Post-apocalyptic paranormal romantic fantasy
Housework - first published on B for Bookreview
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.
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.