Fact-Checking Those Resolutions

1_7_14I’m over in the Darkest Cravings Author Cage today answering their Only the Brave questions. Also, Allison Pang blogged today about finding an easter egg I left for her in Rogue’s Possession. Pretty funny! (Okay – WE think it’s hysterical anyway.)

Last year, I did a post on Word Whores on a new way for me to set goals in the new year. I borrowed someone else’s idea and put my resolutions in sealed envelopes and did not reveal them until the end of the year. So here’s how they looked: 2013 goalsI sealed them up and didn’t open them until December 31. This is what they look like now.


Very interesting experience to do it this way.

Most significant is that I didn’t remember what I put in them. This was part of the point of the exercise, to test how much I internalized my goals.  That is, would I stick to them without having them stare me in the face?

The answer: yes and no.

Also, REALLY depended on the category, which is illustrative right there. Of my three categories – weight/health, writing and financial – guess which I did the best on? (“Best” qualified as coming closest to achieving – I wasn’t 100% on any of them.)


This doesn’t surprise me because it’s really my top priority. Interestingly, it was also the goal with the most points. Eight of them. They were (updated for what titles became, not what I thought they were then):

  1. Write Negotiation to submit to Tuck’s anthology
  2. Write Master of the Opera
  3. Write Five Golden Rings to submit to Carina anthology
  4. Turn in revision of Mark of the Tala
  5. Turn in revision of Rogue’s Possession
  6. Write Blood Currency #3
  7. Write Tears of the Rose
  8. Write Rogue’s Paradise

It’s notable that I kept these writing goals all within my direct control – something I’ve learned over time! So I didn’t include getting #1 & #2 accepted to those anthologies. They were, which was awesome, but my responsibility was to write the stories. Of all of these, I did not do #6. That was a conscious decision to pare that away for at least the time-being. Also, #8 got shifted at my publisher’s request because they wanted a different book first. Fair enough. I call this one a WIN.


Okay, I didn’t make my goals, but I did pretty decently. Enough to pat myself on the back. I’d set a goal that required a 16-pound weight loss, including a 15% reduction in body fat. While I only went down by 11 pounds (damn those nearly-impossible-to-lose last five pounds!!), I did make a 14.8% reduction in body fat. Thank you new treadmill desk!

Of course, post-holidays, I’m a bit up from that but nowhere near where I was last year. I still want to hit that goal weight. PARTIAL WIN on that one.



Okay, so this one really wasn’t within my direct control and it shows. I had an ambitious goal for my writing income and fell significantly short. As in, I hit 38% of what I wanted to.


I set that apart because I think it’s a big “however.

However, my writing income was over five times more than the previous year. I set a stretch goal – one that would let me at least reduce time at the day job – and, while I’m disappointed I didn’t reach it, I’m not sorry I set it. I suppose there’s a lesson in that. Reaching is part of it.

So, my overall assessment?

I liked this. It helped me focus myself on goals for the year, particularly for writing, and seeing where my head was this time last year gave me particularly good insights. Many of those writing goals were stretches and I’m really pleased with myself for hitting almost all – with excellent results. It’s also good to see how much I really did accomplish, where otherwise I might think I hadn’t. Like with the weight and money stuff. I tend to dwell on not being where I want to be yet, but now I see how far I came.

Which is important.

One Tool for NaNoWriMo

A big shout out today to long-time writer buddy Allison Pang for the release today of the third book in her Abby Sinclair series, A Trace of Moonlight. Makes me all nostalgic because it seems like just a short time ago that I was reading the first chapters of what became the first book, A Brush of Darkness, and giving her feedback.

Also, Carolyn Crane’s Mr. Real is out today! You read all about her cover trials before here.

I know a lot of you are heading into NaNoWriMo, the national novel-writing month, where people attempt to write 50,000 words in November. I don’t really like to do NaNoWriMo, because I find I’m happier if I can create and sustain a more regular writing schedule than a big one-month push. But a lot of people love it – especially the camaraderie and feeling like part of a team.

Me? I love my spreadsheets. And, because I’m sometimes asked, I decided to share a whittled-down version of my Progress Count spreadsheet. (I hope the sharing works – I *think* I uploaded it correctly.) Here it is:

Jeffe Kennedy Progress Count template

I say this is whittled down because my actual workbook has 15 tabs, with various works in progress. So, for template’s sake, I included just Rogue’s Possession, which I just finished drafting, and Ruby, which is underway.

