A Jewel of a Novel



Berkley Sensation
February 3, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-425-22551-6

The earl of Banallt is no stranger to scandal. But when he meets Sophie Evans, the young wife of a fellow libertine, even he is shocked by his reaction. This unconventional and intelligent woman proves to be far more than an amusing distraction– she threatens to drive him to distraction. Unlike the women who usually fall at Banallt’s feet, and into his bed, Sophie refuses to be seduced. And soon Banallt desires her more than ever– and for more than an illicit affair.

Years later, the widowed Sophie is free, and Banallt is determined to win the woman he still loves. Unfortunately, she doesn’t believe his declaration of love and chivalrous offer of marriage– her heart has already been broken by her scoundrel of a husband. And yet, Sophie is tempted to indulge in the torrid affair she’s always fantasized about. Caught between her logical mind and her long-denied desire, Sophie must thwart Banallt’s seduction– or risk being consumed by the one man she should avoid at all costs…



An intense, beautiful love story and a most rewarding read.
–Sherry Thomas, bestselling author of Delicious.

Jewel plays readers’ emotions like a virtuoso, ensuring they will eagerly follow her characters into dramatic, intensely passionate and gripping love stories that will steal your heart and make you beg for more. She grabs you at the first word and never lets go.
– Kathe Robin, Romantic Times

…there’s a richness and a poignancy that elevates the entire book to a whole other level of “good.” It’s impossible to sum up this book in mere tropes. It’s a story of two people who had to grow up to appreciate each other, and it’s a story of survival and strength, trust and renewal. The characters are older than the standard hero and heroine you encounter in romance. It’s difficult to read at times, and bleak in others, but throughout, both in the past and the present of the story, Jewel weaves a furious sexual tension between Banallt and Sophie that reaches and maintains scorching levels. . . . This book took my breath away.
– Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books

WOW. Simply, wow. That is the only word I can use to describe this masterpiece. It has been such a long time since I have read such a rich, emotional and tension filled romance. Not only did Scandal have me hooked from the very first page, but this is the first book, in a very long time, where I had to read straight through into the wee hours of the night because I couldn’t put it down. When an author can write such a book, that book is destined for greatness. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scandal becomes one of the favorites of 2009, and perhaps placed on most reader’s lists for all time favorite historical. … Scandal is a must read book that should not be passed by. Carolyn Jewel has written a mature and emotional romance that has everything from passion, love and most importantly respect. The respect that a man and woman can have for one another.
– Kate Garrabrant, Romance Novel TV

Readers looking for a deeply emotional and very well-written book will love this one. I have a certain weakness for flawed but redeemable characters, and this tale very much hit the spot. I cannot wait to see more historicals from this author in the future.
– Lynn Spencer, All About Romance


Judi: Carolyn, I love reading historicals and am in awe of all the research. What’s the main thing you hope people take away from your book?
Carolyn: A burning and insatiable desire to buy my backlist and everything else I ever write for the rest of my life. And to tell everyone they know to do the same thing. OK, seriously, I just hope they enjoy the heck out of the story.

Judi: Ha! So what is your Writer Fantasy–i.e., to see your book make into a movie, to be on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 consecutive weeks, etc.?
Carolyn: Hmm. My fantasies typically involve Adrian Paul or Jet Li. But I could live with 40 weeks on the NYT bestseller list. If I had to.

Judi: What’s one piece of writing advice you’ve found valuable on your journey to publication?
Carolyn: Dorothea Brande’s section of Tapping the Unconscious in “Becoming A Writer” which included this warning; “If you fail repeatedly at this exercise, give up writing. Your resistance is actually greater than your desire to write and you may as well find some other outlet for your energy early as late.” Alas, I failed miserably and repeatedly at her free-writing exercise. It seems I am a no-talent amateur with delusions of grandeur. I can’t explain my ten (counting through the end of 2009) published novels, given this failure. I think I
must be a freak of some sort.

Brande’s book taught me that writing advice can, and possibly should, be ignored. Writers follow different paths to success and one path is never more valid than another. What works for me may not work for you and there’s nothing wrong with that. The point is to actually go out and find what works for you.

Judi: So what inspired this book?
Carolyn: Terror. I’m only partly kidding. Just about all my books are inspired by the terror of believing it isn’t working and that, working or not, I won’t be able to finish on time. More seriously, Scandal is set during the English Regency period (which was 1811-1820) and I very deliberately drew on my grad school research on a woman who wrote during this time
period. Women of the English upper classes had few resources if the men in their lives did not, for whatever reason, fulfill their cultural obligation to take care of their female relatives. Writing novels was one of the few things a woman could do, openly or secretly, to make money. I was astonished to discover that the money a novelist could expect to make in 1815 isn’t much different than it is today. The chief difference between then and now lies in the copyright. In 1815, publishers bought the copyright outright. The author was paid once and that was it. Today, authors typically retain the copyright to their work.

Judi: What’s up next? Do you have another project in the works?
Carolyn: In June, 2009, Grand Central Publishing will release My Forbidden Desire, the second of an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance set in a world
that includes mages and demons. Indiscreet will be an October 2009 historical from Berkley Sensation.


Judi: And, finally, everyone always wants to know, what’s the most glamorous thing you’ve ever done since becoming a writer?
Carolyn: HAHAHAHAHA! The dishes?

Authors in Action!


From Monday, January 19 through Monday, January 26, I’m joining a group of authors and Romantic Inks in an online auction to help out a deserving family, by offering a signed ARC (advanced reading copy) of my debut novel, In Over Her Head (click here to go right to my page). (Five months before it hits the stores!)

Katy is a sixteen year old avid reader and aspiring author and illustrator who has won local awards for her artwork. Just before Christmas, Katy and her mother became homeless. They were evicted from their apartment and have been living in hotel rooms (when they’ve been lucky) or their car (when they’ve not been so lucky) since then.

Katy has been blogging about life on the streets, and you can read all about how this incredibly sweet mother and daughter ended up in this situation here: http://destinationanywherebuthere.blogspot.com/ and see the video here: http://destinationanywherebuthere.blogspot.com/2009/01/nbc-video-and-so-far.html

As Katy states on her blog, “Homelessness has many faces. And sometimes it happens to have a computer.” Both Katy and her mother seem to have very positive outlooks, but it’s clear they’re in some real trouble.

That’s where this auction comes in. All proceeds will go toward helping Katy and her mother get back on their feet. This is a pair that are actively looking for ways to improve their situation, and just need a little push to help them get there. So, please bid generously and know that you’re doing a wonderful thing to help two wonderful people.

Here is the link to the auction page: http://romanticinks.com/auction/

Thanks so much for taking part in this, and please, pass this along to your friends.



My Very First Look at In Over Her Head


 FIRST OFFICIAL: Look at my book!

I’m going to be participating in an online auction to benefit a homeless family and I’ll be auctioning off an ARC (advanced reading copy) of In Over Her Head (a full four and a half months before it shows up in book stores). Today my copy arrived and thrilled just doesn’t begin to cover the emotions. For a writer to say the feeling is indescribable should give you some idea.

Jack With A Twist Anyone?


I first “met” Brenda on Gather.com during the First Chapters contest, when she was promoting her book, SCOT ON THE ROCKS. I was thrilled when she joined the Girlfriends blog tour.
Brenda is the author of JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school) and SCOT ON THE ROCKS (How I survived my ex-boyfriend’s wedding with my dignity ever so slightly intact), as well as the short story BASED ON A TRUE STORY. You can learn more about Brenda at http://www.brendajanowitz.com and check out her blog at http://www.brendajanowitz.blogspot.com.

Judi: Tell us about your latest release and the inspiration behind it.

Brenda: JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school) is the story of Manhattan attorney Brooke Miller, who plans the wedding of her dreams, all while litigating the biggest case of her career…. which just so happens to be against her perfect fiancé. Hilarity ensues. Really. Marian Keyes called it “a funny, sweet romance” and Carole Matthews said it was “[a]nother fun-filled page-turner from Brenda.” Ironically, I wrote JACK before even getting engaged myself!

Judi: When deadlines hit, what happens in your house?

Brenda: Nothing, really. I’m usually done with my work about a week before my deadlines. I’m sure it’s becaue of my former life as a lawyer, but I just like to be totally prepared and way ahead of my deadlines.

Judi: Do you put your friends in your books? Names, incidents, characteristics? Have any of them recognized themselves in a not-so-good way?

Brenda: Oh, yes! I usually have a lot of fun with this! In fact, I did a guest blog about this very topic over on Editor Unleashed! [http://editorunleashed.com/2008/11/06/the-trouble-with-naming-your-characters/] I also spoke about this at Barnes and Noble, which you can see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywcLBh2RxNw

Judi: What is the most memorable first line you’ve ever read in a novel?

Brenda: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Judi: What was the most fun scene in your book to write? The most difficult?
The most fun I had was writing the scene when Brooke’s family met her fiancé’s family for the first time.  There was just so much room to be funny, crazy and completely out there.  Those situations are always so stressful, so it was fun to infuse that scene with lots of humor and heart.
The hardest part for me is always the end.  (Isn’t it for every writer?)   You’ve taken the reader on a journey, and it’s so important to deliver on everything you’ve built up, and to give them something memorable and satisfying.
Judi: What is your writing schedule like?
Brenda: I pretty much just write wherever and whenever I can.  Writing is an art, but it’s also a job, so it’s important for me to just buckle down and do it whenever I get a spare moment.
Judi: What is your advice for those who looking to get their novel 
Brenda: Keep writing! It’s so easy to get discouraged or feel like you don’t have the time to write. But like anything else that is important in life, you have to work at it and make the time for it.

Edit! Editing your work is almost as important as the writing itself. Sure, you’re telling your story, but it’s also important to consider the way that you tell it. You want your writing to be tight, elegant and polished. It can only get to be that way through careful and thorough editing.

Develop a very thick skin. You’re putting yourself out there when you write and not everyone is going to love what you do. But that’s okay! You’re not writing to please everyone out there. You’re writing because you have a story that you want to tell. So start getting used to criticism and then see tip #1—keep writing! 

Advanced praise for JACK WITH A TWIST


“a funny, sweet romance.”

-         New York Times bestselling author Marian Keyes


 “Another fun-filled page-turner from Brenda.  Every bit as sparkling as the champagne that the bride-to-be’s mother is so fond of…”

            -         USA Today international bestselling author Carole Matthews


 “A funny, smart, true-to-life novel about being your own woman.  Loved it!”

-         Melissa Senate, author of SEE JANE DATE and QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE MARRYING


 “Deliciously entertaining, laugh-out-loud funny and fraught with disaster after hilarious disaster, Janowitz’s second novel is engaging, fast-paced and thoroughly delightful.  Janowitz’s pitch-perfect sequel to SCOT ON THE ROCKS is a hilarious look at the not-so-holy side of holy matrimony.”

            – Kristin Harmel, author of the novel THE ART OF FRENCH KISSING


Swimming Upstream… Anyone else relate to this?

 Melissa Clark’s debut novel:

Judi: Okay, the title totally “reeled” me in because it’s right up my alley (river, creek, whatever). Where did you come up with this idea, Melissa?

Melissa: “Swimming Upstream, Slowly” is a novel about Sasha Salter, who wakes up one day to find she is pregnant. Only problem is she hasn’t had sex in over 2 years. The doctor’s diagnosis is that Sasha’s body has been harboring a ‘lazy sperm’. Sasha must now open up the Pandora’s box of her past loves to figure out which of her exes is the father – and what the future holds in store. 

 The idea was born because I was having lunch with a friend and overate. I lifted my shirt to expose my bloated belly and the friend said, half joking, “Are you sure you’re not pregnant?” and I said, “Yeah, right, from a lazy sperm.” I went home that night and started outlining the idea for a movie. I decided, eventually, to write it as a novel instead.

Judi: I love the premise! Which part(s) were easiest to write?

Melissa: I love writing dialogue. I’ve written a few plays in the past and found it incredibly satisfying. I learn so much about my characters through what they say. I often have the feeling that they speak through me and I’m just listening and transcribing their words. I know a lot of writers feel this way. It’s hard for me to slow down and be descriptive – really describe a setting or something. I am very aware of this and tried to do it more consciously in the new book. 

Judi: Your bio is very interesting and I’m wondering if you could give us a little more in-depth about your writing background?

Melissa: My dad is a writer, so I was always playing on his typewriter and writing on legal steno pads. I wrote short stories from thetime that I could write. I studied writing and literature in both college and graduate school. In my 20s to mid-30s I worked as a writer in television. I created a kid’s show called “Braceface” which ran for 5 seasons. I loved that experience, but really wanted to write a novel, so I quit my own show and set out to write “Swimming Upstream, Slowly.” It was the best risk I’ve ever taken!

Judi: What do you love most about this book?

Melissa: I appreciate this question because I feel a little weird loving it so much. I feel genuinely tender toward my characters and feel very disconnected to the fact that I created them. I appreciate their personalities and foibles. Every time I reread the book, I enjoy going on the journey with them all over again. When I was writing the book I had that swoony feeling of romantic love. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I bumped into things all the time, etc. I’ve never told anyone this before!  

Judi: So What’s next for you? 

Melissa: I JUST completed a draft of a new novel, “Imperfect”. It is another medical anomaly type of story, but very different than “Swimming…” This one is more of a coming-of-age story. I sent it to my agent last week and am now on pins and needles waiting for her response.  
Melissa, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. I absolutely love the premise of this book and will definitely add it to my TBR pile. Wishing you all the best



Livin’ La Dolce Vita!


“Malena Lott’s charming, heartfelt novel…will have you cheering ‘bravissimo’ as ‘Mona Lisa’ experiences her own Renaissance, courtesy of one very hot

 Leonardo da Vinci.”

– Award-Winning author Jenny Gardiner, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver


Ramona Elise is in a rut—a 36-year-old widowed mother of two, she can’t seem to find what make her truly happy in life. Making sure her kids are happy isn’t the hard part; Ramona’s looking for the passion she lost two years ago when she lost her husband and her world turned upside down. When a handsome Italian immigrant walks into her English class, Ramona never expects to find la dolce vita (the sweet life)  in a younger man—or in her self!

Come experience a renaissance to love and life as Sourcebooks Casablanca presents the heartwarming novel Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott (ISBN: 9781402213939; Fiction; $12.95 US/$13.99 CAN/6.99 UK; November 2008).


“Written smartly…satisfying and uplifting.”Publishers Weekly

This book was an extremely well written story that captivated me from the very beginning. I fell in love with the characters and Ramona’s journey… I will definitely be

 reading more by Ms. Lott.– The Book Binge



Finding herself on a new path wildly different than the one she envisioned with [her husband,] Joel,” comments BookList’s Annie McCormack, “Ramona Elise (or Mona Lisa, as da Vinci calls her) learns to open her heart to new possibilities in order to find la dolce vita in Lott’s delightfully affirming romance.”


“…a Texas-based hybrid of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Under the Tuscan Sun. Happily, Lott takes her story in several surprising directions: she throws some serious curveballs in her wise-in-the-ways-of-love Italian stereotype, and Ramona, in a refreshing plot twist, discovers that some of her carefully nursed unhappiness was the product of her own insecurities…it’s thoughtful, heartfelt, and undeniably engaging.” - Word Candy


By facing the suspicions of her late husband’s infidelity, and coming to terms with the fact that love never truly dies – it is just passed on – Ramona paves a path to a new romance and outlook, straight to la dolce vita!


This is a heartfelt, well written account of a woman’s search for self after losing her husband.  Malena Lott is a skilled writer and I look forward to reading more from her.

– RomanceReaderatHeart.com

About the Author

Malena Lott writes humorous and heartfelt mainstream women’s fiction novels. With national speaking experience, she is a brand and marketing consultant and facilitates personal and professional development workshops for women. Dating da Vinci is Malena Lott’s second novel. Lott is a married mother of three and resides in Oklahoma. Lott invites you to her web site where she has posted cooking videos, and contests: www.malenalott.commalena2


Judi: I can’t wait to get my copy! This sounds like such a romantic book. What pulled you into this story and, as a writer, made you think, “I have to write this? What do you consider the heart of the story?

Malena: Women, especially mothers, tend to put themselves last on the list. I wanted to share the story of someone who has lost the love of her life and has focused on just “getting by” each day, but is ready to find a way to be joyful again, even through the pain. The heart of the story really is, is there love after death, and the courage it takes to not only survive but to build a great life again.

Judi: The title is wonderful. How did you come up with it?

Malena: The title came pretty quickly, early on. I love alliteration and really wanted to incorporate da Vinci since he’s the catalyst that starts Ramona’s renaissance. Since publishers have final say, I don’t get too attached to my working title, though. I do like getting credit for this one, though! Of course the book isn’t just about da Vinci and romance is only a part of the story, but I think it’s catchy and hopefully it will catch people’s eye to learn more about the book.

Judi: What great characters, and I love the play on Leonardo’s name. How do you come up with your characters’ names?

Malena: I spend a great deal of time with character names, even when I snatch them from real life. I used a lot of word play in Dating da Vinci. For Ramona Elise Griffen, you can pull “Mona Lisa” and “Grief” from her name. Leonardo is of course named after the real da Vinci and shares a lot of common traits with the genius. Pretty much all the characters have meanings in their names since Ramona is a linguist and it fits with the theme of the book.

Judi: What’s your author fantasy?

Malena: Writers already have active imaginations, so this one is a no brainer. Vision board, here I come!  Hit the top 10 of the New York Times bestseller list, have a long line waiting for me when I arrive for book signings, have my books optioned for films that actually get made and made well, and a few national TV appearances to boot. TODAY show, The View, Oprah, you know. Just the small stuff, you know? Not that I’ve given any of this much thought. Not a bit.

Judi: Do you have an excerpt posted?

Malena:   You can read the first chapter at www.malenalott.com

Thanks so much, Malena and I wish you all the success…and, of course, a dolce vita!

Can You Trust Your Significant Other? Blog Tour with Jessica Brody


On June 29, 2008, Jessica Brody’s debut novel, THE FIDELITY FILES, hit the Denver Post bestseller list as the number two bestselling paperback in Colorado. Now she’s aiming her sites at the global book market with a recent release in the UK and upcoming releases in France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia and Taiwan.


The provocative novel (first released by St. Martin’s Press in June of 2008) strikes a sensitive chord in readers, telling the story of a charismatic, young woman who goes undercover as a “fidelity inspector” to test men’s loyalty.



Jessica recently flew to London to promote the November release of the book’s UK edition (published by Random House UK) which debuted in WhSmith’s (one of the country’s leading booksellers) top 100 bestselling paperback list. The title continues to sell across the pond, gearing up to outperform even the American release.

 The Fidelity Files confronts the thorny issue of infidelity head-on with its controversial main character Jennifer Hunter. Operating under the code name “Ashlyn,” Jennifer leads a double life. Her friends and family all think she’s an investment banker who’s too busy to date. In reality, Jennifer is hired by suspicious wives and girlfriends to test the faithfulness of their partners. Her job has made her pretty cynical about her own love life. But just as she’s ready to swear off men for ever, Jennifer meets sexy, sophisticated Jamie Richards, a man who might just past her fidelity test. However, before she retires her secret agent self forever, she takes on one last assignment – a job which will permanently alter her perceptions of trust, honesty, and love.


