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:

Genie Knows Best



Other formats

  I Dream of Genies




    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 Preternatura

11/8 Peeking Between the Pages

11/10 Fresh Fiction

AAD blog with Jen (Twimom)

11/11 Sia McKye’s Thoughts Over Coffee

11/15 The Long and Short of It

11/17 SOS Aloha

11/18 Night Owl Reviews

11/21 My Overstuffed Bookshelf

11/30 Star-Crossed Romance

FIRST OFFICIAL: Sighting of Genie Knows Best on Amazon!

I had no idea it was going to be up for pre-order today. To say I’m thrilled is definitely an understatement. This book was a labor of love and I’m so excited for it to hit the shelves.

I’m also excited because I figured out how to do an Amazon page of my books, grouping all of them together. A lot of authors have started doing this – Amazon actually gives us a kickback, which, in this world of shrinking advances and print runs, really helps. Thanks to whomever ordered a Kindle copy of In Over Her Head through my Amazon store.

And thanks, once again, to the incredibly talented Anne Cain for the AWESOME cover! I incorporated Samantha’s cover outfit into the story because I liked what Anne came up with better than my original idea. :)

A Chat with a Smart Bitch!

bhbI got lucky enough to get an early copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms, The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels and let me tell you, what a hoot! I’ve found myself laughing at the most inappropriate places:

The doctor’s office. Well, considering it was my “annual,” perhaps that was appropriate.

My mammogram. Hmmm… Heaving Bosoms, Squishing Bosoms… yeah. Appropriate.
Waiting for one of my kids to fill out paperwork for that first job… Again, considering that heaving bosoms (TMI? Sorry) and romance did lead to that child’s conception… again, appropriate.

Okay, so pretty much any place is appropriate to read this book—who doesn’t like to laugh?

But more than laughter, and all kidding aside, I have to tell you that this book is written by women (smart women) who love romance. And who get it. Romance in all its former bodice-ripping, and current women-empowering glory.

Today I have Smart Bitch Sarah, co-author of Beyond Heaving Bosoms, here to chat and everyone who comments gets entered in the drawing to win your very own copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms. ( Be sure to leave your email address!)


Judi: Hi Sarah and welcome to my Journey to Publication and Beyond. I’d love to hear about yours. You say that this book is all Rose Hilliard’s fault. How exactly did that happen? Were you and Candy thinking about writing a book or did this happen over a glass of wine (or several) at a conference?

Sarah: Candy and I were absolutely gobsmacked one day to receive an email from Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s Press, who asked if we’d ever thought about writing a book about romance novels. After we picked ourselves off the floor, we spoke to her by phone, and she said she’d send us some sample proposals to show us how that whole tricky proposal thing works. We had a conversation with her where we talked about crazy ideas – especially things we couldn’t do on the website due to the constraints of webpage formatting, and then our ideas went crazypants, and through IM sessions and email and late night notes to each other, a book was crafted.Judi: I LURRRRVETM the Smart Bitches Dictionary, including the nod to JR Ward’s character names. But why isn’t it longer? I think you could write an entire book on the dictionary alone. Any plans in that direction-or for another book?

Sarah: Another book? No, I think we shot our wad with this one. The Bitches Dictionary was actually part of the proposal, if you can believe it. The Bitches’ Dictionary came together as Candy and I emailed back and forth definitions to one another, until we had a page and a half of them. We wrote that a loooong time ago, and it’ s still applicable – which shows how timeless romance tropes can be, and how fun it is to poke at them,  ha ha.
Judi: Going through the process of crafting a book myself, I’m in awe of people who do it together. How did it work for you and Candy?

Sarah: We did it as we do most things: we stumbled through. We had ideas and rough outlines of topics for each chapter, and we wrote in sections, similar to the length of a blog entry, that we added to and developed until they were more chapter length. We emailed things back and forth, editing and adding, and then compiled it into a manuscript. It’s a lot of joined pieces, linked by our senses of humor.
Judi: The 10 Commandments of Heroine Conduct. Can I just say: O. M. G.! Obviously, though, you pulled these from actual stories. How could you possibly narrow it down to just ten? What didn’t make the list?

Sarah: What didn’t make the list? Anything having to do with heroine shoe fetishes, smoking, and perms!
Judi: As I was laughing my way through this, seeing both the humor and the truth so snarkily put in some cases, I also felt as if I were reading someone’s thesis. You quote others’ papers/studies/etc., any plans to use this book in that direction?

Sarah: You know, if I could swing a graduate degree out of this one, I’d be so amused. Candy’s working on her JD, but I don’t know that law degrees can be based in part on Bitcherating. We’re both lit geeks and are educated in English literature and critical theory, so it absolutely influences how we look at romance novels, and their significance to and influence on the women and men who read them. Funny enough, one of the reasons I left grad school was because the program I was in didn’t seem to have enough room for me to explore romance novels as a viable subject for graduate study. That and the complete lack of jobs.

The best part about working with Candy is that at the beginning of the site itself, and even now, when we work together, we mostly just crack each other up. We’re both lit geeks, we both adore romance, and we both approach it from completely different perspectives and experiences. So writing a book and talking about all the things we loved about the genre was tremendously entertaining. I hope that comes through in the book.






Judi: When you started writing this, what was the reaction to this book among your family and friends? The Bitchery? The authors who gave you quotes?  

Sarah: My family and friends: You’re writing a book on what?
The Bitchery: Woo!
The authors: Woo!
Judi: The cover. I know it’s said authors get no input, but I was asked about mine-were you two? I love that it’s a tie-in to the 50s’ header on the blog. Conscious decision? Serendipity? Incredibly clever Art Department? And the title-who came up with it?

Sarah: Serendipity and a marvelous art department and cover illustrator. The cover was painted by Michael Koelsch, and it’s luscious. I love the old-skool look of it, and the hidden phalli!

Seriously – I had some of the most insightful conversations with different authors about the book and the novels they’ve written. Lisa Kleypas, Nora Roberts, Emma Holly, Barbara Ferrer, Laura Kinsale, Selah March, Kathleen O’Reilly, Jennifer Crusie, Jon Paul, John DeSalvo and Many Many Others gave me a LOT of their time and I’m so grateful.

One of the aspects of the book that I’m most proud of is the fact that it spans across publishing houses, genres, and time of publication to bring together many of the women and men who make romance what it is today. It’s not nearly just about us – that would be hellaboring. It’s about the genre as a whole – which is worth celebrating.


The title was decided by the website community. No, really. The original title was “Heaving Bosoms and Throbbing Members,” and we didn’t love it. So we asked the Bitchery in August 2008 to help us pick via internet poll, and that’s the title that won. Here are the results. Check it out:

Smart Bitches,Trashy Books: Behind the Heaving Bosoms of Romance Novels

37% (461)

Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels

  47% (590)

Behind the Heaving Bosoms and Throbbing Members: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels

  14% (171)

Parsing the Inter-Textuality of Ejaculative Emissions: an Examination of the Immanent Altern

  2% (31)

Judi: I love the Big Mis game, and promise to play it when I’m out of deadline hell. How did that evolve? I’m sure there are tons of stories about it, care to share any?

Sarah: The Big Mis game was something we came up with when we first talked about Things To Do In the Book That We Can’t Do on the Website. I have the original drawing version of it – I drew it with my son’s crayons, a sharpie, and some stamps from my mother in law’s craft collection. I should probably frame it.
Judi: I have to ask this because if you spend any time whatsoever on my Fun Stuff page of my website, you know I’m a Fabio fan. Did you contact him for the book? If so, he obviously declined? If not, why?

Sarah: I stalked him! I phoned anyone I could think of that might possibly have a way of reaching him. I called authors who were represented by people who may have at one time lived next door to someone who might possibly have seen Fabio at a gas station. I was shameless. He probably thought about a restraining order, but he definitely didn’t return my calls or email messages. Alas.
Judi: So now that there is the template for writing your own paranormal, regency, and vampire, romance novels at the back of the book, are you planning to give that a shot? And if so, what genre? (Or maybe a regency vampire full of wereweasels?)

Sarah: Me? Oh, boy. My fiction is an exercise to remind myself how hard it is to write fiction! My prose muscles are strong; my fiction muscles need a nap. But now that you’ve mentioned Regency wereweasels….

Judi: Favorite. Book. Evah. Yes, you must pick one.

Sarah: One!? Crap. OK. The book that rocked my world so much hat I still think about it: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore.

Judi: Least. Favorite. Book. Evah. (You know you can name at least one!)
Sarah: Honey Moon by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. My first wall banger.
Judi: Anything else you want to cover? (And, no, I’m not talking about John DeSalvo…)

Sarah: Poor John. I want to buy the man a beer for being a nice guy and answering all my nebby questions.


I will say this, though – when I reached out to John DeSalvo, he could not have been more gracious and happy to work with me.


Thank you for having me, Judi!!


