NaNoWriMo 2017


I haven’t blogged in a while, because I have been trying to finish Secret Magic and the combination of actually finding my groove with the story and NaNoWriMo in November meant that I didn’t want to spend any of my free time on blogging when I could be writing the book.

But it has been a while, and I figured I’d better check in, especially since I won NaNo (yay!) and am nearly finished the book.

I’m still pushing hard to get the book out by the end of this month, but you’ll notice that I haven’t put up a pre-order link yet. I’m not going to set an official date until the draft is done. Once it’s finished, I can plan for how long it will take to do revisions, copyedits, and proofreading/formatting.

I will announce the pre-order as soon as I can, and thank you for your patience! This book is going to be good, I promise. My editor has already read the first half and in addition to all of the things I need to tweak in revisions, she had some great things to say about the story and characters. I hope you love it as much as she and I do.

I will have two episodes of the Feminist Romantic going up this month. The first one, on December 6, will be about revision–not that I’m quite there yet with Secret Magic! The second, on December 20th, will be about holiday-themed romances. In addition to the usual Christmas romances, I’ve found a number of Chanukah romances and one Yule/Solstice romance, but I’m still looking for other holidays around this time of year (Diwali, Kwanzaa, etc.). If you know of any titles, send me an email ( or leave a comment and let me know!

Secret Magic Cover Reveal

Secret Magic Coming Soon

I couldn’t be more pleased to reveal this new cover.

You’ll notice that it is different from the previous three covers in style and design. That’s a conscious choice. With this book, the series is moving in a new direction, both geographically and historically.

(Some spoilers for the first three books will follow)

After the events of Memories of Magic, Percy Seward, youngest son of the Marquess of Hazelby, and Evie Finn, adopted sister of Ronan McCarrick, head to the Continent in search of proof of who currently holds the Aegis Spell–and who is receiving the power the spell is draining from England.

Their search will lead them from the mountains of Austria to the glittering world of turn-of-the-century Berlin–and then into unexpected territory: the Realm of Faerie, where Evie’s past–and her future–will be fully revealed.

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Secret Magic will be available in time for the holidays, on December 12, 2017. Pre-order is coming soon!



September Plans


My kids are finally back in school, huzzah!

That means it’s time to start the serious business of writing the fourth book in the Fay of Skye series, Secret Magic.

I hope to finish the bulk of the book this month, with mid-October as my deadline to have it to my editor. Since I also have an anthology coming out in November to write a short story for, that’s on my plate as well.

If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you know that I’m asking for help to pick a title for that story. Subscribe here and I’ll send you the choices so you can help me decide!

I will also be revealing the cover to Secret Magic later this month, so keep an eye out for that. But I will otherwise be going “dark” on social media while I write, so other than my scheduled blog posts here (which are already written) and live-tweeting episodes of Outlander season three, I’ll see you all sometime in October!

Delays and a Reveal

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I had so many plans for my writing this summer.

But as it often happens, those plans had to bend in order to accommodate real life. Back at the beginning of the year I talked about how difficult it was to write with the world in a tailspin and my kids underfoot, and that definitely hasn’t changed. If anything, the state of the world has gotten worse.

And I have both kids home unexpectedly this summer thanks to a broken arm and some financial factors. So my days are now divided between my day job and my kids and other family obligations–with writing coming in at a distant third place.

My original publication plan was to have Book Four in the Fay of Skye series out in October, around the same time as Theft of Magic came out last year. But that simply isn’t going to happen this year. My publishing company is doing a holiday-themed contemporary romance anthology that will be published around Thanksgiving, so I’m pushing Book Four to December.

So that’s the delay. Now it’s time for the reveal!

Book Four in the Fay of Skye series will be called Secret Magic.

If you’ve already read Memories of Magic, you can probably guess whose story this is, but for those of you who haven’t, it’s time for Evie Finn and Percy Seward!

Evie was first introduced in the epilogue of Essential Magic as a student at the Fay School in Glasgow, and appeared as a minor character in both Theft of Magic and Memories of Magic. She is Ronan McCarrick’s adopted sister (not officially–but they sort-of adopted each other as members of a street gang in Dublin) and recently finished her magical training.

