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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Story Ideas

Please welcome guest blogger Jeffe Kennedy

Sometimes when we start stories, we have no idea how we’ll sell them.

At least, I don’t. I’m not one of those writers who’s good at analyzing the market and writing something for a particular one. Years of writing for magazines or anthologies that put out calls for particular themes, though, has taught me to recognize opportunities. And that they’re not always in the form we expect.

So, when I first started FEEDING THE VAMPIRE, it was really just writing down this funky dream I had. I woke up from the dream knowing I had to write it down, even though I had no idea where the story would go or what I’d do with it. All I knew about it was the key scene – which is the opening scene of the story now – and that it was 1) about a vampire, 2) sexy and 3) post-apocalyptic.

Now you know why I didn’t think, right off, “Oh, I know where I’ll do with it!” Instead, I captured it and filed it.

I have a fair number of these, actually, in a Fragments folder.

Sometime later, I saw a call for an anthology. The theme inspired me to remember my poor post-apocalyptic, vampire story. I finished the story to meet the anthology’s specs, strongly guided by their theme – and with some brainstorming help from my CPs. It took the story in a very logical direction and I had big fun writing it.

Alas, the anthology said no.

What was I going to do with my marketless 5,000 word story? Right – back in the file. This time to a Wallflowers folder. Complete, but with no potential dates.

Not long after that, an editor from Ellora’s Cave contacted me. She had looked at PETALS AND THORNS but, due to a mix-up in their communications, missed acquiring it. (I had already sold it to Loose Id.) She wondered if I had anything to show her, because she’d still like to acquire some of my work. I didn’t really have anything up EC’s alley though. I’d been working on my novels and they aren’t hot enough for what she wanted. But the vampire story was, I realized.

So I asked her if she’d like to look at this 5K story. She said yes. I sent it and she loved it. But, she asked me to bring it up to 7,000 words, to fit their Quickie line. I asked for where she’d like to see me expand and with her suggestions – and a bit more input from my CPs – FEEDING THE VAMPIRE was complete. My post-apocalyptic, vampire erotica found a home after all.

Better, it fit right into my goals of diversifying to several different, well-established digital-first publishers.

I suppose the moral is don’t worry if you don’t know where you’ll sell a story when you get the idea. Give thanks for the gift, write it down so you’ll remember and keep it on file.

You never know when you might see an opportunity just perfect for it.

Jeffe 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. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow (2001), was a Wyoming Arts Council roster artist, when she lived in Wyoming, and received the state’s 2005 Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award for a woman writer of exceptional talent in any creative writing genre and the 2007 Fellowship for Poetry. Jeffe has contributed to several anthologies, Drive: Women’s True Stories of the Open Road. (2002), Hard Ground (2003), Bombshells (2007) and Going Green (2009). Her first book, Wyoming Trucks, True Love and the Weather Channel was published by University of New Mexico Press in 2004. 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. 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.


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.


Laura Bickle said...

I find that often it's about market timing - today might not be the day for a story I wrote. But the market might be ripe six months from now, or next year.

Jeffe Kennedy said...

That's a good point, Laura. The market is always changing, so what's unmarketable today might be the hot thing tomorrow!

Cathy in AK said...

Yep, got those files too. Some are completed stories, some are halves, some are just a sentence or a few paragraphs of ideas. All are in the "Some Day" category : )

Jeffe Kennedy said...

I love those sentence-long ones, Cathy. Sometimes I go back to them and wonder what the hell I meant!