Thursday, June 26, 2008

TM Welcomes Kris Kennedy

Please join me in welcoming debut author, Kris Kennedy to Title Magic. Wife, mother, psychotherapist and romance writer Kris Kennedy has been writing romances for seven years, with some time off for sleepless behavior following their birth of her son. She, husband, son, and dog live in the Pacific Northwest, where mountains abound. (So does rain.) She writes hot, sweeping historicals, and firmly believes every woman deserves to take care of herself with a good book. She’s working on writing some for you now. You can visit her at Kris is also a double Golden Heart finalist as well.

Q: Thanks for taking the time out to stop by, Kris. We’re very glad to have you. The ladies here at Title Magic would like to know what you like to read. Can you give us some of your favorite titles?

KK: I am SUPER happy to join the illustrious group of AT finalists as a guest blogger! Thanks for having me!

Like most readers, and certainly most romance readers, I would read the phone book if needed. But I love sweeping books with a dangerous feel. I am a sucker for good dialogue. And I really need a good pace, w/ things changing. I don't much care WHAT changes--character conflict, plot twists, new information, etc, but I need constant shifts.

But I guess, in the end, I love being transported, so I'll read anything that does that. Historicals, though, hold my heart.

Oh, and I read craft books. Devour them. And the historiy books. You know, the awfully expensive ones. Love ‘em. My husband will look over slowly while we're laying in bed, and I have some huge, hard-back book pressing creases into my chest, with a title like "England Under The Norman and Angevin Kings, 1075-1216,” and he'll just shake his head at me.

Q: Wow, great answer! I’m a sucker for something that will transport me as well – especially historicals. And I absolutely LOVE those big, expensive scholarly historical books too! Now, do you prefer alphas to betas?

KK: Wheesh! Tough question! I love 'em both. :-) I think a determined man is incredibly sexy. I love men who know what they want and go and get it. But I don't necessarily like them knocking other people out of the way as they go. I love great intensity bound by great restraint. Men who want something BAD but are willing to hold themselves in check for a good reason (respect for the heroine, a larger goal, morals, etc).

Q: Sounds like my kind of man! What do you do when you're not writing? (i.e. quilting, spelunking, skydiving…)

KK: All of the above. In fact, I am sending this via my Blackberry, from a cave set deep in the Cascade wilderness . . . Kidding! What I really like to do is spend time w/ my son and family, and write. And read. How totally boring, I know!

Okay, I like to camp, and hike, too. And I like to sit with my girlfriends around a fire pit under the stars, and drink wine. 'Course, I DO more than that. I am a psychotherapist, and do consulting to help other clinicians work with self-harming women. I also do a kickboxing training.

Q: Well, I know for certain that spending time with the family isn’t boring. As a writer, those occasions are very rare, so we all treasure them. You recently made a first sale. Congrats! Can you tell us who the book was sold to, and give us a little bit more about the book?

KK: Ah, the thing I'm worst at--selling myself. And 2nd worst at--blurbing.

John Scognamiglio at Kensington bought the book, which is a medieval (yea! We need more medievals!), set in England during a time known as The Anarchy, mid 12th century. I do have a little blurby thing, and a fun excerpt, at my website:

Q: Wow! Must have been very exciting. And yes, I’m in agreement that we definitely need more medievals! What was your journey like from aspiring author to that first sale? Or the highlights of the journey?

KK: Does Pink Eye count as a highlight? LOL My son had pink eye and I was holding a warm compress to his eye when my agent called w/ the news. And all I could think was, "Am I spreading Pink Eye germs onto the phone?"

So, I held the compress to my writhing son, 'ohhh-ed" and "ahhh-ed' with my agent, & tried to get out an environmentally-sound cleaner so I could wipe down the phone before someone else touched it and got infected.

Q: In your case, I’d definitely say Pink Eye counted! What will the book be called? We're aware Kensington didn't like the title you originally had and you'd asked people to vote on suggestions on your website. How did that end up? Have you agreed on a title yet?

KK: I love that so many girls who came to vote!! I got the most wonderful suggestions. In the end, my editor suggested The Conqueror, b/c the hero in it is so strong a character. He's majorly alpha, but the kind-of alpha who keep setting his own goals aside to rescue a woman who so obviously needs rescuing. Twice! Even when there's a kingdom at stake. :-)

Q: I think your editor chose a wonderful title, very fitting for the book. Clearly you have the magic, since you're a double GH finalist. Can you put your finger on what actually sold that particular manuscript?

KK: LOL. I don't know about magic. What I do believe in is persistence. I believe that persistence, with a modicum of talent, will persevere every time.

Does that make me determined, with a modicum of talent? ;-)

I don't know exactly what it was that 'sold' this book. It’s a book with that sweeping feel (I hope!) very sensual, and will hopefully totally transport the reader and make her sigh. :-)

I'll say this, too: I think Kensington is doing a great thing with their Debut Author program. The books sell for less money, which is designed to entice new readers to take a chance on a new author. So, you're looking at a book that *sounds* good, by an author you never heard of. Are you going to plunk down $7 or 8$ on it? Maybe. Maybe not. Are you going to plunk down $3.99 or $4.99? Almost certainly.

Q: I do agree with you about the debut author program at Kensington – and about persistence. So many times you hear authors say that, and it’s completely true. Although I still think there’s a magic touch in there somewhere. Come on, two Golden Heart finals AND a contract?! How long from first submission to first sale? Did you send the manuscript out yourself, or try to find an agent first? What speedbumps on the road to publication should a first-timer look out for? It doesn't get any easier, does it? (I think we all know the answer to this last question!)

KK: LOL--I seriously doubt it gets any easier, although I'm still so new to the process that I wouldn't venture to say for sure. Here's what I DO know--the world is saturated with books. And potential readers have lots of demands on their time & money. So I'm focused on promotion to a startling degree. Of course I'm working on writing a fabulously sensual, riveting second (and third, and fourth, etc) book. But I have already submitted a marketing plan to my editor, and have spent hours planning where/how much to spend on ads, contests, review sites. etc etc.

Q: Very smart move on the marketing. Perhaps you’ll stop back by at a later date and blog about marketing and promoting? *hint, hint* When will the book be released?

KK: I’d love to comeback and chat about marketing! The book is due out in Spring, 2009. I haven't yet got a release date, but I have remarked on how much I'd love an April or May release. And we all know about the power of love . . . . :-)

Q: Very sneaky tactics on the release date. Fingers crossed it’ll fall on one of those months!

It’s been a pleasure to have you with us today, Kris. Are there any last words you’d like to say to the readers?

KK: If anyone has made it this far through my blather, I'd love to hear from YOU! What makes you buy a book? Beyond genre, what makes you plunk down money? What kind of experience are you looking for? And what gives it to you?


Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Kris,

Lovely to have you with us here at Title Magic. Interesting interview. I love historicals--always my favorite genre for a magical escape read. I'm looking forward to reading your first book next year.

Terry Odell said...

I'll read a variety of genres if the characters seem to have a fascinating problem. My first choices are mystery and romantic suspense. I usually gravitate toward authors I know, and confess that money being tight, I'll try a new author more readily if I can get the book from the library or a discount chain first. If I like it, I sigh because I'll have to start buying the rest of them.

I also will check out books by people I 'know', either from conferences, workshops, or ... blogs.

Lexie O'Neill said...

Wonderful interview, Kris!
This made me think...I buy books from my fave authors, ones that are on sale:), and those of a certain genre. I prefer fantasy, fantasy romance, and historical. I also bought the Nerd series just because I met the author at RWA. So, many reasons. Oh, and I don't read too many historical fact books--I just turn to my hubbie (or my son) and ask (I'm married to a history professor)!
Thanks again,

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Hi Kris! I just sold my first book to John at Kensington too! :)

What makes me buy a book is usually the blurb--if I get hooked by the premise or a character, I'll buy it. However, I've also bought books because of the cover art; either very campy or very beautiful.

And like you and most writers, I'll read anything. When I was working on my ATIV novel (a western futuristic) I read a lot of western novels geared toward men. I learned a lot about the west and what men enjoy reading.

Thanks for joining us here on Title Magic today! I love reading success stories. :)

Kris Kennedy said...

Hi Helen & Terry & Lexie & Anita,

Thanks so much for having me with you ladies, and for the warm welcome!

I know what you mean, Terry--I usually stick w/ the known quantity w/ authors. I do, though, read & rely on review sites for tips for new authors.

Lexie--I do the same thing! If I met someone, even online, & liked them or their ideas, I'll usually give their books a check-out. I must say, I but more freely now that I am contracted myself! LOL

Anita Lynn, Wow--hi to a fellow Kensington author! Congrats! When's your release date?

Trish Milburn said...

Hi, Kris. Thanks for coming to hang out with us today. Congrats on your sales and GH finals. So, my burning question is...what does your GH ceremony dress look like? :)

I totally agree with you on persistence. It does indeed pay off in the end.

Had to laugh at your husband shaking his head at the books you read in bed. That's what I do to my husband, who is often reading something about stock investment strategy.

Keli Gwyn said...

Great interview, Kris. I hope you do share more about your promotion efforts. Sounds like you've given that aspect of the business a great deal of thought.

Kris Kennedy said...

