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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: The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern


I love carnival food. Who doesn’t? My favorite is the fries; they have that inexplicable something* that is somehow conjured up by every unique traveling show, yet can be found nowhere else on Earth.

Maybe it’s magic.

Now don’t tell me don’t believe; real magic is in fact the heart (if not the stomach) of this story. Magic that hides in plain sight by masquerading as trickery.

There is Celia, billed by the night circus as an illusionist, but who actually can alter reality; her show might involve tossing a coat into the air only to have the silk fold in on itself to form the shape of a raven and then fly away.

Marco’s similar, if arguably lesser, ability enables him to manipulate perception – closer to what we think of as stage magic, yet he needs no diversionary tactics since he can truly manipulate what one sees.

Unfortunately, their magical prowess doesn’t equate to psychic ability and the two don’t know that they’re actually being pitted against each other in a contest to the death – the arena for which being the circus that they travel within.

So there’s magic andmystery and romance, yet I can’t help but circle back to my favorite question: What are they serving at this magically real venue? More magic hidden in plain sight, of course! There are fantastically delicious cinnamon things – layers of pastry and cinnamon and sugar all rolled into a twist and covered in icing, as well as spiced cocoa with clouds of extra whipped cream on top. Completely expected carnival foods made exceptional with magic, but still believably real. The only hints at the unusual are the chocolate mice (not at all like the Harry Potter frogs) and the edible paper featuring detailed illustrations that match their respective flavors, which frankly doesn’t sound at all appetizing to me.

And therein lies perhaps the truth of it all: we think we want the bizarre, but we really just want the best-ever version of the usual. We have to be able to relate to it in order to accept it; we need to believe that we are seeing and tasting the exceptional but normal, because admitting that it’s supernatural, might make it suddenly untrue. As in, It can’t be magic, because then it wouldn’t be really happening. Since nobody wants that, we have to deny the magic in order to enjoy it. See? I need them to serve me magical food out of a real-looking fake kitchen cart so that I can savor the flavors without letting doubt and disbelief sour the taste. ;)

*Probably oil that’s been sitting in a fryer for 50 years and would be labeled toxic by a health inspector if one could ever catch up with the show. But I wouldn’t have it any other way; some secrets are better left unexamined. ;)

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2. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Ksenia Anske, Author of Siren Suicides


Darling Shelley invited me to guest post on her blog about food. Food my characters eat. Curiously, in my first trilogy, SIREN SUICIDES, there is hardly any talk of food except human souls, which is what sirens sing out of people, for, well, nourishment. But in my second novel ROSEHEAD a 12 year old American girl, Lilith Bloom, and her talking whippet Panther, travel from Boston to Berlin for a family reunion, and there they pig out on hearty German food, which is partially inspired by my own memories of traveling from Moscow to Berlin (I was 11) and marveling at the abundance of food unlike what I have ever seen in my life, considering the fact that while I devoured fat German sausages,  most Russians had to get food by coupons.

Upon arriving for the first time for breakfast, Lilith approached it uncertainly:

She expected breakfast to be the usual American fare, but what she saw made her gasp with glee. The table offered all kinds of jam, marmalade, syrup, and nugat-crème; plates of rolls, bowls of yoghurt, and trays of freshly made waffles that issued a delicious smell. 

In contrast to this, Panther tells Lilith that he eats mastiffs for breakfast, as a joke. You see, there is a vicious mastiff in the mansion, and, of course, there is an immediate rivalry between the two, although later Panther primarily eats raw steak, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, because both Lilith and Panther very much like Holmes and Watson, investigate the cause for the rose garden surrounding the mansion to behave strangely, and suspect it to be carnivorous, there are also many instances when Lilith is close to losing her breakfast, although she never does. She often skips lunch, her and her dog, traversing in the midst of foul smelling greenery, hoping to find the cause for both the stink and the noises the flowers produce. If it were me, I certainly would prefer to do said activity on an empty stomach.

There remains the case of dinners. On most days, exhausted and scratched all over (remember, this is a rose garden we're talking about), Lilith and Panther usually came back to the mansion to eat dinner, and, funny enough, Lilith requested breakfast for dinner, nostalgic of American food:

Can I please have breakfast for dinner?” She said to the housekeeper. “I’d like an omelet with cheese, American style, with bacon, sausage and blueberry pancakes on the side. Oh, and a bowl of steak for Panther.” 

They do, however, eat the typical German sausage, the bratwursts, and rostbratwursts, blutwursts, bockwursts, knckwursts, leberwursts, and, of course, potatoes, fried potatoes, potato salad,  potato pancakes and the like, with mustard. Well, now my mouth is watering from just writing this. Panther manages to steal the sausage right off Lilith's fork, all the while telling her (he is a talking dog, after all) that he would prefer squirrels, that he even dreams of squirrels:  

It was the most beautiful dream I’ve ever seen! I was chasing squirrels, a dozen fat juicy squirrels.” He rolled up his eyes. “Then I caught them, they tasted like— (He gets interrupted and sadly we never find out what exactly they tasted like.)

There are also macabre and grotesque references to unusual food images, like this one: 

Whatever happened to your beret?” Gabby asked suddenly. “I thought I saw you put it on this morning." 
Lilith inhaled, exhaled, and resorted to the only defense she had against her mother’s wrath. “Wild elephants ate it, mother. They thought it was a gigantic strawberry from Mars. In fact, the garden was full of them. Elephants, not strawberries. I’m dreadfully sorry we missed dinner. We watched them do a private ballet performance for us. In tutus. Right, Panther?” Panther raised his ears and flashed her a look that could only mean, Did you really say, elephants in tutus?

I think in all, I had fun writing in food choices into ROSEHEAD and playing with them. And now I will go make myself some German sausage, because all this writing about German food made me hungry. So thanks for reading, and bye. *opens the fridge*

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

 You can find Ksenia and her books here:

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3. FOODFIC: Jinx - Sage Blackwood


The only problem with this book was me. Most specifically, my current stage of life, which revolves around small children.

I’m NOT saying this book isn’t for parents of small children, nor other adults, nor children. In fact, it has something for all of those people – wizards and witches, werewolves and trolls, new worlds and even new words (for me, at least!). *

No, what kind of grabbed my leg and wouldn’t let go was the stepfather/wizard/exchange-of-young-boy situation that launches the story. As a parent, I found it extremely difficult to witness even a fictional man selling a child to a stranger in the woods. And then the boy going home with said stranger had me practically yelling aloud, “Don’t go!”

That’s why I had to step outside of myself to continue reading; my personal concerns were blocking me from enjoying the story! When the stranger (later revealed as wizard) brought Jinx to his isolated home in the woods and served up what to the boy was a feast like he’d never before experienced (bread, cheese, pickles, jam, apple cider, and pumpkin pie), and my inner voice screamed, “It’s all a trick; he must be a pedophile**!” I had to silence it for good. (Okay, for 350 pages.)

Once I removed the mom-tinted glasses and went forth with the bright and clear eyes of a young reader, I loved every scene Blackwood showed me. Yes, I could just enjoy that hot cider without having it spoiled by the bitter taste of suspicion!

Better yet, I could see the world as Jinx did, with every person’s feelings expressed as colors and images around them. Turned out, Jinx had his own magic before he even met Simon the wizard – perhaps metaphoricizing the magic innate to every child that life/adults take away.
So the moral here is the same for people of all ages and stages: read this one as a child – better yet, with a child! – and just enjoy the magic. And the pumpkin pie. ;)

*Demesne. Look it up; I had to!
**Let me be clear: the wizard is NOT a pedophile, nor are there child molesters of any sort in this book.

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4. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Christa Polkinhorn, Author of the Family Portrait Series


One of the readers of my novels pointed out jokingly that my characters love food and wine and drink copious amounts of coffee. She is right! I enjoy reading food descriptions in novels and many of my characters like to eat and drink.

Food, the preparation and enjoyment of it, can be a powerful device in a novel. Eating is a very sensual thing and in our writing, we try to convey sensual experiences with words. We want our readers to be involved with the story and one way to do this is to let them perceive the world through the senses of the characters. Let them smell, hear, see, and taste. It brings the story to life and makes for much more interesting reading.

In addition, the way we eat, what we eat, like any other activity, can say something about the rest of our lives and hence, in a novel, about the lives of the characters we create. Here are a few examples of my novels where food plays a role in the Family Portrait trilogy.

The first book, An Uncommon Family, starts with six-year old Karla, eating an ice cream cone:

        Karla licked the crispy cone, trying to catch the sliding droplets before they hit the ground. The raspberry ice cream was a dark purple, her favorite color. … She turned around and peered through the window of the art shop, where her aunt was picking up two framed pictures. When she looked back at the sidewalk, her breath caught.
“Mama?” she whispered.
She saw the woman only from behind, but the bounce in her step, the long, reddish-blond hair flowing down her back, swaying left and right, the tall, slender figure—it must be her mother. She tossed the rest of the ice cream into the trashcan, got up, and ran after the woman.

The above “ice cream scene” encompasses one of the books main themes: Karla’s longing for her mother. When a young girl tosses her favorite ice cream cone into the trash to run after someone, that someone must be critical to her life. The child’s action startles us and we are eager to know what happens. Seeing a woman who reminds her of her mother turns the peaceful enjoyment of her sweet into a heartbreaking chase after a phantom. As we find out a little later, Karla’s mother is in fact dead and the child hasn’t been able to fully accept her loss yet.

Later in the book, Karla tells her painting teacher and mentor, Jonas, about a dream that scared her and made her sad. Jonas knows just the thing that would bring some relief to Karla: comfort food or drink—a cup of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream—which he lovingly prepares.

        Jonas poured the milk into the mugs, shook the bottle of whipped cream, and squeezed a dollop out of it. “Try it.” He handed a mug to Karla.
 Karla took a sip and licked some of the whipped cream off the top. “Good,” she said.
 They sat on the couch in the living room, sipping hot chocolate. Karla put her mug down on the table and walked over to the wall to look at a photo of Eva. She stood in front of the picture, seemingly absorbed, then turned around. “She’s very pretty.”
 Jonas nodded. “Yes, she was beautiful.”
 Karla came back to the sofa and picked up her mug again. After she took another sip, she gazed at Jonas with her large dark eyes. “Do you dream about her sometimes?”
“Yes, quite often.”

The scene shows us something about Jonas’s kindness and love of his student, and it introduces us to his own heartbreak.

Other food scenes in the book provide information about the environment and the seasons in Switzerland. The scent of roasted chestnuts in the old town of Zurich, a restaurant that serves fondue in winter, or, in summer, the refreshing taste of ice-cold gazosaor lemonade.

In the second book, Love of a Stonemason, Karla invites Andreas, her new boyfriend, a stonemason and sculptor, for dinner. It is raining and Andreas builds a fire in the fireplace. The scent of burning wood and the smell of cooking mingle, creating a sensuous atmosphere which leads to their first lovemaking. In the morning, they wake up hungry and Karla prepares a rich breakfast of eggs, bacon, bread, butter, and jam.

        Andreas scraped up the leftover egg with a piece of bread and licked his fingers. “This is excellent, by the way.” He pointed at his plate. “I could get used to this.”
       “I’m glad you like it.” Karla was amused by his appetite.

Here we get a glimpse of Andreas’ character. He is a sensuous man, somewhat unpolished but compassionate. He enjoys food and Karla, who is a talented painter and an excellent cook, knows the saying, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and prepares some outstanding meals. Another dinner scene gives us some insight into the characters of Andreas’ family, when Karla meets his mother, his aunt and uncle for the first time.

        It was only now that Karla noticed a third person in the room, a thin, quiet, unassuming woman, probably in her fifties. Andreas introduced her as his mother. She greeted Karla with a shy smile. After saying hello, she seemed to disappear among the other people. Karla was amazed how little mother and son resembled each other.
        Aunt Maria had prepared a typical dish of the area for lunch—coniglioand polenta, rabbit stew with slices of corn mush fried in olive oil and topped with parmesan cheese—as well as vegetables and salad. It was a very tasty meal, but Karla, who by nature wasn’t a big eater, constantly had to stop Maria from putting more food on her plate.
Cara, you’re much too thin, you have to eat.” Uncle Alois tried to put another piece of meat on Karla’s plate.
“Leave her alone, for god’s sake,” Andreas finally intervened. “You know, Alois, not everybody can eat as much as you do. You could actually do with a little less yourself. You must be twice as fat as when I saw you last time.”
“Don’t be fresh, young man.” Uncle Alois grinned. “Here, have some more wine.”

In the above scene, we get to know the family by the way they behave at the table. We see Andreas’ unassuming mother, we witness his kindly aunt and boisterous uncle showing their old-fashioned hospitality and we experience the playful bantering between Andreas and his uncle and we realize that Karla despite her cooking skills is a slender woman and modest eater.

In Emilia, the third book of the trilogy, a meal at a grotto in the south of Switzerland (grotto is a special kind of country restaurant), Andreas and his children eat out, since Karla, the mother, was visiting her ailing father in Peru. The youngest child, Emilia, wants to eat her spaghetti the same way her older sister does, rolling the strands on her fork.

       He (Andreas) scrunched his forehead and glared at Emilia. “What are you doing? Stop playing with your food.”
 Emilia, who had been trying to roll spaghetti on her fork, which kept sliding off, looked at him with big eyes, which quickly filled with tears. She was obviously shocked at her father’s unusually harsh tone. So was Laura.

An otherwise loving father, Andreas also has a temper and the tension that has been building between him and his wife brings out his angry side. The conflict in the family is made even more obvious during a meal, which is normally a time of sharing and relaxation.

In all these examples food is used both as a way to enrich and enliven a story as well as showingunderlying themes and giving us insight into the characters. 

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

 You can find Christa and her books here:

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5. FOODFIC: Divergent - Veronica Roth


Beatrice is a girl after my own heart.

She leaves not only her family but her entire faction of society behind just because of the food.
Okay, that’s not the wholestory, but she does sarcastically say it after eating a hamburger (or circular pieces of meat wedged between round bread slices, as she describes it) for the very first time. Although her new peers are shocked by her life inexperience, Tris (as she now calls herself) is not embarrassed to explain that in her old lifestyle – Abnegation* – they believe such extravagance is considered self-indulgent and unnecessary.

She’s never had interesting cuisine, nor fashionable clothing, nor even a real friend because she’s never had any sort of free will to make choices or even have opinions; Abnegates live selflessly in the fully literal sense, as in no self. At all.

Of course, while that may be how society has required her to behave outwardly, it’s never been how she’s felt on the inside, which is why on choosing day she makes the drastic choice to join the Dauntless.** She’s certainly not the only 16-year-old to switch groups, but the resounding shock at her decision implies that her move is indeed the boldest.

What’s ironic is that much of her Abnegation upbringing helps her succeed at the Dauntless training, although she does feel constantly torn between acting selfless orbrave. And what she sees as a struggle, the powers that be view as duplicitous and uncontrollable. Divergents like Tris are not only a problem, but one that must be eliminated at all cost.

And that’s how we as readers find ourselves cheering for Tris to succeed – no, excel – at Dauntless training; we want her to not only reconcile and use both her bravery and her selflessness – sometimes even both in the same moment – but also to use her dangerous Divergence to upset a system that no longer serves the people.

Oh, and we’d like her to stay well fed, too. ;)


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6. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Luke Murphy, Author of Dead Man's Hand


When I turned fifteen and started reading adult chapter books (Oh no, there is no way I’m telling you the year to show my age LOL), I always found myself asking the same question:

When do these characters eat, sleep, use the restroom, etc.?

There always seemed to be unanswered questions left by authors, those little things that we all do, but that rarely get mentioned in books.  It’s not that I want the author to go on and on about a character’s eating or bathroom habits, but some small mention would suffice.

So when I first contacted Shelley Workinger about a possible blog post, and she told me what her blog was all about, I thought it was a great idea. She was really on to something when she mentioned to me that a fictional character’s diet can really tell the reader something about that character. Some readers want to know these minor details.

My debut novel, DEAD MAN’S HAND, is an International bestselling crime-thriller that was released in October 2012. The novel takes readers inside the head of Calvin Watters, a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector, who was once an NFL rising-star prospect, now a fugitive on the run.

But for this post, I wanted to write about the new novel I’m currently working on, specifically the main character, detective Charlene Taylor.

To put it lightly, Charlene Taylor is a self-hating, alcoholic, one-night standing, tough but broken individual who never knew her father. She was the “boy” her father never had, and has decided to follow in his footsteps as a member of the LAPD.

So in order to demonstrate the kind of character Charlene is, I needed to really sell it with her diet and eating habits.

Charlene is an “eat-on-the-run” kind of gal. Grab a muffin or fruit on her way out the door. Living a fast-paced, almost carefree single lifestyle, she has take-out restaurants on her speed dial, and the local neighborhood sushi bar is familiar with her frequent post-sex phone calls for delivery. I felt that having a sushi restaurant on speed dial, where they are used to her “dinner for 1” orders, shows Charlene’s age (I think of sushi as a more youthful meal), health concerns (obviously sushi is a very healthy food), and her loneliness (ordering always for one and having it on her speed dial).

To me, this was the ultimate form of using food and diet to show who a character really is and allow a reader to make his/her own judgements and conclusions.

Food/diet is a very important tool that can be used by authors to “show” instead “tell” readers about a certain character and his/her traits.

My newest novel is still in the editing stages, but it has been a fun project.

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

Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, three daughters and pug.

He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).

Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

Catch up with Luke at these sites:

Back cover text for DEAD MAN'S HAND

What happens when the deck is stacked against you…

From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

…and the cards don't fall your way?

When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.

What if you're dealt a Dead Man's Hand?

Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.

"You may want to give it the whole night, just to see how it turns out." 
—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lincoln Letter

"Dead Man's Hand is a pleasure, a debut novel that doesn't read like one, 
but still presents original characters and a fresh new voice." 
—Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Flower

"Part police procedural, part crime fiction, Dead Man's Hand is a fast, gritty ride." 
—Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Hush

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7. 3-Year Blogiversary!

Anyway, below are most (I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few) of the books I read over the past year that weren’t reviewed here at BWATE?

And, as always, please feel free to suggest some great reads for me in the coming year. :)

T.J. Forrester – Black Heart on the Appalachian Trail

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8. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Katherine Roberts, Author of the Echorium Trilogy


Would you eat a Half Creature? 
Guest post by Katherine Roberts

If you’re not a strict vegetarian, then you’re probably fine with eating animal flesh and maybe a bit of fish. But how far would you take that? Would you eat a horse? Would you eat your dog? Would you eat a mermaid?

Although I’m not vegetarian myself, I think I would find that last one difficult (I’d find the other two difficult, too – though if I were starving and someone served up the meat in a shrink-wrapped package, maybe I could do it!) On the other hand, mermaids don’t exist so that’s okay.

But I write fantasy! And one of the tricks of writing a realistic imaginary world is to ask this kind of question. So let’s suppose for a moment that mermaids do exist…

In my Echorium trilogy, you’ll meet several types of half creature: merlee (half fish, half human – our mermaids and also mermen), centaurs (half pony, half human),
quetzal (half bird, half human) and naga (half water snake, half human). Most people respect the Half Creature Treaty that forbids exploitation of half creatures. But at the start of the first book Song Quest, unscrupulous hunters are netting the merlee for their eggs and gutting the females to extract this delicacy before casting their bodies back into the sea. Think caviar, mermaid-style.

My imaginary world is policed by human Singers, who live in the Echorium (a bluestone castle on the Isle of Echoes) and use Songs of Power in the place of weapons. Alerted by the merlee’s cries for help, they set out to investigate taking with them two young novices – Rialle, who can communicate with half creatures, and Kherron who cannot. They follow the hunters’ trail high into the mountains of the Karch, where they discover the small green merlee eggs are destined for the young Karchlord Javelly, who is chronically sick… the eggs are supposed to cure him. In the Karch, the Singers discover another violation of the Treaty – quetzal are being kept in cages, waiting to be plucked and boiled for the lord’s table. This looks like a direct violation of the Treaty by the people of the Karch. But things are not quite as they seem. When Lord Javelly’s priests are discovered injecting the merlee eggs before delivering them to their young lord, the Singers must use their Songs of Power not only to protect the half creatures but also to save the life of the young Karchlord.

The half creatures in my Echorium books are based on creatures from our own myths. I gave them limited intelligence along with their animal instincts, and was fascinated by the question of whether they should be treated as low-intelligence humans or highly-intelligent animals. If human, then obviously eating them would be considered cannibalism and wrong. If animal, then maybe it’s more acceptable… provided you’re not vegetarian, of course! The equivalent squirm-factor in our world might be eating a chimpanzee (that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when our hero and heroine are served with a dessert of frozen monkey brains inside the original monkey heads has always freaked me out!)

In the end, I decided the half creatures in my fantasy world should be protected species and are not to be eaten under any circumstance. Do you agree?


The Echorium trilogy was first published by Chicken House/Scholastic. The first title Song Quest won the Branford Boase Award for best debut novel for young readers in 2000, and all three books are now re-available:

Song Quest - paperback (Catnip Publishing, UK), ebook coming soon.

Crystal Mask - Kindle ebook (special offer this weekend 99c / 99p)

Dark Quetzal - Kindle ebook (special offer this weekend 99c / 99p)

Katherine Roberts writes fantasy and legend for young readers. Her latest series is the Pendragon Legacy about King Arthur’s daughter (which also contains a mermaid, although they don’t eat her!)

Meet Katherine here: 

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

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9. FOODFIC: Enclave - Ann Aguirre


It seems like every other book on the shelves these days tries to hook you with the line: For fans of the Hunger Games. Being a HGfan myself, I have had disappointingly huge success at proving that claim wrong.

Until Enclave.

Unlike the wannabe novels that take place in malls or high schools or other civilized venues, Enclave’s heroine Deuce is actually struggling to survive in a harsh environment – hers being, well, underground. Because in this arguably bleaker-than-HG future, the surface is no longer habitable and humans are forced to live in the damp darkness below.

The members of Deuce’s “society” have to eat what little they can grow in such conditions (mainly mushrooms) and what meat they can trap, the specifics of which I will leave up to your imagination, not only because it’s not hard to guess what sort of creatures must be scurrying into the traps, but also because the author herself never names those not-so-tender morsels.

And perhaps Aguirre makes such an omission because Deuce herself can’t name the critters, as the names of so many things were lost over the decades that’ve passed since normal surface life ceased to exist.

But names and words and language must have stayed alive through books, you might insist.

Not so much; when the people were driven underground from a great unexplained apocalyptic event, they left most everything behind. There is an archivist of sorts who keeps any book and trinket “artifacts” that the hunters discover while out patrolling the tunnels, but not only are enclave members not allowed to read or study them; “hoarding” any such items in one’s personal space is grounds for banishment.

No daylight, no fresh food, no individuality, no thinking, no hope…not that anyone still alive even knows such a concept anymore.

Ah, except Deuce’s new partner Fade, who grew up somewhere else and survived on his own until hunters brought him down to the enclave. Fade not only opens Deuce’s eyes to unimagined possibilities, but to what’s within her as well. And we all know that hope until needs one tiny seed to grow…

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10. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Mohana Rajakumar, Author of Love Comes Later


Cooking, Curry, and Curves
By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

When I was growing up, much like Sita, the protagonist of An Unlikely Goddess, being Indian was not cool. People didn’t have the knowledge about Indian food or culture that they do now. This was long before Madonna started wearing bindis or Deepka Chopra on Oprah. My favorite foods were often deemed too smelly to eat in front of my American friends.

Thankfully those times have changed – now everyone wants to know the secret to my curries! Because of scent, especially in spicy South Indian dishes, food can become a marker, a boundary between ourselves (or doorway) and others.

You’ll have to read Sita’s story to see which one it is for her. ;)

I’m sharing my fish curry recipe below in case you want to give South Indian cooking a try. It’s everyday easy – I should know, I made it often in graduate school – and a great place to start if this is your first attempt at curry.

Fish Curry Recipe:
·       4 fillets of white fish (Tilapia or similar)
·       1 teaspoon turmeric powder
·       Kosher salt
·       11/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
·       3 medium cloves garlic chopped finely
·       1-2 tomatoes (depends on how much you like tomatoes)
·       1 medium sized yellow or white onion
·       1 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
·       1 teaspoon coriander powder
·       2 teaspoons cumin powder
·       1 teaspoon toasted and ground fenugreek
·       1 teaspoon mustard seeds
·       1 tablespoon tamarind soaked in 1 1/2 cup water or tamarind juice 

Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and stir until transparent; cook onions as well until translucent. Add mustard seeds and wait for them to pop (be careful, if the oil is hot, can sting!), will take less than 30 seconds.

Stir in tomatoes and sauté. In quick succession, add red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and fenugreek, and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. The spices should form a paste around the onions and tomato. Reduce heat to low.

Add the fish to the spiced oil mixture and stir gently to coat the fish with the oil. Add the tamarind and gently stir the mixture to combine. Cover and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce hear to simmer uncovered for 1 minute then remove from heat. Serve hot with white rice. 

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

 You can find Mohana and her books here:

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11. FOODFIC: Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead


Why is she not eating? Was my actual question with this one.

Because in the opening scene, Lissa the Moroi (vampire royal) feeds from Rose the dhampir (guardian), leaving Rose so dizzy that she had to lie down.

Now, Lissa does recognize the toll the blood loss has taken on her friend, and she does leave to go find her something to eat.

But while she’s gone, it’s Rose that notices the  stranger watching from across the street, realizes that they’ve been located by the people they’re on the run from, and even in her weakened state rushes to Lissa, who’s taking her sweet old time finding a snack for her friend!

Yes, theirs is a relationship unbalanced by definition – Rose the guardian will always be at the service of Lissa the royal. But the more I thought about it, I realized that if you take away the vampire aspect, theirs is not that different from many normal girl friendships. Often, one is more popular for whatever reason; one gives more while the other takes. So while this story friendship is supernatural, the imbalance is perhaps completely natural; it’s how we relate as both humans and non-humans.

And when I look at it from that perspective, the lopsidedness of Lissa and Rose’s relationship doesn’t bother me as much. Both girls recognize the necessity of it – that Rose truly has more to give and that Lissa only takes because she has to, not because she feels superior or entitled. It’s not a Homecoming-queen-lording-social-currency-over-minion situation, and Lissa does in fact try to do what she can for Rose, like spring her from the academy for a day of shopping.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt Lissa to pick up a burger for her friend once in awhile…or maybe use that inexhaustible credit card to put a stocked mini-fridge in Rose’s room. ;)

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12. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Stephanie Greenhalgh, Author of The Twistedly True Tale of Ruby Hood


They’ve Got to Eat!

I’m a little embarrassed to admit, that until recently, I’ve never intentionally sat down and added food to my stories. Don’t get me wrong, my characters are always well fed. I shove food in my face constantly, so it’s completely logical that my characters do, too. However, meals have never been purposefully planned in my stories. It’s always been more like a natural progression; after all, they’ve got to eat!

Then I was asked ‘But What Are They Eating?’and I had to give some serious thought to the food in my first published novel, The Twistedly True Tale of Ruby Hood. I laughed out loud, once I realized I usually feed them my FAVORITE foods. My characters always seem to have a drink or a snack in their hands, especially COFFEE in the mornings, and when guests stop by; there is always some sort of refreshment served. Ruby and her friend, Lilly, warm their hands at the Homecoming Game with steaming hot chocolate. Ruby also shares tea with her Grams before the big dance. Creamy peanut butter and chocolate cookies are served as a THANK YOU to the two men who remove the mutilated wolf from the center of the Wood. Ruby even has cookies and cake on hand when some new people find themselves in Woodsville. Near the end, a pot of chili is prepared and everyone is fed before the big battle. After all, they’ve got to eat!

In Ruby Hood, there is one particular food scene I wanted to share. Ruby has just awoken from a quest. She knows she must leave town in a hurry to follow a lead to save her Wood from the vicious Gnarly Trees. She intends to pick up and leave without making a fuss, but two men, who care for deeply for her, have other ideas. And one thing is certain; there is NO way they are going to let her go on an empty stomach. After all, she’s got to eat!

Excerpt from The Twistedly True Tale of Ruby Hood 

She stopped short at the end of the hall. As she entered the room, they both were eagerly awaiting her arrival. Kent sat at the table with several books in front of him. He had obviously been doing his research. He ran his hand through his dark hair, which now hung in his eyes. He rubbed his eyes, scratched the scruff on his face and smiled wearily at her.

“Have a seat, Rue,” Kent said, moving the papers and books out of her way. Her mouth twisted into a half smile as she eased herself into one of the wooden chairs at the large, square table.

“Thanks. I appreciate all this, guys, but I gotta go,” she said. She looked up and caught Dylan’s dancing eyes staring at her. Ruby chuckled at his silly lopsided grin and his goofy head band and Grams’ pink apron wrapped around his waist.

He held a pot of steaming soup in front of him.

“We figured, but you gotta eat. Now sit,” Dylan ordered, leaning over to kiss the top of her head. “I made your favorite… chicken tortilla soup.” Knowing it was pointless to argue, Ruby sat. Plus, she started salivating as her stomach growled.

“How are you feeling, Rue?” Kent asked. Dylan scooped several ladles of soup into a bowl in front of Ruby and sat down next to her.

“I’m fine,” she replied, looking from man to man before she finished. “The quest is sending me to the mental facility… a quick trip there and back …” Her voice trailed off; she knew this wouldn’t go over well.

Just Remember

The kitchen is a wonderful setting for characters to hash out problems, touch base, catch-up, make a plan, or say thank you (among other things). Regardless of where you do it, don’t forget to feed your characters! After all, they’ve got to eat!

Thanks so much for stopping by! ~Stephanie Greenhalgh

Thanks for sharing your food for thought, Stephanie!

Even though she currently lives in Las Vegas, Stephanie Greenhalgh is a Midwestern girl through and through. As an avid reader and learner, literature and school are more of a passion than a hobby This two-time UNLV graduat has four published stories: Betula's Angst, Duality, Angel 101, and The Twistedly True Nightmare of Ruby Hood, all featured in anthologies. Her first novel, The Twistedly True Tale of Ruby Hood, was released in October 2013. Her first self-publication, If the Silver Slippers Fit..., debuted January 2014.

Stephanie Greenhalgh would love to hear from you!

Interested in her books? Check them out here:

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13. FOODFIC: The Danger Box - Blue Balliett


A boy in a small town who has a different way of seeing.
A curious girl who doesn’t belong.
A mysterious notebook.
A missing father.
A fire.
A stranger.
A death.

That’s what the book jacket says this story is about.

I think it’s actually a love letter to grandmothers, especially those as magical as Zoomy’s. Here, let me introduce you:

She knows how to say and do things that land in the right spot, like they belong. She makes the world seem like a safe and happy place, a place where many things are possible and there’s always a hug waiting. A hug plus a hodilly-hum. And some homemade blueberry jam, the kind with whole berries in it.
Don’t you wish you knew her? Don’t you kind of feel like you already do?

You see, Zoomy has plenty of daily obstacles to overcome, like being smaller than the other kids, having directionally challenged hair, and needing such thick glasses for his Pathological Myopia that he gets his fair share of teasing. Not that fair and teasing really belong in the same sentence, but that’s not the point I want to make here, which is that, despite his issues, is a mostly happy and secure kid.

And that’s all because of his grandparents, who discovered him in a cat carrier on their front stoop one day and have loved him unconditionally ever since. Loved him perhaps even more than his father, their no-good son Buckeye, who pops back into their lives after years of absence. Buckeye’s also the one who brings the danger box into the Chamberlain’s lives, but, again, that’s less important than how Zoomy and his grandparents navigate the ensuing turmoil.

Because the message here – the real lesson I think we should all take away from the story – is that if a child feels safe, is truly and unconditionally loved, then he can handle any box that’s thrown in his path. :)

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14. FOODFIC: The School for Good and Evil - Soman Chainani


When its jacket compares a book to Harry Potter, it’s almost a guarantee that the story within won’t measure up. In fact, I’ve only read onenovel that I’d put in the HP category, and that’s Skin Hunger.
Until now.

As with HP and SH, the glory of this book lies in the details: the good vs. evil students split between a crystal palace and a dungeony tower, separated by a lake that is itself divided down the center – clear water meeting swamp sludge.

And surely the “Evers” and the “Nevers” themselves must also be readily divisible, right?

Of course not; like in real life, people are never so easily categorized! (And if Chainani’s characters were, this would be a terribly boring book.)

Sophie, the obvious princess, and Agatha, the clear witch, arrive on campus together, only to be assigned to the opposite (and wrong?) schools. Sophie is dismayed by the dorm and its smell of unwashed bodies, mildewed stone, and stinking wolf. She’s repulsed by her new roommates: a tall girl with greasy hair and a terrifying tattoo of a buck-horned, red-skulled demon around her neck, an albino with red eyes feeding stew from a cauldron to three black rats, and a smiley but wicked girl who’s dismayed that it’s against the rules to kill other students.

Even the meals are so distasteful that she doesn’t cave in to the soggy gruel and pigs’ feet until the 3rd day!
Interestingly, Agatha is equally displeased by the offerings of the good school where she’s been assigned, but she focuses all of her energy on getting out of the whole situation and returning home to Gavaldon with her friend.

Seems like unhappy Agatha should have no trouble grabbing miserable Sophie on her way out the gate and returning to their good-enough-ever-after village. Problem is, Sophie doesn’t want to leave – she wants to switch.

And by the time Sophie does finally concede that leaving might be the best choice, Agatha suddenly decides she wants to stay! Oh, don’t yell at me for the spoiler, folks – those twists don’t even get you halfway through the text and there are many more to follow.

Because who’s “good” and who’s “evil” flip-flops as many times as there are chapters. That’s right; just like in real life, the “good” characters don’t always make the right choices, and the “bad” guys aren’t necessarily evil to the core. The beauty of this is that a reader can see herself as a princess on one page and a witch on the next. To be able to put oneself into the position of every character not only makes for a great read; it might help you read other people better when you finally do return to reality. ;)

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15. FOODFIC: Feathered - Laura Kasischke

I feel I should open with an apology for the tone-swing I’m about to take. You see, I’m going to start by being so fluffy that, if you haven’t read this book, you might not even be able to follow my meaning. Then there’s going to be a harsh lecture. Oh, and I’m not really going to offer any sort of plot synopsis, either, so you may want to click on the cover photo above to read the publisher’s description on Goodreads.

If you’re still with me after that stellar disclosure, read on. ;)

First, the vaguery! (I do hate it, but believe it’s a lesser evil than a spoiler, so I’ve gotta do it.) Now, I’m not saying I’m right in doing so, but I treated the “surreal” aspect of the book (particularly Michelle’s return/recovery) as a metaphorical processing of [unnamed traumatic event] rather than a literal out-of-body (and space and time) experience. Like I said, that could be an entirely wrong interpretation of the story, but it’s mine – most likely because it’s bent toward the solidly real, as is my way of thinking. If I pegged the author’s motive correctly, yay! If I’m totally off, whoops. Either way, that’s as far as I’m going to take you as far as interpretation on this one; you’re on your own!

On to the part there can be no misinterpreting (yup, here comes the lecture segment of the program): the spring break scene in Mexico. As you’d expect, the girls’ plane hits the tarmac and they hit the hotel bar, where the specialty is Sky Juice. And it’s just what you’re imagining: sweet. Without ice, it tasted, at room temperature, the way the ocean might have tasted without salt. It didn’t taste like wine, or beer, or whiskey…none of which [Michelle] particularly liked. This was perfect.

Of course it was. It and its sugary tropical friends always are. There’re a million such drinks created for the sole purpose of getting girls drunk and therefore leaving them susceptible to bad decisions – theirs and everyone else’s. Because if alcohol was only served in its pure form, very few people would partake at all, let alone rapidly or in large quantities!

No, I’m not 100 years old, and by lecture I didn’t mean beat you with my cane; I’ve been there like every other girl. My first fraternity party opened with mystery punch, closed with barf, and left me with little to no recollection of the evening. The only difference is that my drink was red. And that I got really lucky in having 2 kindly partygoers return me to the dorm when I had no chance of making it on my own. Some of the girls in this book are equally lucky, some not so much – sadly, very true to life. I just wish kids’ rites of passage didn’t have to have “odds.”

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16. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jesse Kimmel-Freeman, Author of the Bella Vampires Series


Hey everyone! Food is such an essential thing when writing. I mean our characters have to live off of something, right? There are certain things in each of my stories that if you know me, then you know why they’re there- like Barqs Root Beer and Galaxy milk chocolate bars!

But one of those things that’s really important to me is finding a way to connect my characters to each other. In the scene below, Emma and Dominic (two of the main characters from the Bella Vampires Series) are finally connecting to each other. This meal that Dominic makes for Emma is so vital because there was such a HUGE disconnect between the characters in the beginning- he was a total jerk!

“So, what are we making?” I asked as I looked over the ingredients- artichokes, eggs, a lemon, some parsley, olive oil, dry white wine, and salt and pepper.

“We are not cooking. I am cooking for you. I am going to make you artichoke frittata. It is delicious. It is like an omelette but different. You will enjoy it.” He sounded absolutely sure of himself.

I sat and watched as he prepared the artichokes and placed them aside in water and lemon juice. Then as he beat the eggs and shook random amounts of salt and pepper into them. He sautéed the artichokes in the oil and wine. Then he threw in some more spices and then the eggs. It took only a few minutes but it was amazing to watch. I had never had someone close to me cook. Watching him cook was fun and exciting.

He cut it in half when he was sure it was done and had cooled then he served it to me. It looked a little on the scary side but I wouldn't let that stop me. I took a fork full and chewed. It tasted great. It was thicker than a regular omelette, but it seemed that this feature helped the flavor of the artichokes come through. We ate in silence. I helped to clean up afterwards through his insistent complaints.

“You cooked, I'll clean,” was all I said.

We said good night and I went to bed. I thought to look for another email from Mike but I didn't want anything to ruin the peaceful atmosphere that still clung to me from the kitchen.
I enjoy being around him sometimes. He brings a peace to me. I closed my eyes.”

The recipe itself wasn’t what was so important (although it’s quite tasty), but the connection that is finally beginning between these two! Emma was getting to see a completely different side than what she had experienced back in her hometown. This is the true beginning of them.

The recipe is actually written into the story- in theory someone could just follow how Dom does it and it should turn out a delicious meal. But that’s just the theory, I’ve never followed what I ended up writing into the story directly! ;) So it would be taking a risk. LOL. Below you’ll find one of the many artichoke frittata recipes out there.

Artichoke Frittata (one of the MANY versions out there!)

● 4 artichokes

● 1/2 lemons

● 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

● 2 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)

● 150 ml dry white wine

● 1 bunch flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)

● 6 eggs

● 3 tbsps milk

● 2 tbsps butter (for greasing)

● black pepper

1. To prepare the artichokes, remove the tough inedible outer leaves, and cut off the tough tips of the remaining outer leaves. Slice about 2cm from the top of the cone, and cut off the stalk where it joins the base of the leaves. Rub the cut surfaces with the lemon to prevent blackening. Quarter each artichoke lengthways and cut away the prickly central 'choke'. Cut the quarters lengthways into thin wedges. Squeeze lemon juice over them.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.

3. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the artichoke wedges and gently fry over low heat until brown on both sides.

4. Add the garlic, white wine and half the parsley. Cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes until the artichokes are very tender and the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste.

5. Thoroughly whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the milk and whisk again.

6. Add the cooked artichokes to the eggs. Season to taste and mix again.

7. Pour the mixture into a thoroughly buttered baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until the eggs are set.

8. Serve warm or cold but not hot.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out what the characters from the Bella Vampires Series are eating and why it matters! :)

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

Jesse Kimmel-Freeman was born and raised in the sun-kissed world of Southern California. Jesse has written six novels, four short stories, four illustrated children's books, been part of several anthologies and is actively working on the next pieces to her series. When she isn't hard at work writing, she enjoys spending time with her wonderful children, loving husband, and furry family. They have many adventures and several misadventures, but it all makes for a good story in the end.

She loves hearing from her readers!
You can email her at: jesse.kimmelfreeman@gmail.com

Or connect with her here:


Twitter @jkimmelf

Facebook Fan Page

GoodReads Author Page

Pinterest @jkimmelf

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17. Food Words of the Year!

Every December as the year winds down, we look back over all the things that’ve come and gone with the flip of calendar pages – everything from music to fashion, movies to technology, books to cuisine. Maybe 2013 didn’t see lots of monumental events like the election of a new president or the demotion of a planet, but lots of changes did occur in one of my favorite areas: Words!

Out of the hundreds of new words that snagged dictionary slots in 2013, special honors went to “selfie,” the new word of the year in the U.S., and “omnishambles,” which took the title in the U.K. Many of the new words sprouted in my favorite way – as if from little hybrid seeds. My personal word-development strategy (in both my characters’ fictional realm as well as my own life) relies heavily on mash-ups, combining modern slang with fuddy-duddery. And clearly I’m not the only one; “fauxhawk” and “babymoon” are only some of the dozens of popular blends to join the OED/ODO* in 2013.

Of course, the listings I’m always most interested in are the FOOD words! 2013 brought many of my great loves – guac, pear cider, appletini, street food. The thing is, out of all of those, the only really new item is the appletini. Guac is just an abbreviation and the other two are simply preexisting words placed side-by-side. So, despite their deliciousness, I don’t quite see those terms merit their own dictionary entries. (Face it, if you can’t deduce what pear cider is without looking it up, you’re in trouble.)

Anyway, this deficit of new food words forces me to ask: Have we actually named and recorded every ingredient and delicacy in existence? Has our society gone so global that English has no more tacos or schnitzel or ugli left to discover on our planet?

And if so – if the only new food words from here on out are going to represent trends like the appletini – then won’t those food items go in and out of fashion so quickly that they’ll be added one year, only to become obsolete and ready for deletion the next? 

Well, it turns out that no words are ever removed from the dictionary!** According to former OED editor Sarah Ogilvie, “If a word gets into the OED, it never leaves. If it becomes obsolete, we put a dagger beside it, but it never leaves.” Who knew?
I’m sure glad to hear this, both as a foodie and a reader. Otherwise how would future Twain readers taste corn-dodgers along with Huck and Jim? Or know how lucky they are to not have to eat curds and whey like Miss Muffett?

So thank you, OED, for keeping historical cuisine alive…and I hungrily await the discovery of sustenance on Mars to introduce new food words in the future. ;)

*Oxford English Dictionary/Oxford Dictionaries Online

**Except for the 1972-1986 Burchfield years; he illicitly deleted “foreign” words in an attempt to preserve “true” English. Yes, he tried to take away our hummus and croissants, y’all!

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18. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Candy Ann Little, Author of Unforgiving Ghosts


Naughty or Nice
By: Candy Ann Little

With Christmas approaching the little ones are wondering if they are on Santa’s naughty or nice list. As adults we are also doing our own naughty and nice lists, but with food. This time of year brings out all the bakers and foodies. There is so much to taste and share. We have work parties, school parties, family tradition recipes, big dinners and family gatherings. Let’s face it all these activities would be pretty boring without food and sweet treats. (Okay and alcohol but that is another post. LOL!!)

Food makes us feel happy, comforted, warm and sometimes even naughty – like when I eat a whole box of chocolates, or you eat that last piece of pie or cake at midnight. And how many times have we crammed those last few bites into our mouth when our stomach was already stretched so full it felt like it might explode.

But the holidays are not the only times we think about food. Every event in our lives, happy or sad, big or small, revolves around food. We eat at birthday parties, date nights, and even funerals. So is it any wonder that as authors our stories revolve around food?

In Unforgiving Ghosts, my character Megan Black is overwhelmed by her grief and desperately trying to find peace. Deciding to leave her small town in Illinois, she moves to Santa Barbra, California. She is young, didn’t finish college and doesn’t have much work experience, but she can cook. That skill helps her land a temporary job as personal cook to a wealthy family.

Even in a job that she is skilled at, Megan still struggles with confidence. She doesn’t feel her down-home, middle class dishes are sophisticated enough for rich people, but the Petersons love her food. For this book I used recipes that are my husband’s favorite, like sausage and gravy over mashed potatoes and biscuits, fried chicken, mac & cheese and roast beef. I also have her bake cookies, chocolate cake and apple pie. Since this story takes place from October to January, I was also able to get some Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes in as well.

Of course, cooking in the kitchen isn’t the only heat in this book. Megan is also trying to avoid the charms of her boss’s son, Steven. Although she feels he’s too hot to handle, she also has other reasons for not wanting to start a relationship with him. However, the handsome playboy has decided Megan is a dish he wants and he won’t be turned away. But will the relationship end up burning him?

Will Steven and Megan be on the naughty or nice list? Which list will you be on this holiday season?

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

You can find Candy and her work here:

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19. Toastworthy Teens - Samantha Manns

Samantha Manns, 89 Acts of Kindness

Samantha Manns had perhaps the most poignant and productive response to the loss of a loved one that I’ve ever heard. 

When the 18-year-old’s grandmother passed away, Samantha thought, “Maybe I can’t be happy right now, but I can do things to make other people happy.”

Specifically, 89 other people; Samantha pledged to perform one act of random kindness for each year of her beloved grandmother’s life. 

So far she’s done everything from giving blood to baking a cake for a lonely senior, and to both share her progress as well as “inspire people to commit their OWN acts of kindness,” she’s started a Facebook page. 
To check in with Samantha, offer her suggestions for future kind acts, or get ideas to follow in her footsteps, visit:

Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

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20. Toastworthy Teens - Joey Prusak

Joey Prusak, Eye Witness

Maybe what Joey Prusak witnessed while at work in Dairy Queen wasn’t a major crime, but it sure violated the law of human decency. When a visually impaired customer unknowingly dropped a $20 bill, the woman in line behind him wordlessly picked it up and put it in her own purse! 

Luckily for the man (and the future of the human race), 19-year-old Joey was on duty. 

Joey first calmly asked the woman to give back the money, but she actually had the audacity to create a scene of denial. The astonished teen then informed the woman that she was “extremely disrespectful” and asked her to leave. When she exited without returning the cash, Joey took the extra beautiful step of giving the victim $20 from his own pocket

Even better is how surprised Joey’s manager was to later receive a praising email from a witness to the scene. Joey’d never even thought to tell his boss about the incident where he’d just done what “felt like the right thing to do.”

I’m certainly glad so many folks have not let this young hero go unsung. :)

Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

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21. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lorena Bathey, Author of Beatrice Munson


In my first novel, Beatrice Munson, food has a big part in the book. It's a novel about women, friendship, love, laughter, change, chocolate cupcakes, and even Bunco.

