First Cup of Coffee – March 18, 2022

Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

Sometimes you just have to take a moment to savor the coffee. Um today is say it with me Friday woo March eighteenth kind of a darkish morning here in Santa Fe we from. Been getting a lot of sort of rain snow very springtime in the rockies around here. Great moisture. Did I tell you guys I don’t think I did I’m supposed to let go of this and I haven’t let go of it yet. We had a substitute postal carrier and he ran over my rain gauge I have. Had bought a rain gauge and put it out. We have sort of we have like a circular driveway with this cactus garden in the middle and I had it like two feet inside of the rock border of the cactus garden and this guy who was obnoxious anyway and I I woke. I won’t bitch about all the ways in which he was invasive I only saw the 2 days like our regular guy who’s fantastic and we tip in generously every year because he’s fantastic must have been on vacation or something how dare he and so there’s a substitute guy and he’d like. Clipped so far over into the cactus garden that he ran over my ringage and shattered it and I know I’m supposed to be letting go of it. It was not an expensive rainage. But I have no idea how much moisture we’ve gotten in the last few days because ran over my rain. Gauge I am bitter I haven’t complained about I considered it but he hasn’t been back so anyway. Ah yeah, so ongoing rains. No sleep. Little bit of accumulation. Not a lot. Not super cold either. It’s like hovering right around freezing. But yeah, very um, winterry kind of wintry press lots precipitations March which is good. We want it? Ah so. Yesterday yesterday was a day. Ah I did not get my 2000 words I got a little over a thousand. Um I I hit tired I I did my first couple of hours and I was gonna do my third and I still had like 900 words to go and i. Really hit tired I I wonder if it was partly from having the stuff done the day before like my body was still recovering from anesthesia or you know just like being poked at and all of that. But yeah I felt tired and so I um finished out some stuff.

You know, handled some SFWA things that I needed to approve and so forth and then I knocked off early and started watching snuggled into my chair and started watching Severance you guys been watching Severance? It’s on Apple Tv um I saw one gel I follow Regina Small who used to be with RT and was like when the first people to love my books so she obviously has fantastic taste and she had posted a funny set of pictures because they she’s got a little boy who’s like for and. She and her husband had a date night and so she had photos of her and her husband in New York with their wine and she said um, yes, your mom and dad had date night so that they could drink went out to pick oh that we was um. Splurched spl fliurched on a babysitter so that they could go out drink wine and talk about severance and I thought huh what is severance so I start watching it and there’s um, 6 episodes out so far. The sixth 1 comes out today and some it’s kind of a freaky show. And like especially after that episode 5 I’m like now I want to go out and drink wine and talk about severance with somebody facto I should tell Megan that so that she will um, put that on her schedule. Ah, yeah, it’s it’s one of those shows where I’m I’m so intrigued and it keeps getting twistier and twistier and I hope they won’t like make it so Twisty and weird that it ends up making no sense anyway. So I was watching my show and then. I had watched an episode and it’s pretty intense. So I bounced off and my mom had told me to watch a 60 minutes thing about Ted Lasso because I’d got my mom to watch Ted Lasso so I went and found that on Youtube and I was watching that mom and it had a fire going on the fireplace and I thought. You know, as soon as that was done. It was like a 15 minute segment I was going to get up and feed the cats and pour some wine and put some lazonia in the oven because David had decided to go out and get a few rides he drives through uber and so he said he’d go out and get a few rides before. You know evening the afternoon flights coming in and so forth. So about four thirty David text man he got rear ended so I will put picture on the show notes everybody was fine. Our car may be totaled. It’s.

It’s hard to say the the rear end is really missed up. Um, kicked off the muffler and the whole exhaust train pipe underneath I’m not a car person and ripped off the back bumper and kind of jacked up the trunk I mean it’s a. It’s a Toyota camera that’s got over two hundred thousand miles on it. 225000 so I mean it’s had a good life. It’s served as well. We’ll find out if it can be repaired so I drove into town to get David he had passengers at the time 2 really nice guys. Polish guys. From Denver originally from Poland I guess Polish accents but have been in Denver for like 20 years and they were just down here touring and they just wanted to get to the Plaza. They just wanted to see the Santa Fe Plaza and the cops had kept them there for a long time keeping everyone’s id so. Um, what had happened was I I won’t go too into the weeds for you guys because you don’t know Santa Fe streets and stuff. But this gal was in It’s a fairly busy street. It was on serreos for those of you who do know but serreos on the plaza side of St Francis so they had crossed st francis it was after the railroad runner train had gone by so over they surging forward. Leaping forward to get out and you know be ah free at last and this gal in front of David was in the left hand lane and he was right behind her in the left hand lane and. This other person came zooming up on the right cut left in front of her and across traffic to turn into this street where la shows is if you know Santa Fe I said I wouldn’t get into the weights and I did sorry and and so she hit the brakes and David. Stopped and had his foot on the brake and he was making sure that he didn’t hit hurt which he didn’t and the gal behind him slammed into him so but fortunately the gal in front of David got the plate of the person who pulled that shit because they. Toward left in there. But then there was traffic and they weren’t able to Zoom off. So apparently the cops had told David that they had already located that person so we’re David’s fine he seems to be doing well he’s had a couple hot bas. But so far now. Ill effects and I think they um you know didn’t hit terribly hard despite the the damage he says he got a little bit of Whiplash. So we’ll see how he did so it was a good thing I hadn’t started.

Drinking my wine I had to figure out how to put out the fire I’d won those fire logs and I to put it out because I thought all we needed was for me to come back and have the house be on fire. It was fine so went got him and then gave his passengers a ride dropped them off to the pla I’m like do you want me to. Drop you off at our favorite bar. That’s like a block from the plaza so you guys can get a drink and and they’re like no we want to get to the Plaza. So I was like all right, take it right to the plaza and drop them off so at least they achieved their destination but only at like an hour’s delay more than an hour. Probably. Ah, the 2 cars had to get towed off. Yeah so that was our excitement. We’ll see what happens with getting another car if this one’s totaled. We didn’t owe much on it. So maybe we’ll be able to get something else. Although David was saying I really don’t want to try to shop for a car in this market and that’s like you know it? So so hard to get cars right now. But maybe we can get a good use. 1 David’s really been wanting to get an electric car. Which would be great for you know, doing stuff around Santa Fe so maybe we’ll look into that that’ll be nice. So um, that’s what we’re doing and I’m going to the nice thing about. My new schedule is that I only need 2800 words 28 61 to hit 10 k for the week so I am going to try for that today because it’s less than 3000 math and. We’ll see if I can get that and that way I’ll be back on track and if not oh well that’s just worth worth shooting for right um. Yeah I’m closing in on the act 1 climax so I may be slowing down slightly on that because I I do need to get the stake set up and I’m still not entirely sure how this is gonna go I even asked doranda about this the other day because this is um, The Storm Princess and the Raven King last book in Heirs of Magic. Um, this is Salena and Rhyian’s story and I set this up in the prequel. Novella The Long Night of the Crystalline Moon and I knew from then kind of what.

At least what trope I wanted to use for this fourth book and and and those of I don’t some of you have been reading. Others have not but they have ah a huge problem. With their love affair and I think I could tell you because this is not spoilery because it comes out at the very very beginning of the prequel novella and book one so that Salena and Rhyian were lovers when they were teenagers first. Love beautiful and all of this and Rhyian screwed it up by cheating on her. And I know and in an unforgivable way. I mean is there a forgivable way to cheat. But um, you know basically he panicked she told him she was in love with him and he panicked and he screwed it up kind of on purpose because Rhyian is a messed up boy. So. Now. They’ve sort of been trusting each other’s company on this whole quest and fighting with each other for those of you keeping up with it and so now comes great resolution and so I’ve known kind of how I want them to come back together. But. Now I’m not sure how it’s going to dovetail with the external arc of the quest of what they need to do to resolve the quest and so I’m I’m overthinking I’m thinking too much. We’ll see how it goes but I’ve got like 18000 words on it so far eighteenth eighteen four 60 so and I’m shooting for around 95 so it’s not terrible. Um, we shall see him. So um I did make a note that I wanted to talk about cliff hangers which. This is a term that’s getting thrown about in reader stuff yesterday and some of this comes from responses to what I talked about yesterday with the readers really going after Jennifer L Armentrout which I am am reliably told Meghan Ciana Doidge commented on the Instagram post. That she thinks readers are reading it wrong and you know what do you do this happens I remember when I was teaching at community college teaching writing and I was using best american short stories and we were. Talking about some of the stories and one of the gals in the class said this story sucks. There’s there’s no nothing redeemable in this story and I said well the story doesn’t suck.

