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Welcome, hungry readers! I'm the author of the "Solid" series, but my blog is about food in books. No, not cookbooks - food in FICTION, mostly YA. We all talk about what the characters are doing and whom they're doing it with, But What Are They Eating?
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1. FOODFIC: Please Welcome S.A. Hunter, Author of Elanraigh

Elanraigh: The Vow is a YA/Adult High Fantasy set in medieval times, on an alternate Earth.  It’s fitting that my Heroine, Thera of Allenholme, should meet Chamakin, son of a Ttamarini Chief, at a celebratory feast in honor of their new alliance struck in a time of an impending war.

Feasts were important celebrations in medieval life, whether to welcome a new alliance, the arrival of a dignitary or to celebrate commemoration days and agricultural festivals.

Being of noble families, Thera and Chamakin are seated at the High Table. Their meat course tonight is tender roast chicken served in a stew of wine, sugar, and expensive spices such as saffron and ginger. These spices, including the sugar loaf, Thera’s mother keeps under strict lock and key. The chicken is served on an “upper crust” trencher of pandemain, the best of white bread, made from highly sifted flour. A dessert course of wafers, candied fruits and mulled wine is placed before them.

As Thera sips at her mulled wine, and casts shy glances at the handsome stranger next to her,  at the lower tables, soldiers and merchants are enjoying their dark beer.

The feast grew raucous and loud, dinning in her ears. Even the Harbor Master who had been so pompous in his welcoming speech was now blowing froth off his beer into the laughing face of a burly stave smith.

Thera and Chamakin, seated side by side, are very conscious of each other…

I can’t eat. This surprises her, for usually her appetite’s hearty. She eyes the trencher before her and her mouth waters—but her stomach clenches. Tentatively she takes a bite of crusty warm bread, chews and swallows with an audible sound. She glances sideways at Chamakin. He ate slowly, chewing with determination. His face was flushed with bright color along the high cheekbones.

From this night on, life will never be the same for Thera, Chamakin and their peoples—it is a good thing we learn that Thera can communicate with the ancient and sentient forest, Elanraigh—for that powerful entity has no intention of letting Allenholme fall to enemy invaders.

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

You can find Sandy here:

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2. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lynn Hubbard, Author of Return to Love

Food is an essential part of books. Living breathing characters have to eat! And I want you to indulge with them.

In Return to Love, 1-year-old Joanie and her friends visit a carnival. Your senses are on overload with the bright colored lights, the sound of screams and music and chatter, and, of course, the scents.

The aroma of carnival fodder. The sweet, sweet smell of cotton candy; you can almost imagine the feathery pink ribbons of stickiness wrapped around a paper tube. And the taste! Pure sugar with a hint of raspberry. There is no wrong way to eat cotton candy - you can dig in with your face or pull delicate tendrils off with your fingers and pop them into your mouth. Either way, you end up covered in the sticky remnants and licking your fingers clean. Especially since napkins and bathrooms are quite scarce back in 1959.

Hot dogs are a staple - the crispier the better. And covered in chili and onions, yummy. Not the best date food, but who cares?

Did I mention the popcorn? I have no idea what makes fresh popped popcorn smell so good! Even if you aren’t hungry you can sense your taste buds awakening, your mouth watering, and you have to have a taste of the buttery goodness.

But alas, the fun cannot last forever. Joanie has to return to school and face the cafeteria. She prefers to bring her lunch, a little bit of home. The best part of lunch is seeing her friends, gathering under a tree on the lawn, and enjoying a respite from the grueling chore of high school.

One of Joanie’s favorite foods is spaghetti. Her mother is a nurse who works long hours to support Joanie and her brother, and the time spent together in the kitchen is very precious to them. It's a time to talk, to renew their relationship, to help and inspire each other.

Memories stay with us. Isn’t it funny how certain smells or tastes can transfer us back in time to when we experienced them before? Food is an important part of life. It brings people together. It can revive an old memory or be an entirely new experience and I will try anything once!

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

You can find Lynn here:

Google +

Lynn Hubbard is a Historical Romance Author, Publisher, and Patriot. Author of eight books, she has a deep love of history and instills that in her work. Lynn’s passion is our Vets. She volunteers many hours standing for our fallen veterans with the Patriot Guard Riders. She also works on multiple projects with the American Legion.

With Veteran suicides at a high, Lynn has created a book to help spread awareness. PTSD No Apologies was released on veteran’s day. The book contains personal stories written by vets. This is not chicken soup. It is a thought provoking piece demonstrating how everyone handles PTSD differently. Proceeds go towards buying books for the Veteran’s in the VA Hospitals Nationwide.

PTSD does not mean you are weak, it means you have survived.


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3. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Mona Ingram, Author of Forever Changed

When Shelley asked me to contribute a short piece to her But What Are They Eating? blog, my first reaction was that there were no memorable food scenes in Forever Changed. It’s a story about a woman who’s just been given a breast cancer diagnosis. Why would she care about food?

And then I started to think about how food plays such an important role in every facet of our lives, large or small, happy or sad. What was I thinking?

This series takes place in Victoria, British Columbia, a city I know well. I decided to have at least one character that appears in every book. Jodi’s kinda fun… she’s like a spoke, and as each character is featured, they interact with her… sometimes in passing, but in this first book in the series, she’s Ariana’s BFF.

Jodi often grabs lunch at a small restaurant just down from her fitness studio and overlooking Victoria’s famous Inner Harbor. The restaurant owner knows her preference for noodles, and if you read the series, you’ll come back several times with various characters to have lunch with Jodi (and Trang’s noodles). A lot of secrets come out over those noodles, let me tell you!

Then there are Ariana’s visits to her grandmother. A strikingly beautiful woman, Jacqueline Beaumont knows that a nice cup of tea won’t solve the problems of the world, but it doesn’t hurt!

And of course the most Canadian of all is a cup of coffee at Tim Horton’s. Just say ‘Timmy’s’ and every Canadian knows what you mean. One of the most touching scenes in the book takes place at a Timmy’s, where Ariana finds herself after she runs out of Blaine’s tattoo studio. Perhaps not the most romantic setting for our lovers-to-be, I’ll admit. But fast food coffee shops are basically the same all over North America, and I don’t know about you, but I can imagine myself falling in love with a handsome tattoo artist at any one of them.


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

You can find Mona here:

Mona tells us she’d had more feedback from readers of Forever series than anything else she’s ever written. Each book focuses on a woman at a crossroads in her life. Novella length, they contain no explicit sexual content, preferring to focus on the woman’s story. There are currently five books in the series, and at the present time Mona’s working on Book Six, which is being told from the point of view of a man. Now that should be interesting… stay tuned!

Mona lives in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, where she reads voraciously and writes daily, except when visiting her family on Vancouver Island.

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4. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Elizabeth Isaacs, Author of The Light of Asteria

Cultures normally develop because of beliefs. Some stem from religion (like the Native Americans belief that the Earth is the one true life source given to all by the Maker) while others focus on a societal structures (such as America’s central conviction of freedom).

And so when I first started creating the world of Kailmeyra, a world without evil, I thought a great deal on how a society like that could even exist. If we assume that evil stems from hatred, it only made sense that the Alfar would need a counterbalance, which would obviously be love. I chose to expand that to include all positive emotions and intent.

For years, scientists have been studying the power of positive thoughts. That’s nothing new. But few stop to think of the power of intent.

An intent is defined as “… the state of a person's mind that directs his or her actions toward a specific object.”

For example, two men volunteer to work on a Habitat for Humanity house. One signs up because he needs community service hours, the other grew up in abject poverty
and never knew what it was like to sleep in his own bed.

