Friday, April 26, 2024

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Julie Valerie, Author of Holly Banks Full of Angst



Holly Banks, married film school graduate and mom to five-year-old Ella, is a less-than-perfect mom searching for mostly happy in a pretty good life. But there’s a problem. New to the idyllic Village of Primm, in Holly Banks Full of Angst (Book 1 in the Village of Primm series), Holly is experiencing the worst week—ever.

But what is she eating?

In Chapter 12, during a school yard chase between Holly and the megalomaniacal Mary-Margaret St. James, Holly’s mouth is stuffed with Mary-Margaret’s peckled peanut butter cookies. Cookies, that later give her food poisoning…

Holly pushed another cookie into her mouth. Tossed the box. Mary-Margaret ran, and Holly gave chase, two women wearing the wrong kind of footwear. They ran like platypuses, strange creatures with appendages that baffled the observer and only seemed to get in the way. The limited circumference of Mary-Margaret’s pink pencil skirt compromised her running stride—legs chopping across the field like blades on scissors, feet sharpening to points in a pair of sling-back heels. Holly’s sports bra and piggy pajamas made her the dancing queen, but she had to curl every muscle in her toes to keep her flip-flops from falling off. Never mind that her mouth was chock full of peckled peanut butter cookies. It hurt to run with toes clenched in a fist; Holly’s shoes kept slipping off. She improvised by running with a sideways gait, like a lumbering giant, the way the Hunchback of Notre Dame would run if given the chance and inspiration. 

In Chapter 14, Holly’s sure her husband is eating what he always eats at Wendy’s: a number one single combo—no cheese, no onions—medium size with a Dr Pepper. But while Jack’s peppering his fries, his boss Bethanny is reaching across her salad to help herself to one of his fries... 

Holly whipped, a safe distance for spying, into a parking space and then, through the restaurant window, watched them eat as if she were watching a movie at an outdoor drive-in theater. Holly became Jennifer Aniston, with no popcorn but a front-row seat, as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie ate their seductive dinner in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Everyone knew what came next for Brad and Angelina in that movie: gunfire, hot sex, and an explosion that literally blew their house off its foundation. Fifty million in box office sales opening weekend. Worldwide sales of over 475 million. Jennifer? Her Hollywood ending? Not so good. And okay, it didn’t work out for Brad and Angelina either. Which proved there were no winners when a dinner like that was eaten. Was Holly jumping to conclusions? Or witnessing something she’d sensed but didn’t want to face? Was it true what they said? You knew when you knew? Because Holly knew Jack. Jack ordered a Wendy’s number one single combo—no cheese, no onions—medium size with a Dr Pepper, but was that “just” a meal? Or was that a combo meal?

And in Chapter 8, where we meet Online Psychic Betty, who gives Holly unconventional advice through late night emails, emails that always end with seafood promotions at the mysterious Dizzy’s Seafood (Click HERE for half-priced shrimp), the “What are they eating?” question is answered, this time, with a drink. 

EMAIL—Time Received: 2:24 a.m.

TO: Holly Banks

FROM: Psychic Betty, Psychic Hotline Network

SUBJECT: Your FREE “Ask the Psychic” Question

Today’s planetary alignment gives you the ability to make wise choices and seek useful information. Thank you for submitting a question to the Psychic Hotline Network. I am Psychic Betty, your online psychic. Exercise extreme caution if your child starts kindergarten between August 20 and September 10. But other than that, the answer is: NO. The universe does NOT have a secret power you can tap to help you cope with your child starting kindergarten. Have you tried vodka?

Don’t be a clod. Eat beer-battered Cod!

—Psychic Betty

Click HERE to ask another question.

Click HERE for coupons to Dizzy’s Seafood.


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



You can find Julie here:

JulieValerie.com

Twitter @Julie_Valerie

Facebook Page

Books on Amazon



Julie Valerie, an avid Scrabble player who once played QWERTY on a triple word, writes humorous women’s fiction and is currently writing her third novel. Holly Banks Full of Angst and the second novel in the series, The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks, feature continuing characters and can be read sequentially or as separate, independent, standalone novels. 

Friday, April 19, 2024

FOODFIC: Please Welcome D.J. Green, Author of No More Empty Spaces



A Taste of Turkey—The Country, Not the Bird

Will Ross had his first taste of adventure, and foreign cuisine, as a teenager serving as a Marine combat medic during the Korean War. That experience whetted his appetite for more—adventure, and flavors of places far and wide.

It’s 1973 when No More Empty Spaces opens, and Will, who is now an engineering geologist, has landed a job in Turkey where he’ll work on the construction of a troubled dam. And what are his first impressions?—the smells and tastes of Turkish food as he walks Ankara’s streets on his way to his first day on the job. The tangy scents of spices on roasting meat capture his imagination for future meals, and it seems the guy who loves food that makes him sweat has come to the right place. Fiery Adana kebabs will become Will’s favorite dish. On the same walk, though he doesn’t usually eat breakfast, the yeasty aroma of freshly baked bread in one bakery after another draws him in to the next one he comes to, where he tries a warm-from-the oven, chewy, and ever-so-slightly savory roll. As he chews it, he can’t help but compare it to the tasteless and textureless (unless you consider ‘marshmallow’ a texture) white bread from the grocery shelves back in the States.


