I’m over at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog today, telling a shameful story about how I royally screwed up one of my very first pitches.
Here’s the cover for, the second episode (Act II) of Master of the Opera: Ghost Aria. I posted the one for Act I, Passionate Overture, last Friday. The next two will be revealed by Bookpushers on Thursday, August 15! I love how each cover is the same image, with a slight variation to reflect the theme of that Act. Here’s the blurb for this one:
In the second seductive installment of Jeffe Kennedy’s thrilling Master of the Opera, a young woman falls deeper under the spell of the man who haunts her dreams, fuels her desire, and demands her surrender. . .
With each passing day of her internship at the Sante Fe Opera House, Christine Davis discovers something new, something exciting–and something frightening. Hidden in the twisting labyrinths beneath the theater is a mysterious man in a mask who, Christy’s convinced, is as real as the rose he left on her desk–and as passionate as the kiss that burns on her lips. He tells her to call him “Master,” and Christy can’t deny him. But when her predecessor–a missing intern–is found dead, Christy wonders if she’s playing with fire. . .
If her phantom lover is actually a killer, how can she continue to submit to his dark, erotic games? And if he is innocent, how can she resist–or refuse–when he demands nothing less than her body and soul?
I love how they wrote these up – they sound ever so much better than what I would have written.
I also got this yesterday:
Nothing like a shiny award to perk a girl up! This award comes at a great time, too, because the sequel, Rogue’s Possession, comes out October 7! Which no longer seems forever in the future, huh? The other day, a couple of book bloggers who loved Pawn heard about the sequel’s release date and were squealing with excitement on Twitter, speculating about what might happen next. I may or may not have succumbed to teasing them a bit about it. 😀
Still, there’s really nothing better than having smart enthusiastic readers excited about the next book. My favorite kind of conversation ever. Having someone else love my characters and story as much – maybe more! – than I do is a kind of transcendent feeling. This is why, if for no other reason, writers should find ways to communicate with their readers. It closes that loop, the one that starts with daydreams and hours alone at the keyboard, in a way that nothing else does.
It’s difficult for many authors, I know, to figure out how to behave in public. This might sound silly, but many people who become writers succeed because they’re happy being away from society for the huge chunks of alone time needed. Musicians and others in the performing arts are necessarily more social. They have to learn to engage with their audience, at some level or another. Visual artists have a long history of being cantankerous, cranky or just plain crazy. In times past, lovers of art and books rarely met the creators. Except for publishing house horror stories about autocratic and terrifying authors, for the most part no one knew what the writers themselves were like.
Recently a book blogger asked people about meeting their favorite author and asked if they regretted it. Of course, this is like asking people about car wrecks or kitchen accidents – everyone trots out the most horrific story they know. But they told of authors ignoring them, blowing them off, acting snobbish, being downright mean, etc. If I remembered where I read it, I’d post the link because it really was instructive.
The thing is, I could kind of read into some of the stories and know where the author was coming from. Not in an excusing-them way, but in a sympathy way. Often what’s read as snobbishness or a blow-off is the author not knowing how to behave. If they’ve never worked in corporate culture, never learned to deal with a range of people, they can come off as frozen, when they’re really overwhelmed.
I read this article recently. No, I didn’t click on it just because it’s about Hugh Jackman. Okay, maybe I did, but then I *stayed* for the content! It’s a terrific contrast piece about meeting a CEO and meeting Hugh Jackman – and the first impression each made.
For me the key part of the article is this:
In three minutes, Hugh Jackman turned me into a fan for life–but he didn’t sell me. He didn’t glad-hand me. He just gave me his full attention. He just acted as if, for those three minutes, I was the most important person in the world–even though he didn’t know me and has certainly forgotten me.
There’s the way through that deer-in-the-headlights moment (or two-hour signing). The ubiquitous “they” often give the advice to ask people questions about themselves, when you’re in conversations that are stalling. It never hurts to focus on the other person and, as writers, we’re all naturally interested in character. Give that person your full attention, treat them as important and learn something about them.
After all, it’s only three minutes.
Less, in social media.
Have to throw out one more plug for the Thunder on the Battlefield: Sword & Sorcery volumes! Sister Whore Marcella has a story in Sword and I have one in Sorcery. Marcella did an amusing post on Friday comparing us to Donny and Marie Osmond. The two-volume anthology was edited by former Whore James R. Tuck and is available in digital as below. Print editions should follow soon.
