Thursday, January 30, 2014

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Stephanie Greenhalgh, Author of The Twistedly True Tale of Ruby Hood

They’ve Got to Eat!

I’m a little embarrassed to admit, that until recently, I’ve never intentionally sat down and added food to my stories. Don’t get me wrong, my characters are always well fed. I shove food in my face constantly, so it’s completely logical that my characters do, too. However, meals have never been purposefully planned in my stories. It’s always been more like a natural progression; after all, they’ve got to eat!

Then I was asked ‘But What Are They Eating?’ and I had to give some serious thought to the food in my first published novel, The Twistedly True Tale of Ruby Hood. I laughed out loud, once I realized I usually feed them my FAVORITE foods. My characters always seem to have a drink or a snack in their hands, especially COFFEE in the mornings, and when guests stop by; there is always some sort of refreshment served. Ruby and her friend, Lilly, warm their hands at the Homecoming Game with steaming hot chocolate. Ruby also shares tea with her Grams before the big dance. Creamy peanut butter and chocolate cookies are served as a THANK YOU to the two men who remove the mutilated wolf from the center of the Wood. Ruby even has cookies and cake on hand when some new people find themselves in Woodsville. Near the end, a pot of chili is prepared and everyone is fed before the big battle. After all, they’ve got to eat!

In Ruby Hood, there is one particular food scene I wanted to share. Ruby has just awoken from a quest. She knows she must leave town in a hurry to follow a lead to save her Wood from the vicious Gnarly Trees. She intends to pick up and leave without making a fuss, but two men, who care for deeply for her, have other ideas. And one thing is certain; there is NO way they are going to let her go on an empty stomach. After all, she’s got to eat!

Excerpt from The Twistedly True Tale of Ruby Hood 

She stopped short at the end of the hall. As she entered the room, they both were eagerly awaiting her arrival. Kent sat at the table with several books in front of him. He had obviously been doing his research. He ran his hand through his dark hair, which now hung in his eyes. He rubbed his eyes, scratched the scruff on his face and smiled wearily at her.

“Have a seat, Rue,” Kent said, moving the papers and books out of her way. Her mouth twisted into a half smile as she eased herself into one of the wooden chairs at the large, square table.

“Thanks. I appreciate all this, guys, but I gotta go,” she said. She looked up and caught Dylan’s dancing eyes staring at her. Ruby chuckled at his silly lopsided grin and his goofy head band and Grams’ pink apron wrapped around his waist.

He held a pot of steaming soup in front of him.

“We figured, but you gotta eat. Now sit,” Dylan ordered, leaning over to kiss the top of her head. “I made your favorite… chicken tortilla soup.” Knowing it was pointless to argue, Ruby sat. Plus, she started salivating as her stomach growled.

“How are you feeling, Rue?” Kent asked. Dylan scooped several ladles of soup into a bowl in front of Ruby and sat down next to her.

“I’m fine,” she replied, looking from man to man before she finished. “The quest is sending me to the mental facility… a quick trip there and back …” Her voice trailed off; she knew this wouldn’t go over well.

Just Remember

The kitchen is a wonderful setting for characters to hash out problems, touch base, catch-up, make a plan, or say thank you (among other things). Regardless of where you do it, don’t forget to feed your characters! After all, they’ve got to eat!

Thanks so much for stopping by! ~Stephanie Greenhalgh

Thanks for sharing your food for thought, Stephanie!

Even though she currently lives in Las Vegas, Stephanie Greenhalgh is a Midwestern girl through and through. As an avid reader and learner, literature and school are more of a passion than a hobby This two-time UNLV graduat has four published stories: Betula's Angst, Duality, Angel 101, and The Twistedly True Nightmare of Ruby Hood, all featured in anthologies. Her first novel, The Twistedly True Tale of Ruby Hood, was released in October 2013. Her first self-publication, If the Silver Slippers Fit..., debuted January 2014.

Stephanie Greenhalgh would love to hear from you!

Interested in her books? Check them out here:

Friday, January 24, 2014

FOODFIC: The Danger Box - Blue Balliett

A boy in a small town who has a different way of seeing.
A curious girl who doesn’t belong.
A mysterious notebook.
A missing father.
A fire.
A stranger.
A death.

That’s what the book jacket says this story is about.

I think it’s actually a love letter to grandmothers, especially those as magical as Zoomy’s. Here, let me introduce you:

She knows how to say and do things that land in the right spot, like they belong. She makes the world seem like a safe and happy place, a place where many things are possible and there’s always a hug waiting. A hug plus a hodilly-hum. And some homemade blueberry jam, the kind with whole berries in it.
Don’t you wish you knew her? Don’t you kind of feel like you already do?

