Mae Clair’s Wizard with Words: Venice Kennedy

Hey everyone, I’m super excited about the Word Wizard I’m introducing today. Venice Kennedy is an indie-author who writes stories of vibrant romance. She’s also a good friend who encouraged me to get off my duff and submit the manuscript for WEATHERING ROCK.  Without her, I never would have taken that step out the door.

We’ve known one another for several years but, in 2011, made a joint decision that 2012 was going to be ‘our year’ for publication. I chose to work through an e-pub house and Venice chose to indie-publish.

Want to hear something really weird? The official release day for WEATHERING ROCK, October 8th, was also the day Venice published her short story, BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE, Book 1 in the LOVE BLOOMS series. We didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. Is that kismet or what? :)

Okay, without further giddy exposition on my part, I’d like you to meet Venice. I’m going to ask her to share a bit about herself and how she developed her passion for writing.

VENICE: Mae, I could have could have been doing this decades ago.   If I had been more in touch with the voices in my head telling me I was a writer, so I’m a late starter. I always wrote songs, and poems, and little snippets of story ideas.  It wasn’t until college that I started writing short stories.  My professors often picked mine as the story to read out loud. But I was majoring in Theatre, and had my eyes on bright lights and Broadway, and missed the boat on developing my writing during those college years. I even took a screen writing course and the person teaching it was a VP for NBC. He told me I had a good shot at a career in the field if I wanted it. I don’t know what wasn’t clicking in my head for me not to ‘own’ that I was I writer.

Later down the road, one of my family members struggled with mental illness and I hardly wrote or read much during the years my family and I tried to get through those bad times. I know this is personal stuff, but I hope that someone out there reading this will see how your destiny can come back around to you after you missed grabbing hold of it the first few hundred times!  It wasn’t until my mom died that I grasped that I didn’t have forever to find and live out my passion for writing. One thing I will add – - I used to get ribbed as a kid for being addicted to TV. I was always watching. It was my company. Now, I realize my true addiction was to the ‘story’—and I was learning and craving to understand the nuances of character, plotting and story. What I learned is ingrained in my writing.

So let’s talk about your chosen genre. You write interracial sweet romance. In a world where Fifty Shades of Gray is topping bestseller charts, some might call sweet romance old-fashioned or passé.  Personally, I love a sweet romantic tale. Tell us about your vision for the LOVE BLOOMS series and what attracted you to your chosen genre.

VENICE: First I just have to say what a kick this is, Mae. It’s pretty incredible that we made that joint decision in 2011 and that we are living out our dreams to be published authors—and ended up taking different routes, but publishing on the same day! How’s that for kismet?  I’m so thrilled over all you’ve accomplished and extremely happy we paired up to encourage each other. Now to your question—

I discovered interracial romance books a while back. I wasn’t reading romance at all, but quickly fell in love with the genre.  Interracial and multicultural romance is growing in popularity, and while there are lots of great IR books out there, just like in other kinds of romance there is a lot of the scorching hot erotica being published right now. But not that many sweet or sensual, which is my preference.

I have a few reasons that I write sweet interracial. As a reader and writer erotica isn’t a fit for me, so I write what I’d like to read. What is really cool is that I have also found that oh so magical ‘niche’ folks say new writers should look for. I get that some people call sweets or inspirational romance old-fashioned, but I see myself as a contemporary woman, a contemporary writer, who doesn’t need explicit detail to accept that my favorite couple have hot sex –and have it often. LOL! I much rather enjoy reading or writing about the time and spaces in between, and leave the explicit stuff for those who love writing it. Oh, and I’m also an African American woman who has dated interracially. It was a no-brainer for me to throw my voice into the ring.

Love Blooms is my series of shorts and novellas, I’m using it as a way to introduce folks to my writing. Showcasing what I’ve chosen to tag as “Vibrant Interracial Romance.’ I want my stories and characters to resonate — to set off an empathetic vibration in my readers because life has taken them into some of the same valleys and has them hoping to reach the same mountain tops. Ultimately, I’m writing the kinds of stories I want to read.

I read a lot of great IRs but you don’t see a lot of sweet IRs coming out. I just want to offer IR and MC readers more to choose from and also hope I’ll be giving some readers what they’ve been asking for. While African American women interested in, or involved in interracial romance, are my main audience I hope my stories will appeal to a wider audience because everyone can relate to the emotions, hopes and desires we all experience in the journey to true love.

Did I mention I was long-winded? Hah! There may be some folks out there who don’t know much about what’s going on in the IR genre, so I’m taking the advantage of sharing. :)

I’ve read several interracial romances and am always on the lookout for a new one. How about sharing the blurb for BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE?

John Vincent and Amerise Carlton are ready to strangle their mutual friend, Ellen, when she pairs them on a blind date certain to be a recipe for disaster. What should have been a fun-filled evening turns sour when the mismatched couple butts heads over dinner. Toss in an inept waiter, the hottest day of the year, a city-wide blackout, and circumstance goes from bad to worse. Just when rock bottom looms near, the unlikely couple is given a new perspective.

A moonlit garden, novelty candy, and a sweet summer night open the doorway to understanding. Can this unlikely couple find the sugary spark of romance in a city engulfed by darkness?

Maybe Ellen was on to something after all!

BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE is Vol#1 of the Love Blooms Series.

I remember when you initially shared your idea for this story and how the concept intrigued me, especially factoring in the blackout. Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you came up with the idea? It’s so unique!

VENICE: My stories always start with me having a glimpse of a thought in my head. Wondering over what kinds of emotions someone might be having when a particular event or experience happens to them draws my writing attention. The rest of the story blossoms organically from there. Same thing happened with BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE. I wanted to show how Love can easily dismantle the walls two people put up between them, even if a whole city has to be shut-down for love to have its way.

On a side note, Mae, Blackout was going to be a contest entry for a new IR publisher, and you know my instincts told me not to submit it to them. While writing it, I was also taking a few courses on indie publishing over at Savvyauthors.com and said to myself—why not start with this one.

Tell us a little bit about your characters, John and Amerise and what a reader can expect from them.

VENICE: John Vincent and Amerise Carlton are two ordinary likeable, lonely souls. He’s white, she’s black, and initially that’s all they are willing to acknowledge about each other when a mutual friend sets them up on a blind date. When they end up getting stuck together during a city-wide blackout, a lot of who and what they really are shines through, revealing a connection they might have missed. Whether race, culture, or any other difference that keeps people apart— what I’m celebrating in BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE is the connection that lingers right under the surface if we just take the time to find it.

That’s a powerful thought. Let’s talk about your experience with publishing for a moment.You’re a brand new author who has indie published her first novel. Looking back over the experience, what was the biggest hurdle?

VENICE: Social media was, and is, my biggest hurdle. It’s just how I am, never was a big fan of it. Right now I’m caring for an elderly parent and that means my time is limited. I’d much rather be writing when I get time to work. I have difficulty with marketing and selling myself, but I’m learning.  While I should be doing twitter and FB, I’m not there yet. I just started blogging, a new challenge for me and honestly I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying it. Maybe I’ll end up feeling the same way about twitter & FB?? I hope so. Then, there’s also the challenge of trying to put myself on deadlines. Without a publisher out waiting for me to produce, I find I keep moving the writing to the next day, then the next– not good! Other challenges I probably don’t even know about I’m sure will pop up. Oh, and of course there’s the expenses I have to cover- ebook artwork, formatting, editors, proofreaders, all the expenses publishing houses pick up for their authors.

Would you do anything differently if you had to do it over again?

Venice: I wish I had put up something more substantial first time rather than a short story.   I loved writing BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE, and am proud of it. Many folks, I’m coming to understand, prefer a longer read. As an indie, I have complete freedom to make pricing decisions. Maybe giving my story away free would have been a good marketing tool, but for the hours I spent tweaking it, I couldn’t start my writing journey that way. It’s just a psychological for thing for me. I thought about doing the freebie thing but decided to go with my gut and voted against it.

