Friday, July 25, 2014

FOODFIC: Frozen - Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15850937-frozen



The dystopia created by Cruz and Johnston is pretty much what the title implies – a bleak world of cold and ice, insufferable to all but the heat-elite of the RSA (Remaining States of America). You could even say the second social tier is comprised of hooved quadrupeds – the few remaining cattle who are nurtured in expensive temperature-controlled stables. The cows probably [live] better lives than most people, in fact.

Since clearly very few people are eating beef, the only meat available to the common folk consists of whale, walrus, or reindeer. Those who can’t stomach that are left with processed junk like pizza squeezers and Thanksgiving in a can. Like I said, bleak. And perhaps blech as well. ;) Either or both ways, the availability of food provides a great platform for revealing the inner-workings of the characters.

You see, we first meet Ryan Wesson as he is turning down a steak dinner. Or, more precisely, turning down a job offer he can’t stomach. He actually lets the food be sent back to the kitchen, knowing he’s in turn sending himself and his crew back to the food lines. But even in desperate times, he has an ethical fiber that he can’t shed, despite knowing he’d be warmer (and fuller) without it. Yes, he’s in the mercenary business, but his ex-military moral compass forces him to use his skills for protection and rescue. No, a contract to murder for hire is too much.

Now, in drastic contrast to Wes is the proposer of the next job he DOES accept – a girl who needs help getting out of the country ASAP... and who Wes instantly pegs as a liar and a thief.
Still, he agrees to take her to the “Blue” – a perhaps mythical realm where the sun still shines and the water still flows clear and blue, as does the sky – partially because he needs the money and the work doesn’t harm anyone, but equally because he finds Nat so intriguing.

And when Nat finds out mid-venture that Wes first needs her help to get his ship back – as in, he has a ship, he just doesn’t have it right now – she in turn finds herself falling for this Jack Sparrowish-rogue.

Will they make it to the Blue – if it even exists? And what will they eat when the get there? Good thing it looks like there’ll be another installment to this saga, as my hunger for answers was only partly satisfied. ;)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

FOODFIC: Welcome Serina Hartwell, Author of Hidden

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22382615-hidden---serina-hartwell


I first dreamt up the Hidden Saga many years ago, while at the bottom of my garden. It was a hot sunny day in the middle of August and I had a thirst that I just couldn’t quench. As I reminisce, I recall heading down with a glass of fresh orange and sitting for the longest time, just thinking, watching the water condensate around my glass and run down onto the table. Water – That was the only thing that I was sure of when I first made the decision that I really had something worth pursuing in Hidden. I had no idea where my story would take me, but it led me along a path that I’m still walking along and the elements became a focal point in Bronte and Bayer’s world.

When any writer decides to write, they have to start somewhere and that can be both scary and exhilarating all at the same time. With the first stroke of the keys, a new writer might have an idea of what they are going to put in their story, but it is very rare that a writer will wake up with a full book in their head, ready to go for their first attempt. When I started the only thing I knew was that I wanted to write a about a family with small children, who were inseparable and would grow up together, so I created Bronte and then Riley, who are best friends in Hidden.

Deciding to create a saga meant that I had to find ways to grow friendships, resolve woes and conflicts, while indicating that my characters had solid family backgrounds. One device I chose was to use food as the means of conveying this to my readers. Without considering its true attributes, food is often used as a means of building bridges, impressing those around us, or that special person in your life. It brings families and friends together, it builds friendships and representatives one’s status. Food is used in all manner of ways in daily life that we take for granted and I wanted to capitalize on that aspect in Hidden.

There aren’t many scenes in Hidden where I use food, but all the scenes I use it in are important, often spelling key moments or significant points in the storyline. I use freshly baked soft muffins and hot chocolate with marshmallows, when Riley goes to visit Bronte in hospital after her accident. I used the food to convey to my audience, not only that they are young, but that there needed to be an application of comfort applied to the visit. This is the sort of thing that we all like, but as teenagers, we tend to see them as too childish to order, and shy away from them. However a caring grandmother would make them to aid a granddaughter’s recovery and help sooth pain. Comfort food screams volumes to my audience that my characters are in need of some TLC. I also have Riley order a hot chocolate when he visits the café with his mother and receives bad news about Bronte. The comfort of the hot chocolate with its decadent luxury is there to soften the blow.

