McGinnis: Toledoan cooks up ‘Chicken Soup’Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For years, Jill Kemerer has written stories, hoping to bring a little more light into the world. In addition to being a full-time mom, the Toledo resident has worked as a self-described “inspirational romance novelist.”
“I write Christian romance novels. I’m not published yet,” Kemerer said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. “I’ve been writing full-time for about six years now. I just really enjoy it, and am hoping to break in.”
Now, after years of work honing her skills, Kemerer’s writing will soon be in front of more readers than ever before — her story “Operation Christmas Puppy” appears in the new “Chicken Soup for the Soul” collection, titled “It’s Christmas!”
“I actually had a critique partner who actually had published through ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul,’ and she was really pleased with how the process went. And I thought, ‘Well, I might as well try it, too,’” Kemerer said.
The process of submitting a story for inclusion in the series is surprisingly simple, Kemerer noted. The official website for the long-running series — chickensoup.com — has directions for prospective contributors, notes on upcoming books in the franchise, deadlines and more.
“And you actually just submit it through an online form — so it’s just very painless,” she said.
Kemerer realized she had a subject that fit perfectly into the new holiday-themed collection. A story that took place four years ago, while the family lived in Monroe, telling how Kemerer and her husband surprised their two children with the gift of a new puppy on Christmas Eve.
“We had told our friends and family about it, obviously, when we got the dog — how we did it. But this was the first time I really put it into writing,” she said. “It’s really a fun little story. My husband and I wanted to get our kids a dog, and he had a friend who happens to breed little miniature dachshunds. And they were going to be ready right before Christmas.
“So we ended up giving it to them for Christmas, and making it a surprise for them.”
Given the trials involved in making the actual Operation Christmas Puppy a success — as detailed in her writing — Kemerer said that actually putting the story down on paper was the easy part.
“It was actually really fun. I did it more as a diversion. I’ve always liked the books, and I thought, ‘Well, maybe I’ll try this.’ It was actually a really easy process for me. I mean, I feel really blessed, it didn’t take long to write,” she said.
“I have a blog, and I tend to write very personal things on there, too. So the story itself felt like an extension of that, I guess.”
Kemerer said she’s happy her tale will be part of a franchise as good-hearted as “Chicken Soup.”
“I think they’re really warm, nice publications. You can read them and always have a smile on your face when you’re done, you know? If you’re looking for just a quick, happy moment in your day, they’re the perfect book to pick up.”
Kemerer also takes joy in being part of a project that celebrates a time of year that’s dear to her heart, and to the hearts of many — though even during the holidays some hearts need a bit of healing.
“Christmas is a really special time for a lot of people, and I think it can be a really painful time for a lot of people, too — because it does bring up memories that maybe weren’t really so pleasent. So, when you can read about a situation where some kids really did get a dream come true, it kind of maybe, in some way, makes you feel better,” she said.
“Christmas is that magical time where something really special can happen.”
And as an epilogue to her “Chicken Soup” tale, Sophie — the mini-dachshund at the center of “Operation Christmas Puppy” — may no longer be a puppy, but she is still a part of Kemerer’s family.
“Sophie is curled up right next to me, under a blanket, because that’s her favorite spot,” Kemerer said. “And the kids are still — they’re just getting older, and still love her. She’s just been a really fun addition to our family. She’s a good dog.”