First Cup of Coffee – June 23, 2022

Changes in language and what’s acceptable in a culture, and making the effort to keep up with the times and not be THAT person. Also, the pitfalls of reader magnets and some thoughts to take into consideration.




Transcript
00:00.62
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Um, delicious. So today is Thursday June Twenty third a lovely rainwashed morning. I woke up around five and it was pouring rain. But now if you could see on video the sun has come out and we’re supposed to get warm today yesterday was cool. We never got above like um, f cloudy all day. Which was just fine. You know it’s delightful. Come a little bit froggy this morning. so um so yeah it’s we’re supposed to be up to F today and my friends arrive tomorrow. Kelly Robson and Alyx Dellamonica also known as L.X. Beckett are going to be here for like two and a half weeks oh that’s not good getting little dribbles on the laptop I’m gonna have to figure out something here because. There’s drips coming down from the grape leaves above I know I don’t have to tell you to hold on. But I’m telling you to hold on there. Yeah, if you are on video you can now see the the Jameson logo on my green umbrella which I now have. Propped somewhat um, unbeautifully over the keyboard to shield it from further drippings I spent a little bit of time fussing with it trying to come up with a better system and then I just decided this was gonna be a. So what? if this would work actually that works doesn’t it. Yeah all right that works I moved it sort of out of frame and it’s still good enough to shield the keyboard that’s actually in simple and elegant solution. Unlike. Many of the several tried um all right? So let us ah recommence with first cup of coffee here under the dripping grape arbor ah um, so let’s see.

02:45.40
jeffekennedy
What’s going on I’m getting back into the groove writing Shadow Wizard um I got 2000 words on Tuesday but I did not yesterday. Um, it was just a. Distraction day that seemed to be a lot of um I just wasn’t concentrating well I did come back from my trip tired I think tired from traveling I think you know that’s been one of the great. Realizations of the pandemic right is that traveling is exhausting. Um, it’s the the breaks right? Um, yeah, being in airplanes being in airports. Um, yeah and I got my sleep. Schedule all disrupted on the way there because of travel shenanigans I ended up not getting there I didn’t land until close to midnight eastern time at least it was only like do 10 my time which if you guys know me. I’m trying not to say “you guys” did I tell you that I am um well’ll finish that thought that ah no I lost the thought oh just that I got all disrupted. Yeah and if you all know me. You know that I am um am an early bird and early to bed at least these days. so um so yeah one of the. Things I’ve been thinking about and conversations that we’ve been having you know is and part of it comes out of some of the stuff that happened at nebula conference and um, whether or not older people should be excused from using. Language that has been determined to be offensive since their youth because wanting that people so come back and say older people who are in their seventy s and eighty s is you know when I was younger. This was a polite term and it was perfectly fine to say this and even when we try to explain that well times have changed and it is no longer a polite term and has not been considered a polite term for decades. They tend to entrench and.

05:31.10
jeffekennedy
What to argue the point rather than change and I realize change is hard. Um, but one thing that I was talking about with my friend while I was on this writing retreat is we were just talking about some of the recent changes in languages in language and what’s considered. Appropriate not and she was not aware I told her which is something that one of my friends told me that it is no longer appropriate to use the term master bedroom or master bathroom because it implies masters and slaves and which is. You know what it came from right? The master’s bedroom and realtors are now saying primary bedroom and bathroom and so we were trading these things off you know, talking about another one I learned recently. Um, is that it’s not considered appropriate to say homeless anymore that people are saying unhoused which to my ear sounds like pretty much exactly the same word, but this is my initial reaction right? This is you know would somebody tells me something like this I think well that’s just dumb. Ah. Why is it better to say unhoused instead of homeless. Well there are reasons right? So and I do not want to be in 30 years you know creeks don’t rise maybe one day I will get to be fetid on a panel and be there with starry-eyed young writers are excited to meet me and I do not want to be the older person who. Carelessly uses a word that is offensive to people that is harmful to people and it requires keeping up with the language. It requires keeping up with the politics. It’s not easy, but it’s something that i. Absolutely assigned myself to do it. My friend was feeling the same way. It’s like we have to be able to keep up with this. So for me, the new project is to lense you guys from my language which hurts my heart people. Because I am a child of the rocky mountain west I grew up saying you guys as a gender neutral term. It has always been gender neutral in my vocabulary. Um as I used it.

08:19.66
jeffekennedy
I use it on this podcast I’m sure all the time. Oh little moth is caught in the water here you’re gonna get out.

08:32.39
jeffekennedy
There’s some standing water on my table here. So I fished the moth out and put it over in the plant in the Sun. So its little wings could dry out. Yes I was also that kid who. Fished mods out of the swimming pool and put them up on the edge to dry.

