Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wild Blue Under Review and Interview with Judi Fennell

~If you liked, In Over Her Head, you are gonna LOVE Wild Blue Under!~

Wild Blue Under
Tritone Mer Trilogy
Book 2

Judi Fennell

Sourcebook Casablanca

Book Blurb: Rod Tritone, heir to the throne of the undersea world, needs a queen capable of ruling the oldest kingdom on earth. Someone regal, learned and of noble birth. Problem is, the only eligible noble-born Mer princess is half-Human - and she doesn't have a clue about the non-Human part.Valerie Dumere has screwed up her life at every turn, so when her mother dies and leaves her the family business, Val realizes it's up to her to buckle down and get her life on track. No more excuses.So when a guy shows up claiming to be her destiny, she scoffs. No way. She isn't running away from her responsibilities ever again - no matter how good the guy looks without a shirt.But Rod isn't going away. He can't claim his inheritance without her - and Val will lose hers if she goes with him.It's going to take one whale of a tale to get her to chuck it all and follow him off into the wild blue under...

  • "A delightful, quirky blend of humor, adventure, and passion."
Star-Crossed Romance

My Thoughts:

Growing up, some of my favorite TV shows were a blend of comedy and serious.

I loved the touch of paranormal/comedy in I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched. The comedy was focused on normal humans coming into contact with humans with magical/mythical powers. The fun part was the reaction of everyday people when they did. Magic that got out of hand and the dashing about to save the day. Explaining the unexplainable. Yet, these shows dealt with serious issues and human emotions: love, jealousy, aging, job security, raising kids, nosey neighbors, national security, and interfering in-laws. They all had a ‘twist’ and they made you feel good when the show was over.

This is what I love about Judi Fennell’s books. Romance that’s funny, engaging, definitely hot, and makes you feel good when you’ve finished the book. I loved it!

Wild Blue Under is the second book of Judi’s Tritone Mer Trilogy. It’s even better than the first. Like my favorite shows, it deals with serious issues—life and death but Fennell maintains her theme of Fairy Tales With A Twist. Take the improbable, add superb characters, and then build a marvelous story, filled with laughter, dangerous adventure, romance, and a happy ending.

What would you do if you found out birds could talk, and not only talk but plan out evasive maneuvers when under attack? Or that the talking Sea Gull was the Chief of Aerial Security tasked with the responsibility keeping the Heir to the throne safe? Or that birds could become terrorists and close down airports and create havoc on the highways to stop traffic?

This is just some of the many things that normal, Valerie Dumere, has to not only deal with but also make sense of while dealing with a not normal, hot hunk named Rod Tritone. Valerie is determined to stick to one thing and which is making her mother’s shop a success. She’s done with her restless wandering.

Rod is the sexy, highly responsible heir to the Mer throne. His assignment is to bring half Mer princess to Atlantis. Valerie, on the other hand, doesn’t know she’s half Mer and is deathly allergic to saltwater. Rod fabricates an inheritance to get her to come from the landlocked mid-west to the Atlantic so he can prove to her what she is, and fulfill his assignment.

What follows is a face-paced series of misadventures that will have you not only laughing but also rooting for Val and Rod. Rod’s life is in danger. Valerie thinks she’s lost her mind. Toss in an impossible romance and Livingston, a wisecracking Sea Gull is the Chief of Aerial Security tasked with the responsibility of keeping Rod alive and Valerie to the coast, and you have a highly entertaining read.

If you liked In Over Her Head, you are going to LOVE Wild Blue Under!

Look out world; Judi Fennell’s star is rising high.

I had a chance to ask Judi a few questions about her book and writing:

  • What's special about your hero? What makes him different from his brother, Reel?
    Rod is the older twin and, therefore, he's The Heir who will inherit the throne. His upbringing diverged from Reel's about the time of The Incident, when he had the seriousness and importance of his position hammered into him. As The Heir, Rod had to learn all about the Mer culture, their laws and history, how to behave, etc. He didn't get the carefree life he thought his brother had. In In Over Her Head (Reel's story) we see that this wasn't quite the way Reel saw it.

  • What was the most fun about writing this story?

I loved re-visiting the undersea world and I loved writing the chase scenes with the dive-bombing peregrines and fish bombs from an albatross. Writing a Mer-out-of-water story puts certain restrictions on my imagination that writing a Human-under-the-sea story didn't, in that I had to adhere to what we know and what is reality about living on land. However, when you toss birds into the mix (wait for it...) the sky's the limit. Both literally and figuratively.

  • What was the hardest to write?

Hmmm, good question. I don't know that there was a hard part to write. People always say "the sagging middle" but in my stories they're on a quest or running (swimming) for their lives, so there's no chance to have a sagging middle, and I pretty much know the beginning and ending, so...

  • You mention you like words, puns, alliteration, and obviously humor. Having read all your books, the humor is a bit *fishy*. What made you choose to play with undersea terminology so much?
  • There was no "choice" involved. From the minute Chum opened his mouth in In Over Her Head, the puns just started flowing. And, apparently, they don't stop. :) I've always done things like that, and found them funny when others do them. I like nuances to meanings and giving "nods" to pop culture, and I love twisting cliches. It wasn't a conscious effort, which means it was a subconscious one, and I take no responsibility for my subconscious. It's an entity unto itself.
  • What is your greatest challenge as an author and how do you deal with it?
  • Greatest challenge.... hmmm... pick a day. LOL I'd have to say the challenge would be working real life in when I want to be writing. I have a husband and kids, dogs, a kitten, a house, a social life, a gym membership, extended family nearby, school commitments... Juggling all those balls is tough, but my family knows that writing is my full time job now and I have to treat it as such. But then life tosses in a sick kid or someone forgot a project that has to be driven to school, or my DH (used to be Darling Husband, but is now Domestic Hero) has to travel so I have to single-parent it... Yep, that's the challenge.
  • How did belonging to a writing group, such as RWA, your Writin' Wombats, play into your success as a writer?
  • I wouldn't be where I am today if not for the incredibly helpful people in the RWA organization. From my critique partner, Stephanie Julian, who gave me my first unbiased feedback ("It's good but you need to get rid of the first 20 pages" ouch! but she was right!), to the other writers of my local chapter who shared so much of their industry knowledge, to the RWA organization as a whole for the monthly publication that's an invaluable resource, both for writing information and industry stuff, and the online community of Writing Wombats who encouraged me to enter that second First Chapters Romance contest which helped me along to publication, the intensive critiques/feedback they're willing to do for me - and quickly! - to the support for getting the word out (bookmarks all across the country!)... The Writing Wombats rock! And as more Wombats are selling, I get the chance to give back, well, aside from bloodying up their manuscripts when they send them to me for critique. :)

  • What can we expect from you next? Can you discuss your new series at all?
    Oh, sure! My next series, pitched as I Dream of Jeannie meets Indiana Jones will release in Fall 2010, with the first story (tentatively) titled, I Dream of Genies. Look for more action/adventure, life and death, bad guys, a few talking animals and a magical city of the Djinn (where the word "genie" comes from). And, yeah, maybe a reference to Sydney Sheldon. :)

Many don't realize just how hard authors work. It's not only the writing and editing of the book, but the enormous time involved in promoting the finished product through blog tours, booksignings, and interviews. So, I know your time is valuable.

Judi, I want to thank you for spending today with us here Over Coffee. It's been a pleasure speaking with you.


Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to "get outside!" instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did—right into Dad's hammock with her Nancy Drew books.

These days she's more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she's still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends' books.

A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she's received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website for excerpts, reviews, contests and pictures from reader and writer conferences, as well as the chance to "dive in" to her stories.
Visit Judi HERE

Monday, October 26, 2009

How Do You Measure Success?

My guest today is Romantic Suspense Author, Loucinda (everyone calls her Cindy) McGary. She is also known as Aunty Cindy.

Her topic today is one that many an author has wondered. How do you measure success? These days, authors must do self-promotion for their books and that's true whether you're published through a small Indie press or with traditional publishers. As an author, Cindy also speaks about blog tours, are they worth the whirlwind of time involved?

To promote my recently released romantic suspense, The Treasures of Venice, I did a ‘blog tour’ that required me to post on eighteen blogs in three and a half weeks. Yes, after eighteen blogs in twenty-four days, my head was spinning. Plus, I was left with the nagging question: Was all that effort really worthwhile?

Back in the not-too-distant past when I still had a Dreaded Day Job, I worked for many years as a policy analyst. In those days it was my job to dredge up data or find some other method for quantifying the success of a recommendation, a project, or sometimes an entire program. My bosses wanted numbers and I had to find them.

The saying goes “old habits are hard to break,” and I’ve definitely found this to be true in my new career as a romance novelist. Let me get back to my earlier question about the eighteen blogs in twenty-four days. I quickly discovered there was no ‘hard evidence’ (in other words--numbers) to prove that blogging is an effective promotional tool. However, my in-house publicist, and more importantly her boss, my publisher believe it is. Since I know they want my book to succeed as much as I do (they’ve put time, effort, and money into it too), I just have to take their word for it.

But what is success in this crazy publishing business anyway? Okay, I suppose we can all agree that hitting number one on the New York Times List or being one of Oprah’s Bookclub picks is successful. But it’s also not a very realistic goal for the vast majority of us, so why set ourselves up for failure?

Until Sept. 14, 2007 (the day I got The Call), my entire measure of success hinged on selling a book – ONE book – to a publisher. Of course, as soon as I achieved that goal, I immediately saw that publishing one book was not enough. Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee notwithstanding, I did not want to be a ‘one hit wonder.’

Shortly after my first book, The Wild Sight was released last October; I was thrilled to sign a contract with my publisher for two more books. As I mentioned, The Treasures of Venice was just released, and The Wild Irish Sea, will be out next July. And, you guessed it, I’ve decided three published books still doesn’t meet my elusive definition of success. Please wish me luck on my new proposals.

Phyllis A. Whitney was one of the first romance author’s whose work I loved, and I’m proud to claim her as an influence on my own writing. She published scores of novels during her long career, her last at the age of ninety-three! Another author I idolize, J.R.R. Tolkien published only four novels in his lifetime, but what novels!

Clearly the number of books published is not an accurate way to measure success, but what about sales? Again, this seems to be very subjective to me. Again, in the days when I was still unpublished, my little pea-brain couldn’t even conceive of 10,000 people reading my book. Such a thing was on par with when the pilot comes on the intercom and tells us passengers we are cruising at 35,000 feet. That is too vast a distance for me to fathom, so I don’t even try! So for the unpublished, or newly published, 10,000 copies sold might sound like a huge number. But it could be very disappointing for an author who previously hit one or more best-seller lists and is accustomed to sales over 100,000. Plus, copies sold are not the same thing as copies read.

One of the most exciting things I discovered was Library Thing. This site shows you every library in the US (and a few foreign countries) that has a copy of your book in their collection. Seeing my book in the library was a huge success for me! From the time I learned to read until I graduated from college and finally got a full-time job, I couldn’t afford to buy many books. The library was my own personal refuge, and is still the place I go for most hard-cover novels and research books.

I feel the same when people tell me they loaned their copy of my book to a friend. I have to really love a book before I’ll loan or recommend it to someone else to read, so I consider this a very high compliment. And that brings me around to the thing I love most – hearing from readers!

The main reason I write stories is for people to read and enjoy them. Entertaining an audience is my goal and having my books published helps me to achieve that goal. I’ll never forget the happiness I felt the week after The Wild Sight was released and I received three pieces of honest-to-goodness fan mail. I knew that hearing from readers would be wonderful, but I never imagined just how much! I’ve received dozens of emails, snail mails, and even in-person praise since then, and I treasure every single one of them! Knowing that someone read and enjoyed my story makes all the hard work and hassles of writing and publishing worthwhile.

So maybe readers are my true measure of success. As long as I know I have one or two (or more) people out there somewhere who are reading my books and eagerly turning the pages to see what happens next, I don’t need to crunch numbers or collect empirical data or anything else. I have achieved my ultimate goal.

Blurb for The Treasures Of Venice:
When American librarian Samantha Lewis and Irish rogue Keirnan Fitzgerald set off to find priceless jewels, they become embroiled in a 500-year-old love story that eerily prefigures their own...

In 15th century Venice, beautiful and wealthy Serafina falls in love with Nino, a young Florentine sculptor. They decide to flee to Padua, and to fund the trip, Nino copies a set of jewels that then disappear.

In modern-day Venice, Keirnan needs Samantha's help to locate the jewels so he can pay his sister's ransom. Samantha must decide whether the man she's so drawn to is her soul mate from a previous life...or are they merely pawns in a relentless quest for a priceless treasure?

Question for readers: Out of curiosity, how many of your books were chosen because you read a blog about the author or their latest book?


A life-long avid reader, Cindy writes the kinds of stories she likes to read – stories with danger, romance and a touch of the unexpected. Cindy likes to read and write about wonderful, far away places and people not so very different from her or someone she knows. Her characters must overcome physical and emotional obstacles, sometimes risk their lives, and eventually discover love.
  • Cindy discovered and joined Romance Writers of America in 2001. But her stressful career as the manager of a multi-million dollar State and Federally funded program prevented her from doing much writing or traveling. She still managed to squeeze in a little of both, but not enough of either to be truly satisfying. Finally, at the end of 2003 she decided to take an early retirement from her career to fully pursue her twin passions of travel and writing. Cindy likes to set her novels of romance and suspense in some of the fascinating places she has visited.
Cindy loves to hear from her fans and you can visit her Here.