First Cup of Coffee – April 12, 2022




transcript
00:00.60
jeffekennedy
Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:13.85
jeffekennedy
Ah, excellent today is Tuesday April Twelfth for 122022 and it’s um, I’m looking at my thermometer. And it’s actually showing 51° out there which means I could be going outside I don’t know why I’m like not moving out to the grape arbor. The the wind is cold I think that’s part of it. Ah, but there we are.

00:48.55
jeffekennedy
Ah so um, update on the ah laptop screen Watermark I’m sure you’re all on tenterhooks to know. But I think it’s decreasing ah if I wanted to risk it I would trace an outline. That would be the scientific thing to do but trace an outline so I could see if the borders are actually moving but I’m not willing to risk it because I don’t want to mess up my touchsc screenen so I’m just excuse me. But. Don’t know what that was a little bit of frogginess. But um yeah it’s um I think it’s I think it’s different today I think it’s the borders are receding and I think there’s more open patches in the middle. So. Cross our fingers that maybe I didn’t fuck it up forever if you don’t know what I’m talking about you have to listen to yesterday’s podcast and get the whole story of Jeffe’s carelessness although this is it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been so I’m telling my blessings. Actually today is a counting blessings kind of day. It feels like a good day. Um, saw bobcat this morning young female. Do these bobcats have this sense to them that they seem to me like they’re smiling. You know she comes. I saw her as I was lifting weights, saw her out the bedroom window and called David and we watched her come around and she drank from the fountain and and she glances up now and then and kind of has this look on her face like it’s a great world. It’s a beautiful morning I swear she’s smiling at guys. And um I was ah dancing around to Taylor Swift’s I Think He Knows really love that song. There are a lot of songs on lover that I really like and I almost feel like we like lover kind of got a little bit lost in the wash. Maybe that’s just me. But um, what year did that come out 2018? Yeah, that’s why it was 2019 August of 2019 so we only got to enjoy enjoy it for I mean I guess it was a good six months before pandemic kicked in but I don’t know it seems like a lot of that stuff that happened at the end of Twenty Nineteen kind of got um, kind of smooged out like that’s totally a word and I’m not even gonna fix it on the transcript by what came immediately after and the.

03:34.36
jeffekennedy
Stress and trials of that I’ve been going through the programming stuff for SFWA’s nebula conference and there are a lot of panel suggestions on creating well being under stress. It’s like. I wonder why this topic is on people’s minds ha and I won’t go into another rant on Brandon Sanderson but seeing how many writers wonderful writers out. There are suggesting. Topics like that just reinforces for me that someone being flip about making a joke about people not being able to create during the pandemic is just that much more annoying.

04:26.50
jeffekennedy
And if you don’t know what I’m talking about you would have to go find that podcast because I’m not going to renew my rant I have other things to rant about. Thank you? Ah, but no I’m feeling good today I’m dancing around seeing the bobcats feeling pretty good. Um, feeling like I’ve a lot to do. But theoretically it’s doable. Theoretically um, let’s see so oh I wanted to talk a little bit more I even made notes sticky notes. Yeah, to collect my thoughts collecting um I need like one of those waynes world moments blue do pu it’s not a flashback. It’s me collecting my thoughts. So. I talked quite a bit yesterday about um about the Jack Williamson lectureship and how much fun it was one of the things that I don’t think I really touched on I sort of did tangentially. But I wanted to come back to it to talk about what makes panels at conferences. Really fun for for the participants for the writers I think that it’s um, there is something indescribably wonderful. About being able to have conversations with other writers in a way that we don’t on our own so this is something for all of you readers or aspiring writers out there for when you go to conferences and you feel like. You you don’t want to ask the stupid question you know and people always excuse it. You know they’re like oh well can I ask a stupid question and and I really do strongly believe there’s no such thing as a stupid question I think that’s just people being snotty who say that there are. Because how do you get your question answered unless you ask it and and yes I have known people who are like you should go out and do the research yourself and they totally make that face and they use that voice. You should go out and do the research yourself and. Discover the answer to the question my idrate which like do you even know how they found out they like happened to stumble upon it. We did get a question at 1 of the panels somebody asking us about research and what was our you know did we prefer to ask people or.

07:12.96
jeffekennedy
You know Google or look stuff up and I was totally on the side of I want to ask people because you know until we get better ai the human brain is able to drill down to answer exactly the thing that you want and dorendda was talking about. Um. Doing research for her sunshine books and you know like talking to sheriffs and they would say well this is how it would go down and she’s like yeah yeah, yeah, but I can’t have it go down that way because it won’t work with the story I want it to do this How can how can I make it do this and still be kind of close to real life That’s what you need people for um, asking questions of other people is a wonderful way to get information and especially when you have the opportunity to ask other creators or ask authors you admire or what have you. To answer a question that you might have you know that’s wonderful and and it prompts us to think about things in ways that we don’t normally think about you forget what people don’t know first of all and. The conversations that we have just listening to how other writers answer the same question is I don’t even know I don’t have the words. Ah, it’s um, transcendent is that too strong of a word. It’s just really so stimulating and it refills the well and it just makes me feel good and there I so I’m just gonna come down on this full stop. You guys doing a panel in a room full of. Living breathing human beings with other living breathing human beings is just a thousand times better than the online panels. Um, and I know I’ve complained about this before but you know doing those online panels. Where you’re just looking at the other panelists and you don’t have any sense of the audience at all, you can’t see who’s asking questions. You don’t have that that energy in the room. It’s a real thing you guys if we have learned nothing else from this whole Zoomtastrophe there I Coined the word. It’s probably a terrible word. It won’t last stop trying to make fetch happen if we learned to anything from this whole Zoomtastrophe. It’s that that Zoom interaction doesn’t um replace human interaction.

09:57.41
jeffekennedy
So I just wanted to emphasize that how great it is if you were putting together a conference if you’re attending a conference being on a panel with other writers who have interesting things to say is um is the best. it’s awesome and it’s it’s always been. From the very beginning of my writing career. 1 of my favorite things and it continues to be 1 of my favorite things. There is something about that about that conversation about having observing how other people make things happen. That is endlessly fascinating David and I have been watching. Let me get the exact title. So it’s called winning time the rise of the lakers dynasty and I will link to it in the show notes. It’s on Hbo Max which is I think funny. It’s like the only Hbo there is now but like they had Hbo and then they added Hbo Max and I don’t know if I was like not the only one who was really pissed that they wanted me to pay for 2 channels but they merged them so it’s called Hbo Max now but it’s um, Hbo right so it’s um a series on Hbo Max sorry I already told you that and it’s ah about. Exactly what the title says it takes place in like starting in 79 I think with the purchase of the lakequors by a businessman I’d never heard of but who used to live in Kemmerer Wyoming of all places um, played by John C Riley who’s amazing Jason Segel is in it and it’s about how they sort of I so much stuff I didn’t know even though I lived through this era about like that and Mba best ball was not bringing in the money. It wasn’t popular. They I don’t know if I can even discre. You know they’re talking about Magic Johnson’s in it and Kareem Abdul Jabbar and they’re just talking about how they transformed this money pit into a moneymaking enterprise. And the creativity that went into it and I think that’s the kind of thing. It’s a good show for us because David likes basketball stuff. It’s very witty. That’s really cleverly done a lot of good people working on it like Jonah Hill

12:46.25
jeffekennedy
Say I could tell you like some of the John C Riley well he’s a star store I knows gent Jonah Hill Adam Mckay is like 1 of the directors some of these other names I don’t know people more savvy than I might. But it’s um, they’re they’re delving into the racism of the era in really interesting entertaining ways the development of I didn’t realize that the lakers were the one to create the whole. Um. The lakers girls the the sexy dancing girls as cheerleaders. it’s it’s just fabulous you guys and it’s I think endlessly inspiring to see how people do things how people created things and overcome things. And that comes back to listening to people talk on the panels and talk about one of my favorite questions to ask other authors is to talk about a time when they had to reinvent themselves because everybody has had it. It’s a treasure rich question because. Every single creator out there has had to reinvent andvent themselves and reinvent their career at some point and hearing what happened and why they had to do it. It’s um, really just ah so enriching stimulating. But. So this is I’m I’m sort of bouncing all over the place this morning dancing right? I won’t sing tempting though. It may be 1 of the gals I got to know at the lectureship is. Mary Ayala who is the Dean of arts and sciences at Eastern New Mexico University and she sat right by us at dinner that first night and she is um you know like my age Darynda’s age and. Super smart I mean obviously she has to be in order to be dean of a college and we just had a lot of fun talking and then the next day I saw her and she she stopped. We were walking from like 1 building to another and she was coming towards us and she stopped. Was walking with Dorinda and she stopped us and she said I just wanted to tell you guys how much fun I had talking to you last night. She said it was just like a breath of fresh air I think this is how we all felt that was just like we could finally take in some fresh air and talk to people. We didn’t already know.

