Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Historical Research and World Building, By Kathryne Kennedy

It often surprises me how my historical research will add to or completely jell with the fantasy aspects of my novels. In THE ELVEN LORDS series, the stories are based in the eighteenth century, so I spent over a month researching the Georgian era, including the political environment, with special emphasis on daily life and--since my books are first and foremost romances--the clothing and housing of the aristocracy.
                       
When I read that white wigs were prevalent in the era, it made perfect sense that the true reasons for wearing the wigs were to imitate the ivory-haired elven lords of my fantasy world. All I needed to do was to add a crushed silver stone to the wigs, which the aristocracy uses to imitate the silver sparkle of my lords. For my readers to identify with the history of the era, I felt that it was important to keep a king on the throne, but since the elven broke through the barrier between worlds and conquered England, dividing it into seven sovereignties that each ruled, I couldn’t be sure of the role he would play.


Then I read that the true power behind the throne at that time lay with Sir Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister of England. So, with an apology to King George, I made him nothing more than a trophy for the elven lords to wage their wars--wars that used humans as chess pieces in games of entertainment similar to the Roman gladiatorial games, but on a much broader scale. Sir Robert (and following Prime Ministers) became the leaders of the Rebellion, the underground movement of humans and half-elven who fight for England’s freedom and the restoration of their king to true power. As with actual history, the court set the precedence for clothing and style, but since the king of my fantasy world held influence only in that limited aspect, it became an obsession with him and his court.


My seven mad elven lords each had possession of a scepter, and the master of a particular power. As I researched the landscape and the development of England’s resources, I used that knowledge to divide the sovereignties. Since Bath and its famous healing waters were located in the southwest, it fell naturally into place that the elven lord Breden, master of the blue scepter of sea and sky, controlled that area, becoming the sovereignty of Dewhame, revealed in the novel THE LADY OF THE STORM. South central England, where London is located, is a politically important part of England and became Firehame, the sovereignty of Lord Mor'ded and his black scepter over the mastery of fire, a powerful realm that is explored in THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER. Agricultural eastern England became Verdanthame, with Mi'cal ruling with the green scepter of forest and plant. Northeastern England, extending upward into York and known for its roadways, became the sovereignty of Terrahame, and the elven lady Annanor and her brown scepter of earth. North central England, dominated by mining and hilly country, became the sovereignty of Bladehame and the silver scepter of Lan'dor, who masters metal. The northwest became Stonehame, where the elven lady La'laylia called up quartz from the depths to enchant with her violet scepter. And the west became Dreamhame, butting up against the craggy mountains of Wales, the sovereignty of Roden of the golden scepter, with his spells of glamour and illusion, fully revealed in the novel THE LORD OF ILLUSION.


Arranged marriages were common in the era, often devised for political gain, and it fell naturally into place that the elven lords would use them to their own advantage. My hero in THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER, General Dominic Raikes, is a half-breed who has inherited his father’s magical gift of fire, and because of it, is a General of Firehame’s army. My heroine, Lady Cassandra Brydges, has the bloodlines to produce a new champion for the elven lord’s war games…and is secretly trained as an assassin by the Rebellion.


In my novelette, The ASSASSIN’S LOVER, we get a glimpse of the sovereignty of Stonehame, and the capital city that glows with jewel-fire even in starlight. We meet a lady of that city, Minerva Overon, whose home falls within the shadow of Stonehame Palace, which is crafted by the elven lady from one large piece of amethyst. But my heroine lives in one of the few mansions created of black jet, which aids the young assassin (another of history’s ruthless characters) sent to kill her…although he gets more than he bargained for.

And so did I, as I researched eighteen-century England, and found some surprising developments for my stories along the way.

My Magical Best,
Kathryne
http://www.KathryneKennedy.com 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Every Author has Something Unique to Say, By Kathryne Kennedy


I have been clearing out some room by reading my husband’s books—even those that involve battles and political intrigue, which aren’t my usual cup of tea, but which my DH adores. If I don’t do this periodically, my house would be covered in books…literally. I only keep those books that I plan to read over and over again. But all books are treasures, of course, so I don’t throw any of them away: they go into a box to donate to my local library. And regardless of the genre, a book won’t leave my home until I have a chance to read it.

So in the last few months I have read over a dozen fantasy and science fiction books, most of them with just a little romance tossed in as a minor subplot (which is one reason why I started writing fantasy romance). Often, there’s lots of agony, blood, guts and the political intrigue, and I focus on the romance more in my head than what’s written on the page. Regardless, I find most of the books fantastic, and many just darn good. I have yet to find a book that I haven’t learned something from, or isn’t praise-worthy in some way.

