WIPpet Wednesday, Backstory Edition

WIPpet, WIPpet Wednesday, it’s the greatest day in his-tor-REEEEE…

Or at least in the week, because I get to hang out with amazing people and read their STUFF. Yeeeeeeeaaaaaah.

My offering today is something a little different. Sometimes I need to fill in a character’s back-story in my own mind, so I’ll write a little flash fiction piece or two, just to flesh things out for myself. It’s nothing that will ever make it into the book, but it’s part of the story, nonetheless.

Could make for interesting bonus materials some day, no?

In any case, here’s the first (3+12-2-0+1+4=) 18 paragraphs from a young lady named Nox who’s rather near and dear to my heart these days. Things haven’t been going so well for her since… well, since she was quite young, as she discussed many Wednesdays ago.

Sorry for the lengthiness… I’ll try for nineteen words next time.

A gust of wind followed me into the house, scattering a thin layer of snow over the bare floor. I forced the door closed behind me, careful to not let the latch click too loudly, and set my old black bag gently on the table. I tried not to let the glass bottles rattle about as I put my potions and medicines away, but couldn’t help the creaking of the floor.

My concern was for nothing. In spite of the late hour, the bed was empty when I looked into the back room.

I sighed, as much from relief as from frustration at my husband’s continued wanderings. Let him take it out on someone else tonight. Tending to the ill always exhausted me, and mid-winter had brought with it a vicious sickness that had swept through the population of every village in our province. Though my presence had saved more people in our town than had survived in others, I still felt guilt over every death. Tonight’s had been no exception.

I set the kettle on the stove to boil. I’d need something to help me sleep, however temporary it might be.

The little girl who died was hardly more than a baby. Dirty and thin, I suspected that she wasn’t well looked-after at the best of times. Still, her parents had cared enough to call me. Too late, as it turned out, but a Potioner’s services don’t come cheap, and people in Cressia are too proud to take charity. Even after the child passed on, the parents insisted on sending me away with a bag of potatoes and onions.

Not a payment my husband would appreciate, but it was more than they could afford.

I hung my threadbare coat on the hook next to the door and poured steaming water over elinberry roots and dried berries, then added a splash from the flask I kept hidden under the sink. Warmth spread through my body as I sipped, and the tension flowed out of my muscles as I sank into bed. I didn’t bother undressing. Someone would be banging at the door soon enough, needing me.

The door slammed open, then shut. I lay with my eyes closed, listening to him muttering as he stumbled about the house, his ox-strong body banging into furniture as he went. Something shattered, almost certainly the bottle of bitterleaf I’d just distilled that morning. It would take me a week to do it again, and I was running low.


I rolled over and pulled my knees up to my chest, making myself small.

He eventually staggered into the bedroom and made his way to the washbasin to splash water on his face. The straw mattress shifted under his weight as he sat to remove his boots, and he exhaled the stench of ale over me as he leaned over to study my face. I shifted slightly, as I thought I might if I were asleep. He sighed, and finished undressing.

He rolled toward me, pressing his body against my back. “Why’re you dressed?” he mumbled, as he tugged at the buttons on my shirt.

“Just got home. Need sleep.”

He abandoned the buttons and reached for the hem of my skirt. “You get paid?”

“Enough.” I pushed his hand away and pulled the skirt tight around my legs. “I’ll probably have to go out again soon.”

“Good thing this won’t take long, then.”

“I mean it, Harold. Stop.” Tight as I gripped the fabric, his hands were stronger than mine. He pried my fingers open and rolled on top of me. “Harold, no.”

He laughed and bit my ear. “Who the hell you think you are, missus?”


He’s a keeper, that one. -_-

I kind of want to share the rest, what with my girl being a giant badass with questionable morals and all, but you know. Spoilers.


As always, thanks to K.L. Schwengel for hosting WIPpet Wednesday! Swing on by (and witness Driev being amazing, as per usual), click the linkie, and see what everyone else has to share today. You just never know what you’ll find.

ROW80 Update

My editor is still behind schedule thanks to illness (where’s a Potioner when you need one, AMIRITE?), and won’t be able to work on my stuff until the end of the month. This may or may not throw my entire schedule out of whack, depending on how much I need to do once he’s finished with it. It is, however, a self-imposed schedule, so there’s still some flexibility there. Whew.

The good news is that my cover designer is totally NOT behind schedule, and is working with me now. She’s fantastic, and (thank goodness) patient. The design she’s working on wasn’t what I initially pictured, but faced with a choice between what would be OMG PERFECT in my mind* and what will actually sell to my target audience… well, I had to make the best business decision. It’s going to be fantastic when it’s done. I’ll keep you posted.

