Thursday, May 29, 2014

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Rasha Selim, Author of Stolen Gifts

Food.  Such a small word, but holds a lot of meaning.  When I wrote Stolen Gifts, I didn’t start off with food in mind.  It is a paranormal mystery and romance after all.  However, as I plotted, food started to play a role in some scenes giving me a path for character development.

Food played a role in building the characters in the novel.  Writing in a first person POV presents several challenges for an author.  Readers are only in touch with the lead characters thoughts and actions.  They see other characters through the leads eyes, leaving a lot to interpretation.  The trick for the writer is to convey the true characteristics of secondaries through their actions.

Vanessa is the main character, but what novel is complete without a lead male?  In this case it’s Caine.  Since Stolen Gifts is in Van’s POV, I had to find ways to show readers Caine’s personality.  Van’s insecurities show through in how she views Caine, therefore distorting him somewhat.

I used food and touch to let Caine shine through.  For example:

  I must have made a sound as Caine turned around.  “Do you need any help?” I asked looking away quickly. 
“Nah, I got it under control, and it isn’t much anyway.  Have a seat and make up your tea.  The half and half and sugar are over there,” he said as he pointed to the counter.  Now I knew he remembered, I drink my tea with half and half, not milk.  It was a habit I picked up when I was eleven, visiting the UK with my family. 
“It smells good. You made bacon, my favorite.” 
                 He piled on three pancakes and several slices of bacon on a warmed plate from the oven and placed it in front of me.  He then moved the syrup and butter closer to me, then returned to the stove and made a plate for Garrett and placed it in the oven.

Van doesn’t see Caine for what he’s doing.  Even after an eight-year separation, he still remembered her preferences.  I wanted to show Caine’s provider nature.  I also wanted to show his attentiveness to her.  Van doesn’t see any of his actions as true to whom he is, but determines his actions as that of a caring brother.

Food can also play a sensual role in scenes.  Who hasn’t used food to win someone’s affections in some way?  The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, is a commonly-said phrase.  But what if the reverse was also true?  What if a man used it to gain…for lack of better word…entry?

Van misses Caine’s small hints, even though he is continuously dropping them.  In this scene things heat up between the two of them:

  The boy’s dinners were aroma infused and looked so good that I couldn’t resist taking some bites from Garrett’s Basil Chicken stir-fry.  Enjoying a stolen bite I closed my eyes and was lost in flavor.  I detected a new scent and opened my eyes to see a fork filled with Lime Green Chicken Curry. 
  Caine held up the fork.  “Do you want to try some of mine?”
               “Sure.” I wrapped my mouth around the offered bite, while he watched me, his eyes never leaving mine.
                 “Is it not too hot for you, Van?” Garrett asked.
              The moment was broken.  I looked to Garrett and mouthed a silent thank you. Caine was intoxicating, and if he continued this way I doubted I could restrain myself.  All I wanted to do at that moment was jump across the table into his lap and kiss him.  Garrett’s presence would not have been a deterrent.  But we have work to do and Caine was not interested.  

It’s too bad she didn’t see it for what it was.  Caine definitely communicates his desires and demonstrates his personality through these small moments. 
Food is part of our everyday lives, but with a twist is also part of relationships.  Dinner with a man or woman can be the lead to a great or horrible relationship.  We spend time talking over our plates, getting to know each other.  Lunch with the girls can be a soul building experience.  And food shared on one fork can be an invitation for so much more.

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

You can find her at:

Blog Tour for STOLEN GIFTS by Rasha Selim
May 26th – 30th, 2014
Sponsored by Gliterary Girl Book Tours

Back cover blurb:  

Whoever said you can’t go home again was right. My name is Van, and my life isn't exactly going the way I'd expected. I moved far from home, away from everyone I know and love to avoid having to reveal my Gift...a Gift so strong it scares me. A Gift so strong I know people would try to use me for their own gain, regardless of how much it may hurt me. A dear friend from my youth is getting married back home, and while I'm thrilled for her, I know what waits for me there--disappointment from my parents, and concern from my brother and friend. But worst of all, I have to face Caine, a man I have loved for as long as I can remember, who just doesn’t feel the same way about me. Somehow, Caine and I find ourselves in the middle of investigating the mysterious disappearances of other Gifted people. When the two of us are abducted, I have to decide if I am willing to use my Gift to save us, even though doing so will reveal my abilities to Caine. Little did I know that using my Gift is exactly what the villain is waiting for…putting both our lives are in jeopardy. 


Having a Gift is hard. Keeping the ability to read and manipulate minds a secret from family and friends is torture.

Vanessa (Van) Lyons is terrified of her very powerful Gift of Mind, and has been hiding it from her family since she was a child. Her Gift troubled her so much that she moved away from everything and everyone she knew to avoid the possibility of the truth being discovered. She's stayed away for a long time, making excuses for staying put in her charming little cottage in a small town far enough away to be a comfortable buffer. But an invitation to the wedding of her childhood best friend Kelley brings her back home...and forces her to confront all of her fears and emotions. It also forces her to be face-to-face with the man she has loved since they were young.

Caine Moore is a handsome journalist with a playboy reputation. Seen frequently about town or in the tabloid pages with a different beautiful woman on his arm, he has become a completely different man from the boy Van grew up with. Tension builds between them as he sends Van mixed messages throughout the pre-wedding festivities, confusing her and making her yearn for things she's spent a long time convincing herself she could never have.

Caine has been working on a story, and has seen things he shouldn't see. In his desire to protect Van, he inadvertently pulls her into an intriguing but deadly case that puts her right into the killer's path...   

Excerpt for Paranormal Fans

My Gift is a part of me. It lays dormant, wanting to be used and I have deprived myself for so many years. On the rare occasions when my control slips, and I use it, I feel whole. Denying it for so long was splitting my soul into two. I realized that I would have to learn a new kind of control. Instead of complete dismissal, I would have to use it on occasion to keep my mind and soul intact.

As the guard approached the door of our prison, I placed a Suggestion in his mind that he would believe what I told him. I wasn’t changing the way he behaved, just what he was going to perceive at that moment. He opened the door and stood in the archway.

Buy Links for STOLEN GIFTS 

Bio for Rasha Selim

Author Rasha Selim was born in Cairo, Egypt and was raised in both Cairo and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She moved to the U.S. to attend college and pursue a career as a Forensic Psychologist. She left criminology behind to become the mother of three wonderfully active boys. Rasha has spent her life engaged with books and as stories of her own began to develop she knew that she had to get them down in print. She is extremely excited to be sharing her stories with the world. Rasha lives in upstate New York where she is blessed to be surrounded by her loving and supportive husband, children, great friends and incredible books.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jennifer Bogart, Author of Liminal Lights

What do the characters in my book eat? Well, the humans are typical teenagers, so we get to see them enjoying a number of things: smoothies, fruit, sandwiches… nothing terribly exciting.

But the Liminals? Well, now that’s a story all in itself. According to Liminal Lore, when they were first created, they didn’t eat anything. They just flitted around from place to place, using up their energy without a care in the world. Unfortunately, that didn’t go well for them. It didn’t take long for their wings to slow, their spirits to sink, and their little tummies to start rumbling.

Except – it wasn’t their tummies that were rumbling, it was something deeper than that. You see, Liminals are made entirely of energy. Their little faerie-like bodies are composed of sunshine, children’s laughter, adult tears, and most importantly – creativity.

My son tells me they are evil little creatures who suck out your soul and regurgitate it. That’s not altogether true. They have an important, symbiotic relationship with humans.

Since they don’t have any magic of their own, and they need it to survive, they cultivate the creativity inherent in kids, harvest it, and manipulate it into something usable – something called talent or skill or intelligence. 
When they’re finished, like any craft project, there are scraps left over. The Liminals simply help themselves to what humans don’t need. It’s a small price to pay for things like technology, medical cures, music, and art.

Of course, there’s always something that is a little bit greedy waiting in the wings. Something that doesn’t want to wait for energy to mature, and takes more than it needs… This is the thing that hides under the bed and goes bump in the night… These shadows consume more than they give, and the Liminals do their best to protect humans from their greed. But sometimes the Shadows eat more than their fill.

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

J.M. Bogart believes there’s a spark of magic in every person, regardless of age or background. Her upper Middle Grade novels are written with bright and imaginative youth in mind. She hopes to provide fun and appropriate content combined with challenging language and concepts for readers drifting in those precocious middle years.

You can find her here:

Facebook Fan Page          Google+

                                                Twitter @JenniferBogart               Blog

And Liminal Lights, published by Morning Rain Publishing, 
is available as an ebook at these online retailers:

Amazon               Kobo               Google Books 

Friday, May 16, 2014

FOODFIC: Shards & Ashes - Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, and More!

Asking me as a writer to choose one short story from an anthology to blog about it almost as difficult as asking me as a parent to name my favorite child! So let me begin by saying that since this collection brings together the work of pretty much every big writer in YA today, every piece is terrific.

That being said, I chose to focus on Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr, not so much for the obvious reasons (her name headlining the cover plus the “eat” right there in the title), but because I haven’t yet read her Wicked Lovely series.*

Now, since the stories from authors whose books I’ve read previously – Margaret Stohl, Veronica Roth, Kelley Armstrong  – were written in their recognizable styles, I do feel like I have a good idea now of how Marr writes as well. And it’s gruesome. Or might I say gruesomely good. Because the detail is so fine that it will both put you right into the middle of the scene, as well as reclaim your senses hours later.

Here, let me show you:
In Eaters, there’s a vat for storing bodies that “[looks] remarkably like a cross between an aquarium and one of the coffee dispensers at every church dinner [Harmony] remembered.” Can you see it? Horrific, right? But that’s not what I found to be the most disturb/gusting thing in the story.

No, I awarded that honor when I read how Harmony and Chris came to be partners in the war against the Nidos (devotees of the new god on Earth, Nidhogg), and I got a glimpse into Chris’s back-story:
The fourth [bottle] had a good inch of liquid – hopefully gin – in it. Unfortunately, it also had a cigarette butt floating in it. He paused, shrugged, and lifted the bottle to his lips.

Blech! That moment is so clear on so many sensory levels – sight, touch, taste – that there is no doubt that this character was devastated by the loss of his first partner. Yup, if we were playing Meta-Me and the prompt was “rock bottom,” Marr would absolutely be the uncontested winner.

Of course, there are many other facets to the story – action, love, family dysfunction, dystopia – told with equal detail, but none resonated more strongly with me than that foul taste. I mean, even the dead corpses floating in giant serving vessels I could get past – maybe because they were unreal to get to me. But I can too easily feel exactly what an old soggy Marlboro stub sloshing around in a mouthful of gin would feel like. And I. Just. Can’t. Sooo awful…ly well-written. ;)

*I read awhile back that Wicked Lovely had been optioned for film and, whenever that happens, I try to hold off on the book until close to the movie premiere to best compare them. However, in this case, I’m still not seeing production schedule or predicted release date, so I may have to just start reading. ;)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Chantal Boudreau, Author of Magic University

Flavouring Fantasy
by Chantal Boudreau

               Food isn’t necessarily the first thing that you think of when you think of fantasy... or the second thing... or the third or fourth thing.  In fact, superseded by monsters and magic, warriors and weapons, it may be ignored altogether in the typical fantasy novel. 

Understandably, food isn’t likely to play an integral role in the usual fantasy plot, which is why there is little focus placed on what and how things are eaten in many fantasy stories.  But considering world-building is the cornerstone of fantasy fiction, and food is often a factor of ceremony, culture and social interactions, it makes sense that the concept of who tends to eat what and when be addressed as part of the backdrop of the tale.  Fantasy writers often describe religions, political systems, architecture and flora and fauna.  Food is just another way of flavouring the fiction.

This can be an especially useful tool if the fantasy in question is based on existing myths or cultures, as a means of highlighting this connection.  For example, if the fantasy touches on the Middle East, one might expect to see figs, goat cheese and falafel, or if it is a northern tale, the writer might have characters feasting on seal or caribou meat (or the fantasy equivalent.)  In my novel Magic University, which finds its basis in medieval Europe as is common to many fantasy novels, the typical fare is ale, bread, smoked meats and cheese, and fruits or vegetables one could expect to see growing in the average European garden.

Researching this component of a story is not that difficult in today’s day and age.  You can even find books that specifically discuss what might be eaten in a fantasy setting, such as What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank by Krista D. Ball.  There are also cookbooks available that are based on existing fantasy series, such as Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home (Otik’s spicy fried potatoes is a favourite of mine) based on the Dragonlance series or Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook based on the Discworld series, just to give you a few ideas.

It also makes sense to include examples of food and drink as part of both plot and character development, giving the writer another means to an end.  For example, in the opening scene of Magic University (the first book in my Masters and Renegades fantasy series), there is a small skirmish between Reid Blake’s imp, Stiggle and the dwarven competitor, Shetland, which is instigated by food.  The function of the scene is two-fold.  It creates a tension between Stiggle and Shetland that persists throughout the novel, allowing for later scenes of discord that exist mostly for comic relief.  It also introduces Shetland’s obsession with food and drink, part of his character development which shows itself again several times in the story.

Food can be used to distinguish one setting from another, as well.  A grubby pub for commoners will have very different items on the menu than an upscale tavern intended for higher-class patrons.  Along with a description of decor and existing customers, a description of the food and drink being offered and served can help set the tone of the establishment.  In Magic University, each competition Way Station is being hosted by a different wizard, who provides refreshments that match their personality.  The variety of food and drink found at each Way Station not only tells readers something about the Way Station attendant, but also adds to the particular ambiance of the Way Station.

Along with general plot and character development, food can also provide an opportunity to flush out the more unusual plot elements and distinct characters.  A fantasy novel may contain characters with very particular feeding needs, something that adds to the novelty and fantastical nature of that character.  One of my characters in Magic University, Ebon, is a person who exists trapped between two dimensions due to an accident that occurred when he was apprenticed to a Renegade wizard.  Rather than feeding the way most people do, he draws his sustenance from magical energies, draining power from magical spells or items in the process.  As he puts it: “I still appreciate a good meal, on a purely aesthetical level.  It is just something that is unnecessary.  I draw my energy from other sources.”  I even include one scene where his feeding needs interfere with his goals.
              As you can see, there are many reasons a fantasy writer would want to incorporate food into a story.  If you’ve never really contemplated the role food can and does play in well-written fantasy, you may want to give it a go.  Consider it food for thought.

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

Chantal Boudreau is an accountant/author/illustrator who lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband and two children. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she writes and illustrates horror, dark fantasy and fantasy and has had several of her stories published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines.  Fervor, her debut dystopian novel, was released in March of 2011 by May December Publications, followed by Elevation, Transcendence, and Providence.  Magic University, the first in her fantasy series, Masters & Renegades, made its appearance in September 2011 followed by  Casualties of War and Prisoners of Fate.

You can find Chantal and her books here:

Word Blurb Blog                  Scribd

Twitter @chantellyb13           Amazon

   Facebook Fan Page           Goodreads