NetGalley for reviews

My fifth Mill Pond romance is available for reviews on NetGalley now.  Miriam is a high school English teacher who can stop a rebellious teenager with one raised eyebrow.  Take her seriously!  Joel’s daughter is nineteen, but will always be mentally twelve.  He comes to Mill Pond to open a brewery.  Will beer and literature make a perfect blend?


Spicing Things Up comes out March 21!

This week has been a mixed bag.  My grandson came home on a 10-day leave from marine basic training.  Our family was all excited about seeing him.  The poor kid came home with “recruit crud.” He said it’s common.  Luckily, his first night home, I had a family welcome home supper for him, including steaks, macaroni ‘n cheese, and chocolate chip bar cookies–his favorites.  We all thought he had a bad cold until two days later, his temperature spiked to 104, and his mom took him to the health clinic.  He had “community pneumonia.”  Also common, I guess.  After a super shot and antibiotics, he started to feel better–and that’s when his mom, my husband, and I all started coughing and feeling crappy.

We’re taking meds now, and we’ve watched lots of movies together.  Nate’s feeling almost up to par, so his brother drove from Indy on Friday to drink green beer with him on St. Pat’s day, but it hasn’t been the warm homecoming we expected.  Still, we got to see him.  He leaves tomorrow to go back to Indy to catch his airplane early Monday morning.  He’s going to be gone a while this time.  He says he’s going to try to come home healthy next time.

I had page proofs to finish while he was here, but did those around his schedule. Everything got done on time.  Nate leaves on Monday, and then my book comes out on Tuesday.  I hope that lifts my spirits.  Anyway, I thought I’d include a snippet from the book.  I hope you like it:


Autumn rain didn’t have the joy of its spring counterpoint.  It served as a foreboding for worse weather to come.  When they walked inside the bar, warmth greeted them.  There were more empty tables than usual, and Daphne saw Paula sitting at a table by herself.  She waved them over.

Mom tried to hide a grimace.  She didn’t approve of Paula’s small eyebrow ring and the stud in her cheek.  She glanced away from her tattoos.

But Paula was all smiles and cheerfulness.  “Hi!  I hear there’s a trip in your near future.”

Mom’s eyebrows shot up, surprised.  “Where did you hear that?”

“Tyne told us.  He said you’re going to Carolina.”

The eyebrows furrowed into a frown.  “Really?”  She shot a dirty look at Daphne.

Daphne hung her raincoat on a nearby peg and held up her hands in surrender.  “He asked me about meeting him for supper next week, and I said I could, because you’d be out of town.”

Her mother didn’t look happy.  Her dad looked downright nervous.

Daphne shrugged.  “I didn’t know your trip was a secret.”

“It’s not.”  Mom left it at that.

Paula looked back and forth between them, confused.  “What’s wrong with having Tyne feed your daughter?  He’s one hell of a cook.”

“We’ve heard.”  Mom’s tone could form glaciers.

Louise Draper came to take their orders.  Paula already had a hamburger, and they each ordered one, too.  Of course, Mom and Dad ordered theirs plain, no bun.

When Louise left, Daphne decided it was a good time to change the subject.  She turned to Paula.  “Tyne’s brother is a chef, too, isn’t he?”

Paula’s lips twitched.  She recognized a dodge tactic when she heard one, but Daphne had to give her credit.  She answered quickly, “Holden’s won lots of awards.  Of course, that’s what his parents expected.  They always thought Holden would do well.  He was a straight-A student and excelled at culinary school.  They never expected much out of Tyne.”

Daphne could feel heat rush through her veins.  “Why not?  It’s hard to miss his talent.”  Her voice held more of an edge than she expected.  Her mother narrowed her eyes.

Paula glanced at the bar where Chase was taking someone’s order.  “Tyne does things his own way, like Chase.  Neither of them care if they impress anyone or not, and that didn’t impress Tyne’s parents.  They’re big into status.”

Daphne fiddled with the paper napkin on her lap.  What was wrong with Tyne’s parents?  How could they miss how wonderful he was?  She’d have never guessed Tyne had any challenges in his life.  He seemed so sure of himself, so successful.  She’d assumed everyone encouraged him, like her parents encouraged her.

When no one said anything, Paula went on.  “Tyne came to Mill Pond to get experience, so that he can open his own restaurant someday.”

Mom breathed a sigh of relief.  “So he doesn’t plan on staying here?”

Louise returned with their drinks—water with lemon for Mom and Dad, wine for Daphne.

Daphne gulped down disappointment.  Most people moved to Mill Pond and never left.  They fell in love with the area.  But Tyne wasn’t like most people.  Her heart lurched, surprising her.  She didn’t want Tyne to leave.  She realized she’d liked him from the moment they met, when he wanted to rent the apartment above her shop.  It was an instant click.  She often found herself watching for him on the nature trail that wound behind her cabin.  Not because she had a crush on him or anything.  He was just fun to be around.  He was a good person.  A friend.


Okay, I just read a blog post by James Scott Bell, and he explained very well what I’ve always felt, but in a vague–somewhat nonverbal–way.  And he made it SO clear.  Every book has to have tension, or no one would turn the pages.  It’s easy to point to the tension in a thriller or suspense novel.  The bad guy might kill someone or lots of someones if the hero doesn’t stop him.  Same for horror, only who knows who or what the villain might be.  In a mystery, a hero is trying to solve a crime and restore justice.  But what’s the tension in a romance?  Or a literary novel?

Bell says that conflict is best if there are “death stakes” for the protagonist/s.  But he divides death stakes into physical death, professional death, or psychological.  That makes so much sense!  In a romance, every time the hero and heroine can’t work things out, it builds tension.  If they can’t get together at the end of the book, they suffer psychological death–the death of happiness:

Conflict drives a story, moves it forward.   And the stakes have to keep getting higher every time the reader turns a page.  That’s why there’s the old adage:  Things can always get worse.  They have to, or your story stalls.  During the set up, the author says what the protagonist wants, and he spends the rest of the book making sure he has to work harder and harder to get it.  Here’s a good link by Samantha Stone to build conflict:

I used different types of tension in my romances than I’ll need for my cozy mystery, but I still want a romance subplot, and I want to work hard at developing characters readers will care about.  I enjoyed writing Babet and Prosper so much for urban fantasy that I’d like to do something similar for my River Bluffs novels.  I want my characters and setting to be as fully formed as the mystery.  We’ll see how that goes:)

At my writers’ group last week, one of our members tried to decide what each of us needed to do to write a bestseller.  I give him credit.  He believes in all of us, bless him.  And I think we’re all good writers, too, but I have less faith in finding the “secret” that makes a book sell.  Lots of advice says that you need to write a “big” book.  The higher the stakes, the more readers you’ll attract.  That might be true.  I don’t know.  I think the heavens have to align and there’s a lot of luck involved.  And I found this article that sort of agrees with me.

In the meantime, happy writing!


My webpage:  (a free snippet from SPICING THINGS UP–our March 21–and a free short mystery):

author Facebook page:

twitter:  @judypost







Switching genres

Remember that WAY back when I started this blog, I warned you to do what I say, NOT what I do?  Well, I should remind you of that, because I’m thinking of doing the UNsmart thing again.

It’s like this.  Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I wrote short mysteries.  I even sold some to Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen’s mystery magazines–not so easy to accomplish.  But cozy mysteries were dead in the water, so I decided to try writing urban fantasy.  It was a hot market at the time, but of course, by the time I finished mine, the market was glutted.  Which is why it’s tricky to follow trends.  But from someone who knows–because she’s learned the hard way–trying to sell a genre that editors have decided is passe’ is a hopeless task.  EVERYTHING’S stacked against you.

Which leads me to my unsmart move.  I seem to be drawn to write whatever isn’t popular at the time.  I didn’t give up on urban fantasy even when my agent said it was dead.  She let me try it as a self-published author on Amazon.  She hoped if I hit the right niche, I might get lucky, so I tried three different series.  I even tried novellas and novella bundles. And then she suggested I try to write a contemporary romance.  So I did.  But I went for smalltown romances with a cozy feel.  And guess what?  Kensington took them for their e-book line, but the market for them is limited.  Who knew?  I sure didn’t.  My editor liked them enough, though, that he asked if I’d ever be interested in writing a mystery for him.  Now, I really like writing mysteries.  BUT…the other thing I’ve learned on this journey, is that it almost always takes time for an author to build an audience, and you don’t build an audience when you keep changing genres.  BUT…I really like writing mysteries.  When I asked my agent about it, she recommended that I write what calls to me the most.  And she warned that cozy mysteries are still dead, but that my particular editor still likes them. So if I like working with him, which I do,  then I could give it a shot.

