March 28th

Cheyenne Animal Shelter

With Special Guest Dooley, Suze’s Dog from How to Kiss a Cowboy

It’s official – I’m doing a book signing this Saturday, March 28th, at the Cheyenne Animal Shelter, 800 Southwest Drive, Cheyenne.

I know that’s short notice, but I hope you can come.

For one thing, all profits on books sold will go to the animal shelter. All profits. As the owner of two rescue dogs and a rescue cat, this means a lot to me and I’m really hoping to make this a worthwhile event for them.

The Cheyenne Animal Shelter

The Cheyenne Animal Shelter

Also, this will be my first signing in Cheyenne since 2012, and I can’t wait to see my old friends and new readers in person.

Most important of all, Holly Hansen and her dog Dooley, who “played” Suze’s dog in How to Kiss a Cowboy, will be there. Dooley is helping me promote an auction item that’s up for grabs at this year’s Fur Ball.

At the Fur Ball, our Animal Shelter’s annual fundraising banquet, I’m selling the right to have your pet featured in one of my books as a character. I won’t simply use your pet’s name; I’ll use your pet’s appearance and personality quirks to make him an actual character in the book. In this case, he’ll be the hero’s dog in an upcoming book tentatively titled How to Hold a Cowboy, which will be released in 2016.

Imagine thousands of readers across the country being entertained by the antics of your special pet! It’s a great way to immortalize your current pet or memorialize a much-loved pet who’s passed. All you have to do is give me photos of the pet (or schedule a getting-to-know-you session!) and tell me about him or her.

Dooley and Holly on the night of his adoption - Fur Ball 2012

Dooley and Holly on the night of his adoption – Fur Ball 2012

Holly and Dooley won this auction item in 2013, and if you’ve read How to Kiss a Cowboy, you know Dooley appears throughout, snuggling up to the cowboy hero in one scene and chewing up his hat in another.

The Fur Ball is the party of the year here in Cheyenne. Not only is there a terrific silent auction, featuring quality items donated by local businesses; there’s also a live auction for extra-special items like golf vacations, beach house rentals, and even puppies.

(Yes, they have puppies! And wine. A very dangerous combination.Tickets can be purchased at www.cheyennefurball.org. )

Here’s a mock-up of the ad we’re putting in the program: Ad with Dooley

The first two books in the Cowboys of Decker Ranch series, How to Handle a Cowboy and How to Kiss a Cowboy, will be available at the signing. These books and their success mean a lot to me, because I wrote them at a major turning point in my life.

When I was about a quarter of the way through the first draft of How to Handle a Cowboy, I won the Breast Cancer Trifecta. I needed the works — surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. I was afraid my writing career would come to a screeching, grinding halt.

Instead, writing proved a blessing throughout my treatment. Stepping out of the hospital and into my Western world of cowboys, ranching, and rodeo kept me sane, and offered a welcome escape from the world of hospitals, doctors, and  chemo infusions.

Not that it was easy! I recovered fairly quickly from surgery, but chemo really slowed me down. The toxic chemicals that were killing my cancer cells were also killing my memory, and I had a hard time calling up words of more than a couple syllables.

I really thought my writing career might be over, but my oncologist assured me the words would come back, so I kept going, writing on faith, putting an “xxx” for the words I couldn’t remember.

Sure enough, the words came back. By the time I finished writing the first draft, I was able to go through the manuscript and replace all those “xxx’s” easily. It was a huge relief to have such a solid sign that everything was going to be okay.

HT_Handle_a_Cowboy_-_CoverI barely remember writing most of How to Handle a Cowboy, but it’s become one of my favorites out of all my books. Booklist named it one of their Top Ten Romance Novels of  2014, putting me in the company of writers I admire tremendously, including Eloisa James and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

My current book, How to Kiss a Cowboy, is the second book in the series. Although I’m now cancer-free, I’m still struggling with some leftover side effects from chemo, so it was also a challenge to write. I was relieved when Publisher’s Weekly gave it a very kind review, saying, “Kennedy imbues the setting with intense realism, and readers will love her intensely complex characters and depictions of deep emotion.”

Although cancer ordeal definitely slowed me down, I think the reminder of myHow_to_Kiss_a_Cowboy-300 final  own mortality affected my writing in a positive way. My emotional scenes dig a little deeper now, and my imagery is sharper. I feel a more compelling  need to communicate with readers, and I’ve learned a lot about what really matters in this life. I write about those things – love, family, and relationships, as well as the beauty of the West’s wild places and open spaces.

There. Now I’ve told that story, and on Saturday we can talk about other things–books, and dogs, and the weather, and dogs, and cats, and dogs.

Here’s a summary:

Event: An Animal Shelter Book Signing

Special Guest: Dooley the Dog from How to Kiss a Cowboy

Date: Saturday, March 28th

Time:  2:00-5:00 P.M.

Location: Cheyenne Animal Shelter, 800 Southwest Drive, Cheyenne (map)

Books available: How to Handle a Cowboy and How to Kiss a Cowboy