Thursday, January 28, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Christian W. Freed, Author of Dreams of Winter

Day 73.

Feels like we’ve been on this planet forever. Campaigns stretch on. Friends fall with each battle, but we endure. What other choice do we have? Command says this planet has to stand or we risk losing half the galaxy. We’ve been at the sharp end of the stick since the civil war began. No one rightly knows how or why. All we’ve been told is the Inquisitor General staged a coup, had the Cardinal Seniorus killed, and General Strannan is in exile.

None of that matters to us grunts. The men and women we’re busy fighting were our friends just a few short months ago. Seven hundred occupied planets and we’re busy tearing each other apart. I guess the universe just isn’t big enough for dueling egos. At least they feed us. Granted, it’s army food and not very appetizing, but there’s no better feeling than going to sleep on a full belly. 

Each Guardsman is given three days' worth of rations. Mostly dehydrated meats and fruits or highly processed foods designed to last to the end of time. Be careful with some of it, you might just crack a tooth. But if it gets you off the front lines who can argue?

Rumor has it one of the Three is fueling the rage here. None of us wants to meet him. The old gods destroyed themselves long ago. The thought of facing one on this campaign is enough to make you empty your stomach. Huh, won’t the cooks be angry about that! Speaking of which, I can smell fresh food being cooked across the bivouac site. Looks like hot chow tonight. I figure it’s the least they can do for us. We have 27,000 Guard on planet and are facing a force twice our size. Unless help comes soon it won’t really matter what’s for dinner. 

Dreams of Winter was born on a random idea one winter afternoon while I was stationed at West Point in 2009. A few weeks later the first few chapters sprung to life in my room at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia. Now five volumes long, the Forgotten Gods Tales is my most ambitious project. It follows a handful of reluctant heroes as they uncover a plot to overthrow a ruling body that has been in place for three thousand years. Filled with magic, space pirates (because, of course), an Inquisition, and a handful of the old gods, Dreams of Winter is mostly about ordinary men and women just trying to survive. Partly derived from my own military experience and time downrange in Iraq, Korea, and Afghanistan, this series is a reflection of the people who fight and their reasons for doing so. 

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

You can find Christian here:

Twitter @ChristianWFreed

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, January 22, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Daniel Cotton, Author of Life Among the Dead

Food is one of the three keys to survival, but what happens when you yourself are put on the menu? In my zombie apocalypse series, Life Among the Dead, we meet an array of characters and see different ways to survive, from scavenging to homesteading. Whether they are heroes or villains they all share one trait, they need to eat. Food is not just sustenance to keep us going, it can also give us comfort, it can bring us together, it makes us feel human.

One of my favorite characters is Uncle Bruce. He uses a story about food to explain his theory of how the dead are rising. On a whim, before the apocalypse, he decided to use his vast resources to make himself a burger entirely from scratch, no preservatives. Everything he needed grew on his farm; lettuce, tomato, onions, and cucumbers that he pickled himself. He had cows for beef and even a pig for bacon. Bruce went so far as to make the cheese and buns himself. He was ready, the grill was fired up, but then he realized before starting that he had failed. Condiments. He could make mayonnaise, but didn’t know how to make ketchup or mustard. Preservatives are everywhere he concluded. Now, at the end of the world he contemplates if the stuff that keeps food food could be causing the new horror they face.

Through this four book saga of intertwining tales I sprinkled my own culinary tricks, how to grill perfect ribs, and how to make a virgin tiramisu simply by putting in maple syrup and leaving out the rum. The latter is revealed by another of my favorite characters, the underdog leader of the town of Rubicon, Simon Brass. Simon was a grocer in the world before and still employs his old trade in his new way of life. He makes displays in his store to move the hard to ‘sell’ items. He rations things in limited supply to prolong the inventory. Cake mixes and frostings are two things his fellow survivors snatch up quickly to commemorate dead loved ones, birthday cakes with no candles. 

Not all the meals in the series are appetizing, unless you’re a zombie. Sink your teeth into this survival horror epic.

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

You can find Daniel here:

Twitter @DanielCCotton

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, January 15, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jayne Denker, Author of Down on Love

Thom started to pace, which wasn’t a very effective aggressive move—not in Georgiana’s tiny, shadowed apartment. For really good, forceful pacing, you needed more than four feet of free space. She didn’t have that—not by a long shot.

“Why can’t you think of someone other than yourself for once!” he exclaimed.

George bit the inside of her bottom lip to keep from guffawing in his face. Thom Tyler lecturing her about selfishness, when he’d written the book on it? Really? Instead of sniping at him, she took out her aggressions on a freshly peeled apple. Which looked a lot like his head, actually. Smiling now, she centered the circular apple slicer and gave a mighty shove downward. The sharpened metal blades thoomped neatly through the Twenty Ounce, and she thought she should feel a little guilty for imagining doing the same thing to Thom’s head, like in an old cartoon, from back when animated violence wasn’t frowned upon. She gave up on the guilt and relished the gory vision for a few seconds, then made her amends by picturing his sectioned head coming back together neatly and bloodlessly.

Georgiana Down, the main character in Down on Love, the first book in my small-town romcom series Welcome to Marsden, has a lot of stress in her life. She was downsized out of her job as a graphic artist, broke up with her emotionally abusive boyfriend, and now lives in a drab apartment with a weird roommate. Meanwhile, her sister is haranguing her to return to their tiny hometown in the Catskill Mountains in central New York State—a place she hasn’t visited, let alone lived in, in fifteen years. She has two activities in her life that relieves her stress: her successful anti-romance advice blog (Down on Love) and baking pies.

When I started writing Down on Love, there was nothing in my notes about George baking pies. (And I take a lot of notes before I start writing.) I don’t know how it came about that George’s “thing” is baking, and only pies, but I definitely drew on my personal experience. I learned how to make pies back when we rode dinosaurs to school, in what was then known as home ec class. Did you ever have one of those teachers, one you just knew would teach you something (or many things) you would carry with you the rest of your life? Sister Dismas was one of those teachers. She was a Sister of Mercy who also was the best geometry teacher since Euclid, had been a missionary in Africa and always had great stories about hanging out with cannibal tribes, and had the best from-scratch apple pie recipe. I mastered it at 16 and have been using the same recipe ever since. When I realized Georgiana needed a stress-relieving hobby, having her bake pies—using that same recipe—was the perfect fit.

After all, pies are comfort food, something George craves. I recently held a pie-themed giveaway, and one of the prizes was a plaque that said “All I’m saying is you rarely see someone crying and eating pie at the same time.” Now, that’s some top-level philosophizing right there. And true! Pies are associated with home, comfort, family gatherings, home-cooked meals, and definitely that funky diner in town—you know the one, with laminated menus and vinyl booths and the dessert carousel at the end of the counter filled with pies and pudding, rotating endlessly, tempting you to indulge even though you just polished off a cheeseburger the size of a small planet.

I don’t think it’s giving away much to say that George’s pies play a role in some key scenes in Down on Love, as well as in Picture This and Lucky for You, the second and third books in the Welcome to Marsden series. Do they end up in that dessert carousel in the diner?

You bet your Granny Smith they do.

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

You can find Jayne here:

Twitter @JDenkerAuthor

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon