Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Guest Blogger, Judi Fennell

Please join me in welcoming award-winning author Judi Fennell as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Judi’s latest book “Catch of a Lifetime” was just released this month. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: She’s on a mission to save the planet…  
Mermaid Angel Tritone has been researching humans from afar, hoping to find a way to convince them to stop polluting. When she jumps into a boat to escape a shark attack, it’s her chance to pursue her mission, but she has to keep her identity a total secret…  

When he finds out what she really is, they’re both in mortal danger… For Logan Hardington, finding a beautiful woman on his boat is surely not a problem—until he discovers she’s a mermaid, and suddenly his life is on the line… The third novel in Judi Fennell's mermaid series, a fresh, exciting, and different entry in romance fiction!

Judi and Danielle at Sourcebook are graciously offering a copy of “Catch of a Lifetime” to two lucky people who comment on this post between now and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3.

Judi has stopped by today to answer some questions for me about how she got started writing and what advice would have helped her.

Have you had other careers before writing?

Before I had kids, I was a corporate meeting and convention planner. I loved that career. Worked my way up from an assistant to the planner for a large insurance company. I did meetings in Hawaii (2 weeks!), Marco Island/Naples Florida, Nevis/St. Kitts, Vegas, Nashville, Australia… I love to travel and that job went a long way toward fulfilling that desire. I wish I could have gone to Europe with it, but that wasn’t in the cards.

Next career was a stay-at-home mom. Anyone who doesn’t call that a job has never done it. You’re on call 24/7 and you have to take your “boss” with you – even on vacations. You can’t reason with that boss, you don’t get a raise and time off is laughable. Yet it’s the best job in the world and the most rewarding.

Until they’re teenagers. Then you’re an idiot.

What inspired you to change careers and become a writer?

It wasn’t so much as change careers; I was kind of marking time when my youngest went to kindergarten. Those afternoons were filled with cleaning and cooking and laundry and food shopping—I shudder just thinking about it. I so admire people who can do all of that and like it; to me, shopping is the devil’s work. Any kind of shopping. I just missed that girl gene when they were handing them out. As for cleaning—ugh. My mom made us clean every Saturday morning and I know it traumatized me. Oh, I definitely understand why she did, but I utterly hate to clean. The ironic thing is, I’m good at it. But I hate it.

So, anyway, there I was with the kids gone, my house spotless and one morning I remember thinking, “I wonder what room I should clean today.”
That was it. I was done. I needed to do something for me and I’d always wanted to write. I also went out and got a part time job, which I absolutely loved – I worked in the construction trailer for a custom home builder (million dollar + homes), with all the guys. It was great and if it weren’t for the economy, I’d still be there. It was actually fun to go to work and with the need to adhere to a schedule, I got a lot of writing done. So, I started writing with the part time job and my husband, who’s always urged me to start writing again, found Romance Writers of America for me and my local chapter, made me go to a meeting, and that was it. I was hooked. He’s supported me every step of the way, including somehow finding the money for my first conference; now it’s just part of the budget.

But once the story floodgates opened, that was it. I had no choice BUT to write.

What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you first started writing?

Considering I wrote my first romance in 9th grade, which was about 1979, I wish they would have said, “Hey, there’s going to be this great organization starting in a few years. You need to join it and not stop writing.” I have to wonder if I would have been published a lot sooner. I know I would have had a lot more stories and been further along the learning curve of craft and industry. But would I have had the life experience? *shrugs. Who knows. I have to believe that it’s all worked out like it was supposed to.

The life of an author is believed by most to be mostly play rather than work. What's your take on this?

Ha! Sit down and write one and then talk to me. I know people think it’s fun and glamorous, and at times it is fun. When the story flows out of your fingers faster than you can type, and you start laughing to yourself over something you came up with, yes, that is fun.

But when the story isn’t working and you have to go back ten chapters and rip something out and rearrange, and re-write, and remove and redo…. See all the “re”s? That part isn’t fun.

I joke and laugh at the image of me with a tiara on my head. I have one; my brother-in-law bought it for me for Christmas, complete with Cinderella on it. It’s perfect and I love to play up the stereotype, but, really, writing is a solitary career filled with long hours just staring at a blank screen or the same paragraph over and over and over. Most readers don’t realize how we agonize over every word. I know I never did before I started pursuing this seriously.

Yes, book signings are fun and we love meeting our readers and hearing from them, but if you took the hours we put into this (not including all the promotion and blogs and giveaways), and divide it by an average royalty statement… let me tell you, very few people get rich doing this. That’s why you really have to love it; it needs to be your passion. And it’s definitely my passion.

For the reader unfamiliar with your books, could you give us a brief overview?

I write tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted paranormal romances, a la Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. I love puns and word play and they are peppered throughout my stories. My current series is about Mermen and Mermaids, and the Humans they fall in love with. The third book, Catch of a Lifetime, is in stores now (In Over Her Head came out June 2009, and Wild Blue Under came out November 2009), and I’m hoping to be able to write more in the series. It’s a big ocean out there and I’ve got lots of ideas.

What other books and series do you have in the works?

My next series (January 2011) is about genies and was pitched to my editor as, coincidentally, “I Dream of Jeannie meets Indiana Jones.” I Dream of Genies is the first book and that’s with my editor now. I just got the cover but am waiting for final approval before posting it anywhere. The blurb: A genie on the lam finds the man who can make her wishes come true—if only they can outrun the beast, outthink the baddie, and keep her out of the bottle.

Where can readers find out more about you?

My website: has excerpts, reviews, and deleted scenes, as well as the information for my contest where I’ve raffled off two romantic beach getaway weekends, and have the drawing for the third and final one at the end of this month. is my blog and I’ve got pictures of cover models from the Romantic Times Convention (including me with Fabio), plus pictures of other authors from various conferences. And on March 25th, I’ll be hosting the Rita/Golden Heart nominee announcement “squee” party – where you can stop by and party with your friends (or your!) finalist announcement. That’s always a good time.

Thank you Judi for stopping by today and answering these questions. It’s always fun to learn more about authors. I think a lot of readers do visualize the life of an author as more “party-time” than it really is. I know it amazing to me the number of hours that are put into writing per day for so many weeks and months to meet a deadline. Wow.

Now a little background on Judi. Her romance novels have been finalists in's First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, as well as the third American Title contest. She spends family vacations at the Jersey Shore, the setting for some of her paranormal romance series. She lives in suburban Philadelphia, PA.

For more information, and a chance to win a romantic ocean getaway, visit Judi also blogs at Casablanca Authors and Wickedly Romantic.

Now what are your thoughts on Mermen and Mermaids?


  1. Mason - Thanks for hosting Judi: ). Judi - I give you a lot of credit for creating believable characters who are also fantasy characters. That takes a special talent. The paranormal isn't easy to write! And I like your comments about how easy it isn't to write! The next perseon who tells me that writing is just putting words on paper...well...should try it.

  2. I love what spurred you to finally start writing! I think I had a housecleaning moment myself. :) Congratulations on your success!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. Good morning! Thanks for stopping by!

    Yep Margo, you're right. Not the easiest thing to stare at 400 blank pages and know you have to fill th. It's much easier to edit. Which isn't necessarily easy either...

    Elizabeth-so glad to know I'm not alone. I tell my family that I love the nickname "goddess" just don't put "domestic" in front of it

    I'm at the gym (actually on the recumbent bike as I type this) and then off to Costco to lay in supplies for the upcoming storm, so I'll check in later

    Thanks, Mason, for having me

  4. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. It seems so often that success is that combination that does take time to formulate ... learning the craft, the industry, and gaining life experiences. All three seem so necessary to write that effective book, and it's our journey in gaining those elements that is so fascinating.

  5. Loved your story of housecleaning and one day realizing everything was clean and you let your creativity begin to bloom.

    Straight From Hel

  6. I'm so happy to know there's someone else who doesn't enjoy shopping. We can form a club.

    Mason, there's an award for you at my blog.

  7. Judi- What a fun way to explore fantasies. I don't know if I could let myself go like that and really enjoy an alternate reality (creating one, anyway), but I bet yours are fun to read!

    Mason- I love the new slide of guest bloggers!

    Writing Prompt Wednesdays today on my blog!

  8. Hi Joanne - it truly has been a progression. I started submitting to editors/agents and contests from pretty much the first moment I joined RWA and it was like: straight out rejection/bad contest scores. Then I finalled in my first contest (got the call at work and I cried!), started getting "doesn't work for me, but send me something else" rejection letters. Then I started winning contests, and started getting requests, then voila! My editor wanted something to work for us and she gobbled up the Mers and is super excited about the genies, too. Definitely a progression.

    Helen - oh I never said everything was clean... LOL. I just adopted the dust bunnies as new pets. They keep the kitten entertained. LOL

    Carol - yes, that shopping gene... The one store I DO like to shop at? Home Depot. Went there yesterday with my dad (we're putting French doors on my new office) and it was like, "ah, I'm home." I did a lot of Do-It-Yourself projects with Dad my whole life, so I'd much rather do that then buy clothes.

    Hi Michele. I've just always enjoyed television shows/movies like Bewitched or Enchanted, so it was kind of easy to figure out which types of stories I'd like to write. BTW, I honestly think Disney made Enchanted just for me. If only I could sing, I'm SURE they would have cast me. LOL

  9. Sounds like a wonderful book, fun and interesting--I like mermaids and romance! :-D

    I hope I experience a similar progression! I get discouraged by rejections. Congratulations on your good work and getting published.

  10. oh, merrytait, don't be discouraged. EVERYONE gets rejections. If you're lucky enough to get feedback with the rejections, see if any of it resonates with you. This is a subjective business, so what one person likes, another might not. It's really a good idea to go to conferences and listen to the ed/agts speak, and go to classes, and enter contests for anonymous experienced feedback. Some of my best contest feedback came from my lowest scoring entries - because judges took the time to tell me what I was doing wrong and how to do it right.

  11. Judi, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. Your series makes for great reading. I love your comments on cleaning. :0

    Carol, thanks for the award.

    Michele, thanks. I'm still working with the slide show trying to get it to work.

    Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by.

  12. Enjoyed the whole interview, but this-

    Q- The life of an author is believed by most to be mostly play rather than work. What's your take on this?

    A - Ha! Sit down and write one and then talk to me.

    LOL, true dat!

    The Old Silly

  13. I, too, was traumatized having to clean. those moms, I swear, slave drivers all. :-) I wish it was only Saturdays, unless dad was working then we did Saturdays,othersise weekends were relatively free except for *special* projects. Unfortunately, there were cleaning chotes everyday with 9 kids.

    "When the story flows out of your fingers faster than you can type, and you start laughing to yourself over something you came up with, yes, that is fun...But when the story isn’t working and you have to go back ten chapters and rip something out and rearrange, and re-write, and remove and redo…. That part isn’t fun."

    Judi, you already know I'm a devoted fan. I love all your books!

    Oh amen, Judi.

  14. Hmmm... clean the house or write?? I can let the dust bunnies battle it out :)

  15. Thank you Marvin!

    Hi Sia!

    Jemi - Dust Bunny Battles! I love it!

  16. Hi! Just popping by to say that I've posted about this guest blog (and contest) at Win A Book. No need to enter me in the contest, though.

  17. I've been enjoying this series and have been looking forward to the latest release!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.