Dear Sparked reader,

Thank you so much for your amazing support during our preorder campaign last fall. You might be wondering where the heck your copy of the book is, and why we’ve taken so long to update you. 

Good news! We have a publication date: October 3, 2017. Your book will be mailed (or become available as an e-book) on that date. And the reason we’ve taken so long to update you is that we’ve been working hard on making Sparked completely ready for your eyes. 

We thought you might be interested to hear a bit about that process and the lessons we learned, especially if you’re a writer yourself or interested in writing. 

Lesson #1: Don’t shut down when you get feedback, even if you THINK you’re done.  

When someone gives you feedback, it’s human nature to focus on the negative, and it’s a writer’s nature to blow the negative wildly out of proportion. After Sparked achieved its preorder target, a developmental editor gave us a—gulp—twenty-page letter that sent us into a tailspin. The word “overkill” jumped out and something about how we should remove every reference to zombies. We’d already revised Sparked countless times. In despair, Helena couldn’t even bring herself to read the whole thing, while Malena lost herself in cat videos on Youtube. 

 But when we forced ourselves to read the letter line by line, we were shocked at how positive it actually was. It was like realizing that the mean girl at school, muttering insults under her breath, was actually complimenting your fashion sense (and giving you some useful pointers too). If we’d received that feedback with an open mind in the first place, we would have gotten the revision done a lot sooner.

Lesson #2: Thinking your book is done is usually a clear sign that you need to do another draft.  

You should never tempt fate using the word “final” when naming a draft of your book (as in “SparkedFinal.doc”). Just as we were treating ourselves to a celebratory lunch, we received notes from editor number two, our line editor. More changes were needed, including more “sexual tension.” Believe us, it is not easy to find a way for the hero and heroine to make eyes at each other while also trying to prevent the end of the world. But we set to work again.  

In the end, both editors were totally right and we’ re grateful to them for their brilliant insights and even more grateful the book is finally finished (or at least going to press. If you see more that we should have changed, maybe keep it to yourself at this point). We’re also excited that the book is coming out in October because it’s a spooky book that takes place in the week before Halloween, and…

Well, after all that work, we don’t want to spoil the story, do we?

We will update again when there’s more concrete news to share (readings! parties!) but for now, we are deeply grateful for your support and your patience and we can’t wait to send our book to you.


The ‘lenas


Dear SPARKED readers,

We’re thrilled to announce that we have 671 preorders! (But who’s counting?) To celebrate making it past the 650-copy milestone, we’re posting Chapter Five. This is where the story starts to get really spooky - perfect pre-Halloween reading! 

We still have 79 preorders to go. There appears to be a sale going on today! The ebook is currently marked down to $5.99 and the paperback is $15.99. We’re still offering a free personalized writing consultation with every order. Details here: http://www.bay-ata.com/sparked/free_coaching.php. That’s a steal at $5.99 (if you buy the e-book) and it’s transferable and non-expiring. We’d be so grateful if you could spread the news to any writer friends, nieces/ nephews, and so on. Consider getting the book/consultation package as a gift for the aspiring writer in your life! We particularly love connecting with teenagers. If you’re interested in having more than 750 words read, contact us about a special offer for people who want 50 pages read and critiqued.

In other news, we had a blast doing this interview about the book: http://www.talesoftheravenousreader.com/2016/10/be-part-of-publishing-process-with.html We dish out our best writing advice and also tell all about how we came up with the idea with Sparked one rainy Friday the thirteenth, over cocktails. 

Thank you all so much for your generous support! We are sooooo close to being at our goal! We couldn’t have gotten here without your help.




What’s that you say? It’s "Mean Girls’ Day"? You may not even have known that there was such a thing. But indeed: October 4th is "Cinnamon Rolls Day." It’s "National Ships In a Bottle Day." It’s "Taco Day." And it’s "Mean Girls’ Day."  Since we couldn’t let this one go by without any fanfare, we’re celebrating by posting Chapter 4. This is the one that comes right before things get weird. (Weirder?) In other words, the next chapter will begin to reveal how this novel fits into a fantasy contest. We were initially going to wait and post this chapter to celebrate hitting 600 preorders, but with just 5 to go from that milestone, it seems worth celebrating early (crossing our fingers to cross that line soon). But hey--I’m also al for eating dessert before the meal. Life’s short. Better to celebrate prematurely than not at all. 

If you’re reading along, happy Mean Girls’ Day! Hope you enjoy. Oh yeah, and THE TOTE BAGS ARE IN! I’m going to figure out how to upload an image of someone stylish rocking one. From here til the campaign’s end, if you order 3 copies, you get a tote bag mailed to you with our compliments (and profuse thanks).



Hello dear readers, 

If you preordered Sparked, we are so grateful to you and so excited for you to read it. In fact, we made a spooky new book trailer for you. 

Check it out: www.sparkedbook.com 

Or just go to our Inkshares page: https://www.inkshares.com/books/sparked

As you know, Sparked reached the initial goal we set and will be published by Inkshares in 2017. But being published is just the beginning. We also need Inkshares to put marketing muscle behind the book and to distribute it into bookstores. To get that, we need 750 preorders in total and we are well on our way, but we still need help.

We only need 189 more orders to cross the finish line.

To help us get Sparked into bookstores, then it would be fabulous if you could take a moment to do this:

Forward this email to one person who might be interested in Sparked.

That could be parents who have a teenager (a kid as young as 10 or 11 is fine, since the book won’t be out for a year). Or a young or old aspiring writer who could use our free coaching offer (transferable and non-expiring): http://www.bay-ata.com/sparked/free_coaching.php. Or an adult who loves reading young adult fiction.

We also have a special gift for anyone who orders 3 copies from now until the end of the campaign: a SPARKED tote bag, designed by Inkshares author Kaytalin Platt. It’s really cute, and who doesn’t love "merch" (or at least saying the word "merch"?) And we will send it to you ASAP-no thumb twiddling while you await that tote bag!

Thank you so much again! 


Helena and Malena

Week One: Update and More on Free Writing Coaching


A HUGE thank you for your preorder! Because of your amazing support, we hit our initial goal of 250 preorders in a single day.  That means Sparked will definitely be published, and you will get a copy. We couldn’t be more thrilled and grateful!

Now we have a new goal. As of this writing, Sparked has 410 preorders (not that we, um, check every five minutes or anything). It is the current frontrunner in the Inkshares fantasy contest and we think we have a good chance of hitting 750 preorders by the end of November. If we win the contest and/or get 750 preorders (whichever comes first),Sparked will get a lot more bells and whistles from Inkshares along with publication, including marketing, publicity and distribution into bookstores across the country. That is a big deal, and all of this would help our book to find a broader readership.

Many of you have generously asked if there’s anything more you can do to help. Thank you! There are two things you can do: 

1)   Tell (or keep telling) your friends about Sparked on Facebook: just go to our website, http://www.bay-ata.com/sparked/, and click on the little “Share” button at the top.

2)   Spread the word about the special gift we have for anyone who places a preorder by September 19: a free writing consultationhttp://www.bay-ata.com/sparked/free_coaching.php

That’s personal writing coaching from one of us, both Stanford writing instructors, for as little as $10 (the cost of an ebook)!

The last week has been a rush, but one of the most fun things was receiving a submission of a 7 page "novel" about a clan of nymphs who can talk to animals, by a ten-year-old girl. The coolest part? Her fifth grade teacher purchased the book as a (future) gift for her, so that the child could get this free writing consultation, because she thinks that this girl is such a gifted writer--and she’s absolutely right. It was a delight to read and correspond with her about her writing and aspirations. 

We also got the chance to read and respond to a very talented grown-up writer’s agent query letter, describing the novel she has been working on in hopes of securing representation.

We LOVE getting this chance to work with our readers’ writing. We love the range of material that we get to see from writers of all ages, and at all levels. So it would be absolutely fantastic if you could share this info with any aspiring writers that you know, young or old. 

Note that you do not have to use this service immediately. You only need to order a copy of the book within the preorder period (up until the end of November) but the chance to use our service won’t expire! Let’s say you know a kid who will be applying to college later this year, or you want help with an agent query letter but haven’t drafted it yet, or you want a fresh pair of eyes on the prologue of your own supernatural thriller but are waiting to finish a draft? No problem! You can send us your writing now or later. 

If anyone’s eager to start reading, you can now check out chapters one, two and three on our Inshares/Sparked page. We added Chapter 3 this week as a way of saying thank you and, we hope, enticing you to read more!

Finally, one of the great pleasures of publishing this way has been feeling newly connected (or, in many cases, reconnected) to an amazing community of readers and writers—and old and new friends.  

Thank you for being part of this! It TRULY wouldn’t be happening without each of you.


Malena and Helena 

Jamison stone headshot square 2021 Jamison Stone · Author · added almost 6 years ago
@Lena (Helena and Malena) Followed and excited to learn more about Sparked!

Sorry for bombarding you with updates. It’s a huge day, with lots happening. We promise you won’t be getting messages from us on an hourly basis soon! Just wanted to share that SPARKED is now 10th place, in the top 10 for the Geek&Sundry fantasy contest. We are super excited by this development! Every preorder advances us in this contest. We SO appreciate the support that got us this far, and hope to keep this amazing momentum going. The book IS a contemporary fantasy. You have to read on before things start getting weird--but believe us, they do! (Hopefully that’s a good thing, depending on your taste!) 

Dear supporters and followers,

We launched our funding campaign this morning, and it’s been an incredible day so far. Thank you so much for following us, and to those of us who have preordered our book, THANK YOU! 

We really didn’t know what to expect from this process, and we are overcome with gratitude for your support. I was up at the crack of dawn today getting ready to launch, and my adrenalin is still keeping me going. It has been a long time since we put any new material from Sparked up on the site, so we’ve just posted the second chapter. We will keep putting chapters up as the campaign continues, until we’ve shared enough of the book that you have a good taste of it. (And hopefully want more!) 

Really, all that this update is for is to say thank you. Both of the ’lenas (Malena and Helena) so appreciate your interest and investment in our book. People often talk about how a book is like a baby-you make it, raise it (well, grow it) and then release it into the world. Sometimes, when we were working on Sparked, I felt like we were both the parents of this crazy tale we’d concocted together. Now I feel like our child is in school, and this first day couldn’t have gone better. Thanks to all of your support, it stands a chance not only of getting into the world, but doing well there. 

OK-clearly I need to get out of the house more. (Get a new metaphor, at least!) 

But really, thank you. We are so touched by, and grateful for, every single preorder. And excited to keep forging ahead!


Lena (Malena and Helena)

My computer clock tells me it’s 4 am. That’s about the time when Laurel, the main character in SPARKED, wakes up to find her sister missing from her bed, and the novel begins. 

No one in my home has been abducted (that I know of). But I was so excited to launch this book campaign today that I woke up and couldn’t fall back asleep. So I decided just to do it. 

This is is, folks. Thanks so much for bearing with us, if you’ve been following along for the past few months. It has taken us a moment to get ready to pre-sell copies, but we’re finally doing it. I just clicked the button and our campaign is launched. (Wow-that makes me feel like an astronaut or something).

The novel is completely written and, though I’m sure it could use one more edit (because even when I read aloud from my last published novel, I’d see things I wanted to fix) it’s in pretty good shape. Good enough for government work, as my dad used to say. We are so excited to give our little project wings. Well, actually, to ask you to help us to give it wings. 

For every 25 copies that we pre-sell, I will be uploading another section of the book, probably about 5 pages (a stand alone scene) at a time. I hope that gets us through a scene or two in the next few days. 

Our novel is a thriller about what happens when high school mean girls get superpowers, and a girl they bully has to count on them to save her sister, whose abduction may be connected to an ancient prophecy. It’s set in this world (in Cascade, Oregon) but definitely veers into supernatural territory after the story gets going. We will be entering the Geek&Sundry fantasy novel contest, and while we know that this isn’t quite the same as some of the higher fantasy novels therein, we hope to add something new to the mix of wonderful books already doing so well. 

Thanks again for following us. If this sounds intriguing to you, we’d be endlessly grateful if you supported SPARKED and helped to make this dream of ours of publishing this book a reality.

Hello dear Insharkesians,

I sincerely hope that everyone is enjoying the last and hottest weeks of summer! It’s 104 here in Oregon, where I’m visiting my mom. Not that I’m complaining. After a "summer" in the low 60’s in San Francisco, it’s great to sweat and need sunglasses. Also, Sparked is set in Oregon, so it’s fun to be here now, as we are getting ready to launch our Inkshares campaign, comparing the real place to the backdrop of our novel. When we were writing this book, Helena, who was born and bred in London, did an amazing job of imagining life from the point of view of a native Oregonian. I could not have done half as well if we’d chosen a Brit protagonist! This week, we wrote a column in response to a question about how to launch a later-in-life career as a freelance writer (whether it’s viable, worth it, how to go about it). It’s a little more nuts-and-boltsy than some of our other columns, but we always have fun responding to reader letters. If anyone in the Inksharesiverse has a writing question they feel flummoxed about, feel free to send it our way!


(Ma and He)lena


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