First Cup of Coffee – August 5, 2022

Thoughts on being groomed to be nice and pleasing people, along with musings on “people will never forget how you make them feel,” insights from Maria Vale’s WOLF IN THE SHADOWS, and a meaningful review of ROGUE’S PAWN.




Transcript
00:01.87
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance here with my first cup of coffee. Happy dancing today is say it with me Friday. Woo August Fifth um first week of all this almost done depending on how you slice your week to He’s are busy. They like Friday also so um, how are you all. How are you doing I did not have a terribly productive day yesterday I did not hit my word count. But um I had a really good time at r coffee it was the first time that the group of us had been together in a while there’ve been just. What people going out and peopleing. So yeah, it was a really good time I got a little bit of writing in before I left and um, a little bit done when I got back did some royalty crunching so that was good. I’m still at a good place on this book I’m going to set up the pre-order soon. I’m going to do the cover reveal soon I think I’m going to do the cover reveal next week that’s pretty exciting isn’t it I think it’s exciting. So um, yeah I’ve I’ve passed midpoint I’m at 44,000 words liking this story having a really good time with it. So um, so yeah I feel like I’m a good place I think it’s going to release I should just commit I’m setting the release date for September Twenty Ninth you heard it here. Almost first I think I said it in the newsletter or at least I told assistant corine to say so in the newsletter. Ah, she tends to try to um, protect me from committing to Release States I don’t know why Ah but something blah blah blah stress blah blah blah. Things come up. Um blah blah blah don’t you don’t have to commit yourself I’m fucking committing myself September Twenty ninth it’s a cool morning here in Santa Fe um we had storms all night

02:35.31
jeffekennedy
But really didn’t get any rain. The storms just kind of circled lots of lightning and thunder um, so it was it was pretty. You know all around the valley seeing the heat lightning and the clouds and but it would be nice to get some more rain with it I know I’m greedy greedy now. So. But yeah, it’s almost a little cool for no sleeves just kind of nice people are always surprised that being in New Mexico that we have cool weather too. It’s um. Have to understand how geography works I don’t know what to tell you so the other thing I did yesterday and I’ve been thinking about this ever since it’s on my mind ah is I stopped in to pay the remainder of my bill on my new fountain. Ah, because the remainder is birthday present from the husband. So for those of you who may not listen every day that I broadcast I don’t know how you could, but you know hey choices. Um, so I had this big rock fountain. Installed up front that I’d been wanting for like ten years and it was expensive. Saved up for it partly Christmas present partly birthday present. So and and you may have heard me kind of like obsessing a little bit about John. About the mythical John and what John required to install the fountain and so forth and the install went great. But so there was this sales skill that I worked with Beth and she was like the person who greeted me when I got there and she helped and in general I liked her. She was good. Um, but. She was not communicative after after like I settled on the one I wanted in some way she was like trying to talk me out of that one and you know kept saying oh I could do other ones and I was like no no I like this one and then she was worried that was gonna be too. Big and and so I realized that a great deal of my anxiety about the install and my nervousness about the mythical John who turned out to be absolutely delightful and obliging and helpful. Unlike a mosquito. Um I realized that all of that had come from her. And so you know which I didn’t necessarily hold against her but from the time I put down my deposit because I did have that date right? My financial records until they actually installed the fountain was six weeks in a day and during that time I had to call twice to say.

