Tag Archives: swords for a dead lady

Two fine days, Goldilocks and the problems of provoking uncontrollable lust



You know what it’s like, you turn your back on things and everything goes to pot. So I had to go down to London. This isn’t an issue, we have communications and stuff, and Virgin Rail worked really well. Arrived at Euston, looked round, was seriously impressed by this big yellow glowing thing they have in the sky down there. It’s so warm and bright; I really think we ought to have one. Mind you when it was up there in the sky next day as well, I decided they were just showing off.

But anyway I’d organised a bed for the night and I shambled along to the fine establishment where said bed was located. I was given a key, made my way to the room, and there, fast asleep in the bed, was a person.

“I bet they’ve eaten my porridge as well,” wasn’t quite my first thought, but it came pretty close. Anyway I left, gently closing the door after me and returned to the reception. There was a frantic checking of computer screens and I was issued with another key, and made my way to that one. Success, nobody about, a bed to call mine own.

Anyway I dumped my gear, wandered out to meet up with an old friend, had something to eat and drifted happily back at a reasonable hour. And so to bed.

At about half past one in the morning I was woken by something. It’s London; you’re always being woken by something. Even ear plugs can only keep out so much. Anyway being awake I decided I might as well nip to the loo.

Now there isn’t an en-suite, but that’s not a problem. I had a pair of shorts on; I’d be perfectly dressed for Sydney and probably overdressed for Rio. Given the temperature they set central heating at in London, I was probably overdressed for London as well. So checking I had my key in my pocket (You see, I wasn’t born yesterday) I made my way along to the loo.

Coming back I met security. Whether this was as a result of them investigating whatever had woken me up I didn’t ask, but I nodded courteously to him as he passed. He asked if I was lost and I said no. Then he said, “If you’re wandering about the corridors at night you really ought to wear more.”

I nodded politely and returned to my room. I can see his point. Whilst it might be a while since me walking about bare chested has induced uncontrollable lust in anybody, it’s not a risk I ought to be taking.


But anyway, in case you might fancy something to read when waiting for the onset of uncontrollable lust, could I recommend ‘Swords for a Dead Lady’ available in both paperback and e-book.




Tis the season (to be offended)

full of people

You can tell it’s winter, there’s a chill in the air. It’s so cold that two brass monkeys knocked on our workshop door and asked if I did any brazing. In fact it was so cold that several ‘newspapers’ stopped printing pictures of topless models because it couldn’t find any girls willing to take their clothes off. OK so perhaps not quite but you get the idea.

Today I was out looking sheep and it was a bit on the cool side. There’s still grass for them, and when Sal and I went into a field, each bunch would glance at Sal and pattern recognition would immediately take over.

Teeth?   Snap

Teeth mounted in long muzzle?   Snap

Ears, two, cocked up?     Snap

Is it watching us?     Watching us, it’s never taken its damned eyes off us!

With this the sheep begin to move away, forming a defensive huddle and then turn and stare accusingly at their potential tormentor.

But today was different. You see, because it’s cold, we’ve got the fire lit. (Just don’t even think of trying to get central heating into our house). So of course I’m recycling wood as heat. And whilst looking sheep I’ll take a bag with me and any suitable bits of wood will be dropped in it for burning. And as I walked across the field, I moved the bag from one shoulder to the other. This produced the distinctive sound of a cake bag being moved. Within seconds the sheep that had formed the huddle fifty yards away were running towards us. Sal, her teeth, ears and whatever was totally ignored, it was winter and here was man with a feed bag. It had to be lunch time.

They were sadly disappointed but still, winter is drawing on and sooner or later we’ll have to start giving them supplementary feed.

But I quite like this season. It’s November so obviously it must be Christmas. According to some enthusiasts Christmas now starts on the afternoon of Remembrance Sunday! But along with Christmas we get those who demand that we don’t wish them merry Christmas, and those who remand that we only wish them merry Christmas, and a score of shades of opinion in between.

Indeed, tis the season to be offended. And this year, we’ve got a real gem here in little old England.

The Church of England produced a short advert, people saying the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve heard it but never seen it, and it lasts a full sixty seconds. This was to be shown in cinemas. Except that Digital Cinema Media (DCM), which handles adverts in all the big cinema chains, has refused to allow it to be screened.

DCM has told the Church that this advert risked “upsetting or offending audiences.” Further more (and doubtless with much pious finger wagging on DCM’s part,) it has pointed to its policy document. This bars commercials that advertised “any religion, faith or equivalent systems of belief” or “any part” of any such religion or faith.

So that’s perfectly clear then.

Except email correspondence between the Church and DCM which has been released to the media shows that in July a member of the company’s sales team offered the Church a 55% discount if they signed a deal for the ad campaign. What the blue blazes did they think the Church of England was going to advertise? Car sales? Sofas? Time share holidays? You really would have thought that the clue was in the name, ‘Church of England.’ Call me old fashioned but I’d have suspected they were a religious organisation with a name like that.

So at the moment matters might well rest in the hands of lawyers. The problem is, DCM is going to be awfully short of adverts this December. After all they cannot mention Christmas (or any part of any such religion or faith), or the solstice, or have Christmas carols in an advert sound track, or pictures of yule logs, holly and ivy (because paganism is a religion too you know and they might also be offended.)

As far as I can work out, those advertising with DCM are restricted to wishing viewers, “A festive mid-winter commercial festival”.

Anyway I’m quite enjoying this one. I do rather like it when the ‘oh so correct’ brigade end up wiggling on the skewer they’ve managed to hurl themselves onto.

But it struck me that I am failing in my duties. Christmas is coming. I notice that there are not many who are mean enough to use lack of belief as an excuse for not giving presents. In my more cynical moments I suspect there is an even smaller group who use their lack of belief as a reason for not receiving them.

But still, when you’re buying presents, I have paperbacks available. These are the perfect present to give if you wish to offend anybody with no sense of humour, no imagination, and a far too precious regard for the sanctity of great literature.

Go on, you know you want to. Available from all good on-line book shops and you can order them from real bookshops as well. Or you could just buy them for yourself and ensure you do have a good Christmas. (Or insert any other festival/non-festival of choice here)

four books





Grumpy old man, strike one!

An older chap, probably my age when I come to think about it, was being interviewed for a job. The interviewers were probably two generations younger than him, frightfully intense, frightfully correct, and there was a clash of cultures just waiting to happen.

One interviewer then asked him, “Do you have any weaknesses?”

It’s the sort of ‘right on’ question you’re apparently supposed to ask now. Whether it’s to give the applicant a chance to show how smoothly they lie or how good their bluffing is I haven’t a clue. But anyway they asked him this question. So he thought about it and said, “My honesty.”

One of the intense and oh so correct young things said earnestly, “I don’t think honesty can be a weakness.”
The old lad just looked at him and said, “I don’t give a damn what you think.”

Me, I think, I’m getting there.

It might be a symptom but I’m getting increasingly sick of the contemptuous hate filled postings that we’re getting on Facebook. I’m beginning to think a lot of people should get out more.

Listening to men of my Father’s generation talking (which I did when I was a lad and was working with them), they’d been about, mixed with people. The war pretty well meant that you travelled. As one chap said, “Live with somebody in a tank for two years and you stop worrying about whether he’s a bluidy toff or not.”

I remember one chap talking affectionately about a girl he knew. She’d been in the land army and had been sent to the farm he’d been working on. Spoke with a plum in her mouth, swore like a trooper when a horse stood on her foot, shared a woodbine when they were sheltering under a dike from the rain. Was a pal and taught him to dance so that he had the confidence to ask out a lass he fancied.

And now people seem to live in self reinforcing silos, allowing themselves the luxury of ‘hating’ people who are so obviously stupid that they support a different political party.

For God’s sake get a life.

Some of this is my fault. I’ve been on Facebook for years. I had an account for four years before I ever posted (or even looked at my page) because, wearing my freelance journalist hat, a lot of google searches used to lead to Facebook.

But then I became a writer and had books to sell and of course ‘you have to be on Facebook.’

So I’m on Facebook. But as a writer you’re supposed to have two pages, one for you as a writer and one for you as a person. So you can keep your life in separate compartments.

Except I’ve never worked like that, I’ve got one life and I’m living it all the time. So on my Facebook page I get stuff from family, friends who are real friends I’ve known for years, people I went to school with who it’s good to get back in touch with, people who apparently think I’m a writer and they obviously collect writers, and other writers who hope that by linking up with me they might somehow sell another book. (Given that this is why I’m on Facebook in the first place so I’m hardly well placed to moan about it.)

Anyway I’ve come up with a cunning plan. I want an all-purpose post I can just stick in Facebook discussions that irritate me. Save me wasting valuable time taking part in them.

Can't stop now someone is wrong on the internet

So I’ve come up with a few things that people might just want to remember

Are the Republics/Democrats/Socialists/Tories criminal scum planning to destroy the economy and our way of life?

Remember Plato

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

If you don’t like it, get off your backside, go out there and participate, stand for office.

Then again, are you angered by sad loners getting guns or whatever and killing or stalking people or whatever?

Well check out this person’s blog.


But short cut for those with busy lives, it’s suggested that the easy way to stop loners doing crazy things is to befriend them and stop them being loners.

But then that would mean actually getting off your backside and getting out there and doing something.

Seek enlightenment?


But really, the answer is always just switch off the chuffing screen and go out there and do something real, with real people. You’ll feel better.

But before you do, just buy one of my books


Enjoy the quiet life of a middle aged cartographer. Well it was quiet until somebody finds the naked body of a young woman hastily buried in a marsh. The journey to discover her identity and hunt down her killer leads our protagonists across the Land of the Three Seas, through ambush, civil strife and even light opera.

As a reviewer commented, “

Swords for a Dead Lady follows Benor Dorfinngil through an intricate plot of murder and intrigue in a highly developed fantasy world with a rich caste of characters.

This is a book has well developed characters and a good plot, but what makes it a real joy to read is the depth of background. This is not only original, with none of the cliches or tired formulae that so often bring the fantasy genre down, but superbly detailed. The reader can walk with Benor and the other characters through a world both curious and distinctly human, with the geography, history and demography all ready set out instead of created merely for the convenience of the plot. The author clearly has a great deal of experience with the worlds of fantasy as well, and of the practicalities of life in a low tech world, allowing him to avoid common pitfalls and present the reader with a highly entertaining and polished work.”

A Great Leap Sideways

Apparently it was Al Boliska who said, “Do you realize if it weren’t for Edison we’d be watching TV by candlelight?”

Well as you know I’ve got this interesting relationship with technology. Not so much ‘love-hate’ as ‘apathetic’

The fact that mobile phones have largely passed me by is well known. I carry a cheap old nokia mainly because the authorities get upset if they realise you’ve got a loaded Verey pistol on your person. But I use the phone as a Verey pistol. It’s almost as good but you don’t get the pretty lights.

Same with e-books; I write them but I’ve not got anything to read them on other than a desktop PC.

So I thought I’d do something about this.

Now I suppose the easy thing to do would be to get a kindle or something similar. But actually, after discussion with publishers etc I’ve decided to do it differently.

You see, when Safhket published Justice 4.1 the decision was taken to produce a paperback as well as an ebook. The paperback reached a lot of people who otherwise would never have seen the book.

When the next book in the series comes out in March, it’s going to get launched twice. In March it’ll come out as an ebook, but then later in the year, it’ll be launched as a paperback. This is because that launch will coincide, hopefully, with a range of miniatures to go with the books.

And then I’ve had a look at the fantasy.  They’re all ebooks, and weighing things in the balance, looking at sales, and the reception the books have had; we’ve come to the decision that they ought to be published in paperback as well, so the process is now underway. No dates yet, just vaguely ‘Summer/Autumn’ before they’re all out there.

And to coincide with them coming out in paperback I have bowed to pressure to write more about Benor Dorfinngil and his adventures. There are now six Benor short stories written and they’re with the editor. Together their common title is ‘The Port Naain Intelligencer’. Each is a ‘stand alone’ detective story/investigation. Each is about 16,000 to 20,000 words and the idea is they’ll appear as ebooks, priced at £0.99.  They’ll come out, on a regular basis, one a quarter, and at the end of the year, if they’re well received, the year’s stories will be published together in a paperback, probably with a few bits and bobs of other stuff.

If you’ve not come across Benor, then The Cartographer’s Apprentice is as good a place to start as any.


All this is ready to roll, but dates and suchlike are inevitably tentative because there’s a lot of work for a lot of people and they’re all busy people.

I’ve even got a couple of 8000 word Benor short stories, set in Port Naain, that will appear, free, at some point. I know, wash my mouth out with soap and water, but it’s both a way of saying thank-you to those who have been so loyal buying the books, and also it’s the ‘crack-dealers gambit’ to hook new readers who haven’t somehow ever got round to trying the Benor Dorfinngil experience.

So you have been warned, Port Naain awaits.


OK, so who’s paying the bill?

A man walks into a bar, and tells the bartender to line up seven glasses of his finest whiskey. The bartender does so, and then watches in astonishment as the man quickly goes down the line, downing each with one gulp.

The bartender says: “wow, I’ve never seen anyone drink like THAT”

The man replies, “You would drink like this too, if you had what I have”

“Why… What do you have?” said the bartender.

Man: “Sixty-five pence”

Now then, you might have heard of William Boyd. (Who so far as I know always pays for his drinks.)

He is the author of ten novels which won lots of prizes and at least one of his books is described as ‘best selling.’

And now he’s written another book. It’s a 76 page story and it’s published by Jaguar Land Rover USA. It’s free on kindle. Apparently the book was commissioned by Landrover and features a Landrover Defender (as well as the more usual main characters.)


And people are asking, should writers be doing this?

The problem I have with the whole thing is that I’ve been a freelance journalist/writer for over thirty years. The money that it brought in was necessary, because trying to make a living out of livestock on a small farm is real bed of roses (sounds great but get too close it’s all thorns and sh*t)

Earlier today, reading the paper, I read an article on the Publisher, Emap. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/media/11314679/Publisher-Emap-recovers-after-10-year-slump.html

Things are looking up for them. That’s nice, over the years I’ll undoubtedly have made money out of them for various articles written for various editors. One set of figures did come as something of a ‘wake-up call’.

“In 2008, digital represented 12pc of our revenues,” said Ms Christie-Miller. “Print publishing represented 69pc and events 19pc. Today, print is 38pc, events are 40pc and digital is 22pc.”

Where’s the money? It’s not in writing, whether digital or in print, it’s in events. I’ll come back to this.

But should writers take money for ‘product placement?’

One issue is that the boundaries between advertising and ‘art’ have been fuzzy for a while, way back there was that ‘romance’ that was done as part of a series of coffee adverts (Nescafe was it?)

And look at Meercats! Advertising hasn’t done them any harm

I know there have been times when people have said to me that the adverts are the only thing on telly worth watching.

So perhaps we’re moving back to patronage. You want your chapel ceiling painting; who are you going to call?

You splash out serious money and you get this. (Eventually)


OK so it’s perhaps a bit exclusive and not everybody can see it all at once, but eventually word leaks out and the great unwashed get to stare at it as well


We have a problem. There seems to be a long term trend. You see, if the actual viewers/readers aren’t willing to pay for books, or music or whatever and expect stuff cheap, then somebody has to fund it; because otherwise the best stuff won’t happen.

Great writers who could turn out good stuff will end up working overtime to be able to afford the family holiday/help pay off the mortgage/whatever, rather than writing another book, because whereas ten years ago, that book made a contribution to the family finances, now writing it is just dead time. A luxury you allow yourself when you have a bit of free time and the kids don’t need chauffeuring somewhere.

So what can we do?
Well musicians have it easy, they can do live performances. Everybody likes a good gig, and if you’re lucky you might make a few quid extra selling a couple of CDs you had made.

The problem is, whenever I’ve heard of people wanting authors to do readings, they’re not expecting to pay them, because they assume that the author will perform free, ‘because they’ve got a book to sell.’

So perhaps William Boyd has squared the circle. Perhaps he has spotted the way forward. A friend of mine who is an erotic novelist has already been selling ‘bespoke fiction.’ He has occasionally been commissioned to write ‘one off’ stories which will never be published but will exist only for the person who has commissioned them.

I could do that. At my standard freelance rate, you can have your own fantasy or SF book for £200 per thousand words! Throw in an extra twenty quid and we’d probably be able to get it done as a print on demand hardback for you. OK so it isn’t the Sistine chapel but it’s an art work entirely of your own.

And then there’s the whole field of events. I said I’d get back to this topic didn’t I. Well rather than writing the book, or in parallel with writing the book, for discerning clients, we would offer not merely ‘Swords for a Dead Lady’


but perhaps ‘An evening with Benor Dorfinngil.’

And they thought product placement was getting a writer into something of an ethical dilemma!


If you’ve not met Benor, then perhaps you really ought to read this?

As a reviewer said, “These are four excellent short stories introducing the early days of Benor. Each tale pulses with humour as the well-drawn characters engage in various adventures. Each story features great dialogue, lots of good food, wine and ale, all taking place in a believable and well-drawn world where the streets pulse with life. The reader gets a powerful sense of being there in a real world with real people going about their real lives.

I look forward to reading the next book and wish I’d read this one far sooner.”

Move along, nothing so see.


A few thoughts from writers. “A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”

– Sidney Sheldon

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.”

– Edgar Rice Burroughs

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”

– Harlan Ellison

I had thought of writing something literary, something really fancy. After all, I’m supposed to be a writer and I’m supposed to be selling books. So as I went to look sheep this morning I thought I’d mentally map out what I was going to say.

But checking on the fat lambs I heard bleating. Now this is from the far end of the field they’re at and that corner has a lot of rushes in because it’s a bit wet. And a wall of drizzle had started rolling in, and visibility was dropping and I was starting to get wet.

And then, in a tree in the hedge up above where the bleating was probably coming from I noticed two crows sitting.

Now crows sitting in a tree isn’t a problem. If they’re sitting in a tree, then they’re still waiting. So I made my way across the field towards the bleating and eventually, as I picked my way through the rushes, I saw the lamb. Not a big one, perhaps 25kg, with his head caught in the netting.

Getting a lamb out of netting need not be rocket science. Their sole method of extracting themselves is to push forward. This never works. Occasionally a big lamb can break off fence posts holding the netting in place, but it’s a limited sort of victory.

You grasp the lamb firmly and pull it backwards. This is something the lamb never seems to consider but it works every time. You then release the lamb and it runs off to join its mates.

And the crows fly off; annoyed because you got to it before it weakened so they couldn’t take its eyes.

And as I walked back across the field it suddenly struck me. Who was the lamb bleating to, it had been weaned for months, mother was long gone, its mates are as ineffectual at dealing with fences as it is, and anyway they were ignoring it. But it bleated. If it hadn’t I’d probably never have noticed it.

And at this point, walking back, I gave up on doing anything literary. After all I’m a stockman. I suppose I write a bit but before everything else, I’m a stockman.

When my first book was published, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Swords-Dead-Lady-Jim-Webster-ebook/dp/B006C4C8OO a friend of mine who bought it commented that nobody but me would have written it.

The mentioned one section, which I thought I’d quote at this point.

“An hour later Yallou returned with a short stout man with ears that stuck out like jug handles and the reddest nose Benor had ever seen.

“Meet Tilosh, livestock dealer.”

Tilosh added, “- and I am a livestock dealer, not an out-of-work bandit trying to make an honest living.”

“What’s more he can probably get Benor inside the caravanserai.”

“That I can, provided he can dress less like a plump pimp at a society wedding.” He studied Benor, tilting his head to one side.

“Ever worked livestock?”

“I worked half a season as a drover west of Tarsteps as a way of working my passage.”

Tilosh nodded a third time. “What sort of orids will we be buying now?”

“The tail end of last year’s lambs that have been over wintered because they wouldn’t finish off grass last autumn;”

”What’ll they be like.”

“Big, wooden, too tall, and lean, but there’s damn all else on the market and if you can get them away for killing before the new crop of lambs are through, then you’ll make good money.”

At this point Tilosh smiled. “Tomorrow you and I will drop round to that caravanserai. If they’ve nothing to sell, they might be wanting to buy, and either way whilst they’re wasting my time, you can get a look round. But change your clothes first.”

Yep, I’m a stockman

(Oh and ‘Swords for a Dead Lady’ is only £2.49 from Amazon and is available from all reputable ebook dealers, and some of the better disreputable ones)

As a reviewer commented, “I am a keen reader of the fantasy genre and looked forward to reading this book. The story is engaging and there’s lots of action, some humour and a little pathos. The characters all worked well for me, especially Benor, Cartographer (and much else!) The story deals with a land which has its own races of people, its own herds of animals and I found it interesting to imagine this other world which is in many ways an equivalent of our medieval world. There’s plenty of intrigue here and the story has potential for a sequel.

Jim Webster has an engaging story telling style and a good knowledge of this genre. His writing has a gentle humour which comes naturally from the characters and their dialogue. It’s not played for belly-laughs but is very effective. There were some real gems, which I very much enjoyed. ‘He spat on the floor and missed’ really tickled me! I look forward to more of the same.”