Category Archives: Cooking

Feta Attraction Cover

Return to Downton–Part Two

Hello, my darlings! Suze here. What’s new with you? Lots of things going on in Suze-ville. Like, I heard from my editor and the Berkley team is working on my cover! My Greek restaurant series has a new, adorable name: The Georgie’s Kitchen Mysteries. Book 1 will be called Feta Attraction. I’ll be sure to let you know when I have a release date!

In the meantime, my Downton Abbey obsession continues. If you missed my post from a couple of weeks ago, click here.  So here are some more predictions for the characters of DA:

Lady Mary, what's wrong with you? Are you really going to let Lord Gillingham marry someone else?
Lady Mary, what’s wrong with you? Are you really going to let Lord Gillingham marry someone else?

Mrs. Hughes:  Guilt from the lie she told Mr. Bates continues to eat away at her.  So she hatches a plan to exact revenge on Lord Gillingham’s valet. Throwing everyone off the scent by saying she is needed by an elderly aunt suffering from the gout in the Outer Hebrides, Mrs. Hughes steals the estate car and travels to Gillingham’s estate. She lures the valet outside under cover of darkness and promptly dispatches him, stuffing his body into the trunk then driving back to the Abbey.  The next day, she presents Mrs. Patmore with a large amount of ground meat and requests that she make pasties.

Alfred: Fresh from his disappointment at not being accepted into the chef school, Alfred continues to hone his craft in the Downton kitchens.  After catching James kissing Ivy in the scullery, he secretly laces one of the savories (which he whipped up from some of the leftover meat he found in the newfangled refrigerator) with a powerful laxative and offers it to James. But before James can take it from the tray, Molesley swoops in and pops the tainted treat into his mouth. He spends the next few hours in the servants’ loo, lamenting his lowly, not-able-to-get-a-buttling-job state.

Carson: Carson refuses to eat the pasties, having seen what Mrs. Hughes has done. Although he now realizes he loves her passionately, his respect for her is erased and he knows he can no longer stay at Downton. He retires to his room and makes plans for his return to the stage. Working feverishly, in a single night he blocks out the choreography for a new production: The Downton Burlesque Revue.

Cousin Rose. Cousin Rose, desperate for a part in Carson’s show, enlists the aid of the Countess’s new maid (what’s-her-name) and her mad sewing skills to make her a costume–complete with rip-away bodice and a fan made from feathers pinched from the hats of The Dowager Countess and Isobel Crawley.  She wows Carson and it’s off to London with the two of them, where they mingle with all the wrong sorts of people. The Downton Burlesque Revue? It’s a smash!

Edith. Jealous, Edith decides she also wants to be in the show, so she steals Rose’s costume and tries it on. However, due to the fact that her midsection is swelling noticeably, she cannot fit into the tights and skirt.  Her cries of anguish can be heard all the way to Germany.

That’s all for now. Do you watch Downton Abbey? What do you think should happen?

Holiday Happenings!

Merry Christmas Eve!

PJ Sharon here, there, and everywhere, currently coming to you from the coziness of my living room.christmas tree I’m wrapping last minute packages and the smell of fresh baked cornbread is wafting in from the kitchen. I hope you’re all taking some time off during the holidays to spend with loved ones. I’m grabbing a few days off, but since writers are never totally on vacation, here’s what I’ll be up to until the end of the month.

For the past ten days, I’ve been part of the Sleigh Bells Ring, Are you Listening, giant audiobook giveaway hosted by Rita Award winning author, Wendy Lindstrom. Today is the last day to enter if you want to be in the running for a chance to win some awesome audiobooks, an MP3 Player, or even an iPod Nano! Just click here to bring you to the Sleigh Bells Ring are you Listening contest page where you’ll find a Rafflecopter entry form. It’s super easy, and only takes a minute, I promise!Sleighbells ring promo pic You might even win an audiobook of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES.

I’m also participating in the Awesome Indies Holiday Book Bonanza, where dozens of e-books are on sale for only .99 cents between December 26-30th.aia_holidays (1) If you aren’t familiar with Awesome Indies, it’s a great organization of Industry professionals who read, rate, and review books by Independently published authors. They have very stringent criteria that have to be met, so you can rest assured that approved books are top notch! I’m proud to say, WANING MOON and WESTERN DESERT made the cut and are now listed on their front page! For my writing friends out there, check out their website at http://awesomeindies.net/ for some invaluable resource material (check out their criteria for submission info).

