I’m delighted to have a guest post by Jeffe Kennedy to share with you today! She has published more than 50 works, including The Twelve Kingdoms trilogy, whose final volume won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Fantasy Romance, and The Uncharted Realms, a series set in the same universe whose first installment won the RITA Award for Paranormal Romance. Her recent books include Dark Wizard, The Sorceress Queen and the Pirate Rogue, and her latest novel, The Promised Queen—the final book in the romantic high fantasy trilogy Forgotten Empires, which just released yesterday!


The Promised Queen by Jeffe Kennedy - Book Cover
Read an Excerpt

About THE PROMISED QUEEN (Forgotten Empires #3):

Claim the hand that wears the ring, and the empire falls.

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, claimed the hand that wears the Abiding Ring, but the prophecy remains unfulfilled. Queen Euthalia of Calanthe returned to her island kingdom, but broken in mind and body. With the blood of war unleashing ancient terrors, Calanthe isn’t the haven it once was.

Lia must use her magical bond with Calanthe to save their people while Con fights to hold off the vengeful Emperor Anure and his wizards. Con and Lia will have to trust in each other—and in love—to fend off ultimate disaster.

I remember vividly the first time someone told me I “had made it” as an author. It was summer of 2000 and I’d sold an essay to Redbook for a dollar a word. I’d been writing and publishing personal essays and creative nonfiction for about six years at that point and that $3,000 sale was the pinnacle.

It still is in some ways. I’ve never again made that much money on a work that short. I have novels that still haven’t earned that much.

But at that heady time, more than one person congratulated me. “Wow, you’ve made it!” they’d exclaim, as if I’d crossed some invisible finish line into a land where people would regularly hand me checks for my writing.

Reader: that did not happen.

The truth is, there is no such land. If you ask any author who’s been around a while about times their career crashed, was “over,” when they had to reinvent themselves, I can promise you they will have stories to tell. It is, in fact, one of my favorite questions to ask when I have the opportunity to listen to a career author talk about their life and work. Not because I’m a rubbernecker, but because I learn so much from those stories. At first, I hesitated to ask, feeling uncertain as to whether they’d be insulted or offended by the implication that they might not have sailed the literary seas with golden sails and treasure in the hold.

“Has there ever been a time,” I’d ask with careful phrasing, “when you had to reinvent yourself as a writer?”

Invariably, they laugh, roll their eyes, and say, “Oh, yes. Let me tell you…”

Listen to what they tell you, because the take-home message is always the same. “Making it” is an illusion. Authors who sell their debut book to great acclaim and showers of money? They struggle with later books. Authors who hit it big with a later book and finally, finally receive the attention their books so richly deserve? They spent years scrapping and reinventing before the lightning struck their diligently placed assembly of lightning rods. And they might have to do it again.

Even back in that celebrational summer of 2000, I knew I hadn’t made it. When people said so, I nodded and smiled. But the editor who bought that essay had left the magazine before the issue even went to press, and editor who replaced her brushed me off. I was going to need a lot more $3,000 essays to quit my day job—and most of them paid far less than that. Especially when, not very long after that, the internet billowed into an inferno of free written words. Paid writing gigs vanished almost overnight. Entire magazine and newspaper staffs were laid off. And a whole lot of them decided to try their hand at the blogging thing to make a living.

I kept at it, writing my essays, honing my craft, sending out queries. Going to work at my day job.

In 2004, my first book was published. A university press published my collection of my essays—including the one that had been in Redbook—to lovely acclaim and very little money. I was called “a writer to watch.” Agents contacted me about my next project. One that absolutely none of them liked.

Over the ensuing couple of years, I fought the rising panic at the feeling of an opportunity slipping from my grasp. Once again, I’d “made it”—and found myself nowhere at all. I kept working on my narrative nonfiction project, despite that I could see people’s eyes roll back in their heads when I described it. When my editor at the university press read it, she told me to put it in a drawer for a year, that I wasn’t ready to write it yet.

A year… and my opportunity well and duly lost. I’d never felt so far from having made it. I felt like I’d gone backward.

But, the only way to keep from going backward is to go forward. I kept at it. Because I’d been instructed to put my much-unloved narrative nonfiction project in a drawer, I played around with some fiction. And I sold some stories, then some novellas, then a novel, then a trilogy. Fifteen years after that $3K essay sale, I finally quit the day job.

I now have 56 published titles—including that first essay collection—and you know what? I still haven’t found that “made it” land where people just hand me money and I don’t have to worry about selling my writing. Interestingly enough, somewhere along the way, people stopped saying that I’d made it. Oh, every once in a while, an interviewer asks how and when I knew I’d made it. I try really hard not to snicker as I compose my expression and try to give a meaningful answer.

But when someone asks, “Has there ever been a time when you had to reinvent yourself as a writer?” Then I let myself laugh. I roll my eyes and lean forward. Let me tell you some stories…

Photo of Jeffe Kennedy
Photo by Pritschow Photography

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning, best-selling author who writes fantasy with romantic elements and contemporary romance. She serves on the Board of Directors for Science Fiction Writers of America as a Director at Large.

Her recent works include the high fantasy trilogy The Chronicles of Dasnaria, in the same world as her award-winning fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms. She is a hybrid author, and also self-publishes a romantic fantasy series, Sorcerous Moons. Her books have won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015 and won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award in 2017. The Dragons of Summer, a novella in The Uncharted Realms series, was also a RITA finalist in 2019.

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, every Sunday at the SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and on Twitter.