Percy is the youngest brother of the Seward siblings. He was referenced semi-frequently throughout the series, but up to this point has been on the Continent and not actually in any of the books. He returned home during the course of Memories of Magic and was present for the epilogue. He is employed by the British Army in intelligence and diplomatic service, and has almost no magic–except for the ability to understand other languages and a tiny bit of fire starting.

I have already started the book, and I am very excited about writing it–it’s just that I don’t have enough time to devote to it to get it finished and polished before October. My kids will be back to school on September 5th, and I’m planning to write most of the book in September and October.

Here’s a link to my Pinterest board for Secret Magic. There’s not much on the board yet, but eventually there will be character-inspiration pictures, lots of period references, costuming ideas, location pics, and more.

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I’ll be revealing the cover of Secret Magic later next month, but if you’re signed up to my newsletter, you’ll get to see it in just a few days! Click here to sign up, and in addition to getting early access and exclusive newsletter extras, you’ll also receive my short story “Love at Dawn” from Crazy Little Spring Called Love for free! I can’t send that out until August 2nd because that’s when my rights revert, but anyone who is signed up to my newsletter by then (or who signs up in the future) will get the story.

Here’s the blurb:

Sometimes mortals need a little push from a god and goddess to fall in love…

Leora has been in love with one man her whole life. Unfortunately, the man standing beside her on the dais about to recite the words of the Sacred Marriage Rite isn’t her dream husband, Linden. It’s her nemesis, Reed. And yet–the way he’s looking at her  from behind his mask makes her burn with desire.

Reed sees Leora and nearly curses the gods. In this ceremony, the Harvest God and Dawn Goddess will consummate their wedding using Leora and Reed’s bodies. Tomorrow, he and Leora will be sworn to secrecy and have no memory of the ritual or the identity of their partner. If either reveals the truth, they’ll risk offending the gods and damning their country to twenty-five years of famine and drought. Reed doesn’t want secrecy and a coupling he’ll immediately forget. He wants Leora for real—and for always.

Will they defy the rules of the gods for love? Or is that what the gods intended all along?

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In the meantime, I have a story in a science fiction romance anthology coming out next week! It’s called “The Pirates and the Pacifist” and the anthology is Love Across the UniverseI’ll have two blog posts about it next week, including an excerpt! So stay tuned.

Here’s the blurb for Pirates:

Kai doesn’t believe in violence. Sam and Dek believe the ends justify the means. Will passion be enough to bridge the gap between the pacifist and the pirates?

Kaikoa meets Sameer and Dek—leaders of a crew of sometimes space pirates—when they abduct Kai and keep him from attending an important peace summit. But when the pirates’ payment never appears and a gunship shows up instead, Kai, Sam, and Dek find themselves on the same side of a galactic conflict–and tumbling headlong into a reckless passion.

Now they are searching for the truth about who hired the pirates to keep Kai from the summit—and whether the enemy wants one side to win, or simply chaos in the galaxy. But when the allies find the ones who double-crossed them on a terraformed resort moon, will Dek and Sam follow their new lover’s pacifist wishes, or will the pirate code of an eye for an eye tear their fragile threesome apart?

Pre-order your copy of Love Across the Universe now!

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

Love Across the Universe 5x8 Trade

Cara Reads Memories Chapter One!

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For Memories of Magic’s release day party, I made a special YouTube video of me reading the first chapter of the book. I am not actually on the video–I recorded the audio and then used the book’s cover as a still image. So it’s almost more like a podcast.

I didn’t do any accents (I am intimidated by accents!), and there are some coughs and fumbles that I didn’t manage to edit out, plus a weird buzzing that I assume has something to do with an equipment problem but I don’t know enough to figure out what. Otherwise, though, I think this turned out fairly well. I’m even talking with A.E. Hayes (who did the live video with me on Facebook for the Crazy Little Spring Called Love release) about starting a monthly podcast.

Check out the video. I hope you enjoy it!


PS–tonight, several of the authors of Crazy Little Spring Called Love will be interviewed by Focus on Fantasy Romance, a weekly vlog about all things magical and romantic!

Check it out:

Focus on Fantasy Romance YouTube Channel and Website

Memories of Magic Book Soundtrack Addendum

While doing revisions on Memories of Magic, I had an epiphany.

Several of the songs on Lindsey Stirling’s new album Brave Enough caught my attention and went into my favorite song playlist, but the one in particular that I’ve been listening to on repeat is “Where Do We Go?”


Note–Lindsey Stirling makes epic music videos. If she makes one of this song, I’ll replace this with the official video. Until then, this is just the audio with her album cover.

Anyway, I couldn’t figure out what it was about this song that was getting inside my head until I was working on my revisions and trying to “up the stakes” for Olivia. There was already a thread in the book that things are not going well for her in her career, but the way I’d written it, she still had steady work and expected to turn things around any day. And then I realized that I was going too easy on her, and so I changed things. Now, the project that she’s working on is her last chance at making a go of her career. If this fails, she’s going to have to give up.

And that’s where the song comes in. Because now, it fits. Early in the book, circumstances force Olivia away from the project, tearing away her last chance, and now she has to ask herself: Who am I without my career, and where do I go now?

“Where do we go when our prayers are answered but the answer is no?”

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Memories of Magic is now available! Buy it here:

Memories of Magic

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trade paperback (links coming soon)

Amazon | CreateSpace | B & N | Ingram

Memories of Magic releases today!!

Normally I do a whole series of blog posts leading up to a release, but in my haste to get this book out to all of you, I scheduled this release only three weeks after the spring romance anthology, and I am, honestly, worn out. So I am going to take a break for a week or so, and then do my Memories-themed blogs in June. Look for blogs about history, anthropology, Hinduism (or at least the version of it that exists in my world, which is simply called Sutra), and my struggle with writing a non-gender-conforming but femme-skewing heroine who also doesn’t have access to twenty-first century terminology or non-gendered pronouns.

Thank you to everyone who is taking this journey with me and Clan Fay and its members! If all goes well, I plan to spend the next few months researching and then writing book four (title to be revealed soon!).

Keep reading for an excerpt from Olivia and Savit’s first meeting!


Olivia rose from her chair and walked back to the parlor. Sorcha followed.

Everyone had clumped together around the new arrival, greeting him informally instead of following the more rigid rules of social introduction that her mother had always preferred. Olivia was glad to see Etta didn’t stand on ceremony, even with outsiders.

And then Liv saw Dr. Reilly and heat rose from her core, sending waves of desire tingling along every nerve ending in her body.

Dr. Alexander Reilly was gorgeous.

Not gorgeous in the same way as most of the male lovers she’d taken in the past, many of whom had been student laborers from universities on the Continent and bulky with muscle from digging. In many ways, he reminded her more of her last female lover, who had been slender and had stunning, well-defined features. He was beautiful, compact and slim, and only a little taller than her brother, but with nearly-black hair that curled at the ends, eyes dark as a moonless night, and skin a shade darker than Etta’s.

She had to suppress a very inconvenient desire to go and proposition him as she might a man met on her travels.

This was Dr. Reilly, the bane of her academic existence. She’d just skewered him in all but name in the last edition of Walking the Past, the premiere archaeological and historical journal in the United Kingdom.

So why was her pulse still racing, and why did her fingers itch to tangle themselves in his mass of black curls? She closed her hands into fists. She’d promised herself: no more mixing work and sex, and certainly no sleeping with the enemy.


Savit shook Ronan’s hand, then Malcolm Seward’s, and finally Etta Cook-Fay’s. He was a little surprised to shake a woman’s hand, and even more surprised when Ronan casually mentioned that she was married to Malcolm and was, by the way, the Duchess of Fay.

The woman looked nothing like his preconceived notions of a duchess. In fact, she looked more like his memories of his mother, with warm brown skin, brown eyes, and black hair. The only difference was a wide streak of opalescent silver that matched the one arching through her husband’s red-brown hair, and eyes that appeared slightly slanted above high cheekbones.

Her magic felt nothing like his mother’s, though. Hers was the deep pine of a forest, mixed with the scent of fresh-tilled earth and the taste of honeysuckle and salt. His mother’s had been jungle-hot, a mix of lotus and lily.

He released her hand, and her expression changed, becoming more assessing. She’d been testing his magic even as he experienced hers. She said nothing, but he altered his first impression of her immediately. She’d been informal, almost casual, but she was not a woman to be underestimated or dismissed. She might not match his imagined picture of a duchess, but the title and the power it held rooted her like a banyan tree. What had she determined in her survey? Did she find him lacking?

