Hooray! It comes out November 2nd!

I met a new twitter friend, and I cheered when I read that she’d found a home for her book. A mystery. You know how I love those. And then it felt like I waited FOREVER before the book was going to come out. When she asked if I’d read it and give it a blurb if I liked it, I jumped at the chance. And yes, I liked it. A lot. So I invited her to my blog to share her wonderful news. Please welcome Jennifer Bee and help her spread the word about her first published book!, Congrats, Jennifer!

Hi. I’m Jennifer Bee and I couldn’t be more excited to be a guest here on Judi Lynn’s blog since I’m a longtime fan of all of Judi’s books.  

When I signed my first publishing contract, Judi graciously agreed to read an advanced copy of my debut novel, The Killing Carol, and after doing so, invited me to share my debut with all of you. It’s an honor to be welcomed.

My favorite books have always been mysteries, figuring out whodunit, the clues, the suspense, the unexpected twists & turns. Somewhere along the way an idea for a mystery novel hit me. “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, the reason your husband had to die.” That was it. That was the idea. And that is how my debut novel The Killing Carol begins.

The Killing Carol is the story of widow, Anna Greenan, who finds the cryptic lyric shoved against her front door:

Each day of Christmas brings Anna a new stanza with a new clue. Will this mysterious Christmas carol lead Anna to uncover her husband’s murderer or will the killer find Anna first?

The Killing Carol is the first novel in a series being published by Level Best Books. I’m so excited to be able to share this journey with all of you. Excited and nervous. No one tells you when you sell your first series just how nerve-wracking becoming a professional writer can be. Think back to when you were young and your teacher asked you to read something you wrote in front of the class. No matter how great you thought that piece was, you still probably got butterflies in your stomach and heat rising to your cheeks. Now, imagine having your story go out to the whole world, not just your sixth period English class. To say that I have butterflies in my stomach is an understatement—more like pterodactyls. But when writers like Judi tell you they really liked your book, that makes it all worthwhile.

If you’re interested in reading The Killing Carol, it is available in e-book and print on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold.

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Carol-Anna-Greenan-Mystery-ebook/dp/B09H3Q2YCR/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=jennifer+bee+the+killing+carol&qid=1635532275&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-killing-carol-jennifer-bee/1140401176;jsessionid=3B9889F7143EC0707467C9A417BD246C.prodny_store01-atgap15?ean=9781685120405

Feel free to follow me and keep in touch on social media. Facebook – @authorjenniferbee, Instagram – @authorjenniferbee, Twitter – @authorjenniferb.

You can use the hashtag #JudiLynnFan so I know you have great taste. J 

Thank you for having me and wish me luck. Pterodactyls are not easy to live with.

The Killing Carol – A mystery/thriller with a satisfying romance and lots of twists and turns. The tension never lags. The song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ becomes filled with menace as Anna receives one note a day with a twisted message.” — Judi Lynn, USA Today bestselling author of The Body in the Attic.

A Snippet

I thought I’d share a short scene from POSED IN DEATH. Laurel Reagan finds her friend Maxine’s body arranged like the other victims of the Midlife Murderer. She learns that Maxine went out to supper with a freelance reporter, Nick Menas, shortly before the night she was killed. When Nick calls her and asks to interview her, she only agrees because they’re meeting in a public place and she doesn’t fit the type the Midlife Murderer always chooses. Then she learns he had an alibi for the night Maxine died, so when he volunteers to team up with her to learn more about the case, she feels safe.

On the drive home, Nick said, “This has been a nice day.  Thank you.”

“I’ve enjoyed it, too.  I needed something to cheer me up after finding Maxine.”

He grimaced.  “I don’t know which is worse, losing my wife to a random shooter or having a friend murdered by a serial killer.”

“They’re both horrible, but I can do something about Maxine.  I want to find her killer.  I won’t have closure until whoever did it is behind bars and hopefully never free again.”

He glanced sideways at her as he drove.  “You sound determined.”

“I am.  I lost my husband to a heart attack.  Stuart had always had cardiac problems, so I knew I’d lose him someday going into the marriage, but still, it felt random.  It came sooner than we expected, and there was nothing I could do to prevent it.  Maxine’s death is different, though.  It shouldn’t have happened, and if I find out who did it, I can make sure no one else has to die that way.  I’m going to do all I can to help Ralph find who killed her.”

“Ralph is on the case?”

“Not officially, and he doesn’t want me involved.  He’s warned me away.”

“But you’re still going to pursue it?”


Nick glanced at her again.  “You’re serious about this, aren’t you?”

“I doubt if I make a difference.  The cops have more resources than I do, but if I can help, I’m going to.”

His dark eyebrows dipped in a frown.  “I was a crime reporter before my wife died.  Then I needed a break from it.  It hit too close to home, but I’m getting tired of human-interest stories.  I’d love to write in-depth, serious pieces again.  Not the everyday drive-by shootings, but this case would interest me.  I could work with you.  If you want a partner, that is.”

Did she?  Could she trust this man?  She didn’t know much about him.  “You’d help me dig for information?”

“I used to be good at it.  My wife’s case was wrapped up before I even learned that she’d died.  It made me feel useless, and I hated it.  I’d be able to do something this time.  I’m going to be in town a while.  I want to write my section of the book here, then if I need more information, it will be easier to get.  But it would feel good to be able to make a difference about a death, you know?”

“I do.” She surprised herself by how much she could relate to him.  “And the truth is, I’d feel safer if someone went with me when I visited people I want to talk to.”

“Then I’m your guy.”  He gripped the steering wheel, his expression earnest.  “I pester people all the time who don’t want to talk to me.  Give me a call when you want to visit someone, and I’ll be there.”

A worry niggled.  “This isn’t just about getting a scoop on who the Midlife Murderer is, is it?”

He pressed his lips in a grim line.  “Will that be a deal breaker?  I have to admit that’s part of it.  I’m sort of using you to get a toe in the door.  I want you to know that.  But we’ll still find Maxine’s killer.  And part of this, for me, is finding closure after my wife was killed.”

That was part of what was driving her, too.  She decided to find out how serious he was.  “I’m going to make a casserole to take to Maxine’s husband tomorrow.  I think he’s a worthless human being, but I want to see what he has to say about Maxine.  Want to come?”

“You’re still okay with me tagging along?”

“Why not?  I’d like to see the Midlife Murderer behind bars, too.”

“When should I pick you up?”

…..And that’s how Laurel and Nick become a team.


I didn’t think my agent would like my latest book, and I was right. She passed on it. It’s a thriller, but it doesn’t follow the rules. It has “nice” moments in it, too. It’s not relentlessly building tension. It doesn’t fit the mold.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, I like a well-written thriller, but I like cozies more. Sneaking some cozy into a thriller muddled the mix, but it’s what I wanted to do. So I did. And I was pretty sure that was going to mean I’d have to self-publish it. And I was right.

I respect the need for rules in writing. When a reader picks up a thriller, that’s what they want to read. To sell, the writer has to deliver whatever he labeled his manuscript and make it his own AND write it as well or better than the writers who are already selling in that genre. It surprised me when an editor told me that. Until then, I thought I was competing with new writers in the field, but when I thought about it, I was competing for a space in that genre against everyone who was writing it. That’s not a bad thing. It just means that my work had to be as good as theirs without mimicking it.

For Posed In Death, I knew I wanted to write a mystery/thriller. Sometimes, in an expanding market, a writer can bend the rules and still sell. In a tight market, it’s trickier. That means editors will probably turn down your work, but that doesn’t mean that readers won’t like it. Readers are more willing to blend genres. They don’t have to stick a title in a category to market it and make it sell. Anyway, I wanted to write something darker than a cozy, and I can now share POSED IN DEATH. If you try it, I hope you like it.

