Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

Six Ways Authors Use Pinterest

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

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I have started a lot of Pinterest boards including one for my July 1 Western Historical from Harlequin, RUNNING WOLF.  I find Pinterest relaxing, inspiring and fun and thought I would share with you six of the ways I use Pinterest boards in my writing.

  1. Book Specific Board: RUNNING WOLF

Jenna Kernan's Pinterest board for RUNNING WOLF

I used this Pinterest board to find historical shots to help with descriptions and modern photos to make the characters seem more real. Here is a bit about my July 1 release, RUNNING WOLF:

From the moment Snow Raven came charging in to my first scene on her white horse, I have been in love with this character. My heroine is the daughter of a Crow chief and is bright, stoic and brave, even after being captured by her enemies.   At first she wants only to survive until she is rescued. But when faced with the needs of her fellow captives, she grows into a warrior, forgoing her own happiness to win their freedom.

My hero, Running Wolf, is the War Chief of his Sioux tribe and an enemy to the Crow people. Running Wolf is at first intrigued, then confounded and later fascinated by the captive, Snow Raven. They both resist a love that will cost them all. He must lead his people and protect them from their enemies, while she must try to bring her people home.

  1. Series Specific Boards: THE TRACKERS series from Harlequin Nocturne.

Jenna Kernan's Pinterest board for THE TRACKER series


This board was far more creepy and atmospheric. I tried to create a mood or otherworldly creatures linked to Native American myth and legend. My characters in this series include Skinwalkers who shift from human form to bears, buffalo, wolves and even ravens. But other supernatural spirits make appearances including Thunderbirds, Thunder Horses, The Whirlwinds, ghosts, the guardian who evaluates your soul after you die and the ruler of the Circle of Ghosts.

  1. Connecting with Readers: My Keeper Shelf

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Readers who want to know what I’m currently reading can always visit my GoodReads page and follow me there. I often run first-reads giveaways there and had two this month. But if you want to see what’s on my personal keeper shelf, you can find out on My Keeper Shelf board.

  1. Genre Specific Board: Western Christmas

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I’ve written a lot of Christmas novellas for Harlequin Historical including my latest in the anthology collection Wild West Christmas and so I began pinning images of winter scenes including Christmas pictures with Western flare. This board remains one of my fan favorites.

  1. Promotion: My Book Covers

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Of course, I want readers to be able to share my beautiful book covers. This board also includes first looks at covers and some of my unboxing, when my author copies arrive! Boy, to I love to see these pins repinned!

  1. Laughs and Giggles: Odds and Ends board

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Sometimes you just need a laugh. That’s why I created this board. Here I’ve collected things that make me laugh, smile or book-related items that I love. My newest favorite is the sign in a library parking lot that reads, “Library Parking Only. Violators will be held in low esteem.”

  1. Secret Boards

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Shhh! This board is secret, a collection for my own use while I am writing my newest series, my first romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue. I’m giving readers a peek of the images of Apache people I’m pinning for APACHE PROTECTORS. This board is not viewable to my fans yet, but it will be soon.

Here is a tiny, tiny, teaser for book one, SHADOW WOLF (December 2015)

She aids illegals and he apprehends them but when this humanitarian pacifist witnesses a cartel killing in the Sonora Dessert, she becomes this Apache lawman’s only witness.

So, there are seven ways I use Pinterest. I hope you’ll follow one of my boards. Here are some other ways to connect with me.

If you would like more details on my stories, be sure to visit my EXTRAS page

My newsletter at has news and subscriber-only giveaways. The next newsletter is on June 30th.

For extra insider information visit my Facebook page (JENNA KERNAN) or follow me on twitter @jennakernan.

 ***This blog first appeared on Pink Hearts Blog June 27, 2015***




Unclutter Your Workspace 1-2-3

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
Before, my desk is buried.

Before, my desk is buried.

After.  Look...a work space!

After. Look…a work space!

I love a clean welcoming workspace as much as the next gal. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I’m busy and so my desk is often a dumping ground for everything paper and a very odd assortment of miscellaneous stuff. I admit this never happens all at once but one random object at a time. This latest hoe-out included ear buds, a contract revision and some work related Christmas gifts.  Here is the thing, if my space is cluttered, I’m not happy because energy, creative or otherwise, is not flowing.

But I’ve got deadlines to meet, books to complete and words to write before I sleep. Still, I can’t stand it anymore. So here are three tips I use to unclutter and boost creative energy.

Get It Clean

  1. Set a Timer. This comes from my friend Liz Matis. Give yourself a time limit to motivate you to keep moving and prevent you from using the cleaning as an excuse to keep from writing. That way you won’t feel like you have a clean space but a zero word count.
  2. Begin with Trash. What can you throw out? If you don’t want or need it, get rid of it.
  3. Put it Away. Put it where it belongs or make a place for it.

Keep It Clean

  1. Handle Paper Only Once. Open the mail over the garbage. Chuck it if you can. File it if you can’t. Pay it if you must.
  2. Don’t Put That There. Clean spaces are so attractive and that is why they draw whatever crap you have in your hands. You must resist energy pull of a clean surface. That space is for working, not storage. So take the 30 extra seconds required to put it away where it belongs!
  3. Reset. Enjoy your workspace but remember that everything has a place. So put it there when you are done with it.

Good luck with your own desk decluttering. I hope the process proves rewarding and an energy booster to your creative endeavors.

Ditching the New Year’s Resolutions

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

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In the past few years I have grown weary of New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps that is because they so often focus on what I lack or what I am not.  No matter what I do or don’t do there will always be someone younger, richer and better looking. Dissatisfaction can make one unhappy, but, that said, I am also mindful of complacency. You know, Newtons’ Law about a body at rest…

So if no resolutions, then what?

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I prefer goals. But the goals I used to set tended to more like a ‘to do’ list to be checked off one by one. My list looked like this:

  1. Submit two historical proposals
  2. Write one blog post a week
  3. Speaking at the National conference
  4. Sign at Book Expo America
  5. Learn to use Instragram (still haven’t managed that one yet)More recently,

I have simplified my goals and in so doing opened up a world of possibilities. This broadening of goals allows a certain amount of room for the unexpected while still keeping me focused.

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Here’s my Goals from 2014:

  • Create
  • Connect
  • Explore

My writing fit well under Create but so did the jewelry I made in a beading class I took and the baby quilt. As for the unexpected, I could not have guessed that my Connect goal would lead from a cup of coffee with a colleague at a conference to organizing a three-day writers retreat. But it did. Explore could include my online course work, but also the unexpected opportunity to mine fossilized seashells.So this year I’m keeping it broad and open again.

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Here’s my 2015 Goals

  • Play
  • Simplify
  • Create

I’m thinking the play goal can include experimentation in my writing as well as exercise and travel. Simplify can mean anything from weeding out that upstairs closet to reducing my sugar intake to limiting my commitments. Create will include my writing, of course. But what else, I wonder? I keep these goals in a picture frame on my desk. I check often to see if I’m including them in my world. And I’m much happier since I broadened my goals.

So… Are you ready to ditch the resolutions?

10 Tips for Writers

Tuesday, 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, 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!

Love Locks

Thursday, 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?