Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Winter 2020 Between the Keys Newsletter is Available

February 21, 2021

Isn't it confusing that only eleven days of winter happen in December and yet that December names the entire season? The winter of 2020 isn't over until March 20, 2021. Maybe it's just one more reason winter is generally a person's least favorite season. We're already confused due to lack of sunlight and warmth, and then the calendar screws with us. 

There was a time, in my distant writing past, when I was diligent about putting out a monthly newsletter. It was called Forrest Whispers because at that time only my alter ego published it. Jump to 2008 and I switched my focus and let the newsletter go. Fast forward to 2017 and I resurrected a newsletter and called it Between the Keys to stick with my "brand." I was doing okay until like so many others in my age group I was called upon to care for aging parents. I'm not complaining because life is what it is. I made the decision to relax and put out a newsletter when I have time to do so. 

The Winter 2020 edition of the Between the Keys newsletter is out! It's viewable in two locations - on my website and here at the blog

You're invited to check it out.

KC Kendricks

Monday, February 15, 2021

It's a matter of taste, isn't it?


Put a group of published authors together and sooner or later the talk will turn to book covers. What makes a good cover? What do book buyers really like? How do we win the book cover lottery? It's an important topic - to an author.

My own personal experience with book covers is mixed. It's gone both ways for me. I've had great covers that didn't seem to move many copies and downright horrible covers that did. Go figure. 

Back in the days of working with publishers, the idea was to suggest ideas to a cover artist. The cover should reflect the story. The cover should have key elements from the story. The writer submits a helpful form and BOOM! The cover comes back with two bare chests and no heads. So why did the form require a description of the main characters? It was a bit frustrating but so is making my own covers. 

Don't misunderstand me - I like the creative process of making a book cover. But days like today, when I went to one of the stock photo sellers, it gets tedious. In looking for just the right guy that fits the story, that feels like the main character, I found beards. Lots and lots of beards. I don't like beards. Beards strike me as lazy, especially if the guy doesn't keep it well-trimmed. 

I must have scrolled through a hundred pages of "sexy handsome man" photo and found nothing. And some I did see I know have been used repeatedly on other covers. All of a sudden a pair of bare chests seems like a really good idea. 

I've reached the point in writing July Heat that I need to get the cover created and I feel stymied by what I found. My preference is to see the character's faces, and if possible, his eyes. (There's a story about this title here.)

So it's going to take a bit longer than I thought to make the cover. I know some will say I should hire a cover artist, but that doesn't work for me. It's like asking someone to read my mind and then they fail at it and I have to pay them regardless. No, it's better I take a week or two and conduct a good search to find the right guys.  

In the end, some readers will like the cover and some won't. There is very little I can do about that. Readers will buy or not buy for reasons I may never know. What I do know is I need to create a cover that pleases me. At the end of the day, that's the bottom line on a cover. 





Sunday, February 14, 2021

A little upgrade for the office

February 14, 2021

Several years ago I moved my office from a spare bedroom to the sunroom. My house is surrounded by woods and I enjoy having a good view of what's happening outside around me. You'd think it would be a distraction, but it's proven not to be one. 

That's not to say I never grab the binoculars for a better look when the deer move in for a quiet afternoon in the shade. Or spend time sitting out on the porch spying on the neighbors hawks.   

The longer I stay with writing, the more my office becomes my nest. When I wrote the first book, I had a small corner of the spare bedroom and a cobbled-together desk. The chair wasn't so great, either. I got a new desk and chair, and then a file cabinet. My husband, ever a good carpenter, got a four-by-eight sheet of melamine-clad plyboard and installed a solid desktop. That worked for a few years until one day I spied my current desk. I made the jump from "good enough" to "big girl furniture." I'm still using that desk and credenza in the sunroom

Back in the days when I did interviews at various review sites, one of the questions was always what music do I listen to when I write? With the wonderful playlists on YouTube these days, it's a very eclectic mix. What seems to be more important to me is scent. What does my office smell like?

Well... several years ago a girlfriend started to sell Scentsy. I got a wax warmer and a few scented waxes for a Christmas gift and I've enjoyed changing the scent in my office every day since. That first warmer quit working a few days ago so I did what a lot of us are doing during this pandemic - I scurried to Amazon as fast as my fingers could click and ordered a new warmer. I also found liners for the wax! What a good idea! 

