First Cup of Coffee – September 19, 2022

Some stats on my Bookbub Featured Deal and setting DARK WIZARD free for the week. TL:DR-great sell through on books 2 & 3! Also how I harvested grapes, organized all the things, and danced to TSwift.



Circles of Community – How Writer Friends Keep Me Going

A gratifying milestone for me – DARK WIZARD has passed 500 ratings on Amazon! And with a 4.3 overall average, too. I’m so thrilled by all the love this book and series has received.

I’ve been busy writing SHADOW WIZARD, the next book in this world (coming 9/29! available for preorder now), and so missed my usual Wednesday blog post. I’m making that up today, because I really did want to address this week’s topic at the SFF Seven. We’re talking about Writing Community and asking: do you have a writing community and if so (online, phone calls, zoom, in person) how do your interactions refill your creative well?

I’m so deeply grateful for my writing community! I have many different ones, from one-on-one friendships to large, professional organizations. Here’s a smattering of them and how they refill that well.

 

Friends

Just yesterday I had one of my monthly hour+ phone calls with writer bestie Grace Draven. We’ve been doing this for a couple of years now. Aside from our other messaging via text and FB messenger, and quick calls, we set aside time to have longer conversations about our business strategy. These talks help us both clarify our priorities.

I get on Zoom daily with another writer bestie, Darynda Jones. We typically do three one-hour writing sprints with some chatting in between. Having that company while writing (even though we mute while actually working) gives me a sense of companionship, and the daily discussions of our writing keep us invigorated. We can also bounce ideas off of each other, from “what’s the word I’m trying to think of?” to “Help me solve this plot problem!”

I also have other writer besties I communicate with via email or social media, people I can call upon for insight or emergency beta reads. We don’t necessarily talk on a regular schedule, but knowing they’re out there is priceless.

 

Small Groups

I’m part of various smaller communities, from a private author group on Facebook, to a Fantasy Romance Discord, to the much larger Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) Discord. I love to dip in and out of these groups, answering questions and asking them, too. They’re fun and fantastic resources.

 

Professional Organizations

I already mentioned SFWA. As the current president of the organization, I get to interact with all kinds of creators, from newbie writers to names on the spines of books on my shelf. Getting to email with Neil Gaiman, have coffee with Catherine Asaro, or chat for a few hours with Jane Yolen are thrills I never quite get over. Feeling like a part of that larger community is validating for me on a critical level. I believe more in myself and in my work for having those associations.

 

Conferences

I just returned from WorldCon in Chicago – my first big conference since the COVID pandemic – and it brought home to me how wonderful these gatherings are. Conferences bring in so many different members of the reading, writing, and creating community that the cross-section of conversation is incredibly stimulating. More than the programming, just getting to be around other people who love the same stuff and sharing that excitement refills my creative well like nothing else. One of the great revelations of the pandemic for me was how much social stimulation I gain from conferences. I value them like never before.

I value all of my writing communities, and am so grateful for each and every one of you!

First Cup of Coffee – September 16, 2022

Updates on my next projects and on the state of trad publishing – spec is out, full mss are in – and thoughts on being hybrid & the “middlest” author. Also info on how/why trad publishing only counts print sales.



First Cup of Coffee – September 13, 2022

Happy release day to ONCE UPON A FORBIDDEN DESIRE, a Fantasy Romance fairytale anthology! Besides that I’m discussing defending writing time with fences and thoughts on setting first in series free.



First Cup of Coffee – September 12, 2022

Telling some stories about WorldCon that illustrate the power and efficacy of networking – and how that’s really making friends with people. While we never stop pitching, it does get easier and friendlier.



First Cup of Coffee – September 9, 2022

A bit on audiobooks and the relativities of going exclusive with Audible vs. wide – and *how* to go wide if you do that. Also some (bad) news on the midwinter holiday fantasy romance anthology and a question for you all.



First Cup of Coffee – September 8, 2022

I’m sharing the incredibly gorgeous covers from the Czech translation of the Chronicles of Dasnaria trilogy, and also talking about covers in general, how self-publishing helps being savvy about them. Some spoilers for this trilogy and for Forgotten Empires.



Jeffe’s Top Five Worldbuilding Tips

SHADOW WIZARD coming September 29, 2022! Preorder now!!

This week at the SFF Seven, we’re sharing our top five worldbuilding tips. Since I just returned from WorldCon in Chicago, where I gave a workshop on worldbuilding from a character-driven perspective, I’m going to cheat ever so slightly and pull from that.

