Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Gifts - Books, Of Course!

Happy Holidays, Hungry Readers!

Instead of giving you the same-old best-seller list of gift suggestions, I thought I'd make this year's post a little more personal and share which books my family will be giving/receiving. Maybe you'll find one of them to be a good gift for someone you know as well. :)

The Guinness World Records 2017 edition is for the boy child, but it always turns into a full-family gift as he reads aloud every. single. record. Mostly interesting for all, but beware this is not for the faint of heart; many of the bug and FOOD records can be quite disgusting!

The American Girl Guide is for the girl child because, like any fictional character, even the dolls have extensive back-stories. More history = deeper understanding = more imaginative and intelligent play!

Harry Potter #4 is for my husband, the most-behindest reader of all time. ;) We have a family rule that we can't watch a film until we've read the book and he REALLY wants to catch up to the rest of us with the movies, so now he can use the vacation week to crack this spine!

As for me, I have asked for - and hopefully not delusionally expect to recieve - The Bible as read by James Earl Jones. This tome of all tomes has been on my TBR list since really the beginning of days but its sheer size has kept it anchoring the bottom of the pile. But then, Totes Magotes!, I find a version that will be read to me by the greatest narrator* of all time?! It's the only item on my Santa list and I have been VERY good this year...

Be sure and let me know the best reads you give and receive this holiday season; 

Happy Holidays to All and to All a Good Read!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Kathy LaMee, Author of Tansy Taylor Paranormal P.I.

I’m a total food junkie, or foodie, so there is always food in my books. We use food as a culture in so many ways, so it’s only natural to draw that into stories. I’ll be honest - it’s been a few years since I wrote the first Tansy - so I was struggling to remember all of the foodie bits in the book. So what does one do when they can’t remember? They open their Kindle Cloud Reader and use the trusty Cntrl+F to find the food! Wow, was there a lot of food!

First, a little insight into Tansy’s story. She’s a twenty-something soul who is sort of lost, wandering from bad love interest to bad love interest and working at a psychic hotline call center. She really has an ethical problem with her job and the way she is expected to lead customers on, so when she gets fired for being too helpful to a caller, she isn’t surprised. She ends up meeting the caller, Callie, and begins the quest to help figure out what has happened to Callie’s missing boyfriend Buster, a shady car dealer’s wash bay guy. She ends up discovering a lot about her newly discovered talent - that she not only can do some aura reading but can actually see and talk with the recently departed as she unravels the facts behind Buster’s disappearance.

Tansy has food around her ALL the time. Her roommate and best friend is a designer, who also happens to work magic with pastries and other treats in the kitchen. Often, the sweet sultry smell of baked goods and freshly made coffee entices Tansy to get on with her day, no matter the trouble she’s gotten into the night before!  Her love of baked goods doesn’t stop there though - she digs into scones and muffins several times in Dixie’s Diner, where her client Callie works as a waitress. Speaking of diner food, nothing makes Tansy or me happier than walking into a diner. My stomach rumbles when I hear the jingle of the little bell on the door (they all have them, right??) and it induces a Pavlovian response that makes my mouth wonder at the treats in store. I discovered in my early thirties that I absolutely love Reuben sandwiches; I mean, who would think that corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a thick slather of Thousand Island dressing on rye would be so unbelievably tasty? On their own I actually do not like any of these foods, but put them together and crazy magic happens. I counted six times in Tansy’s first story that the Reuben is either mentioned or consumed, usually with a bag of locally made potato chips. Perfection on a plate!

As Tansy works her case to discover what has happened to Buster and grapples with the fact that she can talk to dead people, she converses and muses often, all while enjoying something tasty at the diner, her kitchen, or a picnic in the park. I think that food is a natural binder- it’s there when we have conversations over dinner, or meet up for drinks. Food can also be a way to show someone affection - I mean, who doesn’t love to have someone special bring them a tasty treat or a cup of their favorite coffee drink? What we eat or the type of drink we order says a lot about a person, in my opinion, and I find it a great way to bring characters to life in the stories we tell.

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

You can find Kathy here:

Friday, December 9, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Tony Macaulay, Author of All Growed Up

In my memoir All Growed Up, it’s 1982 and I leave my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland for the first time in my life to begin a ‘coming of age’ adventure of learning as an eighteen year old student at university. One particular chapter of the book serves up the flavours of traditional Irish food. In Go Wild in the Country I tell the story of my first visit to my new girlfriend’s house in a small rural village in the middle of Northern Ireland. I meet the lovely Lesley’s mother who is very warm, friendly and hospitable and more importantly, a legend in her own kitchen. However, like every good Irish Mammy when it comes to offering the best of food to a guest, she cannot take no for an answer. The repercussions are most embarrassing!

