Howdy, Delighted Readers!
We have a special guest today and she’s an author we’ve not had visit before. She is a veteran writer with several books and a few series under her belt. I’ve seen the reviews reveling in her other books and have a few marked for future reads.
You know how we love discovering ‘new to me’ authors and their books so I am thrilled to introduce, Kelly Jensen, and she’s stopping by in honor of her latest release in the This Time Forever series, Renewing Forever.
How has Fall been treating you? Did you do anything fun- you know like rake leaves or clean out your gutters?
I usually love fall—the cooler mornings, sunny afternoons, and the smell of mulching leaves. This year, we’ve had rain, rain, and a little more rain, though, in between hot afternoons and a lot of humidity. It’s weird and feels all wrong. I’m not sure if it’s time to pick apples or just run for cover!
I do some raking, but not until late November or so. Between now and then, I actually mow my leaves. I have a lot of lawn—it takes me about two and a half hours to mow it all—and my mower is of the mulching variety and does a really nice job of breaking down the leaves. What I do have to rake a lot of are seed pods and small twigs.
We’re not going to talk about my gutters. They’re too high up, too numerous, and totally clogged.
Incidentally, house buying/renting tip for all you kids out there. Don’t get a home on the opposite side of the street from the direction the wind comes or you will be raking your across the street neighbor’s leaves along with your own.
Thankfully, I’ve never had that happen! We live in a thickly forested area and all the houses in my neighborhood sit on one to two acres, so we all have a LOT of trees. And lots of leaves. But because our yards are so big, we rarely have to deal with each other’s leaves. The wind sort of pushes them into the trees first. 😉
Anyhoo… so Kelly, let’s get to one of the most important questions in the interview. If you bought Halloween candy at the after Halloween sales, which kind was it? And, while we’re on the subject of food, what’s your favorite Harvest season food?
Anything Reese’s for my husband. He’s a peanut butter fiend. Last year, a friend who works for Hershey brought us a box of peanut butter pumpkins. There were about 120 packaged pumpkins in there. It took us three months to eat them, and even then, I gave a lot away!
For me, anything gummy and sour.
On the subject of harvest seasonal food, I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice anything, really, except in pie and bread. I make a pumpkin cranberry loaf that is out of this world! And my husband makes the best apple pies. <3
Alright, I suppose I should get to the cool stuff. Please tell us a bit about the This Time Forever Series and how you came up with the idea. I love that your guys are a little older.
One of my first published novellas—Out in the Blue—is about a guy who just had his forty-fifth birthday. His present to himself was a pretty major panic attack. Realizing he needed to make some changes in his life, he books a hiking trip where he meets a slightly younger man who helps give him a new perspective on what middle age could be. I adored writing someone from my own generation. There was an effortlessness to it when it came to using age-appropriate language and humor—and I knew exactly what Jared’s knees were going to feel like after a day on the Appalachian Trail.
So I knew when I started writing Building Forever that I wanted to continue to explore the lives and loves of older characters. These guys are squarely in my comfort-zone—age-wise, and culturally. I’ve lived in or near these towns, I grew up with the same influences, I’ve dabbled with these professions, and the friends and families of my characters are a composite of my own network of fabulous people.
Aside from the comfort factor, though, I feel like the forties and fifties are an underappreciated group when it comes to romance! First love is an amazing thing and I adore writing it, but there’s something special about second chances. About writing a love story for someone who thinks they’ve already had and/or lost their chance at a happy ever after—and that, right there, is the idea behind this series.
There’s a quote in every book that sums up this idea, but none perhaps better than this one from Chasing Forever (book three):
“This is us. Now. You and me at forty-eight and fifty. Neither of us is who we were at fourteen or nineteen or even two years ago.”
Love is different when you’re older. We have so much more life experience! I love the way that can either complicate or ease a new relationship—the steps that can be skipped, and the conversations that don’t have to be had. And yet there’s still so much to talk about, and if my characters all like to do one thing, it’s talk.
Does a reader need to pick them up in order?
