Overthinking Your Writing? Be Like Jackson

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: How do you stop overthinking your writing? The accompanying photo is of Jackson, who makes a practice of overthinking absolutely nothing. I’m tempted to say “Be like Jackson” and end the blog post here.

But, seriously, the key to not overthinking your writing is … stop overthinking.

I know that’s not helpful, but it is an important skill to acquire. Conversely, it’s important to purge yourself of the idea that thinking is necessary for writing. As an intuitive writer, I do everything I can to maximize intuition and minimize conscious thought. The more I think, the slower I write. I know this about myself, but there’s a pervasive idea out there that writing comes from thinking.

This gem was going around Twitter/X the last couple of days:

We won’t dive into how much of a dipshit this guy is, including a misguided impression that writers are somehow not into opportunities that allow us to pay the bills. What’s key here is that he believes you have to have an outline before writing, that you have to THINK it out. Spoiler: you do not. I am living proof of it and a total advocate for being that opportunist. Let the story come to you.

Something to keep in mind is that overthinking is a form of perfectionism, which can be paralyzing. Therefore, any techniques for killing perfectionist tendencies will help here. Basically let go of expectations and the need to make the story perfect as you’re writing.

Relax. Let it flow.

Be like Jackson.

First Cup of Coffee – July 1, 2022

A bonus podcast today because our outing was canceled, so I’m talking about why I find the tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s winter home and studio a mystical experience and why I think all creatives should do it.

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

Ah, sheer bliss today is say it with me friday. Ah, woo woo July First happy New Month rabbit rabbit we used to have this superstition that my mom taught me um that if you say rabbit rabbit. Um, the first day of the month None thing that you say when you wake up on the first day of the month that you’ll have good luck for the rest of the month and then my mom eventually decided that it actually created bad luck and we stopped saying it a long time ago. She’s to be much more. Superstitious that she is now Jackson is out here with me this morning and I’m having to keep an eye on him because he is um he is pushing his boundaries like it’s like having a None ar old kid around. And he’s a mature cat. You would think that we wouldn’t have this but um, he has been trying to go over the wall. He’s been trying to take advantage of this recent freedom of being allowed out here by going over the wall and yesterday he. Did he went on an excursion I think maybe Kelly didn’t realize she shouldn’t let him out and we thought he was sleeping somewhere and he showed up on the front porch all tired because he’d been on an excursion and now he thinks that that’s what he gets and I’ve been telling him. No. So forgive me as I keep an eye on him. So I thought I’d made a mistake yesterday when I said talk to you all tomorrow because I blaatedly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to do a podcast today. Because we were going up to Abiquiu but then below and hold here I am because we ended ended up not going had to cancel. So um, yeah, it’s too bad. Ah, the the tldr is that Kelly is not feeling well so we pulled the plug on the excursion which is the the saddest part of it is that these tickets are difficult to get and I got them I don’t know.

three months ago um they’re booked up till August at this point so there’s no no getting new ones I’ll call the place when they open at eight thirty it’s um an hour a half drive away. Um. Jackson no, he went over the wall all right kitty retrieved sorry for yelling in your ears. He is um, thought he was just gonna have a little escapade.

David’s pulling the car out I was like no, what’s happening so much activity today. So anyway, we were going to go do this tour of um, Georgia O’Keeffe’s winter home and studio in Abiquiu. And this would have been like my fourth time I love to take creative friends there and I recommend it if you’re in the Santa Fe region and you’re any type of creative. It’s so worth going because this is where she lived towards the end of her life and she set up this house. Exactly as she wanted it I want to say the latter half of her life. Um up until she had to move into. Um you know, kind of assisted living in Santa Fe when she was very old and declining last couple years. So. Because she was a visual artist. The house is set up with these beautiful windows that capture specific ah swatches of landscape. it’s um it’s like to me this is the pilgrimage. You know it’s like I could take her leave. The the chapel at Chimayo if um, you know I’ll take people to see that if they want to. You know you can go touch the holy dirt as it were um that has no mystical significance to me. Being in Georgia O’Keeffe’s home her studio. Her garden is um that for me is the mystical experience. It is I don’t know there is a there is a vibe to it. There is an energy in the air. There is a. Ah, purity to it that I find it immensely moving. So I’m disappointed that Kelly and Alyx won’t get to experience it. We also had a day passed to Ghost Ranch but that would have been just sort of knocking about and seeing some of the landscape we didn’t have like the the horseback ride or anything. So um, yeah, that’s too bad. It would have been a fun excursion I really wanted Kelly to see it but she woke up this morning. Saying that she’s sure she has strep throat I really suspect. It’s the the dryness of the climate here I could be wrong. It’ll be interesting to see but she went ahead and made an appointment with urgent care. For first thing this morning. So yeah, she um.

