First Cup of Coffee – June 2, 2022

Updates in general – THE STORM PRINCESS AND THE RAVEN KING is done except for the epilogues! which I’m really enjoying writing because they’re great touch-backs to the original Twelve Kingdoms trilogy. And other stuff…

Good morning, everyone. This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Um, delicious. If you’re on video. You’ll see that it’s a little bit breezy here this morning today this Thursday June second six two 2022 for some reason the transcript. Has trouble with numbers. Um, so I’m trying to enunciate them better. We’ll see if that helps. So yeah, it’s um, a coolish morning I am outside and we make it rain today. Which would be most welcome. Ah definitely has that? Um, it feels like being on the pacific northwest coast or even Southern California or San Diego you know a? ah. Cool beach day. It’s some just amazing. How distinct that moist specificific air is when it makes its sway over to us.

So, things are going well yesterday was a good day. A good writing day I did finish the actual story woo I finished the actual book. Um, climactic scene and all of that. I felt like I had not stuck the landing on it. Um, and I I don’t know I felt like I that there’s this inning there that I could find that was remaining elusive but Carien read it and she likes it. She thinks it’s great. She had only like one suggestion for expansion. So we’ll see I still need to go back and revise about the last. Well it was 83 pages that I wrote now it’s going to be more because I can sort of tell you guys where I’m at. I am at Ninety Thousand five hundred and five words which astute listeners astute and regular listeners will recognize as being well beyond my estimate but we knew those epilogues were going to be long right? I finished the first epilogue and it is almost 3K words they may all be. About 3,000 words but Carien loves it so far I’m actually really loving writing them. So yesterday I wrote 3,226 words. That’s what I did in my 3 hours and when I get to the point of. Revising yeah see now I’m up to 91 pages that I’m going to have to revise. Although I think that the epilogues will revise pretty fast but it’s fun. It’s really fun because um I don’t want to spoiler anything for you guys. But. I don’t feel like this is a spoiler because it’s expected. But if you want to know nothing cover your ears for a minute because the none epilogue is our intrepid heroes returning to castle Ordnung and so I get to have a scene with. Ursula and it’s um, it was just really fun to write an extended scene with Ursula again heroine of Talon of the hawk the high queen I hear Jackson inside wanting to come out shall. We let him come out. He’s been good lately. I’ve been letting him go free inside the sacred garden hold on no that wasn’t him must have been hearing things the um house across the way and where our houses are spaced out pretty distant but over that way has um.

Children I know two small children and one of them when she is running around and playing sounds very much like a cat to me I think it’s partly distance. But you know that? ah. But says something that I hear that as a cat I’m sure Jackson was happily inside extracting treats from his puzzle box that’s been a a great thing have um genie mom to think for that one. And she’s also been featuring the bonds of magic audio books on her listen up review site. So I appreciate that. Thank you Jen although I don’t think she listens to this podcast so she won’t know that I thanked her. I was amused with myself yesterday in the blog posts that I wrote which ended up being a fairly log blog post too. But I felt like I had things to say and telling that story and looking up Brianne Merritt my my old nemesis who never knew she was my nemesis and was my nemesis for no good reason. Other than that I was jealous I was a young and jealous 18 year old alas not always the wise and zen woman you see before you now or. Here before you now. Ah I am saying that ironically I hope you know that. So um, let’s see so yeah, epilogues are going to be long but I am getting through them. Um. My friend Kelly Robson who checks in with me every day on writing stuff and ask me if I thought I was going to be done yesterday I was like no way. But I finished the first epilogue got part way through the second I got like. five pages into the second and the first one was ten pages. So yeah I kind of know where this one’s going so we’ll see um and then I’ve got two more after that maybe by tomorrow I don’t know. Going to write her coffee this morning and buy flowers for the wedding for Megan’s wedding so that’s exciting and I feel like I should be talking about more writing and industry stuff and my mind is a blank.

But in a good way. Um I was maybe supposed to do something for SFWA yesterday. There’s this author coalition call that occurs on the first Wednesday of the month so now that it’s June. It was yesterday and it’s at 11am my time and I I probably mentioned this before but a lot of the people on the call. Just do not seem like they have anywhere else to be because I spend a really long time talking about stuff and I feel like I am a. 1 of my failings as a human being is that I am impatient and I have to reign in my impatience. It is a constant struggle for me, you guys to rein in my impatience. But. It’s um I think it’s because I tend to do things pretty fast and in concentrated ways and when other people don’t do that. It robs me wrong. You know like the um, the grocery store clerk who like. Vaguely checks out your stuff and stops to talk to people and gets distracted and then you know some something goes on over there and they’re like oh ha ha ha ha and you’re like could you just fucking scan my groceries or at least I’m like that I don’t say that i. I rein in my impatience. So. But yeah, um, I’m not subjected to many meetings that I don’t control anymore which is great for me right? That’s one of the great benefits of having the ah career that I have at this point I love. Not having to attend meetings um you know like you do in corporate life all of the meetings that I attend are almost all so like None of the meetings that I have now are all things that I am invested in hearing about. They’re either about my favorite subjects me my books and my career. Um, you know so meetings with like my agent or my editors or things like that or they are SFWA meetings. Wow I felt like hair in my face. Flowing around from that breeze I think I washed it this morning and I can’t do anything was it.

So some randomness for you. But so like this call I do feel like it’s good. We have somebody else. Michael Capobianco who is a long time and very able volunteer at attends those calls anyway. But. I attended once a couple months ago because I had a specific issue bring to bring up to the other writers organizations and Capo as he is fondly known said that SFWA has two seats on this call and that he thought it would be great for the SFWA president to attend and I think it’s a great idea too. But when it comes to the execution yesterday I was I was writing hot I’ve got to finish freaking this book I didn’t say that well did I got to finish this freaking book freaking finish this book. Um, and. I just did not want to stop to be on this call. So I I was bad and I elected to not do it I’ve been doing more of these things in this last week or so and I think it’s just because I really needed to like taking. Entire days off of checking my sifwa email I I do think it is self- preservervation and I am we’re technically on hiatus to recover from the conference and so forth. So I was like you know what? I’m just going to be on hiatus and. Focus on the writing so that felt good. Um I need to finish paying bills and yesterday I finished early enough that I spent a couple of hours balancing the finances and I’m still crunching royalties. I have to finish crunching for Amazon and for my website sales and then pay bills. So I may get that done today. But the other thing I’m doing today big excitement in my world is I am going to in-person yoga with my favorite yoga teacher first time since. Pandemic. Um, she’s been doing like Zoom yoga I’ve mentioned that a number of times on here and doing recorded sessions by Vimeo and I have found I just do not like the combination of screen time in yoga it like makes it be not yoga for me. So she’s doing these classes that are simultaneous virtual and in person I think this is the future right? We’re all doing this right? The the hybrid options. So but I get to go. She’s opened a new yoga studio with another guyhoo I really like and I’m gonna go do freaking.

in-person yoga. So yes, mother I will be going into town and back twice today. She’s been laughing at me that how much I’m going into town because you know for so long I almost went nowhere but um so it works out. On Thursdays with it being writer coffee day and yoga day because this is the yin yoga class that I really like at four o’clock and as I mentioned I was chastised by the massage therapist for not maintaining my own flexibility. So. I need to get with that birds are so happy this morning I don’t know if you can hear them in the background but they’re just chipping away so pleased at having this moisture in the air. It really brightens them up. Dear, big excitement in my world was. We had our septic septic tank emptied yesterday and got it’s it’s kind of absurd how you can be proud of these things but got an a plus rating on our maintenance of the septic tank. So I did not. Know that it makes a difference if you use a disposal because this guy who’s ah I mean he was really like a classic cowboy type even had a cowboy hat dressed like a cowboy talked like a cowboy but he was great. He was efficient and very sweet. He accidentally ran over. Of our cactus um sort of we have like this center thing which we call the center thing I don’t know if there’s a name for it. But you know like our driveway goes around the center thing and we have a bunch of cactus planet in there and he ran over one of part of one of them with those big tires and he felt really bad about you. Brought me out there to see it and he’s like I try to be careful but I can’t always feel and there really is not much of a lip there and and he tried and he wanted to knock a hundred dollars off of the price and I felt I felt bad about that I was like oh I don’t think it was a hundred dollar cactus and in fact it’s one that we. Planted with a paddle from another cactus cactus are ridiculously easy to plant and propagate if you are interested. Here’s our botany section first cup of coffee. All you have to do is take one of the paddles use um tongs like kitchen tongs. But you know like if you have a neighbor with a cactus or you see a cactus somewhere where someone won’t mind you can just take a paddle like from the bottom you just take that and you lay it on the ground them done I’m serious and and they will root themselves. You know, put it in a hot spot.

Hot dry spot. But then so this ah and and it’s too bad because it was blooming all these beautiful pink flowers. But um, he is like well I I feel bad about that. So I I’ll give you a discount and he said you know it’s was like $300 to have the septic tank. Um. Cleaned and everything and he said let’s just make it 200 so I wrote the check for 250 because I thought yeah and he did great work if I still took some of it the the discount discount for my squash cactus. But anyway he said that we didn’t have a crust in there but we won’t think too hard about the crust but he said um, you must not have a garbage disposal and I sorry to answer and he looked at me and he said or you don’t use it very much and I said I do not use it very much. Um. First of all, it doesn’t work great and second of all we compost a lot but he said yeah if you use the garbage disposal a lot that really affects the septic tank and you get this crust in there who knew you know it’s like you buy a house with a septic tank and they do not. Give you instructions you could see the birds zooming around behind me. They’re very active. So yes, I’m it’s always good news to know that your septic tank is in good condition. I’m always hearing it seems like about people having septic disasters everybody out here is on a septic tink. My mom said she didn’t know I was on septic and it’s like um you know live eight miles outside of santa fe depending on which way the crow is flying and we are not on seur where. We are our own water system and everybody has septic. So um, let’s see those have been random thoughts right? What else? Oh I’ve got almost all 3 covers for the covenant of thorns books they’re going to be super cool. You guys this concept I just love it and we’re just going ahead and doing all 3 because she sent me all these options for the first one after I you know I told you I got that sort of like um shiver of delight at seeing one that was a like really different kind of concept. And so when I said I want this one and she said oh that’s my favorite too which I always feel like is good sign if the artist loves that one best then? you’re onto something right? So then she sent me a whole bunch of choices and I was like I loved them all and I made Darynda look at them and she loved them all.

But I picked out 3 that I think worked great for the progression of the trilogy and so we’re just going ahead and doing that So that’s awesome Huh You guys are gonna love him all right? Well I think that’s it for me. So um, yeah I’m gonna go do my thing. You go do your thing I Hope it’s a great thing and I will talk to you all tomorrow bye-bye.

When the Algorithm Works

Sometimes I buy my own books on Amazon. There are a few reasons for this, the primary one being that some publishers, like Kensington, never give me finished digital versions of my books. That means that the last version I’ll have of any of my Kensington books is the Word document where I reviewed copy edits. Yeah, I can accept all changes and make a reading version to send to my Kindle – and sometimes I do that – but the formatting is funky and there can be distracting errors. So, if I want to revisit one of my books and read it on my Kindle (like if I’m not at home to grab the paper copy, or if I want to search for something and not read on my laptop) then it sometimes makes sense just to buy the ebook.

Yes, it IS kind of weird to buy my own ebook.

But, I figured I get some of that money back in royalties, and it gives the book a bump in the Amazon algorithm, which never hurts.

So, I did this last week with THE TALON OF THE HAWK. I’d just finished reading Kennedy Ryan’s LONG SHOT, which deals with an abusive marriage (and is *excellent*), and it got me thinking about how I dealt with recovery and healing from sexual assault. This isn’t something I mentioned about THE TALON OF THE HAWK for a long time, because it felt spoilery, but the book has been out for enough time now that I think I can. The heroine, Ursula, suffered sexual abuse in her youth and wrestles with the scars it left behind. I wanted to reread what I did as a foil to what Kennedy Ryan did in her book.

It was an interesting exercise, and I learned quite a few things about my own writing.

Anyway, today, I got this email from Amazon with “Since you read THE TALON OF THE HAWK.” I get these all the time, as we all do, and I never open them because Amazon is always wrong. This time, though, I thought I should look, just to *see* what their AI thinks is like my book. Thus the screen shot above.

The Tessa Dare historical romance is a bit of an outlier – though I don’t care since Tessa is wonderful – but otherwise it’s pretty damn close! Go figure. And I’m pretty chuffed to be listed with Anne Bishop and Seanan McGuire! And Jessie Mihalik is my agent-sister and an awesome writer of SFR.

I’m over at The Romance of Reading Facebook page today, talking about The Magic of Books. I’m also doing some book giveaways, so come on by and chat!

Best Fantasy and Science Fiction

Prisoner of the Crown

The first book in my Chronicles of Dasnaria series, PRISONER OF THE CROWN, is up for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book at Fresh Fiction! You can go there and vote for your favorites in multiple categories. I’m super delighted that this book was nominated. It’s up against tough competition, so I don’t expect it to win, but getting the nod is so gratifying.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is “Spinning the Spiderweb of Complicated Plots.” Come on over for my thoughts!

The RITA® Award – 2018 Scores

This morning I got a new comment on an old post, which is always interesting. When I saw which post, I totally got it. Last year I put up an article on my blog: The RITA® Award – Is It Worth Entering? Right away I knew why that post, because we all got our scores from the 2018 RITA® Award contest. 

That’s me above, by the way, at this year’s RITA ceremony, with my fantastic agent, Sarah Younger, and one of her newest clients and Golden Heart finalist, Alexia Chantel

I won’t reiterate everything I said last year about the contest, except to say that I still believe in everything I said then, 100%. Even though I didn’t final with either of the books I entered this year. And I’m going to share my scores again, because so many people said they appreciated that I did so last year. 

I entered two books, The Shift of the Tide in Paranormal Romance, and With a Prince in Short Contemporary Romance. 

My scores?

The Shift of the Tide: 9.6, 9.5, 8.9, 7.9, 5.9 – Final Score: 8.7666666667
With a Prince:  9.5, 8.6, 8.3, 7.9, 7.2 – Final Score: 8.2666666667

The Final Score is figured by dropping the highest and lowest scores, then averaging the other three. Finalists in each category are the top 4% of scores, unless there are fewer than four or more than ten, in which case it’s adjusted. 

I’m super pleased with these scores! The average for The Shift of the Tide is second only to that for The Pages of the Mind, which finaled and won last year, so score! And I’m pleasantly surprised by the consistent scores on With a Prince

One interesting trend, the score for the Top 25% in the Paranormal Romance Category has been going up. (25% of all entries had final scores equal to or above that score.) In 2015, it was 8. In 2017, 8.23. And in 2018, 8.3. That indicates to me that overall scoring is higher, and the field even more competitive. I don’t have the 2016 data when I entered The Talon of the Hawk. Maybe I didn’t get my scores that year? Or maybe I deleted the email in a fit of pique because I’d been so hoping it would final. (It won best Fantasy Romance from RT that year after all!) I seem to recall a judge marked it “Not a Romance,” which also happened with The Mark of the Tala. Happens to all of us. 

I also haven’t really tracked the trend in averages for Contemporary Romance, as it’s not my primary genre, but I can tell you the Top 25% score was 8.36, even higher than for Paranormal. Very competitive!

So, onward and upward. You bet I’m entering again for 2019. 🙂


The Right Words at the Right Time – Supporting Newbie Authors


THE CROWN OF THE QUEEN will be available as a stand-alone novella on November 22! (You can preorder now at Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.) If you already have FOR CROWN AND KINGDOM, this is the exact same novella in that duology with Grace Draven. You can get mine alone for $2.99 or both of us for $3.99. A deal, either way!! If you haven’t read it, THE CROWN OF THE QUEEN takes place between THE TALON OF THE HAWK and THE PAGES OF THE MIND. It’s told from Dafne’s point of view and bridges the events in the aftermath of TALON and sets up her book, which is PAGES.

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is “The person(s) most influential on my early writing career.” Come on over to find out who made all the difference for me when I needed it most

Channel Your Outrage into Art

the talon of the hawkCan our calendar guru see into the future? If so, I want words with KAK on if she saw these elections results coming!

Maybe it’s just me reading in. Our topic this week is: Writing fuel – taking caffeine (coffee and tea) off the table, what fuels your words?

Lemme tell you, folks – I’ve been writing a lot this week. Come on over to the SFF Seven to find out more