Jenn Segal always wanted to write a cookbook. She knew it was a tough market to crack, so she started a food blog in 2009 after leaving the restaurant business (including work as a line cook at L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Virginia). “Once Upon a Chef” gained a following, and three years ago a literary agent reached out to express interest. Segal’s book, Once Upon a Chef, the Cookbook: 100 Tested, Perfected, and Family-Approved Recipes (Chronicle Books, April 2018), includes fiery roasted tomato soup with smoked Gouda, Baja fish tacos, and a chocolate lover’s birthday cake. “It’s home cooking, but from a professional cook’s point of view,” says the Potomac mother of two. “I went to culinary school, but I’m also a stay-at-home mom. I try to give people easy recipes that are doable but with restaurant quality and results.”

The novel Harbor of Spies (Lyons Press, March 2018) takes place in Havana in 1863 during the American Civil War, when the Spanish colonial city was a key port for shuttling supplies to the Confederacy. Author Robin Lloyd of Chevy Chase crafted his story around the real unsolved murder of an English diplomat he stumbled upon while researching the period. “It was filled with mystery,” says Lloyd, a former foreign correspondent for NBC News who often reported from Cuba. To find authentic details and events to weave into the book, Lloyd read naval dispatches, books and letters from the period. The historical thriller focuses on a young sailor from Maryland who finds himself drawn into the murder investigation, and features spies, slave trading and drama at sea.

When North Bethesda’s Renee Sklarew and Rachel Cooper of Gaithersburg set out to update Paul Elliott’s 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles—Washington, D.C. (Menasha Ridge Press), they wanted to broaden its appeal and include a range of family-friendly treks, from easy to challenging, all of which could be completed within a day. For the third edition, published last November, they added 23 new hikes and created maps with GPS trailhead coordinates. The hikes are organized into charts by region and notable criteria. “For Marylanders, I hope it will inspire them to try places beyond the obvious like Great Falls and Sugarloaf Mountain,” Sklarew says. Among her favorites: McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville with its fields of sunflowers, and the Underground Railroad trail in Sandy Spring.

Every summer for 20 years, Lauren Abbey Greenberg has vacationed on the same island in Maine. That setting was the inspiration for her debut novel, The Battle of Junk Mountain (Running Press, April 2018), which is geared for middle school readers. It’s a story about 12-year-old Shayne, who experiences a summer of change and challenges on the Maine coast while visiting her grandmother, Bea, and her best friend, Poppy, who has become more interested in boys than in making bracelets with her. “I want readers to come away with the sense that change can be difficult and scary, but more often than not, change can surprise you in a good way,” says Greenberg, who lives in Rockville and has worked as a freelance documentary script writer for kids programming for the Discovery Channel and other outlets.