|PJ & Kris at RWA 2011|
Out of the Comfort Zone
My latest story, DECEPTION (link: http://kriskennedy.net/), was just released on the world last week, and I’m so excited! I’m also a bit terrified.
Without meaning to (but sort-of, kind of meaning to) this story pushed creative boundaries for me, and did so within some tight timelines.
DECEPTION is like my other books in some central ways: it’s a medieval, it has what I call ‘the good alpha’ hero (the guy strong and in charge, but confident enough in himself that a strong woman doesn’t frighten him), it’s got a strong, smart, determined heroine, and the sensual passion between the hero and heroine is strong, and that desire is central to shaping their relationship. :)
But it’s also different from the other stories. It’s not your typical medieval romance, with knights and sword fights and chases across the countryside. It’s more about con jobs. And dirty money. And the powerful men who want it, and what they'll do to get it.
And of course, the person who will risk everything to stop them.
Irishman Kier is a con man with a history of staggering successes and one truly awful failure. Now he's on a mission of revenge, and the men who betrayed him are about to pay. He’s set up an elaborate long con against some of the most powerful men in England. He’s planned everything: the bait to lure his targets out, the methods by which he’ll reel them in. He’s a professional schemer in every cell in his body, and thus, he’s planned for everything.
Except the appearance of the woman who can bring the whole thing crashing down around him.
Sophia is a woman who’s been pushed a little too far, a little too often, and now she’s pushing back. She intends to stop the powerful men who’ve shadowed her life. To do that, she needs proof of their evil deeds, which lie in the Darnly ledger. The ledger documents the corruptions of some of the most powerful men in England, and it has the potential for extortion on a grand scale.
In the king’s hands, it can ruin them.
Sophia intends to make sure that’s exactly what happens. Simple enough. Until, sneaking in to steal the ledger, she meets up with Kier. He wants the same thing she does, the Darnly ledger. She has no intention of giving it to him. He has no intention of letting her go until she does.
And neither is backing down.
It doesn’t help that they were once in love.
From the moment of their unexpected, explosive reunion, Sophia knows that Kier—her ex-lover, her outlaw lover, the man who stole her heart then threw it off a cliff five years ago—is up to no good. But when all her other options have been removed, when the only thing left to do is to walk away and accept defeat, Sophia plunges headlong into Kier’s dangerous schemes, determined to bring down the corrupt men who’ve ruined her life. One of whom, she’s quite sure, is Kier.
This whole set-up, from plot to characters, was so different from my other three. First of all, it was a reunion story, and I’ve never done one of those before. It was fun, and different.
Additionally, there were no knights (except a false one) and no chases across the countryside (although the story takes place during a very hot summer, and thus there are thunderstorms and, subsequently, wet tunics draped over a muscular body, and at one point, there is ice involved). And it’s not always clear which is the (metaphorical) dragon to be slain.
Usually, my stories are almost Errol Flynn-like adventures. I love that sort of drama; it’s a blast to write, and has built-in tension. But this one was different. I had to build tension differently. A reunion is different from a first-meet. Fleeing from danger is different from setting a trap. Hiding from the bad guys is not the same as putting yourself directly in their line of sight. Riding across the countryside is different from dressing for a gala affair. Pursuing a bad guy is fundamentally different from luring him in.
Instead of chases and armor and clarity about who the bad guy is, there’s planning and targeting and confounding people. There’s dressing in rich clothes to fool people and feigning distress when they discover the very thing you meant for them to see. There are men to trick and men to fight, there are offices to be broken into and rumors to start. There are tall ships with green sails and long, hot summer nights between two people who have dreamt of each other for five long years.
Hmmm...I guess that DECEPTION is not so different from the others, for all that the plot pushed me out of my comfort zone. In the end, it’s still one of mine. Strong passions, strong men and women, a dragon to slay, and people risking everything for all the right reasons: the person they love.
And I hope you love it!
Kris writes hot historical romances for Pocket Books, with a scorching self-published novella coming later in 2012. Visit her website for news, excerpts, to sign up for the newsletter, or to drop Kris a line! http://kriskennedy.net
How have you stepped out of your comfort zone? Kris is giving away a book to one randomly selected person leaving a comment on today's blog. (U.S./Canada only) Winner's choice of Deception or Defiant.
Congrats on the new release, Kris. I think the most common way that I've stepped out of my comfort zone to when I must come out of my shell when the situation calls for me to be vocal.ReplyDelete
Oh, my, do I share that comfort zone boundary! Whether it's a public speaking situation or simply a meeting where I have to speak up, it's usually a high-anxiety experience. But when it's worth it, we speak up anyhow. Yay, us! :)
Thanks so much for taking the time to say hi, Jane!
In my experience, the more we force ourselves to come out of that shell, the easier it becomes. Glad you're letting your voices be heard!Delete
Hi Kris, I have wanted to read your books and "Deception" sounds like a great place to start!ReplyDelete
I was quite shy growing up so overcoming that has always been something that takes me out of my comfort zone. But the most important thing I have ever done is to stand up and be the advocate my son needed in his K-12 years. He has a serious visual perceptive disorder that was little understood and caused us all a great deal of frustration during those years, especially because despite having a near genius verbal IQ, he struggled mightily with non verbal issues. The discrepancy between the visual and the verbal aspects of his intellect was something we always had to explain and deal with throughout all of those school years. Until he could be his own advocate I had to crawl out of my own shell to fight that fight. It has paid off enormously for him, however: He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009 and starts Law School there later this month!
Flora, too many children fall through the cracks because they don't have people advocating for them. Cheers for you stepping out of your comfort zone to go to bat for your son!Delete
Good for you, being your kid's advocate! Paradoxically, in our educational system, I find we've become less and less tolerant of students who don't fit inside a very tightly-drawn line on the bell-shaped curve of "normal" or "acceptable" (i.e. how long a child can sit still, their style of learning). We're also incredibly un-curious about outliers (although, unfortunately that's nothing new!) But you stuck it out, and did the uncomfortable thing, over and over, and it turned out beautifully! I'm so happy to hear about your son's success. :)
And thanks so much for coming by and your thoughtful reply. As you can tell from my blog, I truly don't know if Deception is the best place to start or not--you can let me know! ;)
Kris, thank you for the terrific blog today. As the Dishes know, I lke to start a new author from the beginning of their body of work, or at least from the beginning of a series. Where do you recommend I start?Delete
PS. If you are planning to attend RWA/2013 in Atlanta, I'd love to have a chance to meet you!
Flora, each of Kris's books stands on its own but if you want to start at the beginning of her writing journey, pick up a copy of her debut, The Conqueror and go from there.Delete
Congratulations on the new book. I do like stories where the good guys and the bad guys aren't so obvious. I would say I am trying to move my family out of our comfort zone food wise. I am trying to find healthier recipes and get the bad stuff out of the house.
That's a very good place to move, Maureen! I'm struggling to do the same.Delete
Welcome, Kris! It's great to have you with us today!ReplyDelete
And it's great to be here again! Thanks so much for having me over.
Can't you just feel the sexual tension in the air as you read that synopsis! I certainly do. OK. Comfort zone. I used to be rather shy but when my husband was sent from his position with NASA to work for a NATO agency in Paris, I had to step up to the plate a bit more than what I had been used to. Meeting many international people and entertaining them was a challenge but I put my best foot forward and met some absolutely lovely people. As my husband was the representative at scientific meetings in NATO countries, I became the "mother" to the other wives who had accompanied their spouses and helped to gather them together for special excursions planned for us. It was a bit challenging for a "former" shy person but I'm so thankful to have had the chance to step out of my comfort zone and push myself a bit more.ReplyDelete
Oohh, yay!! I'm so glad you feel the sexual tension just from that!! :)
Wow, I can only imagine the 'on-ness' that you felt during that time, especially early on. And yet, as with most things, if we push ourselves into discomfort and keep an open mind throughout, wonderful, unexpected riches come our way. Such as friendships! It also sounds like you developed a niche that fit for you (surrogate "mother") rather than just forcing yourself to fit into some generic mold. That is the mark of a highly creative person. :)
Thanks so much for saying hi, Connie, and if you read the books, any of them, I hope you love!
It was a bit challenging for a "former" shy person but I'm so thankful to have had the chance to step out of my comfort zone and push myself a bit more.Delete
Having been there myself, I know just how challenging it can be. Glad you found the courage to step outside your comfort zone and find the person you were meant to be!
Congrats on the new book! Sounds terific!ReplyDelete
Hmmm... I think having a kid definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone. Being a new mother forces me to learn so many new things!
You have me congratulations and my deep empathy! Being a new mom was so challenging for me. You're constantly being tested, and then, as soon as you think you've got something figured out, it changes. I finally told myself the only way I was going to "get it all figured out" was to let go of all control and predictability and just admit that everything was going to change. Western Zen Mommy. :)
It helped to be sleep-deprived those first 2-3 years, b/c you're half psychotic anyhow! ;)
May, I think being a mother pushes every woman out of her comfort zone. I hope it's also bringing you much joy!Delete
Deception is one of the carrots from this week's Super Tuesday in romance releases waiting for me to finish some have-to-dos before I can start reading. I can't wait! (Kris, I got the title right this time.)ReplyDelete
Actually, reading The Conqueror was a step outside my reading comfort zone since I generally avoided Medieval romances, although I loved teaching literary texts from the period. Manda Collins was the one who insisted I should read Kris's debut novel because it was more character-driven than many Medievals. And since Manda, like PJ, is a friend whose reading recs I heed, I read that first book, loved it, and have been a fan ever since.
Flora, I think you can start with any book by Kris and be a happy reader. Knowing the books and knowing you, I'm guessing you'll end up reading all of them. :)
Hey there! I know you pushed yourself into reading The Conqueror (many thanks to Manda for pushing you off the cliff :))
I really hope you love Deception. You're one of my core readers, and I am writing to give you ladies a fabulous story. That's part of why this stretch is so frightening. It was a constant creative push, on a tight deadline, but I hope it makes you happy. Thanks for your vote of confidence in me to Flora. :)
Janga, you do know me well! Since you know that I like to start from the beginnings; which of Kris's books do you suggest I start with?!Delete
Glad Manda gave you that push, Janga! If she hadn't, I probably would have been right behind her to do the deed. ;-)Delete
Getting out of my comfort zone usually involves getting my husband out of his. He is more of an introvert and as he would say I am just crazy. I like to have fun and sometimes I just need to kick him in the butt so he can have fun with me, even if he doesn't think he will...Good luch with your new book, would love to win. Are the 2 book choices related? If they are I guess I would want the first on, if not it doesn't matter, would love to read both.ReplyDelete
Good luck working on your husband to stretch his comfort zones! :)
None of my books are related, except *very* loosely, and Deception (the new release) is totally unconnected to Defiant.
Oh, I just finished Defiant and loved it and previously The Irish Warrior and really looking forward to Defiant. I learned to drive late in life and have a horrible sense of direction and so whenever I venture out of my area, it's definitely out of my comfort zone. It really has held me back in so many ways so I made sure my two daughters weren't like me. They are fearless which scares the heck out of me lol.ReplyDelete
LOL--no worries on mistakes, coffee-free or otherwise. I make too many myself to chastise anyone else. :)
I'm so glad you loved Defiant too!! Hope you love Deception just as much as the other two. ;)
Driving is one of those things you sometimes don't have much of a choice about, isn't it? If you want to go somewhere new, you've got to figure it out. I'm wondering, do you use a GPS nowadays, or do you use the 'old' methods (whatever they might have been for you, from maps to asking kindly strangers on the sidewalk. :))
oops so sorry, meant to say loking forward to Deception!!!ReplyDelete
aarrrghh I was up way too late last night and haven't had my coffee yet. Sorry for all the mistakes.ReplyDelete
Waiting for hubby's payday to see if I can sneak in getting Deception because I absolutely enjoy your books. Loved The Irish Lover and thank Joan Swan for directing me to your books.ReplyDelete
Comfort zones. I am an introvert. However when it comes to my sons I can be a force to be dealt with. With children you cannot be an introvert and let things slid by. I won't do that to my kids.
* Laughs * I have Defiant in my TBR pile. I had won two copies when it came out so I sent one to my friend in New Jersey to introduce her to you.
Raonaid at gmail dot com
LOL--tell your husband how happy it'll make you. ;) Thanks so much for kind words about Irish Warrior!
It's so true--being a mom is, by definition, a zone-pushing experience. We do things because we HAVE to, or because we're unwilling to settle for second-best in relation to our kids, whether it be role modeling or making sure they get the experiences we feel they need. I'm now serving on a school auction committee, the very LAST thing I'm built for, and that's all b/c of my kid, not me. :)
One of my first jobs after college... respiratory therapy tech... that was out of my comfort zone!ReplyDelete
Ohh, jobs that push our limits--very good of you! :)
I've spent much of my life forcing myself out of my comfort zone, usually with immensely gratifying results and me shaking my head and muttering, "Why didn't I try that before?" People who know me now would probably be shocked to learn I was once a very shy person with very little self-confidence but it's true. It took many years, and much comfort forcing, to evolve into the person I am today - a person I very much enjoy being!ReplyDelete
It's so true! So often, the thing we fear/worry about is NEVER as bad as we'd imagined. I spend a good bit of time pointing this out to my son. "See, that wasn't as bad as you thought, was it?" and "Aren't you glad you did that, even though you were scared?" etc. Now, to apply the medicine to myself more often.... ;)
I read Deception in draft form, and I can tell you that it's AWESOME!! One of my best reads this year. As for stepping outside my comfort zone, that happens every time I sit down to write!ReplyDelete
You've been my biggest support with last-minute reads and stellar feedback! :)
thanks for a great post and congrats to Kris on the newest release! I.... like my comfort zones... buuuut... once in a while, I'll stick a toe out :)ReplyDelete
Sometimes comfort zones are exactly what we need. I have a few I cherish. :) Thanks for the congrats!
