First Cup of Coffee – July 4, 2022

On writing first novels and going to the ARC stage too soon, why that can be a really rough thing to do to yourself, and other thoughts on competition, Taoism, writing, and life.

Laroche5, 2/19/21, 2:58 PM, 8C, 7850×10233 (121+197), 100%, Repro 2.2 v2, 1/15 s, R85.8, G60.3, B75.9

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

Delicious today is Monday July fourth – the fourth of July everywhere in the world independence day and the US. But um, it’s um. It’s one of those funny. Maybe it’s like an american centrism thing but that we refer to it as fourth of July as if that’s the name of the holiday when it’s actually the date. You know how it goes so if you’re not on video. I could tell you that I am wearing my red white and blue. Well my skin is white I’m wearing red and blue wearing my red chilli pepper earrings. So those are my special celebration of New Mexico very glad to be living in this state. Um, so hope that it’s a good day for all of you. It should be pretty low key for us. Um, there’s going to be a parade here in our neighborhood at 10 but. I think I mentioned this they’ve changed it. So it just like goes around the parking lot at the community center which makes it rather less like a parade to me. Um, for safety I don’t really understand but not much fun to go watch. So. I’m gonna work today gonna get some work. He’s done and keep going on the book I did get some good good words on Friday so hoping to really start. Ah. Getting a consistent output here and then later today will probably go down to the plaza and hear some of the music and be around the people and stuff. Um I know Alex is a little concerned about being around people. So I don’t know. Who knows maybe we won’t do it. Um, they are going to England week after next so they want to be sure to stay join free until then and I think it’s funny. I even said to them last night I said but you’re here now you’re you’re here on vacation now doing a thing and I accept that that the trip to england was very important to them. So.

So I was um, excuse me I don’t know if this ah I want to mention something that I saw sorry I’m sort of messing around this because I don’t like to call out people in particular. Ah, but I did see something that gave me pause and I felt like I need to um, just say a few things about it because that’s what I do here. But I saw an author posting. That they had begun their first novel that they were 50 pages into their first novel and that they were looking for ARC readers ah and an ARC is an advanced review copy so when you are asking for arc readers that is the penultimate step to publication and putting it out in the world. You give people arcs with the intention of creating buzz of rewarding perhaps loyal readers of getting. Reviews getting early reviews. So yeah, so an arc is what you do when everything else is in place. Ah and sometimes it can be last minute. Like I will ah very often have the well for traditional publishing usually an arc goes out. Um, it’s the version right? before the final proofing. So. It’s already been through all the stages of editing. It’s been copy edited. But it just needs one more round of proofing and depending on the publisher. There might be several people who proof it the author goes over the page proofs. So ah, the arcs will often say on them. Um, uncorrected proof. Advanced review copy please do not quote without permission because there still might be a few things that change but otherwise it’s really really close to the final form. So if you are. And also writing your very first novel and congratulations. That’s fabulous and wonderful. Your next step is not looking for art readers your your next step should be looking for people to help with critique and.

And I understand the impulse to want to race right? to putting arcs out there for people to read but to me that the way it sounds like is if I said um I am building. My first kit car and I’m a week into it I’m about a quarter done and I’m looking for drivers to test it on the speedway I did spend some time trying to think of what a but appropriate analogy would be It’s um, it’s just not ready that you know if I’m building my my first kit car I could have the best instructions in the world I could have the most enthusiasm in the world that doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing it doesn’t mean that it’s ready to get tested on the speedway. The arc is the equivalent of testing the car on the speedway right? You’re seeing if it’ll you know before you actually put it in competition you know and I don’t like to think of publishing in terms of competition that’s something I’ve talked about a lot. Because I think it’s a well as a taoist I think competition is unproductive and actually counterproductive and I probably haven’t talked about that in a long time but I could um. I also take a lot of the competition in publishing is a false What’s the word I want there. It’s it’s just it’s not real I think people attempt to generate it because. Well some people feel competitive and then I think that there is a um I know a tendency for especially in american culture happy fourth of July um, there is a tendency to think that competition. Is good and that it brings out the best in people and I don’t think that that’s true. There have been things over the years where various um book bloggers and so forth would create. Like tournaments between books and encourage the authors to like trash talk the other authors and you know, attempt to garner votes I always hated those things where you had to like try to get votes for your book and you were supposed to you know people are like oh well, it’s all in good fun. You’re just supposed to have a good time. You know like.

Trash talking these other books and you know it’s it’s just to like get the books out there. Um, and I just um I never wanted to participate I never thought that it was it didn’t make me feel good. And I think that it it ittensified this idea that books and authors are somehow in competition with each other which is I mean just simply not true that you know if somebody reads one of my books and loves it and goes out there and says where are more books like Jeffie Kennedy’s I’ve read all of them. But can I read now then it’s great that there are other authors out there that have books to to satisfy them? Um, so yeah, that competitive thing is it I still can’t think of the word I want. It’s a false construct.

