So, 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!
Amazon is running a special on the Kindle version of The Tears of the Rose on April 26, 2015 only. Get it for $2.99! Especially nice timing if you want to read it before book 3 comes out one month from today!
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!
I’m over celebrating Day 10 of the Smutketeers Twelve Days of Christmas. There’s a huge giveaway involved with tons of naughty authors, so it’s very fun. Along those lines, I’m giving away UNDER HIS TOUCH, which just received 4.5 stars from RT Book Reviews. *happy dancing*
I’m also talking about my second Twelve Kingdoms book, THE TEARS OF THE ROSE today in several places. The brilliant and generous Suzanne Johnson is hosting me on her blog, where we’re discussing the double standard of the unlikable heroine vs. the dark hero. Harlequin Junkie has a terrific post up where she interviewed me for secrets about the book and extracted all sorts of excerpts. Finally, I’m at Fresh Fiction, talking about the rise of Fantasy Romance as a genre and why I think it’s happening now.
The Literary Escapism blog is hosting me today with their Black Friday party and ongoing giveaway – I offer up what Princess Amelia, of The Tears of the Rose, might put on her shopping list.
Finally, I have to share that Regina Small of RT Book Reviews picked The Tears of the Rose as one of her Top Ten Books of 2014 – along with Amy Poehler’s book! Is there anything better than having a really smart reviewer say wonderful, insightful things about your book? YES! Having her make a comparison to Buffy the Vampire Slayer! This is what she says:
The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy — It is a truth universally acknowledged that I’m a sucker for spoiled, sheltered heroines who lose it all, and then have to find their own way in the wilderness. (Think Cordelia Chase’s brilliant character arc in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.) At the beginning of The Tears of the Rose, beautiful pampered princess Amelia is in mourning over the loss of her husband. While this is undeniably a romance — spoilers: Ash is hot — Kennedy gives Ami something even more important than a partner: a purpose. And Ami’s transition into a woman with a richer inner life is so complex and well done; Ami never stops loving her fallen husband, Hugh, but she recognizes that her love for him belongs to a different, more innocent life. With Hugh, she was a child; with Ash, she is a woman.
A serendipitous shot as the setting sun sent rays of light across my desk and lit up the globe that Kensington gave me with the cover of THE MARK OF THE TALA inside. If I’d been thinking, I would have turned it around to show the flip side, with the cover of last week’s release and the sequel, THE TEARS OF THE ROSE. The glow lasted barely long enough for me to grab my phone and snap. Ah well, so goes serendipity.
One of my favorite bits of feedback lately on THE TEARS OF THE ROSE, was when my longtime friend, Kev, commented this on my release day post:
There was an absolutely gorgeous sunrise today. I looked West and the mountains were this perfectly lovely shade of pink against a slightly lighter pink sky. I felt strongly compelled to sketch some circles in the air, but my Lutheran upbringing wouldn’t quite allow it.
If you haven’t read the book yet, that’s a reference to the observances of the goddess Glorianna, which occur ritually at sunrise and sunset, when her circle is drawn in the air. And her color is pink.
There’s something wonderfully invigorating about hearing comments like this, knowing that something you wrote went into another person’s mind deeply enough to invoke this impulse. Even if it wasn’t enough to overcome that childhood programming, alas! Inventing this mythology of the three goddesses came about organically as part of writing the story. I hadn’t anticipated that would even be a factor of the world as I began writing Andi’s story in THE MARK OF THE TALA. While all three goddesses – Glorianna, Moranu and Danu – make an appearance in the first book, in the sequel, THE TEARS OF THE ROSE, part of Ami’s journey is finding her place as an avatar of Glorianna. So I ended up exploring the mysticism and influence of the goddesses much more. I even wrote an entire myth!
In writing book 3, THE TALON OF THE HAWK, I found myself inventing a martial arts system for my warrior princess Ursula, one that stems from the teachings of Danu. Speaking of which, if you love the cover as much as I do, Addicted to Heroines is running contest to choose the Hottest Heroine from among eight covers and THE TALON OF THE HAWK is one. You can vote daily, even!
(As if you have nothing better to do with your life… but the option is there!)
At any rate, playing with this mythology was so fun that I even wrote an extra bit for Jen Twimom’s holiday Mistletoe Madness event on That’s What I’m Talking About. The post is here and is told from Ami’s point of view about their observation of the Feast of Moranu on the winter solstice. That was a kick to write also. I’m sure it contains many familiar elements that you all will recognize, but it still felt special to me.
Glorianna’s blessings on you all!
I’m over at Here Be Magic, offering a very special Thank You giveaway. And being thankful in general for the whirlwind release day yesterday. You all are so wonderful – I’m overwhelmed.
Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. cohort – and I hope the rest of you find some time to indulge in good food, better company and an excellent book!