And so I came across a book of the type of fantasy I love. (Her Majesty’s Wizard by Christopher Stasheff) A hero from our modern world travels back in time and can do magic. He rescues a princess, and is attracted to her. He meets a dragon who doesn’t fit in with his own kind, and they become friends. They meet a dark enchantress, who lures men into her castle for pleasures of the flesh, and our hero defeats her magic, and she loses her powers…and is taken to a priest to be shriven. And said priest turns out to be a werewolf, and has passions of the human flesh, so he has evil in his soul.

And then it starts to get all about religion, as our hero has a long dream about hell and the devil and the evil in his own heart. He must overcome this evil, overcome his ‘lust’ for the princess. Now, my books are all about lust, and how it leads to love. So this black and white thinking now has me puzzled. So I read the bio in the back of the book.

The author realized that many fantasies are medieval, and in medieval times, people saw God in everything—and the devil waiting to pounce at the first hint of sin. And so he set about writing a ‘realistic’ fantasy. Hence, writing a story that delved into the author’s own questions about faith.

This was the author’s own quest, in a way. No one else could have written this book quite the way he did. And although the hero does ask the princess to marry him in the end, it’s in a rather (unique) way. Sort of like an argument between the two of them.
                   
My point is, no matter how many thousands of books are printed each year, no matter that they carry similar concepts (for fantasy, we usually have dragons, trolls, and the ultimate evil are demons), every author tells their story in a different way, from their own perspective. With perhaps similar themes, but never exactly the same.

It doesn’t matter whether critics, awards, or bestselling status lauds a book. Each is a work of art, unique in the hand of the author who writes his story with broad strokes of a brush. And in my humble opinion, there is no book that is published that doesn’t deserve the honor of that praise.

My Magical Best,
Kathryne
http://www.KathryneKennedy.com

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

To all my Readers, Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! From Kathryne Kennedy

In a couple of days, we can stuff ourselves and not feel guilty. Only happens once a year, so I hope you all enjoy. I am especially grateful to my dedicated readers who have let me know how much they loved THE ASSASSIN'S LOVER. Now that some family situations have been resolved, I hope to get back to writing shortly. I have brainstormed the story in THE ELVEN LORDS series about the theft of the lavender scepter, which takes place in Stonehame, the same geographical area in England within THE ASSASSIN'S LOVER. This is Samson's and Jocelyn's love story, which also has a great deal to do with the dragon, Midaz, and the dominatrix elven lady, La'laylia. I just recently received the inspiration for her character, and why she is as cruel to her subjects as she is to her lovers, and although Samson has escaped the dire 'pleasures' of her bed, his mental scars will be harder to heal than his physical ones. But this is a story of redemption, a realization of the true meaning of love, as always. When I have the first three chapters written, and the cover design, I will then post it for pre-order. I will announce it here and have the pre-order links on my website, so stay tuned!
Again, Happy Thanksgiving!
My Magical Best,
Kathryne

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Contest Alert!

Chance to win a $25 Amazon card! Just sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win - www.booksbytina.com. If you already signed up you are still eligible. You can receive an extra chance to win by "Liking" my Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/authorTinaMcCright and leaving me a comment letting me know you did so.

A random drawing will be held on December 19th. The gift card will be delivered by email.

Good luck!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Introducing Euphoria Lane



How far will one person go to stop the HOA?
Andi Stevenson knew her life would never be same after purchasing her new condo on Euphoria Lane. On day one, she finds the body of the Homeowners Association president. Day two, she discovers the property manager is her former fiancé. Day three, the new president begins his campaign of violation letters to force her to move. Day four, her sister, the owner of a detective agency, needs her help with the investigation of the murder. And day five, a full scale neighborhood war!

Available on Amazon.

Website
http://www.BooksByTina.com

Facebook Author Page
http://www.authorTinaMcCright

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Booklist names TWO of Kathryne Kennedy's books as Best Romance Novels of the last Ten Years!

If you haven't already seen the list, two books in THE ELVEN LORDS series, THE LADY OF THE STORM and THE LORD OF ILLUSION, were included in Booklist's 101 Best Romance Novels of the Last Ten Years.


Yes, the past decade! Did your favorite author make the list? You can view it here:
http://bit.ly/1i0AnfA

Why did Booklist call THE ELVEN LORDS series 'superb'? You can try out this amazing magical world for just 99 Cents with the latest short novelette THE ASSASSIN'S LOVER, available at your favorite on-line retailer:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Experience With Kindle Scout


Phase Two – The Campaign  (If you haven't read the first post, you can scroll down to find it.)

When I clicked on the link to my campaign, I spotted my cover with the blurb next to it. Below was an excerpt of the book, plus my photo, bio, and social media links. There was a button for readers to nominate the book. They could also go to the main page of Kindle Scout to search for other books to nominate. I don’t believe I received many more followers to my social media sites during the campaign, but others may find different results.

