Pictures From an Exhibition Blog Tour with Tallis Steelyard @JimWebster6

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More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Here Tallis tells the stories behind a series of paintings presented at an exhibition held in Port Naain. Discover the dangers of peasant dances, marvel at the duplicity of well brought up young ladies who mix with robber barons and prepare to be astounded at the wisdom of the goose girl.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-Pictures-Exhibition-Webster-ebook/dp/B07C5V726Y/

 

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I love these stories from Tallis Steelyard and the amazingly beautiful paintings that always accompany them.

This story, The Gnome, is the second story in this collection of stories about the art exhibition Tallis and his friends create for their friend, the artist Andeal Willnoton Quillabin. Who, in their opinion, was not as well regarded as they thought he should be.

The Gnome is the nickname for the artist’s muse, model and assistant. A very small woman, hence the nickname, but a force to be reckoned with…

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The artist and Morri…

The Gnome

Not many people know why Morri was nicknamed The Little Gnome. Some thought it referred to her size and it‟s true that she‟s not the tallest of women, but if that was the reason, the name seemed a little harsh. Personally I always had a lot of time for her; there are not many women who have been the muse for two such different men.

It‟s been mentioned before that she was Andeal ‟s muse, model, and assistant. Indeed the whole exhibition had been planned with the idea of producing enough funds to enable Andeal to acquire a house. Hopefully it would be a suitable house, with such fripperies as glass in the windows; a house that would convince her to marry him.

But she had also been the muse of Rargan Grosset. Rargan was one of the handful of living poets that I ever looked up to when I was young. He was a lot older than me, perhaps forty years or more. But he was always generous with advice and praise, and what is more he was not too proud to feed a starving poetaster and many of us dined at his table over those years.

It always struck me as a little sad; Rargan had a body of really fine work. In his youth he had shown himself a master of Zeugma and had done truly wonderful things with the Triadic stepped line. Yet in later life, at the time when I first met him, the springs from which his verses flowed seemed to have dried up.

It was when his elderly housekeeper died that he advertised for a replacement, and Morri applied for the position. He took her in, assuming that she was another waif who needed rescuing, and fearing that if he didn‟t rescue her, she‟d fall into the hands of worse. As it was she rescued him. She didn‟t merely keep house for him, she took it upon herself to set his business affairs in order.

I have mentioned that he was generous. Not merely did he feed us, some borrowed money from him to fund artistic projects. One such was Dash Blont. Always a womaniser, at the time he saw that being a published poet would open doors to him. In his case predominantly bedroom doors, but still, I can understand his reasoning. Thus he borrowed a considerable sum from Rargan to publish his unspecified work of poetic genius. Personally I suspect that he borrowed as much as he did because he assumed that Rargan would die of old age before Dash was called upon to pay it back. The elderly find it easy to become creditors.

Having looked at Rargan‟s accounts, Morri decided that Rargan needed the money, so she would get the money back. She wrote gentle letters of reminder which Rargan signed. Dash Blont of course ignored them. She wrote stronger letters which Rargan didn‟t want to sign. It didn‟t matter, she signed them for him, but Dash Blont still ignored them. Finally she arrived at Dash Blont‟s house in person, sat down in his kitchen and explained that she‟d come to collect the money. She refused to leave until it was paid.

Dash tried everything. He tried charming her, flirting with her, cajoling her, but she merely kept carving a block of wood with a wickedly sharp knife.

He wooed her with fine wines and excellent food. She ate, drank, and continued carving.

Finally, after three days, Dash realised he was beaten. He could hardly invite some inamorata back to his house, lest she find Morri sitting in his kitchen and asked questions he wasn‟t really willing to answer. Not only that but he could hardly go out to the house of a lady friend, lest Morri wander from the kitchen and perhaps stumble upon his correspondence. Thus he offered to pay her all the cash he had, which was a third of the loan. Morri continued carving. She continued carving for the remaining two days that it took Dash to gather together the money. She left with the money, leaving Dash a sweet smile, and a wooden phallus. It was so finely carved that one could even see where it had been severed from the body.

After that word circulated, and Morri‟s gentle letters to creditors produced a veritable avalanche of currency, some even adding a nominal amount to cover interest charges.

