In the Jealous Games People Play

Gamma Phi Spring FormalIt’s not Throwback Thursday, but I’m in a nostalgic frame of mind today. I heard a song we danced to back in the sorority days and had one of those gut-punching visceral memories of dancing to it with my sisters. That’s us at one of our spring formals and me in the front in the lavender dress. Note that my lace fingerless gloves match my stockings. Serious fashion choices, my friends.

 People seem to react with surprise when I mention I’m a sorority girl. (Can’t say “was,” because I’m a Gamma Phi forever!) Of course, some of that reaction is no doubt due to the fierceness with which I’ll say so. Because I usually end up mentioning when somebody makes disparaging comments about sorority girls. It’s not unlike some of the things I hear about romance novels and writers, come to think of it. There’s a kind of sweeping dismissal of sororities as frivolous, brainless and, well, worthless. So, when I hear one of these remarks, I’ll usually tell the speaker that I’m one of those bimbos and let it go from there.

This song in particular reminds me of the soror and those days because it was kind of our anthem. Two of the older girls, Annarose and Sara, who were juniors when I was a freshman pledge, took it as their theme song. It spread from there. At dances, when it came on, we would all abandon our dates and dance in a circle together. Sure – we heard criticism for it. The guys would snerk. People would say sometimes that we were known for doing that and it was weird. We didn’t care about any of that. People also said that we had a true sisterhood in our chapter – something mentioned with puzzlement on occasion.

Annarose and Sara were both larger than life to me. I knew Annarose better, because she was our Pledge Trainer, so we met with her weekly. Part of becoming a full member meant attending these meetings to study the sorority history and eventually pass an exam, which included memorizing the names and faces of all 80 active members. To this day I can recite the Greek alphabet, backwards and forwards – a dubious skill, but excellent party trick. Our study sessions extended to coursework, also, and active members came in to mentor us, a much more obviously useful benefit at our highly competitive liberal arts college.

At any rate, Sara and Annarose had been roommates since the random draw of their freshman year. Sara had a habit of saying “Annarhose,” with an aspirated French accent, which naturally shortened to Hose over time. Hose was hysterical. Boisterous, caring, smart as a whip, she quickly became one of my favorite people. Sara was her polar opposite – quiet, reserved, even icy. With very white skin, pale blonde hair and a thin, ascetic frame, she seemed an unlikely match for Hose. By this you might understand that Hose was, as they euphemistically say, a big girl. It wasn’t something I much understood at the time because I thought these things wouldn’t matter in college. We were about degrees and careers, not who looked cute enough to make the cheerleading squad.

I learned better, over time, as you can imagine.

Also, as I’m sure you can imagine, people said mean things about Hose and Sara. Speculated about their relationship – also something I never thought about at the time. I just knew that they loved to dance to the Go-Go’s Our Lips Our Sealed. And we danced with them, all of us, because we were sisters. When we were together, it truly didn’t matter what people said. We could forget their lies.

I’ll always be grateful I had that.

Trolls and Toxicity – Battle Strategies for Dealing

the talon of the hawkI’m over at Word Whores today, talking about strategies for dealing with both online trolls and toxic people in your life. Because it’s the same answer for both.

I’m also at Urban Girl Reader today, talking about more frivolous things – namely my favorite moments in Rogue’s Paradise when modern human woman runs up against the inhuman mindset of her fae lover.

Italics – Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em?

BybRrwuIQAAlsHEI love this photo of my granddaughter – with that fiercely determined expression on her face. And a fabulous dress!

278f6053455ece92a29f80580e5b5051ccb0799187a1b7c6f70f233966766280I’ve got a couple of guest posts up today. I’m at Vamp Chix talking about making an unlikable heroine likable.

I’m also over at Geeks in High School (weren’t we all??), talking about my issues with being a compulsive lender of books. They added this meme, which is perfect and made me laugh.

So sadly true!

 One other housekeeping thing: My first newsletter will be out soon. As a very special treat, I plan to include in it the prequel story for my Twelve Kingdoms trilogy: Negotiation. Previously it was only available in this anthology. So, if you haven’t already and you want this free story (!), then sign up to receive the newsletter here or here. Seeing as how it’s taken me FOREVER to get around to doing a newsletter at all, I feel pretty safe promising that I won’t flood your inbox.


Moving on!

