Jim Webster Has TWO New Books! #BookTour

Hello all!

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I am delighted to (re)introduce, my dear blog and fellow writer pal, Jim Webster, with news of not one, but two new books! And he has been kind enough to share a short story too!

Those of you who are familiar with Jim and his Talli Steelyard series, will be thrilled, and if you haven’t got in to them yet, well, now is a perfect time!

Without further ado, let me get Jim on the line, with a short story titled Remarkably Sharp. This is the picture that inspired it.

Remarkably Sharp
One or two of my patrons are ladies who are quite handy with a cutting
remark. Perhaps I should rephrase this. I suppose most of my patrons are
adept in this field, but some have, through long practice, mastered the art.
But every so often one comes across somebody who can be cutting and witty.
Although she is not a ‘professional wit’ (by which I mean one who is invited
to events purely because those inviting her hope she will deliver some
devastating put-down to a victim included in the guest list purely for the
purpose) Andei Addlespur was cutting in more ways than one. She was not
merely taught fencing, she was a master swordsman.
Let us deal with the ‘master swordsman’ first. There are few, of any gender,
who are recognised in Port Naain as having achieved this level of
excellence. Examination is entirely practical, you are expected to fight for
your ‘crown’. All bouts are against known experts and all are to first
blood, fought without armour. Injuries are neither unknown nor unexpected.
For the final bout the prospective master is matched against an Urlan,
trained from birth to be a soldier and a warrior. The candidate is not
expected to defeat the Urlan, (although some do) but must impress them with their skill.
As you can imagine, new masters are not created every decade, never mind
every year, and Andei was, for many years, the youngest. Indeed at the time, it was her youth, not her gender, which was held to be remarkable.
There were some who were prepared to quibble about the wording of the
designation. When she was awarded the title it was registered with the
Council of Sinecurists. A clerk wrote back, querying whether a lady could be ‘master’ and swords’man’ and was there was another equivalent title.
Old Toldan, the oldest of the surviving Masters, and hence in some ways
their spokesman was not impressed. I was fortunate enough to be asked to pen the letter he sent, (he wanted it written in a better hand than he could
manage) and the words I can remember still. “I care not whether our new
Master stands or sits when they visit the jakes. We have assessed their
skill with the sword and they have reached a standard where, frankly, they
can call themselves whatever they damned well like. There are probably not six people in the city with the ability to query their decision. But if you
are not happy with the situation, take up your blade and have it out with
her in person.”
Personally I felt rather sorry for the clerk who was probably just checking
that the terminology was right, lest they inadvertently offend.
Still, like the other masters, she tended to support herself through
teaching, and whilst Andei would consider anybody as a pupil, she did tend
to teach women. This led her into many complicated situations. There are any number of reasons why a lady might learn to fence, and take lessons.
The first is a genuine love of the art, allied to a desire to be able to
both defend herself, and to maintain a level of fitness. These ladies tend
to gravitate to Andei because she is a good teacher, and has a reputation
for being gentle with beginners. This latter quality is unusual, many
masters are brusque with beginners, feeling that they are casting their
treasure before the dogs. Most masters prefer to take competent pupils who
have reached a good standard but who can then be stretched and pushed until they’ve achieved the best they can.
The second reason why a lady may wish to learn to fence is that she has
conceived a desire for the fencing master rather than the art. There are any
number of ‘fencing teachers’ who have stepped forward to gratify this group.
The problem with these ‘fencing teachers’ is that they don’t have to be very
good, as their pupils are never going to aspire to achieve mastery, they
merely have to be better than the average Port Naain husband. To be honest
this doesn’t set a very high bar.
This then set a pretty problem for the husband of such a lady. What to do?
He was almost certainly unable to match his wife’s paramour blade to blade.
Indeed to do so would be to acknowledge that the fellow was actually his
wife’s paramour. Most would prefer to avoid forcing an open breach, in the
expectation that their wife might get over what was, hopefully, a short
lived infatuation.
The arrival of Andei upon the scene suddenly gave these gentlemen a way
through their dilemma. They would hire her to teach their wife, ensuring
that she arrived when the ‘fencing teacher’ was present. The husband would introduce Andei into the situation, explaining that he was so impressed with his wife’s devotion to her new interest that he decided to hire for her the very best.
This forced the lady’s own fencing teacher into a difficult position. One
particularly foolish and over-confident individual dismissed her with vulgar abuse. Andei merely stood with her hand on the hilt of her blade and
commented, “One day you may achieve the level of sophistication set by this
table, it at least has a certain polish.”
When he drew his sword and attacked her she casually disarmed him and drove him from the house, thrashing his buttocks with the flat of her blade.
Another of these gentlemen saw her as she walked along Ropewalk and decided to take advantage of the busyness of the street to insult her. He told her, at length, what he thought of her. She glanced at him briefly and replied, “I don’t care what you think about me, I don’t think about you at all.”
It has to be said that Andei was never vindictive about it. If the fencing
teacher went, Andei just left it at that. On occasion she would come across
the same individual, but in a different household. In these occasions it was
often enough for her to just stare at him for him to make his excuses and
leave.
Still, there are always those who seem too stupid to learn their lesson.
Flatan Artwight was one of these. After being ejected from one house, he
decided to get his own back by starting a whispering campaign. This alleged
that Andei won her coveted status not by her ability with the blade but by
engaging in unusual erotic practices with various unnamed (but obviously
powerful) people.
One evening I was helping Madam Kalinsa plan an entertainment she was
holding the following week. I did notice she keep looking at the clock, but
wasn’t entirely sure why. Then a maid arrived and announced, “It is time for your fencing lesson, Master Flatan Artwight has arrived.” I thought this a little strange, as it was late in the evening and I knew that Madam’s
husband was in Prae Ducis on business. Still I made my excuses and left,
passing Flatan in the hallway as I did so. I was walking down the drive
towards the road and met Andei Addlespur walking towards the house. I bowed slightly.
“Good evening Andei, I confess I am surprised to see you here.”
She gave one of those quick smiles which displays teeth rather than humour.
“Master Kalinsa asked me to keep an eye on things and drop in if necessary.”
She paused as if pondering the situation. “Would you be so kind as to
announce me please? And when you do, stress I am entering the house behind you.”
Nothing loath I turned round, walked back into the house and was met in the passage by a bemused maid. “I have a message for your mistress, and could you greet Andei Addlespur at the door and show her in please.”
With that I knocked on the salon door and after allowing a short period to
elapse I entered the room. Madam was seated on the settle and Flatan was
apparently engaged in getting a speck of dust out of her eye. Without
ceremony I announced, “Andei Addlespur has arrived, your maid is at this very moment showing her in.” 
Flatan cursed, opened the window and climbed out. Intrigued I made my way to the window. As Flatan prepared to tiptoe into the shadows and make his way through the garden to the road, Andei appeared in front of him with her sword drawn. The light from the window glinted on the blade. She said nothing, merely watching him, her sword half raised. Finally Flatan’s nerve obviously broke because he drew his sword and charged towards her. She deflected his blow with her blade, guiding it to her left. Then she half stepped sideways to avoid his attempt to body slam her and trust with her sword. Flatan fell dead.
She looked down at the body, sighed and wiped her blade on his shirt. Then
she turned to me as I stood at the open window. “Tallis, I think I’d better
spend a while in Partann. I am not sure if the authorities are going to
smile upon this particular incident.
I could see that. “Well you have rather burned your bridges. They could
claim it was murder, even with me as a witness to state he attacked you.”
I got a genuine smile for that. She sheathed her sword. “Always remember,
Tallis. If you’re being pursued by idiots, burning your bridges sometimes
seems an entirely sensible thing to do.”

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.

Jim Webster, 2020

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.

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.

Be sure to go and check them out!

Tallis Steelyard, Bringing The Joys Of Civilisation #BlogTour

Guess who’s come to visit my blog again, with another blog tour?

Dear Jim Webster is back with three delightful books from his Tallis Steelyard collection, and a special story just for the lucky readers of my blog too!

Justice Of A Sort


It was perhaps a month after I’d arrived back from Slipshade and the whole
episode should have faded from mind. As it was, it seemed determined to
haunt me, like some over-spiced meal eaten too late in the evening. So, for
example, one evening I was at the Misanthropes. I hadn’t actually dined. In
fact I wasn’t entirely sure I would. The money I had earned from my
Partannese adventure had gone, frittered away paying creditors and suchlike.
Thus it was a little disturbing when I had noted a small group of men,
obviously displaced Partannese brigands, in the street. One of them I
recognised from Slipshade, he was the gentleman who won the pie eating
contest. Given I had been the person to hand him his prize and congratulate
him, I was sure he’d remember me. Thus I faded down a side street and hoped that they hadn’t seen me. As I pondered their presence, it struck me that Port Naain has the power to draw people to it. After all, had I not already met Darstep Balstep, previously lord of Slipshade Keep, and now a jobbing poet? It struck me that Balstep had merely arrived early than these others. He was doubtless more focused on his future and had probably stolen a horse as well. I could imagine the small collection of ruffians I had just seen would be initially indecisive with nobody to issue them with orders. It could well take time for them to make their minds up as to what they ought to do.
So I put aside my irritation that the ill-starred ramifications of the
Slipshade episode were still occurring, long after any financial recompense
for my sufferings had been spent. I feel that there is a lesson there for
the young. Given that the unfortunate consequences of your actions will
always be with you, wisdom demands that you think long and hard about your plans. Ensure always you are more than adequately compensated, ideally in advance.
But in all candour I was at peace with the world and was sipping a glass of
moderate wine. I was willing to let the evening pass as it would. I had no
patron to flatter that evening, no recitals that needed arranging, and any
impromptu verses that I might need over the next few days had already been written well in advance. I was there purely to relax, and was hoping to hear some tale or some drollery that I might tweak and work into my own
performances.
Then even as I sipped, I heard a voice cry, “Steelyard, you currish,
crook-pated, codpiece.”
I was somewhat taken aback, had the Partannese ruffians I’d seen in the
street tracked me down already? I looked up, and saw Flobbard Wangil
striding across the room towards me. He looked furious and even as he
approached he snatched a plate from in front of one of the diners and hurled it at me. Fortunately I dodged and it hit Lancet who was sitting in the armchair next to me. He ended up covered in a hot pepper sauce. He leapt to his feet and hurled a pie plate at Flobbard. This latter individual, whilst angry, was not one of those rendered unobservant by his emotion so ducked and the pie plate struck Julatine Sypent full in the chest.
It must be said that Julatine and Lancet do not get on. Part of it is
professional jealousy. Julatine is a good painter, but his bread and butter
comes from painting twee cottages and similar. Lancet is not a bad painter,
(he’s a better painter than he is a poet) and occasionally he too will paint
some quaint rustic scene. His pictures always sell more quickly than do
Julatine’s and will command a higher price.
Even more galling for Julatine is that he is a perfectionist. He will take
days over a piece of work. Lancet will knock the same thing off in an
afternoon. What makes things worse is that Lancet has been known to dwell on this topic in conversation, at length, to Julatine’s obvious irritation.
Between ourselves a lot of the rancour is Lancet’s doing. Whether he
considers provoking his rival to be a piece of performance art I’ve never
thought to ask him, but he brings to it a dedication and a level of
preparation worthy of such an endeavour. As an example, he was walking south of the river and came upon Julatine who had just started to paint a
particularly pretty cottage. Lancet hid to avoid being seen, came back to
the city and demanded my assistance. That evening, armed with paint, we
approached the cottage. It was painted a primrose yellow. The paint Lancet
had acquired as a rather paler yellow shade. So that night, when the
occupier was asleep, Lancet and I painted the front of the house in this
shade. I would paint the plaster, and Lancet would then come along with some white paint which he cleverly used to ‘fade’ and ‘distress’ the yellow.
It was obvious that Julatine must have noticed because in the Misanthropes
early the next evening he was complaining about how the light had changed and given a whole new perspective on colour. Apparently he’d had to redo a considerable piece of his work.
So later that night Lancet and I returned to the cottage. The woodwork was
picked out in black and had obviously been repainted no more than a couple of years previously. We repainted the woodwork so that it was a more faded and washed-out grey. Early the next evening Lancet and I dropped into the Misanthropes but Julatine merely sat at a table glowering at the world and said nothing. After some supper we went back to the cottage with a saw.
There was a young tree standing in front of the cottage. As quietly as we
could, we cut it down. But we felled in very close to the ground, the idea
being that we would camouflage the stump by putting some stone or turf over it. Then it would be as if the tree had never been there.
Unfortunately just as we’d finished, the owner came out. He had obviously
grown suspicious over the past couple of days. We had just hidden the tree
in some scrub and had come back for the saw. He spotted us, shouted, and we fled. He didn’t try to pursue us but I suspect he’d mentioned the incident
to Julatine. My suspicions were aroused mainly because somebody poured a bucket of whitewash over us as Lancet and I stood chatting outside the door of the Misanthropes the following evening.
Still I digress. Flobbard Wangil was inadvertently prevented from
approaching me by the hail of projectiles and insults Lancet and Julatine
were hurling at each other. Others were dragged into the exchange as they
became caught up in things, but finally Flobbard got close enough to be to
attempt to belabour me with a chair. I managed to snatch up a stool from by
the bar and was successfully fending him off with that.
Finally Lancet inadvertently summoned the Watch. It seems that he had
managed to irritate a number of those present in the Misanthropes, and they ganged up on him and threw him out of the window, and he landed on two watchmen passing below. They burst in upon us. To be fair they were too wise to ask a silly question like, “What’s going on?” Instead they got down to the root of the matter by asking, “So who started it all.” Somewhat to my surprise everybody pointed at Flobbard and me.
Thus, protesting our innocence, we were arrested and given the day had been hectic, from a judicial point of view, we were led straight before
Malanthon. The clerk read out the charges, which were largely affray in
several of its forms. Then the clerk asked Flobbard what had happened.
Flobbard brought up the story of the Slipshade expedition and how I’d
abandoned him there. The clerk then asked me for my version. I recounted the story as well, but stressed that I had abandoned him because I had assumed he had stolen the stones and secreted them within his person. The clerk glanced at Malanthon and attempted to sum up. “So you, Flobbard Wangil, are angry because thanks to Steelyard here you spend three weeks in a cell with only a commode and a selection of laxatives for company?” Flobbard nodded.
“And you, Tallis Steelyard, handed Flobbard Wangil over to the authorities
because you believed he had the stolen gems?” I too nodded.
At this point, Flobbard burst out, “But I didn’t have the gems, I never had
the gems, I never touched the gems.”
This rather shook me. Flobbard’s tones were not the whining of a petty
criminal caught playing a game too rich for him. He spoke with the voice of
an honest man (in this matter at least) who was exasperated beyond measure at being accused of a crime he had not committed. To be fair to him, if a three week diet of laxatives had not produced the stones, then I had to face up to the fact that he had probably never had them.
Malanthon made some notes and then looked at us. Flobbard just shook his
head. I could see his point, he didn’t feel particularly guilty.
Malanthon looked at me. I cleared by throat. “I think I owe Flobbard an
apology.”
That got a smile from Malathon so I turned to Flobbard. “I’m sorry Flobbard. I was obviously wrong.”
He was obviously in a state of shock, I don’t suppose anybody had ever
apologised to him before. He shook my hand, and we both turned back to
Malathon. The clerk read out from the piece of paper that he had been given.

“Tallis Steelyard is to apologise to Flobbard, and is to also organise a pie
eating contest in which Flobbard can participate.”

And now we’d better hear from Jim Webster.


So here I am again with another blog tour. Not one book but three.
The first is another of the Port Naain Intelligencer collection. These
stories are a bit like the Sherlock Holmes stories. You can read them in any
order.

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

Then we have a Tallis Steelyard novella.


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

And finally, for the first time in print we proudly present:


Maljie, the episodic memoirs of a lady.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07ZKVXP24/

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

All a mere 99p each!

Get to know a bit about Jim over on his blog here.

And you should check out all the blogs where Jim and his blog tour are visiting!

Sue Vincenthttps://scvincent.com/Friday 8th NovCartographically challenged
Willow Willershttps://willowdot21.wordpress.com/Saturday 9th NovSilent justice
Robbie Cheadlehttps://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/Sunday 10th NovKnowing your profiteroles
Writers Co-ophttps://writercoop.wordpress.com/Monday 11th NovComing clean
Stevie Turnerhttps://steviet3.wordpress.com/Tuesday 12th NovBringing the joys of civilisation
Colleen Chesebrohttps://colleenchesebro.com/Wednesday 13th NovTrite tales for little people
Annette Rochelle Abenhttps://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/Thursday 14th NovA licence to perform
Chris Grahamhttps://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/Friday 15th NovWorking the Crowd
Ashlynn  Waterstonehttps://waterstoneway.wordpress.com/Saturday 16th NovAnd home again
Ken Gierkehttps://rivrvlogr.wordpress.com/Sunday 17th NovNot particularly well liked
Writers Co-ophttps://writercoop.wordpress.com/Monday 18th NovMore trite tales for little people
MT McGuirehttps://mtmcguire.co.uk/Tuesday 19thA poet is always a gentleman
Ritu Bhathalhttps://butismileanyway.com/Wednesday 20th Justice of a sort
Jayehttps://jenanita01.com/Thursday 21stGetting to the bottom of it all


My interactive peeps!

Peeps are reading in…

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