Juggling

No, I never wanted to join the circus or perform, but lately, Life has thrown more at me than usual, and I’m trying to write while juggling lots of other things. If something could wrong, it has. But that’s how life is, isn’t it? Murphy’s Law sometimes tops three. I feel like I’ve been buried in things gone wrong, but that’s the main point. Everything that’s gone wrong is fixable. Annoying, a bit scary, but fixable. And I always try to remember that. There are people facing far worse problems than I’m dealing with. Every single one of my problems has the potential for a happy ending. And that’s not true for everyone, is it?

Still, in and around everything, I’ve been writing. Not because I have so much discipline. Not because I’m so creative. But because planting my fanny in a chair and pounding out words makes me HAPPY. It helps me find balance. I can escape whatever’s happening around me for an hour or more. So, yes, writing–for me–is a selfish pleasure.

Sometimes, I ask myself: If I were rich as sin with a husband who adored me (which he does, silly man), more money than I knew what to do with, and no bumps anywhere——would I still be a writer? And I think the answer would still be a big yes. Writing makes me happy. I can’t imagine myself NOT doing it. Is it an addiction? Maybe. But if it is, I don’t care. Could something else take its place? I can’t imagine what it could be. It would have to be something really big that made me even happier. And I don’t see that happening.

I read a blog once that asked the question, “Why do you write?” And I guess the truth is, because if I don’t, I get stir-crazy, restless. I need the outlet. Writing keeps me…me.

So, for all of you writers out there, happy writing!

#MKTG 18 – Building an Email List

Jan Sikes has shared her experiences with marketing her books on Story Empire. I haven’t seen a more thorough list before. She’s been extremely generous to help the rest of us, struggling to promote our work. Today, she talks about BookSweeps.

Story Empire

Hello SE’ers. It’s Jan again with another book marketing tip I hope you’ll find helpful.

We’ve often said marketing is the hardest part of what we, as authors, have to do. And I believe that statement is true. Most of us would be more than satisfied to write our stories and let someone else push them. Unfortunately, unless you make a lot of money, that simply isn’t an option.

Throughout this series, we’ve taken a look at a lot of marketing avenues.

Courtesy Pixabay – geralt

Yet, one of the most highly recommended and useful marketing tools is a newsletter sent directly to your subscribers.

But how do we build a subscriber list?

Most of us have a newsletter signup form on our blogs or website. And many offer something free in exchange for an email address. That’s really great. But realistically, how many new subscribers do you get each…

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Hope you check this out

I’m a guest over on Harmony Kent’s blog today, talking about love, marriage, and kids in my latest Karnie Cleaver mystery, The Steaks Are High. I hope you check it out.

One nice thing about Twitter is “meeting” so many fellow writers you admire. And so many of them are generous with their time and talents. Harmoney is one of them for me. Lately, she wrote a powerful short story for the site Vocal, along with a short article about her battle with chronic pain.

https://vocal.media/fiction/the-last-train-k17ff60rzx

While you’re at her blog, you can see the variety of novels she writes, too. I hope you enjoy her site!

I’m a little surprised

When I decided that my nice Detective Gaff was going to be forced to team up with Detective Caden, I knew that would make it so that he couldn’t work with Jazzi anymore. Gaff and Jazzi have solved eight mysteries together, but Caden doesn’t believe in citizens being involved in homicide investigations. And he’s decided to put an end to it. That felt right for Caden. And it made Gaff squirm.

When someone tries to frame the new employee of Jazzi’s dad for murder, her dad asks her to vouch for him with Gaff. But when she calls, Gaff tells her that he can’t share information with her anymore. And he strongly suggests that she sits this one out, because he doesn’t want to see her get in any trouble. Jazzi’s always thought Gaff was as much a friend as a cop. She’s disappointed. Then, Caden calls, warning her to keep her nose out of the case.

And that’s where Jazzi surprised me. She’s usually a nurturing, caring person. She shows her love for people by cooking for them. And she’s pretty easy-going. But Caden just rubs her the wrong way. And when he tells her to butt out, it just makes her more determined to do as she pleases. She doesn’t need his permission to talk to people. So she does. And the more Caden irritates her, the more she wants to find the killer before he does.

Ansel’s determined to keep her safe, so he goes with her wherever Gaff, at one time, would have. In the meantime, Gaff’s stuck in the middle and doesn’t like it. When he calls Jazzi these days, she lets him know she’s not happy with him. And that hurts. But what can he do? Nothing.

The set-up for this story is going to be fun to write. I designed a cover, but it will probably change before the end of the book. But it helps me picture Book Nine. It’s like a working title. I like to have some big things to pin ideas on, but I know they could be temporary. I’d like to find a more “dead” looking body to put in the wheelbarrow, but that’s proven trickier than I thought:)

Yes!

