Sunday, February 26, 2012

Killer Frost Pre-Sales

Cover of Killer Frost by Judy Hogan


 It’s possible now to buy, in advance, a copy of my first mystery novel, Killer Frost, actually in print from Mainly Murder Press in Connecticut, Sept. 1, 2012. The advance sales will make it possible for me to order copies at 40% discount, and then I can pay for my bookmarks and some other early expenses. I’m aiming to have 120 pre-sales! Then I can order 200 books.

I’m launching the book September 22, on the fall equinox, Saturday, 3-7 P.M. at my Hoganvillaea Farm, in Moncure, NC. If you’re nearby, you’re invited. I will provide some basics, but it’s pot luck, so bring a contribution, food, and or drinks. Even champagne, If you’re feeling especially celebratory. This is how to launch a book on a budget.

The paperback will cost: $15.95; the Nook and Kindle versions, $2.99 (order on line)

To order your copy from me now, to be picked up at launch or mailed:

Send $20 (covers postage and sales tax)
or $17 (to pick up) to Judy Hogan
PO Box 253
Moncure, NC 27559-0253


So: you see the cover above.

Here’s the plot:

When Penny Weaver agrees to teach freshmen composition at historically black St. Francis College, her teaching and relationship skills, not to mention her detective instincts, are more challenged than they’ve ever been. She falls in love with her boss, Oscar, who is very passionate about saving their students from ending up in prison because of how ill-prepared for college they are. When the Provost is killed, Oscar is the primary suspect, because of his anger at the Provost for not firing the History professor who traded sex for an A with Penny’s student Merilee. Penny’s detective friend and her husband, Kenneth, are investigating and ask her help, but because Oscar is confiding in her and she’s convinced he’s innocent, she doesn’t want to help them. She tries to throw suspicion on the abusive History Professor and the Vice President for Financial Affairs, formerly in prison for embezzlement.

After a spirited convocation speech on truth-telling, Penny’s students lead a protest about Merilee’s abuse, bad food, filthy dorms, but the President undercuts them by threatening to take away student scholarships. Penny struggles with her conflict: she loves her husband, but she can’t deny she loves Oscar.

Here are the comments from pre-publication reviews:

A charming puzzler of a traditional mystery, this classic academic mystery debut is a pageturner populated with layered, interesting characters. My hat is off to Judy Hogan on a stellar debut. I look forward to the further adventures of Professor Penny Weaver at St. Francis college!
–Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times Bestselling Author of One Was A Soldier.

Killer Frost deserved to be short-listed for the Malice Domestic prize. It is a fine first effort. I think we’ll be hearing more from Judy Hogan and her protagonist, Penny Weaver.
–Louise Penny, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Three Pines mysteries and winner of four Agathas.

Judy Hogan’s debut novel set in the world of academia gives us a hint of what we might expect from this author in the future. Her insight into what’s happening to today’s youth, her concerns and her empathy are directly reflected in her characters–be they good guys or bad.
–Kaye Barley, Blog Master at

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cookies for Christmas, a Holiday, or a Rainy Day

Grandson, seven years old.


Christmas or Holiday Cookies, or A Rainy Day Activity
 The cookie recipes come from Joy of Cooking, but the icing came from Mother. I changed the gingerbread one to make it healthier. It’s great for small children, as they can model it. I have done these recipes, first with my children, since Amy was five, and then with my grandchildren, since they were two or three years old. If they can model clay, they can do this. I remember Amy’s twins, age two and a half, sitting in front of the oven while the cookies baked. Children are very entranced by sprinkles. So when the cookies are cool, frost them and then use decorative sprinkles, colored sugars, etc. If you use the egg white brushed on before baking, use the colored sugars. Both recipes I usually double and store in refrigerator for awhile first.


Gingerbread Men
Preheat oven to 350 (when you’re about ten minutes from baking)
Blend until creamy:
1/4 cup butter or shortening
½ cup brown or white sugar (or some of both to make up ½ cup)
Beat in:
½ cup of dark molasses (I have used both cane and black strap–unsulphured)
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour (or new Super Sprout organic flour from Lindley Mills–whole wheat, sprouted and milled to a fine flour. You may be able to get it through a coop; in Chatham, you can buy it from the mill in Snow Camp area.)
1/4 cup of soy flour
Resift with:
1 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
Mix with:
1-1/4 cup whole rye or wholewheat (organic).
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in about 3 parts, alternately with 1/4 cup of water, if you roll the dough, or 1/3 cup water if you model the dough.
Bake on greased cookie sheets. Watch carefully–depending on thickness, 8-15 minutes.


Sugar Cookies
In Joy of Cooking, they are called Sand Tarts, but they’re much better than regular sugar cookies.

1-1/4 cups of sugar
Beat until soft:
3/4 cups of butter (1-1/2 sticks)
Add sugar gradually. Blend these ingredients until very soft and creamy.
Beat in:
1 egg
1 egg yolk (save the white for brushing some cookies and then adding colored sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Sift before measuring:
3 cups all-purpose flour (you might try the Super Sprout, but I haven’t yet)
Resift with 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Stir the flour gradually into the butter mixture until the ingredients are well blended. Chill the dough for several hours.
Preheat oven to 400.
Roll the dough until very thin. Bake on greased tins about 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness.


Lemon Butter Frosting (Icing)
Cream 1 stick butter until soft
Add alternately:
1 pound of powdered, confectioners’ sugar, from sifter
2-3 Tablespoons of lemon juice (sometimes one lemon–fresh is best, but you can add a little of the bottled lemon juice if most of it is fresh)
1 tablespoon of grated lemon rind.
You add a little sugar, then a little juice, and get it to a creamy, spreadable but not too soft consistency.

For variation, you can use orange juice and grated orange rind, or 1 teaspoon of vanilla and milk for liquid, e.g., for chocolate cake.

Let the cookies cool completely; then frost and decorate. If you want to make Valentine’s or Easter cookies, etc., the children can draw valentines, bunnies, etc., and then use a knife to cut around the shapes on the dough. They’re fun to make, and they taste good, too.


Granddaughter, age 9.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Marcia Herman's Sipping My Garden

Cover image of Marcia Herman's Sipping My Garden.


My book, Sipping My Garden, was a labor of love—for the herbs, for delicious drinks, for lovely illustrations, and for gardening and gardeners. This is how it all began—my sweet affair with sipping my gardenThe preface tells the story of how I met my friend in Provence and what I learned from her about her plant gathering, drying, and making of herbal teas. For many years as a child she had watched her grandmother gather and dry herbs and blend them into delicious mélanges and now I was to learn to share this across the ocean in America. Except for the occasional cup of peppermint tea, I realized for herbal teas we all bought those boxes with names like Zinger, Bed-time, and Peach Peppermint instead of sipping our own gardens.

So, I began researching the herbs and perfecting an easy, foolproof, and quick way to make herbal teas from plants that many gardeners already have growing. There are chapters on the method of making the teas (tisanes strictly speaking since these are herbal decoctions), plant lists, recipes, resources, and what to do if you don’t have a garden. The book is beautifully illustrated by a local artist, Emma Scurnick, and one from the west coast, Nan Feagin.

A sample recipe:  Peppermint-Lemon Grass Tea

¼ cup dried peppermint leaves
A heaping tablespoonful of dried Lemon grass
Pinch of green tea
Two stevia leaves if a little sweetening is wanted

This, as well as any other recipe with dried leaves, may also be made with fresh herbs using larger amounts.
Place in teapot or stainless steel cooking pot and pour 6 cups of near boiling water over the herbs. Let steep 30 minutes to several hours. Strain and pour into a pitcher and enjoy hot or cold all day.

Thank you, Marcia E Herman
Chatham County, NC It retails for $16.95. It makes a great gift book. Maybe for Valentine's Day!  In Chatham County the book is also available at Chatham Marketplace, New Horizons Trading Company, Lyn Morrow Pottery, and Cooper Mays Pottery.
How to order:
Sipping My Garden may be ordered from

This is a pitcher of rosemary, sage, and green tea, one of the recipes in Marcia's book.
Bio:Marcia E. Herman is a lifelong gardener and lover of herbs who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to a full time career in pediatrics and public health, she has studied the science and lore of herbs for many years and assisted with the establishment of the Medicinal Garden in the Mercer Reeves Hubbard Herb Garden at the NC Botanical Gardens. Marcia lives in Pittsboro, NC, in hearing distance of the Haw River.

Comments on the back cover:

This delightful book will be sought by all converts to the locovore movement. I’m glad for the book’s suggestion to consult local references about what herbs will grow in any given area.  And if growers and herb enthusiasts will follow the simplified plant identifications and precautions, then they will find the pleasures of teas harvested from their own gardens.  It doesn’t get any more local than that!  Al Cooke, Extension Agent, Horticulture, Chatham County Center, N.C. Cooperative Extension

 The plant kingdom provides us with so much--shade and color, changing seasons, endlessly varied forms in the shapes of leaves, and fragrance, not to mention the basis of our food supply.  That plant diversity harbors another secret: plants are a virtual library of interesting compounds, many that evolved with the animal kingdom and so are able to interact with animal physiologies, including our own.  Marcia E. Herman’s writing, in an easy-to-read way, shows how this chemical diversity furnishes us with a great array of teas and gently leads us into its emotional, medicinal, and aesthetic pleasures.  This lovely book will open your passion for these delights.  Dr. Peter S. White, Director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill

 Marcia rightly looks to herbal teas for leisure and pleasure. I think of herb teas as the best of medicines. Leisure and pleasure are good medicine, and phytochemicals are good medicines. Here’s to your health, sipping your garden teas.  James A. Duke, PhD, Author of The Green Pharmacy (Rodale 1997) and distinguished alumnus, University of North Carolina,  Chapel Hill (1948-61)

Marcia Herman, happy herb gardener and herb tea expert.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Review: Current Affairs by Lane Stone

Cover photo of Current Affairs:  A Tiara Investigations Mystery


Review: Current Affairs: A Tiara Investigations Mystery. Lane Stone. Mainly Murder Press, 2011. Trade paperback: $15.95. ISBN: 978-0-9836823-2-5. 237 pp.

What strikes me most about the debut mystery, Current Affairs, is its humor. A few pages in, and I was laughing out loud. Remember those early Evanovich mysteries? Here is Leigh Reed, a new voice, a Southern Belle voice, who doesn’t take her Georgia Beauty Queen status or her relatively affluent lifestyle very seriously. Leigh and her two best friends, also former state beauty queens, Tara Brown and Victoria Blair, have formed Tiara Investigations. Their cases consist mainly of helping married women document their husbands’ infidelity. They have not yet told their husbands.

They interview prospective clients at their favorite restaurant, the Cracker Barrel, usually over the breakfast specials. Their fees are reasonable, and often it takes only an hour of their time, once the wife has alerted them, to follow the "cheating, lying, sneaking" lovers, take a few photos, and later give them to the wife.

They use three throw-away cameras, to make sure they get those photos, and are usually accompanied by their three standard Schnauzer dogs, which provide protection in case they get in over their heads, which they soon do, when the husband they are to follow, is shot dead in front of their eyes, and another husband they’d nailed as fooling around is the investigating officer. He, and many other characters in this book, are regularly overwhelmed by their unpredictably zany behavior, dogs or no dogs.

Another paradoxical and so human aspect of this new mystery series is that Leigh is protesting the Iraq War, and her husband, The General, whom she loves passionately, is busy fighting that war. This is a great book for breaking stereotypes, and for fun, but it has a serious side as the Tiara women, hunting for the killer of their client’s husband (she loved him), invade the high-tech world of military weapons research and development.

Here’s a book without a dull moment but with a bone-deep honesty that draws you in to identify with characters willing to be fully themselves, outrageous behavior being their natural mode.

Look for the next Tiara Investigations, hopefully coming soon.


Author website:

Order from, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Ingram.


Lane Stone lives in Sugar Hill, GA and Alexandria, VA. When not writing, she’s enjoying characteristic baby boomer pursuits: hiking in various countries and playing golf. Her volunteer work includes raising money for women political candidates.  She’s a proud member of both the Chesapeake and Atlanta chapters of Sisters in Crime.


Lane Stone, author