Every now and again you meet a person who you know is going to be special in your life. Author JUDY KENTRUS is such a person for me. We met last year at the NECRWA conference and realized we both had a passion for telling stories about real people who weren’t in their 20’s and 30’s, but a wee bit older. We call what we like to read and write Seasoned romance and romancelandia is finally getting on board with the concept of love over the age of 40! And thank you, Jesus, for that!
Anyhoo… Judy is a prolific and talented author and she stopped by a bit ago and let me interview her about her writing and her personal life. I’m so pleased to share a little something from her latest release, A CHRISTMAS WISH, with you as well.
Judy, The Writer
- What drives you to write?
There’s a little person that dances around my head with ideas; characters that demand their own story – some from my other books; it also fills a void in my life…
- What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why?
Contemporary, Romantic Suspense, Seasoned Romance. What would a story be without comedy and mischievous kids. My characters are in their late thirties, forties and fifties. This age range opens up a world of HEA opportunities: starting over after a breakup/divorce; second chances, finding love later in life; empty nesters hoping to rekindle their love, etc. In The Wedding Gift, three ninety-year-olds, The Lemon Sisters, they formed a singing group, “borrowed” a van so they could crash the bridal shower.
- What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why?
I’ve an eclectic taste in books, right down to graphic novels like Captain Underpants and Dogman. Romance heads the top of the list, but a variety of books offer insight to all the genres so I don’t get bored.
- What’s your writing schedule? Do you write everyday?
I write every day, at least six to eight hours. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, boot up my laptop and write it down. If I’m not writing a book, I’m doing research. My daughter teases me about what I’ve researched, right down to how to sabotage break lines on semi, the ingredients in crystal meth, or how to give lap dance.
- Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table?
I have an office with a desk top computer. On the wall to the left of my writing area, is a dry erase board with my writing schedule that keeps me on track. It’s filled for 2019. Two large windows overlook my backyard. The wide windowsill is filled with a variety of houseplants. Since I live in the Poconos, my daily visitors are deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, red fox. Occasionally, black bears and their cubs meander up the driveway.
- Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnel-vision?
Total quiet? What’s that? My daughter and her family live with me so my two granddaughters – six and eight – keep things lively. They respect that when my office door is closed, I’m working, but… Yup, tunnel-vision.
- Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not?
Music? Absolutely. I love Sirius and Amazon Prime music. Depending on my mood, I listen to country, easy listening (depending on what I’m writing) old-school rock, the 70’s, 80’s. In every one of my books, I reference music. In my book Tea in Time, I had my character do a lap dance to Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night.”
- How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?
My current WIP is my US Park Ranger Series. I read about the problem National Parks are experiencing with makers of Crystal Meth. I had a character shouting in my head – “Pick me! Pick me!” I also have a US Park Ranger living in my community and he agreed to be interviewed. I was blown away by what these Federal police officers have to face and decided to do a series.
- Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why?
I’d say it’s fifty-fifty. Plots play an important part of a book and drive the story, but it takes strong characters to move it along. My characters have a tendency to take over the storyline and take me in directions I never planned. I also like to people watch. Many times it leads to what if…
- What 3 words describe you, the writer?
Driven, hard-working, dedicated,
Judy, my friend
- Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing! I LOVE to bake, especially cookies. My family calls me the Cookie Queen.
- Who was your first love and what age were you? My first love was my husband. We met when we were 14 and never broke up.
- If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and… The day I married the love of my life.
- Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando? I like boxers, but my guys have a tendency to go commando.
- If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be? Lipstick (this is funny because my daughter works for L’Oreal)
- What three words describe you, the person? Loving, kind, sentimental.
- If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be? I’d like to sing with him and Billy Joel – “Only the Good Die Young.”
- If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together? I love Eve Dallas, the Lieutenant from Nora Robert’s In-Death books. I’d do a ride-along on one of Eve’s cases. (Knowing her, she’d object to the intrusion, lol.) Then I’d have dinner with her and Roarke at their mansion. (Peggy here: SEE??? this is why we are friends!!!! that’s my answer to the question every single time!!!)
- Favorite sound – my husband’s voice
- Least favorite sound – ping from a cell phone
- Best song ever written – To Where You Are, by Josh Groban
- Worst song ever written – Who Let the Dogs Out
- Favorite actor and actress – Sean Connery and Julie Andrews
- Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead) – Kathleen Woodiwiss, the Author. She was an incredible writer and I’d love to have her writing expertise. (Peggy here: I swear we are sisters from another mister!!!)
- What turns you on? Music
- What turns you off? Rude, obnoxious people
- Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”) “You don’t look like your picture.” (I know six words)
- What’s your version of a perfect day? Summer: Temp: 80, sitting on the deck, enjoying the sunshine, music playing, drinking ice coffee, laptop on the table in front of me, and looking forward to having dinner with my husband. In the winter, sitting in front of the fire in our family room, writing, and looking out the window at the falling snow, drinking hot chocolate.
(Peggy here: Can you see why I love this lady so much??!!)
Caleb Hughes Thompson, owner of Hughes Department Stores, business-driven world is shattered when he receives a letter, written by his recently deceased brother. Daniel thrived on high adventure and lived each day as if it were his last. His dying wish is to have Caleb locate his daughter, the result of a one night stand. He was to start his search in Eden Prairie, Kentucky.
