What’s In it For You?

As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, one of my big focuses for 2016 is to improve the quality of the online content I share with my readers. I’m aiming to read one book per month on my business and my writing craft, and so far that’s going well. They’re giving me a lot to think about, and some of those thoughts mean some greater soul-searching in the weeks to come.

The big question for myself is how I can offer my readers more. More of what you’re looking for, what you’re interested in, what you find entertaining or worthwhile. Less about me and what I’ve been up to – because hearing about how I’m creating words and competing with my cat for who gets the comfy chair can get a little dry- and more about subjects that might help you take steps to your own dreams and successes.

What does this mean for the blog?

Most likely a variety of posts to see which ones works – kind of like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing if it sticks. Maybe some multimedia posts, I’ll TRY to be better at including pictures – all sorts of ideas.

Want to help?

Leave a comment below for anything you’d like to see more of/less of either here or on any of my social media channels/newsletter. I’ve even put together a very short (6 question) survey you can fill out if you prefer to do so anonymously: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZMZ5SCM

What else is new?

The Invisible Entente novella was released into the wild last week and so far the response has been really positive! I’m glad to hear you guys are enjoying it!

For Bladelore, there may have been a delay in the editing phase, so the release might be bumped a week or two. I’m disappointed about that, but am still aiming for April 2016.

I’m taking the time in between to start work on my first Invisible Entente novel, following sorceress Daphne Heartstone (title pending), and making plans for my in-person book launch! I’ve talked to some local artists to get some Andvell-related swag, so next up is the venue!

Finally, I recently had a chance to sit down with Dwayne Brown and Anita Ruivo from the loveOttawa project. You can check out the article as well as the lovely photograph by Dwayne at www.love-ottawa.com!

Until next time… it’s Groundhog’s Day tomorrow. Let’s all send our thoughts to a short winter. Stay warm! 

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The End of the Adventure.

Kate Sparks has wrapped up her Bound trilogy. I have mixed feels about this. CONGRATULATIONS, KATE!

disregard the prologue

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…

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Who is Venn Connell?

If you follow me on any social media platforms, you’ll have heard me talk about my leading lady of the Cadis Trilogy. Sometimes with love, sometimes with a desire to throttle her. Seeing as how I’m about to wrap up the trilogy with Bladelore, projected for a March 2016, I’ve been giving a lot of thought about why I wrote Venn Connell.

This sharp-tongued, quick-witted, bloodthirsty assassin is introduced in book 2 of the Meratis Trilogy as someone who makes Jeff a target. When I created her, I thought she would be a fun secondary character to cause some trouble and be another tie between the first book and the second and third. It took all of three lines of dialogue for that plan to change.

Venn is easily one of my favourite characters I’ve ever written. She’s sassy with a warm centre (although don’t tell her that), arrogant with her skills with incredibly low self-esteem about who she is as a human being. How could I not write her own series after Meratis wrapped up?

Although don’t let the connection between the two trilogies fool you — you don’t need to have read Meratis in order to jump into Cadis.

Cadis has been a great writing experience for me. Venn has gone from being an angry, bitter 17 year old to an only slightly less angry and bitter 23 year old. She’s formed attachments with the Feldall family even if she won’t admit it. Against her will, she’s made friends. Remy and Will constantly push her to grow and be better, and although she fights them every step of the way, her character changes. Over the course of the three books, her development is as important if not more important than the rest of the plot (for me, anyway).

I was so interested in her history/development, that it prompted me to go back and write a prequel short story, “Heart of the City”, which can be found as part of the free welcome bundle when you subscribe to my newsletter. This story follows Venn at 13 years old. She’s been on her own for two years, having been forced out of her hometown by her entire community, including her family. She’s angry and hard, and her mentor, Lewyn Kell, encourages her to stay this way. It makes her an excellent assassin, but does little for her social life.

Having written Venn at 13, 17, and now 23 years old, I find the evolution fascinating. She’s the longest character I’ve ever written and I feel like I know her better than any of my others. I don’t condone a lot of her actions, but I admire her courage. To a certain extent, I wish I had her gumption to fly into the face of  action instead of skirting around the edges where it’s safe.