Both men show up at the same time and do the same tasks. But which one is going to go above and beyond? Which one is going to make sure the nails are driven in straight, the paint hasn’t dripped on the new carpet, and the baseboards are installed properly?

I’ve found that those who do a job because they view it as an obligation tend to do the minimum amount required, whereas those that have a deep-seeded passion for helping, usually give it everything they have.

And that, my friends, is the power of intent.

But what does this have to do with the Kailmeyra series and eating?


In Kailmeyra, intent gives off energy. Alfar eat to fuel their bodies, the dwelling in which their spirit lives. Because of this, they reverently plant their foods in the richest soils, they tend to them daily and watch them grow. And they only take what they need, allowing other animals to benefit as well.

Bottom line, their intent is to use food to sustain the life they’ve been given.

So what is America’s intent when it comes to food?

Scary question, isn’t it?

It seems to me America’s intent isn't necessarily to put the best fuel in as it is to keep our stomach's from growling. And it must be convenient. And it must be fast. Oh, and it must taste yummy!

Let's face it. Most of us know little about where our food is grown, how it’s processed or even what’s in it. Our intent is to stave off hunger as we run about our daily lives. Breakfast normally consists of something from a box with milk splashed on it while lunch is served on a tray in a cafeteria. When my kiddos were young I cannot tell you how many times we ran through a drive through to pick up something to eat for dinner as we scurried from one activity to the next. Honestly, not once did I stop and question what was in that burger or where it came from. Nor did I think a thing about handing my child a soda or a sweet tea. (It should be noted that my kiddos are now in college. I’m happy to see there is more awareness about nutrition today, and so I hope I’d be a little more diligent about it now. ;))

I never thought about the intent of eating until I wrote the first book in the Kailmeyra series. While I would love to report that I’ve lost tons of weight and am now svelte and gorgeous, unfortunately, that is not the case. I can tell you that because of the series, we now eat only organic eggs, milk, fruits and veggies, we’ve stopped eating so much red meat and I haven’t had a soda in five years.

Hey, that’s something, right?

Thanks so much, Shelley, for having me on the blog!

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

If you’d like to know more about the Kailmeyra series, the first book, The Light of Asteria, is available (most FREE) on the following platforms:

Amazon          itunes          Kobo          Google Play

Barnes & Noble          CreateSpace          Blio

And you can find Elizabeth here:

Elizabeth is an author, teacher, and publishing professional who began her career as a national presenter for Resource Profiles, where she developed teacher seminars designed to foster creative brain stimulation. Moving into formal education, she helped at-risk students improve their writing skills as well as created and implemented a creative writing/blogging program that centered on teaching the 21st-century learner. Works stemming from this initiative were published online and seen in over 40 countries.

Elizabeth receives invitations to speak nationwide at schools and book clubs about Young Adult (YA) content and writing. She co-founded the popular book site, Indie-Visible.com, which reaches thousands of people throughout the world. The writer support and reader interest group promotes and interacts with followers on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and various other blog sites. Elizabeth has a Master's degree from Austin Peay State University, where she was trained in classical opera. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.

The Light of Asteria received Honorable Mention at the New York Book Festival.

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5. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Leyla Kader Dahm, Author of Annabeth Neverending

Annabeth Prescott is a reincarnated teenager with an insatiable hunger for knowledge...and junk food.

One thing that's carried over from Annabeth's past life to the present is her sweet tooth. Perhaps because in ancient Egypt the threat of arranged marriage, forced incest, and black magic made things so very sour, she turned to cloyingly sweet foods for comfort. Princess Ana, Annabeth's former incarnation, downed fig pudding and wine cakes soddened with honey like there was no tomorrow. She probably worried there wouldn't be one.

In modern times, Annabeth drowns her numerous sorrows in Moxie, a regionally-brewed soda. Many consider it to be an acquired taste, but Annabeth--who's always been unusually mature for her age--has appreciated its carbonated goodness since the tender age of five. She also enjoys Little Debbie snack cakes (especially during moments of duress), soft serve ice cream from Dairy Queen (it's strangely refreshing), and deep dish pizza that's been layered with crisp-edged pepperoni (no veggie toppings please, that might make it nutritious).

Of course, she also loves seafood. After all, she's a Mainer. But don't get too excited about some health kick looming. I'm afraid that Annabeth only touches seafood that's been thoroughly drenched in batter and submerged in hot oil. Annabeth has a special penchant for fried clams, though she prefers hers to be belly-free. Luckily, Gabriel Danvers, one of the two objects of her affection, understands that bellies are a deal breaker, and doesn't push her to eat the rubbery sacks.Though secretly, he loves them.

Hopefully, Annabeth will find a soulmate willing to accept all her eating habits. If not, I have a good idea of what'll ease the pain...a Blizzard from DQ.

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

You can find Leyla here:

Wisconsin native Leyla Kader Dahm popped popcorn and dreamt of a career in show business while working in a movie theater during high school. The small-town Midwestern girl opted for the practical route and studied communications at Carroll College and Cornell University. But her life changed course dramatically when a temp agency placed her in a production and development gig at Miramax/Dimension Films.

Dahm went on to work as a script consultant for numerous production companies. She appeared in the acclaimed spoken word show Sit ‘N Spin and had her comedy feature spec, Due North, optioned by Michael Levy Enterprises. She sold her pitch, Survival Instinct, to Nickelodeon Original Movies.

Dahm lives with her husband and children in Los Angeles, where she focuses on writing quality material for families and young adults.

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6. Happy New Year Hungry Readers!

Ah, yes. A new year means new resolutions (or goals, amibitions, false promises - whatever you choose to call them).

I have all the standard personal betterment aims: more time with family, exercise, sleep, veggies...you get the idea. Heck, it's your idea, too!

I also make all the usual writer pledges: I will finish one (at least!) of my pending manuscripts, launch it to the literary masses and sell a gazillion copies, etc., etc., etc.

But, as readers, I'm sure you're really only interested in my TBR list for 2016. In the spirit of full disclosure-ship, I admit that I do not believe I will summit this mountain of text. However, if I can manage to carve out even a third of the great book behemoth, I am planting a flag in my front yard. Or perhaps my back yard, right by the spot where a new hammock should go to help me devour more delicious reads in 2017. ;)

Here's the list I've put together in the past 10 minutes:

Jeremy Bates - White Lies
Robin Benway - Emmy & Oliver
Carin Berger - The Little Yellow Leaf
Kate Jarvik Birch - Perfected
Cynthia Blair - The Banana Split Affair
Kiera Cass - The Heir
Sandra Cisneros - The House on Mango Street
Lisa Colozza Cocca - Providence
James Dashner - The Journal of Curious Letters
Richard P. Denney - A Girl's Guide to Falling in Love with a Zombie
Rachel DeWoskin - Blind
Anita Diamant - The Red Tent
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
Kathleen Duey - Sacred Scars
Alexandra Duncan - Salvage
Kate Forsyth - Bitter Greens
E.R. Frank - Dime
Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book
Ben Goldacre - Bad Science
S.A. Harazin - Painless
Charlaine Harris - Dead Until Dark
E.K. Johnston - A Thousand Nights
Mindy Kaling - Why Not Me?
Clinton Kelly - Oh No She Didn't
Jessi Kirby - Things We Know By Heart
Darragh McKeon - All That Is Solid Melts Into Air
Richelle Mead - Soundless
Susan Meissner - Secrets of a Charmed Life
Faye Meredith - Becoming Edward
Stephenie Meyer - Life and Death
Christiana Miller - Somebody Tell Aunt Millie She's Dead
Emma Mills - First & Then
Beth Moore - The Law of Love
Paula Morris - Ruined
Mike Resnick - Witch Fantastic
Celia Rivenbark - You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning
Donald Rumsfeld - Known and Unknown
Sarah Elizabeth Schantz - Fig
Robin Schneider - Extraordinary Means
Ben Sherwood - The Survivors Club
Jackie Lea Sommers - Truest
Joann Sowles - Laney
James M. Tabor - Frozen Solid
Sabaa Tahir - An Ember in the Ashes
Suzanne Weyn - The Bar Code Tattoo
Nicola Yoon - Everything, Everything

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7. FOODFIC: Dakota - Gwen Florio


Charlotte Brevik knows how to make a girl feel at home. The retired-nurse/sheriff’s wife fills Lola Wicks with chicken and dumplings swamped in peppery gravy, homemade bread, and creamy casserole of butterbeans she grew and canned herself. A hearty meal to warm a soul in a brutal climate, especially when that soul was just beaten up and left for dead in a snow-covered bar parking lot.

