#TuesdayBookBlog ~ Not My Life by Anita Dawes… #FamilyDrama

SOMEONE HAUNTS Sarah’s dreams, someone who looks just like her.
Her name is Kelly and her life is a nightmare.

Are these dreams a message for Sarah’s future, or a glimpse of Kelly’s past?

Or are they both trapped in a world that isn’t their own?

 

Sarah Curtis is a typical teenager who has already decided how she wants her life to be. A loving husband, family, and friends. No dark clouds on the horizon. She has no idea that fate has other ideas for her future.

Sad and confusing dreams have been haunting her, where she seems to be someone else entirely. A completely different girl with some terrible and disturbing problems.
Despite trying to dismiss them as silly dreams, they do seem to be important, as if they hold the secret to her future.

The dreams get more and more depressing and Sarah begins to worry that something in her life must be wrong, and when a child goes missing, her life begins to mirror her dreams.
Her aunt takes Sarah to Cornwall for a holiday, but her mind refuses to rest. Trouble seems to follow her there, and a car accident leads to surgery when a clot is discovered in Sarah’s brain. Could this be the cause of her nightmares?
But the dreams still torment her…

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Our Review of Parallel Lies by Georgia Rose @GeorgiaRoseBook

 

A woman with a hidden past. A new love on the horizon. Will the truth set her free or cost her everything?

Madeleine Ross has meticulously organized her world to leave no trace of her criminal past. After creating a new identity for herself, her only remaining connection to her previous life is the security work she does for a small-town insurance company. But when she starts falling for her handsome boss, Dan, she’s worried letting him in will expose secrets best kept locked away…

As their attraction grows stronger, Madeline’s attempts to keep Dan in the dark go horribly wrong when a dangerous ex emerges from her unsavory past. After her former flame gives her an offer she can’t refuse, she has one choice left: ditch her life as a thief to let Dan in or embrace her shady dealings to destroy her only shot at a happy future…

Parallel Lies is the first book in a fast-paced romantic suspense series. If you like troubled heroines, character-driven action, and powerful emotions, then you’ll love Georgia Rose’s thrilling novel.

Buy Parallel Lies to unlock a secret identity today!

  Our Review

Right from the beginning of what appears to be the idyllic story of  a woman’s life, you sense the ominous presence of a serious mystery seeping through the pages.

Maddy’s life seems perfect, but if you look closely you can see the joins. This is a woman with carefully guarded secrets. She is not what she pretends to be but gives nothing away. You sense how vitally important it is that it stays buried.

Slowly, almost teasingly, we start to learn the truth about Maddy. At first so proper, so delightfully independent, but as we begin to discover the truth, we find a very different woman. The more we find out, the more we know that what we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg. She confides with the reader with candid honesty about the life she has so carefully constructed, and why it had been necessary.

As the skeletons of her life begin to show, we discover more grubby secrets, all alluding to something or someone so terrifying, she once ran away from.

The tension mounts as the past threatens to ruin all her carefully constructed peace, and I desperately wanted Maddy to rid herself of her demons and find happiness at last, but it looked hopeless.

I really enjoyed reading Parallel Lies, a beautifully written mystery with more twists and turns than a rattlesnake. Maddy is not your typical heroine, she comes with all manner of faults and failings. Some you won’t approve of, but you will understand them.

About the Author

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Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. A short story, The Joker, based on a favourite character from the series followed and is free to download from Amazon.

Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, a standalone, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre.

Following a long stint working in the law Georgia set up her own business providing administration services for other companies which she does to this day managing to entwine that work along with her writing.

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her passion for people watching and her overactive imagination!

Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband and dog. Their son, currently at university, comes and goes and their daughter, having delighted them all for long enough, has eventually moved out, got married, and is discovering the joys of being all grown up and having a mortgage.

 

#Throwback Thursday for CrossFire #MysteryThriller by Jaye Marie

 

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DI David Snow has a serial killer to catch, a killer as mysterious as the crimes he commits. Snow is due to retire, but not before he discovers why someone killed his sergeant and is now coming after him.

The killer seems to have a personal vendetta against Snow, but he is determined that no one else should die because of him. His efforts are hampered by the arrival of a new sergeant, ‘ruthless’ Ruth Winton, for she is not what she seems. Alarm bells start to ring when Snow realises she is after more than just his job.

Book Excerpt:

‘Do you know why we have brought you here today, Ann?’

Ruth thought she would ease her way in, rather than accuse her straight off, for triggering any hostility wouldn’t get them anywhere.

