Worldbuilding from a Character-Driven Perspective – Workshop

Worldbuilding from a Character-Driven Perspective
Presented by: Jeffe Kennedy

Date: July 25th, 2021 – 11:00am – 5:00pm MT (aka – 1:00pm – 7:00pm EST)

Fee: OIRW Member $25| Non-Member $35


Course Description:

Worldbuilding isn’t just for fantasy authors. Every genre requires that the world of that particular story be groomed and refined to support the story without bogging it down. Knowing how to create a convincingly realistic world and then how to pare away unnecessary explanation is an important acquired skill for any author. And one way to discover this perfect balance is to go at the problem from a character-driven perspective.

In this Master class, rather than starting with worldbuilding, we’ll start with character—and then build a world to maximize the character arc. Whether you write in a speculative fiction genre—like fantasy, science fiction or paranormal—or something else entirely, this class will teach you how to choose setting, magic or tech systems, history of that world and the social dynamics that drive it. You’ll learn how to choose relevant details, how to discard others, and how to drop hints that are sufficient to immerse the reader in the world without drowning them.

Over the course of this day-long online class, we’ll explore worldbuilding from a character-driven perspective, break for writing and brainstorming exercises, then return for discussion. Then we’ll add to your knowledge and repeat that cycle. At the end of the day, you should have a fleshed-out world for your story, and a feel for when and how to provide information to the reader.


At the SFF Seven this week, we’re recommending our frothiest books for a light summer read. Well, if you’re one of those who likes to celebrate the midwinter holidays in the heat of summer, I’ve got one for you!


A Peek Ahead at Release Week for THE PROMISED QUEEN!

THE PROMISED QUEEN comes out in one week!


I had a super fun conversation with the gals at Paper and Vices. You can listen to our wide-ranging discussion of The Forgotten Empires and Bonds of Magic, the possible exhausting complications of Reverse Harem romances, genres, and traditional vs. self-publishing. Listen here. 

On release day, Jennifer Estep and I will be hosted by The Ripped Bodice for a free, online discussion of all things romantic and fantastic (in the best sense of the word). Register here. 


The Ideal Time to Glom the Forgotten Empires Trilogy!

With THE PROMISED QUEEN – the stirring conclusion to the Forgotten Empires trilogy! – releasing in just two weeks, my publisher is offering a fantastic sale on the first two books in the series. Now is a great time to glom those books and be on fire to read book three!

“A fantasy romance by a writer at the top of her game.There are two strands to this story and each is beautifully distinctive. The chapters portraying Lia, the virgin queen who protects her people from the ruthless emperor through statecraft and artifice, are lush and hypnotic. Those that follow the damaged Conri and his army of rebel slaves are raw and propulsive. Kennedy plays with these differences building tension so that when the two come together it is like a match to tinder. The world building is immersive and there are secondary characters to root for (especially fond of Ambrose, Conri’s wizard). I only wish I didn’t have to wait so long for the 2nd book.” – Maria Vale, author of The Last Wolf


Loved Dark Wizard? Bright Familiar Coming Soon!

So exciting that Dark Wizard has over 100 reviews on Amazon! Thank you all for taking the time to rate and review. I’m hard at work on the sequel, Bright Familiar, which is set for release on July 9. Preorder available on the below retailers or via my website store. Meanwhile, the cover reveal is coming Friday!! Newsletter subscribers will get first eyeballs on the gorgeous cover, and members of my private FB group, Jeffe’s Closet, will get a sneak peek tomorrow. There may also be a snippet from the book in progress. It’s not too late to subscribe to either or both! I can promise that both are very low-key in pinging for attention.




THE SORCERESS QUEEN AND THE PIRATE ROGUE is out now! You can get it from my website store or at the above retailers. Thanks to all who are reading and loving it!

One of my favorite review quotes so far?

“Have you ever looked at a piece of cake and wanted to just gobble it up ? Well that’s exactly my feelings when it comes to the boisterous, oh so confident Jakral ! He might be fully human and younger than Stella but he knows what he wants and always pays attention.” – Marta Cox on Amazon

Jak is totally cake. He was super fun to write, too. Jen Twimom has a snippet from one of my favorite scenes over at That’s What I’m Talking About. What’s funny is that what ensues in the carriage was a total surprise to me. Jak shocked me as much as he did Stella. If you’ve read, you know what I mean. I almost tried to soften it or even take it out, but I decided that Jak is just not a character to be easily muted.

Here’s a snippet from another scene I love, where Jak is attempting to teach Stella some self-defense.


He didn’t care how much it pissed her off: She was going to learn to wield those blades or… He didn’t know what, but something. He wasn’t afraid of going to the alter-realm, but he was gut-wateringly terrified of coming back to find her gone. Or worse.

