Monday, July 28, 2014

Five ways to use food as a tool in fiction

I recently had a reader who told me she felt the need to recreate one of the recipes I described in my book. She said it deepened her experience as she read. The funny thing is, the reader wasn't talking about one of my cookbooks--she was referring to a tool that I love to use when writing fiction. Food in fiction can be used to draw your reader into the story.

Little Women
Here are five ways to use food as a tool in fiction:

1. Use food to create a sense of place or invoke a certain response from your reader.

Let's say that you are writing a scene showing a family at Christmastime, sitting around the fire, and sharing time together. To help your reader really feel that they are there, describe the yeasty smell of cinnamon rolls as they come from the oven, or the taste of wassail as it slips down your character's throat. Your reader will insert their own positive experiences with cinnamon rolls and sweet drinks by the fire, and be drawn into the scene.

2. A taste or smell can help connect a later scene to an earlier one.

If you want readers to recall parts of an earlier scene that is critical to bringing later loose ends together, use a food or a smell to connect the two. For instance, in Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the peculiar smells of lavender and lemons are mentioned in a garden early in the book, and then, when the character has a vision of an earlier time, the smell of lavender and lemons is mentioned again, pulling the two scenes together in the reader's remembrance and helping them make connections that the authors did not have to spell out. 

3. Mealtimes are a great way to create a crucible that brings conflict to the fore.

Chocolate Frogs from Harry Potter
We all know that conflict drives the story forward. What better way to introduce conflicts than to sit all of your characters down at a meal and watch them duke it out? Think of Downton Abbey. You know as soon as you see them sit down for their fancy meal that the crap is going to hit the fan! And we are rubbing our hands in anticipation. Bring your characters together over dinner to form a crucible--a way to push characters into the same space and make them bring up the conflicts that are bugging them. 

4. Food can spark the reader's imagination.

We all love to eat, and food can bring wonder to the world your characters live in. Think of Willy Wonka with his color-changing gum, and Harry Potter with chocolate frogs and puking pastilles. One of my favorite foods in fiction are the Lumba Berry Pies in In A World Without Heroes (Beyonder #1), by Jason Mull. The character encounters lumba berry pie--a delicacy that is so addicting that the diner will never want to eat anything again. The only problem is, lumba berries have no nutritional value and causes the addicted eater to starve to death.
Lumba Berry Pies from A World Without Heroes

5. Foods and their preparation can be used as a metaphor for what the character is going through emotionally.

Having your character eat an ice cream or bake something from scratch can mirror what is going on emotionally in the character's life. In one of my books, a character burns the batch of cookies that she makes after having a disastrous date. The ruined cookies reflect the emotional state of the character and it pushes her over the edge (as an added tool, I used the burned cookies to foreshadow a later event involving a burning building).

The next time you want to introduce a setting, fuel the reader's imagination, or bring characters together to create a conflict, search your recipe box--you may find the answer to your plot holes in your next meal.


Authors-have you ever used food as a device in your writing?

Readers-What's the most memorable dinner scene or food you've ever read about?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

EuphoraYA Scavenger Hunt - Guest post by Anna Silver

I hope you are having a great time with the scavenger hunt, and that you are finding some great reads! Please welcome Anna Silver, author of ASTRAL TIDE

There's a lot of hype these days about twisted, or retold, fairy tales. A prime example of this would be CINDER by Marissa Meyer. And while I'm not the type to jump on the bandwagon, especially when it comes to literary trends--because yesterday's bandwagon quickly becomes today's hearse, I've begun a new novel which I am toying with the notion of weaving into a twisted fairy tale.

Keep in mind, at this time, I'm merely toying. In fact, it may be so unlike the original that I couldn't even pitch it as a retelling, but I could still use the fairy tale I have in mind for the project to guide the plot. And the fairy tale I'm referring to is Sleeping Beauty, which was a childhood favorite of mine.

I know what you're thinking. And no, this was not Maleficent inspired. Okay, maybe it was a little Maleficent inspired.

But my setting would Sci-Fi and the genre is YA. And I have no intention of pulling a CINDER and writing about sleeping androids. In fact, there won't even be a character for the witch as you expect, because as I said, it would almost be more symbolic than a literal retelling.

Anyway, all of this is to say, how do you feel about twisted and retold fairy tales? Are they still in? Are they on their way out already? Is it even worth pitching as a retelling if the correlations are more implied than literal? And, above all, what are your fave twisted or retold fairy tales, so the rest of us can run out and read them?

