Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking

No fracking signs in Judy's front yard.

Food and Water Watch, a national non-profit organization has released a new report, which dovetails well with the New York State Concerned Health Professionals compendium of fracking research.  Much more is being learned in 2014 about the harms and risks of fracking.  If you would like to read the whole report from Food and Water Watch, try this link:

Here is Wenonah Hunter's introduction to the report.  It's a PDF.

The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking.  

By Wenonah Hunter, Food and Water Watch.

As this report lays out, there is mounting evidence that fracking is inherently unsafe. Evidence builds that fracking contaminates water, pollutes air, threatens public health, causes earthquakes, harms local economies and decreases property values. And most critically for the survival of the planet, fracking exacerbates and accelerates climate change.

We are facing a climate crisis that is already having devastating impacts and that is projected to escalate to catastrophic levels if we do not act now. President Barack Obama came into office touting fracked gas as a “bridge fuel,” yet mounting evidence suggests that rather than serving as a bridge to a renewable energy future, it’s a bridge to a climate crisis.

While the environmental, public health and food movements have looked at mounting evidence and rejected fracked gas and oil, President Obama and his administration have aggressively promoted natural gas and domestic oil as a critical part of the United States’ energy future. President Obama repeatedly touts domestic gas production and has said that “we should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer … [I]t not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.” His Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has close industry ties and has claimed that he has “not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater” and that “the issues in terms of the environmental footprint of hydraulic fracturing are manageable.”

Obama’s Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has bragged about fracking wells in her prior career in the industry and has, despite radical changes in how fracking is done, called it a “technique [that] has
been around for decades,” and even implied that directional drilling and fracking can result in “a softer footprint on the land.” And the person charged with protecting communities’ water, Environmental
Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, has claimed “There’s nothing inherently dangerous in fracking that sound engineering practices can’t accomplish,” all while the EPA has ignored or buried findings that fracking has contaminated water in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania. Most recently,the administration and several legislators have been pushing exports of liquefied natural gas abroad to countries where it will fetch the highest price, stoking already massive oil and gas industry profits at the expense of our rural communities, our water and our climate.

This support for fracking at the highest levels has caused unnecessary confusion and created political space for otherwise-concerned environmentally leaning governors to pursue fracking. In California, Governor Jerry Brown has been supporting fracking despite his stated desire to fight climate change. In Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley has pursued a more cautious approach, but still has spoken favorably about future production and recently referred to natural gas as a bridge fuel. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has not lifted a popular de facto statewide moratorium on fracking due to significant public pressure, but has also not moved to adopt a permanent ban. Citing President Obama’s support for fracking, the industry has criticized Cuomo.

Despite what President Obama and his administration claim, there have now been over 150 studies on fracking and its impacts that raise concerns about the risks and dangers of fracking and highlight how little we know about its long-term effects on health and our limited freshwater supplies. It’s time for President Obama and other decision makers to look at the facts and think about their legacy. How do they want to be remembered? What do they want the world to look like 20, 50 and 100 years from now?

We first made the case for a ban on fracking in 2011, but this new report shows that there is an urgent case for a ban. The evidence is in, and it is clear and overwhelming. Fracking is inherently unsafe, cannot be regulated and should be banned. Instead, we should transition aggressively to a renewable and efficient energy system.


No fracking billboard on U.S. #1 as you enter Lee County from the South.  Is this what we want North Carolina to look like?

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Volunteer zinnias, July 2014, Judy's flower garden.

Note:  You can learn more about the September Sinc-Up Blog at

We, as members of Sisters in Crime, were asked to answer all or any of the following questions.  I answered them all.  Then we were to tag another mystery writer, and I chose Carolyn Mulford, also a SinC member.


SINC-UP BLOG for September 21, 2014 

1.  Which authors have inspired you?

I learned to write mysteries from reading the Golden Age authors like Josephine Tey, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, Michael Innes, Marjorie Allingham, and others.  I especially loved Tey and Sayers, and I’ve read them at least twice.  Contemporary mystery authors I learned from and who especially inspired me by their books as well as by their treatment of me have been Julia Spencer-Fleming and Louise Penny.  I have also enjoyed and learned from Margaret Maron, Sara Paretsky, Susan Hill, and Sue Grafton.  

I read mysteries regularly as a way to relax and let other problems go to the less conscious parts of my brain.  Some authors say they can’t read other mystery authors while writing a book, but I do and I can.  The plot and character work goes on at a deep level, while I go off into another world and enjoy other characters.  Published so far are Killer Frost (, 2012) and Farm Fresh and Fatal (2013).  I have already written another 12 mysteries.

2. Which male authors write great women characters?  Which female authors write great male characters?

I probably read more women authors than men, but I think Peter Robinson writes great female characters and also Michael Connelly, Stephen Booth, Alexander McCall Smith, and Reginald Hill. 
Women who write great male characters?  Definitely Louise Penny and Julia Spencer-Fleming.  Tey, Sayers, Marsh do, too, and Susan Hill, Cora Harrison, and Barbara Hambly.  Charles Todd, of course, but there you have a man and woman team.

