Living the (Scary) Dream w/ Jeffe Kennedy (and GC #Giveaway)

Today, I’m very happy to welcome my friend and fellow author Jeffe Kennedy, who’s here to celebrate LONEN’S WAR, the first book in her new Sorcerous Moons fantasy romance series. You know how much we all love magic!

ABOUT JEFFE: Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook. …Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 and the third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind May 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, and was followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.  She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

And now let’s hear more about LONEN’S WAR:

jeffe coverABOUT LONEN’S WARAn Unquiet Heart: Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince…A Fight Without Hope: When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people are devious, her claims of ignorance absurd. The frank honesty her eyes promise could be just one more layer of deception…A Savage Bargain: Fighting for time and trust, Oria and Lonen have one final sacrifice to choose… before an even greater threat consumes them all.

Find the buy links here.

Now, let’s hear from Jeffe! I love her post because it’s real–just like its author–and since I’m gearing up to write full time next April, the uncertainty and scariness of that is something we’ve talked about…

Thanks, Suzanne, for hosting me today! It’s always a pleasure to virtually visit with you and talk writing biz.

For today, Suzanne asked me to talk about what it’s been like for me going to full-time writing in the last year. This is a topic of obvious interest to both of us – and to many writers – not only because that’s always the dream, but also because we don’t know that many people who get to do it. It’s one of those double-edged dreams/nightmares. We long to ditch the day job and do the writing gig full time, but the prospect is also fraught with risk and can be downright terrifying.

Suzanne and I are also in similar places. For different reasons, neither of us has a spouse jeffe picthat provides that oh-so-comfortable steady salary and a healthy benefits package. Suzanne is diligently working towards full retirement from the day job, so she can count on that steady pension and COBRA benefits to sustain her during the ups and downs of fitful writing income.

Me? Well, I got laid off last October.

Yeah, full retirement would be nice, but that ain’t gonna happen. They gave me a lovely severance package of a few months salary, I get COBRA for 18 months (which is still expensive to pay myself – ouch!), and otherwise I’m out on my own, seeing if I can make the full-time writing gig work. While I have a spouse, he’s also self-employed and still building his practice as a doctor of oriental medicine in a competitive market. He has his partial, early-retirement income – which isn’t much, but still – and health insurance. Adding me to his health insurance is prohibitively expensive. It’s month-to-month on whether I’ll have enough cash flow to cover all the bills and we’ve gone deeper into debt. (The plus side there is we were debt-free before he took early retirement and went back to school to learn acupuncture, so we have great credit and high limits to exploit.)

So, yeah. Terrifying? Check. Fraught with risk? Check.

How do I feel about it?

I’ve never been happier in my life!

Seriously. I liked my day job and enjoyed the great privilege of working from home. I found the work interesting; I loved my colleagues; They paid me well. I worked there for 18 years.

I AM SO MUCH FREAKING HAPPIER NOW.

It’s hard to explain exactly how and why. I’d doubt myself except that other people – even ones who only know me via online conversations – comment on how much happier I am. So here’s a few things that I notice, and what I’m doing to make this work.

It’s really great to have one career.

After 20 years of having essentially two careers (with writing and associated business taking a bigger and bigger chunk every year), it’s simply glorious having only one. The Taoists talk a lot about being single-weighted and I can really see that at play here. All of my creativity and personal energy is focused on writing and feels incredibly good.

There’s something about making my own money from something that comes from ME.

Even though my day job paid way better for much less effort, I find I value the money I make from writing more. It feels like I really earned it, by doing something important to me, from a part of me that is most uniquely myself. I also feel like a cottage industry, where other people are earning their living in part from what I create. I love paying editors, cover artists and writers of back-cover copy. It’s pretty wonderful to be at the center of producing the thing that generates income for others in this ever increasing spiral.

Traveling more?

Suzanne asked if I’m traveling more. She might have meant, like, for fun. I understand people do that. Maybe one day when I have actual money again, that will happen! But yes, I am traveling more, but for work. I’m hitting a lot of conferences and other writing-related gigs. This is make or break for me, so I’m taking any and all opportunities that look like good ones. The best part of writing full time related to this is that it’s SO much easier to clear the decks and get out of town. I don’t have to juggle my schedule around day job vacation time and obligations. I can go pretty much whenever. The big caveat is making sure I get the writing done, which is not inconsiderable.

I do not have more time.

I thought I would. I had all these ideas about how I’d write so many hours a day, do business so many hours and then do all these other gardening and house projects. I planned to read more! Instead what’s happened is that I’ve increased the writing efforts so much – and upped my business/marketing game so much – that I’m nearly as busy as before. Except that it’s all about writing, so the single-weightedness helps, as above.

I’m diversifying.

Part of why I’m busier is I’ve loaded my schedule with additional projects. In order to diversify my revenue streams – and so minimize risk as much as I can, with the eggs-in-many-baskets approach – I’ve started several self-publishing projects. In particular, I created a new fantasy world with this brand-new Fantasy Romance series, the Sorcerous Moons. The first book, LONEN’S WAR, came out last week. I plan to release the sequel, ORIA’S GAMBIT, in August and a third in September. I have some wonderfully generous friends who’ve been very successful in self-publishing advising me on this project. And, wow! It’s been a huge amount of work. Fortunately, LONEN’S WAR seems to be really well-received so far, which is a great relief.

The conclusion?

It may not be the safe, sane, and financially conservative step to take, but going to writing full-time is a wild, exhilarating ride! I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t been kicked out of the nest – and I’m still barely careening above the ground, clipping some tree limbs now and again – and yet stretching my wings this way feels truly freeing. I’m flying on my own for the first time and it’s all we imagine that could be.

You’re gonna love it, Suzanne!

Thanks, Jeffe! I can’t wait–I have a big calendar on my office wall that goes through next April. LOL. (And, for better or worse, I’m resigning a few years early for it to be full retirement, so I don’t get the COBRA safety net–I’ll be buying health insurance off the shelf, which is really scary!) I love the idea of single-weightedness; right now, I feel as if every writing moment is a stolen one since the day job supports me. Good for you for having the guts to go for your dream and making proverbial lemonade from lemons 🙂

Now, guys, what are your dreams for retirement (even if you’re a long way away)? What do you do, or hope to do, with that time? I feel fortunate to have something I really look forward to; I might be working as many hours but it will be work I love. Leave a comment for a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card (or Book Depository equivalent for our international readers). If you had the ability to follow your dream, how would you spend your days?

 

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban and paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense, currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, and Belle Chasse (Nov 2016). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou series (Book 1, Wild Man's Curse) releases April 2016).

45 thoughts on “Living the (Scary) Dream w/ Jeffe Kennedy (and GC #Giveaway)

  1. I can’t wait for the day that I get to live my dream as a scientist. I have three under 6 so it will be a bit of time.

  2. Something connected with books-work in a library, open a used book store..
    Downloaded my copy of Lonen’s War yesterday. Can’t wait to read it!

  3. Going on more family trips, reading more, writing more of my poetry ( I would also love to publish these ), enjoying some of my favorite hobbies plus trying out new ones ( pretty much anything creative is a must )

  4. Oh, I would love more time to read, but I really love what I do. Maybe in a less stressful environment? I always dreamed of having a small used book store with tea/snacks. I just think my dream version is not very realistic, but it’s fun.

  5. As someone who realized the dream, I can say that retirement has made me happier than I have ever been in my life. It has been just about a year, my garden is flourishing, and hubby and I have completed some projects we have wanted to do for years. Yesterday, I took the grandkid and her friend to the beach. On a Wednesday afternoon. I read the arc of Belle Chasse. It was heaven. 5 stars, Suzanne!

  6. Still a long way to go, but something I am hoping to do when I retire is visiting overseas friends or alternatively invite them to stay with me.

  7. So, let’s assume that I win the big lottery and don’t have to worry about money when I retire. I’ve spent the last 33 years at AAA Oklahoma, planning trips for other people (which I love doing), so I have lots and lots of ideas on where I want to travel. I’d also do volunteer work at the Red Cross and my local library. I’d read a lot more (!) and have more time for cross stitch projects. I’d also take classes, just for fun, at the local community college. Oh, retirement would be wonderful…

  8. Aside from reading, I would love to travel and take cooking classes as I went, spend more time with family in general, and do whatever moves me.

  9. I’d play Sally Good’n all day if I could.
    And, Jeffe knows, when I say “Sally Good’n,” I mean “video games.”

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