Produce and self-publish your book. It is not difficult to do!

Book Writers, you do not have to pay several thousand dollars to get your book published by a vanity press or vanity publisher. Trust me. I’ve self-published 20+ books, and it hasn’t cost me a cent to make my books available in various formats through various online book stores. Just read this summary from Produce, Price and Promote Your Self-Published Fiction or Non-fiction Book and e-Book, and you too can do it yourself!

The information here is, in theory, all you need to produce and publish your self-published book. Why in theory? You need some, not a lot, of technical knowledge to format the interior of your book. You will need more technical knowledge to create your cover. However, with the information here, you can produce (format) the interior of your print and e-book (Kindle and epub or Kobo).

Of course, before you produce your book for self-publishing, you have to write, edit, and proofread the sucker. But there are things you can do to set up your Word file (I am presuming your are writing in Word) that will minimized the formatting of your print and e-book that you have to do once your book is written and ready to be published.

It’s all spelled out in Produce, Price and Promote… – . However, this post contains everything you need to know to produce your book. And just in case you think I am trying to sell you my book, let me alleviate that thought. If you want a free PDF copy of Produce, Price and Promote…, email paulmslima@gmail.com with “Self-Publish PDF” in the subject line, and I will email you a free PDF of the book, and NO other email. That is a promise!

So what do you need to know?

Again, I am suggesting that you use Microsoft Word as your word processor, especially if you want to publish ebooks. I also use Word to format the interior of my print books. With Word, I am able to establish page and margins size, insert headers and footers (names of chapters and page numbers) and my table of contents (TOC), and choose the typestyle (font) and type size for my title page, chapter headings, subheadings and the body text of my books.

Note: For your print book, I’d suggest you learn how to automatically insert your TOC using Word’s automatic TOC insert function. The function will provide the name of each chapter and the page number each chapter starts on. If you use Word’s insert TOC feature, you can change your chapter titles (something you might do when writing non-fiction) and add information to, or remove information from, the book. Doing so will make chapters longer or shorter. Simply update your auto-generated TOC (chapter names and page numbers) with the right click of a mouse on the TOC.

To use Word’s automatic insert TOC function, and to create your e-book, you will have to learn how to use Word’s Style Guide. How to do this in a step by step manner goes beyond the scope of this post, but trust me, it is not difficult to do. Suffice it to say that you will want to set up your book’s Title Page as Heading 1. You should see that option at the top of Word. If not, click on the “Home” section. If it’s not there, use your Help function to help your find it.

Your chapter headings should be Heading 2 using the Style Guide. Then, when you insert the TOC, it automatically converts all Heading 2 chapter titles into your TOC. In fact, if you have subheadings in your book, you can create them as Heading 3 and you can then have them appear in your TOC below the chapter headings, if you want. Most books don’t, but depending on the nature of your book, it is an option that can prove to be useful.

For your book’s body text, you want to use the Style Guide called Normal.

Oh, and make sure your initial book file size is 8.5 by 11-inches. You can change that to whatever size you select for your print book later. 8.5 by 11-inches should be the size for your Kindle and epub books.

It is that simple.

However, you might look at the text font and size of Headings 1, 2 and 3 and Normal and say you don’t like what you see. Here is what you do. Right click on Heading 1, then click on Modify, and select the font and type size that you want. Same for Headings 2 and 3 and Normal.

What I’ve told you here is the required format that you need to use when creating ebooks. I set up my initial book this way, at 8.5 by 11-inches. Once the book is copy edited and proofread (in other words, there will not be any more changes), I save my initial file twice, as “My e-Book” and “My Print Book.” I then use “My e-Book” to create Kindle and epub versions of my books.

I change the size of the file of “My Print Book” to the size selected for printing (sizes are made available by the online bookstore you use) and insert the auto-TOC into “My Print Book.” I may have to do some minor editing on the TOC, but basically, I’m ready to create my print and e-books.

So how do I publish my book?

This too is relatively easy. Relatively, because you will need an 8.5 by 11-inch cover for your ebook and an appropriately sized front/back cover with spine for your print book. Creating covers goes beyond this post. (Note: you can create one online with Amazon’s KDP.)

So here is what you do. Google “kdp amazon” to find Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing website. Set up an account and create your ebook by filling out the ebook form and uploading your ebook Word file and your cover. You also create your print book in a similar manner. The cover/spine for your print book has to be the right size, but Amazon provides you with a cover template you can use to create your cover. Heck, Amazon even provides you with the tools you need to create your cover online! You also get to price your ebook and print book. KDP will give you some pricing guidelines to follow.

If you want to make an epub version of your book available, Google “kobo writing life” and click on the Kobo Writing Life link. Again, create an account, fill out the book forms, upload your Word file and 8.5 by 11-inch cover, price your book, and you are in business.

There is one more site I want to tell you about. Google “D2D” and look for the Draft2Digital link. D2D will help you get your epub and print book into a whole lot more online stores. Just create an account and follow the upload process.

And that’s it. With these tools, you are in business, self-publishing your print book and/or your ebook. And you have not paid a vanity press $5,000 to get your book published.

So why am I telling you all this? Am I trying to sell you something? Not really. I am a retired writer who does a bit of book formatting and cover design for authors who need some assistance. I’ve self-published 20+ books that I have written, and have helped a number of authors, speakers, and companies get their books out there for ten times less than vanity publishers want to charge. If you want to talk, email paullima.com@gmail.com and we can talk.

However, if you have a modest amount of technical knowledge, follow the path I have laid out here, and you will soon be a self-published author.

All the best with your writing and publishing!

Giving away PDFs of 2 novels

I am giving away PDFs of my two novels, one which is available now, and the other which should be available by mid-December. How to get them at the end of this post.

Available now: Geri: A Post-Pandemic LGBTQ+ Novel About Something.
Geri Sender is a talented but unknown non-binary stand-up comedian and carpenter who thinks they may be transgender. They live in a house flat with three LGBTQ+ friends… If this sounds like it might be a Seinfeld spoof, it is, in a small way. But it really is its own story.
Read more about the bookhere: paullima.com/geri/.

Available mid-December (but you can put your request for it in now): Chronic: A Sick Novel.
Four people with various maladies–multiple sclerosis (which I have), Parkinson’s disease, cancer, paraplegia–move in to a flat together. Life happens. Here’s what one beta reader said: “If this book were a movie, the cleaners would have to mop up buckets of tears when it was over. Of joy. Of laughter. And yes, of sadness. I’m lucky I had a big box of tissues close by as I read.”
Read more beta reader reactions and more about the book here: paullima.com/chronic/

So how do you get your free PDF? Easy. Email paulmslima@gmail.com. Use the subject line: “Geri PDF” or “Chronic PDF” or “Geri/Chronic PDF”. I will email you the PDF book(s), and no other email. That I promise!

Happy reading, folks.

I am not the brightest tack, but… 8 issues we should seriously be thinking about

I am not the brightest tack in the bag of nails. I mean look at that, I just mixed the elements in my metaphor. It took me ten years to get my B.A., a three-year degree. I’ve never been a manager–always a worker bee, never the queen. I ran my own business for 30 years, making an okay living, but reaching an income peak and staying there over the last decade. I am a writer and writing trainer with poor spelling and grammar skills. And yet, other than working as a bartender during my university days, I have managed to work as a writer and writer-trainer all my adult life. I know little about current events, am not politically active, keep my head down, and sleep-walk though life. And am okay with that. Which is why if somebody as passive as I am is disturbed, that means there is stuff to be disturbed about.

If I am not the sharpest tack, how dumb, ignorant, and downright stupid is much of humanity. I base that thought on the following topics: politics, economy, environment, healthcare, sexuality, advertising, religion, and straight white men. I am not saying that I possess the ultimate understanding of each of topic. Far from it. However, anybody thinking that where I stand is nuts, I suggest that you take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “How did I manage to lose my humanity?”

With that in mind, here is my brief take of each topic that has me disturbed.

Politics
In western democracies, our politicians most often get elected by lying to us. They tell us what they think and believe we want to hear, and then, for the most part, fail to do what got them elected. There is incremental change that slowly moves us in one direction or the other, but for the most part, campaign promises, on the left and the right and even down the middle, are made, and then broken.

I am not in any way a Trump fan. But I have to ask: Where is the wall Mexico is supposed to pay for? (Not that I ever wanted to see it built.) As a Canadian, I have to ask Trudeau, where is our promised electoral reform? (That I wanted to see.) And when things get done, I often think: Why that way? For instance, Trudeau has been quite articulate when speaking about the coronavirus. And he has been very generous–spending money his government does not have, bankrupting our children and grandchildren. I am not saying that he should take no action. The pandemic has required action. But to stay on the money issue, why not lower rents and mortgages for people who have lost their jobs? Why not lower prices of essentials? Do that instead of throwing money at everybody so that the major corporations can continue to profit. Tell companies that you will not allow them to go under. Tell public companies that you will suspend their need for constant profits so that they can reduce prices and support those who need support. And in the US, correct me if I am wrong, it seems like there has been little to no help for people and a lot of help for major companies. But moving on…

The Economy
I am not a communist, although I have been called that. I am not even a socialist. I have run my own business, which makes me a capitalist. But I sure as hell am no Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. I believe in paying taxes, unlike Jeff and pretty much any CEO. Sure, I wish the government spent money more effectively and efficiently, but I believe governments should collect and spend money. I hate these ‘minimize taxes’ politicians and don’t understand why so many people, people who would often benefit from government expenditures, vote for them. In short, I believe in the social safety net, and to set it up takes the collection of taxes and the expenditure of money. I support Medicare in Canada and cannot for the life of me understand why so many Americans oppose it in their country, other than they have fallen for some pretty wild propaganda–like it would cost too much in taxes. Instead, they get sick and go bankrupt, or die.

I suspect that Jeff Bezos could probably pay 90 per cent of his income in taxes, and could not spend what’s left over in his life time. I don’t get why people accumulate wealth for no reason other than the accumulation of wealth. If you come up with an innovated idea that people will pay for, sure you deserve to make money. But more than you can spend in a dozen lifetimes? Cripes, if I had that kind of money, I’d be giving it away left, right and centre. But moving on…

The Environment
Correct me if I am wrong, but if we have nothing but dirty air to breathe and dirty water to drink, we will all die. No? So why do we sacrifice the air we breathe and the water we drink for the sake of making a buck (or billions of bucks)? Why do we sacrifice the animals on this planet, even the insects, for the sake of the almighty dollar? When all the bees are gone and the food that farmers plant can’t be pollinated and grow, how long will we last as a species? In short, why do we put profit over the environment? Why do we put profit over our health and welfare?

There is a kind of irony here. People often say that pollution is destroying the earth. It is not. It is changing aspects of our earth–climate change, for instance–but it is not destroying earth. It will destroy us, but the earth will continue to rotate and revolve around the sun. Plants will continue to grow and any animal species that are not extinct will continue to procreate. But we will be gone. Moving on…

Healthcare
There are two big picture issues when it comes to healthcare: public versus private healthcare and too much healthcare versus no healthcare. The fact is, some countries have too much so-called healthcare. (Can you say Viagra for sexual dysfunction, or plastic surgery?). And some counties have little to no health care, and would have even less if not for the minimal healthcare provided by charities.

This divide exists even in countries with publicly-funded healthcare. There are parts of such countries were some people get a lot of healthcare and other parts where people get little or limited healthcare. In other words, based on geography (I know it’s more complex than that), you may or may not have access to healthcare.

Having said that, one cannot deny that publically-funded healthcare systems are available in most developed nations verses the private healthcare system in America. Why would America, one of the most developed countries in the world, bankrupt or even kill its citizens just because they are too poor, or not quite rich enough, to afford the stupidly high cost of necessary healthcare?

There is of course irony in this. The people who don’t understand the expression “Black Lives Matter” and want it replaced with the phrase “All Lives Matter,” actually have a hidden parenthetical thought at the end of that phrase: “All Lives Matter (unless you are sick and can’t afford healthcare)”. Why healthcare is not a global, non-profit industry, I do not know. But moving on…

Sexuality
I’d like to talk a bit about sexuality, the most private and intimate act that takes place between people. Why do people get so freaked out about, and try so damn hard to police and restrict, sexuality? My sexuality has nothing, not a damn thing, to do with your sexuality, and yours has nothing to do with mine. Who cares who is sleeping with whom?

Ah, I know, the so-called Christian religious right can point to a verse in the Bible that opposes homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22: “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman…” However, I never see a fundamentalist tell anybody to trim all the fat off their steaks and to not eat it rare. Leviticus 3:17: “You must not eat any fat or any blood.” And eating seafood other than fish? Fundamentalists who do so will be joining me in Hell. Leviticus 11:10-11: “But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales… you are to regard as unclean. And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat.” Nor do I hear them proclaiming that everybody should comb their hair (British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, please take note). Leviticus 10:6: “Then Moses said to Aaron…, ‘Do not let your hair become unkempt…or you will die and the Lord will be angry with the whole community.'”

And why is it, pray tell, that the people who get the most freaked out about sexuality tend to be some of the biggest perverts, rapists and child molesters out there? I could go on, but I must be moving on…

Advertising
Pretty much all advertising is BS. And this from a former advertising copywriter. Ads tend to create a desire for something we don’t need. If you think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, your basic needs are physiological (requirements for survival, such as air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sex, sleep) and safety and security. Once those needs are met, Maslow postulates, you move up the hierarchy. However, I suggest that you don’t need to meet anything beyond your physiological and safety needs.

Advertising, on the other hand, tries to make you desire stuff by making you think you need it, which you don’t. Who needs beer or jewellery or fancy clothes or fast food (with negligible nutritional value) or fast cars (or even slow ones) or boat cruises… In short, advertising tries to make you desire (and buy) stuff that you don’t need. The selling of this stuff enriches corporations; the making of it devastates our environment. (And yes, I get the irony as I type away at this article sitting in front of my computer which is connected to the Internet while my tablet sits on the counter beside me recharging so that I can play Words with Friends. I didn’t say I was perfect!) With that confession, I’m moving on…

Religion
Can I have an “Amen…?” No? Thank goodness. I could go on ad nauseam with my thoughts about religion, holy scriptures, and gods. I will try to keep it brief. Recently in an atheist forum, I posted a message in which I said religious people were “stupid.” I got more likes for my post (in the hundreds) than for anything else that I’ve ever posted in social media. However, a few fellow atheists objected to me calling religious people “stupid.” They pointed out that many religious people are university educated and have high IQs. And I had to agree with them. Not all religious people are “stupid.” Naïve, gullible, foolish…, but not “stupid.” However, their belief in any of the following is just plain dumb: God, heaven, Satan, Hell, gods, Allah, Mohamed, Jesus, virgin births, resurrections, the Bible, the Quran, any holy scriptures, after life…

Religions, gods, and holy texts were geographically based in pre-travel eras. Notice how many different religious beliefs there are, all originally geographically based? Along came trade, followed by religious wars. Pre-science, religions were man’s ways of trying to make sense out of the world. I am not saying that science has all the answers; I am saying that science disproves most of the so-called answers contained in religious scriptures. And still there are people who believe in their scriptures, hate those who do not hold their beliefs, and wage wars over their beliefs. Not all of them may be stupid, but they have all fallen for myth, fiction, and lies.

I have no problem with those who find community and even solace in their religious beliefs. I just wish that they’d keep it to themselves. But hate is spewed (often in the name of love) based on this fiction. Terror is dealt based on these myths. Wars have been waged, and are being waged, based on these false beliefs.

Belief in lies, fiction, and myths has caused as much misery in the world as political divisions have caused. And often, political divisions are fueled by outrageous, ridiculous, and stupid religious beliefs. But let me move on to one final category that I call…

SWM
Underlying the issues that I have discussed, at least in the western world, are SWM–straight white men, and in other countries such as China, SMofC (straight men of color).

