Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Bite Of... Unknown Protector


Today it is my pleasure to once again welcom the lovely Maggie Mundy with A Bite Of... Unknown Protector.

Can you, in less than five words describe your book Unknown Protector?
Angels, demons, aliens, paranormal, romance.

Who is your favourite character in this book?
Ridge is my favourite. He is a diamond in the rough who drinks whiskey has lots of sex and fights the bad guys. Underneath is someone who has been hurt so much he puts up this defence. When you break through you find someone who wants happiness for himself and others.

What inspired you to write it?

I found that a lot of angel and demons books have a background that is based on the angels from Christianity. I had this concept floating around in my head. What if it was all a myth.

And here's the excerpt!


“Please don’t drop me, please don’t drop me,” Nicole repeated as she closed her eyes. She didn’t like flying in planes, let alone being dragged through the night sky by an oversexed scruffy angel who was too hot for his own good. Or was it her own good.

“I won’t let you fall. Look around before we go over. I reckon you’ve guessed the events of tonight aren’t the way we normally do things. Humans aren’t meant to be aware of our flying through the night sky which means I can’t let you remember any of this.”

She took a deep breath and opened her eyes. His face was close to hers as he gripped her tight around her waist. It was too dark to read what he might be thinking from his expression. His lips were so close and her own were parting at the thought he might kiss her. She trembled, but not from fear anymore and hoped he couldn’t read her mind. They were being hunted and she wanted a kiss, no she longed for it. He had to be putting the thoughts in her head.

She needed to get her mind off him so she gazed down at San Francisco. Her adopted city stretched out below with steep streets reaching down to the harbor, while the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge shone in the distance, reflecting on the water below. She smiled as a tear flowed down her cheek. She had never seen it this way before. For a moment she forgot others were after them or after her in particular. She peeked over Ridge’s shoulder and glanced back over his wings as they glided through the sky. Three dark, winged shapes were following and could be seen against the light of the full moon. Maybe the full moon could explain why strange things were happening, because this was like staring at a scene from a horror movie, except it was real.

The shapes of their pursuer’s bodies blurred. She turned back to the city but the lights of San Francisco were disappearing. In the moonlight she focused on the face next to her. Ridge smiled and touched her cheek with his.

“It’s okay. I’m gonna get you a new guardian and all of this will go away. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”

She didn’t want a new guardian, she wanted Mira back. It went dark and reminded her of when she went adventure-caving in Australia. The absolute darkness of underground where not even a trickle of light breaks through, no matter how hard you look. She couldn’t see Ridge anymore, but the closeness of him and the darkness amplified the sound of his wings. For a moment they were all that existed in the universe. His lips touched hers and her mouth opened to him only to have him pull away. Did he mean to do that?

“I suggest you close your eyes and give your mind over to me,” he whispered.

Nicole shook her head and tried to get herself back to reality, whatever that was. “I’m not going anywhere with my eyes shut after tonight, and from what I’m picking up at times your mind seems a bit murky to let you in again.”

“Suit yourself darling, but don’t blame me if you pass out.”

Pain sliced through her temple. She squeezed her eyes shut and instinctively hugged Ridge tighter. His thoughts were in her head again telling her to relax, but this time it wasn’t working. She tried to hold down the rising alarm of what would happen next. Somehow she had an inkling it wasn’t going to be good.




Thanks for sharing Maggie.
 If readers would like to know more about Maggie Munday and her fabulous work, be sure to check out the links below.
















Thursday, October 9, 2014

Magic Thursday with Kathrine Leannan and the Magic of Critique Partners



Why I chose to speak about critique partners.
The universe planned a chance meeting between myself and the lovely and most talented, Erin Grace. She, a writer of historical romance, was much published—me, a writer of  fantasy? Not a run on the board. I have learned many craft lessons during these past three years. But most importantly, I have learned that like any relationship, as critique partners, there is respect and regard for difference. Now...here I am, a published author. Why? Because I was mentored in craft, scene structure and voice. But the most important lesson for me was to realize I was very precious about making changes to my work. I was holding my own work back. So this article is for you Erin Grace, my bestie, critique partner and mentor. I am grateful.








Who is Kathrine Leannan?
I smell rain before clouds gather across the sky. I feel the dawn before the sun paints my world the colours of the earth. It is the flit of gossamer wings above my head as I walk through the garden that warms my soul and makes me glad that faeries exist. The universe is my mistress and my strength. Things that growl in the shadows or snap at my ankles in the night are my dark friends—the source of my creativity. I, am Kathrine Leannan






Critique Partner or no Critique Partner? That is the question.

When seeking the mentorship of a critique partner or when critiquing someone else's work, a minefield can lay in wait, for the unwary. Our writing is our craft—our creation. As writers, we are sensitive not only about our work, but also, about how others perceive our skill level. To avoid hurt feelings or worse, broken friendships and a loss of momentum to write in the future, there are issues to be considered before inviting a critique partner to review your work and assist you on the journey to writing great books.
The first challenge is to ask yourself if you are ready to work with a critique partner. Not everyone is comfortable to amend or indeed cull altogether back story that really does not move the work forward. It is important for aspiring authors to find a critique partner that has more experience, so lessons can be shared and experience is gained. A positive attitude towards writing is vital as there are days (or longer) when the jaws of procrastination seize us and sabotage the writing progress. Writing is a joy, not a chore. 
Be aware that when another person takes the time to critique your work, there is an expectation that you will consider the tracked changes comments, in a reasonable time frame. Also, it is challenging to find the time in our busy lives to critique hundreds of pages at a time. Keep it doable. It is often frustrating to manage this amount of critiquing while your quill is lying un-inked on the table.
Maintain your voice, for it is your story. Be aware, when working with a more experienced writer that you may find your writing is changing or you may feel unsettled in yourself, that the work is not going in the direction you had planned. Remember to confine your growth as a writer, to the lessons of the craft and storytelling. Our voices are unique, let yours be heard.
I wish you the blessings of the universe and may the pleasure of writing, always be with you.
 Kathrine’s 1000 year old dragon Muse Mimi... She demanded an appearance so you can admire her magnificence (her words, not mine).
 



An excerpt from Warrior Born - Book 1 of the Katana Series

Exhausted after her practice session with Yokami, she slept a deep, dreamless sleep. Connor woke with a start when a hand touched her and shook her shoulder. Moonlight flooded through her bedroom window. She sat bolt upright, her hands clenched in front of her.
Marie jumped back out of reach. “’Tis only me, lass. The foal is comin’. Your da asked if ye would come to the round yard and help.”
She blinked a couple of times, then squinted at the digital clock sitting on the wooden table next to her bed. The green luminous numbers confirmed it was 4:30. She threw back the blankets and flung her legs over the side of the mattress. With her head down and bum up, she rummaged around on the floor for her jeans, socks, and boots. She snatched the sweatshirt flung over the back of the chair in front of her dressing table and struggled to get it over her head. As always, her hair stuck out in all directions like a birch broom. She gathered her waist-length hair in one hand, peeled the black elastic band from her wrist, and pulled the thick bunch into a high ponytail as she bolted down the stairs to the kitchen and out the front door.
A single kerosene light hanging from a wire hook on the top fence rail glowed a pale yellow in the dim, early morning light. Angus walked a noisy, distressed mare across the sandy expanse of the enclosure as she threw her leg through the space between the rungs and climbed into the arena.
Exhaustion lined his face. “I thank ye, lass, for comin’, sorry for the early start, but I’m worrit. The mare,” he ran his hands down her sweat-lathered neck, “should have delivered by now. I heard her groaning’ aboot ten o’clock last night.” He shook his head in frustration as he crooned to her. “I’m fashed about the size of this foal. Its great-grandsire was the stallion that almost scared your mother to death when you were just a wee thing. God help us, this foal was to be the finest Friesian we have ever bred. The bloodlines are as pure as they get.” He shook his head as sadness as disappointment showed on his face.
The mare groaned heavily as he clicked his tongue and urged her forward, walking the perimeter of the enclosure. The hoof prints and boot prints in the sand were testament to the many laps they had already walked.
Connor approached the horse, and then squatted down on her haunches. Her forearms rested on her thighs as she clasped her hands in front of her to maintain her balance. The mare, awkward in her movements, stood with her head drooping. Her massive belly looked sucked in, as if to escape the pain. Sharp grunting sounds heralded the next contraction. When she bore down, she wobbled on her front legs with the convulsive, shuddering effort of trying to expel the foal from her womb.
Connor rapid-fired questions without taking her eyes off the mare. “Da, what should we do? Has it been too long? Is the foal still alive?”
“I doona ken, lass. If she has not birthed by the coming of the sun, we’ll call Doc Evans, for surely the foal will be lost.”
Suddenly, a great flood of birth fluid drained from the rear of the mare. She groaned, strained, and bore down again. Her legs buckled and gave out as exhaustion claimed the last of her energy. She collapsed to the sand, snorting and panting. White foam bubbled around her dry lips.
“Nay, beauty, we canna let ye lay down just yet,” Angus cajoled as he clicked his tongue and strained on the halter to be bring her back onto her feet. He spoke over his shoulder. “Hold her head, lass. If we canna keep her upright, she’ll die for sure.”
Connor stood and moved to stand in front of the horse. She shortened the lead on the halter and took a firm grip of the cheek strap and the lead rein. Angus ran his hand over the wet coat as he moved quietly to the hindquarters of the mare and pushed his fingers, hand, and arm up into the horse’s hot flesh. He leaned his shoulder hard on her rump for leverage, as he pushed his hand farther up the birth canal, fingers searching to identity what part of the foal was presenting. He groaned, then his chin hit his chest. His eyes closed in defeat. In a quiet voice laced with pain, he looked up. “Connor…go oop to the house and get my gun. The bullets are in the drawer of the sideboard in the kitchen. The foal is stuck…there’s naught more we can do. ’Tis best if we end her sufferin’.”
“No da! No! Jesus no!” She released the halter and let the lead rope drop to the ground. Running her fingers over the back and belly of the mare, she soothed and crooned to her. “Da! We can’t lose this foal. You said yourself this foal will be the best we have ever―”
Lightning sizzled across the starless night sky as thunder rumbled in the distance. A rasping male voice mind-spoke to her. Summons the old ones, girl child of my blood. You will bring the Friesians to victory. Listen to your Highland instincts and do what you were born to do.
She turned in the direction of the voice. Standing next to her da was a very tall, muscular, wraith-like man dressed in a kilt and plaid held fast with a silver brooch that winked in the lamplight. She sounded very unsure when she spoke. “Da…?”
Angus followed her stare to the space beside him.
“Well met, grandson.”
His hand flew out to touch the barely corporeal image. “Jesus Christ, Connor!”
“Yes, da?”
“Nay, lass, not ye. This is yer great-grandsire from Scotland, the one for whom ye are named.”
The clan chieftain threw back his head and laughed. “Ye look as though ye have seen a ghost, mon.”
Angus smiled. “Ghost or no’…Christ I am glad to see ye. We were told Epona―”
Connor moved around the mare, smoothing her wet coat with her fingers as she walked over to stand beside her da. She cocked her head. “Epona? Epona? Where have I heard that name? How do I know that name?”
Her grandsire walked over and placed a hand on top of her head. “Blessed be, lass. Do what it is you were born to do. Save the one the clan has waited for.”
She looked to the clear starry sky as lightning sizzled just above her head. The thunder in the distance matched the shouts of the ancients, anxious for the Friesian of the old blood to be born.
The exhausted mare looked defeated. Her breath came out in raw snorts. Connor squatted down in front of her again, lowering her face level with the horse’s head. After placing her hands under the wet muzzle, she blew a slow breath down over the horse’s face. Her fingers stroked the lovely strong neck draped with three feet of black curly mane, the ends of which pooled on the trampled sand. The mare trembled, then screamed when the next paroxysmal contraction forced her to strain deep in her hindquarters.
Standing up, Connor walked behind the horse, shut her eyes, and placed both hands flat on the taunt abdomen. Blood and fear pumped under her fingers as she focused on the contents of the huge black belly. Blurry images came together as the shape of a foal formed in her mind.
“Oh Jesus.”
Angus stepped toward her. “Lass…enough. The foal is lost, it has been too long.”
The clan chieftain grabbed Angus's forearm and jerked him backward. He looked at his grandson and shook his head. “Let the bairn find the Sight. It is what we have waited for all this while…it is why you are here in this time.”
Connor looked up and frowned, then returned her hands to the mare’s belly as she closed her eyes and started moving her fingers along the black coat. “Come on now…that’s it…Jesus, da! No wonder this foal has not birthed. The position is… Oh crap! This foal is huge and God knows how, but it has got its head twisted backward. She can’t birth him until the head comes forward into position.”
The thunder was deafening now. The whites of the mare’s eyes were huge as the noise of the Horsemen both soothed her and terrified her. Connor worked her hands on the enormous belly. Suddenly a vivid green glow enveloped her and the mare as the lightning above surrounded her. The Horsemen roared as they channelled their power into her while she kneaded and manipulated the horse’s flesh. The stroke tracks glowed like phosphorescent lines on a roadmap. A sharp movement in the mare’s belly preceded a scream of pain.
Connor raised her head to the sky and yelled, “Thank you, grandfathers!”
The mare grunted and tossed her head, then gave one almighty push. The nose of the foal appeared, wet and shiny. With the next push, the slimy body plopped to the ground with a thump, severing the umbilical cord.
Angus and his grandsire were on their knees the second the foal hit the sand. He looked at his grandfather and shook his head. “Christ almighty, it’s a big lad. Will ye look at the size of him? Blessed be, he’s as black as the pits of hell!”
They watched while the mare stood, then used her sharp teeth to strip the membranes from the foal’s slippery body. The placenta came away unnoticed with a wet splash onto the sand as she continued to nudge and whicker to her new son. Within minutes, as is the wonder of newly birthed foals, the colt struggled to his long, wobbly legs, instinctively seeking his mother’s waxy teat, which he sucked into his mouth and began to drink.
The old chieftain pulled himself up to his full height, then walked over to Connor, gathered her up in his arms and lifted her off the ground as he whirled her around in a circle.
“Ye did it, lass! Christ, it was worth the wait to see you save the Friesian who will take our bloodlines to greatness. You truly are the one of our prayers.” As he kissed her on top of the head and faded to invisibility, his words rang out in the darkness. “Our thanks to ye. We will meet again, Daughter of the Highlands.”
Connor reached out to him, but he was gone. “Da?”
Angus beamed as he wrapped his arm around her in a tight hug.
“We doona question the ancients, lass. Just be grateful to know him for the great man that he is…er…was.” He stood with his arm looped around her shoulders, staring at the foal. “Jesus Christ, I have never seen anything like what ye did tonight. He’s right, lass. The foal and the mare would have died without ye and the Sight.”
They stood together, staring and smiling at the big beautiful colt. He turned to her. “What should we call him, then?”
Connor reached over and took the kerosene light from the hook on the railing, then walked around the mare, watching the foal as he suckled. “Well, he is as black as the pits of hell, that’s for sure.” A warm feeling of connectedness filled her chest. “I think we should call him Hades.”

Connor MacDonald, chieftain of the ancient Horsemen, resumed his place alongside his fellow warriors as they beat their swords against their shields in celebration. He turned to Epona, picked up her hand, and kissed it. Her tinkling laugh was like a feather across his heart. She smiled up at him as he spoke.
“She sees and knows the ways of the old ones without being shown. The Sight and the rune patterns of the ancients are known to her blood. She is indeed a rare woman and will become an even rarer horsewoman. Our bloodline will survive! The girl child of the Highlands has this night earned her place among the masters.”

Website:                                  Kathrineleannan.com
Twitter:                                   @KathrineLeannan
Facebook:                      https://www.facebook.com/kathrine.leannan/about

Buy Links:
Grimoire Books Publishing:  http://store.grimoirebooks.net/
Amazon Australia:                          http://www.amazon.com.au/Warrior-Born
Amazon.com                                    Amazon.com - Warrior Born


 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Good News Day





Welcome to this week's good news....

coming to you this week by Cassandra L Shaw



BOOK COVERS AND RELEASE DATES

 
Khloe Wren's first three installments of her best selling series Dragon Warriors are now available with Evernight Publishing
 

Book 1: 'Enchanting Eilagh' - Dimitri, Max & Eilagh 
 
Blurb:
Eilagh and her four best friends escape their jobs and lives for a few days to go camping. Fate intervenes and they get whipped away through a portal to The Land of Feury while hiking.
The Land of Feury has a problem. A virus killed off all their females years ago and Dimitri, their leader, has no idea how to solve the issue. When Dimitri’s twin, Max, finds a group of five unconscious females he can only hope of what might happen. When Dimitri and Max realize one of the females, Eilagh, is their Desired they are overjoyed.
But there is trouble brewing, and an uprising against Dimitri causes two of the women to be kidnapped. Will they be able to rescue their Desired and her friend in time? Will these five females prove to be the saviors their race has been praying for?
Buy links:
Book 2: Binding Becky - Drake, Savren and Becky
 
 

Blurb:
The Land of Feury has a problem. A virus killed off all their females years ago and a solution is yet to be found. When a group of five unconscious females are found, hope for survival amongst the Dragon Shifters runs high.
Becky and her four best friends are escaping from their stressful everyday lives to go camping in the bush. Fate intervenes and while they are hiking they get whipped away through a portal to The Land of Feury.
Brothers, Drake and Savren, discover one of the females is their Desired. They excitedly set about wooing the strong willed, independent Becky. Their plans do not go smoothly, Becky is kidnapped by rebels and taken from them. Will they be able to rescue their Desired in time? Will they be able to convince the ever independent Becky that having bonded mates is a good thing?
Buy links:
All romance ebooks
Amazon
Bookstrand
Evernight Publishing

 
 
Book 3: Claiming Carina - Denver, Phelan, Hart and Carina
 
Blurb:
When Carina goes camping with her friends she's hoping her
friends can help her heal from the horrific attack she suffered ten
months ago. The day after she confesses all to her friends around a
campfire, all five of them are blown through a portal to The Land
of Feury.
Dragon shifters call The Land of Feury home. Brothers, Denver,
Phelan and Hart, the clan's farmers, are excited when they discover
Carina is their Desired; their destined mate. But can they help her
heal from her from her past hurts? Will Carina ever be able to
accept the attention of three men after being attacked?
Buy links:

All Romance eBooks
Amazon
Bookstrand
Evernight Publishing






Donna Marie Hanson has two books coming out in her Dragon Wine series
with Momentum Books.


The dragon wine series is dark, epic fantasy set on a post-apocalyptic word with magic, dragons and a nasty world to try and save.

the first was on 11th Sept: Shatterwing


My good news is that my novel Dragon Wine that I’ve been working on for ten years is finally published. Book one, Shatterwing was out on 11 September.

http://momentumbooks.com.au/shatterwing-dragon-wine-1/














 Book two, Skywatcher is out on October 9. 








Find out more about Donna and her series at:


donnamareehanson.wordpress.com














Nicole Murphy has a story in an fantastic anthology, Phantazein
 

You think you know all the fables that have ever been told. You think you can no longer be surprised by stories. Think again.

With origins in myth, fairytales, folklore and pure imagination, the stories and poems in these pages draw on history that never was and worlds that will never be to create their own unique tales and traditions…

The next generation of storytellers is here.

Faith Mudge / Twelfth
Tansy Rayner Roberts / The love letters of swans
Thoraiya Dyer / Bahamut
Rabia Gale / The village of no women
Jenny Blackford / The Lady of Wild Things
Suzanne J. Willis / Rag and bone heart
Nicole Murphy / A Cold Day
Vida Cruz / How the Jungle Got Its Spirit Guardian
S.G. Larner / Kneaded
Charlotte Nash / The Ghost of Hephaestus
Cat Sparks / The Seventh Relic
Gitte Christensen / The nameless seamstress
Foz Meadows / Scales of Time (poem) reprint
Moni / Illustrations Scales of Time
Kathleen Jennings / Cover Art

Find it here: Smashwords  Amazon Kobo

Friday, October 3, 2014

Real Life Paranormal with Kathrine Leannan



Pain Eased 


In every hospital in which I have ever worked, there have been stories of ghosts that ring patient buzzers or those who make mischief for the nurses. I can't say with any degree of certainty that these stories are anything more than urban myth, designed to scare student nurses into quivering wrecks. I do however, recall an event that was neither myth, nor imagined...

It was 1978. I was in my third year of nursing training. The night shift, as always, was gloomy and foggy in the frigid Glen Innes, winter. Frost clung to the glass of the windows, making the patterns of frozen lace tendrils. After taking handover from the evening shift, I picked up a metal file and walked down the hallway. The ankle high corridor lights illuminated the length of the ward. After looking in on my patients to make sure everyone was settled for the night, I came to a stop and stood in the doorway of my last patient. The small bedside lamp on the wooden locker next to the bed, cast a soft yellow light that flickered across the ceiling. The only noise was that of a hapless moth, drawn to the glow from the bulb. Its wings batted against the shade. As I opened the metal file, I leaned down towards the light. The records confirmed she was just forty years of age. I could not help but stare— she looked seventy. The ravages of pain had tracked deep lines into her face, as had the cancer that had insidiously destroyed her body.

She lay unconscious, her Cheyne Stokes breathing, uneven and rasping. I brushed her hair then smeared cream on her lips, trying, but failing, to improve her comfort. The rattle of impending death, continued in a chilling staccato. The sound seemed to vibrate through my bones and teeth.
At a little after two in the morning, I approached her room. My feet stopped suddenly, when from the doorway, I saw a beautiful young woman hovering above the end of the bed. Her long blonde hair was piled up on top of her head. The sweetheart neck line of her gown was modest, although the sleeves were set back to reveal her d├ęcolletage the edge of her shoulder. The hem line of her old fashioned crinoline dress hung down like gossamer vapours. I became aware of how very cold the room was, as I watched in fascination, as my breaths fogged in front of me. She looked to me then smiled, hesitating for several seconds. We just stared at each other. I felt as if I were a statue when she nodded then turned her head and floated across the room and through the glass of a closed window.

 I walked into the room. My patient was dead. She was also so very beautiful. The lines of agony were gone, replaced by the pallor and peace of death. The death angel had come to collect her and take her and she was ready to leave. Blessed be.

~ ~ ~

  From the immortal kingdom of the Samurai, Imperial Leader Yokami Sukani and his eternal wife Tomoe Gazen, yearned for the child they knew they would never create. Her Katana keened bereft, for the next Daughter of the Sword. Bishamon, the God of War and his blade, wreak havoc in his endless pursuit of pain and suffering.

The Sword of War must disappear, forever.

The Scottish Highlands, 14th April, 1746. The battle of Culloden Moor—is just forty eight hours away. Epona, goddess of horses, dogs, healing springs and crops prayed with the old mothers for the come of the girl child prophesized to be born with the Sight for the magnificent Friesian horses.

The Samurai's Katana recognises Marie MacDonald.

A bargain struck.

In modern Australia, the awaited one, Connor MacDonald is birthed. In the far distant sky, a low grumbling sound thrummed across the horizon, as the blood of the ancient Scottish Horsemen stirred and woke from their three-century slumber. The girl child of their blood, in her first cry, Summonsed them, awakened them, and they smiled.

Brutality found her. Her cries Awakened the ancient Samurai. Those who spill the holy blood of the Samurai, will feel the bite of the Katana. Clan justice befalls those who would harm a Scot's kin.

Bishamon, mad with rage, hunts for his blade.

Will he regain his instrument of destruction?

Born of the blood of the ancient Scots. Named daughter by the immortal Samurai. Doubly blessed or doubly cursed, will Bishamon make Connor MacDonald his instrument of revenge against Yokami Sukani?


Available from Amazon and Grimoire Books



 Kathrinne Leannan: I smell rain before clouds gather across the sky. I feel the dawn before the sun paints my world the colours of the earth. It is the flit of gossamer wings above my head as I walk through the garden that warms my soul and makes me glad that faeries exist. The universe is my mistress and my strength. Things that growl in the shadows or snap at my ankles in the night are my dark friends—the source of my creativity. I, am Kathrine Leannan

Website 
Facebook
Twitter @KathrineLeannan




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Magic Thursday with Nicole Murphy ~ The Magic in Writing Plus Giveaway!



Please welcome Dark Sider Nicole Murphy to Magic Thursday this week! Today Nicole shares how she sees writing as a kind of magic (no argument from me there!) and there is also an excerpt from her latest release, Loving the Prince. Nicole is also generously giving away an e-copy of Loving the Prince to one lucky commenter on this post :-)

Nicole also writes contemporary romance as Elizabeth Dunk for Escape Publishing.

Over to you, Nicole!

Writing is a kind of magic. Sure, there are skills involved, and you can learn how to be better at it, but then there’s that indefinable ‘something’ that leaps off some pages, and doesn’t leap off others. If we writers could capture and bottle that ‘something’, we’d all be JK Rowling.

The problem is that it’s hard to pinpoint why some words work, and others don’t. For example, I have a theory that it’s important to FEEL what you’re writing. If it’s a sad scene, you should be sad. If it’s an erotic scene, you should be turned on. When that happens, it’s like your feelings flow out of your fingers and onto the page. You can study the vocab, the sentence structure, and not really find anything different to other writing, yet people react to it.

And yet, there are days when I don’t want to write, and I force myself to. The writing that comes out at those times can be very workmanlike and feel uninspired when I’m doing it. But on reading back, the simplicity and strength of words written when I wasn’t trying to be anything shines through.

Some people will say it’s about your characterisation. When the reader falls in love (or even falls in hate) with a character, they’re dragged into the story because they need to know what it going to happen.

Some will say it’s about the world building – creating a space for a reader that’s safe, but is also unique and interesting and enables them to escape their ordinary lives.

Some will say it’s the plot and it needs to be exciting and page turning and you need to build and release tension at just the right time to keep the reader with you.

Maybe it’s all three together? Or maybe the simple fact is that no one knows why readers cleave to some books and not to others.

In the end, all we writers can do is a write a book that we love. That we enjoy. That sucks us in and takes us away. That we are proud of. And then send it out into the world and hope like hell that other people feel the same way.

Whatever genre you write – every writer believes in magic.



Excerpt from ‘Loving the Prince’, Nicole’s latest publication.

Her foot hit something and then she was falling.
Two hands grabbed her, wrapping around her torso and hauling her up. She was aware of her body being pressed against another, her feet off the ground. Then she was put down and the hands that had saved her took hold of her shoulders.
‘Cassandra. Are you all right?’
Of course, Cassandra thought as she looked up into Kernan’s dark eyes. It was symptomatic of how her life was going that it would be he that caught her and stopped her falling.
‘Fine.’ She pulled out of his grasp and turned to see what she had tripped over. Nothing. Oh Peace, how embarrassing. ‘Sorry about that. I’ve got a lot on my mind.’
‘You have nothing to apologise for. Hera explained last night how stressful things are at work.’
They stood and stared at each other and Cassandra wished she knew what to do about the situation Hera was dragging her into.
‘Well, I’d better keep going,’ she said cheerfully.
‘Actually, I was hoping we could get a drink.’
The surprising announcement made Cassandra’s stomach clench. ‘Really?’
‘Hera speaks very highly of you and I’d like to get to know her family better.’
‘Oh, right.’ Of course. Hera. Cassandra quickly considered and discarded a number of reasons to say no. She had no option. ‘Sure.’
They went to a cafe near the running track. Both ordered water, and sat under a shady tree.
‘So, Hera tells me you report directly to her at the RBMC,’ Kernan said. Cassandra was glad she hadn’t yet taken a sip of her drink — she would have spat it all over him.
‘Really?’ The next time she saw Hera, she was going to kill her, family unity be damned.
‘Are all the board members working for the company, or is just Hera who’s that dedicated?’
‘Oh, Hera’s very unique.’ And very, very dead.
‘She certainly is.’ Kernan’s lips twisted, a little, but it was the first glimpse of happiness he’d shown.
Great. He really did care about Hera. Fan-bloody-tastic.
Cassandra decided it was time to get him off the topic of Hera. ‘How long have you been in Rica? Last I heard you were stationed in Angonia.’
There was a sudden intensity in Kernan’s gaze that was discomforting. ‘You know about me?’
‘I don’t have the stripe, or the implant, but I graduated security. In fact, I was in the audience during your speech after the Haityn incident.’
To Cassandra’s astonishment, Kernan blushed.
‘Just doing my job,’ he murmured.
‘A very good job,’ Cassandra said. ‘You ended up on the King of Angonia’s personal guard after that. So why are you back in Rica?’ As she asked the question, an answer came to mind.
Hera. Her cousin had accompanied Venus to the last planetarium meeting. Undoubtedly, that was where she’d met Kernan and he’d been so infatuated, he’d resigned his commission and followed her home.
‘I want to work for the RBMC.’
Cassandra blinked. ‘Really?’ How many times had she said that today? What had happened to her vocabulary?
‘It’s been my dream, since I was a boy. Everything I’ve done has been aimed at getting to the top of my profession, so I can get the best, most secure job possible at the company.’
‘And then what?’
Kernan grinned and it was such an anomaly, and such a great smile that Cassandra’s heart skipped a beat. ‘I don’t think we know each other well enough to divulge all my secrets.’
‘Then why tell me what you have?’
‘Because that’s no secret. Hera knows it and would undoubtedly tell you sooner or later. I’m surprised she hasn’t already started bugging you to help me get a job.’
That’s because she doesn’t want you working at the RBMC, Cassandra thought. If you do, you’ll find out she doesn’t. ‘And so I find out why you really wanted to chat to me today.’
Kernan reared back from her as though she’d pulled a blaster on him. ‘Peace, no. In fact, please don’t do anything to help me get a job. If I can’t get it on my own merits, I don’t want it.’
It wouldn’t have been the first time someone asked her to do a favour, but this was absolutely the first time someone had forbidden her from doing so. ‘I promise. No help at all. If someone asks, I’ll bad mouth you as much as I can. Entirely your own merit.’
‘Well, you don’t have to go that far.’
‘Oh, it would be my pleasure.’
Kernan looked at her, then shook his head. ‘Hera never mentioned you have a diabolical sense of humour.’
‘That’s because Hera doesn’t think I’m that funny.’ What was her cousin going to do when Kernan did get a job at the company? Cassandra had no doubt he would.
‘I have to go.’ She stood and Kernan did too. Nice manners. Her father would be impressed. ‘Best of luck on the job hunt.’
‘Thanks. Try to keep your attention on the track next time.’ He held out his hand.
Cassandra looked at it and with trepidation reached out and took it.
Energy zipped up her arm. His palm was calloused from years of holding a blaster and his grip was firm but his fingertips were gentle on the back of her hand. What she wouldn’t give to feel his touch all over her body.
‘Bye.’ She reefed her hand from his and for the second time in their acquaintance, beat a hasty retreat from his presence.
Once out of his sight, she slowed and sighed. Dammit, why did she keep doing that? If she weren’t careful, he’d think her a complete idiot.
Not that he’d think of her at all. Stupid, Cassandra, she chided herself. Stupid.
She kept up the chant all the way home.

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