I ordered a small package of liners and I couldn't be happier with them. I'm not in the habit of recommending products, but I didn't know about them so I figure maybe other people don't know. They seem to be very sturdy, hold a good amount of wax, and can be reused at least once. If you like using the scented wax as much as I do, give those liners a try. I'm not an Amazon affiliate nor am I getting paid to give a review, so don't be afraid to click. 

As for what scents I like, it varies by season, but I'm a big fan of patchouli and sandalwood. It takes me back to my youth, back to the days of peace, pot, and Woodstock. I also like almost everything citrusy and spicy. Fruity scents are fine in the summer, but never in the fall or winter. 

So that's the blog for today. Now I must get some writing done before it's time for the Daytona 500. Can't miss that one.



Thursday, February 11, 2021

Another three inches

 

February 11, 2021

Don't go there.

Yes, I write romance with some, ahem, interesting love scenes, but that is not the "another" three inches to which I refer. I'm talking about snow. As in it is fucking snowing again. 

I'm so over this winter? Maybe not. 

In reality, this winter has been reminiscent of the winters we had when I was a girl. We actually had appreciable snow in December, and that pattern has carried through to at least today. 

Winter makes living on the side of a mountain very interesting - and beautiful. When it snows, the world becomes a quiet white cathedral. It's incredibly peaceful. The other side of that coin is one should not hop in a vehicle and expect to drive down the hill. One should prepare to slide down the hill. Better yet, one should plan ahead and stay home. In the case of the writer, she should stay home and write. 

That's the plan for today. As I work on this blog entry, it's predawn. To enjoy the snowfall, I've switched on the backyard floodlights and have a nice view out my window. The deer are moving along the top of the yard, close to the stone fence (I must tell the story of the stones someday). Quiet, graceful creatures, I wonder how they fare in this sort of weather but I dare not provide any food. My garden will be in enough jeopardy from them come summer. 

It's time for me to get to the manuscript, but I'm reluctant to miss any of the dawn. I've waited so many years to finally have that luxury and it feels like I'm cheating myself if I ignore it. There will be plenty of time to work on the manuscript today. And to enjoy the snow. One does not preclude the other. 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

A white cathedral

 

February 7, 2021

There are days when events align in magical ways. Today my grandfather would be one-hundred-eleven years old. Today, it's snowing, a wet, clingy snow that turned my woods into a white cathedral. 

My grandparents gave me the piece of ground I built my home on forty years ago. They loved the land and respected it as it provided so much for our family. Food, water, shelter, fuel, privacy, safety, and beauty. The land is a living thing. 

I was up before dawn this morning and settled at the computer. Like so many of us, I have remote controls for all sorts of gadgets and I switched on the backyard floodlights to watch the snow. Keeping an eye on the clock, as soon as I knew the sun, while still hidden by the thick cloud cover, would be above the mountain, Deuce and I went out to take pictures. 

Walking during a snowfall, it's easy to allow the white peacefulness to flow into your soul. The only sounds were those of Deuce's paws crunching through the snow and the calling of the young red-tailed hawk who fledged here last summer and never left. He's claimed my "territory" as his, but I'm sure we can peacefully coexist. If I thought he'd find it and eat it, I'd toss a raw chicken breast his way. Songbirds and squirrels are scarce during a snowfall and he may be in need of a snack. He also likes mice and moles, also scarce at the moment. 

That my grandfather loved this small part of the planet he cared for is not something I question. He did. I know it cost him to hand it over to me and is proof, to those who need such a thing, how well he loved me. Be it strange or not, I spoke to him on my walk through his white cathedral today. His response was all around me, keeping me warm on this cold, snowy morning.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Strange things in the Realm

February 1, 2021

So I posted a blog on January 28, just a few days ago. It was just a fluff piece about not much of anything. I like to just toss thoughts I think are interesting out into the Realm. It's a good thing to do to remind myself and others that we are still able to think for ourselves and Google doing our thinking isn't a good thing. Here's an example. 

