First Cup of Coffee – July 5, 2022

ROGUE’S PAWN is out today! I’m talking about the re-release of this, my very first novel, and reflecting on the 15 years that have passed since I began writing it, along with my baby-author hopes and dreams at the time.

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. It was delicious. Um I actually already drank it today is. Um, Tuesday july fifth and it is release day for Rogue’s Pawn who. Ah I have some tea now this is my paris mug did I tell you guys the story of this one before when David and I stayed at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas for our anniversary I think was for our 25th anniversary I was getting ready putting on my makeup and he popped out. We were gonna go out to dinner and he popped out and came back with this little mug because I thought it was so cool if you’re not on video. It’s um, like when those mugs set straight sided. But. It flares slightly from bottom to top and it has black and white alternating vertical lines alternating fat and thin and then in red it says Paris across it. It’s very french looking I think probably there’s a name for this design but and he brought me a little split of champagne with it. It was just ah was a true love thing he knew I would like him. so ah so yeah Rogue’s Pawn rerelease out today. Thank you all for your support on the book. It’s um. Really appreciate. It. Really lovely of all of you to say nice things about it and buying it and so forth I hope you like it. It’s so funny thinking about this book because. So much of my oh look is there’s even emotion in my voice right? Ah of my of my newbie writer hopes and dreams were were in that book I’m I’m not a fan of saying things like the book of my heart I don’t really believe in the book of my heart. Um. And every everyone’s while when I say that to somebody they’re like oh but this book is the book of my heart almost It’s like you. Okay, um I don’t really believe in calling books babies. Ah.

Get what I’m saying. But I also know that I tend to be um I don’t know more I don’t want to say cool or remote. But um I am not as emotional about somethings. As many people are. Um, noticing that water has collected in this fire pit and that it may be breeding mosquitoes I think I see larvae on the top I’m going to handle that hold on there. We go. So. Yeah, it’s funny because when I wrote this book. Ah I called it Obsidian and I just I thought it was going to be the answer to all of my hopes and dreams right? I thought it was going to be huge. I had read other books you know like I’d read twilight and loved it. I had read other things that were very popular at the time. Um I think I mentioned that I found my old spreadsheet for when I was first writing. When I pulled out Rogue’s Pawn to reformat it to put it out on my own Rogue’s Pawn was the title that we came up with at Carina press in part because they didn’t like Obsidian I think also because I kind of screwed myself with them because I had written. The um, the erotic novellas that were one word jewel titles: Sapphire, Ruby, Platinum and then Five golden rings which should have been Oro and they thought that there’d be too much confusion which. If I had known that was going to be a thing I would have like stuck with Obsidian but then Jennifer L Armenttrout came out with a book called Obsidian um before ah right around the same time and and it was. It was pretty big. It was one of her early hits and so I was like well you know so but and when you’re a newbie writer these things I don’t know they affect you more. You’re maybe because you don’t have that that thick skin yet that we talk about.

Which I don’t believe is really thick skin but it’s um, it’s maybe it’s maybe understanding that a single book isn’t the make or break and I think that when we begin we think that it will be we think that that single book will be the answer to our hopes and dreams that it will be um yeah that it that it you know like this the the whole idea of my one big chance right? and. So like going through that spreadsheet and looking at the books because I was trying to figure out I’d been writing short I’d been writing essays and I had published or you know University Of New Mexico Press had published my collection of essays and you know so I wasn’t. Completely I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But you know my fur wasn’t wet anymore I kind of knew what I was doing but I didn’t know how many words a fiction book should be and I knew that learning to write a novel that I was going to have to learn how to work more incrementally. As opposed to writing short when I would often draft an entire essay in one sitting come so so I went through and I picked out these different books. And I typed in sat there and typed in pages from those books to figure out approximately how many words per page they were and then looked at how many pages and calculated it. You know so so now we know it seems like everybody knows you know. Because when I was telling this story to like some of the faro girls on the Discord you know they were saying well isn’t it about 275 words per page and it’s like yes, but young Jeffie did not know this I didn’t know that yeah and then that was approximately what I came out to but so some of the books. That I came up with were um or that I used for examples wh=ere Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey and I don’t think I use Twilight let’s see which ones I used hold on. So the books that I used and it’s really kind of interesting to look at this very old spreadsheet from my very beginning days. Ah I used um one of the kitty books by Carrie Vaughn and it’s funny because.

Carrie’s now a friend of mine I love that as I said cushhi’s startt by Laurel K Hamilton or I’m sorry by Jacqueline Carey and then I also did a book by Laurel K Hamilton it would have been one of the anita bla a blake books but I don’t I didn’t know which one and then. I was trying to there was another book that I liked at the time that was an urban fantasy called Stray and I’m trying to figure out who the author was um but I’m not being able to load Amazon right now. Our internet has not been right since it got knocked out. Ah, in the storm that we had when was it Friday night knocked out our internet for most of the night and it’s still they keep saying oh it’s fine now. But it’s not fine. Oh good here. It comes let me look it up so it was Stray by Rachel Vincent and I start looking to see what Rachel Vincent was doing lately and it doesn’t look like she’s put out a book since 2018 so which makes me cock my head quizzically, it could be that she’s writing under a new pen name people do that. So if anyone knows. Do let me know. So anyway I thought that I thought Obsidian was brilliant I thought it was just I really did think it was gonna be like Twilight and I thought I was gonna make all kinds of money and. I was going to be famous and adored and I don’t know all of the things that people want with their first book and you know and then it ended up being difficult to market or rather difficult to sell because everybody said that they didn’t know how to. Market it and and it was funny because the people that I would talk to about it and and it’s hard when you’re a newbie writer and you don’t really have friends who are in the same arena or the friends that you do have are also. Trying to figure out how to sell books in their lives and so forth and so they don’t really know any more than you do, but you know like my husband who had really gotten into some of the success stuff and you know like manifesting. Your desires and all of that kind of thing. Um, he ah you know he was saying well you have to believe in the book. You know you have to really believe in it and I was like I do believe in it and I always believed in it and yet there becomes this thing where you you can really believe in it and also be terribly insecure about it.