We go I had to go blow my nose tami looks like my lipstick still okay I’m I actually wearing lipstick since I’m doing independent stake colors. So anyway. Ah. We all have to go down into the drugs on competition. But. Give her I understand the impatience I understand the desire to get your book out there to get people reading it I realize that’s a lot of the the culture now with you know, social media and getting feedback and all that kind of thing that you really want that feedback. But. If. You’re a new author if you’re writing your very first book. Um, give your book. Ah a little bit of a chance because when you well if we’re going to extend that analogy if you are doing the equivalent of asking for race car drivers. To take it out on the speedway and tell you and they’re going to put it through its paces. They’re going to drive it as hard as they can arc readers are not necessarily going to be gentle with your first book. And that’s a pretty harsh entry. Um, find people who would be willing to read you read it for you and give you feedback not beta readers critique look ask for critique partners. Um. You know it’s I just think about some of my first efforts where I thought that I was so brilliant and I was so excited and then I would read it over and be utterly deflated because it it wasn’t good. It wasn’t what I wanted it to be. And you just have to get better. Um, and and you get better by doing a lot of it by doing a lot of it and by getting honest feedback. not not Reviews reviews aren’t critique. Reviews aren’t feedback. They’re not supposed to be so all right? We’ll leave that alone. Um I had fun yesterday we went out to breakfast to the tea house and then walked around kenyon road and Kelly and Alex really liked.

Seeing the galleries on Canyon Road I knew that they would. We went visited one of a couple of my favorite galleries the longworth gallery which has a lot of fantasy artwork I thought it was funny because one of the artists said they were featuring heavily. Um. They were really pushing the fact that it was metaphorical. Um and they even had like the owner was encouraging us or the manager you know like they got working there was encouraging us to read these screeds on the sides of the paintings and I know that I have been the one saying that I don’t like. Paintings that are untitled and people are like well that’s because you’re a word person. Jeffie and that’s like yeah but I didn’t I still don’t want that many words. Um I found the metaphorical art I mean it was very obviously metaphorical and I wasn’t quite sure why. We needed to be um, taken by the hand and really hammered about the here is the metaphor in my art now there has to be a balance there right? I I really I liked some of this artist’s work. But a lot of it was just I felt like way too heavy handed I liked the simpler stuff. Um, but it was still really fun to see I love going and looking at the fantasy artwork because it it gives me ideas and that’s always great and we went to another of my favorite galleries. Um Carol Laur Roche and so I brought out the postcard um isn’t that great Carol LaRoche does these wolves and other animals too. But for those of you not on video. This is a stylized wolf in red on a black background with red stars. And the wolf’s eyes are blue and glowing and there’s a real sense of both serenity and wildness to it. Maybe I’ll put that on the show notes. But I may frame this little picture I keep wanting to get a print from this artist. But they’re all like a thousand dollars for a framed print and that just seems like so much for for that. Um, yeah, well they were doing a 20% discount winter sale. But this is called. Under the red stars. Um, yeah so art buying art. So let’s see what else um.

I also saw a great um at that same gallery that has the fetasy artwork. They carry some um Michael Parkes stuff and they had a wonderful print of Michael Parkes that was called Morning that I really loved the feel of so that was fun to see and. Yeah So then you know we walked around till early afternoon and then I dropped them off again and I came home and I was virtuous and I balanced the books and pay bills and I still need to fit I started crunching royalties and I need to finish crunching royalties. But then I went back over and hung out for a while and drank wine on the portal. So that was um I don’t know kind of a good balance for the day right? and Saturday I don’t even remember. What did we do on Saturday is that funny I guess I mostly hung out. Yeah I think Kelly took the day down to to rest and recuperate and yeah, that’s right I did laundry I did laundry and I did a lot of reading. Um, finished reading this book that was not as good as I wanted it to be so here’s gosh. It’s another example in that I like this author this author has published several books so far. Um, self-published books. Um I found. Some of the previous books to be I mean they’re just not quite gellled yet and it’s hard to explain sometimes why a book hasn’t quite reached the point where I don’t know where it’s a keeper where it’s. You all know I hesitate to say things like assign qualities of good or bad to a book. But this author has a great great premises I really love how they set up. Relationship between the lovers I like the attendant fantasy world. But then it ends up being you know I grow bored reading it because the one thing that. I notice in a book. That’s not as gelled as I would like to see it is that the emotions the emotional intensity don’t seem to arise organically from the characters and I think that some of that is just again.

Writing more spending that time writing maybe getting the critique but you know when you get the hair the character sort of exploding into rage or exploding into passion where it hasn’t been built up I read to. I read to 78% and it was sort of to the point where some of the romance had been um, satisfied they I’d gotten a couple of sex scenes I’d been waiting for this author write sex. Well so I had. I’d gotten to that. But even then it wasn’t it just wasn’t quite built up to and I wish and I do try to turn off my editor brain when I’m reading for pleasure. So maybe if I read it again I would find where it’s not quite building up. But at that point it started to feel like. Mostly set up for the sequel and oh and I just wasn’t invested I just didn’t care that much. There didn’t feel like there was enough emotional tension there enough suspense. So yeah, so that kind of left me dissatisfied and now i’m. I’m looking for another great read. So I not that I don’t have hundreds of books in my tbr. But if you’ve read something amazing lately? Um I could use I could use an amazing read I think I’m still coming down from my. Glomming of that other author where I went through and read all of her back backlist and she’s very good, very polished author so it was hard to compare on that. But yeah, give me your Rex I want something I want a good. Emotional ride I might have to bounce out of um, fantasy romance for a little while and try some other things we shall see something with good characterization. All right I am going to get to work on my own. Characterization and emotional tension and I will talk to you all tomorrow if you’re in the us I hope you have a happy independence day thinking good thoughts for the state of our country and I will talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye bye.

A Report from the Book Brain

I received my box of galley proofs of THE ORCHID THRONE! They’re really just gorgeous. Even the paper has a wonderful texture. And these are just for Advance Reader Copies (ARCs)! I can’t wait to see the finished versions. The book releases in September, but I’m crossing fingers that I might have copies at RWA in NYC. For the moment, I only have ten ARCs, so we’ll be seeing who to send them out to. I included the lovely note Editor Jennie sent. Now you all can see why she’s so fab.

If you follow my podcast, First Cup of Coffee, then you know I’m hard at work on book two of the Forgotten Empires trilogy, THE FIERY CITADEL. This trilogy follows the same heroine and hero for all three books, so it’s been very fun to follow my pair as their relationship deepens, and as the overall threat escalates. As many of you know, I discover the story as I write it, so I’m finding out some amazing stuff. And the stakes are pretty intense. I’ve passed the midpoint of the story and am closing in on the end of Scene 5. The book has come to life in my head, which is something that happens at a certain point in drafting for me. It haunts my thoughts continuously. I think about it as I fall asleep and it’s on my mind when I wake up.

I really dream vividly at this stage, too, and talk in my sleep a great deal. David tells me that the other night I was having what sounded like a conversation in my sleep, but I was talking in two different voices. Kind of creepy, huh?

Good thing I have an outlet for this level of crazy…

Anyway, being at this intense level of creating gives me what I call Book Brain. I don’t have much room in my head for any thoughts that DON’T have to do with the story. I’m just sure I start sounding all vague on the podcast…

So, that’s where I’m at. A couple more weeks and book 2 will be done. Woo hoo!!



The Tears of The Rose Available on Net Galley!!

BzYfDXzCEAA8285Oh Blogalicious Peeps! Look what’s up on Net Galley for your requestation delight!

You can request digital ARCs for review here:

If you have problems, I can get you a widget!

I also have a few paper ARCs still, if you prefer! Just ping me and ask!

Birthdays and Bluebirds

Third BirthdayIn honor of my birthday today, I dug out this photo of my third birthday. Possible first hat sighting. 🙂

One of these years, I totally want to have another swimsuit-clad birthday party. Maybe in the Caribbean. Everyone can come! (We may need a bigger cake, however.)

rainbow over Sandia - Marlita Reddy HemfeltToday feels very blessed and special to me. When I blinked my eyes open, David rolled over and wished me happy birthday. I’m so lucky to   have him in my life. It’s raining today, always a welcome blessing in the desert – and Sandia was lit up bright pink, complete with rainbow. We went and ran at the gym. I’m in bSialia_mexicana_07094etter cardiovascular condition than I’ve maybe ever been in my life, thanks to the running and my treadmill desk. I rotate through a number of playlists and today’s happened to be a hit list of longtime favorites – Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Tonight Is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel, Dar Williams’ Alleluia, Running Down a Dream, and the Waltz for Eva and Che. Interestingly, they all follow the theme of reviewing the past and taking in both the regrets and joys. At the end of Waltz, Eva wishes for a hundred years – something I wish for, too.

A flock of bluebirds dashed past the windows as we ran.

Migas with chorizoDavid took me out to breakfast, my mom sent me beautiful flowers and since then I’ve been catching up with all the warm and wonderful 10599556_10151969113019364_9074084243050980582_ngood wishes from my online community – longtime friends, new friends, authors, readers and everyone in between.

A few readers and reviewers are celebrating the occasion by posting favorite reviews of my books, or quotes from them. That’s a first for me – and it’s just staggering. It feels like the most amazing way to give me a virtual hug. One of them, that I particularly loved seeing, partly because I don’t remember reading it before, says this of The Mark of the Tala:

I felt different after reading this book. The lines of my imagination were tested, and I LOVED IT. Jeffe writes with a paintbrush of a talented artist. Her words are filled with beauty and pain all at the same time. I found that this story was so well written, that even the simplest line, And there was Rayfe. Waiting for me,” overflowed with emotion. You could feel what she was feeling as she wrote the words. It was an amazing feeling to be so tuned into the author just by reading her words.

Amazing for me, to read THAT.

Lucky for me I have presents to give back! I just happen to have a box of hot-off-the-press ARCs of The Tears of the Rose. I’ll be mailing out a bunch tomorrow, so let me know if you want one!

~passes cake, too~