Shaggy Dog Productions, LLC’s most prolific author, Kelly Jensen, has a new novella already lauded by her fans as a lighthearted, entertaining read. Let’s hear a little about the book from the author herself—and don’t miss the excerpt that follows!
I originally wrote Let’s Connect as a serial for my newsletter subscribers, posting a chapter a week about the dating adventures of a sad and lonely, recently divorced fifty-year-old. I thought the story would be fun, and it was. Some of Dan’s dates are truly awful—in a totally fun way. But when Dan began to actually connect with someone, the story deepened into an examination of not only what Dan wanted, but what he’d be leaving behind.
I’ve learned not to plot too heartily toward the end of my stories because the end so often changes. In this instance, I embraced the direction my characters led me to, even though it meant I now have to write a sequel—which will also be delivered as a serial to my newsletter subscribers. Interested? Sign up here and then keep reading for an excerpt!
About the Book
A year after his divorce, Daniel Stroman has decided that he’s too young to die—or fuse permanently with his couch. But when he downloads the dating app “Let’s Connect” and starts dating, his success/fail ratio isn’t encouraging until he gets a connection request from Robin.
Everything about Robin’s profile is different, from the bright little bird he’s using as an avatar to the long and thoughtful answers he’s written for the standard questions. He’s witty, funny, and easy to talk to. Robin could be his perfect match. But Robin is holding something back.
Then again, so is Dan—beginning with the seven-year crush he’s carried for his best friend, Trevor. Sadly, except for one brief moment, they’ve never been single at the same time.
Or have they?
Coffee dates were like middle children. They sounded innocuous. What could happen in a coffee shop? But they could be devious. What couldn’t happen in a coffee shop?
Standing outside the men’s bathroom, shaking coffee from his hand, Dan stared mournfully at his shirt sleeve, sure the stain would never come out. He also harbored some trepidation regarding the current occupant of the bathroom. Was it his date? Would they emerge on a cloud of ill-scented air? This was his fate, wasn’t it? Dates met in bathrooms, outside of bathrooms, going into bathrooms. A fast-forward to what his life with this particular person might be.
Oh, God. Why?
The door opened and a teenager sauntered out, not meeting Dan’s eyes.
Dan grabbed the door before it closed—the code for the lock had melted with his receipt—and hurriedly shut himself inside. He washed his hands, splashed water over his sleeve, and avoided the mirror. Nothing good ever came from looking in the mirror. Besides, he hadn’t had time to get changed, so it was bookshop chic or nothing.
Hands washed, shirt sleeve damp and still stained, he left the bathroom and hurried back to the table in the far corner where he’d left his traitorous cup. An elderly couple sat there. With his cup. It remained center stage, their short and tall cups flanking it.
Was he supposed to take it?
They were, like, at least eighty. You couldn’t ask eighty-year-olds to get up and go. You were supposed to give them your table.
Closing his eyes and counting to ten in the middle of a crowded coffee shop would not be a good look. Counting under his breath instead, willing his temper not to tear and fray, Dan reached between them to retrieve his cup.
“Excuse me. Sorry. I left this here.”
The male half of the couple looked up at him with watery eyes. “Did we take your table?”
“No! No. It’s all good.” Dan raised his cup in a short salute. “Have a nice day.”
A throat cleared behind him. Dan turned. A young woman with more facial piercings than should be healthy stood there holding a cardboard cup of her own.
“Are you Strom?”
“I’m supposed to give this to you.” The silver ball on her tongue mesmerized him. “He said he had to go, but felt bad, so here’s a coffee.” She thrust the cup forward. “Something like that. I mean, it’s not like he had me repeat it or anything. Or paid me.” Her eyes narrowed with the effect of aiming the dagger points of her eyebrow piercings at him. “He said—”
Dan snatched the cup. Unfortunately, the speed with which he did the snatching, combined with the pressure of his grip, popped the plastic top off. Hot coffee splashed over his hand and up on his shirt sleeve. Again.
The young woman backed up a step. The older couple at the table leaned toward the wall. Every other head in the café turned in Dan’s direction and the needle-sharp feeling of too many eyes stabbed at his skin.
Fuck my life.
Coffee cup in either hand and clenching his teeth together hard enough to grind his molars into dust, Dan swept out of the store. The other lid abandoned him somewhere along the way. By the time he got to his car, both of his hands were covered in coffee, creamer, sugar, and something that felt a lot like self-pity. Dan tried snarling at the parking meter, but couldn’t pull it off. He wanted to go. He set the cups down on the curb, determined not to take them with him, and straightened. What was that on his windshield? A parking ticket? What? He’d…
The meter stood in defiance to his second snarl, blinking merrily away. Empty. The meter next door? Oh, that one was full. Dan felt like spitting at the car in front of it.
Enjoy your free parking, asshole!
It was an older model car, boatlike with its wide hood and pointy rear light fixtures. Probably belonged to the older couple who’d taken his table.
Dan ripped the ticket out from beneath the wiper, stuffed it into his pocket, and got into his car. He almost screamed at a tap on the window. It was a traffic cop. In her hands were his two abandoned coffee cups.
“You forgot these!”
About the Author
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of 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 twelve novels–including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke–and several novellas and short stories. 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.
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