While WANING MOON, book one in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael is only .99 cents, WESTERN DESERT, book two in the trilogy is up for FREE from December 26-28th.

Available NOW!
Available NOW!

 Bookmark this page and come back during the sale for easy links to the books on Amazon or find links on the Awesome Indies Holiday Bonanza Book sale page. With all those new Kindles under Christmas trees everywhere, I couldn’t think of a better time to offer WESTERN DESERT up for FREE! If you’ve got teen readers at home or enjoy reading YA dystopian romance yourself, here is your chance to get both books for less than a dollar. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Please help me spread the word about this great opportunity by sharing this post on your Facebook page, twitter, or other social media. Simply click on the social media button of choice below and add a note of encouragement for friends to download WESTERN DESERT for FREE from Thursday to Saturday this week. Promotions like this are the best way authors can give back to readers, and readers can show their support of their favorite authors by spreading the news, leaving reviews, and chatting about the books with friends and family. As always, your support is greatly appreciated and means the world to me. May you be blessed with good health, peace, prosperity, balance and harmony in the coming year!

So that’s where I’ll be and what I’ll be up to for the next week or so. In the meantime, enjoy the holidays, squeeze in some “healthy” food choices, and plan a nice hike for after your Christmas dinner.

I’m making our traditional spiral ham. How about you?

Devilishly Delicious

Hey, all, Suze here. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for you in case you need to bring something to a holiday potluck–Deviled Eggs. They might seem a little bit old-fashioned, but people love them. Bonus? They’re very inexpensive to make. (Let somebody else bring the shrimp, LOL!) This recipe can be easily halved if you don’t have a big crowd. Sorry there’s no picture, but here’s how I do it:

Suze’s Deviled Eggs

  • 1 dozen medium or large eggs (tip: buy your eggs at least a week in advance and of course keep in the fridge–super-fresh eggs are difficult to peel)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard (whatever you have on hand–but I like a spicy brown mustard like Gulden’s)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I like the kind that’s made with olive oil, such as Hellman’s)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (dill pickle relish is also delicious, for a different taste)
  • Pinch each of salt and pepper

First, boil the eggs. Here’s how to do it to get a perfectly yellow yolk, with no ugly green ring (that comes from overcooking). Place your eggs in a large saucepan (I use a Dutch oven) and cover with cold water. Turn on the heat, cover the pot, and bring the water up to a boil. Now set a kitchen timer and allow the eggs to boil for 4 minutes (medium eggs) or 6 minutes (large eggs). Remove the pot from the burner, keep the lid on, and leave the eggs sitting in the hot water for 7 minutes (medium eggs) or 9 minutes (large eggs). Do not walk away and forget them! Immediately plunge the eggs into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. At this point you can let them cool in the fridge until you are ready to assemble them.

Peel the eggs. To do this, hopefully without damaging the whites, give the egg a firm but gentle tap on the counter to crack the shell. Roll it around in your hand to further break and loosen the shell, then begin to carefully peel the egg. Give the denuded egg a rinse to remove any stray bits of shell, and set it on a paper towel to drain/dry. Repeat till all the eggs are finished.

Slice the eggs. Using a sharp knife, slice the eggs in half lengthwise, popping the yolk out into a separate bowl. Wipe the knife with a paper towel in between to keep your whites looking nice.

Mix the filling. Using a fork, mash up the yolks into a fine crumble. Add the mustard, pickle relish, salt, pepper. Add the mayonnaise, starting with the smallest amount and adding more as needed–you can always add more, but you can’t take it out! Don’t make the mixture too runny, otherwise it won’t stay in the egg. Mix up and taste for seasoning.

Stuff it! Now comes the fun part. Using a decorator doohickey (I have one from Pampered Chef) or a teaspoon and a knife (same way you would make a drop cookie), fill each egg. Not too full, or you may run out of filling before you get to all the eggs. You can always go back and add more at the end.

Decorate. If you want to get extra fancy, you can add a tiny decoration to each egg. Some suggestions are: little sweet gherkin pickles sliced into rounds; sliced pimiento-stuffed olives; a wee sprig of fresh dill; a few (well-drained) capers; an itty-bitty slice of roasted red pepper. Some people like to sprinkle paprika over the eggs for color, but I don’t really care for the raw paprika taste so I don’t do this.

That’s it! What appetizers always make an appearance on your holiday table?

All Jammed Up

Hey, friends, Suze here. It’s June, and you know what that means in New England–fiddleheads, asparagus, and strawberries.

th[1]You don’t know what a fiddlehead is? It’s an edible fern still in its curled-up stage, and, yes, it looks like the scroll-y end of a violin. The season is super short–like about 10 days or so because they have zero shelf life and must be picked locally, one by one. They taste something like a cross between asparagus, green beans, and broccoli. Lightly steamed and tossed with a bit of butter or olive oil and perhaps a bit of lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar, they’re delicious. And all the more delectable because they’re so fleeting. Wait one day too long and they’re a full-flown fern!

But enough about vegetables. Let’s talk about strawberries. How I love those bright red June jewels, sensual and juicy. I love them right out of the garden, their flavor intensified by the warmth of the sun. I love them sliced and tossed with just a bit of sugar, or a drizzle of real maple syrup or honey, to bring out their natural juice and sweetness, or unsweetened and topped with thick, creamy vanilla Greek yogurt. Sigh. If I didn’t have a whole flat of berries in my refrigerator, I’d want to go to the pick-your-own farm right now!

One of my favorite things to do with strawberries (and other berries too) is to make jam. If you’ve never canned anything, it might seem a little daunting, but I’m here to tell you that homemade strawberry jam is the perfect way to start your canning career. With just a bit of advance organization, it’s super easy! One taste of freshly made strawberry jam on a whole grain English muffin and you will never, ever go back to any jam you buy in the store, I guarantee. And if you make a batch or two now, you can give jars away as holiday gifts. This is a perfect recipe for sharing with friends, family and neighbors.

So here’s how to do it:

Buy your jars. I like the eight-ounce crystal quilted jelly jars made by Ball because they’re so pretty! Here in New England you can buy the jars at most grocery stores, as well as farm supply stores such as Agway and Tractor Supply. I think I’ve seen them at Walmart too. The jars themselves are reusable pretty much indefinitely as long as they aren’t chipped or cracked, so when you give away your jam, be sure to ask for your jars back eventually.

The jars will come with a two-piece lid: a metal ring and a round, flat metal top with a special coating on the underside. The metal rings can also be reused unless they are rusty, but you will need to buy new tops every time (you can buy them separately).

Buy your pectin. Pectin is a natural fruit-based gelling agent (it’s abundant in apples, for example). It comes in different forms, such as a liquid, but I prefer Sure-Jel Lower Sugar Recipe (the kind in the pink box). I have not always had good luck with other brands, but Sure-Jel has never failed me, so I stick with it. This is usually found right next to the canning jars, or sometimes near Jell-O and instant pudding in the grocery store.

Buy your berries. Get your fruit from a local farm if you possibly can. You’re supporting your neighbors and small business as well as getting a quality product. Organic is always best! You can either buy the berries already picked and pay a couple of bucks more, or get some exercise and pick them yourself. You will need about six heaping quarts of berries, or about six pounds. (Get another couple of quarts to eat fresh). To correctly pick a berry, hold the stem between your index and middle fingers and pull gently. The berry will pop off along with its little green top. Leaving the top intact keeps the fruit fresher longer.

Which berries to pick? You want them to be firm and bright red–not orangey-red or greenish-white, which means they’re underripe. Not purple-red and mushy, which means they’re overripe. The best way to judge ripeness is to taste one. It should be firm, sweet but slightly tart. If it’s extra sweet and squishy, pass it by. If you’re really not sure, err on the side of less ripe than overripe for the best tasting jam.

Take them home–do not wash until just before you’re ready to use them!–and put them in your fridge for up to a day or two.

Prepare your jars. Run the jars, lids and rings through your dishwasher while you prepare the berries (below). Keep the jars hot in the dishwasher.

Prepare your berries. Fill up your colander with berries and give them a quick rinse under cold running water, draining well. Hull the strawberries by circling the pointy tip of a paring knife around the green top, then discard the tops. Quarter the fruit and place in a bowl. Every once in a while, squish the berries with a potato masher. You want juice and bits of berry to equal six cups. When you get to six cups, you’re done and can eat the rest.

OK, I promise, the time-consuming part is done! Now with a bit of organization, you will have jam cooling on your counter in about thirty minutes.

Set up the following on the counter right next to your stove:

  • Newspaper or paper grocery bags to reduce mess (cover the counter)
  • A plus/minus one cup ladle
  • A long-handled large spoon, wooden or metal
  • A canning funnel, if you have one. Not strictly necessary, but these wide-bottom funnels are inexpensive (get them where you buy your jars or order online if you’ve got the time) and make filling the jars easier. If you don’t have one, don’t sweat it. You can just carefully ladle your jam into the jars.
  • A clean, lint-free dishcloth (the microfiber ones work well)
  • Your jars, still hot from the dishwasher
  • Your metal rings
  • Your flat metal lids, sitting in a pan or bowl of very hot water
  • A bowl containing 3-3/4 cups of granulated (white) sugar
  • A bowl containing 1/4 cup of granulated (white sugar) mixed with the contents of your box of pectin (Sure-Jel)

Now you’re cooking! These last steps go fast, and you can’t stop in the middle of the process, so make sure you won’t be interrupted.

Place your six cups of mashed berries/juice in a very large saucepan (I use my mother-in-law’s old copper-bottomed Revereware dutch oven), along with the sugar-pectin mixture. Give it a good stir and turn up the heat to high. Continue to stir until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil. What that means is that as you continue to stir, the mixture continues to boil. If you stir and the boiling bubbles subside, it’s not there yet.

When you get to the full rolling boil (usually takes about five minutes on my stove), carefully add the rest of the sugar (the 3-3/4 cups) and stir. BE CAREFUL! Working with anything this hot requires caution. Stir the mixture gently until it comes back to a full rolling boil (usually less than five minutes). Now check your watch or the kitchen clock, and boil and stir for exactly one minute, then shut off the burner.

Immediately ladle the hot mixture into one of your jars, leaving about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of space between the level of the fruit and the lip of the jar. Do not fill all the way to the top, and do not leave too much space. Using the lint-free cloth dipped in water and rung out, wipe the lip of the jar. It must be perfectly clean (water droplets are okay) in order to seal. Now place a flat metal lid (shake the water off) on the jar, and screw the metal ring onto that. Immediately turn the jar upside down on the newspaper.

Working quickly, repeat the process until your jars are filled. If you have not quite enough to fill the last jar properly, don’t worry. You will just keep that jar in your fridge and use it first (it’ll probably be gone that same day!). Wait five minutes, then turn your jars right side up and allow them to cool, undisturbed and out of any drafts. Eventually you will hear a satisfying “pop” as the jars seal. In a couple of hours, check your seals by pressing down on the flat metal lid. If there is any play in the lid, your jar may not have sealed and you should put it in the fridge rather than on the pantry shelf.

Caveat: The instructions inside the Sure-Jel package call for you to process the jars in a boiling water bath. This involves setting a rack inside a very large stock pot, filling with water, and boiling the filled, sealed jars of jam for ten or fifteen minutes. Honestly, I don’t do this. The turning-the-jars-upside-down method is an older technique that I’ve been using for years. Strawberries, and other fruits, have a high acid content that naturally inhibits growth of any nasty stuff.

You should make the decision whether to do further processing based on your comfort level. If you’re really worried, you could always just keep your jars in the fridge. They will last a long time.

And that’s it! Ever wanted to try canning? Once you get the hang of it, it’s not scary or intimidating, and the results are so worth it. Let me know if you have any questions about the process. If you’re not interested in canning, tell me about your local farm stand or your favorite place to buy fresh fruits and veggies.

Recipe Repost

Happy Thursday, Scribe peeps. Suze here. I’m working on the second book in my mystery series (more about that coming soon!) and I’m a bit short on time, so I thought I’d bring back a classic post from a while back. Like a fine leftover, I hope you enjoy it even more the second time around!

When is a fiction book not just a fiction book?  How about when it contains recipes, or knitting patterns, or the directions for some other craft project mentioned somewhere within the story?

There are lots of  fiction books out there that do this.  It’s very prevalent in cozy mysteries, many of which feature a sleuth who has some special skill or occupation that assists her in solving the crime.  There are mysteries based on/in catering, knitting, embroidery, gardening, a coffee house, a cookie store, an apple orchard, and even a cheese shop.

