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Denise Swanson Author Photo

  1. Be open to new experiences. When I started writing Dying for a Cupcake, since it was about a cupcake contest, I looked for recipes with unique flavors and ingredients. Up until that point, I had only made my mother’s chocolate or my grandmother’s silver-white recipes. While I still love the old tried and true chocolate and white cupcakes, I have to admit that the cream cheese cupcakes with guava buttercream were mighty tasty. (See recipe below)
  2. Never take shortcuts. Boxed mixes and canned frostings seem like a timesaver, but like everything in life, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
  3. Be sweet, but not cloying. As children, most of us liked really sweet desserts and really sweet people. As an adult, I like a little zip or zest in my cupcakes Sweet can be a little boring.
  4. The best things in life don’t last forever. Be it a freshly baked cupcake or your favorite jeans or the people you love, enjoy them while you can because the cupcake will get stale, the jeans will wear out and the people will eventually be gone.
  5. Perfection is highly overrated. For a long time, I wouldn’t make cupcakes for parties or potlucks because mine never looked as perfect as the ones in the pictures. They all weren’t exactly even and the frosting wasn’t swirled just right. Then one day, my husband took a batch that I had rejected as not good enough to his office. They were a huge hit. Most of his colleagues were used to store bought bakery and couldn’t get enough of my homemade treats.

If I had never gotten over my perfectionism, I would have never gotten past the first chapter when I started writing.  Sometimes, you just have to be willing to learn from your early efforts, rather than refuse to try.

In cupcake making, just as in life, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. You may have all the fancy equipment from the Food Network, you may be using a recipe that’s been in your family for generations, but stuff still happens. A too hot kitchen, high humidity, or a faulty timer can destroy all your work

But instead of vowing never to try again. Clean up the mess and make a fresh start. When I was submitting my first book to agents, I received two hundred and seventy rejection letters. And while a lot of them had valid criticism, much of what they didn’t like was out of my control because when it all comes down to it, most things in like, like cupcakes, are a matter of taste.

9780451418890About the author:

A former school psychologist, New York Times bestselling author Denise Swanson spent twenty-two years working in the public school system. She realized her experiences were actually excellent research for mysteries. Denise’s fourth book in the Devereaux’s Dime Store series, Dying for a Cupcake, debuted March 3. Denise also writes the Scumble River Mysteries.

Find Denise at http://www.DeniseSwanson.com,

Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/DeniseSwansonAuthor

Twitter at DeniseSwansonAu.


 You know you want to try this…


guavacupcakeCream Cheese Cupcakes with Guava Buttercream


1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup softened cream cheese




1/4 cup and 2 teaspoons shortening

1/4 cup and 2 teaspoons butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/3 cups and 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon milk

pinch of salt

1/3 cup guava marmalade



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well, add cream cheese. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

Butter cream

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Separately blend guava until smooth, then add to butter cream a little at a time. Place in the fridge. After cooling place in piping bag and swirl.