Win a Signed Copy of A Manuscript

My friend, Dana Marton and I have put together a contest. Like both of our FaceBook author pages by April 30 at 5 eastern time and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of my Beauty and The Best manuscript, an ARC of Catch of a Lifetime, and a signed tote bag, plus bookmarks, excerpt booklets and other stuff.

My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Judi-Fennell/325890415256

Dana’s Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/DanaMarton

Fee free to share!

Fall in Love Like a Romance Author… I’m in this!!!

My friend and fellow Sourcebooks author, Amelia Grey, put together 67 romance authors for a book of true-life love stories, or what love means to each one. AND SHE ASKED ME TO PARTICIPATE!!!

I’m told my copy is shipping to me tomorrow and even though I wrote, and lived, the story I put in there, I canNOT wait to see it in print. Take a look at the gorgeous cover.

Maybe some day I’ll be a big enough name to make the front cover, but I’m just THRILLED to be a part of it all!

 

Here’s the blurb and list of authors:

 

Amelia Grey unveils the secrets to real romances from the masters of the fictional world.

This book goes beyond the fictional love stories to uncover the real romantic relationships of more than 60 beloved, bestselling romance novelists.

Linda Lael Miller, Mariah Stewart, Robyn Carr, Heather Graham, Karen Robards, Joan Johnston, Kat Martin, Pamela Morsi, Sabrina Jeffries, Eloisa James, Rachel Gibson, Susan Anderson, Bertrice Small, Jennifer Blake, Mary Balogh,Teresa Medeiros, Cathy Maxwell,Victoria Alexander, Laura Lee Guhrke, Mary Jo Putney, Jill Marie Landis, Meryl Sawyer, Stella Cameron, Stef Ann Holm, Elizabeth Hoyt, Kasey Michaels, Julianne MacLean, Loraine Heath, Gaelen Foley, Haywood Smith, Wendy Corsi Staub, Elizabeth Boyle, Christie Ridgeway, Jane Porter, Elizabeth Grayson, Amanda Scott, Gayle Callen, Annette Blair, Amanda McCabe, Jean Brashear, Suzanne Forster, Karen White, Stephanie Bond, Judith Arnold, Patricia Potter, Barbara Samuel, Dee Davis, Robin Lee Hatcher, Shana Galen, Leigh Greenwood, Deb Stover, Linda Wisdom, Jasmine Cresswell, Shirl Henk, Judi Fennell, Jo Ann Ferguson, Michele Ann Young, Nicola Cornick, Kate Austin, Geri Buckley Borcz, Cheryl Brooks, Nicole Byrd, Sharon Lathan, Jade Lee, Terry Spear, Jannine Corti Petska, and Ciji Ware tell about how they met the love of their lives, or how they made their love last through the years, or what they believe makes love and romance timeless. Some of the stories are heart-warming, some are inspiring, and others are filled with humor, but they are all sprinkled with that magical feeling of being in love.

Readers will enjoy glimpsing into the exclusive and private world of their favorite romance authors. Humorous, poignant, and entertaining from beginning to end, Fall In Love Like a Romance Writer reveals what it takes to have your own happily ever after, just like the ones your beloved writers are creating…and living.

on sale February 1!

 

Win $$$ – Kinda…

Sign up for Ellen Meister’s mailing list and you could win a $25 gift card!

Ellen Meister has an exciting new book coming out next year and she wants to keep you abreast of the news. So she has a special offer … sign up for her mailing list now and you will  automatically be entered in a drawing for a $25 amazon.com gift card.

Just click here, fill out the form, and remember to click through when you get the confirmation email. That’s it. Ellen only sends out a few updates a year, so you won’t be bombarded. Besides, I think you’ll want to hear about her breakthrough novel, THE OTHER LIFE (Putnam/2011), which is already getting great early buzz.
Pitched as “Jodi Picoult meets THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE,” THE OTHER LIFE tells the story of a suburban mom expecting her second child who discovers that she might be able to slip through a portal to the life she would have had if she never got married. When a routine sonogram reveals unexpected problems, her grief lures her to escape to the life that might have been …  in which she discovers that she stayed with her neurotic ex-boyfriend, and that her mother, who committed suicide several years before, is very much alive.

