Fantasy Fun & Writing Advice

I’ve read more gritty books than usual this year, and when I finish one, I need something light and fun to balance it out. So I was delighted when my writer friend, Kyra Jacobs, let me read her upcoming novel, BLUE MANHATTAN. I’m a big fan of witches, demons, and gargoyles. Believe me when I tell you, I hadn’t read any quite like Kyra’s before. The humor was a perfect blend with battles and power struggles. The protagonist tends bar, and the scene with supernatural customers coming in for a drink made me think of the bar scene from STAR WARS. I loved it.

But I’ll let Kyra tell you about it herself. I invited her here to help promote her book and to talk about writing. She surprised me by adding some nice things about me (blushing and trying to stay humble). Writing has its ups and downs, and Kyra–who works to be a positive person–has some great advice about that:.

Kyra Jacobs Guest Post

Hi all! Judi graciously invited me to pop by for a visit this week to help celebrate the release of my tenth novel, BLUE MANHATTAN. And honestly, whether she knows it or not, Judi had a lot to do with me writing this book…

You see, Judy was there when this whole Kyra Jacobs thing began. I’d just finished another draft of my debut novel ARMED WITH STEELE (I had at least eleven drafts of that book…couldn’t tell you which one I was on when I first met her LOL) and had joined a small local writing group that gathered once a month in the back corner of our local Barnes & Noble. I’m pretty sure her dear friend M.L. Rigdon was there as well, along with Shirley Jump and a few other wonderful authors and writers. Me, I was clueless and green and doing my best to be a sponge to all their wonderful advice. And Judi? Well, she just seemed so at ease with the whole writing process. And cool. I mean, she was writing urban fantasy before it really hit the genre scene—talk about a true visionary!

Okay, I may be getting a little carried away, but she definitely made a positive impression on me. Since then, I’ve loved being a cheerleader for her writing. I also love how she’s become a treasured one of mine.

This writing stuff? It ain’t easy. Doing that thing with the words and stringing ‘em together to build a story up from nothing (and pray it all still makes sense in the end) takes imagination. It takes time. Patience. Maybe even some honest-to-goodness skill.

But honestly? I think something that’s just as critical to have along this journey is a tribe you can count on. People who support you, who understand you, who empathize with you. People who cheer for you when you’re celebrating a success—no matter how big or small—and bring a spare tissue along when this writing gig has got you down.

Because it most certainly will sometimes, not gonna lie.

Yes, family and friends are wonderful support networks, but as most writers know, unless your family/friends are writers too, they don’t always GET us. They can’t fully understand the excitement you feel when you have that eleventh-hour plot breakthrough just before a deadline to your editor, or the frustration that’s beginning to eat you alive when you’ve hit a brickwall in your story for the umpteenth time and are thiiiiiiiiis close to shutting your laptop for good. They won’t fully appreciate why hitting 1000 words this afternoon (or 3000 or maybe just a really tough 50) might be something to celebrate, or how painful it was for you to trim those 5600 words from an overinflated genre submission.

But your tribe does.

They understand everything you’re feeling because they’ve likely experienced it at some point too. Our shared pains and joys and frustrations and elations are what bind us on a different level. Having a tribe gives you a safe place to vent, or to bounce ideas around, or to test out plot twists and watch for reactions. Priceless, is truly what they are, repaid in hugs and thank you’s and endless cheering from the sidelines.

Sure, the involvement of your tribe’s members may change over the years as some journeys wind down while others’ ramp up, but those connections and friendships can last a lifetime.

I’d be lost without my tribe—they know who they are, and each of them have secured a precious place in my heart. Judi and M.L. are certainly there, for all the wisdom and support they’ve gifted me with over the years, as are countless others. Some, I’ve met in person. Others, I’ve made connections with from across the country to even around the world, all thanks to the amazing technology that is the interwebz. Each one is a true blessing, and help keep me grounded when life starts spinning off-kilter. Their resilience inspires me to keep trying, keep dreaming.

Keep writing.

So yes, Judi, in her own steadfast journey, has helped keep me moving forward with mine (and I’m certain that I’m not the only one, if the dedication of her regular, on-going local writers group is any indication.) Her bravery in trying different genres and rolling with the punches helped inspire me to give my imagination freer rein with BLUE MANHATTAN, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite stories. Will it sell a million copies? Eh, who knows. But one thing I do know is this: my tribe will be right beside me either way, and to me those friendships are worth their weight in gold.

Thank you, Judi, for being part of my tribe, and for all the support and encouragement you’ve graciously offered me over the years. And thank you all for sharing your time with me today. Stay safe, take care, and write on!

P.S. If you’re looking for a new wild and crazy fantasy romance, I’ve got you covered. 😉


Bartender Shayla Tempest wants nothing more than to stay out of trouble. Oh, and to kill the supernatural mob boss who’s stolen her sister. So, when Mauricio Hunter demands Shay deliver some “special package” in exchange for her sister’s life, this supe masquerading as a blue-skinned witch doesn’t hesitate to agree. Until, that is, she learns the package is one that’s completely off-limits for her kind: a human.

