Category Archives: Torn

BOUND TRILOGY SALE!

Hey, everyone!

Just a quick post to let you know I’m running an ebook sale on the Bound trilogy! If you haven’t started this bestselling YA Fantasy series yet, or if you’ve been waiting for a sale to complete your collection, now is the perfect time!

bound-sale-september-blog-2

Enjoy! And if you have any friends who might be interested, your help in spreading the word is, of course, most appreciated. Thank you. You are so wonderful.

Available for Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, yadda yadda. You can find all of the links on my site, katesparkes.com, or just click the links below.

Bound

Torn

Sworn

And here’s my latest video. This one mentions the sale, but is mostly about the reading order for the trilogy when you throw the prequels in (you knew you could get those free by signing up for my newsletter, right?). And you get to hang out with me on a migraine day, which is only a little like being around a tipsy yet pleasant and absent-minded drunk. So… yay! ^_^

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The End of the Adventure.

series

So today is Sworn’s release day.

How am I feeling?

Excited. I’m more proud of this book than anything I’ve done before, and I’ve never released anything I wasn’t 100% in love with. I can’t wait for readers to see how the story ends. Those who have read it have been extremely enthusiastic about it, which makes me even more excited. Sworn is already creeping up the Amazon charts, which is pretty damned cool.

And I feel drained. Yesterday’s release party was a total blast, but eight hours at the computer does take it out of you (thank heavens for guest authors who popped in for giveaways so I could eat!). And I probably don’t have to explain why I haven’t been sleeping well for a while, with everything I’ve had to do to get ready for the release.

And proud. This has been the biggest project I’ve ever taken on, and I’ve done it without a boss or a publisher breathing down my neck. This has been my baby from start to finish, from draft to editor selection to cover design to proofreading. And I did it. Hell yes, I’m proud of my easily-distracted and procrastination-prone and self-doubting self for pulling this off.

And sad. I’ve been working with these characters for five years now, and we’ve grown a lot together. I’m not ready for this to be over. I’m going to miss them and their world.

And thankful. I say this has been my baby, but I wouldn’t be here without my critique partners, my beta readers, my editors, my cover artist, the blog friends who have shared posts and supported me…

…and the readers. I’m so overwhelmed with thankfulness for the readers. The people who buy books, read books, recommend books, review books, share books, and above all LOVE books. The people who bring characters and worlds to life in their imaginations, who carry parts of their favourite characters with them even when they story is done.

My stories would just be words without them.

And okay, I’m a little scared. I feel like I’m standing at the edge of a cliff. I have to jump into a new story (already started and going swimmingly, due out in June… with an actual outside deadline this time). And that’s fine. It’s exciting. And it’s terrifying.

But I’ll get through it. And I’m glad you guys will be here with me to see this adventure through.

And the next.

And the next.

Thank you.

**Sworn purchase links available at www.katesparkes.com 

(PS- thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word about the sale! The full trilogy is now available for under $10 USD, at least on retailers that don’t adjust prices upward. Not too shabby!)

sworn release pricing promo


PARTY!!!

One week to Sworn’s big release day!

And I’m throwing a party to celebrate. How could I not? The Bound release party was small (as hardly anyone knew about the book), but a blast. The one for Torn was a little bigger, a little crazier, and STILL a blast.

This one’s going to be even better. We’ll have more giveaways (signed paperbacks, bookish goodies, and special little gifts to go with e-book giveaways), guest authors giving away THEIR books, a big (spoiler-free) Q&A if anyone has questions for me about the books, writing, what’s next, yadda yadda…

It’s going to be fun.

And the best part is that it’s happening on Facebook, so you don’t have to travel to Newfoundland to join us! I’ll be there from 3-10 PM my time (1:30 to 8:30 eastern), but some of the giveaways will stay open overnight for people on the other side of the world who can’t drop in during party hours.

Here’s the event link. Click to say you’re coming (and to get notifications of early-bird posts and/or giveaways), and drop in any time when the party’s on. Grab a fictional friend or date to bring with you (it might be worth a prize, you never know), find a comfy chair and some snacks, and we’ll see you on the 28th!

 

Screenshot 2016-01-22 10.12.33

My prize bucket a few months ago. It’s overflowing now. We’ll see how much we have time to give away during this event…


Bound A-Z: N is for Nox

Backstory is a tough thing for a writer to deal with. Ideally, we know everything about a character’s background. We know his secret obsessions, the details of her first heartbreak, his grade-school enemy, her favourite book. All of this affects the character in tiny ways, and our knowledge helps make him or her more real on the page.

The thing is, not all of this stuff should actually be on the page. Maybe that time she fell up the stairs in junior high was embarrassing and made her a little more shy than she was before, but it’s not relevant to the werewolves she’s killing at age twenty-five. Telling readers about it would slow the story down, and that’s generally the last thing we want to do if we can avoid it.

The question we often have to ask when editing these things out is: Is this relevant, or merely somewhat interesting? Does knowing this affect the reader’s enjoyment of and immersion in the story? And is that for better, or for worse?

Nox is a character whose backstory has suffered more than its share of cuts. It’s interesting stuff. Some of it was (I think) nicely written. But the fact is that sometimes taking a break to share that backstory puts the brakes on things when we really don’t want to. Going from an action sequence and a big revelation to musings on one’s childhood can be…

*Zzzzzzzzz…*

Sorry. And in two cases, I’ve cut information about Nox’s past that wasn’t vital to understanding the story or her character. It’s been hard to do. I love Nox, and I know some of you want to know more about her.

So here you go. A little information on her early years, dedicated to the person who recently called Nox “my book girlfriend,” and also to the person who named her kitten “Nox.”

This post isn't about her, but COME ON.

This post isn’t about her, but COME ON.

[The following information was cut from Sworn in the interests of relevance and pacing]

Nox (named Avalon by her parents) was born, coincidentally enough, on the same day as her twin brother Aren.

*cough*

Her birth was never officially recorded, and as far as most people know, only one child was born that day. There were a few reasons for this, but one was superstitions regarding twins. It’s widely believed that twins with magic will have the power of one person divided between them, and will be perceived as weak because of it. Most thinking people don’t truly believe this, but it’s a superstition that’s been around long enough that it does affect people’s biases.

In any case, it was decided that only one birth would be recorded. Since Aren was more likely to find a significant place in the royal family, his birth was acknowledged. As a male he was more likely to possess magic, and even at birth he showed potential. Avalon showed none. In fact, for as long as they both lived in the palace it seemed that if their power was divided, Aren had claimed all of it.

Now, this doesn’t mean there was great fanfare and a country-wide celebration. Life in the royal family is very much a “survival of the fittest” situation, and making things too public does make a mess of things if a king wants to cover up disasters. Still, people who lived and worked in the palace knew about Aren, and his mother’s servants guarded him from danger when she no longer could.

Little Avalon was less fortunate.

For her own safety, only a few people ever knew who she was. There was her mother, of course, who loved both of her children equally regardless of magic. She had no magic herself, remember, and if anything she felt more protective of her daughter, who would never be able to defend herself in this cutthroat family. Ulric knew, but he had so little to do with his children at that age as to make his involvement irrelevant.

And then there was the wet nurse.

Well… she wasn’t, really. She was a trustworthy and well-paid young woman who was brought in from another province. Someone with no connections in Luid, and few back at home. No one thought twice about the fact that the king’s last wife chose to have another woman feed the new prince, and if it seemed unusual that the nurse and her new daughter lived so closely with Magdalena and her baby boy, well, people from Belleisle are strange anyway.

Of course, the wet nurse had no baby, though everyone thought that Avalon was hers. In fact, that wet nurse spent her days assisting with the babies and keeping their mother company, but their mother fed them both. No one outside of those rooms had reason to question the situation. Even when the wet nurse stayed on as nanny, it seemed only somewhat unusual. Avalon lived with her, but saw plenty of her mother, and was sometimes allowed to play with her brother (though they never got along well).

