Two new Tallis Steelyard stories… @JimWebster6

Today, it is our turn to tell you all about Jim Webster’s two new books!

We have always been a fan of his stories and we have been blessed with a new one, The Bait Digger, just for this post!

If any of you haven’t had the pleasure of Jim’s wonderful stories, now would be the time to start. You won’t be disappointed…

 

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The Bait Digger

It often surprises me how people manage to make a living in this city. Take, for example, Esmielle Parthong. She sells bait, both bait-balls and worms. The bait balls she makes herself. She uses a little old bread that she gets from a bakery for the cost of taking it away. This she moistens with a little water, and mixes in some old cheese rind that the grocer is left with. This is all chopped up with some fish guts if she has them, mixed well, then squeezed into small pellets and allowed to almost dry. Apparently, she has customers who swear by them. But mostly she sells worms. Thus we will see her down on the Old Esplanade most days, sometimes twice a day, depending upon the tide. The shore-combers accept her. Whilst she digs more deeply in pursuit of her worms than they do in their searches, she works methodically across the shore. Thus anybody can search ahead of her if they want. Thus it is generally felt that if she did find anything, nobody could claim that she had taken it out of their area by stealth.

Once she has dug her worms, she will take them to the fish market down off the far end of the Old Esplanade. She doesn’t have a stall there, she merely stands with two buckets, one with bait-balls, one containing worms. She will always appear to be in conversation with a stallholder so that the stewards might think she was a customer rather than a trader. How many of the stewards are fooled is a moot point. Still, I think most of them accepted she was trying to make a living on small margins and allowed themselves to be convinced by her act. Most of her customers are amateur fishermen, and she maintains a good name amongst them for the freshness of her bait. Indeed it was not unknown for a gentleman fisherman to send a maid or manservant down to the market to buy bait.  Later in the day, she will make her way round the city, dropping off orders she has from her regular clients.

If there is anything left over at the end of the day, she will drop it off what is left with a neighbour, Adlan Shack, who is a long-line fisherman. He always needs bait for his hooks. Most of the long-line folk use the guts of the fish they have just caught to bait the line, but Adlan always claims that a variety of bait produced a variety of fish. He never actually paid for the bait, but he always drops a couple of nice fish off for Esmielle and her two young daughters as payment. It has to be admitted that they eat a lot of fish. She managed to get her daughters into one of the cheaper dame schools. Again their fees were paid through barter. In the evenings, Esmielle does some carpentry. Her father was a carpenter. He taught her the basics of the trade and when he died, she inherited his tools. Thus to pay her daughter’s fees, she will go in and mend desks and chairs. She was married at one time. Her husband was a drunkard, and apparently, she threw him out when he wanted to sell her father’s tools to pay for drink. I met her because she knows my lady wife, Shena. But also if the tide is right, she will drop into the old dried grape and carpet warehouse which serves as a hall for the Society of Minor Poets and avail herself of our, ‘all day breakfast.’

Admittedly its normally just porridge made from whatever grain we can salvage but it is good ballast for time spent out on the estuary in all weathers. But perhaps more importantly she will come when we put on our entertainments, and will sit there, almost visibly absorbing poetry. It is obvious that she loves poetry, and indeed I have tried to get her to attend some of the small informal poetry societies I perform for. These are not wealthy people meeting in fine houses, instead they are normally just a handful of ladies gathered in one of their numbers’ kitchen. She would enjoy it, and they would like her, but she always claims she is too busy. Still I was chatting to her one day and was discussing her business. I confess that I am one of those people who just has to understand how these things work, (perhaps a legacy of my apprenticeship with Miser Mumster) and her business fascinated me. It seemed to work because she is a genuinely pleasant person, and this disarms people. I never met anybody who didn’t like her. Perhaps my interest got her to open up more than she usually did, because we got into a somewhat detailed discussion on various baits.

I asked why she didn’t offer a wider range. She thought for a while and then commented, “After my husband disappeared, I did offer maggots for a while, but frankly they are more trouble than they’re worth and the smell seems to linger everywhere.”

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And now a brief note from Jim Webster. It’s really just to inform you that
I’ve just published two more collections of stories.

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The first, available on kindle, is ‘Tallis Steelyard, preparing the ground,
and other stories.’
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0872GGLF9

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Meet a vengeful Lady Bountiful, an artist who smokes only the finest hallucinogenic
lichens, and wonder at the audacity of the rogue who attempts to drown a poet!

Indeed after reading this book you may never look at young boys and
their dogs, onions, lumberjacks or usurers in quite the same way again.
A book that plumbs the depths of degradation, from murder to folk dancing, from the theft of pastry cooks to the playing of a bladder pipe in public.