On the first tab, the Overall page, is where I track all the words I do for each week. I recently decided to start tracking by month and year, too, just for grins. However, I just added that last week, so the October count is likely a little short. But it’s a close estimate. The Overall tab also adds in my blog post writing for each day, which I think totally counts. My minimum effort for any week is 7,000 words.

Ruby is the next tab because that’s the one actively underway. I pretty much only work on one thing at a time – unless a deadline interferes. For example, if my editor sends me edits and says “can I have these back  by Tuesday?” or if Agent Pam says “they’d like to see a sample chapter.” And yes, in those cases, I absolutely move that book’s tab into the space of honor.

That’s just how I roll.

Ruby’s tab is still set for yesterday, because I haven’t dug in for today’s wordcount.Rogue’s Possession is empty because it’s done for now.

But feel free to play with this. I have lots of formulas and conditional formatting, because I love to see things turn green. Ask me questions here, if you like, and I’ll try to explain my reasoning.

Happy Word Counts!

Writing Cheerleaders – and Naysayers

Some of the birthday sussies from my writing gals. Allison Pang sent the fab martini glass. It’s a quote from Dorothy Parker: “I like to have a martini, Two at the most. Three, I’m under the table. Four, I’m under my host.” Apropos in so many ways! Marcella sent the dramatic Mardis Gras ring, which embodies Ruby. And Laura Bickle sent the gorgeous sun pendant, which has a special meaning, celebrating this summer.

This kind of support – thoughtful celebrations like this – mean a great deal to me as a writer. It can be a lonely and difficult business, so these little joys, and reassurances that someone else cares, can make all the difference.

We all know – there always seem to be plenty of people waiting to undermine what you’re doing.

I read this article the other day. It’s an excellent and insightful essay by nonfiction writer Rebecca Solnit on how men reflexively tend to explain things to women. Often without regard for the woman’s expertise and education. And if you guys out there are feeling irritated – I followed this link from a male Twitter friend, who recommended it. But it was funny, as these things often seem to happen, I read this article on the same day that I had an annoying encounter.

We were having lunch with one of David’s colleagues and the conversation was quite stilted. At one point, I think in an attempt to find a congenial topic – and to include me in the conversation – David said that my book had come out a few weeks ago and my pic was in the NYT. The man looked puzzled and asked, “your book?” I said yes, the most recent one. He asked how many I have written, so I explained about the various novellas and the recent published novel. When I finish, he frowns at me and says, “I thought it was really hard to get published.”

I was so taken aback that I didn’t have an immediate reply. Other than to toss my hair and giggle. He didn’t need me to answer that, though, because he launched into a story about a friend who wrote a book – which he thought was a really good and valuable book – and could never get it published. I just nodded, smiled and ate my lunch. And let him explain the publishing business to me.

I’m at a point in my career where this kind of idle slam means little to me. I can shrug it off, because I clearly have more expertise in this arena than he does. Yes it’s difficult. I happen to be good at what I do. Plus, I’m persistent – something his friend wasn’t.

But for all of you out there still aspiring, who don’t have that real- life experience to fall back on? Don’t listen to these people, please. Never listen to the people who haven’t done it.

And trust in yourself and your own dreams. Your own persistence.

Have a great weekend everyone!

A Sliver of Something Special

I had a naked incubus in my bedroom. With a frying pan of half-cooked bacon and a hard-on. And a unicorn bite on his ass. Christ, this was turning out to be a weird morning.

~~ A Brush of Darkness, Allison Pang

Allison Pang and I have been friends and critique partners for, wow, over four years now? I know that’s not a huge span of time, but my how it has flown by. I remember when she sent me the first chapter of her A Brush of Darkness draft – and how gracefully she took it when I ripped it apart. The line above was part of the book even then and I remember her hesitating over whether to use it in querying. Oh she absolutely should. She did and now it’s hard to imagine it any other way.

So I’m delighted to host Allison for the release tomorrow of the sequel: A Sliver of Shadow. In honor of the occasion, Allison has arranged for you all to have a chance to win a special gift.

** I forgot to say — the contest runs through midnight eastern time on Wednesday, 2/29. **

I’m going to string balloons and streamers while she tells you about it.

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about writing is not only putting the words on the page, but also envisioning certain scenes in my head.  What’s even more fun is getting a chance to see someone else’s vision of those same scenes.

Over the past year I’ve had the pleasure of receiving both gifts and commissions from several talented artists who have brought my characters to life in a way I never could, in the form of sketch cards  and trading cards and just lovely pieces of art.

I give away the trading cards on a regular basis, but to celebrate the release of A Sliver of Shadow, I wanted to offer up a custom one-of-a-kind sketch card as a prize to one lucky winner.  The art will be created by Aimo, who has done a number of pieces for me, and who will be collaborating with me on a graphic novel that will go live in the spring. (You can find out more about it over at Sad Sausage Dogs.)

The winner will receive a 2 x 3 inch sketch card, drawn, inked and colored with traditional media by Aimo. The scene can be anything from A Brush of Darkness or A Sliver of Shadow – winner’s choice, as long as it stays within the bounds of Aimo’s requirements (i.e. nothing overly explicit, etc.).

Leave a comment for a chance to win! (If you’d like to share your favorite scene, that would be great too.)

RT 2011 – the recap

In no particular order, because it’s all a blur at this point. I really thought I’d keep up, but no. I blame Twitter this time. So easy to tweet pics in real time.

At any rate, this is me (duh) at the eBook eXpo signing. (No, that’s not their capitalization, it’s mine – but wouldn’t that be cool?) I went with roses, for the Petals & Thorns theme. One guy stopped and told me I’d done a great job and that he does product placement for movies, so he knows of what he speaks. This is what you get when you have a gig in Los Angeles.

Still I was pleased and it went great.

I love this pic of Tessa Dare, Victoria Dahl and Courtney Milan, who kept cracking up while posing.

I put in a little pool time and, sweet serendipity, there just happened to be a shirtless photo shoot for Mr. Romance.
My toes, for verisimilitude.
Marcella received her trophy for Best Futuristic Romance. The trophy is super-sexy.
And here she is, chatting it up with readers and booksellers at Club RT.
Allison, doing likewise.
Marcella in Faerie mode, offering advice.
Here’s Danielle Poiesz, formerly of Pocket Books, now with the Sekrit Projekt at Penguin, which she revealed at the conference to be xxxx. Oops, I can’t say online yet. If you’d been at RT, you’d know. Just saying…
Here she is giving a demo to a bunch of potential beta testers.
She arrived at the Vampire Ball as Buffy.
And demonstrated her mad staking skills.
Danielle met up with agent Suzie Townsend for dinner. They both had to finish urgent tweeting before they could be fully social.


Back in October, I took you through a day in the life of a brand new novel, featuring my friend Allison’s ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) of A Brush of Darkness.

Today is her debut.

There she is, gliding down the grand staircase in a white gown, blushing with youth and hopefulness. Who will be waiting at the bottom of the stairs to take her arm and lead her into the world?

Actually, knowing Brush of Darkness, she’s more likely to hike up her skirts, climb on a bar stool and order a double.

Regardless, the party starts today at Bitten by Books, where you can win an enchanted iPod, just like Abby’s – only without the seven-year contract to a fairy princess who may or may not be draining your life energy.

So, help a girl out – stop by Bitten by Books to wish her a happy birthday. She’s here, dressed up either as a mass-market paperback or in a slinky electronic Kindle outfit, on Amazon (or likely in your local bookstore).

Give her a whirl, buy her a drink. Take her home and have your way with her.

I promise she’ll put out.

Lying Tweets

Kind of a quiet sunset last night, slowly shading into salmon and violet. Quite lovely.

Something not quite so lovely occurred on Twitter the other day. But it was also kind of quiet. Once of those things where people get into conversations with certain expectations that lead them into assumptions. Let me explain. It might be convoluted because I don’t want to name names.

(Though if you know me and want to email to ask, I’ll tell you who it is.)

So there’s this agent who’s been on Twitter for a while. We’ll call him Tom. He seemed pleasant, said interesting things, didn’t seem to rep what I write. I didn’t follow him all that closely, but we exchanged comments a couple of times. About e-publishing, now that I think of it.

Well, then he turns up the other day – same avatar, which is the little picture that appears next to the words, in this case a headshot – but a different “handle. Where he used to be AgentTom, now he’s eTom. My friend, Kerry, pointed out to me what was going on. He was holding forth on Twitter bashing traditional publishing and even agenting.

