First Cup of Coffee – August 12, 2022

On writing the thing you believe in, how inspiration and survivorship bias play into the tales we share about doing this, along with thoughts on the Women Who Rock documentary (excellent!) and taking control of your own career.




Transcript
00:01.75
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:14.75
jeffekennedy
Delicious. Ah today is sit it with me Friday Woo Woo woo August Twelfth Eight Twelve Twenty Twenty Two so end of another week. Hello mosquito. Ha so here. We are I’ve I’ve had a good week. Um I am um within striking distance of oh I didn’t open it yet. Of my 10,000 words for the week which makes me happy because I’m happy. Um, yeah and I met a little shy of 54,000 words on the book. 8085 this week. So ah I have no wood to knock on does a great vine count? Um I think I should hit 10,000 for the week which is good because I’m traveling the next four weekends in a row. Which hopefully will not disrupt my productivity but we’ll see we’ll see she’ll be in good shape. Um I have committed to the release date did the cover reveal. For shadow wizard yesterday woo. So I’m putting it on the show notes today. It will be everywhere now I was experimenting with the Nine Square grid on Instagram and it looks really cool now that it’s all assembled. I did the gradual release like little bits at a time on Instagram and I think I don’t think that did anything ah very few likes throughout the day. Lots of likes overnight once the whole thing was assembled. So yeah. towhee agrees. Ah, you know, maybe you know like the bits and pieces are just not that interesting besides which Instagram only wants reals these days. So ah. I’m not sure I would do it that same way again. But I do like how the cover looks on the Nine Square grid it means that I have to be really careful. What I post to Instagram now because if I do one, it’ll like shift it and break it up so I have to do like three or nothing so that it stays.

03:04.68
jeffekennedy
Ah, the travails. But yeah, ah it was fun to see people immediately start pre-ordering. Thank you! Ah excited for you all to read this book. It’s all good and tomorrow morning we are. Flying to Las Vegas Nevada not driving an hour north to Las Vegas New Mexico and um we’re going to go see Celeste Barber very excited and going with good friends Megan and Charlie so it should be. Ah, good party. We should have a great time low party weekend so there will not be a podcast on Monday morning. Sorry mom because we’ll be flying back that morning I suppose I could do like a super sleepy. From the Las Vegas airport podcast but let’s face it. We know I’m not going to so the big challenge for me will be to see if I can get 2000 words on that Monday that’s my. Personal challenge I hope that I can I might try on the airplane to at least get it started maybe at the airport to sort of get it rolling I’m definitely noticing a pattern lately. You know I get most of my words in that third hour some days it’s pretty even the 3 hours but especially this week like my first hour will be pretty crappy and then the second hour a little better and then I’ll get like 1200 words in the third hour so so it goes but I’m I’m happy with the results of going for 2000 words a day instead of 3,000 words a day I am out I kicked my legs up and sort of hit the under circle in the table. Ouch who? ah. When I was doing 3,000 words a day I would definitely notice the mental drain at the end of the day and I would or at the end of writing and I wouldn’t have bandwidth for much else. So 2000 words a day gives me reasonable bandwidth for.

05:34.85
jeffekennedy
Dealing with business dealing with ah SFWA stuff. We did our business meeting yesterday and it was I think it went well seemed to go well, it was funny because we’re doing it on Zoom and so the board is on chat with each other reminding each other of things and so forth and. Somebody pointed out that we have the eternal ah ah difference of whether people say sifwa or sefwa I tended to be more of a sefwa person until someone commented on it I said I thought that’s what it was supposed to be but we can’t agree and I said well at least it’s not an argument like Gif versus Gif which of course then immediately started. The I cannot believe that there are people out there who want to pronounce it Gif and director at large Monica Valentinelli said. Well did you know that the creator came out and said it’s supposed to be pronounced chiff and I said yes, but he’s wrong which she was like well what do you mean? I’m like he’s just wrong. It’s it’s not it’s graphics interchange format. You don’t suddenly change the graph part to jiff. Very rarely is a leading g pronounced with a ju sound instead of a good sound so and besides Jif is already a peanut butter but executive director Kate Baker says that she is a jif kind of girl. I just can’t even so I was thinking about something ah amazingly enough I’ve just finished reading a book by Brigid Kemmerer. Think she says Brigid with a hard g we’re going to go with that since theme of this episode and she could be bridgegitte. But I think it’s Brigid Kemmerer. Ah, and I read her book a curse so dark and lonely which is ah why a fantasy romance kind. There’s not a lot of romance and it’s the one that I alluded to yesterday when I was saying that you don’t have to have hot sex. Um, in fact, there’s no sex on or off page in this book. Um, the closest it gets is a kiss and ah. Yeah, so which normally is kind of a deal breaker for me twilight was an exception because there was so much sexual tension there while it was perfectly chased and I really enjoyed that about it. Um, this one.

08:22.63
jeffekennedy
I just really enjoyed the book I thought it was um, a really interesting take on beauty and the beast and I totally enjoyed the story. So and I read it because ah Brigand was at Apollycon and a few tables down for me. And she was a ticketed author because she had so many people wanting to get their books signed. Ah so she had pretty much you know nonstop line and I didn’t get to meet her that was one thing. Several people asked me about Apollycon. If. We um, you know like if I talked to such and so were meant so such and so on I was like you know we didn’t really have opportunities to mingle. Ah, when the authors were all present in a place we were doing the signings and you. Really couldn’t leave your table for long because there were so many people wanting to come which was great. Ah, and then there weren’t any events that were just for the authors which I am going to suggest that they add I hope that they will. Yeah I was just thinking that David asked for our feedback for but they may not want our feedback I might just um, have to message. So. Ah I also think that they’re not getting some of my emails because I send from that http://jeffiekennedy.com email which tends to go to spam. It’s one of the things about having your own domain. That’s a spammo spmoific. So I was just thinking about I should give them my super secret email address. For people I actually want to hear from anyway. Ah so yeah, I was you know like oh I’ve never heard of Brigid Kemmerer and Jennifer Estep next to me said because we would chat during our lulls our rare lulls. She said how can you have not heard of her she was like Kensington at the same time we were and I was like oh know and she said well that she’d really like this book a curse so dark and lonely and it it was great. It was really good. So um, and I’m now reading the sequel a heart so fierce and broken. Interested to see how that goes there was a love triangle in the first book and it’s kind of being carried into the next book and I’m I’m actually good with this one I don’t usually like love triangles. But I like this one anyway in the acknowledgements Brigid says. Ah.

11:01.88
jeffekennedy
That she wrote this book because her husband said to her. It was a real dark point in her life. She’d been depressed and her husband asked her when was the last time that she wrote something um that was just for her that she enjoyed and. And she and you know that she wasn’t under contract to write and and she realized it been a long time so she wrote this book just for her and then it’s really has been the thing that launched her this has made her famous. Which great for her and it’s interesting because of course Apollycon is belongs to Jennifer L Armentrout oh here comes Isabelle affectionately known as JLA which is much easier and. She did this you know fantasy romance series recently? Um, which I always forget the name because now there’s so many Knockoffs but you know heart of blood and ash or whatever it is um, you all know right vampires and werewolves ah that traditional publishing wouldn’t take then. Said that they didn’t see at a point to it and now she’s done it with um the girls who do 1001 dark nights. So it’s sort of like a little startup press. Ah, it’s like one step different from self-publishing which is interesting. You know that we’ve got all these sort of. Phases of you know it’s no longer just traditional publishing or vanity press. There’s all of these different um levels of publishing self publishing and assisted publishing. Um, so um.