She did she kept saying oh well because we were messaging Alyx was messaging me Kelly was messaging me um and she kept saying oh well you and Alyx go and I was like you know if you’re sick enough that oh excuse me. Little bit of a burp there unexpected didn’t even feel it rising up so please excuse me. Ah, yeah, you know I was like you know if you’re sick enough that you have to go to urgent care. Then it’s probably a really bad idea for the 2 of us to be a 2 hour drive away while you’re alone in a city. You’re not familiar with David is here but um. You know and he could have been on call but know and I know that that can be the sickness stocking to sometime I remember being um with one of my colleagues there. We go what’s being weird. Ah, being was one of my colleagues when I had the day job. She was sick with a terrible terrible sinus thing fever um lungs oh she was bad off and we were in Atlanta and we’d been on a long trip where we um. Did Atlanta first and then we were going to fly I can’t remember exactly how we were going to do it but we had to spend the weekend away from home and then the next week in like North Carolina and I think we were flying into North Carolina on Saturday and. It was like Friday afternoon. We’d finished most of our work pouring pouring rain. Ah and it let out the whole time we were there. It was um, it was winter time that cold and dreary atlanta rain nonstop so heavy all the time. I had to go grab my water.

Ah, so much better coffee doesn’t always um quench the throat when it feels dry right? So anyway, this story ended up being long this here’s versimilitude this is like me trying to tell you a single story. As all sorts of things are going on at the restaurant. But um, so she was feeling sick. She was worried about having to fly because her ears were really stopped up and we had finished work early and one of the people we were working with one of the local epa guys found a. Urgent care location for her. Um, right off of the bart station so that we could because of course we had no transportation so that way we could just hop on the train and go there and ah, you know be right? there. And then get back on and get back to our hotel which was also very near it was near that downtown Bart station. Very fun, kind of vintage hotel so we left the Epa offices went to the bart station which I think was like right below the building and she turns to me. She’s so sick and she has big puppy dog guys and she says would you go with me and I was like no it was totally my plan to just like push you onto the appropriate train and say good luck out there I would like. Course I am coming with you anything else would be completely irresponsible. So but that’s how it is when you’re set right? You don’t always I don’t know you feel so pitiful right? So it turned out well she she got the serious antibiotics. We were able to delay the flight by a day so that it was long enough that the doctor said that she should be okay to fly without rupturing her earrums which was a concern. They’re a miracle cure. So anyway, I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to get Kelly fixed up. They’ve got another week here. So many fun things yet to do holiday weekend here in the us and well really in Canada too because that’s part of why we were going today is that it’s Canada day because they are um, working while they’re here particularly Alex who has a. Full time job.

Just kind of a scattered moon around here now. David’s out here in the garden look. It’s Stephan. It distracted me so exciting. Garden news is our lily blossom bloomed so beautiful I took a photo. Yesterday. It’s not yet open this morning cause it closes at night. But I’ll put that on the show notes so that you can see it and so yeah holiday weekend. Um, no big plans for the weekend. Otherwise we’ll try to assure canadian visitors a little bit of um. American fourth of July fund. They interestingly asked me if there would be military flyovers and I was kind of confused by the question at first and I was like well no I mean there would only be like air shows at. You know and that would be if you like went to one

But apparently in Canada and Canada day they have like military demonstrations and it made me realize how in the us that’s really not a thing like our parades are um, we have veterans and we. Have like emergency service vehicles and that sort of thing but we don’t include military equipment in our fourth of July parades. It’s not anywhere I’ve ever lived I don’t know if it’s different where you are but I was telling them about that. That’s part of why it had been such a um. A big freakin’ deal when Trump was elected that he wanted to have the um military parade for his inauguration that shit he’s such a shit and he wanted to have like tanks. And the pentagon put down its foot I don’t remember who it was or how but they said no they said that there has never been and and I was trying to qualify what never was you know like maybe not since the civil war but that there have never been. Military vehicles on us civilian streets in all of our history and it was a good start now. Even if Trump does think that he’s putin and some of these gp conservatives fancy themselves Putin. I take that you know that is one of our our last lines in the sand that I hope we hold to that. Um, we are not a military government and we do not parade military vehicles. Through the sky or the streets or the waters if you’re near water. Um, it was interesting to think about that and think back to all the parades that I’ve seen Ah yeah I mean certainly sometimes you might get like national guard troops marching but not. Like full out military right? so ah so yeah it should be a late back weekend. Maybe we’ll go get to do some fun things shop around and that sort of thing hopefully Kelly will be feeling better Alex is off today because of Canada day. So. I said that I might um, be able to meet up with them later and take them to do some things since Kelly will probably be sleeping and so forth. So I have my writing day back. Unexpectedly so that’s kind of a bonus for me.

Very excited to get that.

Excuse me.

So um, yeah, and so bonus Podcast My mom was sorry that I didn’t get to go and I said yeah but hey bonus podcast for you. So I’m gonna. Dash inside and call the Georgia O’Keeffe museum to let them know that we’re not coming. Maybe someone lucky person will be able to use the tour tickets. So I Hope you all have a wonderful weekend holiday weekend or not wherever you are. Hope you get to do some fun things perhaps make some pilgrimages to some illuminating spots.

And um, yeah I will talk to you all on Monday you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – June 13, 2022

THE STORM PRINCESS AND THE RAVEN KING is out today!!! FINALLY! I’m talking about that, my busy and productive weekend – including a tour of the secret garden – plus special appearance by Jackson.

(Apologies for the failure to stop at the end…)


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

So today is Monday June thirteenth and very exciting day. It is the release day for THE STORM PRINCESS AND THE RAVEN KING!! I feel like we need extra – Let’s do an extra ringing of the chimes for that. Because a long time coming right? I originally planned this book to come out in like freaking I don’t know November what was my first I bet I could tell you what was my first plan my. Sadly benighted plan that got completely derailed. What was the one that I had to cancel I know if I must have it on here somewhere. Okay. I know this is boring but I’m I’m going to look sorry surely I kept it recorded somewhere. Yeah well now I’m just hitting the wrong buttons a new. Well it doesn’t matter. It was something like. November but didn’t exactly work out. Jackson is out here with me this morning. He’s been being a good kitty. Um, we’ve been letting him out in the secret garden with us without harness and he’s been not going over the wall. Was very funny when my friend Megan Mulry first moved to Santa Fe and she house sat for us and I tried to teach how to use the harness how to put it on him and she even called me and I was trying to walk her through it and she couldn’t get the harness figured out and I said um. I’m noticing. Somebody’s been digging one of my plants I know this because I cleaned everything up yesterday. It’s a little disconcerting have to put rocks in these plants to keep the rodents like to the mice like to dig into them and bury themselves. It’s for their sleeping spot. Anyway, um, so I asked her we were like in Tucson for Thanksgiving I think it was and I asked her if she’d gotten it figured out and she said oh I realized that I could just put him out in the back garden because it has walls. It was like um, you might see if he’s still there and she’s like why can he go over the walls and it’s like someone who has not been around cats. It’s like yeah there are not walls who can keep a cat and all right hold on.

Now right? I put some rocks it. It was a different plant than what I thought but um I poked and no mouse came jumping out which is what they do sometimes which can be alarming at least temporarily and by put some rocks in. I feel better film anyway, release day for storm princess on the Raven King um I even queued up my photo to show you guys and I’ll put on the show notes. But um, oh and of course we have. This is the problem with using phones because then it’s all fingerprinting over the image and cleaning off my screen and then we’ll probably get glare anyway. But. Ah, ah, ah, all right? So I’m very excited. Um I don’t love the cover model. We ended up out and with this one and it took a lot of work to find the right cover model and he’s twice. He’s on this one and then on long night of the crystalline moon because they’re the. Sort of bracketing couple and I ended up putting up a picture of to Monte Charlemagne instead that’s what ah Ryan looks like so so yeah. Great to have this out great to have that series finished um plans for today are to do release day things. So I feel like I don’t have many to do and then um work on rogue’s pond. If I can get that revision done today. I’ve got a lot to do since I leave early in the morning. Um I did ask the person involved about the yeah sorry I started looking at my email to see if they had replied and they had not. And then um, yeah Karine sent um a question so that got involved with looking at that? sorry. Must be a little scattered this morning I actually feel great. It’s good to have that book out. Um I’m heading off to do this fun thing tomorrow. Oh that’s why I started to tell you was that they said they were going to craft a social media policy because I asked I said you know what can I say on social media about this because I feel like.

