Showing posts with label Anne McCaffrey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anne McCaffrey. Show all posts

Sunday, October 11, 2020

How I Gave Myself a Fire Lizard

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is the item from your books you most want to own and why.

In mulling this topic, I've come to an interesting realization: I rarely have interesting "items" in my books. With a couple of outliers, I don't really include objects of power or other magical artifacts in my stories. There's the Star of Annfwn in The Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms books, but it's not something I'd necessarily want to have. There are a couple of objects of power in my Forgotten Empires trilogy - most notably the orchid ring - but I wouldn't want that, even if it could be mine.

Mostly, the interesting stuff in my books that I'd like to have comes in the form of personal powers. And I'm noticing now how often the ability to control weather - like being able to make it rain! - crops up in my characters. So, sure, I'd love to have Lia's connection to the land and weather in the Forgotten Empires, or Salena's storm-making magic in THE LONG NIGHT OF THE CRYSTALLINE MOON in the UNDER A WINTER SKY anthology and the other upcoming Heirs of Magic books. I think it would be totally cool to be a shapeshifter as in Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms.

But those aren't items. 

The closest I can come is a familiar, which is a living being, not an item, but can be "owned," more or less. So I'm picking Chuffta from my Sorcerous Moons series. That's him, on Princess Oria's shoulder on the cover of book one, LONEN'S WAR. Chuffta is a telepathic, tiny white dragon. More or less. It's complicated. He's also Oria's best friend and staunch companion - even though he suffers from an unfortunate fascination with fire that occasionally gets him into trouble.
And yes, Chuffta is totally wish-fulfillment because I always wanted one of Anne McCaffrey's fire lizards for my very own!


Sunday, September 8, 2019

What Was the First Book You Ever Bought?

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is the first book bought with your own money.

I usually look at the topic a few days ahead, to put in the back of my mind and mull. So I've been thinking about this question for a few days. And, really, I have NO IDEA.

There were a *lot* of books in my youth. My mom and I visited the library every Wednesday afternoon, where I was allowed to select five books and no more. Sometimes I ran out before the next Wednesday arrived. But even then I had books in reserve on my shelves - ones I had already read and ones I hadn't - because people gave me books as gifts. And there were always my mom's books to get into.

I read an awful lot of books that I didn't love, simply because I had nothing else to read. Back then I had no concept that maybe I wouldn't like a book, or that a book might be beyond me at that point in time. Some of the gifted books, while well-intentioned, had likely been bought on bookseller recommendations. You know the "well, she likes fantasy" and so someone gave me the box set of Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant when I was WAY too young to understand it. I can't tell you how many times I started Lord Foul's Bane and bounced off. Same with Tolkein's The Silmarillion. I don't think anyone realized the vast distance between reading The Hobbit and that.

I started earning my own money when I was... seven? Eight? I think it was after my mom remarried (my father had died several year previous) and my stepdad believed in giving an allowance and assigning chores. I received $5/week, but I don't recall what I spent it on. Maybe I was older? I know I started babysitting when I was twelve, and that's when I had actual pocket money that I saved up. I remember saving up to buy this crystal bird on a brass hoop for something outrageous like $75. (I still have it!)

And I have a very clear memory of buying Anne McCaffrey's DRAGONFLIGHT. The book was first published in 1968, but I definitely bought this edition. (That pic is an actual scan of the book, which I also still have.) That edition came out in 1979, according to Goodreads, which would have meant I was likely twelve. I do know I spotted it on the mass-market paperback display at mall bookstore - probably a B.Dalton - and feeling that rush of sheer astonishment and joy.

See, I'd read DRAGONSONG in my elementary school library when I was ten, and loved loved loved it. I had no idea that there might be *other* books by the same author, and in the same world! Back then the world of books and series was much more opaque. Whatever was on the bookstore or library shelf was all that existed, so far as readers knew. There really wasn't much of a way to find out more. You could ask booksellers and librarians, but they only had limited means to look stuff up.

