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Category: Behind The Scenes

Weekly-ish Wrap-up: Feb 10

The past couple weeks have been filled with productive but unexciting events of me with my head down, writing. This will undoubtedly result in die-hard readers of this blog turning to one another, if they could turn to one another, and muttering, “Why are we standing here peering through this window when all she’s doing is cursing at a computer screen?”  A fair question.

Rebranding Continues

The rebranding of the historicals continues apace.  And when I saw ‘rebranding,’ I  mean “branding for the first time ever.”  (Full disclosure: you’re in the presence of the worst marketer ever born.)  A couple covers and titles are being revamped, and the entire Renegades & Outlaws series is being renamed, along w/ a new logo.

Gee, I wonder what the new series title is…?  🤔  Okay, actually, I know.   Anyone want to take a guess, comment section is below!

I’ll announce & post pictures when all is done.

King’s Warrior (formerly The King’s Outlaw) off to edits!

Closing in on release date of Feb 28th…. 

You can check it out at Amazon & iBooks and soon, on GooglePlay!  The old title remains on booksellers for now, until the new cover is finished.

Knighting ceremony & Medieval Custard Pie

In the ‘If It’s Medieval, It Counts’ department…at my children’s school, they’ve been studying the middle ages, which includes a “Knight’s Challenge.” This involves the kids setting personal goals related to physical and character improvement (including a 3 hour stint of silence one day!)  and working it on for a month. They also had to do community activity, some service to others.

It’s all wrapped up now, and they’re ready for the solemn occasion of a knighting ceremony & feast to follow!  :rubs hands together:  The kids each make a medieval dish and the parents eat it all.

My child committed to making & bringing apple crisps, which involved very expensive saffron threads (!!) and a deep frying experience none of us will ever forget. Think ‘traumatic.’  It was difficult not to say “I told you so,” but I resisted.

A hasty conference ensued, and the new menu item is a Custard Pie.  Should be easier. And filled with more fat, so it’s a win-win.

A 15th c recipe for fruit daryoles (custard pie) which is NOT the one we used. And aren’t you glad romance writers don’t write in authentic period language??

 

If you’re interested, here’s the amount-adjusted recipe we’re using (God save us, I helped do the math to reduce the original recipe from 2 pies to 1. Will check in after and let you know how it went):

Ingredients FOR ONE PIE

• 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts
• 1/4 cup blanched almonds
• ½ c + 1/8 cup cold water
• ½ cup half-and-half cream
• ½ pinch saffron powder
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 ½ eggs
• 3/8 cup white sugar (= 6 TBSP ?)
• ½ teaspoon rose water (NOTE: we may skip because I already bought saffron threads)
• Add all ingredients to list

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Press pie crusts into the bottom and up the sides of two 9 inch pie pans. Prick with a fork all over to keep them from bubbling up. Bake pie crusts for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until set but not browned. Set aside to cool.

Make an almond milk by placing almonds in the container of a food processor. Process until finely ground, then add water, and pulse just to blend. 

Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then strain through a cheesecloth. Measure out 1 cup of the almond milk, and mix with half and half. Stir in the saffron and cinnamon, and set aside.

Place the eggs and sugar in a saucepan, and mix until well blended. Place the pan over low heat, and gradually stir in the almond milk mixture and cinnamon. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken.

When the mixture is thick enough to evenly coat the back of a metal spoon, stir in rose water and remove from heat. Pour into the cooled pie shells.

Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center is set, but the top is not browned. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until serving.

Weekly-ish Wrap-Up, Jan 27

Because I’m that sad, we can’t even have something nice occur weekly. It has to be “weekly-ish.”  You can’t take me anywhere.  

Books On Lists

I was incredibly touched to see all my books made it onto several of All About Romance’s mega lists of the best, noteworthy titles within the tropes we romance-loving souls so desire.  If you don’t know AAR, check them out. They’re one of the go-to sites to get reviews & information on the genre.

Tortured Hero

Jamie Lost (Defiant), Kier (Deception) and Griffyn Sauvage (The Conqueror) all made this list. Do you detect a theme? 

Irish Romances (set in Ireland)

Shockingly, The Irish Warrior is on here…  

Road Romances

The Irish Warrior and Defiant made this list.

These lists are only updated every so often, as in years, so it may be awhile until there’s another round.

