Today I am so pleased to welcome Nicole Kimberling to Joyfully Jay. Nicole has come to talk to us about her latest release, Mystery on the Menu. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


Stage Fright: Authors Get It Too

It’s hard to say when exactly it started. 2017? 2018? So much has happened since then I can’t really remember but what I do know is that at some point I went from wanting to tell other people stories to needing to keep them to myself.

I think at first I mistook my withdrawal from interacting with others through the medium of fiction as having achieved maturity.

“Of course I don’t have to talk about myself or my work online or in person or . . . ever. I’m focusing on building Blind Eye Books as a company and shining a light on other authors. That’s just being an adult.”

(Spoiler: it was not being adult. It was being afraid of being the person in the spotlight.)

So what caused it?

I mean . . . everything? I don’t need to explain to anyone how the sensation of going onto a social media platform can feel like walking into the coliseum. We all now feel the fear of saying the wrong thing online or accidentally liking the wrong post and triggering some kind of backlash. Every one of us understands feeling paralyzed by that particular dread.

Then one day—I think it was mid-2020—I walked by a room where my partner was working on some graphic design project. She was wearing headphones and smiling a lot so I ask what she was listening to and she told me that it was the audio version of my story, “Entrée to Murder.”

“You listen to that?” I was astonished.

“Sure,” she said, without looking up. “I listen to it a lot—makes work go faster. I love those characters. I hope you write another story about them.”

I walked away in a daze. I had forgotten—or maybe even never fully grasped—that the point, the entire point, of telling another person a story is to entertain them and help them through life. That stories are not for the storyteller but for the audience and I had, in my fear of random trolls and critical strangers, forgotten that there was an audience that was waiting to hear more.

There was at least one person sitting twelve feet away from me who wanted to know the rest of the story.

How could I have forgotten this? How could I let fear of some presumptive online adversary invalidate the honest desire of a person who I knew in real life?

Then I went online and really looked at the people liking or commenting on my posts and I realized that I’d never met many of them—I’d only seen their names a lot and recognized (rather stupidly) that these people must be readers who I’d also pretty much let down when I began then didn’t conclude the story I started in, “Entrée to Murder.”

I’m not normally a person who suffers much from guilt, but I felt bad about it. In my life I’ve taken a lot of comfort and pleasure from getting to experience other author’s worlds. I felt bad for having shied away from providing that service to other human beings. I wanted to finish. The question is how to overcome my fear and start sharing my stories with the world again.

First, I took some time to consider what I was writing stories for—and by this I don’t mean the existential reason to create. I invent new fictions to entertain myself every day. This compulsion toward narrative has never changed nor even waned.

But taking the decision to write these stories down so that other people can participate in the experience? That’s a whole different exercise. Writing is difficult and time-consuming. Going online to promote afterward is a whole other skill set from which I reflexively recoiled. I thought, “Why should I do this? Why should I open myself up to haters intentionally? Surely, there is an easier way to make money?”

Then I took a deep breath and remembered that not everyone is a hater, in fact most people are not.

I realized then that what I needed was to cultivate a sense of safety—like a psychological home base—and from that go out into the world again. So I just did that systematically. First I just stopped going onto all social media platforms or reading any reviews of any books. Then I looked for an artistic space where I could just feel comfortable enjoying human expression in an easy, low-stakes way. For me that space is music.

Other writers I’ve known have retreated into different safe zones, such as following sports, like American football or the Tour de France or else the visual arts like painting or fashion, or even cosplay. But for me music is the magical mental clubhouse where I can recharge.

Either I would be writing or listening to music and that was all I did for three months, using the songs like a kind of mantra to get me through the difficult parts of the story, or else to cheer myself on when I felt tired.

I told myself I’d just finish this one book and after that I could stop forever if I wanted. I went easy on myself in a way that I never have before. Gradually, I managed to finish the second and third part of my story and eventually Mystery on the Menu was finished.

Now, of course, I’m in that part of being a writer that gives the most scaries: promotion. I considered a lot of ways in which to talk about the book but finally decided that, at least here on Joyfully Jay, where I know a lot of writers, both established and aspirational, hang out, I’d go ahead and be honest about the stage fright thing. I thought that maybe some of you would have had a similar experience. And if you do, I hope it helps to know that you aren’t alone.

Do you have a story about stage fright to tell? Or a different solution? Talk to me about it in the comments. And, as always, remember to just take a deep breath and keep writing.


After a steady diet of big city trouble Chef Drew Allison has relocated to the tiny island town of Orca’s Slough to get a taste of the laid-back artisanal lifestyle. But when he discovers his bartender dead in his basement, he faces a far greater challenge than whipping up a spectacular lunch special.

He’s the local law enforcement officer’s Grade-A suspect.

And while Deputy “Big Mac” Mackenzie is fine eye candy as well as a regular customer, Drew isn’t convinced he’s got the brains to match his brawn—or stand up to a sheriff, who’s out to cook Drew’s goose.

Is Drew’s only choice to put mystery on his menu and serve himself as an add-on to Big Mac’s investigations?

Mystery on the Menu serves up three courses of cozy mystery in one delectable collection.

Entrée to Murder
Recipe for Trouble
Homicide and Hospitality

Between a corpse in his kitchen and a crime scene romance, Chef Drew Allison may have bitten off more than he can chew.


Nicole Kimberling is a novelist and the senior editor at Blind Eye Books. Her first novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award. Other works include the Bellingham Mystery Series, set in the Washington town where she resides with her wife of thirty years and an ongoing cooking column for Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. She is also the creator and writer of “Lauren Proves Magic is Real!” a serial fiction podcast, which explores the day-to-day case files of Special Agent Keith Curry, supernatural food inspector.


Nicole has brought an ebook copy of Mystery on the Menu to give away to three lucky readers. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Sunday, May 28th at 11:59 pm ET.

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post