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Author Julie Kenner has never had writer’s block, but she has had what she calls “plotter’s block” when she’s not quite sure what characters are going to do next. Those who know Kenner may have had “Kenner’s block” when they’re not sure what she’s going to do next. In Texas, some know Kenner as an attorney with Austin’s Fleckman & McGlynn. Around the nation, others know her as a writer of romance novels. Becoming a romance writer was an unexpected twist in Kenner’s life tale. An Austin native, at the age of 19, she graduated with a degree in film from the University of Texas; she was on the fast track — she finished college in two and a half years. She didn’t really know what she wanted to do after college. She worked for a while but was soon bored. So she took the LSAT and was accepted at Baylor University School of Law. “I went there, and I loved it,” Kenner says of law school. “I clerked for two years for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals . . . for Judge Samuel D. Johnson, and after that I ended up practicing in California. I loved Austin, but I grew up here, and I wanted to get out. I thought it would be fun to get out.” So she headed to Los Angeles. That’s a perfect example of “Kenner’s block.” Nobody expected her to do that. The move made sense to Kenner at the time. “I wanted to do litigation, and so with my film background, I thought it’d be fun to do a little [litigation] in the entertainment industry,” Kenner says. She didn’t practice litigation in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, but she did a lot of reading, as usual. “I’ve always read everything,” Kenner says. “I’ve been a voracious reader. I never read the romance genre. Then I read a Julie Garwood novel, which a friend in L.A. liked and recommended. After that, I was hooked. I just loved it, and I started reading more and more.” By that time, Kenner was married, and she wanted to move back home to the Lone Star State. The Kenners settled in Austin, and Julie continued to read romance novels. While in Barnes & Noble, she saw a flier announcing that romance writer Pamela Ingraham was going to be speaking at the bookstore. After listening to Ingraham talk about being a romance writer, Kenner introduced herself and asked Ingraham questions. “I probably harassed her to death,” Kenner says. Ingraham suggested Kenner join Romance Writers of America, which just happened to have an active Austin chapter. THE WRITER INSIDE The group helps nonpublished and published writers and sponsors a variety of contests. Kenner entered the first chapter of a book she had written. She won the contest and got a call from an editor of a publishing company, Harlequin Enterprises. He had judged the contest and wanted not just the first chapter, but the entire manuscript. At the time, Kenner was on page 140 of a 240-page manuscript, but she finished the book, “Nobody Does it Better,” in two weeks. “You need a man!” the book begins. It’s the introduction Kenner thought of while driving home from work one day. It was the perfect line for the plot she had in mind. In “Nobody Does It Better,” Paris Sommers — who just happens to be an attorney — moonlights as a writer of spy novels under the name of Montgomery Alexander. The books are a hit, and writing under a pseudonym allows Sommers to write without her father finding out, since he won’t respect her for not writing literary masterpieces. Sommers pretends to be Alexander’s agent. Everything is perfect — until the publisher wants Alexander to appear at a party. She needs a man to pretend to be Alexander. But even more, she also needs a man to love and to love her. “Cat’s Fancy” will be on shelves later this year, as will “Reckless.” Kenner has contracts for six novels, and others are “in the works.” Of course, she adds, that’s “not counting the one under my bed that will never be published.” That’s something every writer has, she says. All of Kenner’s books will be romance novels. “I’ve toyed with the idea of writing other things, but this is the one that feels right. I have a lot of respect for the genre, and I like happy endings.” “So far everyone has been fabulously supportive” of her writing career, she says. Some fellow attorneys and co-workers have told her they read her books. Knowing Kenner’s heavy workload as an attorney — not to mention the deadlines she has to meet for publishers — they have one question for her, she says: “When do you ever sleep?” Would-be writers are asking Kenner questions, too. She says, “A lot of people ask a lot of questions” since they can contact her through her Web site, www.juliekenner.com. “I absolutely have no qualms at all about that. A lot of people helped me, and it’s only fair that I help other people.” There’s one question she’s not sure how to answer, though: will the attorney quit her law practice and write full time? The jury’s still out on that one. “Except for the fact that I’d like to sleep a little more, I like the intellectual stimulation of being an attorney, and I like the people whom I work with,” Kenner says, noting for now she’ll continue to do both. But who knows what’s in store in the future? That’s another story.

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