Monday, January 14, 2019

"FUN": Guest post by Debra H. Goldstein

Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Find out more about Debra at


I am a voracious reader. It’s a habit I honed to perfection when I was bored in school. My modus operandi was check out a book from the library every morning, slip it into my text books for reading during class, and return it the next morning. I read all genres, but my favorite books are mysteries and biographies because they let me completely lose myself for a few hours in another world. This has always been important because the demands of being a litigator and then a judge, a wife and mother of four, a civic volunteer, and thinking about writing, never permitted a lot of “me” time. Reading was and is my get-away-from-it-all “fun.”

When I began writing fiction seriously, I decided to write the kind of book that gave me the most pleasure –mysteries. My first book, 2012 IPPY winning Maze in Blue, an academic mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus, was a breeze. Having attended Michigan for my undergraduate degree, the book didn’t require extensive research. I wrote about the campus, students, faculty, and activities I knew.

After Maze was published, the publisher ceased operations. Stunned, I talked to agents, editors and writers. Everyone told me to write something new. The result was a traditional mystery with cozy elements, Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery. Again, the research was somewhat limited because I stole the setting from a community I often visited, the protagonist was a young corporate lawyer - exactly my first legal job, and the Mah Jongg players and other characters were composites of people I knew.

Unfortunately, shortly after Poker was published, the publisher shuttered its mystery line. This time, I knew I wanted to write a true cozy, but I had a problem. Most cozies feature individuals who are experts in a craft or are marvelous in the kitchen. I’m neither, but I am a good researcher. Using what I gleaned from my research, I wrote pages galore of a new book. When I read what I wrote, I realized I had a problem. My work in progress was boring and anything but “fun” to read.

I didn’t like it, and, if that was the case, neither would anyone else. That’s when it hit me – there are plenty of people in the world who think being in the kitchen is like being in a foreign country or whose craft efforts evoke roars of laughter. Why not be honest and include that kind of character in a book?

Once I embraced Sarah Blair, a character who isn’t perfect in the kitchen or at much else, I couldn’t stop the flow of words nor stem the “fun” of writing them. Hopefully, the “fun” I’m having writing about Sarah will be shared by One Taste Too Many’s readers.

Here’s a taste of what I consider “fun.”

For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder! 

Sarah knew starting over after her divorce would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by her twin sister’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and her twin wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!
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Debra H. Goldstein said...

Thanks for having me today!

Pam Hopkins said...

ONE TASTE TOO MANY is a fun read; very entertaining with plot twists. Sure enjoyed reading it.

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Thank you for having me today