A third-generation Oregonian who can peel and eat a banana with her toes, Tawna traveled a career path that took her from newspaper reporter to English teacher to marketing geek. She currently lives in Bend with a menagerie of ill-behaved pets. You can find her on Twitter at @tawnafenske or blogging daily at tawnafenske.blogspot.com.
Praise for Believe it or Not
“Fenske hits all the right humor notes without teetering into the pit of slapstick in her lighthearted book of strippers, psychics, free spirits and an accountant.”
—RT Book Reviews
“Fenske’s sophomore effort (after Making Waves) is another riotous trip down funny bone lane, with a detour to slightly askew goings on and a quick u‐ey to out‐of‐this‐world romance. Readers will be enchanted by this bewitching fable from a wickedly wise author.”
—Library Journal "Sexually charged dialogue and steamy make‐out scenes will keep readers turning the pages.”
Praise for Making Waves
“Fenske's wildly inventive plot and wonderfully quirky characters provide the perfect literary antidote to any romance reader's summer reading doldrums.
–The Chicago Tribune
“A zany caper... Fenske’s off‐the‐wall plotting is reminiscent of a tame Carl Hiaasen on Cupid juice.”
“Hilarious! A wild, sexy romp with a fresh, fun take on love.”
—Lani Diane Rich, New York Times and USA Today Bestseller
Do you believe in...accounting?
Numbers never lie, so Violet McGinn found safe haven in the most boring profession she could find. Until her renowned psychic mother lands in the hospital and Violet has to run her business. Now you can have your taxes filed and your aura read, in one convenient location.
Do you believe in...music?
Drew Watson is the jaded owner of the local hot spot next door, and doesn't need a single thing except a good crowd to dance to what he's spinning on Saturday night.
Do you believe in...love?
The only thing Violet and Drew seem to have in common is that neither believes in that psychic hoo—hah. Except Drew seems to play exactly the right song at exactly the right time. And truth be told, it makes Violet's heart dance just a little ...
The Excerpt: This scene takes place very early in Believe it or Not, shortly after Violet (a straight laced accountant turned reluctant fake psychic) meets Drew (the divorced owner of a bar that features male strippers).
She watched him juggling the toilet paper for a few more minutes, disgusted with herself for being so strangely amused, so fixated on his hands.
Hands reserved for his partner, Sam, she reminded herself. Knock it off, Violet.
Did you know Oregon is the most active juggling state in the U.S.?” she blurted.
He stopped juggling and stared.
“Yes. Approximately fifty-three percent of the state’s population can juggle. Portland is also home to the only retail all-juggling store in North America.”
“This data fetish you have is fascinating.”
Violet blinked, not sure if he was teasing or genuinely fascinated. He was smiling, but that could mean anything.
“Well, I knew about all that because I’ve been contracted to do some accounting work for the guy who runs the juggling shop,” she said. “But there really are a lot of interesting statistics related to Oregon. Have you heard that Oregon has the highest concentration of strip clubs in the nation?”
“I’ve heard that,” Drew said slowly, studying her with something that was either amusement or the expression of a man trying to remember if he had mental-health services on speed dial.
“It’s not true,” Violet said. “Oregon actually has the second highest concentration of strip clubs in the nation. West Virginia beats us.”
“I didn’t realize we were competing.”
“It has to do with the Oregon Supreme Court ruling that adult bookstores, nude dancers—it’s all considered free speech, so it’s protected. It’s part of why Portland thrives on the whole offbeat counterculture thing. Legalized medical marijuana, physician-assisted suicide, bacon-wrapped doughnuts—”
“I never thought I’d hear doughnuts and suicide in the same sentence,” Drew said. “At least not in a way that made sense. You really are a wealth of wacky data, aren’t you?”
Violet bit her lip. “I can’t help it. Part of being an accountant, maybe.”
Drew’s eyes were locked on her mouth, and Violet stopped biting her lip and stared back.
He shook his head and turned away from her. “Hope to see you tonight, Violet.”
He walked away juggling his toilet paper.
Susan: I love St. John. In Making Waves, part of the story takes place there. Have you been? How much do you love it?
Tawna: I’ve actually never visited
You probably wouldn’t guess it from reading, but this book required a ridiculous amount of research into powerboats, ocean currents, nautical speeds, and shipping laws. I may have fudged a few details here and there, but I was proud when the book’s copyeditor told me she’s an avid sailor, and that it was clear I’d done my homework.
For the record, yes – the Strip Battleship scene was very thoroughly researched.
Coliloquy is a digital publisher of active fiction. Our proprietary platform lets authors create episodic content, branching narratives, and interactive environments that deepen reader engagement. The result is innovative new forms of digital fiction that move beyond traditional publishing.
I adore Coliloquy and everyone there, but that description kinda makes my head hurt. Each Coliloquy author is using the technology a little bit differently, and I liken the way I’m using it to those old “choose your own adventure” books I loved as a kid. The difference is that these are strictly for e-readers, and authors get weekly data about what readers are choosing. We can use that to help us craft the next episodes of the story.
For instance, in the first episode of Getting Dumped, the key choice point surrounds which of three potential love-interests the heroine calls in her moment of crisis. I’ll admit that of the three men, I had a definite favorite. My agent and publisher had a different favorite. I was stunned when the data started rolling in and a large chunk of readers actually preferred the third guy—a character I’ll confess I didn’t particularly like. Seeing the way readers responded to him made me take a step back and make some changes in how I’d planned to write the second episode (which is slated for release in late-June).
Susan: Are you planning to write more active fiction?Tawna: Definitely! It’s been tons of fun. The second episode of Getting Dumped will be released in late-June, and is available for all Kindle formats, for Nook tablet, and for Android. I know they’re working on a ton of additional platforms, so others will be available shortly.
Susan: What do you do to unwind and relax?Tawna: Er, didn’t you say we’re supposed to keep this PG-13?
Susan: What is your biggest vice?Tawna: While I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I need to be eating constantly. I tend to crave things like raw sunflower seeds, frozen peas, air-popped popcorn, and Sen-Sens, and I have to have a selection of those items in front of me at all times. I’m not happy if there isn’t something in my mouth. (Insert your own filthy joke here, if desired).
Susan: Moving right along... Which of your characters is most like you? How?Tawna: Juli in Making Waves has a serious history of job-hopping (though readers learn the mysterious reasons for it about a third of the way through the book). During college, I funded my education working a crazy variety of jobs, and I used many of those to create Juli’s résumé. There was one summer I worked five jobs simultaneously – bakery clerk, dog washer, newspaper ad sales, phone book delivery, and salesperson in a roadside fireworks stand. All of those are jobs I gave Juli, along with several others I’ve held over the years.
JJ in Getting Dumped was created as a result of my lifelong fascination with landfills. In that story, JJ is laid off from a cushy marketing job and ends up “repositioned” to a job driving the compactor at the dump. She absolutely adores it, much as I imagine I might. Researching that book was a fantasy-come-true for me, and I loved getting to crawl around on heavy equipment and ask people about the weirdest things they’ve found in the pits.
While I won’t claim I bear much resemblance to any characters in Believe it or Not, I described Drew as looking a lot like John Cusack. Writing that story gave me the chance to indulge my huge crush on him, so I managed to insert myself into the story that way!
Susan: Be honest, when reading (or writing)...do you put yourself in the heroine’s role?Tawna: Strangely, no. I tend to think of my heroines as close girlfriends whose puppet strings I get to pull. I might fall in love with my heroes a little bit, but I want my girlfriends to have them!
When it comes to writing love scenes though, I frequently pester my gentleman friend to help with logistics. Nothing filthy (well, mostly) but little things like, “if someone your height was standing there, and someone my height was leaning against the counter, how would all our parts line up?” These encounters often aren’t particularly romantic, since I might hit him with a request while we’re both brushing our teeth. He probably deserves a medal for being such a good sport about it.
Susan: What drew you to write Romantic Comedies?Tawna: I come from a family of hysterical people who are always cracking jokes and laughing, so you’d think it might have occurred to me earlier to try writing comedy. Hey, I never claimed to be the sharpest meatball in the pot. I started off writing women’s action/adventure several years ago, sold a book to Harlequin/Silhouette’s Bombshell line, and wrote two follow-ups that hadn’t made it to contract when I got “the un-call” from my editor saying the line was being canceled a month before my scheduled debut. It was my 32nd birthday. And the day my cat died. Oh, and the same day my employer threatened to fire me if I kept disobeying the hosiery policy (I did, they didn’t). As all this stuff was hitting me, I thought, “it’s actually kinda funny.” Realizing I could find the humor in something like that was part of what helped me find the humor in my writing, too.
Susan: What is Drew Watson’s (Believe it or Not) “kryptonite” – in other words, what will bring him instantly to his knees?Tawna: Drew wants to believe he’s not attracted to whip-smart women with a mild crazy streak, and he’s done his very best to date the exact opposite of that ever since his divorce. But his resistance is futile once Violet enters the picture with her razor-sharp wit and kooky fondness for data.
I’ve seen more than one review describe my writing as “smart girl romance,” which always feels like a bit of a backhanded compliment. Who’s writing the dumb girl romance? But in all seriousness, I get what they’re saying. I love writing super-smart heroines who will never, ever cause a reader to hurl the book at a wall and declare her too stupid to live. Obviously there’s a lot of sex-appeal between my characters, but in both Making Waves and Believe it or Not, I think I make it pretty evident both couples are attracted to each other’s intelligence, too.
Susan: One of the most active labels on your blog is “Tawna’s Social Awkwardness.” Really? You’re gorgeous and successful. I’m skeptical. What’s your most socially awkward moment ever?
Tawna: Thanks for the “gorgeous and successful” comment (and here’s that $20 I promised). I couldn’t possibly name my most socially awkward moment ever, since there are too many. There’s the time I attended a fancy luncheon and I spit gristle into my napkin, accidentally dropped it into the purse of the woman seated beside me, and got busted trying to retrieve it. There’s the time I waxed off a hunk of my eyebrow and tried to draw it back in with green eyeliner. Or the time I shoved a massive spoonful of butter in my mouth at a formal dinner because I thought it was whipped cream. Or the time I threw up in my underwear at school. I’m pretty much a magnet for ridiculousness, but it gives me good fodder for writing comedy.
Susan: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?Tawna: I could finally buy that salad I’ve been saving for.
Susan: What will always make you smile, even on a bad day?Tawna: You really want me to break that PG-13 rule, don’t you?
Susan: What would you say is your most interesting quirk?
Tawna: I am horribly phobic about shopping carts. I can’t stand to be near them. It’s not a germ thing – it’s something to do with a fear of them blocking my path or getting in the way if I need to make a quick ninja getaway.
Susan’s GOTTA ASK: What is your favorite scene in Believe it or Not?Tawna’s GOTTA ANSWER: Great question! When I was doing final revisions for Believe it or Not, my editor asked me to chop a few things. One of those things was a scene where Violet’s mother sends a kooky, dreadlocked stranger to help Violet build a wheelchair ramp at the house. Drew and another potential love interest, Dr. Abbott, also show up, and the result is a goofy scene involving male rivalry and some hints at what Violet’s mom has been plotting behind the scenes. My editor felt it didn’t add much to the story, but I felt strongly that it did, and argued to keep it. The scene stayed put, much to my relief.
Now here’s the funny part – I’ve visited with maybe 20 clubs about Believe it or Not via Skype, phone chat, and in-person meetings. Every single one, without exception, has mentioned that scene as one of their favorites. That warms the cockles of my heart (er, are cockles PG-13?)
If y'all love Tawna and her sense of humor as much as I do, and I just know you will, you can connect with her here:
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