Part of why I’m doing this is because they want to spread word of mouth and yet there are other aspects that I know are preferred to be kept confidential. So anyway I have not yet gotten that social media policy so we will see I don’t know if all podcasts for the rest of the week it’s um I think I could say this bunch is that it’s a writer’s retreat and it’s kind of an experimental thing and it’s um, right now by invitation only so look how snazy I am ah no, it’s it’s a friend. Um, and yeah, so it’s gonna be great and I think that. Ah, one of the people hosting it also as a podcast so I might ask them if they would like to do a podcast with me have a cup of coffee and chat so we’ll see otherwise I think I might try to embrace the writers retreat thing and um. Actually retreat and just do that. Ah, ah yeah I don’t know I’m fussing with my hair this morning I probably do this a lot on the if you’re on video. Um, so yesterday I I ended up taking a shower last night and I did wash my hair. But. Just let it dry naturally and it’s kind of my today I should’ve done some with it. So that’s why fucking around with it. Ah I had um had a great weekend. It was really nice. We had a board meeting on Saturday that was very quick. That was really great and then um, then David and I went to a party that Emily Moth through I got to meet some of her family and we ran a few errands and that was nice to get done and then we um. Yeah, had a very quiet evening. It was really beautiful weather hot but still and um, wonderful and then I yesterday did massive cleanup in the secret garden.

I’m hearing suspicious wrestling noises and I’m going to jackson let me go see what he’s doing this is like the old days right? with the the cat wrangling if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a long time when I like actually walked. Jack’s during the podcast. Okay hold on false alarm. He’s just being a good kitty lying in the tall plants when the shade I thought that was the sound of him going over the wall. So um. Oh so hair in my mouth. What’s going on here pace all right? So anyway I did this big cleanup of the secret garden and I’ll do a little pan about for those of you on video. If you can see but actually I’ll do like a little walk through for those of you who are good people being on video so well, it’s not good I really don’t judge I don’t care if you’re on video or just audio but see I trimmed back this Lilac Bush a whole bunch. And I trimped back the grapevine so it’s all cleaned up and there’s now an easy way to walk through and now you could see it from coming the other direction. See how nice it looks I’m really happy. It was a lot of work. It took me all freaking day but much better. Sorry for the sun blast there. So yeah, that was my ah big project yesterday and it was um. Hot and my hair was like I sweated so much I had my hair on a ponytail and I sweated so much that my hair was actually stiff with salt you do and then I start doing this thing trying to. Fix David’s computer he got this laptop in like January and it was a cheap one and we thought well they’ll be fine because you know he doesn’t use it for that much stuff.

Sorry, all this possing this morning I just got a text message on something I’m trying to get tied up before I leave so it’s that kind of day isn’t it. so um so yeah I’m I’m really happy with the work I got done and. In two weeks my friends Kelly Robson and Alex Delamonica will be here. They’re going to house it from my friend Megan Moury so it’s like I’m losing Megan and Charlie as my playmates. But then I’ve imported other friends to be my playmates while they’re gone. Best of both worlds for me and we’re going to have a little party to introduce Kelly and Alex to the other local writers. So welcome to party central um, it finally looks like habitable for other human beings. So I have to clean up the front when I get back next Sunday but that’s um, otherwise I think I’m in pretty good shape I’m hoping to get as I keep saying I know over and over that rogues pawn revision done today. Ah if i. Focus on trying to get it done today I want to put a reader letter at the front and I want to delete that scene and then do a quick read through to see if there’s any ramifications from deleting that scene and I feel like there’s something that I want the. Male lead trying to say male lead instead of hero the male lead to acknowledge to the female lead at some point in the book and it could be that he does more than I think he did but um. Yeah I don’t know so I want to look for that so we’ll see if I can get all that done today. But I’m hoping having the restricted timeline will encourage me not to go into the weeds on this revision I have the preorders set up for all 3 covenant of thorns books I shouldn’t hold up 4 fingers. Why I just have pull None um, and it’s um I did that on Friday boy you know what setting up pre-orders for 3 books at one time and I had to write new backc cover copy for all 3 was a little much but it just took a long time. It took a long freaking time doing all the different platforms and I I sometimes am snarky. Mildly snarky to other authors who say oh well that they use something like drafted digital or they hire someone to upload because they don’t want to have to up to load to all of the different platforms and I’m like oh it’s not that hard. Well when you’re doing 3 books and filling it out for all the different platforms because I upload to.

I set it up on Amazon kobo barnes and noble and smash wordss. So for sites. They all ask for information different order had to grab my isbms for all of them betting white’s done um, and then after all of the ah. W Ringling I got the blueberry pie recipe to Karine on time and she forgot to put it in the newsletter because there was like a mini crisis with the website so that’ll be in the next one. It’ll be in the release newsletter coming in a ah day or 2 oh so I was talking about yesterday. Um. Once I got really hot I’d finished everything but I still my great big brush pile you know of leavings outside the the gate and I thought well I’m going to wait for it to cool down a little bit before I can do that because it was like 4 and the hottest point in the day so I went inside and. Tried to deal with this thing on David’s laptop this new laptop has never worked right. It’s just a funky little thing and by funky I am thinking of many other f you words which I know I don’t normally scruple to say but I’m just yeah. Um I ended up being on chat customer support chat for like 2 hours trying to fix this fucking thing. It won’t take the microsoft 3 65 subscription which I have. And I have the family version so I can share with like 5 people and I only share with David and it worked fine on his previous laptop. It will not take it’s just um, it’s so weird it does these. It’s almost like it gets caught in these loops and then it can’t get out of it I suspect the thing’s a limit because the customer support person was doing the remote control in everything and she finally she said have you tried taking this back to the store where you got it? Well unfortunately he got it at Walmart. Which I don’t shop at Walmart but he likes to go there and I think he paid cash and did not keep the receipt. This is what we get for me not doing it just saying so I think we’re just gonna buy him a new laptop. He’s gonna try. Reformatting the hard drive and see what happens? Um, but it’s um, it’s funky. It also has this thing where you cannot delete Microsoft Edge it will not let you delete it. It says that it’s um, critical to the operation on the computer which I thought.

Microsoft was not allowed to do that anymore. It used to be. You know they tried to make you know back in the day it was Microsoft explorer they tried to make you that you had to use that for your web browser and I thought they weren’t allowed to do it anymore. But they’re so doing not on this. So anyway, it was like later after it was like 6 – six thirty david even brought my dinner into me and then we finally signed off and the customer service gal even said, um, she said I don’t often get to to say this but it’s been a rare pleasure trying to help you. She was really sweet. Um I was. I was being good and not using profanity. But I was referring to the fing computer e f f I n g so I said I’m gonna go drink wine now and she said have some for me too. But ah so then you know we sat in 8 and. Started watching um one for the money with catherine hegel is she hegel or hegel. Ah from the jenna ivanovvi book I don’t know why that movie got so hugely panned it. It was funny. We we enjoyed watching it so we watched it for a little bit and I they’re like dirty and. Wet stiff hair and all of this to paint an image for you and I um I said and david was getting a little snoozy anyway which he often does right? after he eats. So I said well I’m gonna go deal with this brush pile and so that could be done and I clean the cat boxes too and then I could take a shower and be done for the night and so he came out and helped me move that brush pile that was really nice and yeah, so then I took a shower and it was a quick shower and my hair was so sweat soaked did I mention and snarled that I um put a whole bunch of conditioner in it. So all of this is a very long way of saying that I feel like my hair looks a little. Over conditions today but I had to be able to get a fricking comb throughout That’s the other thing about working on the grapevine is that you like gets your hair up in it and stuff. So anyway, everything looks really great I’m feeling accomplished. A lot to do today packing all of this my flight leaves at like six thirty in the morning so got to be up and adder ready to go but um, yeah, ah, release day for storm princess awesome and then. Hopefully starting tomorrow certainly later in the week I am going to be working on book 4 of bonds of magic I think we have decided that the new trilogy should have a new title for those of you who have been reading the books suggestions. Welcome I’m also looking for. Um.

Individual book titles. Ah should we call book one jet ah and it is going to be judgment and Sally for those of you wondering um, should we call book one sarcastic wizard spy wizard ah for those of you who may not have been listening for a long time. You know dark wizard was my working title. It was my working title excuse me from a long time back when it was just a concept when it was just a glimmer in my eye and I’d been thinking about this the dark wizard concept. Here comes Jackson you guys want to see Jackson prowling along there. He is. He’s so handsome Jackie Cat yeah are you a handsome boy yes you are are too. Yes, he knows he is what a good little. Posing kitty I was gonna call him a poser but that sounds wrong doesn’t it. He’s looking for lizards so um, yeah I I had just been calling it dark wizard and thinking I was gonna come up with a better title and Grace Draven was the one who said no you must call it this you I’m I’m ordering you to call it this and I said I cannot name a book dark wizard she said yes you can. So maybe I should ask Grace what should we call it. Spy wizard I kind of like spy wizard sarcastic wizard anyway, suggestions welcome feed them along please feel free to share. On storm princess and Raven King I’m hopeful that now that the series is complete that more people will pick it up I hope that you guys I’m trying not to say you guys anymore. We could talk about that I hope that you all enjoy it I hope that it’s um. Delivers on the promise I think I got it there. so so yeah enjoy and I will um I don’t know if I don’t podcast the rest of this week then you’ll hear from me next Monday you all take care. Bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – March 29, 2022

Ah, good morning. Everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee and with a cat if you’re on video you may have seen the tail go by and here he is. Ah, he jumped up on my desk right? as the camera was going live Jackson say hello to everybody I don’t know why he takes he has to be up here right now except that he’s been very much into loving lately. And so now you get to see his but because that’s how a cat shows their love now you’ gonna sit there. Okay, he said right there she’s sitting off to the side now you want see I left my office door open because David’s taking a bath here. We go. We can have first cup of coffee with a cat. Yeah cats don’t like coffee. So today is Tuesday March Twenty Ninth hope you all are doing well, it’s a rainy Tuesday here in Sara Fe I don’t know if Jackson’s thinking that maybe he wants to go out already. You want me to leave him in the photo range there. We go, you can see the back of his head. Um. Yeah, sorry I’m thoroughly distracted by the cap visit. That’s why I get for leaving my door open. So let’s see. Um, yeah, wick’s going well for me so far hope it’s going well for you I did get my 2000 words yesterday. It’s it’s interesting. It’s um. Much easier to get them on Monday after a couple days rest and then harder towards the end of the week so I have to see is um, is 2000 a day really sustainable I sure hope it is because I don’t want to slow down more than that. But I do have to abide by my. Own advice right? find out what your process is and own it there. He goes going on his merry way. So that was special day though. It doesn’t that mean something the cat comes to visit. You. So probably not the households where you have lots of cats that come and visit you all the time it seemed like I had a few things to talk about today and now I don’t know what any of them are all right um.

So 1 thing I do know I want to talk about is I mentioned. Um well I guess ah was on Friday when I was talking about the set changes in membership requirements and I mentioned the story about how my. My story Pearl got published in 2 different magazines almost at the same time by accident. Um, and I mentioned that it was the second time that that happened to me and the. First time was in this wyoming wildlife magazine which was the magazine and is still the magazine for ah wyoming game and fish. So I was living up in Wyoming at the time and I worked for wyoming gamon fish I was working in the lab there as I was finishing my master’s degree because I was cutting bait getting my master’s and going to become a writer so I’d started writing essays. But still had to finish writing my master’s thesis and I had I was sending out essays places all the time. Yeah, and I talked about this some on Friday I think yeah that I had um. You know my ping pong method where I would send a story out I would have it at 3 places at a time which looking back on it I was really proud of my I’m really proud of myself that I did that it was a good way to do it by. Treating it like ping pong as soon as rejection comes in you send out another you, you deemphasize the importance of a rejection. All a rejection is is noticed that you need to send it out somewhere else. Um I’ve never been able to. Subscribe to the what seems to me overly perky advice like when people say every rejection you get put you that much closer to publication. Um I I never really got that one but it was a. You send it out. They send it back I could get behind the ping pong thing and I had my list of publications of the order that I wanted things published in organized um I sorted by different criteria.

Um I didn’t always know what I was doing for instance I did not understand I mentioned this on Friday when I was talking about trying to get that science fiction story published I didn’t understand the arcania of the science fiction and fantasy short fiction market. Which I now understand much better than I did then and yet I still find it. Um, arcane I guess I’m glad I’m a novelist. There’s it’s a very particular community. The short fiction market and I did not understand then. That there were ah the the qualifying markets that would qualify you for SFWA membership and people would submit to those first because that would be more likely to make them SFWA members and really it’s supposed to be that they paid pro rates and. Take this moment to do ah a little bit of a plug for so what? because what we’re doing is now that we’ve changed membership requirements. We’re creating a much more comprehensive scorecard for marketplaces that will take into account many more things than whether or not they pay per rates. Because just because a marketplace pays what we consider to be and really we need to change our lingo I need to do that too minimum pro rate minimum pro rate is ¢8 a word which is like you guys rock bottom I’ve talked about how you know like. And back in the day the glory days I got paid a dollar a word, a dollar a word and we’re calling minimum pro rates ¢8 a word that is a little bit differentlayer. Um, but I don’t know what voice that was so. We need to take into account the fact that even though marketplace may pay a sense a word that that doesn’t necessarily put food on the table right? which is really our goal we want writers to be paid. Professional rates. We want people to be able to make a living from their art and their craft. So. There are other things about marketplaces whether they are open to submissions. There are some marketplaces that say they’re open to submissions. But really, they only take. Stuff that they solicit or that come through agents not necessarily bad but it it is a factor in is this something that a writer can access. Um you know, like what kind of commitment. Do they have to to bipac.

