This week, Silk And Shadows is thrilled to have Judi Fennell with us. Wondering how such jewel-bright covers could hide a Silk And Shadows-style darkness? Well, when you’re that far under the waves… Make sure you read all the way down to learn about Judi’s fabulous getaway contest for the series.
When I was invited to do this guest blog, Jessa said I could “run amok.”
She must not know me very well, ’cause if you tell me I can run amok, well, I’m pretty much going to go with it.
Which, actually, ties in well with my latest release, Wild Blue Under. There’s lots of “amok-ing” going on. Lots of “muck” too. (That is what happens when you get a couple flocks of birds together, you know?)
But what do birds have to do with Mermen, you ask? After all, Wild Blue Under is about Mer Prince, Rod Tritone, who has to travel to land-locked Kansas to bring the half-Mer Princess, Valerie Dumere, back to Atlantis so that he can claim the throne. But Atlantis is under water, and, aside from penguins, there aren’t exactly a plethora of birds under the sea. So where do the flocks come in?
Wild Blue Under is the second in my Mer series. In In Over Her Head (released June 2009) we have a Human named Erica end up in the sea where she discovers a Merman named Reel. He’s Rod’s brother, and, yes, I do see the humor in their names. I hadn’t actually planned it though; Rod showed up when Erica heard Reel’s name for the first time. “You got a friend Rod around here anywhere?” she asked. To which Reel shot back, “As a matter of fact, he’s my brother. He’s in charge of the South Atlantic.”
I sat back and looked at my computer screen and said, “Really? He does? He is?” and that’s how Rod came into being.
But I couldn’t write the same Human-in-the-water story that I’d done for In Over Her Head, so this time I decided to play on all the fish/water puns I’d had so much fun with in the first book and make Wild Blue Under a true fish-out-of-water story. Best way to do that was to bring Rod onto land. But once I did that, I needed a bad guy and since Humans aren’t supposed to know about Mers, it had to be someone from the ocean. But how do I get him on land?
Without stretching credibility too far (I know, kinda hard NOT to do when you’re talking Mermen…), I used birds. Hired guns, as it were. Mercenaries. Thugs.
Birds can do all sorts of things on land that we Humans can’t, by virtue of their ability to fly. Dropping fish bombs from fifty feet up? Yep. Swooping down into your face only to cut away at the last second, leaving you to drive into a field? Definite possibility. Dive bombing your car so you’ll crash? Oh, yeah, baby. They got that in spades. It was Amok Heaven.
And of course, all that life-and-death amok-i-ness just makes it that much easier for the hero and heroine to band together to defeat the bad guys. Or rather, it should… unless the hero happens to mention that he’s taking the heroine to the ocean. You know the ocean? The one she’s allergic to?
So now she thinks he’s trying to kill her, too. As I said, amok.
But, as with all romances, this tail has a happy ending. I mean, this tale. No. Wait. Which one do I mean? I’ve written those words over and over so much lately that it’s hard to remember which one it is.
Will Valerie get a tail? Or is Rod’s tall tale just that? Do they get tails? Do they get tail? (Oops, sorry. It’s that “amok” thing, you know…)
But beneath the wild blue under, amid the “amok,” you’ll find the answers.
Just watch where you step.
* * *
So thanks, Jessa and ladies, for having me. I was thrilled when you offered today’s post because today is a special day to me. If you read the dedication page, you’ll see that I’ve dedicated Wild Blue Under to my grandmother. She’s been one of my beta readers for my stories and has always been one of my biggest supporters all along, never doubting that the stories would see the light of day.
I’m happy to say that she’s still with us, and today is her birthday. The 60th anniversary of her 29th, though to look at her, you definitely wouldn’t believe it (it’s those Italian genes. They keep you young looking!)
So I’d like to say thanks for having me here today and happy birthday, Nan! (And, yes, she is internet savvy, so hopefully she’ll be popping in to read this. Whether or not she’ll comment is anyone’s guess…)
Here’s some of the “amok” for you to enjoy:
* * *
“Get ready to slam on the brakes, Valerie.” Rod sat back.
“Brakes?” At this speed, the car would spin out, and having already done its lifelong quotient of Indy driving today, that probably wasn’t a good idea. She’d been a cabby, not a stunt driver.
Rod braced his hands on the dashboard. “You wedged in, Livingston?”
“As well as possible. How much longer?”
Rod leaned over as far as the belt would allow, which, in her small car, was pretty darn close. “Twenty seconds.”
“Okay, Valerie.” It felt weird to be taking directions from a voice beneath Rod’s tush. Not that anything was odd about this situation to begin with…
“… to let them fly past.”
“What?” She shook her head. Mind off his butt, Val.
“Fish, woman, weren’t you listening?”
“Livingston-” Rod’s interjection was harsh.
“Right. My apologies. What we need you to do, Valerie, is slow down at the last possible second. Apply as much pressure to the brakes as you can without spinning us so the peregrines miscalculate. Their missiles tend to be other avians, which are more dangerous than JR’s small fish. Got it?”
“Yeah.” She exhaled. She so did not want to be doing this. But then, she wasn’t exactly into cleaning roadkill-airkill?-off her roof either.
“Ten.” Rod braced his palms against the dash.
Val scanned the road ahead. No more cars, thank God.
Val swiped her palm against her side, wrapping the fingers of her left hand around the steering wheel.
She then dried her right hand on the other side of her shirt and curled her hand over the stick shift.
“Now!” Livingston screeched.
Wanting to close her eyes, amazed she was going to do this yet again, and still hating that screech, Val took her foot off the gas, stepped on the clutch, swung the car out of gear, and slammed on the brakes.
Two slate-blue projectiles shot inches above the hood of the car. Whatever the birds were carrying had missed them by a hairsbreadth.
“Go go go go go!” Livingston roared.
A seagull could roar? Val shook it off, reversed everything she’d just done, and forced the protesting engine back to work.
But peregrines could turn on a dime and they weren’t known as some of the best hunters for no reason.
“Guys, we can’t keep doing this,” she panted, a bead of perspiration trickling its way down her temple.
“They misfired. They’ll have to reload. That’ll give us some time.”
“What if we just pull over and talk to them? Maybe offer them more than whoever-it-is is paying them?”
Rod looked at her as if she’d suggested a transgender operation, and even Livingston poked his yellow beak out from under the seat.
“What?” she asked the two testosterone-spouting males.
“We do not negotiate with terrorists.” Rod said it so low that, by rights, she shouldn’t have been able to hear it, but the timbre of his voice vibrated the words through her very bones.
That was silly. They were just birds. Okay, birds with dead things in their talons, but still… “Terrorists? Let’s be real here, guys.” Guy and bird… Whatever.
The bird popped out from under the seat. “Look, chicky-”
“Valerie.” Rod gripped her arm. “I don’t think you comprehend the seriousness of the situation. They are-”
“You’re right.” She yanked her arm away, then had to straighten out the car because being manhandled did not gel with high-speed driving. “I don’t comprehend it, because you won’t explain it. I don’t see how falcons can be terrorists. I don’t see how any of this is even possible. Yesterday I’m minding my own business, worried about seagulls, and now I’ve got albatrosses and peregrines and God-knows-what-else dropping dead stuff on me! And you’re acting like I’m supposed to think this is normal!”
“Enough chitchat, people!” Livingston was back to peering out the rear window. “We can discuss it later. Right now, I’ve got avians on the wing, starboard, coming in low. Two missiles each. I repeat, two missiles each.”
“I heard you the first time,” Val muttered under her breath. She took a deep one, re-gripped the steering wheel, and pushed the gas pedal down, getting ready for whatever the Universe–and the birds–threw at her next.
© Judi Fennell
Wild Blue Under
Rod Tritone is all set to take over the Mer kingdom when his father retires, until the ruling council tells him he has to marry first. The council gives him legs for the duration of his mission, as well as his future queen’s address and phone number.
She’s Valerie Dumere, the daughter of a Mer father and a human mother who raised her in landlocked Kansas. When devastatingly handsome Rod Tritone shows up and tries to tell her about the kingdom under the sea, not only does she think he’s crazy, she’s determined that’s the last place she’d ever want to go.
Then a vicious squad of seagulls tries to stop the Mer Prince from inheriting his throne and Val finds out about her true nature. Now she has to make the choice of a lifetime–stay on land, or follow Rod to his underwater world…
What people are saying about Wild Blue Under:
“Fennell returns with another underwater adventure, her second story about the Tritone brothers. She’s proving herself to be a solid storyteller, and this tale is an enjoyable and pleasant read.”
-Devon Paige, RT BookReviews Magazine.com
“Wild Blue Under” is the second book of author, Judi Fennell’s Mer Trilogy, and the first of hers I have read and definitely won’t be the last! This book was such a fun, delightful read.”
-Jaime, Revenge of the Book Nerds
“Judi Fennell is a bright star on the horizon of romance.
-Judi McCoy, author of Hounding the Pavement
“The best Mer book I’ve ever read.”
-Rowena Cherry, author of Knight’s Fork
“Bubbly fun! Judi Fennell whips together talking birds, princely peril and a sexy Mer man in this sparkling ‘under the sea’ tale.”
-Virginia Kantra, USA Today best-selling author
What people are saying about In Over Her Head:
“Nora Roberts? Danielle Steel? Much acclaimed romance writers should step aside. There is a new romance writer in town and she is certainly causing a great splash with her debut novel, In Over Her Head.”
“I truly found a pearl in my oyster when I read this delightful tale. I was surprised how good of a book In Over Her Head is. It is extremely well-written, the storyline flows and I was hooked from the first page.”
“IN OVER HER HEAD is a delightful, quirky blend of humor, adventure and passion. All in all, this is a fast, fun read and a great way to spend a snowy afternoon or a sunny day at the beach.”
-Lynda K. Scott, Star-Crossed Romance
“The beauty will draw you in, the action will get your pulse racing and the sensual scenes will keep your eyes glued to the pages.”
-Katrina, Bloody Bad
“In Over Her Head is a heartwarming, but action-packed story of two people-one human and the other of the seaworthy body-joined together in an adventure. I enjoyed this story immensely.”
-Dawn M. Ekinia, Armchair Interviews
“A delightful underwater adventure… full of good-natured humor and fun. A strong first effort by a promising new talent.”
“A playful debut… sincere wit.”
About The Author:
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 www.JudiFennell.com for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to “dive in” to her stories.