Judy Duarte

Judy Duarte returns with a story full of good cheer, Christmas Spirit, and romance!

This Christmas, come home to Fairbrook.

The charming setting for Judy Duarte's uplifting, heartwarming novels, where friendship, faith, and some extra-special providence will make it a holiday to remember.

Christmas on Nutcracker Court
Judy Duarte
Dafina Kensington

Fairbrook is a town tailor-made for Christmas where beautiful old houses line quaintly named streets like Sugar Plum Lane and Nutcracker Court. But not everyone is eager for the holidays to arrive. Cash-strapped single mom Carly Westbrook worries about providing a merry Christmas for her boys. It doesn't help that they've been having run-ins with neighbor Max Tolliver, an aspiring novelist stricken with writer's block. Then there's Grant Barrows, a formerly wealthy businessman whose heart seems to have shrunk along with his bank balance.

Some folks are still determined to make the season sparkle--like the Diamond Lils, a ladies' group that meets weekly to play poker and socialize. This year, they're looking to do some good deeds--and wealthy widow Lynette thinks that a little matchmaking between Grant and Carly would be a perfect place to start.

Get Lost in a Story welcomes back Judy Duarte

Judy always knew there was a book inside her, but since English was her least favorite subject in school, she never considered herself a writer. An avid reader who enjoys a happy ending, Judy couldn’t shake the dream of creating a book of her own.

That dream became a reality in 2002, when Silhouette released her first Special Edition. Since then, more than thirty of her books have hit the shelves, including three women’s fiction novels and two novellas.

Judy, a two-time RITA® finalist with Mulberry Park (2009) and Entertaining Angels (2010), was awarded two Maggies and a National Reader’s Choice Award for her heartwarming stories.

When she’s not cooped up in her writing cave, Judy spends time with her family near the beach in Southern California.

Judy has some great thoughts to share, check out her interview.
Jillian: Where do you read and how often?
Judy: I read at night, while I’m lying in bed. I also love to read when I’m on vacation, especially on planes. A good book makes the flight time pass quickly. I don’t get to read nearly as often as I used to—or as often as I’d like. My family and my writing schedule take up a lot of my free time. However, I recently started reading historical romances with an inspirational thread—something I’d enjoyed years ago and have recently come back to. So my nightlight has been getting a little more use lately.

Jillian: Describe your favorite kind of hero to read/write?
Judy: I generally like darker, tortured heroes—men who are loners because of something that happened to them in the past. I enjoy creating a plot and conflicts that help those men find redemption and healing through the love of a good woman.

Jillian: What was the first story you remember writing?
Judy: A girlfriend and I wrote a romantic short story when we were juniors in high school. In fact, at our high school reunion last August, we talked about it. She still has the story!It was a western, but it wasn’t a romance. We killed off both the hero and heroine at the end. But we received an A+ on that story.

Jillian: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Judy: You know, that changes with time. When I was in high school, I loved GONE WITH THE WIND with Clark Gable and Vivian Lee. Yesterday, while talking to two writing friends, we talked about an old classic—THE QUIET MAN with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. I also like SIXTEEN CANDLES, with Molly Ringwald. And all the Star Wars movies. But that’s just off the top of my head. I know I’m missing some—like WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING and SLEEPING IN SEATTLE…

Jillian: What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?
Judy: I can usually get lost in a historical romance. Recently I read REDEEMING LOVE by Francine Rivers and HEART OF STONE BY Jill Marie Landis and really enjoyed them. But I also loved THE HELP by Katheryn Stockett and HER SISTER’S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult.

Jillian: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go and specifically why?
Judy: I would enjoy traveling back to the 1880s. I’m a big fan of westerns, although I think the life was tougher back then than the movies make them look. So maybe I’d choose a smaller town in the Midwest. Hmm. Maybe someplace like Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

Jillian: If you couldn’t be a writer anymore, what profession would you take up?
Judy: I’d probably be a social worker. I’m good at encouraging people and helping them find options. A wise woman once told me that the essence of mental health is knowing that you have options. It made a lot of sense, and I’ve made it a point to always have a Plan B—and even a C or D. Doors are often closed, but look for the open window.

Jillian: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
Judy: Yes, I do read the reviews. I try hard to tell myself that it’s all subjective, so I don’t pay a lot of attention to them. Okay, so I do favor the glowing reviews and put more stock in them than I should. One review mentioned that my Mulberry Park stories tied up a little too nicely. And I let that influence me when I wrapped up CHRISTMAS ON NUTCRACKER COURT.

Jill's Gotta Ask. Judy's Gotta Answer:

Jillian: When you first get an inkling for a story, which character comes first? The hero or heroine? Do you jot down the idea right away or do you let the story percolate for a while?
Judy: This is really an interesting question, and you might find my answer even more so. All of my characters have some kind of flaw or something to overcome. And for that reason, I usually create the more damaged character first. After that character comes to life in my mind, a plot begins to form. When writing a romance, I then create the perfect romantic nemesis for the first character—a man or a woman who is the worst person for them to be attracted to when the story begins, but who will be perfect by the end of the book. Even in my women’s fiction novels, each character will grow and change and become stronger during the course of the story.

Question for Judy's commenters: Judy loves to read at night. In bed. With a nightlight. She also likes to read on vacation and on plane flights. Where and when do you read? GIVEAWAY! Judy would love to offer a copy of CHRISTMAS ON NUTCRACKER COURT to one of today's commenters.

For more about Judy's novels, here's a link: http://JudyDuarte.com

***Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only. If an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) is available, the author may utilize that option for International participants. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.


  1. Hi Judy!

    Great to have you back again here at Get Lost in a Story, and congrats on CHRISTMAS ON NUTCRACKER COURT.

    Who does't love to read in bed? Part of my warm up and cool down at the gym is to do twenty minutes of Lifecycle. A great place to read, or write! I often outline my next chapter on my iPhone and e-mail it to myself!

  2. Welcome back to GLIAS, Judy.

    I read whenever I can, wherever I can. Favorite place: alone hearing the ocean waves and nothing else.


  3. Hey, all!
    Judy, great interview (and great questions, GLIAS). I just want to tell everyone out there that Judy's stories have such warmth and memorable characters--you'll *love* them! (Okay, so she's my critique partner...but I swear I'm not biased. )

    As for the question about reading, I'll be answering that next week. ;)

  4. Jillian,
    Thanks so much for having me back!

    And Angi,

    I love reading at the beach, too. The ocean waves are sooo relaxing. :)

  5. I love Christmas books and I this one sounds really good. I do most of my reading at night and I have a certain place in my house set up just for reading. I like to read when its very quite, sometimes when hubby has TV on I put ear plugs in just to read.

  6. Hey Judy! Thanks for writing such heart-warming stories. And I love a tortured hero, too. I like to read my Kindle when I'm waiting for doctor's appointments or at the salon. Hard copy books I tend to read on the leather couch in the family room.

    Please tell us what books are coming up in your future.

  7. Judy, I'm so glad this book is finally out. I have all my daughters and granddaughters hooked on your books.


  8. Am anxious to read this book; the cover alone is enticing.

    Natalie's Mama

  9. Judy, I love your answer to the last question about developing your characters. What an interesting method. Also, I must say, I'd love to join the Diamond Lils--they seem like my kind of crowd.

    How many books I read while on vacation is one of my measures of how relaxing it was! I travel to Puerto Vallarta every May and basically float in a pool reading for five straight days. Heavenly!

  10. I love Christmas books and this sounds like a great one. Most of my reading is done in bed but my favorite place is in the patio swing with my IPod for music and my kindle or nook...

  11. I read during my lunch hour and at home when I go to bed at night - sometimes to my detriment as I'll read to 5 in the morning if the book is just that good. I also listen to books on CD when I'm driving almost anywhere alone - to work, on travel or on vacation. :D

  12. Hi, everyone. I'm sorry for being so slow to respond yesterday--long story. But I'm back for a wrap up to this blog and to read the next one. :)

    I'd read when my hubby watches TV, but it gets pretty distracting. I'm going to have to invest in earplugs. Thanks for the idea!

    Thanks for stopping by! I'll *see* you next week. :)

  13. Jeanne,

    I've been thinking about investing in a Kindle or a Nook. If I do, then I'll probably end up with 2 favorite reading locations, too.

    Thanks for asking about my upcoming books. I have a Harlequin Special Edition coming out in December, which is also a Christmas book. It's called: A BABY UNDER THE TREE.

  14. Aw, Toni. Thanks so much for passing my books along. I hope your girls like this book, too. :)

    And Natalie's Mama. I was pleased with the cover, too. Kensington's art department is really good. :)

  15. Melissa,

    I'm leaving for Hawaii next week, and you can bet that I'll be floating and reading. :)

    I have an article I wrote on creating the perfect imperfect couple. If you email me at JudyDuarte at aol dot com, I'll send it to you or to anyone else who'd like to see it.

  16. Deborah R,

    I like Christmas stories, too.

    And LilMissMolly. There's nothing like getting so lost in a story that you stay up all night reading. :)

  17. CONGRATULATIONS VIRGINIA, you've won a copy of CHRISTMAS ON NUTCRACKER COURT. Please go to the Winner's Page (see tab near masthead) and you will find contact information.

  18. Thanks so much, I just got your email and forward my info to you. Doing the happy dance right now.

  19. I'm late, but just wanted to tell Judy I love this cover! :) Can't wait to read it...

    And Sixteen Candles is still a favorite movie for me too!

    Lisa :)