A Fear Of Heights by Jim Webster #BlogTour

That extremely talented Jim Webster has another release coming up, and has kindly written a story for us here on But I Smile Anyway!

Smallfield, Frederick; The Ringers of Launcells Tower; Royal Institution of Cornwall; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-ringers-of-launcells-tower-14469

The Bells!

I have mentioned before that here at the Shrine of Aea in her Aspect as the
Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm we have had trouble with bell
ringers. Once you are known to have bells, bell ringers will descend on you
from all over the place, desperate to play a ‘new peal’. If you are not firm
you can be overrun with them. Now I wouldn’t personally describe them as
‘vermin’ but in all candour I have known some use stronger terms. Especially
when kept awake at night by an attempt to play out a full peal with all the
I am not sure how other shrines manage the problem. There are doubtless many
winning strategies, but my suspicion is that all will revolve around the
need to ‘domesticate’ the bell ringers you have. ‘Your’ bell ringers appear
to adopt a possessive attitude to ‘their’ bells, and will work to control
interlopers. The most important person in this regard can go under a number
of names. I’ve come across Tower Captains, Ringing Masters, and Tower
Leaders. If you get a good one, cherish them.
Now I cannot judge this select few from the point of view of an ordinary
bell ringer. Similarly I have no opinion on how they maintain order in their
campanological swarm. I have heard rumours that some achieve their position
of dominance through divide and rule. They maintain order by playing various
cliques against each other, achieving harmony through division. Others I
have seen strike me as avuncular types. By being everybody’s favourite
uncle, aunt, or kin of similar standing, they keep their musicians in order.
This can involve keeping their bell ringers fortified with everything from
strong liquor through to cake. Whether one is more effective than the other
I cannot really comment although it has been pointed out to me that the camp
of bell ringers fortified with strong drink tends to pull with more vigour
than niceness of timing and the results are discernible to the cognoscenti.
On the other hand I’ve even heard of Tower Captains who rule through fear,
maintaining the firmest discipline and perfect order.
Yet, between ourselves, when one hears the mathematically wrought cacophony
produced, even the most discerning listener struggles to tell the difference
between the differing leadership styles.
Now lest people think that I am disparaging campanology, I will state that I
rather like the sound of bells. As I sit in thought on the barge, pondering
a verse, the sound of a distant peal can even be helpful. Ringing out across
the city in a measured manner it weaves music into the very fabric of the
municipality. I am not too proud to state that the bells have, on occasion,
inspired some of my finer verse.
So my advice to the temple wardens of other shrines that happen to possess
bells is to find a competent Tower Captain who you can work with, and
domesticate them. Admittedly this domestication is an uncertain process.
I’ve known temple wardens who approached the matter methodically. They felt
you had to use both carrot and stick. I know in one case where the tower
captain and his camp of ringers were asked to play for a wedding. Apparently
the bride felt it would be romantic. To be fair to the young lady in
question, up unto a point, she was right. The point was when it became
obvious that to the ringers, their appointment to ring to introduce a
touching service lasting barely half an hour, was merely an excuse to ring a
full peal lasting at least three hours. In this case, a nameless lady temple
warden handed the bride’s mother a horse whip, opened the door to the
ringing loft and let the furious lady have at them. Apparently she cleared
the loft in less than a minute, and was greeted with a standing ovation from
the wedding guests when she returned to her seat.
But it is often said that wild creatures are better tamed with kindness. It
could well be that the truculent demeanour of the senior temple warden
induces a healthy respect within the camp. Should another temple warden then
make positive comments, arrange for bottles of beer of dubious provenance to
be provided to quench the thirst of the ringers, and generally become their
friend, there appear to be no limits to the cooperation that can be
achieved. In all honesty it has occurred to me that this is why shrines have
even numbers of temple wardens. It allows you to have both the cantankerous
grouch and the genial acquaintance on hand and you can deploy whichever
seems appropriate.
But once you have domesticated your tower captain, then cherish them. Do
not, under any circumstances, have anything to do with the lesser lights
within the camp. Otherwise you will get drawn in to all sorts of internecine
strife and conflict as factions rise and fall and attempt to bring down the
tower captain in the process. I well remember when one bell ringer, aspiring
to displace her tower captain by guile, told Maljie that it had been decided
to change the practice night. Maljie merely looked at her and commented that
she was used to discussing policy with the organ grinder, not some small and
only sporadically continent ape kept to please the crowd.
Now it may be that you lack Maljie’s personal presence. This is not to be
wondered at. Reputations have to be built up over the years, nurtured like
some delicate potted plant. But even Maljie had to start somewhere, even if
none of us are quite sure when. So when dealing with bell ringers (or other
wandering undesirables such as archhierophants or those creatures who dwell
deep in the property department of the Office of the Combined Hierophants of
Aea) decide on your approach and stick to it. In forty years’ time you will
thank me. 
Still I seem to have drifted from the topic. Cherishing your tower captain.
The problem with these otherwise splendid figures is that they lack
permanence. Whether they are overthrown and devoured by their camp, abscond
with the funds or flee in the arms of a lover (I confess I’ve never really
understood that latter allusion. Surely you must flee faster if not
embracing? Or perhaps you hand the technicalities of flight over to your
coachman and thus embrace in the coach as it hurtles through the night?) you
will lose one captain and will be forced to acquire another.
My personal preference is to allow the camp to bring forward a leader from
within their ranks. But beware, out there in the dark there are ‘tower
leaders’ who lack both tower and camp. They are drawn inexorably to a tower
with no tower leader and will attempt to inveigle themselves into a position
of control. Under these circumstances there is no point in being avuncular,
reasonable or open to discussion.
For the lesser temple warden there is only one recourse. Memorise the line,
“Ah, but you don’t want to talk to me, you need to discuss this matter with
the incumbent.”
That is all you need to say.
Now when it comes to the incumbent, they too have no need to worry about
these matters. They merely need to say, “Ah, that’s a temple warden matter.
You need to take it up with Maljie.”
At the last count, of four who were directed to Maljie, three abandoned
their quest then and there. With regard to the fourth, there are mendicants
who are willing to swear in a court of law that they saw that individual
leave the shrine carrying his head under his arm.

