First Cup of Coffee – July 14, 2022

A long, involved saga of internet and cellular data woes, including multiple interactions with service providers, three trips to the store, two lightning storms, and one coincidence so incredible that I blame Thor.

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Um, delicious today is Thursday July fourteenth halfway through July race and ride along I don’t know is this like summer syndrome. Ah delicious. So. Um I have had just how do I describe it. It’s it’s just been an epic few days and in some ways it began a couple of weeks ago with ah a storm it is monsoon season here. And New Mexico I’ve mentioned a number of times which is fabulous because it means rain we are most grateful everything is green. Um, it’s incredibly incredibly important to get these monsoon rains. It’s when we get most of our moisture. However, with rain. Often comes lightning and a couple of weeks ago. We had a storm where we were getting this gorgeous rain and a lightning bolt hit nearby and it was one of those ones where you know like when the lightning cracks right? overhead and makes you kind of. Just jump out of your skin and this one was particularly shocking because we hadn’t had the normal lead up. You know, like normally you can like hear the storm getting closer and closer and the thunder is ah coming faster after the lightning cracks and so you can count and. You know the the childhood game of counting. Ah you know, basically knowing the difference between speed of light and speed of sound and how close that lightning is getting well. We didn’t get any of that. Um, even though there had been like some lightning and thunder in the distance. All of a sudden we had this. Crack right? overhead. Um that you know like everything went really bright I was like whoa and we’d already had things unplugged but it knocked out our internet and we got texts from. Xfinity saying ah internet is out. We’re working on repairing it. Um, they didn’t get it fixed until this was already like um I don’t know seven-thirty Eight o’clock at night and they didn’t get it fixed till like 4 in the morning but it came back up and you know.

Hoay. But then our internet just wasn’t the same again. It was um, slow our you know we kept it kept dropping. We had to keep rebooting the router. Um, it would be unstable. You know like in Zoome. Your internet is unstable. Um, so I’d gotten on with an xfinity ah helper person on chat who was great and we were we were on for like an hour and a half and she ended up like upgrading our internet we got faster internet. Um. She like cleared clean things up I don’t know what they do when they clean things up but she cleaned things up and she um when I complained I said ah she said that she could actually get us a better plan where we’d be paying like $10 less a month I said that would be great because we’d already spent like. $30 on cell phone overage charges because we hadn’t had that internet I think we finished watching a movie that night which we were feeling profiglet. Um because you know was like well use our cell data so a bit of background to this. Is we have had this plan that is a very old plan capital V Capital O Capital P Very old plan with ah Verizon which did not have unlimited data but it was it was inexpensive. And Verizon kept trying to get me to switch to unlimited data and I’d looked at it a couple of times but every plan change would have us paying like one ah hundred dollars more a month and we were paying like every time we went. A gigabyte over or four gigabytes over um on our allow allotted data allowance. It was costing us $15 so even on some months when we like. It was mostly if we were traveling if we were on a road trip and we wanted to play music or something like that we would use data and it would you know everyone’s why we would have like $60 in over its charges but it was still you know made more sense financially than $100 more every month. So we were using this cellular data overage I mentioned to the xfinity gal. Oh well, you know with like $30 in overage charges. So be nice to have less on our plan and she said oh well let me credit you $30 so that was lovely.

She even said by the time we finished and everything was really working great that she said that I was one of the nicest customers that she had dealt with all day and she really appreciated that I got that twice in a couple of days and I thought are they saying that to make me feel good or am I really nicer. Most David thinks it’s because I’m nicer than most people. Um, maybe it’s I’m I’m not generally and a nice person. Maybe I am I don’t know. But um I can be very forceful about getting what I want but what I’m dealing with. Customer service people like that on chats are on the phone. You know it’s it’s never their fault. It’s it’s never their problem that things are not okay I thought it was showing weird connection speaking of um. You know? So. There’s no reason not to be kind to them. You know, working in those call centers sucks. They’re always just doing the best that they can every once while if they’re not listening and they’re just going through their script then I will get pointed about it. So anyway. We’d come away thinking aha success on the internet’s working well well reader it was not working well it continued to the grade we were rebooting the router many times a day. The router was getting really hot. It was um. Just not. It wasn’t up to speed. You know all of these things lagging dropping signal so I was doing a little bit of research on this I thought I’d have to get on with Xfinity but we decided that probably what we needed was a new rubber. So. On um, we’ll see today’s Thursday so on Tuesday David went and because our router was you know they they start getting old and I was concerned that it was so hot. It’s always a bad sign so he went and got a new router which. Cost like $200 I was a little shocked it was that expensive. Ah, but he came home with the new router and he ah installed it and got it working in time for um, oh just a couple things that we were doing whatever. Um, and so we had it was like installed by like two or three o’clock and it was great internet was perfect it was solid this was clearly the great solution everything was going fabulous and um, we were all pleased. It’s like problem solved then we can move on with our lives.

