When there’s a new mystery being released, everyone wins!

Have Your Cake and Murder Too Jodi RathToday I have a guest post and book excerpt from new mystery author Jodi Rath. Below, Jodi gives us a peek behind the author curtain with an introduction to the genesis of her Cast Iron Skillet mystery series. She’s also included an excerpt from the book, which is being released today.

Take it away, Jodi!

I have had my sights on being a writer since I was five years old. I was an only child and used to lock myself in my room with my stuffed animals and dolls playing “magazine” as I so humbly called it.

I signed up to win a set of encyclopedias at a county fair at age seven (yes, I know that says a lot about me as a child) and I won! I made a game of closing my eyes and pointing to a book then opening, and whatever page I landed on, I’d read the entry and then write a summary pretending I was a journalist.

In college, I took a lot of creative writing courses, even though that was not my major. I’ve kept a journal as far back as I can remember. Writing has always been a huge part of my existence. It’s been a form of therapy for me as a child and an adult in many ways as well.

So, it was no wonder, when my 87-year-old grandma gave me her 70-year-old cast iron skillet for Christmas in 2017 and told me that she had never made anything but pineapple upside down cake in it that I would take that experience and write about it.

I’d been doing some educational writing since I was a high school English teacher for close to twenty years. My passion where reading was concerned has always been mysteries. As a kid, I absolutely loved those Choose Your Own Ending books. I modeled my adjunct professional development online courses for Ohio teachers on those books.

I’ve wanted to write a mystery for as long as I can remember. I posted about my grandma’s gift to me, oh yeah, I forgot to mention, and she also gave me the family’s secret recipe for the pineapple upside down cake too! I received more likes and comments on that post than any other.

Jodi Rath pouring batter

Jodi Rath pouring batter in her grandmother’s cast iron skillet

From there, I began using the new set of cast iron skillets she bought me (because Lord knows I was not allowed to make anything other than that pineapple upside down cake in the family skillet — she bought me a new set to ensure I didn’t mess up the family legacy) on a regular basis trying out many recipes.

From there, The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series was developed and book one Pineapple Upside Down Murder comes TODAY!!!!

Yes, that recipe is in the back of the book too! Some of you are probably giving me the stink eye about now thinking “how can you give out your family’s secret recipe you no good . . .” I’ll stop there. Let me finish! The majority of the recipe is at the end of the book.

Now that I’m a mystery writer though, I will tell you that I couldn’t help but add the “secret” part in the plot of book one. Whether anyone will ever find it though . . .

Excerpt from Pineapple Upside Down Murder

I’ve always found every part of my life to be both beautiful and ugly at the same time. The next few weeks would not prove to be any different.

I knew my grandma’s secret recipe for pineapple upside down cake by heart; it didn’t stop my need to have the family recipe next to me when I made it. Now, like the cake, my entire world has turned upside down.

As I sat, I bent over and put my hands on my ears and laid my head in my lap, rocking slightly.

“Hey, Jolie, breathe. Look at me, please,” Ava said with a concerned look on her face grabbing my hands and sitting me up. Ava had been my best friend since we were in diapers, and she knew how I was when I was overwhelmed. She grabbed my hands and pushed me upright.

Pineapple upside down murder book coverI was taking deep breaths, trying to calm my nerves. “I . . . can’t . . .” I was trembling, and my deep breaths turned choppy.

“We will find them. I promise.” Ava gave me a big hug, thwarting my attempts to go internal. Ava always smelled of coconuts, and I caught a whiff as we embraced.

Ava and I started a business a year ago called Cast Iron Creations. The two of us decided to split the business fifty-fifty, with Ava running the front of the store and the finances, while I focused on the back of the shop, doing the cooking, baking, and shopping. Both of us pitched in with advertising, and I helped with the money occasionally. This was perfect because Ava was more of the social sort while I was more shy and comfortable working on my own.

The business was founded on my family’s secret cast iron skillet recipes, which have been passed down for ages. My great-grandfather had carved out a wooden recipe box for the treasured recipes. On the bottom of the box, my great-grandma, grandma, mom, and now I have carved our names out. I spent my childhood with close friends Ava, Betsy, and Lydia pretending to cook in my grandma’s kitchen in the cast iron skillets. Grandma’s best friend, Ellie Siler, was Betsy’s aunt and a big influence in my life.

I was hyperventilating because the Tucker family recipes had been stolen. Being a bit claustrophobic, especially in crisis mode, I slightly shoved Ava away from me as tears dropped off my cheeks.

“Hey, it will be okay. We need to pull ourselves together to figure out what happened,” Ava said with a confidence I was not feeling at the moment. She pushed a thick, black ringlet behind her ear as she straightened her stance.

“You’re right; I’m sorry,” I said, standing and rubbing my hands against my apron. I was just getting ready to make my Grandma Opal’s famous pineapple upside down cake. I always pulled the family recipes out when I baked; it was my routine. I kept the recipe box hidden in a false tile in our kitchen. When we bought the restaurant, I had wanted turquoise tile along the wall with the sink and oven; it reminded me of the ocean and helped make the kitchen a cheerful place to work. Ava’s girlfriend, Delilah, Leavensport’s resident artist, had made the false tile. But this morning, when I went to grab the box, it was gone.

Read another sample from Pineapple Upside Down Murder and purchase here.

Jodi RathJodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her eight cats

You can follow Jodi on Twitter @jodirath. Sign up at her website for her monthly newsletter where she offers free flash fiction that ties into the series.