Tag: Fortune Bay

Home for Christmas – read an excerpt.

Read an excerpt:

Here’s the traditional, Fortune Bay girl’s night solstice scene from Home for Christmas.

[Louise] pulled the quilt up over her chin. She’d be happy to stay right here until winter was over, curled up on the couch in front of the fire with her cat on her chest. Not talking to anyone. Not having to see Blue ever again.

Or she could go away. Far, far away. That would work too. Except she wanted to stay. Have her baby here in Fortune Bay, be there for her family and let them be there for her. But not if she had to worry about running into Blue at every turn.

So, in other words, she was screwed.

Darkness had fallen when she heard a knock. She groaned and rolled over, turning her back to the door. It opened anyway.

What was wrong with these people? Couldn’t they see she wanted to be alone?


It was Frankie. “Go away.”

“I can’t. I’ve come to get you.”

“Get me for what? I’m not going anywhere.”

“It’s our winter solstice night at Maddie’s. We already put it off last night because you wouldn’t answer your phone. Don’t worry, it’ll just be the three of us. And Colleen. Whatever is bothering you, we’ll talk it out.”

Then Frankie materialized beside the couch and was tugging off the blanket. As she pulled Louise to her feet, a disgruntled Brawny rolled off the couch, protesting with his squeaky-gate meow.

“Hi, boy,” Frankie said, and gave him a pat as, tail in the air, he headed for his soft spot behind the woodstove.

“There’s nothing to talk about. Leave me alone.”

“There’s always something to talk about. Come on. Maddie’s waiting. Colleen’s already there. Candles are burning. Chop, chop.”

“Chop, chop?”

But Louise allowed herself to be towed to the door because if nothing else, Maddie would have food.

She pulled on some outdoor clothes, grabbed the last box of now-stale, chocolate cookies and stumbled outside.

The full moon reflected on the lake, highlighting the waves in silver. The air was cold. Very cold. She shivered and pulled her collar up around her neck. An iconic winter solstice night.

Frankie prodded her from behind. “Let’s get moving.”

They walked through the trees, along the shore and a minute later came out into the field where Maddie and Jake had built their house. A soft light glowed in the kitchen windows, but other than that, the house was dark.

This reminds me of Louise’s childhood home in Home for Christmas.

Following the path across the field in the moonlight, Louise’s boots crackled the frozen grasses that lined the way. An expanse of stars scattered across the sky over the lake, disappearing into infinity. They made her problems seem very small. Small, but still painful. He didn’t even want to be her friend.

Rex hobbled out to meet them.

“Hi, boy,” she said, scratching his ears.

Maddie met them at the door in a long black gown, her red hair pulled up in a loose knot on top of her head.

“Good. You found her. You can’t just disappear like that. We worry about you.”

The winter solstice marked the darkest day of the year, the turning point to increasing light, and they always celebrated by candlelight. In the dimly lit kitchen, candles burned on every flat surface, the dancing lights reflecting in the dark windowpanes. Maddie finished lighting the candles grouped on the table with a long white taper.

Frankie took a seat. As usual for their quarterly gatherings, over her jeans she wore the blue silk robe Stephanie had batiked for her.

Colleen swung into the room, calf length skirts swirling over high boots, a large silver moon-shaped pendent hanging around her neck. “There you are. Good job, Frankie.”

Louise collapsed onto a kitchen chair. She picked at the frayed cuff of her oldest sweater, wishing she’d taken the time to change. She’d been wearing the same clothes since her final showdown with Blue.

Colleen pulled out a chair and sat, too. “Thanks for inviting me. I’ve always wondered what you do on these nights.”

“We’re pretty informal,” Frankie said, taking the tarot cards out of their embroidered velvet bag and starting to shuffle the oversized deck. “It’s a time to regroup, hash over the past three months, set a few goals for the coming season. The tarot is just a jumping off point. It raises questions to think and talk about.”

“It’s mostly been an excuse for a woman’s night with wine and chocolate,” Maddie said, wincing slightly. “And seriously, it’s okay if you two want to open a bottle of wine. Just because Louise and I can’t drink is no reason for you to abstain.”