In the western world, who is in charge of the messed up political system? SWM. The economy? SWM. Who runs the companies messing up our environment? SWM. Who funds, or underfunds, healthcare? SWM. Who represses and oppresses those who are not straight, white, or male? SWM. Who heads the advertising agencies that spew lies? SWM. Is the pope straight, white, and male? Of course he is. Who heads the other religions and their various sects? SWM.

Yes, you can find some women in positions of power. Not many. They have usually been placed in those position by SWM. There are some people of colour who have positions of authority in the western world. Again, not many. And I am sure that some of the SWM are actually homosexuals who are still in the closet, but sure as hell not many.

Maybe, just maybe, considering the mess the world is in today, it’s time for SWM to retire and hand off the world to women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and to people of colour. I’m not saying that the world would then become a better place where we can all live in peace and harmony. I am saying they couldn’t do any worse than the SWM have done, and would probably do a heck of a lot better.

I guess that is my bottom line. If we want this world to continue to support us, if we want to continue to live and thrive on this planet, then we need to do one heck of a lot better. Otherwise, simply put, we are going to kill ourselves. Or the world, in its effort to make itself a better place, is going to wipe us off the map. It’s been patient and tolerant for a long time, but in the timetable of history, we have been here for barely a blink. And in another blink, we just might find ourselves gone.

And in the end…
In the end, you don’t have to agree with everything I’ve written, but if you disagree with all or much of it, I am afraid that you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. On the other hand, you might say that I have not gone far enough. You will get no argument from me. To save ourselves, we just might have to move farther and faster in the areas that I have covered and in more areas than I have covered. But move we must, if we want to leave a healthy legacy for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren… Make no changes and our children and grandchildren might not have an opportunity to grow up. We might not ever have great grandchildren. It might simply be the end of us. And it will be all our fault.

Full stop. The end.

Excerpt from “Geri”: Confronting the Preacher

Below is an excerpt from my new novel, Geri: An LGBTQ+ Novel About Something. (Yes, there is a bit of a Seinfeld spoof going on.) You can read more about the book here.

Before this excerpt begins, here’s what you need to know: The time is near future, post-pandemic. Jorge is black and gay. His friend Krystal is transgender but has not had surgery to change her birth gender. Sunnyside is a public park in the west end of Toronto on Lake Ontario.

The excerpt:

After lunch, Jorge and Krystal are walking on the Lakeshore boardwalk by Lake Ontario, enjoying the sun and the spring warmth. Past Sunnyside Pool and the Sunnyside Café they see a black preacher in a black two-piece suit, jacket unbuttoned and without a tie, preaching to a crowd of several dozen congregants and curious onlookers, many sitting on the park grass.

“Halleluiah! Halleluiah!” says the preacher. “I am here to tell you that God loves each and every one of you. You are all precious in His name.”

Several people in the crowd shout “Amen!”

“I am here to tell that if you confess your sins to Jesus and dedicate your lives to God, there will be rewards for you, here on earth and in the afterlife in Heaven when you leave this temporary state of being.”

Krystal smiles at Jorge, who smiles back. “You or me,” says Krystal.

“You, all the way,” says Jorge. “I’ll be hiding behind this tree.”

“Coward,” says Krystal over her shoulder as she pulls her rainbow-coloured facemask up off her chin and places it over her mouth and nose before heading towards the preacher. “Excuse me, my good man,” she says pointing a finger at the preacher when he pauses for a breath.

“How may I help you?” asks the preacher looking at Krystal parading towards him in all her transgender glory.

“This is a public park, yes?” says Krystal. The preacher nods. “Since we both have the right to speak out in a public park, we can shout over each other or we can be cooperative and take turns.”

“You would like to address my congregation?” asks the preacher.

“I’d actually like to address you. But first,” she says turning towards the crowd, “how many of you have had the coronavirus vaccine shot?” Everybody including the preacher flexes an arm. Krystal pulls her mask down over her chin. “I’d like to talk to you, but your congregation is more than welcome to listen in.”

“But we’ll be gentlemen about it and take turns speaking?”

“Gentlepersons,” Krystal corrects him. “But yes.”

“Since I don’t know why you are here, you go first.”

Krystal gestures at the preacher. “Where are you from?”

“Windsor,” says the preacher. “Moved to Toronto years ago to attend Bible school and stayed. God provided, glory be.”

“And before Windsor, your family was from?”

“The east coast. Halifax to be exact.”

“And if we go back farther?”

“You can go all the way back to the southern States.”

“So you are descendent from slaves who were from Africa?”

“What are you implying?” says the preacher. “I am a free man washed in the blood of the lamb.”

“I have no doubt that you are free. Just wanted to ensure that I had the genealogy right,” says Krystal. “Your ancestors were enslaved by white men. Beaten. Tortured. Raped. By white men. And here you are, generations later, praising the God of the white men. The God who looked on and allowed so much evil to happen to your forebears. The God who in his book tells his chosen people how to tend and even impregnate slaves.” Krystal pauses. The preacher says nothing. “Why in, well, God’s name, would you worship this God, the God of your white oppressors?”

“And you are a man parading before my congregation as a woman.”

“We can discuss gender next, if you wish. But you are dodging my question.”

“The God of Moses, Abraham, and David is the God of all.”

“But he allows some who praise his name to abuse others who did not know him?”

“He moves in mysterious ways. He brought me here to these people who are thirsty for his Word.”

“Are you saying that your ancestors had to be enslaved, beaten, and raped so that you could talk to this crowd today?”

“I am saying his ways are mysterious, and you are making a mockery of them.”

“Trust me, I am not mocking you in any way. I am truly curious.”

“You are a man dressed as a woman questioning me based on no knowledge of God’s word or my beliefs, convictions and certainties.”

“There we go again with the gender thing, as if that has anything to do with…”

“It is who you are and it makes a mockery of the Word from Adam and Eve on…”

“On to the flood when your God says, ‘Well, I made a bollocks of it all, Time to wipe everyone out, including innocent children, and start over with a chosen few and a bunch of animals.”

“You, sir, are an abomination. There is a place in Hell for racist heathens like you.”

“Heathen yes. Racist no.”

Jorge comes out from behind the tree and walks up to Krystal. He takes her by the arm and gives her a gentle tug.

“Be gone with you and your crude thoughts,” shouts the preacher.

“Crude…” sputters Krystal.

“Let’s go my dear,” says Jorge tugging Krystal even more firmly. “It’s a beautiful day and the sunshine is calling to us.”

”Be gone, fellows. Keep on walking, all the way to Hell.”

Krystal tries to turn around, but Jorge increases the firmness of his grip on her elbow. “You started it,” Jorge says, “Be big about it and let him have the last word.”

“One of them is a woman, not a fellow,” somebody in the congregation shouts.

“They’ve seeded my congregation with their friends,” says the preacher.

Both Jorge and Krystal turn to see who is coming to their defense.

“I’ve never met them. But I will say this: she is more Christian than you.” The angry man walks away from the congregation and a few others follow him.

“Okay,” says Krystal, “We can go now.”

*     *     *

That was an excerpt from my novel, Geri. You can read more about the book here.

Are All Cops Bad Cops?

Below is an excerpt from my new novel, Geri: An LGBTQ+ Novel About Something. (Yes, there is a bit of a Seinfeld spoof going on.) You can read more about the book here.

Before this excerpt begins, here’s what you need to know: Geri is non-binary (they). Their friend Krystal, who is transgender but has not had surgery to change her birth gender, is mugged after leaving an LGBTQ+ club in downtown Toronto. A police officer, Jason, has given her a ride home (she lives with Geri).

Note: Geri asks Krystal about her mask. The novel is set post-pandemic, but Krystal is a tad paranoid and often wears a mask.

The excerpt:

The door to the flat opens and Krystal enters with Jason, a tall lanky black man in uniform, behind her. “I hope you don’t mind,” she says, “but I invited Jason in for a late night coffee.”

