Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Retrospective and the BTK 1000th entry

December 31, 2019


Today marks my 1000th blog entry. It's strangely fitting it should be a year-end retrospective. It does feel to me that this year now ending is closing quite a few doors in my life. But as they say, I see new doors opening and the only decision is which one to step through first.

I'm not sure what to say about 2019. I started the year with some hope of achievements to come. I did achieve, just not what I'd anticipated. Looking back at the 2018 retrospective, it's difficult to acknowledge just how skewed this year now ending really was and how the events impacted my life.

The year started off with my partner recovering from serious neck surgery, my stepfather in an assisted living facility for respite care, and my mother under flu quarantine in a different total care facility. I'm not a caregiver by nature, but there we were.


With everyone in either rehab or a care facility, I had one week of quiet. I managed to re-release A Friendly Neighbor in January before the siege on my time began in earnest.

I began to worry about my writing partner, Chris Grover. We emailed back and forth every day for years - since 2008. We shared a special language, that of the published writer. Her health was slipping and she began to miss days. She was diagnosed with bronchitis around February, which I now know was not the problem. Eventually, in June, she was told she had lung cancer and died two weeks later. I still miss her emails. They were full of writing abbreviations such as HEA. The writer's language is like no other. I'm disturbed her books are still available when I know she left instructions they be taken down but I have no way to accomplish that for her.

I made some headway on Memphis, but not enough.

While my life partner improved after his neck surgery, my stepfather went into a serious decline. Home health care nurses and therapists visited my home three days a week for RC, but my stepfather refused such care. Jack died on May 13, 2019. RC had a third surgery on May 24. We screened in the patio and he spent afternoons relaxing outside in a bug-free space.

After my stepfather's death, it fell to me to handle his affairs. The house is up for sale and when it's sold, everything is done. My mother's final expenses are pre-paid and there will be few legal matters to settle when she passes. Strange how months and months of hard work and personal heartache can be summed up in one short paragraph.

I hit a major personal milestone this year. Retirement calls to me every day now. It's this little voice that whispers, "give it up...stay home...be the lady of the manor the way you've always wanted..."  I gave in. I issued an ultimatum to my employer: I work a four-day week or I don't work. (Yes, I did it nicely.) I now work Tuesday - Friday and I love it! My yard hasn't looked this good in years, and my home office sparkles! This is proving to be the perfect way for me to ease into the "retirement" years. 

Over the summer, I revamped the cover for Kentucky 98 Proof, one of my favorite stories. Yes, the author is allowed to have favorites. I think it works better than previous versions. A Hard Habit to Break, The Right Brew, and Highway Nights all benefitted from my improving Photoshop skills.   Several other covers got a rework, as well. I tried to give one or two the mottled, abstract backgrounds that are so popular today, but swirlies just don't work for me. 

Having an extra day a week led to actual writing time. I finally finished Memphis and it went live in November. One new release in a calendar year is a far cry from the seven to nine books I'm capable of, as I've proved many times over. It was easier with a publisher. I wrote. They published. Now I do it all and that's just the way it is.

What's next? What will 2020 bring? After this year, I fear it's tempting fate to even ask. Looking back and being honest, every year has brought the unexpected. My writing career is, at this moment, not what I had anticipated. But I have this folder of ideas... of half-formed thoughts...of titles and names...of possibilities.  

I opened this golden folder after Memphis went live and lo and behold, there was Chapter One of an idea, something started so long ago I'd all but forgotten it. A quick read, a couple of tweaks, and that story has been launched to my desktop for the addition of serious prose. I'm excited about writing it - more excited than I've been in a year! Or maybe more excited than I've allowed myself to be in that time frame. 

To all my readers, to those of you who follow along here at Between the Keys - THANK YOU! 
I appreciate the continued support. 

May 2020 bring good health to all, enough wealth to reach our dreams, and family and friends to walk beside us along the way.

KC Kendricks


The 2018 Retrospective

The 2017 Retrospective

The 2016 Retrospective

The 2015 Retrospective

The 2014 Retrospective

The 2013 Retrospective

The 2012 Retrospective









Saturday, December 28, 2019

Renewals

December 28, 2019

And so we come to the last few days of The Year of Our Lord Two-thousand Nineteen. I'm grateful for another five-day stretch at home. It's getting more and more difficult to remain in the workforce. I am so very blessed to be able to contemplate retiring well before sixty-five. 

To me, retirement represents a time of renewal. Being forced into the role of caregiver, my writing stalled. I'm not afraid to admit I resent that happened. Don't judge lest it happen to you. Anyway, time and space are realigning and I'm able to write. Writing is a major part of my retirement plan. 

I've also had the opportunity to reconnect with the spousal unit. His health is not robust, but he's pretty self-sufficient at the moment. It was just bad luck that both he and my stepfather needed care at the same time. After my stepfather's death, RC was able to provide a lot of support while I settled affairs. He can sort stacks of invoices, product manuals, old receipts, and old photos with the best of them. And he'll work on that crap for hours at a time, having excellent focus for that sort of work. I feel like we weathered a huge storm and have arrived at the other side intact. Spending quality time with the man, the dog, and the cat is a major part of my retirement plan. 

Losing contact and closeness with old friends seems to be pandemic these days. Everyone bemoans this shared experience. Many simply accept it as part of aging. I don't think I want to do that. Reconnecting with those I hold dear is a major part of my retirement plan. 

So there's a few of my thoughts as this old year comes to a close. It was certainly not my best year ever, but maybe not the absolute worst. I think 1983, when Dad died, holds that distinction. It grieves me a bit he never lived to be able to contemplate "retirement." He was only fifty-four and I know his early death is the main reason I so badly wish to leave the workforce now. People should have a long "retirement" the way my grandfather did. He had thirty years to live as he pleased, enjoying his garden and flower beds, his dogs, and all of nature surrounding him. 

