Tag Archives: indie publishing

COVER REVEAL: Death at Peony House by Krista Walsh

Hey, everyone! I’m SO excited to be a part of this cover reveal today! Not only is Krista a good friend of mine AND one of my favourite authors, but I may… kind of… sort of be 100% sure that this is a fantastic new series of urban fantasy novels.

I kind of have an in. All I’m saying.

I KNOW THINGS.

*ahem*

Anyway, the prequel novella, The Invisible Entente, is out now. And we’ll see Daphne’s story soon. And then… I can’t say. But it’s amazing. If you like your this-world fantasy brought to you with a side of classic mythology and amazing adventure, you definitely want to check this one out.

Details on this book below. But first, LOOK AT THIS COVER! Created by the ever amazing Ravven.

peony_promo

I love Ravven. *sigh*

ANYWAY. Check this out. Then grab your copy of The Invisible Entente (free with Kindle Unlimited!) so you’ll be ready for this one when it comes out on September 20 (!!!!!!)

Sorceress and journalist Daphne Heartstone heads to Peony House, the city’s abandoned hospital, in search of a headline, but what she discovers is a dead body and a clue to a hundred-and-fifty-year-old cold case.

Detective Hunter Avery, the man Daphne loved and lost, warns her away from the case, but the ghosts of Peony House have demanded her help, and her job is on the line if she doesn’t have a story on her editor’s desk for Saturday’s edition.

Daphne has worked hard to escape her past of dark magic and blind ambition, but as she walks the balance between light and dark, she’ll learn how many promises she’s willing to break to protect the people she loves.

Oooooooooh!

BONUS: I just found out that Krista has got the release party set up! This is a Facebook event, so you can attend from wherever you are, wear whatever you want, eat and drink what you like, and not have to talk to anyone in person. In other words, the perfect party. Here’s the link. Click “interested” and “going” to get updates.

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CRUNCH TIME! :D

Yeah, I put a stupid happy face in the title. It seemed fitting.

The past month or so has been weird for me. I finished up post-alpha reader revisions on Into Elurien several weeks before it was scheduled to go to my editor, and she was kind enough to let me send it in so I’d stop picking at it, and in case she could get to it a bit early.

Sue may be a kindred spirit. She gets it.

Anyway, I had another project to work on after I sent that off. A big one. Probably the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done, in style if not scope or size. It’s a story I’ve been excited about since the idea popped into my head early one morning last year, and I’ve been itching to get to it.

And yet.

This is going to sound horribly unprofessional, especially if you’re familiar with the production styles of other writers, many of whom crank books out in a month, work on two or three books at a time in various states of production, and have no trouble jumping from story to story… but I really hate working on multiple projects.

I just don’t deal well with interruptions. I can’t start working in the morning if I know I’m likely to be interrupted in an hour by Jehovah’s Witnesses*.  I like hours to spread out, get my head into whatever I’m working on… time to procrastinate… I know, it’s a problem. I’m working on it!

My point is, I had a hard time getting momentum on the first draft of The Phoenix Game (working title) when I knew Into Elurien would be coming back before I got through the draft. I like to push through drafts in one go, so the knowledge that I’d be interrupted–even a few weeks down the road–was distracting and demotivating.

So as much as I adore this new book and all of its puzzling challenges, it was actually a relief when I opened my email yesterday to find Into Elurien back safe from edits. I mean, it’s bleeding, but it’s basically cosmetic issues. Big change from my full-length novels, which come back hacked to shreds, requiring a month or more of work to put them back together.

So that’s progress, and I’m excited to get IE done so I can then turn my full attention back to PG and really dig deep into it.

Today I get to return to my beloved Hazel, who’s going to be getting a little character work done to help her story flow well. I get to get reacquainted with Auphel, who’s stealing hearts wherever she goes. And I get to see Zinian again, who’s just… Yeah. It’s getting hard having my heart split between all of my book guys. He’s special. I want one.

What was I saying?