I wish I had read a blog like this one before I began promoting my campaign. I believe I rushed out of the gate too fast. My husband I both spread the word on our Facebook pages the first day. I posted on my writers’ loops, as well as on Twitter. I was excited to see my book cover on the Hot and Trending section of Kindle Scout’s main page, along with the mystery and romance sections. I stayed in Hot and Trending for about a week and then, to my dismay, fell off. That hurt.

I reached out to one of my bigger Romance Writers of America loops called Pro and I was soon back in Hot and Trending. Then I fell off again. Sigh. I had never posted on Facebook groups before and decided to do so. I had already been placed in over a dozen groups and I joined more. I believe I am member of about 33 groups now. I read their rules carefully and began posting. I made sure to focus on the reader’s chance to earn a free book if they nominated my book and it is published. Free always catches my attention. I continued to do the same on Twitter, which feeds into my Facebook. I posted in Twitter about every other day unless I fell out of Hot and Trending, then I increased to daily. I may have posted twice on the same day once.

I was in and out of Hot and Trending until near the end. I started posting on Twitter/Facebook/Facebook groups the number of days left in my campaign to vote and possibly receive a free book. I posted in about 6-10 Facebook groups a day to make sure I didn’t repost in the same group for another three days. I stayed in Hot and Trending near the end of my campaign.

Looking back, I would have staggered out my original postings to increase my chance of staying in Hot and Trending. For example, my husband’s Facebook friends were wonderful. Many of them voted/nominated my book. If we had posted in his account later the first week, I might have stayed in Hot and Trending the second week.

Yesterday, I received an email from Kindle Scout that says they now track the number of hours in Hot and Trending for you, along with where your votes are coming from. You can read those when you log into your Amazon account and click on My Campaign. Even though my campaign was over, I could still see my results. I was in Hot and Trending 460 of the 720 hours of my campaign. I could see where voters came from my blog and Facebook posts. I couldn’t tell when they came from Twitter, but I know at least a couple did because they told me. According to one of their graphs, many votes came from readers who were on the site nominating books. One graph tells you the number of votes received each day. The days I received zero votes were the ones I didn’t promote due to other commitments.

The scariest part of the campaign was the moment I realized everyone who nominated my book would receive an email telling them whether or not Amazon chose to publish my book. I kept telling myself it was in their best interest to publish Euphoria Lane since I had been in Hot and Trending for so many hours. I didn’t want to face the embarrassment if they chose not to publish my book.

During this time, I discovered I could call Euphoria Lane a cozy mystery. I have the nice ladies on Goodreads for that information. I wasn’t sure before because the story is also a romance and in two points of view. I also decided during this campaign that I was going to write romantic cozy mysteries from now on. This is a combination of two genres I love. Romantic Cozy Mysteries is not a genre recognized by publishing companies, but I have read the title once online and decided I can self-publish my books so it doesn’t matter what publishers recognize. I feel good about my decision and can thank this campaign for allowing me to find my way.

The end of my campaign was a comedy of errors. I was exhausted from returning back to teaching and thought my campaign ended Saturday night. I stopped promoting after Saturday morning. It turned out, it ended Sunday night. I was still in Hot and Trending. I checked my email before going to bed. No news. I hoped to hear from Amazon the next day. Minutes after the campaign ended EST on Sunday evening, I received an email telling me the readers had voted and my book was selected for publication. At almost the same time, everyone who had nominated the book received the email with my thank you note. My daughter read her email and called to wake me up. Many friends knew the book was chosen before I did. The congratulations were rolling in.

My email notified me that the thank you notes were being emailed and that the terms of the contract were in effect. They gave me thirty days to update the cover, manuscript, and book details if I wanted. I chose to make the title larger. I soon received an email saying the changes were approved and my manuscript was going to their editor. They asked me to respond with my name and address. I opened a bank account for my writing and soon received their email to open my Payee Account in their secure website. They needed my name, address, phone number, email, bank account number, routing number, and social security number. I then filled out a W-9 online. The account is on hold until the IRS verifies my information.

I have been impressed with how organized this campaign has been. Also with the timeliness of each step.
No more than a few days passes before I hear from them again. They also give you a contact for asking questions and they are quick to reply.

What now? I am waiting to hear back from the editor. Once we make the changes needed, they will email the people who nominated the book to let them know the book is ready for them to read and review. During this time, my book will be available for preorders. They want to give readers time to review the book. They will also give me a publication date.

I would recommend this program to anyone who can reach a large number of possible voters and won’t mind the heavy promoting for that month. Also, to anyone who can handle the possibility that their book might not be published after you have put it out there to the world. I would have cried, but I would have survived. I call this my exciting adventure.

I will update you again after my book receives its first set of royalties.

  

Tina Swayzee McCright