Norma Huss's Blog
July 2, 2018
That does sound fishy, doesn’t it? So, I’ll admit—the Guppies are a chapter of Sisters in Crime. I’ve been a Guppy for years and years, but I met all my chapter-mates on line only. Until… I went to Malice Domestic a few years ago. Then I met several Guppies. (Yea!) And they are prolific mystery writers. Three of them have new books just out (or coming in a few days). Here are their new covers.
All three publish more than one series. Daryl Wood Gerber writes under two names. Her other author name is Avery Aames. (You will find each author’s Amazon author page linked to their names.) A Soufflé of Suspicion will come out July 10, 2018. This is the second of her French Bistro mysteries. The blurb starts this way: The buoyant mood at Bistro Rousseau deflates when Chef Camille’s sister, Renee, turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen, and Mimi Rousseau must tease the real killer out of a mélange of menacing characters. Oh, that does sound like an enticing read!
Murder at the Mansion is the first mystery of Sheila Connolly’s fifth series! (Which is why I’m only sending you to author sites. Soooo much to choose from with these Guppies.) A bit from the blurb… Katherine Hamilton’s goal in high school was to escape from her dead-end hometown of Asheboro, Maryland. Fifteen years later... she is invited to return… There’s the high school nemeses… Who turns up dead, in the mansion. This was published June 26, 2018. It sounds like a delicious read. Sheila also has the County Cork series that takes place in Ireland.
The Diva Cooks Up a Storm is Krista Davis’s most recently published mystery, published May 29, 2018. It is the latest in her Domestic Diva series. The blurb starts: When a trendy, underground dinner club leaves some guests six-feet-under the table, entertaining professional and amateur sleuth Sophie Winston hopes she has all the right ingredients to put a murderer on ice in New York Times bestselling author Krista Davis’s new Domestic Diva mystery … Krista also had another mystery published on February 27, 2018. It’s Color Me Murder, the first of her third series, and the front and back covers can be colored!
I knew these authors (electronically) before they were published! It was wonderful to meet them and other Guppies in person.
Visit their Amazon author pages to see an amazing choice of sleuths and mysteries.
May 28, 2018
My husband’s uncle died in World War II. My uncle served, but returned. My husband, brother, brother-in-law, and so many others we knew served in Viet Nam, some my husband knew never returned. And there have been other battles since then. Now, without the draft, it seems the same small percentage of Americans volunteer to take on our battles over and over, with each person returning to the front (wherever it is) repeatedly. No more is it the two or four year block of life removed from the draftee or volunteer as in Viet Nam. Or “the duration” as in WW II. Now it seems a life-style of the select few. Which leaves a large portion of our citizens unconcerned about those fighting for freedom around the world. Indeed, many of the young generation seem unaware of the existence of the rest of the world, except as a possible place to vacation.
I planned to see beauty in this day, but somehow, I’ve missed the connection. Oh, there is beauty. Our tulip poplar tree in bloom. Pictures of our great-grand-children on Facebook. The orange I had for lunch. (Lovely taste, too.) Most comments about this day might display a flag or a military salute to veterans. I could do that as well, and it would be meaningful to me. But I’ll break with tradition and post the tree blossom. Just for a moment, I’ll think beauty. But in the back of my thoughts will be that flag, those veterans, and why can’t it be different?
Tomorrow, perhaps the sun will come out, and life will go on as before, as it did yesterday.
May 5, 2018
I’ve heard it said, a picture of a cat on a book cover is a sure winner. And a mystery with cats solving the mystery? Yum. Or, perhaps I should just purr!
New readers might think mysteries with cats are a new thing. Nope. Long before the digital boom and even before Amazon, there were cat mysteries. I’m quite sure I bought every paperback of ‘The Cat Who’ mysteries. The two Siamese and their human, Quilleran, kept me reading episode after episode.
More recently, I’ve become acquainted with other mystery solving cats. Janet Cantrell (a woman with almost as many names as she has mystery series) introduced me to the Fat Cat. (Rates another purr.)
But I’m always on the lookout for something new. The last cover is a book I haven’t yet read. The series sounds interesting — A cat in the stack mystery — library stacks, I believe. Could this be my next favorite read?
Or, maybe you have another suggestion. There’s the magical cats, cats most everywhere. I’d like to hear more!
