3 Court Martials, 1 Senate Inquiry, an Aussie lad goes to War

Michael O'Donnell 20th Rein 14th Batt, 1916

Michael O’Donnell
20th Rein 14th Batt, 1916

It is 100 years since the end of WW1. That seems like a long time ago. When I explain that my grandfather’s elder brother  Michael O’Donnell was killed in that war at Bullecourt, France in 1917, the story loses the dust of history and sounds closer to us.

This is the story about a young man who was Court Martialed 3 times, held with enemy prisoners and  finally allowed to go to war following a Senate Inquiry.

It is also a story about duty, loyalty and honour and how much we Aussies have changed today.

…………………………………………………

Michael O'Donnell Postcard 1911 Remembering 1910 March Melbourne to Bendigo

Michael O’Donnell
Postcard 1911
Remembering 1910 March Melbourne to Bendigo

The sound that distinguishes Anzac Day from others is the bugle call. The solitary call of the Last Post reverberates down the generations as a mournful cry for the loss of war.

In the First World War it was the loss of so many young lives and for what? A toehold on some peninsula, a futile charge into no man’s land? The loss swept into every Australian household. Mothers lost their sons.

Young women lost brothers, boyfriends, lovers, husbands. And for fathers, adding to the pain of loss, was the bitter aftertaste of guilt summarised so succinctly by Rudyard Kipling, who lost his own son in that war:

………………………………………………………………………

“If any question why we died/Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

Yet the generation of Australians who served in the First World War had qualities we no longer possess and this is our loss.

Read Full Article here: Echo of the Bugle

Read Edited article published in the herald Sun Anzac Day, 25th April, 2007: Echo of the Bugle

Advertisements

How to Smile for Idiots

With 2 new books coming out within the next year I’ve been told by publishers to get onto social media. I found that online SMILING isn’t what it used to be.

10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

4. Humour

Some thoughts on writing humour. It’s a tricky business. Current events can instantly kill humourous writing. If you write a funny piece about fear of flying, say, then a plane crashes, the article crashes too.

Readers can take personal affront to a joke. I once wrote a funny piece alleging that the group KISS were a band of aging rockers. They did wear those platform heels. Could be a bit dodgy as you age. I received quite a few outraged emails. The KISS army is out there somewhere still loyal and still marching on.  Age shall not weary them,  apparently.  I’ve  had  highly  critical letters stating that my writing lacked  the  restraint  necessary  for  a  civilised  society.  I  didn’t realise I  could  cause  the  collapse  of  Western  Civilisation  by  including  the words ‘pissing yourself’ in an article.

But more than anything I loathe with a passion the HUMOUR section in a bookshop.

10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

5. Rights

Some thoughts on Copyright. It is a tricky business. For instance, fair use laws apply in Australia for extracts and quotes, but what does this mean to a professional writer? (See Australian Copyright Council link below for detailed information) As a freelance author and journalist for over 30 years I am both the owner and user of copyright material.

As a Copyright Owner:

Books and Newspapers: Can publishers rip off ideas you have pitched to them? Yes! Ideas aren’t protected except for the exact wording. In the early days I’d pitch an idea to an editor, who’d reply ‘We’ve already got someone on that story.’ As if they already had someone on a story about using car parts as garden features, an Aussie peculiarity.

Newspapers: Can articles be published without your permission? Not legally. Although I was a freelance journalist and other imprints in the newspaper group assumed I worked in house. If I found out they had published an article in print I asked to be paid. About 2/3 of original fee. Less for smaller magazines.

Online: I’ve had my own articles emailed back to me in a chain letter without my name on it. That’s what annoyed me the most, a friend sending me a chain funny saying ‘You’ll like this.’ ‘Yeah! I bloody wrote it.’

RULE OF THUMB: If your work is used in a commercial product of any form you should be paid unless you have waived the fee.

https://www.copyright.org.au/…/An_Introduction_to_Copyright…

COPYRIGHT USE:  I’ve had a substantial quote used in a VCE year 12 exam. They didn’t ask for permission. But, maybe, for the sake of all students I should have asked for money to inflict some reverse pain on the examiners. Ha!

Recently, I was asked permission for a quote of mine to be used on a brass plaque in a bar in Malta. I didn’t think they needed permission, but I appreciated the request and, if I get to Malta, I reckon there’s a free drink waiting for me.

10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

6. Editors

In the beginning I argued with editors. The phrase ‘shivering like a new born foal’* in my first book arrived in the galleys as ‘shivering like a new born chicken.’ I was outraged, reinstated ‘foal’, to discover in print I’d written ‘fowl’. I’ve woken up in a cold sweat  when,  during  the  Iraq invasion, I wrote about friends who became ‘ dessert  warfare ’  armchair  experts.  I was saved that time.  A newspaper editor didn’t save me from ‘Bass Straight’.  It  appeared  in  the  banner heading too.  As I’m a humorist, they probably thought it was a joke. On the other hand, I’ve had a book editor insist that a character cannot walk ‘ through the door ’ but must walk ‘in at the door.’ Perhaps she was technically correct. I don’t know, but it sounded horrible. She added about 90 @s to the MS. I took them out and sent her an email with the 90 @s.  I  don’t  see  myself  as the hissy fit type.  Note  to  Self:  Be more gracious or shut the FU. We writers often assume our copy is  perfectly  clear  to others. It may not be. Now I’ll go all Jerry McGuire in the sting. To all my editors, who have saved me from my own arrogance or ignorance over the years, a big belated ‘thanks’.

10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

No. 7

In 1982 I had my first book and  first  article  published as well as my first baby. Much has changed on all fronts since then including a 6’2” baby. I know how to get published (See below) as a freelance but, like all paying endeavours, you can be seduced  into  following  the  money trail. I became a freelance journalist and earned a reasonable living  but  it’s  taken  me  30+  years to write my first novel. Could  I  have  written  a  novel  earlier?  Maybe.  Then  again  a 30+ year writing apprenticeship is a good preparation for a novelist. I can’t tell you what path to follow, but I can tell you how to earn money from writing.

10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

No. 8

Just a few words on the bitter reality of rejections. After 35 years of writing, you acclimatise, I guess. One time, however, a newspaper editor rejected one of my articles. I heard he was going on leave. So I sent the piece back to the same section of the newspaper. He didn’t go on leave. And he published the piece. What does this mean? Sometimes they don’t read your copy, not even the title or your name before rejecting your work. Keep that in mind the next time you get a rejection.