This week at the SFF Seven, we’re asking: how has your writing practice changed over time?
It’s interesting because the topic-suggester framed it as “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” – my college French demanded I get the saying correct – which is a French saying that acknowledges that the more things change, the more they stay the same. In other words, that surface details may alter over time, but the essence of the thing, the recognizable cycle of events, is fundamentally inalterable. Often it’s applied to history. So this suggests that our writing practice may change over time, but it also stays the same. Is this this case?
I’m saying no, at least for me. My writing practice has changed considerably since my newbie days. I was reflecting recently that, as a teen and young woman, I didn’t really know how to apply myself to improving at a task. This largely came from the fact that, in school all the way through high school, I could get by without really trying. I had a good auditory and visual memory, and I tested well, so I didn’t need to work hard to get A’s. (Except in math, which I thought I wasn’t good at, even though they put me in accelerated math classes. Turns out I likely wasn’t good at it because I didn’t like math, so I didn’t listen in class. Oops.) In college and grad school, a number of professors began riding me to apply myself, to study and do the practice problems. I kind of tried to – especially when I had to retake Immunology for my biology major and really didn’t want to have to retake second semester of organic chemistry – but there was a major problem: I didn’t know how to study.
I remember thinking I needed to learn how to study, but I was mostly flailing about. It was only when I had novel deadlines to meet that I got very good at refining my ability to work in concentrated ways, incrementally, day after day. I don’t often think of messages I’d like to give to my younger self, but I now wish I could advise that college student, that graduate student, to develop the habit of working for a couple of hours every morning. This is my best brain time. If I had done that in school, if I had spent just that much time working practice problems and reviewing the material, I likely would have done much better.
Of course, then I might have ended up as a research scientist after all, when I’m so happy as a novelist. Maybe it took working on something I truly cared about to inspire me to develop the practice to do it. Que sera, sera!
A well-kept secret about the reality of signing with an agent, one way to assess whether your agent is really working for you, and other thoughts on building the ability to produce work. Also, LONEN’S WAR is out in audio!
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.
Sheer ambrosia today is Tuesday August Second so it’s 8 2 2022 a good set of numbers. My birthday is coming up ah later this month in twenty days so that will be another set of eights and twos though I don’t know if I’ll get to podcasts that day I’ll um, be visiting my mother man stepdad in Tucson. So I don’t know maybe we can convince my mom to do a birthday podcast with me and we could just I don’t know reminisce about my birth. Probably we don’t want that. Let’s rethink. So anyway, today is exciting because the. Audio book of Lonen’s War releases today. Very exciting. Ah this is book one of the sorceer’s moon’s books of which there are None um sorceress moons was the none series I did. Totally indie that I did plan to self-publish from the beginning and did it indie all along that as opposed to some of the others where it was like a series that started in trab traad pub. That I continued in indie or it’s a lot of noises out there. Don’t know what that was um or one that I’d gotten the rights back and self-pubished so to. Ah, sorcers moons first came out in 2016 which is amazing right? Six years ago now and I started that when I first left the day job was kicked out of the nest in a fall of 2015 because my team was downsized and I decided to try to. Make it as a full-time writer without a day job. That’s my definition. Um, there are people who disagree with me but um, and I think it’s because being a full-time writer has a certain cachet and so people want to lay claim to it. But. Yeah, that’s what it is for me is if ah I have no other day job.
Ah, so ah, but Scribd Scr I bd scribb bought the audio rights for Sorcerous Moons which my lovely agent negotiated for me for those of you who are wondering how that works. For your indie pub books. You don’t have to have an agent to negotiate for you. But it’s great that my agent does want to do that for me and then she does get the percentage which is you know that’s fine. Ah she made a lot of changes to the contract. The negotiations took a long time. Ah, which I knew she was actively working on because she would send me updates as opposed to a previous agent who claimed to be spending a lot of time in negotiations when actually that meant he just wasn’t getting to it and it was sitting ah on his desk. If he had one not that I’m bitter. He claimed to spend a lot of time on negotiations on the contracts for a particular pair of books and I’ve compared it to the contracts that my previous agent. Ah. Put through that I know she did not do a lot of negotiating and I don’t see any difference so that’s one way that you know how do you know? I’m not a Broadway singer. But if I were. I would want to play Cinderella in any of her incarnations. That’s probably not true I like Amy Adams so so there’s a little bit of a stream of consciousness riffing for you. Ah, anyway, Lonen’s War out today. Dave started releasing the audiobook at the same time I have polled Sorcerous moons ah out of KU Lonen’s Reign book 6 will remain in KU until like September sixth because for some reason that never got uploaded into k u correctly, so it’s lagging behind the others but gradually the other books in the series are coming out of k u and I am putting them back up wide. So Lonen’s War is now wide again everywhere. So oh and I even had my phone out so I could show you the script listing here. It oh big flashing glare from the.
