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Publishing: The Best Advice
Joylynn M. Jossel
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.
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:
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."
self-publish, as everyone who has experienced the process already
knows, it is hard work. It is a twenty-four hour job.
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
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).
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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
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."
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
learned that I generated more sells and got the word out on my book
better by ad placing versus traveling all over town.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Ready to Write: Inspirations
by Sandy Tritt
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
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).
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.
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
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
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AuthorMe Paperback... (Released 2004)
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inspired work recreating
Critiques by Sandy
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
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
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
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
Provide my telephone number for a
personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
To subscribe and/or review our archive of past newsletters, go to
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
Book Proposal Basics: The Right Way
to Write a Book
Patricia L. Fry
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.
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
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.
nonfiction Book Proposal contains a
Cover Letter, Title Page, Synopsis
or Overview, Promotions Page, Market
Analysis, About the Author, Chapter
Outline and Sample Chapters.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
Fry is the author of 19 books,
including a new ebook, "How to
Write a Successful Book Proposal in
8 Days or Less," "The
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,
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
'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,
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
'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.'
'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?'
'Don't get cute with me shweetheart, you already know my name, now c'mon,
'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
'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
'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
'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,
'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
'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?'
'Try again Suh,' said The Fat Man, a playful smile stretching across his
'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
'Very good Suh, Wendy will make sure that we are not interrupted whilst we
have our little chat.'
Copyright II: Copyright and the Public
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
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
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
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
'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
'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
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
'Looks like a canary sitting on a tree stump ta me,' muttered O'Shea,
'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
'Aw shaddup!' said Wendy, slapping Furst over the head. 'What do we do now
'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
'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
'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
'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,