Thursday, January 30, 2014

Get Lost in a Mystery and Judy Alter

Get Lost in a Story Readers, Judy Alter is a member of Sisters in Crime and a subgroup of SINC called Guppies.  I'm delighted to have her on the blog today to introduce her mysteries.  Please welcome Judy Alter.

A Blue Plate Café Mystery, (Book One)
When twin sisters Kate and Donna inherit their grandmother’s restaurant, the Blue Plate Café in Wheeler, Texas, there’s immediate conflict. Donna wants to sell and use her money to establish a B & B; Kate wants to keep the Café. Thirty-two-year-old Kate leaves a Dallas career as a paralegal and a married lover to move back to Wheeler and run the café, while Donna plans her B & B and complicates her life by having an affair with her sole investor.

Kate soon learns that Wheeler is not the idyllic small town she thought it was fourteen years ago. The mayor, a woman, is power-mad and listens to no one, and the chief of the police department, newly come from Dallas, doesn’t understand small-town ways. Worst of all, blunt, outspoken Donna is not well liked by some town folk. The mayor of Wheeler becomes seriously ill after eating food from the café, delivered by Donna’s husband, and the death of another patron makes Kate even more suspicious of her grandmother’s sudden death.

When Donna’s investor is shot, all signs point to Donna, and she is arrested. Kate must defend her sister and solve the murders to keep her business open, but even Kate begins to wonder about the sister with whom she has a love-hate relationship. Gram guides Kate through it all, though Kate’s never quite sure she’s hearing Gram—and sometimes Gram’s guidance is really off the wall.

 And now to learn more about Judy Alter:

DONNELL:  Welcome to Get Lost in a Story, Judy!  Wow, what a blurb.  I’m hooked.  First off, is there really a Wheeler, Texas, and would you classify this as cozy, hard-boiled… other?

JUDY: Donnell, I hate to admit it but there is no Wheeler, nor is there a Blue Plate Café. But Wheeler is an amalgamation of the towns of Ben Wheeler and Edom, both located about an hour east of Dallas, on the edge of East Texas. And there is a café that I modeled this on in the town of Edom—it’s The Shed, and my family and I enjoyed many happy meals there. I don’t suppose the food is much different than that of a lot of other small-town cafés, but we went there for fun and for sentimental reasons.

I’d definitely call this a cozy—amateur female sleuth, murders offstage (except for one shooting scene). Very little violence, some discreet romance. Like many cozy heroines, Kate Chambers can’t seem to straighten out her love life. And the book does include recipes—I can’t think of a thriller with recipes!

DONNELL:  I love the idea of twin protagonists for a series.  Do you have experience with twins?  Are they identical or fraternal?

JUDY: Donna and Kate are fraternal—there’s a huge difference in their dispositions, and Kate always sees a difference in their appearance, seeing herself as less attractive and polished than Donna. But Kate is the one who went to the big city and had a career, so she’s no slouch.

DONNELL:  What is the best thing about writing a series?  Then turn this, the worst?

JUDY: The best thing, to me, is that you really get to know the characters, how they’ll react, even the way they speak. You become part of their world. The worst thing is what we all call the Jessica Fletcher syndrome—how many murders can there have been in Cabot Cove? Similarly, how many in Wheeler, Texas? I’d like to say most cozies run dry after four or five books, but there are some with much longer lists.

DONNELL:  When you’re not writing, where will we find you?

JUDY: Cooking, reading, caring for one of my grandsons—I pick him up from school every day and we do second-grade homework. I eat out with friends, I entertain—I was never so busy until I retired.

DONNELL:  (now the telling questions).  What’s the most unusual thing you have in your closet?

JUDY: Maybe the dress I wore to three of my children’s weddings. It’s sixteen years old, I haven’t worn it for fourteen years, and it probably doesn’t fit. But it was the most beautiful dress I think I ever had and I refuse to part with it.

DONNELL:  What’s in your refrigerator right now?

JUDY: White wine, cottage cheese, Paul Newman’s vinaigrette salad dressing. My youngest daughter used to put the dressing on cottage cheese, and when she still lived at home she said our house could run with those three items.

DONNELL:  If you could meet anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

JUDY: Oh, gosh, that’s hard. There are authors I’d like to meet, particularly some who wrote about the American West—as I did for years—and Julia Child would be high on my list. So would Eleanor Roosevelt. But I think if I had to pick one I’d pick one of my female ancestors from Scotland—say 18th-century Scotland at the time of the Clearances. I’m fascinated by that history and want to know more about the MacBain Clan.

Judy, now it's your turn. Time to ask readers a question.

 Judy Alter:  I’d like to direct a question to cozy fans: what’s most important to you? Characters you like and identify with or a complicated plot that keeps you guessing.

I’ll give away two e-books of the second Blue Plate Café mystery, Murder at the Tremont House, to randomly chosen readers who comment.

Thanks, Donnell. It’s been fun. I’m still puzzling over my answers to the closet and fridge questions and who I really want to meet. One choice is so hard.

Donnell ~ You did great, Judy!  Thanks for being our guest today!

Contact Links.

Social media:

Twitter: @judyalter, though I’m not good about checking it

Buy Links:




  1. Welcome to GLIAS Judy. I have dresses like that that I can't bear to part with. And what a hard question you ask cozy mystery lovers. I love a plot that keeps me guessing, but I HAVE to love the characters. That's why I'm so envious of your twin plots. Genius IMO There's so much emotion that comes with sisters, and so much material to work with because they have such a history, and more to come. Best wishes on your fabulous stories!

    1. Thanks, Donnell. I do hope some twins get along better than Kate and Donna. Watch for their troubles to escalate in Murder at the Tremont House, due Feb. 27

  2. I like characters that I can relate to, but some suspense added in is even better!

  3. little bit of both

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  4. I still have the dress I wore when my youngest son graduated from high school in 1992. It doesn't fit anymore, either, but I remember how I felt in it, and if I ever lose the weight, I'll wear it again! The books sound great!

  5. a new-2-me author!!!
    already added to my WishList!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com