From emails I’ve received, many of you feel the same way about this spunky hero. Sure, she’s crass and knows how to curse better than my grandmother, but I think she’s worth the love.

Will there be more Venn? That remains to be seen. It’s possible Venn’s niece, Naya, will get her own fantasy adventure, but it won’t be any time soon. Unless you ask for it.

Haven’t picked up the existing Cadis books yet? Follow the links for more information!

 

CoverVenn Connell is bored. When the Andvellian ambassador in Margolin goes missing, she jumps at the chance to find him, but quickly learns the mystery goes deeper than one missing courtier. With border tensions rising, a man vanishing before her eyes with a relic she believed lost, red-clad soldiers out for blood, and something dark following her from the charred ruins of Treevale fortress, Venn becomes a pawn in an unseen game. Forced to confront her past and question her future, Venn knows she has to tread carefully. One wrong move and she could lose herself in the shadows, and hurl her country into war.

http://kristawalshauthor.com/books/bloodlore/

Blightlore-CadisBook2-eBook-Hires

When Venn Connell set out from Andvell a month ago, her intentions were simple: solve a mystery, avoid starting a war, and have some fun in the process. After uncovering the secrets lurking within the Margolan palace, her adventure takes a darker path. War is no longer a question of if but of when, and the enemy is a greater nightmare than she could have imagined. Torn between protecting her family and saving her country, and forced to take on the role of leader she has tried so hard to avoid, Venn must sort out her priorities as the mystery of the Cadis warriors grows deeper, threatening the people she cares for most.

http://kristawalshauthor.com/books/blightlore/

 

 

AHHH!! Or: The Fear of Leap-Taking

In my 2015 wrap-up, I hinted at a change in status from 3/4-time author to potentially full time this year.

Well, I did it.

Last week, I confirmed with my director that I wasn’t going to renew my contract for 2016.

I am officially a full-time author for a 12-month trial.

It is the most irresponsible decision I’ve ever made, and I am terrified.

It’s not like I made this decision with my eyes closed. I knew what it would mean not to have a steady income or outside job — my savings would take a hit, I would risk becoming a perma-hermit, I would lose out on any clear work/life balance. I worked out the logistics, looked at my situation from every pragmatic angle, and decided I could afford to give this my all for a year. Exciting! All the potential! Everything in hand and worked out to the last detail!

I did not take into consideration the fear that would land on me the day after I hit “send” on the email to my boss. I wasn’t even doing anything work-related. I was reaching into the fridge to get cat food when all of a sudden it struck me: I might fail.

In working out my accounts/sales, I discovered that between 2014 and 2015, there’s a significant increase not only in productivity, but in return. An increase I’m proud of, because it reflects the extra work I put into my business as well as my craft last year. My rational mind tells me that with yet more time — meaning more productivity and more opportunities to learn the fundamentals of my business — return and sales should increase further.

But there are those fears again: what if they don’t? The Cadis Trilogy is wrapping up in March, and with it comes up the end (for now) of a series that readers are familiar with, of characters they’ve grown to care about, root for, or hate. The series being over means I need to move on to something new. So not only a whole new career goal for me, but also a whole new series! What if people don’t like the new characters? What if the new series isn’t as good? WHAT IF I FALL ASLEEP TONIGHT AND LOSE MY ABILITY TO WORD?!

Our thought processes and brain workingses are a treat, aren’t they?

And yet, in spite my fears, I’m looking at my to-do list for the day, and this is what it looks like:

  • blog post
  • IE edits
  • IE promo
  • IE1 outline
  • SotB edits
  • eye appointment

Nowhere on that list do I have

  • call boss and ask for job back

And I’m patting myself on the back for that. Every morning I’ve woken up reminding myself that I get to go to work in my PJs, and even if the day is a grueling 9-10 hours in front of a computer screen, even if I get a new scathing review, even if 12 months from now I need to get another part time job to save up some more money for another trial in a year or two, I’ll have learned so much. I’ll have made mistakes that led to deeper knowledge; I’ll have had surprising successes; I’ll have created a backlist and stepped into a whole bunch of new worlds.

