Interview with Author Belinda Y. Hughes

My guest today is Belinda Y. Hughes.  Hello, Belinda!  Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here today.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2 was released in Fall 2013 on Amazon. It’s the second edition of my lacto-ovo vegetarian cookbook. I’m vegetarian trying to go vegan, but, like my readers, eggs and cheese are my biggest weakness. Confessions features vegan options for those who want to try them and those who prefer fully vegan recipes.

There are fantastic nutrition tips from an international team of registered dietitians and food bloggers and fun nutritional content hints below the titles. There’s also a Resources page, with links to the ingredients’ web sites, where you’ll find coupons, specials and more vegetarian recipes and products.

I’m most excited about reader feedback that kids are having fun helping in the kitchen and eating more fruits and vegetables, like the Fruity Patooty Burrito. Unless they’re told, meat-loving spouses aren’t missing that ingredient in these dishes, particularly the Smoky Sausage Ommmelette (sic). In addition, health-conscious moms, singles and retirees all appreciate the nutrition, flavor and convenience of recipes like the One Bowl Frittata.

Is there anything that prompted your latest book? Something that inspired you?

It was the winter of 2010. I was keeping warm in the kitchen and rediscovered my passion for cooking. While thumbing through Joy of Cooking and waiting for the oven timer to ring, I became inspired by Top Chef, Iron Chef and Chopped and began playing with my food again. Back under the blankets, I buried my nose in foodie mystery and romantic comedy books by Joanne Fluke (Strawberry Shortcake Murder), Joanna Carl (The Chocolate Pirate Plot), Rachel Gibson (Not Another Bad Date) and Jennifer Crusie (Getting Rid of Bradley). While tinkering with my own recipes, it all merged in my mind, and in 2011, out came Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover, a vegetarian cookbook with a spicy title.

Great!  So, when did you know you wanted to write?  Or has it always been a pastime of yours?

Writing was always my favorite assignment at school. I was also a margin scribbler. I found more writing time by working in my high school and college libraries. That’s my connection with Murray Alfredson, whose interview I very much enjoyed.

My first official fan was my high school freshman English teacher. She caught the abrupt change in voice and subject knowledge when my well-meaning mom tried to finish the last couple paragraphs of a Shakespeare paper on my behalf. This was on a heavy homework night, after I gave out and went to bed. When she phoned us the next evening, Mrs. Hall confessed she regularly enjoyed reading my authentic work. Mom never touched a pen to my homework again.

The heartbreak of rewriting first hit me in college. I was assigned a contrast comparison paper on my choice of The Canterbury Tales and any current event. It emerged as a satire poem on the Wife of Bath and the downfall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Although it was well written and showed a grasp of the topics and the contrast comparison concept, it wasn’t in the assigned MLA format. So, I had to rewrite it to satisfy the syllabus.

Then I discovered the University of Life. Like many writers, I waited tables and enjoyed the endless parade of characters on the vampire shift. I jotted notes on napkins while I waited on orders to come up in the window.

In my medical sitting career, each patient had a unique background and perspective on life, and most lived in historic homes. I wrote in spiral notebooks on the window seats while they napped. It was during this time, at age 19, that one of my poems was published in the Odessa Review, opposite one by the late Judson Jerome, former Poetry Editor for Writer’s Digest. That was my most prestigious publication to date.

My biggest challenge was typing. I couldn’t do 40 WPM until I took a temporary word processing job entering 20 years of call records for a suburban police department in the Dallas area. The records chief parked me at a desk in his own office. One morning he sat holding his wristwatch and looked across at me. When I stopped for lunch, he drawled, “I should give you a ticket.” “For what?” I replied. “For smokin’ my keyboard. I’ve clocked you at over 100 wpm.” I could have kissed him!

In early 2005, I read a writing book by the owner of and, Angela Hoy. I sent her a fan email and she replied with a generous offer to publish my first book, Living Proof. It’s my memoir collection of short stories, including my personal experience with domestic violence at the end of my first lesbian relationship, a drive-by shooting, and how some of my pets and I became a family. Angela normally didn’t publish memoirs, I had no experience in cover design and my writing quality was not what it is now, but she did it anyway. I am eternally grateful to her for helping me get out of the gate.

In December 2013, I tried my hand at science fiction, both flash fic and poetry, and had my first experience with beta readers, all of which were fabulous. Thanks again, Kendyl Peebles and Rafael Morales! And thanks to you, Marie, my first guest blog post was just a few days ago.

As for what’s next, I’m hoping to finally complete a first novel, an LGBT romantic comedy mystery, and have a go at erotica. I’ve already got new beta readers lined up and waiting.

On March 13, 2014, in honor of my almost-Red Hat birthday that weekend, Tamara Woods has invited me to do a Writing and Ageism guest post on her blog,

Do you have any favorite authors?

In addition to the aforementioned authors, I’m also influenced by Shakespeare, Chaucer, Sue Grafton, Lilian Jackson Braun and Kasey Michaels. At the moment, I’m beta reading a mystery for Morgan Silver and lovin’ it!

Do you write in a specific place?  Time of day?

I write with my old labradachs on the banquette alongside, my laptop opened on our dinette table near a window. It’s close to the kitchen and reminiscent of a restaurant booth, which is really conducive.

Through the window, I draw inspiration from the wildlife, trees, weather and astronomy. These are great, since I prefer Asian poetic forms, which are typically nature themed.

Sometimes the need to stay healthy and conserve resources in extreme weather dictates my writing time: nighttime in summer; daytime in winter.  

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers?  Any advice?

Read. Soak up all the details in real life like a sponge. Switch pieces or genres when you feel stuck.

Network. Support your writing friends in every way imaginable. The benefits are infinite.

Write. Do NaNoWriMo. Take risks. Get beta readers. You can do anything you want to do, including write, publish and toot your own horn.

Thank you so much for this interview opportunity, Marie Lavender. Your own sharings and support for your fellow writers are altogether beautiful.

Here is the blurb for Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2:  Lacto Ovo Vegetarian Recipes.

Whether you only go meatless on Monday or embrace the whole plant-based lifestyle, you'll find food to love in Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2. With recipes ranging from family-fooling mock meat omelettes to kid chef-friendly fruit burritos to brain restoring biscuits for the menopausal set, there's something for everyone - and nutrition tips to boot!

Don't miss the healthy lifestyle tips from Rebecca Subbiah, RDN (UK & USA), EmmaCarder, RD (UK), Lauren O’Connor, RD (USA), Cynthia Strawson, MSc, Nutrition & Metabolism (Canada), Dan Hanley of The Gay Vegans blog (USA) and Andrea Zeichner of Cook Easy Vegan blog (USA). 

Here are some excerpts.

Fruity Patooty Burrito
Quick and easy energy for kids and grownups.

1 large soft tortilla
1/8 c apples, chopped
1/8 c oranges, chopped
1 Tbsp dried cranberries or cherries, minced
3 Tbsp almond, soy or peanut butter or Nutella®
2 Tbsp sunflower kernels or seeds

 Spread nut butter onto tortilla.  Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon, sunflower kernels and dried fruit.  Arrange apples and oranges on half of tortilla.  Fold the bottom of your burrito over one end of the apple-orange row.  Fold up a side over the fruit row and roll across.  Wrap with paper towels, due to juicy orange slices. 

TIP:  Keep pre-chopped fresh and dried fruits in the fridge and other items within easy reach.

Aloha Sweet Potatoes
Ladies, start your estrogens!

1 can sweet potatoes, drained
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 Tbsp. shredded coconut
2 Tbsp. slivered almonds

Heat sweet potatoes in microwaveable dish for 1 ½ mins. on HIGH, covered.  Add pineapple chunks and stir.  Garnish with coconut then almonds, and serve.

Note: I’m in perimenopause, which starts early, lasts long and really puts women through the ringer, so one of my health issues is estrogen. Women with high estrogen need to go easy on soy, but sweet potatoes are an excellent alternative plant-based source for those who need it.

Dreamy Jambalaya

Balance your blood sugar and smooth your skin.
1 box Zatarain’s Jambalaya with Cheese mix
or Reduced Salt mix
1 can Trappey’s Okra with Tomatoes, do NOT drain

Pour jambalaya mix rice and seasoning into large bowl.  Add water and follow microwave directions.  Stir well to break up any caked seasoning mix.  Add okra and tomatoes.  Stir and microwave 1 minute on HIGH.

Author Bio    

Belinda Y. Hughes is the author of Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2, exclusively on Amazon. Cafe Belinda, her food blog, offers dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, Kosher, vegan and vegetarian recipes, reviews and giveaways. A longtime published poet and publicist, her works have been published in the Odessa Review, Long Story Short, Amaze: the Cinquain Journal, (Lake Charles) American Press, (MSU) Contraband, Jambalaya News (now the Louisiana Jam), New Day Publications and others. She recently completed her first scifi flash fiction and micropoetry collection. In 2014 she hopes to nurture her lifelong fascination with Asian culture.

Social Links: 

Facebook: Personal/Writing:



Living Proof

by Belinda Yvonne Hughes


  1. Congratulations Stacey Adams, winner of Friday's Food Poetry Challenge!

  2. I read this blog with interest. I write fulltime now but when I taught creative writing at both the university and high school levels, I always encouraged students to try writing in a variety of work. I practice what I preach. I write novels, plays, short stories, poetry and nonfiction. Writers need to stretch their minds and abilities. You're on the right path, Belinda. Best of luck with your writing!

  3. Speckled you speckled me
    Watch me as I grow as tall as a tree
    Break me in multiple pieces or just two
    Don't cook enough and you'll have too few.

    Farmers love us as we grow real fast
    Some of us are not new, we're from the past
    Hybrid is what we're often called
    Some grow spindly and some grow tall

    Guess again sweet cheeks
    Asparagus, potatoes and a piece of meat
    We are your favorite - beans and peas
    Moms tell their children to swallow your beans please.


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