Sunday, March 15, 2020

What We're Writing - Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay: Per usual, I have a few too many irons in the fire but if I didn't what would I do with myself? I have learned to embrace the chaos. Okay, it's more like I have it in a choke hold so it doesn't avalanche on me, but that works, too. 

So here's what's cooking: I have the copyedits for ONE FOR THE BOOKS coming any day. But let me just show you the cover because OMG, I love it so much! 


September 2020

Also, I'm writing promo pieces for PUMPKIN SPICE PERIL which arrives in April. The paperback is on super sale right now - just sayin'.


April 28, 2020

In addition to the above, I'm prepping the excerpts, Q & A's, and blog tours for PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA. So exciting!!!

July 2020

Aaaaaand I'm writing the first draft of WAIT FOR IT my second single title women's fiction book, slated to come out in July 2021. All of this is happening during and between arriving home from the SW FL Book Festival and dashing back out to Left Coast Crime in San Diego, which is where I am now. 

To answer your question, yes, I drink a LOT of coffee! Since I'm working on WAIT FOR IT, here's an early peek at a scene from chapter one. Our heroine, Annabelle Martin, is celebrating her un-anniversary with her first (yes, I said first) ex-husband Jeremy after turning down a job offer from a friend. When she realizes Jeremy has a completely different agenda unfolding, she has to make a pre-emptive strike:


THE hostess led us through the rows of tables, to one tucked beside a tall window. To my surprise, it was strewn with pink rose petals and a bottle of champagne was in a bucket with two glasses already poured and waiting for us. I gave Jeremy side eye. 
     “You went all out this year,” I said. 
     He shrugged. “It seems like a special un-anniversary, doesn’t it?”
     His pale green eyes met mine and I felt a prickle of alarm. Had I missed something? Had I forgotten something? What did he mean by “special”? My heart started to pound in my chest like warning shots being fired. I could feel my flight or fight, okay, mostly flight response kick in. 
     Jeremy and I had celebrated our un-anniversary at the Top of the Hub, since he moved to Boston three years ago. It was always low-key and fun right up until last year, when, in a bout of deep loneliness, I invited him to spend the night. He’d been “spending the night”, if you get my drift, a couple of times a month ever since. 
     I knew my friend Sophie was right that the relationship wasn’t doing either one of us any good but like glazed donuts or cigarettes or three-day long video game playing binges, I didn’t want to give it up because then I’d have to go out there and find a real relationship, which felt like entirely too much work.
     He pulled out my chair out and I slid into my seat. I felt out of step, like I was clapping on the down beat, and couldn’t quite get the rhythm of the room. I noticed that people at surrounding tables were covertly watching us. This was bad. 
     The hostess put our menus on the corner of the table and stepped back. She was younger than me by a couple of years. She had that fresh faced enthusiasm that could only be found on a person who hadn’t been paying their own rent for very long. 
     She glanced between us and then with a soft squeak, she stepped back, turned on her heel and hurried away. The unease inside of me began speaking in tongues. 
     Jeremy picked up the two champagne glasses and handed me one. I debated downing it, sensing that liquid courage was going to be required. He lifted his in a toast. I wished he’d sit down. It felt as if he was looming over me. 
     “Annabelle, you’re my best friend,” he said. Oh, dear, this sounded like the opening of a speech. That couldn’t be good. Usually we just said, “Look at us,”, clinked glasses and down the hatch the beverage went. We didn’t do speeches. 
      “And you’re mine,” I said. I lifted my glass, indicating the toast was over. But he didn’t get the message. In fact, he looked as if he was just warming up.
     “I know,” he said. “Despite the fact that we got married too young and you had that episode with what’s his name, we’re still each other’s plus one.”
     “By episode, you mean my marriage to Greg?” I asked. I blinked innocently.
     He made a face as if a fly had just flown into his mouth. He waved his hand dismissively and continued on.
     “Yeah, even then I always felt like we were meant to be together, you know.” 
     I didn’t know. I had thought we were done except for the friendship and fringe benefits. The cold feeling in the pit of my stomach began to harden into a block of ice. If he was headed where I feared, we were not going to come out of this as friends, never mind with benefits.
     “I always believed we’d grow old together and end up on a porch somewhere in matching rocking chairs,” he said. His smile was sweet when he tilted his head and stared into my eyes. He was going to propose. I could see it coming as if it had the bright blaze of a meteor breaking through the atmosphere.
     I had to stop him. I didn’t want to marry him again and I didn’t really believe he wanted to marry me. It would ruin everything if he asked because I’d have to say no and he’d be so terribly hurt. He did bruise easily like an overly ripe peach. I jumped to my feet, clinked my glass with his and said, “Are you about to congratulate me?”
     He paused. He looked confused. I forged ahead, taking advantage of his surprise.
     “Sophie told you, didn’t she?” I asked.
     “Sophie?” He shook his head. “Told me what?”
     “She offered me a job as creative director for her company, and I accepted,” I said. “Isn’t it amazing? I’m moving to Phoenix. Promise you’ll come and visit.”
     His mouth hung open for a moment, he cleared his throat and said, “Actually, I didn’t know. This was—”
     “So incredibly thoughtful of you,” I said. My voice was high pitched, a little manic, and my smile brittle. I felt as if I were throwing a drowning man a life preserver and he was refusing to take it. “Here’s to new beginnings!” I cried, hoping he’d get with the program and let go of his misguided plan to propose. “Bottoms up.”
     His eyes went wide as I put my glass to my lips and upended the champagne into my mouth. The stress of the moment had me chugging the fizzy beverage, hoping to ease the tension, instead something hard hit the back of my throat and got lodged in my windpipe. Just like that, I couldn’t breathe. I dropped my glass and clutched the front of my neck, trying to get some air. I made horrible gasping noises and staggered. Everything went gray and I started to see spots. 
     “Annabelle!” Jeremy cried. “Oh, my god, you’re choking on the ring!”
     Ring?I would have asked for more details but instead, I blacked out.

Want to read some more? Well, you're going to have to WAIT FOR IT! Yeah, that joke is never going to get old. LOL!

So, tell me, Reds and Readers, have you ever gotten an unwanted proposal? How'd you get out of it?




52 comments:

  1. Oh, my goodness, Jenn . . . I have no idea how you do it all . . . .

    And now I’m sitting here giggling over Annabelle celebrating un-anniversaries and falling into predicaments . . . thanks for the look ahead and for the delightful chuckle . . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Predicaments. I think you just encapsulated my entire writing career. LOL

      Delete
  2. By proposal, do you mean marriage proposal or just any kind of proposal?

    If it is just marriage, I've never received one so there's no need to have gotten out of an unwanted one.

    As for your every day, run-of-the-mill proposals to do something I'd rather not do I just tell the person flat out that I'd rather die than do that thing. There's not much of a rejoinder possible to that answer. You've pretty much given how you feel and cut off any further debate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need to adopt your absolutism. I tend to be a pleaser and end up miserable.

      Delete
    2. Jenn, my default nature is misery so I avoid piling on anything extra by just not doing things I don't want to do.

      Now if I could just win the lottery, I wouldn't have to go to work either. :D

      Delete
  3. I'm tired just reading about everyone on your plate.

    And I LOVE that cover.

    So glad we got to connect at Left Coast Crime before I came home. And thanks for coming to the panel I moderated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You were a great moderator! Such a fun panel!

      Delete
    2. Great to see you, Mark and Jenn, briefly at the conference.

      Delete
  4. I don't know where to start, Jenn. You are the juggler extraordinaire of writing and life. That cover! Wow! There should really be a category for best covers at the book conferences. One for the Books cover would certainly be a top contender. Then, the excerpt from Wait for It. I already love Annabelle Martin. What a witty piece of writing. And, you will indeed have fun with its title. Then, Pumpkin Spice Peril and Paris is Always a Good Idea sound like great reads, too. I swear I could taste pumpkin spice looking at that cover, and did I hear café music when I read about Paris is Always a Good Idea? Congratulations on all your amazing accomplishments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julia Green is the artist for that series and she is AMZING! I'm so grateful for her talent. Thank you for the kind words. XO

      Delete
  5. Wow, Jenn. What a fun excerpt! I sure hope Jeremy knows how to do the Heimlich.

    Your schedule sounds very familiar to me - except I don't also attempt home renovation projects in the middle of it or start writing standalones in a different genre. You go, girl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Edith! It's a way to channel my crazy - LOL.

      Delete
  6. Your schedule is amazing and you do reno in the middle. Are you really the prototype for the Energizer Bunny? It sounds possible.

    Love the cover - made me want to rip the book right off the screen.

    Unwanted proposal? Not sure it counts. I was 16 and had dated a friend of a friend maybe twice. When he returned to Fort Knox (he was in the army, not the treasury) I began receiving a dozen long stemmed red roses a day. The house smelled like an auxiliary funeral home even after we had deliveries directed to a near-by hospital. Somewhere around day eight or nine, the florist suggested I accept the current delivery and read the card. It was a proposal.

    My Dad called his folks and spoke to them - turns out when my date returned to Fort Knox, he received orders that he would be shipping out to Viet Nam in 30 days. All the pieces fell into place at that point, and yes, he was one of the lucky ones, he returned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, so glad he made it home! And I can absolutely see why he was proposing - you're clearly a keeper just not for him :)

      Delete
  7. THE RING! Choking on my coffee!! I was about to get one once, but I cut it off at the pass. Sweet guy, just not THE ONE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's amazing how you just know when it's THE ONE, isn't it?

      Delete
  8. OMG, Jenn! I wish I had a fraction of your energy. Love the excerpt. I nearly spit diet Coke on my screen!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lawsie, Jenn! I wish I had a tenth of your energy. The excerpt is great fun, and I hope Annabelle is able to cough that ring back up!

    And yes, I did receive an unwanted proposal. My mind was screaming "NO!!", and my foolish mouth said "Yes". Stupidest moment of my life. But it all worked out in the end because everything that happens in life makes you what you are, right? Right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha. Great minds, Cathy! I did not read your comment until after mine posted!

      Delete
    2. Life is a journey - missteps and all.

      Delete
  10. But the ring! Loved the excerpt. No proposals except from THE ONE.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Love it all! Love the cover. Love the opening! Love that you juggle so much and still manage to be hilarious. I'll be starting to read your books very soon. I am so excited. Where to begin?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just jump in! The water is fine :)

      Delete
    2. My recommendation is the hat shot mysteries if you liked this excerpt. Scarlet and the rest of her gang are great characters and so is the setting!

      Delete
  12. Over the top, Jenn! Just wondering where we go from there, if that's just early in Chapter 1?? That book is going to be a rollercoaster ride! And I'll have to remember, keep the lid on any beverages I might be drinking, etc, and read it somewheres I won't scare the cats with sudden hoots of laughter. And love all of your covers--each one perfectly telegraphs what's to be found betwen the covers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Flora! I am blessed by the cover gods, for sure.

      Delete
  13. Love that cover, Jenn! And now I can't wait to find out what happens to Annabelle and Jeremy. You are just so amazing! Do you ever sleep? But you must to be able to come up with all of your brilliant ideas. I'm totally in awe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only sleep 6 hours per night - total weirdo.

      Delete
  14. Great opening scene, Jenn! And the cover for One for the Books is fabulous! Whatever you're doing to hold chaos at bay seems to be working, so more power to ya! I'll be waiting for all of it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I loved that bit you posted! Now I wonder where that story is headed. No unwanted proposals here but I did keep my husband waiting for a few days for an answer to his.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I like it! Mulling a proposal seems very wise. Both times (yes, I was engaged twice - the first one didn't take) I said, "YES!" without thought. Annabelle and I are quite similar, in that way.

      Delete
  16. I never had an actual unwanted proposal but there was the time that some guy took me to Sunday dinner at his parent's house two hours away. I had an inkling he was rapidly moving in a direction I wasn't interested in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dinner at the parent's house - definitely, moving too fast!

      Delete
  17. I have never been the recipient of any proposal except to go steady when I was in high school but I said no. I still went with him to a sister's wedding. Awkward? Yes. I think he wanted a date to the wedding as much as he wanted to go steady.

    Questions: Did you enjoy San Diego before everything got cancelled? How is the kitchen looking? Did you think people would be trying not to spit/choke on their their beverage choice when you wrote this section? Do you sleep? (Think I've asked that before.) I love the cover that you've shown us. Can't wait to visit Paris. And now I have a new book to wait for you. You guys are gonna bury me in books. Well, at least my nephew can't say I've too much yarn any more. I think it's about equal though the yarn is squishier than the books when a pile falls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Deana,

      I get the no solo at a wedding thing.

      Questions: I did enjoy San Diego. I got to spend time with my plot group pals, Kate Carlisle and Paige Shelton, and badgered them about the plot for WAIT FOR IT. I don't really think about readers when I write. I wrote it to make myself laugh, so if readers do, too, that's a win. Id do sleep just not very much - about 6 hours - I just have so much stuff I want to do every day I can't wait to get up in the morning and get going! I feel you on the yarn stash. I've had to distribute mine about the house, so it's like Easter Eggs - open a cupboard and surprise - yarn! LOL.

      Delete
  18. The Ring!! I am choking with laughter! How do you do it?
    Yes, I had one unwanted proposal. Fortunately I was in Brittany, teaching at the university there as a visiting lecturer, and he was in Houston. He was coming to visit and at the last minute he didn't. My course work at Rice was over so I never went back to Houston and it just petered out. Awkward but your scenario is much better. Can't wait to read how this turns out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Long distance peter outs are weird but less dramatic so in real life they are much preferred at least by me.

      Delete
  19. I just love this snippet Jen! Can’t wait for Paris – you are such a role model for the rest of us who procrastinate through our days LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too. I love reading excerpts from novels that have not been published yet...

      Delete
    2. Thank you both! I'm back in the writing saddle today after recovering from LCC craziness! Ugh.

      Delete
  20. Great post, Jenn! Once I got an unwanted proposal and it was from someone who wanted a green card. He was from a country that already has National Health Service (Europe) and I had to explain to him that many Americans do not have health insurance. LOL. He did not believe me. He proposed to me and I said No. That was about 20 years ago.

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
  21. Okay, Jenn, I snorted my coffee this morning. Your snippets should come with warning labels!! So funny--I can't wait to see what happens with Annabelle and Jeremy.

    I am gobsmacked by your energy. Maybe you could share a little with us mere mortals, lol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deborah, I hope you don't mind me butting in and asking here but I have been trying to get my hands (eyes) on your short story Nocturne and can't find it anywhere. Apparently the group my library belongs to doesn't have it and I have tried Amazon but it's not there either. Suggestions, please and thank you.

      Delete
    2. I'd love to send you some energy, Debs. Maybe then I could sleep for more than 6 hours - LOL!

      Delete
  22. As always I adore your comedy! Only you could choke on a ring

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love to laugh and have been laughing all through the Royal Spyness books. I can't get enough of Georgie! Looking forward now to much mirth in Jenn's books.

      Delete
  23. LOVE you!!! And you are right-=that joke is NEVER going to get old!

    ReplyDelete