Where do all those coup feathers come from?

March 3rd, 2014

Not eagles, but osprey, a sea hawk nesting on a man-made platform.

 

 

I’m working on a Western historical and as I was researching the various types of coup feathers, I found an entry on the process of catching the eagles.  Eagles are too clever to be caught with a snare or a bow.  Their capture requires more craft.

The process is fascinating.  There is elaborate ritual for cleansing and sacred rituals preformed before the hunt.  Then there is preparation for the trap which is a pit dug with only a knife.  The dirt must be carried away or you tip off the eagle to your intentions.  The pit is only deep enough for one warrior to lie on his back.  This image makes me think of lying in one’s grave and seems an act of bravery already.  Once the pit is ready, an assistant helps arrange the clever concealment of logs, dirt, moss and grasses.  Then the bait is laid using a flayed rabbit or perhaps the neck of a buffalo.  The warrior then waits.  When the eagle lands, the hunter reaches up from beneath the bird and grabs both legs.  Then he pulls it into the pit where the bird’s neck is quickly twisted. 

Can you imagine grabbing a struggling eagle without running afoul of its powerful beak and.  They should give a coup feather just for catching the bird. 

So that answers my question.  But I wouldn’t try this as it is illegal to catch or kill any bird of prey unless you are a Native American. 


 

Shovel, Write, Shovel, Write, repeat…

February 14th, 2014

I feel like I’m reenacting scenes from my stories WINTER WOMAN and/or OUTLAW BRIDE.  It seems my world has frozen and I have spent much time and energy chopping, scraping and shoveling snow, ice, sleet and more snow.

This lovely snow scene is actually my driveway. It’s under there somewhere.

Between bouts with the snow shovel, I finished my copy edits for THE VAMPIRE’S WOLF, a paranormal Nocturne that will appear in JULY 2014, with my driveway, I’d imagine.

Finally saw the sun and the blue sky today and the snow quickly dissolved from the branches of my red maple.

I also sent my editor a Valentine’s present, the revised version of my Christmas novella, coming in October 2014 in the Anthology titled, WILD WEST CHRISTMAS.  My story is titled, A FAMILY FOR THE RANCHER.  I just love this story and hope my readers will too.

I’ve put an excerpt up on my website for THE VAMPIRE’S WOLF, in my eNews page, so please do have a look and let me know what you think.

 

 


 

The Collision of Serenity and Deadlines

January 19th, 2014

January woods in snow

Publishing is made up of long stretches of quiet broken with brief intervals of frenzy.  This week is one of the frenzy ones.  I have been calmly working on my next Western historical proposal and feeling happy with the progress as my February 1 deadline inches closer. 

Then I somehow got caught in the crossfires by two editors both sending urgent requests for various important things that have deadlines that are not inching but running straight at me like a charging bear.  Suddenly my proposal schedule looks impossible because of all these budger projects jumping the line.

I’ve been three days at the questions for the editor and will finish today, then turn to the revisions, the cover arts sheet and then back to my proposal.  One by one, I’ll press send and deliver the next much needed electronic file.

But despite the flurry inside my office, the heating pad warms my feet and the hot coffee fills the air with a comforting aroma.  Outside, the birds dart to and from my feeder and the sun casts long shadows through the trees.  Inexplicably, I feel an irrational belief that all will all get done before the deadlines. 

Care to lay down any bets?


 

Morgan Library & Museum

December 8th, 2013

Can you walk into Donald Trump’s library?  What about Warren Buffet’s, Bill Gates or Mark Zukerberg’s private collection?  You might get in but you will likely leave in handcuffs.  Ah, but I found a library of one of America’s wealthiest men, now deceased, and it is open to the public for only $18 a pop.

Lured from my walk along Madison Avenue by a sign on a lamp pole that had an image of Edgar Allen Poe, I ended up checking my coat and laying down my crisp twenty dollar bill.  The bill had ironically been recently spewed from a Chase Manhattan Bank ATM owned by J.P. Morgan, Inc.

Jenna Kernan soaking it all in.

The Museum is The Morgan Library and Museum and the exhibit on Poe is remarkable.  There was the poem I memorized at age twelve in Poe’s own hand. 

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee; 

                                                                    ~Edgar A. Poe~

This museum began as a private collection of rare manuscripts by financier Pierpont Morgan in 1890.  He collected books, manuscripts, drawings and prints.  Mr. Morgan’s library was built between 1902 and 1906 right next to his New York residence on Madison Avenue and 36th Street.   I have to get me one of those adjacent libraries.  Now accidental visitors like me can stumble around muttering, “How is it possible I have never even heard of this place before?”

                                                                                             
Mrs. Dickens’ appears to have missed a spot on Extreme Cheapskates
by 150 years. She has conserved paper, if not her sister’s vision,
by writing both horizontally and diagonally on the page.

