On Writing

Here's a snippet from my newsletter, which I publish every few weeks. Subscribe at https://caterowan.com/news to get book sneak peeks & ALL the news. 😀

Hello from hiding-under-the-covers land!

I hope you are doing well and aren't living in it, too. I mean, there's plenty of room for us all, but it's a weird place to be.

Fuzzy hugs

I'll ‘fess up: I live under the covers just part of the time. Sometimes life is fine — most things haven't changed too much in mine, all things considered, given that we live in a rural area and I work from home.

But Dr. 4×4 still works in the ER, diagnoses COVID-19 patients, and recently had a CV scare, himself. So let's just say my cuticles and fingernails have been taking a beating this year. (2020 has a lot of suckage, y'all. I know you get that, too.)

And then there's the all the other stuff going on here in the U.S. and across the world… sometimes I'm bawling, sometimes I'm yelling at the TV, sometimes I'm opening up my wallet for causes I believe in.

Authors tend to be empathetic creatures. That's one of the reasons we write — we think about what it's like to be other people all the time. 

Readers tend to be empathetic, too. That's one of the reasons we love books — we get to experience someone else's life for a while.

em*pa*thy = "in" + "feeling"

This is a difficult time for so many of us here and across the world.

But… I have hope for better things coming our way.

In the meantime, I'm sending my love and fervent wishes for better days ahead for anyone who's struggling right now.

Sulley squeeze!
everyone needs a Sulley

Writing News:
The Ocean Between Us is coming!

Not only is the book done (thank you, my beloved and amazing beta readers), but I'm ~90% of the way through drafting the next book in the series, The Spell Between Us. I'm hoping to do a close-together release of them both.

The working name of the series has been The Between Us series (for, yanno, obvious reasons). But that's not such a useful name for the Amazon algorithms. So I have now named the series Swords of Olympus.

(Does that make you think of sexy, half-naked Greeks doing manly and heroic things? Yup!)


I also have drool-worthy book covers for both books. The cover reveal for Ocean is coming in another newsletter or two. *muahaha*

There will be FIVE books in this series. 😀 Soon I'll comission the third book cover from my delightful new cover artist. Funny thing is, for a long time I wasn't sure which book would be next. The events in two of them are going to be occurring simultaneously, so I held back… 

But now that I'm closing in on the end of Book 2, it's clear which one needs to be written next, thanks to what the characters are doing now and what needs to happen. (“Couple Three, you're on deck!”)

The kernel of The Ocean Between Us came to me more than a dozen years ago, long before I learned how to scuba dive, long before I got to swim with turtles and sharks.

All I knew then was that the heroine was a cursed and land-locked mermaid, and that she lived in a world dominated by the mercurial, prideful, and self-absorbed gods and goddesses of Olympus. The mermaid's isle would be invaded by a shipwrecked prince, and then… 

Mermaid ahoy!
I'm so freakin' excited to share the REAL book cover with you in a future newsletter!

Furry co-captain updates

Furchildren are all about love, and Dr. 4×4 and I are thinking about adopting a dog if the right one comes along. This is a big deal for Hubs, since he lost his last canine buddy ten years ago after a horrific struggle with cancer.

I am also thinking about a particular loner kitty who responded to my cat whisperings while we were at the shelter looking for a dog. (If I have a super power, it's making cats purr.)

Dr. 4×4, upon realizing that I was thinking about getting another kitty to add to our three, gave me a long-suffering look and reminded me that I can't save all the animals.

In turn, I reminded him that while I can't, saving an animal makes a difference to THAT animal. (Do you know the starfish story?)

Still, this decision isn't a no-brainer. My three kitties will be likely be a bit upset if we get a dog, no matter how kitteh-friendly, and I hesitate to upset the applecart further.

Also, there are other humans who need a little love right now, so I'm hoping someone else who needs a companion will find the kitty in question in the next couple of weeks and they will be the right match.