My top fairy tale retelling is actually Intisar Khanani's THORN, which is a retelling of Grimm's The Goose Girl. Though I've never read the original version, and so cannot compare them much. That said, Khanani's brilliant narration swept me away, making me a lifetime fan. Which brought me into this whole EuphorYA mess. So without further ado, I bring you my special content, the working title and back cover copy for the third and final installment in the Otherborn series, ASTRAL RETURN.

Best of luck to all of you and thanks for reading!!!

Astral Return
Otherborn, #3

has been pushed to her limits. She’s lost the people she cares about most, been
forced into a fugitive’s life bouncing from camp to camp in the Outroads beyond
the safety and shelter of the walled cities, and even found herself at the very
edge of the Astral when confronted by Avery and the Tycoons after escaping the
Ward. But nothing has prepared her for waking up in New Eden.

Life in the Tycoons’ settlement is supposed to be paradise,
but for London,
Elias, and the rest of the Otherborn in Tycoon custody, it’s nothing short of
hell. About the only thing going for London is
her reunion with Rye.
But with Zen captured too, her heart is more torn than ever.

In New Eden, the Otherborn are subject to Avery’s deranged
experiments as the Astral Return wreaks havoc in the rest of the world. And the
stronger it grows, the more desperate the Tycoons become. Caught in the middle,
London is
growing less worried about saving the world and more worried about saving
herself and her friends. Will the Astral’s new beginning be their end?
EuphorYA Scavenger Hunt Blog Stops

Here's the schedule for the EuphorYA Scavenger Hunt. Each blog stop features exclusive content from one of our authors as well as a giveaway. Collect the blue / red / pink colored words to make the daily secret phrases. Then enter for your chance to win the Grand Prize Giveaway--$75 Amazon / Nook gift card (first prize only), books and swag (first, second and third prizes).

Day One Stops, Friday ,June 20 - Blue Phrase

Anna Silver | Chloe Jacob's World | Elana Johnson | Books By Intisar | Ali Cross

Day Two Stops, Saturday, June 21 - Red Phrase

Elisabeth Wheatley | T.L. Shreffler | RaShelle Workman | Kelly Walker | Hannah L. Clark |

Christy Dorrity

Day Three Stops, Sunday, June 22 - Pink Phrase

Rhiannon Hart | Natasha Hanova | Tracy E. Banghart | Kaitlyn Deann | Jadie Jones

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Torn Canvas by Donna Weaver

Torn Canvas by Donna K. Weaver

I just love presenting new books by favorite authors, especially when the author is a friend of mine. Please welcome on the blog Donna K. Weaver's new TORN CANVAS, the second in the Safe Harbors series. 

When I asked Donna what she likes to eat while reading and writing, here's what she said: 

"Usually chocolate chips. Semi sweet. But I'm probably going to have to give those up since writing is making me so fat. :D" ~Donna

Even a hero needs rescuing sometimes

Modern-day pirates took more than Jori Virtanen’s friends; they stole his face. Not only does the twenty-four-year-old former model have to confront months of reconstructive surgery, he discovers his previous life was as superficial as his looks. Jori struggles to make a new life for himself as an artist while evading the press. They expect a hero, but he knows the truth. His beauty masks a beast.

Olivia Howard’s given up a normal life for her job, and the sacrifices are finally paying off. The twenty-six-year-old talk-show host’s ratings are heading to the top of the charts. Her dream is to make a difference in people’s lives, but the studio wants mind fluff—like interviewing hot model Jori Virtanen. When Olivia learns the guy helped rescue passengers on a cruise excursion from kidnappers, she knows this is the story she needs to make her case. The only problem is the hero was injured, and now he’s disappeared.

The more Olivia learns about the man behind the scar, the more intrigued she becomes. But Jori is no girl’s happily ever after. Once she finds him, Olivia has to free his heart and help heal the beast.


Trailer on Youtube:

Author of the Safe Harbors series and Second Chances 101, Book 5 in the Ripple Effect series. A wife, mother, grandmother, Harry Potter geek, Army veteran, and karate black belt.

Contact the author:

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Monday, June 16, 2014

New Release - Girls on Fire: A Dauntless Collection only .99!

Girls on Fire A Dauntless Collection

Today is the launch of an amazing collection of books from fantastic authors. I am so thrilled to be rubbing shoulders with these ladies and tickled to tell you that AWAKENING is a part of this new boxed set!

Here's what the boxed set is about: Ten powerful YA heroines kicking butt and fighting for love.

10 novels. 1 buck.

Get your copy today!

Click on each author's name to learn more about them and their individual books.