Monday, May 29, 2017

ABOUT A DOG is Out Today or How Did I Get Here?

My editor: “You’re going to need to write sex scenes.”

Me: “That’s cool. I like sex.”

My editor: Blink, blink.

Me: “Aaaand that came out wrong.”

It was June of 2015. I was in NYC, shopping for a new agent. This go round I wanted to actually meet the agents under consideration. You know, make eye contact, check out the grip of their handshake, examine their office, the whole shebang. I had quit my part-time job the year before, as the writing thing was moving from hobby to career, and I felt like I needed to treat it accordingly.

While meeting and greeting agents, I also took the time to visit my editor in her lair. It was pretty cool to walk into the building, get through some intense security and arrive at the floor where my editor resided. There were a few things that were “off” however. Apparently, the latest merger was causing some serious restructuring to happen. As I walked through the offices, I noticed most of the staff were in the process of packing. Huh.

Several years prior, I had survived the personnel gutting that had happened in the city of Phoenix. I remembered what it felt like (awful) and I was beginning to have the same hinky feelings at my publisher’s office. The writers’ rumor mill had been grinding out tales of market saturation, and authors’ series being canceled, etc. and so forth for many months. I'd heard the rumors but didn’t take heed until I stood there amidst the boxes.

View from the top of the Empire State Bldg
on the same trip.
So, while enjoying the view from my editor’s window, I asked her point blank what else she felt I could write because suddenly the need to diversify felt imperative. She didn’t hesitate. She turned to her floor to ceiling bookcase and pulled five books that she then pushed across the desk at me.


“This. You can write this,” she said.

I looked at the pile. They were romantic comedies. Oh, the irony! You see my journey as an author began writing romantic comedies (one of my very favorite genres) for Harlequin back in the aughts. It hadn’t gone well. In short, I was fired. But if my editor, who at this point had been with me for thirty books, felt I could do this then…maybe? I decided to give the genre a go.

Life was happening pretty fast for me at this point. My oldest hooligan was starting high school, and I was in deep, deep denial. Writing a romantic comedy gave me an outlet for all of the feels I couldn’t dump all over him. After spending a month thinking about the plot and writing an outline, I wrote 450 pages in thirty days. Crazy, right?

My new agent, who had signed me to be a mystery writer, got a manuscript dumped on her that she had no idea was coming. Surprise! The best part of this was when she read the manuscript and declared, “You wrote a perfect book!” This confirmed my decision to hire her, which actually came about because when I stopped by her office, she’d had cupcakes made to match the cover of my last book. Yes, that tipped the scale because details matter!

Annie the day I found her.
That surprise book is ABOUT A DOG, a romantic comedy based upon my own experience of rescuing a puppy (our Annie) who I had found tossed out in an alley, except the characters are younger, prettier, funnier, and a smidgeon less neurotic than I am -- but just a smidgeon. In a nutshell, it's about going home, shenanigans, stray puppy dogs, mischievous elderly aunts, big laughs, shared tears, hot sex, and falling unexpectedly in love. 

So, that's how I got here, releasing ABOUT A DOG to the world. It's pretty exciting. It was definitely a challenge not to shove a dead body into the middle of the book but I refrained. And now, as in all writing endeavors, I have to sit back and see how this new genre fits me. Am I fraught with anxiety? Yes, but it's the good kind. In the meantime, I've been noodling around a really cool idea for a YA...

Now, how about you, Reds? Do you have any genres that are lurking just beneath the surface, looking to get out? What would you do if your publisher told you they wanted to see something different from you?


To celebrate the release of ABOUT A DOG, let's have a giveaway! Leave a comment and one lucky person will be randomly chosen to win a signed copy of the book, a tote bag, and swag!  Good Luck!

130 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Happy Book Birthday, Jenn!

    It certainly sounds as if writing “About a Dog” came about at exactly the right time for you . . . now curiosity compels me to ask what kind of dog the lucky rescue puppy is . . . .

    Your book sounds like a perfectly wonderful story and I’m looking forward to reading it.

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    1. Hi, Joan,

      The dog I found is a mix of, well, we're not sure but there is some pit bull in her. She's a lovely brindle but is afraid of everything. You can't raise your voice in our house or she gets upset and hides. Many an argument has ended because "Annie is getting upset". The artist for the series made the puppy look like a boxer so in the copy edits I made it a pit bull-boxer mutt. It irritates me when the dog on the cover doesn't match the dog in the story. Anyone else feel that way?

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  3. I'm dying to read it, Jenn....but how did you do the research for the hot sex? :)
    I'm sure it will be a big hit!

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    1. Ages ago, when Warren and I were kicking around ideas to propose for an RWA seminar, we focused on the value of getting the underlying facts of a story right. We decided to call our discussion "Honey, Could You Get Naked and C'mere a Minute? The Importance of Primary Research."

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    2. Thanks a lot. Now excuse me while I drain coffee out of my laptop.

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    3. LOL, Rhys!!! Hub likes to take credit for the research. Honestly, I read a lot of romance books to see what lingo the kids are using these days. It was...enlightening.

      Gigi- That is hysterical. I would totally go to that seminar!

      Finta - Me, too!!! LOL!!!

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  4. Good for you for rescuing a dog. And congratulations on the new book.

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    1. Thank you. I already had Otto (my handful) and did not want another dog but they were instal-buddies and that was that.

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  5. It's always good to stretch the envelope, right? I am visiting my editor in New York tomorrow for the first time (squee!), and that's a topic I'd already planned to discuss with him. Best of luck with the romcom, Jenn.

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    1. Thanks, Edith. Do report in on the vibe you get when you're there. It was an extraordinary trip for me in many ways.

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  6. Yay Jenn--I'm dying to read this too (going to the bookstore today) and in awe of your productivity!

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    1. Thanks, Lucy. I've come to understand that my emotional state really pushes my writing. When my dad passed away last year, I was wrecked and all of my feelings came out in another unplanned book (written in a month) and when I told my editor, she said, "Oh, Jenn." I get the feeling she's not really sure what to do with me. I just handed it over to her a few weeks ago so we'll see...

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  7. Jenn, oh the feels! And congrats on your latest offspring--it will go out into the world and leave a lot of smiles in its wake--which are sorely needed now!! But I just want to say--characters, setting, plot. And you're right--throw in a dead body, you've got a mystery. Move the needle a bit more, you've got a thriller. Dial it back a bit, you've got...what? Still, a great story. So, ANY of the Reds have it in them to write something else. Characters, setting, plot. You all are great at the basics--it's what makes your stories shine!

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    1. Flora - what a lovely thing to say. Thank you. I have been riddled with self-doubt since I began this journey so that was a nice shot in the arm. At this point, succeed or fail, at least I tried. Right?

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  8. Congratulations on the new book...I am looking forward to reading it. I know it will be fabulous!

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  9. Congrats, Jenn! I once tried to write a romance. Like you, I kept trying to shove a dead body in there. Unlike you, I was no successful in my attempts to resist.

    The only other thing I've written is a middle-grade fantasy adventure. People keep telling me it's pretty good, but I think my heart truly is in murder and mayhem. =)

    Mary/Liz

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    1. At mystery conferences it amuses me no end to see all these nice ladies who kill people for a living!

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    2. Mary - It was really hard. There is a caper involved with the puppy (of course, there is) and it almost tipped over the edge into murder but I fought it. Probably would have been a better book if I killed off the bad guy...maybe next time.

      Karen - it is pretty funny. Sometimes I'm a tad concerned by how much I ponder murder then I tell myself it's therapy.

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  10. Congratulations on the new book, Jenn! And good of you to diversify from your multiple mystery series (and come back full circle) to write a romantic comedy again.

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    1. Thank you, Grace. It was an unexpected journey but refreshing in many ways.

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  11. Oh, Jenn, I am so looking forward to reading this! And, Reds, this blog seems to be the best place for me to discover new books. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Judi! I, too, am in awe of the talent that pops up here on a daily basis!

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  12. Well done, Jenn. Congratulations on shifting gears smoothly.

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    1. Just checked your website. A Veterinarian Hero! What's not to love?

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    2. Thank you, Susan! I've had a crush on my veterinarian for years. That might have helped ;)

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  13. Oooo! I'm looking forward to reading this one, Jenn. I have only read one of your previous books, but what I liked best about it was the fun interaction between the characters, and your ability to create a warm, loving community with lots of story possibilities. I bet you'll do just fine without the dead body.

    And dogs! Who can resist rescue dogs? I've spent the past four years fostering for a rescue group, but probably my whole life taking in the strays that came my way. I predict this one will shortly have you crowned the new queen of romantic comedy. I'll be heading for the bookstore after work.

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    1. Gigi- You are wonderful and not just for the kind words but for your work with fostering rescues. I've been an animal nut my whole life. My parents were big on rescuing. We had everything from horses to quail (they were bird people) so I have never been without animals in my life. I feel pretty downsized now with just two dogs, two cats, and a fish who won't die. The Hooligans keep negotiating for more but I'm holding firm.

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  14. I love that editor story although I'm now a little concerned about Dear Editor's employment status. Maybe a follow-up comment to set our minds at ease, Jenn?

    As a part of my agent meeting/interviewing/accepting and getting all the "paperwork" in order, I was asked to give him any and all ideas I had for future books and series. He was slightly taken aback (but, god love him, he rallied) when I gave him two cozy mystery series, a mainstream mystery series, a Southern gothic, a Southern gothic paranormal, a paranormal mystery series, a steampunk alternative-history thriller, and a science fiction thriller.

    So he and I better stay in good health because we've got a lot of books ahead of us. :D

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    1. LOL! You go, girl! Okay, now I feel like a slacker!!! My editor is fine. Thank god. At this point, I can't imagine working with anyone else but in this business flexibility is a plus.

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  15. Happy Book Birthday, Jenn! I loved your story of the new book's genesis! Those cupcakes were a great touch, and 450 pages in 30 days? That's truly awesome!

    You know, I'm not sure that I've ever read romantic comedy (not that I can think of, anyway), which is kind of strange because I adore romcom movies. I will definitely read your book, though. It sounds great and who can resist the adorable dog on the cover and the story of a dog's rescue? Not me!

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    1. Thank you, MaryC, that's very kind of you. I just picked up a book called Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (at the recommendation of the head of acquisitions for the Phoenix Library system) and I was laughing so hard while reading in bed that I woke the Hub up. So, if my book doesn't work for you, hers might!

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  16. I am so looking forward to reading this, love the cover, thanks great review
    Penney

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  17. Happy Book Birthday! A good story is a good story, no matter the genre. If there's humor involved in a book, all the better from my standpoint.

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    1. Agreed. Plus, I have an inability not to make a joke of things, especially at the most inappropriate moments. It's good to have an outlet.

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    2. Jenn, I share your affliction. Maybe I need another outlet too. Putting jokes into technical manuals doesn't seem to satisfy my snarky muse.

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    3. Jim - Do it! Although, I gotta say some snark in technical manuals would be much appreciated!

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    4. Sometimes you have to either laugh or cry. Laughing is a lot better.

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  18. This sounds memorable and special. I would enjoy and treasure this book. Thanks.

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  19. Congratulations! What a wonderful post. A book that is a treasure and so captivating and wonderful.

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  20. Happy book birthday! I admire people who stretch their wings a bit and try different genres.

    I'm writing my first book, a traditional mystery, but I already have ideas for a cozy series, children's book, middle grade fantasy, adult fantasy, and a graphic novel. I wanna try it all! But I definitely plan on continuing to write mysteries because the mystery community is made up of the kindest, most welcoming people EVER

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    1. Mia - Good for you! And I absolutely agree with you about the mystery community. In fact, one of the things I've loved about joining Jungle Red is that they really are the nicest bunch of women I've ever met. Truly, fabulous!

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  21. You rescued a dog and named her for me? What's not to like about this?

    Now about the sex part. Are there lurid details or do I have to use my imagination. Again>

    Happy Bookday!

    Ann in Rochester

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    1. Hi, Finta/Ann - LOL. Yes, most def she was named for you! Yes, the sex is rather lurid. My s-i-l called me to tell her I made her blush at work. "Spicy" was her word. ;)

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  22. Happy book birthday! It definitely sounds like this book was meant to be. I have been so disheartened by the culling of the cozies but will venture beyond the mystery genre simply because you wrote it. And, you know, there's a dog. Thank you for the chance to win. Dmskrug3(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Daniele! Yes, it has been a trying time for cozies but I believe it will come back around. These things usually do. In the meantime, it's fun to try new stuff and maybe we can expand the readership and save the genre. Okay, that's a bit ambitious even for me. LOL.

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  23. Happy Book Birthday! We have two wonderful rescue dogs that are so sweet and loving -- they are the best. Wow -- 450 pages in 30 days -- About A Dog really wanted to be told, and I can't wait to read it!

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    1. That's exactly how it felt, Ceila! It was a story that had to come out. I'm very passionate about rescues so hats off to you for yours. So many pups just need a home.

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  24. Oh, Jenn, who could resist! I love romantic comedies, and even better with a dog!

    I just ordered it--shame on me for not having it on my doorstep this morning.

    Happy book birthday and I can't wait to read it!

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  25. Congrats and happy release day! ABOUT A DOG sounds like an absolutely perfect summer read and I know if you wrote it, it's going to be a fun, fun read!

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    1. Thanks, Kim! We'll have to talk whoopie pie recipes for your blog for a future book in the series!

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  26. I love Romantic comedies myself, as well as dogs. We rescued a coon hound last year and she has been a wonderful addition to the family, though she turned out to be quite a handful. I love your mysteries, so I am sure this will be great too! Good luck.

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    1. Thanks, Gabby. Rescues do come with issues but they are also so grateful to have a home.

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  27. Paula Jacobson
    I'm so excited that the day has finally arrived for About a Dog. I can't wait to get it. I pre-ordered it, so I'm waiting for it to come. I love your mysteries as well.

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  28. I would love to win this book thanks for the chance but will be on my TBR list.

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    1. Thanks, Christina! Yes, my TBR pile is almost as tall as I am.

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  29. I would love to win this book thanks for the chance but will be on my TBR list.

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  30. Oh, Jenn, how fantastic! Change is good. About a Dog sounds funny, relaxed, and perfect. Best of luck with it. 30 books and you called it a HOBBY???? Can I just touch your hem? :)

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    1. LOL - Like Aimee (above) I had a lot of words stored up!

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    2. Agree, Kait. She is WAY beyond hobby. xoxo

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  31. Oh, if your book is anywhere near the top of the laugh-scale and rich characters of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, it's sure to be a hit. Throw in the dog and hot sex, what's not to love? Congratulations on taking this road and circling back, Jenn.

    ~Tricia

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    1. I don't think I'm in her league but she sure does inspire! Thanks for the support!

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  32. Happy release day! Looking forward to reading this book!

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  33. Yay, Jenn!! I can't wait to read it, and as always, I'm in awe of your productivity!

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    1. Thanks, Ingrid! And thanks again for making sure this post actually went up!

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  34. Book birthdays are always fun. Our little girl is a goldendoodle and nearly 5 months old. I hope to start puppy classes with her and then onto therapy training. As a cancer survivor and recovering from chemo, she has been great therapy for me!

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    1. That's wonderful, Meg. I'm delighted to hear your good news. I love the doodles!

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  35. Congratulations!🎉 I can't wait to read your new book. I love your mysteries and I'm sure I will enjoy this one, too.

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    1. Thank you, Cecilia! You're very kind!

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  36. Jenn, I cannot wait to read this book! It sounds fanTAStic. I am so jealous of anyone who can write romantic comedy -- I can do about a half page and then I start to sound so lame. Is Annie coming to book events with you??

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    1. Thank you, Hallie! I'd love to bring Annie but she's on the timid side. For some reason she thinks she can tackle a passing garbage truck but if anyone drops an "F" bomb she hides under the table. The one thing with rescues is that you have no idea what they endured before you found them. I feel like it's my mission to make it up to her with lots of love.

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  37. Congrats on the shift to a "new" genre! Sounds like a fun read!!

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  38. I love romantic comedies. And rescue dogs too? Perfect. And there's got to be a hot guy. Yep. I'm going to be reading your book.

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    1. Thanks, Pat! I appreciate the support!

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  39. Hi Jenn! Super excited to read the book. My library has it on order, but we don't have it in hand yet. I love your mystery series and am excited to read something new. I also love dogs and rescues have my heart so this should pull at all of the heart strings!

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    1. Also - I hope you don't give up the mystery genre all together. Your Library Lovers series is one that got me hooked on cozies.

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    2. Thanks, Liz! No plan to give up the mysteries as yet. In fact, I've been thinking of starting a new series. We'll see.

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    3. That would be awesome! I just got "About a Dog" set on my desk this afternoon (I work at a library) :) Perfect timing for the weekend!

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  40. most of our dogs are rescues, one showed up on our doorstep and the cat said we needed to keep it!

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    1. Malka - I love that the cat weighed in! Hilarious!

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  41. I used to read a lot of fantasy novels and some science fiction, but I've mostly given up on all of that save the Honorverse books by David Weber and the Star Trek prose novels.

    While I don't actually write novels, if I was writing mysteries and the publisher wanted something different from me, I'd actually love to do something that would be part of the Star Trek Universe.

    I don't know that I could do an original novel that would involve what I think is even more detailed world building when you have to come up with not only the people and such, but technological stuff as well. But given the framework already established in the STU, I think I'd be able to handle that kind of thing.

    That said, if I was ever to actually write a novel, I would rather it be in the mystery/thriller genre than anything else. I've had bits and pieces of ideas but never anything I would want to commit to a word doc/paper. :D

    Congrats on the new book Jenn, I'm sure it will do great for you. And I love your response to the editor about the sex scenes. PRICELESS!

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    1. Thanks, Jay! Sounds like Star Trek might be your gateway into writing. I'm always fearful of writing an established world because if you get something wrong...Ack, it terrifies!

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  42. Congratulations on your new release. I had no idea you started writing romantic comedies. I love you as a mystery writer.

    I really love that you wrote a story about your dog.

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    1. Thanks, Kim. Annie definitely inspired me!

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  43. FINALLY back at a computer! (I was at a murder trial this morning--research right? Jonathan is the defense attorney..so I missed all the early Reds fun!)

    Jenn--HURRAY HURRAY HURAY! Such a great story about such a great story.

    And I secretly think I could write something funny and romantic. But I still keep wondering--without a murder to solve, what would the people DO for all those pages? :-)

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    1. I'm kidding, mostly. That was actually my biggest struggle, which is why there is a wedding and then a caper surrounding the puppy. I've found weaving in big life events fills the pages but, yes, the transition was rocky.

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    2. Good question, Hank! Writing without the traditional mystery framework is daunting!

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  44. Annie is beautiful. The dog on the cover though looks like a boxer with a tail. I am a lifelong dog lover and I have been owned by many boxers (and other dogs) in my life. I cannot wait to read this book. Every story is made better with the addition of a fur kid!

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    1. Agreed! Yes, the artists went with a boxer so I changed the breed(s) in the copyedits to match. Wrong dog on covers drives me nuts! Boxers are fabulous. A friend of mine had 4! That was a goofy house in the best possible way!

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  45. This sounds like such a fun read!! I love Romantic Comedy and I do love dogs!! Congrats on the new release in a new genre!! ����

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  46. Congratulations on another book out in the world. I love the sense of humor in your Cupcake Bakery mysteries, so I am really looking forward to About A Dog. And thank you for rescuing a stray.

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  47. So excited to follow you back to rom-com! Congrats on the new release!
    JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

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  48. Love your post today! So looking forward to your new book.
    kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

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  49. We are a big family of rescue dogs so this book hits home in that aspect, and I can hardly wait to read it. We doggie sit everyone's animals in our family so more books about animals would be great but I honestly am hooked on cozies, historical mysteries and mystery itself. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of your latest.
    Cynthia B
    ceblain (AT) tmlponline (DOT) net

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  50. Love the story about picking agents.
    There has to be a connection between you
    and her/him. Sounds like you found
    a good fit. Looking forward to
    reading the book.
    I've loved your other series.
    thanks for sharing your life.

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  51. I love romantic comedies, Jenn, & am excited to read yours! That's what I started out writing, too, but as plays and screenplays, not books. I'm a sucker for a happy ending:)

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  52. I can't wait to read "About A Dog"! A romantic comedy including a dog has to be an amazing read. Love your other books, I know this will be another great series.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  53. My girlfriend and I were just discussing how you had time to write so much (not that we are complaining). I see though, catharsis. Can't wait to read it!

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  54. Your backstory on your writing life is so interesting Jenn. One thing I have always found so admirable about you is that you're not at all afraid to admit that you've been anxious or afraid. Love all of the books you've written so far & I'm looking forward to reading About A Dog. Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks, Sandy! I think most writers live in a constant state of anxiety - you get used to it. Sort of.

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  56. Would love to read I have a sweet old lab mix rescue pooch named Bosco, he's a sweetheart. parkeremma2003 at yahoo dot com

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  57. Dogs are the best, your are a special person because you rescued one. Congrats on your new book!

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  58. I'm really excited to cross genres with you Jenn! Congratulations on such an awesome transition! I know you'll thrive well in any genre. Your writing is amazing!

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  59. Kelli Jo - you win the random drawing! Email your mailing address to me at jennmck@yahoo.com and I'll mail your loot!

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