First Cup of Coffee – May 30, 2022

On balance, dealing with Parkinson’s disease and problematic food additives. Also thoughts on being an intuitive writer and ways of discovering the answers to mysteries in my stories – or not!




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

00:30.20
jeffekennedy
I’m laughing because I said it wrong didn’t I epic fantasy romance I can’t ever decide what I write. Ah today is Monday may Thirtieth Memorial day here in the Us. Ah, a lot of people asked me if I was taking today off but I took last Monday off I mean granted, it was like a mental health day but um, no, not taking today off almost done with this freaking book. You guys. So yeah I um. Made it through the climactic battle scene. Um, at the I wanted to say at the end the climatic battle scene that happens at the end the culmination of the four book series. Um. Yeah, on Friday and I can’t remember how many I think I just did like my 2000 words. Yeah I did like 2055 I’m at 91.5 k so I have a little. Little bit more to do to tie it up digging bodies out of the rubble as it were that should absolutely be a beat I should do my own set of beat sheets. Now I shouldn’t have said that because now you guys are going to say yeah that be great. We want that who knows if I’ll ever do that and I’m such an intuitive writer that I don’t really think in those terms but I I guess I do know that this is my digging bodies out of the rubble phase. And then my epilogues so somewhere none words to go maybe I could finish those today and tomorrow certainly by Wednesday and finish this revision and then the out loud proofing.

04:50.82
jeffekennedy
Now. So so yeah, big big denouement as it were but I’m feeling pretty good about it. There is one mystery I haven’t solved. Oops and and I was not going to do it because I thought oh well do we have to have an answer to this and then when I was talking about coming close to finishing I was working with Darynda online and she goes oh I can’t wait to find out x I was like well shit. Guess I need to answer x I don’t really know what the answer is and see for me the way I write the den one of the real downsides of being an intuitive writer is that I can’t just pick a thing and have that be it. Um. I ah I have to discover it. It’s it’s like that. There’s an actual answer out there. There’s a truth out there I want to believe but I have to find it I can’t just assign it a thing. I know that probably sounds silly since it’s my book. But it’s the way it is. Yellow jacket coming into the hummingbird feeder. There. Not a honey bee honey bees would be welcome. Not yellow jackets it went and away again then it was foiled. If you didn’t know this if you have hummingbirds and you have Hummingbird feeders one way to foil the ants and the yellow jackets is to put vaseline like on the landing surfaces. You know you’d like. Don’t put on the holes but you put on the other landing surfaces and the crawling surfaces and. It repels those unwelcome invaders happy home tips here at first cup of coffee.

09:07.82
jeffekennedy
So so yeah, um, oh oh I was gonna say about that discovering the ending. For example, if you haven’t read The Orchid throne cover your ears for a moment because this spoils the ending. Or or leaf I’m sorry I know it’s only 5 minutes into the podcast. But um, but if you have read the or it’s own or if you don’t care about being spoiled last chance I did not know what Lia’s true nature was until the very end. I knew she had a secret that she was hiding but she was hiding it even from me and and ironically enough I was with Darynda at the rwa convention in Denver we drove up together and we roomed together and we got there a couple days early to do like writing retreat. Which was fun and we would like walk over to the public library and sit over there and write and and and I drove her crazy I drove her mad all week because I couldn’t forget how to finish the freaking book. And I was really trying to finish it before the convention started. But um, so she was trying to help me brainstorm what the answers would be I’ve probably told this story before but I think it’s funny because she um. I mean we kept talking about it and talking about it and I was explaining the things and she’s like well could it be It’s this could it be. It’s that could it be this other thing got something my eye there. We go cat here and. Some of them I really wanted to take because they were like some great ideas I was like oh that’s a great idea I should make it be that but I couldn’t just make it be that during this so good at coming up with ideas and then finally finally. I guess this isn’t all that spoilery because I’m not saying what it is finally I realized what it was what her secret was and and I told Doinda I was like thank you so much you you’re amazing I love you. Thank you for coming up with me and she gives you this look and she’s like Jeffe that is not even close to any of the things that I suggested I’m like that bar doesn’t matter.