There are two main Irish foodstuffs involved in this unfortunate incident, one sweet and one savoury. The sweets are the typical fare baked in every self-respecting kitchen in Northern Ireland and produced alongside a nice cup of tea on all occasions. A ‘pavlova’ is an egg and sugar based dish, a monumental meringue smothered in fresh cream. Meanwhile ‘caramel squares’ are biscuit based square shaped cookies with a delightful layer of caramel and chocolate on top. Here’s what happened when I entered my girlfriend’s mother’s kitchen:

She placed one of her Himalayan pavlovas in the middle of the table and my mouth watered instantly. Then she surrounded the pavlova with a series of smaller plates containing geometrically perfect caramel squares, freshly baked fruit scones with butter and jam and a plate of chocolate biscuits from a good tin…

The supply of food continued all day long:

‘Have another piece of pavlova,’ said Mummy
‘No, thank you, I think I’m full up now,’ I replied.
‘Och sure go on, you would, you could, you should’ said Mummy.
‘Okay, thanks, you’ve persuaded me, please,’ I responded with the utmost courtesy.
‘Now, have another scone, Tony,’ said Mummy.
‘Oh no, thank you, really I couldn’t, I’m full up now. It’s all so lovely, thank you.’ 
‘Och, none of that, you will, you can, you should, sure you’re a growing boy,’ said Mummy, clearly not expecting ‘No’ for an answer. 
All of this food was delicious and I enjoyed being spoilt in this way, but I wondered if I would be permitted to stop eating before all the plates were empty.

The savoury dish that features in this chapter of my book is the iconic Northern Ireland breakfast, known locally as an Ulster Fry. As the name suggests this is a hot fried breakfast, not known for its health benefits. In fact an Ulster Fry is also known locally as ‘a heart attack on a plate.’ The dish consists of fried eggs, sausages, bacon, black pudding and mushrooms. An essential element of the Ulster Fry is the addition of two distinctive Irish breads, soda and potato farls, fried of course. This large breakfast plate is usually completed with a dollop of tomato ketchup or HP Brown Sauce. Normally, it’s a very satisfying breakfast on the weekend, but on this occasion it was simply too much to handle!

I sat down amid the activity and cooking and frying smells but all of a sudden I began to feel sick. I was surrounded by the makings of the perfect Ulster Fry, a massive feast of meat and enough fried bread to empty a shelf in the Ormo Mini Shop but probably due to my over indulgences the day before a wave of nausea began to overwhelm me.
‘I feel a bit sick,’ I whispered to Lesley, who looked most concerned.
‘You have to eat Mummy’s fry, she’s been preparing for it all week,’ she whispered back, our conversation masked only by the sudden sizzling of mushrooms being added to the frying pan. 
I attempted to take deep breaths to subdue the nausea but every deep inhalation was accompanied by the odour of fried meat and mushrooms and by this stage of my condition the smell was sickening rather than appetising. Lesley observed me closely, clearly aware of the potential disaster unfolding in her own kitchen. She could see that my face had turned a whiter shade of pale and realised that an intervention was going to be necessary.
‘Tony’s not feeling well,’ said Lesley, much to my relief.
Mummy looked over her bifocals with a mixture of shock and disappointment, as the frying fat spat at me from beneath the eggs.
‘Och, sure you’re alright now. You just need a good fry and you’ll be fine.’
‘Sorry, I think I need to lie down,’ I confessed, ‘and then I’ll be okay thanks for a fry, please, if that‘s ok.’
Mummy, Daddy and Lesley cast glances at each other from various workstations across the kitchen. I was embarrassed. To fart explosively at the kitchen table would not have been worse. Mummy looked hurt, as if her cooking was making me sick and Lesley looked concerned about Mummy and Daddy went outside for a smoke.
‘Sure, you would, you could, you should just try a wee plate,’ persisted Mummy and she proceeded to set down a plate of sausage, bacon and egg in front of me.

Of course, you have to read the book to find out what happened next, but I’ll give you a clue – everything went in the wrong direction!

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

You can find Tony here:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome E.A. Lake, Author of Stranded No Where

When the EOTWAWKI (end of the world as we know it) arrives, everything will change. The Darkness, as I like to call it, will envelop all. And I mean every last bit of our lives.

Gone will be our electricity, our phones, our cars…our current way of life. Food will disappear from store shelves and your own pantry so fast that we won’t have time to think or react. Fresh water will become our daily quest.

And still, we’ll have to find something to eat.

So, my friends, what are we going to do for food? Want some help with that one? Here’s my top three finds for you:

1. Venison – If you eat meat, eventually all most choices are going to fade away. The good news is that deer are plentiful in almost area in the United States. Just this morning my wife almost ran into a deer while only a block from our home. And we live in a very urban area.

City deer are easy to take. They don’t have the built in fear that their country cousins possess. With a small handgun or any bow, you’ll be able to take an animal that will provide you with anywhere from 15 to 50 pounds of fresh meat.

And they’re like rabbits in most areas. So there will be lots of them. Just don’t harvest more than you can eat and you should be fine for years to come.

2. Dandelions – Believe it or not, your first salad in the post-apocalyptic days may be made from dandelion greens. You know, those weeds that everyone tries to eradicate from their beautiful lush green yards. The ones that are harder than heck to keep away.

Dandelions can be found everywhere. And once The Darkness arrives you won’t be so worried about your pristine lawn anymore. So they’ll be plentiful from early spring through late summer.

The trick is to boil them after harvest. One or two runs through hot water baths and that should reduce their general bitter taste. Be careful not to over-boil them though; that will results in dandelion mush. And even the dogs won’t want that.

3. Scavenge – My last recommendation for edible foods is to get out there and root through deserted houses and stores for whatever you can find.

Sure, there are a lot of foods that will spoil over time, but there are many that won’t. Here’s a small list of stuff to look for: ramen noodles, hot chocolate, honey, maple syrup, bouillon, salt, rice, dried beans, powered milk…

The list goes on and on. Some of these items will be scavenged immediately. But some will be overlooked. And those may just keep you alive.

Above all, you’ll need plenty of fresh water to go with the items above. After three days without water the human body begins to do weird things, not so good weird things. So be sure to find a decent source of this. Find a source of at least a liter a day. That’s what you’ll need at a minimum.

Plus, you’ll need that water for the rice and beans you’ll be making for dinner your first night in the dark world. Be sure to smother it with plenty of maple syrup; it’ll taste better that way. ;)

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, E.A.!

You can find E.A.  here:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Laurie (L.C.) Lewis, Author of Dark Sky at Dawn

Thanks for inviting me to share some of my culinary insights from research on my Free Men and Dreamers books. I popped into a gift shop in Williamsburg, Virginia in the early days of work on book one, Dark Sky at Dawn, and picked up a copy of a small, but priceless cookbook titled simply, The Williamsburg Cookbook. It was filled with primarily British recipes, most of which involved the ingredients of their day—cream, butter, meat and potatoes. Journal entries from actual colonial and pre-Civil War women helped me carve out the menus and beverages in DSAD and the other books in the series. These journals made it apparent that the planning, growing, harvesting, and preparing of food was a grueling, never-ending labor. I had a scene where the characters prepared chickens for cooking. Imagine chasing, catching, killing, draining, gutting, plucking, and burning off the pin-feathers of a bird, before you can even begin your recipe. Perfectly seasoned fried chicken is my weakness, and I’ll never take a fried chicken platter for granted again!

One dynamic that came up a lot in the series was “traveling” food. From the import shortages the British and French embargoes were creating for America in Dark Sky at Dawn, to the shortages caused by war and destruction in later volumes, the struggle to secure and prepare food, and the need for food that could travel, was a constant concern.

The lead characters in the series—Jed and Hannah Pearson and their neighbors—were frequently on foot, on horseback, or in a wagon, in rain or snow or wind. The scenery provided the only picnic ambiance, because by the time they stopped to eat, if they stopped at all, they were sore-bottomed, wind-burned, sun-baked, or rain-soaked. Dinner on the fly was simple—biscuits, jerky, salted or smoked slabs of meat, fruit in season, perhaps a boiled egg or two, and coffee made from water that might have to be strained to remove insects, dirt, and debris. Yum!!! Oftentimes, when they weren’t traveling in haste because of enemies or weather, or when travelling a long distance, they might have to forage, hunt, or fish for food along the way. Imagine waking up every morning not knowing when or if there would be food on the table before nightfall. Too many people today still face that challenge for different reasons.

I must admit, I do love the romance of the past. Life was home-centered and unplugged, conversation and mealtimes were the social events of the day, neighbors were lifetime friends nearly as essential as family, and you knew the joy and satisfaction of seeing the fruit of your labors. As beautiful as those things are, I’m grateful for the advantages of our day. I love modern medicine, and I’m a huge fan plumbing—hot baths, flush toilets, the ability to wash and sanitize food and prep areas, and the ease of having water at your disposal without toting it up a hill, the gym memberships of the day.

I keep a cute picnic basket packed with matching plastic ware, cups, plates, and gingham napkins, all at the ready, near a folded blanket, for those spur-of-the-moment picnic adventures, however, I confess that most of my picnics involve a quick stop at the “grab -and-go” section of my local grocery for abundant and luscious cheese I didn’t make, sandwiches or chicken grown and prepared elsewhere, and succulent prewashed fruit from a tree I didn’t plant.