“Mind? Not at all,” says Geri. “More importantly, are you okay? What happened? Let me see that shiner. Where’s your mask?”

“All will be explained,” says Krystal. She turns to Jason. “Come in, come in, and thanks so much for driving me home.”

“To serve and protect and all that,” Jason says with a toothy smile.

“Have a seat,” Geri says. “I’ll put the coffee on. And Krystal, tell me what the heck happened.”

Jason sits in a chair and Krystal sits on the couch. “It really was nothing,” she says. “I left Woody’s and was taking a short cut to the subway stop on Wellesley, walking down a laneway, when three kids jumped out of nowhere, started calling me faggot, and took me down. But I got in some licks too. See.” She holds up the bruised knuckles of her right hand to show Geri who is bringing cups of coffee to her and Jason. “They ripped off my mask, but my wig stood tall.”

“Your wig was a tad dishevelled when we brought you in,” Jason says with a smile.

“A tad, maybe, but still on my head.”

“I hope you gave her hell for taking the laneway,” Geri says to Jason while giving him his cup of coffee.

“Trust me,” Jason says, “I did. But I don’t know if it sunk in.”

“I got a good look at them,” says Krystal. “There was one of those motion detector lights on the garage I was passing when they jumped me. The light came on and there they were–three evil faces.”

“She gave us a good description. They were probably kids from the suburbs. Regardless, chances of finding them are slim. But we know what they look like, thanks to Krystal.”

Geri sits on the couch. “What a night. For you, not me,” they say.

“Krystal tells me that you are a comedian,” says Jason. He sips his coffee. “One with problems with the police. She wondered about inviting me in.”

“Hey,” says Geri, “you’ve taken great care of Krystal, drove her home and saved me taxi fare. I may have some issues with cops but trust me, all that you did is appreciated.” Geri sips their coffee and puts their mug down on the wicker end table next to the couch. “You seem like a nice guy and you’ve been so freaking helpful tonight…”

“But?”

“Do we want to go there?” says Krystal.

“I don’t mind,” says Jason. “I’ve only been on the force for two years, and the more I know about what people think, and why, the better cop I’ll be.”

“Okay,” says Geri. “As nice a person as you are, and no matter how good at your job you are, you can’t help but be a bad cop because there are no good cops.”

“Interesting statement,” says Jason as Krystal slumps down. “Do tell where you’re coming from.”

“Well,” says Geri leaning forward, “I’ve had my run-ins with cops at protests and just walking on the streets. For instance, one time I witnessed an extremely rough take down of a black kid by a cop so I started to film it on my cell phone, that was when I could afford a cell phone. All of a sudden, a second cop takes me down and smashes my phone. I was charged with obstruction. All I did was film an arrest. My case didn’t go to court because the charges were dropped. It was like the charges were a warning shot fired across my bow: back off or else…”

“Sorry you had such a negative experience,” says Jason. “We often react when we don’t know what’s going to happen, to protect the public and ourselves.”

“The public was being beaten by a cop.”

“There are some over aggressive cops, even bad apples.”

“And some not so bad apples,” says Krystal.

“It’s not just that,” says Geri. “I don’t know how far you want to go with this.”

“We’re just talking,” says Jason. “I promise my gun will stay holstered.”

“Let me ask you this, then. Do you know cops on the take?”

“If I don’t have to name names, I’ll say ‘yes’.”

“Do you report them?”

“Well, no…”

“Do you know cops who have assaulted or wrongfully arrested black people, gay people, or marginalized folks?”

“It happens, but it’s nothing that I’ve ever done.”

“Have you reported any cops who have done that?”

“No, but…”

“Are there other cops who don’t commit such crimes?”

“A vast majority of us.”

“But they know of such crimes, and say nothing?”

“Yes, but…”

“If I knew Krystal had robbed a bank…”

“Which I have not done and am not going to do,” interjects Krystal.

“…and I said nothing, would I be breaking the law?”

“Depending on the circumstances, you could be charged with aiding and abetting.”

“It’s not my job to serve and protect, but I’d be breaking the law. But it’s your job to serve and protect and you are not reporting crimes.”

“It’s complicated.”

“Of course it is. You have a good job and you don’t want to be ostracized by fellow officers or your union, so you say nothing.” Geri reaches for their coffee which has gone cold, and takes a sip. “Don’t get me wrong,” they continue, “I am sure that a minority of cops commit violent or heinous crimes. But some do commit them. But no cops report the crimes, which is committing a criminal act. Hence all cops, even nice guys like you, are bad cops.”

“He makes a point,” interjects Krystal.

Jason rubs his forehead. “I know what you are saying, I really do. Growing up black, I had problems with the police and thought that by becoming a cop I could work to help change things from the inside. But it’s not easy. It takes time.”

“Trust me,” Geri says. “I don’t expect you to start reporting the bad stuff you know or to give up your job just because Geri has a beef with the police.”

“Appreciate that,” Jason laughs. “But I will think more on what we’ve talked about, and the complexities of it all.”

The three folks sit quietly for a moment, having nothing more to say.

“And on that note,” Jason says, breaking the silence that has enveloped the room, “I should take my leave.” He gets up. “Krystal, do take care of yourself. Geri, it was good to meet you.”

Geri gets up and they and Jason shake hands.

Krystal says, “I know the chances of you catching my assailants are slim, but if you do find them, I’d love to talk with them. Let them know that if they agree to meet with me, to let me talk with them, I won’t lay charges.”

“I’d want to throw the book at the assholes,” Jason says. “But I guess that’s just me.”

“I’d join you in throwing the book at them too, I confess,” says Geri.

Jason laughs.

“I’ll walk you out,” says Krystal.

* * * *

That was an excerpt from my novel, Geri. You can read more about the book here.

Ch 1: Geri: A Post-Pandemic LGBTQ+ Novel About Something

Geri: A Post-Pandemic LGBTQ+ Novel About Something

Find out how to get a free PDF or epub of book at end of Chapter 1.

Dedication: This book is dedicated to the Rainbow, including all my LGBTQ+ family members and friends.

“When all . . . are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” — Barack Obama


Chapter One

Geri Sender takes to the Klub de Komedy stage, with a red neon Klub de Komedy sign blazing behind them. They are in their early thirties, just over five feet tall, a solid build if somewhat slim-chested, wearing dark blue jeans, a tie-dyed pink t-shirt, and a carpentry belt with various tools in it. They pull up their carpentry belt which has slipped below their hips, brush back their rainbow streaked hair, place their hands to the sides of their deep-set eyes and peer into the audience in the small, dark room. They take a deep breath and begin.

“We’re four months into the year 2025. Six months after the coronavirus vaccine. Hope you’ve had your shot.” They flex a bare arm. “I’ve had mine. Still red and blotchy. But at least the headaches, nausea, and exhaustion have gone away. Not sure what’s worse: coronavirus or the reaction to the coronavirus vaccine.

“And we are officially five hundred years from 2525, the song by Zager and Evans recorded in 1968. They probably didn’t think that man would still be alive or that woman would survive by 2525. Or they wouldn’t have written such crappy lyrics.”

There is no laughter. Not even a mild guffaw.

“Okay, you have to know the lyrics to get that joke. It’s like the original computer coding guys didn’t think there’d be a year 2000, hence Y2K…”

Again, no laughter.

“Anybody remember Y2K? No? Must be a millennial crowd tonight. Anybody want to sing 2025 with me?”

There is some nervous shuffling of chairs in the audience.

“Ah, that explains the zero hits for the song on YouTube.” They clear their throat. “You know what song has a billion hits on the Tube? Breakin’ Up Is Hard To Do. Speaking of which, my partner, ex-partner, found it easy to do. She says, ‘If you get a penis, then I can’t get with you.’ Now I don’t know for certain that I want a penis. I think I do. But balls? Those wrinkled, dangly bits of flesh? How do guys put up with them? If I go for a penis, I wonder if it comes with balls? Maybe balls are optional. In which case, I’ll pass. Just a dick will do. Stick shift.”

