Thursday, December 9, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Marie Lavender, Author of Blood Instincts

Someone just stumbling across my paranormal romance/urban fantasy novel with a futuristic angle, Blood Instincts, might not suspect that part of it is actually down to earth, at least when it comes to culinary elements. Sure, there are vampires, fairies, witches, and a werewolf in the mix, but the food is just what you would come to expect from the Baltimore, Maryland area. 

Our heroine, Myah Sullivan, is a pescatarian by preference alone. She eats seafood, healthy grains, eggs, dairy products, and plenty of vegetables. But no red meat. Ever. Her supernatural nature, which she later discovers, will challenge her beliefs about the world she knows, and especially what she tends to consume every day. But let’s not get into vampire cravings for blood. We’re here to talk about food, right? 

Whether eating out or enjoying a simple meal at home, Myah is a foodie. So, that’s rather apropos for this blog. She is a decent cook, and even reminisces about some of the meals her father used to prepare when she was a child. In the book, she prepares “tuna and rice mixed with Italian salad greens on a whole wheat pita” for herself and the guy she’s dating. 

They go to a restaurant at one point during the story, and Myah orders a tomato and mozzarella appetizer, and then truffle mac ‘n’ cheese with a side of asparagus for dinner. Oliver gets lobster and crab cakes for a starter, butternut squash bisque, and sea scallops with wild mushroom risotto for the meal. He chooses French beans with heirloom tomatoes on the side. For dessert, they decide to share a small piece of flourless chocolate espresso cake. I know, it sounds like a lot! But I promise that they take some of that food home, anyway. 

Yum…sounds scrumptious. Sign me up! How about you?

Yet, Oliver King is good in the kitchen as well. He even surprises her with breakfast in bed – pancakes and eggs. It’s no wonder he is so capable on multiple levels, considering his artistic nature.

Myah’s big comfort food, which she enjoys later in the story at her grandfather’s house, is vegetarian lasagna. That dish is prepared by her Aunt Jenny. The house is like another home for Myah, and the people there are soothing in times of distress. Still, her vampiric appetites will lead her to a final confrontation that no one could anticipate.

But that’s a story for another day. 

There are other culinary delights to be discovered in Blood Instincts. However, it looks like we’ve run out of time. While I wrote this book, my mouth was watering as I researched Baltimore cuisine, not to mention all the pescatarian options. I’d just love to visit that beautiful city sometime. Fingers crossed!

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

You can find Marie here:

Twitter @MarieLavender1

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon


Multi-genre author of Victorian maritime romance/family saga, Heiresses in Love. Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and two cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years, with more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 21 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, romantic comedy, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. An avid blogger on the side, she writes adult fiction, published one story for children, and recently started some YA fiction. She also contributed to several anthologies. Though Marie has standalone titles on the market, there are six current published series, with many others planned. The start of her Victorian maritime romance series, Heiresses in Love, has returned, and the sequels in the trilogy will also be released under her new publisher, Foundations Books. 

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Enter the Other World at your own risk…

Myah Sullivan believes she is in a relatively normal, safe world. That could not be further from the truth.

Suddenly, she’s living a nightmare. There are Others in this place – dangerous, supernatural creatures that make her mind spin and cause her to question the reality she’s always known. 

Oliver King is her savior, a vampire who tries to show her the way. Throughout her journey, she learns far more than she ever thought she would about herself, and about the past. Soon, she discovers that there is so much more to meeting Oliver than mere happenstance. The stakes just might be too high, after all.

So, what would you do if you found out that you weren’t exactly…human?

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Thursday, December 2, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Karen Albright Lin, Author of Mu Shu Mac & Cheese

I’m a Midwest girl who married into an always-hungry Chinese family. As the first Caucasian interloper, there were many adjustments to make. Culinary differences were the most fun. What better way to show off than to cook for the dozen-strong eager eaters. But when I broke the spaghetti noodles so they’d fit in the pot there was a literal gasp. Breaking the long-life noodles was tantamount to wishing early death upon hubby’s parents.  And this was only the beginning of my personal subplot. 

Most of what I write features Chinese culture and food as subplots. My first book, ethnic family saga American Moon: A Chinese Immigrant Story, even includes recipes for the foods eaten by the characters.

Food is love, sharing, East and West coming together. In my second novel, Mu Shu Mac & Cheese, Elaine is not only a culinary instructor. She’s the recipe developer for a Blue Apron-style company and the subject of a reality show filming in her home. Her family is sliced and diced when her mother-in-law arrives for a “lucky 8-day” visit. Ma turns their household topsy-turvy from rearranging furniture to insisting Elaine’s son wear garish Chinese robes to prom.

Day one dinner: Elaine makes Indian lamb curry. As she cuts, the blood oozing from the bone reminds her of the red of Chinese luck, but also the red of stop signs and dangerous tides.   


Ma challenges Elaine with a critique of the kitchen, starting with a “tsk tsk” over the lack of a mirror behind the stove-which doubles your luck apparently. The cleanup sounds less like luck, more like a degreasing nightmare.

Elaine makes complicated pork and sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. A small victory, her steamed zongzi are a hit with Ma.   



Less admired is the next day’s beef stroganoff. Its bland color on the plate inspires a fung-shui lecture. A meal must have many colors, many textures, many tastes and levels of heat. But Elaine creates a happy turn in the conversation when she remembers her wedding reception. She shares with her boys the Midwest relatives’ shock over unknowingly enjoying jellyfish salad and the cost-saving Kmart cake.

The book’s title comes from the surprising joy among them all when her sons create "Mu Shu Mac & Cheese," a starch-heavy melding of East and West cultures.

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

You can find Karen here:

Sisters of the Quill

Writing From the Peak

Read more about Elaine’s family food-fun trials:

And dip into food-rich American Moon: A Chinese Immigrant Story, "a hard-luck story about a determined family battling poverty, communism, corruption and their own fateful decisions, makes for an emotional and uplifting read." - Publishers Weekly:

Thursday, November 18, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Tracy Lawson, Author of Counteract

It's a Small Price to Pay for Safety

Tommy Bailey’s got a high school football player’s appetite. He’d happily inhale anything that isn’t red-hot or nailed down.

But it’s not up to him what, or how much, he gets to eat.

In Tommy’s reality, domestic terrorist attacks are so common that grocery stores have been shuttered in the name of public safety. With few businesses licensed to carry food products, you can’t just stop at a gas station’s quick mart and pick up a soda and a bag of chips. The Essential Services Department, created by the government to protect the U. S. food supply against tampering, makes weekly food deliveries and dictates what everyone gets to eat.

Sure, it’s a big job to handle food distribution for the entire country—but when Tommy wants tuna salad, he’s got to make it with Thousand Island dressing, and he wonders why he never seems to get peanut butter, jelly, and bread at the same time.

It’s not just a food problem. People have lived with the threat of terrorism so long they’ve given into fear and stopped protesting the myriad government-mandated Restrictions that supposedly protect them. Nearly everyone works from home. Shopping centers, movie theaters, and malls are closed. Pro sports teams play in empty stadiums. Schools have state-of-the-art security, and they’re in the process of phasing out extracurriculars and team sports.

Yet the terrorist attacks continue. 

Tommy’s got bigger problems than trying to create meals like he’s on an episode of Chopped. He’s down to his last dose of the government-issued antidote that protects him from the effects of a lethal terrorist gas-strike, yet he takes pity on Careen, whom he’s just met, and shares with her. 

Without enough antidote, the teens expect to die. Instead, they go through harsh withdrawal symptoms and come to realize the terrorist attack was a sham. The antidote was never meant to protect them—it dulls their thoughts and makes them easy to control. As they search for the truth, Tommy learns his parents, who recently died in a car accident, were leaders of an underground resistance group that’s fighting to overthrow the government. Will Tommy carry on his parents’ crusade and try to expose the truth—even though he could be the next target? 

It may sound like this series is meant to mirror the events of 2020—but I started writing the first book in the series in 2010 and released the fourth and final volume in 2017. My vision of what would happen if people gave into fear and begged the government for protection proved eerily accurate. The food shortages that plague the nation in the second and third books in the series are just some of the parallels you’ll find.

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

You can find Tracy here:

Twitter @TracySLawson

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, November 12, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Shirley McCann, Author of The Morgue


I love staying at motels, hotels or bed and breakfasts. Although I’m widowed, my daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren live with me. I love having them here since I hate being alone at night, but it’s still nice to get away once in a while.

Cooking has never been my thing, so anytime I don’t have to do it is a huge treat for me. I always take plenty of tea bags (for hot and cold) and make my own brew in the room. There’s also plenty of late-night snacks in my arsenal.

One of my favorite places to visit is The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs. Not only is the place reportedly haunted, but they have a restaurant inside as well as a bar. For breakfast I usually sit at a corner table, eat my biscuits and gravy (who doesn’t like biscuits and gravy?) and peruse the room for one of the famous apparitions I’ve heard about.

Dinner is usually a pizza from the bar, which I’ll take back to my room and watch television while I eat.

I just finished a Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, where I shared a room with two other writer friends. We ate most of our meals at the motel restaurant, which is famous for its Possum Pie. Thankfully, it’s not actually a possum pie. Just a super-rich chocolate dessert that is to die for.

My friends and I are always on the lookout for places to eat. At least once a month, we get together for lunch to talk about our lives and writing. Although Covid stopped that for a time, we’re back at it and having the time of our lives.

A new favorite we just discovered is in Marshfield, Missouri. It’s a small-town restaurant with a friendly, welcoming staff. Grillos, you’re #1 in my book right now.

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

You can find Shirley here:

Twitter @ShirleyMcCann

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Thursday, November 4, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Tonya Macalino, Author of Into the Hare Wood

In The Gates of Aurona series, every meal is a secret code for young Hannah and Cameron Troyer as they navigate a world of grown-up worries they don’t fully understand.

When I was a kid, the code told you who had money by how processed their sack lunches were. Nobody talked about it, but everybody knew that the kids with Kraft and Quaker tattooed on their snacks had cash. And the rest of us didn’t.

Now food signals are a little more complicated.

At the opening of Gates, the Troyers have just come off a long period of unemployment and the family is still really struggling. On one hand, Mom can’t make her homemade mac and cheese, but they can afford the stuff in the blue box. On the other, they can’t afford store-bought snacks and gummies, so Mom makes peanut butter and honey dip for their carrots and celery.

After a run-in with a dragon, Starbucks is a major splurge that makes Hannah and Cameron just as nervous as the dragon did.

And when their tormentor, a cranky Bronze Age sorcerer strikes too close to home, the kids know things are serious because absolutely nothing in the grocery bag next to the brand-new camping gear in the trunk is homemade.

If they were scared before, now they know their parents are, too, and that’s even more terrifying.

Every meal is message about the state of their newly tumultuous, magic-riddled lives, but it’s also embedded with a more important meaning:

I love you and I will always take care of you…

no matter what life throws at us,

no matter how bad things get.

No matter what.

And that’s a message we can all use sometimes.

If you are craving comfort food, each book in The Gates of Aurona comes with a free mini cookbook for members of my Reader Group (Sign Up HERE). From the neighborhood’s multi-ethnic potluck to the Troyer’s campfire specialties, readers can recreate the magic from this completed chapter book series! (Recommended for grades 2-6.)

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

You can find Tonya here:

Twitter @TonyaMacalino

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Tonya Macalino lives in that space Between—where the crossroads of past and present tease the senses, taunt the almost-memory. Haunted by story, she seeks it in the shadows of the landscapes of history and in the blinding glare of what-may-come, both alone and with her family of children's book authors: Raymond, Damien, & Heléna Macalino.

For adults, Tonya's national award-winning supernatural thrillers, The Shades of Venice series, combine the mythic surrealism of Pan's Labyrinth with the thrill ride that is Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

For children, Tonya's highly acclaimed urban fantasy adventures, The Gates of Aurona series, remind readers of the magical family secrets from Spiderwick Chronicles as well the legendary call to heroism of Chronicles of Narnia and the Dark Is Rising.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Virginia McCullough, Author of The Jacks of Her Heart

What’s Today’s Special at Jack’s Both Sides Now Café?

