I’m over at Word Whores today, discussing how I planned my Covenant of Thorns and Twelve Kingdoms trilogies.
If you were anywhere near the Internet yesterday, you will have already heard my squeals of shock and astonishment. Totally out of the blue, the amazing gals at RT Book Reviews tweeted me that The Mark of the Tala was chosen for the June Seal of Excellence. They describe it like this:
Each month the RT editors select one book that is not only compelling, but pushes the boundaries of genre fiction. This book stands out from all the others reviewed that month, in the magazine issue and on the website. June 2014’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Jeffe Kennedy’s fantasy romance, The Mark of the Tala.
I’m not sure how many books they review each month in magazine and on the website, but it must be hundreds. You can see the list of past selections here. Sharing this honor with those books and authors? Just UNREAL. Seeing my book listed alongside ones like Written in Red, The Hunger Games Trilogy and Gone Girl (also a June selection!) is powerfully moving.
They also say this about their selections:
The RT Seal of Excellence is awarded to the one title each month that stands out from all the rest. The RT staff nominates contenders which the RT editors then read and discuss at length. Sometimes a book is propelled to the top of the list by an innovative twist on a familiar story, or a villain that leaves readers chilled to the bone. In other instances the setting or the author’s writing style has set the story apart. But every title that wins the RT Seal of Excellence is our pick for the best read of the month.
I think that’s the best part of all. For those of you who’ve been following this blog lo these five years (can you believe that??), then you know I struggled for a long time to find a home for my particular blend of fantasy and romance. At one point, an agent I was pitching to at a national convention put me in tears when she icily told me my books fell in the cracks between genres. She was particularly cruel, the worst of them by far – which led to my writer friends referring to me as the Crack Ho ever since – but everyone had a similar refrain. No place in the market for my kind of thing.
Yes, the market has changed in these last five years and there’s more room for different and more interest in permutations on fantasy – so I’m dead lucky there. Some wonderful people have taken chances on my work and that’s been huge. Carina Press bought into my Covenant of Thorns trilogy when no one else would and those books led directly to my Twelve Kingdoms books being picked up.
So, to have this book be celebrated for standing out, for pushing genre boundaries – incredible validating.
I feel as if I’ve been fished out of the cracks.
I’m over at Here Be Magic today, talking about the roles men play in my Twelve Kingdoms trilogy.
Full summer is here with all that brings – warm evenings outside, time spent in the garden or working on the patio. I’m getting a nice tan. And lots of plans to do fun things all the way past Labor Day in September. That always seems to be the way of it, looking ahead to the end already. Human nature, perhaps?
My mom and I were talking yesterday about a friend of hers with cancer, which she calls “the bad stuff.” She’s an irrepressibly cheerful person who refuses to dwell on the fact that the bad stuff has come back and her prospects are dim. My mom said that, when she feels blue, she reminds herself that she’s not facing that. I do the same thing, to focus on the moment, to enjoy my life so that shadows of future endings don’t taint what I have now.
But looking forward to future fun builds anticipation, too. Our end-of-summer plans involve celebrating my birthday, along with my aunt’s and stepdad’s. My late summer birthday has always been a bittersweet event for me. On the one hand, I love my birthday and look forward to it. Birthdays are a big deal in my family (obviously) and are celebrated with panache. As a Leo girl, I soak up my moment in the sun, unabashedly savoring the gifts and good wishes, all the petting, eating and drinking. But my birthday has also always meant that summer is coming to a close and that school would start again, usually within a few days. The two have been entwined in my head from my earliest days – the indulgence of my birthday with the ending of another summer.
I’m at another ending right now. I’ve hit 120,000 words on The Talon of the Hawk, book 3 in my Twelve Kingdoms trilogy. By tomorrow, it should be done. It’s a big ending, because it ties up not only this heroine’s story, but that of my other two heroines also. I’ve talked about how I’m past deadline and going long on this book. What that’s done is made me very focused on finishing. I’ve been pushing hard towards this goal and looking forward to completing this project.
But then… it will be over.
I’ll miss living in this heroine’s head, miss the world of The Twelve Kingdoms. For my readers, the adventure has just started – they’re reading book 1 and anticipating book 2. It’s a funny place to be. I have all the rewards of finishing – which are considerable – but also that twisted up bittersweet nostalgia that summer is drawing to a close.
All in all, good problems to have.
I know I’ve been all The Mark of the Tala lately but, amazingly enough, Going Under comes out only a month from now! Where does the time go???
Going Under marks the first full-length erotic romance I’ve written and I *loved* doing it. There will be two more in the Falling Under series, with the next out in January.
