Jenny taught pre-school until her daughter, Mollie, was born. When she returned to work, she taught in the Beavercreek public school system for ten years as an elementary and junior high art teacher while earning a master’s degree from Wright State University in Professional Writing and Women’s Literature; her master’s thesis was titled A Spirit More Capable of Looking Up To Him: Women’s Roles in Mystery Fiction 1841-1920.
She took a leave of absence from Beavercreek in 1986 to complete her Ph.D. coursework at Ohio State University in feminist criticism and nineteenth century British and American literature. She returned to teach high school English (American and British literature surveys, mythology, the Bible in literature, and college composition) for another five years, and during this time she also directed theater tech crews (sets and costumes) for the Beavercreek Drama Department.
In the summer of 1991, she began to research her dissertation on the impact of gender on narrative strategies, searching out the differences in the way men and women tell stories. As part of the research, she planned to read one hundred romance novels and one hundred men’s adventure novels. The romance novels turned out to be so feminist and so absorbing, that she never got to the men’s adventure fiction and decided to try writing fiction instead, quitting her job the following spring to devote herself full time to writing and to finishing the Ph.D., one of her riskier moves since she didn’t sell her first book until August ’92.
The sale was to Silhouette, a novella titled Sizzle, that Jenny now refers to as “really lousy.” Silhouette delayed its publication so that it became the second book published under the Crusie pseudonym, Jenny’s maternal grandmother’s family name. Although Silhouette rejected Jenny’s next novel, Harlequin accepted it and published it in 1993 as Manhunting in their Temptation line. Five more Harlequins followed, including Getting Rid of Bradley which won the RWA Rita Award for Best Short Contemporary, Strange Bedpersons, What the Lady Wants, Charlie All Night, and Anyone But You. She also wrote two category novels for Bantam’s Loveswept line, The Cinderella Deal and Trust Me On This. During this time she put the PhD on hold to earn an MFA in fiction from OSU; her thesis was titled, Just Wanted You To Know, and consisted of several short stories and the proposal for a mainstream novel titled Crazy For You. A revision of this thesis was published in e-book form called Crazy People. During this time she also wrote a book of literary criticism on Anne Rice, published under the name Jennifer Smith.
In the fall of 1995, Jenny began to write single title novels for St. Martin’s Press where she was delighted to be working with her editor, Jennifer Enderlin, her agent Jodi Reamer of Writers House, and her daughter/business partner, Mollie Smith.
As the twenty-first century rolled around, Jenny began to experiment with collaborations beginning with Don’t Look Down, a romantic adventure novel written with Bob Mayer that put into practice everything she’d studied about the differences in the way men and women write fiction in that long ago (still unfinished) PhD dissertation. She went on to do two more collaborative romantic adventure novels with Bob–Agnes and the Hitman and Wild Ride–and collaborative paranormal novels with Eileen Dreyer and Anne Stuart–The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes–and with Anne Stuart and Lani Diane Rich–Dogs and Goddesses. In 2010, she returned to solo writing with Maybe This Time, her homage to The Turn of the Screw.
For the next ten years, Jenny continued to write but had problems finishing the ten projects she was working on. In 2022, she turned to Bob Mayer and said, “For the love of God, get me to the end of a book.” From March to October of that year, they powered through not only Lavender’s Blue but also Rest in Pink and One in Vermillion. They are currently trying to recover from that insane pace but are already talking about a new series. Jenny is also currently working on revising a solo novel, The Devil in Nita Dodd. For current info on this and her other works in progress, check out her blog, Argh Ink, where it is evident that progress is being made.
More About Info
Sequels, adaptations, inspiration and pets… see if your question has already been asked by a fellow reader in the Reader FAQs.
Take a look at the most common questions asked by writers and get a peek of Jenny’s writing advice before taking a deep dive into Jenny’s essays on writing and publishing in the Writer FAQs.
Get a good look at everything that Jenny has ever published listed out in one place on the Bibliography page.