Not that said beating was enough to deter news reporter Lola from pursuing her story; before winding up at the Breviks’ for recovery fuel, Lola takes the time to throw back some tequila and question the guy (Ralph) who pulled her out of the snow about the recent string of vanished girls.

Now, don’t be thinking this Ralph is some sort of knight-in-shining-armor love interest for Lola; despite Lola’s condition and the circumstances that makes their paths cross that night, he still tries to cop a feel at the bar. And he’s actually quite far down the list of local creeps if we were to rank them on offensiveness! Yup, between the strip clubs and the man camp, Lola will need many more home-cooked dinners to sustain her through this investigation. ;)

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8. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Laura Hile, Author of Mercy's Embrace

Lady Disdain, beware!

For beneath the surface of even the most polished Regency gentleman can lurk...Guy Table Manners.

The lady may think them unintentional, but the gentleman begs to differ!

Never mind that Admiral McGillvary wore a borrowed coat, stained and threadbare into the bargain. The lovely Miss Elliot, seated by chance at his table, did not recognize him--she thought him a clerk! Nor did she bother to hide her scorn at his scruffy appearance.

The temptation to tease her was overwhelming. McGillvary gave her one of his most charming smiles...and tapped the hard tea biscuit sharply against the tabletop.

She looked up.

"Old habit," he remarked. "Reminds me of a nibby. A sea biscuit. Navy issue."

"Oh," she said. "The Navy."

McGillvary nearly laughed outright. Obviously, flirting with a clerk was taboo! When she looked his way, he poured the last of his tea into the saucer to cool. This was clearly outrageous; his mother would have boxed his ears! He lifted the saucer and took a long, gleeful draught.

Replacing it, he remarked, "A nice brew, but I prefer coffee. As you can see," he indicated his waistcoat, "we had a little mishap with the coffeepot."

"Do you mean today?" she said.

He stiffened. Did she think he would wear a stained waistcoat all week?

And so begins the sparring banter between the Admiral and the arrogant Miss Elliot, romantic leads in Mercy's Embrace, a spin-off of Jane Austen's Persuasion.

And it seems I cannot help myself. All my life I have been surrounded by men: a father, one brother, a husband, and three sons. Even though I write Regency, real-life male behaviors creep in. Too much fun!

Even though tapping the "nibby" was how sailors knocked the weevils out...

Not something I am wanting to eat.

Comment question: 

What outrageous Male Table Manners - the kind designed to get a rise out of guests - have you observed?

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

You can find Laura here:

Readers are loving Laura Hile's joyous Regency novels. Her signature style - intertwined plots, cliffhangers, and laugh-out-loud humor - keep them coming back for more.

The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There's never a dull moment with teen students!

This winter she will be releasing
Darcy By Any Other Name, a comic 'body-swap' romance based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and sons. Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.

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9. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson, Authors of The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow

Well, HELLO Readers! I'm Mr. Morrow, and I'm here to reveal a few of my fun secrets. Now, my family is embarking on a great adventure, moving from Manhattan to an old Victorian in Connecticut known as The Begonia House. Our intention is to have the most enchanting bed-and-breakfast imaginable.

We think we've found the perfect location. My wife, Pru, is amazing with her interior design skills, but my wizardry in the kitchen will prove most useful. My daughter Fairday's interest has been peaked by the move, as we've heard that the house has a bit of mystery surrounding it. At first Fairday was apprehensive, but, now that we're here, she's been traipsing all over the house and grounds with her friends in the Detective Mystery Squad, and the only way I can get her back is to tantalize her taste buds.

Blueberry pancakes does the trick every time. It's her favorite dish, and she assures me it will be a smash hit when we open up the The Begonia House Bed-and-Breakfast. The key to extraordinary blueberry pancakes is to make them with love and be sure to speak with a French accent - this is very important.

Here's an example:

Dad: "What would you like for breakfast, mademoiselle?"
Daughter: "I'll have blueberry pancakes."
Dad: "Oui, oui!" (You must incorporate body language; I like to dance and put a little spin on the spatula when I flip the pancakes.)

Another detail essential to pancake delectability is to wear a funny apron. Mine asks potential diners if I've "GOT FOOD?" and yes, I do, so you can see how this comes in handy.

The last thing to remember is to make your pancakes with love, not just for the food, but for those you're cooking for. Food is an art, and, as one of my daughter's favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, says, "Whatever you do, make good art."

Bon apetit!

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Jessica and Stephanie!

You can find the authors here:

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10. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Axel Howerton, Author of Hot Sinatra

Coffee is God. Coffee is the Life-bringer.

Coffee is the be-all-goddamn-end-all.

The Alpha and the Omega. That’s what Cole calls it.

At least, that’s how I feel. Me and ol’ Mossimo Cole. We love our beans, man.

Do you know Moss? Tall, good looking dude, lots of tattoos, lots of scars, usually wearing this beat-up old fedora he got off of his grandfather. Lives next door to me. Right down the street there. Chicks dig Moss Cole. He’s one of those tall, dark, and soulful types. What Cole loves? Jazz and a fine ristretto pull.

I know. What the hell is a ristretto? Basically, a ristretto is the first half of an espresso. When you squeeze that water through the tightly-packed grounds of coffee bean dust, forcing it at temperature and pressure to work it’s way down through the earthy mantle of a fine grind, and flood out in a big muddy, a veritable Mississippi of shape and colour. The darkest, smokiest, velvet-smooth, dark chocolate magnificence. Coffee contains over a thousand aromatic compounds, and the best and boldest of them are at their peak when you use that first pull.

You dump that into a demitasse and suck it back, brother that’s a straight ristretto. Drop some water in like an Americano, and we’re talking a Long Black. Moss likes those two ristretto shots split with a lovely cloud of foamed milk. Silk and satin, that’s what he calls it. Baby, that’s Flat White right there. 

You better believed you’ve never had a coffee so rich, so flavourful, so damned exquisite.
I used to be a three or four latte-a-day man, licking the caramel scorch-ring off the bottom of a truck-stop pot of joe, if I was having an especially bad morning. Moss showed me the light. He showed me the way. That lady friend of his, the redhead with the stems like polished marble? Rosie.  That was her name. Hot stuff, sweet fancy Moses. Cup of coffee like bountiful naked angels pouring pure sunshine and rainbows straight down your gullet. Haven’t seen her around lately though. Ol’ Moss has been a little down and out. Looks like he’s been run up one side and down the other with one of those riding mowers. Maybe I’d best check in on him.  Been hearing a lot of Chet Baker and not much Satchmo coming out of his place next door.

