Newsletter – May 2017

MAY 2017

Oh, happy day! Kelly O’Connell is back. Well, sort of. Keisha tells the story in my new novella, The Color of Fear. You can find it as an ebook on a wide variety of digital platforms—Kindle, Kobo, B&N, Apple, and others. In print, it’s available from Amazon.

The Color of Fear marks my return to mystery fiction and the Kelly O’Connell series after an absence of more than a year. Some of you know that two major, traumatic events kept me from my computer: complicated hip surgery, which followed several months of undiagnosed but excruciating pain, and the move from my three-bedroom house to a 600 square-foot cottage. Surgery in January took away the pain, and I am feeling strong and healthy, but I can’t yet walk without a walker and am not allowed to drive a car. I remain highly optimistic that those things get a little closer every day.

The move to the cottage was my choice and remains my delight. I love my little hideaway and am almost perfectly comfortable with everything I need—living area, office, fancy bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen area. Only the kitchen leaves me wanting more. Because of zoning restrictions, I have neither stove nor oven, but I am learning to make do with an amazing magnetic hot plate—and the oven in the main house where my daughter and her husband and son now live.

As I told the doctor recently, I’m writing, I’m cooking, and I’m wearing make-up again. All sure signs of recovery. The Color of Fear is the first thing I’ve written from start to finish since the surgery, except for blogs.

The Color of Fear also marks a return for Kelly O’Connell, who took a year or more out to have a baby—Cynthia Grace Shandy. Keisha kept the real estate office running, so it’s only fitting that this time Keisha narrates the short tale wherein Kelly and her family live under the threat of infant Gracie’s kidnapping. The story serves as a reprise of many of the previous novels in the series, as Keisha, in her search for the kidnapper, recalls Kelly’s earlier adventures.

Keisha remains outspoken and independent and her voice is clear and strong as she balances her need to protect Kelly and her family with her love for new husband, José Thornberry. Some but not all of Kelly’s friends and foes from previous stories appear here, along with such new characters as Clyde, the guard dog, and Cowboy, the homeless guy with a soft heart.

I hope you’ll all welcome Kelly and her clan back into your hearts.

What’s coming next?

I’m in the editing phase now of an as-yet untitled sequel to The Perfect Coed (Amazon | Goodreads). Susan Hogan, her significant other Jake Phillips, her beloved Aunt Jenny, and Aunt Jenny’s companion Judge John Jackson will all be in the unfolding events, while Susan’s former antagonist, Lt. Dirk Jordan, shows a surprising soft side and becomes a trusted friend. The story begins with the discovery of the body of a college student in a ranch field outside the town of Oak Grove. The controversy over open carry of rifles—where, when, and by whom—is at the center of this novel, but it’s also very much a story about a couple of dogs and about women, good and bad. I’ll welcome any title suggestions because nothing strikes me as right yet.

If you haven’t yet read The Perfect Coed, now might be the perfect time (pun intended).

And on down the road….

I have tentative plans for so many writing projects that I may never get them written. But I’m excited about notes for the fourth Blue Plate Café Mystery and what happens when a city developer decided to “save” a small town, using the old, abandoned bus depot as a symbol. One problem—the depot was the scene of an unsolved murder, now a cold case. Will the developer’s meddling unmask the killer? Kate will of course be in the middle of things, backed up by David Clinkscales who is increasingly important in her life.

And then Kelly’s friends will want another adventure from her…. not sure what kind of trouble she and Keisha get into this time.

I keep making random notes for a memoir, maybe focusing on my last difficult year but also maybe telling more of the story of my life. As incidents from the past pop up in my mind and in my blog, I find I do have a larger story to tell. I’ve had my share of heartbreak but in a larger sense I feel I’ve led a charmed life with lots of adventures, plenty of good friends, and wonderful family. Either way, “Judy’s Stew,” the blog I continue daily will be a great source for me.

My patio gets a lot of use!

From my kitchen….

I’m loving being back in the kitchen again and want to share a couple of recipes I’ve enjoyed lately. Both are adapted from longer, more complicated recipes.

Lamb chop

I enjoy cooking one thick loin chop for my dinner sometimes. The other night I browned it in olive oil, took it out of the pan, and made a sauce. Here’s what to do: Sauté a chopped scallion and a minced garlic clove in the olive oil over medium heat. Add some white wine, a bit of lemon juice, and a really good squeeze (or two) of anchovy paste. Blend ingredients and return chop to skillet to cook through. The sauce was so good I defrosted a couple of baguette slices to use up the remaining sauce.

Cucumber/avocado/feta salad

This is good with the lamb—a nice refreshing contrast. Slice one cucumber (I prefer to peel them) in bowl and add 1 minced shallot, 1 chopped scallion, 2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley or cilantro, and 4 Tbsp. crumbled feta. Salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, cut one avocado into bite-size chunks. Stir in, and dress the salad with juice of one-half lemon and one small lime.

Sophie sends greetings from her new favorite spot….


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