My Ten Favorite Things about Writing License to Dill
Starting a new series is always exciting, but it’s also plenty of hard, intensive work. There’s so many decisions to make, such as where to set it, who your characters will be, their relationships, and so on, which is what I went through with The Pickled Piper, book #1 of my Pickled and Preserved mystery series. After careful thought, I chose upstate New York as my setting and named my fictional town Cloverdale. I sent my twenty-nine year old principal character, Piper Lamb, there from Albany after she ended her going-nowhere engagement. And I put Piper’s Aunt Judy and Uncle Frank on a nearby farm, gave Piper a great assistant for her pickling shop, and introduced Piper to Will, a handsome Christmas tree farmer. So all the important decisions were made with book #1.
Book #2, License to Dill, by comparison, turned out to be a breeze. Everything was set up and ready to go! All I needed to do was write the mystery (“all” she added, laughingly). But having already done the ground work, I could now relax and focus on the plot, which became the first of my…
Ten Favorite Things About Writing License to Dill :
1. My characters, after a couple of weeks of rest, were super-eager for action. They practically snatched the pages from me to get back to work.
2. Piper and her new boyfriend, Will, had progressed beyond the awkward getting-to-know-you stage and were pretty happy and comfortable with each other.
3. Of course, I couldn’t let that continue, so I brought Piper’s ex-fiancé, Scott, back from his travels, and he decided to settle in Cloverdale. (Uh-oh.)
4. I imported an entire soccer team of handsome young men from Italy to challenge Cloverdale’s All-Stars, which meant writing exciting soccer scenes. I now understand the game much better!
5. The Italian team’s coach and manager occasionally spoke Italian. With the help of a Italian-born friend, I learned several useful Italian phrases and sometimes found myself writing with an Italian accent!
6. Since a dill field figures importantly in the murder, I learned—and shared in the book—quite a bit about growing and using fresh dill. I could practically smell that wonderful weed as I typed.
7. Since Piper makes all the pickles and preserves for her shop herself (with the help of her assistant, Amy), I kept various pickles on hand, because writing pickling scenes was sure to bring on a craving.
8. Piper spends plenty of time with her Aunt Judy and Uncle Frank at their farm. Whenever Piper drove up, Jack, their mixed-breed dog went crazy with excitement. I, unfortunately, am allergic to dogs, but I could enjoy petting Jack vicariously through Piper—with no sneezes!
9. While looking into the murder, Piper meets several people in the Cloverdale area with new-to-me occupations. I particularly loved writing about the chainsaw sculptor and will have to seriously consider bringing him back some day.
10. After spending months with Piper and all the people of Cloverdale in The Pickled Piper, I became pretty fond of them. (Well, most of them. There was, after all, a murderer in the mix.) But writing License to Dill was like going to a reunion—lots of fun getting reacquainted with everyone. But I do hope they’ve forgiven me by now for what I’ve put them through…
About The Author
Mary Ellen Hughes is the author of the Craft Corner mystery series – WREATH OF DECEPTION, STRING OF LIES, and PAPER-THIN ALIBI – as well as the Maggie Olenski mysteries – RESORT TO MURDER and A TASTE OF DEATH.
She has also authored several short stories, including THE WOMAN ON THE TRAIN, and short mysteries included in the Chesapeake Crimes and Tales from the Backlist anthologies.
A transplanted Wisconsinite, Mary Ellen now lives in Maryland where she is excited to be working on her new Pickled and Preserved mystery series beginning with THE PICKLED PIPER.
License to Dill
(Pickled and Preserved Mystery)
2nd Book in Series
Setting – New York
Release Date: February 3, 2015
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Chris O’Leary
Cover Design by Karen Oberrender
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00NUMIDHC
Piper Lamb knows how to make fruits and vegetables keep for months. Unfortunately, it’s the people around her who are expiring too soon…
After her fiancé left her, Piper came to Cloverdale to rebuild her life and open up her shop, Piper’s Picklings, to sell pickles and preserves. When her ex decides to drop in for a visit—just as things are heating up between her and a local Christmas tree farmer—Piper finds herself in a jam.
But there are other visitors to worry about…
An Italian soccer team is set to play the Cloverdale All-Stars in an exhibition game. Their manager, Raffaele Conti, was a bitter rival of Piper’s dill supplier, local farmer Gerald Standley. After Conti is found dead in Standley’s field, Piper must work to clear Gerald’s name and find out who relished killing Raffaele before the town is soured by another death.
I knew that darn Scott was going to be trouble when he appeared in Cloverdale at the end of The Pickled Piper and he is sticking around too, renting an office just down the street from Piper’s store. Piper does her best to fully explain to him their relationship is over, but Scott does not give up. Thankfully Will is a patient man but Scott just keeps popping up everywhere, even at the exhibition soccer game where he wedges himself into the seat closest to Piper. When the manager of the Italian team is killed he even tries to help Piper catch the killer. Piper truly has herself in a pickle as she tries to clear her friend’s name and make it clear to Scott she has moved on.
I love Piper, she is really making herself at home in Cloverdale. She still visits her Uncle Frank and Aunt Judy often but is branching out making new friends and her relationship with Will was moving at a nice pace. She made me laugh out loud several times and caused me to worry about her too as she finds herself in more than a bit of trouble.
Mary Ellen Hughes has given readers a nice treat by adding a few hunky Italian soccer players to the story. The way she tied this into the whole plot is very interesting and gives us a barrel full of suspects.
The story has a wonderful mystery, fun characters, a nice romantic subplot and the perfect amount of humor. I am already looking forward to my next visit to Cloverdale!!
Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”