Hello from fall! A Dismal Harvest has been out for six months now, and we’re just getting to the season when it’s set. (My tomatoes are just about done and it’s time to start thinking about planting some winter vegetables, a phrase my Canadian husband found hilarious the first time he heard me say it.) We’re just back from Bouchercon, the mystery world’s biggest convention, held in person for the first time since 2019. Which meant it was the first one I’ve been to as a published author, and I have to say, A+ experience, would definitely recommend. I participated in one panel (“Cozies With an Edge”), spent far too much time having shouted conversations with other authors in the bar, and saw two fistfights (not involving authors) (as far as I know). Minneapolis is an unexpectedly exciting place! Then we flew to Seattle and took an overnight train ride home, during which no mysterious foreigners were murdered or famous necklaces stolen. Oh well, there’s always next time.
Speaking of times in the future, I just registered for the next Left Coast Crime, Tuscon 2023! Hope to see some of you there.
ADAM AND STEVE (SciFi Romance)
The time is the distant future (or is it?) and the place a dying planet that has become the last refuge of humanity (this one checks out). A bold plan is hatched to send a spaceship to look for a new home, with an experienced crew to shepherd its precious cargo of lab-grown infants, to be held in stasis until the ship reaches its destination. One of those crew members is Adam Wright, expert navigator and all-around cynic. Adam had expected a lot of things that could go wrong with the journey, but one thing he hadn’t counted on was a malfunction in the ship’s systems that killed all of the adults, aside from himself and one other man. Making matters worse is that man is Steve Pyne, the terminally cheerful mechanic with whom Adam had a disastrous one-night stand the day before the launch. And, oh yes, the scanners have detected a suitable planet, and the automatic incubators have begun their countdown. So now the future of humanity depends on Adam and Steve getting over their differences and, with the help of five judgmental robot nannies making a home for their suddenly-growing family in this new world.
DIAL Z FOR ZUCCINI (Cozy Mystery)
Culinarily challenged former scientist Kelly has inherited her grandmother’s house in the country at the same time her landlord raises her rent by 300%. So she decides to take her chance on remote work and packs up her parrot and her houseplants to move to a place where wall phones are still a thing. She has a lot to learn about the local culture, like how you’re expected to wave when driving past anyone you know, and doors are never locked. Except, that is, in the height of summer, when an open door is an invitation for zucchini delivery. Which is how Kelly ends up with twenty-three pounds of oversized cucurbits on her kitchen counter and, even worse, the corpse of the neighborhood’s worst busybody down her basement steps. Now it’s up to her to catch the killer and decipher her granny’s legendary zucchini bread recipe before her new life is spoiled in more ways than one. (The first in the Seasonal Vegetables mystery series.)
MALL BATS (Horror)
Malls aren’t just for zombies anymore. It’s been years since the Centerville Galleria was the place to shop and be seen, and the remaining stores are barely hanging onto life. But its windowless confines have attracted a new set of tenants, ones who are less interested in turning a profit than in turning the few remaining shoppers into an all-you-can-suck food court. Vampires Emiliana, Andrezi, and Dustin have been disaffected teenagers for five hundred years now, and they’re ready to try something new. Unfortunately for Centerville, that something involves luring all of the town’s young people to a midnight ball, where they will be the refreshments. And the only people standing in their way are the elderly owner of a Tibetan import shop who knows a few things about garlic and a Hot Topic assistant manager with a dark history and a worse temper.
During my Bouchercon panel the moderator jokingly suggested that one of the questions she should ask me was to recommend three cheeses for a cheese board. Then she moved on to her real question, but obviously I couldn’t let a challenge like that stand. So by the end of the panel I had my list, (of all Northern Calfornia cheeses, because I am nothing if not devoted to a bit) and now I can share it with you.
Mt. Tam (Cowgirl Creamery): A classic for a reason. Bloomy rind, triple cream, buttery with a touch of mushroom character. If you catch anyone digging out the middle, don’t invite them back.
Bay Blue (Pt. Reyes Cheese Co.): My hands-down favorite blue, which has made it into this newsletter at least once before. Mild and sweet enough to be snackable, blue enough to be serious. Serve with almonds and honeycomb for a real experience.
Aged Cheddar (Fiscalini): One thing that has become clear to me in the course of my cheese pursuits is that just about everyone likes a nice bit of cheddar. And this, Fiscalini’s aged and bandage-wrapped option, is a very nice bit of cheddar. Sharp and crumbly with the slightest touch of funk, it’s the sort of thing that reminds you how this cheese got to be everyone’s favorite in the first place. (It also makes the best cheeseburger, specifically the one at Chop Bar.)