Fantasy & scifi Authors: An Exciting Newsletter-Building Op.

Hi fellow authors! I’m not sure how many of you know, so I’m going to tell you: I’m in an awesome 25-book boxset that’s releasing soon. We’re looking for ways to promote it and our group has come up with a few initiatives, and this is one of them.

We know many of you are finding ways to build your Newsletter. Marked by Fate is offering AUTHORS a great opportunity. A FREE NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBER BUILD!!

The Authors in the YA SFF boxset Marked by Fate would like to invite you to participate in one of their free newsletter subscriber building opportunities.

All we ask is that you promote MBF boxset and one of our giveaways in your newsletter. In exchange we will share the list of those who signed up for that giveaway. Each giveaway group will be limited to ten authors and will run for one week.
Participation is FREE and there is no minimum subscriber number. We will match authors with similar sized lists where possible. And of course, we’re looking for authors who write YA fantasy, dystopian, scifi and paranormal, as we would be a good fit for each other :).

More info is available on this sign up form:

15 Tips for Choosing a Good Line Editor

Finding a good line editor (or any editor) is one of the trickiest things about being an indie author. Bad editing has caused readers to close a book, never to return, and it’s caused authors to scream in frustration and cry when they realize, after forking out hundreds or even thousands of dollars, their editor didn’t actually know how to use a colon, even though they were apparently one themselves.

If you’re an author who doesn’t think they need an editor or who makes the excuse ‘I don’t have enough money to pay for one,’ you can leave now. If you don’t want to put out a good quality product when you expect people to PAY for your books, you’re unprofessional and obviously don’t care about the reading experience, let alone take writing seriously. Now that all those people are out of the way, I’ll get to why I’m writing this post.

I run Booktastik, a site that promotes books for authors. We don’t rely on reviews but vet all books for editing—we want our readers to have a great experience, and we want writers who work hard to put out a professional product to be rewarded by reaching those readers. Unfortunately, we see quite a few books that don’t meet our editing criteria. We don’t expect books to be perfect, but we expect a certain standard of correct punctuation, grammar, and, of course, minimal typos.

As an indie author, I know how hard it is to find a good editor, and to be honest, not all authors even know what constitutes a good editor. I’m hoping to take some of the doubt out of choosing a competent editor, because any idiot with a computer and internet access can call themselves an editor, and too many authors have spent thousands only to learn later that it was money wasted :(.

This post isn’t comprehensive, as I couldn’t point out everything to look for—it would take too much explanation—but I will tell you basic things to look for in a sample edit and what YOU can do to mitigate your own ignorance.

  1. Find a successful author you like the work of, an author you know is professional, and ask them who their editor is. References are a must.
  2. Google the name of the editor you’re looking at and put ‘scam’ next to it—it’s amazing what can come up. There is also a good site called Writer Beware. Run by the SWFA, it’s also available to writers in any genre. Check them out when you’re researching author services—from publishers to editors and literary agents.
  3. Educate yourself. Please, for the love of literature, study the basics of grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. The writing journey takes time, and there’s always something to learn, but don’t send your book anywhere, let alone publish it, if you have absolutely no idea what constitutes a standalone sentence and where basic commas go. This is where we get caught out. How can a writer tell a good editing sample from a bad one when they have no idea what they’re looking at? It’s like someone who has no idea about cars looking at two engines side-by-side, listening to all the technical specifications and being able to tell which one is faster or more reliable. An impossible task. And this is why authors end up paying thousands of dollars to ignorant assholes who think they know how to edit.


So, you’ve hopefully gotten recommendations from good sources. The editor should offer you a free sample and a quote. Samples can range from 250 – 1000 words as a general rule. There are two different types of editing: creative and line.

First comes the creative editing, which deals with plot, pacing, characterization, inconsistencies, scene setting, use of language, plus a few other things. Line editing is the final edit that makes sure your periods, commas, semicolons, and apostrophes are in the right place. Some editors do provide both content and line editing in the same manuscript. After the editing is the proofreading to catch any obvious typos, which is NOT editing.

The following is a very basic guide of what the line editor should know and is in relation to grammar and punctuation only (I could write a whole book on content editing, so realistically I won’t go there with this blog post). If the sample provided by the prospective editor is not picking up at least these things, ditch the editor and find another one. Also, ALL changes should be marked up (I’m assuming they use Word) and explained in the margins. No editor should be rewriting your work, either. So, things an editor should know or they’re not worth your hard-earned dollar:

  1. Two standalone sentences next to each other are never broken up by a comma or colon. Complete sentences must be separated by a period or semicolon. I love my cat. My cat loves birds. NOT: I love my cat, my cat loves birds.
  2. Have you used the same verbs, adjectives, nouns, or phrases unnecessarily more than once in the same sentence or paragraph? I grabbed the knife off the table, and then I grabbed the door handle and pulled. He pulled my hair, making me want to scream, so I kicked his shin, making him scream.
  3. When a dependent clause is followed by an independent one, you should have a comma, because in many cases, the meaning won’t be clear without it. A dependent clause is an incomplete sentence by itself and is something like: If I walk down that path…. Before she went to the shop…. With both these examples, a standalone sentence needs to follow to finish the sentence and give meaning to the dependent clause. There always needs to be a comma between the dependent clause and the independent clause. If I walk down that path, the giant spider will eat me. Before she went to the shop, it started raining.
  4. This next comma is necessary because the rules say so, but it doesn’t necessarily aid in meaning. Two standalone sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction (FANBOY for, and, nor, but, or, yet, or sometimes so) need a comma before the conjunction. I ran down the hill, and the dog followed me. An exception to this rule is if the sentence is very short.
  5. There should NEVER be a comma in the middle of a phrase/clause. If the comma splits an independent clause, the comma needs to get the hell out of the way. I felt like, eating chocolate. I regretted eating, the chocolate. Okay, so I didn’t really regret it.
  6. Dialogue attributions. Style guides (and I use CMOS—Chicago Manual of Style) recommend using plain old ‘said’ as an attribution to indicate who is talking. This is because we can skim over it, and it’s almost like it isn’t there. Don’t get all creative and put ‘exclaimed’, ‘commented’, ‘advised’, etc. Even though it’s okay to use ‘said’, don’t use it after every person talks, especially if there are only two people in the conversation.

Mary said, “Are you going to finish those chips?”

“Yes,” I said.

“But I wanted some,” she said.

“Bad luck,” I said.

“You are such a bitch!” she exclaimed.

“Don’t swear, or I’ll tell mom,” I warned.

“You wouldn’t dare,” she answered.

You get the picture. It’s irritating and slows the pace. Once you’ve established who is who in the conversation, you only need to remind the reader sparingly. An even better way to indicate someone is talking is to use an action tag.

          Mary stared at my plate. “Are you going to finish those chips?”

          I moved the plate out of her reach. “Yes.”

  1. Exclamation marks. Use them sparingly or they lose their effectiveness. If you have lots of exclamation marks in your work and the editor hasn’t deleted them, they’re no good at what they do.
  2. From the Chicago Manual of Style: In regular prose, a semicolon is most commonly used between two independent clauses not joined by a conjunction to signal a closer connection between them than a period would. If your editor has put a semicolon in between a dependent and independent clause or in the middle of an independent clause, run. There are other rules for semicolons, but they refer to lists and adverbs joining two independent clauses, and that’s where it gets complicated. The instance I’ve described is the most likely one your editor will have to deal with.
  3. Unnecessary words. Before you even send your manuscript to the editor, do a search for the word ‘that’. Most of the time, it doesn’t need to be there. Read the sentence with and without it, and if it makes sense without it, delete. Other words that are often unnecessary include suddenly, began to, and started to. I’m sure there’s more, but the point is, a good editor should point these things out.
  4. In most style guides and dictionaries, alright is not acceptable. Some editors may say it’s okay in speech, and some dictionaries say ‘alright’ is fine in informal work but still to use all right, as this is the universally acknowledged, formal way of writing it.
  5. Okay is ‘okay’ or ‘OK’. Choose the one you want, and stick with it. Consistency is key.
  6. Direct address. In dialogue, when one character addresses another by their name or by something that replaces that name (grandma, dad), commas set off the name. “Hi, Sarah.” “Don’t do that, Thomas.” “Hey, Brian, why won’t you come?”

I’ve just pointed out the most basic things your line editor should pick up (I’ve left out hyphens, compound adjectives, contractions, colons, evocative language, unnecessary wordiness, and the list goes on). As you can see, there’s a lot to know, and that’s why I think authors need to be their own best friend and learn some of this stuff. You’re only increasing your potential to be ripped off if you remain ignorant when it comes to basic grammar and punctuation rules.

So, to recap, editors should mark everything up on your document and explain why they have made the changes/suggestions they have. Being edited by a good editor is a learning experience and should improve your writing, so your next first draft will be cleaner than the one before. Learn the basics, or you may get caught out—you don’t know what you don’t know ;). Google the editor to make sure there are no complaints. Get recommendations from people you respect. Editors should give you something in writing prior to editing, whether it’s in the body of an email or in the form of a contract, setting out what they’ve agreed to do for you and how much it will cost. Most editors ask for a portion (up to half) of the fee upfront. If they ask for 100% upfront, I would use extreme caution.

I’m an editor (although I’m not taking any work until next year as I need to finish my WIP) but even I need an editor. I don’t know everything, and I’m always learning, plus you can’t see the mistakes in your own work. If you’re looking for a competent, professional line editor, I have used and can recommend Hot Tree Editing, Chryse Wymer, and specifically for Science Fiction and Fantasy, Marissa Vu Editing for both content and line. Another good content editor is Nerine Dorman.

I hope I’ve spared some of you the awful experience of paying for crap editing. Unfortunately, there is no standard degree or certificate one needs to get, or an organization one needs to join before they can call themselves an editor. Just make sure you let everyone know when you’ve had a bad experience—good recommendations help, but so do warnings on who to avoid. If we all help each other, maybe we can make it super hard for the bad ones to get work. I know that sounds mean, but it’s common sense, and doing a half-assed job and charging thousands of dollars is way meaner.

I’m assuming some authors will want to put their own recommendations in the comments, but I can’t endorse any of those, as I haven’t seen their work.

Happy writing and editing!

The Very Real Abuse of an Abused Fictional Character

When my content editor had finished her passes through my last novel, Tempering the Rose, she said, “You’re quite brave choosing a central protagonist who’s experienced such terrible abuse.” I didn’t know why she would say that.

Now I do.

I want to preface this blog post by saying I am married to a wonderful man who respects me and treats me as an equal, and I have two kind and intelligent sons, whom I love with all my heart. This is not meant to man bash. Both women and men have obstacles to face in this world, but today I am choosing to focus on the struggles faced by women because they are women.

I also felt I had to defend my stance on child abuse because of an ill-thought-out review posted today by someone who has not read the whole book. As an author, I believe readers are entitled to their opinion, even if that opinion is that they hate my writing. I’m okay with that, but sometimes reviewers can cross the line from opinion to outright misinformation, which in this case is an attack on me personally and on my reputation.

A reader has my book on a Goodreads shelf titled: dark-erotic, wtf, arc. She also makes the comment: “I’ve read my fair share of “dark” reads, but I am not fan of sex with young children.” This implies my book is an erotic fiction that contains child pornography, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m disgusted that this woman would suggest I would do this. This is an epic fantasy novel in the same vein as Lord of the Rings or George R.R. Martin’s works. This is NOT a romantic, erotic fiction, and nowhere is this listed as such. In fact, my book shows how damaging child abuse is to the victims. Child abuse is something I abhor, and my heart breaks for anyone who has been abused—whether it has happened as a child or adult.

We live in a world where we view women through the distorted glass of the existing patriarchal ideology—in other words, we all look at women the way men look at women. And I acknowledge that not all men in first-world countries are trapped in twentieth century ideals (many men treat women with respect and love), but many still believe in sexist ideals, and even worse, so do many women. We have been conditioned from the time we are born to see things a certain way, and it takes an open mind and the ability to think critically to question our beliefs. Unfortunately, there are still many without the ability to do this. Which brings me to Tempering the Rose and how my main character has been perceived.

I purposely created a character who had been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused as a child. I wanted to shine the light on it. I wanted people to talk about it. I wanted those who hadn’t had to suffer the terror of it to empathize with those who had, and I wanted those who had been through it to know that others believe is not okay and that there are people out there who care about what happened to them and who know they did nothing to deserve it.

If it’s not a writer’s job to have or initiate these conversations, I don’t know whose it is. Abuse of children and women continues because of silence. Speaking out about this abuse is the only way to begin the healing process for victims, protect future generations from suffering the same fate, and confirming to ALL of society that this is not okay.

Addy (the main character) was not only abused as a child, she is also a woman. She is a strong person. She is a survivor. She sees what men have done to her and to other women and children. Every day men treat her as if she’s stupid and unable to make decisions for herself because she’s a woman. Addy stands up for herself in these situations and is effectively pushing back against the patriarchy. Some readers find this offensive and have called her immature and whiny. Funnily enough, most of these readers are women, and that makes me sad. They still don’t get it. Addy is not whining—she’s being assertive and standing up for herself. Maybe these readers don’t think she should call these men out when they belittle her. She should just keep her mouth shut and appreciate that these men know better, that they’re just trying to help her see what she can’t see. Thank you, Patriarchy.

Some readers think she’s immature because she doesn’t trust men, even the men who have helped her. They don’t see that if you’ve been abused, you can’t trust anyone more than you can trust yourself. That kind of trust takes a long time to develop. When you’ve been beaten by a stick multiple times, you learn to hate and fear that stick; you don’t second guess those feelings and wonder if maybe that stick could also do other, nicer, useful things like be a toy for a dog or burnt to make a warm fire. Why do women hate her for this? Do they think because a man says something, it must be true? Are they questioning Addy’s judgment because she is a woman? Do they lack emotional maturity and think she should ‘just get over it’ as has been said to many a (male and female) rape survivor?

I know not everyone will get the same thing from a book, and every reader comes to a book with their own experiences that define meaning for them. I don’t expect everyone to love my book, and in fact, I know I’m not the best writer ever, that I can always improve. What does disappoint me is that women still resent other women for demanding equality, for daring to think they are just as good as a man. I also find it extremely disheartening to know that a reader would go out of their way to misrepresent my book to others. Instead of aiding the fight against child abuse, they are perpetuating it by trying to silence my written words.

I know my book will not single-handedly change the world, but if it helps one person see they are worth it, or shows someone a different way to think about who they are and how they can help make society better for everyone, I’ve done my job.

*Just an update. The reviewer has removed the misleading statement from her Goodreads review, but has refused to change the Amazon heading, and resents that she has been asked to alter her review in any way, as now it’s ‘not an honest review’.

NEW RELEASE Ciara Ballintyne’s Epic Fantasy ‘In the Company of the Dead’

Only a fool crosses a god, but Ellaeva and Lyram will do anything to get what they want.

InTheCompanyOfTheDead_300dpi_1842x2763 FINAL

Title: In the Company of the Dead
Author: Ciara Ballintyne
Series: The Sundered Oath #1
Genre: Epic Fantasy/Fantasy Romance

Chosen as a five-year-old orphan to be the Left Hand of Death, Ellaeva has nothing to call her own—nothing except a desire to avenge her murdered parents. Her duties leave her no time to pursue the man responsible, until both her work and revenge lead to the same place—the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris is serving out his exile for striking his prince.

Lyram is third in line for the throne, and when the castle is unexpectedly besieged, he fears his prince means to remove him from contention for the crown permanently. Ellaeva’s arrival brings hope, until she reveals she has not come for the siege, but instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the dark god of decay.

Within their stone prison, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Other

Chapter 1
Only a fool would split hairs with a god, least of all the goddess of death, but Ellaeva would count herself such a fool and consider it worth it—if she could get away with it.

She leaned across the knife-scarred timber of the tavern table.

“Are you sure?” she asked, her tone even and barely loud enough to be audible over the noise of the flute and the zither. Her work on behalf of the goddess Ahura, adjudicating the small war here in Dayhl, could only be abandoned in favour of a greater threat. If she was going to chase off after the man who killed her parents, she needed to be sure her arguments stacked up. The pursuit of personal justice wouldn’t be enough.

Is it justice or revenge?

No time to worry about that now. She tugged her black hood farther down over her infamous face, even though deep shadows blanketed the common room corner. She’d chosen a table far from the tallow candles mounted in their stag-horn chandeliers. There was no point taking chances; the black hair and porcelain skin of a Tembran would be remarked here among the platinum-haired Dayhlish. Besides, someone might recognise her.

“In Ahlleyn, sure as the spring comes after winter, Holiness.” The narrow-faced man across from her grinned, baring teeth more brown than yellow. The acrid smoke from the candles didn’t cover his pungent breath.

She half-stood, making an urgent, negating gesture as she glanced around, but the hubbub of chatter from the patrons and the music covered his slip. No one even glanced their way. On the far side of the room, away from the two blazing hearths, tables were pushed aside for dancing. She dropped back into her seat, her black robes fluttering around her booted feet.

Ahlleyn lay on the other side of the continent, months of travel by horse. If her informant was right and a Rahmyrrim priest had been dispatched there, he would likely be gone long before she arrived—unless she begged a favour, but she’d not do that for a lark of her own. However, if it meant catching the man who killed her parents, well then maybe she could come up with an argument that would hold water for a god. Old grief and anger, stale from a decade or more, stirred in her gut, and her fingers curled around the edge of the table.

Releasing her grip, she reached to the inner pocket in her robes where rested the smudged charcoal drawing of a man. Hard work and luck had helped her obtain that picture of the man she believed killed her parents—a man she knew to be a priest of Rahmyr. If she decided to act against her standing orders, then she needed to be sure it was the man she was after, and that he was involved in some act heinous enough to attract her goddess’s attention.

“Did you get the name of this priest? Or his description?” An unknown number of priests served Rahmyr, but she knew six by sight—six still alive anyway.

The thin man shook his head. “Nobody mentioned. I got the impression he’s already there, or on his way leastways.”

She scowled. No way to be sure then that this was the man she wanted. Begging favours of Ahura for her personal satisfaction was a risky business, especially if she neglected her duties, and perhaps it would all be for nothing.

With one hand, she flattened the map that curled on the table between them. The patrons behind them exploded with laughter at something unheard. Ignoring the noise, she stabbed her finger at an unmarked portion of the map in the foothills of the Ahlleyn mountains. If he didn’t know who, maybe he knew the what. “There, you say? What possible interest could Rahmyr have there? There’s nothing of interest at all.”

She lowered her voice even further as she uttered the name of the goddess of decay, and glanced around again. That name spoken too loudly would bring unwanted attention. But nearly all the tavern patrons were busy whirling on the impromptu dance floor or lined up to watch the dancers, their backs to her.

The nameless man leaned forward, treating her to another stomach-clenching blast of foul breath, and touched a spot perhaps half an inch away from her finger. A tiny, unlabelled picture marked something there.

“Here, Holiness.”

She squinted at the picture, letting his lapse slide. The image represented a holy place. There was an old shrine to Ahura somewhere in the Ahlleyn Borders, wasn’t there? And a castle built over it. “Caisteal Aingeal an Bhais.”

“That sounds like the name,” he agreed. “Never could get my mouth around them Ahlleyn words. Pink castle, I heard.”

She grunted. That was the one. “There’s still nothing there.”

Nothing of interest to Rahmyr anyway. The shrine wasn’t particularly important, and the castle held no political significance.

“What’s there,” the man said, “is Lyram Aharris.”

The premonition went through her like a blast of icy wind, stiffening her in her chair as the hand of the goddess brushed against her mind. A light caress, but from a giant, and so it sent her mind reeling. She clutched the table for support. Lyram Aharris’s reputation preceded him the length of the continent: eight years ago, at the age of twenty-seven, he’d brought an end to the centuries-long conflict between Ahlleyn and Velena through a series of brilliant military manoeuvres. He’d survived the Siege of Invergahr against near-impossible odds, brought the crown prince safely clear of the conflict, and fought the Velenese to a standstill using their own guerrilla warfare tactics against them. As a novice, she’d covered the tactics thoroughly as part of her studies. The man was a military genius. That he was third in line for the throne of Ahlleyn was the least there was to know about him—at least it was, until his king dismissed him from court. The rumours on everyone’s lips said he murdered his wife, even if no one could prove it.

What did Rahmyr want with him?

Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic.

She began her first attempts at the craft of writing in 1992, culminating in the publication of her debut work, Confronting the Demon, in 2013. Her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing is In the Company of the Dead. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world – how hard can it really be?

If she could be anything, she’d choose a dragon, but if she is honest she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House M.D. – both the good and the bad. She is a browncoat, a saltgunner, a Whedonite, a Sherlockian, a Ringer and a Whovian… OK, most major geek fandoms. Her alignment is chaotic good. She is an INTJ.

Ciara lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, her two daughters, and a growing menagerie of animals that unfortunately includes no dragons.

My New Dark Epic Fantasy is Almost Here!

Yes, I’m slack. My new dark epic fantasy is coming out soon, and I haven’t even done a cover reveal on my blog. Well, here it is, cover reveal, blurb, links, sample, all the juicy stuff. Drumroll … may I introduce, Tempering the Rose. I will first thank the incredibly talented Robert Baird for my cover. I told him what I wanted, and he delivered with style (lucky me).

tempering-the-rose_ebook copy

I normally write YA fantasy, but I decided to test the waters of fantasy for older readers. I’ve enjoyed writing grittier scenes and language (okay, so that’s me politely saying my characters use the F word). At its core, it’s a story of revenge, love, and redemption, oh and saving the world (hence the epicness). There aren’t any dragons in this one, as far as I can tell (you never know what book 2 holds). I hope you give this one a go if you like fast-paced epic fantasy. And that’s Addy on the cover — my kick-ass main character hell-bent on revenge, and when you hear what was done to her, you’ll totally understand. Will she get her man? There’s only one way to find out ;). The book comes out April 19 on iBooks and the 2nd of May on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Buy before 19 April and get it for the special pre-release price of 99 cents. On 19th of April, the price will rise to $3.99.


A dark epic fantasy series, where one woman’s thirst for revenge will put the entire world in jeopardy.

The only thing twenty-one year old Adrastine wants is revenge against her depraved father—but when she tries to kill him, she is caught and thrown into a holy war for a god she doesn’t believe in. But disaster is coming, and all Adrastine’s problems will seem minor by comparison. Someone, or something, is draining the planet’s lifeblood, killing the land and everything on it at an alarming rate.

Jacob is a shelon, a man who can wield magic, and a spy dispatched by Queen Valtice to find The Rose of Nerine – the only one who can stop the rape of the land and save the people. But when Jacob finds Adrastine, he can’t convince her that she is The Rose, let alone to leave her home and journey with him across the tempestuous sea to Nerine.

Adrastine is drawn to Jacob, despite their differences. But that is a dangerous path, as he is an unwelcome distraction to her quest for revenge. And if she learns his secrets, it will cement her hatred of men forever, weakening powers she is only just learning she has, powers needed to save their world.


Addy crouched on the roof and stared over the parapet to the cobbled street below. A royal seeker stood watchful at the whorehouse door across the street, dim light from a wall lantern throwing his angular features into shadow. The threat of the sword hanging from his hip and his scowl would be enough to keep most people away. But not Addy. Not tonight.

The crisp air burned in her throat. Her thumb caressed the smooth timber of her bow. Back and forth. Back and forth. The rhythm did little to soothe her nerves, and she bit her bottom lip, the sting of it occupying her mind, keeping negative thoughts from sending her into retreat. In her other hand she gripped a cold arrow shaft so hard her nails dug deep half-moon indentations into her palm.

She had dreamed of this moment for the past seven years. Once her arrow pierced her father’s heart, she could get on with her life. At twenty-one, she was young enough to have a future — one far from Pyren, no doubt — but it was more than she had been brave enough to believe in before escaping her mother’s indifference and father’s abuse five years earlier.

What if the murder goes wrong? The searing image of a long-suppressed memory ignited, like a flash of lighting. Her thumb ceased stroking. She missed a breath. Nervous energy spread from her chest into her throat. Addy inhaled slowly to calm herself. She blinked, trying to clear her mind, then refocused on the door, which was still closed.

She would never go back. The nothingness of death was preferable to ending up where she had started — under the care and control of High Seeker Radnok and her addict mother.

Addy tilted her head to one side then the other, stretching her neck. Her gaze never left the whorehouse door. If she missed this opportunity, there would be no other. She would be on the run or dead.

The seeker stepped quickly to the side as the door opened. Harp notes cascaded out with the haze of smoke and two more seekers; the men beckoned to a horse and carriage waiting nearby. The horses moved forward, the strike of hooves on stone breaking through Addy’s focus, making her start.

She stood.

Relaxing one hand took great effort. Addy swiftly nocked an arrow. String taut, she rested her icy hand against her face, the comforting pressure of the bowstring against her cheek helping her focus. Any moment now. You can do this, Addy.

High Seeker Radnok stepped through the gloom. His footfalls matched the clack of hoof on stone as he moved into the light, into range. He was as she remembered him — tall, broad-shouldered, arrogance in the tilt of his head, dark beard framing a sneering mouth.

Addy inhaled deeply then held her breath, trying to temper her racing heart. The carriage moved closer. It would soon block her shot.

No more time.

Radnok lifted his gaze from the approaching carriage and looked right at her, his eyes widening.

Her hands shook. Another flash of memory. Blinded again.

Never going back.

The clop of hooves.


Never going back.

Radnok’s surprise swiftly dissipated.

She reached deep inside for the burning fire in her belly. The cocooning molasses of calm the fire brought slowed the world. Harp notes vibrated longer, became deeper. Her vision intensified — things far away seemed closer. Radnok’s hateful face was so clear, she could even see the smirk line next to his mouth.

Despite the world moving slower for her, Addy’s heart galloped with fear. She saw the triumph in Radnok’s eyes, saw it turn into something worse. He thought he had won.

Between one heartbeat and the next, she released.


Come See Me at RWDU16


In just under two weeks is an event I’ve been looking forward to — Readers & Writers Down Under 2016, in one of the nicest spots in Oz. On Saturday 5th of March, I’ll be selling and signing books at the QT Hotel Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. And I won’t be the only author there. Sixty-nine authors will be in attendance – hmm, kind of a magic number ;). If you love reading romance, erotic fiction, paranormal, chick lit and fantasy, there’s sure to be something you’ll love.

Come have some fun with us. There’s the book signing on Saturday and the masquerade ball on Saturday night. Can’t wait to get dressed up and don a mask.

To make sure you don’t miss out on partying with 69 lovely ladies, go grab your tickets now!

Hope to see you there!

Writers’ Unleashed is Here! – Shire Writers’ Festival

Hey! Long time no post; I know. I’ve had things cooking in the background – namely the new comedy web series (not fantasy related) that I’ve written and am producing. But that’s not the reason for this post — that’s just my excuse for not posting for AGES. So, onto the reason for this post.

This coming Saturday — the 14th of November from 9 am – 4 pm, I’ll be attending the Writers’ Unleashed Festival in Gymea, Sydney (Australia, not Canada). There are going to be lots of great author talks and panels, so if you love books, meeting authors, or you are an author/writer who wants to hear about all things publishing/writing related, you can grab your tickets HERE.

I’ll be on a panel discussing self publishing, with Elizabeth Storrs and Helen Armstrong from 3 – 4 pm. We’ll all be selling/signing books afterwards. I’d love to see you there. You never know what awesome writers you’ll meet, not to mention the great information that could help you on your publishing journey.