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The Sirens of Suspense




New York Times best-selling author Jennifer McKinlay has spent most of her life talking to herself. In fact, her fantasy life is so rich with imaginary friends that she started writing it down to keep it all straight. Naturally, she became an author. She is the author of the Library Lover's Mysteries, the Cupkake Mysteries, the Decoupage Mysteries (as Lucy Lawrence), and the Good Buy Girls Mysteries (as Josie Belle). Her latest books are: BOOK, LINE, AND SINKER (December 4th), and A DEAL TO DIE FOR (out December 31st).

Her life is still full of imaginary friends but now she has to make room for her two son's imaginary friends as well. It makes for quite a full house, and at any given meal there might be a place setting for a train, a sea turtle or a butterfly. You just never know. Jennifer lives in Arizona with her musician husband Chris, their sons, a dog, a cat, and four fish.

Jenn will be at The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ on Saturday, December 8th at noon.

Find Jenn on Twitter and Facebook.

item1 Alice in Writingland item1

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”  Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

That is one of my favorite quotes. Not just because I love the Alice books and Lewis Carroll’s mastery of the absurd, but also because I feel like it is a perfect description of a writer’s life. “Everything would be what it isn’t…And what it wouldn’t be, it would.”

When I was a child, I spent an inordinate amount of time talking to myself. I had imaginary conversations with all sorts of fantastical creatures. At the time, I didn’t understand I was essentially in training to become an author. Now I realize that all of those scenarios I was working out in my head by playacting as a child were just the first steps of walking through the portal of imagination that every writer has to go through in order to find their unique voice. My imaginary world drove my brother crazy, partly I think because he thought I was talking to him when I wasn’t and partly because he thought I was weird. He was right.

I was (am) weird. Why else would I start to write down the things I imagined and send them to agents and publishers? You know who they are those big ogres who reside mostly in New York City and like to stab a writer repeatedly in the heart with their fountain pens of rejection just for giggles and grins. Contrary to popular belief, you do not ever build up a callus thick enough to make the rejection not hurt. But like any hero on a quest, quitting can never be an option. It is imperative that you keep going until you find the agent or editor who sees your brilliance and wants to nurture it.

These would be the non-stabbing ogres. They are very difficult to find, but they resemble lovely fairy godmothers who leave trails of rainbows and glitter in their wake and are totally worth waiting for even when you think you are bleeding out from the pen wielding ogres.

Having survived rejection and found my champions, I was a bit surprised to find that everything I thought writing would be, it wasn’t. First of all, it was hard work, really hard work. Second of all, there was no red carpet, trumpet fanfares or even a tiara to be had. Paranoia crept into the vacuum created by the lack of glory. Certain that I was constantly on the brink of failure, I took on one series about decoupage, another series about cupcakes, a third series about libraries, a fourth series about bargain hunting, a fifth series about hats, yeah, you get the idea. I was mental, a total nutcase, a Mad Hatter if you will, and then my books started to do well. I found the corset of terror I’d been wearing suddenly loosened and I could breathe again. Ah.

With plenty of work to do, I began to develop a rhythm, sort of like the intricate dances where people just touch fingertips while they sashay to and fro. Now I could finally look back at the past few years and distill what I had learned. Number one -- calm down. Two -- write a good book. Three --don’t panic time is essential for readers to find your work. Four -- work hard and pretty soon you can buy your own damn tiara. Yes, that last one is my favorite.

What I have come to believe after so many years spent reading and writing is that books are magic and writers are magicians. Writers create worlds and characters that don’t exist, they conjure them up out of thin air and weave their words so tightly around them that they become real and the reader is transported into their fictitious world so deeply that the reader ceases to be present in their physical world. Having fallen so deeply into a well-told story that I forgot who and where I was when it began, I definitely believe in the magic of the wordsmith.

I also believe that anyone can learn how to tell a great story and write a short story, a novel, a screenplay or a perfect poem. It may take years and lots of blood, sweat and tears, mostly tears, but writing isn’t an exclusive club. Anyone with a story to tell and some magic to weave is welcome.





DID YOU HAVE A CRAZY IMAGINATION AS A CHILD? Tell us about your childhood dreams or ask Jenn a question by commenting below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win bookmarks, books, and maybe even Jenn's latest BOOK, LINE, AND SINKER!

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