What do you see as being the strongest benefit of indie-publishing?

Control over my covers and not having to fit my story into a predetermined set of restrictions.  The size and landscape of anything I write is all my making. Right now, I’m working with an artist on the cover for the second short in my LOVE BLOOM SERIES, TENDING DEACON’S GARDEN. I’m having fun going back and forth tweaking it to my liking.  It’s beautiful, and I’m very happy with it. I believe it’s going to help me bring more depth to the story.

So I’m assuming this is on the schedule for the near future. Any other upcoming releases you’d like to share with us?

I’m putting myself on notice with this announcement—I’m  indie-publishing my novella TENDING DEACON’S GARDEN, the second story in my LOVE BLOOM SERIES, and a novel  I SEE YOU in 2013. Now I better get my calendar out and note deadlines on it ASAP! :)

And now, some quicksilver questions:

Favorite food: Seafood, most any kind of fish or shellfish. Thanksgiving Dinner!  How timely is that for ya! Truth is, my favorite food depends on what I’m craving at the moment.

Favorite vacation spot: Darn, I haven’t traveled much, but I’m normally very happy at any little New England seaport.

Silver or gold: Silver, I even collect vintage silver jewelry.

Coffee or tea: I love both, but need a cuppa coffee every morning!

Casual or dressy: Casual, but if I have to dress up, I love it if I can find ‘just’ the right outfit.

Favorite ice cream: Dark, chocolatey with any kind of nuts (ok,fine—and hot fudge, too!)

Three books you couldn’t be without: I don’t know if I’ve read those three yet, Mae. But I will say I happened onto these three just at the right time to urge me to make my move to write.

1.Octavia Butler’s PARABLE OF THE SOWER (2nd book Parable of Talents). I had caught a cable interview of an African American woman, sci-fi writer one Saturday afternoon, and for some reason the way she talked about the craft of writing got into my soul.  Sometime later when I happened onto her PARABLE OF THE SOWER I was stunned by her ability to say so much with so little. Her writing made me fall back in love with books.

2. Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS. For me, it was a lesson on great storytelling.

3. All of the first great reads that introduced me to the IR genre: HAVE YOU SEEN HER? by Chicki Brown, UNFINISHED BUSINESS by Kayrn Langhorne, RECONSTRUCTING JADA CHANNING  by Savannah J.Frierson, IVY’S TWISTED VINE by Latrivia Nelson, and  THE BOMAW SERIES  by Mercedes Keyes. And many more!

And, Mae, there’s always a Bible nearby for inspiration and guidance.

That’s an awfully good book to have nearby :) What do you like to do when you’re not reading or writing:

VENICE: I could spend hours hanging out in little, out-of-the way consignment shops, flea markets or going to tag sales searching for vintage costume jewelry to add to my collection. I also dabble in making jewelry. I love spending time with friends catching music in a small venue. A nice drive to a small town or a big city to have dinner and drinks overlooking the water would be a perfect day for me. My newest favorite thing is Zumba, I love to dance, and it’s great exercise.  You saw my answer on my favorite foods, right? :D

That was fun! Before we wrap things up, do you have any advice you’d like to share? You encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing professionally and took the plunge yourself. We both know there are pitfalls along the way but the end result is worth the effort. What advice would you give the writer who is hovering on the brink?

VENICE: Find yourself a like-minded writing pal, or a writing community that’s a good fit, someplace you’d enjoy spending lots of time learning the ropes.  Take online classes at a great place like Savvyauthors.com which give you the opportunity to hang out with writers in all stages of their careers. I don’t think I would have been able to make the leap without having those support systems. I’d tell them–Don’t sit back and watch everyone doing what you know is in spirit to do. Don’t waste those years like I did!   I’d tell them, Mae, if you’re going indie—pay for editors/proofreading services.  You may only get one chance to impress a reader when they get a sample of your book. Don’t turn them away because of typos, not after you’ve put all of your blood, sweat, tears and time into your work.

