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becke_davis
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Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

[ Edited ]

This week's featured guest is New York Times Best Selling Author JENN MCKINLAY! She's had an exciting week, with DUE OR DIE reaching #20 on the New York Times Best Seller list AND #15 on Publisher's Weekly's Best Seller list!

 

 

 

 

 

DUE or DIE hit #20 on the New York Times Bestseller's list for March 25, 2012!


 

 

 


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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

About Jenn

 

Jenn - where it all began

 

When did I decide to become a writer? Funny story. True story. I was a teenager and went to see the movie Romancing the Stone. I don't know that I decided to be a writer so much as I decided to be Kathleen Turner. Yes, that would be quite a stretch for me, but living in an apartment in New York City, writing romance novels for a living seemed like a good gig and so the dream began. I did nothing with it for YEARS. 

I went to Southern Conn State Univ, where I studied English Literature and Library Science and worked at a bar called Toad's Place. I then took a full time job working as a librarian in Cromwell, CT. Still, I wrote nothing. Full time work was not conducive to writing time. I knew I needed to live in a place where I could afford to live, working part-time.

So, I packed up all of my crap and my cat and moved 3,000 miles across the country to Arizona and then I started writing -- romances. Hmmm. They were pretty bad, but I learned a lot along the way about POV, character development and plotting, etc. I took a wide variety of part-time jobs, convinced that it was all temporary because one day I would be a published writer. 

While I was pursuing this dream with some pretty impressive (also called psychopathic) single-mindedness, I had my heart broken a few times and I broke a few along the way. I found my soul mate (in a library - for real) and married him. I had a gorgeous baby boy. 

And then the call came! A lovely woman called from Harlequin and wanted to buy a book I had submitted a year (yes, a WHOLE year) before. She said, "We want to buy your book." I looked at the bundle of joy in my arms and asked, "What book?" She said, "Hmm. Usually people scream about now." I said, "I can't. It'd wake the baby." This was my first lesson in perspective and what is truly important in life, my family, but I still wanted to be a writer.

I signed a contract and went on to write for a couple of Harlequin's romantic comedy lines. I learned so much and I joined a group of writers who quickly became friends that I still talk to pretty much every day. I had another gorgeous baby boy. 


The writing was hard for me and I learned that I was not a romance writer so much as a mystery writer. I'm just better at killing people than I am at making them fall in love. Knowing this, my husband sleeps really well at night, really! Bwa ha ha.

So, I started over. I wrote several mysteries. I submitted to agents and publishers. No one loved the whole package. They loved my characters and hated my plot or vice versa. It was agony. Then a lone voice, an agent, decided she thought I was a genius (always a good sign). 

She signed me and now I had a buddy to suffer the rejection with me. It still hurt. We kept trying. It went on for two years. And then we sold! In 2008, I agreed to write a decoupage mystery series, then I submitted an idea for a cupcake bakery mystery series and it sold. Sadly, my original agent left to pursue new and different dreams of her own.

I stayed with my agency, liking her partner very much. I knew it was a good match when I submitted an idea for a library lover's series and my new agent loved it and sold it. 

You'd think I'd rest now. You know, take a chill pill and just enjoy the ride. Yeah, I'm not built that way. After so many years of hours hunched over my keyboard, banging out stories, years spent checking my mail box and my email inbox for good news, I don't think I'll rest until I really feel like I've achieved what I set out to do. And so, I agreed to write the bargain hunters series and most recently, I submitted another idea for a mystery series set in London that looks like it will be a go! This will be my fifth mystery series. Wow. I am very excited!

Is it enough yet? I don't think so. So far, two of my series have landed on the New York Times extended bestseller's list. Awesome, but still, there's something just outside my reach. I guess I'll know what it is when it's in my grasp. Maybe it is something only time can give me. I don't know.

In the meantime, I am writing up a storm in the corner of my kitchen in my house in the desert. While my house, which is filled to bursting with kids, pets and my husband's guitars, is not the New York City apartment I dreamed of as a teen, I wouldn't trade it or the life I am living for anything!


Official author pic in Italy. Where else?


 

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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

And now: Five things you didn't know about Jenn

1. I believe daydreaming is terribly underrated as a life skill.

2. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a jockey. My mother, bless her heart, never said a word but signed me up for riding lessons, fully aware that at age nine I was already too tall to be a jockey. Yes, I'm six feet tall just like her. Wonderful woman.

3. My Sector 9 mini longboard (skateboard) is my favorite toy - best present the Hub ever gave me - and sidewalk surfing with my dudes is one of my favorite ways to spend a morning!

4. I was an extra on a TV show called Moloney, which 
starred Peter Straus and actually aired on TV for a 
whole season. It was the most boring 18 hours of 
my life and convinced me that we don't pay actors enough 
(yes, joking about the pay thing, still dreadfully dull work)!

5. My dad is a glider pilot and I have flown with him. For my birthday he even treated me to my first lesson and I actually flew the ship. I have my own log book and everything. AMAZING!!!

 

Sidewalk Surfing 11-2011
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

[ Edited ]

Jenn McKinlay is a pseudonym for Lucy Lawrence.

 

Jenn McKinlay is what is known as a dessert-freakosaurus. She has been known to eat leftover birthday cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the frozen top tier of her wedding cake didn’t stand a chance of seeing its first anniversary. Luckily, her husband is more of a salt guy.

 

Since the arrival of the hooligans (her sons), she has honed her culinary skills to include cupcakes and has baked and frosted cupcakes into the shape of cats, mice and outerspace aliens to name just a few. Writing a mystery series based upon one of her favorite food groups (cupcakes) is as enjoyable as licking the beater and she can’t wait to whip up the next one.

 

She is the author of another mystery series under the name Lucy Lawrence and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her musician husband Chris, their two sons, two cats, one dog and one fish.

 

 

 

Jenn McKinlay's Books:
 Due or Die, March 2012
 Death by the Dozen, October 2011
 Books Can Be Deceiving, July 2011
 Buttercream Bump Off, January 2011
 Sprinkle with Murder, March 2010

 

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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

*In the decoupage series, who does Brenna choose, Nate or Dom?

 

Keep reading to find out! 

*In the cupcake series, have you baked all of the recipes listed in the books? 

 

Heck, yeah! One of my favorite parts about writing this 
series is the “research and development” portion (i.e. baking in my kitchen)! 

*What are you working on now?

 

I'm working on the fifth mystery in the cucpake bakery series GOING, GOING, GANACHE. I am studiously researching all I can about the best ganache frosting recipes - it's brutal, truly.

*When are your next appearances? Will you be coming to my city?

 

I try to keep an updated list of signings and appearances on my Events page. If you'd like me to come to your city, let your local bookstores know! 

*How long did it take for you to get published? What advice can you give me on writing a book?

 

I decided to be a writer when I was sixteen. I didn’t actually write anything until I was twenty-five. I sold my first book when I was thirty-three. So, you can see it was a long and winding journey to being published. My advice: Get your butt in the chair every day, write every day, then, when your work is the absolute best it can be, submit to publishers/​agents who publish/​represent what you write. Then do it all over again until you wear them down into publishing you. Hey, it worked for me.

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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

Jenn will be attending Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD on April 27-29
Jenn will be at the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA on April 30.
Jenn's website is here: http://www.jennmckinlay.com/index.htm
She's on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/jennmckinlay
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

recipes

These are cake balls that I made in Nov 2011. Same idea as cake pops (which I lost my picture of - drat) except no popsicle stick.
 

Cake Pops: A cake and frosting confection dipped in candy coating and served on a stick.

1 cake (9 x 13) or 18 cupcakes (out of liners)

2 cups buttercream or cream cheese frosting

2 packages of candy melts

30 lollipop sticks (large thick ones)

1 large foam block

In a large bowl, crumble up the cake into very small pieces. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the frosting until it is well mixed; should be the consistency of truffles. Roll the cake frosting mixture into walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet coated with wax paper.

Once all the cake has been rolled, put it in the fridge to harden a bit. Melt the candy in a double boiler or a microwave according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Take the cake balls out of the fridge and dip the end of a lollipop stick into the melted candy. Slide a cake ball about half an inch down onto the candy-tipped stick. Now dip the whole cake ball into the melted candy, tapping it very gently on the side of the bowl to get rid of the excess.

Stand the cake pop up by pushing the non-cake end into the foam block. If you’re decorating with sprinkles, sugars, or coconut now is the time to do it, as the candy will harden fairly quickly. Repeat until you’re out of cake balls and melted candy.


Red Velvet Cupcakes with Beets
 

Red Velvet Cupcakes (using beets): A red velvet cupcake made with beet puree and topped cream cheese frosting and an edible flower (optional).

1 1/​4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/​4 teaspoon salt
3/​4 cup beet puree
1/​3 cup canola oil 1egg, room temperature
1/​4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350° F. Put 12 cupcake liners in muffin tin. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, add in the oil, lemon juice, vanilla and egg to the pureed beets. Pour the beet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix just enough to combine. Fill each muffin cup 2/​3 full and bake for 18 – 22 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened 
1 stick unsalted butter, softened 
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar 
Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth. Put frosting in a pastry bag and pipe onto cupcakes in thick swirls, using an open tip. Decorate with an edible flower, such as a nasturtium.

Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes
 

Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes: An orange cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream and garnished with a candied orange peel.

Ingredients:

1 3/​4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/​2 teaspoons salt
2 1/​2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs, separated and whites beaten until stiff
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/​2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 stick of butter, softened

Candied orange peels (for garnish)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Combine butter, sugar, egg yolks, zest and orange extract in a large mixing bowl. Cream these ingredients together thoroughly. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together in a separate mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients to creamed ingredients 1/​3 at a time alternately with the orange juice. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Spoon batter into cupcake liners until 1/​2 full. 
Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 18.


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting 

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar 2-3 tablespoons milk (or whipping cream)
Directions:
In a large bowl, cream butter and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl often. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. For best results, keep icing in refrigerator when not in use. This icing can be stored up to 2 weeks. Rewhip before using. Makes 3 cups of icing. 

Kiss Me Cupcakes!
 

KISS ME CUPCAKES!
Ingredients: 

1 3/​4 cups all purpose flour 
2 1/​4 tspns baking powder 
1/​8 tspn salt 
1 tspn peppermint extract 
1/​2 cup milk 
1 stick butter, softened 
1 cupc sugar 
2 eggs, room temperature 
1 cup chocolate chips 
1 bag Hersey's Kisses 

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda 
and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 
sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with 
each addition, then stir in the peppermint extract. Add the flour mixture 
alternately with the milk, beat well. Add the chocoalte chips after dusting 
them with flour to keep them from sinking while baking. Bake for 15-17 
minutes. Makes 16. 
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting: 

Ingredients: 

1 cup butter, softened 
1 tspn peppermint extract 
4 cups confectioner's sugar 
2 tablespoons milk 

Directions: 

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the extract. Gradually add the 
sugar, beating well on medium speed. Add milk and continue mixing 
until frosting is light and fluffy. Divide in half into separate bowls. 
Use red food coloring to dye one half of the frosting red. To decorate 
the top of the cupcake use a pastry bag with a star tip and working 
from the center of the cupcake to the edge, pipe the frosting in 
alternating colors so that it resembles a hard candy. 
Top with a Hersey's Kiss.

The Mojito
 

Mojito: A golden cupcake flavored with lime zest and dried spearmint leaves and topped with a rum flavored icing.

Ingredients:
1/​2 cup sugar 
1 1/​2 cups flour 
1/​4 teaspoon salt 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 lime, juice and zest of 
2 tsp dried spearmint leaves 
1/​4 cup melted butter 
1 beaten egg 
1 cup milk 
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Sift all the dry stuff together in a big bowl. Melt the butter and add the beaten egg to it. Add that to the dry ingredients, stirring in the milk until smooth. Zest half of a lime, add it to the bowl. Squeeze in half of the lime as well. Add the dried spearmint leaves to the batter, mixing well. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Makes 12.

Rum flavored Butter Cream frosting: Use standard butter cream recipe but substitute rum extract for vanilla. Garnish with candy spearmint leaf, real mint leaf or lime wedge.



The Tinkerbell
 

Tinkerbells: Lemon cupcakes with raspberry butter cream frosting rolled in pink sugar.

Ingredients:

1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 c. granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/​3 c. grated lemon zest (3 to 4 large lemons)
3 c. flour
1/​2 tsp. baking powder
1/​2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/​4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/​4 c. buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar until fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/​4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Use an ice cream scoop to fill paper lined cupcake pan. Bake 20 minutes. Makes 24.

Raspberry Butter Cream:

Ingredients:
1/​2 cup solid vegetable shortening 
1/​2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened 
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar 
1/​2 cup fresh raspberries 

Directions:
In large bowl, cream shortening and butter. Add raspberries (should be washed and thoroughly dried). Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl often. The raspberries give the icing an amazing pink color. But I like to sprinkle the cupcake with a little pink decorating sugar for pizazz.

Jenn's Kitchen
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

[ Edited ]

Due or Die (Library Lover's Mystery Series #2)  

 

 

 

Overview

 

Answering tricky reference questions is excitement enough for library director Lindsey Norris. Until a murder is committed in her cozy hometown of Briar Creek, Connecticut, and the question of who did it must be answered before someone else is checked out—for good.

 

Library Journal


Things are not going swimmingly for Briar Creek's Friends of the Library. Bill Sint, the group's former president, is not taking being voted out lightly. His replacement comes home to find her husband shot dead in his TV chair. With recent events definitely not normal, the library director, newcomer Lindsey Norris (Books Can Be Deceiving), wonders about the goings-on in her quaint New England town. She doesn't have time to waste, though, what with a puppy abandoned in the book drop, a nor'easter bearing down on the Connecticut coast, and a murderer still roaming free. Lindsey's amateur sleuthing may put her in the line of fire next.

 

VERDICT What a great read! I can't wait to go back to the first title in this cozy, library-centered series. McKinlay has been a librarian, and her snappy storyline, fun characters, and young library director with backbone make for a winning formula. Add a dog named Heathcliffe and library programming suggestions—well, it's quite a value-added package!

 

 

 

DUE or DIE hit #20 on the New York Times Bestseller's list for March 25, 2012!

 

 

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50% Off Murder (Good Buy Girls Mystery Series #1)  

 

 

Overview

 

Maggie Gerber-one of the founding members of the Good Buy Birls- loves her quiet life in St. Stanley, Virginia. But all that changes when Sam Collins, her old flame, moves back to town as the new sheriff. On top of that, Claire Freemont, a librarian and the newest member of the Good Buy Girls, starts acting utterly strange.

 

When Maggie goes to visit her the next day at the library, she finds the body of a very dead man. Turns out the man is someone from Claire's past. As the handsome new sheriff zeroes in on Claire, it's up to Maggie and the rest of the Good Buy Girls to use their bargain-hunting skills to hunt a killer-while making sure they don't pay too much in the process...

 

 

“50% Off Murder is a great deal: there’s mystery, romance and humor wrapped up in one entertaining package. As a bonus, there’s no extra charge for those laugh out loud moments. I look forward to many more adventures from Maggie and her friends and I am sure that local law enforcement will recover -- in time. Meanwhile, bring on those money-saving tips!”

 

-- Mary Jane Maffini, author of the Charlotte Adams mysteries

 

 

 

 

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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

Please welcome JENN MCKINLAY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JennMcKinlay
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

Thanks so much for the warm welcome, Becke!  It is a real pleasure to be here!

Jenn

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ReadingPatti
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

JenMcKinlay, welcome, hope your visit is a great one. I love the titles of your books.

 

Do you consider them cozy mysteries? I know some authors don't like that name.

 

I will look for your books.

 

Have a great visit.

 

ReadingPatti

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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

Hi Jenn - Thanks so much for joining us this week!

 

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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

Jenn- I saw a Facebook post about the lovely flowers you received from your husband for making the NYT bestseller list. Did you do anything else to celebrate?

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Fricka
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

Welcome to our friendly forum here, Jenn. I had the pleasure of meeting you, along with your writing co-horts Beth Kendrick, Avery Aames, and Kate Carlisle, and getting an inscribed copy of Buttercream Bump-Off, from you, at the "CupCake Cozy" held at  the *cough* Scottsdale Mystery Bookstore *cough* last fall. Your Cakes-on- a-Stick were scrumptious, too!

 

It was lovely to see that what looked to be your entire immediate family was also present to cheer you on! (Jenn's two sons, husband, and in-laws were all there to support her, which I thought was so great!)

The first book in your library-themed series had not yet been released, but I've gotten and read a copy of Books Can Be Deceiving since then, and am very much looking forward to reading Due or Die, and the next book in the Cup Cake series. (A bit confused as to the actual title of the next book in that series, as I've seen what looks to be two separate titles for that-- can't remember what they are at the moment, sorry.)I've been sick, so my TBR pile is expanding dangerously! But your books are at the top of the list, so I expect to get to them soon, as a treat to myself.

" A murder mystery is the normal recreation of the noble mind."--Sister Carol Anne O' Marie
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Fricka
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

OK, my bad. The books are Death by the Dozen, and the soon to be released Red Velvet Revenge. In my defense, though, the reason I became confused in the first place is that Barnes and Noble is showing the cover for Red Velvet Revenge next to  the description of Death by the Dozen.:cattongue:

And do I understand correctly, Jenn, that you are also writing yet another series under the pseudonym Josie Bell?

" A murder mystery is the normal recreation of the noble mind."--Sister Carol Anne O' Marie
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!


Fricka wrote:

Welcome to our friendly forum here, Jenn. I had the pleasure of meeting you, along with your writing co-horts Beth Kendrick, Avery Aames, and Kate Carlisle, and getting an inscribed copy of Buttercream Bump-Off, from you, at the "CupCake Cozy" held at  the *cough* Scottsdale Mystery Bookstore *cough* last fall. Your Cakes-on- a-Stick were scrumptious, too!

 

It was lovely to see that what looked to be your entire immediate family was also present to cheer you on! (Jenn's two sons, husband, and in-laws were all there to support her, which I thought was so great!)

The first book in your library-themed series had not yet been released, but I've gotten and read a copy of Books Can Be Deceiving since then, and am very much looking forward to reading Due or Die, and the next book in the Cup Cake series. (A bit confused as to the actual title of the next book in that series, as I've seen what looks to be two separate titles for that-- can't remember what they are at the moment, sorry.)I've been sick, so my TBR pile is expanding dangerously! But your books are at the top of the list, so I expect to get to them soon, as a treat to myself.


Jenn - Fricka is wonderful about avoiding naming a competitor, something B&N frowns on here. But we know Fricka lives in Phoenix, so it's not that hard to figure out. I've met Avery and Kate before - both of them more than once - and I'm hoping I'll get to meet you at Malice Domestic in April. It will be my first visit!

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mary_kennedy
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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!

Hi Jenn! (waving madly here). Love the expression "psychopathic sindle mindedness." Maybe all of us have to be a little crazy/obsessed/driven to continue to write. Huge fan of your books, so glad you are a guest today.

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Re: Please Welcome Author JENN MCKINLAY!


mary_kennedy wrote:

Hi Jenn! (waving madly here). Love the expression "psychopathic sindle mindedness." Maybe all of us have to be a little crazy/obsessed/driven to continue to write. Huge fan of your books, so glad you are a guest today.


Hi Mary - Thanks so much for joining us! I think all writers have to be a little nuts, especially with the crazy publishing market these days!