Meandering along, I ended up in a gorgeous library that has a page from A Christmas Carol on temporary display and the page is written in Dickens’ own hand.  It’s the scene where Scrooge finally comes to dinner surprising his nephew Fred greatly.  I studied the edits Charles had made, noticing where he had scratched out adjectives and substituted more active verbs.  The site made me smile.  It is a familiar dance for many writers.

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in only six weeks and he wasn’t even signed up for National Novelist Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  Writers will understand the reason that in October he was in a mad flurry to complete a story in time to have the work published for Christmas.

The Morgan Museum has a copy of the manuscript on display this month.  Here is what they have to say about the exhibit (from their website www.themorgan.org )

A page from Dickens’ manuscript, A Christmas Carol

Every holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens’s original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in Pierpont Morgan’s historic Library. Dickens wrote his iconic tale in a six-week flurry of activity, beginning in October 1843 and ending in time for Christmas publication.  He had the manuscript bound in red morocco as a gift for his solicitor, Thomas Mitton. The manuscript then passed through several owners before Pierpont Morgan acquired it in the 1890s.

How is it possible that I have never been in this museum before?  If it were in any other city, I am sure it would be the crown jewel of the town.  I can’t explain why I never visited.  I am not on Madison Avenue often and when I am usually in midtown I generally visit the New York Public Library, but from now on I will be keeping an eye on upcoming exhibits and preparing to transfer another twenty dollar bill from J.P. Morgan’s ATM to J.P. Morgan’s Museum.

 

 


 

Artful Description

November 3rd, 2013

Bookstore browsers often look for white space in books, rather than blocks of solid prose.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my current work in progress, specifically trying to figure out how much description is enough to build my world and at what point to do readers have their fill and begin skimming?  I do not want skimming but neither do I want them wondering what the heck a character looks like?

Every writer weighs how much is too much versus how much is not enough.  The late, Elmore Leonard famously said, “think of what you skip reading in a novel: thick paragraphs of prose.”  He is right of course.  I do, did, will.  But I may take his reminder that, “I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.” a little bit too seriously.

Readers need to be grounded in a setting but expect not bored with unnecessary detail.  How much of a hero’s face, form and physical characteristics are expected for the genre and how do you work in those details so they don’t slow the pace?

I know enough not to drop an entire paragraph of description in a large chunk, like a cinderblock in the middle of a stream of your nice even primrose path.  What the heck is a primrose path anyway?

In any case, I’ve been paying special attention to how much description authors write and, more importantly, how and where are the descriptions insert it into their stories.  I’m currently a fan of the hit and run style.  That’s what I’m calling it.  The dialogue is rolling along and then-bam-the writer hits you with a two-sentence extremely concise, telling descriptions so rich that they not only give you a picture in your mind, they make their descriptions do double duty.  And then before you realize it, pow, you are back in action or conversation.

Here is a masterful description of setting by Kristan Higgins that conveys not just the place but the purpose and all in two well-crafted sentences:

Manning Academy was the type of prep school that litters New England.  Stately brick buildings with the requisite ivy, magnolia and dogwood trees, emerald soccer and lacrosse fields, and a promise that for the cost of a small house, we’d get your kids into the colleges of their choice—Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown.

~Kristan Higgins, Too Good to Be True~

Here is a physical description by Susan Elizabeth Phillips from Call Me Irresistible:

Lucy’s elfin features and thick, little girl eyelashes made her look younger than her thirty-one years. She’d grown out her shiny brown hair since her college days and sometimes held it back from her face with an assortment of velvet headbands that Meg wouldn’t be caught dead wearing, just as she’d never have chosen Lucy’s ladylike aqua sheath with its tidy black grosgrain belt.

~ Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Call Me Irresistible~

Author Phillips manages to get a physical description and attire of a secondary character in here with backstory between this character and the heroine and in addition, she relays how the heroine feels about her friend’s choice of wardrobe.  I have to sit down, I’m so impressed.

Here is one from Julia Quinn from a novel in three parts The Lady Most Likely by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway.  Notice how Author Julia Quinn weaves dialogue into her description.

“I told you she looked like Botticelli’s Venus,” her mother said proudly to her father, after a fourth gentleman had commented on the resemblance.  And indeed, with her wavy hair, alabaster skin, and sea-green eyes, Gwen did bear a striking resemblance to the goddess as interpreted by the Italian master.

~Julia Quinn, The Lady Most Likely~

In addition to mixing dialogue into her description, Ms. Quinn also makes her description appropriate for the historical period she is writing and for that I tip my Regency bonnet.

All three of these examples highlight different methods of inserting description naturally into the prose.  None of these authors overstayed their welcome by rattling on and on over a place or person but all gave critical details with extra value by making their description do double duty.  And that is how it’s done!

 


 

New Jersey RWA Put Your Heart in a Book Conference

November 1st, 2013

Author Jenna Kernan and Stacey Agdern at the NJRWA Conference, 2013

I had a lovely time in New Jersey last week.  I saw many friends and acquaintances in passing with whom I intended to catch up with at some point, but then found myself back at home in my fuzzy slippers and realized I never did see them again.  That happens to me more than you would think.

This trip I focused on social media workshops and got a lot of good ideas on blogging.  Morgan Dormus, from Forever and Forever Yours, introduced me to many great strategies for book blogs including keeping a journal while writing so I’ll have interesting tidbits for readers.  Joyce Lamb, specialist from USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog, had wonderful suggestions on how to contact media and promote my posts. Finally, author Julie Kenner is my new hero for all her sage words on maximizing my social media efforts.  I am now anxious to set up my Amazon Associates account.

I came home with a long to-do list and grand ambitions.  But it was so nice to put on my snuggly, comfy clothes and get back to writing my story that my media blitz might have to wait a little while longer.


 

Autumn in New York

October 12th, 2013

The sugar maples are in full color.

Autumn is one of my most favorite times of the year.  The color of the sun through the leaves is not to be believed.  And that is to say nothing of the fall bounty of harvest favorites.  I’ve been eating fruits and vegetables of every variety.  They never taste as good as right now.

This is my biggest pumpkin ever…46.5 pounds!

Writing news:

I received my contact from Harlequin for the three-book Western historical deal.  That makes the deal seem more real.  I’ve finished my Western Christmas novella and sent that to my editor.  I don’t expect readers will see this story until next fall, but here is a little about the story for you fans.

She’s the wealthy debutant tired of rich, useless men.  He’s a saddle bum that fell for her hard.  Now Christmas and his orphaned nephews’ welfare make this cowboy desperate enough to do something he’s never done before, admit he needs help.

Apple picking is a Autumn must in the northeast.

Research:

Before I jump into the next Western Historical, I’m doing so reading of original documents.  Specifically George Catlin’s Letters and Notes on the North American Indians.  For those of you unfamiliar with Catlin, he was an American painter who traveled widely in the Western United States painting portraits and landscapes of Native Americans in the 1830s.  Some of his work can be seen in the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.  I’m also reading about the southwest under Spanish rule.  I wonder where these research expeditions will lead me?

Public Appearance:

I will be in New Jersey this month at the New Jersey Romance Writer’s Conference.  I hope to see many of you there.

Or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

 


 

Virtual and Physical Wanderings

August 18th, 2013

Author Jenna Kernan’s wanderings. You never know what you’ll discover!

 

Virtual Wanderings:  This week I figured out how to create an Author Central Page in French and German.  I loaded up my bio in what will probably turn out to be very bad French and German with the help of an online translator.  Still waiting for the page to be approved but here it is for now:

Jenna Kernan’s Amazon Author Central France

I also made one for Germany.  Both these efforts required having the UK version open so I could guess what meant ‘open’ or ‘save’ or ‘cancel’.  Other virtual wanderings included finally uploading my book trailers to my Goodreads page.

I still can’t believe I managed either but I thank my RWA chapter mates at CoLoNY and especially Sharon Struth for her help with the book trailers (see her trailer here) and RWA Romance Writers’ Report journal for the article by Cynthia Eden about Amazon in the March 2013 edition.  As you can see I’m behind in my reading, again, still, always.

 

Physical Wanderings: I made it to my favorite Sunday flea market again and today was more interested in people watching than hunting for another important object for my home.  Here are the most interesting outfits for the day.

Most Original Costume

 

Most likely to buy powdered protein.
That’s a lot of Velcro weights!

 

Most likely to be ogled.
She’s sexy and a little bit frightening.

 

Guess Who? I wear orange so my husband can find me. It’s my version of a cow bell, so…most likely not to get lost?

As I mentioned, this week the local market was not nearly so interesting as those who came to hunt and wander.  I hope you have a little wandering time of your own!


 

Romance Writers of America – Atlanta 2013

July 28th, 2013

Historical Authors Terri Brisbin, Jenna Kernan and Diane Gaston

 

Have you ever tried to get through airport security without your license?  I did.  The cause was the multiple purse changes at the conference.  The big bag for traveling, the small purse that fits in the conference tote, the small beaded purse for the RITA Awards® and then back to the larger bag.  In all that movement my license ended up amid a sample of hand lotion in my suitcase (which I did tear apart at the airport to no avail).  They let me through thanks to my scuba card that has a photo plus three credit cards with my name.

