Please give a warm welcome to our special guest, Judy Duarte!  I had the pleasure of working with Judy on Harlequin’s 2014 Fortunes of Texas series, and I was thrilled when she agreed to join us today.  So, without further adieu…


You Gotta Love Those Kids… 

One of the things I love about writing a romance—in addition to creating a beautiful love story—is the chance to create unique and entertaining secondary characters who add that special something to the book.   And that’s why I especially enjoyed writing A HOUSE FULL OF FORTUNES!


 Everyone loves a funny sidekick, a dastardly villain, or an older and wiser friend.  But personally, my favorite secondary characters are children.


Having raised five of my own, I’ve also been blessed with their cousins, their friends, and now kids at the pooltheir children—my grandchildren.  Needless to say, I’ve put in my share of babysitting, volunteering in the classroom, chaperoning field trips, and teaching Sunday school.  I’ve cooked for kids, cleaned up after them, rocked them to sleep and disciplined them.   Over the years I’ve come to understand kids and to always expect the unexpected whenever they’re in the room. 


When writing Toby and Angie’s romance, I had the opportunity to create not one, but three children.   Toby Fortune Jones had taken in three foster kids who had nowhere else to go.  And while his heart was in the right place, he found that it isn’t always easy to juggle the needs and personalities of three youngsters.  He soon found himself relying on Angie Edwards to help him with his adorable brood.  

Kids-Say-the-Darndest-ThingsArt Linkletter was right.  Kids really do say the darnedest things.  That’s what makes them so fun to include as secondary characters.   But when doing so, a writer needs to make them as realistic as possible.


 My daughter, who is also an author, once stopped reading a book because she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that the heroine’s son kept asking his grandmother for more helpings of her delicious okra and vegetable stew.  My daughter said, “Have you ever heard a seven year old boy beg for okra?  I’m sure there might be one or two out there, but at my house, it’s a battle just to get my kids to eat carrots with ranch dressing.  I’m not buying it.”

A HOUSE FULL OF FORTUNES!So kids can be cute, they can be funny, and they can be a challenge.  But when created realistically, they can add so much to the layers of a book.  I tried my best to do that with Brian, Justin, and Kylie.  I hope my readers agree—and that they’ll enjoy watching Angie and Toby fall in love, in spite of  all the antics and obstacles they have to overcome in A HOUSE FULL OF FORTUNES!

Judy is giving away an Amazon gift card to one person who posts. So, please join in on the fun and leave a comment below. 



54 thoughts on “Please Welcome Judy Duarte!

  1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    Welcome, Judy! I also have to stop reading if an author writes kids in an unrealistic way. I don’t usually put kids in my books, but I think the authors who write them well can make those scenes pretty cute and funny. Looking forward to your book!

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      Thanks, Shana! It’s great to be on Jaunty Quills again. 🙂

  2. Connie Saunders says:

    I am familiar with with Judy’s Nutcracker Lane & Nutcracker Court Christmas books and this sound very enjoyable. Thanks for this interview and giveaway.

    1. Judy Duarte says:


      I had fun writing the child point of view in Christmas on Nutcracker Court. So I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      I wasn’t able to write from the kids points of view in the Fortunes book, since it’s a shorter book and a romance. But they still come alive (I think) in their dialogue and antics. So I hope you enjoy it, too. 🙂

  3. Karen j says:

    This book sounds great! I love it when authors include children! Especially younger children because there is always something fun coming out of their little mouths! hehe
    I love the Fortunes and I’m looking forward to reading this one!

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      Karen J,

      These kids squabbled with each other at times, which made it fun. I think that’s part of being realistic. When there are 3 children in the mix, it’s hard to believe that someone isn’t going to be left out or have hurt feelings. 🙂

  4. Maureen says:

    Congratulations Judy on the new book! I agree with your daughter that the kids need to be realistic even when they are teenagers and young adults.

    1. Judy Duarte says:


      You’re so right–especially when it comes to teenagers. I find it more difficult to write in a teenager’s point of view, and I admire the authors who can do it. That’s why I’ve never tried to write a young adult novel. 🙂

  5. anne says:

    Congratulations Judy. Including children within books is wonderful since they add a dimension that is important.

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      Thanks, Ann.

      I agree with you. Kids do add something special to books. In A House Full of Fortunes!, I also include a retired Korean War veteran who really adds some fun and mischief to the mix. 🙂

  6. CrystalGB says:

    Great post. I enjoy kids in romance novels. They add depth to the story.

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      I think so, too, Crystal. 🙂

  7. CateS says:

    Even without being a parent… begging for okra is completely unreal…

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      I hear you, Cate! I’ve grown to like veggies now that I’m an adult, but I still don’t like okra. 🙂

  8. catslady says:

    I don’t usually care for a story if the children or child are the main focus but they can be fun as secondary characters (like pets) and I agree that they definitely need to be realistic or it can take you out of the story.

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      I agree, Catslady.

  9. pearl says:

    This book sounds lovely. Children contribute reality and more importantly depth to a book.

  10. eap says:

    Congralations Judy!

  11. Diane says:

    Since children are integral in our lives their presence in books is required. I enjoyed learning about your writing.

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      Thanks, Diane. It’s great to be here. 🙂

  12. It’s so fun to have you here today, Judy!

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      Thanks for inviting me, Nancy. It’s always fun to stop by Jaunty Quills.

      1. Judy Duarte says:

        By the way, Nancy, it was great working with you on the 2014 Fortunes of Texas series.

        I can’t wait to read FALLING FOR FORTUNE, which follows A HOUSE FULL OF FORTUNES!

  13. Dana McNeely says:

    Hi, Judy, You do a great job of writing about children – they pop off the page with realism! I loved several of your Mulberry Street books I read – especially one about a homeless woman who sheltered in a tree house and met it’s caretakers – several town children. Such fun interactions and plot lines came about! I loaned that book out and it never returned. Bet it’s on its way around the country, making other people smile! What was the name of that one? Help me out. 🙂

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      Aw, thank you, Dana! I loved that story. 🙂

      The book you’re talking about is Entertaining Angels. The homeless woman in the tree was actually a pregnant teenager. So I guess I sometimes do write in a teen’s point of view!

  14. Quilt Lady says:

    I do enjoy kids in books, but I do want them to seem real. I only have one child and he is 24 now. He doesn’t eat orka now much less at seven years old, but I probably would have looked over that mistake and kept reading. Now if a two year old is reading and writing I would have a big problem with that.

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      I hear you, Quilt Woman. It’s tough to continue a story when the kids are doing or saying something that doesn’t ring true for a real child. Although sometimes those real kids and come up with a real zinger that really astounds the adults around them. 🙂

  15. ellie says:

    I enjoyed your post. I miss Art Linkletter. Children are such amazing, sweet and say the most unique things. Love them to bits.

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      I loved watching those old Art Linkletter shows, too, Ellie. Bill Cosby did a good job on the remake. His and Art’s facial expressions and reactions really made those shows. Well, in addition to those cute kids. 🙂

  16. bn100 says:

    Nice post; sounds like an interesting book

  17. Michelle Major says:

    Hi Judy – Great post. 5 kids – wow – that’s an impressive accomplishment right there. Your daughter’s comment about the okra is so true – I’d fall over if one of my kids voluntarily ate okra. Although my son has always loved sushi – not exactly kid friendly food. Congrats on your new book!

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      Thanks, Michelle.

      And yes, 5 kids. The first three were very close in age, and the next one came after they were in school. Then we had a caboose, who became an only child. 🙂

      As a side note, your book, Her Accidental Engagement is at the top of my to-be-read list. 🙂

  18. Michelle Fidler says:

    I don’t have kids, just cats who are entertaining.

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      I love cats, too. Don’t you wish they could talk? Sometimes it almost seems as though they can!

  19. Marcy Shuler says:

    You book sounds fabulous since I love kids in stories, Judy. 🙂

    My 17 yr old son found his 2nd year of life calendar the other day where I’d written in things he’d done or said. He was cracking up just reading that he used to ask for Dam crackers (Graham). LOL

    1. Judy Duarte says:


      It’s good that you kept that calendar. He must be a firstborn. (At least, if he was mine, he would have been.) I was very good at capturing all the clever sayings and highlights of my #1 son’s first year. But when his brother came along, I was soon too busy to keep up with more than 2 naughty boys. 🙂

      How funny — Dam crackers. 🙂

  20. Jeanne says:

    I love kids as secondary characters, too. The reason I can’t stand most TV comedy shows is because the kids are such smart-mouth little monsters. I don’t find kids are like that in reality (at least not to the extremes of most network shows). I turn the shows off because like your daughter, I’m just not buying it! I love the kids you write about. It shows that you have had a lot of experience with them! Please keep writing them!

    1. Judy Duarte says:


      I agree. And the only thing worse than whiny kids in fiction, is whiny kids in real life. 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoy my fictional kids. I promise to write more of them as the story allows. 🙂

  21. Lisa Hutson says:

    Sounds like a fabulous and maybe fun story!! Its rare to even have children in a story that I read. And I suspect, never children like these 3 probably are. LOL
    I am making note of it!! Thanks for sharing your story!!

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      Thanks, Lisa.

      I think the kids definitely add to this story. I’m really pleased with the way the book turned out. I hope you enjoy it, too. 🙂

  22. Anita H. says:

    Hi Judy, your story sounds like a fun read! I work with kids so I totally understand one has to expect the unexpected when around them. Kids do make interesting secondary characters and can add a lot to the story. Thanks for sharing the Fortunes with us!

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      You’re welcome, Anita. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation. 🙂

  23. Ada says:

    As long as the kids aren’t written as whiny brats then I’m all for having them as secondary characters. Otherwise, I get annoyed with them and they distract from the story.

    1. Judy Duarte says:

      I hear you, Ada. The kids need to be sympathetic and not annoying, of they won’t get into one of my books.

      Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. One of the boys in Christmas on Nutcracker Court had a nemesis, a bully who made his life miserable. The bully made it into my story, but he got his comeuppance and didn’t have a point of view. 🙂

  24. Susan G says:

    I am enjoying the Fortune series.
    Looking forward to this book.
    I agree with what everyone has posted. Children need to be written into stories in a realistic manner. They need to have a role in the story and not be used as a plot device.

    1. Judy Duarte says:


      I’m glad you’re enjoying the Fortunes. It’s a great series this year. And those kids do add to the story. 🙂

  25. Always wanted a big family, Judy…yours sounds like a lot of fun! So glad to have you join us today!

  26. Glenda says:

    Your daughter’s comment stuck with me. My kids are older now, but they really did always like veggies — I guess my kids are strange, but I’m not complaining. 🙂 Even now when my son comes home from college, he asks for lots of veggies — with lots of meat of course.

  27. Jacki says:

    Sounds like a great jaunt!!!

  28. Joanna M says:

    Oh absolutely, kids say the darnest things and when they come out of their tiny mouths they sound cute. I have two nephews that do keep me on my toes all the time. I like children in my books but they have to be funny, if they are to sound serious, then they come off as arrogant and unrealistic. If they are supposed to be mean or whiny, well, I supposed that’s part of the plot but I don’t like those either.

  29. Michelle Fidler says:

    I don’t have kids but I like it when there are kids in books. It makes for variety.

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