10 Tips for Writers

November 11th, 2014
Jenna's workspace at a writer's retreat.

Jenna’s workspace at a recent writer’s retreat.

This post was inspired by a request from Webucator in support of all those aspiring writers working through November on a novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS WHEN YOU STARTED WRITING? My original goal was very simple.  My aim was to complete a 100,000 word historical romance.  Unfortunately, due to a woeful lack of understanding of the market, this story was sent in Colonial Spain.  It will never see the light of day, which is a very good thing, because it was also poorly written, like many first novels, but I DID finish! My second goal was to get a rejection letter that did not begin, Dear Author.  With that achievement, I aimed for a ‘good’ rejection letter, which is one in which an editor or agent either asks for you to re-write and resubmit, asks you to submit something else or offers a suggestion or encouragement in their rejection.  With seventy rejection letters to my credit, I achieved this lofty, near impossible mark of progress with a request to submit something else (but I had to write it first).  The next logical step, was to get a request for a partial, which is (for those of you writing about Colonial Spain) when an agent or editor asks to see your first three chapters and a synopsis.  Once I had leaped this hurdle, my objective was not to die of old age before I heard back from them.  I didn’t and they did finally write back.  This is bad, of course, though I didn’t know it at the time.  Bad news comes in the inbox.  Good news comes via the phone.  With a new series of rejections of partials in hand and only nine years of continuous work on my craft, I aimed  to receive an offer on a story.  And after a mere ten years from when I began this marathon, I got the call.   Harlequin offered for a Western Historical titled, WINTER WOMAN.  One year later I obtained my next goal, to hold a book which I had written in my hand.  With my second offer, a multi-book contract, my goal became finding an agent.

9780373298037 Wild West Christmas medium

Wild West Christmas includes Jenna’s novella, A Family for the Rancher

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS NOW? I’m working on switching subgenres from Historical and Paranormal to Romantic Suspense.  I’m also working toward moving from series romance to single title, expanding my reader base and connecting to new readers on social media.  I do this by keeping a Facebook page, hosting GoodReads giveaways, tweet @jennakernan and Pinterest.  My webpage, www.jennakernan.com contains first chapter excerpts, video book trailers, giveaway information, news and a place to join my newsletter.

WHAT PAYS THE BILLS? I work a day job and write in the evenings and weekends.  I always thought that when I made the same amount writing as I did at my job, that I’d quit.  I guess I better add that to my above goals.

ASSUMING WRITING DOESN’T PAY THE BILLS WHAT MOTIVATES YOU NOW? I write because it is a pleasure, a struggle, a puzzle and a joy.  When I write, time can cease. as I slip into the ‘zone‘.  This is the most important reason to write–because I love it.  Additionally, the supplemental income is helpful.  The satisfaction of seeing my stories in print motivates me.  I’m also motivated by my readers, who let me know that my stories are important to them.  Life is difficult and we all face many challenges, but a book can help folks escape their problems for a while.  That’s reason enough to do what I do.


Here is my list of 10 tips to writers.

1. WRITE: The best way to learn to write is to write. Not to read about it, or think about it or talk about it, but to do it–every day. Practice your craft and you will improve.

2. JOIN: Join a professional writing organization. There are many.  Additionally, join a local chapter of that group.

3. LEARN: Take some writing classes, attend writing conferences and read about the craft of writing.

4. READ: Read everything you can in the genre you aim to write.

5. RESEARCH: Visit bookstores and online booksellers to see what kind of books are currently selling. Read the back covers.  Look at the front covers.  This is market research and it will help you spot what is selling.

6. VISIT: Join the mailing list of some of the authors who you would like to emulate. Visit their websites and see what kind of social presence they maintain.  Consider joining Twitter and Facebook.  Start writing copy for your website.

7. STUDY: Learn all you can about the business of publishing which is changing with astonishing speed.

8. FOLLOW: Read the websites of the publishers and agents you would like to approach and then FOLLOW THEIR GUIDELINES. Be sure to address the letter to a specific person and spell their name correctly.  Consider attending a conference attended by the publishers and agents you wish to query and pitch to them in person.

9. MEET EXPECTATIONS: Keep query letters short and to the point.  Editors are very busy and they don’t suffer fools well.  It is a good idea to read as many examples of queries as you can before you submit so you come across as a professional.

10. PRACTICE: Synopsis writing is an art and it takes much practice.  So practice.  Read examples and figure out how to condense your story while having the kind of hook that will land you an offer.

Good Luck with your writing!


WILD WEST CHRISTMAS Featured on eHarlequin!

October 16th, 2014
Win a whole bunch of rugged cowboys at eharleqin until 10/19

Win a whole bunch of rugged cowboys at eharleqin until 10/19










APPEARANCE :  I’ll be joining a panel at the Danbury, CT library on October 26 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM.  This panel includes authors Mary Beth Bass, Erika Kelly, Bebbie Christiana, Renee Paley-Dain, Laura K. Curtis, Sharon Struth and yours truly.  Topic: How Scary is Publishing, Really?  We’ll be talking about our own journeys and giving some advice.  There will be light refreshments and an author signing.  Please stop by if you are in the area.  Register by calling 203  797-4527 or by clicking on EVENTS on the webpage www.danburylibrary.org.

GIVEAWAY:  I’m so thrilled whenever my cover gets featured by Harlequin.  Above is the gorgeous cover of WILD WEST CHRISTMAS, a anthology collection out now.  Harlequin is running a giveaway until October 19th including all the titles you see in the photo above.  If you’d like to enter, click this link.

WRITING:  My writing world is full of treats, instead of tricks. A box of my December release just arrived, so I’ll  soon be posting a GoodReads contest for THE SHIFTER’S CHOICE, my next paranormal romance.  Those of you who have enjoyed THE VAMPIRE’S WOLF (September) will be happy to hear that this is Johnny’s story.  He’s my US Marine werewolf who can’t change back to human form.  That posed a very interesting writing challenge for me.  How do two people fall in love when one of them isn’t actually human?  I really enjoyed writing this story and am thrilled to have my first Asian-American hero.

This month I’m celebrating Christmas early with my holiday novella in the anthology collection WILD WEST CHRISTMAS. RT Book Review gave this collection four stars and said about WILD WEST CHRISTMAS:

A triple play of heartwarming holiday stories from authors who know all about the reality of the Wild West as well as the beauty, strength, love and pure joy of the holiday season. These lovely stories will have readers sighing with contentment.

I’ve got two more Western historical romances in the works, so check back for release dates.

Enjoy the fall!


Blue Skies, Busy Month

September 14th, 2014

2013-07-21 16.20.09aWow, have I been busy this month.

My September release, THE VAMPIRE’S WOLF, is out and getting good reviews.   And my next release is only two weeks away.  This is a Christmas novella in the Western Historical collection WILD WEST CHRISTMAS.  I’m very proud to be listed as the lead author on this collection.  That is a first for me.  As part of the preparation for this release, I created a book trailer.  It took me hours, though the trailer itself is only 38 seconds.  Anyway, it is listed on the books page along with the excerpt.  My story is called A FAMILY FOR THE RANCHER and there is an excerpt up on my books page at website.

I’m writing a first draft for a second Western Historical and have passed the 100 page mark, which is always a milestone for me.

In addition to all that writing business, I’m harvesting the last tomatoes from my garden and hope to be harvesting kale for some months to come.


Summer Fun

August 15th, 2014
Sporting my new hat at a summer wedding

Sporting my new hat at a summer wedding

The Summer opened with a beautiful, romantic summer wedding with a novel wedding cake (strawberry shortcake).  My own cake was also not traditional (chocolate with chocolate frosting) but equally delicious.





September Release, The Vampire's Wolf and The Resurrectionist by Sierra Woods

September Release, The Vampire’s Wolf and The Resurrectionist by Sierra Woods

 This month has also brought the arrival of my mass market paranormal romance, The Vampire’s Wolf, bundled with Sierra Woods’ Nocturne, The Resurrectionist.  Look for this two-for-one in September in bookstores!

As summer draws to an end, I wanted to sent my readers one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen.  I hope your summer was full of fun and fabulous reads.  Look for excerpts of my current and upcoming releases at my website: www.jennakernan.com

I love to watch the clouds at sunset.

I love to watch the clouds at sunset.


One Book – Three Covers (or Most Complicated Release Ever)

June 25th, 2014

Yup.  Three covers, two release dates and it’s the same book.   The July book is in ebook only unless you are a Harlequin Direct customer in which case you already have the paperback version.  This book is the first of a series.  The second in the series, THE SHIFTER’S CHOICE, releases in December 2014 and is Johnny’s story.

Here’s the cover for THE VAMPIRE’S WOLF which is a link to buy…

The Vampire's Wolf, July 2014, Jenna Kernan

The Vampire’s Wolf, July 2014

Nice right.  This one is 229 pages and cost $3.82

But wait.  It gets more confusing.  The book is also released on July 1 the Harlequin Nocturne July 2014 Bundle and includes The Vampire’s Wolf and The Resurrectionist by Sierra Woods [Kindle Edition].  That is what they call a bundle or a two for one, in ebook only.

Here’s the cover for the July Nocturne Bundle which is a link to buy… 

Nocturne Bundles are two stories in one.

Nocturne Bundles are two stories in one.


This one is 430 pages, two stories and cost $7.69

But wait….there’s more.  This bundle also release on August 19th in mass market paperback.  This one is hard to find.  Here is the ISBN# 9780373606740.  If you search on Amazon under books it will come up.

Here’s the cover for the paperback version of the July Bundle which is also a link to buy.

Jenna Kernan, The Vampire's Wolf, bundle cover july 2014

July 2014, Nocturne Bundle in paperback is available August 19th

This is 608 pages and cost $5.49

As I said a very, very complicated release.  Some things are worth the effort.  I sure hope my readers think that my latest story is, too.

So pick it up on July 1 in ebook or July 1 in bundle ebook or August 19th in stores or….Oh, nuts!


New Book Trailer for THE VAMPIRE’S WOLF

June 24th, 2014

I’m very happy to showcase this short book trailer for my July 1 release from Harlequin Nocturne.   I went with black and white for that dark and dangerous feel and think the images and the music really nailed it.  Let me know what you think and enjoy!!

 Just click on the link to see the trailer

The Vampire's Wolf, July 2015

The Vampire’s Wolf, July 2015






Win a pre-release copy of THE VAMPIRE’S WOLF on GoodReads!

June 2nd, 2014
The Vampire's Wolf, July 2014

The Vampire’s Wolf, July 2014

Congratulations to the three winners of last week’s contest.  Two winners were from the UK and one from Canada.  I had over 1000 entries.

This week’s contest is all USA and I have SIX copies to give away.

This is to win a copy of my latest Paranormal at GoodReads.  The contest ends on June 23.  This paranormal romance won’t be in stores until September 1.  This is a giveaway of the US edition usually available to Harlequin Direct customers only and I just have three (6) copies.

This will be my last contest until August….GOOD LUCK!!

Here’s the link to enter.

Just in case you don’t win, the eBook version is available July 1.

Available in eBook now:

AMAZON Kindle Version

BN Nook Version

Available in September in print:

Harlequin Bundle – BOTH The Vampire’s Wolf and The Resurrections – Available September 2014

Good luck and please share the link to this contest!

Thank you very much!


Cover Reveal!

May 24th, 2014
The Vampire's Wolf, July 2015

The Vampire’s Wolf, July 2015

I am so in love with this new cover.  My watchful couple, the tilted angle, the barbed wire and that huge moon!  They all relay the tension and drama of this story.  The book trailer is up on my website at www.jennakernan.com.  Just click on the cover image for this story and you’ll see the back cover, the book trailer and also a really neat Story Behind the Story, which includes some behind the scenes information on my research for this work.

This title is available for pre-order now!


Love Locks

May 15th, 2014

Redbuds in flower on Brooklyn side of the famous bridge.

I’ve been across the Brooklyn Bridge a time or two but noticed something new on this trip. “Love-Locks” have taken over many of the clip-worthy spots on the bridge. According to a quick web search, the tradition of fastening a padlock to a bridge began in Europe. These locks are usually a visible tribute to the endurance of a couples love and, when possible, the key is chucked into the river.


Do you think Monty still brings Pippi flowers?

There are now thousands of these little tokens all thoughtfully locked onto public property. They are fixed to the bridge like remora to a shark. I am certain the love of the couples will endure, but the locks….maybe not. I’m seeing work crews with bolt cutters in their future. Some of the locks are etched. Many have initials and dates scribbled on them with a black sharpie. Some are carefully etched. Some confused couples have inexplicably clipped their locks to a chain-link fence at the ferry pier.

Love locks fastened to every available cable.

Love locks fastened to every available cable.

I’m glad to know what these little curiosities are and why they are popping up like the onion grass in my yard. How many locks can those cables hold, do you think?


Where do all those coup feathers come from?

March 3rd, 2014

Not eagles, but osprey, a sea hawk nesting on a man-made platform.



I’m working on a Western historical and as I was researching the various types of coup feathers, I found an entry on the process of catching the eagles.  Eagles are too clever to be caught with a snare or a bow.  Their capture requires more craft.

The process is fascinating.  There is elaborate ritual for cleansing and sacred rituals preformed before the hunt.  Then there is preparation for the trap which is a pit dug with only a knife.  The dirt must be carried away or you tip off the eagle to your intentions.  The pit is only deep enough for one warrior to lie on his back.  This image makes me think of lying in one’s grave and seems an act of bravery already.  Once the pit is ready, an assistant helps arrange the clever concealment of logs, dirt, moss and grasses.  Then the bait is laid using a flayed rabbit or perhaps the neck of a buffalo.  The warrior then waits.  When the eagle lands, the hunter reaches up from beneath the bird and grabs both legs.  Then he pulls it into the pit where the bird’s neck is quickly twisted. 

Can you imagine grabbing a struggling eagle without running afoul of its powerful beak and.  They should give a coup feather just for catching the bird. 

So that answers my question.  But I wouldn’t try this as it is illegal to catch or kill any bird of prey unless you are a Native American.