Sunday, August 4, 2019

What We're Writing - Jenn McKinlay

JENN McKINLAY: I am heinously, woefully, shockingly behind on writing PUMPKIN SPICE PERIL (April 2020, hopefully, click the title to pre-order), the 12th cupcake bakery mystery. I have seriously never been this late on a book in my life. Probably it's because I got a wild hair and decided to pen a women's fiction book, PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA (July 2020), in the very small gap of time available between writing BURIED TO THE BRIM (Jan 2020 - on sale right now for $6.57, click the title to pre-order) and this cupcake mystery. But what can an author do? 

When the muse yells, she yells LOUD! There was no other choice but to get the Paris book written. 

     Then, of course, the universe likes to pants you when you least expect it, and I came down with a couple of annoying health things that slowed me up as well. So here I am, trying my best to get PUMPKIN done, doing copyedits on BURIED, revisions of PARIS, researching ONE FOR THE BOOKS (Nov 2020), the next library mystery which is due Nov 1st, while promoting WORD TO THE WISE (Sept 3, 2019) and THE CHRISTMAS KEEPER (Oct 28, 2019). Click the picture captions to pre-order!


Sept 2019
Oct 2019

     Pardon me a second while I go breathe into a paper bag. . . Okay, there, all better! Everything will get done. I'm not worried. Not a bit. Not at all. Everything is fine. Totally, fine!
     So who wants an early looksee at the very, very rough opening chapter of PUMPKIN SPICE PERIL? If you're in, here it is:


Chapter One

     “Hi, how can I help you?” Angie Harper asked the customer across the bakery counter. She had her lips pulled back in what should have been a smile but looked like a grimace instead.
     Melanie Cooper glanced at her partner. Angie sounded weird as if she was forcing herself to be friendly when what she really wanted to do was reach across the counter and rip the person’s head off. Judging by the wary gaze of the customer, they weren’t buying the show of teeth either.
     “You okay there, Ange?” Mel asked.
     “Yes, of course, why wouldn’t I be?” Angie frowned. 
     Mel raised her hands in the air. “Just getting a vibe, an unhappy vibe, and I’m happy to step in if you need a sec.”
     “Why would I need a sec? I’m fine, totally fine!” Angie insisted. 
     “Then why are you yelling?” Mel asked.
     “This isn’t yelling!”
     “Not for nothing, but over on this side of the counter it sounds like yelling,” the customer, a thirty-something man in khaki slacks and a festive Hawaiian shirt, said.
     “I’m so sorry,” Angie said. It would have worked except, she said it in an exaggerated voice that made it clear she wasn’t sorry at all.
     The customer glanced from her to Mel. “Maybe you can help me. I’d like some red velvet cupcakes, please.”
     “Oh, sure, get someone else to help you,” Angie said. “Because I’m incompetent, is that it? Is that what you’re trying to say?”
     The man pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows. He was obviously a smart guy, realizing there was no winning here.
     “He might not say it, but I will.” A woman spoke up from the back of the line of people. She had gray hair, twisted into a topknot and she wore a chef’s coat in a bright shade of blue. Olivia Puckett.
     “Oh, crud,” Mel said. Owner of a rival bakery, but also dating Marty Zelaznik, one of Mel’s employees, Olivia was the last person Angie needed to tussle with right now as the two women rubbed together about as well as static and hair. “Olivia, don’t poke the bear.”
    Angie’s head swiveled in Mel’s direction. “Did you just call me a bear?”
     “Um…well…affectionately,” Mel explained. “You know, like a teddy bear.”
     “Or like a ginormous grizzly bear,” Angie said. “You think I’m fat!”
     “Oh, my god.” Mel pressed the heels of her hands against her forehead as if it would keep her head from exploding. “You’re not fat. Honestly, what is going on with you today?”
     “She looks hormonal to me,” Hawaiian shirt guy said. 
     “Ah!” Angie sucked in a breath. “I. Am. Not. Hormonal.”
     “Nah, he nailed it,” Olivia chimed in.
     Angie whipped around with a glower. “You hush.”
     “Angie!” Mel hissed. 
     Olivia laughed and nudged the customer with her elbow. “If you want cupcakes without the drama, you can hit my bakery Confections. It’s just down the street.”
     “Thanks, but I’m already here and I’ve got my eye on the red velvets,” he said. “I can wait out the pregger rage.”
     Angie blinked. “What did you say?”
     The man turned to look at her. “Pregger rage, you know, the unreasonable fury that comes with being pregnant. My wife was exactly like that when she was expecting our kids. We have four so I’ve been to this rodeo before.”
     “But I’m not…” Angie’s voice trailed off. Her eyes went wide and then she clapped a handover her mouth and ran back into the kitchen.
      “Vomiting,” the man called after her. “That’s another symptom.”
      Mel glanced from him to the swinging door, behind which came the unmistakable sound of someone retching. As if they’d been shot out of a cannon, Mel’s two bakery workers, Marty Zelaznik and Oz Ruiz, blasted out of the kitchen. 
     “Don’t go back there!” Marty said. “It’s bad.”
     “Really bad!” Oz confirmed.
     Mel stared at the door. Was Angie really pregnant? She and her husband Tate had been trying for months. Did it finally take? She needed to call Tate for backup, but she didn’t want to blow it if it wasn’t true or if Angie wasn’t ready to tell him. Dilemma!

So, is she or isn't she? Tune in next April to find out! 
And here's a sneak peek at the cover which just arrived in my inbox!
APRIL 2020

Now, how about you, Reds and Readers, have you ever had the muse yell so loudly that she upset your timetable and you created something you never anticipated?








54 comments:

  1. Okay, Jenn . . . I am loving this book already! But now we have to wait until next April to know for sure? ::sigh::

    Alas, the muse never yells at all, never mind loudly, so my timetable tends to get messed up only by my own procrastination . . . .

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    1. Thanks, Joan! I had to banish procrastination from my life or nothing would get done!

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  2. I got dizzy just reading about all the books you're working on. I have no idea how you keep track of all that. I think you need to tell your muse to take a vacation!

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    1. Seriously! This is the first year I actually felt exhausted by it all but I also have teenagers so I blame them! LOL.

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  3. Wildly funny, Jenn. Oh, yes, the shouting muse. Such a problem to have, but a delicious one.

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  4. I’m a little dizzy too Jenn—you are amazing! Hope you are feeling so much better. Ps, for me the muse whispers and I have to be listening really hard to hear her😁

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    1. Yours is clearly more polite than mine! I think mine is a NYC cabbie in her off time.

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  5. I am extremely impressed with your ambition and -yes- courage. You can do this!

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    1. Thank you - you’re lovely to be so positive!

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  6. You'll get it all done!

    I don't know if it was the muse, but I once had a character shang-hai me and demand that I write his story. Fortunately he was happy with a short story, so it didn't derail me too much.

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    1. Thank you! I so wish I could write short stories - it would be a lovely respite!

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  7. Well you just reeled me in with that one, Jenn! How long did you say we had to wait for it? Not sure any muse has ever visited me - maybe that the problem. Or at least one of them.

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  8. Jenn, see, I think you probably have a tag-team of muses--'cuz you're enough of a force of nature to tire out just one muse!

    Love the opening--and I'm gong to make sure some of my reading sisters get some fun birthday/Christmas reading! The only problem for me will be: how the heck do I narrow down the Jenn McKinlay choices??

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    1. Thank you! I never thought of that. Maybe I do have a team or a family, a loud squabbling family of muses - Eep!

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  9. Jenn, you are amazing. Multiple books A YEAR?!? One takes me TWO years. Love the opening of Pumpkin Spice Peril! Can't wait to read it.

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    1. Thank you! I am planning to cut back - we’ll see how that goes!

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  10. Jenn, no one writes funny as well as you do. Rough or not, I love it.

    Yes, the muse. I was absolutely compelled to write my first book, it burned so hot in me. The only other things I ever felt so certain about were marrying Steve, and building our new home.

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    1. A strong muse is a good muse! And, yes, that’s how I felt about the Paris book. It was an absolute compulsion!

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  11. Wow Jenn, that segment sells it. I want to know, who’s the guy? What’s with the other bakery owner. I need to go book shopping. As for a muse, well I am not an author, though friends have encouraged me to write down some of my journey from there to nowish, with stops around the world. I do find that I am snapped into writing action when I read something that can retrieve a file from my memory bank. It appears to be part of getting much older and I enjoy reliving it, mostly.

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    1. That’s wonderful! I keep a journal and am amazed by how much I forget until I thumb through the old pages.

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  12. You are absolutely fabulous. You are amazing amazing amazing. First of all, I don’t know how you do it, but that’s got to be another blog. Congratulations! And this excerpt is perfection. I am shaking my head in awe. Can ask… How many hours a day do you solidly work on writing stuff?

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    1. Thank you. You’re very kind to say amazing instead of the more accurate “crazy”. LOL. I treat writing like a full time job and write 4-6 hours per day and then do clerical and promo stuff 2-4 hours making my days the standard 8 hr day. I’ve stopped working weekends and try to have my evenings free. I think I write fast because comedy is fast and really all of my stuff is comedy at its core. At least, it is to me!

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  13. I’m really thinking about this. Could you write a blog, someday, on how you do it? Schedule, and timing, and whether you do an outline. Everything. And how the ideas come. I’d love to know everything .
    I just burst out laughing: how would you have time to write that?

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    1. You crack me up! Yes, I could write that. I’ll track my week and see how my time chunks out. Mostly, I sit there trying to make myself laugh with my characters’ shenanigans and I always work off of a short outline - I’d go off course if I didn’t.

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  14. Jenn,you are amazing!

    Now about this book...a year? Keep on doing what you are doing.

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  15. I'm exhausted just reading about your books. You must have been a master juggler in another life. 4 books? I exhausted just reading about all those due dates. I'm not an author but I usually have at least 2 or 3 crocheting projects in the works at the same time but I think it's because I want to try a stitch with a different weight yarn and just keep going. Maybe it's a muse nudging me, who knows.

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    1. It’s definitely a muse! I have a knitting muse who is a task master. I’ve recently doubled back to crochet - have you done any Tunisian crochet? The stitches are incredible!

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    2. Just relearned Tunisian crochet, my sister loves it and has claimed my fist attempt, which is a scarf. So far, it's just the Tunisian knit stitch but have some small books with different stitches to learn.

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  16. Jenn, great question! I could use my imagination and create a story in response to that thought provoking question.

    Love the title of Pumpkins in Peril. I loved your Hat Shop series and I just started reading your Library mystery series. And I have been meaning to read your cupcake mystery series.

    Diana

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    1. Thank you! I’m delighted you’re willing to try them all!

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  17. I have always dreamed of an author who could write faster than I read. I think you might be the one.
    From AZ, to New England all the way to England. You create friends for us everywhere.

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    1. Aw, that is a lovely thing to say. Thank you so much!

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  18. You are awesome! I was already laughing at Mel and Angie. I don’t know how you do it, working in so many at one time. You are amazing.

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    1. Thank you. You're very kind. I live in fear of not working so I over commit. I'm working on it.

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  19. Jenn, your health comes first. The universe is telling you you are doing too my hunch. I think you have to follow your muse and be prepared to walk away from those things that no longer excite you. I'm trying to do this with my own life. Not easy, I know

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    1. The universe got my attention! Believe me, I'm listening now!

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  20. You are amazing. And I am always so proud of you. Since we've already talked about this, I won't go on and on and on . . . but! PARIS! Squeeeeeee!!! Cannot wait. xxoo

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    1. Oui oui! The dudes and I found an apartment/hotel 20 min walk from the Eiffel Tower! I can't wait!!!

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  21. Ooh. I think I missed out when I was pregnant. To have preggers rage is to be powerful! And scary! Darn I'm sad I missed that. My muses all appear to be dormant for now. I've had no urge to be artsy crafty for years now. Or creative. The only muse awake is the read-more-books muse.

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  22. What a great title! That intro pulled me in. Can’t wait to read the rest.

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  23. Jenn, did you say you have a book due in NOVEMBER that you haven't STARTED????? Eeeeeekkkk. Do you think, beside sharing your work schedule, that you could share your muse around a little bit??

    But, seriously, take care of yourself! I think you are incredibly brave to have made the time to write the Paris book when you had three (THREE!) other books under contract, but I know we will all be happy that you did. And you know how much I'm looking forward to the Hat Shop book. (And I'm sure you'll forgive me if I can't keep all your pub dates straight, lol.)

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    1. Debs, I thought that as well, but recheck the years. ONE FOR THE BOOKS is due Nov. 1, 2019, and will be out November, 2020. Which means she's writing the entire book in less than three months which - how?!? Jenn is a miracle. I can only stand in awe.

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    2. Ha! I can't remember my pub dates either - had to look them up. I'm hoping to finish Pumpkin by Sept 1 then jump onto One and finish by Nov 1 (possibly Dec 1). And then I don't have anything due until May 1 - which I find rather incredible. Not sure what I'm going to do with myself. Sleep?

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  24. Shalom Reds and fans. Agreeing with others, I would find it torturous to hold 4 or 5 projects in my head at one time. That said, when I was younger, it was not unusual for me to be reading 5 or more books at one time. Today, I am more strict with myself, and try to read only one or two books at a time. I am not a very good multi-tasker.

    Almost twenty years ago, I decided to take piano lessons and found a teacher. I couldn’t really afford a piano but I substituted a small Casio keyboard which was missing two octaves and started off. I subscribed to a mail-order catalog called Musicians’ Friend and one month they offered on sale a full-size (88-keys) Yamaha electric piano. It was like breathing after taking off a straight-jacket.

    That was my muse. She inhabited that electric piano. I was working on a piece by Mozart which is famous because it sounds like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Except to eat and sleep, I was anchored to that piano. When I took my lesson the following week, I amazed my teacher who said, “You have climbed to a totally new level.”

    I played that piece in a recital. A theme and twelve variations. The next year I studied a very famous Beethoven piano sonata known as the Pathetique. I played the first movement of that at the following year’s recital. I impressed myself, even stumbling once or twice. The following year, I worked on an obscure keyboard piece by JS Bach which was an obscure fugue with complex four-part harmony.

    And then she left. The muse was gone. I think I left her, rather than vice versa. My piano teacher who is a tremendous musician, but not patient at all. I grew tired of being yelled at. The whole endeavor became no fun at all. The teacher is blind. So I continue to help him out as a friend. One of the things I do, is to sight-read music for him which he records on tape so he can learn the pieces. Even without taking lessons, my sight-reading level as risen tremendously.

    All in all, one major “bucket list” item is off the agenda.

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    1. David, I;m convinced we sometimes get a short-term muse. My dad is famous (infamous) in our family for throwing himself passionately into one pursuit or another...for about seven years. Then the light goes off, and he finds something else. It doesn't mean he didn't have a true calling to weave tartans, or make dollhouse furniture, or design virtual 3-D railroad sets. It just means those particular passions were right for a certain time, and then weren't necessary anymore.

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    2. David, I'm impressed. Classical piano is tremendous brain function plus fine motor skills. I think muses can come and go. My writing muse is the only one who has never left me.

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  25. You can do it! I'm rooting for you and hoping your health cooperates with you.

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  26. Heck, yeah! In the quilty realm of my life we call these moments "DR.E.A.M.I." as in DRop Everything And Make It, and believe you just have to go with it, follow that squirrel, create what you're being called to create.

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