Every morning I remind myself that the reward is worth the risk.

When that reminder fails, I know how lucky I am that my family, my partner, and my readers keep me going. On the inevitable days where I’m afraid my next book launch will result in 0 sales and my accounts will slide into the red, I know I have so many people urging me on to the next step. They (you) make it so much easier.

My purpose for writing this post is two-fold. First, to get the thoughts out of my head, because thoughts are evil; second, the hope that my experience will help someone trying to make a similar decision for themselves.

It takes courage to go out on a limb and have faith it won’t snap. It takes courage to believe that if the limb does snap, you have the strength, wits, and sense of humour to laugh as you fall, and the faith that you’ll catch yourself mid-flight.

Anything can happen on the way down, but during the flight anything is possible.

What’s the scariest decision you’ve ever made?

Coming soon: The Invisible Entente, a novella

In my 2015 wrap-up post, I mentioned a novella I’m working on that I plan to have ready this month. Now that it’s even closer to completion, I thought I should tell you a little more about it.

The Invisible Entente is something entirely different than my Andvell Saga. New characters, new world. Well, it’s set in our world… if our world had Gorgons and Norse gods and sorceresses. So it’s still firmly set in the fantasy genre, but with a touch of an Agatha Christie twist.

IE logoSeven supernatural strangers find themselves trapped in a magically sealed room, transported there by a murder victim who believes one of the seven is his murderer. He tasks them with puzzling out which one of them committed the crime – and then returning the favour.

Told as a series of short stories as each of the seven describes the last time they encountered the victim, they need to decide which one of them is lying.

This project was inspired by characters I’d outlined for another urban fantasy project, and then on a whim I added the mystery element after binge-watching episodes of Poirot and Miss Marple. It was a lot of fun to write, and has since sparked the idea for more books with these characters.

The best part is that you can get this novella for free! While I am debating having paperback copies available, the e-copy will be sent out free to my mailing list. My newsletter goes out once or twice a month, so I promise not to spam you with salesy stuff – just updates, book release news, and the occasional excerpt or free novel. Interested? Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

Not sure yet? How about a sneak peek at the first two chapters of The Invisible Entente: a prequel

1
The Introduction

How would you react if you found yourself trapped in a small, dimly lit room with a group of strangers?

Seven people, three men and four women, found themselves facing this question one previously uneventful Thursday evening. A moment earlier, they had each been engaged in their regular routines — work, homework, watching television — and then the world had changed without warning.
In a bright flash of light, they’d been transported into a room with no doors or windows, lit only by a half-dozen candles in wall sconces. The walls were brown stone, the floor just as a drab, and the air stank of dampness and disuse.

“—extra fries…” one man said, caught mid-sentence, and then trailed off. He craned his neck to gauge the room — his gaze lingering on the wood round table in the middle of the room and the seven chairs set around it — and appeared more confused than alarmed by his situation. “Okay?”

He stood around six foot two, tall by most standards, but four inches shorter than the tallest man present. Broad-shouldered and tanned, with thick brown hair and reflective, round sunglasses, he was the sort to draw attention in a crowd. In the few moments since they’d appeared in the room, he had already drawn the attention of a stunning woman in a curve-hugging green dress. Her brown eyes flashed gold as she widened her lips in a smile that showed off even white teeth. She had popped into the room mid-stride, but adjusted to the change of scenery with the easiness of one accustomed to the extraordinary.

“Not the nicest view,” she said. Her smile faded as her gaze landed on a man in a gray tailored suit standing across from her. The man shared her golden-brown complexion, her auburn-touched hair, and her delicate construction of fine nose and high cheekbones. Although his presence had lured the eye of another woman with short blond hair, who had tumbled to the floor on her entrance, his powers of attraction apparently had the opposite effect on the woman in the green dress. “Or the greatest company.”