Ah, it’s amazing to me how integral having internet is now but wait. There’s more so storm rolls in that evening and it’s starting to rain and I’m very happy because we’d had a couple of storms come through that hadn’t produced any rain so I was like hooray rain and then. Can you believe it all is sudden crack this massive lightning bolt and I saw it from the kitchen window like it went down and I don’t know where it hit but it hit close and you know instantaneous crack of sound and David was in the kitchen cooking dinner. Like a good man and he just about jumped out of his skin and we were like whoa and ah and it fried our new router it fried the new router it stopped working. What are the odds what are the odds I mean that’s like like Thor coming after me personally. So we um. Best buy didn’t open until Eleven Wednesday morning till the next morning so we used cellular data to do work stuff. Um have both both writing and SFWA stuff. And so we start burning the cellular data and I told David because this happened again at like 7 or 8 at night I was going to go to bed and read and but you know he has parkinson’s disease. He doesn’t always sleep well and he’s very restless at night and I said you know. If you want to watch movies or whatever tonight. Um, go ahead and use the cell data. So I wake up in the morning to like another $30 worth of over its charges but you know what can you do and I do. Stuff that morning pretty much without internet. Fortunately, it’s Wednesday which is my blog day I ended up not blogging at all I thought I could do it later in the day but I didn’t get to it. Um, so apologies there if you were looking for a blog post. Ah fortunately no podcast. Tuesday morning I used cell data to do the podcast to ah, record it and to upload it which that burned a lot of data. It’s funny because it it reminds me of that quote. Um.

Which there’s some question of like whether or not it’s apocryphal. Ah, apparently bill gates denied ever saying this but then they found evidence that he did that in a 1985 article. April 20, 1985 issue of info world that bill gates said when we set the upper limits of pc dos at six hundred and Forty k we thought nobody would ever need that much memory. It just amuses me when I’m like burning. Ah, gigabytes of data at a time I could tell you like how much we went through I’m not sure it matters. But oh yeah, like our overage got up to $120 for eight gigabytes um so we had considered lying about the router right? when David was going to take it back. We were like well we could just say you know I mean we didn’t didn’t even have it 24 hours that we could just say oh well, it didn’t work so we need to exchange it. And we decide that that would be wrong that that would be unfair. Ah and so he took the router back and he explained to the best buy person what had happened and and they just said oh sounds like you need to exchange it. So fortunately, we were not out. An additional $200 for this router. So David comes home with the router. Um I’ve pretty much got my words done I had to give a class for the clarion folks. The clarion writathon folks at two o’clock my time. Ah, hello to any of you who may have tuned in today normally I talk about writing more but today’s the epic story of our internet and loss thereof. It’s it’s a variable feast here at first cup of coffee. You just never know what you’re going to get. So I by now it’s like David got home at like noon and so we’re trying to set up the router and I figure it’s going to go fast right? because we’ve done it once already we’d know how to you know we’ve done the drill the day before even though David handled most of it and so. We get it all set up and it won’t connect. There’s no internet. It does connect it says connected. No internet. So I finally get on with an Xfinity person and because I can’t do chat.

Because we don’t have internet right? and I don’t want to try typing on my phone and I’m trying not to use the cell data to power my laptop so it and it really was a lot of effort to talk to a person on the phone like even while I’m on the waiting. For to get somebody to come on. They’re like sending me text saying click this text to have a chat I’m like no I talk to a person finally get on with a person. He tries bunch of times tries to help me um, resets it and. It will not connect. There is nothing there and he says we have to send somebody out to your house because there’s there’s something wrong. Um that like the internet data is not making it to the Router. So and of course they can’t send somebody until Friday. So two more days so I’m just like fuck my life. Whatever I can live so I’d hope to have internet back in time to do this clarion class I did not so I ran it on cell data. Did my laptop on connected to the hotspot did the class. It was fun if any of you were listening. It was really fun chatting with you all? Um, we can talk more about the heroine’s journey versus the hero’s journey. Ah, but um. I I don’t know maybe I should read Gail’s book anyway that’s a side conversation. So um, finish that I have like half an hour before I have a meeting for SFWA and so I do that via Discord and. You know I’m watching like getting the messages from Verizon telling me about my overages and so right before I get on this meeting with SFWA I decide. Okay I I cannot be stubborn on this any longer I go to Verizon I pick the cheapest plan I can with unlimited data. It’s still going to cost us like $100 more a month I’m griping about it. But um, at this point it’s just got to be done right? And also I’m noticing for the first time that apparently like we could go to nine gigabytes of overage. But. And we’ve already used like 8.4 and I’m thinking oh it’s not unlimited overage I mean I can’t just keep shelling out otherwise I might have done. It. Also I had gotten a message from Verizon recently. Ah, where they’d said that they were.

Absolutely making my Very Old Plan go away and I was gonna have to change anyway. So I was like all right capitulate have to change so I go in and I change it on the website and I figure. Okay, it’s fine. So I’m in the middle of this meeting and it’s like started at for It’s like 4:45 and all of a sudden internet just drops I have nothing I’m kicked out of the meeting. Ah and my phone has not only no cell data but I can’t even use it to make calls. Says oh you can make emergency calls only um and but actually I’m sorry I left out a little piece of this story I changed it before the meeting but then during the meeting I got another notice for an overage charge and I was like what the heck. So as we’re talking I go back into the Verizon website. And sure enough the changes had not taken effect. So I do it again and it’s weird because it’s like different prices now actually lower. So yay me so I go ahead and set it and I don’t know if it’s like when I confirmed the plan change but that was like when it kicked me out and it um. My phone becomes a brick I can’t use it I have no internet can’t use that to contact Verizon so it was like oh well this is just really charming. So I go and get David’s phone which is like down to 10% charge I can’t even with this so I have to find his charging cord too. Culverizon I get on with somebody. Ah this person can’t help me. They say they have to like connect me to someone else and and it takes a while to get to the point where they can’t help me and so then he’s like well let me ah, get you to someone who can help you change your plan and he puts me on hold and. Comes back once to check with me and we’re still on hold and then I get this message saying please enter your pin I’m like what again. So I entered my pen and then it says I’m sorry your the call center is closed like no no the call center cannot be closed so that was when I go. And um I am oh I’m sorry I already was on David’s phone so I call again and I get through and this guy is um, sounds very nice and helpful and but he says you’re you’re so static I can barely hear you and I’m like I am desperate I really am afraid that if I hang up I will not be able to get. Ah, person again. Ah so I’m like yelling into the phone so he can hear me and he says he’s he’s like that looks like you have unlimited data now. You should be fine. He said if you tried restarting your phone and I was like ah fuck me no I had not tried restarting my phone.

So while he’s there I restart my phone it clicks in my phone is no longer a brick I’m able to use it and then David’s phone at the same time like even though I didn’t restart it now. All of a sudden it has connects to the 5 g and everything. So. This is this has been a 20 minute story so I apologize to those of you who are here for talk about writing and industry but you know this is like part of it. So I’m um, accessing internet through my cell phone for the next couple of days till they come fix our internet. It is occurring to me now that I have unlimited data. Why don’t I do this all the time. Also when I was on with the the lovely first xfinity gal who gave me all these deals she had asked me who we did our cell phone service with. And I said oh I don’t want to change our cell phone service and she said oh I I completely understand that well dear reader I am now considering changing our cell phone service. We have been with Verizon since the beginning. Um and now I’m wondering um should I consolidate. My internet and cell phone service. It makes me think maybe it would be bad. You know like in this case, it was good to have 2 different services so I could go back and forth and it really sucked when both were down I couldn’t even I had no way to contact the people I’d been in the meeting with. To tell them what had happened I tried to text them and my texts wouldn’t go through. Um, so it’s disconcerting when there’s like 0 ability to contact the outside world I thought that I was going to have to my my final plan and I had another meeting at six and now it’s like after five but my next plan was was like get in my car and drive to the Verizon store I wasn’t even sure what time they closed and I had no way to check since I had no internet or sell data. But I thought well I’ll just go. Drive to the Verizon store and if I can get them to restore our service um desperate measures I was also thinking that I could actually go to a place today. We have a board meeting and I’m probably gonna be online for a couple of hours for that board meeting. Um, we are so reliant on internet now right hummingbird up above. So um, and I could go to a friend’s house too and use their internet.

But I think there’s no reason now why I can’t just burn cell data right? I have unlimited data I’m so we’re going to be paying out the wazoo ye old wazoo for it. So I might as well. Just do that right? So on that note I’m going to go upload this podcast. Um, this has been. The latest installment of all the things going on my mom said you certainly don’t lead a boarding life. Um my 80 year old mother who has covid thinks her life is boring and comparison to mine. Thank you for all of the kind thoughts on that she um. Has probably had it since Saturday she was diagnosed on Monday she’s been taking the medication which she said makes her feel like she’s sleepwalking but it is helping she is doing better. Um, stepdad has not gotten it. So. I think which kind of bitches are out because she’s annoyed that she got it and he hasn’t but um, you know it’s just weird. It’s funny how the viruses work some people get some people don’t ah but at least we have the medications and the vaxs now right? Ah all right. This has been a long podcast consisting of very little but ranting I will be back tomorrow I hope you all the wonderful Thursday and I will talk to you in the morning you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – June 21, 2022

How traditional publishing handles covers, the importance of the first book in a series, and how trad sometimes punts (or fumbles) on that second cover. Also thoughts on my new reading catnip.

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

Ah, today is Tuesday June Twenty first and summer Solstice Longest day of the year we’ve actually already pivoted happened at 3 thirteen this morning my time and it’s a good thing. We don’t observe things by the solar calendar here you ever wonder how they managed to pull it off and like the united kingdom right? Um, it’s cloudy here today. Very overcast. We’re supposed to get more rain which is incredibly welcome. So rain rain rain!

And the garden is looking lovely makes me happy I have a ah guy coming by at any time now supposed to stop in between this certain window. To give me an estimate on hauling away a whole bunch of our brush remember I posted those pictures of like our all the tumbleweeds because our monsoons were so robust last year and we had so much growth and then such terrible winds this spring and we’ve got this brush just piled up everywhere. So he’s going to come by and give me an estimate on hauling it off also exciting. Um, and it’s musing because his name is hay-SOOS which is a very common hispanic name especially in this region but it is spelled like Jesus. And so I’ve had it on my calendar and it’s somewhat disconcerting to have Jesus on your calendar I almost um, tweeted about it I had a very pithy tweet about having Jesus on my calendar and then I thought should I? But is that a good idea and my policy is is if it occurs to me that tweeting or Facebooking something may not be a good idea I default to not.

So um, yeah, getting back in my groove I was clearly tired from the traveling and what all because yesterday afternoon I just hit tired. Um. Even hit tired before that after the second hour of writing I laid down to put my feet up because I work on the walking desk and so I occasionally like during our breaks I’ll elevate my feet get the blood going the other direction so I had my book in my hand and. Put my feet up on the you know sort of the futon couch in our bedroom and fell asleep I was late coming back I was like I was sorry gurnda I totally fell asleep and then by late afternoon I was just fighting sleep. And I considered going and taking a nap then but it was already 4 and I thought ah do I really want to take a nap at like 4 and it’s still wanted to take 1 at like 5 so I read for a while in the grape arbor the pergola under the pergola and I think maybe this is a pergola but then when you put grapes on it. It becomes the grape arbor does that seem like a reasonable definition. So I read for a while then I watched an episode of ob b one. But only watched the first episode I think david didn’t love. Love love it and he was he was sleeping because he had had a bad night the night before and hadn’t slept much so I watched ob one and I’m liking it. Um. I’m not gaga for it I have thoughts about that I’ll talk about that in a moment. Um, but then by like seven thirty I was just still feeling like I needed to sleep so I ended up starting to get ready for bed. You know, picking things up and that kind of thing and I was asleep by 8:30 people and slept until six thirty so clearly I needed it I was kind of thinking about the thing about shows because we talk about them so much. Um. My ah couple friends had recommended watching ob b one saying that they thought I’d like it and I do It’s not that I don’t like it. But I think part of it is because I don’t watch all that much tv overall I prefer to read right? you know? and so i’m.

Get very absorbed in the books I’m reading. In fact, I’m not sure if I mentioned I probably didn’t since this is partly over me being gone but you know I’ve been doing this whole series reread of this author who I’d liked for so very long. Um and had fallen off and. Didn’t ever get around to her spinoff seriess or not off to um, more than like a couple of them that I wasn’t wild by but then later she did some series with spinoff characters where she did the same. Ah, female male lead for 3 books and I’m discovering that this is my catnip. This is my sweet spot to have that same relationship for 3 books which is why I am considering doing that for. I have to figure out at like what point does considering become the plan I am considering doing this for the next books in the bonds of magic world I mentioned that book one is being called shadow wizard. Which I think is pretty well set. And yeah I want to do 3 books with Judgeron and Cellie and then I want to do another trilogy with somebody else I don’t know if I should say yeah because it could change right. That’s the other thing. Oh he Zeus might be here I will be back now. It was someone doing something over at my neighbors. Um, also apparently all way brush tis the season. So. So yeah, that’s some I’m discovering I really love that especially in something like epic fantasy romance or urban fantasy which is what the books I’m reading are and it’s um, yeah, where you have a lot of. External arc where you have a lot of action lot of things going on being able to have that romance that’s developed over the course of a trilogy is ah yeah, just my catnip these days and it’s what I want to read? It’s what I want to write.

So that’s why a couple of you did comment social media to me about the am I really talking about nine books in the bonds of magic world and yes, reader. I am ah I think it was Laura Darnell asked if I’m going to do these straight through or if I’m going to interweave them with other books I wish I was doing them straight through I really do. But I do have other things to write. It’s one. Things about when you have a relationship with an agent that you kind of have to accommodate that relationship. So unless she’s selling books for me, she doesn’t make money and we also kind of have to keep my name out there and so forth. So they. Secret projects secret projects. There are 2. One is totally brand new. It’s this idea that has been a twinkle in my eye I think these guys are stuck I have to go look again? Sorry okay so I think what happened is they were not going to my neighbors. It looks like they. Are delivering trees which is great season to plant them with the monsoons and I think they came around the corner a little too fast and went to the borrow ditch and they had to get the ah truck on the borrow ditch. You know he slipped a slidey with the mud people here aren’t used to it. So anyway, ah, what was I saying I shouldn’t let myself get distracted. So yeah, reading oh the new projects. So yeah, this one has been a twinkle in my eye since early in the year and Sarah is interested in that story. And then the other one is one that I’ve talked about before which is the science fantasy that I wrote like 50 pages of and we went out on submission and came this close now. These guys are roaring off again. Glad this is not my brush guy because these guys are um, not on top of it. It was oscars tree service not my lord and savior Jesus. But I can hear their engine roaring. They’re just like ah they were running around like ants around the truck. Ah always exciting around here. So anyway, um, yeah, so the other ones the science fantasy we came this close I thought I was going to sell it.

To Tor I mean the the editorial director at Tor said that she fucking loved this book. But it was too close to something else that they had like sold and marketed like a decade before this is how tribe publishing works. So anyway, um. I had mentioned in our beginning of your planning call to agent Sarah that I was planning to finish writing that book and self- publishlish it because I do love it and she said well since it has been since fall of 2019 my how time flies. Ah. If I’m going to go ahead and write the whole book. Anyway, would I let her take it on submission one more time because the publishing houses have completely turned over It’s you know by the time we got it out there. Well at this rate who knows when I’ll have it written but you know could be spring of 2023 and that’s coming up on 4 years so we’ll see um I need to talk to her about which book she would like to see first but I’m going to write shadow wizard then write one of those books and then um and then go to town on renegades of magic. Which is what I’m calling this trilogy but back to the trilogy that I’m reading ah I had read this I read all the way through all of this authors currently published works and it was a great reading binge I enjoyed it and those. The last trilogy she did I really feel like she just knocked it out of the park I just loved it and now I’m in the peculiar position of do I recommend it without ah tipping all of you off to who I’ve been reading all this time. Because I know I bitched about stuff in the earlier books. But I love this trilogy I love this trilogy so much that I turned around and reread it which is unusual for me part of it was because I finished that third book and I was going to be flying the next day and I wanted stuff to read on the airplane I wanted something that I knew would satisfy me get me through the airports and I wasn’t ready to leave it behind. So now I’m almost done rereading the third book and then I swear I will move on with my life and read something else. But. Wow are these books good? um it. It just hit my sweet spot. So um I don’t know what I’m gonna read next I’m supposed to read something for I’ve I’ve couple things that I’m supposed to read to blurb and so I need to start doing that.

Work that into my schedule see if I can. Um yeah I was thinking about a syndrome I was gonna just sort of tip you guys off to this. This is a part of my personal theory of how the world works. But. I think it’s correct because I would not harbor an incorrect theory. You guys. So one thing about traditional publishing is that they will really invest in the cover of the first book of a series. Um, did. They just have this whole mindset of promoting that irst book which can be a useful mindset I mean there there is a lot to be said for having control of the none um I just get over having control of that none book in the series. Because that’s the entree. Um like I was mentioning yesterday with covenant of thorns with my re-release of those books I looked at the math. It’s 3 times I have 3 times as many preorders for book one as I do for all 3 and you know so some people are giving me that vote of confidence of yes. I’m absolutely going to read all 3 but you know the other 2 thirds of readers I think this is probably a pretty reliable statistic will preorder book one and see how they like it and and I would totally do the same thing so and Amazon has a really cool deal. Where and I love this actually that when you buy the first book and then decide to buy the rest of the series. They’ll give you that series price less the book you already own. So there’s really no penalty to waiting. So you know that first book is the entree traditional publishers have that much correct. What they what they do that is really frustrating is that they will then punt on the cover of the second book. I’m trying to feel what this is behind me I could see it on the screen. Okay, it’s it was just that um fragment of that vase that I have back there for some reason it was looking dark and lurking. Don’t mind me while I get distracted. So part of why I’m thinking about this is that I don’t know what it is about the second book but they kind of they must have this make or break and I don’t have the inside knowledge on this but I’ve observed it happen where.

If the first book doesn’t hit some kind of watermark for them then they slap a cheap crappy cover on the second book which I can’t even um, it’s they did it to me on 12 kingdoms. The the mark of the tala has a really great intriguing cover. It’s not my ideal cover. It looks a little too YA they made me change the title of that book because it was originally called the middle princess. They made me change the title because I felt like the title was too YA which fair enough. Ah, but then they slapped a really YA cover on it and as one of my stalwart readers Mary Lynn Nielsen I don’t know if you listen to this podcast mentioned she was going through and compiling books by women fantasy writers. She was really interested that Kensington called those books fantasy. They didn’t package them as fantasy. So some of that is confusion within the house I don’t even know. But for the second book for The Tears of the Rose that cover wasn’t nearly as good. It’s um, there are a lot of crappy things about it and they gave me 0 consultation. They handed me that cover. They said here you go um I think it was even posted before I saw it and I was terribly disappointed because it’s um. If you go look at them. it’s just um it’s a dumb cover. It doesn’t look like it doesn’t look like anything um and it’s not as well done as not as well executed as the first cover. The third cover is much better and I did get. Input into that cover. So I I’m not exactly sure what happens there if they like do books one and two too rapidly and like that second cover is like okay, let’s do the same kind of thing. But as I said I’m thinking about this because I have a friend who had self-published some books and then decided to um where we don’t talk much anymore from long history. There. So I don’t know why she made the decision but she went with this small press. Publish the books for her and I know she was at least social media excited on it right? You know talk to up a good game. Really happy to have someone else publish and market these books for her yada yada they gave her a really cool cover for that first book and you know it’s like great.

And and this is totally legit I am not um, you know whatever people decide to do you know having somebody else package of market. Your books can be huge if you don’t want to spend the time doing it and you know if you’re hoping to break into other markets. So forth so they give her a gorgeous cover for that first book. And then just the other day I saw the cover for the second book and it’s nothing like the first book. It’s not nearly as good and it’s like what they did to me on these that’s like they just phone in that second cover and and I tend to think it’s when. That first book doesn’t sell at the numbers that they want it to so um, the mark of the talla is still still selling strong. In fact I just got this renewal of rights the other day. It’s it’s selling consistently. Um, you know my first agency. Sends me checks and she sends me little congratulations with it because it’s like still making money and I know a lot of people still pick up those books still love those books. Um I I would love to get the rights back for those books and I just think it ain’t gonna happen because they sell too well. But. I wish I could because the the other option folks is if they so well enough that they decide to put new covers on them so we could hope for that because um I while I’m fine with the first and third covers. Um I would love a new cover for tears of the rose. So let. You know that Hbo mini series when they decide to recover to match the series aesthetic. Let’s do that all right? I’m gonna go get to work today and hope you all have a wonderful midsummer day. Um. Perhaps a midsummer night’s dream tonight and I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

Knowing When to Stop

Kindle ranking #2A little while back I mentioned that monsoon season was starting in New Mexico, bringing all that metaphorical and literal goodness to my life. Such a rain of blessings, indeed! Carina Press put Rogue’s Pawn on sale for 99 cents (through July 19, if you haven’t snapped up that deal yet) and it was featured on Book Bub. Amazing results in that it hit #2 in Fantasy Romance. Right behind Dean Koontz, which had us all scratching our heads. Turns out he’s doing more romance and less horror these days.

Still – me and ol’Dean, yanno? Such a major rush to see this book ranked so high.

Br765aqCEAAwF4XI saw this go by on Twitter this week – Henry Miller’s set of “commandments” for himself on getting his work done. I’d never seen it before and thought it’s so very smart.

One aspect I like best here is that he made this list for himself. Who knows, in today’s era he’d maybe have put it up on his blog. But then, he’s clearly addressing himself. I particularly love that he forbids himself from adding more material to “Black Spring.” There are a lot of great nuggets here – the acknowledgment that “creating” doesn’t always feel like it can happen every day, but work can. To work with pleasure and not make it into a chore. The one that really struck me, however – maybe because I’m not sure I’ve seen another writer encounter this – is #4: Stop at the appointed time.

I’ve discovered this is really key for me. We all have the bad days, the tooth-pulling ones. Where every word feels hard-fought. On the worst ones, I don’t get my wordcount and that bothers me. I’ve discovered, though, that sometimes that happens. Sometimes the story needs to cook or I just don’t have the mojo that day. If I’ve put in the diligent effort, I try to cut myself the slack and let it go. Usually the next day is much better. Sometimes I’ll have several days in a row like this and I just have to chip away at it.

The reverse is the true glory. The days that every writer lives for – when the words pour out in a rush, as if from another place, and I only have to type as fast as I can to get it all down. On those days, it can be VERY tempting to keep going. Especially since I usually have time, because I got the wordcount fast and easily. Often I go over on those days by 100 or 200 words.

And I find myself thinking, why not go for an extra 1K?

I used to do this, but I don’t let myself anymore. Which is why I’m fascinated that Henry Miller apparently set this rule for himself, also.

It’s important for a working writer to learn to write through mood. In essence, you can’t let the bad days get you down. I think it’s equally important not to let the good days carry you away. Inevitably, if I milk that flow and push for extra words, push past the appointed time, I incur some damage.

I’m not sure why this is, it just is.

(Okay – I suspect it has something to do with breaking an agreement with my subconscious self, but that gets into complicated territory fast.)

What kind of damage? Usually I’ll trigger a crash and then I’ll get a run of days of shortfall. So much so that, in the overall scheme, I’ll end up behind my timeline instead of ahead of it. Totally not worth it. It would be interesting to know if Henry encountered the same thing.

So this is my rule for myself now, too. I stop at the appointed time or at my wordcount goal and call it done. Has anyone else encountered this? Either in an artistic pursuit or some other arena?

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

On Monsoon Rains and Sharing Creativity

monsoon trackingEvery morning when I start up my internet browser, the 10-Day Weather Forecast is one of the tabs that opens. This time of year I watch it very closely, hoping for the monsoon rains to start.

If you’re not familiar with the desert southwest, the monsoon rains are pivotal for us. If we’re lucky, they start in late June and then continue through August. It’s our wettest season – a relative term for most of you – and one we depend on to save us from becoming as barren as the Sahara. As the spring heats up, we dry out. June is hot, dry and windy. It’s not the gentle onset to summer that so many parts of the country have. It’s scorching. It’s when the fires start.

So, we anticipate the monsoons, hoping and praying for the cooling, drenching rain to arrive. In monsoon season, we have bright sunny mornings, clouds roll in by noon, heavy rain until about 4 or 5 pm, and then clear, cool evenings. I’ve learned that the monsoon’s begin when the dew point – the green line in the top graph above – meets or crosses the temperature, the red line. Sure enough, next week that green line finally rises up near that red line and – oh look! – RAIN.

It feels like a miracle poised to occur. A joyful, life-giving one that everyone can share in.

In what feels like a parallel to me, yesterday I talked on Twitter with this gal, Elizabeth Lane. She tweeted:


Now, she had mentioned something along these lines before. Other people have made similar comments about Ruby, because the hero is a chef at a five-star restaurant in New Orleans. I get little notes along the lines of “Tell Bobby Prejean to make me a sandwich!” fairly frequently. Or they make noises about recreating a certain chocolate fondu scene. *ahem* I figured Elisabeth meant something similar, but when I saw this yesterday, I asked if she really meant it. She replied:


So, a bit chagrined, I went and looked at her website.

 OMG you guys! You have to look at what she’s doing. She reads romance novels and picks out certain meals to recreate and then blog about. I may be in love. Once I (belatedly, yes, I know) figured this out, I had to go back to Ruby to figure out which meal she’s doing. After all, there are A LOT in that particular story, as I’m sure you can imagine. Besides, if she was talking mango and cilantro, that was NOT the chocolate fondu scene. Instead it’s this one:

A small table in the corner under draping vines awaited her, lit with candles. A stand held a silver champagne bucket, and the maitre d’ poured a glass for her. The label was French and looked old, not one she recognized. The wine evaporated on her tongue, the sublime effervescence filling her head.

If she didn’t know better, she’d think she was being courted.

Course after course arrived, thoughtful, perfect presentations of the most succulent food she’d ever tasted, all on small plates. She began to feel like a pampered pet, coaxed into trying just a bit more. A popover, lighter than air, a hint of honey-butter perfuming it. A single oyster on the half shell, presented with a subtle sage breading that reminded her of Thanksgiving. Three sea scallops, sautéed to perfection, sweetly juicy and served each in a pool of its own sauce—one a piquant cilantro, the next a peppered mango and the final one a variation on the barely bitter chocolate he’d served that morning, strangely perfect with the salty counterpoint.

She inhaled the Caesar salad—the dressing exquisite, the anchovies aged in a smoky oil. When the waiter reverently laid the main course before her, a perfectly golden mini-soufflé of crab and nine aged cheeses, she heard a woman at the next table inquire about it, only to be told it was reserved for special customers. A heart carved into the crust, inlaid with a brush of cinnamon, confirmed it.

Prejean finally joined her, as she finished the soufflé. He gave her plate a long look and raised his eyebrows, the gold hoop winking. “Any good?”

Elisabeth says she’s focusing on the sea scalllops. Then the best part for me is, when someone else asked when this would go up, she said:

Do you see? She’s INVENTING the recipe from my story! Because, well, she pretty much had to, since I totally made it up. Some of the meals in this story are ones I’ve had in New Orleans restaurants or elsewhere. Others are ones I looked up. Some are ones I fabricated because they sounded delicious and sensual to me. And now Elisabeth is making it real, in a different way than I made it real. It’s like that rising dew point, that passes a certain threshold and makes it rain.

Finally, speaking of blessings from above and turning points, that starred Library Journal Review for The Mark of the Tala is finally available online, I love, love, love this review! Here it is:

OrangeReviewStar de Castell’s Debut of the Month, Romantic Fantasy from Kennedy, Zombie Horror, & More  | SF/Fantasy ReviewsKennedy, Jeffe. The Mark of the Tala. Kensington. (Twelve Kingdoms, Bk. 1). Jun. 2014. 338p. ISBN 9780758294432. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780758294449. FANTASY

markofthetala062714 de Castell’s Debut of the Month, Romantic Fantasy from Kennedy, Zombie Horror, & More  | SF/Fantasy ReviewsAs the middle daughter of the High King, Andi isn’t the warrior (that’s older sister ­Ursula) or the beautiful one (younger sister Amelia has that sewn up), but she does have a distinct tie to her mother’s people, the Tala, that might change the balance of power in the realm. No one in the Twelve Kingdoms speaks of the dead queen or the Tala, so when Andi, while out riding, meets the mysterious Rayfe, she is stunned to find out that he is king of the Tala and that she is destined to be his queen. ­VERDICT The fairy-tale setup only hints at the depth of worldbuilding at work in this debut series. What could be clichéd is instead moving as Andi is torn between duty to her father and the pull of Rayfe and his kingdom. Andi starts out passive, in the shadows, and insecure but experiences great growth as the story develops. This well-written and swooningly romantic fantasy will appeal to fans of Juliet Marillier’s “Sevenwaters” series or Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown.


And it’s going to rain. Life is pretty wonderful. Happy weekend, everyone!