I was doing the “Jeffe Kennedy writing as Jennifer Paris” thing, but Angela James, the executive editor at Carina Press, said no, no, no. Since I really don’t want to “flesh out” Jennifer Paris and tweet or blog as her (she was only a cardboard cut-out anyway), I decided to retire her. However, I have one book “Petals and Thorns” that is by Jennifer Paris.
This has become a dual anniversary for us, because it was two years ago today that we arrived in Santa Fe, in a pouring rain storm, to start house-hunting here. Amazing to us that it’s already two years. And now just one more until he’s done with school.
We always say it, but time flies on by.
The days rush past, with all our little ups and downs, until something reminds us that this isn’t a given. On Tuesday, one of my college friends died. I’ve long had his blog on my blogroll there on the sidebar. The title is now ironic: I’m Not Dead Yet. He’d been battling pancreatic cancer with courage, humor and determination for several years. He hoped to beat the truly terrible odds of this devastating cancer, and did for quite a long time. Eventually his body gave out. He turned 45 in March; I’ll turn 45 next month. I’m still here and he isn’t.
Life – and death – are strange that way.
A few days ago, the young woman my cousin is engaged to posted to Facebook that her grandfather has cancer and we should pray for him because cancer is caused by sin. She’s a Southern Lutheran and he’s now a Lutheran minister. I wanted to comment that my cat died of cancer and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t sinful, but I refrained. There’s no arguing with that kind of belief system.
I think we’d all like to know why. Why one person gets pancreatic cancer young and another does not. Why some live to be very old and others don’t live to see their children grow up.
The one thing I do know is, I’m glad to be alive. I’m happy to be celebrating another year with my friend, partner and lover. I hope never to take this for granted.
Happy birthday, my dear!
Yeah, I know it’s fast. See it’s a “Quickie” (har har) because it’s a short – only 7K words. And Ellora’s Cave turned it around really fast. Their editorial process, in face, is very slick. My editor, Grace, is very sharp and delightful to work with, too.
You didn’t really know I’d written this one?
Well, see it’s my post-apocalyptic vampire erotica. I know, right? My critique partners just shake their heads at me. But it’s not like I*plan* these things. Sometimes I think it would be cool to be one of those writers who plans what they’ll write, but I’m just not.
Here’s the blurb:
Feeding the Vampire
Through good luck and healthy cowardice, Misty has survived the earthquakes that have torn the world apart, but has no skills to speak of. Or so she thinks. She does have blood, and someone must feed the vampire who has offered his protection and strength in exchange for sustenance. Feeding Ivan is a priority, and Misty finally serves a purpose.
But when she awakens tied to his bed, an unwilling gift to Ivan from the townspeople, she discovers he has hungers other than blood. Hungers he expects her to satisfy in the most carnal manner. Under his seductive persuasion Misty discovers she has the power to sustain Ivan in all ways, while experiencing unspeakable pleasure herself.
See, they all come from dreams. Sometimes daydream-type images, but this one is an honest-to-god full-featured dream. In fact, the excerpt below is pretty much what I dreamed and I built the story from there:
I was compelled to feed him. I had no choice, really.
Earl cleared his throat. “Thank you.” Our town administrator looked around for agreement, but they weren’t meeting his eyes either. Like kids ducking the teacher’s gaze. “Thank you, Misty. We all appreciate your…” He trailed off uncomfortably.
Sacrifice? Surely no one wanted to hear that word aloud. Martyr to the cause? No, not much better.
Earl shuffled the papers in his lap. Waiting for me to get to it, I supposed. Well, he had just said that feeding Ivan ought to be the first order of business. We couldn’t very well make plans for our community while the guy in charge of our defenses wilted before our eyes, especially since we needed him alert and focused. Me? I was pretty damn expendable. I hadn’t brought much to the table so far, except my survival, which really was accidental. Right place at the right time. Turns out stolid New England was just the right place to be for the particular form this apocalypse took. Granite bedrock and all that.
My boring hometown was a safe haven and everyone wanted in on our resources. The people turning up every day were let in or turned away depending on what they offered. I counted my lucky stars I’d been grandfathered in simply because my neighbors didn’t have the heart to kick me out. Excellent keyboarding skills and a customer-friendly personality didn’t count for much in this economy. Especially without, um, customers or working keyboards.
I couldn’t afford to be a useless mouth to feed. Their hearts would harden—they already had. Tonight was pivotal. We’d acquired a vampire of our own for defense. Everyone felt better about our future—if we could keep him happy. At least I knew how to make blood. You could say I was a natural.
And yet, the certainty that had propelled me to my feet seemed to be bleeding away, frightened off by Ivan’s fixed intensity and everyone else’s obvious relief. They waited, restless, for me to just get on with it. Uncomfortable silence.
Hi, I’m Misty and I’m a Fool. I haven’t done anything really unwise in twenty-seven days. Kind of a record for me really. Apparently I was due.
The vampire just stared at me.
I set my yellow pad on the chair and made myself walk across the circle to where he sat in the tacky folding metal chair. My sandals slapped lightly on the tiles, making tinny echoes. Ivan’s roving gaze sent tremors of anticipation up my thighs.
A few murmured conversations resumed. They probably didn’t like the creepy silence any more than I did. I appreciated their polite attempt not to gawk. I’d never seen a vampire feed—probably none of them had either.
I stopped in front of Ivan. He leaned back, long legs sprawled out in careless indolence. He tilted his head at my hesitation and held out his hands as if to help me down from a carriage.
“Perhaps we should step out of the room?” I tried.
“I haven’t the strength to stand.” His grave eyes watched me with avid intent.
If I ran, he would definitely find the strength to hunt me down. After all, he’d walked into this room. Heck, he’d arrived at the bridge leading to our sleepy town only last night, offering his protection in return for our shelter and sustenance. He had to have gotten there somehow.
He wrapped his long fingers around my wrists, cuffing them with bands of steel. Exerting steady pressure, he drew me closer, parting his lips. White fangs gleamed with fluorescent highlights. My heart thumped in panic, hot fear filling me.
“Will it hurt?” My voice sounded thready, weak.
Hunger flared in his eyes at the question. “It always does.”
Ivan snapped me against his hard body. The sharp movement splintered any second thoughts. He pulled me astraddle his lap. My cheap cotton dress hiked up alarmingly. The chafe of his dark denim jeans sent tremors up my fully exposed thighs. Shame and terror flashed through me.
Then all thought and emotion burst in flame, immolating me through the fierce violence of his teeth sinking into my throat. The agony of the deep puncture, fear feeding pain, fired through my blood. I struggled like a wild thing, without thought. Animal instinct screamed at me to flee, to escape by any means possible.
The vampire held me trapped. There was no escape for me, the mouse flailing under the cat’s paw.
My will, never my strong point, snapped. The fight ebbed away with the tide of my blood. The steady drop of pressure left me enervated, without resistance. Darkness filled my brain, prickled with sparking stars. I wilted, becoming a bit of detritus washed upon the shore of Ivan’s body.
Pain filled my veins, pumped through my heart. It replaced my blood, spiraling through my body from the insistent penetration of Ivan’s teeth in my throat. Helpless against the crashing waves, I relinquished my last hold on consciousness and sank into the hot, tarry sea of oblivion.
Yeah. Now you know why I remembered THAT dream so clearly.
I really kind of love Misty. She’s different from my other heroines, not as sharp or capable. But she has a different sort of confidence that comes from knowing her limitations. If this story does well, I’d like to write more about her. I suspect she has a lot more to offer than she thinks.
At any rate, you can see the story Here.
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award.
Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, has also been nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and won RWA’s 2017 RITA® Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and is a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The next in the series, The Shift of the Tide, will be out in August, 2017. A high fantasy trilogy taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world is forthcoming from Rebel Base books in 2018.
She also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, and The Forests of Dru. She’s begun releasing a new contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince.
In 2019, St. Martins Press will release the first book, The Orchid Throne, in a new fantasy romance series, The Forgotten Empires.
Her other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.