05:23.17
jeffekennedy
So are you guys going to grab and install this founder what been set on my money but I thought you know it’s Santa Fe it’s New Mexico manana is a thing. It’s landscaping. They’ve probably it’s summertime. They’ve got lots of big clients I was willing to be patient. You know, obviously it wasn’t like I had to have it done for like a wedding or something like this so I was all right with that. Um, but you know I did have to pursue it several times. And there was a little bit of this anxiety involved and all of that I was good with so they came and installed it left I was a little bit dismayed that they left the great bear and that there were no rocks on top of it which I felt like was not explained to me which i. Felt like was kind of Beth’s fault you know that she didn’t say oh do you want rocks on top too because one of the guys who installed it said oh we could bring some rocks and you know if you want to pick out some rocks and it’s like well had I realized I would have just picked out some rocks on site and had to brig it. When they brought everything else to install the fountain right? but it was too late at that point and not those guys fall and I ended up doing it myself which was probably less expensive but definitely a lot of work. So so anyway it was it wasn’t perfect when it when they left but you know I was. I was satisfied with it and that very afternoon I got an email from Beth with an invoice for the rest of the money and I was like oh so you’ll know how this is right like when you’re eating at a restaurant and the. Ah, server is late with everything um leaves the table this happened to us during a polykon because we made a reservation ahead and yes, we were a big group of ten people but we made the reservation you know weeks and weeks ahead that. Delightful Maria Vale did it found this restaurant and made the reservation and warned them big group limited amount of time and when we got there, they didn’t even have the table set up which was a bad sign but the waiter would just ignore us. For long periods of time like everyone would be out of water. We’d be out of wine and we would have drunk a lot more wine had the waiter enabled that which I always wonder at because that’s just money in their pocket right? You know and maybe some people think that a group of women aren’t going to tip in which case they’re just.

08:05.68
jeffekennedy
Stupid and they don’t know life because almost every woman I know has at some point weighted tables and appreciates how much work it is and they tip well but this is beside the point. My analogy is the server who takes forever to. Do absolutely everything but then is Johnny on the spot with the bill at the end because they what can’t wait to get rid of you or whatever. So this struck me exactly that way. It’s like oh you sat on my money for six weeks barely communicated with me. Only communicated with me when I initiated. But oh you can fire off that email right away. So I ignored it I’m like it. It was a passive aggressive fuck you it was like I’ll pay the invoice I wanted to pay it I don’t well maybe want is a strong word. But. I was committed to paying it and so I you know left it and besides we were going out of town the following week so Wednesday Wednesday three business days later I get another email from Beth saying. I didn’t hear back from you. Did you get my email with the invoice and I was like really really bad. You are able to like now you can follow up when there’s money involved you know, like probably she got a commission or something I don’t know maybe they were chewing on her I don’t know but it. It annoyed me with initial caps and so I took a couple days I was on vacation and I emailed her back and I was nice I mean kind of nice and I explained and I said you know I’m taken aback that. You sat on my money for six weeks did not communicate with me. Ah, you know I felt like my project was low priority which okay, but to have the all the efficiency be piled into extracting the rest of the money from me. Ah, feels like not great. So customer service and she wrote back. Um, maybe a couple days later it wasn’t immediately and she apologized it was a reasonable apology. Um, so before I went to a polycon I did stop by there to try to pay the rest of my invoice. And they had already closed for the day. Um, you know it’s like they don’t make it really easy for you to do these things but and I emailed her at the beginning of this week and I said just letting you know that I stopped by to pay the invoice and you all are already closed for the day but I’ll try to stop by this week

10:56.62
jeffekennedy
And I think she sent back. Okay, that’s fine. So yesterday after rider coffee I was in that neighborhood and I stopped in and I was able to go in there and this other lady met me sort of outside they have like this little um, you know like it’s a big landscaping yard kind of thing. Um, and they have a very small like office hut and this other lady met me outside of it and she said can I help you and I said yes I’m here to pay the rest of my invoice and she said oh okay and she said something like are you Margaret and I was like no she says okay and den says what is your name and I say Jennifer Kennedy as I follow her inside. And inside leaning against the counter is Beth and I say hi and she goes oh hi and I said how are you doing it. She said great and she turns around and walks out the door and does not come back in the entire time and when I leave there is not hide nor hair her and the look on her face. I mean she was I don’t know ah not happy not happy I I don’t know if I could identify the mix of emotions but there was definite anger and she was not going to have a conversation with me right? she started to do the high. How are you think. Until she realized who I was and and it’s funny because like the second time I went in after she had waited on me. The second time she didn’t recognize me and this time she didn’t quite recognize me at first and you know I don’t expect people to recognize me completely. But. I did pay a fair amount of money and I am recognizable, especially because I’m my big hat on right people usually do remember me not bath. But anyway I was reflecting on this as I left. Um, you know paid my invoice. Chatted with one of the worker guys who was in there and the gal that you know took my money and told them that I love my fountain and they were just charming you know and they’re like oh we’re so glad you know and everything it’s like this was the customer experience I wanted um, not Beth who like hid from me. As I leave like what am I going to do to her and and I did wrestle with feeling kind of bad about this and I was thinking about that quote that’s attributed to Maya Angelou I don’t know if it you know internet who knows if it’s real, but it’s um. People might forget what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel and I think that this quote is often interpreted to mean that we should always make other people feel good about themselves and and I was wrestling with this feeling like.

13:47.37
jeffekennedy
Was I unkind to Beth should I have been kinder to her and I thought she will never forget how I made her feel about this and I thought well is that a bad thing and I feel like throughout my life especially when I was younger. I really viewed myself as not being a nice person I’d gotten so much feedback may I offer you some feedback? Do you guys see that when we I thought that was funny um that I was not nice that I could be nicer. And I think that this is something that women get all the time right? You know that we need to be nicer and I’ve been reading um Wolf in the Shadows. Ah the last book in the legend of all wolves series by Maria Vale love this series it’s lyrical it’s gorgeous um I’ll put up a review but one of the things she really explores in this book is the female protagonist is a woman who has been sort of relentlessly molded to be nice and she’s learned to smile. In this particular way I’m sort of like trying to do it on video that is like a pleasing smile with her lips enticingly open but I saw in the video that a mosquito right in the middle of my forehead that’s enticing. But so as not to make her cheeks look fat and I think anyone who’s like done a selfie for Instagram we’re always trying to do that figure out how to like smile without squinching our eyes and making our cheeks look fat. Um, yeah, and and a lot of it is her. Being having pleasing behavior and I thought well I think a whole lot of my viewing myself as not nice when I was younger was from some of this relentless coaching to be more pleasing to be softer to be more attractive and. Later in life. It does become a thing where you stop caring about that so much. Um, you don’t really care about enticing men. Um, maybe because you have a man or maybe because you don’t care anymore or you never did depending on your orientations and. Ah, how many fucks you have left to give but it’s it’s been interesting to me also later in life having so many people say to me that I am a really nice person you know and and they use the word. Um.

16:27.67
jeffekennedy
Generous and I love that that people call me generous because it’s important to me to be generous and so I was thinking holding to a line and that’s one of my favorite quotes from Georgia O’keeffe and it really is from Georgia O’keeffe where she said um, if you can find. Where your line is and hold to it that is the most one can do in life and yeah, you know maybe saleswoman bets won’t forget how I made her feel but maybe she’ll become a better salesperson. Maybe not because um. Learning from the lesson. She would have stayed there and had a conversation with me and been like you know because I could be a repeat customer right? if I’m a repeat customer I’m not going to work with Beth but otherwise I was really happy with the work they did so that was on my mind. Um, yeah, that sometimes people remember how you made them feel doesn’t mean that they have to feel warm and fuzzy and good about themselves. You know that’s we don’t all need to feel good about ourselves all the time right? Especially if we screw up. So the other thing I want to share is I got a um ah review of Rogue’s Pawn so I’ve released Rogue’s Pawn and Rogue’s Possession. Rogue’s Paradise book 3 is coming out. Um like in another week or so I’m getting it uploaded. And this is one of my longtime readers and I wanted to share this to share this with you not to you kind of to you? Ah, but I thought that um you all might find this interesting since I was angsting a fair amount you know about releasing this book and that I’ve changed as a writer. And so I thought she gave this a really thoughtful interesting review. Ah, but but but um, where she says I’m not going to read you the whole thing. Um, she says comparing her early works to her more recent work definitely shows how she’s grown I mean alas I figured this would show that’s me, um, it says Miss Kennedy’s author note at the beginning of the book provides insight and genuine reflection that I appreciate. Which is good right? Good thing I did that with this in mind I went into the book with lower expectations I should not have worried the concept of this story blew me away. It takes a different look at the faye and creates something new yet familiar authors who can make an existing mythos. Fresh are impressive.

