Friday, November 11, 2011

ONCE UPON A TIME...

Two copies of Genie Knows Best are available to two commenters on today's blog.



My guest is romance writer, Judi Fennell.

Judi is a magically delicious storyteller and a dear friend from whom I've learn so much about this business. She's was also one of the first writers to read my work (a big moment of trepidation for me). 


Judi taught me the importance in having band-aids and the need of blood on standby after the reading and her comments. Yeah, I thought the manuscript was in imminent danger of bleeding to death, lol! 


But seriously, she also taught me the value of being objective of when it comes to your writing and critiques, the value of learning the craft of writing, and following your dreamsthey don't magically. You work for them. 

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who liked to tell stories. From “Casper made me do it” when she rode her tricycle into the street, to the little raindrop who fell from the sky in that very first First Grade Essay, to Mr. Magical who lived in the sewer with a zebra-striped alligator, and Cotton The Lonely Rabbit, she always told stories. (Not fibs, mind you. I told stories. Fibs are an entirely different matter and not at all part of this discussion. And I totally plead the fifth on that.)

So the little girl wrote her stories, even won some awards for them, but the idea of becoming an actual Writer was laughable. Seriously, only those people could become authors. The exalted ones. The ones with talent. And agents. And editors. The general masses weren’t like these Authors.

Yet here I am today. An author. Who gets paid and has books on bookstore shelves. And has an agent and an editor. Even a publicist. And reviewers and, best of all, fans.

How did this happen?

You know, when I used to go to the library with my mom when I was younger and headed right to the romance section—and specifically the Ls and Ms (for Charlotte Lamb and Anne Mather), I had no idea “real people” could become authors. Books took me away to far off places. They taught me new things. They showed me heroines who could become who and what they wanted to be without compromising who they were. The stories fired my imagination and, in my voracious reading, I couldn’t imagine a better career.

But that was for those people. Not me.

As I said, I’ve always written. But it wasn’t until my youngest went to kindergarten that I sat down and wrote a “real” full length novel. (The one I wrote in 9th grade when I had about as much life experience as an amoeba doesn’t count.) I had no idea what POV or head-hopping were. I had no idea about Goal, Motivation, or Conflict. I only knew that I had two characters who went through some stuff and ended up living happily ever after.

That first full length novel has been revised, oh, maybe a hundred times. I’m not exaggerating. I still have the earliest completed version. I mailed it to myself with a date stamp across the flap and thought that was a good enough copyright—told you I didn’t have a clue about any of this. I won’t even tell you how I mailed that first manuscript off to editors and agents in a way that makes me cringe to this day. I’ll never tell any of them that they once received a submission from me in a way that broke every rule I now know I should have adhered to. Well, except for the confetti. I didn’t put confetti in the envelope, thank God. One saving grace.

But I digress…

I’d written this story that had just popped into my head and then had no idea what to do with it. Hubs was the one who scoured the internet for Romance Writers of America and my local chapter. He even called the president to talk to her about me joining—all without me knowing he was doing this. Then he presented me with the meeting place, time, and driving directions, made play dates for the kids, and sent me on my way.

I can still remember the trepidation I felt going into that meeting. I mean, seriously, who did I think I was? I was going to be with real authors. I was a poser. A wannabe. They’d laugh me out of the meeting.

How wrong I was. Writers, especially romance writers, are some of the most encouraging, generous, knowledgeable, helpful, smart people I know. I remember meeting my very first published author at that meeting; she’d brought in copies of her latest release. Of course I bought one and of course I had her autograph it. We’ve become friends and I still have that book to this day.

But I left that meeting with utter excitement. I could do this! Others had done it. Other people just like me, with kids and homes and husbands and jobs. People who had the same dream.

This month, my fifth “dream” is being released from Sourcebooks Casablanca, the second in my Bottled Magic series, Genie Knows Best. And the thrill is as big and spine-shivering as the first book I released. The trepidation as I wait for reviewer and reader comments. The same impatience as I now await publication of the third book. The same angst as I work on my next proposal. The same worry that I won’t be able to do it again.

It’s a strange thing to be able to call myself an author. For years it was a dream. And, no, it didn’t happen overnight and there was no genie magic involved—how much easier that would have been. A lot of hard work. A lot of lonely hours with just my laptop and my imaginary characters to keep me company. A lot of “Don’t bother Mommy; she’s writing her book”s and a lot of take-out pizza.

