Friday, March 10, 2023

FOODFIC: Please Welcome ND Richman, Author of Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys

Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys

What Did They Eat?

If you were a young boy of twelve, ignored by your parents and loved by the gang you hung out with, what would you like to eat? What if you’d built a secret hide-out inside of your home – a place you would monitor the household from hidden cameras and microphones, and scare your brother half to death with noises that seemed to appear from nowhere? What food would you stash in there? Salads, frogs legs, and caviar? No, not  Michael. He liked junk food. And while on the topic of food, what about the inevitable outcome of eating?

Michael tossed Chris a root beer and split open a bag of cheese nachos.

“We've gotta get out of here,” Chris said through a mouthful of chips, “somewhere safe.”

Michael flopped onto the futon. “Where?” 

“I’m thinking.” Chris swallowed and chugged some root beer. “Where's your cell phone?”

“On the pad.”

Chris glanced at the floor. The charge pad was almost right underneath them in the kitchen. “Shoot. I don't know where mine is.”

“Chris?” Michael's eyes bulged.


“I gotta go.”

Chris stopped chewing. “Bathroom?”


“Oh,” Chris said. “Use the waste line. The one you diverted from the bathtub drain.”

“No way. That’s a one inch line. I’m way beyond that.” Michael stood up and bounced on his toes.

“Do you have a blender? We can whip it up and pour it down.” 

Michael kicked the bag of chips out of Chris’s hand, sending a plume of nachos into the air. “You’re gross!” 

“Smooth, Michael, real smooth. How about a spoon then?”

Now imagine you’re Chris – Michael’s older brother. Chris only wanted to bring his brother up right, keeping him fed and out of trouble. Keeping Michael out of trouble wasn’t working out too well, but Chris had the opportunity to cook dinner in a kitchen built on dreams. And how best to describe the horror both boys had just experienced than a steak?

Chris grabbed two steaks from the freezer, placed them into the microwave, and watched the defrost time out. It was seven o'clock, and he was tired and hungry, but pleased they had finished their chores.

Michael walked into the kitchen. “I’m going to find some cash.”

Chris jumped as the microwave beeped. “Make sure you put an I.O.U. in its place.” 

Michael thumped up the stairs. Chris pulled out the steaks. They were bloody and wet, marbled with fat, and pulled images of Michael's bullet riddled body into his head. His hand started to shake and he dropped the plate on the island with a clatter. Michael should have died today. How did he escape those bullets anyway? Bill shot from twenty feet away, and he obliterated the wall. Michael had always been lucky and, for once, Chris was glad for it, though Michael's fear shocked him. He'd never seen Michael scared of anything, until today.

Chris fired up the grill and tossed on the steaks. The flames devoured the dripping fat, and the smells kicked Chris’s appetite into overdrive, pushing the horrific pictures from his mind. He placed two potatoes into the oven and a pot of water on the stove for beans. He'd been cooking dinner for years, leaving Michael's on a plate for whenever he'd get home. Michael had never thanked him. Instead he chased Chris out of the kitchen with his ghostly noises, clanging pans, and blinking lights. Chris shook his head, his anger dissipating over the thought that Michael was so darned clever. He removed the steaks and placed each on a plate.

Chris watched Michael pile his plate with green beans. He opened the oven and tossed Michael a potato. He scooped some beans onto his plate, split open a potato, and gobbed peanut butter on it. They walked to the TV room and flopped onto the couch. 

The next morning, Michael creates the perfect breakfast for two hungry boys.

Michael held up a plate stacked with pancakes and smiled.

“Wow, those are massive. I didn't know you could cook. What’s in them?” 

“M&Ms, marshmallows, and cashews. I found strawberry jam, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup to spread on top.”

Chris patted his stomach. “Hmmm. Breakfast of the gods.”

And of course, who doesn’t enjoy a Big Mac?

Chris carried a tray loaded with Big Macs, fries, and hot apple pies. Michael stumbled out of the washroom. Chris flopped at a table, popped open a carton, and stuffed the warm hamburger into his mouth.

“I figured you'd push the whole burger in there,” Michael said.

“Hmpphhhm,” Chris said.

Chris chewed until his jaw hurt. He swallowed and fired in a french fry.

“Michael, where did you learn how to build a Taser?”

“Internet,” Michael mumbled through a mouthful of hamburger. He swallowed. “Did you know the word Taser originated from a book called Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle?”

“No, I didn’t. Hmm, should have named them after Tom Swift and His Bludgeoning Hoe. Heh!”

“Very funny, Chris. They’re actually simple devices, transformers, diodes, and a capacitor.”