08:53.75
jeffekennedy
You know? and and this is an aside but I remember being so struck by Vonda McIntyre’s novella Dreamsnake and I got to be on a panel talking about Vonda McIntyre and how great her books were ah after her death which. You know it was both fabulous and sucked because I didn’t get to meet her and she was an amazing writer and very influential on me but I remember so vividly the line when they the people that she’s trying to help that she’s there to heal. She comes back and they. Broke in the back of her little dream snake and she says um, do people feel nothing for small things and their pain. What a great line. Wonderful writer all right? So anyway. I was talking about something oh cleansing you guys from my language so I felt very stubborn about this so far I recognize this stubborn behavior when people have said that you guys sounds like you are. Talking to men. It’s like saying you men that is not gender neutral um and reader I do not want to change but I’m going to because the point is valid and I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the person who stubbornly persists in saying you guys just because it’s what I grew up saying which is the same argument that people have used for some of these other things that are now considered racial slurs that they were not racial slurs when they are younger and it’s like well. I accept that it was not a racial slur when you were younger I accept that you guys was not intended to be gender specific when I was younger. But now that’s how we hear it and the world turns and times change that’s a line from another. Great author Anne McCaffrey. So I’m trying to not say it anymore which means I kind of have to go with either you intending the plural I wish we had vous like in french but we don’t um or you all, um i’m. Never’all because I’m not that much of a southerner I have southern blood I have that much southern breeding you all you people you people I don’t even love because it sounds a little bit like um, othering right? So ah.

11:36.77
jeffekennedy
Onward always. Um, so the other thing I wanted to talk about is that I was reading I finally finished my reread of that trilogy I’ve now exhausted all of that author’s books I’m going to move on with my life and I am. Reading a short story. Um by an author that I had not read before and because um, she had recommended Dark Wizard and I was so pleased that she recommended Dark Wizard and I thought oh I should check out her books and. My assistant happened to have I asked my assistant if she had read this gal because ah, that’s our ah our reader check I’m like what I like her books and she said you know I haven’t read them but I have her free story the reader magnet from her newsletter and I’ll send that to you and I said oh okay, great. So the thing is for those of you who do not know and and I am actually one of them because I don’t do reader magnets. Um, and I apparently don’t understand them very well because when somebody asked if I did a reader magnet I said. Which is something that you do for newsletters I said oh well. Um I yes, I do if people sign up for my newsletter. They get a choice of one of a couple of free books depending on what genre they like and my assistant sends them and they said oh my sweet summer child that is not what a reader magnet is and I was like. Oh okay, so apparently a reader magnet is something that you write specifically for the newsletter. Um, and it is when people subscribe to your newsletter. They get this but it’s the only way they can get it I think that’s the definition and if I am wrong. Please feel free to comment and illuminate for all of us do not be like the gal who commented about how we should only be drinking organic coffee. Um, normally I do really believe in organic stuff and I’m leaving her comment up for general information. But um. Feel like it mainly illustrated that she doesn’t actually listen to the podcast since we don’t talk about coffee here the title out withstanding. Um so ah.

14:09.42
jeffekennedy
So do explain please do if I’ve got it wrong but that I think this is how the reader bag works. So the thing is is that I’m reading this gal’s short story and and I think she’s a good writer I can see that she’s a good writer. Um.

14:29.65
jeffekennedy
I’m not in love with the story and I think probably what I’m gonna have to do is go get one of her novels because I can just tell by reading this short story that her it. It’s written like like a novelist would write a short piece. Pass out. Um and it made me think that um we have to be careful because I know that this is a standard piece of advice to build your newsletter by having a reader magnet that you write. A standalone short so that readers will subscribe to your newsletter. The thing to keep in mind is that very often people are going to read this as I am as a sample of your work right? Do I want to read this author and the skill set for writing. Ah, short story versus a novella versus a novel are very very different skill sets and I feel like this has gotten lost in part because um, with all of the self-p publishing stuff. There’s such a relentless focus on marketing and promotion and less on craft. Which I know I bitch about all the time I’m sorry but you wouldn’t be listening right? If you didn’t want to hear me bitch about how kids these days don’t pay attention to craft least. Hopefully so The thing is is that I feel like the chops are not there for this short story and it makes me not want to keep reading her I think that I will give her a chance and go read one of the novels because because I think that. Probably the novel writing chops are there. Yeah, some water just poured down on the umbrella fix is working so and and I’m not sure what to tell you tell you all, um, as a fix for this except. If you’re going to use a short story as a sample for your work. Make sure it’s it’s well done. Um I know that there is a sense that there are short stories that are um, reader rewards. You know that you write like that. Scene that didn’t get into the book. Um readers like reading the deleted scenes and those of you who have been listening to me for a long time know that I’m very hesitant to share deleted seats I only rarely share them because I feel like.