A gripping story of one woman’s quest to come to terms with her past, find her future, and—most of all—rediscover her faith in love, THE FIDELITY FILES was chosen as one of USA Today’s hottest summer reads and has recently been optioned for television. St. Martin’s Press and Random House UK have already purchased the sequel (yet untitled) to be published in the fall of 2009 and Jessica has recently sold two young adult novels to Farrar, Straus, Giroux.


Praise for The Fidelity Files


“A smart, funny and sexy debut…”

Cosmopolitan UK


A sexy plot with a main character every woman would like to have on speed dial.”

Rocky Mountain News


“You’ll be hooked!”

Minneapolis Star Tribune


“Sisters unite! This is a total revenge fantasy for anyone really tired of men with overactive zippers.”

USA Today


“Deliciously out there and impossible to put down.”

5280 Magazine


Judi:  Jessica, I’m sure a lot of readers have seen the television show Cheaters. Can you tell us what was your inspiration for this book?


Jessica: The Fidelity Files is the story of a beautiful, L.A. woman who works as an undercover “fidelity inspector,” hired by suspicious wives and girlfriends to test the faithfulness of the men in their lives. Except no one in her life knows what she does. Her friends and family all think she works for an investment bank.


Before I became a full-time writer, I worked in a very corporate environment.  And like all corporate jobs, there were a certain number of “alcohol-related” events that I was expected to attend.  I would often find myself at work happy hour functions in nearby bars, observing the interactions between single and non-single co-workers as their behaviors gradually declined from professional to something else entirely.  Something hardly capable of being described as “appropriate.”


Witnessing these “indiscretions” upset me on a profound level. I secretly wished that someone would tell the “conveniently” absent significant others about what their husbands/wives/boyfriends/ girlfriends/fiancés really did while attending these “obligatory” and supposedly “uneventful” work functions. But I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to do it. I was brave enough to think it…but not exactly brave enough to go knocking on people’s doors with bad news. You know what people tend to do to “the messenger.”


So instead I created a character whose job and purpose in life was to do just that. To reveal the truth to anyone who wanted to know.  To knock on all the doors that I never had the courage to knock on. An invincible superhero-esque woman whose quest is to fight against the evils of infidelity. But of course, she soon finds out…she’s not as invincible as she once thought.


Judi:  Have you ever put anyone you know in your stories and, if so, how do they feel about it?

Jessica: My friends are definitely in my books. There’s one in particular that stands out. One of Jen’s friends, Zoë, has a bad case of road rage. And she tends to talk on the phone while she drives, so Jen often finds herself on the phone with Zoë while she’s cursing out another driver. I have a friend who does that and that’s where I got the idea. This friend has read the book but I’m not sure how she feels about the similarities. She acts like she’s fine with it, but I guess you never know. She could secretly be totally offended.


 Judi:  Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

Jessica: My favorite character is definitely Jen’s gay friend, John. Every scene he’s in was always the most fun to write. And the easiest. He’s definitely the comic relief of the book. I don’t know where some of his lines come from. They just kind of emerge as if I’m channeling a flamboyant and sometimes annoying gay man from another dimension. I would be writing a scene with him and he’d respond with a line that was so him and I would just stare back at it on the page, laugh and say, “Where did that come from?” Needless to say, he was one of my favorite characters to return to in the sequel.


 Judi:  Do you have a sample chapter readers can see?

Jessica: Sure! It’s at www.thefidelityfiles.com/excerpt.html

 Judi:  So what’s next on the docket for you?


Jessica: Oh, gosh, I have so many things going on right now, it’s hard to keep track! Although, this question may help me get my head around everything. I just finished the first draft of the sequel to The Fidelity Files which St. Martin’s is publishing in Fall of 2009 and is yet untitled. That’ll also be out in the UK around the same time. I’m waiting to get my revision notes back on that so I can go for round two. Also, I just finished revising the manuscript for my new young adult book, THE KARMA CLUB, which FSG is publishing in spring of 2010. And I recently started a new YA series that I’m super excited about and will hopefully try to sell early next year. AND…one of the screenplays I co-wrote just got financed for a feature film so we hope to start shooting that in April. Yes, I know, I’m a masochist. What can I say, idleness is my only enemy.



Thanks so much, Jessica, for stopping by and best of luck with all your projects!

