Guest Post: Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is here and has been kind enough to answer a set of questions I asked her. She set to release the third in The Uncharted Realms series. I have a review of The Shift of the Tide that I will post next week. The cover is just as gorgeous as the writing inside. It is a very worthy addition to the series. 

Imagine Jeffe and I sitting together sharing a glass of wine and talking. If you know either of this, it will not be hard. 

Here’s JEFFE, 

It’s fun to be here, virtually visiting my friend, Brenda. We had a great time drinking a lot of free wine together at the Siren’s conference in Denver last fall.

Brenda asked me an interesting set of questions: Who do you write for? Who do you have in mind when you write a story? An audience? A specific person? Or yourself?

It’s something that newbie writers get asked a lot, but that I haven’t thought about in a while. I always found the question hugely aggravating back in the day. It seemed that two kinds of people asked it – writing teachers/critiquers and agents. Who is the audience for this book? They’d ask, in this earnest, quasi-helpful way. To my ear it sounded like the agents were saying, “Can you think of more than five people who would buy this?” and the teacher/critiquers were dancing around telling you that it was a hot mess that no one could possibly want to read.

Beyond the annoying subtext, I also hated the question because I never knew the answer. The first image that sprang to mind was always one of those street shots of commuter time in New York City with thousands of people walking up and down the sidewalks. I felt like I was supposed to freeze-frame that and circle likely faces.

Look! My audience! Out there… somewhere.

People were hung up on this question. Who are you writing for? Some advice-giving types would nod sagely and say you should have one special person that you tell your stories to. Kind of a combo soul-mate/muse. I love my husband and he’s great support, but he doesn’t read fiction. I’ve had a lot of first readers over the years. Usually several at once, which I guess makes me a polygamist, special reader-wise.

But I like how Brenda phrased this: Who do you have in mind when you write a story?

Because sometimes that happens. I hear enough from my readers that I know by now which ones will love certain aspects of a story. I write parts and smile, thinking of them wriggling in delight. Sometimes I put in a detail that I know will mean something to one person, and it’s a way of sending them a hug and a wink.

Still, for the most part, having anyone’s reaction in my head while I’m writing is a problem. I have a sign over my desk that says, “What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” I look at that when I find myself anticipating reactions to what I’m writing, good or bad. For me, that “afraid” means worrying about what other people will think. And that just gets in the way.

The best writing – and by that I mean, the kind that flows without pause, that seems to come to me from another place, not necessarily the best quality or most inspired, though they’re often the same – happens when I have no one in mind.

Maybe that’s why I always hated that audience question. While I truly believe the cycle of art is completed when it reaches another person, I also think it’s best born and nurtured away from anyone else’s gaze. It’s like quantum physics – as soon as someone else’s consciousness touches the thing, it changes. There’s a time for that, and it can be an important part of the story’s eventual growth, but not during drafting.

So, Brenda, when I write, I try to have nothing and no one in mind. Not even myself.

About Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, has also been nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and is a finalist for RWA’s RITA Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and is a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The next in the series, The Shift of the Tide, will be out in August, 2017. A high fantasy trilogy taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world is forthcoming from Rebel Base books in 2018. She also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, and The Forests of Dru. She’s begun releasing a new contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince. In 2019, St. Martins Press will release the first book in a new fantasy romance series, Throne of Flowers. Her other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

http://jeffekennedy.com

https://www.facebook.com/Author.Jeffe.Kennedy

https://twitter.com/jeffekennedy

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1014374.Jeffe_Kennedy

 

 

 

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Hooray for Queer Sheros- The Edge of the Blade

The Edge of the Blade, the second book in the Uncharted Realms series by Jeffe Kennedy  tells the story of Jepp, the leader and heart of Queen Ursula’s elite guard The Hawks.  After a one night stand with a visiting Prince leads to a diplomatic crisis, Jeep’s love for her Queen leads her to  accept an assignment that delivers her to a culture steeped in misogyny, and sexism, a kingdom where women are kept as bed-slaves or married, and never allowed to lead. A glimpse of hell as far as Jepp is concerned. She uses her wit, her fighting skills and instincts to free herself and Prince Kral from the draconian kingdom that was his home. 

 Filled with sassy, sexy romance and intrigue this is the first book in a long time that I wanted to re-read as soon as I had finished it. Why? Besides the fantastic world building and ripping storytelling, I adored the fact that Jepp, the lead character is a smart, ass-kicking woman, all out of fu@ks to give, and openly bisexual. And not just a glimpse, or a tease kind of bisexual, a hinted at thing that involves a lot of suggestion and fade to black moments. Nope, Jepp owns it.

And in the course of her story where she becomes more involved with a man she only intended to have a fling with she never, ever changes. She does not give over herself to the magic c@ck, that tired trope. Nope, she likes Prince Kral, maybe even loves him and the sex is great but if he can’t get his act together, well its his loss. Bravo Jeffe Kennedy for continuing to write strong women characters who would rather be alone than not be true to themselves. 

This book works as a stand-alone but treat yourself to more of Jepp and read The Twelve Kingdoms series, and The Pages of the Mind before jumping into this book, or be like Jepp and jump in where you want too. 

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

Women’s Voices- Interview with Jeffe Kennedy

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You may have noticed that I have been on a Fantasy, with a capital F reading spree over the summer. I reviewed the first book in this series,  Lonen’s War in this post.   I confess to not usually being a fan of the slow burn type of romance, but Jeffe Kennedy has done the most amazing job of making it worth the wait. This book contains hands down one of the most scorching sex scenes I have ever read. If you have not started the series pick Lonen’s War and start from the beginning, although this book can stand alone, it will be infinitely better if you read the series in order.

If you are a fan of Jeffe Kennedy’s you may have wondered as I have at times: How the hell do you keep up with all of your projects? Blog posts, two series, short stories, interviews, teaching, etc.

Jeffe was kind enough to take the time to answer this, and other questions I had about her organization system and work process. If you can’t get enough of Jeffe after this post head over to https://sffseven.blogspot.com/ for more of her witty, engaging and informative posts.

  1. As a writer who is involved in many literary projects (book series, blog posts, short story anthologies, etc.) what is your system of organization? How do you go about managing multiple deadlines and stages of production?

JEFFE: You know the short answer to this, right? Spreadsheets! As the Spreadsheet Queen, I have an Excel workbook that’s called “Progress Count.” The name is a little deceptive because it contains so much more than that. That’s how it started, though – as a single sheet where I tracked my daily wordcounts – and that’s how I know where to find it.

In there I have a spreadsheet for every “live” project, from a fragments all the way through galley proof stage. I track daily, weekly, monthly and annual wordcounts, and I have worksheets for my priority list and commitments. The Commitments worksheet has Gantt Charts that help me visualize overlapping projects – like teaching online classes while also drafting a book, for example – and to monitor spacing of release dates. The Priority List worksheet shows which projects are in my court, which are in someone else’s court (e.g., with my editor, on submission, etc.), and which are still glimmers of ideas. I have a fairly complex system of interconnecting dates where I estimate how long a phase of a project will take, highlighting fixed deadlines, and that shows me what I need to focus on next.

Finally I have a separated workbook that houses my ongoing To Do List. My assistant tracks promo efforts – like when interviews like this are expected! – and I space them out so I do one per day. 

  1. You have generously shared your beat sheet spread sheets with word counts on the blog The SFF Seven How did those evolve?

JEFFE: When I was shopping my first novel – and was unsuccessful for a number of years – I cast about for techniques to tighten the plot structure. I hit upon the Three-Act Structure, using the percentages you reference in those beat sheets. It made sense to me as a way to understand the “bones” of my story – and to adjust the pacing – AND it fit nicely into my Progress Count spreadsheets! I use those percentages and beats to track the growth of a story as I write it, which also helps me to predict how much longer it will take me to finish. For example, once I’ve finished Act I (all the stakes are set and the Act I climax is complete), then I know I have 75% of the story still to write. It’s a very reliable predictor for me.

When I went to write a serial novel – and set up the worksheet for that – I played with the percentages to figure both the individual section pacing and where it intersected with the overall pacing. I did a blog post on that and a local RWA chapter asked me to come teach that, which led me to play with applying the formula to a trilogy also. 

  1. Do you envision a series when you start writing or start with one novel and see where it takes you?

JEFFE: I pretty much envision the series, but in a general way. The best analogy is that the whole series feels like planning a cross-country road trip. I know I’m starting in Seattle and that I want to end up in the Florida Keys. Or someplace like that. Then I start “driving” and see how far I get. Things change along the way – I might pick up hitchhikers or get stuck for a while in St. Louis. Sometimes I finish a “trilogy” and I realize I’d like to leave the Keys and take a ship to the Virgin Islands.

  1. You have referred to yourself as a gardener, building a trellis for your story to grow on versus a pantser or plotter. How did you arrive at your current system for writing organization? Do you consistently use the same system of organization?

JEFFE: I touched on this a bit above. As a writer I tend to operate intuitively. The stories feel like they flow from elsewhere and I like it that way. I’m fairly superstitious about messing with my process, too. So, yes, I consistently use this system, which has grown organically over the last twenty or so years of writing. If I find a way to tweak that system, I’ll try it out – there’s always room to grow and improve – but I’m a big believer in a writer learning her own process and owning that.

  1. If you had one thing you could say to the new/beginning/young writer what would that be?

JEFFE: It’s not popular advice, but I stand by it: Build a Consistent Writing Habit. For most people, that means writing every day, probably at the same time every day. I spent years fighting this because I simply could not fit it into my life. Finally I started getting up at 4am and writing for two hours before work in the morning. And I was *so* not a morning person! But it was the only time I could carve out to write consistently at the same time, every day. After years now, I have a consistent writing habit. I don’t necessarily have to start at the exact same time, I can take weekends off, etc. But that’s because writing is a habit for me now. I feel weird if I’m not getting the work done, instead of that awful endless cycles of procrastination and dread that consumes us before we build that habit.

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Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 and the third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind May 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, and was followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.


 

 

Book Review: Lonen’s War*

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Lonen’s war is the story of Oria, a woman raised in isolation, treated like a fragile child, and Lonen, a man fighting to stop the utter destruction of his people and the devastation of his country.  In a kingdom where control and serenity are prized and rewarded above all else, passionate and willful Oria finds herself the key to her kingdom’s survival.  Struggling to save their kingdoms, bound by their honor, trapped between their cultures, Oria and Lonen must find a way to stop the war that has opened the gates to an evil neither knew existed no matter the personal cost. 

 As a long time fan of fantasy romance, my favorite stories are those that showcase character growth.  Oria resonates as a character and her growth over the course of the book is well done. The relationship between Oria and Lonen develops at a slow but satisfying pace. Dragons, magic, and secrets abound in this first book of the Sorcerous Moons trilogy. If you are a regular reader of Jeffe Kennedy (and if you are not you are missing out,) you will find all the things you expect: strong world building, magic that makes sense, and characters you care about.  Lonen’s War is a delightful read.  Pick up a copy and let yourself be swept up in Oria and Lonen’s world.  Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.26.38 AM

You can find out more about Jeffe Kennedy and her other fabulous books at http://www.jeffekennedy.com .

*ARC Review

Book Review: The Pages of the Mind*

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Let me start off by saying I came to the Twelve Kingdom’s series sideways after reviewing Dark Secrets as part of my annual Thirteen for Halloween book post. I enjoyed Jeffe Kennedy’s story “Heart’s Blood” (a dark retelling of the Goose Girl) set in the Twelve Kingdoms so much that as soon as I finished reading it I started the Twelve Kingdom series and have not looked back. The fourth book in the series, The Pages of the Mind is the story of Dafane Mailloux, Librarian with a capital L, scholar, polyglot, and survivor. Sent to gather information for her Queen in a far kingdom Dafane is plunged into the internal intrigue and politics of a foreign land and reluctantly agrees to a marriage of alliance.

Finding herself drawn to the powerful king, now her husband Dafane discovers new powers, abilities, and love. When her queen arrives to rescue her Dafane is caught in a power struggle between the two people she loves most and must use her skills and intelligence to maintain peace in the Twelve Kingdoms. Continuing in the tradition of the other books in the series, this book has everything you expect from Jeffe Kennedy: rich world building, political intrigue, exact pacing and an exquisite love story wrapped in a delectably readable package.

If you have not started the Twelve Kingdoms series you don’t have to have read the other books in the series to appreciate The Pages of the Mind, but if you are a linear type of reader do yourself a favor and start at The Mark of the Tala, dive into The Tears of the Rose, wallow in the Best Fantasy Romance of 2015 The Talon of the Hawk and then sail with Dafane in The Pages of the MInd.

*ARC Review

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Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels.Her most recent works include the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015.She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the Word Whores blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

Book Review: The Devil’s Doorbell*

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I am a fan of anthologies for two reasons. 1.) I really dig short stories. 2.) It is a  great way to sample work by new-to-me authors.  If you gave up on reading an anthologies after English 101 it is time to try again. Treat yourself to seven delectable stories in  The Devil’s Doorbell,  a collection of hot-as-hell erotic short stories that share a common theme: Women unapologetically taking charge of their own desires and seeking pleasure on their terms.

Seven stories, seven women deciding that they get to decide where, and who with, and how, and when they find pleasure.  Seven delicious stories that display women standing up, pushing through and reveling in their decisions. Survivors. Thrill-seekers. Fem-domes. Explorers. Adventurers. They are all represented here.

In a world that works hard at limiting women’s choices through draconian laws and social pressures this collection of stories is different. The women in these stories are not waiting around for someone to show up and show them a good time. Nope. These women are going for it. Erotica featuring empowered women? Bring it.

The book releases April 26, 2016. Preorder your hotness from your favorite on-line book seller.

“Here are seven tales of sexual empowerment and erotic defiance, featuring the hottest storytellers of erotic fiction.”

Anne Calhoun,  Christine d’Abo, Delphine Dryden, Megan Hart, Jeffe Kennedy, Megan Mulry, M. O’Keefe
In the Garden, by Anne Calhoun

Forbidden fruit is the most delicious… A wedding in the bucolic English countryside offers Kelsey ripe temptation in the form of a hot groomsman, Julian. Will the illicit attraction satisfy an old craving or stoke a new desire?

Exact Warm Unholy, by Jeffe Kennedy

Tonight my name is Mary… Or is it? Sometimes she’s Tiffany or Syd or Bobbi. But whatever face she wears, she returns to the same bar, to find a new man and seduce him, safe in the knowledge that no one will recognize her. Until one man does.

Red Leather, by Delphine Dryden

Some activities are definitely not safe for work. Maggie’s sadness over being dumped quickly turns to relief and excitement when she discovers a new freedom…a new Maggie she could have never been with her ex. Combine New Maggie with Tim the Hot Mailroom Guy and an unexpected vibrator…and the office supply room door becomes the portal to a world of devilish fun.

Drowning on Dry Land, by Megan Hart

Some doors stay open until you close them. Moving on from a past love, Bette Douglas has discovered a whole new world of satisfaction and contentment with her boy Damian…but when the past comes knocking, Bette’s decision to answer it could change everything.

Devil in the Dark, by Christine d’Abo

When developer Shona needs to beta test her new app – The Devil’s Doorbell – she goes out on the prowl for a man who will fulfil her wildest fantasies – oral sex in public. What could possibly go wrong when she finds her devil in the dark?

London Calling, by Megan Mulry

“Face-sitter wanted, in exchange for free accommodation in Mayfair.” -Craigslist

She hadn’t planned on being quite so adventurous when she decided to spend the year in London, but when she read the ad, she couldn’t resist.

We Are All Found Things, by M. O’Keefe

Rennie’s trying to forget her past; her mysterious new tenant is trying to keep his past a secret. But when Rennie finds out the truth about Luka she discovers as much about herself as she does her innocent lover.

Anne Calhoun – http://www.annecalhoun.com/

Christine d’Abo – http://christinedabo.com/

Delphine Dryden – http://www.delphinedryden.com/

Megan Hart – http://meganhart.com/

Jeffe Kennedy – http://www.jeffekennedy.com/

Megan Mulry – http://meganmulry.com/

M. O’Keefe – http://www.molly-okeefe.com/

Cover by Book Beautiful – http://www.bookbeautiful.com/

*ARC Review- See disclaimer page if you have any questions.