Rebranding

I’m in the midst of rebranding my new series. I should just say ‘branding,’ because absolutely no thought ever went into answering the question, “How to let readers know what they’ll be getting in my books, and moreover, that it’s just what they’re looking for, and moreover-over, it’ll knock their socks (and corsets) off?”

That means covers, titles, series title…the whole works.  Stay tuned for more!

 

Glitch in Preorder

The preorder release date for THE KING’S OUTLAW (title to be changed, see above) was accidentally changed by 4 days at Amazon.  Amazon may have alerted anyone who preordered the book. So sorry about that!  I sent a note to my newsletter subscribers to update them, so they’d know it was just an error, and all sorts of sexy hijinks are still on their way. Now you know too.

If you’re not on my newsletter & want to be (it’s the best way get the latest news), you can sign up here.

If you haven’t preordered yet, you can do it here! AMAZON | iBOOKS

Onward to February!

Weekly Wrap-up: Jan 6

Weekly Monthly BiMonthly Wrap-up

I mistyped ‘wrap-up’ as ‘warp-up,’ and that about explains everything.  Also, my weekly warp-up is  stretched out into a monthly one, as warped things are wont to do…

Claiming Her recommended as 2016 Must Read Romance

USA Today’s® Happily Ever After column recommended Claiming Her as one of the Must Read Romances of 2016 by columnist Kathy Altman. So honored!

 
King’s Outlaw Pre-Order up

The King’s Outlaw  is now up for preorder at Amazon & iTunes!

 

Released Print Version of Claiming Her

It’s soooo pretty!  You can get it at Amazon or direct from Createspace, which publishes it.

 
Writing

Working on The King’s Outlaw,  fitting it in around lots of family, kids, and school events.  Let’s just say I’m not an effective creative multi-tasker. Creativity slows wa-a-a-a-ay down when I have to stop and restart.  Creativity is cumulative, like begets like, and breaking the spell does actually, well, break the spell.

Rediscovered brain.fm

If you don’t know about brain.fm, go check it out!  Super cool audio um…system?…to  help focus, sleep, and/or relax.  It’s astonishing how well it works.  I put on headphones, set it to ‘intense focus’ and start writing.  BOOM-words on the page.

 

 

 

Weekly Wrap-up: November 4th

#FallBackInTime

This weekend, authors & readers are celebrating their love of historical romance by posting selfies of us reading historical romances on social media!  My #FallBack pix are usually ‘doggies’ and ‘Legoies’ more than selfies, but I think we’re all secretly dying to see dogs and toys reading historical romance anyhow.

Find me on Twitter (@KrisKennedy) and Facebook (@KrisKennedyBooks).  Post your own and @ me, and I’ll RT and cheer you on!

Started NaNo 

“NaNo” is short for National Novel Writing Month, where writers from around the globe get together virtually and kick some wordly ass (In case it wasn’t clear, I made the word ‘wordly’ up). The generic Nano goal is 50K words by the end of November.

My goal: rough-finish two contemporaries for the Bella Love name.  Current progress: about 6K

Getting Cover Made

Getting a cover made for the single title release of The King’s Outlaw.  This will be the ‘director’s cut’ extended edition, with some extra scenes that had to be cut from the novella version that appeared in the anthology, Captured by a Celtic Warrior. 

Finalizing Print Version of CLAIMING HER

Completed the text formatting for Claiming Her. Or I should say my buddy Amy Atwell & her company Author EMS  did (and ooohh, it’s so pretty, with the Renegades & Outlaws logo appearing as part of the chapter breaks!)  

Waiting now on the print cover to get done, then I order proofs and see how it looks in hard copy, holding it in my hand.  Once I approve those, it will be ready for purchase, hopefully by Christmas!

Upcoming Giveaway

Joined up with Madeline Martin, writer of Scottish historical romance, in an upcoming giveaway to reward readers and hopefully introduce you to some new historical romance authors. 

“Thankful for Historical Romance Readers” giveaway  will place in a couple weeks. Stay tuned for more info!

Confession: I'm Addicted To Research

I’m addicted to research.  There, I admit it. 

I spend way too much money on research books, and way too much time reading them.  While Oxford University Press should just go ahead and open up a corporate account for me, my husband remains tolerant but unamused. Especially when half the books are for research on a book I’m not even writing. Yet. 

Partly, this is because an author has to know way more about the topics used in her books than she’ll ever actually put on the page, because after all, it’s a story, not a non-fiction treatise.  

This, of course, is my excuse.

It’s the way I permit myself to descend into the rabbit hole of Totally Unnecessary Research.  You can picture me leaping down a large hole, looking over my shoulder, smiling and waving, calling, “I’ll be just a minute!”

I’m never just a minute.  Go on and leave without me.

When I’m at work on the contemporaries, I find myself digging deep into crazy biotech, when I’ve already decided my tech-y secondary character will not be doing BIOtech, just straight coding, computer tech.

And yet…addict.  Because have you ever researched biotech, then thought of ways to twist it to nefarious purposes???  It’s insanely frightening and compelling.

A skirmish with smugglers from Finland at the Russian border, 1853, by Vasily Hudyakov

But my biggest weakness is historical research. Even when writing the contemps, I find myself on websites for medieval spice trade, or with a book sitting open beside me that discusses smuggling in 17th c.

 

These are not useful research topics for a contemporary story, not unless a character in the books happens to be studying the spice trade or the history of smuggling.  Which my hero and heroine are not. 

Although….wait a second….

This can become troublesome.  One must choose a story and proceed, not get distracted by all the other exciting stories she could be telling.

While writing CLAIMING HER, I found myself studying far more than was necessary about how

Wooden tankard found on board the 16th century carrack, Mary Rose.

alcoholic beverages were stored in the late 16th c.  I mean, really.  I needed my heroine to store whisky, and suddenly I’m learning about the history of bottling beer.

Fascinating stuff.

For instance, did you know bottled beer was already used by the late 16th century?  They even used expensive glass to do so (beer was sold in glass bottles in 1561 in Germany), although stoneware was more commonly used.  By the early 1600’s, the practice of bottling beer was well-established, and the debate was on: which is better, bottled beer or beer from a keg?

Do you have a preference?? 

(Note: in 1492, the Scottish Parliament prohibited any adulteration of beer or wine on punishment of death.  Careful out there, beer adulterers.)

Then there’s pocket watches.  Need I say more? 

Okay, I will.

Replica, German pocket watch, 1580.

Sweet, gorgeous, etched and carved pocket watches–with alarms!

By 1524, German inventor Peter Henlein used the invention of mainspring to create watches that did not require falling weights as the source of their power, and voila: portable clocks. 

They caught on quickly. Initially quite bulky and worn around the neck like a pendant, the later adoption of screws reduced their bulk, and by the third-quarter of the 1600’s, were small enough to be housed in, well…a pocket. (fyi, screws used to be made BY HAND, obviously, so individuals were doing the extremely time-consuming task of filing threads and cutting slots in the heads, so screws were of variable thread depth & quality.  The first screw factory in England, in 1776, with a patented screw-making machine, failed miserably. It’s not clear why, though, because…)

Gah!  See, it’s happening as I speak! So much for my parenthesis. One thing leads to another, to another…

Back on topic….I had a wonderful scene where the hero in CLAIMING HER (set in 1589) has a pocket watch, and it totally makes the heroine swoon. Unfortunately, I had to cut it. As it was one of the inspirations for the story, cutting it was like carving out a little part of me. But for various reasons, the pocket watch scene wasn’t going to work, so out it came.

But I kept researching the damned things. Because…addict.

Fortunately, not all is wasted. Maybe none is. Because if the historical detail is organically connected to the story, then it does more than just sit there as a prop.  It bolsters/reveals/reverses something that’s core to the characters. And so I learn something far more important that factoid A or B.  I learn about the hero & the heroine, even if the historical detail must be surgically removed. 

Writing the early versions of the pocket watch scene revealed Aodh & Katarina to me.  Katarina has been stuck out in her lonely castle beyond The Pale for many years, and did not expect this barbaric Irishman to upend her world. To be, in fact, the opposite of barbaric. To bring her etched silver and silk and news from faraway places from men he called friends. To show her maps of unknown worlds. To beam prisms of light into the dark corners of her life, and prove to her anything is possible. Anything at all. Even loving a rebellious, treasonous Irishman.

So, I guess this is why I waste my time.  Because it lights my fire.  And reveals the truths of my characters.

Which maybe doesn’t count as wasted time after all.  

Do you have interests that make you “waste your time”?