The last two years: the Cliff Notes version

Well, it’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it? I’ve been busy, though you wouldn’t think it to look at my website lately. Let me give you the Cliff Notes version of what’s been  happening since I last posted.

In 2022 I started a new pen name. As Emerald Finn, I write cozy mysteries set in a coastal Australian town, with nary a dragon in sight. No fantasy at all in these books, though there is a very loveable golden retriever and a bunch of fun and quirky characters.

Emerald had a very big year, publishing four books in 2022. If you’d like more details, check out Emerald’s website here: Emerald Finn.

But I was so busy writing cozies in 2022 that there was no time left for any books under my own name. In 2023, the tables were turned. Emerald had no new releases, and Marina published the first two books in a new urban fantasy series, The Cartomancer’s Guide to Werewolves. (Is it weird to talk about myself in the third person?? Probably. Moving on …)

Magic on the Cards features Sunday, a witch who uses the Tarot to work magic (otherwise known as a cartomancer). Sunday’s going about her business, just trying to catch a rogue monster that is threatening her friends, when she knocks a hot dude off his motorbike. When Mr Tall, Dark, and Suspicious refuses medical aid, Sunday takes him back to her place, where she makes the horrifying discovery that he’s a member of a werewolf brotherhood dedicated to hunting down cartomancers like herself. She’ll be toast if he finds out what she is, but she still has a job to do, even with distractingly handsome enemies in the picture.

If you’re looking for a feel-good enemies-to-lovers fantasy that will make you laugh out loud and keep you turning pages until late at night, this is the book for you!

The sequel, Magic in the Flesh, picks up the story after the GINORMOUS twist at the end of the first book, with Sunday now living surrounded by her werewolf enemies. No one is happy with this situation—not the wolves, who keep trying to kill her, not Sunday, who’s walking around with a giant target on her back, and certainly not Conal, the aforementioned Tall, Dark, and Handsome, who’s got the job of keeping her alive. So he proposes they pretend to be mates so the pack will accept her. Cue fun fake dating shenanigans, a threat to magic itself, and a whole lot more laughs and adventure.

Which brings us to this year. Happy New Year! I hope 2024 is good to us all. I’m planning to write the final book in the Cartomancer’s Guide series, plus a couple more cozies. Given that my eldest is getting married this year, that will probably be quite enough to keep me busy, though I’m already pondering which direction I should strike out in next. Perhaps a romantasy, or a fairytale retelling? Or another urban fantasy? If you have any preferences, let me know in the comments.

Reading journals (download your free reading tracker below!)

Do you keep a reading journal? I’ve been on Goodreads for years, and even before that I used to keep a list of the books I’d read each year on my old blog. But lately I’ve been seeing a lot of beautiful reading journals on YouTube, and their artistic nature appeals to the scrapbooker in me.

I’ve always had trouble remembering much of what I’ve read. Plot details blur together, and once I’ve finished a book I can barely remember the main character’s name, much less anything else. Usually all I can recall are a few main events and whether or not I liked the book.

So I’ve decided to keep a reading journal this year. Filling it in will give me a relaxing activity as well as a more detailed record of my thoughts on what I’ve read. I’m hoping this will help with my lousy recall!

As part of my journal I created a reading tracker in the form of a bookshelf full of blank books, and I thought you might like to have one too! Click the download button below to get your own blank .pdf version of the reading tracker.

As I finish each book, I’ll write the title on the spine and colour it in according to how many stars I’ve given the book. You could also colour them in according to what format the book was (ie paperback, ebook, audiobook), colours that match the actual book, or use any colour scheme that takes your fancy. Or of course you could leave them in beautiful black and white—it’s up to you how your personalise your tracker. There is room for 106 books on the tracker, but you can print extra copies if you read more books than that.

I hope you enjoy it! Are you planning to keep a reading journal this year? Or have you kept one before? Let me know in the comments!

Where did 2021 go?

Okay, so we’re all pretending 2021 never happened, right?

You would certainly be forgiven for thinking so if you looked at my website last year. Not a single update! Though I did publish one book—Assassin’s Bane, the final book in the Thief of Souls trilogy—and had a novella published in the anthology High Moon.

Both of those are worth a read if you haven’t yet.

Accidentally becoming a necromancer was NOT on the to-do list. Oops.

Today was meant to be all about destroying the assassins who have plagued the Realms of Faerie for centuries. Instead, the assassins are a no-show and I’m fighting ghosts that I shouldn’t be able to see.

Somehow, I’ve ended up with some of dear old Dad’s necromantic power. He’s the kind of guy who gave necromancy its bad name, and I’d give his tainted magic back in a heartbeat if I could. But he’s disappeared along with the assassins and the sinister dagger known as the Thief of Souls. That’s a triple threat that could smash the Realms into dust.

When all that power is turned on my best friend, my only option is to embrace the deadly new magic I despise. And that’s a choice that could destroy me.

