An Introduction to Some Characters - first published on Audio Killed the Bookmark

I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce you to some of the main characters in Strand of Faith.

First there’s Prospero
He’s about 6ft 2in tall with short black hair and deep blue eyes, so dark they are almost navy in colour. He’s been a monk for some years now and he finds that both satisfying and fulfilling. He comes across as confident, sure of himself and strong in his faith. He works as a doctor and enjoys everyday clinic work best, just making other people’s lives that little bit better. Like all the doctors where he works he has a specialism. In this environment about a quarter of the population have some degree of mental ability such as telepathy or telekinesis. Prospero’s specialism is dealing with what happens when something goes wrong with that ability. 

Prospero himself is very Gifted with such mental abilities. He’s strongest at telekinesis – moving things with his mind – but he’s also skilled in telepathy and teleportation. He doesn’t have any real ability with pyrokinesis (setting fire to things) and just a very little skill in precognition. 

He doesn’t think he has a favourite colour, but if he had to pick, he’d say green. He sees food as fuel and will eat whatever is on offer although he’d definitely miss bacon if it wasn’t available. As well as being a doctor, Prospero works in the gardens at the monastery, mainly with the flowers and foliage used for decorating the monastery, hospital and Abbey. As a result he’d say that one of his hobbies is flower arranging. He’s also interested in social and cultural history – where various customs and traditions come from and what they mean.

Prospero’s closest friend is Andrew.
Andrew is also a monk. In fact, they’ve been monks for almost exactly the same length of time, although they were already close friends before that. Andrew is slightly shorter than Prospero and fair where Prospero is dark. He’s quiet and thoughtful, which makes many people think that Prospero is the leader and Andrew just follows him around. Actually, their relationship is much more complex than that.

Andrew is also a doctor and he specialises in the development of the mental gifts, which makes the two of them a very useful team. Andrew is also very Gifted himself. He’s not as good at telekinesis or telepathy as Prospero but much better at pyrokinesis. 

Andrew helps out in the stables and he’s good with horses – he’s been looking after them all his life. He’s also skilled with languages, being fluent in most of the common ones in use in the world.

Their world is going to be disrupted by Leonie.
Leonie is a lot of trouble wrapped up in one small package. She’s about 5ft 4in tall, with flaming red hair which curls and tangles at the slightest opportunity. She has honey coloured skin and dark grey eyes which flash with green when she’s excited, angry or simply using her Gifts. Although she doesn’t realise it, she’s more Gifted than either of the other two.  

She’s a very private person and life has taught her that it’s best to keep out of the way and try not to be noticed. The problem is that she’s inherently noticeable. She hasn’t yet learnt to manage her Gifts under all circumstances and the thought that she might hurt someone by accident really worries her.

Her favourite colour is yellow and she can’t stand scarlet. She has a very sweet tooth and a particular liking for chocolate chip cookies. Her favourite breakfast is pancakes and bacon with lots of maple syrup. Leonie loves baking, particularly bread, and experimenting with different recipes. She’s also skilled in the use of herbs for medicinal purposes. She enjoys swimming but her favourite hobby is reading. Given the opportunity she’ll curl up somewhere comfortable with a good book.

I’ve enjoyed writing about these three and many others in Strand of Faith – I hope you enjoy reading about them just as much. If you do, let me know on Twitter or Facebook, or leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads – or both. Thank you.

Enjoying what you're reading? Get Strand of Faith and Trader's Child free if you sign up to my newsletter (opens in new page)

An Introduction to Some More Characters - first published on everywhere and nowhere

On the blog tour for Strand of Faith, I introduced you to three key characters, Prospero, Leonie and Andrew. 

Today, I thought I’d introduce you to a few of the other characters.

Lord Gabriel is both the High Lord of House St Peter and the Abbot of the monastery there. Fortunately he’s very good at delegation. Brother Benjamin runs the hospital, Lady Sarah manages the college, Sister Elizabeth is in charge of the convent and Lady Eleanor handles anything to do with the part of the Great House that isn’t a monastery.
Gabriel is in his late fifties and has been a monk for about thirty years. In his teens he spent some time living and travelling with Traders. He is very Gifted, having all the major Gifts – telepathy, telekinesis, pyrokinesis and precognition – and extremely powerful, but he uses his Gifts as little as possible. His strongest Gift is precognition and he sees visions of possible alternative futures, along with the knowledge that his actions will determine which future actually takes place. This terrifies him.

Lady Eleanor is the same age as Lord Gabriel and also spent time with the Traders in her teens. She married young, to Harry, and went away to live with him in a different Great House. Harry died when their daughter, Melanie, was very young, and Eleanor and Melanie then came to live at House St Peter to be near Eleanor’s brother. Eleanor is very capable, very organised and many people at House St Peter (and elsewhere) find her slightly scary.
She’s an avid reader and has a (secret) addiction to romantic fiction, but it has to have a happy ending. She’s also very Gifted, with one of her key skills being telepathy, although again she doesn’t use it much. I think there is some history between her and Brother Benjamin, but I haven’t found out what – yet.

Sister Chloe is one of the nuns. She’s in her early twenties, with deep brown eyes and mousy brown hair. Like Eleanor, she’s very organised and so, despite her youth, she runs Lord Gabriel’s office, schedule and communications. From her teens, her only ambition was to become an nun, and she’s one of those people who is always happy, always content, always sees the positives in everything. Chloe is definitely telepathic, but she can also see what’s happening in other people’s dreams if she is near them when they are asleep.  Turns out, she’s also a really skilled manicurist. And she likes chocolate chip cookies – the ones with gooey middles. 

The Them. Every Gifted adept has nightmares as their Gifts develop, based on their worst fears and experiences. The nightmares are different for each adept, and the stronger their Gifts are, the worse and more terrifying the nightmares. Leonie’s nightmares are peopled by the Them, always dressed in black, hooded and cloaked, always reaching for her. If she runs from Them, they chase her; if she attacks, they fade away and reform elsewhere. If there are real people around when she’s having a nightmare, she’ll see them as the Them. You’ll have to wait until book 4, Cloth of Grace to find out the full story behind the Them, but here’s an early appearance from Strand of Faith.

The Them were coming for me and the only thing I could think of was that I needed to get back to the campus. The Them swirled around me, cloaks and hoods billowing in the breeze. I had no weapons, nothing I could use and they were coming towards me, getting closer and closer, surrounding me. I took my courage in both hands and charged into the Them who were directly in my path. They melted away like mist as I reached them, but now they were behind me and chasing me. I ran and ran but somehow they appeared ahead of me. I grabbed a sword which turned to a javelin in my hand so I threw it. Now the weapon melted away but the Them were still there. I gathered the power, throwing it directly at them as I ducked sideways. I was running through treacle; I struggled against it knowing they were closing in on me and I couldn’t get away.

I’ve enjoyed writing about these characters and many others in Strand of Faith and Thread of Hope – I hope you enjoy reading about them just as much. If you do, let me know on Twitter or Facebook, or leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads – or both. Thank you.

Enjoying what you're reading? Get Strand of Faith and Trader's Child free if you sign up to my newsletter (opens in new page)

Housework - first published on B for Bookreview

I don’t like doing housework and I’m sure I’m not alone. But I know people who enjoy it, and I’m told that if you’re being paid to do it for someone else it can be very satisfying. I enjoy doing the laundry and the ironing, yet my husband will agree to doing almost any other domestic task just to avoid that. (Early in our marriage he agreed to do all the washing up. Somehow we bought a dishwasher within a week!) Anyway, my point is that any household has a range of domestic chores that need to be done and different people like or dislike different jobs.

When I started creating the environment in which my main characters lived, I wanted it to be a place where, if I lived there, I wouldn’t have to do the chores I don’t like (it’s my world, after all). Strand of Faith is set in the Great House St Peter, which is the home of the High Lord, Abbot Lord Gabriel, who effectively rules the whole territory of House St Peter. The community includes the monks and nuns who live in the monastery and the immediate household of the High Lord.
They also run a college, hospital and extensive farms with any number of people who attend or work at these, but those people aren’t part of the household. Those people might eat with the household, or live under its roof, as many of the students do, but they aren’t committed to it in the same way that household members are.

Everyone who is part of the household has their everyday needs – accommodation, food, clothing etc – provided. But they all have to contribute to the household too, not only in what we would call ‘the day job’ but also in the domestic chores necessary for the household to function. Andrew, one of the monks, explains it to Leonie (Lord Gabriel’s new ward) one day when he, she and Brother Prospero are in the gardens.

Andrew was amused by Leonie’s surprise at Prospero’s detailed knowledge of the wide range of flowers and greenery used to decorate hospital, House and Abbey.

“While everyone in the House has a job – you’re a student, we’re doctors, Pedro’s the chef,” he said. “We’ve all got a domestic role, too, to keep everything functioning. You work in the kitchens, I work in the stables, but Prospero works in the gardens, so naturally he knows about the plants.”

Leonie frowned. “How can the kitchen be Pedro’s job and my domestic role? Aren’t they different things?”

Andrew agreed, “Yes, they are different. But everywhere, gardens, kitchen, stables, the workers will be a mix of those for whom it’s their job and those for whom it’s their domestic role. But those for whom it’s their job tend to be more senior, and in charge in each area.”

That satisfied her and she went charging off to look at another plant that had caught her eye.

I’d be happy to work in the kitchen, laundry or gardens – just so long as I don’t have to do the cleaning!

I’ve very much enjoyed creating 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.

Enjoying what you're reading? Get Strand of Faith and Trader's Child free if you sign up to my newsletter (opens in new page)

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.

Enjoying what you're reading? Get Strand of Faith and Trader's Child free if you sign up to my newsletter (opens in new page)

A Writer’s Routine - first published on Turn the Page

One of the frequent questions put to writers is about their routine – a polite way of asking ‘What do you actually do all day?’ I certainly don’t have a ‘typical’ day, but I didn’t have typical days before I started writing either.

As well as writing I work freelance as a business financial management consultant, mainly in the public sector, doing things like financial modelling, business plans and budget management. I aim to work about half time on average, but that can mean a couple of hours one week, full time (or more) the next and nothing the week after that. I have a couple of voluntary roles too, which involve evening meetings, as do church activities. My husband is also employed half time, with additional voluntary roles and, like me, he works from home. It all means that our working days are quite flexible and varied, and that’s something we both enjoy.

If I have no other plans or meetings, I’ll aim to be at my desk sometime between 9am and 9:30am and the first thing I tend to do is check and read my email. Anything that needs more than a very quick response I’ll put to one side to deal with later. I’ll probably also have a quick look at Twitter, though I try not to spend too much time on social media – I can easily get distracted and find the morning has disappeared.

I have a ‘to do’ list for each day which helps me prioritise what I need to do even if I’ve had to add all the things I didn’t quite manage to complete the day before. The trouble is, not all tasks are created equal – ‘rewrite Thread of Hope’ (the sequel to Strand of Faith) is on a totally different scale from ‘order more printer ink’! If I have a really big task, I’ll break it down to a series of much smaller ones, so that I can feel I am achieving something. I like the feeling of ticking things off on the list, so I do tend to start work with some of the smaller and easier tasks – completing them encourages me to move onto the larger or more complicated items. But once I get into a big project – a first draft, or editing, or developing a spreadsheet – I’m totally into it. I don’t want to stop or do any other tasks, and when I do have to stop for some reason (eating for example, or sleep) I’m eager to get back to it.

I generally stop for an hour or so over lunchtime, and if I’m not in the middle of a big project, I can find it hard to get going again. That makes the early afternoon a good time for virtual meetings, phone calls or some of the little and easy tasks. Or I might go and do something domestic, like the ironing. Unless I’ve got a looming deadline, I tend to stop work between 5pm and 6pm, though I might well have an evening meeting, or some other evening activity. If we’re both home (rare), my husband and I usually spend the time together, watching a film, a box set or something we’ve recorded.

I’d love to spend my whole time either writing, editing or creating spreadsheets, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. If you are self-published, as I am, you need to spend as much time on marketing as you do on writing. Strand of Faith is the first (but hopefully not the last) book I’ve published and it’s been a steep learning curve. I’ve learnt about book cover design, commissioning professionals, creating both eBooks and paperbacks, blog tours and the wonderful book blogger community. And I now know an awful lot more about using social media, Goodreads, eBook publishing aggregators (I’ve used Draft2Digital who made it very easy) and Amazon.

I hope you enjoy reading Strand of Faith as much as I have enjoyed writing it. If you do, let me know on Twitter or Facebook, or leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads – or both. Thank you.

Follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon

Copyright 2024 Rachel J Bonner All rights reserved.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Drag and Drop Website Builder