And it isn’t just mysteries.  Debbie Macomber, who is an avid knitter, sometimes includes patterns at the end of her romances.

Bonus material like this can be a lot of fun, and might help an author sell more books.  But these things must be done . . . delicately . . . as the Wicked Witch might say.   I’m reading a mystery right now where there are numerous references to a particular dish.  It’s clearly a clue, but that recipe is inexplicably not included with other recipes at the end of the book.  (I admit it.  I peeked.)   There’s another series where it seems the author really wants to write a cookbook — it’s long on recipes (some of which are quite yummy), but the story is a bit thin.

Lots of authors do manage to make the process seamless.  Personally, I’m waiting for some bonus material to appear in a police procedural (“How to Tap a Phone Line”), or paranormal (“Summoning Entities for Fun and Profit”) or steamy romance (Instructions for  . . . use your imagination!).

What about you?  Do you love or hate the extras?  Do you ever actually make the food or craft?  Here’s a little takeaway for you — the recipe for Tomato Cocktail, via my mother-in-law’s recipe box:

fresh-tomatoes[1]King Family Tomato Cocktail – makes about 1 quart

1 heaping quart of ripe, juicy tomatoes, roughly chopped (support your local farmstand, please!)

2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped

1 small onion (or half a large onion), roughly chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 whole cloves

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place everything into a pot and simmer 40 minutes. Let cool, then run it through a food mill to extract the skins, seeds and cloves. If you don’t have a food mill (mine is straight out of the 1950s, inherited from my mom-in-law), you can strain the whole mixture into a bowl through a colander, pushing the juice through with the back of a spoon, or just fish out the cloves and run everything through a blender or food processor (you’ll get more texture this way). Chill, stir, and enjoy. You might enjoy it more if you add some vodka, Worcestershire, and hot sauce! I like to make a double or triple batch in the summer and freeze in zippie bags for the winter. This also makes a delicious hot tomato soup to go with your grilled cheese.

Candy Crush–Cereal Killer Cookies

Hey, all, Suze here. As some of you may know, I write mysteries. Culinary cozy mysteries. I can’t talk much about my own current project just yet, but I can talk about other writers in the genre. So I’ve decided to start a new feature here at the Scribes.  Once a month or so I will introduce you to a cozy mystery author and prepare a recipe (or craft project) from one of her books. Sound like fun?

Book 17, coming in August
Book 17, coming in August

I’m starting off with one of my all-time faves, the Queen of the Culinary Cozies, Diane Mott Davidson. (Click here for a Wiki link) Diane’s series stars an espresso-swilling Colorado caterer named Gertrude “Goldy” Bear Schultz. Like her fairy tale namesake Goldilocks, she just can’t seem to keep her nose out of the business of the inhabitants of the upscale mountain town of Aspen Meadow. In each book she is called upon to cater an affair for the town’s snooty rich contingent, somebody gets killed, and Goldy finds a reason to get involved–even though her husband, Tom, a big yummy hunk of a local cop, repeatedly tells her to stay out of it. With the help of her zaftig moneybags BFF, Marla, and her assistant, aspiring chef Julian, Goldy always solves the mystery and delivers some of the most luscious recipes out there. Here’s one, from The Cereal Murders, book 3 in this long-running series:

IMGP8496Cereal Killer Cookies

2¼ cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 6-ounce packages almond brickle chips (Bits O’ Brickle or Heath Toffee chips)
1 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the oats with the brickle chips. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. In a food processor mix the sugars until blended, then gradually add butter. Continue to process until creamy and smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and process until blended. Add the flour mixture and process just until combined. Pour this mixture over the oats and brickle chips and stir until well combined. Using a 2-tablespoon measure, measure out scoops of dough and place at least 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on racks.
Makes 4 to 5 dozen

Suze’s Notes: The one tablespoon of vanilla is not a mistake. For me, this recipe made four dozen chewy cookies, plus one, not counting the raw cookie dough I ate. I used a silicone baking mat and left the cookies in for about 9 minutes because I was using the convection feature on my oven. I took them out when they were browned around the edges but still slightly gooey in the center, then left them on the cookie tray to set up before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

This recipe is a delicious twist on the classic oatmeal scotchie. Even the non-oatmeal-cookie-loving Crown Prince of Hardydom conceded that they were “pretty good,” as he grabbed another off the plate. Consensus around the Hardy house is that this recipe is a keeper!

Have you tried any new recipes lately? Do you have a series you’d like to see me feature?

Topped Chef–Interview with Author Lucy Burdette

 

topped-chef-185x300Hey, everyone, Suze here. This week I’m thrilled that mystery author Lucy Burdette is back to chat with us. I’m even more that she has a new book coming out in just a few days. Topped Chef, Book 3 in the wonderful Key West Food Critic series, releases on May 7. Here’s what Lucy has to say:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a clinical psychologist and the author of eleven mysteries (eight of them written as Roberta Isleib.) I love to eat, talk, and write food, and I spend part of the year in Key West. Throw in a couple of cats, and all that combines very nicely in the Key West food critic mystery series.

Tell us about your latest book, Topped Chef.

Topped Chef is the third book in the Key West series–which I am having an absolute ball writing! In this installment, Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow is tapped as a judge on a reality TV  cooking show. But when another judge turns up murdered, she must figure  out who’s taking the contest too seriously before she becomes the next  victim.

If you were casting a movie, who would play the characters in your Key West Food Critic series?

I am dreadful at casting movies and if this dream of one of my books becoming a film ever comes true, I will leave the details to the professionals. That said, I would love to cast Amy Adams as Hayley, and Meryl Streep as her mother! There is a drag queen character in this book too–for that I would suggest using the actual person, Randy Thompson. He’s a fabulous performer!

How do you market your books? Do you have any marketing advice for our readers?

Oh sigh, this is so hard because you can get sucked into the vortex of marketing and forget to write. I use Facebook (www.facebook.com/lucyburdette), Twitter in a half-hearted way (www.twitter.com/lucyburdette), Pinterest for generating book ideas and collecting food photos (www.pinterest.com/robertaisleib), and I blog with two wonderful groups of writers, Mystery Lovers Kitchen (www.mysteryloverskitchen.com) and Jungle Red Writers (www.jungleredwriters.com). When I’m approaching a book launch, I do as many guest posts as I can to spread the word. I try pitching magazines and radio shows. And since there is nothing better than talking with real readers in person, I schedule appearances at book stores, libraries, and conferences. And I also have a website: www.lucyburdette.com

Do you see what I mean about that vortex??

My advice is to pick a few of the many promotional options–the ones that suit your personality–and ignore the rest. And start early. And have fun at it! And try to give something to the readers–they won’t come back if your posts and updates are all about you and your newest release.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a little of both. I have to turn in a synopsis to my editor at NAL as part of my contract. But it usually turns out that when I begin writing, the book takes all kinds of U-turns in unexpected directions–which can be exhilarating, but also scary. In the book I’m writing now (or should be), the plot is kicking my butt.

How long does it take you to turn out a draft of a book? Is it an easy–or agonizing–process?

For this series, I have about nine months in between books. The first draft is always agonizing. While rewrites to me are fun!

What made you want to write cozy mysteries? Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’ve always read mysteries and I don’t like gore and violence so this genre is a natural for me. My first culinary mystery idol was Diane Mott Davidson. You might be able to imagine how thrilled I was to land a blurb from her about AN APPETITE FOR MURDER: “What fun! Lucy Burdette writes evocatively about Key West and food–a winning combination. I can’t wait for the next entry in this charming series.” DMD  Wow!

When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to spend your time?

I’m a huge reader, of women’s fiction as well as mysteries. I enjoy cooking, my pets, spending time with my family, and enough exercise to overcome the effects of all that good food.

How do you battle the Doubt Monster? We define the Doubt Monster as: the nagging feeling that your prose is terrible, your plot is silly, your characters are insipid, and no one in her right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

My best advice on that came from my writing pal Hallie Ephron: Hold your nose and write. You can’t fix something that isn’t written! And I love my writer friends who understand how hard this work is–they are always available with a crying towel if needed…

What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m in the middle of MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth Key West food critic mystery, which will be out in February 2014. The deadline is barreling down upon me! thanks so much for inviting me to visit! And best of luck with your writing Suze :)!

Thanks, Lucy! Lucy’s on her way to Malice Domestic today, but she’ll pop in from time to time and answer your questions.