Books written by Ray Sullivan

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Reading This Blog Could Cause a Security Crisis!

Unlike many people I'm not paranoid about Government Agencies snooping around my on-line life.  I suppose my twenty four years carrying an RAF ID card and complying with the security strictures of the Ministry of Defence have inured me to the concerns about individual privacy that many harbour.

This article by the Daily Mail, a UK newspaper, highlights - or for those of us who have known about this for some time, reminds - us that anything we post on-line, even (especially) in blogs but also in Social media such as Twitter and Facebook can be monitored by agencies such as GCHQ in Cheltenham, UK or various agencies in the US including Homeland Security.  Such is the level of traffic floating around the web now they have to resort to sophisticated routines that look for specific words or phrases that may have sinister meanings.  Such as Bomb, Terror, Rupert Murdoch - you get the idea.

It's been going on a long time, probably since the dawn of the public Internet, and I'm personally not concerned - but then again I'm always pleased to add more readers to my blog, so perhaps my viewpoint is skewed!  I don't know what I find more surprising - the article being posted at the end of 2011 or the comments made in reply. 

I guess some of the chapters in Da Dan Brown Code might have rung the odd alarm in one of these agencies - from recollection I've mentioned the Patriot Act, GCHQ and I'm sure there were a few other references in Da Dan Brown Code that might have caused someone to take a brief second look.  But as I sit here on a very windy afternoon preparing Project: Evil for serialisation I realise that the bells are going to be ringing a lot more frequently and louder than ever.  For all I know, the various agencies may have the technology to monitor those who read my blog, so I'm giving both of you fair warning!

Over the next few months, three times a week, I'm going to be making regular references to Weapons of Mass Destruction, Evil Organisations, Megalomaniacs, Torture, Murder, David Cameron, Secret Missile Bases, Henchmen and Safestyle UK.  If that lot doesn't get the GCHQ alarms ringing, nothing will.  If that list has hit an intelligence analyst's desk then can I make a couple of suggestions - first, bookmark the blog and flag it as mostly harmless - there are way more dangerous bloggers out there than me - and secondly, sign up to the blog - that way you can read my attempt to rip your industry apart three times a week, starting 8 January 2012.

Now where did I bury that neutron bomb I stole from the RAF before I left?

I can be followed on Twitter - @RayASullivan

Visit my books on
Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony and many other good ebookstores.

For quick access to the various Kindle, Kobo, WH Smith and Smashword links please use the table below to view my books

To View My books In....

Friday, 30 December 2011

Da Dan Brown Code - Chapter Thirty Eight

This page used to house a chapter of 'Da Dan Brown Code', which was serialised on this blog between October 2011 and January 2012, then it was published as 'The Last Simple'.  The story is now available as both an eBook (from all major eBook retailers) and as a paperback from Amazon.  I left it in more or less totality on thDa Dan Brown Code chaptere blog for free until April 2013 as a gesture of goodwill to those who follow my blog and enjoy my writing.  However I have chosen to remove most of it from the blog and make it available only from those pesky eBook retailers (and Amazon for the paperback, of course).

I'm not totally mean,  though, so I've left the ten most visited chapters on the blog still available for reading and, to make it even easier, I've left links to all ten below.  Enjoy the ten selected chapters and please consider visiting the book page on my website (link below)


                                                          Visit my Book Website here

        Visit Project: Evil Website here                                        Visit DLF Website here

        Follow me on Twitter  - @RayASullivan

        Join me on Facebook -  use to find me

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Newspapers' Last Post - Print Books Next?

An American Research Centre,  the University of Southern California, is about to release the results of a major study into the future of printed Newspapers in the US, and if you have shares in any of them it won't make comfortable reading.

Newspaper sales have been falling in the US and in the UK for some time, and UK columnists have been predicting the impending cessation of printed newspapers for over a year to my certain knowledge, but their assessment hasn't been based on research, just insider observations.

The US research, to be published in January 2012, indicates that by 2016 there will be only four major print newspapers in the US - the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and USA Today.  They also expect small, niche newspapers to continue to exist in that format beyond 2016.  In a separate piece of research, carried out by polling experts YouGov, it is anticipated that the Amazon Kindle Fire, expected to be released in the UK in January, will lead a tablet revolution in the UK.  That revolution is already seriously underway in the US and is almost certainly underpinning the transition from print to on-line news media.

Given that the US is twelve to twenty-four months ahead of the UK in technology adoption this indicates that print newspapers could be dead in the water in the UK by 2018 and by 2020 it is probable that the rest of Europe will fall in line.  Worryingly for newspapers readying to transition to on-line presence is additional research by YouGov that indicates that on-line advertising doesn't work, and traditionally newspapers have been part funded by that medium.

It looks like there will be a need for alternative ways of funding newspapers if they are to exist in any meaningful way.  Many are offering subscription rates for on-line content, but take up isn't great right now.  From what I've seen of the offers they look expensive, especially for someone who doesn't routinely buy a newspaper  anyway.  What would appeal me to me would be a subscription that allowed me to download a copy of one newspaper today, a different one in a couple of days' time, perhaps a magazine that took my fancy at the weekend.  As I used up my subscription the owners of the on-line media would be paid a part of it - now that's a service a company like Amazon could put together and run handsomely.  Also, it's something Rupert Murdoch's News International could put together, as long as subscribers were happy to limit themselves to his admittedly extensive range of newspapers, periodicals and access to his Sky network.  I suspect that the current trend for newspapers to place very short summaries of the news on their websites for free will continue, with the carrot being to use your subscription to access the full story plus the rest of the day's newspaper.

The move from print to electronic media brings mixed blessings - I'm not a sentimentalist where technological developments are concerned, but I appreciate that many people are concerned at the passing of familiar ways of working.  However its only a heartbeat in time since computers entered the daily working life yet nobody seriously expects any business or work activity to not use them today.  I expect a transition from newspaper employed journalists to increasing numbers of freelance writers; heck, even bloggers may get a look in as the formats are changed to reflect the new media!  Newspapers will become less discrete and more reflective of what is happening now, as television news does already.

And newspapers aren't the only area where print will decline.  Books are being eclipsed by the ebook movement and the increasing functionality of the new tablets such as the Kindle Fire, Kobo Vox and Nook Color coupled with their inherent portability are going to accelerate the process.  I haven't stumbled across any formal research to indicate when print books will cease to be a meaningful part of the industry yet - I've guesstimated five to ten years for all but the niche bookshops to disappear but perhaps, based on the academic predictions for newspapers , I'm over-estimating the demise?

I can be followed on Twitter - @RayASullivan

Visit my books on
Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony and many other good ebookstores.

For quick access to the various Kindle, Kobo, WH Smith and Smashword links please use the table below to view my books

To View My books In....

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Da Dan Brown Code - Chapter Thirty Seven

Chapter Thirty Seven
‘What was that?’ asked Lady Bartholomew.  

‘It was a knock.  At the door.  I thought that was reasonably straightforward to work out,’ Bradford replied, his concerns about closet Illiterati resurfacing.  He hoped it wasn’t Tinkers doing the resurfacing as they’d made a crap job of Mrs Sourmat’s drive.

‘Open up, it’s the police,’ shouted Ryder.  Bradford looked at the human sized containers sat on the conveyors, then back at the door. Lady Bartholomew understood immediately.

‘Oh God, you’re claustrophobic too, I suppose,’ she said with contempt in her voice. A most unusual flavour for rock, she decided.

‘Like any other lead character in a thriller,’ replied Bradford, defensively.  It was part of the job description, along with the morbid fear of heights, dribbling food down his shirt and shitting his pants.  Mainly at the same time.  Bradford started the four conveyors running.

‘Choose a cart,’ he said, climbing into one at random, slipping it into first.  As he passed through the wall he wondered what would be on the other side.


Ryder ran at the door, leading with his shoulder, following with pretty much the rest of his body, bursting the door wide open.  Daniels walked in behind Ryder, wondering if a door could be burst open narrowly.

‘Empty, except for four conveyors leading out,’ noted Ryder, ‘Any ideas?’

‘Sure.  It’s an empty room full of rock.  We got it wrong, I knew we should have chased that milk float,’ replied Daniels.  Ryder stooped down and picked up a cuff link bearing the Bartholomew Coat of Arms.

‘Get in,’ he said, pointing at the two remaining carts.


The carts started up the incline, side by side.  Bradford felt the still air ruffle his hair as it whipped about his head.  Looking around he could see Blackpool Tower behind them as their carts climbed up to the height of the Tower itself. 

‘Oh this is such fun,’ exclaimed Lady Bartholomew.  ‘Look, bingo halls.’ Then she lowered her arms from the raised position to question Bradford’s scowl.  ‘What?’