But that is only the beginning, as Will and his family sample countless new foods and drinks from fruit (the apricots Turkey is famous for) to nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts, and almonds, oh my!) on their adventures in Anatolia. Two treats the family will talk about for years are the honey-rich baklava made in Gaziantep filled with the small, sweet pistachios grown there (a highlight of the local food movement before there even was one) and the ice cream like none other in the world, Kahraman MariƟ
dondurma, made with flour from the roots of wild orchids that gives it a thick and pleasantly gooey quality as it flows across your tongue. And then there’s the Turkish coffee.



So, it is the taste of the country, not the bird, that you’ll find in the Ross family’s story, though Will always remembers his four-year-old daughter’s reaction when she found out they were making the trip—how she’d skipped across the lawn, shouting, “A ’benture! Turkey! Gobble, gobble, gobble!”


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


You can find DJ here:

GeologistWriter.com

Facebook 

Instagram

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Bookbub


D. J. Green is a writer, geologist, and sailor, as well as a bookseller and partner in Bookworks, an independent bookstore in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She lives near the Sandia Mountains in Placitas, New Mexico, and cruises the Salish Sea on her sailboat during the summers. No More Empty Spaces is her first novel. She is currently working on her second novel, Chances, the story of woman taking the helm of her life as she learns to command the helm of sailboat, as told by the intrepid boat dog who is her First Mate. Read more of D. J.’s writing on her website, www.geologistwriter.com.


Friday, April 12, 2024

FOODFIC: Please Welcome KJ Waters, Author of Killing Time


Imagine stepping back in time to ride a horse in the Texas plains in the late eighteen-hundreds. Can you feel the grit between your teeth? A sprinkling of that same dusty landscape served in the bowl of bison and beans, the scent of the campfire intertwining among the other flavors as you eat out of a tin cup. 

In my latest time travel novel, Killing Time, I capture this scene just outside of Sterling Texas in 1872. For me the setting holds the danger and excitement of the time in post-civil war America when the Native Americans held tight to their remaining land.

As a fun twist, I’ve put Ronnie Andrews, the time traveler, in the clutches of Jesse and Frank James who are part of a rescue party retrieving Ronnie from the clutches of the Comanches. Jesse and Frank were in Texas during that time hiding out from the Missouri law under the pseudonyms of Jere Miah and Ben. 


Soon the sun grew tired and lay along the soft plains, ready for a long night’s rest. They stopped to make camp. The stars above spoke of another time and place, for they shone in such abundance it hardly looked like the night sky she knew. 

By all appearances, these men had slept out in the open air too many times to count. Each man knew his role. They unsaddled horses and set up camp. Ronnie wondered what they could possibly use for a fire, since there was not a tree in sight. 

“Sit right there so Jere Miah can keep an eye on you.” Ben pointed at a blanket near the man making a fire. “I don’t mean to be harsh to you on account of your tumultuous day. But if we’re all going to get back alive, you need to follow some rules.” Ben spoke sternly, counting on his fingers with each point he made. “First, do not leave camp unattended. Second, do not make loud noises. All our lives are at stake here. The noise carries across the plains, and they’ll be on us in no time.” He flattened down his mustache and fixed her with a hard stare.

Ronnie nodded, wishing for her own bed instead of the dangerous open sky. 

Ben pointed at a scruffy blondish man. “Now you get comfortable, and Jere Miah will get some vittles ready.”

Jere Miah blinked rapidly, his mouth tight showing his disapproval. The unevenness of his ears gave him a young, comical look, but hard steel shone in his eyes, providing a disturbing contrast, like the killer clown in a horror movie. Not so funny. She watched him build the fire with dark, oddly shaped kindling. Soon the fire blazed with dry grass as the final ingredient. 

Ronnie was curious. “Jere Miah, what are you using for firewood there? I didn’t see a branch anywhere around.” 

He kicked a loose chip with his boot to shove it under the others in the pile under the flames. “Ma’am, we use dried buffalo chips. They’re all over these parts.” 

The only odor was smoke and a slight scent of burning grass. “I didn’t know you could burn that.” 

Jere Miah nodded as he set a pot on the flames and emptied a nearby canteen into it. When the water boiled, he emptied a dark substance into it from a small burlap sack. The scent of strong coffee gave away the contents. In another pot, Jere Miah emptied several cans of beans and stirred it with a knife. Soon the other men gathered around the fire and ate from their saddlebags waiting for the meal.

Gary approached from the darkness and handed Jere Miah a bundle wrapped in leather. It was a huge chunk of meat from an injured bison they’d encountered at the watering hole. He sliced off several dozen inch wide cubes and dumped them into the beans, stirring again with the knife. Gary wrapped the remaining meat and carried it off.

Max handed her a biscuit, and she bit into it, nearly breaking a tooth. “Careful, it’s hardtack.” It tasted like a very stale saltine.