And I kind of I remember those years. Um where I I think I started writing it in. Um oh and it actually says on here I think I figured it out. It’s on this I love that I keep spreadsheets because I can keep track of these things. Because I did write down what date I started it I began it April Sixth 2007 and so long ago isn’t it. Um and then and in many ways, not right? It’s only 15 years what’s happened in 15 years since I started writing that book. So yeah I both believed in it and then you know sort of went through this whole character arc right on this book where I went from. Overweening confidence and ambition for this book to tremendous insecurity. And I was doing much better than I knew at the time. Um, you know, getting full manuscript requests and building good relationships with agents all of these really good things that stood me in good stead later. Um, excuse me but I wasn’t selling the book you know and and people would ask me like you know what I wanted for my birthday or what I wanted for Christmas and I would say a lucrative multibook contract to remember that. Those of you who knew me then and you know I wanted I wanted big money for it. I wanted a big debut I wanted all of the things and as time went on. It became increasingly clear that that was not going to happen. That that I was too sideways of the mass mind and I’m reading this book now just even going through it and putting it together. Although it fits certain itches I mean I could see it better now. It’s not clear. But genre is in some ways I’m calling it dark fantasy romance now it is pretty much um, but you know it has the portal thing which always confuses people I need some water that’s better.

So So yeah, it. It has been the story of my life is that I have never been squarely down the middle of any genre I’ve always been a little bit cross genre even now when I try to do something that’s like really. Squarely in Genre. It always ends up having this weird twist to it I Really don’t even try anymore. Um, so excuse me. Um.

It was just you know I was so emotional about it then and wanted so much. And yeah, it’s kind of funny to look back on my. Ah, myself then and feel compassion for that younger writer that I was and at the same time understanding why it wasn’t going to work the way I wanted it to work.

So when I finally sold that book I sold it to Carina Press who was much more willing to ah take a chance on a kid with a dream. Um, that you know they. They were Harlequin’s digital first imprint and so they had a lower overhead and more risk taking and so I will always owe that to Carina for taking a chance on that book. Even if they didn’t make me change the title. And I did briefly toy with changing the title back again with this re-release but you know that’s water under the bridge at this point. So so I’m very interested to hear how. Sort of this new audience receives the book. You know, will it feel like um I’m getting funny reflections on my face here to die. Maybe maybe it’s meant to be the the cracked facade of the older author now.

I was trying to pause here there I shifted a little bit. Ah, it’s not making that much difference. It doesn’t matter so I don’t know if this has made any sense. Um, you know I had a good friend. Who was in the query trenches with me and she got her book deal which I and I didn’t um and she got hers. She got a 3 book deal for $30K which other people sneeringly said oh well that’s not that creative a deal when I’ve told this story and it’s funny. It’s like actually you know, maybe it’s not an amazing deal but it was it was a decent deal and other people have not gotten that good of deals. Um, and I am grateful for the success I did have because a lot of people didn’t do that. Well so you know it’s always a mixed bag that way and yes at the time when I was doing this shopping um, people did suggest that I self-publish. And at that point it just wasn’t it wasn’t as robust to market them and you know it could be if I had hit that market right around 2009 2010 that it would have um you know like that was kind of the route that’s grace and i. Grace Draven um she and I had very similar paths and experiences and wrote similar things so you know it was not surprising our first very long coffee date which we talk about sometimes which ended up being like 3 hours long um you know we we discovered how parallel our paths have been and in some ways she was unluckier and luckier than I was in that she sold her book to master of crows to Amber Quill press and they gave it this horrible horrible cover and. Sold nothing and did not do well and while I did not love my Rogue’s Pawn cover Carina did do they put a lot of marketing into it I mean it did reasonably well um, whereas Grace was really driven to then self-publishlished because she. Um, just couldn’t just couldn’t live with what they’d done to her book and so that ended up doing well and then radiance did incredibly well and if I had self published then would it have made a difference.

Instead of doing those ten books with Carina Press so I don’t know it’s interesting. It’s just interesting to think about you know that so much is serendipity. It’s hitting the market with the right thing at the right time having the right people believe in it. And which is the reason why my least favorite piece of writing advice is or one of them is you know to write a really good book. Yeah, it’s like well writing a really good book helps but there are patently books that are not so great that have done well. And then there are really great books that never made it anywhere and it’s that’s only such a small piece of things. So at any rate rerelease of Rogue’s Pawn very interested to see how it does now lo these many years later. It’s sort of you know, like the whole. A romance dark and conflicted relationships are really in right now and that’s um, very classic me to ah have been 15 years ahead of the trend and not in a positive way. But yeah. Glad to have this book out there. So ah, happy release day to Rogue’s Pawn and I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye.

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