First Cup of Coffee – August 8, 2022

Some real numbers comparing the same book and series self-published vs. traditionally published – Spoiler: first month revenue is already 10% of 10 years of trad – & other thoughts on trad vs. indie.

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Delicious.

Ah, so good. How are you all today is Monday August date 16 22 I don’t know why it seems like there’s so many good dates lately. Bumping the table here. So um, we are New Week New week hopefully a productive week I need a productive week. Um I’m still on track with shadow wizard I’m losing a little bit of my buffer. I did not have um, a rocking writing day on Friday for no good reason I am happy to report that. However I am caught up on royalty crunching who I’ve caught up two months ‘ worth. Always interesting. Um, just to have a break from the royalties and come back and sort of see what the sales are like and one thing that’s very interesting. Sorry if I’m using that word way too many times. Um, you can’t adjust hold on a moment. My chair is could be apart. Ah, you know it’s like one of those selfassemble patio chair things and so it has the. It’s probably gonna be too hard to explain but you know like the caps that you screw on to the ends that hold it in place and one of the caps came off and I had it sitting here on the table but very lazily had not put it back on ah because it was one of those you know like two step projects where it required me to go inside the house. To get a screwdriver to come back out and screw it on and somehow I just never would not take that freaking long but somehow I never made that complete circuit and no I’m not sure where the piece has gone hopefully some. Critter didn’t carry it off but now it’s um, bending enough that it’s like pulling entirely out of the socket without the cap thingy to hold it on so the ah problem’s becoming more pointed but. We already spent way too much podcast time on that. Ah, ah so interesting. So interesting fascinating I think that’s why they came up with fascinating for Spock because interesting just got too boring. Um.

On my covenant of thorns books this is a great example of traditional publishing versus self-publishing. You know what? and I’m even Goingnna oh I’m not going bring up the exact numbers. But. So I started releasing rereleasing Covenant of Thorn’s series Rogue’s Pawn being book one in July and then Rogue’s Possession came out later july and then third book Rogue’s Paradise is coming out in August and. For all three books considering this is a series that’s 10 years old fabulous covers beautiful covers um but old books I shared a um review on the podcast on friday. Was a very interesting review I shared it with Grace and she’s like wow that’s a great review and I was like well it’s sort of ah a mixed review but I would much rather have a review that notices. Um and notes how I’ve grown as a writer and for me going back and reading those first books. Is a little bit cringy. It’s a good reminder for me. Um, when I read new authors first books that I should probably like read one of their later books too because um, ah I mean thank goodness I’ve gotten so much better. But wow you know and people told me then that it was overwritten and I didn’t think it was ah but ah the hubris of youth and newbiness right? Ah yeah, ah. In one contest. Someone told me that it was um, overwritten like Anne Rice is overwritten and I took that as a compliment. Um I think I’m way worse than Anne Rice ah but um anyway these books are being well received but they’re not burning up the charts I mean they’re not like hugely high rankings I’ve got more preorders for book 3 than I have for books 1 or 2 I like twice as many which is really nice. So that means that the people that are reading it and loving it. Are wanting to read that third book. That’s awesome. Um, but you know it’s like it’s still double digits I mean I don’t even have preorders in the triple digits which is fine. You know it’s like that’s kind of what I expect for rereleasing an old series like this right? so.

Even with fairly low but climbing preorder numbers I’m trying to walk the line here I I don’t want you to Um, oh what am I trying to say I’m trying to set the correct expectation here because I figured. If I was lucky if things went well that I could recoup my investment in putting a new cover and reformatting the book putting it up for sale. Ah in the first month and I’m going to do that easily more. For the first two books and with pre-orders alone for the third book each of those books has already I mean you’ll just like in numbers I don’t have the money yet, but they’ve already earned 10 to 12% of the lifetime sales. Of the books that did that they earned through Carina press. Okay, so let me rephrase that just in case I put that in a confusing way because I track all the sales of all my books. So in all the time 10 years that those books were with Carina Press and Carina paid me quarterly royalties on those books. So I know how much each book has earned over its lifetime via Carina in the time that I have had these up self-published a month for the first book. A month the two days they’ve already earned 10 to 12% of those lifetime sales one month versus ten years right? So when we talk about self- publishishing. And the money that you can earn in self-p publishing. There is a concrete example now why didn’t these books earn more money through Carina press. There’s a couple of factors and if you all already self publish or if you are um, you know, follow. Self-pubbers then you know this information but I’m going to share it here anyway because it does bear repeating part of it is the percentage. Um from Carina press even though they gave me a very generous I think 45% something like that of the. Net so that means of the money that they get after the wholesale price and all of that they gave me 45% of that price. So and actually.

Okay, so I went ahead and opened the spreadsheet just so I could give you some actual numbers because I calculate approximately how much I earn per book. Um, well this is going to be a little bit deceptive. However, okay, well let me give you the the numbers. From through Carina Press which is harlequin which is under harper collins. We’re looking at big consolidation of presses. So it’s worth it looking at that tiering. Ah penguin already emerged with random house. Now Simon Shuster is looking to acquire penguin random house. So anyway before and you know under them. My books were earning I would get ¢71 to a dollar for per per book. Now I have to do some quick baths self publishing I’m getting $3 per book. Um, so easily 3 times I’m making per book so that adds up fast. The other piece of it is. Marketing. Um, and we were having this conversation over the weekend. Ah Minerva Spencer and Katie Lane are their writing names came to brunch at my house on Saturday and we. Set out in the grape arbor and talked business. It was lovely and the demystifying thing is is because we have all published traditionally and self published. And it can just be mystifying what the traditional publishers are doing I do pretty basic marketing on that Covenant of Thorns series and it’s like a 1,000 times more than Carina press did on them especially 10 years later um we were gossiping about one friend of ours who’s who had a bestselling book Usa today but still bestselling book did enormously well but it came out a long time ago now. Um, somebody was saying 3 years but I think it’s longer than 3 years because 3 years was beginning of pandemic that amazing. Um, well it was like leading up into ah it’s on my mind because like Minerva Spencer I had not seen her since September of 2019 so it was nearly three years since I had last seen her in the flesh.

And it’s funny to think that um you know three years ago August of 2019 I was at world con in Dublin and we traveled around Ireland just seems ages ago. So um, anyway I think this this gal’s book came out. Probably five or six years ago yeah could be even six or 7 definitely pre 2017 so that gives us a ah range anyway. But she gets very upset that her traditional publisher is not. Pouring more publicity that they’re publicizing other books newer books and not hers which ah you know sometimes that happens that way. Oh. Mosquito so it’s this is what traditional and publishers do. They’re always about the new shiny. They don’t care about the older books. Um.

And and it’s to the detriment of the author because I mean you know like this girl’s perfectly right to be upset that they’re not publicizing this book. Especially I mean everybody could be making money on this but they just don’t they also. Just don’t seem to know how to position books which is bizarre and they fully believe that they do know I mean they’re just certain that they are in the right? So it’s this very interesting thing. Um that there are what, one of the gals I don’t remember who they might have both said it is like well why are people still going with traditional publishers and I still think there are good reasons to publish traditionally. But as far as making a living and getting your books out there. Ah. And makes all the difference and and what’s funny is that the traditional publishers and we all know this because we have editors and agents saying this to us as they’ll say well you know you just can’t make real money self-p publishishing and they always want to go back to the Statistic. You know that most self-p publishers. Only ever sell a hundred copies a year and and it’s like yeah, but then you have to look at the the other end of the spectrum that you know you’re not looking at the person who decide to you know, write their memoir and. Printed it out for their kids and grandkids. Um, besides which we don’t have to sell as many copies to make really good money as evidenced by this statistic I’m just fascinated by that it has made this big of a difference because I thought well. You know should I even republish. These am my sinking good money into this for no reason it’s going to be great. It’s going to be awesome. I was also counting up like how many books I sold at Apollycon because in the world of the convention. You know, ah it was just like sale sale sale I sold a lot of copies of Rogues Pawn I didn’t realize how many but that was the right crowd for that book I did not sell as many copies of dark wizard as I thought I would I do have a mosquito candle out here now to fend off the mosquitoes. Ah, see if that works I’d scooted it closer because there’s a couple of mosquitoes hovering hovering hungrily. So um.

