Thoughts on the Twitter debacle and how I don’t think newsletters are the answer (still). Also, my new landscapes, why I surround myself with certain kinds of images and why they are NOT my framed book covers.
Thoughts on the Twitter debacle and how I don’t think newsletters are the answer (still). Also, my new landscapes, why I surround myself with certain kinds of images and why they are NOT my framed book covers.
I’m back to regular (mostly) podcasting, catching you all up on my activities, talking a bit about voice – how to recognize it and what it means – and asking for input on this midwinter holiday fantasy romance novella.
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.
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.
Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee. It tastes a little different this morning. Maybe that’s just me I know I don’t have covid now anytime somebody says that they taste something. Taste funny. It’s like all of you lost your sense of smell and taste. It’s co today is Tuesday March first and it is mardi gras woo happy mardi gras um yes, I’ve been to various kinds of merit Mardi Gras um my mom lived in New Orleans for a while and so I’ve been to. Um I’ve actually never been there on fat tuesday on the Tuesday itself I’ve been there for leadup I’ve also attended Mardi Gras type things in Memphis went to um. Ball when I was in college and it was fun. So I know it’s um, different sorts of festivals and other parts of the world in Netherlands and italy it’s carnival. So if you are on video. You will see I am wearing my enormous ginormous Mardi Gras earrings that are masks 1 on either side I guess I could have put on beads I didn’t put bes on purple green and gold are mighty gra colors. So. So yeah, a little bit of mardigra festivizing here I do have tons of Mitiggra be’s not nearly as many as I used to and no I never showed anyone my tits so that’s a thing for those of you who don’t know a us tradition. When the floats go by the the boys on the floats will yell out show us your tits and girls will lift up their shirts some of them and show their their breasts to get like the really good beads and a friend of mine pointed out who is a detective in New Orleans he was like. Don’t show those yahooos your breasts when you can go buy that string of beads like the really good beats the really good ones. You know you could go buy it nanny store along here for like ten twelve dollars like isn’t it worth more than that I was like huh.
It’s a good point. I was going to say something else but I will so.
Ah, so yeah I did not write yesterday I just did release stay things I was as you guys know if you listened yesterday I was feeling very empty brained and I’m perkier today. So we’ll see I need to now get into the business of. Reorienting my brain back into thinking about The Storm Princess and the Raven King tying up Heirs of Magic I guess I should say that release day yesterday went fanabulous. You guys are awesome. Wonderful. You know, additional sales on top of the preorders I’m I’m very happy I also anticipate it will go on this week 1 thing that we talk about a whole lot and I know I’ll come back to storm princess because I did want to talk about release day stuff. Especially if you’re indie is because when we get to choose what day we release on is there’s all this debate of what is the best day to release books if you’re traditionally published books come out on Tuesday and so. You guys may or may not know this. But the reason that traditionally books come out on Tuesday is because The New York Times bestseller list comes out on Wednesday and which means that they would go to press on Tuesday night or Tuesday afternoon so they would count sales up through Monday. So the publishers started releasing books on Tuesday because that gave the books a full week of sales before the New York Times counted them. But best seller list. That’s why Tuesday that’s why Tuesday is the magic publishing day I think it’s funny. You know like how the how the tail ends up wagging the dog on these things. My nose has been inching lately. Doesn’t that mean that like someone’s giving you a gift or something I could ever keep track of the superstitions. Um, yeah, so so that’s why and now we know that the New York Times best seller list is even more a combination of. Black magic smoke and mirrors and sleight of hand because there are books that how do I put this. How do I say this delicately maybe by not saying it delicately at all. Ah, there is certainly exchanges of favors if not money.
For books to be placed on the bestseller list because the publisher wants them there regardless of sales if you’re looking at it from a purely numbers perspective. Those numbers are from particular bookstores. So The New York Times bestseller list counts books sold in bookstores I don’t know how they’re doing ebook sales since didn’t they add it or maybe it’s Usa today that added ebooks. But so like even counting just paperbooks. It wasn’t even all paperbooks. It was paper bookss at particular bookstores and and I know this because when not back when I lived in Laramie Wyoming I had a very good friend who was a manager at the local independent bookstore and she worked very hard to get that bookstore to be. 1 of the bookstores whose sales counted towards New York Times bestseller list in order to support one of the Wyoming authors Cj box. So so you know what’s interesting. It’s always been very selective very very much. Picking and choosing only particular um venues books and so forth. So if you’re self publishing. There are some people who will release on tuesday if they’re really trying to hit a list I’m really am not persuaded that it makes any difference. Hit a list. Not just for the sake of hitting the list and that’s something I notice a whole lot with self publishers is that that we can take these things that are hallmarks of success and kind of um, put the cart before the horse as it were. So something like um, like 1 hallmark of success is selling enough books to hit a bestseller list. So now there are all of these people who’ve reverse engineered it and figured out ways to hit a bestseller list so they can have those letters and say Usa today. Usat bestseller because then it gives them the hallmark of success but you didn’t actually get there because of the success of the books you just picked this thing another one I’ve noticed is people commissioning. This is funny. Commission fan art and it’s like well fan art is art that fans of the books create because they love the books and so it’s a great hallmark of success right? when somebody’s so inspired by your books that they create art about it. So.
