Thursday, March 29, 2012

Charity Hopping Around the World GIVEAWAY

  I am thrilled to be part of this hop, organized
      by Reading Away the Days and I Am A
        Reader, Not A Writer
, which features
           over 100 (!) participating blogs!

My SOLID series grew from my wish to give reluctant readers (particularly early teens and tweens who find themselves so overwhelmed by required reading that they lose interest in reading for pleasure) fun and fast books to bring them back into the booklovers' fold.

But mine's a pretty small wish compared to those granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which brings dreams to reality for children with life-threatening conditions. So for the duration of this giveaway hop, I will be donating all profits from the sales of Solid and Settling to Make-A-Wish. This offer will actually extend through April 6th, so that those of you who do not win a copy of Solid or Settling and then choose to buy either or both books will also be contributing to my donation.

The details for my giveaway are as follows:

Winner here at BWATE? gets a Signed Copy of either:
 "Solid" (Solid Series Book #1) or "Settling" (Solid #2)

To enter to win, just follow this blog and leave a comment/question,
along with a way to contact you.

Optional Extra Entries:
+1 Follow on Twitter
+1 Like Solid Series on Facebook 
+1 Add series to your to-read list on Goodreads

Giveaway runs from March 30th to April 4th; last day to enter is Wed., April 4th.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Toastworthy Teens: Cati Grant

 Cati Grant, Cati Cares

17-year-old Cati Grant believes that When we stand together, we can change the world. The change that she most wants to see is an end to cyber-bullying, which is why she founded Cati Cares, a site for victims (as she herself once was) to get help. 

She then took that passion one giant step further by touring the U.S. in an effort to join one million teens against cyber-bullying to show bullied kids that they are not alone.

I think she nailed it. :)

To find how you can help or get help against cyber-bullying, go to:

Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Christine Frost, Author of Dark Lady of Doona

“…I’m Cecilia, wife of Angus Craig, Callum’s steward.  Angus and I worked in the household one of Queen Mary’s ladies, but with the trouble, Angus felt we would be safer elsewhere. ” The scent of oatcakes cooking filled the kitchen.  Meanwhile, she began to stir an iron pot above the fire. “Leeks in butter sauce to top them,” she said with a smile.

I’m currently working on my second novel, which is set in medieval Ireland. Dark Lady of Doona will be published later this year. Grace O’Malley was a formidable woman who led her own fleet of ships, traveled widely, and remained a well-known pirate to the end of her days during tumultuous times in Ireland. She even met with Queen Elizabeth in an attempt to secure her territory and the freedom of relatives who were held prisoner by a notorious governor who was nicknamed “The Flail of Connaught.” 

This is my second work of historical fiction. I love doing the research for these novels. I read many history books as I write, and seek to learn as much as I can about the time and place in which my stories are set. Learning about the cuisine of the time is one way for me to connect with my characters. I searched for recipes of the Elizabethan era and tried to create dishes as they would have been made back then. Occasionally, I discover a new favorite meal. Oatcakes were popular in this time, and leeks were also commonly used. In the excerpt above, Grace O’Malley is in Scotland to hire mercenaries to join her husband’s army on the west coast of Ireland. 

After writing about oatcakes and leeks, I had to try them. So I embarked on an experiment, and according to my husband, it was a big hit. “Kind of like a savory oatmeal cookie,” he commented. So here’s my spin on it, with the modern touches that worked well as I developed the recipe. 

Oatcakes topped with herbed goat cheese and leeks

Goat Cheese Spread
7 oz. goat cheese
1 tsp. Herbes de Provence
Approx. 1/2 to 1 tsp. lemon juice, to taste
Blend in food processor, keep at room temperature until serving time. 

Braised Leeks
6 leeks, thoroughly rinsed and cut into small rings
4 tbl. butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
Melt butter in deep skillet, add leeks and cook over moderate heat for five minutes, until they soften. Add broth and Herbes de Provence, and braise, stirring occasionally as it reduces, for at least five minutes, until sauce thickens and leeks are soft. 

1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease large baking sheet with butter. In large mixing bowl, mix oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add shortening and mix using hands until mixture is coarse and well-blended. Add buttermilk and stir dough. Transfer to floured surface, roll it out into quarter-inch thickness. Cut into rounds.
Bake oatcakes until golden, for about 12 minutes, turning once midway through.
Preparation: Top each oatcake with goat cheese spread and leeks. 

Thanks for sharing your food for thought, Christine!

You can find Christine at:
Facebook Fan Page

Twitter @Shahrazad1001

Monday, March 19, 2012

Toastworthy Teens: Sam Dutt

 Sam Dutt, Congressional Awardee

California teenager Bhaskar “Sam” Dutt was recently presented with the Congressional Award’s Bronze Medal, and yes, that is as impressive as it sounds; the medal is the United States Congress’ award for young Americans (aged 14 to 23) who combine their desire to help their communities with their eagerness to take on new challenges.

14-year-old Sam has logged close to 200 hours at Father Joe’s Village, Rady Children’s Hospital, Feeding America of San Diego, the YMCA, and Saikat (a non-profit organization that promotes Bangali culture in San Diego), as well as trail-building with his Boy Scout Troup. Not one to rest on his laurels, Sam has also earned his second-degree black belt, plays guitar in a local band, and is now close to achieving the next level of Congressional Awards – the Silver Medal – and plans to go for the Gold. 

You, too, can achieve these honors; see how at:

Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

FOODFIC: The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group - Catherine Jinks

So I see the title and of course I’ve gotta know: What do they serve at abused werewolf rescue group meetings? Lots of bloody meat to restore the werewolves to health after the abuse, which surely had to include starvation? Or are these more AA-type meetings, serving only veggie platters and clear fluids to clean the werewolves up, flush their systems, and get them ready to mainstream into society?

Well, I had to wait a long time to find out. To find any food at all, really. Readers first meet the 13-year-old Australian hero, Toby Vandevelde, as he’s waking up in a hospital after being inexplicably discovered naked and bruised in the dingo pen of the local wildlife preserve.  He’s short on details, remembering nothing of the night before, but I figure he’s gotta give a play-by-play reaction as he picks through the hospital food they serve him for dinner. But he just says, “the food was lousy.” Come on! No tiny, shriveled, alien-head peas? No mystery meat drowning beneath mud-blood? And  the next day’s breakfast – same thing. Or same nothing, I guess.

So Toby finally leaves the hospital, arrives home, and promptly orders his favorite dinner – Chinese takeaway. Yum! What could it be? General Tso’s Chicken? Pepper Steak? Crab Rangoon? Because that’s what I’d get, and I know a 13-year-old boy who’s been poorly fed for 2 days can burn through a takeout menu like nobody’s business. But apparently the author feels it actually is nobody’s business what he ordered, because she sure didn’t give it up.

Just when I’m starting to feel starved, abused, and ready to trade the book for a take-out menu of my own, Toby gets into a bad situation, ending up in a run-down shack in the middle of the outback where he and his cohorts have to make a meal out of “milkless coffee, corn chips, pickles, diet cola, and fifteen slices of heavily buttered toast.” Which, I have to say, doesn’t sound all that terrible, especially since we don’t have any real repasts in his past to compare it with. And I know I’ve made do with worse in my life, like the time during hurricane season when the power was out for a couple days and we’d eaten out “the box” during the last one and never restocked it. 

But this isn’t about me and my poor planning; let’s get back to Toby, in the shack, with his non-meal meal, trapped in a feral circle of criminals, wild dogs, and werewolves, including Danny, the wildest of all the beasts…who pulls out a bag of kangaroo jerky. Hello, mate; now you’ve got my attention! And then will subsequently lose it, as I have to stop reading and Google that fun new delicacy :), which turns out to be more of a tourist-buy than a local staple. Oh, and a DOG TREAT. Nicely done, Jinks. Your foodfic may’ve been small, but it was meaty. Oops, I mean mighty. :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Toastworthy Teens: Libby Morse

 Libby Morse, Firespotter

This week I’m highlighting a teen heroine that I couldn’t get ahold of to give proper credit, which means she probably deserves it even more. 

17-year-old Libby Morse was the first to notice that the smoke coming from a neighbor’s chimney looked wrong; the paramedic hopeful had learned in fire science class that “chimney smoke is more wispy and more caught by the wind and white, [but] this was more pushing out of the building and dark gray.” 

Libby’s instructor, Chris Elliot, is extremely proud of his young student for putting the classroom lesson into real-life use, noting that Libby probably “saved that house from totally burning to the ground.” 

Thanks to Libby, no people were injured in the fire (though, sadly, 3 pets were lost), and, although everything inside suffered smoke damage, the home can be saved.

Bravo, Libby Morse, wherever you are!

Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Kate Kulig, Author of Bloody Murder

While Bloody Murder is definitely on the cozy end of the mystery spectrum, I love how hard-boiled authors like Raymond Chandler could bring their setting into the story so well that the city feels like it's a character. When I started writing, I also wanted to evoke that strong sense of place. A good story, in my opinion, should appeal to all the senses, and I thought one of the best approaches to do so would be by involving food.

One reason why Bloody Murder is set in New Orleans (besides my love for the city itself) is it is a place chock full of sensory delights. You can see history in the architecture and museums, hear any kind of music from blues to zydeco, smell the Mississippi and all the delectable food, feel the slight give of a beignet as your mouth closes around it, just to get started.

And the tasting, oh the tasting. Peppery alligator (I prefer it fried), succulent soft-shell crab, crawfish in multiple ways. Let's talk about sandwiches, for a second. New York may have hoagies, Philly may have cheesesteak, but New Orleans has two famous sandwiches, the po-boy and the muffaletta. I like my po-boys with fried oysters, lettuce, tomato and hot sauce. Sometimes "dressed" means mayo as well. The muffaletta is simply a fabulous piece of work, which I'll get into in a moment.

