Thursday, October 20, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Shannon Lawrence, Author of The Blue Mist

A retired miner living in the mountains, my character from The Blue Mist, Jim, isn't a connoisseur of fine foods. While there is no focus on food in the actual story—though Jim does toss back some whiskey when things get tough—one can hazard a guess as to what he might have eaten (when cleaning up after the mist didn't put him off his food, that is).

The Blue Mist is set in Rocky Mountain National Park, nestled in the Rocky Mountains and adjacent to Estes Park, Colorado. Jim is a holdover from the days of mining, settled in the park to get away from people. Locals don't believe that something is eating campers, no matter how vociferous Jim is, so they view him as a crazy man, referring to him as Prospector Jim. Wanting to avoid having missing persons cases pinned on him as murder (and not being a fan of whispered nastiness and sideways, suspicious glances), he avoids town as much as possible, using his wiles in the woods for the bulk of his food needs, and venturing into town only occasionally for his dry goods, such as flour, salt pork, dried beef, potatoes, apples, and beans. Canned fruits and vegetables tide him over in winter.

And he never forgets the coffee or the whiskey. A man's gotta keep warm. Especially on nights where screams reverberate through the evergreens and aspens.

Luckily for Jim, elk and deer are plentiful in the area, and two species of cutthroat trout reside in the waters flowing down from the snows melting off the rugged peaks. There are also squirrels and rabbits, handy staples when nothing bigger comes around; his trusty old dog, Bessie, helps catch these for them to share. Despite being in the alpine area, there are edible plants for foraging, including raspberries, wild strawberries, and wild asparagus.

As for what the creature in the Blue Mist eats…well, maybe that's better left unsaid.

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

You can find Shannon here:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Tracey Lyons, Author of The Wedding Toast

Recovery takes on new meaning in my short novella, The Wedding Toast, when the Rose Chalet, wine, and weddings are in the picture. Heather Bowman finds herself in romantic San Francisco on an assignment that suddenly involves more than nursing. From the moment Heather sips the first glass of Denafrio estate wine she knows her palate and her life will never be the same again. The electricity of true love is sending currents through the air from the lush vineyards of Napa to the storied California Coast.

For Scott Denafrio food wasn’t worth eating unless it was accompanied by a glass of good wine. Lucky for him his family owns a winery in Northern California. What are some of his favorite pairings? Chicken or fish with some of the estate grown white wines, Pinot Grigio or one of their summer blend wines with light notes of citrus flavors and hints of vanilla.  Or better yet, beef tenderloin paired with the headier notes of his very own signature, Midnight Blend. The flavors of Merlots and Malbec all intermingled in one sexy bottle.

Of course, he’s more interested in getting the pretty Heather Bowman to give up her dreams of returning to the Northeastern part of the country. And what better way to show her seduce than with some of the best food San Francisco has to offer.  To him there is nothing as delicious as a soft shell crab BLT or, better yet, a Crab Louis salad. Maybe he’d even go so far as to add the famous, fresh-out-of-the-oven, sour dough bread. 

Sharing great food and wine all with a stunning woman and a view of the San Francisco bay bridge…life doesn’t get any better. 

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

You can find Tracey here:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome J.E. Lowder, Author of War of Whispers

I love this idea! What a fun, creative and exciting way to talk about our books and characters! So let’s get going!

When I was in the early stages creating my War of Whispers fantasy series, I had to decide how much world building to delve into. Did I want to create a fantasy rich in detail (like GRR Martin) or something like The Hunger Games?  I found (IMHO) a happy median and focused on topics that interested me. I’d much rather watch a cooking show than a political exposé on CNN, so food and dining ousted political/economic backstory. Plus, a meal (or lack thereof) will tell you more about a country or a character’s economic situation than a discourse on finances.

The next hurdle was this: what would my heroine, Elabea (pronounced “Ella-bay”) eat in her dystopian, medieval-like world? Since her nation, Allsbruth, is relegated to an agrarian life by their adversaries, the Ebonites, their diet consists of vegetables with meat coming from what they could hunt. In Chapter 1, while debating the Oracles of the Cauldron with her mother, I chose porridge as her breakfast meal. It is one of their staples, yet is bland and simple, all of which reflect her dull, oppressed life.

Despite their harsh conditions, the Allsbruthians are still able to brew their noteworthy tea. Inspiration for this came from one of my favorites, a spicy brew made by Celestial Seasonings called “Bengal Spice.” Tea drinking is thread throughout the stories but I did so sparingly, which is the culinary secret to using any spice.

