The Mark of the Tala: The Musical

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is “Your book as a musical: which book would you choose to have made into a musical and which composer/lyricist/songwriter would you have score it?” Come on over for more.

When Writers Block Means to Dig Deeper

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: “The most difficult scene you ever wrote and why.”

I’m guessing that’s why was it difficult, not why we wrote it. Though I do think the why we wrote the scene in the first place is relevant.

There’s a school of thought among writers and writerly-advice givers that if a story becomes difficult – if the writer hits a block and grinds to a stop – then that’s an indicator of Something Gone Wrong. I see this advice a lot. Writers will say – often in response to questions about how they handle Writer’s Block – “When I hit a block, I know I’ve done something wrong, taken a wrong turn somewhere, so I go back and rework the plot.”

You all have heard a version of this, right?

Makes me cringe every time. I’ll tell you why. But you have to go to the SFF Seven to find out. 

Advice for Introductions at Conferences

Spring is here, which means the start of conference season!

Well, if we *get* to have a conference season this year. Hopefully COVID-19 won’t ruin all of our plans. The SFWA Board met yesterday and we’re planning to go ahead with Nebula Conference at the end of May. We’ve talked with the hotel and put contingency plans in place, but for now we’re still on.

One thing that’s been on my mind to mention for a while is introductions at conferences. People talk about this from time to time, but I think it’s always worth revisiting. Here’s a little story I want to tell you, to explain why this topic is evergreen.

Not long ago, I was on a call with a number of people. One of them was new to the group. We’ll call her Sally. I said, “Hi, Sally! Have we met before?”

She said, “Yes, Jeffe. Like four times.”

Of course I felt bad about that. And I remembered her after that! But how do I remember her? As the person who called me out. My feeling shitty about not remembering her is now the feeling I most strongly associate with Sally.

Introductions are not an easy thing to navigate. And I freely cop to this failing of mine. Yes, it’s a failing, and I’m not getting better as I get older. I’m terrible at recognizing faces. I’m pretty good at retaining names – I’m primarily an auditory learner – and I’m likely to remember obscure facts you tell me about yourself, but I might not put your name to your face. I’m the person at the table who has no idea what the server looks like. I once mixed up Matt Dillon/Matt Damon & Ben Stiller/Ben Affleck, because Something About Mary and Good Will Hunting came out around the same time. Never mind that these people look nothing alike, nor are the movies anything alike – but look at the cadence of the names and titles.

This is how my brain files stuff. I’d say it’s annoying, except that overall it’s a pretty good filing system. I can recall a lot of information and my brain has served me well all my life. I’m a great test-taker. I’m not so great at remembering faces, or if I’ve met someone.

That’s the other thing. I meet a lot of people, especially at conferences. I hit overload pretty quickly, too, often after the first day. I can be a gregarious person, but I’m functionally an introvert. I live in the country where it’s quiet, with dirt roads and no street lights. I can go days never seeing another live person besides my husband. We don’t have many visitors, besides the birds, coyotes and bobcats – and I can’t really tell them apart either.

I know I don’t remember people well, and I’m not proud of it. But I also loathe leaving people unacknowledged. So, I err on the side of reintroducing myself. I’ll usually give my name, and ask if we’ve met before. Most people are super gracious about it if we have. What I love is if they offer me context. Something like, “Yes, we met last year at Nebula Conference and were on the burnout panel together.” Then I’ll be all “Oh, right! And you talked about how you went through x, y, z.” I just need that contextual trigger.

You know how I remember them after that? With pleasure. And I’m more likely to retain that identifier and remember them next time.

One year, when my Twelve Kingdoms series was first taking off, I went to a conference and was introducing myself, as I always do. Only that year, for the first time, when I said, “Hi, I’m Jeffe Kennedy,” the other person said, “Oh, I know.” People, this happened not once, not twice, but at least three times. Maybe more. It was a total conversation killer. I don’t know if they meant it flatteringly – or if they’d heard unkind gossip. But it was most unsettling. I can tell you this, too – some of the most famous authors I’ve met have introduced themselves. I think that route is far better than expecting everyone to Know Who You Are.

So, what’s the advice?

  1. Introduce yourself to everyone you’re not sure you know.
  2. Don’t be shamed if someone says you’ve already met.
  3. Feel free to look at name tags. That’s why we wear them.
  4. Don’t be shamed if someone calls you out for looking at their name tag.
  5. If someone you’ve met before doesn’t remember you, don’t be offended. Don’t call them out. Be gracious. Maybe offer a helpful bit of context for when you met before.
  6. If they still don’t remember you, be cool about it, because this is your opportunity to create an impression with them. Don’t make it a shitty one.

 

Remember: we go to conferences to meet each other and celebrate our shared profession. It can be awesome.

 

 

NEW RELEASE: THE FATE OF THE TALA

THE FATE OF THE TALA is out in the world!! You can order it on all the retailers. If you preordered (or still want to order!) a signed print copy, I’ll be sending those out by February 14. (I should have them by February 13, so it could happen!) A nice Valentine for us all. Once I send those, I’ll get the print versions uploaded on the retailers, too.

Also, as a super fun thing – if you subscribe to Pikko’s House Book Lovers Box this month, a limited number of subscribers will get the first book that started it all, THE MARK OF THE TALA, for free!!

 

 

The exciting conclusion of the story begun in The Mark of the Tala

An Uneasy Marriage,

An Unholy Alliance.

The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, conquered her inner demons to become the high queen. The youngest, and most beautiful outlived her Prince Charming and found a strength beyond surface loveliness.

And the other one, Andi? The introverted, awkward middle princess is now the Sorceress Queen, Andromeda—and she stands at the precipice of a devastating war.

As the undead powers of Deyrr gather their forces, their High Priestess focuses on Andi, undermining her at every turn. At the magical barrier that protects the Thirteen Kingdoms from annihilation, the massive Dasnarian navy assembles, ready to pounce the moment Andi’s strength fails. And, though her sisters and friends gather around her, Andi finds that her husband, Rayfe, plagued with fears over her pregnancy, has withdrawn, growing ever more distant.

Fighting battles on too many fronts, Andi can’t afford to weaken, as she’s all that stands between all that’s good in the world and purest evil.

For Andi, the time to grow into her true power has come. . .

 

NEW RELEASE: THE FATE OF THE TALA

THE FATE OF THE TALA is out in the world!! You can order it on all the retailers. If you preordered (or still want to order!) a signed print copy, I’ll be sending those out by February 14. (I should have them by February 13, so it could happen!) A nice Valentine for us all. Once I send those, I’ll get the print versions uploaded on the retailers, too.

Also, as a super fun thing – if you subscribe to Pikko’s House Book Lovers Box this month, a limited number of subscribers will get the first book that started it all, THE MARK OF THE TALA, for free!!

 

 

The exciting conclusion of the story begun in The Mark of the Tala

An Uneasy Marriage,

An Unholy Alliance.

The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, conquered her inner demons to become the high queen. The youngest, and most beautiful outlived her Prince Charming and found a strength beyond surface loveliness.

And the other one, Andi? The introverted, awkward middle princess is now the Sorceress Queen, Andromeda—and she stands at the precipice of a devastating war.

As the undead powers of Deyrr gather their forces, their High Priestess focuses on Andi, undermining her at every turn. At the magical barrier that protects the Thirteen Kingdoms from annihilation, the massive Dasnarian navy assembles, ready to pounce the moment Andi’s strength fails. And, though her sisters and friends gather around her, Andi finds that her husband, Rayfe, plagued with fears over her pregnancy, has withdrawn, growing ever more distant.

Fighting battles on too many fronts, Andi can’t afford to weaken, as she’s all that stands between all that’s good in the world and purest evil.

For Andi, the time to grow into her true power has come. . .

 

 

Writing Through the Cycle of Despair

Happy Groundhog Day! In celebration of this (dubious) holiday, we here at the SFF Seven will be discussing that THING we find ourselves doing over and over in our books. If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is.

Just last weekend I did a video chat with an author friend, because I asked for her help with some brainstorming. We also chatted about our current projects and deadlines. Now, she’s had multiple books on the NYT Bestseller list and commands enviable advances. She has a large and passionate fandom. But she was at the phase of her current book where she doubted *everything* about it.

I said, “the phase where you’re certain the book is not only TERRIBLE, but the one that will destroy your career forever?”

And she said, “YES!”

This is an inevitable Groundhog Day cycle for me. Come on over to find out more – and how I get through it. Also for news on THE FATE OF THE TALA!

Jeffe’s Made-Up Holiday

This week at the SFF Seven we ask “Have you ever invented a holiday for your books – or if not, what holiday would you give your characters?” It happens I have invented a holiday – a midwinter one, even- and I wrote a novella around it. Come on over for more – and to read a bit!

 

 

 

Now Available in Print!

Because you asked! The four Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms shorts and novellas that weren’t available in print are now combined into two print volumes! The prequel short story, NEGOTIATION, can be found with THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, and the shorter novella, THE CROWN OF THE QUEEN, is in a volume with HEART’S BLOOD. Just go to the book detail pages for THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN and HEART’S BLOOD, to find those print copy purchase links. If you order the physical copies direct from me, I’ll sign and even personalize them! Happy reading!

Cover Reveal! THE FIERY CROWN

The cover of THE FIERY CROWN is being revealed at Tor.com today! This is book two in my Forgotten Empires trilogy – out May 26, 2020 – following THE ORCHID THRONE, which is out now.

Here’s an article about the book launch signing. (I kind of love that Kamala Harris is smiling over my shoulder like a beaming guardian angel of goodness.)

There have been so many lovely reviews and wonderful feedback for THE ORCHID THRONE that these last couple of weeks have been an E-ticket Cinderella Ride. (I know the Disneyland reference is dated, but Julie Brown will never go out of style. I’ll plant a flag on that hill.) I particularly love this review on a BookBub recommendation.

If you’ve been missing Rhysand and Feyre, the Night Court, and the realm of Fae, The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy is for you! To say I loved this book is an understatement. I devoured it! This book has something for everyone and is a must-read for fantasy fans. Following the story of two very different people, The Orchid Throne sets up the world of the Forgotten Empires, hooking the readers with its lush fantasy, political intrigue, and steamy romance.

As a fan of Rhys and Feyre, myself, I totally preened over this!

Otherwise, I’m deep into working on THE FATE OF THE TALA. Those of you who listen to my First Cup of Coffee podcast will know that I’m keeping the protagonist of this one a secret, which means I haven’t been posting snippets as I’d like to. But I have the (incredibly gorgeous and powerful) cover in hand, and we’ll do a reveal sometime in the first week of November. Then ALLLLLL will be revealed! Because of course, in the grand tradition of The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms, the protagonist is on the cover. I hope to have the book out by Thanksgiving, so we’ll see!

And for those of you who’ve been asking… yes, Jenna/Ivariel will make an appearance. 🙂