“I’m good,” Frankie said. “There are enough goodies. I brought whipped cream for the hot mocha drinks.”

Colleen nodded in agreement. “We don’t need wine. And I have to drive later.”

Louise watched Frankie slowly shuffle the cards, and gradually felt herself relax. When Frankie had first bought the deck, Louise hadn’t been a believer. But when Frankie said she’d read the cards in college, she made it sound like a fun activity for their solstice and equinox parties, so Louise had gone along.

She had never wanted to delve too deeply into her psyche, or jim-jam, or whatever it was the cards tapped into, but she’d seen how spot-on the readings had been for her friends and tonight, for the first time, she was eager to hear what the cards had to say to her.

No one could make her decisions for her, she’d take the reading with a grain of salt, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t use some guidance right about now.

The hair on her arms stood on end. “I’ll go first.”

Frankie raised her eyebrows, but otherwise didn’t comment, just continued to shuffle the deck.

Louise concentrated on the soothing motion of Frankie’s hands. Gradually her heartbeat slowed.

Then Frankie put the brightly colored deck on the table in front of Louise. “Think of a question, then cut the cards. The tarot knows the question in your heart.”

What exactly was her question? She’d had so many in the past few weeks, but had resolved most of them one way or another. To the question of if she should have this baby, the answer was a definite yes. And she had decided to stay in Fortune Bay, which was actually quite a relief. And soon she would talk to Max and, hopefully, could work at the resort.

So, the only question that remained was, could she win back Blue’s friendship, or had she lost him forever?

“Ready?” Frankie asked.

Louise nodded.

“Okay, we’ll do a five-card spread.” Frankie set the deck on the table in front of Louise. “Pick five cards, one at a time, and place them face down on the table.

“In the center, a card that represents Your Present. The second card, on the left, is Your Past. The next card, on the right, is Your Immediate Future.”

Louise chose the cards, one by one, placing them where Frankie indicated.

“Lay the fourth card above. It’s The Impediment. And the last card, on the bottom, is The Possible Outcome.”

Although Louise had done this before, she’d never felt this shaky. Of course, previously she’d never had so much at stake.

As Frankie turned over the center card, she said, “The Present.”

It was The Tower, a picture of lightning striking a tower on a mountain top, setting it on fire and flinging people head first out the windows.

Louise laughed out loud. “Well, I asked for it. That’s exactly what my life feels like right now.”

Frankie smiled. “The tower signifies upheaval and change. Everything you thought you knew before is suddenly up for grabs. It signifies a major change of perspective—and sometimes a change in your situation. But even if it seems bad at the time, the outcome is ultimately for the best. That’s not to say it won’t be difficult, though. Hard to wrap your head around.”

Louise nodded. “You can say that again.”

Frankie turned over the card on the left. “The Past.”

It was the Three of Swords. On the card, rain pelted down from black storm clouds overhead onto three swords piercing a blood red heart. The black fog and the miscarriage. Could it get any clearer than that?

All three women stared at the card in silence. Finally, Louise said, “My past.” She nodded grimly. “There were a few rough years.”

She tried to spark a smile, but didn’t feel too successful. She shrugged. “We all have our baggage.”

“Right. And that’s the past,” Frankie said firmly. “Moving on to the Immediate Future card which is—the Hanged Man.”

“Oh come on!” Louise objected, huffing a laugh as she studied the young man on the card, hanging upside down from a post, bound by a rope around his foot.

“No, it’s good,” Frankie insisted. “He’s alive—and smiling—just seeing things from a different perspective.”

Louise laughed. “You’re not kidding.”

Frankie nodded. “It’s all about changing old patterns and letting go. Something we all have to learn. And it’s a good omen in this position, right before The Impediment card.”

She turned over the card at the top of the spread and Louise was pleased to see a woman dressed in white patting a friendly male lion. She twisted her head to read the upside-down card. “Strength. That looks good. Look, he’s licking her hand.”

Frankie grimaced. “Right-side up, this card represents conquering fear, but upside down, like this, it means, letting fear reign. It’s saying that what is holding you back from your potential is that you let fear control you.” She pressed her lips together and raised her brows questioningly.