Computer programmer Jamie Knight just wants to finish debugging his latest app. But some douche bag named Mauricio has kidnapped his girlfriend, and now Jamie’s dodging dangerous mythical creatures in a race against time to pay her ransom. His only hope? One seriously stubborn witch who’s blue, scary powerful, and sexy as hell.

With an unexpected attraction brewing between them, this unlikely duo will break every rule in the supernatural underworld to complete their rescue mission. But something far more devious than kidnapping is on Mauricio’s true agenda, and the erlking will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Do Shay and Jamie have what it takes to thwart his plans without losing themselves—or each other—along the way?

Available now at Amazon.

An October Read

I want to welcome C.S. Boyack back to my blog. I love having him here. He’s a friend and fellow writer, and I’m a fan. This time, he’s promoting his latest book perfect for October reading, THE BALLAD OF MRS. MOLONY. This is the third book in his Lizzie and the Hat series, but it can easily stand on its own. I’ve downloaded it, and it’s next on my TBR list. I visit Craig’s blog many times, and he’s a contributor to Story Empire, offering valuable tips on all things writing. Please show him some love while he’s here. And with that, I’ll let Craig take it from here:

Thank you so much for having me over, Judi. We’ve all had a good time on this tour, and the Ballad of Mrs. Molony is still only 99¢ for a limited time. I’ll put it at its regular price sometime in early November. Don’t miss out on this fun bit of Halloween reading at the introductory price. I’ll let the blurb sell the story at the end.

I like to make all my tour posts unique, and our topic today is the evolution of the series. Specifically, recurring characters.

As the series extends, it occurred to me that Lizzie and the hat don’t operate in a vacuum. They are going to revisit some locations and come across some people more than others.

In the first story, The Hat, it was all about getting acquainted and forging the bond they have. I mentioned some people from Lizzie’s life, but we didn’t really get to meet them. There’s Mike with the landscaping company, along with Dave & Sandi. All of them own places Lizzie works for. It was functional, because of the focus of that specific story.

Viral Blues was the second story, and because these are supposed to be campy and silly, I wrote my version of a comic book team up adventure. The participants all appeared in my previous books. It took some doing, but you can read this one without having ever read any of the other stories.

Then came The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, the current story. It dawned on me that Lizzie is going to need some recurring characters to take this much further.

Our heroes have a small cover band, and I fleshed that out in Viral Blues. These characters give some of the continuity I’m looking for, but they have nothing to do with the paranormal world. They wouldn’t even understand it. That leaves me with Evelyn, the witch from The Hat.

I needed some recurring characters that fit into the paranormal side of these stories. Welcome Kevin Mugford. He’s a vampire, and has to be the crappiest vamp in history. He has gnarly teeth to the point of deformity, and a speech impediment to go along with it. In Mrs. Molony, he’s a frequent target of the hat’s barbs. He might even be more trouble than he’s worth.

I figured if The Rockford Files could have Angel Martin, maybe Lizzie and the hat could have their own street informant. I probably won’t drop him in every book, but he’s going to stick around.

Since I decided to pull characters from other books, I decided why stop now? Once upon a time, I wrote a book called Will O’ the Wisp. One of the supporting characters was Pete Rogers. Pete earned a short story in one of my collections called Night Bump Radio. I brought Pete into this series with his late night radio show. Callers dial in to tell Pete what goes bump in their night. Turns out it’s Lizzie and the hat, who they’ve given a terrible nickname. This helps me add a bit of tension and keeps them looking over their shoulders. I intend to make this a regular part of the series.

I have more recurring characters planned for future stories. The trick is to keep the focus on Lizzie and the hat. These won’t be regular characters, but recurring. Think Inspectors Lestrade and Gregson from the Sherlock Holmes stories.

The even bigger trick is to keep writing the books in such a way that people can read them out of order without feeling lost. I’m determined to do this. I don’t want someone to discover these stories years from now and feel like they can’t pick up any volume they’re interested in because it’s part of a series.

I can afford a tiny little intro for Kevin whenever he appears and not lose the long term readers. They might appreciate a reminder if it’s been a while.

One example happened in Viral Blues. Lisa Burton, the robot girl, helped Lizzie out with some suitable outfits for her nocturnal monster hunting activities. The fact that Lizzie is wearing some of these things in Mrs. Molony doesn’t leave new readers feeling lost.

I’ve rambled long enough, and I promised you a cover and blurb to get you excited about the new story. I’ll also throw out a purchase link and some links for the previous stories. Hope you’ll give The Hat Series a chance for your Halloween reading.


Blurb: Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.

The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exist? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up blood sucking?

Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene.

Purchase your copy here: The Ballad of Mrs. Molony

Other stories in the series are:

The Hat

Viral Blues

Image preview

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

BlogMy NovelsTwitterGoodreads | FacebookPinterestBookBub

Thanks so much for stopping by, Craig. I enjoy reading (and writing) series. When I like characters, it’s fun to see them in more stories. I’m excited about vampires and monster hunters for Halloween reading! Along with your ever present dose of humor. Have a great October!

