Monthly Archives: March 2014

First Page Friday #26: Cozy Mystery

Apparently it’s reblog Friday around here! First Page Fridays are a great series over at Ellen Brock’s blog, where she offers editorial critique on a first page. Here’s where you come in: FPF (can I call it that?) needs more readers and more comments to help out the writers who are putting their work out there for critique. If you’re a reader or a writer, stop by and share your insights!

I assume normal rules of courtesy and constructive criticism apply. 🙂

Ellen Brock

Thanks for checking out First Page Friday! Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments!

If you like First Page Friday, please share it wherever you can! It takes a lot of time to put together the post each week and while I want FPF to succeed, with lower views than my other blog posts, I’m struggling to find the time to continue the series. Thanks to all my wonderful supporters! I truly appreciate it!

About First Page Friday

First Page Friday is a blog series where I provide a free edit and critique of the first 500 words of an unpublished novel. Read the excerpt without my notes first and leave your vote in the poll. Afterward, feel free to leave a comment for the author. Feedback is always helpful!

Cozy Mystery First 500 – HL Carpenter

It wasn’t the food.

Exactly one week after Jo Fernley’s death…

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Five Things You Can “Consciously Uncouple”

This is more entertaining than anything I could possibly post today.

Are You Finished Yet?

You have all probably heard about it by now. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin of Coldplay are “consciously uncoupling.” And the world just can not handle itself. Mind you, no one is wasting any good snark on the fact that the two are going their separate ways…because, duh, Hollywood. Rather, social media outlets are excited over the fact that the term “divorce” was apparently not authentic enough to describe the dissolution of Paltrow’s and Martin’s marriage.

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WIPpet Wednesday- Feline Photobomb Edition

I just wanted to take a picture of my new, autographed paperback copy of Evensong for you guys, because I was SUPER excited when it came in the mail this morning. Harriet said, “Nope. PHOTO ME AND LOVE ME AND PET ME.”

And then she purred, and I can’t argue with that. So here you go. Book and cat. Add a cup of tea and you’ve got a perfect afternoon.

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I apologize for the hugeness of the image. Apparently WordPress is no longer letting us edit photos down by percentage. Huh.

Note to self.

Aaaaaaanyway…

Let’s get this final ROW80 Update out of the way first, because I’m ending this round on a bit of a cliffhanger.

My editor started working on my book this morning. I have no idea what’s going to happen with that. Could be a wonderful experience, or it could leave me deciding that my leisure hours would be better spent playing Minecraft because writing is just wasting my time and my money. I’m expecting something in the middle, with lots of work to be done at the end but me still feeling like this is a thing I can do.

We’ll see. Right now I feel like I can handle pretty much anything.

In other news, I read Rayne Hall’s Writing Fight Scenes this week, and it was quite informative. I picked it up because I knew mine were lacking something, and I discovered lots of ways to punch things up. Lots of tips, lots of links to videos* demonstrating fighting styles and weapons, and it’s a quick read at a good price. Recommended.

Also still reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I’m FINALLY at the actual story, and am finally enjoying it. I have no problem with the author’s writing style– it’s gorgeous, and I think he’ll be one of few Fantasy authors who won’t make me want to throw the book across the room because I want to skip all of the descriptions (see: A Song of Ice and Fire and ALL THE FOODS). I mean, there are tons of descriptions, but at least they’re interesting. It just took forever to get past the framing. I know, I’m a terrible reader. Maybe “get to the action” has just been drilled into my head so often as a writer that I’m no longer willing to slog through chapters of Not Much Happening to get to the good stuff.

I hate feeling like I don’t have time to just enjoy a long, drawn-out story anymore, but that’s kind of where I am. My attention span is HEY LOOK, A MARMOSET.** That, and my TBR list is so huge that I find myself putting books down and moving on to something else if I’m not hooked right away.

New resolution to work on next round: try to get over that. Slow down, smell the marmosets roses, try to give books a chance.

WIPpet Wednesday

26 (short) sentences from Resurrection for the 26th. We’re heading for the climax here (and the reason I needed that book on fight scenes). Shivva (the vampire) is on the run, trying to solve a mystery of sorts, and trying not to hurt any innocent humans while she does so.