Rising sun if you’re on video but there’s the cover for Lonen’s War audio pretty cool and ah I’ve scribbed as an app on my phone and I really like it which I know is sounds like much right? because yo here I am. Like oh look listen to my audio book. Ah, but that’s exactly how I sound to but um, one cool thing that Scribd when they bought the rights to do audio for this series is they gave me a free subscription to scrib for like a year which. Let me tell you people none of my other audio book trad publishers have done that they in fact, some of my other books they would even give me a copy of my own frickin book on audio and I ended up having to buy it. Just so I could listen to it and know what my book sounded like on audio It’s such a huge mess. It’s stupid. Um, we all know we don’t really love audible and this is one of the big reasons. Why but scribbed is interesting because you can um. Read ebooks on here as well as listen to audiobooks and it’s a nice It’s a really nice app and they have a lot of stuff on here. I’m not a big audiobook listener but sometimes because I can listen. For free. Well, it’s actually is for free since I didn’t have to pay for my so so my subscription that I can try books out on audio that I’m not sure if I want to to buy and rate and then sometimes if I like them on audio i’ll. Stand by them and read them on kindmda or whatever. So anyway, I will put those links up in the show notes please check out the audio book if you’ve already read sorceress moons um, tell your friends who like to listen to fantasy romance on audio. Ah, Lonen’s War is a slow burn princess in a tower. One of the things that I learned as an aside at a polyon is that the readers who ask you to tell them about your books. They really want to hear the tropes and I am not. Always good at saying tropes. Ah I found that I was not good at explaining what dark wizard was about dark wizard did not sell as well in person as it does online. It was really interesting to see the difference of what things sold well in person as opposed to online. Ah.
But I did not do a good job of communicating what the dark wizard books were about for whatever reason. But I think it’s tropes I need to figure out what the tropes are for that book and series. Yeah, ah. But Lonen’s War. Do I even know my tropes I mean it’s enemies to lovers and he is attacking her city. He comes from the barbarians and she is literally a princess. Who is psychically fragile and so must live up in the tower away from all of the psychic energy of the city and because of this she’s like the only member of the royal family left alive when the barbarians win and. She ends up and lonan is a younger son but he is also ends up being the only one left alive of his family and so the 2 end up negotiating with each other to stop the violence to find a peace. Which of course inevitably involves them getting married right? Um, but that doesn’t happen till later. It is a slow burn I’ve seen I think it’s still like the top review on Amazon is this one person is like they don’t even touch each other. For the first book and it’s true but oria can’t be touched because of the um of her psychic abilities. She um, it’s it’s agonizing for her to be touched by somebody so they figure out very creative ways. To overcome that although much of that happens in book two after the wedding night. Um I’ve considered consolidating those and making them into a trilogy. You could put books 1 and 2 together and I mean it would work. 1 and 2 3 and 4 5 and 6 but I just left them as the separate books. So I do have um the audio books are they’re putting them out as a staggered release and let’s see if I can tell you. I think um, today’s August second I think the second one’s coming out. She gave me a tentative list. she said it might not happen um exactly on that she said it might change that’s it August Sixteenth is book 2 so they’re putting them out.
I think they’re looking at every two weeks so yeah by the time um the sixth book comes out and audio it will come out. It’ll be white. It’ll be out of k you so um. Have to kind of keep up with those things.
One thing I talked about with agent Sarah when we had lunch at Apollycon was I might just have the agency take over publishing the ah 7 contemporary bdsm books that I got back from Carina Press ah that would mean that the agency gets 15% of those books but would also mean that I don’t have to deal with them I’m trying to decide. Um, it would be good for me to do them myself. Algorithm wise I do get more money It’s also more work and. It’s no longer squarely on brand for me. So I don’t know if it would help with my other list. You know. Um, so still remaining on my notes that I took on the plane. 1 thing I was thinking about is how we learn how to work how we learn how to produce work and i. Got to have lunch with a newbie author at Apollycon. She’s an agency sister Tiff Holloman and she is not yet published so she signed with my same agent. Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost literary right before pandemic hit and excuse me that first book just didn’t so which happens sometimes um, actually happens more than people realize. And Tiff and I had lunch in part I think because she she did say that Sarah suggested that she make contact with me just because here I am I am the advice giver and ah, you know and I said you know I know it’s really frustrating when. The book that you signed an agent with doesn’t sell because there is a tendency to think when you’re a newbie author that once you get your agent that you haven’t made and I know so many people that it just doesn’t work out that way for whatever reason the book doesn’t sell. The agent doesn’t turn out I don’t know to be someone who actually does any work which is not the case with Sarah Sarah is awesome but
Sorry I’m starting to go down the mental path of like that first agent that didn’t like to work. Ah, if he had liked to work. He could have done a lot but he was just um I don’t know fatally and eternally distracted. So anyway, um, we talked about that Dave Tiff has written another book and they’re going out on submission with that so fingers crossed with her for her on that. Ah, really lovely. Go. She’s a lawyer works for the federal government. In Dc so she was local and so she came to the con to see how it was but then ah you know into meet with Sarah and so it was really nice that we got to have lunch with each other and one of the things we talked about was productivity. Ah, which of course is something people ask me about a lot and I talk about a lot on this podcast and I do a fair amount of author coaching on the topic because that’s always a question right? is how do we be productive. How do we get the work done and so I was giving her advice on writing in the morning. Before she goes to work. It’s ah yo that for me writing every day at the same time every day was the thing that worked and it’s the thing is is as I believe that is a guaranteed process. A lot of people feel like that’s not possible and I understand ah but. If you do that if you get in the habit of writing every day at the same time every day and it doesn’t have to be for very long that you will build a writing habit and that’s the most important thing that you need to reliably produce work. And she was lighting up as I was talking about this because she’s saying you know when I get home at the end of the day and after I’ve put the kid to bed and all of that and I said yeah, you’re done. You’re you’re out of juice and that’s why I write in the morning because that’s when I have the juice different people. Have different processes and some people have more juice late at night but if you have a day job if you have children if you have lots of day responsibilities then it’s not reasonable to expect your creative self to have much juice. At the end of the day after you’ve already done everything for everybody else, some people might but most of us know me I’m I’m kind of brain fried after these days. Ah after about five or six o’clock at night I am just I’m done and that’s when I want to read books.
Or watch shows and that was ah that’s where I’m at. I was thinking about talking about something ah that I just watched but or several things that I watched but I think I’ll save that and finish this thought. So anyway, one of the things I was thinking about was how no one ever taught me how to study. I did get the advice to write every day at the same time every day for more than one author and I resisted it for a very long time I did not want to do that. It felt incredibly difficult for me and part of the reason that I started doing it in the morning was it was the only time. That I could find where I could actually reliably write at the same time every day so I started getting up at four thirty or five and I was not a morning person so that I could write 2 hours before I went to work and then from there my day got progressively crazier. So. That was the one thing I could count on and as I told Tiff some of the stuff I wrote back then like hopeful monsters is one oh I’ll link to hopeful monsters if you all want to read that little story. Um, some of those things are seriously psychedelic and it’s because I was sleep deprived. And she was saying well I don’t know if I could go to bed early enough to be able to get up that early and I said I tell you what? at least the way it worked for me was if I made myself get up that early eventually I shifted and I was going to sleep early which is why I go to sleep around 9 because I wake up at 5 and that works for me. So anyway I was just thinking about in college my transition from high school to college and how in high school I just almost never studied I was fortunate enough to um. I’m an auditory learner so I could sit in class and listen and as long as the teacher had said it at some point I could put it down on the test I’m also good at absorbing from reading and I like to read so I would read the the assignments. Ah but I never worked very hard because I didn’t have to. And the classes I would have had to work in. Um I did not do great in and I was thinking about my transition to college because I went to a private liberal arts University Washington University in St Louis which I loved but I struggled in some of the classes because.
I needed to study and I didn’t know how and looking back mosquito if I had implemented that schedule then which of course never occurred to me but that first semester. I took a calculus class that started at seven thirty in the morning because I had already in high school been used to getting up that early. We had an ap biology class that I think school started at like 8 or 8:05 and the ap biology class had all um. Voted and agreed because we were hopeless overachievers to start class at seven thirty so that we could do some dissections and the sun is coming to get me here but I’m almost done. Ah, so I did that calculus class at 7:30 4 days a week and and I liked getting up and going to that class early but I didn’t work on learning the equations and so forth outside of class. Ah so it was not not. Not great and I felt like it was because I wasn’t good at it. But it’s simply that I couldn’t just absorb it and regurgitate it. So I wish if I were going back and I don’t often have something to say to my younger self but i. Wish that it had occurred to me or that someone had suggested it to me. Ah, if I had just in college and grad school gotten up early and studied did my. Um I could always do the readings I always did the readings. But if I just like run the math problems worked the various things biochemistry and so forth if I had just done that stuff for like 2 hours every morning I would have um. Probably would have done much much better than I did and I didn’t do abysmally but I didn’t do it brilliantly either. So there’s something to be said for that learning how to work incrementally incrementally which I know I’m a big fan of that. It took me a long time to figure it out and it was because I wanted to write novels and I had deadlines it was only after I had a traditional deal. Um, actually I ended up with several at once and I started to panic about being able to meet those deadlines.
That that was when I got really ritualized with my goals and deliberate about writing for a couple hours every morning and I still did it for a very long time up until I left the day job that was a nice circular. Discussion which I don’t often do wrap around to the beginning again. Um, and then I continued it after I got laid off because I already had the habit built so thoughts thoughts um, please share about the Lonen’s War audio book or and that’s wide now. Be nice to this series has new covers. So let’s um, we’ll be lovely to see it get a little resurgence and I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.