Multi-Tasking and Guinness Stew

It’s 2:30 am and I’m still at it.

I finished After the Storm several days ago. Wow, did it feel good to type The End (on page 501). Now I await my editor’s thoughts, after which I’ll start revising. But I thought I’d share a bit of what else I’m working on. First, some of the Scribblers (Margaret Maron, Bren Witchger, Sarah Shaber, Mary Kay Andrews, and possibly Katy Munger and Alex Sokoloff) and I are preparing for another brainstorming/writing retreat this week. This time we’re going to the beach.  Bren’s incredibly generous cousin is allowing us to take over his beach house for a week. People are coming and going at different times, but I’ll be there Wednesday-Tuesday and I’m so excited because I have a doozy of an idea for my next book and am dying to start working on the story. Since restaurants are few and far between where we’re going, everyone’s bringing a meal, so I made Guinness Stew today. I don’t eat beef all that often (and don’t drink at all), but this is one of my favorite meals. Author friend Emilie Richards gave me the recipe. I altered it slightly, and thought I’d share it with you.
Guinness Beef Stew

  • 2 pounds lean stewing beef
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/3 cup flour seasoned with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree mixed with 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups Guinness stout beer
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 2 cups small red potatoes, halved
  • thyme (either a sprig or dried) to taste


  • Trim meat off fat, cut into 2 inch cubes and toss them with 1 T of the oil. Then toss with the seasoned four till coated.
  • Heat remaining oil in a wide frying pan over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Add the onions, garlic, and tomato puree. cover and cook gently for 5 minutes
  • Transfer contents to a casserole or large pot and pour some of the Guinness into the frying pan. Bring to a boil and scrape the meat juices in the pan. Pour onto meat with the remaining Guinness. Add the carrots and thyme.
  • Cover with the lid and simmer very gently for 1 hour-2 hours, until the meet is tender. Then add the potatoes and simmer another hour.
  • Scatter with chopped parsley.
  • I like to serve it over noodles, but it’s great all on its own, especially with this fabulous simple Irish Soda Bread. Yum! 

So what else am I doing. Scrambling to get things done before this retreat, that’s what. First, I’m redoing my website which is a huge undertaking. I’ll update you as the unveiling gets closer. Second, I’m working with Circle of Seven Productions on a book trailer–a short video that will hopefully make people want to readBefore the Storm. Third, I’m hiring a company to help me with promotion, since I can no longer keep up with creating media contacts, etc. All of these endeavors require tons of time and energy on my part, but they’re also fun because they let me use a different side of my brain.  Fourth, I’m also going to do some promo through They’ll get Before the Storm in front of readers, booksellers, librarians and bookclubs. And of course I have to put together all of the information on my end, and then they pretty it up before it goes live. My publisher is doing a special printing of The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes for the Target Book club pick in June, and that’s required writing an interview among other things. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled with all the activity, but  there’s no doubt that it takes away from writing time. That’s why I’m looking forward to this week at the beach. We’ll have limited Internet access there, which is a good thing, but I’ll try to keep in touch. 
Meanwhile, if your weather is still as cool, and rainy as ours, how about some stew?


  1. Margo on April 7, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Thank you everyone for your kind comments. Losing my father has been hard but it’s helped to have such wonderful friends as you. My father accomplished alot in his lifetime and we were blessed to have him in our lives. Diane, he would have loved this recipe for beef stew!…if anyone enjoyed food and new recipes, it was my dad. This sounds really yummy and I think I will make it for my family this next weekend. Thx for sharing and enjoy your time at the beach!

  2. Diane Chamberlain on April 7, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Margo, I’m so sad for you and your family. I love the idea that you’ll be making the stew he would have enjoyed.

  3. Gina on April 7, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Wow – that sounds like a really good recipe. Thanks Diane!
    Enjoy your time off Diane, you seriously need it, I’m sure. Relax and enjoy!

  4. Julie on April 7, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Oh, Diane, I so envy your retreat time! Have a wonderful week and I hope you get lots done. I am glad to see your most recent story draft was so long–my first draft of my manuscript ended up around 115K (or 460 pages), and that was AFTER cutting 20K (about 80 pages) when I cut one of the voices!
    I just have to get it all out, then go back and cut the dreck. 🙂
    Exciting to see the two new books will be out so soon, although I’m still working on your back list since I only discovered your books about a year or so ago.
    Glad to see you back, Margo, and I hope you are doing ok.
    I wonder if Guiness Stew is the same thing or similar to Brunswick Stew? When we lived in Alabama, we had that at some tailgating parties, and it looks like similar stuff.

  5. Diane Chamberlain on April 7, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Omigod, I LOVE Brunswick stew. This is totally different, though. That’s mostly turkey (at least the ones I’ve had) and spicy. This is very beefy and a little bitter because of the Guinness.
    Yes, it’s definitely easier to cut from a manuscript than to add. Still, I wish I could write a little shorter for once. How’s your writing coming?

  6. Julie on April 8, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    I’m revising, which is hard because it’s new! But I’m enjoying it. I’m taking an online class which is keeping me pretty busy at the moment, though, so not spending as much time on revisions as I would be otherwise.
    I have seen that Curly Girl book you mentioned in the comments from your last post, by the way. I think my daughter took the not using shampoo thing a little too far, unfortunately. LOL The night before picture day last week was spent scrubbing her scalp with baking soda to get rid of all the “buildup.” I kept thinking she just had really bad dandruff. Ew. TMI? 🙂

  7. Diane Chamberlain on April 8, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Ha ha! You’re supposed to actually use conditioner to wash your scalp with instead of the shampoo.
    I bet the baking soda thing was fun. hope she had some hair left.

  8. Kathy Holmes on April 9, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    You are one busy lady! About the writing retreat – don’t you need a break in-between books? Maybe the retreat gives that to you? I’ve already printed out the recipe – gotta try that. 🙂 Thanks!

  9. Denise on April 9, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Hi there! This is my first visit to your site. I thought I would place my first post here to be sure you saw it.
    I wanted to tell you that I just finished “Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes.” I want to thank you for helping me to cry all of my mascara off! I absolutely loved this book! I plan to backtrack now and read all of your other works of art.
    I am a bookseller, and I often recommend books that I love. I will be recommending this book to all of my customers, not to mention coworkers. Expect sales to soar even higher!
    I am the first to admit that I am often attracted to a book for the first time because of its cover. If a cover calls out to me, I stop to read what it is about. I happened to be shelving some books when I came across CeeCee. The cover is gorgeous and called out my name. I am so glad it did. This book touched my heart in so many ways and places. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing talent and heart with we, the readers. I will be spending a lot of time not only catching up on all of your older books but also reading this fantastic website and blog!
    Much love to you. 🙂

  10. Diane Chamberlain on April 10, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Kathy, yes I need a break, but I’m not going to get one. However, as you pointed out, the retreat really serves that purpose. As I mentioned in another post, I’m sitting on the deck in the dark with the ocean in front of me. We just played games after setting our goals for the rest of the week. I’ll post more about it when I can see my keyboard in the daytime!
    Denise, welcome! what a lovely post. I’m so pleased you enjoyed CeeCee and that you’ll tell your customers about my books. Sorry about the mascara, though…

  11. Denise on April 10, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Diane, do you mind me asking which of your other books I should read next? Or perhaps your other readers can make some suggestions.

  12. Diane Chamberlain on April 11, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Denise, not sure if anyone will respond since I’m about to write another post, but I’d recommend The Bay at Midnight, since its the most available of my books. Then try the Keeper of the Light trilogy, which you’d probably have to find used.

  13. Annunziata Scarponi on April 11, 2008 at 3:39 am

    Mi dispiace non poter scrivere in inglese, ma non conosco questa lingua. Scrivo da Roma ITALY, sono scrittrice di romanzi, anche se pochissimo conosciuta, qui in Italia, c’è un muro per gli scrittori non VIP, è difficile farsi conoscere, ho scritto tre romanzi, l’ultimo deve uscire tra pochi giorni, dal titolo “PER NON MORIRE” casa editrice IL FILO. Ma non le ho scritto per questo, ma per farle le mie congratulazioni, ho appena finito di leggere BREAKING THE SILENCE, bello bello bello, very good. Brava! Vorrei oter essere anch’io conosciuta come scrittrice ma… provo, i miei amici e amiche dicono che sono brava eche devo continuare, ma è molto difficile, far conoscere i miei romanzi
    La saluto e le rinnovo i miei complimenti, Annunziata Scarponi Roma Italia

  14. Diane Chamberlain on April 11, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Annunziata, I’ve taken the libery of using an online translator to translate your post here. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, these translators are not very good, but I at least have an idea of what you said. I’ll respond below.
    I write from Rome ITALY, they are scrittrice of novels, even if least known, here in Italy, there is a wall for writers not VIP, is difficult is introduced, I have written three novels, the last one must exit between little days, from the title it “IN ORDER NOT TO DIE” publishing house the THREAD. But I have not written to them for this, but in order to make them my congratulations, have as soon as ended to read BREAKING THE SILENCE, beautiful beautiful beautiful, very good. Good! I like scrittrice would want oter to be anch’ known but… I try, my friends and friends say that they are good eche I must continue, but are much difficult one, to introduce my novels the salute and I renew them mine compliments

  15. Diane Chamberlain on April 11, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Annuziata, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed Breaking the Silence, and I agree with your friends and family that you should continue writing. It sounds like you enjoy it. I hope one day to see one of your books translated into Enlgish. GOod luck!

  16. Liz on April 11, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Denise – My favorites are the Keeper of the Light trilogy, I LOVED, LOVED Breaking the Silence and Cypress Point. They’re all wonderful reading, but some touch me more than others.

  17. Gina on April 11, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    I agree with that statement Liz, that some books touch us more than others. I loved Summers Child. I think I’m all up to date on all the earlier books. The last one I have left to read is Escape Artist.

  18. Julie on April 12, 2008 at 2:42 am

    Hey, I totally forgot that I read Summer’s Child several years back! Guess I’ve been reading you longer than I remembered, Diane, before I even “realized it was you” and started making my way through the list. 🙂
    I loved that one, too, and Breaking the Silence, and CeeCee Wilkes the best so far.

  19. Diane Chamberlain on April 12, 2008 at 10:47 am

    It’s always interesting to me to see how different people like different books. Thanks for helping Denise with her decisions.
    I’m having a hard time putting up a blog post from the beach, since our Internet access here is limited to say the least. I’m going to give it another try today.
    PS we had the beef stew and irish soda bread last night and everyone ate too much 🙂

  20. Denise on April 12, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Thank you so much for the recommendations! I did a search at Borders (where I work) and saw that I will have to find many of them used. But that’s okay with me!

  21. Denise on April 12, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Okay….are the titles to the trilogy: Keeper of the Light, Kiss River and Her Mother’s Shadow?

  22. Liz on April 13, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Yes, in that order. I bought Breaking the Silence from Diane – Diane, do you keep copies for those of us who are later in discovering you?

  23. brenda on April 13, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I think the Trilogy is my favorite, but I hesitate to say that because I read Diane’s books over each year.
    Liz, I have ordered some of the older books from Diane…
    I love them all…

  24. brenda on April 13, 2008 at 10:37 am

    I think the main reason some of us remember (and love???) certain characters…Annie is the one in the trilogy…we love her-yet as we get to know her we sometimes don’t understand her decisions…
    Diane does that with her characters-they are not static-they are ever changing…

  25. Diane Chamberlain on April 13, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Liz, there’s a link on my home page to the out of print books. I don’t have all of them, but do have some.

  26. Denise on April 14, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    I ordered four of the out-of-prints from Amazon and several from Diane; I also ordered Bay at Midnight from Borders. I will have plenty to keep me out of trouble. I’m reading the “Friday Night Knitting Club” while I wait for all of them.
    I have two full bookcases, as well as stacks and stacks of other books waiting to be read. My entire Borders salary goes right back to the store. Then there are all of the free advance copies I get… If my eyes ever go, I will be in serious trouble.

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