Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Retrospective and the Kendricks 800

December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve

As I begin this entry, I think it's significant to note it's number eight-hundred here at Between the Keys. I wonder what reasoning the universe had for arranging for the Kendricks 800 to fall on New Year's Eve? One shouldn't discount any possibility. 

The word 'retrospective' conjures a bit of nostalgia. We tend to view the past through a rosy lens when we keep our focus on a brighter future. Some years, achieving that rosy glow on past events takes a little longer. Sometimes there is no rosy glow. So it will be for parts of 2016. 

I had BIG PLANS for 2016. I put eight books in development, all set in the fictional town of Marionville. I figured I could write four in 2016 and four in 2017. Now I think the project will run into 2018. 

The Year of our Lord Two Thousand Sixteen dawned with the anticipation of the release of Fly By Night at Amber Quill Press. Day 2 of 2016 saw that vision crushed with the announcement Amber Quill was shutting down, ceasing operations. I was, in a word, dismayed. I knew having forty books with one publisher was a gamble. I knew, given that the quality of the covers and editing had slipped, something was a bit off. I'd already self-published Hey, Joe and a couple of the old Rayne Forrest books to test the do-it-yourself waters. Darn good thing as it turned out. 

And now it seems 2016 is closing on a similarly dismal note. On December 28, 2016, Lori James announced the closing of her company, All Romance eBooks on December 31, 2016. The fourth quarter settlement she's willing to give publishers/self-published authors is laughable. I immediately pulled all the titles I have control over off her storefront. (How can you lose money on just a digital storefront?) It looks like the prophecy is coming true. Amazon is the only viable game in town.

Now to recap the year that was - 2016.

Scramble mode. With Amber Quill closing on March 30, I had ninety days to improve my Photoshop skills and get covers made. Then my mother had surgery and my world really went to hell. 

January 22 also brought us the Blizzard of 2016. On January 23, my county had its fourth-highest twenty-four-hour snowfall since records have been kept - 21.4 inches. Everything took a backseat to keeping our 975-foot long lane passable. 

In 2015, I had contacted several Labrador Retriever breeders in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Remarkably, the one a mere ten miles from my home finally emailed with the news she had a litter, and did I want to come to select a pup? I broke every speed limit getting there. Did I choose Deuce or did he choose me? I don't know or care. If I survive the extended puppyhood Labs have, he'll be a great dog. 

Work continued on SABRE, as did making covers to self-publish the back list.


Amber Quill closed on March 30. On March 31, Fly By Night went live. Fly By Night had been under contract but never released. I've often wondered why AQP even issued a contract on FBN. 

We brought Greenbrier Smokey Deuce home on March 14. I'd like to be able to say I kept working, but I think I spent at least two weeks spending every moment with the puppy so he'd bond with me. What was I thinking???? I now have two shadows. 


The first batch of books was republished, including Double Deuce, Deuce of Diamonds, Ace Deuce Trey, and Circle of Steel. I was thrilled to get the ball rolling. 

In years past, I enjoyed participating in the annual A to Z Blogging Challenge. In 2016, not so much. I made the decision this would be the last year. 

Bored, Stroked, and Blueprinted was re-released through Loose Id. I was with LI many years ago. My experience with the editorial staff wasn't positive, then or now.  It's like dealing with a used car salesman. It's "upper management" this, and "upper management" that. If one's editor is being micro-managed then you are being micro-managed multiplied. Just admit it - big mistake. 

SABRE was released in May. Confession time - I saw this guy and had to write a story for him. I rifled through the ideas folder and realized he was perfect for a "secret agent" idea. The downside of this tale is I wanted to do a SABRE series. That got put on hold when I had to shift gears and indie publish the backlist.  Now I know a SABRE series won't happen. I told his story in one book.

SABRE reached No. 7 on the All Romance eBooks bestseller list. I was thrilled! Then I realized I'd never checked to see how Fly By Night did on the list. Live and learn. 

My spring vacation was spent playing with Deuce and not writing. Priorities, you know. 

With a good portion of the backlist republished, I finally got to work on the plan to revisit Marionville with The Right Brew. 

The Right Brew was released and immediately hit the All Romance eBook bestseller list! It really gave me a much-needed mental and emotional boost. 

