Author Archives: Kate Sparkes

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

Curses and Crimes: Prologue

Curses and Crimes cover art
COMING MAY 9, 2022

PROLOGUE

TEN YEARS AGO

The world returned to life with every step Gale put between herself and the dead witch’s cabin.

Two years of blight and famine had left her village and the mountain forests that surrounded it starving. Dying. Now the curse was broken, and as she and her brother Hawk walked home, ferns had sprouted around their feet, leaves had burst forth on the trees, and the woods had filled with birdsong that had been absent for too long.

But Gale walked with her head down, focusing on the squish of newly fertile soil beneath her too-large boots as she and her big brother crossed Mister Coldstream’s wheat field.

Almost home. Mama. Papa. Home.

Home.

It was all her seven-year-old mind could handle, so it was all she allowed herself to think. Even questioning why her heart didn’t leap at the thought of seeing her parents again was too much.

Hawk took her hand and pulled her forward. “Almost there, little bird. We’re going to be heroes for killing that witch, you know.”

Gale glanced up at him. He was still skeleton thin and too pale, just as he’d been when Father took them into the woods and left them there. Though Gale had been just as gaunt when they’d left home, she’d gained back every stolen ounce as she’d eaten at the witch’s table, and her skin glowed tan and healthy from long days in a bountiful garden that hadn’t been touched by the curse.

A flash of laughing eyes came into Gale’s mind.

Don’t think of her.

She focused instead on Hawk’s words and tried to make the word hero in her mouth, just to try it on and see how it fit her.

It tasted bad.

Hawk deserved to be called a hero. Not her.

The shocking green of the fields, the riot of life and noise and God-given goodness that had sprouted around them since the witch’s death were all the proof Gale needed that he’d been right to want to kill the witch.

And Gale had been wrong to trust her. To eat at her table. To embrace her as guardian after their own parents had placed the siblings in God’s hands when there was no food left for them at home.

Her throat closed at the thought, choking her.

I’m glad to go home, she told herself, desperate to believe it. Mother and Father will be pleased.

The curse is broken. God’s will has been done. We are heroes.

Bright Hollow would be in view soon, past these sprawling fields, cradled in its sheltered space on the mountainside.

It had been a sour, dull place when they’d left. No snow forts this past winter, no dances, no candies and songs, no candles in the windows to chase the darkness away on the longest night of the year. But maybe now, if enough folks had survived, it would be like before. Classes in the big schoolhouse. Harvest festivals. Friends playing in the streets.

Gale’s chin trembled as she forced herself to take in everything around her, to make it all fit what she remembered from before the curse.

For Gale, the world had changed. Her time with the witch, with magic, had made it different. Where once she’d seen and heard and felt and tasted and smelled, now there was something else that she experienced beyond those natural senses.

Magic. Not everywhere. Not here. But it had been present in patches of the land as she and Hawk walked home, in the new forest plants and the animals that fed on them. She was glad to find there wasn’t any magic near Bright Hollow, though its loss made her feel strangely empty. In the woods near the witch’s home it had sung, called, teased, beckoned.

Sinful. Corrupting. Vile. The words Hawk had whispered to her when they lay in the loft at the witch’s cabin echoed in her mind. He’d tried to warn her. She hadn’t listened.

It hurt to remember magic flowing through her body, a river of warmth and light.

It hurt to think something so lovely could be so bad.

She cursed the land and Bright Hollow. The curse ended when she died. I was wrong. Wrong.

Someone shouted—a man’s voice, high and reedy. Across the field a thin figure in a grey shirt and bib overalls ran toward them, waving his straw hat in one hand. Mister Coldstream. One of Bright Hollow’s farmers.

Someone had survived. There would be others. Mother and Father, if God had willed that they live out the curse. The Luminary, surely, waiting to hear the story of their victory over evil.

Gale fought the urge to turn and run away. It wasn’t sensible, and Mister Coldstream would think it odd if she was afraid to go home.

Besides, there was nowhere to run back to anymore, even if she’d wanted to go. The witch was dead, the cabin burned.

Hawk slowed and turned her to face him. “We need to get our story straight. I swear I won’t tell anyone what you did.” He crouched slightly, placing his eyes at her level. “I’ll protect you, Nightingale. No one needs to know.”

Gale scrunched up her face to keep tears back as Hawk’s words broke through the dam she’d built around her memories.

The sleeping potion, perfectly made. Madrigal would have been so pleased to know how her student had used proper magic, but it had to be a secret.

Madrigal collapsing to the floor, her golden curls spread out around her as the potion subdued her magical protections enough to make her fall asleep.

Hawk’s knife, hidden in his belt, then pressed to her throat.

Madrigal’s eyes opening, meeting Gale’s. Widening. Understanding.

Gale’s breath hitched, and she pinched herself to call her mind back to the present.

She tried to answer Hawk, but words wouldn’t come no matter how badly she wanted to speak.

Hawk nodded. “Probably better if you just let me talk for the both of us. I’ll say we worked together, that we both defeated the witch and ended the curse, that it was our plan. The two of us, all along.”

Gale wanted to ask what would happen if anyone found out about her sin, but it didn’t matter. Hawk knew best. He’d proved it, and he’d keep his word. All she had to do now was follow him back to town, learn how to be a better girl, and forget.

The garden. The cabin. The warm fire. Secret lessons. Fresh rosemary bread.

The knife. The blood po     v coling on the floor, staining it the colour of death.

“Ready to go home, little bird?” Hawk asked, raising an arm to wave back to Mister Coldstream.

The farmer continued toward them, calling their names.

Gale’s legs trembled. She sank to her knees and sobbed as though she would never stop, telling herself it was because she was so happy to be home.


Pre-orders available now through most ebook retailers. Visit www.books2read/cursesandcrimes for links!


Vines and Vices is now available

Been a while again, eh?

I know. I neglect this blog. I spend too much time on TikTok with its one minute videos and on Instagram where pretty much everything is said in a photo.

The long wordy things are… well, they’re books. I don’t often think to spend more words here.

But just in case anyone is still getting updates and still reading here, here’s the new release news:

I wrote another book.

TA-DA!

Details? You got ’em.

“Are you a wolf, Jesamyn? Or are you a lamb I should have slaughtered the moment you drew your first breath?”

Jes has spent nearly two decades with those words in her ear as her mother, Mav, taught her how to lie, steal, and con her way through life. She’s ready to claim her independence, but Mav won’t give up control of her greatest asset without a fight.

When Mav demands the unthinkable, Jes is at a loss as to how to beat the queen of criminals at her own game—that is, until a magical beanstalk, a charming prince, and an impossible land lost in the clouds come together to offer Jes the opportunity she’s been dreaming of.

With her future, her heart, and her freedom on the line, Jes will need to do the impossible, risking her life to pull off a scam of gigantic proportions. The danger will be enormous, but so will the payoff…

If she can make it back alive.


Vines and Vices (All the Queen’s Knaves book one) is available now through most ebook retailers, in paperback and gorgeous hardcover, and by request through libraries.

Perfect gift for any lover of Fantasy and fairy tales. Just saying.

Links here!


FREE FICTION:Temporary Love

Hey! Long time no type (here, at least). Over in my Facebook reader group we’re playing with writing prompts while so many of us are stuck at home so much of the time. It’s been fun, and I thought it might be interesting to share my results from yesterday’s prompt here. I had a lot of fun writing it (when I definitely should have been writing something else). Hope you enjoy it!

And hey, feel free to drop your own response to the prompt in the comments if you feel inspired (or post in your own space and let me know where I can find it).


PROMPT: Begin a story with the line “It was never meant to last.”


bedroom

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

“It was never meant to last.”

That’s what he tells me every night when we’re lying in a tangle of bare limbs and bedsheets, as he places a kiss on my brow. It used to bother me, this reminder of the temporary nature of our relationship. These days I just nod, close my eyes, and hold him tighter.

He was honest about everything right from the start, so I can’t complain about that. He’s not human. He’s something else, something that comes with great power and great strength, but also with a destiny that’s tied to that of another of his kind. Fated love, fated mate, whatever. I never have cared about the details, not when I was focused on having him all to myself. Better to have loved and lost, I told myself. And who could regret a love like ours, even if fate says it can’t last?

It was hard at the beginning. He’d disappear for weeks and months at a time, carried away by the duties that come with all that power, and I always thought I’d lost him. But years passed and he kept coming home. This temporary thing that was never meant to last has become my life, and him my world—and I let myself think I’d become his.

It was stupid of me to let it happen, and I guess I have no one but myself to blame as he packs his bags for the last time.

“Is she nice?” I ask.

“She’s fine.” He removes his shirt and reaches for another, but doesn’t put it on. For a moment I can see the glowing swirl on his wrist. It used to be a black mark like a tattoo. It only lit up when he finally met her.

“Is she beautiful?” I feel stupid and shallow for asking, but I’m proud of not asking the real question of whether she’s prettier than me.

His brow furrows. “She’s… very attractive.”

Of course she is. They all are. That’s what drew me to him in the first place. I mean, I stayed for the laughs, the tangled sheets, and the fierce got-your-back loyalty, but it was his face, his body, and his devilish smile that started all this trouble.

I haven’t seen that smile since he came home tonight.

He turns away, but I catch the tear that slips from his eye. I wrap my arms around his waist from behind, the only way I know how to give him comfort and privacy at the same time. I kiss the unnaturally warm skin of his back. I can’t help it. He’s been mine-but-not-forever for so long that it’s the natural course of action.

“It’s okay,” I whisper, though it’s not. “It was never meant to last. We knew fate would step in one day to end this.”

He turns and buries his face in my hair. “I’m sorry. I kept telling myself to walk away before someone got hurt. I left and I tried to stay away, but…”

“I know.” I pull away and force a smile. “Maybe knowing it would end has made it better. I’m still the luckiest human alive. I have no regrets.”

“Nor do I.” Suddenly his eyes—those glorious, golden-green eyes that I fell so hard for so long ago—light up. He opens his suitcase again, but instead of packing the rest of his clothes he goes to my side of the closet and begins tossing in clothes, underwear, and his old t-shirt that I wear to bed when he’s away.

“What are you doing?” I step closer, my heart pounding. “You can’t run from your destiny.”

With a manic grin he slams the suitcase shut and takes me by the hand. “I’m willing to try if you are.”

©2020 Kate Sparkes


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Resurrection FREEBIE Sale and Salvation Cover Reveal!

For anyone who missed the news elsewhere…

The Immortal Soulless series wraps up October 25 with the release of Salvation. Advance readers are calling it the perfect conclusion to Aviva’s story, and I can’t wait to get it into everyone’s hands! It’s available for pre-order now through all retailers.

Salavation ebook text (eyes revised)

Welcome to judgement day

Aviva had hoped her return to Maelstrom would follow the downfall of her enemies, proving her worth and setting the stage for a time of peace—or what passes for peace in the blood-soaked world of vampires. Instead she finds herself the bearer of more questions than answers and bringing news of a coming invasion.

She has her power, her gifts, and a few remaining allies, but with Maelstrom tearing itself apart from within and an enemy who always seems to be two steps ahead, what chance does Aviva have of saving the world from the darkness that threatens to overtake it?

 

To celebrate Salvation’s upcoming release and the conclusion of the series, Resurrrection (Immortal Soulless Book One) is FREE on all retailers for a limited time, and Sanctuary (Immortal Soulless Book Two) is on sale for just 99¢! If you haven’t yet sunk your fangs into this dark and decadent supernatural world of vampires, werewolves, murder, and mayhem, now is the perfect time.


Happy Birthday, Bound!

Ebook sale news and paperback giveaway details below!

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Time flies, doesn’t it?

It’s been five years since the first readers downloaded Bound and joined Aren and Rowan on their first adventure through the wilds of Tyrea.

Five years since they met Kel, Cassia, Ruby, and all of the other incredible characters that fill this world.

Five years since I became a professional author, though one who was holding her breath and hoping that someone would read her book and find something worthwhile in it. Little did she know that this book would soon make writing her job as well as her passion, all thanks to the readers who bought the book, reviewed it, and recommended it to others.

Half a decade on, I’ve just published my tenth book (four as Kate Sparkes, six as Tanith Frost), but this one still takes up a whole lot of space in my heart. I miss this world and these characters, and I want to keep sharing them with readers around the world.

So to celebrate this special occasion and to say ‘thanks for everything,’ I’ve got a few goodies for readers.

First: Bound is now on sale for 99 cents in ebook on all retailers. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve already got a copy. But if you still haven’t stepped into this fairytale world where magic is a sin, haven’t met the mysterious merfolk or escaped from the dragon’s lair (or if you know someone who still needs to join you on the adventure), now’s the perfect time to jump in. Here are the links.

But more importantly…

I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of Bound to one lucky winner! Just click here to visit the Rafflecopter link to enter. There are only a few options for entry this time, so it will only take a minute.

This giveaway is, of course, open internationally. Winner will be chosen and contacted on July 1, so be sure to enter as soon as possible. Good luck!

EDIT: The winner has been chosen and notified, and the prize mailed. Congratulations to Ashley L!


All Good Things Must

For nine years I’ve had a dog. Boxer. White, with a left-side pirate patch and sad eyes. High-energy, clever, eager to please. But I’ve had so much more than that.

For nine years I’ve had a shadow, first following me around as I followed the kids, then trailing behind me as I did my work in an otherwise empty house when everyone else was at work or school. My shadow slept by my side while I wrote stories I thought no one would ever read, sat in the kitchen while I cooked, looked for me if I disappeared when he was napping.

For nine years I’ve had an angel whose need for exercise motivated me to walk, which turned out to be the best thing for my depression. He urged me to keep up with that little act of self-care and helped me get back to feeling like myself. And he jogged with me, at least until his aging body couldn’t run anymore.

And then we walked again, because I couldn’t lace up my shoes and run without him.

For nine years I’ve had a friend, someone I could talk to when there was no one else, who listened without judgement. He laid his head on my lap and gazed up at me, letting me know I was loved unconditionally, that I was never alone.

For weeks now, my shadow has been fading. He hasn’t been eating. He’s been in pain, though no one can tell me why. I’ve done everything I could to keep him with us, even when he didn’t like the examinations and medicines.

But he kept fading.

A few days ago, my friend gave up. He stopped trying to follow his family around the house and instead stayed in bed all day, only getting up when prompted—and then not at all. The light went out of his eyes, though he still listened, still responded to gentle affection.

I didn’t want to give up, but there comes a time when it’s cruel to force someone onward when their journey is so clearly over.

We humans take familiar things for granted—shadows, friends, angels. I think I’ve appreciated mine while I had him, knowing it wouldn’t last forever, but I still wish we had more time.

We don’t, though. Today it was time to repay all the kindness this beautiful spirit has heaped on my family all these years.

Jack spent his last day in the shade of the maple trees in his yard, surrounded by his family, before his trip to the vet. He died peacefully at 4:30.

It hurts. A lot. But he’s okay now. And we will be, too.


Okay, but who am I supposed to throw it at?

Screenshot 2019-06-13 10.04.50

LITERAL DESTRUCTION. FROM INSIDE, GUYS. THROW IT.

Can I throw it at whoever wrote this ad?

Or whoever decided it was right to show on my blog?

-_-

 


Success By Any Other Name

So. I’ve been off Facebook for a while. I’ve been away from here, too, but Facebook has been the big change.

I needed quiet.

It’s not the updates or the friends that I’ve been avoiding, or even the unavoidable drama. It’s about me and my anxiety. My depression. And above all, my creativity.

I’ve been struggling for a long time. As much as I love writing–as much as I NEED writing as a way to connect with the world, figure myself out, and say things I can’t say any other way–the business side of it has never been good for me. Marketing is an anxiety trigger (for reasons I won’t go into here), and when I found myself unable to do it without breaking down in tears I was getting insanely stressed out in a seemingly unending spiral of stress-anxiety-shame-stress-lather-rinse-repeat.

You see, I thought I was a failure if I never got back to the sales numbers and income that I had with my first books, so I kept pushing.

Because here’s you see on social media when you’re an author:

SELL MORE BOOKS! WRITE FASTER OR FANS WILL FORGET YOU EXIST! TAKE UP MORE SHELF SPACE! WRITE WHAT’S POPULAR AND GRAB NEW FANS! MASTER FACEBOOK ADS! HAVE IT ALL BY HITTING A LIST! BUY THIS COURSE! HUSTLE HARDER AND YOU CAN WIN THE GAME!

And I’m not saying those are bad things to want. They’re good things for the right person, and I’m glad there are people out there who can help.

But when I’m on Facebook and it’s all I see, I start to think that that’s the only way to define creative success these days. Amazon followers. Little orange flags. Instagram likes. Facebook comments. Newsletter subscribers. HUSTLE HUSTLE HUSTLE, and there’s something seriously wrong with you if you’d rather not be in the fast lane.

I needed some time off to get myself away from all of that to understand that I’m allowed to define success for myself.

Honestly, I still don’t know what that means. What I have figured out, I think, is that I can’t let writing become a constant source of stress or I’ll lose everything that made me fall in love with it in the first place. I can’t chase goals that will leave me mentally and emotionally exhausted, with nothing left to offer my family and friends at the end of the day. And that’s where I’ve been headed, honestly.

I do know what I want, I think. I want to take my time, writing gorgeous books that I’ve had a chance to fall in love with, exploring every bit of inspiration and insight that I didn’t see until the second (or third, or fifth) draft without worrying that I have to publish NOW to keep the balls in the air. I want to take days off when the sun is shining and the beach or the blueberry patch is calling, or when the kids are sick or have a snow day. I want to read more. Learn more. Be bored more. Explore stories that have no chance of selling but that I want to tell because they inspire me. Blog more, and not just about writing. Take more time to share other people’s ideas and projects and successes and help them achieve the goals that feel right for them.

I can’t do that AND be stressed out about ticking all of the marketing boxes. Some people can do it all. I can’t. And I’m not sure I want to, given what I know of what it costs me and my brain (bless it).

So I’m in the process of choosing new goals. It’s hard. It’s one thing to say that I want my writing to be about creativity rather than fame or finances, but I do tend to compare myself to others and feel like I’m somehow falling behind if I let myself be happy with what I have instead of CHASING THE DREEEEAAAAAMMMMM that it seems I’m supposed to have.

It’s a process, as is everything else in life. Maybe some day I’ll get there.

I’m not giving up on writing or publishing, or even marketing. I’m at the end of a (damn good, if I may say so myself) 7-book series under my pen name and would really like to see those stories connect with readers who will love them. I’d like to keep publishing, which means making money for edits and such, which means selling books.

I think what I’m trying to do, really, is give up on the stress,the time-suck, the HUSTLE, the bitterness, and the expectations of anything other than writing books that I’m proud to call mine.

I’m trying to get back to the pure joy of playing in my sandbox and then showing off what I’ve made in the hope that others will also find pleasure in it.

I’m trying to fall in love again.

We’ll see how it goes.


COVER REVEAL: Revelation (Immortal Soulless Book 6) by Tanith Frost

*taps microphone*

This thing on? Hello?

*blows dust off stage*

I know, things have been quiet around here, but we’ve got something exciting for you today: The cover reveal for Revelation! This is the second-to-last book in the Immortal Soulless series (my pen name’s dark, decadent, and deadly urban fantasy series featuring vampires in Newfoundland), and things are just getting darker and more intense as we approach the finale.

Ready?

Immortal-Soulless-Revelation-Generic

Convicted of treason and sentenced to oblivion, Aviva finds herself hunted by the vampires of her own clan. But she’s convinced that Tempest won’t give up on their plot to bring Maelstrom to its knees, and would sooner be damned than stand by and watch as her home is destroyed—even if nearly everyone there has turned their backs on her.

Alone and unprepared, Aviva heads to Tempest’s territory intent on gathering information on their plans, proving her loyalty to Maelstrom, and maybe saving the love of her afterlife in the process. She expects pain, challenges, and simple, brutal cruelty. What she finds instead is a fascinating, isolated kingdom where allies are enemies, wrong is right, and lies are truth.

It’s only by embracing Tempest’s pure darkness that Aviva stands any chance of surviving. But if she loses herself in this seductive world of pleasure and power, what chance does she have of finding her way back again?

So when is this beauty going to hit your Kindles, Nooks, phones, or whatever you read ebooks on*? That’s the best news. We’re just sorting out one last detail, and then the book will be yours. No drama, no waiting…In fact, it’s already available through Amazon and iBooks!

Now, you definitely don’t want to just go ahead and jump into Immortal Soulless at book six (or three, or four…) Conveniently enough, Resurrection (Immortal Soulless Book One) is currently available for just 99 cents for a limited time! It’s a great time to start a series that will keep you hooked all summer long. ** Here’s the link.

Happy reading!

 


 

*Paperbacks will be out ASAP as well, but as this means waiting for a proof copy to make sure everything looks okay, it will take a little longer. Books 1-5 are available now in paperback through Amazon.

**I mean… I guess that depends on how quickly you read, though. You might fly through them in a week. If so, let me know and I’ll toss you an imaginary gold star. That’s some impressive reading.


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