At last, laughter.

“My partner, ex-partner… have to get used to saying that… still lives in the same house that I live in. Yes, today’s modern relationship. All the issues of living together; no sex. Between the two of us, we can’t afford the rent. That’s why two friends are moving in. Between the four of us, we still won’t be able to make the rent, but hey, when we get evicted, we’ll have a built in moving crew…”

Geri does five more minutes of comedy to a few laughs, pulls their hammer out of their tool belt, twirls it like a gun, and slips it back into the belt. They take an exaggerated bow to a smattering of applause, and exit stage right.

They go back stage where they meet Gaston, another comedian, loosening up his vocal cords. Geri notices some white powder on Gaston’s shirt. “You might want to wipe off your shirt before you go on.”

“Thanks,” says Gaston as he wipes the powder off his shirt into one hand and inhales it through one nostril. “Hey, good set.”

“It was crap,” says Geri.

“They applauded you off the stage.”

“I presume that they were happy to see me go. Besides, I hear next to nothing when I’m on stage. It’s as if I’m in a comedic trance. A great silence descends upon me. When I’m done, I exit stage right like Snaglepuss. Or did he exit stage left?”

*     *     *

“It’s less than two months until Pride,” Geri says to Ellie. Their rainbow-streaked black hair is shaved at the sides but longish at the front with several rainbow streaks flopping over their eyes. “I know we’re not together, but do you want to go to the Pride Parade with me?” They are sitting beside Ellie on a dilapidated couch, with strips of duct tape holding its faded tartan upholstery together.

“I don’t see why not,” says early thirty-something Ellie Kim, a waifish ponytailed brunette with an aquiline nose, high cheekbones and bright yellowish-hued skin. Her jeans are tight; her green top is loose. “Unless you’re with somebody else by then. Or I am. Not that I’m looking. In fact, if you were to tell me you’ve given up thoughts of getting a penis, I’d tell you that I’ve given up thoughts of breaking up with you.” Ellie is eating post-dinner popcorn. “I will always be fond of you, but… Penis? A girl has got to draw the line somewhere.”

Geri leans forward and reaches for some popcorn. “Hey,” says Ellie. “You said you didn’t want any.”

“I changed my mind. Besides, you can’t eat a full bag. You’re just going to toss the leftovers.”

Ellie holds up the clear glass popcorn bowl to the living room light, a bare bulb overhead dangling on a dark, twisted wire, and squints as if measuring the quantity. “Okay, but no more than three or four handfuls.”

“Other than a penis,” says Geri as they fish a fistful of popcorn out of the bowl, “I’d still be me.”

“Shouldn’t ‘me’ be ‘they’?”

“I’d still be they? Me? They? Me is a neutral pronoun so I think it works. But I’m not sure. The non-binary dictionary has still to be written.”

Ellie laughs and scoops popcorn out of the bowl. “You know I still love you. I just could not love, or even like, a penis.”

“Ah, when did you become so narrow minded?”

“You were lesbian when we met, as was I. You became non-binary shortly after we moved in together. I was still gay. And now you think you might be transgender. As for me? Gay. Gay. Gay. No pecker for me, thank you.”

“I’m evolving,” says Geri.

“Let me know when you grow legs and can walk on land.” Ellie reaches for the remote. “Anything good on tonight?”

*     *     *

Ellie is dressed for work in a blue dress and black leather flats. She is sitting on the couch eating breakfast when Geri comes out of the spare bedroom they are now sleeping in, wearing a ratty robe, yawning, and scratching their butt.

“How romantic,” Ellie says and she spoons another scoop of cereal out of her bowl. “I think even if you weren’t thinking of growing a penis, we’d be breaking up.”

“I’ve got nobody to get dolled up for,” Geri says as they pull a bowl out of a cupboard in the tiny kitchen, place it on the cracked laminated counter, and fill it with cereal. “Did you make coffee?”

“Pot on the stove, no?”

“And have you seen my tool belt? I told Nadir that I’d fix his garage door hinges. He said he’d cut fifty dollars off the rent, which is two weeks overdue.” Geri pours a cup of coffee. “I’ve got no rent money. A few bucks, if I don’t buy new socks or underwear.”

“And I have a few bucks coming from my part-time minimum wage job today, but I have to shop for some food on my way home. Or we don’t eat. Speaking of work, I have an early shift at Rainbow Theatre today. Box office administrivia. Frankie, our new recruit, has the late shift covered.”

“Just think, if I was a better comedian, we’d have money, and I wouldn’t have to do carpentry and repair work.”

“But you’re not, so you do.”

“Thanks for the support. I’d break up with you if you hadn’t already broken up with me.” Geri puts down their coffee, pours milk into their cereal, and then picks up their mug. They look into it, as if inspecting it, and then move to the old armchair across from the couch, placing their bowl of cereal on the ottoman that does not match any furniture in the room. “How goes the play writing?”

“Got to go to work,” says Ellie as she gets up and dumps her bowl in the sink.

“That bad,” Geri says. “Hey, don’t forget, Jorge and Krystal should be here sometime today.”

“Maybe between the four of us we can sort out the rent?”

“Maybe.” Geri swallows a mouthful of coffee and mutters to them self, “but somehow I doubt it.”

*     *     *

Thirty-something Jorge Costa is driving a Rent-A-Wreck car along Bloor Street. Krystal Orbit, also in her mid thirties, is in the passenger seat beside him, fidgeting with a rainbow-coloured facemask covering her nose and mouth.

“Ossington,” Jorge says. He is black, short, on the pudgy side with a shaved head to mask his premature balding, and a five o’clock shadow even though it’s not even noon. He’s wearing faded jeans and a black t-shirt because he thinks it is slimming. “I’m sure they said Ossington, south of Bloor. But where does Ossington hit Bloor? We’ve be driving on Bloor forever.” Jorge has pulled the front seat as far forward as he can and his nose is dangerously close to the windshield.

Krystal pulls down her mask. “It’s west of Yonge Street.” Krystal is tall and elegant, in an awkward manner. She is folded into the front seat like an accordion. Her red dress is coming off one shoulder and riding up her legs. She’s wearing a brunette wig, which she keeps on adjusting, when not fussing with her mask.

“We lived west of Yonge Street. We are west of Yonge Street. Would you take off that mask so we can pull over and ask somebody?”

Krystal holds both hands over her mask. “If we’re asking somebody, the mask stays on!”

“Krystal,” Jorge shouts. “The pandemic is over. We’ve all got vaccine shots.”

“But not the anti-vaxxers,” says Krystal. “And you don’t know what they look like. Could be anybody.”

“Well it’s not me, so take off the mask when you are in the car with me. You’re making me feel like I have the virus.”

Krystal adjusts her wig and tugs the mask down over her chin.

“I’ve been wondering,” Jorge says. “Since blondes have more fun, why did you get a brunette wig?” He unwraps a stick of chewing gum and shoves it into his mouth…

“It was on sale at The Dollar Store… Hey look,” Krystal says, pointing back at a road sign as they drive through an intersection, “Ossington.”

*     *     *

Jorge pulls into the driveway of 479 Ossington Avenue, a semi-detached, somewhat dilapidated-looking, red brick house on the east side of Ossington between Dewson and College streets. Geri and Ellie rent the first floor. “We are here,” he says.

“The eagle has landed,” Kramer replies.

“Let’s unpack and then we can take the car back to Rent-A-Wreck.”

Krystal fusses with her rainbow-coloured facemask, which is still wrapped over her chin. She pulls it up, then down again. “I have an even better idea,” she says. “Let’s unpack and then you can take the car back.”

Jorge shakes his head. “Then you have to give me your share of the car rental fee and transit fare, because I sure as hell am not walking back.”

Krystal opens her door and gets out of the car. She’s in heels and walking awkwardly. She opens the car’s passenger side back door and starts pulling out plastic bags and a pillow. “Transit fare I can do. I’ll have to owe you my half of the rental fee.”

