FIRST OF ALL I WOULD LIKE TO WISH JUDI FENNELL A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! I ADORE THIS LADY. I MET HER A FEW YEARS AGO AT MY FIRST LIBERTY STATES CONFERENCE AND FROM THERE WAS VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE HER COME ON OVER MY HOUSE FOR BOOK CLUB ALONG WITH HER AWESOME CRITIQUE PARTNER AND FRIEND, AUTHOR STEPHANIE JULIAN. JUDI AND STEPHANIE HELPED ME MAKE EMPANADAS BEFORE THE CROWD ARRIVED. WELL NEEDLESS TO SAY, THE LADIES BOOK OBSESSED CHICKS BOOK CLUB ARE HUGE JUDI FENNELL FAN GIRLS AND I HOPE YOU BECOME FANS OF HER AS WELL.
1. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? I’m finally growing up to be what I’ve always wanted to be: a writer. And a mom. And that order change on any given day because, ya know, I have teenagers…I write romantic comedies, to the complete surprise of my high school classmates. As one of them said, “You’re funny?” Apparently so. I guess she doesn’t get my brand of humor, but then she was the who asked in History class (completely honestly, mind you): “Which came first World War One or World War Two?”
2. When and how did you know you wanted to be a writer? Always have written. I still have my first story about a raindrop talking to her friends as they fall to the ground, written on that lined yellow paper from elementary school with the drawing area above it. In 9th grade, a friend and I challenged each other to write a romance novel (we’d shared our stash of books through the year to the great amusement of our classmates for reading those books…) I finished the book; she didn’t. And no, you will never see that book. I think I actually wrote: He kissed the valley between her breasts. and blushed to the roots of my hair while doing so. If 9th grade me knew then what I’m writing now, I don’t know that she would have believed it.
3. Tell us about your upcoming work? What a Woman Wants is book 1 in the Manley Maids series, where three brothers lose a poker bet to their sister who owns a cleaning service and they owe her a month of cleaning service. Book 1 is Sean Manley’s book – he is planning to buy a mansion to turn it into the flagship property in his resort business, except the former owner changed her will and made her illegitimate granddaughter her heir. Livvy Carolla wants to get the most she can for the place so she can keep her barn-animal rescues with her and get her organic bakery off the ground. She’s not about to sell the place for less than it’s worth, which is exactly what Sean wants to pay. But the cost might be worth it in the end.
4. Do you have any mentors? Heroes? Mentors: every author I grew up reading. To me, they were always those authors. A special group who knew the secret of getting published. In my head, not just anyone could have a book published. I honestly never thought I’d do it. Oh, I’d wanted it, but you had to be someone special to do this. Then I met some of them and realized they’re regular women like me, and I knew that I could do it. Heroes? They know who they are.
5. Can you tell us your favorite character from your books so far and why? I love all my characters for various reasons; they are like your kids. You can get frustrated with them, sometimes you don’t like what they do, but in the end, you love them. I don’t have a favorite child (overall—they change depending on who’s doing what wrong), so I don’t have a favorite character. That being said, I have a lot of fun writing the secondary characters who can say anything they want that maybe wouldn’t be the best thing to come from the hero or heroine. Characters like Obo the cat in I Dream of Genies, or Livingston in Wild Blue Under. The sparrows, Maybel and Adele from that story as well. Their filters are quite different from the main characters so I can give them a bit more freedom and I just love hearing what comes out of their mouth.
6. Was it difficult for you to get published? I don’t know many people for whom it was easy. You pay your dues. My first book had to be re-written for one significant detail: Reel, my first merman originally had a tail. When you read In Over Her Head, you’ll see that he doesn’t. When I was told to get rid of his tail, I was like, “Um, okay,” because, of course, you aren’t going to tell a bookseller and editor no if you want to sell the book. SO how the heck do you cut off a merman’s tail and keep him a merman, which is the whole premise of the book? There was some wailing and keening and moaning, a couple rounds of hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing, countless tears, and many many rewrites. That was tough. Book 2: Wild Blue Under’s heroine needed a complete overhaul. In 1 and a half months. I restarted that book 24 times in the space of 2 weeks. I had no clue how to change it and make it work. (This book later won a PRISM award, finalling with a NYT best selling author and a USA Today best selling author). AND these rewrites were being done between Thanksgiving and New Years. As far as snagging an editor, that took me four years, countless pitch appointments at conferences, those rewrites I mentioned. In addition to this, you need a great story and a little bit of luck. Thankfully, mine coalesced within four years of joining RWA, but I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t joined a writing organization and taken full advantage of all the benefits of belonging by attending conferences, networking with industry professionals and having a kick-ass critique partner to run my stories by.
7. Who are your favorite authors/reads? Jill Barnett wrote, hands down, my favorite book of all time. Bewitching. It’s the only book I have that I haven’t broken the spine on the signed copy. And Jill gave me a fabulous quote for my book and my website, so that was a total fangirl moment. I also like to read Romantic Suspense, and will pick up Karen Rose, Kate Brady, Lisa Jackson and Cindy Gerard, just ot name a few.
8. Hobbies? Who has time? Writing is my hobby. I also have a formatting business to help authors get their books up online: www.formatting4U.com, so that’s pretty much all my free time.
9. Tell us a bit about your workshop(s) at the conference? My critique partner, Stephanie Julian and I are presenting a writer’s workshop: Ultimate Submission: Create the Perfect Query & Synopsis, which is fairly self-explanatory. I’m lucky in that writing synopses comes easy to me and when I analyzed how I do them, I found a pattern that I can pass on to other writers, and Steph taught me how to write a query letter. She’s brilliant at it. We’re also doing a readers track based on an adult version of Pictionary. ;}
10. Do you have any favorite TV shows? When I do have time to watch TV, I’m a HUGE Real Housewives fan. There’s just something about watching women who supposedly are friends take each other down publicly for their fifteen minutes of fame. I’ve said that someone ought to do a sociology thesis on the phenomenon of people willing to throw their families and friends under the bus for the fame. It’s like a train wreck: you just can’t look away. And recently, my kids and neighbor got me hooked on Breaking Bad. I can’t say that I liked the show in that I was not rooting for the main character, but the writing was brilliant. Utterly compelling and their use of cliff hangers was just terrific. Writers might want to check it out to learn how to hook your audience.
11. What’s next for you? Finishing up the fourth book of the Manley Maids series, What a Woman (the sister’s story). Then working on a proposal for the next books in the series. Also working on Beefcake & Retakes, Tanner’s story in my BeefCake, Inc series (about male strippers), and trying to get Marianna’s story for the Mer series out. And my alter ego, Raven Morris, needs a few more erotic novellas out. So, again, I ask you, what hobby?
12. What would you like readers to know about you? That I appreciate every single book you read, every comment you send me, the way you know my worlds and want more of them. Writing is a creative outlet for me, and to have people appreciate it, is a humbling and wonderful experience.
FACEBOOK PAGE CONTEST!
A SIGNED ARC OF THE UPCOMING ~ WHAT A WOMAN WANTS ~ by JUDI FENNELL
NOT OUT UNTIL 3/4/14
QUESTION TO ANSWER ON THE BOOK OBSESSED CHICKS FACEBOOK PAGE
WHO IS THE HERO OF JUDI FENNELL'S FIRST A MANLEY MAIDS NOVEL?