Tag Archives: Sworn

The End of the Adventure.

series

So today is Sworn’s release day.

How am I feeling?

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

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

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

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

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

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

My stories would just be words without them.

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

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

And the next.

And the next.

Thank you.

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

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

sworn release pricing promo


PARTY!!!

One week to Sworn’s big release day!

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

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

It’s going to be fun.

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

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

 

Screenshot 2016-01-22 10.12.33

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


WIPpet Wednesday: Calm Before the Storm

I have nothing planned for this week. But since my new project isn’t quite ready for WIP snipping, and Sworn only has a few more weeks as a work in progress, we’ll stick with it.

For anyone who has no idea what I’m rambling about, WIPpet Wednesday is when a bunch of authors share a snippet from a work in progress that relates in some way to the date. Then we link up, read each other’s stuff, comment, party, yadda yadda. It’s good times, and always open to new WIPpeteers.

Okay. 1/13/2016… *maths internally* We’ll go with chapter 14 (1+13), nine short paragraphs (2+0+1+6)

There could be minor spoilers if you don’t want to know anything about who’s in the story, and if you want it to be possible that the POV characters were massacred in the first scene (you monster). But this is a pretty safe one.

Aren’s POV this week. They’ve been going through some tough times and facing an unreasonable amount of reality, so quiet moments alone have been few and far between.

I reached out to touch her hair, which the morning light had lit like a fire. She turned to me and smiled, and the warmth in her gray eyes spoke to something deep inside of me. I felt myself opening. Relaxing. Letting go of the pressure I’d been under since my father’s rescue.

“This is perfect.” The words were out of my mouth before I realized they were coming.

She wrinkled her nose. “You think so?”

“I do. Not your problems, of course. But look at what we have right now. No Ulric. No pressure, no looking to the future.”

It couldn’t last, but we could make the most of it while it did.

A smile curled the edges of Rowan’s lips, as though she were reading my thoughts, and she stepped closer. “We might have to wait a while for Florizel.”

She gasped as my fingers tangled in her hair and I pulled her toward me. She grabbed the front of my jacket and drew me into a deep kiss that burned through me as the world around us faded to insignificance.

Even if I live a thousand years, I will never wish for anything but this.

“Excuse me?” inquired a small voice.

…can’t let the nice moments last too long, can we? Authors are so mean.

If you’d like to see what the other WIPpeteers are up to, here’s the link. Thanks again to Emily Witt for hosting.

In other news… The Bound trilogy prequel novella At Any Cost is now available on Amazon and Kobo, with other retailers dripping in as they approve the book for sale. It’s still available as a freebie for newsletter subscribers, but if you don’t like signing up for newsletters (or just like paying for books, which is amazing), it’s now out there for you. Reader response to this one has been fantastic, so it’s definitely worth picking up one way or the other to tide you over until the 29th. If you’ve read and enjoyed it, reviews would be most appreciated!

OH. And I’ll soon be posting about the Sworn release party (January 28, Facebook)! That’s definitely going to be a good time. If anyone is interested in getting your (Fantasy) books in front of my readers by doing a giveaway, just let me know. Or if you have days to fill and feel like posting about the book during the week after release, that would be great! Any help is wonderful, and of course I’m happy to return the favour.

Guess that’s it for now. See you all soon! I’ve got to get back to work on this new thing…

At Any Cost - Ebook


Sworn Chapter One Available Now

I asked my Facebook reader group/street team last week whether they wanted me to post chapter one for them. Opinions were divided. Some said “absolutely,” while others felt it would be too frustrating to read it and then have nowhere to go from there.

So I’m posting it here under “free fiction,” as I did with the first chapters of Bound and Torn. If you want to be teased, it’s there. If not… less than a month to wait for the whole thing!

click here

(Sworn releases January 29 on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, and other select ebook retailers)

sworn_full


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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COVER REVEAL INCOMING! Wanna help?

Yes, that’s right. It’s almost time.

I’ve finished my first post-editor round of revisions on Sworn, which means I’ll soon have an official release date for you. And what better way to make the announcement than by revealing the gorgeous cover? Ravven has worked her magic again, and it is AMAZING.

Maybe we’ll even throw a sale on Bound in there. Because why not? This has been a hard road for me. I’m not at the end, but pausing to celebrate in a big way will make the rest of the journey even better.*

The cover reveal will be happening FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, though newsletter subscribers will get a super-secret sneak peek the evening before. We’ll have the reveal here, and on my website…

And anywhere else people care to host it. HOORAY, PARTY!!!

If you’re interested in helping out by posting the cover, description, and details on your blog or site, I’d be ever so grateful (and you’ll be on the list for an advance review copy, if you feel so inclined and have time to read before release). Just e-mail me at kate.sparkes (at) live.ca, and we’ll get it done.  I’ll have the post info ready to send out a few days ahead of time.

And if you’d like to do something fun around release time, just let me know and we’ll work something out.

If you don’t have a blog, or if cover reveals don’t fit your theme, no worries! I’d love to just have you drop by to say hello and get the information you need (and gawk/drool, of course). And if you feel like sharing via Twitter or Facebook, that’s a huge help, too.

It’s coming soon, guys… I can almost taste it.

Sworn cover reveal announcement

 

*Meaning another editing pass for small changes and continuity checks, then several weeks with beta readers, then a polishing pass and proofreading. Just for anyone who’s keeping score at home. 😉


Pain in the Ass. No… Head. Not Ass. Head.

It’s a bad night for the pain.

