Post-apocalyptic paranormal romantic fantasy
Blog of the Week 15th April 2019
The past week has been very busy and it really hasn't gone to plan! I'm reviewing what I'm going to do with my blog so check back regularly for more news!
Blog of the Week 10th April 2019
Yes, I missed putting up my blog of the week for 8th April, for which I'm sorry. I'm still catching up from being on holiday and Monday was all about my car breaking down - more of that next week. In the meantime, enjoy this blog which was first published as part of the Strand of Faith publication blog tour.
The Political World of Strand of Faith - first published on Dash Fan Book Reviews
Strand of Faith is set far into our future, after the world has suffered through war, disease and natural disaster and the population has been reduced to a small fraction of what it is today. Much of the land is still uninhabitable – the Badlands. The world is feudal and hierarchical. There are a number of independent ‘kingdoms’ known as Great Houses, each ruled by a High Lord, a title which applies whether they are male or female. Succession varies depending on the Great House. It might be hereditary, by challenge, democratic or just at the whim of the current High Lord – or some combination.
Each Great House has a number of High Houses who pledge their allegiance to it, and in turn, Low Houses pledge to High Houses, and individual establishments pledge to Low Houses. That’s usually on a geographical basis, because that’s easier with limited transport options, but it doesn’t have to be.
The High Lords meet from time to time in Council to discuss matters that affect them all but they don’t normally interfere in the workings of another Great House. That doesn’t mean they get on, far from it. Several Great Houses are at war with each other. Council disapproves but doesn’t act unless the impact of the war spreads widely outside the Great Houses concerned.
There are three main types of Great House. The phrase Great House refers to the residence of the High Lord, and also formally to the territory as a whole. In practice people tend to drop the word ‘Great’ if they are talking about the territory.
Strand of Faith takes place in the Great House St Peter. House St Peter is a Religious House, which means its ruling principles are founded on a specific religion. It doesn’t mean that all residents follow that religion by any means, but if they weren’t sympathetic to it, they probably wouldn’t find it a comfortable place to live. The Great House is also a dual monastery – both monks and nuns – and runs a hospital and a college. House St Peter is both the largest and the oldest Religious House and most of the other Religious Houses tend to follow its lead.
The second type are Sanctuary Houses which provide a safe haven to anyone who is running away from anything, whether they are guilty or innocent, and gives them a fresh start. Any pursuers who come onto the House’s territory will be severely dealt with, but everyone is expected to contribute to the extent that they can. If someone is escaping injustice they’ll be protected, but if they are escaping justice then the moment they break the Sanctuary House’s laws or try to freeload, they can be handed back to where they came from. Sanctuary Houses are neutral in any war or dispute and often act as mediators. House Tennant is the largest of the Sanctuary Houses.
The final type are Secular Houses, basically any Houses which aren’t either Religious or Sanctuary. The largest two are House Chisholm and House Lindum. They’ve been at war as far back as anyone can remember and no-one can remember the original reason. They are neighbours so the war mostly takes the form of border skirmishes rather than all-out battle. Things have been fairly quiet for the last fifty years or so, apart from a brief flare up about twenty years ago. Many of the other Secular Houses side with one or other of these two.
There’s also a nomadic Clan, the Traders. They travel in groups of horse drawn caravans from House to House, selling goods and providing transport. Each caravan is led by a Headwoman and a Merchant, and the caravans all meet up at the Gathering once every five years. One Headwoman and one Merchant represent the Traders at the Council. Settlers are Traders who have decided to stop travelling and stay in one place.
Each Great House has its own logo, signature colour and signature gem stone. For House St Peter, the logo is the crossed keys of St Peter, the colour is blue and the gem stone is sapphire.
I’ve very much enjoyed creating and writing about this world – I hope you enjoy reading about it too. If you do, let me know on Twitter or Facebook, or leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads – or both. Thank you.
Blog of the Week 25th March and 1st April 2019
This week I'm going to head you in the direction of another blog I enjoy, that of Sarah Woodbury. Amongst other things, Sarah writes the After Cilmeri series, time travel between modern America and medieval Wales. You can find the index to her blogs here.
But back to the blogs. One of my favourites is "Would a Medieval Prince have had an office?" .
My Choices and Consequences series is set in a semi medieval world of the future. Whilst there is technology, especially medical technology, personal computers aren't a thing, telephones are rare and for the rich, and even postal services are fairly limited. The High Lords run their Great Houses/Kingdoms in as minimalist a way as possible, with face to face meetings and paper based records. They definitely need offices, so I found this blog very helpful!
As a genealogist in my spare time (and I have a non fiction book in progress on this subject) I also particuarly enjoyed "The Family Tree of the Royal House of Wales". And "Memo to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd's Staff" is just great.
I hope you enjoy them too - and why not try Sarah's books?
Blog of the Week 18th March 2019
First published on the Baptist Times Website
My first novel, Strand of Faith, very nearly didn’t get written. Like many people I have a busy life – I’m the wife of a Baptist minister, mother of two and I work as an accountant. The idea started in my head with a dream (very Narnia and C.S. Lewis, I know) and for a long while it stayed there. The trouble was, the idea kept growing and the characters started to develop and, in the end, I found that I needed to write them down.
As I did so, the story expanded. One book became a series of four and the dream became a scene at the end of the first book. The titles changed, too. I went from Choices and Consequences to Strand of Faith, Thread of Hope, Weave of Love and Cloth of Grace. You can probably see the influence of 1 Corinthians 13:13.
Having written it down, again I very nearly left it there, despite the fact that my family and friends loved it. But that seemed a waste of effort, so off it went to agents. They came back saying ‘…it’s a good story…well written…really enjoyed reading it…but just not our thing’.
I couldn’t blame them; the series is very definitely cross genre. It has a Christian message, but it’s not really predominantly Christian fiction. I like to describe it as some of the characters are Christians and this affects the way they live and behave and sometimes they explain the reasons for their behaviour. It’s set in an imaginary future which makes it fantasy; some of the characters have unusual abilities which makes it paranormal; there’s a love story which makes it romance; it’s about characters finding their place in the world which makes it coming of age; there’s intrigue and mystery and secrets. There are broken people finding healing and purpose through their faith in God. I don’t think there’s a genre that covers all that!
So, instead of leaving it to gather dust, I’ve gone with self-publishing and set up my own publishing business, Isbin Books. It’s been a steep learning curve but Strand of Faith is now out there, getting new readers and excellent reviews. You can buy it on Amazon and other eBook retailers and in bookshops (though your local bookstore may have to order it in).
One of the things I wanted to do was to create a world that had Christian foundations but was attractive to non-Christian readers. Strand of Faith is set in a monastery but the Abbot of the monastery is also the ruler of a territory that stretches much further than just the monastery. It’s probably not typical of most people’s perception of a monastery either. Although it comes from my imagination I drew on historical examples; it’s a double monastery with both monks and nuns, and it has an associated group of lay people, all of whom work, relax and eat together, even if they live separately. On top of that, it runs both a college and a hospital, supports an orphanage and works with refugees in the town that surrounds it.
There’s a snowball fight scene in the middle of the monastery that I did think was purely my imagination; turns out it’s not. I have it on good authority that monks and nuns really do have snowball fights.
Denominationally? Well, it’s not specific, but it’s definitely got some Baptist leanings because I’ve spent my life within the Baptist tradition. The sharp eyed might spot a nod towards the Baptist Assembly in a scene towards the end of Strand of Faith. The really sharp eyed might spot the influence of Graham Kendrick’s song Beauty for brokenness, hope for despair. Certainly that song affected not only the creation of my world, but also the characters and their journeys, not just in Strand of Faith but through the whole series.
There’s some other Baptist connections too. I first met my cover artist, the very talented Oliver Pengilley, at Baptist Assembly, where he was painting live. And I write under a pen name, using the surname Bonner. That was my grandfather’s pseudonym when he needed one, and he chose it because he admired Carey Bonner (bit of Baptist history here) who was President of the Baptist Union from 1931-1932.
Strand of Faith is selling very well as Christian Fantasy, hitting #1 in Amazon’s bestseller and hot new release listings. And it’s selling like hot cakes (well, we’re in Lancashire so like hot meat and potato pie) around our church community. I’d love it to go mainstream, to have a non-Christian readership who enjoy the characters and story, almost without realising that they are absorbing the Christian message in passing, just as my heroine, Leonie, does when she comes to live at the monastery.
Blog of the Week 11th March 2019
From my Personal Blog
For the last two weeks I've been busy editing Thread of Hope. I have an excellent editor, Sarah, that I found through Reedsy's services. She knows just how to nudge and encourage me into making it a better book. Now it's back with her for another couple of weeks and final edits and then, at the beginning of April, I'll have the final text done. As you can see, the cover is here and I think it's gorgeous. Publication day, 2nd May, will be with us soon!
I'm already thinking about the cover for book 3, Weave of Love, which is due out in October and I'm busy redrafting the text. The only clue I'm giving you is that I think the dominant colour for the cover will be green.
I'm starting a new page on this site - Useful Links - which I will add to bit by bit as I discover the ones that work for me. They will include ones for authors, but also interesting blogs, and sites that I like and enjoy. Have a look - you might find something that interests you - and remember to keep coming back because I'll keep adding to it.
Strand of Faith is still on sale at 99p here if you haven't read it yet. Or get a free extended sample by signing up to my newsletter - try before you buy with no risk! And if you'd like to try a range of other free samples and books, try here for Clean Fantasy Reads and here for Paranormal Sci Fi Fantasy. But don't delay because these are limited time offers.
In the meantime, here's an extract from Thread of Hope. If you subscribe to my newsletter and my blog of the week (just check both boxes on the form) you'll get these sneak peeks first.
I pulled my hood up in case anyone noticed my hair, and I found a bench to sit on in the central plaza while I thought things through again. My plan had been to steal anything I might need and then catch a train out of here just as fast as I could. That would get me out of the range that Perry could search. I knew now that I couldn’t do that.
As I sat there, I realised the real problem was that I didn’t actually want to leave. Even if I couldn’t have him, Perry was where I belonged, the place I fitted, where I was safe. I needed to know where he was, how he was, that he was okay. And this Great House, these people I’d been with for months now, they were the closest I’d ever felt to having a family. I knew Perry had left his birth family and I’d not been able to understand it. Now I was beginning to comprehend that there could be reasons, circumstances under which that was the only option. But he always knew the right thing to do, he was strong and brave and I wasn’t. I didn’t think I had the strength or courage to walk away from what had been offered me, but nor could I take it up.
Unable to leave, and unable to stay, I sat there on the bench, arms around my knees, paralysed by indecision.
Blog of the Week 4th March 2019
- first published on B for Bookreview
15th February 2019
I can't believe January is gone, and we're halfway through February already. But today is the cover reveal for Thread of Hope which again is organised by Rachel's Random Resources. I'll be following along on Twitter and retweeting. Thread of Hope is available for pre-order here, and will be published on 2nd May. There'll be an eight day blog tour starting then, and it's fully booked with bloggers already. As well as reviews by the bloggers, I'll be doing guest posts, question and answer sessions and there'll be extracts from Thread of Hope.
I realise that I did a whole series of blogs for the tour of Strand of Faith and I've not put them up here on my website. If you didn't catch them then, you can find them here.
I've just got two weeks now until I get the first edits back from my editor. I may be unusual, but I'm really looking forward to getting back to writing Thread of Hope - I find the rewriting very enjoyable. And I like getting back in touch with my characters and in tune with their thoughts and actions.
If you sign up for my newsletter, once the edits are complete, throughout April there will be extracts from Thread of Hope - this is the first one.
“Let me go! Let me go! I hate you!”
Still holding her close against him, he bent his head so his forehead touched hers, and smiled, his eyes seeking hers. “Liar,” he breathed, slipping one hand into her hair and touching her lips with his own.
Their kiss was deep and passionate, her mouth and body betraying her words to show her true feelings, her hands now caressing rather than attacking. He lifted his mouth from hers and stood her down unrestrained by his hands, body or Gifts. He took one step back and she stared at him, eyes wide and bewildered, one hand unconsciously lifting to touch her lips, her body poised for flight.
He spoke softly. “I’m not going to make you come with me. We both know I could, but I won’t. I will never force you. This is your free choice. One step towards me and we will face all these problems and find the best solutions we can, together. Or look me in the eye and tell me to my face you don't want to be with me. Then walk away and I won't chase after you. Your choice to make.”
Time seemed to stand still as he kept his eyes locked on her face, watching her indecision as she battled with her hopes, fears and desires. He saw her body angled for flight, her mouth open to frame his name, but heard no sound.
5th December 2018
The launch of Strand of Faith was just amazing and I'm still finding it difficult to believe that my book is out there, available for anyone to buy. Even more amazingly it hit #1 on Amazon's bestseller and hot new releases lists for its category! If you've read it, thank you so much, I hope you enjoyed it. If not, you're missing out - get it here! :)
The blog tour was very busy - if you didn't get to follow along you can see highlights of the reviews here, along with links to the full reviews - and they are very good! I also took part in some guest blogs; I'll pop those up on my Extras page over the next few weeks for you to see. There's one about some of the characters, one about the political structure of the world of Strand of Faith, one about housework and one about a 'typical' day in my life. (Spoiler, I don't have typical days.)
The last week or two have been pretty busy because book 2, Thread of Hope, was due with my editor, Sarah, at the beginning of this month. It'll be released on 2nd May 2019, so mark that day down in your diary. If you haven't subscribed to my newsletter, do so now so you don't miss it. And if you want an early look at the blurb, here it is.
Everyone has secrets. But what happens when those secrets creep out into the open?
Prospero is prepared to tell Leonie most of his past – if he can find her – but one of his secrets could send her running again. Several could harm any relationship they might have. And one could kill her. Dare he risk it?
Leonie is terrified of the consequences of sharing any of the secrets of her past with anyone. But not even Leonie knows the secrets that her very existence contains.
Gabriel is starting to discover the secrets inherent in Leonie and they could tear the world apart. Who does he turn to, and who should he share them with? There are plenty who might think they have a right to know, but if he tells the wrong one he could seal not just Leonie’s death warrant but those of millions more.
And no one has told Leonie the secrets of her necklace. When she discovers that, will she sacrifice everything and risk all that Gabriel has been working for?
9th November 2018
Less than a week to go to the launch of Strand of Faith and I'm getting really excited. The proof copy of the paperback arrived a few days ago and just holding it in my hands made everything seem very real. You can pre-order the ebook on Amazon here, and other ebook retailers here. The paperback will be available on Amazon soon, but you can also order it directly here from the company (Blurb) that's printing it. Or go into your local bookshop or library and ask them to get hold of it for you!
The launch blog tour starts on 15th November, organised by the amazing Rachel's Random Resources and you can see the details here on my Extras page. The tour also includes extracts, guest blogs from me, and Q and A sessions, so do join us on it. Follow me on twitter to keep up with all that's going on.
We've been very busy since my last blog. We spent some time with my mum, brother and sister-in-law, and then we've had eight days on a group tour in Italy. That was an amazing experience, visiting Rome, Assisi, Perugia, Florence and Pisa. I did my first book reading in Assisi, to members of our group. They loved the description and extracts and several have pre-ordered copies.
As soon as Strand of Faith is launched I'll be working on the rewrite of book two in the series, Thread of Hope, due out on 2nd May 2019. Sign up for my newsletter to be the first with the latest news on how that's going.
22nd October 2018
Just over three weeks until the publication of Strand of Faith and I'm trying to think what I've forgotten to do. The blog tour (starts 15th November for eight days) is all in place and the Kindle and other e-Reader versions are complete and uploaded ready for pre-order. You can pre-order for Kindle here and other e-Books here. The paperback proof will be with me by the end of the week. I can't wait to hold the actual book in my hands.
I've seen one review on Strand of Faith - it called the book magical, full of adventure with enjoyable characters, a must read for the genre which worked out wonderfully with depth and an all around unique synopsis. That made me very happy indeed!
And despite the fact that Strand of Faith isn't even published yet, I'm working on Thread of Hope, book 2 in the series. It will be released on 2nd May 2019, and needs to be with my editor by the beginning of December. Ollie, my cover artist, is already working on the cover for it, which I hope to reveal around the end of February next year.
Just to keep me busy, I also have a new contract in my day job - I'm a financial modeller and business planning consultant - which will take me into next year too.
I've been taking part in some of the #hashtag writer games on Twitter, including #sensationalWIP, #WriterlyWIPChat, #authorconfession and #TheMerryWriter. Each day there's a question about your work or writing habits which you can answer. I don't play every day, but if you follow me on Twitter, you'll get insights into some of the characters and the world of Strand of Faith.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll have seen the link to the prologue already (blog 15th October), but here's chapter 1 for you, too. And there's a little more information about two of my characters, Prospero and Leonie on the Extras page.
15th October 2018
Just one month to go until the release for Strand of Faith. I'm getting so excited! (and also nervous, but then the two go hand in hand).
At the beginning of October I had the final set of edits back from my editor, so that week was spent working on those. The second week was spent preparing the manuscript for publication - formatting it for the different formats and uploading it. Just one or two more tweaks and it will be ready, both as an e-book on Kindle and other e-readers and as a paperback. I've also been working on the blog tour that Strand of Faith will be on. It's being organised by Rachel's Random Resources, starting on 15th November, for eight days, and visiting 28 different blogs over that time. I'll be doing guest posts, questions and answers and there'll be extracts and a giveaway.
This week's tasks include providing books to ARC readers (if you'd like to be one, sign up for my newsletter and I'll be in touch), finalising details for the blog tour (I'll post them soon in the Extras section) and working out how else to market Strand of Faith. If you've got any good ideas, please do let me know. You can find me on both Twitter and Facebook.
Oh, and as a sneak preview, you can read the prologue here.
21st September 2018
Cover Reveal Day : Today is the reveal for my first novel in the series, Strand of Faith and I'm so excited to be able to share it. It's been designed for me by the very talented Ollie Pengilley. You can see more of his work on his website - https://www.oliverpengilley.co.uk . I saw him paint once and I have another of his originals hanging on the wall of our living room.
There are 43 bookbloggers taking part in the cover reveal organised by Rachel's Random Resources, so I'm expecting Twitter to be very busy today. Thank you so much to everyone who is taking part.
The cover shows my two main characters, Leonie and Prospero. I'll be revealing a little more about each of them over the next few weeks, so sign up here for my newsletter to be first with the news.
28th August 2018
Strand of Faith is now available for pre order on Amazon - click here - and on a number of other ebook retailers - click here. And the rest of the website is all working so do sign up for my newsletter to find out all the latest news, along with extras and sneak peeks.
Other than that, it's been pretty quiet on the writing front. My husband and I have had a weekend away with our eldest son, and then a week on retreat at the Harnhill Centre which was very relaxing and refreshing. For the first time, when new acquaintances asked me what I did for a living, I told them I was an author. Everyone was so enthusiastic, encouraging and excited for me.
Now it's back to work catching up with post and emails before getting on with all that publishing a book involves. This week's tasks include sorting out the details for my publication week giveaway, making sure my ISBN numbers are properly registered, and working on my marketing plan. I've done my author bio - you can read it here - but I think I'm going to have to sort out an author photo next. There aren't many pictures of me because usually I'm the one with the camera!
16th August 2018
It's been a busy few weeks, both personally and in terms of my writing. The manuscript for Strand of Faith is now with my editor, and I should be hearing back from her during September. I'm pretty nervous about it, but I keep telling myself that my beta readers enjoyed my writing, so this is about making the story as good as it can be, not about changing what the story is.
In the meantime, you can now preorder a copy from a number of ebook retailers - click here - and the link for preordering Amazon should be working within the next couple of weeks, if not tomorrow.
The cover reveal is still set for 21st September - I've seen the cover, designed by the amazing Ollie Pengilley - and it is awesome. There'll be a blog tour to reveal it, organised by Rachel's Random Resources and I'll make the details available as soon as I can.
Rachel's Random Resources (@rararesources) is also organising a blog tour for the book release, staring 15th November and running for eight days. I'll post details of that soon, too.
On the personal side, I've been arguing with the scales - they don't understand that the number they show should decrease each day - watching cricket, and trying to avoid editing a paper on Budgetary Theory (in my other life I'm an accountant). I think the next thing I need to do now is write my author bio, which I've also been putting off . . . .
24th July 2018
This is just a very quiet and soft launch of my website. Not all of it works yet, and the real launch will be in the second half of August. In the meantime, you can read about my books on the book page, and follow me on Twitter (sorry, Facebook isn't linked up yet). And if you would like to keep up to date with all that is happening, along with news alerts, sneak peaks, extracts and information about exclusive giveaways, promotions and other fun stuff, then sign up for my newsletter on the Newsletter page.
Key dates are:
Second half of August - website launch and pre orders go live
21st September - Cover reveal for Strand of Faith
October - sneak peaks and early extracts
15th November - Publication Day for Strand of Faith