The peace of the morning

It’s quiet as I write this.

My house is rarely quiet, but at this moment, the only noise is the clacking of my keyboard. My husband is gone to work and everyone else is still asleep.

I would go outside, where the only noise would be keyboards and birds, but the humidity is too much right now.

I have checked my email, read my blogs, perused my social media. The day job awaits, as does the hours of writing I did not get done yesterday, and the task of taking my son for his learner’s permit test.

It’s a moment when the whole world seems to be holding its breath.

I know people who are intimidated by moments like this. They need constant action and noise to feel comfortable. I think that’s a shame. The quiet like this is so perfect for so many things…energizing for the day, prayer, meditation, solving a tough plot problem. In a life filled with tasks, technology, selfies, social media, and the like, this solemn silence is sacred. And so unusual that maybe it’s not so odd that people are intimidated by being silent and alone.

<pause to soak up the silence>

Thump, slam. Someone’s up. Silent time is over.

Readers, what about you? Do you enjoy your silent alone time? What’s your favorite spot to enjoy a peaceful moment?

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Low Down Dirty Vote

A couple of months ago, I received an email about a new short story anthology. Low Down Dirty Vote was a collection of stories centered around the theme of voter fraud (how topical, right?). Proceeds from sale benefited the ACLU. The collection was edited by Mysti Berry and featured a forward from the Legal Director of ACLU Nebraska. It sounded…intriguing.

Then I saw the list of authors and I thought, “I have to get my hands on this.”

Luckily, I was able to do so…and even more lucky to get contributor and Mysterista friend Catriona McPherson agree to answer a few questions.

LM: How did you get involved with this anthology? What about the project attracted you?

CP: Mysti Berry got in touch and told me about it. My first thought – as I was still reading the email and before I knew what the collection was about – was that I’d love to work with Mysti on whatever she was doing. Then when I read the theme “voter suppression” my heart soared. Very often the theme of a collection is either just a hook or it’s something you’ve thought about a lot or even written about before. This was completely new to me and caused a such an efflorescence of ideas I felt like a mushroom farm. Also, you know, the ACLU and the protection of democracy. That didn’t hurt.

LM: We all know your novels, from Dandy Gilver, to Lexy Campbell, to the stand-alones. Have you done a lot of short fiction? What do you see as the biggest challenges and/or differences between writing novels and short stories?

CP: Hardly any. I’ve written over twenty novels but only thirteen short stories. Nine of these are published (or in the works) and, of the other four, two were apprentice pieces (they stink) and two were written up after collaborative workshops to give back to the students as a takeaway from the class. One of these I did overnight! That’s the thing I love about short stories. The first draft can be written in a splurge. My favourite place to do the first draft of a short story is a long flight. Coast to coast and then over to Scotland gives me two 6+ hour bouts of writing. I enjoy being able to hold a whole idea in my attention at once. Writing a novel makes you let go of the beginning so long before you can glimpse the end. It’s not a comfortable process for me. Also, I write the Dandy Gilver novels in first person, but the “World of Gilverton” shorts let me inhabit secondary characters. It’s a lot of fun. Maybe if I write enough of them I can have an anthology one day. But I’d need to crack on because I’ve got three so far.

LDDV-coverLM: The theme of this collection is very topical given the current political climate in the US. Coming from Scotland, do you think the theme resonates as strongly in non-US markets?

CP: I can’t speak for anywhere except the UK really – maybe just Scotland – but I know that people over there who’re interested in politics at all want to understand what’s happening over here. Also the Brexit surprise was similar enough to the Trump surprise to have British people paying closer than usual attention. I’m not sure how much people understand exactly what the ACLU is but everyone understands what voter suppression is, right? It’s still hard to wrap my head around the fact that there are sentient people who try prevent democracy from functioning. Do they think we can’t see what they’re doing? Or that we can’t work out why? You know when babies cover their eyes and believe themselves to be invisible . . . ? One of the weirdest conversations I’ve had about this collection was with someone who evidently couldn’t tell the difference between wanting to register people who’d vote for you and wanting disenfranchise people who’d vote for the other team.

LM: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the project?

CP: I particularly love the way that so many wildly different stories have come out of what looks like such a narrow theme. (There’s that mushroom farm again.) Kris Calvin is a friend of mine and she shared a worry that her story would have echoes in other contributions. To test the hypothesis, she told me what her starting point was and I went away to try to come up with the most on the nose interpretation I could. It was nothing like Kris’s wonderful story, of course! Thats my favourite thing about being part of a themed anthology: when you get to see what the other authors came up with and marvel at the diversity of our imaginations.

*****

About Low Down Dirty Vote

This anthology of short crime fiction raises funds to help the ACLU fight voter suppression. Authors: Kris Calvin, Alison Catharine, Ray Daniel, David Hagerty, Mariah Klein, Derek Marsh, Jr., Catriona McPherson, Camille Minichino, Ann Parker, Travis Richardson, and James W. Ziskin.

Stories are set from Edinburgh to the San Francisco Bay Area and points in between. Some are ripped from 21st-century headlines, others explore the challenges of women voting for the first time in Wyoming during the 19th century.

Each writer has challenged themselves to experiment with form, point of view, or voice. Low Down Dirty Vote is a fabulous collection of stories from award-winning writers and brand new voices. Sales receipts go to the ACLU Foundation to help fight voter suppression.

This volume features a foreward by Amy A. Miller, Legal Director of ACLU Nebraska, and is edited by Mysti Berry.

A fireside chat with Susan Spann

The first time I picked up one of Susan Spann’s Hiro Hattori novels, I wondered if I’d connect to a duo of male detectives in medieval Japan: one a Jesuit priest, one a ninja assassin.

I shouldn’t have worried.

I fell in love with the world Susan created. So when I got the opportunity to pick up an ARC of her newest, Trial on Mount Koya, I jumped. And I am so geeked out when Susan agreed to answer a few questions.

LM: The pairing of a non-believing shinobi and a devout Catholic priest is unusual. How did you come up with that?

SS: The idea for a ninja detective came to me by surprise. One morning in 2011, I was putting on eyeliner, getting ready for my day job as a publishing lawyer, when I had the strange thought: most ninjas commit murders, but Hiro Hattori solves them. I knew immediately that this was a book, and a series, I had to write.

Trial on Mount Koya_CoverPairing Hiro with Jesuit Father Mateo was more of a conscious, practical decision. I wanted a “Holmes and Watson” feel, as well as a character who could serve as a filter to make certain aspects of traditional Japanese culture more accessible to Western readers. Who better to offset an agnostic ninja than a Jesuit priest?

LM: What a perfect idea. And while applying makeup, love it.

This is the sixth book (I believe) and in it, Father Mateo references being in Japan for a little over four years. In some ways he seems to be adapting well to Japanese culture, and in others he is still very much a “fish out of water.” How does this help you drive the story?

SS: Father Mateo allows me to explain certain intricate or esoteric details of Japanese culture, without slowing the pace or plot. He’s curious, and smart, so he needs less explanation as the series progresses—but because he isn’t Japanese, he’ll always need (and ask for) more information about things he doesn’t understand.

His foreign perspective is also helpful in terms of solving crimes. He wasn’t raised with Japanese traditions, which allows him to think more laterally than Hiro in some situations.

LM: I get a definite “Holmes and Watson” feel from these characters, with Hiro as Holmes and Father Mateo as Watson. Is this how you see the characters? Why or why not?

SS: I’m delighted to hear you say this, because it’s precisely what I had in mind in creating them. As the series progresses, Father Mateo refuses to stay in the background quite as much as Dr. Watson did at times in the Sherlock Holmes adventures, but I absolutely see Hiro and Father Mateo as the Holmes and Watson of samurai-era Japan.

LM: Maybe Father Mateo is more like the modern Watson of the Benedict Cumberbatch era.

Before I even read the acknowledgements, I got a “locked room mystery” vibe from this book. You describe it as your “love letter” to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (a favorite of mine). So may years after the “Golden Age” of mysteries, why do you think locked room mysteries continue to fascinate readers?

SS: Mystery readers (and mystery writers!) love puzzles—it’s a major reason why we keep coming back to the genre. Mysteries challenge us to think, and the more complicated (or apparently impossible) the mystery is to solve, the more we like to match our wits against the detectives and “ride along” as they solve the crime.

Locked room mysteries, ticking clocks, and the heightened drama that accompanies them are particularly engaging for me, and I think for readers too. It engages and rewards our logical brains as well as our imaginations—I think that’s a major part of the reason they continue to thrill and entertain.

LM: I agree. Figuring out the puzzle is a great draw of all mysteries. At least for me.

Without getting to spoiler-y, the ending leaves things very open for Hiro and Father Mateo. Is there going to be more and where next?

There will indeed be more! I’m currently under contract for two more mysteries in the Hiro Hattori series (all of which are actually “Hiro and Father Mateo” books). Each book is set in a different location within Japan, and features a crime within a different facet of 16th century Japanese culture. Though they’re designed to be stand-alone (and can be read out of order), Hiro and Father Mateo’s friendship will continue to grow and develop as the books progress.

More specifically, the next book in the series (scheduled for publication by Seventh Street Books in July 2019) will take Hiro and Father Mateo to a village supposedly haunted by a vengeful ghost. Their mission—and they will have no choice but to accept it—is to uncover the reason for the killings and stop the phantom before it strikes again.

LM: Ooo, a ghost! Can’t wait.

Readers, hopefully Susan be able to pop in throughout the day to answer questions. In the meantime, if you’ve read Hiro and Father Mateo, who do you think is Holmes and who is Watson? And do you like locked room mysteries?

*****

Spann2_credit Mark StevensSusan Spann has a degree in Asian studies and a lifelong passion for Japanese history, language, and culture. Her first Hiro Hattori / Shinobi Mystery, Claws of the Cat, was a Library Journal mystery of the month and a Silver Falchion finalist for Best First Novel. She lives outside Sacramento, California with her husband, son, two cats, and an opinionated cockatiel. When not writing or traveling in Japan, she practices law, with a focus on publishing and business contracts. Her fifth Hiro Hattori novel, Trial on Mount Koya, will be released in July 2018.

 

Malice 30: A photo essay

So, my planning skills…aren’t always the best.

This post should have gone up the week after Malice Domestic 30, which was a phenomenal event (I got to meet another Mysterista – Becky Clark!). But I was busy. I had previously scheduled guest.

But I took lots of pictures and I wanted to share. Therefore, I present my photo essay of Malice 30, albeit a tad late.

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We started off with a group dinner of old friends.
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The lovely Alice Loweecey in great period garb, looking way to perky for this early on a Friday morning.
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And you know it’s going to be a good conference when you’re greeted by Dru Ann Love’s awesome smile!
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Malice-go-round is always fun – and Bruce Robert Coffin knows how to rock a fascinator!
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Art Taylor can rock a fascinator, too.
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My first panel – nominees for Best Short Story including Barb Goffman, Gretchen Archer, Deb Goldstein, Gigi Pandian (winner), and Art Taylor
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And then the nominees for Best Contemporary Novel: Louise Penny (winner), Margaret Aaron, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Annette Dashofy, Allison Brook, Ellen Byron
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Toastmaster Catriona MacPherson welcomed us Friday night (side note: I’m hiring Catriona the next time I need a Master of Ceremonies for anything).
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Bloggers extraordinaire – Kristopher Zgorski (BOLO Books) and Dru Ann Love (Dru’s Book Musings)
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I got to see my name in the program ad (and check out Keenan Powell’s cover top right)!
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All my Pittsburgh peeps dressed up and ready for the banquet.
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Obligatory photo of the decadent dessert.
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We wrapped things up with the New Author Breakfast.
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I had a great time in Bethesda, but there’s no place like home!

A fireside chat with James Ziskin

Every once in a while, I get embarrassed. Like recently, when I got the opportunity to score an ARC of James Ziskin’s latest Ellie Stone book. Now, I’ve been wanting to get to these for a while (yeah, yeah, you probably beat me to the punch). So my first reaction to the ARC was “hell to the yeah,” but then I thought, “Wait, don’t I have to start at the beginning?”

Screw it, I decided. This might be the kick in the pants I need.

Which it was.

DSP0101207I’m happy to report that the book is phenomenal – and if you are already an Ellie Stone fan, you’re probably thinking, “Well, duh, Liz.” And if you’re like me, and have inexplicably not read these books yet, I’m happy to report that the book is very readable — and you can gobble up this one, then go back to the beginning.

I’m equally happy (how many times can I use that phrase?) to say I immediately emailed to ask if James would answer a few questions and he was more than pleased to.

Without further ado…

LM: I loved Ellie’s voice. You probably get this a lot, but…I know authors who have a real challenge writing authentically from the viewpoint of the opposite gender. But Ellie never sounds anything but like a woman of her time period. Does this come naturally to you or do you have “experts” to keep you on track?

JWZ: I get that question a lot. Serves me right. I’ve asked myself the same thing for years. And I’ve come to realize that, besides listening better and striving to be empathetic toward a gender that is not my own, I’m more or less successful at creating a believable female voice thanks in part to the fifty-five years of distance between today and the early sixties. None of us is living in that time period. We’re all looking back through the lens of time. There are old movies, television shows, books, and newspapers, of course, and I use those resources and many more to hone Ellie’s voice. I can paint a character who is still surrounded and swamped by the expectations and prejudices and mindset of that period. I can even permit Ellie to be a little—just a touch—sexist herself, since everyone was back then.

As for experts to keep me on track, I have several trusted beta readers who fit the bill. My sister recently reminded me that good girls in the sixties were taught to keep their knees together. I just had to put that in the book.

LM: Betrayal and hypocrisy, and the results, struck me as big themes in A Stone’s Throw. Do you write with theme in mind or does it come out as you develop the story?

JWZ: Yes. I begin each book with the themes decided, at least in broad strokes. Of course better ideas come to me as I write, even though I outline and plot in advance. But the overarching themes don’t change. In A Stone’s Throw, I wanted to explore long-festering, cruel betrayal and its destructive effects on the people involved. Another theme that obsessed me in this book was the slow, slippery progression from good to bad. When do people cross the line?

LM: I’m so jealous. I can never identify “theme” until I’m at least done with the first draft, and I usually need people to bash me over the head with it even then.

I am ashamed to admit this was my first Ellie Stone book. What was gratifying was how I didn’t feel “lost” knowing this was not the first book in the series. I think it’s something every series author has to think about. Do you have particular tricks for making new readers like me feel “at home” in the series (and whet their appetites to go back)?

JWZ: I try to make each book stand on its own. One trick I use is to make sure I provide a brief recap of certain characters. It doesn’t have to be long. For instance, Ellie has to explain who Fadge is at the beginning of each book. And her nemesis at the newspaper, George “Georgie Porgie” Walsh. I usually have Ellie fire off a humorous insult at his expense or recall a memorable gaffe that he’s made in the past. In A Stone’s Throw, Ellie observes that sharpening pencils is the only skill George has that’s even remotely related to writing. This provides quick and painless insight into the character, as well as the contentious history he shares with Ellie.

Another thing I do with each book is a separate editing pass where I read exclusively looking for mentions of people or events from previous books. I believe I’ve explained how Ellie’s company car was driven into the lake by a drunken colleague—before it was fobbed off on her—in four books now. The key is not to be long-winded about it. One of my mantras for description is, “If it can’t be memorable, make it economical.”

LM: I love that; I’ll have to remember it for book 2.

Fadge speaks very knowledgeably about the race track and betting. Be honest: was this research or do you have some personal experience (and if so, what are your best tips – the only two times I attempted to bet on horse races I lost everything)?

JWZ: Most of my knowledge of the horse racing and betting comes from my teenage years when I used to go the races at Saratoga every August. I was a terrible gambler. No aptitude and no patience to pore over the Racing Form and handicap the horses. But knowing the results of the races in my book, I can tailor the fictional betting to make sense. And pay off. Or not. Growing up, I had a friend, Robert, who was the inspiration for Fadge’s character in these books. Robert was a scary bettor. A true plunger. He won big and lost big as well. And he lived life as if the clock was running out. Good thing, since he died of brain tumor at the age of thirty-five. A Stone’s Throw is dedicated to his memory.

LM: Maybe I should have gone over to the Erie County racetrack more growing up.

Ellie is an interesting character for me. She lives at a pivotal time in social history, and she definitely has opinions, but she doesn’t seem to wear them on her sleeve. For example, she’s very sensitive to people who make jokes or are critical of Jews, but she isn’t overtly Jewish. Was this something you set out to do or did you learn it about her personality as the character developed?

JWZ: As you see in A Stone’s Throw, an elderly bank executive’s attempts to lure Ellie back to the faith fail. But she cannot and, indeed, does not want to escape her Jewishness. She remains culturally Jewish even if she was raised by atheist parents. I definitely set out to paint her as an enlightened humanist, so, yes, it was part of her character from the start.

I would say that Ellie has a thicker skin about anti-Semitism than you might think, with the following proviso. She won’t lose sleep over a stale Jewish joke. Or even when her dear friend Fadge thoughtlessly uses the term “Jewish lightning” to describe arson. She gives him a sharp poke in the ribs for his trouble, by the way. But when people she likes and admires reject her for her Jewishness, it can knock the wind out of her. It’s a maddening prejudice that she can do nothing to change.

LM: James, thanks so much for answering the questions!

Readers, James graciously agreed to stop and answer questions throughout the day, so feel free to post your own!

A fireside chat with Randy Rawls

Randy Rawls was a guest on Mysteristas last year with a delightful Christmas-themed book. He’s back, this time promoting his new release Saving Dabba: A Beth Bowman Adventure.

It’s such a pleasure to be here to talk about my books and my history of writing. I’d love to tell you I was born to write and have been doing so since . . . Can’t do that. It would be a lie. I can say I was born to read, though, because I’ve been doing it as long as I remember. It’s probably good that I don’t have a copy of every book I’ve read because I’d have to rent a warehouse for storage. And I’d still be adding books to that warehouse. Reading is one pleasure no one will ever take from me.

From that reading pleasure comes my interest in writing. I started many books during my early adulthood but didn’t have the perseverance or patience to finish any of them. The stubby pencil approach was not to my liking. Then along came the desktop PC, and I, like many, many others, rediscovered writing. The days of the boom in books available to us was born. And I was in the stream.

Of course, like I said, I wasn’t born to write—honestly, I don’t think anyone is—so I had to learn. Since I was a career US Army officer who wrote many, many papers of various lengths during my career, I was sure I knew how to get the job done. NOT! With my first book—probably one of the worst ever written—I discovered my approach was one of ignorance. I simply did not know how to capture a story on paper. It was a far different world from anything I’d ever put together before. And so, I set out to learn and am still learning. The most critical thing I’ve learned is that writing fiction is an acquired skill. (Incidentally, I’ve written a book I named Randy’s Boot Camp to Writing Fiction to show what I learned the hard way.)

Now I’m up to book 15 and loving every minute of it. With Saving Dabba, I hope you’ll decide that I’ve reached some degree of ability. Saving Dabba takes a hard look at the professional demonstration business. Please understand I’m not talking about those who hit the streets with valid grievances. I truly believe in the First Amendment to the Constitution. I’m talking about those who use grievances, real or imagined, as a way to riches and fame. So, with that said, I wrote Beth into a situation with Friends Intent on The Environment (FITE), a 501c3 organization that brings its message to Coral Lakes. It’s an excellent name and attracts many followers. However, the concurrent brutal deaths of homeless people might be more than coincidence. The police are baffled, so Beth believes she must act or lose more of her friends. Infiltration of FITE appears to be the best approach.

David, Beth’s doctor boyfriend, prefers that Beth stay clear of the situation. However, he knows that once Beth makes up her mind, there is little that will change it, short of an atomic blast. So, to Beth’s surprise, he supports and participates with her. The police have their hands full trying to maintain order because of the “demonstrations,” but the violence runs beyond their control.

Dot, Beth’s homeless friend, disappears, leading to Beth’s problems. Everything is in such turmoil the situation seems beyond control.

The story behind Saving Dabba is raw, but my book presents a capsule look at things happening across our country. I invite you to read it. When you’re finished, you will have every right to yell at me if I’m overreaching. Or, if you have fears for our country as I do, you can nod your head.

*****

RandyRawls2017Randy Rawls was born and reared in Williamston, North Carolina, a small town in the northeastern part of the state. From there, he says he inherited a sense of responsibility, a belief in fair play, and a love of country. As a career US Army officer, he had the opportunity to learn, travel, teach, and hone talents inherited from his parents. Following retirement, he worked in other ventures for the US Government. Every job has in some way been fun. Even the dark days of Vietnam had their light moments, and he cherishes the camaraderie that was an integral part of survival in that hostile world.

Today, he has short stories in several anthologies, and a growing list of novels to his credit. As a prolific reader, the reads across several genres and takes that into his writing. He has written mysteries, thrillers, an historical, and two fantasy/mystery/thrillers featuring a Santa Elf. The count is now at fourteen and growing. He is a regular contributor to Happy Homicides, a twice annual anthology of cozy short stories. He also has a series of short stories featuring a cattle-herding burro. Wherever his imagination will take him, he follows.

www.randyrawls.com

https://www.facebook.com/randy.rawls.315

Buy Saving Dabba at Amazon

Buy Jingle and his Magnificent Seven at Amazon

A fireside chat with Judy Alter

I’m very happy to welcome back a previous visitor to Mysteristas, Judy Alter.

Who remembers small-town cafes? Cozy little spots with home cooking and fabulous desserts. Are they disappearing where you are?

The Small-town Café

Small-town cafes across the country are being crowded out by Dairy Queen, Subway, Sonic, and other chain fast-food service. We Texans of course think everything about our state is special and distinctive, and so it is with the slow food of a real down-home café. The Shed in Edom (on the Dallas edge of East Texas) is one such café. Not much has changed since the late seventies when my family and I first went to this cafe.

Edom is unusual among Texas towns in that it is home to a small craft colony and, occasionally in years past, a craft festival. You could browse the wares of a leatherworker, a ceramic artist, painter, potter, or silversmith and then share chicken-fried steak with the artists.

Chicken-fried steak is always on the menu and fresh home-made pies are always available, but daily specials vary from fried chicken to meatloaf, from pot roast to occasional enchiladas. On Saturday nights, it is always all-you-can-eat catfish and lemon meringue pie. Breakfast includes hot biscuits right out of the oven, and the coffee pot is on all day. I did once order a chicken salad sandwich and recognize the salad as having come straight from a Sam’s Warehouse plastic container.

People gather there as much for the camaraderie and local news as for the food. On Sundays, locals mingle with the church crowd and tourists. We used to go with Charles and Reva, friends who owned a guest ranch nearby. They were local favorites, and people would call out Charlie by name. Once I wrote an article identifying him as Uncles Charles for my children, and he said café patrons had a grand old time calling him Uncle Charles in jest. One Saturday night, he ordered the meringue pie and said to me, “See, Judy, no calories. It’s just spun air and egg whites. I pointed out that meringue has some sugar in it, and the custard base of the pie surely had a lot more. He replied, “Shut up, Judy.”

One way to judge a Texas café is to count the pickups in the parking lot. Several pickups mean good food; their absence is a strong hint to stay away. The section of highway between Wichita Falls and Amarillo is dotted with small towns, each with its own distinctive café. We never could remember the good places to eat, so we counted pickups and were rarely disappointed. The parking lot at The Shed is always full of pickups.

Searching for the thread to bind a new mystery series, I knew I wanted to write a culinary mystery, but I also knew my foodie skills were not up to the level of the dishes in a Diane Mott Davidson mystery. The Shed was a natural role model. I chose it, too, as a tribute to Charles and Reva. She had died by then, and he was in assisted living. I thought it might amuse and please him to help me plot mysteries in familiar territory. I hasten to add no one has ever been murdered or gotten food poisoning at The Shed, nor do I know of any murders in Wheeler. I used my fictional license.

I also created the central character, Kate, out of whole cloth, making the café a family tradition. Kate introduces new dishes to the menu—a tuna salad plate, for instance—and generally modernizes the place a bit. But she remains true to the tradition of Texas small-town cafes.

Want some chicken-fried steak? Eat at The Shed. Can’t make it to East Texas? Do the next best thing and read Murder at the Bus Depot, or the earlier Blue Plate Mysteries—Murder at the Blue Plate Café, Murder at Tremont House, and Murder at Peacock Mansion. Recipes included in every book. Find them all on my web page: http://www.judyalter.com.

*****

3x4.5hires (002)Dallas developer Silas Fletcher sees endless real estate opportunities in Wheeler, Texas if only he can “grow” the town. Blue Plate Café owner Kate Chambers likes her hometown just the way it is, thank you very much, without big box and chain stores. When Fletcher tries to capitalize on a thirty-year-old
der, Kate know she must fight for her town, and she uses historic preservation of the old bus depot as one of her weapons. A suspicious death and a new murder make her also fight for her own life.

*****

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Judy Alter is the award-winning author of three mysteries series: Kelly O’Connell Mysteries: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, Danger Comes Home, Deception in Strange Places, Desperate for Death, and The Color of Fear; three in the Blue Plate Café Series: Murder at the Blue Plate Café, Murder at the Tremont House, and Murder at Peacock Mansion; and two Oak Grove Mysteries: The Perfect Coed and Pigface and the Perfect Dog.

She is also the author of historical fiction based on lives of women in the nineteenth-century American West, including Libbie, Jessie, Cherokee Rose, Sundance, Butch, and Me, and The Gilded Cage, and she has also published several young-adult novels, now available on Amazon.