14:01.78
jeffekennedy
Ah, so um I did have a good weekend I did have a very relaxing weekend. Ah I was very grateful to past Jeffe. Because I realized on Saturday morning that I had made an appointment like a month ago for Sunday morning to go up and get a massage treatment from my favorite therapist up at Ten Thousand Waves and so I went up yesterday morning and did that and it was. Delightful. It was really good. I was really tense was comes a shock to all of you I’m sure. Um, and now I’ve got my ah laundry list of things that I need to do to ah improve my. Flexibility, especially this upper back and my hip flexers he is like I said what they’re really tight and he says you need to do the work to keep them flexible I was like damn it I need to get back into yoga. My favorite yoga teacher has finally opened up a brick and mortar studio again. All of these great. Um I know people get mad if you say post pandemic because pandemic’s still going. But at least it’s um, opening up again, right? What can we call it call it. Um I don’t even know. Um, anyway it and it’s funny I think I told you guys when I got that body scrub like a month ago. Yeah, maybe almost 2 ah, you know she said I took a lot of dead skin off of your arms I’m like I know. Oh. That’s why I needed a body scrub and the the treatment I had yesterday is called a nose to toes and it’s it’s amazing if you’re in Santa Fe and can get up to Ten Thousand Waves which I recommend um, get this nosetoose treatment but it’s exfoliating and. Body work and hot oil nirvana so so he showed me the exfoliating gloves and he said look this is all the dead skin that came off even though because I soaked for an hour first even though your skin was wet was like so my skin is dry. It’s like I feel like. During the pandemic. It’s like I totally fell apart in ways that I didn’t mean to and so but that was wonderful and then I stopped by Megan’s house and got vases.

19:28.10
jeffekennedy
Getting ready to do flowers for the wedding next weekend very much looking forward to those festivities and I got out my spring clothes which I feel like well it is way too late I need to get better about doing that sooner. April felt so busy April of may. Maybe it’s just like having the conference done is making all the difference in the world but it didn’t take me all that long. It just took me a couple of hours um put away my winter clothes get out the spring close but I’ve made myself a reminder to do it at the beginning of April next year because Hello Hummingbird I have all of these really great spring clothes that are made that are springy looking but made for cooler weather and if you’re on video you’ll see I’m wearing my one of my sweaters that I got out. Because it is cool this morning so I’ll still have a chance to wear those things I’m sure that’s why I get for living at high altitude. But I wish I’d gotten them out sooner. So ah I need to. Be more Johnny on the spot with that. Ah, that first year of pandemic it was like I never I didn’t do one of them. It’s like I never got out my winter clothes or something but they noticed a thing so I know like there’s the whole Marie Kondo deal where you’re supposed to get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy. Ah, one of the things I do when I change over my closet is to get rid of stuff that I won’t worn and another rule I heard a long time ago I think my mother told me this one but I don’t know where she got it. It’s like if you haven’t worn anything in a year you should get rid of it um aside for like for you know like special occasion clothes and that doesn’t really work either. But I noticed this time that I do have like ah a mental expiration date. On some of my clothes because I had several things in there that I’ve been keeping for admittedly a very long time I mean a long time people I am not a ah person who gets rid of things easily. And there was this one dress that’s probably at least twenty years old I’m I’m not sure exactly what you’re but I’ve loved love love loved it and I’ve kept it all this time and this time when I got it out I looked at it and I was like ooh I had that instant o response.

24:55.40
jeffekennedy
Like why would I why am I keeping this stress. Um, so I did get rid of a few things like that. So several things that I have loved and kept for a very long time. So I don’t know what what changed there I certainly noticed and I think I’ve mentioned this before that I had a. A lot more warm weather clothes and I have cold weather clothes and I’m not exactly sure why that is although I fixed that this year and then I bought a whole bunch of stuff but I cut out this dress. My little dolphins I desired was a summer dress. So that’s. Now so it was nice. It was really fun to rediscover all of these things. It’s um, the getting out of the summer clothes is you know, not only a space saver thing to you know like put away the stuff that’s not appropriate for the season. But it’s also a rediscovering of the wardrobe because i. Had all these things I was like I forgot I owned this I totally forgot about this thing. So so yeah, that was really really great and I baked a blueberry pie I know one of the things we’re discovering. With David having Parkinson’s is that the neurophysiology because of course parkinson’s is where you’re not making enough of the transmitter you’re not making enough of the dopamine and he has to supplement. With external sources right? That’s the medication but he’s incredibly sensitive to any kind of food additives. Um, which are in just everything like even if you get the organic stuff. It’s like. We don’t even know what it is and you know and interesting in the us they don’t have to list what those things are because it’s considered to be proprietary and if it’s not regulated by the Fda. They can just do it so like colors or flavors that they do to enhance the product. Ah, they have an effect and I’ve heard you know parents of children who are on the spectrum or who have other kinds of it. It does seem to be you know, like neurological stuff that’s affected. You know they have to get really incredibly careful about those kinds of additives you know and I’ve heard you know like there was a whole thing about red dye number 3 being bad but there’s also all of these hidden things that end up making you feel bad and you don’t know why.

30:39.50
jeffekennedy
And when you have somebody who is reliant on a very delicate balance to feel good like David is it just it. It’s become just too much of a risk because it can throw off his medication for days if he gets something wonky so we are. Really try and get good about making everything from scratch at home. Um, which means not eating out so much not so much takeout although if we can get him really solid if we can get him really balanced then we can do some of these things. Um. Because it it but it has to be a single excursion. Our problem is is that we tend to do one excursion and then we go on a rampage so he had got this pie for me. I think I mentioned this before last Sunday when I was eating my feelings and it was a no sugar added pie which I you know because I’m trying not to do added sugars right? and but it had other shit in there and it threw him off for like three days so yes so I’d said you know what I should just. Bake a pie if we really want to have a pie I should bake one. It’s not that difficult actually baking pies is quite easy. So he reminded me about it yesterday afternoon and yeah so I baked a blueberry pie and oh my god you guys. It’s so good. It was delicious and it does have sugar in it. But I figured out. It’s twenty five grams of sugar in a slice of pie and I’m trying to stay below one hundred grams of sugar a day additional sugar. So so actually that was fine and I think I could decrease the sugar I think I could make that recipe with less sugar because it. Blueberries were sweet and yeah, so so yeah, that was great. Um Saturday I did a lot of hanging out and reading and weeding of the garden if you could see it I think it looks a lot better. You might not be able to tell. But. Yeah, got a lot stuff done in the garden and some like light chores done around the house that sort of thing so it was very relaxing weekend. So um, so yeah, I’m it’s nice to be back on a more even keel I very much appreciate all of you sending me nice notes and Megan Ciana Doidge

35:56.74
jeffekennedy
Bought me something at the farmer’s market email task for my mailing address a couple other people have sent me nice things and I I appreciate you guys. It’s it’s good to know that the support is out there. Um. You know I had a number of people invite me to to dump a rant or vent and I didn’t take advantage a whole lot of that mostly because if I didn’t want if I didn’t have to be dealing with stuff if I didn’t want to be thinking about it or if I didn’t have to be. Talking about it not putting this well am I you understand what I mean right? if I didn’t have to be directly dealing with it I didn’t want to think about it is what I am trying to say ah but you all are you all are wonderful I appreciate the the community that I have. Um, yeah, so I’m going to get to work and get this book finished and so on and so forth I hope that you guys all have a wonderful week. Many of you in the us anyway are on holiday today. So I hope it’s full of the holiday ish things that you would like it to be and I will talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye bye. Or goodbye. It doesn’t want to go.

What Would You Write If You Weren’t Afraid?

I’m working away on my novella for the FIRE OF THE FROST midwinter holiday fantasy romance anthology! The story takes place in the Bonds of Magic world more or less at the same time as the events in DARK WIZARD. You can preorder now for the December 2 release!

    

Also, this is really cool! THE ORCHID THRONE is on this amazing Book Riot list: 20 OF THE BEST ENEMIES-TO-LOVERS FANTASY BOOKS. Fair warning! This list might have you click-buying. It sure did for me.

At the SFF Seven this week we’re talking censorship. Charissa and KAK already provided excellent discussions of the difference between censorship and blocking disinformation and hate. So, I’m going to take the topic in a slightly different direction, which is looking at the ways we censor ourselves.

A perennial problem for writers – perhaps for all creatives – is getting rid of the other voices in our heads. Something new authors often seem to ask is how to write about topics their families consider off limits for one reason or another. They can be concerned about dealing with sexual topics or gender-related ones, politics, family secrets, etc. It’s not easy to free ourselves to write when there’s that persistent worry that someone we love will read it and be angry. And so we censor ourselves, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously.

On a larger scale, we live in an era of loud voices. In an attention economy, where businesses thrive or fail based on clicks, the loudest, most persistent voices can be the most lucrative. This kind of environment isn’t conducive to the silence creatives need in order to coax new art into being. Those loud voices can drown out the quiet whispers of something fragile and newly born to the world. The voices can also leak into our thoughts and dictate what we should and shouldn’t write. Thus we censor ourselves, killing those new sprouts before we even have time to discover what they are.

What’s the solution? There are no easy answers. I can offer that I have a poster hanging over my desk, one I made myself. It says:

What would you write if you weren’t afraid?

I look at it often when I hesitate, when voices leak into my head, when I start worrying about the final story and how it will be received. It keeps me going.

Write through the fear. You can always edit later.

The Ideal Time to Glom the Forgotten Empires Trilogy!

With THE PROMISED QUEEN – the stirring conclusion to the Forgotten Empires trilogy! – releasing in just two weeks, my publisher is offering a fantastic sale on the first two books in the series. Now is a great time to glom those books and be on fire to read book three!

“A fantasy romance by a writer at the top of her game.There are two strands to this story and each is beautifully distinctive. The chapters portraying Lia, the virgin queen who protects her people from the ruthless emperor through statecraft and artifice, are lush and hypnotic. Those that follow the damaged Conri and his army of rebel slaves are raw and propulsive. Kennedy plays with these differences building tension so that when the two come together it is like a match to tinder. The world building is immersive and there are secondary characters to root for (especially fond of Ambrose, Conri’s wizard). I only wish I didn’t have to wait so long for the 2nd book.” – Maria Vale, author of The Last Wolf

           

Why Daydreaming Increases Productivity

Our topic at the SFF 7 this week is: Dreamzoning (term from Robert Olen Butler’s book From Where You Dream): Do you daydream on purpose?

I’m not familiar with this book, but I absolutely daydream on purpose! I call it The Dreamthink. Come on over to find out more!

 

Kicking That Sitting Habit

Happy 2021 everyone!!

First things first: If you haven’t yet read Book One in my Forgotten Empires trilogyTHE ORCHID THRONE ebook is on sale for only $2.99 all month. This is a great opportunity to start the series, as Book Three, THE PROMISED QUEEN, comes out in May!

We’re kicking off a new year here at the SFF Seven and we’re talking writer fitness. If sitting is the new smoking, what are the perils of a sedentary art and how do you counteract it?

That means it’s time for my regular evangelistic sermon on the many virtues of my walking desk!! Come on over to find out more. You know you want to.

Using the 8-Scene, 3-Act Structure to Tighten – plus Snippets from THE PROMISED QUEEN!

A tease for you all, of the cover for THE PROMISED QUEEN. It’s mostly final, but I don’t know when we’ll do a cover reveal. The reveal for THE FIERY CROWN cover wasn’t until October so… it might be a while. It’s lovely, though, and I think you all will be delighted!

I’ve been working on developmental edits on THE PROMISED QUEEN. When I turned in the draft to Editor Jennie, it came in at 118,489 words. That’s 426 pages in Word (12pt Times New Roman, 1″ margins, double spaced) for those who don’t speak wordcount. It was long. So long that I didn’t add the final scene I really wanted – it was more of an epilogue, anyway – and some of the ending went faster than I wanted. Fortunately, Editor Jennie found some places to condense – mostly in the first 200 pages, a lot in the first 100 pages – and she wants those final scenes added/fleshed out, too. She’s asking me to aim for 112-1115K.

That means a lot of cutting. My least favorite kind of revision, alas.

But it’s going okay. I’ve cut 4,568 words so far, and have the draft at 113,921. I’ve also figured out that if I trim the chapters in Act 1 by ~6,600 words, then the Act 1 climax falls at the right place for the book to have the right 8-scene, 3-act structure to be complete at 115K. That tells me my mission is to trim and tighten Chapters 2-7. (Because Chapter 1 is already the shortest and as tight as can be.) This is one reason track chapter wordcounts and apply the math to discern where unhealthy padding is distorting the story structure.

A couple of posts you can read to learn more about this are Geeking Out Over the 8-Scene, 3-Act Structure (resurrected from a guest post on a now defunct blog) and Learning My Own Lessons, which references the first post.  (Incidentally, I wrote Learning My Own Lessons in May 2015 as I was working on THE PAGES OF THE MIND, my RITA(R) Award-winning book. Many of you – especially those who listen to my First Cup of Coffee podcast – will recognize the same process angst in it that I have today.)

Some of the cutting was easy – snippets that Jennie highlighted as bits that could go. They’re not even big enough to count as deleted scenes. They’re mostly just bits of conversation that made me smile.

So, as promised on the podcast, and as requested by those of you who don’t use Facebook, where I posted one. Here are a few snippets to tantalize you, ones that aren’t too big of spoilers. Likely this will be the only place they’ll survive.

*****************

Lia sighed out a breath on a murmur of sound, and turned toward me. I lifted my hand and she burrowed beneath my arm, tucking her head against my chest and curling into me like a kitten seeking warmth. Carefully, I adjusted the covers around her again, and laid my arm so as not to crush her with it.

And finally slept.

*****************

He released my shoulders, shrugging. “Not the first time. What would be weird is if we weren’t.”

“Argh!” I growled incoherently and, making a fist with my good hand, hit his chest with the meat of it. It was like punching a wall.

His grin widened and he rubbed the spot. “Hey—that was pretty decent. You’re already stronger.”

Not strong enough, though. I’d been at my peak before Anure got ahold of me. If that happened again when I was so weak, I’d collapse even faster. I nearly broke down just thinking about it.

*****************

She snorted. “As sensitive as a stone wall.”

I must be more sensitive than she thought, because that stung.

*****************

None of them would’ve shown such a lack of manners with Lia on the throne, and I felt like the substitute tutor having to get mean with the kids who thought they’d get away with bad behavior.

*****************

“It would be useful to know,” Lia agreed.

“You don’t know?” I asked, somewhat surprised. Lia had spies in Yekpehr, and elsewhere, no doubt.

She shook her head minutely. “Not precise numbers, no. Their existence isn’t spoken of openly. I’ve been guessing that Anure has them, and discovering Princess Rhéiane may be there has added weight to the theory.”

“Just Rhéiane, Your Highness,” Sondra corrected.

“Pardon Me?” Lia raised a brow but seemed unoffended.

“Rhéiane, like my name, carries the honorific with it,” I explained.

“Ah, of course.” Lia nodded. “Conrí and Rhéiane. Your parents named you with their ambitions.”

“Or hubris that tempted the gods to prove them wrong,” I muttered, making her lips twitch in a smile.

*****************

Sondra sidled up to me. “Good idea to drink the water or no? What’s this ‘if you dare’ thing? Give it to me straight.”

I nearly laughed, but managed not to. “It will only show you the truth—but you know as well as I do that the truth can be difficult to take.”

“Truer words,” she muttered, then gave me a salute. “Good luck, huh? Taming the monster and all.”

*****************