First Cup of Coffee – June 14, 2024

More cats-will-happen-drama in my life. Also, traditional publishing, why an agent is such a great asset, and how it never gets easier handing edits and critique, and how deciding how/if to incorporate suggestions is a spectrum.

First Cup of Coffee – August 7, 2023

My bizarre story about mistaken identity and the revelation it gave me on how we talk to each other and – most importantly – how writers communicate with agents. Also, highly recommend the Willamette Writers Conference!

First Cup of Coffee – February 7, 2023

How to write a synopsis – or, at least, fake it the way the pros do! Great news on BANDITS and next steps there. Also, why agents/editors ask for partials, why you should include your profession in your query, and other crazy checks.

First Cup of Coffee – May 3, 2022

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy. I am here with my first cup of coffee. Ah, how that’s needed today is Tuesday may third and I’m running behind I’m just totally behind Today. It’s almost nine here. Ah I think I was um more stressed out than I realized about my folks car accident that happened on Sunday I talked about it some on the podcast yesterday but they’re both home now. My stepdad had to spend the night in the hospital and ah. But he did not require surgery on his arm. He has to get it checked out again in a couple of weeks so I think they’re fine I have not heard yet from my mother this morning I’m assuming she’s still asleep and then um David had some problems with his medication last night. So he had to wake me up and have me help him with that and so it took me a little while to go back to sleep again. So I just slept this morning I didn’t get up until like six thirty so why is it already almost nine I don’t know I’m also moving slowly actually I don’t think I got up till 7 now. That’s true I didn’t get up till seven so I’m still moving slowly I did my weightlifting I did my stuff writing sucked yesterday I did not get much done. I tried I did my 3 hours it was not very good. But um, my friend Kelly Robson said thought she was it was interesting. What she said I’m gonna see if I can bring up her exact words. Let’s take. We’ll see if the computer lets me.

Might take forever for the she said she said that I wasn’t emotionally available for fiction. She said for writers like us who are all about emotion. She said. That she could totally write like wine reviews on the day her father died but she couldn’t write fiction and I think that’s interesting. Do we think that’s true I don’t disagree with her. It just doesn’t feel that way to me, but certainly i. Had very little writing I could do yesterday I’m also feeling um, a bit at a loss on how to get to the end of this book I’ve got about 25000 words to go I know what it’s going to be more. Maybe I don’t I feel like I don’t quite have all the threads in my grasp but I may start at the beginning. Yeah excuse me I thought I was gonna sneeze again. But I didn’t sorry, didn’t i. Pause and time for that first one. So yeah I’m thinking about going back to the beginning and starting my the revision. Um I’m wondering if I know enough about the end to do that. Those of you who have listened to me for a long time will probably identify the stage at which I am it’s the act 2 climax um, and yeah, but now that I think about it and I hear you guys out there nodding along. This probably is my standard act 2 climax crisis and I do need to go back to the beginning when I couldn’t get much done yesterday I did go back and like start searching for my square brackets and looking up some things so that I could at least be semiproductive and I went. Back through? Um, my kindle notes on the prequl novella and put those into a ah word document and I’m gonna do that for the other books too. So that I can try to order my thoughts and then maybe I will start the revision today. Um, that’s probably the thing to do I’m noticing this grapevine. That’s ah crawled up on top of the lilock I need to train that to come back on over to the actual arbor.

I had to move over to the side because I’m so late and the sun was really shining on my usual chair can see see very sunny once the arbor finishes leafing out that won’t be such a problem but it’s still. Still baby leaves this one to see for those you on video see just like little bits of leaves. It’s my hanging plant that I po it myself. So um, yeah. Try to get back into it. It sounds like my mom won’t need me to come to Tucson so we’ll see we’ll see how that goes. Um, it’s a very beautiful morning here and the lilacs really. Blooming so I’m going to cut some eye locks and put those in my office and yeah, I’m clearly muzzy headed. So let’s see. Um. I left my note inside but I know what I wanted to talk about. Um I mentioned yesterday that we’ve also been watching Julia about Julia Child and I’m very much enjoying the show. Actually we’re both really enjoying it. Um, which is always good thing but it’s about when. Julia Child first started her Tv show and how she went about doing that and it was um, it’s it’s really well done in that the gal that they’ve got playing Julia child and I can’t think of her now her name now. I should look it up though all right? So her name is Sarah Lancashire and she’s a british actress 2 years older than I am and she’s a tall gal I don’t know she’s as stout as Julia or if she’s wearing um you know padding and so forth. But they’re not trying to make her be other than some of the things that made Julia child so I don’t know I want to say endearing iconic that she was um, you know. She was awkward. She was not a graceful person. So I’m thinking of other people who played Julia Child is it um did Meryl Streep play her in that one anyway. Ah sarahrakisher does a great job because she does the funny voice and people were Mark on.

Her funny way of speaking and she is not beautiful and she is not graceful but she has also managed to perfectly transmit. The um, what people loved about Julia Child her warmth of personality. And how she did not take herself seriously and and at the same time that she had this ability to be completely. She was the velvet steamroller right? She she stood up for herself and stood up for what she wanted to do. Which wasn’t easy and she um she I want to say that she like very gently gets her way. She believed so utterly in what she was doing and this episode that we watched the other night. Which let me see if I can go back and tell you which episode we’re on. We’re almost done which is sad. It’s been one of those slow drip releases. Um, it was episode 7 fog ra and I think. Yeah there’s just 8 so Thursday’s going to be the last episode alas, ah but it was really great because she goes to New York city along with other people who work on her show and she you know. Gives the speech as she does gives this wonderful speech and several things happen. Um, where it’s almost like a romancing the stone theme through this movie in that or this series in that. Um. Some people are completely disdainful of what she’s doing you know a cooking show on public television. Nobody watches public television then there are the people who think that public television should only be about things that are erudite and deep. Ah her editor who ah you know that sort of that her her primary editor is great but then there’s the gal who’ is the head of Knopf who ah you know published Julia’s cookbook um the gal who is the head of Knopf doesn’t own a television. Um. And thinks that television is is a fad that will go away and that only books are permanent. It’s it’s interesting to see the interplay of sort of these changes in thinking about stuff and but everybody’s just kind of

astounded that all of these housewives are watching this cooking show and making the food and they go to lutes in New York City the publisher takes Julia and her editor out to lunch at Lutece. And I and I have to do a little aside here because I I even paused and told David that um you know every once while I have as a writer like this kind of jealousy where it’s like well I never had the head of the publishing house take me out to Lyn at Lutes in New York or the equivalent. Don’t even know if flutes is still there but you know times have changed obviously. But also I have never been high dollar enough. But then I thought well at the same time. However I have had my 2 different editors take me out for lunch. 2 different occasions and take me out for dinner. Um I’ve had no 3 editors so a couple editors different editors have taken me out for dinner at conferences or different places and my agent has taken me out for lunch and dinner and. You know? So it’s sort of like it’s not quite on the glam scale. But then I have to be really thankful and count my blessings for what I have had which has been pretty wonderful and and the yes it is incredibly shiny I remember in 2019 and the before times I was at. Um Rw a national conference in New York City and that was when my editor at St Martin’s did take me out for lunch at a very decidedly low g glam place but she was a young editor and that was you what she she could afford and I still. You know, appreciated it and it was lovely and my agent went to and we all got treated um and that was um and my excuse me my publicist went to this was all, um, right before the release of the orchi throne and we were all super excited about it. But. Feels like kind of an innocent age ago I think the orchid throne did fine. It just didn’t do as well as maybe as they hoped and then we had such big plans for the follow up for the fiery crown and that was may of 2020 you know so it was kind of um. As far as paper books go kind of a big fizzle. Alas, but at the time we were very excited and when I got to New York city I you know flew in kind of midday and then I went to meet agent Sarah that evening for drinks and walked the.

You know like 10 blocks to her office from the hotel and it was um, it was very shiny and I thought here I am walking through New York city to go have drinks and dinner with my agent in New York city and it was it was awesome um and to continue the aside there has been a ah an article going around by ah Christine Katherine Rush on why you should hire an ip attorney instead of an agent and she makes you know as she does. She’s good at writing stuff up. And she makes compelling arguments for why? an ip attorney can be really useful to negotiate a contract for you and how they have more credentials than an agent does. And yeah. Now if you’re looking for a 1 ne-off negotiation then you probably are better off hiring a lawyer and her argument is is why would you? you know bulk at paying a little bit of money upfront to pay a lawyer and or maybe more than a little bit as opposed to paying 15% in perpetuity to to some agent who doesn’t even have all these qualifications and if that’s your lens sure. Um, and I I don’t want to I don’t know if I’ll go into it later this week if you guys really want to hear me talk about it. You know where to find me ping me about it. But um, the she these kinds of and I’m going to call it well I won’t call it I won’t use that word. Um, but that particular angle and I have seen. Other people passing it around self-pubishing authors who are on the virulent end of the spectrum of this is you know tread publishing is evil agents are evil and I’m not saying that’s rush’s perspective but the other people who are sharing it. You know that this is why you should. White agents are evil and why you should never have an agent and it’s um, it’s ignoring the very real things that agents can do for you besides taking you out for drinks and dinner. Um, and if you guys want me to talk about that I will. But I won’t do it today because this is already a long parenthetical back to Julia um, she’s at the french restaurant and the french the chef the head shop of of lutes comes to her and knows who she is.

