Monday, October 10, 2005

Speaking Off the Record...

Before I get started today, I would like to congratulate my sister and her boyfriend on completing the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in Asheville North Carolina! They rode 68 miles... APIECE! And, between them, they raised over $5,000 for the JDRF!

Unless lightning strikes, our Walk Team won't even approach that sum. Therefore, this confirms beyond a reasonable doubt that my sister's purpose in life is to make me look bad. JUST KIDDING!

Seriously, we are all so very honored that she and her boyfriend rode for Diabetes Research. That $5,000 brings us all that much closer to a cure.

And if you are wanting to donate, there's still time to sponsor our daughter's walk, or our son's walk, but don't give to mine at this point because I want the kids to get the Golden Sneaker Fundraising Awards...

I hope she will pipe in here on the comments section (below the detailed interview I have with our guest author today) to tell us more about it. But before I leave the subject, dear sister and boyfriend, here are a dozen roses for each of you!

On that note... it's Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit Time again!

This time my guest is the talented Jennifer O'Connell, author of the acclaimed Bachelorette #1 and the just-out Off the Record!


“Decadent fun … O'Connell makes this sweet treat go down smoothly.”
“Cleverly unconventional plot … O’Connell unveils the transformation with impressive skill and timing.”
“Rockin’ chick lit!”


OFF THE RECORD by Jennifer O’Connell (NAL; September 2005), author of BACHELORETTE # 1 and DRESS REHEARSAL, is her most rockin’ book yet. There's no way a rock star would ever write a song about Jane Marlow, the straight-as-an-arrow narrator of OF THE RECORD. She isn't the type to wear red garter belts or rhinestone butterfly thongs under her conservative navy blue suits. She's a true-blue good girl: a plain, predictable, and perfectly responsible estates attorney.

But then Jane's brother catches an episode of Music One's "Off the Record," and makes a startling discovery that threatens to take Jane out of the law library and into the spotlight. Former pop sensation Teddy Rock isn’t just a has-been rock star attempting to make a comeback, he’s actually their childhood neighbor Theodore Brockford...and his one-hit wonder twelve years earlier wasn't just a catchy tune that took the charts by storm - it was a song about Jane Marlow.

Jane can't believe it-especially since she's nothing like the girl in the song. Adamantly refusing to believe she’s the inspiration for the song Janey 245, Jane dismisses the proof as circumstantial, even if she does have to admit it’s more than a little coincidental. On the verge of making partner in her law firm, Jane’s not about to risk letting anyone find out. Her brother, on the other hand, decides to capitalize on the idea.

Convinced that Jane’s unknown celebrity is the key to turning around a family friend’s bar, he contacts the media and invites them to meet Janey 245 in person. And once Jane’s story gets out, there’s no going back.

As her law firm sees the dollar signs associated with a rock star’s estate, and Teddy Rock’s promoters see an opportunity to clean up his bad boy image for a spectacular come-back, Teddy Rock's reluctant muse is forced into the limelight and is given a chance to live life off the record - but is she ready for the changes it brings? And even if she's willing to take the risk, is she willing to face the music?

Read OFF THE RECORD and find out why the critics hailed BACHELORETTE #1, Jennifer O’Connell’s first book, as a “poolside page-turner,” and a “hot pick” that’s “filled with insight and humor,” and why Jennifer’s second book, DRESS REHEARSAL was called “perfect.”


Jennifer O’Connell received her BA from Smith College and her MBA from the University of Chicago. She lives outside of Chicago and is currently working on her fourth novel.


MO'C: Thank you for appearing on the blog, Jennifer!
JO'C: It is my pleasure.

MO'C: Let's start at the beginning... How did you get started writing?
JO'C: I had a dream I was on the TV show 'The Bachelor' and the next day I started writing my first book, BACHELORETTE #1, about a woman who's married with a kid and goes undercover on a reality dating show to write a scathing article about the women on the show. Up until that day, I never thought, 'I want to be a writer.'

MO'C: Were you ever the inspiration for a song, piece of art, poem or story? How do you think this might affect you?
JO'C: I was!!! Actually, I've been the inspiration for two songs, both written by my husband, who plays guitar. Both songs were written when we first started going out, and one has long since died a well-deserved death (with lyrics like, "my angel's got eyes that shine," you can understand why). The other song is absolutely fantastic, and my husband recorded it for our tenth anniversary. So not only do I have a song, I have a CD of the song. And, I must admit, it's pretty damn cool.

MO'C: Are you anything like the main character? Or any of the supporting characters?
JO'C: Like Jane, I verge on the edge of being a control freak (people who know me would probably say I have stepped over the edge and am in complete anal retentive free fall). Jane's idea that there is a right and wrong way to hang toilet paper (flap over vs. under) is actually my own neurotic idea. Also, Jane's memories of her childhood are very much like my own, and it was fun to go back there (the white painter's pants and AC/DC t-shirt are based on an actual guy from seventh grade). Unlike Jane, I wouldn't be so dismayed about a rock star writing a song about me (unless it was some angry raging song about how I did him wrong). In fact, I might relish the idea.

MO'C: What kind of research did you do for this book?
JO'C: Each chapter begins with an article from the past, newspapers and magazines that chronicle Teddy Rock's rise to fame and fall to one-hit wonder status. I tried to find as many articles as possible about real rock star antics so Teddy seemed authentic. Luckily, rock star antics are well-documented - paternity suits, arrests, sexual escapades - it's all there. I also had to learn the legalities of setting up trusts and how trusts are handled. In fact, Darcy's suit against Kitty is based on a real case.

MO'C: How did the Fictionista Chick Lit Tour get started and what benefits have you seen from touring with other authors?
JO'C: The Fictionista Chick Lit Tour was the brainchild of Josie Brown, whose first book was just published by Avon. The tour originally started out as just Avon authors, but when Josie and I were talking, we thought that having authors from multiple houses join together would be great for readers, and interesting for us. It's been so much fun getting to know other authors, sharing our writing and publishing experiences, and also informative. I think the benefit for all of the authors is that we get to be in front of readers who enjoy the genre, who have questions about getting published, and who want to hear about our books. Because we're in casual places, such as bars during happy hour, it's a different environment than a typical book store event. It's perfect for chick lit readers and authors, alike (we're a fun bunch).

Note: The Fictionistas will be appearing at the following dates and locales:
Washington, DC Monday 10/10 – 6:30pm @ Hard Rock Cafe
New York, NY Friday 10/14 - 5pm @ Sugarcane, 245 Park Ave S. (connected to Sushi Samba)
Chicago, IL Monday 10/24 - 5pm @ Liquid Lounge, 171 W. Randolph St.
Memphis, TN Tuesday 10/25 - 6pm @ Hard Rock Cafe
Atlanta, GA Thursday, 10/27 - 6pm @ Aiko, 128 East Andrews Dr.

MO'C: I have a feature on my blog, "Tactical Tuesday," with writing tips. Would you please give your own personal tips or thoughts on a) Character Naming, b) The Suckage Factor (very bad first drafts), and c) Dialogue?
JO'C: I LOVE dialog, probably because I also love to talk. If I could just write a novel with dialog, I would (of course, then it would be more like a screenplay, right?). Character naming - I needed a ton of names for OFF THE RECORD because every article beginning the chapters has a reporter it was written by, as well as people the reporter interviewed. My friends, their kids, are all over that book. It's fun when friends see their names. The suckage factor - I rewrote about 50% of OFF THE RECORD after it was finished. And while the rewriting itself sucked big time, I liked it so much better. Something the only thing to do is press the delete button.

MO'C: What's next on your plate, Jennifer?
JO'C: My first teen chick lit, PLAN B, will be published by MTV Books in March 2006. I'm working on my second teen chick lit right now.

MO'C: What advice to you have for aspiring authors?
JO'C: Write. It sounds easy, but making the time, forcing yourself to keep typing, can be the hardest thing. And you can't get published if you're not writing.

MO'C: Do people ever call you Jennifer O'Connor? Because I get called Martha O'Connell all the time.
JO'C: That is way too funny. Can I tell you that 99% of the time I'm called Jennifer O'Connor? I changed my name when I got married because my maiden name was difficult for people to pronounce and I thought O'Connell was a no-brainer. Apparently not. So I've always figured that O'Connor must be a more popular name because people confuse my name so often, but I guess not. You've proven me wrong! You know what else? I was sent something from MTV to review and approve and they had my name as 'Jennifer Connolly.' Um, that's an Academy Award-winning actress, and while I'm flattered that anyone would confuse me with her, you'd think they could get their author's name right! It certainly lets you know your place in the world.

I'm so glad Jennifer could join us here! You may visit her website here, and purchase her book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the best option, your local independent retailer.

See you tomorrow for Tactical Tuesday, where we'll continue our discussion on writing effective dialogue!