Well said! Thanks, Venice. I’m thrilled to have you on my blog today and to welcome you to Wizards with Words. Consider yourself treated as royalty with red-carpet fanfare. And, of course, I expect you to come back again! :D

VENICE: This was nice, Mae. You have been a wonderful inspiration to me and a great example to any new writer on how to do it right!  WEATHERING ROCK is amazing. Your debut’s rave reviews are proof of that. I can’t wait for your next one “THE TWELFTH SUN”, and I’m sure you already have many, many fans who are as eager as I am to read it. Continued success to you and BTW—Great blog! Thanks so much for this interview, it was fun!

BIO
From the very first time she read an interracial romance novel, Venice Kennedy knew she was bound and destined to join the ranks of all the writers out there creating those kind of love stories that just make ya wanna sigh. So she stepped out of her box, discarded some emotional baggage, knocked a few walls down and let her often neglected romantic side soar free. Now Venice is focused on returning to her first love–writing. Bringing readers her ‘vibrant’ interracial romance stories, with characters that she hopes her readers will love as much as she does.

Will she buy that cottage with a lake-view, one where she’ll go for retreats to write, sing, blast her beloved music and dance? And, is there a hunky alpha male in her near future? Why, yes! Of course, yes! That’s the great thing she’s discovered while writing sweet romance– a belief that love and new found joy is always just around the bend.

Buy Links for BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE

BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE

Look for Venice Kennedy at the following haunts
Bog ~ Love Blooms
Goodreads
Email
: venice@venicekennedy.com

27 thoughts on “Mae Clair’s Wizard with Words: Venice Kennedy

  1. Thanks for having me over to your place, my friend. I had so much fun doing this, and consider it a great opportunity to be interviewed by you. Continued success to you, Mae! I eagerly await your your next book, Twelfth Sun!!

    ~venice

    • Happy to have you here, Venice! And wishes for much success back’atcha. You know I wasn’t going to let you publish and not interview you, LOL. I’m anxious to get my hands on TENDING DEACON’S GARDEN, the next one in your Love Blooms series (such a cool concept)! :D

      • Um I’d love to get my hands on a finished, and edited TENDING DEACON’S GARDEN myself, Mae! :)

        Who would have thought we’d be doing all this? It’s wonderful, ain’t it!?

  2. I love the blurb for Blackout in the Garden of Love. A moonlit garden, novelty candy, and a sweet summer night – sounds lovely.
    I also wasted too many years only half-heartedly dabbling in publishing. I got my act together in the last year.

    • Thanks, Emma! I had fun linking together those particular things to lead John and Amerise to each other. Still surprised in fact that it all came together! :)
      How wonderful that you got it together and published last year!!Cheers to that! It’s weird how during those down times, when I was just thinking and pouting, being published seemed like such an impossible mountain to climb. Now, on the other side, I wonder what seemed so scary? I will say, it’s hard to get the writing in sometimes, but I’m thrilled to have a visible path to where I’m going, instead of as you called it, a half-hearted one.

      • I agree with both of you that a lot of it comes down to mindset. You want something and go after it, even if it involves scaling a scary mountain to get there. Once you start climbing there’s nowhere to go but up!

      • It is difficult to knuckle down and get the writing done, but once you decide to do it and make a real go of it, writing and the publishing process gets much easier.

  3. That’s good news to hear, Emma. Once I jump this hurdle of trying to keep the writing and publishing on the top of my to do list, I really feel like I’ll be able to fly! The trick is, as you said, is to DECIDE and make a REAL GO of it! I’ll remember that. :)

  4. Great interview Venice and Mae. Venice, I finished BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE. I love it! Amerise had poor John sweating. I love the way you describe that. Looking forward to the next, TENDING DEACON’S GARDEN.

    • Thanks for coming by, Alicia. I agree with you that Amerise really put John through some steps, LOL. I did love their interaction in the garden and the sweetness that prevaded the whole story. Venice has a gift for that.

