Authors Interacting with Reviewers

Figs by Kathryn GreenwoodMy post on Tuesday, about friends who are also competitors, sparked more conversation than I expected – both in comments here and in other social media venues. It struck a chord with people, that we find ourselves in competition with the people who understand us best. I’m beginning to think that the concept of being in competition is what’s not real. Maybe that’s why we trip over it.

As I was mulling over these various comments, I saw that Elisabeth Lane over at Cooking Up Romance, put up this post, exploring her ideas about reviewing critically versus celebrating her love of the story. I became aware of Elisabeth and her blog when she tweeted about preparing the food for this review of my book, Ruby. I loved what she did so much, that I blogged about it, on the topic of sharing creativity. As I mention in that post, seeing something I imagined become an actual meal that she created was hugely satisfying and fun for me. We’ve since become friends and even met in person.

(She also did an unholy amazing take on the cannoli from Under His Touch – you have to see it!)

At any rate, Elisbeth’s post is about reevaluating her purpose for her blog, weighing the outside pressure she feels to be an objective, even critical reviewer of books against her initial concept, which was to celebrate the books she loves and do that by taking the food elements in them one step further and making them real. I really understand what she’s getting at because this is the aspect of writing and hearing feedback from readers that I love, too – this kind of communication and collaboration over something that lights us both up.

On one of my author loops, a newish writer asked about responding to reviews. This discussion comes up All The Time. There are certain reviewers in the community who are adamant – and have impressed this “rule” upon many writers – that authors should NEVER respond to reviews. They feel it creates a chilling effect on open discussion and that reviews exist solely for the reader and are off-limits to the writer. I can see the point there, particularly when writers want to argue the reader’s interpretation. (Just… no. Let it go. Once it’s published, it’s no longer solely ours.) However, what this prohibition does is kill one of the best, most exciting aspects of this art. An author writes largely in solitude and the reader absorbs the story in much the same way. It’s only then, when the reader feeds back to the author, that there can be real exchange. And it’s glorious.

I don’t think it’s fair – or even beneficial – to ask authors and readers both to forgo that profoundly exciting communication. That’s what art is about, the flow of ideas.

The photo above was taken by a longtime friend, all the way back to high school, Kathryn Greenwood Andrews. She sent it to me for Christmas, with a note that she picked figs for me because they’re the most sensual fruit. This is another kind of artistic feedback loop – that she offers to me her image that reflects the stories I tell. It’s hugely meaningful to me.

I suppose some would parse this dilemma by saying that authors should limit interaction to readers, and draw the line at actual reviewers. However, as Elisabeth points out, she wants to review the books – but only the ones she loves and wants to gush about. As with the idea that authors must compete with each other, I think the idea that a blogger must review critically and “objectively” is a false construct.

Of course, I really want Elisabeth to keep giving me culinary advice for my stories and then making the meals come true. The best kind of creative friendship.

Writers Helping Writers

B-UQ3E6CEAAPVlUI’m kind of blue today. For the past few days, my bestie and crit partner Carolyn Crane has been visiting. We got up in the mornings and did “parallel play” – working our social media and indulging in dishing about it, in a way we never get to do otherwise. Then we wrote, sometimes silently, sometimes discussing. On the best weather day we went hiking around noon. Regardless of weather we headed into town around midday and indulged in long, delicious, boozy lunches. We used the opportunity to give each other live discussion feedback on our latest works – so much better than on the phone or via social media. And we talked about writing careers in general – both our own and people we know.

This morning I dropped her off at the airport and my world feels emptier for it.

We talk a lot about writing being a solitary profession, which it certainly can be. Worse, however, the various writing communities can be, well, less than fully supportive. There’s a lot of professional jealousy out there. Carolyn and I both started our writing careers in the literary fiction world and that’s one of the worst. One of those cases where the fights are so fierce because the stakes are so small. There is very little friendship in those particular trenches, with plenty of tail-sniffing, jockeying for position and plain mean behavior. The egos run huge and the competition intense.

Neither of us miss it a bit.

The romance community is SO unbelievably better that way! With a very few exceptions, the egos remain manageable in romance. Maybe that comes from writing a much-sneered at genre or maybe from it being such a predominantly female community. Or from the original friendly and supportive mindset of the organization’s founders. Regardless, I love my sister romance writers and greatly appreciate having that network. Still, even in my few years spent in this group (six – since 2008), closer friendships have come and gone. I mourn some of the ones that have fallen by the wayside, but the ones I’ve gained more than make up for the few losses.

I’ve long observed that friendships tend to develop among the people who are doing the same things we are. You know – in college we have our college friends, and among those the theater friends or the peer counseling people. After college, most of those friendships fade away. Not because anything goes wrong, but because all that energy that came from shared daily experiences evaporates into the ether. It’s more difficult when the largest energy in my life, the experience I have to share, is with people who are also my “competitors,” in some sense. It can take an active effort to combat that, to not let it get in the way of supportive friendship.

Carolyn is an amazing friend that way. Someone I love, admire and enjoy – and who always makes me feel like an important and precious part of her life in return. Last night we skyped for nearly an hour with Anne Calhoun, sharing this same kind of friendship. There are others, wonderful, nurturing friends, but for the moment I want to celebrate these two and give my thanks to the universe for bringing them into my life.

Love you gals!

