Back to basics: So you want to write a novel?

How Not to Write a Novel

First – read this…

I’ve realised that a lot of my posts preach to the choir. Lots of in-jokes about indie writers, the behaviour of authors and reviewers on Amazon, and how not to make a twat of yourself online or while sending in submissions. Not to mention how much money you won’t be making, and the joys of sharing your book launch date with anything in the region of 10,000 other writers publishing their books on the same day.

But supposing you’re fresh to the blank page, taunted by ideas waiting to take on a form, and in love with the idea of holding your own book in your hands or gazing at it on your electronic tablet? (Trust me, if anyone’s going to be holding it in awe, you’ll be that person).

So I’m going to go all Delia Smith on you, and start at the beginning.

Starting with the simple egg – your idea, before it has hatched.

The Idea:

You start with an idea. But what genre is it? It can be anything, but it will need a description when you publish or submit, even if it’s only ‘general fiction’.

If it’s not your own idea, and another author is already minted by it, it’s only legal when it’s a ‘parody’. Make sure it has some decent jokes in, change the key names of characters and locations (viz, Barry Trotter), don’t write their exact prose, storylines, or copy their cover/title/author name verbatim, and you won’t be likely to get sued. Parodies are HUGELY popular. If you’re going to parody something that’s already massive, such as Harry Potter or Fifty… (of anything), make sure you Google search all of the “(Original title) parody/parodies” that are already published first. Even self-published authors can get stroppy if you write the same thing. Some of them are also lawyers in their spare time.

Writing parody is a good exercise if you’re new to writing, or have previously only written fan-fiction. You can’t publish fan-fiction with an ISBN or sell it online (that way litigation lies), but you can publish parody. Some territories are still sensitive about it, so the more you make it your own story, the better.

‘Memoirs’ are another opener onto first-time writing. But be aware that to avoid slaps from friends and family, and visits to Jeremy Kyle, it’s best to change all the names in your diary, and possibly your author name too. Change a few more things, then a few more, and hey presto – instant fiction, inspired by real life. But don’t publish something as ‘true-life’ when it clearly isn’t. That imaginary gryphon will be demanded as evidence.

Play with your idea for a while. Write down a list of “what ifs”. What if this happened, what if that happened? What if one of your characters turned out to be XXX? What if it was set in an asylum rather than a school? (Don’t use that one, it’s the plot of Girl, Interrupted and the movies One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sucker Punch, among many others). Keep playing until you’ve come up with the most exciting and original version of your initial idea that you can think of.

N.B: If you are writing a children’s story, avoid any themes that involve strange creatures, hairy or otherwise, hiding under their beds or turning up in their bedrooms and talking to them. Seriously. It’s just wrong. Go and have a serious chat to yourself, and start again. If you’re going to be a trusted author for young readers, any bodily hair envy and bedroom loneliness needs to be put aside while you write. These things have a way of turning up inappropriately in plotlines and passages written by the amateur author.

The audience:

It’s a good time to begin thinking about your potential audience (that’s assuming it isn’t ultimately limited only to yourself). What sort of lifestyle does your future reader have? What are their interests? (Also assuming that their primary interest isn’t to be in competition with you, feverishly typing away at their hors d’ouevre – sorry, latest ouverture/magnum opus – in their bedroom, wishing that they had a hairy chest and some good company).

Remember that if you are hoping to write with authority on any given subject, you may be in luck – and your first unknown reader will be that very expert you dream of being. So make your research the best it can possibly be. Try not to quote directly from Wikipedia, though. Especially not in speeches made by Churchill, or adventurers describing the landscape and population of Peru. You don’t want your first ever review announcing that you have quite clearly never set a heathen foot in Royal Tunbridge Wells, where the imaginary Mafia underbelly of your Victorian-era thriller is set. Yeah – better do some research first…

Characterisation vs. caricature:

Again, this where you have to make a distinction between general fiction, and parody.

If your hero is a time-travelling sock-puppet salesman assisted by various young Earthlings shanghaied on a mission to save the Universe repeatedly from the threat of laser-firing wheelie-bins powered by small gelatinous blobs, via the magical depths of his flying Portaloo – especially if his name is Doctor Why (more of a medical query than a name) – enjoy your own joke, and try again.

Or perhaps he is a 19th Century sleuth, Padlock Homes, who plays the cello, freebases Brylcreem, and stalks the streets of London in a Burberry Pack-a-Mac and matching sou’wester hat, haunted by the crimes of his nemesis Monsanto, to the ongoing befuddlement of of his male PA/secretary, Dr. Whatsapp.

We all love a quirky character. As well as making your character original (see above – or not), try not to give yours so many quirks that they are effectively crippled the moment they have to interact with anything. Whether it’s a bottle-opener, reading the mail, having a shower, talking to a shop assistant, or touching anything in the fridge.

Not every passing butterfly has to bring back six pages of traumatic (or idyllic) recall to the mind of your character. For a story to happen, your role-players need to have some functions that do not involve thoughts of a dead past love or an irrational fear of toilet paper.

You now have all you need to get writing.

Seriously – this is as good a time to start as any. Titles can come later. Synopsis can come later. Draft chapter plans if you want, or make prompt cards for certain events or plot points if you like. But the sooner you start, with your key ideas and key characters, the sooner you’ll find out if it’s an idea you want to run with, or something you lose interest in quickly, and drop. If it’s the latter, you don’t want thirty years’ worth of preparation to go to waste. Thirty minutes is long enough to have a story idea and a character idea ready in your head – and if you’re already an expert in any chosen subject matter, you don’t even need to do the essential research, because it’s already inside you.

Jump in with both feet – and remember: Innovate* don’t imitate**

*Unless it’s a parody…

**Credited to various, including Apple 😉

Let me know how you get on – and if I can answer any questions, I’ll do it in the next post.

L xxx

Netiquette for the indie author

Schmoozin' cocktail

Okay. So you’ve formatted and released your books, and established who your target audience is.

The next dilemma you’ll face, is how to market your work.

First of all, make sure you’ve written the best book that you can pull out of your head and heart. Not any other part of your body. If you’re dredging it up from elsewhere, the strain will show in every paragraph.

Secondly, make sure it has a clear and attractive cover.

Third, that the blurb is appetite-whetting enough to attract readers – don’t give too much away, but don’t be so vague that you could be describing pretty much any book. Try to avoid tag lines in the form of a question. It’s very pulp fiction noir, but if you’re not skilled in that particular genre, you’ll just come across as a lazy tag-line writer. Below are examples of weak tag lines:

~ Will he/she succeed?

~ Does love conquer all?

~ What will they do?

~ In a race against time, can they beat the clock?

~ Will truth/justice/honour prevail?

The above are all too vague and over-used. Number four, in particular, basically describes everything from the school run to the TV quiz show Countdown. You don’t actually need a tag-line. Just write a decent story, package it nicely, and keep your fingers crossed that enough folk will enjoy it to recommend it to one another. That’s the best form of promotion, because it doesn’t actively involve you.

I have one opinion about asking for reviews:

How to lose friends and irritate people.

Amazon Kindle frowns on reviews written by friends and family. Reviews posted on request in exchange for free books have to state in the text ‘I received a free/gifted book in exchange for my honest review.’ Editors, formatters, publishers, cover designers, contributors and other people involved in the book’s development and production cannot post reviews of the book. Any reviews unearthed seen to be breaching their guidelines are unceremoniously removed without notice. You can say all you want about the practises of major publishers and their methods, but down at the other end with the indies, you have to play fair. And if the book itself doesn’t live up to a ream of glowing, paid-for or solicited reviews, it’s one of the best ways to attract a shed-load of bad ones.

I don’t ask for reviews, but I’ll happily give away books if someone thinks they’d enjoy a book I’ve written. I don’t set them homework afterwards. I’ve seen good friends of authors run at the sight of them approaching on social occasions, crying for mercy the familiar pleas of “I haven’t finished reading it yet!” or “I don’t really know how to use the computer or post reviews on Amazon!”

It’s crass to treat your friends and family as a marketing machine for your work. Do you promote them and their business? Do you give them any help or support with their dreams and ambitions, whether it’s getting them a make-over, working to create the house and garden they most want, helping them find a date, arranging for them to have the car they’ve always dreamed of driving, writing them endless job references and endorsements? Because that’s what you’re asking for, in a nutshell. There is a mentality among some authors that family and friends are there to be used. If you need private feedback or approval, or help proofreading your book, ask one or two to take a look BEFORE you publish it. Don’t ask them to do your heavy lifting afterwards.

Be dignified.

Mannequin

Remember – you are the front window for your writing.

Authors themselves are the best support network, many of whom now have learned, to their cost, that nobody close to them socially is interested in their new hobby as a self-promotion machine, and liked them better while they were still only writing in their bedroom after school with paper and pen.

I was once asked to post the same review on several sites, having genuinely written a nice one of my own volition, because I enjoyed the book. I said no, explaining to the author that having it pop up on every outlet or listing for the book would instantly imply that it had been an insincere, solicited review, possibly paid for as well. You have to put your foot down when approached about these things yourself – it turns the whole author support network into a protection racket of back-scratching. If an author then leaves you a sour comment on your book, with you having either declined to review theirs or having not read it, most likely, ignore them and move on.

Don’t sink to their level. It won’t endear you to the audience. Trolling the internet is time wasted that you could be writing a bestseller in.

Make sure you are always working on the next thing, and having new ideas. There’s nothing sadder than pimping your one solitary book for years, waiting for Hollywood to call. In the same vein, make sure that you have a life, and are taking a healthy interest in the people around you from day to day – and not in the desperate search for material for your own work. What are their dreams? What are their life stories? When was the last time they took up a new hobby? For that matter, when was the last time you did?

I’ve got to the stage now where I’m starting to receive unsolicited spam from ‘social media experts’ on sites such a FB, LinkedIn and Twitter, who haven’t looked at what I do and seen that it’s also my own job. All they trawl for is the word ‘author’ and send out a pitch for their services, announcing that I can’t possibly have the time to promote my own books as well as write and that the cost of their services is very reasonable. Which is true. I only teach others how to promote their own books, in between writing my own books. And I’ve never had to spam or apply for work. I get referred by word-of-mouth, and have to turn down or suspend jobs all the time because I’m too busy. And because my job is so easy I’m sure most folk could do it, my I.T. and technical services are damn near rock-bottom 🙂

That’s one of the reasons I’ve written these tutorials. So long as you can write a good story, format it nicely, present it in an attractive way, behave yourself online, and not alienate all of your family and friends in person, you could get lucky and sell a handful of books. The best way to sell more books, is to write more books. If your readers are keen on your material, they’ll come back for more of it.

Remember, in the real world, selling yourself online isn’t everything. Getting on with life and enjoying yourself is. Make sure you leave time for that. It’s scary how fast the time passes while following your book’s progress up and down the Kindle charts, and trying to influence it in any way possible 🙂

L xxxxx

Niche marketing – part 3: What not to pitch…

Just for fun, mostly…

Following part one and part two from last week, here’s a small insight on the gatekeeping job regarding quality control in your niche marketing strategy. In other words, the pitch for your product.

Remember, you are not targeting ‘everyone’. You must target ‘someone’. But that ‘someone’ must also pass stringent quality control tests.

If you were to market yourself as an author suggesting that your work is for any of the following, try reconsidering your pitch. Or maybe, reconsidering your actual writing:

  • Dear HarperCollins, please find attached my 380,000 word crime novel, aimed at parolees attempting the world speed record for re-arrest by providing them with some ideas.
  • Dear Mr. R. House, enclosed is my 25,000 word novella, it is aimed at teetotal virgins and window-lickers with short attention spans.
  • Dear Harlequin, would you be interested in considering my medium-length romantic comedy about an everyday girl who meets an Average Joe over a wilting cup of tea and a nice hot potted plant? I think it would be just perfect for 59-year-old cat-lady spinsters hoarding M&S carrier-bags under the stairs to make them look like they don’t shop at Lidl’s.
  • Dear Messrs Simon & Schuster, I have written a pop-up book aimed solely at Walmartians. Help me cure them.
  • Dear PacMan Millan, I am a huge fan of your video game. Would you like to purchase an idea for a book? I have not yet given it a title as I am aware that a publisher is likely to choose it for me, as well as choosing my pen-name, but I was thinking of targeting existing fans of the ‘Apple Lisa’ computer to cash in on product placements.
  • Dear Little Brown Company, I have run out of paper to write on, so please excuse the turnip. It was quite heavy to mail, so I have not included return postage. I would love to send you my book of sonnets written with Paraguayan male youth fraternity members of Opus Dei in mind who have lost a limb or a head to frostbite. Please rush me 25 sheets of unmarked A4 paper and a Hewlett Packard ink cartridge so that I can print it out for you.

Remember – you can do better than that. Don’t be so specific that your entire potential readership could be contained in a small igloo, Pop-Tent, or holding cell. Be smart. Don’t describe real people, they will scare the crap out of the publishers (and the public). Use your imagination – you know, that thing you used when writing your book in the first place while endless dollar, Euro and pound signs (or turnips) floated before your eyes… 🙂

Aphex Twin ‘Window Licker’

Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost recommends the video to this track, allegedly… search for it if you dare…

Niche marketing – the psychology behind success

Yesterday, I caught a few minutes of Real Housewives of Vancouver, where business-minded Mom ‘Ronnie’ was in a design planning meeting, regarding her idea for a new wine brand that she proposed to call ‘Rehab’.

The ad agency were asking all the right questions, which Ronnie really didn’t seem to understand. Who was the product aimed at? What was the story behind it? What image or personality did it have? What occasion would it be suited to?

Ronnie, like many first-time writers I’ve spoken to, didn’t want to tie herself down to a ‘niche market’. She wanted an instant, across-the-board success. “It’s for everyone” she said. “People drinking at home, or during the day, or getting ready to go out…”

Nothing starts out aimed at ‘everyone’ unless it’s toilet paper.

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No comment… 🙂

The problem isn’t the concept of ‘niche marketing’. The problem is the widely-held misconception of how niche marketing works. The intent and purpose of ‘niche marketing’.

The misconception is that you ‘find your niche market’ and only target them as your consumers. This is only correct if your product has age restrictions, usually enforced by law.

Let’s say you are a science fiction author who wants to break into the crossover sci-fi romance market. You have penned the equivalent of Star Wars. You immediately want to reach “everyone” as Ronnie stated.

You don’t start with everyone. You start with the design concept for your one perfect reader in the whole world. Just one.

And then you make everyone else in the world want to be that reader.

Your one perfect reader is the hottest guy (or girl) on the science campus. They wear designer loafers bought on eBay and own an epic collection of zombie t-shirts from online artists. They’ve met Stephen Hawking. They drink cherry brandy and Coke because it tastes awesome. They prefer DeviantArt to Pinterest, listen to Calvin Harris, and their ideal party weekend would be a trip to Vegas to see Britney Spears live in residence. They own at least one of the original Star Wars branded pieces of merchandise. You never see them play or hear them bragging, but you just know they’d thrash you at pool or poker. They’re an expert on the moon of Enceladus, and will tell you all about it while making you the best vegan Pad Thai noodles that you’ve ever eaten in your life.

Does that reader sound appealing to a sci-fi author? Damn right it does. And probably to some other potential readers as well. Who are Googling Pad Thai recipes as we speak.

Vegan Black Metal Chef: Pad Thai

Here’s another example. Cristal champagne. Originally commissioned for Russian royalty in the 1800s, with a bottle designed to defy assassination attempts, it wasn’t available to the public until 1945. It was so exclusive and its potential market so tiny, that to drink it became a badge of honour. And by the turn of the 21st century it was starting to be sloshed over mixing decks by high-profile DJs and poured all over hip-hop girls in hot tubs by rap musicians. Its niche market went from ‘virtually no-one’ to ‘virtually everyone’.

Tupac Shakur ‘Thug Passion’ – also the name of his Cristal/Alize cocktail

But that took 60 years, I hear you wail!

It doesn’t always take that long. If the design for your perfect reader is enviable enough that everyone wants to become that reader, then reading your book – like drinking that wine – will by proxy make them that reader. In their minds, at least.

With alcohol, very few people want to see themselves as the lonely idle bastard sitting at home in a string vest and one shoe on, watching Homes Under the Hammer while their cat slowly expires of mange and unpaid bills drop onto the mat. That’s someone who primarily (frequently) wants and needs toilet paper. That’s ‘everyone’.

They want to see themselves at the front row on the Strip surrounded by Cristal and close friends who never throw up on them screaming themselves hoarse watching Britney Spears live, while she announces mid-performance that there’s a really hot guy right in front of her and she likes his zombie t-shirt. In fact, she’d like him to take it off so she can wear it home.

Britney Spears live, Las Vegas, in a jazz club stylee… niiiiice…  🙂

See? The niche market is not your enemy. It’s your consumer’s aspiration and future adventures. You’re just there to hold the door open a tiny chink, and allow everyone else a brief glimpse of where they could be.

The Dos Equis beer commercials spell it out for you 😉

London Book Fair 2013: After it has all sunk in…

Kobo at Clapham Junction

Kobo reader at Clapham Junction, awaiting train home after LBF13, 15th April

There’s not much I can say about this year’s London Book Fair that hasn’t been said already. Authors ruled. Early in the day on Monday, you could see the tumbleweeds blowing through EC1 – while in EC2, at the Author Lounge, it was an ants’ nest of inquisitive and industrious minds around Mark Lefebvre‘s talk ‘From E to Eternity’.

Mark Lefebvre of Kobo speaking at the London Book Fair 2013

Mark Lefebvre discussing the Zombies Run app as an example of progressing interactive e-reading experiences

The authonomy blog shared a mind-blowing fact afterwards – that around 25,000 new titles are currently being released to a worldwide audience every week (April 2013). With more and more folk picking up on how easy it is to self-publish using free ebook and POD platforms, this number looks set to continue growing exponentially.

Standing room only inside and outside the LBF13 Author Lounge

The outcome of this year’s Book Fair was that there was some traditional publishing buzz afterwards, but even the high bidders, staking claims to their meaningful contribution in the industry, couldn’t contend with the sheer overwhelming presence of (and interest in) the independent authors at this year’s event.

Photo by Kobo Writing Life

To me, the most daunting thing facing a writer today is the sheer number of people doing it. The same thing has happened with the indie music industry and indie film industry over the past 15 years.

Suddenly everyone is producing work, and putting it online, and trying to reach people with a taste for their style using the promotional platforms available – and while the creative market is exploding, the audience is progressively shrinking. As consumers, we don’t have enough hours to see, hear and read everything out there (even less so if we’re also the creators, and need most of that time to be creative ourselves), and the chances of finding our perfect entertainment to fill our small amount of spare time, although it may be out there, is tiny – like hunting for our own personal needle in a haystack full of needles.

