Today we welcome back Jodi Rath, author of the Cast Iron Skillet Mysteries. Jodi is one of the ten authors featured in a new Valentine’s Day anthology. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
Whodunit versus Howdunit—One Writer’s Journey in Learning
I was thrilled to be asked to join a cozy Valentine’s Day anthology with other remarkable authors. I had just released book one, Pineapple Upside Down Murder, in my cozy culinary series, The Cast Iron Skillet Mysteries. I was already busy working on book two, Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder, which will be available in June, when I got the email asking if I’d like to join. My immediate question was to ask who else would be contributing to the anthology. I was told the wonderful CeeCee James, Karin Kauffman, Stephanie Damore, Donna Walo Clancy, Patti Benning, Carolyn Q. Hunter, Gretchen Allen, and Summer Prescott. How could I say no?
I had to set Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder aside but realized I didn’t have time to write an entire book by the anthology deadline. So I opted to write a short story, “Sweet Retreat”. As I began writing, I immediately realized I couldn’t have as many characters as I did in Pineapple Upside Down Murder. This threw me for a bit of a loop. I had plotted the story out realizing I wasn’t writing a whodunnit at all.
I had to begin researching if there were other ways to write mysteries—which was a bit embarrassing seeing that I’ve read mysteries for as long as I can remember. I found out there are also howdunnits in the mystery world, and my plot definitely fell under that category. I started to get a bit nervous writing my first short story for publication while also writing my first howdunnit. I’m happy to say I did it with the brilliant help of Rebecca Grubb, one of my editing team members!
Being a teacher for two decades, I can’t help but love to continue learning. I’ve relished getting reader reviews for Pineapple Upside Down Murder—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I started a notebook of pointers that my readers have given me, and I use them to help me as I continue to work on my series.
My grandma gave me her 70-year-old cast iron skillet for Christmas in 2017—she had only ever made upside-down pineapple cake in it. Thus came the title of the series and Book One! I’m thrilled to have the honor of working with other incredible women writers in this anthology. I’m equally excited to be back with Anastasia Pollack—Lois Winston has been a wonderful inspiration to me in many ways. I hope to have a long-lasting relationship with all these authors. How lucky can one girl be?
Cast Iron Creation Valentine’s Day Berry Cake
(Recipe adapted from: https://toasterovenlove.com)
Serves 1 or 2
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons milk
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup frozen berries (do not thaw)
Ice cream, melted chocolate chips, whipped cream, yogurt
Preheat toaster oven to 350 F and lightly oil a 3-1/2 inch cast iron skillet.
In a small bowl mix together the flour, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until well combined, and no oil is sitting on the top. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared skillet. Top with frozen berries and sprinkle remaining brown sugar over fruit.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 17 to 22 minutes (times may vary depending on your oven) until the cake is lightly golden and the fruit is bubbly.
Allow cake to cool 5 to 8 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite toppings.
Lots and lots of chocolate
Grab a cup of cocoa and get ready to spend Valentine’s Day with a heart-warming collection of ten Valentine’s themed cozy mysteries from some of the most popular authors in the genre. There are short stories, novellas, and full-length books in the set, all of which are sure to grab you from the first page and take you on a thrill-filled ride through the sweetest holiday of the year.