First Cup of Coffee with Jeffe Kennedy

First Cup of Coffee - August 11, 2023

August 11, 2023 Jeffe Kennedy Season 6 Episode 69
First Cup of Coffee with Jeffe Kennedy
First Cup of Coffee - August 11, 2023
Show Notes Transcript

A story about how Romance continues to be treated like antimatter in some parts of the SFF community. Also, exciting news on ONEIRA, and a bit more about agents and being careful who you pitch to.

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Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I'm here with my first cup of coffee ah sheer bliss. Ah. Today is say it with being people Friday woo August Eleventh is so it is to double check. It's definitely ah August Eleventh who now. So if you're on video you'll see. It's kind of a breezy morning. Here in Santa Fe it actually has a slightly autumnal feel here. We are already moving towards autumn so news exciting news I believe yeah, this all happened. Since we last spoke since we last met for coffee so agent Sarah got back to me on Oneira and shockingly enough she loved it. Loved it. I mean either. She's being nice to me which is possible. But. I mean she doesn't usually pull punches but she told me she said jeffie you have created your very own fairy tale and its magic isn't that cool. It is kind of a fairy tale. It is an original fairy tale.

So um, she wants to go out on submission with it next week. Ah so that's fast, right? We're not going to dork around with it much. She asked me to add one chapter towards the end which interestingly enough is a chapter that Jennifer Estep who read it also suggested that I add. Um so I'm going to do that I worked on Twisted Magic this week not robustly but I am moving it forward I meant like I don't know 4000 words on it or something. It's been kind of a crazy week. It's been um, Raggeddy and I haven't been very good at getting stuff done I talked to Sarah on Wednesday I think on Wednesday. So yeah I've kind of been tired from conference travel and then. There's been drama from other things absorbing a lot of time and emotional energy. Don't you hate that? Yeah and I want to talk about that some too I hope I'll remember to come back to it I should put like little notes here for myself. But I think I will remember well actually I'm just gonna say it now. So I don't forget um I do want to talk to you some about other things at the conference and being on this panel with ah DonWong Song and some of the things that they said that I don't necessarily agree with and i.

I feel fine saying that here on the the podcast because I said it on the panel. So that's how the industry works. Um, but 1 thing that DonWong said

And I don't remember exactly what it was in response to but we were talking about schedules and process and so forth and I was talking about how I'm a very ritualized writer and that I um eat well you all? Well maybe you haven't listened to my podcast a lot. But anyway i. You know I tend to be pretty disciplined about it and and that's the word that I use that you know this is my job and I try to write at the same time every day which I do understand not everybody can do but I do make it a point to um, but. Just be pretty ritualized and disciplined about getting that work count in right and DonWong said that they had been working with writers for many many years I don't I think DonWong. They've been an agent since. Think they said sinces like 2007 something like that and Don Wong is a very prestigious ah agent at at Howard Moreheim very well known for science fiction and fantasy. Um, but DonWong said that they've been working with writers for years. And that they knew yeah excuse me. Yeah, thank you all of you out there who gave me good wishes over the sneezes apologies for that. Ah, but that some days writers just couldn't write and that.

You know some days you are overwhelmed with email and all of that kind of thing and I thought it was interesting because my point had been that I do not look at email until after I get my word count in I do my best not to do that I try not to look at social media until after I have my word count in. And for me, it's very much about building a fence around the writing and prioritizing word count and and this is what I said at the panel. It's all coming back to me now in Celine Dion's voice. Ah I did watch love again on the airplane with Sam HHeughan and um oh and I'm not goingnna be able to think of the name of the indian actress but she was amazing and Celine Dion was in it. It was was okay. Um I cried at the beginning I really liked a lot of it I thought um the whole celine dion aspect was a little odd and didn't necessarily work. So no I diverged again. Yeah to Kim ah, at any rate what I had said was that if you don't prioritize word counts if you don't make that the number one priority in your life as a writer then it will slide to the absolute bottom of the list. And I realize that that's probably oversimplifying and overstating and and I do I think I added this on the panel I said you know for me like I'm not responsible for keeping small human beings alive if you're responsible for keeping small human beings alive then that has to be your top priority.

Um, or they send you to prison? No really for other reasons than that. Um, but you get my point because if you make dealing with the dishes or with email. Or with your extended family or I don't know even your day job a higher priority than writing then all of those things will shove the writing down to the bottom of the list so you have to find a way to make writing be. The number one most important thing you get done every day aside from keeping small human beings alive and and I mean that on top of day job too. You know like whatever you have to do to have the um you know like schedule your day job around the writing. I mean don't tell your day job bosses this but that's what you have to do right? and I thought it was interesting that Don Wong said well you know some days. There's just other things going on and you have to deal with those things and I feel like that's. Ah, precious approach to writing I feel like that's the approach of people who um I don't know for whom writing is more of a hobby because if for example, if you have a day job.

Or have had a day job most of us have worked at some point. But if you are expected to be at your day job at a particular time and work a certain number of hours. You don't tell your day job bosses. Oh sorry I had a lot of email to deal with right? This is this is the tough love this is the the hard truth if writing is your job if you want it to be your job then you have to treat it that way and yes, it's creative. Yes, you can't force it. It's not like being I always use the example of checking groceries of the grocery store. Groceries come to you you stand there and people bring their groceries to you and you check them and it's very straightforward and writing doesn't work that way creative work doesn't work that way but you do show up, you show up and you're ready for the words. Come to you so that you can check them. How's that for an extended analogy. It doesn't matter if you have a lot of email that day or if there are other things going on you have to show up for your job or you take sick leave or you take vacation. But. You have to be methodical about it. It can't be just this I do I call it precious take care of your physical and emotional health. Absolutely very important, but none of this. Um oh I just I just couldn't write today because I don't know if the stars weren't mind.

And and I say this after having a very rocky week of writing. Okay, but I'm fully acknowledging that That's my fault that I I let other things get in the way and it was also tumultuous with sort of moving between projects because I feel like I can't focus. Fully on twisted magic while I'm still getting Oneira out the door and people ask me this question a lot so I will answer it here. Yes I'm very much work on 1 project at a time kind of person I don't do the right on one edit on the other in the afternoon doesn't work for me that way. So I'm happy to have gotten twisted magic moving forward of knowing that I was going to be working on oira at the end of the week kind of got in the way of that you know write it off from that week ah so but exciting that I'm going to be doing this I've gotten notes from some of my readers so today I'm writing a synopsis for Sarah agent Sarah and I am um, writing that extra chapter and I'm adding in a few two weeks my partner Jim Sorenson picked up on something that it's funny I started to put it in and I took it out and I thought oh well maybe I don't need this. Maybe I've sufficiently justified me like honed right in on it. He's like you haven't justified this so that's this is why I love him.

And I've got great feedback from other people. So um, that's exciting. So Sarah was gonna take it out on limited submission. She's taking it out next week and she um. Just going to give people a month because she knows that I need a self-published release and so this is part of how we work together. This is a question that often comes up that yeah, she's excited to submit it to tread. But she's not going to have it sitting there forever because she knows that I'm a working writer as in. Paying the bills with writing and so that's how we're gonna do this one if it doesn't sell by like September Fifteenth then I get it back and I will so publish it exciting. So um, and that kind of comes back around to being on this panel with Don wrong. Because 1 of the questions that somebody asked and it might have been the moderator who asked this was how we and the the panel was building a career in speculative fiction and the other person on the panel was a gal named Wendy who has done a lot of. Um, editing for magazines and also writes. Um and so I don't mean to leave her off and Curtis Chen moderated but this was really about me having a difference of opinion with dot wong and that comes down to um in some ways the changing publishing landscape.

And the fact that a lot of aspects of traditional publishing still have not changed so I was addressing the question of how do I work with my agent being a hybrid author and it's exactly these things that we've been talking about where Sarah and I go back and forth on. Which projects are suitable for self-p publishing which are suitable for traditional publishing. Um and this one is is our compromise to see if she can get it out there and sell it and I very much appreciate that Sarah is um so cognizant of my self- publishing career. And respects it and treats it as something that builds my entire career. Ah, and I talked about how that if my process was different for self-published books as opposed to the ones that go to trad and I said. That my goal all along has been for my self-published books to be indistinguishable from the traditionally published ones and I really feel like I've succeeded in that goal that you cannot tell the difference but and then I'm going to back up slightly. Just slightly here to say that at the beginning of the panel that I talked about writing crush genre and how that made it more difficult for me and that um, ah that I write that you know you heard the intro to the podcast I write epic fantasy romance.

But that there are some people who still refer to me as a real romance writer um leaving out the fantasy and I told them I gave them my line I said you know romance isn't well I said that sometimes people ask me how did and that even happened at this conference that somebody said you know. How did a romance writer end up being president of the science fiction and fantasy writers association and I just did the ha ha ha and did't say because I actually write fantasy. Ah that has romance also. But. And so I said this to the crowd at the panel and it was a full room. It was nicely attended I said romance is not antimatter the presence of it in a fantasy novel does not cancel out the fantasy but people treat it as if it does and. I thought that this was interesting because as I'm talking about how Sarah and I decide on projects and that my self-published books I want to be the same as the traditionally published books equivalent quality and after all of this then Don Wong says well I think that it's probably more fluid in romance than in science fiction fantasy and goes on to talk about how it is in science fiction and fantasy and I just this was my face if you're--  You don't even need to be on video to to see my face right? ah.

And I just and and DonWong was at the opposite end of the table or I might have had to like throw a water glass at them. But it's like this is entrenched in people's heads and I find it amazing because I know. Many of DonWong's clients and like I'm thinking of 1 right? Offhand um, actually I I can say this ah Mary Robinette Kowal who I love and adore and is an amazing writer. She is one of DonWong's clients and her um most recent book is called. I should get the actual let's see if I can get okay her book is called The Spare Man and she bills it as and it's traditionally published and it is billed as the thin man in space and we're all familiar with the thin man. It's a great, great little comp. Great catchy. Log line there. The thin man in space. The thin man is a mystery but DonWong doesn't say oh well, it's different in mystery than in science fiction. Ah so you know it's okay to combine any genre with science fiction and fantasy except for romance. And then romance just somehow cancels out all the science fiction fantasy so that was my frustration. Um, and you know and it was interesting because DonWong also was talking entirely in terms of paperbooks you know talking about challenges and the industry paperbooks on the shelves.

It's as if the ebook market doesn't exist and there's this huge chunk of people in the traditional publishing side of things who absolutely see it that way you know and for you know, just for perspective. I could say it's true for me and I know it's true for other authors who self-ublish that our print sales are probably 2 to 3% of our total sales and the rest of it is ebooks and an upset. The final thing I wanted to add on here was that assistant karinene. Had a really good insight about Monday's podcast when I talked about the mistaken identity and people thinking that I was an agent and pitching to me and Carien said well didn't they look up your bio didn't they Google you she said if I were pitching to an agent or thought I was pitching to an agent. I would have googled them and looked up all of their other authors and their works and so forth the books that they do represent and I thought oh wow, that's so smart and insightful. Um because I absolutely would have done the same thing I absolutely have done the same thing back when I was pitching agents. I knew all kinds of stuff about them and I would never have accidentally pitched someone um, who is a writer and not an agent. Ah, and.

And to be fair, this was a very small conference and these were new writers. But I think it's an important point that ah that there is this sense of desperation that the opportunity to pitch to an agent feels like you want an agent any agent at all. Even if you've never heard of them and. This leads to all kinds of trouble. This is how people end up with shitty agents or what are referred to as schmagent um a schmagent is someone who's and and it's kind of the New York publishing community calls them that. They are agents who submit only 2 presses where the author could do it themselves. They're not actually bringing anything to the table. So so the take home there really is you don't want just. Any agent at all I know it can feel that way I really do I've been there but hope hold on my husband was telling me the cat's out here with me. So. Kind of lost my train of thought there. So um, don't let that desperation drive you I often use the metaphor of of engagement that when you've been a wall flower forever. The first time someone asks you to dance you're yes a thousand times. Yes.

You want that diamond ring but this is how you end up married to awful people right? Um, don't don't let desperation drive. You. It's really very true that a bad agent is worse than no agent at all. Um. And especially if the person isn't even an age. So anyway, um, I'm gonna get to work and do this last refining on o niro high sweetheart Killian's out here and yeah I will talk to you all on Monday hope you all have a. Fabulous weekend. You all take care bye bye.