Monday, June 1, 2009

"In Over Her Head" by Judi Fennell

Judi Fennell is my guest today as part of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Blog Tour. Judi writes fairy tales with a twist and Publishers Weekly has called her novel, In Over Her Head "A playful debut with sincere wit." A whimsical romp about a marina owner with a fear of the ocean who meets up with a merman at the bottom of the sea, paving the way for the adventure of a lifetime, this is the first of a three-part series published by Sourcebooks and is available now.

Judi has worked hard to achieve her dream of becoming a published writer by entering a number of online contests and being active in writers’ organizations like the RWA. She stopped by to answer a few questions about her writing life.

What is one thing you’ve learned about the publishing industry since getting your first book deal?
That it only gets tougher. All of a sudden, writing the book is the easy part. Then there's the promo, the interviews, time management, deadlines, looking toward the next book/contract, and THEN the reviews come in. :) But a whole lot of us are working towards this so obviously the pay-offs are way better than the bad stuff.

How do you approach writing your novel? Do you outline the plot? Start with a character or...?

I usually have an idea or an opening sentence, or the black moment or a character. I put it on paper/the screen and run from there. I'm a pantzer so I don't tend to do a plot outline, but I usually do have an idea where the story is going, so I can craft a synopsis. Of course, the characters don't necessarily want to adhere to that synopsis and that's when the fun starts. LOL. I do love following them through their world, especially when it comes at me so fast that I have a hard time keeping up with the typing. You should see the first run-through of those scenes. They typing is horrific, the spelling atrocious, the formatting all over the place... but it's out there and that feels so good.

What is the elevator pitch for In Over Her Head?
He's a merman and she's afraid of the ocean. This is invariably followed by the question, "So how do mermen have sex?" My answer? "You're going to have to read the book, but think of your mythology." Do they really expect me to spill the beans on that? :)

What is your writing schedule like?
Schedule? I'm supposed to have a schedule? It's more like, when am I living the rest of my life. With deadlines as close as mine are, I'm always writing. And if not writing, I'm doing promo. Or thinking about writing.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

You mean I'm not supposed to be writing? If I'm not writing, I like to read. I like some reality television, and I like to do some gardening, travel with my family, but usually, I'm reading.

Describe how you got your first book deal.

Deb Werksman, my editor, and I got to know each other at conferences and she said she wanted to make something work for us. She had In Over Her Head on her desk, but learned at the Long Island Luncheon that I had partials for the next two stories. I sent them to her the following Monday and less than a month later she called me that she wanted the series. A month to the date since I sent her the partials, I accepted the deal. Then the wonderful folks at RWA worked like crazy to get me my pink ribbon for my First Sale at National - they were shipping everything out the next day. That was so nice of them and I had a blast walking around with that pink ribbon. I have it framed in a shadow box, along with a cork from a bottle of champagne my Wombat friends (an online group) bought for me.

What is your advice for those who looking to get their novel published?
First, learn craft. Second, join a critique group. Third, don't give up. Ever. Not if you're committed to this. Fourth, network. Learn who the industry people are and foster a working relationship with them. Learn who's looking for what, who likes what, etc. even if you have an agent. I liken this whole getting published thing to becoming a doctor or a lawyer (or any other profession). You wouldn't expect to be able to walk into an operating room or courtroom and do a heart transplant or murder trial without having the necessary background. Same thing with publishing. Have the tools and knowledge at your disposal. ALL of the tools, from the creative side and the business side.

What and where is your favorite restaurant and why is it your favorite?

Outback Steakhouse. I love steak and Outback has great prime rib and wonderful sides. And that Chocolate Thunder From Down Under? I'm so there!

So let’s put some steaks on the barbie and then hop on over to Judi’s site where you can enter a fabulous contest to win a romantic getaway to a charming bed-and-breakfast in Ocean City, New Jersey or West Palm Beach, Florida. I already have my bags packed.

Thanks, Judi!


Judi Fennell said...

Thanks, Wendy, for having me!

Wendy Tokunaga said...

Thanks, Judi. Best of luck with your book!

Kathy Holmes said...

What a fun interview and fun-sounding book. Just found this today - am getting behind in my blog reading.