Before supermarkets and corner stores provided the bulk of the food, humans grew their own in the backyard. Many also grew herbs to enhance the taste of their baked and cooked goods. Although times have changed, I keep several pots of herbs on the kitchen windowsill to use in soups, scrambled eggs and other dishes. It’s fast, convenient and inexpensive.

herbs

Given that the Castle Keepers series takes place in an archaic time, it’s no surprise potted herbs grace the windowsills of many homes, including that of Alaura of Niamh and Bronwyn Darrow.

When Liam Jenkins visits, he makes note of this.

Chapter 13, Scene 2

“Liam.” Alaura nodded her head towards the kitchen. “Let’s allow them to talk. I’ll get you a drink of water.”

He lifted Isla by the hips and squeezed past her to follow Alaura down the short hall. The compact, eat-in kitchen was perfect for a small family: two parents, two kids. It was similar to his dwelling when he was young. It even had a pot of herbs on the windowsill. He pushed the memories from his mind; he didn’t want to think about that time.

Alaura poured a glass of water from a pitcher kept near the back door and offered it to him.

“Thank you.” He took a sip and remembered the flavour of Maskil water. It tasted sweet compared to that in Wandsworth.

“It’s good to see you well.” She leant against the countertop, and her gaze swept around the kitchen.

“I was surprised when Isla told me you were livings here.” He took another drink. “I thought you’d have moved to Petra or another place.”

“I like Maskil.”

“And Bronwyn.”

“I can’t deny that.”

“I thought you were only friends, but Isla knew. She told me so, but I didn’t believe her. I mean, you pushed him into the lake.”

She laughed. “She’s perceptive, and that was an accident.”

“She is. It’s like she can read my mind.”

“She knows your history?”

He shrugged. “She knows me. She trusts me.”

“She still likes you?”

“I still like her.”

 

Book Cover Reveal

Healing Stones is the 4th book in the Castle Keepers series. The proof is on the way. While I wait, I want to share the full cover. Here it is.

Healing Stones fantasy novel

 

When I first saw a picture of the Giant Ficus Tree (Ficus benjamina) many years ago, I knew that tree grew in my fantasy world. I even knew it would entrap someone within its branches. Fast forward to Healing Stones, book 5 of the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series, and we find this tree growing in the first chapter.

Isla of Maura, McGuigan and Lyneth happen upon it on their way to Moonsface. Here’s the start of the scene. You’ll have to wait to see who is trapped in it.

(more…)

Origins

 

The name Bannock came from Scottish bread: bannock. There are sessions when I’m writing quickly, and I don’t have much time to search for a name because I want to ride the story wave. In this case, I think I may have been listening to Dean Brody’s Mountain Man and in it, he says he can make bannock.

BAM! The name of a village was born because it was as good as any I could find in that desperate moment.

 

The Land of Ath-o’Lea

 

We first hear of the village in Healing Stones. It lies along the trail between Moonsface and Inglenook. At the entry of the elf settlement is a sign post created from stone and a thick, carved log that reads: Welcome to Bannock, the hubbery of Knollton Mountain Range: Population 2,467.

(more…)

Origins

 

I’m a genealogist in my spare time, and this hobby provides the perfect opportunity to discover unique names, including place names. When I stumbled upon Moonsface in an old record for Newfoundland, I knew it was also a place within the Land of Ath-o’Lea. The place name no longer exists on Earth maps, but it was supposed to be in the Burgeo-La Poile District and was used as early as 1825 and as late as 1857.

 

The Land of Ath-o’Lea

 

We first hear about Moonsface in Shadows in the Stone, book 1 of the Castle Keepers series. Lady Glynn Dasia of Aruam Castle mentions it and says she was born there. In book 2, Scattered Stones, Morrigan Fae tells others she was born in Moonsface.

In the short story, The Pledge, Alaura of Niamh mentions she might visit the village one day.

The cast of Castle Keepers don’t visit the large village of Moonsface until Healing Stones. It’s located on the long, winding water course Blue Myst River. It’s situated south of Edgewood and north of Eld’s Keep. By horseback, it’s about 35 days from Maskil, longer in bad weather.

We only get a glimpse of Moonsface. We learn the majority of the population are elf and in the centre of the village, there’s a pillory in a small green space. The two shops named are Ample Bothain, where the group drops off a package and picks up another job, and Eoghan’s Keep. They are located across the dirt lane from each other with wooden sidewalks in front. Ample Bothain is owned and operated by mates Bess and Harry.

 

Ample Bothain from Isla’s perspective

The little shop overflowed with a wide variety of foods, and the magnificent aromas filled her nostrils and made her think of the bakery in Maskil. When they were done, she planned to buy several of the fruit displayed on the counter. They were like nothing she’d seen before. They resembled an apple, but they were dark purple.

I’m certain we’ll visit Moonsface in future stories.

Not only is this the start of a new year, it’s the start of a new decade. We’re entering the Roaring 20s. Or shall we call it something else? The Fantastical 20s. That sounds perfect to me.

Healing Stones, the 4th book in the Castle Keepers series is set to launch soon.

The story opens with Isla of Maura, McGuigan Mulryan and Lyneth camped on the outskirts of Moonsface. Isla is waiting for the other two to stop arguing when someone steals her horse. She gives chase and the action begins.

This story takes place three moons after where Revelation Stones ends. The trio spent six weeks in Maskil, healing, working and earning coins to finance their trip to Wandsworth where they’ll search for Liam Jenkins.

Moonsface is a large village on the Blue Myst River, south of Edgewood. It has taken the group more than a full moon cycle to reach it from Maskil. They still have at least two weeks of travelling before they reach Wandsworth, but the weather is mild and they are enjoying the journey.

The Land of Ath-o’Lea

This isn’t the finished product, but it’s close to it. The front and back cover of Healing Stones, the 4th book in the Castle Keepers series has a slightly different design than books one to three. On the back cover, the poppy remembers our veterans, and the maple leaf symbolizes Canada.