...  Publishing New Writers

Opt-In Publication for AuthorMe.com, AuthorMARK.com, Cookcom.net


 October, 2004


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Self  Publishing: The Best Advice

by Joylynn M. Jossel

The best advice from Joylynn M. Jossel, poet and author. Joylynn began her journey of self-publishing in 1998.  She continued to self-publish several titles through 2003.  It was then that one of the major publishing houses, St. Martin's Press, signed her to a three book deal.  

The questions were posed to authors who've been picked up by major  publishing  houses and realize they have to hustle just as hard as they did when they  were self-published: 

"I want to know your best marketing tools, your  best-ever  literary event, your favorite stores for signings and the three best tips  you'd  share with other writers."

When you self-publish, as everyone who has experienced the process already  knows, it is hard work.  It is a twenty-four hour job.  

Even in your sleep  you  are thinking of ways to push your book.  You walk around wearing the  tee-shirt,  carrying the totes, and giving away the coffee mugs with your book cover on  them.  You call up the bookstores to pitch your book.  You call up libraries   and universities. Sometimes you even contact the prisons.  You come up with  fun  contest to generate interest in your book.  You do the bookmarks, postcards  and posters.  You spend a tiny fortune mailing all of this promo stuff out.   

Did  I mention that you contact the book clubs as well?  At the end of the day,  almost everyone you contact wants a book for review (a free book that is).   

Like  a crack rock, I hoped that if I gave away the first book for free, that the  sales would follow.  Giving away books with that mentality, I knew I was a  bona  fide hustler.   It's tiring, in deed.  The labor, as with a child, brings you to tears at  times.  

But passion and the good Lord pulls you out of the funk and you keep   moving.  You finally get your largest order ever from a distributor, which  is  usually an order for about 20-50 copies of your book.  Little things like  this  make you hungrier, so you continue to repeat  the process. 

Finally, some big publishing house notices your self-published work.  By now   you are so worn out that you almost want to pay them to publish your book.   You see them as a bigger entity who can take your book places that you never   dreamed of.  So you sign on the dotted line and think "Finally, now all I  have to  do is just write."   

WRONG!  You don't have to hustle just as hard as you did as a self-published   author once you get with the major publishing house.  YOU HAVE TO HUSTLE  HARDER. 

Publishing houses are just that, publishing houses.  They don't make  phone  calls to store, libraries, prisons, book clubs, etc...  I mean, of course  they  call up their accounts (Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc...) for those  pre-orders, but after that, you are on you own.  

Sure the house publicist  (one of the  three that is spread out among all the authors) makes a couple of calls to  get  you a mediocre ad or two.  If this happens, run with that ad because it will   probably be your last before that publicist is on to the next author.  

Make  your  calls and contacts using the ad as your tag line. "I'm Joylynn Jossel the  author seen in the August 2004 issue of Sister2Sister Magazine".  Run with a  tag  line for as long as you can.  When people hear something enough, they'll  remember it.  

Your book is only as good as you make it.  I repeat, your book  is  only as good as YOU make it, not the publisher.  All the publishing house  says is  "We printed your book.  Here the book is.  It is now for sale."  

Do you know   whose job it is to get it sold??????  YOURS.  So everything you did as a  self-published author you do ten times fold.  Why?  Because at the end of  the day,  publishing is a business derived to generate revenue.  

Your numbers are all  that matters.  Your numbers determine whether or not they are going to take  that  second and third book they signed you to.  So now, not only are you pushing  the book because you are passionate about it and you want to share your gift  of  written word, now you are pushing it because your career is at stake.  You  need those numbers. Those numbers define your success.   

Everything you do in life is a business.  This is something you have to keep   in mind as a published author, an aspiring author, or someone in search of  that book deal.  When I hear folks saying "I don't write to be on the best  sellers list.  I don't write for money, etc...."  then you are in the wrong  business.  

If this is how you feel, just keep writing for yourself, as long  as you  enjoy the book and are comfortable with its sells, then nothing else  matters.   But if you are trying to make writing your career, which translates into  business, then you have millions of folks who you need to write for and a  few suits  who are backing you.  

Remember, they are not backing you as an author, yes  they  believe in your story or they wouldn't have bought it, but more so, they  believe that you can make them money.  

Making that best sellers list gets  you  noticed.  For that month your name is on the list is the month you are  supposed to  promote  the hell out of YOU.  Being on the list alone does not generate  sells.  