Story isn’t a bad story because obviously enough people thought that it was a really good story for it to get best americans short stories. So there are things that you don’t like about it. But it’s not objectively bad and she said no it is bad. She said my opinion matters. And I and I find that very interesting because I do think we’ve moved that way as a culture where everybody’s opinion has equal weight and it’s like well yeah I mean you get to say whether or not you like a thing you know and as a reader. Yeah, absolutely read the thing that you like and if you don’t like a book. Yeah, you don’t like it. But you don’t necessarily get to say this is what the book does ah because that is your subjective opinion and what happened with Jennifer is that apparently she tried to explain. That readers had misinterpreted some things about the book which Megan says yeah they misinterpreted but it’s it’s a balance right? because as I mentioned yesterday readers take in a book and make it their own. We all read things to our subjective lens. And I’ve talked about numerous times on here about going back and rereading books. Ah you know thirty years later and reading it in a totally different way because I bring a totally different set of experiences to the story than I did when I read it when I was younger. So this is something that really happens. Um, do readers read things wrong probably I mean there are times when people bring their own experiences to something and so they say well this is bad and it’s like well it’s not bad. And and and we can go to the other end of the spectrum on this because you guys have heard me rant before you know like um, Stephen King said that Stephenie Meyer was a bad writer you know and and people talk about like twilight being badly written and it’s like no no, no. People don’t read 5-800 pages of a book that is badly written. It may not fit a particular aesthetic that you have but that doesn’t mean it’s bad so cliff hangers. 1 thing that and I get this all the time too. People will say that a story ends that my stories end in cliffhangers and the thing is is if you are writing a series you are going to have open ended threads at the end of the book and.

Different readers have varying tolerances for how open endeded that ending is so let’s talk about what a cliffhanger actually is a cliffhanger is a deliberate device that was developed in serials I think from like melodramas. Where it was literally. The story would end with a person hanging off of a cliff. Okay, you know like we have the whole joke about um, you don’t like those old melodramas where the heroin is tied up on the railroad tracks and here comes the train lone game jones there is a song. Um, and they would end with the character in grave peril hanging off of a cliff a cliff hangar that is what a cliffhanger means it’s it’s a non ending well readers really throw this around now. That they call anything that doesn’t have every any story that doesn’t sufficiently tie up everything that they want to know by the end of the story. They tend to call a cliff hair and as my assistant Karine will say you know she says I don’t think they know what this word means and it’s like yeah. It’s it’s being misapplied and the thing is is that there are a lot of authors out there doing the serial cliffhanger style approach. It’s being used a whole lot in. Kindle unlimited ecosystem right? I even listened to a class taught by 1 gal who said that she’d built her career off of cliffhans and she said make them the cliffiest of cliffhangers make those cliffhangers sharp. She said those readers will. Write to you and they will bitch at you and then they will read the next book and so she was leveraging that it. It’s a method. It’s a way of doing things hydrop pause to sneeze there. So and I read. 1 of her books and it did end with the hero and heroine in grave peril you know it was like they were surrounded and it looked like they’re going to get killed I can’t remember the specifics but it was something like that and it ended and it’s like that. Is a cliffhanger if you have someone writing a series and you know it’s a series in particular if if a book doesn’t claim to be standalone then you’re going to have dangling threads at the end you are going to have some things that are open-ended.

Even a book that finishes a series or is a standalone may not answer every single question because sometimes there are things that can’t be answered. So. Maybe we’d need a different term I like open-ended. You know we could call it something else, but it’s not a cliffhaner and you know I actually don’t pay much attention to when readers complain that my book ends on a cliff hanger. Maybe I do pay some attention because I it irritates me because I actually don’t do cliffhangers I don’t do the literal definition of a cliffhanger I may have unresolved threads but not cliff hangers. So um. Just thoughts on that you know if you guys don’t if if you guys you know if readers don’t like open-ended endings then then maybe don’t read series. That’s one way to do it. And I know that there are some readers who deliberately look just for standalones. There aren’t a lot of those anymore. That’s true. Although um, dorda and I have been talking about wanting to have cliff hangers or not cliffhanars sorry wanting to have standalones. Just because we do get kind of tired of the cliffhaner accusation and also writing the last book in a series as heart. So it would be nice to skip that. So anyway, I’m going to go write mine. I hope you all have wonderful Friday I hope you have a great weekend and I hope it’s uneventful. Let’s go for uneventful, right? You all take care bye bye.

