First Cup of Coffee – May 13, 2022




Transcript
00:00.71
jeffekennedy
Good morning, Everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

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jeffekennedy
Delicious.

00:45.25
jeffekennedy
Today is-say it with me boys and girls and other-Friday woohoo and it is Friday May thirteenth Friday the thirteenth it’s a magical time. Magical day and this weekend is a full moon and a full lunar Eclipse. So. It’s a great time to put new things into motion. Ah launch new dreams tie off old stuff take advantage of that element of chaos. To make a turnabout in your life. It’s like the midpoint of the story speaking of which I have completed the revision so far of the ah. Storm princess and the Raven King I’ve got something like 76000 words on it. So in the neighborhood of 20 to 25000 to go to lay down in the next week or 2 really to. Plus a little bit of time to revise those last one hundred pages or so is about what it works out to um, wonder if that’s exactly right? Well wallpark little bit less than 100 pages. Yeah, because it’s the last 25% I passed the act 2 climax and yeah, it’s now racing towards the end I hope.

04:13.77
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Ah, so um, so yeah I think I’m feeling pretty good about it and that I’ll do my out loud proofing and see how that works I might just sit out here in the grape arbor and read aloud to myself that’ll be entertaining I wonder how long it’ll take I’m planning on spending like. 2 really intense days doing that. Do we think that’s enough maybe I’ll work long days I won’t limit myself to my 3 hours so um right now I’m feeling good about it I have to. I do have to do 3000 words a day to get that done so we’ll see where I am by the end of next week right? And next weekend’s nebula conference. So for nebula conference if you have not. Registered consider it. It’s gonna be an amazing conference The programming is really good I’m really pleased with how it’s come out. It is um, yeah, it’s it’s gonna be great hundred and fifty dollars all online come and join us lots of opportunities to chat and so forth. We also have the sub what auction going on and you can bed on a coffee clutch with me ah come and chat I’ll answer questions talk to you about whatever. Um, and thank you in particular to Meghan Ciana Doidge for giving me some. Talking me out of my tree yesterday with the comment on Instagram I appreciate that Meghan I I was really freaking about trying to get 10 titles up but Meghan gave me some some wise perspective on it doing the rapid release on the fantasy romances and then just. Maybe doing the rest on ah you know, just getting them out there for glomming I did ask the question is do we think people glom wide as much as they do on k you and maybe the answers. Yes. For a while Sorcerous Moons was doing really well on k u or at least well for me. But now it’s dropped off again which means I should probably advertise it right? or do some sort of promotion I also need to port over.

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jeffekennedy
Reviews from the old set. But um, yeah, so and and Grace was just Grace and Jennifer Estep both gave. Ah they were not as comforting as Meghan was but um, they’re a little bit more tough love with me. Because they were just like get those books and get them up. Get them up and get them earning Jeffe they were immune to my whining about having to pay for cover costs but Grace had good insight where she said you know, get Ravven to do the covers. For the 3 fantasy rodent ances for covenant of Thorn’s and and Megan pointed out that I really should get those up now because Fae romance is so big right now and then I make change I wonder if I have to change the bcc on those. Have to look at them I know that I can’t use the harlequin copyright anymore or Carina copy you know, logo or anything like I’d want to and I can’t use the covers but I have to look into whether I even want to use if I can use the bcc that they have back cover copy. Um, even if I wanted to do I want to? We don’t know I have to look it this I haven’t looked at these books in forever. Um, Meghan suggested that I could do well revens making a cover for the first book. That I could hire someone to do a line edit of that thick first book to fix whatever is bothering me well you know these have all been professionally edited by really you know that was deb nemo who is a great editor I thought what I would want to change is some of the content and I am considering. Deleting a single scene except I went to write her coffee yesterday and had a wonderful breakfast with ah Jack and Jim my writer buddies Jim Sorensen and J. Barton Mitchell um Jack’s doing that great podcast, Derelict. The story podcast I should link to it. It would be nice of me. It’s I I’ve listened to the first episode. Um, you know I don’t listen to podcasts which I find very ironic since I do this podcast? Alas, so um. A waffley. Oh so Jack and Jim had good insights on it because Jim in particular because he pointed out. He said if you take out that scene. There are going to be people like him who.

15:22.10
jeffekennedy
Will inevitably go back to the original to try to figure out which scene was deleted so I’m only calling attention to it I don’t think he has a legit point there because I would do that too. Ah and then. Jim also made the point that I have to weigh if I’m really thinking about fixing this book. You know is my time better spent is it worth more and sneeze. He said is my time worth more. Minute for minute hour by hour spent fixing this old book or writing a new one to which the answer is obvious my friends. So so I don’t know I don’t know what I’m going to do. But the good news on the covers is Ravvenjust talked to me the other day and because I have a cover a month slot with her for the rest of the year and I’ve been planning to have her do the. Cover for the standalone of familiar winter magic but I think what I’m going to do is hold off on that because if you guys want to read it. You could still read it and fire of the frost and I’m going to have her due for may June and July the 3 covers for covenant of thornness. And then um, my one concern was is I’m going to try to come out with that bonds of magic book number 4 as yet untitled and I’m hoping to have that out by the end of August and my slot with her is the latter half of may. So I was like oh would we be doing the cover the you know the end of August but then I couldn’t do rapid release and all this you know so I was like trying to juggle this and serendipitously enough. My slot is in the early part of August and she said her August is really booked so she might try to move it up anyway. So I’m just going to get her the information for all for those covers and we’ll do bing bang boom and I’ll be forking out a bunch of money. The other thing that’s going on is I mean the good news is good news bad news great news is grey magic is now available on audiobook whoo so that whole series is available on acx the weird and annoying news is that like book 2 bright familiar. They have put grey magic in erotica.

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Which it’s not erotica I mean it’s that’s hot. It’s sexy. So this is something else I’m going to have to address because I asked them to take bright familiar after erotica and they did not first book is not in erotica so I’m sure that like the Ai tags certain words or something like that i. Doubt that a person’s listening and doing that unless I’m wrong if any of you know how this acx categorization thing works let me know. But I think I’m going to have to like get a person and argue with them about it but I need to do a little research I need to see like where the you know where are they putting. Like Jennifer Armmentrout an Sarah J Maas you know, like where’s book 2 of acotar if that’s not an erotica then my book shouldn’t be an erotica It’s not that I’ve been ding against erotica of course. But since I have written erotica. But it’s um, ah I don’t think that’s what these books are and I’m afraid it’ll mislead people mislead listeners. Um, maybe if I take it out of acx and go wide which I will do. After gray magic has been in there for ninety days but um now that’s irritating. So um, so those things are going on. Doesn’t seem like I have a lot going on it feels that way I mean I guess it’s all good things champagne problems right? Um, yeah, so there was 1 other piece of news I was going to give you guys but I don’t know what it was now. I don’t know. Yeah well for those of you who follow me on like Facebook or Twitter did put up yesterday. Ah, my new chinese proverb where and many people asked me about it. Ah. Mary Robinette commented on my Twitter saying oh no and this raises questions. So it’s like okay yeah, because I said she who puts ice cubes in her pocket will receive a unhappy unpleasant surprise something like that. So why did I put ice cubes in my pocket. It was my jacket pocket I was wearing ah my sifwa jacket actually and so the deal is and I think longtime podcast listeners will remember that I was going through this thing of.