You know it’s just really interesting what you sell in different venues and I think this is one of the things that self-publishers are able to do is that I can go and I can see which of my books sell on site and what I can say to readers that elicits their attention. I think it’s really super cool that I sold so many copies of the print version of rogue spawn um, for $10 right? Ah, but they love that it was a face story. So um. My point and I do have one. You know that there are people in traditional publishing who make a huge amount of money but there are lots who don’t and even the ones who are making a decent living the dreaded midlist right? which has become kind of a curse. But. There was a statistic that came out the other day that said that um I don’t know if they put a percentage on it but it was most and and I believe that it is most traditionally published authors are making $25000 a year or less which is. Below poverty level in the us and I I don’t know if that’s before or after taxes. But it’s still It’s not much money. Actually I think it was $20000 a year because the person who retweeted it into my timeline said that they were. Doing relatively well compared to many of their compatriots and they’re making $25000 a year. Um, which is still not enough to live on and traditional publishing persists in this idea that um. You know that we should be grateful for the money we are making I think ah one of my friends has been kind of struggling because ah, her traditional sales have fallen off. Um, we think we know why I think I know why actually I gave her. Um. A really good insight and I’ve seen this happen to a number of my friends that’s bragging isn’t it I thought it was great insight. She agreed. Okay, so in in two cases I’m thinking of specifically and I could probably think of a lot more There was an author who was selling incredibly well in a particular thing and their publisher changed the branding of it in 1 case, an author was told no no, we don’t want more of these of this subgenre. We want you to write this other subgenre.

And the books just didn’t do as well and the publisher is like huh I wonder what happened? Well you went off of the main readership and this other friend of mine who has done fabulously well in. Traditional publishing to the point where she didn’t really want to self-p publishlish because she’s like I’m making better money and trap and it’s like well wherever you’re making better money and go for it but now ah her most recent series. The sales are really tanked and I realized how they changed from her main branding that these books don’t. Look or feel or have the same wording as the ones where her main platform is and and it’s a departure and and once I pointed this out to her. She’s like you know what? I’m going to put these words in my next title and I’m going to see what’s what happens and it’s like great. We can do this as self publishers meanwhile in traditional publishing land. Her editor actually said to her that it’s because she’s self-publishing that she’s diluting her sales and that’s and it’s her fault and this is what they do in traditional publishing is they tell the author that it’s their fault and because it can’t possibly be theirs. And it’s nonsense. It’s I I was telling this story to Minerva and Katie this weekend and both of them immediately said that’s bullshit because we all know that readers read much faster than we can write and they they want more books. They don’t. Get tight. They don’t say oh ho ha another j– oops sorry another Jeffe Kennedy ah slight slip there wonder if I could fudge it out I bet I didn’t say as much as I thought I did we’ll see. Ah, but yeah, another Jeffe Kennedy Blah you know it’s maybe there are some who say that but the passionate readers they want more and this idea that um, which tread really holds onto that you know that they feel that it should be 1 book a year and I even had that. Um, on my last traditional publishing excursion. You know when we were talking about the frequency of the books and they said well our market research shows that the books do best if we release some nine months apart I kind of wanted to say well, what market research is that. Because it’s sure not how it looks from our perspective. The other interesting thing about self-publishing and this is a conversation that Minerva Katie and I were having was how we know what it takes to make a good cover. We know exactly how expensive a cover is.

We know about layers and putting them together. You have to learn I mean it’s just like at first you don’t know and you gradually learn so when a traditional publisher comes to us and this has happened to all of us. And says look at this beautiful expensive cover and we’re like that’s clip art and this part doesn’t look right? Can you fix this and they’re like oh no, it would take so much to fix that we’re like no, no, no, all you do is go in and tweak that layer. Um and they still want to act like we don’t know this that they can still blow sunshine. Ah. So this has turned somewhat into an indictment of tread which I don’t mean it to be because um I there are a lot of things I love about traditional publishing. Um and I will still try to publish traditionally but there. I feel like we’ve been saying for more than a decade now that traditional publishing is going to have to change what they’re doing and they are somehow mysteriously still not doing it. Um, but yeah, just being able to. To make a living as a writer. There are not many people who can do that without also self- publishing or without having a sidegig. So um I do think and we were all agreeing is in our conversation Saturday that. It was huge for all 3 of us that we had already traditionally published and had that readership they’re they’re good at establishing that readership and so it made self publishing much easier. It’s it’s harder when you’re coming right out of the gate as a self-p publisher. Unfortunately, that’s just how it is. So on that note I’ve chattered on long I hope you all have a wonderful Monday and a wonderful week and I will talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye bye.

The Hybrid Life for Me!

ROGUE’S POSSESSION is now out!! 

This release dovetails nicely with this week’s topic. We’re asking, Traditional publishing, self-publishing or a fusion of the two. What works best for you?

This particular book is the second book in the Covenant of Thorns trilogy, which were originally traditionally published ten years ago! Those were my first fantasy romances and I was elated that Carina Press took a chance on my cross-genre novels. I went on to publish ten books in total with them. I’ve also done three traditionally published series with Kensington and one with St. Martin’s Press.
I like trad publishing. Having a team working on my books is a great feeling, as is not having to front the money.
As soon as I could get the rights back on these books, I did, and now I’m self-publishing them. The major reason? I’ll make a lot more money selling them myself.
A secondary reason: by controlling the series, I have more options to discount book one, a potent marketing technique trad-pubbing doesn’t allow.
A third, but super validating reason? At last I can give these books the covers they deserve!! I love these covers, designed by the incredibly talented Ravven, so much!
So, as you may have concluded, I’m falling in the “fusion of the two” category. Being a hybrid author gives me the best of both worlds. I aim to continue doing it that way.

First Cup of Coffee – July 26, 2022

ROGUE’S POSSESSION is out today!! Otherwise I’m talking about worldbuilding from a character-driven perspective and being aware as an author of what readers want for your characters.

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance here with my first cup of coffee.

But delicious today is Tuesday July Twenty Sixth um last working day week of July for me, not day week. Um, yeah. Kind of short week for me as I mentioned yesterday tomorrow I fly to a polyon word. The transcript cannot handle and. See if I do some podcasts from there or not. We got some rain last night. So everything is looking sprightly this morning sprightly and happy. And yeah. Ah, so I got a lot done yesterday. I was happy with what I got done yesterday I got a full hour of words in before I even met up with Darynda and so I was done by um I could tell you what time I was done by. Love being done early in the day I was done by 1130 had my 2000 words in by 1130 and that’s just the best. Um I really love having my words done by noon and I think iquito think I might have to go back to that. Kind of schedule. Um, it means getting up earlier. Sorry for the squirming around if you’re on video thesquitoes are getting me. Ah yeah, just really helps me to. Have words done before noon so that the afternoon is then for business I hear some writers talk about that they do like writing in the morning and then editing in the afternoon. But for me editing takes very much the same muscle as drafting. So. I think um, it it draws from the same world. So it doesn’t work that way for me sounds like a nice way to do it. But sorry for the scrape there decided to scoot you a little closer so I could sit back sit back and relax so um one thing that I did make some notes while I was gone of things I wanted to talk about I was reading a book. Ah I’ve I’ve discovered that.

It’s growing harder and harder for me to talk about the books that I’m reading because and it may be partly the podcast because I want to be able to dissect them and talk about what doesn’t work for me in them. And I feel I’m torn because I want to support the authors of the books by talking up their books. But then if I’m talking about their books. Critically I don’t feel like I should say. So I read this book that is by ah, it’s a fantasy romance. The romance was very thin um slow burn and picks up in the next book. But I didn’t. Didn’t care enough to keep going. Um, you know so that’s like not something I would ever what to say publicly about a book tell you guys which book it was tell you all which book it was ongoing effort to flense “guys” from my. Vocabulary. So so one I wanted to talk about I don’t need to go down this rabbit hole of this specific book and what worked and what didn’t for me but one thing I want to talk about is being aware and it’s a delicate line to walk of what your readers want for your characters and and this is. It’s dicey right? because you don’t know what you don’t know what your readers want necessarily but you do have to know for guess sense. There’s a certain amount of fan service in satisfying the readers with what they want a character to be able to have and do and. There’s a lot of joking that goes around all the time about um, authors torturing their characters I shared a meme a little while back that was pretty funny. Ah it was from a movie that I have to he’s.

So and there’s our hummingbird. Ah so a lot of activity out here this morning. Sorry the birds distracted me so thinking in terms of oh the beam. The meme. Ah it was from a movie that I recognized but couldn’t identify. You know what? I mean but it showed. Ah. Driver of the car ah with a manic expression on their face. Um the car clearly hurtling out of control and two people in the back seat screaming and it said ah when oh I’m not going to do a good job of explaining it. Ah, it said basically ah when ah when my when a favorite character dies and it’s shows you know the person driving the car is the author me my best friend screaming in the backseat I thought it was funny. So so but there are a lot of jokes about. Authors torturing their characters and I see authors talking from time to time about you know someone once called me out on that saying see someone talking but you see somebody talking and writing right? I. You I’m distracted this morning and I I saw an ah I see authors talking often about how they love to torture their characters and it never feels that way to me. I’m always on the side of my characters. Um the the world does terrible things to them sometimes but I’m always on the side of my characters figuring out how to deal with it. So I feel like I’m riding in the car too. I think that would be more accurate. So.