“Gripping! A truly fascinating story of love, loss, and a magical place in between.”
Beth Harbison, New York Times bestselling author of HOPE IN A JAR


“Intriguing, stimulating, original, unpredictable, frightening, utterly engaging–THE OTHER LIFE reminded me why I love to read. Ellen Meister is a writer with a limitless future.”
Michael Palmer, New York Times bestselling author of THE SECOND OPINION and THE LAST SURGEON


“In her riveting breakthrough novel, THE OTHER LIFE, gifted storyteller Ellen Meister doesn’t just peek in on a young mother who straddles between love and doubt, she blows it open with a story of one who straddles two parallel universes, each with its own perilous decisions. It is a brave and honest exploration of the precarious limits of motherhood that will make readers wonder if Meister followed them with a probe and felt their racing hearts and hopes. If you have ever second guessed the biggest decisions of your life (and who hasn’t), THE OTHER LIFE is a captivating homage to the question, does love conquer all?”
Saralee Rosenberg, author of DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD and FATE AND MS. FORTUNE


“Ellen Meister makes a big leap toward the literary in THE OTHER LIFE, a book where “What if” becomes the most powerful question in the world. This is the thinking woman’s beach read, a love story to the modern family, written with a deep and lovely understanding of mothers and daughters and the sacrifices they’ll make for each other.”
Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING


“THE OTHER LIFE is a provocative and unique tale of the road not taken. Ellen Meister puts a magical, masterful spin on one of my favorite questions: “What if?” What if you took both roads? You won’t want to miss this one!”

Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON


“I loved this emotional powerhouse of a novel that asks a daring “what if…” and manages to be as charming and funny as it is thoughtful and moving. Brava, Ellen Meister!”
Melissa Senate, author of SEE JANE DATE and THE SECRET OF JOY


Everyone She Loved -and You’ll Love This, Too

EVERYONE SHE LOVED By Sheila Curran Published by Atria Books ISBN: 1-4165-9066-8 Price: $25.00 On Sale Date: June 2009 http://www.simonandschuster.com

As many of you know, I am a part of a wonderful group of women who blog about each others’ books. We call ourselves the Girlfriends CyberCircuit. Today, I have Sheila Curran on to talk about her latest book, Everyone She Loved. The cover is right up my alley (beach!), and the press release is below.

But the REAL story is on Sheila’s blog and I encourage you all to take a jump over and read this.

http://sheilacurran.typepad.com/falling_down_the_blog/2010/03/the-olde-sod-sort-of.html

EVERYONE SHE LOVED,
by Sheila Curran, Author of Diana Lively Is Falling Down

Praise for Diana Lively Is Falling Down
“A gem.” –Booklist (starred review)
“Filled with characters who make you laugh out loud even as they break
your heart,this is a funny, warm, inventive, original book.”
–Jodi Picoult, author of Change of Heart

Books are born in strange places.  Sheila Curran’s latest was conceived in the front seat of a car while her friend drove and their daughters chatted in the backseat.  The women were discussing an article Curran had written about two young girls whose parents had died within months of each other.

While talking about the tragedy, Curran realized that choosing the perfect guardian for her kids—one that would raise them as she would–would be next to impossible.  Even tougher to swallow would be the possibility that if she died first, her husband might marry someone awful, and then she’d have no control at all.  Unless, she mused, she could get him to agree that if he remarried, her sisters and friends would have to agree to his choice of bride, just to prevent some wicked stepmother from moving in.

And thus was hatched the idea for EVERYONE SHE LOVED: A Novel (Atria Books; June 2009; Price: $25.00; ISBN: 978-1-4165-9066-8), an utterly engaging tale that explores the faith one woman placed in her dearest friends, the care she took to protect her family, and the many ways in which romantic entanglements can confound and confuse even the most determined of planners.

With wit and wisdom, EVERYONE SHE LOVED weaves a poignant tale about the abiding strength of friendship and the profound effect one person can have on another’s life.  Most important, it delivers a message about growing up and moving on while still embracing a transcendent legacy of love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The author of Diana Lively Is Falling Down, Sheila Curran lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with her husband and children.

www.sheilacurran.com

Winging It – You Won’t Want to Miss This One!

I first “met” Jenny Gardiner when she emailed me after seeing my GoLions87 persona online – “Is that Penn State?” she asked in an email. It was and she graduated from PSU and thus a friendship was born

Then, both of our manuscripts (Sleeping With Ward Cleaver for her, Beauty and The Best for me) were chosen for the third American Title Contest sponsored by Romantic Times Magazine and Dorchester Publishing. Jenny, the marketing queen, won the contest and I have to say, if you haven’t yet read Sleeping With Ward Cleaver, get thee to a bookstore and buy it. Laugh-out-loud funny and very poignant.

And now her second book is out and it’s just as laugh-out-loud funny; I was lucky enough to be one of her early readers and knew she’d sell this to some lucky publishing house. Well, Simon & Schuster is that lucky house and Winging It releases today.

Like many new bird owners, Jenny and Scott Gardiner hoped for a smart, talkative, friendly companion. Instead, as they took on the unexpected task of raising a curmudgeonly wild African grey parrot and a newborn, they learned an important lesson: parrothood is way harder than parenthood. WINGING IT: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me (Gallery Books; on sale March 16, 2010; Hardcover; $23.00), is a hilarious and poignant cautionary tale about two very different types of creatures, thrown together by fate, who learn to make the best of a challenging situation.

A gift from Scott’s brother who was living in Zaire, Graycie arrived scrawny, pissed – off, and missing a lot of her feathers. Every day became a constant game of chicken with a bird that would do anything to ruffle their feathers.

The old adage about not biting the hand that feeds you—literally—never applied to Graycie.

But Jenny and Scott learned to adapt as the family grew to three children, a menagerie of dogs and cats, and, of course, Graycie. WINGING IT is a laugh-out- loud funny and touching memoir, Jenny vividly shares many hazards of parrot ownership, from the endless avian latrine duty and the joyful day the bird learned to mimic the sound of the smoke detector, to multiple ways a beak can pierce human flesh.

Graycie is a court jester, a karaoke partner, an unusual audio record of their family history, and at times, a nemesis. But most of all, she has taught the family volumes about tolerance, going with the flow, and realizing that you can no sooner make your child fit into a mold than you can turn a wild parrot into a docile house pet.

WINGING IT reminds us of the importance of patience, loyalty, and humor when it comes to dealing with even the most unpleasant members of the family.

###

Here’s what people are saying:

“As sweet as a song and sharp as a beak, Winging It really soars as a memoir about family–children and husbands, feathers and fur–and our capacity to keep loving though life may occasionally bite.”
–Wade Rouse, bestselling author of At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, and Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler

“Jenny Gardiner’s hilarious memoir will have you alternately laughing and crying, and watching the skies for winged pets out for your blood.”

–Kristy Kiernan, Award-winning author of Catching Genius

“With her right-on humor, Jenny Gardiner manages to make owning a vengeful parrot sound like fun! You don’t even have to like pets to like this book.”

–Eve Brown-Waite
Author of FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA

“This funny, smart book is much more than a story about life with a challenging parrot. Jenny Gardiner writes with humor and grace about the challenges and joys and stresses of parenthood, too. I loved it.”

–Sarah Pekkanen
author of The Opposite of Me

Jenny and I are part of the Girfriends CyberCircuit, a group of 24 women who blog about each others’ books, and this week it’s her turn in the hot seat with the interview questions. Here goes:

Tell us about the inspiration behind Winging It.

This time around my book is a memoir, titled WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO’S DETERMINED TO KILL ME (Gallery Books). Think of it as David Sedaris meets Marley & Me, with a deadly beak. It’s about an African gray parrot with an attitude who arrived as a surprise Christmas gift the year we had our new baby. Life has never been the same.

The idea grew over many years. We got this parrot as a gift–my brother-in-law came back from Africa one Christmas with parrots for the family, and we ended up with the ornery one. And over the years, stories about her have become so legendary, she is such an entertaining thing (when she’s not being vicious). I have written about her for my newspaper column before and people were so interested in her. At dinner parties, she becomes the focus of everyone’s interest–we’ve had her now for almost 2 decades and people are always so entertained by her and stories about her, so I thought it would be fun to do a book. My sort of funny backstory is YEARS ago, I was sitting in a bat mitzvah, and I get really antsy when I’m a captive audience, especially when everything isn’t in a language I can remotely understand. So when I was sitting there for like 3-1/2 arduous hours (it was a high holiday so they had a huge service with it), I pulled out a notebook and pen and HANDWROTE four chapters of what would eventually become this book…

What is your author fantasy?

