I mentioned that, during the time I was shopping the novel, I dabbled in various short pieces. In the spring of 2009, I saw a call from Samhain, a digital-first publisher, for submissions for their “Red Hot Fairytales” anthology. Now, I was the queen of writing to theme, from all those years of writing for magazines and answering various calls for submission. I’d long been an admirer of Anaïs Nin, Pauline Réage and Anne Rice’s sexier pseudonyms.
I thought I could likely write sexy. And besides, I’d long had an idea for a truly dark and sexy take on Beauty and the Beast.
I wrote the story, submitted it and received a rejection. But my critique partners said it was good, so I hit up one of my friends from the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter for publishers to send it to. She gave me her top three choices. One of them bought the story, which became Petals and Thorns.
I admit I cried when I received the email accepting it. Not from joy, but because I had thought that my long drought would end with selling the novel. Instead this dark and erotic BDSM tale had been snapped up. I published it under a pseudonym—Jennifer Paris—because I had the idea the story didn’t belong with my “real” writing.
Petals and Thorns has sold well. In only a few months, sales from it were enough to earn me a place as a published writer in RWA’s eyes. I’ve made more money from it than from that fabulous Redbook sale long ago, more than sales of essay collection ever brought in. It continues to sell well, bringing in a steady income each month.
Deciding that I’d exhausted opportunities for the novel, I started a second speculative fiction novel. In 2010, I gave it to several agents who’d asked to see my next book, when they didn’t know how to sell the first. No dice. The second novel was, if anything, a more difficult sale than the first.
So I wrote another erotic story, Sapphire, and immediately sold it to another digital-first publisher, Carina Press. Then an editor from Ellora’s Cave, who’d missed out on Petals and Thorns due to a miscommunication, emailed and asked me to send her something else. They bought my post-apocalyptic vampire erotic story, Feeding the Vampire.
I finally sent the first, beloved, redheaded stepchild of a fantasy novel to my editor at Carina Press. She asked me to make some very savvy revisions, which I did. After all, what was one more pass?
To my astonished delight, Carina bought the book. Rogue’s Pawn will come out July 16, as the first in the series I envisioned years ago, A Covenant of Thorns.
The best part is, my sexy stories gained an audience, a following, even. Those readers are looking forward to the release of Rogue’s Pawn in a way I never could have counted on back when I was a newbie fiction writer.
Jeffe Kennedy took the crooked road to writing, stopping off at neurobiology, religious studies and environmental consulting before her creative writing began appearing in places like Redbook, Puerto del Sol, Wyoming Wildlife, Under the Sun and Aeon. An erotic novella, Petals and Thorns, came out under her pen name of Jennifer Paris in 2010, heralding yet another branch of her path, into erotica and romantic fantasy fiction. Since then, an erotic short, Feeding the Vampire, and another erotic novella, Sapphire, have hit the shelves. Her contemporary fantasy novel, Rogue’s Pawn, book one in A Covenant of Thorns, will be published in July, 2012. Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, with two Maine coon cats, a border collie, plentiful free-range lizards and frequently serves as a guinea pig for an acupuncturist-in-training.