Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Blog Tour of Wild Blue Under with Guest Post by Judi Fennell & a giveaway

I'm excited to be part of the Book Blog Tour of Wild Blue Under by Judi Fennell. We're fortunate to have her here today to share with us she came up with the idea for this unusual Mer novel and the research and preparation behind the world that she's created for Wild Blue Under.


Judi Fennell Guest Blog, author of Wild Blue Under

November 5, 2009

Hi Gaby and thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to chat about how I came up with Wild Blue Under.

When I was writing the first book, In Over Her Head, I hadn't planned a series, mainly because I didn’t know if my “little talking fish story” would sell or not. I wrote it as part of a larger Fairy Tale series (Cinda Bella, Fairest of Them All, and Beauty and The Best). So when I decided to pitch the book as a Mer series, I had to come up with two more stories and make them different than the first.

That was the tough part. My natural inclination was to set each story under the sea, but how many different reactions could I come up with for three Humans discovering Atlantis for the first time? I figured everyone would be shocked and surprised, so that wasn't going to be all that different. Ergo, I had to make the basic premise of the stories different - and what could be more different from a Human going into the sea to find a Merman than a Merman coming out of the sea to convince a Human he is what he says he is… and that she’s one as well.

When I wrote In Over Her Head, I was able to create Atlantis and the rest of the underwater world any way I wanted. I brought in myths of sea monsters and the Bermuda Triangle. I added magic so I could cloak everything from Humans. I even gave Jacques Cousteau a nod. But when I moved the story on land for Wild Blue Under, I had to deal with reality. I became confined by what we all know as fact. I guess I could have tossed some more magic in, but that seemed like a cop-out to me. Magic for magic's sake is like sex for sex's sake in a story: nice but not necessarily adding anything. And I like to put as much realism into my paranormal worlds so that the suspension of disbelief isn't that hard to make.

I picked Kansas as the location for the story because the town of Lebanon is the geographic center of the lower forty-eight states, and it seemed like that'd be the place to hide from Mers. That was easy. But then I had to “visit” the real town to get my fictional town as close to the original as possible (although I never make the claim that the town is Lebanon in the story because I like to be able to manipulate the layout without angering the inhabitants). For all the hoopla that Lebanon is the center of the US, there are relatively few pictures of the town online. Luckily, one of my fellow Writing Wombats, Jamie Chapman, lives within driving distance and had a few hours to spare on a weekend afternoon, so she drove there to do a little research.

In fact, several Wombats helped with bird research, others with marketing, and Pat and Ed Shaw took a Sunday afternoon drive to visit motels around Columbus, Ohio for the book. An RWA chapter-mate and author, Adele Dubois, was driving that way on a visit to family and grabbed some pictures and brochures along the way. It doesn't hurt that I made that trip with my family, but that was years ago, so the updated info/pictures were good to have.

So I took the pictures, added my plot, tweaked a few things to fit and voila! I had a fictional Kansas town, the cross-country drive and then I let my imagination take flight. Actually, I let the birds of the area take flight. The story needed some action. A 1300-mile drive could make for a very boring story, so how do you liven it up?

Put the characters in peril.

What kind of peril would be plausible since Rod, the Mer Prince, is hundreds of miles from home? Birds ought to do it—dive-bombing peregrines, fish-bombs from an albatross, crows dropping things from the skies and vultures planning to shut down airports… I had a ton of fun doing the research.

And then serendipity came into play. I've always been amazed when I'm doing research and find something to be the way I need it to be, or something shows up just when I need it. For example, I was examining the idea of using peregrine falcons as projectile missiles, when I walked into our living room where my husband was watching some nature show—on the flight mechanisms of peregrine falcons. Needless to say, that show got DVR'd. Since I write paranormal, I choose to think it's the universe telling me I'm on the right track with my stories. :)

Another cog in the wheel of creating Wild Blue Under was the movie, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (complete with an actress named Ethel Merman). The movie is a cross-country treasure hunt with the travelers all trying to find the treasure before the other.

I don't set out with a certain framework in mind, the same way that I don't plot the whole story. Usually I know how it begins, perhaps what the “black” moment is, and some general idea of where it's going. Usually I'm right, but not always. The beauty of not plotting is that the story can go where it wants.

The downside of not plotting is the same thing. Sometimes I write myself in a totally different direction from where I'd thought it'd go and have to re-do certain aspects. That's what the second draft is for! But the fun part of writing is the sense of discovery I have along with my characters. Sometimes they'll “tell” me where they want it to go: case in point is the next book, Catch of a Lifetime (February 2010). It started going down a road I hadn't planned, nor wanted, so I had to go back and change a few things to get it on track. And you know what? It still went down that path, only with a different twist that I liked a lot more.

I hope you enjoy discovering the journey Rod and Valerie make in the story. I did. Are there any movies that have influenced your writing? Or perhaps something you'd like to see "re-done" as a book? I'm always open for suggestions!

To celebrate the release of Wild Blue Under (and all my stories) I'm raffling off a Romantic Beach Getaway Weekend to the Atlantis Inn in Ocean City, NJ ( with the final drawing on November 30, and to the Hibiscus House in West Palm Beach, FL ( for Catch of a Lifetime, drawing date to be February 28, 2010. Information on how to enter is available on my website:


Judi, thank you for sharing so much about your creative and writing process. Learning the different decisions that you went through and the steps that you took brings another level of understanding and enjoyment to my reading of the book. Congratulations on Wild Blue Under! I'm look forward to your next work. Thank you again for generously sharing your time and thoughts!

The blurb:

WILD BLUE UNDER—book 2 in the Mer Series—in stores November 2009!

The underwater kingdom is his as soon as he claims his queen…

Rod Tritone has the looks and charm to snag any queen he wants for his Mer kingdom, but unfortunately, it's not up to him. As fate would have it, the one woman destined to rule with him is terrified of water…

She lives in land-locked Kansas and has no idea she's a princess…

Valerie Dumere thinks Rod is gorgeous and irresistible—but why does he keep insisting she has another side to herself that only he can show her?

Somehow, Rod has to prove to her who she really is. But when she finds out the truth, will she ever forgive him?

About the Author:

Judi Fennell is an award-winning author. Her romance novels have been finalists in's First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, as well as the third American Title contest. She spends family vacations at the Jersey Shore, the setting for some of her paranormal romance series. She lives in suburban Philadelphia, PA.

Danielle and SourceBooks are generously giving away Judi Fennell's first two Mer novels (In Over Her Head and Wild Blue Under) to one lucky reader.


To enter, please comment on Judi Fennell's guest post above.

Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry.
For an extra entry, visit Judi Fennell's website and come back and tell me something that you learned from her site.

The contest is limited to US and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on November 30, 2009. Thank you so much, Danielle and SourceBooks for sponsoring this giveaway!


  1. Good morning! I'm off to a local bookstore to check out the Wild Blue Under display and get some writing done, but they've been advtg they're getting internet, so I'll check back in. If not, I'll do it on my lunch break.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by and thanks, again, Gaby for having me!

  2. On Judi's website, I learned that you can buy her books at Target, Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.


  3. Hi, Judi. I feel like I'm following you from blog to blog! I live in Kansas, and I have never visited the city of Lebanon! (I had to look on a map to see where in the state it was.) I'm going to have to make it a weekend trip at some point. Congratulations on your new release!

    On Judi's website, I learned that she is on Gather, Facebook, My Space, Twitter & GoodReads.


    Diana Owen-Emerson

  4. I have admired Judi’s work for several years and I’m proud of her accomplishments with this series. This discussion detailing the journey to this point is both informative and enjoyable. Thanks for sharing this and I appreciate this interview.

    Fellow Wambat ~ Ty Touchard

  5. Hi anonymous! Thanks for checking it out!

    Diana - feel free to follow me around! It's nice to know people are "listening." And please, if you do go, post some pictures on the internet. There are so few of the actual town. The monument, yes. Town? Not so much!

    Ty - Hiya, fellow 'bat! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. No need to enter me, Gaby. I'm dropping in to let you know that Judi sent me the link to this, so I've posted it at Win a Book.

  7. I just got my copy of the book, so no need to enter me either! I'm just along for the Judi Tour!

  8. Please enter me in the giveaway,thise series is on my TBR list.

    Something I learned from her site is her next series about genies will be out in the fall of 2010


  9. This sounds like a fun series. I think it's great that she didn't want to add magic for magic's sake. Please enter me.

    carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

  10. Hi Judi,
    I think it's interesting to have a mermaid in Kansas! Can't wait to read the book.

    I visited your site and found out that your favorite books are Bewitching by Jill Barnett and A Knight In Shining Armor, by Jude Devereaux.

    chey127 at hotmail dot com

  11. Thank you again for stopping by. Real life is calling (I hate when that happens), but I'll be back. Chat amongst yourselves. :)

  12. Hey Gaby, no need to enter me... Just wanted to drop by to let you know that I have pimped the contest out on my side bar!~! Have a great day!

  13. What folks don't know is that Judi is so sweet and nice that when she asks if you can please go take pictures for her of some out-of-the-way place, you never mind, and it always turns into a fun adventure! No need to enter me for the books, since I already have them, but what a great article--plus, I'm a Writin' Wombat! We love to help out folks!

  14. Shawna L

    Yep this is a story for me the interview/review was just what I needed to send me to the book store (on line of course) and look this book up!!!
    Count me in for I so do hope to win this wonderful book!!

  15. Hi Judi, the wombats have enjoyed watching your progress up the charts. Thanks for sharing a bit of process on how Wild Blue Under came together.

    James Rafferty
    jay (at) humancomm (dot) com

  16. Hi Judi, the wombats have enjoyed watching your progress up the charts. Thanks for sharing a bit of process on how Wild Blue Under came together.

    James Rafferty
    jay (at) humancomm (dot) com

  17. Gaby, you brought a great author for us to meet! Thank you.

    Judi, I learned so much more from this blog about your process and how you get help from your friends, movies and other sources. I learned from your website that you are on just about every social network we've got... Twitter, Facebook and of course Gather. I can't wait to read your new book, Rod sounds as sexy and hot as Reel was. Thanks for the memories! Hope I win!

  18. Aha! The secrets to dissecting a mer-tale are revealed. Good to have friends for research purposes at your disposal, good friends.

    Very informative, Judi. I like how you describe the your writing process.

    No WBU for me, I just finished it! Yum...

  19. No WBU for me either as I had the privilege of reading the ARC and doing a review.

    Yes, Judi has a way with asking for answers for her questions, like do storms really blow up fast. Can it be sunshine one moment and suddenly there be rain. do you see sea gulls here or there inland.

    We all enjoy her ^excursions* and now we get to visit with genies. Wait until you guys get to read those. Hoo Hah!

    Wishing you lots of success with WBU, Judi!

    Gaby, nice blog. I enjoyed looking around and visiting with you here. :-)

  20. My Wombats are checking in! You all ROCK!

  21. Madwoman-doing-cartwheelsNovember 6, 2009 at 9:27 AM

    My gosh, I have been waiting on Pins and needles for another book from you Judi! I loved In Over Her Head SO much. Actually, I have not wanted to lend it out even though asked as I'm afraid I won't get it returned so this giveaway would be awesome to win as I'd actually have a Book 1 to share and not have to worry.

    rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

  22. I enjoyed the first one and I've been looking forward to this one!

  23. I've looked forward to this book since I saw the display at BEA! ::huggles the cover:: plus I loved the first one so much!


  24. This sounds like a great series!

  25. Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is one of my favorite movies! My son just loves it too.
    +1 Judi has another series coming out in in 2010 about genies.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  26. This series sounds great!
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  27. I learned that her next series will be out in the fall of 2010.

  28. I would love to read this series! Thanks for a chance to win! mesreadsATgmailDOTcom

  29. At Judi's site I learned that her imaginary friend was Casper the Friendly Ghost!

  30. It's so interesting to learn the process a writer goes through to write a book - I enjoyed this post.
    Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

  31. At Judi's site I learned that her favorite books are Bewitching by Jill Barnett and A Knight In Shining Armor, by Jude Devereaux.

  32. I learned that Juli is on several websites including Gather, Facebook, My Space, Twitter & GoodReads.

  33. At Judi's dite I learned her next series will be out in the fall 2010.