Tag Archives: Judy Alter

A day in the life of Keisha Thornberry by Judy Alter

José, my husband of less than a year, and I start the day at seven by going to breakfast at the Old Neighborhood Grill and catchin’ up on local news with Peter, the owner. If I didn’t have that breakfast with José, I couldn’t face what I do these days.

Today it’s jeans and an electric pink top that’s like a shortened muumuu—big, loose, and flowing. Last night I colored the tips of my spike-cut hair the same pink and painted my nails. A pair of pink stiletto heels, and I’m all set. José frowns at me. He doesn’t like the heels, ‘cause then I’m taller than he is. He’s tall and thin. I’m tall and big. We look like Jack Sprat and his wife—you know, “Jack Sprat could eat no fat/his wife could eat no lean/So between the two of them/They licked the platter clean.”

We’re still newlyweds, but my dream is well on its way. I set myself certain goals—gonna be married by the time I’m twenty-six. Made that. Gonna have my own home by twenty-seven, made that. We got a cute two-bedroom Craftsman. Got it at a steal, because, you see, I’m in the real estate business. That is, I work for Kelly O’Connell. She owns O’Connell and Spencer Real Estate agency where my official title is office manager, but it’s just her and me, and these days she’s barely interested in real estate, busy playing mama to her new baby, Cynthia Grace Shandy. That Gracie has brought more joy than I can tell you to Kelly, her husband Mike, and her two girls from a previous disaster with Tim Spencer, Maggie and Em.

I love my job, but these days it’s less real estate than it is taking care of Kelly and her family. You see, I got the sixth sense, so I know when something bad’s on the way, and I’ve saved Kelly more than once. Even Mike, a jaded police by-the-book police officer, is beginning to believe in my sixth sense. This time, it tells me real trouble is right around the corner—or across the street.

When we eat at the Old Neighborhood Grill, Peter greets me by asking how Kelly’s holding up. He’s one of the few that knows the secret fear we’re hiding.

You see, Kelly and Mike got two, not one but two kidnapping threats against sweet little Gracie, and they’re devastated. And scared. We live in an armed camp—security alarms, inside bars across the doors, a dog that José swears is a guard dog. And we wait—that’s the worst of it. Nothing’s happened, and yet fear rules our lives like a storm cloud hanging over us.

Oh, yeah, we think we know who sent the notes. My sixth sense helps there. But it ain’t telling me what’s goin’ to happen next, and I’m as frightened as everyone else. Not for me, but for that sweet little Gracie. Who would hurt an innocent baby?

About my goals. I’m gonna have a baby by the time I’m thirty. Guess I should tell José pretty soon.


You can read more about Keisha in Color of Fear, the seventh book in the “Kelly O’Connell” mystery series.

The Color of Fear marks Judy Alter’s return to mystery fiction and the Kelly O’Connell series after an absence of more than a year. This time, the indomitable 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 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.

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About the author
An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of several fictional biographies of women of the American West. In The Gilded Cage she has turned her attention to the late nineteenth century in her home town, Chicago, to tell the story of the lives of Potter and Cissy Palmer, a high society couple with differing views on philanthropy and workers’ right. She is also the author of six books in the “Kelly O’Connell” Mystery series and three books in the “Blue Plate Café” Mystery series. With the 2014 publication of The Perfect Coed, she introduced the “Oak Grove” Mysteries.

Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and the WWA Hall of Fame.

Connect with Judy at judyalter.com, on her blog and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ The Color of Fear by Judy Alter

The Color of Fear by Judy Alter is the seventh book in the “Kelly O’Connell” mystery series. Publisher: Alter Ego Publishing, May 2017

The Color of Fear marks Judy Alter’s return to mystery fiction and the Kelly O’Connell series after an absence of more than a year. This time, the indomitable 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 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.

Kelly and the gang are back in this mysterious tale of fear that leaves the family in a sedated state of mind. What happens next is an engagingly riveting tale where Keisha takes center stage as the narrator bringing forth her perception of things to come. The author did a great job in ratcheting up the tension as the story moved forward. My eyes were glued to the pages as I had to know how this will all end. All forms of safety precaution were undertaken included the addition of Clyde who did what he had to do to bring peace to the family. The main characters all played pivotal roles that enhanced the telling of this tale, especially that small surprising twist at the end. This was an enjoyable story and I hope there are more adventures with Kelly and her friends.

Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries edited by Lois Winston

sleuthing women

Being a mystery author, I know quite a few other mystery authors. However, there are many I don’t know and haven’t read. I began to wonder how many wonderful mysteries I’m missing out on because I just don’t know about them. And then I wondered, how many readers don’t know about my books? Or the books I’ve enjoyed by some of my fellow authors? What if there was an easy way to introduce mystery readers to some of my favorite authors and their series? That’s when inspiration hit, and I began contacting some of my mystery author friends. They loved my idea and joined me in producing Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries.

Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries is a collection of full-length mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novel in the set is the first book in an established multi-book series—a total of over 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars. Titles include:

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery by Lois Winston—Working mom Anastasia is clueless about her husband’s gambling addiction until he permanently cashes in his chips and her comfortable middle-class life craps out. He leaves her with staggering debt, his communist mother, and a loan shark demanding $50,000. Then she’s accused of murder. . .

Murder Among Neighbors, a Kate Austen Suburban Mystery by Jonnie Jacobs — When Kate Austen’s socialite neighbor, Pepper Livingston, is murdered, Kate becomes involved in a sea of steamy secrets that bring her face to face with shocking truths—and handsome detective Michael Stone.

Skeleton in a Dead Space, a Kelly O’Connell Mystery by Judy Alter—Real estate isn’t a dangerous profession until Kelly O’Connell stumbles over a skeleton and runs into serial killers and cold-blooded murderers in a home being renovated in Fort Worth. Kelly barges through life trying to keep from angering her policeman boyfriend Mike and protect her two young daughters.

In for a Penny, a Cleopatra Jones Mystery by Maggie Toussaint—Accountant Cleo faces an unwanted hazard when her golf ball lands on a dead banker. The cops think her BFF shot him, so Cleo sets out to prove them wrong. She ventures into the dating world, wrangles her teens, adopts the victim’s dog, and tries to rein in her mom. . .until the killer puts a target on Cleo’s back.

The Hydrogen Murder, a Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—A retired physicist returns to her hometown of Revere, Massachusetts and moves into an apartment above her friends’ funeral home. When she signs on to help the Police Department with a science-related homicide, she doesn’t realize she may have hundreds of cases ahead of her.

Retirement Can Be Murder, A Baby Boomer Mystery by Susan Santangelo—Carol Andrews dreads her husband Jim’s upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than having an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it—until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach.

Dead Air, A Talk Radio Mystery by Mary Kennedy—Psychologist Maggie Walsh moves from NY to Florida to become the host of WYME’s On the Couch with Maggie Walsh. When her guest, New Age prophet Guru Sanjay Gingii, turns up dead, her new roommate Lark becomes the prime suspect. Maggie must prove Lark innocent while dealing with a killer who needs more than just therapy.

A Dead Red Cadillac, A Dead Red Mystery by RP Dahlke—When her vintage Cadillac is found tail-fins up in a nearby lake, the police ask aero-ag pilot Lalla Bains why an elderly widowed piano teacher is found strapped in the driver’s seat. Lalla confronts suspects, informants, cross-dressers, drug-running crop dusters, and a crazy Chihuahua on her quest to find the killer.

Murder is a Family Business, an Alvarez Family Murder Mystery by Heather Haven—Just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez, has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve.

Murder, Honey, a Carol Sabala Mystery by Vinnie Hansen—When the head chef collapses into baker Carol Sabala’s cookie dough, she is thrust into her first murder investigation. Suspects abound at Archibald’s, the swanky Santa Cruz restaurant where Carol works. The head chef cut a swath of people who wanted him dead from ex-lovers to bitter rivals to greedy relatives.


I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity with these short blurbs, and you’ll soon find some new favorite authors in Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries. The boxed set e-book is available through Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, and iTunes.

About Lois Winston
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma lois-winston-med-res-fileCarlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog. Follow her on Pinterest, and on Twitter. Sign up for her newsletter here.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a Kindle version of Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries. The giveaway will end May 6, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Murder at Peacock Mansion by Judy Alter

Murder at Peacock MansionMurder at Peacock Mansion by Judy Alter is the third book in the “Blue Plate Café” mystery series. Publisher: Alter Ego Publishing, November 2015

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.

The author did a great job in plotting this highly intriguing tale that captured my attention immediately, quickly becoming a page turner as I had to know what happens next. The mystery kept me guessing and I enjoyed the various red herrings that culminated in a surprising twist that I didn’t see coming, especially when everything played out and we knew who was behind it all. Kate is a great amateur sleuth who doesn’t go it alone, she has the aide of her lawyer boyfriend and the local police chief and together, this trio makes a great team. Boasting a good supporting cast and great dialogue, this was one of the best books in terrific series.

My Musing ~ Desperate for Death by Judy Alter

Desperate for DeathDesperate for Death by Judy Alter is the sixth book in the “Kelly O’Connell” mystery series. Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press, May 2015

Kelly is puzzled by arson, a young girl’s disappearance, two men using the same name, and a surprise inheritance, but she knows she has to make the pieces fit if she is to protect her family and all she holds dear.

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.

Once again, Kelly is thrust into action when her family and friends are targeted by a deranged convict and this time Kelly has more to protect. I enjoyed this fast-paced and well written drama that continues to get better and better with a strong and determined heroine and a secondary cast that plays a pivotal role in the telling of this tale. It was fun watching this mystery played out with all the key elements that lead to a fulfilling finale and I especially enjoyed Keisha presence in this book. This is by far the best book in this series and I hope there are more to come in this engaging series.

My Musing ~ Deception in Strange Places by Judy Alter

Deception in Strange PlacesDeception in Strange Places by Judy Alter is the fifth book in the “Kelly O’Connell” mystery series. Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press, July 2014

A woman desperately seeking her biological mother, a televangelist determined to thwart that search, a hired hit man, and in the midst of it all, a reclusive diva. Kelly has gotten herself involved in a dangerous emotional tangle this time, and Mike doesn’t tell her to back off, even when events take them from Fort Worth to San Antonio.

I enjoyed the latest adventures with Kelly and her friends in this suspense-fully-driven and fast-paced drama that made me feel like I also part of the action. I liked how the mystery was not who did it, but how they catch the villain and bring him to justice. The build-up, with its intensifying moments, to the climatic conclusion was nicely done and I applaud the author in how it all turned out. With a comfortable tone, a small-town atmosphere, great dialogue and a wonderful cast, this was one of the best books in the series and I can’t wait to see what capers are in store Kelly and her friends.

My Musing ~ Murder at Tremont House by Judy Alter

Murder at the Tremont HouseMurder at Tremont House by Judy Alter is the second book in the “Blue Plate Café” mystery series. Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press, February 2014

A journalist comes to Wheeler, Texas, intent on revealing the town’s secrets. Instead she finds a stubborn advocate of the town in Kate Chambers, and the tangled story leads to murder, kidnapping and a high-speed chase.

When free-lance journalist Sara Jo Cavanaugh comes to Wheeler to do an in-depth study of Kate’s town for a feature on small-town America, Kate senses she will be trouble. Sara Jo stays at her sister Donna’s B&B, The Tremont House, and unwittingly drives a further wedge into Donna’s marriage to Wheeler’s mayor Tom Bryson. And soon she’s spending way too much time interviewing high school students, one young athlete in particular. Police chief Rick Samuels ignores Kate’s instinct, but lawyer David Clinkscales, her former boss from Dallas, takes it more seriously.

Sara Jo arouses animosity in Wheeler with the personal, intrusive questions she asks, and when she is found murdered, the list of suspects is long. But Kate heads the list, and she must clear her name, with the help of David and Rick. A second murder confirms that someone is desperate, and now Rick is convinced Kate is in danger.

There’s a love triangle, a cooking school, a kidnapping, a broken marriage, and a lot of adventure before the threads of this mystery are untangled and Wheeler can go back to being a peaceful small town. If it ever does.

Judy had created a warm and friendly mystery that reeks of southern charm despite a murderous bent in Wheeler, Texas. The tone is very comfortable in this steady-paced drama where Kate puts her instincts to good use when she becomes a prime suspect. I like the set-up of the story and the way it flows from chapter to chapter culminating in the apprehension of a killer. This was a good read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this likable series.

As Johnetta Chambers Sees It by Judy Alter

Murder at the Tremont HouseAt the the opening of Murder at the Blue Plate Café, Kate Chambers beloved grandmother, who raised her and her twin Donna, has died suddenly. Kate comes back to Wheeler, Texas to run her grandmother’s café and deal with her unpredictable sister. But she keeps getting cryptic messages from Gram in the beyond.

Here’s how Gram sees things as the story moves into Murder at The Tremont House.

Well, drat! I don’t know what to do about those granddaughters of mine. Raised both alike, with love and discipline, taught them the value of work, did everything I knew to turn them into productive members of society.

I’m as pleased as can be with Kate. She’s taken over the café and is doing a great job with it. Oh, of course I wouldn’t be serving tuna salad and chicken salad—that’s not hearty café food and it takes too much time. And I’d be baking my own pies–she orders them from someplace in Tyler. But it’s not mine to say.

Kate’s a good girl, but I never am sure about her choices of men. ‘Course I didn’t know much about what went on when she lived in Dallas, but I heard things and they didn’t make me proud. Now she seems to have taken a shine to that new police chief…Rick Samuels. Cold fish, if you ask me. I think she needs a man with red blood in his veins—but she’d be shocked if I told her that. And I think she has a secret crush on Dave Millican that runs the nursery. Dave is as nice a boy as you’d want to meet, always jovial, always ready to do anything for you, but there’s a dark side to him and he’s been in trouble with the law. I sure don’t want her messing with that kind of thing.

Now she’s taken to letting Chief Samuels spend the night. She assures me he sleeps in a separate room and he’s only there to protect her, but I know how tongues wag in Wheeler. I cautioned her, but she asked, “Gram, would you rather see my reputation compromised or me dead?” What a thing to say to your grandmother!

And then there’s Donna—always was the troublesome twin, ever since she was a little tyke. Shotgun marriage when she graduated from high school, though I think I carried it off with grace and style. Well, now she’s decided she doesn’t want that handsome high-school football hero she married, and she doesn’t pay much attention to those three darling children. First she decides she has to run a B&B and spends all the money I left her fixing up the old Tremont farm house. Then she has an affair with that sleazy man from Dallas. She knows what I’d have said about that. Well, he got himself killed—but I haven’t seen him around up here.

Now she’s got that crazy boarder who’s writing an “exposé” about small town life. No good will come of that, but Donna’s so smitten by this woman that she’s abandoning her marriage and whatever good sense she ever had. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if there wasn’t another murder in Wheeler.

I swear—and I’m not a swearing woman, never was—but I don’t know what to do with those girls. I went to the Lord about it, but he says to have faith. Well, I can’t tell them that when I’d give them a piece of my mind if I was there. But there are rules here…I can’t say much, and I can only offer advice which they don’t seem to understand. It’s enough to make an old woman turn over in her grave.


Meet the author
Murder at Tremont House is the second Blue Plate Mystery from award-winning novelist Judy Alter, following JUju at Wine Hausthe successful Murder at the Blue Plate Café. Judy is also the author of four books in the Kelly O’Connell Mystery series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, and Danger Comes Home. With the Blue Plate Murder series, she moves from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her family’s favorites.

Follow Judy at www.judyalter.com or her two blogs at www.judys-stew.blogspot.com or potluckwithjudy.blogspot.com. Or look for her on Facebook or on Twitter.


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My Musing ~ Danger Comes Home by Judy Alter

Danger Comes HomeDanger Comes Home by Judy Alter is the fourth book in the “Kelly O’Connell” mystery series. Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press, July 2013

Kelly O’Connell’s husband, Mike Shandy, insists she has a talent for trouble, but how can she sit idly by while her world is shattering. Daughter Maggie is hiding a runaway classmate; protégé Joe Mendez seems to be hanging out again with his former gang friends and ignoring his lovely wife Theresa; drug dealers have moved into her beloved Fairmount neighborhood. And amidst all this, reclusive former diva Lorna McDavid expects Kelly to do her grocery shopping.

In spite of Mike’s warnings, Kelly is determined to save the runaway girl and her abused mother and find out what’s troubling Joe, even when those things lead back to the drug dealers. Before all the tangles in the neighborhood are untangled, Kelly finds herself wondering who to trust, facing drug dealers, and seeing more of death than she wants. But she also tests upscale hot dog recipes and finds a soft side to the imperious recluse, Lorna McDavid. It’s a wild ride, but she manages, always, to protect her daughters and keep Mike from worrying about her—at least not too much.

When Maggie brings home a surprise visitor, this takes Kelly, her friends and family on another adventure involving murder and mayhem as Kelly tries to protect another family from undue harm. This fast-paced drama quickly became a page turner as I had to know what was happening next. The author did a good job in keeping me in suspense with how the story evolved from scene to scene, even having me suspect that one of the friendly wasn’t being honest. A good job by Judy to prove me wrong. This well-written drama boasts a strong heroine who will always right a wrong, her loving husband, her two kids and a supportive group of friends. This is the best one yet in the series and I look forward to more adventures with Kelly and her friends.