Ah I probably should have formulated this idea better before I start talking about it. But I figure out things as I talk about them just as I figure out things as I write about them. There’s a theme there right? So So this book. Let me go back to my concrete example that eventually the author did deliver on what I wanted but there was an extended period of the character being thrust into a role. That they did not want and being unhappy about that and longing for their old life which is I mean that’s heroo’s journey so you know it’s It’s certainly a a standard trope you know resisting. Call to action. But as a reader I really wanted this for this character I wanted this um responsibility this position and I didn’t like that. So many of the other characters. This is another thing about characters being mean to each other but I’ll come back to that. Hopefully if I remember I didn’t like that So many of the other characters were so against this person. Having this position. Um, and I felt like the world building was a little weak and I just taught this class for ah the clarion White Riaththon and I’m gonna be teaching it at Worldcon I just got noticed I’m gonna be giving this workshop at Worldcon. Which is world buildinging from a Character-d Driven perspective. So. It’s really cool that people want to to see this workshop and find it valuable. Basically it’s my approach that setting up the world in order to. Ah. Best put your characters through the crucible right? So which I suppose is is me driving the car to be fair. No, it’s me picking out the worst possible car I don’t know we won’t go. We won’t spend a lot of time on that analogy. But in this particular book. The there was this sense that the protagonist.

Could not have this position because of their gender and but the rest of the there were elements of that. But then the rest of the world didn’t necessarily support this and this is something I talk about in that workshop a lot.. It’s like. Okay, if you decide that you want females to be second class citizens and because of gender. Then first of all, be aware that you are Kneejerk Mimiic mimicking our patriarchal society. Which has been. You know our history has been extensively massaged to support that idea so be aware of those things and and if you’ve listened to me for a long Time. You’ve heard me talk about this before. But also know why you’re choosing that I mean are you choosing that just to sort of keep your your female characters down. Um, if there is a. It. It just has to be supported and and I realize I’m getting myself into a muddle because I’m trying not to give Details. So This isnt like an alternate fantasy world where the the lord of of the of the Land. Um. Yeah, which is basically it’s sort of like a a feudal. It’s It’s kind of like a Victorian England type society. Ah so it’s sort of as if the the duke were chosen by a magical means and the. Female protagonist is unexpectedly chosen and there’s a sense of that. No the world can’t that there’s There’s a dueling sense of that. No. She can’t. Be this because she’s female but she has to be this because she’s magically chosen and it was sort of halfway done. It was like well be can can a woman hold this position or not ah and I felt like the author just and it was a first book So you know. There’s something to that. The son is coming after me here I have just good over. Um, in fact I think I’ll just commit and do that That’s better. So You know it’s like either females have rights so they don’t.

Either females can be in positions of power or they can’t and obviously we’re talking a binary here. But so that’s that’s one piece is like when you’re creating a world even if you’re creating a world that is a close fac simile of our world or what we believe our historical world to have been. And you all have if you’ve listened for a long time. You’ve heard me talk about ah the de faux medieval fantasy setting which has very little to do with what the medieval era was actually like I had one um, really interesting reader contact me and talk about. Ah, gave me some interesting feedback where she um I believe she was a she her said that she was an historian and that she could talk about all of this stuff. You know like of how our ideas of what medieval. Society and culture and daily life were like are so incredibly wrong and have been so extensively massaged and really um oh what’s the word I want denigrated um, made to see much much worse than it was anyway, that’s another topic. Ah, but I will touch on this that when you do have a society where rights are based on gender which does reflect our society but you have to look at why and. How this is a very very long complicated history and how it affects people’s interactions you know is it exactly against the law or is it custom in this book. It wasn’t clear is it is there a higher law There wasn’t a sense of there being any higher law to the land. Um, it’s just it’s not devastating but it’s just slightly weak world-building you know it’s different whether or not things are actually illegal or whether they’re custom. Ah, but also how do. The other if things are very gender based how do other people react and this kind of comes around to my thing about characters being mean to each other I have a problem in books where where every character.

In the book is aligned against the protagonist and that was not the case in this book but there were a lot who who either were or were just sort of tangentially oblivious and it’s. In cases like that people do form alliances. You know like for instance, if females generally don’t hold positions of power and a female is thrust into a position of power ah by magical decision. The other females are going to have opinions about this. The males are too. But the other females are going to have feelings and many of those will be feelings of solidarity and again if you’ve listened to me for a long time. You know that I have that it’s one of the things that I complain about a lot is when female characters in a story. Are not supportive of each other that they don’t have real friendships. Ah I feel like this comes from fiction tropes rather than from real life because at least I hope because in real life. Especially where when rights are threatened people who are being deprived of those rights band together to protest right? That’s what we’re seeing. You know we see it with black lives matter. We see it with ah the protests against the overturn of Roe versus wade in the us. The other people who are being similarly oppressed are going to have feelings about this you and I realize that in a fantasy story. You may not want to get into all of that but it it has to be part of that world building iceberg right? There’s that great diagram with. The tip of the iceberg being like the things that show in the story. But then there’s all that stuff underneath. So so yeah I think um, but then the other piece is and I talked about this in that workshop as well is being. Aware of what your reader wants for that person and what your reader is bringing to the page because one person asked me if there were tropes I felt like were outdated world building tropes and I said well like one that I personally have a lot of trouble with is the. Fantasy story where the female characters are not allowed to have the education where they’re not allowed to go to the academy where they’re you know not allowed to get x y z and yes I know I have written this with ah.

Chronicles of test area that women are universally not taught anything even how to count and I did that for very specific reasons but I and and I made it extreme on purpose for that reason because when a reader. Picks up a book where the female characters are not allowed to go to university where they’re otherwise educated but not allowed to go to university it begins to feel a little unsupported it begins. It’s hard for us to identify because. Well I know there are parts of the world where females are denied education. It’s pretty rare now and so it’s a leap you want to keep in mind what your character what your reader wants for the character and in my case I really wanted my character. To be to seize this opportunity and not be all oh woe is me I wish I had my old life back I’ll ah allow a little bit of it. But then I wanted and eventually that change did happen. Um, but I want to. Ah, wanted more and maybe more would come in the subsequent books. So ah, that may have been a slightly muddled explanation I’ll keep thinking about it. Ah, but maybe I’ll weave it into the worldt building from a character driven perspective wforkshop at WorldCon if you’re going to world con or which you should be able to attend virtually as well and I’m realizing that I should have led with this today’s release day for Rogue’s Possession! Woohoo so it’s out in the world now. Um. So now you can buy the first two books and the third book comes out in a few weeks which means I need to get my act together and make my tweaks on it. So um, it’s weird having these releases of books I’ve already written because it feels like ah I don’t know. It’s it’s slightly anti-climatictic um, but I’m really pleased at how well these books are selling. It’s great to see a book that’s been out for ten years by any new readers. So on that note I am going to go do a few release day things. And I am going to get more words and get ready to fly to world con tomorrow if if you’re going to be there and you see me, please please say hi would love that every once a while I um.

Like I talked to this gal online and she said you know I wrote in an elevator with you at a conference and I was I wanted to say hi but I was too ah too shy like ah like oh please don’t be shy I am I try to be nice I think I’m nice. I love talking to people so do say hi and I will um, maybe talk to you all on Thursday maybe on Friday probably not on Monday because I have jury duty right. So certainly a week from today if nothing else you all take care bye bye.

Jeffe’s Top Three Resources for Names

ROGUE’S POSSESSION, Book #2 in my Covenant of Thorns Dark Fantasy Romance trilogy, is out in a week! It’s been so fun to see readers rediscover this first series of mine.
This week at the SFF Seven, we’re talking Naming Resources: Your top 3 sources for choosing names of characters, places, etc. Here are mine:
1. Jeffe’s Big List of Names
I keep a list. A spreadsheet (of course! for those who know me) that I add to any time I encounter a name I really like. I save them for important characters. One #protip: there are few disappointments greater than discovering you squandered a really good name on a throwaway secondary character. Save those names for someday!
2. Behind the Name is a great resource that lets you search for names in all sorts of ways. There’s also a surname version, for those tricksy family names.
3. Relevant Dictionaries
I also use archaic language dictionaries for whatever language family I’m using for a given world or realm within a world. These are easy to search for online, then look up word meanings and cobble together names from there.
Names are always important in my books – it’s one of my themes – so I’m almost always choosing them for their underlying meaning. Something to look for!