Now it's time to work on the 2019 retrospective. It won't be full of the writing life, that's for sure. But as always, those ancient words from Ecclesiastes 3 ring true. This year now ending was the season, and the time, it was supposed to be for me. I accept. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.


KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas 2019

December 25, 2019

Of Christmas snow, I would wish
for it to kiss the ground
Pristine and white falling down, 
to the earth forever bound

Silent night gives way to day, 
quiet stirrings under brightest rays
The fire warms, the cat sleeps on, 
wrapped in quiet, steeped in peace

The elder and the crone, as we have now become
Sip coffee and smile, hidden behind our walls
Tasks fulfilled, our legacy fading (as it should)
Indulgent to our past, memories notwithstanding

KC Kendricks

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Writing, cooking, creating - be intentional

December 21, 2019

Over the years I've tried my hand at a lot of crafty things. I don't think I'm alone in that. Lots of people feel the need to express some creativity. I sew, quilt, make candles, make simple jewelry, paint ceramics, and tried to recreate any number of things I've spotted at craft fairs. Pinterest is great for crafty ideas and I love to see what others have thought up. But there's one truth I've concluded: crafts are easy and writing is difficult. 

I love writing, but it's a different beast than spray painting patterns on pickle jars to use as summertime luminaries. One is of the hand and eye, and the other is of the mind and will. Writing is the hardest thing I've ever done. Pulling thoughts from the air and turning them into a cohesive work is as lonely and bitter as it is fulfilling. 

And then there is cooking and baking. Writing feeds the mind's need for creativity. Cooking fuels the mind's need for a body in which to operate, but cooking and baking is also a creative endeavor. The spousal unit discovered bread baking a while ago and has embraced it to the point of being annoying. Then again, the man comes up with some tasty surprises
Orange Rolls

This time of year, as we approach Christmas, I think a lot of people think about cooking. We do, and this year we're approaching it differently. We're not going to simply throw the leftovers in the freezer. We are going to be intentional about preparing main dishes and throwing them in the freezer.  It sounds like a good plan because it frees up more writing time each evening.

One of the continuing battles with myself is getting in the mood to write after I've cooked dinner and cleaned up the mess. I need time to unwind after working all day and then coming home to more work. (Poor, poor, pitiful me, right?)

So multi-tasking is out and being intentional is in. Being intentional is being more focused than depending on spontaneity to win the day. That may sound strange coming from a child of the seventies, but there it is. I'm intentionally baking orange rolls for breakfast and freezing two more portions for future breakfasts. Then I'm making lasagna and freezing three portions for three future dinners. There are chili and a host of other main dishes to follow this weekend.

I re-aligning my world yet again. Maybe this time it will work and the current work-in-progress will be my masterpiece. Or maybe I should just be happy that a wee bit of work today and tomorrow will net me thirty-one extra hours of writing time come January. Sounds good to me. 

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com
www.twitter.com/kckendricks
www.facebook.com/kckendricks


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Finding the unexpected

December 17, 2019


Settling my stepfather's estate and subsequently cleaning out my mother's house has been a bittersweet experience. The parts of it that were trips down memory lane were good. The fact my stepfather was a hoarder, not so special. 

Finding some of my father's personal belongings hidden away in odd places set me back a bit. Why did my mother feel the need to hide them? They were in old boxes, beneath even older boxes, and I almost tossed them out without looking inside. After my mother remarried, she refused to talk about my father, stating she didn't want to "hurt Jack's feelings." 

What? Jack knew she was a widow. He knew she got me somehow and it wasn't through immaculate conception. Nope. Never understood that. 

I brought a lot of plastic bins to my house so I could sort the contents at my leisure. One of those bins contained a bag of old stamps. It was one of those "what the hell" moments when I examined the contents. My mother must have been saving these old stamps all her life. There are Horatio Alger, Jack London, International Peace Garden, Thomas Payne, Rachel Carson, Root of Democracy, Love of Liberty (a 1932 postmark), and many, many more.  I've no idea what to do with them, but I have no plans to discard the stamps. 

So now I have three non-writing projects to organize: old pictures, old coins, and old stamps. I'm not sure I'm actually going to have the time to retire. 


**UPDATE February 23, 2020**

Just a brief update on the stamps. I connected with someone who is a true stamp collector and discussed the bag full of stamps. All of them are postmarked and aside from the story they tell of the times we live in are of no monetary value. The gentleman I spoke with didn't even make an offer on them - a big clue to their true value. If a long-time collector doesn't want them... I think I'll keep the baggie for a while, though. Maybe try and figure out why my mother kept them. Maybe it was just for the connection to her friends who sent the cards and letters. Maybe for me it's just for the connection to the younger version of my mom. 

**UPDATE March 10, 2020**

The old coins turned out to be just loose coins that they apparently hadn't rolled yet. Sorting through them and rolling them kept my hands busy during yesterday's NASCAR race. I'll cash them in to pay the guy who mows the grass at my mother's house. It's almost time for that expensive to begin again. 


KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com
www.twitter.com/kckendricks
www.facebook.com/kckendricks
www.pinterest.com/kckendricks/boards

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The real July Heat surfaces

December 15, 2019

A few blog posts ago I mentioned I'd changed the title of the then current WIP from July Heat to Memphis. (Memphis is out now.) It's not that July Heat isn't a good title - it is. I just couldn't reconcile it with the story of Memphis. Now I know why.

The "ideas" folder has yielded yet another tidbit, this time about the real July Heat. It all makes sense now. I do have a July Heat, a rich man/poor man idea seed. 

Isn't the subconscious mind amazing? 

I suppose with the year I've had, I can understand overlooking and/or not remembering a few things. It's a scary thing to me, forgetting anything. My mother has Alzheimer's Disease, and forgetting something - anything - sends me into a heart jarring panic. I remind myself we all forget *stuff* but it's not alway reassuring. 

It's obvious I have a lot of work to do. The current WIP has been titled The Quest. Now with the real July Heat also on the board, I need to get busy. I've got two books to write and two covers to create. I invite you to hang around and see how well I fare with four things on the board. 