First things first, I’m feeling a mite slow ‘n’low myself, better shuffle on down to the corner, down to the hipster coffee bar. They got a new girl there, Australian. Mossy says they invented the flat white. She says that too. Says her name’s Pie-Pah, but the tag says Piper. Doesn’t matter what they call her when she can pull a cup of joe like that, I tell ya.

I’ve got a nice crisp ten-spot with her name on it. Pie-Pah.  Of course, ten bucks won’t buy me two large (one now and one for later) plus one for Moss, and leave her with a tip. So I guess Mossy’s on his own. Unless he wants to spot me a cup later. Yeah, he’ll be good for it. He usually is. Right?
Nah. Better not chance it. I’m gonna need that fix later. Alpha and Omega. One now, one for later.

I ain’t gonna argue with the Coffee Gods.

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

Axel Howerton is the genre-hopping, punch-drunk author of the horror novella Living Dead at Zigfreidt & Roy, and the darkly funny detective novel Hot Sinatra, which was a finalist for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. His newest novel Furr,available now from Tyche Books is a "modern gothic werewolf story that's part crime novel and part urban fantasy". Axel is the editor of the anthologies Death by Drive-In, Tall Tales of the Weird West and AB Negative. His work has appeared in places like Big Pulp, Fires on the Plain, Steampunk Originals, Night Shade, Dark Eclipse, Sleuth Magazine, and "The Big Lebowski" compendium Lebowski 101, as well as the anthologies A Career Guide to Your Job in Hell and Let It Snow.

When he's not on-duty as a hometown anti-hero, Axel spends most of his time roaming the untamed prairies of Alberta with his two brilliant young sons and a wife that is way out of his league.

            Hot Sinatra is a darkly funny detective novel featuring more coffee, music, romance and action than you can shake a dark chocolate Pirouline at. Available now in paperback, audiobook and ebook. $0.99 ebook sale December 5 – 9! 

You can find Axel here:

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11. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Milda Harris, Author of Adventures in Funeral Crashing

Imagine this: peanut butter, bananas, ice cream, and milk blended together to utter perfection. That's right. I'm talking about a peanut butter banana milkshake. Yum. No, actually that's not a good enough word to describe that miraculous blending of flavor. It doesn't quite do it justice. At least, that's how the heroine from my Funeral Crashing Mystery Series, Kait Lenox, feels. 

That awesome concoction is her favorite treat. She calls it heaven on earth. She likes her peanut butter banana milkshake from one place particularly, a coffee shop called Wired. Even a murder mystery can't deter her from them. She is that obsessed.

I'll admit it. I get cravings for a peanut butter banana milkshake every once in a while too and I had my own brief fixation with them. That's why it made its initial appearance. I was participating in the 3 Day Novel Contest when I started Adventures in Funeral Crashing and I was writing what I knew - that peanut butter banana milkshakes rock!

From that initial idea, the milkshake took on a life of its own in the story. Kait can't stop talking about them. It's her go-to comfort food and beverage of choice when it shows up on a menu. She even uses it to compare how great something is and the only thing that can beat the phenomenal bliss of a peanut butter banana milkshake from Wired is a kiss from her crush, Ethan Ripley. It must be true love then, right?    

Kait's love of the peanut butter banana milkshake has evolved, though. In Adventures in Funeral Crashing Kait gushes about them endlessly and drinks them whenever the opportunity presents itself, but in a later book, Adventures in Murder Chasing, you learn that there's more to the story than her love of a simple milkshake. She used to share her passion for them with her now ex-best friend, Ariel. It was their thing to go to Wired, drink them, and gossip...until their friendship ended. Their complicated friendship/ex-friendship spans the series and their dual love of peanut butter banana milkshakes is just a piece of their story.

So, now we have the milkshake's backstory. This brings up an interesting question. What will be the next chapter in the journey of Kait and her peanut butter banana milkshake love affair? What does the future hold? Will she be able to find one when she heads off to Paris in the next Funeral Crashing book or will a mystery get in the way? More importantly, who will be sharing that milkshake with her?

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

You can find Milda here:

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12. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Kim Hornsby, Author of The Dream Jumper's Secret

Maui Takeout and Home Cooking

I love to mention what my characters are eating in my novels. As an avid reader, I appreciate the mention of food in the storyline, especially if it gets me salivating. That’s the sign of a talented writer.

The Dream Jumper’s Secret, the second book in my Dream Jumper Series, begins on Maui in late May but the story soon goes to Carnation, Washington, a small town forty minutes east of Seattle, where May and June are customarily cool. There, meals are eaten at home, around a table, and menus are based on meat and potatoes. Both Jamey’s father and Tina’s parents have Anglo Saxon backgrounds and are over seventy-years-old, raised during a time when dinner included – meat, vegetable, starch—with little regard for cholesterol.

With the weather and the chef’s background factored in, here’s what Tina and Jamey eat in The Dream Jumper’s Secret:

On Maui we have Tina and Jamey (a brand new couple) eating teriyaki chicken, mango smoothies, cold beer, and mostly takeout. Tina has never had an interest in the kitchen as a business major and scuba shop owner, so she grabs food on the go. As a bachelor and a former soldier, Jamey is used to this too.

In Carnation, breakfasts consist of Canadian bacon, (I had to get that in there, because I was born and raised Canadian), fried eggs, and always coffee. Lots of coffee for Jamey. He’s a former Special Forces soldier! Lunches in Carnation tend to be cold cut sandwiches and homemade potato salad. Dinners are creamy clam chowder, stews, vegetable soup, or beef barley soup, all made from scratch. Jamey and his father sit at the old wooden table and slurp soup, using chunky homemade bread to clean their bowls afterwards.

At Tina’s family’s house, on Mercer Island, Washington, her mother and father eat meals in the formal dining room. The Greene’s have a housekeeper, Millie, who does the cooking. They dine on Chicken Cordon Bleu, Pot Roast with basted potatoes and carrots, and Roast Chicken. But, one night Tina goes to the local Chinese Restaurant and brings home Cashew Chicken, Fried Rice and Broccoli Beef, which is eaten informally.

When the story heads to Afghanistan, Tina finally shoves a hamburger and greasy fries with ketchup into her mouth. Then, she washes it all down with a chocolate milkshake from the Kandahar Airbase chow tent.

At the end of all my books, I include at least one recipe, and in The Dream Jumper’s Secret, I published Pops’ Seafood Chowder and Millie’s Pot Roast. It always makes me happy when a reader emails me to say they tried the recipe and loved it! Or, if I’m asked to speak at a Book Club and the hostess has made the recipe. I’ve had teriyaki chicken and mango salsa many times.

If you’re interested in The Dream Jumper Series, you can find my books at www.bit.ly/kimamzn on Amazon, or comment below for the chance to win your choice of the 3 ebook Dream Jumper Series or my Christmas Box Set of 8 Books, Criminal Christmas, with Ann Charles and Alexa Grace.

Comment question: What’s the last thing you ate?

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

You can find Kim here:

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13. FOODFIC: Queen Sugar - Natalie Baszile


Prosper Denton makes his boss eat dirt. And on his first day in her employ, at that.

Oh, it’s not as bad as it sounds. See for yourself:

Charley raised the dirt to her mouth. She sniffed: wood smoke, grass, damp like a sidewalk after it rained. She tasted: grit, fine as ground glass, chocolate, and what? Maybe ash? She closed her eyes as soil dissolved over her tongue, and slowly, slowly, almost like a good wine, the soil began to tell its story. She tasted the muck, and the peat, and the years of composted leaves, the branches and vines that had been recently plowed under, and the faint sweetness the cane left behind. She swallowed: a moldy aftertaste she knew would stay on her tongue for the rest of the afternoon.

