Tag Archive | fantasy romance

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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Rhea Rhodan and “The Legacy of Buchanan’s Crossing”

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About The Legacy of Buchanan’s Crossing

What price will destiny demand?

Warding the Crossing has always been Cayden Sinclair’s destiny. With her beloved Gran growing weaker, it’s time the little witch took her place. Juggling substantial curves for her frame and an inconvenient inability to control her power has always been a serious challenge. But not until discovering her fated Keeper is the extremely hot, tragically clean-cut insomniac who’s ignored her for months, does she truly fear failing her legacy.

Now that he’s finally on the road to the top with an offer from a big developer, Clint MacAllen can’t allow his struggling construction company to be threatened by a vicious nightmare, or his inexplicable attraction to a goth clerk working the graveyard shift at HandiMart—no matter how potent they are.

J. Milton Developments has its own agenda for Buchanan’s Crossing, and they’ll spill blood to get it.

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MEDIA KIT thelegacyofbuchananscrossing-500Skate…roller skates. He recalled a well-rounded ass in a tight leather skirt, strong white thighs, black lace gloves, and a matching umbrella, for God’s sake. But it was night, dark, and certainly not safe, not all the way out there.

“I’ll give you a ride.” The words had bypassed his struggling brain and gushed out of his mouth. He didn’t regret them though, because he felt better as soon as they hit the air.

She considered his offer longer than he thought necessary, given her options.

Finally, she said, “Why would you do that for me?”

The answer came easy, the part he understood anyway. “Because it’s not safe to be bicycling or roller skating through some of the neighborhoods between here and Bradley, especially at night. Besides, I owe you one for bringing that scumsucker Dillon in here.”

And because he was uncomfortably, inexplicably fascinated with her.

“I don’t care about him. It was you I was disappointed in.”

He was digesting her statement when she went on. “Okay, I accept on one condition: You have to borrow this book.”

“You hardly know me. How do you know I won’t wreck it, or keep it, or sell it?”

“So I should feel safe putting myself in your hands, but not an inanimate object?”

Shit. “Well, not in my hands exactly.” Now why had he said that? What was it about her that made it so damn impossible for him to get a grip?

About the Author

MEDIA KIT Author PhotoRhea Rhodan resides in Minnetonka, Minnesota and has been telling herself stories since long before she could write. She attended the University of Minnesota with a focus on Journalism, then Brown Institute for Broadcast Journalism. After many adventures, misadventures, and a couple of short marriages, she found the love of her life in Regensburg, Germany, and has been living happily ever after since.

She journaled those adventures extensively (some might say rabidly) beginning in middle school, but didn’t combine her writing and story-telling until several years ago, when one of the stories grabbed her by the throat and shook her like a rag doll until she gave in and wrote it. Having tasted freedom, her muse refuses to return to the confines of her head, and has successfully turned the tables, keeping her at the keyboard to appease it.

Her stories always had a twist of magic or a touch of the paranormal. Why the romance? Because she believes in happy endings, and helping people imagine them helps them create the magic to find their own.

She welcomes feedback and fan mail :>). You can join her on Facebook and/or Goodreads, too. Rhea is always happy to meet new friends.

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You may also be interested in her debut novel, a Musa Publishing Editor’s Top Pick, Finding Grace, available here.

Jane Routley and “Mage Heart”

Kitten Avignon

Fantasy Vogue interviews one of the main characters in Jane Routley’s Mage Heart.

It’s just past midday in a quiet quarter of Gallia and I’m sitting in a comfortable green velvet and gilt armchair in a pale green salon. Across from me sits a very beautiful woman in a gown with a tight high-necked bodice that rises from huge swirling skirts of aqua green silk.  Her collar and neck are trimmed with just a hint of extremely expensive Morian lace, but other than the huge diamond ring on her finger, she is dressed with surprising plainness.

The fascinating Kitten Avignon, actress, courtesan, painter’s muse, fashion icon and paramour of Gallian ruler Duke Leon Saar, rarely grants interviews but today she’s made an exception for Fantasy Vogue.

Vogue – There are so many rumours of your early life, Madame Avignon. Everyone knows you come from the great Western Empire of Aramaya. Most people say you were born on the streets of Akieva, yet there are persistent rumours that you are somehow related to the Aramayan Ambassador, Prince Deserov.

Madame A – I have heard those rumours.  I doubt the Prince would thank you for spreading them.  I am a person of quite humble birth, although not a street urchin.

Vogue – How humble?

Madame A – Twinkling smile.  Humble enough to want to keep it to myself, darling. I was forced to go into the theatre at quite a young age to keep the wolf from the door.

Vogue – So why was it that the Ambassador’s wife Princess Deserov fainted when she first saw you?

Madame A – Laughter  Mere coincidence. The poor lady was simply taken ill.

Madame A is an expert fencer and not just with words.

Vogue – Rumour also has it that you are an accomplished swordswoman.

Madame A – I could not say as to my abilities, but I do follow the discipline. A wonderful way to stay fit. I was very well taught by a Soprian Assassin. They have a special technique of swordplay for women and children, a way of keeping those they love safe.

Vogue – So your teacher was an “admirer” then?

Madame A More laughter  Now would be telling wouldn’t it? And I never kiss and tell. But many gentlemen have been very kind to me. The theatre has always been my first love, but if gentlemen are kind enough to give one gifts and take one to supper, why it would be churlish to decline them, wouldn’t it?

Although many call Madame Avignon a courtesan, and far worse names, she did indeed first come to popular attention in lead roles in plays such as The Countess of Faro and To Have and To Hold.  But since she has become involved with the Duke of Gallia she has retired from the theatre.

Does she miss it?

Madame A – A little at first, but my life has become very busy of late organising my Green Salon afternoon soirees, where clever and entertaining people are able to meet the Duke, and fund raising for the women’s charity hospital at St Belkis.

When first Vogue learned of the project we were startled that a great fashionista like Madame Avignon, a lady with the ear of the Duke, should bother herself with the poor.

Madame A -Back in Aramaya the great families always took an interest in the poor and the work of the Church. It was a way of showing their piety. Being from a very humble background as I am, I have a great deal to thank nuns for.

Style icon all the way, many of the great families of Gallia have begun to take an interest in the charitable activities of St Belkis nunnery. Perhaps they are encouraged by the way the common people cheer Kitten Avignon when she rides through the streets.  Perhaps they just want to curry favour with the Duke.

The women of the great families also copy Madame A rich unfussy elegance and far less flashy jewelery is now worn in Gallia since her ascendency.

Vogue – So Madame Avignon, the important question. Shoes or bags?  Which do you dote on more?

Madame A – Oh darling they’re both lovely but for me it’s always hats.  The bigger and more befeathered the better.  A theatrical person like me likes to make a little splash when she enters a room and nothing says glamorous like a really marvelous hat.

But rumour has it that her world is not all wonderful clothes and lovely parties. There are whispers that the lovely Kitten is in danger and that the Duke has insisted that she take on a magical bodyguard, Mademoiselle Dion, a plain quiet little thing, whom I glimpsed in the hallway when I cam in.

Madame A – Oh Mademoiselle Dion, yes she’s a sweet young creature and yet such a powerful mage.  Truly I think she may be one of the greatest mages on the peninsula.  Yet she was moldering away at the College of Mages because Gallians cannot believe a woman can be a powerful mage and they can find no proper position for her. Such a waste. I expressed my concern to the Duke and he agreed with me. He decided to place her with me, since I live so quietly now. She is learning the ways of society and in a while we shall see if we can find her a position really worthy of her talents, even if it is back in Aramaya.

Something in this story does not ring true. Hard to believe that a position in Kitten Avignon’s household would recommend Mademoiselle Dion to any respectable family. 

Vogue – Some say that you are in magical danger from a necromancer you offended back in Aramaya.  They say that’s why you came to Gallia in the first place.

She’s still smiling but I sense I’ve hit a nerve.  The laughter has gone out of her eyes.

Madame A – Oh they say, they say. The things they say. I mean they say I have breasts like watermelons. I mean, do these (She gestures at her chest) look like watermelons to you. Watermelons, I ask you. How uncomfortable would that be?  Now I fear you must excuse me.  Duke Leon is expecting me at the Palace soon and I must get ready. Thank you so much for a lovely interview.

She rings a little bell and a neatly dressed maid comes to lead me to the door. 

It is only as I am stepping down the graceful front steps that I realise that amidst all the humour over watermelons, she has not actually denied the rumours of a necromancer.   

About Mage Heart

Ticonderoga Publications and Clan Destine Press are very happy to announce the re-release of Jane Routley’s Chronicles of Dion trilogy.

mageheartFirst published between 1996 and 1999,  Ticonderoga and Clan Destine Press have brought these books back into print in 2011 as quality trade paperbacks and ebooks.

The trilogy comprises Mage Heart, Fire Angels and Aramaya. Fire Angels and Aramaya won the Aurealis Awards for Best Fantasy Novel in 1998 and 1999 respectively.

The Chronicles of Dion tell the story of Dion Holyhands. Provincial and naive—and the most powerful mage in the realm—young Dion is an innocent adrift in a world of intrigues and treacheries; a world where foul, hungry demons lurk just beyond the borders.

In Mage Heart, she has been called upon to serve her Duke’s favourite mistress: the extraordinary Kitten Avignon, Our Lady of Roses. The mesmerizing courtesan is a woman in dire jeopardy, stalked by a fearsome necromancer, who will not sleep until his beautiful prey suffers horribly and is destroyed.

And with Evil’s night approaching, shielding the Lady and herself from harm will require every ounce of a power Dion is only beginning to recognize and fear; a great gift suddenly imperiled by blossoming womanhood and dangerous desire.

Publishers Weekly: One of the genres bright new stars… Routley produces a fantasy that can be read for more than myth or pyrotechnics… While many fantasists simply add magic to political intrigue, Routley’s are noteworthy for the natural and inevitable intertwining of the two.  Well drawn backgrounds and characters add to the appeal.”

Ticonderoga Editor Russell B Farr: Jane Routley’s trilogy make for gripping reading, full of wonder, intrigue, romance and magic. I picked up Mage Heart and didn’t come up for air until I’d finished Fire Angels—we were visiting friends at the time and I wasn’t a very sociable guest, but I was very happy.

Print edition from Ticonderoga Publications through Indie Books Online http://www.indiebooksonline.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=131

Ebook edition : http://clandestinepress.com.au

About the Author

CD46Jane was born in Melbourne, Australia, went to Preshil, Strathcona, and Monash University where she studied history, and RMIT where she became a Librarian.

Jane has had a variety of careers, including Fruit Picker and Occult Librarian and she lived in Germany and Denmark for a decade.

Now back in her beloved Melbourne, working on the railways and living in a garden full of birds, Jane is the author of four books: Mage Heart, Fire Angels and Aramaya—as Jane Routley; and The Three Sisters as Rebecca Locksley.

Clan Destine Press is releasing Mage Heart, Fire Angels and Aramaya as the eBook trilogy: The Dion Chronicles.

Fire Angels and Aramaya won the 1998 and 1999 Aurealis Awards for Best Fantasy novels.

Her short stories have been widely anthologised, appeared in Meanjin and have been read on the ABC.

Jane also writes under the pseudonym SoftSenta for the Church of the Immaculate Confection chocolate site.

Her favorite writers are Jane Austen, Angela Carter, Sara Douglass, and Janet Evanovich and Jane’s current life ambition is to see an erupting volcano. (Everyone at Clan Destine fervently hopes she means from a safe distance!)