I use this device again later on, when Bronte leaves the hospital and is visited by her friends. Mrs Salvador bakes a cake with Bronte before her friends come round, this is to show how close she is to her grandmother. A shared activity of this nature immediately conjures up a whole host of imagery. My audience can draw upon this to gain an appreciation of the bond between Mrs Salvador and her granddaughter, therefore picking up the caring aspects conveyed by the scene, without me having to go into any detail.

When Bronte returns home from hospital, I throw a family get together with a huge welcome home meal. The size of the meal is there to represent the depth of feeling that her family has for her. Their measure of guilt thrown in there, is to compensate for the fact that they almost lost her in her accident and is characterised by the food put on the table to spoil her. I drew from my own childhood with this. I recall going to visit my grandmother, who lived in the next town. We didn’t drive, so immediately a visit to her house became an event with a degree of formality. I used to love the bus ride there and the fact that she always made a huge Sunday roast dinner with all the trimmings. That was back in the days when I used to eat meat and her roast beef and Yorkshire puddings were to die for, even if I did push the meat around my plate.

My grandmother always made Yorkshire puddings a little different to everyone else I know. They are usually huge crown shaped batters that almost climb out of the tin, but she made them so that they were flat, filling the tin that they were poured into. They still clambered out of the tin, but the walls made it the container needed for the meal. They were the size of dinner plates.

A Yorkshire pudding isn’t sweet despite what its name implies, unless it is made that way. It was meant to be a savoury batter that families used to make the food on the table at meal time go further. They were traditionally made for lower class families, whose incomes didn’t stretch very far, but once tasted, it doesn’t matter what your background, you’ll always want them on your table.

My grandmother used to take pride in telling me about how my dad and my uncles would have one each and how it had become a family tradition. Putting them on the plates, she would fill them with the rest of the dinner then pour gravy over everything. The trick was to eat them without the gravy pouring off your plate, not an easy task when you’re young. I could never get through a whole one back then and brought this memory with me to draw upon when writing Hidden – Book 1 of the Hidden Saga.

Ps. did you know that Trapped - Book 2, is coming soon?


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Serina!


You can find Serina here:


                                                    SerinaHartwell.com
 





Friday, July 11, 2014

FOODFIC: Dorothy Must Die - Danielle Paige

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18053060-dorothy-must-die



Her name may still be Dorothy Gayle, but she is nothing like the girl you remember from that first journey to Oz.

She’s still wearing her trademark blue-and-white checks, but she’s traded in the farm-girl cotton for silk and chiffon in a style somewhere between haute couture and French hooker. Mm-hmm.

Oh, and she’s wicked now, too. Not in title, of course, as the official wicked witch collective is still around, but as defined by her nasty behavior. And speaking of titles, she’s given herself a bold one: Princess Dorothy of Oz, second only to Ozma, who for all intents and purposes is only (thanks again to Dorothy and her usurping of all magic in the realm) a shell of a person. Really this means Dorothy is now running the show, along with her trusty companions who have also all changed equally for the worse.

The Tin Woodsman now commands the army – human soldiers who’ve been mechanically and creepily modified much like himself – and doles out punishments like flesh-melting bubbles. The Lion rules the forest and also has a paw in penalizing those who’ve “wronged” Dorothy; when a guard merely looks at the princess, the “criminal” is charged with a wandering eye, which the Lion quickly flicks out with one crooked claw and swallows whole. And the Scarecrow’s the worst of all with his Moreau-like experiments on the citizens of Oz, as well as his draining of others’ brain fluid to inject into his own newly acquired organ.

See? Oz is almost unrecognizable.

But this is where the heroine – Amy from Kansas – comes in. Coincidentally (or not) a tornado also delivers her to Oz, where she can perhaps undo the damage wreaked by her fellow Midwestern predecessor. Before she can even acclimate to her new surroundings, she’s tasked to REMOVE the Tin Woodsman’s heart, STEAL the Scarecrow’s brain, TAKE the Lion’s courage, and finally KILL Dorothy herself. A tall order for a girl who was just yesterday struggling to survive high school!

To accomplish this mission, Amy is magically transformed by the wicked witches into Astrid the maid so that she may infiltrate the palace. Like the other servants, she is treated like a slave – working to the point of exhaustion and “lucky” to get a 15-minute break to snack on stale muffin bottoms, which are actually a rare treat for workers.

So, even though Amy initially had trouble reconciling the horror stories she was hearing with the storybook heroine she knew, and she had NO intention of ever murdering anyone, it’s not long before she recognizes that Dorothy has become a magic- (and muffin top-) hoarding fascist. And when some of Amy’s new Ozian friends fall victim to the ruby-shod tyrant, Amy’s unwanted assignment turns into a vendetta of her own.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Gilda Evans, Author of Girl Talk


http://www.gildaevans.com/author

Most of my audience knows me as an author and speaker, but few are familiar with my poetry.
  
My poetry is as diverse as my other writings – the meter, subject matter and innate rhythms vary greatly. The one I’ve chosen to share now is one of my earlier poems. It is freeform with a distinctly feminine subject.  It was inspired on a rather lonely, rainy day several years ago while I was contemplating the view from my window. I felt a most interesting swirl of emotions, that encompassed isolation, peace, sadness, hope and wonder all rolled into a kaleidoscope of feeling that came out on paper in the form you are about to read.

In particular, for the purpose of Shelley's blog I'd like to say that certain foods will inspire me to write. Which ones often depends on the mood of the day.  In this particular case, it was a hot cup of coffee with my favorite creamer, coupled with a fresh, warm buttermilk biscuit and jam.  Feeding my body certain things that make me smile helps me write with passion and from the heart.  And through my writing I feed my soul as well.  Perhaps that's this writer's personal meaning of "soul food"!

I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to receiving any comments you'd like to share. My sincere thanks to Shelley Workinger for allowing me the privilege being a guest on her blog!



A MOTHER’S LOVE
The sound of the rain pounds against the beating
of my heavy heart.
Would that it could be lightened…
By a soft, sweet voice,
a tender word,
a hand extended.
I watch the water meet the earth under a gloomy sky.
It matches the mood.
A tear rolls down my cheek
as I look up and notice the droplets
clinging to the needles of the pine,
and perched high in the branches of the weeping willow,
glistening like diamonds for the taking.
As if in answer to my plea, the wind gently moves the boughs
as a hoot owl sounds its acknowledgment.
One by one, the droplets fall
offering to me something precious,
something right there within my grasp
if I will only reach for it.
I am uplifted.
Nature beckons, and I feel the Mother’s hand
caress my chin.
“Do not be sad, daughter,” she says.
“I am here. I will guide you.
My jewels will adorn you. And
our hearts will be forever as one.
Rejoice. For when you are with me,
all is possible.”


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Gilda!


GILDA EVANS started her first business while in college at the age of 20, which she sold at a profit when she was 24.  Winning her first poetry contest at the tender age of 9 and her first essay contest at 10, writing and speaking have always been natural forms of expression for her.

Her first business was followed by two years of teaching lighting design at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.  The long and winding road then led Gilda to begin her stint as a television writer/producer/director, working for such venues as CBS, HBO, Showtime and Warner Brothers.  It was during this time that she also met and married her children’s father.  Twelve plus years and three Emmy and Ace award nominations later, Gilda left the TV industry to devote herself to her family.

Unfortunately, the happily ever after was not to be back then, and after a fourteen year marriage she found herself going through a divorce.  It was at that point she decided to reinvent herself and her career.  Her myriad of experiences comes to the forefront in GIRL TALK…a book series twenty years in the making whose time has finally come.  As Gilda likes to say, “I have a PhD in relationships from the school of life!” She is also working on a YA novel series, THE ALTERNATES. 


