Thursday, March 20, 2014

Writing your life passion into your mystery: Guest post by Judy Alter

Please join me in welcoming award winning novelist Judy Alter to Killer Hobbies today.  Judy shares my passion for dogs, practices yoga five days a week, and loves cooking.  How could I not like her? And she taught me about a whole new breed of dog--the bordoodle! 

I am delighted to be Tracy Weber’s guest because I loved Murder Strikes a Pose. Tracy weaves two threads into the mystery that are part of my life, making the story particularly meaningful to me: dogs and yoga. I am wildly enthusiastic about dogs and wish I was more enthusiastic about yoga which I sometimes lump with my chores—I need Tracy nearby as a coach.

For years a good friend of mine practiced yoga, finally working herself up to accreditation as a yoga teacher, a Thai Vedic yoga practitioner, and a Cooper Clinic Certified Wellness Therapist. I cheered with her at each accomplishment but kept my distance from what I thought was sort of woo-woo stuff. Now I can’t remember exactly what changed my mind, but it may well have been the approach of my seventieth birthday and the increasing lack of flexibility that comes with age. And I was bored with the indoor bike, had no walking partner, and didn’t want to walk alone.

Years and years ago I took a yoga class and hated it. It was the first time a mirror showed me that parts of my face didn’t stay in place when I bent over—and I felt inferior or clumsy compared to others in the class. So when I told Elizabeth I wanted to learn yoga, I said I wanted private lessons, and she obligingly came to my house. Now I practice my poses five days a week (in an ideal week) in the comfort of my own family room. She tells me the poses I do are specifically designed for my age and physical condition, and I was delighted one day when she watched me do “Boat” and asked, “Do you realize how much strength that takes?” No, I can’t do pigeon.

Elizabeth quickly learned that I didn’t want candles and soft Eastern music playing while relaxing at the end of the session. I soon enough learned to close my eyes and avoid distraction during that meditation period—after she caught me with my head turned and said, “You’re reading the titles in the bookshelf, aren’t you?” I don’t to that any more, I really meditate.

As I read Tracy’s book, I recognized many poses and sometimes thought, “I’ll have to watch for that when I do that pose,” etc. I try for the peaceful, gentle approach to life of the true yogi—but then Tracy’s character doesn’t always get there either.

I have been a dog lover all my life, though Bella, the oversize German shepherd with behavior issues, might stymie me a bit. But I’ve had collies, Cairns, farm collies, a bearded collie, an Irish wolfhound, Aussies, and labs. Now I have Sophie, an adorable Bordoodle (deliberate border collie/miniature poodle mix).

I’m semi-active in dog rescue circles, meaning I share every stray, lost, endangered dog I see on Facebook, post neighbors’ lost pets, and consider myself responsible, at least in part, for some rescues and adoptions. All those pictures tear at my heart, and it’s a struggle to keep Sophie an only dog. I’m torn between thinking she’d love company and she’d resent an intruder into her comfortable life. But with her definite personality, Sophie is a real presence in my home and my life.

I cannot imagine a life without dogs, and I believe the saying that you can’t trust a person who doesn’t like dogs but you can always trust a dog who doesn’t like a person.

My mysteries have a lot do with food, because I love to cook. The newest in my Blue Plate Mysteries, Murder at The Tremont House, includes a café, a B&B, and a cooking school. I write about food because it’s one of the passions of my life. (In my next life I hope to be a chef.) Tracy has written her life passion into her story—a good lesson or all authors.

Murder at Tremont House is the second Blue Plate Mystery from award-winning novelist Judy Alter, following the successful Murder at the Blue Plate Café. Judy is also the author of four books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, and Danger Comes Home. With the Blue Plate Murder series, she moves from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her family’s favorites.

Follow Judy at or her two blogs at or Or look for on Facebook at!/pages/Judy-Alter-Author/366948676705857?fref=ts or on Twitter where she is @judyalter.


Linda O. Johnston said...

Welcome to Killer Hobbies, Judy. I haven't gotten into yoga yet, but I love Tracy's books. And I definitely love and identify with your attitude about dogs! I'll Googled Bordoodles to see what they look like, and they're adorable.

Arlene said...

Hi, Judy. I love yoga, but don't take the time to do it nearly often enough. I like that you said you want to be a chef in your next life — I've said the same thing. It's either chef or massage therapist.

Judy Alter said...

Thanks, Linda. I love my bordoodle--she is sweet but also active and mischievous. And she does shed--little clumps, not one hair at a time like labs. I really could not live without a dog for companionship. Try yoga--I believe it has saved my from injury in several spills I've taken.

Judy Alter said...

Thanks, Linda. I love my bordoodle--she is sweet, lively and playful. She's a great companion--except at 4 a.m. which she has decided is a great time to go outside. I could not live without a dog for company. Try yoga--I think it has saved me from injury in several spills.

Judy Alter said...

Oh, Arlene. I don't think I want to be a massage therapist, but who knows? I'd have to start a lot younger to be a chef--couldn't take the hours on my feet any more.

Holly Gilliatt said...

Fun post! And it was ironic...just yesterday I wrote a scene with the character doing yoga while her dog bothered her. :)

Linda O. Johnston said...

We've got the blog set up so we have to approve comments, Judy, so that's why your initial response didn't show up at once, and why you wound up sending another similar one! Now if only I'd read my own comment better before posting it with typos...

Tracy Weber said...

Hi all! Linda--sorry, but I didn't get a message saying there was a comment to approve. Do you know how I can do that or look for them? I wonder if that's why no comments ever appear on my posts?