Okay, so maybe the moldy aftertaste is that bad. But the lesson is invaluable.

You see, Charley Bordelon has just inherited an 800-acre sugar cane plantation in middle-of-nowhere Louisiana. The man she’s been paying to run it until she can relocate with her daughter from L.A. has not only not been doing his job; he then up and quits on her the day she gets to town.

So Charley finds herself a young, black, single mother from another state struggling to find a foothold in a town of old white men who’ve been there generations and would be more than happy to buy her out when she fails at this endeavor.

If Charley has any hope of succeeding (and putting all those jerks in their places), she’s going to have to dig in with both hands. Luckily, she’s not afraid of a little dirt ;)

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14. Please Welcome Peter Golden, Author of Wherever There is Light

Here’s the truth, and I rarely share it with anyone. I’m one of those people who gains weight if he looks in a bakery window. I’ve been known to stare longingly at a carrot cake or pecan pie, then go home and try on a new suit, only to discover that, amazingly, the pants are now too tight in the waist.

How does this happen? I don’t know, but it’s been going on since childhood, and the result is that I’m on an eternal diet.

Except when I write—

For some reason, writing about food doesn’t seem to add extra weight, and because part of my new novel, Wherever There Is Light, takes place in Paris right after World War II, I let my imagination run wild. Here are a few excerpts:

          If, as les existentialists claimed, existence was meaningless, then it made sense to begin each day with dessert, a plan that Julian put into action by devouring a pain au chocolat at one of the busy cafés in the square outside the Sorbonne.

I especially enjoyed writing this sentence because my usual more fare is more like fruit and granola without sugar—or flavor, if you ask me. Ah, but one of those flaky, rich chocolate filled croissants...

Of course, after eating a breakfast more suitable for a parakeet, I’m a bit peckish by noon, so it’s downstairs I go for a—you guessed it—a banana.

Then I head up to my office and sit at the computer, where I indulge myself:

          In the rainy light the houses below the top of Montmartre were gray and brown with orange chimney pots, and after Julian commented that it looked exactly like the print of the van Gogh painting that Kendall had hung in her Greenwich Village apartment, it began to rain harder, and they ducked into a café for coffee and macarons.

Are you hungry yet? I am, and so it is time for my main characters, Kendall and Julian, to eat dinner.

          The dining area at Dans le Vent was redolent with cassoulet—a garlicky aroma rising from the bowls of sausage, confit of duck and pork shoulder, sweet onions, tomatoes, and plump tarbais beans that were slow-cooked under a crust of bread crumbs and tasted like the coziest starlit autumn night you could remember.

I enjoyed writing this passage. Not that I felt full, mind you, but I didn’t gain an ounce, and I’ve always loved to dream.

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

You can find Peter here:

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15. Please Welcome Tamar Hela, Author of The Wrong Fairy Tale

What Do Aliens Eat?

If you were a dinner guest of magic-wielding aliens, what would they serve you? And, being that these aliens live in an enchanted forest, what type of food is available to begin with? Those were some of the questions I asked myself while writing my second book, The Wrong Fairy Tale. After a few brainstorming sessions, I came up with what I thought was the perfect answer—but we’ll get to that in just a bit.

Food can play a very important part in the setting of a novel. I think about Little Women, when the girls finally have quite the feast for Christmastime, but instead choose to give their bounty to a family in need. Or, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes to mind, where Edmund gorges himself on Turkish Delight when the queen uses it as a bribe. And who could forget Anne of Green Gables, who is so eager to try Raspberry Cordial and everything ends in disaster?

In my novel, The Wrong Fairy Tale, important information is given during mealtime. Our heroine, Alex, not only has to digest key details recently revealed, but foreign food as well. She and her friends have been miraculously transported to a magical forest filled with aliens (the Alfara) who look like elves. And in order to be a good guest and not offend her hosts, she must try the dish set before her: Prakova. Prakova, which I made up, of course, is an Alfaran delicacy. On the outside, it looks like a white, feathery crab, and on the inside, the meat is pink and tender. When Alex braves eating something alien, she is delighted to find that it actually tastes great—potential crisis avoided, thank goodness.

In our own lives, food plays an integral part of every day living. We often gather around the dinner table for holidays, celebrate a marriage at a reception with food and drink, or spend quality time with loved ones around a hot meal. Food brings us together. So, it’s only appropriate that food becomes part of a fictional story. I think that when used properly, the food a writer places in her story can actually make things more interesting. After all, as a reader, if I can smell and taste what the character is smelling and tasting, I can better relate to that character. I can put myself in their shoes and feel like I’m there. It’s a writer’s job to transport the reader, so why not use food as part of the process?

How about you? Do you like reading about food in a story? Does it help to give you a better visual, or is it simply unnecessary? 

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

You can find Tamar here:

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16. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Dianne Harman, Author of the Cedar Bay Cozy Mysteries

A Foodie’s Evolution From Reading About Food To Writing About It!
By Dianne Harman

Food, cooking, entertaining? Oh yeah! How does the song go? Something like, “These are a few of my favorite things!”

I started writing cozy mysteries a year ago as a way to integrate my love of food and dogs. I had previously written three books in the suspense genre, but I really couldn’t integrate the dogs and food much in them, although readers have told me that when they read Coyote in Provence, they gained ten pounds just from the food descriptions!

When I would mention that I was interested in writing cozy mysteries, people told me to stay in the suspense genre, and that it would really dilute my brand if I changed genres. My husband and I were at the Enchantment Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona a year ago. I’d had a wonderful breakfast in bed and made a few notes on my iPad. At that moment I decided to write what I really wanted to – books about food and dogs. I started Kelly’s Koffee Shop the morning after we returned and a year later I’ve published a book a month, all cozy mysteries and all having lots of food, recipes, and dogs. The three cozy mystery series, Cedar Bay, Liz Lucas, and the latest, High Desert, have really caught on. Evidently my readers have enjoyed the because each of the books has been a best seller in cozy mystery culinary books and animal books, plus Amazon has named me as on of their most popular authors for seven months.

Why food? I can’t remember a time I wasn’t interested in it. Cooking and trying out new recipes has always been one of my favorite things to do. I’ve been fortunate to have attended cooking classes and schools at a number of places here in the United States as well as in France, Portugal, Thailand, and Italy. In fact, one of the books, Murder at the Cooking School, is a loose rendition of the week we spent at a cooking school in Tuscany. The recipes in that book all come from that experience, but fortunately we didn’t encounter a murder!

My husband was a California Senator, and we entertained so much (read that as me cooking) that one of his advisors suggested we do fundraising dinners. I cooked five courses, and he charged $1,500 a person. They became so popular we had to do them back-to-back nights because we couldn’t accommodate all the people who wanted to attend. Trust me, that’s every politician’s dream!

One of my fondest memories of those times was when one of the guests who is a well-known California lobbyist asked my husband if he would give him the name of the caterer who had cooked the meal because he’d like to hire the person for his next event!

The recipes in my books are all from my personal collection and have been prepared by me for years. Many are from family members, because I’m not the only one in the family who likes to cook. Mother-in-law recipes, sister-in-law recipes, and my mother’s recipes are all in the books.

I’ve read that cooking for people is a form of showing love. I think that’s a charming thought and hope all of you are giving plenty of love!!!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and bon appetit!