And then, of course, came disaster.

[Torn spoilers ahead]

Ulric was forced to send Magdalena away, to let everyone believe she was dead. She took Avalon with her, knowing that there was no place for a girl with no magic in Luid. She changed her daughter’s name to Nox, a hard and cold name that she hoped would help her daughter become what she needed to be to survive in an equally cold and hard land. They never spoke of the city or the palace again–not until Nox was old enough to understand that she should never try to claim her place as a princess of Tyrea.

BONUS:

Here are the paragraphs that I cut from Torn, again in the interest of preserving story momentum. I still like these words, and I hope you enjoy them.

(These were Nox’s first words after meeting Aren, Kel, and Cassia)

I’ve never liked surprises.

I don’t remember much about my first home or my first family. I remember leaving, though, being scooped out of my bed, wakened from sleep and taken from my warm bedroom out into the cold night with a blanket wrapped around me. My mother held me in her lap as we rode in the back of a wagon. I remember the smell of hay, and horses, and the driver’s pipe. My mother cried every day of our journey, and I thought she’d never stop.

That was the first surprise I remember, and I haven’t had many pleasant ones since.

My rescuers were a surprise I wasn’t sure about. I’d resigned myself to going to Luid, accepting that fate was leading me there to kill my oldest half-brother. I knew little about that family aside from rumor and reputation, but I felt confident that I would find a way to do it. The hatred that had grown in me since I had learned my true identity and the reason for my mother’s banishment would finally bear fruit.

But then this group of strangers had appeared, and now I found myself leading them down the road, away from my old life. Moving forward.

How will Nox move her life forward after everything that’s changed?

We’ll find out soon enough.


Bound A-Z: J is for “Jumpin’ Jehosephat”

Okay, so that title is a lie. No character in the Bound trilogy has ever said “Jumpin’ Jehosephat,” and I guarantee they never will. What we really want to talk about today is cussin’, but that doesn’t start with J.

I probably don’t need to put a disclaimer here, right?

Every author has to make decisions regarding swearing: How much is appropriate, whether it will sound silly if characters in life-threatening situations don’t swear in order to keep a “clean” rating (see the aforementioned Jehosephat). For some of us it’s not a tough decision, at least until our grandparents and people from church start reading our books.

*cough*

Others have to do a bit more soul-searching.

On top of that, some genres offer additional restrictions or opportunities. Writing middle-grade fiction? Yeah, we all know first-graders who drop f-bombs like Samuel L. Jackson (if with considerably less flair), but it’s not considered appropriate to include that kid as a character in a MG book, even as the bully. Historical fiction writers will have to take into account the historical accuracy of slurs and swears. This might sound restrictive, but judging by the insults Shakespeare’s characters tossed out, I’m guessing the research there could be rather interesting.

And Fantasy and Sci-Fi allow us a range of possibilities. This article from Book Riot has a great run-down of the options authors choose. There’s the vaguely-dirty-sounding substitution, the straight-up swear, religious curses based on the world the story is set in, and more.

Anyone who’s read Bound and Torn knows I let my characters swear when it seems appropriate for the situation. As my editor said in his comments on Torn*, “You gave more shits this time, and it worked.” He thought it felt realistic for characters to swear when everything is… well, when the shit hits the fan, so to speak, to not pussy-foot around to keep things universally palatable.

Why use our curses rather than making something fantastical up? Because everything else is translated, too. My characters don’t speak English in their world. If the words “cup,” “hunting,” “dragon,” and “love” are translated, I also translate the swearing when it works. It’s what works for me as a writer, though I do look forward to writing about species that use less-conventional oaths in the future. That should be fun. And there are cases where the world impacts choice of curses. “Gods” instead of “God” for a character who believes in more than one. “Harpy” instead of “bitch,” because that’s really the more vile insult in that world. It’s all about conveying meaning, not going for shock value.

Do some readers hate swearing? Yes.

Do some readers hate “clean reads” that seem awkwardly contrived to avoid realistic language and references to sex?

