First Cup of Coffee – June 3, 2022

Thoughts on leaving readers with an emotionally satisfying ending, regardless of whether it makes perfect sense plot-wise, along with a story about buying wedding flowers and celebrating with joy.




Transcript
00:01.12
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:26.00
jeffekennedy
Delicious. Today is oh say it with me Friday ah June Third my friend’s wedding weekend. For something that started as um, basically we’re going to run to the justice of the piece we’ve ended up making this into quite the party and it’s been awesome. It’s ah been really super fun. I’m really glad that Charlie and Megan decided to do the party in a way that. Included all of us and lets us just do something purely fun.

02:08.48
jeffekennedy
Ah, hummingbird is busy. It’s kind of a little breezy morning here in Santa Fe but it’s supposed to be really beautiful today. Just a little tumultuous here it as the sun comes up but warm enough to be outside without sleeves. so so yeah um yesterday was a good day I felt like I was behind all day. Um I had went to writer breakfast coffee brunch and. That was fun. Um, you know, but still it just sets my morning back and I have to try to be let go of that because I do feel like the social interaction with friends is important right? And then I went to trader joe’s and bought the flowers for the wedding and I think I told the story on here before it that I was like I want to do the flowers for the wedding. It worked out great going to trader joe’s it turned out that they were turning over their flowers on thursday morning. My mom commented that her trader joes doesn’t seem to have as um, big a flower section. Ours is quite extensive and I was there. It’s right by the front doors and I was there um filling my cart. And it was. It was really funny because this was one of the best parts because very often going to trader joe’s is not a happy experience as far as the other people are concerned. It’s it’s a happy experience for buying what we want to get. And for the you know prices in general but people tend to be really stressed there like no and I don’t know why the parking lot tends to be like a rage fest I don’t know why so this was. Pure joy. Um, people were just commenting one person after another and people were like oh look how beautiful the flowers are and then they’d be like and look at you look at you with this card full of flowers and I said yes. My friend is getting married this weekend and they’re like that’s such a good idea to do it this way and um, it was just um, seeing how happy it make people. It made me think of the movie Bed of roses which I love this movie.

07:46.34
jeffekennedy
Where he talks about Christian Slater talks about after his wife died why he goes into the floral business because and I’m I’m gonna have to paraphrase but he he has this wonderful thing where he talks about you know that there’s something about delivering flowers to people that it’s out like. Best moments in their lives or the worst moments. But either way their faces when they take the flowers and he takes her who is a very wounded person along with him and she gets to experience that same delight. And and I could see it yesterday in people’s faces when they they looked there was this one older lady who um, you know said can I get to those and I said oh yes, you know pulling my laden card out of the way and I’m like just yell at me if I’m in your way and she goes. Ah. It was funny. Um, so and even in the parking lot I have my cart out there. You know and I’ll throw the photo on the show notes you laden with all of these colorful flowers and this. Lady and her daughter pull up. You know they’re they’re passing behind you know, like in the lane and she stops and they have the windows rolled down and she goes those flowers are so beautiful and I said for the upteeth time you know my friend is getting married this weekend and she’s like oh that’s so wonderful and so then i. Stepped pictures of the cart and texted Megan and said do you want to see the flowers or do you want to be surprised and she didn’t reply right away cause she was at work and as I’m driving home I get the text from her and. Saying I want to see and then she adds I hope I didn’t miss my window by not responding right away and I was like now of course I took the pictures anyway and sent them to her. Um, and she said um, it’s just so much. Joy. Um, and it is you know a joyful thing get married 2nd wedding for both of them and um, yeah, that’s really cool. So um. Yeah, so then I brought them home and realized I had a little bit of a problem I’d been thinking about it like where am I going to put them and then I had a stroke of genius and put them in the washing machine. Ah I tried doing like the pre-soak thing but it wouldn’t.

13:19.72
jeffekennedy
Fill I think I had to have stuff in there already. So then I just filled the the bucket that David uses to refill the fish tank did a couple of runs of that and filled up the washing machine and it it held I’m curious to see I’m going to look this morning and see if the water’s still standing in it I think it will hold until I drain it. So I just had all of the bouquets in there and then some in the bucket and I don’t maybe I’d gone overboard in acquiring but the armloads of flowers and it was funny because I’d had a specific budget mind but I didn’t count. As I was loading up the flowers I kind of just went with proportions of you know oh I want these I want these I want these and then I had to grab a couple of grocery things too. So I did that and I came out like $10 over budget I thought well that was amazing. So then I had to get to actual work and work on the book and I ended up adding like 2700 words yesterday and made it almost all the way through the second of the 4 epilogues, two to go you people Ah oh well. Yeah. It is what it is so ah, we’ll see how far I get today I would love it if I could get the last 2 epilogues today. Maybe they’ll be shorter second one was longer is what it is. And I still have to add the last few lines because I wasn’t by the time I finished yesterday. It was like almost 3 finished my 3 hours and I went longer I went like 15 minutes longer Dorinda signed off and I said um I’m going to stick with it and see if I can get these last few sentences and it ended up being more than a few sentences. And then I wasn’t sure if it was right I wasn’t quite hearing hearing the words. so I stopped if so I’ll see how it looks this morning and so then I did not go to in-person yoga. Because it was too tight of a turnaround and I thought I need to deal with these flowers and I wanted I really wanted to get them all arranged and into vasas so that and I’d gotten out I borrowed some some from Megan just like 4 and then it turns out you guys I have a lot of vases. But. So I had all my vases lined out and I thought well if I end up with not enough faces at least doing this tonight I can return any of the ones I don’t use to water and then go run to Michael’s or something tomorrow and get the.

19:01.38
jeffekennedy
Get some more vases or Tuesday morning. So I spread out I put a sheet on the rug. Well David and I ate dinner first but that’s we don’t you don’t need the blow by blow. Even though I’m giving it to you and we did ended up eating a fairly early dinner and. Then I spread the sheet out on the carpet in the living room and I just started and I got out a big garbage bag you know because they’re all wrapped in cellophane. So you know tookck off the cellophane took off the elastic and laid them out and bunches by type of flower and color and dan i. Started doing the arranging and I had 1 really big face that I had to like solve an engineering problem for um because the flowers looked too. Short in them. You know, like even the really tall lilies like barely stuck over the top of it I solved my engineering problem and I felt very clever for that as well and got my other bouquets all arranged and it ended up coming out just fine. So. Yeah, they are um, they’re beautiful. Beautiful I’m very happy with them. So this afternoon I need to text the homeowners of where the wedding is going to take place and see when I can drop those off I’m going to try to go take those flowers this afternoon. And couple other little tasks little errands and then um, yeah, and then party at their house tonight and I got out of all of my SFWA meetings for tomorrow. So I can go hang out at the pool. With with people and I may end up working on this book more first thing in the morning. Yeah because I would really love to dive into revising on Monday I haven’t revised those final pages yet. So.