And now a brief note from Jim Webster. It’s really just to inform you that
I’ve just published a full Tallis Steelyard novel. Yes the rumours are true.
Tallis Steelyard, the man who considered jotting down a couple of anecdotes
to be ridiculously hard work, and considered the novella form to be the very
pinnacle of literary labour, has been cozened into producing a novel.

It is, ‘Tallis Steelyard. A Fear of Heights.’

In this novel, recounted by Tallis Steelyard in his own inimitable manner,
we discover what happens when the hierarchy plots to take control of the
Shrine to Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm.
Will the incumbent be exiled to a minor fane in the far north? Will Tallis
end up having to do a proper job? Does ordination and elevation beckon for
This story includes the Idiosyncratic Diaconate, night soil carts,
Partannese bandit chieftains, a stylite, a large dog and some over-spiced
food. On top of this we have not one but two Autocephalous Patriarchs and a
theologically sanctioned beggar.

Available both for kindle and in Paperback.

The Little Ice Cream Shop By The Sea by @Lizzie_Chantree #BlogTour

I am delighted to welcome the very talented, and generally very lovely Lizzie Chantree to my blog today, to introduce her new book, releasing tomorrow!

Over to you, Lizzie!

Why did you choose the setting you chose and do the locations hold any real life significance to you?I chose this setting because I’m from Essex and the coastline is beautiful here. I’ve always wanted to write a local story and I was sitting in a little cafe by the sea, when an elderly lady came in, sat down and began crying. The young waitress rushed up to comfort her and they spoke for quite a while. After the lady left the waitress told me they had only just met, which it made me think about the kindness of strangers. The cafe I was in was beautiful and had been family owned for generations. I wondered what would happen if they all fell into a state of disrepair and a story grew from there. The little ice cream shop by the sea is about unexpected friendships through the generations and how family heritage can sometimes mean more to some than others.
This story has a bankrupt celebrity chef in it who flies in to protect his grandmother. What made you think of this character?
Cal has had such success but overstretched his business and his world collapsed around him, so he’s been hiding and licking his wounds. Hearing about the ice cream shop owner, Genie, and her new friendship with his grandmother, he decides that Genie must be after his family money and rushes to protect his grandmother, Ada. He doesn’t realise that a few of his actions make the cracks in Genie’s relationship with her own parents even deeper and he uncovers a family secret he really wishes he hadn’t. 


From the international bestselling author of If you love me, I’m yours, Ninja School
Mum and Babe Driven.
Genie’s family is in crisis. Their seafront business is failing with the loss of Genie’s
grandmother and her legendary ice cream flavours. Genie is determined to be the one to save
her family’s heritage, but suddenly her mother wants to sell to developers and leave their shared
history behind.
Buying the business and taking on a sixty-eight year old business partner, Ada, with a
mysterious past and a gorgeous but distracting grandson, Genie sets out to prove her parents
Ada’s grandson, Cal, wants to protect his gran from ‘pensioner persuader’, Genie, but soon
realises that living in a little seaside town and away from the paparazzi in Hollywood can actually
give him time to heal. Hiding in a seafront business with its fiery owner and working as kitchen
staff, is the only way he can think of to keep his ex-Hollywood glamour-puss, gran from harm.
But his meddling might also ruin Ada’s second chance at love. 
Hiring a private detective and learning about Genie’s parent’s past makes Cal regret his own
impulsiveness. The information he has unearthed could destroy their blossoming romance and
turn Genie’s world upside down.
Genie soon discovers that friends can become enemies and your closest family can have lied to
you for your whole life.

Book links: Lizzie Chantree.

Universal book buy link for The little ice cream shop: viewbook.at/IceCreamShopByTheSea

Universal book buy link: Networking for writers: viewbook.at/NetworkingForWriters

Universal book buy link: If you love me, I’m yours: viewbook.at/IfYouLoveMe-ImYours

Universal book buy link: Ninja School Mum: viewBook.at/NinjaSchoolMum

Universal book buy link: Babe Driven: viewbook.at/BabeDriven

Universal book buy link: Love’s Child: viewBook.at/Amazon-LovesChild

Universal book buy link: Finding Gina: viewbook.at/FindingGina

International bestselling author Lizzie Chantree, started her own business
at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent
Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year. She writes books full of
friendship and laughter, about women with unusual businesses, who are
stronger than they realise.

Social media links:

Website: www.lizziechantree.com

Author page: https://www.viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LizzieChantree/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7391757.Lizzie_Chantree

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LizzieChantree/pins/

FB Groups: https://www.facebook.com/groups/647115202160536/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lizzie-chantree

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizzie-chantree-03006425/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCop-RlAcGqggZG3JfE-Mw

Secrets In The Snow by Emma Heatherington @emmalou13 @fictionpubteam #BlogTour

I was honoured to be asked to take part in the blog tour for Emma Hetherington’s new release, Secrets In The Snow.

Here’s the blurb:

Perfect for fans of Karen Swan and Lulu Taylor!

As the winter snow falls on the small Irish village of Ballybray, Roisin O’Connor and her young son, Ben, are saying goodbye to their beloved neighbour Mabel Murphy.  Mabel lived a bold and colourful life, but the arrival of her brooding nephew, ‘blow-in’ Aidan Murphy, just makes life more complicated for Roisin.