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

You can find Dianne and her books here:

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17. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Guido Henkel, Author of HUNTED

Food plays such an elemental part of our lives that I am often surprised how little of it is shown in fiction, and even in movies or TV shows. I mean, after all, didn’t we just have breakfast, and then lunch, and now we’re eating again? There are days when it feels that our entire being revolves around nothing but food. And the worst part is that after a few hours it is depleted, and the cycle starts all over again. For cooks it must be a devastating feeling to have labored over a good meal for hours, only to have it gobbled down in a few minutes without any further pay-off, knowing that it was a rather vain attempt to stop the hunger, because before long, we’ll be have to have at it again. In the real world, food is king, not money!

A while back my editor returned one of my manuscripts to me with the general comment “I love that Jason Dark and Siu Lin always have these conversations over food.” It was only then that I realized, yes, my characters do sit down to eat and talk about things. As a writer, for me, it’s always a nice set piece that gives me a backdrop that I can make as rich and detailed as I want to, or relegate it to the background if I desire.

While I have sit-downs in my stories where the characters eat sumptuous dinners—it seems to make Jason Dark’s deductive juices flow—I also use food as coloration. Like a throw-away line. He may just walk past a stall in a market place and grab an apple and share it with his companion Siu Lin, or he purchases fish and chips from a street vendor while being on the run to solve his current supernatural mystery. Naturally, rice dishes are also ever-present, as my character Siu Lin prefers her diet more Asian.

Drink is equally important, I believe. Not necessarily booze, but the general consumption of liquids. My Jason Dark mysteries play in Victorian England, so the generally accepted notion is that everyone drinks tea, but in a twist of fate—or was it just my imagination?—I decided to make Jason Dark a coffee drinker—a preference handed down to him by his father, like many other things. At the same time, as one would expect, Siu Lin is a tea drinker, though not of the British Earl Grey variation necessarily, she prefers the Lapsang and Jasmine teas of her homeland of China.

While I find that I never pick food scenes consciously, they seem to be part of my writing fabric. This is, perhaps, most noticeable in the series’ first book, Demon’s Night. When readers meet Jason Dark for the very first time, his introduction takes place at a breakfast table where he eats with his live-in sister in-law, as she points out a particular newspaper article to him, which ultimately leads to him investigating the case in question. As I said, I did not write this scene with the conscious desire of wanting to write a “food scene.” To me it simply felt natural. A beautiful morning, sunlight falls in through the window, fresh rolls on the table and a cup of steaming coffee, the aroma filling the air. It is homey, and the perfect counterpoint to what just happened on the previous page—yes, as you may have guessed, the previous chapter involved a few people getting killed by some strange creature.

Feel free to check out any book in my Jason Dark series, or give the latest release, Hunted, a try, and see how many food moments you can spot in the book.

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

You can find Guido here:

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18. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Kelly Hashway, Author of The Monster Within

In The Monster Within, Samantha Thompson isn’t your typical seventeen-year-old. She died of cancer and was brought back to life by her loving boyfriend, Ethan. Now they’ve run away together to keep people from finding out what they’ve done. Assuming new identities and living on their own means fending completely for themselves. They live off crackers and bottled water for a while because they don’t have much money. That is until they both get jobs at a local diner. There, Ethan learns to cook while Sam waits tables. But even though they are able to eat good food, they both still have their quirky tastes. Sam dunks French fries in her vanilla milkshakes, and Ethan dunks his soft pretzels in his chocolate milk.
They aren’t the only characters who have odd tastes. Nora comes to the diner every day but never orders anything other than coffee. She drinks cup after cup after cup. And since she and Sam get off to a rocky start, the bitter coffee fits Nora’s personality perfectly.
The other side to this story is that Sam didn’t exactly come back to life as the girl she was before. There was a side effect. She has a monster inside her and she has to feed it in order to survive. And all the monster wants is to drain the life from other human beings, so Sam literally feeds on the life force of others—or she’ll die.
I never realized how much of a role food played in this book, but it’s pretty much everywhere. Throw in some witches and their aversion to salt, and food can pack a real punch in this story.

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

You can find Kelly here:

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19. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Michelle Zaffino, Author of The Love Quad


Cookies & Cocktails in The Love Quad, a teen novel by Michelle Zaffino
Released March 2015 by In the Stacks Publishing

In my teen novel The Love Quad, Emma's in college, so she's into cookies and cocktails. Which means - Sugar!

Emma actually bakes Nigella Lawson's salted peanut chocolate chip cookies in the book, partially because she needs to use baking as a distraction, and also because she wants to bring them to a guy named Spencer who she has a crush on. Here's the recipe:

Nigella Lawson’s Favorite Cookies

6 ounces unsalted butter
1 packed cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup salted peanuts
Melt butter, cool. Beat in brown and granulated sugar, then mix in vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder and soda. Fold in chocolate chips and peanuts. Refrigerate cookie dough for 20 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with a Silpat or other genius nonstick liner.
Shape the cookie dough into disks about 2.5 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Place cookies on baking sheet about 1½ inches apart. Bake until golden brown around edges and cracked and chewy in the middle, about 15 minutes. Cool for three minutes on sheets then remove to wire racks. Makes 20 cookies. Enjoy!

Things with Spencer and Emma don't work out romantically, because Spencer turns out to be gay, but they end up best friends anyway. They start hanging out at the radio station where they both work, and at clubs where Emma deejays. One of their favorite bevs to imbibe is a Zipper cocktail.

Here’s how to make a Zipper: 

Combine 1 shot of vodka and 
1 shot of Chambord raspberry liqueur 
over ice, then fill with 7up. 
If desired, add a lemon garnish.

Cheers!—Michelle Zaffino

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

You can find Michelle here:

Buy The Love Quad and the prequel How Good It Can Be:

Apple iBookstore                Google Play                Barnes & Noble

Amazon Kindle               Smashwords

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20. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Amelia Gormley, Author of STRAIN


Scavenging in the Post-Apocalyptic World

The worst of the plague has passed. The vast majority of the world’s population is dead. Sure, there are still cannibalistic zombie-like creatures roaming around, but for the most part it’s safe to venture out of seclusion and thank God it is, because your carefully hoarded supplies are almost exhausted and you’re in real danger of starving to death.

But that’s okay, because assuming other survivors haven’t gotten to them first, grocery store shelves are loaded with non-perishables that no one is going to need. So you arm yourself with a small arsenal and make your way to the nearest supermarket. So far, so good. No plague victims to infect you. No cannibals to eat you. And you’ve managed to evade the other survivors who would shoot you just on the off chance that you were after theirsupplies.

The store is dark, of course; the grid collapsed months ago when all the people keeping it up and running died. But you have flashlights and batteries. The windows and doors are intact, so it hasn’t already been looted. So you break in and slip inside.

And that’s when the smell hits you.

All that meat. All that fish. All that dairy and produce. All without refrigeration for the last several months. The milk jugs have exploded because the milk inside has fermented. Flies are all over; the rotten meat in the butcher’s counter display is infested with maggots. Mealmoths flutter everywhere; all the flour and oatmeal in the bulk bins and grains that weren’t in airtight containers are full of weevils.

Cans and some of the boxes are intact, but first you need to brave the rats you hear scurrying around in the dark. And you don’t have much time to do it, because sooner or later those cannibals are going to find you. Better hurry.

But let’s say your hideout was rural. Plenty of farmland, but protein might be a problem. But hey, cows and goats survived the plague too, and there are deer to hunt, right?

Terrific. Do you know how to butcher the carcass without nicking the intestines and tainting the meat? Do you know how to preserve the meat you managed to butcher, or will most of it rot before you have a chance to eat it?

Or maybe it’s ten years after the plague, and you’ve had to leave your refuge and all your supplies behind. Only now the non-perishables in the grocery store (the ones that survived the rats and looters) have, well, perished.

These are the sorts of scenarios I had to consider when writing my post-apocalyptic novel Strain and its prequel, Juggernaut and their upcoming sequel, Bane (all available from Riptide Publishing.) It’s easy to imagine that there will be plenty of non-perishable food around in the event of the end of the world, but the logistics of survival are a lot more complex than one might imagine.

Juggernaut takes place immediately before and after the world-ending plague, while Strain is set ten years later. For Strain and Bane, I had to imagine a world in which all the grocery stores had already been ransacked, and most clusters of survivors have already begun to relearn farming and herding livestock. Preserved meats—salted, smoked, jerky and so forth—would be common. For those who didn’t have supplies and know-how to preserve fruits and vegetables, produce would largely be a treat for the warmer months. This is why, sometime around the last major ice age, human beings evolved to be primarily carnivores.

Yes, you read that right; the claim that humans evolved as omnivores is actually quite misleading. We have the ability to eat vegetation and we require certain nutrients that are mainly found in fruits (such as vitamin C, lest we develop scurvy), but our digestive systems are actually far more similar to carnivorous animals than to omnivores. So in Strain, there’s more of an emphasis placed on seeing the characters eating fresh and preserved meats.

For Juggernaut, the logistics were quite a bit more complicated. I was dealing with characters who were still immediately accustomed to having endless quantities of food available to them with just a quick trip to the market. They wouldn’t know or have had time to relearn anything about farming or animal husbandry. Luckily the libraries will likely have gone unlooted and there will be books to read to learn about the subject. It will just take time.

But, for the most part, farming is a little more intuitive, and easier to accomplish for people who are still largely keeping themselves sequestered to avoid contagion. They wouldn’t dare venture out to hunt or try to round up the livestock that had managed to survive the neglect of not being fed and cared for by humans who had died. The survivors would probably focus most of their animal husbandry attempts on chickens, who are portable enough to make the journey to safety with the people in question. Their eggs could be a primary source of fat and protein and they’re small enough to maintain in quarantine pens and small enclaves of survivors.

Alas, gourmet cooking is likely to be an art form that will likely die out with most of the population. Fare will be simple and straightforward. Surviving takes enough effort without diverting energy to producing complex or time-consuming meals, especially since most cooking is going to happen over open fires. The electric grid, we’ve already established, has collapsed, and natural gas pipelines will only last as long as there are people to maintain them as well. Once they lose pressure, that’s gone too.

The same applies to the water supply. The only places that will have running water or indoor plumbing are places that have windmills to power pumps that will pressurizes pipes from in-ground wells. The digging of latrines will have to be strategic and most people used to indoor plumbing won’t realize that. We can probably anticipate a “second plague” of people dying from problems with sanitation and inadequate/compromised food supplies.
It’s almost enough to make one want to start stockpiling supplies and become a survivalist, isn’t it?

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

You can find Amelia here:

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21. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Katherine Gilraine, Author of the Index Series


How do people spell togetherness? What do they usually have on the sidelines while discussing anything in the world, from personal to politics? The answer is a four-letter word: food.

We don’t generally think about what part food plays within the story, but it’s something that we do need to consider as part of a matter of course in our writing. With all the time that we invest into building our worlds, building our characters, crafting the plots, we need to consider what sort of meals the people that we authors create use to come together.

Think of your everyday meals at work. Think of what a person would eat if they were traveling, or sitting down with family. What does one order on a date?

For myself, personally, the meal I love the most is seafood dynamite at this one sushi place I like. It’s a concoction of shellfish, topped with mayonnaise and cheese, and baked. Sounds very heavy, but it’s not; it’s an appetizer dish barely 4” in diameter. It is, however, delicious, and I love little more than hunkering down with it after a long week at work.

I’ve not quite paid attention to food as I wrote it in the books, but I always went with whatever seemed to be the most natural thing. A quiet, cozy dinner in a private dining room, just to friends and family - roast chicken and vegetables, red wine. Comfort food. A cozy private dinner, and yet to one of the characters, Kataria, who has never felt like she was part of a family, to feel as such was something new. For all the comfort of a family meal, she is not altogether yet part of the family that she was born into, and for all the comfort of everyone else at the table - her sister, the people who were right alongside with her sister - she is the one feeling like the odd girl out.

It brings the next part of the food equation into the table: drink. A lot of people drink. A lot of people drink different things for different reasons. Some don’t drink at all. But it’s just as important as the role that food plays.

So let’s take Kataria for an example. After the end of the fourth volume of The Index Series,Kataria is every bit as shaken up by the Battle of Earth as anyone else. Unlike her sister, however, she never felt like she had a safety net to work through the psychological after-effects of the battle. Her sister, Arriella, stops sleeping and barely eats, which directly impacts her work. Conversely, Kataria is determined to keep everything together, and this turns her to the well-known comfort of humans: alcohol.

However, regardless of how Kataria feels when she’s alone, which is evident by the lowball after lowball that she knocks back to dull out everything she doesn’t want to think about, there is always a place for her at her sister’s dinner table. Whether it’s exotic pear champagne from another world, or just simple chicken and veggies, she is welcomed and accepted - regardless of whether or not she feels as such. She, like anyone else sitting down at a new dinner table, just needs to be brave enough to take the first bite.

Katherine Gilraine, wishing a bon appetit. 

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

You can visit Katherine here:

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22. Please Welcome Staci Greason, Author of The Last Great American Housewife


Kate, the heroine-in-training in my novel, The Last Great American Housewife, has a good life – a husband, two kids, and a house in the suburbs -but then her mother dies, and nothing is right. Her good life suddenly feels empty. She hunts, desperately, for something to satiate the hunger. At first, Kate shadows elderly women home from the grocery store. Making certain these women get home safely gives Kate a reason to get up in the morning. But then she is arrested and her days once again are void of meaning. She wishes she had a different life.

One night, over chips and salsa and too many margaritas, she meets a beautiful young college student and poet named Jeremiah. He looks at her the way her husband Nate used to when they were younger – filled with desire.

They meet in the middle of the afternoon at Norm’s on La Cienega. With their legs pressed against each other under the table, they share a slice of cherry pie. The sticky filling is too sweet, the crust, buttery and flaky, and the young man delivering the bite isn’t Nate. For that moment, the pie is all that Kate can taste. She is full. She is a different person - beautiful, carefree and daring. Not a wife and mother wearing elastic waistband jeans on the verge of forty. But after the last of the syrup has been scraped from the plate, all that remains is a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.  The ardent suitor is just a young boy with long hair who writes poetry and can only be loved in another history. Kate is empty.

The question of what sustains us and what is sustenance is at the heart of The Last Great American Housewife.  Most of us live under the delusion that happiness lies somewhere outside. If only we had the perfect husband, the perfect kids, body, car, job, enough money, time, freedom (whatever we think would fill that hole) then our happiness would be fed.  Is our environment responsible for filling our need for self-love, confidence and happiness? Or must we learn to feed ourselves?

