Guest - Judi Fennell

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Guest - Judi Fennell

Good morning everyone! We have a great article about world building from Judi Fennell who has, as we all know, created a fantastic world both on land and in the water. Make sure you read all the way to the Lynda Again section for a special offer.


Thanks so much for having me back to chat about the second book in my Mer series, Wild Blue Under. In In Over Her Head, Erica, a Human who’s afraid of the ocean finds herself in it at gunpoint. Then she gets shot, a shark arrives, she gets rescued by sexy Merman Reel, and off they go to find the diamonds, defeat the sea monster and live happily ever after. A Human-in-the-sea story.

Wild Blue Under, however, is the classic (and literal) fish-out-of-water story. Merman Rod, Heir to the throne, must come onto land to retrieve the lost half-Mer princess who lives in Kansas and doesn’t have a clue that she’s A) a princess, B) lost, and C) half-Mer. She thinks she’s allergic to the ocean.

Readers have embraced my undersea world, but now we’re on land. Will they embrace this one? But wait—the books are about a Mer world and yet it’s on land? What world am I creating in Kansas?

World-building isn’t just topography and buildings. It’s the rules of the world, its inhabitants, their situations, and their history.

So, for this story, I added some busybody sparrows who have a feather in saving the day, a mercenary albatross who isn’t quite what he seems, some dive-bombing peregrines, a murder of crows—in every sense of that phrase—and a bad guy who might just have reason. And many of the characters from In Over Her Head show up—not on land, of course—because what would a Mer story be without the sea?

When I wrote Wild Blue Under, I purposely set out not to write the same story I’d already done because how many times can you have a Human end up in the ocean, discover Mers and Atlantis, and make their reaction fresh and new? Most would freak out then find it interesting, so I covered that in the first book. Therefore, I had to change the venue. Voila! The Mer heads to land. And now I get to see another side of their world.

I had no idea when I wrote In Over Her Head that Mers had an Air Security Agency. If I’d thought about it, I probably would have, but it wasn’t a necessary element then. Wild Blue Under? Whole different story. (Pun intended.)

Did I know there’s a special oil from the gods for Mers who go on land to keep their legs for more than the two-sunset stipulation I’d already created? Nope. Not until I got to the point that Rod needed it and a little birdy whispered in my ear—probably Maybelle. She knew a lot about the story that I didn’t, including her existence. I remember when her introduction just appeared on my screen. I had no idea what her purpose was, who she was, or why she was there. I kept writing, though, and allowed her her vignettes. Then, all of a sudden, there was her purpose. She’d known it all along and, yes, she did crow about it when it finally happened.
Here’s a little snippet from Maybelle:

“Hello, boys.” Maybelle tried to put as much tail action into her swagger as her sparrow’s body would allow. At times like this, she wouldn’t mind being as svelte as those doves who had come in from out of town last year for a Human wedding.

The cowbirds stopped pacing along the church’s verdigris roof. “Ma’am?”

She hated that. Made her feel like someone’s doting old auntie.

“Oh, please,” she twittered, affecting the same pose she’d seen that pristine (prissy, actually) dove do that had gotten all the males fluttering after her. “Do call me Maybelle.” She added a little blinking action, going for the dumb and wide-eyed look—also courtesy of that dove.
Either she’d done it right, or these cowbirds hadn’t seen a female in, like, forever. One of the cow-boys strutted past her, leaving the package he’d been guarding unattended.

“Hello there, Maybelle,” said the avian, “you’re looking quite pretty. Did you just molt?”

Maybelle restrained herself from laughing. Molt. Sheesh. No wonder this guy was ripe for her ploy—no way was he getting any action with that line.

But she played along, hoping the other would find her just as irresistible.

Oh, not for anything remotely physical. No, she needed the cowbirds distracted from the bags of metal tacks they were guarding so Adele could switch them out with the replacement washers and nuts they’d collected. She knew what sharp metal would do to car tires. Valerie and the Mer prince didn’t deserve that and the albatross didn’t deserve to win.

And wouldn’t she be the heroine when the girls on the park bench heard about this? They’d be a-twitter for seasons to come.

© Judi Fennell, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009

You can see excerpts and deleted scenes, as well as register to win one of my two remaining Romantic Beach Getaway Weekends on my website,

-- Lynda Again,
Judi and Sourcebooks, her publisher, have generously offered TWO prizes for our readers. To qualify, leave a comment AND send me an email with 1) Wild Blue Under in the subject line 2) and your name and address in the body of the email by Friday. Sorry, the contest is open only to those who live in the USA or Canada. I'll announce the winners then. Good luck to all!

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24 Responses to "Guest - Judi Fennell"

Judi Fennell said...

Good morning!

Kath said...

What a fantastic article about worldbuilding, Judi.

Such a clear, crisp style, too.

susan said...

Morning Judi, what great news to hear your first book has been reprinted not twice but now 3 happy for you. I hope the same for all your books. Hope your Thanksgiving Day is great for you and your family. I entered the week end getaway contest and now just wanted to comment on the great news about your books. I am new here but I have your books on my list..I am retired so have to limit shopping time until my social security check comes around but I hope to read your books..they sounds very good. I may be new but now that I found you..I hope to stay around. susan L.

Anonymous said...

I love the sound of these stories. When I was a kid in a small town in Iowa, we'd get on the bus, drive 10 miles just to swim. My favorite game was pretending I was a mermaid. The decision not to write the same story is a wise one. I've read stories that are engaging, but after the sixth book of the same old world, it gets old. I can't wait to read your stuff. Thanks for the blog.
Boone Brux

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, Judi! Just me, your favorite follower. Letting you know, as always that I've posted about this at Win a Book for you.

VA said...

Judi you do a fabulous job creating a scene. Honestly, your car chase scene in WBU maybe one of the most engaging ones I've read in a while. I saw the whole thing in my mind while reading it.

Just perfectly drawn.

SiNn said...

Hi Judy your work is totally awesome first off and ia gree you are doing a awesome job world building
ty for stopping by!

elaing8 said...

I enjoyed this post and learning more about your books.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Dear readers, if you want to enter the contest, make sure you leave a comment AND email me at with your name and address.

The contest is open only to those who live in the USA or Canada - sorry.

Thanks Judi for being with us today!

Sheila Deeth said...

Always nice to read another excerpt, and always amazing how you make it so fun and make it work.

Beth Caudill said...

I love that your heroes are the mermen. No Little Mermaids here.

You're stories sound great. Good luck.

Judi Fennell said...

Hi everyone and thanks for stopping by. I'm so glad readers have embraced the world; it was a lot of fun to write. And I'm having a blast with the next series, too, but here's hoping I get to write more of my Mers. Mariana is just dying to get her story on paper! (or is that slate and octopus ink...)

Nancy Lee Badger said...

Your books encompass a fatastic story line. I love the mer of the sea aspect, but can't wait to read about the 'fish out of water'...and you dumped him in Kansas? He's not even close. Good luck with this series.

annalisa said...

Hi Judi! I have always loved mer stories and your books sound like fabulous fun reads! I love series books so I do hope you get to write more mer stories. :)

Judi Fennell said...

Yep, Nancy, I stuck him in Kansas. It's the geographic center of the Lower 48 and therefore, the farthest place from the ocean you can get. Perfect for a Mer prince, yes? ;)

Thanks Annalisa! I hope you enjoy them!

aries18 said...

Hi Judi,

I can't wait to read Rod's story. I'm loving all these birds in your story, too. Your mind is wonderous to behold.

Good luck with this book series, the next one, genies! And the one after that, subject unknown.


Judi Fennell said...

xoxo Wanda!

Lil said...

Wild Blue Under sounds like an absolute hoot! Enjoyed the excerpt and am chuckling at the fowl play.

Judi Fennell said...

oooh! A pun I didn't use!!! Darn! Missed that opportunity. Ah, but there's a macaw in Mariana's story... ;)

Alexis Walker said...

Hi Judi,

I was just in Barnes and Noble yesterday and saw Wild Blue Under on a special display and, I admit it, I squeeled, quietly. I was one of those lucky few at Nationals that got an advance copy and I was so excited to see it on a special display. Congratulations!

s7anna said...

Hi Judi,
I can't wait to read your book...I love the concept of the Air Security Agency...How do you come up with this stuff is beyond me!!! Love it!

Happy Reading
Anna Shah Hoque

Lynda K. Scott said...

Wow, it was great having Judi visit us, wasn't it? We had a lot of entries for her giveaways and Wookie, my big old fluffy cat, helped me pick the winners. (She absolutely loves picking the names out of the box...of course, then I have to chase her around to get the winning names, lol) Thanks to everyone who entered!

And, drumroll please, the winners are

Sheila Deeth of Oregon


Wanda Hughes of California

Thanks for entering, ladies. Sourcebooks will send your prizes within a few days. Enjoy!

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