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ROCKY BAY NEVER WAS OMIHA

A Waiheke Island Myth Part 1 On Waiheke Island, New Zealand, a myth has grown up among a handful of people in the Rocky Bay Village th...

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Friday, 30 December 2011

MY BOOKS AND STORIES PUBLISHED!

Over the years, both living on Waiheke Island and before I came here (and wish I had come much earlier in life), I have written a huge amount--millions of words of one sort or another--ranging from professional writing in information technology, business and science, to children's and adult fiction, to legal opinions, to local-body reports, to design descriptions, to blogs, etc., etc. The fiction has covered a very wide range, from fantasy to horror, from romance to humour, from metaphor and environmental activism to classic tales reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Tolkien.

Some of my stories are very short, some are full-length books; they vary in length from a mere 360 words on one page to over 33,000 on 84 pages. But 360 words can be just as compelling as a much longer work. The length should be whatever it comes out to; it should fit the story. The 360-word work is a horror-story, whose brevity heightens the horror (and the black humour).

Creative Waiheke is of course an ideal environment for a writer, so they flourish here, but an unpublished writer is a perpetually frustrated being. And till now none of my stories have been published (on paper, I mean), either because I made no attempt, or as was the case with my first book, a fantasy written long ago called The Wing-Friends, because although the publishers liked it they declined it. They liked it because their reader, the famous Dorothy Butler, recommended it, but they did not think there was a big enough market in my native New Zealand to make it worth their while. The opinions of publishers are the bane of author's lives...

How many times in history have books been declined by publishers, or only published in very limited numbers, because publishers did not think they would be successful, but then were runaway best-sellers, never out of print? The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Lord of the Rings are two of myriads of examples. There must be many books that die in drawers and never see the light of day, but would be very successful if they were published.

To get round all that, the ideal is be your own publisher, but traditionally that has meant a large initial outlay because of the cost of a print-run and marketing. Print-on-demand publishing, in which copies are printed only when ordered, opened large cracks in that obstacle, but although the outlay was not anything like as large it was still not an easy road, especially if you had a number of works to publish.

In the past few days I have discovered, rather belatedly, to my chagrin, that Amazon has swept away all obstacles with free services, both ebook and print-on-demand. The ebooks are published via Kindle Direct Publishing; the print-on-demand are published via a part of the Amazon empire called CreateSpace. The Internet has radically changed the author's world. Yay! No longer do publishers have the whip hand, or any hand at all. Now the author is in charge, and has a direct line to readers. Which is how things should be. Chronic frustration can now be removed with a some uploading and a few clicks of a mouse.

So I have started publishing a number of my stories myself. The shorter ones are or will be in ebook format, for reading on an electronic reader or a computer. The longer ones will be in print-on-demand paperback format.

To find my stories go to Amazon and enter my name in the search box: Nobilangelo Ceramalus, or just Nobilangelo, or click on this link. As the days go more and more will be there. so far I have published seven ebooks. Soon I shall publish my first print-on-demand book, The Wing-Friends. I also plan to publish an environmental book, The Earth-Guard, via print-on-demand, as well as other things in both formats, about a dozen all together perhaps.

The exclamation mark at the end of the title of this posting is therefore an indication of my relief at being able at long last to get my stories out into the world where they belong.

I hope there will be people who will enjoy them.

Friday, 23 December 2011

PLAN TO ADVOCATE IS NOT TO PLAN TO DO

(A milestone: this is post number 200 in this blog)

The Waiheke Local Board has issued its Local Board Plan 2011 in the form of a beautiful glossy 44-page A4 booklet. The front cover is headed 'Local Board Plan 2011 - Your Voice for Your Community'. The back cover has the fine print: 'Auckland Council disclaims any liability whatsoever in connection with any action taken in reliance of [sic] this document or for any error, deficiency, flaw or omission contained in it. Adopted in October 2011.' The first error is 'reliance of', which should of course be 'reliance on'.

The aims presented in the booklet are laudable, so is the high quality of the presentation, but the fine print gives the game away, as does the constant interation in item after item of what the Board gives as its role: 'advocacy.'

That is of course its role in law--to be an advocate for the community (not, as it claims, to lead; in a democracy it is the people who lead)--but the strong impression one gets is that that the Council is in charge, not the people of Waiheke, that the best the Board can hope for is to shout through the door, and the best we can hope for is that our community will what is best for it. Or, more accurately, that we will not get the worst.

I hope they succeed, I hope we succeed, I hope Waiheke will remain Waiheke, despite the constant efforts of the greedy, the soul-less, the haters of all that is beautiful and true and good. The Board's booklet has its heart in the right place, but it is not being permitted to do much more than speak.

Should we be surprised? Of course not. When he turned our local-government world upside down and created a mammoth bureaucracy topped by a centralised council and a very powerful mayor Rodney Hide had the hide to say that he was 'putting local back into local government.'

As a Waihekean wisely observed, 'We vote for the people we hope will do the least harm.' In Rodney Hide we got the most.

Sorry, Mr Hide, you cannot get better local government from a powerful central body, remote from localities. Especially when the locality is way across the ocean.I an island is a place apart in body and mind. It should not be ruled by those it is separated from. That is against nature, against reason, against humanity.

Advocacy means a lot of shouting across the water. Shouting in hope. We should be doing.

Would that we had our own council again, or at very least one whose heart beats in tune with ours. A behemoth centred in a city has the heart of a city behemoth, not the heart of a small village-rural island. It can never have that. An island is separate physically; it should be governed separately.

The only good thing that came out of Hide's machinations is that we got rid of some evil bureaucrats in Auckland City Council. But we are still at the mercy of a glossy super-council. The best we can hope for is that it will be less merciless than the old lot. We got a fine booklet. Will we get the community to match?

I wish bureaucrats, and politicians (who are just bureaucrats who make speeches), would get it into their skulls that they are messing about with people's lives, not with little black marks on white stuff, even if it is glossy white stuff.

In summary. Much the same, but less evil than before. So far. 'The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.' We shall be vigilant, we shall always shout when we are being stomped on. We are Waihekeans. To live on an island is to protest against the big mainland, so shouting and being feisty is what we are. Would that we could be left to our own devices!

And that we had full control over our rates, instead of having only little bits of it parcelled out by others.

So 'advocate' is is. Loudly!

But that is not how it should be. The purpose of local government in New Zealand is defined and laid down in law, in section 10 of the Local Government Act 2002 :

10 Purpose of local government
The purpose of local government is--
(a) to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and
(b) to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities, in the present and for the future.

Decision-making, not advocacy-making. Action, not talk. Democratic and local, not remote. First and foremost by--and by the local community. Not first and foremost on behalf of. And even when it is on behalf of it is to be democratic and local. That is the law. Good, democratic law.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

MULTIPLE MPs

Waiheke could hardly have done better in the election. For us MMP means multiple MPs. Three! Nikki got the seat and Jacinda and Denise got in on their party lists. So we get the whole political gamut: centre-right, centre-left and left. All we missed out was a man, or two, or three...

If competition really is all that its accolytes believe it to be, Waiheke can expect a good haul of the baubles of office.

But this article in Gulf News would not inspire anyone to put a bauble-box on lay-by.