Monday, February 09, 2015

Guest Blog by Mary Ellen Hughes: My Ten Favorite Things about Writing LICENSE TO DILL - and Giveaway - February 9, 2015

Please welcome Mary Ellen Hughes to The Qwillery. License to Dill, the 2nd Pickled & Preserved Mystery, was published on February 3rd by Berkley.

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…

License to Dill
A Pickled & Preserved Mystery 2
Berkley, February 3, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

From the author of The Pickled Piper comes another Pickled and Preserved Mystery…

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.



The Pickled Piper
A Pickled & Preserved Mystery 1
Berkley, May 6, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages


After her dreams of romance are crushed, Piper Lamb decides to pursue her dream of opening her own shop of pickles and preserves, called Piper’s Picklings, in the idyllic small town of Cloverdale. But she isn’t in town long before she encounters a barrelful of trouble…

The Cloverdale fair offers Piper a sweet opportunity to promote her business. With her new assistant, Amy, she sets up a booth centered around an eye-catching display of the ever-popular dills in an old-fashioned barrel of brine.

But things soon turn sour when fairgoers witness a fight between Amy’s boyfriend, Nate, and town council blowhard—and bagpipe player—Alan Rosemont. When Rosemont is found floating in Piper’s barrel, Nate becomes the prime murder suspect. With Amy’s boyfriend in a pretty pickle, there’s no time to dillydally. But as Piper searches for the real killer, she needs to be careful to preserve her own life…or she may end up a pickled Piper herself.


About Mary Ellen Hughes

Mary Ellen Hughes lives in Maryland with her husband, Terry, who has long provided her with bounties of homegrown fruits and vegetables for preserving and pickling as well as unique inspiration for her mysteries.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest

Twitter @mehughesauthor

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of License to Dill by Mary Ellen Hughes from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on February 21, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. it looks great, fun series, thank you for the chance to win :)

  2. A Pickled & Preserved Mystery series look like a delightful read. I am looking forward to doing so. Thank you for the giveaway.

  3. Never read anything by this author, but the book looks great!

  4. I somehow missed this series and must take care of that!

  5. The titles are wonderful and they alone are enough to make me want to read this series!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I have the first book in this series and enjoyed it thoroughly. I'd love to win a copy of License to Dill for my home library

    I forgot to add my email addie the first time.


  8. Haven't read the first one yet, but I've been wanting the book. I've read some of your other books, including ones in the crafting series. I don't like pickles.

  9. I love the titles.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  10. Want a new series to read and this is it!!!

  11. I have the first one, but haven't read it yet. I am still certain I will want to read this one too.

  12. For some reason my mouth just puckers up seeing the title of this book. I love dill pickles!

  13. Looks like a fantastic series. Looking forward to reading.

  14. I read The Pickled Piper and loved it—can't wait to read this new book!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  15. Haven't read the first yet, but I'm looking forward to catching up with The Pickled Piper and reading what sounds like a very good sequel. Thanks for the chance to win.

  16. Thank you, I received the book today.