Pontifications along a road less travelled, when things get out of hand.

 

romeo_and_juliet-frank_dicksee

 

I learned long ago that people don’t read blogs about authors going on about the trials and tribulations of being authors. The world at large tends to cast a jaundiced eye in their direction and suggests, helpfully, that they might like to consider getting a proper job.
So I now want to hand the situation over to your imaginations. I want you to forget that I just spent over an hour walking round with Sal checking sheep. Dismiss entirely from your minds the fact that I spent a fair bit of that absentmindedly slapping the cleggs that landed on my arms or neck. Still it might be some sort of consolation for you to realise that I did at least shower before having my coffee.
So I want you to imagine the scene. Now, allowed briefly to play at being the author, I am sitting in the shade, looking out over the rolling vistas. I’m sipping an excellent mug of coffee, and my words are being taken down by a secretary who sits behind me (thus I’m not sure which of them it is.)
Somebody did ask me how I got into the writing business thing in the first place.

Once upon a time, as well as farming, I was working as a contractor for one of the farming/landowning lobby organisations. I was their National Livestock Adviser. Anyway after doing it for about ten years they finally believed me when I told them they needed somebody doing it full time. They then told me that it would be London Based, and I wished them joy in it and hoped they hired somebody they were happy with.

So I had a bit of time of my hands and probably needed to get ten years of dealing with EU regulation out of my head. So I wrote a fantasy novel, ‘Swords for a Dead Lady,’ and Benor Dorfinngil, Cartographer, bestrode the globe like a colossus.

Well to be fair to Benor, actually he rode through it in a thoughtful manner, and for somebody who could be described as a serial philanderer, he proved to be a remarkably moral character.

So much so that in the second book I wrote about him, ‘Dead Man Riding East’ he accidentally acquired a wife.

Benor novel covers
I did a couple more novels in the same background (all available in paperback. Ignore Amazon’s comment that they’re out of print. That’s just Amazon playing silly beggars because I haven’t used their favoured print on demand service. Order them and they will come.)  but these novels didn’t involve Benor.

Untitled

 

 

But by this time I realised that, yes, I could write a couple of novels a year, but frankly it was disheartening to see them just drop into the bottomless abyss that is indie publishing.
Anyway talking to people, listening and thinking, it struck me that the ebook allowed for the novella form to come back. So I experimented with that. I wrote ‘The Cartographer’s Apprentice.’

The Cartographers Apprentice

 

Basically Benor being married and sort of settled wasn’t really up for yet more adventures. He was somewhere in his fifties when I introduced him to the world, which meant that left plenty of room for his ‘youth.’
Not only that but I’d made a number of throwaway remarks about Benor’s past in the other two books. The Cartographer’s Apprentice gave me a chance to fill in the detail behind those remarks. So this collection of stories took Benor from finishing his training through his first professional engagements.

Then I attended a convention, selling my books (something possible with paperbacks), and a rather fierce and determined young lady asked me about ‘female roles in my books.’ Given at one point I was living with my wife, three daughters, my mother, sixty milk cows and even the dog was a bitch, I am not one who succumbs easily to the myth of the poor helpless female.

Anyway I pondered this. I couldn’t see any problem with the female characters in my books. But it struck me I’d start something new. I invented Shena, the mud jobber, and her husband Tallis Steelyard, the poet. To be fair, Shena was always going to be the grown up in this relationship. But still I tried writing the first of the Port Naain Intelligencer stories and it just bogged. It was just hard work. Then suddenly, as Shena was leaving the barge, she stepped over the prone body of their sleeping lodger. The lodger turned out to be Benor who had somehow insinuated himself into the story. From that point on the story came alive for me and the first collection of six was written. A collection because you can read them in any order, six because that’s what I wrote. Not only that, they were all written and ready for publishing before I published the first one. My idea was to try and copy the old pulp magazine idea where you didn’t wait for the next great novel; you just automatically picked up the next copy of the magazine when it came out.

Port Naain Intelligencer covers together

 

But you’ll notice that I’ve now discovered Tallis Steelyard. Mike Rose-Steel, my editor, is also a poet and he asked to borrow Tallis and write some poems for him. This is how Lambent dreams was born. He wrote the poems and the literary criticism; I had Benor write the stuff which puts it all in context for the person who doesn’t dwell in Port Naain.

Lambent Dreams Cover5

 

 

And of course, Tallis is now an author on Amazon, so of course he must have a blog. I created a monster! I’ve worked out I have over 400,000 words of Tallis Steelyard stories, some published in ebook form.

three book covers

2nd three tallis books

 

But as an aside, if you’ve got a blog, you’ve got to keep the blog going. I discovered that the hard way. In 2016, with the referendum campaign, I got so hacked off by the total nonsense being spouted by both sides I didn’t do a blog post for a couple of months, because otherwise I’d have upset far too many people.

It took me to the end of 2017 before I had more people stopping by and reading the blog than I had in 2015.

So with Tallis, I’ve been determined to produce at least a story a week. In case you don’t know it, its’ across at

https://tallissteelyard.wordpress.com/

 

But anyway, I’d always intended to do a second Port Naain Intelligencer collection, another six Benor stories.

Yet I suddenly realised that to an awful lot of people Benor was just part of the world of Tallis Steelyard. So how to educate them?
When I released ‘A licence to print money’

A licence to print money

 

I decided I’d have another Benor story running on the blog tour. My intention was to make it complete. I know that a lot of people hate cliff hangers, and I didn’t want to produce half a tale and then charge people for the last bit.

So this story, ‘A measured response’ ran for nine episodes and had a beginning, middle and end.

Even as it ran on the blog tour I realised that there was more to tell. So I wrote the extra bit, which effectively is the final third. My cunning plan is that those people who liked the blog tour have a choice. They can be happy with the ending they got, or they can invest a little and see what else happened.

 

And what’s next?
Well there’s more Tallis stuff being edited up and ready to go, and of course the Port Naain Intelligencer is back. There will be more Benor.

 

 

 

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38 thoughts on “Pontifications along a road less travelled, when things get out of hand.

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt June 29, 2018 at 12:10 pm Reply

    Sounds like your creations are running the show. Which isn’t a bad thing.

    • jwebster2 June 29, 2018 at 12:45 pm Reply

      absolutely, I just wish they were as keen to handle the publicity
      The idea of being able to just send Benor and Tallis out to woo readers in person has a lot going for it 🙂

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt June 29, 2018 at 12:58 pm

        They have nothing else to do, in between books. You, however, have more than enough on your plate.

        I’m getting more and more hermit-like.

      • jwebster2 June 29, 2018 at 1:19 pm

        exactly, and they’re both far better suited to the role than I am

  2. Stevie Turner June 29, 2018 at 1:21 pm Reply

    Another entertaining blog, Jim. For years it was the opposite for me – I lived in an all-male household. The balance has evened out now that the boys have left home. I remember the row of size 10 boots that if you tripped over them, they didn’t move…

    • jwebster2 June 29, 2018 at 1:23 pm Reply

      I can just picture the boots 🙂

      • Stevie Turner June 29, 2018 at 8:34 pm

        Steel capped of course…

      • jwebster2 June 29, 2018 at 8:37 pm

        you make it sound as if there might be another sort 😉

  3. patriciaruthsusan June 29, 2018 at 1:26 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    The history of Jim Webster’s writing from the beginning and brought up-to-date.

  4. patriciaruthsusan June 29, 2018 at 1:50 pm Reply

    🙂

  5. M T McGuire June 29, 2018 at 9:53 pm Reply

    Excellent news. Love the Intelligencer series and love Tallis too.

    • jwebster2 June 30, 2018 at 5:46 am Reply

      I’m hoping to keep them both coming out with reasonable regularity so people know there’s always another one coming along in a month or two 🙂

      • M T McGuire June 30, 2018 at 12:02 pm

        Excellent. I have them stored for my brief spare moments of reading – amazingly the phone is good for this!

      • jwebster2 June 30, 2018 at 1:53 pm

        A friend of mine does the same, gives him something to read on the train or when he’s waiting for somebody 🙂

  6. jenanita01 June 30, 2018 at 8:08 am Reply

    Reblogged this on anita dawes and jaye marie.

  7. jenanita01 June 30, 2018 at 8:09 am Reply

    Still don’t understand where you find the time, but I’m very glad you do…

    • jwebster2 June 30, 2018 at 9:30 am Reply

      The Tallis anecdotes I can come up after about an hour or so’s thought, sometimes something that happened during the day will provoke one. I just have to let Tallis tell it 🙂
      The Port Naain Intelligencer stories are harder.
      First I want a plot, and a way it can be discovered without the plotter having to be a fool.
      Then I want the way people react to the plot and also what happens when they know it’s uncovered.
      And finally I want the other plots that are going on around it. In ‘A Measured Response’ there is one major plot, but at least two others that might not actually be illegal but that the plotter wouldn’t want to come to light 🙂

      • jenanita01 July 1, 2018 at 9:24 am

        Wonderful stuff, but time consuming?

      • jwebster2 July 1, 2018 at 1:05 pm

        Embarrassingly the ones people seem to love the most are often those when I sit down at the computer without the faintest idea what I’m about to write 🙂
        Those I hone carefully are received politely

      • jenanita01 July 2, 2018 at 8:51 am

        I’m all for ‘happy accidents’ but I just wish we could encourage them a bit more!

      • jwebster2 July 2, 2018 at 9:22 am

        Tallis always claims that people jingling silver in his presence provoke no end of happy accidents 🙂

      • jenanita01 July 3, 2018 at 8:22 am

        So that’s what’s wrong around here… where is all my jingling?

      • jwebster2 July 3, 2018 at 8:31 am

        the problem is that at the moment I’ve got to keep my day job so that I can maintain Tallis in a standard to which he feels he ought to become accustomed! 🙂

      • jenanita01 July 4, 2018 at 11:22 am

        The lead character in my WIP, is brandishing a whip at the moment. Not working fast enough for him, obviously!

      • jwebster2 July 4, 2018 at 9:28 pm

        Yes, at the moment I’ve written a bare 2000 words since Sunday, been so busy!

  8. jbwye July 2, 2018 at 7:23 am Reply

    Wonderful! Now I’ll never be in want of a read. You’re a marvel, Jim.

    • jwebster2 July 2, 2018 at 7:25 am Reply

      and some of them are in paperback so you can give them as Christmas presents 🙂
      Actually, when I saw how much I’d done for Benor and Tallis, it came as a shock to me as well!

  9. kph52013 July 2, 2018 at 11:14 am Reply

    What is it about authors? We just have to keep going, and going! Really enjoyed this!

    • jwebster2 July 2, 2018 at 11:20 am Reply

      glad you enjoyed it. I suspect that writers write and that’s an end to it 🙂

  10. kph52013 July 2, 2018 at 11:23 am Reply

    Yes, and we learn as much about ourselves while writing as we do about our characters.

  11. kph52013 July 2, 2018 at 11:29 am Reply

    Oh yes! 🙂

  12. Lyn Horner July 2, 2018 at 3:25 pm Reply

    I have wondered how Tallis came to be. Thanks for explaining. Isn’t it amazing the twists and turns in a writer’s career.

    • jwebster2 July 2, 2018 at 4:31 pm Reply

      It is, I suddenly realised that far more people knew Tallis, but there is a lot more about Benor!

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