Guest Post & Giveaway: Penny Hudson – Winter’s Risk

Thank you for having me over in your lovely Tea Room! Personally, I drink tea by the gallon so this place appeals to me on a spiritual level. 😀

Spring has definitely sprung. Look at all those flowers! Fall is my favorite time of year to go hiking, but springtime runs a close second. For a short while in the spring before the annual drought sets in, everything is green and overgrown. The trail could go anywhere, and every year I see things I’ve never seen before, like this weird little shrub.

I have no idea what these are, but the bees love them.

Lizards do not care about random people and cameras… until they lean down for a close-up. Then they vanish! Magical disappearing abilities? They haz it.

I think it’s centipede season, we saw nine million of them, which makes approximately 857 trillion little crawly legs!

I like to practice my airbending via bouldering. The constant thrill of will-I-make-it-or-will-I-die gets my adrenaline flowing like nothing else. My friend decided to climb down and go the easier route. Me? I’m boulder-hopping my way across. Why? Because why not? (She thinks I’m banana-pants btw)

You’ll never know exactly what will happen when you go out into the wilderness. I never go out alone in case today is the day I fall and have to be airlifted out- like Martin in my book. When I set out to write Winter’s Risk, I wanted to tell a story about a beautiful wilderness area. People visit for a day of hiking or maybe a weekend of camping, but the animals live there full time. The casual interaction between a careless person doing something idiotic to create a good photo–for example, feeding bears–can have fatal consequences for future visitors.

Not to mention it won’t do the bear any good in the long run either. The book I wrote is different from the happy, fluffy-bunny story I meant to write (although it does have a happy ending) because nature isn’t a fluffy-bunny. The circle of life isn’t just a joke, it’s a way of life for animals. So I wrote about the tragic state of affairs when a bear associates people with food, and a park ranger discovers the environmentalist he loathes more than anything is the bear’s next victim.


Veteran park ranger Alexander Doyle is tracking a nuisance bear when he runs across obnoxious environmentalist Martin Ramirez. He and Martin have clashed before, when Martin and the protesters under his leadership ended a plan to expand the network of paved trails and improve accessibility. Given a choice, Alex would rather face the bear.

When the dangerous grizzly attacks them and Martin is gravely wounded, his only chance of survival is Alex’s determination to keep him alive through the night. But they’re stranded miles from any hope of rescue with the year’s first snowstorm coming in fast.


Excerpt: The excerpt is the moment when Alex is distracted from the bear’s trail by a hiker, Martin Ramirez, who just happens to be at least three spaces on his top ten list of people he could happily do without.

Alex’s lip lifted in a sneer. Fancy finding him all the way out here. For a moment he forgot he was trailing a bear that had already killed two people. He called out to the other man.

“It’s a little out of the way for a protest, don’t you think?”

He was gratified to see Martin jolt and drop his expensive camera. Pity he had a strap around his neck, and it didn’t plunge all the way to the bottom.

“What the hell?” Martin spun around and snapped right back, recognizing him immediately. “Doyle, it’s a free country. I can hike and take pictures if I want to.” He sounded rather petulant for a man pushing fifty, but he still acted like it was the 60s. Go flower power and all that crap.

Alex rubbed his shoulders against the tree, idly scratching his back. “I’m not after you, you big twat. Have you seen a grizzly? Two yellow tags?” He didn’t expect Martin to do something as civilized as help him, and he wasn’t disappointed.

Martin paused, considered his answer, and then jutted his chin out and glared. Alex had two decades of experience dealing with tourists, summertime volunteers, cheating boyfriends, and random idiots. Like the idiot standing in front of him. He knew he was about to hear a lie even before Martin answered like sugar wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

“No sir, Mr. Ranger, sir,” he said sweetly. “I haven’t seen anything bigger than a bird all day. Can I assist you further, Mr. Ranger, sir?”

“Don’t fuck with me,” Alex snarled, and walked to meet him on the edge. He could still see the girl’s mangled body if he closed his eyes. He jabbed a finger toward Martin’s chest, disgusted that he had ever bothered to ogle him from the treeline. It just wasn’t fair that someone so useless could have such a nice ass. Martin looked down at his finger and raised one perfect eyebrow.


“I don’t have time for your bleeding heart—”

The sharp crack of a stick breaking in the forest interrupted him.

“Shut up,” Alex growled, even though Martin wasn’t talking at that moment. He wheeled around to face the woods, rifle ready.

“Just shut up. It’s here.”


Winter’s Risk is available from
Dreamspinner Press and Amazon.

Giveaway: To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of Winter’s Risk to a randomly selected commenter once the tour ends. To enter, just comment on this post. The giveaway is open until July 21st.


A complete listing of blogs on the tour is available at my blog.

I hang out on twitter @AnyPennyH and chatter about beer and movies as often as books and hiking. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.