Best Sellers

I read In The Market for Murder by T. E. Kinsey and really enjoyed visiting Lady Hardcastle and her kung-fu maid, Florence, a second time.  Humor permeates these books.  This one takes place in 1909, but Lady Hardcastle is way ahead of her times, always pushing the boundaries and solving crimes.  The mysteries–three in this book that seem separate but are all connected–are solid.  I like it when I read a mystery and the mystery is a decent part of the plot and well thought out.  These are.

I bought the first book in this series because I looked at the top 100 mysteries for some category and noticed not one or two, but FIVE of T. E. Kinsey’s mysteries listed.  And they were historical.  Always a plus for me.  So I decided to try one.  And I found it extremely entertaining.  Which surprised me.  In my mind, I had decided that best-selling books had to be weighty and serious.  Lady Hardcastle is NOT serious.  Neither is her maid, Florence.  They take potshots at each other and enjoy it tremendously.  Lady Hardcastle enjoys brandy…often.  And when stressed or bored, Florence fills the kitchen with so many cakes, they have to give most away.

In this particular Lady Hardcastle mystery, sleights of hand play a big part.  There’s a séance that might or might not be legit.  Trophies disappear from a case but the thief didn’t leave the premises.  All clever.  All fun.  And the books are hugely popular.  As they should be.

My theory that bestsellers have to involve angst, character growth, and a certain amount of suffering hasn’t proven true in this case.  The stakes didn’t make me lose sleep.  I fell asleep smiling.  And I love it!

I hope whatever you’re working on is going well, and enjoy this LAST week of May.  I can’t believe it.  It’s almost June–which I love.  But where did the time go?  Again?



Mystery Musings

I read a twitter post that made me happy.  Lynn Cahoon is coming out with a new series, The Kitchen Witch.  I’m a fan of her Tourist Trap mysteries.  Add a witch to her whodunnits, and I’m in.  I have a soft spot for nice witches and magic.

Way, way back when I wrote urban fantasies as Judith Post, I wrote a lot of Babet & Prosper short reads.  Babet was a witch, and Prosper was a bear shifter and a detective for supernatural crimes.  They lived in a city with a feel a bit like New Orleans.  I wrote them mostly for fun, like I write Muddy River now as Judi Lynn.  When I signed with Kensington to write romances, though, I left all of my urban fantasy behind.

After I wrote six Mill Pond romances, my editor let me try writing a cozy mystery, and that’s how the Jazzi Zanders mysteries came to be.  But I missed the world of magic, and I noticed there were a lot of witch and wizard mysteries making their way onto Amazon.  I bought and enjoyed quite a few of them–witches who worked in chocolate shops, in bakeries, in small towns.  A lot of them had art for covers instead of models.  Paintings of witches with black, pointy hats and black dresses.  A lot of them were fun, light-hearted mysteries, and I enjoy them.

That’s not what I wrote when I started Muddy River, though.  And that’s probably a marketing mistake, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to write humor.  I used it in my first romance–COOKING UP TROUBLE, because I didn’t have much confidence that I could write romance either:)  I’m still not sure either is my strong point.  Mae Clair, who wrote the Hode’s Hill suspense series that I love, turned to humor for her short read, IN SEARCH OF McDOOGLE, and she nailed it.  McDoogle was the perfect read for the end of a long, tiring day.

I like humor.  Sometimes, I’m even funny.  I’m just not a natural at it.  But I’ve noticed that it works really well with good witches.  And when Lynn Cahoon’s book comes out late August, I’m looking forward to see what her witch is up to.


Agatha Raisin

I’m a fan of M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth mysteries.  Having a laidback constable who’s happy doing his job and staying where he is, with no pretentions of ambition, even though he’s devilishly clever and always solves a case, is a novel twist.  People often underestimate him, and that  works to his advantage.  It’s refreshing to read about someone who’s perfectly satisfied with his life.  At least, so far.  I’m way behind in the series.

M.C. Beaton also writes the Agatha Raisin mystery series, which can now be seen on Acorn TV.  Way back, when the early books first came out, I bought a couple and tried them.  And Agatha annoyed me so much, I couldn’t make myself read another one of them.  I went right back to my clever, amiable Hamish.  But recently a funny thing’s happened.  I ran out of shows in the Shakespeare and Hathaway series I enjoyed so much.  Ditto for the series Rosemary and Thyme.  The Queens of Mystery was even shorter with its witty narrator and sly humor.  I enjoy Longmire, but HH and I only watch one or two of those shows a week.  So we tried Bosch, but that show’s so depressing, we’re going to finish the first series and swear off it.  That led us to try Agatha Raisin on TV.  And we really enjoy it.

I was younger when I first tried Agatha.  I’m not sure if my sense of humor has changed, or if the TV shows appeal more to me than the books would.  And for me, it doesn’t matter.  I think I’ve found a good balance, watching Agatha and reading Hamish.  It lets me enjoy both sides of M.C. Beaton.

What about you?  Have you read M.C. Beaton?  Do you enjoy Agatha and Hamish, or do you prefer one over the other?