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Judy Alter


Judy Alter has been writing fiction and nonfiction for young readers for twenty years. She has a Ph.D. in English with a special interest in the history and literature of the American West. Alter is the director of a small academic press, and writes in her spare time. She is the mother of four, and now lives with her dog, her cat, her garden, and her books.

Judy's Books

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Discovering Australia's Land, People, and Wildlife

Discovering Australia's Land, People, and Wildlife

A MyReportLinks.com Book

Judy Alter
In this new edition of the Continents of the World series, author Judy Alter uncovers the land and climate, plant and animal life, scientific discoveries, and history and exploration of Australia. This book offers fun and interesting facts about the planet’s smallest continent...Read More

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ISBN: 978-0-7660-5207-9
Binding: Library Ed.
List Price: $26.60
Discount Price: $19.95

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Judy's Latest Blog Entries

Excitement swirling around me

Excitement was all around me today while I was safely tucked away in my cozy cottage, doors locked, watchdog on alert—well, not really. She was asleep on the couch, with her head on a pillow, looking for all the world like the position in which I generally sleep. Was she mimicking me? I did hear helicopters from time to time, but I saw nary a police car or officer on foot. Not did I see the dreaded bald man in shorts and a hoodie—with tattooed legs. That probably would have been enough to scare me.

It seems the police were swarming the neighborhood looking for a bad guy who got away. I’m not sure what he did. I’ve heard everything from leaving the scene of an accident—did he really wreck an 18-wheeler on University Drive? —to breaking and entering—breaking a window to get in and steal an older lady’s purse. Also heard he went into another house and began to help himself to food in the refrigerator. That’s a calm fugitive. Supposedly the occupants entered the kitchen and asked him to leave, which he did, but he tried to steal a car outside. At any rate, there was a heavy police presence on the ground and in the air, and the neighborhood email list was alive with warnings and sightings and the like. This afternoon they caught him. Nothing on the six o’clock news, of course.

A young girl has been soliciting in the neighborhood for a fundraiser at a local school, not the school for this neighborhood. When asked why she’s not in school, she has an explanation about being let out of classes to raise money. A call to the school she named quickly disproved that, and the principal expressed concern for the girl. She’s been in the neighborhood several days, but today the agitation increased. Police were called, the principal was sent a picture. And far as I know the girl didn’t appear. Her handlers must have sensed the growing alarm, but like everyone else I worry about the child.

And I thought we lived in this quiet, safe neighborhood. Berkeley prides itself on its friendliness and concern for neighbors. That concern was evident today in the rapid exchange of emails and Facebook postings. Wish we knew what happened in both cases.

I had an adventure in cooking tonight. Decided I needed to cook with the vegetables I hadn’t used, especially that one leek. I cooked something a week or so ago that called for one leek but had to buy two. What does one do with one  leftover leek? I decided to make a kind of cream sauce and bake it with a topping of buttered Ritz crumbs. I opened a new jar of what I thought was chicken bouillon, but it turned out to be tuna. Revise plan. Creamed tuna and leek. Only because I made the cream sauce early, it got too thick. What I had was hash. And the toaster oven burned the baguette slices I meant to put it over. Never give up! I threw away the baguette slices, put the tuna/leek mixture on a plate, and topped it with a good dollop of sour cream. Pretty good. I think the sour cream saved it, and the leek added a new flavor. I doubt I’ll buy a leek just willy-nilly, but I am now less intimidated by them and may do some company dishes with them. They are so difficult to get all the dirt out of!

Speaking of cooking, who has an air fryer? Carla, who I don’t know, found my old food blog and wrote me about her article on brands of air fryers (find it here: https://www.2kreviews.com/best-air-fryers/) I’m doing as she wished and giving her a shout out because I like to help writers, but I did check out her Facebook page and found It interesting with advice on purchasing everything from torque wrenches to gardening gloves, though it seems to be heavy on tools. Think what an interesting career that would be—checking out new products and making recommendations to the public. See for yourself:    www.facebook.com/2kreviewsgroup. But, alas, I have no need of an air fryer or torque wrenches.
By coincidence, I heard from another Carla today--a woman I worked with in, gasp!, the eighties at TCU. She wrote to ask advice for her daughter, but what a joy to hear from an old friend and find out she reads my blog and my books.
Two Carlas in one day!

Cemetery pictures, a quick giveaway, and a Mexican supper

Cemetery pictures don’t often make good blog illustrations, but this one is special to me. It shows the gravestones of my father and sister at St. Jude Cemetery in Oakville, Ontario. I’ve talked to someone in the city office responsible for the cemetery, and she tells me the graves will be well maintained when I get there—right now they need some attention. She also sent me a map of the cemetery, so I can easily find the plot. My detective work continues.

            Who says book giveaways are old hat? I discovered a “Set up a Giveaway” link on the Amazon page for Murder at the Blue Plate Cafe. Clicked on it out of curiosity but wasn’t quite prepared to have to pay full price for five ebook copies. Still, Amazon is clever, and they know how to hook you in. Soon I was busily filling in the details to give away five copies, one to each fifth person to respond (the method they recommend). The site confirmed the giveaway was live about two this afternoon.

Those who know me know that two o’clock is about the time I take an afternoon nap, a luxury I’ve become addicted to in retirement. And that’s where I headed when I got the confirmation email. I thought I’d publicize the giveaway after my nap, which often lasts an hour.

But I woke up to another email that told me the giveaway was closed. All five copies had been given away, so Amazon was busily spreading the word while I snoozed. I’d love to know how. If anyone reading this got an email or something, please let me know. I hadn’t expected to spend the money, as I said, but it may have been great marketing, depending on how many people Amazon notified. The notice I got had a link to the giveaway which, in turn had a link to “Learn more about Judy Alter,” so maybe some new readers saw my name and books.

I chose to give that book away to publicize the new Blue Plate Café Mystery, Murder at the Bus Depot. My thought was to interest readers in the series in general as a way of leading them to the new book. I just never got a chance to say it. Thanks to Lois Winston for that train of thought. Lois thought up the anthology, Sleuthing Women: Ten First-in-a-Series Mysteries, put it together (including my Skeleton in a Dead Space), and marketed it. It’s done great but will go away April 30. Here’s a buy link if you want to take advantage of this great bargain before it disappears forever: https://tinyurl.com/y882o7zw

Haven’t read the first in the Blue Plate Cafe series, Murder at the Blue Plate Café? Not to worry. I’m working on making it free, and it is already free on several platforms. But Amazon moves slowly on such things. I’ll keep trying. Then I’ll leisurely publicize it. The ways of Amazon are sometimes devious, but I’m still a fan.

This is not the week for me to complain about being alone in the cottage. I’ve been out to supper with friends four nights in a row. Tonight, with Subie and Phil, I tried the new Mexican restaurant at Clearfork, Mesero. The evening started off badly when they seated us at a table in the bar area—too noisy for both Phil and me. We asked to be moved, and when we were put in the main section of the dining area, with carpet on the floor, the noise level was much more manageable. Subie was quite sure they seated us in that less desirable, out-of-the-way spot because we had Phil’s service dog with us. My chicken enchiladas with white crema sauce were attractively presented and really good but so rich. I have ¾ of an enchilada in the fridge for lunch tomorrow. A pleasant, early evening.

Life’s Embarrassing Moments

If it’s Wednesday night, it’s supper with Betty. We went to Pacific Table tonight, at my suggestion. Once seated, I realized I forgot to transfer my cell phone from my desk to my purse, and my credit card is in a pocket on the back of the phone. Betty: don’t worry. I have my credit card.

So we had a good dinner—salmon sashimi for me, shrimp rolls for Betty, a fire-roasted artichoke to split, and a glass and a half of wine each. Our waitress was super nice, talking with me about the fact that tuna carpaccio is on the menu on the website but not on the actual menu in the restaurant. I settled for salmon sashimi, which was delicious. She said she talked to a manager, and she bet the next time we came in carpaccio would be on the menu. Carpaccio, be it tuna or beef or elk, which I’ve actually had, is one of my favorite things. I made a mental note to tip generously.

Bill came, and Betty discovered she didn’t have her credit card either and had no cash. I had enough cash for all but slightly under three dollars of the bill but none for the tip. I suggested calling Christian, thinking he might be home and could run my credit card down to me. We couldn’t get him, so I asked Betty to call Jordan (remember I had no phone, and besides I couldn’t hear in the noise of the restaurant). Jordan is a super negotiator in such situations—she asked to talk to the manager, and pretty soon the manager said it was all taken care of. Jordan will go by tomorrow and pay the balance and a tip. And then Betty discovers of course she has a checkbook—the manager, Charisse, waves it away.

I’ve been trying to convince Jordan that I really can have my car back. I’m recovered physically and mentally and responsible enough to drive, so I’m sitting there thinking this is a huge setback, and she’s going to be laughing on the outside about two dizzy old ladies but not so jovial in the long run. She’s not home yet, so that remains to be seen.

Christian called just now and laughed aloud at the scene, sorry he had missed being involved. We’ll hope Jordan also laughs.

The only other interesting thing of my day is that I discovered that my now-defunct food blog, Potluck with Judy, is still online, and I’ve been raiding it for recipes for my new cookbook. Lots of old favorites that I thought I’d lost when we downsized and many of my recipes went away. I’ve been having great fun—chicken in crescent rolls, a beef and noodle casserole that is the best ever, an overnight salad. A great array of tempting goodies.

This ditzy old lady is signing off for the night—no, I take that back. I don’t want to be known as ditzy!

Neighbors Night

In Murder at the Bus Depot, neighborliness, of the lack of it, is one of the underlying themes. In fact, toward the end of the book, the mayor calls for a citywide “Celebration of Neighbors.” Well, in my neighborhood, there a small celebration of neighbors every Tuesday night. A group meets at the Old Neighborhood Grill for supper. Sometimes there’s no one, sometimes there are ten or twelve. The core group is about six people.

I used to go regularly and enjoyed it. In fact, when Jacob was younger and before he got too sophisticated, he used to go with me and became a favorite of some of the regulars. I always loved to go because Tuesday night was meatloaf night, and I love meatloaf. But I got out of the habit when I had hip surgery and mobility was difficult, and somehow, I’ve never gotten back into the routine, in spite of Mary Dulle’s frequent kind invitations. Nowadays she often walks, so I definitely can’t go with her.

But tonight, she and her husband, Joe, were driving, along with neighbor Garrett, and I happily joined them, ordered meatloaf, and enjoyed the comfort of old friends. The conversation was good, the food good, the whole thing a pleasant experience. I deliberately wore my T-shirt that says, “Ask Me about My Book,” and they did ask, which was fun. For a brief moment, I felt like a celebrity.

I ate all my dinner but half the meatloaf, deliberately saving it for a sandwich for lunch tomorrow. And I left it in Mary’s car!

Otherwise, a non-remarkable day. I worked on my cookbook and re-discovered a treasure trove of recipes in my now defunct Potluck with Judy blog. My longtime friend, Fred Erisman, brought Caesar salads and chocolate/caramel tarts for lunch, and we had a good visit.

Outside, the weather turned warm—in the eighties—but is expected to cool a bit again tomorrow. I suppose I take a kind of weird comfort in the fact that it’s not just Texas—the weather is strange all over the country and, I suspect, the globe.

And the drama in Washington goes on, actually a bit calmer today. It has gotten so convoluted that trying to figure it out makes my head hurt. But there are some downright funny quotes and things that come out of it. One I like proclaims that Hannity never used Cohen as his lawyer, but he wants to claim lawyer/client privilege; he has nothing to hide, but he wants Cohen not to reveal anything about him; he spent all last week defending Cohen and now calls him a liar. “And that’s why Hilary must be stopped.” Do these people realize how frantic and out of control they are?

The wheels of the gods grind slowly, but they are grinding.

On a sad note, the country has lost one of its shining lights with the death of Barbara Bush. She was the picture of elegant grace, a kind woman who carried herself well as the wife of a diplomat, vice-president, and president. She had her crusty side, which even she admitted, and she was fiercely loyal and protective of her family, but she was sort of everyone’s image of the perfect grandmother. Apparently, her faith was strong, and she believed that she and her husband of seventy-three years, will be reunited again. My she enjoy eternal rest, and may her wishes come true. We will miss her spirit.

Monday and not much to tell but a good book

An orchid, blooming for the second time
It loves my sunny cottage

Monday and not much to report. Mondays are always kind of low-key for me. I seem to spend most of the day on small things—emails, marketing details (still recovering from all the nice coverage yesterday), and the like.

Dinner tonight with friend Carol at a local “upscale” (does that mean not Tex-Mex?) Mexican restaurant. I had brisket tacos that were really good and cautiously ate just a few bites of the black beans. I love them, but they don’t love me. Carol is just back from almost two weeks in Hawaii, so it was fun to hear about that and the hulu dancing competition they went to. She brought me a T-shirt that says, “At my age I need glasses”—and has pictures of several wine glasses. The remarkable thing about the sort of purple/maroon shirt is that it is wine-dyed. Carol advised, and I agree, washing it separately the first time. She said she didn’t know why wine-related things always made her think of me, and I said it did: it’s because I like wine.

Finished a good book tonight: A Reckoning in the Back Country, by Terry Shames. Terry’s series features an overage sheriff in Texas—everything your typical mystery hero is not. He’s wise, morally complex, an art collector, an animal lover. In short, a fascinating character. He tells his stories in first-person, present tense—a challenge to any author. And he does it with such sly wit and insight that you can’t help but be drawn in. This one is the seventh in the series, but I suggest you begin with any of them.

And that is my story for the day, other than that the weather surprised me. I thought it might get to the seventies, and all of a sudden, it was in the eighties. Good ole Texas!

Have a good night and a happy Tuesday.
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