Winter Blogfest: Jude Johnson

New Year’s Eve, A Costumed Affair

Dressing for the holidays has a different meaning around here. I have a delightful, fellow author friend who hosts a themed costume party each New Year’s Eve. She and her husband hold nothing back, decorating every bit of their house as well. Camelot was the theme the first time I attended, and a more creative bunch of outfits could not be had anywhere. Sir Gilroy of Garlic presented himself to the court, adorned with a necklace of state and coronet of bulbs as befit his name. His wife, Lady Baguette, wore a heavily bejeweled bread crown. My friend as The Lady of The Lake enchanted all in an aqua gown with pearls and seaweed hemmed with rubber squeaky frogs. Guests jousted with swim noodle lances astride whinnying stick horses while door prizes such as bags of King Arthur flour were drawn. Being a noob, I wore a gown with long belled sleeves and a wizard’s hat. I vowed next time I would be more inventive.

I got my chance the following year-end when the theme was “My Heart’s in the Highlands.” The host and hostess, you see, had spent a good month of the summer over in Scotland. While there was the requisite sheep or two among the crowd and lots of Highlander lads and lasses in full kilt regalia, I was the only person who came as the national symbol of Scotland–the thistle. Dying my hair lavender was the easy part. What to wear to look like stems and proper thistle leaves was a thorny problem. (Pun intended.) But I managed to whip a little something together.

We’ve stepped back to the psychedelic Sixties, wagon-trained into the Wild West, and hung with flying monkeys in the EmeraldCity. (I was a Ruby Slipper.)



jude NYE Costume Collage


Woe to anyone who comes to the door in street clothing. My friend strictly enforces the costume requirement, so if you aren’t dressed, she’ll put you in something–usually the most embarrassing thing she can find. The theme for the following New Year’s bash is announced post midnight–after everyone has sung all the verses to Auld Lang Syne to the hostess’ satisfaction. Bet you didn’t know it had more than one verse, did you? Granted, she has all the lyrics posted for everyone to follow so there is no excuse, even if ( like me) you can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Usually by that time no one cares anyway so we all just howl along.

This year–Steampunk–will be the final soiree. I understand completely; it’s a lot of work to plan, decorate, and entertain a bunch of people in your home every year. After a decade or so it stops being fun and turns into a frustrating chore. They’ve had a great run of fifteen parties, each with a unique theme and décor. It’s time for them to kick back and enjoy the turning of the calendar minus the hassle.

I’ll be searching for the right accessories for my Victorian garb: a map case, perhaps a mechanical pet companion, definitely a kick-ass hat and funky eyewear.

See you on the dance floor December 31st. But come 2014, I’ll dearly miss dressing for New Year’s Eve.

~Jude Johnson




A set of the first two ebooks in my Save The Last Dance contemporary romance series:

 A Dangerous Dance and A Wicked Waltz (pdf format),  PLUS a compilation CD of dance music associated with the series (for personal use only).


About Jude:

wicked waltz ecoverJude Johnson has been a history enthusiast since childhood and has spoken about her historical research at numerous historical societies as well as on BBC Radio Wales. She is the author of the Dragon & Hawk trilogy of historical novels set in the Arizona Territory that follow three fictional brothers from Wales in 1882 and the three very different women who change their lives. While she has no Welsh heritage in her lineage, Jude has studied Cymraeg—the Welsh Language—and learned just enough to be dangerous in Cardiff pubs. She also speaks really bad border Spanish that gets better with Negra Modelo. She loves to watch Wales in Six Nations Rugby to compare and contrast the definitions of gluteal musclulature in rugby shorts versus American football pants. All in the name of research, of course.

Her newest series is a trilogy of contemporary romance called Save the Last Dance, of which A Dangerous Dance and A Wicked Waltz are now available. A Torrid Tango is scheduled for release in March 2014.

She is a member of Gecko Gals Ink, LLC, a group of “sassy Tucson authors” who encourage other writers to become published by holding writing seminars and classes. Recent endeavors have also included organizing The All-Zona Book Fest, a gathering of Arizona scribes who may otherwise fly under the radar because they are indy published or published by a small house without major distribution.

She lives in the foothills of the Santa CatalinaMountains with her long-suffering husband and son who have resigned themselves to ingesting charred food while she’s in a writing frenzy. Which may explain how her two cats have become quite deranged as well…
Amazon Author Page:


Anniversary Blog Fest: Jude Johnson

Simple Summer Pleasures
Jude Johnson

The music starts as blue skies shade to lavender. Crickets tune their fiddle-legs in hidden recesses of grass. A faint murmur of voices slowly grows louder as people gather with lawn chairs and blankets in the town square. Mothers softly remind their older children to stay within earshot while toddlers squirm and squeal for freedom. Old men hail one another in foghorn blasts, their wives chirping like piccolos.

No, this isn’t an old episode of Andy Griffith. It’s present day Northern Arizona on an August Saturday evening, though it could be anywhere in Small Town America. Once the sun drops below the horizon and the day’s hellish heat begins to subside, the folks come out to enjoy summer’s simple pleasures.

There really is a gazebo centered in a park framed by four streets, sidewalks meeting in a concrete plaza–a perfect dance floor. Tall trees provide leafy shade and a hint of verdant perfume. A small playground anchors one side; a slide and jungle gym beckon little ones over to play in the sand.