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be optioned and produced by Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen’s Flower Films. Or how about Nora Ephron.  Either of those would (sorry, I just have to say it) um, er, make my day...

(snork! Yeah, that’s so you.)

What is one of the nicest compliments that you have ever received about your book(s)?

For my novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, I received so many emails from women who were grateful that I put into words what they feel in their lives. I think the circumstances of my protagonist in that novel were so universal, yet it’s not something that’s often spoken about in such a truthful–or blatant–way. I loved that not only did they enjoy the book as a book, but they enjoyed the content and it helped them to think “Hey, I’m normal, this is just like other people!”

Oh, and the other fabulous compliment I received several times was reviewers and readers saying they peed their pants laughing when reading my book. That, to me, is high praise LOL

(Judi’s note: yeah, I was pretty close to doing that, too, and I was reading it in the same room as you – remember?)

Do you have a vice that you’ve given up, but long to continue?

Currently I’ve given up Mint M&Ms for Lent. And while I know I can go back to them (while the limited supply lasts!) in a few weeks, I’m disinclined to because it was a habit I needed to break. I did that last year with Peanut M&Ms and it seemed to stick. Though I think I just end up trading one bad habit for another.

What’s the promo machine looking like for this book?  Any upcoming signings/tours?

When my first novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, won a publishing contract in the American Title III contest (sort of an American Idol for books), I won that by surviving a 6-month period of online voting. What was wonderful about that was it really gave me a leg-up on marketing–particularly online marketing–a product that at the time wasn’t even a tangible book one could buy. But I guess you’d call me an “early adapter” LOL to capitalizing on the internet as a marketing tool. So I do try to maximize my online presence as much as possible, especially because with a family it’s hard to technically “tour” when  book comes out. I do do plenty of appearances and signings, try to do as many book festivals as I can afford, and do whatever media appearances as possible.

I’m appearing on a panel and signing at the Virginia Festival of the Book, in fact, March 21. I’ve got a signing at Fountain Books in Richmond, VA, on April 8, and at the Barnes & Noble, Tyson’s Corner, VA, on April 16. I’m also at the PennWriters Conference in Lancaster, PA in mid-May. We’re setting up other events still.

For you, what is the most difficult part of being an author?

The time it takes to market and publicize oneself. I don’t mind marketing and publicizing, but I’d way rather be just focusing on writing books, and rue the day that this became so much more the onus of the author. I understand why it is that way, but wasn’t it a beautiful thing in this country when those with an area of expertise were able to take care of that end of things, rather than nowadays when it seems that everyone is expected to do everything themselves? There was a time when people didn’t pump their own gas–remember that? And you hired someone to come fix things, rather than trying to patch it together yourself. Ah, but I digress…

What’s next for you?

Writing, writing writing. I’ve got a proposal to put together for my next non-fiction book, I’ve got an agent and editor awaiting a book I’m writing right now, and so many other ideas I’d love to start writing.

Thanks, Jenny! My copy of Winging It just arrived yesterday so now all I need is some free time (what’s that?) to get to reading it! Can’t wait!

Here’s a link to Gracie  – you can hear her in all her glory. And I can attest to what a great mimic she is – she really has Jenny’s laugh and voice down pat!

Graycie video:
and raw footage of Graycie talking:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq1yurbbcqY

and Jenny talking about the book:

and relevant links: http://www.jennygardiner.net/
blog: http://jennygardiner.net/blog/

Find the book here:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Winging-Memoir-Caring-Vengeful-Determined/dp/1439157618/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268078846&sr=8-1
Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Winging-It/Jenny-Gardiner/e/9781439157619
IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781439157619

Jenny Gardiner is also the author of the award – winning novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, and the Washington Post. She writes a column of humorous essays for Charlottesville, Virginia’s newspaper, the Daily Progress. She lives in central Virginia with her family.

Are you Everyone Else’s Girl? Or your own person?

Meredith does things for other people. She irons clothes for her boyfriend, she attends her ex-best friend’s horrendous hen party for her brother (who’s about to marry the girl) and she moves back to her parents’ house to look after her dad when his leg is broken. She’s a good girl and that matters. But when she gets back home, all is not as Meredith remembered. Especially Scott, that geeky teenager from her old class at school. He’s definitely different now. And so, it seems, is she. One by one, her family and old friends start to tell her some home truths and Meredith begins to realise she’s not so perfect after all. Maybe it is time she stopped being everyone else’s girl and started living for herself…

Praise for Everyone Else’s Girl:

“Megan Crane rules! Cancel your evening plans: You won’t want to stop reading until you’ve devoured every delicious word.”
—Meg Cabot

“Amusing, heartfelt and emotionally sophisticated chick-lit.” —Kirkus

“Crane prevails with refreshingly real human emotions and reactions. In this book, actions have consequences, and no one gets off easy, despite appearances.” —RT BookClub

“I suspect a lot of readers were like me – desperately seeking fiction with a romantic edge, realistic stories, and smart writing (oh, for more smart writing).

I suspect a lot of readers were like me and dropped out of chicklit game because finding the good was damn hard work. I dedicate this review to those readers. There is hope…Everyone Else’s Girl is a good book.” —Kassia Krozser at paperbackreader.com

About Megan Crane:

USA Today bestselling author Megan Crane has written five women’s fiction novels, many work-for-hire young adult novels, and five category romances (under the name Caitlin Crews) since publishing her first book in 2004. Her novel, Frenemies, was a BookSense Notable in July 2007. She teaches various creative writing classes both online at mediabistro.com and offline at UCLA Extension’s prestigious Writers’ Program, where she finally utilizes her MA and PhD in English Literature.  Megan lives in Los Angeles with her comic book artist/animator husband and too many pets. For more info visit her at www.megancrane.com or http://www.caitlincrews.com.

You can find Megan on Twitter: http://twitter.com/megancrane

At her journal: http://megancrane.livejournal.com/

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/megan.crane

An excerpt from Everyone Else’s Girl is here: http://www.megancrane.com/eeg.html

You can buy the book here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Everyone-Elses-Girl-Megan-Crane/dp/1849162123/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266772251&sr=8-4

Tell me a little about your book.

Everyone Else’s Girl is the story of Meredith, who must learn to grow up while stuck in her childhood home.

What got you writing in the genre in which you write?

I started writing chick lit/women’s fiction because I was living in England at the time and had discovered Anna Maxted and Marian Keyes, and I thought: yes.  And then: I wonder if I could do something like that?  I’d grown up on romance novels and the first person, confessional tone was like a light being switched on for me.  I had to try.

Favorite thing about being a writer?
I get to make up stories in my head, and then tell them, and make my living that way.  It’s more than a dream come true.  And I don’t, in fact, need algebra, as I told my math teacher in high school long ago!

Least favorite thing about being a writer?
The blank page is usually filled with all my doubts and fears, and that’s not a whole lot of fun to sift through to get to the words I need to write.  And you can never really take a vacation, because the work is always in your head.  And I become a little bit of a crazy person as a deadline approaches.  But I wouldn’t give any of it up.

Which comes easier for you – beginnings or endings?
Definitely beginnings.  I like to launch myself into the beginning and write until I hit a wall, then go back and figure out what I’m doing.

How many drafts until the final draft?
I am one of those desperately linear writers, who can’t go forward if I know what’s behind me is a big mess.  So I usually write the day’s words, then set it aside to pick up and read the next morning.  I revise it before starting the next day’s writing.  So when I have a full draft, it’s usually pretty tight, and then I go over that at least once or twice.  So…  three?

What is one thing you’ve learned about the publishing industry since getting your first book deal?
There is writing, and then there is publishing, and there is only one part of that I can control: the writing.

What is your advice for those who looking to get their novel  published?
Just write.  No one can tell your story the way you can, and no one will get to read it until you write it.

What’s your favorite food?
Chocolate.  Seriously.  I’m a complete addict.  I like it dark, rich, and life-altering.

Do you have a muse, good luck charm, writing vice?
I am pretty sure my extremely fat and ill-behaved cats feel that they are both muses and charms; they are not.  I don’t really have either, I don’t think.  Though I have written every single one of my books on this very same desk, and I’m kind of attached to it, if that counts.

What’s your writing process/writing environment like?
I’m pretty fierce about my daily word quotas, which are really the only way I can write as much as I do.  (I wrote five books last year and will write at least four this year.) I usually write 2,000 words a day–although at a certain point last fall I had to write 3000 a day to hit a particular deadline, and I found that dizzyingly difficult.  The internet is my greatest time-waster.  I’m starting to use Mac Freedom to turn it off for stretches here and there, because I can’t be trusted–and I will often look up to see that hours have passed and there I am reading Jezebel and hitting refresh on Twitter…  Not good.

I have written all my books (I’m on number 15!) on the same desk, which I’m a little superstitious about these days.  It’s currently located in the office I share with my husband, overlooking a pretty sweep of trees and mountains and the Hollywood sign here in Los Angeles.  It’s filled with books and pictures, and somehow, helps the words come.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten about writing?
Just do it.  Just write.  Everything else is smoke and mirrors.
Thanks, Megan, for stopping by! Best of luck on all your hard work! And don’t ever think of getting rid of that desk!

Wanna Go For a Drive?

Award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is on the air at Boston’s NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in restitution. Along with her 26 EMMYs, Hank’s won dozens of other journalism honors. She’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine working with Hunter S. Thompson.

Her first mystery, the best-selling PRIME TIME, won the Agatha for Best First Novel. It was also was a double RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense Novel, and a Reviewers’ Choice Award Winner. FACE TIME and the new AIR TIME are IMBA bestsellers. DRIVE TIME, February 2010 from MIRA Books, just earned a starred review from Library Journal. Hank is on the national board of Mystery Writers of America.

AIR TIME was just nominated for an AGATHA for Best Novel of 2009  http://www.HankPhillippiRyan.com and my short story “On the House” was also nominated–for the AGATHA for Best Short Story of 2009!

Her website is http://www.HankPhillippiRyan.com

“Sassy, fast-paced and appealing. First-class entertainment.”   **Sue Grafton

“I love this series!”

**Suzanne Brockmann

Hank Phillippi Ryan knows the television business entirely, she understands plotting and she writes beautifully. No wonder I loved Drive Time. Anyone would.”

**Robert B. Parker  author of Spenser for Hire

Hank is giving away two books to two lucky commenters. Leave a comment here by February 25 and win your choice!

DRIVE TIME

Investigative reporter Charlotte McNally is an expert at keeping things confidential, but suddenly everyone has a secret, and it turns out it may be possible to know too much. Charlie’s latest TV scoop–an expose of a dangerous recalled car scam complete with stakeouts, high-speed chases and hidden-camera footage–is ratings gold. But soon that leads her to a brand new and diabolical scheme (incredibly timely!) that could put every driver in danger.

Charlie’s personal and professional lives are on a collision course, too. Her fiancé is privy to information about threats at an elite private school that have suddenly turned deadly.

Charlie has never counted on happy endings. But now, just as she’s finally starting to believe in second chances, she realizes revenge, extortion and murder might leave her alone again. Or even dead. Emmy and Agatha award winning reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan proves that when everyone has a secret, the real mystery is knowing when to tell.

Tell us about Drive Time.

DRIVE TIME is about secrets.  TV reporter Charlie McNally’s working on a story about a dangerous  scheme that could absolutely happen…and let me just say, if you own a car, or rent a car, you’ll never look at your vehicle the same way after reading DRIVE TIME. In fact, after writing the book, I now get a bit creeped out when I go into a parking garage. That’s all I‘ll say.

Charlie’s also drawn into another frightening situation—this one at the prep school where her fiancé is an English professor. When Charlie learns a secret that might put her step-daughter-to-be in danger, and might also be an blockbuster investigative story—how does she balance her loyalty to her husband-to-be—with her need to protect the public?

So this is a tough one for Charlie. And she must make many life-changing decisions. Just when she begins to think she might be able to have it all—a terrific career and a new husband and a new life–revenge, extortion and murder may bring it all to a crashing halt.

DRIVE TIME just got a fabulous starred review from Library Journal. Just a snippet of the rave: “Placing Ryan in the same league as Lisa Scottoline…her latest book catapults the reader into the fast lane and doesn’t relent until the story careens to a stop. New readers will speed to get her earlier books, and diehard fans will hope for another installment.”

And dear Robert B. Parker’s quote is on the cover—he says “I loved DRIVE TIME!”

Growing up, did you ever think you’d be an investigative reporter?

Definitely—not. You know, I have a funny juxtaposition of desire to be in the spotlight—and sheer terror of being in the spotlight. I love my job in TV—and have to go live and unrehearsed al the time. Confession: I’m still terrified every time. I want to be perfect, and when you’re on live, you can’t possibly be. That’s one reason why I love investigative reporting—there’s more time to work, and dig, and polish, and produce, It’s like making a little movie, and I can make it as perfect as possible.

Anyway, my sisters and I used to create musical shows when we were all young, and perform for our parents in our back yard. I did acting in high school and college. I wanted to be a DJ on the radio for a long time!  But I thought I would be an English teacher, or a lawyer for the Mine Workers union, or for awhile, a political activist.

(My mother, though, says she always knew I would be a television reporter—but I think that was just her way of rationalizing that all I did as a pre-teen and teenager was read books and watch TV.)

I knew from my first Nancy Drew that I loved mysteries. Nancy was my first best friend—I was a geeky unpopular kid, and it was such a relief to go home and hang out with Nancy. She was smart, and made it be okay to be smart. She was confident and inquisitive and resourceful. I loved that.  But being a TV reporter was not in my sights. Little did I know!

2.      How did you get started in that type of journalism?

I got into TV by chance. I had worked as a radio reporter (hired because, as I informed the radio station, they didn’t have any women working at the station! Hey. It was the seventies.)  But after a few years working in Washington DC (on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide and then for Rolling Stone Magazine,) Rolling Stone closed its Washington office and I needed a new job.

I went back home to Indianapolis, and applied for a job as a TV reporter. It was 1975. I had covered politics in Washington, and the news director of the station figured he could teach me to be a TV reporter. (This was incredibly risky—I had never taken journalism and didn’t know one thing about TV. But I wasn’t afraid and I knew I could do it.)

Problem was, I should have been afraid! I quickly learned I had no idea what I was doing. I went home every night for the first two weeks, sobbing. Because I thought I would never understand it. Soon after—it hit me–oh, I get it! And I have adored it ever since. I took a chance, and found my calling.

I started as the political reporter (and was also the movie reviewer, of all things! At age 26.)  At various times I’ve been the medical reporter, a weekend anchor, and an on the road feature reporter.  When I came to Boston, I was the funny feature reporter–cat shows, sports features, poems, and anything quirky or funny. They used to call me “something out of nothing productions,” because I could find a story in anything.

But starting in 1988, I covered the presidential election, doing long elaborate think pieces. It was terrific. And then I told my news director I didn’t want to be the funny one anymore. I wanted to be the serious one. And from that day on, I’ve been the investigative reporter.

And I love it every day.

3.      When I was reading about all the things you’ve done as a reporter… like being chased by criminals, confronting corrupt politicians, etc, it’s almost like immersing myself in a nail biting novel. Have any of these experiences found their way into your books?

There’s a huge been-there-done-that element to the books—I’ve wired myself with hidden cameras, confronted corrupt politicians, chased down criminals…been in disguise, been stalked, and threatened and had many a door slammed in my face. I’ve had people confess to murder, and others, from prison, insist they were innocent.  So when that happens to Charlie, it’s fair to imagine me. Although the plots are completely from my imagination, those are real-life experiences!

4.      How did the character of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ McNally come about?

What a great question. I have NO idea. She was born when I got a weird spam in my email. It was what looked like lines from a play by Shakespeare.  I thought–why would someone send a spam like that?  And it crossed my mind–maybe it’s a secret message.

I still get goose bumps telling you about it. And I knew, after all those years of wanting to write a mystery, that was my plot. And that turned out to be the Agatha-winning PRIME TIME. But Charlie? Well, I knew I had a good story, but who would tell it? A television reporter, of course. And she just instantly popped into my head. Named, fully formed. I knew her perfectly.

The other characters were more difficult to get to know. But now, Charlie surprises me a lot! And I love when that happens.

5.      Is she anything like you? Has she ever done anything you wouldn’t do to get your story?

When my husband talks about Charlie, he calls her “you.” As in—when “you” are held at gunpoint, when you track down the bad guys, when you solve the mystery… and I have to remind him, “Sweetheart, it’s fiction. It didn’t really happen.”

But a couple of things: I’ve been a TV reporter for more than 30 years. (Yes, really.) And so it would be silly, in writing a mystery about TV, not to use my own experiences. Think about it—as a TV reporter, you can never be wrong! Never be one minute late. Never choose the wrong word or miscalculate. You can never have a bad hair day, because it’ll be seen by millions of people! It’s high-stakes and high-stress—literally, people’s lives at stake–and I really wanted to convey that in the books.

And everything that TV people do and say in the books is authentic and genuine. (Of course, Charlie can say things I can’t say, and reveal things I can’t reveal.) We’re both devoted journalists, and over-focused on our jobs.

But Charlotte McNally is different, too. She’s single—I’m happily married. She’s ten years younger than I am, and so is facing different choices and dilemmas. She’s braver than I am, certainly. Funnier. And a much better driver.

6.      You’ve got four books under your belt, you’ve won an Agatha, and been compared to Lisa Scottoline. Will there come a time when you say goodbye to journalism to focus full time on your fiction?

Ain’t that the question! I still smile in delight every time I see my Agatha teapot. And when the starred review in Library Journal for DRIVE TIME compared me to Lisa Scottoline, well, I burst into tears. But I still love my job in TV. So–you could ask me that question every day, and every day I’d have a different answer. And I guess the bottom line is: who knows?

7.      Any plans to write a non Charlotte McNally novel?

Yup. Absolutely. It’s in the works. You heard it here first.

8.      Any other genre you want to tackle?

Yup.  :-)  It’s in the works. You heard it here first.

9.      Your husband’s a criminal defense attorney. Does he read your work or give you any tips or even ideas for plots?

He’s the most patient man on the planet. Yes, he’s really the only person who reads my pages while they’re in process. When I first started writing PRIME TIME, I’d give hi my five pages or so a day, and I’d hear him laughing and I was so delighted!  And he would tell me every day how terrific it was. Then, about fifty pages in, I went in for my daily pat on the back. And he had a funny look on his face.  “Honey?” he asked. “Is something going to happen soon?”  So I knew I had some work to do.

Ideas for plots? Ah, no, not really. I’m always running ideas by him, to see if he thinks they’re plausible and believable.  And sometimes he’ll come up with just the perfect little thing I need to pull something together. But we think very differently. He’s much more–wedded to reality.

11.   You’ve won accolades from some of the top writers in the business including some of my favorite authors like Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton. Any tips you can offer for writing top notch mysteries and creating a great character like Charlie?

Well, thank you! Yes, it’s great, and Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton are my idols. (They’re also wonderfully generous, and truly authentic. I have three little talismans on my desk that Sue Grafton gave me, and I look at them every day.)

Tips? Well, I read an interview with the poet Anne Sexton some time ago–and she was asked, “What, truly, can a creative writing teacher give her students?” And her answer was:” Courage.”  I think that’s so wonderful. And I think my advice would be similar–just don’t be afraid. Fear is a waste of time. Write your book. One page at a time. You can do it.

12.   Any mistakes you’ve made along the way, have you learned anything from them?

Hah. That’s another long blog for another day. Mistakes? Ah, on a huge level, people always yell at me for working all the time. ALL the time. Is that a mistake? None of this would have happened without that. Would I change it? I have to say no. So is that a mistake? I’m not sure.  On a tiny level, I should have put together a mailing list of bookstores. Still haven’t done that. Wish I had.

13.   What’s next for you?

Exactly what I’m trying to figure out. DRIVE TIME came out February 1, with fantastic blurbs from the much-missed and iconic Robert B. Parker and Suzanne Brockmann and Margaret Maron and Carla Neggers and a rave starred review from Library Journal. So I’m hoping people love it. (And I’ll be visiting lots of places across the US–hope some of our readers come visit!) And then…we’ll see. I can’t tell you how excited I am.

Thanks so much, Hank, for parking it here for a few minutes.

Check out Hank’s other books:

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