Jorge gets out of the car and shouts across the roof. “Great. I lose my job, we lose our place, we can’t afford a cell phone plan between us, and I have to fork out the full cost of the car rental, which I don’t have!”

“Or,” says Krystal conspiratorially, “you could just drive the car back, leave it on the lot, and scoot. They don’t know where you live.”

Jorge opens the trunk and pulls out two green garbage bags and a pillow. “They have my license. I had to leave it in place of a credit card, which I also no longer have.”

“But your licence doesn’t have our new address on it. Since you no longer have a car you don’t need your licence.”

Jorge and Krystal, arms full of bags and other paraphernalia head towards the front door. Krystal is staggering in her heels.

“But I had to give them a phone number,” says Jorge.

“And?”

“I gave them Geri’s.”

“We tell Geri to deny knowing you when they call. Case closed.” Krystal bumps into Jorge, stepping on his foot.

“Ouch!” Jorge starts hopping and drops some bags. “Do you have to wear those heels?”

“I’m getting used to them. After the operation, I’ll be wearing them all the time. Even in my sleep!”

“You know,” says Jorge, “women do wear flats.”

“Not this lady. Not this lady!”

As they reach the front door, they almost collide with Nadir Knight, the mid forty-something landlord, his early forty-something wife Deepa, and their eleven-year-old son, Armaan.

“Hello,” says Nadir. “May we help you?”

“Thanks, but no need,” says Jorge. “Just moving in some stuff.”

“Timing is everything,” says Krystal. “We were just going to ring the bell to let Geri and Ellie know that we’re here.” Krystal puts down some bags and shuffles her mask, lifting it up from her chin back over her mouth and nose. “Have you had your virus shots?”

Each Knight holds up and flexes an arm. Krystal nods and pulls down her mask.

Nadir and his family squeeze by Jorge, Krystal and their stuff. “Are you having a party today?” Nadir asks.

“Moving in,” says Krystal as she picks up her bags and trips over the step leading through the front door.

Nadir looks at his wife who shakes her head.

“Cool,” says Armaan as he picks up a Pink Floyd CD that fell out of one of Krystal’s bags. “Retro.”

“I have more,” says Krystal.

“How long will you be staying?” Deepa asks.

“Not long,” says Jorge.

Krystal shuffles her bags so she can take the CD from Armaan. “Until Jorge is able to find a new job or I have my surgery and find work. Whichever comes first,” she says.

“Surgery?” asks Deepa.

“I’m transitioning to heels on a more permanent basis. Surgery is the last step.”

“So if you’ll excuse us,” says Jorge with a chuckle, “we’ll lock up when we finish unpacking.” He and Krystal carry their loads through the front door.

“If you let me borrow your Pink Floyd, I’ll lend you my Led Zeppelin,” Armaan shouts.

“You’re on,” Krystal shouts back.

“Maybe you should go to the back and speak to Geri before we go shopping,” Deepa says to her husband.

“I was just thinking that,” says Nadir.

*     *     *

Geri is unscrewing rusted hinges from the garage door when Nadir comes to the back of the house.

“How is it going with the door?” he asks.

“Good. But the door doesn’t quite fit the frame. I can trim it to reframe it and add some wood to the bottom for a better look and fit, and then paint it so you can’t see the added wood. But then you might want to paint the entire garage…”

“Or tear it down and rebuild,” says Nadir. “It was a chicken coop almost a century ago.”

“That’s an option.”

“Okay, hinges and reframing. No paint. Sounds like a bigger job than we discussed, so one hundred dollars off the rent?”

“Sounds fair.”

“Speaking of which…” Nadir pauses. Geri says nothing. “May’s rent is two weeks overdue.”

“Ellie gets paid today, but has to buy groceries. She lost her insurance company job a while ago and is earning the minimum wage part time at Rainbow Theatre, the LGBTQ-plus community theatre she works for.” They turn a loose screw that does nothing but spin in place. “I have a paid gig at the end of the week.”

“Comedy?”

“Carpentry. The comedy clubs in Toronto pay very little. The queer comedy clubs pay even less, if at all. In fact all of the comedy clubs in the city pay very little or don’t pay at all, unless you are headlining.”

“And your friends? The ones moving in unannounced?”

“Ah, they’re here?” Geri pulls pliers out of their tool belt and tugs at the lose screw. “It’s only temporary.”

“Yes, until one finds a job or the other one has an operation of some sort.”

“You talked to them.”

“You know,” says Nadir changing the subject, “I am in charge of organizing the bank’s head office Pride gala. It will be held the Saturday before the Pride Parade.”

Geri pries the screw out and starts to unscrew the next one in the hinge. “You’ve done okay for yourself at Canada One Bank.”

“I have a business degree from university back home, and was able to find decent work here once I took some human resources night school courses.”

“Two screws to go in this hinge,” says Geri.

“I saw you on YouTube, doing your comedy routine. It was funny, although there must have been a sound problem because I couldn’t hear the audience’s laughter.”

“Yes, sound problems.”

“We lost our Pride gala comedian. Left for New York a couple of days ago. Says he is booked solid on a U.S. tour and won’t be coming back for Pride. If you could tone down your routine for the corporate crowd, we could use you at our gala. It pays enough to cover rent for May and June.”

“You mean we wouldn’t owe any rent until…”

“July first,” Nadir says. “But you’d have to make your routine suitable for our corporate crowd.”

“Give me some time to think on it,” says Geri as they successfully unscrew a hinge screw.

“Two days, maximum,” Nadir says. “Then I go to the next person on my list.”

“Just how many LGBTQ-plus comics do you know?”

Nadir shakes his head. “Two month’s rent. But I need to know in two days.”

*     *     *

Jorge and Ellie, back from work, are sitting in the living room, Ellie on the couch. Jorge is in one of two chairs across from the couch, feet on the ottoman. Krystal is walking circles around the room, rainbow-coloured facemask around her chin, trying to stay balanced on her heels. Geri, finished his work on the garage door, enters the room, tool belt around their waist.

“Hey folks!” he calls to Jorge and Krystal. “Welcome to our abode.”

“Good to see you,” Krystal says.

“Thanks for putting us up,” says Jorge.

“Not a problem, as long as you don’t mind sleeping on the couch and the floor.”

“Ellie was telling us that you are, um, sleeping in separate rooms,” says Jorge.

“But still loving each other,” Geri says as they sit on the couch beside Ellie and playfully put an arm around her. “So how’s the pasta?”

“Boiling. Not yet el dente,” Ellie says. “How are the hinges?”

“Repaired.”

Jorge shoves a stick of chewing gum into his mouth. “Ellie is not your real name, is it?” he says. “Your real name is a Korean name that starts with E, like Eunji.”

“Did you look that up on Google?” says Ellie. “It is and always will be Ellie. My folks were born in Coquitlam, B.C. I moved here to attend theatre school at Ryerson. What about Jorge? That’s not a black man’s name.”

“Oh, this is a good one,” says Krystal who plops down on the other chair in the room.

“My father was Slavic, my mother was Jamaican,” Jorge says. “When I was born they flipped a coin to see who got to name me.”

“So your father won,” says Ellie.

“Here it comes,” Krystal says.

“Actually,” says Jorge, “my mother won. She loved dad so much, she called me Jorge.”

“See,” says Krystal rubbing her hands together.

“My father got to give me my middle name.”

“Casmir?” says Ellie.

“Wait for it,” says Krystal leaning forward.

“Jamal,” says Jorge. “He loved her too.”

“JJ!” says Ellie.

“What about you Geri?” asks Jorge.

“Nothing fancy. I’m as white as they come. British and Maltese.”

“Maltese aren’t white,” says Jorge.

“Of course they are.”

“They’re more, I don’t know, tan.”

“Tan is not a race,” says Geri. “Not that I care what colour I am.”

“But when it comes to gender…” says Ellie.

“I’m checking on the pasta,” says Geri. They get up and go into the kitchen. “Hey, who wants a beer?”

“Beer,” calls Ellie.

“Way more beer,” says Krystal.