3.  If someone said, “Nothing against women writers but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?

I’d say, “You don’t know what you’re missing.  My very favorites over the years have been woman crime writers.”

4.  What’s the best part of the writing process for you?  What’s the most challenging?

The best part is the actual writing, though it’s work, too.  I like it when unexpected things come up, or the characters reveal things that I didn’t consciously know about them.  I always learn things I knew but didn’t know I knew about other people and myself when I write a novel.  The most challenging part is plotting it, which I do by following Elizabeth George’s plan in her book Write Away

Once I get an idea, I work on the characters and make sure I have lots of conflict between them, then figure out who gets murdered and who the murderer is, and then I sketch out all the scenes. That’s the hardest part for me, getting it planned.  The plan is adaptable, but it guides me.  That way, I don’t get stuck.

5. Do you listen to music while writing?  What’s on your play list?

I listen to my local classical music station all the time, at home and in the car: WCPE-FM or (it also streams online).  My favorite composer is Bach.  That’s a plus, when there’s Bach, and if WCPE is fund-raising, I get out my Bach CDs and have a J.S. Bach feast.

6.  What books are on your night stand right now?

I’ve begun reading Frankie Y. Bailey’s The Red Queen Dies.  I loved the character Lizzie in Bailey’s first five novels.  I have three books I’ll be reading soon and then reviewing on my blog and on DorothyL mystery fan listserve: Two by K.M. Rockwood: Sendoff for a Snitch and Brothers in Crime.  I’ve reviewed three by her on my blogs for June 8 (Steeled for Murder), July 13 (Fostering Death), and August 17, 2014 (Buried Biker).  She’s a treasure, and I love her Jesse Damon novels.  I also have Maya Corrigan’s By Cook or by Crook, which I’ll review in early November when it appears.  Last Sunday, September 14, I reviewed Sara Hoklotubbe’s third novel in her Cherokee series, Sinking Suspicions. I’m also looking forward to getting copies to review of her third novel from Carolyn Mulford (Show Me the Gold) and from Gloria Alden, her fourth garden novel that includes a re-enactment. I would note that I have met all of these authors through Sisters in Crime org and at Malice Domestic convention, most through the Guppy subgroup of SINC.

7.  If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

I would say that you shouldn’t expect to make much money, but the joy of writing and the excitement of getting published is very worth the trouble.  Also I would urge you to write what you wish to write, stick close to what is important to you.  Be prepared to use and share your own emotional experiences.  I myself love books best which explore the emotions of their characters and also let me into their inner lives.  Our characters reflect back on us, and we are the creators out of our own mysterious inner life.  I like to get to know the inner lives of other people.  Fiction is a great way to do that.

I would like to link my blog to Carolyn Mulford, whose mysteries set in Missouri I enjoy: Show Me the Murder; Show Me the Deadly Deer, and soon to come: Show Me the Gold.  Check out her blog at  Carolyn is also a Guppy and SINC member.  Judy Hogan, SinC member since 2007.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: Sinking Suspicions by Sara Hoklotubbe

Sinking Suspicions.  Sara Sue Hoklotubbe. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, September 4, 2014.  ISBN: 978-0-8165-3107-3.  Paper, $16.95.  Also available in e-book format.  224 pages.

In Sara Sue Hoklotubbe’s third novel in her Cherokee mystery series, Sinking Suspicions, Sadie Walela goes to Hawaii.  She has a new job as a travel agent arranging trips to Hawaii.  Her boyfriend, Lance Smith, chooses not to go with her.  Then Sadie’s neighbor Benjamin (Buck) Skinner goes missing.  He is upset because the IRS is claiming he owes back taxes, and Buck knows he has paid everything.  Someone has stolen his identity, which the IRS can’t seem to grasp, and they are threatening to take his 200-acre farm, which he owns free and clear and loves.  He can’t understand why the government won’t leave him in peace.  Buck is an aging World War II veteran.  He won a Purple Heart as a Marine with the 4th Division in the Pacific.  He was wounded and shipped home, and he doesn’t like to think about the war or the Hawaiian woman he loved and lost.

Meantime Lance Smith goes to a chicken plant in a nearby town because the phone number was on a pad in Buck’s house.  A man was murdered at the chicken plant just before Lance arrives, and then the identity thief, using Benjamin Skinner’s name, is found dead at the trailer where his girlfriend lives.  Charlie McCord, with the police in Sycamore Springs, is investigating and welcomes Lance’s help.  Lance had trained under him and now, as Chief of the Liberty Police Department, he wants to find Buck, but he doesn’t think he’s the murderer.  Charlie keeps pointing out that Buck had the motive.

