First Cup of Coffee – June 21, 2024

Finally, the cover reveal for RELUCTANT WIZARD, along with the preorder links!! Also, some updates on Darynda Jones and her surgery, and thoughts on the six-figure book deal discourse and why traditional publishing isn’t the enemy.

Living the Dream

I used this photo (Thanks to Craig Chrissinger for taking it!) a couple of weeks ago, but it’s too appropriate for this week’s topic to pass up using it again. Our topic at the SFF Seven is our fantasy dinner party. We’re asking which SFF authors and characters you’d invite to a soiree.

The thing is, one of the best perks of being an author is getting to make other authors be your friends. So my fantasy dinner parties have mostly happened! Case in point: above I’m having dinner with Martha Wells, Darynda Jones, and Kelly Robson. Yes, it was a great conversation. I feel so blessed and fortunate that I pretty much get to have my fantasy dinner parties on a regular basis now.

Last week I got to have dinner with Amanda Bouchet, Maria V. Snyder, Jennifer Estep, H.R. Moore, and Maria Vale. On another evening, I sat between Juliette Cross and Chloe C. Peñaranda, later joined by Carissa Broadbent.

The one person I have yet to meet in person – and hopefully have dinner with! – is Neil Gaiman. But I do have his cell phone number and have chatted with him on the phone, which gives me all kinds of happiness right there. Since it’s a fantasy, Anne McCaffrey, Tanith Lee, and Vonda McIntyre could all come back from the dead and join us.

My younger self would be thrilled.


You’re Not Alone: Writing with Others

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: writing partners and accountabilibuddies. Those people we don’t write with, as in we’re not collaborating, but the people we write alongside. Simultaneously or not. In tandem. In company.

See, the thing is, writing is by nature a solitary activity. Unless you’re collaborating with someone, writing comes down to the writer and the words. For many writers, however – it’s certainly true for me – that silence and uninterrupted time to concentrate on story flow is key to getting the stories written. It can be isolating, even lonely.

But, it doesn’t have to be! There are lots of ways to foster a sense of camaraderie without violating the fortress of solitude we need to be focused. I often co-work with Darynda Jones, for example. We “meet” on Zoom, minimize the screen and mute for one-hour sprints. Then we break, chat, compare progress and angst, then go again. It’s a great way to work together, while being separately in our writing studios, 200 miles apart.

I’m also super gratified to see writers gathering in the #laying-bricks channel of my mentoring and coaching Discord, Jeffe’s Closet. People asked for a place to post that they’re settling in to write, to enjoy the community and positive accountability of other people doing the same. The “laying bricks” aspect refers to one of my favorite analogies for writing novels: that it’s a process of laying bricks, day after day, patiently progressing. I love popping in and seeing everyone getting their words on for the day.

We’re not alone.

First Cup of Coffee – April 14, 2023

A special guest on the show today! Multi-bestselling author Darynda Jones and I discuss ideas, how to know which ones are good and have staying power, and how to continue to grow as writers.

First Cup of Coffee – February 10, 2023

The challenges of building a secondary fantasy world while still keeping the pace moving along. Also, the plum blossom rule and how it applies to people always finding something to critique in your work.

First Cup of Coffee – February 6, 2023

About the evolution of recognizing oneself as a writer, claiming the name, and other steps newbies can take to move from the furtive phase of writing to feeling confident in that skin. Also, it’s FaRoFeb!

First Cup of Coffee – December 6, 2022

Celebrating the release today of WINGS UNFURLED by Rebecca Gomez Farrell and A HARD DAY FOR A HANGOVER by Miss Darynda Jones! Otherwise I’m talking about being gentle with ourselves and what that means.

First Cup of Coffee – April 11, 2022

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

But it’s so good today is Monday April something Eleventh April Eleventh and I’m back home. Glad that you all liked the podcast with Darynda last week. Um. She is adorable isn’ said she even if she wouldn’t do the chime dingling. So. It’s funny. Ah I opened up my laptop because I have to have it open to do the video portion of this podcast and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my screen. Looked like maybe there was light shining on it funny but there’s not light shining on it funny and it almost looks like 1 of those old photographs like where you get damage around the edges and so it’s like bright in the middle and then there’s like a little halo around it and then dark at the edges. And I’m like what the fuck is wrong with my screen and then I remember how quickly we forget so on Saturday when I was down in Portales at the Jack Williamson lectureship Saturday morning we did the workshop creative writing workshop. So Connie Willis led it guest of honor Walter John Williams assisted and then they had the rest of us guest authors. Um, what essentially being the peanut gallery in China me chiming in and it was really fun because I’m asked originally I’m like is this something. We’re supposed to go to and they’re like well we would really appreciate it if you would and this is a terrific event because they they paid all my expenses and you guys know how I feel about this if you’ve been listening for a long time. They did it perfectly. Um, they paid for my hotel. They picked up all my meals. And it was um, you treated me with respect even though you know I wasn’t as important as some of the other authors they ah acted like I was and that’s amazing anyway. So we did this creative writing workshop. And we finished up oh like round twelve twelve thirty and Connie Willis said well we’re all going to go out to lunch and so do you want to come I’m like yes, even though I wasn’t hungry because. David Sweeten, Professor Sweeten who is um, the one running the lectureship now down in portalis at it’s at Eastern New Mexico University He had big colachi homemade colaches where he had like set the dough to rise overnight and and.

Dear reader I had to so hungry I was unbelievably hungry and I had not had coffee. Um, so at this point for lunch I was not hungry. This did not stop me from eating lunch. But I yeah so. Somehow so like despite the inadvisability of this thing you know so I’m I’m walking around at the lecture ship. You know for a couple of days and I have my pink Fluevog laptop bag that I love very much which is basically just a tote bag here. I’ll show you so see. It’s um, if if you’re not on video sorry you get the same description. It’s pink leather. It’s got some embossing of flowers in the Fluevog style and the best thing about this is that the rope handles go all the way underneath the bag. So at the bottom doesn’t tear out and I thought this quite some years ago five years ago when I was in Denver at the store. Um, because I wanted something that would work better to carry my laptop that I could also put on my shit in when I’m like at conferences. So I also had my wonderful thermis thing which is in the kitchen I won’t go get it that David gave me um for Christmas maybe doesn’t matter. That’s a coffee thing and a water thing and it’s really great because he did research. It’s big. It’s really tough I’ve already dented it still tough and it’s got this is the first time I’d used it just for water and it’s got this screw on top with them. Oh I don’t know what you would call it like a really flexible thingy that goes around the straw. So I can if I tip it over it does it spell. However, this does not mean that water will not leak out so I had you could see where we’re going so I had that in the laptop bag upright you know and I would stick it in there with my laptop and my other things. And really it worked fine. It was not a problem and when I first did I thought oh it was this stupid. You know it’s like you know how you do that? You’re like will I regret this but no, it was fine except when we went to lunch I had put my laptop bag behind the. Seat of the car with my partially open bottle of wine I made sure that didn’t spill but when I came out from lunch somehow probably when I was driving the thermos thing. Yeah I know you’re all country had tipped over and there was like standing water in the bag of my wonder bottom of my wonderful.

Waterproof leather bag. Ah, let’s why I was like oh fuck I’ve ruin in my laptop right? So I spend a few minutes taking everything out drying things off dupping out the water. Ah. And I set the laptop up on end in the backseat of the car to dry out and just in case you know and I was just like sort of like sending a prayer to the tech gods that it would um, be okay that it would not be ruined due to my moment of carelessness. You know. Kick yourself like fuck. So I did not turn it on because that’s one of the tricks right? You know it’s like you have to resist turning it on until it dries out completely. So I you know brought it inside I said we have the radiant. Key to in the floors which will be turning off soon. It’s warming up. You know what? I’m still not outside yet though it’s um, it’s 48 I could probably start. It’s always rougher I don’t know for some reason I haven’t wanted to this spring have I so. Didn’t turn on my laptop until I Don know like noon yesterday because I thought okay won I give it a good 24 hours and so I turned it on and did the cross fingers and prayers and I had it hooked up to my big monitor and it came on. Came on just fine and so I thought hooray hooray but I did not open the laptop to see the screen until this morning when clearly I had already forgotten about the the incident so I have a touch screen on this. Which I’ll be kind of bummed if that stops working but it might be just because I had it closed up and now it will drive further the shape of the halo is changing. So maybe it’ll maybe it was just like um humidity. I don’t know I could have screwed this up heavy sigh and so um, that was a lot of talking about my laptop. I don’t have much else to report I did get some words done while I was gone I didn’t get tons but I did after the podcast with we could turn on some of these all right to turn on my progress count. So I could see what I did.

I mean at least I kept it moving forward which was my main goal on Thursday before I left I did get my 2000 words that morning Friday actually before I went to dorndda’s I was awake girly in the hotel room of course and so I got um, 440 words before I went recorded the podcast and then after that we didn’t have a whole lot of time before we had to go to the first event and then on Saturday morning I got another 543 words I don’t typically work on Saturdays but you know I was trying to do a little catch up there. So um, it’s funny looking back and forth between the 2 screens which you know I I do I probably shouldn’t but I could see things so much better on the big screen. But. I look at the little screen and there’s this whole weird watermark patina I mean literally a watermark right? and then on the big screen. It’s clear and it’s like oh but wait. So um, it was really fun. It was super fun being at the lectureship. Um I had met Connie Willis a few times before I had attended a reading of hers forever ago when I lived in Laramie she came up for that and um, she was just phenomenal. She was just delightful. To be with um I just I can’t speak highly enough you know and I talk about this sometimes about the difference. Yeah, like some I don’t want to say older. Although you know. Sometimes it can be an age thing but authors who are farther along in their careers. You know more advanced in their careers than than you are have can be very different in how they treat the younger writers I’m putting that near quotes. Um you know and. Writers are people right? People are people and people will people. Um you know and some writers who are like guest of honor at something like that. Um Connie was being master of ceremonies I think and she was longtime friends with. Jack Williams said the science fiction writer who got his bachelors and masters at Eastern New Mexico University and who was a professor there for a very long time and she would go every year for the lectureship and now that he has passed on she still goes and she was really happy. They’ve missed. It.

In person part for the last two years of course so this was the first time back in person and everybody wish just so happy to be back together in person but Connie it was just incredibly generous. She really made a point of being kind not just to me but like. To another guest writer who only has ah has a couple of books so far and was not sitting in the very front row peanut gallery for the creative writing workshop but he was sitting more towards the back being a little more retiring and he had said to me they felt like he didn’t have as much to say as some of the authors which that can be a thing when you’re. Newby and Connie would really make a point of saying do you have something out you know and what do you think about this? Ah, she’s it. It takes a real generosity of spirit to be that good to writers and and she was. Kind to me in ways that I particularly noticed when I was talking about like some of the stuff with romance and she took a moment to explain how you know like the genres are about romance and you know she was saying you guys have to understand that for a long time. Science fiction. Was like near the bottom they weren’t nearly as good as literary fiction and then they found out they could look down on fantasy and then fantasy and science fiction both figured out that they could look down on the graphic novelist the comics writer she said until all of a sudden probably Neil Gaman’s fault. It did. Graphic novels ascended and and went out much higher. But then they figured out. Oh they could look down on romance. Um, it’s just really good to have somebody who is being warm and supportive and welcoming that way. As opposed to those who look down their noses and try to make sure that you know that you’re not nearly as good as they are and never will be which you know happens there certainly writers I’ve encountered like that. Um, in fact, it’s funny. I’m trying to decide if I should say this I’m gonna pause while I think about should I say this? Yeah I don’t think it’s gonna hurt anything for me to say this because I’m not gonna give details. But there’s 1 writer who like from the beginning of my career when we were first like at on panels together on that kind of thing. Was terribly unkind to me I mean nasty to me on Panels silence me silencing me on Panels um, someone much much more advanced in their career than I am to the point where like people were coming up to me after the panels say what is their beef with you be like I do not know if this person like.

Hated me on site. Well when I was looking at being president now Madam president ah looking at the list of people that could be named Grandmaster I saw this person’s name on the list and I thought ha. Won’t be naming you grandmaster anytime soon or ever ever you know, maybe a different president would but it was to me both a moment of probably ah, what’s the word I want unflattering. It’s not my finest moment people. Ah but i. Did feel a nice little moment of vicious glee over that like can’t stop you being mean to me but and then it’s also I thought stow this memory away Jeffe because it’s really important to remember. Um. That the newbie writers that you may sneer at today. Not that I would snare I try very hard not to but you know you never know who who they’re going to be in 1 year or 10 years or 20 years and maybe someday that person will be the 1 looking at your name on the list and deciding whether or not you should have a career achievement award. Um, it’s worth keeping in mind right? You know they they say that you should be careful of being kind to those that you meet on the way up because you’ll meet them again on the way back down. I think that implies a certain linearity that does not exist because it’s more like all of us are bouncing up and down and up and down. But um, yeah, Connie was just fabulous and she even took a moment to say to everyone that I have liked the worst job in the world being president of SFWA and that everyone should. Appreciate that and the other things she did that and I told this to David and he didn’t think I was quite. It was quite so funny but she has the quickest wit she is just tremendously witty and she had back surgery last year she was she’s your age mom. Ah, and born in Denver born in Denver and 1945 and she had back surgery so she has one of those walkers. You know she doesn’t have to use it all the time but she has it with her and then it has like 1 of those seats in it so that you could turn around and sit on it and so we were all done. On um Friday evening with all of the panels and walking out and we were you know I was coming out with my little group and I saw Connie sitting there on her little walker chair at the edge of the parking lot because her husband had gone on to get the car. You know to say for more of a walk but I yelled out abandoned in the parking lot.

And she looked at me and she goes seduced and abandoned in the parking lot!and I don’t know it. It really made me laugh and it was just um, it just felt like such a warm and delightful community. We just had um. I had a fabulous time I hope everyone had a fabulous time. Yeah, so I think I’ll leave it there. Um I need to kind of get back on my stick this week and I have finished reading through. The Sorceress Queen and the Pirate Rogue gosh I love that book I perfectly enjoyed that book the scene on the carriage is so freaking hot. Maybe I shouldn’t say that about something that I wrote but I really enjoyed it and I’ve started in on Dragons Daughter and. Good news is is I have little sticky notes things about that I’m understanding about Rhyian and Salena so getting it all figured out I hope so on that note I’m going to sign off I hope you all have a wonderful Monday that it kicks off the week will and I will talk to you al tomorrow. Take care bye-bye.