Chili, Recipes, and Murder Comes First — Oh My!

Murder at Peacock Mansion

Arson, a bad beating, and a recluse who claims someone is trying to kill her all collide in this third Blue Plate Café Mystery with Kate Chambers.

Torn between trying to save David Clinkscales, her old boss and new lover, and curiosity about Edith Aldridge’s story of an attempt on her life, Kate has to remind herself she has a café to run. She nurses a morose David, whose spirit has been hurt as badly as his body, and tries to placate Mrs. Aldridge, who was once accused of murdering her husband but acquitted. One by one, Mrs. Aldridge’s stepchildren enter the picture. Is it coincidence that David is Edith Aldridge’s lawyer? Or that she seems to rely heavily on the private investigator David hires? First the peacocks die…and then the people. Everyone is in danger, and no one knows who to suspect.

Publication date: November 11th, 2015

Want a sneak peek of this book? Here, enjoy the first chapter: Chapter One – Murder at Peacock Mansion

It’s almost here!

Texas is Chili Country
Published by Texas Tech Press

It’s almost chili weather so it’s time to bone up on the history, folklore and cooking of chili. Texans love to eat, and one dish they can’t get enough of is chili—so much so that chili con carne is Texas’s state meal. This seemingly simple staple of Texan identity proves to be anything but, however. Beans or no beans? Beef, pork, or turkey? From a can or from scratch?

Texas Is Chili Country is a brief look at the favored fare—its colorful history, its many incarnations, and the ways it has spread both across the country and the world. The history includes chuckwagon chili, the chili queens of San Antonio, the first attempts at canned chili, the development of chili societies and the subsequent rivalries between them, and the rise of chili cook-offs.

And what would a book about chili be without recipes? There are no-fat recipes, vegan recipes, and recipes from Mexican-American cooks who have adapted this purely American food. Some have been tried, but many are taken on faith. Recipes are included from state celebrities such as Ladybird Johnson, Governor Ma Ferguson, and chili king Frank Tolbert.

Available October 15th in your local bookstore or on several digital platforms, including Amazon

We’d Rather Be Writing

Most people know, from my books and blogs, that I love to cook, so I’m pleased and proud be be part of another writers cookbook project. Much as I love it, cooking often takes up a huge chunk of time. In We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips you’ll find easy, nutritious recipes for meat, poultry, pasta, soup, stew, chili, and vegetarian meals. All of the recipes require a minimum of prep time, freeing you up to read, exercise, garden, craft, write, spend more time with family, or whatever.

Thanks to Lois Winston for coming up with the idea and pulling it all together in time for great Christmas gifts. The authors who contributed to this book are a creative and resourceful bunch when it comes to carving out time from their busy lives. So in addition to timesaving recipes, within the pages of this book you’ll find timesaving and organizational tips for other aspects of your life. And if you happen to be a writer, you’ll also find a plethora of great ideas to help you organize your writing life.

Available now for pre-order on Amazon.

E-book delivers November 1; print to follow.

July News

Please enjoy my May 2015 newsletter (you can join my mailing list to receive my occasional newsletters).

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Pleased and proud to announce that I was inducted into the Western Writers of America, Inc., Hall of Fame on June 26 in Lubbock, Texas. The event was made even more special because all four of my children accompanied me as a cheering section.

Until this year, only deceased authors were inducted into the Hall of Fame. This year they inducted several celebrities—living and deceased—along with all living recipients of the WWA Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement. I received that award in 2005.

Clint Eastwood didn’t show up, but I did get to visit with Barry Corbin when were on a panel together.

Celebrating with beeritas before the ceremony. The one in front of me does not belong to me—I drank water with my tacos.

Holding my trophy with three of my four children around me.

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Now available as an ebook on several platforms:

Jessie, a fictional biography of Jessie Benton Frémont

Educated, ambitious, and brilliant in a time not quite ready for her, Jessie elopes with the young explorer Charles Frémont, at the age of seventeen, defying the wishes of her father, the powerful Senator Thomas Hart Benton.

Jessie expected a life of boundless adventure. Instead, the two most important men in her life are about to alter the course of 19th century American history—but only with her help.

You can get it on:

This is number four in the Real Women of the American West Series—previous titles are Libbie, Sundance, Butch and Me, and Cherokee Rose.

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What’s on my desk now…

Watch for the third Blue Plate Mystery this fall. I hope to have Murder at Peacock Mansion available in print and ebook in October—great timing to give it as a Christmas gift.

Texas is Chili Country will launch in November from Texas Tech Press. Complete with a brief history of the state dish of Texas and a lot of recipes. Do you scorn beans in chili or add them—read about this divisive issue plus the growing popularity of chili cook-offs.

And I’m waiting on word from publishers about my Chicago historical, The Gilded Cage. One way or another I hope to publish it in the Spring.

Desperate for Death

My latest book, Desperate for Death, was released in May! Here’s the book’s blurb:

Just when Kelly’s life has calmed, she faces yet another of life’s puzzles. Except the pieces in this one don’t fit. First the apartment behind her house is torched, then a string of bizarre “accidents” occur to set her off-balance. Who is stalking her? Where does the disappearance of a young girl and her disreputable boyfriend fit in? And why are two men using the same name? Is the surprise inheritance another part of the puzzle? At a time when she is most vulnerable, Kelly can’t make the pieces fit, but she knows she must protect her daughters. Before Kelly can get the whole picture, she helps the family of a hostage, rescues a kidnap victim and attends a wild and wonderful wedding

You can get it on: and

The Perfect Coed

Susan Hogan is smart, pretty-and prickly. There was no other word for it. She is prickly with Jake Phillips and her Aunt Jenny, the two people who love her most in the world. And she is prickly and impatient with some of her academic colleagues and the petty jealousies in the English department at Oak Grove University. When a coed’s body is found in her car and she is suspected of murder, Susan gets even more defensive.

But when someone begins to stalk and threaten her-trying to run her down, killing the plants on her deck, causing a moped wreck that breaks her ankle-prickly mixes with fear. Susan decides she has to find the killer to save her reputation-and her life. What she suspects she’s found on a quiet campus in Texas is so bizarre Jake doesn’t believe her. Until she’s almost killed.

The death of one coed unravels a tale of greed, lust, and obsession.


Here’s what the critics are saying:

Judy Alter’s cozies always move through mysterious twists and turns at a strong pace, and the characters and events in The Perfect Coed carry on her tradition. For any cozy mystery reader fan, The Perfect Coed is a delightful read from start to the surprising ending, and makes me hope we’ve not seen the last of Susan, Jake, and Aunt Jenny. —Story Circle Book Reviews

Few mysteries open with a single paragraph of eye-popping intrigue, but The Perfect Coed is full of such moments and its introduction is apt warning that readers will rapidly become involved in something far from mundane or predictable: “Susan Hogan drove around Oak Grove, Texas, for two days before she realized there was a dead body in the trunk of her car. And it was another three days before she knew that someone was trying to kill her.” —Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Reviews

Susan is a prickly character, and she doesn’t put up with any guff from her male colleagues, the cops, or even Jake. Aunt Jenny is funny and a great cook. I have a feeling all these characters will be returning for a sequel, so you’ll want to pick this one up now before you get behind. You won’t regret it. —Bill Crider, author of Sheriff Dan Rhodes Series