So that’s the business update. As far as writing goes, I’m working on getting book 2 read through and plotted out on index cards. There are issues, but so far I at least have ideas of how to fix them. There’s a romance subplot that’s going to be SUPER DUPER AMAZING when I get it filled out more. Because, y’know. I enjoy that stuff.

Annnnd… that’s about it.

So what have you been up to?

*Not that I had a single clear idea to offer her. This is why I’m so thankful for her patience.


About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with six cats, two dogs, and just the right amount of humans. USA Today bestselling author of the Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy), Into Elurien, and Vines and Vices. Writing dark, decadent, and deadly Urban Fantasy as Tanith Frost. www.katesparkes.com www.tanithfrost.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

23 responses to “WIPpet Wednesday, Backstory Edition

  • Eden

    Ugh, definite a keeper… as in keep him away from me.

    Wonderfully details scene though. Loving her character, and despite hating the creep, liking the way you wrote his. A decent sense of the community here as well.

    Sorry to hear about the delay on editing, though it’s at least a self-imposed deadline you’re working against. Could be worse… Awesome news on cover plans.

  • Alana Terry

    ooo, he is a keeper. Wow, what a charm! Your girl is lucky. 😉

  • AmyBeth Inverness

    Tis the curse of not just self-publishing, but any endeavor we undertake ourselves. People get sick. It happens. I’m just coming off a few weeks of ickyness, but now I have a huge pile of work to make up.

    This is why I have to keep reminding myself NOT to overload. Just because I can handle a certain workload one week does not mean I can maintain it the next week. And then there’s the times I get sick… facing a mountain of work is not conducive to healing.

  • Karin

    Love your style and characters are well-written! Awesome! 🙂

  • Elaine Jeremiah

    Great excerpt Kate. You set the scene so well and the characterisation is really vivid. Harold being a keeper… hmm. I think your character can keep him thank you very much! 🙂

  • Amy

    I want to throat-punch him. He’s such a winner. Despite that, this is a great excerpt. The part about the little one dying…oh, that hurts my heart. Nicely done, though.

  • Denise D. Young

    I enjoyed your snippet. It gives us a glimpse into the character’s mind and world, but there’s some dark tension in it that keeps things moving. And yeah, her husband sounds like a real winner. You’ve got me worried for your character, but I’m thinking perhaps this girl can take care of herself.

  • Raewyn Hewitt

    What a great background scene. I can really feel the weight she’s carrying here – and for home to be like that. I hope he’s going to come to a very nasty end.

  • Ruth Nestvold

    Wow, what a creep! Well portrayed — and in that sense a keeper and nothing more. 🙂

    But seriously, really good scene, Kate, scary and effective.

  • kathils

    Sorry, I’m a little late to the party. I had to spend some time calming down one of my characters who got a bit…out of sorts at a recent interview. *glares Kate’s way*

    But, awesome WIPpet. I’m trusting Prince Charming isn’t going to get exactly what he’s hoping for?

  • ReGi McClain

    Ick. Just, ick. Too much ick. *shudders, looks around for something to strangle*

  • Xina Marie Uhl

    What? That was backstory? But, but, it was so wonderfully well done – so intriguing and vivid and touching – I don’t want it to languish in backstoryland. Also, I want Harold to go die in a ditch. Nox is a strong and purposeful heroine. I can really feel her sadness and exhaustion in this scene, not to mention her disgust for stupid Harold. Well done!

  • shanjeniah

    Hmmn….Now I have a character or three who would tear out his throat for him….but I’m hoping Nox bites something that only what was in that bottle he shattered will put to rights.

    Or that he gets sick, and, oh, well, she’s away helping someone sweeter.

    Or that the skirt isn’t in the way of her knee….

    Or –

    Can you tell I’m not into marital rape yet?

    And that poor little girl. A hard life, and then a tragic death. I’m kind of hoping that Nox will make something with those potatoes and onions, and bring it back to the girl’s family…if they’d accept that….

    I’m intrigued, and I love this snippet of backstory. I do this, too, sometimes. Maybe I’ll share a few, the next time I’m at odds about what to share…

  • Gloria Weber

    Your snippet definitely shows a life worth leaving behind. I do hope she does. Because she obviously has skillz (and they’re mad, because I used a z).

    I wish you the best with the schedule whatever you decide. I think you’re right when you say you should wait to have edits back first. That will give you a much clearer view. Keep up the good work!

  • L. Marie

    So glad I’m playing blog catch-up, because I could read this very compelling story! Oh man!!! Great characters! Oh, Nox. What will you do with your potioner’s skill??? Harold is an ox!!!

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