Once Upon A Time… is NOW!!!!

Not only is that line the opening of almost every fairy tale and the title of one of my favorite new shows, but it’s also the title of my new series.
What new series?
The series I started years ago that gave me my tagline: Fairy tales with a twist. The first release, Beauty and The Best is the story I had asked many of you to vote for a few years ago when it was in both the American Title III contest and the Gather.com/Simon & Schuster First Chapters Romance. (The links are to those contests if you’re interested.) I thank all of you for your support, and because so many of you have asked me what became of that story, I’m THRILLED to finally be able to offer this book to readers.
At the moment, it’s only available in electronic format, but I am working on setting it up for print. Not quite sure how long that process will take, but if you’re interested in reading the story on your eReader, laptop, PC, or smartphone, the links to do so are below.

Once upon a time…

 a long time ago,

there lived a beast of a man,

locked within a castle

with no one to love him.

 

This is not his story.

 

This is the story of another man,

locked within himself,

and the Beauty

who sets him free.

Here’s a sneak peak. You may remember this opening line from Chapter One:
There’s a naked man in my kitchen.
The thought registered just as the terse, “Who the hell are you?” had Jolie Gardener spinning around faster than a figure skater on speed.
He had the nerve to ask this? He of the broad shoulders, six-pack abs, and other, nice, um, parts…
Really. A naked man. In her kitchen.
Well, technically, she was in a naked man’s kitchen. Even more technically, she was in a naked Todd Best’s kitchen—and there wasn’t one hint of self-consciousness or embarrassment on his part.
Of course with that body, there shouldn’t be. The guy should flaunt his nudity for the world to see. Which, at present, consisted of one single, solitary person: Jolie Gardener, aspiring writer and personal chef extraordinaire.
“Well?” His hands slammed to his hips.
“You’re naked,” she squeaked, which, really, was the only way to state that kind of obvious.
“I’m what?” Mr. Six-Pack Abs glanced down.
Jolie tried not to—so unsuccessfully it was pitiful.
“Shit,” he muttered. “I am. I, uh, fell asleep last night…”
As butter sizzled in the new super-slick omelet pan on the top-of-the-line range, Jolie’s gaze alternated between some rock-hard abs and a scruffy eight a.m. shadow while her fingers danced along the speckled granite countertop in search of a napkin, placemat, oven mitt… something.
Mercifully, they scooped up a thick dishtowel that, in her world, would constitute a very plush, very luxurious hand towel from The Ritz or The Four Seasons, but which, here, apparently, was used to soak up water from designer flatware. She dangled it in the di rection of Mr. Au Naturel. “Here.”
He placed an empty bottle of Jim Beam on the island countertop with a clink, then took the towel with a grunt. “So, who are you, what are you doing in my kitchen, and would you mind turning around?”
She turned. “I’m the new girl the agency sent over.”
“Hell. There better be some aspirin left,” he muttered beside her, his bare (of course) feet making no sound on the limestone floor.
She peeked over at him.
His eyebrow soared skyward.
Right.
###
Back cover blurb:
Fine is a relative term… right?
Jolie Gardener, personal chef by day, aspiring romance writer by night,
likes to talk and does it a lot. She has to because if she stops, all the pain, disillusionment, and abandonment of her AWOL mother, question-mark father, and foster-care childhood will rise up like a chocolate soufflé on steroids, sweeping away the fragile infrastructure of her life.
But she’s fine. Really. She is.
Or so she thinks.
Todd Best isn’t fine. He knows it. And doesn’t care.
After his wife died—the woman who believed in him when he was a struggling artist—he put painting aside, moved from their home, and lost himself in the minutiae of daily life. 
Alone. Private. The way he likes it.
The last thing he needs is some chatty cook seeping into the perfectly bland canvas of his life.
Or so he thinks.
So when Jonathan, a guardian-angel-in-training, turns himself into a kitten to help these two lonely souls find a happily ever after together, it ought to be a piece of cake.
Or so he thinks…
******************************************************************************
Praise for Judi Fennell’s stories:
“Fun and flirty. Judi Fennell will make you believe in … the magic of happily ever after.”Jennifer Estep, USA Today best-selling author
“Readers will adore the joy and humor and romance from Judi Fennell’s creative pen.”    ~ Jill Barnett, New York Times best-selling author
“Fennell’s light & lively writing is full of humor and cleverness.” ~ Publishers Weekly
Buy Beauty and The Best here:

Genie Knows Best Launch Day + a Free copy of I Dream of Genies

While Amazon and B&N have been shipping copies of Genie Knows Best already (got mine!), the ebook downloads are finally available and for this week only, you can get a free copy of I Dream of Genies as well. Come discover a whole new world! Format links for both books are below and you can see excerpts and outtakes from the story on my website at:

www.JudiFennell.com

Genie Knows Best

Kindle

Nook

Other formats

  I Dream of Genies

    Kindle

    Nook

    iBook

    Other formats

 

 

 

 

 

And check out these websites for my blog tour where we’ll be giving away copies of Genie Knows Best.

11/2 Fang-tastic Books http://fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com/11/3 Preternatura http://suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com/

11/8 Peeking Between the Pages http://www.peekingbetweenthepages.com/

11/10 Fresh Fiction http://www.freshfiction.com/

AAD blog with Jen (Twimom)

11/11 Sia McKye’s Thoughts Over Coffee http://siamckye.blogspot.com/

11/15 The Long and Short of It http://lasrguest.blogspot.com/

11/17 SOS Aloha http://www.sosaloha.blogspot.com/

11/18 Night Owl Reviews http://nightowlromanceblog.blogspot.com/

11/21 My Overstuffed Bookshelf http://myoverstuffedbookshelf.blogspot.com/

11/30 Star-Crossed Romance http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com/

FIRST OFFICIAL: Copy of Genie Knows Best in my hands!

“They” say a picture is worth a thousand words…

Genie Knows Best, November 2011

 

This one, to me, is worth almost 200,000. That’s how many I had to write to get this thing in my hands.

Why so many? Well, this is The Book That Tried To Kill Me ™, aka: TBTTTKM-2 ™ (kudos to my friend Lisa Brackmann for coining that phrase; hers is the original TBTTTKM.)

I’d written Genie Knows Best and turned it in a few days before my deadline. (yay, me!) Unfortunately, it turned out that my editor didn’t like it. At all. Now, normally, there are a few points we need to change/clarify/fix and I do some revisions and the book is ready. But this one, for various reasons, didn’t work for her. So it was Back To The Drawing Board. Ugh. Can I just say that again? Ugh.

I had to start over. Had to come up with a different spin on the story, a different spin on the world, and a new way of doing things. The only things I kept from the original book were the main characters’ names, the love scenes, the basic idea for the world, and the ending. I love this ending; I truly do.

So, okay, maybe we’re talking 150,000 words.

Was this what I wanted to do? No way. Was it what I had to do? Yep. Am I satisfied with the result? I am. It’s a whole other story about the same characters, whom I love. Kal is an alpha male in a beta role, or maybe even a gamma one. I had fun trying to contain him within The Service he’s been in for four thousand years with the end in sight for him. Samantha Blaine was someone I wanted to help. All she wants is someone to love her for her (and not her inheritance/bank account) and to find herself being used at every turn… well, she deserved a happy ending, too. As did I. :) Honestly, I was never so happy as when I turned this new story in because it’s one thing to write a book under contract and know that it’s going to go into production; it’s quite another to write that book only to have to completely re-write it.

I haven’t really spoken about this bummer of a year writing this book because, of course, you want to put your best foot forward in the marketplace. “Sure, I write books and they all go on to win awards!” is a good image, but the reality is, writing and publication are hard work–and this is why you need an editor. Mine could have tried to fix the original version up with me, but who knows what the result would have been since she had such an adverse reaction to it. She wasn’t “feeling” it, and therefore, she couldn’t get excited about it. Trust me, you want your editor excited about your work.

So, I pulled up my big girl panties, took a deep breath, and started off on story #2 for this couple. And, like I said, I love the result. It’s a fun story, a lot of action with the largest cast of characters I’ve ever written. I had a blast writing the fight scenes (try orchestrating a fight scene with centaurs, trolls, leprechauns, dragons, and gnomes and keeping all those body parts straight!), and loved creating Harv’s lair that was inspired by Riley’s comment in National Treasure, “Who wants to go down the creepy tunnel inside the tomb first?” And, of course, I got to spend more time with Kal and Samantha and learned more about them, what made them tick. That journey is always fun, so I really can’t complain (though I did, loudly) about having to spend so much time with them.

And I recently turned in Leave It To Genie and am waiting for my editor to read it. You can bet (and the leprechauns in Genie Knows Best already are…) that I’m waiting with baited breath.

Now these ARCs go out to the reviewers and I have another reason to wait with baited breath to see if this version of Kal and Samantha’s story is as well received as Eden and Matt’s was (starred review in Publishers Weekly). That’s this business: hurry up and write, revise, and wait. :)

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!

 

And then there were 3

Christmas, my birthday, my anniversary and any other celebratory day you care to mention came to my house today, and my FedEx delivery person played Santa. Here’s why:

 

My 3 books

The ARC for Catch of a Lifetime arrived, putting all three of my books in my hand.

To say I squee’d would be an understatement.

(and if you’ll notice, I’ve also included my genie bottle for my next series – for which I am almost finished book #1. Woo hoo!)

FIRST OFFICIAL: Second Contract

I know, the title is a bit cumbersome, but it IS my first official second contract: I’ve agenie bottle charmccepted an offer for three more books from my publisher, Sourcebooks/Casablanca.

Nolamp earrings, it’s not a continuation of the Mer series (yet), but a new one. Think I Dream of Jeannie meets Indiana Jones.  (And, yes, I’ve already bought the charms you see on these pages for my celebration!)

 

 

Here are the working* titles and blurbs for the series:

 

 I Dream of Genies

     When Eden, a genie sentenced to her bottle for killing her previous master, suddenly finds herself freed 1400 years early, she knows it’s only a matter of time before Faruq, vizier to the High Master, tracks her down. Being magical, that shouldn’t be a problem, however, she A) lost her bottle and whoever controls that control her, B) wears the gold bracelets that act like homing devices, letting Faruq easily know exactly where she is and C) has lost her ability to perform magic so now things start happening and appearing when they shouldn’t.

     Matt Ewing, rescuer extraordinaire of lost cats and damsels in distress, offers to help her out—until she ruins his business, steals his cat, and puts him at the mercy of spurned-suitor Faruq.

     Throw in a cat with an agenda, and a chase through the magical city in the Sahara, and Eden and Matt must outwit Faruq to escape with their freedom, their  lives, and their love.

 

Genie Knows Best

      Kal, the only genie ever to remove the gold bracelets that bind genies into Service, has been on the run for over a thousand years, but when Samantha Blaine finds his lamp in a Moroccan bazaar, he’s got to get it back: whoever owns the lamp, owns him.

     Samantha Blaine was planning to come to Casablanca on her honeymoon, but when she caught her fiancé cheating on her, she decided to make it a honeymoon trip for one—and maybe finally take a good long look at her doormat tendencies, so no way is she giving up the treasure she found to some guy no matter how charming he is.

     But when a shady antiques dealer breaks into her hotel room, Sam has to take Kal up on his offer of help, but she’s adamant about it being on her terms.

     The thing is, those terms just might include Kal and the words happily-ever-after.

 

Leave It To Genie

     Zane Harrison opens an old trunk in the attic of his family’s ancestral home to find Vana. The genie. A famously inept genie as it turns out—which explains so much about why his great-great-grandfather was rumored to have been crazy.

     Vana never quite finished her genie training and, never really took to the idea of being in The Service, but she does get that she did a number on the Harrison repuration. Now that she’s out and about, it’s time to fix that.

     If only she could figure out how.

     And if only a new vizier hadn’t shown up to put that genie back where she belonged.

     Except, to Vana, where she belongs isn’t in a bottle or the magical city of the Sahara, or maybe even The Service at all. No, Vana’s convinced that the one place she does belong is in Zane’s arms.

 

Look for I Dream of Genies in Fall, 2010!

*titles subject to change

First Official: Look at Wild Blue Under

At the Sourcebooks signing during the RWA National Conference this year, we didn’t have a lot of copies of In Over Her Head (trWildBlueUnderCVR.inddy 5) to sign and give away. Now, this was actually a good thing because In Over Her Head  has gone into a second printing. BUT it meant people wouldn’t get my books – except that I found out that ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) for Wild Blue Under were available.

It was the first time I got to hold that book in my hands and let me tell you, it was just as sweet as the first time I held In Over Her Head. The magic doesn’t go away.

So now that the ARCs are out and about in the review community, as well as with about 18 readers who got in my line early, I’ve posted an excerpt from the story on my website and here for you to see.

Wild Blue Under back cover copy:

Rod Tritone is all set to take over the Mer kingdom when his father retires, until the ruling council tells him he has to marry first. The council gives him legs for the duration of his mission, as well as his future queen’s address and phone number.

She’s Valerie Dumere, the daughter of a Mer father and a human mother who raised her in landlocked Kansas. When devastatingly handsome Rod Tritone shows up and tries to tell her about the kingdom under the sea, not only does she think he’s crazy, she’s determined that’s the last place she’d ever want to go.

Then a vicious squad of seagulls tries to stop the Mer Prince from inheriting his throne and Val finds out about her true nature. Now she has to make the choice of a lifetime—stay on land, or follow Rod to his underwater world…

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      “Rod,” Valerie asked during a lull of “Do you see?”s. “Will you please tell me what’s going on? Why there’s an albatross after us? Where we’re headed? Why we’re headed? Why I’m in a car with a prince?”

          Rod swung his gaze from the window. He exhaled, his chest expanding in a way guaranteed to make her forget her own name, not to mention the questions she’d asked him.

          But she wasn’t going to allow herself to be distracted. Good looks and charm—and a crown—only got someone so far. Right now she needed to know she wasn’t heading toward some hostage situation or international incident.

          And why. Why her? All she wanted was to collect the inheritance so she could save her store.

          “This won’t be easy for you to understand, Valerie.”

          “Tell me something I don’t know.”

          “He’s got a lot to tell you that you don’t know,” said the talking seagull with what she would swear was sarcasm, as he ran from one side of the backseat to the other, beak skyward, “but now’s not exactly the right time for it. Albatross, remember? Just go east.”

          “I remember, Livingston. That doesn’t necessarily mean I believe it. Besides, I have more important concerns on my mind.”

          “Nothing’s more important than this right now, trust me.”

          A talking bird? She was supposed to trust a talking bird?

          “Valerie,” Rod, a voice of reason, answered. “There’s a lot you need to know, but most of it you won’t believe without proof. When we get to our destination, I promise to explain everything.”

          “Does this have anything to do with my inheritance, or was that all a story to get me to come on this mission for God-knows-whatever reason?” She should have taken a closer look at those papers.

          “Indirectly, yes, it does have to do with the inheritance,” Rod answered.

          “Indirectly? How indirect are we talking?”

          “Direct enough that if this albatross succeeds,” quipped Livingston, “you won’t be able to touch the inheritance. My guess is you won’t be able to touch much of anything.”

          Words she did not find comforting.

          “What if I don’t want to go to this mysterious destination of yours?” she bluffed. She was going, but only to get her inheritance. She hadn’t signed on for albatrosses, and surely she didn’t need Rod with her to claim the inheritance.     “You can just tell me the lawyer’s name and I’ll contact him myself. I’m perfectly capable of getting to New Jersey without you guys. Then you can take your albatross wherever it is you want to go and none of this will affect me.”

“No can do, Valerie,” the bird said through tight lips—er, beak. Which was an interesting ability.

“Sure I can—”

“Valerie, he’s right.” Rod touched her arm again. “Once we get to the beach, The Council will administer your inheritance. It’s all been spelled out. So you’re along for the ride.”

As long as she wasn’t being taken for one…

Wait a minute.

“The beach? You mean the beach town where they’re going to meet us, right? Not the actual beach?”

“No, our rendezvous point is on the beach behind my brother’s home. He has… facilities there for such a meeting. Is that a problem?”

For her? Yes. Big one. “Okay, what’s going on? This isn’t funny. I’ve got taxes to worry about and you guys are taking me on a wild-goose chase.”

“Al-ba-tross, Valerie. Not a goose,” Livingston said from the backseat. “Albatross are bigger. More cunning.”

Someone’s trying to be cunning. What—are you guys working for the developer? I’ve already told him I’m not selling. Is this the next tactic? Trying to make me late with the taxes by getting me out of town?”

“Valerie, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Rod said, all insulted.

She was insulted. “Look, I don’t like being made a fool of. I’ll find some way to come up with the tax money. I’m not selling to him, especially after he’s pulled this, and that’s final. You and your trained bird can tell your boss to take a hike. I’m turning this car around right now so you two can go find some other patsy to play your prank on.”

“Prank?” Rod almost growled the word as he grabbed the steering wheel. “I am not playing a prank on you, Valerie. I don’t play pranks. I came here to tell you about your inheritance and bring you to it.”

“On the beach.”

“Yes.”

“See? That’s where this falls apart, Rod.” She wrenched the wheel out of his grasp and turned them back the way they’d come, jamming the stick shift into the correct gear. “Even with the seagull, I was onboard with this whole thing, but next time, you should do your homework before you try something like this.”

“Something like what? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Fine. Here’s the problem with this scenario.” She jerked her head to face him. “I can’t go to the beach.”

“Why not? It’s not that hard to get to.”

The sarcasm came from the bird, so she threw it right back at him. “Because, Livingston, I’m allergic to the ocean. Deathly allergic.”

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Pre-order Wild Blue Under at:  Amazon.com or Borders.com

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