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  • Writer's pictureS. Jennifer Paulson

What's the worst-case scenario? Well, anything, when it's a book.

Updated: Jan 15

For an eternal fraidy-cat, having constant what-if thoughts has blossomed into a list of ideas for fictional novels. And it starts with Boomerang, out March 19, 2024.


What a crazy couple of weeks. Anyone else feeling a little frazzled?


blonde woman bose headphones frazzled
Yep. I've got it all under control.

Besides the holidays, I took a quick trip to Missouri with the hubs to visit family, where we narrowly escaped getting stuck in Kansas City before a Monday morning snowstorm. In addition to some other projects I've been tinkering with, I wrapped up my second set of fixes to developmental edits last Friday on Boomerang.


FINALLY.


Boomerang, which will hit shelves on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, is now in the hands of my proofreader, as well as another person giving it a once-over for me.


Once I fix anything my eagle-eyed editor and test reader point out, it's time to get Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) into some hands.


And you, my blog readers, are first up.


My first ARCs will be offered to a few randomly chosen cover voters from this blog post. Those winners will hear from me shortly via email or social media.


Thank you so, so much to everyone who took part, as well as your words of encouragement. It warms my little black heart. Especially since Mr. Rabbit was a such a commercial disappointment. (If you missed reading my "first" book, see it here.)


But here's the thing. Based on some of your suggestions, I tweaked the cover. Actually, my fabulous editor over at Sky Diary Productions did.


And she nailed it.


I LOVE it. And I think you will, too. Same photo, slightly adjusted, as well as the graphics. I'll reveal it as soon as it's available for pre-order.


What the %$#@ is this worst-case scenario book about anyway?


I've been asked that several times. But I hesitate to reveal too much yet.


The best way to describe it is this: a worst case scenario, book-style. It's a domestic thriller exploring the dark side of what-ifs (which I think is what domestic thrillers pretty much are. The website shereads.com explains more about the genre here).


As in, "What's the worst that could happen?" To anyone.


That's how I think. Maybe it's the warnings during my childhood to be careful I remember my mom telling me a story about some kid who had a chunk of their nose clipped off by a door jamb. (Yet, that didn't stop me from slamming my finger in a door or resisting the curiosity of what might happen if I hung on to the garage door as it opened — of course, this was before safety mechanisms). I grew up in the Chicago burbs in the era that serial "Killer Clown" John Wayne Gacy committed his crimes; I recall staying up to watch the coverage of when he was put to death in 1994. I was obsessed with Stephen King, reading all 1,138 pages of It when I was in eighth grade. (Followed by Misery, Cujo, Gerald's Game and more.)


I was hooked on stories of messed-up people. And why their minds work the way they do. What drives seemingly ordinary people to do horrible things? I even took some criminology courses in college, I was so fascinated. I considered it as a minor for a bit.


Maybe it's from nearly two decades in journalism, reporting and reading stories on all kinds of crazy and sometimes horrific things. The last execution in Illinois. Neighbors gone nuts with machetes and such. A shooting at a mall. Serial killers. Knowing someone who went missing from a cruise ship, never to be seen again.


I saw this in an office the other day. I think this was written for me:


worst case scenario survival book
Yes, I specialize in worst-case scenarios

You get the picture. I live in a world of what-ifs and they're always twisted. (Maybe due to my addiction to domestic thrillers.) Such as:


worst case scenario handbook
I live in Florida. I might have to fend off a shark.

What if I found a dead body buried in my backyard?


What if someone mailed me a pig's heart with a note that I was next?


A lot of these come to me at night, as I'm struggling to drift into sleep. I have a notebook next to my bed, where I scribble these ideas down so I won't forget them. Perhaps they're the beginnings of a book. Or a specific scene in a story. I haven't decided yet. But I bet I have another eight book ideas to explore, once this one is officially out.


Just last night, a bathroom mishap got the wheels churning. I was getting ready for bed, doing my nightly skincare ritual, when I dropped the top of my Musely neck cream down our already broken sink where it got lodged. I tried to get it out, to no avail, with a steak-like knife. (I know, smart move.) It didn't work. So I left it like this:


2000 sink shell sink towel knife bathroom mess
Inspiration for a book scene? Possibly. Or just a 2000-era mess of a sink that has simply given up.

But then I had this thought when I woke up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night: What if someone broke in and used that knife as a weapon on me and my husband as we slept (well, not that crappy knife)? Or, think of it instead, from the viewpoint of a random couple. Where someone plotted this setup on purpose .... and the beginnings of a possible story idea began to brew.


Of course, with a better knife.


That's kind of how Boomerang was born. It came to me like this:


What if you married the absolute love of your life, finally getting your happily-ever-after?

But then, your ultimate fear happens he's tragically killed. Can't get worse, right?


In this world, it sure can. When you find out your late husband wasn't the man you thought he was.



That's how my brain works. And that's how I'll leave it for now.


I can't wait to share more soon. Stay tuned!




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Welcome
to my blog

Hi, readers! I’m S. Jennifer Paulson, a former journalist who has been pecking away at my debut novel for years. You know, in between work, helping my husband with his business, grad school and being a wife and mom. So, I’ll be sharing about the writing journey, as well as musings on everyday life — and the things going on around us — from the world of books to beyond. So grab a cup of coffee and join me on my journey to publishing my first book. It’s gonna be an interesting ride.

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