Otherwise, I’m over at Word Whores today, giving some examples of mainstream successes in literature and the choices the authors faced to gain that level of success.
Looky! The covers for my Master of the Opera e-serial are starting to appear! The first two are on my website. I actually have the next two, but those will remain SEKRIT until Bookpushers reveals them on August 15. After that, there will be two more! Very exciting. There will be six episodes in all, released about every two weeks starting December 31. (At least, that’s the current word.) Here’s the blurb for Act I: Passionate Overture.
In the first tantalizing installment of Jeffe Kennedy’s ravishing serial novel Master of the Opera, an innocent young woman is initiated into a sensual world of music, mystery, passion–and one man’s private obsession. . .
Fresh out of college, Christine Davis is thrilled to begin a summer internship at the prestigious Sante Fe Opera House. But on her first day, she discovers that her dream job has a dark side. Beneath the theater, a sprawling maze of passageways are rumored to be haunted. Ghostly music echoes through the halls at night. And Christy’s predecessor has mysteriously disappeared. Luckily, Christy finds a friend and admirer in Roman Sanclaro, the theater’s wealthy and handsome patron. He convinces her there’s nothing to fear–until she hears the phantom’s voice for herself. Echoing in the labrynths. Singing of a lost love. Whispering her name: Christine.
At first, Christy thinks she’s hearing things. But when a tall masked man steps out of the shadows–and into her arms–she knows he’s not a phantom of her imagination. He is the master of her desire. . .
Didn’t they make it sound awesome? Even *I* want to read it…
So, I mentioned on Twitter that I was the subject of a priest’s sermon – and I was the GOOD example. Now, I’m trying not to be hurt that none of you believed me and I *did* promise to tell the story today, so….
Back in July, as some of you may or may not know, David and I made the journey up to northern Wyoming to bury his father. We’d been expecting it as his dad, GF, had moved into hospice a week or two before he died. Still, it was wrenching. GF was the head of a large and happy family, a courageous and warm-hearted person and we’ll miss him greatly. For us this was a three-day event, because Buffalo, Wyoming is one of those “you can’t get there from here” places. We spent Wednesday driving an hour from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, flying to Denver, taking a 19-seat prop airplane to Casper, Wyoming, renting a car and driving another two hours to Buffalo. Then we turned around and did it in reverse on Friday.
The rosary was Wednesday night and the service Thursday morning. If any of you are Catholics – or have the misfortune to be connected to Catholics – then you’ll know these were not brief services. The full Catholic Mass funeral and graveside service on Thursday took 3 1/2 hours. After that we returned to the church to eat, then hung out at David’s parents’ house for the rest of the day and evening.
It ended up being good, because it slowed us down. There was nothing to be done, but hang out, eat food, drink wine (this is the up-side of the Catholics!) and talk.
Driving back down to Casper on Friday morning, we were emotionally exhausted. We talked about the family and related conversations we’d had without each other. David was driving and I glanced down, noticing something between my seat and the center console. I dug it out and discovered it was an American passport. The owner hadn’t filled out his contact information (Bad!), but I had his name, birthday and general location.
So I searched on my smart phone and found a guy his age living in the right area. I called the number and got an anonymous voice mail, so I left a message. I really hoped he wasn’t traveling somewhere and stuck without his passport. We debated what to do then. David suggested leaving it with TSA at Casper airport. I thought TSA would likely destroy it or it would disappear into the vast depths that suck up all the stuff TSA confiscates. When we returned the rental car, I asked the very young workers at the counter if anyone had called looking for the passport. They said no. I didn’t really want to leave it with them either, because, well… they seemed sweet but not terribly conscientious.
I took it with me.
During our layover in the Denver airport, my cell phone rang and it was him! Turns out this guy is a priest, lives in Buffalo, New York, and had missed the passport but had no idea how to go about dealing with it. He’d flown out to Wyoming the week before to help another priest struggling with a problem in his community.
I felt kind of emotional about it. The time we’d spent doing the rosary, mass and funeral was easily the most time I’d been in a church in years, maybe decades. I’m not a religious person – this likely comes as no shock to you all – but I did major in religious studies in college. More, I associate the church with my family. I often joke that I’m Catholic the same way that I’m Irish – it’s in the genes, whether I observe anything or not. GF died on July 4. David and I were in Denver at the time, helping my mom and Stepdad Dave clear out the house I grew up in. My stepfather Leo, a former Catholic priest, had married my mother a year after we moved in and died there 35 years later. His brother, my uncle who is still Catholic priest, was heavy on my mind. He’s living in an assisted living/retirement community and had really dropped contact with us after Leo passed away. While I was in Denver, I called the place, as my uncle canceled his cell phone, and got his mailing address. I tried to call him on his room phone, but got his voice mail.
