Meeting Your Heroes – Awesome Experiences Chapter

A week ago, last Friday, I got to see Dar Williams in concert.

I didn’t get to tell you all about it before this, because we left early the next morning for the long road trip to my mother-in-law’s funeral. But I was super excited for this concert and so happy that the timing worked out so that I could go, as Dar has long been one of my all-time favorite singer/songwriters. I have all of her CDs. Yes, actual CDs, because I started listening to her in the early 90s and I collected every single one. (Admittedly, her two most recent releases I have on iTunes only.)

Back in the early 90s – well, and in the mid and late 90s – I was living in Laramie, Wyoming. I’d bailed on my PhD program, got my Masters degree in ’94, and had decided to become a writer instead of a neuroscientist. As one does.

I’d gotten a job with a petroleum research group as an editor/writer, in order to build my writing chops. I had a terrific boss, and a lovely quiet office, with lots of sunshine and not a lot of pressure. Every morning I listened to Wyoming Public Radio on the local station which broadcast right there from the University of Wyoming campus. After the national shows and news, it went over to Don Woods’ Morning music, which played until noon.

Don loved Dar Williams, and soon I did, too.

My memories of those days are all tied up with learning how to write and to be a writer. I first submitted work to a Wyoming Arts Council literature award because I heard about it on that station. An award I eventually won, years later.

I’d been to see Dar perform twice over the years, but in much bigger venues. That she was coming to the GIG in Santa Fe – an intimate space in my new home town – promised much. I dragged the delightful Megan Mulry along with me – who’d never heard of Dar, but is always up for art excursions of any kind. With the general seating, we snagged chairs in the front row. 

After the show – which was a mix of reading and singing, because Dar has a book out on community and what she’s learned from all her years as a traveling musician – she invited people to stay and chat, get autographs, etc. Unfortunately, in a SNAFU all writers understand far too well, her books didn’t arrive, so she couldn’t sign and sell those. 

Megan – and this is one of the reasons I love her – suggested we hang until the end, then invite Dar to come have a drink with us. “After all,” she said, “this is what the writers do, right?” And Megan and I were already planning to hit up Second Street Brewery for drinks and a late dinner.

So, we hung out, and took a series of silly selfies while we waited. It didn’t take long for the line to wear down and then I got to chat with Dar. Total fangirl moment, which I got out of the way first. I told her how I loved that she talked about public radio and local stations and how they build community, because I first listened to her music on Wyoming Public Radio. Looking back, I see now how important that connection to the greater world was for me, and how much her storytelling via song influenced me. It was funny to discover that we are almost exactly the same age, too.

For fans, I also asked her if “I Won’t Be Your Yoko Ono” was a response to “Be My Yoko Ono” by the Barenaked Ladies. The answer? Amazingly enough, though the songs came out at the same time, they were unrelated. Dar said that if she’d been more media conscious, she might’ve done a throw-down with them. It could still happen.

Megan took our picture together – a first for me, though I’ve happily posed for many photos with readers – and Dar asked about my books. She planned to download the audio book of The Mark of the Tala to listen to on the road the next day. 

Did you get that part? DAR WILLIAMS WAS GOING TO READ MY BOOK.

I can’t even. I think back to that younger me, listening to Wyoming Public Radio and trying to figure out how to be a writer. I came away feeling like I’d made a friend of one of my heroes.

Alas, Dar couldn’t come for a drink as she was leaving early, though she said she normally would. I believed her. She even said she was glad to have met us, especially as the people who wait until the end to talk to her are often weird. Like the guy who sincerely believed she was an alien and they needed to discuss that.

As Megan and I walked out, Dar called my name and hurried after us. She gave me her reading copy of What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musician’s Guide to Rebuilding America’s Communities—One Coffee Shop, Dog Run, and Open-Mike Night at a Time. She’d spilled water and coffee on it, which made it even better. 

Pretty awesome.

Patreon Treats Are Up!

Detente and CircumstancesBox of Rogue's Pawn print copiesI got a surprise box in the mail the other day of ROGUE’S PAWN in print! Harlequin decided to resurrect this, my first fantasy romance and my first novel, and send print copies via their Direct-to-Consumer subscription program. I don’t think it will be up for general sale in print (ebooks are available, though), but I do have all of these lovely copies! If you’d like one, just drop me a note with your physical mailing address. 

The Covenant of Thorns trilogy, not incidentally, is super fun because of the chapter titles, like the one above. They’re all some kind of joke, even if they amuse only myself. 

In other news, I put up my first Patreon posts! I’ve got a public post up on overtraining syndrome for writers on my Patreon for Writers. I also have a special treat only for patrons on my Patreon for Readers. It’s a from Rayfe’s point of view, where he first learns about the betrothal, years before the beginning of The Mark of the Tala. Aside from being read aloud at the Coastal Magic Convention, no one else has seen it. A little exclusive content for my wonderful patrons! A special exclusive Thing is coming up next week just for writers on their Patreon page. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Five Things I’d Tell My Newbie Writer Self

roadrunner crop

This is our neighborhood roadrunner. She comes by fairly frequently and checks things out. Not easy to get a good pic of her either! This isn’t the best shot I got (too much background, not *quite* in focus), but I love how it captures her purposeful stride.

Speaking of purposeful, our theme over at Word Whores this week is: What I wish I knew when I started writing. 

So. Many. Things.

But I picked five. 

Also, if you haven’t yet read THE MARK OF THE TALA, it’s on sale at Amazon for only $2.51. Great time to pick up a copy!

The End!

Grape Arbor 6_29_15So, yesterday I finished writing THE PAGES OF THE MIND!

(There’s nothing on that link yet – I just put it there for the FUTURE.)

I’ve been writing in the grape arbor pictured above, which has been really lovely. A nice place to finish this book.

This is book four of The Twelve Kingdoms, picks up in the aftermath of THE TALON OF THE HAWK, and moves into the librarian Dafne Mailloux’s point of view. I’m pretty sure I say this every time, but wow – I was not at all sure how that one was going to come together. Even yesterday when I started writing, I didn’t know how the riddles would be answered or what Dafne would decide to do. I wrote the final pages yesterday in a sudden, accelerated rush as it all fell into place. Astonishingly wonderful experience. Worth all the emo thrashing I was doing there for a while. Which is something you all can absolutely remind me of when I’ll undoubtedly do it again.

But for now, the next book isn’t due until January 1, 2016, which feels like a *luxuriously* long time from today.

In one of those serendipitous coincidences of timing, I also found out yesterday that THE TALON OF THE HAWK was nominated by RT Book Reviews for best book of June 2015! Book 2 in this series, THE TEARS OF THE ROSE, was also nominated, in December 2014, and book 1, THE MARK OF THE TALA, received the win, the Seal of Excellence, in June 2014. So, all in all, I’m tremendously gratified at the reception this series has received. It’s been amazing.

Regina Small at RT said of TALON:

“Every time I finish a book in the Twelve Kingdoms series and declare that it’s better than the last, I feel like I’m betraying my past self. After The Tears of the Rose, I thought there couldn’t possibly be a more moving portrayal of a character’s evolution or a sexier fantasy romance. But somehow, Jeffe Kennedy has proven me wrong yet again. In The Talon of the Hawk, Kennedy explores Ursula’s divided loyalties — to her sisters and the future of the Twelve Kingdoms, and to her increasingly unhinged father, Uorsin. Ursula stepping out of her father’s shadow dovetails beautifully — and painfully — with her sexual awakening, brought on by Harlan, the powerful-yet-gentle mercenary captain. For series fans, Ursula’s story pays off so much of the ongoing mythology of the Twelve Kingdoms. And Harlan’s unwavering devotion to Ursula is so poignant and perfect — I’m still swooning.”

(Also, THE MARK OF THE TALA is on sale at Amazon for only $2.51, which is a great deal to snap up – it’s usually $9.00 or more.)

People are asking me what the next steps on PAGES are. It’s technically due tomorrow, July 1, but my excellent editor Peter Senftleben gave me an extra couple of weeks to polish. So today and maybe tomorrow, I’ll do some tweaking. Fix a few things that changed when I discovered the ending. Weave in some backstory. Fill in all the [ ] I leave in the text as I’m drafting for people and place names I need to decide on. Then I’ll send it to the CPs. They’ve already read the first 75% or so and gave me feedback on that.

Then I’ll spend the end of this week letting PAGES cool, to give me a little distance from the story, while I revise HEART’S BLOOD. This is a story – a Goose Girl retelling set in the world of The Twelve Kingdoms – that will be in an anthology with five other authors, out September 29. It’s called DARK SECRETS: A PARANORMAL NOIR ANTHOLOGY. You can read more about it here.

I’ll pick up PAGES again around July 6, after spending July 4th weekend – Independence Day in the U.S. – doing absolutely *nothing* productive.

After that? I have plans to work on a secret something I’m brewing with fabulous sister Fantasy Romance author Grace Draven.

There will also be enjoying summertime in the grape arbor. Hope you all get to also!

 

The Talon of the Hawk Release Day!

the talon of the hawk Lots and lots going on today!

WOW.

First off…2015PrismFinalist

THE TALON OF THE HAWK IS FINALLY OUT!!!

People have been saying they’ve been looking forward to Ursula’s story since The Mark of the Tala first hit the shelves. Speaking of which, that book just finaled in Fantasy for FFP’s PRISM award

Woo hoo!!!Negotiation

In celebration of release day of The Talon of the Hawk, I’m also releasing the prequel story, Negotiation, as an ebook – and setting it free for a week!! This was previously in the Thunder on the Battlefield anthology. Download a copy! 🙂

Smashwords

Amazon

Kobo

Google Play

Finally, I’m everywhere at once today. I’m at the Contemporary Romance Cafe, talking about the intersection of fantasy and contemporary psychology. Also, I’m at Here Be Magic, talking about why we need more superheroines.

