THE SORCERESS QUEEN AND THE PIRATE ROGUE is out now! You can get it from my website store or at the above retailers. Thanks to all who are reading and loving it!

One of my favorite review quotes so far?

“Have you ever looked at a piece of cake and wanted to just gobble it up ? Well that’s exactly my feelings when it comes to the boisterous, oh so confident Jakral ! He might be fully human and younger than Stella but he knows what he wants and always pays attention.” – Marta Cox on Amazon

Jak is totally cake. He was super fun to write, too. Jen Twimom has a snippet from one of my favorite scenes over at That’s What I’m Talking About. What’s funny is that what ensues in the carriage was a total surprise to me. Jak shocked me as much as he did Stella. If you’ve read, you know what I mean. I almost tried to soften it or even take it out, but I decided that Jak is just not a character to be easily muted.

Here’s a snippet from another scene I love, where Jak is attempting to teach Stella some self-defense.


He didn’t care how much it pissed her off: She was going to learn to wield those blades or… He didn’t know what, but something. He wasn’t afraid of going to the alter-realm, but he was gut-wateringly terrified of coming back to find her gone. Or worse.

In a rare temper, Stella flung open the door of a room on the second level. An unmade bed took up most of the small space, her minimal baggage on a low table nearby. With her back firmly to him, she rummaged in her bags, searching for her blades. Jak leaned against the wall, arms folded, watching her, keeping his body loose and relaxed—but fighting his own mounting temper as she took forever to find the fucking things.

At last—minutes later, during which a toddler could’ve skinned and gutted her—she exclaimed in relief and turned to show him the daggers. Her triumphant smile faded at whatever she saw in his face. Probably good that his expression got the point across, as the next step would be throttling her.

“Put them on,” he instructed softly, not trusting himself not to shout at her again.

She sighed in exasperation. “Is it really necessary to—”

“Yes,” he bit out. “See how the pretty daggers sit in sheaths on that lovely belt? You buckle the belt around your gorgeous hips, and then you wear them. All. The. Time.”

Her eyes darkened, thunderclouds gathering. “There is no need to be sarcastic with me.”

“Isn’t there? Then, pray tell, what will get through your thick skull?”

The sense of a pending storm thickened. “Don’t you speak to me that way, Jakral Konyngrr.”

He rolled his eyes, making his disdain clear. “I’ll speak to you any way I like. Not as if you can do anything about it.”

Lightning flashed in her eyes. “You forget that I have offensive magics. Powerful ones.”

“Useless ones,” he sneered, goading her further.

“How dare you!” Her streaming dark hair stirred as if in an unseen wind.

Though the hairs stood up on the back of his neck, he didn’t move, considered yawning in her face, but even he didn’t have the balls to push her that far. Instead he lifted a shoulder and let it fall. “I dare because I’m a better fighter than you are. Not because you’re female, but because you’re defenseless. That’s why you need protecting. So, quit whining about everyone being overprotective and accept that you need a big strong man to—”

With an incoherent screech, she dropped the knife belt and hurled a ball of blue lightning at him. As it flew toward him, he pulled a dagger, threw it, and ducked. The lightning grazed his shoulder with a light tingle—he hadn’t even needed to evade that tickle—and his blade shaved off a long lock of Stella’s hair before thudding into the wall behind her.

Stella gaped at him. Without speaking, she dropped her gaze to the severed lock of hair lying like a snake at her feet. “I…” She lifted her eyes to his, shock clear in them. “You… you threw a knife at me.”

“You threw lightning at me,” he pointed out.

“Because you provoked me!”

“Yes, I did. Worked pretty well, except that was the most pitiful lightning I’ve ever seen. If that’s the best you can do, then—”

“It isn’t,” she snapped.

“Why not?” When she didn’t reply, he pushed away from the wall. “Because you pulled your punch.”

Unhappily, she watched him pick up the lock of hair. Coiling it into a tight circle, he stuck it in his pocket. A nice keepsake. “All the magic in the world does you no good if you won’t use it,” he said.

“I can use it.”

“I know you can. I also know you won’t.”

Pressing her lips together in something just shy of a mulish pout, she glared at him. “Are you saying you wish I had hurt you?”

He tugged the shortened lock of hair. “I can take it.”

She didn’t smile. “You’re not immortal, Jak.”

“And yet I survived a brush with death, thanks to you.” He grinned jauntily at her, unbothered that she didn’t return it. “Let’s try that again, but this time, try harder.”

“But I don’t want to hurt you!”

He blew out an impatient breath. “If something is trying to kill you, then it’s your enemy and deserves to be hurt.”

“You aren’t my enemy,” she pointed out.

“I’m glad to hear that, but you still need to learn to strike true. You can always heal me again.”

“True…” She gazed at him, uncertain.

“I’d rather you hurt me a little bit now than deal me a mortal wound by getting injured or killed. I couldn’t survive that.”

Her eyes widened, and he considered maybe he’d said too much. “Besides,” he added with a grin, “at this rate, you’ll have no hair left, and I’ll be untouched. I’m really not worried.” Drawing a new blade, he spun it through his fingers, picking out a new lock of hair to sever.

She growled low in her throat. “You wouldn’t.”

“I would, and I will,” he said, letting his grim resolve show. “Or maybe I’ll just aim for that sleeping gown. It won’t last long against my blades and would be a fun striptease.” He leered at her. “Finally I’ll get to see you naked—a dream come true.”

With a shocked gasp, she blushed hot. “You—” She bit down on repeating the challenge, possibly reading his utterly serious intent. Briefly, a jaguar stood where she’d been, then she reappeared in her fighting leathers, her hair tightly braided back, a smug look on her face.

“Do you think that will spare you?” he murmured, just to see her blush deepen. “I could still slice those leathers off you.”

“But you won’t,” she replied with confidence, “because you’d risk cutting me, and you would never hurt me.”

That was true. Too bad she knew it. “Moving on. What was your first mistake?”

“Pulling my punch.”

“No, that was your second mistake.” Scooping up the knife belt from the floor, he dangled it in her face. “Never, ever throw away your blades.”

“You throw your knives all the time,” she pointed out.

“Yes, but I know what I’m doing, and it’s still a calculated risk. You will do best to keep your blades in your hands.” Threading the belt through the loops on her pants, he settled it low on her hips, moving the sheaths to the optimum position. “How’s that for drawing?”

He glanced up as he asked, finding her face very close to his. The storm in her gray eyes had subsided, leaving them the clear misty color of the sea just before sunrise. “I feel the same,” she said, briefly confusing him. “When I thought they might be right, that you really were dead, I thought I might break apart into a million fragments.”

For once, no clever remark leapt to his tongue. He smoothed her hair back from her face, careful not to brush her skin. It clung like silk to his fingers, and he knew she was right—he would never jeopardize her beautiful hair, he loved it too much. The thought of slowly cutting away her clothing, however… Well, it was a good thing he was getting practiced at exercising iron control over his lust around her. Her lips parted, her kitten tongue darting out to wet them. So tempting to kiss her just then.

But time was short, and this was more important.

“We’ll just have to keep each other alive, then,” he replied. “Now, try drawing your blades.”





Using the 8-Scene, 3-Act Structure to Tighten – plus Snippets from THE PROMISED QUEEN!

A tease for you all, of the cover for THE PROMISED QUEEN. It’s mostly final, but I don’t know when we’ll do a cover reveal. The reveal for THE FIERY CROWN cover wasn’t until October so… it might be a while. It’s lovely, though, and I think you all will be delighted!

I’ve been working on developmental edits on THE PROMISED QUEEN. When I turned in the draft to Editor Jennie, it came in at 118,489 words. That’s 426 pages in Word (12pt Times New Roman, 1″ margins, double spaced) for those who don’t speak wordcount. It was long. So long that I didn’t add the final scene I really wanted – it was more of an epilogue, anyway – and some of the ending went faster than I wanted. Fortunately, Editor Jennie found some places to condense – mostly in the first 200 pages, a lot in the first 100 pages – and she wants those final scenes added/fleshed out, too. She’s asking me to aim for 112-1115K.

That means a lot of cutting. My least favorite kind of revision, alas.

But it’s going okay. I’ve cut 4,568 words so far, and have the draft at 113,921. I’ve also figured out that if I trim the chapters in Act 1 by ~6,600 words, then the Act 1 climax falls at the right place for the book to have the right 8-scene, 3-act structure to be complete at 115K. That tells me my mission is to trim and tighten Chapters 2-7. (Because Chapter 1 is already the shortest and as tight as can be.) This is one reason track chapter wordcounts and apply the math to discern where unhealthy padding is distorting the story structure.

A couple of posts you can read to learn more about this are Geeking Out Over the 8-Scene, 3-Act Structure (resurrected from a guest post on a now defunct blog) and Learning My Own Lessons, which references the first post.  (Incidentally, I wrote Learning My Own Lessons in May 2015 as I was working on THE PAGES OF THE MIND, my RITA(R) Award-winning book. Many of you – especially those who listen to my First Cup of Coffee podcast – will recognize the same process angst in it that I have today.)

Some of the cutting was easy – snippets that Jennie highlighted as bits that could go. They’re not even big enough to count as deleted scenes. They’re mostly just bits of conversation that made me smile.

So, as promised on the podcast, and as requested by those of you who don’t use Facebook, where I posted one. Here are a few snippets to tantalize you, ones that aren’t too big of spoilers. Likely this will be the only place they’ll survive.


Lia sighed out a breath on a murmur of sound, and turned toward me. I lifted my hand and she burrowed beneath my arm, tucking her head against my chest and curling into me like a kitten seeking warmth. Carefully, I adjusted the covers around her again, and laid my arm so as not to crush her with it.

And finally slept.


He released my shoulders, shrugging. “Not the first time. What would be weird is if we weren’t.”

“Argh!” I growled incoherently and, making a fist with my good hand, hit his chest with the meat of it. It was like punching a wall.

His grin widened and he rubbed the spot. “Hey—that was pretty decent. You’re already stronger.”

Not strong enough, though. I’d been at my peak before Anure got ahold of me. If that happened again when I was so weak, I’d collapse even faster. I nearly broke down just thinking about it.


She snorted. “As sensitive as a stone wall.”

I must be more sensitive than she thought, because that stung.


None of them would’ve shown such a lack of manners with Lia on the throne, and I felt like the substitute tutor having to get mean with the kids who thought they’d get away with bad behavior.


“It would be useful to know,” Lia agreed.

“You don’t know?” I asked, somewhat surprised. Lia had spies in Yekpehr, and elsewhere, no doubt.

She shook her head minutely. “Not precise numbers, no. Their existence isn’t spoken of openly. I’ve been guessing that Anure has them, and discovering Princess Rhéiane may be there has added weight to the theory.”

“Just Rhéiane, Your Highness,” Sondra corrected.

“Pardon Me?” Lia raised a brow but seemed unoffended.

“Rhéiane, like my name, carries the honorific with it,” I explained.

“Ah, of course.” Lia nodded. “Conrí and Rhéiane. Your parents named you with their ambitions.”

“Or hubris that tempted the gods to prove them wrong,” I muttered, making her lips twitch in a smile.


Sondra sidled up to me. “Good idea to drink the water or no? What’s this ‘if you dare’ thing? Give it to me straight.”

I nearly laughed, but managed not to. “It will only show you the truth—but you know as well as I do that the truth can be difficult to take.”

“Truer words,” she muttered, then gave me a salute. “Good luck, huh? Taming the monster and all.”