Not really. I wrote the books as standalone romances. Each has its own complete story arc and none of the books depend upon another. That being said, though, I feel like reading from the beginning would be the most rewarding way to approach the series—as is usually the case with linked romances. Simply put, you’ll get more background on each character and more continuation of their story if you start at the beginning!
Your latest, Renewing Forever, features a pair, Frankie and Tommy, who have a distant history before their reunion. Was this easier or harder for you to write?
Hmm—emotionally this one was a little more taxing (meaning many tissues were sacrificed in the writing of this novel). There is so much longing on the page. More than I usually write. Their childhood friendship was so special! I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d be able to bring these two back together. There was a lot of hurt to get over, and a lot of questions to answer, and with Tom being emotionally obscure and Frank almost genetically programmed to respect that, it felt like they’d never be able to talk it out.
I think in all, thought, Renewing Forever has one of the most satisfying happy ever afters I’ve ever written and delivered. I truly feel as though nothing could ever come between these two now. Nothing.
Can you share a little extra background detail about both or either of Frankie and Tommy that didn’t make it in Renewing Forever?
Interestingly, my outline for this book did not include any visits to their childhood friendship! But when I got to the end of chapter two and Tommy started thinking back, it felt so natural to skip back thirty years and show how the boys met. There are only four scenes from their past and each one is sort of pivotal: the day they met, the day their friendship became a partnership (with them making plans for the future), the “I like boys” talk, and their first kiss.
What I enjoyed about writing these chapters was adding in details that would normally sit only in my character notes: childhood instances and influences, and some fun stories. I don’t know that I’ve had had the opportunity to explore Tom’s parentage (or the question of it) without these scenes, and it’s such an important facet of his character—the fact he never met his father. And Frank’s shyness is something of a secret that only Tom knows, because Frank has always had an interesting way of dealing with it: by being a journalist he has found a way to always remain one step removed from any conversation.
But you asked for extra background detail! Tom doesn’t know that he looks exactly like his father. He’s named for him, too. Frank’s idol never gets mentioned in the book, either. It’s Anderson Cooper. He once had dreams of being more of a television journalist—but ultimately is more satisfied with being outside, or just beside, the spotlight.
Oh, and the covers are lovely with the big old house theme for the series. Do you have influence in your covers?
Thank you! I have been so very lucky with my covers over the course of my publishing career. I have loved almost every single one, and even when the designer has interpreted my brief in a way I didn’t expect, they’ve managed to capture the essence of my book!
I think a good cover not only invites the reader inside, but somehow completes the experience of a good book, don’t you?
Natasha Snow designed the covers for this series and she did a beautiful job. My notes for this series were a little vague as I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted on the covers. I thought buildings would be good, because each of the stories features a house or building that’s special—that’s central to the plot in some way. But I wasn’t sure if putting houses on the covers would feel romantic enough! So I was thrilled with Natasha’s interpretation of my four or so pages of “the houses are important and so are the seasons and I’m not sure what I want, but I need these coves to be really pretty because these romances are super sweet.”
I think she nailed it.
As an aside, although I love the gorgeous house on the cover of Renewing Forever and I think it matches the feel of Bossen Hill Family Resort very well, it’s not architecturally correct. It should have a sloped, colonial Dutch style roof (similar to another resort in this area). But finding the exact stock photos can be a challenge and I really felt that the building she chose suited the feel of Frank’s family resort in every way but the exact style.
Do you have a specific writer who, knowingly or not, influenced you to want to write or how you write?
I have a lot of favorite authors, and as I read or listen to their books, I often mentally take notes on how they use a particular word or a character type I’d like to explore. A situation or a trope. I don’t know that I’m directly influenced by any, though. Not knowingly?
Two authors in the romance genre that I really admire are Annabeth Albert and Sarina Bowen. Both of them write really satisfying love stories that include more than boy meets boy (or girl). Their characters take personal journeys and it’s usually through their partnership with the other lead that they find a way to grow, or tackle the next step in their lives. Both authors also like to surround their lead characters with family and good friends. I love to do that too.
When it comes to my science fiction titles, I’m more influenced by the old school writers when it comes to plot—I like to keep it short, sweet, and uncomplicated. I think Arthur C. Clarke does a wonderful job of this. He tackles big ideas and big science, but manages to deliver both in a way that’s very readable.
I also love precursor theories and although I don’t always include references to superior species in my books, they’re always there—in the back of my mind, anyway.
Now, you mentioned aliens in your biography and you already wrote sci-fi romance (which I totally need to get busy and read as I love that genre), but, are there any other genres or fun elements that you want to give a try?
Yes! I have written a single paranormal book—Best in Show—and really want to continue that series when I have time. I loved writing a kitty cat shifter and including magic in my story. It was a new direction for me. I’d also like to write something historical at some point. I’m a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell’s English archer stories (he has so many) and can see so much potential for romantic adventures infused with myth and legend.
I’d also love to try writing a proper mystery/thriller and actually have notes for one that I’m pretty excited about.
I have ideas for two books that would probably be most properly classified as women’s fiction.
And I have lots and lots of post-apocalyptic fiction ideas—which, as you probably gathered from my biography, is a favorite genre of mine.
What’s next from the pen of Kelly Jensen?
Chasing Forever, the third novel in this series (This Time Forever) is due to be released in December. I’m pretty excited about this one as redeeming Brian—the cheating ex of a character in the first book—was a challenge. One I think I met!
Next year, I hope to release Purple Haze, the second book in my contemporary science fiction series, Aliens in New York. I’m looking at March for that one.
Writing-wise, I’m about to start writing the first in what I hope will be a space opera series. There will be a little more adventure and a little less romance in this one—though there will be some relationship development, because I love it when my characters find that special someone. The first book will include a stranded archeologist and two fugitive clones. And black holes. And an ancient evil. I’m looking forward to fleshing this world out as I write the first book!
Thank you so much for dropping by today, Kelly! It was a pleasure meeting you and learning a little about you. Congratulations on Renewing Forever!
Thank you so much for having me here! I enjoyed chatting with you about my current and future projects. <3
Renewing Forever is the second of a series of standalone novels focused on older characters who think love has passed them by. Frank and Tom’s story is a true second chance romance, reuniting childhood friends and first loves separated by an argument and thirty years of misunderstanding. I hope you enjoy reading about their renewed friendship and their plans for forever.
About Renewing Forever
A neglected resort, a lost chance at love, and one last chance to renew forever.
Frankie and Tommy once dreamed of traveling the world together. But when seventeen-year-old Frank kissed Tom, their plans ended with a punch to the jaw and Frank leaving town without looking back. Thirty years later, Frank’s successful career as a journalist is interrupted by his uncle’s death and the question of his inheritance—the family resort where his childhood dreams were built. When he returns to the Pocono Mountains, however, he finds a dilapidated lodge and Tommy, the boy he never forgot.
Tom’s been keeping the resort together with spit and glue while caring for Frank’s uncle, Robert—a man he considered father, mentor, and friend—and his aged mother, who he refuses to leave behind. Now Robert is gone, taking Tom’s job with him. And Frank is on the doorstep, wanting to know why Tom is still there and why the old lodge is falling apart.
But before they can rebuild the resort, they’ll have to rebuild their friendship. Only then can they renew the forever they planned all those years ago.
About the This Time Forever Series
Small towns and second chances.
Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.
This time it’s forever.
This series includes:
- Building Forever — releasing October 15, available now!
- Renewing Forever — releasing November 12, available for preorder!
- Chasing Forever — releasing December 10, available soon!
About Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Connect with Kelly:
- Website: com
- Facebook: facebook.com/kellyjensenwrites/
- Twitter: com/kmkjensen
- Tumblr: tumblr.com/
- Pinterest: pinterest.com/kmkjensen/
- Instagram: instagram.com/kellyjensenwrites/
To celebrate the release of Renewing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 17, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
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