"That book changed the way I viewed literature," Tennant said. "I cried when Laurie broke Jo's heart."
To this day, Tennant's writing has relied largely on its characters to drive the story forward. Her latest published piece, included in "Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!" features characters very dear to her heart, though different than characters she's written in previous work.
"Chew Bone Chicanery," the story featured in the "Chicken Soup" anthology, describes the clever exploits of her dog, Bella, in getting a particular rawhide chewing bone away from Tennant's other dogs, Kirby and Dakota.
"She's smart," Tennant said.
Tennant, previously a self-proclaimed "cat person," inherited her three canine companions from family or close friends. Both Kirby and Bella came from her daughter, Toni. Bella has since returned to her original owner, and the Tennants are back to living the life of a two-dog family.
"I'd always been a cat person until Toni got Kirby and we started watching him," Tennant said. "My husband betted that we'd have a dog within six months. It wasn't long after that Toni asked us to take Kirby in, and we grew attached."
Tennant has published eight novels in her writing career, though has focused more recently on shorter stories and essays. This is her second story in a "Chicken Soup" anthology. The first, "His Eye on the Sparrow," was published a year ago in "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers."
"The shorter pieces are easy to do," Tennant said. "I like fiction, but there's more of a market for nonfiction. I haven't had much time to write longer pieces lately, but I've always written short stuff."
Tennant also runs Shapato Publishing, a print-on-demand publishing house. She began publishing annual anthologies of stories from the Midwest a few years ago. Her books are available to send all over the world.
"In my writers group, I kept hearing stories of 'life on the farm,' which I never experienced," Tennant said. "I wanted to collect those stories."
Recently, however, Tennant has begun to scale back on the projects she takes on for Shapato, in order to spend more time on her own writing.
"I always have ideas," she said. "I want to write. I miss writing."