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The second, available on Kindle or as a paperback, is ‘Maljie. Just one
thing after another.’
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Maljie-Just-thing-after-another/dp/B0875JSJVM/
Once more Tallis Steelyard chronicles the life of Maljie, a lady of his acquaintance. Discover the wonders of the Hermeneutic Catherine Wheel,
marvel at the use of eye-watering quantities of hot spices. We have bell ringers, pop-up book shops, exploding sedan chairs, jobbing builders, literary criticism, horse theft and a revolutionary mob. We also discover what happens when a maiden, riding a white palfrey led by a dwarf, appears on the scene.

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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.

 

Tallis Steelyard Book Tour… Something of the Night by Jim Webster @JimWebster6

Today, it is our turn to host the next instalment of Tallis Steelyards incredible story.

We hope everyone is enjoying it as much as we are!

 

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Something of the night?

I suppose I ought to just call her Lotti, if only because that was the name she ‘worked’ under and inadvertently ended up with. I’m trying to be tactful here because I always liked Lotti, but it has to be admitted that her occupation was perhaps not the one her mother would have hoped she’d have gone into. There again as Lotti never knew her mother, we cannot be sure of that.

Lotti was a foundling and was raised in one of the foundling hospitals. No need to mention which one. They were good with her, taught her to read and write and trained her to be a lady’s maid.

Hence at the age of fourteen she went out into the world set on a new career. But alas it did not go well. There are houses to which you would send a fourteen year old girl, and there are houses you wouldn’t. And frankly there are houses where you would only burn them down when you could

guarantee you’d got the entire family and all the staff trapped inside. I will say no more.

Lotti left that house and desperately tried to make a living. Eventually, after trying any number of things, most of which didn’t last long, with employers who were more or less sordid but none who were what you might call decent, she decided she would have to take charge of her destiny.

Feeling that fate seemed to demand that she provide what we might call ‘erotic services’, she’d make damned sure she was properly paid for them.

Her knowledge of the houses of the apparently respectable had given her an insight into a market which she felt she could fulfil. Thus she set out her stall as ‘the naughty maid.’

Men of a certain age would hire her and send her as a birthday present to a friend, ensuring that his wife and family were out. ‘Gentlemen’ would even hire her themselves. She demanded payment in advance, cash only, and it was tucked away in an account with her usurer before she would ever cross her client’s threshold. Some looked down on her for it, but as she pointed out, how many innocent maids were left alone because she was there to provide the service?

The reason I knew her was that the foundling hospital had somehow instilled in her a genuine love of poetry. In her late teens she had many of the poems of the masters off by heart and she would occasionally come to the barge bringing a bottle of wine, a ham, or the makings of a meal. She’d dine with Shena and I and we’d talk poetry and the art of versifying.

Who knows how long she would have lived this existence, but then she made an error. She would get the client’s address and the money and she’d just knock on the door and be shown inside. Except on this occasion the address was slightly wrong. Obviously I’m not going to tell you what the address was, but they’d got the numbers the wrong way round. So Lotti knocked on the door of the wrong house, if memory serves it was number fourteen rather than forty-one.

What made things more interesting was that in this house they’d just hired a new maid from an agency and were expecting her. When Lotti turned up wearing a perfectly respectable maid’s outfit (we shall not mention the somewhat ‘unusual’ underwear), they just assumed she was the new girl. As an aside I’ve often wondered what happened to the girl who was supposed to turn up, did she make the opposite mistake and arrive by accident in the house where they were expecting Lotti? Frankly I don’t know and I long ago decided not to find out.

So when Lotti arrived, she was welcomed by the housekeeper, which was unusual, introduced to other staff, which came as something of a surprise to her, and was then introduced to the Mistress herself. This had never happened before. Lotti inquired, cautiously, about the master of the house, but the Mistress informed her, somewhat sadly, that she was a widow. She welcomed Lotti to her household, hoped she’d be very happy, and the housekeeper then showed Lotti her room and instructed her in her duties.

That night, in her solitary bed in a small room she had to herself, Lotti lay there and pondered the situation. She had been trained to be a lady’s maid, so she could do the job. She pondered her previous employment but eventually decided that she would try this new life.

Over the next few weeks she got to know the others in the household and they got to know her. Both the Mistress and her housekeeper were impressed; Lotti threw herself into the job. Yes there were areas where she was rusty, but when a maid moves from one household to another, there is always a period of transition when she learns the new way of doing things.

On top of that Lotti is, in reality, a nice person with a captivating smile and a genuine willingness to help. Her past had made her wary, but it had not yet made her bitter. As they got to know her, they made use of her strengths. Her ability to be absolutely formally correct in the presence of gentlemen (originally a necessary part of the game she was paid for) meant that her employer let her pay off tradesmen.

