Tag Archives: publishing

COVER REVEAL: Beast & Beauty by Kate Sparkes

Hey! That’s me! ūüėÄ

Here’s the story. I mean, not the story… that’s coming February 23. But the story ABOUT the story.

I’ve been hard at work on my vampires since October (and before that, but that’s another story). I love them. They’re wonderful. They’re dark and delicious and bloody and sexy and fast-paced and¬†they’re TOTALLY my front-burner project right now.

But isn’t it fun to play in another sandbox sometimes, just to get a break?

Back in December, I was asked whether I’d be interested in participating in a fairy tale romance short story anthology. Word count under 8,000¬†words, due in January.

WOULD I? I love fairy tales! I love romance! And the kicker was that I could do whatever I wanted, including setting it in one of my worlds.

It would have been perfect had I been able to come up with a story I thought I could do justice to in that small word count, but I couldn’t. I mean, I could have told the story, sure. But the one I wanted to tell would have felt really sparse and rushed at that length.*

But once those ideas start bouncing around, it’s hard to set them aside. Especially when it’s Christmas, you’re supposed to be “off work,” and you’re itching to write something a little different from that Urban Fantasy you’re working on.

Or maybe that’s just me.

In any case, Beast & Beauty was born. It looks nothing like the original concept I came up with for a twist on Beauty and the Beast, but I’m totally in love with it. It’s set in Elurien several years before Into Elurien, in the midst of the monster revolution. Queen Verelle is very much alive and showing her true colours, and a timid cervid named Nava is about to get way more adventure than her heart ever desired.

beast-beauty-kindle

Can’t wait for a bit of sweet fairy tale romance, big adventure, and another visit to Elurien?

Well, I’ve got good news. This gorgeous little novella is coming on February 23, 2017… and it’s going to be absolutely FREE.

Yep, this one is a newsletter exclusive, and I’ll be sending the links out on my birthday (because hey, I like giving gifts as much as I like getting them).

Not signed up yet? Visit my website and click the newsletter tab at the top. Once you’ve confirmed your subscription (check your spam and promo folders), the gears at Mailchimp will start turning, and you’ll get two free Bound trilogy prequel stories in about 24 hours.

…and this story on the 23rd.

See you then!

*truth be told, there were two I wanted to tell. The other, a revised and expanded version of my flash fiction story “Cinder Ella” will be next, and will likely go out to my pen name’s newsletter list… when she has one.

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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


Sworn Update (“Sorry about the footnotes” edition)

I apologize for not keeping you guys updated as frequently as I said I would. Things have been quiet on the blog and my Facebook page, and will continue to be for a few weeks, at least. I’m putting “Bound A-Z” on hold (I’m not sure how many of you are reading the posts, but I will get back to it and finish the series ASAP). I’m not likely to have any other new content here for a while. I know, becoming a hermit is supposed to be a horrible thing for an author these days, but I have other things to do right now that are more important, and I trust my wonderful readers not to forget about me.

You see, edits came back last weekend, and I’m hard at work.

And it IS hard work. I have a great editor who’s willing to¬†rip a story apart to its foundations if necessary, ask hard questions, and to challenge me to put my best work out into the world. He’s very good at his job, and with his help I’m making a good book great.*

You probably would have been happy with what I had before, but my goal isn’t to make you happy. It’s to blow you away, to keep you up into the wee hours of the morning, and to leave you breathless.

So for anyone who’s curious about the editing process, here’s what’s happening:

I’m taking a good portion of my editor’s suggestions. We won’t go into details here (hi, spoilers…), but it involves rewriting a few scenes, revising others, and¬†generally AWESOMEFYING EVERYTHING.

Sorry for using technical language. *cough*

After the changes are made, it will be back to the beginning to make sure everything is cohesive and consistent with those changes, plus making it all purty-like. This is actually a bigger challenge than rewriting because it involves so much mental juggling and razor-sharp focus.

Note: Writing a book is relatively easy. It’s making it great that’s difficult and time-consuming, and I wish more authors acknowledged that. Editing is gory and messy, and in its own way, wonderful.

So that’s what I’m up to. I have a little less than five hours a day, five days a week, to work. Well… most weeks. With Thanksgiving (hi from Canada!) and several professional whatchamacallum days for the kids’ teachers this month when there’s no school, I’m getting less than that.

