Guest Author: Judi Fennell

Today, I get to welcome back the wonderful Judi Fennell, who is the author of the amazingly funny Mer series – In Over Her Head, Wild Blue Under and Catch of a Lifetime (2010).  Judi is currently celebrating the release of the second novel in this series, Wild Blue Under, which is just as fabulous as the first one, and she’s giving us a peak into her favorite trend.

Make sure you stick around towards the end as we’re giving away the first two novels in Judi’s series to one lucky reader.

Thanks so much for having me on Literary Escapism today!

One of the things “they” tell you is not to write to trends. Write what you love. What you’d want to read.

I’m lucky enough to be able to do that, and am forever thankful for the booming (and continuing to boom) paranormal romance trend these days.

I never looked at the market and said, “Hmmm, what do I think is the Next Big Thing?” Mainly because I was new to this writing-for-publication thing. I just knew I wanted to write a romance. So I started writing what I loved to read.

That was five years ago now, and it was a time travel. The month I joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA) with that manuscript (that needed SO much work!!), I was so inspired by all these women like me, people who had characters talking to them, women who wanted to publish, and some who had, that I came home and wrote 30,000 words in a month of a brand new story: a twist on Cinderella, titled Cinda Bella.

I hadn’t planned to write humor. I hadn’t planned to take fairy tales and twist them. It just sort of happened. And once I finished Cinda Bella, I woke up SuperBowl Sunday, 2005 with the first twenty pages of Beauty and The Best in my head. Once that story was finished, I knew the character of Chloe Snow had to have her own story, and Fairest of Them All was born.

I saw the trend at this point. My trend.

So then I needed another fairy tale to twist. I’ve always loved The Little Mermaid, so I thought, “Why not?” The easiest way to twist it was to make the hero the Mer, have the heroine be terrified of the water, toss in a few talking fish, and voila! Instant conflict, instant hook and a new story was born.

I love to read paranormal stories; I always have. I grew up on Frank L. Baum’s Oz series (The Wizard of Oz is only one of his stories). I loved Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. I loved stories with talking animals (Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Doolittle series was another set of books I devoured as a kid). With paranormal romance, I get to include all the things I love to read about: magic, love, humor, fairy tale worlds, and talking animals.

Interestingly, though, I wasn’t a big sci-fi or fantasy reader growing up. I did discover Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman after I was married. My husband and I read their Dragonlance series together. Since I’m a faster reader than he is, we would lay on the bed, hold the book above us with me on his right so I could read further without having to wait for him.

But when I first started getting questions about writing fantasy in a paranormal genre, I had to take a step back. To me, Mers aren’t what I’d call fantasy. Fantasy to me is far-off worlds, with all sorts of creatures. My world is normal—well, as normal as it can be with Mer people living in it. But the Humans all exist in our world, the animals that we meet are all real animals—okay there might be a sea monster or two show up, but even they have a basis in mythology.

I don’t mind that people categorize it as fantasy. I just know that it has talking animals, a hero I can fall in love with, a heroine I can relate to and want to root for and that it’s a fun adventure for me, both as the author and as a reader when I pick up the book.

Wild Blue Under which released this month has the Mer hero, but he’s on land. He’s been sent by The Oceanic Council to bring back the half-Mer princess from the middle of the country to fulfill The Prophecy—only she doesn’t want to go with him.

Although… I could say that Rod is every woman’s fantasy, thereby embracing that “fantasy” genre. (And, actually, I wouldn’t mind embracing Rod… Luckily my husband is a very understanding guy!)

So, what do you think? Fantasy? Paranormal? Is there a difference?

And please stop by my website, to register to win one of two remaining Romantic Beach Getaway Weekends to celebrate the release of the Mer series books. The next drawing is November 30 at the Atlantis Inn in Ocean City, NJ, and the final drawing is February 28, 2010 for the Hibiscus House in West Palm Beach, FL.

Wild Blue Under — book 2 in the Mer Series — in stores now!

The underwater kingdom is his as soon as he claims his queen…

Rod Tritone has the looks and charm to snag any queen he wants for his Mer kingdom, but unfortunately, it’s not up to him. As fate would have it, the one woman destined to rule with him is terrified of water…

She lives in land-locked Kansas and has no idea she’s a princess…

Valerie Dumere thinks Rod is gorgeous and irresistible—but why does he keep insisting she has another side to herself that only he can show her?

Somehow, Rod has to prove to her who she really is. But when she finds out the truth, will she ever forgive him?

About the Author
Judi Fennell is an award-winning author. Her romance novels have been finalists in’s First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, as well as the third American Title contest. She spends family vacations at the Jersey Shore, the setting for some of her paranormal romance series. She lives in suburban Philadelphia, PA.

Thank you Judi for stopping by and I can’t wait to read In Over Her Head!

Contest Time! We’re giving away a copy of the first two novels in Judi Fennell’s Mer series – In Over Her Head and Wild Blue Under to a lucky commentator and it’s very easy to enter. All you have to do is answer this one of these simple questions: What do you think? Fantasy? Paranormal? Is there a difference?

As always, if you want more chances to win, you can post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer (yes LE is now on Twitter as well!). The more places you share it, the more entries you get.

Join the Literary Escapism Facebook page and you’ll get an additional entry. Make sure you leave a comment so I know that’s why you’re joining. If you’re already a fan, let me know and you’ll get an additional entry for that as well.

For 2 additional entries, subscribe to Literary Escapism’s newsletter in the sidebar.

For 3 additional entries, purchase any novel through LE’s Amazon store sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: myjaxon AT gmail DOT com. Each purchase is worth three entries and it has to be through the LE Link.

I’ll determine the winner with help from the Research Randomizer and the List Randomizer. All entries must be in by midnight on November 24th.

About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


  1. I just love Judi’s books! I think what sets them apart is the laugh out loud humor in them! As to the question, for me, fantasy involves distant or fictional places, with creatures/people that still operate by the basic rules humans do. The function wihtin the boundaries of their “humanity”, even if they are Wookies or Ewoks. Paranomal, to me, involves “magical” things, such as ghosts, werewolves, shapeshifters, vampires–creatures that employ an element beyond the capabilities of humans. It’s not being a Mer that makes Judi’s books paranormal to me, it’s their ability to shift between legs and tails. Plus, Rod and Reel are pretty magical heroes!

  2. I think there is a difference between fantasy and paranormal where paranormal mainly involves creatures such as vampires and shapeshifters, while fantasy involves the paranormal creatures but adds everything else like magic in it.

    I’m a subscriber!!

  3. I’d like to cuddle up with one of Judi’s heroes myself. And I don’t have to worry about a hubby getting jealous. Keep writing them, Judi.

    It seems to me that fantasy includes the element of magic as well as non-human characters while in paranormal, there doesn’t have to be any magic. The creatures are accepted as real, no matter how unreal they seem to humans, without the need for incantation, fairy dust, or magic charms.

  4. I think there is a blurred line between paranormal and fantasy. When I think of paranormal, I think of shapeshifters, vampires, demons, etc. When I think of fantasy, I think of magic and wizards, witches, fairies….

    I have read books that had both fairies and vampires.

    Paranormal or fantasy, I love ’em all!

    Tracey D

  5. Rats, I forgot to add that I do subscribe to your newsletter (booklover0226….)

    Thanks and sorry for the second post.

  6. I’d classify Merpeople and other gentle mystical creatures more in fantasy than paranormal. To me paranormal has a more sinister/darker slant. That said, I’m not one who likes things to be put into neat little boxes, each carefully labeled with no mixing of contents. Why can’t it be both? Fantasy for the imaginary world, and paranormal for the out of the ordinary events.

    Whatever it is, I like it. :-)

  7. I’ve thought of your books as fantasy. To me paranormal falls more into telekinesis, telepathy and the like. But whatever the catagory I love your writing! Can’t wait to read the next one.

    For the drawing? I’m already a fan of LE on Facebook and subscribe to the LE news letter.

    Thanks for providing me with such great entertainment.


  8. I would consider this a paranormal. When I think of fantasy, I tend to think of dragons, wizards, elves, hobbits, and quests…where the story either doesn’t have a romantic element or it’s part of a side story rather than being an integral part of the book.

  9. I seem to be late to the party and that seems to be the way of late.

    I think all paranormal has roots in Fantasy. Werewolves, vampires, zombies, merpeople, genies, Elves, Dwarfs, gods and goddesses–they’re all make believe creatures, some with roots in human mythology, but still, make believe and so are really stories of our fantasies.

    Para isn’t all dark. I read a lot of paranormals. They cover the spectrum. Some are light, comical reads, some hit the middle spectrum, which is where I’d put Judi’s books and some hit dark Urban, and then there is the darkest. But they’re all paranormals.

    Like someone said above, the lines are a bit blurred. Something like the Lord of the Rings could actually go into both categories, but that’s one I’d classify as more Fantasy. Men In Black, blurred lines again. Sci-fi because of space creatures, but on the earth so could be para and fantasy. I think the good ones weave liberally para and fantasy, for example Sherilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series–pantheons of various mythical gods and goddess with werepeople.

    Judi writes a good book, blending entertaining, 3 dimensional characters, weaving a thread of light comedy with the commonality of issues that effect any secret civilization or Royal House on Land. Wild Blue Under is excellent. Her next one, has a bit more contemporary feel to the characters but is also very good.

    If you haven’t had a chance to read them, you’ve missed out on some good entertaining stories. Her new series on Genies, they’ll blow you away. Great blending of light and dark.

    You have a nice blog here at Literary Escapism. I’m glad I stopped by.

    Ps. Don’t enter me in the contest as I’ve received her ARCs for review and so have the books. But I’ll be back for chances at other authors. :-)

  10. Both paranormal and fantasy create rules that defy the physical world as we know it. IMO, fantasy does so in another world (even if it is a part of this one, not Earth, while paranormal does so in an Earth setting. Fantasy is separated from average human beings, while paranormal takes part amongst them.

    Judi how would you describe IOHH and WBU? Fantasy or paranormal?

  11. All good considerations. Vivian, you asked how I describe the books: tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted, paranormal romances. To me, they are, the same way as vampire and werewolf romances are paranormals. But, like I said, some have called them fantasy and it got me thinking. I can certainly see that argument, and from everyone’s comments here, the lines are blurry.

  12. These look like good books, please enter me into this drawing.

    I’ve always considered Paranormal as a subgenre of the larger catch-all genre Fantasy.

    Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

  13. I believe there is a difference between paranormal and fantasy where paranormal has storylines with vampires, werewolves, etc. and fantasy has storylines with wizards, witches, faes, etc.

    I’m a subscriber!

    Thanks for the cool contest!

  14. I’ve always felt that paranormal was a dark form of fantasy, vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies and such. But the lines have blurred in the last few years making it much harder to determine which genre it is. The cute little faeries, elves, genies and mers have grown teeth!

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  15. For me the difference is the romance, I’ve read a lot of fantasy books and most of them have no romance at all, when most of my paranormals have a couple with a HEA in the end.

    I’m a subscriber

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