Category: blog

Take control of your life

It isn’t often you get to change your life. I mean really decide what happens next. Too often we are just pulled along on the current of our lives, barely  keeping our heads above water, never mind planning ahead.

This afternoon we shut the door on our old house for the final time. Our home for 22 years, the house where our children grew up, I felt surprisingly little regret. It was time. The house and yard were much too large for us two empty-nesters, and I gladly turned my attention to our nice new house, less than two thirds the size of the old one with two tiny gardens and a view of the lake.

This morning we did a final dump run, and as I tossed a bin of paper file folders into recycling I realized how symbolic it was. I felt truly liberated from the intention all those folders held, writing jobs I thought I might do in the days I was struggling as a magazine writer.

Then out went a box full of wrongly-cut picture framing mats that I thought I might one day do a painting to fit. I suddenly realized that backwards thinking like that is just added (unnecessary) pressure.

I’m not a hoarder but I am thrifty. Normally I don’t throw away anything that might come in useful someday but for the last few weeks while packing I gave myself permission to do just that, and painful as it still was (old habits die hard)  a wonderful freedom came with it.

I gave myself permission to formulate my new life, not view myself through the lens of the past. For instance, I’ve been an artist/painter for 30  years and look forward to getting back into painting for fun, oils and acrylics, a couple a year, hopefully outside “en plein aire” with friends. But I don’t have to keep mountains of paraphernalia connected with the printmaking that I  did in school (graduating in 2000.) That’s not me anymore. So although I moved it all, I plan to pass it on to other artists who will really use it, as soon as I can.

All of my fabric went to Goodwill. (Gasp!) I realized I don’t make clothes from scratch any more – I just buy fabric. (LOL)

The first book in the Rocky and Bernadette series.

And gardening is looking like fun again, tending my two small courtyard gardens rather than  wrestling with an unruly half acre.

Of course there are many things I can’t change, but I realize now that I didn’t have to physically move to gain this sense of liberation. It was mostly a state of mind. I encourage you to take the time to figure out what is important and what is sucking your energy, and make a few simple changes of space and mind to free up more time for what you really enjoy. The things that feed your soul.

One thing I am not giving up is my writing. I am so glad to get back to it after the past two crazy months! And, in fact, my next book, Temple of the Jaguar, the first Rocky and Bernadette mystery, will be out in two weeks.

You can  Pre-order it now.

But more on that next time.

Be kind to yourself.

 

Love Blooms under the Fig Tree

After 22 years in this house I’m moving, and I think the thing I’ll miss the most is the fig tree.  It’s not fig season yet, the figs are still hard little nubs on the branch, but last year the figs ripened while I was in Scotland and my friends left bags of fruit for me in the freezer that the move has prompted Fig Jamme to deal with.

So I’m making jam, three batches of fig and ginger jam, to be exact, and thinking it might be my last. Possibly not the most pressing job in this crazy month, but soothing, somehow.

I’m feeling sentimental because the bower beneath the fig arbor (the tree gets so heavy with fruit that we had to build a support) was the scene of Stephanie and Max’s first kiss in The Good Neighbor. In my Fortune Bay series, Stephanie is the matriarch, and a widow, alone until Max comes along. He’s new in town and, well, they hit it off right away.

 

The fig tree scene from The Good Neighbor:

Max walked around the corner of the house into Stephanie’s back yard. The warm breeze off the lake smelled sweet as honey wine. “Steph?”

A disembodied voice floated to him on the wind. “Over here.”

He scanned the yard and noticed a tree the size and shape of an elephant, up against one of the out buildings, shivering, its big, lobed leaves quaking. He headed over and stepped under the trellis that held up the long, knotted branches. Sunlight penetrated the translucent leaves creating a cool and ethereal bower.

“The figs are in!” Stephanie’s triumphant voice emerged from inside the tree. A stepladder with two feet perched on a rung halfway up, leaned against the arbor. Long, firm legs rose from there, ending where Stephanie’s baggy green shorts disappeared into the dense leafy branches.

“Help me,” she said, her hand appearing beneath the canopy of leaves, cupping a succulent green fruit.

Max took the warm fig from her hand. He’d never seen fresh figs before. So soft you couldn’t pile them without them losing their shape, he placed it carefully into the cardboard flat at the foot of the ladder.

Splat! One fell at his feet, bursting like a water balloon.

“Sorry.” Stephanie’s voice was muffled by the layers of leaves between them. He bent over to look at the fallen fruit more closely. It had broken open on impact, revealing bright pink flesh inside that looked like a million tiny caterpillars.

