During the blog tour, Broken Life will be just 99p …
Universal Amazon Link: myBook.to/BrokenLife
Today we welcome Tallis Steelyard to our blog. He has kindly come along with another of his lovely stories.
This image is a painting by the great Frank Frazetta, an artist my son adores and tries to emulate, and suits the story very well.
Officers and gentlemen?
In a world of bitterness and evil where gross unpleasantness is rife, it is good to talk occasionally about the decent people one meets. Thus I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of my patrons. Now anyone would think that all my patrons are ladies, and to be fair a considerable majority of them are. But there are still gentlemen who feel the finer arts are worthy of support.
Two of them, Sir Stee and Sir Regald, lived together in a pleasant enough house on the edge of Dilbrook. They lived alone save for their
cook/housekeeper Solia and a handful of other staff who didn’t live in.
As patrons they knew what they wanted. Sir Stee liked something with a good steady rhythm and a strong rhyming pattern. He also felt that poems should commemorate stirring actions. I confess that whilst I could write what he liked, after a while, you run out of convincing rhymes for ‘gore’ or ‘slaughter.’
Sir Regald, on the other hand, liked something more lyrical. He appreciated the melody within the language, and for him, rhyme and rhythm should be subordinated to this. As you can imagine, it’s not an easy combination to achieve, and to be fair, they tended to accept this.
Solia on the other hand, I frankly adored. She was almost a surrogate aunt to me. The gentlemen kept a good table, and when you dined there with them, you dined heartily and well. Solia would always send me off with ‘a little something for your Shena.’ This little something would feed the pair of us for a couple of days.
What always irritated me over the years was the gossip that seemed to
circulate about this household. There were all sorts of unpleasant rumours, including one that claimed that the two gentlemen remained in the same house because of their common passion for Solia.
Now that the last of that household has taken their final journey I can
reveal the truth. They were three siblings. Their mother was a chambermaid who fell in love with a common soldier. Not even a horseman, but an infantryman. He marched south before they realised she was pregnant and with no sign of him returning it was arranged that the child, a boy she called Stee, would be adopted by a childless family nearby. The errant father returned, and when it was explained to him what had happened, he swore he would marry his beloved. Alas, there was trouble in the south, and he was swept away to the wars, leaving another child to be born. This boy, called Regald, was adopted by a second local family. When the father returned he
married the mother on the day he got back, got his discharge and became a cobbler. Their third child, a girl called Solia was born a year later. All three children knew of their siblings and to some extent grew up together.
The boys went for soldiers and not long after Solia, sharing their love of adventure, followed them. For many years they worked in Partann, signing on with this company or that company, or working directly for petty warlords.
This saw the brothers acting as sergeants and their sister in great demand
because of her command of logistics.
One story worth telling came from when the three of them were travelling in Partann, having finished one contract and whilst they were looking for the next. They arrived at a small village to find it in uproar. It seems that the minions of a local mage had arrived in the village to kidnap one of the village maidens and after something of an affray had taken not merely the girl, but also a young man who had been passing through and had got caught up in the fight. The three siblings put their heads together and in return for board and lodging, promised to see what they could so.
Now, in the best traditions of storytelling, I will transport you to the
dungeon in the tower of the mage. The tower was a simple affair with four stories above ground and a cellar which acted as a dungeon. Each storey was a single large round room. The cellar was illuminated by lanterns hung around the walls, with a burning brazier near a long work table. In the very centre of the room was a pit and over the pit dangled the maiden and the young man. The pit was of unknown depth, and from above could have been mistaken for a narrow opening to some fiery hell. Both the two potential victims were stark naked and hanging upside down, with the mage busily writing cabalistic symbols across their naked bodies in blue ink. A score of
the mage’s lickspittle henchmen clustered around, watching the process with unnerving attention.
From upstairs came a hammering sound, four sharp blows. A senior minion made its twisted way to the Mage.
“There is someone outside Master, they demand entrance.”
There was another flurry of heavy blows.
“They are hammering on the door Master.”
The mage impatiently gestured around him. “Then take these upstairs. Then when the intruders enter, slay them.”