Eventually, Kate climbs a tree by the mall to save it from being torn down.  Living on the platform, she quickly learns which foods can be sustained from the heat, wind, cold, birds and squirrels.
Things a housewife can eat up in a tree while hiding from her family include:
Granola Bars
Dark Chocolate
Beef Jerky

That is, unless it rains.  Then she’s pretty much stuck with Gatorade and apples.
Forty feet above the earth, Kate finally discovers the best recipe for happiness:  facing oneself. And when she climbs down, she is no longer hungry.
Except for thin crust pizza with white sauce, fresh basil and sliced tomatoes. Served with a nice Chianti.

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

Staci Greason starred on the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives, as the late Isabella Toscano-Black. She created the hit weekly food column "Dishing" for MODE magazine, and was the author of the popular blog Anxiety: a Love Story as well as the novel The Last Great American Housewife (optioned by Rockinghorse Productions). When she isn’t writing or hiking, she loves to coach fellow scribes at The Write Muse (www.thewritemuse.biz).

You can also find Staci here:

Twitter @StaciGreason                    Facebook                    Amazon.com

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23. Please Welcome Alisse Lee Goldenberg, Author of Bath Salts


Canned foods, freshly grown vegetables, arctic goose, caribou, and fish all caught and hunted by the characters are what is being eaten in the zombie novel Bath Salts. It is the middle of the zombie apocalypse and two women living in Toronto, Canada see the reality of the situation around them. They pack up friends and family and run off to the heart of Nunavut where they set up a compound built out of two tiny trailer houses surrounded by a metal fence.

There, they now have to focus on survival. Naturally, the subject of food comes up a lot. Food, is a basic necessity for a person to live, and as such, the characters don’t want to merely get by. They set up a hydroponics shed in which they grow their own vegetables and fruits, as well as whatever herbs they can to make what they manage to trap and hunt more palatable. They keep a couple of mating gorals as livestock to provide them with milk and cheese.

The character of Ali takes on the role of mother for the entire group. She sees there survival as being about more then just living. For her, survival is keeping the humanity of the group intact. As such, she focuses on making their meals about more than just food. It’s about finding a way to make a birthday cake out of old cake mix and goose eggs. It’s about marking the holidays with the appropriate feast, substituting goose and caribou for turkey and roast beef. She sees the food she prepares as comfort and familiarity; something for the group to cling to and keep their spirits alive.

In contrast, An takes on the role of the hunter. She goes out, armed and ready, killing zombies and animals for their meals with relative ease. She believes that survival means staying alive, no matter what. Her attitude is reflected in her actions, and while she is a part of the group, her beliefs keep her as somewhat apart from it all. She will partake in their meals and their attempts to keep the past alive, but her heart isn’t in it like the others.

With two differing viewpoints, how will this group keep together, when their survival against bandits, zombies, and the elements counts on them being a team? Find out in Bath Salts.

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

You can find Alisse here:


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24. FOODFIC: The Royal Diaries, Elizabeth I - Kathryn Lasky


I loved how this format gave the young heroine a big voice. This novel introduces us to Elizabeth I, daughter of the infamous Henry VIII and his scandalous 2nd wife Anne Boleyn. And through Elizabeth’s diary, we learn that she’s just like any girl in any century, longing for the love and approval of her father. This peeling back of layers to reveal a real person (where used to be only a printed name in a textbook followed by a few carefully chosen facts and dates) reminds me of Philippa Gregory’s work. I say all the time that if her books were in print when I was in high school, I’d have been a much better history student!

So for either – or both – series of books, what is it that so handily captures readers? Is it the writing? The girls’ voices? The female perspective?

Or could it be the food?

Okay, it’s not the food if we’re talking appeal, because, well, historic food is historically disgusting. In Anne’s case, her father’s favorites are goose, swan, rabbit, lamb, quail and lamprey eel. Blech. I have no idea if they sent royal fisherman to catch the eels in the wild or if they just hauled the suckers up out of the moat – not that it matters – but that eel actually lost to the swan in my grossest delicacy ranking when I read that they turned the swan’s neck into pudding. It’s just too much for my 21st century American stomach to handle.

Of course it gives me greater respect for Anne and her half-sister Mary and all the other women for whom such bad food was just the cherry on top of the sundae of crap dumped on them by the ruling men. Women were treated and traded like cattle – exquisitely, prize-winning cattle – with no choices socially, academically, and even gastronomically. Sadly, the meals are just one of many details of court life that leave a bad taste in our mouths, yet the stories of Anne and her peers make us hungrily read on.

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25. FOODFIC: Please Welcome R.S. Guthrie, Author of Honor Land


Though almost any food can arguably be freeze-dried, unfortunately the danger, fear, adrenaline, loss, honor, kinetic aggression, blood, and unavoidable death that accompanied each soldier in war could not. Still, the men in Delta Team Spiderman carried all of the above, freeze-dried or not.

Food in the middle of a hot war zone—and Delta Force troops, along with the Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, and Land Teams), were always in the most searing—could be found, if fortunate enough, in the form of standard issue MREs (Meals Ready to Eat—another arguable use of terminology).

The standard-issue, sealed number ten cans were filled with meat, vegetables, grain, breakfast, or dessert . Some examples of warfare delicacies were freeze-dried spaghetti, beef stew, stroganoff, and the infamous scrambled eggs that had the consistency of oatmeal (which was also available). There were also corn, rice, and a few more of the regular entrees, sides, and other necessities.

However, most MREs contained two-thousand calories, and Special Forces personnel required significantly more caloric intake to climb miles to acquire strategic positions in near-vertical, shale terrain, utilizing any object—a small conifer or rock or scraggly bush—to hide themselves on any given mission. Because of the risk of giving away such key, calculated locations, perilously bereft of cover, Special Forces teammates often survived mostly off super-calorie tubes of a Gatorade-like drink, a high-energy, high-calorie, pasty recovery concoction that could also be eaten silently from a tube, and (surprisingly enough) freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches, which unlike most MREs, could be eaten straight from the package (and were considered by all soldiers a delicacy). Fortunately they were also high in sugar and calories, so Special Forces teams always kept plenty on hand for mission deployment (and down-time eats).

In the Sheriff James Pruett novels (Blood Land, Money Land, and Honor Land), the hero is normally the protagonist, but Pruett takes a backseat in Honor Land as far as “heroes” are concerned. His godson and decorated Delta soldier, Kyle Yoder, has returned to the States to find he can only cope by living on the streets. Then, as if his post-war psychological problems aren’t ruthless enough on the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, he’s eventually accused of a quadruple-homicide that occurs just shortly into the usual revelry of Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Before he’s arrested, however, Kyle is allowed to live behind a kind Vietnam veteran’s restaurant, and the owner brings him what in his situation would be considered a wide variety of excellent food—much better than the MREs they carried in the sand-blown wasteland of the Middle East and the rocky terrain of Afghanistan.

Even living on the street in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Kyle is served a hot plate of whatever he likes from Papa’s Place. Retired Sergeant Mick “Papa” Rourke never brings his “guest” leftovers, either, but freshly-cooked biscuits and gravy, properly-prepared scrambled eggs with peppers and bacon, lunch-time sandwiches or a warm cheeseburger, and then for dinner a rotating assortment of main dishes of cube steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, city-famous fried chicken, and a whole menu full of delicious food (none freeze-dried).

Yet though Kyle never says so, only thanking his friend and fellow veteran, he does miss the freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches.

Whether the county lock-up serves any kind of ice cream sandwich is unlikely, and the food will be considerably worse than that to which he’s grown accustomed. Whether it is better than the MREs, and whether or not Kyle will be found guilty of the capital crimes, waits for the patriotic hero in the future. For the latter, only his godfather, Sheriff James Pruett, can mobilize the effort to find the real killers.

Unless the real killer is already in custody.

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

You can find Rob here:

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