This month found me still re-publishing backlist items and lazing in the pool. Things were busy at the day job as everyone filled in for others to cover for vacations. I picked and pecked at my ideas folder to flesh out character bios for the next Marionville book, and got Where There's Smoke underway. 

What's not to like about a month that starts with a week off from the day job? Yes, I finally got my turn and I only used four vacation days. Waiting until last gives me Labor Day as part of the vacation. It also gave me the opportunity to do a lot of work on Where There's Smoke. 

Then I tossed a new paranormal into the mix. It's a shapeshifter, but it's not part of the Sundown saga.

Where There's Smoke was released on the 22nd and immediately climbed the ARE bestseller list to #5. Deuce posed for his first book cover. He's a twitchy little doggie model. Extremely difficult to work with. And he demanded food after every shot. In the end, he did give me what I needed. What's male for diva? Divo? He is one.

I also started on the next Marionville story. The character of Kory was introduced in WTS and savvy readers will pick out the crossover scene between Leon (Smoke's dad) and Kory. 

With my mother in an Alzheimer's care facility, my personal life is in a time of transition.  As the holiday season approached, I was tempted to throw my hands in the air and run away from home.

As the month progressed, so did work on Kory's story. I decided on a title, made a cover, and did the template for a page at my website. I got Undeniable formatted and then decided, with the holiday season upon me, to wait until the new year to release anything else.  

I will admit it. December isn't my favorite time of year. The weather turned cold. Work continued in the realm of Marionville - when I worked. The day job had me pulling my hair out, and I breathed in something that sent me into fits of coughing that lingered for days. After I recovered from whatever airborne spore laid me low, I did some good writing. I just wish it had all been on the same story! (I spread it around in December.)

And so we've arrived at the eve of the new year. My beloved and I have no great plans to celebrate. We'll ring in 2017 quietly - or as quietly as Deuce will allow. I suspect we'll select a favorite movie, settle in front of the television, and do our best to stay awake until midnight. With or without us, 2017 will arrive. 

As always, to those who follow along here at Between the Keys I wish you health, happiness, peace in your heart, and great joy in the New Year. 


 KC Kendricks

My home on the web- Between the Keys: 
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Social media links:
Life through the eyes of my black Lab, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce:
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Snips and clips on my YouTube channel: KC Kendricks Between the Key

Friday, December 30, 2016

All Romance eBooks closing December 31, 2016

December 30, 2016

With Lori James of All Romance eBooks closing her company in a HUGE breach of contract, not to mention trust, good faith, and obviously some not-so-special business practices, lots of incredible information is coming to light. 

For the interested, of which I am one because she's stealing money from me, below are some links to articles by people who know a lot more about it than me. 

I wonder how many more blows the industry can absorb and remain viable. Every remaining ebook publisher will be impacted by this. Thousands and thousands of dollars will not be going to authors, and publishers, by this breach of faith. 


Celina Summers on Blog Critics - very detailed

Smart Bitches Trashy Books

Karen Knows Best

Mark O Randazza - a bit off topic but I found it both enlightening and wildly funny

Romance Writers of America (RWA) - typical response of words that mean very little

As of yet, Writer Beware hasn't weighed in. I trust what Victoria Strauss posts so I'm curious to see what she says. Check her out any day for insightful information.

Be sure to read the comments section at these blogs. They contain additional information from varied authors. 

I'm betting Lori James and Co. certainly do have "a path forward" all mapped out, all of it on other people's money. Remember that phrase - "a path forward." I think it says it all about Lori James. Some of you will know exactly what I mean.    


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve with the eleven month old (pup, that is)

December 24, 2016

It's long been a tradition of mine to bundle up against the December chill and take a walk through the woods to the old pond. With very few exceptions, my companions on these walks have been four-footed, not two. My human partner in life suffers from a nerve neuropathy and walking causes him pain. Last year, I walked alone having lost my beloved Jett in May.

This year is different. Deuce is my constant companion and he loves walking in the woods more than I do. Being young, he covers the ground with long strides, ranging far from the path following scent. His joy at being out and free is evident in his expressive eyes. And I find joy in watching him run and explore.

Our walks begin with a few Frisbee tosses because he loves his Frisbee. It also burns off the first rush of excitement. Then we take just a few minutes to review leash etiquette. I think this important in case we meet others walking in the state park. Duece needs to come to me quickly and be well-behaved so he doesn't make a nuisance of himself until we can continue in private. He also discourages interaction with strangers.

Time was only the locals walked in "my" woods. I miss those days. City folk come to the state park and get lost in the woods because they don't stick to the marked trails. I know where I'm going. These folks end up in my front yard with no idea where they are or which direction takes them back into the park to find their car so they can bolt back to the safety of some city. But I digress...

Today our walk is in jeopardy. I woke to the sound of rain on the bedroom window. When I stepped outside with Deuce (so he could do what a dog needs to do first thing in the morning) I discovered it's a cold, driving rain with a brisk wind. A light mist I think we could bundle up against, but not this. This is a bone-chilling, damp cold. Deuce's thick fur won't protect his paws from the wet, near-frozen ground.

Perhaps later in the day, the clouds will move on and we'll get to go on our walk. Perhaps not. It may turn out to be a good day to finally do website updates while doing some laundry. I also need to send short thank you notes for a few Christmas gifts I received from work-related contacts, those gifts being more about what I do professionally than me personally and therefore requiring a note.

Whichever path the weather puts me on will be fine. Deuce and I can walk or spend the day lounging in my study. I can play one of his doggie DVDs to keep him entertained while I work on the website. Either way, sometime today, rain or no rain, two strip steaks and a hamburger pattie will hit the grill. After that, the three of us, myself, the spousal unit, and the young dog will likely spend a quiet evening watching old Christmas movies. 

As for our walk in the woods, there's always tomorrow or the day after. I'll make sure the young dog gets a good run. Maybe he'll feel the spirits of Callahan and Jett walking with us. I know I will. 

Merry Christmas Eve to you and yours. May you spend the day doing the things you love to do.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Test driving temptation

December 19, 2016

If you're lucky, once in your life you'll have a love affair with a true bad boy. 

Mine started in 1989 and ended in 1992. 

I met JRH at our place of employment. It wasn't like we took one look at each other and turned into animals. Nope. Nothing like that. 

It started small. I worked there first. He was the new guy in the yard. He walked into my office and greeted me with a big smile. 

"Hey, doll," was his opening volley and from that day on, he always greeted me like that. The other girls in the office snickered but I think they were jealous. That and they didn't understand the connection J and I had. We were country folk. Mountain born and bred. We spoke a different language from the city girls.

Sometime during the summer of 1989, I needed a new kitchen faucet installed. I asked him if he could stop by the house and do it for me. He did, and we sat on the porch and talked until midnight. After that, he'd stop in from time-to-time and we'd talk. By the end of that year, things between us really heated up. 

I knew from the start it wasn't forever. What we wanted in life was poles apart. He played hard and drank harder. Not what I want in a mate. But, oh, did the man tempt me, and apparently, I did the same to him. We knew the shortcut into temptation and we took it. 

We crammed a lot of fun into a short time. Did I love him? Of course, but being "in love" with him never happened. Even sitting next to him on the porch, I knew. I was restless for something different. 

Eventually, he asked me to marry him. I said no. He started to drift away. I was sad, but I understood. Life went on, but I still look back at those few months with a real bad boy and smile. We told each other secrets, you know. 

Sometimes a girl has to say "yes" to temptation.

KC Kendricks 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Netting Neptune for the last MSS of 2016

December 17, 2016
**Updated 4/2/21 - The My Sexy Saturday blog hop has been closed.**

Welcome to another My Sexy Saturday blog hop! It's difficult to believe this is the last one of 2016, and that 2017 is just around the corner. 

Since it's December, and seasonably cold in my world, I thought it a nice idea to go someplace warm. Here are seven sexy paragraphs from Netting Neptune, the book that launched the Southern Cross collection. 

And no, Neptune doesn't refer to fantasy. Wet dreams? Maybe. 

Theron hesitated for the space of a heartbeat, then nodded. “To new friends.”

We sipped together, and I sat mesmerized by the muscles moving in his throat as he swallowed. My lips tingled as I imagined the feel of this skin along his jaw line under the bristly texture of day-old whiskers.

“You’re going to need some fresh clothes for tonight, and a shower and shave. We’re the about the same size. After we eat, my suite is your suite.”

Theron’s green gaze filled with amusement. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to get me out of what little clothing I own.”

I took another sip of tea. “Considering you’re only wearing swim trunks, how hard can it be?”

He froze for an instant, a sheepish expression taking form on his handsome face. Well, well, well. I grinned at him. “I’ll behave, I swear.”

“Right. I’ve got your number, Colby Denton.”

About Netting Neptune:

Theron Bowman is in the throes of a life crisis. He needs to make some serious decisions about his future, ones that will help him escape his past. He splurges on a two-week vacation in the Caribbean, and like everything else in his life, things quickly go awry and he ends up working at the Southern Cross resort to pay for his room. 

Forced by his father to break ties with his family, Colby Denton drifted until he came to rest on St. Lucia. With nothing to lose, he rolled the dice and bought a run-down hotel and turned it into a popular resort. To celebrate his tenth year on the island, and his birthday, Colby arranges for a series of festive beachside parties. When a sexy sea god swims out of the ocean in front of him, Colby has a brand new birthday plan – netting Neptune.

Netting Neptune is available at Amazon, iTunes, and at other online booksellers. 

Please check out all the My Sexy Saturday participating blogs here

KC Kendricks

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gene Simmons

December 11, 2016

I begin this post with a bit of trepidation. If you're a regular here, you know I rarely dip into the political. Today looks to be a bit different - on many levels. It's a result of my utter surprise after viewing an interview granted to AXS by Gene Simmons of KISS. 

I like KISS. Four guys having fun making music and spectacle.  I saw them perform live circa 1978 at the old Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. It could have been 1977 or 1979, hence the use of the word circa. The exact year hardly matters now. It was a great show and I have fond memories of a having a good time with friends.

Gene Simmon's onstage persona has always baffled me, but I'm not into demons. Baffled, I said. Not bothered. It's his gig and he runs with it. Good for him. But what I never knew until this past week is the persona hides an intelligent and articulate man. 

Now to the point. 

The man has made some mistakes in his life. Who hasn't? What blew me away is the fact he didn't make excuses for himself. He didn't blame anyone else. He OWNED his mistakes. He unapologetically said, to condense and paraphrase, he did what he did and like all of us, he's matured and now does better. Yes, I'm impressed. Not that he needs me to be. 

Then he went on to touch on his political views. I probably looked stupid sitting there in front of the television with my mouth hanging open. Of the topics he addressed, the man articulated everything I also believe. Social issues - live and let live. Fiscal issues - we need to be more accountable. Giving back - the man does it quietly and out of the spotlight with programs he himself funds and oversees. 

And then he delivered impassioned words about the music industry and piracy. Artists and writers spend a lot of time creating without proper recompense. In our culture, in our digital age, people have come to believe music and prose should be free. The artists and writers suffer to the point the best talents drop out because they can't make a living doing what they do best. It's a lack of structure that has fostered an environment that is stacked against those with talent. Anyone who obtains a work without paying the creator of the work is a thief. Yes, he put the name right on them. Thieves. Gene Simmons does not mince words. 

As a LEGAL immigrant to America, he spoke on his position on immigration. Everyone should hear what he has to say because he's lived it which makes him an authority on it. Gene Simmons loves America. 

I don't want to paste the link to the video of the interview because I don't want YouTube popping it up here on my blog, but go to YouTube and search "AXS Gene Simmons." The entire interview is about forty-five minutes because they've clipped out the commercials. I found it because I wanted to see the interview a second time. I may have to watch it a third time. 

A question often asked, in a philosophical vein, is if you could pick anyone in the world to have dinner with, who would you choose? I never had a satisfying answer for that one. Now I do. Gene Simmons. 

Who the hell knew...

KC Kendricks

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG - Silver Bells

December 7, 2016

The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well 
understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation. 
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States of America

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
ring- a- ling, hear them ring,
soon it will be Christmas day.

Christmas is for many the most wonderful time of the year. All the lights, the sparkle, the music (old and new), the hustle and bustle of shopping. All the glitter can be visually pleasing if, that is, I don't think about how the time I have for myself gets squeezed down to minutes a week. I understand it, but I don’t always like it much. 