*raises hand*

It’s all personal taste, and you can’t please everyone. I’ll write what feels right for my stories and characters, as I expect other writers do with theirs. I do think swearing can be over-used to the point where it becomes irritating, or the reader becomes numb to it. I love creative curses, as long as I don’t have to spend too much time figuring them out. But used properly, a well-placed cuss can add a flash of depth or colour to a serious scene, or a bit of humour to another.

“Bad words” are one of many tools available to a writer, no different from metaphors and adverbs and varied sentence length. Just like anything else, we can choose to use them, to over-use them, or to not use them at all to create mood in a scene, establish character, or add impact to a moment in a story.

They just happen to occasionally be a lot more fun than most tools. 🙂

Fun Bonus Fact: The first draft of Sworn included what I (quite modestly) considered the most perfect f-bomb ever. It came from an unexpected character, and in context no other word would have delivered the same impact or meaning. It was absolutely perfect. I was certain my alpha readers or editor would tell me to cut it, but I had to have it just for my own satisfaction. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the story changed, things shifted around, and that moment was no longer essential to the story, so the Big Bad F-Bomb got cut.

This is what they mean when they say “kill your darlings.” Even when something pleases you as a writer, sometimes it has to go for the good of the story as a whole.

*Paraphrased, I can’t find my notes. Okay, that’s a lie. I haven’t had coffee, I’m lazy, and searching through those notes seems like a poor use of time I could be spending on getting the next book ready for edits.


Another One Flies the Nest

This is it.

This is the last day when Torn gets the spotlight, at least in my office. Starting tomorrow, it’s all about book three (which I will use the proper title for soon, I promise–I just don’t want to spoil it for the first people who discover it at the end of Torn).

Today, though, we celebrate.

We celebrate a little over two years of off-and-on work. The struggle of a skeletal first draft, the joys and pressures of revisions, the triumph of positive responses from alpha readers, and the crushing discovery that edits won’t be as easy as anticipated. The months of struggle to make the book what readers need while remaining true to my own vision for the story as a whole.

The frustrations of the publication process.

Even the things that were stressful or seem negative at the time are worth celebrating, because they’re part of a beautiful process. A new book is a victory.

It’s like raising a baby bird, really. You nurture it, encourage it, feed it, and give it tough love when needed… and in the end, you have to shove it out of the nest and let it fly on its own, knowing you’ve done everything you could to prepare it for this day.

Maybe it’s the painkillers I’m on right now (hello, migraines that helped inspire this whole story!), but I’m a little weepy.

No. No tears. This is happy, exciting, wonderful!

And in case anyone missed the announcement yesterday, we’re having a party to celebrate. A Facebook party, because I don’t expect all of you to come to my house (you’re welcome).

Here’s the link. Drop by any time between now and about mid-afternoon EST on April 1–we’ve got great prizes!

Ooooooh...

Ooooooh…

 

....Aaaaaaahhhh!

….Aaaaaaahhhh!

Come on down and celebrate with us, won’t you? It’s gonna be fuuuuuuun (and you know it’s true, because I used extra letters).

TORN purchase links:


Consider Yourself Invited

Yep, we’re having a party to celebrate Torn’s ebook release tomorrow, and you’re invited!

release party promo 1

We’ll have chances to win paperback and ebook copies of Torn, as well as other great prizes. Watch for the author AMA (ask me about writing, publishing, the stories or characters, whatever!), a party playlist, a scavenger hunt, flash giveaways, guest authors, and more!

Mmmm... papery and yummy

Mmmm… papery and yummy

Here’s the party link. Events will be posted between 2:00 and 9:00 PM EST on March 31, but will be left open overnight in case anyone wants to drop in and add responses to games/activities. Winners will be selected at random on April 1 (no foolin’).

See you there!

(Please note: March 31 is the official e-book release date. Paperbacks will be available as soon as formatting issues are sorted out. Party prizes will be sent out soon after… and the party is not endorsed/sponsored/etc in any way by Facebook, etc).


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