After Lovergirl, I wrote two collections of short stories. Others may disagree, but I found short stories easier. The chasm, after all, is smaller. Short stories can be written in one sitting. And if not in one sitting, then in one week. They don’t sprawl, they don’t intimidate, in the same way that a novel does. They feel manageable, episodic.
I never expected to publish my short stories in anything but anthologies. No one publishes short stories, or so I was told. Lovergirl was the book I want to publish, after all. The short stories were just an exercise, a challenge, an amusement.
But then HarperCollins wanted to publish Seduce Me, and I thought my career was made. I’d write short stories and be an author! I’ve Been a Naughty Girl was my second short story collection, written hot on the tails of my publishing deal for Seduce Me–only no one wanted to publish it.
After I finally found a small publisher who would, at least, get the book out there, I decided to try something different, to change the rules of the game. If short stories didn’t sell, I would write something else. I was too daunted to write a “proper” novel, despite the fact that novels were easier to sell than short stories. I could appreciate that, but the idea of a novel still terrified me, so I tried something else.
I wrote a choose your own adventure book. Breathe With Me, which will finally be released this November, is an erotic novel modeled after the choose your own adventure books I had read as a kid. In it, you, as the protagonist, can select your own destiny, or, to be more precise, your own fantasy. Want to hit on the sexy bartender? Just go to this page. Want to go home with your ex? Turn here. Fancy a threesome at a hip hotel? You got it.
The choose your own adventure format may have come with its own headaches—and an accompanying diagram for me to keep it all straight—but it was still easier for me than a standard novel. Similar to my earlier work, it was a series of episodes, only here the short stories were strung together to make a full length. The concept, I thought, was outrageously clever.
But no one wanted to publish it.
So I retired from fiction. The blood, sweat, and tears didn’t seem worth it. The hours in front of my computer, only to end up pursuing (in vain) a publisher who would give you a chance? No, thank you. And forget about trying to find an agent. Writing is hard, but finding a decent agent is even harder.
Why bother? Who needed it? I just quit writing.