But, if not…

my butt is doing this

S'more Cate Updates

Horse had his 12th birthday recently, and his FirstMom sent me his BABY PICS, y'all!

he was kind of a stinker even then
so tie-tie
so tie-tie

It's cute how much darker he got since he was a foal. His momma, on the right of the bottom pic, is the color he is now. (When he's not shaved, anyway. More on that in some future issue…)

Here's a new book from a favorite author!

W00T, there's something new from Grace Draven! She's a wonderful romantic fantasy author, y'all. If you don't know her work yet, check it out. (Brishen and Ildiko in Radiance… Silhara and Martise and Master of Crows… *happy sigh*) Here's her newest, Dragon Unleashed:

Isn't that gorgeous?

A dragon shapeshifter and a healer with power over the earth fight a corrupt empire in this thrilling and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Okay, my friends, see you soon with more on The Ocean Between Us as release day gets closer. *Cate does a shimmy*

I hope you get to stay cool (but not frozen, as in my case…) and that you will love aaaall the books that grace your TBR piles!

Yours in Enchanting Fantasy,


Tidbits in this post:

  • ► Lirael's Candle, a new FREE short story!
  • Special 99-cent sale on books from multiple fantasy authors
  • $200 in gift cards and prizes—woohoo!


News about a big SALE coming up, but first:


My Facebook fan page (https://www.facebook.com/CateRowan.AuthorPage) has a brand-new goodie for those who click to “Like” the page. Look for the “Free Short Story” button just beneath the top banner! Lirael's Candle is a short and sweet fantasy romance in a time of war. Let it put some love and sugar into your day. ❤

Lirael's Candle book cover


I finished a new fantasy romance novella during November's National Novel Writing Month. I'm rewriting it now and it wouldn't surprise me if it grows back into a novel after revisions. 🙂 It's going to be part of a genie trilogy. Here's a series teaser:

Centuries ago three brothers were cursed to be djinn,
slaves forever caged
in a golden lamp, a silver mirror and a bronze ring—
until true love frees them.

Three unsuspecting Texas women with rotten Man Luck
are about to get the surprise of their lives.

I'll keep you posted when they release!


There are two new interviews of me on the web. Check out my “Ruby Tuesday” interview from yesterday (we talk about dream vacations, mountain goodness, favorite books, and offensively orange Broncos headwear) and an interview and review of my novel The Source of Magic by YA Fantasy author Ashley L. Knight. Stop by!


99-Cent Sale!

Get your goodies now.


I'll start with mine. 🙂 For the next four days ONLY, you can get reader favorite Kismet's Kiss for just $0.99—that's an 80% discount!

This is the engrossing royal romance that The Romance Reviews proclaimed “A must-read for all fantasy romance lovers” and Smexy Books called “a magical, exhilarating, sensual delight. Lush exotic world building, riveting storyline, and strong personable characters set the stage for a rich and captivating story.” Kismet's Kiss was a two-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Finalist.

I don't do sales often, so grab it from one of the four stores below while you can!




$0.99 USD at:
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords (all formats, all countries—use coupon NA69Y
to get the discount)


Already have Kismet's Kiss? GREAT! Forward this post to your friends so they can grab copies, too. And check out the other authors below…


Other fantasy authors participating in the sale:

Tabitha Levin
Chystalla Tomas
Cate Rowan
Anna Kyss
Christine Pope
Katherine Pine
Kelly Walker
Penelope Fletcher
Vickey Loebel
Livia Blackburne
Jessica Aspen

plus our sponsor, I Read Fantasy.

For more info on the books in the 99-cent sale, go to https://www.facebook.com/events/193422784183987/!

Last, but not least:


We have $200 in prize money up for grabs: $100, $50, $30, $20 in gift cards. Winners can choose between Amazon or Barnes & Noble! Here's the direct link to enter:


Good luck with the prizes, enjoy your books, and forward this post to your friends so they can enjoy the fantasy goodness, too. 🙂

This weekend I attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Colorado Gold 2013 conference. It was wonderful to spend time with old friends and make new ones!