So…I’ve started work on a mystery.  And we’ll see what happens.  It’s still early on. Nothing’s nailed down yet.  BUT if you’ve paid attention, I’ve given you THREE genres you might want to avoid if you’re a new writer and want to sell to a big publisher:  urban fantasy, sweet romances, and cozy mysteries.

Since I apparently am no good at picking the right markets with appeal, I did a quick search and got this:

And from Kirkus Reviews:

Whatever you’re writing, good luck with it.  And enjoy the process!



Twitter:  @judypost


Giving Thanks

We have the turkey.  Both of my grandsons, my sisters, and cousin are coming to our house to celebrate.  It’s a pretty low-key, happy event.  We eat and yak and enjoy each other.  This year, I’m feeling a little frisky.  I’m going to chop up my pretty bird and try to make The Pioneer Woman’s turkey roulade and Michael Symon’s braised legs and thighs. My friends and family are brave souls who let me experiment on them:)

I’ve been having fun experimenting lately, and I have lots to be thankful for.  If you follow my blog, you know that I broke my left leg–and did a good job of it–on June 17th.  I couldn’t put any weight on it for three months before I graduated to a walker.  But in the last few weeks, I’ve been getting better and better with a cane.  Whoopee!  AND, I can manage stairs now, even if they don’t have a railing.  I’m moving up in the world:)  I can leave the house for restaurants and friends now, not just for therapy.  And I’ll graduate from that soon.  I’ve had the most wonderful therapists a person could have, but it will be nice to get up in the morning, stay in my PJs, and write, write, write!

I’m starting to feel better about romances now, too.  An odd thing to say, maybe, but it’s taken me a while to feel comfortable writing them.  For my first novel, COOKING UP TROUBLE, I felt like I was hanging words on a tipsy clothes line.  I liked the characters and the humor, but I was never sure if I was getting it right.  The characters made it easier for me, though.   I liked Brody so much from book one, I couldn’t wait to give him a story of his own. By the time I reached book three, I was brave enough to play with my format a little.  I’ve known quite a few smart women who have terrible taste in men. The same can be said for men–they can choose Ms. Wrong over and over again, too–but since Paula was my protagonist in book three, I focused on her.  I was worried I’d confuse the reader by having her fixated on Mr. Me, but I decided to trust that they’d realize she was going in the wrong direction and pick up on the clues her friends kept giving her–“Not him.  Look in THAT direction.” I hope it works.

For book four–which won’t come out until next spring–I made a bigger leap.  I liked Tyne so much, I wanted to hear his voice.  I wrote the first three books from a single POV, the female’s only.   But for Tyne’s book, I added the guy’s POV, too, because Tyne doesn’t have a problem expressing himself.  And I loved it, going back and forth between the two leads.  I liked it so much, I kept doing it for book five and for book six, which I’m working on now.  I don’t expect to ever get everything right in a book.  That doesn’t happen very often for any author of any book.  I can count on my fingers the books that I’ve read that I considered flawless, but I hope that I keep learning and getting better and better with time.  And this year, I feel like I’ve made a few strides I’m happy about.  So I’m thankful.

Hope you’ve had a good year, too, and happy writing!


My webpage with free short stories:

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twitter:  @judypost


Making it personal

Experts tell you to write what you know.  That always confused me.  I started out writing mystery short stories and I didn’t know much about crime.  I went to conferences and listened to panels on poisoning, fingerprints, DNA, and serial killer profiles, etc., because I wanted to get the basics right.  And I’d read lots of mysteries to know the rhythm and format.  But I finally decided that “write what you know” meant write what you emotionally know.  I’ve never killed a person, but I’ve sure been mad as hell, felt betrayed,  or wished a person out of my life–forever.  The thing is, what we live, what we feel, is what makes our writing real.

In my third romance, the protagonist’s dad dies soon after he retires from the army.  My dad didn’t get to live long enough to retire.  After a long bout with multiple myeloma–where his blood became so thick, he was hooked up to a machine that took blood out of his left arm, used centrifugal force to “clean it,” and returned it to his right arm–he finally lost the battle.  His blood got thicker faster and faster until his heart had to work too hard to pump it.  I didn’t want to do that to the characters in my book, so Paula’s dad got a quick, unexpected death, but I know that feeling of loss and the aftermath.  Paula tries to help her mom through her grief.  That, I know, too.  So do my sisters.  Paula, herself, has lost her military husband overseas, and she has two kids to raise.  My daughter’s a single mom, and even though we helped her, I know it’s no piece of cake to raise kids without a husband.

In my fifth romance (and it’s far, far in the future before it’s released), Joel–the love interest–is raising his daughter by himself, because his wife isn’t emotionally strong enough to deal with their daughter, who has cerebral palsy and will never be mentally older than twelve.  She’ll never grow up and move away.  She’ll always live with him.  Which Joel is fine with, because, lord, what a beautiful human being she is!  But she’ll always be a child–the good and the bad of that.  My cousin has cerebral palsy, and is maybe mentally eight or nine, and I remember my grandmother and my cousin’s mother worrying about what would happen to her after they died.  My sister, bless her, took her in, but I’ve met more people with those worries.  When a child won’t grow up, will never be able to make it on her own, what happens to her when you die?

In the romance I’m working on now, Karli goes to Mill Pond to deal with her grandfather, who’s mean and uncooperative, but is reaching the point where it’s not safe for him to stay in his own home without help.  I’ve been there/done that.  My John’s mom was unstable when she didn’t take her meds, and after John’s dad died, sometimes she took them, sometimes she didn’t.  Even though we checked on her every day and brought her to our house for suppers, it didn’t work. Our two small daughters got on her nerves.  She’d wake up at two a.m. and call us.  Her doctor finally told us, “Find a place for her, or she’ll be in the hospital.”  The doctor told Harriet, too, thank goodness, and then Harriet pushed for me to find a good nursing home for her.  Those decisions are almost always messy.  They’re messy for Karli in book six, too.

You don’t have to battle witches or vampires to find the right emotions for good to battle evil.  Most of us have battled something in our lives.  We know how it feels.  A writer’s life experiences and the emotions they invoke add depth to our stories.  So use what you’ve got.  Write what you know!

twitter:  @judypost




I’ve started playing with plot points for my 6th romance.  I say playing because I’m still in the “Will this work?” phase.  And that’s exactly why I like tinkering with plot points in the first place.  I’m up to thirteen of them, and the whole damn story is sagging.   I mean, there are plenty of things going on, and they feel pretty interesting, but are they bringing the protagonist and her romantic interest together?  Not unless Karli would marry the one and only man who’s ever shown any interest her.  The chemistry, so far, is zippo.  And the main reason?  Keagan is about as exciting, so far, as white bread.  I’ve done a crappy job of bringing him to life.

The nice thing about doing plot points, for me, is that they show me what DOESN’T work, where the holes are, where the story peters out.  I started with an idea that really excited me.  I had characters who caught my attention and didn’t let go.  I still like the premise and both characters, but are they dancing to life on the page?  Not so much.  And they started out great…for about four or five chapters.  And then?  There wasn’t enough tension between them to keep me from yawning.  But the good news is, my plot points made that obvious.  I can fix it in the planning stage instead of the rewrite and weep stage when I’m sick and tired of the whole thing and want it done.

Once I hit chapter twelve, I could see I needed to up the conflict, too.  An easy fix.  I added another character who, hopefully, readers will love to hate.  I’ve just met him, and I’d already like to smack him with a two-by-four, which makes him perfect:)   I could also see that I needed to add more of a feel for Mill Pond into the mix.  Another easy fix.  After all, the residents of the little resort town love interfering in other peoples’ lives.  Oops, I mean they love to help and lend a hand.  Anyway, I’m up to plot point thirteen, and I’m so happy I bothered with them, because they’re going to save me a lot of work once I start putting words on the page.

I know plot points aren’t for everyone, but I blog about what I’m up to at the moment.  And on this particular day, I’m singing the praises of planning my books out. You have to find what works for you, but a few sign posts here and there can come in handy.  Whatever you come up with, have fun and happy writing!

On Sale

I just wanted to let you know that OPPOSITES DISTRACT is only 99 cents now.  I’m not sure how long the sale will last–I know, that sounds wonky–but the dates my publisher sent me aren’t the dates the sale started, so I’m clueless.  I had a lot of fun writing Harmony because she’s a writer trying to beat a deadline.  She had plenty of character foibles that I can relate to:)   And Brody?  Well, I love men who grump, but have big, soft hearts.  I married one.

A snippet

I added a snippet from my third Mill Pond romance on my webpage.  LOVE ON TAP is available for pre-order now, and it comes out November 22nd.  I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at Paula, a chef, who’s a widowed single mom.  Hope you like her!


On Amazon: