It’s getting closer!
At the beginning of the week I managed to bite the bullet and bravely announce the launch of my latest masterpiece, Silent PayBack. I asked for help from our writing/reading community and was very surprised by the immediate response that almost overwhelmed me.
Like a lot of authors, I am not fond of all the trumpet blowing that you need to do to send your brainchildren out into the world. It usually comes as a great surprise to many writers to discover we prefer the peace and solitude of our writing caves, rather than the noisy, complicated world of publishing and promotion.
In the real world, parents send their offspring into the world to find their own way, confident they have equipped them with everything they will ever need to make a success of their lives. You see them turn away to return to the now empty nest, trying not to feel sad that this stage of their lives is over.
We cannot simply stand at the door and wave goodbye, confident we have done all we can. We must go with our creation, often equipped with a virtual crowbar to prise open all those tightly closed doors!
This week, I am floundering around like a ship with no rudder. I stumble from one problem to another, making to do lists like there will be no tomorrow. If I do manage to achieve anything, it seems to happen by magic and not by intent.
I have done book tours before, with moderate success but always with the same low level of confidence, probably due to my lack of know how.
This time, however, I have tried to learn more about the process, in order to make it easier and ensure more book sales.
But between you and me, I cannot wait until I can retreat into my cave and pick up my favourite writing pen again!
Huge thanks for everyone who has offered to help with the launch, and all those who have grabbed a copy at the Pre-sale on Amazon.
A bargain at just .99p or $.99 for one more week!
Amazon UK: amzn.to/2p4xxzg
Amazon US: amzn.to/2LXHgjO
Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.
Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind her African homeland, leading her People on a grueling journey through unknown and perilous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she trusts with her life.
The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, the one destined to obliterate any who came before.
Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life, prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.
The characters in this book are more than 850.000 years old and they live in a world that has been loving recreated by the author, Jacqui Murray.
This prehistoric world is not a kind place. Xhosa and her people must fight every inch of the way to survive and find somewhere else to live, after losing their home to invaders. In their quest, they take on warring tribes, hostile weather and possibly a traitor in their midst.
The pace is fast and the descriptions vivid, you find yourself travelling with them, experiencing everything to the point of exhaustion. You become one with the story, almost as though you were meant to be there.
I particularly liked the way the author interprets their speech, and this helped me to follow the story more closely.
Quest for Home is an unforgettable story of such grim determination and I cannot wait to read the next in the series…
There was! He’s called Gigantopithecus blacki. Extinct now, he was native to southeast Asia, China, and Indonesia where Seeker and Zvi lived originally.
What does ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ side mean?
Based on artifacts from 850,000 years ago (or longer), paleoscientists speculate that early man had a preference for right-handedness. That would make their right hand stronger than the left (though they didn’t identify ‘right’ and ‘left’ at that time). Because of this, my characters call their right the ‘strong side’ and left the ‘weak side’.
Title and author: The Quest for Home
Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.
Social Media contacts:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/
The inimitable Tallis Steelyard has released not one, but two new books. These, and many other books by the author, can be purchased for a trifling sum via Amazon. Visit the Author’s Page by clicking HERE.
The Automated Caricordia of Darset Dweel.
Shena and I hadn’t finished breakfast when there was a knock on the door. I opened it and to my surprise I was greeted by a very junior footman wearing the livery of Mistress Bellin Hanchkillian. He bowed slightly and asked, “Mistress wished me to enquire if you know the story of the automated caricordia of Darset Dweel?”
“Indeed I do.”
“Thank you.” With that he bowed and left. I closed the door after him, turned towards Shena and in answer to her unanswered question, I merely shrugged. She poured me more coffee and together we finished our breakfast. I do like the days with a mid-morning tide.
It was a couple of hours later that I got a note from Mistress. Apparently a particularly cherished great-nephew, currently residing in Avitas, has written asking whether I knew the tale, and would I be available to travel to Avitas to tell it. This was an excuse for an expedition, Mistress asked if I would accompany her daughter and her to Avitas. Of course, I said yes. Thus, it was that three days later I was seated near the bow of a paddle steamer heading up the River Dharant.
Now you might wonder how I came to know the story of the automated caricordia. To the best of my knowledge there are only two working caricordia in Port Naain. Not only that but they are both in remarkably expensive bordellos. But my knowledge is purely that of the technician. My involvement starts when Madam Veronique wished to move her bordello, the House of Stolen Dreams. Apparently, it was always the same bordello, but occasionally changed location.
In the current building she had a caricordia she had acquired with the business. She hadn’t been entirely happy with it, even to a non-technical eye it was obvious that some of the air pipes were worn and the valves leaked. So, she decided that as it had to be stripped down to enable it to be moved to the new building, it would be refurbished at the same time. She had approached Willun Pipegrip to handle the renovation, and he, having seen the job he was taking on, approached me. His plan was that as he and his lads carefully took the thing apart, I would take notes so they could put it back together again.
So the process was simple. Willun would kneel there, peering at the apparatus. He would say, “Three-quarter leather air pipe, red stripe, number one, into three-quarter brass flutter-valve.”
As he said this, his senior apprentice, armed with a pot of red paint and a fine brush would paint the number one on the leather pipe, and would then paint a red stripe on it.
Willun would continue, “’and the flutter-valve is also red stripe, number 1.”
The apprentice would apply the paint and I would write down. ‘Three-quarter leather air pipe, red stripe, number one, into three-quarter brass flutter-valve. The flutter-valve is also red stripe, number 1.”
Everything was taken apart methodically and everything was put in an appropriate box. Flutter-valves in this box, wandering gooseanders in this box, tremblers in this box. I’m sure you get the idea.
Then Willun and his lads took the lot back to their workshop and went through it part by part. Any parts that weren’t up to Willun’s exacting standards were fabricated then and there. Indeed, he made everything but the leather air pipes, as there are a number of craftsmen who make them to a high standard. So, it was cheaper to buy a roll than it was to set his own lads to fabricating.
Finally everything ready, I was summoned, and we hauled all the bits to the new location and painstakingly reassembled it. There it stood in all its glory.
Now the problem with a caricordia is the number of staff you need to work it. Even with all new pipework you needed two sturdy people on the bellows to keep the air reservoir up to pressure. Admittedly they had to be steady rather than skilled, but the rest of the crew needed to be well trained.
The person who really makes the caricordia ‘sing’ is the conductor. He or she sits above the apparatus, looking down at the participants who are placed on the mattress. (Oh yes and it needed a new mattress because of the problems they had in refitting the tremblers back into an old one.) The conductor also watches the gauges and gives orders to the team who are at their positions around the appliance. The conductor will assess the situation and will then shout, ‘second wandering gooseander three marks left,’ or ‘now, the third trembler.’ At the same time the conductor has to manipulate the feather pipes, as they come down from above. Experience shows that the conductor is the only person who can really control them with the necessary delicacy. Finally, there is the perfumer. This person works their nozzles from a separate reservoir of nicely scented air, and their role is to shoot jets of this air to strike appropriate places at appropriate times. The perfumer works with the conductor but is not under the conductor’s orders. This is frankly because the conductor has enough to do.
So, as you can see, the caricordia needs at least seven people to work it. This is why most bordellos take the decision to fit a large mattress and use it to entertain three couples simultaneously. Darset Dweel comes into our story because he got to hear, through the grapevine, that Willun and his lads were fixing a caricordia. After all it’s the sort of news that travels, and Willun’s workshop would normally have a couple of visiting artisans and engineers dropping in to watch the process. Darset did more than drop in. He joined us as we took the thing apart and was with us as we reassembled it. He even stayed when Pervan, the conductor for the House of Stolen Dreams, got a team together and did a trial run with an empty mattress. I noticed at the time he looked very thoughtful, but I never realised where his thoughts would take him.
I confess that I feel that if one does have to travel to Avitas, the river is the route to take. If you go by land you just enter the city through a variety of nondescript suburbs and villages. Go by river and you arrive at the Imperial Wharf. It’s a masterpiece of faded glory. I could stand for hours just absorbing the atmosphere of distressed grandeur and contemplating the idiosyncrasies of generations long gone.
The rest of the city bustles, the Great Free Market is probably a better place to buy goods from east of the mountains than Port Naain.
But still, our steamer tied up at the Imperial Wharf and we had a little while to be overawed by the decayed magnificence before our luggage was unloaded and a coach was summoned to collect us and take us to the Gateway to Paradise Inn. This hotel nestles under the ruins of the Grey Keep and is undoubtedly the finest such establishment in Avitas if not Partann. Now obviously this is not the sort of establishment I would ever think to stay, were I travelling alone, but as part of Mistress’s party I was afforded a small room, nicely furnished. My luggage stowed in my room I made my way down to the resident’s lounge. There I met Nalwent Hanchkillian, the great-nephew who was the reason for my travels. I had been keen to meet him because before one tells a tale, one needs to know as much as possible about the audience. Was it to be a collection of rakes, or perhaps engineers and artificers? Indeed, was he going to be the spokesman of an association of worthies determined to ‘improve’ society by stamping down on the immortality of the lower orders.
In point of fact such societies have normally ignored the caricordia. The cost of using one puts it well out of reach of the lower orders, and because it is therefore used by ‘people like us’ it is regarded as a harmless indulgence. Still Nalwent put me at my ease. He wished me to tell the story of the automated caricordia to a varied group of people. Some would indeed be artificers, other professionals interesting in expanding the range of activities they had on offer. Indeed, the proprietor of the House of Unseemly Cavorting would be present. Thus, and so I knew at what level to pitch my talk.
After a very pleasant dinner at the Jenweist’s Sword inn I glanced around the table. Avitas prides itself in being cosmopolitan and Nalwent and some of his guests were dressed in clothes fashionable in Port Naain when they last visited the city. Other guests were Partannese, but most were inhabitants of Avitas. The locals are easily picked out, they wear their hats even when eating. Apparently, the hats bear subtle signs which allow another local to immediately know the wearer’s exact social status. I am afraid that they were too subtle for me, other than it might be that a long sweeping feather is the mark of the owner of a place of amatory entertainment.
I then got up to tell the story of the automated caricordia. I soon noticed that some of the artisans were taking notes. Told baldly, when Darset had seen the caricordia in the House of Stolen Dreams fired up and working, he knew immediately he could improve it. As mentioned previously the equipment needs a large team to operate it, which by definition, puts the cost up. Darset’s decided that he would build a caricordia which a married couple could use in their own home and enjoy an element of privacy at the same time. He first tackled the task of powering the bellows. This surely was something that could be done easily and cheaply and would mean that you needed two fewer staff. It struck me at the time that he was wise, one should always attempt to pluck the low hanging fruit first.
He originally tried using waterpower. A proven technology, absolutely reliable and well tried. To be fair his system worked. Unfortunately, as Madam Veronique pointed out, she was not running a water mill. Even if there had been a way she could have fitted a waterwheel she wasn’t sure other patrons would have entirely approved of the constant noise the contraption created. The ability to switch the gearing and grind grain to produce her own flour was, she felt, a gimmick too far.
So Darset tried steam. A bit revolutionary but simple to operate, the proud user merely had to bank up the firebox, throw a couple of levers and then leap onto the mattress with their partner. After a few trials this procedure was altered to read “bank up the firebox, throw a couple of levers, cast aside the heavy leather apron and gloves, and then leap onto the mattress with their partner.”
Even then there were problems. Some people found the smoke from the firebox to be a distraction. Others felt that it heated the room far too much. Now it was possible to have the steam engine in a different room, along with the bellows. One merely needed a somewhat larger storage tank. The problem here was that some users felt that frantically stoking up the firebox before running into the next room, casting off apron, gloves and shoes, was a distraction and rather spoiled the atmosphere.
So reluctantly Darset discarded steam and turned his attention to an electro galvanic system. Frankly here I feel he was working too close to the edge of knowledge. Whilst I am not by any means an engineer, I don’t feel that when a participant lies on the mattress, their hair should stand on end. I know his final report was a bit vague, and perhaps didn’t go into details. This is because Darset asked me to write up the report and specifically asked me not to dwell on the minutiae.
Another problem was that when participants lying on the mattress moved close to each other, or reached out to touch each other, they produced sparks from one to another. There was also a strong smell of burning, and Darset could never work out where it was coming from.
Deciding that he had proved that it was possible to replace those working the bellows, Darset decided to look at the role of the conductor. He was sure that he could design a system where the conductor could do everything without needing others to open and shut valves or pull rods. He built a system where all the controls came to one place and the conductor sat in front of them. Here Darset had much greater success. Because he was gearing up his prototype to work for only two participants, this greatly simplified the job of the conductor. Indeed, his prototype control system worked almost perfectly from the day he first built it. There was an issue of some of the control rods being too close to other control rods. So, when you activated the fourth wandering gooseander, the second trembler was also activated. Also, some of the feather pipes tended to switch on flutter valves as well. On a positive note, Darset proved absolutely that with a two-person caricordia, the conductor can do the perfumer’s job at the same time as he does his own, with no loss of efficiency.
Had he stopped there, he might have recovered his investment, as he had produced a two-person caricordia which needed a mere three to service it. (That assumes you had two on the bellows and shunned technology to replace them) But Darset was ever the perfectionist. He was struggling with an automated control system which would replace the conductor and heard rumours that in distant Klune somebody is working on an artefact which they called a ‘difference engine’. I am a poet. So not only am I extremely vague about where Klune is, but even the term ‘difference engine’ is one that has me baffled. Present each word to me in solitary state and I can tell you what it means. Put them together in unholy unity and I am lost.
Still my talk went down well and both Nalwent and the proprietor of the House of Unseemly Cavorting tipped me generously, saying how much they valued my honesty.
And now we’d better hear from Jim Webster.
So here I am again with another blog tour. I’ve released two collections of short stories from Tallis and if you’ve enjoyed the one you just read, you’ll almost certainly enjoy these.
So what have Tallis and I got for you?
Well first there’s, ‘Tallis Steelyard. A guide for writers, and other stories.’ The book that all writers who want to know how to promote and sell their books will have to read. Sit at the feet of the master as Tallis passes on the techniques which he has tried and perfected over the years. As well as this you’ll have music and decorum, lessons in the importance of getting home under your own steam, and brass knuckles for a lady. How can you resist, all this for a mere 99p.
Then we have, ‘Tallis Steelyard. Gentlemen behaving badly, and other stories.’ Now is your chance to see Port Naain by starlight and meet ladies of wit and discernment. There are Philosophical societies, amateur dramatics, the modern woman, revenge, and the advantages of a good education.
So come on, treat yourself, because you’re worth it.
For more stories from the Gentlemen Behaving Badly Blog Tour visit Tallis’ hosts…
Chris Graham at The Story Reading Ape’s Blog ~ A fine residence. ~14th July
GD Deckard at Writers’ coop ~ A man who doesn’t pay his bills never lacks for correspondence ~ 15th July
Ritu Bhathal at But I Smile Anyway ~ Be careful what you pretend to be ~ 16th July
Willow Willers ~ Call yourself a writer ~ 17th July
Colleen Chesebro ~ Every last penny ~ 18th July
Robbie Cheadle ~ It all comes out in the wash ~ 19th July
Sue Vincent ~ Noteworthy ~20th July
Stevie Turner ~ Oblige ~ 21th July
Annette Rochelle Aben ~ Performance art ~ 22th July
Lynn Hallbrooks ~ The alternative career of Dilkerton Thallawell. ~ 23th July
Jaye Marie ~ The automated caricordia of Darset Dweel. ~ 24th July
Ashlynn Waterstone ~ The dark machinations of Flontwell Direfountain. ~ 25th July
Suzanne Joshi ~ Thoroughly married ~ 26th July
Ken Gierke ~ Water under the bridge ~ 27th July
MT McGuire ~ Who you know, not what you know ~ 28th July
We continue to explore the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. In this invaluable publication Tallis Steelyard discusses the ways in which a writer can bring their work to the attention of the masses and more importantly, sell the book to them. As well as this, we have the importance of getting home under your own steam, music and decorum, brass knuckles for a lady, and of course, a few simple spices.
Surely this is the one essential book that every aspiring novelist should both purchase and study.
About the author
Someone once wrote this about him:
“Jim Webster is probably still 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 fantasy and Sci-Fi novels.”
Now with eight much acclaimed fantasy works and two Sci-Fi to his credit it seems he may be getting into the swing of things.
Find and follow Tallis (and Jim)
For many more books by Jim Webster (and Tallis)…
Click the images to go to Amazon.
Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is.
Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain?
In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover:
+ How to develop a villain’s mindset
+ A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up
+ Why getting to the core of a villain’s personality is essential to make them credible
+ What pitfalls and clichés to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs
Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create superbad villains. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will help power up your bad guy and give them that extra edge.
These lessons will help you master and control your villainous minions, navigate and gain the perfect balance of good and evil, as well as strengthening your villain to give your story the tension and punch it needs.
If you like dark humour, learning through examples and want to create the best villains you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting superbad villains. Read 13 Steps to Evil today and start creating kick-ass villains.
I have read many ‘how to’ books before, but none of them talk quite like Sacha Black. She tells it straight from the hip in an inimitable and refreshing style of direction.
This book is an in-depth and thorough expose of all things villain. Far more complex than you would first imagine.
Cause and effect are explained in easily understood writers speak, along with some amazing examples, just in case you have your dim head on!
Most crime/thriller writers love to create a good/bad villain and probably spend more time on them than the good guys. We should definitely make our villains bad, but giving them one ‘nice’ trait is an interesting idea.
The first thing that surprised me was that the hero is not the most important character in your novel. And that we tend to create a villain and then just let him/her get on with it.
If this book does nothing else, it will encourage, nay, demand that you create some awe-inspiring villains, and some of them will be female. The world seems to think that women don’t make good, bad people, so it could well be time to change all that.
Anti-heroes are something I haven’t given much thought to, but this book explores many such interesting concepts. Anti-heroes can get away with anything, so long as they finish on the side of the angels.
My favourite chapter was all about fear. That the idea of fear is all you need and far more important than all the stark reality of any awful world you create. Fear is such an emotional part of your imagination because you can only guess how bad it really is.
Another good question; should we really kill a villain?
I am going to have to recheck all my villains after reading this book. Have I actually created believably bad men, or are they just a tad second rate?
I received an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.
UK Amazon Link Here
US Amazon Link Here
About the Author
Sacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills. Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son. When she’s not writing, she can be found laughing inappropriately loud, blogging, sniffing musty old books, fangirling film and TV soundtracks, or thinking up new ways to break the rules.
I suppose I ought to just call her Lotti, if only because that was the name she ‘worked’ under and inadvertently ended up with. I’m trying to be tactful here because I always liked Lotti, but it has to be admitted that her occupation was perhaps not the one her mother would have hoped she’d have gone into. There again as Lotti never knew her mother, we cannot be sure of that.
Lotti was a foundling and was raised in one of the foundling hospitals. No need to mention which one. They were good with her, taught her to read and write and trained her to be a lady’s maid.
Hence at the age of fourteen she went out into the world set on a new career. But alas it did not go well. There are houses to which you would send a fourteen year old girl, and there are houses you wouldn’t. And frankly there are houses where you would only burn them down when you could
guarantee you’d got the entire family and all the staff trapped inside. I will say no more.
Lotti left that house and desperately tried to make a living. Eventually, after trying any number of things, most of which didn’t last long, with employers who were more or less sordid but none who were what you might call decent, she decided she would have to take charge of her destiny.
Feeling that fate seemed to demand that she provide what we might call ‘erotic services’, she’d make damned sure she was properly paid for them.
Her knowledge of the houses of the apparently respectable had given her an insight into a market which she felt she could fulfil. Thus she set out her stall as ‘the naughty maid.’
Men of a certain age would hire her and send her as a birthday present to a friend, ensuring that his wife and family were out. ‘Gentlemen’ would even hire her themselves. She demanded payment in advance, cash only, and it was tucked away in an account with her usurer before she would ever cross her client’s threshold. Some looked down on her for it, but as she pointed out, how many innocent maids were left alone because she was there to provide the service?
The reason I knew her was that the foundling hospital had somehow instilled in her a genuine love of poetry. In her late teens she had many of the poems of the masters off by heart and she would occasionally come to the barge bringing a bottle of wine, a ham, or the makings of a meal. She’d dine with Shena and I and we’d talk poetry and the art of versifying.
Who knows how long she would have lived this existence, but then she made an error. She would get the client’s address and the money and she’d just knock on the door and be shown inside. Except on this occasion the address was slightly wrong. Obviously I’m not going to tell you what the address was, but they’d got the numbers the wrong way round. So Lotti knocked on the door of the wrong house, if memory serves it was number fourteen rather than forty-one.
What made things more interesting was that in this house they’d just hired a new maid from an agency and were expecting her. When Lotti turned up wearing a perfectly respectable maid’s outfit (we shall not mention the somewhat ‘unusual’ underwear), they just assumed she was the new girl. As an aside I’ve often wondered what happened to the girl who was supposed to turn up, did she make the opposite mistake and arrive by accident in the house where they were expecting Lotti? Frankly I don’t know and I long ago decided not to find out.
So when Lotti arrived, she was welcomed by the housekeeper, which was unusual, introduced to other staff, which came as something of a surprise to her, and was then introduced to the Mistress herself. This had never happened before. Lotti inquired, cautiously, about the master of the house, but the Mistress informed her, somewhat sadly, that she was a widow. She welcomed Lotti to her household, hoped she’d be very happy, and the housekeeper then showed Lotti her room and instructed her in her duties.
That night, in her solitary bed in a small room she had to herself, Lotti lay there and pondered the situation. She had been trained to be a lady’s maid, so she could do the job. She pondered her previous employment but eventually decided that she would try this new life.
Over the next few weeks she got to know the others in the household and they got to know her. Both the Mistress and her housekeeper were impressed; Lotti threw herself into the job. Yes there were areas where she was rusty, but when a maid moves from one household to another, there is always a period of transition when she learns the new way of doing things.
On top of that Lotti is, in reality, a nice person with a captivating smile and a genuine willingness to help. Her past had made her wary, but it had not yet made her bitter. As they got to know her, they made use of her strengths. Her ability to be absolutely formally correct in the presence of gentlemen (originally a necessary part of the game she was paid for) meant that her employer let her pay off tradesmen.
Time passed, Lotti became an accepted part of the household, and one morning she woke to the realisation that she was happy.
It was about then that Julatine Sypent, a recognised artist, was invited into the house to paint the Mistress. Apparently her various offspring wanted a portrait of her, and so, under protest, she’d agreed. During the course of the process, which consisted of a number of sittings over a period of weeks, Lotti, as lady’s maid, was the one who fetched Julatine his cup of infusion, offered round the sweet biscuits and generally was on hand should her Mistress need her.
Julatine was utterly smitten with her. One afternoon when she was out of the room he begged Mistress to be allowed to paint Lotti as well. Mistress agreed, even though she was wise enough to realise she might be about to lose a good lady’s maid. So with one portrait done, Julatine started on the second. Now it has to be realised that Lotti wasn’t going to be an easy victim of a painter’s charm. But Julatine was lucky. He’d long realised that a painter has to entertain the person he is painting. The last thing you want is somebody sitting there listless and bored. So he quoted poetry as he painted. Once he realised she loved poetry, he brought in books of it, he ransacked the libraries of friends for books to lend her. Eventually, the painting finished, he leaned back and looked at it thoughtfully.
A little nervously Lotti asked, “Is it all right?”
“Yes, I think it’s about finished.”
“Can I look at it now?”
As she stood up to see it Julatine said sternly, “There’s just one thing that has to be done before it’s fit for viewing.”
A little concerned Lotti asked, “What’s that?”
“You have to agree to marry me.”
She always said she wasn’t likely to get a better offer.
And the hard sell!
So welcome back to Port Naain. This blog tour is to celebrate the genius of Tallis Steelyard, and to promote two novella length collections of his tales.
So meet Tallis Steelyard, the jobbing poet from the city of Port Naain. This great city is situated on the fringes of the Land of the Three Seas. Tallis makes his living as a poet, living with his wife, Shena, on a barge tied to a wharf in the Paraeba estuary. Tallis scrapes a meagre living giving poetry readings, acting as a master of ceremonies, and helping his patrons run their soirees.
These are his stories, the anecdotes of somebody who knows Port Naain and
its denizens like nobody else. With Tallis as a guide you’ll meet petty
criminals and criminals so wealthy they’ve become respectable. You’ll meet musicians, dark mages, condottieri and street children. All human life is here, and perhaps even a little more.
Tallis Steelyard, Deep waters, and other stories.
More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard.
Discover the damage done by the Bucolic poets, wonder at the commode of Falan Birling, and read the tales better not told. We have squid wrestling, ladywriters, and occasions when it probably wasn’t Tallis’s fault. He even asks the great question, who are the innocent anyway?
And then there is;-
Tallis Steelyard. Playing the game, and other stories.
More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard.
Marvel at the delicate sensitivities of an assassin, wonder at the unexpected revolt of Callin Dorg. Beware of the dangers of fine dining, and of a Lady in red.
Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.
Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, triggers Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .
“Equal parts monster and fallen angel…”
I knew when I read the blurb for CUSP OF NIGHT that I had to read the first book in Mae Clair’s new series, and I wasn’t disappointed.
It is an unusual story, beautifully written, dripping with a chilling mystery that draws you into the dark world of spiritualism and myth. Mae Clair skilfully blends and intertwines the chapters, connecting the reader to the 1900’s and the present day and the mysteries of both.
I especially loved the way the mysteries from the past begin to resonate with the present circumstances, leading the hero, Maya Sinclair into the paranormal discovery of an evil that somehow can live forever.
Why would an evil entity visit the present, dragging tragedy and horror with it?
This is the mystery that Maya needs to solve, as disaster begins to strike the people around her. Would she be able to solve the mystery and discover the truth behind the legend?
The tension had me chewing my nails, and then the unexpected sadness had me reaching for a box of tissues, but I thoroughly enjoyed every word.
Already described as “unique, addictive and creepy…” this new series promises to be a best seller and I can highly recommend Cusp of Night to anyone who loves a haunting and formidable story…
EXCERPT FROM CUSP OF NIGHT
She’d left her purse on the dresser, keys by her jewellery chest. A half dozen shoeboxes that had yet to find a place in the closet were stacked beside a white rocking chair. Made from distressed wood, the chair had come from Mrs.Bonnifer’s antique shop. Maya had bought it on the spot after hearing it dated from the 1880s. She’d placed it in the parlour initially, then moved it to the bedroom, where it fits perfectly in the corner by the fireplace. Almost as if it had been made for the spot.
The fireplace had long ago been converted to gas, but the charm of the elaborate Victorian mantel had been one of the deciding factors prompting her to sign the lease.
A soft creak broke the stillness, and the rocker pitched slowly back and forth. The runners bobbled up and down as if someone sat in the chair, controlling the movement. A finger of cold traced Maya’s spine. Secondcrept into second as the deliberate rocking continued, the floorboards creaking in unison with the lurch of the runners.
Barely breathing, Maya stood. Ever since those few seconds in the Aether, she’d grown sensitive to ripples on the fringe of normal. She didn’t believe in ghosts or hauntings but couldn’t deny the existence of vibrations that breached barriers between life and death. She was living proof of a “between” world. Ivy was the only person she’d ever told what she’d experienced while EMTs fought to revive her.
Shock. Trauma, they’d said. You were lucky.
Be careful here. Mrs Bonnifer’s warning echoed in her head. This place has a history.
Maya stepped to the foot of the bed, her gaze glued to the rocker. Its movement stopped abruptly as if an unseen hand had clamped down on the back…
Today it is our turn to share Jim Webster’s amazing stories with you.
We are delighted to be a part of his latest Blog Tour introducing Swimming for profit and pleasure &The Plight of the Lady Gingerlily.
Shena served out the meal Tallis had prepared and started eating. She was
becoming aware that they were sitting in total silence. Benor glared
gloomily at his food, (although it didn’t stop him from eating with a
reasonable appetite). Mutt was obviously deep in planning some dark scheme
of his own, whilst Tallis was obviously miles away, mentally at least. Shena
assumed he was just pondering a rhyme scheme or trying to fit words to a
metre. She began to wonder if she’d somehow offended them all.
Finally she picked on Benor as the one most likely to confess. “What on
earth are you looking so miserable about Benor?”
“The basic unfairness of the world.”
“All of it or just one specific bit?”
“It’s just typical. Somebody asks you to fix something. So you go out of
your way to fix it and then when you need their help in one small area, they
come over all ethical and leave you to get on with it.”
“How about being a bit more specific?”
“I need somebody to distract Minny and her sister Jan. You remember, the
pair who run the ‘Two Sisters’ dress shop, just down Dollymop Street.”
“Why do you want them distracting?”
Benor temporised. “We know Minny had a letter which seems to instruct her to
kill the Chevaleresse of Windcutter Keep and her two children. I’ve been
asked to stop this happening, but I really ought to see the letter so I have
some idea what is going on. But the problem is, I asked somebody to provide
a distraction for me and they wouldn’t, so I’m now stuck.”
“Nothing could be easier,” Shena said, “Tallis can take me in there and buy
me a dress.”