“Please don’t tell me you tested it on someone’s cat.”

“Nope. I tested it on myself, just about killed me.”

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

You can find ND here:

Friday, March 3, 2023

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Julie Rowe, Author of Viable Threat


I’ve written several bioterrorism thrillers where the best thing there is to eat is a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE). MREs are vacuum sealed, cooked meals that have a shelf life of 5 years. In Viable Threat, the first book in my Outbreak Task Force series, the main characters are in a crisis situation, a city is locked down, and the only food available are MREs. MREs are used usually by the military, but can be purchased by anyone for camping trips, and like in Viable Threat, in emergencies. 

It feels like every week is its own emergency these days. Cooking has gotten expensive. Groceries, and nearly every other consumable thing, has increased in price no matter where you live. Shipping costs have gone up and there are shipping delays on so many things thanks to multiple global events. Conversations with friends have shifted to where the best price on meat is, and which recipes can be stretched. We’ve discussed meal prep and how to use leftovers. 

One of the meal prep ideas my best friend and I have been using is bulk cooking and freezing meal sized portions. We take one Sunday a month, decide which meals we’re going to prepare, cook, and freeze for that month. We purchase all our groceries in bulk for all the meals, and work together to cook it all up. 

There are several ways once-a-month-cooking benefits us. One, because we’re buying in bulk, it’s cheaper. Also, we’re going to the grocery store less often throughout the rest of the month, which means fewer impulse purchases. There’s less stress on the whole family because no one has to worry about what’s for dinner tonight.

Want to give it a try? Here’s one of my favorite recipes Freeze it in whatever size suits your needs, from family size, to smaller portions for lunches.

Baked Spaghetti

Traditional Italian flavours.  Serve with garlic bread.

Metric Imperial

0.45 Kg Lean ground beef, browned 1 lb

500 ml Spaghetti, cooked 2 cups

370 ml Frozen or canned corn 1 and a half cups

120 ml Finely chopped mushrooms half cup

1 370 ml can Tomato soup 1 12 oz can

1 860 ml can Tomatoes, chopped 1 28 oz can

250 ml Cheddar cheese, grated 1 cup

1 Medium onion, chopped 1

2.5 ml Chilli powder half tsp

2.5 ml Worcestershire sauce half tsp

370 ml Chopped mushrooms 1 and a half cups

2.5 ml Oregano half tsp

2.5 ml Basil half tsp

Brown ground beef and onion.  Break spaghetti into pieces and boil for 10 mins.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well.  Freeze in doubled Ziploc bags.

To serve: Defrost in fridge overnight.  Put in a large casserole dish, Cover and bake at 350 F (180 C) for 1 and a half hrs.  OR cook in slow cooker on low for 6 10 8 hours.

Tip: cook hamburger needed for ALL your recipes in one or two large frying pans at the same time.  Then separate into meal sized portions (about two cups of cooked meat).

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

You can find Julie here:

Twitter @JulieRoweAuthor

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Thursday, February 16, 2023

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jo Robinson, Author of Sands of Time

I’ve always enjoyed the parts of the books I’ve read where the people in them were preparing food, eating it, or just talking about it in general. I also like to know the things that the authors I love get up to when they’re not writing books. Not only the things that they like to eat or drink, but I like to know a little about all their interests. I’m not sure if everyone’s like that, or if I’m just nosier than most. I don’t think so, though. For me it’s always the parts of fiction that are relatable that make me love or hate a book. Most people can relate to some things. Grief, love, laughter, outrageousness, a remembered smell or scenario, but we can all relate to food.

Now that Shelley has brought the food in fiction into sharper focus for me, I realise that my own books are liberally laced with some aspect of eating. My first book, African Me and Satellite TV, pretty much revolves around it, because one of the main characters is a passionate and brilliant home cook, and everyone around her loves everything that she makes; apart from a memorable for all the wrong reasons Garlic Martini.

In another of my books, Echoes of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight, there is a little coffee shop in the middle of a sort-of secret garden, where a few damaged souls get together to plan, bond, help, heal, and of course, eat and drink.

Finally in my thus far one and only Sci-Fi/Fantasy book, Sands of Time, there are humans eating the usual human sort of food, but there are also other beings. Among others there are the Voxavi, a race of dragon-like creatures. They are an incredibly intelligent and advanced species. In their first get-together with the humans on their home world, they all enjoy a feast together of natural foods and nectars, but at the end they develop a slight addiction to human junk food. Cookies in particular.

So, food and eating seems to be a little or a large part of fiction, just as it is in life. Thank you, Shelley, for shining a spotlight on such an integral and yet often unnoticed part of storytelling.

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

You can find Jo here:

YouTube Channel

Twitter @jorobinson176

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Jo Robinson is a writer and children’s book illustrator living in South Africa. She is the author of several books, including fiction and non-fiction, as well as the illustrator of various children’s books by different authors. After a couple of years of health and life issues, and also having to learn how to mainly use one eye, she is now back in the writing and publishing world.

Friday, February 3, 2023

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Eileen Schuh, Author of Project W.Olf

Nothing makes a stronger romantic impression, perhaps, than offering up a home-cooked meal. But that cooking has to be taken up a notch to worthy of a scene in a novel. It has to be ‘elevated’, as Chef Ramsay says on his shows. 

How about...Can you imagine being able to smell chocolate with 100 percent more intensity than you can now? Peter Kane, the hero in my latest SciFi release, Project W.Olf, can.  He’s volunteered for a research project that’s imbued him with the wolf’s olfactory abilities. 

That could definitely be a plus in the kitchen. Sniffing out all those spices and herbs. A quick inhale to tell if the steak is rare, or medium. Is the casserole done?

“Oh, shit!” Although it was good he was learning to ignore olfactory input in favor of mental concentration, it was definitely not good the house was full of smoke. He’d forgotten to reset the timer for his casserole.

The chime rang again and he scurried toward the door, turning off the oven on his way past. Now that he was aware of it, the smoke was burning his throat and eyes and clogging his lungs. He flung open the door and sucked in a breath of cold evening air. “Marie,” he managed, between coughs. He stepped out on the stoop with her, hacking and wiping his eyes. 

“Do we need 911?” she asked after a moment.

“No,” he gasped. “It’s just supper. I burned supper.” He wiped his eyes and nose with his sleeve. “Come in…”

Marie is a forgiving creature though, and…well I’ll let her tell you how she eventually got the evening back on track:

“I’m not sure what to do for supper, he says.” He has the rich mahogany dining table set with earthy ceramic dishes that I swear were hand-painted and locally kilned. “Would you like me to see if I can make reservations somewhere?”

“What is it you were planning to serve? It looks like you went to a lot of trouble.”

“It was just a chicken casserole.”

“If you have the ingredients, let’s make another one. I’ll help. It won’t take long and then we can pretend none of the smoky shit hap—we can pretend you didn’t burn supper and the evening was perfect.”

“I actually do have enough left to make another. I didn’t know you liked cooking. Are you sure?”

“I’m very sure. I’m best at slicing and dicing—the spicing I’m sometimes not so good at.”

He is so pleased I like cooking and together we prepare the most scrumptious meal I can remember.

Ah, yes. #Sigh. Food and romance. ‘Elevated’ or not, is there any combination better than that?

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

You can find Eileen here:

Twitter @EileenSchuh

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, January 20, 2023

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Linda Rondeau, Author of The Fifteenth Article



What would people eat in a post-apocalyptic world? Something I had to consider when writing my futuristic political thriller, The Fifteenth Article. The diet in this book is dependent upon where people live. In the cities, only the rich can afford fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits. The rest of the populace subsists on cloned provisions, meager at best. 

 Nuclear damage to the environment due do sporadic wars, religious confrontation, global climatic upheaval, and the failure of government to fix economic and social issues, led to a second dark age. The Governments consolidate and a world government is formed called The Accord. It was too weak, much like The League of Nations, and was replaced by  quasi-democratic system called The Constitutional Government based on Fourteen Articles of Confederation. The world is divided into nineteen provinces, each with a local leadership. Each province has a domed, capital city where citizens enjoy a comfortable life if they promise allegiance to the Constitutional Government. 

In the recent past, those who disagreed with the government were allowed to defect and take their chances living in the hostile regions surrounding the cities. They were left to their own systems, mostly comprised of nomads and marauders. Food was scarce and was comprised of whatever animal or vegetation survived the nuclear wars. 

However, two provinces began to organize … one militarily, based in the Highlands provinces of former British Isles and Ireland. The developed agricultural system in the Western America Province, centered around what was Colorado, and near the city of America Prime … headquarters for both the Western America Province and the World Capital. Because of it’s agricultural importance, the government began a system of interference to take control of the area, beginning with tithes in exchange for autonomy. It’s food was vital to feeding millions with fresh food, rather than a dependence upon cloning. 

When the book begins, the first president of The Constitutional Government, in power for twenty-five years, is dying. He has opted for euthanasia. According to law, his second becomes acting president until his position as the new president is approved by Congress. The new president has his eyes set on the agricultural success of Western America outland and hears rumor of the area declaring independence from the world government.

To counteract this growing idea, the new president has proposed a bill to make defection both present and past a crime punishable by death. However, he also proposes an option of repatriation to avoid the death penalty. The new law, or the Fifteenth Article, would become law upon his official installment as president. Will the banded communities of Western America Province outland resist or surrender their hard-won freedom? Will civil war emerge and throw the new world into a third dark age?

Throughout history, agriculture has been important to governments who continue to find ways to control the national breadbasket.  And so it is, in the next world to come.   

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

You can find Linda here:

Twitter @LWRondeau

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon


Something to be said for a man who likes to cook. After retirement, my husband took over the culinary reign in the Rondeau household. For the most part, I like this … gives me more time to focus on my writing career. As retired folks, we probably, ashamedly, focus on ease and convenience more than nutrition … something we’re committed to change going forward. Glad we don’t have to resort to cloned food as many in The Fifteenth Article need to do. 

Retired social worker and award-winning author, Linda Wood Rondeau lives with her husband of forty-five years in Hagerstown, MD. The author is a breast cancer survivor and a recovering food addict. A Toastmaster graduate, she enjoys speaking to groups about her experiences as well as the writing life. She has published over fourteen books, including a few nonfiction works, and has served as managing editor for her publisher, Elk Lake Publishing for a number of years. Currently, she is semi-retired from this position but continues to provide editing services for the house. When not writing, she enjoys playing golf, going for hikes, shopping, and spending time with her family, as well as eating anything containing chocolate. 


Buy Link:

Does Chaos in United Earth Foretell a Third Dark Age?

In a post-apocalyptic era, factions compete for control of a global government gone amuck. The Network, a system of outworld communities comprised of defectors and Nomadic tribes, has become organized and desires more independence from United Earth’s dictates.

Edwin Rowlands, current governor of Western America Province and President-elect of United Earth, fears if other outworlds follow the Network’s example, the system of one government, one world, one people will collapse. His proposed Preservation Act, the Fifteenth Article of United Earth’s Constitutional Government, would criminalize non-citizenship—past, present, and future—punishable by death without benefit of trial.

As the cry for freedom crescendos, Ahmed Fared, Rowland’s Second-elect, fears a civil war that would usher in a third dark age. He calls upon the God of the Ages to once more intervene in the affairs of men.

Friday, January 6, 2023

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Nicholas Rossis, Author of Pearseus

A conspicuous lack of food

When Shelley asked me for a guest post on the subject of food in my novels, I realized to my horror that food plays practically no role in them! I mean, sure, someone consumes a certain poison at some point plus there is a sort of recipe for an antidote. But that doesn’t count, right? When it comes to food, let’s face it: I’m no Andrea Camilleri.

Which makes no sense, as I love food! Not in the sense of eating buckets of it but in the sense of loving preparing, cooking, and enjoying it. I find cooking immensely relaxing after a day staring at my monitors, so I’m usually the one who cooks during the week and the missus the one who handles weekends (unless we’re having a BBQ, then it’s all me again).

My origins story

Ironically enough, I first learned to cook because my mom, bless her, well, doesn’t. Her idea of a stew was to drop a couple of tomatoes into water, salt generously, and serve hot. So, cooking was a matter of survival for my poor taste buds. Naturally, the very first things I learned to prepare involved snacks such as pizza—the kind of food a kid can practically live on.

As a kid I was collecting recipes with the passion that others collected baseball cards, so my culinary skills grew through the years. Nowadays, I can prepare from scratch diverse dishes such as moussaka or stir fry with my eyes closed. No more need for snacks. Indeed, I may have half-jokingly been accused of being a bit of a food snob at times.

Except that the universe, with its undeniable sense of humor, gave me a daughter who’s a self-confessed snackatarian. Even as a baby, she’d take a couple of sips from her milk bottle, then ask for a bit of avocado (often mixed with Greek yogurt) before munching on a nacho. What can I say, my girl loves a buffet. And I see it as my duty to cater (pun intended) to her needs.

So, it’s back to snacks for me, from lovingly prepared popcorn with melted butter and handmade caramel to grilled cheese (aka toasties) and hot cocoa. Still, hope springs eternal, and I hope that someday my daughter, who just turned 7, will stop turning her nose at my grownup (as she calls them) dishes. Maybe she’ll learn to enjoy my pasta shells with roasted feta and cherry tomatoes, or even my chili—seasoned with my own paste made with genuine Ancho and Aleppo peppers (directly imported from Mexico no less). Until that happens, I’m happy when she cautiously dips a nacho into my freshly prepared guacamole and munches away.

