The Dragon Shifters at Southgate is the second book in The Seers series. It opens with the protagonist, Talwyn, fleeing for her life. At only eight years old she is still considered a baby by her people, who live for hundreds of years. Hidden under a rock by her mother, Talwyn evades detection, but emerges from her hiding place without a home or a family to return to. Three hundred years later and Talwyn is still haunted by the memories of that tragic day. Moreover, as a Seer she has now been having visions of an even more bleak future.
The world is laced with what Talwyn calls “ley lines”. Lines that form a diamond shape and surge with powerful energy that sorcerers can harness. Where the lines meet, a sorcerer’s power would grow even stronger, and this location is called the Source. Talwyn relays the history of the battles fought over the Source and the great powers it grants. This rich backstory is what kept me turning pages. It’s intricate and intriguing but leaves room for your imagination to wander. A powerful sorcerer by the name of Anceannmor discovered the nature of the Source and that when the planets align just right, the Source has unprecedented effects. In this case, it granted Anceannmor a great boon. The sorcerer opened a gate to another realm and let the demons of that realm roam free in the world. I enjoyed the balance of power in this world, things were believable (as much as they can be in an epic fantasy novel) but was still fascinating.
Talwyn explains how the gate was closed and that keystones were crafted and distributed all over the realm along the ley lines. However, if the keystones are united and the celestial alignment is just as it was when Anceannmor initially open the gate, the gate would open once more. The pace of the novel picks up quickly and rarely lets up. I enjoyed the balance between story telling and action. Champions such as Talwyn have sworn to protect the keystones, but as the very same celestial alignment draws near Talwyn and the other Seers having been having worrying visions of the future. Thus, Talwyn takes it upon herself in a race against time to find and warn other people who also protect their keystones: the elusive dragonkin.
Talwyn must gain access to this closed community who are equally as devasted by the actions of Anceannmor, and equally cautious of outsiders. The story follows Talwyn’s journey to visit the dragonkin, and in particular to win the trust Dreyken the Dragon Lord. But Talwyn’s duties as a champion and protector of the realm often conflict with her wants and needs, as she struggles to live in the aftermath of Anceannmor’s tyranny. Anyone familiar with The Elder Scrolls series will feel right at home in the myth and legend built around the people and world.
The Dragon Shifters at Southgate is Sherry Leclerc’s seconds book in The Seers series and is a fantastic follow up to the previous book. The world is so rich with lore that one constantly feels welcomed back to the novel by its secret forest or the mountainous caverns of the dragonkin. The high-fantasy of this novel adds an interesting abstraction to the very real feelings of loneliness that an individual may face in the aftermath of hardship and war. For this reason, I give the book a four out of five for its intricate plot and the realism that sits at the heart of the fantasy.
Pages: 425 | ASIN: B07LC437FY
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A Seer Champion sworn to protect Southgate. A Dragon Shifter Lord sworn to protect his clan. Can they bring their peoples together to defeat the evil forces that threaten to destroy them all?
Seer Champion Talwyn Sevi must protect Southgate and its keystone against the evil forces that threaten their destruction. Knowing she cannot do it alone, she seeks help from a group of reclusive Dragon Shifters. In return, she offers them information vital to their survival. Can Talwyn gain the Dragon Lord’s trust in time to save Southgate and the dragonkin?
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This is book two in The Seers Series. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from book one and what were some new ideas you wanted to introduce?
Some themes I wanted to carry over from the first book are:
-The classic good versus evil
-Acceptance of those who may be different from us
-By joining together, individual differences can make a stronger whole
Some new ideas I wanted to introduce are:
-Learn from the mistakes of the past, but don’t let them keep you from moving forward
-Love and life are possible again after loss
-Stand up for what you believe is right
There were many great, and well developed, characters in this book. Was there anything from your own life that you put into your characters?
I think every author puts things from their own lives into their characters. Sometimes, we put different aspects of ourselves into the characters, sometimes there are traits we see in others that we put into the characters. I did both things.
In order to write good, well developed characters, you need to be able to understand human behavior at least to some degree. Writers must be aware of our own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of those around us. We need to be understand how emotions and physical sensations translate to body language and facial expressions. And the best way to learn human behavior is to observe those around you, and to take a good, honest look at yourself as well.
Where will book three in The Seers Series take readers and when will it be available?
Book three in the Seers Series will take readers on a trip through the Sacred Forest, where they will visit an elven village and a bear shifter clan. Then they will go to Fair Harbor, a fishing village on the west coast of Sterrenvar, and finally to Westgate.
