First Cup of Coffee – June 7, 2022

Last week to preorder books for Apollycon! Also thoughts on author and reader platforms like Goodreads, free speech, “cancel culture,” reviews, and why saying I write “Epic Fantasy Romance” works best.

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Delicious today is Tuesday June sixth and I meant to mention this yesterday and then sort of segued off into my various things about the wedding but one of the things that I’ve discovered about saying epic fantasy romance to people who especially to people who don’t know genres or. So genres is that it communicates better for whatever reason it comes closest to trans many what I do and I discovered this talking to so many people at Megan and Charlie’s wedding who I’d never met before. I had to learn so my new names and I kept getting them wrong I’d like get half of the couple right? you know I’d say things like Mary and Joe and they’re like you mean Mary and Andy like yes so I thought I did really well though I kept close. Um, anyway, you know people would ask me how do you know me again. I know Megan from the writing world. Yes I’m a writer which do I write and it’s funny when you say fantasy um people have a weird reaction when you say you write fantasy that and I’m talking to like John you know John q public. People who are not like part of the community reader or writer they go right to like erotic fantasy I don’t know why. But if you say if I say I write fantasy. They’ll be like they give they’ll like give me the eyebrow waggle and be like. What kind of fairness seek um in exactly that tone of voice too. Yeah, so and if you say write romance. Um, that’s just you know it’s not that I don’t want to own that I write romance. But. People tend to then dismiss it as nothing if I say I write fantasy romance. Um, it’s it’s almost like it doubles up but then it comes out like even more erotic or weird. But if I put the work. Epic in front if I say epic fantasy or epic fantasy romance then they don’t go to that weird. What kind of fantasy space and they actually find it kind of cool. So yeah.


Hummingbird! One thing about the transcript and and I you guys know that I really try very hard not to spend too much time editing the transcript because I can’t be spending my days editing transcripts. But it puts in a nun when it can’t pick out the word which it often does on the numbers. It’s like why are numbers so freaking hard for you. But I’ve learned to search for none. But if there’s a random none in there. That’s why, but if it can’t figure out what I’m saying little do none also but it. Picks out none on weird words like first who knows but it’ll attempt my name attempt my name and get it wrong every time but it still attempts it. A eyes. What can you do? It’s a little bit. Um, breezy here this morning we may get some clouds and some rain this afternoon cross your fingers I was talking with assistant Carien Transcript never gets her name right. I try to catch them all I really do I know I miss them. Ah and she said that it had finally dried out after more than a day of rain and I was like I would love a day of rain only we could like. Move things around to different parts of the world I feel like this should be within our technological grasp and it probably is. It’s probably just that there’s no money for it. Nice cool breeze so it got warm yesterday yesterday was our first hot date and we’re supposed to get up to 88 today so yeah, just blew something into my eye there. We go.

So um I did finish the revision yesterday and ah, woohoo, yeah I I did a long day I did 5 hours almost 5 hours let’s throw out some numbers to confuse the transcript so I ended up at 108,456 words all told long right easily. 10K words longer than what I had been hoping shooting for and oh I didn’t quite do this right yesterday. Let’s see if I can get the. I might not be able to get the calculation then yeah I haven’t have the formula set on the wrong cells there. So let’s see I did um 4.5 hrs of work. And started at 8 56 ended up at 3 22 there was that 1 hour break in between to talk with the gal about platforms author reader platforms. So it was a longish day but I wasn’t totally wasted either that or I’m like on. Reserves at this point I’ll be very interested to see how the out loud proof goes I have a fairly hard stop tomorrow. Um, because we are going to go get our second booster. Fourth covid shot at 5 so I have to send this off for formatting it by like a quarter to five, 4 30 probably but um Carien did send out ARCs or I told her she could send out the arcs of the finished book on corrected proofs. So if you get an ARC and you find any typos let me know don’t tell me after the book is published please or tell me don’t tell Amazon fortunately I do write pretty clean so I’m not I’m not too worried about it. Um, yeah, so getting those things done I’ve got the covers for covenant of thorns those are done pretty awesome and bought new isbns I got 100 of them.

For or no I got a hundred of them for $575 so $5.75 each um the transcript’s going to hate me so that was actually a pretty good deal. And now I’ll be set again for for quite a while. Um and now I have to pay for those 3 covers but hey I’m made of money right? reader I have not made of money. Ah, ah oh well. Um, at least it’s tax deductible right? Business expenses got to spend money to make money. And to to to to what else um front to do do to to I can sing you a song apologies for the earworm yesterday I was amused at how many of you did know that song and. We’re earwormed by it.

So I did have something else I was going to say what was it.

It’s just flown out of my head I was going to tell you a story about something… Pause. I know if I gave it a minute I would remember what it was I was gonna talk more about the platform thing. So this gal is a. Author and is looking to create something better than Goodreads. Um an platform for authors and readers to interact and you know I’ve been around long enough which is funny to me. That I have been around of that. It’s like you know that I could tell her about various iterations of this kind of thing that people have started and I told her that one of the ongoing problems with trying to create like the new social media website which people try to do all the time right? You know it’s. Oh we hate Facebook so we’re gonna create the new Facebook um, the reason why we all keep doing Facebook even though we all kind of hate Facebook I don’t know anybody who says I love Facebook um, but we do it because everybody’s there. And when you start a new interactive website with people. It’s the huge hump is to get people to go there because people won’t go there unless other people are there. And so you can’t get people to go there until other people are there and it’s it’s a catch 22 it’s a cycle of vicious cycle right? So you know I felt like I was tellinging her stuff that she already knew but she said it was helpful so I was like okay, um, and she wanted to. Wants to make a site and she probably is the technical know-how from what she told me and she’s got people interested and a business partner and all of that. Um, yeah, she she wants to make a place that’s friendly for both readers and authors and she spent. Time talking about how ah you know good reads is so awful and that nobody goes to good reads anymore and I’m not sure that’s true and I told her I said I didn’t think that was true. Um, but I also don’t feel like good reads is toxic like so many authors. Do. Um, yeah I I have never had a problem with with good reads I mean we’ve had to do some stuff stuff to adjust to stop ah people from trolling with like the one star reviews. But for the most part.

Um, you know I guess I just feel like there’s nothing wrong with readers having a place to say what they like about a book and and I brought this example up to her I said you know, certainly there have been many times when. I have read a book and sometimes I obliquely complain about it on here because I don’t want to out the author but there are times when I read something and I’m like what the fuck ah and I want to talk to somebody about that. It’s like somebody tell me why you know what what’s going on here. Why is this such a mass. Um. You know it’s it’s an emotional thing and you want to be able to share that with people and and she started talking about things like cancel culture which I just have a real problem with. People talking about cancel culture because I don’t believe that there is cancel culture I think that it’s people who don’t like being called out for stuff call it cancel culture. Um you know and then somebody is canceled as if this is some sort of irrevocable status. You can’t come back from? um, are people unfairly piled on on social media sure and can it be awful. Oh yeah, are people trolled sure but the term cancel culture is being used. It’s such a broad sweep these days and it’s. You know it’s like oh well, you know Harvey Weinstein was canceled and Bill Cosby was canceled and all of this and it’s like no, no no speaking out against people who do nasty shit is not cancel culture. That’s. That’s bringing stuff into the light that people don’t want brought into the light now you know is it different if it’s you know like somebody writes a book and you don’t like the way they did it well sure I mean that’s you know, certainly not the same degree. But people should still be able to have that conversation. Um, you know and and and and that’s that’s free speech and and it’s the thing that we we keep going around about with free speech that um. You know people feel like want to come back to this right that I can say whatever I want and and yes you do have that right? Um, people don’t have to listen to um and that’s where we draw the line and that’s that’s how we.

Create safe spaces is that we say we cannot stop you from. For example, using a racial slur sure it is your right to use a racial slur but we will not give you the platform then to to speak it from and. Um, sort of getting tangled up in this a little bit I think um readers getting really upset about an author and piling on and saying that they don’t like the way something was written. Yeah it affects someone’s livelihood and and that sucks. But. But isn’t that part of life and also you know if a whole lot of people are buying and reading a book and saying that they’re mad about it is that awful. Um I mean there’s shapes here. But anyway, that’s a little bit off of what I wanted to. Talk about which is you know she she was interested in creating a place that’s like positive for both readers and authors and which sounds good on the outset but I was pointing out to her I mean ask me the question and I’ll give you an honest answer right? I said you know. Those 2 things are not necessarily compatible because authors want and and I want it I want 5 stars all the time every time I want everyone to say my books are perfect and wonderful and for every single person on the world to buy them and read them and love them. That’s my ideal. Um, I know it’s not realistic, but sure that’s what I want I don’t want people to trash my books I don’t want people to to hate my books or to um, say that they’re stupid or something like that. So if you have a place where okay authors want readers to just. Celebrate their books and recommend them and everybody loves them and buys them great readers. Want to be able to figure out which books they’ll like to read and they want to be able to discuss the books both the good and the bad and. That’s not necessarily compatible with having you know authors be totally happy and I suspect that part of what she’s wanting to get at is you know like talking about oh well Goodreads is a toxic place because they they pile on and they rant about books and it’s like well. You know how are you going to create a place that is only making authors happy where the readers only come to to say nice things. It’s um, you know that’s just like a a fan group right? which.

Sure sure that could be fun, but um I know it was interesting because she was making me think she was asking me. You know, like how I interact with my readers hi readers. Um, you know and how. How I hear from you and I was saying you know like a lot of people comment on the podcast and or send me messages in various media and and I was sort of listing all the places and and excuse me. No I’m choked up. No that was choking on my coffee I said you know what. Some of you have asked me where should you comment or where should you send messages and I am perfectly fine with you doing it anywhere I I like hearing back from you guys. But I’ve also noticed and I and I said this to her that I think that you’ll like the early 2010 s we were so much on social media and there was so much commenting and replying and so forth and then you know like the 2016 election happened with all of the trash on social media and I think a lot of us just stop participating as heavily. And I don’t hear back from people as much and I don’t have any kind of quantitative measure of that but I sell more books than I did then so I don’t think that it’s that people aren’t reading the books I think that people just aren’t engaging via social media as much. And then also I used to interact with people at conferences I used to see all of you at conferences or various reader events and now I don’t anymore. Um, so it would be very interesting to re-experience that you know now that pandemic is over air quotes. Ah, to see you all at a polykon speaking of there’s only a week left to order if you want to preorder books I will have books there. But if you want to make sure that you get a copy of a print copy of something in particular, let me know and I will um. You can preorder it I’ll put the I think the link is on the show notes. But I’ll make sure to do it and I’ll advertise that this week. So um I think that’s everything. Yeah and I’m going to. Put that recipe for the low sugar blueberry pie that y’all were interested in I don’t know why I have to say that in a southern except I’m going to put that in the next newsletter too so if you haven’t signed up for the newsletter do that I never tell people to.

Sign up or I don’t do it as often as I should if I think we’ll get a newsletter out a dispatch um before that a polykon order deadline just to remind everyone all right? So um, I’m going to get. Going on this out loud proofing. Wish me luck right? I will talk to you all Thursday you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – April 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 and with the fabulous Darynda Jones author of oh ah, you up the thing. Ah paranormal mystery. Young adult straight mystery yeah lots of things I tried to get her to do a trime for you guys and she was like I it it has to be like dy me do delivery. So I am here in. Fabulous portalis and at the home of Doinda Jones and she’s already started making it into a museum. You guys. So like when you tour where Doundda Jones lived and created her works There’s like the dog gates against the guest bedrooms and it’s just like visiting the sacred bedroom of Abraham Lincoln yeah and yes Jane Austen Jane ahusten there. You go here, you go um. And so I stopped at the hydration station on the way from the hotel and got my rather I said like grande-ish size but this feels very would you like I got an americano because it’s like because if I get an espresso. It’s like not enough to keep drinking right. This whole because Dorinda does a lot of the same ah intermittent fasting that I do so she understands we understand each other. Yes, we do so this has like you know enough that I could sit on that for a while and she had stevia for me and. And then a tiny tiny bit of c cream just to like cut that edge right? So what are you drinking? you have your I am also drinking americano but I have sugar you have sugar I actually picked sugar and and show them your fabulous cup. Winter so you have to describe it because some people are only on audio. Oh okay, so it is a very sparkly dairy sparkly travel mug with the winter soldier star that he has on his shoulder and then the back has the words. That the you could say to him that would control him that heck that he had to break they had to break and the in the so do we not dare say them out dare say them out loud but right you want to control him with yeah I mean who wouldn’t so dear listener Doinda has a thing.

Before Sebastian stands I do she stands I stands the same. Those things you didn’t need to know right? right? Probably feel my so and I’m trying to figure out why am I so much whiter than Torenda I mean am I that. We’re sort of sitting side by side and I feel like I look very white in this light. That’s very pale, pretty very pretty well. Well thank you so we’re doing the Jack Williamson lectureship and we went and did that thing last night. Listen to Connie Willis interview Walter John Williams and then went to dinner afterwards that was fun. Yeah, did you learn anything I learned a lot about Walter that I didn’t oh yeah and in his career this very interesting, very interesting. He’s he’s had a very long and. Up and down roller coaster career which it seems like all writers to right? right? Yeah yeah, but yes, it was very interesting and I also went to so Connie Willis’s daughter is a criminalist in San Jose California so I went to that yesterday afternoon and listened to her talk and that was. Ah I learned so much about her daily. You know what does a criminalist do and daily life and and the the stuff that they do in the lab and the different types of evidence. It was very cool. So are you gonna weave any of this into Absolutely yeah, you just don’t know how or where yet right? exactly she gave some really good tips on ways that they found criminals that you know that I have not seen there was 1 in particular that I have not seen in the book yet. So I’m like I’ll be using that. So can you share are you is it secret. It’s it’s well it involves a fitbit put it that way they use technology a lot phones fitbits anything. They can get their hands on and she said whatever you do it doesn’t matter if you delete it. It’s still gonna be in your phone so they have caught many a criminal. By getting their phones and restoring recovering deleted pictures and that sort of thing because so just because you you think it’s deleted. It’s not and computers are the same It’s never really gone. So it’s true that that’s like Facebook and Amazon and all of that they like.

Save everything forever. Yep yep, it’s there forever. So if you commit a crime don’t take pictures. Don’t take pictures and don’t wear your fitbit and don’t wear your and. Ah, ah and I want you guys to know I had to connect with Darynda’s wireless in order to do this podcast and you know how like there’s the joke out there where people say oh you should name your your wireless network like Fbi Surveillance fan so that you can like make your neighbors paranoid. Guess what during this wireless network is called but it is because you just couldn’t resist I couldn’t resist this is sunny I just found it. Funny. It’s been that for oh gosh probably 10 years and I won’t tell you were her wi-fi password just in case. But it’s on brand also so I feel like I have to level up to met to match like your level of being on brand my commitment your commitment to the brand. Ah.

So so what are you working on these days during actually let’s talk about I want I know you’re working on several things but let’s talk about your revisions on the third book the sunshine yes because I think a lot of people. You know, a lot of writers listens to the podcast as well as readers and but there’s always this perception speaking of like up and down and that kind of thing that like you know what is this your sixteenth published book. No, this will be 26 26 how did I lose track. Well, that’s because you’ve got the self post you I had the different stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah, all the. And a young adult that was a long time ago. Oh I was a trilogy and yeah, so yeah, yeah, so so yeah, 26 books now and you’re working with your wonderful editor at St Martin’s but it’s been It hasn’t been a path strewn with rose petals. No, but. So. It’s so funny because I got very used to my first editor was Jennifer Inerlin who is now the president of St Martin’s and she’s busy and she’s busy and so I went to another editor so I got used to Jennifer’s editing style and she had a certain way and she would just write. She wouldn’t do line edits. She would write me up. An editorial letter and you know we were good and it’s kind of like a marriage. Yeah, you get really in sync with a particular view. So and and so I was very used to that then I went to another editor for 1 book and I wasn’t edited at all and I was like no. I’m not no book is perfect I mean they just isn’t I don’t care who you are your book’s not perfect and so I you know voiced my concerns to my agent and so she taught to Jennifer and now I have ah another editor and I’ve had her for 3 books now Alexander Seahlster and she’s amazing. Um, but we do there are things that she thinks of that I just wouldn’t think of and and it’s very interesting. It’s been very interesting and things. Like word choices that I wouldn’t have thought of like I couldn’t use should I say this is it okay to say I think it is because and because it’s interesting how and and yesterday I talked a whole lot oop sorry I thought I muted to my mother um hi mom. Ah now you know what? a. Whenever I’m saying oh there’s my mother awake and texting me. Okay there we go um and now I lost my train of thought so what’s oh because I was talking yesterday about being generation x right? and you know and things change and you try to be good about being aware and not becoming.

That grandfather where everyone says you know in my day my day I know what we called it and it’s like well yes grandpa is a racist but you know that was the time he grew up and you don’t want to be that person right? But at the same time stuff changes rapidly you know and like what feels like. An okay word to use even a year or two ago is now people are like oh wait a minute. Yeah you so use it and so I was really surprised at 2 of the words that she took out and I didn’t even tell you my bizarre story about writer coffee. So okay, so she had me take off thug and hoodlum. Hoodlum I got because that’s clearly hood. You know racist that sort of thing but thug I was like why thug. So I go to writer’s coffee last Saturday and lo and behold what are they talking about. Thugs the word thug which comes from faugy. Yes, yeah I did not know this at all I didn’t bring it up I thought I thought this is a sign from god ah god are you listening or you know like or the technology on your smart. This is true. Yes, it. It’s all out there and. Yeah, and how it came as ah, the british used said as propaganda against indian gods and nice or East India yeah yeah and yeah I didn’t even know that I was like oh well, no I get it and all those. Yeah, although still, it’s um, you know some of these words are so old and I don’t know but you know’s you you don’t want to hurt anybody. So it’s good to learn these things and take them out but then it’s like um, you know trying to lense these things from your vocabulary can just be just very interesting experience. Yes, so I so I have to tell you guys that duringda’s table has cup holders. You see this I can like set this into the the little cup holder. You would think that’s what it is. You know what? it actually is. It’s this is like for gaming or something that this is poker. It is for those little. Ashtrays all way back in the day they would put these little disgusting likes and clearly we don’t have them but we do have the the poker and I was noting that I was fidgeting with this that the poker things. I just thought it was a really pretty table. We used to have game night. We didn’t we never played poker but we used to do game night. So it’s it’s a beautiful table I mean do you know what what it this no I don’t I think it’s all fake. It was not that expense really I don’t know this looks um that has very nice woodgraen. Yeah.

It’s pretty though I just thought it was pretty. It is pretty. It is pretty and it has cup holders. I mean it’s kept up seriously yes, according to my grandkids those are cup holders too. So okay, though that that’s probably says a lot about my mental age right? There? No I actually when I bought it I thought they were cup holders. Did you all I did and then somebody told you yeah somebody was like no those were for those little extras. Oh learning every day learn stuff every day. Okay, so so you ended up having to take words out and then it’s just you know revising people often ask about the process of revising this and so. How would you describe your process I should have tried to ask it with a straight face joined that jones how do you describe your revision process. Ah gosh I I don’t know I just go through the notes and so Alex my new editor she does line edits as well as some editoria. And editorial letter and so I just did the line edits first and went through everything and tried to fix everything and again things that I wouldn’t even have thought of and um and then went to the letter and. What’s my process I don’t know I was curious. Do you like begin at the beginning of the book or do you well with the line edits I do right? just go straight through those try to get those done as much as possible. Um, and i. For the most part I try to accept everything because I figure. Well if it just threw her out of the story or whatever. Um, every once in a while I’ll be like I’m gonna keep that you know instead to fight for your joke. yeah yeah I do fight for my choice because that’s a thing. Like like I have a lot of jokes and and she will take out some and you were known for for your humor. Yeah, and so and every once in a while I’ll be like oh I got to put that one back in I’m sorry sorry I just like it. You can’t kill that darling kill that darling. But. Um, yeah, and and it’s funny. We were talking about how editors um you know like they’ll be reading something and maybe they have to go off and do something else or go to a meeting or they go have lunch or they you know sleep get a phone call or get a phone call. Whatever and they come back to it and it’s kind of like It’s almost like they kind of forgot what was going on to force and because sometimes the the notes will be really out of the blue and you’re like what Linda come I always wanted that when and sometimes like beta readers will do that too because they’ll be like well but you never said.

You know, like why he had the thing or something where did the thing come from and you’re and go back and you’re like here it is on page 10 right? where I say why he has the thing. Yes, yeah, it’s like maybe they just and and you look at it and you think well do I need to add to it. Do I need to explain? yes. Here’s why he has yeah to make it more sadly address something to get be a attention. Yeah, exactly? Yeah, but but sometimes you know it can be hard I I try to tell people this that it can be a real challenge to. No matter where you are in your career knowing which critique to take right and we were talking about this sum to last night about people telling you how to fix it? Yes, so a lot of times it’s like an editor or a beta reader whenever they’ll know something’s wrong not quite right not necessarily wrong but not quite right something didn’t hit him and then they might offer a way to fix it but a lot of times that’s that doesn’t fix it. That’s it’s that’s not the right way to do it. So you’ll like go back and you’ll think oh, but if I add this line to paragraphs before then that makes more sense so you you have to figure out the best way to fix it. It’s like they know something’s not quite right, but they don’t know what and sometimes they can’t even describe it right? right? right? because they’ll say well I just. Don’t sympathize with this character you know and and I think it’s because because he his hair is the wrong color. Yep, that’s that’s like a stupid example, but and you’re like no no no I know it’s not the hair color that’s bothering you but something is making you feel unsympathetic. Yes, yeah. Yeah, exactly exactly it’s so it’s like this detective exactly you have to really and that’s why to me revisions take so long because you have to sit there and kind of think about. Okay, what is the real problem here. You have to try to get in your reader’s head or whatever and try to figure out that’s that’s one of the hardest parts isn’t it to try to. Because you have the book up here right? and so you know exactly and it’s like how do I get it to what they know exactly and then even then you know readers make things their own right? right? Oh absolutely It’s it’s always um, interesting to see how some. Readers interpret the books right? Yeah I talked some in you and I chatted some about um Jennifer L. Armintrout’s most recent book and the whole kerfuffle around that you know and all of those readers saying that you know they were upset about.

I don’t even know what it was but like something did we talk about this. Maybe it was what someone else did you? you know like this one that just came out in her. It was like the war of 2 queens. Oh so yeah, no, we didn’t talk about that. no I was thinking yeah yeah did you follow that at all no oh well no onefuffle oh yeah well all of these readers or some readers. Some very loud voice readers unlike book talk got very very upset saying that I don’t know it had something to do with like that there was some kind of emotional infidelity and they were really upset with her and calling it the deal breaker and and Jennifer said in like 1 of her reader groups that they were reading it wrong. And and they got very upset. You know you can’t tell me how to read and all this which true. Yes, yes, but then some other people who read the book said but actually they were reading it wrong. But so it’s like interesting. Yeah, interesting. But I mean that is a thing you just can’t it I mean do you think there is a thing where readers are rating it wrong because you can go both ways on this. Well it but also to me if there’s more than you know. more than 1 person. yeah more than 1 person got this impression. Yeah, then I don’t I don’t can you read a book wrong I mean certainly we get like reviews where people like get actual details wrong right? You know like exactly the names. Yes, or. Or they’ll say things like you know I hated the part where she killed the dog and you’re like but actually she didn’t kill the dog but that is absolutely yeah, something went wrong. There. There was some discondent but but yeah, readers. And and it’s interesting if you go back and read something that you read a long time ago. Have you done that? yeah and you know like something you read when you were like a teenager or oh yeah, any say anything leaked to mind and done that well ah I hate talking bad. So. I am you can fudge the details. Okay, okay, well, okay, we’ll do that so I am a huge very particular vampire series fan. Well, that was absolutely huge. Um and I remember when I read the first one I read the first one on it. First came out and I left it I loved everything about it and and for the most part and everybody kept talking about how badly written it was and this is the book I think it is to start with a t yes, that’s okay and they kept talking about how badly written it was and I was like really.

Well and I was still new I was still writing I wasn’t published yet or anything and I didn’t get it and so you know now after having I think it was probably about two years ago I decided to reread it and I was like wow it. It really is better. still a good book. you know it was still a good book it was an enthralling book. Yes, and I still loved it and I still love it and I love her and I love what she did. Um, you know I she got hundreds of thousands of teenagers to read. Yes, who then became our readers. Yes, yes, yes, who had never read a book in their lives. I met many of them and then went on to love all things jealousy. Yes yes, so we are. That’s interesting because I have not gone back and read that but I I was really floored I had a very difficult time getting into it again and um, yeah. And well you had’t told me that yeah and I was like I feel bad I mean I a lot of people say there aren’t there’s books are not badly written right? and I I have set that I’ve said that on record on as well yes yeah well that I said that people do not read 800 pages of. Bad writing right? So it’s it’s not actual bad writing it’s something else. Yes, it’s um, that it doesn’t fit a particular aesthetic or style yeah style. Yeah, so what? So what was. What what about it? Would you say was badly written I would hit you wrong because now you’ve got this editor brain. Yeah exactly and I just it feel like it was written which this was her first published book right? and it was the first book who among us would not go back. Right? change. Absolutely our first publish but it was a first book. You know? And yeah, yeah, I just would you change things in your first post oh absolutely yeah oh I would change so much I can’t even yeah I I never read my books. I would change stomachma I cringe I’ve I’ve thought about that and I don’t know if you and I have talked about it but you know like my first published book was or you like full novel was rogues pawn. The first fantasy romance and covenant at thornance that Carina did and we’re trying to get rights back now and so now I’m wrestling with that. It’s like if I get my rights back and I self-publish it do I do you want to go back through it. You know because part of me really does yeah, but also I think it might be such a gargantuan effort right? that we.

It’s not worth that you and and put that kind of time into it when you could be yeah when I could write new things. Yes, producing new work. Yeah, yeah, exactly I don’t know would you? Oh that’s such a good question if I got the rights back to first grave first grave I would change little things little things like word choice. Yes, word choices I feel like Charlie I was trying to in that first book I feel like I tried too hard because and and in some ways you’ve talked about and I’m interrupting you. You’ve talked about that like in the early days you would go in and layer in the humor. Yes, in a way that you now just do as an organic part of the writing exact. But then it was much more deliberate. Yes, like joke deliberate. Yeah and I was trying to write funny beef people kept telling me that I write funny. So I thought okay well I’m gonna do this I’m gonna you know work I’m gonna write funny god god damn funny on purpose. I wasn’t doing it on her and um, yeah I I and I feel like I just I tried too hard and I overdid it and I and Charlie comes across to me, especially early in the book. It’s very unsympathetic because she’s um. When you write humor. You can’t be little. You can’t belitle other people and I don’t know because then it just becomes cruel. It’s Chris cruel. Yeah and I don’t know that she was necessarily doing that but it it almost is that’s on that edge there to where it was just a bit much and I would change that. I would I think I would go back and change it I haven’t looked at that book of mine I take that there’s a lot of problems with it structurally yes, see that would be way more massive a bigger undertaking and I don’t know that I would do that I saw. Somebody recently recently like last year or something like that reading it because this is part of it is like when people discover your work now they go back and the like back less them. Yes, bless you? you? Yes, thank you but they go and read your entire backlist and I I kind of cringe because I’m like. Go all the way back exactly? Um, but I saw somebody like you know, showed up in my tweet search. You know where they mentioned it. They didn’t tag me it. It was totally my fault that I looked but they were talking about oh reading coil thorns by Jobby Kennedy so excited and then. But she was talking about how it like she got whiplash going back and forth between the whimsy and the horrific aspects of it and it’s like I think I didn’t balance it well I didn’t know what I was doing right? right? right? So learning and yeah.

And I I wanted those things in it. But I think yeah, it’s um, it’s that refinement it’s getting the blend right and right now yeah so yeah, absolutely so that’s probably enough time. Do you have anything else. You want to say no. No nothing to say nothing and we’re gonna try get a little work done before we go off to the readings I already got some writing done this did you? Yes, it’s you I know such a good I makes you look bad. Well 1 thing that Walter was saying last night when Condy was asking him about. You know process someone does he write and all of this and he’s like that he writes like 500 words a day and does it like at 1 in the morning and he just works for a couple hours and otherwise he pretty much like naps and naps and eats and and eats and I was like how do I get this writer’s life. She asked what his favorite part of being a writer was and he said the hours and it was like this does not match my life but I but doesn’t match your why I just’s like what we’re doing it fucking wrong. We’re doing very wrong, very very wrong. Walter’s got the right idea I guess he also has like. The enormous backlist and is as his riches that he lives off. Yes, yeah, still where we have to figure this out. Yeah, we’re to work on that with all right? So we’re gonna go work on that. Um, lovely seeing you all I forgot to say that it was Friday we forgot to do the chair dance. I didn’t even say what the date was so let’s do it now today is April Eighth and it is you’re gonna say it with me do the chair dance. What is thisjule. It’s Friday it’s like Friday they ah so you are the wonderful weekend. And I will talk to you all on Monday yall take care bye bye.

Silly Writer! Reviews Aren’t for Craft

I talked a bit about this on Twitter, and on my podcast – First Cup of Coffee – but I said I’d loop back and discuss on the blog in more detail.

I admit it started with a subtweet. A few blogger/reviewers were posting about authors who were publicly shaming readers who gave them poor reviews. The tenor of the authors’ complaints were that the bad reviews were harshing their (or their friend’s) release day buzz. Which… that’s a whole other thing, but the TL:DR is that nobody owes an author a sparkle pony on release day. The operative word there is RELEASE. That means letting the book go, to sink or swim in the world. It no longer belongs to the author. Helicopter parenting it will only bring misery to the author and damage the book’s chances.

ANYWAY. This post isn’t about that.

What I subtweeted about was an author who weighed in on the thread with a “but, but, but” –  #protip: don’t do this – “But, but, but,” she says, “I just wish readers would *explain* why they give it one-star, so I can learn from it!”

First of all, not only does nobody owe you a sparkle pony, no one owes an explanation for a rating. Readers can rate books whatever they like, for whatever reason they like, and they don’t have to explain. They’re not in a relationship with the author, so there’s no obligation to tend feelings. They’re not writing teachers. They read.

Secondly, reviews are not for the author to read. Even readers and reviewers who take the conceit of appearing to address the author, aren’t really. They’re engaging with the voice in the book. It’s really important for writers to remember we are not our books. One of the very interesting outcomes of the Burnout Panel (and How to Maybe Avoid It Next Time) at Nebula Conference was that one of the key conditions leading to burnout is a person over-identifying with their work. A book is something we create (and RELEASE) and how readers react to it is about *them*. When someone reviews a book, it’s for other readers. It’s not a job performance appraisal for the author.

Finally, reviews are a TERRIBLE place to look to improve craft because the lens is so different. The experience of reading a book is totally different from evaluating it with an editorial eye. As proof of this, I point to the near-universal author experience of discovering that reading for sheer pleasure gets lost. Somewhere in the transition from being a person who only reads books to someone who also writes them, we develop that critical lens for evaluating the story creation. And it becomes almost impossible to shut it off again. This is bad and good. There’s some grief in the realization that the experience of reading a story without examining it is lost forever. But it’s good because, well, we *need* that ability. Every book and story a writer reads is an education – what works for us, what doesn’t, how the writer created certain impacts, where they lost the thread, etc.

Because of this profound difference in reading experience, however, reviews from readers tell us nothing about the craft of the story. Maybe a writer can glean some insight from which stories seem most popular – but most writers also will note that they can never predict which stories will “hit” and which don’t. It’s almost never our personal favorites. It often seems counter-intuitive. Many writers will say that their very favorite of their own work is the least popular with readers. Is there a correlation?


That’s the thing, and that’s my point. There is no knowing, which means that scouring reviews for information on improving craft is fruitless.

You know what does work? Read a lot (books and stories, not reviews). Write a lot.

Read. Write. Repeat.

Who’s Looking Over Your Shoulder as You Write? Appeasing the Fandom

One of my faithful desk companions – Isabel has little interest in the stories themselves, but she disapproves of my reaching for the mouse. Good incentive for me to keep typing with no backtracking!

Not as visible – and not as likely to claw me for reaching for the mouse – is everyone else virtually on my desk as I write. By this I mean my readers. And not just any readers – but those passionately invested in the stories, worlds and characters. You know who you are! These are the power readers, the ones who take time to give me personal feedback on how much they love what I write. 

And they have opinions. Sometimes strong ones. Again, you know who you are. 🙂

That’s our topic this week: Responding to the fandom – where do you draw the line? (e.g., not killing a character after all) Come on over to get my take. 

The Top X [Genre] books Every Y Should Read

CRSqSFWVAAA8mALI loved these words so much, I just had to Word Swag them. Batya Ungar-Sargon messaged them to me about my book, UNDER CONTRACT. We met when she took my workshop on consent at the RT Convention and then she asked to use that material for this terrific article she wrote on romance and feminism.

My favorite bit? “Graceful in its fealty to genre.” It’s a distressingly far too widely held opinion that writing romance is easy. The genre is derided for its highly defined tropes and inevitable happy ending. It’s true that romance readers have definite expectations – but that means it’s more difficult to write, not easier. Telling a good story, the story you want to tell, while adhering to the tropes is a delicate dance. Thus, “graceful in its fealty to genre” is one of the best accolades ever.

“Incredibly written” is pretty nice, too.

I want to talk a bit today about the Top X lists. You know the ones I mean. “The Top 100 Best Books of the Century.” “The Top Ten Fantasy Books Every Woman Should Read.” Etc, etc.

They’re proliferating more than ever because of sites like Buzzfeed, Salon and Huffington Post, which thrive on numbered lists of all kinds. Lists get clicks. Numbered lists are one of the favored varieties of Clickbait out there right now.

Writers and readers are constantly encouraged to name their “Top Whatever” lists. Favorite book, favorite author, favorite book boyfriend. For writing guest posts and articles, making lists like this can be a fairly fast and easy way to go.

I, however, think they’re dangerous.

That’s what I said – and I don’t think I’m overstating. This is why.

To me, this is another exercise in the inevitable interview question posed to anyone who’s had a microphone thrust in their face: What book is on your beside table? (A phrasing I love because they’re not actually asking “What are you reading?” and – maybe this is just me – my bedside table is a kind of TBR pile purgatory, where books can languish for years, quietly gathering dust and sneering at my procrastination.) Equally inevitable, the person will respond with A Tale of Two Cities or some such. Seriously, I considered it a drinking game there for a while, how many celebrities, politicians and other interview-friendly folks cited reading A Tale of Two Cities.

Of course, maybe it’s that everyone *starts* the book, because we all feel we SHOULD read it, and then every last one of us ditches it in bedside table purgatory because the damn thing is so stiflingly dull. (Yes, I tried to read it. Stalled on page 121, marked with a 1992 bookmark. It’s back on the bookshelf, though.)

If they don’t say A Tale of Two Cities, then it’s Great Expectations or War and Peace or Moby Dick. Right? Because everyone wants to sound smart. No one is going to say Robin McKinley’s Shadows, which is the book currently languishing on my bedside table, or Molly O’Keefe’s Everything I Left Unsaid, which I’m currently devouring on the Kindle. At any rate, all of this is evidence of the ongoing conflict between what we think we should read and what we actually read.

These lists, then, tend to reinforce the “should read” side of things, which is to say, the surface, social version, rather than the reality. In fact, many of the lists include “should” in the title, creating an onus by their very existence. Worse, because people who compose the lists want to look smart and well-read, they all tend to include the same books. The ones everyone cites as being the ones to cite.

See how this cycle perpetuates?

Maybe saying this is dangerous IS putting it a tad strongly. But I do think it’s counterproductive, continues to elevate the same group of books – which creates homogeneity – and reinforces snobbery.

Read what you want to read!