An Amazon reviewed commented that they felt "strangely hungry," when they finished Bloody Murder. Our heroine, Zofia Smith, knows the way to anyone''s heart is through their stomach. If you were to stop into the Bloody Murder bookstore early in the morning, you would be not just tempted, but nearly assaulted with the rich, layered scents of chicory-laced Cafe du Monde coffee and Zofia's homemade muffins. On the Thursday morning the story opens, she is surrounded by sweet-tart raspberry streusel, in a fashion she didn't quite expect.

Nothing, Zofia comments at one point, comes between her and good food. Not even murder. She indulges in delicate pasta on her first date with a charming new gentleman at Pasta e Vino. For an indulgent lunch, she feasts on the aforementioned muffaletta. We are not just talking a sandwich with a few cold cuts here. We are talking spicy, fatty and tender cappicola ham, genoa salami and mortadella on a loaf of bread about the size of a frisbee. Top this with an olive salad--olives, pimentos garlic (garlic is everywhere in New Orleans), onions, celery, red wine vinegar, and you're back in the 1800's taking a lunch break with Italian construction workers.

Even being grazed by a bullet does not stop Zofia from enjoying a couple of foods that make southern life worth living. Good coffee, which goes just wonderfully with homemade pecan pie at Pere Antoine on St. Ann, where Zo and her friends meet several times, also working their way through a delightfully Cajun and Creole menu from crawfish cakes to garlic-laden confetti pasta with a hefty hand on the cayenne pepper.

Take a quick vacation with New Orleans and a murder! 

Bloody Murder is available in the following formats:
Kindle          Nook          Kobo          Google Book 

Thanks again for sharing your food
for thought, Kate!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Toastworthy Teens: James O'Dwyer

James O'Dwyer, Magnolia Disaster Relief

When a 6-mile area of Tuscaloosa was destroyed by a 2011 tornado, the University of Alabama was spared, but the campus was closed. Instead of simply heading home, 19-year-old student James O’Dwyer began collecting donations for those affected by the storm. He was so immediately and enormously successful that he was able to help not only Tuscaloosa residents, but people from many smaller nearby towns as well, which is how his project evolved into Magnolia Disaster Relief, a program to aid our neighbors who have been affected by disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, etc.). We especially focus on areas that have been overlooked by national media and national organizations such as the Red Cross or United Way.

And an end to the emergency didn’t slow him down; James’s group has now also expanded into making "hit kits" (packed with essentials like water, food, toiletries, tarps, etc. for a small community affected by a disaster), which will be stored throughout the Southeast and be delivered to communities directly after a disaster strikes. 

Find out more about the program here:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

FOODFIC: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

One stupid Thursday (his words, not mine) Arthur Dent wakes up hungover. Worse still, I’m denied knowledge of precisely what he over-drank the night before because he doesn’t really remember drinking at all. *sigh*

Luckily, it’s not long (just after an unnamed breakfast and a short stint lying in front of a bulldozer to stop it from flattening his house) before Arthur makes plans to go back to the pub with his friend Ford Prefect.  Of course, Arthur has no idea that Ford isn’t human (nor is the crew that’s there to build the galactic bypass) or that he only arrived on Earth (from Betelgeuse) 15 years ago. Ford clearly knows how to blend.
Ford’s also a master of mind games. He’s so good, in fact, that he convinces the demolition foreman to lie down in front of his own dozer so that Arthur can go to the pub. And, like any natural-born Englishman, Ford’s even better at drinking games. Check this out:

Between them would be placed a bottle of Janx Spirit…Each of the two contestants would then concentrate their will on the bottle and attempt to tip it and pour spirit into the glass of his opponent, who would then have to drink it. The bottle would then be refilled. The game would be played again. And again. Once you started to lose you would probably keep losing, because one of the effects of Janx Spirit is to depress telepsychic power. As soon as a predetermined quantity had been consumed, the final loser would have to perform a forfeit, which was usually obscenely biological. Ford Prefect usually played to lose. 

Before we can even speculate as to whether or not Ford had experience with alcohol as we know it in his previous Betelgeusean life (which came first: the drinking or the game?), Chapter 2 jumps right to what the “Encyclopedia Galactica” has to say about alcohol (essentially: it’s volatile). Then there’s a much larger alcohol section in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – the book within the book – which could be why it “sells rather better than” the encyclopedia. :)
We’re also told that HGTTG, interestingly enough, has a lot to say about towels, including their psychological value. Well, whaddya know? Seems we’ve established quite the pattern: drinking-mind-drinking-mind. That’s fun and all, but, at this point, I still don’t care much about Arthur, or even if he’s going to survive the demolition. It’s only because of the little ebook (oh, yeah; did I mention the HGTTG in the story is what can only be imagined as the grandfather of the iPod Touch?), that I need Arthur to hurry up and polish off his 3 pints of bitter, leave the bar – and the planet – and find a quiet spot to read that manual! 

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how the story plays out, but there are more excerpts from the little book whose cover shouts: “Don’t Panic!” There’s also more alcohol (including a galactic cocktail party!) and finally FOOD – perhaps enough to require a second blog post…:)