It's JUNE!!! I'm excited to finally be at this point in the year and looking forward to sharing with you all kinds of great book stuff. The Girlfriends Cyber Circuit has three tours over the next few weeks (starting today!) PLUS I've got something extra-special planned for the end of the month: AustenFest on Brant Flakes, which will be a week packed with guest visits, virtual tea and scones and several very real book giveaways!!!
More on that soon but, first, congrats to the winners of my May contest on winning an According to Jane t-shirt:
YAY!! (If I don't have your snail mail address, please email it to me here: marilynbrant AT gmail DOT com -- thanks!)
Today, I'm pleased to have Judi Fennell with me to celebrate the release of her debut novel IN OVER HER HEAD (Sourcebooks), a book Romantic Times called "A delightful underwater adventure...full of good-natured humor and fun. A strong first effort by a promising new talent." Wow--nice review! It's the story of Erica Peck, a terrified-of-the-ocean marina owner who finds herself at the bottom of the sea conversing with a Mer man named Reel. She thinks she's died and gone to her own version of Hell, especially when the Oceanic Council demands she and Reel retrieve a lost cache of diamonds from the resident sea monster in return for their lives... Welcome, Judi! It's great to have you here :).
1. New readers want to know about your book! Can you tell us the basic premise? He's a merman and she's terrified of the ocean. Talking animals, scary villains, gods, diamonds and sea monsters. And a happily ever after.
2. What's one scene from this story you loved writing and why did it excite you? I loved the action scene at the end. Orchestrating the fight, ramping up the tension, my fingers flew over the keyboard. Then there was the emotional impact and the black moment... Those pages just whipped themselves across the screen.
3. Name a few of your favorite musical artists/groups. Did you use any musical references in your novel? If so, do they play a significant role? I like a lot of different kinds of music. If I do use musical references in my work it's because they're cultural references rather than because they're musical. Unlike many authors, I don't have soundtracks with these stories. I need to write to music that blocks out extraneous sounds/activities so that I can focus on the story. If it's got words, I'm singing along and that's not good. I really enjoyed playing a sounds of the sea hour-long track. Just the rolling waves, the sounds of seabirds, a fog horn... really put me in the mood for writing under the sea stories.
4. I've never been able to choose just one favorite food, but do you have a clear preference? My favorite meal is steak and homefries with Green Giant white shoepeg corn in butter sauce, with a glass of champagne and a piece of homemade apple pie and vanilla ice cream. And yes, I love to cook it and my steak, homefries and apple pie are my favorite. I love to eat, that's never been a secret. Now if only I had my twenty-year-old metabolism... (Oh, yum!!)
5. Who was the first person you told when you got The Call announcing you'd sold your first novel? I called my critique partner after I got off the phone with my future-editor when she told me she was taking it in to the editorial meeting. My husband was second - he says he always knew I'd get published and I needed someone to squee with me. When I called him next he said, "Of course she's going to buy it." It's wonderful to have that kind of support, but for squeeing, nothing beats your critique partner who "gets" it.
6. What's your Writer Fantasy--i.e., to see your book make into a feature film, to be on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 consecutive weeks, etc.? How about all of the above? Why not? It happens to others, why can't it happen for me? More realistically, I want to be able to keep writing and having books on the shelves. I want a nice backlist and to be able to put full-time author in that Occupation blank on forms. (LOL, Judi! I hope all of the above happens for you!)
7. Would your high school friends be surprised to discover you'd become a novelist? I sold a few months before my high school reunion so by the time I went to the reunion I had cover art which I loaded on my cell phone. That picture made the rounds and people were excited to hear that I'm going to have books out. And many of them remembered making fun of me for reading all the romance novels throughout my school years. :) They now realize what all those Romances did for me.
8. What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication? Never give up. The one way to ensure you'll never be published is to stop writing/submitting.
9. Do your neighbors/hometown acquaintances know you're a published author or did you just choose to tell those closest to you? I was involved in three online American-Idol-like contests, starting with Romantic Times' American Title Contest, then Gather.com's original First Chapters Contest and then their First Chapters Romance Contest. I finaled in all of them due to my friends and neighbors because I needed votes to get me there, so it's no secret that I wanted to do this. They are all thrilled that I've finally done it (maybe because they won't have to vote for me anymore, but I choose to believe it's because they like me) and are looking forward to the release.
10. What's a personality trait you love about one of the characters in your novel and why? I love that Erica won't go down without a fight. She's terrified of being in the ocean, but she figures out a way to deal with her ex-boyfriend's demands. When she has to do what The Council wants, she's fully planning on getting herself out of it. And when the situation turns her world upside down, she steels herself against her fear and ends up saving herself. I like that about her because I'm the kind of person where, if you tell me I can't do something--and it's something I really want to do--I'm going to do it. (Exactly the kind of determination most writers need to withstand the slings and arrows of this industry, eh? :)
By the way, Judi is raffling off three romantic beach getaway weekends to celebrate the releases of her first three books, along with the Atlantis Inn and the Hibiscus House bed and breakfasts. Contest details are on her website!