23:28.66
jeffekennedy
So now that’s that’s my story and I’m sticking to it I did up. Um I put a lot of it on Instagram stories I made a real I need to like make a story too. But I kind of did some of that this morning and. Also slept long because I think I stayed up a little late so I’m running a bit behind but I’m on top of things I feel like I’ve got plenty of time to work on the book today and do the other things for the wedding and just have a really fun party weekend.

24:48.32
jeffekennedy
Yeah, so dont know do I have anything else to say At writer coffee yesterday they were telling me an interesting story because I was saying that on this book that my concern is is that I’ve not stuck the ending the way that I want to and Jim Sorenson was talking about um because he’s like involved in transformers and gi Joe and so he hands up going to. Different conferences than I do but he so I can’t remember the writer but it’s like one of the ones I think who did incredible hulk and he said he was talking about how at the end of one of them. That’s sorry about this where I won’t get my specifics. Jim could tell you but anyway ah I guess Bruce I remember it was incredible Hulk Bruce banner goes running after the train at the end she she gets on the train and then heing goes running after the train and trying to stop her but the train pulls away. And all dejected. He turns around and goes back and she’s standing there on the train platform and they embrace and it’s all good and he says that audiences love this ending. Love love love this ending. It’s like the huge emotional punch reward ending and it’s like what a. Best received endings he’s ever done and he hates it. He hates this ending because he says it actually makes no plot sense whatsoever and he wrestled with this ending because he’s like if she’d already gotten on the train. How did she know to get back off the train again and how did she get off the train when the train’s already been moving that she’s back on the platform. None of this matters to the audience because the audiences love the emotional reward of the ending and so that was what Jim was saying to me is like you know you’re doing these epilogues and you’re doing this big emotional reward for the ending. He said nobody’s going to mind whether or not, you’re ending of like the the resolution of the plot actually makes any sense. So ah yeah I thought to. Um, was probably what I needed to hear.

29:48.52
jeffekennedy
I know that um from inside the writer brain that we can belabor things quite a bit more than the readers will and then readers end up belaboring things that make no sense to us that they focus on. So yeah, it’s a good. Exercise in zen and I do agree. This is one thing that I have learned over the course of writing books and seeing which ones work is that once I got really good at real. Really good. I feel vain saying that but I feel like I’ve gotten much better at it anyway of delivering that emotionally satisfying ending that it it makes all the difference because it’s what you leave the reader with in the end. It’s that feeling that they close the book with. So so yeah, it’s really the opposite of the cliffhanger ending right? because the cliffhanger ending isn’t actual ending. It’s a moving straight into the next story. Yeah, so it’s um, it’s useful to think in those terms and of course you can’t please everyone all the time I saw a review of one of my books yesterday where somebody said that they wished that there had been more resolution at the end or you know that I had tied up more of the events and like and I couldn’t there was too much I’m sorry you wish that um you know if wishes were horses sometimes sometimes you’ve got a. Decide where you’re going to stop the book. You know I could have stopped it earlier that that’s you know one way or the other. But when you’re writing a series that’s in a continuous arc. It’s not always possible to tie up that full you you can put in that scene with that. Um, emotional resolution but sometimes it’s not enough for everybody if not all the questions are tied up so but but this is tying up the four book series and in some ways the whole. Whole series right? you know and that’s why it’s been fun to touch back to that original Twelve kingdoms trilogy in these scenes kind of bridging the generations I’m really enjoying that. Yeah, so.

35:18.26
jeffekennedy
You know I mentioned and and quite a few of you replied back to me with aghast faces that this might be the end of the 12 kingdoms and uncharted realms world. Yeah I don’t know maybe maybe not. Right now I don’t have clear ideas of what I would write next. It could be that I’ll write like little novellas here and there it could be that I’ll get some idea that will connect it. Um I remember 1 reviewer. It was really funny in reviewing the forgotten empire’s trilogy said it was set in the same world as. 12 kingdoms and uncharted realms and I was like um, no, no, not not even close. In fact I went to some effort to make them distinct worlds. But for those of you have been reading along with Heirs of magic ah you will will. You know there’s the altar realms and so there’s this thing that you know like maybe the world can connect I don’t know we’ll see. Um, yeah, so all right I’m gonna go get to work see if I can get this uploaded in time to ah. Concentrate on these epilogues but I hope you all have a wonderful weekend I hope that it is joyful in any way that you can make it joyful and I will talk to you all on Monday you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – May 31, 2022

The lone female story construction and how creators default to it – and how we can combat it. Also the digging-bodies-out-of-the-rubble dramatic beat, final reveals, and biological drives to physical aggression.




Transcript
00:00.10
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:27.20
jeffekennedy
Ah, very good today is Tuesday May 31st – year’s flying by I think so take the summer’s gonna fly by too as in. Days of yore um, ah seems like I have a lot of stuff planned for the summer already.

01:27.70
jeffekennedy
So um I was thinking as I sat down that I wonder what I have to think about or talk about or anything this morning.

01:56.86
jeffekennedy
Ah, um, yeah, so I got through the the major beat of digging bodies out of the rubble which um Darynda agrees is an appropriate dramatic beat. And now I’m doing final final reveal which I’m not entirely sure what it is still fuck my life there. That’s something in my eye. Don’t know what it was.

03:12.40
jeffekennedy
So I’m at um, 94000 words on storm princess ah, and yeah, self to do this final scene then my four epilogues. So. It’s going to be longer than 98000 words unless I want my epilogues to be only a thousand words each which I just think isn’t going to happen but but there’s time. So um, yesterday I got almost 3K words twentysixhundred something. So maybe I’ll get that today.

04:58.34
jeffekennedy
Well well I don’t have a lot in my head this one. I was thinking about um, just trope I almost feel like I want another word for it. It’s like a ah this thing in my eyes still bugging me. All right? We’ll see if that works So I don’t know. Is it a cliche. It’s It’s like a default construction a default construction that I see. Some authors fall into.

