It’s Launch Day!! Sentinals Recovery

Sentinals Recovery: Book 3.5 of the Sentinal series, is now live!!!!

I am so thrilled to share my latest book with you, especially as I never planned to write Sentinals Recovery. But I couldn’t physically fit Birlerion returning to Greenswatch in Sentinals Justice, and I had to write about Birlerion and his Darian, it was the least I could do for the poor man!

5 Star Goodreads are already being posted!!

“Unputdownable.”

“I’m glad that Helen could not fit this in to Sentinals Justice as this story dedicated to Birlerion was exactly what I needed.”

“…ensnared, and lost in the world of Remargaren from the very first paragraph. A beautiful read.”

Sentinals Recovery is a novella set in the world of Remargaren. It occurs immediately after the battle at Oprimere. Although this is a complete story, the reader would benefit from reading the first three books in the series.

Birlerion is recovering from the near fatal injuries he received in his second, epic battle with the Ascendants. He returns home to Greenswatch to recuperate and finally meet his Darian stallion, Kin’arol, who has been waiting, somewhat impatiently, to bond with him.

Only Kin’arol is not there. Someone has stolen him. For such a distinctive horse, he has vanished into thin air.

Though not fully recovered, and still hampered by his injuries, Birlerion sets off, accompanied by his brother Versillion, to recover his horse. Not even Assassins, belligerent Terolians or the harsh Terolian desert will stop him from bonding with Kin’arol, though his failing body might.

Purchase Sentinals Recovery here:

Thank you!

The Sentinal Series

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

Book One: Sentinals Awaken

Book Two: Sentinals Rising

Book Three: Sentinals Justice

Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery (Novella)

It’s Launch Day!! Sentinals Justice

Sentinals Justice: Book Three of the Sentinal series, is now live!!!!

Join me as I launch my third book and find out about special offer prices, Free giveaway competition and more!!

So thrilled to share my latest book with you.

5 Star Amazon reviews are already being posted!!

“A totally magnificent, spellbinding read.”

“…exceeded all expectations…”

“The book then turns in a direction I would never have in a million years guessed. But I loved it.”

“Even if Fantasy is not the genre of your choice, I would challenge anyone not to be swept up into this story and the charismatic lives of the characters of Remargaren in ‘Sentinal’s Justice’. It will change your view of this genre completely, and leave you, like myself, wanting more.”

Sentinals Justice is the third book in the saga of Remargaren, a vibrant, ancient world of high fantasy suffused with magic and adventure.

The third installment of the Sentinal series takes us to the frozen north, to the Grand Duchy of Elothia. Border tensions with Elothia force King Benedict to send a diplomatic envoy to sue for peace. Benedict has his hands full with Vespiri and Terolia, he can’t afford a war on his northern border as well. Commander Jerrol Haven is sent to broker peace. Having met Grand Duke Randolf the thirteenth before, Jerrol hopes their previously successful negotiations will assist in a speedy resolution and allow him time to discover how to rescue Birlerion from the Ascendants.

Meanwhile, the Chapterhouse has received a request for a scholar to assist in searching for signs of the Sentinals in Elothia. Taelia is assigned the task, because Scholar Torsion is also missing after the attack at the Watch Towers.

Amidst escalating tensions and conflicting needs, Jerrol journeys to Elothia, hoping to meet with Randolf before the Ascendants can influence him. Escorting Taelia is an unexpected bonus. Can Jerrol stop Elothia and Vespiri from going to war? Will they find more Sentinals? And can they find out where the Ascendants took Birlerion and Torsion before it is too late.

Sentinals Justice concludes the opening trilogy…though the adventure will continue!

Purchase Sentinals Justice here:

Thank you!

Book Three 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

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.

Why do we doubt ourselves?

I wonder why Imposter syndrome1 is more prevalent in women and minorities than in others? And I think more prevalent in writers as we put our heart on our sleeve and expose our creations to the world and all we expect is criticism.

What is it about us that drives us to think we are not good enough, that we shouldn’t try to achieve such high goals, that someone else is always better than us, prettier than us, more qualified than us. The list could go on and on.

I’m no expert on mental health, as my daughter will be the first to tell you, and here you go, I am going to say it! There are far more qualified folks out there who can advise better than me. But I was thinking about the fact that by the end of this year, I will have published five books in my Sentinal series. FIVE!!!

If that isn’t something to celebrate then what is? Yes the reviews are slow to come in. The sales are not exactly stellar, my Amazon rating is six digits and counting! but I loved every minute of writing them, of editing them, of polishing them as beta readers gave me wonderful feedback along with areas to improve. The covers are beautiful and just resonate with the epic fantasy genre. And I AM PROUD of them. I deserve to call myself an author. A published author at that.

So why do I feel awkward when I call myself an author? as if I am a fraud. I have the proof. The physical books to show I wrote them. How should you measure success? Do you have to hit a certain revenue number, number of books sold, amazon rating, to be a success? Why can’t we accept that writing a book, finishing it, and then publishing it, is a success? Because it really is.

I am about to send the third book of my Sentinal series, Sentinals Justice off to the copy editor and then start biting my nails as I wait for feedback. The cover designer will begin the cover art in a couple of weeks and I am on course to publish in September. I’ve even got some character art for my main characters, Jerrol and Birlerion. I wonder if they are even close to what my readers imagined? Jerrol is above. Isn’t it cool?

So yes, my books have a long way to go before I break even. Profit? Is that a word associated with self-publishing? I have hope. One day. In the meantime, I’m going to keep writing. Why? Because I enjoy it. Because I am an author and I’m good at it.

As Megan Dalla Carmina says in her blog post for PsychologyToday.com, “At the end of the day, remember this: You are here for a reason. In this job, your business, your life, you are worthy. You are better than you think you are. You are smarter than you think you are. You know more than you give yourself credit for. Remember that. And remind yourself as often as you need to.”

Notes:

  1. ‘The Reality of Imposter syndrome.’ Megan Dalla Camina, 2018. PsychologyToday.com https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/real-women/201809/the-reality-imposter-syndrome

Do you talk to yourself?

There is one thing I’ve noticed as the lockdown progresses, is that I talk to myself a lot. I am worried I’ll forget once I am back out socializing, and I’ll still find myself saying things meant for inside my head, out loud in public. Can you imagine it? People will be staring at me as if I am crazy!

Well, hopefully not, as I am sure I am not the only one.

It isn’t just because I live alone, and have no one except my cat to talk too. It’s because I talk to my characters as I am writing them. I immerse myself in my world of Remargaren and see it through their eyes. Hopefully, so that I capture it for my readers to experience as well.

But that does mean that I get caught up in conversations, some of which make it into the book and some of which don’t. My characters have been invented by me; I created their backstory, their likes and dislikes, their foibles, and habits, their thoughts and beliefs. Some I know better than others, and others force their way to the front demanding to be fleshed out more, to play a part, to have a voice.

Characters are an important element of a great story. A reader wants to be invested in their story, to be drawn in to their world, to understand why they react the way they do. It is the authors job to give the reader enough information to draw conclusions, infer emotion, too anticipate. A well rounded character resonates; it’s part of what give us that book hang over when we finish. That sense of losing a friend, of misplacing something, because you won’t be able pick up where you left off.

Fortunately, you can always revisit when you want you, that is the joy of re-reading a book and returning to visit old acquaintances, and often learning something new as you glean something you missed the first time you read it.

Then a new characters raises their hand! And says “What about me?” And I take a closer look, and realize that they don’t fit in the world of Remargaren. They have their own world waiting to be described; to be created, for me to put pen to paper and bring it to life.

A smile rises in me at the thought of meeting someone new; to explore who they are, what they have to say. To discover what they have suffered, or are yet to suffer, and who they will become.

I was listening to an Olly Murs album as I edited my third Sentinal novel, and the lyrics from one of his songs just resonated with me. A young woman raised her hand, stared me in the eye, and she said “I have a story for you to tell.” And she does. I have two new protagonists and a whole new world to think about. A whole new conversation to enjoy.

So If you hear me chattering away to myself, don’t dismiss me. I am in the throes of composition, meeting new characters and making new friends.

I hope you come and visit, enjoy the company and return often.