“I couldn’t say,” another woman said, this one hardly more than sixteen years old, her blond curls unruly and tied into two wild pigtails. She wore jeans and a plain black T-shirt with a red-and-white plaid shirt over top. Curved white plastic stretched from behind her ears to transmitters implanted on the sides of her head, and she stared blankly into the shadows through square brown-tinted sunglasses. She’d appeared on her stomach, as though she’d been lying down at her previous location.  Cautiously, she crept her fingers along the uneven stone tiles and slowly rose to her feet. Unseeing, she tilted her head toward the sound of a scowling man shifting on his feet beside her, this one wide and hulking, standing at least six foot six with angry red scars down the right side of his face, his hands clenched into fists at his sides.

“Is anyone going to tell me where we are?” she asked. “Who you are? How I got here? Pretty sure I was in my room studying for an exam.”

“You know as much as I do,” said the woman who had been attracted to the man in the suit. Her short-cropped blond hair framed a thin, angular face. Green eyes stared out over a long, bent nose, her thin lips pale. She stood up, crossed her arms over her gray hooded vest, her clenched hands stretching her long-sleeved blue T-shirt, and glared around the room.

The fourth woman remained silently poised on the fringes of the group. She was tall and willowy with waist-length red hair, clothed in a simple, belted blue dress. Although she said nothing, she missed nothing. Her cold gray eyes shifted from person to person, evaluating their reactions, assessing the situation.

The man in the suit loped jauntily toward the wide table. He pulled a hand out of his pocket and reached for an envelope sitting in the center of it.
“Maybe this will give us some idea.”

2
The Letter

Welcome to you all.

While I would normally hate to start things off with a cliché, I can’t resist the temptation to say: If you’re reading this note, I’m already dead.

I find even more pleasure in the idea that one of you will soon join me.

I don’t know which one of you will — if I did, you wouldn’t be in this situation — but I enjoy the thought of you all piecing the puzzle together.

Why me? you might be asking. You should really give yourself more credit. I’ve crossed a number of people in my lifetime, but only you were special enough to make it on the shortlist for my murder. You have been my greatest competitors and my greatest enemies, the only people smart enough or strong enough to best me. As such, I have no doubt you’ll be able to work out this mystery.

Since I know you so well, I know you’re also wondering why I arranged this little meetup. I know I’ve always had a knack for getting people to hate me, but that’s never stopped me from working for what I wanted. Right up to the end I was focused on becoming the greatest warlock the world has ever seen — I came close, too, I’d like to see you try to deny it — but just as I was reaching the pinnacle, I ran into an old friend of mine. A Seer. Lovely woman that she was, she told me, right before I cut into her brain, that she’d had a vision of me dying before I achieved my goal.

Having known Cass for ages, I didn’t waste time not believing her or going out of my way to try to avoid her prophecy. Instead, I opted to set up this counterattack. I decided that if I were going to die, my killer shouldn’t be allowed the luxury of living.

So I created this room and tagged each person I encountered who I believed stood a chance of beating me. At the moment of my death, you were transported here.

Don’t bother trying to escape. There are wards on every exit and all of your magical abilities have been blocked. There is only one way out: discover who killed me — and return the favor. Seven enter, six leave.

So work it out, take your time, get to know each other. It should be quite the discussion — I only wish I could be there to see it. The semi-goddess, the Gorgon-Fae, the incubus, the succubus, the daemelus, the sorceress, and the human — such a unique collection for this invisible entente.

Good luck to you. And to the guilty party: see you soon.

Jermaine

Sign up to get your copy of The Invisible Entente prequel

 

Release Alert: Death in A Major, Sarah L Fox

In March 2015, I had the pleasure of helping author Sarah Fox reveal the cover of Dead Ringer, the first book in her Music Lover’s Mystery series.

This year I get to help her ring in the second book in the series: Death in A Major!