I posted a blog on January 28. (Yeah, yeah, we already established that.) Looking at the Blogger stats, it would appear it was posted on January 26. I don't know about you, but that's scary. HOW did Blogger know I was going to write that post? Are the Ancient Alien theorists correct that we're all some great experiment and our actions are being directed to observe the outcome?

Blogger KNEW I was going to write a post on January 28 and it just tipped its hat. Now WE know that Blogger knows the future. Now we just have to pay closer attention. 

The next thing - how is Blogger calculating half a view? What does Blogger know about the half-people out there in the Realm? We're getting into some scary stuff here. 

Enough of pondering Blogger's place, or is that ranking, in the Realm of Cyberspace. In the real realm, I need to finish my coffee and go work on the WIP. Unless of course, the theorists are correct and even the real realm is an illusion. 

KC Kendricks
(with tongue firmly in cheek)



Thursday, January 28, 2021

Oh, Good Lord NO!!!!!

 January 28, 2021


Are we having fun yet? 

I want to thank Nickelback for immortalizing those five words. They are so apropos for the last ten months. They certainly sum up the evening of January 27, 2021, at least for me. 

What did you do, you ask? 

It's good to keep the hard drive of one's computer tidy. To that end, I ran the CCleaner. Did you know the CCleaner used to be called, quite eloquently to my way of thinking, the Crap Cleaner. Then we started to get oh-so-politically-correct. Life was more fun in the good old days before the word C-R-A-P scared the crap out of us. But I digress...

I ran the Crap...er....CCleaner. It does a great job but one of the side effects is the need to re-enter passwords. That shouldn't be a problem, but it has now become one. You see, I have a private email I use with a small group of friends. It's not like we can use a Yahoo Group any longer, is it? Anyway, we have this small group thing going for privacy. We've been chatting away for years with no end in sight. 

Shouldn't be a problem, should it? 

Yeah, it's a problem. Great Google seems to take exception to the fact I use Gmail for my private group time and a different email address for blogging. 

I just about had a meltdown when I couldn't access my blogs. I will soon have fourteen years of MY LIFE recorded here at Between the Keys. To not be able to access the memories would literally kill me. I don't know what I'd do. 

I figured it out, obviously, but I was truly panicked. I had to add myself. I had to change passwords. I had to verify I am ME. (Where the fuck did I leave my phone?!?!?! Where's my fucking phone?!?!? Honey, have you seen my mother-fucking phone?????) Yes, I swear like a sailor when I'm upset. My honey saved the day and called me so I could hear my phone ring and locate it.

In the end, all is well. My faith wasn't too badly tested, just my intelligence. My girlfriends are right where I left them and Deuce and I can blog to our heart's are content. 

Note to self: Don't leave your phone in your coat pocket. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Bourbon and Blues review - 4.4 overall at Goodreads

January 18, 2021

I confess I don't pay much attention to reviews when I'm buying a book. The same book is a different, and personal, experience for each person. I might think a book presented a wonderful story while the next person thinks it to be complete drivel.

This year, 2021, is what I'm calling the year of being intentional. I've been struggling with focusing on all things writing and that must change. That change can only manifest if I'm intentional. I'm off to a good start in January, having worked on the Rayne Forrest book and laid down the "first clicks" on a new KC Kendricks book. I also need to work on being more consistent with promotion. To that end, I chose Bourbon and Blues as the January focus. 

The Bourbon and Blues webpage has been updated, and I made one of the little promo cards that have been so popular on Twitter. This morning I went looking and found that Bourbon and Blues has a 4.4 overall rating at Goodreads! I did not know this (because I'd never looked). And just like that I already have to update the original promo card. We do live, learn, and improve. Next time, I'll do some checking before I make a promo card. 

Life is a bit unconventional and I like finding unconventional ways to bring my characters together. We don't always meet our perfect match at church, or a pub, or by way of well-meaning friends. What matters is that we recognize something in another person that marks them as special, and a match for us. 

Here's a bit about Bourbon and Blues. Enjoy!

*_*_*_*_*_*


Bourbon and Blues

KC Kendricks
Book 11 of The Men of Marionville series
Contemporary gay romance
4.4 rating on Goodreads

When Griff Ernde makes a late-day visit to the cemetery, the gates close with him on the inside. Griff ends up in a cell at the local precinct house charged with trespassing, and with no way to salvage the day. No doubt about, it’s a personal low in his life. Then his luck changed when Kory Watts joined him in the cell. 

Kory Watts has a knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Stood up on a blind date at a local club, Kory gets swept up in a drug raid and lands in a cell with an inebriated stranger. When his drug test comes back clean, the duty sergeant offers Kory a deal: if he takes Griff home, they both can go with no charges. It’s not a deal Kory will refuse. 

When Kory and Griff meet again, they agree to have a drink - of ice water. Neither man judges the other and it’s quickly apparent they share an attraction. As their budding relationship heats up, Kory wonders if he’s ready to get serious with a guy he just met no matter how well suited to each other they are. When Griff is suddenly charged with the murder of his father, Kory is ready to move heaven and earth to help prove him innocent, but it might not be enough to save what’s between them.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Fits and starts


January 11, 2021

With the holidays behind us, I am determined to be intentional about putting on my writer's hat. So far it's working well. Ten days into the new year and I've made more progress on the Rayne Forrest work-in-progress, and on a new KC Kendricks story. I've also made a few website updates (with more to come) and created promo cards for use on Facebook and Twitter. 

Amazon FINALLY uploaded the updated manuscript for the Rayne Forrest book, A Hero's Bargain. That led to finalizing the updates to Bourbon and Blues. I also made sure the Sundown Saga was set up on the new series feature Big A offers. 

So. Progress. 

I purchased a very inexpensive desktop tripod for my phone. If I'm going to share my writing "real," I need to practice first. The tripod will also be useful for sharing Deuce's world over on his blog, Deuce's Day. The dog could be a star if I gave him a bit more encouragement. 

Being content with the start of 2021 is, I think, important. Each step has been a small one, engineered to be successful. That gives me something to build on as the January chill drags on. It may seem like I'm working in fits and starts, but that's real life. Staying on top of everything requires a lot of flexibility, another keyword for the year 2021.




Friday, January 8, 2021

So...YouTube??

 January 8, 2021

How important is it to have a record of my "work" for posterity? Early on in my writing career, the most seasoned writers said to keep a record of everything you write. Every version of every draft of every manuscript complete with worksheets, notes, inspirational photos - The Works. The reasoning was you never know when you might hit it big and your scribbled notes become very valuable to the highest bidder. 

I get all that but I don't aspire to be another JK Rowling or a Clive Cussler. Or even Nora Roberts, if you want to stick to romance. It's not me. I like having a quiet life. When I write a story it's a story I want to live and then read. 

And so enter YouTube. 

The spousal unit and I have been watching a lot of YouTube these past few months. One evening he turned to me and said I should post my videos. Seriously? I take videos around the property for fun or to remember where something is planted, etc. Okay, so I've now posted some. Most are of Deuce for on his blog, Deuce's Day. So the question is, would I enjoy making a few writing videos? The jury is definitely out on that one. 

Videos of Deuce are easy. I want to always remember my time with him so even his naptime is precious to me even if no one else agrees. But videos of me as The Writer? 

I do a lot more than write, though. We've watched This Farm Wife walk through mud video after video hoping for something exciting to happen. The same thing with Outdoors With the Morgans. The man lives and breaths firewood. I know how to cut and split firewood so it's not very exciting. Then there are the "prepper pantry" folks. Those are actually educational, but I have little to add.  Or do I?

Those videos are about a unique perspective on life. That's the one thing we all have (unless we drank from too many pitchers of Kool-Aid and only know how to parrot rhetoric). Do I have a unique enough perspective to offer, too? 

I'm pondering the possibilities and experimenting with new-to-me software. We'll see where it leads.





Saturday, January 2, 2021

Amazon series feature - new to my bookshelf


 January 2, 2021

For some time now I've noticed how Amazon displays series information in a different way. Suddenly, just a few days ago, that feature popped up as part of my bookshelf control. It seems like a good idea so I thought I'd test it out. 

Note to self: trying new things at six o'clock in the morning, in the dark, before finishing that first cup of coffee - not a good idea. 

I decided I'd set up the Ian Coulter's Amethyst Cove series, and it was going well for the first three books, Double Deuce, Deuce of Diamonds, and Ace, Deuce, Trey. Then SNAP! I went back to add books four and five, Circle of Steel and Steel Wheels, and it had vanished. The panel said my updates were in review, but I wasn't finished and there was no option to continue past the first three books. 

In trying to make this a simple process, Amazon has complicated it. If I can't edit the feature is it really going to help me? Maybe. I can edit after the review process is complete. 

But I now have to wait seventy-two hours to see what my series feature will look like. If there's a preview option, I didn't see it. 

It's still dark outside and I have yet to finish my coffee. Maybe I'll learn something from this. You know - like wake up and engage your brain before you try shit like this. Bad author. 





Friday, January 1, 2021

2020 Retrospective

January 1, 2021

We've welcomed another New Year! Never did I dream, back in 2008, that I'd still enjoy blogging here at Between the Keys. That's the key - I still enjoy it. 

Life is a constant experience of change. We all saw that in the year just past. 2020 will not go down in the personal history of many people as a "good" year. And yet we have arrived here today triumphant over many adversaries, real and imagined. What I wanted to accomplish in 2020, and what I was actually able to do, are poles apart. And yet triumphant is the only way to describe how I feel. 

I wanted 2020 to be the year I once again made writing a priority. At the beginning of 2020, my partner's health had improved, my mother's condition had stabilized, I'd closed the door on settling my step-father's estate, and my finances were aligned in such a manner that I could, and still can retire at any time. I penned a cheery little poem to welcome the year. Little did any of us know what was ahead. 

Enter Covid-19 and its devastation. The heart has been ripped out of so many families by what I firmly believe is man's combined avarice and stupidity. Something sinister lies in the center of this pandemic and I don't believe it's a bat. 

2020 delivered the most massive changes I've ever lived through. Never did I expect I would live to see the shelves at the grocery stores be empty. My thoughts continually turned to my grandparents and what life must have been like for them during the Great Depression.  We were ordered by our government to remain home unless we were considered essential personnel by an employer. We are still under orders to wear a face-covering in public. Life in the United States changed rapidly and drastically and I fear it has been forever altered. 

The 2020 Retrospective

January 2020 saw me back to the writing. I had a work in progress, The Quest, and was keen to get it finished. In February, we began to hear bits and pieces about a serious outbreak of a new virus in China. The news escalated until in March we were all suddenly under stay-at-home orders and the rush was on for toilet paper. Seriously. The Great Toilet Paper Shortage was also upon us. 

Late in 2019, I began a new blog, Holly Tree Manor, to chronicle our rural life. It wasn't until the end of January that I decided to keep it going. It's hard to judge if it's the sort of thing anyone would be interested in, but it's important to me to journal these days. 

 April found me working from home. I again contemplated retiring but didn't want to lose my employer-paid health insurance. I penned a reflective blog entitled What We Will Remember and attempted to get some work done. 

In May I finally realized that part of my problem was grief over the loss of my writing buddy, Chris Grover. The approaching anniversary of her death left me questioning why I continue to write when there are so few writers left from the time I was first published. They say writing is a lonely profession and that is correct when no one around you speaks the language. 

But summer was here. There were fawns, fledgling hawks, fox kits, and for the first time in years a growing garden. My employer decreed I needed to once again work in the office, which did not please me but I went. By the end of summer, I was canning produce and developing a "prepper pantry" to be more prepared for the next wave of Covid-19.  By the middle of October, it was clear the second wave was upon us, and once again I was able to work from the safety of my home office. 

The middle of October also saw The Quest published! I cried with relief to have the project finished. The last thing I wanted was for 2020 to be the first year since 2003 I didn't publish a book. At the close of 2020, I'm working to finish a
Rayne Forrest manuscript. It's almost done and I do wonder why I didn't finish it sooner. I suppose I got sidetracked on all the KC Kendricks books, but taking a journey back to my writing roots is good for me.  

Not all of 2020 was contentious, but our presidential election certainly was. If I ever doubted (and I did not) that politics are a sham, 2020 proved it over and over again. Our Constitution weighs in favor of individual rights. Everyone remembers that. No one seems to care for the responsibilities that come along with it. That's all I can say on that subject. 

I can't see into the Year of our Lord Two Thousand Twenty-one. I wish I could. All any of us can do is go forward in faith, one day at a time. I hope you'll stay with me on my journey. 

KC Kendricks







Saturday, December 26, 2020

Capping off Christmas

 
December 26, 2020

We're going to hear it said a lot - this Christmas was different. Can I get an "amen!"? I'll settle for you muttering under your breath, "you got that shit right." In the year 2020, it's about the same thing. 

No, I'm not making fun of Christians. It's the faith to which I espouse. Lighten up, folks. 

I'm part of the generation which, so it seems, was the first to be vocal about the commercialization of Christmas. Christmas is big money. I'm curious as to what the retail numbers will be this year. Our own personal experience with Christmas buying is not a good marker. We tend to discuss our needs and wants and settle on that one big thing we agree on instead of a bunch of little things. This year we decided to wait until spring to make that purchase since it's for outside. 

But what we received this Christmas isn't something we could purchase. I spoke with my two closest male cousins which did my heart good. I left a message for another cousin and I hope she'll be able to call me back today. My partner's siblings all joined together in a facebook chat (or zoom or whatever) with various spouses and offspring wandering in and out in the background. It was a welcomed connection to family.

Back in the day, I wasn't much of a fan of the digital lifestyle. I foresaw us being exactly where we are, although I never saw a pandemic coming. I saw the reliance on digital or virtual as the end of the personal gatherings. One of my friends used to shake her head at me, telling me that going digital was a great way to keep tabs on a friend without putting up with all their shit. She was right. I do that with her. 

Our Christmas was a solitary one. It's really good that after twenty-six years we still tolerate each other pretty well. The one cousin popped in with his new puppy but outside those ten minutes, we had our solitude. Last Christmas, I penned a light-hearted little poem entitled The Elder and The Crone. It was meant in fun but has deeper significance this year. 
 
So as the hours of Christmas 2020 ticked away, the Elder and the Crone enjoyed a slice of bourbon-laced sweet potato pie and some heavily spiked eggnog. After that, the two old farts fell asleep in their respective recliners while the dog put himself to bed. It was a great way to cap off this particular Christmas. 

KC Kendricks



Thursday, December 24, 2020

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Are breaks really a good thing?

 December 19, 2020


Are purposeful breaks a good thing? My answer is it depends. The old adage to "write something every day" has never worked well for me. It works well three days a week since I don't work at the day job Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but the other four days of the week? Not so much.
 
Knowing that for four days a week I'll be too emotionally tired to write has always been an annoyance and frustration for me. The year 2020, well, who can adequately describe 2020? What usually happens to me is that I'll come home from the day job and want to write until I sit in the chair and stare at the monitors. Then I sort of crash. It's very unproductive. 

We've arrived at what is my annual Christmas break, that time from the weekend before Christmas to January 2. It feels like a cheat to take the time off. I've almost finished a Rayne Forrest story and it would be great to kick-off 2021 with a new release. 

Sometimes it really works to tell myself I can't do something. I believe writers should be well-rounded in knowledge. That doesn't mean an expert. It means to take an interest in many topics - except politics. That shit will rot your brain. My planned breaks are so I can indulge myself by working with genealogy, ancient cities and peoples, crafts, cooking and baking, and planning a spring garden. This year I've added spying to my repertoire of interests. We bought a trail camera to keep an eye on the deer in the west woods. Something is having way too much fun out there at night and we think it's a coyote. 

Just typing the words "I'm on a break" has me itching to open the folder and work on the story. Any story. It's not only the Rayne Forrest story I have on the plot board. 

Maybe a huge part of staying motivated is getting myself to relax. The thing I've wanted in my life, above all else, is at hand. If not for the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to maintain really good health insurance, I would have retired back in June 2020. I came so close....

It snowed a few days ago providing me with a winter wonderland vista outside the windows of my sunroom office. Maybe if I write a few hundred words, I can take a break and go wander about the manor. Then tomorrow I can watch the footprints melt. I've got to fit that imagery in a story now. 

First day of being "on break" and already I have a new idea to jot down. Breaks can be good. 

KC Kendricks