Nailing Jello to the Ceiling

Nailing jello to the ceiling: That’s a good description of my life the last while. As soon as you get one bit to stick, the next falls off. And you go through a lot of nails, for limited success. (I get my dive compressor- but I can’t use it, because a $3.90 valve got damaged in transit. We have three old vehicles, because one will inevitably break down. Only today it was all three. I thought I’d get the post done early so I could focus on finishing the next Bolg, so I can get to the edits for Changeling’s Island. Only we had a rare thunderstorm, and an 8 hour power failure as a result, the longest we’ve had since we left Africa. I have to melt lead, for sinkers and dive weights, which as I couldn’t write I thought I’d better do. Only my cobbled together drip irrigation had burst, and soaked the firewood (and this is a task I do outdoors, upwind. Not where it’s going to be in the grazing or garden either. I thought I’d do it on gas… no gas in an open cylinder, not worth opening for a small job… etc. etc.)

Of course, bloody minded determination eventually got some of the tasks done. When you’re determined, and ingenious, you can spread the jello out, freeze it, and get it up there at least until it semi-thaws and falls with a sickening splush down the back of your landlord’s wife’s neck.

And that, relatively briefly is what I wanted to talk about – both ingenuity and determination, and of course, the landlord’s wife’s neck, or at least its metaphorical equivalent.

Look, both writing and selling fiction are — to use the PC euphemism which will in come to mean exactly whatever ‘nasty’ expression it has replaced — challenging. In this case I believe it means f…ing hard, but yet we somehow succeed (at least until the ‘Splush’ moment). You’d have to be mentally challenged to do it . In this case that means barking mad or really stupid or probably both. None-the-less a lot of us are at it, holding the jello up, nails in our mouths and hammers on our thumbs.

The key here is not just bang them in faster (yes, that helps, more work out there helps) but to bang them in cleverer too. You look at freezing. Or large washers on each nail. Or extra gelatin. Part of that better nailing and freezing is making the story such that readers come and help you hold up the jello – picking an area that readers want to read, that is underserved. Of course in fashion of these moving problems then the issue gets to be telling them. Which, alas means social media. Which is a lot of work, and requires, long term effort and at least not alienating more people than you attract. Pricing too is another technique, along with ‘free’. All of these work, but none of them work alone. And none really work unless the jello is pretty well set (it’s a good story, and well edited and reasonably proofed).

Maybe the best answer is to climb into the attic (be famous already) and nail it to the other side of the ceiling.
Or we could just flip the house upside-down and hope no-one notices.
My own house-flips for the week –

Which is a good stocking-filler for younger readers, and includes a story by yours monkeyily. I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the stories, the editing, and the effort the editors put into selling it. It’s a great learning excercise to look in on their web-page and see how they did it.

And of course a complete roof-ridge balance for me – Joy has been out three days. Thank you so much to the kind reviewers! Some people are more perceptive than I deserve.

As usual, pictures are links.
I hope you like our sunset this evening.

How to have it fall down splush… attack your landlord = the readers.


  1. Howdy Dr Monkey,

    I’ve been reading, and enjoying, the first chapters of Joy, but found the name Isabella Da Freitas a bit problematic. Da Freitas is not a proper Portuguese surname. It should be de Freitas, or just Freitas (the de, da, do, dos, das prepositions before Portuguese surnames are optional, de Freitas and Freitas are the same surname), but never Da Freitas. It’s possible you’re using a Portuguese surname mangled by some bureaucrat in a non Portuguese speaking country somewhere, then it’s not a problem. But it still looks so, so wrong. Yuck! :0)

    There’s also a possible problem with Isabella. The correct Portuguese spelling is Isabela (Isabel is the more common form of that name), and that’s problematic if the character is Portuguese born, or has Portuguese parents. The Portuguese civil registry has rules for names, and it usually doesn’t allow names with incorrect spellings. Wikipedia has an interesting, and apparently correct, piece on Portuguese names and surnames at

    Rui Jorge

    1. Well, Rui, if it really bothers you, I have a list of corrections to do I’ll do that. But Isabella is not from Portugal or any Portuguese colony or former colony. She’s from a Spanish Colony. I make up back-stories to my characters to try and get into who they are (yes, I know, loony, especially for minor characters. When I was thinking through Isabella I happened to call to mind a family who had been friends of my father in Mozambique. They had a very odd surname as it wasn’t quite Portuguese or typically Spanish – they were what you got when a Spanish sailor (and not I think a very literate one) deserts and goes into the bush.

      1. It’s curious how such a little thing can be so annoying. :0) Must be because it’s a fairly common name around here. I think it’s more common here than in the rest of the country. Still, it’s not annoying enough to stop me enjoying the book. So no need to change it, it’s not a mistake just an annoying bit of reality. Mangled names are after all a common thing, and we can blame those dastardly Spaniards for this one! Spanish bastards! :0)

        Curiously, when the character first showed up I thought she was probably a Sino-Portuguese from Macau, or maybe even an Asian-Brazilian. So your lunacy is shared. :0)

        Rui Jorge

  2. I’ve found it much easier to affix jello to the wall or ceiling using a good water-resistant glue. I stumbled across this approach after missing the nail with my hammer one time too many, resulting in a sore thumb or jello splashed all over the room (sometimes both at the same time). Now “much easier” is a relative term, as you still have to hold the jello in place while the glue sets. Freezing the jello helps for a while, but the glue doesn’t hold after the jello melts (and frozen jello shatters when you hit it with a hammer).

    Perhaps there’s a market in fake jello made of rubber? It could serve your jello nailing needs without all the fuss (but it would be much more expensive).

    Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to reading _Joy Comes With the Mourning_ real soon now.

    1. Jello makes a passable glue as well, but is not water resistant. I used unflavored to make a primitive bow once. I will be using that bow again soon to restrengthen my arm and shoulder for my more powerful bows. The gelatin hold the handle on, and the rawhide backing. Gives some rather scary crunchy sounds when one first starts drawing the thing

  3. I blame The Good Doctor Monkey for keeping me up until 3 am reading Joy.
    I took the day off so I should get it finished in a bit, after my regular morning habits are taken care of.

  4. Perhaps get jello integrated into a fabricated composite? Even a sheet of plastic both sides would probably make it more feasible.

    Lately, I’m feeling more optimistic about my own situation.

  5. Y’a know, it probably says something that so many of us are happily trying to fix your (metaphorical) problem with nailing jello to the ceiling. Personally, I recommend a jello gun, that seems like the right way to get that stuff to stick. Once you get it up there, of course, there’s all the fun of trying to keep it there, but that’s a different problem.

    What was the question again?

  6. Dave, I’ve just started ‘Joy,’ and I find that I MUST stop because I have to read it to my wife. When we were first married, I read ‘Princess Bride’ to her, and then other things which would help her understand what she had married herself into.
    Actually, now that I finally have been able to get some reading done, maybe I’ll finish it, give it a smashingly brilliant review, and THEN read it to her… All things in their time…
    I think it’s going to be a lovely, lovely book.

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