Novel Noshing Blog Series Part 3: Jen Gilroy

Welcome back to my Novel Noshing series! Today, for the third and final post of the event, I am featuring Jen Gilroy, author of The Sweetheart Locket, dual timeline historical women’s fiction.

Author Bio

Jen Gilroy writes sweet contemporary romance and dual timeline historical women’s fiction—warm, feel-good stories to bring readers’ hearts home. 

A Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon award, Amazon named her third book, ‘Back Home at Firefly Lake,’ a ‘Best Book of the Month: Romance’ in December 2017.

A dual British-Canadian citizen, Jen lived in England for many years and earned a doctorate (with a focus on British cultural studies and social history) from University College London. 

Returning to where her Irish family roots run deep, she now lives with her husband, teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound in small-town Eastern Ontario, Canada.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, ice cream, ballet and paddling her purple kayak.

About the Book/InspirationJen’s own words!

What if the key to your present lies in the past? 

From England and France in the Second World War to San Francisco 2019, “The Sweetheart Locket,” is a dual timeline historical women’s fiction story of love, loss & family secrets, intertwined with courage & hope. The family heirloom locket at the centre of the story is inspired by the “sweetheart jewellery” men serving in the armed forces during the war gave to loved ones at home. 

Filled with heart, heroism and humanity, reviewers have called the book “a beautiful tale…[of] friendship, love and loss…[and] how three generations of women come full circle and find happiness.” 

The Victoria Sponge or Sandwich Cake is a popular and traditional British cake. It’s also my own favourite which I have fond memories of sharing with English family and friends. As part of a book that’s my love letter to Britain, I included references to this cake in “The Sweetheart Locket,” my first primarily British-set story. 

When Willow, the American heroine of the contemporary storyline arrives in England for a work trip, she’s also determined to find out about her British grandmother, Maggie’s life, including what she did in the war. 

When Willow meets an historian at London’s National Portrait Gallery they have afternoon tea, a special British ritual. 

“Willow took a forkful of cake, white with a jam and cream filling…called a Victoria Sponge.” 

And as Willow discovers Maggie’s past, including her work as an undercover secret agent in 1940s France, Willow’s life also changes. 

As expressed via my fictional Maggie and Willow, one of the book’s core messages is this one: 

“Even if it wasn’t in a war, everyone had to fight some kind of battle what mattered is that you came out the other side.” 

Recipe

Victoria Sponge/Sandwich Cake (Traditional British recipe)* 

Ingredients:

170g (6 oz) butter or margarine

170g (6 oz) caster sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

170g (6oz) self-raising flour, sieved

Jam and sieved icing sugar to fill and decorate 

Method:

Base line and grease two 19cm (7 1/2 inch) sandwich tins

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas mark 4

Beat together the margarine and sugar until the mixture is light in colour and fluffy in texture. 

Add the eggs to the creamed mixture a little at a time beating thoroughly after each addition. 

Add the flour and fold in carefully with a metal spoon. 

Divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins. Smooth the top so that the mixture is fairly level. 

Bake for 25-35 minutes (or until well risen, golden brown and firm). 

Leave in the tins for two to three minutes to cool. 

Turn out onto a wire rack. 

When cold, sandwich the two cakes together with jam and dust the top with sieved icing sugar. 

*This recipe comes from ‘Church House Recipe Book: Love and Charity: Cake Recipes from Hughenden Parish Church, Church House Teas.’ High Wycombe, England: Fairprint, 2004, p.37 (Christine Rose). 

For those in the US & Canada, a comparable recipe, using North American measurements, can be found here:  https://www.christinascucina.com/victoria-sandwich-traditional-british-afternoon-tea-cake-recipe-for-us-kitchens/

I have got to say…this Victoria Sponge looks so elegant and delicious…seriously! If you make this recipe, or have a similar one that you love, please tell us in the comments.

Book Links

“The Sweetheart Locket” is currently available in ebook (most vendors) with a paperback following later this year. http://mybook.to/TheSweetheartLocket

Author Jen Gilroy is on Social Media! You can connect with her here:

Website: https://www.jengilroy.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenGilroyAuthor

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/JenGilroy1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jen.gilroyauthor/

Thank you so much for stopping by my writer’s block! I had a blast meeting these three authors, and learning about their latest releases. I can’t wait to try all these recipes!

Next month, July, 2022, I will be featuring a series on some of my favorite summer reads, including interviews with amazing authors who wrote the books. I hope you will join me here on my Writer’s Block for that!