“I may have had a few rough years, but I don’t let fear run my life,” Louise said defensively.

“Possibly not,” Frankie murmured, moving on to the last card.

“This is Your Potential. The Queen of Cups. Now that’s a good one. She’s warm and nurturing and often, in a reading, is, uh, …” Frankie gave a little cough to clear her throat. “Nudging you to take a chance and open your heart.”

There was a silence as the women contemplated the cards. Louise reached out and picked up the Three of Swords. “This is uncanny. Three swords piercing the heart. First I lost my mom, then my boyfriend, and a pregnancy. A baby. One, two, three.”

Okay – that’s all. I can’t give it all away or you’ll be sorry when you read the book!

Get the ebook now for 99¢- but only until Sunday December 15th, and only on

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Happy holidays! Drive safe.

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.



Going back to the cabin.

Although I’ve been hunkered down in my office everyday for months, only emerging for food and coffee, it’s only now that I’ve written the first chapter of the next Fortune Bay book (sorry, not even a working title yet) that I feel like I’m back to work.

I’ve been busy since publishing Home for Christmas November first. (Eek! 5 months ago!) Besides Cuba, Christmas and the dreaded annual family business year end,  a final (I think) edit of my Mayan murder mystery (more about that in a later post) and endless publishing, promotion and general book-business housekeeping, I also wrote a sequel novella to the Murphy family trilogy, called Family Matters. At the moment, I am reserving this book for a group of supportive readers whom I know have finished The Good Neighbor and Home for Christmas because it really is a sequel to those books and should be read after the other two. (If you’ve read those books and reviewed them, just let me know at Judy@JudithHudsonAuthor.com and I’ll add you to the selected readers list.)

Then there was the nasty finger problem that involved 6 months with a splint on the middle finger of my right hand that made typing a challenge, and probably had something to do with the fact that I did not jump right into writing another full-length book. But, I’m pleased to say, the stitches came out today! break out the champagne! Let’s just hope the digit says healthy.

I’ve also started plotting another mystery (yes, it’s a series) and a new trilogy of books set down the shore of Majestic Lake. So far, I think of it as the three-sisters-who-have-never-met-before-inherit-a-very-funky-old-hunting-lodge-from-the-grandfather-they-never-knew trilogy. Here’s the photo that inspired that one. I don’t think it will materialize on paper though for at least a few months.

So I’ve been juggling the three books in my head for over a month, a very confusing stage to be at, and this week when I finally started typing page one, Lily’s book came out the winner.

Lily showed up in Family Matters, but you won’t have to read FM first to enjoy this book. She’s Max’s daughter who has run to Fortune Bay for reasons that are just beginning to reveal themselves. (I’m only on chapter two.) But I do know that Pierre, the new French-Canadian chef at the resort will somehow be involved in helping her working out her problems, and I’d hazard a guess that she helps him, too.

So, I’ll get to work, and keep you up to date on my progress. That’s all for now,

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Birthing a Book

Torn by excitement and trepidation, I just sent the final manuscripts of Lake of Days and Summer of Fortune off to the printers.

Some people compare launching a book to birthing a baby. To me, it feels more like sending your children off to college or out into the world. The birthing comes much earlier.

There’s the “conception,” those magical moments when the germ of a story appears in your mind. havenThen the “incubation,” when you stare dreamily out the window or type furiously at the keyboard, depending on your method, as the idea takes shape.

I say it takes a village to produce a book because I have depended on the interest, kindness and inspiration of my friends and family so much in this process to read, give feedback and listen to me rant or spin off ideas.

Then the writing, when your story “family” becomes all consuming, you don’t have time to see you friends or, sometimes, do your laundry, and that might be more like the birthing and new-born stage to me. Editing? Those difficult, seemingly endless teenage years when so much depth and character is born out of turmoil and sweat, with occasional bursts of elation.

Then the launch. When, with tears of terror/fear/happiness you push/send the manuscript is out into the world.SOF Feature copy

Deep breath.

Now, to see to the next child, the final edits of the next book, The Good Neighbor.

Sound familiar?

Thanks for listening.

Judy sig

Author Lee McKenzie

Lee McKenzie…writing fifty shades of pink

First – the winner of last week’s giveaway – Helena Korin! Helena’s copy of Jenny Andersen’s eBook, Stalking Bell, is on the way to her inbox.

Now on to this week’s guest author.

I’m so  excited to have my friend, multi-published Harlequin author Lee McKenzie as my guest!

The Parent Trap - front cover
This week’s giveaway!

I know it’s a much-used phrase, in fact the name of one of the Harlequin imprints she publishes under, but I’d truly have to describe Lee’s books as “heartwarming”. They always make me feel good, like there are still possibilities in life for a happily ever after.

And to celebrate having Lee here today, I’m giving away an eBook copy of her Harlequin romance The Parent Trap to one lucky reader who comments on her blog this week! (This contest closes Sunday June 6 at midnight.)

Let’s see what Lee’s been working on lately.

JH:  Hi Lee. What is your latest published book?

LM:  To Catch a Wife, (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 2016).
is my most recent book and as you can see, it was released just this month.

The story is set in the fictional small town of Riverton, Wisconsin, and it’s the first book in The Finnegan Sisters trilogy. To Catch a Wife is available online right now—in both print and eBook formats—and in June it the mass market edition will be available in select Walmart stores throughout the US. The second book in the series, His Best Friend’s Wife, will be out in December 2016. The working title of the third book is Cowboy, Come Home (release date TBA).

Here’s the back cover blurb for To Catch a Wife:To Catch a Wife - Lee McKenzie - front cover

He’ll prove he’s back for good

Detective Jack Evans will keep proposing as many times as it takes. He never expected to come home to Riverton, Wisconsin, let alone to find himself lost in a night of passion with reporter Emily Finnegan—and he gets an even bigger surprise when he finds out she’s pregnant. Now he’s determined to marry the beautiful brunette. It took a world-shaking surprise to make him realize what was missing in his life. But Emily has been hurt before and isn’t convinced his desire to marry her is about love. He’ll do whatever it takes to prove his heart is hers…for as long as they both shall live.

JH:  You’ve described Riverton as a “fictional small town”, but is it totally made up, or based on a real place?

LM:  Riverton, Wisconsin, is a fictional small town loosely based on the town of Wabasha, Minnesota, on the bank of the Mississippi. I don’t know anyone who lives in Wabasha, but I have been there twice and fell in love with its wide Main Street lined with old, two-story brick buildings. I decided to fictionalize the town because I don’t know enough about Wabasha to make it realistic. The best part of making up my town is getting to make stuff up! If you would like a closer look, please check out my April post on the Harlequin Heartwarming Authors Blog, aptly (I think!) titled “Making Stuff Up.”

JH:  What attracted you to the small-town romance genre?

LM:  I love to incorporate a sense of community in my books and, for me, a small-town setting makes that a lot more fun. Anyone who has ever lived in a real small town knows there are always a few quirky people who make life interesting.

In To Catch a Wife, readers will meet Mable Potter, a retired high school English teacher who taught several generations of Rivertonians and now lives alone with her scallywag of a dog, Banjo. The title of this book is a play on To Catch a Thief, and Mable and her dog just might be involved.

PetHamsters actually play a big part in my stories. The heroine of this story, Emily Finnegan, has a hamster named Tadpole.

I held a Name This Furry Friend contest and the name Tadpole was the hands-down favourite among my panel of judges. I had fun coming up with an explanation for the name, and the winner is acknowledged in the book.

JH:  I love your tag line,Lee McKenzie…writing fifty shades of pink. How did you come up with it?

LM:  Believe it or not, my husband came up with this one. I overhead him explaining to someone that I’m a romance author, and that person asked, “You mean like Fifty Shades of Grey?” My husband replied, “No, more like fifty shades of pink.” And my tag line was born. I think it perfectly reflects what I write…wholesome, tender romance with a focus on family, friendships and community.

JH:  What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

LM:  My favourite pastimes are, in no particular order, cooking, gardening, reading, DIY projects, and scouring thrift stores and second-hand shops for bargains and vintage finds.