Sadie is enjoying Hawaii, its tropical lushness and kind people.  She becomes friends with Pua, who works for the travel agency at the Hawaiian end, but Sadie is worried about Buck and decides she’d better go home.  Then the island she’s on has an earthquake, which cancels flights and makes life difficult for the islanders until power and normalcy is restored.

I enjoy Hoklotubbe’s books.  I always learn more about contemporary Cherokee culture from the inside.  I didn’t know that so many Indians had served in World War. II, a higher percentage of their American ethnic group than in any other.  The connection between the Oklahoma Cherokees and the native Hawaiian family, with Japanese ancestors, was interesting.  Both groups had similar experiences with the dominant white Americans, who mistreated the Cherokees from the Trail of Tears up to the present day, and Hawaiians were not treated well by the U.S. military during World War II.

I like the quiet, almost reverent tone that Hoklotubbe uses to tell her story.  It’s a good story, simply told, with plenty of puzzles along the way.  I recommend it.

Margaret Coel, author of the Wind River mysteries, wrote: “Another intriguing mystery from a gifted storyteller.  With a sure hand, Sara Sue Hoklotubbe ratchets up the suspense while exploring the myths, passions, and fears of modern-day Cherokees.”



Sara Sue Hoklotubbe , a Cherokee tribal citizen, is the author of the award-winning Sadie Walela mystery series.  The American CafĂ© received the New Mexico-Arizona Mystery Book of the Year Award, the WILLA Literary Award, and the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Mystery of the Year Award.  Sara won the Writer of the Year Award from Wordcraft Circle for Deception on All Accounts.  She and her husband live in Colorado.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Interview with Ruth Moose

Ruth Moose's debut mystery, winner of the 2013 Malice Domestic First Best Traditional Mystery from St. Martin's Press, 2014.


1. When did you begin writing? Why? 

My grandfather was a Baptist preacher and one of my earliest memories was watching him write sermons with a leaky fountain. When he left his desk, I picked up his pen and "wrote" all over his sermon. I was severely scolded, maybe even spanked, but I knew even then I loved to write.
2. When and why did you begin writing mysteries? 

As a short story writer I had trouble plotting (I still do). Doris Betts, my first creative writing teacher at UNC, told me to write a mystery to teach myself to plot.
3. Are you writing a series or a stand alone? Explain your basic idea for your series. 

I simply wrote a book.
4.Tell us about your journey to publication with this book. 

Doing it at the Dixie Dew was written in l987 on a Kaypro word processor, converted to a Dell, then later to an Apple. In 2013 I entered it in the Malice Domestic competition at St. Martin's Press and it won, was published 2014. 

5. Why did you choose to write about the topic, community, issues you chose? 

I love small towns, the South. This is what I know. 

6.How have you found it to be published? Share that experience. 

I've published 3 collections of short stories, 6 books of poetry and nobody much noticed. A novel gets attention. And reviews. I have been so pleased and proud to have "readers" and glowing e-mails. 

7. Comments from readers/reviewers. 

Wonderful comments from people who liked my characters, wanted to live in my mythical town. People who want more of these imaginary people. 

8. What other books have you published? 

My collections of short stories have been published by university and small presses. St. Andrews University published The Wreath Ribbon Quilt and Other Stories. August House published Dreaming in Color and Main Street Press published Neighbors and Other Strangers. 

9. Do you have a work in progress now? Is it part of a series? 

Wedding Bell Blues is the sequel to Dixie Dew and it's to be out from St. Martin's in 2015. 

10.Do you belong to Sisters in Crime? 

Yes, I am a member, and I find the local chapter supportive. It's an organization that really promotes work by women writers. 

11. Is it a benefit to go to mystery conference like Malice Domestic? 

Yes, you meet great people/readers and writers.
12. What else can you say about your books?  

Reviewers have said Dixie Dew was "laugh out loud" and more humorous than frightening. I see such odd and unusual things in everyday life that beg to be included in fiction. The new book has some even funnier events, yet there is always an underlying theme of social concerns and life in a small Southern town, with unusual characters. I never plot out a book, but work for character as in my short stories, then let the characters become the story.


Doing It at the Dixie Dew is Ruth Moose’s first novel.  It was published by St. Martin’s Press in May 2014, after she won the $10,000 Malice Domestic First Best Traditional Mystery award in 2013.  In the past forty years she has published 1200 poems, short stories, book reviews, and columns.  She has three collections of short stories: The Wreath Ribbon Quilt, Dreaming in Color, and Neighbors and Other Strangers.  She has had her work published in Holland, South Africa, England, and Denmark as well as all over the U.S.  Of her six collections of poetry, the most recent is The Librarian and other Poems.  She received a MacDowell fellowship, and in 2009, a prestigious Chapman fellowship for teaching.  Originally from Albemarle, she now lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina, where she continues to write and teach since her retirement from the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Creative Writing Department in 2010.  With an authentic Southern voice, her characters resonate the humor and tragedy of everyday lives.