We are joined this month by mystery/thriller author Jennifer Bee whose Christmas-themed thriller, The Killing Carol, was released by Level Best Books in November. Learn more about Jennifer and follow along with my own publishing journey in this edition.
If you read and enjoyedA DEAD MAN'S EYES,please consider clicking on a rating or leaving a review on your favorite website, such as Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Book Bub. Reviews are important to newbies like me, who are also published by small presses. We greatly appreciate them.
If you haven't read the novel, you can order A DEAD MAN'S EYES through any of these links or from your favorite book store.
Book two in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series arrives in bookstores in April of 2022! For a description of NEVER BROKEN and my other upcoming novels, click here.
Holiday Giveaway Winners
Congratulations to Belinda Amerman and Lisa Sterlace, winners of $10 Amazon gift cards in the holiday newsletter giveaway!
Meet Jennifer Bee
Jennifer Bee resides near the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband and two children. Prior to becoming a full-time author, Jennifer owned an advertising agency and wrote television and radio commercials. She is the author of The Killing Carol, the first book in the Anna Greenan Mystery Series, published by Level Best Books. To learn more and stay in touch, please follow Jennifer on social media:
"On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me the reason your husband had to die."
Greenan 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 these notes lead to her demise?
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your writing journey? When did you begin to write fiction and how did you get to where you are now?
Jennifer: My background is in advertising so, in a way, I have always been a fiction writer. 😊 I started writing as a young adult but didn’t get serious about it until I had children. I got tired of cringing when I watched movies with my teenagers. There had to be better content—thrilling stories without all those things that make a mother blush. The more I looked for that type of story, the harder it was to find, so I started writing.
Q: Who or what was your inspiration for Anna Greenan, the main character in The Killing Carol? What is she like?
Jennifer: For me, the plot came before characters. One sentence popped into my head and that was how this book began. “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, the reason your husband had to die.” That sentence was my inspiration for The Killing Carol. It took me rewriting the novel many times in order to finally figure out who Anna was. She’s strong and smart and having a tough time letting go of the life she thought she would have. Being a widow in your thirties will do that to a girl. She has a sense of humor and a strong moral compass.
Q: Do you have a favorite scene in the novel? If so, can you tell us about it without revealing to much?
Jennifer: YES! YES! YES! There’s a scene about 40 pages in. Anna dreams of a little girl, not more than eight or nine. The moment I wrote that scene I knew I’d done it. I knew without a doubt, this novel would be published. Every single person who has read that scene has had a similar reaction: “I have goosebumps.” Or just “Oh my goodness.” I think it is the only chapter in the book I never had to edit. Here’s the eerie part… when I wrote it, I had no idea how it fit into the story. It came out of nowhere and stole my story.
Q: Were there challenges in transitioning from writing commercials to writing in the mystery/thriller genre? If so, how did you overcome them?
Jennifer: Writing television commercials may be the greatest training for mystery/thriller writing or even writing in general. I always tell people it is a lot easier to get a reader to turn a page than it is to get a consumer off the sofa and into a store. If I can write the latter, I surely can accomplish the former. My struggle is commercials are only 30 seconds. You must convey a lot of information in a short period of time. That came through in my writing. I didn’t want to waste time on extraneous details, but it is those details that allow the reader to really get drawn into the story. I had to really tamper down my mile-a-minute style to give readers a quality experience. I still write fast-paced. I cannot help that, but not at the expense of the story.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jennifer: I hate answering questions like this because there are so many great writers. Hands down, my favorite writer is James Patterson. There’s a reason he is one of the best-selling authors of all time. I tried my best to model his pacing and use of tension. His Masterclass on writing is fabulous and I recommend it to all writers.
Q: What are you working on now?
Jennifer: I’m hard at work on the second book in the Anna Greenan series. I haven’t decided if I am going to weave in a Christmas theme again. I’ve found the holidays to be a delightful backdrop for murder.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Jennifer: The best thing every writer can do is to get into a solid critique group. You must have a group of people who can tell you what works and what doesn’t, even if they can’t always articulate why. The more diverse the backgrounds of the group, the better. Some of my best critiques came from romance and fantasy writers. They caught things the mystery writers missed. It made my entire manuscript stronger and more appealing to a broader base of readers. If I could go back and start over, I would have gotten a lot more involved in Bookbub and Goodreads sooner. I read all the time. I wish I spent more time connecting to other readers before I became a writer.
This is where you will find me virtually and in person!
(For the always-updated website version, click here.)
Note: I am taking a short break from events for
at least the month of January to focus on the holidays, writing and other family
events. I will add more events as they are scheduled.
Dec. 10, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2692 Madison Rd, Cincinnati, OH, 7 p.m.
Book discussion. This event is a homecoming for me. I wrote A DEAD
MAN’S EYES while living in Cincinnati, where our two youngest were born.
I used to take the twins to this totally awesome independent bookstore
while the older kids were in school. I am so excited to return as an
Dec. 12, Werner Books, 3514 Liberty Street, Liberty Plaza, Erie, PA, Noon to 2 p.m. Book signing. I am so excited to meet readers and sign books in Erie, where I have made lots of great friends through Pennwriters. If you live in the area, please come by and say hello. Books make awesome Christmas gifts!
April 12, launch of NEVER BROKEN, book 2 in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series. Events to be announced.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas inside and outside the Foster Homestead in North Central Pennsylvania. On the left is the view from the front porch after our first real snowfall of the season. On the right, Marco stands guard over the first two gifts of Christmas (though he would quickly and easily give them up for a biscuit or a snuggle). I hope your home is filled with love and cheer whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another holiday this time of year.
What's up with my books?
The cover for NEVER BROKEN is done and ARCs are ready! I am excited and nervous to send them out to reviewers and other authors for their feedback. ARCs (advance reader copies) are unedited versions of the book that authors and publishers distribute to people of influence in the book world in hopes of creating a bit of buzz about our books ahead of release day. The big day is April 12th for NEVER BROKEN. The plot of NEVER BROKEN revolves around modern day slavery. I hope to use many of my promotional opportunities to raise awareness of modern day slavery. Slavery is more prevalent now than in any other time of our history. Once you open your eyes to it, it is impossible to close them.
I will reveal the cover of NEVER BROKEN when pre-orders become available, probably in late February or early March. I love it and I can't wait to share it!
I seriously need to get back to book three in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series, NO TIME TO BREATHE, as soon as the holidays end. During a workshop at New England Crime Bake in Boston in November, I had sort of a breakthrough regarding the novel. I realized why I am struggling a bit and what I need to do in order to finish. I am soooo eager to get back to it! I wish I had more time to write at the moment, but family comes first and they need me right now. No worries. I don't have far to go and my head is spinning with words, images, scenes, emotions--everything!
What's up at home?
It's been a challenging month at home. My mother-in-law is 93 years old and growing weaker by the day. She needs more love and attention from all of us and from trained caregivers as well. One of our children also had a health scare just before Thanksgiving that kept us on edge and had us running around for doctor appointments and tests. All is well now, thankfully, but that is one kind of suspense I can do without!
Still, nothing can dampen that holiday spirit! We cut down a tree at a local farm the day after Thanksgiving and decorated it that Sunday while all four kids were home. The older kids are now taking final exams for college and are excited for winter break. (FASFAs! That's what we keep forgetting!) The twins are enjoying indoor track, thanks to a neighboring school district that welcomed them on its team. My husband will have to give up his tree house three days a week after the New Year for the actual office, so he is enjoying his last few weeks in the woods. We are grateful that he will continue to work from home two days a week.
The holidays can be a tough time for the people I work with in my other job as a moderator for online communities that support people with chronic illnesses. Keep in mind as you celebrate that some friends and relatives might suffer from illnesses that force them to decline invitations due to pain or weakness that you can't see. Please keep inviting them! They might have to decline nine times out of ten, but they will be so grateful when they are able to join you that tenth time. They will be even happier if you can make accommodations to include them, perhaps by offering a ride or suggesting an event that doesn't involve much walking or that lasts only an hour or two. Don't be afraid to ask what will work best for them and don't be surprised if they seem shocked because no one has asked before.
Most important, enjoy the holidays however you celebrate and remember that books make great gifts! Happy holidays and happy New Year!
Happy writing and reading. Only five more months until the release of NEVER BROKEN!