Duck! An ugly little story with a dubious moral..

‘There once was an ugly duckling, his feathers all stubby and brown.’ Sing along now. It’s one of the many records I played on my red dansette when confined to bed as a child.  A story of hope, of growth, of optimism. Back the truck up. Not so. Let’s just look at this story a wee bit closer shall we? I was that duckling. We all have been. Some of us still are. We are all of us ducklings but some of us are looking at the swans as the Duck Pretenders might have sung.

So here’s the real story. Once upon a time there was a duckling. Looked a lot like you and me. Like us, he was an ugly social misfit (with a penchant for creative writing). Spurned by all and sundry he went and hid himself away because the swans were constantly  criticising  his looks and his writing.  Many is the winter he spent alone, working hard to  revise, re-edit and generally make his work acceptable to the swans.

Spring came (it’s not this year then) and he came out to the cries ‘You’re a swan.’ He couldn’t believe it. ‘ Me a swan, no…’ Then he looked in the mirror and saw himself and said ‘I am a swan… wheeeee…’ and we go into a lovefest of the ugly duckling becoming a best selling author (sorry, a swan, I need to keep my subtext under control in fairy stories, I know).

What can be wrong with this story? It’s fiction after all. A fairy story. Does it need to be examined thus? Of course not, but if you do, you’ll see a couple of things which are a bit unsettling. #1 (since we’re all American in the use of the # now!) Most often when you come out of hiding and present your cherished life’s work again the swans are just as likely to pan it. Or more swans come to pan it. However good it is. Whatever you do there’s  a never ending parade of swans to tell the ducklings that they just don’t fit the bill one way or another.  You have to become a swan to be accepted by the swans.  Which brings me to #2. Logical impossibility. No duckling ever grew up to be a swan. Signets become swans. Ducklings become ducks.  If you’re born a duck (and ugly is surely just a subjective opinion) be happy to be a duck. Don’t be unhappy that you’re not a swan. Don’t think you should be a swan or that swans are where it’s at man. Just quack to your heart’s content.  You have the right to have your voice heard. Write for the ducks – there’s a lot of us out there. Don’t waste your time trying to please swans.

 My own moral from this story is: when they say your face doesn’t fit the appropriate response is – it fits me thanks – and splash water in their faces as you tell them to take a flying duck! 


So once the labels have dropped off…

We are left with the analysis and the inevitable statistics (learning to love stats is part of the epublishing revolution)

As of midday on Monday No Labels are hogging the 20’s in the Amazon bestsellers (disaibilities) section 

For some reason which totally eludes me (given that some have sold more than others and NOT in the order that they are listed as highest in the charts) they are in this order:

Tuesday #20,  Friday #21, Monday #24, Thursday ’26 and Wednesday #27  These lists are updated hourly.  And like shares go up and down with astounding ease depending on just a few sales.

Our aim was to get into the Top 10 but this hasn’t been achieved so far. Hopefully a few more people will put their hands in their pockets now and a) get some good stories b) raise awareness of Learning Disability.

The first reviews are starting to trickle in and here they are, in case you still need persuading.

No Labels on Monday introduces us to the members of the No Labels drama group – briefly, respectfully and with affection. There is no need for more than a couple of sentences about each person as they soon begin to speak for themselves. And that includes even the members of the group who find speech particularly difficult. The writer guys herself slightly as the earnest narrator and facilitator, Kate, anxiously trying to arrive at some sort of definition of learning difficulty. Most of the time the group members remain silent as she flounders along, mentally castigating herself for inadvertant moments of possible insensitivity. But finally, rather brilliantly, she achieves an idea that the difference between those labelled with ‘learning difficulty’ and those called ‘normal’ is a ‘conversational impairment between both parties. This is perhaps the most useful understanding of learning difficulty (which also includes dementia) that i have ever come across. I look forward to the next in this week long series. (Julia Jones)

On the whole week:

 I have really enjoyed my daily dose of No Labels and have fallen in love with the delightful actors. Such a heart warming read. (Dave Reynolds)

 Better then the Archers omnibus edition. I’ve just spent Sunday morning catching up with Cally Phillips’s No Labels, Monday to Friday, stories. So humourous, perceptive and potentially addictive. I want more! (Julia Jones again, just to prove she read them all!)

The whole week was an interesting experience I have to say. The tweeting, blogging and facebooking probably ends up getting on people’s wicks, but then, I was kept at it by the Dalai Lama who suggested that big change can result from small things (a mosquito in his example.) His words and the picture spread virally during the week and everyone cheered him. However I found that when I did a few mosquito acts myself people just didn’t like it nearly as much.  So perhaps his concept needs refining. My conclusion is that if you’re the Dalai Lama people listen to what you say. If you’re me, not so much (even when I’m putting out the same message)

It has, however, given me the impetus to start up a new publishing imprint. So I can announce here that  The No Labels Omnibus edition (which will come out first on Kindle then as an epub and eventually fingers crossed as a paperback) will be published under the GUERRILLA MIDGIE imprint.  More of that will come in the next post.

But for the moment here is the logo …

Because as we know, all branding should start with a logo!  Prizes for anyone who can give the correct explanation of what this logo is and represents. There’s a challenge for you.

The Guerrilla Midgie press will focus on work which is socio/politically challenging and/or has an advocacy slant. It will aim to ‘get under the skin’ of the establishment and offer alternative views on a range of issues I feel are important.  So, in the context of the No Labels Learning Disability week experience,  when the labels dropped off, a midgie emerged.

For anyone who doesn’t know, a midgie is the scottish mosquito. Smaller, doesn’t give you malaria, but attitudinally it’s pretty much as annoying as its larger counterpart. I reckon that if the Dalai Lama is a mosquito, I’m a midgie. (And I’ve been called worse things!)

lts Learning Disability Week

June 18th -24th 2012 is LEARNING DISABILITY WEEK.  To commemorate this The NO LABELS series of dramatic stories is being published – with one free episode a day.  Collect the set during the week.  (Normal price 79p)

SPECIALLY EXTENDED FREE PERIOD.  ALL BOOKS WILL BE FREE ON FRIDAY 21st AND SATURDAY 22nd.  (see below for explanation/rationale of giving things away for free!) 

No Labels is a fictional drama group but the ‘stories’ are drawn from my real life experiences over 10 years working with adults labelled with learning disabilities.

Each ‘day’ of the story charts the journey through process to performance of a production by this remarkable group of people.  We hope you will find it amusing and thought provoking.

Please spread the word via your chosen social media platformor by good old word of mouth. 

Because Labels are for TINS not for PEOPLE. 

YOU DO NOT NEED A KINDLE EREADER to download these books. You can download a free Kindle App for PC, ipad or smartphone and read on your electronic device of choice. Click HERE for the link. 

If you want to go direct to the site and download your FREE ebook follow these links

MONDAY  Amazon UK   or US 




FRIDAY Amazon UK or US 

Why give them away? 

You might ask yourself why the ebooks are being given away for free. It’s a good question.  The reason is that it’s a good way of raising awareness. If enough people download (and/or buy) the books they rise up the Amazon charts. The higher up the charts they rise the more people will see them.  Our aim is to get all 5 books into the Top 20 for the DISABILITY chart by the end of Learning Disability Week.   YOU can help by downloading and by tweeting/sharing/liking and generally telling everyone you can in whatever way you can about this promotion.  With just a few clicks you can make a real difference to the awareness of Learning Disability (and you’ll have some cracking good reads into the bargain!)

If you want to become obsessed with the stats or see how YOU are helping No Labels rise up through the charts you can click here to see the rankings So far the highest we got was #2 for No Labels On Tuesday. Every time anyone buys any book about disability the rankings change so we need as many downloads as possible (and sales when it’s no longer free)  So please CLICK and download. It’s a small thing to do but it will make a lot of people very happy.

The guerrillas are back


Publication is well underway. Pricing remains varied… I tried to make it 79p and Amazon told me 81p. So I’ve made it 75p in the hope that Amazon will make it 75p or 77p or at most 79p.

Price, however is somewhat irrelevant (if you are smart and organised) because you can pick them up for FREE on the appropriate day (Monday on Monday, Tuesday on Tuesday etc) as we go through next week.

This is my karmic payback for the IRS number I received in the post this week. I can’t believe I now have a US TAX number.  I exist as a number for the IRS. (not that I am due any money or that I owe them any money. It’s all red tape and…?) The guerrilla in me fights back.

It makes me want to release my I DON’T BELIEVE IN AMERICA song all over again.  Maybe on YouTube. Watch this space. But don’t hold your breath.  I have more important things to do than sing songs at the moment.  As the 3 guitars gathering dust in my office will tell you.

Anyway, next week 18th -22nd is Learning Disability Week and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to have a laugh and get something for free by downloading FREE espiodes of the No Labels Dramatic Journey which will be available on Amazon by then. (You can get them today if you’re sneaky and don’t mind paying MONEY – how much I’m not sure!)

I aim to make them free as often as possible and will also bring out an OMNIBUS edition so you can have the whole lot in one easy ebook.  This will probably retail at £2.49 and probably be in September.

If you want to get more details on how to download etc go to the NO LABELS page which is under the books and ebooks tab at the top of this site.

Half way there…

June Already.  This month will see not one but six – yes six new ebook publications from me.

Firstly, on Monday 4th I’m relaunching my first novel (written 1995/6) as an ebook THE THREADS OF TIME will be available FREE on Monday (from around 9am BST) for 24 hours.  More about it on the ebooks link above.


Then from 18th -24th June I’ll be putting out ONE FREE STORY A DAY (handily they have the name of the day on the cover as a clue!) so you can collect the WHOLE SET for Free. This is the NO LABELS saga – to celebrate Learning Disability Week.  More information forthcoming in due course.

Images for those who like to judge their books by their covers.

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