We had an amusing conversation on Twitter this morning. One of those things I didn’t expect everyone to feel so passionate about. On one of my author loops, a guy asked about setting off messages from an AI (Artificial Intelligence) in orbit. (See? Writers have the best conversations!) One gal said please, please, please don’t use italics. I said, why the hell not? Italics would be my first suggestion. A BUNCH of people chimed in after that with variations of “Duh, Jeffe – everyone knows that readers hate italics and skim or skip them entirely.”

Um… really?

Because I had never hear this assertion before. (See what I did there?) Also, I’m tremendously suspicious of any “rule” that starts with “everyone knows.” Usually that’s a shortcut for saying “I assume this is true, but I’ve never examined the foundation for this assumption.” Just recall that at one point everyone knew the world was flat. Because obviously.

I also, because today is clearly the Day of Spurious Assertions, just saw an article that said there are no naturally occurring blue foods.


So, I did what one does in these circumstances – or, at least, what I do – and took it to Twitter. The  ensuing conversation is quite long. The results of my extremely biased, very small and earnestly opinionated sample showed that readers, I’m pretty sure every one who replied, said some version of “um, what??” Just as I did. No one expressed hatred of italics. You know who did?

The editors.

 Yeah, at least four editor types said they don’t like italics and readers will skim.

Interesting, huh?

So! Other opinions on this?? Is it a real thing or an editor/font-fanatic thing?

E-Books and “Real” Reading

IMG_0044The other day I saw yet another article on how we read differently on paper versus electronically. Inevitably it was posted by a writer friend who rather smugly added the comment that she has gone back to reading on paper. That’s the part of all of this that bugs me, that these articles and “research studies” seem to be always accompanied by the attitude that reading on paper is virtuous and reading electronically is Bad and Wrong.

 Now, I obviously have a horse in this race because 12 of my 14 released books are available in digital form only, and all are available in digital as well as on paper. More than that, I am a digital reader. I love love love how being able to have an ereader has changed my life. From the instant availability of the books I want to read to the desperately needed reduction in bookshelf space, ereading has been a major blessing for me.

There. I’m biased,

So are these articles, only they don’t admit to it. Worse, they make irritating leaps of logic. Most of you know I come from a science background, so I tend to read for how well a study is constructed. A well-constructed experiment controls for variables. If we’re going to make statements like this from that article:

Neuroscience, in fact, has revealed that humans use different parts of the brain when reading from a piece of paper or from a screen.

You have to define the terms. I won’t get started on the irresponsible use of the umbrella term “Neuroscience,” as if that’s not a field that comprises thousands of disciplines. We might as well say “Science has revealed!” Oops, guess I did get started on that. The real transgression in that sentence – indeed through that entire article – is that the terms “reading” and “screen” are never defined. Reading what on what kind of screen? It matters, particularly if we’re comparing it to reading what they DO specify as “deep reading” – the concentrated kind we do when we want to “immerse ourselves in a novel or read a mortgage document.

Okay, so if we want to really evaluate what parts of the brain we use while reading on a screen vs. paper, then we have to control for EVERYTHING except the one difference: digital vs. paper. But they don’t do this and it makes me crazy!!! Instead they say things like:

And that uses the kind of long-established linear reading you don’t typically do on a computer. “Dense text that we really want to understand requires deep reading, and on the internet we don’t do that.”

The internet??? I’m reading a mortgage document or novel on the INTERNET??? No no no. I read a novel on my Kindle, which is linear. I read the mortgage document in Adobe Reader, because they sent it to me as a pdf. This thing:

So the more you read on screens, the more your mind shifts towards “non-linear” reading — a practice that involves things like skimming a screen or having your eyes dart around a web page. 

Is about reading web pages or Twitter or Facebook or blog posts, not novels or other important documents. They’re conflating and it annoys me profoundly because it’s creating this brand of urban myth where all these people nod and agree, saying oh yes, science tells us that reading on paper is better when it’s told us no such thing.

Amusingly, I see that an addendum was added to that article yesterday saying people had asked for research citations. So it’s not just me, which is comforting.