Tonight it feels like a toothache filling my skull. It comes in waves, crushing and slashing, bringing nausea along to join the party. Light hurts. My children’s voices cut through me, and every movement of the bed makes all of it worse. All I can do is sit here with the lamp on, writing this out on paper to be typed out tomorrow, and try not to yell at the kids, cry, or throw up.

It’s not always like this. This kind of headache only hits me about once a month… at least, this hard. But the fact is that I spend a lot of time almost every day dealing with two problems. Pain is one. Either a milder version of this, or ice picks slamming into my temples, or feeling like I’ve been hit in the back of the head with a baseball bat.

I can deal with pain, though.

It’s the fog that’s really hurting me.

The fog used to only come with true migraines, in the days before and after. It’s a feeling like my skull is stuffed with sawdust instead of brains–a physical sensation, and quite unpleasant. It brings a feeling like tunnel vision, though my vision is actually fine. And it makes me slow. My thoughts come slowly, as do my reactions. I can’t think of words, and sometimes can’t understand questions right away. And working? Writing stories, untangling plot problems, clarifying character motivations, and polishing my work until it shines?

Utterly impossible.

It wasn’t so bad when it happened once in a while. But now the fog is coming down every day. I can’t think. I can’t focus. I’m drifting in a slow, too-bright haze. I’m usually just lost enough that working is impossible, but the thoughts and ideas and potential are so close that it becomes incredibly frustrating.

Until now, I’ve been pushing myself through it. I’ve told people that everything is fine. I’ve made myself work in spite of the pain and the fog, working evenings and weekends to make up for the time I spend in bed when the kids are at school and I should be writing. I put off seeing a doctor because I didn’t have time. Because I had deadlines. Because I’d made promises (or at least dropped hints). I let my life get out of balance because of this one important thing.

A few days ago, I decided that I can’t keep going like this. I’m not doing my best work when I have no joy, when every word is a struggle. And let’s face it. Putting pressure on myself to craft a beautiful story when I can’t remember the word “spoon” is probably just compounding the issue.

This is not me giving up. I’m still working on this story every day, and I’m as excited about it as I’ve ever been. As of last week, I have all of the little moving pieces in place, and just need to put the time and the work (and the focus) in to finish it.

It’s complete in all but the final execution, and far better than I ever imagined.

All I really want to do is work on it (sleep and laundry and exercise and doctor’s appointments be damned). But it’s time for me to accept that I also need to make time to take care of myself. I have to stop beating myself up over deadlines and feeling like a failure over needing a few extra weeks to get this book ready for the world.

So I don’t have a release date for you yet. It will be after Christmas, which breaks my heart. I mean, no one with an ounce of business sense wants to miss Christmas. But you guys deserve my best. I’ve never given you less than that, and I can’t start now. I’m going to find out what’s wrong with me, and I’m going to get better. And this winter, I’m going to give you the book you deserve.

Thank you all so much for your support, for your encouragement and kind words. It all means more to me than I’ll ever be able to say.

I can’t wait to show you how this story ends.


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. ❤


Sworn Update (and an exciting bonus)

Hey, guys!

I know you’re patiently waiting (okay, some of you not so patiently) for a release date for Sworn. And I’m here to tell you…

That I don’t know yet. *ducks rotten eggs and tomatoes*

I had planned to make the announcement early this month, and to have the book out by Christmas. I planned this based on the fact that I expected it to be back from editing by now. But due to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, my editor couldn’t take the book until last week, and I’m not sure when work started. It’s a big book, and I don’t have guarantees on when it will be back.

So first, the bad news:

  • I can’t make promises until it comes back and I see how much work it needs. I’ll never give my readers anything but my best work, and I learned on the last release that setting a release date too early = rush and stress, and I don’t want to risk it turning into a situation where I cut corners to meet a deadline. I’ll tell you that you’ll have a book to cozy up with in the depths of this coming winter (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere), though. The delay won’t be that huge. It might just mean no Sworn in your stocking.

I know. I’m at least as bummed about that as you are. I’m looking at the opportunities here and staying positive, though, and there is a lot to be positive about (grey hairs are pretty, right?).

The good news:

  • My kids are now able to stay at school for lunch, which gives me a little extra work time every day. Once Sworn comes back from my editor, I’ll be working on that and nothing else.
  • Cover art is ready to roll, formatting shouldn’t be a big issue (knock on wood), and I’m in the process of lining up beta readers who can get this thing back to me quickly. That will cut down on my production time, and hopefully get the book into your hands sooner.
  • I’m keeping release plans, including pre-orders, flexible. I won’t do anything that might delay getting the book into your hands.
  • The book is going to be amazing, and absolutely worth the wait. And I will have a release date for you in the next less-than-a-month. Promise.

And one other thing.

I mentioned last week during my WIPpet Wednesday post that this delay has given me time to work on another little project. That project is a prequel novella for the Bound trilogy that takes place a few decades before. It’s the story of a Sorcerer king and the young woman with no magic who nonetheless enchants him, an ill-fated romance if ever there was one. It answers some questions for readers of the trilogy, and will make for an excellent read while you’re waiting for Sworn. I’m in the process of finding an editor for that one.

And the best part? To say thanks for your patience, this book (when it’s ready) will be available FREE just for subscribing to my newsletter. If you’re subscribed, you’ll get it automatically, and new subscribers will get it (and The Binding) as well.

I’ll keep you updated on that one.

Thanks again for your patience. I assure you that the wait is every bit as frustrating for me as it is for you, and I can’t wait to share the conclusion of this story with you.

-Kate


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.

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