Love Books? – Want to win a book dedication?

Celebrating the first bookaversary for Sentinals Awaken, the first book in my epic fantasy Sentinal series, I am offering you the chance to be listed in the book dedication of the first novel in a new series I am writing.

The book is called SoulBreather, and it is part of the Realm of Darkness Anthology, an anthology of paranornal romance books.

All you have to do is to enter the competition here, and follow me on Bookbub and/or Goodreads, and while you are there add my books to your tbr list! And that is it!

One lucky winner will be listed on the dedication page of SoulBreather, the first book in the SoulMist series.

***Give@way closes on Oct 30th, 2021 @2pm UTC. One winner will be chosen at random to receive their prize and announced on my Instagram account on October 31st, 2021. Winner has 48 hours to claim their prize; if they do not claim their prize within that time, they forfeit their prize and another winner will be randomly selected.***

Realm of Darkness Anthology

When darkness falls, beware of the creatures that come out to play…
Fall under their spell over and over again in this ultimate paranormal and fantasy romance boxset! Over 40 full-length novels with heart melting heroes and devastating anti-heroes, full of romance, magic, mystery, and adventure can be yours for an insanely low price.

Ready to be swept away? Your book boyfriends are waiting… Enemies-to-lovers, alphas, fae, werewolves, dragons, shapeshifters, vampires, gods, angels, demons, and more: with novels ranging from sweet to spicy, there’s a flavor to sate your every craving.

You won’t find these exclusive novels anywhere else, so don’t miss your chance. Over ten thousand pages by New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors and at less than three cents per book, this collection is a steal, but only for a limited time. Grab it today before it’s gone forever…

Pre-order eBook now!

If you order on Barnes and Noble for your nook – you can claim a free copy of the Realm Of Darkness Shorts, a selection of short stories form some of the participating authors including me!

Release Day: October 4th, 2022

The Sentinal Series

Remargaren is a vibrant, ancient world. With Goddesses, Sentinals, Rangers and Ascendants all trying to protect or attain that which is important to them.

Join me on the journey, as we meet Jerrol Haven, a King’s Ranger, who is destined to become Lady Leyandrii’s Captain. A role lost in the mists of time after her last Captain spectacularly disappeared with her when she sundered the Bloodstone and banished all magic from the world.

Throw into the mix some magical creatures, magic seeping back in, an insidious disease affecting the countries of Remargaren and the mysterious Sentinals trees, the only reminder of the Lady’s Guards, her faithful Sentinals, and we have the Sentinals Series.

Get ready for Book 3.5 – Purchase the first book Sentinals Awaken now:

Book One: Sentinals Awaken

Book Two: Sentinals Rising

Book Three: Sentinals Justice

Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery (Preorder)

Readers’ Favorite recognizes Sentinals Awaken.

For immediate Release

Readers’ Favorite recognizes “Sentinals Awaken” by Helen Garraway in its annual international book award contest, currently available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1838155910.

The Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest featured thousands of contestants from over a dozen countries, ranging from new independent authors to NYT best-sellers and celebrities.

Readers’ Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

We receive thousands of entries from all over the world. Because of these large submission numbers, we are able to break down our contest into 140+ genres, and each genre is judged separately, ensuring that books only compete against books of their same genre for a fairer and more accurate competition. We receive submissions from independent authors, small publishers, and publishing giants such as Random House, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, with contestants that range from the first-time, self-published author to New York Times bestsellers like J.A. Jance, James Rollins, and #1 best-selling author Daniel Silva, as well as celebrity authors like Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), and Eriq La Salle (E.R., Coming to America).

“When the right books are picked as winners we pay attention. We will be spreading the word about Readers’ Favorite.” –Karen A., Editor for Penguin Random House

Readers’ Favorite is proud to announce that “Sentinals Awaken” by Helen Garraway won the Finalist Award in the Fiction – Fantasy – Epic category.

You can learn more about Helen Garraway and “Sentinals Awaken” at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/sentinals-awaken where you can read reviews and the author’s biography, as well as connect with the author directly or through their website and social media pages.

Readers’ Favorite LLC 
Media Relations
Louisville, KY 40202 
800-RF-REVIEW 
support@readersfavorite.com
https://readersfavorite.com

Book One of the Sentinal Series

Books in the Sentinals Series:

Novella o.5: Sentinals Stirring (Free if you sign up to my newsletter.)

Book One: Sentinals Awaken

Book Two: Sentinals Rising

Book Three: Sentinals Justice

Novella 3.5: Sentinals Recovery (December 2nd, 2021)

Book Four: Name to be announced. (Spring 2022)

How climate can impact the way your story evolves.

Climate is a hot topic on everyone lips at the moment, from the horrendous floods in Germany to the raging fires in Canada, the climate is not behaving as we expect. Even here in the UK the weather is more changeable than usual, (and you know how much we love talking about the weather!) veering from a scorching hot mini heatwaves to torrential rain from one day to the next. It feels like we have our own monsoon!

We all react differently to the weather and the changing seasons. We even had favourite seasons – when they used to be distinct and reliable.

When world building, the expectation is that the world will behave predictably dependent on how you set it up, how many suns or moons do you have? How does the planet rotate? How much water covers the surface? The pull and push on your world should follow scientific expectations, and if not then you need to have a good reason for it that you can explain to the reader.

My world evolved as I travelled through the story. Trees were my starting point. Trees are very important in my story and my world. They stand for hundreds of years, persistent guardians of history and lore, seeing everything around them and holding it close. I wanted that longevity and sense of continuation to reflect in the Sentinals as Guardians of Remargaren.

Because I had these long lived coniferous trees, I needed a cool temperate environment with plentiful water and rich soil. The forests and timber plantations of the Watches evolved, plentiful in the west of Vespiri and petering out as they reached the hotter borders of Terolia in the east, and the parched and arid deserts.

The deserts, and the lack of resources, especially water, drove the evolution of the Familes, and the need to travel where the resources could be found. Although as knowledge of how to find and hoard water grew over time and towns and cities took root, the inherent need to move around remains, and the nomadic Families of Terolia were born.

In Sentinals Justice, we travel north, to the icy wastes of Elothia. A harsh and cold environment where it never rains, it snows. Most of the time! Here people hunker down and hibernate for the winter, only poking their noses out in the spring. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but they have to live in the cold, and tend to group together in the cities, the land is too harsh to live off of.

As you can see below, even my covers are influenced by the environment the book is set in. Book Two – Sentinals Rising is currently in the AllAuthor cover competion, you can vote for it here. (Note if you can’t log in using facebook, it is quite easy to create a reader account, and then you can vote.)

The Sentinal Series

I’m hoping to finish book four in the Spring of 2022, where will be introduced to the mysterious Island Empire of Birtoli. The Sentinals don’t remember Birtoli being islands, it used to be joined to the mainland so what happened? Expect turquoise seas and white sands and plenty of adventure.

Just for a bit of fun I created a quiz to see where you would live in Remargaren. Complete the quiz and see which country you hail from. Let me know on twitter or Instagram, or on my facebook page using the hashtag #Sentinals.

Novella o.5: Sentinals Stirring (Free if you sign up to my newsletter.)

Book One: Sentinals Awaken

Book Two: Sentinals Rising

Book Three: Sentinals Justice (Preorder-Available September 7th)

Book Four: Name to be announced. (Spring 2022)

Less than 2 days left!! – Please vote for Sentinals Rising

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you like the cover of my book, Sentinals Rising: Book Two of the Sentinal series, please vote for it in the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!

The voting is really tight and every vote counts in the “Cover of the Month” contest on AllAuthor! I need as much support from you guys as possible. Please take a moment to vote for my book cover here:

Thank you!

Book Two of the Sentinal Series

Novella o.5: Sentinals Stirring (Free if you sign up to my newsletter.)

Book One: Sentinals Awaken

Book Two: Sentinals Rising

Book Three: Sentinals Justice (On Preorder-Available September 7th)

Please vote for Sentinals Rising

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you like the cover of my book, Sentinals Rising: Book Two of the Sentinal series, please vote for it in the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!

I’m getting closer to clinch the “Cover of the Month” contest on AllAuthor! I need as much support from you guys as possible. Please take a moment to vote for my book cover here:

Book Two of the Sentinal Series

Novella o.5: Sentinals Stirring (Free if you sign up to my newsletter.)

Book One: Sentinals Awaken

Book Two: Sentinals Rising

Book Three: Sentinals Justice (On Preorder-Available September 7th)

Summer Solstice-What does it mean to you?

The summer solstice marks the middle of the year. Midsummer or ‘Lithia’ is the longest day on our calendar, and to many, not only heralds the start of true summer but also a period of renewal.

The long sunny days (for some!) help us recharge. I think the idea of taking time to re-energise ourselves after a tough year is an important one. Longer days not only make us feel lighter and more engaged with everyone and everything around us, it gives us a chance to reconnect with whatever is important to you.

Personally, I like the idea of spending the symmer solstice with your loved ones. A day to celebrate each other and the life we lead. We may not be dancing around a bonfire to herald in the new summer, but there is no reason we can’t celebrate each other anyway. And for those of us who may be alone this summer solstice, lighting a candle and appreciating the light can be your own personal celebration.

Musing about the Summer Solstice made me think about some of the celebrations I created for the world of Remaragen, most of which revolve around the Goddess Leyandrii. The key celebration is the Confirmation of a Lord of the Watch.

Under the gaze of the Lady, the new Lord swears his life to the protection of his people, the Land and the Lady. By becoming a guardian, the Lady imbues them with enough magic to connect them to their Watch, joining the guardian with Her and the Land, each sworn to protect the other.

Guardians protect the people, the people nurture the Land, the Land provides for all and the Lady watches.

There are many guardians from different walks of life, guardians of lore and history, of the Lady’s sacred places, to the Watch guardians, and those that revere the tall sentinal trees found in the Lady’s groves. Then of course there are the Sentinals themselves; the men and women who swore thier lives to the Lady Leyandrii to help protect the world of Remargaren.

Who are the Sentinals and what happened to them? How did they end up encased in the tall sentinal trees for over three thousand years? As Jerrol travels though Remargaren trying to understand what the Lady expects of him, he wakes some of the Sentinals. Through his interaction with the Sentinals we get a glimpse into their previous lives, and a sense of continuation through the Watches and their adherence to the Lady’s Lore.

Passing down the guardianship though their familes, celebrating life through bornings (birth), joinings (marriage) and leavings (funerals) follows the cycle of life and the progression of the year from Janu through to Decu and the turning of the year, a year end celebration. The waxing and waning of the moon guides the Lady’s attention and has a much stronger presence in Remargaren than the sun.

The Sentinal Series

The Sentinals Series will have at least five books and two novellas, as I wrote book four I needed to understand the details about how the Sentinals ended up in the trees, and so was born the prequel.

Protection and protecting those who can’t protect themseves is a key theme of my epic fantasy series. Building a world, complete with beliefs and a history, adds more depth and context for the adventures that occur. I hope you have joined the journey.

Novella o.5: Sentinals Stirring (Free if you sign up to my newsletter.)

Book One: Sentinals Awaken

Book Two: Sentinals Rising

Book Three: Sentinals Justice (Preorder-Available September 7th)

The Joys of World Building

If you’ve read my novels, you’ll know I created the world of Remargaren. A diverse environment comprised of four kingdoms: Vespiri, Terolia, Elothia and Birtoli. Each has its own political structure, landscape, setting and culture, which drives the behaviour of its inhabitants.

The fun part of world building is that you get to create everything! A lot of the time you are creating backstory, so the story you are writing has depth and makes sense, but it doesn’t mean it is all included in the book. Even though some characters are only mentioned as a legend or ancient history, once upon a time they lived the events that made that history. I have so much backstory that one day there will be a prequel so I can use it all!

My starting point was the deities who created the world of Remargaren in the first place. The sisters Leyandrii and Marguerite. Goddesses who did everything they could to protect the people of Remargaren and its people, and I had my religious structure, and the source of the ancient magic. 

As I started to write the first book, the environment began develop and the idea of basing it on the diverse countries found on the European continent was born.

Vespiri is predominantly forested; a land of trees and rich timber, lush green growth, plentiful water and arable fields. The sentinal trees are scattered across a system of Watches which divide the kingdom into manageable areas. Vespers, Greenswatch, Deepwater, Stoneford, East Watch and Marchwood.

Each Watch has a lord responsible for defending the land, who looks to the king, and each Watch has a council to help with day-to-day management.

Terolia is a hot and arid desert territory ruled by the nomadic Families. Water is scarce as are towns and cities, and sentinals. The Familes are led by a Medera and Sodera, the mother and father, and the family structure is core to their way of life.

There are six Families comprised of three main Familes: the Atolea, the Solari and the Kirshan, and three affiliated lesser Families: Kiker, Gusar and Miner. 

Elothia is an icy territory to the north. Flat plains of icy tundra stretch all the way to ridges of snow-capped mountains. Most of the year, snow covers the land; only the southern reaches are ice free and arable. Food can be scarce when the winters are harsh, and the land remains frozen shortening the growing season and causing strife in the villages.

The Grand Duke rules Elothia, supported by his ministers and the generals that command his army.

Birtoli is an archipelago of islands extending to the south. White sands and turquoise seas, although beautiful, mean that without a boat, the islanders are constrained to the island they born on, and tend to coalesce in tight knit clans. The Birtolian Empire is ruled by an Emperor.

Diverse settings provide the opportunity to create different cultures, political structures and of course the vivid landscapes my characters live in, which also contribute to setting the mood an ambiance of a scene.

You can create a world as complex and diverse as you choose, or as simple as needed.  It becomes the canvas on which your characters live their lives. They react to and manoeuvre through the different territories, and the setting provides the opportunity to create more obstacles and conflict and we enjoy their adventures as the characters deal with them. The reading experience becomes immersive because you can imagine the world, and you can picture yourself in that environment, and you can compare your reactions to those of the characters.

World building is a core component of high fantasy as we need to explain the world our characters live in. High fantasy means that the book is not set in the real world. It is not set on Earth; it is not real. An integral part of this is a map. A map helps a reader visualise where the characters are, and as they traverse the world, you can follow their journey as well. The majority of the time, a high fantasy novel will have a map.

The author uses a map to keep track of distance and locations. One of the hardest parts is consistency when writing a novel. It is so easy to be inconsistent, and a map helps you to see that actually Old Vespers is in the west of Vespiri, not the east for example, or that Stoneford Watch is in the east and borders Elothia to the north and Terolia to the east, and that is where it will always be!

I hope you enjoy the world building in the Sentinal Series and fall in love with the wonderful world of Remargaren and its diverse peoples and cultures.

Book One: Sentinals Awaken is set in Vespiri.

Book Two: Sentinals Rising starts in Vespiri and ends up in Terolia.

Book Three: Sentinals Justice, due to release in the fall travels to Elothia.

Is Writing a Catharsis?

I think maybe it is. Many people write memoirs, blogs, poems, paint or create music as a way of dealing with life, problems, complications. I started writing after my mother passed away after a short battle with cancer.  We had been planning to move to the country, and she was going to move in with me. We had lots of plans that never had a chance to happen.

I thought I started writing because I had time on my hands and an empty house. But I’ve come to realise that I  was grieving and releasing that grief through writing, expressing myself through words, and maybe escaping reality for a moment and entering a world I knew she would love.  I had lost my best friend and I was trying to find a replacement for that gaping hole. I wrote seven books. A bit like Forrest Gump running across America, twice!

That new companion became the world of Remargaren and Jerrol and the Sentinals. A world of myth and legend. Of friendship and betrayal. Of ancient forests and magical trees.

I always credit my mum with instilling in me a love of books and reading. I remember my love for the The Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton; my first foray in the world of fantasy. To escape into a world where down can be up and the sky can be green, and your imagination rules.

I am happiest when I write, when I visit the world of Remargaren and I am surrounded in possibilities, and a lot of challenges for my characters of course.

I thank my mum for sharing her love of reading. I know she’s looking over my shoulder, making suggestions, loving the stories. I hope you are loving them too.

In these crazy times, it’s strange being a debut author. It wasn’t because of Covid that I started writing, I just happened to have been ready to publish.  So I’m a 2020 author, forever connected to the year of Covid, with virtual book launches and no book signings! and yet there is still good to have come out of this year; Sentinals Awaken for one. Even in times of great difficulty there are good deeds and amazing people. People who put themselves before others, whether it be a nurse in the NHS, the dustman collecting the bins, the man stacking the shelves in the supermarket, parents home-schooling or a King’s Ranger trying to solve a mystery and save his country.

As we enter lockdown again here in the UK, I hope Sentinals Awaken provides some relief and entertainment as well as some hope, away from the continuing restrictions imposed on us all. If you want to chat, you can find me on twitter, Instagram or Facebook or here on my website. If you are following the #tweetbookclub on Twitter, you’ll know I’m always happy to chat about my books. Trying not to give away spoilers is the challenge, because I just want to share! And to discuss Jerrol and Birlerion and all the rest.

Thank you for making it to the end of this blog. Hopefully you are enjoying the results of my catharsis!! Book Two will be along soon…as the self-publishing journey continues. Hope you stay for the ride!

Keep safe and well. Speak soon.

The Home Straight

An author experiences a variety of emotions in the long journey to publishing. Having actually written the book in the first place you then have the long slog of revising and editing, trying to polish your novel until the shine is blinding and you can finally let it go takes a lot longer than you would think. My first blog on this topic was back in May and here we are October!

And then its copy editing, interior design and layout, and proof reading, and then the vicious circle of wanting to put a review link in the ebook to make it easier for readers to leave a review, but you have to upload your book to get the link. And to get the link you have to commit to a publishing date – which Amazon then chase you (which is good and bad) and threaten to ban you from using their services for a whole year if you miss it. If that doesn’t stress you out, then nothing will!

If I have learnt anything on this journey, it is that everything takes a darned site longer than you would like. And the amount of days you spend chewing your nails waiting for a file to come back so you can review again is excruciating.

There is much to learn, and I may begin to post some podcasts (If I can find the time as I need to be editing book two!) about the different elements of the journey, because as a first-time author, it truly is eye-opening. And if my learnings can help someone else navigate this road more easily then that is all too the good.

But, as the title of this blog says, this is the home straight. I am now on the final leg rushing towards that winning line. The book is uploaded to Amazon and filtering through all the affiliate sites. It may even be live in paperback in some locations already – as you are advised to upload a week before publishing to let the sites sync, but you can’t set the publishing date, Amazon set that when the book goes live—so do you wait or do you upload?

You upload! So you can get the proof copies and author copies, and oh! The first time you hold your book in your hands. A-maz-ing! I feel so proud and so happy. Such an achievement.

My launch date is October 11th, and I am going to do a virtual book launch via Zoom, because, when it comes down to it, you only ever get to do your first ever book launch once. And I think that is something that should be celebrated. Even if it is just me talking into a screen, I will still raise a glass as Sentinals Awaken sets sail on her ocean voyage around the world.

So I have set up a Zoom call, created my rafflecopter giveaway, sent out the invites and now it’s a case of waiting to see if anyone accepts. This is more nerve wracking than publishing the book.

Come hell or highwater, I will be launching my book on Sunday. If you’d like a chance to win a signed copy, then join me at 7pm UK time to raise a toast.

DM me for the link to the launch at helen.garraway@hotmail.com

To Sentinals Awaken. My first ever novel. Published.

Long may she entertain.

Sentinals Awaken- Book One Cover Reveal!

I am so excited! My cover is finished!

So here is the big reveal! Would you stop and take a look inside? I hope so, let me know what you think via the contact page.

Cover by Jeff Brown of jeffbrowngraphics.com

From a rough sketch, which my cover designer, Jeff mocked up in front of my eyes as we chatted on a video conference call, (see left), to more formalised 80% done (see below right) to the finished article (above!)

Jeff has created a beautiful work of art as well as a book cover, and I can’t wait to see it as a poster.

So a big thank you to Jeff from Jeff Brown Graphics (www.jeffbrowngraphics.com) for designing such a beautiful cover; from the Lady and the Moon symbol to the grand panoramic scene (see at bottom of post) as Jerrol and his Sentinals ride through an encroaching storm to attempt to rescue the King of Vespiri.

With the advent of online bookstores and eReaders, the cover must be eye-catching as a thumbnail image, which means the main image must be more prominent, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be artistic.

The cover is one of the most important aspects of a novel, it is what catches the readers eye in the first place, to take note and stop and browse, and hopefully, to pick up out of the choice of many, and then the first few lines of the book catch your attention and draw you in.

Want to know what’s inside Sentinals Awaken? – Sneak peek!

Chapter 1
Lady’s Temple Gardens, Old Vespers

The sword missed his nose by an inch, if that. A momentary relief as solid steel thunked into the ground and Jerrol jerked back like a snake about to strike and then slithered away, inhaling the scent of soggy grass, dirt and roses. Roses?

His brow wrinkled in confusion as he scuttled away and regained his feet. Backing towards the tall Sentinal tree arching over the Lady’s temple, he strained to see his assailants. He leaned against the trunk as he scanned the gardens. He would have to apologise later; staying alive was more important than the sanctity of the temple gardens.

There were three guards, large and brutal: Chancellor’s men eager to deliver him up more dead than alive. The complaint of him snooping around the Chancellor’s business would be enough to get him placed on report, if not demoted. He wasn’t supposed to be near Chancellor Isseran, let alone following him.

Gritting his teeth, Jerrol considered his options. He couldn’t kill them, not on the Lady’s soil, yet he couldn’t let them report back, either. The satin-smooth bark of the tree beneath his fingers warmed for a moment as he hesitated. The image of a tall, black-haired man stood before him. This apparition wore a silvery green high-necked uniform that glimmered in the swirling mist. He was striking to look at, unnaturally pale, with distinctive features and straight, black eyebrows over silver eyes that gleamed in the dim light.

Jerrol gaped at him, unable to stop staring. It wasn’t possible. Lady help him, it wasn’t possible, was it? He recoiled as the man spoke, taking a step back.

“Captain? Is it time?” the man asked, his silver eyes burning bright.

He was young – younger than he was, Jerrol thought. Yet his expression was grave. There was a sense of a burden understood and accepted; of experience over youth. He had a sword strapped to his hip and a bow across his back, and he looked like he knew how to use them.

Jerrol frowned. “Time?” he asked, and the image faded.


Sentinals Awaken, is set in the word of Remargaren, a world where magic was banished by the deity Leyandrii over three thousand years ago along with the malevolent Ascendants. Jerrol Haven, a Captain of the King’s Rangers discovers treason at the highest level and although the ailing King tries to help him, the Crown Prince sentences Jerrol to death. Jerrol must escape, discover why magic is returning to his world and discover the source of an insidious disease spreading through the Watches. After accidentally awakening a Lady’s Sentinal he needs to discover how to awaken more Sentinals and rescue the King – but even then, his troubles are only just beginning.

I hope the cover and opening excerpt tempt you to order Sentinals Awaken when it launches in the autumn and you enjoy reading the book. Please ensure you leave a review when you do, reviews drive visibility and keep an independent author like me writing!

If you’re interested in delving into the world of Remargaren and would like to visualise the Kingdom of Vespiri, I have been collecting some images on a Pinterest board at https://www.pinterest.co.uk/helengarraway/vespiri-world-of-remargaren/

Sign up to my newsletter below, to find out first when Sentinals Awaken will be available for order! And to gain access to the bonus content on the members only corner when it goes live.

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Just look at that scenery, gorgeous!