Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Royal Valentine is out today!


Jenn McKinlay: Well, this is thrilling! My first novella is out today. It's an ebook romcom set on Museum Mile in New York City in a fictional Museum of Literature. It features a Jane Austen exhibit and a surprise trip to Bath all set around Valentine's Day -- what's not to love? 

     I talked a little bit about how this novella came to be on my last What We're Writing post, you can read the explanation and snippet here: https://www.jungleredwriters.com/2021/11/what-were-writing-spite-by-jenn-mckinlay.html but the short version is that I wrote this ebook out of spite because while the audio book publisher who was looking for original content loved the ideas, they didn't love my existing audio book sales numbers. Huh. Well, I decided I would write the novellas anyway and see what happened. 

     What unexpectedly occurred was that I discovered I really liked having what I have come to think of as a research and development arm in my writing life. The novellas give me a chance to try out new plot lines, points of view, tropes, and other assorted writing mechanics that a publisher might not be on board with in the proposal stage. It is frightening, exhilarating, and challenging, and I love it. In fact, I have an idea that was germinated in this very book that I think might develop into my best series to date which never would have happened if I hadn't decided to play around with novella writing. So, I guess rejection really can pay some dividends.

     Speaking of dividends, I have an update. The audio rights for the novellas (there will be three this year) went to AUCTION! Four audio publishers were in the fray and by the end of it, we had an amazing deal! Needless to say, I am THRILLED since the whole point of writing these novellas (aside from being obsessed with the ideas) was to prove that first publisher wrong. Yeah, I know they couldn't care less but it was important to me. 

    So, here are some thank yous for the people who helped facilitate my bullheadedness. First, to author Jennifer Ashley for sharing her amazing copyeditor and fellow mystery author Traci Hall with me. Traci certainly put the manuscript under a microscope for which I am ever grateful. Additional thanks to author Lori Wilde, who recommended Llewellen Designs for the cover art. They crushed it! And lastly, my agent Christina Hogrebe and her team, particularly Hannah Rody-Wright, at JRA, for gamely taking on the selling of the audio rights. Let me tell you, I feel pretty darn lucky to have so much talent at my disposal.

Royal Valentine should be available wherever ebooks are sold, but Kindle might be the lone holdout on making it accessible. Amazon being Amazon, they like to keep self-pubbed authors exclusive but this was never about money for me so I decided to distribute it wide. Be sure to check out the alternative vendors like Nook, Kobo, etc., and HAPPY READING!

Here's a longer description of the novella for those who are interested: 

Molly Graham doesn't believe in love at first sight or fairy tales. She's been burned too many times before. When her best friend, Brianna Cho, challenges her to aim high and go for men who are out of her league, Molly can't imagine a worse way to spend Valentine's Day. When she stumbles across a very handsome British professor, Albert George, seeking refuge in her office during the Museum of Literature's Valentine's Day gala for the opening of their Austen exhibit, Molly can't help but be drawn to the fellow introverted academic. Together they ghost out of the event and embark upon a month long love affair. Molly is rethinking her stance on happily ever afters and plans to tell Al how she feels, but he disappears. Afraid something bad has happened, Molly searches for him only to discover there is no Albert George affiliated with the university. She's been played for a fool!

Molly is devastated. As registrar for the Museum of Literature, she is tasked with a trip to England to return the Jane Austen exhibition materials on loan from the Whitmore Estate in Bath. It's the only thing she has to look forward to and even this dream trip is a struggle. When she and Brianna arrive at Whitmore Manor, they are introduced to Earl Whitmore and his grandson Lord Insley, or as Molly knows him Albert George. She is shocked and dismayed to discover she has fallen in love with a viscount in line to be an earl. James Albert George Insley Whitmore, called Jamie by his friends and family, arranged for Molly to bring the materials back. He had to leave her unexpectedly, but he hasn't been able to forget her and he wants to win her back. Molly isn't having it. She refuses to be taken in twice. Jamie will have to channel his inner Fitzwilliam Darcy to prove to her that love conquers all and win her heart for good. 

Now what about you, Reds and Readers, have you ever surprised yourself by trying something new? What was it? And how did it go?

     

 

64 comments:

  1. Huge congrats on the novella!

    While I had been reviewing for years, starting my blog was new. It has been freeing in many ways, and gotten me more recognition for my work than I had before. But it has turned this hobby into a bit more of a treadmill, and I need to learn to find the balance in. (Hence, my comment yesterday.)

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    1. Balance. I feel like I have it for a nanosecond and then something comes along and it's back on the teeter-totter we go! LOL.

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  2. Happy Book Birthday, Jenn! I can’t wait to find out what happens [and the book is actually available at Amazon]. I’m sure there are many excited readers [like me] who are pleased that you decided to pursue novella-writing . . . .

    As for trying something new, I’m not particularly artistic, but when the children were little decided I would take a cake decorating class because I wanted to make fancy birthday cakes for them. I didn’t turn into an artistic talent, but it turned out pretty well. The Little Ones loved their cakes, so that was really all that mattered . . . .

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    1. I love it! True story - I am obsessed with cake decorating videos, Joan. My efforts for the boys were okay when they were little, but I've always wanted to have the time and energy to go big. Someday...

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  3. JENN: Hooray for you! Congratulations on the novella and the audiobook deal!!
    Bullheadedness does pay off :-)

    I am not a huge fan of heights so I did surprise myself by going indoor rock climbing a few years ago with a bunch of work colleagues. And, I actually enjoyed it (except for the looking back down once I reached the top). Would love to go indoor rock climbing again but 1) there isn't one located in downtown Ottawa and 2)we're going into another round of provincial pandemic restrictions /closures starting tomorrow. Indoor gyms and recreational facilities will be closed for at least 21 days.

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    1. My daughter talked me into going to the climbing gym with her several years ago, and I had the same experience, Grace. It is exhilarating! And I am normally terrified of heights. But it takes so much strength, more than I thought it would.

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    2. GRACE and KAREN: I've been pondering your rock climbing at the gym and it's the strength part more than the height part that I wonder at. I have NO upper body strength...which I suppose might be the point of indoor rock climbing, yes? To develop some.

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    3. Amanda, my middle daughter has been climbing for 20 years, and at one point she was ranked sixth for women in the US. She does a daily exercise routine that includes upper body strengthening, and also she works on hand strength, and most importantly, her core. Most of us will not do the movements she does, but I have seen her, using only two fingers on each hand, move her body through space under an arch at the gym, changing her foot position from one side of the arch to the other. Core strength is essential for that!

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    4. Good for you, Grace! That's on my list of things I want to do, but I have to get in better shape beforehand. I don't think I could do a push up at this point. Sad.

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    5. Wow, Karen: Your daughter sounds amazing!

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  4. Congratulations Jenn! We could all learn a lesson from your relentlessness:)

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  5. Congratulations! Perseverance wins with the perfect settings in NYC and Bath. Have you visited the American Writers Musuem in Chicago? Interactive and interesting, and fun to try all the vintage typewriters.

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  6. Yay for you, Jenn! And congratulations on the audio book deal. I like writing short stories for the same reason - I can play with different voices, darker themes, and new ways to twist the ending.

    I've written two novellas connected with my Country Store series for three-novella collections for Kensington. Because I write sparse and my novel first drafts are always way too short, I thought 25k words would be a perfect length for me. It kind of is! How long are your novellas, and will you talk more about writing that length?

    Since I had a half dozen different careers, I've started big new things several times. The best was deciding to complete a mystery novel and get published.

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    1. Edith, I'll have to look for those novellas. I've been reading all the books I've missed in the Country Store series this week!

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    2. Ohh, that's on my January list, too, Karen. I have most of them already on Kindle or the bookshelf. I want your novellas, too, Edith.

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    3. My novellas are clocking in at 30,000 wds or 100 pages. I like the length. I'm fairly dialogue (jokes) driven so this length fits that tone nicely. We'll see. If readers hate it, I might have to rethink. LOL.

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    4. Readers (listeners) are NOT going to hate these novellas, Jenn! I rarely read romances of any kind, but I'm really looking forward to this first one. I love it that you made the male protagonist an introverted, sort of nerdy guy.

      Jenny Colgan's THE CHRISTMAS BOOKSHOP also had a male protagonist who was not the usual muscle-bound Scotsman in a kilt for a book set in Edinburgh. I actually finished the book!

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    5. Karen and Judy, thank you! "Christmas Cocoa and a Corpse" is in the collection named Christmas Cocoa Murder. "Scarfed Down" will be out in September in Christmas Scarf Murder.

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  7. Hi, Jenn.I admire your persistence and congratulations! Answering your question, I'm not a very expert short story writer but I find it is a great way to try out something new and challenging for me.Something I would not want to do at book length. Once in awhile it really works, and even when it doesn't, I enjoyed exercising some different writing muscles.

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    1. Exactly! Short stories are HARD for me. I like the long unwind but I find the novellas are just right - so far.

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  8. Mega congrats, Jenn! You personify #NeverthelessShePersisted. I have found the novella on Kindle.

    When I was laid off from my corporate communication job in 2004, I hung out my 'single shingle' as a (very) small business owner and earned my living as a business writer and editor. I learned so much about hustling for jobs and doing the work and managing taxes and contribution payments to government. I put (good) food on the table and (enough) wine on the shelf for several years before finding my way into college teaching.

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    1. I think the amount hustle required to be successful is seriously underrated. Very few people hit it big on a breakout book and then they have the challenge of staying on top with no hard scrabble experience. I think that's why so many disappear. I'm content to hustle. It suits my personality and yours, clearly. :)

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  9. Congratulations on Royal Valentine Jenn ! It appeared on my IPad today.

    I began to travel by myself in 2000. It enriched my life.

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    1. I LOVE traveling by myself. No compromises! It's glorious!

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    2. Count me in on traveling solo. Not only no compromises but no explanations. I do things because...? I want to.

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  10. Congratulations, Jenn! Yes, that first publisher may not care they were wrong, but you forevermore get to thumb your nose at them and that's something. LOL

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  11. Knowing you proved someone wrong is revenge enough. Most of the time.

    Congratulations, Jenn! How fun to have publishers fighting over you.

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    1. I am old enough to savor the petty. LOL!

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    2. ... and laugh all the way to the bank

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    3. Amen, Hallie!

      Like my 37 rejections of my first book, which sold nearly 15,000 copies. Which is a lot for a niche nonfiction.

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    4. Karen: That is an impressive number of copies sold/readers! Can we find your book online?

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  12. This is the best story ever! An instant legend! You knew what was good, and you pursued it, and it blossomed a million times over. Yaaayyy!
    And what human being hasn’t embraced a little bit of “I told you so “delight? editors and agents who rejected me early on are now asking me for blurbs. I’ll completely embrace it, and do it with much joy. I wonder if they even remember. But it doesn’t matter.
    You are amazing!

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    1. Oh, I do love it when they come back around. "Why of course I'll read that manuscript for an endorsement." It's delicious.

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  13. Jenn, Congratulations on your book release.

    Starting and maintaining a blog for as long as I have is still surprising to me. I do appreciate all the authors that I invited and took a chance on the uniqueness of what I was trying to do.

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    1. Patience and persistence do seem to be the secret ingredients in this biz or any biz, really. You're now an icon in the industry, Dru!

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  14. Jenn, I just bought it. I've been badgering Amazon, the "pr---s," for months about this but it was there, just now!

    Congratulations on being persistent. You know that it isn't just a win for you, it is a win for all of us. I adore your stories.

    As for audiobooks, sometimes it is the reader who makes it fabulous but sometimes, ruins it. Debs and I have discussed this about various narrators, siting those we really enjoy, and those whom we wish would interpret characters differently. The narrators you have for Wait For It are stellar. I have several of your series on Audible already and I've listened to some of them twice!

    I do hope that you get fabulous narrators for your novellas. I will snag them as soon as they are available. Yay Jenn!!

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    1. Thank you, Judy! I so appreciate it. I agree - narration is key. I have been very lucky and the company who won the auction has published my books before - so YAY!

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  15. You sucked me right in with the British love interest and Bath! Just purchased it for my Kindle. Great persistence, Jenn!

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    1. Thank you, Emily! Your support is so appreciated!

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  16. Oh, this sounds wonderful. Congratulations, Jenn! Happy book birthday.

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  17. Congratulations, Jenn, your novella sounds delightful! So glad you persevered!

    I suppose the something new I tried, with a lot of trepidation, was buying my own house and living alone with my pets. Then selling that house, on my own, and buying another. Finally deciding to have a house built. Not sure I would recommend that; it can get very complicated. I also bought cars, totally on my own. After all that, I feel there is nothing I can't do on my own. If I have to.

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    1. You are a force of nature, Judi! I am so impressed by you.

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  18. Jenn, you are a CHAMP! And the story sounds irresistible.And SO satisfying to be able to say Toldjaso!

    And the novella as a form: feels just right. "A museum of literature romance" so perfect for these crazy darkish days we seem to be stuck in.

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    1. Hallie, it was like opening a portal. I have so many ideas rocketing out of my fictitious museum (although, there is a real one in Ireland) that I can barely contain it. And the novella form just isn't as big of a slog as a novel - that boggy middle is so much shorter and more manageable :) We'll see. If I fail, well, at least I tried.

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  19. Congratulations! I think "to prove the publishers wrong" is your variety of self care today!

    Bushwhacking. When I want something new, I head off into the trees in a direction I've not ever been. Never without my phone, mind you. It helps to improve my perspective, reminds me that the earth is a marvel and we should be more respectful.

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    1. I love this! As a person with no sense of direction who loves the outdoors, I have spent an inordinate amount of time lost in the woods. Now I'm going to call it bushwhacking instead - LOL.

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  20. It always feels good to finish something that others said couldn't or shouldn't be done. Jenn, well done.

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  21. Fist pump, Jenn! You rock and are an inspiration to all of us! Keep those ideas and novellas coming!

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    1. Thanks, Flora! It has given me some writing excitement again so that's well worth it!

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  22. Jenn, this is fabulous! I love your determination and I think you very much deserve to thumb your nose at the first publisher!! Royal Valentine is on Kindle and is next up in my queue. I can't wait to read it!

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    1. And it's now on my Kindle, too! Glad Amazon relented...

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    2. Thank you, Debs and Edith! Yes, Kindle is something, isn't it? The word Overlord comes to mind...hmm.

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  23. Yay for you! This story sounds like it could turn into an amazing series. Many years ago when my husband was still in elementary school his father was offered a job in Mexico at a sulphur mine. He talked it over with his boss, who scoffed and made fun of the idea. In short, it pissed off my f-i-l. He took the job and it really paid off for his career. And gave my husband many adventures in the jungle and later in Mexico City.

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    1. That sounds like the makings of a wonderful story, Pat! Good for your f-i-l. Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts.

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  24. OK. Museums, literature, Jane Austen, England, and earl. I'm in, and I just purchased it from Amazon. I am so delighted for you, Jenn, that you showed that publisher just what you're made of, which is successful writing.

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    1. Thank you, Kathy! Your kindness is much appreciated!

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  25. Congrats, Jenn! Can't wait to read it! Yes I've tried many new things, especially since 2007 or 08, mostly inspired by Laura Bradford, to come out of my introverted self more! I even did my first 5k walk and raised money for MS because of Laura, and joined a local writers' org.,etc., all kinds of new worlds opened to me!

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    1. That is fantastic, Lynn! Laura is a motivator!

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