You see, Zoomy has plenty of daily obstacles to overcome, like being smaller than the other kids, having directionally challenged hair, and needing such thick glasses for his Pathological Myopia that he gets his fair share of teasing. Not that fair and teasing really belong in the same sentence, but that’s not the point I want to make here, which is that, despite his issues, is a mostly happy and secure kid.

And that’s all because of his grandparents, who discovered him in a cat carrier on their front stoop one day and have loved him unconditionally ever since. Loved him perhaps even more than his father, their no-good son Buckeye, who pops back into their lives after years of absence. Buckeye’s also the one who brings the danger box into the Chamberlain’s lives, but, again, that’s less important than how Zoomy and his grandparents navigate the ensuing turmoil.

Because the message here – the real lesson I think we should all take away from the story – is that if a child feels safe, is truly and unconditionally loved, then he can handle any box that’s thrown in his path. :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

FOODFIC: The School for Good and Evil - Soman Chainani

When its jacket compares a book to Harry Potter, it’s almost a guarantee that the story within won’t measure up. In fact, I’ve only read one novel that I’d put in the HP category, and that’s Skin Hunger.
Until now.

As with HP and SH, the glory of this book lies in the details: the good vs. evil students split between a crystal palace and a dungeony tower, separated by a lake that is itself divided down the center – clear water meeting swamp sludge.

And surely the “Evers” and the “Nevers” themselves must also be readily divisible, right?

Of course not; like in real life, people are never so easily categorized! (And if Chainani’s characters were, this would be a terribly boring book.)

Sophie, the obvious princess, and Agatha, the clear witch, arrive on campus together, only to be assigned to the opposite (and wrong?) schools. Sophie is dismayed by the dorm and its smell of unwashed bodies, mildewed stone, and stinking wolf. She’s repulsed by her new roommates: a tall girl with greasy hair and a terrifying tattoo of a buck-horned, red-skulled demon around her neck, an albino with red eyes feeding stew from a cauldron to three black rats, and a smiley but wicked girl who’s dismayed that it’s against the rules to kill other students.

Even the meals are so distasteful that she doesn’t cave in to the soggy gruel and pigs’ feet until the 3rd day!
Interestingly, Agatha is equally displeased by the offerings of the good school where she’s been assigned, but she focuses all of her energy on getting out of the whole situation and returning home to Gavaldon with her friend.

Seems like unhappy Agatha should have no trouble grabbing miserable Sophie on her way out the gate and returning to their good-enough-ever-after village. Problem is, Sophie doesn’t want to leave – she wants to switch.

And by the time Sophie does finally concede that leaving might be the best choice, Agatha suddenly decides she wants to stay! Oh, don’t yell at me for the spoiler, folks – those twists don’t even get you halfway through the text and there are many more to follow.

Because who’s “good” and who’s “evil” flip-flops as many times as there are chapters. That’s right; just like in real life, the “good” characters don’t always make the right choices, and the “bad” guys aren’t necessarily evil to the core. The beauty of this is that a reader can see herself as a princess on one page and a witch on the next. To be able to put oneself into the position of every character not only makes for a great read; it might help you read other people better when you finally do return to reality. ;)

Friday, January 10, 2014

FOODFIC: Feathered - Laura Kasischke

I feel I should open with an apology for the tone-swing I’m about to take. You see, I’m going to start by being so fluffy that, if you haven’t read this book, you might not even be able to follow my meaning. Then there’s going to be a harsh lecture. Oh, and I’m not really going to offer any sort of plot synopsis, either, so you may want to click on the cover photo above to read the publisher’s description on Goodreads.

If you’re still with me after that stellar disclosure, read on. ;)

First, the vaguery! (I do hate it, but believe it’s a lesser evil than a spoiler, so I’ve gotta do it.) Now, I’m not saying I’m right in doing so, but I treated the “surreal” aspect of the book (particularly Michelle’s return/recovery) as a metaphorical processing of [unnamed traumatic event] rather than a literal out-of-body (and space and time) experience. Like I said, that could be an entirely wrong interpretation of the story, but it’s mine – most likely because it’s bent toward the solidly real, as is my way of thinking. If I pegged the author’s motive correctly, yay! If I’m totally off, whoops. Either way, that’s as far as I’m going to take you as far as interpretation on this one; you’re on your own!

On to the part there can be no misinterpreting (yup, here comes the lecture segment of the program): the spring break scene in Mexico. As you’d expect, the girls’ plane hits the tarmac and they hit the hotel bar, where the specialty is Sky Juice. And it’s just what you’re imagining: sweet. Without ice, it tasted, at room temperature, the way the ocean might have tasted without salt. It didn’t taste like wine, or beer, or whiskey…none of which [Michelle] particularly liked. This was perfect. 