Death in A Major

When Archibald Major, local big wig and nasty tyrant, drops dead at a post-concert reception, violinist Midori Bishop soon suspects foul play. Although Midori has no intention of getting involved in another murder investigation, that all changes when Jordan—her violin student and the victim’s grandson—seeks her help convincing the police that the real killer is his uncle, a low-level criminal. As Midori digs into the victim’s life, she discovers that he was a man who created discord at every turn, even within his own family, and there is no shortage of potential suspects. When someone close to Midori unexpectedly confesses to the crime, Midori must race to discover the identity of the true killer before an innocent person goes to jail for a crime they didn’t commit…and before Midori herself becomes a victim in the killer’s deadly encore.

The e-copy of Death in A Major is available today from your favourite retailer, with the paperback soon to be available on February 23!

Get to know Sarah via Facebook or Twitter

The Obligatory 2015 Wrap-Up

I meant to blog more this year. For a while I even achieved it! Then that plan went into the toilet as I realised I didn’t have much to say and my time would probably be better spent working on books to share with you guys instead of rambling about how they were going.

But it has been a busy and wonderful year. I achieved more than I dreamed I would:

In January 2015, I went down to part time work and devoted my free days to being a 3/4 time author. The change in schedule did wonders for me in so many ways. I was better able to balance between work and work, which meant more time for play. I was less active, which was a downside, but mentally so much healthier.

With the extra time, I managed to publish three novels instead of the 2 of 2014, as well as get a whole bunch ready for the 2016 line-up. I came this close to getting the entire Cadis Trilogy out in one year, but ah well, at least it won’t be too long of a wait.

In November, my part time dayjob contract came to an end, which meant I got my first taste of what FULL TIME WRITING would be like (will be like? Who knows! Lots of changes coming in 2016). In the last month, I finished the first draft of Bladelore and my gothic fantasy Song of the Blackbird. I did two rounds of edits for each draft, as well as for my urban fantasy mystery novella The Invisible Entente (which will be sent FREE to my newsletter subscribers in January), which means lots to hear about and for me to update in the new year.

On top of the work stuff, I met someone, fell head over heels for him, and am still the happiest I’ve ever been nine months later. Along with my parents, he’s been the most supportive element of my writing career and I wouldn’t have moved forward as quickly as I had without him rooting for me. In September, he started his own creative work in the television show Error 404: Show Not Found, which looks at all things geek and comedic, and I’m so thrilled and proud to be a part of the process.

What’s Next for 2016?

That depends on a few things, such as what my schedule will look like in January – I have some ideas on how that will go, but will wait to announce anything until it’s confirmed.

The big goal is going to be balance. I’m not going to go all crazy and say exercise an hour a day, and read a book a week, and do ALL THE WORK! But I want to force myself to be a little more active since my career of choice is rather sedentary; I want to make sure I stay social since my career of choice is rather solitary; and I want to make sure I find time to relax and do things for pleasure, since my career of choice is rather demanding and fun and never really stops even when I’m not in front of a computer.

As it stands right now — and I’m sharing this so you can call me on it if you see I’m not keeping on track — I would like to:

  • do 20 mins of exercise a day – it’s the bare minimum of the recommended amount, so totally doable, right? Sure, the snow is up to my knees right now, but that won’t last all year!
  • read for pleasure for 30 mins a day – alarmingly, I lost my desire to read in 2014 and it’s slowly returning. I FINALLY got back into it a month or so ago with The Princess Bride and have been tearing through my TBR since then, but want to make sure I keep up on it
  • read 1 craft book a month – either on writing, editing, or marketing. If you have any recommendations for books I should watch out for, please let me know
  • engage in 2 social events a month – this one makes me laugh, because some people might be amazed that this should be a challenge. It is. Especially this time of year when hibernation is so much more appealing
  • keep up with at least one blog post per month. I’m tacking this on at the end because I only just thought of it. I do kind of really enjoy spewing my thoughts here

That should cover it for physical and mental health, as well as give me lots of time to focus on the books I want to write – and that list is long enough to keep me busy for the next couple of years.