On another note, Yahoo Groups are, for all intents and purposes, gone. If you haven't done so already, why not sign up to follow Between the Keys via email? On a desktop computer, look to the left for the box. On a phone... beats me how to do it. I can't find the box on my phone. Maybe you'll have better luck. The point being, here at the blog is where news of upcoming and new releases have always been posted first. It will continue to be my practice. 

And now I'd better get to work. Books don't write themselves.


KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

How'd I miss the Robert Plant podcasts?

December 11, 2019


So much for paying attention. Seriously. How in the world did I miss the many, many, many Robert Plant podcasts on YouTube? HOW??? I've been a Plant fan since our very first local FM radio station went live with him screaming, "We come from the land of the ice and snow..." From there it didn't take long for me to snatch up the first three Led Zeppelin albums (much to my parent's horror). When his first solo album came out, it went straight into the collection. There is a lot of Zep and Plant on my personal playlist on the jump drive in my car. (Kudos to the engineer who thought of a USB port in a car.)

I'll probably get into a boatload of trouble placing the podcast logo here, but there it is. As much as I, ahem, admired Plant's youthful swagger, there is a lot to be said for the lines of age and experience on his face today. They speak to me. I've lived in these same times, you know. Young men may be pretty things, but Robert the Elder is a force. It's those experiences he talks about in the podcasts, telling a well-crafted story.

The podcast I landed on first was about the song, "Like I've Never Been Gone," one of my personal favorites from the Pictures at Eleven album from way, way, way back in 1982. I thought I'd like to listen to some music while I work this morning, and I hit YouTube and typed in the song title. Perhaps it's a bit of irony at work. I'm at the day job and even after some time off, I feel like I've never been gone. 

I listened to that podcast and from there went straight to the one about The Battle of Evermore. Big Log followed as did Achilles Last Stand, and Carry Fire. (No, I didn't watch them in order and does that matter?) It's been interesting to hear about different musicians whose names I'd heard but didn't necessarily know much about their body of work. 

There are still at least six more I want to listen to, but perhaps I should slow down, pace myself. Once I've heard them, there's nothing new until a new one comes out. 

If you're a Plant and/or Zep fan, go give them a listen. Plant's voice will take you back to another time while keeping you firmly in the moment. They are well worth a few minutes of your time, time that will seem to pause even as the fifteen or so minutes of each podcast flies past before you know it.

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com  







Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Surprise snow

December 4, 2019

Being that it's the fourth of December, waking up to find snow on the ground should not be a surprise, but this morning it was. Deuce didn't seem to mind, though. He bounded outside when I opened the door and took off at a run up the hill. He'd spotted a buck, almost invisible against the hillside. 

Last evening, while The Curse of Oak Island was on television, I looked at my weather apps. I didn't see a thing about snow, hence my surprise. I joined the dog for our morning stroll and the wonderment of every snowfall seeped into my awareness. 

It also struck me it was a coincidence of epic proportions the current work-in-progress starts out with our ex-lovers getting snowed-in together - another epic coincidence, but hey. I'm writing fiction. Let's just run with it for now. 

I've always wanted to name my little slice of the planet. My mother always called her home Tranquility Hill. Not exactly fitting for my small estate. As Deuce and I meandered in and out the lane, at a snail's pace so he could sniff and do all his dog things, it struck me. Five Holly Manor. 

Five Holly Manor. There were no holly trees planted on the property. They sprouted and grew on their own, the seeds likely carried in by birds. Maybe just Holly Manor. I'll have to think about that. 

This was the best kind of snowfall. No lasting accumulations and no driving hazards. Just a nice dusting of white that highlighted the trees and made my dog happy. 

Some days, you can't ask for more. 

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com
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Monday, December 2, 2019

The ideas folder holds hidden gold

December 2, 2019

One of the first bits of advice that came my way when I was first published was to never delete anything I'd composed. It made sense even when a 256MB hard drive was considered the Great Thing to have. Maybe some authors don't have a problem deleting an idea that didn't work out, but I'm not among them. 

I jot down everything and save it in a folder. It's a little messy, but it's there. Having just published Memphis, I opened the folder and went browsing with an eye towards finding my next project. I think I scared myself. I found the beginnings of a story from 2008 that called to me. It took about half an hour to examine everything and update the first chapter. 

Why I stopped working on it is a bit of a mystery. The story immediately spoke to me and gave me a new title. Now having more experience, I see a slightly different course for the story, but the core of it is the same. 

It's too soon to share a lot of the details but not my excitement over beginning a new project. This year now ending has been a difficult one for me. My time and energy were needed elsewhere. Now is the time for me to get back in touch with the voices every writer hears. It's time to tell their stories. 

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com
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kckendricks.blogspot.com
deucesday.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Memphis - now available!

November 20, 2019



I'm pleased to announce Memphis is now available! 


The bookseller's link takes you to a page that lists all the third-party vendors where Memphis is up and available. 


ABOUT MEMPHIS:

Jake Soames is the quintessential everyman. He survived a wild youth and grew up strong. The only thing missing from his life is that one special guy to tilt his world. A man to walk beside him without playing head games with him.

With nowhere else to go, Memphis Wheeler knocked on the door of a former cellmate and found the refuge he’d been promised. His spirit is wounded, and he needs a place to rest and recover from years of physical abuse. He worries he’ll never be able to allow another man to touch him again. 

When Jake meets his buddy’s houseguest, he’s instantly drawn to the shy, retiring younger man. Memphis doesn’t say much and seems skittish around him, yet when Jake proposes they participate in a road rally, Memphis agrees to be his navigator. But there’s no timed course to traverse to reach the future Jake envisions with Memphis. It’ll take patience and understanding to help Memphis to move on from his past and say yes to more than an afternoon together. 



AN EXCERPT FROM MEMPHIS:


 “What is going on, Memphis?”

