Thursday, January 26, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Bernadette Marie, Author of The Three Wives of Adam Monroe

I had never been asked to write about the food in my books before. Quite a unique twist, I thought. When an author works on a story, character development is crucial. We think about their eyes, their hair, how they walk, and what they do for a living. However, a key element in who they are is building the world around them—including what they eat and how.

Each of the books in my The Three Mrs. Monroes series is titled after the character followed in the story—Amelia, Penelope, and Vivian.

Amelia Monroe, a martial artist who trains soldiers, is fit and loves a good meal. When she meets Sam, a lawyer, they find comfort in sharing meals. For a woman who loves to eat, and is very fit, a huge steak (on the rare side!) with all the fixin’s is just her style. Part of the fun with Amelia was her no excuses attitude. Sam watches her devour the steak and wash it down with beer. No dainty manners there, okay, not that she was disgusting, just comfortable with herself. When they meet for breakfast, she’s enticed by the promise of huge cinnamon rolls, but let’s be clear, she’s going to run that off with a six-mile run.

Penelope Monroe is the polar opposite of Amelia. Fragile in personality and pregnant to boot, she’s been lucky to survive on carry-out and frozen dinners. However, when she meets Brock, who comes from a solid family and homemade meals, she pours herself into a meal of spaghetti and meatballs to impress him. After all, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and it’s a fairly hard meal to mess up.

Vivian Monroe has been playing happy homemaker for years. The mother of two young girls, food is made to appease her children. When she becomes involved with Clayton, who also has two young daughters, you can bet they bond over pizza and chicken nuggets. When the girls are not present, an adult beverage is in order. Of course, the promise of biscuits and gravy is sometimes the surefire way to a man’s heart. It doesn’t have to be homemade to be a comfort food either.

Throughout the trilogy, as Amelia, Penelope, and Vivian bond and solidify their friendship, food and drink play a huge roll. There are many meals shared between the strangers who become friends, but drinks might be a better guide through their bonding. Drink is a fantastic way for people to enjoy the company of others. Coffee plays a huge roll in the formation of the relationship between the women. Everyone is calmer when there’s a hot beverage in their hands, right? From coffee when presented with bad news, to meeting at a coffee house, or the warm cup of Joe in a friend’s kitchen, coffee can bring people together.

When friendships are developed, wine certainly plays a roll. Women who have bonded are comfortable around each other sit and sip wine, and that was key in showing their relationship grow. Of course, celebrations call for a little bubbly as well, and each book certainly spotlights a celebration as each woman grows as a person on her own.

Food and drink will forever bond people. It is a great way to introduce characters and their special characteristics to readers, as it is a common bond we can have with them.

Thanks for hanging out with me today. And thank you Shelley for having me. So here’s me lifting my coffee mug to you all, cheers! I hope you’ll visit Amelia, Penelope, and Vivian with your favorite beverage and bond with them as well.

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

Friday, January 20, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Gale Martin, Author of Don Juan in Hankey PA

Good Food Still Abounds in Hankey, PA

Though once a thriving small town, Hankey, Pennsylvania, became part of the Pennsylvania Rust Belt when the steel mill closed and the ranks of high-paid executives and managers moved away in 2005. As a result, most of the finer restaurants and eateries closed, too.

Who can afford to dine at the Colonel Hankey Inn anymore, with entrees like Drunken Lamb, braised in porter and priced รก la carte at $25 a plate?

Okay, maybe Richard Rohrer, the retired dermatologist and former chair of the Hankey Opera Guild springs for fine dining frequently. Oh, and his girlfriend Vivian Pirelli, the bipolar ketchup heiress, whose family made their fortune pulverizing tomatoes. Compared to a decade ago when the economy was robust, only a handful of Hankeyans are keeping the Colonel Hankey afloat.