Instead of armed enemies and wild beasts, time presents the greatest challenge in our day. I think we miss the sense of community and family meal preparation provided back in the day. Neighbors would gather to “bring in the sheaves” of wheat and to grind their grain into life-sustaining flour. I can imagine the laughter and conversations that happened in the hours when women filled kitchens to render lard, make jams, and prepare feats. In our busy world, gathering moments happen less and less now.
I actually store wheat and have an electric grinder to churn out freshly ground whole wheat flour. The children loved kneading their own loaves of homemade bread on our weekly break-making day. The smell of baking dough drew them back to the kitchen like an aromatic Pied Piper. Sadly, once they headed to school and discovered “white, fluffy bread that comes in a plastic bag” they didn’t want to take Mom’s homemade brown bread anymore, which they said made them look like “poor kids.” They now pay five dollars or more a loaf for bakery bread like that which they rejected back in the day.

Sadly, Mama sold out a bit, too. Travel food generally involves a stop at a drive-through or from a carefully selected sack of items from a grocer. And the location of on the fly meals generally depends on how much slop we’re willing to subject our vehicle to.

The primary labor of our ancestors’ day was protecting hearth and home, and growing and preserving food. Our challenges are the same.  Now we work to buy the home, and more of our ingredients are provided by someone else. What doesn’t change is the joy in gathering and working side-by-side to jointly meet our family’s needs. Families need not be so removed from those experiences. I remember the satisfying hours spent together with my children as we worked in and harvested from our garden. Each pepper or green bean was a treasure they’d bring to me in wonder. Take any family with a garden or even a tomato plant, and ask them how many life lessons they drew from the divine magic of watching a mature plant grow from the seeming nothingness of a single seed. There’s family strength and power in such moments.

Food is more than sustenance. So much more. Our ancestors knew it. I’m grateful we still revere and rediscover the art of the meal.

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

You can find Laurie here:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Massimo Marino, Author of Daimones

When you’re confronted with the Apocalypse, food is a primary concern for the survivors. In the case of the Daimones Trilogy things are simpler and more complex at the same time.

The world changes abruptly for Dan Amenta and his family of wife Mary and daughter Annah. One day, they discover everything they gave for granted is no more. Not a nuclear catastrophe, something unimaginable has happened, and something nothing could have ever prepared them to deal with.

When the world starts to degrade, ancient skills have to be re-learned, new habits need to become routines, and food… after a while, food needs to be grown and they need to discover how to manage nature in a sustainable way.

For Dan and family, food diet becomes what our ancestors had access to: wild berries and game, farm animals, and old family recipes. In a world where perishable food has… perished, drinks of any kind are aplenty, and the family only has to pick what they need. Dan is fond of cigars and whiskey, single malt. Caol Ila, especially, is one of his favourites, and now he can indulge in the most expensive ones, even, at no cost.

A glass full of Caol Ila is also what helps him when another survivor, the young Laura, tempts him in the most direct way: a sensuous disrobing that Laura prolonged with carefully chosen delays, in the glittering of a full moon night:

I held my breath multiple times. Left alone in the ashtray, the cigar consumed itself and released dancing spirals of smoke sinuously seducing the moonlight.

Pliny the Elder wrote that a woman could lull a storm out at sea by stripping. I knew exactly what he meant. The light went off in the cottage and, shortly after, I could hear Laura moaning. She was…masturbating, leaving me with my galloping and fervid imagination.

I swallowed my whiskey. I was excited, too.
                                                                                ~ Daimones (The Daimones Trilogy Vol. One)

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

You can find Massimo here:

Thursday, November 3, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Mark David Major, Author of The Persistence of Memory and Other Plays

Famine and Feast

My characters in The Persistence of Memory and Other Plays are gluttons for hypocrisy, arrogance, self-righteousness, and moral indignation; the last being “jealousy with a halo” according to H.G. Wells. Most everywhere, this nutrition is typical fare for youth. Most of these characters are young and live in a world of stark contrasts. They only see extremes: love/hate, want/need, poor/rich, self/other, insider/outsider, and so on. My characters suffer from an abundance of self-awareness about how alone they are in the world. They are indignant about this loneliness. Of course, wisdom comes with age. The stark black and white views of youth evolve into the vivid colors of age and experience, if we are fortunate enough to survive the preliminaries. Better sustenance would benefit my characters. Living is a feast of humility. It nurtures honesty, integrity, and wisdom in the best of us. The worst of us fail to learn, trapped in a vicious cycle to ‘rise and repeat’ until the final curtain.

Of course, people cannot subsist on emotions alone. My characters must eat something. Tristan and Eric in The Persistence of Memory have a steady diet of gin and whiskey on ice, respectively, and Chinese food: low-price takeout for Tristan (he is a struggling writer) and high-price, dine-in options for Eric (he is financially self-sufficient). They often eat together with Eric picking up the tab. After all, their recreational habits are a ‘gateway drug’ to the munchies. Lara has a ‘go-along-to-get-along’ personality. Her eating habits follow Eric and Tristan’s lead. Lara probably pecks at her food like a bird. Tasha is the prototypical ‘granola girl.’ Nuts, berries, and sunflower seeds constitute her culinary fare. The bad girl of Act II, Teresa, subsists on coffee, cigarettes, and the occasional line of cocoa extract. All the characters in The Persistence of Memory would appear thin and unhealthy to most people.

The Truth of Glances is my Southern play; not in terms of setting or dialect but where I wrote it: South Carolina. Most of the characters are college age. Their cuisine choices are limited to regular doses of pizza, beer, and McDonald’s. One the characters even jokes about “the American Dream of breakfast at McDonald’s.” This is certainly true of the male lead, Simon. Maggie still lives at home with a single parent. She suffers pasta dinners, packets of macaroni and cheese, and microwaveable popcorn. Who cares about what Thorne eats? The guy is a loser; too bad Maggie seems oblivious to this fact. Marie is a ‘good ol’ girl. She goes to momma’s house for home cookin’ on a semi-regular basis. There are barbecue ribs, grits, sausage gravy and homemade biscuits, and ‘p-can pie’ (pecan pie to non-Southerners) in her diet. A supporting character, Paul, really does feed on the hypocrisy and stupidity of others as a main course. However, in his spare time, he is probably a Chex Mix and Rice Krispies Squares type of guy.

Song of My Childhood is a re-imagining of the early 20th century novel Aspects of Love by British author David Garnett. He was a minor member of London’s Bloomsbury Group, which included Virginia Wolfe, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey. Originally set in France, I shifted the story setting to the American coast for Song of My Childhood. However, I suspect most of the characters would still enjoy the gastronomic luxuries of French cuisine. Susannah Flynn is a stage and movie actress. She eats whatever actors eat, probably a fusion cuisine in the California style, especially French and Italian variations using only local ingredients (of course). Chase Everett is in military service. His standard diet consists of gruel, hardtack, and sardines. Susannah and Chase enjoy lots of coffee: fine brewed, self-grounded beans, probably of Polynesian and/or Turkish origin. It might account for their hyperactivity as characters. Chase’s uncle, Adam Everett, is a food snob. He does not care what he eats as long as it is the most expensive item on the menu. Adam would not set foot inside a restaurant that failed to serve Dom Perignon, Moet & Chandon or Bollinger champagne. I suspect roasted duck and venison are staples of Adam’s diet. Terran is the proverbial nibbler. She is constantly eating but such small portions. She subsists on varieties of cheese and crackers supplemented with ample supplies of Cabernet Sauvignon (Italian labels only). Terran likes wine such as herself: dry with high acidity and a hint of sturdy oak. During Act III, it seems somewhat obvious that Susannah and Adam’s young daughter, Chloe, is the smartest person in Song of My Childhood. Granted, I might have some bias about my favorite character in the play. Chloe must eat a lot of fish and crustaceans: salmon with lemon, buttered lobster, boiled shrimp, crab cakes, and oysters.

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

You can find Mark here:

Mark David Major is the author of The Persistence of Memory and Other Plays, Mars Rising, children’s books An Infinitesimal Abundance of Color and An Excessive Abundance of Curls, and the Everyday Objects, Collected Poems, 1987-2012. He is currently working on a new one-act drama and new science fiction novel.

*All Cover Art by Rachael Harbert (

Purchase The Persistence of Memory and Other Plays

Purchase The Persistence of Memory: Actors Edition

Purchase The Truth of Glances: Actors Edition

Purchase Song of My Childhood: Actors Edition

Friday, October 28, 2016

Halloween FOODFIC!

Happy Spooky Book Season, Hungry Readers!

Instead of just filling you up with the details of what I've devoured this delicious month, I've decided to give you a menu from which you can make your own selections.

I can't tell you what foods you will encounter in each title, but rest assured that in every one of these works of horror, someone is eating...or being eaten. ;)

Feel free to add any tasting notes below!   Shelley W.


 1.  Children of the Dark, Jonathan Janz

 2.  The Consultant, Bentley Little

 3.  The Doll-Master, Joyce Carol Oates

 4.  The Fireman, Joe Hill

 5.  The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft, Aaron J. French

 6.  Mr. Splitfoot, Samantha Hunt

 7.  My Best Friend's Exorcism, Grady Hendrix

 8.  Pressure, Brian Keene

 9.  Security, Gina Wolsdorf

10. We Eat Our Own, Kea Wilson


 1.  Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

 2.  Rosemary's Baby, Ira Levin

 3.  The Call of Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft

 4.  It, Stephen King

 5.  Horns, Joe Hill

 6.  Hell House, Richard Matheson

 7.  Ghost Story, Peter Straub

 8.  Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

 9.  Don't Look Now, Daphne Du Maurier

10. The Hellbound Heart, Clive Barker

 *Compiled by Booklist
**Complied by The Lineup

Thursday, October 20, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Shannon Lawrence, Author of The Blue Mist

A retired miner living in the mountains, my character from The Blue Mist, Jim, isn't a connoisseur of fine foods. While there is no focus on food in the actual story—though Jim does toss back some whiskey when things get tough—one can hazard a guess as to what he might have eaten (when cleaning up after the mist didn't put him off his food, that is).

The Blue Mist is set in Rocky Mountain National Park, nestled in the Rocky Mountains and adjacent to Estes Park, Colorado. Jim is a holdover from the days of mining, settled in the park to get away from people. Locals don't believe that something is eating campers, no matter how vociferous Jim is, so they view him as a crazy man, referring to him as Prospector Jim. Wanting to avoid having missing persons cases pinned on him as murder (and not being a fan of whispered nastiness and sideways, suspicious glances), he avoids town as much as possible, using his wiles in the woods for the bulk of his food needs, and venturing into town only occasionally for his dry goods, such as flour, salt pork, dried beef, potatoes, apples, and beans. Canned fruits and vegetables tide him over in winter.

And he never forgets the coffee or the whiskey. A man's gotta keep warm. Especially on nights where screams reverberate through the evergreens and aspens.

Luckily for Jim, elk and deer are plentiful in the area, and two species of cutthroat trout reside in the waters flowing down from the snows melting off the rugged peaks. There are also squirrels and rabbits, handy staples when nothing bigger comes around; his trusty old dog, Bessie, helps catch these for them to share. Despite being in the alpine area, there are edible plants for foraging, including raspberries, wild strawberries, and wild asparagus.

As for what the creature in the Blue Mist eats…well, maybe that's better left unsaid.

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

You can find Shannon here:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Tracey Lyons, Author of The Wedding Toast

Recovery takes on new meaning in my short novella, The Wedding Toast, when the Rose Chalet, wine, and weddings are in the picture. Heather Bowman finds herself in romantic San Francisco on an assignment that suddenly involves more than nursing. From the moment Heather sips the first glass of Denafrio estate wine she knows her palate and her life will never be the same again. The electricity of true love is sending currents through the air from the lush vineyards of Napa to the storied California Coast.

For Scott Denafrio food wasn’t worth eating unless it was accompanied by a glass of good wine. Lucky for him his family owns a winery in Northern California. What are some of his favorite pairings? Chicken or fish with some of the estate grown white wines, Pinot Grigio or one of their summer blend wines with light notes of citrus flavors and hints of vanilla.  Or better yet, beef tenderloin paired with the headier notes of his very own signature, Midnight Blend. The flavors of Merlots and Malbec all intermingled in one sexy bottle.

Of course, he’s more interested in getting the pretty Heather Bowman to give up her dreams of returning to the Northeastern part of the country. And what better way to show her seduce than with some of the best food San Francisco has to offer.  To him there is nothing as delicious as a soft shell crab BLT or, better yet, a Crab Louis salad. Maybe he’d even go so far as to add the famous, fresh-out-of-the-oven, sour dough bread. 

Sharing great food and wine all with a stunning woman and a view of the San Francisco bay bridge…life doesn’t get any better. 

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

You can find Tracey here:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome J.E. Lowder, Author of War of Whispers

I love this idea! What a fun, creative and exciting way to talk about our books and characters! So let’s get going!

When I was in the early stages creating my War of Whispers fantasy series, I had to decide how much world building to delve into. Did I want to create a fantasy rich in detail (like GRR Martin) or something like The Hunger Games?  I found (IMHO) a happy median and focused on topics that interested me. I’d much rather watch a cooking show than a political exposé on CNN, so food and dining ousted political/economic backstory. Plus, a meal (or lack thereof) will tell you more about a country or a character’s economic situation than a discourse on finances.

The next hurdle was this: what would my heroine, Elabea (pronounced “Ella-bay”) eat in her dystopian, medieval-like world? Since her nation, Allsbruth, is relegated to an agrarian life by their adversaries, the Ebonites, their diet consists of vegetables with meat coming from what they could hunt. In Chapter 1, while debating the Oracles of the Cauldron with her mother, I chose porridge as her breakfast meal. It is one of their staples, yet is bland and simple, all of which reflect her dull, oppressed life.

Despite their harsh conditions, the Allsbruthians are still able to brew their noteworthy tea. Inspiration for this came from one of my favorites, a spicy brew made by Celestial Seasonings called “Bengal Spice.” Tea drinking is thread throughout the stories but I did so sparingly, which is the culinary secret to using any spice.

Since I love to cook, I created a nation—the MerriNoons—who are hailed as culinary masters. Digri, a MerriNoon who befriends Elabea, emphasizes this point. “Allsbruthians know nothing of cooking…too much fire. Too little spice.” When Elabea is invited to dine with the MerriNoons, she marvels at the sights and aromas.  “The air was filled with the fragrance of hickory-smoked meats, yeast breads, rich spices and fresh herbs.”

The Ebonites, who were the victors in the Dark War, are on the other spectrum. They enjoy the spoils of war: the best art, coffers filled with coins & jewels, and of course, the finest food and wine. To emphasize this lavish lifestyle, I have scenes where Brairtok, their king, dines in opulent splendor while gorging himself on roasted pheasant, boar, fruits, desserts…

In Book II, Martyr’s Moon, I have a key chapter set around an elegant meal where the conversation is as delicious as the food in the banquet hall. But to describe it here would be a “spoiler alert,” so I’ll leave it for you to discover on your own.

If you’re like me, nothing is better than a good meal shared with good friends. Unless, of course, they are characters in your book!

Bon Appétit!

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

You can find Jay and his books here:

Friday, September 30, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Neil Low, Author of Theater of the Crime

During the course of writing novels, I come to places in my stories where I need to share information with readers, adding historical background, context, character development, plotting details, and clues. The problem, I feel, is that the information should be revealed gradually, and it must also move the story along and help my readers solve the mystery before them. The caveat is that these new facts can’t be delivered in the form of an information dump, which might have odd sounding dialogue or appear as an unnatural topic of conversation.

As an example, all too often, when I’m watching a detective movie, I’ll see a protagonist and his secret informant meet inside a strip bar to share information, which strikes me as an overworked cliché—and in real life would be dangerous for the snitch. Not all cops or detectives do their business openly in strip bars, but Hollywood seems to love it, possibly because it gives them a chance to showcase naked women and make a point that the productions are edgy, meaning realistic and gritty. So although I don’t mind nudity or sex in this genre, I make a deliberate effort to find something more engaging about Seattle’s history or geography, where I can bring new information to light, without resorting to the cliché or the information dump.

A case in point in my Theater of the Crime (Available at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, University Bookstore, and Edmonds Bookshop) is where I have protagonist Alan Stewart meet with Sylvie Jourdan, Alexander Conlin’s business manager for late night breakfast at El Gaucho’s Restaurant. I find that greater intimacy and information comes from the relaxed environments of restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes, where people are instinctively more social and let their guards down. There is banter, teasing, social intimacy, and the sharing of clues that the keepers of which might not even know they possess. The focus of their discussion this evening is the spate of suspicious deaths of leading vaudeville magicians, all while performing on Seattle stages during the twilight of the vaudeville years. Alan and Sylvie meet immediately after Conlin’s performance. That evening, in his role of “Alexander Who Knows,” he predicted yet another magician’s death. Alan needs to find out how he’s making these predictions—and if there’s a way for him to prevent any more deaths and solve the mysteries that have already occurred.

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

You can find Neil here:

Friday, September 23, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Russell James, Author of Q Island

Aiden Bailey has shredded wheat squares for breakfast. Every breakfast. At the same time each morning, the exact same amount, arranged the same way in his bowl. It’s part of what his mother Melanie calls the Routine. Aiden needs the Routine.

Aiden has autism, and is pretty far out on the spectrum, with severe communication issues. Having a rigid structure to his day gives him an anchor in the world, and that anchor gives him the internal peace to function.

But the outbreak of the paleovirus on Long Island, New York destroys his routines, and everyone else’s. The virus turns the infected into crazed killers, and the government quarantines the whole island. Aiden and Melanie are trapped.

Aiden becomes infected. But he doesn’t get sick. In fact, his autism gets better. The aspect of his personality that caused his mother so much work and heartache now may hold the cure to the spreading virus. But only if she can get him off the island. She has to get him past the infected, she has to get him past the government, and there’s a gang leader who’s found out about Aiden, and has his own plans for what to do with a boy who might be a cure...

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

You can find Russell here:

Q Island received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and was the Pick of the Month in Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

FOODFIC: Charmfall - Chloe Neill

Charmfall finds 15-year-old Lily Parker picking through the pile in [her] palm, eating the raisins and the other dried fruit first to get them out of the way before moving on to the nuts and – last but not least – chocolate chips. As she says: There may not be an order to the world, but there was definitely an order to trail mix.

But her sentiment’s not quite accurate – her world does have an order. No, not the St. Sophia’s School for Girls in Chicago world; that one has classes and schedules, sure, but the social game there is a minefield of unmarked safezones and bombs that de- and re-activate at will. Oh, wait – that’s all high schools, actually.

Anyway, I think Lily was referring to her other world – the newly-discovered magical realm that she’s trying to navigate between trig quizzes. And that world definitely has an order.

There are two metaphorical camps: the Adepts (Lily’s side) and the Reapers. Adepts, in short, are teenagers with magic, their powers ranging from psychic abilities to controlling elements to casting spells. Reapers are also magic-wielding teens, but they use their free time to suck the souls out of vulnerable kids to feed aged-out magical folk. The adepts try to stop the reapers and save the common folk.

So clearly adepts and reapers ride opposite ends of the moral teeter-totter. But their playground still has rules. Both sides hold meetings in marked locations – adepts in enclaves marked with encircled Ys, reapers in sanctuaries designated by quatrefoils. And a scale model of the city showing all assigned areas is conveniently located in a basement room of the school for the magical students’ reference.

There are even rules for arranged adept/reaper cross meetings:

Cease fire means no magic will be used during this meeting. South side rules means we’re fair game after we leave the bridge, but we can’t snipe hunt – so only the people on the bridge can work the magic, not the folks we brought with us.

See? Lots. Of. Order.

Now, with all that said, in this 3rd installment of the Dark Elite series, there is a disruption to the order – a loss of magic. For both teams. With the playing field equal, will the adepts and reapers call a truce until they can figure out what’s going on?

Good thing trail mix is high in protein…Lily’s gonna need it. ;)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome C.P. Lesley, Author of Kingdom of the Shades

Ballerinas: aren’t they allergic to food? Sasha Sinclair, heroine of Desert Flower and Kingdom of the Shades, doesn’t think so. She’ll munch on a Danish at the drop of a pointe shoe. After all, how fat can she get when she dances ten hours a day? Her partner complains, but she knows he’s only goofing on her. Her father paired them when they were kids, so he’s closer than a brother. Besides, she eats healthy most of the time. She hasn’t much choice, having married a pilot from a culture that specializes in vegan cuisine. It was love at first sight, Tarkei-style—an ancient tradition commonly dismissed as a legend until Sasha and Danion, without even lifting a finger, proved the doubters wrong. Neither of them has time to cook, but in the twenty-fourth century they don’t have to: machines spit out restaurant-level meals on command.

Danion pays little attention to what goes in his mouth, but he does have standards. The virulent orange soup his protegé loves because it reminds him of the one Mama used to make has Danion sending silent prayers of thanks skyward that Mama is no longer around. Then there’s his old friend Thuja, who likes her dinner fresh—as in running at top speed in the other direction. Meals with Thuja pose a challenge. How many urgent prior engagements can one guy dream up, even with help from his equally disgusted wife?

Ballerinas spend a lot of time on tour, and food means home as well as sustenance. The vegan cuisine Sasha likes reminds her of trips to India and Mexico. And when she takes charge of her husband’s adopted daughter, torn from her native planet and dumped all unaware in San Francisco, the quest for the right chili pepper offers a way for them to bond. At least the girl isn’t asking for virulent orange soup….

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

In addition to Desert Flower and its sequel, Kingdom of the Shades, C. P. Lesley is the author of The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel and Legends of the Five Directions, a series set in Russia during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible that begins with The Golden Lynx.

Five Directions Press          Amazon          Amazon UK          Amazon CA

Thursday, August 25, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Aubree Lane, Author of Tahoe Blues

The Culinary Delights of Tahoe Blues

From the upscale Jakes on the Lake to Rookies Bar & Grill, the food around Lake Tahoe can’t be beat. Our heroine, Cara Lee Greene, is ready to sample it all. Recently divorced from the city’s most successful casino owner, Cara’s new found freedom is severely hampered when the State of Nevada straps the most unappealing piece of jewelry around her ankle. Under house arrest for a crime she didn’t commit, Cara is forced to rely on her lawyer and private detective, David Crandall, to set her free.

With little else to do but eat, it isn’t long before Cara’s cupboards are bare and takeout becomes her mainstay. Isolated from her friends, Chinese food, French bread and her favorite wines from California are more than mere nourishment, they become Cara’s lifeline to a world she is no longer allowed to take part in.

Mrs. Grimes, a neighbor and the baker of the most delectable muffins and cookies Granite Gages Estates has ever seen, is convinced the apartment complex’s new managerial assistant is behind the infamous, Cara caper. Leaving the flour and eggs behind, Mrs. G. ventures out of the kitchen to conduct an investigation of her own.

The case unravels the moment Mrs. Grimes and David Crandall cross paths.

How will it all turn out? You must pick up a copy of Tahoe Blues to find out!

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

You can find Aubree here:

And Tahoe Blues here:                    Amazon US                    Amazon UK

                                                           Amazon Canada             Amazon Australia