Time passed, Lotti became an accepted part of the household, and one morning she woke to the realisation that she was happy.

It was about then that Julatine Sypent, a recognised artist, was invited into the house to paint the Mistress. Apparently her various offspring wanted a portrait of her, and so, under protest, she’d agreed. During the course of the process, which consisted of a number of sittings over a period of weeks, Lotti, as lady’s maid, was the one who fetched Julatine his cup of infusion, offered round the sweet biscuits and generally was on hand should her Mistress need her.

Julatine was utterly smitten with her. One afternoon when she was out of the room he begged Mistress to be allowed to paint Lotti as well. Mistress agreed, even though she was wise enough to realise she might be about to lose a good lady’s maid. So with one portrait done, Julatine started on the second. Now it has to be realised that Lotti wasn’t going to be an easy victim of a painter’s charm. But Julatine was lucky. He’d long realised that a painter has to entertain the person he is painting. The last thing you want is somebody sitting there listless and bored. So he quoted poetry as he painted. Once he realised she loved poetry, he brought in books of it, he ransacked the libraries of friends for books to lend her. Eventually, the painting finished, he leaned back and looked at it thoughtfully.

A little nervously Lotti asked, “Is it all right?”

“Yes, I think it’s about finished.”

“Can I look at it now?”

As she stood up to see it Julatine said sternly, “There’s just one thing that has to be done before it’s fit for viewing.”

A little concerned Lotti asked, “What’s that?”

“You have to agree to marry me.”

She always said she wasn’t likely to get a better offer.

 

And the hard sell!

So welcome back to Port Naain. This blog tour is to celebrate the genius of Tallis Steelyard, and to promote two novella length collections of his tales.

 

So meet Tallis Steelyard, the jobbing poet from the city of Port Naain. This great city is situated on the fringes of the Land of the Three Seas. Tallis makes his living as a poet, living with his wife, Shena, on a barge tied to a wharf in the Paraeba estuary. Tallis scrapes a meagre living giving poetry readings, acting as a master of ceremonies, and helping his patrons run their soirees.

These are his stories, the anecdotes of somebody who knows Port Naain and

its denizens like nobody else. With Tallis as a guide you’ll meet petty

criminals and criminals so wealthy they’ve become respectable. You’ll meet musicians, dark mages, condottieri and street children. All human life is here, and perhaps even a little more.

 

Firstly;-

Tallis Steelyard, Deep waters, and other stories.

 

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard.

Discover the damage done by the Bucolic poets, wonder at the commode of Falan Birling, and read the tales better not told. We have squid wrestling, ladywriters, and occasions when it probably wasn’t Tallis’s fault. He even asks the great question, who are the innocent anyway?

 

And then there is;-

Tallis Steelyard. Playing the game, and other stories.

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard.

Marvel at the delicate sensitivities of an assassin, wonder at the unexpected revolt of Callin Dorg. Beware of the dangers of fine dining, and of a Lady in red.

 

Tomorrow, the next episode is at https://rivrvlogr.wordpress.com…

See you there!

Tallis Steelyard: Six Men in a Boat #ScienceFiction&Fantasy @JimWebster6

Joining us here today, is everyone’s favourite story teller, Jim Webster.

The famous Tallis Steelyard has a new adventure that we all want to read!

Over to you, Jim…

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Instead of his usual collection of anecdotes, this time Tallis presents us with a gripping adventure.

Why is Tallis ‘run out of town’ by hired ruffians?

Why does a very sensible young woman want his company when plunging into unknown danger?

Who or what was buried in the catacombs? And why has there been so much interest in making sure they stay dead? Also featuring flower arranging, life on the river, and a mule of notable erudition.

Amazing what you learn as you grow older.

Meirdre, the oldest daughter of Garrat and Taffetia Drane was, by common agreement, a precocious child. After all, at the age of six, she was a full partner in ‘Peepers and Narks’, investigators of choice to the leading Port Naain legal partnership of Thallawell, Thallawell, and Thallawell.

Now, this might have been regarded by most as something of a formality, and to be fair, for the first three or four months it probably was. But her parents didn’t want to see their child cheated by older partners, and so they looked for ways in which their daughter could become more ‘hands on.’ Inspiration came when Garrat was reading a report written by one of the many peepers who worked for the partnership on a casual basis. He commented to his lady wife that a child of six would be expected to have better grammar and spelling. Taffetia, who was in point of fact quite proud of the education she had been giving her children, agreed entirely with her husband’s sentiments.

(I will pause here to discuss in brief the fact that some cynics have intimated that this entire agreement on the behalf of a wife to her husband’s comments is surely exclusive enough on its own to make this story worthy of recording. I merely state that it is not a unique occasion, several times my own wife has agreed entirely with something I’ve said. Admittedly, a number of these occasions will be when I restricted myself to ‘Yes Dear’ but by no means all.)

