Great Nook Spikes!

At first glance that title might appear nonsensical. Who is Great Nook and what has he/she spiked? Sadly it’s nothing so fascinating: just me bringing some book sales stats to your attention. It’s just that recently there has been a slight spike in my book sales – notably the ‘Silent’ books…

…which is excellent: they are (after all) my better work. But, in the time honoured fashion, all sales have been to Barnes & Noble Nook users. Once again the Kindle readers have been left languishing in their wake – having taken only the ‘freebie’ Junior Earplug Adventure e-books. Hip, hip, hooray to all you Nook readers: and yah-boo sucks to the freeloaders – unless you come back to buy some of the non-freebie tales, in which case I would have to tell you that I love each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. But, at the moment, I only love you from the heart of my bottom. So get on over to the sidebar (or the relevant page beneath the header above, if you’re using a tablet or phone to view this) and start selecting a wondrous e-tome or two. Stand out from the crowd why don’t you!

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Silence, Please!

I couldn’t help but notice that, incredibly (and against the grain of recent times), sales of this book…

…have perked up. Thank you to all those e-book purchasers. Of course, what I’d really like is for those readers (and others) to come back for the (better) sequel – written a full decade after the original. It looks like this…

And a portion of the text closely resembles this. All the characters in this extract are teenagers, by the way.

For whatever reason, everyone had expected that we’d take the bus upon our sojourn. Everyone with the exception of Jason. If the rest had thought they’d properly explored Crag Base, they were all very mistaken. Jason, though, had thoroughly explored the huge subterranean refuge. He’d been over it with a fine tooth comb. With the exception of Tasman and I he was the only person who knew about the lower garage in which various United Nations vehicles had been mothballed for the duration. There were several types hidden beneath heavy canvas covers – ranging from single seated ‘despatch rider’ motorcycles to large six-wheeled amphibious off-roaders. In between these extremes were several small four-wheelers ranging from quad bikes through Land Rovers, Humvees, and three lightly armoured vehicles, the design of which none of us recognised.

The general consensus (once I’d presented everyone with the sight of the cavernous garage) was that the amphibious vehicles were beyond our ability to drive safely; the Humvees would stand out like a sore thumb; but that the Land Rovers would do fine once we’d stripped them of their very obvious military appearance.

‘Exactly what I was thinking.’

 Stripping away the U.N insignia from (and re-pressurising the tyres of) the two Land Rovers that Jason selected took perhaps a half-hour. Charging the batteries naturally took considerably longer; but by nightfall we had ourselves two pristine, low-mileage, ex-Ministry of Defence Land Rovers ready to roll.

Jason, I’d decided, would drive one: Kylie the other. Two vehicles, I considered, was prudent. Three might have gained someone’s attention, and looked too much like a tempting convoy just begging to be ambushed. If we took one and it became disabled it might be a long walk home. Two seemed to me to be the perfect number.

Jason was unable to disguise his eagerness. “When do we shove off?” He asked. “It’ll be dark outside by now. It’s the perfect time to leave.”

“Yes it is.” I replied as I checked my watch. “Why don’t you bring down the elevator.”

Had there been any exterior lights on Crag Base they would have been far astern of us when I finally stole a backward glance. The world around us was cloaked in impenetrable blackness. Even the Moon and stars had failed to make an appearance in the overcast late autumn sky. I’d hoped that the drivers could use night vision goggles to see where they were going without the need of headlights, but we hadn’t driven more than a hundred metres from the derelict service station before Jason ran off the road, and slithered to a halt upon the tussock-strewn verge. I’d suggested that perhaps we could run on minimal lighting in the shape of side lights, but Jason had discovered an unmarked switch upon the dashboard that when depressed lit up his goggles almost as brightly as day.

“Infra-red headlights.” He cheered. “We can see, but to anyone else we’re invisible.”

“That’s comforting.” Kylie had replied as she ran back to her vehicle to find a similar switch upon her dashboard. “Just as long as they don’t have night vision goggles too.”

Before long we’d passed the roadside café and were amongst the hills. With the loosest of plans to guide us we began the long descent to the level ground beyond the ridge of hills that hid the sea. We were once more amongst the overgrown back roads when I finally began to question the wisdom of the trip. How exactly did I intend to find the Espeeg? Let them find me perhaps? Should we turn on the lights and draw some attention to ourselves? But what if we drew the attention of the wrong people? What if we encountered terrestrial humans? Did we surrender to them – or fight our way through? Neither was acceptable: ergo we could not make our presence obvious. Then an idea formed inside my head…    

“Pull over.” I instructed Kylie.

She gave me a questioning look, but complied without speaking. As the Land Rover bounced to a halt upon the muddy verge Jason followed with the second vehicle. As he drew alongside he shouted through his side window.

“Forgot to pack your mascara or something?”

“I have a stunning plan.” I said as I opened my door and dismounted. “I don’t think you’re going to like it. Let’s have a pow-wow.”

I’d been quite accurate when I’d told Jason that I had a stunning plan; I just didn’t realise how stunning and in what manner it would affect the others. I watched as a look of incredulity appeared upon all their faces.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

The aforementioned tomes are available on-line at many e-book suppliers. Check out the page beneath the header or on the side bar → to access Lulu / iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Also appears in paperback form at Lulu. Just thought you should know.

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

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.

A Silence Concerning the ‘Silent’ Books

I can’t remember when I last posted an extract of my best work – that being these books…

So today I’m correcting that omission. Ladies and Gentlemen may I present an excerpt from Silent Resistance – a book I’m rather proud of…

It was only as we approached the last door in line along the corridor that I realized that I’d made a mistake. In my reality this final door opened into an office: here it led to a stairway. I could see the stairs as I dared take a quick peek through a small wired glass window set into the door. In that nervous glance I’d also noticed something else: a shotgun booby trap much like the one upon the floor below. I informed the others about the situation.

“Great.” Shane said in her most sarcastic manner, “So how are we supposed to get at him now?

“We don’t.” Dainam answered her question. “We make him come to us.”

Leaving Shane and Killer to keep watch upon the door to the upper floor, Dainam and I returned to the lower level where he’d noticed various cupboards, filing cabinets, and drawers. After a couple of minutes searching through them Dainam came up trumps. He brandished a plastic box containing a set of screwdrivers.

‘Seek and ye shall find.’

Returning to the next floor we propped a table from one of the offices against the door to the stair so that it couldn’t move outward. Then using the screwdrivers Dainam and I set about the screws that held the door hinges in place.

The screws had been wound into the timber frame many decades past – probably by burly builders, and for several minutes neither of us could make much headway with the task; but we stuck at it – often cursing as we whacked our knuckles each time the screwdrivers slipped. But fifteen sweat-inducing minutes later we had unfastened all of them, and now only the office table held the door in situ. Shane then tied a length of electrical cable to one of the table legs, and holding the other end of the cable in her free hand she retreated to where Dainam, Killer, and I waited in the relative safety of the adjacent room.

As she backed into our temporary sanctuary she said, “Ready?”

I nodded, and she yanked firmly upon the cable. This in turn twisted the table away from the door, which allowed it to fall outwards into the corridor – pulling with it a length of string that was attached to the shotgun trigger as it did so.The double blast of both barrels in such a confined space almost deafened us, and sent us reeling further into the office to escape the cloud of dust and smoke that suddenly filled every available space. Fortunately the blast destroyed the exterior window – sending an avalanche of splintered glass out into the bus park, where it fell to the tarmac surface below. This had the effect of venting some of the smoke and dust, for which we were most grateful; but it was still very difficult to see in the murk and gloom of the grey autumn day. As we emerged into the blasted corridor we all heard the clatter of feet descending the stair. The next second I realized that we were not alone as a dark shape passed between me and the feeble light that the ruined window allowed in. Whether he saw me I don’t know, but I was taking no chances. I lashed out at his head with the butt of my MP7. It wasn’t a telling blow, but it made the booby-trapper stumble. Dainam released Killer, and in bound from a standing start she brought the person crashing down, and pinned him face-down among the debris. The dust continued to dissipate, and as Shane disarmed him, it was obvious that he was an adult. He was also unconscious – or at least pretending to be. A quick check of his eyes, and I kicked him in the stomach for good measure. He wasn’t acting.

“He’s out cold.” I said as Dainam pulled Killer away.

“If he’s not, I’ll set Killer on him again.” Dainam replied.

“Say that again – in Espeeg.” Shane suggested.

Dainam did so, but the Espeeg failed to respond.

“You’re right, Fel.” She said. “He’s out cold.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

These books are available in e-book and paperback. Click here to see the better-known outlets.

Return to Hamster Britain!

Yes, it’s time for another Hamster-Sapiens extract. On this particular occasion I’ve selected a sample of this fabulous tome…

Wendy stood atop a single raised dais in the centre of the dell. She took a deep breath in preparation for her opening speech, but quickly released it when she noticed a knot of small boys seated upon the ground beneath the dais. They appeared to be trying to look up her skirt. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have been a complete disaster for the public servant, but tonight a certain situation existed whereby she must avoid such scrutiny: She’d planned to get herself thoroughly rogered during the intermission by her mysterious new personal assistant from Darkest Jungle Land – Plops M’Banjo – and had decided to circumvent his heavy-pawed attempts to relieve her of her under garments by leaving them in her knickers drawer at home. Now she’d spotted that one of the small boys held a compact camera and a cardboard periscope in his paws, and her plans lay in ruins.

“I say.” She called across to P C Chest, who was busy chatting animatedly with his girlfriend, Amy Crumpet, “Can you have these ruffians removed?”

It was an inauspicious start: Hamsters were generally very fond of their younglings, and since time immemorial the young boys of the town had sat at the feet of the mayor on Remembrance Thrudsday – or Danglydong Dell Diaries Day as it was more popularly known – and many of those nearest shifted uneasily upon their roughly hewn logs, and cursed quietly under their breath. Some went so far as to spit. And someone who looked suspiciously like the recently removed mayor – the disgraced Chester Bogbreath in disguise – broke wind forthrightly.

Wendy quickly caught the mood with her sensitive snout, and like the brilliant politician she was, intuitively altered tack. “Indeed, Constable.” She added, “Take the little darlings for a ride in the mayoral limousine. I’m sure that they’ll enjoy a quick thrash across the field, down the lane, and around Farmer Jacksey’s motocross circuit, followed by a motion sickness-induced vomiting session. It’s much more interesting than listening to my boring old oratory.”

Of course she was correct, and within moments the youngsters had scarpered, and she was able to relax and begin again – only this time properly…

“Fine upstanding citizens of Hamster Heath,” she boomed in a voice that was remarkably free from the usual shrillness commonly found in female hamsters, “once again we find ourselves seated within the hallowed earthworks of Danglydong Dell – to hear the personal stories of this year’s chosen town-folk. In keeping with tradition, those who have received the most votes from the town council Diaries Commission will be invited to stand upon this dais, and read an especially prepared extract from their personal diary. Naturally, as is the way of rodents in general, and hamsters in particular, each entry will have been ghost-written into third person narrative by our guest author; and will read much as a piece of fiction would – rather than egocentric, me-me-me, self-aggrandisement. After all,” she chuckled, “we wouldn’t want to bore ourselves silly with dull, tedious, prose written by complete amateurs, would we!”

“Who’s the guest ghost-writer this year?” Bootsie – the retired former town police constable – bellowed from somewhere at the back.

A shadow crossed the face of the mayoress. She was well aware that almost everyone present was expecting her to reply to Bootsie’s question with the answer ‘Granny Arseblower’. But she had bad news for them, and she prayed that her reply wouldn’t make them turn ugly. She didn’t do’ ugly’ very well, and usually resorted to violence when confronted by it in private. But this was a very public affair, and she knew that she would have to maintain a modicum of decorum.

“Well obviously we would have loved to have Granny Arseblower be our ghost-writer again this year.” She began positively, but quickly lowered her tone, “But unfortunately the town Medium – Molly Horseblanket – discovered too late that her magic whoopee cushion had perished during the summer heat wave, and all attempts to contact the spirit of her forebear using a Ouija board failed miserably. Fortunately we were able to contact the late, and very famous, Freda Bludgeon at the eleventh hour to help us out.”

She chanced a toothy grin at the assembled horde. There were a few weak smiles in response, which boosted her confidence considerably. She was about to continue when she was rudely interrupted

“Freda Bludgeon?” The less than feminine voice of Farmer Niblet from the Farm Workers and Associated Dung Flingers section exclaimed. “She was an old hack. Couldn’t write for nuts. All her novels were re-writes of earlier stories. Why – she was such a shit writer that she took up farming. I should know – I’m one of her descendants, and I can’t string three words together what make sense to some one.”

Wendy ground her incisors together for several seconds before replying. But when she spoke it was with succinctness and utter authority.

“Tough shit, Farmer Niblet: It’s either Freda Bludgeon’s work – or the evening is cancelled.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

 

Re-Blog: Preparing to Dash Through a Forest of Triffids

I first posted this a handful of years past. Having discovered it among the older files, here it is again…

Thank you, John Wyndham, for the inspiration.

triffids

Had I not read the works of the aforementioned, I would never have written Silent Apocalypse.

Annotation: Strange that, at the time, I didn’t add the cover photo. Not feeling particularly mercenary, I guess. Maybe I’d sold a couple of copies that week. Well I don’t have that luxury now: let’s put that right!

And just for good measure…the sequel!