However, in one final act of love, a message arrives from Mabel that changes everything.  And as winter turns to spring and the cold snow melts, the secrets both Roisin and Aidan are hiding must be revealed at last…

Available to purchase here – http://smarturl.it/SecretsInTheSnowPBO…

My review:


Roisin has had a rough ride in life, bouncing from foster carer to foster carer, before entering into an abusive marriage.
Through a welcome tragedy, she finds herself widowed and wants to make a fresh start for her and her son, Ben.
A pin in a map lands her in a tiny village called Ballybray in Ireland, and it couldn't be more different from her upbringing in the city of Dublin.
Once there, she finds that she has an interfering neighbour, Mabel Murphy, an elderly widow, with a New York twang, who refuses to believe that this young woman would prefer to be alone.
What develops between them, is a friendship stronger than most, more akin to family.
Life is idyllic, almost, until Mabel gets ill and passes away.
But this meddling neighbour isn't finished with her work to make sure Roisin lives her life to the fullest.
Somehow, from beyond the grave, she's arranged for some messages, specifically for Roisin, and Aidan, Mabel's nephew, who has been in the US for the last fourteen years, and only comes back to Ballybray to attend the funeral and sell off her property.
What follows, in the story, is the impact of the messages that Mabel sends, seasonally, for these two lost souls, over the course of a year, and how the words of a soul long gone, can still have a positive effect on the lives of those left behind.
I truly enjoyed this book. Wonderful characters. Everyone needs a Mabel Murphy in their lives.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Written by the amazing Emma Heatherington.

Emma Heatherington is a bestselling author from Donaghmore, County Tyrone.
Her novels include the Amazon UK Top 10 bestseller and Amazon US hit, The Legacy of Lucy Harte, and A Part of Me and You, which reached the USA Kindle Top 100 and the UK Top 40.
Her latest novel, A Miracle on Hope Street is a heartwarming Christmas themed story of love, kindness and friendship.
As well as novels, Emma has written scripts for over 70 educational short films and plays and was ghostwriter for country legend Philomena Begley on her autobiography, My Life My Music My Memories (The O’Brien Press, 2017) and Nathan Carter’s life story, Born For The Road (Penguin Ireland) which was shortlisted for the An Póst Irish Book Awards 2018.
She also regularly contributes to the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life newspapers and has appeared on chat shows on RTE, TV3 and UTV.
Emma is a mum of five, aged from 23 to 4 years old and her partner is Irish artist and singer/songwriter Jim McKee.

The Sincerest Form Of Poetry by @geofflepard #BlogTour

Today I am thrilled to be able to host my dear blogging pal, His Geoffleship, aka Geoff Le Pard, on my blog, as he introduces his amazing new poetry collection, The Sincerest Form of Poetry.

C:\Users\Geoff\Pictures\Sincerest Form Poetry_KDP Cover.jpg

And here’s the Blurb:

All of life in one easy couplet

To write poetry I need inspiration. Often that comes from my appreciation of the craftsmanship of other, better poets, whose skills I aspire to emulate. For this anthology, I have chosen two such sources: in part one, the search for Britain’s favourite poem led to the publication of the top 100 and I have used a number of these to craft my own take on those beautiful and inspirational works; in part two, my love of the sonnet form, fostered by
reading Shakespeare’s gems has provided a selection covering many topics and themes. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them.

If you know of our dear Geoffles, already, you’ll be aware of his writing talent, having released several novels, and short story anthologies, already, and who can forget his short stories and flash fiction pieces on his blog? (I wonder where his mind wanders, sometimes…) Check it all out on his blog, here!

Here’s us, sharing a special moment at the ABBA’s in 2017!
And again in 2019, at the ABBA’s!

Anywho… I asked Geoff to choose a particularly poignant poem from his new anthology, along with a reason for why he selected that particular verse, and this is what he came up with.

Over to you, His Geoffleship!

The Hand That Guides
Your consoling hand sits light on my sleeve,
A confident tap to release me on four;
We set sail, in step, gliding with ease
Past blind spots and missteps strewn on the floor.
I fumble to catch that elusive toe-tap
Which, if I could, would allow me my head.
You remind me, by way of a quick finger snap,
Of the dangers where taking that path might lead.
I continually try to do it my way,
To give into weakness of flesh and of soul
But you hold my love tight; I cannot stray
And we remain linked; two parts of one whole.
May it always be thus as we gib and we tack;
Both looking forward, your hand at my back.

I wanted to write a poem to my fabulous wife, a thank you really for being in the right placeat the right time for us to meet and to give in (a bit too easily maybe) to my blandishments.
And because it was to be a love poem, it just had to be a sonnet.
But then again the sonnet is just 14 lines; how do you capture that essence?
When I wrote this we had been married 30 years and together for nearer 40. We had many pleasures we enjoyed together (stop sniggering at the back, this is serious) and many which were our own. One that was ours and not really anyone else’s was our love of dancing.
Weekly we’d take a lesson and gradually improve our waltz or cha cha cha, laughing, learning, loving. It’s both an intimate thing and a selfish skill that must be employed to gain the most enjoyment. And maybe more than any other it is a team exercise. Of course, we work as a team, in harness emotionally and familially, but this is a physical team at work and
possibly unique for all that in our relationship. So using our dancing experiences as the kernel for the metaphor of what makes us work as a team in all situations became the base for my poem.
When we dance there are two very specific parts of the process where each of us brings an extra skill to the party. I’ve never found it difficult to learn the steps, to understand the dynamics of the turns, the angles we need to achieve, the moments of longeur and the times when speed is essential; she understands the music, the rhythms and pacing, knowing if my
inclination to focus on the mechanics is taking us away from the music. And as a metaphor for our marriage that’s true too. I’m the obviously dynamic one, the one up front loud and excited. And she allows me my head until… until my enthusiasm and need to get things done, to get on with things begins to challenge the overall plan. Ironically, because in a car we
undertake the opposite roles often, but in life I tend to drive and she to map read.
And together we make the steps, keep on the beat and move forward, two gliding as one.

Perhaps the one essential I didn’t capture here is our shared laughter; the critical piece, the glue, the cheese in the sarnie, the oil in the dressing. But then again, I rather hope some of the imagery will make the reader smile and that will do nicely.

Thank you, so much for that heartfelt piece, His Geoffleship!

Now, I was lucky enough to read the book in advance, and let me tell you, it’s a great little read! I giggled at his ‘amendments’ to ssome classics, in Part One, and ‘Please, Mrs Patterson’, really resonated with me, as a teacher! ‘We’re All Santas Now’, had me laughing out loud, garnering some funny looks from my son! Part two is filled with sonnets that are truly Geoffled, as in, his own, not some tweaked versions, ranging from covering some serious issues, to humorous, as well as cricket, for which I know His Geoffleship has a special love! A wonderful read which can be devoured in one sitting, or savoured at pleasure, picking up the book to read snippets of rhyme and cadence at your will. Loved it!

More about Geoff LePard

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.




Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.




In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.

C:\Users\Geoff\Pictures\Sven Andersen  KDP Cover 1.jpg



The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself? 

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Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015.




Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves. 




Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?

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Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for age.




Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.



Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.



When Martin suggests to Pete and Chris that they spend a week walking, the Cotswolds Way, ostensibly it’s to help Chris overcome the loss of his wife, Diane. Each of them, though, has their own agenda and, as the week progresses, cracks in their friendship widen with unseen and horrifying consequences.

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Famous poets reimagined, sonnets of all kinds, this poerty selection has something for all tastes, from the funny, to the poignant to the thought-provoking and always written with love and passion.

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Find Geoff Le Pard at these places:

Website/blog: https://geofflepard.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/geoff.lepard

Amazon: Amazon Author Page

I Have Been Podcasted!

It gives me great pleasure to let you know that I have been featured on a wonderful podcast, Great Writers Share!


I was honoured to be asked on as a guest, and I hope you have the time to listen.

GWS #53 – Ritu Bhathal

Hello everybody! This week I got to sit down with chick pea lit author Ritu Bhathal!

In this episode we go deep into:

  • • Where Ritu’s journey began
  • • How life can prioritize over writing
  • • Starting a blog on a whim without a plan
  • • Indian family customs
  • • How writing groups and accountability can help lift you up and keep you on track
  • • Publishing Poetry vs a Novel
  • • How having a support system is instrumental in the writing process
  • • Stationary and her vast collection of brush pens
  • • Being realistic when it comes to balancing everyday life and getting words written
  • • What her writing advice is for new writers

Listen now: https://pod.link/1473869415

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