Assassin’s Bane brings Sage’s story to a close. Willow’s story is still to come, but I’ll be leaving the Thirteen Realms behind for a while. I’m taking a break to work on a new series called A Cartomancer’s Guide to Werewolves, and it’s going to be a lot of fun!

I’m very proud of my story in this anthology. I haven’t had so much fun writing a story in years. I even busted out the Tarot cards to give me inspiration while I was writing it, which really sparked my creativity.

Come howl at the moon with these all-new tales of wolves in the city!

This thrilling collection contains eight exclusive novellas by today’s top urban fantasy authors.

“Fox Hunt” by Aimee Easterling—Mai’s life revolves around acting human and teaching fencing to middleschoolers. Then a student goes missing just as werewolves start breathing down her neck. Can she hunt the hunters without revealing her identity as a fox?

 “Wereabouts Unknown” by Jenn Stark—Having strutted her way from cop to carny fortune teller to the newest, most fabulous member of a group of Tarot mystics, Nikki Dawes has the world in the palms of her bedazzle-gloved hands. But now a pack of displaced werewolves is relying on her to find the rest of their kind. Can she reunite those snarly, sexy beasts in time to win the war on magic?

 “Elemental Witch” by B R Kingsolver—After a magical disaster puts Joanna’s future in jeopardy, the Supernatural Council gives her a second chance at Midleton College. New friends, a hot wolf shifter, and a serene campus grow on her fast. Then some fool summons a demon. Can Joanna clean up the mess before the demon kills her friends?

 “Dragon Tears” by Marina Finlayson—New wolf Nat Turner jumps at the chance to escape her controlling pack when she’s offered a job as bodyguard to a powerful dragon. But her dream job becomes a nightmare when she realises she must also protect the magical gems known as dragon tears that contain his power. Because holy hell, does that man have a lot of enemies.

 “Lunaticking” by Dale Ivan Smith—Sorcerer-Agent Elizabeth Marquez tracks illegal wolf-men manifestations. Shifter Chloe must find her kidnapped pack leader. Together, these two wielders of different magics must find the supernatural culprits behind both crimes, and stop a far greater one from happening.

 “Prowl” by N. R. Hairston—Wereskunk Anise is constantly ducking werewolves and vampires intent upon harvesting her high-dollar skunk oil. Will alpha werewolf Brick really help, or is he just another poacher hunting her?

 “Full Moon’s Curse” by Jenn Windrow—Sometimes the cure is worse than the curse. Cursed by a witch on a power kick, Julia Monroe has twenty-four hours to kill the leader of the local coven. If she fails, she’ll be forced to live as a wolf for the rest of her life. If she succeeds, she’ll be excommunicated from her pack and her family.

 “A Myth in Moonlight” by Becca Andre—Leena knows that mythical creatures don’t exist—not in the modern magical world. But when the old werewolf myth proves to have some … bite, she must re-examine her beliefs to break an improbable curse before it runs wild in Cincinnati.

Assassin’s Dagger is out!

Between the coronavirus and a death in the family, it’s been a bad year for writing, but I finally have a new book out! Assassin’s Dagger picks up Sage’s story after the life-changing events at the end of Assassin’s Blood and takes her in a new and unexpected direction.

The book has a beautiful cover in a new style. I had the covers for the whole series redesigned to better reflect the changing trends in urban fantasy cover design and the mood of the overall story.

Isn’t it gorgeous? Here’s the blurb for the book:

Most estranged fathers would send an email. Mine sends a zombie.

The infamous dagger known as the Thief of Souls is now mine. Its seductive power comes with a catch—the blade is determined to control me, and I’m losing the battle.

Ash wants to free me from its clutches. He’s an ice-cold fae assassin who bizarrely seems to care for me, but can I trust his motives? A little voice inside me is screaming yes, but I can’t even trust my own thoughts anymore.

So of course dear old Dad picks this moment to crawl out of whatever hole he’s been hiding in for the last five years. He’s a dangerous necromancer, and he wants the dagger, but maybe I can use him. Because he’s the key to what I want most in all the world—if I can bring myself to pay the price.

Assassin’s Blood also has a stunning new cover:

Both books are available now on Amazon: Assassin’s Blood and Assassin’s Dagger.

Life in lockdown

To say that 2020 has not been the year any of us expected back when we celebrated New Year’s Eve and made our New Year’s resolutions would be an understatement. I bought my 2020 planner with great expectations of how its pages would fill with a record of my productivity, but months and months of it were left blank as time passed and the crisis deepened.

In Australia, we’ve been relatively lucky, with few deaths and not many cases compared to many other countries, though our state of Victoria is in the grip of a concerning second wave at the moment. Here in New South Wales, we are getting a tiny trickle of cases, but so far things are continuing along as “normal”, whatever that means in these strange days.

Restrictions have eased since our full-on lockdown from the end of March through to late May. Schools are open, as are restaurants and pubs, though with some restrictions. But many people are still working from home, if they can, and public transport is half empty. It feels as though at any minute it could all change again in a heartbeat.

This has been both a good and a bad time to be a writer. I was unable to write at all when things first got bad, overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster. I did a lot of reading in those early weeks. Every day, the news was so horrifying, and the only way to stop compulsively checking for updates was to lose myself in a book. When life feels like a disaster movie, what else do you do but escape into fantasy?

But after a while, I settled into the new reality, and actually found it helpful to have everyone home with me. My son was doing school online during lockdown. He’s seventeen, so he didn’t need my help, but we used to sit together at the dining table every day. He’d work on his schoolwork, and I’d write, and we’d both motivate each other to stick to it and get it done. Some days my girls, who are both at uni, would be sitting there with us, and it felt like a hive of industry. (Except my middle child is a terrible procrastinator, and her chatting would derail the rest of us!)

Lately, I’ve discovered the motivating power of the virtual “office”. I’ve been getting together with writer friends via Zoom. We have a little chat, then mute the meeting and get to work. It’s interesting how just having someone working away in the corner of your screen encourages you not to goof off and actually stick to what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s almost as good as having my little study buddy sitting next to me at the dining table.

I hope you’re safe and well, wherever you are, and that you and your family are coping okay with these strange times we live in. I’ll be over here writing, I guess, and hoping for better news for the world soon.

Assassin’s Blood is out!

It’s been a hell of a year for writing, but I finally have a new book out! Assassin’s Blood picks up the Thirteen Realms story where Changeling Illusion finished, but from Sage’s point of view.

So it’s a new story and can be read without having read the first Thirteen Realms series, but readers familiar with that series will find a lot of old friends in this book.

When Sage is caught stalking a beautiful fae assassin, he gives her a choice: become his apprentice or die.

Available now on Amazon!

Lucky number 13

Changeling Illusion is out, and it’s my thirteenth novel. Feels good to have another trilogy finished–even more so because I finally got to reveal the big twist in Allegra’s story that I’ve been hugging to myself since I first envisioned this series!

How do you bring down one of the most powerful fae in all the Realms?

That’s the question Allegra has to answer in this final adventure. Kellith, Lord of Summer, won’t stop trying to kill her and she has too much to live for now to go down without a fight.

Plus, the exiles of Illusion are relying on her to bring them home. If she screws this up, Illusion will disappear forever, and Kellith’s next assassin may be the one to take her head.

This one was so much fun to write! There are midnight assassins, betrayals, explosive secrets revealed and that HUMUNGOUS twist at the end. I’m practically rubbing my hands with glee, imagining people reading that twist!

Grab Changeling Illusion now on Amazon and return to the thrilling world of the Realms for the stunning conclusion to the trilogy.

My genius plan for getting a sleep-in on Christmas Day

Can you believe Christmas is tomorrow?? How the hell did that happen? One minute I was cruising along, thinking I still had time to get Changeling Illusion out by the end of the year. Next minute, I blinked, and it practically was the end of the year. Where did December go?

Anyway, I’m sorry to say it will be at least January before I can get this book out. I still have a couple of scenes to write, then revision to do, then the book has to go to the editor and formatter. So there’s still a good few weeks of work to go.

But at least I can show you the gorgeous cover!

I am going to take Christmas Day off, though. I have big plans to lie around, reading one of the books I know Santa is bringing and eating way too much Christmas pudding. And maybe playing a new board game with my kids.

Speaking of kids–I have a brilliant tip for you! Last year I decided to adopt the Icelandic tradtion of Jolabokaflod, which means “Christmas Book Flood”. Icelandic people exchange gifts of books and chocolate on Christmas Eve, then go to bed and read their new book and eat the chocolate. How perfect is that? Could there be a better tradition??

We all enjoyed it so much that we’re doing it again this year. And the best thing about it? My kids were so tired from sitting up late reading that they slept in, so I got to lie in until nine in the morning on Christmas Day. Evil genius for the win!

Look at my cute Jolabokaflod tree:

If you celebrate Christmas and your kids are old enough to read, I thoroughly recommend adopting the tradition at your house too!  Do you have any fun Christmas traditions in your family? What are they?

Hope you have a safe and happy festive season, however you celebrate. Me? I’m off to bed to eat my chocolate and read my new book!

Caged Lightning is out!

Lexi is back for the final instalment in the Shadows of the Immortals. Magic! Adventure! Gods and monsters! Will Lexi find out who is the mastermind behind the shadow shapers? Will she get her man? Will Zeus get his body back (and will it be wearing undies)?

For the answers to these and other exciting questions, grab yourself a copy and see how the saga ends—ebook available on Amazon now!

New covers!

The Proving series has had a makeover! My wonderful cover designer made fantabulous new covers for Twiceborn, The Twiceborn Queen, and Twiceborn Endgame. Aren’t they gorgeous?

I’m thrilled—I always wanted Karri to design the covers for this series, but she was booked solid, so I went with someone else. While I was happy with the original covers, these new ones are truly gorgeous, and the model has a gutsy go get ’em look to her that really captures Kate’s spirit. Same fast-paced, dragon-filled adventure inside, but now I think the covers reflect the action and excitement of the books much better, so I am one happy author!