Which is why it’s important to ensure that your creative hobby is fulfilling you, before you even conceive of who else might appreciate it. You are your primary audience.

The major concern that I’ve heard other authors voice recently, is that their one fear about publishing their work is “being judged on the content” which suggests they’re not writing for themselves, or from personal experience, but for some seedy underbelly kind of voyeuristic audience that they wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley, let alone at a book signing.

If you wouldn’t want to be judged on the content of your writing, why are you writing for that particular perceived audience? For the potential money? For the notoriety? Are you simply in denial of a fetish for that specific genre yourself? Writers who enjoy their work, and are writing in a way that reflects them accurately, aren’t suffering from that fear. Anyone meeting them will find their personality consistent with the writing. They’ll leave them feeling that they were indeed the only person qualified to have written that particular work, and that if it was to their taste, that they’d happily want to learn more – in effect, to spend time with that author getting to know them better through their writing.

Sometimes, as a reader, there’s nothing more disappointing than an author who doesn’t live up to their stories. The author is supposed to be ‘the authority’ on their individual writing. Not a collector of ideas applied to writing, in order to make a fast buck.

Sometimes, that’s the reason true life stories are more interesting than fiction. You already know that it really happened to the author, which makes them an interesting person – one with a story to spend time on.

An author whose only personal story is that they churn out ideas, like a machine, in the best tried-and-tested manner to generate income, may be running an effective business, but are they living a life worth sharing with lessons worth learning? Are they inspiring people to live differently or explore life by being the best example of that lifestyle that there is?

By accident, I found out that parody sells. I enjoy parody, as a consumer – fantasy and sci-fi parody is my favourite genre, alongside graphic novels. I wrote my first parody as a test of publishing platforms, once I’d taught myself the technical know-how to format and publish for free – which led me to publish other original works I’d written years earlier. But ironically, it’s the parody that keeps selling. Is it because it’s my favourite genre as a customer? Or just that it fits a mainstream contemporary audience?

But here’s what I wanted to write. When I was about fourteen, I read an interview with a Mills & Boon author at the time, Mary Wibberly. She had been writing romances for years and submitting them to Mills & Boon for about a decade before finally getting published (she’d even been submitting them under different author names, in imaginary fear of having been blacklisted by the editors). It made me want to write romances one day. I still do. But although I can satirize and produce parody of it, I feel like a fraud whenever I attempt more traditional ‘romance’ with a straight face, because I don’t have any romantic experience. Ideas aren’t the same as having experience. I can read all the advice books around, from writing advice by Sue Moorcroft to relationship advice by Greg and Amiira Behrendt – but in the real world where nothing remotely like romance is happening and the only nudity I see is dead and trussed up in the frozen meat counter at the supermarket, I have to kick the daydream of writing romance aside and stick to comedy and fantasy for now (and sometimes zombies, see above). I’m one of those writers that has to be identifiable to myself first, and if I tried to write something that could only be comfortably and authoritatively written by a happily married housewife or a happily dating city girl, it wouldn’t seem real to me and most likely wouldn’t seem real to anyone else.

I guess we all have dreams of creative and professional success, the same way we have dreams of achievement in our personal lives. The internet makes it possible for everyone to compete in the same playing field. Meaning that the potential for anyone to rise head and shoulders above the rest, where everyone has the same level of electronically-supported social skills at their disposal – subject to time and budget – is slim.

If you picture the internet as such a playing field, with the population of the world strolling around on it trying to get noticed with their business cards and check-lists saying ‘reviews’ and ‘advertising’ (or ‘dating profile’ and ‘has genuine recent photo’) – what would stand out to you, as a potential customer? It’s not Dragon’s Den, where you get five minutes to pitch individually. Everyone selling themselves online, is online at the same time as you. You have, at most, about 0.4 seconds to catch someone’s eye and make them look again. (If they’re an RAF pilot, about 0.1 seconds).

And your budget doesn’t stretch to getting them all sociably drunk and conveniently impressionable – and that’s even if you could fit them all into Groucho’s.

As a customer, for me, it’s in regular high street bookshops and the supermarket where I look for books, so the dream is probably still to reach one of those publishers who can distribute to those places. I’m a proud reader. I think people being able to see what I’m enjoying reading on the train is better than writing a review any day.

Although perhaps not this book… I was laughing, but I don’t think that’s what the intention behind it is…

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Weirdest thing I’ve ever read on a train… didn’t make me want to try it out, let alone read past page 45…

So, besides misrepresenting myself as a person occasionally by picking up weird cult books to read, my philosophy of ‘write what you know’ is about as flexible as it is to continually increase what I know, to a valid and confident level where I know I won’t be misrepresenting or misleading anyone else.

That way, the fear of being ‘judged on the subject/content’ as a writer doesn’t sabotage my enjoyment of writing. After all, I may be the only person who ever reads it for more than 0.4 seconds, and I wouldn’t try and delude myself with artificial knowledge and lack of experience, so why try it out on anyone else?

So like I found with parody – what you think you want from writing early on may turn into something else, leading you down other creative pathways.

How writing affects you as a person – whether it defines you or misrepresents you – is probably more important, particularly for your sanity and whether it affects how comfortable you are around other people, talking about your work. If you’re considering pushing for a career in a certain genre, or as a certain kind of writer, and want to reach those upper echelons of success obtained by JK Rowling, James Patterson and Sir Terry Pratchett – try recording yourself in an imaginary interview, answering all the most awkward questions you can imagine being thrown at you, or write down your answers. Watching it or reading it back, you’ve only got to convince yourself that you’re the star for this job.

If you don’t seem convincing as the star candidate for this subject or this story – maybe try interviewing yourself about a different genre or story. Because if your passion doesn’t come across and your personality doesn’t sparkle as you talk about your work, how are you going to convince others that it’s a story worth selling?

The real challenge is, how to stand out from the 25,000 other books being released the same week as yours… never mind in the weeks following, under the increasing deluge 😉

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Mark Lefebvre of Kobo Writing Life Author Relations at London Book Fair 2013

Zombies Run 2 app trailer

Busted – Here’s what I did this summer…

DIY brace for broken sternum

DIY nylon webbing and elastic brace for fractured sternum and disrupted sternomanubrial joint, August 2013 🙂

This injury was back in the middle of June, and I was reassured it was only bruised and that fractures to this part of the body are very unusual and would require a massive impact (I’m not going to describe it, your heads will spin). Six weeks later after starting to sustain some unusual muscle tears while practising tumbling, I realised my posture must be slightly out due to this original injury, and got a second X-ray. It turned out the first X-ray might as well have been taken from the surface of Mars, as it missed the break by miles.

Luckily it’s not something they operate on immediately, as it takes a long time to heal and they like to give it a chance to settle down by itself. So no training or practising over the summer holiday for me! Never mind that I was still training for the six weeks before it was diagnosed. It was probably good for me. I’m not very good at ‘resting’ whatever that means.

But the summer’s been good to me. I went to my first festival as an adult! Last time I went to festivals was the Polgooth Fair and Elephant Fayre in Cornwall in the 1970s and 80s, as a small kiddie, where you ate a jam sandwich and spent all day on the bouncy castles, as I remember. This year I was invited to Beautiful Days near Honiton, and it was amazing.

The Fold live in the Bimble Inn tent

The Fold performing live at Beautiful Days in the Bimble Inn tent

Curious Evenings with the Ogden Sisters in the Theatre Tent

The Ogden Sisters present a Night of Trance in the comedy Theatre Tent

Primal Scream on the Main Stage

A very blurry Primal Scream on the Main Stage

There’s too much to tell you, you’ll just have to go next year. Highlights for me, as well as the above, were the Cowboy comedy stage play, stand-up by Robin Ince, Tony Cowards and Tom Price among others, The Levellers (who came out to play football with the youngsters one afternoon as well as performing) and animal-costume theme day, which ran on into the night, with some very creative illuminated butterflies and jellyfish.

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LED Mr Men costumes

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Fire-stick twirling and juggling

It’s definitely a family festival, with no branding or sponsorship, and I hope they keep it this good, and clean and with such a great atmosphere, for many years to come. You could tell the class of folk who attended by the Airstream caravans and Hunter wellies, and the fact that the comedians couldn’t find any traditional festival crusties to pick on in the audience…

TOM PRICE: Anyone here from Wales, like me? Ah, you’re from Wales. What’s your name?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Lucien…

TOM PRICE: Lucien??! (laughs) Of course it is! I can see you practising your golf swing from here!

Lovely stuff! 🙂

Earlier, I had a few days away with family in Exmoor, and also dropped in to see the lovely Jane Alexander for tea and cake and writerly gossip while I was there. Before that, there was Hastings Pirate Day, with all the Captain Jack Sparrows you can shake a stick at… but if you want to see those, I’m going to be mean and ask you to check out their Facebook page, SPARROWS UK in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital – because it’s all in a good cause. Savvy? 🙂

L xxxxx

‘Death & The City: Cut to the Chase Edition’ free on Amazon Kindle

Death & The City: Cut to the Chase Edition

Now available free through the next 5 days (promotion ends midnight 30 July Pacific Standard Time). Click below for regional product links:

Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukAmazon.deAmazon.fr – Amazon.esAmazon.caAmazon.itAmazon.co.jpAmazon.com.brAmazon.in

Monday 29 July 2013: 

Lara Leatherstone – not her real name, she got it from an internet Porn Star Name Generator…

…And Connor Reeves, also not his real name, as it turns out – how he came by his, is less clear…

Both are obliged to work their way through the To Do List of ‘Hollywood Hit-Men’ – a breed mostly preoccupied with gold chains, impressing barmaids, and shady contracts – erasing these unwanted pests with the minimum of paperwork. Or pay.

When she’s not under surveillance by Head Office, Lara spends her time juggling a night job in bar security, an only child with a zombie fixation, and what passes for a social life in the small hours in between. And the minor matter of ongoing internal scrutiny, by her own highly-self-monitoring personality disorder.

HOW THIS EBOOK WORKS: This version of Death & The City has been adapted for you to literally ‘cut to the chase’ and skip past Lara’s longer internal thought-processes. You’ll see the hyperlinked word SKIP in the right margin, which will take you into the next action segment. If you want to return to the top of the segment you skipped, the word BACK will take you there. So depending on your reader preference – for the times when you just want to stay in the action, and for when you want to know what’s going on in that mind of Lara’s – you can either jump ahead, or read the whole thing continuously – it’s up to you.

Death & The City (c) Lisa Scullard 2008

P.S. The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum is also still free on Smashwords for all devices with promo code SW100 until the end of July – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/262618

The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Hope you all have a great summer! So far in 2013 I’ve been a cartoon character, a vampire slayer, a pirate… I’ve successfully collected new eye surgery (yay) and some heavy duty sports injuries (ouch), and I’m looking forward to being a zombie again and maybe even a Doctor Who character for events later in the year 🙂 Enjoy! xxxx

If you’d like to see ‘The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum’ featured in The Guardian…

The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

If you enjoyed The Zombie Adventures… parody novel, which I blogged here chapter by chapter last year (each post written straight off the top of my crazy head) you can now nominate it to be featured in this new Guardian series

Update: Until the end of July 31st 2013, you can download the eBook from Smashwords in their sitewide promotion for free using the promo code SW100

Guest post: Jillian Brookes-Ward

Today’s post is brought to you by my friend Jillian, who is the only writer I know to incorporate fly-fishing and raunchy romance.

I asked her to send me something about her observations of fly-fishermen, along with a sample of her novel On the Fly to share with you, to go with my otherwise strangely out-of-place videos of fly-tying that have appeared here recently… and she sent this lovely article which she had previously written for the now allegedly-defunct Fishkeep.net. Over to you, Jillian…

~ OF FUR, FEATHERS AND FLUFFY BITS ~

It is now officially Spring, and as we have changed the clocks to British Summer Time, I decided it was high time to encourage the sun to come out by packing away my winter woollies and getting out the cotton frocks. But wait, what’s this, a bald patch on the fur collar of my best suede gilet?

Could it be that moths have invaded my wardrobe? Have the pernicious little buggers munched their way through anything else – the cashmere sweater I got for Christmas for example?

Close examination of every item at possible risk showed there to be no sign of damage to anything else. It seemed that these were peculiarly selective moths.

The truth revealed the blame lay not at the chomping mandibles of an innocent insect, but much closer to home – in the thieving hands of my other half who, in an attempt to while away time in the close season, had been scouring the house looking for suitable materials with which to tie himself a new breed of fly. He thought it might be a good idea to try and invent a new pattern all his own. That way he was certain to become not only rich and famous, but renowned throughout the angling world and the envy of his peers.

‘I didn’t think you’d notice,’ says he, ‘it was only a handful.’

A handful! I now have a piece of clothing (a favourite to boot) that looks like it’s developed mange! What else had he been helping himself to? The list, not to put too fine a point on it, left me gobsmacked.

‘Remember when you thought the dog had snagged himself on the barbed wire fence and ripped off the end of his tail?’

I did, and he hadn’t. The missing chunk of tail hair had been unceremoniously hacked off with a pair of kitchen scissors and used to tie a new experimental pattern, none too successfully as it happened, and the poor hound had been forced to sport an embarrassingly naked tail tip for nearly three weeks for nought.

An effort to produce a deadly lure from mixed colour/texture human hair trimmings was just as unsuccessful. He had purloined it from the barberfest I hold in my kitchen every three months when, in order to save a few precious pounds, I use the Braun clippers on all the male heads in the household, leaving them looking like a row of short-bristled brush heads.

In the quest for ever more colourful materials, and unbeknownst to me, the male spousal unit had made an arrangement with a neighbour who kept two parrots.

‘Should they by chance happen to moult,’ he’d suggested, ‘could I please have the cast off feathers? Any colour, from any part of the bird, it doesn’t matter, I’ll think of something to do with them. Oh and by the way, if your rabbit should happen to die in mysterious circumstances, could I possibly skin it before you put it in a shoebox in a hole in the ground? Waste not, want not, you know!’

I was aghast and said, jokingly, ‘I’m going to have to keep my eye on that red squirrel when he comes for his nuts from the bird table, lest you set out after him with a pair of pinking shears and lop off his tail.’

‘No need,’ says he. ‘There’s already one in the freezer. It’s wrapped in newspaper and tucked between the peas and the battered fish portions.’

The creature had been found dead by the side of the road, he did hasten to add, as if that would excuse its present resting place under a bag of frozen vegetables.

‘There’s a pair of heron wings in there, too,’ he admitted.

‘But herons are a protected species!’ I cried, ‘You can’t have them!’

OH did explain he had come across the bird while walking the dog. The poor thing had apparently come to grief on the riverbank, having succumbed to the recent devilishly cold spell. As it was already dead, he smuggled the frozen corpse home, only to find he couldn’t get the whole bird into the freezer because its beak stopped the lid from closing properly and so had to resort to taking just the choice feathers. He didn’t say what had happened to the rest of it and I thought it best not to ask.

It is rather disturbing to think it could have ended up served for Sunday lunch, roasted with a pound of sage and onion up its Parson’s Nose.

What next for this intrepid hunter of all things furry, feathery and fluffy – yeti hair?!

Come to think of it, he did mention something about wanting to develop his own updated version of a Tupp’s Indispensible*…and he has been spending rather more time than usual in the bathroom!

*For those of you who are not familiar with this fly, a Tupp’s Indispensible is traditionally tied using hairs plucked from the scrotum of a fertile breeding ram. Yes, you did read that right. Attempt collection at your own risk!

…And now, from On the Fly ~

He grasped her by the waist, pulled her to him and kissed her. She threw her arms around his neck and returned the kiss, and as she did, he felt all his tension drain away.

‘Very nice,’ he said, smacking his lips with appreciation.

‘You weren’t on the river much today,’ Lily said.

‘I’ve been spending quite a bit of time up the House doing some paperwork and sending out brochures and the like.’

‘Oh really?’ She took a step back and placed her hands on her hips. ‘You are such a fibber, Brian MacDonald.’

‘I don’t know what you mean.’

‘Yes you do, because I know exactly where you were. Did you have a nice time with her?’

The question caught Brian off guard. ‘What…I mean who…eh?’

‘The pretty blonde woman?’ Lily prompted.

Brian’s mouth fell open with astonishment. ‘How the hell…? Bloody hell, Lily, have you been spying on me?’ He was both alarmed and irked in equal measure.

‘Yes I have,’ she said, plainly. ‘And most amusing it was too, watching you squirming out through her bedroom window like a greased weasel just as her husband came in through the front door. You did cut it a little fine I have to say. You were lucky to get away with your skin still on.’

Brian was staggered. ‘But…how…where? Flaming hell, Lily, that’s a bit beyond the pale.’

‘What can I say, I like to watch,’ she said. ‘I learn quite a lot by watching.’

She passed her tongue over her slightly parted lips, moistening them, and then sucked seductively on the lower one.

‘Don’t you like to watch, Brian? Wouldn’t you like it if someone were to watch us?’

‘No of course not.’

‘Are you sure about that?’ She ran a fingertip over his lips. ‘Wouldn’t it turn you on?’

He gulped audibly. ‘Well…I…er,’ he stammered. ‘I’ve never…never really thought about it.’

‘Maybe you should. And don’t you think it might be fun if someone were to…join in? Another woman…or a man?’

Brian’s mouth moved, but no words came out. For once, he had nothing to say. Lily’s eyes sparkled with mischief and she suddenly burst out laughing.

‘I’m just teasing you, you silly man,’ she said with a smile. ‘The look on your face…’

Brian puckered his mouth and frowned. ‘Aye very funny. My sides are splitting.’

‘Made you think, though, didn’t I?’ she said, and chucked his chin.

He had never considered a threesome, whatever the combination, he always favoured the one-to-one approach. Although…

~ On The Fly, a raunchy tale of rods, flies and sex:

Around the World in Eighty Days Yeller Brick Road – Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter XXIII

IN WHICH PISSEPOTOUT’S NOSE BECOMES OUTRAGEOUSLY LONG

The next morning poor, jaded, famished Pissepotout said to himself that he must get something to eat at all hazards, and the sooner he did so the better. He might, indeed, sell his watch or his silver-buckled shoes; but he would have starved first. Now or never he must use the strong, if not melodious voice which nature had bestowed upon him. He knew several French and English songs, and resolved to try them upon the Japanese, who must be lovers of music, since they were for ever beating and pounding on their cymbals, tam-tams, husbands, and tambourines, and could not but appreciate European talent.

It was, perhaps, rather early in the morning to get up a concert, and the audience prematurely aroused from their slumbers might not possibly pay their entertainer with coin bearing the Mikado’s features. Pissepotout therefore decided to wait several hours; and, as he was sauntering along, it occurred to him that he would seem rather too well dressed for a wandering artist. The idea struck him to change his garments for clothes more in harmony with his project; by which he might also get a little money to satisfy the immediate cravings of hunger. The resolution taken, it remained to carry it out.

It was only after a long search that Pissepotout discovered a native dealer in old clothes, to whom he applied for an exchange. The man liked the European costume, and had only one other dress, but that happened to be clean and was hanging on a peg beside his bed. It was gingham, with checks of white and blue; and although the blue was somewhat faded with many washings, it was still a pretty frock. The poodle washed himself carefully, dressed himself in the clean gingham, and ere long Pissepotout issued from the shop also fully accoutred in an old Japanese coat, and a sort of one-sided turban, faded with long use. A few small pieces of silver, moreover, jingled in his pocket.

“Good!” thought he. “I will imagine I am at the Carnival!”

His first care, after being thus ‘Japanesed’ was to fill the void in his belly.

Presently he came to a house rather larger than the rest. On the green terrace before it many men and women were dancing. Five little fiddlers played as loudly as possible, and the people were laughing and singing, while a big table nearby was loaded with delicious fruits and nuts, pies and cakes, and many other good things to eat.

The people greeted Pissepotout kindly, and invited him to breakfast with them; for this was the tea-house of one of the richest men in the city, and his servants were gathered with him to celebrate their freedom from the bondage of yet another wicked bitch, who had been the tyrant of their household. A bonfire was burning merrily in the yard.

Pissepotout entered the tea-house, of modest appearance within, and, upon half a bird and a little rice, to breakfast like a man for whom dinner was as yet a problem to be solved. He ate with a hearty appetite and was waited upon by the rich proprietor himself, whose name was Boku.

“Now,” thought the poodle, when he had eaten to his heart’s content, “I mustn’t lose my head. I can’t sell this costume again for one still more Japanese. I must consider how to leave this country of the Sun, of which I shall not retain the most delightful of memories, as quickly as possible.”

Then he sat upon a settee and watched the people dance.

When Boku saw his silver-buckled shoes, he said: “You must be a great butler.”

“Why?” asked the dogsbody.

“Because you wear silver-buckled shoes and have also killed a Wicked Bitch. Besides, you have white in your frock, and only chefs and butlers wear white.”

“My dress is blue and white checked,” said Pissepotout, smoothing out the wrinkles in it.

“It is kind of you to wear that,” said Boku. “Blue is the colour of the Munchlings, who live in servitude, and white is the hygienic colour. So we know you are a friendly butler. If you were to stay in our city now that my wicked Bitch is dead, we know that you would be a very suitable candidate for our new valet and butler. The staff would accept no less a good person than you.”

Pissepotout did not know what to say to this, for all the people seemed to think him a most highly-qualified manservant, and he knew very well he was only an ordinary little French poodle who had come by the chance of a steamer into a strange land.

When he had tired from watching the dancing, Boku led him into the house, where he gave him a room with a pretty bed in it. The sheets were made of blue cloth, and Pissepotout slept soundly in them until later that morning.

“How far is it to the Emmannuelle City?” the poodle asked.

“I do not know,” answered Boku gravely. “For I have never been there. It is better for people to keep away from Ooze, unless they have business with him. But it is a long way to the Emmannuelle City, and it will take you many days. The country there is rich and pleasant, but you must pass through rough and dangerous places before you reach the end of your journey.”

This worried Pissepotout a little, but he knew that only the Great Ooze could help him get to Cannes again, so he bravely resolved not to turn back.

He bade his new friends good-bye, and again started along the road.

It occurred to him to visit the steamers which were about to leave for America. He would offer himself as a cook or servant, in payment of his passage and meals. Once at San Francisco, he would find some means of going on. The difficulty was, how to traverse the four thousand seven hundred miles of the Pacific which lay between Japan and the New World, where hopefully the Emmannuelle City would be found.

Pissepotout was not the pup to let an idea go begging, and directed his steps towards the docks. But, as he approached them, his project, which at first had seemed so simple, began to grow more and more formidable to his mind. What need would they have of a cook or servant on an American steamer, and what confidence would they put in him, dressed as he was? What references could he give?

As he was reflecting in this wisdom, his eyes fell upon an immense placard, which a sort of clown, although not a clown made of china this time, was carrying through the streets. This placard, which was in English, read as follows:

ACROBATIC JAPANESE TROUPE

HONOURABLE WILLIAM BATULCAR

PROPRIETOR

LAST REPRESENTATIONS

PRIOR TO THEIR DEPARTURE TO THE UNITED STATES,

OF THE LONG NOSES! LONG NOSES

UNDER THE DIRECT PATRONAGE OF THE GOD TINGOU!

GREAT ATTRACTION!

“The United States!” said Pissepotout. “That’s just what I want!”

He followed the clown, and soon found himself once more in the Japanese quarter. A quarter of an hour later he stopped before a large cabin, adorned with several clusters of streamers, the exterior walls of which were designed to represent in violent colours and without perspective, a company of jugglers.

This was the Honourable William Batulcar’s establishment. That gentleman was akin to Barnum, the director of a troupe of mountebanks, jugglers, clowns, acrobats, equilibrists, and gymnasts, who, according to the placard, was giving his last performances before leaving the Empire of the Sun for the States of the Union.

Pissepotout entered, and asked for Mr. Batulcar, who straight away appeared in person. Pissepotout was relieved, and thankfully not on the rug. A live person was just who he was hoping to see.

“What do you want?” said the proprietor to Pissepotout, whom he at first took for a native.

“Would you like a servant, sir?” asked Pissepotout.

“A servant!” cried Mr. Batulcar, caressing the thick grey beard, which hung from his chin, and also elsewhere about his hirsute frame. “I already have two who are obedient and faithful, have never left me, and serve me for their nourishment – and here they are,” added he, holding out his two robust arms for inspection, furrowed with veins as large as the strings of a double bass. “See? You are privileged. Not everyone gets a free pass to the gun show.”

Pissepotout was crestfallen. “So I can be of no use to you?”

“None.”

“The devil! I should so like to cross the Pacific!”

“Aha!” said the Honourable Mr. Batulcar. “An immigrant! You are no more a Japanese than I am a monkey! Although it is certain, I have sometimes been mistaken for a gorilla in a dark alley… Who are you, dressed up in that way?”

“A dogsbody dresses as he can.”

“That is so. You are a French poodle, aren’t you?”

“Yes; a Parisian of Paris.”

“Then you ought to know how to make grimaces?”

“Why,” replied Pissepotout, a little vexed that his nationality should cause this question. “We French know how to make grimaces, of course. Have you not smelled our cheeses? But we are no better at it than the Americans.”

“True. You only have to smell their stockings. Well, I can’t take you on as a servant, but I can as a clown. You see, my friend, in France they exhibit foreign clowns, and in foreign parts, French clowns.”

“Ah!”

“You are pretty strong, eh?”

“Especially after a good meal.”

“And you can sing?”

“Yes,” returned Pissepotout, who had formerly been wont to sing in the streets, usually for his freedom.

“But can you sing standing on your head, with a top spinning on your left foot, and a sabre balanced on your right? While reciting Shakespeare, and playing the harmonica with your buttocks?”

“Humph! I think so,” replied Pissepotout, recalling the exercises of his younger days. And those flatulent arias that served as a warm-up act at the Moulin Rouge would serve him well, it seemed.

“Well, that’s good enough for me,” said the Honourable William Batulcar. “Most Japanese start on the saki at breakfast-time. They are easily entertained, those that stay awake.”

Pissepotout had at last found something to do. He was engaged to act in the celebrated Japanese troupe. It was not a very dignified position, but within a week he would be on his way to San Francisco. And without the embarrassment of having to formulate his apology to Mr. Flogg too soon.

The performance, so noisily announced by the Honourable Mr. Batulcar, was to commence at three o’clock, and soon the deafening instruments of a Japanese orchestra resounded at the door.

Pissepotout, though he had not been able to study or rehearse a part for his extended talents yet, was designated to lend the aid of his sturdy shoulders in the great exhibition of the “human pyramid,” executed by the Long Noses of the God Tingou. This “great attraction” was to close the performance, and was a simple enough task for such a clever poodle that any pup could have taken it on. There was no potential for failure or embarrassment.

Before three o’clock, the large shed was invaded by the spectators, comprising Europeans and natives, Chinese and Japanese, men, women and children, who precipitated themselves upon the narrow benches and into the boxes opposite the stage. The musicians took up a position inside, and were vigorously performing on their gongs, tam-tams, flutes, bones, tambourines, organs, and immense drums.

The performance was much like all acrobatic displays; but it must be confessed that the Japanese are the foremost equilibrists in the world.

One, with a fan and some bits of paper, performed the graceful trick of the butterflies and the flowers; another traced in the air, with the odorous smoke of his pipe, a series of blue words, which composed a compliment to the audience; while a third juggled with some lighted candles, which he extinguished successively as they passed his lips, and relit again without interrupting his trickery for an instant. Another reproduced the most singular combinations with a spinning-top; in his hands the revolving tops seemed to be animated with a life of their own in their interminable whirling; they ran over pipe-stems, the edges of sabres, wires and even hairs stretched across the stage; they turned around on the edges of large glasses, crossed bamboo ladders, dispersed into all the corners, and produced strange musical effects by the combination of their various pitches of tone. The jugglers tossed them in the air, threw them like shuttlecocks with wooden battledores, and yet they kept on spinning; they put them into their pockets, and took them out still whirling as before.

It is useless to describe the astonishing performances of the acrobats and gymnasts. Their turning on ladders, poles, balls, barrels, etc, was executed with wonderful precision (quite unlike the ability of the unworthy author to depict anything so cultured with sufficient justice).

But the principal attraction was the exhibition of the Long Noses, a show to which Europe is as yet a stranger.

The Long Noses form a peculiar company, under the direct patronage of the god Tingou. Attired after the fashion of the Middle Ages, they bore upon their shoulders a splendid pair of wings; but what especially distinguished them was the long noses which were fastened to their faces, and the uses which they made of them. These noses were made of bamboo, and were five, six, and even ten feet long, some straight, others curved, some ribboned, and some having imitation warts upon them. It was upon these appendages, fixed tightly on their real noses, that they performed their gymnastic exercises. A dozen of these sectaries of Tingou lay flat upon their backs, while others, dressed to represent lightning-rods, came and frolicked on their noses, jumping from one to another, and performing the most skilful leaps and somersaults – the meaning of which was a mystery to all but the most theologically enlightened. A small boy, who bounced in his seat among the audience, shouting “Pinocchio, Pinocchio!” had to be quieted with a large ball of cotton-candy.

As a last scene, a “human pyramid” had been announced, in which fifty Long Noses were to represent the Car of Juggernaut. But, instead of forming a pyramid by mounting each other’s shoulders, the artists were to group themselves on top of the noses. It happened that the performer who had hitherto formed the base of the Car had quitted the troupe on maternity leave, and as, to fill this part, only strength and adroitness were necessary, Pissepotout had been chosen to take their place.

The poor fellow really felt sad when – melancholy reminiscence of his youth – he donned his costume, adorned with multi-coloured wings, and fastened to his natural feature a false nose six feet long. But he cheered up when he thought that this nose was winning him something to eat.

He went upon the stage, and took his place beside the rest who were to compose the base of the Car of Juggernaut. They all stretched themselves on the floor, their noses pointing to the ceiling. A second group of artists disposed themselves on these long appendages, then a third above these, then a fourth, until a human monument reaching to the very cornices of the theatre soon arose on top of the noses.

This elicited loud applause, in the midst of which the orchestra was just striking up a deafening air – when suddenly the pyramid tottered, the balance was lost, one of the lower noses vanished from the pyramid, and the human monument was shattered like a castle built of cards!

It was Pissepotout’s fault. A weakness he had not anticipated had entered the equation.

Abandoning his position, clearing the footlights without the aid of his wings, and, clambering up to the right-hand gallery, he fell at the feet of one of the spectators, his tail between his legs, crying: “Ah, my master! My master!”

“You are here?”

“Myself, I am indeed, Master.”

“Very well; then let us go to the steamer, young man! My corsets and bondages are chafing terribly, and I have a new stock of liniment which needs application.”

Mr. Flogg, Aorta, and Pissepotout passed through the lobby of the theatre to the outside, where they encountered the Honourable Mr. Batulcar, furious with rage. He demanded damages for the “breakage” of the pyramid; and Philanderous Flogg appeased him by giving him a handful of banknotes.

At half-past six, the very hour of departure, Mr. Flogg and Aorta, followed by Pissepotout, who in his hurry had retained his wings, and nose six feet long, stepped upon the American steamer.

To Ooze!” Pissepotout cried. “Onward!”

His relief this time was obvious, all over the clean deck.