The Talon of the Hawk

A HEAVY CROWN
Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.
Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other-that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

Request a digital review copy

Available May 26, 2015

 

Rayfe, from THE MARK OF THE TALA

Show Rayfe and The Mark of the Tala the Lurv!

Rayfe, from THE MARK OF THE TALAKensington is running a Hero vs. Hero Ultimate Showdown. They’re pitting the heroes from various books against each other for fans to vote on. For all of you out there who share my mad love for Rayfe, King of the Tala, then get ready to vote tomorrow, February 11! He’s up against some shaggy blond dude, so this is our chance to show that Rayfe rules supreme in our hearts.

Shapeshifting wizard kings FOR THE WIN!

(I nearly typed “wine,” which is accurate also.)

Here’s Rayfe’s dossier:

KENNEDYtextFeel free to share both the pic above and this dossier. And vote as often as you like!

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

Sex Workshop!

B6TQt4wCEAAPMqnEven in Santa Fe, winter can get frosty, keeping restless kitties indoors…and bored. Watch your toes!

I’m busily preparing the online workshop I’ll be teaching that starts next week. It’s for Outreach International Romance Writers on Sex as a Tool for Character Transformation. Non-members can register here up through the 5th. (As far as *I* am concerned, you can sign-up anytime, but OIRWA might not feel the same way…)

If you want to know a bit more about WHY I think transformation is key and how sex plays into that, I wrote a post about it yesterday.

A couple of people have pinged me on social media asking if this class would be good for someone who hasn’t written much – or any – sex before. The answer is yes. In fact, I think you could write any heat level and this class would work for you – just be aware that conversation will be straightforward and explicit.

And also really interesting.

In other news, THIS happened right before Christmas and I didn’t get a chance to mention it here. THE TEARS OF THE ROSE got first Honorable Mention for the RT December Seal of Excellence. The list of other books up for consideration are not in alphabetical order, so that’s how I’m taking it. 🙂 They said:

I had been waiting for this second installment of Kennedy’s fabulous Twelve Kingdoms series since I turned the final page of The Mark of the Tala, our June SOE winner. While Andi, our previous heroine, always doubted her worth, the same could not be said for Princess Amelia. Ami was the beloved beautiful princess, the crown jewel of the Twelve Kingdoms. And when she married handsome prince Hugh of Avonlidgh, it seemed like she’d already found her happily ever after. But The Tears of the Rose tears Ami down — and rebuilds her. After Hugh’s shocking and sudden death, Ami is paralyzed with grief and without direction. Pregnant with Hugh’s child, she is torn between kingdoms, seeking — ultimately empty — gratification in the idea that she is the human avatar of the goddess Glorianna. The irresistible White Monk, Ash, shakes Ami out of this grandiose, false vision of herself. He helps her find the real Ami – not a goddess, not a pampered princess, but a person of conscience. Kennedy does a pitch-perfect job of not only charting Ami’s belated journey into adulthood, but of making her love for Ash emotional and believable.” — Regina Small

 I know a lot of people (my editor, my agent, assorted members of my cheering section) were hoping this book would receive the Seal of Excellence as THE MARK OF THE TALA did, but I’m thrilled with this nod. I think it’s good for another author to experience the sweetness of being singled out this way, too.

Besides, being in the company of heavy hitters like Tiffany Reisz, Sarah MacLean and Eileen Dreyer is pretty damn awesome!

I was chatting on Twitter with Rachel Caine, whose PRINCE OF SHADOWS, is also an RT Book of the Year nominee. As one does. HEE! Seriously, she tweeted that she’d ordered THE MARK OF THE TALA and THE TEARS OF THE ROSE and was looking forward to reading them and I had a fangirl mini-meltdown. See, I picked up her first book, ILL WIND, back in 2003. For those keeping score at home, that was when my own first book – WYOMING TRUCKS, TRUE LOVE AND THE WEATHER CHANNEL – came out, which means I was solidly writing nonfiction then. It’s a serious kick to know SHE is reading MY books now. Also terrifying, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing.

Anyway, she mentioned that she’s going to try to read all of the Book of the Year nominees, which I think is a really fun idea. I might try to do this, too. We should have a book club and discuss! Hmm…

At any rate, welcome to 2015 – the water seems to be just fine. Best wishes to everyone in the year ahead!

New Tattoo!

feather tattooI kept quiet-ish on this and waited until it healed to take a photo. But I got my first tattoo!

feather tattoo cropfeather

If you haven’t been keeping score at home, it’s the feather from THE MARK OF THE TALA cover. Having that book come out, and how wonderfully the whole series has been received has been a watershed for me.

So this is how I commemorated this year, apropos as it comes to a close.

Who knows what 2015 will bring?

Happy turn of the year to you all!