The woman stared at Ruth, her pale, colourless eyes searching for clues. ‘Nah… but I ‘spect you’ll get to it pretty quick…’

Ruth indicated a brown paper bag on the table beside her. ‘We found a pair of work boots at your house, Ann. According to your husband, they’re not his. Are they yours?’

Ann Taylor glared at Ruth. She seemed to be enjoying the interview, her arrogance showing through the previous nervousness. ‘Dunno, can’t see them can I?’

Ruth undid the bag and placed the dirty boots on the table. Most of the mud had dried and fallen off, but still didn’t seem like the kind of boot a woman would wear. ‘Are these your boots, Ann?’

Without looking at the boots, she shook her head. ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’

Ruth looked at Snow, but not for confirmation. She wondered why he was choosing to stay silent. What was the point of sitting in if he wasn’t going to contribute? Not that she cared, one way or the other. She had only looked at him to signify inclusion.

She looked back at the woman. ‘Are you quite sure, Ann?’

The woman shrugged her shoulders and refused to speak.

‘For the benefit of the tape, Ann Taylor has refused to answer.’

Ruth decided to read out the coroner’s report, detailing every bruise and damage to the child’s body. When she read the part about the boot imprint on the child’s back, she slid the photograph across the table in front of the mother.

‘Did you do this, Ann?’

When the woman didn’t answer, Ruth decided it was time to play the ace card, and she looked forward to it. This cold-hearted bitch of a woman was about to be arrested, but not before Ruth had enjoyed herself. ‘Are you aware that the person who wore these boots would have left significant DNA inside them?’

Ruth paused, watching as the realisation sunk in.  ‘And are you also aware that we have tested your DNA and it has been proved that you are the owner of these boots?’

The fear and shame were beginning to show on the woman’s face, and Ruth watched, wondering what she would do now. She didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Ann Taylor’s face seemed to implode, as the terror of being found out took effect.  ‘I swear I don’t remember that part… I know I were angry, but when she fell over and banged her head, I thought she was dead…’

‘So what did you do then, Ann?’ Ruth knew what had happened next, but not which one of them had done it.  ‘Were you aware that Amy was still alive when you dropped her into the canal?’

The horror was all-encompassing, as the woman realised the enormity of what she had done. She looked around the room, just once, before she started screaming…


 

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

#TuesdayBookBlog ~ Our Review of Flotsam and Jetsam by Jim Webster @JimWebster #FantasyFiction

 

Benor arrives in Port Naain intent on the simple task of producing a handbook for merchants. Then there is a murder, and a vengeful family who will stop at nothing to silence those who found the body. Suddenly Benor’s life is no longer simple.

 

Our Review

I have read several of this author’s fascinating stories featuring the poet Tallis Steelyard, his wife Shena and all of his friends. I am always delighted and amazed at the quality of the writing and the accompanying artwork.

I was offered the opportunity to read Flotsam and Jetsam, the very first Tallis story and literally jumped at the chance.

All of Jim Webster’s Tallis stories are set in a different era and way of life. This one is unusual in that it is a complex murder mystery.

I never knew that Tallis and his wife lived on a boat in the beginning, but Tallis has always been a poet of some renown. Shena has a dubious job, one that might get her killed one day, and if you want to know why you must read the novella.

These unusual stories are exceedingly well written, complex and full of description, strange names and places, and colloquialisms from another time.

Every one delightfully different and a joy to read…


 

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Biography

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

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


Amazon Review

“Brilliant book, could not put it down. Will certainly look for more from this author,.

Tallis Steelyard strikes me as the kind of person who could charm the scales off a snake, or at least the kind of person who thinks he could. I found him highly entertaining, and very realistic – who among us hasn’t known someone with equal talents?

At any rate, Flotsam or Jetsam was a wonderful introduction to Port Naain and the world Tallis and his lovely wife Shena inhabit. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun to read; I’d have had it finished in an afternoon, except that my kids seemed to think I should feed them. It’s short enough to read in one sitting, but long enough to feel like a complete story, and it’s a good thing there are more stories to come from Port Naain and the colorful characters who inhabit that city because I’d love to pay the place another visit.”


 

#TuesdayBookBlog ~ Not My Life, by Anita Dawes #Fiction,YA

SOMEONE HAUNTS Sarah’s dreams, someone who looks just like her.

Her name is Kelly and her life is a nightmare.

Are these dreams a message for Sarah’s future, or a glimpse of Kelly’s past?

Or are they both trapped in a world that isn’t their own?