I recently conducted my own, very subjective, absolutely not controlled, pretty much accidental experiment on this. I reread all of J.D. Robb’s In Death books. That’s 40 novels and eight novellas. The first one came out in mass-market paperback in 1995. I started reading them around 1998 or 1999, which means I bought those paperbacks. And have them still. In 2004, the publisher moved the series into hardback and, loyal fan as I was and still am, I went with them. I have twelve of those books in hardback. After that? In 2009 I got my first ereader. I read the series digitally ever since.

So, it was interesting, reading from the beginning, consecutively and without pause, from mass-market paperback to hardback to digital, following the same characters and storyline. It’s not perfectly controlled, but it comes closer than most of my reading. Did I notice a difference?


The hardbacks are more annoying to hold, particularly in the bathtub. I didn’t give myself any quizzes on reading comprehension, but I subjectively felt like I absorbed the stories in the same way, regardless of medium. I felt the same delicious sensation of what “deep reading” means to me – immersing myself in the voice and characters so that I lose track of time and my immediate reality.

We’re in the midst of change and a lot of people don’t like change. I get that. However, I think it’s foolish to persist in this insistence that there’s a right and wrong way to read. Any more than there are right and wrong books to read.

Spare me.

Cover Reveal for THE TALON OF THE HAWK

The Talon of the HawkLook what appeared today!!

The cover for book 3 of The Twelve Kingdoms: The Talon of the Hawk.

It’s really just so perfect – exactly what I asked for. I particularly love the progression of the three covers, which capture so well my three sisters and their journeys.


themarkofthetala_300The Talon of the HawkTHE TEARS OF THE ROSE high res


Also, the tagline? “A different kind of battle.”

Spot on!

Serendipitously enough, I’m over at Shut Up & Read today, talking about how the three sisters are alike – and how they’re also very different.

Promo Pushes – The Good, The Bad and The Serendipitous

Santa RosaWe continued our tour of New Mexico – and David’s ongoing quest for a good fishing spot – with a visit to Santa Rosa on Sunday. I, naturally, make an ideal fishing companion since all you have to do is park me in a chair and let me read. No fish were caught, but I did finish reading a book and started another.

I call it a win. 🙂

Today I’m over at Word Whores (yeah, the schedule got messed up), talking about my most successful planned and serendipitous promo pushes. I’m also at Books and Tales, where I talk about Graham Joyce, his recent passing and how much I liked him – both as a person and an author.

On a happier note, I’m also at Paranormal Romantics, following a reader suggestion and analyzing the number and variety of descriptors that Rogue uses for Gwynn in the Covenant of Thorns books. Like this one:CoT 1Also – very fun! – there’s a Goodreads giveaway going on for The Tears of the Rose! This book, the second in my Twelve Kingdoms trilogy, comes out November 25, but you can get it early via this giveaway!

Party! Party!! Party!!!

AfternoonDelight finalA great big HAPPY BIRTHDAY goes out to my delightful friend and brilliant critique partner, Anne Calhoun!

Yes, she was born on September 11, which is a date shaded with bad feels now. In fact, 9/11/01 was a milestone birthday for her – and she was in Manhattan.


I think we can make THIS birthday a titch more fun!!

In one of those serendipitous co-occurrences of fortune, Anne and I have almost overlapping release dates this week, too. Rogue’s Paradise, book 3 in my Covenant of Thorns trilogy, came out on Monday, and Anne’s fabulously sexy Afternoon Delight, first in her new IRRESISTIBLE series (who can resist that??) comes out next Tuesday.

So many things worth celebrating at once that I just can’t even!

Therefore, I propose a game. For the next 24 hours, from midnight Central US time on September 11 up until the hands of the clock switch over to September 12, I want you to give Anne gifts.

Virtual ones.

Send her pictures of what you think she’d love. Tweet them to us, at @jeffekennedy and/or @annecalhoun – be sure to use the hashtag #annebday. Or paste them to our Facebook pages! Stick that #annebday hashtag on there and put them on and/or We’ll be picking our favorites, too, and sharing them. Be creative! Have FUN!


Oh, yeah – we’ll be giving away books! I’ll be giving away two digital copies of Anne’s Afternoon Delight and Anne will give likewise two of my Rogue’s Paradise. International is okay, since these are digital!

We’ll also be giving away each other’s backlists. Watch our Facebook and Twitter feeds – especially that #annebday hashtag – for flash giveaways from us and our partygirl friends!

Can’t wait for this party to get started!

~runs off to chill champagne and heat up dancing boys~