Thursday, August 30, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jolene Stockman, Author of The Jelly Bean Crisis

The author is generously giving away FIVE ecopies of this novel for Kindles!
Enter to win the random drawing by commenting on this post below.

How do you eat your jelly beans? Randomly? The best ones first? Or last?

Poppy has a system. She arranges her jelly beans by color and flavor, then eats them in order: saving the best for last. It’s how she eats her jelly beans, and it’s how she lives her life. Until now.

My contemporary YA fiction, The Jelly Bean Crisis, follows a straight-A student who pulls out of school for 30 days to try and find her true passion.

Whether you’re sixteen or sixty, the world is full of possibilities. I love the idea of taking a time-out to redefine what happiness is for you. And then going for it!


I’d used jelly beans to make decisions since my tenth birthday. My uncle in New York sent me a huge bag full of them, and a matching birthday card. The colors bounced off each other; reds, greens, whites, oranges. Before eating a single one, I spread them all out on the kitchen table, arranging them into candy pictures. Jelly bean mosaics of flowers, birds, and spirals. Then a rainbow, thick with each color: red, orange, yellow, green… and once the flavors were separated I could breathe them in, one at a time. Vanilla, raspberry, lime. So beautiful that I couldn’t suck in my breath long enough.

Finally, I began tasting them all. Learning the flavors, choosing my favorites. The best jelly beans were red, definitely red. The orange ones were so-so, like blues and whites – good for chewing on, but not as delicious as cherry red. The greens were the yucky ones, so I quickly siphoned them off into their own pile. That way, when Mom instructed me to share with my little brother, I would angelically allocate Tyler a handful of greens. He would grin, and gobble them greedily. I loved that he was unknowingly eating my scraps.

After I ate all the red jelly beans, the purple grape ones were the next best. Then pink, then orange, blue and white. After that, black, then yellow and green. It was like my own personalized rainbow. As the days went on, and I worked my way through the bag, it became more depressing. With all my favorite jelly beans gone, there were just yellow and green left. They sat in the bottom of the bag, on a shelf in my room, taunting me. I wished I’d left a red one for the end, or even a pink. Something to take the edge off.

Dad found me moping and was quick to cut in, “Stop that pouting, Poppy. You should’ve left some red ones for the end. You’ll just have to remember to do that next time.”

And that’s when I decided on the Jelly Bean Theory: Jelly beans have reputations. The pink ones are better than the green ones, the purple ones are better than the yellow ones, and the red ones taste the best. So, save the red ones for last. If you eat the best ones first, there’s nothing but green and yellow in your future. You should build on the flavors, knowing that they’re only going to get better and better.

I wondered if the theory would work on other things, so I tested it out that night. Mom made her cheesy chicken parmigiana, with golden potatoes, and baby peas. Normally, I would jump right into the chicken first, cutting up a perfect triangle of moist meat, and smothering it with bright red sauce. Then, after I’d finished the chicken, I would push the peas around, forcing them down one by one. Finally I’d give up and bury them underneath the potatoes. So, that night, I ate my meal Jelly Bean Theory style: baby peas first (green jelly beans), followed by potatoes (oranges, blues, and whites), finishing with cheesy chicken deliciousness (red jelly beans!). Eating my food this way made the whole experience different. Suddenly, the peas weren’t so bad. Because I knew that eating them brought me closer to the chicken. Then, when I ate the chicken, I could enjoy it completely because I didn’t have to feel guilty about the upcoming peas.

Turns out the Jelly Bean Theory worked on a lot of things. I started brushing my teeth before letting myself read at night, I would finish my homework before watching TV. The theory has worked for home, and for school… but now, standing at the podium, I can’t see how it’s worked for me.

For me, food tastes different depending on the order I eat it (it’s the whole delayed gratification thing :)). Candy is big in my world, and big in my writing – it’s all about little things that bring you joy!

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

You can find Jolene here:

Jolene Stockman is an ultra-enthusiastic, multi-award winning writer from New Zealand. She is the author of three young adult books: Total Blueprint for World Domination, The Jelly Bean Crisis, and Jawbreaker. She is driven by themes of identity, neurodiversity, and world domination!

Friday, August 3, 2018

FOODFIC: Tilt-a-Whirl - Chris Grabenstein

Admission #1: I only found this novel because I was requesting Grabenstein’s Lemoncello Library series online from my local library for my kids. If I hadn’t scrolled all the way to the bottom of the search results, I might never have known he’d also written books for adults!

Admission #2: After 13 years of New Jersey living, I have never been “down the shore.” Every summer I say I’ll make at least a day trip, but I never do find the time to get away. L

Well, this story stole my last bit of motivation to hit the beach! Not because it’s a bad book, but because it’s a clear depiction of a place that frankly holds no appeal. Beginning with the introduction of annoying tourists and their bratty children, moving on to psychotic vagrants and drug paraphernalia peppering the sand, and, closing out the trifecta, murder on a boardwalk ride! Clearly not much here screams “vacation.”

But just when I’m about to write off Sea Haven and all its sister cities, I read about the tomato, mozzarella, and basil on a baguette. Hmm. Now I’m wondering (hungering?): Is there actually a “Good Earth” on Ocean Avenue? I might just have to take a drive and find out. ;)