Heroines rule here

A central female heroine is always the focus of my stories and novels. People ask and wonder about where are all the female heroes? Well, this is where they are. That is what I write about. All of my novels and almost all of my short stories focus on the heroine. It is true in my Familiar’s Tale series, all the future novels I am working on, my upcoming Bardess of Rhulon, a new series about a female dwarf bard fighting to be independent and becoming a savior of her world. This is key to my storytelling. I have heroes mixed in my tales too, but the heroine is the central theme. I If you are wondering where all the female heroes are, well they rise here. That’s what I write. That is what I will always do.

The Bardess Of Rhulon

Rose Greenleaf dreams of becoming a bard and seeing the world. Her mother sees Rose as a hopeless spinster at seventeen, with abysmal cooking and sewing skills. Rose unknowingly possesses a rare bard magic called the glam rhapsodé, the power to summon magic through music. Fleeing an arranged marriage, Rose makes her way to Tirangel and scrapes a living in a tavern until the Rhulonese Ambassador, Prince Culain Ironheart, hears her sing and employs her as his official Bardess...

Order your copy of The Bardess of Rhulon today!

View the book on Amazon.com

Tree of Bones

Runa and Mellypip’s newest journey reveals truths behind ancient secrets.

Two curses.

A curse of Darkness...

A curse of Light...

What she finds reveals a devastating truth.

Order your copy of Tree of Bones today!

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Gate of Souls

Immerse yourself in the world of Runa, Mellypip, Cathal, and Belwyn. The adventure has only just begun.

Book two, Tree of Bones continues the journey of Runa and Mellypip.

The release date for the final book in the trilogy, "Fires of Rapiveshta", will be coming soon.

View the books on Amazon.com

The Importance of Heroines

"There are many different types of strong women in fantasy, and what makes them strong is not just kickboxing or that they carry swords." - Verna McKinnon

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Verna's list of Heroic Women in Speculative Fiction

Character Development

"For me, the characters tend to evolve as I write, which brings a number of changes to the characters and story even as I go." - Verna McKinnon

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Verna McKinnon was born in Omaha, Nebraska. From an early age, she loved science fiction and fantasy--the only genres on television that allowed women to be more than an apron baking a pie. At the University of Nebraska at Omaha, she studied theater. She developed a passion for history, mythology, Shakespeare, and the literary classics, considering them health food for the mind. She graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. When she finally pursued her love of writing and storytelling, she chose fantasy and science fiction as her genre of choice. A published author of over thirty short stories published various webzines, print magazines and anthologies, including Aberrant Dreams, Mystic Signals, Scribal Tales Webzine, Descending Darkness, High Fantasy Online, Chaos Theory-Tales Askew, Aphelion Webzine, Gothic Revue, and Fantasy World Geographic, Bards & Sages Quarterly, and Forest of Dreams. Many of her previously published short stories are available on her website to read. Her fantasy novel, Gate of Souls, A Familiar’s Tale Book 1, is the first book in a trilogy that Sky Warrior Books will publish in her Familiar’s Tale fantasy series. Verna lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, author Rick Hipps, two spoiled cats named Bridget and Duncan, and too many books.


I grew up watching science fiction and fantasy shows like Star Trek and Twilight Zone. It shaped me in a great way. It opened my mind. That is a good thing. It allows knowledge to seep in. It enables creativity. Kids need to be creative. I basically had two sides as I was growing up. One as an awkward, quiet Catholic school girl in an ugly maroon plaid uniform (maroon does nothing for my skin tone) and the other as future geeky fantasy nerd girl who loved science fiction and fantasy in all forms. After college, I began pursuing my writing. I just did it. When I had an idea about a novel, my husband Rick (who worked at the university library) brought home a pile of reference books on the subject. At the time I was working on a Merlin/King Arthur idea. It was never published it, but I learned a lot. It helped me to find my voice. Thank heavens for computers, as I am a lousy typist.

I have always had a love of animals from earliest childhood. I would love to have a dog again, but due to my schedule we must do with have a lazy kitties who make the world a warmer place. Maybe that is why animals are such a strong presence in my Familiar’s Tale series. I love animals and no not trust people who don’t.

As I was learning my craft, I came to be grateful for all the donut and coffee shops I haunted with my piles of notebooks, pens, and reference material as I sat downing coffee and sugary or salty goodies as I composed my opus ideas. Writing is a demanding art. You cannot just wait for inspiration or wonder if you are qualified or will find a publisher. Just write! Dream and wonder about “what if” (thank you Ray Bradbury.). Write and write some more. Be inspired. Read-a lot! Do it. No one is going to help you but you. You must find your way and the people who will support you.


I admire so many authors, including Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard, Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, David and Leigh Eddings, J. K. Rowling, Maggie Furey, Lynn Flewelling, and many more. There are so many great writers in the genre. I am discovering more all the time.


I write novels and short stories for publication. I still drink too much coffee (it is the substance of life). I have my writing nook in my study with my favorite reference books, piles of notebooks, cork boards crammed with inspiration pics, post it notes, scribbles, and project lists as I sit in my faux leather chair and type new worlds into existence on my blue laptop. That’s what I do. It makes me happy.



This is a list of Verna's published books. She hopes you enjoy joining in the adventure!

Gate of Souls, A Familiar's Tale, Book One

Publisher: Sky Warrior Book Publishing, LLC; 2 edition

Publication Date: August 3, 2015

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Tree of Bones, A Familiar's Tale, Book Two

Publisher: Sky Warrior Book Publishing, LLC

Publication Date: September 1, 2017

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The Bardess of Rhulon

Publisher: Sky Warrior Book Publishing, LLC

Publication Date: November 15, 2018

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Published Works

Listed below are books and short stories by Verna McKinnon.

Some titles where you can read the story now are marked with Story Available!

A Bard's Blunder

Publisher: Bards and Sages Quarterly, July 2012 edition and is a print edition.

Black Petals Story Available

Publisher: Descending Darkness - Monthly Webzine, November 2005.

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The Bloodstone Queen Story Available

Publisher: Aberrant Dreams - Quarterly Webzine, October 2008.

Publisher: Descending Darkness - Monthly Webzine, July 2005.

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Dark Bride

Publisher: Descending Darkness - Quarterly Webzine, January 2006.

Dark Muse

Publisher: Gothic Revue - Monthly Webzine, September 2005.

Death's Exile Story Available

Publisher: Chaos Theory: Tales Askew - Biannual Webzine, July 2005.

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Desperate Barbarians Story Available

Publisher: Aberrant Dreams - Quarterly Webzine, November 2006.

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Dragon Toast Story Available

Publisher: Fantasy World Geographic - Quarterly Webzine, June 2005.

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Flint and Steele Story Available

Publisher: A Literary Journal of Science Fiction & Fantasy, October 2016.

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The Forest Paradox Story Available

Publisher: Mystic Signals magazine, August 2010.

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The Demon Fortress Story Available

Publisher: Also known as "Gate of Bones", Descending Darkness - Monthly Webzine, October 2005.

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Gate of Souls, A Familiar's Tale, Book One

Publisher: Sky Warrior Book Publishing, LLC; 2 edition

Publication Date: August 3, 2015

Buy it now »

Gospel of Shadows

Publisher: Descending Darkness - Monthly Webzine, December 2005.

The Raven Bride

Publisher: Scribal Tales Webzine - Monthly Webzine, July 2006.

Red Blades

Publisher: High Fantasy Online - Monthly Webzine, July 2005.

The Red Palace Story Available

Publisher: Descending Darkness - Monthly Webzine, September 2005.

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Snow White: My Story Story Available

Publisher: Mystic Signals, Issue 13, April 2012, Print Anthology only.

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The Soul Snare Story Available

Publisher: Bewildering Stories - Monthly Webzine, February 2006.

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The Stone Curse

Publisher: Aphelion Webzine - Monthly Webzine, November 2005.

The Trouble With Witches

Publisher: Aberrant Dreams - Quarterly Webzine, June 2008.

The Witch Bargain

Publisher: Scribal Tales Webzine - Monthly Webzine, January 2006.

Wizard's Apprentice

Publisher: Aberrant Dreams - Quarterly Webzine, October 2005.


Here's a peak at what Verna is working on right now!

Fires of Rapiveshta, A Familiar's Tale, Book Three

Publisher: Sky Warrior Book Publishing, LLC

Publication Date: To Be Announced

The Bardess of Rhulon

Summary: This brand new fantasy novel features a new heroine!

Publisher: Sky Warrior Book Publishing, LLC

Publication Date: To Be Announced


Recent News

New Story - Flint and Steele

Verna's recent short story, Flint and Steele, is published at The Aurora Wolf Literary Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Read it today through the below link!

Publisher: A Literary Journal of Science Fiction & Fantasy, October 2016.

Read it »

February 2015 - Radcon

Verna attended Radcon 2015, a science fiction and fantasy convention in Pasco, Washington. It took place on February 13th through 15th at the Red Lion Inn.


January 2015 - Rustycon

Verna attended Rustycon, the science fiction and fantasy convention, on January 16th through 18th, 2015. Rustycon was at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center.


Archive News

September 2014 - Familiar's Tale Trilogy and Sky Warrior Book Publishing

Verna is thrilled to announce that her Familiar's Tale Trilogy is being published by Sky Warrior Book Publishing! The release dates for the trilogy, "Gate of Souls", "Tree of Bones", and "Fires of Rapiveshta", will be coming soon.

Sky Warrior Book Publishing

February 2013 - Verna at Radcon 2013

Verna will be appearing at Radcon 2013 in Pasco, Washington February 15-17, 2013. This is a great science and fantasy convention at the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco and will be lots of fun. Verna was on some great panels at this conference!

January 2013 - Verna at Rustycon 2013

This science fiction and fantasy convention will be at the Seatac Marriott Hotel January 18-20, 2013. Author guests of honor will be Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert. Verna was on some awesome panels at this conference.It is one of the great conventions in the greater Seattle Area.

February 2012 - Verna at Radcon 6 from February 17-19, 2012

Verna was a guest at the science fiction/fantasy convention Radcon 6 in Pascoe, Washington February 17-19, 2012. She joined many other wonderful science fiction and fantasy greats like Patricia Briggs and Ben Bova along with her husband author, Rick Hipps.

August 2010 - Mystic Signals magazine

Mystic Signals magazine for August 2010 includes Verna's story titled "The Forest Paradox".

Mystic Signals describes Verna's story, "When a young witch is asked to investigate a dying forest she finds something impossible, that all of the life and magic is being drained from the area."

The Forest Paradox

April 2009 - Newspaper Article in The Concordian

Read about Verna and her writing in this April edition of The Concordian. Lou Fancher wrote the article titled "Local author relishes the success after struggles" (PDF format)

Concordian article

May 22nd through 25th, 2009 - Guest Panelist at BayCon 2009

Verna is a guest panelist at BayCon 2009 in Santa Clara, California. BayCon was held from May 22nd through 25th, 2009.

January 24th, 2009 - Book Signing At Borders Express

Fantasy fans received a special treat at Borders Express in Concord, California.

Verna visited the store to sign copies of her novel "Gate of Souls" on Saturday, January 24th, 2009.

November, 2008 - "Gate of Souls" available in paperback.

"Gate of Souls" is released in paperback at stores such as Barnes & Noble!

October, 2008 - Prequel Story to "Gate of Souls"

Verna was a guest panelist at SiliCon 2008 in San Jose, California. The panel "Creating Fantasy Worlds" included Verna McKinnon, Peter Beagle, Diana Paxson, and Christy Marx. The convention took place from October 3th through 5th, 2008.

October, 2007 - "Gate of Souls"

Gate of Souls, A Familiar's Tale, 1st Edition is released, and it is book number one of a three book series. Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of mages, Cathal and Runa, and their familiars.


Email: vernamckinnon.author (at) comcast.net

© 2017 Verna McKinnon, All Rights Reserved