Since I love to cook, I created a nation—the MerriNoons—who are hailed as culinary masters. Digri, a MerriNoon who befriends Elabea, emphasizes this point. “Allsbruthians know nothing of cooking…too much fire. Too little spice.” When Elabea is invited to dine with the MerriNoons, she marvels at the sights and aromas.  “The air was filled with the fragrance of hickory-smoked meats, yeast breads, rich spices and fresh herbs.”

The Ebonites, who were the victors in the Dark War, are on the other spectrum. They enjoy the spoils of war: the best art, coffers filled with coins & jewels, and of course, the finest food and wine. To emphasize this lavish lifestyle, I have scenes where Brairtok, their king, dines in opulent splendor while gorging himself on roasted pheasant, boar, fruits, desserts…

In Book II, Martyr’s Moon, I have a key chapter set around an elegant meal where the conversation is as delicious as the food in the banquet hall. But to describe it here would be a “spoiler alert,” so I’ll leave it for you to discover on your own.

If you’re like me, nothing is better than a good meal shared with good friends. Unless, of course, they are characters in your book!

Bon Appétit!

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

You can find Jay and his books here:

Friday, September 30, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Neil Low, Author of Theater of the Crime

During the course of writing novels, I come to places in my stories where I need to share information with readers, adding historical background, context, character development, plotting details, and clues. The problem, I feel, is that the information should be revealed gradually, and it must also move the story along and help my readers solve the mystery before them. The caveat is that these new facts can’t be delivered in the form of an information dump, which might have odd sounding dialogue or appear as an unnatural topic of conversation.

As an example, all too often, when I’m watching a detective movie, I’ll see a protagonist and his secret informant meet inside a strip bar to share information, which strikes me as an overworked cliché—and in real life would be dangerous for the snitch. Not all cops or detectives do their business openly in strip bars, but Hollywood seems to love it, possibly because it gives them a chance to showcase naked women and make a point that the productions are edgy, meaning realistic and gritty. So although I don’t mind nudity or sex in this genre, I make a deliberate effort to find something more engaging about Seattle’s history or geography, where I can bring new information to light, without resorting to the cliché or the information dump.

A case in point in my Theater of the Crime (Available at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, University Bookstore, and Edmonds Bookshop) is where I have protagonist Alan Stewart meet with Sylvie Jourdan, Alexander Conlin’s business manager for late night breakfast at El Gaucho’s Restaurant. I find that greater intimacy and information comes from the relaxed environments of restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes, where people are instinctively more social and let their guards down. There is banter, teasing, social intimacy, and the sharing of clues that the keepers of which might not even know they possess. The focus of their discussion this evening is the spate of suspicious deaths of leading vaudeville magicians, all while performing on Seattle stages during the twilight of the vaudeville years. Alan and Sylvie meet immediately after Conlin’s performance. That evening, in his role of “Alexander Who Knows,” he predicted yet another magician’s death. Alan needs to find out how he’s making these predictions—and if there’s a way for him to prevent any more deaths and solve the mysteries that have already occurred.

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

You can find Neil here:

Friday, September 23, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Russell James, Author of Q Island

Aiden Bailey has shredded wheat squares for breakfast. Every breakfast. At the same time each morning, the exact same amount, arranged the same way in his bowl. It’s part of what his mother Melanie calls the Routine. Aiden needs the Routine.

Aiden has autism, and is pretty far out on the spectrum, with severe communication issues. Having a rigid structure to his day gives him an anchor in the world, and that anchor gives him the internal peace to function.

But the outbreak of the paleovirus on Long Island, New York destroys his routines, and everyone else’s. The virus turns the infected into crazed killers, and the government quarantines the whole island. Aiden and Melanie are trapped.

Aiden becomes infected. But he doesn’t get sick. In fact, his autism gets better. The aspect of his personality that caused his mother so much work and heartache now may hold the cure to the spreading virus. But only if she can get him off the island. She has to get him past the infected, she has to get him past the government, and there’s a gang leader who’s found out about Aiden, and has his own plans for what to do with a boy who might be a cure...

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

You can find Russell here:

Q Island received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and was the Pick of the Month in Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

FOODFIC: Charmfall - Chloe Neill

Charmfall finds 15-year-old Lily Parker picking through the pile in [her] palm, eating the raisins and the other dried fruit first to get them out of the way before moving on to the nuts and – last but not least – chocolate chips. As she says: There may not be an order to the world, but there was definitely an order to trail mix.

