Tag Archives: reading

Coming Soon from Sparrowcat Press…

I know some of you have been waiting. I’ll have the cover/description reveal here on June 1. In the meantime, check out TanithFrost.com for details, and sign up for her newsletter to get a generous four chapter sample of Resurrection! If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy, vampires, steamy romance, and a whole lot of blood-spattered suspense, you’ll want to check this one out.

immortal soulless resurrection cover reveal teaser dark


Newsletter Exclusive Paperback Giveaway!

I know. You get a ton of email, right? It’s easy to miss stuff in the absolute flood of newsletters, ads, and “wait, when did I even sign up for that?”

But this Friday, you’ll want to watch for an email from me. My newsletter subscribers will find out how to enter to win a signed paperback copy of Bound, plus a gold feather ornament and a “create a little magic every day” bookmark. It’s going to be really easy to enter, chosen totally at random, open internationally, and completely exclusive to subscribers.

If you’re on the list and don’t receive the email, be sure to check your junk folder (or your promo folder if you’re with Gmail and have to put up with that little newsletter-hiding system).

Good luck!

18405666_10155065829880325_934518433_o

 


April Wrap-Up

So… April is over. How did that happen? It seems like I was just setting my goals for this month, and WHOOSH. Gone. Time to set some for May.

Crazy.

I know things have been quiet here while I’ve been focusing on my actual writing work, but here’s a quick recap.

LIFE

Drank a lot of coffee. Drank even more tea. Had a CT scan on my head. Bought myself flowers (not related to any of the previous, but it happened).

My province’s budget came out, and includes massive library closures, larger class sizes in schools, and an additional 10% tax on books (when we’re already the Canadian province with the lowest literacy rate, SWEET DEAL). I get that we need money, but the short-sightedness of all of this blew my mind, and there may have been some ranting on Twitter. *cough*

April is still winter here, even though everyone always forgets that and expects it to be spring. Nine degrees one day, snow the next. At least it’s pretty.

I started Couch to 5K training this month, and just finished week three this morning. What I’m doing now wouldn’t seem like a challenge to most runners, but it is for me. I like the feeling of pushing myself through the hard parts and getting the feeling of accomplishment that comes with that. Of course, I’ve thought of a bunch of ways this is like becoming a writer, but that’s a whole other post.

Screenshot 2016-04-30 13.38.22

Me and my running buddy after week 3, day 1. The snow caught up with us. 🙂

 

READING

According to Goodreads, I read/finished four books in April. The first was You Are A Badass, which was a quick, easy introduction to a lot of self-improvement stuff like overcoming hang-ups (big thing for me, still working on that whole fear of success deal), setting goals, affirmations, visualizations, etc. The casual tone was nice, save for the use of “rill” instead of “really,” which made me want to set the book down and back away slowly. I also read Nail Your Story by Monica Leonelle (interesting take on story structure with ideas and worksheets I’ll be using in the future), The Bear Went Over the Mountain by William Kotzwinkle (fun story a friend sent me ages ago and I finally had time to read), and The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (lovely adventure/fantasy-with-no-magic romance. Slow to start, amazing twists and excitement by the end. Recommended to anyone who likes my stuff). Oh. I also read Hard as Ice by Victoria Barbour (another Newfoundland author). I liked Against Her Rules a little better, but it was a fun romance read with the same NL vibe as that one. I need to add that to GR…

Next up: Beloved by Toni Morrison. I’m not sure I’m ready for this one, but I’m trying to alternate in-my-genres books and not-my-genres books, and this is next up for lit fic. Wish me and my tear ducts luck.

Screenshot 2016-04-30 14.04.46

Isn’t this cover adorable?

WRITING

April was an interesting month for my work. Into Elurien, my 50K* contribution to a series of stand-alone novellas by bestselling indie Fantasy Romance authors, is going fabulously. It came back from edits needing a little work, but that went quickly, and it’s now out with beta readers. It’s getting amazing feedback from readers so far. One who loved the Bound Trilogy said she thinks she might like this story even better. I’m completely in love with the characters in this one, and will be sad to let them go. I didn’t even know them back in January, and now we’re almost finished… crazy. But it’s very ready to go, and I can’t wait to see it out in the world.

My other project, The Phoenix Game (working title), is proving a bit more challenging. I didn’t do enough ground-work before I started drafting, because I was trying to take advantage of the weeks I had while IE was out with alpha readers and with my editor. I didn’t get to know the characters well enough, didn’t explore the themes and ideas I’m working with in enough depth, and while my vision for the story is massive and beautiful, the mechanics weren’t quite in place yet. Add to that the challenge of writing in third person when I prefer first (for reading and writing), and what I’ve got so far is 30K words of a book with potential, but that doesn’t have the momentum and keen edge that I want.

So I’m taking a break and reading a bit more on story structure before I continue. Yes, it’s just a first draft, but when I know I’ve made a wrong turn I like to study the map and fix it instead of driving off cliffs, you know?