26:16.79
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How do you keep an orchid alive because I have my trader Joe’s orchid you know like don’t we all have a trader Joe’s orchid at 1 point in our lives or several because we can’t keep the fucking things alive right? And so it’s a challenge. How do you keep your orchids alive and and it’s one. Those ironies because they’re like $5 at trader joe’s so you know it’s like not, it’s not a monetary thing but it’s like this gardening challenge I have not been able to keep the orchids alive but I recently learned you know because everybody’s like well you have to water them just as the small amount or the roots rot and all this. So I discovered somebody told me the the miracle trick is you water them with the ice cubes. So you just put ice cubes in the pot with the orchid and like once a week or whatever twice a week and the way the ice cubes melt it. Feeds the water to the roots at a rate where they can absorb it without rotting and apparently the cold is also good for encouraging a rebloom. So my trader joe’s orchid I have kept alive and it rebloomed um and I think i. Post pictures I was very excited and and the blooms have lasted It’s very happy orchid. So what I do is I don’t have a super regular schedule on watering it. But um, the way our icemakerer works is sometimes does everybody have a fridge icemaker. For those of you who have french icemakers maybe ours is substandard but sometimes it spews ice cubes on the floor. So when ice cubes spew on the floor I take them and I put them in the orchid. Yeah, it’s recycling right? The conservation of water and all of these things. So. Yesterday I was getting another glass of water and I had several things to carry back to my office and there were ice cubes that had spewed onto the floor and I didn’t have enough hands to carry the ice cubes and all my things and it’s not like I’m going to make 2 trips. So I stuck dicekeeps in my pocket because I thought well it’s it’s just from here to there right? you know walk from the kitchen to my office. It’s not far I could have made 2 trips but you know let’s let’s not get crazy here. So inevitably I forgot. By the time I got to my office that I had the ice cubes in my pocket which is a neurophysiological thing have I mentioned that to you guys recently I know I’ve talked about it before but there are legit studies that have shown that our brains respond to us passing through.

31:55.96
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Portals or gateways and when we go from one room to another. We do an automatic wipe of recent short-term memory. It’s a way of clearing the trash out of our brains because it’s it’s kind of um, it’s a survival thing right. It’s like our brains know that when we go from the kitchen to the office or we go from 1 place to another that we don’t need to retain all of the information about the place we were just in so it does like this little cleansing wipe. So that we can absorb information about the new space that we have moved into it’s it’s protective right? You want to be not thinking about the old space but ready to react to danger in the new space or opportunities in the new space. This is why? Um, we all joke about it and some people worry about it. But this is why very often when you go to get something in the next room you forget why you were there. You forget what you were going for. Ah what you have to do the trick around this. Is like if you decide if you’re in the kitchen and you decide you want to get a pad of paper from your office is just keep thinking about that pad of paper as you pass through the doorway it totally works you guys I do this all the time but I had not been thinking about the ice cubes. As I moved into the next room so there I was in my office and I was working and there was cold drippiness on my leg and I was like why? Ah why is there cold wet water on my leg and I was like ah. Ice cubes. Alas, so um, so yeah I see I feel like things are working out things are positioning. Um. Maybe you hear from agent Sarah on some opportunities and yeah, oh I guess I didn’t finish saying what? Grace’s advice was on the other books on the contemporary bdsm books was she suggested just doing very simple covers for those. And I think that’s probably a really great idea and she even is encouraging me to make my own covers which I never do. But I’m really going to have to go look at the contempt media samorotic stuff. So who’s writing at it anymore.

37:23.59
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And if anyone knows who’s who are the hot writers I just have not been paying attention. But I’m going to have to go renew some friendships there and find out like the best way to put those books up and see what kind of covers people are doing I’ve been immersed in the fantasy romance stuff for so long that I’m really just out of touch. So yeah, Jack and Jim were riffing on like what kind of simple covers I could do they were like black with a pair of Handcuffs I think they were terribly amused so I may do something like that and just get those up. As to your suggestion Meghan on you know, just having Ravven do all those covers. She won’t do the the contemporary erotic stuff that’s not her stick so she’s she would say no I won’t even bother to ask. But I do have other. Cover artists I could ask to do it I could ask the gal who did the sorcerous moons covers. Um, ah I’m going to be paying so much money for covers. Maybe I will try to do them myself. Grace who refers to herself as Mrs Krabbs is big into saving money and doing. Tiy so I don’t know maybe I’ll use book brush to make the covers see if I feel creative. But for this weekend. It’s gonna be a lot of gardening I think maybe some book cover creation. Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and ah. That you get to do all the things you want to do. We’re supposed to have beautiful weather. No wind I’m going to be outside twenty four seven I got to sit outside last night and have um a brandy and read my book at the fire table and it was so nice. Deb the wind not blowing had the. Windows open all night ah such a relief so you all take care I hope it’s a magical weekend for you and I will talk to you tomorrow? Oh no, not tomorrow. What am I saying I see that’s that tape recording I just went into auto mode I will talk to you on Monday. You all take care bye-bye.