The conversation was interrupted by coughing as Tallis seemed to choke on a
mouthful of food that had apparently gone down the wrong way. Everybody
stopped and watched him as he pulled himself together. Hoarsely he said
carefully, “Given time I’m sure I too could find a suitable ethical
Thoughtfully Benor said, “Just Shena on her own isn’t going to take the two
sisters to serve her.”
Mutt said cheerfully, “I could go?”
“They’d just call the Watch,” Tallis said dismissively. Mutt was about to
say something indignant when Tallis added, “Any anyway, you’d have to wear
shoes and satin knickerbockers.”
Shena said thoughtfully. “Benor’s right, it’ll have to be more than one
customer. I shall ask some of Tallis’s patrons. I’m sure Mistress Bream
would fancy a trip out. Then there’s the Widow Handwill.”
Tallis had gone pale at this. “But they spend fortunes on clothes!”
Shena turned on him. “No they don’t, they invest wisely in classics which
they get plenty of wear out of.”
“I cannot afford classics.” Tallis contemplated his words. “I admit it; I
cannot even afford cheap and tawdry.”
“Nonsense. Mutt, I’ll write a couple of letters of invitation to these
ladies and you can deliver them.
Inevitably the invitations were accepted. Still his patrons, sensitive to
the worries Tallis was too polite to even hint at, decided that he shouldn’t
be present lest it cause him to fret. Instead he was left behind at the
house of the Widow Handwill. There he could supervise and entertain a number
of grandchildren, some hers, some apparently borrowed for the occasion.
The widow had also insisted that Shena call round to her house first. This
meant she could change into a dress abandoned by one of the widow’s
daughters. Thus and so the three ladies, properly arrayed, were conveyed by
sedan chair to the shop.
They entered and were immediately made welcome. The two sisters had made a
rapid appraisal of their combined net worth and obviously decided that this
was not an occasion to stint on service. Styles were discussed; a number of
fabrics in a variety of colours were seen and felt.
“So what exactly is Madam looking for?”
Shena said thoughtfully. “Something long, but short enough for dancing.
Above the ankle perhaps.”
The widow added, “And I would recommend silk. It is universally acknowledged
that there is almost nothing so well suited to any season.”
Unwilling to be missed out, Mistress Bream said sagely, “And it is the most
pleasant to wear.”
“What colours have you in mind?” Minny asked.
“I thought of something plain,” Shena replied.
“You are still young.” Mistress Bream insisted. You want fresh simplicity, I’d
say pale colours.”
“And you have kept your figure,” the widow commented in tones that might
have been envious. “A slender figure sets off to perfection a dress with a
Benor, listening through the shop door, worked softly on the lock of the
private stair. Mutt, standing behind him, watched the street. As Benor had
suspected, the lock was simple and easily defeated. The door was meant to be
bolted when those living in the house were out. As quietly as possible Benor
made his way upstairs, walking close to the wall in an attempt to stop them
creaking. Mutt followed in his footsteps.
There were four doors off the landing; from what they had been told the far
one was Minney’s room. Again walking near the wall, Benor approached the
door and tentatively tried the handle. The door was not locked and opened
easily enough. Looking inside the bed with its curtains was to his right. He
approached the bed. Wast had said the box was under the mattress. From below
him he could still hear the hum of conversation. Occasionally a phrase would
be audible. Mistress Bream’s determined assertion, “No gores or flounces,”
wafted up to him.
He carefully lifted the mattress slightly and saw the chest. It was flatter
than he’d expected but then if it were to be slipped under a mattress it
would have to be. He pulled it too him, turned it round and put the key in
the lock. It turned beautifully. He opened the lid almost reverently.
Instead of loose coin there were three bags. Two were labelled. The largest
was labelled Jorrocks Boat Yard, another other bore the name Salat
Wheelstrain. Jorrocks Boat Yard he’d heard mentioned before, Minny had some
sort of dealings with them. But Salat Wheelstrain? Who was he?
Benor opened the unlabelled one. It contained a considerable number of
coins, all ten alar pieces. He removed ten and replaced them with the ten
forgeries. Then purely out of curiosity he had a quick look in the other
two. Both contained only ten alar pieces. The money might have been bagged
because it was soon to be paid out?
There was no sign of the letter Wast had seen. Benor contemplated the open
chest. Perhaps Wast’s flight had convinced Minny to be more careful. So she’d
hidden the letter elsewhere. He turned to see Mutt holding out a hand. Benor
took an extra ten alar piece and dropped it in the outstretched hand. After
all, the boy had to pay the pickpocket. He rearranged the bags, trying to
leave them as he’d found them. He locked the chest and put it carefully
back. Leaving, Benor didn’t let his sense of achievement prevent him from
continuing to take proper precautions. At the outside door they waited until
everybody had passed before slipping out into the street. As they waited
Benor could hear Mistress Bream railing on the topic of petticoats.
And now the hard sell
I’ve thought long and hard about blog tours. I often wonder how much
somebody reading a book wants to know about the author. After all, I as a
writer have gone to a lot of trouble to produce an interesting world for my
characters to frolic in. Hopefully the characters and their story pull the
reader into the world with them. So does the reader really want me tampering
with the fourth wall to tell them how wonderful I am? Indeed given the
number of film stars and writers who have fallen from grace over the years,
perhaps the less you know about me the better?
Still, ignoring me, you might want to know a bit about the world. Over the
years I’ve written four novels and numerous novellas set in the Land of the
Three Seas, and a lot of the action has happened in the city of Port Naain.
They’re not a series, they’re written to be a collection, so you can read
them in any order, a bit like the Sherlock Holmes stories in that regard.
So I had a new novella I wanted to release. ‘Swimming for profit and
pleasure.’ It’s one of the ‘Port Naain Intelligencer’ collection and I
decided I’d like to put together a blog tour to promote it. But what sort of
tour? Then I had a brainwave. I’d get bloggers who know Port Naain to send
me suitable pictures and I’d do a short story about that picture. It would
be an incident in the life of Benor as he gets to know Port Naain.
Except that when the pictures came in it was obvious that they linked
together to form a story in their own right, which is how I ended up writing
one novella to promote another! In simple terms it’s a chapter with each
picture. So you can read the novella by following the blogs in order. There
is an afterword which does appear in the novella that isn’t on the blogs,
but it’s more rounding things off and tying up the lose ends.
Given that the largest number of pictures was provided by a lady of my
acquaintance, I felt I had to credit her in some way.
So the second novella I’m releasing is ‘The plight of the Lady Gingerlily.’
It too is part of the Port Naain Intelligencer collection.
So we have ‘Swimming for profit and pleasure’
Benor learns a new craft, joins the second hand book trade, attempts to
rescue a friend and awakens a terror from the deep. Meddling in the affairs
of mages is unwise, even if they have been assumed to be dead for centuries.
And we have ‘The Plight of the Lady Gingerlily
No good deed goes unpunished. To help make ends meet, Benor takes on a few
small jobs, to find a lost husband, to vet potential suitors for two young
ladies, and to find a tenant for an empty house. He began to feel that
things were getting out of hand when somebody attempted to drown him.
I will start my journey on Earth because this is where we all live.
Our wonderful Planet swims on the edge of the Milky Way like a newborn waiting for mother’s milk.
We live on this magic ball, spinning on its axle like a trapeze artist.
On occasion, there is a wobble, and I often wonder if this wobble coincides with those wobbly moments in my own life. Like any good trapeze artist, I re balance and stay on course.
There are too many beautiful things to see and do, so many beaches to visit, warm seas to swim in and beautiful sunsets that should never be missed.
So many people to converse with and learn their way of life.
Long may our Earth continue to spin in our spiral Galaxy.
I am off now, to see what I can find in this perfect alignment…
As I look back towards Earth, I see the Northern Lights and my soul is baptised by the glorious colours of the dancing river of lights…
I am now heading towards Mars… Please join me on my journey tomorrow ?
The new Sentinel’s reign is doomed to failure unless Tei can prevent the Kalayan people from plunging into war.
With the new Sentinel initiated and the magic restored on Kalaya, life is flourishing for Tei and the exiles. But Rathnor’s plans for war soon escalate and thwart any chance of peace.
Brogan’s position on the Assembly is uncertain as rumours circulate that he is an exile spy.
After an attempt on his life, Farrell is more determined than ever to build a home for his people on Stone Haven. But the council have their sights set on Kalaya and Farrell struggles to steer them from war.
As trouble brews within and outside forces gather against them, can the exiles keep their hold on the magic, or will this spell the end of Kalaya and its people?
The Sentinel’s Reign is a heroic fantasy. If you like character-driven adventures then you will love The Sentinel’s Reign.
This is the second book in the Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy and follows on from The Lost Sentinel.
As Brogan crested the ridge, he yanked at the reins and stared down in horror. In the valley below, twin blazes lit up the sky.
His chest tightened as he saw the barn and farmhouse completely consumed by fire. He picked out a couple of dark shapes fleeing; a few horses lucky enough to escape the fire for a second time.
Before he could react on the instinct raging through his blood, Tei manoeuvred her horse in front of his, blocking his path. Her horse pranced and snorted, and Biscuit took a step back.
Brogan looked at the formidable pair stopping him from reaching his friends. ‘Move out the way.’
She said it so quietly he wished he’d imagined it, but looking over her shoulder at the fire, he knew nothing could survive the inferno.
Tei walked her horse forward so she was level with his and grabbed the reins from his hand. She held Biscuit steady.
‘Brogan, I’m so sorry.’
He saw the devastation written on her face. Then he glimpsed the sword concealed beneath her cloak. ‘Give me your sword.’
Tei pulled away from him, guarding her weapon. ‘That won’t help.’
‘It will if I kill the bastard responsible…’
The Sentinel’s Reign – Book 2 Silent Sea Chronicles
The Lost Sentinel – Book 1 Silent Sea Chronicles
Visions of Zarua – Standalone epic fantasy
Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.
She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.
Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.
She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.
Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.
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