The sun had set, and the only light was from the fire that threw shadows all around, adding an unsettling, ethereal feel to the camp. The horses were nearby, as evidenced by the occasional snort. When the coffee boiled and sat for a spell, the men dipped tin cups in the pot, coming away with grounds sticking to the edges. 

The men were quiet, but finally Gary spoke up. “Look, we’re almost home. Let’s be grateful that Rose is okay, and we didn’t lose Max.” 

A few men nodded. Jere Miah held a hand out for each man’s tin cup and ladled the chow, filling it to the brim.

Ronnie was handed a cup and spoon for her first hot meal of the day. She waited for it to cool, half listening to their conversation while lost in her own frightening thoughts of the earlier attack. It smelled good, but she was hungry enough to eat it, regardless of taste. 

A tentative bite of the hot, fragrant food left her wanting more. Ben set the hardtack in the cup soaking up the juices. Ronnie copied him and was glad for it. There were only so many beans she wanted in her system. The dried biscuit softened nicely and did enough to fill her belly, tasting a lot like a saltine cracker. The few chunks of buffalo meat were tough, but flavorful. Soon she was too sleepy to keep her eyes open and lay back, gathering the blanket around her. 

It was a small comfort to hear the male voices telling stories around the fire as she drifted off to sleep. Just before she dozed off, she said a prayer for their safety.


One thing I love about writing time travel stories is I can dive into the past, exploring the clothing, living conditions, and what food was important in those times. Those details bring stories to life. In my time travel series, Stealing Time, I send Ronnie Andrews back through the eye of a hurricane to different centuries, each fraught with dangers of the time. 


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



You can find KJ here:

KJWaters.com                Instagram

Twitter @KJWatersAuthor           TikTok    

Facebook Fan Page          Pinterest    

Books on Amazon            Goodreads



KJ Waters is the international best-selling author of the Stealing Time Series (Stealing Time, Shattering Time, Killing Time) and the short story Blow. Her books are described as “breathtakingly original,” with “edge of your seat” action, and “characters are so well-written that they seem like real people.” Her books are often found on the Amazon best seller list next to Outlander and Michael Crichton’s Dragon’s Teeth. 

In addition to her writing, she is the runs KJ Waters Consultancy providing author consulting services covering branding, social media, and publishing. For free chapters and giveaways, visit her website at kjwaters.com. 

Friday, April 5, 2024

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Thomas Reed, Author of Pocketful of Poseys


If my dark family comedy, Pocketful of Poseys, had a subtitle, it could almost be “But what aren’t they eating?” After a grueling struggle with Parkinson’s disease, Cinny Posey, charter member of Woodstock Nation, refuses all food and drink. Her adult children, Grace and Brian, finally embrace her exit strategy, but staff at Cinny’s healthcare facility struggle letting her dwindle. The chef is famous for his delectable homestyle meatloaf, served the first Tuesday of every month. There’s even a local story about an elderly woman, comatose for three days, who, as one first Tuesday progressed, grew more and more alert until she finally awoke, rose from her bed, slipped on a pair of tattered mules, and trundled down the hallway behind her walker in hot pursuit of the beckoning aroma. When, years later, a well-meaning but ill-advised attendant brings Cinny a cup of pureed meatloaf, she provokes a major spat with Grace, who knows her mother’s eating anything would represent a huge step backwards. Sometimes family love is not about home-cooked meals!

Other than Cinny, naturally, my characters do eat. Jetting around the globe fulfilling Cinny’s dying wish—to sprinkle her and husband Frank’s ashes in a half-dozen international locations—they relish local cuisines at every waystation: e.g. Stonegrill and pavlova in New Zealand, tiramisu in Italy, fondue in Switzerland. Actually, they ate so much in my early drafts that my title could have been “Tableful of Poseys.” It’s a lively book about challenging travel, featuring some wild adventures, but much of the story unfolds through conversation of the “family table-talk” sort. I just needed to move some of the revealing chit-chat outdoors, up mountains, along rivers, aboard planes and trains, even up at rooftop bars.

Desserts have places of honor on the Pocketful menu. Cinny and Frank founded a student co-op at college in the late ‘60s—said to have hosted two banquets a year where guests stripped at the door and ate dessert off each other’s naked abs. Cinny’s son Brian is fascinated by the possibility; Grace is mortified. This is finally a book about growing up, by fits and starts, over the course of multiple decades. Grace’s daughter, Chelsea, adored tiramisu as a child, dubbing it “teary measles.” When the book brings the extended family to Rome, “teary measles” re-emerges in a trenchant dinner-table scene that questions whether parents can ever see their offspring as full adults. Those “just-the-cutest-things” that adults treasure as a way to hold onto their babies so often turn on the intake (and output!) of food. (My infant daughter used to put her grilled cheese sandwiches on top of her head and grin insanely!) It’s striking how often those charming foibles get dredged up at Thanksgiving and Christmastime meals—dependably mortifying the former kids. Family diners beware!

They say we are what we eat. Maybe you can’t write a compelling family saga without touching on what we do—and don’t—put into our collective mouths.


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



You can find Tom here:

ThomasReedAuthor.com

Goodreads

Books on Amazon