Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Update 2/26

At last I have good news to report! My brilliant (!), visionary (!!), market-savvy (!!!) Putnam editor made an offer on my new proposal. (I would add that she's also cute, but I don't want to lay it on too thick.)

Anyway, I'm thrilled that I still have a career and am so damned excited about this book. The working title is FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, and it will be published in hardcover by Putnam in 2012, with a Berkley paperback to follow.

More details, soon.

That's about all I want to say about my week, except for one more thing, which I offer with a big kineinahorah poo-poo ... it looks very much like I may have good news to report next week for my husband's career as well.

Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, February 22, 2010


By Hank Phillippi Ryan

This is a first for me--I actually get to blog about a member of the Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit right after attending an event.

If you're not from the Boston area you might not know that in addition to being an award-winning mystery writer, Hank Phillippi Ryan is an Emmy-winning investigative reporter and a TV icon in Massachusetts.

She's also a charming and inspiring speaker ...

And a warm, delightful person.
Plus, she just found out that AIR TIME, the third book in her series, was nominated for an Agatha Award. Way to go, Hank!

But today I want to talk to you about the latest book, DRIVE TIME, which could very well go on to win an award of its own one day. Here's the synopsis:

Investigative reporter Charlotte McNally is an expert at keeping things confidential, but suddenly everyone has a secret, and it turns out it may be possible to know too much. Charlie's latest TV scoop--an expose of a dangerous recalled car scam complete with stakeouts, high-speed chases and hidden-camera footage--is ratings gold. But soon that leads her to a brand new and diabolical scheme (incredibly timely!) that could put every driver in danger.

Charlie's personal and professional lives are on a collision course, too. Her fiancé is privy to information about threats at an elite private school that have suddenly turned deadly.

Charlie has never counted on happy endings. But now, just as she's finally starting to believe in second chances, she realizes revenge, extortion and murder might leave her alone again. Or even dead. Emmy and Agatha award winning reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan proves that when everyone has a secret, the real mystery is knowing when to tell.

Hank was kind enough to answer some interview questions about the book, so here goes ...

I can't help noticing that your main character, 'Charlie' McNally has more in common with you than a boyish name--you're both investigavie journalists. Are you and Charlie very much alike in other ways?

When my husband talks about Charlie, he calls her “you.” As in—when “you” are held at gunpoint, when you track down the bad guys, when you solve the mystery… and I have to remind him, “Sweetheart, it’s fiction. It didn’t really happen.”

But a couple of things: I’ve been a TV reporter for more than 30 years. (Yes, really.) And so it would be silly, in writing a mystery about TV, not to use my own experiences. Think about it—as a TV reporter, you can never be wrong! Never be one minute late. Never choose the wrong word or miscalculate. You can never have a bad hair day, because it’ll be seen by millions of people! It’s high-stakes and high-stress—literally, people’s lives at stake--and I really wanted to convey that in the books.

And everything that TV people do and say in the books is authentic and genuine. (Of course, Charlie can say things I can’t say, and reveal things I can’t reveal.) We’re both devoted journalists, and over-focused on our jobs.

But Charlotte McNally is different, too. She’s single—I’m happily married. She’s ten years younger than I am, and so is facing different choices and dilemmas. She’s braver than I am, certainly. Funnier. And a much better driver.

You’ve got four books under your belt, you’ve won an Agatha, and been compared to Lisa Scottoline. Will there come a time when you say goodbye to journalism to focus full time on your fiction?

Ain't that the question! I still smile in delight every time I see my Agatha teapot. And when the starred review in Library Journal for DRIVE TIME compared me to Lisa Scottoline, well, I burst into tears. But I still love my job in TV. So--you could ask me that question every day, and every day I'd have a different answer. And I guess the bottom line is: who knows?

Any plans to write a non Charlotte McNally novel?

Yup. Absolutely. It's in the works. You heard it here first.

Any mistakes you’ve made along the way, have you learned anything from them?

Hah. That’s another long blog for another day. Mistakes? Ah, on a huge level, people always yell at me for working all the time. ALL the time. Is that a mistake? None of this would have happened without that. Would I change it? I have to say no. So is that a mistake? I'm not sure. On a tiny level, I should have put together a mailing list of bookstores. Still haven’t done that. Wish I had.

Any advice for fledgling writers and journalists?

For journalists: Don’t be afraid. Be very afraid. Be scrupulously careful. Think. And think again. Never give up.

For writers? On my bulletin board there are two quotes. One is a Zen saying: “Leap and the net will appear.” To me, that means: Just do it. The other says “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” And I think that’s so wonderful—just have the confidence to carry on. Writing is tough, arduous, not always rewarding in the moment—but no successful author has ever had an easy path. When you hit an obstacle, pat yourself on the back. You’re a writer

Great advice! Thanks so much, Hank. It was great meeting you in person and I wish you tons of luck with your wonderful books!