Making the best sellers list gives you a tag line.  It may not be  important to you, but it is important to readers.  Remember, this ain't  about you any  more.   I hear authors say, 'I'm happy and blessed to sell just one book."  Let your   publisher hear you say that.  The game changes.  

The pressure is on.  You  don't see yourself as competing with other authors because most of us have  the  attitude that there is enough room for everybody.  Guess what?  It ain't  that  much shelf space out there.  Stores don't allow your book to sit on the  shelf  until every last one is purchased.  

When yours doesn't move they are  returned to  your publisher and the next author takes over that space.  If their book  sells, you don't think that they'll give you another shot and reorder your  books do  you?  No.  They reorder the author's books who is moving for them.   I could go on an on.  

I have made so many mistakes.  I had so many  misconceptions.  But now I am understanding the business of publishing so  that I will  know how to function in it.   In my opinion, as a self-published author, book tours are overrated.  

Who  cares that you sold out of books while on tour?  You still spent more money  on  travel, lodging and food, than you made in book sells.  You were better off  taking out a $500 ad on cushcity.com for a month, a $200 ad on mosaic for a  month,  etc....  

I have learned that I generated more sells and got the word out on  my book better by ad placing versus traveling all over town.  

You'll still  have  those folks who say that it's better to meet your would be readers face to  face.  Fine, then everybody you strike a conversation up with, hand them  your  postcard or a bookmark or something.  That type of promotion isn't costing  you  anything but the paper it was printed on.   

I'm not posting this message for a bunch of folks to start telling me that  I'm right or wrong.  You can take it or leave it.  I'm simply sharing my own   experiences.   

But whether you are self-published or with a major, let me share with you  one  of the most important things I have learned.  And it wasn't until just a few   months ago that I learned it.  

"Sell yourself first.  Book sells will  follow".   Stop pitching your book all of the time and pitch yourself.  Get the public  to admire you, not necessarily admire you, but to REMEMBER you.  Sure, let  them  know that you are an author and even share quotes from your book as it fits  into the conversation/interview.  But talk about yourself and the issues you   have overcome or encountered as a human being.  There are millions of people  out  there who will be able to relate to you.  

What do people want most?  To feel   like someone gets their drift...to feel like someone has been where they  have  been.  Expose yourself as a person....book sales will follow.  And that's  all  I have to say about that (for now anyway;-).    

Joylynn M. Jossel  www.JoylynnJossel.com  

Getting Ready to Write: Inspirations

by Sandy Tritt


        Well, if I didn’t scare you off in the last section, I guess you’ve made up your mind. In that case, you’re going to need some inspiration. I’ve printed some of my favorite inspirations on the back cover and at the end of this book. Whenever you see a profound statement (or one that seems profound to you), cut it out or copy it, and hang it where you can see it frequently. Constantly.

            Writing a novel is a lonely job, and one that has few rewards until it is finished. Therefore, it is imperative to stay focused and to stay positive. Surrounding yourself with reminders is one of the easiest ways to do this. (The other way—paying people to constantly tell you you’re doing great and so forth—becomes costly).

            When I first started submitting material to agents and received my first rejection letters, I was enthused. Now, some people would think that a rejection letter is a depressing thing, but not to me (not then, anyway). It made me feel like a “real” writer, made me feel like I had made contact with the “real” writing world. So, I taped every rejection letter on the wall. On top of each rejection, I taped an inspirational quote. I called it my “Wall of Shame.” As I received awards for my writing, I added these to my wall. I also copied any checks I received for readings or competitions, any thank-you notes, anything that had to do with writing. Pretty soon, I had half of one dining room wall “papered.” Eventually, my handy husband decided to remodel and my wall came down, but it had served its purpose when I needed it: it kept me focused on writing and connected to the writing world.

            Don’t be embarrassed to do whatever you need to do to bolster your morale. And quit referring to yourself as “wanting to be a writer” or a “writer wannabe.” Once you actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), you are a writer. Say that out loud: “I am a writer.” Say it again: “I am a writer.” One more time: “I am a writer.” Make that your new mantra and repeat it several times a day. You are a writer. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this book.

(from Section 1, Workbook)

Want more great tips and techniques? Our Inspiration for Writers Tips and Techniques Workbook is now available. Expanded tips, more topics, reproducible worksheets, exercises to practice what you learn and much more--check it out! Free shipping anywhere in the United States.

(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved, except for those listed here. October be reproduced for educational purposes (such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt at tritt@wvadventures.net for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.