As for my novels, I will make a point of including a couple of restaurant or, even better, cooking scenes in the future. After all, I love reading about food. Why not write about it?

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

You can find Nicholas here:

Twitter @Nicholas_Rossis

Facebook Page

Books on Amazon

Besides coming up with recipes or cooking up a storm in the kitchen, Nicholas loves to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies, children’s books, or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes posts for his author blog, and enjoys the antics of his dog and young daughter, both of whom claim his lap as home. His books have won numerous awards, including the prestigious IBBY Award (Greece).

In addition to his best-selling sci-fi fantasy series, Pearseus, he writes short science fiction/speculative fiction stories, many of which have appeared in various collections and anthologies.

Friday, December 9, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Rick R. Reed, Author of TOXIC

A TOXIC First Date

Food always plays a big part in my writing. From a major role in my “romance with recipes” series like Dinner at Home, Dinner at Fiorello’s, Dinner at Jack’s and Dinner at the Blue Moon Café to less obvious reading in genres like horror, psychological suspense, mystery and thriller titles, food is always present in one way or another.

Why? Because it’s one thing this author always looks for as a reader or viewer. I want to know what the characters are eating if there’s a scene where a meal is being consumed. For example, today, I was watching an old episode of the great TV series, Mad Men, and two characters met up for lunch…and I was crushed. They didn’t eat! Don Draper had two Old Fashioneds and the woman he was with had only coffee, which she didn’t touch. I was ready to yell at the screen, “but why didn’t you eat?”

I digress. Today, I want to talk about my thriller, Toxic. Now, Toxic doesn’t revolve around food, but food plays an important role. Toxic is about a man coming out of a long-term relationship, going online to look for love, and finding poison instead, in the form of a catfishing villain pretending to be someone he isn’t.

The first date between Connor, my lovelorn and bestselling mystery author, and Trey, beautiful on the outside, but rotten to the core on the inside, is typical of how I handle food in my work. Right off the bat, we see that there’s something off about Trey, but Connor, naïve, gullible, and hopeful, misses all the hallmarks of a catfisher because he’s been off the dating market for so long.

Connor’s plan is to take him to one of Seattle’s more trendy and expensive restaurants, the Asian fusion gem called Joule, but changes his mind when Trey arrives.

Trey walked in. Connor had to admit he was a little disappointed in how he’d dressed for their first date. Normally, it wouldn’t matter, but Joule was a smart place, trendy, and he wondered if they’d fit in. Trey had worn gray sweatpants, running shoes, and a University of Washington purple hoodie. Now, he did look good. The man would have looked good in a burlap bag, but still. 

Connor grinned. “You know what? How about we try someplace more casual?”

“Oh? What did you have in mind?”

“The Pacific Inn is just as close.” The restaurant was a divey joint near Lake Union at the end of Stone Way. It was small, with just a few booths and a bar. In the summer, their outdoor patio was lively, but right now, summer was a dream, a mirage.

The locale for the first date could have been a good litmus test, because it’s so intimate and unpretentious, yet there are still more signs that this is a relationship destined for trouble.

The Pacific Inn was unpretentious, coming from a time before Seattle was the gentrified, high-tech city it now was. It was the kind of place workers on fishing vessels would have ended up for beers and fish and chips. And those fish and chips were some of the best in the city. But at least there, Trey’s ensemble wouldn’t attract any undue attention.

“Never heard of it,” Trey said. “But I’ll try anything once.”

“You’ll love it.”

And things do go relatively well—at first—and the horrible events that eventually transpire could have been avoided if Connor had just made note of the red flags Trey gave off, but he didn’t, not until it was almost too late.

The Pacific Inn was a good choice, Connor thought. Maybe better than Joule, especially for a first date. The Friday night crowd was lively, but he and Trey were able to snag one of the booths just as two women stood to leave.

The table was littered with stocky cocktail glasses, rumpled napkins, and wicker food trays. He smiled at Trey as he sat across from him. “I know it’s not morning or anywhere close to brunch, but they make a wonderful Bloody Mary here.”

A young guy in jeans and black-and-red flannel came over to clear the table. He wiped it with a rag. “What can I get you boys tonight?”

Connor looked to Trey. “You want to try the Bloody?”

“If you recommend it, I gotta see what the fuss is.”

“Two bloodies, please.” He looked again to Trey. “Spicy okay?”

Trey looked at their waiter, a gorgeous blond-bearded hipster, and winked. “The spicier the better.”

Connor also ordered the Cajun shrimp and a side of Tater Tots with tartar sauce.