Excerpt from ‘Not My Life’

Their house seemed like any other house, without them in it.  As I walked around to the back door, I couldn’t believe my luck at finding the small side window in the hall was open a crack.  You had to get close to notice it.  The question was, could I climb in?  Did I still remember how?  It had been so long since I had climbed anything.  Looking around, there was no one in sight.  I found a milk crate, one big enough to give me the boost I needed.

Climbing through the small opening, which in a few more months would be impossible, I thought of Jimmy.  He would kill me if he found out, because of the baby.  Mother would simply kill me before dying of embarrassment.  Dad would probably hang his head in a dark corner of the pub and wonder where they had gone wrong.

Once inside, I looked around.  Curious as to what they thought was a normal home.  Mother had mentioned that Sally Woodford would be giving up work soon, as he didn’t want her continuing in the Bank, carrying heavy money bags around. I was surprised he hadn’t thought of a way for her to carry them home, judging by the video collection I was standing in front of. 

There were many old gangster movies; I recognised some of the titles.  I also found several ‘video nasty’s’.  There was ‘Spit on your grave’, ‘Silence of the lambs’ and ‘The Devils’, amongst others. No romance or comedy, nothing light-hearted.  I wondered if Sally watched them with him.  Did they sit here late at night, imagining themselves in the lead roles?

I would have liked to find the place covered in dust and cobwebs, but the house was clean and tidy. Downstairs, there was a faint odour, which gave me a funny taste in my mouth, but I put it down to what I felt about the house.

There was little in the way of ornaments, two cookbooks, an A-Z, and one large, heavy book on old English tortures. Complete with horrible pictures of the rack and other devices.  With details of exactly what happened to those unfortunate enough to fall foul of them.  Horrible things done with hot coals and pokers; it turned my stomach.  I knew I shouldn’t be looking at this disgusting stuff.  A history book or not, it should be burnt.

Making sure to leave everything as it was, I tried the front door and found it hadn’t been dead-bolted.  I couldn’t believe he had been so slap-dash, after telling my mother she was far too trusting.  Open windows and unlocked doors were an invitation to those less desirable.  That was me; I was undesirable.  I was in their home, their sanctuary, a place I shouldn’t be unless invited.

On the way back to my house, I felt decidedly odd and my legs were shaking. People passing by had me jumping out of my skin.  My heart was racing, adrenaline rushing, terrifying and exciting me all at the same time.  Do burglars feel this way, I wondered; when they sneak out with their ill-gotten gains?  Is that what makes them do it again?  For the feeling of excitement, as well as the family silver?

Hoping no one had seen me leave, I crept into my own house.  I couldn’t be sure, but I thought the neat curtains of the house opposite had twitched.  I could always say I had absent-mindedly walked through the wrong gate.

Our front door was unlocked as usual; something that had me wondering if my mother could ever change the habits of a lifetime.  I found her in the living room knitting baby things, all pale yellow and white. I could have told her to go ahead and buy blue wool.

I sat in the room with her, flicking through a magazine to the sound of clicking knitting needles, my mind unable to shake the images I had seen in his book.  One, in particular, stuck fast in my mind. It was a picture of a merry-go-round, a high wooden platform with cruel metal spikes.  How it was meant to be ridden was left to the reader’s imagination, but the poles protruding from the side of the platform allowed the men to rotate the device.  Several images of how it worked flashed through my mind. The caption underneath the picture read, ‘Round and round she goes, where she stops, no one knows.’

The magazine was open on my lap, but I had no idea how long I had been staring into space when mother said, ‘Penny for them, Sarah?’

As if I could tell her what I had done, what I had seen in that book?


 

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 30

 

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Beta Days!

 

We are constantly being told how important it is to have our work read by someone else before we publish. Even when our ego convinces us that our WIP doesn’t need this, that we have in fact, done a marvellous job!

My ego must be having time out, as I knew from the start that my current WIP, PayBack, needed a miracle or a beta read at the very least.

For so many reasons, PayBack was hard to write at times. This was the first time my writing confidence had faltered, and I worried about it a lot.

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PayBack is a crime thriller and I love writing them, even though creating all the twists and turns can test my brain to its limits. This time there were some unusual elements that I had never written about before, all of which threatened possible multiple pile ups and confusion if I allowed it to run amok.

Add to all that the miserable year I have had, what with my eyesight deteriorating and various other problems, it was a miracle I managed to write at all.

When I finally finished writing it, I knew it would need all the professional help I could afford. In this respect, I am lucky, for two books back I found myself a brilliant and reliable beta reader, Sara Maew from Fiverr.com and I think she is amazing.

I know that some of you recommend more than one beta reader or an editor, but even with the best will in the world, I cannot stretch my pension that far. Fiverr is very reasonable, and in my experience, Sara could easily command high prices for the work she does.

I am very confident in her abilities. She will find all my errors, plot holes, howlers and missing elements, and suggest ways to improve them. I also love that she includes praise for all the good bits!

The results of the beta read came in a twenty-page report and covered all the weak spots and errors. More dialogue was suggested, and the plot flow was far too erratic, but after reading this report, my confidence soared for I knew PayBack was fixable and would be a great read.

Criticism can be destructive, leaving both you and your book in a worse state than before, but Sara manages to fill me with such confidence, inspiring me to work on her suggestions to make PayBack not only perfect, but shining!

Next week, I hope to start the foundations for my marketing plan…

 

 

Streets Ahead Book Promotion- For Open a New Door by Robbie Cheadle and Kim Blades…

Streets Ahead is a book promotion idea created by Stevie Turner over on MeWe.com

This week is the turn of Robbie Cheadle and Kim Blades and their wonderful collection of poems…

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Open a New Door is a poetic peep into the lives of the poets, Kim Blades and Robbie Cheadle, both of whom live in South Africa.

The book is divided into four categories: God bless Africa, God bless my family and friends, God bless me and God bless corporates and work. Each part is sub-divided into the good, the bad and the ugly of the two poets’ experiences, presented in rhyming verse, free-style, haiku and tanka, in each of these categories and include colourful depictions of their thoughts and emotions.

The purpose of this book of poetry is encapsulated in the following tanka and haiku poems:
What drives me to write?
To share my innermost thoughts
The answer is clear
It’s my personal attempt
To make some sense of this world.

Inspiration blossoms
Like the unfurling petals
Of the Desert Rose

An Amazon Review for Open a New Door…

4.0 out of 5 stars
Realism dominates this poetry
‘Open a New Door’ by Kim Blades and Robbie Cheadle is a collection of poems, inspired from life in Africa and people who make it good, bad or ugly. All aspects are portrayed in a plausible manner.

Both Kim and Robbie have a similar style of writing blank verse, some of the themes too are identical. Realism is the hallmark of their poetry, as they talk about life and people in clear words; imagination takes a back seat. Deeply moved by poverty around her, Robbie has highlighted it in many poems. If ‘The Boys under the Bridge’ brings out the plight of the homeless youth, The Silver Lining underlines the uplifting spirits of a youngster carrying a load of recyclables with abandon, The Beggar’s Child mocks at the apathy of the passers-by but ‘The Golden Light’ focuses on helping the underprivileged children of a school in a squatter camp with books – a wonder gift for them.

Kim seems to be an ardent animal lover because many of her poems celebrate wild life and give a vivid description of how a cheetah hunts its prey, how mother cheetah nurtures her cubs, how a lion lies on golden grass, even her Utopia mentions “stamping buffalo.” Iconic South African birds too catch her attention to inspire a poem. The opening lines of ‘Lessons Learned in a rural village’ seem to be inspired from William Blake’s poem ‘The Little Black Boy.’

Some of the poems are too personal and comment on how life unfolds, offering unforgettable memories, moments of exhilaration and dismay, travails of a working mother and insecurities of an empty nest but they all make life worth living. Heaviness of this book would linger around you even when you finish and put it away. I enjoyed it.

 

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.

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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.

 

The Dying of the Light…

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The Dying of the Light

The trick is to avoid all the things she knows she cannot do anymore, but this is easier to do than keeping her hands out of the biscuit tin.

She is becoming an expert at ignoring the elephant in the room. She sees him, watching her with that wise knowing look in his eyes, but if she doesn’t acknowledge him or admit his presence to anyone, she can go on pretending that everything is fine.

Pretend that the painful, spiteful remarks don’t slice her soul to the bone, making her want to curl up and die in a corner, or scream louder than the pain, in an effort to keep her temper from overwhelming and drowning her.

Somehow, she maintains a humorous attitude, something she has carefully cultivated. Smiling at her tormentors, even laughing at their cruel jokes and the things they say. She has learned that to show the damage they do only increases their enjoyment at her distress.

She knows they are waiting for her to die, to be finally rid of her and the elephant in the room, the constant reminder that they too will grow old.

She must ignore them, for she cannot find the will or the strength to walk away from them. One of these days she hopes she will manage to summon some vestige of effort, before her time runs out. She dreams of spending her last days in peace and tranquillity, far from all the hatred and cruelty and the critical gaze of the large grey animal in the corner of the room…