I’m excited to share one of my latest vintage finds—a child-sized antique chair that was refinished Vintage Chairwith Annie Sloane chalk paint. Even the vinyl seat has been painted, and in a beautiful colour called Duck Egg Blue. This is not one of my DIY projects. The chair had already been refinished when I discovered it, and it now has a home beside my fireplace where it awaits the arrival of my first grandchild early this summer.

Then there’s other side of thrifting. I often encounter another person’s attempt at DIY that I find…what’s the word?…confounding. For example, this coffee table was made into a bench and upholstered with faux fur designed to look like feathers. Needless to say, this one stayed in the thrift store, but I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.
A Feathered Bench
And no, you’re not seeing double. The price tag is $69.95!

JH:  What is your favourite TV show and why?

LM:  The Big Bang Theory is my all-time favourite sitcom. The writing is brilliant and the character development truly inspired. The show’s creators have taken a popular stereotype—the science geek—and crafted four believable and compelling archetypes. Genius! I’m so impressed, I’ve actually developed a writing workshop based on these characters.

JH:  Okay. The final question – Coffee or tea?

LM:  I love coffee—the darker and stronger the better—and every morning begins with a café con leche (equal parts espresso and scalded milk). I sometimes have a cup of green tea or herbal tea in the afternoon. Otherwise, it’s water, water, water.

Lee here. I want to thank Judith for inviting me to be a guest on her blog, and all of you for joining me here today. If you would like to keep in touch and find out more about my upcoming books, please feel free to drop by my website [www.LeeMcKenzie.com] and sign up for my newsletter, Life in the Slow Lane. For now, I will leave you with an excerpt from To Catch a Wife. Happy reading!


EMILY FINNEGAN SETTLED onto the middle stool at the big kitchen island, sliding comfortably into her place as the middle sister. No matter what was wrong with the world—floods, famines, personal freak-outs—here in the heart of the Finnegan family farmhouse, everything felt right.
Her younger sister, CJ—Cassie Jo as their father affectionately called her—sat on the stool to Emily’s right. CJ was dressed for the stables in dark jeans and a faded denim work shirt, her long blond hair pulled back in a high ponytail.
Across the gleaming white Formica countertop, Annie, eldest of the three sisters, stood with carafe in hand. “Coffee?” She angled the pot over Emily’s mug. If the kitchen was the heart of the home, then Annie was the life force that kept it beating.
“Sure. Oh, wait. No.” Emily hastily withdrew her cup. “Only if it’s decaf.”
CJ clapped a hand to Emily’s forehead.
Emily ducked away from it. “What are you doing?”
“Checking to see if you’re running a fever. Since when do you drink decaf?”
A good question for which Emily didn’t have a good answer. Yet. “I haven’t been sleeping well, so I thought I’d cut back on caffeine, see if that makes a difference.” Only partly true, but at least it wasn’t a lie.
“It’s ten-thirty in the morning,” CJ said.
Emily shrugged.
“Not a problem,” Annie said. “I’ll make a fresh pot of decaf. It’ll be ready in a few minutes.” She looked amazing in a slouchy yellow pullover and crisp white slacks. Given everything she would have accomplished since getting up before sunrise—gathering eggs from the chicken coop, making breakfast, vacuuming, laundry—Emily had no idea how Annie kept herself looking fresh as a summer daisy.
While her older sister turned to the coffeemaker, Emily tried to ignore her younger sister’s scrutiny. Ever since CJ had been little, she’d had a talent for sniffing secrets and wheedling information out of the secret keeper.
“You’re being weird,” CJ said.
“I’m always weird.”
“Weirder than usual.”
“Don’t bug your sister.” Annie, ever the mom, filled CJ’s mug, then her own.
The coffee smelled like a little piece of heaven to Emily. How would she make it through nine whole months without coffee? Although, if the secret thing that had been keeping her up at night turned out to be true, it was now closer to seven months.


Don’t forget to leave a comment for Lee, to be eligible for The Parent Trap, giveaway. And come back next Monday to see who is the winner – and when Stephanie Bergett will be my guest.

Thanks for joining us.

Judy sig