How Much is too Much?

I’ve fallen in love with the Louis Kincaid mystery series, but I wasn’t as fond of the last book I read as the others. Why? Because it pushed my comfort zones, and I don’t want to read things that make me cringe these days. Maybe because I’m older. Maybe because it’s been a hard year. But I want happy endings these days, And damn, if I haven’t read more downer endings than usual.

I have a theory about downer endings. When writers are unhappy, they write unhappy endings. Understandable, but I don’t want to read them. As a reader, I’ve had enough challenges. I want the good guys to persevere, to come out ahead..

I surprised myself, though, by downloading a book that Mae Clair recommended on her weekly blog reviews, THE BAD SISTER. https://maeclair.net/2021/04/20/book-review-tuesday-the-bad-sister-by-kevin-obrien-the-dinner-guest-by-b-p-walter-domesticsuspense-psychologicalsuspense-bookreviews/ I remembered that suspense and horror are supposed to RELIEVE fears, worries, etc. And I’ve always liked dark fantasy, as long as it doesn’t gross me out. So I thought this book would be a good catharsis for any lingering worries I wasn’t dealing with. And I really enjoyed it. BUT the reason I enjoyed it is because all of the negative/icky stuff was offscreen–like Agatha Christie or EVERY cozy, except in this book, the ickies were definitely hinted at more to build tension. And there was an escalating body count throughout the entire book until the protagonists (and there was more than one this time) all met their final battle to survive.

I had a few issues with the book, but not because it pushed my boundaries. I’d guessed who the killer was but didn’t want it to be him and even had trouble accepting that it was him. And I’d guessed the twist, too, but it worked for me, so I was okay with it. I even guessed the second surprise, but I was okay with that, too So I’m glad I read it. And it made me think about the book I’m working on now, because it’s not a cozy. It’s a straight mystery that deals with a serial killer. He only chooses women in their forties who have long, beautiful hair.

But it’s been a long time since I wrote a serial killer book, and I had to remind myself that the body count in a book like that needs to be higher. The pace has to be more urgent. And I need to play mind games with the readers. Because they might still be ahead of me:)

I have 25,000 words done that I’m happy with, so for the moment, I feel good about where the book is going. I’ve written long enough that I know that might change. But I also keep reminding myself that I don’t want to push past any comfort level. There’s a line that divides suspense and thrillers from horror, and I don’t want to cross it. Two of my friends write horror, and that’s a whole different feel when you read it. You always think that the evil might win. Mysteries are all about the good guys catching the bad guys. Evil is always punished. Mysteries are about justice.

So for now, women in their forties with long, beautiful hair are prime temptations for a killer who stalks them. The why comes into play. And the good guys–Laurel and Nick–are driven to catch him. I’ve found a story that keeps challenging me to write it. I know where it’s going and what started it–for each of them–but I haven’t plotted it as rigidly as usual. I can’t remember the last time I started a book with so few plot points. I’ll be interested to see how that works . But for now, I’m happily tapping keys.

And I hope you find lots of good books to read, but none that make you cringe:) Unless you WANT to.

J.D. Robb

I’m a Libran, so I’ve been told I seek balance in my life. I’ve also been told I like harmony, but not too much of it, that I’ll play devil’s advocate if I get too bored. I don’t know that I agree with that, but I do know I crave variety, and I like balance in the types of books I read. If you look at the ones I’ve recommended on BookBub or Goodreads, you’ll notice I bounce between cozies and suspense with something new tossed in here and there. I recently finished two light cozies back to back, so now I’m in the mood for something grittier, a bit darker. And this time, I turned to J.D. Robb and JUDGMENT IN DEATH. I’m halfway through it, and it keeps surprising me.