Erin MacKenna is a single mom and a third grade teacher in the Abraham Lincoln primary school in Eden Prairie, Indiana. One crazy night of indiscretion resulted in the most wonderful gift she’d ever been given, her daughter Danielle. Not wanting to damage her daughter of a preacher reputation, she tells everyone she’d was artificially inseminated.
Caleb needs someone to help plan their in-store holiday promotion, Santa Traditions. A teacher in the primary school would qualify to help him It would also be the perfect place to start searching for his niece.
BONUS SHORT STORY: Danielle’s Snowy Wish
Formerly KW: Undercover Heart
Caleb Hughes Thompson looked out his wall of windows that overlooked Indianapolis. Their building was surrounded by skyscrapers, but he had a perfect view of the historic Soldier and Sailor’s Monument. In the ten years he’d lived here, he’d never taken the time to walk to the top of the monument. He had a bird’s eye view of the holiday tree lighting ceremony they had ever year, but he was too absorbed in his work.
In a little while, he had a meeting with department heads to review the holiday marketing for their two hundred department stores throughout the country. This would be their biggest push to achieve the company’s financial goal before the end of the year. Their online sales had already surpassed initial projections. He had seven weeks to prove his new marketing strategy would double their in-store sales.
As of an hour ago, his focus had changed.
He pushed his glasses to the top of his head and gently brushed his eyelids, trying to erase the burning sensation in his eyes. Crying had never come easy, but his body had sought some relief. The letter he’d just been given from his deceased brother would change his life, his priorities. His future.
He walked across the thick carpeting and settled in his high-back leather chair. With a slightly trembling hand, he picked up the letter written in his brother’s own hand six months ago.
Caleb, since you are reading this, I’m dead. Don’t cry for me. I’ve avoided responsibility, lived my life carefree, just the way I wanted. I knew there would be a high risk in this climbing adventure so I left this letter with our lawyer. You need to sit down before you read further.
I’m pretty sure I have a daughter.
Now close your mouth while I explain. About nine years ago, Ned, Paul, and I met three girls in a bar in Galveston Island. I know I slept with one of them because my pillow smelled very sweet. I also found a pair of pink panties.
Ryan worked at Marshall’s Stables before he took the bar exam and sometimes helped with the kids when they rode the horses. This little girl fell off her horse and hurt her foot. Ryan removed her boot and sock and was shocked to see the little hook in her pinky toe. He made a joke and asked her if she got her cute toe from her mother or father. She said her father because her mom had pretty toes. The little girl had a great laugh and called it her candy cane toe, the same thing we called our toes at her age. She was about six or seven and had reddish-brown hair. Unfortunately, Ryan never got her name. I haven’t lost my mind, but I plan to look for this kid when I get back – if I do.
You need to try to locate this little girl. I’d start in Eden Prairie, Indiana where Marshalls’ is located. This is just between us. No lawyers and don’t tell Mom and Dad. Don’t even know for sure if this kid really exists.
Right now you are cussing me out, calling me irresponsible, why didn’t I use protection, how the hell are you to find a kid that may or may not be your niece?
Get it, Caleb. Your niece.
She’s probably the only grandchild Mom and Dad will ever have, unless you decide to become a father at forty-two. Just make sure the kid is okay. If you can confirm she’s my daughter, get to know her. Who knows, some day you might be able to tell her about me. She’ll also be very rich.
On a personal note from brother to brother, you feed on ambition and success, but you’re choking behind that big-ass desk. Get out of that damn office. Take it from me, it’s time you changed your diet. You’ve got lots of money, but a very lonely future. Find someone to love.
No one ever took us for twins, but you were the best brother. I never said it much, but I love you Caleb. If St. Peter actually lets me in, I will keep a watch over you. If you’re doing something wrong or heading in the wrong direction, I’ll send down a message, better yet, a lightning bolt in the shape of a boot and kick you in the ass.
Caleb removed his glasses and rubbed his hands over his damp cheeks. Maybe Danny hadn’t been wrong living the vagabond life. He was always warm and giving, a little-known philanthropist, but every day had been an adventure. Was it time he took his brother’s advice and changed his diet? Would he be able to find this little girl?
A little more about Judy
I’m a romantic at heart, having married my high school sweetheart, who is still the love of my life. While raising our two children, I was a “closet” writer and managed to complete four books. With the e-book explosion, I bottled up my courage and selected my favorite book, reworked the story line, and self-published “Elusive Obsession,” November 6, 2013.
I like to create characters that the reader can relate to/with. Sometimes while writing a scene, I find myself laughing out loud at the hilarious situations I literally toss them into. They’re not perfect with beautiful bodies, they make mistakes, their not afraid to say I’m sorry, they are not afraid to compromise and they suffer all human emotions. Most important, they love with all their heart..
I like to read books with a “twist” or two in the storyline and you’ll find these OMG situations in my stories. They are stand alone books, but I bring the characters from the first book into the follow-up story. I’ve already got readers clamoring for the next book, “Maid to Order”, that centers around Russell, a character from “Elusive Obsession.”
My characters also love to spend time in the kitchen and whip up their favorite dishes and treats. You’ll find a yummy dish or sweet from the books on my website: judykentrus.com.
I hope you enjoy my books and I love to hear from my readers.
You can connect with Judy here: