Newsletter – August 2017


Hi, friends and readers,

Summer is already winding down. Kids will go to the elementary school across the street next Monday, and Jacob, my local grandson, will start middle school at the dedicated sixth-grade school. It’s a school year of “firsts” in my family: Maddie, the oldest grandchild, is already off to Boulder where she’ll attend Colorado University; Eden, her sister, goes into high school, and Morgan, my Tomball granddaughter goes into middle school, starting seventh grade.

Left: Yay, Maddie! / Right: The boys with their coach


I’m sure every year each of us says, “I can’t believe summer is over. Where did it go?” For me, it went in a flurry of writing, welcome visits from children and grandchildren, a visit to my son’s house and Camp Tomball. But here in Texas, summer temperatures will linger on through September. Usually we welcome that first touch of fall around the first of October.

For me, it will be an exciting fall. I’m delighted to tell you that Pigface and The Perfect Dog, the second Oak Grove Mystery featuring Susan Hogan and Jake Phillips, will launch September 7 in paperback and e-book editions. For those of you in Fort Worth and nearby, watch your email for details. Hope you’ll all come and bring a friend.

In Pigface and The Perfect Dog, Susan clashes with a group of open-carry protesters who have moved into Oak Grove, carrying their rifles in grocery stores and even Subie’s Café. In spite of Jake’s best efforts, some from a hospital bed, Susan launches her own investigations, including an ill-fated trip into the woods at night. Before it’s all over, Oak Grove has seen a shooting, a break-in, vandalism, threats, a clandestine spy trip to the woods, and two attempted kidnappings. Susan, of course, is in the middle of most of it.

The perfect dog? There are two, and you’ll have to choose between them. Aunt Jenny will tell you her sweet Lucy is the perfect dog, but can you hear Judge John Jackson harrumphing in the background? And Susan, who never wanted a dog, will eventually tell you that Grace is the perfect dog. Each dog is indeed perfect in her way.

Life in a small college town in West Texas isn’t as peaceful as it’s often cracked up to be.

Pigface and The Perfect Dog will be available in print from Amazon; e-book will be available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, 24 Symbols, Apple iBooks, Inktera, Playster, Scribd and Tolino.

Have you read the first Oak Grove Mystery, The Perfect Coed? If not, now’s the time. Find it at Amazon available in either print or e-book.

Here’s what some critics have said about Susan Hogan’s debut adventure:

“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, mystery author


“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.”

—D. Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review


There’s a new title in the Blue Plate Café Mysteries in the works—Murder at the Bus Depot. Look for it sometime in the late spring 2018. I have a good start, but it’s lately been more important to get your bookmark into Pigface and The Perfect Dog.

And speaking of bookmarks, there will be one available for Pigface. If you want one and aren’t at my signing, can’t get it from the bookstore, you can download it from my website at

(Pictured on left: Book cover of Murder at the Blue Plate Café, the first in the series. Available from Amazon.)

Also coming this fall: Sleuthing Women II: 10 Novellas, a digital anthology which will include The Color of Fear. Watch for details online in October. I’ll post details in my blog, Judy’s Stew, too.

From my kitchen…a cool meal for the last dog days of summer

I spent a lot of time in my postage-stamp kitchen this summer, cooking and trying out new recipes. I’m calling myself the gourmet on a hot plate these days, since I have no stove or oven, just a hot plate and a toaster oven. Here’s an idea I tried with what I thought was great success. You can cook it for one, as I did, or keep adding for family and friends.

Leftovers and pasta (invent a better name before you serve it)

One evening I was preparing to leave town the next day and wanted to use up what I could from the refrigerator. Prowling around, I found some good, thinly sliced ham left from a sandwich project, a stub of zucchini, and some asparagus that wouldn’t last much longer. I had spinach fettuccine n the cupboard—just the right amount. (Pictured on right: Not related to this article, but it’s food related. Granddaughter Morgan tries her hand at being a chef.)

I sliced the zucchini thin, julienned the ham, and cut the asparagus into bite-size pieces. I used salt and pepper generously on the vegetable. Then a dollop of butter—maybe 1/8 cup– went into the skillet, and I sautéed the vegetables a bit longer than the ham—they needed to cook slightly but not too much, but the ham was precooked. When the vegetables were crisp-tender, I added the ham and well-drained pasta to the skillet, stirred, and then gently blended in a good-sized dollop (heaping tablespoon) of sour cream. The dish heated on low until thoroughly warm. Just before dishing it up, I added ground Parmigiana from the freezer and stirred it in. Surprised myself both at how good it was and how much I ate.

This dish gave me vegetables, protein, and carbs and was sort of based on the principle of pasta primavera, I think you could do it with any number of vegetables. Mushrooms would be good; so would cherry tomatoes halved, green peas, green beans—use your imagination. Prosciutto or bresaola would make a good protein, or you can always crumble crisp bacon in near the end of cooking. Use heavy cream or even half-and-half for the cream sauce, or leave it a butter sauce and maybe squeeze some fresh lemon juice over it.

(Pictured on left: Not related to this article either. Yummy meatloaf dinner from the other night.)

Bon appetit!

Enjoy the rest of your summer and drive safely.


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