You can buy DRIVE TIME at the your local chain or independent bookstore. To buy online visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Hank's website at

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Update 2/19

Kids were home all week ("Presidents' Week" here in the Northeast), so not much to report in terms of writing. Just a few odds and ends ...

• On Monday I took the three kids into Manhattan to the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, and then to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. Would not have been my first choice for how to spend the day (Wouldn't you guys rather go to an ART museum?!?!!!), but the kids were thrilled.

• Lovely Valentine's Day all around. Hope yours was swell, too.

• Still impatiently waiting for something to happen professionally, either for me or for my husband (preferably both), but in the meantime a bit of fun news. Thanks to my pal Debbi Honorof, the BOOK & AUTHOR TEA is all set for Sunday, April 18, at Hofstra University. For me, the super-exciting part of this is that the program opens with one of my all-time favorite writers, the witty, wise and wonderful Elinor Lipman. And guess who gets to interview her for the crowd? Yours truly!

Following our talk will be a most excellent panel discussion between mystery writers Cynthia Baxter and Anne Canadeo, moderated by Debbi Honorof.

And this is also very cool--the opening remarks will be made by KJOY radio personality Maria Garcia Kalb.

Mark your calendar now ... registration information to follow soon.

• If you haven't seen the new video feature I added to my blog, please check it out. And send questions!

• That's about it. Stress level still off the charts. Appreciate any positive energy you can send my way.

• Have a great weekend ...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ask the Author, 2/17

Here's a new blog feature I'm going to try doing once a week. People send in questions, I answer them via webcam. If you have questions on writing or publishing, please post them in the comments section below or email me at ellen (at), and I'll try to answer in a future installment.

And now for the debut ...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Update 2/12

Alas, another week has passed with no career news for either me or my husband. If the universe is testing to see how tightly I can be wound before snapping, it had better take a big step back.

Meanwhile, my week ...

• The big news, of course, was the massive snow storm that closed school for two days. We passed the time doing all the normal stuff ... and even making one snow princess.

• The other big news is that my fist born turned 18. Happy birthday, Max! Where did the years go?

• Forgive the bragging, but with all our woes this year I think I deserve to make my bits of nachas public ... all three kids brought home straight A's again. Way to go, my darlings, my heroes ...

• CafeMom interviewed me via webcam about parenting issues and posted it on their site. Check it out.

Edited to add: Just discovered this second video interview with me from CafeMom.

• My friend Michael Palmer, the bestselling thriller writer, was interviewed on WEEI radio about his forthcoming novel, THE LAST SURGEON. One of the best author radio interviews I've ever heard. Do take a listen ... and also check out this link to the charity event/party-of-the-year that will launch the book.

• The big Author Tea at Hofstra this year is going to be on Sunday, April 18. Stay tuned for more news about the featured authors.

• Sorry I didn't start the video blog feature I promised. Things got a little out of hand this week with the school closings ... and next week all three kids are home, so it might take a bit more time. Bear with me.

• Slogging through Thackeray's VANITY FAIR, which is truly wonderful ... but I'd never make it if I didn't have a cheat sheet helping me understand which character is which.

♥ Enjoy your weekend ♥

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday Update 2/5

Another anxious week of waiting for news on my career and my husband's. I'm holding on with the thought that one day I'll look back on the period we're in now and wonder how the hell we lived through it.

Meanwhile, stray thoughts and updates ...

• Lots of fun Saturday night with Delores and Claude, their lovely pal Laura, and all the kidlets.

• Sunday we had family over, and Adam (my sister-in-law Donna's boyfriend), brought the most delish appetizers ... including clams casino. I was in heaven! The weekend before, sister-in-law Barbara and hubby Neil brought over a pot of chili and all the fixin's (beer included!). Do I know how to pick my in-laws or what?

• Hugs to all who asked about my boy. He's feeling better and gaining weight.

• Somehow I missed posting a link to this incredible interview between Jordan Rosenfeld and Susan Henderson. If you're a writer, you'll want to read Susan's thoughts on revision. She is always an inspiration.

• With all due respect, I think the 6th grade teachers in my daughter's school are completely heartless in the amount of homework they assign these kids. Don't they realize the children have other classes? After school activities? My poor kid was weeping in exhaustion last night.

• I started doing a bit of freelance writing for a new community site called Turned in my first article this week. I'll post a link when it goes live.

• Great lunch last Friday with Long Island literati pals Carol Hoenig, Debbi Honorof, Brenda Janowitz and Saralee Rosenberg. Special guest appearance by baby Ben. Fun!

• Next week I'm going to start a new weekly video feature on this blog called "Ask the Author." So if you have any questions--either about the creative or business end of writing and publishing--post it below or send it in an email.

• My cousin Lisa Kudrow produced a terrific new series called WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE that airs on NBC starting March 5. She's even featured in one of the shows. Here's a preview:

• Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 04, 2010


By Judi Fennell

Judi! Judi! Judi!

Today I'm happy to blog about the third book in Judi Fennell's Mer series, CATCH OF A LIFETIME. Here's a little tease to give you a taste ...

She’s on a mission to save the planet…

Mermaid Angel Tritone has been researching humans from afar, hoping to find a way to convince them to stop polluting. When she jumps into a boat to escape a shark attack, it’s her chance to pursue her mission, but she has to keep her identity a total secret…

When he finds out what she really is, they’re both in mortal danger…

For Logan Hardington, finding a beautiful woman on his boat is surely not a problem—until he discovers she’s a mermaid, and suddenly his life is on the line…

And here's what people are saying:

"Fennell's got detailed worldbuilding, creative secondary characters and an impressive use of mythology in this great read. While this title is part of a series, it works well as a stand-alone. Angel and Logan are both incredibly textured characters.
-RT BookReview Magazine 4 Stars

"Judi Fennell has extraordinary imagination and has certainly used it in creating this exciting and colorful story. Her characters are wonderful."
-Fresh Fiction

"The best blend of both worlds. I... love each and every character in Catch of A Lifetime (and) found (it) well worth diving into."
-Long And Short Reviews 4.5 Books

"Catch of a Lifetime is a heart warming tale. Ms. Fennell Ms. Fennell has created a delightful world that, I have enjoyed escaping to. It is both dangerous and fun."
-Anna's Book Blog

Judi was kind enough to answer some questions, so here goes ...

How would you describe the genre of CATCH OF A LIFETIME, and what pulled you toward it?

All of my stories (so far) are tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted paranormals, mainly because that's what I've loved to watch and read over the years. I grew up on I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched and all the Disney movies: Escape to Witch Mountain, the princess stories… Then came Enchanted, which, I swear, Disney made JUST for me! Ever After is another one that I love. Nope, not a stretch to see why I write what I write.

What can you tell us about the genesis of the idea for this book?

My first story, In Over Her Head was a Top 5 finalist in the Books First Chapters Romance Contest and I wanted to show the final judges that I had more than that one book in me, so I came up with the subsequent two books in the series. What made me choose Angel instead of Mariana, her older sister, was that I felt she had more of a story to tell at that point. Now, Mariana is poking me in the shoulder, demanding hers be told.

If your protagonist could change one thing about herself, what would it be?

That's actually what is driving Angel in this story. She's sick of being "Just Angel" to everyone. "Oh, it's just Angel." She's the quintessential middle child and is trying to make a name for herself in a family over super-achievers. Is she successful? You'll have to read the book to find out.

What do you love most about CATCH OF A LIFETIME?

Does "everything" count as an answer? Seriously, I loved putting Angel in a Human world and skewing what she thought she knew. I loved writing Michael, the six year old who's the only Human who knows what Angel is. I love Logan, so out of his element with a kid and a mermaid, but valiantly trying to keep control when it's just spiraling all over the place. The villains were fun to write and Ginger the flamboyant flamingo and Stewart the stubborn anole were a hoot. All in all, it was a great ride.

Is there a story behind the title?

I love playing with language, and puns, and double entendres. Given the fact that she is, sort of, part fish, the title tickled my funny bone.

Did you have any input on the cover, and are you happy with the finished product?

I sent in a "what this story is about" type of write up for the Marketing/Art depts. Where I mention any special themes (in this one, Angel's tail is lavender and they used that on the cover which made me catch my breath the first time I saw it), or important scenes or characters or places. If there's something that bugs me with the cover, I can mention it and they've fixed it for me. But, honestly, I tell everyone that Anne Cain, the artist, is just amazing and I feel as if the Cover Gods have really blessed me.

Can you share some particularly memorable fan mail you received about this or previous books?

A reader emailed me to say that I'd made her cry and that she'd had to skip to the end of the book to make sure it ended the way she wanted it to. She wouldn't have been able to finish it if I hadn't ended it that way. I love that something that took so much passion and commitment on my part had that effect on someone else.

Thanks so much, Judi!

You can buy CATCH OF A LIFETIME at your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit, or any cyber retailer. For more information, visit Judi's website at


To celebrate the release of each of her books, Judi Fennell and the Atlantis Inn ( and the Hibiscus House ( bed and breakfasts are raffling off three romantic beach getaway weekends. All information is on Judi's website,