April 13, 2018
Friday the 13th of April is not an unlucky day this year. It’s the day when spring has finally arrived. Blue skies, coat-free weather, and the blooming magnolia near our front door. So I’m not looking for an ill wind, definitely!
I use that magnolia tree rather like a calendar. What date did the first buds pop? When did they drop? (Notoriously, they don’t last long.) Even, in the winter, when did snow fall and settle in clumps on the branches? In fact, before I knew it was a magnolia (umm, I’m not even sure of that), one winter I began calling it our Popcorn Tree after those clumps formed. My imagination turned them into popcorn balls decorating a Christmas tree. This year my popcorn tree calendar tells me we have a very late spring. One year, at this time, not only had the buds dropped and scattered, but full-sized leaves covered the tree.
To put a bit of writer/reader content in this blog, let me point out that I’ve filled two paragraphs with spring blather. And, this morning I filled even more paragraphs with the next scene of my sometime-in-the-future mystery, plus deleted two paragraphs I wrote yesterday. So, that’s progress. Right?
Now for a question I really want an answer or twelve to—are there any mysteries that have spring, or a change of seasons as a vital clue? Or even a passing reference? I scanned titles, but didn’t find a one. Do you have an answer?
April 3, 2018
Donna Andrews is best known for her mysteries with birds. But, did you know she has an excellent series of four books with the sleuth Turing Hopper, AIP (that’s Artificial Intelligence Personality). Yep, she’s a mainframe computer who became sentient. When she’s faced with murder, she engages her “Miss Marple” brain to solve the mystery. And, throughout the four books she solves more mystery, but digs herself deeper into a dangerous situation. She’d cloned herself, to be in two places at once, but what happened to the clone? Unfortunately, that mystery has never been solved. Evidently, not enough readers were as delighted as I was. With traditional publishing, the publisher has the final say, so the series wasn’t continued. The first in the series, Click Here for Murder, won the Agatha and Anthony Awards. (I still have my four paperbacks, awaiting for a sequel.) In the meantime, read Donna’s other mysteries. Visit the Donna Andrews page here.
Digital Dick is not a series, but it is another mystery with a mainframe heart and human emotions. (John Edward Mullen has written two books so far.) Digital Dick learns how to solve mysteries while wishing he had hands so he could plug in his own electricity. He runs rings around the bad guys, as well as the good guys who just don’t understand him. Oh, yes, he has a human sister as well. Visit the John Edward Mullen page here.
I’m on the lookout for similar books. Do you know of any such books? I’d love to hear about them. (I’m not talking military intelligence here, really, although I might be convinced.)
March 26, 2018
Now that my blog is working again, I can belatedly tell you about an historic mystery from one of my favorite authors. This month it’s on * pre-order * with an option of perks. (Since I’m so late, some of the perks are no longer available.) But let’s forget that and focus on the book. It will come out in May and is the newest in the Michael Stoddard series. Stoddard is an English officer under orders to protect an American arriving under white flag to consult with the British. His main adversary is another British officer, as he also strives to keep an American lady safe. (Or, maybe I’m saying too much here? Can I mention that they really do like each other?)
Author Suzanne Adair brings our American history to the pages, shining a light on much that has been forgotten about our past. The story is fiction, but the history underlying this mystery is real. What better way to discover the forgotten past than in a thriller that portrays colonial life as well as English and American sentiments in our Revolutionary War? While you are on the site linked above, (set off by stars), check out the video telling more, the link to Suzanne reading chapter one, and a link to a PDF of the first chapter.
February 28, 2018
Artificial Intelligence and Murder
A special favorite series is by Donna Andrews who wrote the Turing Hopper mysteries. Turing is a sentient computer with a mind like Miss Marple. She solves mysteries in four books, but not the mystery that developed over the series---left open-ended because evidently, not enough readers were as delighted by the books as I was. And with traditional publishing, the publisher has the final say. She also has another series, with lots of delicious mysteries, all with birds.
Digital Dick is not a series. (John Edward Mullen has written two books so far.) Digital Dick learns how to solve mysteries while wishing he had hands so he could plug in his own electricity. He runs rings around the bad guys, as well as the good guys who just don't understand him. Oh, yes, he has a human sister as well.
I'd love to hear of any other sentient computer sleuths. Do you know of one?
February 21, 2018
I must admit, some of my best ideas come from Ann Fulton in her newspaper column, Fountain Avenue Kitchen. Today I have two recipes inspired by her. The first is how to cook up several chicken breasts to create shredded chicken. The other is one way to use part of that shredded chicken.
6 large chicken breasts
3/4 cup chicken broth or stock
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp salt or seasoned salt
1 tsp black pepper
Place chicken in slow cooker. Sprinkle spices on top, then pour the broth over all. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 hours on low, or 2 to 3 hours on high. (The chicken will shred easily when done.) Shred with two forks either inside the cooker, or on a cutting board.
Use amount desired in your favorite recipe. Freeze the remainder in one and two-cup amounts. Add some of the liquid to each air-tight, plastic bagged portion. To use, thaw and drain liquid, reserving it to add to any liquid required.
Note: As I have a smaller pressure cooker, I used half of this recipe.
Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas
8 ounces sliced mushrooms (any kind)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup roughly chopped spinach
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
6-inch or 8-inch flour tortillas
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
up to 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mexican blend, or mixed)
sour cream and salsa to serve
Saute and brown mushrooms in olive oil for about 8 minutes. Continue cooking until any liquid has evaporated. Add the garlic, cook and stir for half a minute. Add the spinach and saute until it is wilted. (You may warm chicken in microwave.) Keep warm ingredients warm. Prepare tortillas by toasting in butter on one side (medium heat fry pan), then flipping. While the second side is toasting, add to one side mushroom mixture, chicken, and cheese. Fold other side over top. As cheese melts and bottom browns, flip to other side to complete browning. Quesadillas may be kept in 300 degree oven until all are ready to serve.
Note: Using 2 cups of shredded cheese, this recipe will fill eight 8-inch tortillas. I used less cheese and divided all the other ingredients between five 6-inch tortillas. (Good either way!)
I may make it differently the next time. (I always do.) So feel free to change everything. What would you add or subtract?
February 17, 2018
Two of my favorite mystery authors are boaters. So, what else do they do but set their mysteries aboard? Actually, not only do I love their stories, they inspire me. (Okay, I have a mystery aboard. Not a series yet, but I’m writing as fast as I can.) So, here they are: Jinx Swartz and Christine Kling.
Jinx Schwartz is the author of the Hetta Coffey series. Her favorite promo line is, “Hetta is a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she’s not afraid to use it!” One could probably say the same about Jinx! Titles of all the Hetta mysteries start with the word “Just,” and they’re all a blast. Hetta’s life evolves through the series, as do the lives of the supporting characters. She’s written other books, one is definitely the Huck Finn book for girls. (Had to add that.)
Christine Kling has two series. One is the Seychelle Sullivan mysteries featuring the Florida tug and salvage captain. The other is the Shipwreck Adventures, a Caribbean thriller. Both are heart-thumpers. Christine’s life is an adventure as well that she mentions on her Facebook page from time to time. (With pictures.)
– – –
I had to add my own mystery on a boat. It’s not a series – yet. (I’m hard at work creating the second one.) My Cyd Denlinger mystery also has a woman at the helm. She’s trying to regain her pilot’s license while working and living on someone else’s neat little boat. My favorite promo line is: “A young widow, a ghost with an agenda, and the boat they share.”
February 14, 2018
I had a half pound of hamburger and high hopes. The recipe sounded interesting. The “come on” sounded even better. Oh, yes! Words like, “when we’re dying for a yummy cheeseburger,” and “family favorite!”
I’d started with a pound of hamburger, planning a meatloaf, our personal family favorite. Yummy meal and several cold sandwiches in the future. But I succumbed to another idea. Must admit that was a stretch. Filled pepper. But that’s another story about something we did eat, but don’t plan to try again. Back to today’s disaster. First thing, it took an hour of my time. Second thing, it took a lot of other groceries that could have been better spent. Two eggs, a quarter of a pound of butter, two, count them, two cups of shredded cheese, ketchup, mustard, milk, flour, sugar. Sugar?
The recipe made way more than two of us could eat. (Especially since hubby ate only one.) I soldiered on, not sure why, and ate three. Or was it four? Nope, I’m sure I filled up with three. However, a few of those good words were, “freezes well.” So now I have at least a dozen of those little nuggets of delight in the freezer. Perhaps I’ll serve them to grandchildren, naturally using words like, “a go-to snack when you’re dying for a yummy cheeseburger!” I won’t show them the picture from the recipe book that shows them plump and rosy without those singed edges that resulted from the minimal cook time.