Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Romancing Foodie Fiction -- a guest post by Hillary Manton Lodge

by Hillary Manton Lodge, special for EIR

If you look at fiction in general – and romance in particular – it’s all about the senses. Sight, sounds, touch – all of these make regular appearances as a scene is drawn out.

But taste sometimes gets left behind.  What foodie fiction does is make taste a part of the whole reading experience. The food becomes a secondary character, and the flavors help to augment the scene.

The awareness of the food we consume is something of a recent phenomenon. During the middle of the 20th century, middle-class households streamlined and women began to cook for their families, rather than employ a cook or housekeeper to do it for them. We saw the dual rise of classic cookbooks such as the Joy of Cooking and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French cooking alongside the marketing and availability of convenience foods. As each household added a television, along came cooking shows instructing viewers about technique.

During the seventies, chef and restaurateur Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse and spearheaded the idea of using local, seasonal, and organic produce. The conversation shifted from technique to ingredients.

And while instructional cooking shows have been around since the 40’s, they’ve grown in popularity over the last fifteen years. Even if you weren’t cooking yourself, you could watch someone else cook – and their dishes always turned out.

Good food, prepared at home, became aspirational. Romantic. Something to aspire to in a perpetually hectic world.

Food writers such as MFK Fisher, Ruth Reichl, and Molly Wizenberg helped to propel the recent spate of food memoirs, with the authors examining their own lives through the lens of food.

Foodie fiction, I think, grew out of those nonfiction volumes, as well as the vicarious experience of television cookery. And why not? Characters can prepare and consume meals that might be out of reach of the reader, but no less delicious. If we travel vicariously in a novel, why not eat vicariously? Why not surround characters with food that’s delicious – and also tells us about that character, and about the world in which they live.

In Siri Mitchell’s Chateau of Echoes (which I reread about every year), the protagonist uses the kitchen as a way to control her world, and as a place to hide. In Erica Bauermeister’s The School of Essential Ingredients, as the students in Lillian’s cooking class learn their way around the kitchen, they also come to greater courage in their own lives. And in Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells, the food prepared by Claire Waverly has the power to alter people’s behaviors and decisions – everyone but the man next door.
Click on the title below to find
Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge at Amazon
In my latest novel, Reservations for Two, food plays a large part of the characters’ worlds. Partly because it’s their business – the protagonist, Juliette D’Alisa, grew up at her parents’ Portland restaurant. But it’s also her heritage – Italian on her father’s side, French on her mother’s. The family’s interactions, and the way they deal with times of tragedy, all revolve around food.

And in several chapters there are recipes at the end. The reader can experience Juliette’s world that much more, and even if the recipes go unprepared, they paint a more detailed picture – how much vanilla and orange zest go into something such as a blueberry buckwheat cake.

In the end, the purpose of the food in Reservations, as well as the others in the genre, isn’t to show off or add unnecessary flourishes. Instead, it serves to broaden the reading experience while creating and even more delicious world for the reader to savor.

About Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge
(from WaterBrook Press)
A culinary concoction of taking chances and finding love in the most delectable places
Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up.
Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life?
As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?

HILLARY MANTON LODGE is the author of Reservations for Two, A Table by the Window, Plain Jayne, a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara, an ECPA Bestselling book. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate Magazine.

A storyteller at heart, in her free time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, watching foreign films, and exploring her most recent hometown of Portland, Oregon. She shares her home with her husband, Danny, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shiloh.

Connect with Hillary Manton Lodge:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Blog Tour! Characters and Setting for THE EVERSTONE CHRONICLES by Dawn Crandall

The Blog Tour for The Captive Imposter is in progress! Drop by author Dawn Crandall’s blog or Facebook page to check out all the posts and giveaways going on now! As a special treat, Dawn has stopped by to give us the inside scoop on the creation of the characters and setting of her new release, The Captive Imposter (The Everstone Chronicles, book 3) -- but we've got the scoop on the whole series, to boot!

Guest Post: 

Creating The Captive Imposter

by Dawn Crandall, special for EIR

ESTELLA EVERSTONE (aka ELLE STONEBURNER, pictured a bit like actress Ashley Greene)
She's good at always doing what needs to be done, no matter if she likes it or not... this is a strength and a weakness, for it seems shes lost herself in the expectations of others over the years. To the point she feels she isnt truly known by anyone.

Estella Everstone came to be all on her own as I started writing books The Hesitant Heiress and The Bound Heart (the first two books in The Everstone Chronicles series). Shes had minor parts in those books, and is mostly a mystery to the reader. They know bits and pieces about her, but nothing solid. She really came into her own while I wrote The Captive Imposter from her first person point of viewand the main goal wasnt just for me to discover her, but for her to discover herself.
I didnt know the whole story behind Estellas words and actions as I wrote her into the first two books of the series!they were just her being her, and I didnt really know her yet. It was very interesting to finally find out what exactly had happened concerning the broken secret engagement between her and Jay Crawford, and specifically why it was that he seemed to want to hang on to the idea of being with her throughout the years without letting himself really give into her urgings to reconcile. The reader finds out so much more about Jay in this book, and why he could never be her hero. And I had so much fun figuring out who really was perfect for herDexter Blakeley!

DEXTER BLAKELEY (pictured a bit like David Giuntoli)
He is also very good at doing what needs to be done, but he does it as a way of life, with purpose. His main weakness comes in the fact that he wont allow anyone into his heart. Although he lives valiantly and helps others in any way he can, he strives to keep himself closed off from feeling deeply for others.

I cant deny that the character of John Thornton from North & South had a very strong influence in the beginning. I loved channeling all that broodiness into someone so misunderstood by most... but needed to get even deeper! I needed the reader, from Estellas perspective, to inadvertently crack his walls and really get to know the man and why he behaved the way he did.

As sad as it is, the setting of the high-class resort situated in the rugged mountains of Maine in The Captive Imposter is fictionalized. I debated about doing this since all of the locations in the first two books of The Everstone Chronicles series were very accurately true to real life. However, there was only one hotel I knew of that resembled what I imagined Everston to appear like.
Photo by Dawn Crandall
For some reason, the idea of setting the story at Mt. Kineo within the heart of Moosehead Lake, central Maine, just didn
t feel right. I think it mainly had to do with the fact that the hotel at Mt. Kineo was now long gone, burned to the ground, and shoved into the lake. Add to it the three predeceasing hotels built upon the site suffered very similar fates. I didnt like picturing the eventual destruction of such a beloved place as I was about to write about. I liked to instead, think of Everston as one of the very few grand hotels left from the era of the Gilded Age. Still, much about the hotel is very much like Mt. Kineo Housethe floorplans, the extracurricular activities for the hotel guests, and the situation of the hotel to a nearby enormous slab of stone. In The Captive Imposter that slab is called Iron Mountain.

Photo by Dawn Crandall
Id thought about using this location for years before actually beginning to write Estellas book. It was actually while I was still finishing up The Bound Heart that I started researching the next bookI always need to have at least a toe into the next book in order to fully come to grips with finishing the current one. This is the first and best website I found about the area while doing my research:

The summer after deciding this was the place I would set The Captive Imposter, my husband and I decided to visit Moosehead Lake (while we were in Maine anyway to visit his family) so we could experience it ourselves. It was absolutely gorgeous, and everything Id hoped it would be! We werent able to stay on the peninsula (another reason I wanted to avoid using the real lifelocale!you had to take a ferry to get to it from a town named Rockwoodwhich is also the name of the Everstone familys mansion on Mount Desert Island.) While we were there, we even climbed Mt. Kineo so I could experience a little of Estella while I was theremuch in the same way I was able to experience a little of Amaryllis and Meredyth while visiting Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island a few years before.

A little known fact? As we climbed that mountain, I was so incredibly tired! And Id been on plenty of other more rugged hikes than that one before! It ended up that I was just days pregnant with my baby boy (who just turned one this month) at the time!      

Now here's a little bit about the series, in case you haven't had a chance to read the first two books yet:

by Dawn Crandall

The Hesitant Heiress

*** 2015 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Finalist (Romance Writers of America)

After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.

Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn’t who she thought at all.

The Bound Heart
One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to fall for her friend Lawry Hampton. However, with Vance out of the country and Lawry constantly at her side, Meredyth can’t help but wonder if what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from their unfortunate past.          

When Vance comes home to stake his claim on Meredyth, will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves? Or will she find the strength to accept that God’s plan for her life could include redemption... and quite possibly the love of her best-friend?

Click to find this book at GoodReads - Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Christian Book Distributors -

The Captive Imposter

Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion named Elle Stoneburner at one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine—the one she’d always loved best and always hoped to own one day, Everston. The one thing she doesn’t like about the situation is that her ex-fiancĂ© is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella reluctantly forms a friendship with the gruff manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley, who seems to have something against wealthy young socialites with too much money, although they are just the kind of people Everston caters to.

When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer she can’t refuse. She sees no other choice aside from going back home to her family and accepts the position as companion to his sister. Throughout her interactions with Dexter, she can’t deny the pull that’s evidenced between them every time he comes near. Estella realizes that while she’s been hiding behind a false name and identity, she’s never been freer to be herself than when she’s with Dexter Blakeley. But will he still love her when he finds out she’s Estella Everstone? She’s not entirely sure.

About Dawn Crandall

A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing her debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Northeast Indiana.

Dawn is a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Author's Casting Call, episode 17: Jill Kemerer Picks Dream Cast for SMALL TOWN BACHELOR

On today's episode of The Author's Casting Call, Casting Director (and author!) Jill Kemerer chooses who she would cast in a movie version of her Love Inspired romance novel, Small-Town Bachelor.

Settle in with some popcorn and Milk Duds (great dumped together, btw!) and see what you think about Jill's hand-picked movie cast! Click on the name of the actor to link to a picture, and make sure you follow my Pinterest Board Author's Casting Call at EIR for links to all previous episodes of this feature. Enjoy! ~Serena

Here's a little bit about the book, courtesy of the author.


When Reed Hamilton arrives in Lake Endwell for a family wedding, he expects to do his part as best man then head back to the big city. But when a tornado postpones the wedding, the town is in shambles and Reed is injured. Thankfully maid of honor Claire Sheffield offers him one of her cottages to recuperate in.

Dedicated to her family and her dream job at the zoo, Claire is all about roots. She's this city slicker's opposite, yet as they help the town rebuild, Reed is captivated by her stunning looks and caring ways. He can't ask Claire to leave the life she loves for him, but he also can't imagine ever leaving her behind…

Casting Small-Town Bachelor
by Jill Kemerer, special for EIR

I’m a Pinterest junkie, so when my friend, Jill Lynn (find out who she cast in her fab debut novel, Falling for Texas, HERE), told me about a new feature on Edgy Inspirational Romance called The Author’s Casting Call, I wanted in on that!

Yes, looking at pictures of hunky guys to find just the right one is a tough job. Grueling, really. There are times it takes me hours. Days, even. But every job has its downside, right? *wink*

In Small-Town Bachelor, Reed Hamilton falls for Claire Sheffield as they rebuild Lake Endwell after a tornado destroys the town.

Reed Hamilton could only be played by Josh Duhamel. Josh Duhamel has starred in many movies, but you might know him from Safe Haven. My hero, Reed, is a successful project manager for a construction company. He’s athletic, graceful and kind. When I look at Josh Duhamel, I see the same traits. A perfect representation of Reed!

But what about the leading lady? Claire Sheffield is a veterinarian technician, dedicated to her family, and she has amazing blue eyes. Cobie Smulders has the same gorgeous girl-next-door air I was looking for. It was an easy call! You may have seen Cobie on the television show, How I Met Your Mother, or Safe Haven!

It’s probably weird that I haven’t seen Safe Haven, considering both my characters starred in it.

The other characters who can’t help stealing scenes? Hansel and Gretel, the young otter twins Claire is fostering in her backyard. I cast these two sweet otters in the roles.

Thank you, EIR, for letting me share my dream cast for Small-Town Bachelor!

JILL KEMERER writes inspirational romance novels with love, humor and faith. A full time writer and homemaker, she relies on coffee and chocolate to keep up with her kids’ busy schedules.

Besides spoiling her mini-dachshund, Jill adores magazines, M&MS, fluffy animals and long nature walks. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children.  Jill loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Author's Casting Call, episode 16: Amy Matayo Picks Dream Cast for IN TUNE WITH LOVE

On this episode of The Author’s Casting Call, Casting Director (and author!) Amy Matayo (always a fun guest!) reveals the actors she would choose for a movie version of her newest release In Tune with Love!
Grab some popcorn and settle in--and don’t forget: you can click on the actor/character name for a link to a pin on Pinterest--don't worry, it will open in a new window, so you can keep feeding your imagination with Amy's cast descriptions! And make sure you follow my "Author's Casting Call at EIR" Pinterest board for links to all previous episodes of this feature! ~Serena

Here's a little about the book:
Click the title below to find
IN TUNE WITH LOVE by Amy Matayo at Amazon
April knows her job as maid of honor is to fulfill her sister’s every wish—whatever the bride wants, she will have. Unless it involves Jack Vaughn.

April Quinn loves her sister and wants to make sure the week of her wedding is the happiest of her life, even if it means putting up with Kristin’s every crazy whim. But when Kristin hires Jack Vaughn as the wedding singer, all sisterly devotion flies out the window. No way will she work with Jack after what he stole from her.

Jack Vaughn is supposed be beyond these small gigs. After all, he’s on the cusp of launching his first headlining tour. But accepting the job was a spur-of-the-moment decision, and it will mean seeing April again. Surely she has forgiven him for that one lapse of judgment so long ago—the decision that shot him to stardom and left her behind, writing songs and waiting tables.

As April and Jack keep appearances for the sake of Kristen’s happiness, they rediscover a chemistry that never quite fizzled out. But will they be able to rewrite two solos into a timeless duet?

and now, without further ado:
Casting In Tune with Love
by Amy Matayo, special for EIR

I’m not usually the greatest at casting my characters—usually I know things like “brown eyes, red hair, scar on chin, etc.” But I rarely have people in mind when I write stories, mainly because I almost always picture me as the girl (in a red wig, blonde wig, blue wig—whatever the story calls for), and Adam Levine as the guy. Hey, it’s not a bad pairing. It’s my story--let me have my dream!

But for In Tune With Love, I did manage to come up with a couple of new ideas that did not involve me and Adam. It was tough, but I managed.

For Jack Vaughn, I would pick Zac Efron. Who wouldn’t pick Zac Efron? It’s kinda hard to picture him holding a guitar and standing in front of a microphone, but he does have the look. And the slightly cocky confidence required to play the part. And the look. Did I mention he has the look?

For April Quinn, it was a toss-up between Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence, but I think I’ll go with Emma Stone. She has the same sass, attitude, and quirkiness as April, and I could totally see her writing lyrics on napkins and tissues and other people’s arms without apology.

And for Kristin Quinn—April’s overbearing and annoying older sister—I’ll go with Anna Kendrick. She’s emotional in the days leading up to her wedding. Bossy, condescending, entirely too self-important, slightly psycho—reminds me a little of myself in the days leading up to my own wedding.

AMY MATAYO has a degree in Journalism from John Brown University. She worked for seven years as Senior Writer and Editor at DaySpring Cards until the birth of her first child. Amy was a freelance writer for David C. Cook before pursuing novel writing full time and focuses on edgy, contemporary books for women of all ages. She is the author of The Wedding Game, Love Gone Wild, and Sway. She lives with her husband and four children in Arkansas. Please visit her online at

Friday, April 03, 2015

The Author's Casting Call, episode 15: featuring MORGAN L. BUSSE and her Follower of the Word series

On this episode of The Author's Casting Call: Casting Director (and author!) Morgan L. Busse picks her dream cast for a film version of her fantasy series, Follower of the Word.

I love this series (and think the newly redesigned covers are pretty cool, too!) I hope those of you who have not yet dug your imagination into this fantasy series will give it a go! Daughter of Light (released in 2012 -- see my HEA review) Son of Truth (released in 2013-- see my HEA review) and Heir of Hope (will release in just a couple of weeks on April 21 *squee!*)These books should be on every fantasy lover's TBR shelf! Go drop them in your cart! ~Serena

Click on the actor/character name for a link to a pin on Pinterest--don't worry, it will open in a new window, so you can keep feeding your imagination with Morgan's cast descriptions! And make sure you follow my "Author's Casting Call at EIR" Pinterest board for links to all previous episodes of this feature!

Casting the Follower of the Word series
by Morgan L. Busse, special for EIR

I know a lot of authors imagine who would play their characters if their stories were ever made into movies, but I hadn't thought about mine. Could anyone really fit the people I had imagined in my mind? But when I was asked to "cast" the roles for my epic fantasy Follower of the Word, I had a lot of fun dreaming "what if..." So without further ado, here is the cast list for Follower of the Word:

Click on the title below to purchase
DAUGHTER OF LIGHT by Morgan L. Busse at Amazon
Blake Lively as Rowen Mar
Rowen is a young woman and a Truthsayer, a being who has the ability to see inside a person's soul with a touch of her hand. I chose Blake Lively as the actress since they both have that young, innocent face and long blond hair. Even with everything Rowen goes through, her faith and innocence remains and she finds hope at the end of her story.

Clive Standen as Lore Palancar
Lore is captain of the guard who eventually falls in love with Rowen. I chose Clive Standen for this role because he has a strong, older look to him, which is how I imagined Lore. Lore is a pillar for both Rowen and the people he protects. 

Click on the title below to purchase
SON OF TRUTH by Morgan L. Busse at Amazon
Kevin Smith as Caleb Tala.
Ah, Caleb. Everyone's favorite cold-hearted assassin. I chose Kevin Smith for the role of Caleb. Kevin played Ares in Xena, and after seeing pictures of him, he definitely would have made a great Caleb with his dark eyes, lean, strong body, and no-nonsense, get-the-job-done appearance. 

Lauren Ambrose as Nierne
Nierne is one of the few women to become a scribe in the famous Thyrian Monastery. I chose Lauren Ambrose to play Nierne. The red hair, the young, beautiful face, and the grey eyes fit Nierne perfectly, especially since those are the very features she hates about herself since they attract the unwanted attention of men. It is her blood-red hair that first catches Caleb's eye, and her fighting spirit that attracts his heart.

Click on the title below to preorder
HEIR OF HOPE by Morgan L. Busse from Amazon 
Cillian Murphey as Valin
Valin is a Shadonae, a being with the power to twist people's minds and consumes lives. I chose Cilllian Murphy for this role. He is a deep and complex man that fascinates and repulses at the same time. He is also highly attractive, which is how he mentally disarms people. After all, how can such beauty hide such evil?

To see pictures of these characters, and more pictures concerning this series, visit my Pinterest page: 

I hope you had as much fun as I did speculating on who would be good for these different roles. Maybe the descriptions even piqued your interest in the Follower of the Word series. If so, I would invite you to check out Daughter of Light, the first book in the series. 

Morgan L. Busse  writes fantasy fiction for the adult market. Along with writing, she is also the wife of a pastor and mother of four children. From the moment she first read The Hobbit, she fell in love with fantasy. Both J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Brooks are the inspirations behind her writing. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series, including Daughter of Light, 2013 Christy and Carol Award finalist. Morgan lives in the Midwest with her family. See more at:

Connect with Morgan:
*Visit her blog at

*Follow Morgan on Facebook at

*Follower Morgan on Twitter at


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