“Tartar?” Trey asked as the waiter walked away.

“That’s how they do ’em here.” He smiled. “So here we are. I know a little about you from your profile, but why don’t you tell me what makes you tick. Who you are.”

“Oh my god,” Trey said. “Is this a job interview?”

“No, no. Just making conversation.”

Their drinks arrived, and Connor hoped he wasn’t getting off on the wrong foot.

“Maybe we don’t need the third degree, then.”

“I’m sorry.” Heat rose to Connor’s cheeks.

Trey sipped the Bloody and smacked his lips. “That is good.” He eyed Connor. “Hey, I was just fucking with you. I always want so much to get the first-date awkwardness out of the way, to just be three months in the future where we can be comfortable with each other.”

“Oh god, that’s exactly how I feel. I don’t do much socializing in my line of work, so I’ve kind of gotten rusty as how to act in a situation like this, to be honest. Add in that I am very newly single after almost twenty years, and you have a guy who is really operating on hope and a prayer. When I met my Steve, Internet dating was just heating up.”

Trey said, “It’s okay. Let’s just relax and see where the night takes us. Steve, huh?”

“Sorry. I promised myself and my daughter I would not bring him up tonight. I definitely didn’t want to be that guy, the one who goes on a date and then won’t shut up about his ex.” Connor sighed. “But it’s hard when someone has been such a big part of your life for so long. So apologies and excuses in advance.” He smiled. “I’m sure it’ll happen again.” This was so not where he wanted to take things, so he asked Trey to tell him about his work as an attorney. “That must be exciting. Remind me what kind of law you practice again.” Connor wasn’t sure it was in Trey’s profile, but at least the ‘remind me’ was a good way to cover if it had been.

“Actually, it’s duller than dishwater. I kind of regret my choice of profession, but what can I say? It pays the old mortgage.” Trey sipped his drink.

“Well, is it too late to do something else? You’re young enough to make a change. What don’t you like about it?” Connor asked. He was surprised when Trey abruptly changed the course of the conversation, throwing it back to him.

“Ah, I don’t want to talk about my dull job. You’ll die from boredom.” He rolled his eyes. “But you? Mr. Famous Author! That must be amazing. Making a living from telling lies.” He chuckled.

Connor wished Miranda hadn’t outed him as an author so quickly, but he hadn’t thought about warning her before Trey arrived. “Never really thought of it that way, but I suppose you’re right. People tend to think I have this glamorous life—all the fame and fortune, you know? But the truth is, it’s mostly me and a blank screen with a blinking cursor waiting for me to get started.”

“You obviously get started…again and again. How many bestsellers have you written?”

Connor often got questions like this, along with where he got his ideas. He thought the question was a little out of line, like asking what his income was, so he said, “You know what? Even I’ve lost count. A couple dozen books, I guess. I don’t kid myself. People enjoy them. People also enjoy Burger King and Taco Bell.”

“And they’ve all done well?”

Connor thought, but didn’t say, that after the first couple books were out, his books had done spectacularly well.

A first date that should have been a last date is how I might characterize this initial meeting between our hero and his eventual nemesis. But if characters didn’t act human and make mistakes, especially out of hope for love, we wouldn’t have many stories to tell. When their awkward dinner comes to a close, there’s another red flag when the check arrives.

When the bill came, Connor reached slowly for his wallet. He didn’t mind paying, not at all, especially since this was a pretty cheap dinner date, but he wanted to see if Trey would at least offer. But Trey seemed oblivious to the bill lying on the table between them, his gaze suddenly transferred to the TV screen above the bar, where a Seattle Seahawks game was being replayed.

“Let me get this,” Connor said, smiling.

Trey glanced down at the check, then back at the screen. 

Just when Connor had given up on him making an offer, Trey turned his attention back to what was right in front of him. “You sure?”

“Yeah, it’s fine.” Connor gave him a tight-lipped smile.

Trey burst into laughter. “I have a confession to make. I left my wallet back at my place…totally by mistake. I was too embarrassed to say anything.” He winked. “I’ll get it next time, and I promise we’ll do better than this dump.”

A first date, like a job interview, can tell someone a lot about the person he’s interested in, but like job interviews, first date dinners leave room for misinterpretation, forgiveness, and patience. The latter two are good qualities, but not when applied to someone who is showing you who they actually are, if you’d only listen.

Conner doesn’t listen… And he ends up jeopardizing his own life and that of his beloved daughter. Whether either or both of them does make it out alive is something I won’t reveal. You’ll have to read Toxic to find out if good or evil triumphs.

