Check This Out: Torn

If you follow Disregard the Prologue, then you’re already aware of the clever and cool Kate Sparkes and her fantasy trilogy named after the first book, Bound. She’s here today to talk about Torn, book 2 of the series. Ready? Let’s rock and roll!

Kate author photo 4  torn_full

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Kate: Hmm. . . . Okay. One: We bought our first house this summer, and I finally have my own office space. It’s just as amazing as I imagined it would be, but I will be forever grateful for the fact that I had to write my first books in a stinky basement.
Two: I’m not a dog person, and I’m really not a small dog person, but I have a chihuahua snuggled on my lap right now, and it is most excellent.

Kate Dog

Bruno, Kate’s dog

Three: I just took up running, and can’t believe how much I’m enjoying it. It’s amazing what not being able to do something for years will do for your motivation.
Four: I’m a little obsessed with paper products, specifically planners. I use one for home and one for work, plus a lined journal for tracking productivity.

El Space: So, Torn is out in the world, along with his sister, Bound. And your editor has Sworn, book three. Now that your trilogy is coming to an end, how are you feeling? Sad? Elated?
Kate: Nervouscited? Bitterswelated? I’m not sure any real word captures how I feel. I think Sworn is the best and strongest book of the series, and I’m excited to finish writing a story that I still adore almost five years after I started it. At the same time, I’m sad to be finishing it. And happy to be able to move on to new things. And terrified, as I always am before I release anything. And tearing my hair out over deadlines. And . . . you get the idea.

bound_promo

El Space: I do! Without giving a spoiler, was there a character whose development surprised you the most as you wrote this series? Perhaps you started off thinking, I’ll only include this person in a scene, but the character wound up getting more book time.
Kate: I guess Nox would be the obvious answer. I didn’t know she existed until well after I’d finished the first draft of Bound, and she ended up being a major character in books two and three. Her development and involvement in the story has really surprised me, too, ending up fairly far off from what I’d anticipated.

major-vs-mn

There are others, too. There were a few characters in Bound I never expected to see again, but who have come back to play a larger part in the story. One of them really shocked me, and another made me squeak with excitement when her wee face popped up again. Wow. This is really hard to do without spoilers!

El Space: How long did it take you to write each book? How much research did you do as you created the world?
Kate: Bound took me 3.5 years from first draft to publication. Torn was a little less than 2.5 years, and when Sworn comes out it should be about sixteen months. I’m a fairly quick first drafter, but I take my time over revisions.

I don’t do a lot of research for my world building. Most of the research I do is on things like, “If someone got stabbed in X, how long would she live?” or “Oops—how far away did I say Y was from Z?” My internal record-keeping systems could use a good overhauling.

El Space: Are you a plotter or a pantser? When you started writing Bound, how much of the end of the trilogy did you know? If you already knew the ending, did you find the outcome different or relatively the same as you envisioned?
Kate: I’m very much a plotter at this point. I’ve tried diving into a story with nothing more than an amazing character and a cool concept, and ended up writing myself straight into a brick wall. I do leave plenty of room for wonderful surprises along the way, but I like to have most of the major twists and turns—and the ending—planned out before I start. I think plotting and pantsing are quite similar, actually. It’s just that I do my exploring and experimenting in my head and in quick notes, whereas a pantser works it out in the first draft.

pantser

I didn’t have this whole trilogy plotted out before I started, though. I had a vague idea of the ending, but when I started Bound, it didn’t seem like I’d actually finish one book, never mind three of them.

Most of Sworn was a mass of fog and vague ideas until after I’d finished the first draft of Torn. I had the ending quite solidly in mind, but the road that led there was quite an interesting experience as I explored it while outlining and drafting.

El Space: Were you always thinking you’d write a trilogy set in this world and maybe some shorter pieces? How did you decide whose stories should be told through a sequel, a prequel, a short story, or a novella?
Kate: I didn’t initially plan to write more than the main novels, but I think I always knew I wouldn’t want to limit what I could do in this world. I have a set of characters I adore who constantly surprise me, a deep and rich world that still has so much to explore, and a story with a long history and more events that could play out in the future. I do have other worlds and stories to work on, but I don’t think this well will ever run dry.

Deciding which stories to tell is quite easy. Though I do listen to reader suggestions, the deciding factor is always whether there’s a full story there—a solid plot rather than just a series of events that a few people might find interesting—and whether the idea lights a fire in my imagination. Out of ten ideas, one might really make me want to sit down and start writing. Some stories just beg to be told.

Stories-at-Work

J.K.-RowlingEl Space: Many readers wanted J. K. Rowling to continue writing books set in the world of Harry Potter. But she wanted to tackle other genres. What would you say to readers who want you to continue writing this series to the exclusion of all others?
Kate: I’d say I completely understand. There’s a part of me that’s scared to leave behind what works and what readers already love, but I can’t let myself get burned out on one story or one genre. I want to keep my love of this world alive, and that means that sometimes I need to work on something else. I drafted an urban fantasy novella after Bound, and it refreshed me for Torn. I played with a different, more steampunk-esque version of fantasy between Torn and Sworn, and it helped me get the distance I needed to fall in love with my world and characters again.

I will work in other genres. I will write for other age groups, with more adult content or maybe even something for younger folk some day. And I’ll be a better writer for it when I come back to this world and these characters.

fantasy-world-wallpaper

El Space: What are you working on now?
Kate: Right now, I’m at an awkward stage. Sworn is with my editor. I’ve drafted and revised a prequel novella over the past few months that I’m excessively excited about, and that’s gone to a new editor. Now I have a week to wait before Sworn comes back, which means I have time for business. . . . But really, I know I won’t be able to help picking at my next project. It’s an idea that came to me during a night of insomnia—totally worth it—a semi-dystopian YA fantasy involving vengeful gods, human sacrifice, rebirth, and some characters I can’t wait to explore.

Sounds exciting! Thanks, Kate, for being my guest.

You can find Kate at her blog, website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Torn is available here:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And one commenter will get a free copy of Torn. Remember, this is book 2. You should read Bound first! Winner to be announced on October 6.

Author photo and covers courtesy of the author. Character sign from sophia.org. Pants/plots image from rinellegrey.com. Fantasy world image from wallpaperpassion.com. Stories sign from transformleaders.tv. J. K. Rowling from inquisitr.com.

What’s the Deal with Pinterest?

Are you on Pinterest? Once again a family member—this time my sister-in-law—had talked me into branching out on social media. Which led me to Pinterest.

official-pinterest-logo-tile

For almost a year, I had a Pinterest board that I ignored. I didn’t quite get why I should use Pinterest. It seemed too simplistic. It also reminded me too much of scrapbooking—something at which I failed miserably. I still have a drawer full of photos I never placed in photo albums. So as a novice pinner, I didn’t have a plan. I repinned six photos culled from the ones sent by Pinterest because they looked interesting and had a vague connection to my high fantasy novel. I ran out of motivation after that.

Over the months, strangers from around the world repinned the same photo of dyed sheep from my board (see below). Pinterest kept emailing notifications like a persistent wooer. I wanted to say, “Shoo!” and close down my account despite the fact that some of the strangers began to follow that board.

Dyed Sheep

I was content to keep ignoring my board until a blogger I know wrote a post on how she used her Pinterest boards as inspiration for her book. That gave me an idea: perhaps I could do the same. But she had several boards. I didn’t understand why anyone would have more than one.

I had switched to a different WIP by that point and was stuck on how to proceed with it. Usually when I’m stuck on a project, I switch to another creative outlet: drawing, making 3D models out of paper, or crocheting—something visual and tactile. But this time, I turned to Pinterest. I had named my inaugural board Inspiration. Now I needed to be inspired.

When I was a kid, Pinterest was a notebook, some tape or glue, scissors, and a bunch of magazines out of which I cut pictures. In other words, Pinterest didn’t exist except through my physical labor. But as I think about the hours I spent cutting out magazine photos, I remember how inspired I was by the photos I found—inspired enough to hunt them down, display them in a notebook, and then write stories based on those pictures.