Um, how responsive are they? what are their contract terms like how soon do they pay a market may promise to pay a minimum professional rate but drag their feet forever. They might try for right? Scraps. So these are all things that we want to take into account and we’re going to end up giving different markets scores and you know like the more they pay the higher they score they get. But also there’s other scores in there. And this short fiction committee has been working really hard on this and they’re amazing and eventually I would like to expand this out to novel markets and so forth and you know like even. Online retailers. What score would we give Amazon I mean we make the money there which ends up being like the make or break right? but responsiveness can be lacking although we do sapwa has an Amazon Liaison who has been very responsive I can email her and she has replied quickly. So so that’s something and that’s good to have for when we we saved that for when we need to escalate things. So anyway, um. Here I was back in the day sending out lots of short fiction pieces and to all kinds of markets and so I had sent the I had sent an essay to Wyoming wildlife and I don’t think I’d realized it at the time. But. Actually I was no longer working for game of fish I had been working for game and fish and was no longer because I had gotten this job as an editor writer with a petroleum group because I was building my writing chops and but the editor of the magazine Chris Madson didn’t realize that. And they had this policy where they did not pay department employees for articles and so imagine my surprise when David brought home the magazine because all employees got a free copy. Got a free subscription. And here was my essay by Jeffe Kennedy least correct by line this time called bullets and it was about me learning David teaching me how to shoot a ah gun which I didn’t want to learn how to do? Um, so.

Not only did they not pay me but I had no idea I was going to print it and this is this is an example of not a great marketplace right? because they and this happens sometimes magazines just they edit your story and they don’t tell you anything about it. So I ended up having to go to like the higher ups in game and fish and be like you know. Basically they stole my story and Chris Madson had to apologize and pay me I did get paid I don’t remember what I got paid. It may have been a dollar award because I was bringing out like all of the industry guns. They’re you know fighting for those rights even then right Um, and part of the concession part of the I know to make it up to me. Which I thought was funny so there was this guy who was um, his name was John Kennedy no relation unless it’s like way way back was I don’t remember what his title was but he was one of the higher ups in the agency part of it was is he said that they would agree to publish. Like 2 more essays from me to make up for this and so all I had to do was like send the ideas to Chris Manson who was like really pissed that he got called out on the carpet for doing this. It was a shitty thing to do. He should have never done that in the first place but he was really mad to get caught. And that he’d made the mistake you know I think he thought I was an employee so he could just publish it and do whatever the hell he wanted so you are all storytellers I assume or you would not be story. Readers. You would not be listening to this podcast I bet you can guess where this story is going. Yes I I never published another thing with that magazine I sent Chris all kinds of essay ideas and he ignored ignored me entirely and I had told John Kennedy that this would happen and he’s like oh I don’t think so but he also didn’t care once he dealt with the problem and came up with the solution. He um, moved on with his life. Um, but it’s interesting because it’s one of the ways that um. Publishing I’m trying to think of um, the analogy for this though but like every industry takes advantage of the creators as much as they can. We know all these stories about you know, like the um, the movie companies.

Having their stables of actors and controlling their actors lives and you know you see the biopics on that like about Judy Garland and that sort of thing we know things about like the record companies and how they use the talent and try to control the talent and. The same thing happens in the publishing world traditional publishing from short fiction markets to the publishers who don’t put the books out in the world. They they will take advantage of the creator as much as possible. And it’s not It’s not always malicious and in fact I think a lot of them would would protest me saneness and I may get protests about this because they will say no that they. They love their writers. They love their creators without their creators. They wouldn’t have content and they understand this and they know this but the thing is is that they are also in business they are doing this thing because it’s a business for them and so yes, they need the content and they love the content but they’re not. Doing this out of the goodness of their heart now I will caveat this that there are some short fiction markets in particular that and even some small presses that are doing in out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re also struggling because they yeah you know there but there I’m not being articulate, um, a lot of them are struggling because they’re trying to do their best but they aren’t necessarily um, doing as well as the cutthroat ones which is ironic right? So what’s the what’s the solution here. What are we talking about? ah. I think it’s that being your own champion that you just have to be ready to fight for yourself. Um, you know if we go to the the rock band example one of the things that we we can see in the movies that we know that happens is that the rock bands get out there and they’re. They’re partying I mean it’s a really difficult schedule. You know they’re going from place to place and they’re clock shifted and they’re partying hard and they’re encouraged to party and very often they are. Everything’s deducted from what they’re making I have a. Friend who dated a member of Dokken remember them back in the day and he like failed to pay taxes for a lot of years and he got levied these enormous fines and blew all his money in.

Much later was like living in his mother’s sewing room. He had nothing left. So the thing is is that you don’t there’s never an excuse to not be smart about your business practices and I think that the business minded people know this about creators is that creators. Are not necessarily business minded. We don’t want to be right? But if we did. We’d be in business right? But you got to learn, you’ve got to be ready to fight for your rights and you have to be ready to you know to get mean with people you know and not all of us like to do that either. But you have to keep in mind that if they can take advantage of you. It’s usually to their benefit to do so my nose is so itchy today. That’s why I keep pausing I’m sure it’s like the allergy thing getting pollen itches. So you know I guess the other message I have here is that I didn’t have any way to leverage Wyoming wildlife or wyoming game and fish after that point once I had signed that agreement. There was no no further penalty. And really I didn’t have a whole lot of leverage to begin with other than threatening to expose them. You know it was ah that’s often. The only recourse we have against these groups or companies or corporations right? is. To make them look bad to threaten their sales. That’s the only thing they really care about getting fish is a government agency so it was a little bit different there. Um, but ultimately they have the ability to resist and so. That’s what we have to do as creators. That’s why we have organizations like se to be able to band together to create that leverage and to support each other so that’s and death the sermon I suppose. Ah, yeah I don’t think I have anything else to talk about today I hope that you all have a wonderful Tuesday and I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

Jeffe’s Furry Editors

First things first: the Romancing the Vote auction is live! I’m offering six months of author coaching to the winning bidder and the bids are climbing! This is an important cause and tons of great stuff from all kinds of wonderful industry folks. Go forth and bid!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is an homage to our furry editors. I have two, my Maine coon cat buddies:

Isabel, who specializes in floof and loving. She is not entirely helpful, so far as keyboard access is involved, but she’s the best at purring companionship. Total win.

I took this picture today. Jackson visits my writing desk daily, politely sitting to the side of the keyboard (win!) and staring at me until I pet him (not ideal). Observers have accused him of whispering the books into my ear. I will neither confirm nor deny. I can only say that, as a ghostwriter, he works pretty cheap.

The Year That Time Changed

Jackson, dramatically posing at sunset.

I had a funny thought this morning, as I decided what clothes to put on. Not that this should be any kind of decision worth the mental energy. When I’m at home writing, which is most of the time, I wear pretty much the same thing every day with minor variations. Today I decided to wear a white tshirt with a lion’s face picked out in rhinestones. It’s a fun summer shirt and I always get a bit of shiny feeling wearing it. I’m also a stickler for putting away white clothing after labor day. (Don’t @ me on this. I like rituals that define seasons and special holidays.) So, it felt like a treat to put it on today, along with some shorts, and I thought “Wow, it seems like I’ve been waiting for summer to get here and now it’s almost over.”

Neither of which is true, so I don’t know where that thought came from.


Time has always been a weird thing for me, how it changes speed depending on what I’m doing. The COVID-19 pandemic has really changed the flow of time in odd ways. At first, during lockdown, things felt like they slowed to a crawl, even though my daily life wasn’t much different. When my folks visited for two weeks, that time flew by – we were having fun! – and now it’s slowed again.

I alternate in my mindset, too. One day I’m missing travel – the beach! – and the next I’m rubbing my hands with glee over the unbroken months ahead in which to write All The Things. I mourn the fun events that got canceled, and all the suffering the pandemic has brought, but I’ve also watched spring emerge with a close attention I’ve never been home enough to pay attention to before. I think that’s why it’s felt like summer arrived so slowly, day by day unfolding. My first morning glory bloomed today – which is early, as they often don’t bloom until the end of August – so I’m looking forward to months more of gorgeous blossoms.

I’m hopeful, for the vaccine we’ll likely have by December, for a change in the political climate, for so many things.

When we look back on 2020, I wonder how long it will seem.