Welcome Kennedy Ryan!
The Bennett’s Series:
When You Are Mine, June 17
Loving You Always, October 7
I’m excited to feature Kennedy Ryan on my Pubbed Margie-Grad Blog! I had the best time working with Kennedy in an Immersion class in Atlanta, July, 2013. She’s as fun in person as she is talented on the page. That’s a lot of fun, and a lot of talent.
Here's a little bit about Loving You Always:
Kerris Moreton should be the happiest woman in the world: She has a successful business and is about to start the family she's always wanted. But the man of her dreams-the one whose green eyes see straight into her soul and whose gentle hands make her body hum with pleasure-is not hers.
Each secret moment with Walsh Bennett reminds Kerris what she's missing. And every stolen hour makes it harder to see her future without him. But being with Walsh would betray a sacred promise and upend her perfect life. When tragedy strikes, the razor's edge between love and loyalty grows sharper than ever. And Kerris must decide where her heart will fall . . .
Margie Asks Kennedy:
I’d love for you to share your publication journey with our blog guests. Dive in!
My road to publication was not what most would call typical. I always knew I wanted to tell stories. Even as a little girl, I would tell stories on my grandmother’s back porch. My heroine was a long-haired mop! LOL!
I think for a while the true story seduced me because I landed in Journalism school, which was great and made me a very clean writer, but didn’t give me the creative outlet I had always longed for. A lot happened in life to sidetrack me. My son was diagnosed with Autism, which is an all-hands-on-deck endeavor, and rightfully so consumed me for a good eight years. And I started a foundation for families in Georgia living with autism. Writing dreams firmly on the ol’ back burner!
Writing a book was a really dusty dream at the back of my closet until two summers ago. I took my son to the Chattahoochee River every night for weeks because he, like so many kids on the spectrum, is a little water obsessed. A story started forming in my head with a fictional town called Rivermont at its center. And then a few scenes invaded my head. I took notes on my phone. I voice recorded dialogue, but I didn’t actually write that whole summer. At the end of the summer of 2012, I started writing and didn’t stop until what is now books 1 and 2 of my Bennetts series were done. It was 600 pages of behemoth What-The-Crap-Have-I-Done! LOL!
I joined RWA and my local chapter, Georgia Romance Writers, to help me figure out what to do with this thing. The folks at GRW were amazing. They really emphasized learning craft and developing relationships. I joined in June 2012. Our Moonlight and Magnolia’s Conference was in October. Everyone asked if I planned to pitch. OK. I didn’t even know what that WAS, but I thought it would be good practice. At the conference, I pitched to one agent and an editor from Grand Central Publishing. Both requested full manuscripts. I’m thinking this is cool. I get to go through the whole process. Again. Good practice.
I was as shocked as anyone when in April of 2013, the agent offered to represent me. And then a few months later, the editor said she wanted to acquire my too-long book, under condition that I would split the books into two. Of course, I would. Why not? And then she asked me if I would be willing to write a third book to extend it into a 3-book deal/series. Of course, I would! Why not? LOL!
I think I actually signed the contract in September 2013. My first book was out June 17, 2014. It was fast by most standards. I don’t have that “stack of rejection letters” story, but it has been a steeeeeep learning curve since I was not in this world before then. Craft-wise and emotionally.
Margie Chats with Kennedy:
Your writing is so strong and fresh, you definitely had me locked in on every page. Kudos to you!
I’ll share a few of your fresh dialogue cues and facial expressions, and ask you questions below.
When You Are Mine -- Dialogue Cues:
The girl’s voice was husky-hot and sweet. Honey burned to a crisp.
Jo used her don’t-play-a-player voice on him. “He’s going to propose again.”
His voice hardened and bounced off her troubled mind like pebbles against a windowpane.
Loving You Always -- Dialogue Cues:
The words heated up in her mouth and boiled over. “I’ve told you that I love you.”
Something quiet and deadly slid into Walsh’s voice.
“Walsh!” Meredith’s voice snapped a warning, like twigs underfoot. “You have to leave now.”
When You Are Mine – Facial Expressions
Kerris’s smile played tug-of-war with her sad eyes.
Kerris felt Meredith’s eyes locked and loaded on her face with the focus of a sniper. She willed herself not to squirm under the eye of her friend’s scope.
Walsh lobbed a silent yes-get-me-out-of-this expression to his mother. She returned with a mama-always-knows smile.
Loving You Always – Facial Expressions
Walsh’s smile died a quick death.
“Yes,” Walsh said without pause, his face a riddle no one would be able to solve.
“Don’t say it.” She cut him off, a please-get-out-of-here-before-I-break plea in her eyes. His voice was a dull-edged knife slicing clumsily through her heart, fiber by bloody fiber. Dull and slow and imprecise and drawn out. She would have preferred a quick cut, but he just kept talking.
Margie Asks Kennedy: Is it easy for you to write fresh dialogue cues and facial expressions? What’s your process?
Sometimes it is easy, but most times it is not! When I “try too hard” and think too much about it, I get bogged down. I need to just get the story down. Dialogue comes first for me, and most naturally. It’s a legacy from that long-haired mop on my grandmother’s back porch. I act out my dialogue before I write it. Literally with tears and screaming and a “wildly racing heart.” The whole nine. I do it a few times, and certain lines stick.
You’re so smart to act out your scenes. I want videos!
Cadence is really important to me, and sometimes I need to hear myself saying the lines before I write them. A lot of my visceral responses come in that “acting” process because I feel them myself. I get that dialogue down and where cues would be, I just make a not for later like “what is his face doing here?” Or I’ll write it in a tired, mundane way just to get it down.
