Category Archives: Just Stuff

A Licence to Print Money Episode 1

Benor is back! After the first critically acclaimed collection of the ‘Port
Naain Intelligencer’ novellas, by popular demand a second collection is on
its way!
Does that sound good?
Not sure if it grabs me.
But anyway Benor is the hero of the first fantasy novel I ever wrote and I’ve
followed his career through another novel and a series of novellas which
have the collective title of the Port Naain Intelligencer. Tallis Steelyard
appeared as an incidental character in those stories and being Tallis he
just took over.
The thing about the stories in the Port Naain Intelligencer collection, you
can read them in any order. It’s a bit like the Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote them in a particular order, but you can dip in and
out of them, you don’t need to start with volume one and work through them

But anyway I’ve just published, ‘A licence to print money: The Port Naain Intelligencer.’ It’s available on Amazon at

In it, Benor, who just wants to get paid for some work he’s done, struggles
against corrupt officials, bent bookies, and all manner of other problems.
On the positive side he does get to meet a Magistrate who is also a
performance poet, and young Mutt finds somebody who might even be tougher
than he is.

But it struck me that people have got used to me writing about Tallis
Steelyard and might need reintroducing to young Benor. So I decided that I’d
write another Port Naain Intelligencer tale, ‘A measured response,’ where
each chapter is a post on the blog tour. Follow the blog tour and you’ll
probably get to uncover the mystery, free and gratis. Cannot say better than
that can I?

For those of you who still love Tallis, his blog is still there at

And some more collections of anecdotes from Tallis Steelyard are in the
publishing pipeline.

And you can find my books at

Oh and I’ve got another blog which I write which is mainly sheep, quad bikes
and stuff. Or perhaps not?


A measured response
Episode 1

As a young cartographer, Benor Dorfinngil knew he would have to travel. On
the long road that had at length carried him from Toelar to Port Naain, he
had braved atrocious weather conditions, serious mining accidents,
anthropophagous beastmen, irate husbands and outraged fathers. All this he
had taken in his stride, asking for little in return.
It was when he arrived in Port Naain that he realised how bad things could
get. The beer rarely even aspired to be mediocre and was often undrinkable,
whilst the food in public dining places was rarely better than bland and
under-spiced, and at the worst, it was uneatable.
But as he got to know the city and made friends there, he finally realised
how one got a decent meal. Along with his friend and landlord, Tallis
Steelyard, he was attending the meeting of a gentlemen’s dining club.
Admittedly it was Tallis who had been invited as an after-dinner speaker;
Benor had merely ridden in on his friend’s coattails. But still he had dined
well. A thick vegetable soup rich with herbs and spices, piquant enough to
make the locals comment and to allow Benor to feel nostalgic. This was
followed by a slow cooked joint, so tender the meat fell off the bone.
Finally a selection of tarts, pasties and a well supplied cheeseboard. The
whole meal was accompanied by a selection of decent wines, poured with a
generous hand. All was well with the world and Benor was predisposed towards
goodwill and friendliness.
To be fair the other guests were welcoming. One, Grayer Thirsk, had stepped
down from a carriage at the door of the club as Benor and Tallis were
entering, and had greeted Tallis as a long lost brother. They briefly
ignored Benor, but he was too busy gazing with admiration at the attractive
and expensively dressed lady in the carriage. She winked at him and then
gave the coachman the order to move on. At this point Tallis remembered
himself enough to introduce Benor to Grayer and the three of them entered
the club as group.
So now the formal phase of the evening was drawing to a close. Tallis had
given his performance whilst the rest were engaged with the cheeseboard. His
collection of anecdotes, extemporised verses, (which Benor knew had been
produced with much toil the previous day) and banter with his fellow guests
had gone down well and now the group was giving its attention to the
important business of talking and drinking.
The guests drifted away from the debris littered table, leaving a few
devoted trenchermen to finish off the more interesting cheeses. The others
sat in deep comfortable chairs and talked in small groups. Benor was
wondering where to sit when Tallis approached him with Grayer Thirsk.
“Benor, I think you two need to talk, he claims he needs a cartographer.”
Benor gestured to a pair of armchairs near the wall that were currently
unoccupied. “Perhaps we could sit there?”
His companion agreed, took one of the chairs and Benor look the other. A
waiter appeared bearing a tray containing a number of empty glasses and a
selection of decanters filled with various spirits. His newfound
acquaintance took two glasses and poured a generous libation into them from
one of the decanters, apparently chosen at random.
“Master Dorfinngil, I believe you are not from around here?”
”Yes, I hail from Toelar and have arrived here by a long and somewhat
indirect route.” Benor had found the inhabitants of Port Naain to be
surprisingly parochial, seeming to assume that anybody born on the other
side of the mountains was a savage barely capable of conversing in grunts.
“Still, your friend Tallis assures me that you are a cartographer, and what
is more, you can be trusted to be discreet.”
“Pray call me Benor, everybody else does.” Benor was a little concerned
about the need for a circumspect cartographer. It was normally followed by
the revelation that the speaker had purchased, inherited or acquired by
dubious means, a treasure map of some sort and wished for aid in
understanding it.
“Thank you Benor; I have a pleasant enough farm, almost an estate, perhaps
thirty miles south of here in an agreeable and civilised part of Partann. It
just so happened that I was up on business and when Tallis mentioned your
skills I decided that I had to hire you. I need somebody to map my lands,
and incidentally make an estimate of their worth. Mind you it must be done
without anybody remarking on it.”
“The Cartographers’ Guild rates normally stipulate four alars a week, plus
an extra alar for each apprentice employed.”
“Oh we don’t need anybody else involved. I propose five alars a week and you
shall sleep in the house and dine with the family.”
This seemed an excellent offer. But before Benor could reply somebody in
another group rose, raised his glass and proposed a toast. “The gallant
condottieri of Port Naain.” He then drained his glass. Like everybody else
Benor stood, repeated the toast and drained his glass which was quickly
Now seated again he turned to Grayer Thirsk. He reckoned that his
prospective client was a little older than him but probably no more than
thirty. Was he perhaps valuing an inheritance with a view to paying off
debts? Certainly if he was contributing to the maintenance of the attractive
lady in the coach, it would be easy to run up debts.
“Obviously I’m very interested in your offer. Could you give me a few more
At this point somebody else stood up, “Gentlemen, I give you the ladies of
Port Naain. Unmatched for their beauty and their virtue.”
Benor rose to drink the toast even though he might have personally had his
doubts as to its veracity.
His glass refilled he sat down. Then he heard the voice of Tallis. “Of
course he can do it. Here’s an alar to prove that he can.” Benor was
immediately nervous. How on earth had Tallis come upon an alar? One gold
alar was a week’s wages in itself for an ordinary working man and few of
them ever crossed the path of a poet.
“Benor, these fellows don’t think you can climb out of that window and in by
that one.”
Benor hissed to Grayer Thirsk, “Put your details on a piece of paper and I’ll
see you later this week.” He then looked at the windows. They were high up
the wall; at least twice the height of a man. Still they were large enough
to get through. He assessed the placing of the furniture.
“I can do it, but I assume I’ll be allowed to open them both from the
inside. I could probably open one from the outside but this spares
There was a general mutter of agreement. So Benor slipped off his jacket,
climbed onto his chair and from there onto the sideboard. From the sideboard
it was an easy climb via a well secured stand of arms to a shallow ledge
that ran round the room at window height. He unfastened the window and
opened it fully. Then pressing himself close to the wall he moved along the
ledge until he came to the next window. The catch here was stiff but he got
it undone, opened the window and looked outside. This was in reality the
difficult bit, he’d hoped for a matching ledge along the outside of the
building, but there wasn’t one. On the other hand both windows had elaborate
architraves which would give his fingers plenty of grip, and between them
was a downspout which appeared firmly fastened.
With confidence born of long experience, a bottle of wine and two large
glasses of spirit, he swung himself out of the window and hung from the
architrave. He carefully moved along it and then with his leading, left,
hand he reached out and tugged at the downspout. It appeared well attached.
He grasped the spout and transferred his weight to it. It creaked a little
but Benor treated the noise with polite disdain and reached out with his
left hand to grasp the architrave of the next window. He then launched
himself across and pushed himself feet first through the open window,
turning as he did so and dropping gracefully down onto the sideboard.
There was a ripple of applause and somebody thrust another glass into his
hand. Grayer Thirsk announced, “Gentlemen, I give you Master Benor
Dorfinngil.” Along with the others Benor drained his glass. When the waiters
had recharged them he lifted his, “Gentlemen, I give you the hospitable folk
of Port Naain.”
It had all the makings of a long night.


The CONTRACT between heaven and earth

The CONTRACT between heaven and earth

By John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano

Thank you, Annette, for inviting us to join you today. We are so grateful to be featured on your lovely blog. With you we breathe in and exhale gratitude.

The Contract


Available on Kindle and Paperback

Kindle priced at $0.99 for the introduction.

The CONTRACT is a different story for writers John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano. For either of them, it is their first attempt at co-authorship. After a year of Hurricane Harvey and other challenges, they have created, what they have termed, an inspirational thriller that bridges heaven and earth.

Here is the blurb:

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance, and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires.


Here is an excerpt.

Sarah didn’t know what to say. The room flickered with candlelight and the fireplace crackled with its flames, but the tenderness in Brad’s eyes warmed her heart the most. The evening had taken a turn she hadn’t expected but welcomed.

Sarah said, “I guess there’s a lot I don’t know about you, not the least of which is that you appreciate The Prophet. Do you write poetry?”

“My poetry isn’t worth sharing.” Brad shook his head. “I write it, but I keep it locked up in my desk. How about you?” Brad stared at Sarah intently, as if trying to read her soul.

“I, ah, I write very little poetry. You know, I don’t have any formal writing background, and I feel that handicap when I attempt to write poems. It has so many rules to follow, which I don’t know, and that makes me feel hesitant to even try. Sometimes, though, the moment demands a poem, and then I write.” Sarah smiled.

“I like that phrase, sometimes the moment demands a poem. Don’t you think this is one of those moments?” Brad reached across the table and placed his hand on hers. Though a simple act, it awakened a storm of emotions in Sarah. As much as she tried not to, her eyes welled with tears. She didn’t feel sad, not at all, but Brad’s gentleness brought her into her own vulnerable heart.

Authors Bio.

John Howell Head shotGwen's headshot

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The last, Circumstances of Childhood is a family life thriller story and launched October 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

John’s other books.

Available on Amazon at

Gwen had a lengthy career in higher education, and it was there that she published her first book, Beyond Boundaries, for students interested in volunteer work in developing countries. After she retired, she wrote her award-winning memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love.

Gwen lives in Branson, Missouri with her husband.

Gwen’s books.

Available on Amazon at

Crooning in June is how The Magic Happens

Can hardly believe that we are already reading our way through the June 2018 Edition of The Magic Happens Magazine

Our writers put their creative thinking caps on, to tackle the prompt words of:


We’ve got some good stuff here, so, come on by and give us a read or two.

Here are my offerings for June 2018…

My direct links are:

The Long and The Short of June

Pitching National Camping Month

Yes I Have Fallen and I Got Back Up

More or Less

We are thrilled to enjoy the kick off of summer with you, here at The Magic Happens Magazine

Thank you, Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine

Doing the Java Jive

For those who know me, being involved with ANYTHING coffee would bring me great delight (deep sigh).

Yesterday, while minding my own business, my glass coffee mug chose to explode and rain down upon my writing desk. Not that this would have been a huge issue, except that my computer was sitting there and decided it had had enough of watching ME have all the fun and took a drink!

Naturally I am off warranty and who expects such an expense,,

Until this is rectified, I am borrowing Chrome books from my roomies (so very kind of them). Which means that content and connection might be a tad scattered.

My ‘lil sis, Kylie called to let me know she has started a fund to “Help Aunt Annette Get a New “Puter” so this may turn around quickly, never know,’

Where is old faithful?  Sitting in a pile of white rice.  Hey it works for cell phones, right?



May Be Your Month at The Magic Happens Magazine

Yes, those April showers brought the May flowers, and they are in full bloom at The Magic Happens Magazine

Our May 2018 Edition is LIVE and awaits your undivided attention.

 Many of our articles are available in both visual and audio formats, look for the words at the top of the article that an audio version is available below. Let us know which you enjoy better.

Thank you for helping to make this, our 11th year, our most successful to date. In the first 14 weeks of 2018 alone, we had OVER 2.38 million hits. A fabulously new record for us. We look forward to continuing to provide energy, entertainment and information that keeps that number increasing. So,if you are someone that would to add your voice to our magazine, reach out and we’ll bring you on board! 

As I always do, I present to you MY offerings for this month!

and here are my DIRECT LINKS

May Be Your Month

Once Miss America, Always Miss America

How Beautiful De Feet

Every Child a Reader

On behalf of everyone who contributes their time and talent to The Magic Happens Magazine, I thank you for taking YOUR TIME to reading and sharing our magazine.  You make it all worthwhile.

Sincerely, Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine


Tallis Steelyard The Old Castle

Between ourselves I assumed that everybody knew the tale of Ralmano and Jellet. Apparently not, but at least this painting of Jellet’s Tower gives me a chance to tell you the tale.

Jellet’s tower, as painted at its most bucolic by our host at this exhibition, Andeal Willnoton Quillabin, is situated deep within Partann. Indeed, many would claim that it’s so deep within Partann that it’s in Uttermost Partann. Geographers and historians bicker about this because the tower is north of the town of Chatterfield, and as these things are measured, Chatterfield is reasonably civilised and law-abiding. Still it is a town with a hinterland thronging with brigands, bandits, extortioners, pirates and general-purpose rogues. There again the same can be said about Port Naain and nobody thinks the worse of us.

But to cut to the chase, the families of Ralmano and Jellet lived in the area around Chatterfield. If my memory serves me right the story happened perhaps five hundred years ago. At that time, geographers and historians notwithstanding, Chatterfield was the capital of Uttermost Partann, and all the aristocratic families in the area would have a house within the town so that they could intrigue and stab each other in the back, surrounded by all the comforts of home.

Note that by ‘aristocratic’ we really mean that they had numbers of armed retainers and the land to support them. It has been said by some sceptics, (mainly dwelling safely in Port Naain) that in Uttermost Partann having a pedigree that extends back more than four generations without including a cousin or brother-sister marriage qualifies you as a member of the aristocracy.

Still by local standards the families of Ralmano and Jellet were aristocratic. Like many others of their ilk, they would foster out their children to other families, thus creating a web of alliances secured by hostages of varying worth. Thus, while the families of these two children had been feuding for at least four generations, the children themselves were placed with families who were not involved in the feuds. This meant that fostering served a useful social function in that young people got to meet and mingle with the scions of other families away from the constraints of the feud. It also meant that the children of these feuding families got to know each other as real people. Thus, when they grew old enough to take part in the feud, they knew exactly who they hated and why.
In a way, the Partannese are most enlightened. In other places feuds are passed down through the generations and people forget exactly why the feud started. In Partann each generation not only gets to learn the causes of the feud, they also get to know and dislike members of the other family as individuals rather than merely hating them as part of an amorphous group.

Yet, in spite of the best laid plans, occasionally things go wrong. So the thirteen year old Ralmano and the twelve year old Jellet fell in love. Who knows how it would have ended up but fortunately Jellet’s nurse saved the day. Seeing Ralmano moping about under Jellet’s balcony, she threw a bucket of cold water over him and as he fled shouted after him, “Sugar off you little brat, and don’t come back until you’ve started shaving.”

After this at the next social function, Jellet snubbed Ralmano, cutting him dead over the fruit punch, and danced all night with Kalwan Jiddle. Not to be outdone, Ralmano cut Kalwan Jiddle dead, literally, in a street brawl, and had to flee Chatterfield and seek sanctuary on the family estates.

Now that might have been that, but Jellet and Ralmano continued to exchange letters. These were a mixture of threat, gloating over family successes in the feud, concerned inquires after the other’s health and tender best wishes for the future.

Still life continued, both married; Ralmano twice. Yet they continued their correspondence and (on those occasions) when they met, at functions where well meaning outsiders attempted to settle the feud, Ralmano and Jellet would dance, talk and even dine privately together.

Finally, Jellet’s scandalised family had had enough of this; they felt that in her fifties she ought to know better. So, they banished her to the tower we now know as Jellet’s Tower. Ralmano was outraged!

He gathered together a score of good hard men and with them he manned a small raiding galley. One night with no moon he beached the galley on the shore below the tower. Then attacking with the advantage of surprise his men overpowered the guards and freed Jellet.

Jellet took Ralmano to her bedchamber at the top of the tower and as the sun rose, showed him the view. Out to sea stretched the Dog Stud Rocks. The whole coast was a playground for shallow draught vessels, and from the top of the tower you could see for miles. No boat could slip past without being seen.

Ralmano took in the scene. “Well I’ve got a handy light galley with a useful twenty-man crew.”

Jellet smiled at him, delighting in his perspicacity. “Give me a week and I’ll raise another score and we’ll soon acquire another galley.”

Ralmano tenderly kissed her. “Then we shall make this tower our own and defy our families to shift us.”

And so was born a pirate dynasty. Actually, one of Ralmano’s daughters married one of Jellet’s sons and for several generations they plied their trade along the coast. Finally, the inevitable happened, they grew so prosperous that respectability claimed them and Jellet’s great-grandson moved out of the tower and North to Prae Ducis. Now the tower stands empty, but legend insists that if you spend a night in the top room of the tower you will hear the giggling as Jellet and Ralmano run their fingers through chests of gold and gems.

Tallis Steelyard and Jim Webster proudly present

Tallis Steelyard. The Festival, and other stories.

Available from

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. In here
Tallis touches upon child rearing, politics as a performance art, the joy of
dance and the advantages that come with good manners. Discover why Madam
Dolbart was forced to constantly hire new cooks, marvel at the downfall of
Dash Blont, lecher, libertine, and philanderer . Whatever happens, do not
pass through life without knowing of the advantages to be gained by an early
morning pick-me-up of horse dung spread fine on toast. You too can be
charming and elegant once you know how.
For a mere 99p all this and more can be yours.


Rising to the Occasion – The Magic Happens Magazine April 2018

As this the first of the month, we have posted a brand new edition of The Magic Happens Magazine

Come and enjoy the musings and mutterings of our world-wide writers. They were provided with 3 prompt words this month for the Theme Articles.


Of course, the prompt words can be used to write any of the other articles, Personal Columns, Inspired To Do and Reviews. It is the decision of each writer.

I submitted 3 this month:

here are the links to my articles:

Spring in my Step

In Memory of a Caped Crusader

Into the Mystic

Thank you for your support of our digital magazine. We appreciate that people  read us, share us AND choose to write with us. We are a community of #HumanityThrivingOutLoud

Love, Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine