Living off the grid.

I wrote a blog post about my book club for the Gems blog this week, and it got me thinking about our latest book, Kristan Hannah’s The Great Alone, set in off-the-grid Alaska in the 1970’s. As I read it, it brought back memories of the years I spent living in a log cabin in small town, Northern Ontario.

Our log house, Eganville, Ontario

This picture was taken right after we took the Insulbrick off the cabin. It was an asphalt, roofing-like covering made to look like brick that people covered old buildings with at one point in time, trying to make them look “modern”.

We were delighted to find these beautiful logs underneath in perfect condition!

But I met my elderly neighbor up at the mailboxes one day and she observed, “You’ve taken the Insulbrick off. I remember when they moved the house down here near the road from that hill over there. Then they put the Insulbrick on. Now you’re taking it off.”

No, “it looks great”. Her comments put a lot of things in perspective for me!

We had electricity, but we heated our log cabin with a wood stove and while we did have running water, it was in the form of a hand pump at the kitchen sink. My enterprising husband hooked up an almost complete plumbing system and, in the end, we had hot water in the kitchen, a bathroom sink and a shower—but no toilet. We put an outhouse in the corner of the woodshed that was attached to the back of the house, and that was considered luxurious by some of our neighbors, that we didn’t have to go out in the snow. Some of our friends had no electricity, no plumbing, carried water in from an old well, and skied in half a mile from the dirt road in the winter.

Once, before we moved up to Renfrew County, my husband, who was not my husband yet, and I decided to visit our friends. There was no cell phone then, so we took a chance and showed up at their log house late one Friday night. They were so-o-o happy to see us. Cabin fever had set in.

“We’ve made an Italian restaurant,” they said. They had thrown a red checked table cloth over a giant spool for electrical cable, made fabulous sauce from their home-grown, canned tomatoes, and we ate and drank wine late into the night by the light of an old oil lamp.

Hannah’s book deals with darker subjects of PTSD and domestic abuse, but she does a great job of explaining the lure, and the pain, of living in the north. There’s something very freeing about living off the grid, but we did find a darkness descended in the winter, both literally and emotionally. Many of our friends separated, families broke up and, at one point, we almost did too.

I guess, in spite of my Finnish blood, I’m not built of sturdy enough stock to tough it out. The last straw came one winter day when my husband and I both had bad colds and high fevers, and had to go out to shovel the snow off the woodshed roof so it wouldn’t cave in.

When we came inside to warm up, my husband said, “Let’s go visit Mike on Vancouver Island.”

Reaching Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park, 1980.

So we did. And the rest is history.

Don’t forget – The Good Neighbor is on sale until the end of May, everywhere online that ebooks are sold.

Meet the women of Romance Gems.

Come on over to Romance Gems for a month of contests and prizes!

I’m thrilled to have joined Romance Gems, recently expanded to include 23 romance authors in a variety of sub-genres.

We are launching our new website February 1st, 2019. There will be contests and giveaways all month long, including a grand prize of a Kindle Fire.

Come on over and meet the women of Romance Gems.

We’ll each be blogging one day this month – and every month, so come often. You might discover some new romance gems.

Judy Hudson

Uncharted waters – Kindle Unlimited

I just wanted to let everyone know about something new I’ll be trying in August – I’m putting my Fortune Bay ebooks into Kindle Unlimited for a few months. That’s right, they’ll all be free through the Kindle Unlimited lending library, as well as for sale on Amazon. The catch? The ebooks will not be for sale on other online platforms.  (Sorry kobo, nook and apple readers! But read on for how to access this platform and KU with out a kindle ereader.)
What is KU?
It’s a package where for $9.99 a month you can download and read as many books from the Kindle Unlimited library as you want. You may have noticed the $0.00 prices on many, many books on Amazon. Well, by joining Kindle Unlimited you can take advantage of those offers.  

Don’t have a kindle ereader? Don’t panic!

Reading Starting Over on a phone

You can download a free kindle app (circled in the picture above) for your phone or tablet (or computer for that matter) and read the books there. To get set up, go to your apps store on the device of your choice and find the free Kindle app. Or click on the link like the one I’ve circled on the example above. (Of course, my ebooks and print books will still be for sale on Amazon if you decide not to join KU.)

I am doing the reverse myself – reading my kobo books on my phone and tablet these days. It works great.

Americans can find KU on amazon.com, and customers in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, China, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Australia can sign-up for Kindle Unlimited in their local Amazon marketplace. Amazon is planning to continue expanding the service to other countries soon.

Already have a kindle?

Then do as I’ve done and install an app on your phone, too. That way you can Sync with your ereader and pick up the story any time you have a few minutes to fill – in line at the bank, waiting for kids after sports, wherever you are.
And, of course, if you have already subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, you will be able to read the whole Fortune Bay series for free! (Except Lake of Dreams, the book I save exclusively for members of my readers group.)
If you want to read the Fortune Bay books on other platforms, you can get them now  by clicking on the links below.

Summer of Fortune

The Good Neighbor

Home for Christmas

Family Matters

Starting Over

Starlight and Tinsel

I’m excited about this. I hope you are too!

Children’s Delight – new and old

cookies
Peanut butter and chocolate – what could be better?

A story is woven from the threads of a writer’s life.

The recipe for Children’s Delight cookies has been in my recipe binder forever. Just looking at the old card, written in my mother’s scrawl, brings back a rush of memories.  The recipe card is stained and had comments written in after the fact (more butter!).  And up in the corner, in brackets it says “Raylene Ewing”

Raylene was my good friend in Toronto when I was in grades seven and eight.  Just seeing her name is an emotional blast from the past.

I didn’t plan to put the recipe in Summer of Fortune, but suddenly, there it was.

On the top shelf rested a wooden box.  Stretching to her full height Maddie carefully brought it down, wiping the dust from the top.  She held it in one hand, studying the scenes of the lake carved into the lid.  Inside, yellowing recipe cards were written in a spidery hand: Sunday Blackberry Cake, October Relish, Children’s Delight Cookies.

An old fashioned drop cookie, they make the kitchen Original Children's Delight Cookie recipesmell like cinnamon and cloves, an aroma that, in the story, comes to introduce the presence of Aunt Augusta the previous owner of the cabin who is, ahem, no longer with us.

The recipe also provides an introduction to Maddie’s backstory.

Maddie didn’t have any hand-me-down recipes.  Most of hers came from magazines.  These recipe names conjured up visions of a woman in an apron with streaks of flour on her face, like a character in an old movie.  Her own mother had never cooked and Maddie was sure she didn’t own an apron.  She had spent most of her time on the couch, watching her soaps with a beer in her hand.  

Maddie inhaled deeply the unfamiliar scent of cinnamon and cloves that lingered in the box, and then, closing the lid, she placed the box on the windowsill over the sink where she could admire the carving.

Maddie ended up making the cookies, again and again, a sensory lure her handsome landlord couldn’t resist and a symbol of her move to another kind of life.

Here’s the recipe.  Enjoy!  (Are you out there Raylene?)

Judy sig

Stories about Friendship, Family and Happily-ever-after

I don’t think valentine’s day should be limited to romantic love. I’d like it to celebrate all types of love between all types of people.


The Inuit have 50 words for snow. Surely we should have more than one word for love.

Happy Valentines Day.