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Featured Author - Jennifer McKenzie

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Jennifer McKenzie



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Jenmck is one of our members, and she writes under two names, Jennifer McKenzie and Jennifer Leeland. You can read more on her official site.

 

Jen will chatting to us over the coming month, about writing, getting published, and her different styles of writing. :lol:

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What got you interested in writing or has it been something you always intended/wanted to do?

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Hi Jen!

 

I have a three-part question for you:

 

1.) How do you classify your books (genre-wise)?

2.) Do book shops/sellers tend to classify them the same way, or do they classify them differently?

3.) Do you think this in any way affects the sale of your books / the audience they reach?

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First, let me say what a privilege it is to be considered. Especially following Stuart McBride (who was awesome).

 

I've always loved to write and did it for fun most of my life. Then, in 2002 my Dad passed away with a completed manuscript that no one ever saw. He never thought it was good enough.

I realized that I'd always talked about being an author "someday" but did the same thing my Dad did. I hid my writing away and didn't let anyone see it.

 

I was determined to change that. My first manuscript was really about the loss of my Dad and the love we both had of books. When it was done I subbed it to Harlequin. And WALA! My first rejection.

 

From there, I discovered Romance Divas and started writing short stories for Electronic Publishers.

My pen name, Jennifer Leeland, came about because I loved Erotic Romance and thought I'd try my hand at it. I enjoyed it and The Wild Rose Press took a chance on me.

 

I write a little of everything, but I love romantic suspense. "Heart Of The Storm" came out with Whiskey Creek Press/Torrid which is my first romantic suspense title to be contracted.

 

I've got two sequels in the works for "Heart Of The Storm" and two contracted erotic romances being released soon.

 

I've been VERY lucky. And I love to write. That helps too. :lol:

 

Thank you so very much for inviting me. I'll get to the questions now.

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What got you interested in writing or has it been something you always intended/wanted to do?

 

Weeeelll, you know how you always hear about those people who were writing stuff when they were ten?

Not me.

I was a sporadic writer and only for my own pleasure for most of my life. I journaled, I wrote articles for newsletters and things like that. But I didn't take my writing seriously.

I'm a bibliophile, however. I love to read. The idea of writing something that would give another reader enjoyment was persistent. So, I started to WORK at my writing.

It's amazing how much better my writing has gotten in the last two years.

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Hi Jen!

 

I have a three-part question for you:

 

1.) How do you classify your books (genre-wise)?

2.) Do book shops/sellers tend to classify them the same way, or do they classify them differently?

3.) Do you think this in any way affects the sale of your books / the audience they reach?

 

 

Great questions. I have a tough time classifying my books. I'm a romance writer. I am classified as romance first. It's the sub genres that get tricky.

For example, "Singled Out" was a romance I wrote for my best friend when we were joking around about why she was forty-three and still single. We decided her Guardian Angel must be a drunk. Thomas, the recovering alcoholic Guardian Angel was born and "Singled Out" began The Divine Intervention series.

It's classified as romantic comedy. I guess it's funny, but I hadn't thought of it in that genre. Its sequel "Double Trouble" is considered paranormal. Mmmm.

Honestly, I don't know WHAT affects sales of books. The Divine Intervention series sold itself. I don't think the genre really made a difference.

I do notice that suspense titles sell well second only to erotic romance.

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How did you stumble upon 'The Book Club Forum'?

Do reviews etc on here help at all with your writing?

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How did you stumble upon 'The Book Club Forum'?

Do reviews etc on here help at all with your writing?

 

 

Cinthia Hamner was on Romance Divas and said this was a great place. I signed up and then totally forgot about it. Then, in September, Michelle sent me a "Happy Birthday" from the Book Forum.

I was at a place where I was reading other things besides romance and I wanted to hang out with people who were as eclectic as I am about my book preferences. I've been a daily visitor ever since. The only problem I have is that you all have read SO much more than I have. So, I tend to be quiet on most threads, but I LOVE the opinions on different books.

 

Reviews here help me to find books to read. And reading always helps my writing.

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How do you plan your day when you are writing? Any sort of time you find better and where do you write, or are you one for jotting down notes, whenever?

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How do you plan your day when you are writing? Any sort of time you find better and where do you write, or are you one for jotting down notes, whenever?

 

Mmmm good questions.

I have days set aside for writing (usually in the morning when the kids are at school). I try to keep focused on writing and not get distracted. Which is VERY difficult. I LOVE to visit blogs and I find I have to leave my internet closed while I write.

I need to be alone when I write. (It might be because I'm writing sex scenes on occasion. That's difficult with Thomas The Tank Engine or Scooby Doo in the background). I don't always need quiet and I often have music on.

I see all my stories in scenes, which means I don't really "take notes". A really good scene will stick with me until I'm able to write it down.

I've handwritten entire short stories when I was away from my computer however.

I think my biggest flaw is being too distracted by "new and shiny" stories or blogs or the phone or the fly on the wall......

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(It might be because I'm writing sex scenes on occasion. That's difficult with Thomas The Tank Engine or Scooby Doo in the background).

And why might that be... welcome to my world :lol::lol:;)

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(It might be because I'm writing sex scenes on occasion. That's difficult with Thomas The Tank Engine or Scooby Doo in the background).

 

And why might that be... welcome to my world :lol::lol:;)

 

Um, because my character's motivation all comes out with the need to be "Really reliable and Really Useful" with a craving for Scooby snacks.

Me=distracted

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Okay, since no one is asking ME questions I want to ask one of YOU.

 

This question has a story behind it.

My sister read my book on the plane as she flew out from Wisconsin to California. Now, she was embarrassed by the "hot" cover for the book.

My question is this. Does the cover influence you to buy or not to buy?

In other words--Crappy cover=No way I'm buying THAT.

Fab cover=I don't have the money but I NEED that book.

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My question is this. Does the cover influence you to buy or not to buy?

In other words--Crappy cover=No way I'm buying THAT.

Fab cover=I don't have the money but I NEED that book.

I don't get embarrassed over book covers or titles. I quite happily sat at work reading The SexualLife of Catherine M by Catherine Millet at work, which got me some funny looks, but I didn't care a jot!

 

If it's a book I want to read, I don't care what the cover looks like -Ii'll get it anyway. I'll admit, I'm occasionally attracted to books by authors I don't know because they have a gorgeous cover, but then i read the blurb on the back to see if it's something I would enjoy. If it is, I'll get it, if not, it goes back on the shelf.

 

I have a question for you off the back of that one, Jen:

 

Do you get much leeway over what your covers look like, or do the publishers decide that? Or do they give you perhaps a choice of covers and you get final say?

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Hmm.. covers. If it's a book that's been recommended, then I'm not bothered by the cover. However, if I'm browsing, I will admit that the cover does make alot of difference. So, it won't stop me buying what I already want, but may stop me buying something new.

 

Yep, I can be quite shallow! :lol:

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Hi Jen, I have just looked at your site and first of all motivated by your question i would like to say that the covers of your books look very nice and seem to confirm the thoughts I had from reading the synopses, but also add more to those thoughts.

 

What I would like to ask you is where did the inspiration for the Divine Intervention series come from, specifically thinking about the guardian angel theme?

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Hmm.. covers. If it's a book that's been recommended, then I'm not bothered by the cover. However, if I'm browsing, I will admit that the cover does make alot of difference. So, it won't stop me buying what I already want, but may stop me buying something new.

 

Yep, I can be quite shallow! :lol:

 

With Michell on this one, but not quite sure why I pick the books I do sometimes. If it is an author I don't know and I like the cover I will pick it up then read the back. If it doesn't seem like my kinda thing put it back. If it is an author I know the cover doesn't affect my choice because I will usually by the book anyway.

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I don't get embarrassed over book covers or titles. I quite happily sat at work reading The SexualLife of Catherine M by Catherine Millet at work, which got me some funny looks, but I didn't care a jot!

 

If it's a book I want to read, I don't care what the cover looks like -Ii'll get it anyway. I'll admit, I'm occasionally attracted to books by authors I don't know because they have a gorgeous cover, but then i read the blurb on the back to see if it's something I would enjoy. If it is, I'll get it, if not, it goes back on the shelf.

 

I have a question for you off the back of that one, Jen:

 

Do you get much leeway over what your covers look like, or do the publishers decide that? Or do they give you perhaps a choice of covers and you get final say?

 

That's exactly how I am, Kell. I read books I like and that's that. To answer your question, I'm in epublishing and small press print. So far, the publishers have been VERY accommodating and I've had significant input. Usually, I fill out a cover art form and I have the opportunity to let the artist know exactly what I'd like. Sometimes (as in the case of "Heart Of The Storm") they have to go with a certain "style" of cover. Torrid is the erotic romance section of Whiskey Creek, so "hot and sexy" is necessary. In that, I don't have much choice.

They send me a cover and I can make suggestions.

I've heard in bigger publishing houses there is less author input on covers.

 

 

Hmm.. covers. If it's a book that's been recommended, then I'm not bothered by the cover. However, if I'm browsing, I will admit that the cover does make alot of difference. So, it won't stop me buying what I already want, but may stop me buying something new.

 

Yep, I can be quite shallow! :lol:

 

I don't know if that's shallow. Publishers need to know if the cover art stops customer purchases. For example, Cobblestone Press discontinued a line that had a lot of fabulous stories but the covers killed the sales. It can really make a huge difference.

 

Hi Jen, I have just looked at your site and first of all motivated by your question i would like to say that the covers of your books look very nice and seem to confirm the thoughts I had from reading the synopses, but also add more to those thoughts.

 

What I would like to ask you is where did the inspiration for the Divine Intervention series come from, specifically thinking about the guardian angel theme?

 

My best friend is my rock and we've been through a lot together. She had just gotten out of ANOTHER nasty relationship and, at forty-three, wondered why she was still single.

Then, there was "the Dans". Yep, three of them. Three men named Dan who hit on her, promised to call, or take her out and didn't. That was the last straw.

We decided her Guardian Angel must be drunk. Thomas was created in that conversation. He's a Guardian Angel with a drinking problem who, when he gets sober, must "fix" the messes he's made through neglect.

Of course, I believe we are all guided by a Power Greater Than Ourselves, but the books are not religious or preachy.

 

With Michell on this one, but not quite sure why I pick the books I do sometimes. If it is an author I don't know and I like the cover I will pick it up then read the back. If it doesn't seem like my kinda thing put it back. If it is an author I know the cover doesn't affect my choice because I will usually by the book anyway.

 

I agree.

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Hi Jen

 

How are you? I'm Gyre, it is lovely to meet you. :lol:

 

My question is, where do you get your ideas from? and do you ever get stuck with a particular part of your books?

;)

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Hi

 

I just wanted to ask you if you encountered any difficulties when writing erotic romance? You mentioned having kids' tv in the background wasn't conducive to writing certain scenes...

 

Also what drew you to the erotic romance genre?

 

I must admit that I decided against a detailed sex scene in my book - not because I was embarrassed about writing it - but because I didn't like the idea of my mam reading it!

 

Kerri

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Hi Jen

 

How are you? I'm Gyre, it is lovely to meet you. :D

 

My question is, where do you get your ideas from? and do you ever get stuck with a particular part of your books?

:)

 

*Waves* Hi Gyre! I'm so glad to be here.

 

I think if I told you where my ideas came from, they'd sent the men in the white coats for me. ;) Mostly, my ideas come in scenes with a character that talks to me. For example, I had one character who insisted on dog sledding. In Alaska in January. I thought he was crazy. Come to find out he was right on. :lol: It was a little freaky to google dog sledding and discover that January is the best month to dog sled in Alaska.

Some ideas, like "Heart Of The Storm", begin with a true story. My husband was a drag fisherman for ten years and heard a story about a boat and it's five man crew that was "lost at sea". Five years later, one of those missing crew men was arrested for murder in Arizona. That premise started the story for "Heart Of The Storm".

 

And yes, I do get stuck. A lot. Mostly, in the middle of it. It's usually because the story has gone "wrong" somewhere. It's kind of like knitting. If you "drop a stitch" somewhere, it can really mess up the whole thing. For me, it's usually a plot hole.

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Hi

 

I just wanted to ask you if you encountered any difficulties when writing erotic romance? You mentioned having kids' tv in the background wasn't conducive to writing certain scenes...

 

Also what drew you to the erotic romance genre?

 

I must admit that I decided against a detailed sex scene in my book - not because I was embarrassed about writing it - but because I didn't like the idea of my mam reading it!

 

Kerri

 

Oh I can relate to this so much.

Yes, I had difficulties writing with the kids around. I usually don't have to. But I do edit my erotic scenes with my kids home and it's not always comfortable. Luckily, neither of my kids can read yet, so I don't have the "What's that word, Mama" happening yet. :lol:

And about detailed sex scenes. My mom read Nora Roberts and she still didn't like the sex scenes in "Heart Of The Storm". But she loved the rest of it.;)

I kept my Jennifer Leeland pen name completely separate for a year, but my mom doesn't go looking for me online. She knows I write "smut".

For me, the sex scenes have to be what the characters would do. I don't write erotic romance to "sell". Most of the time, the way the character is determines the level of heat.

And I don't believe in gratuitous sex. For me, a sex scene is about connecting two people in a meaningful way. If it's just sex, it won't have any impact for the reader or for me.

Does that make sense?

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And I don't believe in gratuitous sex. For me, a sex scene is about connecting two people in a meaningful way. If it's just sex, it won't have any impact for the reader or for me.

Does that make sense?

 

Oh, absolutely! I was sent a book once, which looked like it might be a really good story. However, the sex scenes were VERY gratuitous - they didn't go in the story, but felt like they'd just been added on. (If that makes sense?) It was bad enough to make me put the book down.

 

And yet, there's probably a big market for it!

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Oh, absolutely! I was sent a book once, which looked like it might be a really good story. However, the sex scenes were VERY gratuitous - they didn't go in the story, but felt like they'd just been added on. (If that makes sense?) It was bad enough to make me put the book down.

 

And yet, there's probably a big market for it!

 

I actually had a book that was VERY dirty rejected for not being "hot enough". They commented that they wanted me to "push the envelope" and with that story I'd gone as far as I was willing to go.

There is pressure out there to make stories "hotter".

I try and keep a balance. I don't like closed door sex or too many euphemisms (crashing waves anyone?) so I've been lucky in my publishing experiences.

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