I gave a workshop for published authors and other advanced writers that I'd titled “The Road Map to a Successful E-Pub Career Shift”. I focused on self-publishing (a.k.a. being an indie author). I'm always a bit nervous before speaking in public, but it seemed to go very well and several attendees thanked me afterward for creating an organized presentation that really helped them know the steps they needed to take.

One of the attendees asked that I put my PowerPoint slides on the web. This morning I tried uploading the slides to a slide-sharing site, but I'm still waiting, four hours later, for the darned thing to “convert”. Then I used PowerPoint to save the slides as a movie. Should work, right? Turns out the movie file is too big too upload here. D'oh! I did send the slides to the person in charge of the RMFW website as well, so I'll update this post if/when I've gotten the slides up somewhere, LOL. *SEE UPDATE BELOW

Joyco Multimedia made a recording and I got a copy on CD, but their website doesn't seem to have anything later than the 2009 conference available, so I am stumped there.

Meanwhile, here's the PDF handout: “Additional Resources and Helpful Stuff

UPDATE: Slideshare finally got things working (woohoo!), so here's the PowerPoint presentation I did. It doesn't include all the little transitions and it doesn't have all the info I talked about, but at least it's something. 🙂

The sea is often a lovely and very romantic place. I've had some wonderful experiences on the ocean, like a pod of dolphins Dolphin swimmingjust outside my ship's cabin window swimming and jumping alongside the ship for an hour. One of the fantasy romance novels I have in the hopper (working title: The Ocean Between Us) has me thinking about the ocean and all the life within it. Seeing the dolphins play alongside the giant cruise ship was quite a gift.

I recently came across a blog from Princess Cruises with some happy-making stories of love beginning at sea. Here's a recent and romantic favorite of mine:


Anyone have any favorite sea (or love at sea) stories?

Book cover art can be evocative, intriguing, and delightful—or confusing, dull, and even off-putting. I've had covers on both ends of the spectrum. (Live and learn, fortunately.)

Here was my very first book cover, from the fall of 2010.

Original cover of Kismet's Kiss

Kismet's Kiss #1

Looking at it now, nearly three years later, I still love the idea of it—the beautiful blues, the arched window, the exotic city outline, the streaks across the sky that lead the eye into the story. But I never loved the font. I tried a ton of them and couldn't find ones that I loved. So I decided to commission someone to do a new cover, and found some stock art people I wanted to use. The result was one of my very favorite covers, even though I've since replaced it:

Second cover of Kismet's Kiss

Kismet's Kiss #2

This cover delighted me…the graphic artist did a wonderful job with the color scheme, the stars, the doorway and the city outline, and they all matched the idea in my head and meshed together. I got a lot of compliments on that cover, at a time when a lot of indie covers were getting roundly booed.

And then I finished revising Kismet's Kiss‘s prequel, The Source of Magic. I had a vision for that one, too, and wanted to see if I could do it myself. Here was the result:

First cover for The Source of Magic

The Source of Magic #1

The text still bothered me a bit, so after a few months I did some tweaking:

Second cover for The Source of Magic

The Source of Magic #2

I loved #2. Flat-out loved it, if I do say so myself. And I got a lot of compliments on that cover, which made me very proud since it was homegrown. Yay!

Hmm, Cate, you say. If you loved Kiss #2 and Source #2, why did you change them?

I reeeeally wanted to keep them. In fact, I did for a long time. But take a look at them again… you'd never guess those two covers belong to the books in the same series, would you?

I knew there was a problem, but I was in denial.

Next I finished a prequel to Source and Kiss called Swords and Scimitars. I thought I knew what I was doing when I made that cover, but in hindsight…

First cover of Swords and Scimitars

Swords and Scimitars #1

This cover is boring. Yeah, hindsight can be blunt. I still love the deep red, and the cover model looks just like I imagine Kismet did just before he left his mortal life behind. Even so, it's blah.

So I hired a talented cover artist to do a new one:

Second cover of Swords and Scimitars

Swords and Scimitars #2

No question that it's a huge improvement. But…I didn't like the direction the artist and I were going with the mockups for the Swords and Scimitars sequel, Sword and Lute. And I couldn't figure out a way to visually connect either of those covers to The Source of Magic and the Kismet's Kiss covers, either.