1. All stories require worldbuilding

Even a story set in our contemporary world, written as realistically as possible, still requires worldbuilding because it’s impossible to to replicate the complexity of our world. You will always be picking and choosing relevant details. Choose wisely. (And see Tip #5.)

2. Don’t allow worldbuilding to be displacement activity for writing the actual story

Worldbuilding is fun! Writing is hard. It’s easy to spend tons of time on research and worldbuilding and kid yourself that it’s writing. It’s not. Don’t become the person with megabytes of maps and details and no actual text.

3. The world is yours to shape however you like – build it to challenge your characters

Story is about characters facing conflict. The world they live in creates external conflict for them and informs their internal conflict. Since you get to play deity here, build the world with challenging your characters in mind.

4. RPGs – role-playing games can distort your worldbuilding sense.

Many creatives learn worldbuilding from gaming, which can be a great exercise, but – as dedicated gamers have pointed out (I am not one) – game worlds often don’t make any internal sense. Use caution in emulating that model.

5. Use the iceberg model

While you should know – or discover – all about your world, most of that detail should be like the iceberg beneath the surface. Only the tip of all that knowledge should show up in the story. If you’ve done the work and your world is internally consistent, that tip of the iceberg will be representative of the rest.

First Cup of Coffee – September 6, 2022

I’m back from WorldCon in Chicago! Reporting on the convention – awesome – and how lovely Chicago was, along with thoughts on ballet and appearing effortless. Now l’m buckling down to finish SHADOW WIZARD!




Transcript
00:02.97
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Delicious.

00:19.64
jeffekennedy
Ah, today is Tuesday September Sixth and I am back I am back from my travels back here in the grape arbor as you can see if you are on video and um, yeah. Nice to be home. Um, travels were good though. Um, just came back from world con and Chicago which was fabulous. It was um, personally my best world con ever I very much enjoyed it. It was um the the layout was amazing because it was all in the single hotel all of the events and everything we’re all in the one hotel where most everyone was staying and that is just. Infinitely preferable to me. Ah these other world concept I’ve gone to Dublin Kansas City and San Jose they were all um in like convention center type things that were separate from the hotel. And in Dublin because the hotel was fairly expensive. We stayed at an airbnb that was a considerable distance. Um from the events of the convention and while I really like the place we stayed in. It’s just a totally different con experience.

01:52.49
jeffekennedy
Um, if you’re not staying where the convention is occurring when you have to deliberately go to the convention space to do things people tend to go there and leave whereas at the hotel you get to see people on their way to stuff so you see people much more. Also this was like our first at least for me and for many people first big convention since pandemic. So even though I had been to Bubonicon ah the weekend before and Jack Williamson lectureship in the spring. Even though I’ve done a few other things. This was the first big one and the first time that I had physically seen so many people and it was it was just a delight. It was really great to be able to hang out in the bar and talk to people again. Oh and Apollycon, I forgot that one Apollycon was different because we didn’t have a lot of author hangout time. Um, and this was great. Just lots of um, lots of talk. There are just.

03:05.93
jeffekennedy
Conversations that only happen in person and interactions that only happen in person and we kept talking about that throughout the entire convention about how meaningful that was just to be able to interact with people in person again. Saw lots of old friends. So lots of people that I have um like talked to online in the last few years it was interesting for me that this was the big first big convention I’d been to since I’ve been president of SFWA and um.

03:42.21
jeffekennedy
And it it was Nice. You know one thing that was really lovely and a lot of you all out there make this effort to but a lot of people came up to thank me for the work I’m doing which was immensely gratifying very Interestingly. Several people made a point of coming up to me and saying commenting on how very smooth my presidency has been and then adding that they know that that means that we’ve been handling a whole lot of stuff behind the scenes because things are never that smooth. And you know that’s that’s really gratifying too because that means that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed right? You know it’s one of those things you know like the ballet dancer who’s um, aesthetic whose whose whole effort whose goal. Is to appear to be graceful and to float and to be effortless. Ah meanwhile her tendons are screaming. Her toes are about to give way. Um, she’s sweating bullets but the audience sees the fairy Princess. Ah, and so it was really lovely to have people who appreciated both things who thought that the ballet was looking fantastic but also appreciated all of the sweating of bullets that had gone on in the background I had um a great.

05:17.84
jeffekennedy
Coffee with Catherine Asaro and she was ah she came and found me at my table talk and asked if and which was like second to last day and asked if I could have dinner or something like that and we ended up doing like schedule tetris to find. Ah, time to meet up and um I wasn’t sure what she wanted and Catherine Asaro if you don’t know has been around for quite a long time. She’s a former president of SFWA one of the um I think is at 8 or 9 I actually wrote it down.