I’m amazed that a writer of bestselling romances doesn’t shy away from harsh reality and violence when she turns to mysteries. And her Death series contains elements I don’t find often in other authors’ works. Eve Dallas is a kickass female detective…and yes, that’s been done before. She has issues with commitment and romance. Not a complete novelty. Lots of detectives and P.I.s who walk the mean streets are loners. She openly admits it and has a hard time opening herself up to Roarke, her romantic interest eventually turned husband. Their relationship; however, is anything but ordinary. She likes to do things her own way, but then, so does he. He’s rich as sin and not above bending the law. I can’t remember two people who are as openly combative, while in love, as these two. In this book, their love scene feels a lot like combat to determine dominance. But it works for them:)

The people Eve works with in her department are well drawn and interesting. Her commander is clever and shrewd. Their dialogue comes off tough and professional. They want to get the job done. The villains are ugly and nasty, the murders violent and unusual. Each cop on her team serves a purpose, is better than usual at a particular skill. I enjoy the interrogation scenes when Eve drills a criminal. They’re hard and staccato, trying to pry information out of a person who doesn’t intend to part with it. Another favorite is when she talks to Mira, the police psychologist. Mira’s insights on the villain–what drives him, what his next move might be–are fascinating. And then there’s Roarke. He loves Eve and always does his best to protect her, even when she resents his help. But he’s equally as stubborn. The pace never slows down. Or, I should say, rarely does. Occasionally, Eve’s friend Mavis appears to add a bit of humor when it’s desperately needed.

The stories take place in a not too far off future where people can travel between planets and drive air transports back and forth to their jobs. But the murders are weighted by human behavior, and that doesn’t change much over time. So solving murder takes plain, old hard work and lots of investigating. Eve faces each obstacle head-on and answers questions with sometimes brutal honesty. She’s an interesting protagonist in a complex relationship and a dangerous job. This series is the perfect counterbalance to reading too many cozies in a row. I’m enjoying it for now. Hopefully, I’ll finish the book by the end of this month–which is only two days away.

Have a nice finish to February, and then…happy March!

Mystery Musings

I just finished reading PAINT IT BLACK by PJ Parrish.  I’ve just started the series, so as usual, I’m behind everyone else.  This is the second full book, and I really liked the first one, but I loved this one.  I loved it so much, I decided to do more than a review and to write about it here.

It’s gritty, but for me, it never went too far.  It’s violent, but we hear the violent acts but don’t have to watch them.  I can only take so much these days.  When I was young, bring on the horror and gory!  Show me a new serial killer.  But those days are behind me.  Which is odd.  Because I can write about them with more ease than I can read them.  Maybe because I put myself in the killer’s mind and what he’s doing feels like what he would really do?  Not sure.  But hinting at things off screen works better for me these days.

The Louis Kincaid stories are thrillers, and this one revolves around a serial killer.  His psychology fascinated me.  And the farther I read, the more I knew that eventually, Louis Kincaid would be high on his list of victims.  That made for great tension.  To the point, (and, sorry, because this might be a spoiler that ruins some of the tension when it happens). that he kidnaps one person but doesn’t kill her because she doesn’t fit his profile.  It’s such an insight into the killer’s motives, I thought it was brilliant.

Besides the mystery and motives, I enjoyed how the characters in this book were fleshed out.  And it was all done in such an understated way with so few words and deep conversations, I was impressed.  Each character is mindful and respectful of each other’s space.  They all have past histories, and some of those histories are painful, so they tiptoe around them, never prying, never pushing too hard.  That made it so that when I learned a little about them, a peek into what happened that they avoid, it made it all the more meaningful.

The end was a fight to the finish.  Well done.  The protagonist didn’t just walk into an obvious trap, even though I do think he could have figured out who the last victim was sooner.  But that aside, the end delivered a strong, emotional impact.  It worked.  And the wrap-up wasn’t exactly what I expected but realistic, so actually better in its way.

This book had complex, private characters; a great villain; strong teamwork between the good guys; and plenty of tension for a thriller.  It’s going high on my list of favorite reads.