. When we arrived I could hear their heavy breathing, and feel the slight burn of their angry stares at the back of my head. I ignored it. They had agreed to come along, after all. I just hoped Tatiana, the more volatile twin, wasn’t actually mad at me. She could be terrifying.

As we entered the store I barely noticed the elderly cat cleaning itself next the register. What hit me was the overwhelming odor of old books. The kind of smell that only the best bookstores that sell new books have,  but secondhand bookstores all seem to have it permeating them. Used paper and ink, with a hint of another, sort of musty odor. A smell that is one of the simple pleasures of life, in my opinion.

It surprised me because from the front of the store, all you could see was furniture and knick knacks. As the bell above the door tinkled, I heard the shuffling of the store owner. I’d never met him before, for some reason he always closed the shop between three and four. He probably didn’t want the younger kids pawing through his shop and damaging things.

When I spotted him, he seemed to tense up at the sight of us. There was some apprehension, and the flicker of fear crossed his expression. I bowed deeply and said “Good storekeeper, we merely wish to peruse your wares. I swear there will be no damage done to them.”

He nodded cautiously, and said in broken English, with a cough “You break, your buy.” I nodded politely to him. He relaxed, and affable smile pressed onto his face.

What I’ve been doing: Phoenix Prime – and the first 30 shorts produced.

So here I sit, wondering how to explain Phoenix Prime to you all.

Phoenix Prime is basically a pressure cooker for authors. So, hopefully over the next months I will have at least one release for you a week.

And I’ll try to post regularly about releases from other authors in the program. For instance Lee Hayton has done a couple of collaborative works with me. ‘WereEagles fear to tread‘ and ‘A Mongrel, a Bard and Witches, oh my!’ The first of them was released earlier this week, and the second one is planned to be released on Friday (pending my RL problems which I will not go into here)

But I already have the first fruits of the programs labor. And for the time being, they’re available free, HERE, through Instafreebie. 10 anthologies of three free stories each. Enjoy.

The direct link to the anthology containing my Short story

‘Flight of the Phoenix’

 

Speak to you soon.

Paul C. Middleton

‘Sometimes knowing there is a battle is half the battle’