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

You can find Rick here:

Twitter @RickRReed

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their rescue dogs, Kodi and Joaquin.

"Rick R. Reed's TOXIC is a smart, nuanced novel of dark and compellig relationships with sparks of wicked humor - all hallmarks of a writer at the top of his game. TOXIC is an unmitigated triumph by a master of twisted suspense." ~Gregg Olsen, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Connor Ryman thought he had it all - a successful career as a mystery novelist, a condo with stunning views of Seattle's Lake Union, a supportive and long-term partner, Steve, and a loving daughter,  Miranda, who was following in her father's creative footsteps.

It all went bad when Steve left the family suddenly. Jilted and heartbroke, Connor begins to search for love online. So long off the market, he enlists his daughter's help in crafting a dating profile.

His prayers are answered when Trey Goodall, smart and handsome, answers his ad. He's witty, urbane, a wealthy attorney, and his sex appeal is off the charts. But he's a liar, a monster under a pretty mask. Miranda sees through the red flags and senses soemthing very wrong beneath the facade.

Can she convince her father to save himself before it's too late? Or will Trey, a master manipulator with a very tainted history, play upon Connor's innocense to ensnare him in a web of deceit, intrigue, and, ultimately, murder?

Friday, December 2, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Ann Jacobus, Author of The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent

My mom died a few years back and my siblings and I took turns caring for her at home near the end, along with medical and hospice support. It was difficult of course, but to my surprise we all spent a lot of time sharing old stories and laughing heartily, often over food. I then wrote a novel about a troubled 18-year-old tending to her beloved guardian Aunt Fran who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. It’s called The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent (out March 7, 2023)

The story is fueled by good food. Aunt Fran is a wonderful cook from Dallas, Texas and she’s been teaching main character Delilah. Her specialties include: buttery Jalapeño cheese grits, buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken, pimento cheese, proper southern cornbread (not sweet), and a mean cheese straw-- those crisp, savory, flakey treats dusted with cayenne pepper—that feature in two scenes. One scene is funny and involves a Labrador Retriever. The other shows just how much ground Aunt Fran is losing.

You see, Aunt Fran’s cancer is a virulent strain, not unlike the one that took my mom too quickly. And Delilah fears that losing this woman who has meant so much to her, might cause her to lose her life too. Yes, it’s irrational, but what, you’re rational all the time?

During the course of Fran’s illness, friends bring over spinach quiche, seven-layer bean and salsa dip, and a macadamia tunnel-of-fudge Bundt cake. A later scene in the story involves Delilah, her estranged father, and a weakened Aunt Fran, all sitting down to dinner together over a crab casserole (more cheese!) delivered by a friend, and an arugula and spring-mix-from-a-bag salad with a Dijon-vinaigrette that Delilah makes. Dad contributes a crisp white French Chablis, and a German chocolate cake with coconut-pecan frosting—Fran’s childhood favorite. Despite the family’s many tensions it’s a gentle, warm reunion, and they don’t know it at the time, but it’s their last meal together.

The story’s set in San Francisco, so naturally great local food figures: North Beach coffee house Lattes, burgers and fries, Ghirardelli hot fudge sundaes, fish tacos and beef burritos, and eggplant and Brie sandwiches on whole grain. And Delilah and her father talk turkey, coming to a new understanding over fragrant, take-out green curry chicken, red rice, and shrimp-packed Tom Yum soup.

As you and I know, food is inextricably tied up with family dynamics, history, and culture, not to mention nostalgia and comfort. It’s what sustains us emotionally as well as physically, especially in times of loss. Novels are almost always about struggle and loss of some sort. How can a writer not include heaps of memorable food?

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

You can find Ann here:

Twitter @AnnJacobusSF

Facebook Fan Page

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Ann Jacobus is the author of YA novels The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent (March 7, 2023), and Romancing the Dark in the City of Light. She teaches writing at Stanford Continuing Studies, is a long-time suicide crisis line volunteer, and a mental health advocate. She gravitates to Tex-Mex and BBQ.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Dan Scanlan, Author of The Hacker

The enjoyment of great food and good company is one of life’s familiar pleasures. Including these kind of scenes in a novel can create the same relaxed enjoyment for the reader as the meals themselves. In a thriller they can be used to create the opposite feeling by stressing the absence of normal opportunities to rest and reenergize, keeping tension high. Pressure is created for the reader by keeping the characters sweaty, stressed and always on the move. In The Hacker, investigators race to find a master cybercriminal using the avatar, Dantalion. Any minute they delay is more opportunity for him to wreak damage. Their compulsion to run him down overrides all other aspects of life.