There wasn’t one fucking thing going on except that instead of panic, he felt a surge of annoyance at Jake for pushing at him. “Let. Go. Of. My. Hand.”

Jake released him. “Maybe you’ll let me hold your hand when they can’t chaperone, huh?”

He took a step back and finished ripping open the envelope. The man said to divide the money. He took fifty for himself and handed the envelope back to Jake. “And don’t argue with me about the split. I don’t want to hear it.”

“I wouldn’t dream of. I think I’ve crossed a few too many of your boundaries for one afternoon.”

So he recognized that, did he? They were both still standing. Jake because his transgressions were minor and himself because…

He liked Jake.

Admitting that was a risk. The sky could fall or something equally nasty occur, but it hadn’t happened yet.

“Okay, Jake. Let me tell Logan I’ll be home later, and we can go get me a phone and you can buy me something non-alcoholic and fizzy.”

Jake side-stepped him and waved his arm. “Logan! I’ll have him home before midnight.”

Before Memphis could protest, Jake grasped his elbow and pulled him towards the car. Logan took two steps in his direction before Mick stopped him. Memphis waved and smiled, mouthing “it’s okay” at the guys.

He was going to have some explaining to do when Jake finally took him home.

Jake opened the car door for him, again. He flashed him a smile and dropped into the passenger seat.
“Where are we going for this phone,” Jake asked as he started the engine.

“Cheapest place in town, please. I need to start small until I actually get a job.” That was embarrassing to admit, but he didn’t have a choice. His small allowance from the government wouldn’t go far or continue for too many months.

Jake put the car in gear and headed toward Centerville. “I think I know where to go.”

In only a few minutes they arrived at a shopping center with a big box store on the north end located on the outskirts of town. An hour later, Memphis had a basic phone and a cheap monthly plan. He pushed buttons as Jake guided him back to the Camaro. It didn’t have many frills, but it would do.

He leaned against the car as Jake fished his keys out of his pocket. “Thanks, Jake. Tell me your number and you can be my first contact and call.”

Jake unlocked the car door and straightened. He put his hands on Memphis’s shoulders and closed the distance between them. His focus on his new toy, Memphis realized his intention a split-second too late. He licked his lips to speak but never got the words out as Jake’s lips touched his.

Everything inside him froze. Blinding white panic welled up inside him but bled away as Jake’s soft lips moved over his. He inhaled sharply, breathing in the scent of the man beneath his soft musky cologne. Jake’s heat reached him a moment before his arms drew him into a loose embrace. He did the only thing he could do. 

* * *
Memphis is available at iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Rakuten kobo.

I hope you enjoy Memphis.

KC Kendricks







Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Memphis - coming soon!

November 12, 2019


It's a writer's prerogative to change her mind. Right? Of course, it is. Is it also a writer's prerogative to flip-flop on the title of the work-in-progress? I'd have to say yes since I just did it. 

July Heat is now "Memphis." If the truth be told, it was Memphis first and then I second-guessed myself and made it July Heat. 

And this, dear readers, is why it has taken me forever to wrap up the story. I knew in my heart it had the wrong title and there was only one way to fix it. Yet I hesitated. 

One is never too old or too experienced to make a course correction. 

Now I can finally say and mean it, Memphis is coming soon!


ABOUT MEMPHIS:



Jake Soames is the quintessential everyman. He survived a wild youth and grew up strong. The only thing missing from his life is that one special guy to tilt his world. A man to walk beside him without playing head games with him.

With nowhere else to go, Memphis Wheeler knocked on the door of a former cellmate and found the refuge he’d been promised. His spirit is wounded, and he needs a place to rest and recover from years of physical abuse. He worries he’ll never be able to allow another man to touch him again.

When Jake meets his buddy’s houseguest, he’s instantly drawn to the shy, retiring younger man. Memphis doesn’t say much and seems skittish around him, yet when Jake proposes they participate in a road rally, Memphis agrees to be his navigator. But there’s no timed course to traverse to reach the future Jake envisions with Memphis. It’ll take patience and understanding to help Memphis to move on from his past and say yes to more than an afternoon together. 


KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com
www.twitter.com/kckendricks
www.facebook.com/kckendricks
www.pinterest.com/kckendricks



Sunday, November 3, 2019

A touch of frost

November 3, 2019

Yesterday was a fine fall day. It started off chilly - it is November, after all. As I walked outside with Deuce before daybreak, I noted frost had kissed my car. It glistened in the light cast by the floods. I wondered if the frost had reached the ground and as the sun came up, I got the answer. The meadow was white. 

It's not uncommon for the meadow to show frost when our yard does not. Having so many trees makes the difference. It's never enough to save the annuals in the pots. The flowers froze and now I need to make time to pull them and store the pots for winter. 

The day also brought our Cousin's Lunch. We take time out once a quarter to get together for lunch at a restaurant. It's a nice time-out for me. I enjoy getting to talk with everyone when we're not also busy working on a project. 

"Spring forward, fall back" was the mantra. Here on the east coast, we moved the clocks back an hour. I wish they'd stop doing that. I've begun to think it's unhealthy to mess with people's internal rhythms. My brain woke me at what is now four a.m. and demanded caffeine. Is this a good thing? It's a long time until I see daylight. 

Daylight or not (not in this case) I've got a few things to do. The current work-in-progress, July Heat, is languishing. I'm not sure what is going on with me that I can't concentrate on it. I think my life has had a bit too much upheaval in the past two years and it's caught up to me. Whatever it is, I need to get over myself and get on with it. I don't want that touch of frost to linger inside me. 

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com
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Saturday, October 26, 2019

To date or not to date... my blog

October 26, 2019

The Twitterverse is an amazing place. Well, I think it was better before Twitter decided pictures of men in varying states of undress was inappropriate. I miss the eye candy. If that makes me a dirty old lady, so be it. But I digress...

Even though it's not what it used to be, I like to check in on Twitter and see who's having fun doing what. I still occasionally drop a promo or five while I'm at it, and I check out articles other authors have found and shared. I was scrolling down and found something from Justpublishing in the feed. "Should you show dates on blogs?" To date or not to date is a valid question and the article made a good case for dating. 

Truthfully, I never really considered the question. I date 99% of my blogs. Those you find without dates are simply an oversight on my part. I forgot to put it in. Maybe all my posts are not "evergreen," but it doesn't matter to me. 

Between the Keys is more than a promotional tool for KC Kendricks. It's the record of my journey as an author and as a person. The two are entwined, inseparable. It may be the only record of my life that remains, someday. 

Beyond that, not having dates, even on "evergreen" material, seems like a cheat. I'm not ashamed that my first book, Surrendered Victory, was first released in June 2008. Why should I be? The book is still in print and just as good now as then. Heck, I won a contest with it. Why hide the facts? 

To the aspiring writer and/or blogger, don't try to hide your journey. If you go back and update a blog entry, it's easy to add something like **updated 10/26/19**  under the original date.  Content might be king, but honesty is queen. And a queen takes a king every time. 

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com
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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Getting ready for the dark evenings of winter

October 20, 2019

Talk about being remiss... 

It's been three weeks since I had time to blog. It's both amazing and annoying that I allowed myself to get that distracted with work. The organization I work for, a.k.a. The Day Job, hosted a regional conference. This will be the last time I organize a big event like this one before I retire, and I took every advantage to "do it up right."

If you're a regular here at Between the Keys, you know this year has brought major transitions to my door. My husband's health and subsequent surgeries, the death of my stepfather, the death of my writing buddy Chris Grover, the resignation of a much-appreciated CEO, all of which precipitated my decision to drop back to a four-day workweek.  

That's all history. In the present, I find myself quite discontent with my lack of writing focus. 

I've made several attempts to get back on my writing schedule. Where I went wrong on that was telling other people my plans. (Saboteur: one who practices sabotage.) I'm grateful I didn't have a publisher's deadline to meet. It would not have happened. But I can't blame anyone for the beautiful weather we enjoyed yesterday. It was my decision to go outside and "work" the afternoon away.

Two of my three acres are wooded so there is no lack of firewood to be found. Wood is a supplemental heat source. We simply burn those trees that die, fall over, or drop big limbs during windy weather. There's no need to harvest a healthy tree unless it grows to a size to threaten the house. Utilizing this resource allows us to cut our utility bills and to keep a park-like feel to the property. It works. 

Yes, it was my decision to forego writing yet again in favor of the great outdoors. Sometimes the allure of sunshine and the spicy cool air of autumn are too seductive to ignore. The long, dark evenings will be upon me in mere days and old habits can reassert themselves. 

I look forward to it. Writing really is a sort of addiction, but one that doesn't do much harm. A few missed television shows won't hurt me. The voices are waiting on me to tell the story, and telling the story feeds my soul. I won't let them, or myself, down. I've been quietly preparing even as my hands have been busy fulfilling other obligations. 

To every thing there is a season, even to the renewal of the writer. 


KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com
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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

In sequence: 56789

October 1, 2019

I hit another milestone today, or rather my car did. My 2011 Charger, affectionally dubbed Redline, hit the milage mark of 56789. It's a once in the lifetime of an auto event. I pulled over and snapped a quick picture for posterity.

That led to a new problem. There's something weird going on with my cellphone's camera. The focus is going wonky. This is not a good thing. I like my phone. I don't want to spend several hundred dollars on a new one that in all probability I won't like nearly as much. I've had HTC phones for years and I'm not sure what's going on with that company. I'll charge up the old Kodak as long as only the camera feature of the phone is acting up. The spousal unit got a Samsung A10e and he does not like it. He had an HTC before, too. 

Speaking of the spousal unit, he did $3326.00 worth of damage to his pickup. He hit the truck with the tractor. I think he's grounded for a very looooooong time. 

And so it goes, for today.

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com




Sunday, September 8, 2019

Chatting at the yard sale

September 8, 2019

Yesterday I joined a few of the cousins in having a yard sale. I didn't have a lot of items to sell, only enough for on one card table, but I set some glassware out and settled back to enjoy the day with family. I made a whopping big $35. Yea, me! We're already talking about doing it again next year. 

Better than the money was the time spent simply being in the presence of people who have shared my life. 

We held the yard sale on my uncle's carport, and we did that for a specific reason. Male cousins One and Two-ish had been tasked with getting a fresh coat of stain on the back deck. They worked while me and female cousins Three and Four-ish chatted. Then cousin Four-ish had to take Unks to a local cat rescue so he could bring home a new furry companion. It was family and it worked out splendidly. (I say cousin-ISH because they are spouses.)

There was talk about our dogs - we are a doggy family and we like it that way. (Unks is up in years so a puppy wasn't a feasible addition to his life.) We talked about cars a bit. We're all motorheads and we like it that way, too. And of course, we laughed about our times growing up together and what we wanted to do when we retired. Strangely enough, while I'm not the youngest, I'll be the last one to fully retire unless my plans change. It made me realize how successful we've all been in our lives and careers. 

And why shouldn't we be? Every one of us sitting on the carport shooting the breeze has been employed somewhere since high school. Each of us found part-time jobs when we were sixteen and we just kept going up. I'm sure it's a combination of the way we were raised and our own internal drives. Each of us blood cousins is an "only child" while our spouses are not. Did that make a difference? We pondered these things. 

It feels like I'm entering a new and exciting phase in my life. I have more time now, working a four-day week, to manage responsibilities and have hours and energy left to see more of my cousins. I can only hope I don't drive them crazy. I don't think I will. I think they're just as happy as I am that we still enjoy each other's company as much, if not more than we did fifty years ago. It just feels good.

KC Kendricks






Tuesday, August 27, 2019

I and I

August 27, 2019


A byproduct of settling my stepfather's estate on top of the spousal unit's two surgeries has yielded an unexpected bonus. I've done more reading for pleasure this year than in the last several years combined. It's tough being a writer and reading another author's work. One finds a lot of little "mistakes" one never would have noticed before. Mostly it's dropped words which means I'm in very, yes very, good company. It seems we ALL do it from time-to-time. 

