Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is which fairy tale would you pick to rewrite and why?
It’s kind of a funny question for me, because it’s starting to be more accurate to ask me which fairy tale I *haven’t* rewritten yet. Come on over for more.
These three books are on sale right now. THE MARK OF THE TALA, the book that started it all, first in The Twelve Kingdoms series. Also THE PAGES OF THE MIND, my RITA® Award-winning novel, which kicks off a new phase in the overall series, and PRISONER OF THE CROWN, first in a stand-alone spin off trilogy, The Chronicles of Dasnaria. If you’ve been thinking about reading my books or this series, it’s a great time to start!
Our topic at the SFF Seven this week regards the writer’s Seven Deadly Sins: the list of things you MUST avoid if you want to finish a project on time. Of course, if you’re supposed to be writing, and you’re reading this, you’ve already broken three of mine. Oops. But never fear! There is still hope for you. Read on.
Our topic this week at the SFF Seven – one entirely appropriate for science fiction and fantasy authors – is “spending time on worldbuilding vs. actual drafting – what’s your balance?” Come on over to find out more.
These rainy days and chilly evenings have made for a cozy autumn. So lovely to build a fire, put on a warm robe, and read by the fireplace.
I sometimes get questions from readers – for the most part through my website contact form, Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter – and usually I answers those questions where they’re asked. The other day, however, I received an email via the website contact form, with enough questions and enthusiastic thoughts, that I asked for permission to share it here. Pretty much the fun version of asking the question so the whole class can hear, because other people probably have the same question. 😉
Here’s the email from Ellen: (I added the handy links)
Hello! First of all I have to say that I’m a huge fan! I recently discovered you through another favorite author of mine, Grace Draven. I started with “The Mark of The Tala” and then literally binge read every book in your entire 12 kingdoms universe in a matter of weeks. I absolutely loved how you tied in all the stories and I’m so excited to see what happens next, especially with war on the brink! That being said I do have a few questions I was wondering if you can answer (if not I totally understand!)
I always try to answer questions! Plus, I love to hear what readers love and what snags their curiosity. So here are some answers!
1) many of your Dasnarian characters use the term “cvan”, however I can’t find a definition for the word anywhere in your books. What does it mean? (On a side note it might be cool if future books had a glossary of terms. Just an idea! )
That’s a great idea to include a glossary of terms and Assistant Carien is on it! I don’t always define terms in my books unless I can find a way to make it a natural part of conversation. “Cvan” is a Dasnarian word that I made up, working off Old Norse – which is the springboard for all of my Dasnarian language – and means essentially “my lover.” Because that’s meant in a very sexual sense, there’s rarely opportunity to work into conversation a discussion of the term!
2) I understand both of Ami’s twins can shift, due to the barrier expanding, but what does it mean that only Stella has the “mark”? Before I thought the mark meant that she had enough magic to shift, so now I’m just a bit confused as to what the mark means. Is it in reference to her magical gifts? Like Andi with the foresight and Stella with emotions?
Aha! This is still somewhat mysterious and will not be explained until the final book. There are lots of guesses out there, and it’s nothing that people probably haven’t already intuited, but it’s not surprising that you’re confused since I’ve never come right out and explained. You’re on the right track – that it has to do with the magical gifts.
3) Will we ever find out the significance of Salena’s sea shells and the connection of them with Rayfe’s mother?
It’s funny, Carien had to go look for this for me, to remind me of the reference. For those wondering, the scene Ellen references comes at the end of THE MARK OF THE TALA, in the vision Andi experiences. Really there’s not much significance to this. Andi tells Rayfe’s mother, Garland, about the seashell because it’s part of showing that it truly was a message from Salena – something only Salena and Garland knew about. It was simply a memento of their friendship.
4) I can’t wait for “Seasons of Sorcery,” after that will there be any more “Uncharted Realms” releases? I’m so curious to see what future POV characters will take the main stage!
Right now I’m planning one more book in The Uncharted Realms series, which will tie up all the current threads and reveal some answers to questions posed back at the beginning of The Twelve Kingdoms. I haven’t publicly announced this anywhere yet (I think) because I was still noodling it, but that book will be called THE FATE OF THE TALA, and if all goes well, it will be out in May of 2019.
Last week I attended SFWA’s Nebula Conference and got to meet our 2018 Grandmaster, Peter S. Beagle. I legit teared up when we talked and he signed my battered old copy I received forever and a day ago. I felt like a teenager again and all those feelings that led into my early love of fantasy rose up and swamped me.
The conference in 2019 will be at the Marriott Warner Center in Los Angeles. I highly recommend it! It’s become my absolute favorite gathering of SFF writers and industry professionals.
Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is “Where do you get your ideas – the least popular question ever.” Come on over for three avenues I rely on for ideas.
At last, the preorder links are live for AMID THE WINTER SNOW! You can get it at:
This is an amazing collection of Fantasy Romance stories, with lots of magic and cozying up while snowstorms rage outside. I’ve read the other three stories and they’re all so delicious. And meaty! They’re all substantial novellas. I hope you all love them just as much.
Here’s a little excerpt from mine, The Snows of Windroven.
“I never intended to cause you pain, Ami,” I told the top of her head as she worked to clean the cuts. Brutally insufficient words to describe the depth of what I’d never intended. Beginning with laying a finger on her royal, unblemished skin. Even with her tending me out of simple sympathy, in broad view of the travelers on the main highway, the least brush of her fingers on my skin brought up the insatiable lust for her, hard and hot.
She looked up at me and creaked out a smile through still damp eyes. “I know that. And you’ve made me so happy.” She took a deep breath. “I always understood, though, that this was temporary.”
“We both understood that, from the first night by the lake.”
Her smile went tremulous. “When I seduced you, despite your better judgement.”
I laughed, though it never comes out right. It always sounds more like a groan scraping out of my scarred throat. “Everything with you has been against my better judgement, Ami. And I’ve never been able to help myself. You burn so bright.”
“Like staring into the sun,” she said, an oddly sorrowful crease at the corners of her eyes. Her innate magic made her beautiful even in tears and other extremes of emotion—and my passionate queen ranged through many extremes—so rarely did she look as she did now, smudged with unhappiness, dented by my careless handling of her. “Do you remember when you said that to me? You said you were afraid you’d come away burned and blinded.”
“I remember,” I allowed. I did so much better with silence. I should never have broken my vow. If I hadn’t, we wouldn’t have come to this pass.
“You said that if you stared into the sun too long, you’d be immolated, and the only freedom for you would be to stay far, far away.”
Never mistake that a mind sharp as a sword lies behind that pretty face. She likely remembered every word I’d ever said to her, both the wise and the incautious.
Out December 12!
THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE is taking shape! If you haven’t been under a rock these last two days – and if you have, hey, I don’t judge – then you’ve already seen the cover. So much gorgeousness! The incomparable Ravven did this for me. Many people (who haven’t been under a rock, but that’s okay, too) have asked if this is the same artist who did the covers for (RITA finalist!) THE PAGES OF THE MIND and THE EDGE OF THE BLADE.
The short answer is: no.
But Ravven did an AMAZING job of matching the look and feel of those previous covers. Those were done via my publisher, Kensington. They hired artist Cliff Nielsen to create the images and Kensington’s in-house cover designer, Kristine Mills, took it from there. Ravven did both jobs and managed to capture the same vibe while pinpointing everything about Zynda as I described her.
Because, yes, that’s Zynda – the Tala cousin of the three princesses of the original Twelve Kingdoms trilogy. She’s a powerful shapeshifter, capable of taking many animal forms, and she’s also a sorceress. Just how much can she do? Well, we don’t know for sure! But, like her cousin Andromeda (Andi), she is of Salena’s potently magical line. Zynda has an interesting role to play in unraveling the riddles that plague their realms.
Oh, wait – you’re wondering why I’m doing this book on my own, when the previous five were with Kensington? Yeah, savvy readers will have picked out that THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE will be self-published rather than traditionally published. This partly by my choice, partly not.
See, this is how traditional publishing works, is that they might decide they no longer want to publish a series even though the author (and possibly readers!) think there’s more story to tell. In Kensington’s case, they were happy the books were so well received and have gotten great awards, but the sales weren’t what they wanted. Specifically the print sales. All of these books have sold great in ebook form – which is very typical for romance – and have sold through on the advances Kensington gave me. The print sales, however, weren’t as good as they wanted. What did they want? I don’t know. These decisions are rarely made clear to the authors. Instead, what they do – and did with THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE – is pass on the “option book,” which is the next book I’m contractually obligated to offer them.
Once they passed on SHIFT, which came as no surprise to me for a number of reasons – frankly, I was luckier than most to go that long as many authors get two books and that’s it – I had the freedom to self-publish the rest of the series. That’s pretty huge, by the way. Back in the Bad Old Days, I would not have had this option. The infrastructure to self-publish simply wasn’t there. You know how some of your favorite series suddenly seemed to just… stop? 95% of the time, that’s the reason why. (The other 5% being author going off the edge, burning out, or dying, pretty much in that order.)
So, I’m planning to do this book and at least one more. After that… it depends! I’ll have to see where the overall arc is and how you all are with it. I’ll have to make my own sales decision. For the time being, I’m *thrilled* that this cover continues the look of the series in grand style. In additional exciting news, my editor for the first five books is freelancing, so Peter Senftleben will be editing these also! I’m also fortunate to have my same production editor, Rebecca Cremonese, who makes sure all of my books are as perfect as my stubborn nature allows.
I’m shooting for August 15 release date on this. Amazon only allows a 90-day lead on setting a pre-order date, so by mid-May, when we can actually DO it, I’ll know for sure that I can commit.
This is the initial blurb. It will change as, you know, I write the actual story. If you want to learn something about how my process does (and doesn’t!) work, save this and compare it to the final. Could be entertaining!
Free from the hand of a tyrant, the Twelve Kingdoms have thrown all that touch them into chaos. New allies appear–and enemies encroach–from all sides. To survive, they must adapt to this new reality without a moment of doubt…
Growing up in a country where magic was common as dust, Zynda never had to worry about her enchantments upsetting the balance of nature. But the land beyond the borders of the thirteenth kingdom calls to her. It may be foreign and ugly, but the strangeness is laced with an excitement she has never known. Outside her homeland, Zynda’s shapeshifting and sorcery are a potent advantage to nations grasping for dominance–and the thrill of power lures her even as she recognizes the threat she poses to these magic-buffeted realms.
A ruthless enemy stalks them, promising destruction if she does not fight with all her strength–but if she upsets the equilibrium of the land, all will pay, the common people most of all. And a man of this outside world fascinates her, a mossback with no scrap of magic in him. He knows nothing of the fears and temptations pulling at her. But in his steady embrace she learns she must choose well–for the consequences may reach farther than she ever imagined…
I got this a while back and saved it for you all. Fabulous reader Julie Fine texted it to me upon receipt of an ARC of THE EDGE OF THE BLADE. I think she was pleased. 🙂
I’ve been getting bits here and there about EDGE, which releases in a month on December 27, so I’ll start sharing them. The most important bit of info, it’s on Net Galley now!
Booklist gave it a lovely review:
Kennedy (Pages of the Mind, 2016) continues the Uncharted Realms series with Jepp, a member of the queen’s guard more comfortable on a mission than in society, being named as an ambassador. Luckily, Jepp has Prince Kral, once her lover, to help her along. Jepp’s view of how women are to behave clashes with the norms of the Dasnaria hierarchy. She chafes under Dasnarian restrictions until she is summarily banished from court. She just wants to sleep with whomever she wants, whenever she wants. And she wants Kral—again. That’s not too much to ask, is it? Despite her ejection and reluctance to embrace her new role, Jepp ultimately takes to it in her own way, earning respect from the royal family. Fantasy adventure, snarky dialogue, and hot sex help Jepp find her way back to her beloved queen for her next assignment. Readers new to Kennedy’s series will do well to read it from the beginning, though this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone.
— Ilene Lefkowitz
In other news, if you hadn’t heard, two novellas originally only available in collections are now out as stand-alone buys! EXACT WARM UNHOLY, which originally appeared in THE DEVIL’S DOORBELL anthology, is a contemporary erotic romance, with characters unrelated to any of my other series. Kristen Ashley really liked it, saying on her Goodreads blog:
And I was again stunned. Stunned by the originality of the concept of this story. Stunned by the emotions it made me experience in such a short expanse of time. Stunned by the beauty of the romance in it that ran parallel to the overwhelming sadness throughout.
The other, THE CROWN OF THE QUEEN, is a novella set in the world of The Twelve Kingdoms, involving most of the main characters from the initial trilogy and setting up the story that starts up in The Uncharted Realms.
Also, a bit of exciting news I think I haven’t yet mentioned elsewhere, I’ll be bundling the first three Sorcerous Moons books into a print volume, using the fabulous cover for THE TIDES OF BÁRA. Will have a release date on that soon! Maybe a good holiday gift! *nods* *flutters lashes*
It’s apropos timing for me – and I thought I’d share here, too – because just this week I released a novella that’s essentially one big deleted scene.
And, really – I almost never do this. I save pretty much everything I cut from manuscripts, which typically isn’t much. The revision process for me almost always consists of adding, not deleting. However, I’m usually of the opinion that I cut them for a reason and they don’t need to ever see the light of day.
This novella, The Crown of the Queen, is with Grace Draven’s The Undying King in our brand new duology FOR CROWN AND KINGDOM. And it’s obviously seeing the light of day in a big way.
See, what happened was that I wrote THE PAGES OF THE MIND, which is technically book one in The Uncharted Realms, but chronologically follows book three in The Twelve Kingdoms, THE TALON OF THE HAWK. The way my story brain works, and because I moved to a new point of view (POV), I picked up the tale with the heroine of the new book, Dafne, who’d been left behind in Annfwn for safety and wasn’t there for the climax of the ultimate events in TALON. This was important to me for a number of reasons. One is that it’s key to Dafne’s character – and her journey – that she’s always sidelined. She’s been forever on the fringes of everyone else’s adventures. So, she needed to start from that place. Another reason is that she discovers things in the Annfwn library that become relevant much later.
There was one huge problem with this – by the time I finished THE PAGES OF THE MIND, it was 1) too long, and 2) took way too long to get to the heart of the story. My editor asked me to decapitate the book (his actual words), which meant cutting about 17,000 words. I wasn’t surprised, as I’d worried the story would be too top-heavy, but I also felt that part of the story formed a critical bridge and needed to be told. My editor, frankly relieved that I didn’t have a fit over the “suggestion,” suggested that I self-publish the story as a novella.
Serendipitously enough, Grace Draven had asked me to do a duology with her around the same time, so woo hoo!! I revised and expanded Dafne’s interim story to 26K and called it THE CROWN OF THE QUEEN. Amusingly, Grace also expanded her story considerably and it’s as lovely as all of her work.
Two epic tales of Fantasy romance from Jeffe Kennedy and Grace Draven.
FOR CROWN AND KINGDOM
The Crown of the Queen: a novella of the Twelve Kingdoms
It’s been a lifetime since librarian Dafne Mailloux saw the coronation of the tyrant who destroyed her family. She did her part to pull him off the High Throne. But his daughter, the would-be Queen, and her sisters must still tame their conquest. If her victory is to last, Dafne must forge peace with the subtle, ruthless methods of a diplomat—and the worst memories of her life . . .
The Undying King
The stories are told in whispers, even after so long: of a man whose fair rule soured when he attained eternal youth. Imprisoned by a sorceress wife in a city out of time and place, he has passed into legend. Few believe in him, and fewer would set their hopes on his mercy. But Imogen has no choice. To break the curse that’s isolated her since birth, she’ll find the Undying King—and answer his secrets with her own…