One vendor sells snow cones drenched in fruity syrups. The Lions Club sells sodas and water while their members pitch tickets for a 50-50 raffle: “Dollar apiece or six for five dollars. Winner gets half the pot and rest goes to the Lions eyesight programs. C’mon now, Fred; I know you have a fiver–and we’re up to almost $500 already.” Across one street, independent booths sell wind chimes, copper jewelry, art work, locally grown vegetables, and homemade Mexican food.

The square is soon filled with meandering rows of chairs. When the local rock & roll band begins with “Brown-Eyed Girl” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, couples of all ages rise to dance. An octogenarian cowboy whose family has ranched in the area since 1870 grabs his daughter’s hand and they two-step into a lively, swirling boogie, smiling all the while. He’s an incorrigible flirt, this old cowboy, choosing a different partner for each song with a twinkle in his eye and a devilish grin, occasionally planting a loud smacking kiss on an unsuspecting cheek. “Oh you!” one woman says and throws her head back to laugh.

There are no sullen teenagers here. Everyone is up and moving to the beat. Soon the youngsters form a chain and do the wave from side to side, first with arms and ending with bumping hips. A few collapse to the walkway in fits of giggles and wildly perform air guitar solos.

The Lions are doing a booming business with thirsty dancers and grandmas fretting about reading their raffle ticket numbers in the darkness now shading the square. Not to worry; the old cowboy flourishes a pocket flashlight and offers to share in exchange for a dance. At the band’s break, one of the Lions happily reveals the pot had reached more than $800 and reads the winning number–“Hey, see? I told you, Fred!” No one grumbles over losing; after all, more than $400 will help the group provide eyeglasses and reading magnifiers to the community.

Music continues until ten o’clock. Nearly the entire crowd has stayed for the duration. The band announces they will continue to play in a tavern just down the street and a good number of folks head in that direction. Families pack up and wander to their vehicles with a sleepy child draped over one shoulder. The flirtatious cowboy bids his friends goodnight with a promise to return for the next concert, “a week from next Saturday.”

It is an age-old ritual, this summer concert in the park. Just like a scene from my latest novel, Dragon’s Legacy, people still flock outdoors on a summer’s evening to share good times with their neighbors. May the tradition continue on for all the summers yet to come.

About the Author:

Jude Johnson has been a history enthusiast since childhood and has lectured about her historical research at the Sierra Vista Historical Society, the Welsh League of Arizona, and the West Coast Eisteddfod in Los Angeles. She is a member of Gecko Gals Ink, LLC, a group of “sassy Tucson authors” who encourage other writers to become published by holding writing seminars and classes. While she has no Welsh heritage in her lineage, she has studied Cymraeg—the Welsh Language—and learned just enough to be dangerous in Cardiff pubs. She also speaks bad border Spanish that gets better with cerveza. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Author photo by William Foote

The Dragon & Hawk Trilogy–Dragon & Hawk, Out of Forgotten Ashes, and Dragon’s Legacy— is published by and available from Champagne Books




Twitter: @JudeJohnsonAZ

Book Covers: Out of Forgotten Ashes and Dragon’s Legacy
Artwork by Amanda Kelsey, Champagne Books


Long Before the Equinox
That goofy groundhog never gets it right… Spring comes long before the equinox in the Sonoran Desert.  The brilliant, lime green shoots of new mesquite leaves, almost fluorescent against the deep brown-black bark, begin budding in February. Tiny nodules erupt on prickly pear pads, knuckles of “cactus roses” that will grow to pink buds and open as yellow flowers.
Spring explodes here in a way that astounds and astonishes. Colors are incredibly vivid, perhaps because everything else seems burnt and brown—but only for those who don’t know the subtle signs of life in a desert, such as the immigrant Evan Jones from Wales in my novel, Dragon & Hawk. Evan cannot believe a place that has so little moisture can be as beautiful as the gardens of his homeland. He’s amazed that palo verde trees, which have green bark and mere twiggy leaves, suddenly burst into yellow blooms as bright as daffodils. And the aromas—sweet and tart as lemon, fresh as green chlorophyll, spicy as cinnamon sage—all mix as a light perfume in the air. The desert floor blossoms into a multicolored carpet of blue lupine, red owl’s clover, and orange and gold poppies as vibrantly painted as a Van Gogh—but only for a short while. The colors fade as the sun’s heat grows ever more potent, and often by the official first day of spring the temperatures already approach the nineties.
It’s that little taste, that whiff of beauty which affirms that life does renew and revive in the desert, if a little earlier than everywhere else. Those who dwell here treasure and inhale and try to hold fast to the memory as summer cranks up her grill.
Jude Johnson
Author of DRAGON & HAWK
 due April 2011 from Champagne Books:

Jude Johnson is a writer with a passion for historical research and details. The smell of parchment, old leather, and glue bindings makes her giddy. It is her attention to accuracy that infuses her stories with authenticity, letting the reader step into those dusty streets of Tombstone or onto the pitching deck of a frigate of Nelson’s Navy. Granddaughter of a curandera, a Mexican healer who uses herbs, psychology and a little bit of mysticism, she incorporates a bit of family legend into her Dragon & Hawk series.

Jude loves adventure, action, romance, and fantasy to spirit her readers into a different time and place. She has studied the Welsh language—Cymraeg—enough to order beer, swear, order pancakes, and ask for the facilities. Trips to Britain to capture the cadence of the melodic Welsh accent and attitude allowed her to infuse her Welsh immigrant characters with realism. Jude also speaks fairly bad border Spanish.
Home is situated in the Catalina Foothills of northern Tucson, Arizona, near Pima Canyon and not too far from Sabino Canyon. Jude lives with her long-suffering husband and son, as well as two deranged cats.