Thursday, February 25, 2010

GCC Author Interview and book giveaway: Megan Crane

I'm so excited today because the wonderful and prolific Megan Crane has stopped by to chat! And it gets even better-- she's going to be giving away a free signed book!! Deets on how to enter to win are at the bottom of this post.

Megan's here today to tell us all about her latest novel, Everyone Else's Girl. We're celebrating it's UK release, but you can also buy it in the US! (And enter to win it at the bottom of this post....)

What more do I have to tell you about this book other than the fact that goddess writer Meg Cabot said: "Megan Crane rules! Cancel your evening plans: You won't want to stop reading until you've devoured every delicious word."

And if Meg Cabot says that Megan rules, then clearly she does.

So, without further ado, let's hear from Megan!

Tell us about your most recent novel in 25 words or less.

Everyone Else's Girl is the story of Meredith, who must learn to grow up while stuck in her childhood home.

When did you first begin writing?

I've been writing as long as I can remember. My first work was an epic tale called "Casey of Petsy" about a talking horse. I was in the first grade. I wrote the story on construction paper with my crayons, and then provided the illustrations. Once I stopped trying to be an artist, I think the writing really started to take off.

What are you working on right now?

I'm working on my fifteenth novel, which is a romance. I'm pretty excited about it--but less excited about the looming deadline!

[nb: Fifteenth!!! Wow! Megan, you are SUCH an inspiration to us other writers out there!!]

How do you fight writer’s block?

I find that a fearless inventory of my bills usually motivates me pretty quickly. But seriously, I can't have writer's block with so many deadlines. So if I hit a wall, it's usually because I don't know my characters well enough, or have tried to do something in the story that isn't organic. So I back up and try again.

What tips would you offer to aspiring writers?

Just write. All the advice in the world won't amount to much until you get those words on paper. You can do it!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Megan! This was so great-- and inspirational! If you can write fifteen books, maybe I can write a third! Or even do the laundry this week. Next time I don't want to do the laundry, I will think: Megan has written fifteen books and STILL does her laundry! What's your excuse??

Megan, you do your own laundry, right?

Anyhoo, let's get to the contest! If you want to enter to win a copy of Megan's latest, Everyone Else's Girl, just leave a comment below. Winners will be announced on March 11.

And don't forget to stock up on all of her older titles, too!

Monday, February 22, 2010

GCC Author Interview and book giveaway: Hank Phillippi Ryan

She's back! Hank Phillippi Ryan has visited us here before, and today she's back with a new book, DRIVE TIME, and even better still, a BOOK GIVEAWAY!!! Deets on how to enter to win are at the bottom of this post.

Wanna know all about Hank?! Here goes:

Award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is on the air at Boston's NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in restitution. Along with her 26 EMMYs, Hank’s won dozens of other journalism honors. She's been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine working with Hunter S. Thompson.

Her first mystery, the best-selling PRIME TIME, won the Agatha for Best First Novel. It was also was a double RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense Novel, and a Reviewers' Choice Award Winner. FACE TIME and the new AIR TIME are IMBA bestsellers. DRIVE TIME, February 2010 from MIRA Books, just earned a starred review from Library Journal. Hank is on the national board of Mystery Writers of America.

And the latest news on Hank? Her novel AIR TIME was just nominated for an AGATHA for Best Novel of 2009 and her short story "On the House" was also nominated--for the AGATHA for Best Short Story of 2009!

Wow! Hank totally rocks!! So, without further ado, let's get to the questions!

Tell us about your recent novel.

DRIVE TIME is about secrets. TV reporter Charlie McNally’s working on a story about a dangerous scheme that could absolutely happen…and let me just say, if you own a car, or rent a car, you’ll never look at your vehicle the same way after reading DRIVE TIME. In fact, after writing the book, I now get a bit creeped out when I go into a parking garage. That’s all I‘ll say.

Charlie’s also drawn into another frightening situation—this one at the prep school where her fiancĂ© is an English professor. When Charlie learns a secret that might put her step-daughter-to-be in danger, and might also be an blockbuster investigative story—how does she balance her loyalty to her husband-to-be—with her need to protect the public?

So this is a tough one for Charlie. And she must make many life-changing decisions. Just when she begins to think she might be able to have it all—a terrific career and a new husband and a new life--revenge, extortion and murder may bring it all to a crashing halt.

DRIVE TIME just got a fabulous starred review from Library Journal. Just a snippet of the rave: “Placing Ryan in the same league as Lisa Scottoline…her latest book catapults the reader into the fast lane and doesn't relent until the story careens to a stop. New readers will speed to get her earlier books, and diehard fans will hope for another installment."

And dear Robert B. Parker’s quote is on the cover—he says “I loved DRIVE TIME!”

Growing up, did you ever think you’d be an investigative reporter?

Definitely—not. You know, I have a funny juxtaposition of desire to be in the spotlight—and sheer terror of being in the spotlight. I love my job in TV—and have to go live and unrehearsed al the time. Confession: I’m still terrified every time. I want to be perfect, and when you’re on live, you can’t possibly be. That’s one reason why I love investigative reporting—there’s more time to work, and dig, and polish, and produce, It’s like making a little movie, and I can make it as perfect as possible.

Anyway, my sisters and I used to create musical shows when we were all young, and perform for our parents in our back yard. I did acting in high school and college. I wanted to be a DJ on the radio for a long time! But I thought I would be an English teacher, or a lawyer for the Mine Workers union, or for awhile, a political activist.

(My mother, though, says she always knew I would be a television reporter—but I think that was just her way of rationalizing that all I did as a pre-teen and teenager was read books and watch TV.)

I knew from my first Nancy Drew that I loved mysteries. Nancy was my first best friend—I was a geeky unpopular kid, and it was such a relief to go home and hang out with Nancy. She was smart, and made it be okay to be smart. She was confident and inquisitive and resourceful. I loved that. But being a TV reporter was not in my sights. Little did I know!

How did you get started in that type of journalism?

I got into TV by chance. I had worked as a radio reporter (hired because, as I informed the radio station, they didn’t have any women working at the station! Hey. It was the seventies.) But after a few years working in Washington DC (on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide and then for Rolling Stone Magazine,) Rolling Stone closed its Washington office and I needed a new job.

I went back home to Indianapolis, and applied for a job as a TV reporter. It was 1975. I had covered politics in Washington, and the news director of the station figured he could teach me to be a TV reporter. (This was incredibly risky—I had never taken journalism and didn’t know one thing about TV. But I wasn’t afraid and I knew I could do it.)

Problem was, I should have been afraid! I quickly learned I had no idea what I was doing. I went home every night for the first two weeks, sobbing. Because I thought I would never understand it. Soon after—it hit me--oh, I get it! And I have adored it ever since. I took a chance, and found my calling.

I started as the political reporter (and was also the movie reviewer, of all things! At age 26.) At various times I’ve been the medical reporter, a weekend anchor, and an on the road feature reporter. When I came to Boston, I was the funny feature reporter--cat shows, sports features, poems, and anything quirky or funny. They used to call me “something out of nothing productions,” because I could find a story in anything.

But starting in 1988, I covered the presidential election, doing long elaborate think pieces. It was terrific. And then I told my news director I didn’t want to be the funny one anymore. I wanted to be the serious one. And from that day on, I've been the investigative reporter.

And I love it every day.

How did the character of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ McNally come about?

What a great question. I have NO idea. She was born when I got a weird spam in my email. It was what looked like lines from a play by Shakespeare. I thought--why would someone send a spam like that? And it crossed my mind--maybe it's a secret message.

I still get goose bumps telling you about it. And I knew, after all those years of wanting to write a mystery, that was my plot. And that turned out to be the Agatha-winning PRIME TIME. But Charlie? Well, I knew I had a good story, but who would tell it? A television reporter, of course. And she just instantly popped into my head. Named, fully formed. I knew her perfectly.

The other characters were more difficult to get to know. But now, Charlie surprises me a lot! And I love when that happens.