Shoutout to Ravven, My Brilliant Cover Artist!

This week at the SFF Seven we’re giving a shoutout to our favorite book-adjacent creative! (Be it cover artist, free-lance editor, web designer, etc.) I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout to the heavens about the talents of Ravven, my cover artist.

I swear, sometimes I think I wouldn’t have an indie career without her! 

Ravven is just a hugely talented cover artist with the phenomenal ability to simultaneously nail genre, find exactly the image that’s in my mind, and create a brilliant work of art.

These are the two most recent covers she’s done for me, and they’re just fabulous. All the love to Ravven!

A Few of My Favorite Contractors

This week at the SFF Seven we’re talking about Contractor Best Practices. And already CharissaJames, and KAK have posted great articles about communication and clear expectations. I whole-heartedly ditto everything they said.

So, instead of reiterating, I thought I’d share my own favorite contractors. It’s a great opportunity to give them a shout-out. One of the best parts of being an author who self-publishes is that you become the source of work for other people. I love that I, by creating words, am a font which then flows money out to the people who do work for me. They are vital parts of my business and I’d hate to be without them.

These days, after years of honing my practices, they’re a pretty lean team.

My Assistant

First and foremost, my amazing assistant is the fabulous Carien Ubink, aka book blogger Sullivan McPig. Whenever someone asks what my assistant does for me, I reel off the list and then – for about half an hour afterward – I’m adding “Oh, and she also does this!” We’ve been working together for years now. (She could tell you how many, which is one of the things she does for me.) She’s the best.

My Cover Artist

While I occasionally use other cover artists, my go-to and favorite is Ravven. She’s done the majority of my covers and I hope will do many, many more. She has an uncanny ability to take my inadequate descriptions and hand me back a gorgeous cover that exceeds my imagination. She’s timely, helpful, goes the extra mile. No one else comes close to her in talent, skill, and clean business practices.

My Proofreader

Crystal Watanabe at Pikko’s House handles all of my editorial. She’s super fast, thorough, and a delight to work with. She also operates a business that offers the gamut of editorial services. I highly recommend checking out Pikko’s House.

My Formatter

Yes, I farm out my formatting – largely because my formatter, Paul at BB eBooks, is so fantastic. He accommodates my sometimes screechingly tight turnaround times, always doing a stellar job, and with a great attitude. There’s nobody I trust more to get the job done right.

THE LOST PRINCESS RETURNS… in print!

Check out the pretty pretties! This gorgeous cover by the wonderfully talented Ravven is just phenomenal in print. And now I have copies on hand if you want to order a signed and personalized book! You can also check out my store for signed print copies of most of my other books. *Note that if you want it personalized, you need to fill out the line saying so. Also, if you already have a print copy, you’re welcome to mail it to me for signing, too.

Also, I’m teaching an online class in August: Keeping Secrets and Creating Suspense

The judicious use of secrets and revelations can be a difficult skill for new writers to learn. Jeffe Kennedy, known for her slow reveal of deeply held secrets, worldbuilding details and using secrets to amplify sexual tension will teach skills to approaching this delicate task.

She’ll discuss when to withhold information and how that functions to build tension, even in books that aren’t technically mysteries. She’ll also give pointers on how to know when NOT to withhold information and how to seed important clues. She’ll cover how to create suspense through setting, body language, and dialogue. Finally, Jeffe will discuss different approaches for the big reveal and how to avoid info-dumping so that the pace remains climactic.

Should be big fun!

I’m also considering starting one or more Mastermind groups for aspiring writers. I’d match you up with a few writers of like minds and goals – and current career status – and guide the group in supporting one another to maximize everyone’s success. If you think you’d be interested, message me through the website contact form.

 

Ravven: Queen of the Cover Artists

Our assignment this week at the SFF Seven is to give a shout-out to the non-author creatives who enrich our lives: illustrators, musicians, jewelers, painters, poets, voice-actors, etc. This one is an easy pick for me because I just released THE FATE OF THE TALA, which means I’ve been posting the cover everywhere.

Fortunately, it’s so freaking gorgeous that no one gets tired of seeing it over and over. That’s because it’s the work of Ravven, Queen of the Cover ArtistsCome on over to find out more. 

 

 

Wrestling POV – How Do You Choose?

I woke up this morning and got some photos of the full moon setting during a lunar eclipse, the second full moon this month, and during the supermoon cycle. That makes it a super blue blood moon, which is a mouthful. Because our bedroom window looks west, we were able to lie there when we woke up around 5:40am, and watch the shadow cross the moon until totality. I live in a magical place.

Yesterday I started on a draft of THE ARROWS OF THE HEART, the next book in The Twelve Kingdoms/Uncharted Realms saga. For those familiar with the series, this will be Zyr and Karyn’s book. And, for those who get my newsletter – if you don’t, and want to, sign up is here – you know I did a survey on whose point-of-view (POV) to tell it from. Because, clearly, I’ve been wrestling with this issue for a long time. 

These results were fascinating and unexpected – especially that so many readers were good with alternating first person. But they also didn’t give me a definitive answer. All you people who trust me to just tell a good story! I love you, I really do. BUT YOU ARE NOT HELPING.

See, normally, POV is not a question for me. The traditional advice – and I think it’s good advice – is to take the POV of the character with the most at stake in a scene. This works much better with alternating POVs, however, when there’s freedom to choose a POV based on stakes. And which gives weight to alternating first person POVs.

In this series, however, I’ve always done a single First Person POV. I think there’s something to be said for sticking to a single form. Like, Shakespeare wouldn’t start writing plays in rhyming verse instead of blank verse. Not that I’m Shakespeare! But I do believe in creating coherency in a series, for a common feel. In addition, each novel in this series has been from the heroine’s POV. I’ve always felt that’s important, as it seems so much fantasy dwells on the male gaze. (Some of the novellas have been in the hero’s POV, or even in third person alternating, but I see those as subsidiary to the main arc.)

Still, this hasn’t been a no-brainer on this book. It should obviously be from Karyn’s POV – but I keep thinking about Zyr’s POV and hearing his voice in my head. Many of you – and writer friends I whined to who likely aren’t reading this – said to just go with it! Write it the way you want to!

So, I *did*! I started yesterday and wrote a page or two in his POV and…

………………it’s all wrong. 

It’s something, and I’ll keep it, at least for a while, but I think this is a case of pushing through the wall. (I talked about that at a panel recently, nicely summarized by Shannon Moreau here.)

You know what decided me? I started thinking about the cover and working on that with the fantastically talented Ravven, and I only see the heroine on the cover. That says a great deal.

So: opinions from those of you who haven’t weighed in yet?

The Tide Is Shifting!!

THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE is taking shape! If you haven’t been under a rock these last two days – and if you have, hey, I don’t judge – then you’ve already seen the cover. So much gorgeousness! The incomparable Ravven did this for me. Many people (who haven’t been under a rock, but that’s okay, too) have asked if this is the same artist who did the covers for (RITA finalist!)  THE PAGES OF THE MIND and THE EDGE OF THE BLADE.

The short answer is: no.

But Ravven did an AMAZING job of matching the look and feel of those previous covers. Those were done via my publisher, Kensington. They hired artist Cliff Nielsen to create the images and Kensington’s in-house cover designer, Kristine Mills, took it from there. Ravven did both jobs and managed to capture the same vibe while pinpointing everything about Zynda as I described her.

Because, yes, that’s Zynda – the Tala cousin of the three princesses of the original Twelve Kingdoms trilogy. She’s a powerful shapeshifter, capable of taking many animal forms, and she’s also a sorceress. Just how much can she do? Well, we don’t know for sure! But, like her cousin Andromeda (Andi), she is of Salena’s potently magical line. Zynda has an interesting role to play in unraveling the riddles that plague their realms.

Oh, wait – you’re wondering why I’m doing this book on my own, when the previous five were with Kensington? Yeah, savvy readers will have picked out that THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE will be self-published rather than traditionally published. This partly by my choice, partly not.

See, this is how traditional publishing works, is that they might decide they no longer want to publish a series even though the author (and possibly readers!) think there’s more story to tell. In Kensington’s case, they were happy the books were so well received and have gotten great awards, but the sales weren’t what they wanted. Specifically the print sales. All of these books have sold great in ebook form – which is very typical for romance – and have sold through on the advances Kensington gave me. The print sales, however, weren’t as good as they wanted. What did they want? I don’t know. These decisions are rarely made clear to the authors. Instead, what they do – and did with THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE – is pass on the “option book,” which is the next book I’m contractually obligated to offer them.

Once they passed on SHIFT, which came as no surprise to me for a number of reasons – frankly, I was luckier than most to go that long as many authors get two books and that’s it – I had the freedom to self-publish the rest of the series. That’s pretty huge, by the way. Back in the Bad Old Days, I would not have had this option. The infrastructure to self-publish simply wasn’t there. You know how some of your favorite series suddenly seemed to just… stop? 95% of the time, that’s the reason why. (The other 5% being author going off the edge, burning out, or dying, pretty much in that order.) 

So, I’m planning to do this book and at least one more. After that… it depends! I’ll have to see where the overall arc is and how you all are with it. I’ll have to make my own sales decision. For the time being, I’m *thrilled* that this cover continues the look of the series in grand style. In additional exciting news, my editor for the first five books is freelancing, so Peter Senftleben will be editing these also! I’m also fortunate to have my same production editor, Rebecca Cremonese, who makes sure all of my books are as perfect as my stubborn nature allows. 

I’m shooting for August 15 release date on this. Amazon only allows a 90-day lead on setting a pre-order date, so by mid-May, when we can actually DO it, I’ll know for sure that I can commit.

This is the initial blurb. It will change as, you know, I write the actual story. If you want to learn something about how my process does (and doesn’t!) work, save this and compare it to the final. Could be entertaining!

Free from the hand of a tyrant, the Twelve Kingdoms have thrown all that touch them into chaos. New allies appear–and enemies encroach–from all sides. To survive, they must adapt to this new reality without a moment of doubt…

Growing up in a country where magic was common as dust, Zynda never had to worry about her enchantments upsetting the balance of nature. But the land beyond the borders of the thirteenth kingdom calls to her. It may be foreign and ugly, but the strangeness is laced with an excitement she has never known. Outside her homeland, Zynda’s shapeshifting and sorcery are a potent advantage to nations grasping for dominance–and the thrill of power lures her even as she recognizes the threat she poses to these magic-buffeted realms.

A ruthless enemy stalks them, promising destruction if she does not fight with all her strength–but if she upsets the equilibrium of the land, all will pay, the common people most of all. And a man of this outside world fascinates her, a mossback with no scrap of magic in him. He knows nothing of the fears and temptations pulling at her. But in his steady embrace she learns she must choose well–for the consequences may reach farther than she ever imagined…