Tallis Steelyard, Bringing The Joys Of Civilisation #BlogTour

Yesterday was our turn to present Tallis Steelyard’s last story in this book tour, Getting to the bottom of it all, but due to unforeseen confusion on someone’s part, it was posted very late in the day. So, in an effort to finish this amazing blog tour in style, we are posting it again!

These wonderful stories are a lovely way to introduce three new novellas from Jim Webster, the man responsible for most of Tallis’ adventures…

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Getting to the bottom of it all.

I now had a task to perform. I had to arrange a pie eating contest in which Flobbard Wangil could participate. My problem was that I hadn’t the funds just to buy the pies and organise one, so I needed a patron to support it.
Unfortunately my patrons are not the sort of people who normally run that sort of contest. Indeed to be fair, many would look askance if I introduced Flobbard into their house.
Then I had a stroke of luck, Flobbard’s sister, Malinflua, whom I’d not seen since we arrived back in Port Naain, got in touch with me. She had very recently purchased a rather large house, number eighteen, on Grettan Walk. This is a pleasant street in the Merchant quarter. She wanted a word with me about possibly working together.
I walked up to the house I glanced at the abandoned building site that was number sixteen. Out of curiosity I peered between the boards that screened the location from view. Somebody had obviously started work again. I could see large piles of fresh spoil. Perhaps they were already working on new foundations? Here in Port Naain, given the soil is largely the clay of the estuary, we take foundations very seriously. I continued on to Malinflua’s house and discovered that she had already had her ground floor converted into a restaurant. It was open for business and there were quite a few diners. She showed me round with genuine pride in what she had created, and then we went into her office and she poured us both coffee.

I had been doing some thinking. Malinflua had spent a lot of money.
Now nobody ever recovered the three gemstones that had disappeared from Slipshade keep, and I did wonder about them. Now I knew I hadn’t taken them. I was now pretty certain that Flobbard hadn’t taken them, so really that only left Malinflua, who had suddenly come into funds. So as I stirred my coffee I asked the obvious question. “So I assume you got the three stones out of Slipshade?”
“Oh yes, it was easy enough.”
I raised both hands in front of me, palms up, to show my bafflement.”
“So how did you do it?”
“As I joined you, I dropped them into your jacket pocket. Then after they searched me and before they searched you, I took them back again and kept them in a pocket in my skirt.”
All I can say is that I’m just glad I didn’t know at the time. Still I think she was pleased by my expression.
“Anyway the reason I called you here Tallis, is that I’ve an idea to do something new. If I just run a restaurant then I’ll do reasonably well. Yes, I’ll struggle to keep a good cook, and I’ll have to join in the game of stealing a cook off somebody to replace the cook somebody just stole off me. Well I want to break out of that.”
It seemed entirely reasonable to me.

She continued, “So what I am going to do is to put on shows as well. I will walk amongst the diners doing magic tricks, pulling coins out of their ears or whatever, but I don’t want to
have to do that all the time. So I’ll have musicians and singers, and various other performers.”
I shook my head. “Make damned sure they’re house musicians, paid on a regular basis and reliant upon you, or you’ll find yourself dealing with crisis after crisis as they get drunk, fight, seduce your customers, or whatever.”
“And that’s why I invited you here, Tallis. You’ve a lot of experience in the field and I wondered if you would organise things, at least until we get properly up and running.”
It was then I had my idea. “And of course you’ll need a pie eating contest.”
She looked at me as if I had suggested she open as a bordello serving the cheaper end of the market. “Are you serious?”
“Yes.”
“What sort of establishment do you think this is.”
“Exactly. You’re aiming to be the best. So you’ve got to do things others don’t. So you put on the finest pie eating contest. The very best pies. A waiter on hand to top up your glass as you eat. Another waiter serving you pies, whilst a third ensures you have the appropriate condiments. The
contest would be on a long table down the centre of the dining room whilst your other guests could eat at tables spread around the periphery. They could then eat, watch, and bet; all at the same time. Not only that but it’ll keep both me and your brother out of jail.”
That did it.

Malinflua was genuinely fond of her brother. I believe that when they were both children, he used to regularly get beaten up protecting her. All he achieved was to give her a head start and time to find somewhere to hide, but I don’t think she’d ever forgotten his actions.
Now I had to set about organising the event. I needed a small group of performers, but they had to be carefully chosen. I contacted Old Jerky and asked him to fetch three reliable musicians and a competent singer. Unlike my usual patrons, Malinflua was not going to be daunted by Old Jerky’s battered appearance. She knew him and valued him. Similarly I could rely on his ability to pick players who could be relied upon to remain sober.
Then I needed somebody else. It chanced that as I sat in the Misanthropes, Illus Wheelburn was holding forth about his time in Prae Ducis. His tale was amusing, self-deprecating and he interspersed it with a few short verses that were both thought provoking and droll. I had a discussion with him after he’d finished and asked him if he could work his tale up into a fifteen minute performance. He was certain he could, and I booked him.
Then there was the pie eating competition. The pies I discussed with Malinflua’s cook. Out of a sense of duty towards Flobbard, I suggested the pies be large enough to be held easily in two hands thus allowing for perhaps four or five good bites, and not too heavily spiced. Also the meat would be well chopped up with no bits of bone. The cook could see no problem with this and ordered in plenty of well hung horrocks. This she intended to marinate in ale for at least a full day.
When it came to getting competitors, I allowed word to circulate amongst the gentlemen who attended upon my patrons. Whilst they would never admit to it in polite company, I suspected several of them fancied themselves to be redoubtable trenchermen. A number of them discreetly let me know that they would compete. Indeed I think they were glad of a chance, after all a well-bred individual rarely gets the opportunity to take part in such things. I also suggested to Flobbard that he find a couple of competitors as well. I stressed to him that I wanted people who were neat in their person and delicate in their eating habits. I stressed we didn’t want any of those competitors who claim to have eaten a pie but actually have left at least half of it spread in a thin layer over the table, their shirt front, and their neighbours.
Less than a week later, everything was prepared. I helped Malinflua’s kitchen staff rearrange the dining room. We had a long table for the competitors down the middle. The other tables around the edge and a small stage for performers at one end. As the guests (tickets only and sold out) arrived, we had the musicians play. Once people were gathered, I had Illus tell his tale and give his verses. It helped create an atmosphere and allowed people to order drinks to their tables and get comfortable. Then I announced the pie eating competition.
This is where I hit the first snag. Old Gaffer Alfen, one of the spectators, asked about rules. I confess this had never occurred to me. I rather assumed people just knew what to do. As it was, Gaffer admitted that he wasn’t taking part, even though in his youth he’d been an occasional competitor, but it struck him that the rules ought to be set out plain and simple for everyone. I turned to Flobbard who suggested that the entire pie must be eaten, that there must be no physical contact with other competitors, and anybody feeling nauseous must move at once from the table. This seemed entirely reasonable and they were agreed by all the competitors.
Old Gaffer, rather diffidently, then asked about the counting of the pies. He explained that when he had been in competition, everybody ate their first pie, then their second, but at the same time. So if you had finished your fourth, you waited for the others to finish their fourth before you started your fifth.

Thus because everybody had eaten the same number of pies, everybody knew the score. Finally if you could eat no more, you took off your napkin and folded it in front of you so the waiters knew. They would write your total on a piece of paper and give it to you. There was some discussion amongst the competitors about this as some felt that this might stop them getting into their routine. But others felt it meant that you did at least get time to belch before eating the next. So this too was agreed.
Finally Gaffer asked about the chant. We all looked a bit blank, so he explained that during the competition everybody would clap their hands to create a rhythm. It was slap, slap, slap, with the third slap being by far the loudest. So a lot of competitors would follow the beat with bite, bite, swallow. The competitors were intrigued by this idea and they agreed this as well. Gaffer was thanked for his wisdom and his contribution and I asked Old Jerky if he could do something with that sort of beat.
I gave the order to the waiters, Old Jerky picked up a drum, the first pies were served, (to diners as well as to competitors) and battle was commenced. To be fair to Gaffer, his system worked really well and I would recommend it to everybody running a pie eating contest. Those watching got caught up in it, clapping in time. The singer dredged something suitable from his repertoire and regaled us with what was probably a Partannese pirate shanty.