Remember to leave your email address so we can notify you if you win – check back on Wednesday for the winner  - and be sure to stop by my blog all next week, where I’ll be blogging from RT, like I did last year. (Sadly, I doubt Fabio will show… sigh. But I do believe John is going to be there. I’ll have to hunt him down, I mean, find him and get a picture. Jimmy Thomas has promised me one, so look for that.)

Oh, and feel free to register for my contest to win one of 3 romantic getaway beach packages to celebrate the release of my 3 merman/maid stories!

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.”

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

April’s Website:        
April’s blog:

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:

Bus, Train and Automobiles – My 2009 Conference Schedule

And not an airplane in sight this year. That’ll seem weird.

I just posted a comment at Deb Maher’s blog about Nationals in DC (driving) – I cannot wait!! First of all, I’m always excited for National, and second, this one will be the first one I’m signing at. Talk about a rush! My book will have been out for a month, so I’m hoping people will have read it and stop by to let me know how they liked it. (I’ve already gotten a review, so that was cool!)

I love getting together with friends from around the country – and the world (shout out to Tracey in Oz and Helen, Evonne & Lynne across the pond).

Writing conferences energize me. I know some people get exhausted, but I love them. I thrive on the energy, the bustle, the constant go. Oh, don’t get me wrong; you don’t have to constantly be on the go. There’s plenty of time for downtime; I just choose not to find it. :)

I’m also heading to NY for the PASIC Conference (bus) – my first one. Again, I’m really looking forward to it – especially hanging out with my roomies! I’m told this conference is a blast and my agent’s going to be there, a Wombat or two, so it should be great.

Then, of course, there’s the annual trek to the Romantic Times Convention. This year it’s in Orlando and Steph and I are rediscovering our PSU roots – we’re going on a road trip to Orlando! She’ll have her Sirius radio and I’ll have my Combos (original flavor) and off we go!

In June comes the Long Island Luncheon (car, train, train, taxi) – an event near and dear to my heart. The ladies there do a wonderful job with the luncheon and industry personnel – that event helped me sell my Mer trilogy last year, so you can bet I’ll be back!

So, as I sit here putting the finishing touches on Wild Blue Under, I’m already planning the costumes at RT, promotion for In Over Her Head, (mentally working on Catch of a Lifetime), I’m getting really excited. So who else is going???

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?

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.


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

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

“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 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

T-Minus XX and counting

My 3 books with Sourcebooks come out next June, August and October and if you do the math, that’s under a year for the first one. Luckily for me, the first one is written and edits are in (yay!) Books 2 and 3, however, are a different story.

I’d come up with the partials a while ago, but hadn’t worked on them all that much because, let’s face it, if Book 1 didn’t sell, write work on a series that won’t? So, I kept those stories in the back of my brain and prayed someday I could write them.

Voila! Welcome to Someday. Only now, I’m in deadline mode – I’ve got 2 books to finish in the next six months and have them at the same level as book 1. But the nice thing about letting the stories “sit,” was that the characters kept talking to me. I’d been working on another first book of a series during this time period and Rod and Valerie, and Angel and Logan wouldn’t stop talking to me. I ended up getting the black moment of book 3, an interesting idea for the heroine’s character in book 2 and enough inspiration to keep butting into the other series.

It’s fun when things like that happen; even more fun when I actually get to WRITE these stories.

Just, please, remind me of the fun when I’m pulling my hair out as the final deadline approaches!

Blurbs for my stories can be found at:

Publisher Party

FIRST OFFICIAL: Publisher Party!

Thanks to my Casa-sisters for providing the pictures below from our party on Friday, October 1. Driven in limos from the SF Marriott to Ghiradelli Square, to the restaurant Ana Mandara with our publisher Dominique Raccah, editor Deb Werksman and her husband, and publicist, Danielle Jackson, about a dozen and a half Sourcebook authors had a GREAT time!

(back, L-R) Michele Ann Young, Linda Wisdom, Dominique, Gloria Skinner/Amelia Grey, Beth Cornielson, Sharon Lathan, Danielle  (FRONT L-R) Deb, Robin Kaye, Marie Force, Malena Lott, moi, Loucinda McGary

(back, L-R) Michele Ann Young, Linda Wisdom, Dominique, Gloria Skinner/Amelia Grey, Beth Cornielson, Sharon Lathan, Danielle (FRONT L-R) Deb, Robin Kaye, Marie Force, Malena Lott, moi, Loucinda McGary

my editor, Deb Werksman and my publisher, Dominique Raccah

my editor, Deb Werksman and my publisher, Dominique Raccah


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