But let me tell you about the conference.  I went in with two main goals:

1. Stay away from those who shout “The sky is falling.”

2. Have fun.

Pretty straight forward.

STAYING AWAY FROM ALARMISTS:

Regarding the first goal, I did nod my head and move away from authors, publishers, agents or editors who presented a doomsday outlook for publishing and the publishing industry.  I have to believe that good stories will always find a market even if I don’t know if that market will be in print, electronic or some other medium to be determined.  This didn’t happen as frequently as I feared.  Most folks are seeing an upswing in sales and so forth, even though print sales are generally down everywhere.

Regarding the second goal, I did have fun.  Some I anticipated, some came by way of serendipity.

FUN HIGHLIGHTS:

GEORGIA AQUARIUM:  I try to do one touristy thing in every city I visit for conferences.  This year it was the fabulous aquarium.  Their dolphin show is not to be believed!

Whale Shark at Georgia Aquarium

 

BOOK SIGNING: Wednesday night I signed Beauty’s Beast in a ballroom with 450 authors as thunder crashed and lights flickered.   Lucky I’d been to the Atlanta Coke gift shop and had my coke penlight!

Readers for Life Literacy signing.

 

HARLEQUIN DIGITAL PJ PARTY: On Thursday night included lots of fun and silly costumes.  Loved the Cracker Jack and cookies plus the opportunity to have some laughs with the fabulous Harlequin Digital team.

Book Seller of the year, Cathy Genna from the fabulous East Brunswick B&N with Jenna at the hotel bar

 

 

THE FIVE MINUTE MEETING:  Sometimes you bump into someone you know or want to meet or haven’t ever met.  I love this about conferences, the serendipity that connects you with just who you wanted to speak to or has you miss that meeting by ten seconds.

Harlequin UK editors creating a flip book at the Harlequin Author Party at the Ritz

 

HARLEQUIN HOTEL SUITE: There were more than a few minglers in the Harlequin suite.  I attended one for series authors, another for historical authors, and still another Nocturne authors, plus various workshops and informational presentations.  On Thursday I had coffee with friends, coffee with my agent, coffee with my editor followed by coffee with the Nocturne series authors!  I wonder why I had trouble sleeping that night?

Desert table at the Harlequin Authors’ Party at the Ritz

 

HARLEQUIN HISTORICAL’S TEA: The UK team of editors usually plans a special outing for the historical authors.  This year it was Dr. Bombay’s in a lovely neighborhood of Atlanta.  We had tea, scones, finger sandwiches and conversation with UK editors Linda Fildew and Joanne Carr.  Such a wonderful afternoon that just thinking on it makes me smile.

Historical Authors Diane Gaston and Blythe Grifford outside of an Atlanta tea shop at the Harlequin Historical Authors’ Tea

 

HARLEQUIN V.I.P LOUNGE: Now I did not have a milestone book or a Rita nomination this year, but was happy to ride on the coattails of author Susan Meier and be her plus one.  She had BOTH a nomination and a milestone (her 50th Book!).  Prior to the big Friday night bash we had an invite the V.I.P Lounge that included make-up artists and hair stylists to make authors really shine before the party.  Editors, Execs and authors mingled and snacked after a toast by Donna Hayes, C.E.O of Harlequin, Int.  Really, I wish I could have stayed there all night but it was off to the party for dancing, open bar and treats.

Author Susan Meier with stylist on her right and Jenna Kernan on her left

 

HARLEQUIN AUTHOR PARTY: I made it to midnight and had such fun.  A highlight was dancing on the floor with author greats Brenda Jackson and Nora Roberts.  Now that is a party!

Harlequin Digital Jayne Hoogenberk interviews author Jenna Kernan before the Rita Awards (r).

 

RITA AWARDS: I got to sit at a reserved table with Susan Meier and Jessica Hart who were both nominees.  Prior to the ceremony the Harlequin UK editors offered a Champaign toast and good wishes to their nominees.  The coveted statues were awarded and I especially appreciated the speech by Eloisa James, who showed off a handful of silver Rita® pins marking her numerous nominations prior to her win.  I have two silver pins representing my two nominations and am considering making earrings.

 


 

July Literacy Autographing

July 10th, 2013

 

Jenna Kernan signing her latests paranormal romance, BEAUTY’S BEAST

 

I’ll be signing my Nocture paranormal romance, BEAUTY’S BEAST in Altanta at #RWA13 Literacy Autographing on July 17th!

The “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing, is open to the public and includess more than 400 authors of romance authors who meet with and sign our books for fans.  This is a wonderful event and proceeds from book sales go to literacy organizations.  The 2013 beneficiaries of the Literacy Autographing are ProLiteracy Worldwide, Literacy Action, Inc., and Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta.

This event is open to the public and there is no entry fee.