Tag Archives: dragon

Bound (Bound Trilogy Book One) FREE for a limited time!

I know, I know. Too much promotion here these days, right?

I promise I’ll be back with something else when I have anything interesting to share with you. Right now I’m buckling down, trying to avoid wasting time on social media, and working on getting the first three books I’ll be releasing under my pen name ready for publication. There’s a lot going on here… it’s just behind the scenes.

I do have one bit of excitement to share, though! For the first time ever, Bound is free on all of its regular ebook retailers! Whether you read on Kobo, iBooks, Nook, Kindle, or those smaller ones whose names I can never remember, I’m giving the ebook away.

I wish I could say I had a big strategic reason for doing this, but honestly? It was the end of winter, I was in a funk, and not much lifts my spirits like giving something away. And between this and the paperback giveaway I just wrapped up with my newsletter type people*, I’m having a pretty good time.

Besides, we’re coming up on Bound’s third anniversary as a published book. Why not invite some new people in to explore this world and get to know my beloved characters?

So if you haven’t started the series yet, check out the links at books2read.com/bound. If you have read and enjoyed these books, why not offer a recommendation to a book-loving friend? This offer is only going to be on for a few weeks, and when it’s over, I don’t know whether or when it will happen again.

Enjoy!

Bound free promo rectangle

 

*Newsletter subscribers get the VIP treatment. Giveaways, bonuses, free stuff… want to join in? Visit my site to sign up, then watch your inbox (or spam folder) for the confirmation email. Add me to your contacts so you don’t miss anything, and enjoy!

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Bound A-Z: R is for Ruby (or: How to offend a dragon)

R

No sudden moves, guys.

I’ve invited Ruby here for an interview. This may have been a mistake, but we’ll see how it goes. We’re going to head out to the back yard now, as she definitely doesn’t fit into my office. Just walk quietly, stay behind me, and observe.

Oh. For anyone just joining us, Ruby is a dragon. A big, red, hot-and-smoky, not-quite-trustworthy (but kind of interesting), four-legged and two-winged dragon.

Let’s go, before the neighbours start to complain.

SCENE: backyard with a white picket fence. A massive dragon, her back rising higher than the neighbour’s bungalow roof, lies curled on the grass.

Ruby: *snorts, filling the air with the scent of wilting grass* What do you want now?

KS: Just a few questions. I asked readers in my Facebook group what they’d like to know about you, and–

Ruby: Your what group?

KS: It’s a human thing in this world. You can talk to people who aren’t there, see pictures and know what’s going on with them.

Ruby: I thought that was what you did for a living.

KS: No, it’s… Huh. Actually, I guess I do. Shall we get started?

Ruby: If it pleases your imaginary friends. *stretches, claws outstretched, digging deep paths into the lawn*

KS: Okay, then. Um… Kathy D wants to know about the father of your dragonlings. If the topic isn’t a sensitive one, of course.

Ruby: *chuckles* Of course not. Strange how humans are so easily offended by things as natural as producing young. This clutch, or the ones before them? Or the ones before them? Or–

KS: Any would be fine, but I think she meant the current… batch.

Ruby: Clutch, if we’re speaking of egg-laying. I don’t care enough to remember. He didn’t have a name, of course. Most dragons don’t have hapless young humans wandering into their private caves to bestow them. He was blue, with green eyes like mine. A handsome creature and strong, but quite young. He tried to lurk in my territory after I was done with him. We couldn’t have that, of course. He might have been a threat to the young ones when they hatched. I took care of the problem.

KS: *shuffles through notes* Okay, we’ll just leave that one alone. Maggie V wants to know whether you like ketchup.

Ruby: I like to catch up to what I’m hunting. Is that what you mean?

KS: There’s some quote about “beware of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup,” or something like that. It’s a seasoning sauce. With tomatoes.

Ruby: How horrid. *tilts head* I might try it, though.

KS: Maybe later, then. I have a request from Jennifer C about your past. How old you are, why you’re bothering to talk to humans. Anything.

Ruby: *narrows eyes* Now that is offensive. What have you heard?

KS: Nothing that’s not in the books. *moves chair farther away* We know it’s unusual for a dragon to take an interest in humans, that only older dragons can speak, and that most wouldn’t let humans go after interacting with them.

Ruby: *smiles* Then how do you know more don’t talk? Perhaps we just destroy the evidence of conversations like this one.

KS: *wipes sweat from brow* Fair enough. Would you rather move on?