That's just the tip of the iceberg really. Beatrice Munson, as a character is loved by all who read the book. She's a big personality whose defining moment in life was to either travel to Egypt or get a boob job...she chose Egypt.

When she moves into the neighborhood where Marissa, Deidre, Lily, and Andrea live she brings color, flavor, and transformation to their world. Beatrice is a person that knows what she wants and how to get it.

Marissa's character went to high school with Beatrice. To Marissa, Beatrice was the nemesis that stole the boy she loved and lived the life she wished she had. We all knew girls like this in high school, the ones that seem to have it all. Now with Beatrice living across the street from Marissa, she feels the old insecurities visiting which are exacerbated by the fact that her husband left her for another woman.

But through the senses, Beatrice opens these women up to change and they begin to discover their passions, loves, and joys again. The simplicity of a chocolate cupcake can explain the new excitement Beatrice brings to the women of Vista Heights.

     I felt the warm cupcake in my hand and inhaled the sweet scent of the cake. There was something more to the fragrance. It did not smell just like chocolate. There was a bitter undercurrent that I couldn't put my finger on.
    Beatrice noticed my confusion and said, "Taste it."
    I took a bite of the cupcake and felt the explosion that the smell awakened. There was more to this cupcake than meets the eye. I looked at Beatrice and she could see the surprise in my eyes.
    "It's Mexican chocolate. It has cinnamon and chili peppers in it. What do you think?"
    What did I think? It was phenomenal. Beatrice took my mother's ordinary cupcake and created an even bigger taste explosion in my mouth.    (Beatrice Munson, LorenaBBooks.com)

This book was my first novel and filled with not only wonderful women characters, but the influences that I was going through as I struggled to become the woman I wanted to be. It's the story of women who have lost their way to duty of being wives, mothers, and who they think they should be. But when Beatrice arrives, all that changes and these women discover that who they always wanted to be when they grew up is exactly who they should be now. 

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

Lorena Bathey attended St. Mary’s College in Moraga graduating with a degree in English.

She started writing her first book, Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother when her world fell apart and she needed to process changes in her life.

Lorena found characters Marissa, Andrea, Lily, Deidre and Beatrice were visiting her and wouldn’t leave and that’s how her first novel, Beatrice Munson, came to life.

After finishing that book she was inspired to write more novels and she knew that pursuing her passion was the best way to live her life. So a writer she became. She is also a wife, mother, grandmother, grilled cheese aficionado, and avid photographer.

Today Lorena has written several novels, Beatrice Munson, House on Plunkett Street, The X, Coaster, and Meeting Ms. Monroe. She is currently working on four novels, three of which are historical fiction.

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22. Toastworthy Teens - Miranda Fuentes

Miranda Fuentes, Surfers for Autism

Miranda Fuentes may not have founded Surfers for Autism, but she certainly took it to the next level. When she discovered the Florida-based group that uses surfing as a means to enable autistic kids to blossom, she herself was struggling to communicate with her own autistic brother. Surfers for Autism was able to help Miranda’s brother open up, which in turn strengthened their sibling relationship.

But what’s even more significant is how Miranda herself bloomed, evolving from a volunteer to a master instructor who teaches 150 kids a year! Further still, she has worked to turn the organization’s one small annual exhibition into a regular event involving thousands of kids, instructors, and spectators.

See Miranda’s success – beautiful photos and PAGES of thankful testimonials – here:

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23. Toastworthy Teens - Max Wallack

Are you thinking that name sounds familiar? That maybe I've toasted Max before?

Well, you're right! And Max has been up to more good work that I wanted to share with all of you.

Max is now a 17-year-old college junior (yes, you're reading that right; yet another reason to celebrate!) and still working hard as an Alzheimer's researcher and advocate, which is what led to his newest accomplishment:


Max worked with Carolyn Given on this book "to provide some helpful coping mechanisms to the many children dealing with Alzheimer's disease among their family members." And 50% of the profits from book sales will go to Alzheimer's causes!

To purchase a copy, visit Amazon.com: http://amzn.com/1489501673

And to read about Max's first major project, Puzzles to Remember, visit:

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24. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Catherine Cavendish, Author of Cold Revenge

Beware when a stranger prepares your favourite meal…

You all know the old saying, “Revenge is a dish best served cold”. Well, what if it was? An actual dish? In fact, what if it was your favourite appetiser? You have no idea how your mysterious hostess found out what you love to eat most in the world and you are delighted. You sit down to eat, already salivating at the thought of the delicious flavours your mouth is about to savour.

You select a morsel, aware that your partner is gazing at you quite intently and that your hostess isn’t missing one iota of detail of the proceedings. You open your mouth and...

Suffice it to say, that’s when nothing good happens. At least for the four hapless individuals who variously take centre stage in my paranormal horror novella, Cold Revenge. 

For no apparent reason, Nadine, Maggie, Gary, and Nick are invited to dinner at the lavish home of top fashion writer, Erin Dartford. But why has she invited them? Why doesn't she want her guests to mingle? And just what is it about the mysterious Erin that makes them want to run for their lives?

So, just what are their favourite dishes? The ones that turn out to be so deadly?

For Nadine, a top fashion model with a death on her conscience, it has to be delicious, lean Parma ham, wrapped around juicy slices of melon and peach. Mouthwatering.

For Gary, who hides a terrible secret, it can only be dressed crab. Yum!

Maggie, a bestselling novelist who cheated on her husband while he lay dying and in agony, adores beef carpaccio.

Finally, ruthless advertising man, Nick. He has far more on his conscience than Dan Draper, but he’s looking forward to digging into his antipasto misto.

Four people, four delicious starters – and Erin Dartford, a hostess who hasn’t bothered to prepare a main course. After all, if all goes according to her plan, there will be no one left to eat it.

Thanks for sharing your food for thought, Catherine!

Catherine Cavendish lives in North Wales with her husband and a slightly eccentric tortoiseshell cat. She has had a lifelong fascination with the paranormal and has had a number of ghostly experiences herself. When not scaring herself half to death with her writing, Cat loves to visit haunted locations and surround herself with books (not necessarily at the same time). She is currently working on a new paranormal horror story.

You can find Cat here:

And You can buy ‘Cold Revenge’ here:

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25. Toastworthy Teens - Kristen Law

Kristen Law, Destination STEM

Kristen Law has loved mechanical science since even before she joined the Andover High School Robotics Club which she now captains, and it was the 17-year-old’s life-long passion for the subject that inspired Destination STEM.

The mission of the non-profit founded and run by Kristen is to “promote girls’ early engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).” One major way they do this is by providing FREE science camp for girls entering grades 3-9!

Oh, and Kristen alsomakes time to maintain the website she built for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the regulating body of Michigan state robotics competitions.
Kristen says she just hopes to “be an inspiration to other kids.” Clearly, she already is. ;)

Visit Kristen here at STEM:

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