Hi Kris! DECEPTION sounds like another winner. I am out of my comfort zone when I am driving somewhere I have never been before. My husband laughingly tells me that I would get lost in a wet paper bag since I have no sense of direction. Lol!ReplyDelete
Aww, thanks. I hope you love Deception!
Several others have said a sense of direction is tough for them too. I can imagine that would make driving or walking somewhere new quite daunting! Hope your hubby sticks close by! ;)
Congratulations on the post! Sometimes I do.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by. :)
Hello and welcome back, Kris! Deception sounds amazing!ReplyDelete
I tend to stay in my comfort zone most of the time. I'm thankful for someone like PJ who is very outgoing and helps me to open up to strangers when we're at a conference together. :) And, like Raonaid, when it comes to my kids, Mama Bear makes an appearance if needed. No one sticks up for them like my husband and me. :)
Right--Mama Bear doesn't let nervousness or fear stop her! :)
I'm the same way, so much more calm and at ease in public situations if a friend is there too. It's amazing what a support that is. I'll bet PJ is the perfect person to be walking through a crowded conference with! :)
I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone when I packed up and moved from California to Florida. I'd been working at the same company for over 30 years, so it was a big change for me. There were so many adjustments I had to make once I arrived, especially since there were four hurricanes the year I moved to Central Florida (2004).ReplyDelete
Oh, yes, moving across the country can change everything if you let it, and switching a major job at the same time? Go you! Although...4 hurricanes in the year you moved? Bah.
I admit I'm not too good at straying from my comfort zone. I tend to be a shy introvert that hates meeting/mingling with groups of people I don't know (much prefer hanging w/ just a few close friends/family), so I do try to force myself to go out regular to events where I am "forced" to be "social" with new people (rather than always staying home curled up with a good book) :)ReplyDelete
You and I are just the same--I'd prefer to be home than out (with a good book. :)) Her's to us marching out to stay connected to the world-at-large, rather than sitting home with a good book. :)
I am SUCH a medieval lover :)ReplyDelete
I like the "comfort zone" but when I do find myself having to step out of it I usually give myself a good pep talk then make a giant leap. Once it's over with, I feel better for doing it. It just takes a nudge from that inner self saying," Just do it, Leah"!
Go medieval lovers! :)
Pep talks can do wonders, can't they? The mind is a powerful thing, and what we tell ourselves matters a lot. it's so easy to focus on the scared parts of ourself and not the capable parts. That's where pep talks come in awfully handy! :)
Kris here~~ I'm so sorry for being delinquent as the day went on. Things are a little crazy here. Doctor's appointments took over in the afternoon, and then settling everyone in afterwards, plus a little downtime, knocked me off schedule.
I hear that so many of us are shy, and so many of us are fierce moms. That's a do-able combination. Not easy, but worth it. :)
Thank-you all so much for coming by!!!
I was always shy. I stayed in the background and rarely spoke in public. When I went into the Peace Corps and was overseas, all that changed. Needless to say it was obvious when I got there I wasn't from the Philippines. Luckily, I tan rather dark and after a while, many of those who did not know me thought I was a souvenir left behind by WWII GI's. Anyway, within a few weeks of my arrival in town, I was invited to a back to school assembly and asked (as in you will) to speak. I can say with certainty that yes knees do knock, and you can shake so hard you can't stand. If I had not had the lectern to hold onto, I would have been on the floor. I spoke too fast, too low, and most people there couldn't understand me. I can honestly say I wish I had not been able to get out of taking public speaking in college. Since then, I have spoken in front of many groups. It has gotten easier and I am rarely nervous any more. I would still prefer to be in the background, but I can handle it if I have to.ReplyDelete
I hope the release of DECEPTION goes well. i have a couple of your books and like the sound of this one. I look forward to reading it.
Public speaking is on of those common fears, isn't it? And sometimes, trial by fire is the best way. Having no option to escape, we tend to plunge in with more vigor. :)
I hope you love the other books, and Deception too!
I as a shy personne and I pushed myself in groups! Now I can say that I'm very happy that I push myself. I'm addicted to médiéval romances and I love Kris's books, I can't sait to read DECEPTION. Bravo Kris! Nicole LaverdureReplyDelete
Hi there Nicole! Good to see you. And I hope you love Deception--it'll be on its way to you soon. :)Delete
I just wanted to say again a big thank-you to PJ for having me over again, and to everyone for coming by and helping celebrate the release of DECEPTION! I loved hearing your stories about how you pushed yourselves out of your comfort zones--so often in regard to shyness or social nervousness. Oh, how I relate.ReplyDelete