“Life how short. Eternity how long.”
I have a proclivity for wandering in old cemeteries. I prefer the ones that date from the mid-1600s to the mid-1700s because these have lovely stones made of reddish brownstone from Connecticut and because the carvings are so strangely beautiful.
The thing that first attracted me to these stones was the winged “death heads.” What did they mean? I did a little research and came up with the fact that the winged skull or winged head symbolize the flight of the soul from the body, in other words, death.
The headstones back then did not sentimentalize. They appear to have two functions, first, to memorialize the departed and second to remind the living that we were next in line. The epitaphs carved below the names and dates share a common message, “You’re number will be up soon so get your shit together.”
I have a framed collection of my favorites in my office. The earliest examples are often just a skull with wings sprouting from the sides of the head. Later on they took on a fleshier, facial quality and still later a sort of carved portrait that even included the powdered wigs.
Later on, during the Greek revival, the stones turned to white marble and began to sport willows, urns, lambs and cherubs. Those stones do not interest me. But who could resist this kind of poetry:
“Stay! thou this tomb that passeth by,
Some stones were meant to show man’s frailty and this stone sure accomplished that goal because the carver was so frail of mind and of forethought that he forgot to leave room for the last word.
How frail a thing is man
That little jewel made me laugh out loud right in the middle of the graveyard. It just killed me. But I love these stones and I want one! But not too soon.
I’m currently wedged between my paranormal release coming in two weeks and my last Western historical release only last month with promotion efforts ongoing to make readers aware of these releases.
I’ve been writing newsletters, blog posts, Facebook updates, appearances and book signings. Here’s the particulars so you can join me here and there.
March 14 – Blog Post and Comments
Lady’s Love Cowboys on my February Western Release, THE TEXAS RANGER’S DAUGHTER.
This post includes a new short, sexy excerpt.
March 20 – Blog Post and Comments
Harlequins Paranormal Blog about upcoming paranormal release, BEAUTY’S BEAST.
April 1 – Reading and Book Signing
Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC: Reading from BEAUTY’S BEAST at 7 PM and book signing to follow
April 29 – Visiting with Readers
Harlequin’s Community Forum: I’ll be talking about sexy Skinwalkers and how they differ from shapeshifters.
May 31 – Book Signing, BEAUTY’S BEAST
Book Expo America: I’ll be signing complimentary copies of BEAUTY’S BEAST from 11 AM to 12 PM at the Romance Writers of America Booth (RWA Booth) on Friday, May 31
Busy, busy….and I know you are too. But I’d love to see you on line or in person!
Happy Reading and, as always, enjoy the adventure!
This week I finished and submitted my latest paranormal romance. That means I take myself away from my desk and my keyboard for an outing to celebrate. Today’s field trip was one of my favorite destinations.
Every time I go to NYC I learn something new. Here are just four things that I learned today.
New York City is always an adventure and my readers know I love a good adventure!
I have been using my eReader for some time to read stories to me. I really don’t mind the electronic voice if it allows me to experience more novels than I could otherwise squeeze into my crazy schedule. But lately I’ve been using my eReader to help me with my works in progress.
Here’s How: I email my story as a document to my eReader address and open it as a document. Then I use the Read Aloud function to listen to my second draft.
Here’s Why: Despite cringing at missing words and incorrect verb tense and a myriad of other minutiae, the Read Aloud function lets me hear some big picture items without getting sidetracked with fixing trivialities
The False Start - While listening, I can more easily spot where the story or chapter or scene really begins, in other words, where the writing gets interesting. I often unintentionally do some “throat clearing” before I get rolling, especially on a new story as I get to know the setting, characters and conflict. There can be a pile of backstory in these pages and all of that has to go. Nobody cares about backstory until they are vested in the characters. So spotting these information dumps and making a note to myself regarding their elimination helps me create a fast read.
I’m Boring Myself – If my mind wanders or worse still, if I fall asleep while listening, I have a waving red flag that the reader will check out as well. My eReader helps me find those places.
Setting – It’s easier for me to notice when I have too many scenes set in the same location while listening and also to discover places where I have not done enough to help the reader experience the setting.
Weak Openings, Feeble Hooks – Did my opening grab me and do my hooks drag me into the next chapter?
Repeats of Ideas, Backstory or other things – Readers are smart and they have very good memories, so once is enough.
Unnatural Dialogue – Hearing the characters helps me see if their conversations sound natural or forced and if the characters have different styles of speech.
Timeline: It’s always nice to notice if your story has a week has no Wednesday and no weekend or if you have the characters eating second breakfast like hobbits. Listening helps me here as well.
Here’s Help: I mark places that need addressing with the Notes function which does stop the Read Aloud function, so I only use it for big things, which again keeps me from miring in details. I’m in the middle of such a read right now for a draft of a paranormal romance for Nocturne, but I took a little break to share something that works for me.
A nice surprise arrived in the mail this week. My April paranormal release from Nocturne appeared on my doorstep. Beauty’s Beast is the fourth and final in The Tracker series and although it won’t hit the shelves until April 2, you can get a first release copy by entering my GoodReads contest. I’ll be running one every two weeks until April.
I also received a smaller box of copies of my UK edition of this month’s Western Historical release, The Texas Ranger’s Daughter. The cover looks nearly identical except for two slight differences, the Harlequin Historical logos are not the same and the American release has a catch phrase under the title, reading: The one woman he can’t have. Well, I thought those were the only differences until I tried to put them all in the same box and discovered the UK book is bigger than the North America release.
The books are tucked into my office but I’ll be bringing some to Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC for giveaways on April 1st. If you’re in the NYC area, mark your calendars. I’d love to share the evening with my fans.
By now some of you have read THE TEXAS RANGER’S DAUGHTER, released this week. I thought readers might enjoy seeing some bonus material that never made the book. This section was cut from the manuscript for several reasons. Since Laurie mentions her encounter with Anton to Boon, having her seducer appears seemed unnecessary. Her memories of the incident and her mother’s mention of Anton served the purpose of explaining to the reader why Laurie never married and why she feels like a fraud. Also, if Anton reappears, Laurie has to act to protect other girls who might face seduction and then Boon or her father would have had to deal with him and this tangent would pull attention away from the developing love interest. In other words, it side-tracked the story, so it had to go.
Still, I thought that the readers might enjoy seeing Laurie meet the man who ruined her and made her feel like such a fraud. It was this man who kept her from being able to find a husband out of fear he would know she was not pure and fear that she was unworthy of a good man.
Here’s the cut scene between Laurie Bender and Anton Fischer…
A knock sounded on the door so quickly after her father’s departure that Laurie thought he must have forgotten something. But when she opened the door it was to the face she had spent the last five years trying to forget.
There in the hallway stood Anton Fischer, the Ranger who had seduced her and then dropped her like a bad penny. He had changed little, except that his face was no longer lean and his waist was no longer trim. He grinned roguishly at her and Laurie wondered where she had put Larson’s gun.
Her stomach dropped as if she was falling, but something about his smug expression replaced her shock with a suspicion, creeping in like fog. Was this some kind of game to him?
“What are you doing here?”
“Surprised to see me?”
She had heard from her mother that he had left the division shortly after marrying the one he had been engaged to even as he had taken her innocence, some five years ago. She knew he had been working in the pharmacy owned by his in-laws here in Abilene. He also had several children.
Laurie narrowed her eyes on him. If he thought her the same silly girl she had been he certainly was in for a surprise.
His expression told her that he had not accidentally run into her while seeking her father. No, this was a planned encounter, a strategic attack. He always knew when her father was away and always approached her at such times.
“What is it you want, Mr. Fischer.”
“That’s mighty formal for the road we traveled.”
“You are very lucky that we two are the only ones who knew of that.”
“Well, that’s the thing I’m here about. Since I never did have to pay that piper I figure you are a gal who can keep a secret. And seeing how you’ve grown into such a beauty, I wondered if you had any interest in renewing our acquaintance.”
Laurie’s cool demeanor slipped and outrage roared.
“I do not.” She fairly spat the words at him. How could she ever have considered him romantic when now just looking at him filled her with disgust?
“Pity, still you are a bit old now.”
Old? She was not yet twenty and he called her old. A dreadful thought occurred to her.
“How many other girls have you seduced?”
He gave her that smug cat smile and a shrug then reset his hat. “Just like you, Laurie, Dearie. I don’t kiss and tell.”
With that, he strolled away, whistling ‘Camptown Races.’
Laurie narrowed her eyes as she considered her folly might not be losing her virginity to Anton Fischer, but not telling anyone about it.
How many girls had suffered her fate because of her unwillingness to reveal the truth?
© 2012, Jenna Kernan, excessed from
THE TEXAS RANGER’S DAUGHTER, April 2013
The Texas Ranger’s Daughter releases on Wednesday!
Release is a good word for this type of parting. As an author, I want my book in the hands of readers and await their response to my latest work with anxious anticipation. Who will write me to offer praise and who will write me to offer constructive criticism? Will someone review this story on GoodReads, Amazon or B&N? Who will mention this book to a friend?
In mind, this is actually the second release. The first release comes when I send my manuscript to my editor. This marks the moment when the story is no longer only mine. It is the instant that it changes from a beloved piece of my imagination to a commodity to be prepared for market. Now the art department is involved with cover design and my editor is involved with suggestions on how to improve the story. There are production meetings and front matter to collect (the dedication & Dear Reader letter). The back cover is drafted and the book is scheduled for release. Finally, for me, there are revisions, copy edits, line edits and final author alterations to be made. During this time, the book becomes a collaboration of many interested parties, and although it is not all together mine, I still have input and a chance to make some changes.
The second release , for me, is when the book is available to the public. Anyone anywhere can pick up my story. They can read it, throw it, review it, offer it to a friend, set it on a precariously high reading pile, tuck it away in their electronic reader, review it online, trash it online, recommend it online or, maybe, just maybe, add it to their coveted Keepers Shelf. This is the highest honor a reader can bestow.
In any case, what they do with it is not up to me. The book, my story, is not mine any longer. Now it has a life of its own. Though the parting is a little sad, it is good to see your stories leave the house and not have to worry about them moving back in or asking to borrow money.
This Tuesday, it is the time for me to wish The Texas Ranger’s Daughter well, wave good-bye and turn my attention to the stories that are still living under my roof and in my head.
Sometimes you need to stretch your comfort zone. For me that would mean reading in public. I’m not talking about public speaking, which is scary enough. I’m talking about my own private terror–reading my stories to an audience, either live or virtual. I took the plunge this week by recording a short excerpt of my January 22, release from Harlequin Historical, The Texas Ranger’s Daughter.
I won’t tell you how many times I read those two pages. That is between me and my webcam. But I did have a few takes where I failed to be able to pronounce either my own name or the title of my book. Things looked dismal, to be sure. But I finally got something presentable and I have uploaded it to my website on the book’s page for The Texas Ranger’s Daughter and to my Facebook page.
I’m now recording a similar excerpt for Beauty’s Beast, the fourth and final in The Tracker’s series from Harlequin Nocturne. This is an April 2013 release, which is good because I need some quality time with my webcam to get the next one right. Do you think I’ll get better with practice?
God, I hope so!