I collect words and phrases. I have an ongoing note on my phone, and whenever a phrase strikes me, or I hear a word I haven’t heard in a long time, or someone says something I think I can manipulate for my purposes, I jot it down on that note. When I circle back through my MS, I have that note handy and identify where I can use those phrases to freshen the “slumpy” stuff I did on the first pass.
There was one point while writing book two that I literally wrote out DABS and TIP-QVR (from Margie’s classes) to remind myself of all the things at my disposal to communicate what was going on! Ha!
Good for you!
Margie Asks Kennedy: What did you learn writing book two that you wish you’d known when writing book one?
Kennedy Responds: I was much too isolated when I wrote book one. Well, actually books one and two were, as I said, originally one book. When we split the book, the second half essentially became another book that I got to attack with fresher eyes because I had more time.
I did my 5-day immersion class with Margie (Hello Veranda Vixens!), and I did a Fab 30 (Advanced Deep Editing class online with Margie), but I didn’t use beta readers much. With book two, I used betas and got such useful feedback.
I am spoiled by the Margie process, so I have my girl Kimberly Belle (featured in the previous Pubbed Margie-Grad Blog) to make sure I am Margie-fying! LOL! But just plot and story, I wasn’t very collaborative. I’m still not instinctively, but I see the benefits of it. And to just write.
I learned that more with book three even than with book two. I was not used to writing on deadline. Wasn’t used to the pressure. Book three made a much more disciplined writer out of me.
I also learned not be afraid to overwrite. Sometimes, if you’re not careful, you can abuse these tools and it’s too much. I got a lot of overwriting from my editor when I thought I was just amplifying. But it was OK because I would rather have too much power or too much of a good thing and have to pull it back, than have anemic text that doesn’t pop.
I trimmed those hedges she though were overgrown and put my scraps in a document for another MS!
When it was time to write book three, I went to my scrap bag of all those phrases my editor thought might be too much, and recycled them for another book. Especially smiles and tone and cadence and expression - things like that which could be easily transferred between characters, and made my writing fresh.
Smart, smart, smart!
Margie Asks Kennedy: Do you remember how you developed the dialogue run below? Did it look close to this on your first pass? If not, what was different?
“What does he have to feel guilty about?” Something quiet and deadly slid into Walsh’s voice.
“Um…”“Don’t even think about lying to me. What are you not telling me?”
“Walsh—”“I’ll find out, so just tell me now.”
“Well, they had a fight.”
“And apparently Cam…”
“Cam had been drinking and stormed off. Kerris was scared he’d hurt himself, so she went after him, and it was raining. There was something in the road. She veered and hydroplaned.” The details tumbled out in a rush, the waiting stillness on the other end making Meredith wish she could take back every word before they reached his ears.
“And you expect me to back off for him?” His words were so soft and ominous, a shiver of fear ran along her arms.
“If she dies, Meredith, I’ll twist that pretty face of his beyond recognition.”
Yeah. I remember it as a part of the acting out process I mentioned before. When I act it out; when I hear it aloud, and I record it, it helps me as I describe it.
I listened to how my voice naturally dipped and changed on certain phrases, and I looked for ways to describe that. I know that is not for everyone, but it’s just my process! LOL! The first pass, once I actually started writing, was very close to that, but it had expletives!
Margie Asks Kennedy: Do you have a plan for deep editing? Which Margie-tools do you make sure you use?
Kennedy Responds: Some things come more naturally to me now more than others. I always think, end this sentence with power. I find myself doing that as I write; rearranging sentence structure until the most powerful word “cabooses” that sentence (Margie’s backloading). Other things I really have to think about. I actually have a dialogue cheat card with me when I write. I focus on specificity. (Ex: instead of a shirt, I say in book 3 a Ninja Turtles t-shirt because it says something about the character’s age and innocence, which is important juxtaposed with the sexual abuse taking place in that scene.)
I also jot down the rhetorical devices I want to focus on because that list can be overwhelming, like an elephant I have to eat! Some of them are naturally occurring, but sometimes when I can tell a section needs some “oomph”, I’ll refer to my list and ask myself which of those 30 rhetorical devices might provide it.
My faves are anaphora, asyndeton, metaphor, personification, and amplification for power. I like enallage, too. Like I used “caboose” earlier in this post as a verb. I’ve noticed that I do that from time to time. I just like playing around with words; testing my command of the language. I also find myself using the setting to communicate what’s going on inside. For example, in this snippet from WHEN YOU ARE MINE:
Walsh stood to scrape the remnants of their meal into the garbage disposal, grinding the food and the intimacy they’d shared with the flick of the switch. He rinsed and dried the plates, packing everything up.
I love that example. I love all of your examples. I'm so glad you could share them on the blog! Thank you!
Kennedy is giving away two e-copies of Loving You Always.
Want to win? Just leave a comment below.
Winners will be drawn Friday evening.
Want to connect with Kennedy?
Kennedy Ryan grew up in North Carolina, but loves living in Atlanta with her husband (tall – check, dark – check – handsome – check), and her handful of a son. Though she knew, like writers often do, that she was supposed to tell stories, the road to fulfillment has been paved with “some of everything” jobs that kept her family eating and living indoors. With her degree in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Tar Heels!), she has focused on writing for non-profit organizations and even doing some non-fiction ghost writing. Only in the last few years did she start telling stories again.
In addition to being a devoted wife and mom, she’s also passionate about serving families living with Autism. Her son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two, and she has made it her mission to help as many families as possible find the resources and services they need.