Beating a Dead Horse

Beating a Dead Horse

Artwork by Melissa Stevens @

“Beating a Dead Horse” is the follow-up to the original poem of clichés, “Once Upon a Time.”

Out of the gate, the detective was bored out of his mind.

Not a single person was even horsing around.

He couldn’t hold his horses for a case to work on.

It was a one-horse town, but it wasn’t his horse.

Then a damsel in distress strolled into his office.

She was a bombshell; a perfect ten; out of his league.

He was a silly goose to be daydreaming about her.

What chance did a loser like him have with a girl like her?

So he picked his eyeballs off the floor and stuttered like glue.

Turns out her horse had been murdered in the dead of winter.

Even worse, she caught someone beating the dead horse.

It was a knight in shining armor beating the poor beast like a drum.

A knight living in 2013? Sounded like an open and shut case.

It would have been a challenge if the knight had had some horse sense.

What kind of fool would linger at the scene of the crime like that?

He told the damsel that he would take care of the matter.

The next morning he went to see the horse with his own eyes.

It was an absolute nightmare; the horse was literally black and blue.

Now that was a horse of a different color.

Her story fit: The horse had been struck by the broad end of a sword.

The detective went to the station to call in a favor.

They gave him the address to the only castle within a hundred miles.

Sure enough, he found the culprit just where he thought he would be.

The detective asked the knight to confess to his sins.

He had no doubt, but wanted to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

But it was no use: The knight wouldn’t say a word.

It was like putting the cart before the horse, without first having proof.

So the detective went outside to dig up the buried hatchet.

Of course, it was a sword, not a hatchet, but you get the idea.

The sword had the knight’s fingerprints all over it.

However, the knight still denied it. He pleaded innocent.

Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

There was one thing the detective needed to make his case: Motive.

What he had was only close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades.

The detective pried into the knight’s life like a crowbar.

Turns out that the knight was up to his ears in debt.

He had been sued for food that turned out to be horse meat.

So the knight had bet all of his money on a long shot.

He was hoping it would be a dark horse that would make his day.

But the damsel’s horse edged it out by a nose.

The knight begged the damsel for mercy.

He lost his cool when the damsel got on her high horse.

That’s when the knight plotted his revenge.

The knight showed up at her house with a box of chocolates.

She had been hungry enough to eat a horse.

So she looked the gift horse straight in the mouth.

That candy had a sedative that knocked her out like a light.

The knight slipped into the stable to do his dirty work.

But he was too late: The horse was already stone dead.

The horse’s heart just couldn’t take it anymore.

The knight couldn’t even do a simple thing like kill a horse.

So he took his frustrations out on the poor horse’s corpse.

The case was solved; it was a done deal; finis.

He reported his findings to the damsel. She was impressed.

What the heck? He got up the courage to ask her out.

The worst she could do was crush his heart like a bug.

Yet that didn’t happen: She took him up on his offer.

They got married and lived happily ever after.

He never could figure out what she saw in him.

Not that he minded one little bit.

He would have given an arm and a leg to be with her.

And that’s exactly what she saw in him: chivalry.

In the end, it didn’t take armor to be a knight.

Click here to see the original poem of clichés, “Once Upon a Time.”

Copyright © 2013 Chris McMullen. Educators and parents may use this poem for free for non-commercial, instructional purposes.

Book Reviews, Interviews, Guest Blogs, & Author Support

Cool Books

I see many bloggers doing book reviews, author interviews, guest blogs, and supporting authors in several ways. That’s awesome! 🙂

I’ve been wanting to do such things for some time now, but the main hurdle has been something that I often preach on my blog:

  • Gear your content toward your specific target audience.

If you write a sci-fi book, for example, a blog that attracts sci-fi readers is the best place for a book review or author interview. Much of the content on my blog, in contrast, is of general interest to many different kinds of authors.

As you may have seen in a recent post, I finally thought of a way to help provide a small measure of support for specific authors and books in the context of my usual content. I plan to make more posts of this sort in the future, including:

  • Demonstrating what is marketable about specific books.
  • Illustrating marketing strategies that specific authors are employing.
  • Showing specific book covers that work well.
  • Discussing marketing features that specific author websites are utilizing.
  • Describing specific books, authors, or websites that provide good examples of some marketing, publishing, or formatting concept.

I feel that specific examples can be instructive, and by featuring a specific book or author, I would be supporting fellow authors in a small way.

Note that I will only mention books or authors by name that I feel are doing something well. Although it may be instructive to point out mistakes, I won’t point out any mistakes of specific books. (When I do point out common mistakes, which can be useful, I do it in general terms, not in reference to any specific books or authors. Well, I may point out my own mistakes, but that’s different.)

Another way that I plan to provide a little support to fellow authors is with some new pages. You can see one of the new pages already, called Cool Books (look for it on the index at the top of the page or in the sidebar to the right). It just has a few scary books right now, but I’ll be adding to it as I get the chance (keep in mind that I’m also working on the Read Tuesday stuff).

If you have an author interview or guest blog in mind that coincides with the publishing or marketing content that I often provide on this blog (e.g. you want to discuss your publishing or marketing experience), please feel encouraged to contact me with your proposal. 🙂

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)