LOL--you cut right to the important stuff, don't you? The GH dress.

In fact, my dress is as-yet unbought. I'm trying to lose as much weight as I can before the purchase. As if another week or 2 will make the difference . . . :-)

Thanks for welcoming me, Trish!

Kris Kennedy said...


What we writers need to do is figure out what actually *works," marketing-wise. I have a feeling I could flail about, throwing money here and there, and not have much to show for it.

I like the idea of general exposure--getting people to hear your name over and over again. But the best way to do that? No idea! LOL

Thanks for stopping by, Keli!

smlgr8 said...

Congratulations on a great interview and your sale. I personally know what a great book it is having read it before the sale!


Renee Knowles said...

Hi Kris! Great interview! So happy for your success, and I'm anxiously awaiting your book release!

I agree with you about hot, sweeping historicals. Those are my favorite books. I like my romances sexy and with strong characters I can relate to.

And sparkling dialogue and wit will get me every time.

Wishing you continued success!


Carol Ericson said...

Hi Kris, congrats on your contract and GH finals! I'd really like to know what types of promotion work. I do a little of this, a little of that, try not to spend too much money on it - LOL. Even though I don't write historicals, I like to read them - go figure. I also enjoy contemp romantic comedies. I pick up a book for a variety of reasons - blurb, cover, buzz, or because I know the author. Series also get me hooked. I HAVE to pick up Eloisa James' next book in the Desperate Duchesses series because I read the first two and I HAVE to find out what happens to some of the characters.

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Summer of 2009 under the Aphrodisa line. What line will you publish under?

Kris Kennedy said...


Thanks for stopping by!

Yes, you did read the ms, and read it, and read it, LOL, and made tons of great suggestions that helped make it into a saleable ms.

Yeah for crit partners!

(Sorry for my delays--Blogger wasn't letting me in there for awhile.)

Kris Kennedy said...


Hey you! Right back at you, wishing success and happy writing.


Thanks for stopping by! Yes, a series can definitely hook a reader in. And 'buzz' too, although how to create that for ourselves?

Aside from writing a great book, that is. LOL

Name repetition (and therefore recognition) has to help. Blogging, ads, reviews.

I agree about the blurb on the back, BIG TIME.

But I always follow that up with reading the first page. Sometimes I flip to the middle, too, but not always. The first page will sell a book to me.

Kris Kennedy said...

Anitra Lynn,

(So sorry I left out the 'r' on your name first time around--can I blame my 3 y.o son? I blame him for everything else nowadays.)

A summer Aphrodisa release - fabulous!

THE CONQUEROR is due out Spring 2009, and I think it's just plain old Kensington line. :-)

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Kris, so glad you're here today!

Mai, another terrific interview. You have the talent, girl!

Kris, I'd love for you to share your author journey with us at Title Magic. I know your time will be eaten up with everything that goes with being an author -- but still, I want to know!

I think Kensington chose the perfect title, The Conqueror, for your novel, given how you described it.
I used to read everything romance historical for the reasons you said, being transported, to live the adventure and sigh -- and I've always adored history.
But then, I think, the genre hit a snag for awhile...and since paranormal and fantasy resonate with me so strongly, that's what I chose to write, although, often with historical elements.

Congratulations on all your success. And much, much more! I can feel it coming your way.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Kris! Great interview. :) Blurbs and first few pages of the novel are what help me decide to buy. I recently bought one of those Kensington Debuts -- Jeanne Adams -- based on the blurb and sample pages somewhere (her website maybe). But it was SOOOO good I had to know what happened! It's on my TBR pile now. :)

Lately, I love romantic suspense (the kind that treats the two elements as equals or strong partners, not the kind that is 10% romance), historicals as they start to experiment again, and some paranormal.

GH dress? I had one. I don't think it's going to work. Yes, I bought a dress I couldn't fit into knowing I could lose the 5 or 10 pounds necessary. And I HAVE lost the pounds. But when you can't properly try the dress on, you don't realize that maybe losing weight still won't help because whoever designed the dress designed it for women with B cups. *sigh* D's don't cram well into those cups. :(

Sandy said...

Hi Kris,
Great post, Kris. I'll definitely be interested in know what works to help promote your book.

I'll look forward to buying it in 2009. Congrats and good luck in the future.

I buy books by the blurb and the first page. The cover is what gets me to look at the blurb.


Kris Kennedy said...


What a warm welcome! Thank-you so much.

I'd be delighted to come back and blog again, and 'share the journey,'as you say. You ladies certainly have many journeys here among yourselves, and it's a pleasure to be welcome here to share a little of mine.

Paranormals are *totally* the same bag as historicals, in terms of the feeling of being transported (and not just the physical world), the sense that these characters are the same as us, but different, the extensive world-building.

It's great! :-)

Kris Kennedy said...


LOL on the dress issues. At least you lost the weight. I'm still working on it.

I agree-romantic suspense is a great option. You know the stakes are going to be high, and that definitely helps w/ pace.

So glad you bought a Debut author-- and that you KNEW it! LOL

Usually, people think they're cast-offs or re-releases or something. I, in my ignorance some time ago, didn't know what the "Special Price!" meant. It didn't seem good. :-)

Now, let me ask--did the lower price help you to buy, or were you 100% going to buy anyhow, based on reviews/buzz/etc?

Kris Kennedy said...


Thanks so much for stopping by!

I will certainly be trying to attend to what works, marketing-wise, and what doesn't. I have a feeling that may be hard to determine.

I have heard that one should focus on what one feels one is best at (lotta 'one's' there), and let the rest go. That feels right.

And yes, I'm with you on the blurbs and first page--that's why I buy. (And a consensus in the reviews from readers, if there is one.)

Question ~ do you notice a difference w/ that if you're buying on-line or in a bookstore?

i.e. do you read the first page and weight it more heavily in person, or does an amazon/website excerpt do the job just as well?

C.J. Redwine said...

Nice interview, Kris!

What makes me buy a book? You mean beyond my Must Have 12 Books Waiting To Be Read compulsion?

Hmmm...I scan covers and grab those that catch my interest - usually something dark, mysterious, and hinting that there will be plenty of suspense. Then I read the back. If that doesn't capture me, I put the book back unless it's an author I totally love (in which case, who am I kidding? I don't bother reading the backs on authors I know I want!).

I want books that rivet my attention from first word to last. I love a fast-pace, tightly-written plot with twists and characters that I immediately "get" and stakes that make me keep turning the page!

And I admit to being a Medieval junkie myself so I can't wait for your book to hit my shelf!

Kris Kennedy said...

LOL. Yes, I meant 'beyond compulsion,' what makes you buy?

But, as I think, even allowing for compulsion, we pick up one book over another. Why?

I totally agree with your thoughts about pace. And you're right--we have to 'get' a character right off, or why keep reading? It's THEIR story--if you don't like/care, why keep reading?

So, you're a cover girl, huh? :-) My only relationship w/ covers is trying to overcome my embarrassment enough to buy the books beneath some of them. :-) Amazon helps with that.

Thanks for stopping by!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I'm late answering! But Kris, it was the blurb and her opening that hooked me. Fabulous writing, awesome suspense and build up. :) I just HAD to know what happened next!

Sandy said...

This is going to make you unhappy, but I haven't bought on-line yet because I need a separate account from our household. We are so afraid of identity theft. What I have done is wait for the book to be released to print, then buy it.

However, sometime in the future when I start making money from my writing I'm going to open an account and buy books online and maybe even a reader.


Mai Christy Thao said...

Hi Kris, thanks for allowing me to conduct this wonderful interview. I'm a little late -- just got back from the mountains and recovering from a cold (ugh!), but I'd love to answer your questions.

What makes me buy a book beyond genre? I have a few tried and true auto-buy authors, such as Lynn Kurland and Lora Leigh. I love a clean, clear cover. The cover has to catch my attention. Also, I do take into consideration the title, but not nearly as much. If a cover piques my interest, I'll pick it up and read the back cover. If I'm still interested, I'll read the first page, and most likely skim through the book to see the author's writing style, voice, and how the love scenes are handled. Only if I'm still interested after that will I plunk down the money.

Let me also say that I love to buy books from new authors, mainly to see what editors and agents are buying. I've discovered a couple of great authors that way as well.

I'm looking to be transported away. I want a satisfying feeling when I finish a book. I want to get lost in whatever world the author has created, and I want to care for the characters I'm reading. But most importantly, as a reader, I want to remain a reader as I'm reading, meaning that anything that jars me and puts me into "writing" mode instead of "reading", will ruin a book for me. It has to be engaging enough to where I'm engrossed in the story and not thinking about the technical aspects of the book, and what the author should or should not have done.

I love historicals, far away kindoms, and alpha heroes. Give me fierce, tortured, eat-you-heart-out-sexy, dominant heroes that'll have the pages of the book burning!

Kris Kennedy said...


Thanks so much for the invitation to guest blog, and your wonderful interview!

A title will totally get me to pick up a book, even though they are often totally unrelated. Covers, I tend to try to ignore, b/c they might be silly too clinch-y, in which case, I may not buy. On the other hand, a *good* cover can induce a second look.

I love your description of a hero! Here's hoping you think to describe mine that way, come spring. :-)

Thanks again, Mai!