   Keep writing!

Sandy Tritt

Inspiration for Writers tritt@wvadventures.net


God Created You: A Guide to Temperament Therapy

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Critiquing Special

  • Limited time special, one cent per word.  Just mention Publishing New Writers  Newsletter (October, 2004).

    Critiques by Sandy Tritt

  • Unlike most editors, I consider my role to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other writers.

  • Treat you with respect and compassion. All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.

  • Mark your manuscript, correcting grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where appropriate, line-by-line.

  • Highlight areas that are especially well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.

  • Where appropriate, offer suggestions for plot development, character development or other areas that could be strengthened.

  • Return a two-to-four page written analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting, characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks, etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.

  • If appropriate, recommend reading or resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.

  • Answer any questions you  have via email.

  • Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.

For Sandy's success stories, see http://tritt.wirefire.com/Manuscript_Critique.html

Write Sandy at tritt@wvadventures.net

(See Sandy's article above.)


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Publishing New Writers,

October, 2004 (no. 510)


Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

Submissions /comments  cookcomm@gte.net.

Links are welcome.


To subscribe and/or  review our archive of past newsletters, go to











Bonus Issue!

See Below for Sandy Tritt's Writing Tips and a story Robbie Robot demanded we use. (He was threatening to dance on the piano so, not wanting that to happen, we complied.) And, hey... the story "The Casablancan Canary" is good medicine for new writers who are taking themselves too seriously.  Ken plans to include it in a future episode of another story he is writing. Enjoy!   (Wait.... what piano? AuthorMe doesn't have a piano!)

Book Proposal Basics: The Right Way to Write a Book

By Patricia L. Fry

You may be surprised to know that the first step to writing a book for publication has nothing to do with writing. There is a process involved with producing a successful book and it all starts with a Book Proposal.

A well-designed Book Proposal is an excellent marketing tool. It gives a publisher the information he/she needs in order to evaluate your project. A student of mine in a recent book proposal class landed a contract with a major publisher mainly because of her book proposal. The editor said, "It was the detail in your book proposal that prompted us to acquire this book."

It makes your life easier when you use a Book Proposal as a guide to writing your book. Probably the best thing about writing a Book Proposal is that, during the process, you’ll find out if you truly have a book at all. Another student changed the whole focus of her book when she was halfway through the Book Proposal process. This is one reason why I suggest writing a Book Proposal before you write the book.

A nonfiction Book Proposal contains a Cover Letter, Title Page, Synopsis or Overview, Promotions Page, Market Analysis, About the Author, Chapter Outline and Sample Chapters.

While each piece of the Book Proposal is important, there is one question in particular that you must ask while preparing the package. The answer could change the course of your project. The question is: Who is your target audience?

What segment of the population will embrace your book? Who cares about what you have to say? Do they have a problem you can solve? What do they worry about, care about, want to know? Maybe your target audience just wants to be entertained.

Targeting your audience can be just about as difficult as finding a good agent. But it’s highly important. You need to identify the segment of people who are seeking a book like yours or who would be interested in reading it. If you can’t, you don’t have a grasp on the scope and focus of your book.

I meet a lot of writers who give little thought to their audience until after they write their book. They have a book in them and they just want to get it out. And that’s okay. It’s when they decide that they also want their book to be widely read that they run into problems.

A Book Proposal is a necessity in today’s publishing climate. So you might as well bite the bullet and write one for your manuscript. Once you’ve broken through the mystery of your first Book Proposal, you’ll be surprised how easily the others will go together and how vital a proposal is to your book projects.

Patricia Fry is the author of 19 books, including a new ebook, "How to Write a Successful Book Proposal in 8 Days or Less," "The Successful Writer’s Handbook," and "Over 75 Good Ideas for Promoting Your Book." She is the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) www.spawn.org. Order the new ebook at http://www.spawn.org/ebooks/pfry2/index.html

The Casablancan Canary

by Kenneth Mulholland

Istanbul, mysterious city of Turkey, filled with thieves and cut-throats, just like Timbuktu in French Sudan at the edge of the Sahara desert, or Shanghai or Cairo, or Port Melbourne in Australia. Well, not really Port Melbourne, although...

Anyhow, this story isn't in any of them. It's set in Casablanca, chief sea-link of Morocco in the second World War, during the German occupation.

It begins in a little bar and grill known as the...yeah wait for it... 'Pair O' Dice', a hangout of thieves and cut-throats (And that's only the staff.) And watched closely by the German High Command, who were on High Command lookout for several very nasty people. (Not the staff, they already knew about them.)

Late one dusty afternoon, inside the almost deserted 'Pair O' Dice', a guy is sitting at a piano, running his fingers over the owner's bank account and humming a grin to himself.

Suddenly a soft, vaguely familiar, female voice breaks his tallying trance. 'Hello Sonny. It's been a long time. While you're fingering the cashbook, maybe you could play it, one more time for me. Play it again, Sonny.'

'My name ain't Thonny. It'hs Thyril. An' I don't do requesths when I'm counting.'

'I can make it worth your while. Let me dance for you.' The tall, shapely blonde leapt lightly onto the piano in her string-net stockings and six inch stilettos and began to sway in a wanton manner. (She was wanton him to belt out that old familiar tune of long ago when she and his boss had played footsies together.') Cyril, sorry, Thyril, began to tickle the ivories.

Just at that moment, her old flame was watching the scene below from a curtained window above the gaming floor. He cursed, spluttering over his iced cocoa and nutmeg. 'Of all the pizza-parlour, kebob house, Game-boy, Nintendo joints in all da woild, she has ta walk inta mine. After she beats it, I gotta have a woid wid Thyril. (Damn teeth!)

'Ohh-ee, ohh-ha-ha, ting tang, walla walla, bing bang. Ohh-ee, ohh-ha-ha, ting tang, walla walla...'

'What's that yer playin'?'

'Oh nothin' Bosth, just a little sthumphin I wrote...'

'Well stop it! You know what I wanna hear!'

'No I don't Bosth...'

'You played it for her, now play it for me. Play it!'

'O.K. Bosth. You asked for it. Well...I thaw this thing coming outta the sky, it had one big horn and one big eye, I think I might have peed as I thaid "Oowee", it lookth like a Purple People Eater to...'

'Alright, alright, shut it! I need time ta think. What the hell would Legs Akimbo be comin' to the Pair O' Dice for? A dance on the grand piano? I don't think so.'

'Legth Akimbo? Aint thshe the exhotic danther?'

'I think yer pushing the lisp. Bring it back a little, or I wont be able to get away with saying Cashablanca.'

'Thorry Bosth...'

'That's better. Now, let's get our heads together...'

'Ith's cosy like this...'

'Yer breathin' down my shirt-collar Thyril, and unless you want a knuckle sandwich, you'll back off!'

Later that same night, at the Pair O' Dice gaming tables, Rick O'Shea, owner of this den of inig...inicwi... iniqewt... very nasty place where lots of baddies gathered, was cruising the floor, picking up chips, kicking out girls and tickling bums...Or was that, picking up girls, kicking out bums and ti...or maybe it was...Aw! He was there anyway!

Suddenly a man shouted! 'Meester Rickhh, Meester Rickhh! They're coming for meee! Quickly, you must hide mee!'

'Take it easy, little swarthy, slightly sweaty, foreign looking pershon. Shay? Do I know you?'

'Sure you do, Meester Rick, I come to the gaming tables often, twice on Sundays. You must save me! They are coming and...they are going to take me away and...and drill me!'

'Hmm, Dentists huh? Well don't stress out, they'll give you a shot to deaden the pain. Now what's your name?'

'Hugo Furst.'

'Don't get cute with me shweetheart, you already know my name, now c'mon, give!'

'Excuse me, Mister O'Shea,' said a man dressed in the uniform of a German officer. ' That iss his name. He iss Hugo Furst, a double-dealing-double-agent-dealing-in-double-


'Aw yeah! And who might you be?'

'I am Major Hans Kuft of the Hitler Boys Movement, and boy! have ve been shaking und moving lately!'

'Hans Kuft huh? Catchy. So what gives? And why have you got that rod pointed at Furst?'

'I hev ziz gun pointed at first him, und now you, Herr O'Shea.'

'More than you'll ever have by the way your cap keeps slipping off your head. G'wan beat it. Run along or I'll have Thyril throw ya out.'

'Do not be so hasty to try my patience O'Shea. I want to know where it is, und if I have to shoot you both to find out I will.'

'I think your logic is a little cuckoo, Kuft.'

'Mh, um, umjh, ho-ho, or a little Canary, Suh!'

'That guy behind you got somethin' caught in his throat?'

'Don't try me with zat old chestnut, Herr O'Shea. If zere was somebody behind me I would feel the barrel of a revolver in the small of my back, just like...oh! Gotterdammerung!'