19:11.82
jeffekennedy
The rough part is the writing style and the character voice. Yeah I got better at that. Um I can definitely see how this is one of her earlier works her writing style has evolved to have more complicated world building as well as complex characters. Her later stories are layers upon layers. In rogue’s pond there is intrigue and a little layering by doling out information in bits and bits Jennifer a k lord lady sorcerer is a human who has sucked into another world where she neither knows the rules nor the people people the reader is following her first person account and is just as befuddled. This world is a reinterpretation of the fay. How Ms Kennedy blends and bends the mythos to her wishes is intriguing. It parallels Jennifer’s experience on this bizarro world. This could be a high fantasy book but it mixes in romance and even some bdsm non con. Ah yeah, which is fair. Ah, which makes it defy easy Categori’s categorization story of my life. This is why I could not sell this book suffice to say that I ended up with a book hangover and wished I could have taken a sick day. The ending of the story hooks me into the next book and I want to dive right into Rogue’s Possession recommended to fantasy readers who enjoy their fate. Dark and careless. So I love that I love um, everything about it. It’s it’s interesting to have someone else assess in the same way that I did um that it was um, you know I’ve grown out as writer. And it was tempting to fix things. But I’m kind of glad I didn’t because it’s part of our history right? Um, yeah, so thoughts for a Friday I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and. Get to ah I was trying to to frame this wish for you that you ah behave according to your authentic heart I will talk to you all on Monday you all take care bye bye.

The Hybrid Life for Me!

ROGUE’S POSSESSION is now out!! 

This release dovetails nicely with this week’s topic. We’re asking, Traditional publishing, self-publishing or a fusion of the two. What works best for you?

This particular book is the second book in the Covenant of Thorns trilogy, which were originally traditionally published ten years ago! Those were my first fantasy romances and I was elated that Carina Press took a chance on my cross-genre novels. I went on to publish ten books in total with them. I’ve also done three traditionally published series with Kensington and one with St. Martin’s Press.
I like trad publishing. Having a team working on my books is a great feeling, as is not having to front the money.
However…
As soon as I could get the rights back on these books, I did, and now I’m self-publishing them. The major reason? I’ll make a lot more money selling them myself.
A secondary reason: by controlling the series, I have more options to discount book one, a potent marketing technique trad-pubbing doesn’t allow.
A third, but super validating reason? At last I can give these books the covers they deserve!! I love these covers, designed by the incredibly talented Ravven, so much!
So, as you may have concluded, I’m falling in the “fusion of the two” category. Being a hybrid author gives me the best of both worlds. I aim to continue doing it that way.

Jeffe’s Top Three Resources for Names

ROGUE’S POSSESSION, Book #2 in my Covenant of Thorns Dark Fantasy Romance trilogy, is out in a week! It’s been so fun to see readers rediscover this first series of mine.
This week at the SFF Seven, we’re talking Naming Resources: Your top 3 sources for choosing names of characters, places, etc. Here are mine:
1. Jeffe’s Big List of Names
 
I keep a list. A spreadsheet (of course! for those who know me) that I add to any time I encounter a name I really like. I save them for important characters. One #protip: there are few disappointments greater than discovering you squandered a really good name on a throwaway secondary character. Save those names for someday!
 
2. Behind the Name
BehindtheName.com is a great resource that lets you search for names in all sorts of ways. There’s also a surname version, for those tricksy family names.
3. Relevant Dictionaries
I also use archaic language dictionaries for whatever language family I’m using for a given world or realm within a world. These are easy to search for online, then look up word meanings and cobble together names from there.
Names are always important in my books – it’s one of my themes – so I’m almost always choosing them for their underlying meaning. Something to look for!

MYOB – How Much Do You Know About Author Finances?

ROGUE’S PAWN is out now! This first book in my original Covenant of Thorns trilogy has been re-released with gorgeous new covers. Look for book 2 coming July 26 and book 3 releasing August 16.

***

This week at the SFF Seven we’re MYOB – Minding your own business!

Seriously, we’re taking a long look at how we manage the financial side of being an author. There tends to be a wide range of strategies for managing author finances. As all authors are primarily creatives (with the small exception of the widget-makers who hire ghost writers to write for them, which is another kettle of stinky fish), not all possess the inclination to crunch numbers and balance accounts.

In truth, while I think all authors should have a thorough understanding of what they should be earning, not everyone needs to be a financial guru of their own writing career. In truth, the most comfortable place for an author – or perhaps any creative – to be is independent of the need to make money doing it. This, of course, requires either family money (marrying money counts) or a spouse with a great salary and benefits. In these cases, writing money is all “gravy” and I know many authors in this position who don’t really track that income.

The major downside of this model is it means traditional publishing has favored those with this privilege and also takes shameless advantage of these authors. There can be a lot of funky tickling of the financials, both from publishing houses and literary agencies. Believe me: I’ve seen it.

Learn to read your royalty statements and hold those who handle your earnings accountable.

The flip side is if you’re like me – someone who is supporting their household with writing income. This is the other extreme, where ALL finances are author finances. I track everything scrupulously, to the point of using mathematical models to predict my future income. That’s the thing about writing income: it’s super unpredictable. Sales wax and wane, often due to reasons beyond anyone’s control. Traditional publishing pays quarterly if you’re lucky and semi-annually otherwise. There’s almost no way to predict what those checks will look like, so I end up behaving like the privileged writer as above – I treat my trad income as gravy.

Self-publishing income is what allows me to pay the bills with writing. That money comes in monthly and, because I can access my sales dashboards in real time, I can reasonably predict how much money will come in. The downside of self-publishing is that the author fronts the investment. KAK covered a lot of the nitty-gritty of self-publishing costs yesterday. Most self-publishing authors can implement the simple math of outflow vs. inflow. That is, what you pay to produce and market the book should be less than the money you make from it. Where it gets into higher math is managing that income so that you can cover the costs of being alive.

With a salaried job, or even hourly income, the basic budgeting model is to figure your monthly income, subtract your expenses, and the rest is “disposable,” meaning you can spend it on stuff you want vs. the stuff you need. But with a fluctuating monthly income, this simply isn’t possible.

So, my basic model is to try to keep enough money in savings to pay for two months of expenses should I have zero income in any given month. (Which hopefully will never happen, knock on wood. My backlist is substantial at this point, so the baseline backlist income is relatively steady.) Once I have that in place, I can pay for some of the things that make us happy. This is VERY important. It’s tempting to confine oneself only to needs and funnel any “extra” money back into growing the business. This works okay for a while, but it gets soul-crushing over time. We work hard; we must also play hard. Anything else is unsustainable.

As a creative, maintaining your joy in the work is key!

From my initial announcement, you’ll see I’m also republishing some of my trad-pubbed books. I did ten books with Carina Press and now have the rights back to all of them. Those royalties came in quarterly, so I’m eager to see how my income on those books changes for me. So far I only have ROGUE’S PAWN up again. Republishing meant paying for covers and formatting, so a bit of investment on my part. Hopefully it will pay off.

As with all businesses, writing for a living requires a lot of hoping for that pay off. Being smart about crunching those numbers provides the reality. A balance of both is best.

ROGUE’S PAWN, Rights Reversion, Hybrid Authors, Dear Hollywood and Gateway Drugs

Things have been busy in my part of the world… 

So much so that I missed posting for the last two weeks – and I’m posting late in the day today. Madness!

This is my brilliant (one hopes) catch-up post.

In book news, I got the rights reverted on the ten (10!) books I did for Carina Press. I started with my first dark fantasy romance trilogy, Covenant of Thorns, which meant new covers and new back cover copy (BCC). Done and done, times three. (What about the other seven books, you ask? I’M WORKING ON IT, OKAY?) I’ll be re-releasing these three books over the next several months.

Here’s for Book #1, ROGUE’S PAWN:

Be careful what you wish for…

When I walked out on my awful boyfriend, wishing to be somewhere—anywhere—else, I never expected to wake up in Faerie. And, as a scientist, I find it even harder to believe that I now seem to be a sorceress.

A pretty crappy sorceress, it turns out, because every thought that crosses my mind becomes suddenly and frighteningly real—including the black dog that has long haunted my nightmares.

Now I’m a captive, a pawn for the fae lord, Rogue, and the feral and treacherous Faerie court, all vying to control me and the vast powers I don’t understand. Worse, Rogue, the closest thing I have to a friend in this place, is intent on seducing me. He’s the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen, enthralling, tempting, and lethally dangerous. He’s as devastatingly clever as he is alluring, and he tricks me into promising him my firstborn child, which he intends to sire…

I don’t dare give into him. I may not have the willpower to resist him. He’s my only protection against those who would destroy me

Unless I can learn to use my magic.

Exciting milestone, to be re-releasing these!

As for the actual topics I’m supposed to address:

What do you see in your crystal ball for publishing? Will the Big 5 become the Big 4 and what would that trickle down cause throughout the industry?

I doubt that the merger that would make the Big 5 become the Big 4 will be approved. Even if it does, there are still other publishing houses that aren’t the “big” ones. Also, traditional publishing is only one part of the market and one that’s no longer at the forefront of everything. I think there’s value to trad publishing still, but I also think most authors will become hybrid, since we want to be able to pay our bills.

Dear Hollywood: Which of your works would you most like to see made into a movie or miniseries What makes it stand out above the rest?
My Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms series. I really want to see these books as an ongoing miniseries, primarily because I’d love to write the other POVs that are going on simultaneously with the 1st Person POV of these books.

Your gateway drug: the book that made you love SFF
DRAGONSONG by Anne McCaffrey. I found it in my school library in 5th grade and it opened up a whole new world to me. Possibly also the first time I glommed an author’s backlist.

The Best Title That Never Was

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week concerns the reality of having to change names. We’re asking the crew if they’ve ever had to change the name(s) of a character or place in a book after we’d drafted it? Who is the character who will forever go by their “unpublished” name in our minds?

For me, it wasn’t a character. But I will tell you about the title I wish I hadn’t changed. 

Retelling the Fairy Tale

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is which fairy tale would you pick to rewrite and why?

It’s kind of a funny question for me, because it’s starting to be more accurate to ask me which fairy tale I *haven’t* rewritten yet. Come on over for more. 

 

A Better Answer to: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Last week I attended SFWA’s Nebula Conference and got to meet our 2018 Grandmaster, Peter S. Beagle. I legit teared up when we talked and he signed my battered old copy I received forever and a day ago. I felt like a teenager again and all those feelings that led into my early love of fantasy rose up and swamped me.

The conference in 2019 will be at the Marriott Warner Center in Los Angeles. I highly recommend it! It’s become my absolute favorite gathering of SFF writers and industry professionals.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is “Where do you get your ideas – the least popular question ever.” Come on over for three avenues I rely on for ideas. 

 

No Thank-You

I’ve been thinking about our customs around saying “thank-you” to people. Since our topic at the SFF Seven this week is whatever is on our minds, I’m going for this!

Way back in January 2013 I did a post on why I hate thank-you notes, and I tell you – I *still* get people finding my blog by Googling that topic, and sending me messages. So, this is something I’ve been mulling for a long time. I’ve gotten a new perspective on the topic lately, so come on over to read more!