06:41.48
jeffekennedy
That and and it’s something I’ve been playing about before and and I think that we just get so programmed to accept this that it becomes like a a knee jerk storytelling. Crutch default construction I would call it cliche because it is a little bit but I feel like this goes beyond that anyway. I should say what I’m talking about ah I think that um. It’s this thing where you have one female character where you have like a group of men and one female character and you know we just see it come up all the time and I think we’re so used to it that we don’t think about it. But. Book that I’m currently reading and this series that I’m I’ve been loving I mean it’s been a great reread. It’s weird I Some of these books I think I read half of them and not anymore or either though I stop paying attention Mom I’m. I am getting into the part of the series when I fell off of the series and I’m because I know I’m having to buy the books and and I’m glomming it I mean that’s it’s been Great. It’s been great getting through the stressful times and um, I’m. Learning a lot from how she does things like fight scenes she has so many more fight scenes than I do and she does them in different ways. So So that’s been good I mean there are so many things I like but she has a real tendency to have a sole female character. And all the rest are men and every once’s while like she’ll drag in kicking and screaming another female and she’ll be there a little while and then disappear again. And it’s funny because you know obviously it’s some sort of paranormal right? because that’s the normal thing that I read paranormal thing I read Ha Ha far. So It’s not like the. Standard reasons for not having female characters or more female characters matter because we’re talking about you know, like ourmortal beings with superpowers so you could as easily have an equal number. Why not even just an equal number.

12:06.90
jeffekennedy
Ah, males and females. But no, she has way way more male characters.

12:25.60
jeffekennedy
Sorry got distracted watching the hummingbird and it’s we we got to quit doing this guys. Ah, um, yeah, we just need to have. More female characters and books and I I think some of this comes from well. Okay, so I’m gonna do some broad generalizations here when men write it I think it’s because it’s easier to give distinct characteristics for them to male characters. So you know there’s like the brainy guy and there’s the suave guy and there’s the big beefy guy. Um I rewatched guardians of the galaxy last night. Great show. Great show. Um I love how that movie is done I see new clever jokes in it. Every time I watch it I’m sort of resuming my Marvel rewatch I’d fallen off of it for a while in in winter soldier. There are things I really like about winter soldier. But I don’t love that movie I’m not sure why maybe some of you can tell me why? um. I kind of get bored part way through it and so that’s what happened I’d like gotten an hour into it and then I had stopped watching it for some reason then then didn’t go back so I finished it and I was like this is fine I don’t know why I got bored I mean there. There’s some you know great bits I love the. Captain America black widow inter play. Um and spsttion stan does a great job as with their soldier I don’t know I don’t know what is about that would be anyway. I finally made it through that and watch did my re watch of guardians of the galaxy. But. That’s a classic example and yeah I know you know they’re like reaching back to the old Marvel um, not necessarily doing any gender swapping which they probably could have but your your main team of guardians of the galaxy right? is you have? um. Star lord right? and Peter Quill who is a distinct character right? He he’s probably 1 of the most rounded characters of the group so you have star lord Peter Quill then you have the talking Raccoon genetic experiment then you have groot that who is the tree like being um and both of them seem distinctly. Male. Ah, even though there’s no reason they’re both voiced by male voice actors anyway and they’re.

18:08.36
jeffekennedy
Given male characteristics which you know like why does the tree have to have a gender ah and then you have Gomorrah who is the green skinned woman and then you have I can’t think of his name. It doesn’t help. For you guys to shout it at me because I cannot hear you um you know who I mean big beefy guy right? Who is very literal. So so there’s like our character types right? and Gomorrah is the female. And I know I’ve talked about this before but it just starts to drive me crazy how often I see it and you know it’s even um, you know and and so some of this comes from all of these stories that we’ve been reading all our lives and. I think that we default to that so that’s one reason and then I think like in female driven stuff when female writers are writing for maybe for female readers too that there’s the you know, not like other girls thing. That this is how you make your female character stand out and be special if there are no other female characters around which is just irritating.

21:04.22
jeffekennedy
Now so it’s interesting at a polycon um coming up at the end of July one of my travel things there I filled out my form for the panels for that and. One of them is about female friendships and stuff. So I I hope that’ll um, be interesting to hear that panel I know that more and more readers are asking for that. You know for books that are about the female solidarity. Um. You know, a lot of times when there are other female characters in the books. The ones that are there are a source of jealousy or competition. Um, yeah, or they’re evil. So which is okay I mean everywhere why I see someone saying oh well, we shouldn’t have any female villains because well for reasons I I don’t even understand all the reasons people think that it’s like misogynistic and I almost like it’s more egalitarian right? you know women are as capable of evil as men right. We can be just as terrible hey I don’t not quite an argument a debate with my friend Jim last week at writer coffee because I was talking about. We were talking about war and gender we were talking about the the shootings and I said that I thought that young men tended to be biologically driven to be more aggressive that young women. Have you know all the hormones and the energy and so forth, but it tends to channel in a different direction than physical aggression and he he said that he didn’t was it sure he agreed that you know he said well do you really think that biology drives our behavior that much and I said. Yeah I do I I think it’s a combination. You know the nature and nurture debate. But yeah, and and the thing is is that he is a very gentle man and he is not a physically aggressive person in any way. But you know I was like. You know there’s a reason why they have military academies for boys and not so much for girls you know sure girls get into trouble and girls act out and do shit and there’s like girls schools and stuff. But it’s not that military structure and I don’t know maybe that’s.

26:47.22
jeffekennedy
Ah, programming thing too. Maybe maybe girls are just so relentlessly programmed to be nice that we don’t get into physical aggression. But I’m not sure I believe it I think that there’s certain. Do think that our biology drives us to certain extent that we have to remember that we are more than our bodies that we are also intellectual and spiritual beings. But you know those hormones and that biological drive. That’s why I was saying to Jim I said you know that. Drive to be heard bull I think is responsible for a whole lot of stuff and you know garner as many females as you can and rule the other bachelor males I’ve just known too many guys like that.

28:37.52
jeffekennedy
Well so so anyway I I feel like this is something we we really need to deliberately work on as um I I have no problem with having female villains. But I think that there should be. Strong female relationships that are not competitive and not jealous and that I would just love to see new books being written. We won’t worry about the old books but going back and adding in or making it be just a ah balance you know and. I know a lot of people are working on that having you know more diverse characters having characters that are you know and maybe of no gender or binary. Um, or I’m sorry, not binary I cannot talk. Non-binary and b what’s wrong with me today I was I was trying I was trying to say bisexual that was it nonbinary bisexual too. Enbys I got hung up. Um, but yeah, that’s I think that. Doesn’t grote later isn’t baby group turn out to be like genderless or female or something I have to see on the rewatch. So anyway, it’s just working against that story cho. Um, and I know I’ve talked about it before but. I’m not going to stop talking about it until you guys fix it. But so um, yeah I don’t think I have much else to say um I’ve ah kind of got this this swelling in my brain. Ah. Figuring out what this final reveal is going to be yeah and then so the question is do I go back and do my revision before the epilogues or do I write that blogs I think I’ll just see how I feel. All right? Well instead of that babbling about nothing I think I’ll go get to work and I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday short week in the us if you had yesterday off and yeah, gonna be fun week for me. Building up so I will talk to you all? Oh on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – May 30, 2022

On balance, dealing with Parkinson’s disease and problematic food additives. Also thoughts on being an intuitive writer and ways of discovering the answers to mysteries in my stories – or not!




Transcript
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:30.20
jeffekennedy
I’m laughing because I said it wrong didn’t I epic fantasy romance I can’t ever decide what I write. Ah today is Monday may Thirtieth Memorial day here in the Us. Ah, a lot of people asked me if I was taking today off but I took last Monday off I mean granted, it was like a mental health day but um, no, not taking today off almost done with this freaking book. You guys. So yeah I um. Made it through the climactic battle scene. Um, at the I wanted to say at the end the climatic battle scene that happens at the end the culmination of the four book series. Um. Yeah, on Friday and I can’t remember how many I think I just did like my 2000 words. Yeah I did like 2055 I’m at 91.5 k so I have a little. Little bit more to do to tie it up digging bodies out of the rubble as it were that should absolutely be a beat I should do my own set of beat sheets. Now I shouldn’t have said that because now you guys are going to say yeah that be great. We want that who knows if I’ll ever do that and I’m such an intuitive writer that I don’t really think in those terms but I I guess I do know that this is my digging bodies out of the rubble phase. And then my epilogues so somewhere none words to go maybe I could finish those today and tomorrow certainly by Wednesday and finish this revision and then the out loud proofing.

04:50.82
jeffekennedy
Now. So so yeah, big big denouement as it were but I’m feeling pretty good about it. There is one mystery I haven’t solved. Oops and and I was not going to do it because I thought oh well do we have to have an answer to this and then when I was talking about coming close to finishing I was working with Darynda online and she goes oh I can’t wait to find out x I was like well shit. Guess I need to answer x I don’t really know what the answer is and see for me the way I write the den one of the real downsides of being an intuitive writer is that I can’t just pick a thing and have that be it. Um. I ah I have to discover it. It’s it’s like that. There’s an actual answer out there. There’s a truth out there I want to believe but I have to find it I can’t just assign it a thing. I know that probably sounds silly since it’s my book. But it’s the way it is. Yellow jacket coming into the hummingbird feeder. There. Not a honey bee honey bees would be welcome. Not yellow jackets it went and away again then it was foiled. If you didn’t know this if you have hummingbirds and you have Hummingbird feeders one way to foil the ants and the yellow jackets is to put vaseline like on the landing surfaces. You know you’d like. Don’t put on the holes but you put on the other landing surfaces and the crawling surfaces and. It repels those unwelcome invaders happy home tips here at first cup of coffee.

09:07.82
jeffekennedy
So so yeah, um, oh oh I was gonna say about that discovering the ending. For example, if you haven’t read The Orchid throne cover your ears for a moment because this spoils the ending. Or or leaf I’m sorry I know it’s only 5 minutes into the podcast. But um, but if you have read the or it’s own or if you don’t care about being spoiled last chance I did not know what Lia’s true nature was until the very end. I knew she had a secret that she was hiding but she was hiding it even from me and and ironically enough I was with Darynda at the rwa convention in Denver we drove up together and we roomed together and we got there a couple days early to do like writing retreat. Which was fun and we would like walk over to the public library and sit over there and write and and and I drove her crazy I drove her mad all week because I couldn’t forget how to finish the freaking book. And I was really trying to finish it before the convention started. But um, so she was trying to help me brainstorm what the answers would be I’ve probably told this story before but I think it’s funny because she um. I mean we kept talking about it and talking about it and I was explaining the things and she’s like well could it be It’s this could it be. It’s that could it be this other thing got something my eye there. We go cat here and. Some of them I really wanted to take because they were like some great ideas I was like oh that’s a great idea I should make it be that but I couldn’t just make it be that during this so good at coming up with ideas and then finally finally. I guess this isn’t all that spoilery because I’m not saying what it is finally I realized what it was what her secret was and and I told Doinda I was like thank you so much you you’re amazing I love you. Thank you for coming up with me and she gives you this look and she’s like Jeffe that is not even close to any of the things that I suggested I’m like that bar doesn’t matter.

14:01.78
jeffekennedy
Ah, so um I did have a good weekend I did have a very relaxing weekend. Ah I was very grateful to past Jeffe. Because I realized on Saturday morning that I had made an appointment like a month ago for Sunday morning to go up and get a massage treatment from my favorite therapist up at Ten Thousand Waves and so I went up yesterday morning and did that and it was. Delightful. It was really good. I was really tense was comes a shock to all of you I’m sure. Um, and now I’ve got my ah laundry list of things that I need to do to ah improve my. Flexibility, especially this upper back and my hip flexers he is like I said what they’re really tight and he says you need to do the work to keep them flexible I was like damn it I need to get back into yoga. My favorite yoga teacher has finally opened up a brick and mortar studio again. All of these great. Um I know people get mad if you say post pandemic because pandemic’s still going. But at least it’s um, opening up again, right? What can we call it call it. Um I don’t even know. Um, anyway it and it’s funny I think I told you guys when I got that body scrub like a month ago. Yeah, maybe almost 2 ah, you know she said I took a lot of dead skin off of your arms I’m like I know. Oh. That’s why I needed a body scrub and the the treatment I had yesterday is called a nose to toes and it’s it’s amazing if you’re in Santa Fe and can get up to Ten Thousand Waves which I recommend um, get this nosetoose treatment but it’s exfoliating and. Body work and hot oil nirvana so so he showed me the exfoliating gloves and he said look this is all the dead skin that came off even though because I soaked for an hour first even though your skin was wet was like so my skin is dry. It’s like I feel like. During the pandemic. It’s like I totally fell apart in ways that I didn’t mean to and so but that was wonderful and then I stopped by Megan’s house and got vases.

19:28.10
jeffekennedy
Getting ready to do flowers for the wedding next weekend very much looking forward to those festivities and I got out my spring clothes which I feel like well it is way too late I need to get better about doing that sooner. April felt so busy April of may. Maybe it’s just like having the conference done is making all the difference in the world but it didn’t take me all that long. It just took me a couple of hours um put away my winter clothes get out the spring close but I’ve made myself a reminder to do it at the beginning of April next year because Hello Hummingbird I have all of these really great spring clothes that are made that are springy looking but made for cooler weather and if you’re on video you’ll see I’m wearing my one of my sweaters that I got out. Because it is cool this morning so I’ll still have a chance to wear those things I’m sure that’s why I get for living at high altitude. But I wish I’d gotten them out sooner. So ah I need to. Be more Johnny on the spot with that. Ah, that first year of pandemic it was like I never I didn’t do one of them. It’s like I never got out my winter clothes or something but they noticed a thing so I know like there’s the whole Marie Kondo deal where you’re supposed to get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy. Ah, one of the things I do when I change over my closet is to get rid of stuff that I won’t worn and another rule I heard a long time ago I think my mother told me this one but I don’t know where she got it. It’s like if you haven’t worn anything in a year you should get rid of it um aside for like for you know like special occasion clothes and that doesn’t really work either. But I noticed this time that I do have like ah a mental expiration date. On some of my clothes because I had several things in there that I’ve been keeping for admittedly a very long time I mean a long time people I am not a ah person who gets rid of things easily. And there was this one dress that’s probably at least twenty years old I’m I’m not sure exactly what you’re but I’ve loved love love loved it and I’ve kept it all this time and this time when I got it out I looked at it and I was like ooh I had that instant o response.

24:55.40
jeffekennedy
Like why would I why am I keeping this stress. Um, so I did get rid of a few things like that. So several things that I have loved and kept for a very long time. So I don’t know what what changed there I certainly noticed and I think I’ve mentioned this before that I had a. A lot more warm weather clothes and I have cold weather clothes and I’m not exactly sure why that is although I fixed that this year and then I bought a whole bunch of stuff but I cut out this dress. My little dolphins I desired was a summer dress. So that’s. Now so it was nice. It was really fun to rediscover all of these things. It’s um, the getting out of the summer clothes is you know, not only a space saver thing to you know like put away the stuff that’s not appropriate for the season. But it’s also a rediscovering of the wardrobe because i. Had all these things I was like I forgot I owned this I totally forgot about this thing. So so yeah, that was really really great and I baked a blueberry pie I know one of the things we’re discovering. With David having Parkinson’s is that the neurophysiology because of course parkinson’s is where you’re not making enough of the transmitter you’re not making enough of the dopamine and he has to supplement. With external sources right? That’s the medication but he’s incredibly sensitive to any kind of food additives. Um, which are in just everything like even if you get the organic stuff. It’s like. We don’t even know what it is and you know and interesting in the us they don’t have to list what those things are because it’s considered to be proprietary and if it’s not regulated by the Fda. They can just do it so like colors or flavors that they do to enhance the product. Ah, they have an effect and I’ve heard you know parents of children who are on the spectrum or who have other kinds of it. It does seem to be you know, like neurological stuff that’s affected. You know they have to get really incredibly careful about those kinds of additives you know and I’ve heard you know like there was a whole thing about red dye number 3 being bad but there’s also all of these hidden things that end up making you feel bad and you don’t know why.

30:39.50
jeffekennedy
And when you have somebody who is reliant on a very delicate balance to feel good like David is it just it. It’s become just too much of a risk because it can throw off his medication for days if he gets something wonky so we are. Really try and get good about making everything from scratch at home. Um, which means not eating out so much not so much takeout although if we can get him really solid if we can get him really balanced then we can do some of these things. Um. Because it it but it has to be a single excursion. Our problem is is that we tend to do one excursion and then we go on a rampage so he had got this pie for me. I think I mentioned this before last Sunday when I was eating my feelings and it was a no sugar added pie which I you know because I’m trying not to do added sugars right? and but it had other shit in there and it threw him off for like three days so yes so I’d said you know what I should just. Bake a pie if we really want to have a pie I should bake one. It’s not that difficult actually baking pies is quite easy. So he reminded me about it yesterday afternoon and yeah so I baked a blueberry pie and oh my god you guys. It’s so good. It was delicious and it does have sugar in it. But I figured out. It’s twenty five grams of sugar in a slice of pie and I’m trying to stay below one hundred grams of sugar a day additional sugar. So so actually that was fine and I think I could decrease the sugar I think I could make that recipe with less sugar because it. Blueberries were sweet and yeah, so so yeah, that was great. Um Saturday I did a lot of hanging out and reading and weeding of the garden if you could see it I think it looks a lot better. You might not be able to tell. But. Yeah, got a lot stuff done in the garden and some like light chores done around the house that sort of thing so it was very relaxing weekend. So um, so yeah, I’m it’s nice to be back on a more even keel I very much appreciate all of you sending me nice notes and Megan Ciana Doidge

35:56.74
jeffekennedy
Bought me something at the farmer’s market email task for my mailing address a couple other people have sent me nice things and I I appreciate you guys. It’s it’s good to know that the support is out there. Um. You know I had a number of people invite me to to dump a rant or vent and I didn’t take advantage a whole lot of that mostly because if I didn’t want if I didn’t have to be dealing with stuff if I didn’t want to be thinking about it or if I didn’t have to be. Talking about it not putting this well am I you understand what I mean right? if I didn’t have to be directly dealing with it I didn’t want to think about it is what I am trying to say ah but you all are you all are wonderful I appreciate the the community that I have. Um, yeah, so I’m going to get to work and get this book finished and so on and so forth I hope that you guys all have a wonderful week. Many of you in the us anyway are on holiday today. So I hope it’s full of the holiday ish things that you would like it to be and I will talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye bye. Or goodbye. It doesn’t want to go.

First Cup of Coffee – March 7, 2022




Transcript
00:00.14
jeffekennedy
Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:15.39
jeffekennedy
Ah, that’s good. That’s delicious. It is Monday March seventh if you’re on video you’ll see. It’s kind of cold gray light here. We’re just like in for snow. It’s very spring snow lots of squalls. But young guy lost snow yesterday supposed to get more today. It’s sticking in places but otherwise melting again very springy. Some of you have asked about my chimes and what is. Figure on the chimes and I realize it doesn’t show up. Well if you’re on videos even if you’re on video. So I’m going to show this to you if you can see. Yeah, it’s it’s subtle. It’s um. Was a gift. It’s from Ireland and it is a celtic dog and it sort of turned back on itself wrapped up in different celtic knots. Um and dark brown if you haven’t ever seen the visual on it. It’s um. Made of clay and so oops and now I just my church just came apart my hands. That’s why I get for messing with it out to restring it? Um, maybe I wasn’t supposed to reveal the secret nature of the chimes. Set that there. It’s um, it’s got a nice bit of potent magic for those of who are aware of such things.

02:02.56
jeffekennedy
Ah, all right? So um, busy weekend Saturday was crazy was funny because one gel that I was in a meeting with was ever so slightly testy and she said well. Ah, you know that she was at a conference that she said I am in my fourth meeting of the day and I wanted to say well I’m in my sixth meeting of the day I did not say that but I was. I think that’s one of those things that’s like never assume that other people are like having it so much easier than you do. Even if they are not being testing. Um I was fine. Ah. A lot of good stuff. Got done on Saturday ah sort of the upshot for the whole weekend is I’m like totally caught up on serfo stuff. Um, that was really the big thing and there was a lot to get caught up on I don’t know what happened but I got back. Inbox 0 on all of my email. um I did a lot of that yesterday I was um I sort of did a split I did not have an unpuggged day I have not been able to do that for. Well, it’s moved around because like when I was in Los Angeles I was able to unplug because I was out doing things right? So yesterday morning Sunday morning I was able to um, hang out. It was really nice because I I was not. Feeling great on Saturday I think I got overserved on Friday evening. Although so Friday evening I had drinks and dinner with my friend Megan and a couple of her friends and didn’t. Saturday morning I was just feeling really kind of rough and I was like you know maybe I drank too much wine. You know, like with the with the sixteen eight fasting that I’ve been doing wine is hitting me harder. But then I saw me get again last night because we went to see a movie That’s my big news is that we went to see. Cyrano with Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett in an actual movie theater and that was really fun. That’s the first time I’ve been in a movie theater since I was trying to decide when it was it was like.

04:34.49
jeffekennedy
January of 2020 and I was trying to remember what movie it was so two years since I’d been in a movie theater a little bit more and so that was really great but she mentioned she was not feeling good on Saturday morning. So maybe. Maybe the food wasn’t great. The people. It’s a local place that I’ve always really liked but the owners are selling and you know it’s like so anyway Saturday night I went to bed pretty early and slept a long time I woke up Sunday morning even earlier than I expected to. But um. Everybody was up the the cats were up and wanted fed and David was up and grumpy because the cats had been but bugging him because they were up and wanted fed and mourning is my feeding time so that banished my ideas I was gonna lie in bed and read for a while. But. Thought wow I’d get up and feed the cats. So we got up and fed the cats and then they all went back to bit all 3 of them the cats and David and I made my latte and I made a fire in the fireplace because even though it was it was really pretty when I first woke up because. 1 of the things I love about the cells. One of the many things is that when I wake up I can see out my window and I don’t think the camera’s gonna show this now. It’s just gonna look like a blur of light but I can see this view down the valley I could see the sky from the bed and there were these pink clouds. Being lit up by the Sunrise Cotton candy pink and rose gold and it was just gorgeous and so by the time I finished making my latte and feeding the cats. Ah the clouds had come in and it started snow very heavy snow. So I put a fire in the fireplace. And I sat in my favorite reading chair by the fire and I read Juliette Marillier a which transcript is going to hate. So I’ve finished book 3 of the 7 water series. Child of the prophecy and now I’m on book 4 air of 7 waters. So yeah, definitely continuing my kick on this particular author whose name I show not repeat because transcript. Um. Yeah she’s really amazing. She’s so good. It’s very interesting that she’s done this on all 3 books so far that from about 80 to 95% of the book because I’m reading on Kindle so I can see she has built up so much dread.

07:30.30
jeffekennedy
Of the possible terrible awful outcome of the story that I almost can’t bear it. She has her characters struggling so hard against the things that are happening and. That I am just dread is the best word I can come up with I am just full of dread that they’re not going to succeed that and even though I know even though I know that they’re going to succeed that I know this is the promise. She does kill some of her characters and that creates more of a sense of peril for me as a reader because it’s like sometimes I worry about which characters might die and some do but their happy endings as far as the protagonists. But i. It’s unreal to me how much she drags out this dread at the end and I feel like I could learn from this because I know that I think I’m too nice. Sometimes do you guys think this I mean sometimes I think my perception actually I know I know my perception of my own books is different than. Perception of the reader because it surprises me when people say that I write dark things because they don’t seem that dark to me. Um, but I feel like I resolve difficulties too easily like on. Um. Fiery crown was thinking about grabbing a copy but I won’t I have so many copies of the fiery crown you guys because pandemic because we’re gonna have this huge launch event and now um so like in the fiery crown. If you haven’t read it close your ears for like half a minute but at the end when they are doing the the rescue from the citadel um, my editor said that she thought they got in and out too easily and so I had to go back and we that in so I worry about this somewhat it. If you have your hands over your ears. You can come back I worry about this sometimes with my books because especially the self-published ones I know I’m often coming in under the wire which I hate I I want to get back to where I’m not doing that and hopefully on um, storm princess and the Raven King I will I will do this Um Meghan Snna deutsch I’m like and I know she listens sometimes made a really good suggestion that I just go ahead and set a new preorder date a new release date and just make it well out from.

10:15.54
jeffekennedy
When I think I can finish and I think I probably will do that? Um I’m just I need to get like into the book a little bit more because I did not I took the day off on Friday I’m still empty brained I’m hoping I’ve got the juice back today. So. Yeah I feel like I maybe need to go back and spend more time on these endings and like draw out the dread and the peril of resolving the conflict thoughts. What do you guys? think of course I might be preaching to the choir there here because the readers who think that I resolve stuff too easily um me not. Be reading my books anymore I can’t believe how long Julia here we are transcript how long Juliet Marillier is able to draw out that final conflict. Ah, and it’s I was telling Megan. About this over drinks week drinks before the movie and she was saying well it sounds stressful and I was thinking well it is kind of stressful but at the same time. It’s I don’t know it’s It’s also really satisfying in a way I don’t know we had an argument about something else and I realize I’ve lost my initial topic. Maybe I’ll think of it and went back. Oh I think I will um. Because she was saying that she was watching that she didn’t do much over the weekend you know because it was very snowy. It was really good weekend to tuck in and she did not have her son or son was with her ex and her guy Charlie was out of town. So she said she ended up doing a lot of you know. Had her fire going and lolling on the couch and binge watching stuff and she said she was watching Vikings Valhalla on Netflix and she asked me if I was watching it and I said no I don’t like the vikings show shows I said David likes them but I don’t and she said well why don’t you like them. I thought you would love that stuff and I’m like no ah brutality violence. Just I said I don’t like vikings in general because they are um, it’s said you know like they killed my ancestors I just there’s just not much about the viking viking. The viking mythology that is appealing to me David likes it I don’t I don’t like how they just go out and like ravage and brutalize people and she said but did you like game of thrones and I said yeah I did like game of thrones and she said well they’re the same thing and I was like what? Okay so.

12:59.43
jeffekennedy
You guys viking stuff and game of thrones. She said well didn’t you think um, like the the people in the north those north people. Um I said the the starks and she said yes the starks they were basically vikings they were running around with you know, wearing furs and stuff. Now now upon consideration now I’m wondering if she was thinking about like the wall and the wildwalkers maybe but anyway she even asked our waiter reviews because he like brought our drinks right? then and she said don’t you think that like vikings and game of thrones out. There’s a lot of crossover. And he kind of looked confused and then finally he said well maybe you know like the gray choice because they had chips and I said you know the thing about vikings. 1 of the things that defines vikings is that they go of viking they go out and they go a viking and nobody in game of thrones was going out a’viking. We got nowhere with this argument but I did think that it was a funny conversation. She was like well what do you like about game of thrones because she said I thought the same thing about that. It was all violence and dirtiness and brutality and I was like no, it’s because there was all of that political maneuvering. Right? Anyway, doesn’t matter in the grand scheme. Not but that was sort of how we were going round and round. Um and I confess I don’t really know how I got there but it was a funny conversation. so um so yeah it was I guess with ah what the books that I’m reading and so forth. Um, getting back to work today going to see the movie in the movie theater. So I want to talk about Cyrano and um I was just looking at my notes and thinking about I don’t know if I want to talk about this though I still have times for some reason this is bugging me. And I wrote it down and I was thinking about it again this morning. Um, so maybe I’m I don’t know the fact that I keep thinking about a thing comes back to me I know one thing I had didn’t mention earlier from one of the many things I did on Saturday was I got to interview Julia Quinn who turned out to be absolutely delightful. She was lovely during the interview. She spotted the Rita behind me and asked about it. It was really fun talking to her I think they’re gonna post that video I will share it when it comes up. But yeah, that was really a great.

15:50.75
jeffekennedy
Great thing to get to do so my thing that’s been bugging me is I was just remembering a friend that I had a long time ago and why this is coming back to my mind I don’t know but maybe because I’ve been thinking about friendships and thinking about jealousy and. Things you like sometimes people who are ostensibly our friends say things to us that come across funny and I remember saying something to her and I can’t remember exactly what it was but I was talking about. You know, like everyone’s while you have something that you love to wear. Some outfit that you love and probably this is for the girls sorry guys. Maybe you guys have this too a favorite t-shirt I’m sorry that’s that was wrong. Um, but everyone want to like you have something that you feel super cute in and that you just love. And nobody ever compliments you on it. Nobody ever says anything about it and my mom and I have talked about this It’s like it’s a funny thing and then there’s other things that people always say you look great in and so if you want to you know like have a power thing. You know, be powerful that day you wear the thing that people say. You know it’s like do where’re the thing that people say you look great in that people always compliment or do you wear the thing that makes you feel good, but an an ongoing conundrum so I had said something to my friend about this and Yll I was like oh you know. Whatever this is you know I always love this thing but nobody ever says that I look nice in it and I wonder why and she said well you know sometimes we just shine too brightly and I even wrote this down and this is like I don’t know twenty years later I’m still thinking about it sometimes we shine. Too brightly and that’s like okay so I guess I guess it’s incumbent upon me not to shine so brightly. The funny thing I don’t know why it’s been coming back to me so Cyrano. Um, want to talk about Cyrano and I’m going to talk about the ending. So if you don’t want to get spoilered on the ending tap out now. Um I enjoyed Cyrano I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett were great. They did a wonderful job acting it was beautifully filmed. Its Joe Wright.? Unfortunately, it was Joe Wright Anna Karenina, not Joe Wright Pride and Prejudice or Atonement and I do think that this is something that happens with creators is they start.

18:38.85
jeffekennedy
Getting enchanted with themselves and what they do and they go over the top Joe Wright cut off hauled this back a whole lot because it was like over the top in places. It was also incredibly gorgeous Megan and I were both trying to figure out where it was filmed and it turns out it was Sicily. The set was amazing. There was the trademark Joe Wright sense of like 360 degree ambiance the way he builds the world I feel like he’s unparalleled. It’s just amazing. The costumes were gorgeous. There were these wonderful. Um, you know he leaned into the fact that it’s a musical and there were these wonderful scenes where like the the guards are practicing with the swords they’re doing the fencing practice in the background but it’s like a ballet. Um, and. Various other scenes where they’re talking about love and people are kneading the dough and lifting the bread and it’s like a ballet gorgeous Roxane Haley Bennett played Roxane Roxane outfits are beautiful. They went with these amazing very Filmy Fabrics played with color these colors. Gorgeous um dialogue is scintillating Peter Dingklige I thought did an amazing job of being emotionally torn I thought almost too much at times a little over the top I thought. Roxane did not come off well in this story and now I kind of want to go back and watch other versions of Serrano I know that there’s the the Steve Martin 1 roxanne and then there’s Cyrano de Bergerac from the early 90 s with Gerard Depardieu. I do not remember who else was. In that one let’s look up and see I’m gonna go long today. Do guys care makes up for the date. So I can’t think of anything to say who played Roxanne in that one – Anne Brochet who’s Anne Brochet? you guys know who she is? Maybe she’s just not on my radar same age as me born in 66, she’s known for Cyrano de Bergerac. So maybe that’s why I’m not sure anyway and of course in. Steve Martin version Roxanne that was and Im blanking on her name. The girl who was in splash oh my gosh you guys are all shouting it at me I know what’s her name with the long blonde hair. yes yes I can’t hear you.

