As a special holiday treat, I am checking back in with the Top 7 Jen’s Jewels from the past
two years. Find out what your favorite authors have been up to and what special
surprises they have in store for their readers. And don’t forget to look for
the trivia question at the end! Enjoy!
Back in 2003, I had the amazing opportunity to appear on Live with Regis
& Kelly for the Reading with Ripa book club segment and that is
where I first met Meg
Cabot. Together we sat at the roundtable with Kelly Ripa, Andy
Richter, and Laurie Gelman discussing at that time, Meg’s latest
release, The Boy Next Door. When I decided to take the leap and try my hand at
a career in the publishing business, Meg was extremely supportive. For that, I
will always be grateful. From her young adult books to her adult series, Meg is
able to appeal to a wide range of fans with her unique voice that makes her
readers keep coming back for more. Truly, she has to be one of the most
prolific writers that I know!
Jen: It is so wonderful to be able to catch up with you! It’s been four
years since we met and so much has been happening in your career. Please get us
up to speed. How is your adult series progressing?
Meg: Thanks so much for having me here again, Jen! I love
your site, and you, of course, are so great to have me! I remember our time
together on Regis and Kelly with great fondness (except for Gelman's wife). I'm
just finishing up my two adult series! The last book in the Queen of
Babble series, Queen of Babble Gets Hitched, will be out next June,
and the third book in the Heather Wells mystery trilogy, BIG BONED, is out now
(although I may have to slip in a fourth book. I just have to find time to
Jen: I frequently visit your website. It is always changing and it has
such fun tidbits about your releases and especially news about you! What’s the
latest addition to your site? Are your readers able to interact with you? Do
you personally answer all of your email?
Meg: I just updated my homepage with my new author photo! I'm excited
about it because I just switched to a new publisher for my teen books,
Scholastic (which is why I got new author photos). I'll also be entering
into a new genre, middle grade readers (ages 8 and up) with my new series
debuting in March, Allie
Finkle's Rules for Girls. I'll have a brand new addition to my website for
that, a completely interactive site designed just for kids under 13 that will
be going up in February.
For now, I have an interactive message board for readers 13 and up, which is
really where I communicate with my readers. I actually can't personally answer
all my email, there's just too much of it. Although everyone who sends me snail
mail gets a ton of goodies back, as well as an autographed bookplate! Even
Jen: What adult project are you currently working on? Are there plans in
the works for any of your books to hit the big screen again?
Meg: I'm really not working on anything for adults at the moment. I do
have a new series in the works (in my head), but I'm finishing up the
Princess Diaries series (Book 9 comes out December 26, and the last book
comes out next year) as well as launching a new teen paranormal series, and a
new teen drama series for Scholastic, so I am kind of putting the adult stuff
on the back burner for the time being. When the new adult series hits, though,
you'll be the first to know!
Yes, actually, the Queen of Babble series just got optioned by Jeff
Sharp of Sharp Entertainment (Proof/Boys Don't Cry). And the
Mediator series has been optioned by Julia Pistor who did the Lemony
Snicket movie and the Spiderwick Chronicles. I'm pretty excited!
Thanks again for having me, Jen, and I hope I see you on Regis and Kelly again
sometime (if not in "real life")!
I first introduced you to Kim Ponders back in October 2005 with the release of her debut
novel, The Art of the
Uncontrolled Flight. Harper Collins asked me to review it and I was
so taken in with the premise that I just had to interview her! Not only was she
a Jen’s Jewels, but she
also graciously agreed to participate in a phone chat with my book club. With
my brother-in-law currently serving in Afghanistan, I appreciate the inside
look into the Armed Forces that her books provide. Having the story told from a
woman’s perspective really puts a unique spin on war and what really goes on in
Jen: It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since our
interview. What surprised you most about the reception of your first book and
the publishing business as a whole?
Kim: I was surprised at how much work it takes to put a
book out. It takes about a year to get the marketing and publicity in order
just to launch the book. By then, I was well into writing my second novel.
Another surprise: there are so many books out there! Yikes!
Jen: Your second book, The Last Blue Mile, is also military inspired. How did you arrive
at the premise for this novel? Was it easier to write your second book than the
first or did you find it more challenging because you felt pressure to try to
exceed expectations from your fans as well as your critics?
Kim: I was on contract for the second book, so there was always a kind
of pressure to finish it--not a bad thing, really. It was a much different book
than my first book. I wanted to try writing more of a traditional novel,
alternating points of view between the characters, so it felt very different
than the first novel, which played with time shifts to show the dissociation of
wartime. The Last Blue Mile
is about the Air Force Academy--I wanted to show people what it's really
like inside that institution.
Jen: How has your career evolved? What are you working on now? When can
we expect to see it on the shelves of our local book retailer?
Kim: Well, I'm done writing about the military. Right now, I'm working
on a collection of short stories and a memoir.
Of all the books that I have reviewed over the past three years, the one that
has had the most profound impact on me is MAGIC HOUR by Kristin Hannah. It
remains my top recommendation for book club picks. The storyline is that
powerful! I was absolutely thrilled when Kristin agreed to become one of Jen’s Jewels! Her column
was one of my most popular ever. This past summer, I had the pleasure of
actually meeting Kristin at the Romance Writers Conference in Dallas. It
was such a big treat for me to finally meet the woman behind this spell-binding
Jen: The first time my readers met you was back in March 2006. Please
fill us in on what has been happening in your career.
Kristin: Thanks so much for all your enthusiasm about Magic Hour. That was
really one of my favorite books. The central character, a little girl named
Alice, absolutely stole my heart. As to what's been happening in my career in
the many long months since its release, the answer is plenty! I have changed
publishers for the first time in twenty years. My new publisher, St
Martin's, is a lot of fun to work with, and my new editor has been a
fabulous partner. The new book, FIREFLY LANE, is set for publication in February. I'm really
excited to see what my readers think of this one.
Jen: Has there been any talk of making Magic Hour into a
television special or a movie?
Kristin: Magic Hour
was optioned for film. The screenplay has been written and now the
producers are on to the next stage. Keep your fingers crossed!
Jen: Can you tell us a little bit more about your latest release? I
can’t wait to read it!
Kristin: It's a big, juicy, emotional story about two women and the
friendship that lasts throughout their lives. Along the way, there are lovers
and husbands and children and careers, but their friendship survives through
all that change until an unexpected betrayal threatens everything. I hope
people love it as much as Magic Hour. Thanks again, Jen!
As I have mentioned in previous columns, I facilitate a book club for moms at
my local library which is a lot of fun! On a whim, I came up with the idea to
host a dinner for one of my Jen’s Jewels. I thought it would be really cool for my members to
be able to meet and talk with a famous author! As luck would have it, I booked
Michele Martinez, a
former U.S. District Attorney turned author. Her first novel, MOST WANTED, was a smash
hit! Since we spoke to her last, she has published two more books in her widely
popular Melanie Vargas series. Michele is such a class act…accomplished,
articulate, and genuine. I am so honored to be able to call this spectacular
woman my friend.
Jen: I can’t tell you how many e-mails I get from readers about your
Melanie Vargas series! They love you!! Your series is so hot! When can
we expect to read the next one? Can you give us the inside scoop on the plot?
Is there a future for Dan and Melanie?
Michele: Book four in the Melanie Vargas series is
called Notorious, and
it's coming out in February. It starts off with a bang! Melanie is about to go
to trial against a famous rap music star who committed murder in his younger
days. His lawyer pulls her aside on the courthouse steps to give her shocking
news -- the rapper wants to cooperate against one of the world's most dangerous
terrorists. The next moment --boom! The lawyer is assassinated in a car
bombing, and Melanie is the sole witness. The investigation takes her from New
York to glamorous and seedy Las Vegas in pursuit of the killers and the rap
star's dangerous accomplices. Meanwhile, Melanie's heart is in danger as well.
When last we saw her in Cover-Up (2007), she was so head-over-heels for
gorgeous and brooding FBI Agent Dan O'Reilly that she took some foolish risks
with her career and her peace of mind. In Notorious, Melanie regains
her balance. But you'll have to read the book to find out what that means for
her future with Dan!
Jen: My day would not be complete without my checking in with you girls
on the The
Lipstick Chronicles. For those who are not in the know, please tell us
about your awesome blog!
Michele: Thanks, Jen! We do indeed have the funniest blog in cyberspace.
Authors Nancy Martin, Harley Jane Kozak, Elaine Viets and Sarah Strohmeyer, plus our
brilliant blog sister Rebecca the Bookseller and our wild secretary
Margie, post entertaining new material every day about life, love,
laundry, kids, husbands, hot guys, shoes, fashion, sex, and of course, books!
We always get a rollicking discussion going in the backblog, so please tell all
your readers to stop by and say hi.
(Also, please check in on December 24 when Jen Vido appears as a guest blogger
Jen: Besides your series, have you worked on any collaborative efforts
since we last spoke?
Michele: I'm hard at work on an exciting "standalone" book that is not
part of the Melanie Vargas series. It's edgier and darker, full of
passion and crime and sex, with an unforgettable heroine who I know my readers
will identify with. Unlike Melanie, though, this girl is from the wrong side of
the tracks and she lives her life on the wrong side of the law, but she lives
it to the max! I also have short stories coming out in two separate anthologies
in 2008. Details about those will be posted on my website, which is http://www.michelemartinez.com/, and
I hope readers will check them out. Thanks for letting me visit, Jen!
If you are a fan of romance, which you probably are since you’re reading my
column, then you are familiar with the name Carly Phillips. A
Reading with Ripa book pick, her novel, The Bachelor, soared to
the top of the New York Times Bestseller List when Kelly Ripa
gave it her seal of approval, so to speak. Her name consistently heads the top
of the charts for breaking sales records. A talented author as well as a down-
to-earth person, Carly truly represents the best of the romance industry.
Jen: Carly, it’s so hard to keep up with all of your releases! Please
fill us in on your new titles and what we can expect to find in the stores in
the next six months.
Carly: Hi, Jen. Thanks for catching up with me! As I hope
reader's already know, Sealed with a Kiss, the sequel to Cross My Heart, is in
stores in paperback now. In January comes Seduce Me, which is a
reprint of 2001's Harlequin Blaze, Erotic Invitation - so it's a reprint
with a new title and new cover - so be aware! And I'm working now on Lucky
Charm due out in October 2008, the first story in a new hero driven series.
I’m very excited about this series about three cousins damned by centuries old
curse that affects every male in their family - if they marry for love, they
are destined to lose their love and their fortune. It's been fun!
Jen: Your website is always filled with lots of fun contests and
interesting tidbits about your life. What’s new on that front?
Carly: Thanks! I love working on the website. I have new fun computer
wallpapers for readers, book videos for Cross My Heart and Sealed with a Kiss. I'll
be putting up new pages for Seduce Me very soon, with an excerpt and a book video. Other than
that I'm a crazy mom running around doing carpooling. :)
Jen: Any major appearances coming up? Workshops? Conferences?
Carly: Lots of conferences coming up! Here's a brief outline but I'll
put more info up on the website for the New Year!
January 12, 2008
Orange County, CA Chapter Meeting
Speaking during the morning session
April 4 - 6, 2008
Phoenix, AZ RWA
Luncheon Speaker and Workshop Presenter
July 30 - Aug. 2, 2008
RWA National Conference
Of all the authors I have interviewed, I have to say that I was most surprised
by Kelley St. John.
Who knew she was a former writer for NASA? How cool is that? You never know
what sparks a person to give up one career to become a writer. Luckily for us,
she did because there is nothing quite like a juicy book from Kelley! We also
met this summer and I was so taken in with her sincerity, not to mention the
sparkle in her eyes when she talks about her writing. She truly loves what she
does and it shows!
Jen: Please tell us about your latest release, To Catch a Cheat!