'Indeed Suh! And I assure you that Wendy will not hesitate to use it if I tell him. I think it best if we all sit down and have a little tate-a-tate.'

'Nein, I am on a diet. No starch for me, just a small portion of salad.'

'Foolish German person! Wendy, escort these people to one of those alcoves where we will not be interrupted.'

'I don't know who you are,' said O'Shea, checking a hip pocket for his butt... of the gun he always kept there, 'but you'll never get away with it here. Not in my plache!'

'Ah, there now Suh! As you will observe, we are getting away with it, umm, ah, ah, jahaa, mumph.'

'Is it a chicken bone? I'll have my chef sacked...'

'No Meester Rick,' said Hogo Furst, his eyes so wide that they were bugging out of his head, 'you do not understand. That is the laugh of...THE FAT MAN!'

'Shut your mouth Furst! Or I'll shut it for yah,' said Wendy, waving his snub-nose automatic under Hugo Furst's snivelling snub-nose, which he wiped, automatically.

'This is the Fat Man?' Rick O'Shea's eyebrows lifted. 'This skinny little wimp in the baggy suit?'

'Ummph, ahh, ererch, erm, eckher, ack ack, urmph! Suh, you think you have the better of me, yes indeed, but I am simply in a cunning disguise so that I could get past the authorities. Now allow me to pull this rip cord attached to my belly-button.'

'Holy Moses! He's like The Michelin Man on shteroids!' said O'Shea aghast, as clothing stretched to its maximum limit before his shocked eyes.

Suddenly Kasper Gutman stood before them in all his humungousness. 'Greetings, Mister O'Shea, um, ah, he ho, ahh, from your old friend Sam Spade in the U.S.A. Suh!'

'Shpade? Yeah, an alright guy. So what? And Shay! I think we've bumped into each other before, Gutman. Was it in Warshaw?'

'No Suh!'


'Try again Suh,' said The Fat Man, a playful smile stretching across his moon-face.


'I go where ever I must Suh, in order to secure the object of my desire. Mmm mmuph! But enough of this guessing game! I shall tell you later where we encountered each other, after you furnish us with some answers. Now take a seat Suh! Ah how charming, you have named each booth.'

'Yeah, this is the Abraham Lincoln, the one behind is more private. It's the John Wilkes...'

'Very good Suh, Wendy will make sure that we are not interrupted whilst we have our little chat.'












Copyright II: Copyright and the Public Domain

by Jim Colombo

The second issue is protection against copying. There is no way to police the Internet and it has become difficult to protect exclusivity. The Internet is part of the public domain. For a publisher or an author to be protected the right of exclusivity needs to be protected. Web sites for writer's workshops, on line writing courses, and universities must maintain the privacy of the site with restrictions by registration and password without fear of venturing onto the World Wide Web. The issue is between Traditional Print Publishers and those who posted or published on the Internet. If Traditional Print Publisher and authors can agree to a reduced payment because of lack of exclusivity and if authors can be recognized by Traditional Print Publishers, this will pardon the author for electronically publishing on the Internet. Sites for authors who want to post their work on the Internet in the hope of a literary agent or publisher discovering the author can be accomplished by posting a synopsis and the first three chapters of the story, which is the typical way of query. The exclusivity of the work is maintained and the author has control and protection.

In conclusion, laws protect copyrights and the owner of the work must police the market place.

Current copyright laws do not address the controversy of copyrights and the Internet for electronic publishing by authors and E-Zines. A publication requires an author to sell his rights of ownership for monetary consideration and the publisher produces copies for distribution and sale. When I posted my novel on the Internet I was showcasing for public display with no intent to sell.

My hope is to some day sell "St. Nick's Outlaws" to a small paperback publisher for a nominal amount to exposes the novel and possibly sell reprint rights to other sources. The Internet should be an avenue traveled by all with no restrictions allowing the free exchange of ideas, creativity, and opinion. The Internet has gone from a neighborhood bulletin board at the Laundromat to connecting every member of this planet to one another. We need to understand the ramifications of connecting globally. I accept the fact that though I have copyrights rights, I do not have exclusivity because I posted my novel on the Internet. What I have today is fond memories of what if "St. Nick's Outlaws" was published by a traditional print publisher and the fantasy of enjoying the smell of the salty sea breeze on the coast highway while driving my 911 Porsche convertible.

Jim Colombo

Yeah, Wendy huh,' said O'Shea, ushering the others forward. 'You go first,' he indicated to Hans Kuft, who was immediately pushed out of the way by the swarthy, little double agent. O'Shea gave a knowing grin, checking that his false teeth were still in plache as he slid in next to Kuft and Furst. 'This here little gun-totin' creep in the trenchcoat and turned-down hat looks familiar. What's your last name Wendy?'


'Don't play the wiseguy with me shweetheart, answer the question!'

'Indeed Suh, you are a card that is for certain, yes indeed, umm, ah, ho hoh! That is his name, Wendy Darling, umm, eh a ha. Now to business Suh! Where is it!?'

'Search me, What exactly is it that you're looking for?'

The Fat Man's face crinkled into a sneer. 'Suh, now it is you who are playing the fool. Don't waste my time. I want it, and I want it now! One of you in this booth has it, or knows where it is. Now speak up! If you want to see the main course, produce The Bird!'

'Well, chicken's on the menu, but you'd better duck right now or your goose's cooked!' O'Shea warned, seeing the flash of gunmetel blue behind Gutman.

There was a sound like a rubber mallet hitting a vat of custard and something viciously whipping past THE FAT MAN'S rather bloated thigh. A bullet smacked into the woodwork just to the left of Hans Kuft's head.

'Silencer!' snarled O'Shea, 'Get down on the floor! Take cover!'

Immediately, at the cry of "silencer", all the patron's and croupiers around the gaming tables emitted frantic whispers of panic and tip-toed out of the Pair-O'-Dice.

'Where'd that shot come from?' said Wendy Darling, his beady little eyes scanning the now deserted room.

'The piano,' answered O'Shea, who had dived out of the booth and was now stretched full-length on the floor between two...

BANG! BANG! BANG! Wendy fired off three rounds in rapid succession. PLING, PLANG, PLONGG! jangled the piano.

'Best its ever shounded,' muttered O'Shea grimly. Then, looking up, he realised that he was between two very shapely female legs. 'Holy shmoke! Gay Abandon!' He was peering into the barrel of a revolver pointed directly at his face by the woman who stood over him.

'Better call off your watchdogs Lover, or this thing might go off,' said the tall red head. 'And don't bother to wonder whether your pals are of any use. Their all taken care of. Take it easy, give me the gun and then you can stand up and join the boys. There, that's better,' she said as she relieved O'Shea of his weapon and he regained his feet. 'Alright girls, you can come out now.'

Legs Akimbo stepped from behind the John Wilkes, a revolver levelled at Wendy's head, and a third woman emerged from the shadows, shoving Thyril in front of her, a gun at his back.

'Fraulien Anna Conda!' gasped Hans Kuft, 'but how can this be?'

'It can be any way you want it, my liebling, as in vertical or horizontal. Depending on what happens next.' The brunette, her hair blowing in a soft cloud about her beautiful features, ambled up to the group and laid her hand upon O'Shea's shoulder. 'Too bad for us Rick, all those years ago in Paris when we...'

'Yeah sure, when we walked out together! I remember. But this isn't about then, it's about now. You're lookin' at me, and I'm lookin' at you. Well?'

'Well Suh! Miss Conda is wanting what we are all wanting. The Bird! Produce it! And perhaps then Suh, we will see what might come of it!' The Fat Man laughed, and for a moment everybody else thought he was having a heart attack, or starting a small earth quake.

O'Shea shook his head, 'Beats me, I dunno what you're on about...'

'Wait a minute Bosth,' said Thyril, 'somethingth coming to me, err, you must remember this, a kissth ith shtill...no! Ith's probably the package that arrived thith morning. The one labelled "Flowerth" '.

'Did it say which florist?' asked Hugo Furst timidly.

Thyril thought a momenth. 'Umm, Gumpth, I think. Anyway, I used it to prop upth the piano leg...'

'Flowers?' said Hans Kuft, puzzled.

Thyril sthcarthed his head, 'Oh thorry, I meant flowerth, like in a thack of flowerth, it was heavy as, and the piano being lopsthided all thesth years...'

'You mean that dirty, newspaper covered package over there under the grand is it?' said Legs Akimbo, her eyes resting upon a dirty...

There was a frantic scramble. A cloud of dust arose: several heads, arms, legs and other bits, were dragged back into and popped out of it. Eventually, Hugo Furst emerged clutching the prize. 'Mine, mine, all mine!' he screeched insanely, until Hans Kuft ripped it out of his grasp. 'Nein, nein, all mine!' he shouted gleefully.