By the time IE is finished and up for pre-order (May 15), I should be ready to focus entirely on this one. It’s the most challenging book I’ve ever written. A YA story with a potentially complicated structure involving the past and the future (as well as gods and mortals), a deep backstory, themes that I’m still conflicted about myself, and a big cast of characters who are all likely to demand more page time than I can realistically give them when my goal is to keep it around 100K words after edits.

And that’s exciting. It’s wonderful. And it’s a little intimidating when the kids’ summer vacation is just around the corner and I have edits booked for January.

But I think writing is like a game. You level up with each finished project, and while I couldn’t have done this one justice a few years ago, I’m ready  for this challenge now.

Screenshot 2016-04-30 14.05.19

So that’s my April. I’m going to go plan for May now. That will include lots of fun stuff for my readers. Not just pre-orders, but teasers, chapter reveals, a character reveal or two, and (if I can find time), maybe some videos for me to post here and on YouTube as I continue to step outside of my comfort zone and do new things.

Anything is possible.

What were your highlights this month?

*I know, 50K is technically a novel, but series guidelines permit it. Consider it extra value, as it’ll be the same price it would have been at 30K words. 😉

 

 


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


March Reads and Book Haul

I know, it’s a little late to be posting this. March is long gone, right? But better late than never, and it’s always fun to talk about books. 🙂

Of course, now I have to actually remember what I read in March…

Okay. According to Goodreads, I read Pure (Julianna Baggott), Iterate and Optimize (Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant), Fifth Business (Robertson Davies), Landline (Rainbow Rowell), and Against Her Rules (Victoria Barbour). If you want to check out my reviews/ratings on those books, here’s the link to my Goodreads shelf.

Fifth Business was the high point of my reading last month. I read it in high school, and my teacher somehow managed to not ruin it while we were dissecting it. If I were taking a critical view I could find things to complain about, but I’m not. These days I’m sick of this reading slump and am desperate to enjoy books, so I don’t question it when I do. It’s a fascinating book. It’s funny that I say I don’t enjoy “Literature” and Can-Lit all that much, but some of my all-time favourite books fall into that genre. I guess I’m picky about it. I don’t care for self-importance or pretentious writing in books. When I find an amazing story without those flaws, though, I’ll enjoy it no matter what genre it makes its home in.

As for my March book haul… 

…we went to St. John’s, which meant that I got to go to Chapters. It’s four+ hours from my house, but is actually the closest proper bookstore I’ve got, so going is always exciting. That’s not to say I bought all of these new, though. I am on an author’s paycheque here, guys. I also hit Value Village and got lucky, so the balance here is 9 new and 8 used.

I’m particular about what books I’ll buy used, at least when I can afford to be. I try to only buy used when I wouldn’t ever buy the book new, so I know the author isn’t missing out on a sale. I buy used when I’m at least half-sure based on reviews or my own experience that I won’t enjoy them and probably won’t finish, but want to give them a fair shot anyway (the Mortal Instruments books and Hush, Hush), have heard of the book but am not curious to snap it up (All the Bright Things), if I’ve read and enjoyed the book but for some reason don’t want to buy new (I enjoyed Matched, but was really disappointed with the sequel, so it’s not a series I’m invested enough in to buy new for my shelf), or books that I’ve lost or worn out old copies of (The Shipping News). And antique books, of course. Can’t really buy those new.

And if I do enjoy those books I’m iffy on, I’ll either grab new copies or leave good reviews to thank the author. One of those “do unto others” situations, I guess. Money’s not the only way readers can help us out, though purchases are always appreciated!

As for the new books, Throne of Glass is one of my favourite YA Fantasy books. I didn’t adore Crown of Midnight, but part of that might have been the fact that I caved and bought the massive, uncomfortable hardcover before the paperback came out*, so I bought that and whatever else of the series I could find in paperback. Hard as Ice is book two in the Heart’s Ease series. I really enjoyed Against Her Rules in spite of it being very much a SERIOUSLY GUYS ROMANCE NOVEL (the Newfoundland setting and competent writing really helped there), which I’d picked up at the library. Promise of Shadows and The Girl Who Circumnavigated blah blah blah (sorry, I can’t even remember the title long enough to type it out after I scroll down) were $5.99 bargain books that looked interesting, so I grabbed them. The Sandman was a gift from my graphic novel-loving husband who was terribly excited to hear that I wanted to start the series, the drawing book is a project for me and one of the kids to work on together, and You Are A Badass was… well, I want to understand my own badassness, man.

I’m getting there. And I’ve actually finished and reviewed that one on Goodreads, but that’ll fall under April here.

I also picked up some books on my Kindle this month, mostly business stuff about writing cover copy and book outlines and… *yawn*

My next book haul will be less exciting. I’m doing a “no spend” month, or as close to it as I can. I have a signed paperback of an upcoming release ordered, and if a certain Kickstarter campaign gets funded, I’m on the hook there. But we can still chat about reading and stuff.

If I remember to post again. O.o

TELL ME: What did you read last month? Are you a fan of anything in my book haul pic? No spoilers, please!

*I’m resisting the urge to rant AGAIN against publishers who do that. I hate it. So much. Just let us choose what format we want on release day. Thanks.

 


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


The Things That Are Happening

Let’s start with a question I feel is important:

Where did July go?

Was it not just Canada Day a week ago, give or take? I mean yes, a lot has happened, but I’m honestly confused about how it can be almost August already.

Let’s think this through.

I guess there were a few weeks spent on minor revisions and edits to Sworn, getting that ready to go to my editor. That was all done at the dining room table (because my office was packed) while various neighbourhood children ran through the house hollering and distracting and FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING WOULD YOU ALL JUST GO OUTSIDE. And at the same time as I was doing that, I was also cleaning the house so we wouldn’t be too embarrassed when people came to move our furniture. There were phone calls and notes and a trip to Corner Brook to sign the papers to buy our first house. The moving stuff didn’t leave a lot of time for work, but I fit it in.

There was also something about cover art… I dunno.

I guess that explains a bit of me not noticing time passing.

Then there was last week, when we actually moved. Packing on Monday, loading the truck on Tuesday (and hours spent cleaning AGAIN), unloading in a new town on Wednesday, unpacking… well, every day since then.

It’s coming along. The kitchen was a disaster, but I fixed it. Here’s a tip for anyone lucky enough to have someone paying for your move: Don’t let the movers unpack everything in the kitchen. When they run out of counter space they have no choice but to shove things into random cupboards, and this triples the work for you.

At least.

The bedrooms are livable. The man cave is all geeked out and ready for my husband to retreat to. The living room and dining room are lacking in decoration, but they’re not completely embarrassing. The family room is… well, the TV is set up, and that’s the important thing for now.

The only room we haven’t touched is my office, because I’ve been working on everything else.

But this week. THIS WEEK, guys. We’re going to build my desk and a new bookshelf, I’m going to hang my beloved NaNoWriMo posters, I’m going to get organized, get comfortable, and get back to work.

Wait.

*checks calendar*

Actually, I’m not. I just finished formatting and spell-checking, and Sworn goes to Joshua on Friday. This gives me two weeks, give or take, without that project to work on. Normally I’d dive back into my next project, but the kids are home, the house needs attention, and there are neighbours to meet, dogs to walk, and a birthday party to plan.

Know what that means?

READING TIME! Sure, I’ll be working on brainstorming ideas for the next big project, and I’ll be getting ideas about things I really should have done with Sworn before it went for edits. There will be notes. Oh, so many notes. But for the first time since before Bound came out, I’m kind of going to be taking a vacation.

Sort of.

And like… reading and stuff.

My TBR list for the first half of August: A Court of Thorns and Roses, The Queen of the Tearling, Anna and the French Kiss, and For Love or Money (non-fiction book on advancing an indie writing career, because I can’t leave work behind completely).

You know. After I get this mess sorted out.

IMG_3220

 


The Writer Within

Inside the world of author AnnMarie Wyncoll

mum mutter

the mutterings of a tired mum and aspiring writer

Beth Camp

Writer of historical fiction and teller of tales . . .

rogerbloomsfield

An Aspiring Author's Adventure

Are You Finished Yet?

Life, writing, books, dragons- not necessarily in that order. Home of best-selling Fantasy author Kate Sparkes.

Allie Potts Writes

How to appreciate the everyday

Ultimately Useless Stories

~ I am the narrator of a story with an ending that escapes me ~

The Wordy Rose

"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin

shanjeniah.wordpress.com/

Learning. Laughter. And Loving My Glorious, Messy Life!

Little Rittwolf's Book Blog

I thought having my own blog would help me....Squirrel!....stay more focused. I could be wrong.

The Sword of Air

Stunning new multitouch iBook by breakthrough author R.J Madigan

Doorway Between Worlds

Communication tips with a creative twist

CHOUETT

Read it! 📖 Spark it! ✨

Benjamin Wallace Books

Books written by Benjamin Wallace

Denise D. Young

Stories of Magic & Moonlight

chestnut book blog

Read. Recommend. Revel.

Life is Never Fair

Overcoming Life's Obstacles with Perseverance

inkedrainbowreads.wordpress.com/

LGBT Book Reviews, Cover Reveals & More! We are a group designed to help promote and review LGBT et al books. We were created out of seeing a need and wanted to have that need filled. We pride ourseles of having opinionated reviews that are unique and helpful to the author. Welcome to a world of the best LGBT et al books out there!

Dionne Lister - Author

I love sharing my stories but I wish they wouldn't keep me awake at night

Avid Reviews

Fantasy and Sci-Fi Reviews For Both Self-Published and Traditionally Published Books

Author Jen Wylie's Blog

Welcome to my mind... Blog for fantasty author Jen Wylie