At the table, the competitors set to work with a will. One or two complimented the staff on the quality of the pies. Apparently, one normally tries not to taste them. After four or five, some of the competitors had to fold their napkins. They were largely the men who had last done this sort of thing two decades before or who had never done it. But they stayed at the table and joined in the clapping. Nobody had yet had to flee to the jakes. By the time we got to ten pies, there were only three competitors still in the game. Flobbard, the Partannese chap who won at Slipslade, and a sailor called Diggan. By now people were not merely clapping, they were standing up and stamping their feet. Even those who had folded their napkins were stamping in time, but from a seated position. The excitement was intense, and the three men reached for their twelfth pie. Even I was on my feet and was walking around the competitors’ table, encouraging them to greater efforts.
At this point I was certain I heard a creaking, but it was difficult to be sure over the hubbub. Then on the third great stamp, the floor started to fall away beneath me. I ran towards the side and jumped onto the main entrance where the stone doorstep showed no signs of moving. I clutched the door and looked behind me. The section of the floor under the competitors’ table had sagged about six feet, below me it had torn away completely and I was looking into a ragged hole. Four men, holding shovels and standing next to a wheelbarrow looked up at me. I hung over the lip of the hole to get a better look. Next to them was a battered table. On the table there was a lighted lantern illuminating what I recognised to be the map that Illus had drawn and that I had further annotated.
It was at this point that I became aware of the shouting and shrieking. Some of the diners were beginning to panic as they too started to slide down the hole. To be fair, it was unlikely they  were going to come to much harm, if only because when they hit one of the well upholstered pie-eaters, they would come to a safe, if somewhat inappropriate, halt.
Others were moving now, Malinflua was at the kitchen door shouting for a rope so they could pull people out and evacuate them through the scullery. The four men with shovels had fled, probably back along the tunnel they had dug from next door. Illus had slid down the slope and was examining his map in great detail. I noticed one or two of the Partannese were exchanging comments and were glaring at me in what I felt was a significant manner. It was obvious that any number of people were going to come to what I felt were unwarranted conclusions. I quietly left, closing the door behind me.
On mature consideration I decided not to go back to the barge but wrote a note for one of the street children to deliver to Shena explaining the situation. I decided against a season in Avitas or elsewhere in Partann. There were doubtless too many people on the roads of Partann who had no reason to remember me fondly. I decided to make my way to Oiphallarian, and managed to board one of the smaller steamers, even as the gangplank was being pulled aboard.
A somewhat offensive petty officer asked, in what I felt was a menacing fashion, if I intended to pay for my passage. I put my hand in my britches pocket and at that point remembered that Malinflua had already paid me. I took this as a sign that matters were not as bad as they could have been. I paid him for deck passage, with meals and a chance to root through the slop chest. Thus dressed in a manner befitting an ordinary seaman, I could preserve my good clothes for when I arrived in Oiphallarian. There I could seek out new patrons, renew my acquaintance with old ones, perform my work and wait for time to pass. In due course, Port Naain would grow forgetful and I would return home. In the meantime, it was surely my duty to bring the joys of civilisation to Oiphallarian.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

And now we’d better hear from Jim Webster.
So here I am again with another blog tour. Not one book but three.
The first is another of the Port Naain Intelligencer collection. These
stories are a bit like the Sherlock Holmes stories. You can read them in any
order.

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On the Mud. The Port Naain Intelligencer
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mud-Port-Naain-Intelligencer-ebook/dp/B07ZKYD7TR
When mages and their suppliers fall out, people tend to die. This becomes a
problem when somebody dies before they manage to pass on the important
artefact they had stolen. Now a lot of dangerous, violent or merely amoral
people are searching, and Benor has got caught up in it all. There are times
when you discover that being forced to rely upon a poet for back-up isn’t as
reassuring as you might hope.

Then we have a Tallis Steelyard novella.
Tallis Steelyard and the Rustic Idyll
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07ZKYMG1G/
When he is asked to oversee the performance of the celebrated ‘Ten
Speeches’, Tallis Steelyard realises that his unique gifts as a poet have
finally been recognised. He may now truly call himself the leading poet of
his generation.
Then the past comes back to haunt him, and his immediate future involves too
much time in the saddle, being asked to die in a blue silk dress, blackmail
and the abuse of unregulated intoxicants. All this is set in delightful
countryside as he is invited to be poet in residence at a lichen festival.

And finally, for the first time in print we proudly present
Maljie, the episodic memoirs of a lady.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07ZKVXP24/

In his own well-chosen words, Tallis Steelyard reveals to us the life of
Maljie, a lady of his acquaintance. In no particular order we hear about her
bathing with clog dancers, her time as a usurer, pirate, and the
difficulties encountered when one tries to sell on a kidnapped orchestra. We
enter a world of fish, pet pigs, steam launches, theological disputation,
and the use of water under pressure to dispose of foul smelling birds. Oh
yes, and we learn how the donkey ended up on the roof.

All a mere 99p each

 

 

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday ~ Our Review of House Without Windows by Stevie Turner #RomanticSuspense @StevieTurner6

 

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Dr Beth Nichols thinks she has been held captive by Edwin Evans for about 8 or 9 years now.

Amidst her grief, she often looks back and thinks about her fiancé Liam.

She lies awake at night staring at the one light bulb that is never switched off and prays that Liam is still out there somewhere searching for her.

 

Our Review

This is an incredibly sad yet powerful, well-written story.

One that will shred your nerves and try repeatedly to break your heart.