Connect with Gilda here:
www.GildaEvans.com Pinterest 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

FOODFIC: Please Welcome St. John Karp, Author of Radium Baby

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17852853-radium-baby



My favorite ice-breaker on a first date is, "If you could travel back in time to any period, when would you go?" You can tell a lot about a person by how they answer. A lot of people seem to want to meet Jesus, which is legit, although they conveniently forget to set aside time to learn Aramaic first. My own choice would be the 1920s. They were in the middle of a post-war cultural revolution — it was the golden age of the silver screen, Dadaism was turning into Surrealism, you couldn't sneeze without hitting ten radioactive consumer products, and they spoke English. The sheer amount of cool stuff going down made it a great place to set Radium Baby. The only problem for an aspiring alcoholic like me is that it's also boom-smack in the middle of the American Prohibition.


But the characters in Radium Baby don't let that stop them. You could always throw a fuzz junket on bathtub moonshine, or else get a bit squiffy on giggle water at the blind tiger. My favorite Prohibition-era cocktail has to be the Sidecar — an intoxicating mix of two parts Cognac, one part Cointreau, and one part lemon juice, served with sugar on the rim. I drank at least four of these (I lost count) as research for this article, and I can confirm that by the end of the night I'd completely forgotten that it wasn't actually 1927.


The Sidecar may have been a bit frou-frou for Prohibition tastes, though, especially as it was a European cocktail and all those fancy brandies were hard to come by. Herbie Wise would have liked them, I think, because he has a taste for the finer things in life. What really fuels a public drunk like Adrian Ember, though, is gin. This makes the Martini the cocktail of choice for the adults in Radium Baby. You take your vermouth, shake it up in the cocktail shaker enough to coat the ice, then pour it out. Then you pour in your gin, shake it again, and pour. Garnish with green olives. I have a passionate love for salt, so the dirtier the Martini the better. Also, don't let any unlicked rube tell you it's one part vermouth to six parts gin — too much vermouth is the quickest way to ruin a perfectly good Martini. Winston Churchill said the best way to add vermouth to your Martini was simply to raise your glass in the direction of France.


While Ember and Wise like a tipple, Mrs. Cholmondeley is a die-hard teetotaler. Even she, however, seems to have her own unwitting crutch in the form of June Kennedy's Prune Remedy. This Prune Remedy was inspired by a few real health tonics from the time, but particularly Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. Pinkham's Compound contained a good wallop of "medicinal" alcohol, which garnered it an unexpected level of popularity in the Prohibition. There are endless testimonies in Mrs. Pinkham's advertising from housewives whose kids are driving them nuts, but after a bottle or nine of Vegetable Compound they feel right as rain. Pinkham's Compound still turns up in pop culture from time to time, in songs like "Lily the Pink", or as Ephraim's Extract in a recent episode of Quick Draw.


If your blood runs more towards the healthy side of things (and if it does, I can't think why you're reading anything I've written), then your 1920s self might have downed a few radioactive health tonics. Yes, people in the '20s were drinking radioactive water, often every day under the misapprehension that it would cure them of wambling trot or the strong fives. In Radium Baby Gloria drinks from a Revigator — a household radioactive tank which you'd fill with water to be steeped in healthy radioactive rays. For good measure these things would also leech arsenic, lead, and uranium into the water. Over three years one man in real life drank 1,400 bottles of a radioactive tonic called Radithor, and he swore it did wonders for his health right up until the day his face fell off. He had to be buried in a lead coffin.


Valerie and Alexander Pepperpot also partake of a goodly dose of radium in the form of a radioactive duck. The dish is a party piece that, when prepared properly, will create a chemical reaction that expels air through the duck's throat and makes it quack as it's being carved. There was a little truth-bending here on my part, but the recipe is real — only the recipe was medieval and the secret ingredient was mercury instead of radium. As far as I know there aren't any records of people dying from eating these mercury birds, but then I don't imagine they fared much better than the Pepperpots did.


For those who want to throw their own radium-themed wingding, I'd recommend against irradiating the local poultry. Instead, let me take this back to where it began — booze. A great radium-themed drink is the Grasshopper, a mix of one part cream, one part Crème de menthe, and one part white Crème de cacao. You wind up with a lurid green cocktail that is absolutely delicious. Here's mud in your eye, fly-boy.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, St. John!



Connect with the author here: