Just How Famous Am I?

When you’re a self-proclaimed literary genius, international author, and master chef, it’s monumentally important to discover just how famous you are. Or in the case of me – how famous I am. To this end I ‘Googled’ Tooty Nolan. Of course, strictly speaking, I should have punched in my parentally-given name. But, heck, I’m Tooty Nolan: I’ll do as I damned well please. But, anyway, I was reasonably pleased to discover that I’m averagely omnipresent. More importantly, so are my books. And even more importantly, it proves one of my assertions: I AM an international author. Look, the people of France can buy my books…

Not to mention India and Brazil…

Of course I’m well catered for in my homeland too…

And not just on Amazon either. Why, even Polish book retailers carry my titles…

Now, tell me, did you notice something peculiar about these screen-shots? Yes, none of them feature any Tooty Nolan books. Instead they display my best work. My ‘Silent’ Books – which is probably as it should be – because they really are rather good – in an old fashioned, very English sort of way. Well I think so anyway. Look, they even prefer them in Norway…

In most cases this pair of books sell through Barnes and Noble. So it came as a pleasant surprise that even that respectable retailer is willing to stretch it’s street cred by including Earplug Adventures…

And why not: wonderful prose and stunning photography rolled into one genre. It’s a no-brainer. Talking of no brains: oh dear – look at this…

Oh no – even Walmartians can read my books. The operative word being ‘can’. Maybe they have that right: unfortunately they don’t choose to exercise it. So far Walmart have sold exactly none of my books. Why aren’t I upset? 

So there you have it: clearly I am famous. Just not famous enough to keep the Bank Manager happy.

P.S This is how my daughter sees her famous Dad. Er…not exactly flattering, is it!

Book of the Month?

I was surprised, when I checked out one of my books at Barnes & Noble, to discover that these books…

…bore a temporary label that read Book of the Month. Naturally I was pleased, and duly read the sample pages of the latter book. Here is a snippet from those pages…

When next I awoke I knew for certain that the world around me was real and tangible. There was a smell of straw and ancient timbers permeating the air. Once again I lay upon my back, but now the azure sky had been replaced by the sight of the cobweb-strewn rafters of an old wooden barn.

Sitting upright I discovered that I was alone – save only for the company of a wood mouse that searched amongst the detritus upon the floor close to the large double doors. It skittered away as I gained my feet. As it did so I discovered that I wore the combat fatigues from the vision of the past presented to me by Tasman. The strange, unrecognisable hand gun hung from an iron hook that had been driven into one of the oak uprights.

I felt a pain in my head. My hand discovered that someone had inexpertly wrapped my head in a bandage. I was relieved when it came away unbloodied, and the pain subsided.

Feeling better I decided to take stock of the situation in which I found myself. Firstly I knew that my name was Felicity Goldsmith.

‘A good place to start.’

I appeared to be some form of soldier. Or was I a paint-baller? The thought appalled me. No, I was certain that I’d never been a paint-baller.

‘What else?’

I knew a boy who has eyes like a goat. It was odd that I didn’t think of his eyes as particularly unusual.

‘Again what else?’

I came up empty. Try as I may, I could find nothing more leaking out from my closed-off memory. I knew that I should have felt fear – or at least an appropriate portion of apprehension – with the situation. It was quite possible that I was brain damaged, or I’d simply lost my mind. But Tasman’s calm demeanour, and his gentle delivery had staved off the panic for another time.

‘Or preferably never.’

With nothing better to do I climbed to my feet. I felt stiff, and wondered if that was what octogenarians felt like all the time. I then placed the weapons belt around my waist; and made for the large rickety double doors.

Upon emerging from the ancient barn, I wasn’t surprised to find myself standing in an old flint and brick walled farm yard. Beside the barn there stood several lichen-coated brick buildings originating in several eras. They all showed the evidence of a great passing of time, and it occurred to me that the farm might not be a working farm, but was instead a farm museum. The area was littered by the detritus of years. Old farm equipment lay about that looked not only decades out of date, but possibly centuries. Masonry crumbled here and there, and the roof of one particularly old outbuilding had been stoved in. Patches of briar were encroaching, and weeds abounded everywhere except the areas that were either paved with concrete, or cobbled. I could see young animals corralled at several points within the farmstead. From my position I could make out small numbers of sheep, cattle, pigs, and goats. Through a gap in some mature trees I discerned a pond upon which ducks sailed less than majestically. From a rickety edifice beside the charming flint farmhouse emerged the sounds of chickens clucking contentedly.

I was still studying the inexpertly erected chicken coop when a boy of roughly ten years emerged from the farmhouse. He held an empty wicker basket in each hand. Without noticing me standing there in my incongruous ‘uniform’ he let himself into the coop through a shaky wire door.

“Hello…” I called in what I hoped was a friendly inquiring tone.

The boy looked up. His recognition of me was instantaneous, and he smiled broadly, before dropping his baskets; letting himself back out of the coop; and dashing back inside the farmhouse.

“Tasman,” I heard him calling as his booted feet thundered up the stair to the upper floor, “Felicity’s up and about!”

I smiled as those same two feet then raced back down the stair; carried their owner across the yard at break neck speed; and then stopped dead in front of me. I then received a hug that almost crushed the wind out of me.

“Oh Fel,” he breathed, “I never thought you’d ever open your eyes again.”

I had no idea who the urchin was, or why he was so glad to see me, but it was nice to be wanted.

“Thank you.” I replied. “It’s nice to be back: Where have I been?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

These books are also available at Amazon, Lulu, Apple iBooks, and various others. And very nice they are too – if rather violent at times. Well they do feature genocide, so a little violence is to be expected.

 

 

Curtains? No: But I’m Having Second Thoughts

By chance I discovered a post of mine that dated  from September 2017. It was titled Curtains For The Earplug Adventures? And this is how it looked…

Fear not, Earpluggers: the Earplug Adventures will continue, though at a reduced pace henceforth. Had I written this post yesterday, the title would have been a question mark short. In fact it would have been replaced by an exclamation mark. Yesterday I all but decided to quit writing my photo-novels entirely; but, being a sensible fellow (beneath this tomfoolery), I chose to give myself twenty-four hours to cogitate upon the subject.

“Oh, Tooty, what could have caused this almost-monumental decision?” I hear you cry into your coffee / beer/ wine / vimto / lavatory bowl. “Why, oh why, would you want to deny the world your fabulous literary/photographic delights?”

Well the evening hadn’t started well: I’d wanted to watch Star Trek: The Original Series, but the magic box beneath my TV said: “No – not unless you want me to stop recording either Bones or Medium.” Then the cistern in my bathroom decided to form a small boating lake on the floor beside the lavatory. So things weren’t going well when I decided to Google myself. Naturally (having punched in Tooty Nolan) I found page after page of my nonsense on sale – often on sites that I’d never heard of (and which make me wonder why I’m not receiving the royalties I might be due). Then I discovered that back in my dark depressive days – or 2013 to be more precise – I’d joined Goodreads. I’d even posted some book extracts there. Then I noted the absence of my 2014 novel Silent Resistance, and duly elected to add it to my listings there. But when I began a casual meander through the book in search of a suitable extract, I discovered that during the subsequent three years – all of which have been Earplug Adventures years, I might add – I’ve become a lousy writer. No wonder I felt the need to abandon my third Causality Merchant novel – Broker Me No Future: I can’t write anymore.  And what was it that I found in Silent Resistance that so disillusioned me? It was this paragraph…

When morning finally revealed the new day it was quite unlike those of recent times.  Although the sun was winter-weak, wisps of steam rose from the sodden wooden walls of a nearby barn into a perfectly clear azure sky. Likewise the early morning mist that slowly retreated from the surrounding fields and dissipated into nothingness. And the broad leaf trees of a distant thicket shone in glorious shades of orange and yellow, and were perfectly counterpointed by the sombre greens of a scattering of conifers amongst them.

I breathed deeply in the clear country air – something that was becoming more and more prevalent since the demise of industry, the motor car, and people. I could almost imagine that this was one year previous, and soon my sister would join me as I searched through the orchard for late fallers.

My reverie was interrupted by the arrival of Colin in the farmyard. He was studying the AA roadmap as he trudged from the farmhouse.

“Hey,” he called, “I’ve found a route back that doesn’t involve us going anywhere near anywhere we’ve already been. It’s a bit ‘round-the-houses…”

“Circumbendibus.” I interrupted.

“Circum-what?” He inquired as he came to a dead stop.

I repeated the word. “It means ‘round-the-houses.” I explained.

I think he was going to argue, but it being early in the day he thought better of it.

“Oh, right.” He said as he recommenced walking towards me. “Well I’ve found a route to that co-operative of yours that shouldn’t take too long – just as long as nothing gives us gip.”

It was my turn to exhibit ignorance. “Gip?” I said.

“Trouble. Pain. Inconvenience.” Colin explained. “A broken leg would give you gip; but in another way so would a broken-down car.”

“Got it.” I said. “Gip bad: we no want.”

“Yeah.” Colin responded – his expression clearly indicating that he thought I’d gone mad.

But any opportunity for us to swap examples of our personal lexicons was interrupted by the bus engine stuttering into life.

“How’s the fuel supply?” I shouted to Kylie as she leaned out of the driver’s window to wave hello.

After giving her dashboard a quick scrutiny she called back, “Loads. More than we need to get us where we want to go.”

“And afterwards?” I pressed.

Her face dropped. “Who says there’s gonna be an afterwards? We’ll worry about that when the time comes.”

I nodded without replying: it was time to rouse the others.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Well there you have it. I need…no MUST…get back to that standard of story telling. So, from now on, it’s less earplugs and more ‘proper’ writing – if I still can of course. A good place to start would be that unfinished novel. Now I wonder where I’ve stashed it away.

P.S This book is available as an e-book pretty much everywhere (take your pick), and as a paperback and e-book at Lulu (see Lulu logo on side bar).

Well it didn’t happen, did it? I didn’t dig out Broker Me No Future after all. But since my broken promise to myself that feeling has returned. I know where the unfinished manuscript is: I found at the bottom of my shoe basket recently. I am gonna do it. Honest! So sorry, Earpluggers, I think the little silicon guys will need to take a back seat for a while. Let’s see if I can still write. Watch this space!

 

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!

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.