Secrets and Lies by Christine Amsden‏

Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.


Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents' betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn't letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them.

To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two teenagers missing from a summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness. Book 2 in the Cassie Scot series.

Characters Welcome

I'm a character girl, so for me the tagline of the USA Network has become something of a mantra. I was thinking about it the day I thought of Cassie, and I've been thinking about it ever since as I've tried to figure out what makes a great character.

For me, the real key to a character isn't in her strengths – it's in her weaknesses. And I'm talking about something more than the idea that readers get annoyed by perfect characters so you need to program in flaws. That's true, and yet those flaws need to mean something. They need to matter.

My favorite books involve character growth and change. I think part of the reason that I generally like series more than stand-alone books is that they give a character the opportunity to do just this. Oh, you can put some change into a single volume, but I find that if I truly love a character, I also love to spend time with him or her. The most memorable characters for me are the ones I spent at least three books with, and the ones who earned the need for at least three books through meaningful growth.

My favorite series at the moment is The Dresden Files. We're on book 13... 14... I've started to lose track a bit but I don't mind. He can write thirty books for all I care, as long as Harry keeps changing based on the things that happen to him.

I like the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning for much the same reason. After I finished this series I went back to the first and reread them, amazed by the “pink” version of the heroine who still didn't realize how much evil there was in the world who had seamlessly gone to black by the fifth book.

When it came to my own series, I wanted a reaction like that. I wanted Cassie to somehow be fundamentally different in the final book. To have learned something important. I started with a flaw – no magic in a family of sorcerers – and then built the story toward a final conclusion. My goal wasn't to have her find hidden magical powers, but to become okay with not having any. Strangely enough, as Cassie grew so did I. The final point I ended up making was not exactly the one I thought I would make when I got started.

Maybe that's part of the key to a great character too. I don't know, the answer is still a work in progress. I know one when I see one, and if the library system would let me have my way I'd dispense with the genre categories we have now. Give me a great character and I don't care if it's fantasy, mystery, literaray, or historical. Characters welcome!

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