Here’s the blurb on it:
Knowing all too well the damage online trolls can inflict, game designer Emily Bartwell takes privacy seriously. Living in solitude and working remotely under a male alias gives her a sense of security. The sexy writer renting the house next door ignites desires she’d forgotten she had, and when he invites her to play games of a very different sort, Em is ready and willing. Even if it means breaking all her own rules to abide by his.
Undercover tech reporter Fox Mullins is so close to the biggest scoop of his career: finding the elusive programmer Phoenix. An increasingly erotic adventure with his reserved but passionate new neighbor is the ideal way to heat up the chilly Pacific Northwest nights as he tracks the brilliant gamer.
At first Fox is happy to help Em explore her newly awakened kinky side, no holds barred, no strings attached. But as they push the limits of intimacy, both physical and emotional, Fox discovers he’s not the only one keeping secrets. And revealing hers may mean betraying the one woman who embodies everything he desires.
And it already got a review in Publisher’s Weekly! (The link may be easier to read than the image, alas.
I really love the bit about “talent for organic relationship-building” because that’s so important to me. The stuff about secondary characters and showing more of the gaming world? Absolutely not what I wanted to do with this story, so I’m good there.
For those looking for news on the next Twelve Kingdoms books, I’m nearly done writing book 3, Ursula’s book, The Talon of the Hawk. It’s going to be a long one – fair warning. Probably a quarter again as long as Mark and The Tears of the Rose, Amelia’s book. I think you all will be pleased.
Also, I’m teaching an online workshop starting next Monday on Walking the Consent Line – how to deal with issues of dubious and questionable consent in erotic literature.
Thank you all for the release day love yesterday – you made it a great day!
It’s Release Day! It’s Release Day! It’s Release Day!
There are so many things to see and do today, it’s a bit overwhelming.
The Bookpushers are winding up the Seven-Day Giveaway (and vacation tour of the Twelve Kingdoms) with the Grand Prize today! They’ve also threatened to post a review later…
The delightful gals over at A Reader Lives a Thousand Lives have a special Book Nerd interview up with me.
Janet Webb at Heroes and Heartbreakers did this amazing First Look on Friday.
Tomorrow, Bookworks will host a double launch party for me and Darynda Jones! There’s a Facebook Events Page or you can check out the store website or this article in the Albuquerque Journal. (Yes – they assumed I’m a guy. *sigh*)
Now – where’s the cake???
This is the awesome crystal ball/snow globe I got at the Kensington Books party at the RT Booklovers Convention. On the flip side is the cover for The Tears of the Rose. It’s one of the best party favors EVER.
If you want to see some photos from the party, Aloha On My Mind posted some very fun ones. Yes, I wore my sash from the Mardis Gras party – what??
Release day for The Mark of the Tala is already on Tuesday! So I’m kind of everywhere,
The lovely Veronica Scott interviewed me over at the USA Today Sci-Fi Encounters blog. Reading Between the Wines also interviewed me and is hosting a giveaway. And we’re up to Day 5 of The Bookpushers Seven-Day Countdown and Giveaway. We’ve been doing the Vacation Guide to the Twelve Kingdoms, which has been very fun.
Finally, I’m over at Here Be Magic, talking about Fairytale Tropes and how we love to explore and bend them.
I posted this to the feeds yesterday, but had to share here, too. Jackson loves to play in the bathroom with me in the morning while I get ready. It’s all part of his joyful lead-up to breakfast, his equivalent of the Snoopy supper dance. The game evolves daily, usually involving stalker me from behind the shower curtain, bunching up the throw rug and mutilating Q-tips. Sometimes he hides behind the curtain, snags the Q-tips with a sneaky paw, and drags them to their doom.
Their doom being to be soggily swept down the drain when I shower.
Lately he’s figured out that he can jump up on the towel and bring it down on top of him, making an impromptu blanket fort, from which to stalk me and the Q-tips.
I imagine you can detect the theme here.
Yesterday, the towel-jumping morphed into a full leap onto the towel rack. It’s a narrow bar, mind you, but he managed to drape himself there nevertheless. The best part, I think, is that the picture above and to the right of him is a tuxedo cat, too. Okay, it’s an anthropomorphic tuxedo cat, getting off the trolley in New Orleans with a bag of Krauss Donuts. A Streetcat Named Desire is the title.
I may be a bit giddily full of Friday today…
So, Goodreads has been morphing a bit lately. No surprise there with their acquisition by Amazon. Thus far it’s been fairly gentle (since the wholesale removal of some reviewers, that is). Recently Goodreads has started nudging me as an author – mostly via these monthly emailed “author newsletters.” Overall I like the tone and the suggestions seem reasonable. After all, I like Goodreads. I enjoy tracking my books there and seeing what other people are reading. Goodreads readers and reviewers have embraced my books and done a great deal to chat them up. Much more so than on, say, Amazon.
One thing that I hear people like on Goodreads is book giveaways. I’ve even entered them myself – and gotten the books! In fact, I recently discovered (no one told me, alas) that my publisher set up a giveaway for THE MARK OF THE TALA, which goes through April 30. When I looked just now to grab the link, 359 people had signed up! Pretty cool, I think.
And food for thought.
Yesterday I got the cover concept for GOING UNDER, the first book in FALLING UNDER, my new series of full-length erotic romances. And Goodreads, in the March Author Newsletter, had suggested ideas for cover reveals on their site. I spent a bit of time reading up, followed their instructions and set up my Cover Reveal Event.
Then I balked.
Because the next step is to invite people. The newsletter even suggested that I add a bribe (they didn’t call it that – I think they used the word “incentive”) that the first 100 people to add it to their “To Read” shelf will get a special excerpt or some such.
Now, I receive Goodreads invites pretty regularly. Usually from people I don’t know and don’t care about. Sometimes people I’m not even friends with, which I can’t figure out. I delete them all. In fact, I kind of hate getting those invites. And now they want me to send them? Ugh!
I asked this question on Twitter and Facebook, how people feel about getting these invites. The writers say they get a lot and auto-delete – my tribe, clearly – but other folks suggested that maybe readers like it better.
So, I’m torn. What do you all think?
First off, I posted this to the website, and waxed breathless about it on Twitter and so forth, but I got all wrapped up in posting the NestPitch stuff and never mentioned it on ye old blogge here. My upcoming release, The Mark of the Tala, first in my Twelve Kingdoms trilogy, got the best possible review from RT Book Reviews! You can’t read it online for another two months, unless you’re a subscriber, but this is what it says:
“This magnificent fairy tale will captivate you from the beginning to end with a richly detailed fantasy world full of shapeshifters, magic and an exciting romance! Andi isn’t your ordinary must-have-a-prince-to-save-me type of princess. She begins as the invisible middle sister, not a great beauty like Amelia, nor a warrior like Ursula – instead Andi is content to remain a wallflower, until she meets Rayfe and her entire world is turned upside down. She makes wise choices, all to save her people from the harsh realities of battle, and even when faced with horrible options, her course is one of truth, loyalty and love. Rayfe is dark and intense, keeping his feelings close to the chest, but trusts Andi to make the right decisions. They are a remarkable pair, one who celebrate individuality with a partnership that will last for a lifetime.”
– RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars TOP PICK!
4.5 Stars is their top rating, so I’m over the moon. The story threads this reviewer picked out are exactly what I wanted this book to show. The book comes out May 27 (so soon!), but I’ll have copies to sell and give away at the RT Booklovers Convention, which starts May 14. It takes place in fabulous New Orleans this year, so this gathering which is already essentially one big week-long pary will be extra festive. I’m particularly thrilled to be sharing a house in the French Quarter with some writer and book blogger friends.
On one of my author loops last night, someone asked about dress code and how to know what to wear. Seeing as how this is my 5th RT Convention, I offered some advice. Then I thought, I should just post it here, too. Because there is kind of a trick to it, which isn’t always clear to the uninitiated.
Each evening there’s a big party that you can find on the agenda. If you click on the links on the website, you get more details. For example, Thursday night is the Samhain Saints and Sinners party and it says:
Calling all angels and devils! Samhain Publishing invites you to join us Thursday evening for a wicked good time. Sweet and sinful eats. Delightfully dangerous beats. Amazing author treats! Come dance the night away with our Samhain Authors — whether you wear halos or horns, you’ll be sure to find some kindred spirits!
The translation here is that people will come in costume as angels or devils. You don’t HAVE to – and lots won’t – but that’s your cue. Heather Graham’s party used to be called the Vampire Ball or the Fairy Ball (they’ve kind of morphed over the years) and still says “Calling all vampires, vixens, queens and kings … royal courts of light . . . and darkness!” So that gives you a costume cue, should you choose to accept it. Vampires AND fairies is how I read that one.
For the Harlequin Dance Party, they say “a spectacular dance party and an evening of glamour” which means dress up and be sparkly.
For the rest of the time, it’s generally business casual. A lot of people dress up – it can be a big fashion show – and a lot of people don’t. Many authors dress in ways that reflect their book themes. I tend to stick with my own personal style. I often see the advice to wear comfortable shoes, and for walking around the French Quarter and the Riverwalk, I’d definitely agree. However, this is a great opportunity to show off your fabulous heels too! You know I’ll be wearing mine. 🙂