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Excerpt from Temple of the Jaguar

It’s launch day for Temple of the Jaguar, the first Rocky and Bernadette international mystery, so I’ll be celebrating with a shot of tequila!

If you’ve read the book you’ll know why. Bernadette is not much of a drinker, but being implicated in a murder makes her ready to try something stronger than her normal white wine! (Read on for an excerpt.)

I haven’t jumped through as many publishing hoops as usual with this book since I’ve been moving house and workshops, so if you have a minute, you could really help me out.

Here are 4 quick  things you could do to help me celebrate the launch of this book.

1/ If you’ve read an ARC (advanced reader copy), or when you do read the book, please leave a review, no matter how short, on the online platform where you usually shop for books. It would be a tremendous boost for me, and I love hearing your feedback!

(It’s up on  Amazon, or Kobo right now – nook and apple/itunes coming soon.)

2/ I’ve posted a notice on my facebook author page about the book. If you could share it to your profile and to any other groups you belong to, that would be a big help!

3/ Add a few words about the book to my new facebook reading group for mystery and romance where, in the coming weeks, I’ll be inviting other authors and readers to post about their favourites too.

4/ Tell your friends. Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising.


Excerpt from Temple of the Jaguar

The lobby was empty. Rocky was nowhere to be seen. Neither were any of the other tour members, so Bernadette walked through the empty dining room and out to the terrace bar.

The light had faded to an eerie twilight. A menacing purple cloud blanketed the sky. The sharp scent of ozone hung in the air.

Salvador was behind the bar. The day had been interminable. It had to be cocktail hour by now, and whether it was or not, she was ready for a drink.

She climbed up onto a stool. “Hit me Sal. Make it tequila.”

He frowned in concern. “That bad?”

She sighed. “That bad.”

He poured the pale liquor into a tall narrow shot glass and set the glass on the counter in front of her. She eyed the golden liquid warily, then picked up the shot glass and took a sip. A shudder ripped through her. Her eyes watered and she squeezed them shut as the liquor burned its way down her throat.

“You don’t like it?”

She shook her head and pushed the glass to the side. “Too harsh.”

Rocky slid into the seat beside her. “For me? Thanks, I could use it.”

“Go for it.”

Salvador smiled at her as he got Rocky a beer. “We have ways with tequila, you know.”

“What do you mean?”

“We infuse it with many interesting flavors, to smooth the taste. Fresa, coco, chilé.”

Rocky’s eyebrows perked up. “Chilé?”

Salvador grinned. “Maybe chilé for you, Señor, but I have other flavors for the lady.”

He put three tequila glasses on the counter and into each one poured a spoonful of liquid, each a different color, from a row of bottles that sat on a shelf against the back wall of the bar.

The first was translucent rose. Salvador pushed it toward Bernadette.

“Fresa,” he said, looking to Rocky for help.


She picked up the glass, tired of being a wimp in front of these two, and brought the slim jigger to her mouth. She wet her lips with the rosy liquid. It wasn’t sweet, but a strong undercurrent of strawberries cut the harshness of the liquor.

“I like it,” she said and drank it all, licking her lips as she put down the empty glass.

“Then try this one,” he said, pushing the second glass toward her.

Reaching more eagerly for it this time, she asked. “What is it?”


“Cinnamon,” Rocky supplied, smiling as he sipped from his own glass.

She took a bigger first sip this time, but found the dusky, slightly acidic flavor not as pleasant as the strawberry. She winced and shook her head.

Salvador smiled. “You’ll like this one I am sure.” Brown beans swirled on the bottom of the third bottle as he poured. “Café.”

She reached eagerly for the glass and tossed back the tiny shot. She smiled as the perfect, smooth coffee notes caressed her taste buds. “That’s the one. Hit me Sal.”

He filled her glass and she settled back, feeling mellower already as the heat of the tequila spread through her veins.

“So how did it go?” she asked Rocky. Okay, so she wanted to have the same story after all.

* * * * * * *

Now available in print and ebook at Amazon,

or as an ebook at Kobo




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.


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

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.

Launching Starting Over

Starting Over is now available

in print at Amazon   and   Barnes and Noble

as an ebook at

Amazon     Kobo    nook    apple/iTunes

and these international online stores

It’s a new Fortune Bay book, but the thematic thread hasn’t changed since Colleen moved into the cabin in Lake of Dreams.

The one constant in life is change. Change can be frightening, that feeling of instability, the world shifting under your feet. But as an old friend once said to me, a change is as good as a rest.

I’ve always took that to mean that change can be energizing, depending on how you greet it. Sometimes it’s not that easy, and there is often a grieving process that follows a life disruption, and it’s important to let ourselves feel the pain. But it’s also important not to wallow.

Easy to say, often harder to do.

But with the help of friends and family you can get through anything. I really believe it.

In Starting Over, Lily and Marshall are there for each other at two very difficult times of their lives.

Click here to read the first two chapters of Starting Over.


Thank you for reading Fortune bay Books.

Judy Hudson