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 a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com

Announcing a Dark, Decadent, and Deadly Giveaway from Tanith Frost!

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Iiiiiit’s giveaway time! If you like your vampires predatory but relatable, your urban fantasy dark enough to thrill (with some hot romance and a few laughs along the way), Immortal Soulless might be just the thing for you. Books 1-5 are available now on most retailers, but one lucky reader is going to win something really special in just a few weeks!

One lucky winner is going to receive the following Immortal Soulless-themed prizes:

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  • One signed paperback copy of Resurrection (Immortal Soulless Book One)click here for details
  • One Paperblanks vampire-themed notebook. PLEASE NOTE: This is a gorgeous journal filled with to-die-for paper, but it arrived with its elastic closure strap broken. I can’t replace it, but the damage is barely visible and it’s fantastic enough that I want someone to have it. Just know it’s a little broken (but I mean, so are some characters in the book, so…?)
  • Three Newfoundland word stickers. If you’ve read Resurrection, you know ‘skeet’ already.
  • One bag of Dark Tickle Partridgeberry Tea to enjoy while you’re cozying up to read.
  • One piece of grey Labradorite. This takes us a little further ahead in the series, to Sanctuary (book two). Could it connect you to energies beyond mortal awareness? You just never know.
  • Snowy Pine scented candle (do we have tons of evergreen trees in Newfoundland? Does Aviva see one practically every time she turns around? Yes. Also, it just smells AMAZING.)
  • Bookmark: ‘She needed a hero, so she became one’. Enough said.

So that’s the prize for now. I’ll keep you updated here if anything gets added, which I’ll do if entry numbers get high enough. The giveaway is open internationally (see terms and conditions on the Rafflecopter page for details).

How do you enter? Glad you asked! Follow this link to find several options for entering. Do one, do them all… some can get you entries if you repeat them on another day, so don’t forget to go back and do that. Likes and shares are not required for the Facebook entry, but are certainly appreciated.

Good luck!


But It’s So Early…

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Confession: I actually like dark winter mornings.

The thing to do seems to be to complain about them—how hard it is to get out of bed when it feels like the middle of the night, how impossible it seems to wake up, how cold the house feels after leaving a warm, cozy bed. And those things are true. I want to stay in bed every morning, even if I’m awake before my alarm. My bed is so much more comfortable in the morning than it is at bedtime, my mind is so much more relaxed (not to mention my body). It’s especially tempting to linger when I know I’ve remembered to turn the thermostats down overnight and the house will be cold until I turn them back up and brought the house a little closer to the “comfort zone.”

The disadvantages of being the first one up.

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“Highway to the…”*

I could be miserable about it. And I think I would be if I felt like I was being forced out of bed, stumbling to the bathroom and being thrown into the chaos of waking kids up, making lunches, and getting our days started and then having to rush into my work.

But a while ago I started getting up an hour and a half before I wake the kids up on school days, and it’s helped me look at these mornings a little differently.

It’s hard to get out of bed, but when I do I usually have the house to myself. I turn the heat up and make myself a nest of blankets in my favourite chair to retreat to after I’ve stretched muscles that have cramped up overnight. I light a candle or turn on some electric votives and watch them flicker as I sit and plan my day. I meditate in a house that’s full of life but that sounds empty save for an occasional snore and the sounds of the cats running around (and body slamming each other repeatedly to the floor most days… morning is high energy time for some creatures in this house). I cook myself eggs and read or listen to a podcast instead of shovelling cold cereal into my mouth like I might manage if I were trying to fit my own morning around everyone else’s needs.

I take care of myself like it’s actually a priority.

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There’s something pleasantly lonesome in a dark winter morning, and a kind of calmness I don’t feel when I get up at the same time in the summer.

That’s not to say I won’t appreciate early sunrises when they come. Instead of candles I’ll have the sun filtering through coloured glass, casting bright shadows on the walls. Instead of cozying in with blankets, I’ll have a refreshing shower (which I’ll need if this summer is as hot as the last one was). It will probably be easier to get out of bed. Maybe I’ll even sit outside sometimes to drink my coffee if the bugs aren’t too bad.

But for now, I like this—the chill, the darkness, feeling grateful for my chair, my blankets, and sturdy walls to keep the howling wind at bay.

Quiet winter mornings make it easy to be thankful.

____

*That’s right. I live in Canada, but my thermostats are so old they measure in Fahrenheit and apparently date back to a time when the only thing that existed between 55 and 90 was “comfort.”


COVER REVEAL: Temptation (Immortal Soulless Book Five)

Well, here we are again. Five books into a series that’s managed to surprise me at every turn even though I share a brain with its author*. I’m so excited to be able to talk about this story. It’s been really hard keeping quiet about these characters and the massive shifts that are coming to the world of Maelstrom’s vampires as the story approaches its climax.

She’s seen rogue vampires, werewolves, humans who hunt the undead, a dragon trapped in human form… but even Aviva wasn’t prepared for this.

(Haven’t started the series yet? Resurrection will be on sale for just 99 cents in ebook on all major retailers through Temptation’s release day! Amazon claims to have the price adjusted–we’re just waiting on a few other retailers to catch up. If you’re still seeing it at regular price, just check back in the next few days. Click here for links.)

TEMPTATION (Immortal Soulless Book Five)
Tanith Frost

COMING NOVEMBER 26, 2018

TemptationS

Things have been far too quiet since Aviva foiled Viktor’s plans to rise to power as high elder of Maelstrom. She’s certain he won’t give up so easily, but has no proof, no connections, and no hope of survival if she dares to stir up trouble again.

Aviva’s temporary peace is destroyed when an unfamiliar vampire attempts to assassinate her. She suspects Viktor is behind it, but there’s no help for her among the clan’s higher-ups; Miranda can’t afford to get her hands dirty when Aviva herself is being investigated for murder. As the situation spirals out of control Aviva instead seeks help from a strange group of vampires who exist at the very edges of clan society.

It’s hard to know whether she can trust them, and harder still to know what to make of the powerful being she meets among them who claims to be an angel—or possibly a demon. Aviva will have to choose her allies wisely if she wants to save herself and her clan from an enemy that’s larger and more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Astrophoto of deep space rich in stars

 


 

*Seriously, never let anyone tell you that planning and outlining take all of the mystery out of the storytelling process.


Mer-licious Giveaway!

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You’ve seen this calendar all over social media, right? The Merb’ys calendar (by the Newfoundland & Labrador Beard & Moustache Club) went a liiiittle bit viral last year, raising over $300,000 for mental health. This year they’re doing it again in support of Violence Prevention Newfoundland & Labrador…

…and I just happen to have one to give away along with a signed copy of Bound.

Why? Because I’ve been meaning to do a paperback giveaway that celebrates my own merfolk, and what better way to do it than by supporting a good cause?

From the calendar:

“Violence Prevention Newfoundland & Labrador will be the main recipient of the funds we raise this year. We wanted to help them continue their very important work of changing attitudes and breaking down stereotypes. Their goal is to challenge negative attitudes of masculinity and empower men to become meaningfully engaged in violence prevention.”

To enter, click this link to go to the rafflecopter giveaway. You can earn entries by spreading the word about the giveaway on Twitter, visiting my Facebook page (share the giveaway post while you’re there if you’d like, but it’s not required), or by subscribing to my very infrequent email newsletter. New subscribers receive three free stories as a thank-you for signing up, so really everyone’s a winner.

Please note: This giveaway is not endorsed by the NL Beard & Moustache club. I’m just giving away their amazing calendar and spreading the word on their project because I think it’s awesome and I love me some mer-dudes. For more information on the NLBMC or to order your own copy of the calendar, visit nlbmc.com

 


I Lost A Phone and I Liked It

(That’s only halfway true, but you’re welcome for the earworm.*)

A month ago, my phone disappeared.

Vanished. Poof. I had it out in the back yard. I know I brought it into the house; I just don’t know where in the house it ended up. Calling it wasn’t an option; by the time I realized it was missing, the battery was dead.

Cue the frantic searching. I tore the house apart. My husband, who’s a much better finder than I am, did the same. We retraced my steps (which were very few on that lazy summer day). We checked cupboards, freezers, freshly folded laundry, and garbage cans.

Not a trace.

I was so mad at myself. I wondered whether I’d have remembered to plug it in (or at least have noticed where I put it) if I’d taken my meds that day. I felt ashamed of myself for not being able to manage the simple task of not losing the miraculous tiny pocket computer that had served me well for several years, and I beat myself up pretty hard for being so irresponsible.

I mean… almost all of my friends live in my phone. I LOST MY FRIENDS.

Now, I was due to upgrade my phone a year ago (cue conspiracy theories about the phone company kidnapping my poor iPhone to force the issue). I could have just gone out and done it. But I’m stubborn, and I was convinced that the moment I got a new phone my old one would turn up. I was determined to not give in.

So how did that go?

There were inconveniences for sure. We went on a week-long family trip that involved splitting up for appointments and activities, and we had to do it without “WHERE ARE YOU?” texts. I didn’t have my music or podcasts in the car or on walks. I couldn’t post anything to Instagram (the horror, I know).

But all in all it was really okay.

I checked my email less because it wasn’t in my pocket and realized what a huge waste of time it is to check it at all from my phone. I got help with the break I’d been trying for months to take from Facebook, and I found that I didn’t miss it**. I checked Messenger occasionally from my computer in case people needed to contact me, and I don’t think anyone else really noticed I was gone.

I missed out on a lot of work-related FOMO, that’s for sure, which meant a little less anxiety at a time when it’s been a real struggle. I forgot to take the “real” camera on a day trip and managed to focus on enjoying and remembering the day instead of posting constant photo updates to social media.

Turns out experiences really do happen even if I don’t record and share them. Weird.

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Other people had cameras, anyway.

No, it wasn’t a blissful vacation or an eye-opening epiphany. I didn’t miraculously gain an increased attention span, and my brain found plenty of other distractions when I didn’t have my phone in hand. I didn’t even get any extra reading done. But slipping the electronic leash for a while helped me realize that I don’t always want to be available or in the loop.

I broke down and upgrade a few days ago. It was the music that pushed me to it, really. The weather will be cool enough to take my dog for long walks again soon (I hope), and I need the motivation that music provides to get me into my running shoes and out the door. And there are times when it’s important for people to be able to reach me even when I’m not at home–my husband, my kids’ schools.

But I’m going to try not to let this phone be the constant companion my last one was. It won’t be my go-to when I’m in need of a quick hit of distraction or the sense of validation that comes from checking Instagram likes. I’m not going to have it in my hands at all when I’m talking to people in person.

…because that might have been my biggest take-away from this experience. When I didn’t have a phone to distract me I noticed how reliant so many of us are on them. We Google minor facts and news items instead of staying focused on the present conversation. Phones are in-hand during restaurant meals. Even lulls in conversation can be an opportunity to check notifications, as though it’s not worth just sitting quietly  with friends and family when the grass might be greener somewhere else.

That’s not a criticism. I’ve guilty of it, too. And I want it to stop.

So thanks, old iPhone, for disappearing. Your absence made it clear what I really needed you for and what I absolutely didn’t, even if I thought I did.

And new phone? You’re on notice. I’m the boss. Not you.

(Also, please don’t get lost. I can’t afford to replace you for at least two years.)

 

 


 

*If you don’t now have Katy Perry stuck in your head right now, please tell me how to avoid it.

**I missed being in touch with my reader group, and I think I might have missed an invitation or two. That’s about it.


A Tail of Two Kitties

(No, I will not apologize for that post title. ZERO REGRETS.)

Tomorrow we celebrate the release of Covenant (Immortal Soulless Book Four)*. It’s been a wild ride so far, and I’ve met lots of characters I’ve fallen completely in love with, many of them unexpected guests at this particular party. But there’s one who has a very special place in my heart.

The series takes place in Newfoundland, though it’s a darker and more dangerous version of the island than what you see in the tourism videos. I use a mixture of real and invented locations, but every character save for one is entirely made-up. And that one character is fictional… but also not.

Is that confusing? Let me start over with the story of how a blotchy-faced kitten from the SPCA ended up on the pages of a book (and with his claws sunk firmly into the author’s heart).

It all started with a Facebook post. Two kittens alone in the wild, brought in to a shelter. Brothers. Adorable, as kittens tend to be. I saw the post and immediately wanted to adopt the one they were calling “Jiggy”, though it seemed obvious to me that that wasn’t his name. I sent the post to my husband, half-jokingly saying that we could name the black-and-white kitten Rorschach.

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WOOKIT DEM.

Was it unfair to play to his comic book-loving heart with a reference to Watchmen? Maybe. But in my defence I knew we weren’t going to adopt him. We already had two cats and two dogs, and a half-wild kitten seemed like a huge challenge we didn’t need. It was just a cute joke.

But I couldn’t forget that odd little face.

At the time I was in the process of revising Resurrection, book one of the Immortal Soulless series. And suddenly there he was. This kitten I’d seen in that Facebook post was transported to a fictional version of St. John’s. He escorted my protagonist into a diner, jumped up onto the counter, and made himself at home.

Now, the version in the story wasn’t exactly the kitten I’d seen in the photo. Rory (as he’s known in the story) was an older cat. He wasn’t rescued as a kitten and offered a good home. No, this guy was older and larger. Wiser. Tougher. Beat-up. A bit like this, looking like he should have a tiny cigar hanging out of his mouth:

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Sketchy character, that one

A cat who’s seen a lot, who’s suspicious of strangers, especially those who look human but aren’t quite what they seem.

I liked having him in the book. He fit. It worked.

And then my in-laws adopted his brother, and Jiggy the hard-to-rehome kitten was left ALONE AT THE SPCA.

Long story short: I drove out a few days later and came home with the kitten who’d already found his way onto the pages of my book.

But here’s where it gets funny.

That big, battle-scarred, streetwise cat from the book? He’s still entirely fictional in everything but his coat markings.

Because here’s what we ended up with:

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“BONJOUR, HOOMAN!”

Maybe he was the runt of the litter, or maybe I spoiled him so hard that he decided to stay a kitten forever. Whatever the case, Rorschach never went through the “huge feet, long legs” stage, and he never got particularly big for a male cat. He’s almost two years old now and isn’t nearly as large as his brother.

And he’s… different.

The kitten we never expected to come out of his shell now follows me around and talks to me when I get up in the morning. He hollers for me if he can’t find me in the evening. He likes odd foods and will try to steal your blueberry muffin if you don’t keep a close eye on it. He doesn’t blink much, which makes him look a bit nutty. He races around the house making strange noises, and if he escapes out the back door he inevitably freaks out and ends up stuck under the back deck.

Not exactly the cat who ended up in that first book, but an entertaining one nonetheless.

Rory only appeared in Resurrection once, and then only on a few pages. I honestly expected that to be the end of him. But if you’ve been reading the series you know that Imogen (the diner waitress who’s “his” human) showed up again at the end of Atonement. That was a surprise for me, but not as much of a surprise as what came next.

Imogen came back again in Covanant, and she turned out to be far more than she seemed at first glance. And Rory? Well, I can’t say he’s been thrilled about it, but he’s come along for the ride, and he even played a part in unravelling the mystery that plays out on the pages of Covenant.

…which means that a chance encounter with an SPCA Facebook post affected the course of this book series.

Does the real Rorschach know or care? I doubt it. I’ve told him, but I don’t think he was listening. He was too busy knocking stuff off the mantel and bothering his big sisters.

He may have had a rough start in life, but the real-life counterpart of a badass fictional feline seems quite pleased with his own happy ending.

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*knocks sea glass onto floor*

 


Resurrection is available for a limited time for 99 cents in ebook! Click here for links.

COVER1WITHTEXT

 

Since the night of Aviva’s murder she’s been forced to accept a new reality—burned by sunlight, dependent on the blood of the living, searching for her place in a dark world she didn’t believe existed until she awoke as a vampire. When rogue vampires arrive in her clan’s territory and threaten the uneasy peace of the supernatural world, Aviva finds strength in darkness and discovers gifts that are considered shameful in the eyes of vampire society. Powers like hers are dangerous, but they might be her only hope of standing between a pack of ruthless killers and the unsuspecting humans they prey on.  


 

*I think most of you know by now that Tanith Frost is my pen name. It’s not much of a secret.


COVER REVEAL: Covenant by Tanith Frost

Covenant (Immortal Soulless Book Four)
Tanith Frost

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Tame the dragon. Close the rift. Don’t trust anyone.

Aviva’s new assignment sounds like something out of a fairy tale, except this time the damsel has been tasked with guarding the dragon. Though he’s plenty to deal with all on his own, it soon becomes clear that this monster trapped in human form is the least of her worries. The open rift that brought him to Earth threatens the veil of secrecy protecting the supernatural world, and the vampires of Maelstrom need to find it before they’re exposed. Worse, it seems that they may not be the only ones hunting for it. If the strange power that flows through the rift falls into the wrong hands, it could spell disaster for Aviva and everyone she cares about.

With only a shifty dragon-man and an inexperienced enchantress by her side, Aviva races to find the rift before the enemy does—a task that only grows more challenging when she uncovers a trail of deception and lies that leads straight to the highest ranks of her clan.

(Cover art by Jessica Allain)

The Immortal Soulless series continues in Covenant, and it’s only getting more exciting! Don’t forget that book one, Resurrection, is available for 99 cents (ebook format), but only for a limited time. That makes this the perfect time to start your summer reading binge! If you like your vampires bloodthirsty, your villains murderous, your shifters too hot for anyone’s own good, and your urban fantasy soaked in dark powers and deep mysteries, this just might be the series for you.

(Bonus points if you like your paranormal activities happening in Canada!)

Have fun… and prepare to lose some sleep. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Resurrection links

Covenant pre-order links

 

 

 


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