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Amanda Usen | Mother Knows Best: How a Chef Became a Romance Writer


Scrumptious
Amanda Usen

AVAILABLE

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TALL, DARK & DELICIOUS

Sexy Chefs #1

January 2012
On Sale: January 1, 2012
Featuring: Joe Rafferty; Marlene Bennet
320 pages
ISBN: 1402259824
EAN: 9781402259821
Kindle: B006CU29RO
Paperback / e-Book
Add to Wish List

Also by Amanda Usen:
Dark Awakening, October 2019
Men of the Zodiac, March 2016
Impulse Control, January 2015
Make Me, Take Me, December 2014

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My mom often reminds me that I've always loved to cook. She also likes to remind me that every time she left me in charge of the kitchen, she had to call the plumber to clear the clogged sink afterwards – usually on a holiday. In fact, her plumber still talks about all the potato peels he unearthed from the drain the night I held my "Host a Murder" party in high school. (Sorry about that, Ma. I wish I could say I've learned a lot since then, but my husband would disagree, citing the great latke clog of 2008.)

So take a budding cook who likes to write and always has a trashy romance novel hidden in her purse and send her to college...Pre-med. Ha! I switched my major to creative-writing faster than you could say calculus. However, I failed to write the literary short stories I longed to master. Every story I turned in was filled with post-adolescent lust and heartbreak, thinly disguised scenes from my own life. Even then, I was writing romance, and let me tell you, the group critiques of those babies were awkward, especially since I was usually dating someone in the class. Ouch!

But did I think, wow, I love to read romance! I should write mainstream romance! Uh, no. I applied to MFA programs in poetry writing, naturally. The top three in the country, of course. And while I was waiting for responses, I cooked. And read romance novels. And fell in love with hot chefs in the restaurant and bakery where I worked. I did everything BUT write poetry that year after college, and when my three rejection letters arrived, finally, I did something that made sense. I applied to the Culinary Institute of America, and was accepted.

Enter my hero: on the first day of class, I met a man who, at the suggestion of HIS mother, had applied to culinary school. This hot chef-in-training had blue eyes and amazing shoulders, just like the hero of SCRUMPTIOUS. After marrying him I was far too happy to write soul-torching poetry, so we embarked on a New Orleans adventure filled with cooking and eating, kissing and drinking lots of champagne. But a writer is a writer, so eventually I sat down to write it all, to write everything. Scrumptious resulted, a story about a chef and a pastry chef falling in love. It is full of truths from my life, slanted to suit my characters. I believe Emily Dickinson would approve.

My mother knew where my heart lay twenty years ago (although she pretended not to see the trashy romance novels in my purse), but I'm glad she didn't tell me. The years I spent searching for the right artistic medium became the bones of SCRUMPTIOUS. Those short story failures, great poems, bad boyfriends, excellent sex, brutal hangovers and years spent sweating in kitchens and bakeries gave me character and characters aplenty.

What about you? What's your story? Did you always know what you wanted to do with your life? Or did it come to you in bits and pieces along the way? Tell me below, three will win copies of SCRUMPTIOUS

About SCRUMPTIOUS:

Joe Rafferty is just as mouthwatering as the food he cooks. But if he thinks he's going to waltz in and take over her kitchen, he's denser than a thick slice of chocolate ripple cheesecake. Marly has invested too much of her life in Chameleon to hand off the restaurant to someone else—especially a cocky-as-all-get-out superstar chef. But there's no denying the man knows how to light her fire. Question is: Can she have the sizzle without feeling the burn?

About the Author

Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. They live in Western New York with their three children and an ancient beagle. Visit her at http://amandausen.wordpress.com if you'd like to chat about romance, writing, or recipes.

 

 

Comments

70 comments posted.