Some of these self-publers are going out and commissioning paying artists to create what they call fan art but it’s not actually fan art so you know it’s all of these things where you sort of create this window dressing the appearance of success in order to be successful. You know and I do get that there’s you know some of that magical thinking and manifestation realization of the um you know like dressing for the job. You want to have kind of thing but and I’m not saying. That people should do those things but I think don’t make don’t mistake it for anything but what it is so other than that if you’re self publishing then the question becomes where do you. What day. Do you publish on for maximal success and and kind of the answer is we don’t know it doesn’t seem to matter I try not to publish on Tuesdays because all of the trap books are published on Tuesdays each week and so there just tends to be a glut at the same time. You know like a high tide floats all boats. You know, maybe there’s something to that to being on Tuesday this time I published on the twenty eighth because on a Monday because it was the very last day of February and I wanted that Amazon many. A month earlier right so if I had published today instead of yesterday then I would have gotten the money for that book as it is I’ll get this at the end of April if I’d published today I would have gotten it at the end of may so it’s a significant difference for me so far as. Money flow. So yeah because I was behind on the book I picked the very last day of February that I could and made it whoo. So so that’s awesome. But now I’m interested to see. Because I think normally I would not have picked a Monday and yesterday was a very very quiet day I know a lot of people are staying off of social media because of the war in Ukraine. Um, it’s just it’s been a lot and the people who are online are paying attention to that and not to other things. So yesterday felt very quiet as far as release days go but I’ve noticed already today I’ve noticed already today that there have been some more people popping up and congratulating me on the release of gray magic.
And I’m interested to see if like some of those usual, you’ll like where people do the weekly roundup of releases if some of those pick it up today because a lot of people just do those on Tuesdays and pick up all the books both tred and self published for the week um so maybe that will create a nice tale for this book which is definitely something we want. We want to keep those sales up for the the entire week also and you’ve heard it here. Um, the first book. Dark wizard is going to be a Kindle daily deal on Friday Amazon offered that to me so that’s pretty awesome. So I’m really going to try to keep that momentum going this week and yeah it was great time and on their part I think they may have been watching. Pre-orders on gray magic I mean that makes sense doesn’t it. So maybe that is the 1 thing about Amazon for as much as we bitch about them is that Amazon is very invested in selling books and so they they help us sell books and that’s. Kind of an awesome thing that they are running these algorithms all the time and looking at stuff and looking at how to boost sales. So um, yeah, so that’s all my stuff on release I’m interested to see how it goes this week um you know it is a funny time and I think we’re all very concerned. Um, so it goes right? So yes, now I need to get my head out of release of great magic. Of bonds of magic I need to start thinking about strong princess on the Raven King tying up this series and how do I do that I don’t know. Um so I did this very interesting online panel yesterday. With um pro writing aid they’d asked ssu one if we would be interested in putting together a panel and I handed the task off to Lexi Chantel who listens hi lexii Alexe did an amazing job. She ended up with me and Mary Robin at Koal and and I think it was great. Ah, she had asked other people and for various reasons people couldn’t do it that day it was yesterday was a strange day I don’t know whatever I was so busy doing so people couldn’t do it so it ended up being.
Just the 3 of us and Lexi did a great job of asking questions I feel like you didn’t talk about your own books in athley but that’s what you get for getting me and Mary Robinette on something is we will both talk a lot but they um. Audience was super engaged and asked great questions and it was really fun and Mary Robinette I think is very smart and and we have very different processes and so it was just interesting to to look at you know, like how she does things versus how I do things. And you know for me I think so much of it has to do with whether or not, you’re an analytical whether you take an analytical approach or an intuitive approach almost more. So I think that’s even more important than. Looking at things in terms of whether or not you are a pre-plotter or an architect versus a pancer or a gardener. Um I think whether how you approach the process of writing whether. For you. It’s an analytical thing which I think it very much is for Mary Robinette the way she describes things she um she works. She’s accustomed to working with teams because she comes out of theater. And so she actually has people read along as she stays a couple of chapters ahead but she has people read along and give her feedback on the story as she writes and she adjusts accordingly. Um, which I said gives me his It’s hard for me to imagine doing that having that. Feedback I um I want to to be in the story and I think it’s because I am an intuitive writer and it’s difficult for me sometimes when people try to get me to approach the story analytically because I just can’t um. I think that’s partly why I’m not a pre-plotter because I just you know when people ask me like well what is this character’s goal. My brain just doesn’t work that way which is funny because I’m very analytical in other ways. But as far as the creativity i’m. Very much an intuitive writer. So I feel like when I’m going moving back into the story and finding these characters again. It’s kind of a.
It feels like a process of submersion of concentrating and getting into that. So so one of the things I’m thinking about today is that the nebula finalists calls will start going out and I have already seen the list of. Finalists for this year’s nebulous and approved it and now it goes through a couple of stages of verification. But then I will probably be making some phone calls today. So which is a fun thing to do It’s definitely a perk of being president. But i. Also feel like it’s going to interfere with me sinking into this story.
That’s why um, Mary Robinette talking about working so collaboratively kind of gives me hives because all I can imagine is like having so many other voices in my head as I’m writing which she loves apparently I mean that’s that feeds her. Um I don’t want none yours voices in my head. But maybe I’m feeling southern today with ah with the Mardi Gra missing south I haven’t been to New Orleans in a while world fantasy convention is in New Orleans in November and I’m considering going. That would be nice wouldn’t it. Mema’s last time I was there might have been the RT conference in 2014, 2015 surely I’ve been there since ah I don’t know all right? well. This isn’t interesting. So um, so yeah I wish me luck getting back into the story congratulations to those of you who are nebula finalists the british science fiction awards also announced. Was it british science fiction hold on I was wondering why my counter wasn’t going up. Um, so yes, it is the british science fiction association and they they announced that yesterday nebula finalists will start being notified today and that’ll announce after. Um, I just wanted to remind you all that if you are not a nominee shortlisted a finalist if your books didn’t make this debt that is only 1 kind of recognition. Yes, it’s a hallmark of success. We’re coming back to this. You know how do you know what what are the emblems of success. What are the milestones yeah, getting nominated for awards winning an award those are those are 1 kind. They are not the only kind of having readers read and love your books. That’s the most important thing not having bestseller letters after your name not having art of your characters commissioned or. I want to say authentically generated there people receive things in different ways and do different stuff with it. So so yeah, if you are an author or other kind of artist out there and it can be.
Difficult during a award season when these awards are announced and very often. It’s the same names on these lists because those are the ones that a small community of people has decided is worthy of this particular kind of recognition. Um, don’t don’t worry about it because keep in mind that’s one community of people and it’s not It’s not everybody and it’s not the only thing so on that note. I’m going to wander off and see about getting my head back in this book and I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care happy fat Tuesday.
I’m working away on my novella for the FIRE OF THE FROST midwinter holiday fantasy romance anthology! The story takes place in the Bonds of Magic world more or less at the same time as the events in DARK WIZARD. You can preorder now for the December 2 release!
Also, this is really cool! THE ORCHID THRONE is on this amazing Book Riot list: 20 OF THE BEST ENEMIES-TO-LOVERS FANTASY BOOKS. Fair warning! This list might have you click-buying. It sure did for me.
At the SFF Seven this week we’re talking censorship. Charissa and KAK already provided excellent discussions of the difference between censorship and blocking disinformation and hate. So, I’m going to take the topic in a slightly different direction, which is looking at the ways we censor ourselves.
A perennial problem for writers – perhaps for all creatives – is getting rid of the other voices in our heads. Something new authors often seem to ask is how to write about topics their families consider off limits for one reason or another. They can be concerned about dealing with sexual topics or gender-related ones, politics, family secrets, etc. It’s not easy to free ourselves to write when there’s that persistent worry that someone we love will read it and be angry. And so we censor ourselves, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously.
On a larger scale, we live in an era of loud voices. In an attention economy, where businesses thrive or fail based on clicks, the loudest, most persistent voices can be the most lucrative. This kind of environment isn’t conducive to the silence creatives need in order to coax new art into being. Those loud voices can drown out the quiet whispers of something fragile and newly born to the world. The voices can also leak into our thoughts and dictate what we should and shouldn’t write. Thus we censor ourselves, killing those new sprouts before we even have time to discover what they are.
What’s the solution? There are no easy answers. I can offer that I have a poster hanging over my desk, one I made myself. It says:
What would you write if you weren’t afraid?
I look at it often when I hesitate, when voices leak into my head, when I start worrying about the final story and how it will be received. It keeps me going.
Write through the fear. You can always edit later.