He said a lot of stuff. How agents and traditional publishers only want authors with huge platforms – like celebrities and that chick from Jersey Shore. Thousands and thousand of Twitter followers, he says. A couple of writer-friends of ours had engaged him in conversation at this point. What caught Kerry’s attention was when he said:

Don Maass is not going to take anyone on unless he can make a buck from their work. No platform, no Don.

When several people mentioned that Donald Maass, who is a very well respected agent, has recently offered representation to friends, he said:

He might be taking them on but that doesn’t mean they will be published or if they are, it won’t be big time.

followed by

Jen Jackson runs Don Maass Literary. I don’t think Don is that active anymore. Don’t know for sure tho.

So, Kerry mentioned that we have a good friend who is recently represented by the very active Don, she has fewer than 200 followers on Twitter and is doing quite well with her series. This is a warning flag, when someone in the industry is saying things you know aren’t true. Doesn’t matter who he is.

Which he pretty much ignored. Because by this point, after he’d painted this very grim picture, he got to his actual point: the beauty, the glamor, the sheer profitability of E-PUBLISHING.

Now, I have nothing against e-publishing. I’ve published a book with an e-press and I’ve been pleased with the results. (I showed some yesterday.) That’s not the problem.

The issue is that he’s become “eTom” because he’s left agenting and become an acquiring editor for an e-press. You can see this on his profile. If you go to this e-press website, you can see it’s totally new, with lots of references to “us” and that it’s an imprint of another press. Which sounds fairly reputable – okay, new e-imprint of an established press, there’s a lot of that going around these days – until you look at the press and notice it has the same last name as Tom.

This is, in fact, entirely eTom’s business. His new publishing venture and he’s recruiting authors by playing on their fears, saying a traditionally published book takes three years, pays nothing and they’d never take you if you don’t have a huge platform anyway.

This makes me mad because IT IS NOT TRUE.

Allison, for example. She’s told her story in other places, but to recap: it was just over a year ago that the editor who read Allison’s full manuscript for a contest offered her a contract. Allison was able to pick from three agents, one of whom landed her a better contract with another publisher and the book is coming out in January. That is a true story. This is her first book, she has no platform, practically no name recognition and less than a thousand twitter followers.

Maybe most of you reading this are nodding your heads and saying yeah, yeah, yeah – we know. But it alarmed both me and Kerry to see so many earnest authors engaging with eTom and swallowing his lies.

If you want to do e-publishing, great – do it! But don’t sign with just anyone. Don’t let them make you feel desperate. Do your research. Pay attention to their motives.

Never sell yourself short. Especially to the guy who says it’s your only chance.

The Hardest Part

This Cooper’s Hawk landed on our bird feeder yesterday morning. One moment the finches, wrens, jericoes and quail were flocking about, happily pecking at seeds, the next they’d poofed and this guy appeared, as if manifesting full-blown from Zeus’s forehead.

Oh yeah, they eat mainly birds. Prowling the feeders seems a titch unfair, though I suppose we’re technically still feeding birds…

We’ve been working the last few days on setting up a new group blog, the Word-Whores. It’s Allison‘s baby and there will be seven of us altogether, which lets each of us blog on one day a week. This is a group of gals who are all some of my favorite people. We plan to launch on January 1, 2011. 1/1/11 – nice symmetry to that.

At any rate, we’ll all blog on a similar theme each week, so we wanted to come up with a year’s worth of topics. We each submitted at least eight ideas and then voted on the whole list. The top 52 became our year’s worth of topics.

It was really fun for me to see the results. (Hey – I like spreadsheets, okay?) Every suggested topic received at least one vote. Six topics received unanimous votes.

The one topic I really didn’t like got six votes, too. I was clearly the only person who didn’t like it. Marcella – whose sci fi comes out ONE WEEK FROM TODAY! – said that the one topic she didn’t like made the list, too. So then we spent some time talking about those topics and how we’d address them when it came time. By the end of the conversation, I had a good idea of what I’d write for mine. And I realized I spent more time thinking about the one topic I didn’t like, than all the rest put together.

There’s a lesson here somewhere. The same kind of lesson as joining a book group because you’ll read books you wouldn’t otherwise. Working with a group of people means you entertain ideas you normally wouldn’t. It forces you to turn your perspective and see the world from a slightly different angle.

And you know I always like that kind of thing.