Deanna Lundquist, the current chair of the Opera Guild, prefers to entertain the rest of the guild in her beautifully appointed home. She is busy burning through her divorce settlement faster than you can say, “replacement trophy wife.” Deanna adores a menu of heavy hors d’oeuvres paired with fine wines, such as Duck Confit which she serves with an Australian Shiraz, or goat cheese crostini with a crisp Napa Valley Sauvignon. It pains her to spend good money on all those gluten-free options for Vivian, who has every food allergy known to womankind, and definitely not Deanna’s favorite person. But Deanna is nothing if not a gracious hostess (with designs on a lead gift from Vivian’s family foundation to keep the opera guild in the black), so gluten-free wins out over full flavor every time Vivian is on the guest list.

While the Colonel Hankey Inn no longer fits most folks’ budgets, the Steel City Diner with their $1.99 week day breakfast special is the perfect option for everyone and as popular as ever with displaced workers, cheapskates, and Belgian-waffle lovers of every economic stripe.  That diner must use half a can of real whipped cream on each perfectly golden, berry-bedecked waffle.

For big celebrations like opening night parties, the Opera Guild relies on Luigi’s Italian Trattoria for tasty yet affordable receptions, like the one they threw after the premier of their new production of Don Giovanni, featuring the Argentine sensation Leandro Vasquez singing the title role. Sometimes Luigi even throws in the cannolis—on the house—provided the guild orders three entrees or more for the buffet.

If productions keep selling out like Don Giovanni, perhaps the guild can move their opening night receptions back to the Coloney Hankey Inn someday soon. Their calamari with spicy tomato dipping sauce tops Luigi’s pedestrian marinara every time.

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

You can find Gale here:

Friday, January 13, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Paula Margulies, Author of Favorite Daughter

I wrote my first historical novel, Favorite Daughter, Part One, because I wanted to tell the story of Pocahontas in her own voice, from her point of view (rather than the John Smith version of her history we learned in school). When I first began writing the novel, I quickly learned that the backbone of good writing in a historical is a reflection of the amount of research the writer does. With that in mind, I spent many hours studying the culture and traditions of the Powhatan and Algonquian tribes. While researching, I learned that the Powhatan tribe had a rich culture of agriculture and food husbandry.

The Powhatan tribe planted corn, vegetables (beans, pumpkins, and squash), and harvested fruit and nuts from the surrounding area. In addition, they hunted and fished, so that meat was abundant in their diet. The Powhatans hunted deer and wild hogs and caught many types of wild birds, including geese, turkey, and other types of local fowl. They ate dried meat, beans, corn, and fruit, including apples and wild berries, in the winter months. A favorite Powhatan dish was a vegetable stew called pausarowmena, and celebrations included fermented drinks, like puccahiccora. The Powhatans also baked a cornbread called apone.

The Powhatan women did most of the gathering of wild fruits and berries and plucked the feathers from the wild fowl caught by the men. In addition, the women gutted, butchered, and smoked the meat hunted by the male members of the tribe, and also tanned and smoked the hides to use as coats and blankets. Deer and hog stomachs were used to carry water. When courting, the young Powhatan males often made gifts of the wild birds they hunted to their chosen mates.

The Powhatan tribe lived in wooden roundhouses that contained centralized kitchen areas, which consisted of a large fire for cooking, utensils made from wood and stone, and stone tools and surfaces for grinding, cutting, and carving food items. The kitchens were run by the elder women in the tribe, with younger women helping to prepare and serve as required.

When researching the characters for my novel, I learned that Pocahontas was keenly interested in her father's political work in both the villages that were part of the tribe and in the interaction with the white settlers living across from what is now known as the James River. She was a king's daughter, so she was not required to cook or harvest, although when younger, she did spend time helping her older sisters with those tasks.

Her oldest sister, Mattachana, was a mother figure for Pocahontas, since Pocahontas's mother died in childbirth. Pocahontas helped Mattachana with the traditional women's chores regarding cooking and eating, but Pocahontas was not tied to the kitchen the way her older sisters were.

Initially, the Powhatans were generous with the white settlers, bringing them food in the harsh winters and trading corn with them for trinkets and tools. As the relationship soured between Powhatan and the white leaders, food became an issue for both sides. John Smith was known to invade Powhatan villages and strong-arm the villagers if they would not give him corn. As the harsh winter months continued and the settlers refused to give up their poorly situated fort on the Chesapeake shore, they found food to be so scarce that many of them starved to death.