17:22.14
jeffekennedy
They are deleted for a reason and usually that reason isn’t because they’re not that good because they don’t so. Don’t do what they should they they’re they’re flat out just not up to the standard of the rest of it and I know that die hard fans love seeing. Those little glimpses and I think that there’s a place for that. But I think you also have to be really careful about sharing substandard work because it does influence. How people see your work. Um. I think that’s different than delivering something that people have asked for um, one thing I actually no one has asked for it yet. But I’ve got it sort of in my hip pocket that if you have now read all of the airs of magic. Books. Ah, there is that bit in book 4 the storm princess and the Raven King where Jack and stella go off for a few days by themselves and and I have an idea of of what happens there besides. Lots of sex and napping because they’re supposed to be recuperating ah that there is a conversation that happens there that it’s hinted at in storm princess and I’ve thought about that I will write that story so far nobody has said hey jeffie I mean I know you guys have sent me other stuff and I appreciate the. Thoughts but I really did think people would say something like what happened with Jack and Stella while they were away. Maybe you guys all just figured. It was sex and napping which is legit. Um, but yeah I appreciated all of the thoughts people sent for It’s it’s interesting because readers ask for very different things than I think that you will ask for. So it’s always um, illuminating to hear your thoughts on I would really love more of this kind of thing. So anyway, I think you have to be really aware of what your reader magnet is doing and. If you see with this author if I had not had access to this free short story which I obviously got through um, underhanded means right? because I did not sign up for the newsletter I got it from my assistant. But because I don’t like signing up for newsletters. There’s my my dirty little secret I kind of hate newsletters and I don’t like getting them I don’t like email I I want to be I want to be like C.M. Nacosta who does not read email.

20:08.82
jeffekennedy
Um I figured out how to pull that off although my email has been very light lately. So maybe I’m getting there I’ve been ah, unsubscribing to lots of things and ruthlessly blocking. So we’ll see um but my point. And and I do have one is just because you have a reader magnet doesn’t mean that it is accomplishing the function that you want it to if I had not been able to get this short story that was already free. So I didn’t feel bad about getting it through underhanded means. Even though I did not keep my end of the contract by signing up for the newsletter I would have probably gotten a sample of the novel and I think that would be better on trade and I probably still will at this point and probably there are readers out there who are far more forgiving than I but I would be aware of that. That it. Um yeah, requires very different approaches and some people can’t write short just like some people can’t write long so back to the same mantra right? Discover what your process is own. It. If you want to develop new skills new chops. Then yeah, do that but be aware that you need to do that that it’s not something that you can just churn out. It’s not and I and I hate that phrase I shouldn’t use it. But it’s. Writing a short story or writing a novella is not like writing a novel that takes less time. It’s different skills and maybe that’s something I could talk about on here I know that you guys ask me to talk about stuff and then I forget but um I could talk a little bit about. How those things are different and and how maybe if I could figure out to how to explain how this reads like a gutted novel and instead of an actual short story. Um, that might be helpful. So anyway, not today because I’ve already gone long. Um, and now I’m going to go get to work hope you all have a wonderful Thursday under your umbrellas or not and I will talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – April 19, 2022




Transcript
00:01.14
jeffekennedy
Um, good morning. Everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee I’m noticing that the cream separated that a bad sign tastes fine.

00:22.21
jeffekennedy
No, maybe not please to stand by all right? sorry about that. Ah, the cream had indeed gone sour does it taste quite as good with the half and half in there turns out that the cream had ah expired on March Seventh who knew and I’ve been drinking it up till last week and it was fine. That’s why I get for only doing little tiny dollops at a time I suppose but apparently left unsupervised for a few days. It went rogue alas. Today is Tuesday oh you know I’ve know this I forgot to put sweetener in it. Okay, we’re having a blooper morning stand by all right I think I’m set now. Ah so much better. All right. Today is Tuesday April Nineteenth and for those of you on video or those of you ah keen to the audio intro I’m back out in the grape arbor um, and so thus. Big chimes again and you know things are greening up out here. The roses are coming up. You might be able to see some daffodils in the background crap Apple tree is starting to bloom. It was so nice being outside in Tucson. That’s why I have been away from the podcast for a few days. And been away visiting my mother who is the one who complains the most if I don’t record a podcast. So um, haven’t had 1 since a week ago tuesday but here I am back in the saddle. It was great being out in the tucson weather flowers blooming everywhere. Yeah, thank you? And yeah, so I thought I really need to make an effort to get out into the grape arbor again which transcript. Really hates that phrase. We’ll see how it did. Um, we’ve had so much wind that they I to throw a bunch of tumbleweeds over the wall because they’ve like blown in and mess things up so clearly I still have I’ve done some garden cleanup I need to do more. Did a little bit at my mom’s house that was fun. Although I’m not sure she appreciated it. She had a um, a volunteer lemon tree coming up where they’d cut 1 down as one does in Tucson I would love to have a volunteer lemon tree.

