Dwindling Numbers

Having the misfortune of being a literary genius and international author of vast repute, it’s not often that I find the time to drag my attention away from all the wondrous creations that have sprung from my ageing, yet still fertile imagination and actually scan the WWW for signs of life, particularly in the blogs that I used to follow in the early days (when I was still relatively new to this blogging thing). Well today I found that time and I was shocked. They’ve been (mostly) deleted or abandoned. Their creators, it seems, had simply given up in the face of planetary indifference. So I took a wander through more recent blogs. In many cases their authors are lamenting about falling readership. Some are considering calling it a day. Others remind me of the old axiom: ‘If it isn’t working, try something else’. This gave me cause to pause, as it were, in the pursuit of readership and – hopefully – commensurate book sales. I logged on to my publishers’ web site and checked out my book sales. Ten books sold in July – seven of which were freebies. Not good. Then I compared the numbers of visitors to this blog. Disappointment turned to concern; despite the fact that the number of ‘followers’ have continued to slowly increase, those reading my literary and photographic efforts have fallen spectacularly. People really do seem to be giving up on the Internet – or at least WordPress. In May 2017 I had 3600 visits. The same month in the following year saw only 1800 readers call by. This May I got just 524 visits. By June I was down to 302. I know Summer is never a good time: people have other things to do; so I was slightly relieved to discover that July hasn’t been quite so bad. As of the moment I’m up to a heady 767 hits. On Flickr figures are better; but I can’t post stories and comedy there – although I do air a few Earplug Adventure photos to mix it up a little. So, with dwindling numbers, I’m beginning to question the logic of continuing HamsterBritain.com. But I don’t want to stop promoting my serious fiction, hamster-fiction, or earplug silliness. That would be a crime against humanity – wouldn’t it? Maybe it’s time to try something else. Any suggestions?

Tooty

It’s the Earplugs Fifth Anniversary! Well Nearly.

Mooching back through my few remaining ‘old’ blog posts, I found this, from August 2014…

As you’ve probably guessed, it’s been a little quiet at work recently. Although this is an unfortunate situation, I’ve made it tolerable by allowing my creative juices to flow and doing what I do best – that is thinking up really silly rude stuff. The result – The Ear Plugs.

tooty nolan holds picture

Whadda ya think so far?

I can’t believe I’ve been shooting these daft pictures and writing this ridiculous prose for a full half-decade. Interestingly, the rude aspect of the stories was shelved early on. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. But, whatever, the Earplug Adventures continue to roll. Honestly, don’t I have something better to do?

And the question still stands: Whadda ya think so far?

Sources of Everyday Earplug Inspiration 1: Canderel Sweetener Dispensers

As I nonchalantly dropped a quartet of sweeteners into my cafe au lait, I took a moment to consider the dispenser in my hand. “Hmmm,” thought I, “that’s an interesting shape: maybe I can use some of that in my stories.”

So, once it had become exhausted of little white tablets, I wrenched the thing apart and considered the constituent parts. And guess what: I was right. I was hoping to find something ear-pluggish that was analogous to either the dog or the horse. I was also in search of a personal transport vehicle for my characters. In the Canderel dispenser I found both. Witness the emergence of the Plugmutt…

They have proved so useful that I’ve used them over and over again – in all sorts of colours…

And, of course, they’re great for riding upon…

Which, by chance, were the dispensing mechanisms too…

Of course the ‘buggies’ don’t have the character of the Plugmutts, but they are excellent for moving my characters from one location to another…

But other sweetener dispensers haven’t been ignored: not in the Earplug Adventure world. Some of them have made quite pleasant boats…

And others, wheel-less wheel barrows…

Is there no end to their usefulness? Sweetener dispensers: where would the Earplug Adventures be without them?

 

Sample the Silence Once More

Every so often I try to introduce readers of this blog to my more serious fiction. It’s not exactly plentiful. Four books in total – and I haven’t written a new one in years. But oldies can be goldies – right? Right! And just to prove it, here is a sample from this book/e-book…

Although it was now over a year since disaster had struck across the entire globe, and reduced humanity to scattered remnants, we were still careful to walk at the side of the road, and be prepared to leap to safety on the verge or through a hedge. Few cars remained running – their owners eking out what remained of their precious fuel – but we weren’t surprised to hear the approach of an aging diesel engine.

Stepping onto the grassy verge we checked each other’s haversacks for signs of protruding semi-automatics. Of course, had there been a need for rapid deployment of self-defence weapons, we both carried Colonel Cosgrove-supplied Berreta 84Fs strapped to our ankles.   

Unsurprisingly a well-worn four-wheel-drive vehicle rounded the nearest corner. It was towing a small trailer upon which several straw bales were lashed expertly. I couldn’t help but notice that the vehicle was a Land Rover, and appeared to my eyes to be identical to the one in which Candice had sacrificed her life so that the rest of us could escape the clutches of Nigel Hawley and his private army. It even had the same fawn canvas cover on the rear bed. Even now I could still see that cover bursting off as the two hand grenades exploded inside the vehicle.

I must have made some sound at the recollection, because Tasman’s head snapped around to look at me.

“What is it?” He said nervously as his hand began to reach downwards towards his hidden Beretta.

I shook my head. “Nothing.” I said, “Don’t worry about me. Just concentrate on the driver; see if you can deduce his intentions.”

It was necessary for Tasman to relax in order to best use his telepathic powers. He shook his joints loose; closed his eyes; and breathed out slowly through his nose.

“I don’t get a name.” He said as the Land Rover laboured up the rise to where we stood, “But he comes across as non-belligerent. Ah, he’s a farmer’s son. Hmm – he seems to be having trouble keeping the farm going. Lack of staff, maybe. He could be eyeing us up as potential work-mates.”

“No thanks; done that; bought several T-shirts.” I replied. “Is he alone?”

Tasman nodded. Moments later the vehicle covered the final few metres.

“Here he comes.” I said out of the side of my mouth. “Big cheesy smiles.”

As the Land Rover pulled alongside us, we could barely hear the driver’s cheerful hail above the din of its clattering diesel engine.

“Hello, you two.” He shouted from the side window of the two-seat cabin, “You’re from yon farm along the way, aint ya?”

I raised an eyebrow at this; I was somewhat surprised that the young man of (I estimated) eighteen or nineteen was aware of us. We’d chosen a well-hidden spot in a shallow valley that was all but invisible from the road.

He must have read my mind because he tapped the side of his nose, winked, and said, “Spent all me life ‘round these parts: pays to know who the competition are – ‘specially during times of plague and pestilence.”

“Yes, I imagine so.” I said as I extended a hand towards him. “Felicity Goldsmith.”

“Graham Perkins.” He replied – cutting the engine, and taking my fingers in his huge, calloused hands. “It’s nice to meet someone’s what’s civilised for a change.”

I was surprised at the coarseness of his hands. They felt like those of a man three times his age that had spent a lifetime tilling the land.

‘A farmer’s son. I think I can trust this man.’

Tasman then introduced himself as Brian Wilkins. I was glad that Tasman had slipped in a pair of his contact lenses; explaining his oblong pupils would have been problematical.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Graham spoke to both of us, “but I’ve been keeping a bit of an eye on your farm. I figured everybody’d be here when I found Soverton empty a few months back.”

I nodded; it was from the village of Soverton that we’d recruited the members of our co-operative.

“If you don’t mind me saying,” Graham was continuing, “you could use a bit of expertise down there.”

Although I bristled inside, I said nothing to the older boy. I merely looked at him with what I hoped was an inquiring expression.

“Them winter crops in the lower field.” He went on, “You need to sow ‘em further up the slope.”

Tasman threw me a glance. I could read nothing into it, and so wished that he could have used his telepathy upon me.

“Would you be interested in joining our co-operative?” He asked the young farmer.

Graham pretended to pause for thought. “Well I wasn’t exactly planning on something quite so bold.” He replied eventually.

Tasman continued as though the other boy hadn’t spoken, “It’s just that Felicity and I have business elsewhere, and it’s…you know…”

It let his words trail off into nothingness.

Graham grinned. “And you’d like someone what knows what he’s doing to take over?” He said hopefully.

“Pretty much.” Tasman replied.

I was surprised at the sudden turn of events.

‘Hey, this isn’t part of the master plan!’

I was concerned that we were in the process of giving away the fruits of many week’s labour to a complete stranger.

‘But wait a moment, Fel: Tasman might be too polite to read your mind, but you can bet your last…whatever…that he’s read Graham’s. Now would be the perfect time for two-way silent communication between us.’

I tried ‘sending’ Tasman a thought, but I expected him to be too busy concentrating his attention upon Graham to even begin to ‘hear’ me.

“Is this boy the real deal?”

Tasman’s eyes flicked in my direction: I detected the minutest of nods.

Graham appeared to be prevaricating, though I was certain it was just an act.

“It’s not every day that a lad your age gets offered the manager’s job on a working farm, complete with live-in staff.” I pointed out to him.

Graham’s head tipped to one side slightly in agreement. He then added, “No, and it isn’t every day that world ends either.”

I wasn’t absolutely certain what he meant by that remark. Perhaps he had more work on his hands than he could deal with. Maybe running our farm as well as his own would be too much for him.

“Could you give me a tour?” He inquired.

Had he asked the question twenty-four hours earlier, Tasman would undoubtedly have agreed to his request: But today wasn’t yesterday. Although no one at the farm knew it yet, Tasman and I were Absent Without Leave. Or in Lee’s parlance, we’d ‘done a runner’. We couldn’t go back; it would require that we explain the reason for our departure, and then face all the arguments that would no doubt be intended to keep us there.

“Tell you what.” Tasman said, “You know where the turning to the farm is: If I write a quick note of introduction, you can find your own way there. Ask for Carl, and show it to him. He’ll gladly show you around. He knows the farm isn’t nearly as efficient as it should be, and could use some pointers. And if truth be known – we’re a little over-manned: Perhaps you could take a few kids back to your place?”

‘Brilliant!’

This must have been exactly what Graham had wanted to hear. “I accept your kind offer.” He said whilst shaking Tasman’s hand.

He then produced a dog-eared note pad and an almost blunt pencil from a cubbyhole in the dashboard of his Land Rover.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Needless to say, this charming (and at times violent) e-book is available all over the place – see beneath the header, or on the sidebar, for some of the better-known outlets – and as a paperback at Lulu.com.

Special Earplug Effects: Just How Special Are They?

If you are a regular visitor to this cyber-shore, you’ll probably be aware that I like to take photos and write stories. I particularly enjoy combining both…er…shall we say ‘passions‘? The result is – the Earplug Adventures. I like trying to make something out of very little. Taking something unspectacular and prosaic, and turning it into a vivid scene is a challenge. Often I find the aforementioned unspectacular and prosaic somethings standing right in front of me. For example, like this…

People who catch me snapping merrily (and know about my harmless perversion) can be often heard saying: “Don’t tell me; it’s for one of your Little People stories.” They don’t ask what I expect to do with the resulting picture: they just know it’ll be something unexpected. Can you figure what I created out of this door? Check out the peeling blue paintwork; that’s what gave me the idea for…

…some islands for Magnuss and Hair-Trigger to fly above…

The story is entitled Mutant Island; and when the daring duo discovered the titular island, they took a closer look…

Wow, that’s some really rocky island down there, huh? Well, actually, no: it’s…

…a tree stump. But what about a few drops of condensation on a frosted glass window? *

You don’t get many things duller and less interesting than that. Surely nothing neat could possibly be made out of a gents toilet window and some dripping water! Well…

…I beg to differ.

Ah, little things. Very silly, I’m sure. But it keeps me happy and stretches the brain cells, so I don’t grow old too quickly.  Where’s the harm in that? 

* Those Magnificent Earplugs

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 26

Several eons seem to have passed since my last excerpt from one of these wondrous tomes…

So, naturally, I thought the current era just right for a corrective splurge of hamster fiction. On this momentous occasion I’ve plumped for a nibble of Fanfare For the Common Hamster. And why not? It’s fab! Here’s the proof…

It was cold, dark, and down right nasty beneath the surface of the River Turgid, as it ambled between Prannick’s twin towns of Near and Far Kinell with all the pace and alacrity of a bout of constipation. But Perfidity Gallowsmith had scant moments to consider such discomforts: Her immediate concern was the severe depletion that had taken place to the air reserve that she’d managed to accumulate in her hamstery cheek pouches moments before being knocked unconscious by a huge torpedo-shaped cavy-dropping, and falling into the river. Since then she’d been forced to ditch her famous chainmail knickers and leather breast-hammocks in order to remain above the mucky goo of the river bed, and now she was feeling distinctly naked both outwardly and inwardly

It was difficult for her to judge whether the onlookers upon the bank were still ‘on looking’, but she couldn’t take the risk of being discovered by them: In Prannick the vanquished leader was always put to death in a most public exhibition. She would rather drown than face that ignominy. Then, as she drifted with the river’s flow, the town’s sewage out fall pipe seemed to crawl past at a snail’s pace. It was dark and foreboding; but it might also supply a temporary sanctuary for her.

“With any luck,” she spoke to herself through lips that were clenched so tight that they might have been hermetically sealed, “there’ll be air at the top of the tunnel.

Striking out for the circle of black in an otherwise colourless environment Perfidity tried to gauge the time of day: She must be in and out of the tunnel before sixty-three minutes after thirteen o’clock, when the Town Ka-ka Release Officer emptied the slurry pit below the public toilet into the river: An ignominious departure into the hereafter was preferable to Death By Excrement. But as she approached the outfall she became aware of a subtle change in its appearance. It seemed to have become somehow blacker. A more intense black. A negative-light sort of black. She blew-off several times to dispel the intense feeling of fear that was threatening to steal her reason away. But despite these gaseous out-pouring, the darkness seemed to be drawing her to it. Then, as she began to struggle against the impossible pulling sensation that seemed to be acting upon each and every atom that made up her rather large, but surprisingly curvaceous body, the darkness seemed to leap forward to engulf her. She had just sufficient time to break-wind once more, and then scream incoherently.

Upon the bank Felicity and Roosevelt were walking paw-in-paw. They were chatting excitedly about the day’s battle, and their triumph. They also wanted to find a nice spot in which to perform some form of warm, cuddly, sex-act. Felicity noticed the bubbles as they burst from the surface of the water. The first few were rank and foul, and were immediately dismissed at ‘swamp water’: But the final few smelt far sweeter, and, much to their surprise contained a sound, which went, “Arrgh!”

“I’m sorry,” Roosevelt said apologetically, “is it alright with you if we pass on the vaguely-planned activity that would undoubtedly have culminated in non-reproductive sexual intercourse? Those mysterious bubbles have quite put me off.”

Felicity had to agree with her chum: Under these altered circumstances she didn’t even think that she could stretch to heavy-petting: It was a documented fact that drowning hamsters and their talking farts had a nasty habit of utterly deflating libidos.

© Paul Trevor Nolan

Please check out the titles beneath the header or on the side bar to locate the better-known outlets for this magnificent piece of literary genius.