I finally got my plot points done. I like to come up with 40 of them but only made it to 36 today. Still, that’s enough to start writing. I wanted to move the story to the birth of Jazzi and Ansel’s baby, but if I do that, I have to rearrange my entire timeline. I didn’t think about that before I started plotting, but it would take WAY too long to solve the murder if I waited for Toby to show up. So, he can’t arrive until book 10.

Like me, Jazzi’s as healthy as a horse while she’s pregnant. In fact, I was on a bowling league back then, and my scores got better and better the bigger I got. That took a while, though. I didn’t show for my first baby until I hit five months in. It was a different story for daughter 2. I showed really fast, and I got so big, my doctor swore I was going to have twins. Every time I went in, he checked for a second heartbeat. Turned out, only one baby took up all that space, and I lost the weight fast. Miracles do happen.

Anyway, I’m going to start writing tomorrow. Fanny in chair; fingers on keys. The nice thing about plotting ahead is that when I first started thinking about this book, I pictured some of the characters differently than it turned out I needed them to be. After working with them through all of the plot points, I know them pretty well. In my mind, Doc, the first suspect, was a quiet, ordinary sort of guy, but then Wheels, a later suspect, wouldn’t have been jealous of him. Each character sort of found his place in the story and developed as it limped along in the plotting stages. Then, for the first time, even though I knew who the killer was, I couldn’t figure out how Jazzi and Ansel could catch him at the end. I kept worrying about how to wrap up the book. And then I made a big pot of soup, and it came to me. That’s how my brain works somehow. No logic, just trusting it will finally get there eventually. I don’t like cutting it this close, though. The “got you” scene usually is a natural progression of the story, but in this book, Jazzi isn’t working with Gaff. She’s on her own. And that made it trickier.

While I remember, (because my brain can be a sieve at times), I want to mention that I’m going to publish this book when it’s finished as a culinary cozy mystery. I put two books up for free a while ago, and I marketed A Cut Above as a women sleuth for the first tag and a cozy mystery for the second tag. It went high enough in the ratings that IF it had been a culinary mystery, it would have made into the top 100 free mysteries a LOT sooner than it did. This time, I marketed Black Magic Can Backfire as a paranormal romance and it went into the top free 100 pretty soon, but when I’d marketed it as a fantasy mystery, it never came close. For fellow writers out there, how you label your book makes a difference! The broader the label, the more competition and the harder for readers to find. Just saying!

A Little More Personal

I’ve said on the blog a few times now that life has been a bit more frantic than usual, and I’m having trouble finding the time to write like I did before. This week, my husband had a heart attack, and I followed the EMS to the hospital. He had a 90% blockage of his front, central artery. His other two arteries were blocked, too. He’s LUCKY he’s still with us. I’m lucky he’s still with me.

He spent four days in the hospital, and they put stints in his central and right arteries. But he was getting too tired and too weak, so they’re going to wait a few weeks to put stints in his left artery. I brought him home on Tuesday. He slept most of the day and night, and then he slept huge amounts on Wednesday. Each time he wakes up, he’s a little better, a little stronger. It’s going to take a while. I’ve had a kazillion phone calls, but things are levelling out. I got to work on plot points most of the afternoon today. HH, of course, is my top priority.

He goes to the cardiologist’s clinic to have the next stints put in on Aug. 18. And then, who knows? Maybe he’ll have the drive and energy he used to have. Then I’m in trouble. He was always into something. I’m just glad he’s still with me. And then we’ll argue about me trying to make him take his pills, to exercise, to not eat that bowl of ice cream that’s calling to him. But that’s what makes life interesting:)

BUT, if I miss a day on twitter or forget to write a blog, that’s why. I kind of life the Old Poop, and I want him to stick around. And it takes energy to keep an eye on him because he hates to follow rules:) But he married a school teacher. He has no idea how strict I can be if I have to. He’d better shape up!

Hope you have a wonderful August!

It’s going to be trickier for Jazzi this time

I couldn’t have gotten a nicer compliment than to have a reader message me and ask if I was starting work on a new Jazzi and Ansel mystery yet. Boy, did that make me feel good! And yes, I am. I’m pounding out plot points, trying to find the right balance of keeping things in the story that readers like but making it fresh enough that it’s not just the same old, same old. That’s the thing about writing a series, at least, a cozy series. There are things readers expect and want, but at the same time, it’s hard to keep the series from becoming stale.

This time, Gaff isn’t going to work with Jazzi. The detective’s teamed up with Caden (who was in book 8) as a partner, and Caden doesn’t like a civilian involved in police work. Gaff’s worried, because he knows Jazzi will poke into things anyway, but he and Jazzi have to go their separate ways.

It’s not as hard for Jazzi to find information as Caden hopes because Doc, the man who’s the top suspect, works with her father. And Doc was taking the victim, Sparks, to small claims court. Sparks hired him to fix projects on his house, then didn’t want to pay him for “substandard work.” After talking to people, Jazzi realizes that was a pattern for Sparks. He smiled and complimented people while trying to cheat them. He also raced cars in the town’s demolition derbies, and she learns that Sparks wasn’t above cheating there either. Jazzi’s brother-in-law, Thane, loves the derbies and goes to enough of them to know most of the drivers. . . and the behind-the-scenes gossip. Which he’s happy to pass on to her.

I’m about halfway through my plot points right now and hope to finish them soon, so that I can start writing. Jazzi has to be good in this book because she’s pregnant and can’t do any heavy lifting. She and the guys are working on a new Greek Revival style house, and I’m busy trying to decide how they’re going to renovate it. I have lots of pictures torn out of magazines and stored on Pinterest to inspire me.

Between Jazzi’s pregnancy, the murder mystery, and a couple of subplots, I hope I have enough to make for a good book. I always feel like I’m coming home when I work on these stories. So, I hope the words flow. I hope YOUR words flow, too.

Happy writing!

Charcuterie

I only recently got serious about charcuterie. I’ve been to too many parties where people slap some cheese cubes, crackers, and cold meats on a platter and call it a day. Keep in mind that milk and I don’t get along, and a lot of different cheeses–no matter how good–isn’t a high point for me.

I didn’t fall in love with a charcuterie board until my daughters and I took a trip together to San Antonio and stopped at a local winery with the most wonderful charcuterie board I’ve ever sampled. And then it was on! For the first time, I realized I could play a lot with what I wanted to offer on mine.

If I take Prelief pills before I swallow a nibble of cheese, I can get away with ONE element of cheese. For me, it’s going to be pimiento cheese dip. I LOVE the stuff! I have a recipe that uses mayo as its base instead of cream cheese, and I make Za’atar spiced pita wedges to smear it on, then I’m in heaven. But that’s only one part of the board. I like to add spiced nuts with dried nuts to the board, usually a tapenade with crackers and bagel chips, pickles, olives, and dried fruits and sometimes grapes. I add deviled eggs on the side, besides salami and sliced meats. If I pair the boards with a main dish salad (This time I made Bobby Flay’s seared shrimp Nicoise salad), it’s a perfect light, late lunch.

But now that it’s getting hot and humid, I don’t cook as much as I usually do. So, it’s hello to salads and watermelon! On the weather channel, it looks like most of the country, maybe too much of the world, is too hot. So, I hope you keep your cool and enjoy the summer. And happy writing!

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I’m a Guest on C.S. Boyack’s Blog

I’ve been a fan of Craig’s for a long time. He writes a great blog, does topnotch articles for Story Empire, and writes imaginative, entertaining books. And he was kind enough to invite me to his site to promote THE STEAKS ARE HIGH. This book deals a lot with family issues, and I discuss it there. Hope you pop over to his place to check it out, and while you’re there, take a look at what he has on offer.

I Screwed Up

I had a “duh” moment. A while ago, I went through my first Muddy River story, Black Magic Can Backfire, to fix mistakes a reader mentioned. I spent so much time on it, it motivated me to do something with the book. I’ve neglected it for a long time. So, I went to The Fussy Librarian and paid for a promotion and signed the book up to be free for five days, hoping readers will find it and maybe be interested in more Muddy River stories. They’re shorter reads featuring witches, vampires, and other supernaturals. Most books have a pretty strong romance plot, too, so I listed Raven Black and Hester Wand as a paranormal romance. The thing is, The Fussy Librarian didn’t have openings for paranormal romances for a while, so I signed up for one of the earliest I could get, scribbled it on my blackboard, and forgot about it.

Then, I struggled to finish the Karnie Cleaver book I’d been working on, and too much was going on, so I didn’t do the marketing I’d meant to do, gave up, and went to The Fussy Librarian to make the first book in that series, A CUT ABOVE, free for five days to hopefully help readers find THE STEAKS ARE HIGH, too. And guess what?

Now, I have TWO books that will be free at the exact same times, from July 18-22. NOT the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done. The only positive thing I can say is that they shouldn’t compete against each other, since they’re in entirely different genres. A CUT ABOVE is a cozy, culinary mystery. And BLACK MAGIC CAN BACKFIRE is, as I mentioned, a paranormal romance…with a hint of mystery.

If anyone reads my blog for solid writing or marketing advice, DON’T do what I just did. Not my brightest moment. But, there you go. I’ll have two books free for Kindle next week, starting on Monday, the 18th.

https://www.amazon.com/Cut-Above-Cleaver-mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B08ZWDQJL9/ref=sr_1_1?crid=6GIV8C7J55TO&keywords=a+cut+above%2C+judi+lynn&qid=1658086281&sprefix=a+cut+above%2C+judi+lynn%2Caps%2C67&sr=8-1 .

https://www.amazon.com/Muddy-River-Mystery-One-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07PF1RSDZ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2DJ2I692R9YIC&keywords=black+magic+can+backfire&qid=1658086374&sprefix=black+magic+can+backfire%2Caps%2C68&sr=8-1 .