Kim McDougall
I have some exciting world building for you today. At least I think it's exciting. But first a bit of book news.
Thorn of Vioska is officially available on Amazon in ebook, paperback and Kindle Unlimited. Other stores will list the paperback soon.


Thorn of Vioska marks the end of the Valkyrie Bestiary. I am both humbled and thrilled that many readers didn't want this series to end, and they took the time to write to me about their feelings for the series. One of my favorite emails was from Jim Rosenberg who, upon receiving his copy of Thorn of Vioska, wrote:

Falling in love with a series and set of characters is a lot like developing a drug habit and then having to go cold-turkey. You realize that your supplier is closing shop and your “source” is going away forever.
Then they tell you after you have savored that last high of dopamine and begun to detox the fantasy space you lived it that they  found one more hit!
The pain and confusion set in! Do you immediately go for one final high? Or save it for a special occasion or weekend?
Damn you authors and thanks for the long trip!

Well said, Jim. Thank you to everyone who sent their congrats for the series finale. And several readers pointed out that I left a “door” open for future stories. 
Yes, I did. 
Does that mean I'll be writing Holly's story next? Or more Emil? 
Not right now at least. It's not that I don't love Kyra and her family, but I feel that her story is done. For now. I have other characters to create and introduce to you. But yes, I left that door open. Who knows what the future will bring. Well, Terra probably knows, but she's not telling. 
In other news, I was recently interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille for Speculating Canada Magazine. We had a lovely chat about all thing fantastical and the power of Urban Fantasy, in particular. If you'd like to check out that interview, you can see it HERE
Here's one final tidbit. If you would like to see a poster for Kyra's final blog post, you can find that HERE. Note that it is a minor spoiler if you haven't read Worlds Don't Collide yet.

World Building Fun

An so, onto my next adventure as I edit the manuscript I roughed out last December for A Knack for Metal and Bone. When I started revising the first draft, I realized…that it's a hot mess! Five years ago, this is the kind of manuscript I would have abandoned (you might remember that I wrote 4 complete novels in the Valkyrie Bestiary World before publishing Dragons Don't Eat Meat). But I'm better at editing now. Hot-mess manuscripts no longer terrify me. In fact, I kind of enjoy the challenge of polishing the diamond in the rough. And I do so love the new characters, and their interesting world.
First books in a new series are an amazing delight to me. There are so many connections to be made, characters to develop, mysteries to unravel. Conversations pop into my head. I find myself chuckling over quirks and sassiness. All in all, these early days of a new series are my favorite part about writing. They are also very labor-intensive. I've been world building for over a month now. I even discovered a terrific map-making software and plan to include some maps. I'll share those here at a later date. 
A Knack for Metal and Bone is a steampunkish fantasy set in a distant future where the world has devolved to a more primitive society in terms of technology. One of the tangles I had to unravel was how my magic system connected to the mechs (or technology). At the very end of this newsletter you'll find a brief I wrote that helps me to navigate these elements. I didn't get to share this process with readers when I wrote Dragons Don't Eat Meat because my newsletter was nonexistent back then. So I hope you'll enjoy this peek into my writing process. 

If you don't like to know how the magic is made, I suggest you skip the world building section. If you'd like to see some character sketches and cover art for A Knack for Metal and Bone. Click HERE.

Book Fairs & Events


Spotlight Books

Magic Heist
A Riley Cruz Novel: Book Three
L.A. McBride
I’ve coveted a lot of valuables in my life. Magic was never one of them.

My plan was to spend my days on a little team-building, a headquarters’ renovation, and an overdue date with a smoking-hot shifter. Instead, I’m stuck learning to wield a magic as unpredictable as my nature.

As the first known shifter witch hybrid, my sexy alpha werewolf isn't the only one pressuring me to join ranks. The local coven is determined to get me under control. With their rules and rituals, they're worse than a supernatural H.O.A. Too bad, I'm allergic to being told what to do.

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The imPerfect Cathar Series

After hundreds of years of dying, you'd have thought I'd have perfected it by now...

The multi-award winning gritty urban fantasy series. Three immortal heretics find out the answer to the question - if you couldn't die, what would you do to keep the world alive?

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Mechs, Magic & Scribes

As promised, here's a little insight into how my brain works as I world build. I have pages and pages of such notes for every character, backstory, society, weapon, setting, etc. You can see there are connections forming here as I flesh out the why's and how's. And by the questions I left for myself, you can glimpse that it's an ongoing process.

As a reader, you may never need to know all this info. As a writer, it helps to lay it all out like this so I can refer back to it when I'm writing. Creating rules also helps to create plot points and conflict because the characters must work within these rules.
As always, I love to hear from you. Let me know what you think about this new world. You can reply right in the comments. 

Keystone: The panel of thera in every home or establishment that is etched with the place’s unique thera signature. Mech mages use this signature to program resonance into other thera chips for pairing. In a place of business, the keystone is usually near the front door and available to the public.

Mech: automatons that run on thera magic.

Mech mage: someone who specializes in etching resonance into thera chips.

Off grid: A house or establishment in the city (or beyond the city walls) that has no keystone. This could be because they are too poor to have one, they are squatters, or they deliberately refuse to have a keystone.

Resonance: an affinity etched into thera chips that connects one chip to another.
Thera: magic substance mined from the nacara mussel. Can be used to fuel mechs and to boost personal magical talents.
The society runs on a blend of tech and magic: mech. Mechs are automatons. They are mechanical, but powered by a small thera chip that needs to be ignited either by a thera lighter or someone with a magic ability.
Mechs may also have a second thera chip, a resonance chip. This is etched by mech mages to connect with a paired thera chip. This is called resonance. Multiple chips can be linked with the same resonance. Linked thera chips can be used for various mech options, such as:

Vox (a set of paired chips can communicate over long distances.)
Errand mechs. A mech delivery bot uses this resonance to find its destination. So every establishment in the city will have a keystone, or a unique resonance chip. This is like its coordinates that the mech mages use to program the resonance chips. One errand mech might be programed with dozens of coordinates. And when sending it out into the city, one must tell it which coordinates to go to.

Mail mechs. These are specialized delivery mechs for mail. They are programmed with hundreds of addresses for delivering mail. One mail mech usually does a specific area (ie: they wouldn’t be programmed with keystones for the whole city, but just a neighborhood).

Creating a resonance chip is very expensive. Most people can afford only the one keystone. The wealthier people with have errand mechs. The military has talkies. It is a mark of great extravagance for the wealthy to use vox because they can only be paired to a specific source. Personalized vox would be a great extravagance, perhaps something a wealthy merchant would give to a lover so they could communicate in secret. 
When the resurgence happened some 600 years ago, the world was full of tech. But when the magic blossomed and it took down cities. Monsters emerged from the rivers and forests and overran entire populations. Modern weapons did little to fight them. There were just too many. And magic interfered with electricity. It took down entire electrical grids. This meant no power, no water, no communications. People fled the cities and were eaten by the monsters in the countryside. Civilization was almost destroyed entirely. A few people survived, and barricaded themselves inside walled cities, to keep out the monsters. Without technology, people went back to basics: wind power, coal (if they could get it), wood burning stoves, candles, etc). So the society devolved to a sort of Victorian era, but with a modern sensibility.
Question: How do they grow food? Inside the walls of the city? Outside, protected by a wall? Outside protected by rangers?
After the resurgence, people who had a small affinity for magic found their power increased. People who never knew they had magic discovered odd abilities (knacks). These abilities grew over time and generations, partly due to thera ingestion (though they don’t know this). Some people learned they could shift into animal or monster shapes. Others could talk to the dead or stop time. Minor knacks could be the ability to untie complicated knots or pick up spilled liquids. These knacks became more specialized and started to determine a person’s occupation. For instance a baker might be good at making bread rise. Someone who never misses their mark would become a sharpshooter in the Rangers. Those with an affinity for metal become tinkers or mech mages.
Scribes are like living recorders. They are extremely expensive to train and equip so they are only used by the Regent’s Council and the higher echelons of the military. It will be a mark of wealth and standing to have a scribe. Scribes are considered above the law and sacrosanct in battle. They are not to be meddled with by penalty of death.
What scribes do: They record events in two ways. First they are trained to have near eidetic memories. So they watch events and can relate them in perfect detail at a later date. They are taken as children and trained from a very early age. They are almost fanatical in their devotion to the scribe way of life, and the Council of Regents by extension.
Second, they record their memories to special discs that only another scribe can decode. This way, if a scribe is killed on assignment, their memories won’t be lost.
An archivist in the palace keeps these discs and transcribes them for posterity.
How scribes work: They are a human-cyborg mix. Nanoparticles in their system act as mini computers. There is a port in the base of their skull that links to the data capture disc, which is a silicon based chip. When they are recording to the disc, they go into a sort of trance, so this only happens during their down time.
This isn’t new tech. It’s old tech, ancient tech in fact, from before the resurgence—as Rowan will find out when she tries to decode the scribe’s discs.
Question: Decide where Talos and Rowan’s mech arm fall in this spectrum of mech and magic. 

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