But her sentiment’s not quite accurate – her world does have an order. No, not the St. Sophia’s School for Girls in Chicago world; that one has classes and schedules, sure, but the social game there is a minefield of unmarked safezones and bombs that de- and re-activate at will. Oh, wait – that’s all high schools, actually.

Anyway, I think Lily was referring to her other world – the newly-discovered magical realm that she’s trying to navigate between trig quizzes. And that world definitely has an order.

There are two metaphorical camps: the Adepts (Lily’s side) and the Reapers. Adepts, in short, are teenagers with magic, their powers ranging from psychic abilities to controlling elements to casting spells. Reapers are also magic-wielding teens, but they use their free time to suck the souls out of vulnerable kids to feed aged-out magical folk. The adepts try to stop the reapers and save the common folk.

So clearly adepts and reapers ride opposite ends of the moral teeter-totter. But their playground still has rules. Both sides hold meetings in marked locations – adepts in enclaves marked with encircled Ys, reapers in sanctuaries designated by quatrefoils. And a scale model of the city showing all assigned areas is conveniently located in a basement room of the school for the magical students’ reference.

There are even rules for arranged adept/reaper cross meetings:

Cease fire means no magic will be used during this meeting. South side rules means we’re fair game after we leave the bridge, but we can’t snipe hunt – so only the people on the bridge can work the magic, not the folks we brought with us.

See? Lots. Of. Order.

Now, with all that said, in this 3rd installment of the Dark Elite series, there is a disruption to the order – a loss of magic. For both teams. With the playing field equal, will the adepts and reapers call a truce until they can figure out what’s going on?

Good thing trail mix is high in protein…Lily’s gonna need it. ;)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome C.P. Lesley, Author of Kingdom of the Shades

Ballerinas: aren’t they allergic to food? Sasha Sinclair, heroine of Desert Flower and Kingdom of the Shades, doesn’t think so. She’ll munch on a Danish at the drop of a pointe shoe. After all, how fat can she get when she dances ten hours a day? Her partner complains, but she knows he’s only goofing on her. Her father paired them when they were kids, so he’s closer than a brother. Besides, she eats healthy most of the time. She hasn’t much choice, having married a pilot from a culture that specializes in vegan cuisine. It was love at first sight, Tarkei-style—an ancient tradition commonly dismissed as a legend until Sasha and Danion, without even lifting a finger, proved the doubters wrong. Neither of them has time to cook, but in the twenty-fourth century they don’t have to: machines spit out restaurant-level meals on command.

Danion pays little attention to what goes in his mouth, but he does have standards. The virulent orange soup his protegé loves because it reminds him of the one Mama used to make has Danion sending silent prayers of thanks skyward that Mama is no longer around. Then there’s his old friend Thuja, who likes her dinner fresh—as in running at top speed in the other direction. Meals with Thuja pose a challenge. How many urgent prior engagements can one guy dream up, even with help from his equally disgusted wife?

Ballerinas spend a lot of time on tour, and food means home as well as sustenance. The vegan cuisine Sasha likes reminds her of trips to India and Mexico. And when she takes charge of her husband’s adopted daughter, torn from her native planet and dumped all unaware in San Francisco, the quest for the right chili pepper offers a way for them to bond. At least the girl isn’t asking for virulent orange soup….

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

In addition to Desert Flower and its sequel, Kingdom of the Shades, C. P. Lesley is the author of The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel and Legends of the Five Directions, a series set in Russia during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible that begins with The Golden Lynx.

Five Directions Press          Amazon          Amazon UK          Amazon CA

Thursday, August 25, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Aubree Lane, Author of Tahoe Blues

The Culinary Delights of Tahoe Blues

From the upscale Jakes on the Lake to Rookies Bar & Grill, the food around Lake Tahoe can’t be beat. Our heroine, Cara Lee Greene, is ready to sample it all. Recently divorced from the city’s most successful casino owner, Cara’s new found freedom is severely hampered when the State of Nevada straps the most unappealing piece of jewelry around her ankle. Under house arrest for a crime she didn’t commit, Cara is forced to rely on her lawyer and private detective, David Crandall, to set her free.

With little else to do but eat, it isn’t long before Cara’s cupboards are bare and takeout becomes her mainstay. Isolated from her friends, Chinese food, French bread and her favorite wines from California are more than mere nourishment, they become Cara’s lifeline to a world she is no longer allowed to take part in.

Mrs. Grimes, a neighbor and the baker of the most delectable muffins and cookies Granite Gages Estates has ever seen, is convinced the apartment complex’s new managerial assistant is behind the infamous, Cara caper. Leaving the flour and eggs behind, Mrs. G. ventures out of the kitchen to conduct an investigation of her own.

The case unravels the moment Mrs. Grimes and David Crandall cross paths.

How will it all turn out? You must pick up a copy of Tahoe Blues to find out!

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

You can find Aubree here:

And Tahoe Blues here:                    Amazon US                    Amazon UK

                                                           Amazon Canada             Amazon Australia

Thursday, August 18, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Daniele Lanzarotta, Author of Shattered Souls

I will never understand those vampires who feed off animals or bags of donated blood. Let’s face it… if you are a vampire like those Cullens, who drink from animals, you are bound to get hair in your mouth while eating. Who can enjoy a meal like that? And those bags of donated blood are no different than frozen meals… or so I hear.

By the way, I’m Nicholas Taylor, a vampire who enjoys being what he is, because let’s face it, eternity is a whole lot of time to spend resenting who you are or what/who you eat.

I enjoy drinking the sweet and warm blood straight from the source. I do have my preferences too. I don’t feed on just anyone. For one thing, I don’t feed on guys. I also prefer drinking from the neck. There is just something about hearing your ‘meal’ enjoy being fed on, and that one spot maximizes every sound… every reaction. And although I usually drink from humans, there is one vampire who I enjoy drinking from just as much - my ‘Little Minion.’

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

You can find Daniele here:

And here's a tempting excerpt of Shattered Souls:

I got closer to her and whispered for her to close her eyes and relax.  She did, and I moved her head slightly to the side.  I used my fingernail to make a small scratch on her neck.  It was just enough to start bleeding.  The fact that we were in such enclosed space and with someone starting to breath heavy in the front seat, made the scent of her blood overwhelming.  Within seconds, my lips were on her neck, and her sweet blood was running through my body.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Nancy Klann-Moren, Author of The Clock of Life

The mere mention of southern cuisine conjures up mind-images of moss covered cypress alongside lazy dirt roads.  A tale set in the South, without the smells, tastes, and devotion put into its dishes would feel like half a tale. It's as essential as the characters and scenery.

In my novel, The Clock Of Life, there are a few southern "flavor" firsts for the protagonist, Jason Lee, not the least being, moonshine.

   I brought it up to my lips. “This stuff smells like my mama’s nail polish remover.”
   “Just drink,” Samson said.
   Not one second after I took my first swig a fire hit the back of my throat, then roared through my chest and settled like smoldering embers in my belly. “Tastes bad as it smells,” I said between chokes. 
   “This stuff’s made for the kick, not the taste. Try not to taste it.” 
   I wiped my eyes with my sleeve. “White lightnin ain’t for sissies.” 
   “No, it ain’t, but this here’s better’n white lightnin. It’s my pa’s own brew. Calls it Mr. J’s Black Thunder. Get it, black for white, thunder for ligntnin?”
   “Course I get it.” 
   I breathed in the humid air to cool my throat and looked at the river again, doing its own thing, paying no attention to us. My mind raced ahead, looking forward to more nights like that one. The feeling of freedom is a powerful thing.

And there's the colorful patchwork-quilt of simple yet soulful offerings that pack the kitchen during the wake.

   Food for the grieving covered every surface of the kitchen. Cast-iron pots of chitlins and hog maws boiled on the stove. The counter, usually tidy and scrubbed clean by Mrs. Johnson, was packed with mounds of fried chicken and catfish piled on platters. Dozens of wooden spoons were wedged in crusted casseroles of macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes smothered in marshmallows, and large bowls of every kind of gumbo you could imagine. 
   Two women came in carrying bowls covered with foil. The older one had a long, stretched-out face and arms skinny as chicken bones. She set her bowl next to a pot of red beans, peeled back the foil, and pulled out one of her red Kool-Aid pickles. The other one did the same with her pickled watermelon rind.

But, the sweet, succulent star, woven through the story is Amalgamation Cake
   “I think I’ll take ’em an Amalgamation cake,” Mama said. “A little employment insurance. Somethin to sweeten ’em up. It can’t hurt.” 
   “Funny name for a cake. What’s it mean?”
   “Amalgamation means combinin things that don’t usually go together, for the better.”
   So began her Friday evening ritual of baking two cakes. The first thing she did was remove the handed-down recipe card from its place in her mother’s cookbook and set it on the counter. She had no need to read it but kept it there anyway. 

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

You can find Nancy here: