Monday, January 31, 2011

Judi Fennell interview and contest

What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?

A few hours of light-hearted entertainment that took them away from their life and left them with a smile.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Not a message, per se, but I’ve had a few readers think I can’t write. I don’t always follow perfect grammar, but there’s the old adage that you have to know and understand a rule before you break it. I understand grammar. But my characters don’t speak that way and since I write in deep POV (deep point of view, where what you’re reading is the character’s actual thought), I’m going to be true to their voice, their way of viewing the world. Also, people consider my stories “light and fluffy,” which is fine, but I liken them to the movie, Shrek. I saw it with my kids and they were laughing at all the slapstick stuff. The things that were out-right funny. The parents in the theater, on the other hand, were laughing at the subliminal things. The things you had to “get” to find funny. I write my stories like that movie. There is the off-the-cuff funny (or eye-rolling), but then there’s the deeper meaning. Like Shrek said, “Onions have layers, ogres have layers.” My stories have layers. And if you don’t see those layers, that’s okay because the story itself is supposed to be enjoyable. But if you do see them, you’re getting an extra boost of funny.

How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?

I got lucky. A lot in this business is a lightning strike. I’d been in an online contest run by Romantic Times Magazine and Dorchester Publishing, called American Title. It was like American Idol in that the public voted, and the entry with the most votes won a publishing contract.

I didn’t win. That’s not the getting lucky that I’m talking about.

What that contest did for me was to garner me a following, so when the next online contest came about, this one from and Simon & Schuster, I had a great base to gather votes. Out of the almost 2,700 entries in all genres of fiction, my story, Beauty and The Best, was the only romance to make the Top 20 finalists.

But I still didn’t win.

I did, however, catch the eye of thousands of members, so when Gather announced it was doing another online contest, this time for strictly Romance, I had people asking me to enter.

So I did. But I wanted to have a new story because Beauty and The Best had already made the rounds and hadn’t found a home. I’d started my “little talking fish story,” as I called it, In Over Her Head, and was about 1/3 of the way from the end. The contest was announced at the beginning of July and the deadline was the end of August. I threw myself into finishing and polishing this story so I could enter it.

And I still didn’t win.

But I did finish in the #3 position, spoke with Sue Grimshaw who is the national romance buyer for Borders books (and one of the final judges), learned what I needed to make the story marketable and got lucky enough for Sue to back me, pitching my story to editors. THAT was the luck involved.

Shortly thereafter, I had a contract not just for that book, but for a trilogy. So from the big push to finish and the contract, it was one year, then another year for it to hit the shelves. A relatively quick time in this business, for which I’m very thankful. You’ll see an acknowledgment to Sue in every book to date.

How would your friends describe you?

“Ham.” That was my nickname in school. Stick a camera in my face and I smile. Put a microphone in my hand and I talk. Ask me about my books and you have to walk away to get me to shut up. Well, no, I’m not that bad, but I’m definitely a people person and don’t take myself too seriously.

Now, if only I could sing, I’d be really obnoxious…

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything on your road to publication?

I’d write Twilight. ;)

Okay, Stephenie Meyer might have an issue with that, but who wouldn’t love to have that kind of success? Writing is fun, it’s creative, it’s an expression of who we are, but in the end, we’d all like to be able to make a living from it.

But most of us have to work at it. We have to build a readership, we have to keep writing great stories. We need marketing and promotion, and enough luck to stand out from the crowd. So I’m doing that. I’m focused on my audience, staying true to my voice and my characters, and coming up with new fun ideas.

But I wouldn’t mind a lightning strike.

How do you come up with the titles?

I usually come up with the titles first, actually. It gives me a flavor of what the story is going to be about.

The titles have to have the same type of fun, punny-ness I put into my writing. In Over Her Head about a marina owner who’s terrified of the ocean and ends up living beneath the sea with a merman just totally cracked me up when I came up with it. I love all the nuances of what it can mean, both to the reader and to the heroine. The play on words of Catch of a Lifetime, especially because the six year old actually caught the mermaid heroine, makes me chuckle. When it came to the Genies, I knew the stories were going to pull from the TV show, so what better titles than to twist the shot titles? My tagline for all my stories is fairy tales with a twist, so anytime I can twist something, I will.

If you could be a paranormal creature, which one would you be?

I’d be a witch. Of course, according to my teenagers, I can be. LOL. But I’d be Samantha Stevens, though I have to say that my husband is MUCH hunkier than Darren. Both Darrens.

What’s a guilty pleasure you have?

Reality TV shows. I’ve been watching Survivor since the second season (I’d seen the finale show of the first one, where Truckdriver Susan ripped into Kelly and I had to see what would make someone act like that on national television and have been hooked ever since.) I love Amazing Race, and utterly adore the Real Housewives franchises. No, I don’t utterly adore the Housewives (some of them are good, others are just train wrecks), but I just can’t believe the way people will throw their friends under the bus for 15 minutes of fame, and I find that I can’t not watch it.

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

This is from my husband, because I, of course, don’t think I need a warning label. He says, “Warning: Nothing Done In Moderation” or “Warning: No First, Second, or Third Gear.”

What’s your favorite curse word?

It’s unrepeatable. And I’m not proud of myself for saying it. I’ve told my kids that I can’t yell at them for cursing because I do it, but to learn from my mistake. It’s a bad habit, so it’s better not to get in the habit.

What is your favorite candy bar?

Favorite candy bar isn’t really a candy bar. To me, the most perfect piece of chocolate is a Hershey kiss. It’s a really good thing they’re individually wrapped or I’d inhale them! At least the wrapping slows me down. Second favorite is a Reese’s peanut butter cup.


“The nonstop cinematic gee-whiz results will keep the reader enraptured. Fennell also tosses in sultry sex scenes, a bubble-gum-sweet but passionate romance, quick-moving action, and a variety of puns and riddle-making beasts.”

—Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW

He needs to change his luck, and fast!

Matt Ewing would gladly hunt down a fortune in lucky pennies if he thought it would help save his business. But for all his hoping, Matt’s clueless when his long-awaited lucky charm falls in his lap in the form of a beguiling genie. He just can’t believe that this beautiful woman could be the answer to his prayers…

She’s been bottled up for far too long!

Spending 2,000 years in a bottle would make any woman a little stir-crazy. So when Matt releases Eden from her luxurious captivity, she’s thrilled to repay him by giving him the magical boost he needs…

But for all her good intentions, Eden’s magical prowess is a little rusty and her magical mistakes become more than embarrassing. And though Eden knows falling in love will end her magic and immortality, she can’t help but be drawn to the one man who wants her just for herself…

About the Author

Judi Fennell is an award-winning author and writes what she calls “fairy tales with a twist.” Her romance novels have been finalists in's First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, and have won numerous RWA Chapter Awards, including the FF&P Prism Award, and the New Jersey Golden Leaf Award. Judi lives with her family in suburban Philadelphia, PA, where she is working on the next book in the Genie Trilogy, Genie Knows Best, set for release in November 2011. For more information, please visit

CONTEST: 2 Winners. Open to US and Canada residents only. Winners will be selected at random from all commentors. Good Luck and please don't forget to leave your email so you can be notified if you win.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Abby Gordon

What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?

Some romance/erotica, but to take a ‘break’, I’ll read biographies and fantasy. I love Anne McCaffrey and JR Ward and historical books.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A bit of both. In Beck & Call, one scene was literally a dream. I woke up at 2am to write it and the characters took over. Model Fantasy already had the outline from B&C, so I went from there.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?

Love comes in all shapes and sizes and friendships can get you through just about everything.

How long have you been a writer?

My family jokes that I was telling stories to my stuffed animals and dolls as soon as I could talk. Once I learned to write, I put the stories down on paper.

How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?

The first book was about 15 months. The second was exactly one year. I learned a lot with the first and I think my second manuscript was more polished which quickened the pace.

Did you have any other careers before devoting yourself to being a full-time writer?

I still have my ‘day-job’ but, dream of being a full-time writer.

How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?

My family and friends were very excited because they knew it had been a lifelong dream and they knew how hard it can be to get published.

If you could be a paranormal creature, which one would you be?

Probably a toss-up between one of Anne McCaffrey’s dragonriders or JR Ward’s vampires.

What’s a guilty pleasure you have?

I love curling up next to the fire, music on, glass of wine, dark chocolate and a good book.

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

Careful what you say – you may be in my next book.

Who’s more fun, bad boys or perfect gentlemen and why?

Perfect gentlemen! I write stories about how perfect gentlemen play! ;)

Where is the craziest place you made your characters have sex?

In the 3rd book being reviewed for contract, Debbie and Quincy have sex in a nightclub. With my characters it’s not so much the where but the how!

What is your favorite candy bar?

Reese’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I cannot have them in the house because I’ll scarf them all down in one sitting! My sons will sometimes come home and surprise me with a couple packs.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Robin Kaye Interview and Contest

What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?

When it comes to genres, I read them all. First I always read my friends books, Elisabeth Naughton, Kristina McMorris, Grace Burrowes, Alix Rickloff, Marie Force, Hope Ramsay (whose book Welcome to Last Chance comes out next month), Maureen Child, Marilyn Brant, Roxanne St. Claire, Susan Donovan, Christie Craig and all my partners on Killer Fiction . Then I read my auto buys Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Rachel Gibson, Louisa Edwards, Suzanne Brockmann, Donna Kauffman, Susan Mallery. If I have time, I re-read Jane Austen at least once a year and anything else that looks good to me. I am pretty eclectic when it comes to what I read outside romance.

Do you have travel when researching your books? If yes, where is the most interesting place you’ve visited?

I’ve been all over Brooklyn and New York and go as often as I can. I drink in the atmosphere and recharge my Brooklyn accent. In October, I went back to Boise and visited Humpin’ Hannah’s, the real bar that I’d been given permission to play with in Yours for the Taking. I guess the most interesting place I’ve gone is Atlanta, Idaho. It’s an old ghost/mining town three hours up a scary, dirt road that follows the Middle Fork of the Boise River. That is where, years ago, I found an old miner’s diary from the 1880’s that told the true story, which inspired the imaginary town of Three Whores Bend. That area of Idaho is so beautiful and I found some real characters there.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a pantser who is working hard to be a plotter. I’ve tried every plotting method known to man, all of which made my ass twitch. I was just about to give up when I saw Michael Hague’s workshop on his Six-Stage Plot Structure. That’s when I had an epiphany! I went right up to him and thanked him for saving my life. I’ve written four books using his method and so far it’s worked every time. It gives me just enough of a plan to keep me on track without making me feel as if I have already written the book. If anyone is interested, I highly recommend it. You can find info on Michael Hauge’s website He’s my hero!

If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

I’d say Romeo, Romeo because that’s the first in the Domestic Gods series. I’m told that you can easily read them out of order, but I like to start at the beginning which makes following the characters all that much more fun. Yours for the Taking is the fourth book in the series and introduces the characters in my next series - Domestic Gods Gone Wild.

How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?

I started writing Romeo, Romeo in late 2004, I entered it in the Golden Heart Contest in 2007, won, and was lucky enough to receive an offer from one of the final judges. It’s kind of a Cinderella story. I was really lucky. It came out in November, 2008.

What song would best describe your life?

Everything an old song from the ‘70s by Barbara Streisand.

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

Danger, writer on deadline!

What’s for dinner tonight?

Spaghetti, meatballs, and sausage with garlic bread and a Caesar salad. I just stirred my sauce. I make 20 quarts at a time with 6 pounds of meat and then freeze the leftovers. Yum.

Who’s more fun, bad boys or perfect gentlemen and why?

Bad boys are definitely more fun. They’re exciting; dating a bad boy is like a perfect rollercoaster ride—fabulous for a little while. But then, who wants to spend their whole life on a roller coaster? Bad boys are not the men you want to marry. Me, I dated every bad boy known to man and then married a Boy Scout.

What’s the perfect romantic evening?

Any evening without my children. Let’s face it, when you have three teenagers, it doesn’t take much more than their absence for a little while to find romance.


He might be too good to be true…

Ben Walsh shouldn’t be single. Handsome and wealthy, Ben is equally at home in Idaho where he grew up and in Manhattan where he’s now an art dealer. Suave and successful with impeccable taste, he normally has women beating down his door. But the one woman he wants can’t be convinced that he’s for real…

She isn’t sure if she has time for fairy tales…

Gina Reyez has fought for every bit of her success, and it’s about time for things to start going her way. So when Ben makes a proposal that will allow her to take care of her family the way she wants to, she agrees. Besides, a guy this perfect would never be interested in her...right? By the time Gina figures out that she’s read Ben all wrong, the arrangements are made, the papers are signed…but what exactly are they getting themselves into?

Leave a comment. Two lucky winners to recieve print copies of Yours for the Taking. US and Canada residents only. Please leave contact email in comment.
Robin Kaye is a professional writer and winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award for her first novel, Romeo, Romeo. Her romantic comedies feature sexy, nurturing heroes and feisty, independent heroines. She lives with her husband and three children in Mt. Airy, Maryland, where she is working on a brand new series for release 2011 and 2012. For more information, please visit .

Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
*Please share with us your future projects and upcoming releases.

I’m working on a new, connected series, Domestic Gods Gone Wild. The first book is called On the Wild Side. It is Hunter Kincaid’s story—he’s a character you meet in Yours for the Taking. Next up is Judge Trapper Kincaid’s story. I’m so looking forward to writing that one. I’m so in love with Trapper and have been for a couple years now. On the Wild Side will be in stores next Fall, and I’ll put the first chapter on my website just as soon as I get it back from copy edits. .

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