Friday, December 2, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Ann Jacobus, Author of The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent



My mom died a few years back and my siblings and I took turns caring for her at home near the end, along with medical and hospice support. It was difficult of course, but to my surprise we all spent a lot of time sharing old stories and laughing heartily, often over food. I then wrote a novel about a troubled 18-year-old tending to her beloved guardian Aunt Fran who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. It’s called The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent (out March 7, 2023)

The story is fueled by good food. Aunt Fran is a wonderful cook from Dallas, Texas and she’s been teaching main character Delilah. Her specialties include: buttery Jalapeño cheese grits, buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken, pimento cheese, proper southern cornbread (not sweet), and a mean cheese straw-- those crisp, savory, flakey treats dusted with cayenne pepper—that feature in two scenes. One scene is funny and involves a Labrador Retriever. The other shows just how much ground Aunt Fran is losing.

You see, Aunt Fran’s cancer is a virulent strain, not unlike the one that took my mom too quickly. And Delilah fears that losing this woman who has meant so much to her, might cause her to lose her life too. Yes, it’s irrational, but what, you’re rational all the time?

During the course of Fran’s illness, friends bring over spinach quiche, seven-layer bean and salsa dip, and a macadamia tunnel-of-fudge Bundt cake. A later scene in the story involves Delilah, her estranged father, and a weakened Aunt Fran, all sitting down to dinner together over a crab casserole (more cheese!) delivered by a friend, and an arugula and spring-mix-from-a-bag salad with a Dijon-vinaigrette that Delilah makes. Dad contributes a crisp white French Chablis, and a German chocolate cake with coconut-pecan frosting—Fran’s childhood favorite. Despite the family’s many tensions it’s a gentle, warm reunion, and they don’t know it at the time, but it’s their last meal together.

The story’s set in San Francisco, so naturally great local food figures: North Beach coffee house Lattes, burgers and fries, Ghirardelli hot fudge sundaes, fish tacos and beef burritos, and eggplant and Brie sandwiches on whole grain. And Delilah and her father talk turkey, coming to a new understanding over fragrant, take-out green curry chicken, red rice, and shrimp-packed Tom Yum soup.

As you and I know, food is inextricably tied up with family dynamics, history, and culture, not to mention nostalgia and comfort. It’s what sustains us emotionally as well as physically, especially in times of loss. Novels are almost always about struggle and loss of some sort. How can a writer not include heaps of memorable food?


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



You can find Ann here:


Twitter @AnnJacobusSF

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon



Ann Jacobus is the author of YA novels The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent (March 7, 2023), and Romancing the Dark in the City of Light. She teaches writing at Stanford Continuing Studies, is a long-time suicide crisis line volunteer, and a mental health advocate. She gravitates to Tex-Mex and BBQ.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Dan Scanlan, Author of The Hacker



The enjoyment of great food and good company is one of life’s familiar pleasures. Including these kind of scenes in a novel can create the same relaxed enjoyment for the reader as the meals themselves. In a thriller they can be used to create the opposite feeling by stressing the absence of normal opportunities to rest and reenergize, keeping tension high. Pressure is created for the reader by keeping the characters sweaty, stressed and always on the move. In The Hacker, investigators race to find a master cybercriminal using the avatar, Dantalion. Any minute they delay is more opportunity for him to wreak damage. Their compulsion to run him down overrides all other aspects of life.

Eating becomes more of a refueling effort than dining, stopping just long enough to bolt sufficient food to keep going and return to the chase. This, combined with scant sleep for time or anything else places the reader in the head of the investigators and I hope, enables the reader to feel the tension as the characters do. But what are they eating?

Late at night in the lab:

Peering towards the door to ensure she was alone, she stopped to root through Tim’s desk and pirate a pair of granola bars from his bottom drawer. She munched on a bar without tasting it as she settled back into her chair.

Even when they do actually stop to eat, the case is always on their minds:

Tim nodded, waiting to speak as their food arrived. Their mouths watered at the smell of the thick burgers and double-fried chips. After a few huge bites, he leaned back. “I can start working on the material, but there’s an angle to all this we’re going to need to deal with before we go to a judge.

Using deprivation as a mechanism to create tension emphasizes the very few times in the book, when the lead investigator, Ericka Blackwood, slows down enough for introspection, to let herself feel what the chase is doing to her:

They faced each other over the antique table, set with cream, sugar, toast and the old woman’s own marmalade, the comforting scent of breakfast blended with the small, potted flowers near the window. The well of strength that had brought her back while she was suspended. The old woman had moved in below Ericka’s top-floor condo, helping her fill the days and quickly becoming her confidante and counsellor. Mrs. Donnelly’s eyes narrowed as she sipped, the rising sun’s glow on the horizon in the window behind her.

Part of what I hope to bring to the reader in The Hacker is a sense of just how much must be sacrificed in an active police investigation, particularly in the cyber world. I have tried to leverage my three decades as a prosecutor, working with police and seeing the effects their work has on them to bring home to the reader the unyielding stress they deal with in the middle of a big investigation. My hope is that it engages the reader in the chase, making each step they take more compelling as the story unfolds. Food is part of that narrative.


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



You can find Dan here:

DanielScanlanAuthor.com

Twitter @DanielMScanlan

Facebook Page

Books on Amazon

Thursday, November 3, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Stacey Pierson, Author of VALE

 


Vale is a Young Adult bayou murder mystery, unique and one of a kind, like a fresh batch of crawfish. And so is the food the characters put into their mouths, and how the food they eat is their personality.

Charles is the plain bagel in the story. He lives with Epilepsy, and with each seizure is like a sprinkling of Everything But The Bagel, which adds another layer to his ever-growing character arc. Layer by layer, bit by bit, Charles add tries new seasonings.

Simple, quick bites represent Leigh. She once was a charcuterie board before she left with different flavors and tasty snacks. Her personality was crunchy like the crackers and crispy like her snappy, sarcastic saying. Now, after her return, she’s silent and missing like the food on the tray.

Truly, I know she is a Trix bar. One of two amazing halves, but once one is gone, you either save it or inhale it, never really tasting the sweetness before it’s too late and leaving you wanting more. But what happens when you break it in half? Do you want to share it? I can tell you that you won’t, especially because of the poison-laced inside.

Max is delicate and darling. He savors each bite with a smile then the heat like jalapeno pepper wrapped in bacon hits. He always goes back for more, even though he’s getting burned, and never reaches for the water to cool off because he enjoys it.

Carmel is exactly what her nickname is. She has always loved caramel apples, but there’s a part of her that chips her razor-sharp teeth on the red glossy, and hard candy surrounding the caramel goodness she sees that no one else does. Like her thoughts, the core of the apple is rotten.

Audrey and the Leeches are the same. Sinister with a twist of flavor like beefy jerky. At first, everything seems great, and they are friendly. But once you take a bite, the peppery taste catches you off guard, and you might choke.

Jace and his football teammates like playing on the field, they are spaced out and ready for one another when it comes to Xs and O’s – like a Valentine’s Day candy you give to your arch enemy as a joke. Funny, but with dire consequences. They look yummy, but the aftertaste is sour and could make you green with envy as their selfishness engulfs you.

Peyton is one who is a mix of sweet and sour. She loves to get in the middle of things but prefers a sour apple Blow pop. She loves to break the hard candy shell down like shredding layers of people’s insecurities and sinking her teeth in the gum inside, like blowing up people’s lives with a smile.

Dark Horse is unique as can be, like black licorice. He’s not everyone’s favorite and not tasty. It’s an acquired taste that comes over time. But it leaves a coating of revenge and truthfulness that most people see as a threat when it’s justice. Horrible, sinister, dark, and deadly justice, you can’t win them all.

Each character in Vale is unlike the other. They look, act, and want to be the same. But they are far from it. One thing that will keep anyone wondering is how many maggots and rot really is inside of them as they bite into their favorite foods.


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



You can find Stacey here:

Author Site

Twitter@SuperStacey318

Facebook

Books on Amazon

Friday, October 21, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Michelle Tanmizi, Author of Late Dawn



Food in the year 4848 

I come from a culture that reveres food and the ritual of eating. Passed around like a fortune cookie is the saying that ‘One lives to eat, and not eat to live.’ But what happens when food becomes scarce in the far-future, dystopian world of Late Dawn, in the year 4848? That is the timeline of my novel.

 It is so far in our timeline, it lies on the other side of the horizon of perception where eyes and minds cannot yet reach. I chose such a far timeline for a good reason. I wanted to project an image of a transformed Earth, where climate change had ravaged and damaged it, and where Earthlings (wildlife, nature and insects included) who survived, are living through yet another global disaster. It is a world where humans are no longer Mother Nature’s favourite children.

In this world, we are no longer the apex predator because animals have taken over our territories, and our domestic meat source, like chickens, cows, ducks, etc., have perished. So, for those who crave flesh protein, it becomes necessary to find an alternative solution to animal meat. In the world of Late Dawn, people eat Bio-Meat, a government, laboratory-produced protein. But it creates long term illnesses for those who consume it, side effects from non-natural food products. I believe in eating only fresh, unaltered food, and so it is normal I would write this into my novel. Today, the once popular trend of Genetically Modified foods has lost advocates as people are realising it is healthier to eat natural, unaltered products.

The focalising character of the story, Marra, belongs to an environmental and animal protection agency whose members are all vegans. I am an advocate of eating vegetables because it helps the planet and for me, it also helps the animals. Since January 2021, I’ve become a vegetarian myself and loving it. Environmental issues interest me and like the protagonist of Late Dawn, I believe in trying to help the planet as much as I can.

So, while Late Dawn is not so much about food, it is about wildlife protection and what happens when we ignore the fact that we share this planet with other living beings.


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



You can find Michelle here:

MichelleTanmizi.com

Twitter @MTanmiziAuthor

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon


Friday, October 14, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome MK Schultz, Author of Kassius Kanex



Kassius Kanex Culinary 101


As a consumer of stories, I frequently reflect on the ingredients that are consistently present in the ones I love. Sure the story has to be interesting, but how is that achieved? The story has to be good. Well, yes! The story has to take the reader on a trip of the mind. Of course it does! The scenes must contain all, or at least some of the genres of action, comedy, drama, suspense and horror. The story must intrigue, interest, bewilder, sadden, anger or cheer the consumer, regardless of the medium - film, score, theatre, audiobook or the written word. How does it achieve this? What is that most important ingredient - the holy grail of story, or so to say? Character investment! The viewer, the listener and the reader must become invested and they must come to care about what happens to the characters. They must laugh at their jokes, they must cry when they suffer and they must cheer when they succeed. There are an endless multitude of ways readers become invested in characters. One of those ways can be answered by the question, “But what are they eating?”

Enter the protagonist, Kassius Kanex. This sci-fi / thriller / horror story begins with the main character’s realization of his inability to continue spending so much time and focus on a job that does not bring him fulfillment. One of his many coping mechanisms is the preparation of his lunches for the week - all five prepared ahead of time. The simpleness and controlling nature of these lunches seem insignificant at first, but they provide a link to the ongoing theme of the coexistence of the simple and the complex as the preparation and contents of the lunch is explained in detail. The ingredients for the lunch are tuna, hot sauce, almonds, yogurt, and cottage cheese. A breakfast is also described, but then there is the fruit.

His search for the destiny he believes to be out there begins very suddenly, following a mysterious call for help. Without knowing why at the time, he intuitively places four pieces of fruit in the palm of his left hand while alone at work. The fruit - two apples and two oranges, are stacked in a pyramid form and as he walks to his desk, he ritualistically holds the fruit pyramid, outstretched as far and as high as he can in front of him, as a kind of plea to whatever god or force that may be out there. Remarkably, this call for help is answered and a path to his destiny comences.

As his new involvement with a secret organization begins to replace his current work life, the regular part of him - his family life, must continue. This is where the complex is joined with the simple. As Kassius becomes overwhelmed with his new experiences, he takes refuge in his joy of cooking in order to cope.

When he begins to question the changes he is experiencing, he starts the prep for a homemade pizza that he will cook on time for when his family comes home. In this long and therapeutic scene of the chopping and organization of the ingredients into a neat row of containers on the counter, he finds peace of mind to ponder all that is happening. The beer helps too. When his family arrives, he assembles the pizza for them and cooks it on an outdoor grill while enjoying their company. Every single step of the prep, assembling, cooking instructions and serving is explained like a cookbook, further emphasizing how food is therapy for Kassius as he struggles with change.

The food references don't stop there. Throughout the trilogy, Kassius and other characters seem to possess a love of all things culinary. From award worthy breakfasts, to homemade subs, pizzas and burritos, the theme of the simple alongside the complex continues. There are fresh caught fish prepared over a bonfire, the agave fruit, pirozhki and pineapple chicken skewers basted with bbq sauce. There is a mind blowing quiche, hot dogs, poutine, burgers and even supernatural garlic that affects time.

There are food and drink parties, breakfast meetings, family suppers and friends meeting at pubs. There is also Rock’s amazing microbrewery which provides a steady supply of the most amazing beers on the planet!

In the Kassius Kanex series, food provides a backdrop of simplicity to anchor the reader in a comfy chair to view the danger, chaos and complexity constantly unfolding around them. This chair comes with a seat belt, so buckle up because it’s one hell of a ride!


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



You can find MK here:

MKSchultz.com

Twitter @Makemali

Instagram

Books on Amazon


MK Schultz is the Canadian author of The Kassius Kanex trilogy. A father of two young adults, he lives in a wooded area in the outskirts of Ottawa. He and his wife are avid outdoor enthusiasts in all seasons. Although formally educated in Architecture, his true passion is writing. Schultz is currently writing a new, stand-alone novel in a different genre.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Claire Polders, Author of A Whale in Paris



Chantal and Papa live in Paris during the Second World War. Nazi forces occupy the French capital and steal crops from the surrounding farms to feed the German soldiers. Parisian citizens, like the characters in A Whale in Paris, invent new ways to find food and fill their stomachs. Chantal and Papa fish for salmon in the Seine at night.

Unfortunately, they’re often unsuccessful. Most days Chantal eats nothing but stale bread for breakfast. She must get by without the things she once thought essential, such as hot croissants and hazelnut macarons. But sometimes the stars align. Sometimes she and Papa catch a large fish and take it home in a bucket. Sometimes the priest of the Notre Dame gives Chantal an armload of zucchinis as a reward for working in his vegetable garden. Sometimes Papa has enough ration tickets left to buy flour and butter. Sometimes Aunt Sophie trades on the black market and brings them fresh eggs in a bundled handkerchief.

And then… then Papa bakes his super-delicious salmon quiche—Chantal’s favorite dish. The full recipe-spectacle is in the book, but let me serve you a taster here:


Papa makes the crust with flour and water, rubbing the butter in with his fingertips while singing. Singing helps the dough stay pliant and moist.

He pats the crust into a round tart tin and trims the overhanging dough with a letter opener or other object of sentimental value that doesn’t belong in a kitchen. He lights the gas oven and says, “Voilà!” like a vaudeville magician.

He bakes the salmon filet in a pan for fifteen minutes, but not before thanking the fish for jumping onto the hook. He also sautés the zucchinis with salt and herbs de Provence. The smells that circle up from the stove into Chantal’s nostrils are warm like love.

Whistling, Papa cracks the eggs into a bowl and whisks them with an eggbeater. He removes the salmon from the oven, forks it into soft steamy flakes, tastes a bite or two or three, adds pepper, and sneezes.

He stirs everything together, the salmon and zucchinis and eggs, pours the mixture into the crust, and bakes the dish for another twenty-five minutes. When the super-delicious salmon quiche is finally done, he serves it with a flourish, as though he’s created something magical.


He has. Chantal and Aunt Sophie already sit waiting around the kitchen table when Papa cuts the quiche into six pie slices. Chantal first consumes the steam coming from her plate, breathing it in; the nose must be fed before the belly. Then she eats her slice as slowly as possible, savoring every bite.

Does this make you hungry? Please read the book for more!


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


You can find Claire here:

Twitter @ClairePolders

Facebook

Books on Amazon


Thursday, September 22, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jacopo della Quercia, Author of License to Quill



I've always been more interested in what James Bond eats instead of what he drinks. The latter is pretty scripted, after all: "shaken, not stirred." I'm more intrigued by what he orders for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while crisscrossing the world. (To my surprise, Ian Fleming wrote that Bond's favorite meal was breakfast.)

This interest compelled me to pay close attention to the foods featured in my second novel, License to Quill, a spy-thriller that follows William Shakespeare as a secret agent during the Gunpowder Plot. Since the story took place during the English Renaissance, I devoured every book and video I could find on food, drink, sweets, snacks, and even breath-fresheners in Shakespeare's London. Tavern fare was particularly important for me to know since so many clandestine meetings in the book were held in pubs. 

However, I also wanted to depart from the Bond films and novels by featuring a more international menu appropriate for the book's many settings. In one chapter, for example, one of the book's major characters is treated to an elaborate Turkish breakfast at Venice's Fondaco dei Turchi. I had a delight researching that scene with the help of a next door neighbor who was a restaurant owner and Turkish. I am particularly indebted to him for making sure that I got my spelling right!


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


You can find Jacopo here:

JacopodellaQuercia.com

Twitter @Jacopo_della_Q

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Thursday, September 15, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Laura Greenwood, Author of Pumpkin Spice



What if someone had never tried ice cream before? It certainly wasn't the question I thought I'd be asking myself when I was considering what a cute date would look like for Willow and Azíl in the second book of my Cauldron Coffee Shop series, but it was the one I was faced with when I realised that as a three-thousand-year-old warlock who'd been stuck in a teapot, Azíl would never have tried ice cream. And if he had, it certainly wasn't going to be of the modern variety. 

Having a character as old as Azíl is, especially one who hasn't eaten in a long time, has certainly proved interesting when it comes to the approach of writing food into scenes. When someone comes to the modern world, it's easy to remember that they'll be surprised by modern appliances, including cars, fridges, and showers, but it's sometimes more difficult to remember that they'll also be able to try food that they've never experienced before, which is something I tried to capture within the Cauldron Coffee Shop series. 

Trying and discovering new food, flavours, and cuisines is something my partner and I try to do regularly, as well as introducing one another to the tastes of our childhoods, and it is that sense of adventure and discovery that comes across in the characters. While Azíl gets a chance to discover new things, Willow (a witch in her late twenties), gets to share the things she loves with him. And more importantly, choose some of the flavours she thinks he will love with him, even if they're not her favourite. It makes for an interesting partnership, with the two of them growing closer over the food - and the experiences they share while eating it! 

As an interesting (at least to me!) side note: I did end up researching ice cream in ancient times, and it turns out that they would save the frozen cream from the sides of storage containers and eat that like ice cream, though it doesn't have the same taste or texture as the frozen treat we enjoy!


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



You can find Laura here:








Laura is a USA Today Bestselling Author of paranormal, fantasy, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance. When she's not writing, she drinks a lot of tea, tries to resist French macarons, and works towards a diploma in Egyptology. She lives in the UK, where most of her books are set. Laura specialises in quick reads, whether you're looking for a swoonworthy romance for the bath, or an action-packed adventure for your latest journey, you'll find the perfect match amongst her books!




Cauldron Coffee Shop is an urban fantasy romance series featuring coffee shop-owning witch, Willow, as she tries to unravel the mysteries of a teapot sent to her by her best friend. 


Book 1 (Pumpkin Spice And All Things Nice) Blurb: 

When coffee shop owner, Willow, receives a mysterious teapot from her best friend, her charmed life is turned upside down.

Between the cursed warlock who thinks he's still in Ancient times, the cat who insists on coming through her window and making herself at home, and a new employee, Willow has her hands full.

Can she unravel the mess she's found herself in? And can she do it without losing her heart?


Pumpkin Spice and All Things Nice is book one of the Cauldron Coffee Shop Series, a witchy modern fantasy series with a romantic sub-plot, a mysterious teapot, and a cat who might be up to no good.

Friday, September 9, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Leigh Podgorski, Author of Desert Chimera



Desert Chimera is the first book in the Stone Quest Series, and introduces recluse, tracker, and reluctant young psychic Luke Stone and his paranormal universe. After escaping his dark nemesis, fleeing the loss of his beloved mentor crossing the country from the north woods of Michigan on foot, Luke has spent countless days in the Mojave Desert. How did he survive?

Luke is a tracker and a survivalist. He knows how to live off the land. What plants to eat, and which are poisonous. Yet the last three days, as storms raged and visions plagued him, Luke grew ragged, frayed, gaunt. Staggering out of the wind-swept, rain-soaked Panamint Mountains, Luke lurches into Eppie Falco’s Desert Inn and Café:


She knows him. The young psychic is wary, as skittish as an unbroken colt. Other people are gathered, two young women who are guests, an older man, Eppie’s handyman. They stare at him as if he is a phantasm, an eccentricity blown in by an ill will. Eppie approaches him cautiously, her hand out, palm up. She asks him if he’d like something to eat. Eggs. Toast. Coffee. The exhausted young man with a voice as raspy as sandpaper replies, “Yes, please.”

“What happened to you?” Eppie asks. Luke remains unsettled. Though seated, sipping on water now, his cobalt blue eyes never rest. “I ate something. In the desert. Something I gathered.” Eppie, startled, replies, “But how is that possible?”


Who is this woman? How does she know these things about him. Eppie pours him coffee. Hot. Black. Strong. Food is set out, and though it is obvious Luke is near starvation, he stands back, serves himself last. Eggs. Sausage. Home fries. Toast. More coffee. Manna from heaven. Food. It is as if the ravages of his flight, of the storm, of the Panamint Mountains slide away with each bite, each taste, with the comfort, the extraordinary healing power of the nourishment set before him.


Thank you for stopping by to share your food for thought, Leigh!


You can find Leigh here:



Thursday, September 1, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Perry Prete, Author of The More Things Change


Although Ethan Tenant is a fictitious City of Ottawa Paramedic, the career and the circumstances I placed him in were not. One of the situations that Ethan and his partner Tom had to deal with was how they ate while working shifts or between calls. Most Paramedics today spend very little time at base and don’t always have access to a microwave, stove, or even a fridge.

Paramedics carry their food with them unless they really enjoy take-out. Ethan and Tom would pack a lot of non-perishable foods in a soft cooler with an ice pack and stow it in a outside compartment, away from patient contact. Easy and quick food usually means processed foods or something a Paramedic can eat on the go, between calls or even while driving. Take-out food for a Paramedic is risky. As a seasoned 40-year veteran, I can’t count how many meals I paid for and never got to enjoy because we were dispatched to an emergency and the food wasn’t ready or I didn’t have time to eat and it spoiled on the floor of the rig.

Ethan’s go-to food was a granola or energy bar: quick energy, easy to open, easy to eat, even while driving through downtown traffic. Tom was more concerned about his health; he stuck to fruit and veggies in re-sealable containers. Both enjoyed a lot of coffee, with the proverbial pitstops getting in the way. Bottled water was also a necessity. If they bought sandwiches, it was something that wouldn’t go bad like a P.B. & J. And they never ate tuna fish or egg salad in the rigs.

Imagine you and friend are on a long road trip that could last twelve hours. What do you bring? Now imagine that twelve-hour road trip is at night - not a lot open, not a lot of choices. That’s what today’s Paramedics must deal with every shift. They didn’t always have time to stop and grab a healthy lunch or snack. That’s when anything easy to eat helps to calm an empty stomach.

Many readers didn’t consider some of the calls Tom and Ethan would attend, tended to kill an appetite, regardless of how hungry they were. If you want to read about those calls, pick up one of the books featuring Ethan Tenant.


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



You can find Perry here:

Twitter @PerryPreteBooks

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Thursday, August 25, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Matthew Pallamary, Author of n0thing



After winning the ESports World Cup Finals which is in essence the Super Bowl of eSports, n0thing and his winning Seal Team Zero teammates were treated to a sumptuous feast with everything they could ever want, including sensual pleasures. At their celebration party a long mahogany table held silver ice filled buckets of Red Bull, sodas, beer, shrimp, strawberries, and other fruits. Gold and silver platters of chicken, beef, turkey, ham, and an assortment of the team's favorite snacks filled the rest along with a fully stocked bar.


Todd beamed like a little boy on Christmas morning.

"Tell me this isn't totally over the top," Killjoy said eyeing the spread.

Though he appreciated the effort, seeing their favorite foods and the attention to detail displaying them struck Jordan as overkill. Todd had always done lots for them, but never anything this extravagant and to this extent, then again, this was the ESports World Cup Finals.

"Jeezus," Sureshot finally said. "Thanks Todd. You really went overboard this time. I mean, yeah, we won ESports World Cup, but this is -- is…"

"What you world champions deserve." Todd held up the trophy and shook it, then set it down and picked up a remote control, pointing it at the flat screen. "But I'm not responsible for this. Allow me to introduce your biggest sponsor and strongest supporter."

The screen flickered to life showing a man dressed in a navy blue suit, a solid red tie, and a starched white shirt. He looked stocky with square shoulders, a military styled silver brush cut, and ice blue eyes.

"Hello you amazing world champions," he said with a smile. "My name is Robert Crowley. I hope you enjoy the party I arranged for you. Because of your victory, I have an exciting offer that goes beyond your wildest imaginings, but we'll get into the details of it later. Right now I want you to have fun celebrating your victory."

A knock came on the penthouse door.

"I'll get it," Todd said, smirking.

He went to answer and came back grinning ear to ear, followed by six of the most beautiful women that Jordan had ever seen.

"Party time!" Todd said. 


All was not as it seemed as there was a sinister underlying agenda to seduce them into becoming a literal “dream team” whose mission was to go into the computer generated nightmares of battle scarred veterans to rescue them from their traumatic memories in a dreaming experience that exceeded virtual reality and pushed the boundaries of reality itself.    


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



You can find Matthew here:

MattPallamary.com

Twitter @MattPallamary

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon


Friday, June 24, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Dylan Newton, Author of All Fired Up



Don’t you hate when authors do that rotten thing to their heroines: make them too distraught to eat during the ENTIRE story? Ugh. I won’t mention names, but one specific male romance author does this so often, I won’t buy his books. This predilection of portraying women as creatures who are too constitutionally delicate to eat is toxic. So, when Shelley Workinger asked me to contribute to this blog, I was all in!

As a person with family members suffering from body dysmorphia and disordered eating, food and the portrayal of women eating is important to me as a writer. Next to crafting strong, independent, relatable heroines, being purposeful with what they eat is the next most crucial thing I do in my books. Here’s why: authors have a responsibility to combat food-related myths, especially as they relate to women. While my romantic comedies are funny, I’m deadly serious about my heroines having a balanced, healthy relationship with food. 

How Sweet It Is opens with my event-planner heroine eating wedding cake for dinner, but it also shows her accepting a Cobb salad with the hero. They drink vanilla chai lattes, eat “Pumpkin Maniac” cupcakes, and during the story’s bleak moment, my heroine is at a cafe, grabbing breakfast. Because a girl’s gotta eat.

In All Fired Up, I address body dysmorphia…but I gave the eating disorder as part of the background of the male main character. The laid-back ceramics-artist hero had a traumatic past, and he used food to channel his grief/stress. It’s the publicist heroine who has a healthy relationship with food and makes Hungarian goulash (Gulyás) for the hero as a thank you for helping her fix her grandmother’s broken fireplace tiles before taking the book’s iconic ride on a hot air balloon ride. This gulyás recipe appears as an extra at the end of the book, as it is the ultimate comfort food.

I’m thrilled by the amazing reviews for both rom-coms, including a Kirkus star, and a Booklist recommendation, and I’m proud of the purposeful eating done in my books. After all, But What Are They Eating? is one of the most important things to get right in a good novel!


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



You can find Dylan here:





Friday, April 29, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Effrosyni Moschoudi, Author of The Amulet



I was born and raised in Athens, but my parents hail from two different Greek islands. My father, from Limnos in the Northeast Aegean, and my mother, from Corfu in the Ionian Sea. As a child, I often spent my summers on these islands, Corfu mostly, and have a plethora of fond memories from big family get-togethers when my mother and my Corfiot grandmother delighted everyone with their cooking. Other times, we’d enjoy Greek food at seaside tavernas and, instead of dessert, we’d all treat ourselves to some Syrtaki dancing for afters!

When it came to writing novels, naturally, I wound up setting them all at the seaside, in tiny villages such as the ones I’ve known all my life firsthand. And I filled my stories with references to delicious Greek meals that are typically enjoyed in quaint tavernas on the shore.

The Amulet is no exception, and, actually, I may have overdone it in that one! The heroine, Katie, leaves a stressful office job in Athens to start a new life at a much slower pace on the island of Sifnos, in the postcard-perfect Cyclades, working as a receptionist in a small family hotel on the beach. 

The hotel cook, a middle-aged lady called Eva, often makes Katie feel ravenous at reception, seeing that heavenly smells of cooked food tend to waft to her desk from the kitchen, where Eva is forever busy creating one culinary triumph after another. Eva and Katie enjoy their meals together in the kitchen while, more often than not, discussing Aggelos, the quirky young man who’s stolen Katie’s heart, and who, unbeknownst to her, is not a man per se… but a guardian angel.

But that’s another story… So, anyway, the owner of the hotel, Mr Spyros, often comes in to chat with the two women while taking the opportunity to sample Eva’s cooking, like cheese-filled biftekis, spinach pies in phyllo pastry, and freshly baked muffins. The latter he has to gobble up pretty quickly, seeing that his wife, the rather bossy Mrs Matina, watches him hawk-eyed, as he is supposed to be on a diet. Again.

But, the most appreciative of Eva’s cooking turns out to be a mysterious little girl called Chloe… Her first encounter with Eva and Katie is rather awkward – seeing that she’d sneaked into the kitchen when no one was in, and they caught her eating from Eva’s newly baked moussaka. In her defense, she was very hungry… Plus, it was her favorite meal in the whole wide world… 


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your food for thought, Effrosyni!



You can find Effrosyni here:

EffrosyniWrites.com

Twitter @FrostieMoss

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon


 

Effrosyni Moschoudi was born and raised in Athens, Greece. As a child, she loved to sit alone in her garden scribbling rhymes about flowers, butterflies and ants. Today, she writes books for the romantic at heart. She lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens with a British husband, two naughty cats, and a staggering amount of books and DVDs. Her little town is heavenly enough, yet her mind forever drifts to her beloved island of Corfu.

The Ebb, her new adult romance that was inspired from her summers in Corfu in the 1980s, is an ABNA Q-Finalist. Her debut novel, The Necklace of Goddess Athena, won a silver medal in the 2017 book awards of Readers’ Favorite. Her ghost romance novella, The Boy on the Bridge, was a Top 10 winner in the “50 Best Indie Books” awards of Readfree.ly in 2021.

What others say about Effrosyni’s books:

“Effrosyni layers her words on the page like music.”
~Jackie Weger, author of The House on Persimmon Road

“Very few writers have such a gift for realism.”
~Kelly Smith Reviews

Go here to grab FREE books by this author: http://effrosyniwrites.com/free-stuff/





Friday, April 22, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Janni Nell, Author of Broomsticks, Buns & Murder



I love using food to help readers get to know my characters better. When I decided to set the opening scene of Broomsticks, Buns & Murder in a restaurant, I knew the food choices of the three dinner companions would be important. Each food choice had to match the character’s personality. With this in mind, I studied a lot of menus before I made my final choices. Since I write mysteries, I thought it would be fun to make this post a mini-mystery. So, here goes. The three meals I finally settled on were seafood pasta, Alaskan halibut with salad and Wagyu beef.

Based on the following character descriptions, can you guess which character ordered which meal? (Answers below.*)


The businessman

He’s the self-indulgent owner of a chain of bakeries with an ego bigger than his waistline. He enjoys nothing better than buying other people’s successful bakeries to add to his chain. It doesn’t bother him if he has to pressure the owners to sell.

The mayor’s wife

Actually, she’s the mayor’s second—some might call her a trophy—wife. Devoted to her husband, she takes the duties of a mayor’s wife very seriously especially when it comes to her appearance. She loves designer clothes and is never seen without perfect makeup and hair. Her hobby is adding to her collection of diamond jewelry.

The witch

She runs a shop in town that sells potions and spells. At twenty-nine years old, she has discovered a talent for solving mysteries. Although she hasn’t gotten around to marriage, she does have a cute boyfriend. She enjoys food and has never met a carb she didn’t love. 


It was fun researching menus for this scene and I spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of meal I’d order. It would definitely be some kind of seafood—probably lobster—followed by a dessert featuring chocolate. If you were treated to a meal in an upmarket restaurant, what would you choose?


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



You can find Janni here:


JanniNell.com

Facebook Page

Books on Amazon



Janni Nell is the author of the Little Shop of Spells cozy mystery series. Before she became a writer, she worked as a personal assistant, receptionist and salesclerk. Now she is happy to spend every day creating stories. When she isn’t writing, you can find her at dance class, Pilates or in the garden. She is hard at work on her next book.


*If you guessed the businessman had Wagyu beef, the mayor’s wife had Alaskan halibut with salad and the witch had seafood pasta, you’re absolutely correct.


Thursday, April 14, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Michael Murphy, Author of The Yankee Club



I met my first ex-wife in The Yankee Club, but I don’t hold it against the place. For my dough, it’s the best speakeasy in Queens. To my surprise it’s not too crowded for a Friday night in the spring of 1933.

I know the knock. A panel in the door slides open, and I’m greeted by a familiar face the size of a hubcap. Fights are kept to a minimum by this broad-shouldered brute who gives me the once over and let’s me inside.

It’s a smoke-filled joint, but the three-piece band’s the greatest and singer’s not half bad. The food’s good. The drinks are too, none of that watered down stuff you sometimes get in a cheap dive. The club’s a good mix of regulars like me, and high-society types. Last time I dropped in, Babe Ruth was buying drinks for Cole Porter and his Broadway friends.  

The owner, Gino is sitting at the bar in a fancy tux. He’s smoking a cigar and giving the eye to a brunette in a backless red satin dress. I spot an empty table near the dance floor and pass bombshell actress Laura Wilson, dressed to the nines, on the arm of gumshoe turned writer Jake Donovan.

I take a seat and buy a pack of smokes from Stella, a blonde cigarette girl I used to date. I tip her a fin, and she gives me a wink, so I know there’s no hard feelings.

The waiter, with an Adams apple the size of a baseball, is making his way to my table with my usual, without me asking, another reason I love this place. He sets the plate of finger food and a highball on the table flashing a smile. “Welcome to The Yankee Club.”


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



You can find Michael here:

Penguin Random House

Twitter @mmurfy68

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, April 8, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Margaret Mizushima, Author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries


My Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries feature K-9 Deputy Mattie Cobb, her four-legged partner Robo, and Cole Walker, Robo’s veterinarian and Mattie’s love interest. Together they investigate and solve crimes in their Colorado mountain community. But in the midst of all the murder and mayhem in that small town, Mattie does take time to eat, and the one person she loves to sit down and share a meal with is Mama T, her childhood foster mom.

As a Latina who has raised many children, Mama T infuses lots of love in the food she cooks. After a hard day, Mattie might stop by to check on her mama, and she’ll take home a bowl of green chili with pork laced with love, as well as a package of warm homemade tortillas fresh from the skillet. (See my husband’s version of green chili below.)

On a Sunday morning, Mattie will share some quiet time with Mama T before her current set of foster kids wake up. They feast on one of Mattie’s favorite meals, huevos rancheros with green chili sauce. 

In Burning Ridge, the fourth book in the series, an older foster daughter returns to Timber Creek to visit Mama T. Mattie joins them in her foster mother’s kitchen so the three of them can make tamales together, a ritual that speaks of love from their childhood. This scene takes place shortly before a killer from her past stalks Mattie and kidnaps her, taking her to a cave in the mountains where he tries to force her into giving him information she doesn’t even know.

Mattie is involved in plenty of action scenes in which she and Robo work together. They might be searching the high country for a missing person or tracking down a fugitive. They search for evidence at crime scenes and sweep vehicles for drugs. They might follow trails for miles to take down killers. It’s a good thing that Mattie fuels her body with good food, so she has the energy to keep up with her dog.

There are currently seven mysteries in the Timber Creek K-9 series, starting with Killing Trail, which introduces Mattie and Robo, Mama T, Cole Walker, and all the people who work at the Timber Creek County Sheriff’s Department. I invite you to enter the lives of some good folks who work hard to protect their community, to get to know what’s important to them, and to also answer the question—but what are they eating?


My husband’s recipe: Mama T’s Green Chili with Pork

4 lbs. pork roast, shoulder or butt

1 large can peeled chili peppers

1 small can adobo

1 diced bell pepper

1 large chopped onion

2 large cans diced tomatoes

1 small can tomato paste

2 cloves minced garlic

1 t. ground cumin

1 t. salt

¼ t. black pepper

½ t. red pepper flakes

1 T. chili powder

(Seasonings may be adjusted for desired spiciness)

Slow cook for four hours. Shred pork. Serve with tortillas and enjoy.


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your food for thought, Margaret!



You can find Margaret here:

MargaretMizushima.com

Twitter @margmizu

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon




Margaret Mizushima writes the award winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. She serves as immediate past president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and was elected Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writes. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and and a multitude of animals. 

Friday, March 25, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Linda Mims, Author of The Neon Houses



The Neon Houses, set in 2071, depicts two worlds. One world shows a food desert where food is genetically modified, dehydrated, plant-based and powdered, if there’s food at all. The other world is a cornucopia of real animal meat, vegetables, poultry, eggs, fish, and fruit.

The main character, Noel Kennedy, has her feet planted in both worlds and is unapologetically sympathetic to the needs of citizens who have barely enough to eat. In fact, when we first meet her flying her autoplane to the family home of a recently murdered girl, she’s leaning out the passenger window yelling bloody murder at a thief who has just snatched a bag of groceries from an old man.

Back home at the annual barbeque she and her husband host, we see disks laden with platters of smoked meats, grilled vegetables, desserts, and other delectables, sailing through the air. Guests use remote controls to land a disk, or they summon humanoids to take their orders.

This scene is two-fold, lavishly contrasting the two societies, and setting the stage for the next murder.

Heroine Noel goes up against Warren Simpson, a cunning and ruthless villain, who rules the land on the outskirts of her city. He is a murderer, thief, and the purveyor of illegal goods. Yet, when his nephew is set up as a murderer, Warren discards that theory. The kid isn’t like him, and murder is the farthest thing from the kid’s nature. 

Simpson gathers his family around the dining room table to debate murder, set-ups, and surveillance. Readers see dishes of roast beef, whipped potatoes and gravy, green beans, fresh tomatoes, and warm bread spread out on a snowy tablecloth. Warren’s wives, their children, and his wayward nephew surround him. When the food isn’t served quick enough, his nephew makes smacking sounds and salivates over the mashed potatoes and gravy. Simpson cuffs him lightly. The scene is normal, almost endearing, and allows us to see the human side of the villain. 

In undeniable New Chicago tradition, soy-dog stands, and taco stands dot the area near downtown. When a call comes over the radio warning Noel that crooks have spotted her and her husband scouting the primary suspect, they’re eating at a taco stand under the on-ramp of the Kennedy Expressway. Before they hightail it out of the area, my heroine takes a moment to wipe taco sauce from her husband’s mouth.

It’s 50 years into the future and the world has changed, but food, family, and gatherings remain the same—maybe more for my sense of normalcy than the characters’.


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



You can find Linda here:


LindaMims.com

Twitter @boom_lyn

Goodreads Page


Thursday, March 17, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Elizabeth McKenna, Author of The Great Jewel Robbery



In real life, food and drink often set the mood and enhance the memories of any moment in time. When I think of my teen years, I remember eating french fries and drinking diet coke with my girlfriends at the lake when we were supposed to be in class. For my twenties, it’s greasy breakfast food at a dirty diner after bars. In my thirties, it’s me sweating over the menu for family gatherings that will please both adults and toddlers. (By my forties and fifties, I was too exhausted to care, but that’s another story!)

And just like in real life, authors incorporate food and drink to enhance a scene. Besides describing the physical setting, what the characters eat or drink can help the reader better connect with the characters and, thus, the story. In my cozy mystery, The Great Jewel Robbery, what my characters eat is a deliberate decision on my part and often shows a part of their personality.

Emma, the main character, and Grace, her sidekick, have been best friends since college despite being from different worlds. Emma grew up with her mom in a modest home, while Grace grew up with the super-wealthy of Chicago. Edging toward their late-twenties, they are both reporters for the Chicago Tribune, though Emma covers Sports and Grace writes for the Life & Style section of the paper. They are spending the weekend at a lakeside mansion so that Grace can cover a black-tie charity event hosted by a good friend of her parents. Everyone is having a great time until the last item to be auctioned off—a multimillion-dollar necklace—is stolen.

Grace’s boyfriend was initially supposed to be her date for the weekend, but Emma became her plus one due to the couple breaking up. Emma frets over going because, though she loves Grace like a sister, she isn’t comfortable at fancy parties. The reader first sees this when the women stop at a mini-mart to buy snacks for their hotel room. Emma plans to buy a glazed donut, but another customer buys it first. When she complains to Grace, her friend is confused:

“Emma,” she said in her best schoolmarm voice. “You realize that Chef Porter will be laying out a whole table of luscious desserts for us to gorge ourselves on tonight?”

I did, but I didn’t know how to tell Grace that sometimes the frou-frou desserts of her people turned me off. Sometimes a girl just wanted a glazed donut. It was safe and comforting, and right now, I needed all the comfort I could get.

I also use food in my cozy mystery to show the conflict between two siblings. Edward Braun, a frequent name in the Business section of the Trib, is the host for the charity event and owner of the newly restored 1901 Bedford limestone mansion. Unfortunately, his younger brother Walter has not found the financial success that Edward has. Walter owns over thirty hot dog stands in Chicago but has never been embraced by high society. He openly resents the snub, and the brothers rarely pass up an opportunity to insult one another. 

During a scene before the gala is to begin, Walter criticizes Chef Porter’s cooking and predicts that the charity event will be a disaster. Edward can’t resist putting Walter in his place:

Edward tapped a finger on his lips and pretended to be in deep thought. “Chef Porter, do you have any yellow mustard? Maybe that will satisfy my little brother’s epicurean taste.”

Minor characters also interact with food to enforce their personalities. Edward’s son Jackson has brought Charlotte as his date. She’s beautiful with a perfect figure and also dismissive of everyone around her. Despite several buffet tables of gourmet food, Jackson brings her a small plate of raw vegetables. Charlotte is like the food she prefers—cold and hard.

If you like cozy mysteries, I hope you will give The Great Jewel Robbery a try. The series continues with Murder Up To Bat, where Emma and Grace need to prove their best friend didn’t kill a local softball coach. Book 2 will hopefully be available in 2022. 

Please visit my website or Amazon Author page to see the other books that I’ve written. If you like romances or mysteries, you might find your next great read!

Thank you for having me on your blog, Shelley!


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your food for thought, Elizabeth!



You can find Elizabeth here:

ElizabethMcKenna.com

Twitter @ElizaMcKenna

Facebook Fan Page

Instagram

Books on Amazon



Elizabeth McKenna’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King’s horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

Her novels reflect her mercurial temperament and include historical romances, contemporary romances, cozy mysteries, and dark mysteries. With some being “clean” and some being “naughty,” she has a book for your every mood.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband and Sidney, the rescue dog from Tennessee. When she isn’t writing, reading, editing, or walking the dog that never tires, she’s sleeping.