The Romance of Food
Is it just me or do so many of the great moments of life take place over a meal? Food weaves it's way in and out of so many of our memories. The special birthday cake, the traditional holiday foods or even that catastrophic meal you made for a date are all part of our memories.
I think it is the same for fictional characters, just as food brings us together in real life I think the same is true in books.
I've noticed my fictional characters like to drink a lot of wine, meet a friend and download over a coffee or plan the perfect date or treat for someone they have their eye on. That's pretty much how my friends in real life are too. I think it is realistic. Let's face it food is a big part of our day and who we share it with defines us.
Who we eat with and what we eat also tells us a lot about a character eating Chinese food alone is very different for one going for dim sum with a new boyfriend, fried chicken at a picnic is different to eating a two-piece feed of KFC on your way between jobs.
I love books where food is almost a character in the story. I still remember reading Like Water for Chocolate when it was released and how the mood of the characters cooking the food affected the taste. It was so beautiful and so moving.
I'm a keen cook in real life and I can always taste in the meal the amount of love and care I've put into it. You can taste the love in cooking, it's a fact.
In my latest series - The Upper Crust Series- the focus is on three friends all have some involvement in a chain of food trucks that make Australian style pies. (I as inspired by the Pie Face franchise, you may have seen in the US which began in Australia.) Day in day out they're involved in the making and selling of the pies. Obviously food is what brings these girls together and it also makes them hyper-aware of the food they eat on dates and at parties. They're all about the food and it certainly helps them to find love surrounded by the scents of warm fruit and pastry.
1. Tell us about a magical moment you remember that had a food element to it.
The year my husband and I got married we went to Europe. It was a shoe-string budget trip and so we at a lot of pasta, pizza and croissants. One night we were in Assisi and we went in to a tiny hole in the wall restaurant not expecting much. In one half of the restaurant the family sat watching I Dream of Genie on the television with Italian subtitles.
There was no menu and there were no prices. A woman came and told us our choices and I chose fettucinni with a truffle sauce. At the next table were an older American couple and they were finishing up but they had half a plate green beans left and they insisted we take them "These are the best beans we've ever eaten. This is the best meal we've ever had. Please take them. We're so full but we can't throw them out."
We took the beans and ate them. They were amazing. My pasta was the best I've ever eaten. It was a strange and wonderful evening. And 20 years later we talk still remember it.
2. You are stranded on a magical desert island for a year. You can only eat one meal everyday for that year. You can have as much as you want of that meal, but that's the only thing you get to eat. What do you choose?
That is a hard question. I strongly suspect if left to my own devices I would probably live on homemade popcorn and red wine. (Best I don't live alone for a while). It's hot on the island I guess so I'm going to start with coconut shrimp, I'll have butter chicken and rice for my main and a cheese plate for dessert. And the red wine. If I get a snack I'll have Smiths Salt and Vinegar Chips...they're my crack!
3. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? Why?
In the world? That's a big question. I live in Sydney, Australia and there are a lot of fine restaurants here. I'm going to have to choose one by the water and it will have to serve seafood I think.
I'm a firm believer that best restaurant in the world won't be amazing if the company is bad. I'm going to choose the Manly Wharf Hotel (and do my bit for Sydney tourism). This hotel/bar/restaurant features in my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels. It is right where you step off the Manly Ferry from Sydney. It's a popular place to meet friends for a drink, to take a seat if you are a tourist or to enjoy a quiet ale. On weekend nights it's a place to hand out and maybe meet someone new.
It brings together lots of elements I love in a restaurant. The food is okay but if you want have a long lunch with friends or get to know someone while the water laps the pier and people kayak of paddle-board past then you couldn't pick a better place.
Release day for a new book - always a great feeling.
It's already May 26 in some parts of the world (good morning Australia, hello New Zealand) which means that Any Way You Dream It is available right now for some.
Amazon Australia: http://www.amazon.com.au/Any-Way-You-Dream-Upper-ebook/dp/B00XBFAUWO
And then the clock strikes midnight around the world and it magically appears on the e-readers of those that pre-purchased and it is then available everywhere.
What does that mean to me?
It means in the past months I:
- wrote a first draft
- had a cover designed
- put it down and revised it and then revised it again
- sent it to BETA readers who told me what they did and didn't like
- made their changes
- sent it to someone else to read through it for a story edit
- made those changes
- sent it to an editor (we had a major disaster this time which set me back ten days)
- sent it to the editor again
- made the final edits
- sent it to a formatter who loaded it up for release
- booked a blog tour
- reached out to people for review and promotional opportunities
People think that indie authors skip steps, which isn't true. In many cases it just means we're just doing all that all by ourselves. It's kind of a lonely process. In fact as I type this I am alone. Where's the balloons? The champagne? They're not in sight - I will go get myself a coffee shortly.
It's a bit like the day your child starts kindergarten...lots of hard work to get them ready and then you're all alone, wondering how they're doing.
So if you know any authors indie or otherwise here are some tips.
Tips for supporting an author when they release a book
1. Acknowledge their new book -call, email, comment on their Facebook page.
2. Buy their book and let them know you did. (Take a photo and if it is a paperback take the photo in the store).
3. Let people know you have a friend who has just written a book - either on your Facebook page or in real life.
4. Leave them a review on Amazon, Goodreads etc - you have no idea how much that means.
5. Remember it doesn't matter if it is their first book or their tenth - to them it is still exciting.
It's been busy here on the blog with #ChickLitMay. I feel like I haven't done much updating on the writing or my books. If you get my newsletter you know that Any Way You Dream It is out on May 26th and is already available for pre-order.
What's pre-order? That means you buy it in advance and it magically appears on your reading device on release day.
You might want to try it. Here is the blurb.
Any Way You Dream It – An Upper Crust Novel – Book 2.
Sometimes when life throws you lemons, you create a fake fiancé. That’s exactly what Lucy does when her high school nemesis calls. She didn’t mean to lie. Really, she didn’t. But with nowhere to live and a car that has just decided to die on her, the thought of attending the reunion alone is one she can’t contemplate.
Cherie thinks arrogant, wealthy and way too handsome Chase is the answer to her friend’s dilemma and for reasons Lucy can’t fathom, Chase agrees. The man is too good to be true – he fixes her car, takes her to stay at his place – more castle than house – and seems to find her fascinating.
Life hasn’t been easy for Lucy and she has a hard time accepting anyone would believe Chase would be with her. Still, he turns out to be the perfect choice and in the month leading up to the reunion makes himself an indispensable part of her life, which may be the biggest problem of all.
Lucy knows life is not a fairy tale – she’s living above her place of work, her sister has run off leaving her with three kids and, when the weekend reunion begins, she has to go back to a town where her greatest humiliations took place.
Will her ‘romance’ with Chase be turn out to be the answer to her dreams or will the whole sham turn into just another nightmare?
I need to let you know the winner of the #MIssChickLIt pageant give away was....drum roll... Ariel Deltoro .It was her entry on Rachel L. Hamm's site that got her the win. Just goes to show that multiple entries is the way to go!
Don't forget to enter to win 19 #chicklit books....on yesterday's blog post.
May is International Chick Lit Month. Let's be honest—it's the best month of the year! Every year, chick lit readers and writers get together to celebrate, share, discuss and gush about their favorite book genre. Not familiar with chick lit or Chick Lit Month? Visit internationalchicklitmonth.com for more information. This year marks the fifth anniversary of ICLM. To celebrate, a bunch of enthusiastic authors got together and made an infographic to help readers find their next chick lit read. We're giving away 19 ebooks to 19 lucky readers. Just enter to win the books you'd like to read! To enter, comment on the blog post below, listing which books from the graphic you'd like to read and WHY you would like to read them. (Make sure to include your email address so we can contact you.) Entrants can only enter once per blog, but can check out other blogs with this same post and comment there for extra entries! All those links are down below. Entries close on midnight Friday, May 22 (Pacific Daylight Time), and winners will be contacted directly on May 31. Good luck everyone—and happy reading! :D (Even if you missed this giveaway, feel free to share this graphic on your blog and spread the chick lit love!)
Find the authors and books here, and enter again!Deeper Themes
* * *A Little Magic
* * *Laughs Guaranteed
* * *Light & Bright
* * *On Distant Shores
* * *Enter one more time at these great chick lit blogs!
MAKE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WHEN YOU ENTER. (If you’d rather not leave your address, just drop me a line via the contact page.)
What's on page 45 of Alphabet Dating?
First of all you need to know a little bit about Alphabet Dating - in this novel poor Serena's closest friends decide she needs to be dating again so on a girl's weekend away they spring on her the crazy idea that she go on twenty six dates in twenty six days, all of them set up by her friends. Oh yes and that means one for every letter of the alphabet.
Can you imagine?
On page 45 Serena has given up trying to wriggle out of the hair-brained scheme and the day before had a date with the letter B - Ben. And Ben had taken her for an afternoon of bowling and not been such a dud date after all. She'd also spent the evening being taught the guitar by her friend Harvey, who also happens to be a trust fund baby and literary wunderkind.
And he's given her lots to think about. Just the night before, when he'd gone off clubbing with a posse of supermodels he'd reminded her that sometimes you needed to try out different things to see which ones you liked. Something she hadn't done much of since her fiance died a few years earlier.
So now she has a work deadline and a whole lot going on in her pretty little head. And what sort of work doe she do? She's a book reviewer for one of New York's top newspapers. It's hard being a book reviewer like that when you don't want to leave any bad reviews.
Alphabet Dating is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CMHEVXG
"It's a tremendous thing to write a novel. What commitment and courage it takes" Serena, Alphabet Dating pg 45
The problem is Serena doesn't like the book she has o review today and with her head swimming with yesterday's dates and tonight's - hello C for Christopher - poor Serena is struggling to focus.
And she when she has guys like this to think about so who can blame her?
As much as anything though she can't help but wonder how she ended up in such an absurd position and if she'll ever feel like she has it together again.
( I really love Serena and I hope you do too - this was a fun book to write. First dates are excellent fodder.)
WANT TO WIN THE WHAT"S ON PAGE 45 GRAND PRIZE? A POUND OF DELICIOUS HAND MADE CARAMELS.
A one-pound package of caramels from Whitney's Goodies http://whitneysgoodies.com/ Winner can choose their flavor from those listed below.
This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only. ( SORRY TO MY MANY AUSTRALIAN FRIENDS.)
The Girl Next Door (Crème Caramels): A scrumptious, full-bodied caramel. Old fashioned, melt-in-your-mouth bliss!
The Charmer (Chocolate Crème Caramels): This smooth, chocolate cream caramel will add panache to your day. An exquisite and elegant morsel, simply irresistible.
The Movie Star (Orange Crème Caramels): A timeless treat that will satisfy caramel fans of all ages. “The stuff that dreams are made of!”
The Bombshell (Lemon Crème Caramels): A bodacious bit of heaven with a bold citrus pallet. They will leave you satisfied and refreshed. Caramels are a girl’s best friend!
Always a Lady (Rose Caramels): A delicate bouquet of rose essence infuses this lovely caramel: alluring, tantalizing and reminiscent of another era. They are perfect for weddings and bridal showers. A definite for ladies who lunch or breakfast at Tiffany’s.
HOW TO ENTER
To enter, answer the following question in the comments section below.
"In 4 or 5 words, why do you think Alphabet Dating would be a good read?"
Entrants must leave their full name, along with an e-mail address (Make sure you underline, bold, and highlight this as we must have a way to contact the winner!) A winner will be chosen via Random.org on Tuesday, May 19th.
MORE PAGE ON 45 #CHICKLITMAY AUTHORS, AND MORE CHANCES TO WIN.
Miss ChickLit May Pageant - featuring Miss Allegra Johnston from Australia.
Introduction: "Hi, my name is Allegra Johnston, and I'm representing the Nation of Australia! I run a second-hand bookshop and I'm passionate about vintage fashion and saving the environment, so I'm saving the planet one retro dress at a time, right. My dream is to make sure everyone around me is happy and has plenty to read...and world peace, I'm all about world peace. Is that right? Is that answer okay. I have never actually seen a pageant because I grew up without television...did I do okay?"
I'm a not a huge fan of swimsuits in general, which is kind of a problem for me as I live at gorgeous manly Beach in Sydney.
I do love vintage fashion and look at the delightful and perky Doris Day in this swimsuit. I have one just like this for the pageant. It's demure enough that I don't feel naked and it has all this amazing sculptural boning inside it. I'm a girl with a curvy figure and this sort of swimsuit is perfect for me.
You'll never catch me in a teeny weeny itsy bitsy polka dot bikini or even worse a crocheted one (my hippy mother still wears those in her fifties, heaven help me!) .This however is a swimsuit I can feel comfortable in, and a little bit sexy.
My talent today harks back to my childhood. I'm doing an acoustic guitar medley of Joni Mitchell songs. My voice is sadly not as haunting as hers but I hope to capture her essence. I'll be singing Both Sides Now, Big Yellow Taxi and I Wish I Had a River (to Skate Away on).
What unique thing have you done to help the environment?
You may not be aware of this but I grew up on a commune so I spent most of my childhood building solar homes and organic farming - basically I had to build my own home and grow my own food or I didn't eat. I'm not sure how unique it is but I haven't met too many other kids who have done it.
***If you want to know more about me you can read about me in the novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels
WANT TO GO IN THE RUNNING TO WIN A BEAUTY GIFT CARD?
The Grand Prize for this international drawing will be:
US/Canada winner - $100 gift card to Sephora
UK winner - £65 gift card to Lush Cosmetics
Australia winner - $125AUD to Mecca
How to enter: Answer this question in the comments below and LEAVE YOUR EMAIL so we can contact you if you win.
What unique thing have you done to help the environment?
A winner will be chosen via Random.org on Monday, May 18th.
For more chances to win and to meet the other Miss Chick Lit Pageant Contestants visit these wonderful author pages:
5/5/2015 8 Comments
I was talking to my mother today and I said I'd been at this blogging and self-publishing game for three years. I came on here to check and May 5th is the birthday of this blog. So three years exactly.
I remember being terrified and excited and overwhelmed - not much has changed there.
That month - May 2012 - I was bravely preparing to self-publish my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know a single person in real life who had uploaded a work of fiction to sell online. I knew almost no one (certainly here in Australia) with an e-reader. I knew nothing.
What a gift ignorance can be.
If I knew how much I didn't know I probably wouldn't have jumped off the cliff. Ask any indie author and they will talk about what a steep learning curve it is. Not only that just when you think you know what you're doing the rules change. I've had to unlearn and relearn things many times in the last few years.
Forget what you knew yesterday - it's wrong today.
I often think "Monique, you lazy chick. You're just not doing enough." (I'm not that kind to myself, I'm a little judgmental, not so great at celebrating the fabulous.)
So here is what I have achieved in three years:
- I've written and published six full length novels and one novella under two names.
- I've contributed to two charity anthologies and had a piece in a non-fiction publication.
- I've had a novel included in an international author box-set.
- I've written another five novels that will be released this year.
- I've had over 100,000 copies of my novels downloaded (sadly they haven't all been paid for but 100,000 plus people have a copy of my books).
- I've hosted countless authors on my blog and kept it running for three years.
- I've handled all my own marketing and PR.
- I've hired cover designers, editors and book formatters to help make my books look good.
- I've guest blogged all over the internet.
- I've done signings and author talks, both of which terrify me.
- I've made hundreds of new friends, both readers and writers.
- I've given loads of advice and support to authors looking to head down this path.
- I've kept going when I wanted to quit.
I've done this on my own, I certainly haven't done it all right. Some things I've done I would undo. Some day, some moments, some choices would be best erased.
Still, today I choose to focus on the positive. The list of what I have achieved looks pretty good to me right now.
If you know another author like me who is alone, starting out and fumbling in the dark then - be kind to them. They probably don't talk about their journey with you because they are pretty sure you're not that interested but listen to them, support them, buy their books, leave them reviews...it does matter, at least to them.
Today I'm sharing something very different but very exciting with you.
See this book here with the funky cover? Well guess who made a small contribution to it?
Did you guess me?
Now look at all the other cool people who contributed.
I quote the back cover.
John Birmingham, Linda Jaivin, Marc Fennell, Clem Bastow, Lindy Morrisson, Justin Heazelwood, Elmo Keep, Dan Hunter, Angela Bowne and others fire up the copyright debate like never before.
So I'm one of the 'and others' and very proud to be one.
This is a wonderful book that looks at the issues we face in the digital age when we all want to download it, read it, watch it and listen to it anywhere, anytime. The book examines how we deal with this now in terms of copyright and the affects it has on the individuals who created the original work.
My piece is here called One Click For Chicklit .
Edited by the very talented Phillipa McGuinness and published by New South Publishing It is available in all good bookshops.
I am thrilled to have been included in this wonderful book.
There is a panel discussing the book at the Sydney Writer's Festival so if you're planning to be there you should put the event in your diary.
EVENT NUMBER: 111
EVENT TITLE: Copyfight
DATE: Friday, 22 May 2015
VENUE: Sydney Dance 2
Meanwhile, go grab a copy!