Still, parental agreement within the Drane household meant that before the age of seven, Meirdre was reading every report made to ‘Peepers and Narks’ by their operatives, and was correcting grammar and spelling. A couple of years later she started to do the same to those reports that the partnership sent on to their clients. In the course of this, she discovered that because she had read and scrutinised every statement coming in, she often had a better grasp of the situation than the other two partners. Thus, she started writing the final reports rather than merely editing them for grammar and spelling.

If this seems a lot for a girl of her age, remember that at this point she was also working as a wailer. This role she fulfilled entirely competently but was beginning to get in the way of her new profession. With little hesitation, she turned her back on it and concentrated entirely on office management. To be fair her partners were perfectly happy to leave the paperwork to her. They moved to supervising the fieldwork whilst Meirdre ran the office. This worked well; Dagly Ween had been considered one of the best peepers in the business. At the same time the other partner, Mirabelle Sobent, was the leading female ‘arm and a leg’ man in Port Naain. Whilst it’s unlikely that anybody actually boasted that they’d taken a punishment beating from Mirabelle Sobent, she was known for dispassionate efficiency. Word got round the business community, if you want somebody beaten up for asking difficult questions, poaching your staff, or stealing your ideas (or complaining when you steal theirs) then Thallawell, Thallawell, and Thallawell know the best people.

Yet a note Meirdre might get from a nark would often need action to be taken immediately. So inevitably, she drifted into management. By the time she was fourteen, she was regularly sending out instructions to peepers or arm and leg men, stating what action she wanted taken. Still, ever courteous, she made sure her partners would get a copy of the note to keep them in the picture. As her partners grew older, more and more of the work fell upon her shoulders until finally, she bought them out. Now in sole charge at last, she could run the business as she felt it ought to be run. She expanded the organisation’s operations into Partann searching for both economic and political information which could be sold to better paying markets than a lawyer’s practice. Closer to home, her long familiarity with the Port Naain criminal classes gave her a lot of information on the city’s politics and politicians. Slowly she began to gather more evidence and built up her files. By the time she was thirty-five she quietly dominated the city’s politics. Politicians relied upon her for information about what was happening both inside and outside the city.

Indeed she was being actively courted by four Sinecurists and it was widely expected that when she married she would become the richest and most influential lady in the city. Fate took a hand as her carriage, taking her to a ball, collided with a cart loaded with mott carcasses. She got out and fell into conversation with the driver of the cart. He was firm but courteous; her coachman had been too free with the whip which had left the horses jittery. Thus when they’d come round the corner and met his cart they’d panicked. She could see the correctness of his analysis and instructed her coachmen and postilion to load the contents of the cart into her coach. Meirdre and the driver of the cart, (now revealed to be the farmer who had fattened the mott whose carcasses were being transhipped,) then left the postilion to ensure that the cart and ponies were looked after whilst the coach made its way down the ropewalk to Bolidad and Offspring, butchers to the gentry. As the coach was unloaded, Meirdre and the mott farmer were in deep conversation, so deep that she dismissed the coach and the two of them sat drinking coffee in Slybooks. Two weeks later, to the surprise of the city in general, Meirdre married her mott farmer and went north to live with him on a pleasant enough holding perhaps thirty miles from the city. They live in a house with three books, and two of them are about mott husbandry. The height of their social calendar is the day they provide the young mott for the village fete’s ‘catch the greasy mott’ competition. And now the hard sell!

OK so perhaps the not so hard sell. It’s just that this is part of a blog tour which is peering into the lives of Garrat Drane, and his lady wife Taffetia Drane. Now we are meeting their various offspring, delightful people and pillars of the community. Or perhaps not. But still now is your chance to meet them and inadvertently you may discover their importance to our hero, Tallis Steelyard.

But actually, the purpose of this blog is to draw your attention to the fact that a new book has been published. ‘Tallis Steelyard: Six men in a boat.’ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-Six-men-boat-ebook/dp/B07JPKYJJN

Rather than a collection of his anecdotes, this is indeed an ‘adventure’ as Tallis ventures forth from the city of Port Naain. Questions are asked that may even be answered, why is Tallis ‘run out of town’ by hired ruffians? Why does a very sensible young woman want his company when plunging into unknown danger? Who or what was buried in the catacombs? And why has there been so much interest in making sure they stay dead? Also featuring flower arranging, life on the river, and a mule of notable erudition.

Treat yourself; you know you’re worth it…

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

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

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

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

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

Our Review

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

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

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

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

 

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Lady Edan’s Fan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biography

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

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