In a rare temper, Stella flung open the door of a room on the second level. An unmade bed took up most of the small space, her minimal baggage on a low table nearby. With her back firmly to him, she rummaged in her bags, searching for her blades. Jak leaned against the wall, arms folded, watching her, keeping his body loose and relaxed—but fighting his own mounting temper as she took forever to find the fucking things.

At last—minutes later, during which a toddler could’ve skinned and gutted her—she exclaimed in relief and turned to show him the daggers. Her triumphant smile faded at whatever she saw in his face. Probably good that his expression got the point across, as the next step would be throttling her.

“Put them on,” he instructed softly, not trusting himself not to shout at her again.

She sighed in exasperation. “Is it really necessary to—”

“Yes,” he bit out. “See how the pretty daggers sit in sheaths on that lovely belt? You buckle the belt around your gorgeous hips, and then you wear them. All. The. Time.”

Her eyes darkened, thunderclouds gathering. “There is no need to be sarcastic with me.”

“Isn’t there? Then, pray tell, what will get through your thick skull?”

The sense of a pending storm thickened. “Don’t you speak to me that way, Jakral Konyngrr.”

He rolled his eyes, making his disdain clear. “I’ll speak to you any way I like. Not as if you can do anything about it.”

Lightning flashed in her eyes. “You forget that I have offensive magics. Powerful ones.”

“Useless ones,” he sneered, goading her further.

“How dare you!” Her streaming dark hair stirred as if in an unseen wind.

Though the hairs stood up on the back of his neck, he didn’t move, considered yawning in her face, but even he didn’t have the balls to push her that far. Instead he lifted a shoulder and let it fall. “I dare because I’m a better fighter than you are. Not because you’re female, but because you’re defenseless. That’s why you need protecting. So, quit whining about everyone being overprotective and accept that you need a big strong man to—”

With an incoherent screech, she dropped the knife belt and hurled a ball of blue lightning at him. As it flew toward him, he pulled a dagger, threw it, and ducked. The lightning grazed his shoulder with a light tingle—he hadn’t even needed to evade that tickle—and his blade shaved off a long lock of Stella’s hair before thudding into the wall behind her.

Stella gaped at him. Without speaking, she dropped her gaze to the severed lock of hair lying like a snake at her feet. “I…” She lifted her eyes to his, shock clear in them. “You… you threw a knife at me.”

“You threw lightning at me,” he pointed out.

“Because you provoked me!”

“Yes, I did. Worked pretty well, except that was the most pitiful lightning I’ve ever seen. If that’s the best you can do, then—”

“It isn’t,” she snapped.

“Why not?” When she didn’t reply, he pushed away from the wall. “Because you pulled your punch.”

Unhappily, she watched him pick up the lock of hair. Coiling it into a tight circle, he stuck it in his pocket. A nice keepsake. “All the magic in the world does you no good if you won’t use it,” he said.

“I can use it.”

“I know you can. I also know you won’t.”

Pressing her lips together in something just shy of a mulish pout, she glared at him. “Are you saying you wish I had hurt you?”

He tugged the shortened lock of hair. “I can take it.”

She didn’t smile. “You’re not immortal, Jak.”

“And yet I survived a brush with death, thanks to you.” He grinned jauntily at her, unbothered that she didn’t return it. “Let’s try that again, but this time, try harder.”

“But I don’t want to hurt you!”

He blew out an impatient breath. “If something is trying to kill you, then it’s your enemy and deserves to be hurt.”

“You aren’t my enemy,” she pointed out.

“I’m glad to hear that, but you still need to learn to strike true. You can always heal me again.”

“True…” She gazed at him, uncertain.

“I’d rather you hurt me a little bit now than deal me a mortal wound by getting injured or killed. I couldn’t survive that.”

Her eyes widened, and he considered maybe he’d said too much. “Besides,” he added with a grin, “at this rate, you’ll have no hair left, and I’ll be untouched. I’m really not worried.” Drawing a new blade, he spun it through his fingers, picking out a new lock of hair to sever.

She growled low in her throat. “You wouldn’t.”

“I would, and I will,” he said, letting his grim resolve show. “Or maybe I’ll just aim for that sleeping gown. It won’t last long against my blades and would be a fun striptease.” He leered at her. “Finally I’ll get to see you naked—a dream come true.”

With a shocked gasp, she blushed hot. “You—” She bit down on repeating the challenge, possibly reading his utterly serious intent. Briefly, a jaguar stood where she’d been, then she reappeared in her fighting leathers, her hair tightly braided back, a smug look on her face.

“Do you think that will spare you?” he murmured, just to see her blush deepen. “I could still slice those leathers off you.”

“But you won’t,” she replied with confidence, “because you’d risk cutting me, and you would never hurt me.”

That was true. Too bad she knew it. “Moving on. What was your first mistake?”

“Pulling my punch.”

“No, that was your second mistake.” Scooping up the knife belt from the floor, he dangled it in her face. “Never, ever throw away your blades.”

“You throw your knives all the time,” she pointed out.

“Yes, but I know what I’m doing, and it’s still a calculated risk. You will do best to keep your blades in your hands.” Threading the belt through the loops on her pants, he settled it low on her hips, moving the sheaths to the optimum position. “How’s that for drawing?”

He glanced up as he asked, finding her face very close to his. The storm in her gray eyes had subsided, leaving them the clear misty color of the sea just before sunrise. “I feel the same,” she said, briefly confusing him. “When I thought they might be right, that you really were dead, I thought I might break apart into a million fragments.”

For once, no clever remark leapt to his tongue. He smoothed her hair back from her face, careful not to brush her skin. It clung like silk to his fingers, and he knew she was right—he would never jeopardize her beautiful hair, he loved it too much. The thought of slowly cutting away her clothing, however… Well, it was a good thing he was getting practiced at exercising iron control over his lust around her. Her lips parted, her kitten tongue darting out to wet them. So tempting to kiss her just then.

But time was short, and this was more important.

“We’ll just have to keep each other alive, then,” he replied. “Now, try drawing your blades.”






Book Two in the adult Fantasy Romance adventure series from award-winning, bestselling author Jeffe Kennedy. Follows the prequel novella, The Long Night of the Crystalline Moon, in the Under a Winter Sky romantic fantasy holiday anthology and Book One of Heirs of Magic, The Golden Gryphon and the Bear Prince.

A Lonely Road

Stella has always been one to count her blessings. Empath, sorceress, shapeshifter, and healer, she’s grateful for the gifts the goddess of shadows has bestowed upon her. Yes, she’s sensitive to emotions and can’t bear to be in large crowds for long. And yes, that means she’ll never be able to take a lover as she’s unable to withstand physical contact with anyone but her twin brother. Certainly now that he’s found his true love, she feels more alone than ever. None of it haunts her, however, like the vision of the lonely tower where her life path ends.

An Unrequited Love

Jakral Konyngrr is a man of simple tastes: good whiskey, some coin in his pocket, and a fine blade in his hand. Though he’s no prince, not a shapeshifter, and not blessed with any magic, he’s happy in his skin. And yet he seems doomed to live the life of a hero from a tragic ballad, because the only woman he’s ever wanted barely knows he’s alive. As much as Jak longs for Stella, he’s resigned himself to being forever in the background. At least he can guard her back.

A Quest to Stop a Monster

But now Jak and Stella have been thrown together—along with a mismatched group of shifters, warriors, and sorceress friends—chasing and attempting to avert magic rifts that release monsters into their world. Worse, the strange intelligence behind the bizarre and deadly attacks seems to have developed a fascination for Stella. Battling for their lives and the good of the realm, they must fight—and perhaps love—together to alter the course of the future before it’s too late.

Preorder on my website or at the usual retailers!


Dark Wizard Now Available!

“Dark Wizard is one of my top reads ever.” ~ NY Times Bestselling Author Darynda Jones

“Dark Wizard will be on my keeper shelf for freaking ever.” ~ NY Times Bestselling Author Dana Marton

“Jeffe nailed what it is to write a fantasy romance. Fabulous!” ~ USAT Bestselling Author of Radiance, Grace Draven

“…utterly compelling…clicked Buy right at the end of the sample and just kept reading and reading because this book is so good, with such a rich world and characters. I’m so glad I picked it up…now can it be June already so I can read more?” ~Amazon reviewer


In The Witcher meets The Selection

She ran from him… but couldn’t escape her heart.

Lord Gabriel Phel wants one thing: to rebuild the shattered fortunes of his people and restore his ruined house to its former station in the Convocation’s highest tiers of elegant society. Fortunately, through a wild chance of birth, he was born with powerful wizard magic, the first in his family in generations. If he can obtain a familiar to amplify his magic, a highborn daughter he can marry, to be mother to his children, he’ll be that much closer to saving his family. With her by his side, he can ascend to such a position of power in  the Convocation that he can destroy it forever.

Lady Veronica Elal, captive in her tower, has only one way out. To her bitter disappointment, she will never be a wizard. Instead, through a twist of fate, and despite her expensive Convocation Academy education, Nic is doomed to be a familiar like her mother. Forced to participate in the Betrothal Trials, she receives a wizard suitor for one night each month. Whichever man impregnates her will bond her to them forever. With no choice but to serve the one who wins her, Nic has one hope for control over her life: a wizard she can manipulate.

Gabriel Phel seems like the perfect choice for Nic’s gambit—he’s desperate and untutored in wizardry—but within moments of meeting him, she feels the bonds of magic tying them together. Afraid of losing her will to the compelling wizard who touches her heart like no other, Nic does the unthinkable: she runs. Pregnant and alone, Nic eludes monstrous hunters, searching for a safe haven. But when Gabriel catches up to her, their adventure has only begun.

Available at these Retailers