Jessica Brody  graduated from Smith College with degrees in economics and French. A full-time writer and producer, she lives in Los Angeles where she is currently working on her next novel.
Check out her book trailer:

Blog Tour with Saralee Rosenberg

 Nora Ephron Hates Her Neck. Big Deal! Mindy Sherman hates her whole body.Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead
Okay, I had to open with that – the back cover copy from Saralee Rosenberg’s fourth novel, Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead. Kinda sets the tone, dontcha think? :}
In Mindy’s yoga-obsessed, thirty-is-the-new-wife neighborhood, every day is a battle between Dunkin’ Donuts, her jaws-of-life jeans, and Beth Diamond, the self-absorbed sancti-mommy next door who looks sixteen from the back. So much for sharing the chores, the stores, and the occasional mischief to rival Wisteria Lane.
It’s another day, another dilemma until Beth’s marriage becomes fodder on Facebook. Suddenly the Ivy League blonde needs to be “friended,” and Mindy is the last mom standing. Together they take on hormones and hunger, family feuds and fidelity, and a harrowing journey that spills the truth about an unplanned pregnancy and a seventy-year old miracle that altered their fates forever.
Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead is a hilarious, stirring romp over fences and defenses that begs the question, what did you do to deserve living next door to a crazy woman? Sometimes it’s worth finding out.
AVONA BOOKS, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
USA $13.95 (Canada $14.95)
ISBN 978-0-06-125377-5
Praise for Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead
“Through a winning blend of hip and humble humor, Rosenberg simultaneously skerwers and celebrates the institution of suburban sisterhood.” – Booklist  
“Great read. Hilarious and heartwarming!” – “Good Housekeeping Quick and Simple Magazine’s Book Pick of the Week (July 22, 2008)
“I just had to send you an e-mail concerning your book, Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead. I’m on vacation and finished it late last night. I have never laughed and cried so much while reading a book. Bravo!” – Jennifer Vido, reviewer and columnist,  www.freshfiction.com
And now to the interview:
Judi: What was the inspiration for your new novel?
Saralee: Of my four novels, DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD is the only one that was inspired by, well, me! This story is based on my first novel, ALL IN THE CARDS, which was never published, but did take a very exciting journey to Hollywood. Back in 1997, Bette Midler optioned it for a feature film (she was looking for a follow up comedy to “First Wives Club”). Exactly! Wow! First time out and it’s a homerun. Sadly, the reason you never heard of it is because ultimately, Bette and her partner couldn’t get financing or find the right screenwriter to adapt it. Bye bye Bette… Now fast forward to a few years ago. My novels, A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE, CLAIRE VOYANT and FATE & MS. FORTUNE had done very well but were about single women looking for love in all the wrong places. I wanted to write about my “peeps” in the suburbs and pitched my editor on letting me rewrite ALL IN THE CARDS. She was hesitant because she wasn’t sure Avon was the right publisher for a suburban/soccer mom story with bickering neighbors. Then came “Desperate Housewives” and suddenly it was, get me suburban/soccer mom stories with bickering neighbors. Timing is everything…. So although DEAR NEIGHBOR is an incarnation of my earliest novel, it is a much richer, deeper, funnier story and is resonating with readers of all ages.
Judi: Which scene or scenes in your novel did you love writing?
Saralee: I am crazy about writing dialogue and would spend days working on a scene between Mindy and Beth to make sure that I got the tone, the phrasing, the timing and the subtle nuances just right. There was so much that they wanted to say to each other after eight years of making each other crazy, I just had to let it out a little at a time, like air coming out of a balloon. But the scene I loved writing the most was the one where they are in a hotel room and Beth confronts the fact that she might be pregnant. It is a funny, poignant moment where both characters reveal their greatest joys and misgivings of motherhood and I remember when I sat at my computer, the words just poured out and I had to sit still to hear every last word coming through. I realized at the end that they had just broadcast my own conflicts and vulnerabilities about being a mom and it was whoa… where did that come from?
Judi: When deadlines hit, what happens in your house?
Saralee: Let me put it this way. Please don’t ring my bell unless you’re bringing fresh baked cookies because I don’t want you to see that the dining room looks like a mini landfill. And that’s before you reach the piles on the stairs (I swear there is one that has been there since Clinton was President). The clothes in the dryer go round and round for days because I keep hitting wrinkle remove, we run out of milk, the shows saved on Tivo go unwatched, calls from my kids get answered with, “Make it quick and NO CRISIS’s today”. Also I look like hell and probably need of a touch up. As for dinner? The family is on their own… although they would tell you I say that every day. Basically it’s every man/child for himself and don’t give me a hard time about anything… This is why I write all the time, otherwise I’d lose my privileges, lol.
Judi: I just ran a contest to come up with a new name for my second book and gave the winner the option to have a character named after her. She was up for it and she’s now a Lieutenant in the Dolphin Guard in Wild Blue Under. Do you ever put friends in books? Have any of them recognized themselves?
Saralee: I get asked all the time by family and friends to be in one of my novels, but I tend not to go there unless they’re willing to buy several dozen books in appreciation for being immortalized (if Girl Scout Moms can bribe, so can I). Once I did give in and named a character after a friend, only to describe the character as a philandering shoplifter. She was horrified and wanted to know how I knew? I didn’t know, I made it up, but boy did that make things interesting afterwards… Also, my husband’s business partner had been prodding me for years, to which I would say that a character who sold insurance, played golf and visited his grandkids in Florida would not exactly be memorable. But finally, in Dear Neighbor, to get him to stop bugging me, I did name a minor character Steven Hoffman. I made him a lawyer in Portland, and it really made Steve’s day… then he asked why he wasn’t a major character and could I feature him again in the next book? Men!!!!
Judi: Do you think about writing series or do you prefer stand alone titles?
Saralee: Readers often ask if I can turn my novels into a series because they like the characters so much and want to revisit them, which is great. I have thought about it, but the bottom line is, the high drama, intrigue and craziness that unfolds in the novel is pretty much a once in a lifetime event for the characters. I wouldn’t know how to replicate the same level of intensity and sea changes and I’d be afraid that readers would post this on Amazon: “The first book was so much better!” That being said, I have thought about writing a novel where my previous characters make token appearances so readers could learn what was new in their lives. I might call it WHINED AND DINED, and it would take place at a spa weekend so that there would be a chance for lots of characters to mingle and to get to know one another. And I do like the idea of having tough-as-nails Shelby Lazarus fighting over a massage therapist named Ivan with get-out-of-way Beth. Stay tuned.
Judi: What is up next for you?
Saralee: I am very excited about my next novel because the focus is about a child leaving for college and this is hitting very close to home fas our youngest is now a senior in high school. But in this story, Jackie, a twice-divorced mom, has one son, 17-year old Daniel and she is in a panic thinking that when he leaves for college in the fall, she’ll be left alone with her ornery, widowed father. Thus, when she sets off on the campus tour circuit, she decides to throw caution and her underwear to the wind and boy does she have one hell of a good time. It’s worse senioritis than even Daniel has and their adventures visiting the Ivies is one for the books. In the end, she rediscovers the smart, ambitious girl she left behind at Yale Law and pledges to get her life back on track. The title of the book is EARLY DECISION and I think it’s going to be my best yet. No publication date as of yet.
 Judi: I’ve got a high school reunion coming up and a few people who’ve recently “found” me have said they were surprised I’d actually become a writer. Would your high school friends be surprised to discover you’d become one also?
Saralee: Funny question. When I attended my 20th high school reunion in Munster, Indiana, I had been living in New York since graduating college and had lost contact with most of my classmates. One of the first people I ran into was Mary Ann Jugovic, the class valedictorian and the sweetest girl ever. The first thing I said to her is, “please tell me that you went to med school and became a pediatrician.” To which she said, “only if you tell me that you moved to New York and became a writer.” And the verdict was? She was a pediatrician with a beautiful family and I was an author with a beautiful family. Dreams do come true.
 Thanks so much, Saralee, and I wish you much success with this book. It sounds hilarious!

Blog Tour with Kelly Parra

Invisible Touch

Invisible Touch

Today I’m taking part in a blog tour for author, Kelly Parra.  Kelly is the author of Graffiti Girl, a double RITA nominee and Latinidad Top Pick, and the contemporary paranormal, Invisible Touch. When not pulling her hair while writing her current novel, she likes to play with her abundance of websites (see below!) and feed a serious television addiction.


by Kelly Parra

MTV Books | October 14, 2008

ISBN: 1416563377

(For ages 13 and up)


Do you believe in fate?


Kara Martinez has been trying to be “normal” ever since the accident that took her father’s life when she was eleven years old. She’s buried the caliente side of her Mexican heritage with her father and tried to be the girl her rigid mother wants her to be — compliant and dressed in pink, and certainly not acting out like her older brother Jason. Not even Danielle, her best friend at Valdez High, has seen the real Kara; only those who read her anonymous blog know the deepest secrets of the Sign Seer.


Because Kara has a gift — one that often feels like a curse. She sees signs, visions that are clues to a person’s fate, if she can put together the pieces of the puzzle in time. So far, she’s been able to solve the clues and avert disaster for those she’s been warned about — until she sees the flash of a gun on a fellow classmate, and the stakes are raised higher than ever before. Kara does her best to follow the signs, but it’s her heart that wanders into new territory when she falls for a mysterious guy from the wrong side of town, taking her closer to answers she may not be able to handle. Will her forbidden romance help her solve the deadly puzzle before it’s too late…or lead her even further into danger?



Praise for Invisible Touch


“A magical blending of mystery, romance, and deep and dangerous secrets. Kelly Parra’s Invisible Touch is an action-packed coming-of-age novel, sure to keep readers turning pages and begging for a sequel.” 
– Laurie Faria Stolarz, Bestselling author of Blue is for Nightmares and Deadly Little Secret


Readers are going to delight in this fast-paced, gripping story, and be kept spellbound until its surprising finish.” 
  – Tina Ferraro, author of How To Hook A Hottie


The Gold Award of Excellence! An amazing, touching novel that deals with big issues in an original context.”  – TeensReadToo


Five out of five gold pens for Invisible Touch.”The Salinas Californian



Judi: Wow, Kelly – you’ve piqued my interest! What a great premise! Can you tell us about the inspiration behind it?
Kelly: I’ve always believed in intuitive vibes and repetitive signs and thought wouldn’t it be cool to have a girl who really saw visions and have to piece the signs together to help others? But not only that, but this gift had to also be a curse and would a logical mother believe her?  And from there Kara was born in my mind with secrets and pain and grief and romance. My inspiration was to write a book to make readers “feel” and I hope I succeeded. :)
Judi: This sounds like it could maybe continue into a series. Do you think about writing them or do you prefer stand alone titles?
Kelly: I LOVE to read series and it’s always been a dream to write one. My first books are stand alones, but I currently writing a sci-fi young adult novel and I’m hoping it could be a series.
Judi: You may have seen the contest I just had on my blog to come up with a new name for my second Mer story, Wild Blue Under. The winner gets a character named after her in the story. Do you put your friends in your books? Names, incidents, characteristics? Have any of them recognized themselves in a not-so-good way?
Kelly: I try to steer away from that, but family and friends have stated they see characteristics from other people in my characters. I don’t notice until after publication. It’s not intentional!
Judi: I’ve got a deadline looming and wondered, what happens in your house when deadlines hit?
Kelly: Oh boy, the laundry piles up and the rooms become a mess.  I sort of stare at everything with guilt, but my husband is very supportive in having me meet deadlines and will pick up the slack on the weekends.
Judi: (*relates very well to the guilt and piles of laundry thing, especially THIS week!) If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing instead?
Kelly: I can’t imagine doing anything else right now, but I started off as an artist in graphic design. So it could have stuck with illustration or become a web designer.
Judi: Which do you most like writing–dialogue, action, or description?
Kelly: Action and description. I’m not a great conversationalist and its the same for my characters. LOL.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Judi!

 My pleasure, Kelly. I LOVED hearing about this and wish you all the best!

“The Call” story


So many people have asked for more details, so I’ll share them here.

My publisher is Sourcebooks and my editor is Deb Werksman. Deb and I met at the 2007 National Conference when she had been a Golden Heart judge and LOVED my friend Robin Kaye’s finalling manuscript, Romeo, Romeo. She offered Robin a contract AT National. Robin and I, not knowing a whole heck of a lot about Sourcebooks, went to their Spotlight and were blown away by Dominique Raccah’s (publisher) and Deb’s enthusiasm and publishing history. Robin was thrilled to accept the contract and I was thrilled for her!

What does Robin’s sale have to do with mine? Well, I’ll tell you. Deb hung out with us a lot during National. I got to know her; she got to know me. I had already submitted a time travel to her so that was sitting in her queue. She got to it a few weeks after National, sadly, rejecting it. But that was okay.

Flash forward to October 2007 at the New Jersey Conference. Deb was there. We chatted. She sat at my table for lunch and I proceeded to drag pitches from everyone at our table b/c I knew Deb wanted to hear them (this is why you need to work on that “elevator pitch”/high concept thing so you can do it at a lunch setting). I happened to mention that In Over Her Head was probably going to end up in the Top 5 of the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Contest. Deb wanted to know why I hadn’t submitted it to her and I said I couldn’t, according to the rules of the contest, but if it didn’t make it to the Top 5, I’d send it along. It made it to the Top 5.

Life got hectic when it was in the Top 5. I worked that final into agent interest, garnering multiple agent offers (the winner of the contest was guaranteed to be published), and accepting the offer from Jennifer Schober of Spencerhill Associates.

Something to note: one of the final judges for the contest was Sue Grimshaw, Romance Buyer for Borders. I introduced myself to her at a conference after the contest was over (and I hadn’t won) and Sue proceeded to give my story such praise that it stunned me into silence. (If you know me, you’ll know that this feat doesn’t happen all that often. Maybe twice before in my life. Seriously.) She gave me some advice to make the book marketable and I made the change.

I also saw Deb at the Long Island Luncheon where we, again, sat next to each other and I dragged pitches from everyone at the table for her. I also mentioned to someone at the table that I had two partials of the next two Mer stories ready and waiting. Deb jumped – “It’s a trilogy?”

Now, you know, we all hear to only pitch one book. Will an editor really take a chance on three books by a debut author? Here I had an editor asking me about all three when she already had book 1 in her queue. The books are stand-alones, but contain characters that you hear about in the other books, so I mentioned it. She wanted the partials.

My agent sent everything out, and Deb jumped. I remember her words to me were, “Frankly, I’m surprised this hadn’t sold yet.” That makes a writer feel good, let me tell you!

Deb called on Monday that she was taking it into Editorial on Tuesday. I got an email from her IN the Editorial meeting that they wanted it and to have my agent call her, my agent did her agenting thing where it was on submission elsewhere (thank God I had an agent!), and on Thursday, July 17, we accepted the offer.

However, the offer wasn’t just for In Over Her Head. Deb also wanted the rest of the trilogy AND gave me release dates that I only dreamed about.

Now I’m hard at work polishing those other two stories so they sparkle like In Over Her Head. Look for all three books next summer: June, August and October – the perfect beach read since they, ya know, take place at/in the ocean.

In Over Her Head

Whale of a Tail

Catch of a Lifetime


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.