Most of us couldn’t begin to imagine what happens to Beth, or how she manages to cope with it all and remain sane.

I don’t think I would have, for simply reading this story has left scars on my emotions. You keep telling yourself it is fiction and didn’t really happen, but we know only too well that it does. This story is probably far too close to the truth than is comfortable. The characters and their suffering are devastatingly real, made all the more so because we know situations like this have happened to people just like Beth and her daughter.

This story reminds us that this world can be cruel and disturbing, but that we can somehow survive and rise above the despair if we can keep love in our hearts…


Biography

Stevie Turner is a British author of suspense, women’s fiction family dramas, and darkly humorous novels. She has also branched out into the world of audio books, screenplays, and translations. Most of her novels are now available as audio books, and ‘A House Without Windows’ gained the attention of a New York media production company in December 2017. Some of Stevie’s books have been translated into German, Spanish, and Italian.

Stevie can be contacted at the following email address: stevie@stevie-turner-author.co.uk
You can find her blog at the following link: http://www.steviet3.wordpress.com
You can sign up to her newsletter here: https://www.facebook.com/StevieTurnerAuthor/app/100265896690345/

 

#TuesdayBookBlog… #Review for Let it Go by Anita Dawes #FamilyDrama

ddr.jpgYou read about families where everyone is happy and life is wonderful.
That wasn’t my family.
My mother coped patiently with a drunken, obsessive gambler of a husband and a daughter with an insatiable sexual appetite. I loved my father, but he kept us one step away from the poor house. Loving my sister was harder, basically because she hated me and constantly brought trouble to our door.
Me ? I couldn’t wait to grow up and live my own life.
Then everything changed. Dad won a guest house in a card game, and suddenly we were off to a new life in Cornwall. A beautiful place, steeped in legend and mystery.
Would trouble leave us alone now, or was it merely biding its time?

 

This is one of my favourite books from Anita, mainly because I love Cornwall, and reading this story always takes me right back there!

Georgia Rose has written a lovely review for Let it Go, and I am sharing it here…

 

Georgia Rose

4.0 out of 5 stars

A colourful family embark on a whole new life

21 October 2019

Right from the start of this story, you know you’re off on an interesting journey with a colourful family. The tale is told from the daughter, Mary’s, point of view. She has an older sister called Sally who she doesn’t think too much of because of her promiscuous behaviour. A drunken gambler for a father and a mother with a temper. One day, after the father has gone on a bender and been missing for a few days he comes home having won a guest house in a card game and just like that a whole new life beckons for the family.

Mary loves the new life in Cornwall where she gets to live with her beloved Nan in a caravan at the end of the garden. The village offers her new freedoms and her first fledging attempts at romance but of course nothing is going to run that smoothly. Sally is soon up to her old tricks which brings trouble for the family and Mary finds a diary the alarming contents of which start to take over her life.

I did enjoy this read which sets off at a cracking pace. The characters are well rounded and interesting and the family dynamic worked well. The pace slowed a little in the second half but there was plenty of interest going on in the story and as added intrigue, throughout the whole book, there hangs that little shred of doubt about how the guest house was won in the first place.

 

  • Silent PayBack is now live on Amazon at the special price of 99p while the book tour is running.  Universal Link:   https://mybook.to/SilentPBack

One More Day Until Launch!

 

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Tomorrow, Silent PayBack goes live!

I feel like borrowing a trumpet and running around like an idiot, for tomorrow has been a long time getting here.

I also want to thank everyone who has helped me to get this far and to all of those who are taking part in the Book Tour! I am surrounded by so much kindness and generosity my heart might burst, I am that overwhelmed!

 

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I have decided to leave SPB at the lower price for the duration of the tour, so that everyone can benefit from this atmosphere of generosity…

Pre-sale Amazon UK Link: amzn.to/2p4xxzg

and US:  amzn.to/2LXHgjO

 

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©Jaye Marie   We welcome feedback, so don’t be shy!

Book Launch for Silent PayBack ~ Can you help?

I never thought this day would come, but here it is!

Sink or swim, Silent PayBack is now out there, waiting for me (and lots of other people, God willing!) to promote our socks off!

SPayBack.jpegA city on edge… a detective on shaky ground…

A serial killer roams the streets of Brighton, hunting for the next victim.
When the case lands on detective David Mallory’s desk, will his battle against his secret demon prevent him from bringing this vicious monster to justice?
As the body count rises, Mallory finds himself sinking under the weight of his heavy secret – one that could jeopardise his job and his reputation.
With the pressure building, can the troubled detective reconcile his issues and solve the case before more women die?

Now on Pre-sale!

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At long last, Silent PayBack is finished and now on Amazon for Pre-sale until 22nd October at the reduced price of just ’99p/$.99!

Amazon UK:  amzn.to/2p4xxzg

Amazon US:   amzn.to/2LXHgjO

 

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I would love some help with my book launch for SPB, now on Pre-sale on Amazon at a bargain price until publication date, October 22nd, at which time the price will revert to normal! All being well, the print edition will follow shortly.

I am busy gathering lots of promo material, and Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) are also available …

If you could help in any way, please let me know by email:  https://jayemarie01@btinternet.com
Or leave me a message in the comments.

And for all those lovely people who have already offered, I will be in touch very soon!

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The Quest for Home #Bookblast #Historical Fiction @WordDreams

Today, it is our turn to help launch Jacqui Murray’s wonderful new prehistoric fiction novel, The Quest for Home.

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

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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.

Our 5* Review

 

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…

Our Questions

  1. Was there really a giant upright primate like Giganto (Zvi’s friend)?

 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’.

Book information:

 Title and author: The Quest for Home

Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

Author bio:

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/

Blog:                                       https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net

Life and other Dreams by Richard Dee… @RichardDockett1 #Psychological/Sci-Fi

This weeks author promotion on #Streets Ahead Book Promotion Club over on MeWe.com is Richard Dee. Please share this post to tell everyone about this wonderful writer!

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One man, two lives. Which one is the reality? Is he Rick, living on Earth? Or is he Dan, living in another time and place? Accused of a crime in one world, he’s stuck in the other. Where do you go when you dream?

Rick lives here on Earth now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly.
In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live six-hundred years in the future, half a galaxy away. They’re explorers, searching for valuable minerals on Ecias, an alien paradise.
Dan has no dreams about Rick’s life, he lives on Ecias, loves his life and Vanessa.
When the two worlds overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up. Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Cath thinks that Rick’s dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.
Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, in two times, at once? If not, then which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?
Richard Dee’s fast-paced, edgy science fiction -cum- psychological thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page!

“Sci-Fi and psychological thriller fans are in for a treat.”
“…action, adventure, romance and cerebral high-jinks…”

Amazon Review

In life and other dreams, we follow Rick in his seemingly ordinary life on Earth. When he sleeps he had vivid dreams of a paradise likeplanet called Ecais and a couple named Dan and Vanessa. Their life is full of adventure and spontaneity but that all ends when a group of plant hunters come to the planet and Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit.
The lines between dreams and reality blur and Rick finds his life is falling apart. What is real and what’s not?

I always enjoy when an author combines two genres I enjoy, in this case sci-fi and thrillers, to make a really original and intriguing novel. I won’t lie, it is a bit of head trip but in a good way.

There’s some fantastic world building too, Richard Dee takes the normal and the not so normal, to create the planet Ecais, it was so vivid I could almost picture it in my head.

I have to be honest, the pacing in this novel was a little up and down. Sometimes I was on the edge of my seat, only to be distracted by a lot of information or a change in perspective, which slowed the pace down but of course that’s just my opinion.

Life and other dreams is an original and out of the box sci-fi thriller for anyone who is looking for something a bit different.

 

More About the Author

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I’m Richard Dee and I’m from Brixham in Devon. I was never a writer, at least not for ages. I made up stories in my head, based on dreams and events in my life, but I never did much with them. Life, a wife, three daughters and now three grandchildren have kept me busy.

I spent forty years in shipping, firstly at sea, then in Port Control and as a Thames River Pilot, with adventures to match anything I could imagine. When I retired, I just moved them out into space, changed some of the names and wrote them down.

I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective. When I’m not writing, I bake bread and biscuits, cook delicious meals and walk the Devon coast.

My first novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of The Rocks of Aserol, a Steampunk adventure, and Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space, the first of a series featuring Andorra Pett, an amateur detective.

Sequels to most of them have either followed or are in production. I also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection of alternative history stories. I’m currently working on more prequels, sequels, and a few new projects.

Check out my videos to see what I get up to. Or, you can keep up with me at richarddeescifi.co.uk where you’ll find free short stories, regular features on writing, book reviews and guest appearances from other great authors.

I can also be contacted at richarddeescifi@gmail.com

The Wonderful World of Tallis Steelyard by Jim Webster ~ #EpicFantasy @JimWebster6

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.

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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)

Jim Webster may be found  at his blog, on Twitter, Facebook and on his Amazon author page.

Tallis Steelyard may be found loitering at his own blog while their book have their own Facebook page

For many more books by Jim Webster (and Tallis)…

Click the images to go to Amazon.