Be Persistent, but with Intelligence

This gorgeous Cooper’s Hawk was hanging out for a while outside our bedroom window this morning. They feed on smaller birds and this one had a great stake-out point overlooking the path the quail take most days. 

A long time ago, back when I was in grad school, I made extra money tutoring athletes. This was at a university with a substantial and competitive sports program. On weeknights, the department sponsored tutoring for the athletes from 9pm to 11pm, and paid us $10/hour. I’d go there 2-3 nights/week and hang out, do my own work if no one came by and needed me. I was the math and science go-to specialist. 

I liked doing it. Teaching math and science did a lot to clarify my own understanding – and it could be fun to go back to more basic algebra and geometry. A lot of these guys were in pretty basic math classes, and had to maintain certain GPA levels to keep their athletic scholarships. They were also generally sweet and grateful for the help. Though sometimes offended if I didn’t know who they were. More than one superstar couldn’t believe I’d never been to one of the basketball or football games. 

Early in the semester, in particular, it was a pretty sweet job. I earned $20 to sit there and study for my own classes.

But, toward the end of the semester, I’d get really busy. Inevitably these guys would show up a week before the final exam, determined to do well on it, so they could get a B or C – whatever they needed to keep their scholarship. 

And the first thing I’d have to do is show them the math. Not the math for the final, but for calculating their grade. Let’s say they’d had four exams for the class, including the final, each equally weighted. If they’d failed the first three exams – let’s say with a 50 out of 100, though it was often less than that – then even if they got a perfect 100 on the final, they’d come out of the class with a 62.5 average. Not a B or C in any universe, unless the professor graded on a curve. Which, in these classes, they never did.

These were never easy conversations to have – and often they didn’t believe me. Maybe it had to do with a mindset of team sports – that it was somehow always possible to rally at the end and win.

In many things, it is. 

In others, well… a big effort at the end, no matter how sincere, is sometimes not enough to make up for the past. 

It’s a hard lesson to learn. Especially because it feels not optimistic, to realize that past performance means we cannot possibly succeed with the current project. 

But there’s a restfulness, too, to abandoning a doomed effort. With these guys, I’d have them talk to the athletic director, to set up probation and get them set up to retake the class the following semester. I’d tell them to come see me from the very beginning of the semester and I’d help them through it.

Some of them would. Some of them learned from past mistakes and did better the next time around.

That’s why I like the idea of intelligent persistence. We laud persistence – I certainly do – but sometimes that’s not all that’s needed. Intelligent persistence means knowing when to change up the approach, when to retreat to fight another day, another way.

Sometimes, that’s what you have to do. 

I nearly forgot! (Okay, I *did* forget, then came back and added this.) THE FORESTS OF DRU, book 4 of the Sorcerous Moons series is available for pre-order on Amazon!!

Killing Prince Charming

Okay, so… the cover for THE FORESTS OF DRU isn’t  *quite* ready, but here’s a teaser. You guys, it’s so pretty!! The good news is that the book is up for preorder now!! Just at Amazon so far, but the rest will be coming. Release date is January 24 for sure!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: Burning Bridges: Killing Off Characters in Your Fiction As a Plot Point. Come on over to hear my story about this

THE EDGE OF THE BLADE on Net Galley! (and Other News)

I got this a while back and saved it for you all. Fabulous reader Julie Fine texted it to me upon receipt of an ARC of THE EDGE OF THE BLADE. I think she was pleased. 🙂

I’ve been getting bits here and there about EDGE, which releases in a month on December 27, so I’ll start sharing them. The most important bit of info, it’s on Net Galley now

Booklist gave it a lovely review:

Kennedy (Pages of the Mind, 2016) continues the Uncharted Realms series with Jepp, a member of the queen’s guard more comfortable on a mission than in society, being named as an ambassador. Luckily, Jepp has Prince Kral, once her lover, to help her along. Jepp’s view of how women are to behave clashes with the norms of the Dasnaria hierarchy. She chafes under Dasnarian restrictions until she is summarily banished from court. She just wants to sleep with whomever she wants, whenever she wants. And she wants Kral—again. That’s not too much to ask, is it? Despite her ejection and reluctance to embrace her new role, Jepp ultimately takes to it in her own way, earning respect from the royal family. Fantasy adventure, snarky dialogue, and hot sex help Jepp find her way back to her beloved queen for her next assignment. Readers new to Kennedy’s series will do well to read it from the beginning, though this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone.
— Ilene Lefkowitz

Exact Warm UnholyIn other news, if you hadn’t heard, two novellas originally only available in collections are now out as stand-alone buys! EXACT WARM UNHOLY, which originally appeared in THE DEVIL’S DOORBELL anthology, is a contemporary erotic romance, with characters unrelated to any of my other series. Kristen Ashley really liked it, saying on her Goodreads blog

And I was again stunned. Stunned by the originality of the concept of this story. Stunned by the emotions it made me experience in such a short expanse of time. Stunned by the beauty of the romance in it that ran parallel to the overwhelming sadness throughout. 

The other, THE CROWN OF THE QUEEN, is a novella set in the world of The Twelve Kingdoms, involving most of the main characters from the initial trilogy and setting up the story that starts up in The Uncharted Realms

Dafne holding the crown of the Thirteen Kingdoms with the stained glass window behind her

Also, a bit of exciting news I think I haven’t yet mentioned elsewhere, I’ll be bundling the first three Sorcerous Moons books into a print volume, using the fabulous cover for THE TIDES OF BÁRA. Will have a release date on that soon! Maybe a good holiday gift! *nods* *flutters lashes*new-landing9

The Ones Who Gave Up: Great Cautionary Tales

The Tides of BaraAt last, the much-anticipated next installment in the Sorcerous Moons series, THE TIDES OF BÁRA is out! About and Buy Links at the bottom of the page.

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is “My favorite great cautionary tale in the writing world.”

I could cite a lot of Great Cautionary Tales, but with NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month) on the horizon, I’m going to pick this one: Don’t Give Up.

Or, put positively, KEEP GOING!

Come on over to the SFF Seven to read more. 

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A Narrow Escape 

With her secrets uncovered and her power-mad brother bent on her execution, Princess Oria has no sanctuary left. Her bid to make herself and her new barbarian husband rulers of walled Bára has failed. She and Lonen have no choice but to flee through the leagues of brutal desert between her home and his—certain death for a sorceress, and only a bit slower than the blade.

A Race Against Time 

At the mercy of a husband barely more than a stranger, Oria must war with her fears and her desires. Wild desert magic buffets her; her husband’s touch allures and burns. Lonen is pushed to the brink, sure he’s doomed his proud bride and all too aware of the restless, ruthless pursuit that follows…

A Danger Beyond Death… 

Can Oria trust a savage warrior, now that her strength has vanished? Can Lonen choose her against the future of his people? Alone together in the wastes, Lonen and Oria must forge a bond based on more than lust and power, or neither will survive the test…

Buy the Book

The Transition that Became a Book

The Tides of BaraAt last – it’s release day for THE TIDES OF BARA! The next installment in Lonen and Oria’s epic tale is here! 

I have a somewhat sheepish confession to make. You can gaze on this gorgeous cover by Louisa Gallie to salve your soul while you brace yourself. I’ll wait.

Ready?

(It really is a pretty cover, isn’t it?)

Okay, okay – head on over to Here Be Magic to read the rest.

Why the Truth Doesn’t Hurt

The Tides of BáraFirst off, some exciting news!! For all of you who have loved Louisa Gallie’s amazing cover for THE TIDES OF BÁRA (book #3 in my Sorcerous Moons fantasy romance series), you can now get *stuff* with the image from Society 6!!! I know I’m going to be doing some shopping!!

So… I’ve been brewing a bit of a rant. But it has nothing to do with politics!

I read this book that I really hated. This was particularly disappointing because it was very well written – at least the beginning was. I had high hopes for it to be a top pick. However, the bulk of the book didn’t live up to the truly stellar beginning (which happens) nor did I think it lived up  to the considerable hype (which certainly happens a lot). None of this, however, is why I hated it.

I hated it because the author went to extremes to make the story brutally heartbreaking.

Now, I’m going to caveat that, while I am a big fan of happy endings, this is not what bothered me. I’m okay with a tragic ending. I went into this book expecting a tragic – even brutally heartbreaking – ending, because I’d been warned. Even if I hadn’t hear people talking about how it broke their hearts, I would have known at the beginning because it’s clearly telegraphed. There’s even a kind of warning quote in the frontispiece that essentially says that the story will be painful because it’s the truth.

(I’m going to some lengths here not to identify the book, because that’s not my purpose here.)

So, the logic of the story is this: the ending is over-the-top tragic, with a profound betrayal. There’s insult added to injury. And then it’s excused in a way by this warning, by saying “Oh yes, this is really painful because it’s true.”

I call complete and utter bullshit on this.

Truth has nothing to do with pain.

And that ending is painful, not because it illuminates some universal truth, but because the author WANTED it to be brutally painful. It was so contrived to be heartbreaking that it made me truly angry. In romance we often talk about the unearned happy ending – when the story fails to convince the reader that the couple have a real chance at happiness. I found this tragic ending to be unearned. In Romeo and Juliet, the ending is believably tragic because of the cascade of disasters and errors. In this book… I didn’t believe the main character would go to the lengths they did. The explanation that’s tossed about is that the person is a sociopath.

Well… okay. But if the only explanation to justify that result is to describe the person as not being a normal human being, then this is hardly a truth. It’s a monstrous characterization. And the pain is nothing inherent or true – it’s simply plastered on to elicit this emotional reaction.

In brewing this rant, I planned to address the relevance of the idea that the truth hurts – so I looked up the origin of the quote. I fully expected it to be from the Bible or Shakespeare. 

Not so much!

In fact, PEOPLE, THIS QUOTE DOESN’T EXIST!

At first I couldn’t believe it, so I got a couple of research-fiend friends (Thank you Kelly Robson and Erin Hartshorn!) to look, too, and they couldn’t find it either. Erin found a French version (il n’y a que la vérité qui blesse –  it’s only the truth that wounds) that’s attributed as a proverb, but it’s not from the biblical Proverbs. We couldn’t find “The truth hurts” anywhere except in internet memes. 

Which – do I have to say this? – don’t count as citable quotations or as universal truths.

So, let’s all get over this idea that the truth is painful, okay? You want to explore pain and betrayal, sociopathic behavior, power and the way it corrupts – sure, do that! I’m interested in those themes, too, which is in part why I wanted to read this book. But I take offense at the idea of presenting a painful story and justifying doing so as “true” to something.

Pain is no more true than pleasure. Sorrow no more true than joy.

And a tragic ending isn’t more valuable than a happy one.

Enough with this already