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 Password is a terrible thing to lose

Top 5 Finalist

Top 5 Finalist

Top 20 Finalist out of 2,676 entries

Top 20 Finalist


Yes, it’s been over a year since my last post. From the title of this post, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory why.

Sad, I know.

On the upside, it’s also been a productive year. I entered the original Gather.com/Simon&Schuster First Chapters contest with Beauty and The Best. It finished in the Top 20 out of over 2,700 entries and was the only Romance in the bunch. Then, Gather did another First Chapters contest, this time strictly for Romance. My latest story, In Over Her Head, finished in the Top 5, but more importantly, garnered me multiple agent offers and I signed with my agent – all in approximately two weeks. What a great two weeks that was!

So now I’m in wait mode as the manuscript makes the rounds in NY and I’m working on edits to other manuscripts and the muse is chatting away with new ideas.

I’m so thankful for all the support from those who emailed me to enter the First Chapters Romance contest – people who had only known of me through the original First Chapters contest and who embraced In Over Her Head every bit as much as they did Beauty and The Best. I write because I have to, but it’s so gratifying to have people enjoy my stories.

Here’s hoping by next year this time I’ll have book news to share. If not, I’ll still be writing.

It’s All About The Publicity, Folks

I’ve been on a few blogs since Round 2 of American Title started because there were some inflammatory, controversial (? take your pick of word) comments made from the judges and people got upset. I understand. Believe me, I do. It’s my baby out there as well. Frankly, I’m kind of bummed in a manner of speaking that Beauty and The Best didn’t get too badly drilled, because, let’s face it, in our society, controversy gets noticed. It sells. it gets the publicity.

 I could use some more publicity 🙂 I want to make it to Round 3. Any celebrity endorsements out there? Nike? Canon? Dorchester? (LOL)

 But seriously, yes, the judges have been harsh, but the beauty of their harshness (notice how I worked BEAUTY in there), is that it’s gotten people talking. People blogging. People commenting. Probably has gotten people to go to the RT website to check out exactly what everyone’s talking about. On one of the blogs I read, someone said that she was going to forward the judge’s incendiary comment about women in combat to women in combat who have never even picked up Romantic Times.  And there would be the value in bad publicity. A whole new set of people unaware of the magazine’s existence, will now be aware of it. Yes, they’ll probably be angry, but they’ll talk.

Think about our society as a whole – one where publicity can put a good spin on a bad situation. I just read today that one Bahrainian living aging pop star is making a comeback in the States. Don’t get me started on the whole but-he-didn’t-get-convicted-of-anything-nasty thing. But we are a curious society who, once the hubbub dies down seem to be a forgiving one. I believe there’s a convicted-in-one-court murderer walking around on a golf course in this country giving interviews and still maintaining a decent lifestyle. Too bad this person’s victim isn’t. But the media has forgiven this person for a story.

 Am I saying this is right? No, most definitely not. Am I saying that this is the way our society works? Sadly, yes. A certain pop star is forgiven for the extremely bad taste in pursuing a member of the opposite sex who was still in a relationship with a child on the way, now that that relationship has gone bad. Publicity.

I bet more people are talking about those American Title finalists with the controversial comments than those who don’t have the controversy. Will it segue into more votes for them? Who knows. What I do know is that each of us has put our work up for public scrutiny and that this is a tough business. But it is a business.

And controversy sells.

Besides, it’s getting us ready for critics. 🙂

Best of luck to us in Round 3 – who knows what the judges will say then?

Have a good week and don’t forget to start thawing that turkey over the weekend!  -Judi

The House That Judi Built…Is Building…Whatever

I’ve been a bad girl about blogging. I’m on 2 (this one and MavensOfThePen.blogspot.com) and I’ve dropped the ball. Sigh. One of those things in life that sometimes has to fall by the wayside. Getting the knee in working order and working has taken precedence over the world of web logs, as has the revisions I’m doing on my time travel. I’ve got some folks interested in them and for a while had the proverbial writer’s block.

Oh, not that I didn’t know what to write. It was just that I was re-ordering events in the story and upping a secondary plot, and of course that has to weave in with the main plot, so there was some scene manipulation going on… It was like looking at blueprints and knowing you still had the house to build. I was seeing the house and not the walls and it was just too overwhelming.

So, I finally nailed a few 2X4s together and just started building the darn thing. You know, a few boards, a few nails, some time and voila! you’ve got a wall. A few more nails and boards and time and you’ve got a room. Keep at it and pretty soon the whole first floor is done and, well, you get the image.

Chicken Little

The end is coming, the end is coming… Sounds like Chicken Little, right? Unfortunately, Lil Chicky would be right – for 2 of the American Title Finalists, the end is coming. And, boy, does that put a hole in my gut. It could be me. (But not if you vote for Beauty and The Best 🙂 ) Or, if not me, one of the other 9 people I’ve grown to know and like through our shared experiences on the loop. We’re all sitting on pins and needles hoping we’re spared. Who came up with this contest anyway? 🙂 Why did I enter? What was I thinking? Well, that last one is easy. I was thinking that I really liked my story and the readers who’ve read it have loved it. What better way to publication than to have readers choose it?

It’s the hope that keeps us going. But it’s always nice for validation and that’s what everyone’s comments have done for me. You write a story, then put it out there, like sending your child off to kindergarten. Will all the other kids talk nicely to yours? Include him in the group? Or push him around and talk about him behind his back? It’s the same pain, the same worries, because you’ve put your heart into this story too.

In all the ups and downs in this business, there is one contest judge comment I keep coming back to. A question on the score sheet was, “What, if anything, do you find wrong with this entry?” and her answer was, “The only thing wrong with this entry was that I didn’t write it.” That made my day. For all the disparaging marks about my chatty heroine, for the “almost” rejections, that one comment makes me smile. It tells me that judge got the story, got the heroine’s pain, the hero’s futility and the voice and, for her, it worked.

 It’s comments like those that keep me moving forward. Someone likes my stuff. (Well, more than one someone.) Sometimes in this business, you need words like that to hold on to. I know I wrote her a thank you note telling her how much those words meant to me, but I want to reiterate them publicly. That’s how to inspire. She didn’t have to go that far, she could have just said, “Good job.” But she gave me words to cling to.

So, as the contest draws to a close for two of us, find the words to cling to that show this isn’t the end of the story. Someone thought enough of our work to put us in this contest in the first place. If it doesn’t find a home here, it’s just one more paver in the road to publication. Maybe this paver leads you to the left, maybe to the right, maybe you just keep going straight.

But whatever, you do, keep going.

Best of luck to my fellow contestants!

The Polls Are Open

It’s finally here! The day the 10 of us have been waiting for – American Title goes live to the public!

 What excitement! What a rush! What hype!

What the heck happened to my ISP???

 It figures. To quote someone I found deliriously and deliciously funny, Gilda Radnor, “It’s always something!”

So why does your ISP decide to play an April Fool’s joke on you in October (and hello? Did the calendar get the memo that Friday was the 13th???) -the ONE DAY you want it to work properly, it decides to go on vacation? I can (luckily) say that this was not my fate, but it happened to one of us. Another one had her ISP do something wacky with all her email addresses, so she had to re-type them all in and mine decided to play prima donna by allowing me to send my message to only 100 people at a time. Hello? Does it know how many spam lists I had to plunder…I mean, how many friends I have?

But it’s been quite fun, too. Giving spur-of-the-moment interviews to interested parties, sending out Thank You emails galore, keeping tabs on my fellow contestants as they hit the bottle, well, when they SAY they were hitting the bottle. They don’t really do that, I know, but they had to make me feel like part of the team since I’m still on meds from my surgery (and, yes, today the knee bent to 40 degrees – woo hoo! and OMG the pain!).

I’m planning to enjoy the next two weeks – because until then, we’re all still on the starting line up. Two of us will go to back-up status on the 30th and while whoever it is will still carry the glory of the team, right now it’s nice to know we’re all part of that line up. (Yes, I went to a football school which will explain my football references and also Jolie’s – my heroine. Check her out at: http://www.judifennell.com/BATB.htm .)

So, head on out to the first play of the game, ladies and gent! And remember, Go Team AT3!

Oh, and while you’re at it, vote for Beauty and The Best:  webmaster@RomanticTimes.com

(I’m in this for the SuperBowl ring, people! Or is that SuperBowl contract….)

T Minus 4 and Counting

Well, it’s all set to begin on Monday, October 16. We, the finalists, have been told the “go live” date for announcing us online is that day, the day the voting begins. I have to admit to excited jittery butterflies in my stomach. It’s one thing to show your story to your critique partners. It’s another to submit it to contests, then editors and agents.

But now, before we’ve gotten a contract (if even), we’re putting it out there for the general public. Talk about scary. Talk about exciting. Talk about nerve-wracking. I mean, this is my baby. It’s the story that wouldn’t stop. The characters who wouldn’t stop talking [vote me through to the dialogue scene and you’ll understand what I mean 🙂 ] It’s the story I love, that I had to write, that spoke to me at 5 am on SuperBowl Sunday, 2005 (Jolie spit out the first 20 pages in under 2 minutes and I ended up with writer’s cramp trying to get it all in my flip notebook I keep by my bed for these types of emergencies. Oh, big shout out “Thank You!” to Anna DeStefano for giving those notebooks away one year. It’s got at least 5 of my stories’ beginnings in it.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, the nerves. The uncertainty. Will anyone admit to sheer panic? I mean, we’ve got a “Simon, Randy and Paula” looking at these entries and commenting on them. And then the public…  I voted in the first two American Titles. I loved reading the entries. I commiserated with the authors as they said their goodbyes, then celebrated when some of them then sold. I was thrilled for the winners when they were announced. I mean, how cool was that? Their manuscript became a book.

And now it’s my turn. Wow.

That about sums it up. Wow.

I now understand the Academy Award nominees who say, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.” It is. An honor and amazing and Wow. These folks I’m grouped with are one talented bunch and the public is going to get one terrific book when it’s all over and done with. Maybe more than one, who knows?

To my fellow finalists, I say, “best of luck and enjoy the ride.” To the voting public I say, “Enjoy the entries.” 

Oh, well that and “Vote for Beauty and The Best.”

Have a nice Thursday.  🙂