Time was, I tried to force everything into a day. The old adage is “write something every day.” That really doesn’t work for me, but oh, I did try. I thought I was the queen of multi-tasking. It didn’t work and I gave up on the idea of extreme multi-tasking. I don’t have to work, take care of my partner, parents, friends, and write every day. Do I compartmentalize my life? Yes, I do. Is that a good thing? Perhaps not, but it keeps me sane.

With the Christmas season upon us, I know it’s time to concentrate on family and friends. Some of those friends are other writers and readers so I don’t totally abandon the Internet to be with family, but I do deliberately divide out my time.

When I first deliberately didn’t write, it was mentally difficult. I’d made plans with a friend to go Christmas shopping for the day. It started to snow so we cut our day short. I suddenly had time to write. The thing was, I was tired. I flopped in front of the television. And that’s when the guilt started to pick at me. I was wasting precious time, and for what? Television? The tv was a waste, and so was beating myself up over it. 

Long story short, I overcame the guilty feelings and continued to relax. It occurred to me a rested writer is a productive writer. 

And you know what? The sky didn’t fall and I learned this lesson - I don’t have to cram multiple activities into one short day, especially at this busy time of the year. There really is time for me to try to enjoy the holiday season and that’s what I plan to do.

I plan to be deliberate with seeing family and friends. I’ve planned time for baking cookies, decorating, a little shopping, and yes, a little writing - just not all at once. With any luck, by the time Epiphany rolls around, my house and life will be all squared away for the New Year, all without driving myself crazy.

And you know what? Come January, I can jump back into my regular routine of attending to the business of writing every day renewed and ready to kick 2017's ass. 
- - - -

To all the participants of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group - A very merry Christmas and holiday season! May your traditions bring you comfort and joy.

KC Kendricks

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Catching Fireflies for MSS 169

December 3, 2016

Welcome to the first Saturday in December and another My Sexy Saturday blog hop. My Sexy Saturday connects authors and readers with excerpts from current and upcoming romance fiction. 

Be sure to check out the list at the bottom of this post for the complete list of those authors participating today. 

For my part in today's blog hop, here are seven sexy paragraphs from Catching Fireflies, part of the Southern Cross collection. Enjoy!
No one even glanced in our direction so I leaned toward him. “Um, sure. A walk would be nice. If I try to hold your hand are you going to stop me?”

“That’s all you can hold tonight, sugar. I don’t know anything about you, and I have to make sure you don’t bite before we get to know each other better.” He looked down then slowly lifted his beautiful gaze back to mine. “And you’re hiding something.”

I shivered as the memories of the vicious blows I’d received at the hands of strangers taunted me.

“I only nibble the occasional earlobe, and my secrets are my own, Aubrey. There’s nothing in them to hurt anyone else.”

He studied me for a few moments, his fascinating blue gaze enigmatic. “Fair enough, Dale.” He sighed. “I do have my own. What?”

“I could stare into your eyes forever.”

Aubrey didn’t blink. “If I had a dollar for every time some tomcat said that to me, I’d be rich."

Dale Langley longs for some triple R time - rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. He accepts his cousin’s invitation to winter over on Ocracoke Island, far away from the hustle and bustle of life on the mainland. He’s always loved being a rolling stone, traveling for his job without the worry of a place to call home, but it’s time for something different. Now Dale anticipates several blissful months to learn how to be still with no demands on his time while he prepares for the next phase of his life.

Aubrey Zimmerman came to Ocracoke to attend a friend’s commitment ceremony. Never one to settle down, Aubrey’s had enough of involvements that took him from man to man without a place to call home. He needs a break - and a little solitude. House sitting while his friend is on his honeymoon is the perfect way to clear his head and catch up on his sleep. At least it seemed that way until Dale arrived and Aubrey realized sleep is the last thing he needs.

Fate has changes in store for Dale and Aubrey, the sort neither one knew they wanted. Sometimes the more you wander the closer to home you get. 

Catching Fireflies is available at
AmazoniTunes/AppleBarnes and NobleKobo,
and other online booksellers. 

KC Kendricks