If you lived in my fictional town of Capehart Bay, Wisconsin, you wouldn’t let a week go by—or maybe even a day—without treating yourself to a trip to Jack Young’s nostalgia café, Both Sides Now. It’s the only restaurant around where ‘60s and ‘70s music is on the menu. Jack’s open-early/close late café is the heart of the town, and of my novel The Jacks of Her Heart.  

Lorna Lindstrom, widowed for over a year now, has always been a big fan of Jack’s menu, especially the “California Dreamin’ Salad.” Others prefer the crowd pleasing “Wild Thing Burger.” As for dessert, Jack’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door Brownies” melt in your mouth, but many stop in because they crave the “Nights in White Satin Chocolate-Marshmallow Sundae.” 

Lorna knew Jack, at least to wave to, but that changed fast when they end up on the same tropical cruise with a group from town. Jack asks Lorna to dance, and that’s all it took to spark the magic between them. Soon they’re sipping champagne and strolling on the deck in the moonlight… Oops, did they really get married in the Dominican Republic? 

The Jacks of Her Heart is a lighter-side romance with a touch of what I’ve dubbed “middle-age revenge.” Enter the grown kids, two for her, one for him. These three don’t hold back their disapproval. Come on, Mom is a professional organizer and lifestyle coach. Spontaneity isn’t her style—and neither is Jack. As for Jack, his divorce papers are barely dry, and his daughter was counting on Mom and Dad’s blissfully reunion. (She hasn’t been listening to Mom and Dad.) Come to think of it, Jack’s dad and Lorna’s mom aren’t jumping for joy, either. Only Jack’s baby granddaughter doesn’t have an opinion. (Can you tell I love to write multi-generational stories?) 

Through it all, the rollercoaster of disputes, discovering a few hard truths, coping with real family concerns, and many tender moments, Jack’s café is a constant, always offering the comfort and warmth of good coffee and equally terrific food. Even the breakfast fare draws smiles—Jack’s dad rolls his eyes but concedes “A Whiter Shade of Pale Egg White Omelet” isn’t half bad. On the other hand, Lorna goes for the “Mellow Yellow Banana Smoothie.”

Both Sides Now is the best spot in town for people of all ages, including the students from the college down the street, to meet for coffee. (They get a kick out of Jack’s annual Bob Dylan Lookalike Contest, too, and root for their friends who enter.) Almost no one can resist Jack’s famous muffins. Can you guess what kind of muffins match these songs: “Brown-eyed Girl,” “Black Magic Woman,” and “Here Comes the Sun?” 

 Readers often ask where I got the idea for Jacks, and I think it came from having a burger in a ‘50s nostalgia diner that struck me as a little ho hum. Wasn’t it time for an update? Around the same time, Jack and Lorna tapped my shoulder to get my attention. Madly in love, this sandwich generation duo was extremely persistent—and apparently hungry!  

So, enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Both Sides Now Café. If you can think of new menu items, I’m all ears. And send me an email and I’ll send you a playlist of the songs used in the book. 

Wait! I almost forgot…how did you do with Jack’s muffin names? Here are the answers: “Brown-eyed Girl” is Raisin Bran; “Black Magic Woman” is Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip; and, “Here Comes the Sun?” is Orange Walnut.  

A toast to good food, good coffee, good music, and books we love! 

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

You can find Virginia here:

Twitter @VEMcCullough

BookBub Listing

Books on Amazon

Virginia McCullough writes romantic women’s fiction (Greta's Grace, Island Healing) and series romance for the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Her seventh Heartwarming novel, The Rancher's Wyoming Twins is scheduled for release in April 2022. Virginia also writes nonfiction books and is a writing coach, editor, and ghostwriter. She currently lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she’s enjoys hanging out with her writer friends and drinking great coffee at local cafés. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Nina Mansfield, Contributor to Where Crime Never Sleeps

When I think of a trip to the zoo, I think of ice cream. I think of popcorn. I think of hot dogs, and hamburgers, and hot pretzels. I also think of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I might pack for myself to avoid eating overpriced and unhealthy food.

I think of “Do Not Feed the Animals” signs, which always make me wonder, Aren’t I also an animal? Don’t I need to be fed? And nothing makes me hungrier than strolling around a zoo on a warm spring or summer day, with the sun beating down, trying to see as many exotic animals as I can. There’s usually a moment, long after my water bottle has been drained, when I realize my PB&J won’t be enough. And then I cave into my cravings and get that buttery popcorn that has been calling to me, and maybe, just maybe, follow it up with some soft serve ice cream.

In my short story, “An Act Prepares,” a high school drama teacher takes a group of teenage acting students to the Bronx Zoo, a place where I’ve indulged in many an ice cream cone.

On the bus trip down, the teens eat candy. What is it with kids and candy? How was it that in my youth I could put away a bag of Skittles or M&Ms without the least bit of guilt, or immediate impact to my well-being? Doing so these days, I imagine that both I, and my drama-teacher narrator, Ms. Slutzkaya (pronounced Sloozkaya), would feel just a teensy bit ill.

Toward the end of my story, my characters find themselves waiting in the Dancing Crane Cafe, which is located not far from the flamingos, and just a hop, skip and a jump away from Congo Gorilla Forest and the Butterfly Garden, two other locations featured in the story. While a recent murder might have killed their appetites, maybe a few of my characters would choose to eat something. Items on the menu of the Dancing Crane include chicken tenders (and fries), double cheeseburger (and fries), and two hotdogs (and fries).

My murderer might have ordered a personal pizza.

Ms. Slutzkaya would have opted for the veggie panini. Ok, maybe a double cheese burger. After all, it had been a long day.

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

You can find Nina here:

Twitter @NinaJMansfield

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon


Nina Mansfield is a Connecticut based playwright, fiction writer and educator. Her short mystery fiction has appeared in a variety of publications including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mysterical-E,, and anthologized. Her most recent short story, “Windy Willows,” was published in Justice for All, Murder New York Style 5 (Level Best Books, 2021), the anthology of the NY/Tri-State Sisters in Crime. Nina’s plays have received over 100 production throughout the United States, and internationally, and are published Smith & Kraus, YouthPLAYS, Original Works Publishing and One Act Play Depot. Antigone: 3021, her full-length adaptation of the Sophocles classic, was published by Stage Partners last year, and is scheduled for multiple productions around the globe. Nina is a member of The Dramatists Guild, Mystery Writers of America and The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is a co-vice president of the NY/Tri-State Sisters in Crime.

“An Actor Prepares” was published in Where Crime Never Sleeps, Murder New York Style 4 (Level Best Books, 2017), the anthology of the NY/Tri-State Sisters in Crime, edited by Elizabeth Zelvin.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Paul Levinson, Author of The Silk Code

Dr. Phil D’Amato – NYPD forensic detective, protagonist in my Phil D’Amato series, of which The Silk Code is the first novel – orders a refill of his large glass of orange juice, when Tesa Stewart, a professor of anthropology at New York University and an expert on Neanderthals, joins him for a crucial breakfast meeting at a bistro in Greenwich Village.

It’s too early for most people to drink anything with alcohol anyway, but Phil would have ordered the orange juice or some other non-alcoholic beverage even if this meeting were in the evening. His brain was his most effective weapon in his fight against crime and unclear perils, and he liked keeping it as clear and sharp as possible.

He would have ordered organic orange juice, if the bistro had it, but at least this was fresh squeezed, a delicious influx of instant energy. Tesa barely poked at the breakfast she had ordered, teasing at the edge of her poached egg with her fork. The case she was discussing with Phil was too disconcerting for her to eat.

But Phil drank his orange juice and smacked his lips. He found frightening things and the attempt understand them “among the most exhilarating feelings in this world”. And the liquid energy orange juice fueled his exhilaration and his confidence.

My daughter Molly, 12 years old when she first read The Silk Code, which I had accidentally left on the kitchen table overnight, said, “Daddy, Phil is just like you!”

Certainly true about the love of orange juice.

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

You can find Paul here:

Twitter @PaulLev

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, October 8, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Cynthia Kuhn, Author of The Study of Secrets

While the English-professor-turned-amateur-sleuth in the Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries isn’t much of a cook, she does have her share of happy food encounters. But I’m going to confess something here: I don’t always know at first why certain foods are in there. Some details that emerge when I’m drafting the novels are unexpected but reveal their place or purpose eventually.

For example, in the fifth book in the series, The Study of Secrets, Lila is on sabbatical in Larkston, away from her Stonedale University campus, and when she meets other characters from the new town at a local diner, they insist that she order the house specialty, a slice of pie. It’s so incredibly good that the next time she is at the diner, she’s the one who makes her two visiting friends order the pie, and they have a conversation about what makes the item so magical. 

Someone once asked me if I was hungry for pie when I wrote it. (I wasn’t.) But while I was writing the first draft, the pie showed up and once it was there, it felt right in both scenes. Lila’s initial pie appreciation establishes a sense of bonding with a new group of people, then later when she is the one who pushes the pie, it tells us something about her developing connection to the new community.

Elsewhere in the novel, there is a town tradition involving chocolate-dipped candy canes, something people feel so passionate about that they get into a shouting match during a holiday party planning meeting. I don’t know where that came from. I have never had a chocolate-dipped candy cane. But they popped up during the drafting and ultimately added a small but helpful sense of tension to the chapter, which I deepened in other ways during the revision phase.

These are very sugary examples, but please don’t worry—sometimes the characters have salads too!

Thanks for stopping by to share you food for thought, Cynthia!

You can find Cynthia here:

Twitter @CynthiaKuhn

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Cynthia Kuhn writes the Starlit Bookshop Mysteries and the Agatha-Award-winning Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries. She lives in Colorado with her family and serves on the national board of Sisters in Crime. 

Friday, October 1, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Dale Manolakas, Author of Hollywood on Trial

On a cruise across the Atlantic, an elegant chandeliered dining room hosts not only gourmet meals day and night—but also a serial murderer. In Death Sets Sail a group of writers on their awards cruise vie in a three-dimensional chess game of whodunit as writers die one by one.

In Death Sets Sail the amateur sleuths collide with death in raucous, fun, and gastronomically delightful crime solving antics. Through international waters and despite storms, jealousies, and corporate cover ups, body bags are filled and stuffed into the ship’s refrigerator. With the South Hampton landing looming, the murderer gets desperate.

In all my books, I take pride in describing the geographically unique and character-specific lifestyles, restaurants, wines, and foods. From Bakersfield Basque restaurants in The Gun Trial: A Legal Thriller to Los Angeles haute cuisine where elite attorneys expense account rare wines and gourmet meals in The Russian: A Legal Thriller and Lethal Lawyers: A Legal Thriller. 

In Hollywood on Trial: A Legal Thriller, there is a dynamic industry party at a Malibu estate on the ocean cliffs. It has gourmet food stations and bars where the party goers enjoy miniaturized portions from appetizers to deserts. In the swirl of holiday foods festivities, security fights with a stalker who accosts a starlet on the cliffs edge. 

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

You can find Dale here:

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Please enjoy all my books in audio, ebook, paperback, and large print on several platforms. (Now on Kindle Unlimited , Audible, & Findaway Voices)

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Friday, September 24, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jane Ward, Author of In the Aftermath

My maternal grandmother immigrated to the United States from Edinburgh and worked for years as a baker in the Boston University dining halls. When summer arrived, she would leave her husband and three daughters behind and pick up seasonal baking work in vacation resorts on Cape Cod. 

During my childhood, when her career baking days were behind her, Nana often visited our family, and at the drop of a hat would whip up a batch of what she called “girdle scones,” a quick bread that has nothing to do with foundation garments and everything to do with being cooked on a hot pan—a girdle, in Scots English—on top of the stove.

Years later, confident in the baking skills I learned from watching her, I followed in her footsteps and took a job as weekend baker at a neighborhood bakery. My day would begin at 2 a.m. with baking muffins and scones, and end between 10 and 11 after I pulled my beloved loaves of challah and white sandwich bread out of the ovens. It was a physical job that put my sleep schedule at odds with weekend family time. But I loved that job; I loved watching happy people head home with the delicious pastry I had made. 

In the Aftermath opens in April 2008, just as the Great Recession is about to do its worst to many homeowners and small business owners. These are the people whose stories I would tell. As I brainstormed small business settings for David and Jules, the husband and wife at the center of the novel, I began picturing them moving around a bakery similar to the one I had worked at years before. Yes, it was an environment I could write about with authority, but my decision was about more than choosing something familiar. I write to explore the nature of human connections, and the origin story of bread is also one of community.

Before the first brave souls looked at wild, grassy wheat and came up with the idea of grinding it into flour, turning that flour into dough with water and airborne yeasts, shaping this concoction into a cake, and then sticking it into fire, people roamed—rootless—and foraged to live. 

Once bread caught on as a reliably available food source, people were able to stop moving to find nourishment. They became farmers, bakers, consumers; they settled close to each other. Communities grew and people thrived. Around bread. Because of bread. 

In Jules and David’s fictional bakery community all those eons later, customers would have eaten good, crusty bread and everything else that owes its existence to society’s first humble loaf: scones and muffins, danish and croissants, cookies and brownies and cakes. In their best times, these bakers touched lives—sending sustaining food into people’s homes and bringing them joy. It is this same longing for connection - through work, through relationships – that guides the characters in In the Aftermath as they move through difficult times into a brighter future.

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

You can find Jane here:

Thursday, September 16, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Real Laplaine, Author of Deception People

Betrayed by Apple Pie

Deception People was inspired in the wake of 9/11, where literally hundreds of engineers and investigative professionals from around the world, people who had no bias or other agenda, objectively examined the attack, and concluded that the two planes did not, and could not possibly, under any circumstances, have brought down the Twin Towers with such precision. What they did discover was ample evidence showing that demolition style explosives had been secretly placed in the support columns of both buildings, and then carefully detonated to make it appear otherwise, bringing both structures down in their footprint, without touching another building; and moreover, that a 3rd building, 47 stories high, across the street, not even struck by a plane, also crumbled with perfect-demolition style, shortly thereafter, an incident which was explained away by the government, and yet, which few questioned or even challenged.

Deception People, while a thriller in of itself, presents a disturbing scenario, where another group of senior officials and their backers decide to repeat an act of terrorism, but this time, one that completely disrupts the nation through its digital platform – all of which seems relatively harmless until one realizes that airplanes will be crashing into one another or onto runways, financial systems will cease to operate, that tens of thousands will die in hospitals where equipment has failed, where transport services will cease thereby causing all manner of road and train collisions, and more.

One man discovers their plot and tries to expose it. Troy Evans, an unassuming graphic designer living in Minneapolis, has a special ability, one he has honed over the years. Surviving a near fatal accident as a young boy, Troy experienced his first out-of-body experience, and went on, over the years, to experience many, many, more. Now, as an adult, and still practicing his outings in secret, he happens across a hotel hundreds of miles away, and overhears a bizarre conversation where men are planning a massive terrorist attack on the nation.

Troy immediately reports the matter to Homeland Security, but soon finds himself under attack by the very people plotting the terrorism, people in high positions of government and the military-industrial establishment employed by the U.S. government, all of whom will benefit from the debacle.

Locked away as delusional and dangerous, Troy convinces his psychiatrist he is telling the truth, and together they run, trying to find someone who will listen, while evading a lethal team who are tracking them down, to silence them before they can speak up. At one point, they stop at the “Shack”, a diner in South Dakota, a seemingly safe haven where American apple pie could have been born, but unfortunately their presence there is soon discovered, and the net is tightened around them.

The question is, who will listen to what sounds like mere conspiracy theory coming from two fugitives on the run, and if anyone does, will it be in time to stop the attack?

While many choose to believe that 9/11 was entirely the work of Islamic radicals, Deception People presents another picture – those with an agenda, sociopaths who couldn’t care less if 3000 people, or 100,000 are killed, providing it aggrandizes their power and their bank accounts.

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

You can find Real here:

Twitter @Real0Laplaine

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Thursday, September 2, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lynn Lamb, Author of The Survivor Diaries

After living through a pandemic, there’s a good possibility you have considered what you would do if food supplies dried up or became otherwise unavailable. Having written the Survivor Diaries Series, five novels exploring how one group of neighbors survive a global nuclear war, these days I’ve been acutely aware of my emergency supplies, especially food and water.

Not surprisingly, that was the first thought for Laura Patton, the reluctant leader of a group dubbed the Villagers. With the possibility of being trapped in their home for three weeks after the initial bombs dropped, waiting for the nuclear clouds to dissipate, Laura had the forethought to collect drinking water in plastic eighteen gallon containers she had previously used as packing boxes. These water stores checked the first box of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

With the most important life maintaining ration in place, food and nutritional requirements were next on the list. Preparing for at least two weeks of quarantine, with no access to Instacart or Grub Hub delivery, the survivors were tasked with creating a food bank following the catastrophic first days of the apocalypse.

It was time for me as an author to firmly lace up Laura’s shoes and dig into researching dietary needs, ways of preserving food stores, and preparing meals sans electricity and gas. It was most important to me that these techniques were real-life tested, so I went about doing so, video recording my “Survivor Challenge.” I spent one day learning how to box a fire starter kit, make candles, and even fashion a beer can stove for heating coffee and water for rehydrated foods. You can check out the results, sometimes frustrating and other times hysterical, here:

After escaping death in the rolling turbulence and hot ashes of bombs and the collapse of unstable buildings, the characters were left to tend to their wounds, and then wait for the worst of the radioactive winds to die. As they did so, they worried about their food supplies once their rations became depleted.

The Villagers found ways to communicate through ham radios and walkie-talkies while interned, discussing what comes next. When finally liberated from their confinement, one of the first tasks was to come together to share food and water. The family’s matriarch, Annie, headed a cooking committee to determine what foods would be easiest to prepare in bulk. Dried goods such as rice and pasta were first on the list. Other characters were tasked with forging through the wreckage of the town to find the location of a big box store and rummage through what remained.

Thus were the first weeks of life after global nuclear war. As weeks, months, and eventually years passed, the needs and skills of the Villagers grew and morphed. Growing sustainable food sources, at first for themselves and later for trade and the health of the population as a whole, became a priority.

Learn more about the life and death challenges of the Villagers in the Survivor Diaries Series as this group of determined neighbors face monumental obstacles on the path to what really matters in life.