12:57.93
jeffekennedy
Jennifer has spoken a number of times about how she really wanted to write this series and traditional publishing didn’t want it and she wanted to write it anyway. So she did and how much it meant her and now it’s been phenomenally successful. So. And these are interesting stories to tell ourselves and it’s funny I’d already written down a note to talk about this when David told me a story just as I was making my coffee to come out here. He said that um this gal in a. Group that he follows that like does is into online gambling stuff and he said how that she woke up from a dream that she won a jackpot of $1000000 and so she got up and she went and played $40 on 1 of the online slots games. And so so there’s a correlation here right? We we love to tell these stories. Ah, you know she woke up from the dream that she won the jackpot she went and played $40 and she won the jackpot. Um. Brigid and JLA ah wrote the book of their heart. They wrote wrote the thing that they really wanted to write there was Isabella in the background rooting around oh and actually peeing sorry but she loves a little al fresco. Opportunity I’m glad she is at least discreetly shrouded by the vegetation Isabel fell. there’s ah there’s a lot of um, gritty reality here at first cup of coffee. So and and I feel like she’s ruined my my carefully assembled story right? Oh now she’s okay hold on it turned out. She was prepping her spot and so I spared you all the actual display. You’re welcome at least if you’re on video. So the thing is these are all examples of survivorship bias because we never tell the reverse story. Um, we do not tell the story. If the woman woke up in the middle of the night from a dream that she won a jackpot went and played her $40 and lost it all. She does not get online and told this story because it’s a non story right? same is true for writing that book.

15:44.57
jeffekennedy
That we long to write. That’s the book of our heart or that you know everybody says oh we don’t know what we’re going to do with it. We write that book. We love that book. We decide to self-publish it and it goes nowhere. It’s not a story. The exception being. The gal that I talked about yesterday who shared online how her self-publishing experience did not go well that she spent yeah $10000 and made about $750 and how that is. Ah, thing that happens so at that point it becomes a story but it’s not the story. We want to hear right? We love a story like Brigid Kemmerer or jla where they persevered wrote the thing that they wanted to write that. Well. Brigid soldiers to traditional publishing so that’s a different tale right? But you know and then it does really well and we love that we love that vindication. The triumph of the thing that no one wanted and then it does really really well and ah, it’s It’s a wonderful kind of story it and it inspires us and it keeps us going which is something that we need and do not get me wrong because I love hearing Jennifer talk about that story I’ve heard her give the speech a couple of different times. And it is it came for me at a time when I really needed to hear it. Um I don’t know why I’m a little horse this morning but a horse is a horse of course of course. Ah, um, yeah. The first time I heard it came at a time when I needed to hear that and and it helped me put dark wizard out there which definitely was a story for me that way where it was slightly different for those of you who haven’t heard me talk about it before. Dark wizard was a story that I had been mulling for a very long time. Um I mostly just hadn’t gotten around to writing it. However, because I was busy with other things and I also wasn’t sure how I was going to execute it when I told my agent about the idea she loved it. Ah, when I showed her initial pages. She loved it and then when I finished writing the book. She no longer loved it and she did not want to take it out on submission because she said she didn’t know any editor that would want to buy it.

18:27.73
jeffekennedy
And but the difference for me. There was is I had lots of other people who did love it everybody else who read it frickin love this book and including people you know who will tell me the truth. So. And then it did very well when I self-published it and it helped to hear Jennifer’s story and then I heard it again me because I asked her to give the same talk to my local Rw a chapter and and I enjoyed hearing it again then because it does. Help to hear these stories of people persevering of writing the thing that they want to write. It’s a difficult business if you’re not writing the thing you want to write. It’s perilously close to not being worth it. But. There are lots and lots of times that we write the thing we want to write and it does not do phenomenally well and that doesn’t make it any less worth it because we still have to write the thing we want to write that’s. Part of being creative. Um, and I’m getting low on time but I still want to touch on this. We watch this four part documentary on Amazon prime called women who rock highly Highly. Recommend. This documentary It’s incredibly well done. It really traces the history of women and rock as built starting from you know like Gospel and the girl bands of the 50 s and sixty s all the way up to present. And by the time they get to ah more recent times. There’s just way too many to touch on but they have interviews with lots of women some are throughout the whole thing like Nancy Wilson from heart Pat Benatar and they talk about how difficult it. Difficult it was in the beginning and there’s this. It’s wonderfully put together because there’s this chain of people reflecting on their influences so you have the people coming up and talking about listening to Nancy and Anne Wilson or listening to Pat Benatar and practicing the chords listening to those women and being inspired by them and then the older women talking about seeing the younger ones coming up and it’s wonderful with the connectedness and the women helping women and talking about how difficult it was in the industry show crow is in it.

21:15.19
jeffekennedy
Bunch of people are in Shania Twain Chakka Khan ah, other ones I was not familiar with Mavis just Mavis I can’t think of what her last name is from the old Gospel days. Um, and one theme that emerges. And David and I – I think I’ve mentioned before that watching stories about musicians is a great Venn diagram will overlap for both of us because he loves music and musicians and I love the creative aspects so we love it when we can find shows like this but I was pointing out to him and he was agreeing because I’m right. Over and over they would mention having to take control of their own careers having to that you can’t rely on anyone else to do this thing for you that you have to take control of your own career and make it be the thing you want. And I think that’s very true of all creative enterprises that as I often say nobody will ever love your book as much as you do and it’s um I think it’s probably true of of all creative enterprises that. You are the one who will care about it most and if you don’t care about it then it’s not worth it. So on that note I will leave you looking forward to seeing Celeste Barber Standup act tomorrow night and I will talk to you all on. Tuesday you all take care bye bye.

Wuv. Twue Wuv


David and I have been talking about the nature of love, lately.

I think I’ve mentioned it, in reference to other conversations. But this, of course, is the WEEKEND OF LOVE, what with Valentine’s Day and all. The mentions of it have become truly relentless.

Two of the gals David goes to school with asked him what he’s doing for me for Valentine’s. Another took him aside to ask what she should get for her guy that he would like. It’s funny: at 50, David is everyone’s father figure. He gave her good advice though. He suggested some things I’d done for him that he liked and she was pleased.

I told David, though, that I don’t really want anything for Valentine’s this year. It just seems silly. (Plus, I hadn’t been thinking about getting him anything!) David said he’d tried to explain that to the gals who asked, that doing something for each other on a particular day seems kind of false after so many years together. Whereas last week I was feeling sad and friendless (woe is me) and had a little crying jag at bedtime. And he was sweet to me and comforted me. That meant the world. More than flowers and candy on the designated day.

It occurs to me that Valentine’s Day meant much more to me when I didn’t have a special someone. I recall the agonies in school, wondering if I would get a carnation from someone besides my best friend. I’d watch the cheerleaders walk around with their buckets of tributes and wonder when someone would love me. Later, in college and grad school, when I was more often single than not, I would be fine with what I was doing, until Valentine’s Day rolled around to remind me that I was alone.

Otherwise I never felt alone.

Now that I have David, who is so central to my life, I don’t find that Valentine’s Day validates anything. In some ways, it’s just for show. Send me flowers so I can prove to the world that I’m loved.

The funny thing is, when you love and are truly loved in return? You don’t have to demonstrate it to anyone.

Glass Houses


I woke up this morning thinking about my North Carolina family.

And no, this isn’t their house. This is the house in Rogers, Texas, where my maternal great-grandmother grew up. We have some Southern on both sides.

I don’t seem to have any digital pictures of my North Carolina family — my dad’s family. This is because I haven’t seen them since I’ve owned a digital camera. We aren’t close, I suppose you’d say.

We used to be. Or, rather, I thought we were. After my dad died when I was three, my mom and I moved to Denver. My grandparents, though, continued to be a huge part of my life, with gifts, cards and regular phone calls. My Uncle Rocky was quite a bit younger than my dad had been. By the time I was paying my regular summer visit to my grandparents, Rocky had met and married Beth. First Josh was born, when I was 12, and then Gaven a few years later.

I’d always thought of myself as close to them. In a role-reversal, I now showered them with Christmas presents. And I didn’t mind that my grandparents now had other grandchildren to love and pet — ones right there, too. They told me that they loved me at the end of phone calls. That I was in their prayers. They came out to visit Denver once, to see the Air Force Academy and my dad’s grave. I went back to visit a number of times over the years.

The last visit was when Grandmother was dying. Grandad had died a few years before, quietly, just as he’d lived.

I would say things changed after that, but I know it’s really that I just see things more clearly now.

When people say you’re in their prayers, they don’t always mean that in a nice way. Over time, I came to understand that they see me as godless. I’ve been judged and found wanting. I first realized it when Beth wouldn’t let David and I share a bed in their house, though we owned a house together and had been together for years at that point. I suppose I knew in an abstract way that some people are bothered by the living in sin thing. It’s always been a bit of a joke to me since, so far as I can tell, a blessing by God or the Government provides no guarantee of joy to a union.

After that, I noticed I didn’t get invited to weddings or graduations. Not even announcements.

The only one I really talk to much anymore is Gaven, who chatted me up on FaceBook. He told me he reread my book and felt like he got more out of it the second time, since he was more grown up. A flattering thing to say, because it makes me imagine there are depths to what I wrote. Then he said he wanted to read my new novel. I said sure, but warned him it contains sex and magic and pagan things. He’s studying to be a pastor, to the great joy of his family. I wonder who he’s really doing it for.

He and I haven’t really communicated since that conversation. A planned meeting when I was in his neighborhood abruptly fell through.

I suspect I’m firmly in the Bad Influence category.

Sometimes I wonder about love. My grandparents loved their tragically deceased son, so their love for me was all the greater for that, the last vestige of him. I think Rocky’s love was similar — an extension of the love and loss tied to his brother, stewed with resentment and regret. The boys, well, they loved me as children do. An exotic cousin from the West. Perhaps it’s only natural that they grow up and move on. And I’m not really part of their family. Maybe Grandmother’s death dissolved that last link.

I wonder, too, about religion. I just don’t remember it being such a big deal when I was younger. Now, for some people, it’s everything. It’s us or them.

And here I thought it was supposed to be about love. Faith, hope and love. But isn’t the greatest supposed to be love?

The Kennedy Lending Library


Did I mention?

I spent the last couple of weekends finishing going through the moving boxes and bins. Oh yes, I totally mentioned this, in light of my darling man’s bin o’bullets.

So, it was really last Sunday, this Saturday and part of this Sunday. That I spent dealing with the garage and all in it. But I’ve now been through every box and bin, extracted what I wanted, bookshelved the books that need to be out in the world and re-stored the rest.

Thus I restored the deserving to the shelves and re-stored the rest.

Hey, at least I amuse myself.

Why, you ask, was this so important, what with Christmas shopping, decorating, tree-trimming, menu-planning and baking to conduct?

I was tired of empty bookshelves.

It’s a whole-house thing. People are coming to stay for Christmas and my house wasn’t yet totally together. Right: because my bookshelves were empty.

So I got them all out. Sorted all my books into piles. By priority of love. By author. And I decided who I needed to have out, readily available and who could live in boxes in the garage. Yes, for those of you who like to give me grief about my lists, I’m making a database, with box numbers, for the books in storage. Just a few short, sweet steps away.

See, in the old house, I had a full wall of built-in bookshelves. Plus a bookshelf in my office, one in David’s office and one in the basement. The Annex, doncha know. I also kept a literal wooden chest in the dressing room that was my TBR pile. It was my TBR treasure chest.

Did I mention the new house has no storage?

No basement. No attic. Just an oversized two-car garage with shelves. We have one “small” built-in bookshelf and three portable bookshelves we moved, including the annex bookshelf. They absorbed more than I thought.

At a guesstimate, two-thirds of our books are “out.” Which isn’t bad.

How I chose ended up being like love. Oh yes, I first I tried to be methodical: which books do I regularly reference? Which topics will I be writing about, mulling over, nostagically wanting to revisit in the near future?

And what about the vistor/vanity aspect? I found myself evaluating which books might be on the shelves that would say something about me. Which led to which books might I mention, over dinner, say, that someone would want to borrow?

In the end, as love always does, it came down to what I like having near. I don’t care what anyone else might think. Even though I might not re-read Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight series in the near future (make no mistake: I’m now seriously contemplating it), I have it on the shelf. As I have had since I was, oh, twelve, thirteen, something like that. And because I couldn’t let any of her other books feel bad, they’re all out, too.

Yes, I have everything she’s ever written.

Which is also true of my other great loves. A.S. Byatt, Ann Patchett. Orson Scott Card, Mercedes Lackey, Jacqueline Carey, Diana Gabaldon, Margaret Atwood. They all have their space on my limited shelves.

It’s a kind of homage, really.

And maybe that’s what I realized, in doing this. That the likelihood of my opening and referencing the book has nothing to do with it. I like seeing them there. Just like I like to see the art on the walls, hear the music on the cd player and watch the sun set outside.

It’s enough to set my juices humming.

Natural Causes

An old college friend sent me a FaceBook request the other day. This isn’t unusual – I’ve only been “on” FaceBook for a couple of months now and I’ve been receiving a lot of “friend requests.” For the uninitiated, you have to be officially friends with someone for them to view your FaceBook information. You can find people you know through groups like your high school or college or what have you. When you find someone you know, you send a request that they add you as a friend. Once you’re friends, you can look at their list of friends and see if there’s anyone you know and want to add. Several people I haven’t talked to in twenty years have found me and it’s been fun to catch up. This person, who contacted me the other day: not so much.

I’m surprised she wanted to “friend” me. She has refused to see or talk to me for years. Before that, when we did communicate, she acted mean. Inserted little digs about me. Made herself generally disagreeable by doing pissy things.

I’m not stupid. I can take a hint – eventually. When only her husband (both were good friends – I introduced them) returned my voice message and wanted to visit with me when I was last in town, I asked him what her problem was. He said I’d have to take it up with her. I said, no, it was her anger, thus incumbent on her to bring it to me. Later, he sent me a very cold letter. Like I said, it takes me a while, but I’m not an idiot. I wrote them off as no longer friends of mine.

Three years later, she asks to be my FaceBook friend. I stared at the choices: Accept or Ignore. So far, in a rush of bonhomie, I’d accepted everyone, even friends of friends, who I haven’t met. I’ve friended people in high school who wouldn’t have noticed me in the school hallways. Why she wanted this friendship when she’d thrown the real one away, I didn’t know. Except that I know some people track their count of friends: at last a score for social connectedness. But I’d made my decision about her place in my life long ago. I clicked Ignore.

I’m thinking about this as I fly to North Carolina, place of my father’s birth. And, coincidentally, his death, nearly 40 years ago. My grandparents are gone, but his brother still lives there, along with his wife and two adult sons. In years past, when I’ve traveled to the area, we’ve met for dinner. I went out for a family reunion a few years ago. This time, I haven’t called. The last contact I had was went my uncle emailed me a photo of my younger cousin’s college graduation, though I received no other announcement. I called my cousin to offer my congratulations. I mailed him a card with a generous check. Cashed without a word.

I’m no longer part of their world, as I was when the boys were younger. As I was before both sons decided to devote themselves to ministry. Before my aunt made it clear how much she disapproved of my godless lifestyle. The part of me that’s still 12 years old, is stunned that they don’t seem to love me anymore.

I suppose it’s part of life, the pruning back of connections. People can be friends for a while and the friendship can die, or be cut away. Family members move in different directions. It’s maybe one of the great lies of love, that it cannot die. Love dies just as we do, from neglect and starvation, from disease, from critical trauma. No matter the venue, death arrives. In the end, they’re all natural causes. And nature can be cruel.