Ugh, back to Square One.

And that's when, after much frustration and brainstorming, I figured out a cover style I felt could work for all of the Alaia Chronicles series covers. I wanted something that would connect the books in the series and could be easily changed for each book, both with different bold colors and with an image particular to each book.

Here's what I did for Kismet's Kiss and The Source of Magic:

Current cover of Kismet's Kiss Current Cover of The Source of Magic

I kept my favorite pieces of the original cover for each one. For Kismet's Kiss, it was the romantic couple, because these two people look exactly like the Kuramos and Varene in my head—plus they're in a very characteristic pose for that book, with Kuramos wanting Varene and being his sexy and tantalizing self, and Varene yearning for him too, but doing her stubborn best to resist.

For The Source of Magic, I kept the hands reaching for each other, just like Jilian and Varene reached for each other across the worlds between them.

I like those two current covers for sure, but I can't lie—Kiss #2 and Source #2 are still my favorites. 🙂 But series branding rules the day.

The fun part was that as I kept writing, I got to add new covers that matched:

Cover of Swords and Scimitars Cover of Sword and Lute

Since Swords and Scimitars had two brothers at odds and was more romantic fantasy than fantasy romance, the crossed scimitars seemed to fit well. (I had a heckuva time finding scimitars I liked, and ended up doing a lot of work in my graphics program to make the image. Again, live and learn…)

For Sword and Lute, I ended up slogging through a LOT of stock photo sites for just the right people. I am very picky about the people on my book covers. If they don't look like the ones in my head, it's a no-go. Fortunately, these two were a great match. I love how they fit into the heart, too.

Next came Kiss That Frog. I wanted a different look, since it's a standalone fantasy romance that isn't part of the Alaia Chronicles series. White seemed like a fun change, although getting the dark borders to show up in some posts and at Amazon has been quite a thorn in my side.

Cover of Kiss that Frog

So here we are, with these final six covers being the ones I'm keeping.

For now, anyway. 🙂

UPDATE: Yep, I commissioned new ones for the Alaia Chronicles series in 2014. I heart them and I'm keeping 'em! (Famous last words? LOL.)

Yes, I've probably earned that nickname. It's not that I hate the holidays—it's more like I've been indifferent to them. I'm self-employed, which just means I have freedom to work all the time. (No, it's not always a good thing.) Weekends are often much like weekdays to me, and coming as I did from a small and not-that-religious family, holidays weren't a big deal to me. So I wasn't planning to do any of the usual rah-rah this time of year.

Peanuts Christmas Tree

And then, pretty much by accident, I inherited a Christmas tree. Of sorts.

My neighbors were moving, and as they were doing their final cleanup, they asked if I wanted this sad little evergreen in a pot.

I have a black thumb, mind you, and cats that have always managed to eat and/or destroy plants, so it's usually best if I stay away from green things. But the little tree reminds me of the pathetic one in the A Charlie Brown Christmas TV special. (Did you know you could buy a Charlie Brown tree at Amazon? Heehee!)

Anyway, to my great surprise, I told the neighbors I'd take the itty bitty evergreen.

I'm surrounded by full-grown ones up here on the mountain, so this little guy has a long way to go—but he gets to stay outside on my deck (which foils the cats) and I pretty much just need to water him every now and then. Or just let the snow fall on him. I figure he and I will do pretty well for a while, until he needs a bigger pot. At which point I'll probably just find a good place to plant him.

My tree got me thinking about celebrations in my fantasy romance novels. The celebrations in those worlds are decidedly…well, non-religious. The gods and goddesses in my books tend to be benign, with a few key exceptions—although they pay more attention to mortal affairs than the mortals might think.

And one thing that even the gods can agree on is love.

Sword and Lute is my latest fantasy romance. It's a novelette about how true love leads a musician who's chasing her dreams to a dying god—and to their second chance at life. There are no holidays in it, save the one new lovers make for themselves. 😉 Ahem.

If you prefer stories set in our world, peek at the books with the white covers below. You can check out all my tales at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Apple and All Romance eBooks.

So here's my question for you: What's YOUR favorite kind of celebration?

I'm participating in Carrie Ann Ryan's Alpha Male Blog Hop, so a lucky commenter from Dec. 14-17 will win a $5 gift card at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Starbucks, winner's choice—AND all commenters will be eligible for grand prizes like this:

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $200 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!

(International commenters: YES, you are eligible for Grand Prizes #1 & #2! Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, #3 is limited to those in the U.S.A.)

To be eligible for the Blog Hop's grand prizes, you must include your email address IN THE COMMENT ITSELF so the overall Hop administrators can contact you. GOOD LUCK!

  The Source of Magic

Click here to return to the main Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop site.

Waaay back in February (heh), I released Swords and Scimitars, a historical fantasy short story about the origins of the realm of Kad. (When the immortal twin brothers Kismet and Taso fought over an enchanted sword, tragedy ensued for them both. The guilt of the fight drove Kismet into the realm of Kad, where he became its first sultan and redeemed himself through love. If you don't have Swords and Scimitars yet, it's FREE at most ebook stores…)

Now it's Taso's turn! Sword and Lute is a 16,000-word novelette (think of that as a really long short story or a very short novel) about Taso's awakening from stone—and his unlikely rescuer, the musician Amara. Sword and Lute is a true fantasy romance, complete with a sweet love scene. 🙂cover of Sword and Lute by Cate Rowan

When a cursed sword slashed the god Taso, his immortality gushed into the grass along with his blood. He escaped death—barely—by transforming into stone. Centuries later, the aspiring musician Amara stumbles across the stone and inadvertently morphs Taso back into his dying body. To save him, she must sacrifice her precious lute and her life-long dream. But in return, she might find her heart's desire…

Swords and Scimitars and Sword and Lute are the first two stories in the Alaia Chronicles: Legends series. (I consider them part of the Alaia Chronicles, but since they occur so much earlier, I've added “Legends” to distinguish them from the main timeline.)

Want a taste of Taso's story? Here's a wee excerpt for you:

“Lie down,” she said. “You lost too much blood.”

He gave her a mulish look.

She hastened over, put her hand on his chest and gently pushed him down to the earth. A mistake, because once he was down, he captured her wrist in his warm palm.

“Who are you, maiden fair?”

She shrugged, striving to keep her face composed. “You first. You're the interesting one.”

“I wouldn't say that.” His fingers softened their grip and caressed her skin. “Not at all.”

She gave a noncommittal smile, tugged her hand from his, and stepped away to tend the fire.

“My name is Taso,” he said at last into the silence. “And what is yours, milady?”

Her teeth clamped over her name, and then she flushed. Why should she keep it from him? It was simply a word.

But each piece he knew of her was leading to someplace larger. Deeper. Perilous.

“I'm Amara.” She sprinkled a few grains of precious salt over the meat and didn't turn around.

“Amara,” he repeated, as if he liked the sound of it. Hells, she liked the sound of it when he said it in that mellow voice.

“This will need to cook a while, but I'm sure you're hungry,” she said briskly, and knelt to rummage in her pack for the bread and cheese.

“Amara,” he spoke again, stopping her as easily as if he'd bespelled her. “Thank you. For your help. For your kindness to a stranger.”

She looked at him at last, and shivered. “Did I truly break a spell?”

“You did.”

“Why? How?” She rose and took a step closer to him. “Who are you?”

“I'm Taso.” He smiled, teasing her as firelight danced across his face.

She held still. “Are you a god?”

His chest rose with a long breath and he rolled his gaze up to the star-dusted sky. “I'm not sure.”

Right now Sword and Lute is just 99 cents!

And more good news…

Kismet's Kiss is now in production as an audiobook…and the narrator is AWESOME. We hope to have it out in January or February of 2013. And I hope that not long after that, the audiobook of The Source of Magic will also be published.

Want to check out what else I have available? Amazon has the scoop.

So what's next?

I'm still writing The Soul of Magic, the sequel to Source and prequel to Kismet's Kiss. Woohoo! 2013 is going to be a good year. 🙂

Let me get something out of the way right up front: I love me some alphas.

Or at least Writer Me loves me some alphas.

Person Me has a few reservations.

Lemme ‘splain. We'll start with Writer Me.

My first published novel (Kismet's Kiss, a two-time RWA Golden Heart ® finalist) features an alpha among alphas. Kuramos is the sultan of the desert realm of Kad. The descendent of gods and the protector of his people, he's revered for his deeds and respected by his wives. (That's right, I said wives—as the sultan, he has a harem.)

Kuramos takes his responsibilities to his realm, his people, and his family to heart. He's a man who will never let you down once you're under his protection. But being the sultan has forced him to bury his own needs so deep that it takes a strong woman—one who believes in nothing less than true love and monogamy!—to shake him to his core and make him realize all he's missing, despite his wealth and palaces and power.

That's the fantasy of the alpha in romance: that whoever this ultra-masculine man is, whatever his position in life, the love of a good woman is the one thing that can bring this fearless male to his knees.

The Source of Magic

Writer Me clearly adores not only alphas, but royal alpha men. (Kismet's Kiss, The Source of MagicSwords and Scimitars….) Yep, Writer Me likes my heroes hot and powerful. But she also appreciates men who've grown up enough that they don't need to constantly project their macho-ness (for example, the enchanted Frog Prince Alexander in Kiss That Frog: A Modern Fairy Tale).

Both Writer Me and Person Me enjoy the latter kind of man—one who knows that while a woman values feeling protected, she also wants to feel loved, comforted, and respected. Unlike in fantasy worlds, modern living in the real world means we can't solve problems with magic, swords or threats. (In fact, Person Me very much appreciates the strong and caring beta male and has sworn off cocky alphas for some time to come, although Writer Me still loves to write 'em. 🙂 )

It takes a wise man to know how to communicate. Fantasy alphas often try—at least at first—to do that through action. That's nice and all, but in the modern world, a real man knows how to use words. For example, if that hot, powerful guy doesn't understand the value of giving his woman comfort (and not just in bed!), there's no point in keeping him.

Fortunately, even in fiction, many alpha heroes learn that words are worth as much as a well-executed sword strike. When they do, they appeal to readers' hearts and heads.

To me, those are the best romance heroes of all.

So here's my question for you: What do you enjoy in fictional heroes that you wouldn't necessarily want around you in real life?

I'm participating in Carrie Ann Ryan's Alpha Male Blog Hop today, so a lucky commenter from Oct. 19-22 will win a $10 gift card at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Starbucks, winner's choice—AND all commenters will be eligible for grand prizes like this:

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: An awesome Swag Pack of books and reader goodies!

To be eligible for the Blog Hop's grand prizes, you must include your email address IN THE COMMENT ITSELF so the overall Hop administrators can contact you. GOOD LUCK!

  The Source of Magic

Click here to return to the main Alpha Male Blog Hop site.

…Yes, indeed I am, and it's a particular crossroads I know all too well. Some background:

I finished the first draft of the Sword and Lute novella—that's Taso's story, so it's chronologically second in the entire Alaian timeline. (It comes just after—well, probably partly during—Kismet's story.)

Anyway, the manuscript needs to sit a few days to give my eyes and brain a break, and then I'll continue with revisions. The first half is in pretty good shape, but the second half is still rough. (I'd love to get it done and up this month, but we shall see.)

In the meantime, I opened up the files for The Soul of Magic. That's Qiara and Rokad's story, and it fits in between The Soul of Magic and Kismet's Kiss.

Soul needs to accomplish many things: tell the love story between those two characters (two of my very favorites) as well as establish the future arc of the entire Alaia Chronicles series—all while setting up Kuramos (the sultan of the later Kismet's Kiss) as an antagonist AND offering him a chance at redemption.

It's a lot. And that's one of the reasons I've struggled with this story for more than a decade.

I first started writing Soul in 2001 as my second novel. I was still such a newbie then, though, and much of what I'd learned by writing The Source of Magic I didn't quite know how to apply to Soul.

I was trying to write Soul by the seat of my pants, rather than plotting it through, and I stumbled and fell. So I put it aside and worked on Kismet's Kiss and on other stories that are still simmering on the burners. (Yep, there are a LOT of full burners in my Muse's kitchen.)

Four or five years ago, after finishing Kismet's Kiss, I picked up The Soul of Magic again. I had been envisioning Soul as a big novel—one at least as long as Kiss, for which I had to cut out an entire subplot just to squeeze it down to 106,000 words. I still remember all the threads from that larger plot of Soul, even though I could send a cruise ship through all the holes I never quite filled during the brainstorming. Something still didn't feel right with it, so I put it back on the burner to simmer.

Within the last couple of years I've played with Soul a number of times. Part of me hugely resists writing such a long book again. It can be very difficult to make everything work, it takes months and a lot of patience, and meanwhile I'd wouldn't be getting any other new stories out, which is tough on a writer's finances.

And the long plot line I'd envisioned had quite a bit of darkness in it. After having lived through a very dark period of my own in the last few years, I haven't been eager to put myself back there.

So I've toyed with shorter and lighter plot line. I think I have all its turning points worked out, and it would probably be amusing to write.

Unfortunately, the lessons I'd originally intended for each of  my main characters are best shown in the longer, darker plot line. And those characters don't seem to think that the shorter one can make things work. Or at least I can't (yet?) see the path for that.

And so I've come back to this crossroads yet again. (Sometimes it feels like I'm stuck in Once Upon A Time‘s Infinite Forest. Where's Rumpelstiltskin to save me?)

I'd really like to have Soul done and published by the end of the year. That would let me have a new book out by the holiday giving season, plus I'd finally (FINALLY!) have the timeline hole between Source and Kiss filled and would be able to label the full novels numerically, 1-3, according to their chronology. All of those reasons should be pushing me toward the lighter storyline, and yet, and yet…

On the good side, I've written four stories this year. They were all shorter works, and they helped me remember writing can be fun. Whichever trail I decide to follow for Soul, I just want to keep that fun part in mind!

I hope you're enjoying your October and reading good books. 🙂

The Soul of Magic: “A loyal but bitter mage whose powers were snuffed out while protecting his sovereign must tutor a willful and seductive princess whose inborn gifts could save the world—or plunge it into chaos.” That's my current logline for this novel, which I'm working on during Camp NaNoWriMo this month.

The Soul of Magic has haunted me (in a good way) for years. This is Rokad and Qiara's story, and it takes place in the time between The Source of Magic and Kismet's Kiss. It's actually the second novel I ever began, more than a decade ago. I never finished it back then, and now I can see some of the reasons why. I've attempted some revisions over the years, but now I have a set of updates I think will really work.

Yesterday, the first day of NaNo, I had a blast. As I wrote in my Facebook profile, “Rokad and Alvarr, you crack me up. Too bad Qiara wants to throw things (daggers, most likely) at you both.”

As NaNo keeps rolling, I may continue to share some of the draft with you. Warning, it is indeed a draft. NaNo is about getting new words on the page and not about polishing them!

To refresh your memory, Prince Alvarr (a mage) and Jilian (his Source, and now wife) were the romantic couple in The Source of Magic. Their daughter, Qiara, is now grown…and has caused herself a world of trouble, which I'll discuss in more detail later.

The following snippet occurs somewhere around chapter three or four, and takes place at a royal brunch given to honor Rokad's return to Ysanne castle. Qiara has her reasons for being uncharacteristically quiet during it. Varene (the heroine of Kismet's Kiss) makes an appearance here, as well as Thoren, Alvarr's great-uncle, and Sara, Jilian's mother. I hope you enjoy this visit with old friends!


Rokad caught a hushed commotion behind him. “You always serve the right side of the table, not the left. So I get to serve him.”

“You owe me, Lisette, and you know it.”

He glanced over his shoulder to see two serving maids fighting over the bread basket and darting glances at him.

“Ah, just like old times.” Alvarr’s mouth quirked.

“I want it stated for the record,” Rokad said, “that I am sitting as still as a tree.”

Alvarr snorted.  “Then you’d better mind your branches.”

Jilian raised a graceful hand to her mouth and snickered.

Another woman spoke behind Rokad. “You are perfectly scandalous, young man.”

Rokad turned to find Sara, Jillian’s mother, beaming at him. He chuckled and rose to his feet. “Is that a problem?”

“Never in my book. Come here, you scoundrel.” She wrapped her petite arms around him in a fierce hug, and then stood back to beam at him.

“Now Sara, was I truly that bad?”

“Wouldn’t have minded if you were, Handsome.” She gave him an outrageous wink.

Thoren, her escort, looked a tad crestfallen. “Well now, if you really like the younger ones…”

Sara tucked her arm in Thoren’s. “Do stop. Jealousy doesn’t become you.”

Thoren spluttered; Rokad clapped him on the back.

When he’d returned to his chair, a third serving maid, perhaps the overseer of the first two, appeared at his elbow with the breadbasket. She looked perfectly prim. Just for fun, Rokad gave her a slow smile and let it spread from his mouth to his eyes. He watched her melt from proper to girly in the space of three seconds.

“Such a weapon,” Varene said, laughing after the server departed with a happy sigh. Varene turned to Qiara at her side. “I told you what he was like. Never a day without the castle humming about him.”

“So I see,” Qiara said. The stiffness in her words drew Rokad's questioning gaze, but she’d already turned away to speak to her mother.

Alvarr cut his poached green egg into forkfuls. “I’m sure there’s a betting pool among the kitchen staff by now. I should probably find out the odds.”

“So it’s to be like this, is it?” Rokad asked in a falsely aggrieved voice.

Jilian broke away from her conversation with Qiara and waved her fork at him. “Don’t decry us for your reputation. You’ve only yourself to blame, and a castle of single women to satiate.”

“I’m so glad you added single to that sentence,” Alvarr drawled.

“My darling,” his wife said, “you should be.”

Rokad nearly choked on his bite of tinder-deer.

Alvarr gave Jilian a sideways glance and his smile bloomed. “That’s one way to keep me on my toes.”

“It's good for the soul.” Jilian covered her husband’s hand with her own.

“Cate Rowan charmed me with her fantastic worldbuilding about the kingdoms of Kad and Teganne.… A must-read for all fantasy romance lovers.”

Cover of Kismet's Kiss by Cate Rowan
—The Romance Reviews

“Rowan brings in the exotic, the magic and the passion in The Source of Magic. If you love magic and romance, you will love Rowan’s books.”

Cover of The Source of Magic by Cate Rowan
—The Pen & Muse Book Reviews

“What little girl (and big girl) hasn’t kissed their share of frogs hoping to have their prince appear? A fun, fast-paced, enjoyably modern fairy tale.”

Cover for Kiss That Frog: A Modern Fairy Tale (Fantasy Romance Novelette)
—Sizzling Hot Books

“From the first page I was instantly transported into a well-developed fantasy world and couldn’t put my Kindle down until I had finished the last page. A fast-paced story with heartfelt emotion!”

Cover of Swords and Scimitars by Cate Rowan
—Amazon Reviewer

“So much sexual tension that the pages are likely to burn your fingers as you eagerly beg for more.”

Cover of Kismet's Kiss by Cate Rowan
—Coffee Time Romance

“A sweet, magical story. I’m so glad I found it!”

Cover for Flirting with the Fireman: A Romantic Short Story
—Amazon Reviewer

“Cate Rowan is a dream-weaver of paranormal fiction. Sword and Lute has a time-warp vibe fusing elements of Antiquity with the Middle Ages and fantasy. Emotionally enlightening and sensually uplifting.”

Cover of Sword and Lute by Cate Rowan
—Susan Frances, Goodreads Reviewer