Ronan drew Savit’s attention away from the duchess. He had taken the hand of a very short, very voluptuous woman with pale blonde hair. He presented her as his wife, Sorcha Fay. Apparently the Fay women did not take their husbands’ names in marriage.

And then Savit saw the other woman, and such insignificant thoughts fled.

She was magnificent. From her tanned skin and heart-shaped face, to the toned body that spoke of an active lifestyle, to her tailored clothes that only barely edged over into femininity, he found her attractive, although a little thin and haggard, as though she’d recently been ill. But for that beauty to be crowned with such hair was a wonder and a delight.

Shorn shorter than he’d ever seen on a woman, her hair was no single color. Instead, the shining mass was caught somewhere between purest white, silver, and opal. Each individual strand would have been the crowning glory of a seashell, and put pearls to shame.

And even still, all of this only attracted him in a pleasant, aesthetic sort of way. There was something else underneath, an energy and a pulse of awareness, that roused his flesh, his mind, and his spirit all at once.

The flesh was easy to ignore; he’d not remained celibate for years now without learning to control his baser lusts. But the arousal of his mind and spirit was far more difficult to ignore.

Then Ronan said her name. Olivia Seward.

Olivia Seward? His shoulders shifted backward in a tiny, unconscious movement, pushing his chest out. He didn’t believe in coincidences, and Oliver Seward had been running a campaign to have him discredited now for almost six months.

Savit held out his hand. With a tiny hint of a smile, she took it.

Magic flared between them. He experienced her gift with a befuddled sort of wonder. She was all dust, leather, and bone, a mix of old books and the storage rooms where his college kept antiques and specimens. But cutting through these familiar scents was a refreshing flavor of peppermint.

Up close, he could see her eyes were hazel: a mix of greens and golds and greys and browns. Her mouth was formed with generous lips, and her jaw had a stubborn, deliberate line. Beneath the severe tailoring of her coat, her breasts rose and fell, too quickly for her not to be experiencing the same desire as he did.

He wanted her. Again his blood began to heat, his heart tripping into a faster rhythm. His cock stirred. Her lips parted, and she exhaled. Warmth settled in his chest as he pulled her breath into his lungs. As though he could make her part of himself.

He yanked his hand away and brought his body back under control. He could not do this. Must not give in to his physical desires. They clouded his thoughts, and his magic.

Once he’d calmed the raging beast within him, he recognized what else he had felt in her, mixed in with magic and desire.


She was definitely Oliver Seward. Even if he was tempted to break his ascetic vows for the gorgeous woman—which he most definitely was not—he would never do so for the scathing author of “How Anthropology Fails to Uphold the Basic Tenets of the Scientific Method.”

He deliberately turned his back on her.

© 2017 Cara McKinnon

If you enjoyed this taste of Memories of Magic, click below to get your copy!


trade paperback (LINKS COMING SOON)

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Cover Reveal: Memories of Magic

One of the reasons that I needed to redesign Essential Magic‘s cover was because of this cover. I spent an inordinate amount of time searching for a model that looked like Olivia. After you read the book, you’ll know that even this one isn’t an exact match–but the emotional expression is a perfect fit.

Once I’d decided on this model, and this particular image, I knew I would have to do something different with Essential MagicA Theft of Magic still worked, for the most part. I tweaked it a little for the redesign, but it already used the same visual language. Essential Magic didn’t–but it does now!

Here it is, the cover for Memories of Magic:


The print version isn’t  100% done. I’m still tweaking the back cover copy and some of the minor details. But this is pretty much what it will look like:


What do you think? Are you excited to read Olivia’s story? A firm release date for Memories of Magic is coming soon–just as soon as I get my edits back and can estimate the time needed to revise, have copy edits completed, and do the final proofing/formatting.


Feel free to share this post!

Here are all of the covers together. Don’t they look great?

Changing History for Memories of Magic

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My entire series is set in an alternate world where magic is real, but the changes I made to accommodate that magic have only played a minimal part up to this point in the books. In Memories of Magic, alternate history has a starring role.

In this book, my main characters are both historians. Olivia is an archaeologist, preferring the hands-on and strictly scientific aspects of discovering the past. Savit is an anthropologist, looking beyond the facts of what was found where and when it was used, to the cultures and people that created the artifacts.

I’ll post another blog closer to the book’s release about the history of anthropology, and where Savit fits in the evolution of the subject, but within the context of Memories, Olivia and Savit are at odds over the scientific rigor of anthropology. Olivia calls it “informed fiction” and Savit thinks of it as giving a narrative to her data.

But now Olivia is actually seeing the story–having visions of the past. And of course, Etta wants to make use of that gift to find out more about the spell draining English magic.

I’ve chosen 1688 as the origin of the drain, and Olivia and Savit quickly learn that it is ancient magic, known as the Aegis Spell. The reason for it to be cast in 1688 is an event known as the Glorious Revolution.

In the real world, the Glorious Revolution came about because James II opposed many of the things that his Parliament wanted. With some exceptions, he wanted more religious tolerance and more power in the hands of the monarch. But the big issue that would eventually see him overthrown was his conversion to Catholicism and the birth of a Catholic male heir.

In my world, the politics are similar, but on magical lines (with their attendant deities) rather than religious. James II is for the Magisterium and chooses his Sorcerer accordingly. His daughters adhere to the Academe, but a son would not. So his eldest daughter Mary and his nephew William arrive from the Netherlands to seize power.

In the real world, there are some mild skirmishes, and James first flees, throwing the Great Seal of the Realm into the Thames. He is then captured by William’s forces. Eventually they allow him to escape to the Continent, and despite an attempt to regain the throne afterward, William and Mary had relatively few problems taking over. That is why it’s called the Glorious Revolution.

In my world, the events follow the same course, but the Great Seal is a magical artifact of kingship and not just a mundane seal. After its loss, William and Mary resort to a different magical recourse to legitimize their rule: the Aegis Spell.

The spell is still in place in 1897. But instead of taking English magic and channeling it through the monarch and then back into the land and people, the spell has been diverted elsewhere. Finding out where and when the change happened will take all of Olivia and Savit’s skills as researchers, and Olivia’s newfound talent of seeing into the past to discover secrets never committed to paper.

The problem? Olivia’s visions are dangerous, and none of the Fays can teach her how to control them. And while Savit has the knowledge needed to help her, his attraction to her gets in the way of his own magic.

Memories of Magic is coming soon!

Book Soundtracks: Memories of Magic


The book soundtrack posts are some of my favorite to do, because I get to dig deeper into my reasons for choosing particular songs for my writing playlist. Sometimes I don’t even realize why I chose a song until I sit down to write about it!

First on the list for this book is “Shatter Me” by Lindsey Stirling. In a weird way, this song is relevant to both Olivia and Savit. I say weird, because they are very, very different people who (at least at first) see the world in vastly disparate ways. But on a deep, emotional level they both want the same thing. Although neither of them would admit it at the beginning of the book, they’re both unhappy, dissatisfied with the state of their lives. It’s going to take a leap into the unknown, and a reliance on each other, to find fulfillment and feel alive.

Next is “Gravity of Love” by Enigma. This one has gone in and out of my writing playlists for a while, but only for its more atmospheric qualities. This is the first time I’m really connecting the lyrics to one of my characters. Savit has always chosen the path of restraint and detachment, so this song speaks directly to him, reminding him that there are other ways to wisdom. Perhaps he and Olivia will only survive if they give in to the gravity of love…

Unfortunately I couldn’t find an official video for this, so I picked one that has the lyrics on it.

There are lots more songs on there, but here’s one that I found recently while surfing through Bollywood music. Although the film this is from would work well for Olivia, this is kind-of a Savit song, too. It’s this bewildered journey through a world that is suddenly alive with sensations and feeling–exactly the way he feels when he’s with Olivia. Translation here at Bollynook.


Last one, this time an Olivia song. Again, I found this by looking through Bollywood playlists. I’m not sure what the movie is about, but the lyrics fit for Olivia. She’s well-traveled, and has experienced much in her life, including other loves. But she’s never met anyone like Savit. My favorite is this line:

Na Toh Pyaari Si Nadani Kahin
I didn’t find that lovely innocence anyplace

(Translation, again, from Bollynook)

It’s so perfect for Savit, who despite his position as her mentor in magic, is an innocent in ways of the heart. This is not Olivia at the beginning of the story, but it is where she finds herself by the end.


I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my writing life! Now I’m going to get back to it!

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