Thursday, December 1, 2016

How About a Good Book for Christmas?

I thought I would share with my loyal followers a bit of good news.  As most of you know I have written a couple of mostly fiction books, but based on true events, and have self-published them.  The Justin Gates Chronicles is a trilogy, the first in the series being subtitled “California Nightmare” and the second “Texas Daydream”.  A few months ago I entered the 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards competition.  The results will be announced and published in March.  However, as a part of the competition each book submitted is read by one of the editors of this prestigious writer’s magazine and the work rated on a scale of 1-5 (see below) and a brief editorial review written about the work.  I just got the results for the first book, California Nightmare, and I wanted to share them with you.  I was pretty happy with an overall ranking of 4.5 out of 5 and the praise of the judge in his review below:

Entry Title The Justin Gates Chronicles - California Nightmare
Author: Jud Smith 
Judge Number: 22
Entry Category: Genre Fiction

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 4

Judge’s Commentary*:

The Justin Gates Chronicles: California Nightmare presents with a cover that is really standout and attention grabbing.  I really like this one!  Well done.
There’s a saying that a family friend of mine says about teenage boys…”all they can think about is lipstick and gasoline” and this character holds true that saying.  Author Jud Smith has penned a character in Justin Gates that will stick with you and drive you off into his world of teenage angst mixed with some murder, mayhem, and danger.
What more could a reader ask for?  The plot was well thought out, carefully designed and masterfully written.  I simply loved this book.  No pacing issues or other developmental defects. 
On the technical side, the editing was mostly well done.  Keep an eye on your use of dialogue tags.  For instance, you don’t need to type “I thought to myself” for internal dialogue and include quotations.  You simple need to write that internal dialogue in italics.  Small details such as these should be caught and corrected by a professional editor.
This was a fine entry and I was thrilled to meet Justin and this well written cast.  I hope to read more from this author and thank you for sharing your imagination with us! - Judge. 24th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards 

Some of you may know that I had California Nightmare produced into a screenplay by the very talented and award winning screen writer, David L. Carter.  This work was also submitted to Writer’s Digest for their annual screenplay competition and I am pleased to report we actually won “Honorable Mention” out of over 6,000 entries (see below).  I am very pleased with these results for a first time submission:

Among the ten competition categories, there were over 6,000 entries in total – our judges were very impressed! As you already know, your entry was selected to represent your entries category as a Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition Honorable Mention Winner; and we understand how important bragging rights can be!

The world of book writing and publishing is fraught with challenges.  Today, everyone is a writer; of books and novels, of short stories and Facebook posts, of blogs and Tweets.  Soon there will be more writers than readers to read all of the writing. But until then success in book writing and distribution hinges on, perhaps surprisingly, not advertising or public relations or even conventional publishing houses promotion, but rather successful word of mouth.  Basically, friends spreading the word about a good book they would recommend to other friends.  

SO, if you are struggling to come up with that unusual Christmas or holiday gift this season, or you are looking for a way to say thank you to someone, or just want a good read for yourself, might I suggest one (or both) of my books.  They are easily available on or and can be ordered and shipped in a matter of minutes, in both paperback and digital reader (Kindle) download versions.  Follow these two links, below, and help a starving writer feed his family for another week.  O.K., well, maybe that is a bit over the top but you could at least bring joy to someone’s life.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

God's Perfect Sight

This is the 41st letter I am writing to my grandchildren.  They are part of a new book I am writing called Grandpa's Pearls.  You can wait until the book is published or you can preview many of them on this blog site, under the tab - The Pearls.

April 30, 2016

Dearest Ruby, Eliana and Gehrig,

It was so good seeing you, G&E, on my recent trip up north.  You are getting so big and turning into the most amazing young people I know.  Your cousin Ruby is not far behind. Granny and I can't wait for the three of you to come to Texas for Camp PK again this year. It will be so much fun!

Almost every morning I go for a walk as part of my exercise routine.  At your age you don't need an exercise routine.  You guys burn more calories in an hour than I do all day just being kids.  I envy you for your youthful energy.  

Anyway, at our age we need all the encouragement we can get to stay healthy and fit. So, for Christmas, Granny and I bought each other  fitness watches.  They are made by Fitbit.  You wear them 24/7, only taking them off to shower or to charge the battery. These devices record almost everything that is going on in your life.  The number of steps you take every day, the number of calories you burn and the amount of calorie you consume.  The watch monitors, reports and records your heartrate - number of beats per minute - the miles you have traveled and even the number of floors you climb or descend each day.  It even records your sleep - telling you how many times you woke up at night, how many times you were restless and the total amount of quality sleep you actually had. Amazing technology.

Another feature is it records your exercise.  It has settings which record your activity running, walking, hiking, time on a treadmill, spinning, lifting weights and even yoga. When I go for my walks in the morning, I put it into "Hike" mode.  First thing it does is turns on the internal GPS (Global Positioning System) and identifies your exact location before you start your activity.  When it has found you, which only takes about a minute, the watch vibrates and you know it is time to start your walk.  It follows you everywhere you go; uphill, downhill, turns and straightaways.  Every move you make is monitored and recorded on your watch by being connected to a series of thirty satellites orbiting twelve and a half miles up into space.  It knows where you are every second within about five meters (sixteen feet) or less.

At the end of my walk the watch automatically downloads the information onto my laptop and I can view the route I have just walked and it tells me how many steps and miles I have covered.  How cool is that?

Normally on my hike everyday, I take some time to say my prayers and meditate.  It is peaceful being out in God's creation, breathing the fresh air, communing with the flora and fauna (flowers, animals and hundreds of birds singing to welcome the morning sun). Yesterday, as I was thanking God for the many blessings in my life, not the least of which is you three perfect people, the thought occurred to me, "I sure hope God knows how I feel and how thankful I am".  Then, by extension, I thought, "I wonder how God knows where I am right now."   Which kind of brings me to my next Pearl.

Forty-Second Pearl - "God's Perfect Sight"

Suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks.  I thought, of course God knows where I am.  If a watch can communicate with a satellite just twelve miles away and knows where I am within five meters, certainly His GPS - "God's Perfect Sight" - knows exactly where I am, every second of every day.  He sees me constantly and has been locked in on me since birth.  For the past 25,641 days or 616,104 hours, or 36,966,240 minutes or, even all 2,217,974,400 seconds God's Perfect Sight (GPS) has seen not only where I am but what I am doing, how I am behaving, what acts of kindness (or cruelty) are a part of my day and how I am doing as a Christian.  

Now some people might recoil at this thought of an all knowing, all seeing God.  They might look at it like the millions of surveillance cameras in use on every street and intersection in thousands of cities and many business establishments nationwide.  Some might see those as an invasion of privacy.  But with God's Perfect Sight it is totally different.  His GPS is there to help us, encourage us, support us, protect us and remind us that we are here on earth for a special purpose, His purpose, to follow Christ and help others to do the same.

I, for one, am glad that God has his eye on me and knows where I am always.  It means he is close to me and cares without judging.  He has his GPS on you too and that, my dears, should be a very comforting thought.

I love you bunches and bunches,

Grandpa Jud  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Sequel is HERE!

For those of you who have read my first book, The Justin Gates Chronicles - California Nightmare, and liked it, you are going to love the sequel.

The Justin Gates Chronicles - Texas Daydream has just been published and by accounts from early readers is even better than the first book in this trilogy.  Here is a synopsis:

It has been just three short years since Justin Gates helped solve a serial killer mystery in his native California.  Now attending the University of Texas in Austin, he is up to his ears in another.  College coeds are being murdered and posed in compromising positions.

With no substantial evidence, no solid suspects, and no trail to follow the experienced Detective Walls and his attractive new partner, Rebecca Townzen, attempt to uncover who is this predator taking these young lives.  Justin’s previous experience, and his passion for psychology and behavioral science all contribute to him finding himself in the line of fire once again.

Based on true events, this psychological suspense/mystery takes place on the sprawling, southern college campus known as the Forty Acres from 1964 to 1967 against the backdrop of local and national unrest.

College life in the 1960’s has never been more exciting.  Society and mores are changing radically and new openness and attitudes prevail.  These realities are captured through the use of brilliant characters immersed in outrageous situations with frequent laugh-out-loud outcomes, while surrounded by dark forces and evil deeds. This is the backdrop for a murder mystery which the reader will be challenged to solve before the very end.  An ending few will ever forget.

Once again, this book is based on true events and our protagonist, Justin, is older and wiser as he faces yet another test of his skills as an amateur sleuth while meeting and courting the love of his life.

You can order your copy, either in paperback or as a digital version for your Kindle, IPad, or other reader, at, Barnes & or other online book stores.  Start your search at the following site:

(Copy and paste into your browser address)

If you like this book, please recommend it to your family and friends.  And, please, feel free to write a review on Amazon.  Every little bit helps.  Thanks!