Recently I read a boxed set of six stories all set in the same town. The series was patterned much like my Men of Marionville series with subsequent couples being friends or family of the original pairing. I'd name it and the author except for one thing I found difficult in the reading. The author wrote each chapter in the first-person (I'm a big fan of first-person) but she/he flipped-flopped on the point of view. I was constantly scrolling back to see who "I" was. In a six-book box set, there were twelve "I's" telling the story. 

The stories were good, though. I liked the characters, the "black moments" they overcame, and the happy endings. It was just difficult to keep the POV straight. 

Does this matter in the overall scheme of things? I'm not sure. I'm not going to ask for a refund. At a going price of $1.99, I know the author isn't getting much of a return. I'm more than willing to support her. I'll even buy more of her books. 

I suppose I'm putting this out into the universe as food for thought for any writers considering going the "I and I" route. When writing in this style, use enough proper names to keep the reader in the correct POV. Balance using he, him, or his with enough information to show us exactly who "he" is. 

Writing in the first-person isn't something I would ever discourage an author to avoid. As I said, I like first-person. I write in it about seventy-five percent of the time, especially since as KC Kendricks, my main characters are both males. 

So remember a lot of your readers are reading late at night. Some of us are at the age where we read in the middle of those sleepless nights. Do what you can to keep us from being confused. As a reader, I'll certainly appreciate it. 

As a fellow writer, it's a lesson learned. 

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks





Saturday, August 24, 2019

Association of American Publishers sues Audible

August 24, 2019


I subscribe to a daily news brief called Publisher's Lunch. Every day I get a few industry tidbits to help stay engaged with parts of my profession. Yesterday, they emailed a "deluxe" edition with the news the Association of American Publishers has decided to sue Audible for plans to include TEXT in audiobooks. Audible is calling it "captions," but the end result is the same - they will show text. 

There's no doubt in my mind this would be a violation of MY copyright. I didn't jump on the Audible bandwagon and now I'm glad I didn't. There is enough of my intellectual property stolen every day. Why should I willingly give up more?

Taking any copyrighted material and repurposing it for the benefit of Audible or any other company - without the author's permission - is theft. According to Publisher's Lunch, it would create a derivative of the Work. I certainly agree. 

Audible's plan could potentially cut the publisher out of the business model, which would in effect cut off the author from additional royalties. For many, many, many authors, the publisher is still their financial lifeline. 

As always, it's the author who will be forced to accept and endure someone else making all the money on their hard work. 

Maybe it's not too surprising so many talented voices have gone silent. 

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Coffee at night

August 10, 2019

My project of the summer became clearing out my mother and late stepfather's house. Jack used to say he didn't know how I would ever manage to dispose of their worldly possessions. Knowing he had a propensity to never remove anything from his house hasn't made my job easier. It's taken months, but the end is in sight. Relatives of ours descended last evening and this morning, and large pieces of furniture were loaded onto pickups and driven away to new homes. 

It gets better. 

My sister-in-law showed up with her sister-in-law's cousin. He's looking for a house and, if the price is right, he's very interested in my mother's place. I've explained to him my Power of Attorney to handle my mother's affairs includes a fiduciary responsibility to her. I can't simply sell the house at a loss. The money from the sale will be used for her care. He understands this. I understand the house needs new shingles. I'm sure we can work a deal, especially if we don't have to pay realtor fees. My first call on Monday will be to an appraiser, something I need to do, anyway. 

Dismantling my mother's home is bittersweet. I have the memories of how happy she was living there while her memories of it are gone. Her dishes, clothes, knick-knacks - all that she loved is forgotten. But I remember. 

My mother loved swans and had quite the collection. She talked about growing up once, telling me how she never felt pretty as a girl. I have a photo of her in her wedding dress, when she was eighteen and about to marry my dad. She was beautiful. And somewhere in the course of her life, she felt an affinity to the swan, which starts life plain and matures into magnificence. Knowing this, it's very difficult to keep any of the swans. I've always thought my mom was lovely. It's painful to know she ever felt otherwise. 

Sitting in her empty house this afternoon, hoping I have a buyer, it occurred to me that very soon I may lose those rooms and another link to her. The woman who was my mother has been stolen from me. I visit the woman who remains and I miss my mother. 

Deuce and I sat outside on our little porch as evening turned to night. It's August now and the worst of the humidity is over for this year. I fixed a cup of coffee, something I almost never do in the evening, and my companion and I watched the deer creep into the front yard to graze. The few remaining lightning bugs twinkled here and there, and off in the distance, an owl asked the perennial question, "who?who?"

Who, indeed, will I be when this season is over? 

KC Kendricks













Thursday, August 1, 2019

55555

August 1, 2019

If you follow along here at Between the Keys, you know I have a sort of love affair with the numbers on the odometer. On the way home last night, Redline, my car, hit the number 55555. You know I had to pull over and take a quick picture. 

And you know I just had to share!

What's next? 56789 if I can catch it.

And yes. My car has a name. 

KC
www.kckendricks.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Another productive three-day

July 30, 2019

My third Monday off is history, and I'm pleasantly tired. I dropped back to a four-day workweek so I could have more time at home and do those many things I've neglected for years. My dream for all of my adult life has been to be The Lady of the Manor. 

It's not that working a full-time job has hurt me any. It's enriched my life with people and experiences. But in my soul, I belong happily ensconced on my three-acre "manor." 

There's always something to do at the manor. This weekend just past, we got quite a bit accomplished. I'm grateful the spousal unit is doing well enough to participate. He's savvy with the knowledge of how to manipulate tools to do the work and get things done without the need to use brute strength. That's a good thing. 
  • writing time
  • blogged
  • read a short story
  • a load of laundry
  • dinner on the patio
  • got the deck back on the Craftsman mower
  • cleaned up a small pile of sticks along the driveway
  • cut up and moved a fallen dead locust tree
  • burned the parts of that tree not suitable for the woodstove
  • cut down a damaged maple tree and burned parts not suitable for woodstove
  • Yellow Jacket nest removal
  • a trip to Lowe's
  • a trip through the grocery store
  • partial cleaning of the shed and trip to the landfill
  • mowed the lawn
  • watched the NASCAR race
  • installed new chair carrier on pickup
  • assembled new portable scooter

I'm sure there are a few more things that could go on the list but that's plenty. The point is I happily did or helped to do, all those things. They were the sort of things The Lady of the Manor would do to keep her small estate running smoothly. 

I should have started the three-day weekends much sooner.

KC Kendricks





Sunday, July 28, 2019

September Morning and Please Use the Door

July 28, 2019

There are ghosts, and then there are ghosts. Perhaps it's the times I grew up in, but few paranormal entities are as interesting as ghosts. 

I know, I know. Wolf shifters, the modern-day werewolf. I like 'em, too. They're a lot of fun. But a ghost is a lot more personal. Ghosts choose whom they wish to reveal themselves to. Depending on the spirit and its intent, it could be an honor. 

September Morning deals with the memory of a loved one. Michael is ever-present in JD's heart and thoughts until he meets Nate. JD has to grapple with his ghost in the form of those memories. Letting go of Micheal feels like betraying his memory. Finding love again is easier than embracing that love. 
Please Use the Door is a more straight-forward ghost story. Tanner buys his first house and guess what? It's already occupied - by its original inhabitant. Bodhi's tragic death at the house trapped his spirit there. He's friendly enough, and a bit of a voyeur. He wants to get "friendly" with Tanner, but Tanner is in love with his boss, Alex, and that relationship is just heating up. 

September Morning and Please Use the Door are the most recent of my published works that I've updated. My goal is to work my way through my entire catalog and add those things I wished I had but didn't. I'm sure every author finishes a story and somewhere down the road says, "Damn! I should have said that!" So I am. 

It's been fun revisiting the characters of JD, Nate, Tanner, Alex, and Bodhi. Two very different styles of ghost stories. I hope you'll give them a try.

KC 


PLEASE USE THE DOOR

Tanner Reddick learned the hard way a man needs his own place to call home – one that is legally his. The last guy set his belongings on the curb and Tanner vows it will never happen again. It’s time for him to be in charge. Embarking on the next phase of his life, Tanner buys a fixer-upper bungalow and gets to work. He’s looking forward to living on his own for a while. His interest in his boss, Alex Crewes, could change that.

It’s moving day and Tanner notices a few things about the house, things his friends disavow knowledge of. The porch is swept and the breakers on. Then Tanner smells a hint of Bay Rum cologne, which no one he knows uses. When unseen hands paint a few rooms in the house, he has to face the facts - he’s not really alone.


Bodhi introduces himself and welcomes the newest resident in the house he built a century ago. This one Bodhi likes, and he’s determined he and Tanner will coexist in harmony. Maybe they can even be friends. And if he’s lucky, maybe a little more – unless Tanner’s deepening relationship with Alex throws a wrench into his plans.  



Barnes & Noble: 


_*_*_

SEPTEMBER MORNING

Jagger Davis, JD to his friends, is at a crossroads in his life. He takes a summer sabbatical at picturesque Sandbridge Beach in Virginia to enjoy sun, surf, and solitude while plotting a new direction for his life. Arriving at a rented cottage, JD finds sun and surf, but the cottage next-door houses six fun-loving guys determined to include him in their summer activities. It’s quickly evident JD won’t have time to feel lonely.

Nate Fischer is one of a group of friends who spend every summer at Sandbridge. An IT specialist, Nate’s taking a few weeks off before his next assignment sends him out to sea for months. He introduces himself to the new neighbor and invites JD to the first bonfire of the season.

JD fends off advances from Nate’s roommates as the two men become close. But JD harbors a secret in his past, one he worries Nate won’t accept. When Nate’s job abruptly calls him away, JD realizes his mistake. He hasn’t given his summer lover a fair chance. Now he has to convince Nate he’ll be waiting when Nate returns - if Nate still wants him. 


KC Kendricks

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

The first week success, Kentucky 98 Proof, and Hot August Comes

July 20, 2019

This past Monday marked the beginning of my sojourn into "retirement." Having a three-day weekend every week should be helpful to me on many levels. I won't be as bored at the day job and I'll have more time to tend to things at home. It's win-win except for the reduction in income, but it's an imperfect world. I've never spent up to my income so the only impact is going to be on the amount I put into savings. It's fine. Money can be replaced, but time can't. 

And while one item on the master to-do list was accomplished last Monday, it convinced me I need a better format for the aforementioned list. Having Cousin Dave cut down a dead tree was fine, but it wasn't a priority for a hot July day. He just happened to be out and about and willing, and I'd have been stupid to turn down free help. 

Having "extra" time led back to the Grammarly project. So
far this week I've worked through Hot August Comes and Kentucky 98 Proof, and got both of the updated books uploaded. I think that's a pretty good achievement for week one. 

Working through Highway Nights, Hot August Comes, and Kentucky 98 Proof has given me an itch to really dig in and get back to work. I also went to Amazon and reduced the price on all three to $.99. This will only be for a limited time, so watch for the price change to go live and get your copies before the price goes back to the regular $1.99. That's only at Amazon and only for a couple of weeks. 

I also loaded the restored cover for Hot August Comes. Sometimes playing with Photoshop gets me into trouble, and this cover has always been a struggle to get right. Second-guessing myself didn't help. 

All-in-all, good progress for the first week of my new schedule. 

KC
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Monday, July 15, 2019

Highway Nights and balancing life

July 15, 2019

Today celebrates the first day of my new schedule. I finally bit the bullet, so to speak, and approached my employer about dropping back to a four-day work week. It seems I'm the sort who needs to ease into retirement instead of going cold turkey. 

I'm very much looking forward to picking up the writing. Cleaning out my stepfather's house and preparing it to be sold has taken a lot of time but that's winding down. The spousal unit is seven weeks past the last surgery and just yesterday resumed driving. (Maybe today I can get him on the lawnmower!) Yes, it's time to ease back into writing. 

To that end, I set a goal to run Highway Nights through an online editor. Grammarly found over four-hundred items for me to review. Four hundred. And this is after two editors at a now-defunct publisher "edited" it. 

Most of the items found had to do with comma placement. Yes, the lowly comma can bring you down, but remember that sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn't. Case in point - "Let eat Grandpa" as opposed to "Let's eat, Grandpa." Grammarly also likes the Oxford comma and I added a few of those. Beyond the comma, the software found six or seven missed words (a, it, to, do, the), and only two misspelled words. Most annoying word - it flagged "diner" every time and suggested "dinner." So all-in-all, it wasn't too very bad an exercise. Strangely enough, it's more educational than working with a person, at least for me. 

While uploading the updated manuscript, I discovered I'd never uploaded the new cover I made back in September. Have I mentioned I've been busy with caring for family??? Anyway, the newest cover and the book are now up, and I'm moving on to the next project as soon as I take a moment to enjoy my first Monday off to watch the sun come over the mountain from the vantage point of my newly screened-in patio. It's all about balance, isn't it? 

KC



HIGHWAY NIGHTS

Contemporary gay romance/suspense

Garrett Webb has a five-point plan for starting his own business. To keep it on track, he takes a second job and settles into the evening delivery run between Owensville and Mt. Franklin. The solitude of being on the road clears his head and enables him to chart a better future for himself. When a foggy night sends him to the safety of The Downshift Diner and its owner, Oliver Sanderson, that future takes an unforeseen turn.

Oliver Sanderson enjoys a quiet life along the lonely stretch of highway that’s home to his diner. The road brings all manner of interesting souls to his door. When Garrett Webb steps out of the fog seeking shelter, his openness and honesty draw Oliver’s interest. He’s ready to take the next step but needs to be cautious. Trouble is coming to the diner, and Oliver wants Garrett clear of it.  

Good intentions can’t hold out against their budding attraction. Garrett makes the diner a regular stop during his nightly run, and the men get better acquainted. But Garrett’s past isn’t done with him. In a single heart-stopping moment, Garrett is forced to a decision that risks Oliver’s life – one that could forever end their highway nights.


EXCERPT:

Oliver grinned and stopped in front of him.

“Happy to see me?”

Garrett glanced down. “As happy as you appear to be. Can a guy get a soda to go in this joint?”

Oliver shook his head. “I’ve better at the house. Let me tell Shirl and Billy not to call me unless it’s an emergency.” He disappeared into the kitchen, and sauntered back out in less than thirty seconds. Oliver motioned at the front entrance. “Let’s go.”

Garrett turned and held the door open for Oliver. “What constitutes an emergency?”

“Someone is bleeding, choking, or keels over all the way to the floor.” He placed his hand on the small of Garrett’s back and guided him around the corner of the building.

Garrett leaned closer to the warmth of Oliver’s body. “Not fire?”

“That’s what the firemen are for. Call ‘em. Besides, I like firemen. Don’t you?”

“Sure. Big, burly men turn me on.” Garrett stroked Oliver’s well-formed bicep. Oliver laughed softly and backed Garrett against the rear wall of the diner, out of sight from the clientele and staff.

“To each, their own.”

Garrett grasped Oliver’s hips and yanked him against him. He held him there and soaked up the heat from Oliver’s body. The corner of his mouth quirked in a small smile.

“So, am I going to have to beg you to kiss me again?”

Oliver ran his thumb over Garrett’s lower lip. He swallowed, the muscles in his throat moving. “Garrett. Be sure you want this. Don’t lead me on then tell me to stop.”

“I came for this, Oliver.”

Something dark and unsettled sparked in Oliver’s eyes. “Don’t get too attached to me, either, boy.”

“I’m horny. I want to fuck you, not marry you.”

Oliver leaned in, his breath warm on Garrett’s moist lips. In the back of his mind, Garrett registered surprise at Oliver’s reticence but he’d ponder it later. He shifted forward and touched his lips to Oliver’s.

Need burst through him, a siren song in his blood that built as Oliver’s tongue licked into his in a bold stroke. The larger man pressed his body to the sun-warmed bricks, pinning him, his pelvis grinding against Garrett’s in a mock taking. Garrett thrust his tongue into the heat of Oliver’s mouth. Back and forth they tested, well matched, as the world spun behind his closed eyes. Suddenly breathless, Garrett tore his lips from Oliver’s. Oliver rested his forehead to his, breathing hard.

“You should go home, Garrett.”

“I don’t think so. Why are you afraid of me?” He ran his fingers through Oliver’s short hair.

Oliver brushed a kiss to his lips. “I’m too old for someone in his twenties, Garrett.”

“I’m going to surprise you. I’m thirty-two.” He laughed as the man’s eyebrows shot up. “Told you I was older than I look.”

Oliver’s eyes darkened. “I can’t tell you how relieved I am, but I still feel like a dirty old pervert chasing chickens.” He levered off the wall, grabbed Garrett’s hand, and pulled him along the flagstone path to the bungalow-style house.

Garrett fell into step beside him and slipped their linked hands behind Oliver’s back. There was one sure way he knew to find out Oliver’s age—give him a little dig.

“You can’t be that old. What are you? Fifty?”

“Fifty! No, smart-ass, I’m forty-four. Happy to know that?” Oliver eased his hand free as they climbed the steps to the wide veranda. He pulled keys out of his pocket and unlocked the front door. “I should spank you for that.”

Garrett stepped into the foyer and patted his butt. “A spanking might be fun sometime...”



HIGHWAY NIGHTS
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KC Kendricks
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