Re: Amanda Usen | Mother Knows Best: How a Chef Became a Romance Writer

This should be quite interesting. I have never read a romance book that dealt with chefs as the main characters. Sounds like it will be worth the read...
(Angelina Daniels-Shaw 2:08am January 16, 2012)

I came upon it in bits & pieces - like kids & air conditioning so my first job was at a computer camp! Great fun and led to full time work at a library. Thanks for asking.
(Beth Elder 6:58am January 16, 2012)

I would have to say I am still not there. I changed careers and now am not happy again. I think I will stick it out though as I am close to retiring.
(Debra Guyette 8:22am January 16, 2012)

Angelina - Thank you! I hope you enjoy Scrumptious. :-)

Beth - I like kids, too. Although I have a marked preference for my own, lol! How wonderful that you let the things you enjoy lead you to a career.

Debra - Retirement sounds like fun. :-) May lovely things await you!
(Amanda Usen 8:45am January 16, 2012)

I stumbled into my job as a teaching assistant when my children were at school. They have now moved on to careers and I am still in the Junior School and loving it!
(Barbara Hanson 8:48am January 16, 2012)

When I was a kid I wanted to be a doctor. I ended up being a
doctor to computers.
(Donna Antonio 8:57am January 16, 2012)

Sounds like a terrific book. Glad that things turned out wonderful for you. :)

For me, still not sure how things will turn out for me. Hopefully, it'll become better this yr!
(May Pau 9:03am January 16, 2012)

Definately bits and pieces as I started to go in a few different career paths but always had to put my attention on my kids and work to make ends meet. I can't complain (though of course I do) because I have a decent job with benefits and it is so hard to find a job like that anymore..Thanks for sharing your story...
(Dawn Staniszeski 9:52am January 16, 2012)

Barbara, I feel lucky to have jobs I love, too. It makes a big difference. I hope your kids followed your example!

Donna, numbers confound me. I have to stick with words! I'm glad you found your path.

May, I hope it will be better for you this year, too - and the years after that! :-)

Dawn, and thanks for sharing your story! I know what you mean about the kids. We have three at the center of our lives and we like it that way. It took some doing for a number of years to make ends meet. My husband became a corporate chef...for the benefits! And so he could be home by three to meet the school bus, so I could go to work in the bakery. Life is complicated, but glorious.
(Amanda Usen 11:34am January 16, 2012)

I'm not sure I've figured it out yet. Still trying to find
that job that makes me happy to get up in the morning to go to
work. Maybe someday I'll find it.
(Joanne Balinski 11:51am January 16, 2012)

Your book sounds really intriguing - and I would love to win a copy. Best of luck with it.
(Nancy Reynolds 12:11pm January 16, 2012)

Growing up I wanted to be a politician---when I realized that wasn't practical, I became an accountant because I had a crush on someone studing accounting. I still wish I had become a politician.
(Sue Farrell 12:22pm January 16, 2012)

Still searching for my calling, unfortunately...
(Kelli Jo Calvert 12:32pm January 16, 2012)

HOT MAN IN THE KITCHEN..I AM IN IT TO WIN IT!
(Silvana Moscato 12:39pm January 16, 2012)

Thought I did not want Kids and would be a career driven woman. Now I have 4 wonderful kids and am a stay at home. So not how I thought my life would be but it is perfect.
(Annetta Stolpmann 1:01pm January 16, 2012)

I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I have worked as an office manager/administrative assistant for over 31 years! Maybe I'll figure it out soon....
(Marguerite Guinn 1:05pm January 16, 2012)

I thought that I wanted to have a career in merchandising and instead became a farm wife driving tractors and chasing hogs. Wouldn't change a thing!!!
Blessings,
Marjorie
(Marjorie Carmony 1:06pm January 16, 2012)

Bits and pieces way my way. I'm still learning things and finding new paths that give me joy and rewards.
(Maude Allen 1:10pm January 16, 2012)

What I knew was that I wanted to end up helping people. Now, I work for an assisted living facility. It is a close knit community and one of the most satisfying jobs I have done.
(G. Bisbjerg 1:14pm January 16, 2012)

Some of my bits and pieces have come by way of paying jobs - and others, as a volunteer. I've loved the volunteer stuff more!
(Beth Fuller 1:47pm January 16, 2012)

Chocolate cheesecake is a breakfast I have not tried but certainly sounds yummy. SCRUMPTIOUS definitely sounds like a delicious book to read
(Shirley Younger 1:49pm January 16, 2012)