A bell tinkles as I enter the restaurant, a greasy little diner with plastic menus and  probably a filthy kitchen. The decor hasn’t been updated since the sixties. That, or it’s a convincing retro set-up. I don’t even care.

“Bad night to be out walking,” says the short guy leaning against the counter. He doesn’t seem to care that his boots are leaving a puddle on the chipped linoleum.

“Yeah.” I count out my buck seventy-five and accept the white paper cup of steaming heaven.  The coffee’s shit, of course, but it’s hot, and it helps.

“I’ve got an umbrella in my car, if you want it,” the guy says.

I shoot him an irritated glance. “No, thanks. I’m fine.”

“Not made of sugar, are you?”

“Excuse me?”

He shrugs. “You… you’re not worried about melting in the rain. So you must not be made of sugar.” I roll my eyes, and I feel him watching me as I turn to leave. “You sure look sweet, though.”

I flip him the bird without looking back.

Three blocks later, I’m in an industrial area, enjoying the quiet. A long, high-pitched whistle sounds behind me. I don’t stop, and I don’t turn back, even at the sound of several sets of footsteps splashing over the asphalt. Humans. Bring it on.

Oy. I’ve heard worse pick-up lines, but not by much.

So there you go. Thank you to everyone who volunteered to beta read and/or rip my work to shreds. I’ll try to have that out next week.

For more WIPpet Wednesday fun, swing by our host KL Schwengel’s blog to say hi, click on the link, and be transported to a world of… um… well, I don’t know. I have to go check that out myself.

*Useless on my PaperWhite, but good to have available for another time.

**That’s… actually kind of weird.

 


The Good News and The Bad News (call for beta readers)

The good news is that Resurrection is finished.

Pretty much.

The problem is that I don’t have a last line. It’s been so easy for other stories (much easier than first lines, certainly), but this one is giving me NOTHING. So I’m going to have to stew on that.

I’m going to try something different with this one and let people see it before it’s been in revisions for years. I know, crazy. But I know now that I can take criticism, and I’m thinking that it might actually be easier to take when I know there’s still work to be done. Fear not, dear betas. I’m not sending rough draft crap. This thing is in good shape, as far as I can tell, and I’ve enjoyed reading it over. It’s just that I know there’s work to be done.

I need to get this last line in, go over the last few chapters to get them out of “first draft” and into “revised draft” state, maybe improve some fight scenes, and get her out.

Annnnd I have to remember who volunteered to read it.

#ImSoOrganized  #MarthaStewartRightHere

*cough*

So anyone who’s not put off by a little blood, dead bodies*, and maybe a little undead sexytimes and fighting, who likes the WIP snippets I shared here and here and here… comment or drop me a line at kate.sparkes (at) live.ca. I’m just looking for impressions, thoughts, places you think it drags or could use more of something. It’s short (30,000 words), so there is room for more… whatever. I might throw this one up on Wattpad, too. We’ll see.

This one’s been a lot of fun to write. I’l be waiting anxiously to see whether it’s fun to read…

*Seriously, not for people with really weak stomachs, or who are going to hate me for killing children. I DIDN’T DO IT. It was the rogues.


Character Interview: Emergence

KL (Kathi) Schwengel, author of the Darkness and Light series, recently presented me with a most unusual proposition. An offer I couldn’t refuse, really. I mean, how many beta readers not only get to have characters from the book visit them, but get to be interviewed by them? I’m a little nervous about having Bolin over; I may have made some comments in my beta reading notes that weren’t exactly flattering. But hey, that should be fine, right? He has no idea. At least Donovan’s not coming, which is good. He’s quite a nasty bad guy. Oh, and Kathi promised to bring Berk, who’s a new character in Emergence who I kind of… well, he’s adorable. And I’ve admired Ciara since First of Her Kind, so–

*knock at the door*

Eek! Oh, and for anyone not familiar with the conventions, asterisks like those up there denote actions, everything else is speech.

*Kathi enters the room beside Ciara, followed by Bolin with Berk trailing behind. Kate welcomes them warmly, taking Berk by the arm and guiding him to a seat beside her on the settee. Kathi and Ciara claim chairs on the opposite side of the low coffee table. Bolin stands beside Ciara, one hand resting lightly on her shoulder, the other on his sword, finger tapping the pommel. His eyes narrow on Kate, and Berk shifts uncomfortably.*

Kathi: Hi Kate, I’m so glad you agreed to let us stop by. Thanks again for taking the time to Beta read Emergence. I really apprec–

Bolin: I read your comments.

