A few moments ago, I was sitting in my room at Wildacres Writer’s Workshop saying a little prayer in regards to my writing–praying that I would take this time to work well and create something that would be of service and enjoyment to someone who read it.

Then I got myself a cup of coffee and went back to my computer to continue working on a new book. I got to a stopping point and took a little break to check email. This is what I found.

Rabbit Room

A Liturgy for Writers.

As a writer, I especially liked this part: (read the whole prayer by clicking the link above.)

“Lord, let me love this world into being,
and let me love each of the characters I create, even those who choose to harm, who choose their own pride, their own strength, their own glory above what is right and good and true; let me love even those who turn from righteousness, who eschew grace. May I allow them the dignity to become themselves within the world I have created, and may I not impose my own will upon these creations, but leave room for them to make real choices of consequence to themselves and others. May they have something like a breath of life in them, and not be the shriveled fruit of my own moralizing.”

I am a character driven writer and it’s always my aim to create real characters who make real decisions (even really bad ones) and to illuminate the humanity within, no matter the face without.

OK, back to work!

Our Special Guest this month is mystery writer and food lover, Gale Deitch!

gale

Gale, thank you for joining our literary dinner party. Gale is the author of the Trudie Fine Mystery Series!

Gale, I found out that you like to watch T.V. cooking shows (I do too) what are your favorites?

I have many favorites. I enjoy shows where I’m in the kitchen with the cook, learning not just how to make a new dish, but certain techniques. Over the years, I’ve learned so much from people like Rachael Ray and her 30-Minute Meals, which were a savior to me to prepare after a long day of work. Or Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, who prepares a dish so effortlessly and then says, “How easy was that?” And it was.

I also like to watch some of the competition shows, like Chopped or MasterChef or the Next Food Network Star. It amazes me to watch competitors produce a beautiful, composed dish in a very short time.

Oh, those are some of my favorites, too! We need to watch television together! Barefoot Contessa is my guilty pleasure. She does make it all “so easy.”

So, what inspired the very first Trudie Fine story?

I first came up with the character Trudie Fine when I wanted to create someone that the average woman could identify with. Trudie is short and overweight, always dieting. She’s not the flawless beauty who is often portrayed as the protagonist. Once I began writing Trudie’s character, I wondered what to do with her. So I wrote about what I knew – cooking and food – and made her the owner of her own catering company. Realizing that wasn’t enough to make an interesting book, I threw a dead body into the pool at Trudie’s first big gig, a backyard Mexican Fiesta.

A dead body will get a book going for sure!

Do you ever make any of the recipes that are mentioned in your books?

Most of the recipes in my books are provided by my friend James Turner, the executive chef at Blue 44, a restaurant in Washington, DC. James and I have developed a system now where, when I finish my book, I give him a list of the dishes in the story. He then sends me recipes for several of them and I try them out at home. After all, if I’m going to expect others to make the dish, it needs to be a user-friendly recipe. Often I will email back and forth with James with questions or to tweak the recipe in some way. For example, I might ask whether to simmer the dish covered or uncovered. Or I may ask if I can cut the amount of salt or use cubed butternut squash from the produce section which is much easier than cutting a whole one open and roasting it in halves.

James’ recipes are so good that I do make them at home. His Butternut Squash Soup is the best I’ve ever had and his Sweet Potato Biscuits are beyond delicious! Both of these recipes are included in my third book, Fine Arts.

biscuitsbook

In fact, his Gumbo recipe in my book Fine Dining is a special in his restaurant, and customers generally call ahead to see if he’s made it that day.

That sounds awesome. How fun that must be to work with a chef!

Other than trying out the recipes for your books, do you cook for fun?

I definitely cook for fun! I don’t enjoy baking as much because with cooking I can experiment by adding spices and other ingredients to a dish. You have to be more precise with the recipe when baking. Please don’t tell my husband I used the word “experiment” because every time I put a new dish on the table, which is pretty often, he asks, “Have you been experimenting again?” I always reply that no, I am a cook, and I may be trying something a little different, but I know what I’m doing.

I’m sure you do! So, what are you writing now?

I’m about to begin two projects. I’ll be working on the fourth book in my Trudie Fine Mystery series as well as a follow-up book to my novella, Pineapples and Pearls, hoping to get both of them out this fall.

Fantastic! 

What is your go-to meal when you share your table with friends?

I love to make Italian food, which is warm and welcoming for guests. Steaming bowls of Pasta e Fagioli and Chicken Parmesan served over spaghetti (both recipes of which are in my novella, Pineapples and Pearls) are favorites.

In the center of the table is a lit candle in a Chianti bottle, overflowing with years of multicolored candle drippings—a souvenir from my husband’s and my second date.

candle

And of course, glasses of Chianti all around.  

I love that! Do you have a special recipe that you can share with us?

Here is my Bananas Foster recipe from my book, Fine Dining, the second in my Trudie Fine Mystery Series. With a small tweak, I used the same recipe in my recent novella, Pineapples and Pearls. Because of the story location, I gave it a Hawaiian twist.

Bananas Foster

bananas

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 bananas sliced into coins

Nuts (optional)

1 shot Myers (or other) dark rum

1 shot Southern Comfort

 

In a large sauté pan melt butter over medium heat.

Stir in brown sugar, orange juice and cinnamon.

Add bananas (and nuts, if you’d like) and cook for 2 minutes.

Add Myers rum and Southern Comfort.

Flame the mixture using a stick lighter to cook out some of the alcohol.

Careful when flaming!!

Cook 1-2 minutes more.

Serve over vanilla ice cream

When adding bananas, you can also add any nuts of your choice (almonds, pecans, walnuts, Brazil).

For Bananas Foster Hawaiian Style, add a cup of diced pineapple to the bananas and garnish with toasted coconut or chopped macadamia nuts.

That sounds (and looks) delicious. I think Ina would love it!

Gale, thank you so much for sitting down at the table with us. Folks, learn more about Gale online at the following sites–and get your hands on those delicious books!

 

Visit Gale’s online at her blog. Purchase her Trudie Fine books at Amazon.

Get Pineapples and Peals at Amazon as well.

book 4

Thanks again, Gale! Tell Trudie we said hi!

We’re back the kid’s table for another course. I’m attempting a 100 Books of Summer read-a-thon in my living room. Here are books 3 and 4.

Little Cloud by Eric Carle                                                   That Pesky Rat by Lauren Child 

2 and 3

That Pesky Rat is the funny story of a rat who just wants to be loved.

Little Cloud is the story of a dreamer who finds his way home.

Both of these delightful books have made it onto the 100 Books of Summer list. Find the growing list and all the other books over on The Kid’s Table tab.

 

coffee break

If you’re feeling old school this summer–break out something retro. A Book. You know, the ones made of paper that you can accidentally get wet and they still work.

(I’m not condoning the pouring of liquid on books, mind you–but life happens.)

Might I humbly suggest mine: Out Across the Nowhere. A collection of stories that are short enough to read during one cup of coffee or in the sparse minutes where your kids aren’t begging for a snack.

Even more: I’m running a Summer Special in efforts to send one of my own snack-begging kids to summer camp.  Just $13.00 includes shipping and you’ll also be entered to win a $15 iTunes card or a $10.00 Starbucks card. It’s a win/win for us all.

Take a break and read a story.  Some old-school rest is good for the soul.

 

 

Hi everyone! This month’s guest of honor at the story table is my wonderful friend and amazing writing talent, Samantha Redstreake Geary. Thanks for sitting down at the table with us, Sam!

sam fish

 

 

I’ll jump right in! What are you working on?

I’m currently juggling a YA historical fantasy novel and three screenwriting projects. I recently published the pilot (in short story form), OF FORTUNES AND FISH, on Amazon for the UK Storyteller Contest. It’s part of a new magical realism anthology series, ‘Whispers of Wonders’, I’m developing, an homage to Steven Spielberg’s ‘Amazing Stories’.

I’ve read this story, guys, and it’s delightful! Funny and touching and poetic. Her writing is gorgeous.

 

So, speaking of Amazon, have you seen anything good on Netflix or Amazon lately?

I binged watched Season Four of Orphan Black on Amazon. It was awesome. I’m fascinated with the main actress, Tatiana Maslany’s ability to play a dozen different clone characters so convincingly. Would love to work with her on a future series.

Now, I know you just got back from L.A. We want to hear all about that!

I had an amazing time visiting tons of friends in the music industry and connecting in person with fellow creatives I love & admire, many of whom I plan to work with on future projects. The highlight of my trip was seeing my friend Hans Zimmer, and his incredible crew, perform live–an experience of a lifetime.

sam LA

That looks like fun!

I also happen to know you’re an amazing cook. What’s your go-to dish and what do you serve with it?

My kiddos love Mexican food, and since I spent a good chunk of my childhood in New Mexico, many of my go-to dishes hail from that region. One of my favorite salsas is made with roasted tomatillos, jalapenos, sweet onion and garlic, blended with fresh cilantro and lemon. Pour over spicy Hatch green chile chicken enchiladas and my kids are in foodie heaven.

sam food

Here’s Sam’s recipe for this delicious salsa!

Tomatillo Salsa

8-10 tomatillos, husked and washed, leave whole

2 large jalapenos (seeded for less heat)

1 large sweet onion, halved

6 garlic cloves

Roast in oven @ 400 for 20 mins until tomatillos begin to caramelize – Place roasted ingredients in blender and add the following: Add juice of 1/2 fresh lemon & 1/2 cup fresh cilantro. Sea salt to taste

Delicious! Folks, I have to tell you, there’s never a bad meal at Sam’s house. I’ve eaten well there, very well!

Thanks for joining us at the table, Sam. Readers, you can find this post over the Special Guest page all month! Take your time and get to know Sam and her work!

 

sam fish

Samantha Redstreake Geary

Author. Screenwriter. Ambassador of ARTistry.

Biochemist by degree―creative and comical by design―Sam creates compelling artistic visions under the steady influence of locally roasted coffee, including speculative fiction novels & charity anthologies, film/television/streaming media scripts, video game storyboards, short films, and international music collaborations. Creative. Dreamer. Rebel. Activist. Philanthropist. Mentor. Parent. Smartass. Swing by her website to read exclusive excerpts from the upcoming YA historical fantasy novel series, Architects of Illusion, inspired by her backyard neighbors, Biltmore Estate.

sam.geary.jones@gmail.com

WriterlySam

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

 

 

 

Yesterday I posted our new favorite books. Today, here’s a new favorite treat. For Christmas, my daughter got a gummy bear making kit. It calls for using standard jello and then adding extra gelatin. OK, but not exactly “healthy.”  This look WAY better!

Check out What’s Up Moms  Facebook page for more cool tricks and treats! Below you’ll find her youtube show as well. So much goodness on her channel. Check it out!

You know it, you love it–the little knee smashing, folding table reserved for actual children and the friend or relative most likely to say something “colorful” at dinner. 

Well, here at my kid’s table, there’s plenty of goodies to be had. Check out the latest titles we’re devouring!

mossy Hugs

Mossy is the story of special turtle who becomes more famous than she ever wanted to be. This book is absolutely gorgeous inside. The story is lovely and the artwork is just like Mossy–amazing.

Hug Machine caught my eye because my son, Joseph, is a hugger and this book was him to a tee. Delightful and funny!

(This is a new page on my site that will feature yummy literary treats for the kids, here’s the first course.)