I've always loved reading books and eventually ended up working for the public library system for 20 years because of it. Now days I search the internet in search of books and authors.
(Theresa Norris 1:57pm January 16, 2012)

Always been a reader, if my grades dipped in school... I had limits placed on my library books..
(Cate Sparks 2:10pm January 16, 2012)

PS... composting is a great thing!! cuts down on plumber issues...
(Cate Sparks 2:11pm January 16, 2012)

My life has definitely taken many different turns over the years, and I'm sure that there are many more surprised to come. Life is never dull!
(Tabitha Monroe 2:14pm January 16, 2012)

I LOVE TO READ BOOKS ABOUT CHEFS(COOKS) AND FOOD. HAVING RECEIPES IS AN ADDED PLEASURE.
(Marlene Rosenberg 2:20pm January 16, 2012)

When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but my doctor said I had too many allergies to do it. Then I thought of becoming a lawyer and a secretary. I ended up as a secretary for many years, but was wishing I had become a lawyer instead.
(Cathy Phillips 2:24pm January 16, 2012)

When I was young I knew what I wanted to do. Once I got married I had to make different choices. I'm trying to get back to the goals I set as a kid.
(Stacie Deramo 2:26pm January 16, 2012)

I'm back at the point of not knowing what to do for the rest
of my life. I sort of fell into what I did in my earlier
career, but I'm ready for a change - I just don't know to
what.
(Diane Sallans 2:26pm January 16, 2012)

Oh yummy! I do love a novel that incorporates cooking and romance. I love to
cook and am fascinated by food preparation and restaurants. Throw in a
gorgeous hunk of a chef and a delicious romance and I am drooling! Thank you
so much for sharing. I'm adding this book to my Wish List right now!
(Connie Fischer 2:29pm January 16, 2012)

I thought I did know what I wanted early on, but years later the liking and the wanting to do what I did fizzled... now I am unsure. Your book sounds like a wonderful read!
(Colleen Conklin 2:40pm January 16, 2012)

Sounds like a good book. My major was in Biology and I wound up working in a Charity for 25 years. Go Figure.
(Robin Greene 2:58pm January 16, 2012)

wow a chef and good looking one and t hen you do not find guy who are good and cook love the cove on the book and hope it des well
(Desiree Reilly 3:03pm January 16, 2012)

It's STILL coming to me in bits & pieces. I've owned a
construction company, a reprographics company...now I'm in
commercial real estate law.....hopefully ONE day I'll figure
it out (hopefully, before I retire!).
(Elizabeth Hyatt 3:03pm January 16, 2012)

I liked to cook and bake, too!Plus taking care of kids-i was the neighborhood sitter and baker, so I would feed the kids my goodies and meals, been doing both, started my own home daycare but lately no kids in the house so I'm trying to a few to join, so I'm doing odd jobs to make a few bucks, helping out catering parties and doing anything so I'm still trying to find-out what to do. I've never heard of your book or you as an author so its a treat to find a new one for I love to read. Your book sounds so yummy!
(Carole Fiore 3:11pm January 16, 2012)

Chefs and a romantic mystery! Sounds like a winner to
me. Thanks for having the contest.
(Linda Howell 3:20pm January 16, 2012)

I always wanted to be a Mom and luckily got my wish and better than that is being a Grandmaw!!
(Kathleen Bianchi 3:22pm January 16, 2012)

My daughter loves to cook and leave the mess in the kitchen.
I did the hair of my friends in high school. Became a
hairstylist and loved meeting new people. Never liked
reading growing up but, now I read anything that sounds
interesting to me. I'm hooked on books! This story sounds
really good, best wishes with sales and reviews.
(Tina Rucci 3:36pm January 16, 2012)

Career-wise everything has come bits & pieces (guess I was satisfied doing about anything) being a secretary, accounting, sales, cashier, food demonstrator, daycare provider, factory work, hospital admitting, volunteer, etc. and my love of cooking and baking. When my 3 children were in school, it didn't take long for the teachers to discover this and phone me to send more goodies for their holiday celebrations and school carnivals. I was always cooking and baking at home, as a young kid, and enjoyed it. Always, wanted to enter a bake-off or try my hand at developing a new food product-line to market or writing a cookbook (but that has not transpired). This chefs romantic story with actual parts of your life thrown in, sounds like a fun read and something I'd enjoy! Talk about food, did I fail to mention, one of my jobs I held was working in a candy factory with chocolate covered, coated Easter eggs, bunnies, and cordial cherries. It was fun (all college kids, seasonal work). Thanks for the contest.
(Linda Luinstra 3:56pm January 16, 2012)

This sounds like a great book, I love it when food and romance are combined! I became a teacher because my favorite auntie taught elementary school and it seemed like a lot of fun.
(Yuka Liew 4:08pm January 16, 2012)

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHH AMANDA. HOPE YOU GET DOWN HERE AND 50
IS LUCKY AS CAN'T WAIT TO READ THIS!!!!
(Linda Bass 4:26pm January 16, 2012)

I went to college with the idea of becoming a middle-school
guidance counselor [so i could get to kids before they got
too messed up. Statistics for psychology majors did me in, I
switched to sociology; then in summer after soph year took
one of those career-testing things. Came out that since I
was organized (!), loved working with people and loved to
read, i should try library science. So that's where I am
today, 30 years and counting. And i thooroughly enjoy
reading about cooks and romance and cooking and romance and
food and romance......!
(Sandy Haber 4:39pm January 16, 2012)

I went back to school at forty years old so that I could get a decent job. I like romance books very much. This one sounds great.
(Wilma Frana 5:07pm January 16, 2012)

I am still not sure what I want to be when I grow up!! I loved your posting and got a great laugh out of it. I can't wait to read your book.
(Robin McKay 5:38pm January 16, 2012)

Holy cow! I just flew home from Las Vegas and the comments EXPLODED! Yay! I can't respond to them all because my kids want to kiss on me, but I did read every one. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with me. It seems like I'm not alone in the seeking/searching aspect of life. It makes me think of that saying "wherever you go, there you are." I just try to do the best I can with whatever is on my plate at the moment! I'm going to smooch up my kids now. Thanks for stopping by to see me! :-)
(Amanda Usen 5:40pm January 16, 2012)

Life has just sort of happened. Haven't really planned it out.
(Pam Howell 5:42pm January 16, 2012)

I must admit, I haven't strayed too far from my interests in computers and math that started in middle school and then became much more obvious in high school. My dad was a high school math teacher, so the apple didn't fall far from the tree. From math club in high school to my Quantitative Business Analysis major in college to my job as a buyer for Ford Motor Company to tutoring my children in Algebra in 8th grade to my current part-time job manipulating Excel spreadsheets, numbers, data and pc's are my constant!
(Lori O'Neil 5:56pm January 16, 2012)

I changed my direction several times and might just do that again.
(Maureen Emmons 6:09pm January 16, 2012)

My life has had more twists and turns than expected, and I know that there will
continue to be more unexpected turns in the future. Life likes to play with us,
huh? :)
(Hyunjin Jeon 6:39pm January 16, 2012)

I changed directions after graduating with a teaching degree.
(Mary C 6:39pm January 16, 2012)

Still finding my way a little at a time. :) Your book looks great!
(Debbie Burdeen 6:56pm January 16, 2012)

AFTER GRADUATING, I BECAME A MANAGER AT A TELECO.
(Linda Bass 7:53pm January 16, 2012)

wanted to do something with large animals but my grades are not good. so i answer phones but i still love horses..
(Jennifer Beck 8:23pm January 16, 2012)

Not really, I just fell into what I currently do. Still hoping to find that one thing that I would love to do.
(Lisa Kendall 8:36pm January 16, 2012)

When I was 16, I knew who I was going to marry, when I first laid eyes on him. He didn't even know!! We were living our own lives, and were reunited, so to speak, through a mutual friend, 10 years later. When he proposed to me, I was totally blown away, and of course thrilled. Although our lives didn't take the path I thought they would have, it has definately been an adventure. I couldn't imagine having anyone else at my side. My Husband is the only one who truly understands me, is there to help me in whatever capacity, and I know loves me unconditionally. Of course, the feeling is mutual, and has been all these years. I predict one more fork in the road in the near future, and this one should be the one we're waiting for. Thank you for your posting today. I truly enjoyed it, and will have to read your books!!
(Peggy Roberson 8:36pm January 16, 2012)

I always knew I wanted to be a wife and mother. I got my degree in education and really didn't like teaching. I had a family, stayed home a few years and then went into business with my husband. That I just fell into and actually it worked out quite well.
It is said that nowadays, most people change jobs every 8 years or so. In this economy, I'm sure there are lots of people who are reinventing themselves.
(Monica Vargo 8:44pm January 16, 2012)

I earned a degree in education and really didn't like teaching. I had a family, stayed home a few years and then went into business with my husband. That I just fell into and actually it worked out quite well.
It is said that nowadays, most people change jobs every 8 years or so. In this economy, I'm sure there are lots of people who are reinventing themselves.
(Monica Vargo 8:51pm January 16, 2012)

I don't have a story, I never new what I wanted out of life, just what I did't want. I just try to make the best of what life throws at me each day.
(Sheila True 8:59pm January 16, 2012)

By a rough count:
Life Plotters - 7
Seat of the pantsers - 33
Good luck and great cheer to all of us!
(Amanda Usen 9:06pm January 16, 2012)

I just fell into my present profession. My life took a turn did not expect, for the better I may add.
(Mary Preston 9:24pm January 16, 2012)

I still have no idea where my life is leading me and I'm a grandma! I just can't seem to stick to one thing. I agree with Sheila..I know what I don't want but not too clear on the want part.
(Patti Paonessa 9:25pm January 16, 2012)

Oh goodness, no I did not know! My parents pushed me to get an accounting degree. Turns out I was good at it. I decided I wanted to be a corporate CEO someday. Then I had kids and knew I needed to stay home. And, being a CEO kind of sucks. So now I am trying to figure what I want to do now that my kids are getting older. Life is a journey and you have to be willing to change constantly!
(Jennifer Beyer 9:39pm January 16, 2012)

The LAST thing that I was going to be when I grew up was a teacher, because that was my Mom's vocation. Yes - you can guess what I do now... Life is full of surprises, isn't it? But some of the best parts of the journey are the friends we make along the way. Can't wait to finally read Scruptious this week!
(Melissa Cook 8:10am January 17, 2012)

im pretty sure i can do what i do anywhere in the US and will probably be finding out if /when we move to pacific northwest area. I do charity knitting and am very comfortable helping others out.

Julie
(Julie Barett 8:33am January 17, 2012)

I stumbled into my job. I am a mom. I do work a full-time job, but motherhood is for sure my full-time favorite job. I had never wanted kids and meet my husband and about 7 years later I finally got pregant. Now I have two great kids and know that I was destined to be a mom. Some days are harder than others, but I would not trade anything or ask to do it again.
Would love to win and read this book.
(Chris Bails 2:52pm January 17, 2012)

Yes, life is full of surprises, especially life with kids! :-)
(Amanda Usen 3:02pm January 17, 2012)

Sadly, I had no real career ambitions, I just wanted to win an EGOT (see 30 Rock) despite having no talent. I found the job life presented me with.
(Lisa Elwood 6:35pm January 17, 2012)

At the age of 8 (third grade) I drew a picture of a nurse as what I wanted to be when I grew up. First Aid in Girl Scouts and being accepted into nursing school got me on the path to my dream.
(Alyson Widen 8:13pm January 17, 2012)

I always had large dreams and I like to think I have been able to achieve them on a smaller scale..(be a famous actress to a local acting troupe, be a writer which I have had small things published like my poetry but.., to be an artist to doing my children's projects and projects around the house) The greatest thing I ever wanted to be I achieved 17 years ago buy becoming a mother- the reat is like parenthood, shooting from the hip and experimenting as I learn more about myself.
(Carla Carlson 7:16am January 18, 2012)

I love to read contemp romance novels, especially ones that are food related. Best wishes with your book and I look forward to the next one also.
(Paul Lieberman 8:55am January 18, 2012)

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