03:12.19
jeffekennedy
Ah, and she told me to do whatever because it had also it was more like lemon Bush and she said to do whatever I wanted to it so I trimmed out a whole bunch of stuff to create a single trunk to make it give it an upright growth. But I think she was shocked. But anyway I’ve decided um this fall I’m going to keep track of the temperature at which I am driven inside and then pay attention in the spring as soon as those temperatures start to get up ah to that same level to come outside. Um, it is 47 here this morning °f with like a real feel of 53 I still don’t know how they decide that. Um, yeah, so. Good to get out here and to be looking at stuff again and be part of the garden I made notes on the airplane um of things that I wanted to talk about. I probably have too much for a single podcast but that’s good. That’ll keep us going this week I did take the whole time off of writing I got some words. Um, well I take not since Wednesday um I did do sifwell work. Had to be done and and last night I slept like the dead and dreamed tons of selfful stuff. So there. We are my plan had been with The Storm Princess and the Raven King to come back from this and start over revising from the beginning because I’ve passed midpoint and I’m not sure if I will because I kind of do have a feel for the scene where I stopped so I might just try poking at that and seeing if that works and. Save the revising for later. Yeah that’s just sort of a matter of coming back and getting a feel for for where I’m at.

05:26.30
jeffekennedy
I um, have been reading Connie Willis’s short stories I’m not usually a short story reader. Some people love them I to me I think it’s because I love to read novels I love to read long. And a short story. Some people love short stories because they can read it in a single city. My stepsister Hope who I saw over the weekend is going to read this same collection of Connie Willis’s which is called Firewatch after the story that is the first one on the collection called. Fire watch um and a number of her award winning stories are in this and I have read her novels before because did I mention I’m a novel reader for me a short story is. It. It usually leaves me hanging I I feel like I just um, like I’m just learning the world and the characters and syncing in and it’s done I always want more? Um, it was interesting reading a collection of her short stories. Because there was a congruency to it and it let me do one of my favorite things which is to study like her themes and her recurring images and so forth. Um, fire is a thing for her. Not so shockingly. But on one of her stories. She mentioned Fred a stare and I should have grabbed the quote wonder if I should go grab it. Okay I opened it on the Kindle app on my phone which took an extraordinarily long time just for the record. So she said she has little um epigraphs little explanations between her shorts before her short stories which I admire greatly because I never know what to say about my own stuff and i’m. Totally going to I’m glad I have this book on my kindle because I’m gonna borrow from her. Um, yeah, she’s just very smart about what she says so she says Fred Astaire is my hero he used to report to his movie six weeks before filming started. And practice his dance routines wearing out a couple of pairs of of tapshoes and Hermes Pan who claimed he could only dance backwards for the rest of his life. Also he could stand there and look like he had just made it up in the words of almost every one who ever saw him dance.

08:04.52
jeffekennedy
He makes it look easy and what she says after that is that’s what I want to do even though it looks like I’m going to wear out dozens of pairs of shoes before I even come close make it look easy. But I thought that that was really striking about Fred Astair and. My husband David who is a musician from way back. He always talks about the Beatles and how the Beatles played in those German bars for a really long time playing cover songs playing hours and hours every night. And that that brought them together as a band and it’s an example, he uses a lot. Um for the value of practice and while we were at the Jack Williamson lectureship that I was at a few weeks ago yeah I guess a couple weeks ago what is time who am I we the the question came up as it always does um, you know like essentially how do you get better. How do you know when your work is good. how how do you level up? How do you improve your craft How do you um. Get over feeling like your work sucks newbie writers and even experienced writers and ask this sort of question all the time It’s like how do we how do we do this had to change my angle slightly because the sun is coming up I’m running a bit behind this morning. Yeah, although I went to bed early but like I said slept like the dead. So how do we improve and I think this is one of the answers and it’s the answer I always give and it’s not the answer that people necessarily want to hear because. Saying that something just takes a whole lot of time and you just have to keep doing it over and over and over again is not the optimum answer right? It’s not what we want. We want something else. We want the magic pill. We want the here read this book. But I think there’s a huge amount of truth in this that what it takes is a lot a lot of practice and I’ve used the metaphor many times but bringing up here again in case, it’s new to you of running water through pipes and it’s this isn’t mine. Other authors have talked about it that when you first begin writing um your creative pipes are corroded. They’ve been sitting there unused. They’re full of crud and when you first start running water through them and getting the words that come out at the end. The words are cruddy.

10:54.54
jeffekennedy
I mean that’s just how it is. They’re Rusty. They don’t come out very fast. They’re full of all sorts of stuff right? they’re muddy, they’re unclear. But if you keep running water through those pipes eventually those pipes will flush. And it will get rid of all of that crud and soon you will have clear water coming out. What do you do with the cruddy water doorway put it on the you know reuse put it on the garden. Um I think it is one of the at the risk of sounding like I’m shaking my cane. 1 of the great drawbacks of the ease of self-publication these days is that it’s very easy still in the sun here there that’s better and you could see the for Scythia in bloom behind me. Um, ah, what was oh. Ease of self-publication I mean I self-ublish yeah you know, a lot of people do it’s a great thing. It’s wonderful for income. Ah, the great drawback of the ease of self-publication is that you could publish those books. The ones that come out when you’re first running water through the pipes. Um, you know and some of that’s inevitable I was talking with some other authors of the podcast I did withronda we were talking about that whether we would go back and change things in our first books if we could um. There is a point at which you just have to go with it. You know because it’s it’s not gonna be perfect and you know maybe your twentieth book is the one that’s gonna be really good but I do think that you have to resist the urge to publish the first stuff you write and certainly this audience of writers at the Lectureship. We’re kind of shocked to discover that Dorinda has a bunch of trunk books and they asked what that meant and it’s like books that are in our trunk and well never come out I have a couple of unpublished books I’ve one that one day I will maybe rewrite. Ah, it. Could be that the idea was too ambitious for where I was at the time and now I will come back around to it. But the thing is is that we have a tendency to want to preserve everything we write because of the effort that we put into it and. It’s not always the best impulse sometimes that means that you should ah you know not be afraid to put a book in the trunk. So 1 thing I was noticing is um oh hold on a moment here.

13:48.20
jeffekennedy
Was my mom texting me I’ll text you back in a moment mom. She’s awake. Um, so um, excuse me I did a reread those of you who have been following along consistently. Know that I did a reread of the heirs of magic books. So I read the prequel and then the first 3 books in the series and I just finished the one over the weekend as I was heading to Tucson I think I finished it on the plane and then. That was when I started Connie Willis’s stories and read those over the weekend I really do recommend that firewatch collection. It was excellent. Some stories have stood the test of time far better than others and my stepsister hope plans to read it as well and we shall discuss because I’m interested to know what she thinks. Um, and I’ve I’ve talked about that a lot you know how do we know? what’s going to stand the test of time and I know creators artists and so forth who really try to I don’t know game it try to do the thing that will stand the test of time you know and. Ah, be universal on all of this and sometimes I think you just don’t know you don’t know what’s going to stand the test of time and I’m I’m interested to discuss with her the reasons why I think some of these did not whereas others have so but you know all same writer. All at the top of her game. So it was interesting for me reading the third book in airs of magic the one that came right before this the dragon’s daughter in the winter mage. Um I knew people had received it a little differently than the others. And it is a different book and it’s interesting to think about because it’s different in tone than the first 2 and I didn’t do that on purpose. But I think a lot of it had to do with what was going on in my life as I was writing it. And it’s this push pull right? that I was thinking well some people would argue that that was a mistake of mine that I should have made more of an effort to consider the market and design that book. To match the others in the series and to match the market but at the same time I feel like as creators right? We are um as I often say we are not making widgets. Um, if i.

16:33.68
jeffekennedy
Wanted to make widgets I would probably be doing that which I don’t I think that sometimes the stories what comes out when we tell a story is we have to be authentic to that. You know it is what it is. That’s what’s coming out of our subconscious self I reading that book I was recognizing themes. Um, just stuff that was going on and in some ways it’s a. I don’t know maybe a sadder book a little bit darker book. Um, it’s certainly not sad or dark overall but it is not as fun and lighthearted as the others and and there were reasons for that and. You know I think that those things are going to bleed into our work unless we really separate it out. Um I think that um. Yeah, you know we’ve been talking lately. My family was talking about it over the weekend. You know, just how different our world is with social media. So I’m more aware of things that people have said about this particular book because I just see the conversation about it or I catch things. That people don’t say like somebody tweeted me and said that they were surprised that this book didn’t sell as well as some of the others that the first 2 books in this series were their favorites of anything I’d written which is great. Thank you I love I love that but I did notice that she didn’t say the third book and it’s It’s different it’s a different book and I did see one review by accident where somebody had said just skip this one because nothing happens and it anyway and you know reader’s prerogative. Absolutely you know if you feel like that’s the best advice to give then sure give it. Of. Where am I going with this I will I’ll see and I do this as a reader too where I’ll say well I didn’t love this. What is much you know I I wish that the books had stayed the same as books one 2 3 in this series or whatever but you know what.

19:00.13
jeffekennedy
Sometimes what comes out is what comes out and and I don’t think that I can regret that. Ah, some of that has to do with growth as as a creator right? You know it’s that this is the water that came through the pipes at this particular time and the pipes are me. Right? So unless you are an Automaton or able to separate yourself entirely from who you are in your life which I don’t know maybe a sociopath can do that.

19:38.57
jeffekennedy
wren’s that beautiful, beautiful spring song. Um, yeah, that though even if the water running through your pipes is clear of mud and rust and other things lead that come out of whatever kind of pipes you have um. It’s still gonna be flavored by those pipes and that’s that’s part of being a creator and on that note I will sign out I hope that you all are having a wonderful week and I will talk to you all probably Thursday you all take care. Bye-bye.

First Cup of Coffee – February 28, 2022



      
Transcript
00:00.00
jeffekennedy
Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee which if you are on video you will have noted is actually Starbucks today. Um, oh I should say today is Monday February Twenty Eighth Twenty Twenty two last day off 2022? Ah, no wrong last day February that was a funny slide. Um, and the husband went and did an airport ride for someone early this morning. And he brought me back a special release day Starbucks treat because yay today’s release day Woooo Grey Magic out in the world living large very exciting. Yeah, um I was trying to think about what am I going to talk about today other than gray magic is out in the world I mentioned on Friday like maybe I could do a reading or something like that. But only 1 person said that they wanted that sorry Laura. Um, you know and like Facebook live and I don’t know we’ll sort of see how the day progresses. Um, yeah, yeah, it’s a funny thing. I often get asked what I do to celebrate release days and release days. Um, and I I do think I’ve talked about this many times before to release days to me feel like a um, a relaxing a letting go a coming down. As opposed to like a pitch of woohoo. Um I love that there were so many wonderful preorders for this book I reached a personal best more preorders for this book than any book that’ve done on my own a couple of the anthologies have. Gotten bigger but you know for all that the anthologies there’s like 4 of us. There’s not 4 times. It’s manying preorderss for this. so so yeah I’m just um, I’m thrilled delighted and thrilled. Ah, and of course you know it’s a funny time with with Russia invading Ukraine and how that’s been going and the people working on that lots of of good comments out in the world though.

02:51.20
jeffekennedy
You know people reminding us that we still need joy. We still need those things oops that’s the Darynda text tone hold on a moment all right? So Darynda is going deep into writer cave to finish her books so she’s. Tapping out for the week her books her book I’m like fuzzy brain to- today I don’t know why. Yeah, um, it could be just like that release day energy going out into the world. Maybe I won’t do a whole lot today. We’ll see it was funny because um I had church yesterday with. Megan and Charlie we had a bottle of champagne that was lovely I’m trying to think if I’m allowed to we were celebrating a couple things I can’t remember if I’m allowed to say so and I don’t know. Could it be that drinking a lot of champagne yesterday afternoon is responsible for me being muzzyheaded this morning say it isn’t so I don’t think that’s it. So anyway, um, rambling podcast today I should be like doing. Some sort of snazzy release day thing and yet this is what you get, you get me muddling my way through my Starbucks.

04:30.85
jeffekennedy
Yeah, so um, Darynda’s crunching to finish this book I may not do a lot today. That’s what I was thinking about was um, Megan was asking me if now that I’ve finished gray magic and released it if I’m going to take some time off and I said well I did take some time off. Last week and she she was very funny because she’s like and what did you do and I said well Monday and Tuesday I was in l a doing the hotel search for nebula conference and Wednesday I pretty much flew back. You know there was a travel day and. I did do copy edits and polishing. So I said okay you know, but that’s that’s not drafting but I did work on the book that day and I said that then Thursday and Friday and over the weekend I didn’t write at all. And she said yes, but what did you do and I was like well I did a lot of business stuff getting things off my to do list and she’s like that doesn’t count as taking time off I’m like yeah but what would I do? What would I do with myself, especially with it being the end of February I mean. It’s kind of warming up but it’s not great. Weather. It’s not like I can be out puttering on the garden It’s not nice enough for that and yeah, what would I do I mean I did take you know yesterday afternoon I went and ran some errands and and I did dork around a lot this weekend. I got a lot of household things done. So so I don’t know I’d much rather if I’m going to take time off and like not work on anything at all I’d much rather do it when I get to go do fun things.

06:19.40
jeffekennedy
Ah, so so yeah, I’ve got some some things to do I’m doing a panel this afternoon an online panel for pro writing aid they asked if sifho would do something and so I’m doing it. Um, Lexi Chantal put it together. And I’m doing it with Mary Robinette Kowal and I don’t think anybody else we asked a couple other people and I think they couldn’t do it so but we’re gonna talk about writing fantasy and that’ll be interesting. Otherwise I don’t think I have major obligations today I may just try to um you know, just post things and be around and that sort of thing and who knows Laura Darnell maybe I will do a Facebook live thing but um, right now I’m feeling a little. Like not so much do I want to do that I also feel like even though it’s good to promote things and remind people that there’s you know, give us our escapism and. And my story I mean great magic is very much about fighting tyranny and fighting the putants of the world. Um, even though I you know do think it’s okay I also feel weird partying too much. You know? Yeah. So um, it’s only seven and a half minutes I need to think of other things to talk about here I do have notes I should talk about that. So I’ve been reading Juliette Marillier I had mentioned that. Gonna try to only say her name once because the transcript really hates that name but I’m now on the third book of the 7 waters series and so first one’s daughter of the forest then son of the shadows and now child of the prophecy. And it’s very interesting how she goes about her series I kind of feel a little bit like where has she been all my reading life. Why didn’t I pick up daughter of the forest a long time ago since it’s been on my Kindle forever. She really writes fantasy romance guys. Um, it’s each one of her books has a core romance. That’s very important to the development of the character.

09:03.00
jeffekennedy
And it’s interesting to me that she’s published by tor and she’s really presented as being fantasy and her fantasy is very dense and delicious. Her word world building is gorgeous. Although it’s more like a historical fantasy. It’s all set in. Um. I think sort of a non-time delimited ireland a lot of it’s you know, sort of with the old ones and the the fae and humans and then the conflict between Ireland and Britain. And there’s vikings who arrive. So you know it’s sort of that vaguely Authurian time scale someone who knows more about specific history periods might be able to tell me but I I suspect she’s deliberately vague about it. Um. And there’s nothing at least so far. No mention of of Arthur or any of that stuff. Besides that would be in Britain and there’s occasionally trips into Britain. But for the most part it takes place in Ireland and it’s very irish and. I would say that one of the huge differences between how she writes the kind of story that she writes and the kind of story I write is sneeze I want to say that she kills people off. More readily than I do and I’m wondering if that’s true. She takes a a broader scope approach than I do so for example and I feel like this isn’t spoilery. But if you don’t want to know anything tap out. In the first book. Oh and I should look up what this fairy tale is hold on. Okay, so daughter of the forest is a retelling of the wild swans which was ah now I’m fresh on this knowledge Hans Christian Anderson’s story where. Princesses 11 brothers are turned into swans and she must labor to break the enchantment in daughter of the forest. There’s 7 and the 6 brothers are turned into swans and the youngest the daughter has to do all this stuff to break the enchantment. And after that I mean I could really see how she deliberately set out to do this fairy tale retelling and then the subsequent stories are not but she uses romance tropes you guys I mean they’re totally she does enemies to lovers.

11:49.32
jeffekennedy
In the first 2 books second book is even secret baby. Um, which I just wonder what people would think if I said you know these are these strokes that are being used. Um, so I think. Were I writing it I would have um, wanted to go on from daughter of the forest because it’s all told from ah sosha’s point of view. The the daughter who must labor and I think it’s I think they’re all first person point of view. Seems to me so that’s all told from her point of view and I really expected the next book to be like go into one of the brothers stories which is I think what the traditional romance canon approach would do and instead it picks up with sources. Daughter um, son up the shadows of about her daughter and there are I’m trying to do this without spoilering I feel like this really isn’t much of a spoiler because you find out within a couple of first couple of pages but like. In the time between the first and second book 2 of the brothers have died and they’ve died in battle and I guess that’s very realistic and she wants I feel like she kills people off much more readily than I do um and I know that I have characters die. But i. Think I tend to I would have liked had all the brothers live and so it’s an interesting choice to me. um and yeah you know it’s um I think she’s going for this sort of generational scope which is. And I tend to be much more close focused and maybe that’s the difference between you know people often ask? What’s you know, like romantic fantasy fantasy romance and this has a much more over the generations scope like that. And so now the third book child of the prophecy is someone else’s child and and I was really trying to figure out who it was gonna be and it took me a little while because told from that first person it’s like what are the clues who who is this. And so it’s kind of cool when you figure out who it is and so now it’s not as big a leap in time as there was from well actually it is close to the same leap in time from book 1 to 2 and 2 to 3.

14:35.39
jeffekennedy
So so yeah, that makes it interesting I don’t know that I would do it that way shit I get much more attached to my characters I think than she does and maybe that’s part of where I’m getting this where she’s much more willing to kill her characters off. You know, like having. 2 of the brothers die in battle like that off page in the interim and I mean it’s like well I guess that’s realistic because that’s what happened in that era still yeah. I would not be so willing to do that and that may be my um, you know we talk about voice. What is an author’s voice and I was explaining this to someone over the weekend this gal who for romancing the vote I donated six months of author coaching and the gal who won paid. Over $1500 to to win that and was like wow um, and so we were talking about voice and I said that voice the best explanation I’ve ever heard of author voice is that it arises from your beliefs. And yeah, so that your beliefs infuse everything you write and you do refine that over time and she was talking about refining voice and what that meant and she kind of had. I don’t know a different perspective on it than I do she was talking about trying out different kinds of stories and seeing which ones fit her voice and and I was voice is a hard thing to talk about because it doesn’t always make sense. Yes, it. Or maybe it defies quantification rather than making sense. Yes, it arises from your beliefs it arises from the core of who you are as a person but many of us are muddy about who we are as people especially when we’re younger and. Especially when you’re first refining your craft as a writer. You don’t always know how to have that shine through in everything you write if that makes sense and 1 thing that she said was I said so that you sound. It takes a lot of writing it takes a lot of words and a lot of refining and I’m repeating myself cutting away things cutting away the chaff and I said so that you don’t sound like your influences anymore and she said oh well I have.

17:24.31
jeffekennedy
So many influences that won’t be a problem for me and it’s like yeah actually I that does muddy things I think that muddies things. Um you want your voice to come through like clear water and. When you have a lot of influences or a lot of things ah getting in the way then it’s not clear water and I think the only thing that does get to that point where you purify is writing a whole lot and that’s why we talk about you know like a million words. To learn your craft or to get your voice to come through or there’s a lot of people who you know like this end goal. Whatever it is but write a million words. Um, yeah, it just takes that that repeated practice. David’s always telling me. You know about because he’s a musician about the ah you know like how the Beatles played in those german pubs for a long time and they played a lot of covers and they played their own songs too. But you know like night after night after night and that’s the kind of thing that you need to do like be. Before you hit this this point of recognizable I want to say brilliance but it doesn’t have to be brilliant, but where your voice comes through where it’s like this is your thing that you’ve created this is your art you have to spend. A lot of time doing it over and over again until you really cut away all of the things that are not you and that part that is you really shines through It’s interesting to me with the bonds of magic books and people have already been setting me. Notes because people have read it already. That’s so funny to me. It’s like well this one gals in France. So I guess she read it all day today and she already read it and loved it and she said that this is her favorite of my books and I’ve been hearing that from a lot of people. And I’ve been thinking about that and I think in some ways you know though I loved all of the 12 kingdoms and uncharted realms books those started from a slightly muddier place for me and that world is shaped by my other influences. Um. And then there’s all the spinoffs to that and I I do love all those books but I do think that they speak more to my influences than to where I’m at now. Um forgotten. The empires is maybe a step in between.

20:11.58
jeffekennedy
But then when I wrote Dark Wizard that was a book I really wanted to write for a long time and I do think that that book and maybe this series is more me than than anything else. Maybe my voice is shining. Most clearly through this. So um, so now happy release day to me and to you thanks to all of you for supporting these books and I will be rounding about today. So now. And I will talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye bye.

Writing Beginnings, Again and Again

We’re to have a hard freeze Thursday night – our first freezing temps of the autumn – so I’ve started bringing in the house plants from the patio. It’s always a glut of blooms, fallen leaves, and much shuffling of saucers and ideal locations. This, more than anything else, is the first sign of fall for me.

I’ve been working on THE FATE OF THE TALA, and talking a lot about that process on my podcast, First Cup of Coffee. If you want an (almost) daily insight into my process, that’s the place to listen in. As an overview, however, I’ve been talking about beginnings and how to decide where to start a story. This isn’t an easy decision or process. For example, I’m on my fourth opening in FATE – and I think this one will stick. It takes a lot of trial and error to find where the story truly begins, and what counts as preceding events that will be woven in as backstory.

The thing is, newer writers don’t always realize how much effort goes into finding this sweet spot, because we mostly see only the finished product.

I realized this truth (yet again) the other day when I was helping a friend – a not-yet-published writer – with her book. The beginning simply wasn’t working, for a number of reasons. I gave her some specific advice to improve beginnings in general. (In particular, I pointed her to this Twitter thread by Mary Robinette Kowal that really lit me up – all stuff I knew, but framed in a way that I found super helpful.) I also pointed her to a book opening in the same genre by another author friend, pointing out how that person set up the character, world and genre.

The aspiring author came back with a mix of admiration, envy, and despair – agreeing that the (very accomplished) author’s opening was amazing. And I realized that I need to clarify that this amazing and gorgeously executed beginning was the result of easily six months of effort on the professional author’s part. Not only has she published many novels in the genre, but I happened to know she’d torn apart this beginning multiple times. Eventually she started with an entirely different POV character, which is when the story began to sing.

So, it’s important to remember, when looking at examples to follow, that published work has been through countless rounds of revision, editing, and more revisions. Finding the best place to start a story, and writing it well, is possible – but it also takes time, effort, and patient revision.