First Cup of Coffee – February 14, 2023

It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m talking about all the kinds of love that AREN’T the romantic or flirtatious sort – and how we can and should celebrate all the manifestations of love in our lives.

First Cup of Coffee – November 11, 2022

I’m back to regular (mostly) podcasting, catching you all up on my activities, talking a bit about voice – how to recognize it and what it means – and asking for input on this midwinter holiday fantasy romance novella.

First Cup of Coffee – February 15, 2022

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

Wonderful I did sip on it previously and it’s ever so slightly cold I have a busy morning today today is Tuesday February fifteenth and in this um. Ah, you know coming together of the various of Venn diagrams of my existence today is my author spotlight day for faro feb 2022 fantasy romance February so I posted a video talking about me. And my books I’ve got all my books piled up here because I was like showing covers boom. Um, and there’s lots going on with faro fab I also have a post in the Faro Feb Facebook group who are wonderful. And so yeah, that’s going all all this month lots of wonderful authors participating so you could check that out at and so I did that and then I’m also completely unrelated but I so said that I would. Be 1 of the fantasy novelists featured in the read for pixels project which is advocating against violence against women and so I am doing a our fantasy Reddit. Am a ask me anything today and I so I to get on there and both of these things were supposed to be up by like 10 am m eastern time which is 8 am m jeffie time also known as mountain time but you could call it jeffie time it you know it’s funny I I think I’ve talked about this before but it always kind of. Mildly irritates me that people don’t include mountain time on the listings and yes I know we are the slice of the country with the lowest population. Well unless you count like the ones that include like Hawaii and the virgin islands I take those or even less. But. Nobody even knows what those are called I know the one with the virgin islands is called Atlantic time. But I I don’t know what it’s called where Hawaii is so maybe it’s Hawaita. We could call it that so anyway, um, but you know like they told me to have it posted by. 10 am easterner time or 9 am m central standard time and it’s like what about mountain time jeffie time but I let it go because I’m ah I’m forgiving that way.

So I’ll include a link in the show notes for the pixel project. They really are doing great work working to eliminate violence against women which I’m sorry if you don’t advocate for ah a project like that I I can’t help you.

so so yeah both those things had to be up by eight o’clock my time and I did pretty good I mean I got it like within 10 minutes of eight o’clock and now I am doing just my usual posting with you guys? Hi yeah so. I’ll put a link for the um, the our fantasy Reddit fantasy group a a it’s your chance to come in and as build ask me anything. Um, yeah, happy to to answer. Any and all questions whatever you guys come up with ah things are percolating along pretty well here at Caso Jeffffe um Cassa Kennedy it’s funny because you know my husband’s last name is not Kennedy, but he gets. He’s very accustomed to being called Mr Kennedy he gets mail to Mr Kennedy he’s a wonderful man. So um, let’s see where am I at so I did finish the revision of gray magic yesterday. Those of you who listened yesterday. You knew that I only had like 10 pages to go so I got those and I added 2300 words I didn’t add 3000 words but 2300 considering I spent an hour revising I was happy with that I took it I was pleased I didn’t work longer than that and. Trying to keep myself evenly paced. So now I’ve got almost 95000 words on this book and somewhere in the neighborhood of a little less than 11000 to go so so far on Target to finish by Friday. I think it’s going fine Karine’s read Assistant Karine has read what I’ve written so far and now she’s reading the chunks as I write them and she says it’s good. Of course she says everything I write is good although we’ve had this argument before she says she would tell me if it wasn’t um. But she said it’s really tense and exciting. So yamy, yeah, so and I I know how it’s I think I know everything that’s going to happen now I’ve been having various um epiphanies on the story and how things are going to end out. As I mentioned yesterday and probably before this I am definitely gonna be writing more books in this world as you read this book. You’re you’re gonna see where it’s gonna go and karine is a big fan of where it’s going.

She is like I know what the next book is going to be and so it’s exciting I may post a snippet later today to go along with my author profile stuff I’ll do it after I’m done with this podcast exciting. Let’s see oh um, I’m not very organized but at least I’m not as badly book-brained as I can be sometimes on the r fantasy reddit it’ll say on my post but I will come back and answer the questions tonight. So you have all day to think up your questions and post them and then I’ll pop in and answer them. This evening. So yeah, yesterday was good day I got those words done and then I I actually got through a ton of sifwa email I tried to go for inbox 0 yes I am one of those people my inbox tends to be like a to do list. I try to keep it ten box zero I get behind and um so it goes but I did catch up a lot of things yesterday and that felt good I saw an interesting I guess it’s getting passed around. But. I saw an interesting article and I will link to it in the atlantic on friendship and you guys know this is one of my themes so there was stuff in there that was really interesting including and I do have it pinned up here that. Let’s see I’m probably gonna have to let’s see if I could do a search. Okay, yeah, so ah in 2009 a dutch sociologist we love Dutch people don’t we assistant Karina Dutch ah the dutch sociologist Gerald Mullenhorst I’m probably not saying that with enough. Blem but you get it published an attention grabbber of a study that basically showed we but we replace half of our social network over the course of 7 years ah isn’t that interesting because you guys know I have been. You know, really interested in the fact and that some friendships seem to come and go and the the article’s very well done I understand why people are passing it around and I I in general agree with it. There are a few things that I think bear discussion and. I’m having drinks with my friend Megan Mouly tomorrow night and Megan is um I sent her the link to the article and I said here’s your homework assignment for discussion tomorrow night and she said on it which I think is just like a perfect example of our friendship.

Love that I could send her an article and say read this so we can talk I don’t know that we’ll have much to debate on it. But I thought it was very interesting. The person who posted it into my timeline said that she didn’t feel like she had these. Big friendship breakups. You know that she knew people drifted out of her life but that she didn’t feel like she had these breakups that the article talks about and the article really explores how we in a way sideline friendships ah compared to. Romantic relationships or family relationships which is something that you guys know I’ve talked about a whole lot and that they the author was arguing who and she’s a Jennifer a few years younger than I am but that’s that’s all. And she was arguing that maybe those friendships should be more important and that for her losing a friendship does feel like a divorce and so I found it very interesting that the person who is also a real life friend as well as a Facebook friend we have to make that distinction now don’t we. She ah you know linked it into my timeline. That’s where I saw it and she said that she felt like she hadn’t had that experience and nothing against her and this may be a generalization actually it is a generalization that people who say that I know a few other people who say that that they don’t feel like they’ve had these friendship breakups I think that there’s the people who actually tend to ghost other people and and leave the the ghostees feeling like what did I do? Why did our friendship end. Whereas these people are like trilaly. Yeah you know friendships come and go. But you know we and that is something that doctor talks about is how we view friendships differently and she mentioned it’s framed around. Ah, particular friendship and 2 women who were trying to put together a book and and how she could see their friendship disintegrating over the course of trying to put this together which I think thought was a fascinating frame. But. She also talks about a pair of friends who actually went into relationship counseling when the friendship had become rocky and I don’t know if I mean I think we all react react the same way where we’re like really he’d got a relationship counseling for a friendship but.

I mean if you would do it for ah a romantic partnership. Why not do it for a friendship and she mentioned someone else a friend who says well isn’t that the opposite point of having a friendship that a friendship is something that it’s special because you opt into it. Because you don’t have to do all of this emotional labor like go into counseling to preserve it. But the author a sister Jennifer makes a lot of the same points that I’ve been thinking about that ah sprint and maybe it’s our our generation but she said you know as we are growing older. That we are becoming aware of that. We’re going to lose our the generation that’s older than us will no longer have that support network. Um, a lot of us don’t necessarily have children I have step I’ve stepchildren but you know it’s we we’re looking at. Who will be with us in our older years and probably it’s going to be our friends right? I mean I look around and I see that you know Grace Drven and I keep I’ve been mentioning grace on here a lot lately. But um, you know. Grace and I have our particular fantasy built up about like when our husbands are gone and we live together and what we’ll do it. It may or may not include a house on the mediterranean and cavana boys. So you know and it’s not a real super realistic plan. But at the same time. It’s something that we are both aware of um, you know her husband had ah a medical emergency recently and she’s been pretty open about what happened with him and my husband has Parkinson’s and so it’s an interesting thing being a woman of this age and looking at the fact. That which really sucks and I even said it to my mother. My mother who’s been twice widowed that the first time was you know when she was quite young and my my dad her first husband died he was an air force spider pilot and he died in ah in a plane crash. So and he was young but then my stepfather died of progressive supernuclear policy a kind ah of Parkinson’s and now her third husband is getting older and it has alzheimer’s and you know you look at this thing where as a woman does. That’s totally unfair but you know that statistically our husbands are going to die before us and so then what do we do? who who do we have I didn’t mean to make this so sad. But you know it is looking around at who.

Who matters in your life who who are you connected to these networks and someone she quoted someone who had sarcastically said. Um, yeah, but your friends are not the ones who will take care of you when you have dementia and some of us are looking around and thinking. Well. Actually maybe our friends who will do that. it’s a it’s a shift maybe it’s a generational shift. But anyway it was a very interesting article on friendship and I’m looking forward to discussing with Megan because we have talked about friendships and how. You know this this seven year thing is really interesting to me because you know that that puts me back to like twenty fifteen half of a social circle so you know you still have people who’ve been your friends much longer than that. But i. I look around and I see that’s true that the people who are a vital part of my life right now. Ah yeah, we’re not seven years ago and there are people who seven years ago were a big part of my life and now I you know barely talk to if at all in some ways that’s reassuring. It’s like well you know it is a natural process. The the friendships coming and going. But 1 thing that Megan and I have really noticed is and and she and I became friends because we’re writers we knew each other from the writing community from the romance writing community. Met each other at a convention in like 2014 and now she happens to live here in Santa Fe but it’s kind of a coincidence that brought her to Santa Fe my pendant fell off there. It’s got a little gap on it I’m gonna have to fix that on the ring. So we had this conversation. It was during the pandemic during lockdown because I know that we were it was one of our um campfire cock cocktail hours where we went out to um, Santa Fe Brewing H Q where they would have the camp fires send the chairs around it and you could drink outside. You could order you know another round of drinks and a cord of wood. Not a cord but a bundle of wood to put on the fire and I know snowing and we were just talking about who were our close friends who were really in our intimate circle now. And she was talking about how that’s changed for her. Um, in you know this sort of mid-life place who are your really good friends. So 1 thing I did love about the article too was that there were.

Discussions of how do you maintain friendships you know like do I don’t know that you would necessarily go to I don’t know if I would go to counseling but there are definitely friendships that I kind of wish we talked about things and she talks about how to manage that envy in the. Relationship being especially if you are people who’ve come together because you’re working in the same field and doing similar things. You know how how people take care of each other knowing not the reality of envious there. And I really loved that about it. It’s like no, we don’t we don’t say oh you shouldn’t be envious because human beings are envious, right? it’s 1 the 7 deadly sins she she says that she thinks it’s the least popular of the 7 deadly sins and I think that there’s probably a good point to that nobody wants to admit it. You know it’s easier to be admit to being lazy or greedy or lustful but it’s harder to admit that to envy but we are all envious and so we just have to know that our friends may have envy for us and we have to manage that if. Friendship is valuable so I thought that that was really yeah, insightful. That’s what I’ve been thinking about and I’m still reading Juliet Marilier’s daughter of the forest which I’m gonna have to go in and fix because the transcript. Really barfs on her name and it gets my name wrong every time I have to go and fix that too. But I’m I’m opting in I’m keeping the professional model I think that the paying my $20 a month I think the Transcript’s really good I don’t know how many people are reading. It. But. It’s it’s been a minimal amount of effort compared to what I tried to do before and the expense of that totally different. So go Zencaster on that zencastr pro model at twenty dollars months works. Great. So um, yeah, I’m really loving daughter of the forest and it’s remarkable to me how much how many parallels there are to the mark of the talla. That’s really just which I’ve actually got right here because I was talking books right. Here it is the mark of the tunnel. But ah yeah, it if I had if I had read daughter of the forest. It’s like I would suspect that I had like cribbed stuff directly from that story but I hadn’t.

So isn’t that interesting that those story archetypes are there so many parallels things that I wasn’t consciously drawing on at all I think that’s why we love these fairytale stories because of these old. Tail archetypes in them that speak to us and now I’m going to go right? So hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday try in on the r fantasy Reddit tonight the ama supporting the read for pixels project. And I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

Is Networking a Meaningless Term?

Fi8s-n7v (1)Every time I hear the term “networking” I get a particular image in my mind. Not a good one.

Thus, the short and surface answer to this week’s topic at the SFF Seven, “The Net Worth of Networking,” is that it’s a big fat zero to me. No – less than that! Negative values there.

But come on by to find out how wrong that image was


Authors Interacting with Reviewers

Figs by Kathryn GreenwoodMy post on Tuesday, about friends who are also competitors, sparked more conversation than I expected – both in comments here and in other social media venues. It struck a chord with people, that we find ourselves in competition with the people who understand us best. I’m beginning to think that the concept of being in competition is what’s not real. Maybe that’s why we trip over it.

As I was mulling over these various comments, I saw that Elisabeth Lane over at Cooking Up Romance, put up this post, exploring her ideas about reviewing critically versus celebrating her love of the story. I became aware of Elisabeth and her blog when she tweeted about preparing the food for this review of my book, Ruby. I loved what she did so much, that I blogged about it, on the topic of sharing creativity. As I mention in that post, seeing something I imagined become an actual meal that she created was hugely satisfying and fun for me. We’ve since become friends and even met in person.

(She also did an unholy amazing take on the cannoli from Under His Touch – you have to see it!)

At any rate, Elisbeth’s post is about reevaluating her purpose for her blog, weighing the outside pressure she feels to be an objective, even critical reviewer of books against her initial concept, which was to celebrate the books she loves and do that by taking the food elements in them one step further and making them real. I really understand what she’s getting at because this is the aspect of writing and hearing feedback from readers that I love, too – this kind of communication and collaboration over something that lights us both up.

On one of my author loops, a newish writer asked about responding to reviews. This discussion comes up All The Time. There are certain reviewers in the community who are adamant – and have impressed this “rule” upon many writers – that authors should NEVER respond to reviews. They feel it creates a chilling effect on open discussion and that reviews exist solely for the reader and are off-limits to the writer. I can see the point there, particularly when writers want to argue the reader’s interpretation. (Just… no. Let it go. Once it’s published, it’s no longer solely ours.) However, what this prohibition does is kill one of the best, most exciting aspects of this art. An author writes largely in solitude and the reader absorbs the story in much the same way. It’s only then, when the reader feeds back to the author, that there can be real exchange. And it’s glorious.

I don’t think it’s fair – or even beneficial – to ask authors and readers both to forgo that profoundly exciting communication. That’s what art is about, the flow of ideas.

The photo above was taken by a longtime friend, all the way back to high school, Kathryn Greenwood Andrews. She sent it to me for Christmas, with a note that she picked figs for me because they’re the most sensual fruit. This is another kind of artistic feedback loop – that she offers to me her image that reflects the stories I tell. It’s hugely meaningful to me.

I suppose some would parse this dilemma by saying that authors should limit interaction to readers, and draw the line at actual reviewers. However, as Elisabeth points out, she wants to review the books – but only the ones she loves and wants to gush about. As with the idea that authors must compete with each other, I think the idea that a blogger must review critically and “objectively” is a false construct.

Of course, I really want Elisabeth to keep giving me culinary advice for my stories and then making the meals come true. The best kind of creative friendship.

Writers Helping Writers

B-UQ3E6CEAAPVlUI’m kind of blue today. For the past few days, my bestie and crit partner Carolyn Crane has been visiting. We got up in the mornings and did “parallel play” – working our social media and indulging in dishing about it, in a way we never get to do otherwise. Then we wrote, sometimes silently, sometimes discussing. On the best weather day we went hiking around noon. Regardless of weather we headed into town around midday and indulged in long, delicious, boozy lunches. We used the opportunity to give each other live discussion feedback on our latest works – so much better than on the phone or via social media. And we talked about writing careers in general – both our own and people we know.

This morning I dropped her off at the airport and my world feels emptier for it.

We talk a lot about writing being a solitary profession, which it certainly can be. Worse, however, the various writing communities can be, well, less than fully supportive. There’s a lot of professional jealousy out there. Carolyn and I both started our writing careers in the literary fiction world and that’s one of the worst. One of those cases where the fights are so fierce because the stakes are so small. There is very little friendship in those particular trenches, with plenty of tail-sniffing, jockeying for position and plain mean behavior. The egos run huge and the competition intense.

Neither of us miss it a bit.

The romance community is SO unbelievably better that way! With a very few exceptions, the egos remain manageable in romance. Maybe that comes from writing a much-sneered at genre or maybe from it being such a predominantly female community. Or from the original friendly and supportive mindset of the organization’s founders. Regardless, I love my sister romance writers and greatly appreciate having that network. Still, even in my few years spent in this group (six – since 2008), closer friendships have come and gone. I mourn some of the ones that have fallen by the wayside, but the ones I’ve gained more than make up for the few losses.

I’ve long observed that friendships tend to develop among the people who are doing the same things we are. You know – in college we have our college friends, and among those the theater friends or the peer counseling people. After college, most of those friendships fade away. Not because anything goes wrong, but because all that energy that came from shared daily experiences evaporates into the ether. It’s more difficult when the largest energy in my life, the experience I have to share, is with people who are also my “competitors,” in some sense. It can take an active effort to combat that, to not let it get in the way of supportive friendship.

Carolyn is an amazing friend that way. Someone I love, admire and enjoy – and who always makes me feel like an important and precious part of her life in return. Last night we skyped for nearly an hour with Anne Calhoun, sharing this same kind of friendship. There are others, wonderful, nurturing friends, but for the moment I want to celebrate these two and give my thanks to the universe for bringing them into my life.

Love you gals!

Doing Right by Our Friends

boundbyinkHappy Release Day to Marcella Burnard with the newest in her Living Ink urban fantasy series, BOUND BY INK!!

This is such a cool series, with tattoos that capture demons and bind them to people. Marcella has been a friend for a long time, so seeing her books release is always fun for me. I met Marcella online through RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal (FFP) chapter, back in… wow – 2009, I think. We used to “meet” every morning in the online water cooler and do writing sprints. Later, when I happened to be out in Olympia, Washington, she drove down to meet me for dinner. I’ve had a number of writing friends come and go over the years. This business seems to be particularly hard on friendships, with some people withdrawing as our careers and fortunes wax and wane.

Marcella, though, has been a steadfast friend to me throughout – something I’ve really come to value.

There’s a saw that friends are the family you choose and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I have friends who go back most of my life, nearly as long as some of my family and some longer than the younger/newer family members. How closely in contact we are changes all the time, but the best friends are the ones where that doesn’t matter. I recently saw two college friends while I was out in Baltimore and it was lovely to visit with them, touch base with their lives.

The people who are our friends form the fabric of our lives, their threads interweaving with ours. Maybe part of one space of time, maybe running throughout the length. Their impact on us, and of us on them, can be profound.

This is on my mind because a friend of my mother’s died last week. They’d known each other for around thirty years. They shared a whole group of mutual friends, couples who spent lots of time together, partying, traveling, celebrating each others’ milestones. Her death came as a shock to most everyone in that more-dispersed circle. Largely because no one knew she’d fallen ill. All her friends knew was that they’d left messages that she hadn’t returned. Finally she didn’t return so many that one of them pinned down the husband. Turned out she’d not only been sick, but she’d gone comatose, was on life support and the family was meeting to make a decision. She died the following day and the service set for the end of the week.

None of them got to see her before she died.

Of course, by the time they knew, she was beyond communicating. But, while it’s understandable that a family in crisis will circle the wagons and not communicate such a terrible event, it hurt my mom and the woman’s other friends terribly not to be able to say their own goodbyes. They could have let her know one last time that they loved her. For themselves, they could have tied off that thread, instead of it hanging as a ragged edge.

It’s something to think about – if we suddenly fall ill, is there a list of who to contact? For many of us, a phone call to one or two friends will set in motion a chain of communication. It’s probably worth it to make that list. Just in case.

If not for ourselves, then for our friends who love us.

Reflections on Losing Friends

tumblr_mc5vf0jUMH1qzozjoo1_500This is a photo from Amanda Palmer’s Tumblr, with the caption “books are home.”

When I saw it go by in my Tumblr feed last night, I thought that I glimpsed the distinctive spine of a book a friend wrote. To the point that I downloaded the photo and magnified to see. I had this idea that it would be Karol’s book and I would write the story about what it meant to see her book on that shelf.

And how I mourn her still.

Even though it wasn’t her book, I had a happy feeling, knowing that her book is out there still and people read it. I know this because they search the Internet for her and sometimes find that blog post and send me messages. I hadn’t intended that, when I wrote it, but now I kind of love that I have that lasting connection to her through that.

I’ve been reading this book, The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women’s True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away, and it’s put me in a reflective mood. The essays are so varied, with different friendships and reasons that they didn’t last. One is about a friend who died, but also a friendship that formed around that death – and then faded away again. One “rule” that I’m extracting from all the stories is one I thought I knew already – it isn’t always about you.

In fact, it rarely is.

I think it’s human nature to believe the world revolves around us. Even though we learn as kids (ideally) that people lead lives when we’re not present, that revelation can be hard one. I remember when my stepkids were little. They would spend every-other weekend and one weekday night for dinner with us. Once they excitedly told us about a new restaurant in town (small town, so big news) and we said, yes, we’d eaten there. They insisted we hadn’t, because they hadn’t yet been. They couldn’t quite grasp that we did things when they weren’t around – as if we retired like companion androids to the closet, when not needed.

Eventually, we grow up and realize that other people have complex external and internal lives that have nothing to do with us. And yet, when a friend turns away, we automatically think it must be something we did. Or didn’t do. Most of the time, though, it’s really about them and what they need.

At any rate, it’s a very interesting book and has given me a lot of food for thought. It’s been lovely, too, to return to reading some nonfiction.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!