And and this is sort of the romancing the stone aspect to it is the surprising people who know exactly who she is and the chef says um that they have all of these people coming in who have watched the show and requesting particularly dishes that she’s cooked on the show wanting to have them at Lutece. And even things like sweetbreads and but then you know it. So it’s lovely and delightful. But then he follows up and this is ever so slightly spoiler spoilery so cover your ears if you want to know nothing but he then advises her to leave the cooking to the men and that is. Cooking is you know french cooking is is not for women which is ironic but then the the show finishes up towards the end. Um Betty Friedan is at the big press dinner for the public television awards. And she and Julia start talking and Julia in her very earnest, warm and welcoming way invites Betty to ah to talk because it betty has seen the show and betty launches into a diatribe that. She is um that Julia is setting back the cause of the women’s movement that she is encouraging women to be behind the hot stove more instead of going out to the world and it’s such a. It’s well done. It’s such a crushing moment because we know because and Julia says to Betty for then you don’t know me at all and and it’s true and we who have followed Julia’s journey do know her and we know how very hard she has fought in a very feminist way. To make this show happen in this very male dominatated world and her producer is a young black woman who has also been fighting by her side and it’s like Betty Friedan just like totally doesn’t get it because she’s hung up on the cooking aspect and. The other thing that she doesn’t understand is just because this is a traditionally female activity of cooking dinner and that it’s these housewives who are doing it that it’s about mastering something. It’s about the sheer delight of. Being able to master a skill and have it go right and wrong and I’ve I’ve talked on here many times about throwing knives and that analogy of learning as you try to learn to do something to enjoy the failures equally as well as the successes.

To enjoy when you don’t stick the target as much as when you do which is a very taoist perspective and it’s not easy to learn but Julia child really had that in her show because sometimes when you cook things don’t turn out sometimes it just doesn’t bread doesn’t rise or the sauce doesn’t thicken correctly and she had a real talent for ah enjoying it anyway where she’d be like oh well that didn’t happen and. And there was there’s a great lesson in that and so it was um, you know it’s just interesting the thing that things that people grab a hold of you know and proclaim as being worthwhile and not and serving the cause and not. So yeah I I mentioned that I’ve been listening to poetry and a new to me poem that I don’t recall the name of sorry in the sequence that Tom Hiddleston was reading I’ll leave the link up and it was um. It was very sad. It was about um, ah, a man the poet catching I think it was a male but catching a hedgehog in the mower. It might have been called the mower and and he finishes up you know and it’s about how how he’s caused this this small death. And he finishes up by saying something along the lines of you know that we should all be a little bit kinder to each other and I’m I’m thinking of that now with Betty for then you know it’s like we could all stand to be kinder to each other. And on that note I am going to go get to work see if I can make this more productive day than yesterday I hope you all are being productive in the ways that you want to be and I will talk to you all on Thursday bye bye.

A Few of My Favorite Contractors

This week at the SFF Seven we’re talking about Contractor Best Practices. And already CharissaJames, and KAK have posted great articles about communication and clear expectations. I whole-heartedly ditto everything they said.

So, instead of reiterating, I thought I’d share my own favorite contractors. It’s a great opportunity to give them a shout-out. One of the best parts of being an author who self-publishes is that you become the source of work for other people. I love that I, by creating words, am a font which then flows money out to the people who do work for me. They are vital parts of my business and I’d hate to be without them.

These days, after years of honing my practices, they’re a pretty lean team.

My Assistant

First and foremost, my amazing assistant is the fabulous Carien Ubink, aka book blogger Sullivan McPig. Whenever someone asks what my assistant does for me, I reel off the list and then – for about half an hour afterward – I’m adding “Oh, and she also does this!” We’ve been working together for years now. (She could tell you how many, which is one of the things she does for me.) She’s the best.

My Cover Artist

While I occasionally use other cover artists, my go-to and favorite is Ravven. She’s done the majority of my covers and I hope will do many, many more. She has an uncanny ability to take my inadequate descriptions and hand me back a gorgeous cover that exceeds my imagination. She’s timely, helpful, goes the extra mile. No one else comes close to her in talent, skill, and clean business practices.

My Proofreader

Crystal Watanabe at Pikko’s House handles all of my editorial. She’s super fast, thorough, and a delight to work with. She also operates a business that offers the gamut of editorial services. I highly recommend checking out Pikko’s House.

My Formatter

Yes, I farm out my formatting – largely because my formatter, Paul at BB eBooks, is so fantastic. He accommodates my sometimes screechingly tight turnaround times, always doing a stellar job, and with a great attitude. There’s nobody I trust more to get the job done right.

Nitpicking: When Editing Goes Horribly Wrong

I’m sending a shoutout to my bestie Grace Draven this week, celebrating the long-anticipated release of THE IPPOS KING on Tuesday, October 6, 2020. I read an early copy and this book is amazing and wonderful and totally worth the wait. (I know her website still says September, but it really comes out Tuesday!) (Also, Grace might be a dear friend, but she became my friend because I read and loved her books. So, I’m biased, but in the best possible way. This is really is a wonderful book!)

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is  Nitpicking – venting about things or thinking about the value of attention to detail.

I want to tell you all a story about proofreading gone horribly wrong.