A gun exploded and a shot whizzed into the ceiling. 'Just put the thing on top of the piano and let's all calm down,' said Anna Conda, coolly.

'Boy you're shome dame, Anna. If only we had our time again...'

'Yeah, sure Rick, we could have done a lot of walking out together, but it's too late for that now. Gay, unwrap the package and let's take a look at it.'

With trembling fingers, Gay Abandon began to undo the string, which was actually a newly invented high tensile material that would later become invaluable in textile manufacture, then she pulled away the outer layer with the 1856 British Guiana one cent Black on Magenta stamp attached, to reveal a canvas with the painting of a woman sitting with her hands crossed on her lap and a sticker that read M. Lisa. By L. Da Vinci.

'C'mon, c'mon, hurry up! Let's see it!' said Hugo Furst, as Gay Abandon's shaking hands carefully tore away the painting to reveal a copy of Lee Falk's Phantom comic number one, volume one, which she tossed aside, ( though it was to be noted that Hans Kuft picked it up and slid it beneath his tunic, for a little light reading later no doubt ) and then there was a loud, dramatic chord from the piano as Thyril knelt on the keyboard to get a better look.

'His knees never played it better,' muttered Rick, beads of sweat standing out on his curled lisp.

The last fragment of a rare manuscript by Shakespeare was torn asunder by Legs and Gay... And there it lay, the treasure that many had died for over the years, The Casablancan Canary! With knocking knees the two girls stood it upright on its final covering, an ancient parchment from beneath the Sphinx.

'Look at it!' exclaimed Major Kuft, his eyes glittering with greed. 'It is beautiful, it is a work of indescribable wonderbar, worth more than a Kaiser's ransom!'

'Looks like a canary sitting on a tree stump ta me,' muttered O'Shea, unmoved.

'No, no! don't you see the wonder, the symmetry of line, the technique of the sculpture?' hissed Hugo agog. (Or is that Hugo agogo?) 'This is poetry, this is sublime...'

'Aw shaddup!' said Wendy, slapping Furst over the head. 'What do we do now Boss?'

'Muh! Eh, heh! Erm, och, er, goc pthuh!' said The Fat Man. 'Well my boy, to begin with, I will take over from this point on. Oh yes Suh! Because, as you may all observe, I now hold the whip hand.'

The others, so engrossed in their examination of the Bird, suddenly turned to find Gutman covering them with two extremely dangerous looking German luger pistols. 'Mmm, ah oh, allow me to assure you that there are more than enough bullets here for everyone, Ladies and Gentlemen. Now! To business! Wendy! Do you still have that pen knife that you stole from a boy scout?'

'Sure Boss,' Wendy Darling answered in a surly tone, noticing that he also was being covered by the two mausers in Gutman's hands.

'Good, then take it out, my boy, and scratch at the surface of The Bird. I want to see what lies beneath that cheap imitation gilt. Do it, Wendy, or you'll have mugged your last little old lady!'

Wendy began to scrape away at the Canary, but after a few minutes nothing happened. The yellow surface showed no sign of anything else beneath.

'Bah! Suh! Humbug! Another forgery! I was at least hoping for a little obsidian, or agate, cornelian, chrysoprase, sard or onyx, even a tad of malachite! And all we have here is a fake! The real Casablancan Canary is still somewhere out there! Wendy, I think we had better pay a visit to that florist fellow. After all, life is like a box of chocolates.'

'Whatdaya mean Boss, is it like ya never know what yer gonna get next?'

'No Suh, like some people always get the soft centres, and we always get the hard ones. Come Suh! And bring along that German fellow, he may still be of use to us. You go first Suh!'

Immediately, the swarthy little man darted to the door and hurried out, followed by Hans Kuft and Wendy.

'And now, if you don't mind everybody, I shall bid you adieu, ah, ec, ahem, hem ka! Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye!'

'Yeah, yeah, cheerio, here you go on yer way,' sneered O'Shea, as The Fat Man pocketed his two colt forty-five revolvers and took his leave.


'Not if I shee you first,' chuckled O'Shea.

'Rick! How can you be so calm at a time like this?' asked Gay, staring absently at the ancient Book Of Kells, which had been included instead of the steak knives in the packaging of the bird.

'Easy baby!' said O'Shea, adjusting his teeth, 'They always scratch at it, but nobody ever thinks ta do anything else!'

'What? With this useless fake?' said Legs Akimbo, stroking the bird and looking at Thyril dreamily.

'It ain't that useless,' O'Shea answered, peering closely at the statue. 'See that? That hole in its beak, and the other one in the tree branch? What's the bet that if you poured some water in there and blew inta the bottom hole it'd play Yankee Doodle, just dandy?'

'Yeah fine, we can all join in the singing,' muttered Gay. 'Meantime The Fat Man and those others are beating it and no one's stopping them!'

'Oh, I wouldn't shay that,' beamed Rick, a grin spreading across his gleaming dentures. 'Right about now a friend of mine, Captain Claude Boules of the French Police, will be arresting the whole bunch and bundling them into a van. They'll cool their heels for a while in some damp cell until the Authorities get the entire mess sorted out. Now that could take months, maybe even years... '

'And how can you be so sure that your French police Captain is waiting outside?' asked Anna Conda.

'He's always waiting outside. My guess is that he's got a thing for Thyril... '

'Well, Thyril doesn't want his thing, no thur!' thaid Thyril emphatically, as his eyes met Gay's.

'That's good to know Thyril,' she cooed.

'As I was shaying,' Rick continued, 'They always scratch, they never do anything else...'

'Like what would you suggest?' asked Anna. 'Do you want to chemically analyse it? Dip it in a bath of salts? Weigh it? X-ray it?'

'There'll be no need for that,' answered O'Shea evenly. 'Thyril, take yer eyes off the dame, and wrap yer kisser around the bird.'

'Do what Bosth?'

'You hoid me, take a slurp at it. G'wan! Do it!'

Somewhat reluctantly, Thyril took a little nibble at the log the canary was perched on. 'Mmm... tastes like... er... nougath?'

'That's what I thought it might be,' said Rick, nodding his head and flashing a toothy grin. Anna noticed one of his gold fillings blinking in the light.

'Nougat?' said Legs Akimbo, licking a finger and tracing it over the Canary, then inserting it (her finger, not the bird) into her mouth. 'Mmm, sure it's nougat! Best I ever tasted!'

'You better believe it shweetheart! This stuff's even finer than Montelimar. This is...' He waited for the dramatic pause, but when it didn't come, he continued, 'This is Xavier Nougat! Rarest and most precious of all. This bird is worth more than we could spend in five lifetimes, and there's more, (apart from the shteak knives) when we get some D.N.A. testing we'll be able to deduce the location of the mine...'

'Wish you wouldn't spell Bosth, it makes me dithhy,' said Thyril, his eyes crossing.

'What mine?' asked Legs, crossing her... fingers.

'Why the mine where they mined this. The Nougat mine, ya dumb...'

'D.N.A. testing hasn't been invented yet,' interrupted Gay.

'O.K. Then we'll get forensics to check it out... No? How about an archaeologist? Indiana Jones, yeah!'

'And you could play the lead in the film,' said Anna, brightening.

'Nah! Brad Pitt'd be better,' said Rick, shaking his head.

'Brad Pitt hasn't even been born yet Bosth,' said Thyril thoftly.

'He will be! Anyway stop putting up obstacles, this is cause for a little celebration. We're all gonna be rich as Rockafeller!' O'Shea's bowtie twirled as he swept Anna Conda into his arms. 'From now on it's gonna be you and me shister!' He looked over to Legs, Gay and Thyril, who all seemed well pleased with the night's work. 'Shay Gay! why don'tcha whip up a few o' them cocktails you always used to do when you were behind the bar. Anna and me'll have Tequila Mockingbirds in honour of The Canary. What'll you have Thyril?'

Thyril drew his arms shyly around the shoulders of the two girls. 'Me Bosth? I'll thettle for Legth Akimbo with Gay Abandon.'

Rick grinned, 'Kinda thought you might shay that. I guess you better shing the shong Thyril. You can accompany yerself on the piano, wid yer knees.'

'If you thay tho Bosth,' thaid Thyril, thettling comfortably at the keyboard, with a girl on the lid perched either side, long legs akim... er, dangling. Trilling a tiny arpeggio, he launched into, 'You musth remember this, a kiss is still a kiss, a thigh is sthill a thigh. The fundamental thingth apply, asth time goeth...'

'Here's lookin' at you Kid,' thaid Rick, torn between Anna Conda and the magnificent, nougat bust of The Casablancan Canary.

'Asth time... goeth... bye bye!'


(Steak knives not included. Conditions apply. Judges decision is final, Suh!)











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