Eating becomes more of a refueling effort than dining, stopping just long enough to bolt sufficient food to keep going and return to the chase. This, combined with scant sleep for time or anything else places the reader in the head of the investigators and I hope, enables the reader to feel the tension as the characters do. But what are they eating?

Late at night in the lab:

Peering towards the door to ensure she was alone, she stopped to root through Tim’s desk and pirate a pair of granola bars from his bottom drawer. She munched on a bar without tasting it as she settled back into her chair.

Even when they do actually stop to eat, the case is always on their minds:

Tim nodded, waiting to speak as their food arrived. Their mouths watered at the smell of the thick burgers and double-fried chips. After a few huge bites, he leaned back. “I can start working on the material, but there’s an angle to all this we’re going to need to deal with before we go to a judge.

Using deprivation as a mechanism to create tension emphasizes the very few times in the book, when the lead investigator, Ericka Blackwood, slows down enough for introspection, to let herself feel what the chase is doing to her:

They faced each other over the antique table, set with cream, sugar, toast and the old woman’s own marmalade, the comforting scent of breakfast blended with the small, potted flowers near the window. The well of strength that had brought her back while she was suspended. The old woman had moved in below Ericka’s top-floor condo, helping her fill the days and quickly becoming her confidante and counsellor. Mrs. Donnelly’s eyes narrowed as she sipped, the rising sun’s glow on the horizon in the window behind her.

Part of what I hope to bring to the reader in The Hacker is a sense of just how much must be sacrificed in an active police investigation, particularly in the cyber world. I have tried to leverage my three decades as a prosecutor, working with police and seeing the effects their work has on them to bring home to the reader the unyielding stress they deal with in the middle of a big investigation. My hope is that it engages the reader in the chase, making each step they take more compelling as the story unfolds. Food is part of that narrative.

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

You can find Dan here:

Twitter @DanielMScanlan

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Thursday, November 3, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Stacey Pierson, Author of VALE


Vale is a Young Adult bayou murder mystery, unique and one of a kind, like a fresh batch of crawfish. And so is the food the characters put into their mouths, and how the food they eat is their personality.

Charles is the plain bagel in the story. He lives with Epilepsy, and with each seizure is like a sprinkling of Everything But The Bagel, which adds another layer to his ever-growing character arc. Layer by layer, bit by bit, Charles add tries new seasonings.

Simple, quick bites represent Leigh. She once was a charcuterie board before she left with different flavors and tasty snacks. Her personality was crunchy like the crackers and crispy like her snappy, sarcastic saying. Now, after her return, she’s silent and missing like the food on the tray.

Truly, I know she is a Trix bar. One of two amazing halves, but once one is gone, you either save it or inhale it, never really tasting the sweetness before it’s too late and leaving you wanting more. But what happens when you break it in half? Do you want to share it? I can tell you that you won’t, especially because of the poison-laced inside.

Max is delicate and darling. He savors each bite with a smile then the heat like jalapeno pepper wrapped in bacon hits. He always goes back for more, even though he’s getting burned, and never reaches for the water to cool off because he enjoys it.

Carmel is exactly what her nickname is. She has always loved caramel apples, but there’s a part of her that chips her razor-sharp teeth on the red glossy, and hard candy surrounding the caramel goodness she sees that no one else does. Like her thoughts, the core of the apple is rotten.

Audrey and the Leeches are the same. Sinister with a twist of flavor like beefy jerky. At first, everything seems great, and they are friendly. But once you take a bite, the peppery taste catches you off guard, and you might choke.

Jace and his football teammates like playing on the field, they are spaced out and ready for one another when it comes to Xs and O’s – like a Valentine’s Day candy you give to your arch enemy as a joke. Funny, but with dire consequences. They look yummy, but the aftertaste is sour and could make you green with envy as their selfishness engulfs you.

Peyton is one who is a mix of sweet and sour. She loves to get in the middle of things but prefers a sour apple Blow pop. She loves to break the hard candy shell down like shredding layers of people’s insecurities and sinking her teeth in the gum inside, like blowing up people’s lives with a smile.

Dark Horse is unique as can be, like black licorice. He’s not everyone’s favorite and not tasty. It’s an acquired taste that comes over time. But it leaves a coating of revenge and truthfulness that most people see as a threat when it’s justice. Horrible, sinister, dark, and deadly justice, you can’t win them all.

Each character in Vale is unlike the other. They look, act, and want to be the same. But they are far from it. One thing that will keep anyone wondering is how many maggots and rot really is inside of them as they bite into their favorite foods.

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

You can find Stacey here:

Author Site



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