21:27.30
jeffekennedy
That that was 87? Yeah oh Darryl Hannah. Yeah, why couldn’t I think of that and I remember liking that one so now I want to rewatch those because I want to see how it ended because this one leaned much more into war. Um. I assumed it was napoleonic war although they didn’t say you guys know me I’m not great on history. Um, but it had a tragic ending. Um and in a way that I felt like was not earned. This was a not earned tragic ending. So. Here I’m very explicitly talking about how it ends at the so Cyrano and Christian who is you know her love you guys know the story right? Christians the very handsome soldier who’s inarticulate Cyrano is. Well he’s Peter Dinklage in this movie so it’s more than him just being uglyglier having a big nose. He’s actually it’s in income. Well little person right in the movie they said Midget and which I thought was interesting because it might have been more within the time because I I think now the preferred. Language is little person so it was much more even says you know a tall beautiful woman is not going to be with the midget and so they both go off to war Christian and and Cyrano and Christian. Like gets very upset when he discovers that Cyrano is in love with Roxanne and has been writing to her every day and and all of this and that Roxanne doesn’t actually love Christian she’s because he because she’s written that she’s in love with his soul and. So he like goes running screaming up and stands there and gets shot. It’s like he doesn’t even do anything noble or useful in their ah losing battle just like so that was much I did not like that. Um. Because he’s like a soldier’s son in all of this anyway. So then Serrano gets shot but he goes home and then if they do this thing three years later it’s like wait what three fucking years three years Cyrano’s back in Sicily he’s with Roxanne. He’s dying and I mean it’s like three years later and then a day you know it’s like one day even a couple hours and it shows him like all this time he’s been pining after her and he sees her every week and finally he confesses his love and she says that she loves him.

24:12.96
jeffekennedy
And he dies what were they doing for three fucking years I mean what is the point of this. What? why? What? Why do we have this 3 year lapse where they’re just suffering. Um I don’t understand this storytellers. Don’t tell me that they spent 3 years not talking to each other about these very important things and then just so you can produce your tragic kiddding. Um I can’t even I’m done with him and Ram. Um, so. You all have great money. Have a great week if you’ve seen sir and know if you see seranal. Let me know what you think um, you know what? and all of you who want to shine brightly go out there and shine as brightly as you want to all right I will talk to you all tomorrow. Take care bye-bye.

A Spoilery Story About the Ending of THE FIERY CROWN

A reminder that tomorrow night is my rescheduled event at Mysterious Galaxy. Come on by and hang out!

For those of you who listened to the Beastly Books interview with Melinda Snodgrass for the release of THE FIERY CROWN – and if you didn’t, you can watch it here – you’ll know that we discussed the ending. (Also, Beastly Books is a great Indie Bookstore where you can buy signed books from me.) Melinda asked me why I ended the book where I did, instead of where she thought I would. I explained that I did waffle on the ending, and my editor ultimately weighed in and I went with her suggestion. After we stopped recording, I asked Melinda where she thought I would end it – and it was an even worse point than I’d contemplated! Then she told me how she’d frame the closing shot in the screenplay. (Melinda started out writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation and still writes a lot for Hollywood, along with her excellent novels.) And, damn people – I want this woman to write the treatment for the miniseries! Because it’s such a cool idea, I wanted to share it.

But, obviously, this spoils the ending. Read on forewarned and so forth.

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS

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..

….

…..

Okay, so!

What I waffled on was, I very nearly had Con go back to the citadel after delivering Lia’s corpse to the boat. He’d go on his suicide mission and Lia would awaken on The Last Resort thinking him dead. Very Romeo and Juliet – which, tragedy, I know – and because I had book three to fix it all again, right? But Editor Jennie said, weeeeellllll…. since it’s a Romance, we need a happy ending in this book, too. Since I wasn’t committed to my tragic R&J ending, I agreed.

But Melinda!

SHE thought I would’ve ended it when Lia dies! That’s where she’d end the season, she said, with a closing shot of the orchid ring on Lia’s finger withering away as she dies on the wizard’s slab.

There’s a reason this woman is besties with George RR Martin!

Also, I can totally picture this closing shot and how I’d be bouncing out of my chair about the ending of Season 2 and how I had to wait forever for Season 3. Clearly she also knows her business.

What do you all think of these alternate endings? Would you have come after me for either of those? 😀

 

I Always Slow Down at the End…

I finished writing THE PROMISED QUEEN! This is the third book in the Forgotten Empires trilogy, and – as happens with many trilogy finales – the draft came in long. I sent 118,489 words (about 426 pages in Word) to Editor Jennie Friday afternoon. A lot to pack into that ending!

As usual, finishing the book wrung me out. As an interesting statistic, writing the first 100,000 words took me 57 days, while revising those words from the beginning and adding 19,000 more took me another 19 days. So a full quarter of my time creating this manuscript went to revising what I’d written and adding the last 16% of the book. I always slow down at the end. I always feel like I *shouldn’t*, but I do.

And you all know what I always say: Figure out what your process is and own it.

So there I am!

I am trying to be better about refilling the well after I finish a project like this. So instead of plunging into the next fiction work, I’ve been taking a little time off. Those of you who listen to my podcast know that on Saturday I drove our 20 year-old Highlander into town to buy plants. When I arrived after a twenty-minute drive, I discovered that a pack rat had built a nest in the engine. How did I find out? Because the engine caught on fire! That’s it in the photo. You can see the bits of detritus from the pack rat nest – and that lots of the engine components melted. I’m fine – many thanks to Newman’s Nursery for quick action with a fire extinguisher and being so lovely to me – but the car will cost more to fix than it’s worth. So, goodbye to Nessie. My mom bought her new in 2000, so she had a good run.

A friend pointed out that it counts to a fiery sacrifice to the gods upon completion of this trilogy, so I’m going with that.