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.

…I’ll Do It…My Way

I can hear Frank Sinatra as I type those words.  And I should have listened to him.  He was right.

I’ve been reading a lot of especially good advice on how to organize your book and write lately.  And some of it really sounded good to me.  So good that I decided to make up sheets for scenes in my next Jazzi novel and try to create a sort of massive storyboard.  C.S. Boyack wrote a great article on how he uses them.  And I got so excited!  I could picture in my mind how each scene would fit in a giant jigsaw puzzle of other scenes and I could move the scenes around and add scenes and who knows what else to create a brilliant flow in my book.

C.S. Boyack’s posts:  and

And the team at Story Empire have been writing great posts about how to build a Story Bible with plenty of other advice about multiple POVs, settings, and story structure:   Staci Troilo even included charts for readers to download and use.

Every single bit of advice is good.  And I love learning how other writers work.  And I tried…I really did…. to write out scene sheets and hit beginning hooks, inciting incidents, pinch points, and more.  And it all helped me think of new scenes and ideas for Jazzi 5.  Which is good.  But when push came to shove, for me to “see” the book in my head, I’m sitting at my computer, writing out plot points like I’ve always done.  Sigh.

It’s possible that I’m too set in my ways.  It’s possible you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  (And if my friend Carl reads this, no comments!)  Or it’s possible that we each find what works for us and we’re comfortable with, and we should remember that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  Even though I do like to try new things once in a while.

Way back in my beginning writing days, I tried to develop my book’s characters by using the Goal/Motivation/Conflict charts.  But it never really worked for me.  It didn’t give me enough to “see” and “hear” my characters.  Then I tried filling out an extensive questionnaire I saw online for each one.  That didn’t work for me either.  “I had so much information, it bogged me down.  That’s when I went to a workshop given by Shirley Jump and she showed us her character wheels.  Those worked for me.  They gave me enough, but not too much.  A friend tried them, and they failed her miserably.  What works for one writer doesn’t always work for another.  That’s why all a writer can do is share what she knows and what she’s stumbled on that works for her.

When a writer shares something near and dear, it’s because it’s a hard won technique or truth that she’s probably learned the hard way.  But that doesn’t mean it will work for you.  And what have I learned?  I’ve learned to listen to writers whom I respect and to consider their advice.  And to roll all that advice into something I can use by trying this and that until I find what fits.  I’ve learned to push myself once in a while to try to get better, because a comfortable groove can become a rut.  I’ve learned that I can admire other peoples’ prose and voice and style, but I have to stay true to myself.  I’ve learned that sometimes the words come easy, and sometimes the words come hard, but I do better if I plop my fanny in a chair and write every weekday that I possibly can.

So, learn as much as you can, but trust yourself and your own voice.  And happy writing!