05:57.21
jeffekennedy
Well, it turns out I only wrote down the number of grand masters there have been nine female grandmasters I think Mercedes Lackey makes 10 I need to update my numbers. But ah I’m I’m pretty sure this number sticks in my head but that I am the eighth female president of SFWA since 1965 so um, and Katherine Asaro is 1 of them and she was telling me something that I didn’t know it turned out. She didn’t really want anything in particular she wanted to tell me with a great job. She thought I was doing.

06:33.20
jeffekennedy
Um, the recognizing the ballet ah and she and and we just kind of gossiped I kind of told her stuff. It’s nice to talk to a former president because I can gossip about some things and they’ll keep it to themselves. You know it’s like oh this is what was going on behind the scenes. They can appreciate it. I also had some great conversations with Mary Robinette Kowal similar stuff and um, sorry I was just thinking about something Mary Robinette was telling me that I need to remember.

07:12.51
jeffekennedy
So but 1 thing that Catherine told me that I hadn’t known was that she was the one to appoint and McCaffrey Grandmaster and that was I hadn’t known that and and it’s so cool because as many of you know if you’ve been listening for a long time. Ah. And McCaffrey was is and will forever be 1 of my great heroes and it remains a um, a great sorrow to me that I never got to meet her but you know it’s like what is that? um one degree of separation is it 1 or 2 ah, you know. Knowing knowing people who knew her and McCaffrey was really my gateway gateway drug to fantasy and yeah, so and it was interesting to hear Catherine talk about that back in the day. Ah, there had been pushback on appointing and McCaffrey Grandmaster and you know and she said of course nobody would say exactly that they thought it was too girly but that that was the the subtext and.

08:28.79
jeffekennedy
Yeah, you know it’s um, it was just really good to to make that contact and talk with people. So yeah, we had a SFWA meet and greet. We did not have the suite this year people kept asking. Did we have one? no but we did have a. Ah, short meet and greet in the bar and yeah and I was on a bunch of programming sold some books at my signing table I’m like never again going to do a signing table without. The ability to sign books because none of the world con booksellers and there were a lot down in the dealers’ room. Um none of them carried my books I saw Jennifer Estep’s books though, sent her a photo of those. But yeah, not one of them had my books. And and this is actually partly my fault – mea culpa – that we could have emailed this um dealer’s email address and asked them to carry books. So maybe I’ll do that next time certainly what be next year next year’s world con is in. Chengdu China year after that is Glasgow year after that is Seattle ah I don’t know if I’ll go to Glasgow maybe um I saw that Dublin had put in a bid for another one. It would depend on if Glasgow would be this deal of.

10:01.74
jeffekennedy
Well, there were so many things wrong with Dublin those terribly terribly small meeting spaces that they you couldn’t get into any of the panels programming. So I don’t know if Glasgow would be the same deal but we’ll see two years down the road I’m not going to think about it now. So that’s my last convention for the year except for I guess I shouldn’t say it’s it’s penultimate convention except for a world fantasy con in New Orleans at first week of November which I’m very much looking forward to I will be. Ah, rooming with Kelly Robson her wife isn’t attending so Kelly and I will share a room that was that would be great I did get to see both Kelly and Alyx at WorldCon spent some time with them drinking wine that was.

10:57.90
jeffekennedy
Wonderful also ah went out for an amazing dinner Greek food inspired Greek which was so good. Ah, which you know makes me now understand how a lot of the other Greek food I’ve had is definitely uninspired.

11:18.58
jeffekennedy
I was on some excellent panels moderated some excellent panels. Ah right now it’s all kind of a blur ah stayed up too late talking to people in the bar as is my want.

11:35.28
jeffekennedy
Um, yeah, oh and also this was very cool. Um, the one of the great things about the location was it was the Chicago. Oh Hyatt Regency downtown and it was right on the riverfront and. Chicago this downtown was just amazingly beautiful. They have done so much to make it gorgeous and so you could go down and walk along that riverfront and I walked all the way down to the lake which wasn’t very far saw the marina and navy pier and all of those things. Um, they had the architectural boat tours leaving from like right in front of the hotel and I really wanted to go on one I went on 1 in like 2015 at RT we like took a cab downtown to take the architectural boat tour and it’s just one of the best things ever and I really wanted to do that. And just ran out of time 1 thing for me about being at conventions and I think I’ve mentioned this before you know, a lot of people go out and do touring around and see the city and that sort of thing and I always feel like I’m at the convention to talk to people that that’s my reason to be there and so. Going on the architectural boat tour wasn’t talking to people but I did get to go on a long walk along the riverfront um almost every morning all but 1 morning and then um, the final morning I got to walk all the way down to.

13:08.38
jeffekennedy
A beach one of my friends – Alex, a different Alex – had found this beach and so we went down on Sunday morning and went swimming and that was really great. Ah it was um. Yeah, it’s so cool the way lake shore drive divides downtown from the lake and they had closed lake shore drive. It was Sunday morning of labor day weekend and there were all of these bicyclists going up and down lake shore drive. They’d closed it traffic and that was so neat to see. Um. And it was kind of a stormy morning but we had timed it well before it started to rain and so we went swimming and then I walked back in time to clean up and see ah it was funny because I know I have this phrase from my mother. But I I used it twice ah to different response I should tell the story in order. So I had said to to Kelly ah, when I met her very early for breakfast one morning. Ah like. Six forty five she picked me up at six forty five and we went to this place at 7 that opened at 7 which is the um only morning I didn’t walk because of that and but we both had stop later that morning so it was like you know go have breakfast and so we can get back and I said okay well I’m not going to be cute.

14:41.26
jeffekennedy
And she said untrue and I was like well I’m not going to be fixed up for the day yet and and I’d said something similar to my friend Alex when we went swimming because I said well ah he kept track of how long it took to walk down there which I really appreciate it and I said well I’ve just padded you know, allowed enough time to to get cute and he said you are cute and I was like yeah so maybe I need a different phrase for me. It always means you know cute-ing up is like doing the makeup and hair thing right? getting. Putting the nice clothes on ah and I know but that my mom says that that we always say that you know like oh well I were going to be cute for this? Ah so so that was all was all good I’m sure I have thoughts. Ah, right now. My brain is still a little empty I flew back late Sunday night it was a little bit of a um, you know, grueling drive back after landing I was a little tired but got up yesterday morning did not podcast I just didn’t have. That much energy. But I did get some words written I have to finish shadow wizard this week people um I’m I’m actually in okay is shape on it. I’ve got about 17000 words to go but I really want to maybe get to the end.

16:15.17
jeffekennedy
This week there goes um, waffling on my determination right? The thing is let’s let me tell you about the thing. So let’s see I am at 72000 words 72,155 I’m guessing it’s going to come out around 89K um I’ve only got a few chapters left which is interesting because I haven’t gone back to revise from the beginning right? Longtime listeners will know that usually by now I have ah I would have done that and I haven’t which is interesting interesting to me. Process always changes. So I think I’m going to write pretty much all the way to the end. Um, but I don’t need to necessarily hit that 89 k because then I’m going to go back and revise from the beginning and as always I will undoubtedly add so I need um. About a week six working days to revise I’ve gone wood. Ah um, and then a few days to do my out loud proofing for the final pass to get it uploaded by.

17:29.40
jeffekennedy
What’s my drop dead date to upload.

17:39.12
jeffekennedy
Um, to to down September Twenty fifth so right now I feel like I’m in okay shape twenty days nineteen days um a little bit less because I I need a a day to format so three weeks think I can get this done. Um I’m thinking of ending it in a slightly different way. Ah, which I don’t feel like I could talk to you all about and get feedback because it might be too spoilery I might ask Carien I think I got a mosquito but on my forehead did i. Alas, so um, so yeah, just that’s the big focus now finishing this book and if I had another thought there that I may have lost to the mosquito bite. Um, yeah, it’s been an interesting book to write. There’s a lot of lot of layers to this 1 layers like a parfait. Ah yeah, so that that was about all I did yesterday I also took. Ah, nowp slept for like two and a half hours which I’m not typically a napper but it was funny because I finished writing it was like I got a little over a thousand words and which I thought was pretty good for my empty brain and then ate lunch spend a little time with David chatting and then.

19:12.85
jeffekennedy
Lay down slept for two and a half hours and I woke up at like a quarter to 5 which so I was like oh I napped all the way till happy hour so it felt like um Regency lady I’ve been reading more Lisa Kleypas and so that’s a. How that felt so um, on that note I’m going to see if I can have a more productive day today and oh ah, next week September Thirteenth bookbub featured deal. For Dark Wizard and it’s going to be free, free download to sort of goose goose the sales ahead of shadow wizard coming out so tell your friends tell your friends your family told them to read it and then buy the rest of the series right. And be ready for jadron and Cellie’s story all right hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday ah tomorrow I’ll be blogging at the SFF Seven so I won’t be here but I’ll be back on Thursday you all take care. Okay bye bye.

20:30.47
jeffekennedy
And it would help if like I can actually activate the button goodbye.