March 27th, 2023
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In a Stalker’s Sights…unless they can stop him.

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A delightful story of a love that defies time

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He’s a murderer and believes he’s the most evil creature on earth.

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A Valentine’s Day promise sixteen years in the making…

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An outcast finds a dying man who changes her life.

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He’s already lost one woman he loved…he’s not about to lose another.

Spring for these books in March

Barnes & Noble

Jen's Jewels
Get the lowdown on your favorite authors with Jennifer Vido.

Top 7 Interviews: Meg Cabot, Carly Phillips, Kristin Hannah, Kelley St. John, Kim Ponder, Michelle Martinez, Elaine Viets

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 write it).

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 prisoners!

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 the military.

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 book.

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 on TLC!)

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, 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 San Francisco *********************************************************************

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 that really such a bad thing?

Marissa Kincaid, creator of & 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 you feeling?

Elaine: I'm plugging along -- way too slowly for me, but 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 into 2008?

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 correct answer to the following question:

What is the name of the television show where I met Meg Cabot for the first time?

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




1 comment posted.

Re: Top 7 Interviews: Meg Cabot, Carly Phillips, Kristin Hannah, Kelley St. John, Kim Ponder, Michelle Martinez, Elaine Viets

(Ruth Idell 8:57pm June 12, 2011)

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