“Way, way more beer,” sings Jorge.

Geri and Ellie laugh.

*     *     *

The four friends are sitting on the living room couch and the two mismatched chairs, plates in lap, eating spaghetti.

“Sorry there’s no room in the kitchen for a table,” says Geri. “We normally use the ottoman as our table, but there’s really not room enough on it for four plates.”

“It’s a small place, but laps will do fine for the plates,” says Jorge.

“Delicious,” says Krystal as she slurps back pasta, mask around her chin.

“Considering what we had for breakfast and lunch,” says Jorge.

“We didn’t have breakfast or lunch,” Krystal says.

“My point,” says Jorge. “But yes, it is delicious.”

“Sauce straight out of a jar,” says Ellie.

“And pasta straight out of boiling water,” says Geri. “Sorry about the lack of parmesan cheese.”

“Do you know how expensive parmesan is?” asks Ellie.

“Not a problem,” says Krystal, rolling a forkful of pasta and lifting it to her mouth.

“You made quite the impression on our landlord,” says Geri.

“He was there, with wife and kid. We had to say something,” Jorge says.

“Anyway, here’s our apartment rental deal,” says Geri as they put their empty plate on the ottoman. Ellie gets up and heads for the kitchen. “There’s no more pasta,” Geri calls after her. She turns around, sits back down on the couch, and tosses her empty plate on top of Geri’s plate.

“So, what’s the rental situation?” asks Jorge.

“Ellie quit a job a while ago. She didn’t like being an insurance company secretary,” says Geri.

“Code for I got fired, but glad to go,” says Ellie as she slumps on the couch.

“But she’s now working for the Rainbow Theatre.”

“Part-time. At minimum wage.”

“I’m doing some stand up…”

“Earning less than minimum,” says Ellie.

“About the same as you make for writing your play, the one that you are not writing,” say Geri. “I have a few carpentry gigs coming up, that pay. And…” Geri pauses and rubs their nose as Krystal gets up and starts to totter around the living room.

“Don’t mind me,” she says. “I’m listening. Just have to keep practicing in these things. I don’t know how we women do it.”

“And?” asks Jorge.

“Nadir has asked me to do a stand up gig at Canada One’s Pride gala. Pays two months of rent.” Krystal bumps into the living room wall. “But I’d have to tone down my routine for his corporate crowd.”

Krystal leans against the living room wall and sinks to the floor. “So, we’re in. Rent free for two months.”

“Yes!” says Jorge.

“Not so fast,” says Ellie holding a hand to her head. “I think I know what’s coming.”

“I don’t know if I can do it,” says Geri. “I’m thinking about it, but don’t know if I can sell my comedic soul to the bank.”

“What’s to think?” says Jorge. He gets up and goes over to Krystal. “You take out this, that, and the other thing.” He puts out his hand and Krystal grabs hold. “Add whatever, whenever, wherever. And we’ve got two months rent free.”

Geri looks over their shoulder at Jorge pulling Krystal up. “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t have to do it.”

“Hey,” says Jorge, “if I could do accounting for a couple of years, then you can tone down one routine.”

“But you hated accounting. And you no longer do it,” says Geri.

“I didn’t hate accounting. I hated the company I worked for and didn’t get along with the people I worked with. If I had to go back to it, I could,” says Jorge.

“Good,” says Geri. “Because if I don’t take this gig, you might have to.”

“Take the gig,” Jorge says. He and Krystal sit back down in their chairs. “Take the freakin’ gig.”

“Krystal,” says Ellie, “Any modeling gigs lined up?”

Jorge snorts as Krystal straightens her dress and wig. “My new job doesn’t pay,” she says.

“You’re a volunteer?” asks Ellie.

“Not really,” says Krystal. “I am doing what I have to do–physically and psychologically–to transition to who I should be. Money doesn’t come with that. Thank goodness for health care.”

“And I’m looking for a new job and a new relationship…” says Jorge.

“Not necessarily in that order,” says Krystal.

“…So money is a tad tight right now for all of us. So take the gig. For all our sakes.”

“I’m thinking on it.”

“In the meantime,” says Jorge, “if I can help you with anything you’ve got going, let me know.”

“What do you know about carpentry, or comedy?”

“I can hold nails. You hammer them. Or hold wood while you cut it.”

“Well now, that would be funny.”

Read more about Geri online.

To get a free PDF or epub of Geri, email paulmslima@gmail.com with subject line “Geri PDF” or “Geri epub”.

To read about all the books (20+) written by Paul Lima, go to http://www.paullima.com/books/

Free PDF of “Geri…”, my first novel

Get a free PDF of “Geri: A Post-Pandemic LGBTQ+ Novel About Something”–my fist novel. (Okay, technically my second as the first was written under a pseudonym, and that’s if we don’t count the two unpublished ones. But you get what I mean.

To get your free PDF, email paulmslima@gmail.com with the subject line: “Geri PDF”.

You can read more about Geri here: www.paullima.com/geri/, and if you don’t read PDFs but are interest in the novel, you can buy the print, Kindle or e-pub versions of the book (prices have been kept as low as possible!).

By way of short summary: Geri is, in some ways, a parody of heterosexual TV series–such as Seinfeld, Friends and The Big Bang Theory–but it is its own story: an LGBTQ+ story that takes place in Toronto and addresses head-on many issues that members of the LGBTQ+ community, and visible minorities, face and must deal with on a daily basis.

High Park Allotment Gardeners Banned from Parking Near Gardens

For Immediate Release

High Park Allotment Gardeners Banned from Parking Near Gardens
Elderly and disabled gardeners forced to carry in supplies and carry out produce up long steep hill

Toronto, ON – September 30, 2020 — Allotment gardeners who rent 109 garden plots in High Park were banned by City Hall, Parks and Recreation on June 5, 2020 from driving vehicles down a significant hill, a winding 750-foot lane, that ends at the allotment garden parking area. This is the first time since the allotment gardens were established in High Park in 1974 that driving down the hill and parking near the gardens has been forbidden.

Throughout the growing season, gardens are planted, tended and food is harvested. In addition, gardens need ongoing maintenance requiring tools and materials throughout the season.

In spring, bed and soil preparation and planting are labour intensive and require more tools and other materials. Summer is maintenance, pest control, ongoing harvest, cleaning and replanting, fall is again very labour intensive with final harvesting, preparing for winter and planting for spring. High Park‘s new policy has prevented or significantly hampered gardeners from being able to access and tend their gardens, battle weeds, improve their plots, tend to bed frames and soil health, bring in tools and harvest through the spring, summer and into the fall.

“Most gardeners in High Park are seniors, some well into their 80s, expecting to enjoy the fruits of their retirement in a safe place, to exercise at their own pace and to have the satisfaction of being productive and engaged in their own food security. Some use walkers or canes, have heart conditions, age related limitations, artificial joints, injuries or are simply losing stamina as they age. For many, the garden is their only activity outdoors, and a rare relief from chronic isolation. And they love being here. We all do. But the hill is a real struggle for a lot of us. Honestly I worry about someone dropping on that hill,” says Allotment Gardens Committee Chair, Lyn Green.

Green continues: “Gardeners, especially seniors, are being robbed of an activity in the fresh air, a rare chance to be safely social, preserve their mental health, and make perhaps the last joyful contribution to the quality of their lives and those of their families.”
This arbitrary decision to forbid parking near the allotment gardens has become an unjustifiable obstacle, adds Green. To be required, especially in hot weather, to climb the hill after hours of working in the garden, often several times a day, while carrying produce and tools, is unreasonable, punitive, onerous and actively obstructs reasonable and safe access to garden plots.

Importantly, with the allotment gardens in the middle of the park, Allotment Lane is the only road access should a medical emergency occur at the allotment gardens. EMS vehicles are now faced with padlocked gates blocking access to that area, when time may be a critical factor to someone’s survival.

“Covid 19 has recently brought into sharp focus issues such as food security and our treatment of our most vulnerable citizens, seniors especially. This parking ban has made everything significantly more difficult and much less safe,” says Green.

No demonstrable reason for the parking ban decision by Toronto Parks and Recreation administration has been given other than a vague “for the gardeners’ safety.” Attempts to block car access have occurred every year for the past 5 years or more, each year citing different, unsubstantiated reasons. All attempts have been withdrawn after gardeners protested. This year, despite numerous written protests, the gardeners have been unsuccessful in having parking access reinstated.

The Gardeners’ new emergency Allotment garden rental contract with the city, which had to be signed before access would be allowed to gardens that had already been paid for in February, was altered in May, to include understandable Covid 19 restrictions, and also, without warning or explanation, a parking restriction clause: “Parking MAY not be allowed.” Ironically, during the Covid crisis, the ban on vehicle access has in fact made the gardeners less safe than before the changes.

Since the ban was enforced in early June, letters to the supervisor of High Park, to Parks and Recreation at City Hall, the constituency’s City Councillor, Gordon Perks, even Mayor Tory, have been answered with form letter replies or silence. Dozens of distressed, angry gardeners have written letters and called through every available channel with similar results.

“We have been offered no negotiation, or solutions, seen no willingness to accommodate the needs of the garden plot renters. We seek only reinstatement of the parking access that has been allowed us safely for 45 years. Gardeners are faced now with being forced to give up plots that in some cases they have tended for decades. Renewal notices for the 2021 season will be sent next February. Decisions about planting for next season are happening now. We seek to raise public awareness of our issues and concerns,” says Green.

– END –

For more information, contact Lyn Green: lmasongreen@teksavvy.com

65-year-old me writes 14-year-old me

Here’s a challenge for anybody who wants to have some writing fun. Write a letter from yourself at your current age to a younger (pick an age) you. Maybe even post it in your blog or on your Facebook page.

Here is a letter from my 65-year-old self to 14-year-old me:

Dear Paul,

Remember how you used to think you would be dead by 30? Well, I have news for you. You make it to more than twice that age. How much longer you have, I don’t know. But here we are at 65. If you don’t mind, I’d like to give 14-year-old you a few things to think about.

I know you will soon stop trying to learn how to play guitar. Do yourself a favour. Keep on plucking away at it. You will never be Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton, but it doesn’t matter. Plucking out tunes is something you can do at parties and when alone in your room. It will be something that will keep you company and make you feel good.

Also, when you enter grade 9 you are going to ask to take typing, and will be turned down and forced to take vocal music. Don’t accept it. Fight the power. You want to type out the poems you write now, but you will be going to university and will have to type your essays. Also, you will become a professional writer, a successful freelance writer and trainer, an author of non-fiction books and then a novelist. Writing will be so much easier if you know how to type. So insist on taking typing. (FYI: You will never be able to sing a note worth a damn!)

Keep on writing. Your little poems and short stories. Oh and the two novels your write in your thirties? Don’t toss them after completing the first drafts of each. I am not saying you have to publish everything you write. I am saying that if you save them, you just might change your mind about them and self-publish them. Self-publishing is something you will learn how to do with your non-fiction books and the two novels that you are now working on.

As for the novel you will write and publish under a pseudonym, I am not sure if you should publish it under your name or not. It’s a nasty bit of writing. Oh, I know where you were coming from when you wrote it and why you used a pseudonym. Just not sure if you want to put your name to it. Maybe if you live to 80, you will write the 65-year-old me and tell me what to tell you. By the way, you sold a couple more copies last month.

We know your parents and most of your extended family on both sides are fundamentalist Christians–Pentecostals, or cult cubs–and you are not. I’m not sure why you never bought into it considering where your extended family is coming from. But no matter the why, congratulations for not falling for the fundamentalist myth. I want you to know that you become an active atheists, participating in atheist forums on something called Facebook. (Don’t worry about what that is now; you and about a billion other people will learn how to use it.)

Something you might want to think about: wear your atheism on your sleeve earlier in life. You are good at it. You’ve even written a book about it: The Atheist Chronicles: Why the Beliefs of Theists of Every Stripe Are So Unbelievable. Self-published, like all your other books. And you’ve sold a number of copies. Speaking of self-publishing, you will meet an independent publisher who will publish your first book, a business-writing book. When you meet her, ignore her. She’ll make a mess of the format and you will have to learn how to self-publish in a hurry because you need the book for a night school business-writing course that you are teaching. As soon as you hear the words “self-publishing,” learn how to do it. It’s not difficult. In fact, you will eventually make a few dollars doing it for others and you will write a book about self-publishing.

Oh, and another important word: HTML. You will learn it, but only rudimentarily HTML–enough to produce your own website, which drives a shitload of business your way. Learn more about HTML and SEO (search engine optimization). You will produce a better-looking website and attract more visitors to it, earning even more money as a freelance writer and trainer–two things you become quite good at.

I’m not suggesting that you take the plunge into freelancing any sooner than you do. You learn a lot about writing as a full-time copywriter for Radio Shack and even as a full-time administrator for Georgian College. Both jobs are in Barrie, where you move with your ex-wife. Well, she’s your wife when you move there. You jokingly refer to your time in Barrie as “ten lost years” but you learn a lot about writing, training, administration, and even discipline–things that make you a strong freelancer. So off to Barrie you go.

You also meet someone there who becomes very important to you, for about a year. Yes, it does not end well. And maybe it shouldn’t even begin… I won’t say anything more about it, and you can decide what steps to take, or not take, at the appropriate time…

And hey, don’t drink so much. You don’t become an alcoholic, and in fact you stop drinking around age 50. It’s just that you waste so much time chugging back beer, drinking wine and Manhattans–you really develop a taste for them for a while. Do you have a problem with booze? A bit of one that you overcome. But my real point is this: there is so much more you can do with your time, so much else that is more fun, fulfilling and productive–like learning how to play the guitar, learning how to type, writing more stuff and different stuff, and even learning more about teaching and training. You are a good teacher/trainer; you could be even better.

Another thing. Travel more. Not sure why you resist going places, but you do. You are a bit of a home sticker. However, when you actually get off your butt and go, you have a blast. You get to see stuff and learn about stuff and do stuff. And it gets you writing. So don’t resist it. Go! Besides, there will be a pandemic in 2020, and pretty much nobody is going anywhere. So get in more trips to different places while you can.

As for relationships, I’m not sure what to say. You end up in a good place. If you change anything along the way, you might not get there. So understand this: breaking up happens. Sometimes it is done to you; sometimes you do it. Lick your wounds and move on.

I will say this though: go ahead with the vasectomy at 25. You end up in a relationship with Lyn, a woman who has a young child, Kyah. You become a decent dad, if I dare say so, and love Lyn and your bright, beautiful, creative, articulate kid who turns 30 (holy crap!) this year.

One last thing that’s kind of difficult to say. Around 40, you get Multiple Sclerosis (MS). For a decent amount of time, you have the best kind of the disease–relapsing-remitting MS. It comes and goes. When it goes, you work and vacation and enjoy your relationship and are a good dad. When it comes, you deal with it as best you can, as does Lyn. I mean since you’ve been sick you’ve written 20 non-fiction books and a memoir and right now you are editing your novel, with ideas for two more percolating. And you walk the dog that Lyn got–hey cat person, you are on your second dog–twice a day, most days. So as sick as you are, your legs, brain, and fingers are still working, and you use them as best you can.

So that’s it from me. A couple of little changes really is all that I am suggesting. However, even if you don’t change a thing, you have a good life–a decent one that makes you mostly happy most of the time. So in conclusion, be as well as you can be, and be a little more adventurous. Things are going to be okay overall. They’re going to be okay! See you at 65.

Love,
Paul

Writing “Geri: A Post-Pandemic LGBTQ+ Novel About Something”

I am all but finished Writing “Geri: A Post-Pandemic LGBTQ+ Novel About Something”… It’s out for proofreading right now. When I get it back in a week or so, I’ll have some final edits to do, and then will self-publish the novel…

If so inclined, you can read more about it, and see the cover, here: www.paullima.com/geri/