Detritus Returned

David snapped this pic of me on the Pacific Beach boardwalk. I like how relaxed and happy I look.

And slim. *note to self: wear those black capris ALL THE TIME.

So, remember back in mid-March when we heard that car wreck? I picked up the things the next morning and photographed them. I had a number of conversations with people about it – in the comments, but also on Facebook and Twitter. My friend from college, Felicia, urged me to try to find the gal because of the Prada reading glasses – the thing Felicia herself would have been most sorry to lose.

I tried tracking the name on the receipt. No luck. My Google Fu is usually quite strong, but not in this case. A couple of prolific local tweeters even took it up to no avail. Nothing in the local news about it. So, I called the police non-emergency line.

Yes, the dispatcher acted like I was nuts for asking.

Finally, I managed to convey my non-stalkery desire to simply return this gal’s things (I didn’t mention follow-up articles on this blog – really hard to make that sound non-stalkery.) The dispatcher said she’d give my information to the Sheriff’s Deputy who was on scene and he’d call me.

He finally did, nearly a week later.

He also proceeded to interview me on precisely what my deal was. He asked what things I wanted to return to “the young lady involved.” By this time I’ve managed to glean that she survived. Totally unimpressed by my catalog of her detritus (I could practically hear him thinking “eye-pencil? she thinks this is important??), he finally says he’ll give my information to the young lady and, if she was interested, she’d call me.

Yes, he absolutely made this sound unlikely.

And she didn’t, for a really long time. By now it’s April and I’ve kind of forgotten about it, except that I have a little paper bag of her things in my office. I start to think about what I should do with it if she never calls.

Then, one day my cell rings and it’s her.

She’s young. So young that her thoughts kind of zing from one topic to the next. She tells me they rolled the car three times. When I tell her we called 911 when we heard the sound, she receives this information with wonder, somehow not processing this. When I say it’s a miracle she survived and wasn’t hurt, she says oh yes and how they were going 75 miles per hour. (It’s a 40 mph zone.) I wonder how she knows this, if she was driving, who “they” were, but she’s already flown past the subject. She wants her things, but – oh – she has no car now, cuz – duh – she wrecked hers! She’ll have to talk her dad into giving her a ride. I tell her where my house is. She says she’ll call when she can come by.

Which she doesn’t.

I think about calling her back, to tell her we’ll be gone for a week. I think better of it. If she calls while we’re on vacay, I’ll just have to say so.

She doesn’t.

Then, yesterday afternoon, my cell rings. A female voice says “are you home?”


She hastens to fill the silence, “this is Carrie, the girl who was in the car wreck? I can get a ride to your house to get my things, if you’re home. Only I don’t know where your house is.”

So, I tell her again. Five minutes later, a shiny Honda Element pulls into the driveway. I walk out to the patio with the bag. I nearly bring my camera, but – it just seemed wrong. She’s younger even than I thought. Awkward. Shakes my hand and grabs the bag. Reaches in and grabs the Prada reading glasses case with a triumphant squeal. “This! This is what I really wanted!”

Nod to you, Felicia.

I’d envisioned our conversation when we met. How I’d tell her I wrote about her wreck on the blog and all the nice things people said. I think she might say something more to me, but she just bounces and says good-bye. She runs back to the car, opens the passenger door and brandishes the bag of things, doing this little hip-bobbing dance for her mother. The mother, by her unmoving silhouette, seems unimpressed. I’m kind of surprised she doesn’t get out of the car to meet me.

A moment later, they’re gone.

I’m left today thinking about stories and connections. About non-lethal life lessons and whether this carefree girl has learned anything.

I wonder, too, what I learned.

March TBR Challenge

Okay, I’m back from the memorial for my uncle. The celebration of life was well done and I enjoyed seeing the family. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow.

And thank you for all the wonderful thoughts on the car wreck and those artifacts I picked up. I really appreciated the suggestion from several people that I contact the local police. I’ll do that today and let you all know if I found out anything.

For today though, I really want to get something up for the TBR Challenge 2011.