Is she anything like you? Has she ever done anything you wouldn’t do to get your story?

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.

Any plans to write a non Charlotte McNally novel?

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

We can't wait!! Thanks so much for stopping by, Hank! If you'd like to enter to win a copy of Hank's latest, DRIVE TIME, just leave a comment below and you're entered to win! The winner will be announced in two weeks. US entrants only, please.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I just can't resist a bargain....

JACK WITH A TWIST is on sale over at! Now's the time to pick up that copy you never bought or buy some copies for your friends and family! Needless to say, a book makes a great birthday gift/ belated Valentine's Day gift/ early Mother's Day gift/ hostess gift/ I think you get the idea....

If you buy your copy at Amazon, just shoot me the email confirmation (email me at brenda[at]brendajanowitz[dot]com) and I'll send over a JACK WITH A TWIST bookmark for each book that you buy!

Did I mention that it makes a great gift?!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chick Lit.... Plus!

There's a new website out on the chick lit landscape and it's got a little something extra. Thus, it's name: Chick Lit Plus!

Check out my new interview with Chick Lit Plus! We talk about books, writing, and even Hawaii! What could be better than that?!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

GCC Author Interview: Judi Fennell

Today we've got a return guest! It's Judi Fennell, from the Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit! She's here today to discuss CATCH OF A LIFETIME, the third in her Mer series.

What people are saying about Judi's work:

"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

About Judi:

Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to “get outside!” instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did--right into Dad’s hammock with her Nancy Drew books.

These days she’s more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she’s still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends’ books.

A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she’s received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website at for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to “dive in” to her stories.

And of course, there's a contest!!

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,

Phew! That was all a mouthful!! Let's get to the questions:

Tell us about your most recent novel in 25 words or less.

In Catch of a Lifetime, Angel Tritone, Mer princess, wants Humans to protect the Earth, but the last person Logan Hardington needs is a mermaid.

When did you first begin writing?

First grade is the one I can remember. It's a story about a raindrop falling from the sky and mixing with her friends in a giant puddle and floating out to sea together. Hmmm, guess I had a sea theme even then.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

For the third story in my Mer series, I wanted something completely different. In In Over Her Head, I had a Human going into the sea and discovering Mers. In Wild Blue Under, I had a Mer coming on land. This one mixes it up some, with both the Mer and the Human being fish out of the water.

What are you working on right now?

I just turned in the first book in my new series about genies and am working on the second. I Dream of Genies comes out January 2011..

What are you reading right now?

My RITA books, so I can't give you the names since that's against the rules of the contest. I will say I love discovering new authors whose work I wouldn't normally read. That's one of the best parts of judging the RITAs.

How do you fight writer's block?

I mud wrestle with the muse. :) Seriously, I have to push through. Sometimes I'll take some time off and write blog posts, or read, but mostly I skip the scene that's giving me fits and work on another one.

If your book were to become a movie, who would you cast?

Jessica Alba as Angel and Hugh Jackman as Logan. Anytime Hugh takes off his shirt is a good movie, imo.

[Judi, me too!]

What is your favorite part of writing?

Seeing the characters take over my keyboard. Least favorite? When they don't and you have to really focus to get the words on the paper.

What tips would you offer to aspiring writers?

Enter contests and get feedback. Listen to it, even if you don't agree; it's someone else's perspective of your work and what you might unknowingly be portraying. A new perspective never hurts, if just to reinforce why you wrote/did what you did.

How do you usually begin your stories with a character or with a plot?

I've found, especially now that I've started another series, that because I have to tie the books together, the characters take shape first, mainly because I usually refer to them in books other than "their" book. The tough part can be molding a story around what I've already created.

Do a quick character study on yourself: don't forget to add in the fun stuff, like favorite foods and things you love/hate!

My brain works quicker than I can write, so the voice recorder feature on my iPhone is invaluable. I love gadgetry and have now decided that roughing it - which used to mean a cabin in the woods with no electricity, now means a motel without room service. I need my internet.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Judi! I hope that you will all check out Judi's latest, CATCH OF A LIFETIME.