First Cup of Coffee – April 14, 2023

A special guest on the show today! Multi-bestselling author Darynda Jones and I discuss ideas, how to know which ones are good and have staying power, and how to continue to grow as writers.

First Cup of Coffee – May 16, 2022

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

Delicious. Today is Monday may sixteenth and I am indoors for those of you on video you might be able to tell it sound wise too. We had a gorgeous gorgeous weekend. I’ve got lots of gardening done I am a happy gardening camper and last night we got a backdoor cold front. Um, which brass means it comes from the east. So almost all of our weather comes from the well actually every direction but east um. Northwest south ah, every once’s while we get 1 backing up on us from the east and I posted some photos I’ll put one on the show notes of the hermit’s peak fire near Las Vegas New Mexico not Las Vegas Nevada and we’ve been very fortunate. Even though we could see those smoke plumes from our house. It’s it’s actually quite close as the crow flies as the interstate drives. It’s about an hour but that’s cause it’s weird from here. You have to like actually go to go north on I 25 you have to dip south and then you wrap around. But otherwise like I can see the smoke flu plume from my office window which faces east so we’ve been very fortunate that we’ve had these beautiful clear skies with you know that smoke plume you know every once’s will take get really big really soon. Pop up and I’ve been reflecting on how lucky we are well last night we had all the windows open and that back door cold front came in and lots of smoke this morning. So. It’s also still kind of a pretty cool breeze coming from the East. So. Indoors I am I was just reflecting as I was saying my author of spiel that I wonder if I should change what I say do I even know what I write this has been my thing I’ve never known what I wrote but I just wrote a blog post for the. FaRo gals the fantasy romance gals. It’s sorry I think a gen x enough that I find like the whole file row thing really kind of funny the the eliason of ah you know it’s ah sorry some of that’s from french the eliding. Of of 2 words to make them and to to shortened words I try to keep up with changes in language I’m always interested in changes in language. But yeah anyway I did a blog post for them.

Which was way way overdue and and it ended up being like 450 words and I sent it to one of the girls till the set time the set and said that there is no reason on earth why that took me months and months to write. But so it did and. It was on epic fantasy romance. What is epic fantasy romance and basically I was saying well that’s what I write is epic fantasy romance. So just now as I was starting the podcast I was thinking huh how come I don’t say author of epic fantasy romance. Maybe I should because that way I don’t have to like say. 12 different things. Ah because I do think it pretty much all falls into epic fantasy romance.

Well thinking that there are few exceptions to that. But I don’t know I don’t know.

So yeah, actually it was a great weekend I had 2 meetings both quite short nebula conference is next weekend. So our Saturday meeting was the final nebula conference meeting and. After this things will be considerably better. Looking forward to the conference itself I hope everybody else really loves that the programming is gonna be great. Very excited for everyone to to see it. Ah. Had a meeting yesterday afternoon got to be on a Zoom call with oh I don’t know Mercedes Lackey Larry Dixon Connie Willis just another Sunday in my household doing rehearsal for the ceremony. All pretty pretty cool. So um, other than that like I said did I did a lot of hanging out on Saturday that was nice. Did a lot of reading. Still working my way through this reread of this series and now I’m going back and rereading some of the novellas long way that I never got to before It’s very interesting on book 5 it’s interesting. To me to see at which point I fall off a series as a reader book five I am I remember the beginning of I am quite certain I did not finish it. Um, none of the ending. Like from I should have looked to see where it was that I bailed but I I know I didn’t finish that book and I remember being and and this was I was looking when it was and it’s it was like about ten years ago see I’m craftily not giving you the exact date. So that you can’t figure out what I’m writing some of you might be able to anyway, if you know me, but it. Um yeah I remember. Not being happy with the beginning of that book I’ve been unhappy with book 4 and I was unhappy again with book 4 and I I rant it to d ringa about it because that’s her job to listen to me ran. But also it was in a.

By way of studying. You know it was. It was very interesting to me the ways in which a crucial part of book 4 did not work for me and it’s very funny in book five I could say the author. Assiduously addressing certain things that had bothered me about book 4 so I think I must not have been the only one who complained because she is almost being ostentatious about some of the things like ah ah. You know, um I feel like I’m gonna give too many details but Leslye Penelope who has wonderful podcast. My imaginary friends I haven’t listened in a while but I assume she’s still doing it. Um, Leslye had talked about. Revising a book and realizing she had forgotten about the dog. This is a thing and and Darynda and I were talking about it too because you catch these things on revision where you realize um, did somehow the beloved dog got left behind. And nobody gave it another thought for the entire rest of the book. It’s 1 reason why a lot of writers don’t put pets on their stories because you have to make sure that they are fed and then somebody goes to feed them and stuff and so there was a little bit of red conning in this book about. Heroines cat and I know I complained about this before with Seanan Mcguire that I kept getting really anxious about the cats until finally she liked and I knew I must not have been the only one because she created in the October day series. She created a next door neighbor who had a key who like if the heroine didn’t show up. At feeding times she would just go feed the cats. It’s like yeah, we all wish we had to have in this case in book 5 there was a bit of rec conning where she like says something about oh good thing that we had a house sit to be there for a couple of months to feed the cat and it’s like oh. but con the house center hu but I mean it it happens if if you forget about these things if you don’t have a good editor if you don’t have a good beta reader to say somebody needs to be feeding the cap. Ah or sometimes it’s like. You put in these details these great character details like a piece of jewelry and you make it be like this thing. Oh she never takes it off right? Great detail, wonderful thing until the writer forgets and somehow.

She is never ever wearing that piece of jewel bit again for the rest of the book. So you’re going back over it and you’re like reading your first pages and she’s like admiring her. Well so this was another thing in the book that there was an engagement ring an incredibly valuable engagement ring that got forgotten in several different ways. And it’s like oh admiring her incredibly valuableu engagement ring which you know like she loses an arm when it was the arm that the engagement ring was on. It’s like oh did somebody go back and that ring it’s easy to forget these details. Um and your reader. We’ll notice because and we could come back to this thing that I often talk about where I think you cannot conflate the process of writing with the process of reading because a lot of writers do want to. Say things like well one of my least favorite pieces of writing advice if you are bored the reader will be bored too. No no, no sometimes writing is boring sometimes it takes a long time. Well it almost always takes a long time and going back over details like that is. Meticulous and difficult and tedious tedious is the word I want but your readers are reading this book in 4 to 6 hours so they’re going to remember that. Cat and they’re gonna remember that ring. Ah you know if you take a year to write a book. Of course you’re gonna forget those things so some of that is just having time to revise and I realize that I am very much a black pot in this case because I am well. I did finish my revision on storm princess I revised a bit more on Friday I added more words this week I need 15000 words and I think I I should be all right on this. This is a little bit of I diversion here. But oh I won’t well. Let’s look it up. It means I have to open a few different documents though. So please have patience while we work because I have several different excel workbooks that I have open on any given day. And excel won’t let me change the order of them so I have to open them in order because I am persnickety that way and so the progress count workbook is the third one that I open because it start from the left. Don’t.

Ah, so yeah, I’ve got 78000 words I’ve got somewhere in the neighborhood of 19000 little shrive 20000 to add. So if I can get those fifteen thousand this week that would be awesome and then I can fill in the last. Thousand beginning of next week and have time to do my out loud proofing so you know I did this myself in um, dark wizard for those of you who have read dark wizard. There is a. Point at which so so this is part of the writing process is especially when you write the way I do as a gardener or write for discovery you discover things as you go along. So if you don’t want to be this isn’t very spoilery. So I don’t think it’ll matter. But if you don’t want to know anything about dark wizard and you haven’t read it yet tap out now. Ah, but she wears this copper bracelet right? That’s in the shape of a snake and it has little fangs on it and she uses that to keep herself from thinking about Gabriel because she doesn’t want him to be able to find her. With his sorcery. So as I was writing along I’d gotten to the point where she was on the run and being really really careful. Not to think about him so that he wouldn’t be able to triangulate her position and. I thought oh well she needs something to to remind herself and I’ve used this device in a couple of books I also gave it to Stella in the heirs of magic book books so she loses the habit after she falls in love I’ve like I like doing that. But it was something that I taught my stepdaughter to do because my stepdaughter would suck on her too littlest fingers and they got all shriveled up and so she would put a rubber band around her wrist and every time she wanted to suck on her fingers when she decide she wanted to write the habit she would snap the rubber band. And that little bit of pain is just enough to start teaching you to break that habit. So I ah gave that to Nick as well in dark wizard that she would have this bracelet to poke the fangs into her wrist and it kind of sometimes she does it hard enough to draw blood or you know don’t think about it because she’s. Obsessively thinking about him of course. So then I had to go back and layer in when she decides to get the bracelet and you know dug it out of virtualry box and that’s just a few lines you know like oh she’d gone and found it and dug it out of her jewelry box and all of this.

And it was all really cool and I had written like up to midpoint of the book and given it to readers to read and so forth and I was going to stop there I’d given it to page Sarah I was going to stop there but then i. Start and I was gonna move on to something else and I just couldn’t I just had to keep writing this book. Well I had to keep writing this book but I totally forgot about the bracelet. So upon revision when I went back over the whole thing. It was like oh guess that. Copper bracelet she never ticks off got taken off at some point. So then I had to go back and and weave it through and when somebody has a familiar or a pet I do the same thing. And go back and make sure that that it’s accounted for in our daily lives we have so much complexity that we’re we’re not even aware of all of the things that that we are responsible for that. We do just for daily life. It’s a level of complexity that we can’t replicate in a character in a book because it’s a boring amount of detail but you have to be aware of which details are critical ones I do wish that more authors would include pets in my work. Because very very few people do not have any kind of pet so we accept this about our characters, especially these kickass ones that are out you know like running all around the world fighting evil and so forth. But in reality if you want to portray someone who is I don’t know a pretty much standard person in some ways there are going to be pets with animals are a huge part of our lives. Many good reasons so I didn’t mean to get off onto that whole thing. But that’s how it is here at first cup of coffee I had a couple things that I was actually going to talk about but I’m almost out of time something else I was thinking about. This is kind of a short thing is wanting to pay attention to also especially for female characters is do they have friends and especially female friends.

And if they don’t have female friends but why not ah a woman who has no female friends is and and I have known women like this who are sort of quasi friends but some women are. I don’t even want to go into all the reasons why I think it is but some women are not good at being friends with other women. There’s like always a layer of well I’ll say competitiveness there and it’s it’s a problem and sometimes it can manifest in stories where you have. A woman surrounded by men all of her friends are men you know like lovers and so forth and it’s like why aren’t you why is it she relating to another woman and sometimes an author will like implement a best friend. Oh this. This gal is ah is her best friend Leon she’ll say oh you know my best friend but if she never has actually an onpage conversation with her best friend it makes you wonder if well maybe that girl doesn’t think the heroine is her best friend because she ain’t there for her right. she’s just um she’s just a prop I think this is somewhere where there are a lot of reasons for it but the bechyll test is very useful. It’s supposed to be a test of. Of female representation and stories I think it came from gaming created by Allison Beckel but it’s are there it’s It’s a very very simple test is there more than one female character. Ah do the 2 female characters have 2 or more. Have conversations with each other um without men present that 3 are not about men and it’s amazing. How many stories fail to meet that test and I would definitely encourage any writers who want to have. Well-rounded female characters that they have conversation with their friends about things that are not about men and without men present because women’s lives are rich and full without men being in. That we have to say that all right on that note I’m going to get to work. Wish me luck and I will talk to you all tomorrow take care bye bye.

Jeffe’s Furry Editors

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

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

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

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

Meet the Pets!

Check out the awesome cover for the fourth Sorcerous Moons book!! It releases Tuesday, January 24, but you can preorder at a few retailers. The blurb: 

An Enemy Land

Once Princess Oria spun wicked daydreams from the legends of sorceresses kidnapped by the barbarian Destrye. Now, though she’s come willingly, she finds herself in a mirror of the old tales: the king’s foreign trophy of war, starved of magic, surrounded by snowy forest and hostile strangers. But this place has secrets, too—and Oria must learn them quickly if she is to survive.

A Treacherous Court

Instead of the refuge he sought, King Lonen finds his homeland desperate and angry, simmering with distrust of his wife. With open challenge to his rule, he knows he and Oria—the warrior wounded and weak, the sorceress wrung dry of power—must somehow make a display of might. And despite the desire that threatens to undo them both, he still cannot so much as brush her skin.

A Fight for the Future

With war looming and nowhere left to run, Lonen and Oria must use every intrigue and instinct they can devise: to plumb Dru’s mysteries, to protect their people—and to hold fast to each other. Because they know better than any what terrifying trial awaits…


This week on the blog, we’re featuring the pets of the SFF Seven. Come on over to see my pretties

Good-bye Lucy

On Friday, my mom had her Himalayan cat put to sleep. This sort of event occurs regularly through our lives, marking the eras in 10, 15, or 20 year increments — less if illness strikes. One beloved pet dies and we acquire another. For a family like ours, who keeps cats, we might have five or six primary cats through our own lives.
Lucy was 16 and it was her time.
My mom posted Lucy’s obituary via email:

Dear Friends,

It is with sadness that I tell you that Lucy had to be put to sleep yesterday. She was apparently suffering from kidney failure which went undetected until it was too late to cure her.

She had a very full sixteen years and got to experience travels to many fun destinations including Dauphin Island, New Orleans, and Tucson. She probably logged more car miles than most other felines. She was a comforting companion to Leo during his illness and a highly adaptable friend to me. She will be missed.

Leo was my stepfather, who died a few years ago. Lucy loved Leo, the boyfriend who followed and my mom’s new husband, Dave. She was always a man’s cat, loving my mom’s men as she loved them.
So Lucy’s passing now marks the end of this 16 year increment. Now begins a time when my mom has no cats. This is new, too. Dave has said they can get another, which is lovely of him. But she wants a little time of driving back and forth without dragging a cat along. I can’t help but think that the next cat will see my mom through the last increment of her life.
Or maybe there will be two more. I find myself adopting the leapfrogging cat method. Our two cats are 12 and 3. While this muddies the life increments, it’s also an insurance policy against being completely bereft.
I’m big on ensuring I won’t be completely bereft.