And then there are the migraine days when I can’t remember what a fork is called¬†and spend my days and am completely unable to make with the words, but that’s another issue entirely.

The point is,¬†I’m working whenever I can on my shaky part-time schedule. I think, I edit, I rewrite scenes, I face big challenges, and I do what I have to to make this the best story possible.

It’s hard. Really hard. It’s scary for reasons I don’t understand¬†yet, and sometimes it makes me want to build a blanket fort and hide. Possibly with cookies. Definitely with colouring books.

But damned if it this thing isn’t¬†already becoming amazing after just three solid days of work, and I’m excited to see just how great it can be.

Yes, there’s still a lot to be done. No, I don’t have a release date yet** (but I’m hoping to announce¬†that and have a cover reveal early next month, if anyone with a blog is interested in helping out).

I’m working hard to make sure that this is worth the wait.

I’ll see you soon.

*For any not-at-editing-yet writer types who are wondering: Yes, it hurts. Yes, every critique is a blow to the ego, though I’m learning to reframe things in my mind. And yes, it is absolutely worth it when the work is done and the story is a hundred times better than it was before. I think I’m a good writer, but I know there’s always room for improvement. And oh, do I want to improve. I used to want to hear that my work was perfect. Now I’d be disappointed in any editor who didn’t call me on every whiff of bullshit and challenge me to do everything better. Good enough just isn’t anymore.

**It will be this winter, and sooner rather than later. It will be less than a year after the release of the last book, which puts me ahead of most big publishers’ series release schedules in spite of the fact that I’m doing everything on my own. In spite of my Canadian tendencies, I’m no longer¬†going to apologize for¬†editing delays or for the fact that I can’t focus on work for the eight, ten, or twelve hours a day that would allow me to whip out two books a year. I’m focusing on quality, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for every reader who supports me in this. You guys are the best, and you deserve my best. I thank you for your understanding¬†and patience, and for not¬†going all Veruca Salt on my ass. ‚̧


Writing Resources: For Love or Money by Susan Kaye Quinn

A quick book review today, and one that will be mostly of interest to writers.

Okay, almost strictly of interest to writers.

You might be familiar with Susan Kaye Quinn¬†from her book The Indie Author Survival Guide. If you haven’t read it, you’ve probably heard me mention it (assuming you’ve been around long enough. Hi, new guys!). ¬†It’s a fantastic resource for any indie writer, whether you’re new to this* or an experienced author looking to brush up on how to approach book production and marketing.

That book is the kind of how-to guide that feels like an older sister (a nice one, not the kind who puts gum in your hair) holding your hand and guiding you through the scary stuff.

For Love or Money is a different beast altogether. It’s not about how to write, or how to publish. It’s about crafting the rest of your career after those first few books, about figuring out what your goals are, why you’re writing and publishing, and how best to reach the top of your chosen mountain.

It’s about writing for love:¬†Telling the stories that move you, the ones you’d write even if no one ever read them.

It’s about writing for money:¬†Figuring out the market and discovering your own voice within a tight genre framework.

And it’s about doing both. Ms Quinn writes “mercenary” fiction (strictly for money) under a pen name, and she talks about finding joy in the work she does there. She talks about taking ideas that you love and shaping them so that they fit the market, thus allowing the books you write for love to become money-makers. And she talks about how it’s just fine to have both kinds of books out there.

I enjoyed this book¬†enough that I¬†read it in a day (during a long reading slump, no less). I’ll share a few of the lessons I took away from it, but it’s definitely worth grabbing a copy and reading it for yourself (though you should definitely read IASG first, as this one refers back to it).

My take-aways:

  • Not every book has to be a bestseller. When one book (say, a first book) has some measure of success, there can be a lot of pressure to repeat that with every new project or series. It’s comforting to know that if I decide to work on a project I love that might resonate with fewer readers, that’s okay. Writing for love is healthy, and sales will vary over the course of a career.
  • Writing for the market, aiming to please a larger number of people by writing books that cater to the genre tropes people love, is not selling out. It’s a unique form of creative challenge, and one that can net huge rewards (even outside of the money). There’s nothing wrong with actually wanting to make money off of our hard work, and predicting what will sell isn’t impossible.
  • I have my whole career ahead of me. If I decide to genre-hop instead of staying with a successful world and premise, that’s okay. It may put the brakes on things, but not burning out is just as important as maintaining sales numbers. Playing in another sandbox might keep me happier, and therefore help me do better and more meaningful work when I do return to the genre and world that kicked things off for me.

That’s not all, but those were the things I most needed to hear.

This book helped be choose the mountain I want to climb: writing stories I want to read, shaped to enthrall a large audience… most of the time. I don’t think I’ll ever be a mercenary writer, churning out dragon porn to make a quick buck (though I could totally kick ass at that, guys).¬†Stories that are purely “for love”, i.e. too non-genre-specific to find much of an audience, will go on the back burner until I’m at a place financially where I can afford for them to flop and not have to stress out about it.

Reading this book helped me step back, look at my career goals, and decide where I want to go.

And that’s huge.

Check out Susan Kaye Quinn’s site here for links.

*New to this as I was the first time I read it, that is. In fact, the IASG, Be the Monkey (Konrath and Eisler), and Let’s Get Digital¬†(Gaughran) were the three books that convinced me that indie publishing was the path I wanted to take, and I’m mind-explodingly grateful to the authors of all of them. If not for these books, Bound could still be making the rounds of slush piles, or badly published and nearly unread. *shudder*


Snow Day (Or: How I Decided to Participate in ROW80 Again)

I’ve been on the fence about participating in A Round of Words in 80 Days this year. It’s a fantastic event-type-thing, and accountability is a great way to stay on-track with goals. It’s fun to meet other writers and read their posts, learn from their frustrations and share in their joy when things are going well.

But.

Well, I do worry about boring blog readers, which is why I only post updates on Wednesdays to go along with WIPpet Wednesdays. There was a time when most of the people following this blog were writer friends, but we’re gaining more and more of my readers (hi, guys! So happy to have you!).

It’s almost like I need a writing blog and an actual website for readers, isn’t it? But this is my home. This is where I stretch out, make myself comfortable, and talk about the things that are important to me. Reading, writing, life, headaches, distractions, moose sightings, cover reveals and other author promos, pretty pictures and fun teasers… there aren’t really any limits.

So everything stays here, for better or worse.

I didn’t make the decision until I realized that today was the first day of round one. See, I was looking forward to getting back to work today, as the kids are back to school.

Or they should have been. But it’s a snow day.¬†So instead of retreating to my office with a coffee, I’m at the kitchen table writing this post.

Funny how things work out.

I’ll probably stick with just posting updates on Wednesdays. Twice a week doesn’t allow much time for change between updates. Wouldn’t want to bore anyone who’s getting e-mail dings every time I post.

 

And guys? This is going to be a big round (ends March 26).

**ROW80 ROUND ONE GOALS (2015)**

 

WRITING

Proof-read Bound: Yes, I did this before publication. Many times. So many times that I still can’t really enjoy reading it. But I’ve re-formatted the e-book in a program that allows me to make it look nicer AND to make corrections without knowing HTML stuff, so I need to go over that.

Also, there’s a big, secret thing happening, and I need this book to put its absolute best foot forward for it. I’ve caught 2 typos. Moved a few commas. Changed a word or two. Tiny fixes. Nothing has changed with story, characters, dialogue, anything. Nooooo revisions. So no worries, dear readers. It’s like dusting the shelves (but hey, hang on to those first-edition paperbacks…).

Goal: Finish by Wednesday, January 7 (currently at 70% finished)

 

Edits on Torn: My editor says he plans to have these back to me by the end of this week.

**WOO, PARTY!!!**

We had some delays in getting started, but I’m ready to work hard to get through this as efficiently as possible. How long it actually takes will depend on the scope of revisions required. My beta readers didn’t tell me to make any big story changes… we’ll see what the editor says. I had to re-write sections of Bound after he got his hands on it (and thank goodness for that!).

Goal: Come what may, finish by the end of January.

 

Other Torn stuff: I need to be super organized on this goal, which includes proof-reading, sending it out to a few readers who have offered to act as true beta testers and error-catchers, formatting, setting up pre-orders, having someone format the paperback, sending paperback info to my cover artist so she can do the wrap-around cover, doing promo stuff for Bound once pre-orders are up for Torn…

And also organizing the cover reveal, the first chapter release, creating teaser pics, pulling my hair out, angst, stomach upset… I’m swamped.

Goal: Varies. Set up pre-orders by mid-February. Other events to follow. Advance review copies (offered to newsletter subscribers first) sent out early March.

 

Release Torn: Yes, before the end of this round. As I’ve said before, I’d rather release late than release something that’s not ready, but I’m confident that we can pull this off, even if I have to turn into an unwashed editing-cave troll to do it.

*grunts, shuffles, squints at sunlight*

I’ll keep you updated on that, and announce an official release date soon.

 

Bound Trilogy Book Three: Obviously I’m going to be busy with Torn through this round. But I need to keep moving forward with book three if I want it out by the end of the year. It’s looking good, but I’ve had a few ideas on how to make it better, smoother, more satisfying, and more epic. Those revisions will take place in March while all of the fiddly, non-writing stuff is happening with Torn (I hope). Then it’s off to my wonderful first readers for a test drive, and then whatever punishments they decide to hand me afterward. FUN.

Seriously, though, I will never understand how some authors get a book from first draft to release in two or three months. Between developmental edits, line edits, two rounds of readers, and corrections, never mind the three drafts I do before any of that happens… not a schedule I can hope to achieve.

READING

Still aiming for one novel and one non-fiction book a month. Right now I’m reading UnSouled by Neil Schusterman, and then I think the next one by Jenn Wylie is up. But I also just bought Gone Girl, which I’m told I won’t be able to put down… we’ll see what I’m in the mood for. This might be a two novel month. I’m determined to get through “Writing 21st Century Fiction” even though I’ve been stuck on it for a year because it’s dry as bricks and feels like the author is talking down to me. I’ve never had this problem with Donald Maass’ books before. We’ll see how it goes, I might DNF it and give it away. Fiction Unboxed is also in the non-fiction queue, and I’m more excited about that.

LIFE

Aiming for balance, for working during work time, social media-ing during social media time, making more time for housework and giving my family my full attention during their time.

That last one shouldn’t be difficult, but it really is. I know. I’m a horrible person.

^These are not quantifiable goals in this section, but they’re reportable. We’ll see how it goes.

So there we have it. Wish me luck, and if you’re participating in this round, let me know so I can stop by and cheer you on in your goals post!

More ROW80 goodness here.

 


…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.


ROW80 Update: Party Closet Edition

We went on a family adventure to Fogo Island yesterday. I’ll have more pictures and stuff tomorrow, but for now I just have to share one thing.

I found the party closet.

IMG_5887

Tell me that doesn’t sound like a good time right there. It’s on the ferry between Farewell and Change Islands/Fogo. If this is everything you’ve ever wanted out of life, YOU’RE WELCOME.

(And guys? It’s not flame-resistant apparel. It’s a FIREMAN’S OUTFIT.)

Anyway.

Things are going well with my little schedule plan. Sort of. I’m doing really well with the whole “get up early” part.¬†It’s just the “get right to work” thing that’s making me stumble.

I keep getting distracted by the “checking sales and rankings” thing and the “should I be doing some kind of promotion” thing and the “I wonder what my friends are up to on Facebook OMG THAT’S SO WACKY” thing.

I’ll get there. I will.

I’m making progress on Torn, and it’s SO much more epic than the last draft was. I kind of dropped the ball on a romance sub-plot in drafts one and two, and that’s really blossoming now. I’ve figured out a few things that smooth out rough patches in the plot, I’m taking characters to places they’re not too happy about, and I’ve got a whole lot of surprises for anyone who loved Bound.

I’m so excited!

Speaking of Bound, the book in the #1 position had the decency to run out of time for new release eligibility*, so Bound is (at the time of this posting) the¬†#1 Hot New Release in Amazon’s YA Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery category! It’s on the charts in a few others, but that’s my big, happy excitement for the day. I also woke up to a beautifully written review, so that was WICKED GOOD.

Mini-goals for this week: Finish up this one character’s scenes, move on to Aren’s (which should be my biggest challenge, because DUDE. Ugh. I love him, but this is a tough¬†story to balance in terms of not letting him get too emo). Contact a few book reviewers if I can get my nerve up. Get on that blog post for tomorrow. Maybe do a few more promo pics, though I’m not sure how much good they actually do. Finish reading last week’s WIPpet Wednesday posts. Read other blogs.

But the priority is writing.

And also housework.

Ick.

 

*I’m pretty sure it was out-selling my book by 10 to 1, so this really was the only way I was going to get there.


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