Hi, everyone. Jim Webster has two more new novellas coming out and I offered to help spread the word. This post is part of “The Gentlemen Behaving Badly Blog Tour.”
Jim shares that both novellas are the usual format containing just over twenty short stories featuring Tallis Steelyard. The stories do have a theme as they are all tales of gentlemen behaving badly! I can only imagine what’s inside those pages!
For my readers, Jim has written a story to whet your appetite for more of his writing. Please enjoy.
Every last penny
There is a time and a place for household economy. There have been times when I had so little money that I knew each sadly debased copper coin personally. I was familiar with their little foibles, the scars that a long lifetime of close proximity to other coins had left on their surfaces. Indeed the well-worn faces of long forgotten monarchs and eponymous archons were more familiar to me than mine own.
Still whilst I might cherish them, I confess to having a somewhat casual attitude to their arrival and departure. Yes I might lament their leaving, but I never recorded the sad event. I might have been taught my bookkeeping by Miser Mumster, but I saw no reason to allow such things to demarcate my own life. The idea that the wonder that is Tallis Steelyard could be reduced to regimented columns of figures parading in lockstep across a page saddens me.
Still not everybody thinks as I do, and perhaps Quarran Bleer was my antithesis. He recorded everything. Every coin earned and every coin spent and what he spent it on. He even recorded a quarter dreg picked up in the street. These small coins were minted by the notorious lordlings of Dawn Shadow Keep and frankly they contain so much lead I’ve known people punch holes in them and use them as bearings.
Every evening the day finished with the family gathered round the table as Quarran read from his great book, telling them of that day’s entries, and checking that none of them had further additions or subtractions to make.
Now I don’t want you to think he was mean. Quarran was no miser, he never earned enough to be a miser. It’s just that I’ve never known anybody catalogue their gestures of spontaneous generosity so minutely. If he gave a child a twenty-five dreg piece to purchase themselves some trifling sugar fancy, he would, under a subheading, note how much the fancy cost, and what the child did with the rest of the money.
In later years, as his eyes failed him, and reading became more difficult, his son would keep up the accounts for him, and was trained to meet his father’s demanding standards. Indeed when Quarran died, his son, Kastaff, continued the detailed cataloguing of his family’s finances.
It was Kastaff who tentatively approached publishers with his father’s tome, wondering if it could be published. He met with universal rejection and even quiet mockery but eventually he decided to print a small run himself. He approached Glicken’s Printers and they tendered a price he felt he could afford. Even as they laid the type out in the forms, Silac Glicken knew they were on to a winner. It took them twice the time to set up than he had expected, so fascinated were he and the other compositors with what they were reading. Although Kastaff had only paid for a hundred to be printed, Silac took a gamble and printed twice the number, and sold them all within the first week.
All in all, the work proved to be a modest success. I heard a comment that ‘The account books of Quarran Bleer’ is one of the most widely referenced and quoted works in the university library.’ Regularly one will read slogans such as, “The price of our ale has not risen since Quarran Bleer’s time.” Indeed, I remember one lady writing a strong letter to the Port Naain Intelligencer, stating firmly that the lady Quarran Bleer had paid two vintenars to for ‘erotic services’ was not her but her grandmother of the same name.
The success of the venture has of course encouraged Kastaff to promise the world that he is following firmly in his father’s footsteps in this matter, and intends to publish his own account books, perhaps in twenty-year instalments. As the city waits with bated breath for this happy day, Kastaff is wisely keeping his family in the public eye.
He has published his father’s monograph, “The evolution of beer bottles in Port Naain.” We knew from the account books that old Quarran had been partial to a bottle of decent beer, and once or twice he mentions money he got from selling bottles he’d found. What we now discovered was that throughout his adult life he’d been studying and cataloguing the beer bottles of the city. Now each one, with an appropriate sketch, was recorded for posterity.
Silac Glicken mentioned to me in passing, that this book sold in one month more copies that all the volumes of poetry he prints, added together! There are times when I feel that I ought to change my genre. Lancet Foredeck, when he heard this, took to writing his poems on labels which he planned to stick to beer bottles. I feel his project would have gone better if he hadn’t chosen a brand of rather inferior milk stout to apply his labels to.
Then there was Quarran’s collection of ‘final demands,’ and entreaties to pay outstanding accounts. I confess that I purchased a copy of this, slightly foxed, and found it fascinating. As somebody who has received many missives in this genre I suppose I read them with the eye of a connoisseur. Indeed some of them I recognised having received one in the same hand. I briefly considered publishing my one collection, but alas it is sadly depleted. Those written on poor quality and absorbent paper have long been used for the purpose they were best suited to. Those on better paper have served me well when I have been working on some of my verses. It is always handy to have a scrap of paper to jot something down on, and it must be confessed that it a role that suits them.
Still there is one small entry in the Quarran’s account book that I do have a certain sentimental attachment to.
“Paid, to Tallis Steelyard. One vintenar, Port Naain, recent minting. For some verses for my lady wife upon the celebration of our wedding anniversary. She commented that it gave her immeasurable pleasure.”
Somethings are indeed beyond price.
And now, we’d better hear from Jim Webster.
“Jim Webster is probably still fifty-something, his tastes in music are eclectic, and his dress sense is rarely discussed in polite society. In spite of this, he has a wife and three daughters.
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing fantasy and Sci-Fi novels.”
Now with eight much-acclaimed fantasy works and two Sci-Fi to my credit it seems I might be getting into the swing of things.Amazon Author Page: 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.
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.
Tallis even has a blog of his own at https://tallissteelyard.wordpress.com/
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? ($1.26 U.S.)
Then we have, ‘Tallis Steelyard. Gentlemen behaving badly, and other
stories.’ Now is your chance to see Port Naain by starlight and meet ladies of wit and discernment. There are Philosophical societies, amateur dramatics, the modern woman, revenge, and the advantages of a good education.
So come on, treat yourself, because you’re worth it.
Many thanks to Jim Webster for sharing such a delightful story. Looking for more stories? Find Jim at his blog: Jim Webster, Books & Stuff.
“A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.”
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Colleen M. Chesebro is an American Poet who loves crafting paranormal fantasy and magical realism, cross-genre flash fiction, syllabic poetry, and creative nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, tanka prose, renga, solo-renga, haibun, cinquain, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry. Colleen's syllabic poetry has appeared in the Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal, and in “Hedgerow, a journal of small poems.” She’s won numerous awards from participating in the Carrot Ranch Rodeo, a yearly flash fiction contest sponsored by carrotranch.com. In 2020, she won first place in the Carrot Ranch Folk Tale or Fable category, with her story called “Why Wolf Howls at the Moon.” Colleen is a Sister of the Fey, where she pursues a pagan path through her writing. When she is not writing, she is reading. She also loves gardening and crocheting old-fashioned doilies into works of art.