The senior minion made his limping way up the spiral staircase that ran around the outside of the tower. He was followed by a shambling crowd of twisted and misshapen creatures, clutching a selection of implements having blades, points, or both. Once the malformed brutes had left, the mage started marking out two pentangles on the floor. One enclosed the pit, the other the brazier next to the workbench. From above came another flurry of heavy blows.
The mage cast a handful of powder onto the brazier. The flames flickered green and purple. From the pit came a yammering and howling. The mage checked his pentangles. From above came an explosion.
Above the two brothers had exploded the petard which they’d fastened to the door. Shattered fragments of wood had scythed through the deformed guardians waiting for them so that when Sir Stee and Sir Regald burst into the hallway, they found no-one in any fit state to dispute their passage. With Solia close behind them, they headed down the stairs. The mage was waiting.
Tackling a prepared mage in his own workroom is not a task for the faint-hearted, but the siblings were also prepared. Even as the mage raised his hand, Sir Stee hurled a piece of the door at him. Instinctively the mage flinched, and the missile disintegrated into grey powder. As Sir Stee dropped down from the stairs onto the floor, Sir Regald hurled his piece of timber and then sprinted down the stairs. The mage was forced to duck the timber to conserve his powers and then rose to face the two soldiers. He raised both hands and started chanting. At this point, a heavy steel crossbow bolt, fired by Solia, tore through his chest and buried itself in the wall behind him.
The mage was hurled back by the blow, and Sir Regald leapt after him and struck off his head with his sword. Then, fastidiously and at sword point, he dropped the still chanting head into the brazier and waited until the flames had entirely consumed it.
After that, it was purely a matter of freeing the prisoners and letting the local peasantry loot the tower. Then they cleansed the tower with flame, burning it so that it collapsed, burying the dungeon.
Looking back, the three siblings never told this story to anybody. I often wonder how many more of their deeds have been forgotten. As it is, I can recount this one only because I was the young man dangling naked upside down over the pit with esoteric symbols scrawled across my buttocks in blue ink.
I am reliably informed that it took months for them to wear off.
At this point, it might be an idea to mention the publishing of another
collection of stories from Tallis Steelyard. Some have been on the blog, but some are completely new. Now you can acquire more of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. This work includes the unexpurgated account of the Mudfold and Cockeren feud, the dangers inherent in light music, and how Tallis first met and wooed Shena.
It is available from
Tallis has come to the attention of a world not entirely ready for him through the actions of a mutual friend, one Benor Dorfinngil. Benor is a friend and one-time tenant of the Steelyards, and it is my unworthy self who has been fated to chronicle some at least of Benor’s career. (This is career as in ‘the coach careered downhill’)
It was when I sent some of my labours to Mike Rose-Steel he noted a snatch of verse from Tallis and toyed with it.
The results, which represent the sole example of Tallis’s work published in our time can be found at
Further tales, including details of how they met may be found in ‘Flotsam or Jetsam.’
Obviously any lover of literature or even art in general will insist on acquiring copies, so I suggest you purchase now to avoid disappointment.
At this point Tallis has graciously allowed me, that is, Jim Webster, to mention some of my own work. Admittedly there is too many books to mention without trespassing too far on the generosity of mine host. Still if you wish to read the story in which Tallis is first introduced to modern literature I would recommend ‘Flotsam or Jetsam’
“I swore that I would never go home,
but in the end, I had no choice.
I had to confront what happened.
And them too.
It was going be icky. And totally scary.”
Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.
She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself.
She had to come home: There was no other choice.
Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.
Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.
Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:
A war which can only have one victor.
Soon, she wishes she had never come home.
But by then it was too late.
Much too late.
“We received a copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team”
The main character, Carol Prentice, made quite an impression right from the start with her dark clothes, hair and Doc Marten boots. She had come back to her family’s hometown after the death of her father, determined to sort her life out, and this involves a plan and a secret.
What does make someone choose one path over another and the hardest one at that?
A totally unpredictable and powerful story of what starts out as Carol’s revenge, but ends up being for someone else too. She came back home, knowing she would run into all kinds of bad memories, so what she intended to do had to be very important.
Some of the words Carol used confused me, but I am probably too old to understand the parlance of the young these days, but it did manage to help create a harsh rawness to the drama.
The other character I really liked was Steve, the bookshop owner. Steve is a thoroughly likeable older man and the perfect foil for Carol, giving the story another dimension. I did think it might have been better if Steve was younger, but maybe it worked better because he wasn’t, for there was enough going on without romance in the mix.