15:30.64
jeffekennedy
In person. Ah and she was just she said I just feel so I woke up this morning just feeling tons lighter and feeling excited about things again and she even decided at that point she had been headed somewhere else. And she said you know what? I’m just gonna run this errand later I’m gonna come sit with you guys and talk some more It’s just delightful. So I know I’m sort of going in circles here. But I think we can’t underestimate the the stimulation that that kind of thing provides us and what. We can learn from other people and from what they’ve struggled to create and do so and I know I had another oh I also finished watching last night severance you guys been watching severance this is on Apple um. So yeah, it’s on Apple Tv and if you um, if you couldn’t watch Ted Lasso mother then you can’t watch this but I don’t know that you and would like it anyway, it’s dark. It’s very dark and unsettling. In fact, we watched I don’t know 1 or 2 episodes and David bailed on it because he said this is kind of depressing. He’s more sensitive to depressing stuff these days and I was like yeah it is kind of depressing but it was also fucking fascinating. It’s Adam Scott and directed by Ben Stiller of all people then Ben Stiller who is like coming back to dark in his old age David was telling me that Ben Stiller when he was in like film school. Ah. Got kicked out of class for writing a screenplay that the professor said was so unsettling that they wouldn’t show it to anyone so now like maybe he’s sort of coming into his own. This is also cool, right? You know where people are in their careers and you kind of get to that fucket point of your career sorry I should have like warned people that this is the 4 letter. Word episode but it’s on Rand here at first cup of coffee right? You reach this point in your career where you just want to do the stuff you want to do and and and you don’t care if anybody else thinks that you should be doing it or wanting you to go back to doing zoolander or whatever. Ah. So severance. The premise is that people have a chip embedded in their brains that divides their memory so that when they’re out living their lives. They don’t know what their work is.

18:15.30
jeffekennedy
And then when they go to work they ride in an elevator and this circuit they make it be like little sounds which they then use to really good effect later for disconnects with reality. But then it clicks out and it blocks out all their memories of who they are outside that place. And they are only awake and alert in their office world so that it’s it’s the ultimate work life separation right? and which is how it’s built. But then it’s it’s creepy because the people who live inside the office building. Who only have their lives as workers they that’s all they have right? They don’t know anything else and this affects them profoundly and so the the final episode of the first season came out last week and i. Wasn’t able to watch it because I was out of town but I watched it last night and David was cooking dinner and we sort of have that open plan open to the kitchen there at the pass crew and he was like why do they keep playing that really ominous creepy music. And I’m like because there are ominous and fucking creepy things happening. Um I was I did not expect the revelations in that final episode I knew that there were going to be questions answered and i. Of course not all not all completely answered. There is a season 2 but you know there’s a lot of times with shows like this where they set out with this premise that creates a lot of mystery and paradox and you really want to know the answers. And then by the end they fail to satisfy that it’s like they. They’re really good at setting up the question but not so good at the answer and this final episode was just amazing. Ah yeah, so we could talk about severance. So let’s see. Um I think I’ll call that good I’m thinking about setting up a Discord channel for conversations where we can have like spoiler conversations about books and stuff maybe through a Patreon or something let me know what you think about that and let’s see. Will talk to you all I’m flying out of town on Thursday but not till later in the morning. So yeah I think I’ll talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

One Cure for Writer’s Block

Jackson 7_7_13Jackson will take treats from my hand like this. He puts his paws on me to steady himself, then plucks the shrimp, or ham, or turkey, or salmon, or beef, or really any kind of meat at all, with his teeth. I’ve never had a cat that would do like this before.

David says I was talking in my sleep a lot last night. That should come as no surprise, since I’m getting heavily back into drafting this novel. The big fantasy novels seem to do it to me much more than the shorter, erotic romance works. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe because it’s more complex storytelling. Maybe because I’m constructing an entire world along with the story itself.

At any rate, it makes me aware of how much my mind works on this kind of thing. I also find I begrudge distractions more. It’s like I already have so many conversations going on in my head that I can’t bear to listen to any new ones. At times like this I understand the writers who lock themselves away in a cabin for a few weeks or a month, to focus only on the book. I try to keep my life as normal as possible, evenly moving along, but sometimes I envy that model.

Quiet is just so crucial.

A few weeks ago, I flew to Ohio to meet up with some CPs and go to a conference. It was a fairly long flight there – about 3 hours – and I happily found a window seat to ensconce myself in. I exchanged hello’s with the gal on the aisle and set about staging my supplies for the flight. I knew the week ahead would be busy enough that I wouldn’t get tons of writing work done and I hoped for some solid writing time during the flight. As the plane filled, another gal took the middle seat. She and the woman on the aisle kept going after the initial greetings. And going. And going.

I even tweeted, before they shut the plane doors, that I really hoped they wouldn’t talk the entire flight.

They did.

Non-stop.

Some helpful Tweeters predicted this and suggested I go for ear buds early. Fortunately I could. I plugged in the music, opened my laptop and worked away. Every now and again – like when I removed my ear buds to talk to the flight attendant about what lovely drink she could bring me – I became aware that the conversation continued apace.

No, I have no idea what they found to talk about for that long.

But they had gone from total strangers to BFFs within minutes. At the end of the flight, once they stood, they reverted to strangers, as airline passengers do. We all wait, sitting, standing, half-stooped because the overhead bins are in the way, not making eye contact, pretending we aren’t Hugely Impatient to get off the stinking plane already. They went their separate ways without another word.

The new found connection was apparently just to pass the time.

I notice that, the deeper into creating I am, the less I want to talk. It’s like I have energy for the one thing or the other. I think that’s worth exploring. I rarely have good advice when people ask me about solving writer’s block or increasing productivity or enhancing creativity, but there’s something.

Try talking less.

It might feel weird at first. Maybe lonely. Maybe TOO quiet. But I do believe that, once you create that silence in your mind, other things will come to fill it.

Ideas.

Images.

Stories and characters and worlds.

Shh…

Hear that?

Tweets for the Sweet

So, I caved.

I’m doing the Twitter thing.

I know, I know — all of you out there are either scoffing that I’m late to the game or stubbornly reaffirming in your heads that you are NOT going to do it.

That always seems to be my place in the pack. I’m never the first kid on the block to have the new thing. But neither am I the one who holds out forever.

I’m a third wave kind of gal, apparently.

So far it’s pretty fun, now that I’m getting the rhythm of it. It’s a bit lonelier than Facebook, because people don’t seem to respond as much. My tweets go out into the world, often to vaporize to indifference. Or passing interest. Hard to tell which.

And this could be just be me. After all, I’m not that fascinating.

I did get a bit of response to my tweeted pic above. (So pleased I figured out how to do it!) But as mediocre as my camera photos are, my Blackberry camera ones are apparently worse. I kept this one small, to minimize the fuzziness. Are there workshops on taking good camera phone pics??

At any rate, this was part of my Connecticut series of tweets. I’m thinking of them like paintings. Or a serial story. On the way in I tweeted about the really need video-poster ads that scatter like rose petals when you wave your hands at it, then coalesce again. On my return flight, however, I was on a different airline, American, which is apparently low dog enough to be relegated to the “B” terminal in Hartford. As in “B” movie.
All the shops and restaurants outside of security were closed, temporarily or permanently — and this at 4:30 in the afternoon. Security was a wasteland, with this very odd Gorey-style guy who held out his hand for my boarding pass at the magnetic arch, never looked at it, but gave me the hairy eyeball and didn’t step back for me to pass. I half expected him to grope me as I sidled past him.
The above pic shows my one option for sustenance. Not pretty. The couple of people who replied to my tweet enthusiastically endorsed sticking to a wine-only meal.
It was fun to have the conversation about it. Which is what this is all about: exchange. Even if it’s about airport trauma.
However, many people, I’ve noticed, are more interested in sending than receiving. Another symptom of our culture, that people seem to want to talk more than they want to listen.
I have one writer-friend who started Twitter quite a while ago. And started a blog, to build an audience for her new book. I supported her by “following” her blog. And by commenting on her tweets that went to Facebook.
I can’t help but notice that she hasn’t returned the favor.
I try not to let it bother me, but I do notice. And I really notice which authors respond to my responses to their tweets. Who is interested in engaging with me and who, it feels like, holds me as beneath their notice.
It colors how I feel. One author who replies to me? I just bought five of her books to catch up on the series. Another who has never once acknowledged me? I’m losing enthusiasm.
A professor from college once told me that I was an unusual student because I took information and gave back interesting things from it. I was surprised that he told me a lot of students don’t do this. To me, it’s a crucial part of engaging with the world.
No one can read everything that’s out there. Respond to everything. I firmly believe in the meritocracy of all these forms of communication: say interesting things and you’ll be deserving of listeners.
But do be sure to let people know that you’re listening.