Kelley: Thanks for the kind words, Jen – and thanks for
having me! I’ll let my main character, Marissa Kincaid, tell you about To Catch a Cheat…
From Marissa: Isn’t it amazing how an event (or several events, in my case) in
your past can affect every part of our future? At the time, the circumstance
may not seem such a big deal, then later on you realize that it was the pivotal
moment that changed everything. For example, say you’d been cheated on by
EVERY GUY YOU EVER DATED. And okay, maybe “cheated” is too strong a
word, since some of them didn’t necessarily cheat with another person, but they
still put things before you. WAY before you. And by things, you mean a
career, or a mother (the term “mama’s boy” comes to mind), or a tuba. Do
not ask about the tuba. And say the only means that you see for
rectifying this situation is by…retribution. At the time, creating a cheater
database seems a terrific idea. But that decision may also come back to bite
you in the—well, you get the picture. Because if you do create that database,
and then you happen to put one guy on it who may not be guilty as charged, and
then that guy happens to retaliate by creating a site about liars, and his site
happens to feature YOU...
Like I said, isn’t it amazing how an event in your past (or now, my present)
can affect every part of your future? And doesn't it make you wonder...is that
really such a bad thing?
Marissa Kincaid, creator of TheGuyCheats.com & Kelley St. John, creator
of Marissa Kincaid
Jen: I know you keep busy serving on the Board of Directors of
Romance Writers of America. Please tell my readers a little bit about
the organization of which we both belong and the benefits of membership.
Kelley: I can’t say enough positive things about Romance Writers of
America. The organization is truly dedicated to advancing the professional
interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy, as
is stated on the RWA website. For me, RWA was the key factor in getting
published. Through RWA, I learned not only about the craft of writing, but also
about the romance novel industry. More than that, I met many of my closest
friends through RWA. If you’re interested in writing romance, then you
definitely need to join this amazing organization. RWA has over 9,500 members
in 144 chapters offering local of special-interest networking and education.
Jen: What are you currently working on?
Kelley: I’m currently working on edits for my next Harlequin
Blaze Sexth Sense trilogy, coming out next summer, as well as edits
on the next single title release, The Trouble with Men, which will come
out from Grand Central Publishing next November.
As the saying goes, I saved the best for last. Elaine Viets was a Jen’s Jewels earlier this
year when I introduced many of you to her Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper
Series. There is nothing better than a murder and a little shopping. Right,
girls? Unfortunately, as you may or may not know, Elaine recently suffered a
stroke. She most certainly is on the road to recovery, but I know how concerned
many of her fans have been.
Jen: Elaine, I know this year has been full of ups and downs. How are
Elaine: I'm plugging along -- way too slowly for me,
the doctors are happy with my progress. Thanks for asking. I really appreciate
how kind and concerned everyone has been.
Jen: Your latest release, Accessory to Murder, which I selected as one of my TOP 5
PICKS on my website in November is your best Josie Marcus Mystery
Shopper book yet! Would you mind telling us a little bit about it?
Elaine: I'm glad you liked it, Jen. This novel, I raised the stakes for
Josie. She could lose her best friend and mystery shopping partner, Alyce.
Alyce's husband is accused of murder. Alyce believes her husband is innocent.
She asks Josie for help. Josie can't refuse her friend, but she has to hide the
fact that she can't stand the guy. The "love her-hate him" dilemma is at the
core of many women's friendships. It's the elephant standing in the middle of
your coffee klatsch.
Jen: Currently, what are you working on? When can we expect your next
project to be in the stores?
Elaine: Clubbed to Death, my next Dead-End Job book will be
published in hardcover by Penguin in May 2008. In this book, Helen works
at a country club. I hope you and your readers will enjoy Helen's latest
adventure among the over-privileged.
Jen: What message would you like to leave my readers with as we head
Elaine: Stay healthy, please. Use this year to try for what you really
want -- that college degree, the new job, finishing the book you've thought
about writing -- or reading. And thanks to all of you who sent emails, cards
and gifts when I was sick. They meant a lot.
A big thank you goes out to these wonderful friends of mine! I hope you have
enjoyed checking back in with the Top 7 Jen’s Jewels! As part of
the interview, each author has donated a select number of copies of her book.
If you would like to win one, please enter my contest with the
to the following question:
What is the name of the television show where I met Meg Cabot for the
In January 2008, I will be bringing to you an interview with Amulya Malladi, author
of The Sound of
Language. You won’t want to miss it. Thanks for making my column a part of
your reading journey! Happy Holidays!
Happy New Year…Jen J
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