On Saturday June 15th between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm, I will launch the 3rd book in the Castle Keepers series, Revelation Stones, at Dartmouth Book Exchange in Cole Harbour, the community in which I spent the first 29 years of my life.

I will also have copies of Book 1: Shadows in the Stone and Book 2: Scattered Stones of the Castle Keepers series as well as Book 1 in the Mystical series, a series within a series, Beyond the Stone.

Paperback Copies

Shadows in the Stone: $20.00

Scattered Stones: $24.00

Revelation Stones: $24.00

Beyond the Myst: $20.00

Some must get lost to find themselves.

After five years in prison, Isla of Maura is rescued when mercenaries break in to the dungeon. Burdened with guilt, she flirts with death while she learns to trust her newfound companions. When she’s caught in a feud between two ancient dwarf families, she must sort truths from lies, friends from enemies. If she fails, she may kill the wrong person.

If you love stories of adventure mixed with magic and romance set in archaic landscapes, you’ll love McGyver’s Revelation Stones. Unlike many fantasy novels, family plays a central part in this story, so be prepared for the hero to have her heart strings plucked by the song of home.

Revelation Stones continues to share the tales of the characters introduced in Shadows in the Stone and takes readers on a journey across Ath-o’Lea as Isla, now a young woman, struggles to find herself and make peace with the past.

The eBook is available at Amazon.

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This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series. This week, it’s Beathas of Ailsa.

Beathas of Ailsa

In short: Hauflin, female, in her mid-90s, magic-maiden, living at Moon Meadow

Family and Teen Years

Little is known about this magic-maiden and so far, nothing has been revealed about her family or younger years. She arrived at Moon Meadow when Bronwyn was just a boy. She made a home there in a small cottage on the top of a hill surrounded by lush gardens and several waterfalls feeding into a large pool. Before the series ends, much more will be revealed.

Where I Found Her Name

Magic-maiden BeathasBeathas was one of those Scottish names that appealed to me. When I read the meaning, having great wisdom, I knew this was the perfect name for this mysterious magic-maiden.

Ailsa was another Scottish/Viking/Gaelic name that appealed to me. It “originates from the language of the Vikings who named a Scottish island in the Firth of Clyde, Alfsigesey (meaning Alfsigr, or Elf Victory). As a result, it’s meaning has evolved to “supernatural victory”.

Hauflins have a tradition of naming daughter’s first with an original name and then their mother’s (meeme’s) name. With this in mind, Beathas’ mother’s name was Ailsa. Isla’s mother’s name is Maura (Isla of Maura).

Boys are given an original first name and their father’s (das’) surname. Liam Jenkin’s father’s last name was Jenkin, and Liam would give all his sons the same surname. Isla of Maura’s daughters would be given an original name and ‘of Isla’ would be added to the end as a ‘surname’ (for example: Dianna of Isla).

History in Real Life

Beathas was not part of the original story, though there were a few magic-maidens who provided information and magic items to the original group. These people were brought together in one character named Beathas.

Role in Novels

Shadows in the Stone: Although Beathas is mentioned many times, characters visit her cottage at Moon Meadow and we feel her presence, she doesn’t actually show up in this book. By the end, we have a good sense of who she is because of those who know her – Bronwyn, Alaura and Isla – and their impressions of their shared experiences.

Scattered Stones: Beathas has two small but vital scenes in this novel.

Waterfall magical mystic

Beyond the Myst: And there lay the mystery. Beathas does not appear in this novel.

Revelation Stones: She appears in one scene, gives Isla an item that helps her and she is thought about several times.

Healing Stones: This novel will be written in January, and I believe Beathas has at least one scene. Until it’s written, I don’t know anything else.

Others: I feel Beathas will be around for several more novels, providing guidance, magic items and the stubborn in-your-face facts some characters need to hear. And let’s not forget the ear-pulling to get someone’s attention. Honestly, I have no idea where her and Bronwyn’s relationship came from. It’s a mystery, but gosh I love their interactions.

A snippet of a scene with them together in Revelation Stones.

“Remove your clothing save your shirt and trousers.”

Bronwyn eyed Beathas. It sounded like an order. When he opened his mouth to protest, she stopped him.

“Do it now. We don’t have time for petty debates. You must obey immediately without question if we’re to save Alaura.”

He stood and removed his cloak and vest, tossing them on a nearby chair.

“Everything,” Beathas said firmly. “Boots, socks, sword, daggers, belts. Remove it all.”

Was this necessary? Or did she want to disarm him? When he was done, she inspected him.

“You wear a singlet. Remove your outer shirt.” When he made a face, she frowned at him. “I’d have you strip to your shorts if you weren’t ridiculously bashful.”

He gulped. She knew too well the old Bronwyn, the young man who had never loved a woman. He didn’t wear shorts, so he’d keep on his trousers. “Is this—?”

It is. You’ll thank me later.”

He unbuttoned his shirt and added it to the pile. “What am I to do?”

“As you are told without hesitation.” She motioned him towards the bed. “Lay beside her. It will save us from picking you up off the floor.”

He prepared to comment, but her expression left no room for doubt. He climbed onto the bed and settled beside Alaura. When he moved to grasp her hand, Beathas swatted him away.

“You’re not prepared.” She continued to stir the contents of the bowl. “Reserve your strength. You’ll need it.”

He nursed his baby finger, the one that had taken the brunt of the attack. He had never known Beathas to be so forceful. She had always been a sweet woman who had offered him gumdrops when he came to visit with his dad many years ago.

This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series. This week, it’s Tam Mulryan.

Tam Mulryan

In short: Dwarf, male, dark blue eyes, dark brown hair to shoulders, shaggy beard covers half his face, youngest of his kinfolk, born at Glen Tosh

Family and Teen Years

Tam is the son of Lillias and Conall Mulryan of Glen Tosh. He was born and grew up in that city by the ocean with a large family. I believe he has ten siblings; he is the youngest. His early years were spent working around Glen Tosh, mostly for his dad who owns a shipping company. Bitten by the bug to travel, he and his sister, Kellyn, set out to see the Land of Ath-o’Lea, eventually settling at Maskil, where their oldest brother Laird was a lord.

(more…)

This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series. This week, it’s Maisie Darrow.

Maisie Darrow

In short: Dwarf, female, born Rhunestone Castle on The Headlands of Mar, living at Maskil, mate to Gavin Darrow, maiden name Kintale, owns and operates Forest Bakery and Herbs Shop with mate, six children (3 boys, 3 girls): Calder, Molly, Joris, Loran, Rhiannon and Bronwyn, several grandchildren.

Family and Teen Years

Not much has been revealed about Maisie’s parents and siblings, but I feel there is a big story to tell there. She named her youngest son after her brother, Bronwyn. She and Gaven met in Glen Tosh, fell in love and united there. Soon after, they moved to Maskil where they set up their shop and raised a family.

Like all mums, she’s protective of her flock. Although she was busy with her shop, she paid special attention to her children, attention that will be revealed in later novels. Now that they are adults, she’s still an intricate part of their lives, particularly Bronwyn’s. She doesn’t hesitate to give motherly advice, and she also knows how to wheedle information from him as can be seen when he returns to Maskil after being gone a long time.

He swallowed hard. His mum had a way of getting him to talk and here in the bedroom, after his waking, was when she usually weaselled the truth from his lips. To protect Alaura, he couldn’t tell anyone where she was or that he had made contact with her. But here, under his mum’s scrutiny, he found it impossible to hide anything.

Her motherly advice on love appears now and again. Here she is giving it to Bronwyn in Scattered Stones:

“You get only one chance, you know.” She leant back and breathed deeply. “It’s why I pursued your dad. As bashful and tenacious as he was, I knew him to be the one. It was far from painless, but you can’t forsake those who touch your heart like no other.”

Her greatest joy comes from her family and like all mothers, she loves to feed them:

His mum gazed around the table. She enjoyed this most of all: gathering the family for the evening ration. It was the time to share their lives, the joys and the disappointments. She had often said it was the occasion to renew the family bond and for each to gather strength to carry on. He believed that now. One day he wanted to bring his family to the table and continue the tradition. When his mum’s eyes met his, he smiled. She returned the smile and a peaceful expression eased the lines in her cheeks.kitchen

Where I Found her Name

Would you believe from our miniature donkey? That’s right; our donkey’s name is Maisie.

History in Real Life

Maisie was not a part of the original story. However, by the time I revised that story written during my teen years, I was a mother. Through Maisie, I was able to guide Bronwyn in life.

I’ve been told that one thing that sets my epic fantasy stories apart from others is the family aspect. Most of the heroes in fantasy novels are orphans, and if not orphaned, they are estranged from their family, many not knowing who their parents are.

I can only assume the importance I place on family overflowed into my stories. It’s about time a hero had a loving, caring mum who’s there to patch up broken arms, make him cookies and to give unwanted motherly advice. After all, there are often only two women in a man’s life that can get him to do things he doesn’t want to do: his mum and his mate. Bronwyn needs both these women.

My interest in genealogy also played a part, and is why the Darrow and Mulryan family tree will be explored in the Castle Keepers series.

Role in Novels

Maisie pops in and out of the story in every novel, except perhaps in Revelation Stones. She’s there when a mum is needed. As I mentioned above, I believe Maisie has a wonderful story to tell, and this will be told in a future novel.

This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series. This week, it’s Sawney Cronin.

Sawney Cronin

In short: Dwarf, male, brown hair, brown eyes, born at Maskil, junior corporal with Aruam Castle, scout.

Family and Teen Years

The only part about family revealed in Shadows in the Stone is that Sawney has a younger brother. He sympathies with Bronwyn when Isla is kidnapped, and says he knows if his little brother, who is around Isla’s age, was taken, he’d take every risk to find him. No doubt, Sawney’s parents are living in Maskil, and he has more than one sibling.

Insider Tip: Sawney’s little brother was mentioned here not to connect Sawney with Bronwyn, but to bring the boy into the story. I don’t know what his name will be but look for him in Healing Stones. He’s going to do some bad before he does some good.

Sawney is a typical dwarf, went to Study Hall, completed his courses, tried a few trades, then enlisted with Aruam Castle because he has a sense of adventure. He’s dedicated to friends and family.

Where I Found his Name

Sawney was not part of the original cast in the novel written in my youth, but I added him because I wanted a few friendly faces on guard at the castle, ones Bronwyn could trust and ones readers would become familiar with over time.

In a search for names, I came across it, liked it, found it unique and assigned it to this quiet character. The last name, Cronin, was a name I liked at first, but I’m not a fan of it now. I wished I had picked a better one for this character who, unbeknownst to me at the time, has a bigger part in this epic tale than I first imagined.

Role in Novels

Sawney began as a private in Shadows in the Stone, and we see him promoted to junior corporal in chapter 10. He becomes more prominent when called on as a scout to track Isla’s kidnappers. He gets seriously injured when the dragon attacks and returns to the castle. Unlike the others in the group, he calls Bronwyn ‘Sarg’ instead of ‘Sergeant’…unless it’s official business.

Sawney appears in Vignette #9 where we see he’s made a special friend, Willow. Whether this grows into something more, you won’t know until Revelation Stones is released.

Sawney appears in Scattered Stones where “an intricate copper-coloured conch laced into leather decorated his scabbard belt.” He plays an intricate, silent part in the series, so I think he’ll be around for some time.

Insider Tip: Project M involves Willow, so Sawney might show up…but I’m only 5,000 words in, so I’m unsure what ground will be covered.

This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series. This week, it’s Isla of Maura.

Isla of Maura

In short: Hauflin; female; large brown eyes, long brown hair, born in Maskil; child; in the opening scene of Shadows in the Stone, her mother gives birth to her.

Family and Teen Years

Isla is the daughter of Maura of Ealasaid and Keiron Ruckle. Although few people know, a twin brother was also born that night. He was sent away to be raised by foster parents in North Ridge. Maura died shortly after giving birth to the twins. Plans were made for Isla to also be sent to North Ridge but her das intervened, and she spent the first five years of her life under Keiron’s abusive care.

Isla of Maura hauflin

When she was five, she became Bronwyn Darrow’s ward. What started as reluctant circumstances, turned into a loving das and daughter relationship. To end their arguments/discussions on a happy note, one will ask, “Do you forgive me?” The other will reply, “Like a sprite does the moon for shining so bright.”

When she was five, she met Liam Jenkins, a hauflin a year older than her. They became best friends.

Hauflins call their mothers meeme and their fathers das.

When Isla was born, Catriona gave her a small medallion with five blue stones imbedded it. Keiron promptly sold it. Her twin brother also got one.

Where I Found Her Name

I found Isla after an exhaustive search for the perfect name for this young girl. When I saw it, I instantly knew it was the right one. I loved it so much, I gave the name to my female sheep 7 1/2 years ago. It is pronounced with the long I, as if you were to say island. And that’s exactly what the name means: island. It is fitting for this young hauflin because for a large chunk of the series, Isla feels like an island, alone and unable to bridge the shore.

When she drank the potion and transformed into a marmoset, Bronwyn called her Button…because she was as cute as a button. Farlan calls her Little Sprite, and Sanderson calls her a young sprite. She calls him Sandy.

History in Real Life

Isla was part of the original cast that ran with the Warriors back when Bronwyn Darrow was simply known as Argon. She was a hauflin thief and loved being sneaky. She prided herself in being able to break in to strongholds and escape without detection. She was the spokesperson for the group and often talked them out of conflict more than talked them into it.

She was a free spirits soul who went where the wind blew her, and she was loyal to her companions and would easily risk her life to save them.

Role in Novels

Shadows in the Stone 2nd edition

2nd Edition Cover

Isla plays a major role in Shadows in the Stone. She is a smart, observant girl who loves to explore and feels at home in the forest. Since her earliest years, she’s been fascinated with stones, and by the time she becomes Bronwyn’s ward, she has a small collection. She enjoys fashioning the stones into necklaces, of which she shares with her family and friends.

In the first book, she is instrumental in bringing Bronwyn and Alaura together.

Isla plays a minor role in Scattered Stones even though the story is focussed on finding her. She jumps into the spot light again in Revelation Stones where she tries to find her way after enduring five years in a prison.

The first two paragraphs in Revelation Stones finds her here:

The cool evening air brushed loose strands of Isla’s brown hair from her face. The breeze caressed her skin, slipped down her neck and into her cotton shirt. The dark material had seen better days, but it provided basic protection against the elements. Not that it mattered. She tolerated the weather as she tolerated living.

Isla steeled her jaw as she surveyed Blackvale Castle from her perch in the embrasure, her back pressed against the cold stone of a merlon. She had been in almost every nook and cranny, every room on every floor, including many restricted areas, and every passageway that twisted both beneath and within the bulking, sinister structure. The black stone walls rose from the ground as if fangs from a ferocious monster, seizing anything and anyone in its grasp.

Hidden Secret: Maura’s name spelt backwards is the name of a famous castle in this series.

In the Land of Ath-o’Lea, there are six seasons that make up one succession. In general, the seasons correspond to the northern hemisphere months as such: Wintertide (January/February), Spring of Leaf (March/April), Springan (May/June), Sumortide (July/August), Harvest (September/October) and Forstig (November/December).

The longest day of the year is called Sumortide Solstice. The shortest day of the year is Wintertide Solstice.

winter

Wintertide in the Land of Ath-o’Lea