No Thank-You

I’ve been thinking about our customs around saying “thank-you” to people. Since our topic at the SFF Seven this week is whatever is on our minds, I’m going for this!

Way back in January 2013 I did a post on why I hate thank-you notes, and I tell you – I *still* get people finding my blog by Googling that topic, and sending me messages. So, this is something I’ve been mulling for a long time. I’ve gotten a new perspective on the topic lately, so come on over to read more!

Closing the Circuit with Readers – Plus Voltage!

the dance 2 croppedLovely shot (IMO) of my stepson and his bride dancing at their New Year’s Eve wedding. There’s something so classic about this moment, the “first” dance. Two people full of hope and love.

We come together over these things, don’t we?

So, an unusual thing happened along those lines.

It started when my longtime friend and CP, Allison Pang, discovered the easter egg I hid for her in Rogue’s Possession, and wrote a blog post about it. I wondered if anyone would notice it, but Allison and I think it’s hysterically funny, which is always good enough for us. 

 Well, turned out one of Allison’s readers saw the blog post and went out and read Rogue’s Pawn and Rogue’s Possession. I know this because she emailed me to say so. Now, let me say right now that getting messages from readers is a kick that never loses its impact. It’s something not easy to explain – and maybe something that I would never have predicted would mean so much – but hearing from someone who just loved loved loved your story completes a kind of circuit. It’s like in physics, where the electrical current doesn’t flow until the circle is complete. When someone writes or talks to me about one of my books, it’s like they bring all that energy back around and it lights me up.

And this was even better.

The lovely and enthused Heather wrote this to me:

So I’m still basking in the afterglow of Rogue’s Possession. When stories affect me like this I usually create a music playlist for the book/series. I put my IPod on shuffle and see what comes up and fits the mood the book evokes in me and fits the story or characters. The first song that came up was one of my all time favorites from nineties industrial rock, Waking Up Beside You by Stabbing Westward. It was never released on the radio but it is my favorite on their album Darkest Days. I don’t know what your music tastes are but this song is so passionate about something so simple with an intense rock sound becoming so complex. It reminded me of Rogue and Gwynn immediately, a couple who is passionate, intense, and complex but crave simplicity in their lives. I see the song from both of their points of view. I hope you give it a listen, but if not no biggie. I just wanted to share it with you.

 Of course I listened to the song! I mean, right?? And I shelled out my 99cents and bought it. It moves me deeply, both how perfect the song is for Rogue & Gwynn, and that Heather shared it with me. This was like completing the circuit and amping the voltage. I love that I wrote about this feeling and she reflected it back. A shared moment.

I’m still high from it.

She’s right on, so I’m sharing it here.

Why I’m Proud to Say I Write Erotic Romance



Many things going on today. Why today, I don’t know. Beware the Ides of October?

I’ve got a guest post over at What’s Beyond Forks today. She also gave Rogue’s Possession a lovely review.

I also am up over at Paranormal Romantics, talking about the map I drew for my Twelve Kingdoms trilogy and why maps of imaginary worlds are so compelling.

Finally, the BDSM Goodreads group is featuring Ruby on the group homepage. You can listen to a clip of it, which is really quite fun, I think. There’s also an interview with me, in case you don’t know everything already. :-p


That’s stuff for Covenant of Thorns, Twelve Kingdoms and Facets of Passion, all on one day. What I get for simultaneously writing erotic romance, fantasy romance and fantasy.

It’s funny because I was at a conference this last weekend sponsored by a non-RWA writers’ organization. So the attendees wrote in a wide mix of genres. I gave a workshop called “More than Wham, Bam, Thank-you Ma’am: Wooing the Female Reader.” I wanted to make the case for adding love and sex to a story in ways that appeal to women. A number of the writers present came from a more hard-core epic fantasy lens. In fact, one guy handed me his book to peruse and, though the jacket copy mentioned probably five or six characters, not one was female. I nearly said I’d never read a book that doesn’t even mention a female character in the jacket copy, but I figured he wouldn’t care. I wasn’t his reader.

But I think I did take people aback a bit – even though I dedicated a slide at the start to a Fair Warning! that I write erotic romance and talk frankly about sex. A few people did leave, but more stayed. We had a great discussion. One question that comes up over and over is if I admit publicly to being a writer of erotic romance.

I find it funny that people ask that question. As if it’s something to hide, possibly to be ashamed of.

The gal who gave the opening luncheon address tossed off a remark that she wouldn’t want E.L. James’ paycheck (the writer of Fifty Shades of Grey) because she wouldn’t be able to face her grandchildren.

It struck me as a very odd thing to say.

After all, I have grandchildren. They’re obviously too young to understand now, but when they grow up, I’d be honest about what I write. I’d hope that they’d be proud to have me for a grandmother.

At a neighborhood party recently, the mother of three kids down the road said something interesting to me. She told me that she grew up in a farming community, filled with corn and conservative people. I wasn’t sure why she was telling me about it, but she finally said, “I am just so happy that my kids are growing up in a neighborhood where an erotic romance writer lives up the street. Even if they can’t read your books, it’s so good for them to know amazing people like you.”

It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

This Stuff Ain’t Stayin’ in Vegas!

hotel viewSo, I’m here in Las Vegas, downtown at the Plaza Hotel. The hotel website referred to the pool as “iconic.” David asked me what that meant and I said probably that we’ll recognize it from movies. We’ve now decided it means “old, but not neat enough to be historic, but you still can’t bitch about it being ugly.” We’ve also labelled the elevators iconic, the strange service and the decades-old cigarette smell. I noticed this morning that a casino hotel on the next block is labelled “legendary,” which suspect means the same this as “iconic.”

I met my Kensington editor, Peter Senftleben, last night. He’s just lovely in person. Agent Pam arrives this morning, so it should be a good time to be had by all. Now I need to work on my presentation for tomorrow!

Also, I’m guesting on the fabulous Suzanne Johnson’s Preternatura blog today, talking about worldbuilding as gardening. Comment to win a copy of either Pawn or Possession!

But first… You guys have to read the joint review Bookpushers gave Rogue’s Possession. Okay, you don’t HAVE to, but it’s the most wonderful, amazing review ever. Just to indulge myself, here are some quotes. You’re welcome.

This is one of the most imaginative, seductive and darkly sensual fantasy romances I’ve ever read.

There is a real emphasis on the characters and the plot as well as the world-building which is explored in much more depth but retains the surreal and dreamy tone with great touches of humour as well as darkness.

This was another great installment that was well worth waiting for. Now I can’t wait for the next one!

The tension between them which I thought was hot and sizzling in the first book, was an inferno for this one!

I stayed up into the wee hours of a workday morning because I was so hooked.

All right. Thank you for indulging me. You may now go on about your business.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Dream Casting the Movie

Armitage_New_York_December_2012I’m on the Carina Press blog today, talking about who’d I’d cast to play Rogue and Gwynn in the movie. Stop by to add your votes for alternative casting or for the secondary characters!

Tomorrow, I’m heading to Las Vegas (VIVA!) to attend the Nevada Writers Fiction Writing in the Digital Age Conference, where I’ll be giving a workshop on Saturday, More than Wham, Bam, Thank-You M’am – Wooing the Female Reader and signing swag at the Atomic Book Signing on Friday night.

If you’re in the area, come on by!

Release Week Shenanigans

Jeffe & DaryndaWHEW!

You know, we call it Release Day, when our books hit the market, but it’s more like Release Marathon. My mom has a friend who says “the birthday isn’t over until all the gifts are in.” That’s a bit how this feels. Yesterday was like my birthday, with all of the congratulations on the release of Rogue’s Possession, and now there’s more today and for the foreseeable future.

You guys are so great!

So, there’s all sorts of things going on.

My fabuloso buddy, Darynda Jones, also has a release today, making us Release Day Twins. Thus, we’re doing a Trivia Showdown over on Facebook. It’s pretty damn funny, I think. See, I asked her five questions and she gave me her answers. I posted them as multiple choice, filling in the other options myself. Maybe it’s diabolical of me, but I get pretty tickled when people choose my red-herring answers. Today she’ll ask ME five questions. Top prize is a $50 gift card to Wolferman’s Bakery, for the sheer numminess. Book giveaways are naturally also part of the deal!

I’m also over at Here Be Magic today, with an excerpt from Rogue’s Possession, just for fun – and wishing sister Word Whore, Veronica Scott a very Happy Birthday!

There’s a couple of giveaways in progress also. Hie on over to Pearls Cast Before a McPig or, if you want to read a chat between Rogue and Gwynn (who doesn’t, right??) you can visit So Many Reads.

See what I mean?

Send baked goods!