And I wonder as I hold all five books in my hand (trust me, it doesn’t get old!) if someone out there who’s reading my stories has the same dream I had? Who wants to write but thinks she can’t be published. Who thinks that it’s only those people who can publish books. And I want to reach out to her and say, “You can do this. If the stories are inside of you, all you have to do is sit at the computer and type them up. Or write them by hand. Or dictate them into a recorder. Just get the stories out. That makes you an author. To become a published one takes more work, but you can’t be published if you don’t have a story to publish.”

Sia, I want to thank you for having me back on Over Coffee. You’ve been on this ride with me since before publication and I know it’s only a matter of time before you’ll hold your dream in your hands.

  • To the readers out there—what are your perceptions of published authors? Am I alone in how I thought? And do you harbor the dream, too? 
  • Or, if not to become an author, what is your dream? 
  • And what’s holding you back from achieving it?


Genie Knows Best by Judi Fennell – In Stores November 2011

Be careful what you wish for… 

Samantha Blaine is about to make a fateful discovery. A tall, dark, handsome, ohmygosh kind of fateful discovery… 

Kal is very pleased to meet his attractive new master—especially since he intends to seduce her into granting him freedom. But when seriously dark magic spells trouble for both of them, Kal can’t help himself from falling for the woman who holds his fate in her hands…

 Warmly acclaimed by readers and critics alike, Judi Fennell brings to life a fabulous world of magic and mayhem where wishes come true in the most unexpected ways! Excerpt




Judi Fennell is an award-winning author and writes what she calls “fairy tales with a twist.” Her romance novels have been finalists in Gather.com'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, Magic Gone Wild, set for release in August 2012. 


For more information, please visit http://www.judifennell.com/, Facebook, Twitter.



12 comments:

~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome back to Over Coffee, Judi. It's always a pleasure to have you visit. I even have a few mimosas just for you. :-) Unless you'd prefer coffee?

I really enjoyed Genie Knows Best. Kal is such a sexy genie!

Tonya Kappes said...

Congratulations on having your dreams come true!

Talli Roland said...

I'm with Tonya - a big congrats! Nothing better than achieving something you've dreamed of.

Kat Sheridan said...

I totally thought published authors were THOSE people. That they lived in ivory towers and never spoke to the hoi-polloi like me. It never occurred to me to write to one, to tell them I liked their work. I mean, I was just a lowly fan, right?

Now I know that authors are just like me. They work hard. They're friendly, and oh, how they LOVE to hear from fans. One little email can brighten their whole day. I think I got lucky because I hung out with writers, got to know them, and THEN they got published. I got to see the whole process and realized it's danged hard work every step of the way.

I also discovered authors have day jobs, and families, and do their own housecleaning, and if they are Judi Fennell, will eat cold pizza and brownies fo breakfast. LOL!

Just got this latest book and can't wait to read it (as soon as I finish moving). Best of luck with it!

Judi Fennell said...

Okay, y'all are up waaaaaaaaaaay too early! :)

Sia - gotta love that "bloody Judi" story - I do it to my manuscripts, too.

Tonya and Talli - thanks so much. One thing I've appreciated in this journey (among many things) is the fact that my children got to see my hard work pay off. They saw someone put their mind and their efforts to something and they saw how long it took. There are no guarantees, but when it happens, it's validating.

Kat - Thanks for being a part of my journey!

Jo Wake said...

What bugs me is that being a published author doesn't guarantee continued success. I know a woman with 10 excellent books to her credit who is now having difficulty selling her WIP. As for me, I dreamt of writing a book, I know pour out my writing into a blog. My imagination couldn't cope and my research gene was too lazy.

Shirley Wells said...

Huge congrats! There's nothing better than having a dream come true.

Judi Fennell said...

Jo - hey, I'm totally with you on this! :) It'd be nice if I could quit the Day Job to write full time, but, sadly, that's not in the cards right now. :(

Shirley - thank you so much. I still pinch myself.

Dana Fredsti said...

Judi, I actually never thought I couldn't be one of "those people"... in fact I think my youthful hubris was one of the reasons it took me so long before finally publishing - I did everything wrong because I was SO sure I was gonna get everything handed to me right off the bat. YOuthful ego/drama/sense of entitlement all gone now... :-)

Judi Fennell said...

Wish I'd had your conviction, Dana. And now look at you! :)

Judi Fennell said...

Thanks for having me again, Sia!

Judi Fennell said...

Hi Sia!