The Powhatans also felt the brunt of harsh winters, partially from poor crops given up by weak harvests and partly because the settlers demanded so much of the natives' stores. Eventually, as the tribes fought the settlers, food became scarce and was often an issue for both parties during years of poor harvests and war-related conflict.

Of course, the legend of Pocahontas originates around her willingness to bring food to the starving settlers when they first arrived on the Chesapeake. Her friendship with John Smith and the favored position she held with her father allowed her to be the conduit for many of the food supplies that saved the settlers in their early years in the new land.

Eventually, Pocahontas was abducted by the English settlers and converted to Christianity. By that time, the tribe's relationship with the settlers had deteriorated, and the settlers had become better at growing some of the local crops like tobacco and corn. Pocahontas eventually married one of the settlers, John Rolfe, who was a tobacco farmer. She was brought by the colonists to London, England, where she became a celebrity of sorts and met the king and queen (and also reunited with John Smith, a meeting that reportedly did not go well). On her way back to the colonies, she came down with either pneumonia or tuberculosis and died, although members of the Mattaponi tribe claims she was, in fact, murdered. (Stay tuned! These events will be covered in Favorite Daughter, Part Two, which I’m writing now.)

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

Paula Margulies is the owner of Paula Margulies Communications, a public relations firm for authors and artists. She has received numerous awards for her essays and books, including her nonfiction handbook, The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner’s Guide to Book Promotion; her historical novel, Favorite Daughter, Part One; her debut novel, Coyote Heart; and her short story collection, Face Value: Collected Stories. Paula is a contributor to a number of blogsites and webzines, including Author Magazine and The Feisty Writer. She has been awarded artist residencies at Caldera, Red Cinder Artist Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and Centrum. Paula resides in San Diego, California.

You can find Paula here:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Marla Madison, Author of Girl Undone

Girl Undone is the third book in my TJ Peacock and Lisa Rayburn suspense series. The main characters in Girl Undone, private investigator TJ Peacock and psychologist Lisa Rayburn, are women at opposite ends of the food addiction scale. TJ, slender and wiry, is one of those fortunate people who so many of us envy; she can eat all she wants—and she prefers junk food and comfort food—without gaining weight. Lisa looks on disgustedly when TJ packs in the food, while she, a more generously proportioned woman, has to watch every bite.

Despite their many differences, the women become fast friends, and their working relationship continues through the series. In Girl Undone, the two women are hired to find out why a young woman was abducted for a period of three days then allowed to escape. Lisa and TJ fall into a web of mystery, murder, and mayhem trying to discover why the girl, who remembers nothing, was held against her will.

My characters frequently share holidays and meals together. TJ prefers fast food stops, while Lisa enjoys preparing traditional holiday meals for a crowd. I have to admit that I am more like TJ in my food tastes; I love junk food. But I also like the traditional holiday fare and enjoy preparing it for my loved ones. A deadly combination of tastes for someone who has to watch her weight!

Being a woman who has had a love/hate relationship with food my entire life, I naturally added a lot of meal detail to the first book of this series, She’s Not There. My blog, Reading and Writing are Fattening, sometimes deals with food and dieting issues. Recently, I’ve been doing reviews of the suspense books that I read.

I once did a blog series called The Ten Pounds of Christmas and every year I resolve to publish it, a how-to on not gaining weight over the holidays, but somehow, never quite get around do doing it. Maybe I’ll have Lisa write it for me when she’s in between crime-fighting events with TJ. ;)

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

Marla Madison is a retired mediator and when she’s not writing, she loves to read, play bridge and cruise the lake on her pontoon. Living in Wisconsin on Prairie Lake, Marla is the author of the suspense novels, She’s Not There, Trespass, Girl Undone, Relative Malice, Iced Malice, and Promise of Malice. 
Contact her at:

You can also find Marla here: