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:

Bloody Judi Strikes Again!

For those of you who have ever had the (mis?)fortune of getting a critique/edit by me, I wanted to alleviate some of your pain. I’ve warned you all that I’m called Bloody Judi, and there’s a reason.

Well, if you want to feel better, see the picture below and know that I also bloody up my own manuscripts. This is the last round of edits before I sent the third genie book, Leave It To Genie, into my editor. I print it out and go through with a red magic marker. This is the result.

Leave It To Genie--once Bloody Judi got her hands on it.

I can’t even claim to have sorted out the worst of the pages; this is a random sampling. I’ve done this with each of my manuscripts before sending it to my editor, and then, of course, she works her magic on the pages.

As you can see, it’s a process.

So take heart if I give you a critique. You are not alone in cleaning up a mess. :)

Julie & Julia… and Judi

Okay, perhaps not the most innovative title, but appropro nonetheless.julie_and_julia_ver2_xlg

Last night, a few of my Survivor Girls and I went to see the movie starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep (yes, I put Amy’s name first on purpose. No disrespect meant to Meryl, but Amy is Giselle from the movie Disney made JUST FOR ME.)

I did not want to see this movie. I had zero interest. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I’ve never been a big fan of Julia Child. (I almost apologized for this to the J.C. fans, but then realized that I don’t have to apologize. I’m allowed to not be a fan of hers.) Anyhow, I went along because I’ve had my nose buried in my laptop working on the first book in my genie series, I Dream of Genies, and needed a break. The kids were monitoring the new kitten, the dogs were napping and Hubs & Friend were playing chess with the Eagles’ Pre-Game hoopla on, so yes, I’d go out with the girls.

Like I said, I’m not a fan of Julia Child and even though I love Amy Adams’ work, that whole “bon appetit” in Julie Child’s odd voice just didn’t sound appetizing (pun not intended, but, boy hey, I’ll take it). I figured some popcorn, a soda (no diet – might as well really blow the diet with butter and sugar), some time out… I’ll have a good time

Boy, how wrong I was.

I had a GREAT time! The movie was so not what I thought it’d be. Now, it still hasn’t made me a fan of Julia Child (I much prefer the Dan Akroyd version – and full props to Nora Ephron for that wonderful clip!!!), but I loved the REAL story behind the movie.

It’s a movie about writers. How Julia Child came to write her cookbook and how Julie Powell came to write her book.

And Julie – if you ever read this, I want you to know I was cheering right along with you – and had more than a few tears in my eyes – for those 65 phone messages!

What a surprise! What an experience!  I was NOT expecting this at all.

To have someone (Julie) go from “want to be a writer” to becoming one… well, those of us striving for that will get it.

As for both Julie and Julia’s husbands, I have to say, mine fits right in. Their support, their encouragement, their belief in their wives… it really helps to have someone who is as confident – if not MORE – than you are when you’re trying to make it happen. They don’t go through the “what if this sucks?” thoughts. They don’t have the “no one will ever read this,” or “why do I think I know what I’m doing?” thoughts. They’re there, they’ve got our backs and they’ll prop us up when we need it. [And major kudos for the Casting Director for Chris Messina and Stanley Tucci!]

So today I did some online research and I was glad to see Julie’s “Project” blog was still up. (Julie’s current blog.) I like her post about Julia Child’s death. I haven’t had the chance to read it, and don’t know that I will, but maybe when I need a break from my own writing, I’ll stop by and read a few posts.

I followed the link for the ABC interview. Have to say, I’m a bit disappointed by the tidbit they revealed that’s going to show up in Julie’s next book (and, thank goodness, that hasn’t happened in my life), which sort of took the blush off the apple for me a bit. I guess I wanted the heroine to be perfect, and perhaps, like Julie’s revelation about Julia, so too did I have one about Julie…

But as for the experience of the movie – even if you’re not a fan of Julia Child but are a writer looking for publication, or are in the midst of it, you will get this movie. And you will rejoice right along with both ladies.

First Official: My First Literacy Signing

Wednesday Night at the RWA Conference and pictures from the Bookseller/Librarian Luncheon.

OFFICIAL FIRST: Sighting of In Over Her Head in a bookstore!

Beth Hill, fellow Wombat, editor and author extraordinaire, and all around amazing human being, took these photos at her local Barnes & Noble near Atlanta.

All I can say (amidst the tears) is Thank You, Beth.

(and now please allow for some sappy self-indulgence…)

Atlanta BN tower _ 1st by Beth Hill

 

 

Atlanta BN tower _ 2nd by Beth HillAtlanta BN tower _ 3rd by Beth Hill _ Wombat 1

A Killer of a Novel

When 17-year-old Senate page Katie Converse goes missing on her Christmas break fob20cover1near her parents’ white Victorian home in Portland, Ore., law enforcement and the media go into overdrive in a search for clues.

Three friends at the pinnacle of their respective careers–Allison Pierce, a federal prosecutor; Cassidy Shaw, a crime reporter; and Nicole Hedges, an FBI special agent–soon discover that Katie wasn’t the picture of innocence painted by her parents.

Did Katie run away to escape their stifling demands? Was she having an affair with the senator who sponsored her as a page? Has she been kidnapped? Is she the victim of a serial killer?

About the authors
April Henry knows how to kill you in a two-dozen different ways. She makes up for a peaceful childhood in an intact home by killing off fictional characters. April had one detour on her path to destruction: when she was 12 she sent a short story about a six-foot tall frog who loved peanut butter to noted children’s author Roald Dahl. He liked it so much he arranged to have it published in an international children’s magazine.

By the time she was in her 30s, April had come to terms with her childhood and started writing about hit men, drug dealers, and serial killers. She has published six mysteries and thrillers, with five more under contract. Her books have gotten starred
reviews, been on Booksense (twice!), translated into four languages, short-listed for the Oregon Book Award, and chosen as a Quick Pick by the American Library Association.

April co-wrote Face of Betrayal with Lis Wiehl, a legal analyst on FOX. They have a contract for three more Triple Threat mysteries.

In March, April’s young adult thriller, Torched, came out from Putnam.

What others are saying
Publishers Weekly
“A sizzling political thriller… The seamless plot offers a plethora of twists and turns.”

Romantic Times:
4.5 stars  “Wiehl and Henry have penned a winner that seems to come straight from the headlines. Captivating suspense, coupled with tightly written prose, will entertain and intrigue.”

Ingram:
“Readers are in for a treat as trial lawyer/commentator Lis Wiehl and mystery author April Henry team up for a political thriller.”

Links:
April’s Website: aprilhenrymysteries.com        
April’s blog: aprilhenry.livejournal.com

Tell us about your latest release and the inspiration behind it.
In Face of Betrayal, Katie, a 17 year old Senate page, disappears. The prime suspect: the Senator who may have been more than just a mentor. Three women – an FBI agent, a federal prosecutor, and a TV crime reporter – team up to find out what really happened. Lis and I wanted to weave in some of the experiences she has had as a federal prosecutor and a TV reporter.

Any fan/fan mail stories you care to share? The good, the bad and the ugly.
The good: Once I was recognized in a grocery store – and when the guy doing the recognizing told me his name I realized he was a well-known local chef. He talked to me for a minute, praising my books to the skies, and then said, “I’ll let you go. I’m sure you’re tired of being bothered.” I wanted to throw my arms around his ankles and beg him to stay.

The ugly: Having a guy come to a signing at Borders one time who thought my main character was a real person. He kept asking me, “Does Claire like to run in Forest Park?” Finally I said, she might, if she were real… The coordinator ended up walking me to my car. And a few weeks later, the bodies of three murdered women were discovered in Forest Park. My questioner, though, was not the killer.

Are your children readers and have they become more so because you write? What do they think about what you do and the pursuit of your dream?
My daughter is a reader, but I have to be careful not to push the books I love or she won’t read them. I write young adult books as well, so I read them, but I can’t walk in and say “You have to read this book.” I have to leave it lying around or get caught reading it. Her friends think that what I do is cool, but she tells them it’s boring – I just stare at computer all day. She still comes in very handing for critiquing. Since she was little I have read aloud chapters to her, and her comments have always been good. She’s told me when a phrase was too over the top or commented that a chapter ended in a “nice cliffhanger.”

When deadlines hit, what happens in your house?
We eat a lot of already prepared food from Costco.

Do you put your friends in your books? Names, incidents, characteristics? Have any of them recognized themselves in a not-so-good way?
I have used the first names of friends. In my first book, Circles of Confusion, nearly all the last names came from kids I went to grade school with.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing instead?
I thought about doing so many things: lawyer, doctor, researcher. But please don’t take writing away from me. It is the best thing ever.

What is the most memorable first line you’ve ever read in a novel?
They shoot the white girl first. —Toni Morrison, Paradise (1998)

Which do you most like writing–dialogue, action, or description?
Since I write mysteries and thrillers, I’m all about action.

Do you think about writing series or do you prefer stand alone titles?
I do both, so I have the best of both worlds. My adult mysteries with Lis Wiehl are part of a series (we signed a four-book contract). My young adults so far have all been stand alones.

Have you given your favorite names to characters yet or are you waiting for that special character and book?
I have written enough books (eight so far, with four more on the way) that I’m having trouble not re-using names. When I was writing my first published book, I was pregnant, and my husband and I argued over what to name our baby. For a girl, he wanted Sadie and I wanted Claire. Since I was sure it was going to be a boy, I told him he got to pick the girl name. So now we have a daughter named Sadie, and I published a four-book series with a main character named Claire. Looking back, I’m kind of glad he won.

Thanks for stopping by, April!

Link to buy Face of Betrayal:  amazon.com

First Official: I’m a Panelist!

Since this journey is all so new and exciting and fun and unknown, I thought I’d start chronicling all the firsts. I’m going to go back and rename some previous posts and re-categorize them under the First Official tags, but in the meantime, enjoy this offering:

My First Official time as a panelist on an industry panel.

Along with Leanne Banks, Catherine Mann, Beth Ciotta and Traci Hall, I’ll be presenting a workshop at the Romantic Times Convention in Orlando.

KEEPING IT CONTEMPORARY

How to use setting, dialogue, new technology, places, events and other contemporary cultural points of reference to establish a “now” feel for your novel, appealing to readers of all ages while keeping it timeless for generations to come.

Since I write contemporary paranormals with lots of cultural references and plays off the “real” world, I figure this ought to be fun.

So now I’m getting my promo cap on and trying to come up with some ideas to get the word out about In Over Her Head since, sadly, the book won’t be available for the convention (but will shortly afterward). I do have a cute giveaway for some lucky attendee: a mermaid cell phone charm, just like the one on my cellphone:

Cell Phone Charms / Pendant  * MERMAID BLUE * X 10

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.