Nikki McCormack: Forbidden Things: Dissident

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Surviving the Solitary

by Nikki McCormack

One of the biggest challenges to writing is the solitary nature of the craft. Regardless of the genre you write in, from the moment you first start putting words on a page, you are putting your trust entirely into a vision that exists only in your head. No one else can see exactly what you’re making until you’re at least done with that first drift, which means you have to have faith in your vision and your ability to express it well. Having that kind of faith in yourself is hard.

Many of us grow up watching our loved ones struggle with self-doubt, fear of failure, or the tendency to put others before themselves. We learn by example, becoming experts at doubting and second-guessing ourselves. We let the needs of other be more important than our needs. All of these things can make it incredibly hard to believe that writing is worth prioritizing.

People around us can also have a hard time understanding what we’re doing when we spend so much time working on our novels, especially if they want some of that time. They can’t see the ultimate vision and it can be hard for someone who’s never done that kind of writing to fathom the amount of work that goes into it. In some cases, people can unintentionally feed the doubt and guilt by treating your writing as only a hobby or complaining about the time you invest in it.

Even once you get to the point of working with beta readers and editors and, in some cases, agents and/or publishers, the majority of the task is still very solitary. However, this is when you start to get some of the feedback you need to prove to yourself that your writing is important. The challenge now is that the feedback will include a lot of constructive criticism needed to help you improve, which can also feed self-doubt in those long lonely hours working on yet another edit.

Then you publish. This is when the best and worst come together. Reviews and letters from fans of your work really do make everything worthwhile and often help friends and family understand what you were working for a little better. Once again, however, if you get many sales, you’re going to get a negative review once in a while. It is easy to focus on the negatives, but you have to hold the positive feedback close to your heart and grow a thick skin against the other. The positives are the ones that will keep you going forward and help you build the confidence you need to put out the next book.

Almost everything you do as a writer requires long lonely hours. There isn’t much you can do about that, except get a cat or two and maybe a dog. That’s my advice. Then, whenever you have to take what my writing group now refers to as a ‘despair break,’ you will always have someone around who is up for a supportive cuddle or a few minutes of stress relieving play.

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About Forbidden Things: Dissident

Ascard power can strengthen, heal and create. It also has great potential to destroy, enough to topple entire governments. Indigo’s country places strict limitations on the use of ascard so she must channel her talents into the healing arts or risk severe punishment. An orphan from a disgraced family, trapped by her father’s treason, Indigo struggles to reclaim her place in a society that has driven her into an abusive engagement.

Then a mysterious stranger from a neighboring country contacts her using ascard. He needs help escaping his prison so he can bring an end to his emperor’s oppressive rule or die trying. His unshakable devotion to his cause and the passion hidden behind his cool arrogance move her to help him at the risk of being branded a traitor herself.

When the politics of society bring them together a second time, Indigo decides to use her growing powers to help him fight his war. If only she dared fight for her own future with such passion. Perhaps she can find the courage to do so by helping the man she has fallen for win his revolution. She might have exactly the power he needs to succeed.


Resolute, he turned and stepped between the pillars.

The sudden pressure on his lungs was welcome. If he understood the prison, he would return to his rooms in the stronghold, the place he was taken from.

His head spun and he stumbled. His knees struck hard on the pale marble floor of his bedchamber. He ended kneeling like a man at worship before the stand on which he kept his sword. The weapon waited there, a seamless blending of Lyran and Kudaness design tempered with ascard. The gentle curve of the blades razor edge glinted in the light, sharp and clean.

A slow smile spread across his lips and he laughed. When the laughter faded, he stood and grabbed the sword belt lying beside the weapon. He had to tighten it several notches past old wear marks. He gripped the pale wood hilt, delighting in the balanced weight of the lethal blade. It felt natural in his hand, an extension of his being. In a life full of frustration, the weapon was simple and pure. There was no doubt as to its purpose and no question of how it would serve him. If only people could be so simple.

He held his breath, listening to the song of the blade sliding into the sheath. It was exquisite. It sang of blood and vengeance.

He stroked the hilt, his gaze drifting to the door leading out of his chambers. “Shall we see who’s home?”

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_ForbiddenThingsDissident copyNikki started writing her first novel at the age of 12 (which is still tucked away in a briefcase in her office). Despite a successful short story publication with Cricket Magazine in 2007, she treated her writing addiction as a hobby until a drop in the economy left her with an abundance of free time to focus on making it her career.

Nikki lives in the magnificent Pacific Northwest tending to her awesome husband, two sweet horses, three manipulative cats, and a crazy dog. She’s a wine and tea fanatic who loves sitting on the ocean in her kayak surrounded by open water or hanging from a rope in a cave, embraced by darkness and the sound of dripping water. She also enjoys horseback riding, archery, PC gaming, dancing, good anime, etc. She studies Japanese and practices Iaido because she believes we should never stop learning.


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