*Kathi sighs. Kate opens her mouth to reply–*

Bolin: It seems you’ve lumped me into the same general category as Donovan. I’d be insulted if it weren’t so ludicrous. Is there something in particular I did to earn your ire?

Kate: *glares at Kathi* It’s not you. It’s me. I mean, it is you, but I… Some of your attitudes seem to… *eyes Bolin’s sword and shifts closer to Berk* You’re growing on me. Really.

Ciara: You have to understand, Bolin is under a lot of pressure. *glances Kathi’s way* It’s really not his fault.

Berk: *grins, flashing those adorable dimples, and leans closer to Kate* I read your comments, too.

Bolin: Did anyone ask for your input, soldier?

Kathi: Ease up, General. We’re all here to ask Kate about her experience Beta reading Emergence. This isn’t an episode of the Dating Game. *ignores Bolin’s scowl* So, Ciara, let’s start with you. What would you like to ask Kate?

Ciara: What would you say was the hardest thing about…*waves hand in the air* What’s it called? Bayduh reading?

Kate: *tears gaze away from Berk’s dimples* I think the hardest thing for me is always finding a balance between enjoying an amazing story and acting as a critic. In this case, there were times when I was able to find constructive things to say, but I held back a bit, knowing that a lot of the things I wasn’t comfortable with were just because my world tends to be a bit less dark than yours. I fall in love with these characters and then see them– you– go through horrible things, I get caught up in the story and still have to be critical of what’s working or not for me as a reader…

Actually, that’s a lie. The hardest thing is sending notes off and then living in fear of Kathi’s flying monkeys paying me a visit in the middle of the night. All that other stuff was second-hardest.

Anybody want another drink? It’s getting uncomfortable in here. I mean, warm.

Kathi: We don’t want to put you to any trouble, Kate. Berk, do you have a question you’d like to ask?

Berk: I’d love to. Was there anything that surprised you when you read our tale? Something–or someone–who caught you off-guard?

 Kate: Well, since you mention someone, I’d say that yes, I was caught off-guard several times. Without spoiling anything for readers, I wasn’t expecting Bolin to have any competition for Ciara’s affections.

Kathi: Crap! Kate, don’t–  * Ciara blushes. Bolin’s knuckles whiten around his sword grip.*

Kate: Especially such charming competition. *Berk tries his best not to look at anything, especially Bolin.* Usually in a situation like that, it’s fairly obvious that one guy is THE ONE TRUE LOVE and the other is a distraction. Not so, here. I actually had no idea how this was going to end. Ciara’s a lucky lady.

But not just that. I also wasn’t expecting to see the villain roster fill out so much, which was a very pleasant surprise. Instead of just continuing with one Big Bad Guy (and one terrifying hag), we got a whole lot of bad coming from a few different directions. Not much fun for all of you, I imagine, but it made for compelling reading.

Kathi: Well, Kate, I think we’ve taken up quite a bit of your time. *glances Bolin’s way* Um, before we go, are there any questions you have for me, or any of the others?

Bolin: I don’t get to ask her a question?

Kathi: I believe you already did. It’s Kate’s turn.

 Kate: I’m actually curious about Bolin’s question… unless “ask her a question” is a euphemism for “stab her repeatedly,” in which case we’ll just move along.

Bolin: I would never raise my hand to a lady. Nor would I stab you repeatedly. One clean thrust is all that’s needed.

Ciara: Bolin!

Kate: Um. Yeah. Oh, so many questions! I don’t want to spoil anything for future readers, though. I guess my question for Berk would be “do you want to hang out here for a while,” but I’m expecting my own characters back soon, and that could get weird.

Male voice from another room: It’s only weird if you let it be weird!

Kate: Oops…

Berk: I’m not sure what ‘hanging out’ is, but I wouldn’t mind–

Kathi: Probably not a good idea, Berk. We don’t want to start any inter-novel squabbles or anything.

Kate: *sigh* Well, this has been fun, and I’ve enjoyed meeting all of you. You know, I think I’m actually going to let my questions rest for now, wait and see what happens as the story continues. Also, I think any question I ask is only going to piss Bolin off more, so… actually, one question for Bolin. Can we call a truce here? I know we’ve had our differences, but I do respect you as a character, even if you occasionally rub me the wrong way. *winces* Can I say that and not have you hurt me?

Bolin: *tips head politely* It has been a pleasure, lady. I look forward to our next visit. *offers Ciara a hand*

Ciara: Fare well, Kate. I hope we meet again. And good luck with your adventures. I’ve heard they’re very exciting.

*Bolin holds door for Ciara and Kathi, glances Berk’s way.*

Berk: I am, technically, off duty. Are you sure I couldn’t stay for–

*Bolin raises a brow, Berk frowns and leaves the room.*

Kathi: Thanks for putting up with us, Kate. And huge thanks for being such an awesome Beta reader. Now, shouldn’t you be writing or editing or something?

Kate: Yeah, yeah.

Male voice from another room: Make it “or something!”

Kate: *yells* You have no idea what you’re in for when I get back to writing, mister! *to Kathi* Merfolk, am I right? Wow, thanks for bringing your people by. I must be the luckiest  beta reader ever!

Kathi: *pauses at door, glances toward the other room, bites her lip.* Um…tell you what, why don’t you all go on without me. I think I’ll stay and visit with Kate for a while. See you back in the dungeon! *waves and quickly closes door* Now, who’s all in the other room?

Annnnnnd… scene.

If you enjoyed this and would like to get to know these characters better, check out First of Her Kind and Emergence, available in ALL THE PLACES! Click here for links.

Thanks to Kathi for bringing her characters by, and for leaving the monkeys at home. It was fun! Weird, but fun. 😉

coverreveal


WIPpet Wednesday: Gempunk Edition

Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge this week is to come up with a “something-punk” subgenre and write a story in it. Not steampunk, not cyberpunk. Something different. It just so happens that I’ve had the beginnings of a story banging around in my head since the summer that fits nicely into that idea. This seemed like a perfect excuse to at least get this character out and let her strut her stuff a little and explore the idea of gempunk.

So in lieu of my regular WIPpet thingermahoojie, I’m using the WW rule that states we can start a new project, and posting a scene here.

Two birds with one stone and all of that. *pelts a robin and a bluejay with a flying chunk of sapphire*

I’m posting that here, just because it’s going to take up a bit more space than I usually use on WIPpet Wednesday. CLICK, CLICK!

This is very rough– I only started last night. It’s a scene, though. More than the 1000 words we were assigned, so anyone who’s here from the WendigBlog, you can stop at 1000 words. Oh, and yes, the guy’s name is Surely Morebrand. I don’t know where that came from, but I’m not going to argue with Cat on this one. She’s already being difficult.

The good news is that after months of this idea fluttering about and distracting me, I actually have a plot idea rather than the concept-and-characters-but-no-plot I usually get stuck with. So this could actually be a thing some day. Maybe. Or maybe I’m crazy for liking this one.

For more (shorter) WIPpety goodness, click on over here. Say hello to KL Schwengel, click on the linkie, and be transported to a world of unfinished masterpieces.

ROW80

I have a cover design finalized. It feels good. I’m still freaking out, because it’s so different from what I expected, but I love it. Going from “no characters” to “hey, that’s totally what Rowan looks like!” in a week was a bit overwhelming, but I’m really happy with it. Thank you to everyone who helped with ideas, opinions, etc.! No reveal plans as of yet (waiting for something within a month of release, at least), but holler if you’re interested in hosting.

Still waiting on my editor. He said end of the month. We’re good.

Um… well, I wrote that thing up there, which was really fun. It’ll go in the “to be continued” file for now.

My Scrivener online course is going well, even if I’m about 4 classes behind. I’m learning SO MUCH STUFF! Best program ever, really.

*twiddles thumbs*

Guess I’ll go edit, now.

Stop by tomorrow (I think?) for a SUPER AWESOME SURPRISE INTERVIEW that was really fun and also awkward for me.

And for more info on ROW80 (almost time for round 2!), head on over here. JOIN US.


Loki, You Got Some ‘Splainin to Do!

I told Loki he could come to St. John’s with us this weekend- I was hoping for some epic (and adorable) photo ops.

And then I forgot to pack him.

It seems he was displeased.

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