So there we go: 2015 in a nutshell and a look ahead at the new year. Any resolutions you’re particularly nervous or excited to start?

I wish you all a safe and very HAPPY NEW YEAR and I’ll see you in the new calendar!

Cover Reveal: Sworn by Kate Sparkes

The much-anticipated conclusion to Kate Sparkes’ BOUND trilogy is almost here!! To tide you over until the release date, I’m so excited to be a part of the cover reveal – it’s another beauty!

To draw out the suspense a little, how about we start with the blurb:

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 and depose the tyrant who stole it from him. With the country free, Aren, Rowan, and Nox would finally be able to leave their pasts behind and seek out their futures. But though they 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.

Bound December Promo 1Exciting right?! Now I’ll be mean again because I don’t want to lose you after you see the stunning cover that will no doubt leave you a little brain addled. If you have not picked up book 1 of the trilogy, BOUND, then you have to do it NOW. At THIS MOMENT, because the book is on a rare 99c sale that only lasts until December 5. That’s TOMORROW. So go! go! go!

 

Now enough teasing. I hereby present: the cover of SWORN *cheers* *cannon fire*

sworn_full

_____________

About the Author

Screenshot 2015-11-30 16.29.17Kate Sparkes wears many hats—so many, in fact, that she frequently becomes lost under them. She’s a professional author and an amateur wife and mom, a semi-pro dragon watcher (assuming good intentions count for something), and experienced pursuer of random dreams and hobbies. You can find her at her website, http://www.katesparkes.com (where you can also sign up for her newsletter and get free stories), or the following spots:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/katesparkesauthor

Twitter: @kate_sparkes

Instagram: @kate.sparkes

Blog: http://www.disregardtheprologue.com

 

It’s Cadis Week!

There has been radio silence, I know, but I have perfectly valid reasons. I have updates for you on all three Cadis Trilogy novels!

BLOODLORE is on sale for 99c from November 16 – November 18! Spread the word and grab it while the sale lasts!

Why the sale?

Art: Jeff Brown Typography: Colin F Barnes

Art: Jeff Brown
Typography: Colin F Barnes

Because BLIGHTLORE is officially available for purchase! And I’m so excited!! And ermergerd!!!

When Venn Connell set out from Andvell a month ago, her intentions were simple: solve a mystery, avoid starting a war, and have some fun in the process.

After uncovering the secrets lurking within the Margolan palace, her adventure takes a darker path. War is no longer a question of if but of when, and the enemy is a greater nightmare than she could have imagined.

Torn between protecting her family and saving her country, forced to take on the role of leader she has tried so hard to avoid, Venn must decide her priorities before the mystery of the Cadis warriors consumes everything she cares for most. 

But what’s a trilogy without a third book, am I right? As you might be away, November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and this year I’m tackling the conclusion to Venn Connell’s story. The stakes are higher, the feels are greater, and at 2/3 of the way through (at the time of writing this post), things are getting crazy! I can’t wait to share more with you as the months go on and I have more updates going on.

Until then – I can’t wait to hear what you think of the latest instalment!

A Re-Release and a Pre-order

Last week I celebrated Meratis, but November is the month of Cadis.

Art: Jeff Brown  Typography: Colin F. Barnes

Art: Jeff Brown
Typography: Colin F. Barnes

BLOODLORE is now available across all distribution channels. No matter if you use a Kobo, Kindle, Nook, or read off your iPad, you’ll be able to bring Venn home to enjoy! But don’t stop at the first book. Book 2, BLIGHTLORE is available for pre-order, to be released on November 16!

When Venn Connell set out from Andvell a month ago, her intentions were simple: solve a mystery, avoid starting a war, and have some fun in the process.

After uncovering the secrets lurking within the Margolan palace, her adventure takes a darker path. War is no longer a question of if but of when, and the enemy is a greater nightmare than she could have imagined.

Torn between protecting her family and saving her country, forced to take on the role of leader she has tried so hard to avoid, Venn must decide her priorities before the mystery of the Cadis warriors consumes everything she cares for most.