This is a gritty, well-planned story of revenge, every detail brings you slowly to the necessary showdown, but you won’t be ready for it. I know I wasn’t!
I didn’t want to enjoy this book quite so much, what with its nasty threads and even nastier people, but despite it all, there is redemption at the end and that for me, was well worth the read…
About the Author
Mark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights.
He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people.
He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club. Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds.
He is based in Nottingham and Southwell, UK, the scene of most of his fiction.
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 talks 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 had a major epiphany yesterday. I had just posted yet another book promotion post on our blog and found myself disliking it intensely.
I have never liked the ‘hard sell’ and conveniently usually forget to do any, but if you want people to read (and buy) your books, you are supposed to do it well and often. But it always seems to leave a sour taste in my mouth, and I realised just how much I hate doing it.
It seems ok to do it on Twitter, probably because it’s quick and you don’t have to pretty it up. But here on our blog, it just doesn’t look right, so we have decided to stop doing it.
Our new books will get a mention, of course, plus any good news, but the constant blanket promotion will stop and be replaced with more interesting posts, something you would rather read, I’m sure.
Personally, I don’t think you need to plug away at your books anyway. The covers and links are all there in the sidebar, all you have to do if you’re interested, is click on the image and you go straight through to Amazon.
The pressures and stress of promotion have been gradually eating away at our writing time, and I am never sure if I’m doing it right, or in the right places. Which was another reason for my decision.
Gone are the days when I could spend hours playing games or surfing the web, I just can’t do it anymore. After four or five hours my eyesight goes for a walk, and the brain starts to seize up, and I have to walk away. So my time is limited, and I have to find ways to fit everything in. If there is a way, you can bet I will find it!
Anita is now an official reviewer with Rosie Amber, something we both love doing, and we have been doing some beta reading for some of our fellow bloggers/writers, which is reviewing really, just more in depth. We will be asking for help in this direction for ourselves soon!
Revision is finally finished on our non-fiction book Lazy Days, the long awaited transcription of the logbook of a 40-year-old family holiday on the Norfolk Broads. We might have a blog tour for this one after it gets beta read.
Work has begun in earnest on our joint WIP. This is another thriller, and it will eventually be terrific once I complete the outline for the story AND all the characters.
The weather was kind for a few days, so I managed to repot some of my smaller bonsai, and it was actually brilliant to get out of my office for a while…
The idea of having a blog tour is really taking hold, and we want to be brave enough to give it a go. Unfortunately, it won’t have the reach of a professionally organised tour, funds just will not stretch that far, so we will be relying on all the wonderful bloggers and retweeters who follow us to help spread the word.
The general idea is to have week where lots (I’m hoping) of you offer to post reviews and promo posters and posts about my last book in the Lives series, The Broken Life.
We are looking for anyone who enjoys mystery crime thrillers and would be willing to offer your time and blog space to promote my book.
We offer #Free ebooks, promotional posters and material and of course, our eternal gratitude.
If you decide to help with a review or promotional piece about this book on your blog , Amazon, and Goodreads, we will love you forever and return the favour when you need it.
Time plan: We were thinking of the week beginning 20th June. Please leave any comments below, or use the contact form on the website to email me.
The Broken Life is the third book in my mystery thriller series, but reads well on its own. We are also thinking of releasing them all as a box set in the near future.
Even if you cannot spare the time to read or review it, we would appreciate any retweets and reposts you can squeeze in during that week…
If you like the thriller genre that keeps up the momentum then The Ninth Life would be a good read for you. The pace never falters, building up the plot and characters with timely intervention. The author cleverly keeps the story centred around the main character, with the other players coming into the story and yet there are no plot holes or false timings.
Not once did I get bored reading it or find the story faltering at all – definitely one of those where ‘you need to know what happens next’ but I think the author’s gift when writing this is to keep the protagonist centre whilst keeping the reader constantly hooked. The antagonist is typically a nasty character, one whom the reader takes an instant dislike to and the edge he adds to the story is almost palpable.
Other characters are kept to a minimum but play pivotal roles in the story; the good thing here is you never know quite how they will turn out. Will your fears be unfounded? Or did you correctly guess the next step? The ending is not what you would expect (another good talent to have when writing) but you’ll have to read the book!
I enjoyed reading Jaye Marie’s first book, The Ninth Life, and although the story was fast paced and gripping, the ending disappointed me a little. I was left wondering if the main character had really died or if the killer had managed to get away scot free. Perfect cliffhangers for a series though, and I looked forward to the next instalment.
The Last Life is, I thought, a much stronger story than the first. I fell in love with the new character, DI David Snow. He brings a new dimension to an interesting plot, making the story far more of a crime thriller.
I love the attention to detail the author gives to all of her characters. They are like old friends and you instantly feel you know them well. The Last Life is a well written thoroughly enjoyable read, good plot and well- paced suspense. There is one more book in this series and I can’t wait to read what happens next.
Kate Devereau wakes up in a hospital, unable to speak or move. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge her dark and disturbing past, concealing a web of painful secrets.
Michael Barratt brought her to the hospital, insisting that her ex-husband had tried to kill her. And from the state of him, had tried to kill him too. He had been searching for Kate for years, ever since their doomed love affair, only to discover someone else had been hunting her too.
With the help of the DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her life back together, only to discover the nightmare is far from over.
Her first instinct is to run, but David Snow convinces her to stay and help him put an end to the nightmare. A nightmare that will get progressively worse before it gets better.
Haunted by his own demons, will the Snowman manage to catch the twisted killer?
Evil lurks in this story and people die, but amidst the tears and heartache, a lost love struggles to survive…
Excerpt from The Last Life
Detective Inspector David Snow looked down at the unconscious woman on the hospital bed in front of him, remembering the state of her when she had arrived, a few hours ago. They had done a good job of cleaning her up. She lay still, like a religious statue in a church, her pale skin the colour of finest marble. The gentle rise and fall of her breasts the only indication life still clung to her body.
So different to the wrinkled, dirt-ingrained body he had looked at earlier, of an old tramp, found dead in the hospital car park, bundled into a moth-eaten army coat and wedged under a car. What was originally thought to be a simple case of neglect, had taken on a more sinister tone when they discovered the tramps head had been cut off and shoved down the back of the old boy’s trousers.
Snow wondered what an old tramp could possibly have done to warrant such treatment, being well known around the hospital and described as a harmless old soul. The tenuous link to the woman in front of him indicated she might not be safe and would need his protection.
They knew very little about her, and he wondered again what kind of woman she was. Now the dirt had been removed, she looked healthy and well cared for, which ruled out homelessness. A reasonably attractive, middle-aged woman, bordering on the ordinary, apart from her curly hair which would appear to have a life of its own, as even now it crept across the pillow like the roots of a willow.
Alone with the unconscious woman, Snow had an excellent opportunity to study her without feeling self-conscious about doing it. In all the years since his wife’s death, he missed looking intimately at a woman. He usually tried to do it surreptitiously to avoid the risk of being branded a pervert, or worse. He liked to imagine what kind of person they were, if they were kind or cruel, bossy or timid, but for once, there were no clues on this woman’s face. A slight determination in the set of her jaw gave him pause for thought.
According to Michael Barratt, the man who brought her here, her name was Kate Devereau, an artist, none of which gave him any clues as to her character. In the beginning, Snow had instinctively thought she might be the murderer in this case, due to the amount of blood found in the cottage. Michael Barratt had found her unconscious in this cottage on the outskirts of Guildford. He said he knew her, but had no idea why she had found it necessary to be there. As an estate agent, he had been arranging to have the cottage ready for Miss Devereau to rent.
It was all a little mysterious, compounded by the fact Michael Barratt looked as if he had been barbecued. His clothes were burned black in places, apart from his jacket, which was clean and several sizes too small and obviously didn’t belong to him. The back of his head and hands were raw and blistered, suggesting there were probably more extensive burns to his body.
The estate agent had offered no explanation for his own condition but stubbornly kept asking after Kate, which might possibly indicate an emotional involvement. He had no answer for what had happened to her, except to say her health had not been good for a while. If it hadn’t been for all the blood, it would have seemed innocent enough.
So why didn’t Snow believe him?
Amazon Link for The Ninth Life myBook.to/TheNinthLife
Amazon Link for The Last Life myBook.to/TheLastLife