How an Intuitive Gardener (Okay: Pantser) Creates Conflict & Outer Motivation

Carolyn Crane File Feb 22, 8 43 40 AMI’m lucky to have my crit partner and good friend, Carolyn Crane, visiting me for a few days. This involves much time spent writing, drinking and talking about writing. Perfection!

She’s even going to help me plot my next series, which is awesome, because she’s WAY better at plotting than I am. As in, she actually *does* it instead of my weirdly organic gardening method of plotting. Apropos of that, I’m over at Word Whores this morning, giving my non-plotter’s take on Development of character outer motivation and outer conflict.

Stalking Tina Fey

Tina Fey in Mean GirlsSo, I’ve heard through the grapevine that Tina Fey (@nottinafey) is here in town filming a movie. For those who don’t know – and why would you? – New Mexico is the site for a LOT of films. We’re relatively close to Los Angeles, have a variety of landscapes and there’s this whole infrastructure here set up to support movie-making. Word gets around that infrastructure and…

Now I know Tina is in town. And I want to stalk her and make her be my friend.


I mean, it’s not like I haven’t done this before. Carolyn Crane and Anne Calhoun used to be authors that I admired from afar, until I stalked them and made them be my friends. Now they’re among my closest friends? Why couldn’t this work with Tina? She’s my go-to choice when interviewers ask me what celebrity I’d like to have a meal with. I think Tina and I would have a lot to talk about – similar senses of humor and life perspectives. We’re both authors. I even used to write essays very like hers in Bossypants! We are practically soulmates. Remember in Notting Hill when Hugh Grant’s sister (played by the hysterical Emma Chambers) confides to Julia Roberts that she’s always suspected, from watching her in movies, that they’d be best friends?


I mulled this question on Twitter – as I do, you know – and received a number of suggestions for how to go about this. One was to don an outfit like the one from Mean Girls above and casually run into her. Which could work. However, the overwhelming suggestions were for me to simply tweet her, say hi and that I’d love to meet. One gal, who is now one of my favorite people ever, thought I could totally pull this off because, as she said, “After all, you’re famous, too!”


Tell it to Tina, okay?

So this is my love letter to her. Perhaps inadvisably titled, but she’s got a spine of steel, right? And it’s accurate. Honest and straightforward, like me. No more neurotic than the average writer, which isn’t saying much, I know.

But seriously, Tina, lunch? Coffee? Cocktails? Come out to the house if you’d like a break and to take in the views! Or I can come to you. I know all the best bars.


Your New Best Friend,


Yes, More Twelve Kingdoms!

the talon of the hawkAre you here looking to find out if there will be more Twelve Kingdoms books after Ursula’s, in THE TALON OF THE HAWK?


Yes, there will!

I just signed a deal for two more books in the world of THE MARK OF THE TALA, with Dafne’s book as book 4. That’s right, our favorite librarian will star in THE PAGES OF THE MIND, coming summer of 2016. And boy, do I have a juicy adventure in mind for her!


The News You’ve Been Waiting For!

THE TALON OF THE HAWK ARCsBeen champing at the bit for Ursula’s book? It’s heeeerrre….

That’s right! I have ARCs (Advance Reader Copies, for those not in the know) of THE TALON OF THE HAWK, book 3 of THE TWELVE KINGDOMS. I’m really excited for you all to read this one. It gutted me to write and I’m still a more than a little obsessed with this one. (I may have faxed 94 pages of corrections on the galley proofs – my production editor actually called me “Nutbar,” which she insists it a term of affection. Fortunately she does love me and promised to make as many of the changes as seemed within the realm of sanity.)


So, I have ARCs! Want one? Let me know! Ping me in the comments or elsewhere. You all know where to find me. I’ve already got a growing list, so let me know soon! I don’t know if it’s up on NetGalley yet – can anyone tell?


I really thought I’d posted this already, at least as a news item, but when I found out I was focusing on the release of UNDER HIS TOUCH and so I guess I missed putting it here. All y’all who’ve written to ask about Dafne’s book??



(Apparently this is all caps day at

Here’s the official announcement, which is not easy to read, I know:

Jeffe Kennedy's THE PAGES OF THE MIND, the first in a new series set in the world of THE MARK OF THE TALA, a woman finds herself trapped in a foreign land by a warrior king who cannot understand her clever words, to Peter Senftleben at Kensington, in a two-book deal, for publication in Summer 2016, by Connor Goldsmith at Fuse Literary (World). Dramatic rights: Brandy Rivers at ICM Partners.If you don’t want to squint, it says:

Jeffe Kennedy’s THE PAGES OF THE MIND, the first in a new series set in the world of THE MARK OF THE TALA, a woman finds herself trapped in a foreign land by a warrior king who cannot understand her clever words, to Peter Senftleben at Kensington, in a two-book deal, for publication in Summer 2016, by Connor Goldsmith at Fuse Literary (World). Dramatic rights: Brandy Rivers at ICM Partners.

The “woman” in question there is, naturally, our favorite librarian. This story is going to be SO fun! You see, Dafne is going to have to go on a quest, because of all the shiz that goes down at the end of TALON. Because of what Ursula – oh, wait. That’s right. You guys haven’t read it yet!

Hee hee hee.

~waves to Ericka~

The point is, you CAN! So let me know if you want an ARC to read and review! Happy Friday everyone! 🙂