I totally signed up to participate in the challenge and here it is March already, with me having missed the first two months of the year, somehow. Has anyone seen January or February? They were here a minute ago…

At any rate, Wendy the Super Librarian, who is, not incidentally, also RWA’s Librarian of the Year, is hosting this year’s TBR Challenge. The idea is to pluck something out of your massive To-Be-Read (TBR) pile – yes, we know you have one. Don’t lie – that loosely fits the theme, read it and blog about it on the third Wednesday of the month.

This month’s theme? A new-to-you author.

So, Kate Elliott has been in my TBR pile for a long time. Spirit Gate and King’s Dragon have both languished in the paper pile since before we moved. That’s right – piled up with Eat, Pray, Love, which you all told me to go read to wash the movie from my head. I’ll get to it, okay?

That’s part of the point of this: to get to those books you’ve been meaning to read. KAK and I were just discussing yesterday how much less we read these days. I really want to devote more time to it. Getting on the TBR Challenge track is a great way to do it.

I also have about five pages of books waiting to be read in my Kindle. One of them is Kate’s Cold Magic. Yes – a third unread book of this particular author who everyone and their parrot tells me to read and I keep not getting to.

So, there I was, struggling through the newest book in a series by an author who shall remain unnamed. Suffice to say I used to love love love this series. The last one was meh and this one was so unrewarding that I felt depressed reading it. Halfway through the book, I deleted it from the Kindle.

This is the modern, though less dramatic, version of throwing the book across the room.

I fumed for a bit, thinking it’s me. I’ve lost my attention span. As one book blogger puts it, I lost my reading mojo. Maybe I just hate everything?

And, recalling the TBR challenge and that Kate Elliott is technically new to me, I opened Cold Magic.

Angels sang. Unicorns – yes, they were still dancing from before – capered madly.

You guys: This Is A Really Good Book.

I confess I’m only about 25% in. But immediately I felt in the hands of a master storyteller. I’m sinking into this world with the gratitude of a starving cat falling into a vat of tuna. It feels like forever since I couldn’t wait to get back to a book. It’s like discovering love all over again.

I would say more, but I have to finish my work so I can go read!


Saturday night, we heard a sound.

Both deeply asleep, David and I jumped upright at the sound out our window. Though we live in a rural area, there’s a paved two-lane road not far away. Given the way the houses are laid out, the road curves past, not really all that far from our bedroom window. We can’t see it, because it drops below a rise, and usually we can’t hear it.

But Saturday night, we heard the screech of tires, then a crash. A huge crash, like an enormous bubble popping. Suddenly and fully awake, I knew someone had rolled their car. I dashed for my cell phone to call 911. David grabbed the binoculars, to try to see. We have no streetlights either, so it wasn’t easy. I looked at my clock – 12:37, because I’d set it ahead for daylight savings time when we went to sleep. We’d been asleep maybe an hour.

I feel like I was fuzzy, telling the 911 operator. By the sound I knew it was bad. She said they’d send someone to check it out. David could see a car dome light and people walking around. With my glasses, the binoculars wouldn’t focus right, so I stopped trying to see. We debated putting on our clothes and walking the half-mile to see. But what could we do?

In the morning, I suggested that we walk over, to see what we could put together. We found the tire tracks going off the asphalt onto the soft dirt, right where the road curves from the straightaway. Dirt and weeds sprayed across the nearby walking path. Pieces of car were strewn about. Strips of shatter-proof glass, bits of bumper and so forth. We found another set of deep-dug tracks, where the tow-truck had pulled the car out.

And I found her things. It looked like stuff from her purse. The Lancome eye pencils, the eye-shadow brush and compact. A pair of dirt-encrusted sunglasses and Prada reading glasses, still in their case. A receipt for jewelry – from last April – and a lens-cleaning kit from Santa Fe Optical. Thirty cents in change. I picked it all up, while David waited on the walking trail with Zip, keeping him away from the broken glass. Then I started to pile it up, thinking she might come looking for what she’d missed, in shock and in the dark of night. But she might be in the hospital. Or dead. And kids would pick it up, keep it and not care.

So, now I have these things of hers. Along with a name on the nearly year-old receipt. She’s not listed in the phone book. I’d like to find her, if I could. I’ve worried about her all day. Was she hurt? Maybe she’s okay, just rattled by her near-miss. Pissed that the car was totaled.

David said he dreamed all night about cars crashing. He thinks someone died.

I just remember that sound. The screech and pop.

I put her things in a bag, just in case.