“Are they supposed to look like that?”

“Well, that one is very ripe. Here, take these.”

He reached a hand up by her hip to take the next handful, fully aware he could have run his hand right up her leg and into those baggy shorts. Instead he placed the fruit on the flat, then gazed around, suddenly seeing hundreds of camouflaged green orbs, the same luminous colour as the leaves. A wasp buzzed past his ear and settled on the mashed fruit at his feet.

“Can I help?” He reached up and gingerly touched a fig sticking out from a branch. Having seen how soft they could be, he was afraid to squeeze it, but this one was as firm as a zucchini so he left it on the tree. “How do you tell if they’re ripe?”

“They hang pendulously,” Stephanie said. “And the colour changes, takes on a yellowish cast.”

Now he could see the difference. Some of the fruit stuck straight out from the branches, but others had developed a suggestive droop. Like a ripe breast. He reached out and held the weight of one in his hand and could tell without squeezing that it was ready. With the fruit in his palm, he pulled the fig towards him and it tore away leaving a shred of green skin attached to the branch. The fruit oozed a few white drops of a liquid into his hand.

This just gets more and more suggestive, he thought, a grin on his face as he bent over and set it gently with the others.

Stephanie took a step backwards down the ladder, the green shorts stretched over her round bottom coming down to eye level. Her hands were full of fruit and the ladder wobbled as she took another step. Max reached out to steady the ladder with one hand on either side as she continued to climb down, into the circle of his arms. When she turned around, she smiled.

They were in her yard, yet the bower screened them in a private world.

She met his eyes. “Let me put these down.”

He stepped back, sorry to see the moment pass, kicking himself for not taking the chance while he had her in his arms. As she bent over to the cardboard flat, her breasts swayed pendulously, brushing his arm. His eyes swelled. She wasn’t wearing a bra.

She stood up, stepped back into his space and met his gaze. Was that a smile on her full luscious lips? His arms reached out and there, in the green glow under the arbour, pulled her into an embrace. A forbidden, Garden of Eden embrace.

Their lips touched gently, exploring, and her hands came up to his shoulders. He deepened the kiss and her lips softened in response. His hands dropped to her waist, brushing the sides of her free-hanging breasts. Not grabbing, not even really touching, just feeling the weight.

Pendulous.

And she laughed, rich and deep. She’s ripe too, he thought, his head reeling with the suggestion.

Then she stepped back and bent to pick up the flat of fruit and, as they emerged into the sunlight, the moment became like a scent left in the bower. But he would remember the feel of her, and the taste, and promised himself he’d taste it again.

“A drink?” she asked. “It must be that time.”

He followed her back to the house and when they were sitting in the screen porch, drinks in their hands, she said, “That was great, but—aren’t you married?”

“Sort of.” How could he explain the woman who called herself his wife? He was unable to put the cold years into words, too shy to admit that this was what he wanted.

She looked at him directly, obviously amused by his reply. “I can’t have an affair with a sort-of-married man.”

“I know,” he said.

And they finished their drinks in companionable silence as the blue of evening fell around them.

* * * * *

 

In some ways Stephanie, a painter, is my alter ego, so I’m sure she makes jam Fig and Ginger Jam. For those of you lucky enough to have access to figs, here’s our recipe.

And although I’ve never been kissed beneath the fig tree, it is a magical place and I will miss it. But as luck would have it, I’d rooted a baby fig that I will take with me and maybe in a few years, when my supply of jam runs out, this tree will be big enough to start giving me figs.

Introducing Rocky and Bernadette!

I’m giving free Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of my new book, Temple of the Jaguar, to my readers.

It’s  Rocky and Bernadette’s first international adventure. A little bit funny, maybe even some romance, these  amateur sleuth/ travel mysteries are more  “cozy” than “true crime.”

Temple of the Jaguar, is on Kindle Scout right now and I could really use your help to get the series off to a good start.

(If you are not familiar with Kindle Scout, readers help Kindle Press find new work to publish by nominating work on their website. If your nomination is chosen for publication, you receive a free ARC from Kindle Scout.)

Competition is tough, so I’m requesting your help. Please

  • go to Kindle Scout

  • read my entry, the first three chapters of Temple of the Jaguar, by J.M. Hudson,

  • then nominate the book to help keep me on the HOT & TRENDING list, which could lead to a Kindle Press contract! (I keep slipping on and off the list.)

I’ll send the first 100 people who nominate the book an ARC right now, because I’m publishing Temple of the Jaguar this spring, with or without Kindle Press.

When you’re finished, just send me an email to let me know at

Judy@JudithHudsonAuthor.com

Click here to find out more about the book

I’ll be posting regularly about the story here on my website.
So go to Kindle Scout right now, and get your free ARC

Thanks for your help! Looking forward to hearing from you.

Judy Hudson

PS – Don’t worry, I”m not abandoning the Fortune Bay community. I have an idea for a story for Star that I’ll hopefully have finished by next fall, but it will really depend on how our house and business move goes next month.

A new Fortune Bay book at a special price

at

AMAZON     KOBO      NOOK    APPLE/ITUNES   

OTHER INTERNATIONAL BOOKSELLERS

The next Fortune Bay book, Starting Over, is ready for pre-order at all the regular online stores, for a first-day-only price of $1.99!

This is to give my regular readers a chance to pre-order the book for this special one-day-only price before bounces back to the regular price of $3.99 USD the following day.

Pre-ordering will ensure that you don’t miss out on this Launch Day sale.

If you’ve never pre-ordered a book before, don’t worry, it’s a piece of cake. Just follow the links to your regular online site and order the e-book like you normally would. Your e-book copy of Starting Over will automatically be delivered to your e-reader on the day of it’s release, January 30, 2018 for half the regular price.

AMAZON     KOBO      NOOK    APPLE/ITUNES   

OTHER INTERNATIONAL BOOKSELLERS

Here’s the back cover blurb:     

Lily’s not the only one starting over…­­­

Lily Brewster has been caring for ‘strays’ all her life. The more battered the baby bird or helpless the new kid in class, the more she wants to help. Now, her dream of a family in tatters, Lily leaves Seattle, seeking refuge a cabin in the woods on Majestic Lake. Here, she pulls herself together, helping her father at the new Fortune Bay Resort, taking on any job that needs doing—including looking after a “Mr. Morris”, the mystery guest in Cottage Four.

Marshall Mason, charismatic country rock star, is hiding from the press in Cottage Four while he heals from a motorcycle accident that has left him severely scarred, outside and in. As Marshall contemplates the end of his music career and the loss of his family, he spins deeper into depression, until one day, a woman knocks on his cottage door.

By the time Lily puts two and two together and figures out who the mystery man in Cottage Four really is, she and the reclusive ‘Mr. Morris’ are linked together in ways neither saw coming.  

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to find your way back into the sun. Join Lily and Marshall, starting over.

Thanks for reading the Fortune Bay books. I hope you enjoy Lily and Marshall’s story!

Make your own Christmas traditions

One of the things I loved about being a young couple starting out with a new family was making our own Christmas traditions, but as the years go by some of those traditions have started to grow a bit stale and I’ve decided not to feel guilty about changing them up.

Yesterday I made my annual pilgrimage to the Nanaimo ferry terminal to pick up my daughter and her friend who were arriving from Vancouver for Christmas. Unlike last year’s snowy Christmas (Have a Ferry Merry Christmas) it was a bright, crisp, sunny day. Like the scenes of people greeting loved ones at the airport at Christmas at the beginning and end of Love, Actually, the happiness of families and friends greeting each other as they roll out the terminal door is tangible in the air and never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

This year we are happy to have someone new in our midst–a friend who otherwise would be alone for the holiday this year. And tonight my Cuban American daughter-in-law, 3000 miles away across America from her family in Miami, is making a traditional Cuban Christmas Eve dinner for us all of pork (we don’t have a whole pig, but we do have the sour orange marinade flown in from Miami), rice and beans, plantain and flan. We’ll still have a turkey tomorrow, but we love this new addition to our Christmas traditions. So delicious, and change keeps the holidays fresh.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing the Fortune Bay books, whether it be old friends or new, husbands, lovers, children or extended family –your real family is made up of the ones you love.

I know Christmas is not all mistletoe and holly–in fact I’m making that a tag line for Louise’s Christmas book–so if you find yourself alone (or are looking for a little alone time in this busy season) feel free to join the big, messy, loving family in Fortune Bay and leave the real world behind, just for a while.

(Home for Christmas is half price until the end of the year at all the major online retailers. just click on the cover in the sidebar.)

So I encourage you to make your Christmas into the holiday you want. Whether you spend it with family, friends, or alone with a glass of eggnog and a good book, I hope your holiday season is a joyous time.