When Your Mom Is Your Best Critic

I’m not the only one in my family cranking out books.  As many of you know, my mom (http://judyduarte.com/) is also an author for Harlequin Special Edition and was the one who inspired me to start writing.  And by inspired, I mean relentlessly and forcefully steered me in that direction by signing me up for workshops and dragging me to conferences.  Because even when you’re an adult, your mother still thinks she knows what’s best for you.


Having a blast at the Harlequin Author Party.  The Plaza in New York City


It turns out my mom was right–as she usually is. Writing ended up being a great career fit for me and one of the added job perks is that I get to embark on this path alongside my biggest fan, as well as my biggest critic.  Thankfully, my mother and I have the type of relationship where we can have fun together on work trips, yet be brutally candid with each other when it comes to critiquing the others’ writing.

For example, our lines edit comments have contained the following sentences:

“Knock it off with the Oxford comma.  If you keep putting them in, I’m going to stop reading!”  -Mom

“Why in the world is your heroine going out on a date dressed like an eighty-year-old golfer?” -Me

It truly is constructive criticism at its finest.  Yet, with the negative comes the positive.  Nobody can motivate me the way my mom motivates me because her work-related pep talks come with an added benefit of a wealth of experience in our field.  She just published her 50th novel for Harlequin, so I’m (usually) pretty confident that she knows what she’s talking about. Check out her newest release and her big Five-Oh, The Bronc Rider’s Baby…

The Bronc Rider's Baby




Book Signing

SF Cookie Company Gift Basket

I’m packing up and getting ready for the California Dreamin’ Conference and Book Signing this weekend in Brea, California.  One of the perks of my job is that I get to hang out with other fabulous romance authors at workshops and social activities.  But this year, they added a Reader Event so I’m even more excited to hang out with Barbara Vey and friends at California Readin’.  Some lucky reader is going to win this Sugar Falls Cookie Company Beginner’s Kit… complete with the book that started it all, A Marine For His Mom, Williams-Sonoma baking supplies, and gourmet cookie mixes.


If you weren’t able to get tickets to the event on Saturday, March 25th, you can still come to the book signing afterward.  There will be 60 authors there and I’ll be signing copies of The Makeover Prescription and A Family Under The Stars.Book Signing Covers

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Embassy Suites

900 E. Birch Street

Brea, CA 92821


A Family Under The Stars

Dear Reader,a-family-under-the-stars-cover

Before I met my husband, I’d never slept outside. Never. Not once. My husband, on the other the hand, grew up camping. In fact, my mother-in-law has a very cute picture of him at eight-weeks-old being bathed in a bucket at their campsite. The first time he took me for an overnight stay in the great outdoors, there was such a bad windstorm, we ended up sleeping in the car. Yet he persisted and even went so far as to buy me two sleeping bags (yes, two—one for me and one for him) our first Christmas together.

Over time, my husband’s gift-giving skills have since improved (thankfully) along with my love of camping. Okay, so maybe the word “love” is a bit strong, but I genuinely enjoy our annual “tent-cations” and I think the experience has been amazing for our kids. Last year, my bossy older brother (who always brings his sweet family to join us) convinced us to go whitewater river rafting and the idea for A FAMILY UNDER THE STARS was born!

Alex Russell (who you might remember from previous Sugar Falls books) is a born outdoorsman and wilderness guide. Other than attending a posh and exclusive sleep-away camp in junior high, lifestyle guru Charlotte Folsom isn’t accustomed to venturing too far from the big city. However, when Alex is hired to take Charlotte on a whitewater expedition for her upcoming magazine article, their attraction is stronger than the river current….


The Makeover Prescription

the-makeover-prescription-coverDear Reader,

Upon hearing the news that they’re expecting, many parents will pray that their child is healthy or smart or doesn’t inherit their father’s freakishly long toes. My pregnancy wish, on the other hand, was for a well-behaved child. Then my son’s first grade teacher requested a special conference to address some “issues” he was having in class and my stomach dropped. I grew up with four brothers, so a little bit of rambunctiousness was normal for me, but when she recommended that we have him tested for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, I remember crying as if the diagnosis was a terminal illness. I had such engrained preconceptions about ADHD, thinking this was something parents made up to excuse their child’s poor behavior.

But then I started researching it. I got every book from my public library and bought several from the store. I read online articles, spoke with experts in the field, and joined community forums. One particular book that spoke to me was The Gift of ADHD by Lara Honos-Webb. By the time I got through reading it, I was actually hoping that all the tests administered by the pediatrician, neurologist, and clinical psychologist revealed that my son had this disorder I’d once dreaded.

Like Dr. Julia Fitzgerald explains to Kane Chatterson in The Makeover Prescription, we told our son that he had a super fast racecar brain, which was a good thing, but sometimes he might need help slowing down when it was time to make turns or come into the pit stop. Kane has always been ashamed of his hyperactivity, using an aloof façade to mask his insecurity around Julia, a genius neurosurgeon. Yet sometimes, it takes a special person with a positive insight to see the good in us before we can believe it ourselves.

The Makeover Prescription is now available in stores and on e-books. Chat with me on Twitter at @ChristyJeffries or find me on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love to hear from you.


More Sugar Falls

Remember when I said I had big news?  Well, I finally got the okay to announce it.  I just signed another three-book deal with Harlequin for more Sugar Falls stories!!  The release dates aren’t set yet (they’re still in the idea and plotting stages), but if you have a favorite Sugar Falls resident you’d like to see make a guest appearance, now’s the time to let me know…



Back to School

Don’t get me wrong, I love Back To School time more than anyone–and I have the student loans to prove it.  I get excited when that school supply list comes out and I get to strategize where to get the best deals on spiral notebooks and Ticonderoga #2 pencils.  My master organizational skills reach peak performance during the month of August when I ruthlessly go through my children’s clothes, sorting out what still fits and how many new superhero t-shirts I’ll have to buy to replace those beloved Batman pajamas that haven’t covered my son’s belly button for the past six months. I check the school websites regularly (read:  obsessively) to find out which teacher my kids will be assigned to, and then I stayed glued to my phone as my mom friends blow up the group texts discussing who is going to be in Room 18 (the prime classroom with reliable A/C and a direct path to the bathrooms) and who got stuck in the modular trailers out behind the handball court.

I’m even pumped up on that first day, taking the obligatory pictures of my kids in their brand new backpacks, waving at Jackson H.’s dad (who is going to hit me up to count Box Tops at the next PTO meeting if I actually engage in conversation with him) and commiserating with Ava’s mom (who is upset that her daughter got assigned to the mean teacher that requires parents to fill out homework logs every night).

And oh my gosh, all that free time to do errands and get my nails done and sneak those too-tight Batman pajamas into the Goodwill bin…  It was invigorating and blissful at the same time.  Then, after pick-up, I pour over the syllabus and every single flyer that comes home in that first weekly envelope and stock up on my son’s favorite Lunchables (ham and American cheese-bleh!) and fill out those “Getting To Know You” forms as if they’re Ivy League college applications.

To all the parents who were singing hallelujah as they peeled rubber out of that school parking lot, I was right there with you.  Until I wasn’t.  Because now, the routine sets in and I’m starting to panic that the summer was too short.  That my kids are growing up too fast.  That I’ll spend my weekdays alone, eating the hated snack-sized bags of white cheddar Cheez-Its abandoned in the back of my pantry, with nothing but old episodes of Teen Titans Go on the DVR to keep me company. (Disclaimer:  I know limited time flavor Cheez-Its and cartoons sound pathetic but it’s either that or drink wine while I watch Real Housewives. And, let’s face it, Vicki Gunvalson isn’t going to come bail me out of jail if I get popped for a DUI while on carpool duty.)

So instead of working on my next book, I’m sitting here missing my kiddos and wishing we still had one more week to go to the beach, to hang out at the pool with friends, to eat dripping ice cream cones in the hot sun while wearing our damp bathing suits.  And I’m circling June 8 on my calendar, writing in the brightest red pen I can find, “BACK TO SUMMER!”