Hello everyone. I very honoured to be once again to be able to bring you not only a new story but also news of two new books from our own,our very own Jim Webster.
Here is the timetable for the blog tour .
A fine residence.
A man who doesn’t pay his bills never lacks for correspondence
Be careful what you pretend to be
Call yourself a writer
Every last penny
It all comes out in the wash
Annette Rochelle Aben
The alternative career of Dilkerton Thallawell.
The automated caricordia of Darset Dweel.
The dark machinations of Flontwell Direfountain.
Water under the bridge
Who you know, not what you know
So now we are back in one of my favourite places Port Naain. Here for our delectation is a great story to kindle our interest.
CALL YOURSELF A WRITER
Call yourself a writer?
I first met Staffin Plume when he was a student at the University in Port Naain. He attended some of my lectures on poetry and came to my attention largely because he actually did the exercises I set for students to tackle in their own time. Not only that but his answers were thoughtful, well written and in his own handwriting. Even if
he had hired somebody else to do the work for him, he had shown me the consideration of writing it out again in his own hand. Indeed I was so intrigued by this that I engaged him in discussion on his answers over a glass of wine. It was soon
obvious that he had done the work himself and that he had continued to think about
the topic even when the work had been handed in.
Hence when he left the university I rather expected to hear more about him. After all
he had expressed the intention of becoming a writer. Given his general competence and mental acuity I had no doubt that I would soon see his name mentioned in the appropriate places. Indeed I was quite looking forward to reading whatever genre he had decided to grace with his talent.
Thus it was something of a surprise when nothing was forthcoming. So I asked what
had become of him and somebody told me they had seen Staffin labouring down on the wharves. This came as a surprise, because his family, whilst not wealthy, was
adequately well-to-do and they could have got him a well-paid clerk’s job with no trouble.
A fortnight later I saw Staffin in the distance, striding out along Ropewalk, carrying well wrapped bundles like some private courier, and a month after that I was present when he delivered a clay pot bearing dubious markings to Gass Tweel in the Sattir’s Drop. To get out of the bar he had to draw a blade on somebody who tried to block
his path. By blade I’m talking of something which, if it wasn’t a sword, was a passably good approximation of one. It was obvious that he was now acting as a runner for some of Port Naain’s less reputable spice merchants.
Just as there is a wide array of spices, there is an equally wide array of spice enthusiasts. So we now have the spice merchants that will pander to the whims of
well-heeled customers. There are spices which are claimed to be aphrodisiacs, there are spices which sooth digestion, and there are spices which claim to help you sleep.
Indeed there are spices which the vendors claim with help you see the future.
Frankly in some cases the future involves spending most of the next day in a stinking privy. The problem isn’t merely the spice, the problem can be whatever rubbish the vendor has stirred into the spice to increase the profit margin.
I lost track of Staffin for a while and then I saw him slip surreptitiously into a house
where I was performing. The host was not a patron of mine, I was merely hired to give an element of graciousness to an event which otherwise degenerated into farce with a group of third rate musicians brawling with the mime artists. Still I had taken the precaution of taking my honorarium in kind the minute the situation started to degenerate. Thus it was, as I quietly wrapped bottles in sausages (which stops them
clanking together,) before stuffing them into the inside pockets of my jacket; that I
saw Staffin sneak in carrying a crate of spirits. I greeted him in a friendly manner. After all I suspect that in retrospect we would both have preferred not to be there, and asked what was in the bottles. He passed me
one for my inspection and I perused the label. “Stilmoon’s special reserved. Oak aged spirit infused with a dozen subtle herbs and spices. Guaranteed to protect the drinker from distempers caused by contact with diseased parents, night air,sedentary habits, anger, wet feet and abrupt changes of temperature. One small
glass provides protection for the entire day.”
I handed him the bottle back. “Does it work?”
He shrugged. “Given by the amount they’re getting through in this house, one has to assume that the man of the house is a philanthropist providing protection for everybody in the street. And that includes staff living out as well as staff living in.”
With that he quietly departed and I returned to the task of using sausages as a packing material for the bottles. I confess I wasn’t tempted by the Special Reserve, instead restricting myself to the better wines available.
It was perhaps a couple of months later I was walking down Ropewalk and was
stopped by Simony Belltether. She was another student of mine from the University and I remembered that Staffin had been assiduously courting her during that period.
We chatted a little and then, somewhat tentatively, she broached the issue of Staffin.
When their relationship started he was almost endlessly attentive. Marriage seemed
to be an inevitability. Eventually when she took him home to meet her parents, her mother was impressed with him. Indeed she was so vocal singing his praises that Simony almost began to have doubts. After all what young lady wants a gentleman
admirer her mother entirely approves of? Of late Staffin had been far less attentive, and when he was with her had about him a distracted air and seemed nervous.
Simony’s mother had shifted her stance from unmitigated approval to dark suspicion.
Her father on the other hand was no help whatsoever, merely muttering something
about, “Perhaps he’s busy at work?”
Simony was genuinely torn. She wanted me to speak to Staffin and in a roundabout way point out to him that he had one last chance. Either he had to show some commitment or she would break off the engagement. I promised that if I saw him and
got the chance, I’d try speaking to him.
It was three days later that I next saw him. He was walking across Stonecutter’s Wharf and I caught up with him and just fell into conversation. Eventually I started to bring the conversation around to more important topics.
“Whatever happened to your plans to become a writer?”
Staffin just shrugged. “I cannot be a writer until I’ve got some life experience. I’ve got to experience the full gamut of emotions. Then I’ll be able to write.”
I had to bite my tongue at that one. Given my rate of progress I could be in my late fifties before I managed to experience the full gamut of emotions.
“What about Simony?” I asked. “I heard she was thinking of breaking off the engagement because she never sees you.”
His face fell, but then he brightened up a little. “Well I suppose that if she does, the
emotional turmoil I experience will be invaluable. Then I can write about such things.”
That was too much. I pushed him off the wharf into the estuary below. As he foundered through water and mud towards the rope somebody had thrown him I
shouted, “Alternatively you could just make it up like the rest of us do.”
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 education.
So come on, treat yourself, because you’re worth it.
Before you go here is what Jim says about himself.
“I live in South Cumbria, which is as nice a part of the world as any to be honest. Too old to play computer games and too young to watch daytime television. I’ve got a wife and three daughters, no dress sense and a liking for good cappuccino.
To make a living I sort of farm, sort of write and sort of help out where I’m wanted. I suppose one day I’ll grow up and do something properly.”
Don’t grow up yet Jim.