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It’s not who you know, it’s what you know …

It’s time to see if I can boost the visitor numbers to my blog a bit and for that purpose, once again, I have procured the services of a celebrity guest. Yes you have a special treat in store today. The ever popular Tallis has returned to my blog – along with a little help from Jim Webster, his publisher and agent. Enjoy.

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It’s not who you know, it’s what you know.

It’s not what you know …

I realise that it might not be a fashionable view. Indeed I know some people who would disagree vehemently with me on this. They will boast of their wide circle of acquaintance, and the fact that should they want a decision making in their favour in high places, they merely have to drop a hint into the ear of the right person. Yet I would suggest that if you don’t know what’s going on, you can drop all the hints you want, you’ll never achieve the result you desire.

It was the interesting affair of Doughty Voile which illustrates this best. Doughty comes from one of the small villages east of here, along the Paraeba river. Doughty’s parents came from the city of Oiphallarian, which is even further east. His parents abandoned city life, (for unexplained reasons) and settled to the life of peasant cultivators. The area was isolated, Doughty grew up speaking with a pronounced Oiphallarian accent, and occasionally people from the city did visit them. They would stay for some time and spend most of it inside. Often they spent it in bed being treated for various injuries. Doughty truly had a nice knack at sewing up knife wounds.  But apart from these occasional highlights, life was quiet. Doughty worked hard, but was a great reader. He seems to have read everything that crossed his path. Apparently he used to sail out in his skiff to meet the steamers. He’d trade fresh vegetables with the purser for books.

His big chance came when a visitor arrived from Oiphallarian. He’d taken a cottage in the village and Doughty got to know him. Apparently the visitor, one Montain Calm, was in the book trade. He worked for a publishing house in the city. Ostensibly he had been sent to reconnoitre Port Naain with a view to exploring the literary possibilities. Not only was he to search out for new writing talent, but there was also the possibility of forming partnerships with local publishers, or having books written in Oiphallarian printed locally by Port Naain printers. To be honest, Montain wasn’t particularly keen on heading further west. His real aim was to linger in the village with his mistress for a month or two. He would then return to Oiphallarian explaining that he’d explored the opportunities and there weren’t any.

Doughty pondered this and a day or so later, casually mentioned, as if in passing, that he had to go to Port Naain anyway, and would Montain like him to check things out for him whilst he was there. It would give his report to his superiors a degree of verisimilitude if he could mention a few contacts by name. Montain thought briefly and agreed it would be an excellent idea, and even gave Doughty a few vintenars to buy himself a drink or two with whilst he was in the city.

Doughty next had to work out how he was going to get to Port Naain. He had virtually no cash, and what he had, he felt he’d need when he got there. So he decided to just sail down river in his skiff and if the worst came to the worst he could always sleep in it as well. So with a change of clothing, and his father’s business suit which Doughty had recently grown into, he set off.

It was entirely fortuitous that he stumbled upon me. He drifted past the wharfs of the city, temporarily unmanned by the sheer size of the place. When he got to Fellmonger’s Wharf he contemplated tying up, but there was no wharf space available. To be fair that is normally the case. Boats and barges are tied up to seven deep on Fellmonger’s Wharf. It’s a residential wharf, and our wharf-rat, Marson, likes it well stacked. It ensures he’s got plenty of tenants and those nearest the wharf will struggle to skip without paying the rent.

Doughty passed onwards and arrived at the Old Esplanade. The tide was in and there were a few loafers waiting for it to turn. So he paddled close to the shore and after some thought he asked if anybody could direct him to, “A literary gentleman.”

It must be confessed that on the Old Esplanade I am well known, even if it is only as Shena’s husband. Hence, it was my name he was given. Not only that but they gave him directions as how to get to our barge.

Thus it was as I was meditating in the sunshine, contemplating my muse, I was rudely awakened as his skiff scraped alongside. I welcomed him aboard and he told me his story. Let us be honest, he was obviously not a senior agent for a major publishing house. He lacked the arrogance. He lacked the belief in his own divine right to succeed that one finds in such people. To be honest, if he was in publishing I would have placed him as a literary agent who made a poor living touting his finds to small independent publishing houses.

After an hour and a glass or two, I got the entire truth out of him and it was then I made my decision. I liked him. He was a decent enough young man and remarkably well read. Thus I spent the rest of the afternoon coaching him. By the time Shena arrived home, Doughty was almost convincing. So she joined me in my work and by the time we retired for the night, he could discuss business with businessmen and literature with writers. All that needed to be done was to arrange a few introductions.

Thus under the name of Montain Calm, Doughty was launched on Port Naain literary society. He was a considerable success. When introduced to writers he was measured. If he hadn’t read their work he’d read similar. He was happy to discuss their current projects and showed a genuine interest in work they had close to completion. If he had a failing, it was that he didn’t have a large budget for entertaining. In all candour that was one area where I couldn’t help him. But we discovered that people were so keen to speak to him that they insisted on paying for his drinks.

Having caused a stir amongst the writers, we moved on to the printers and publishers. They pleaded with him to dine with them. Had he been a person with fewer moral standards he could doubtless have walked away, his pockets jingling from the bribes they wanted to slip him. As it was he amassed crate after crate of samples. I honestly believe he had acquired a copy of every book published in Port Naain in the previous decade!

Once writers saw the publishers wining and dining Doughty they redoubled their own efforts. It was now obvious that he was the man who held their fortunes in the palm of his hand. The poor chap was virtually besieged. He made an unfortunate strategic error. In a desperate effort to calm people down, he let it be known that there was no point in negotiating details. This was because his employers were sending their legal representative out to join him in a couple of weeks and this person would draw up the contracts.

In one way this worked. The writing community could see that there was no point in worrying him with details. Unfortunately each writer also decided that they ought to use this period of grace to win Doughty over to their side, so that when the lawyer appeared, they would be the first in the queue and would be signed up on good terms before the money ran out.

In the next week, eight lady writers of some merit invited him to picnic with them and took the opportunity to propose what might be described as, ‘an informal marital arrangement.’ At the same time, other writers would invite him out, ‘for a convivial evening.’ On several occasions the convivial evening barely finished in time for him to join a lady for the lunchtime picnic.

Finally I had to step in. The social whirl had become manic. As he said to me, it wasn’t waking up and thinking, “Where am I,” that told him it was time to stop. It was when he turned over in bed, looked at the individuals who appeared to be sharing it with him, and asked, “And who the hell are they?”

Apparently on one occasion he was only spared embarrassment because the lady’s maid had the habit of sewing name tapes into her mistress’s clothes so that they were easily identified by the laundry.

At very short notice I got him a passage on a barge heading east. Given his personal effects included eleven crates of books and nearly as many of rather good wine, there was no way he could get them all in the skiff.

“And what,” I hear you mutter under your breath, “did Tallis get out of it?”

Well to be fair both Shena and I ate rather well that week. Also, as Doughty commented, he wasn’t somebody who normally drank wine with every meal. Thus whilst he took a number of crates of wine with him, it must be admitted that he left twice that number with Shena and I. But perhaps more importantly than that, it’s always good for a chap to discover what sort of folk he lives among.

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?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-guide-writers-stories-ebook/dp/B07TRXJH8C/

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.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-Gentlemen-behaving-stories-ebook/dp/B07TRYZV6C/

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

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Just a final note from me, MTM. This is the last story in this tour, but if you want to read the other stories, not to mention discover some cracking blogs, I can heartily recommend starting from the beginning. You can find the first one on our lovely friend, Chris Graham’s blog here:

A fine residence – Guest Post (and Book Promo) by Tallis Steelyard (Jim Webster)…

If, for some reason it doesn’t work, or you get lost on the way, the first part of each story appears on Tallis’ own blog, starting here:

A fine residence …

 

 

 

 

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Read any good books lately?

Time is short this week. I’m trying to set up a new iThing and it’s taking ages. I’m also having to sort out some stuff with Mum and Dad’s neighbours – bit of a misunderstanding about a hedge and now, it seems a fence. Anyhoo hopefully I’ll get it sorted but quickly before I rush out for my first of two surprise birthday weekends … well … you’re only 50 once. To give you a feel for just how chaotic it is, I caught sight of a football under one of our patio chairs this morning without my glasses on and said hello to it because I thought it was our cat.

Yeh, you get the picture.

This month I have two lovely things for you; the first is a giveaway of free books, some in return for sign up to the authors mailing lists, some not. The other thing I have is a recommendation for a really good book.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Fiction from Ebookaroo 23rd May – 14th June

Not everyone has the time to read full on novels so this giveaway features a selection of short stories. All are sci-fi and fantasy. There’s a pretty wide selection there, so hopefully you will discover some interesting authors. Some will want you to join their mailing lists as well as downloading the book, some won’t. The dynamic of that approach has kind of changed now, in that you sign up for the mailing list and are given the book rather than downloading the book and being put on the mailing list.

The giveaway is on instafreebie and it runs until 14th June. Click here, or on the picture, to see all the books. Hope you find some good reads.

Grab some free shorts at the giveaway here.

Mission Improbable reduced to 99c 14th – 24th June

This one’s a bargain as it usually retails for £2.99 or thereabouts. I read it a while back when I was taking part in Comedy Ebook Week. I loved it and am now half way through the series, although I’m eeking out reading the rest of them because I don’t want to finish. If you like a bit of light humour and some wildly imaginative ideas, this book is for you. Here’s the blurb to give you an feel for what it’s like:

If you like Doctor Who you’ll love Carrie Hatchett’s Space Adventures.

Carrie Hatchett’s been a dog walker, ice cream seller and birthdaygram girl—the clean kind. All she wants is a proper job. But Transgalactic Intercultural Community Crisis Liaison Officer isn’t what she had in mind. And neither is saving the galaxy.

Carrie’s a low-achieving daydreamer. After providing a good home for her butt-ugly dog and crazy cat, her biggest challenge in life is to avoid being fired, again.

But a strange green mist sucks her beneath her kitchen sink, and an unusual clerical error leads to an offer she foolishly doesn’t refuse.

In settling a conflict between the mechanical placktoids and the mysterious oootoon, Carrie reveals a threat to the entire galactic empire.

Has she bitten off more than she can chew?

Join Carrie on her adventures today!

Mission Improbable is book one in the comedy sci-fi romp, Carrie Hatchett, Space Adventurer.

Mission Improbable comes highly recommended (by me). If you think it sounds fun just click here or on the picture. You will be taken to a page on my site with links to grab a copy from all the usual stores and also direct, from, the author’s own website.

Mission Improbable

However, remember that Mission Improbable will ONLY be 99c between 14th and 24th June. Peak too soon and it will be full price. Patience, Grashopper.

I intend to try and post about a few more books soon, I grabbed the new one by fellow humorous sff author Will Macmillan Jones and so there should be something about that in a month or two!

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Beeper and Bingy, and free books … #randomwittering #metaldetecting #mcmini

Scroogeability factors.

Better late than never today. The build up to Christmas is well and truly under way and I am gradually disappearing up my own bottom. As usual I am slightly dreading the holiday period but mainly because of all the travel, the being away from home and the general pain-in-the-arseness of that, the people I visit are lovely I just wish I didn’t have to do it all at once. Short school holidays are a bit of a bind in that respect because we have to use the time to visit when we can because in term time we’d have to take McMini out of school and neither set of parents can travel. I couldn’t do it any other way and like myself as a person so it’s head down, get it done and then I can feel enormously smug that I’ve been a decent human being when it’s over.

The bit I do like is the looking for presents for everyone, that’s where I can forget the bits I don’t like; travel, admin, remembering to pack everything, and focus on the bits I do; the people involved. Now that is a gas although this month, I have been rather remiss. I got my Christmas money from Mum and Dad early and I have spent it on a present for myself.

Meet Beeper … or is it Bingy?

Yep, a couple of weeks ago, I bit the bullet and upgraded my metal detector. I managed to spend about £40 more than McOther spent when he bought my original entry-level detector new but for that I got second hand detector that would be about £700 when new. An XP Goldmaxx V4. I also bought some of the XP wireless headphones for it because I was fed up with getting the headphone cable tied around my ankles, burying it in the hole by mistake etc etc.

So this new detector, is it good? You bet your arse!

Although, of course, it means I have to go back to the beginning and start the learning curve again because each detector’s beeps and whistles and peeps are different and the only way you can truly know which beeps represent something you should be digging up, and which don’t, are by digging every single signal until you’ve learned them by heart. I think I’ve just about worked out what hot rocks (coke) sound like and I suspect I’m nearly there with aluminium and deep iron but I’ve only taken it out twice, so I’m still digging every signal I hear.

Last week, I took McMini along to a club dig; me with the new detector, he with my old detector which is now ‘his’. It didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, the detector was too heavy for him and it was the day after a very late night so he whinged constantly. Ideally he needed to stop to eat, and I mean properly eat, at half hourly intervals which was a pity as I only brought along lunch and I needed an almost bottomless supply of snacks. We wasted the first two hours footering around, other than deciding that our detectors were called Beeper and Bingy. I think his is Beeper but sometimes mine’s Beeper and his is Bingy, depending on which name he thinks is the funniest at the time.

However, after lunch, he stayed at the car, and while that did doom me to only detect on one field (because I don’t like it if I can’t see him) I did get a couple of hours of proper detecting in. The new machine was good. Sure, I dug a couple of chunks of iron but I have gone past the ‘I wonder what it is,’ zone and reached the stage of thinking, ‘that’s iron, but I’d better dig it to check.’ So that is progress. Getting past that will be tricky as I am an eternal optimist and will probably be digging everything, ‘just in case’ in several years’ time but that isn’t so bad.

Hand made wingnut and old metal … thing.

Despite having no display screen, everything about the new detector is easier, and as the information on the screen the old one had was wonderfully and wildly inaccurate, losing the visuals doesn’t really make that much difference. But my faster pinpoint and dig rates mean I can find more targets, meaning that if something is a lump of old shite, it doesn’t take up nearly as much of my time as it did before. The last two outings, it’s been a case of right metals, but that medieval lead seal matrix I think I’ve found turns out to be a tiny blob of shapeless lead, and that Roman broach-style coppery bing brings up a hand made wingnut. OK so it’s hand made and probably over two hundred years old but sadly, though almost everything has someone somewhere who is interested, a wingnut of any age is regarded as crap in all quarters.

Ho hum. You can’t win ’em all.

That said, one of the fragments of green metal I dug up turned out to have the hint of a embossing on one edge when I got home. So I had a good old scrub at it with a wooden cocktail stick and brought up a lovely pattern. Then I dropped it and trod on it, breaking the bent corner, which was really smart of me, and when I put it out on the finds table at the club one of my hawk-eyed colleagues said.

‘Look, there’s a bit of guilding on that.’

A clog fastener, Regency era? Going on the pattern.

I examined it under the lights and sure enough, he was right. My mind wandered to the industrious scrubbing with a wooden cocktail stick that I had done to bring up the pattern. ‘Hmm. Yes,’ I had to admit as I clocked the hints of gold in the cracks. ‘Sadly, I think there’s probably a lot less than there was.’

Then to compound my embarrassment, the FLO said he thought it might be Saxon. I think the metal’s too thin for Saxon but it’s definitely 12th or 13th Century. He’s taken it away to check it out so I’ll let you know which it actually is when I collect it in January. It’s a bit like the thing that looked like the end of a metal bag tie that I dug up on one of my first digs. It was green so I reckoned it was old, and I thought I’d kept it but now I suspect, I threw away – at least I can’t find it. I found another one a month ago but kept it this time because I noticed it had a pattern on it. It’s a clog fastener.

What I like most about it is the way it’s designed so that the precious metal bit can be removed and reused when the clogs/leather bits on the clogs wear out. It’s like another thing I found a few months ago that resembled part of a suspender belt, that was a stud chape fastener which was used to do up a 1660-1720 shoe. I love the way that even basic, mundane things were treasured in past times and how the resources were valued and reclaimed. Things that we would throw away without a moment’s thought are regarded as reusable and precious. Can you imagine removing and reusing the metal cleats on a pair of dead hiking boots? That said, they still managed to discard a truckload of stuff for people like me to dig up and puzzle over. That’s another thing I absolutely love about this detecting lark; the whole, what the fuck is this? Aspect to three quarters of the stuff I find. I love that I discover things I didn’t know.

Sometimes, in life, it seems that the most boring and innocuous-looking things turn out to be a lot more interesting than we thought. Especially if, like me, you’re a bit of a spud.

Back to the dig and those bits of iron. When I made to throw the iron in the hedge, McMini stopped me.

‘No Mum, I need that to make my iron man suit,’ he told me, in all seriousness.

Who was I to argue? We now have a finds bag full of iron in the garage. I’ll give him a week or two to forget about it and then creep in there and stick it in the recycling.

Meanwhile, during my couple of hours’ hard core graft, McMini explored the area round the car. This involved standing in about the only sticky mud to be found until his boots stuck and he had to get out of them and stand in the mud in his socks to retrieve said stuck boots. Then he got back into my car and as he did so, found some stones he’d picked up on a beach a few months ago in his pocket. So he made a rock sculpture with the mud, which he then put on the dashboard to dry. By the time he’d finished, the inside of my car looked like this:

Our kitchen sink approximately 3 minutes after the cleaners had left. Thanks Harrison.

Mud sculpture.

More wonderful McMini-isms this week include Hide and Worry; a game he and a friend have invented. ‘It’s like hide and seek but when they find you they stab you,’ he explained. Yes, well, I could see why that might be alarming. He and the same friend have also developed a habit of putting their back packs on the wrong way round and then they pretend to sumo wrestle. They call this new form of Sumo ‘Flab Fight’ which I find unaccountably hilarious.

And now to books for a moment …

Well, this is supposed to be an author blog so on a completely different but probably more on-message note, I’m doing a giveaway at the moment with a bunch of other lovely authors and I thought I’d share it with you because it has a manageable number of entrants and the books – all sff – look interesting. So if you’re looking for some new reads for no pence, or if you are like me and want to give yourself a sneaky present without the guilt of spending cash you’re supposed to be spending on others, on yourself, check this one out. I’m pretty sure you don’t have to join Bookfunnel to take part. Here’s the link (or click on the picture): https://dl.bookfunnel.com/b8dr8lj6w1

 

 

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Win a Kindle Paperwhite at the Awesome Indies Grand Opening Party. Last day today.

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Tomorrow, the wonderful books in the Awesome Indies Grand Opening sale go back to their usual price at $2 or $3 more than their present 99c. Visit today to grab a bargain, pick up some free booty and be in the draw for a Kindle Paperwhite.

Click here or on the banner above.

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The Awesome Indies Grand Opening Party; 26 top reads at just 99 cents each, plus 5 days of partying! Oh… yeh… and you can win a kindle paperwhite.

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Hello everyone, as you may have twigged from the sidebar, Few Are Chosen, K’Barthan Trilogy: Part 1 has the Awesome Indies Seal of Approval and The Wrong Stuff, K’Barthan Trilogy: Part 2 is Awesome Indies Approved but not sealed – because you can only have one Seal per series. Anyway, Awesome Indies is having a bit of a relaunch. A bit, a Hooooooge one! So for the next few days, I’m going to be featuring a series of posts from the site pointing you to lots of excellent books, competitions and, hopefully, showing you around. This is the first, the rest will come without preamble!

You’re invited to the Awesome Indies Grand Opening Party—a sale of 26 top reads at just 99 cents each, plus 5 days of fun. See the new website, meet the authors, join them for games, giveaways and giggles and be in the draw to win the latest generation Kindle.

Awesome Indies has found a way to take the risk out of buying indie. If it’s Awesome Indies Approved (AIA), a qualified publishing industry professional has determined that it’s as good as anything produced by the mainstream. Readers need no longer wonder if that book is really worth downloading. If a book is listed on the Awesome Indies, then it’s worth your time.

Click on the banner, or this link, to visit the Awesome Indies to browse the huge 99c sale and learn what you have to do to be in the draw for a Kindle Paperwhite.

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