Amazing how that's changed.

Anyway, reader, I bought the book. For $1.95 - a substantial dent in my weekly allowance, but I paid it gladly. And I bought the sequels. And related books. I cheerfully spent most of my allowance on books, then threw myself into babysitting with enthusiasm so I could continue to afford the habit.

A habit that continues to this day. I very much believe in buying books. I figure what goes around comes around, and if I want people to buy my books, I should buy their books. It's always entertaining when tax time rolls around and I add it all up. I spend easily a couple of thousand dollars each year on books.

Money well spent. My twelve year old self would approve.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Godparents: Jeffe's Top Five Influences as a Writer

We're heading into the last week of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Fantasy Storybundle. The theme is "Kickass Heroines" and this is such a kickass collection. I was one of the first to download it, even though my own book is in it, and I've read a couple of others. So many fantastic books for an amazing price.

The Bundle was curated by Terry Mixon who says:

SFWA is over 50 years old and its membership consists of professional writers and publishing professionals from around the globe. It administers the Nebula Awards each year, and so very much more. It was a real pleasure reading the submissions from SFWA members this year and, as every year, we had a rough time narrowing the selection to just a few books. We think you'll be delighted as there is something for everyone in this great bundle.

 • The Arrows of the Heart by Jeffe Kennedy. What do you do when your boyfriend is an animal? Really. An animal.

 • The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, Books 1-3 by Annie Bellet. Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer, a mostly-human woman is finally safe – if she can resist using her magic. Or can she?

 • The Dragon Blood Collection, Books 1-3 by Lindsay Buroker. A dashing pilot, a comely sorceress, and a smart-mouthed soulsword all come together in a world intent on killing them.

 • Radiance by Grace Draven. A marriage between alien kingdoms – and two "spares" who find beauty in each other, and that heroism comes in many forms.

 • Ashwin by Kit Rocha. Can a genetically manipulated soldier be a hero? A healer finds a way to love a man without feelings—and fight for brightness in a dark world.

 • The Raven and the Reindeer by Ursula Vernon. An enthralling remix of a classic fairy tale, with a practical heroine who follows her heart to a very different ending.

There are more than those, too. Check out the deal here. 

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is "The Godparents: Your top five influences as a writer."

At least the person who suggested this one is letting me have five?

This isn't the definitive list, but it does come pretty close to encapsulating my major influences. These are the authors I not only love, but who influenced the way I write.

Tanith Lee

Anne McCaffrey

Patricia McKillip

Robin McKinley

Anne Rice

I linked to the best pages I could find for each (avoiding Wikipedia if possible). Sadly Tanith Lee and Anne McCaffrey are both dead now. I have no idea why three of them are "Mc" names - except that perhaps I identify with the Celtic voice, and they would've all been shelved close together. This goes beyond discoverability, however, as I started reading Robin McKinley much later.

All of these women write vividly sensual fantasy with women who are the front and center heroes of their own journeys. (With Anne Rice, it depends on the book.) They all created worlds I wanted to live in, presented complex interpersonal relationships, and explored shades of morality in fascinating ways.

They have been wonderful Godmothers to me, one and all.

Friday, February 1, 2019

FanFiction: Which Playground

Every writer started writing by being a reader. Sometimes as a voracious one. The mental stacks pile high, creaking under the weight of other people's characters, plots, worlds, languages, and adventures. A writer's lifetime of reading (and movies, TV, music, other art - wherever story can be found) becomes the fertile soil out of which her own stories sprout. My strong suspicion is that we're all of us writing fanfiction after a fashion - in this case, it's our stories that stand on the shoulders of giants. Though most of us have enough imagination to avoid cease and desist letters from publishers. 

Granted, I do have a few stories in my files from my early days as a writer that are unabashed fanfic. They are complete copywrite violations. But I think they taught me voice. I could switch from writing a story in Anne McCaffrey's Pern and make it come close to matching her tone, then I could write a Star Trek story that I thought did a fine job of matching the tone of those characters. From there, you can deduce which worlds I'd write in if I could. Star Trek. Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Rider series. Anything Andre Norton - except The Witch World series. That one's not my fav. I'd totally write within the worlds of some of the MMORPGs out there in the world. 

Since I'm not authorized to write officially in anyone else's playground, I simply acknowledge that I am paying homage to each of my literary heroes in what I write. I hope. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Jeffe's Sly FanFic Move

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is "If you were going to write fan fiction, what show/characters/etc would you write?"

Now, I'm not an author who got her start by writing fan fiction. I totally respect that many writers developed their chops that way, but it frankly never occurred to me to do that. I fantasized plenty about the books I read, made up stories in those worlds where I got to be the hero - but I never thought to write them down. It seemed wrong to me.

The intervening years have seen a huge growth in the world of fan-fiction writing, and a legitimizing of it. Still, I've never done it and don't think I ever would.

That said...

In my Sorcerous Moons series, I gave my heroine a winged white lizard Familiar, who breathes fire and communicates with her telepathically. This is totally my version of Anne McCaffrey's fire lizards and dragons from her Pern books - one of my favorite daydream subjects.

So ... maybe the line between homage and fan fiction is a fine and narrow one. But it's an apropos topic for me, because ORIA'S ENCHANTMENT, book #5 in the Sorcerous Moons series, just released. Buy links are going live as I type this, but you can find them here as they're available.

The Temptation of Power
No longer a princess and not yet a queen, the sorceress Oria welcomes the rush of power the ancient mask brings her—though the obsessive connection to it frightens her and alarms her barbarian husband, Lonen. But retreat is not an option. She must wrestle the magic to prevent an annihilating war, even if she must make the ultimate sacrifice.
A World in Flames
If Lonen wants to reclaim his throne—and save his people from destruction—he must return by sunset on the seventh day. What he thought would be a short and simple journey, however, leads them deeper into the mountains—and Oria deeper into the thrall of foul magic. Until he must choose between two terrible paths.
A Heart-Wrenching Choice
Struggling with conflicting loyalties, Oria and Lonen fight to find a way to be together…
lest they be separated forever, and their realms go down in flames with them.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Three Books I'm Buying My Grandkids

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is three books from our childhood that we still remember fondly and why. This is funny, because I recently brought up the above book - THE ABANDONED by Paul Gallico - as a book I've never forgotten, and that I think I might be the only kid on the planet who read it. (Although the Goodreads listing argues otherwise!)

Then I went and bought it to give my granddaughter for Christmas. (Don't worry - she's too young to follow my blog. I'm pretty sure...) This is the perfect book for her because she's cat crazy. And this is about a little boy who becomes a cat. It contains the mantra for the ages: When in doubt, wash. It's a haunting story about being other and about finding self.

I might have to give it a reread before I wrap it up.

Because this is a blog of fantasy and science fiction writers, I feel I must mention my gateway drug to both: DRAGONSONG by Anne McCaffrey. I feel that I should mention that this book has more than 40K ratings on Goodreads, as opposed to ~1,100 for THE ABANDONED. So, relatively speaking, I am about the only person who read the latter, compared to the former. DRAGONSONG is well loved and rightly so. It's the story of a young girl on the planet Pern, and how she tames fire lizards and finds her place in the world as a musician. This book lit me up to the possibilities of fantasy and I really never looked back.

There are many books to choose from, of course, but in the SFF realm, it's sad for me how few have held up over time. I loved Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising books, but the worldbuilding underpinnings don't work for me. And not just now - I went back and reread to fill in some pieces and they simply aren't there. Other books I loved turned out to have religious agendas, alas.

But one that has withstood the test of time - and has arguably grown richer for it - is A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L'Engle. And with the movie version finally coming out (after, lo, these 40+ years), this is the time to reread, and get your younger peeps to read, before the movie comes out, as we all know the book is inevitably better.

That said, the movie comes out on March 9, which is my mom's birthday. I'm thinking we should maybe go see it together, to celebrate our history with this book, this author, and all things mother/daughter. Take a look at that incredible trailer! FANTASTIC, in all the best senses of the word.

Books make great gifts! Just saying :D

In other news, I'm participating in Patrick Rothfuss's Worldbuilders fundraiser. You can bid to win a critique from me or a Tuckerization in my new series! But there's only 9 hours left in the auctions as of this posting, so hasten thee over!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Jeffe's Dream Anthology

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is: If you were going to be in an anthology with any three authors, living or dead, who would you pick and why?

Amusingly enough (and this was totally NOT my topic suggestion, even) I get to be in an anthology in December with three AMAZING authors. So, I feel I'd be remiss not to mention that. It's particularly shiny for me because Thea Harrison put the concept together, and I've been loving her Elder Races series for years. So much so that I stalked her, arranged to meet her for breakfast at the RWA conference in NYC a few years ago, and made her be my friend.


Then Thea also invited Grace Draven and Elizabeth Hunter to play, both of whom are wonderful writers who'd I'm thrilled to be alongside. It's a great concept on Thea's part, because we all have similar voices and fantasy styles, which should make for a fabulous collection.

The book is called AMID THE WINTER SNOW, and will be four novellas, each set in one of our worlds, taking place over the midwinter holiday. My story is THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, which (for those who are familiar with the Twelve Kingdoms/Uncharted Realms series) is a continuation of Ash and Ami's story, told from his point of view, during the Feast of Moranu at Castle Windroven. I have some hints of what Thea, Grace, and Elizabeth are doing and I'm so psyched to read those stories. If I weren't IN the anthology, I'd totally be jonesing to buy it.

So, really, this is my dream anthology, right there. Lucky Jeffe!!

Then, if I were to get all super dreamy about it... wow.

Anne McCaffrey
Tanith Lee
Patricia McKillip
Jeffe Kennedy

Kind of gives me the chills to put my name in there. Also makes me feel pretty uppity. I'm safe in this dream, because Anne and Tanith have died now, so it will never happen. Not that it would have happened anyway, but these are the writers whose fantasy stories shaped me and who I still emulate.

Or WISH I could emulate.

That said, I feel pretty effing fancee being in AMID THE WINTER SNOW with those writers, so my dreams don't exceed my reality by much. Counting my blessings.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I Would Be ... Lessa of Pern!

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is what character would you like to be in someone else’s novel and why?

It was an interesting question to ponder. I went through a number of choices before discarding them for various reasons. Like, I nearly said Eve Dallas from J.D. Robb's In Death series - but that's mainly so I could have Roarke. I wouldn't want her tortured past or to be a homicide detective. Similarly, I thought about Kate Daniels (now Lennart!) from Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels books. It would be cool to be kickass like her and have all that magical power, but she's had a sucky life, too, and has a tough challenge ahead of her.

This kind of thing is true for many characters who capture my imagination, and I'm a believer in looking at the entirety of a person's life. This is a great remedy for envy of all kinds, by the way. Whenever I find myself wishing I could have some other author's book success, I make myself consider everything about them and if I'd tried the whole of my life for theirs. Even with the most awesome people the answer is always no, because I like MY life and who I am.

So, using this rule of thumb, I ended up discarding most potential characters. I finally ended up with...

Lessa of Pern!

If you don't know, she's the heroine of Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, the first of the Weyrs of Pern trilogy, and she appears in many of the connected books, too.

And yes, yes, yes - I KNOW. Lessa had a majorly sucky childhood, too. And nasty challenges to face.


It would totally be worth it to have a queen dragon. And F'lar. Plus she was the first heroine who really resonated with me. She's more interested in getting things done than in being nice. Her force of will and determination are qualities F'lar loves about her and made me believe I could be loved for that in myself, too. (And I am!) She's frequently bitchy and not afraid to be angry - but she's also widely appreciated and has a soft heart under it all.

Totally my role model!

~waits for dragon~