One Stop for Writers: an Online Library Unlike Any Other

Hey, guys! Some of you have probably heard me talk about the Emotion Thesaurus before, about what a valuable tool it is and how I wish I could have the whole set of books in paperback for easy reference. Well today, I have something interesting for you: a post from Angela and Becca, the authors of those books. They have an exciting new project in the works that I can’t wait to check out.

Take it away, folks!

Every once in a while, something comes along that changes things for the better.

And in the world of writers, this is especially welcoming, because we all know just how much sweat, courage and persistence it takes to write a book and then release it into the world.

Today I’m pointing you toward a new website which I hope will help writers brainstorm stronger characters, craft deeper, more compelling plots, and teach us how to be more effective with our description so we draw readers in.

One Stop For Writers is a collaboration between Becca Puglisi and Angela

Ackerman, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, and Lee Powell, creator of Scrivener for Windows. This powerhouse online library is filled with one-of-a-kind descriptive thesaurus collections, tools, tutorials and much more, all geared to provide the resources you need to strengthen your prose and write more efficiently.

Want to check One Stop For Writers out?

Hop on over to Writers Helping Writers for their Launch Week festivities (October 7-14th)! If you know Angela, Lee and Becca already, you probably can guess there will be some great prizes, and probably a bit of paying-it-forward too.

Check This Out: Torn

Kate Sparkes:

Hey, everyone! Check out this post: L. Marie from ElSpace interviewed me about my writing process (and a few other things). Check out the post and the rest of her site!

Originally posted on El Space--The Blog of L. Marie:

If you follow Disregard the Prologue, then you’re already aware of the clever and cool Kate Sparkes and her fantasy trilogy named after the first book, Bound. She’s here today to talk about Torn, book 2 of the series. Ready? Let’s rock and roll!

Kate author photo 4  torn_full

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Kate: Hmm. . . . Okay. One: We bought our first house this summer, and I finally have my own office space. It’s just as amazing as I imagined it would be, but I will be forever grateful for the fact that I had to write my first books in a stinky basement.
Two: I’m not a dog person, and I’m really not a small dog person, but I have a chihuahua snuggled on my lap right now, and it is most excellent.

Kate Dog

Bruno, Kate’s dog

Three: I just took up running, and can’t believe how much I’m enjoying…

View original 1,280 more words

Tis the Season to be Drafting (Giveaway!)

Aaah, autumn. Season of back-to-school, sweater weather, pumpkin spice everything, gorgeous foliage, Halloween…

And of course, NaNoWriMo.

We’ve talked before here about what National Novel Writing Month means to me, so we won’t go into it much here. Long story short, Bound was my first NaNo project (started in 2010, revised and completed over several years following that), and without the push to get words out, I doubt I ever would have finished drafting a book.

Now I have a best-selling YA Fantasy trilogy almost finished, plus a few other books drafted or in the works.

(Don’t let anyone tell you all quickly-drafted books are crap. Do you know what they are, though? FINISHED, and that’s half the battle.)

The point is, I owe a lot to the event that sees hundreds of thousands of brand-new and experienced authors pushing themselves to pop out a brand new novel (or at least the first 50K words of one) every November. Even when writing is your job and 1,667 words a day would be exceedingly slow for drafting, there’s nothing like the energy you find in the NaNo forums, the thrill of adding another win to the list, the fun of pep talks, or the excitement of having a good reason to start something new.

This year is going to be a challenge. I’m not technically supposed to be drafting anything new, as I’m going to be extremely busy this November getting Sworn and At Any Cost (Bound prequel novella) ready for publication. I’m going to try, though. I’ll be doing it the old-fashioned way, squeezing words in around my other work, starting a brand new project in an all-new world, and writing my ass off when those two projects go to beta readers.

Totally not intimidating. O.o

Now, my question is this: Who’s joining me?

I have a few items I’d like to give as a gift to someone who’s participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Just a couple of little things to help the journey along.


  • A notebook for ideas.
  • A pen (because… writing).
  • Sticky notes for planning out scenes or plot twists.
  • Smarties, because you need energy and they are delicious.
  • “Climax mixture” candy to celebrate getting the the high point of your plot.
  • And a set of word-tracking stickers for your planner or wall calendar from Miscellany Boulevard to keep track of your wonderful, inspired, delicious progress.

(Please note: this giveaway is not approved of by, sponsored, endorsed, cared about, or remotely acknowledged by NaNoWriMo in any of its forms or entities. This is just me wanting to offer something fun for a fellow participant).

To enter, leave a comment here letting me know what kind of project you’ve got planned for this November (genre, whether this is something new or whether you’re a bit of a rebel, and whether this is your first NaNo rodeo). I’ll select a random winner on Monday (October 5, 2015) and respond to their comment here (and notify by email if possible).

Good luck!

Bound A-Z: U is for Ulric

“You know, your father was a hard, cold man, but there were a few years when he wasn’t so.”

“Because of my mother?” My heart skipped, though I couldn’t say why. Anything I thought or felt about that part of my past had been long since walled away. It didn’t matter anymore.

“Hmm.” Xaven turned his attention back to me. He seemed troubled. “You know about their situation?”

“Little enough, I suppose. Were you there when she lived in Luid?”

“No, I never met her. I heard things later, some from your father. He cared for her quite a lot.”

“If he cared for her at all, he wouldn’t have killed her, would he?”

Aren does have a point, doesn’t he?

Stories and characters are such strange things. In both, there’s a lot going on beyond and beneath what we see on the page. There’s the history of events that came before the story. Important things, but perhaps not relevant enough to warrant taking up space in the book. There’s everything happening off-page to characters who aren’t featured in a scene, whether that be what the villain is up to while the heroes are dealing with something else, or minor characters who may only have a small part to play in the plot, but who have full stories of their own.

And then there are the people and events who shaped the characters.

Or their parents.

Ulric (King Ulric, technically, at least for the moment) is Aren’s father. I thought I knew everything I needed to about him. Hard, occasionally cruel, especially when it suits his goals. Driven, and never one to let sentimentality get the best of him.

But there’s always more to the story, isn’t there?

You might think you know a character, and then you get the bright idea to do a prequel. You meet a character as he was almost 30 years ago, before the greatest tragedy of his life. You learn that he has reasons for being the way he is that go way beyond “he’s a dick” or “good king, bad father.”

You learn the depth of his regret and fear, how he hates himself for the weakness that once brought him a few years of joy.

And you realize that this stiff, cold guy was actually super hot at one time.

*cue discomfort in the author*

It was a story that needed to be told, but Uric’s not the kind of man to be able to put his feelings into words, or to want to open up old wounds just for the sake of gaining sympathy. The story of his romance with Magdalena wasn’t one he was going to tell us properly.

We needed to hear it from her.

And so you shall.

I’ve mentioned this project a few times, but we’ll call this the official announcement:

At Any Cost, the project I’ve been working on while Sworn is away for edits, is the story of Aren’s parents. How they met, how they fell in love, the challenges they faced so they could be together.

It’s a romance, of course. And though it ends before the worst times, it’s a tragedy. When you’re writing a prequel there’s not much you can do to change the future.

Here’s the cover copy I’m working on:

“How can a woman with no magic enchant a Sorcerer?”

Maggie Albion grew up in the shadow of great people. Sorcerers from across Belleisle came to her father’s school for training, and she watched them blossom while she remained as she was born: ordinary and unexceptional. Now she loses herself in history books, dreaming of being one of the great people. The ones who change history.

It seems that Maggie’s dreams of greatness are not destined to come true–at least, not until a chance meeting with a soldier from an enemy nation changes the course of her life. Though she knows he’s the last man in the world she should want, the powerful connection between them feels more like fate than a decision she’s free to make.

Even with her heart bound up tight, Maggie still has a choice: a life of safety and peace, or a chance to follow her heart and change the world.

Sound interesting? I have good news. As part of the lead-up to the release of Sworn (Bound Trilogy Book Three), this novella will be available FREE for newsletter subscribers. It’s my way of thanking everyone who has supported this story and my work over the past year and a half.

Click here to be connected before what should be a December release on this one. You’ll also get a free download of The Binding (the first prequel short story), plus more bonus content in the future.

(author’s note: this prequel can be read at any point in the series, but my preferred reading order places it between Torn and Sworn. What lovely timing!)

AAC cover test 3

Bound A-Z: T is for Tiernal

Who’s up for some history?


Oh, come on. It’ll be fun.

Okay, you in the back. You’re excused. But for anyone who’d like a little more information on Aren’s family history and maybe a hint about a project I’ve got in its earliest stages, you’re in the right place. Please forgive me if my dates end up being a little off. Or way off. It’s not easy to get this information around here, and my characters are just rolling their eyes at me when I pry. I reserve the right to revise dates and facts before future publications.

We good? Good.

Aren, stop smirking.

Hundreds of years before the Bound trilogy starts, the last line of kings fell. If you want to know a little about how that happened, check out the “D is for Dragons” post from a few months back. A decade of chaos followed, with several Sorcerers aiming to take control of the country. That’s a story all on its own, but not one I have plans to tell.

The ultimate victor in that struggle was Galyg Tiernal. I wish I could say he was a good man or a good king, but he was neither. He held onto power, save for a brief period around years 86-89, but Tyrea fractured into the lands that had been brought together under the old dynasty: Tyrea (south and central, containing the new city of Luid), Artisland (east), Cressia (north), Tauren (west), and a smattering of smaller areas that were generally absorbed into the larger ones. It was a time of war, of poverty for many, and darkness. Magic was a cruder thing then, used mainly for survival. It was more spread out through the population than it is now, but generally weaker in humans.

It was Galyg who focused on the practice of choosing his wives and companions based on their potential to produce heirs with strong magic rather than marrying for reasons of political strategy. He decided that with enough magic in his line, he would take the other lands back by force rather than treaty. He was ruthless about destroying those who opposed him–and if those enemies had magic of their own, he killed their families, as well.

Not one to take chances over potential competition was Galyg.

He had many children, and his plan to produce children with strong magic worked. In the year 102 (his reign started the calendar over), a daughter was born. People overlooked her for many years, as it was well known by then that males tended to carry stronger magic. But over the years, Avalyn proved herself. She laid low, keeping out of her more powerful and ambitious siblings’ sight. She witnessed the fall of the rival nation of Ferfelle in the year 127, and played a part in it. This was her first step toward taking the throne after the death of her father and brief (and eventually painful) reign of her eldest brother.

But that really is a story for another time. A story with murder and betrayal and love and more murder and treachery and power and sex and magic and did I mention revenge? and… we’ll get to it. Some day. If I can work out some huge problems. Avalyn went through some rough spots that might throw a wrench into actually writing her story, but here’s some of what I know:

Avalyn, the first queen of Tyrea in her line, took the throne in the year 141. For those counting, that made her 39 years old–terribly young for a Sorceress to have that sort of a role. Her reign was not an easy one, and her hold on power was never secure. She had many husbands and several children. The strongest of her sons was Ulric, who most of you have heard of (and who we’ll discuss another day). Her reign ended in the year 255, when she stepped down from the throne.

The rest is familiar history, at least in part. Ulric ruled from 255 and finished the work his mother started in bringing the nation back together and fixing what was screwed up so long before his birth. He disappeared around the year 375 and his son Severn took the throne. As of right now (writing between Torn and Sworn), we’ve nearly reached the point where Ulric will be declared dead and forfeit his right to the throne, even if he returns.

So what does the future hold? That remains to be seen. Thus far the Tiernal line ends with Severn, Wardrel, Dan, Aren, and Nox, and there’s always the possibility of someone more powerful swooping in to challenge whoever holds the throne.


WIPpet Wednesday: New Beginning

Hello again! It’s time for WIPpet Wednesday, the day when adventurous authors from many a genre share a snippet form a work in progress that relates in some day to today’s date.

Today I’ll be sharing again from my not-yet-being-ripped-apart-by-my-editor WIP, a prequel novella to the Bound trilogy. Today I’m going to keep it simple in context, if not in math: 15 sentences (9+1+6 for 9/16, minus one for clarity) from the beginning of chapter one.

A perfect party, Maggie thought as she retreated toward the food. If only I deserved it.

A lavish spread of desserts covered the table so that not even a hint of the rich mahogany surface beneath showed between plates of tiny cakes, fresh fruit, spun sugar candies stacked into a glittering castle, and wine that flowed as though from an unending spring. Music filled the air, the notes laughing their way through the crowd of students and guests, mixing with hushed conversations and the soft rustle of dresses on the dance floor.

Maggie reached for a glass of wine—her sixth of the evening—and let her focus soften as she watched the party go by. Her father, headmaster of the finest school to ever teach young Sorcerers and Sorceresses, had spared no expense for his only daughter’s twenty-second birthday celebration. The dining hall had been transformed. Literally, in some respects, thanks to one talented young Sorcerer’s gift with illusion, and another’s skills with light. The lamps on the walls, filled for the night with rare dragon oil, burned brighter than Maggie had ever seen them, casting an ethereal glow over every face, every gown.

A birthday party fit for a queen, or perhaps a Sorceress. Maggie brushed a hand over the skirts of her dress, smoothing the deep red folds, and wondered whether that made her an imposter for playing along with it, or merely a fool. She was no queen, and never would be. The island nation of Belleisle didn’t even offer the position. And she certainly was no Sorceress. Though she’d lived her life surrounded by magic, she’d never felt the faintest hint of it in herself.

And then nothing else interesting ever happened to her, the end.


Not quite.

Want to get in on the WIPpet Wednesday fun? Post your date-related snippet on your own blog, link back to the fun-filled link here, be sure to stop by and comment on the other WIPpeteers’ posts, and… actually, that’s about it.

Big thanks to KL Schwengel who is a fine author and a kick-ass beta reader. Literally. She will kick your ass. It hurts, but it makes you stronger.

Writing Regrets: The Fear of Failure

I don’t do a lot of advice posts here. I don’t feel qualified. I’m happy to answer questions in private and chat about writing until you want to duct-tape my mouth shut, but for the most part I keep posts to talking about my work, releases, and whatever else is going on in my life.

Today, I’m going to make an exception.

We’re not going to talk about how to write, how to outline, how to create characters, or how to find an editor. Today is just going to be me sharing one big regret from my life as a writer in the hopes I can encourage someone else to not make the same mistake. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I think it might help someone out there, so here goes.


I wish I’d had the courage to write shitty books.

Does that sound strange? Let me explain.

I’m a perfectionist*. As we’ve discussed before, this doesn’t mean I’m a type-A personality who’s driven to do my best at everything. That wouldn’t be so bad. No, my perfectionism means that I expect myself to be good at everything from the get-go, without practice. Know what that leads to?

A whole lot of quitting. I’ve been like this since I was a little kid. I quit ballet, figure skating, t-ball, and guitar lessons. I wasn’t good at them right away, I had no concept of how to enjoy the experience of being challenged, I didn’t like feeling like a failure, so I gave up.

This is a horrible way to think. It’s stagnant. It relies on natural talent and coasting, and it rejects things like critique and learning from mistakes because it doesn’t want to believe anything needs to improve. Failure is terrifying, and to be avoided at all costs. Failure means you’re NOT GOOD ENOUGH, and to try means to risk finding out you’re an imposter.


I’m not proud of it, but it’s the mindset I seem to have been born with, and one I’m still learning to fight.

So that brings us to writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing, ever since I penned fanfic-ish (okay, direct rip-off) versions of my favourite stories in first grade. It was fun. I had a great imagination.

But I wanted everything to be perfect on the first draft. If I needed to work at it, that meant it wasn’t good enough, and therefore I shouldn’t bother. Criticism and suggestions for improvement made me defensive, and instead of trying to improve my work, I trashed it. Oh, and I expected my work as a first-grader to be as good as a published adult author’s.


Fast-forward to my twenties. I wanted to get back into writing. I started with short stories that I showed to very few people because I suspected they’d tell me they weren’t as good as they could be, and my ego couldn’t handle that. I believed that I had natural talent. That’s fine. Faith in oneself is essential. But I wanted that to be enough. I expected the first book I wrote to be a masterpiece, ready to have publishers swooning all over it, ready to catapult me to fame and fortune.

And I thought anything else was a waste of time.

So in between battles with depression, exhaustion from my day job, and later dealing with more depression (and babies/toddlers/small children), I started a few books.

I never finished them.

Why? Two reasons. First, they started to look like they wouldn’t be great, so I gave up. Second, I had this weird belief that I was somehow wasting ideas if I wrote them before I was good enough for them.

As though I couldn’t scrap them and re-write.

As though I couldn’t revise.

As though writing a not-quite-there-yet book and putting it under my bed to collect dust was shameful, because I wasn’t good enough.

I hated the thought of spending years working on something that wouldn’t be the Best Thing Ever. It seemed like a waste of time. I saw no reward in effort, in climbing a learning curve that exists for everyone but that I thought I should be somehow above.

Feel free to laugh. Really. I wish I could, but all I can do is wish for a time machine so I could slap some sense into to that younger me.

This is probably the worst attitude one can bring to writing: That we are above average, gifted, superior, and above criticism. It’s shooting yourself in the foot before you begin the race, then insisting you don’t need assistance. It’s a sure way to make sure you never make progress in anything.

The funny thing is, writing books that would never have seen the light of day would have been the opposite of a waste of time. Yes, it might have felt that way back then. We all want to believe that every bright, shiny idea that passes through our brains is a gift from the muses, that we are special snowflakes who will just drift to brilliance and fame because we deserve it.

But the fact is that you have to work for it. Years of writing (and finishing) bad books would have helped me write good books sooner. Maybe having a few full novels shoved under my bed would have prepared me to get Bound ready for publication in less than the 3.5 years of revisions it needed. Maybe I’d be cranking books out faster now because I’d know more about my process and how to make things work.

I wasted so much time giving up because first drafts weren’t perfect and because (surprise, surprise) writing is FRIGGING HARD. Yeah. It really is, and not all effort is rewarded equally–or financially. But if you push through, if you finish a bad book or two, you will learn so much more about the craft and about yourself as a storyteller than years of stalling and waiting can ever teach you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I do not wish I had published a few bad books. I’m actually glad self-publishing wasn’t so promising and cheap back when I was first thinking about writing, because I know the temptation would have been there to publish books that weren’t remotely ready. Back then I was scared to let people see my work, but probably would have published anyway on the strength of my arrogance, and the reviews would have killed me. I don’t think throwing everything we write out there, letting the chips fall where they may, and revising stuff later is a good career strategy or respectful to readers (I know, some disagree with me). There are enough bad books out there, and I’m glad I was forced to wait until I had something of good quality to offer.

But I wish I had those bad books stashed in a drawer. I’m sure I’d be completely embarrassed by them, but I like to think that I’d also be thankful to past me for putting the work in, learning to fail, and letting go of perfection for long enough to actually move toward improvement.

So here’s your advice, friends. If you want to write, WRITE. Don’t wait for your abilities to magically develop to match the potential of this glorious story idea you have (trust me, you’ll have a better one soon enough, and you can always re-write it later). Put in the work writing complete and utter shit. Don’t feel like you ever have to publish it, but finish it and be open to having it critiqued. Be willing to accept the idea that you’re not a gifted genius, and that maybe you have a lot to learn. You can learn. You will learn. But hiding behind “I’m not going to bother if it’s not going to be perfect” will never get you there. Don’t write shit on purpose. Bring your A-game. Just don’t be scared of it not being amazing on the first try.

And then move on the the next thing. I’ve found that finishing each book has caused bigger shifts in my abilities as a writer than anything else, as each new book allows me to apply what I’m learning to a fresh story. I wish I’d finished more, sooner. But you can’t change the past, so what I’m doing now is trying to be open to trying new things, challenging myself, and maybe screwing up along the way.

Happy writing, friends.

*Cool footnote: After I drafted this post last week, I started reading a book called Mindset (Carol Dweck, Ph.D.). Guys, it is talking about me. The fixed mindset is everything I’ve been blabbing about and fighting against for the past few years. I’ll let you guys know how the book is once I’ve finished, but I’m pretty excited. And freaked out. Has she been stalking me? O.o

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