Plot-wise, the readers will learn more about the seers and some other of the magical races in the realm. They will learn more about the evil sorcerer, including some insights into his plans and motivations. They will get more clues about who he is and what started him down his dark path.
As of right now, I plan to publish the third book in the series in the spring of 2019, barring any unforeseen complications.
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Right from the very beginning the book has an air of suspense. The plot unfolded easily and the characters were easy to understand and like. All of this led me to flipping pages quickly. We are immediately introduced to Talwyn Sevi and her mother and sister running through the woods. The author expertly narrates how the three had been running away, passing through the woods and even hiding. I had no idea what they were running from but my anticipation was high, and I wanted to know more.
The story got juicier when I got to know Talwyn’s age. She was over three hundred years old, and all she was having were memories. The other interesting thing was that the events in her dream-memory had happened when she was just 8 years old. That was such a long time to remember some things. I loved that during their time, her people could live for over eight hundred years. I tried imagining how life was for them, and how they viewed life seeing that one could live for centuries. The other exciting thing was that Talwyn’s people didn’t experience adolescence until they were twenty-five or thirty years old. Thinking about it, it made sense because a thirty-year-old could not be described as a full adult considering how long they lived. This is reminiscent, for me, of the depth of lore found in well developed series like Dungeon’s and Dragons, or The Lord of the Rings series.
I enjoyed Talwyn character, she was not only loving but also cared for the people around her. I loved her sense of humor and how she was able to bring moments of levity into dark situations. Her whole personality was lovely. I, however, didn’t understand why she kept questioning her clear memory. As much as some of the things she remembered were unpleasant, I would not have minded having a memory as good as hers. Overall, Talwyn was my favorite character. Anwyl was another character I admired (I know, it sounds like every character is my favorite). Being the greatest metallurgist the seers had ever seen was an achievement. Anwyl was the only being Talwyn had who had been allowed access to the mountain. I love that he was useful, as most fantasy novels give someone a job with no real use; he mined rare metal and made whatever the dragonkin needed. I really loved the traits in the characters. That the shifters could shift between human and animal form at will was eccentric, but amusing regardless.
The Dragon Shifters At Southgate: Seers Book II is a creative piece of literature with an action-packed plot and well developed characters in a world with a rich backstory. This book has an enthralling story line that constantly hints at something larger. The author’s writing style is simple, making it easily accessible by anyone, and her way of narrating the story naturally capture’s the reader’s interest.
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In The Guardians of Eastgate 2nd edition you had the chance to go back and rewrite some things that you felt needed to improve. What were the areas you focused on and how did you overcome the challenges?
The areas I focused on the most were dialogue and action – showing versus telling. I also took the opportunity to develop the characters and the seer people a little more. As the author, I already knew my characters, but I thought it would be good to reveal a little more about them to the readers as well.
It didn’t really feel like a challenge, exactly, to write more dialogue and action, and to develop the characters more. I think it was more of getting past an internal block on my part, rather than whether or not I could write that way. Once I started doing it, I really enjoyed fleshing out the story action and characters.
What I needed to do was to slow down and be patient, and to be confident in my story and my characters. What I mean by that is, I needed to allow the characters to live out the story in their own words and actions, instead of wanting to just hand it to the readers from a narrator’s perspective. I think there was a little nagging voice of self-doubt when I was writing the first edition that I needed to get past in order to put my story out there more fully.
Looking at the novel a second time, what were some things that changed for you while writing?
I think I rushed too much with the first edition. I had this idea in my head for over twenty years, and I wanted to get it out there to the world. There was a fear or an urgency where I think I worried that if I didn’t get it out there asap, I wouldn’t follow through and the story would never make it out into the world.
With the second edition, I had to take more time. I had hired a cover artist to do the covers for the rest of the series and I decided to re-do the cover of the first as well, so that the series would be uniform. Then we decided this would be a great time to work on the series and brand logos as well.
At this point in the game, I was also doing a lot of reading on the writing craft itself, such as on self-editing, outlining and structuring novels, and so on. Since the cover art, brand and logos would take a while anyway, and I would be putting out a second edition because of the new cover, I decided this would be a great opportunity to work on some of the elements in the first edition that I wasn’t happy with.
I think the overarching change for me here was that I realized I needed, and wanted, to slow down and enjoy the process. I read a lot and practiced, and I started to become more confident in my work and my capabilities. So, I feel more comfortable in putting more into the stories, which is essentially putting myself out there. I also believe I can better prioritize the story itself over getting it out there quickly. After all, a good, well-written story trumps getting it out there fast.
I understand that you have a third dan black belt in Taekwondo. What made you pursue Taekwondo and do you feel it helped you in writing fight scenes?
I have been a student of martial arts since I was 15 or 16 years old. I started in high school with Kenpo Karate. I’m from a small town in Newfoundland, and there were no other choices in martial arts around to consider at that time. You could say that my sensei had the market cornered in our area. But I really enjoyed it.
When I went to university, I switched to Aikido, mostly because I was a poor student, I lived on campus, and I didn’t have a car. So, I studied the martial art that was available to me on campus. It is a completely different style of martial art than karate or Taekwondo, teaching more about “moving off the line,” which I reference in my books, and using an opponent’s body weight and momentum against him or her. So, I am glad I practiced Aikido for those years because it gave me a different point of view and helped me to understand movement and defense better.
Once I began teaching, moved to a larger city, and had my own vehicle, I suddenly had more options available to me. I found a school that taught Taekwondo, and I really enjoyed it.
At one point, I decided to use my degree to work and travel, and I went to South Korea to teach English. For any who don’t know, Taekwondo is the South Korean national sport, and most young people study it at some point. I found out that a student’s father, who didn’t speak English, was a Taekwondo master with his own school. So, I asked my supervisor, a Korean man who spoke English, to ask if I could join his school, and he agreed.
Considering that the students in that Taekwondo school had one hour of lessons/practice FIVE days a week, and six days a week in every month leading to a test, I was able to progress quickly in the two years I was there. And I continued with it when I returned to Canada. After living in South Korea for two years, I now feel a connection to this particular martial art because I have a better understanding of the historical and cultural significance of it.
I do think it helped me with my fight scenes. I know what is possible and not possible, how to move to attack, defend or counter attack, and so on. Of course, I write fantasy, so my characters can be faster, stronger and more agile than real humans (although, you might be surprised at what some Taekwondo students can do), but I believe my training helps me to keep it fairly realistic.
Of course, I love martial arts, and I love sparring. There is a part in the book when Maelona tells her friends that she loves fighting more than she should, and her trainer used to get mad at her for smiling when she sparred. That was me in my Korean Taekwondo school. My instructor didn’t speak much English, but he spoke enough to tell me, “No smile! Serious!”
I don’t really like people fighting in real life when it’s not for sport, but put it in a sport setting, or in an action movie (I love action movies), and I think it’s pretty exciting. I don’t know that everyone who reads my fantasy novels enjoy that same kind of thing, but I think that having this training enables me to better convey the anticipation, the skills, the subtleties, and the back and forth between opponents in a clear and exciting way.
Have you begun writing book two in the series? When will it be available?
The rough draft of Book 2 is about 85% complete. Progress lately has been slow, with working to get this first book out there, my full-time job and my family.
I am really enjoying the story and I’m looking forward to getting it out there. Most days, I wish I could devote more time to it, but there are other things that take priority at the moment. For example, I am looking into having this book, The Guardians of Eastgate, made into an audiobook. I have had a few readers ask about that prospect, and I think it is a good idea, so I want to try and make that happen.
My original goal was to have Book 2 ready to publish in mid to late spring. Now that I am looking into making an audiobook of Book 1, however, it will likely be published in the summer.
I will be posting updates on my website and social media, so stay tuned!
The magical realm of Sterrenvar is a world filled with fantasy creatures, swords, sorcery, action, adventure, seers, shifters and sorcerers. It is a realm divided by differences, where the inhabitants keep mostly to their own species or race. When a group of seers are warned through visions of an evil, dark sorcerer intent on ruling the realm, seer champion Maelona Sima must set out for Eastgate to defend a magical keystone that can help protect the realm. Along the way, she must gain allies and convince the differing peoples of the realm to stand together as one to save their world from its biggest threat in three-thousand years. This new, expanded and revised Second Edition of the Guardians of Eastgate (Seers Book I) includes an extra 12000+ words worth of added dialogue and extended scenes.
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In The Guardians of Eastgate Maelona, one of the four champions of the Seer race, is tasked with protecting the realm of Sterrenvar from an ancient evil that threatens the land. Maelona struggles to protect the very people who once hunted and killed the Seer race out of fear and mistrust. Maelona and the other Seers fight to protect four keystones from being breached by evil forces. Maelona soons finds that this proves to be an incredibly difficult job. Is she up to the challenge? She teams up with her friends, a wolf shape-shifter, and a human prince, on her quest to save Eastgate from destruction against evil forces.
The Guardians of Eastgate by Sherry Leclerc was an amazing read. The first edition felt more like an outline of the story it didn’t dive into the detail or flesh out the characters. It felt more like a summary of an existing story. This second edition was far better, from extended scenes to extended dialogue which makes helps to develop a rich and complex plot that is both easy to follow and leaves you wanting more.
Leclerc takes us on a beautiful journey in a world filled with fantastical creatures, sorcery, shape-shifters, swords and so much more. It was an interesting choice to make a standard figure of fantasy, the seer, into an entire race of guardians. I cannot wait to explore more of this race in the coming series. They are fascinating, but I felt we’ve only seen the surface of a vast ocean.
I was impressed with the complexity and variety of the story line. The author expertly combines elements of romance and mystery into a suspenseful read, that includes an array of compelling characters. The romance between between Maelona and Blaez was intriguing, and lends to the emotional appeal of this novel, but the story is punctuated by some intense fight scenes. If you’re looking for fight scenes that are realistic, Sherry Leclerc has a third dan black belt in Taekwondo, and her expertise is apparent.
This 2nd edition of The Guardians of Eastgate, I felt, allows this series to really take off. It’s an appropriate start to a series that is brimming with potential on par with the Dragonlance series. I will definitely be looking out for the next book. I loved traveling with Maelona on her journey and can hardly wait to meet the next champion. You will be sure to enjoy this book if you enjoy magic, sword & sorcery, action. adventure, and romance.
Pages: 189 | ASIN: B079X5D9Q1
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The Guardians of Eastgate is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, adventure, and romance as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The genre-crossing was both intentional and organic. I knew I wanted to write a fantasy-adventure, but I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to include romance. Some of my favorite books are fantasy-romance. However, I knew I didn’t want to narrow my audience by going into erotica.
I liked the way romance was handled in novels like Twilight, The Hunger Games and the Divergent series: it was present, but it wasn’t the main focus, and it wasn’t explicit. These were not books I would have to worry about my kids reading as teens, for example. Writing romance in this way left them accessible to teens all the way through to adult. So, I knew that if I did include romance, I would want to handle it in this manner. The Guardians of Eastgate is rated as Young Adult, but I wanted it to be accessible to teens and older adults as well.
I didn’t make the final decision to include romance until I was writing their interactions, however. In fact, I wouldn’t really call it a decision. Rather, it felt like the natural progression of the relationship between the characters. So, in this way, it was organic. The way I see it, their relationship is complicated (due to their histories), yet also inevitable due to their personalities and shared histories.
As for the adventure part, well, what is fantasy without adventure, really? I am a huge fan of Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings was required reading in my Advanced Literature class in high school. At first, I found his writing tedious, and had to wade through it. By the time I was done, though, I was thoroughly hooked and grateful for all those details. There is no way I will even try to compete with Tolkien, however. I loved his world and character building, but knew that I would not want to take on writing on that grand a scale, especially for my first novel.
One reason for this is knowing that, in our time, people work a lot and have many scheduled activities for themselves, their kids, etc. Because of this, I purposely kept my book on the short side for a novel, and made my chapters short as well. However, after feedback from some of my readers who basically said they enjoyed the story, but would have liked to see more of certain elements, I am now considering doing a revised and expanded second edition.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character is my main character, Maelona. However, I did not find her easy to write for. She is a very subdued character who, for a large portion of the story, is denying or ignoring huge parts of herself due to guilt from past events. So, how do you reveal a character’s personality through their dialogue and actions when they so tightly control their actions and emotions? I knew I wanted to use the third person narrative, which took revealing her character through inner monologue off the table. I didn’t want to switch to the first person though, as I wanted readers to feel the distance she creates for herself partly through the distance the third person provides. It is a complicated mix, and it was difficult to find the right balance. I did enjoy trying to find that balance, though.
I probably like Blaez and Gareth equally. Blaez, however, though not as tightly wound as Maelona and more emotionally open, is also calm in actions and words, so revealing his character was also tricky at times. Gareth was perhaps the easiest to write for, as he is cheeky and wears his heart on his sleeve, as the saying goes.
Maelona is a seer champion tasked with protecting the realm and is the first line of defense when evil rises. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
Maelona is essentially driven by her guilt over what happened at the crater of sorrows (which we find out about when she tells Blaez the story). She blames herself for what happened and she feels extreme guilt and an intense sense of loss over the accidental death of someone close to her.
Her father was a powerful seer who took his responsibilties to the seer people, and to the entire realm, very seriously. He believed, as did most of the seer people, that his race’s “advantages” over the other races gave them the responsibilty to watch over the realm and all its peoples (kind of like that “With great power comes great responsibility” line in Spiderman). They believe, essentially, this was what they were created for, and they continued to believe this even after their people were persucuted and hunted out of fear. In a sense, Maelona is an overachiever because she is always trying to make up for the loss of her father. However, she also had to work harder to fill his shoes because she is denying the most powerful parts of herself, parts she considers to be dangerous and that she is afraid of losing control over.
With this new mysterious and serious threat to the entire realm, however, she will need these most powerful parts of herself. Her letting go of her tight contol on her emotions and opening herself up to her new friends, and especially her new love, mirrors her letting go control of those “scary” parts of herself. This is why the romance between Maelona and Blaez ends up being so important. It is her relationship with him that allows her to stop holding back those pieces of herself that scare her; to take a chance on those parts because the potential gain is worth it. It is her relationship with him that allows her to begin accepting herself, all of herself, for who she is.
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
I am already 40,600+ words into the second novel of the series. I haven’t settled on a name yet, but it will focus on the Seer guardian of Southgate. Between finishing the first draft, self-editing and revising, having beta readers look at it, then sending it off to the editor for a few rounds of revisions, etc. etc., I don’t expect it to be published until late winter, early spring.
I have also decided to do a second edition of The Guardians of Eastgate because I will be re-doing the cover. I have hired a visual artist to do the book covers for the rest of the series and I want them all to be uniform. Due to reader feed-back, I am considering expanding on the interior narrative as well. You can check on my website or social media accounts to stay updated on whether or not I will expand the story, and when the second edition with the new cover (and possibly extended storyline) will be released.
Maelona Sima is one of four seer champions tasked with protecting the four keystones from being breached by evil forces, thus leaving an immeasurable magical force free to be used against the realm’s inhabitants. Yet Maelona is more than a seer. She is unique in her world, and she is the best hope of survival for the people of Sterrenvar…the very people who once hunted down and killed many of the seer people out of fear and mistrust.
Protecting the keystones is the first line of defense against the evil sorcerer who wishes to enslave the realm. Can Maelona, the guardian of the keystone at Eastgate, and her friends Blaez, a wolf shifter, and Gareth, a human prince, bring together their peoples to save Eastgate from destruction in this first book of the Seers series?
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The Guardians of Eastgate by Sherry Leclerc, is a classic fantasy tale. Maelona Sima is one of four champions of the race named seers. As a champion Maelona is tasked with protecting one of the four keystones that protect the realm of Sterrenvar from evil. When an evil sorcerer rises up, seeking to enslave the peoples of Sterrenvar, Maelona at the keystone at Eastgate is the first line of defense. But will the prejudice and oppression against the seer people work against her? Maelona teams up with a human prince, Gareth, and a wolf shapeshifter, Blaez, but the question remains, will it all be enough to stave off this tide of darkness?
Leclerc’s book is a fantastic fantasy novel accented with the inevitable threat of evil and darkness confronted by a ragtag group of “heroines and heroes”. Since this is the first book in a series there is a sense that there is plenty more story to come. There is something for everyone though, between world building, action and romance between Maelona and Blaez. Leclerc’s writing is easy to follow and the book itself is not long, just under 200 pages.
The “choppiness” of Leclerc’s chapters left more to be desired, since they seem to cut in every four to five pages. This tended to throw me off more than kept me turning pages. Because chapters can be natural stopping points I wanted the book to take advantage of longer more engaging chapters rather than serving all of the good parts up so quickly.
It was an interesting choice to make a standard figure of fantasy, the seer, into an entire race of people who are guardians. In some ways, it makes sense based on their foresight abilities but I felt like the race needed to have more depth, which could easily be built in the coming books. The Guardians of Eastgate is brimming with potential that should be brought to fruition but is hampered by the short narrative arc. The next book should prove to be more exciting if such world building continues to be developed and deepen the point of view of the characters there in.
Readers will enjoy this novel for how technically well written it is. Wait for the next installment because this story is begging to be expanded.
Pages: 165 | ASIN: B07579TCBC
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