‘Well I did say I was claustrophobic, and now we’re outside at the same height as Blackpool Tower,’ replied Bradford, fiddling with the flapping cuff on his pyjama jacket, before putting the bow down.

‘Is that food on your pyjama top?’ asked Lady Bartholomew as the carts levelled off.  Bradford looked forward and saw the tracks disappear in front of him as both carts tipped downwards, running under a sign that said “They’re Off”.  ‘And what is that smell?’ asked Lady Bartholomew as the two carts hurtled down the track.


Ryder watched the two carts disappear over the top of the incline.

‘We’ve got to catch them up,’ he shouted to Daniels in the cart alongside him.  ‘Look for a short cut when we get to the top of this hill.


‘Duck!’ shouted Bradford as the carts hurtled towards a low bridge, realising at the last second that it was a drake.

‘Close enough,’ said Lady Bartholomew, losing her tiara as they passed underneath.  They gripped the handrails as the carts shot up the track and hit a sharp right hander that scratched the side of the carts.  Bradford turned his head as far as the centrifugal force allowed.

‘We’re being followed,’ he shouted at Lady Bartholomew, ‘and they’re gaining on us.’

‘Hold tight,’ said Lady Bartholomew, pushing the gas to the floor, ‘it’s time to go separate ways,’ she said, swinging away from Bradford’s cart and accelerating up the next track.


Ryder watched the manoeuvre ahead.

‘We’re going to have to split up,’ he said to Daniels.  Daniels was confused; he knew they’d been cooperating better, but hadn’t realised they were an item.  And now, apparently, it was over. To make it even more confusing for Daniels, Ryder wasn’t finished.

‘If you come across the clown before I do, book him,’ said Ryder, pulling off to one side.


Missed the beginning? Click here to go to Chapter One

'Da Dan Brown Code' is published  as 'The Last Simple'. Anyone who is registered as following either my blog or Twitter account will receive instructions on how to obtain a free e-copy of 'The Last Simple' shortly after  this series is finished.

If you've enjoyed this chapter of 'Da Dan Brown Code' then check out the earlier chapters in my blog and, if you haven't done so already, why not follow the blog. 'Da Dan Brown Code' is being serialised three times a week on Sundays,Wednesdays and Fridays until the final chapter!

If you know someone who has a warped sense of humour please pass them the link to my blog so that they can enjoy 'Da Dan Brown Code'.

I can be followed on Twitter too - @RayASullivan

Visit my books on Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony, WH Smith, Kobo and many other good ebookstores

For quick access to the various Kindle, Kobo, WH Smith and Smashword links please use the table below to view my books

To View My books In....

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Ebook buying for Newbies

By all accounts Amazon shifted three million Kindles in their various variants in the final weeks of the pre-Christmas run up in the US alone.  I doubt they shifted the same amount in the UK and other territories, but all told I expect there are maybe five million new Kindle owners worldwide.  Add to that the new Kobos, Sonys, Bebooks etc, plus I guess Apple might have shifted the odd iPad as well, and you have a lot of new eBook readers struggling to find books.

So, to anyone who has just entered the world of eBooks - welcome.  It's not a perfect world, in my opinion anyway.  This edition of my blog is dedicated to helping the new members of the eBook fraternity to get to grips with their new devices, in particular finding books to read.

First off I'll set my stall out - I write and self publish eBooks on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Sony etc.  Information about my books is generally posted at the end of every blog so you can choose to look at or ignore at your leisure.  The only other warning I should issue is that I believe many eBooks to be overpriced - I'm on a bit of a mission to try and drive eBook prices down.  If you want to know more, take a wander through my earlier blogs and you'll get a feel for my opinions there.  Mind you, not all authors share my enthusiasm for cheaper eBooks - Irish writer Declan Burke presents an alternative argument.  Ultimately, it's your Dollar/Pound/Euro we're chasing, so I'll leave you to decide.

Next, can I congratulate you on joining the future.  The reality is that paper based books are an endangered species - sure there will be campaigns to revert back to the old way of reading. it's a bit like the renaissance being enjoyed by vinyl records - it's niche, and it's unlikely to last that long. Like vinyl, paper based books are about to become an anachronism.  It's difficult to imagine a world without paper based books, but that's because we've always had them around us.  By the time you read this you've probably had a play with your eReader and realised that, actually, it is incredibly good for reading books on.  I find that the only people who insist they couldn't read on anything other than a book haven't actually tried reading on an eReader - they may have some experience of reading on a PC or Mac, but that isn't the same by a long chalk.

Your biggest problem isn't finding ebooks - there's millions floating around - it's finding ones you want ot read at a fair price.  As a self published author I'm not going to promote pirate copies - they're out there in the same way pirate music is - but I am keen to nudge you to wherever the better priced books are.

First of all, you're not locked in to whichever manufacturer you've bought or been given.  Obviously Kindle owners should look at the Amazon Kindle store for books, but if you're not afraid to connect your Kindle up by USB to your PC and transfer books you can find the same and alternative books on a site called Smashwords.  Most authors price their books the same on both sites (Smashwords caters for all eReaders and formats) but you may find the book you are looking at a bit cheaper.

For Apple folks it's possible that you can make even bigger savings.  Apple have a no-nonesense pricing policy that in the US means books are priced in $0.99 increments ($0.99, $1.99, $2,99 etc), in the UK and Europe it's a little different but follows a similar trend (£0.49, £0.99, £1.49, £1.99 etc for UK, put a Euro sign in front for the rest of Europe).  What this means is that frequently books are more expensive on Apple than on other eReaders - although for a while my books were cheaper, so always check.  What you may not have realised two days into owning your iPad is that you can download Kindle, Kobo and, I think, Nook eReaders as Apps for free so you can read ebooks on your iPad from multiple sources, choosing the best prices for the books.  This should also be true for those of you who have recieved a Kobo Vox or an Amazon Kindle Fire, except of course, you can't run the iBook app on anything except an Apple device (if anyone knows differently, let me know).

So there are possiblities to shop around for your books.  If you have a Kindle then you may have already experienced the whispersync feature - that is so seductively smooth and efficient it will deter you from looking eleswhere for books unless the savings are significant, but don't be afraid to look anyway.  For other eReaders that don't have a comparable service the tendency to stick with the device manufacturer's website is less compelling.

But your biggest problem is finding the books you want to read.  As I've said, there's literally millions of books, many of them free.  A lot of the free books are classics that are out of copyright - you'll either like reading old books or you won't.  The rest are made up of books that probably wouldn't sell at any price and often don't deserve to take up your device storage.  Not all, though.  Some authors will allow their books to be given away as a loss leader to get you to consider buying their priced books.  There's also some books that are provided free as a service to the public - the recently released compendium of the Queen's Christmas Speeches discussed in an earlier blog, for example.

Just above free books are those that sell for $0.99 or its equivelant in other currencies - £0.86 including VAT in the UK right now, for example.  That's the price point I pitch my books at and generally I buy at too (up to and just beyond £1.00 does for me).  You can find mainstream authors pitching at this price point as well, and it's worth following blogs like this to get notice of deals being done.  The standard of book available at this price point is extremely variable - there appears to be a lot of short stories (circa 4000 words), generally pornographic in nature, being pitched.  I have no idea how well they sell, or indeed how well they're written, but it seems a lot for what is the length of a magazine article to me.  Amazon aren't very helpful in advising how long a book is but you can generally get an idea by the file size - over 300kb for normal length books.  Smashwords tells you how many words are in a book, which is much more useful.  70,000 upwards is normal for a novel.

After that price point, you can pay as much as you like (I generally don't like - told you I'm on a mission).  It's not unusual for ebooks that are also in print to cost as much as and even more than the printed version, despite the manufacturing costs being much lower.  There is consumer resistance to this now and I expect the unit costs to fall in 2012.

So, how do you find your books?  Well, monitoring the home pages of your chosen suppliers for deals is a good start.  Recommendations by people you trust is as good a method as any, as is looking up authors you've read and enjoyed.  I tend to search by genre, price and make a decision based on the blurb.  I don't tend to bother with reader reviews - I've not found them that reliable, especially the glowing ones.  I suspect some authors place their own reviews or arrange for them to be placed by friends and family.  You can download a sample of a book you fancy for free - Smashwords tends to give a more generous sample than Amazon, so it may be worth using them for that even if you ultimately want to use the Amazon site.  I know some people download samples of free books, which I find bizarre, but we're all different.  I don't usually bother with a sample unless the book exceeds my Scrooge-like limits - if the price is in range and the blurb is reasonable I'll give it a punt, I couldn't be bothered with a sample for something that costs less than half a pint of beer. 

Ultimately I think the industry needs a better way to help you find the books you want.  The genre search is way too vague to be useful, keywords rarely turn up anything I want to read.  Amazon let you search by most popular, but I have a suspicion that might be a bit rigged, unless most people want to pay £8 for an ebook - perhaps I'm the biggest miser in Britain?  So you do have a trawl to find the books for your new device, but once you find authors that suit your reading style you should really enjoy the benefits of eReading devices.  Good luck, and if you find any smart tools for locating books please contact me so I can share them.


I can be followed on Twitter - @RayASullivan

Visit my books on
Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony and many other good ebookstores.

For quick access to the various Kindle, Kobo, WH Smith and Smashword links please use the table below to view my books

To View My books In....

Monday, 26 December 2011

A Gift of an Idea From Smashwords

Perhaps it's a case of 'great minds think alike' (or perhaps 'fools rarely differ') but you may recall from an earlier blog I suggested that it would be great if people could gift ebooks in the same way that we gift paper based books (and writing this on Christmas day, I'm guessing a few of you have had that pleasure today) see 'ebook Vigilante'.  I proposed a system where not only could you gift a book, but perhaps the author could personalise the gift for you.

I did suggest that if anyone thought there was mileage in the idea then perhaps they ought to send Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, a link to my blog.  I don't know if that happened or not, but Smashwords have just announced a facility to gift ebooks - a few days late as Christmas could have been a good opportunity to send your friends copies of your favourite books, but I guess that's software projects for you!  Mark doesn't recommend authors using the gifting method as he prefers the voucher system as a promotional tool, but from my perspective I can see that I can lend a personal touch to those who want to read my books or inflict them on someone else.

Anyway, I applaud Smashword's new facility - it's good for all the books in the system as far as I can tell and it doesn't cost you a penny more than the books normally cost.  I'm happy to provide a personalised message for each of my books which I will email to you if you would like one.  My instinct is to produce a generic card similar to the one above, having the book cover on one side and the standard book blurb on the other with perhaps a short message from myself.  If you want one to add to a gift of one of my books then email me on and let me know if you want anything specific adding to the text - then you can buy the book using the gifting button to generate a unique code that the recipient will need to use on Smashwords to access their gifted book.  Please note I don't monitor the above email address as frequently as I do my personal one so if you need a quick response then please contact me via my Twitter account - that's an open account so anyone can sign up to follow it. 

Changing tack - I hope you all enjoyed Da Dan Brown Code Christmas Special yesterday.  You'll be pleased to know that the crew have returned to their day jobs and are readying themselves to finish the book off over the next week or so.  If you can't wait for the ending on the blog then you can read it sooner - I've uploaded Da Dan Brown Code as 'The Last Simple' on Smashwords and Amazon, usual price of $0.99 plus tax.

Of course, if you follow me on Twitter or this blog then you'll be entitled to a free copy in a week or so time, so if you haven't signed up yet, now's your opportunity.  I suppose it does beggar the question - if you've been reading the story all the way through and it's available on the blog for free anyway, why would any rational person pay for a copy?

Well, ignoring the assumption that anyone reading Da Dan Brown Code from the beginning might be rational (the writer certainly isn't), then I guess there are a couple of possible answers to the question.

One - you might want all of the story in one, compact and easy-to-read format, loaded on your eReader so that you can regale sections to unwitting rail passengers on your morning commute.

Or two, staying in fantasy land, you may want to make a contribution to the Ray Sullivan Fund dedicated to researching the ultimate tolerance point of the human liver.  I think mine is proving to be quite resilient right now, but more research is needed - all contributions gratefully received.

The book is available now - clearly the process is faster now than it was in the early summer when I uploaded DLF, judging by the way the book was sucked up by both websites.  It's on Amazon right now - I wasn't expecting anything from them initially as they have historically taken about three working days to make a book available.  I think the delay was due to their text to speech conversion where a mechanised voice is used to read your book out - good luck with word-pun city, pals.  Personally I suspect Stephen Hawking is probably spending some time at home with his family so the text to speech may be delayed.  Smashwords seemed to be going great guns, but then the site crashed after telling me The Last Simple was uploaded - not a good omen, but there you go.  Half an hour later it appeared amongst a large number of essays that have been launched as ebooks at about the same time - sorry, but I just don't get the concept of a 4000 word 'ebook'.

Final change of tack - I've mentioned the next blog book, Project Evil, on several occasions.  As reported recently it isn't finished but I've calculated that I can post three times a week until early March with the twenty thousand words I have now, based on breaking the chapters down to chunks between 500 and 800 words a time.  That'll give me time to complete the book - I hope, gulp.

Please continue to enjoy the holidays and thanks for visiting the blog.

I can be followed on Twitter - @RayASullivan

Visit my books on
Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony and many other good ebookstores.

For quick access to the various Kindle, Kobo, WH Smith and Smashword links please use the table below to view my books

To View My books In....

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Amazon's Twelve Days of Christmas

Amazon in the UK are running a promotion right now called the 12 days of Christmas - they ran it last year and I picked up some cracking books at a good price.  I'd be very surprised if Amazon US aren't running a similar promotion.  What is surprising is how deeply Amazon have hidden the promotion - my wife got an email advertising it but I didn't.  She bought me my Kindle last Christmas, which is why they are emailing her, I guess, but I buy the books.  I looked on their main UK website and couldn't find reference to the promotion.  Anyway, the link to the UK promotion is on the first line of this blog, so feel free to pass it around.

One of the books I picked up last year was The Hanging Shed, by Gordon Ferris which led me to look at his other books including one that is included in this year's promotion - Truth, Dare, Kill.  I can heartily recommend this book as a ripping yarn, at £0.99 it's worth a peek.

I haven't seen anything new in this year's list that is enticing me so far, but this is day one and of course my taste isn't necessarily yours.  If you are a Kindle user and you're looking for some New Year reading, take a look at the 12 days promotion.

I can be followed on Twitter - @RayASullivan

Visit my books on
Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony and many other good ebookstores.

For quick access to the various Kindle, Kobo, WH Smith and Smashword links please use the table below to view my books

To View My books In....

Da Dan Brown Code Christmas Special

The Christmas Special Chapter

'Right, sod this for a game of monkeys,' declared Lady Bartholomew, getting up and gathering her ball gown around her.  'It's Christmas Day, so I'm going back to my trailer,' she said, storming out of the paragraph, shouting behind her, 'I've got a full drinks cabinet waiting for anyone who fancies a drop.'

'What about the story?' asked Bradford, nervously.  He'd never walked out on a novel in his career, but then again he'd signed up for a full print run and was now being strung out chapter by chapter in a blog.  It didn't get much more humiliating.

'She's right,' said Lucas, licking his lips.  'This writer's taking the piss, if you ask me,' he added, leaving before the highly predictable asterisk turned up.


'Oh, typical, you've got a much bigger trailer than me,' declared Bradford, settling down in the couch with a large bourbon.  Lady Bartholomew was drinking Guinness herself, but then again the day was young and she had every intention of getting wasted.  She pulled out a packet of cigarettes.

'Whoa, you can't do that,' said Bradford, slamming his drink down forcefully.  Lady Bartholomew looked confused at the outburst - as far as she was aware the smoking ban didn't apply to fiction.  Bradford recognised the look, it was one of his, used throughout the majority of the book.  If she'd asked, he'd have had it gift wrapped for her.

'You've already stated that you don't smoke, you're going to confuse the readers,' he said.  Lady Bartholomew laughed at the thought - she didn't personally care if either reader was confused.  She put her head close to Bradford's.

'What are your plans after all this finally finishes?' she asked.  Bradford shrugged.

'I've been offered a supporting role in Dan Brown's new novel,' he said.

'But?' asked Lady Bartholomew, sinking the Guinness in one go and slipping a Creme de Menthe in quickly after.

'He gets bumped off in chapter forty seven,' said Bradford, sipping his bourbon carefully, he didn't want to drop the bottle.  Lady Bartholomew understood immediately.

'It's not worth the effort, just to be written out on page seven,' she agreed, looking up as the trailer door opened dramatically.  Belsen made his entrance.

'Hello darlings,' he said as he waltzed into the trailer, his smoking jacket fastened up carefully and his shoes shined to perfection, a cravat loosely tied around his neck.  'Be a love and get me a stiff drink, and don't spare the cherry,' he declared, a hand on his hip.  Then he caught sight of Bradford.

'Oh my, who's Mister Grumpy on Christmas Day?' he asked, mincing over to his favourite lead.  'Why the long face, Braddy Babe?' he asked, adding, 'No pressies for Crimbo?'   Bradford forced a smile; Belsen might be acting in the book, but the loathing was true for him.  He had a pressing question, though.

'How do you do that mind reading stuff?  It really freaks me out,' he asked.

'It's a trick, just a sleight of italics,' replied Belsen, flicking his fringe.  'Change the font, and while everyone's adjusting to the slope, look ahead a few lines.  Easy when you know how,' he said.  Ryder sidled up to them.

'So, you admit being a psychic fraud?' he asked an embarrassed Belsen.

'It's fiction, for goodness sake,' replied Belsen.

'Nobody got hurt,' interjected Lady Bartholomew.  Daniels wandered over, a pint of lager in his hand.

'Except you've admitted to having two readers, are you suggesting they don't count?' he asked.

'Of course they don't count,' said Lady Bartholomew, 'otherwise they wouldn't have made it past chapter thirty.  To chapter thirty three, or whatever comes next,' she said, looking flustered, reminding Bradford that the Illiterati had friends in high places.

'At least they've got a life outside of this story,' he grumbled, looking for a second bottle of Bourbon.  It was only eight o'clock on Christmas morning and he'd finished his first bottle already, but then again, he was a stickler for tradition.

'Never mind all that,' interjected Lord Bartholomew, a copy of Variety in one hand, a Gin and Tonic in the other.  'It says here that the book is being filmed in the New Year, apparently the Author's struck the deal himself, wouldn't let anyone else negotiate the terms.'  Bradford took the proffered newspaper and scanned the article.

'It says it's a straight-to-Betamax?' he said, furrowing his brow.  He actually wanted to furrow someone else's but they were all busy in another part of the chapter.

'I suppose he knows what he's doing,' said Lord Bartholomew, unconvincingly, a sentiment shared by the readers.  The unconvinced bit, that is.

'Wasn't Betamax better?' asked Lady Bartholomew.

'That's not the point,' said Bradford, pointing at her chest.  Lady Bartholomew tutted.

'I think you'll find it is now,' she said, looking at his finger.  Bradford retracted the digit and continued anyway.

'But nobody will be able to watch it,' he protested, to an indifferent crowd.

'As opposed to no-one reading it?' suggested Lucas, before changing the subject.  'Are we having a Christmas barbie?' he asked.  Lady Bartholomew was visibly shocked, as being invisibly shocked is pretty much a waste of time in a dramatic piece, and boy, is she dramatic, thought Lucas.

'Good Lord no, we're British.  We stick to tradition in this country, especially the Landed Gentry.  McDonalds are preparing a take out for us later,' she huffed.  'Anyway Bradford, I've got you a present,' she declared, pulling up her ball gown and pulling out a small parcel.  Bradford's heart raced, beating his kidneys by half a lap.  His lungs came in third. 

'For me?' he asked as he took the present off Lady Bartholomew.  Pulling the paper apart he stared at the present, as he couldn't look at the past or future.

'It's my glint,' he said, popping it in, blinking rapidly as he'd got used to being without it.

Lady Bartholomew smiled to herself - the hired hand hadn't realised that she'd fobbed him off with a second hand glint, picked up at a market stall in-between chapters.  Now perhaps he'd stop whinging and, more importantly, might forget about the fee.

'Time to crack open the single malt,' she declared.

'What about the turkey,' asked Bradford, showing his glint off to everyone.  Lady Bartholomew huffed, it had been going so well.

You're going to have to specify which chapter you're talking about, or the glint gets returned, she said, despairing at the hired hand.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Bah Humbug; whichever applies to your personal persuasion!
Missed the beginning? Click here to go to Chapter One

'Da Dan Brown Code' will be published in early January as 'The Last Simple'. Anyone who is registered as following either my blog or Twitter account will receive instructions on how to obtain a free e-copy of 'The Last Simple' shortly after it is published.

If you've enjoyed this chapter of 'Da Dan Brown Code' and haven't read the whole story then check out the earlier chapters in my blog and, if you haven't done so already, why not follow the blog. 'Da Dan Brown Code' has been serialised three times a week on Sundays,Wednesdays and Fridays until today.

Alternatively, why not buy 'The Last Simple' when it is published - it will have all the chapters in the book, most in the right order, and also the Christmas special and the deleted chapter.

I can be followed on Twitter too - @RayASullivan

Visit my books on Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony, WH Smith, Kobo and many other good ebookstores

For quick access to the various Kindle, Kobo, WH Smith and Smashword links please use the table below to view my books

To View My books In....