Magazine-cut-out-for-Things-to-do-with-kids-e1312990253864

After figuring out how to search for photos on my computer, Pinterest, or elsewhere online, I added to the Inspiration board, then started a different one—More Inspiration. (It was either that title, Inspiration 2, or Inspiration the Sequel. Do you see why Hollywood never hired me to title films?) I repinned eye-catching photos that made me feel something: joyful, nostalgic, or just plain awed. But I had added so many different categories of items on one board—animals, plants, etc. I was ready for a third board—Animals in My Books. That board led to a fourth—Plants and Trees in My Books. Are you sensing a pattern here?

So, what’s the deal with Pinterest? I would answer that question this way: it’s fun and easy to do. Adding photos to various boards gave my brain something it needed—visual reminders of possibilities.

Today I have 19 boards. And that novel I wasn’t sure about? I finished a draft that I’m now revising. While I didn’t value Pinterest at first, I’m glad I tried it. Sometimes the simplest tasks can lead to great breakthroughs in other places.

So, are you on Pinterest? What do you like about it?

Dyed sheep from themetapicture. Pinterest logo steadydemand.com. Construction paper, scissors, et al from mysheenvillage.com.

Let’s Get Gluttonous

If you have Olivia Newton-John’s song, “Physical,” going through your mind (“let’s get physical, physical”), you’re already blaming me. But neither of us can do anything about that now, so let’s move on.

physical_us

I still hear muttering from your direction, however: “Let’s get gluttonous? Come on! We already did that at Thanksgiving.” Bear with me. Now that the turkey is behind us and/or in front of us if we’ve gained a few pounds from the awesome force of our knife and fork wielding, we can get down to business. I suppose I should speak for myself, rather than for you. This Thanksgiving I ate too much and wrote too little. Can you blame me with two turkeys and two hams on the table, plus countless side dishes? And there were desserts so delectable, my thought was, Why stop at just one? So I didn’t.

fork

We had good times together, didn’t we, ma petite fourchette?

But now that I’ve returned home, my thoughts turn from my waistline to my wasted writing time. Unlike me, some of you conquered NaNoWriMo in November. Well done, you! Here’s your pat on the back.

original

Now that December has rolled around, you’re probably ready to take it a little easier—perhaps coast till Christmas as you revise what you just wrote. But now’s the time for me to make up for lost time. You can still join my new campaign. In December, let’s get gluttonous—writing with abandon to create a feast with words.

Consider it: descriptive passages so succulent, a reader’s mouth waters for more. Those are within your reach—as close as that cranberry sauce was to your fork last week. Just wield these ingredients: a dash of sensory details and a pinch of action verbs with knife-edge precision to sharpen the camera’s eye-effect of your story. And while you’re at it, chisel characters so amazingly life-like, they’re miniature Davids carved from the marble of your imagination. Go to it, Michelangelo!

   michelangelo_david_head writing-with-a-pen 

Don’t run away screaming! This cheerleading session is mainly a reminder to myself to go big in December and expand the territory of my writing. If I give my writing as much attention as I gave to expanding my waistline at Thanksgiving, I will soon be at least 20 pages to the good. Will you join me?

Where do you go for inspiration as you buckle down to write? A multitude of sources usually provide inspiration for me. One is this:

avatar

Fork from spell.psychology.wustl.edu. Person with a pen from wisegeek.org. Olivia Newton-John from jamesreadtan.com. David from caravaggista.com. Pat on the back gif from community.us.playstation.com.

Thirteen for 2013

Writers also are readers, gaining inspiration and learning about the craft of writing as they read the works of others. Some writers swear by specific books on the craft of writing, books that have helped them hone their skill. I have several beautifully informative craft books on my bookshelves or stacked on the floor of my living room. I’ll probably write a post about them someday. But the following thirteen books, most of them award winning, are favorites that have inspired me over the years to put fingers to my keyboard (or pen to my writing journal—whichever I happen to be nearest), to dig deep and make my prose sing.

I don’t think I can adequately articulate why I find these books so inspiring, so I’ll just list them. I decided to go with thirteen in honor of 2013. Here they are, in no particular order:

I’ll give a quick shout-out to Harper Lee’s classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. I didn’t add it to the list, because I wanted to keep the list to thirteen books.

What books inspire you?