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News! Events! Contests!

Jenn McKinlay's News #31

February 4, 2019


Book News: THE GOOD ONES, featuring the rescue of my very own kitten King George, and set in a bookstore in North Carolina comes out TOMORROW on Feb 5th. The book actually scored a starred review from Booklist, which both humbles and thrills me.


DYING FOR DEVIL'S FOOD, Mel, Angie, and Tate are headed to their fifteen-year high school reunion, comes out on May 7, 2019. I probably had a bit too much fun writing this one!


Events: I'll be signing with my friends Beth Kendrick and Jennifer Ashely at the Poisoned Pen on Feb 9th at 2:00 pm. Jennifer's signing Murder in St. Giles. Beth's signing In Dog We Trust, and I'll be signing The Good Ones. It's all about cats and dogs and murder for us!


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What's On My Mind?


Image Crafting. Recently, I sat with a group of friends and we were talking and laughing about life, or more accurately our perception of life. We are living in really weird times where you can literally share a picture of your cat every day (Hello, King George!), every meal, every haircut, and every misnamed cup of coffee at Starbucks to every person you've ever met and to many you haven't. Side note for the coffee cup: the name is Jenn not Jan, not Yen, not Jon, and not Jam. Jen with two n's if we're feeling fancy, but I digress.


During this conversation, one of my friends said that she had left social media. Oh, her account was still there but she was taking back the time she spent scrolling through pictures of acquaintance's amazeballs vacations to Aruba (or wherever) to spend face to face time in conversation with people she actually knows and cares about. We all agreed this was wise and smart and good because we were sharing wine and snacks and digging deeper into conversation about our husbands, kids, and lives than we normally could via text or social media.


Another friend said that she'd had a turning point in her life. It struck her one day, while scrolling through her feed that seeing the posts of people she knew decorating their mansions, getting that third PhD, or whatever, no longer bothered her. She had come to a place of peace in her life where she was happy with herself and her life and she could be happy for the person and not feel diminished that she wasn't living some helter-skelter jam packed life that society tells us we're supposed to want but really, do we? Not for nothing, but mansions and all that jazz, even if you have people, are a lot of freaking work.


Then there was the friend who admitted that she worked too much and mommed too much to really be active on social media. She said she caught the highlights but mostly she didn't have time. She did not seem terribly broken up about this.


Lastly, there was me. I am on social media – a lot. More than I would like to be, in fact, but (surprise!) when you're a writer this is the slimy, dark underbelly they don't tell you about – you actually have to promote your work and in this day and age, social media is it. [sigh]


There are so many things I love about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I work at home, so it's my water cooler when I need a break. I can always count on someone to have put up something that will make me laugh. Cat videos, anyone? I can also connect to other authors, which is fabulous. And I've reconnected with friends I absolutely would have lost touch with if it weren't for these platforms. I am grateful for that because, by and large, those people haven't changed a bit and I am delighted to have them back in my life.


But there's a skeevy side to all this oversharing, too, and this is where we circle back to what's on my mind – image crafting. There are some users of social media who are about as authentic as individually wrapped slices of cheese food. If you follow their timelines, you will be assured that their life is a glorious party full of beautiful people in exotic locations while they win awards for being both brilliant and gorgeous and blah, blah, blah. If you're on social media -- I am begging you -- don't believe the image crafting!


The writer in me actually loves people like this because I sit there and poke holes in their life (because that's what writers do). When someone's spouse waxes on and on about their deep and abiding love, I scour their page and usually discover they have a side piece they're not hiding very well. If the poster over brags about their brilliant kid, I'll check the kid's social media and find that they think it's hilarious to get drunk and light their own hair on fire (this was an adult child in law school, mind you). And when they put up pictures of their posh family vacation, I will see their teen's feed full of inappropriate pictures and whining about how bored they are. The truth is, if someone's life looks too perfect, yeah, it's usually a sham. All of which inspires plots for me, so thanks for that, but still.


The fact is we aren't authentic on social media. The "influencers" are crafting images that do not accurately portray the messy, complicated, confusing, scary, and, yes, sometimes stupid lives we all live. And I say this as someone who treads that fine line, daily, of wanting to be "real" but also wanting to maintain the Hub and Hooligan's privacy. Just because I'm out here pimping books, doesn't mean their lives are up for public consumption, too. In fact, I never post about any of them without their consent. Because it matters. And just because I try to post only happy positive stuff, well, that doesn't mean my life is always happy and positive. I have obnoxious teenagers, people! We argue all the time and frequently there is high drama. In fact, there was so much conflict at Christmastime that when I sent out our annual card, I almost wrote: "Lies, it's all lies! These four people can't stand each other right now!" LOL! I refrained. Barely.'s, quite frankly, exhausting!


So, when you're out there, being social, don't believe the hype and remember to step back and reflect that no one's life is as "on fleek" as they're pretending it is. And when it all gets too obnoxious, it's time to dive into a good book - like my new one out tomorrow! Just sayin'!


Also, off topic, today is my mom's birthday so...Happy Birthday, Best Mom EVER! Love you forever and ever and ever! XO


Happy Reading, Friends! 
XO, Jenn