First Cup of Coffee – February 8, 2022


Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee. I did a little bit less half and half today still works today is Tuesday February Eight Twenty Twenty two ah how are you guys. Um, so yeah, I’m ah.

I’m ah clicking along here I I got up to do something I paused because I didn’t want to forget to do it. Um. Went out for drinks last night with some fun writer people. Lezli Robyn who is in town editor at galaxy’s edge. Um, um. It ended up being a funny evening but I’ll I’ll tell you ending of the evening I think is funny but she was there and Emily Mah and then Twig and I’m thinking oh Twig Deluje yeah ah Twig is the manager at Beastly Bookstore and then also Jim Sorensen and Jack who writes as some jmbarton he he does the podcast I interviewed him on here anyway. So it was 6 of us. And we had this great table by the fire at Rio Chama which is one of my favorite bars and it was um, terrific conversation. Very fun evening. We sat there a long time like 3 hours I think so so that was that was awesome. It was really fun. And so and I gave Leslie a ride because she is blind she has like ten fifteen percent of her sight and cannot drive so and she’s staying at George R Martin’s house in 1 of his casitas has kind of like oh. Walled compound deal and so when I picked her up she was waiting at the gate for me and had just newly discovered freedom because there’s a um, you know a lot of times way that these gates work on these walled places. For those of you who do not live in a walled compound. Ah there’s a sensor so when you pull up in your car to the sensor it automatically opens the gate but she had discovered that a human being was not big enough to trigger this sensor so she was like. There has to be a way for a person on foot to do this and and she’s she’s funny and we were just cracking up about it because I was like were you like dancing around in front of the sensor trying to look big like a car and she’s like I was who you laugh but I was so anyway she found out the trick which is surprising.

And I won’t say it on the podcast. But so she was like no I’m free I can leave the compound whenever I want to so she you know triggered the gate and opened it and came out so then I dropped her off again at like eight thirty or something and it’s cold. It’s been cold here the last. Couple of weeks really the coldest we’ve been all winter and snowy and it’s Santa Fe and so we were a you know dark compliance dark sky city so you know not many streetlights so it’s pretty dark so I take her to the gate and I said um. Do you know how to get back in. Do you have a code and she said no but I’ll just text George and and he’ll let me in so she texts George and George does not reply because he had some other guests come in and she’s like you know he probably has his phone like and it’s just sitting off to the side and I said I know I know. So then she tries George’s assistant but it’s her day off 1 of George’s assistants it’s her day off. So she’s not picking up the phone and so then I call one of our other mutual friends and ask if she knows because I know she’s been to George’s house a number of times and I said do you know the gate code and she said no so i. Call Melinda Snodgrass who’s like George’s best friend I was like do you know the code or you know and she’s like oh are you out with Lezli I said yes I’m trying to take her back but we’re trapped outside and and Melinda’s like I don’t she said every time I’ve gone there. It’s been opened for me like well yeah, good for you. So finally Lezli gets through to 1 of George’s other assistants who gives her the codes. It was just funny quite the quite the shenanigans and then Lezli said um, she said well I I could just walk from here and I’m like don’t be selling I’ll drive. You. The rest of the way. Yeah, which was good I get because it’s like you go off around and behind the big house and then down and you know like there’s a number of little casitas and stuff and she’s like in the very last one I was like okay yeah, definitely dropping you up. So. It was just an entertaining evening I may have had a little too much wine as my mother says I was over served ah but not that much I mean I was I was fine to drive obviously but feeling a little rough. This morning but progress on gray magic is going well I’ve got um I got through 70 pages yesterday. Oh I guess I should say I went back to the beginning and and longtime listeners will recognize this pattern in me i.

Mentioned yesterday that I hit about 87 almost eighty 8000 words on the book. Well, that’s after yesterday right? Anyway, I’m at 87 8 28 it’s probably going to be somewhere around 106 to 9000 words. So I’ve still got 20000 words to go? Um, not that I’m concerned so I decided definitely go back to the beginning yesterday now begin my revising. And so and I made it through 70 pages 70 of 322 so and it was pretty solid. Um, you can tilt by my speed that that was um, yeah I didn’t have to do a lot I ended up adding. Let’s just see here. Added 543 words and deleted 52 that’s not too bad. I don’t cut everything I delete. But if I cut like if I remember I put into an outtakes document just so I can kind of keep track of how much I’m deleting so we’ll see I do feel like I’m getting a better. Fix on the arc and remembering things so I would like have my little notes of things that I have to remember to wind up for the end which was good because I was concerned I was forgetting some things and it’s giving me ideas on winding it up. Not that I didn’t have plenty but it’s always good to kind of know what I’m doing. Ah, so other things. Um, so I’ve been reading a lot while I read a lot all the time but I’ve been reading thorn by Intisar Khanani hope I’m saying the name right? And. Grace had told me a long time ago to read it and I bought it a long time ago and you know languished on my kindle as books are wont to do and oh my god you guys. It’s so good. It is just so good. So it’s a goose girl retelling and some of you may know that I did a goose girl retelling Heart’s Blood and so it’s fascinating to me to see the ways that Intisar and I both use the same story elements in similar ways only she’s like.

So much cleverer I think she did such a better job now I’m like insanely jealous that she did such a better job than I did ah but of course mine’s a novella so I’m going to cling to that excuse that she did a full novel and so hers is naturally richer and more complex than i. I really love how she solved the problem of and I feel like this is not a spoiler right? because it’s goose girl fairy tale which has been out for a long time was ah at the workshop on Saturday when I was teaching it I was talking about. Meeting romance expectations and I said um yeah, like for example, Romeo and Juliet is not a romance. It’s a tragedy because the lovers die at the end and somebody what spoiler alert is like yeah you know that’s like what’s what’s the rule of if it’s been out for at least 100 years then can spoil the ending so that have to take a moment to be amused by that that spoiler. So anyway, spoiler alert on the goose girl if you are not familiar with the fair tale. It’s one of my favorites. So the princess is traveling with a lady-in waiting to meet her this prince of a foreign kingdom to whom she is betrothed to go and marry him and along the way the lady and waiting forces. The princess to trade places with her and. Masquerades as the princess goes and marries the prince and the real princess is forced to become a gooseg girl and it was something that I struggled with and it’s interesting when you do fairy tale retellings and I was. Touching on this a few weeks ago talking about the difference between like when do you do it or retelling when is it. You know to what degree do you cleave to the source material because it can be well. It can be challenging and I I think to the detriment of the story sometimes. If you cling too closely to the source material and you can’t make it justify itself within the I’m waving my hands in the air if you are not on video but this I’m I’m thinking of the. To me stories are like a globe for some reason I always come back to this idea of a globe. It’s like this big bubble and it’s full of all this stuff and like the shimmering surface I don’t know why that’s my mental image of a book but it but it is for better or worse know what your process is own. It.

For me. That’s what it looks like you know if you have read Nora Roberts Born in Fire I’ve I really love Born in Tire. It’s one of my favorites of hers. There’s a scene where Maggie gets drunk and passes out in the meadow as as an irish artist will do. And she’s looking up at the moon and then she creates that globe for ah the guy who is like a Roarke prototype I forget what his name is in the book. Anyway, that’s that’s the story image for me that that globe that she thinks. So if you can’t so so your story has to have this internal integrity. It. It becomes its own thing which is I think partly why I think of it like a bubble because like you know like you blow it like a soap bubble. You you keep breathing air and air into it and it grows bigger and bigger and then eventually it detaches and it goes floating off which is why I talk about like books feel like they take a little piece of me once they detach there’s that little bit of essenceence goes off with it. That’s why I think it’s exhausting when you finally release a book because like that packet of energy that’s inside the globe goes with it anyway, I’m waxing philosophical today at least it’s not self-excoriating. That’s a joke for bonds of magic readers I put in I created a house name. Yesterday that I tickled me immensely some things I put in just because I think they’re funny. You guys will have to see what you think. So um I keep losing my original thread here. So when you’re doing a retelling if you are determined to cleave. To certain story elements for the sake of cleaving to the source material and it doesn’t vibe with the internal integrity of your story then it’s a problem so when I did my goose goal retelling. I struggled with justifying. How did this lady in waiting overpower the princess and force her to change places. What did she have on her. What did she do to her and I had it. Developmental edited at the time and the editor pushed me on it and I I don’t. Don’t think it worked very well I don’t like the way that she pushed me on it I think what Ansar did is is superior far superior and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that part of it is magic. It’s like duh. Why didn’t I think of using magic because I’m not as.

Smart just into sorrow I don’t know and I haven’t ever met her. But if she listens to this. She’ll probably be amused but she also did I thought it was interesting that we did similar things with the character of the princess and why. And sort of her arc what it takes for her to to sort of overcome this problem and and it’s interesting. A lot of our beats are the same. So but I’m sure that comes from the source material. Anyway, it’s a really good book. Um i’m. I’m I’m really interested to see how she ends it I’m excited to read it. 1 thing I did over the weekend because I had finished a book that I was doing a blurb for and so i. Kind of finished up my reading obligations and so that’s why I was kind of going back through my my tbr the the leaning tower of to be read books and trying to decide. What was I going to read next and I briefly settled on persuasion by Jane Austen because I had not read persuasion ever and full caveat I have read Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility all more than once I have never read I’m looking at my bookshelf now I’ve never read Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey though I have copies of them on my shelf and I had not read persuasion and I bought it a while back for Kindle I think I don’t have a paper copy of Persuasion and I know I watched one of the I don’t know how many there are but I had watched one of the. Movie versions of it was my friend Margaret and she had said that Persuasion was her favorite and had bought the Kindle book some years ago when I was sort of casting about for something to read and I was looking for something of a particular style and a lot of people it said or someone had. Chimed in I I feel like it was more than one saying oh well if you’ve never read persuasion. You have to so I started reading it and I was so bored and I wasn’t liking it I mean and I kind of want but I was almost gonna post on social media being like is this just me because then I went and looked up. Um, you like to see if people say because I know that people feel like Mansfield Park and Northanger Abey are not her best works but you know persuasion they were sort of waxing and it was like the Jane Austen society or something. So of course they’re going to say nice things but they were saying that it was what that it’s one of her most popular works.

Which surprised me, do we think that’s true I mean what would be the empirical evidence for that none but I don’t think it’s and they said oh well and then it’s infused with this perspective of a more mature woman because it was her last book and I mean i. I should resonate with that right? Um, ah so I got through I read to like 20% of Persuasion and I was not having fun for a while I thought well I just need to settle into the pace and the language you know it’s different and like. 20% I was like I do not care about this heroin I don’t care about any of these people I’m really tired of reading about the silliness of the discussions around the children and so forth. So I I bailed so is this just me what am I missing on persuasion. Um. Please let me know or even better. Let me know that’s not just me because it’s like I’m so not getting it and I didn’t love the movie either. Even though my friend was rhapsodizing over it and I was like okay well maybe it’s because I haven’t read the book you know because I do think especially with books like Jane Austen or Henry James some of these books from that era you you get a lot more out of the movie version if you’ve read the book and you have all of that nuance but I did um, discover a lovely quote when I was looking up. Is it just me that I’m not liking persuasion and this was something that her brother had said about her he had said an invincible distrust of her own judgment induced her to withhold her works from the public till time and many perusals had satisfied her. That the charm of recent composition was dissolved and I threw that up on social media. But I love that because there’s the charm of recent composition. There really is something to that that like what you’ve just finished writing. It’s hard to see it clearly and when we talk about like the kill your darlings thing I think a lot of people don’t understand that that’s like only after some time and distance when you can step back and see things that you have put in there. Well like if you make up a house name just to amuse yourself. But that’s a tiny thing I get to keep that because at heart harms nothing. But if your darling is for example, cleaving to an element of the sourcement material because you feel like it’s important or you should then then that’s something to evaluate.

Once the charm of recent composition has dissolved. So. That’s why it’s interesting for me to go back and start revising from the beginning because it was interesting to read stuff that I started writing like back in November because it’s taken me a while to write this book and yeah, there is no charm. Recent composition. In fact, there’s like sometimes little recognition. It’s like oh god I put that in there. So I thought that was good insight. So on that note I’m going to get busy, get my shit done as as they say. I hope that you all have wonderful Tuesday I hope that you are getting your own shit done in a way that is pleasing to you and rewarding and I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

Living the Nora Life

 B1YtROqIcAAtnVhOn Sunday I got to see my lovely friends Darynda Jones and Katie Lane at the event for their new releases at Page 1 Books. Katie is telling a hilarious story about a trick-or-treater who came to her door talking on his cell phone. She refused to give him candy until he hung up and said “trick or treat.” She’s so damn funny. We met for lunch before hand and had such a great conversation. Love them both so much and so grateful to have them in my life.

Book events – especially for new releases – are kind of funny things. I mean, of course you want to do them. And they’re usually fun, because they’re a celebratory party thing and even better if you have author friends to join in, like this. I’ve got several events coming up for the release of The Tears of the Rose later this month. In fact, I should list them here:

Friday, November 7, 8-11pm, Independence Center of the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Washington DC – Mass autographing at World Fantasy Con

Friday, December 5, 7pm at Bookworks – me and Darynda!

Sunday, December 7, 2:30-3 at Page 1 Books – me and Celeste Bradley!

Come on by if you can!

At any rate, I was working last night on stuff to prep for this release and finding it a bit wrenching, because I’m working on something totally different now and my head is in that. It’s a weird thing about the whole business, that when I’m super excited about a book and want to talk about it, I’m the only one who knows anything about the story and there’s no one to talk to. Then, by the time everybody ELSE gets to read it, it’s old hat to me. Thinking about that, I recalled a conversation from Born in Ice, by Nora Roberts. I read it back in the mid-90s, when it first came out and before I ever thought I’d write fiction. But this scene struck me then and has stuck with me. The hero is Grayson Thane and he’s a bestselling author of thrillers. At one point he’s talking to his agent on the phone and she’s quoting good reviews to him. He tells the heroine, Brianna, that they’re early quotes on the new book. She says,

“But you haven’t finished the new book.”

“Not that new book. The one that’s coming out in July. That’s the new book, what I’m working on is the new manuscript.”

In another scene, which I can’t find in my paper copy and shouldn’t spend any more time looking for – this is one reason I love searchable digital books! – Brianna comments that he must be excited about the movie about to premiere of one of his books. He says, well, yes, but right now he’s all about Flashback. (At least, I think that’s what the title was – search might not have helped after all.) She asks what that is and he says it’s the manuscript he’s writing and all he can think about.

I really love this about Nora, that she created such a terrific character in Gray (and yes, his name IS over the top, because he made it up, we find out). He compelled me as a plain reader and now, years later, I identify so much with all the true-to-life details she layered in about him. Not that anyone is making a movie of my book, but I’ll be ready! Such a funny moment to realize I know what he – and Nora – are talking about. It’s the best possible world when I suddenly feel like a character from one of her books. Also a tribute to her skill in creating very real characters.

Speaking of new releases and author-type things, my first newsletter officially sent today! (Yeah, yeah, yeah – late, as my mother continually mentioned all weekend. Technical difficulties, okay?) So, if you thought you were getting one and didn’t, check your spam folder. Ironically enough, my own copy went to my junk mail folder. Sad day when I’m spamming myself…  If you still don’t have it, ping me and I’ll check into it.

I’m off to World Fantasy Con (see aforementioned signing on Friday) starting Thursday. If you’re going to be there, do say hi!

Author Photo Contest!

BPlS_CeCMAErwnYThat picture is a bit blurry, but that’s Nora Roberts rocking it out on the dance floor at the Harlequin party a the RWA National Conference. She is so wonderful in so many ways.

I’m over at Word Whores today, talking about why scenes should have goals.

Also, I’m choosing a head shot for my book jacket! *muppet flail* A real book jacket!! So, I have four new shots. I’ll likely use the one I pick for all my social media schtuff, so you’ll be looking at it A LOT. Keep that in mind. Let me know which you like and why. I brought  a SLEW of books back from the conference, so I’ll be giving away the book of choice to three commenters.
(As soon as my suitcases catch up to me, I’ll take a pic of the stack and you can choose from that.)

All pics taken by Sarah at Pritschow Photography. I think she did an amazing job.

(Also, for the purists, these are not the highest resolution I have – I reduced size for the multi-upload here.)

Take it away!

IMG_4764 small

IMG_47902 small

IMG_47922 small

IMG_96022 small



It’s a Major Award.

Today is an exciting day in the romancey community. RWA is a well-oiled machine, as you have to be for a major advocacy group with over 10,000 members. Today is the day RWA announces the finalists for the Golden Heart Awards for unpublished writers and the Rita Awards for published writers.

There are multiple categories such as single-title contemporary (that would be your standard Nora Roberts/Linda Howard novel), or series (such as Harlequin), or paranormal, or romantic suspense and so forth.

Everyone submitted their books or manuscripts back in December and now all the judging is in (from fellow RWA members). Finalists are notified today and the winners will be announced at the big awards ceremony at the RWA National Convention in July.

That’s when you get to see Nora in her Ferragamos accepting her trophies.

All across the internet, there are blog parties today. People chime in when they’ve heard that they finalled and others comment to congratulate. The people you don’t hear from are the ones still clutching their cell phones, waiting for it to ring.

A lot of hope out there today, swirling through the interwebs.

Which means there will also be disappointment. A lot of phones won’t ring.

Golden Heart, particularly, can be held up by the unpubbed writers as the pinnacle of success. It’s a particularly nice deal in that, if you are a finalist, you get first pick of the agent and editor pitch appointments at the convention. Theoretically they’ll take you more seriously, having been vetted by your colleagues.

But that only points up that the Golden Heart is only an intermediate step to the REAL prize: publication. Which is the whole point, after all. At least for the upubs. Clearly all those Rita finalists are hoping for another level of validation, likely just as crucial to them. Maybe more so.

I’ve seen several “studies” – bloggers doing informal surveys of Golden Heart winners – to see if there was a correlation between winning or finalling and publication. The answer, as always, is yes and no. It looks to me like it helps, but it’s far from a sinecure.

Like all contests, it can be wonderful validation from your peers, but it really doesn’t put your book before readers’ eyes. Readers who will pay you to eat so you can keep giving them stories, much less readers who will give you enough money to buy Ferragamos.

I don’t know if I’ll check into the blog parties or not. I’m keeping my phone off until my writing is done. That part must remain sacred, as it’s the core of it all.

It’s hard to wait. Hard to rest your hopes on whether someone gave you a score of 7 or 9, or even an 8.8. You take a little piece of your heart and lay it on the marble slab under the judges critical eye.

But, in the end, an award is only what it means to you. Even a Major Award.

Even if it’s Italian.

Creativity, Discipline and Nora — Oh My!

Sometimes I wonder if there’s really a limit to creative energy, or if I just tend to think so.

I got in my 1K again today (yay! horns, confetti, ect!), but now I don’t feel like writing my blog. Alas.

Sometimes I think it’s just discipline. Halle made an interesting comment on the Ritual & Madness post that she’s come to believe that ritual is all about discipline, and that the emotional response to disruption is simply knowing how hard it is to regain the discipline. I think she’s got a great point there. I’ve read about authors who write in hugely disciplined ways. The beyond-prolific Nora Roberts says she writes eight hours a day. (Some out there will claim this is because she’s doing factory-genre writing, rather than true Art, but that’s neither here nor there.) And many novelists started out as journalists; they often cite that kind of disciplined, churn-out-articles-every-day writing as what built their ability to write consistently.

For myself, I find I don’t seem to write — to compose — for more than a couple of hours at a time. I have a whole day to write, and I find myself composing for two hours or so, and revising the rest. That and doing business, like queries, submissions, etc.

What with my dream of being a full-time writer, I wonder if that means I’ll still write about two hours a day and dork around for the rest…

That’s what dreams are all about!