Celebrating that Tenth Book Anniversary!

Jul 2 2015, 1:51 pm in , , ,

Under ContractI’m over at the Contemporary Romance Cafe, talking about unusual anniversaries – the imminent release of my tenth Carina book! – and how we observe them.

What unusual anniversaries do you all celebrate – and what’s your favorite way to do it?

Under Contract

 The kinkier the sex, the higher the price tag…

Ryan Black has admired Celestina Sala from afar for years, her lush body and sensual nature calling to the dominant in him. For just as many years, Celestina was off-limits—married, proud and self-sufficient. But all that has changed, and now Celestina is in debt and in need…and available. Ryan proposes a contract: he’ll pay off her debt if she gives herself to him in bed, yielding control in exchange for the pain and pleasure he’ll bring them both.

There are words for women who take money for sex, and none of them are nice ones. Celestina never thought she’d have to sink this low, but giving up control sounds more enticing than ever before. And suddenly it’s not about having to give in to Ryan. It’s about wanting to.

But when Ryan’s dark past comes to light, they may both be in over their heads. The terms of his contract say her body is his…but her heart may be another story.

One thing is for sure—now that Ryan has Celestina, he can never let her go.

 

 

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The End!

Jun 30 2015, 4:10 pm in , , , , , , , , ,

Grape Arbor 6_29_15So, yesterday I finished writing THE PAGES OF THE MIND!

(There’s nothing on that link yet – I just put it there for the FUTURE.)

I’ve been writing in the grape arbor pictured above, which has been really lovely. A nice place to finish this book.

This is book four of The Twelve Kingdoms, picks up in the aftermath of THE TALON OF THE HAWK, and moves into the librarian Dafne Mailloux’s point of view. I’m pretty sure I say this every time, but wow – I was not at all sure how that one was going to come together. Even yesterday when I started writing, I didn’t know how the riddles would be answered or what Dafne would decide to do. I wrote the final pages yesterday in a sudden, accelerated rush as it all fell into place. Astonishingly wonderful experience. Worth all the emo thrashing I was doing there for a while. Which is something you all can absolutely remind me of when I’ll undoubtedly do it again.

But for now, the next book isn’t due until January 1, 2016, which feels like a *luxuriously* long time from today.

In one of those serendipitous coincidences of timing, I also found out yesterday that THE TALON OF THE HAWK was nominated by RT Book Reviews for best book of June 2015! Book 2 in this series, THE TEARS OF THE ROSE, was also nominated, in December 2014, and book 1, THE MARK OF THE TALA, received the win, the Seal of Excellence, in June 2014. So, all in all, I’m tremendously gratified at the reception this series has received. It’s been amazing.

Regina Small at RT said of TALON:

“Every time I finish a book in the Twelve Kingdoms series and declare that it’s better than the last, I feel like I’m betraying my past self. After The Tears of the Rose, I thought there couldn’t possibly be a more moving portrayal of a character’s evolution or a sexier fantasy romance. But somehow, Jeffe Kennedy has proven me wrong yet again. In The Talon of the Hawk, Kennedy explores Ursula’s divided loyalties — to her sisters and the future of the Twelve Kingdoms, and to her increasingly unhinged father, Uorsin. Ursula stepping out of her father’s shadow dovetails beautifully — and painfully — with her sexual awakening, brought on by Harlan, the powerful-yet-gentle mercenary captain. For series fans, Ursula’s story pays off so much of the ongoing mythology of the Twelve Kingdoms. And Harlan’s unwavering devotion to Ursula is so poignant and perfect — I’m still swooning.”

(Also, THE MARK OF THE TALA is on sale at Amazon for only $2.51, which is a great deal to snap up – it’s usually $9.00 or more.)

People are asking me what the next steps on PAGES are. It’s technically due tomorrow, July 1, but my excellent editor Peter Senftleben gave me an extra couple of weeks to polish. So today and maybe tomorrow, I’ll do some tweaking. Fix a few things that changed when I discovered the ending. Weave in some backstory. Fill in all the [ ] I leave in the text as I’m drafting for people and place names I need to decide on. Then I’ll send it to the CPs. They’ve already read the first 75% or so and gave me feedback on that.

Then I’ll spend the end of this week letting PAGES cool, to give me a little distance from the story, while I revise HEART’S BLOOD. This is a story – a Goose Girl retelling set in the world of The Twelve Kingdoms – that will be in an anthology with five other authors, out September 29. It’s called DARK SECRETS: A PARANORMAL NOIR ANTHOLOGY. You can read more about it here.

I’ll pick up PAGES again around July 6, after spending July 4th weekend – Independence Day in the U.S. – doing absolutely *nothing* productive.

After that? I have plans to work on a secret something I’m brewing with fabulous sister Fantasy Romance author Grace Draven.

There will also be enjoying summertime in the grape arbor. Hope you all get to also!

 

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Five Reasons to Keep Writing

Jun 28 2015, 4:26 pm in , , ,

P1012721I’m over at Word Whores, giving my top five reasons to keep writing.

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Stupid Female Drama

Jun 26 2015, 3:12 pm in , , ,

the talon of the hawkAs I was preparing to write this post, the US Supreme Court just ruled that no state can ban same-sex marriage. This effectively legalizes gay marriage in the United States.

Much excitement and rejoicing!

I’m happy for my gay friends. More, I’m happy to see the recognition of one of my fundamental beliefs: that people should be able to love and have sex in any way that makes them happy. As long as everyone is consenting, it’s nobody else’s business what people do together.

It really kind of baffles me that anyone wants to pass judgment this way.

But then, I’m not much for judgment of any kind.

So, that happened today. Some of the Supreme Court commentary that people are sharing regarding the decision is really interesting, particularly Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s musings on marriage evolving away from the concept of women as property. I also read this article, musing about gender and all the traits we associate with being male or female – both in body and mind.

And then I’d been thinking about this one review of THE TALON OF THE HAWK. I know, I know – I’m not supposed to read the reviews! In this case, however, the reviewer tagged me on social media with the review. In more than one venue. It wasn’t an amazing review, but not terrible either. Still she complained quite strongly about something that my heroine, Ursula, does near the end. I know it’s something that frustrated a number of readers – including one of my critique partners – and I did consider taking it out or changing it. In the final cut, however, it was something that I believed Ursula absolutely *would* do. It’s part of her final character change that, despite how far she’s come, she still reverts to a particular emotional habit. Yes, it’s annoying and frustrating and she’s absolutely in the wrong.

But she has to figure that out before she can really evolve as a person. To become somebody other than where she’s been heading all her life.

I get, therefor, why this reviewer was angry at Ursula for doing it – or at me for writing it – but what bothered me, and has stuck in my head, is that she referred to it as “stupid female drama.”

This seems so terribly misogynistic to me. Yes, Ursula makes the mistake of refusing to hear her lover out. She leaps to an assumption based on her own emotional issues. But why is that exclusively the territory of females? Don’t all people, regardless of their physical or mental gender, sometimes fail to listen to the people close to them? Most every major fight I’ve had with my husband had to do with one or both of us miscommunicating in some way. A lot of the time it was because we had so much emotion tied up in whatever it was that we didn’t think clearly. I think it’s fair to say that he can be worse about it than I am – and I say this with the perspective of nearly 25 years together – because I tend to be more cerebral and he’s more emotional. This has nothing to do with him being male and me being female. It has whole lot more to do with me being an INTJ and him being an INFP.

Personality has no gender, is how I see it. Nor do the emotional issues we all strive to overcome so we can be happy and fulfilled.

So, sure. There’s stupid drama and it’s Ursula’s fault, but that’s the only way that it’s female. Just as we in the U.S. can now dispense with the terms “same-sex marriage” or “gay marriage” and just call it what it is: marriage.

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Be Careful Pulling That Self-Pub Trigger

Jun 23 2015, 4:35 pm in , , , ,

columbineI’m not usually the one to give self-publishing advice. That’s because, while I’ve done a bit of it – a couple of backlist books (Petals and Thorns and Negotiation) – I’ve put a lot more focus on the traditional path. There are a lot of reasons for that, which aren’t really pertinent to today’s point, though I’m happy to talk about it if anyone wants to know.) That said, I will be doing more of self-publishing in the future, including a fab anthology project and an exciting secret something with Grace Draven.

Still, I feel like I should say something to up-and-coming writers who decide to self-publish.

Apparently there’s a lot of bad advice out there, because this particular question keeps coming up on my author loops. A gal going to RWA Annual Conference asked for advice on pitching to agents and editors. Which is great that she’s asking! I pitched for many years and it’s not easy. However, she said that she self-published the first book in her series and it’s not doing well, but the second book is almost ready. She wondered if she should pitch the first book or the second.

The answer? NEITHER.

And I should caveat this by saying that she is FAR from the only person to do this.

So here’s the deal. We all read the stories about the self-pubbed book that gets picked up by a major publisher because it did so astonishingly well. This makes for great news in part because it’s SO RARE. It doesn’t seem like it, because the stories are so high profile, but statistically this is hugely unlikely to happen. This is one of the very worst reasons to self-publish, especially the first book in a planned series. Seriously. Here’s why.

If the self-published book does not do astronomically well – and that means tens of thousands of copies – then a traditional publisher will not want it. That’s just the facts of the industry. The book has been market-tested and will hold no appeal for a traditional publisher. Which means that an agent will not want to represent it, because they know they can’t sell it to a publisher. Simple logic.

Also, pretty much no publisher will pick up the second book in a series. There are some exceptions to this. Occasionally a traditional publisher will drop a series after two books and another will pick up the third. But again, this happens when the original series did decently and I’ve only heard of it working when a bigger traditional publishing house drops it and a smaller, usually digital-first, publisher picks it up. I don’t know of any cases where they’ve picked up more than one book. It’s really a gamble that lovers of the series will buy that final book to round out a trilogy. With a series, most traditional publishers want to control the packaging and marketing from the beginning.

So the upshot of this is: 99.9% of the time, once an author self-publishes the first book in her series, she has to commit to self-publishing the entire series. If she wants to try for a traditional publishing deal, too, then she needs to pitch an entirely new series to agents and editors.

(Also, if she really wants to go the agent route, then it’s best to pitch to them first, and let THEM pitch to editors, but that’s a whole other post.)

I want to add that committing to self-publishing a series can be a terrific plan. I have several writer friends doing very well that way. One, Elizabeth Hunter – whose book THE SCRIBE (book 1 in the Irin Chronicles) I’m just *loving* – told me that she saw no significant audience for her books until she published book 3. Other people have said book 4 or even 5.

Sure, self-publish a series! But commit to that path for it and don’t look at self-publishing the first book as a stepping stone to getting it traditionally published. It *can* open the doors to having another series traditionally published. But once that first book is out there, it’s out. If you harbor hope of taking that series down the traditional path, think very carefully before you pull the trigger and click that “Publish” button.

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