So, what would you be eating at the end of the world?

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

You can find Lynn here:

Twitter @LynnLambAuthor

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Have you ever wondered how you would survive a global nuclear apocalypse? Lynn Lamb imagined it into existence on the written page. And thus began her award-winning and best-selling literary career.

Lynn Lamb is the author of the post-apocalyptic Survivor Diaries Series, Opus of the Dead Series, The Oxymoron of Still Life, a short story anthology, and Mechaniclism, an apocalyptic, horror novella. Lamb was inspired by the characters in her hometown of Monterey, California. She holds a BA in Cinematic Arts and Technology and has worked as a scriptwriter and corporate filmmaker.

The Survivor Diaries explosive series and the Opus of the Dead’s chilling novels have made a big bang and a scream on the literary scene. Grab her incredible titles, and don’t miss out on this chart-topping author!

*Excerpts from Monte Vista Village, all rights reserved

Friday, August 20, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Anne Hagan, Author of Tennessee Bound

The Morelville Mysteries is a series built on the coveted morel mushroom that grows wild after wet spring rains and drains in the area of Ohio I now call home. Oh, you can try to cultivate them, but tromping about the woods to find them, then posting pictures of your haul on social media for your friends to envy before you lightly batter them and fry them is what makes them even better eating than the ones from the patch that always springs up behind Aunt Edna’s garage under the elm trees.

Morelville is a farming community near the heart of Ohio’s Amish country. Mushrooms of any kind, Amish fried chicken, and Amish wedding plates rule tables in little mom and pop restaurants across a three-county area. And pie. There’s always pie; sliced, whole or fry pies taken to go to eat from your hand.

Sheriff Melissa ‘Mel’ Crane grew up on a family farm where her mother still gardens and cans food to feed an army from fall through spring. They raised chickens for daily fresh eggs and livestock for meat. Neighbors share their bounty with each other, both ‘English’ and Amish, and there’s always room for another plate at the dinner table.

When Dana came into Mel’s life, Mel’s palate expanded. Dana’s Pittsburgh Italian upbringing and a long hitch spent in Chicago sampling all of its gastronomic delights made her a passionate if indiscriminate foodie. She’ll try anything once. Maybe two or three times. Mel’s more cautious, but she does an instant liking to Dana’s signature dish, chicken Cacciatore, a combination of meat and stewed vegetables she never thought she’d like.

In the later books of the series, our two heroines leave the confines of Ohio from time to time to relax in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Food is always on Dana’s mind, and she doesn’t hesitate to sample the fare at the pancake houses that attract teaming hordes of tourists in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, local beers, southern style barbecue and so much more. Mel’s usually game, at least she is for anything involving beef or chops. She doesn’t get to sample much cuisine in Tennessee Bound but that’s to be expected when you know what happens in the story. She’s going to have to make up for some lost table time after that trip south.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought Anne!

You can find Anne here:

Twitter @AuthorAnneHagan

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, August 6, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Sherry Harris, Author of A Time to Swill

Chloe Jackson moved from big city life in Chicago to the small town of Emerald Cove in the Florida Panhandle. She left behind deep-dish pizza and hot dogs, moving to a land of seafood and Southern food. Because she made a promise to a friend, she’s also gone from children’s librarian to part owner of a bar, cocktail waitress, and barback.

The bar Chloe works in, the Sea Glass Saloon, sits on a beach so white it looks like Mr. Clean comes by every night to tidy up. The water is a dazzling blueish-green shade – it’s no wonder the area is called the Emerald Coast. While the Sea Glass doesn’t serve food the delicious smells of barbeque and seafood waft over from the Briny Pirate, the restaurant next door. Customers order food from there all the time. Chloe’s favorite dish is called a Redneck bowl. It’s full of smoked pulled pork, black-eyed peas, cabbage, corn, rice, greens, and just the right amount of hot sauce.

Chloe lives in a two-bedroom, cement-block house that sits on top of a sand dune. The open concept living room, dining room, and kitchen all have spectacular views because of windows that run all along the backside of the house and lead to a screened porch. When Chloe is home, she loves to cook with fresh, local seafood that she picks up from her favorite market – Russo’s.

She buys shrimp for shrimp scampi, yellow fin tuna to grill, and has experimented with dishes from local grouper, amberjack, and wahoo – depending on what is in season. The only thing Chloe refuses to try is raw oysters – she thinks they look like something a whale would sneeze out.

Chloe has a knack for finding trouble. In A Time to Swill, the second book in the Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mystery series, she’s swept out to sea in an abandon sailboat which she boarded because she thought she heard a baby cry. What will Chloe be hungry for if she makes it back to shore? Please read A Time to Swill to find out!

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

You can find Sherry here:

Twitter @SHarrisAuthor

Facebook Fan Page


Books on Amazon

Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and the Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries.

Sherry is a past president of Sisters in Crime, a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Sherry loves books, beaches, bars, and Westies — not necessarily in that order. She is also a patent holding inventor.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lynne Kelly, Author of Song For a Whale

My character Iris, a Deaf twelve-year-old tech whiz, is about to embark on a grand journey to track down the world’s loneliest whale. But first, she’ll need to fuel up. On her way to the assisted living center to pick up her sidekick grandma, Iris stops at the gas station. Since she lives in Houston, there are plenty of good Mexican restaurants around, but Carlos’s Gas ‘Em Up has the best breakfast tacos. This isn’t the kind of place that has all the food pre-wrapped in plastic. One side is like the ordinary convenience store you’ll find at most gas stations, but there’s also a family-run café that serves excellent Mexican food. If you’re unfamiliar with breakfast tacos, think of a regular taco on a flour tortilla, but fill it with breakfast food: scrambled eggs, cheese, maybe some bacon or sausage, and salsa. This morning, Iris orders her taco with eggs, potatoes, and cheese. She also orders a coffee. She’s never had coffee before, but it seems like an appropriately grown-up drink for a trip like this. After one bitter sip, she throws it away and goes back to the check-out counter for her usual chocolate milk. 

For the next few days, Iris and Grandma will be far from Houston and the gas station tacos. The whale she’s searching for isn’t swimming anywhere around here—they’ll have to hop onto an Alaskan cruise to get close to him. 

When I was writing Song For a Whale, I was lucky enough to be able to research the setting in person, though I live in the Houston area like Iris does. I work as a sign language interpreter for my “day job,” and shortly after I started writing the novel, I saw an assignment for a week-long Alaskan cruise, interpreting for three Deaf passengers. I got to do that again a year later, when I was revising the manuscript. In addition to being a lovely place to work for a week at a time, seeing the ship and the scenery really helped with the setting details I added to the story. Of course, that included food! After Iris’s first cruise ship dinner of salmon and mashed potatoes, she orders a crème brûlée for dessert. She has no idea what it is, but it looks like it’ll be worth finding out. She and Grandma are too full to finish their dinners, but magically find more room when the desserts arrive. Iris still isn’t sure what’s in crème brûlée, other than sugar and some sort of cream, but she decides it’s her new favorite food. 

The next day at the breakfast buffet, she’s overwhelmed with the selection, which is like “…every breakfast buffet from every restaurant I’d ever been in, all shoved into one place.” It’s not every day you can have a waffle, a pancake, and French toast all in one meal. With the help of her new friend Bennie, Iris quickly learns where to find the shortest buffet lines and the best places to sit and enjoy a plate of salmon eggs benedict and banana waffles. 

Grandma is ready for full-time cruise ship life, but Iris is more like me—ready to be back home after an enjoyable week at sea. I imagine she still loves her gas station breakfast tacos, but maybe makes her own version too, with some grilled salmon added. 

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

You can find Lynne here:

Twitter @LynneKelly

Facebook Fan Page


Books on Amazon

Thursday, June 10, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Mary Kincaid, Creator of Hawk McCoy

My character Hawk McCoy is a seeking personality who has many adventures. Confronted with the eating habits of my grandchildren who will not try anything new I was prompted to write this story. I want to encourage children to try things and make up their own minds.

In Hawk McCoy: The Mutant Onion, Hawk explores the tastes of various superfoods, vegetables, that his mentor Nyssa Pentas  developed with his father, a plant genetist. He joins Nyssa as a Junior Botanist. The first requirement of being a junior botanist with his father’s lab are expressing his opinions about recipes after the daily taste test. His father and Nyssa work on increasing the nutrient value of four types of vegetables: artichokes, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and onions. While he tastes, Lima Bean Curry, Artichoke sauces, and peanut fritters, he develops a three-part scale to rate vegetables on the blog.

His ranking system designed to encourage everyone to try the vegetable recipes went like this: “One Hawk: take the one bite your mom insists on. Two Hawks: two spoonful’s because it is not that bad. Three Hawks: eat up: it will make you grow.”

Before his summer is over, he talks about vegetables on the radio, dances in an artichoke suit to attract tasters to Nyssa’s display, and learns to grow vegetables.

When Hawk, lured by the local ice cream vendor, Earl, with his two for one special, gives into his craving for hot fudge sundaes, he alarmed Nyssa. Nyssa coaxes Earl into being the only vendor for her special ice cream sauce. After tasting it Earl agrees to distribute the sauce and help Nyssa with an ice cream social that will encourage the community to name the sauce.

The sauce looks like it is created from some type of berry but is actually made from the Pen5, the mutant onion. This onion is bright pink with yellow striped leaves.  The bright pink onion makes amazing ice cream topping. The additional benefits are that it will eliminate many of the ailments that require over the counter drugs. It is a real threat to aspirin sales.

Hawk becomes a vegetable eating convert over the course of the story. He ends the summer no longer believing that mac and cheese is a vegetable. 

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

You can find Mary here:

Twitter @marykincaid2001

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Thursday, June 3, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Timothy S. Johnston, Author of Fatal Depth

The characters in my newest thriller, Fatal Depth, live in an underwater city.  They commute to work in scuba gear or in submersibles.  They work in submarines or serve in the submarine fleet, piloting massive warsubs through the world’s oceans.  They live, love, fight, and do everything else underwater.  All.  The.  Time.  

It’s their life, it’s their existence, and it’s their very reason for waking up each morning.

But what are they eating???

It’s an interesting question, and in fact, it’s at the core of the entire series of novels (which includes The War Beneath and The Savage Deeps). 

I knew I wanted to write a series of books that were cold war espionage/spy thrillers that take place underwater.  Think The Hunt for Red October on steroids.  But every writer needs a rationale behind the world they create.  I wanted it to be grounded in reality, in history, and in science.  It needed to be logical.  After many years at University in the 80s and 90s, and teaching environmental studies for decades, the justification for my undersea reality quickly became obvious:  global warming and rising ocean levels might soon destroy continental breadbasket regions and ravage shorelines.  Economies would disintegrate.  Nations would fall to rebellion.

People would starve.

But the underwater world could be our salvation!  Consider this:  The oceans occupy 70% of the planet’s surface.  Scientists believe we’ve only discovered 10% of the species which live there.  The ocean floors are, generally speaking, way beyond our reach.  However, the continental shelves at the rims of nations, extending a few kilometers into water before their rapid plunge into deep ocean abysses, are rich in organic material.  They are shallow enough to receive sunlight.  Fish love the shelves, especially if the currents are just right.  A collision of warm and cold currents is preferable. 

Kelp flourishes in these areas too. Some cultures already make heavy use of kelp and seaweed.  Imaging cultivating this crop in an organized and industrialized manner!  Kelp grows one meter a day in the right conditions.  It could solve our food problems, especially as famine and collapsing arable land hits us on the surface.  Throw in fish farms — schools of fish contained by bubble fences — and shellfish fields, and suddenly there’s a very real (and logical) reason for people to colonize the shallow ocean floors.

This is the basis for my current writing:  Surface nations are essentially a collection of collapsing economies which thirst for new resources.  There is an explosion of exploration and colonization on the ocean floors.  In Fatal Depth, the confluence of events have led to a Second Cold War, and a rapid flood of human beings into the oceans, to settle underwater cities and exploit the ocean deeps.  And, more often than not, war is the result.  This future possibility is a near certainty, if history is any indication of things to come.

I hope you might consider joining me in these adventures, and to explore just what people are eating in the underwater world!

- Timothy S. Johnston, from somewhere on the continental shelf

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

You can find Timothy here:

Twitter @TSJ_Author

Instagram @TSJ_Author

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Fatal Depth Book Trailer:

Friday, May 28, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Bowen Greenwood, Author of Death of Secrets


What we like to eat reveals something about us. If a character orders nothing but salad every time he eats, the natural conclusion is to wonder whether he’s concerned about weight, or cholesterol, or some such. If a dainty, petite woman calls for a sixteen-ounce sirloin and tells the waitress, “I want to hear it mooing,” a picture of her rural upbringing comes readily to mind.

That makes food and drink useful tools for writing. In my first novel, Death of Secrets, Kathy Kelver, the female protagonist, witnesses a murder and then gets accused of making a false report by the police. In response, she and her college roommate open a bottle of wine together at the end of the day. It brings them into focus; it makes them relatable. It helps the reader understand better who they are.

Later in the novel, on the run from deadly adversaries and trying to understand why, Kathy, her roommate, and the male protagonist, Mike Vincent, hole up in a hotel room. The following morning, Vincent brings the two young women breakfast: biscuit sandwiches from a local fast-food joint. Vincent is a Member of Congress but grabbing McMuffins at McDonalds brings him down to Earth. Under stress, he craves grease and salt just like any of the rest of us.

My most recent story is Distant Thunder: An Exile War Novella.* It’s science fiction and space opera, and food and drink help create the world and the setting. At a cocktail party, the main characters nibble on something like a snail from the oceans of Tau Ceti, and drink beer from the finest grains grown there. The food means nothing to the plot, but just by mentioning it, the reader knows this is an interstellar world, space travel is common, and different worlds take pride in their local cuisine.

Food and drink tell us who we are, what we want, where we live, and where we’re going. They’re part of what makes real life worth living, and they’re just as much a part of making up worlds. Any time a book makes good use of that recipe, I know I always come away hungry for more.

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

You can find Bowen here:

Twitter @BowenGreenwood

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

*Bowen Greenwood’s latest release, Distant Thunder, an Exile War Novella, is free to email subscribers at

Friday, May 21, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Susan Keene, Author of The Wedding Cake Murder

Arizona Summers is the fifth generation to own Moonstone Lake’s most popular eating spot. At one time or another, everyone in the area has eaten there. She has nightly specials geared to the area seniors and folks who can’t afford to eat healthy without help.. She sends her leftovers to the homeless camp nightly.

Food is a universal symbol of fellowship. It’s our common ground.

Arizona knows everyone in her town because of the café. People who don’t know her well feel at home with her because they have seen her so often over the years.

She puts people to ease with a piece of apple pie with cinnamon ice cream or a steak smothered with garlic butter and fried onions.  

Folks begin to think of her as a friend. It’s a great way to dig up clues.

No one pays attention to her as she moves around the place hearing bits and pieces of conversation. If you sit down to have a serious conversation with someone the interaction can be formal. Add a cheeseburger, an order of fries and a coke to the encounter and tension melts. Your companion will focus part of their attention on the food and things get said they would have otherwise not revealed. 

The recipes in The Wedding Cake Murder are kept simple for a reason. They give the readers ideas for special occasions but keeps them simple with ingredients usually available in their kitchen.

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

You can find Susan here:

Twitter @SusanSKeene

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, May 7, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Connie Jasperson, Contributor to Swords, Sorcery, and Self-Rescuing Damsels

First of all, thank you, Shelley, for giving me this opportunity to talk about food and how it fits into the fantasy universe. After all, even fantasy characters must eat to live. But what are the foods available to them? I usually try to keep it simple so that food becomes a component of world-building.

In 2018, Lee French asked me to write a story for an anthology called Swords, Sorcery, & Self-Rescuing Damsels. In my heart, I knew it had to be set in the Tower of Bones world of Neveyah, and I wanted my heroine to be as complex and inventive as women are in reality. I had wanted to do a story featuring the minotaur soldiers of the Bull God, and this provided an opportunity to show them as human. 

My protagonist is a slave, a woman whose tongue was cut out in her childhood. She uses a hand language to speak to the other slaves. In the Bull God’s world of Serende, all boys are taken to the priests at age fifteen and remade into minotaurs. Many don’t survive the remaking. Many minotaurs are left mute in the process, so all people of Serende are bi-lingual and use the hand language to communicate.

My protagonist meets a priest of the Goddess Aeos who has been taken prisoner. Against her better judgment, she agrees to carry his sword out of the lands claimed by the Bull God. She must carry it to the Goddess’s city of Braden to tell the Temple what had happened to him. 

She walks out of her master’s domain and into the vast thorn forest with nothing but a sewing kit and carrying a weapon she has no idea how to use. When she leaves the Shadow Castle, she leaves her slave name behind.

She must forage for food, and in the thorn forest, there are some resources for those who know what to look for. The few yar blossoms and noe roots at the edge of the shallow creeks will keep me alive, but hunger is my companion. With my mutilation, I must chew carefully, chew and chew until they’re soft enough to swallow without choking.

She rescues a wounded minotaur soldier, Kerk. He gives her the name of Thorn Girl, and she embraces it.

Over the next few days, Thorn Girl tends Kerk’s wounds. Despite his terrible injuries, he guides her to the safer paths. She can forage but doesn’t know how to hunt, and Kerk is too ill. In the first days, he is able to fish, serving her raw fish, which she eats but isn’t sure she enjoys. They don’t dare have a campfire, so raw fish, yar blossoms, and noe roots are the sum of their diet but they don’t starve. 

“Thorn Girl” is not a romance or a tale of sword-swinging prowess, but it does explore true strength and endurance. It is a tale of faith in the face of tragedy, bravery in the face of the unknown, and loyalty to the end. 

I was so honored to have this little story appear with the amazing works included in Swords, Sorcery, & Self-Rescuing Damsels. Each and every tale in that volume celebrates the resourcefulness and resilience of women in all walks of life. 

Again, thank you, Shelley, for this chance to discuss fantasy food and how acquiring food and what the characters eat helps to show the world in which a story is set.

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

You can find Connie here:

Twitter @cjjasp

Facebook Page

Books on Amazon