Ruby: It doesn’t matter. I have found myself in a strange position these past few years. As I grow older, my mind is changing. Humans seem to think that becoming more like you should be desirable, but it’s not so. Internal conflicts and unanswerable questions and motivations that go beyond the basics of survival and procreation…

*shudders*

KS: You’re saying your life was simpler before?

Ruby: Infinitely.

KS: So why take an interest? Why not cling to what you once were, which as I understand it is the dragon ideal, instead of letting tasty humans live in exchange for stories and such? It’s almost as though you want friendship.

Ruby: Mind your words, human. *drums claws on the ground* The truth is that I don’t know. I’m hardly a respectable dragon anymore, I hate what I’m becoming, and yet it fascinates me. I want to know more about the lives of other creatures, to see what happens in the world and what effect I have on it with my actions or non-actions. It’s disgusting. Move on.

KS: You didn’t say how old you are.

Ruby: *glares*

KS: Moving on. Stephanie S says, “you’re a very seasoned dragon–”

Ruby: I’ll season you for supper with that catch-up stuff if you don’t drop it.

KS: Hey, it’s not my question. Be nice, or I’ll find a Sorcerer who can turn you into a salamander. The last book’s not out yet. I’m sure we could fit it in.

Ruby: You wouldn’t dare.

KS: Try me. Stephanie wants to know whether there are any memories you’d like to share.

Ruby: Oh, certainly. I’m thinking now of back when the people of Darmid arrived in my lands, after they overthrew the magic-wielding humans who ruled them in the west. *chuckles* They were determined to rid their land of magic, and thought themselves so prepared to do so after their little scuffle. A group of them settled not far from my old home. I left them alone for the most part, but they insisted on hunting me. I moved on eventually, though never far enough for their liking. But before I left, I crept into their town in the middle of the night and set fire to a string of houses. You should have heard the screams. And one who fancied himself a proper magic hunter chased me with a long sword. Again, this was early days, and they were hardly refined in their techniques. I pinned him down, and with one claw opened his torso like I was removing his clothing. His innards–

KS: You know, that might be enough memories. Emma C wants to know your favourite colour, and Shannon A wants to know what you wish you’d done differently in your life.

Ruby: *rolls eyes, feigns choking to death, then lifts head* Are we talking about regrets, now? I’m not that much like you people. And I like chartreuse.

KS: Really?

Ruby: No. Red. And gold is so pretty…

KS: Shannon also wants to know what you’d like as a present, but I’m guessing gold would be the answer to that, too.

Ruby: No.

KS: No?

Ruby: I want the rest of the magic hunters who killed my young one not so long ago. Alive. They have much to answer for.

KS: We’ll have to look into that, though a few have been taken care of. Sarah H asks what you like to eat when humans aren’t available, and whether men or women taste better.

Ruby: *laughs* That’s more like it. Actually, humans aren’t my favourite meal. I prefer horses or deer. Fleet-footed herbivores in general. As to the other part of that… Women. But I’ll tell you that humans with magic in their blood taste better than those without.

KS: *absently* I’d heard that.

Ruby: From whom?

KS: *looks up* Um. Humans. From your world.

Ruby: *perks up* Were they consuming the flesh of their enemies?

KS: What? No. It’s… never mind. *clears throat*

Ruby: Do go on.

KS: Oh look, another question. Is there any creature you don’t like? This is from Shannon again.

Ruby: *scowls* Shannon’s nosy. I don’t like most creatures. It would be faster to list those I do like.

KS: Would you?

Ruby: No. And you’re not on the list. Last question, now.

KS: Scott H wants to know when you’re going to take over the world.

Ruby: YES. *slams fist on the ground* That’s a proper question. And the answer is “when I choose to.” *stretches her head high to look over the fence* Actually, I might take this one. Now that you mention it…

KS: Annnnnnd that wraps up my interview with Ruby. Ruby the wonderful and benevolent and not-taking-over-the-world dragon. Anything else you’d like to add?

Ruby: Yes. Tell your minions that if they ever encounter a dragon they should leave it alone. As I said, you’re not all that tasty, but we do what we must.

KS: Okay, then. Thanks for coming.

Ruby: And thank you for not making this the least interesting day I’ve spent in recent years. It was close, but you pulled it out at the end. Now, speaking of not tasty, tell me more about these humans who you claim told you–

Kate: *approaches cautiously, whispers in Ruby’s ear*

Ruby: *wrinkles snout* That’s disturbing on so many levels.

Kate: Goodnight, folks!

Big thanks to everyone on my Facebook page and group who provided questions for the interview! I hope the answers were satisfactory.

If you don’t want to miss out on future fun, join us at http://www.facebook.com/katesparkesauthor


Bound A-Z: C is for Cave Fairies & Creatures

Here comes a post that makes me wish I were a better artist.

Cave fairies were introduced in Bound when Rowan met Jasper. Actually, I’ll just let her describe him for you:

The moth thing buzzed closer, and I saw that it wasn’t an insect at all, but a tiny man with a round belly and long, thin limbs. The wings that fluttered on his back were the color of dust, and a thin layer of fuzz in the same shade covered his body. His disproportionately large, black eyes studied me, and then he grunted and buzzed back to sit on Cassia’s shoulder.

Not exactly Tinkerbell or a dainty little garden fairy.

This is one of my favourite things about world-building: the creatures. It’s fun trying to find a balance between the familiar and the new. And balance is a good thing. It’s not all that exciting to read about species that are just as they’ve always been portrayed, with nothing new added. On the other hand, when every creature is new and novel, I find it’s incredibly difficult as a reader to keep them all straight.

“Was the fanglorious dobblewowser the one that has six legs and two teeth, or the thing that looks like an elf, talks like an elf, and acts like an elf, but TOTALLY ISN’T AN ELF BECAUSE IT GLOWS IN THE DARK AND IS NOT CALLED AN ELF?”

Next week we’ll take a look at the dragons of Serath (the larger land where the bound Trilogy takes place, though dragons exist in other places in that world, as well*), but today I thought we’d look at some of the creatures that may seem familiar in some respects, but hold a few surprises, as well.

CAVE FAIRIES: See above. These guys are frequently grouchy, as they hibernate much of the year. Or they just really like their naps, we’re not entirely sure. They’re reclusive and well-camoflaged, and rarely leave their caves. They’re not attractive creatures, but useful if you can get on their good side. There are other types of fairies around, but these are the only ones we’ve met so far.

HORSES: There are a few types of horses in Serath. The first would be nearly indistinguishable from the horses of our world. These horses have little to no magic in their blood, just as the Darmish people like things. At the other end of the spectrum we have the Tusker, an apparently demonic creature with hoofsteps that shake the earth, an ear-piercing scream, and a thirst for blood. In the middle are the “regular” horses of Tyrea and Belleisle: horses that look much like those in Darmid, but with heavier jaws and teeth designed for consuming meat as much as vegetation. Highly adaptable, intelligent, and hardy, they’re perfect travel companions–if you can earn their trust.

Then we have the flying horses, fine-boned creatures of the sky, blessed with the ability to speak. And there are rumors of unicorns, though few are so lucky as to see one.

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MERFOLK: The merfolk of this world are not half-fish, as they’re generally depicted in our world. They’re warm-blooded, but able to breathe underwater as well as on land. They appear entirely human when in that form, and nearly human from the waist up when in true mer form, if you can get past the greyish skin tone. Their tails are covered in smooth skin and end in thick flukes. Picture them as half dolphin if that helps, though they’d prefer not to be thought of as half-anything. The merfolk are a proud species all their own, and existed in that world long before the arrival of the first humans.

GRYPHONS: Half lion, half eagle, the gryphons of Serath are actually pretty typical of what we’re used to… so far. But then, the characters we’re visiting with don’t have a lot of experience with them. Who knows what secrets they’re hiding?

AEYER: The winged people of the northern mountains in Tyrea. I still have a lot to learn about these guys, who are most decidedly not angelic types. A fact-finding safari may be in order. Wish me luck.

SEA MONSTERS: We’ve only seen one (called “Fangface” by Kel, though I doubt that’s what the natural history books would say), but the seas are full of dangerous, beautiful, and fascinating creatures. Between the fresh-water dragons and the threats below the surface of the sea, life on land can seem tame in comparison.

CENTAURS, ELVES, GOBLINS, TREE FAIRIES, AND OTHERS: The world is so large, and one story so little time to experience all of it. Perhaps some day…

TELL ME: Did I miss anything you were curious about? What creatures do you love to read about, and what twists on traditional favourites have been your favourites in your reading adventures?

 

 

*You didn’t think these stories covered everything, did you? There’s a big, wide, wondrous world out there we’ve yet to explore, friends…


COVER REVEAL: Torn (Bound Trilogy Book 2) by Kate Sparkes

At last, the time has come!

I’m not going to tease, or make you wait any longer. I’m pleased as punch, proud as a peacock, and flipped-out as a fairy to present the cover and back-cover blurb for Torn (available now for pre-order through Amazon!)

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cover art by Ravven (www.ravven.com)

 

Aren Tiernal knows that safety is an illusion, that his cruel and powerful brother will never forgive his betrayal. Still, returning to Tyrea to challenge Severn for the throne would be suicide. It’s not until Severn himself comes to collect what’s owed to him that Aren decides to risk everything in an attempt to bring down the most powerful Sorcerer Tyrea has ever known. The mission seems doomed to fail, but it’s Aren’s only chance to save himself, his country, and the woman who thawed his heart.

Rowan Greenwood has troubles of her own. Though she should be a great Sorceress, years of being closed off from her magic have left her unable to control her incredible power. When a pair of ominous letters arrive from her home country, Rowan has to choose between her new life and a chance at saving her family—and just maybe changing an entire country’s beliefs about the evils of magic.

Torn apart by separate quests, Rowan and Aren will have to discover untapped strengths and confront their darkest fears in order to overthrow a ruler determined to destroy them both.

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Coming March 31, 2015. Pre-order here!
And as an “author’s birthday, so why the heck not” celebration, Bound is now on sale on all retailers (Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo) for 99 cents! The sale is only on for a week, so if you or anyone you know has been waiting for this, now would be a great time to grab it.
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Special thanks to everyone who’s helping out with the cover reveal today (yay, you guys!). If you want to stop by and say hello to these wonderful folks, here are the links. Shares and re-blogs are always appreciated!
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Signed Paperback Giveaway

We have so much to celebrate!

Tomorrow is Bound’s three month… um… bookaversary? That works.

Distrgard the Prologue has passed 500 followers (hi, new kids!).

The Facebook page has reached 300.

Even with overlap, I think that means it’s time to have some fun.

I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of Bound to one lucky reader, just to say thank you to all of you for your support. I like you guys. You’re cool.

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Keep it, read it, share it, give it to someone for a gift… whatever you like.

I can’t figure out how to embed this thing, so you’ll need to click on the link below. You earn entries for commenting on this blog post, liking my page on Facebook, and following on Twitter. All of the above, if you want more entries, but just one is fine. Entries are open until October 1.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll also throw in a few postcards for you. You can use them as bookmarks, share them with friends, sleep with them under your pillow in the hopes of dreaming of your favourite character… whatever you like.

Just a reminder that I’m also running a giveaway on Goodreads, if you haven’t entered that one.

That’s two paperbacks available! And with Canada Post’s shipping rates, I’m afraid that’s all I can do. Starving artist here, people! 🙂

So there you go. Have at it. Refer a friend. If I did this thing right, you can tweet every day for more entries.

And thank you. So much.

Okay, back to work.


B is for Bestiary.

Know what’s the Most Fun Thing about writing Fantasy?

I don’t.

Really. There are too many things to choose from. Creating a world? Playing with magic, setting limits and then exploring what’s possible within them? The ability to throw nearly anything at your characters to screw up their plans? Planting familiar human struggles in a strange world?

Maybe. But one of the things I have the most fun with is creatures. Animals. Mythical beasts, both previously known and not. Setting them free in a world and seeing what happens.

You’d recognize many of mine. You like dragons? I’ve got ’em. Young and nasty ones, old and… well, they’re different. I was going to give you a snippet for WIPpet Wednesday of Aren explaining dragons, but it just doesn’t work as a snappy excerpt, and y’all have enough to read from me this week.

But yeah, we’ve got dragons here. They don’t play a huge role in the story, but they’re vitally important to the larger world that it’s set in, and they do make several appearances.

Rawr. (bestiary.ca)

What else have we got? Gryphons (see above). A species (sub-species?) of winged humans known as the Aeyer. Flying horses, too. Merfolk. Cave fairies. Rumors of unicorns, unconfirmed by any of my characters as of right now. Sea monsters and water dragons. Humans, magical and not. And then there are the animals you’d be familiar with: cats, dogs, eagles, rabbits, geese, horses… well, you’d be familiar with a small number of the horses. The native ones are a little different.

Maybe that’s the Most Fun Thing about writing Fantasy. We get to take the everyday and stand it on its head, take it apart and re-build it into something better or more sinister or more challenging. If we want horses to be omnivorous beasts that are better suited to our world, we can do that. If we want dragons to be quick and nearly mammalian or slow and cold-blooded as any lizard from our world, who’s going to say we’re wrong?* As long as we’re consistent and work within the world and the rules we’ve set out**, we can do as we please. When we’re staring at the blank page at the beginning of a new project, there are no limits.

Huh. Maybe that’s why I don’t write anything set in our world. And why I find real life boring. And…

For more A-Z Challenge goodness, click on over here!

 

*No offense to lizards. I like them a lot. I just think that being cold-blooded must be a pain sometimes.

**Which means no inventing new creatures or magical abilities just to get the hero out of a jam. Be consistent and at least foreshadow that stuff, dude.

 


WIPpet Wednesday: Dragon Country

I had a moment of panic a few days ago.

EPIC MOMENT OF DESPAIR.

I went into Scrivener to find the work I did for NaNoWriMo in November, and guess what?

It’s gone. I have three versions I started, and none of them contain more than five chapters. My brain melted. I may have called Scrivener some unflattering things (and we’re usually SUCH good buddies).

In short, I was pissed.

The good news is that I’d done a compile in PDF format, so I can read it over in Acrobat and make notes. The bad news is that I can’t copy and paste that into Scrivener, because the formatting just doesn’t work. But hey, I’ll take what I can get. And the read-over could be worse. I already have pages of notes, but I’m getting everything on to index cards and working out problems and trying to figure out exactly how much I have to know about mer anatomy for this one if Kel is going to… Well. Whatever. It’ll work out.

Today, five (rough, sorry) paragraphs that I’m just reading over now, plus one bonus line because I love Aren. This is from Torn, the sequel to Bound (which I usually share from). Aren has taken off on a cross-country journey to try to find his father, who disappeared more than three years ago. He’s already had a few shocks and some major difficulties, because why would I make things easy for him? But he has a promising lead…

There were no dragons in those first days, and no towns or
roadside inns.

We travelled for two days and nights. I let the horse forage
where he could, and did my hunting as an eagle when there was
game nearby. I slept in that body, too, forced by the
frigid night winds to take whatever form would keep me from
freezing.

The morning of the third day brought us to the shore of a
large lake of uneven shape, with bays and inlets hiding much of
the shore from view. Clouds reflected on the wind-ruffled
surface, but otherwise the space seemed peaceful. The grass-covered shores sloped toward the water, dotted with low shrubs. I removed my things from the saddle and let the horse loose.

“It seems the dragon infestation claims are overblown,” I
said to the horse. He looked up, twitched an ear, and went back
to eating. It wouldn’t have surprised me if the stories about
dragons were exaggerated to keep us southerners away. Though
Tyrea was united as one country, the outer provinces often
seemed to resent us, perhaps forgetting what life had been like
before my father’s rule.

A flash of movement caught my eye, and I spun around in
time to see my horse pulled into the water, his neck caught in
the jaws of a massive black water dragon. The dragon stayed near
the surface, watching me from eyes placed high atop its head as
the horse thrashed, then stilled. A moment later, both shapes
disappeared into the depths of the lake, leaving only
reflections to hide what hid below the surface.

“Well, shit.”

For more WIPpety goodness, swing on by the very busy KL Schwengel’s blog, say hi, and click on the linkie in the upper right. SO MUCH WIPPET.

ROW80 Update

See above for EPIC MOMENT OF PANIC. Not much else to report, really. Had I finished that read-through of Bound when I last checked in? Well, I have now. I’ve done what I can. Still waiting to hear that Mister Editor is ready for me to catapult that on over. Reading through Torn now, obviously, and then I’ll get back to work on that or the vampires. Torn should probably take precedence (what with the need for getting sequels out quickly and all), but we’ll see what happens.

Well, I’m off to take the dog for a walk. It might not last long. It’s -16 C here, with the wind chill around -30 (-22 F to you American types). TOO DURN COLD. But I do feel a lot better when I get out for walks, even if I can’t feel my legs by the time I get back, and I might need to drop Jack back at home half-way through.

Boxers aren’t built for winter.

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Pictured: Not winter

I’m trying some other health-related stuff that’s working out well, but we’ll save that for another post.

I hope you’re all having a good week, wherever you are and no matter how cold it is. Let me know what you’re up to…


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