    • Hey, Alicia!! Thanks so much for all your support and encouragement, and for buying and loving BLACKOUT!! Woo hooo! That makes me very happy! I can’t wait to return the blessing back your way.! :)

  5. I loved the premise of the book. What an awesome way to remove the superficialness and to get to the heart of the matter. Awesome sounding book and interview. Nice to know I’m not the only late bloomer who stepped away from her writing only to return. :-)

  6. Venice, that was a great interview. I should have been getting my writing out there when I was younger, like, thirty. It was harder then as you had to send a huge manuscript because the Net wasn’t what it is today. Also, I write erotica and that was harder to sell back then than it is now. By the time I was ready to dive in and write I had some health issues which I’ve finally started to overcome but I still wish I’d started all this years earlier. I am indie too for all the same reasons you are. I like the control of everything but I admit that editing is a hurdle. I hope when I get more active on Savvy that I’ll meet some writing friends.

    I like that you write what you read. I used to get flack for wanting to write erotica, but I write what appeals to me and I feel a writer who writes what they love is going to have a better story than someone writing with a trend. So keep writing what you love no matter what anyone else says. It’s fabulous that you’re finally living your dream!

    • Cadence, I should have been submitting years ago too, but in those “dark days of yore” :D the epubbing houses and indie didn’t exist. I remember bundling up a manuscript in a box and shipping it off to a traditional publisher once (I received an invite to submit from a partial) but it amounted to a lot of frustration and work. Epubbing and Indie has made such a difference for so many writers.

      I still struggle with the “write what you read concept’ because I read across multiple genres and I find myself wanting to explore writing in all of them. For now, I’m sticking with sensual romance but I’m working on a mystery and I have a fantasy novel I would love to tackle again.

      I didn’t realize you’d joined Savvy. It’s a great place to learn, network and even participate in editor and agent pitches. Lovely to know you’re there!

      • Mae, I have a couple of genres I particularly enjoy reading and would love to publish across them. I think you should do that if you can! I plan to become more active on Savvy in the new year so hopefully we’ll run into each other there :)

    • Cadence sounds like you traveled over some rough ground to find your way to writing. What a great time though for all of us taking the long way around. That we have the ability to take control over everything and indie publish instead wasting more time caught up in trying to find a traditional publisher– is a blessing! Sure there are lots of challenges in doing — but there’s no turning back now, right! :)

      I totally agree with what you’re saying about writing what you love making a better story. Ultimately that’s going what I’m going to let guide me. As long as I keep my writing on that track, I’ll put out work I can be proud of, and happy with. So nice to hear you followed that in your own journey!

      Very glad to hear you have overcome health issues! Blessings to you.

      • Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, Venice :) You may see me as one of your followers in a couple of months once I get my own blog set up. I plan to follow authors in my own genre, however I also follow a few people I feel I “mesh” with in terms of opinions, feelings, and their writing journey. It’s holiday time now so I may not be online as often, but I will definitely see you in the new year. Early holiday wishes to you!

  7. Well, Cadence— if you’re setting up a blog, I’ll tell you– Savvy is a wonderful place for you to hang out and pick up all kinds of classes on blogging. All areas of blogging and marketing, techie tips, pitching, going-indie, writing and soo much more are offered there for unbelievably prices. Honestlyy, sometimes I found myself overloaded with courses, as there wer so many I wanted to take being given at the same time. Each time, I strangely believed I could pull it off. I learned a whole bunch there. And I absolutely believe the time I spent taking various courses on Savvy made it easier for me to put my dream into action. Love the place!! I haven’t taken many classes lately, but I’ve got a free workshop coming up in December. Can’t wait to see the creative eye and touches you bring to setting up your blog!! And, yes— we do have a ‘mesh’ thing going on!! I’m excited and eager to hear about all you’re going to be accomplishing on your journey. Thanks for the early holiday wishes, and of course—I wish that right back atcha! 
    And Mae, I absolutely agree with Cadence. I hope you’ll let all the different stories you’ve got to offer the world come out and play, regardless of “the rules” for published authors. It would be an awful shame if that didn’t happen, my friend.

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