Water under the bridge

First, for this installment of the Gentlemen behaving badly blog tour, we have a humorous tale by Tallis Steelyard about the various inhabitants of a bridge tower in Partann. Next, we have two books of humorous tales about Port Naain by Jim Webster. Both are described in the post.

Tallis Steelyard

Water under the bridge

I discovered the Bridge Tower on one of my perambulations around Partann. Some people say it isn’t in Partann, in that it’s on the right bank of the Dharant, some way south of Fluance but north of the road from Avitas over the mountains to the East.

Still, whilst geographers, cartographers and the inhabitants of Fluance might quibble, the inhabitants of the area do think of it as Partann.

I approached it from the north, following the River Quibble, which is one of the tributaries of the Dharant. Some miles away I saw the tower high on the bridge and hoping for shelter for the night I followed the track which led towards it. I soon found that the track climbed and ran along the edge of an escarpment above the river. The escarpment itself was thick with brush, briars and similar, and once you had left the river it…

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Water Under the Bridge ~ Tallis Steelyard Guest Post

First, in this installment of the Gentlemen Behaving Badly blog tour, we have a humorous and interesting tale from Tallis Steelyard concerning the various tenants of a bridge tower in Partann


Tallis Steelyard Guest Post

I discovered the Bridge Tower on one of my perambulations around Partann. Some people say it isn’t in Partann, in that it’s on the right bank of the Dharant, some way south of Fluance but north of the road from Avitas over the mountains to the East.
Still, whilst geographers, cartographers and the inhabitants of Fluance might quibble, the inhabitants of the area do think of it as Partann.

I approached it from the north, following the River Quibble, which is one of the tributaries of the Dharant. Some miles away I saw the tower high on the bridge and hoping for shelter for the night I followed the track which led towards it. I soon found that the track climbed and ran along the edge of an escarpment above the river. The escarpment itself was thick with brush, briars and similar, and once you had left the river it…

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The Idiot Express

Two more stories for the price of FREE. If you like politics you can read the comments as an added benefit. There are more of the same if you just head north, to the right, then click on one or both of the book covers. Russell would also appreciate it if you reblog as I’ve done.

What's So Funny?

I heard a great piece of advice last week. “Don’t waste time judging yourself. Plenty of people are already doing that, and you don’t want to put any of them out of work.”

Just think of the freedom that statement offers. Now, instead of worrying about your own stupidity and social gaffes, you can stop beating yourself up and focus on something more productive, like what shade of purple to dye that unruly lock of hair that tends to flop down over your left eye.

If you’re new to Friday Flash Fiction, the capable engineer who keeps this train from derailing is Kacey Jones Wisoff-Fields. If you’d like to participate in this exercise in madness, head over to her blog for step-by-step instructions. To view the FFF  Hollywood Squares Authors Block click here.

copyright – Sandra Crook

“You seem to have forgotten the goal of our little endeavor,” Fish…

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Indie Book Reviews: Part I

A good review of three different books Diana has read.

Myths of the Mirror

The best thing about spending the last 2 months driving between Oregon and Washington, living out of a suitcase, and ignoring my bossy muse has been catching up on reading. Indie books were gifts from heaven!

It’s been a while since I’ve shared reviews of books I’ve enjoyed. These are in no particular order. And there are more to come!

A Thousand Yesteryears

by Mae Clair

Intriguing plot and believable characters. At the death of her aunt, Eve Parrish returns to Point Pleasant to sell off the family hotel. Not only is the town known for sightings of a fantastical creature, the mothman, it’s also the location of a bridge collapse that, fifteen years ago, claimed the life of Eve’s father and friend. That tragedy still hangs over the town, and Eve has no plans to stay.

But her old crush Caden Flynn still lives in town, a man haunted…

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Rural Homelessness

First, Jim Webster discusses homelessness in rural and city areas of the U.K. Next, he has a book on offer about farm life from his experience. It’s followed by a review of a pleased reader.

Jim Webster


It said the number of people sleeping rough in barns, outhouses and parked cars in rural areas had risen by up to 32% between 2010 and 2016. It is a problem but it’s a relatively well hidden problem.

To a certain extent there has always been an issue. I have family and friends of my own age who started their married lives in a caravan tucked round the back of the family farm. The newlyweds had a bedroom and kitchen of their own and if they wanted to do anything so exotic as to wash or go to the toilet, then they’d have to go into the house.

It was just one of those things. Working in agriculture you were stuck in a low wage economy and because your home and workplace was in the countryside, you were stuck in a high house-price area. Eventually if the family owned the…

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Thoroughly Married by Guest Writer Jim Webster

Photo Copyright: Jim Webster

Thorough Married by Jim Webster

There are many things about Port Naain which are not obvious to the outsider
and which we perhaps don’t talk about. It wasn’t until a stranger to the
city asked me about the large iron-hulled steamers that tie up at the deep
water berths that it even occurred to me to mention them. It’s because they
trade to the west.

Now west of Port Naain is an awful lot of ocean, with a few islands which
are perfectly adequate for marooning political rivals on but have very
little economic value. Then beyond them you hit large islands, some of them
being of a fair size. Some are or were inhabited, some probably weren’t. But
over some of them Port Naain exercises a degree of influence.

Don’t come to think this is the city building an empire. The city itself, as
represented by the Council of Sinecurists exercises an entirely benign
neglect of the topic. Individual merchants or associations of merchants have
over the years settled the islands. To be fair, Port Naain is not short of
potential settlers. Turn up at the Warrens or the Sump and offer people a
chance to eat at least two meals a day and have a roof that doesn’t leak and
they’ll be seriously interested in your proposition. Offer them a lifetime
of backbreaking labour, but on their own small patch of land, and you can
pick and choose amongst them. So whilst perhaps half the food eaten in Port
Naain comes from Partann or our northern hinterland, as much again crosses
the ocean in the iron hulls of these large steamers.

As a general rule, nobody ever goes there, except to settle. Similarly
nobody ever comes back, except as a crewman aboard the ships. Go west and
you abandon your past and enter a new world. But not everybody goes to be a
farmer. There are islands inhabited by natives who range in temperament from
placid and peaceful to fierce cannibals. Yet some of the islands have things
to offer the enterprising trader. Even cannibals can be persuaded to pick
the blossoms of various plants, drying them and trading them with passing
merchants for metal-bladed machetes and axes. These dried blossoms will be
sold for a high price to those who delight in drinking the delicately
flavoured and scented infusions they produce.

Once you arrive in the uttermost west, the large ships can only dock at one
or two ports. The islands are knitted together by scores of minor craft,
schooners, brigs or even smaller, which move from island to island. These
are licensed traders, most of whom arrived as farmworkers and realised there
were other options open to them. Then on many islands, certainly those where
the inhabitants are friendly, you will find a company agent. This
individual, although paid by one company, is responsible to all for ensuring
that the locals are not kidnapped and sold into slavery on one hand, and
that they don’t start eating traders on the other. They also have some
responsibility for encouraging the locals to produce goods suitable for
trade, and for ensuring there is a regular market that traders can attend.

Sneed Waterloop was appointed by an avarice of usurers to be the company
agent of the island of Watahoho. There is a school of thought that they
picked him because it allowed somebody to make a convoluted joke involving
his surname but I cannot vouch for this.

When Sneed arrived at Watahoho he settled in rapidly. He was a quiet,
unassuming individual, and was rather overwhelmed by the respect the
islanders, a happy laughing people. They were enthusiastic party-goers and
would think nothing of spending the entire day just sitting on the beach,
playing native instruments and singing plaintive native love songs. Whilst
he would agree that this was all remarkably quaint, Sneed had quotas to
meet. The locals were supposed to gather together, wash and dry, quantities
of various seaweeds which are sold in Port Naain as expensive delicacies. To
be fair to the usurers, they were willing to pay a fair price for the
seaweed, but alas, the natives had no use for money. After all it doesn’t
cost a lot to sit on a beach outside your rude hut and sing love songs.

Sneed struggled to get them to work at all. Food was plentiful, the fishing
was good, and the island was covered with food producing plants. There were
even small dart and coneys to trap for the adventurous. If they did any work
at all, it was because they liked Sneed and hated to see him looking

Finally Sneed realised that something had to be done. If he had only a dozen
settlers from Port Naain, he’d soon meet the quota. But of course he wasn’t
allowed settlers. Then it occurred to him, whilst he could not import the
inhabitants of Port Naain, he could perhaps breed them. After all, if he
married a local girl, their children would be at least half the way to being
the sturdy stock of Port Naain. Mathematically it was obvious that if they
had twenty-four children, he’d have his dozen settlers. Not only that he’d
be able to supervise their upbringing and ensure that they were ardent

Further consideration showed the problems of the scheme. It would take at
least twenty-four years to assemble his labour force, and probably a further
decade before they were swinging into full production. Somewhat despondent
he slumped down by the fire on the beach and listened to the love songs. Two
of the village maidens, realising he looked sad, snuggled up to him and
plied him with palm wine. It was then he had his inspiration. Why not marry
more than one wife? Two glasses of palm wine later saw a full flowering of
his genius, why not marry them all?

Next day he gathered the entire community together and announced that the
great masters whom he worked for had instructed him to take a wife. Not only
that but they were so determined to honour the people of Watahoho that he
was to marry every woman between the ages of eighteen and fifty, whether
they were married or not. After some thought, one of the locals asked “Are
you marrying them separately or all together?”

Sneed had thought about this one. “Definitely going to marry them all
separately, perhaps at monthly intervals.”

Somebody else asked, “So you’ll have a separate marriage ceremony for each

“Absolutely,” said Sneed. “Then after the honeymoon she can go back to her
husband if she wants.”

The details of the ceremony needed sorting out but Sneed was willing to
negotiate. Thus the usual ceremony was where the bride and groom were
feasted together with the rest of the community for two days. Then the happy
couple would retire to the honeymoon cottage for the next week, where they
would be supplied with food, including the fabulous honeymoon wine.
Admittedly it was just palm wine spiced with various herbs, but on trying it
Sneed found he rather liked it. During this week the rest of the community
could sing love songs on the beach day and night if they wanted. But after
the week was up, Sneed negotiated that everybody would collect and wash
seaweeds for a week until Sneed married his next wife. With that the whole
process would begin again.

Now the business went rather well. With reason to work, the community
comfortably achieved its quota and Sneed received a number of flattering
letters of commendation from his superiors.

If there was a fly in the ointment, it was that, as the years passed, these
marriages didn’t seem to produce any little Sneeds. At the end of a decade
he’d married every woman on the island, some several times. All of them had,
at some point, produced children, but none of these children could be linked
in any way to him. Still he was not a man to give up easily. He redoubled
his efforts, married them all again, repeatedly, until finally his health
gave out and he collapsed. He had to be carried onto a boat by his weeping
brides. Eventually the usurers decided that the best thing they could do for
such a loyal servant of the company, one who had sacrificed his health for
the good running of the business, was to ship him back to Port Naain to

You’d see him, wandering like a ghost around the wharfs, always looking
westwards, talking to anybody who’d just arrived. What finished him was
meeting on traveller who had news from Watahoho. Apparently his successor
had been talking to the locals about their customs, and in the discussion,
one of the locals told him about the spiced palm wine they served during
honeymoons. Apparently it acted as a contraceptive.

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


So come on, treat yourself, because you’re worth it.

The dark machinations of Flontwell Direfountain by Jim Webster #BlogTour #Fantasy #Stories #Books

Another story addition to the Gentlemen Behaving Badly blog tour. First, there is a hilarious and wise tale by Tallis Steelyard about a young widow with teenage daughters in need of guidance. She gets it from a family friend. Next, there are two reasonably priced books on offer by Jim Webster about the amusing adventures of various characters in Port Naain. One book also has instructions for writers on writing and marketing books.

Waterstone Way

Image for "The dark machinations of Flontwell Direfountain" by Jim WebsterIt is my great honor to share hosting duties in the ongoing blog tour for Jim Webster. Today’s story is:

 The dark machinations of Flontwell Direfountain.

On occasion I ask myself whether Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Justice has a rather dark sense of humour. Certainly there are times when I suspect I have heard her chuckle quietly as she deals with one situation and then turns to the next. Thus it was in the case of Madam Galathrong and her two daughters.

Madam had been married young, had her children young and then sadly, had been widowed young. Thus she had been left to bring up her two daughters, Alisen and Melisen on her own. To be fair her late husband had left her very comfortably provided, so they didn’t want for anything in a material sense. Her daughters were perhaps nineteen and seventeen when our…

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The Wonderful World of Tallis Steelyard by Jim Webster ~ #EpicFantasy @JimWebster6

First, another tale from Tallis Steelyard to add to the Gentlemen Behaving Badly blog tour. This one is all about the workings of a complicated automated caricordia of one Darset Dweel. To figure that out you have to read the story. Next, are two books of similar tales of Port Naain and environs on offer by Jim Webster.

Books & Bonsai

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.


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.

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