Right. PROGRESS! I’ve got beta readers lined up for the beginning of May. Pre-orders going up May 15. Release day June 15. Parties. Giveaways. Teasers.

And, of course, the cover reveal TOMORROW. AND sending out the newsletter, in which subscribers will meet Zinian for themselves. First excerpt. GAH. Excitement! Flailing!

You can probably tell I’m excited about this book. 😉

Into elurien promo square release month

 

*Yes, they come once a week. They know I’m not converting, but I AM learning a lot about prophecy and beliefs other than my own, which are Totally Useful Things in my line of work. And they’re really nice.


Author Chat: Celine Jeanjean on Sequels

Hi, everyone! Today it’s my pleasure to host a guest author on the blog. If you’ve been hanging around here, or if you follow me on Instagram, you probably know how much I enjoyed The Bloodless Assassin (formerly titled The Viper and the Urchin) by Celine Jeanjean. The sequel, The Black Orchid, is currently available for pre-order and releases tomorrow, so it seemed like a great time to chat with Celine about the unique challenges presented by sequels.

(Cover art by the excessively talented Ravven)

Writing your first book is hard. The next is another beast entirely.

This post is an edited transcript of our recent chat. As interesting as our tangents about cover art (what is with all of the beheaded hot dudes and drowning chicks, anyway?), reacting to reviews, our dogs, and the current state of publishing were, we’ll try to keep this post on topic. 🙂

KS: So, Celine, would you like to give us a quick introduction to what your books are about?

CJ: Sure! The series follows Longinus (the Viper) and Rory (the urchin). Longinus is a pedantic assassin with an inconvenient blood phobia. Rory’s an urchin girl with big dreams of becoming a famous swordswoman. They meet when Rory saves Longinus during an assassination gone wrong and then blackmails him so he’ll teach her swordfighting. It’s pretty much irritation at first sight for them both. They argue, they get on each other’s nerves, and ultimately become very close in a very platonic way.

The books are both fun action capers, they’re a mix of steampunk, non-magic fantasy (in that they take place in another world than ours) and there’s quite a bit of humour. And then each story has a darker mystery running throughout, where Rory and Longinus find themselves fighting to save the city.

KS: And now it’s sequel time.When did you start working on The Black Orchid? Was that something you had drafted before The Bloodless Assassin came out? Did you have an idea of what you wanted to do?

CJ: I had a completely blank slate after Bloodless Assassin was finished. I always wanted each book to work as a standalone, so I had no particular idea of what would happen next, other than Rory and Longinus would get into some trouble together. Likewise, I didn’t get the idea for book 3 until I was nearly done with The Black Orchid. There’s a bit of an emotional thread running throughout the books, in that the characters grow and change over time, but that’s as much as I know before I start writing a story. Although I think I might know the overall story for book 4 already. That might change as I write book 3, mind you. One thing’s for sure, I have so much fun creating new cities that I think Rory and Longinus will do a lot of travelling as the series develops!

KS: And you gave us a fantastic glimpse of that worldbuilding on your blog not long ago. I can’t wait to see what locations you create next! I find your series process interesting. And it strikes me as brave, because I would totally freak out if I didn’t have some idea what was going to happen next. I drafted Torn before Bound’s release, and Sworn before Torn’s release.

CJ: Yours is a continuous story whereas mine are separate stories with a common thread. I imagine if I wrote something like Bound, I’d plan out the whole thing first.

KS: I really had only a vague idea how the larger story would end when I released Bound. I’m glad I did things the way I did for the series, being able to plant seeds in earlier books that would sprout later, but leaving lots of room for exploration. Each book was a really unique experience for me. Did you find you faced different challenges in writing this book compared to what you dealt with for book one?

CJ: Yes absolutely. One of the challenges I found was dealing with the Worst Case Scenario of writing each book. When I was writing Bloodless Assassin, I kept picturing the worst thing that could happen: that nobody read the book (or that a handful of people read it and left 1 star reviews – I could never decide which was worse). But then I told myself that if that happened, then nobody would actually know about my book, so I could quietly retire it and start again from scratch. That made it less scary because I could see how I’d pick myself up if I failed, so most of the time I was just having fun with Bloodless Assassin.

With Black Orchid, I have readers now, and those readers have expectations. Which is a wonderful thing, of course, and I’m incredibly grateful, but I’ve found that this time my Worst Case Scenario is much harder to ignore: the idea of people who loved Bloodless Assassin reading Black Orchid and putting it aside, disappointed. I found myself second guessing what I wrote a lot more. Writing a book 1 in a series is far more freeing because there’s zero expectations, so you can literally just have fun with it. With book 2 there’s definitely a whole lot more pressure. Thankfully I did manage to set it aside most of the time so I’m not quite a basket-case yet.

And then from a more ‘technical’ standpoint, I found that with a sequel you have more of a balance to tread. You want to have the stuff people seemed to love in book 1 but at the same time make book 2 a unique thing that’s not just a rehashing of book 1 (I’m looking at you, bad Hollywood sequels). And part of that for me was trying to make sure there was as much of a sense of discovery in terms of the setting in Black Orchid as there was in Bloodless Assassin, despite it taking place in the same city.

KS: I think we may be kindred spirits. We have the same worries/paranoias. ^_^

CJ: Did you find publishing book 2 harder than book 1?

KS: I think the hardest thing about writing the middle book in a trilogy was making it its own story. None of them are intended as standalones, but each book needed a complete story arc and a definite challenge for each character to overcome, and Torn had to bridge the gap between the beginning and the series climax.

Do you have any advice for authors embarking on the sequel experience?

CJ: I think for sequel writing, the most important thing is keeping reader voices out of your head – even if it’s very positive stuff. One thing I fell prey to while writing Black Orchid was at some point consciously trying to please readers. I wrote this whole (rather large bit) which was totally created on the back of some very nice reader comments — because I really wanted to give them more of the stuff they’d liked. And it was totally wrong for the story and I had to cut it all out. That’s not to say it was worthless, it might even be transformed into a little side novella, but I realised how important it is not to let people into your head as you’re writing.

KS: That’s good advice! I think that was one place where having a definite idea of where my trilogy/story was going helped me. People wanted certain things to happen, and I already knew “no, that’s not going to be a thing,” or “I think this person will be happy about where this goes.”

CJ: Yes, that would really help. Probably a big advantage of trilogies over standalones
Did you know how the whole thing was going to end by the way, from the start?

KS: I knew a few big things, but not exactly how they would happen or how everyone would get there. I’m glad I knew the things I did so I could get those ideas started in earlier books and build to them rather than throwing concepts in at the last minute, but I’m also glad I got to explore and be surprised.

To wrap up:  What do you think makes a strong sequel? You mentioned bad movie sequels. How do you avoid that?

CJ: For me a bad sequel is a sequel written for the wrong reasons. Bad Hollywood sequels for me stink of business men rubbing their hands at how much money they’ll be able to make from it. A sequel has to be written with as much artistic integrity as the first book, and if the story was done at book 1, then it needs to stay done at book 1.

KS: Thanks so much for taking time to chat with me about sequels! I think we’ll need to do this again some time. Unleash all of our ideas on all of those other topics on the world. 🙂

CJ: Thank you so much for having me, this was fun! We should definitely do it again, if only to cover some of our many, many tangents! 😉

Here’s the link to The Bloodless Assassin (which you should all definitely check out–one of my favourite indie books from the past few years), and to the sequel, The Black Orchid. You can find Celine here at her site.

Thanks for joining us!

-K


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


Sworn Cover Reveal

Yes, the day has FINALLY arrived! I’ve had this cover (created, like the first two, by the incredibly talented Ravven) since early this past summer, but wanted to save the big reveal for a time closer to the release date.

And we now have a release date. *whee, party!*

And so much exciting stuff going on, including a SALE! Yep, to celebrate this cover reveal day, the Bound ebook is on sale for 99 cents on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks! I don’t do this often, so if you know someone who’s been waiting for a sale to grab the book and start the series, today would be a great day to let them know about this little treat. 🙂

Visit my website here for the links.

But enough about that.

We’re here about a new book. An exciting book. A massive, twisting, thrilling, heart-pounding conclusion that some of you have been waiting rather impatiently for.

And it’s coming on Friday, January 29, 2016.

Are you ready?

Not every fairy tale ends with “happily ever after.”

The plan was simple: Find Ulric, the lost king of Tyrea, then return him to Luid to reclaim his throne from the tyrant who stole it. But though Aren, Rowan, and Nox accomplished the first part of their task, the rest is proving to be more complicated than any of them imagined.

Severn won’t give up his throne without a fight. Worse, it seems Ulric did not fare as well during his years in captivity as he’s led everyone to believe—and Rowan may not have escaped unscathed, either.

If Nox doesn’t find a cure for the king’s mysterious ailment, Aren will be forced to challenge Severn for the crown. It’s a battle Aren has little hope of winning. And if he does, it will cost him the love and the freedom he’s fought so hard to gain.

sworn_full
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So Long, Farewell…

I’m typing this quickly, and at 5:00 in the morning. There’s a feeling of adventure about being up at this time of day when you’re not used to it. It feels like the days when my parents used to wake us up early so we could get the long drive to my grandparents’ cottage out of the way before:

a) traffic hit in Toronto

or

b) my brother and I were awake enough to “ARE WE THERE, YET?” the whole way

…I’m not actually sure what the reasoning was, there.

The point is, ADVENTURE.

Well, my friends, I’m on a different kind of adventure this morning.

Edits are back, after a few delays in getting started and finished. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s not pretty. There’s more work to do than I’d anticipated based on early reader responses, thanks to some amazing ideas from my editor on how to make this thing kick more ass.

Like, ALL OF THE ASSES.

Mature, I know.

Mature, I know.

It’s the advantage and the disadvantage of getting developmental/substantive edits, I guess. There’s no “I can whip through this in a week by accepting and rejecting line edits,” which I imagine feels pretty sweet. There’s more gnashing of teeth this way, more re-writing of scenes and re-considering of elements, and more hard questions about everything. It leads to more self-doubt, for me at least, and more heartburn.

But damned if it doesn’t lead to a better, stronger, more satisfying and more entertaining book in the end. Bound was good before those big, bad edits. It came out of the fire far better. I’m aiming for the same here, and want to create the most amazing book I can for the readers who are making all of this possible.

So what does this all mean?

For me, it means a lot of hard work. I still want to stick to the time-frame I had planned, but… well, remember when I joked about becoming an editing-cave troll through much of the winter?

I thought at the time that I was exaggerating. I was not.

It means you’re going to see less of me around here, and on Facebook, and elsewhere. That stings. Authors these days are expected to stay on top of social media, and quite frankly, I enjoy it. I love you guys. Chatting with you in comments and posts makes me smile.

But that’s why I need to back off. Because you deserve the best.

Torn is a good story. It’s one I believe in, and one beta readers already loved. And after going through editing notes, I believe it can be great. Better than Bound (and isn’t improvement always the goal?).

It also may mean a delay in the book’s release. It definitely means I’m not putting a firm release date out there until I’m at least through the larger re-writes. If I were free to work on this all day, every day, I’d say there would be no problem sticking to my original goal. But I’m not. Technically, writing’s not my full-time job–my family is, and they’re not going to be pleased if I throw bags of uncooked ramen noodles at them every day for the next few months instead of cooking, or if they have no clean underwear… ever.

I know. Totally unreasonable, right? But I’m basically stuck working the 5 hours a day when the kids are in school, weekends off.

So here’s the plan.

I’m using this up-early time to write this post, and then to go over notes again, read through the line edits, see what changes I’m going to make, and which I’m not. It’s not an easy process, but it’s step one. After that, it’s organizing, brainstorming, re-writes, minor edits, line edits… and then my wonderful second-round beta readers will get their hands on it and tell me how we’re looking.

I’ll keep you all up to date on what’s happening as we go.

Yes, I’d still like to do pre-orders by the end of February. Yes, I’d still like to release in March.

But quality first. This isn’t an assembly line.

It’ll be worth the wait, I promise.


…And Now For The Fun Bits

Not those fun bits. Get your mind out of the gutter.

No, this is the annual post where I make big, ridiculous plans and you can all laugh at me next December. Hooray! We’ll make it a huge event: The Chastisement of the Over-Ambitious and Obviously Deluded Author.

Tickets available now. Get ’em while they’re hot!

Let’s make it good.

*drumroll*

There’s a short story coming as soon as e-book distribution thingies are back from the holiday break. That is, if anyone’s interested in something set almost 20 years before Bound… nothing important happened back then, right? Nah.

We’re going to have a novel that one or two of you have been waiting for. Some kind of a sequel… thing. Torn something something? Yeah, that one.

That’s going to be coming in March. My priority is always going to be quality over speed, but I feel like we can at least have the e-book out by then. I’ll keep you posted.

I will be a giant ball of nerves and stress. You might not see much of me through February.

Then there will be a cover reveal, a first chapter reveal, pre-orders, a launch party on Facebook, giveaways, guest posts, and a whole bunch of other fun stuff.*

So that’ll take us through March.

After Torn is out, it’s back to work for me. Book 3 is drafted, but I’ve just had a bunch of ideas on how to improve it, and this means minor-to-major rewrites. And then there’s everything else that comes after that: beta readers, revisions, editing, etc.

But I’m going to go out on another limb here and say that it’s going to be out before the end of 2015. November. Early. Possibly sooner, but October seems like a terrible month to release a book. We’ll see how it goes.

Does that seem like a long way off to you? Trust me, it doesn’t from where I’m standing. It seems like a huge, crazy goal that’s going to require me to somehow break my distraction addiction.

And in the times when that one is resting or with readers or in editing, I’ll be working on a completely different project. I want four novellas starring a certain vampire that you’ve met before ready to go (or at least ready for editing) by the end of the year. I’m planning a big release of the whole shebang in 2016. But more on that later next year.

I’d tell you what I’ll be working on while those are being published, but it’s too nebulous, too uncertain, and quite frankly too exciting to share right now.

This post is, after all, about 2015.

So, to recap:

  • short story
  • publish Torn
  • party party party party
  • publish ______ (almost said it!)
  • party party party party
  • write a handful of novellas in another genre
  • more partying and/or anxiety

And of course we’ll continue to have fun here. There’s a 95% chance I’ll be moving in the spring, and even if it’s hell for me, I’ll share whatever adventures we encounter along the way in the most amusing way possible. In the summer we’ll take some more trips (Fogo Island was fun, right? Guys?), and along the way we’ll have more promotions and cover reveals for Authors Who Are Not Me.

And the mini aquarium! So fun.

And the mini aquarium! Remember? So fun.

On a serious note… I can’t even begin to tell you guys how thankful I am to have had you all in my life this past year. Those of you who have been around for a while gave me the encouragement and kind words I needed to actually push my little project out the door. Some of you went ahead of me and weren’t afraid to talk about your writing and publishing journeys, and I thank you for that. Those of you who have come more recently are the readers I’m doing this for, and your messages, comments, and enthusiasm mean everything to me.

I’m going to stop before I get sniffly. Somebody must be cutting onions over here.

So there we go. Maybe my goals don’t sound like a lot. Maybe they sound insane. But this is what they are.

There are other things in the works… top secret things. But we’ll discuss those another time.

*evil laugh*

*more evil laugh*

*coughing fit*

 

—-

*If you have a blog and would like to help host the cover reveal, release news, an interview, or just about anything else that relates to the book and does not involve embarrassing photos or videos of me**, please let me know! kate.sparkes (at) live (dot) ca

**We can totally post them of you, though.


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