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.

Kyra Jacobs!

Hi, all!  I’m so happy to spread the news that Kyra Jacobs’s third and last book in the Checkerberry Inn contemporary romance series will be out on July 17th, and it’s available for pre-order now.  I love Kyra’s writing–both her romances and her dragon series–so I asked her to do a question and answer for us and to tell us a little about her new book.  Here goes:

Questions for Karen:

  1. This is the third and final book in your Checkerberry Inn series. How did you enjoy writing a series?  Did it have any challenges?

I love series writing, and being able to draw on the supporting cast from prior books to help drive new stories. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to plan ahead. I’ve got to be careful not to make a future hero/heroine act contrary to what you want them behaving like in their upcoming books.

  1. You tend to write about feisty heroines. Freudian, maybe?  A little bit of you sneaking into your fiction?

Hah! I’m pleading the fifth, here. Pleading. The. Fifth.

  1. Besides writing romances, you skip off to write PNR novels, too. How did that happen?

Honestly, I don’t know. The dragons struck me out of the blue (re-releases coming 7/31!) , as did my latest fantasy/PNR novel (work in progress). But I’ve found that keeping a foot in each genre tends to help balance me out, crazy as that may sound. With my contemporary stories, I have certain plot rules for romance to follow, as well as making the story/setting/characters believable. With fantasy, I get to break all the “normal” rules while I create new ones that shape my alternate worlds.

  1. Your third book features a female chef. Do you love to cook?  Are you a secret cookbook hoarder?

Ha! No, not a cookbook hoarder. Though, I’m certainly a cookbook/recipe user. If I don’t have directions to follow, I’m lost. Maddie, the chef in my story—she’s a wiz in the kitchen. Me? Not so much. I do love to bake (again, all about following the recipe) and have been trying my hand at grilling this summer. So far, so good!

  1. What about the hero, Cole? He’s a musician, isn’t he?  Can you tell us a little about him?  You’re a little addicted to music, aren’t you?  Do you listen to it while you write?

Ah, Cole. He’s such a sweetheart but so misunderstood. I was glad to bring him a much-needed HEA. And yes, I do love music. If I’m in the car, I’m singing along. Working in the yard or on a walk, headphones are likely in (but I spare the neighbors from hearing me sing). During writing time, though, the music stays off. I need quiet for the stories in my head to make it onto my keyboard.

  1. Okay, tell us a little about you. If you were gifted a perfect day, what would it be?

Oh, wow. There are so many “perfect day” scenarios to choose from! I’m thinking one that has a little of all my favorite things in there—time with my boys, time in my flower gardens, time writing, maybe even a bit of yoga thrown in the mix. And something tells me, music will be included as well. 😉 

Thanks for visiting my blog!  Can you share your new book’s cover, a blurb, and excerpt with us?

Thank you so much for having me here today, Judy!



Maddie Frye, the Checkerberry Inn’s snarky, introverted chef, just wants to be left alone. But with the inn’s upcoming gala, Maddie’s boss has matchmaking on the brain. So when the gorgeous new guy in town helps her out for a night, she comes up with the perfect solution to her problem…

Cole Granville is looking for a fresh start. When a part-time job opens in the Checkerberry’s kitchen, he takes it without a second thought. The only catch? He’s got to help his sexy new coworker snag a date for an upcoming dance. But as he coaches Maddie on attracting her crush, Cole realizes he’s the one falling for the curvy brunette. 



“Hey! You!”

Cole froze, his heart racing. The last time he’d heard those words, they were followed by “Stop! Police!” Resisting the urge to run, he turned toward the voice and stared. The Checkerberry’s spitfire of a chef was running toward them, apron flapping in the wind.

“Uh-oh,” said Brent. “What’d you do to make Maddie leave the kitchen at this hour?”

“No idea, I haven’t seen her since church on Sunday. Maybe she’s yelling at you?”

Brent chuckled. “Looks like we’re about to find out.”

She came to a stop a few feet back, her peaches and cream complexion flushed from exertion. “Hey, hi. Cole, right?”

The men exchanged a glance. Brent offered him a victorious smirk.

“Yes, ma’am. What can I do you for?”

“Ma’am? Good grief, I’m not ninety. Even if I do feel that way sometimes. It’s Maddie. Just Maddie.”

She put a hand to her chest. Cole’s gaze followed the movement but he did his best not to let it linger there. He’d admired her curves from a distance many times, but never this up close. Today, her top was unbuttoned farther than it usually was on Sundays…

She cleared her throat and brought the hand down to plant on her hip. “You still looking for work?”

Cole stared at her, momentarily dumbstruck.

“Work.” She waved a hand in front of his face. “Are you still looking for work?”

He blinked, trying to clear the fog of surprise from his mind. “Yes, ma’am—I mean, Maddie. Did you need help moving something? Or lifting?”

“No. More like washing dishes. You got two working hands and arms?”

“Yes, ’um.”

“Then you’ll do. Please tell me this was your last run of the day.”

“It is.” More like his only run of the day. Probably wasn’t even necessary, but Old Tom hated to see him sit around bored on the days he filled in at Granville’s Hardware. Not that he’d ever complain—those days were what graciously supplied the roof over his head until Cole got on his feet financially.

“Perfect. You finish with Brent, I’ll call your grandfather.” She hurried back toward the inn, leaving the men to themselves once more.

“Come on,” said Brent with a grin. “I’ll help you unload so you can get to our queen bee.”

Cole smirked. “Thanks.”

“I hope you didn’t have any plans tonight. Big gathering up there, lots of old biddies. They stay longer than you’d expect.”

“Nah, no plans.” Cole looked back toward the inn, seeing it for the first time as a possible ticket to success. Who knew? If washing dishes paid a decent wage, maybe he’d find a way to stay longer than expected. And a cash advance.

In fact, his dream studio was counting on it…




How do you like it? Sex in romances…

I’m reading a Stacy Finz romance right now, FINDING HOPE, and I’m really enjoying it. She’s created great characters who feel REAL, and they’re all searching for answers in their lives.  Last night, I hit the scene that if I was young and horny, I’d have earmarked and reread until the page fell out of the book.  Man, was it hot!  Before reading Finz, I read WHISKEY BEACH by Nora Roberts.  I’ve read MIDNIGHT BAYOU and ENCHANTED by her, (my favorites), and the sex sizzled, but not in this one.  The emphasis was on two people who needed to learn to trust again, so the bedroom scenes emphasized that.

My writer friend, alias Julia Donner, can write great sex for her Regency series. I blush in my living room where no one can see me:)  So can my writer friend, Kyra Jacobs, who writes sweet romances for Enchanted, but wrote hot and steamy for her dragon shifter series.  And she does both well.  Me?  The first time I tried a sex scene, it was a real challenge, and it didn’t win any awards.  I still had the problem of picturing friends and family reading it.  One of my friends flat out told me, “If an author has to grab my attention with sex, I put the book down.”  Not every reader appreciates sex in romances.  They think you’re appealing for shock value, cheap thrills.  I remember reading one of Kyra’s blogs when it bothered her that a friend commented, “So, now you’re writing smut?”  (You can find her blog here:  The thing is, both Julia Donner and Kyra Jacobs can write great books without sex.  They don’t HAVE to have it to hold your attention.  They write it because it’s appropriate to the stories they’re telling.

When I first started writing romances, I worried how readers would react to the sex scenes in my books.  First, did they work, or were they clumsy?  Second, were they appropriate to the story?  Was sex a natural progression for the two characters in my book?  Was it to advance the story line and their relationship or just to punch up a sagging plot?  That feels just as gimmicky to me as writers who throw in a gruesome death scene to create tension when suspense has gone flat.  Even if I got the sex right, I still can’t do sizzle.  I think I’d have to blindfold my dead mother so that I can’t picture her looking over my shoulder and flinching.  But my biggest angst went away when I gave one of my manuscripts to my dear, wonderful friend and first draft editor Ann Wintrode.  Ann belonged to my writing group, was a retired librarian, and was in her eighties.  When I fussed because I wasn’t sure if I should show her my manuscript because I had sex scenes in the book, Ann skewered me with a look and said, “I think sex is a natural part of life.  If your characters are realistic, and are attracted to each other, wouldn’t they have sex?”

Well, that pretty much put it in perspective for me.  I guess I’ve decided that if the sex feels like the right thing for the characters, and not just gratuitous for readers,  then it works.  I don’t have to turn out the lights and show fireworks exploding outside the window, though that would have been better than the first sex scene I ever wrote.  I like books with and without sex scenes, as long as they’re well-written.  I like sweet and sizzling romances.  Whatever.  Just make me care.

Happy Writing!

My webpage:

My Facebook author page:

On twitter: @judypost

Writing: A Different Perspective

I love sharing how I write, what I’m working on, techniques I’m struggling with. But once in a while, it’s nice to be able to pick another writer’s mind, to see what they’re doing and how they do it. So today, I’d like to welcome Kyra Jacobs to my blog. I’ve known Kyra for a few years now. She’s a warm, lovely person, and also a lovely writer. She has a new book coming out tomorrow–Monday, September 14th- and what a cover! Gorgeous! It’s a contemporary romance, (which is what I’m working on now), so I thought I’d invite her here to spill her secrets about writing and tell us about her new release.

Hi, Kyra! Again, welcome to my blog. I’ve followed your writing since you started the Hometown Heroes series with cops and fire fighters. In those books, you mixed romance with suspense for a little extra pizzazz. Your new novel is a contemporary romance. When I tried straight romance, it was an adjustment for me. Was it for you?

Definitely. I knew the basics of the story from the start, but unlike romantic suspense I didn’t have a crime or devious goings ons to drive the story forward. That meant digging a whole lot deeper for me as an author and forced me to really delve into the character’s emotions and play off their relationship fears instead of life and death concerns.

Are you a pantser or a plotter? What do you have to know before you start writing a book?

You know, I try to plot. Really I do. But no plot for me ever sticks, and usually I just end up tossing it aside at some point. I guess that makes me a “plantser”? lol Ironically, I do keep an outline in a separate file as I write, noting every chapter and scene and page numbers and basic story elements, so I can go back and find instances easily. I’d be lost with out it!

As for what I need to know…hmm. A lot of my stories started out as an image in my mind of a single scene or conversation. From there I look back in time to see what might have led up to that moment, and forward to see what comes next.

How do you develop the characters in your stories?

Great question, and one I know probably everyone has a different answer to! For me, it’s been a bit of an evolution of the process with each book. The biggest influence for my method, though, came in the form of a blog I stumbled across on Janice Hardy’s site a few years back that gave a terrific overview of a workshop put on by Michael Hague called Using Inner Conflict to Create Powerful Love Stories.

I’ve given this link to a number of people now, because I think it’s a terrific description of how to keep your characters from being boring and 2-dimensional. It also helps me dig deeper into each of them to better understand their goals, motivations, and potential conflict.

You’re part of the KickAss Chicks — How much fun is that?

Yes! The KickAss Chicks came about this spring and we have had a blast putting together a fun, interactive site that connects writers with readers. It’s also stretching us outside our comfort zones, which can be kinda fun, too. Our current blog series features each of us chicks reading a scene from one of our books, so you’ll get to see and hear us. (I’m not even going to tell you how many takes that took to get recording right!)

And while it is absolutely amazing coordinating with the chicks on social media, the benefits to being a part of a group like this goes beyond our website. As you know, writing can be a very solitary, sometimes lonely process. But beyond the keyboard, many of us are mothers, wives, employees…you name it. So the biggest blessing of this group for me has been coming alongside 6 amazing women who are there in a heartbeat to encourage and celebrate each other in both our writing journeys and our personal ones.

Any advice for fellow writers on how to get published?

Write what your heart is calling you to write. The stories that have come easiest for me were the ones that called to me, that dug their claws in and wouldn’t let go. Don’t try to fill a niche, or feel you have to write whatever is selling best right now. Publishing (done right) is never a quick process. Some books take years to write, and even longer to publish. The market changes, but a good, heartfelt story will never go out of style.

Any news you’d like to share? Anything about dragons? Or last comments?

Haha well, yes, since you mentioned it… While this week marks the release of my first contemporary romance (which I hope will become a several book series at the Checkerberry Inn), I also just signed a three book contract with Samhain Publishing for a fantasy/paranormal romance. And it juuuuuust might include a few irresistible men who can also change into giant dragons. That comment I made about writing what your heart is calling you to write? Yep, that one demanded I write it. A bit way off the beaten path for me, but my beta readers LOVED it, and I’m hoping you will too. Watch for all three books in that series to release in 2016, starting with DRAGONS AMONG THEM April 19th!

Tell us a little about your new book, Her Unexpected Detour.

DETOUR follows Fort Wayne native Kayla Daniels as she embarks on an unplanned trip to visit her younger brother at Central Michigan University. But a late spring ice storm complicates her plans and brings Kayla to the Checkerberry Inn. Both she and the owner’s grandson have suffered the loss of a parent and chose to shut the world out rather than grieve and move on. But comedic interludes and mutual attraction help Brent and Kayla heal together and find their happily ever after.

Book Blurb:

Sometimes it’s not the destination, but the detour…

Kayla has the perfect strategy for a broken heart: work, work, and more work. Then a storm sends her car skidding off the road, stranding her in Mount Pleasant. Fortunately, rescue comes in the form of the incredibly handsome but gruff Brent Masterson. And he’s hot enough to tempt Kayla into doing something she never thought she could do…

Brent Masterson swore he would never give into the fierce attraction that’s been sizzling between him and Kayla since they first met. He has his own demons, and he won’t risk his heart again. Not even for someone as gorgeous and amazing as Kayla. So…how exactly did he end up in Kayla’s bed last night?

But sometimes all it takes is an ice storm to show two broken hearts the way home…

Thanks so much for having me here today, Judy!

Thanks for sharing with us, Kyra, and for being a guest on my blog!



You can find Kyra’s webpage at:

Her blog’s at

And she’s on twitter: @KyraJacobsBooks