Of course it was. It and its sugary tropical friends always are. There’re a million such drinks created for the sole purpose of getting girls drunk and therefore leaving them susceptible to bad decisions – theirs and everyone else’s. Because if alcohol was only served in its pure form, very few people would partake at all, let alone rapidly or in large quantities! 

No, I’m not 100 years old, and by lecture I didn’t mean beat you with my cane; I’ve been there like every other girl. My first fraternity party opened with mystery punch, closed with barf, and left me with little to no recollection of the evening. The only difference is that my drink was red. And that I got really lucky in having 2 kindly partygoers return me to the dorm when I had no chance of making it on my own. Some of the girls in this book are equally lucky, some not so much – sadly, very true to life. I just wish kids’ rites of passage didn’t have to have “odds.”

Thursday, January 2, 2014

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jesse Kimmel-Freeman, Author of the Bella Vampires Series

Hey everyone! Food is such an essential thing when writing. I mean our characters have to live off of something, right? There are certain things in each of my stories that if you know me, then you know why they’re there- like Barqs Root Beer and Galaxy milk chocolate bars!

But one of those things that’s really important to me is finding a way to connect my characters to each other. In the scene below, Emma and Dominic (two of the main characters from the Bella Vampires Series) are finally connecting to each other. This meal that Dominic makes for Emma is so vital because there was such a HUGE disconnect between the characters in the beginning- he was a total jerk!

“So, what are we making?” I asked as I looked over the ingredients- artichokes, eggs, a lemon, some parsley, olive oil, dry white wine, and salt and pepper.

“We are not cooking. I am cooking for you. I am going to make you artichoke frittata. It is delicious. It is like an omelette but different. You will enjoy it.” He sounded absolutely sure of himself.

I sat and watched as he prepared the artichokes and placed them aside in water and lemon juice. Then as he beat the eggs and shook random amounts of salt and pepper into them. He sautéed the artichokes in the oil and wine. Then he threw in some more spices and then the eggs. It took only a few minutes but it was amazing to watch. I had never had someone close to me cook. Watching him cook was fun and exciting.

He cut it in half when he was sure it was done and had cooled then he served it to me. It looked a little on the scary side but I wouldn't let that stop me. I took a fork full and chewed. It tasted great. It was thicker than a regular omelette, but it seemed that this feature helped the flavor of the artichokes come through. We ate in silence. I helped to clean up afterwards through his insistent complaints.

“You cooked, I'll clean,” was all I said.

We said good night and I went to bed. I thought to look for another email from Mike but I didn't want anything to ruin the peaceful atmosphere that still clung to me from the kitchen.
I enjoy being around him sometimes. He brings a peace to me. I closed my eyes.”

The recipe itself wasn’t what was so important (although it’s quite tasty), but the connection that is finally beginning between these two! Emma was getting to see a completely different side than what she had experienced back in her hometown. This is the true beginning of them.

The recipe is actually written into the story- in theory someone could just follow how Dom does it and it should turn out a delicious meal. But that’s just the theory, I’ve never followed what I ended up writing into the story directly! ;) So it would be taking a risk. LOL. Below you’ll find one of the many artichoke frittata recipes out there.

Artichoke Frittata (one of the MANY versions out there!)

● 4 artichokes

● 1/2 lemons

● 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

● 2 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)

● 150 ml dry white wine

● 1 bunch flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)

● 6 eggs

● 3 tbsps milk

● 2 tbsps butter (for greasing)

● black pepper

1. To prepare the artichokes, remove the tough inedible outer leaves, and cut off the tough tips of the remaining outer leaves. Slice about 2cm from the top of the cone, and cut off the stalk where it joins the base of the leaves. Rub the cut surfaces with the lemon to prevent blackening. Quarter each artichoke lengthways and cut away the prickly central 'choke'. Cut the quarters lengthways into thin wedges. Squeeze lemon juice over them.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.

3. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the artichoke wedges and gently fry over low heat until brown on both sides.

4. Add the garlic, white wine and half the parsley. Cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes until the artichokes are very tender and the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste.

5. Thoroughly whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the milk and whisk again.

6. Add the cooked artichokes to the eggs. Season to taste and mix again.

7. Pour the mixture into a thoroughly buttered baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until the eggs are set.

8. Serve warm or cold but not hot.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out what the characters from the Bella Vampires Series are eating and why it matters! :)

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

Jesse Kimmel-Freeman was born and raised in the sun-kissed world of Southern California. Jesse has written six novels, four short stories, four illustrated children's books, been part of several anthologies and is actively working on the next pieces to her series. When she isn't hard at work writing, she enjoys spending time with her wonderful children, loving husband, and furry family. They have many adventures and several misadventures, but it all makes for a good story in the end.

She loves hearing from her readers!
You can email her at:

Or connect with her here:

Twitter @jkimmelf

Facebook Fan Page

GoodReads Author Page

Pinterest @jkimmelf