Still there were others who needed chasing up. These were people who had promised to supply things and had never delivered. Rargan Grosset had business associates. For example rather than merely going to a printer and having his work printed, he‟d worked through publishers. One of them, Balor Finch, had published three of Rargan‟s books of poetry and whenever Rargan asked how the books were selling, Balor pulled a long face and explained that the market for poetry was depressed and the books were sitting on his shelves gathering dust and cobwebs.

At this point Morri came to me for advice. After all, you can see her reasoning; „Tallis is a published poet and an honest man. He will tell me what sales are like‟. Here I was in a quandary. My own sales remain such as would not cast doubt upon a writer‟s amateur status. On the other hand Rargan was one of the greats of our day. Not only that but since Morri had appeared on the scene he‟d got a new lease of life and was writing once more. Not only that, he was writing beautifully. I was sure that if anybody was selling poetry, it was Rargan Grosset.

So I asked for a little time and dropped in to Glicken‟s Printers. I knew they printed for Balor Finch. I asked for a few prices, as if costing out a work of mine own, and old Ardwok had the decency to give a young poet half an hour of his time. He went through all the costs, explaining the problem about short print runs and suchlike.

Finally I asked, “So how do folk like Rargan Grosset manage?”

Ardwok smiled. “Tallis lad, they manage because they sell steady away, and we‟ll print a thousand every year.”

With that information I returned to Morri and explained that it seemed that Rargan was indeed selling his work. Indeed if he was selling a thousand copies every year he was outselling most of the poets in the city.

It must have been a week later I met Morri in the street near Balor Finch‟s office. She was carrying a bag in one hand and her wood carving knife in the other. I walked with her for company and asked about the bag.

“Oh Balor Finch has done a hasty recalculation of sales and has paid Rargan everything he owes him.”

I was impressed; indeed I was almost rendered speechless. Finally I asked, “How did this come about?”

“Oh, after talking to you I went to see Ardwok Glicken. I just told him that Balor Finch was having trouble paying his bills and perhaps he was experiencing financial difficulties. Ardwok cancelled Finch‟s line of credit immediately. It was only by paying Rargan that Finch could convince Ardwok that he wasn’t about to go bankrupt and so Ardwok has allowed him a little credit.

It was at about this time Rargan was heard referring to Morri affectionately as “his little gnome.‟ I don‟t know anybody else who really used the name, although I know some who had much harsher names for her.

Me? I have always liked her; there is about her a freshness of attitude, a no- nonsense briskness. My lady wife Shena is, after a manner of speaking, her cousin, and I can see the resemblance.

 

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Our Review of Tallis Steelyard and the Sedan Chair Caper by Jim Webster @JimWebster6

Today, we are hosting Jim Webster’s Book Tour, to spread the word about his newest story, Tallis Steelyard and the Sedan Chair Caper.

All of Jim’s stories are excellent reads, and this one is is absolutely hilarious and we urge everyone to read it. Not enough laughter in the world lately!

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Amazon Book Link:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-sedan-chair-caper-ebook/dp/B079K4LDBT/

Rather than his usual collection of anecdotes, this time Tallis presents us with one gripping adventure. A tale of adventure, duplicity and gentility. Why does an otherwise respectable lady have a pair of sedan chair bearers hidden in her spare bedroom? Why was the middle-aged usurer brandishing an axe? Can a gangster’s moll be accepted into polite society? Answer these questions and more as Tallis Steelyard ventures unwillingly into the seedy world of respectable ladies who love of sedan chair racing.

Our Review

I discovered that the sedan chair was named after the town of Sedan in France where it was first used. It came to London in 1634 and became a popular means of transport, as they were so much faster than carriages. It was literally a chair in a box, supported on two long poles and carried by two men.

Although I knew what they were, I had never heard of Sedan chair racing, so was eager to read more about it. What I discovered in this book was hilarious although extremely dangerous and was once considered to be illegal, which was just enough notoriety to encourage the sport.

Tallis Steelyard, a poet in residence, is employed to oversee the fun and games at the grand party thrown by the mastermind behind these races. A complicated plot has been developed to fix the race, guaranteeing a win, so Tallis will have his work cut out.

Tallis is to ensure the evening a success by keeping an eye on the drinking and behaviour of the staff and guests alike. As is the way with the best-laid plans and all that, this old-fashioned story with its quaint words and customs will not only take you back in time to another way of life, it will have you holding your sides with laughter. The scenes involving the frogs still had me in stitches…

 

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Lady Edan’s Fan

Crisanto was the member of Madam Jeen Snellflort’s gentlemen adventurers who drew as his task the acquisition of Lady Edan’s Fan. The lady had inherited the fan from an estimated twelve generations of her foremothers. The fan itself was made from ornately carved wooden ribs, set with semi-precious stones, joined by a web of finely woven cloth of silk interwoven with gold thread. It had been an antique when it fell into the rapacious hands of Lady Edan’s family; indeed it was one of the few surviving pieces produced for the court of the Kings of Partann. They then handed them out as ‘gifts’ to the barbarous warlords on the periphery of their kingdom.

The lady always had the fan with her at formal balls, the rest of the time it was kept securely in the family vault. At formal affairs, when the fan was, as we might say, deployed, the lady was always accompanied by two of the family men-at-arms who stood behind her and kept their hands firmly on their sword hilts. Still Crisanto, our intrepid hero fixed on the next Harvest Ball as his best opportunity.

Crisanto was a slightly built young man, habitually neat about his person and the son of an apothecary. His family had given him a good basic education and from a child he’d helped his parents in their small Ropewalk shop. Although perfectly aware of where he had come from, he aimed to achieve more. He normally adopted an air of casual insouciance; even somebody commenting peevishly on the frayed state of his shirt cuffs was not allowed worry him. He would merely sigh and comment that, “Janners has obviously been picking my shirts from the pile to be given to the gardener. His eyesight is failing.”

Faced with the challenge he turned his back on his affected persona and decided instead to play to his advantages. After some thought he decided on his plan of action. A week before the ball, this gentleman adventurer, closely shaved and dressed in some of his sister’s cast off clothing, applied for a job serving in the Grand Sinecurists Dining Room. The interviewers were impressed by his (or her) courtesy, his knowledge of etiquette, and his natural grace and modesty. He was given the job and for the next seven days he, or should it be she, was considered to be a useful member of the staff. He was a quiet girl, kept himself to himself but went out of his way to be helpful. Because of his personable manner it was decided that on the night of the harvest ball his job would be to circulate through the guests with a tray of nibbles.

At home that evening he made some delicate little tart cases out of pastry. Instead of placing jam in the cases before cooking, he substituted syrup of his own devising. His syrup was produced by slowly boiling the fruit of the kilin tree. He kept skimming off the fruit and reduced the liquid considerably. Finally he disguised the flavour by dissolving sugar into the syrup and caramelising it. Kilin berries have been regarded for years as one of our more useful stimulant laxatives, and the dose in each tart was enough to loosen the bowls of an Urlan destrier.

On the evening of the harvest ball, he carried two small trays, one covered with a napkin. The first tray contained little bowls of salted, honey roasted, woodlice for people to nibble on. The second tray, covered with the napkin, held the little tarts he had made himself. He passed through the crowd, proffering the bowls of woodlice to guests. As Crisanto came upon Lady Edan and her guards, he smoothly swapped the napkin across to cover the woodlice and with a sweet smile she, or he, offered her tarts first to Lady Edan, who politely took one. The great lady, fanning herself, nibbled graciously on the tart and enjoyed it. Not merely that, she recommended them to her bodyguards. Each took one, and then our hero, [or at this point was he our heroine? I confess to a degree of confusion.] with a roguish wink, tempted them all into taking a second.

This done she faded away, once more covered the tarts with the napkin and continued circulating with the woodlice, watching her prey carefully and waiting for the stomach cramps to hit. The timing was critical, if it took too long for the laxative to act the Lady would be sitting at table and Crisanto could be too far away from her to put the second part of his plan into operation. But if he had made the laxative too strong, the impact could be explosive and his victim might not make it across the room, never mind to a suitable privy.
His woodlice all taken, Crisanto had to dash to the kitchen to get more. He surreptitiously lost his remaining tarts amongst several trays of similar nibbles and returned to the fray with new trays and continued to keep an increasingly nervous eye on his victims.

Twenty minutes later one of the body guards grasped his guts with both hands and precipitously fled. Seconds later the other followed him. Crisanto placed her trays down on a side table and moved quietly to join Lady Edan. This worthy, almost bent double, was most thankful when a charming young maid led her swiftly to a suitable facility. Lady Edan, her mind on other things, thrust into the maid’s waiting hands anything that would encumber her; fan, handbag, pince nez, wire framed ball gown, before collapsing through the door and kicking it shut after her.

The maid left the lady’s effects carefully folded on a chair, the ball gown she stood up in a corner, and then calmly made her way downstairs and out into the street with the fan concealed down the front of her blouse.

Later that night an ecstatic collector was clutching the fan to his bosom, and Madam Jeen Snellflort (plus a discreet escort) made her way home carrying enough cash to buy a small farm. That small farm, donated to the sanatorium by an anonymous giver, provided the institution with a modest but steady income.

Biography

Jim Webster is probably fifty-something, his tastes in music are eclectic, and his dress sense is rarely discussed in polite society. In spite of this, he has a wife and three daughters.
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing SF and fantasy novels.
He lives in South Cumbria.

He has even been cozened into writing a blog, available for perusal by the discerning (or indeed by the less than discerning) at http://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/

 

Our Review of Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree #Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction @Lizzie_Chantree

I know we have posted this before, but today is the official Launch Day, so we are doing it again!!!

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Book Title: Ninja School Mum

Author: Lizzie Chantree

Release Date: 30th January 2018

Genre: Chick Lit / Women’s Fiction

Book link: viewBook.at/NinjaSchoolMum

Book blurb:

Obsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

 

Tour dates and details:

Crooked Cat is releasing Ninja School Mum on the 30th January 2018. The tour for the launch will run pre-release from 9th-29th January and then the release date onwards from 30th January-3rd February 2018. Thank you to everyone involved in the tour, for taking part and being part of the #NinjaSchoolMum tour team.

Our Review

This book opens with a typical mum, Skye, waiting at the school gates for her little boy, Leo.

Thea, another mother, is waiting there too, but that is where the similarity ends. She has a child and is secretive about her past.

By the end of chapter four, I discover that Skye is not who she claims to be either, something to do with the death of her husband Reece.

As they become friends, we gradually begin to learn more about these two women, but something doesn’t add up, what are they not telling us or each other?

The book seems to concentrate on Skye as the main character, but I was already guessing she might not be the only one. This mysterious element winds its way around everyone, creating a lovely guessing game. Even when bits of the truth are revealed, your mind refuses to believe them at first.

This book has everything, mystery, danger and humour. The relationship between the two women was believable and well written, as was the love affair between Skye and Zack.

This story moves smoothly between all these fascinating characters, as they evade the truth like experts, always managing to keep back important details.

A complex and compelling style of writing from Lizzie Chantree, I will be reading much more of her work!

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Biography

Award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now runs networking hours on social media, where creative businesses, writers, photographers and designers can offer advice and support to each other. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

Contact Lizzie

Website: www.lizziechantree.com
Author page: viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizzie.chantree.3
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizzie_chantree/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LizzieChantree/pins/

 

Lazy Days Book Tour Round up…

The last balloon has popped… the last drop of champagne has been drunk…

There is nothing quite like the morning after a good party, is there?

All that remains to be done are to notify the winners of the Book Quiz, and to thank everyone who took part, or came along to enjoy the party over on Facebook.

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We need a day or two to double check we have a list of all of the winners, so we will be in touch in due course. Some of you have wanted to know the answers, so here is the complete list!

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”

— Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

“Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.”

— William Goldman, The Princess Bride

“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

—J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

 “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

— Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption

“My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”

— Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

 “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth” – Charles Dickens Great Expectations

“I am haunted by humans” – Markus Zusak The Book Thief

“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” – Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland


signing off until tomorrow…

Last Chance for the Book Quiz!

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Today was the last day of the Book Quiz… and it occurred to us that some of you might like another chance to acquire a #free book or two!

Answer as many as you like, leaving your answers in the comments, or over on Facebook!


Here are the ten Quiz Questions…

  1. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

     2.  “It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”

      3.  “Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.”

      4. “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

     5. “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

     6.  “My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”

    7. “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

    8. “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth”

   9. “I am haunted by humans” – “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” –

10. “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”


 

And as it’s the last day of the Tour, we thought we should finish with champagne…

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See you tomorrow for the results of the Quiz and the round up of the Tour!