The Monday after we got home, I took the passport to the post office and mailed it to Father Sam. With it I included a note where I talked about some of these same things. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, but it felt like it did mean something.
This week, a big box arrived for me. Turns out Father Sam of Buffalo, New York, also runs a bakery! This story can’t get any better. He sent me pita bread, amazingly delicious olive oil, salsa and these thin nacho chips that are out of this world. He also enclosed a note:
Dear Jeffe Kennedy,
Thank you! It is always good to be at the other end of a nice action. I have already used what you did as an example in my sermon this past Sunday. It often is a “pain in the neck” to go out of our way esp. when we are about hard stuff in our own lives.
You have made a difference and I preach a lot that God calls us to make a difference not save the world. He will do that!
God Bless you and your family,
Father A Sam
I want you all to know that I wept a little bit, even transcribing that. I’m not sure I can explain why. Maybe because I struggle sometimes with feeling like I’m not always the best person I can be. I dwell sometimes on friendships and connections I’ve lost, why some seem to end for no reason at all – except that I suspect it’s my fault, somehow. Maybe part of the take-home message is that making a difference for someone else doesn’t have to be a grand action. Even the little things count.
At any rate, I didn’t mean to make this a sad story – or such a long one! You all have a lovely weekend. Carien and Amy, you won books from Tuesday’s post, so let me know which ones you want!
Thunder on the Battlefield is out in digital on Amazon! My story, Negotiation, is in this volume, Two or Sorcery. The wise and wonderful Marcella Burnard has a story in Volume One, Sword. We’re like bookends!
For those who don’t know, Negotiation, is a prequel short story to my upcoming trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, coming out starting next June. This will give a little taste, but you won’t need to read the story to understand the trilogy. Just a bit of a puzzle piece.
Okay, so it’s not a pet-the-pretty cover, but bloody decapitations for the win! The Thunder on the Battlefield anthology is out in digital on Thursday! (Or so they promise – it’s not up anywhere yet.) There’s to be print editions as well, theoretically out “mid-August.” I’ll try to keep you all apprised. My story, Negotiation, is in Volume II (pictured). It’s a bit of a prequel to my Twelve Kingdoms trilogy that will be out starting next June. Here’s the blurb:
A wounded warrior trapped by the sorceress who knows him better than he does himself…
General Uorsin escapes the last devastating battle, only to find himself alone on a mountain, feverish and no closer to finding the paradise that drives him on. Salena, greatest shapeshifter and magic-worker of her people, springs the trap she’s set to protect her land—and to prevent the ravager Uorsin from ever reaching it.
Together, they spend a night setting the terms that will determine not only the rest of their lives, but the fates of the peoples of the Twelve Kingdoms—and the thirteenth.
Amusingly, since this will be the first story about this world that any of you see, I’ll have to obey everything I set up in it. This is a bit unsettling as I’m currently drafting book 2 (The Tears of the Rose) and revising book 1 (The Mark of the Tala). I swear, you guys, I’m having to set up a series bible and draw maps and everything. I don’t know what’s gotten into me.
I can tell you one thing – no one does this kind of thing for the erotic romances.
At least, I haven’t had to. Though, now that I think about it, seeing a bible for such a thing would be hysterical. I’m imaging a catalog of sex acts and so forth. Come to think of it, I’ll have an erotic novel coming out in the next year or so that might need it. I’ve just received a contract from Carina for three full-length erotic romances (yay!) and one will involve a very complex, living BDSM contract. I very well may have to lay that out. So to speak.
Anyway the first of those isn’t due until March 1, so I’ll think about that in the spring. Fiddle-dee-dee.
(Did you all know that Scarlett O’Hara was only 16 at the beginning of Gone with the Wind? It explains so much…)
At any rate, here is the new, reduced book pile. Three commenters will win a book!
I’m over at Word Whores today (okay, second day in a row, but I swear my schedule will settle down now), giving my best suggestion for an as-yet unpublished writer to market themselves.
I’m over at Word Whores today (because I swapped last Sunday), talking about why drafting is the holy work and revising sucks.