Please leave comments below…I love to connect!

Novel Noshing Blog Series Part 2: Kate Chambers

Welcome Readers!

Thank you so much for stopping by! My Novel Noshing blog series is up and running. It’s a series where a different author is invited to guest post for the week, featuring their latest work, and discussing a food and recipe associated with it. This week on my Novel Noshing blog series, I am featuring author Kate Chambers! Kate has a novel-in-progress, a RomCom, SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW.

Author Bio

Kate is a rebel librarian, glitter covered crafter, and lifelong storyteller who wrote her first full story at ten. She also writes fan fiction, but that’s another story. When she’s not writing or reading, Kate can be found watching her Atlanta Braves with her handsome husband and adorable little girl.

About the Book/Inspiration (In the author’s own words!)

SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW features tons of food, as you would expect of a novel about a baker and chef, from pastries to pasta, but this is the first dish Jane, our heroine, makes for her professional chef celebrity crush, Lincoln. Jane admits that while it’s one of her favorite meals her grandmother made in her childhood, and one of the first things she ever learned to cook on her own. she’s never made it for anyone else before. 

The inspiration for this recipe is my Nonnie’s stroganoff, which is my favorite food in the world, and she used to make it for me, even packing up leftovers for to take back to college. It’s pretty simple, but it’s so warm and cozy, it just fills up your soul.

Recipe-Kate’s own!

Stroganoff

Ingredients:

1 16 oz bag extra-wide egg noodles

8 oz stew beef

8 oz sliced white mushrooms

1 10.5 oz can cream of mushroom soup

¼ cup beef broth

¾ cup sour cream

3 TBs canola oil

2 TBs butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare noodles according to package (you can do this simultaneously with the rest of your prep) and salt and pepper beef.

In a large skillet, heat oil until shimmering, then brown beef. Remove from the skillet. 

Return the skillet to heat, add mushrooms and butter. Saute until golden. 

Add mushroom soup and stir to combine. Add beef broth, stir to combine, and allow to come to a bubbling simmer. 

Return beef to skillet and add sour cream. Return to a bubbling simmer and let simmer for five minutes.

Serve over cooked egg noodles and enjoy!

Thank you so much, Kate, for sharing about your book, and for the delicious Stroganoff recipe!

Readers, you can connect with Kate! Check out her social media links below:

Social Media

Twitter: @the_librarygirl

Goodreads: the_librarygirl 

I’d love to hear from you!

If you try Kate’s Stroganoff recipe, tell me about it in the comments. I love to connect through my blog, so if you have any questions for Kate or me, reach out! If there is a novel you love, where food is featured somehow, I’d love to hear about it. Share the info in the comments!

Next week, I will be featuring author Jen Gilroy. I hope you’ll stop by again to learn about her latest novel, and food inspired by it!

Novel Noshing Blog Series Part 1: Darby Baham

Welcome Readers!

I am so excited to begin this blog series. My Novel Noshing posts are often some of my favorites, because it brings together authors, their books, and the foods that are featured within their novel’s pages. This time around during my Novel Noshing series, I will be featuring three authors, beginning today, with author Darby Baham, author of Bloom Where You’re Planted from Harlequin Special Edition (2022)

About the Book/Inspiration (In the author’s own words!)

Bloom Where You’re Planted is the second book in my Harlequin mini-series, the Friendship Chronicles. It tells the sexy but introspective story of Jennifer Pritchett, a young Black woman who lives in Washington, DC, loves her boyfriend, ’90s R & B, and her friends—but lately, not much else. In the beginning of the book, Jennifer finds herself comparing her life and relationship to that of the people around her, and unfortunately she feels that every part of it is lacking. The job that she has is secure, but she wants more from it; her relationship is three-years in but has seemingly lost all fire; and her friends are leading exciting lives with grandiose stories while she’s often stuck in a classroom cleaning up crayons or on the sofa watching her boyfriend who has fallen asleep on the latest TV show they were supposed to be watching. Throughout the story and the mini-series, readers get an intimate viewpoint of how a group of close knit friends provide the comfort and foundation each woman needs as she navigates the ups and downs of her life, career, and relationships, figuring out along the way what truly makes her happy. One major activity among these friends is a weekly meet-up that they lovingly call “Nacho Thursdays,” even though it doesn’t always happen on a Thursday. During these weekly meet-ups, they may go to a restaurant, but more often than not, they are gathering at someone’s place, making their own nachos, and spending time together laughing, sometimes crying, and generally helping each other get through life.

My inspiration for this food & friendship connection probably comes from my cultural background of being from New Orleans. Often, family & friend gatherings are based around some type of significant meal, whether it’s gumbo at Christmas or a seafood boil in the summer. That tendency to gather with friends & food has certainly stayed with me even as I’ve lived in DC and New York. My friends and I love to meet up for brunch, for example! And more specifically–I simply just love nachos. So, I figured if the group of friends were going to commit to eating any meal once every week, nachos were the best option. They are shareable, you can change them up constantly so you don’t feel like you’re eating the exact same thing, and you don’t need a ton of ingredients to make them taste amazing.

Nachos Recipe-Straight from Darby!

As I mentioned earlier, I think the beauty of nachos are that you can change up the ingredients all the time. You may want vegetarian nachos one day or shrimp the next, and each can be just as tasty. However, the last chapter of Bloom Where You’re Planted starts with a simple ingredient list for not only a delicious pan of nachos, but specifically Nacho Thursday nachos. Here it is: 

– an overwhelming amount of tortilla chips

– ground beef sautéed with taco seasoning

– strips of chicken

– chopped tomatoes

– green onions

– shredded Mexican cheese

– fresh salsa or pico de gallo

– sliced limes 

– black beans

– lots of laughter

– and even more love

+ tequila and margarita mix

Instructions (for at least 2 separate pans of nachos):

Instructions (for at least 2 separate pans of nachos):

1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

2. In separate containers, season ground beef and uncooked chicken with Tony’s Chaceres Creole seasoning. (This is my personal preference, but others can use salt and pepper and season to their desired level of spice.)

3. In two separate frying pans, brown the ground beef and sauté the chicken on medium-high heat for approximately 10 minutes if these are about 1b each, stirring the ground beef and turning chicken on both sides.

4. Drain ground beef and add taco seasoning + 1/4 cup of water, cooking on medium-low heat for approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Then, cut the cooked chicken into smaller pieces as needed.

5. Sit both pans of meat aside.

6. Line two separate baking pans with foil, then add your base layer of tortilla chips in each.

7. Spread a layer of black beans on top of and in between chip pockets.

8. Then add your meat of choice to each baking pan.

9. Add tomatoes and green onions to both.

10. Finally, add as much shredded cheese as your heart desires.

11. And place the baking pans in the oven uncovered. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Author Bio

Darby Baham (she/her) is a writer/editor who has had personal blog posts appear in The Washington Post’s relationship vertical, Blavity, Femi magazine, and more. She’s also worked in the communications industry for more than two decades. Now residing in New York, the New Orleans native previously lived in the Washington, DC area for fifteen years. There, she cultivated a beautiful, sprawling shoe closet and met some of the best people in her orbit. Her debut novel, The Shoe Diaries, was released in January 2022. The follow up, Bloom Where You’re Planted, was released on May 24, 2022.

Book Links

Recently, Darby read directly from her book, live! You can check out her video, here.

Direct purchase links to Bloom Where You’re Planted are available at www.darbybaham.com/books.  This includes all major retailers and a link to access indie booksellers by zip code.

Connect with Darby Baham via her social media links below!

Social Media

Website: http://www.darbybaham.com

Twitter: @darbybaham

Instagram: @darbybaham

Thank you so much for joining us for part one of Novel Noshing! Next week, I will be featuring author Kate Chambers…Come back again and check out her novel and inspired recipe!

I’d love to hear from you!

If you try Darby’s Nacho recipe, let me know! And let me know if you read Bloom Where You’re Planted. Finally, if there is a novel you love, where food is featured somehow, I’d love to hear about it. Share the info in the comments!

Coming Soon! Novel Noshing: A Summertime Blog Series

strawberries on brown wooden bowl

Welcome Readers!

Food and Books: Two of my favorite things!

I am so happy to announce that I am going to be hosting a blog series during the month of June, called Novel Noshing. During June, I will be featuring three authors, who will tell us about foods that have been inspired by, or featured in, their novels!

During the month, you will be hearing from authors Darby Baham, Kate Chambers, and Jen Gilroy. I can’t wait for you to hear all about their books and the recipes they feature!

Darby Baham

Kate Chambers

Jen Gilroy

I hope you’ll join us for the series…the first installment drops June 5, 2022!

As always, I’d love to hear from you! Have you read any novels which featured specific foods? Also, have you been inspired to make any of the featured foods from novels? Tell me about it below!

The Chicago Writing Workshop: Join Me!

Dear Writers,

The 2022 Writer’s Workshop of Chicago is taking place on June 10-11, 2022. It is an all virtual event, so anyone from anywhere can attend!

During the weekend, there will be workshops on craft, as well as pitch events. I will be there taking pitches via Zoom, and love to connect with authors. So…I am seeking:

*Romance/RomCom

*Cozies/Whodunits

*Mystery/Crime

*Women’s Fiction

If you think we might be a good fit, I’d love for you to pitch to me at the conference! Details here:

https://chicagowritingworkshop.com/

This is my first pitch event since November, and I am so excited! I Hope to see you there!

Upcoming Events!

Dear Readers,

I hope you have all been well. With so much going on locally, nationally, and around the globe, it’s been a really long time since I have been able to sit down and blog. The pandemic was rough. And now, I hear we are in the “endemic” phase, and it’s still rough. But there is a bright, shiny silver lining, and that is that author events are happening more frequently!

This past November, I was fortunate to be invited to present and take pitches at the Independent Publisher’s of New England virtual conference. That was my very first time presenting virtually, and I was surprised at the wonderful interaction! The event was run so smoothly, and I am grateful to have been invited.

Here is a link to the wonderful list of events:

Now that summer is coming, I am happy to announce that I will be participating in several more events for authors. Here is a list of virtual and in-person events where I will be taking pitches….and perhaps presenting, as well!

June 11, 2022 Writer’s Day Workshop (virtual event)

July 9, 2022 Writer’s Day Workshop (virtual event)

August 6, 2022 Writer’s Day Workshop (virtual event)

August 12-14, 2022 League of Vermont Writer’s: Writer’s Meet Agents (in-person event)

If you are thinking about pitching your work to me at one of these events, please check out my most recent #MSWL, here.

I am so happy that these events are happening, and that I can be involved. Have any of you taken part in any writerly events, either virtual or in-person? I’d love to hear about it!

More details about these events will be forthcoming…I hope you’ll stay tuned!

Winter Meet-Ups with Bookish Friends, Old and New

Welcome, Writerly Friends!

If you could meet any character in the world, who would it be?  Have they been written yet?  Are you the one to write that character and introduce them to the world?  This post is about meeting up with characters, old friends, and new amazing acquaintances.

As a teacher in the northeast, we are fortunate to have a week-long winter break.  We are nearing the end of that break.  There have been many years when we have taken family vacations to warm destinations with friends, but this is not one of those years.  Even though we stayed home in the freezing cold temperatures, this was a wonderful week!  A week to recharge, a week to relax, and a week to connect with old friends and new ones!

As an agent, this week, I was introduced to some amazing new characters written by some amazing new authors.  New character friends, who I look forward to getting close to in the coming months.  Strong characters, funny characters, troubled characters…they are all new and in my life for the long haul.  These are new friends that I can’t wait to visit again and again.

Additionally, as an author, this week afforded me time to spend with old character friends as well.  I went back and edited through some drafts of my own work.  It was delightful!  I missed Hans, Abigail, Tessa and Will.  They are the very best type of bookish friends…the type of friends that you can pick up with, right where you left off last time.  Fun trips down memory lane abound, which can be relived again and again.

It’s my absolute favorite part of being a writer.  I get to spend time with amazing people and places, over and over again.  Vacations are the very best times for that, and I am grateful for every one.

Question for you:  Do you have any character friends that you can’t wait to spend time with during vacations?  Are they your characters, or other author’s?

Chime in with your response below!  I love to connect with my readers!

First Draft Writer’s Block? Here’s Some Writerly Inspiration!

Welcome Readers!

Writer’s Block.  Here is the definition, according to my online dictionary:

writer’s block
phrase of writer
  1. the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.

Writing a first draft is super difficult.  That gem of an idea, that flicker of a character you only saw once in a dream but couldn’t forget, that feeling that shook you awake during yesterday’s meeting that you were sure would provide the fodder for a novel so amazing that it would practically write itself…what happened to all of that?

None of us can escape it.  Writers slip into slumps.  It happens.  And when the slump is over, (it WILL end sometime!) jump back into that saddle and write on.  Write on because you can, and write on because you need to.  Rest assured, we all know that a slump will probably happen again.

And that’s okay, because as sure as the slumps come, they also go. It’s important to remember that.

For those of you who may find themselves in the throes of a first-draft writer’s block, this post is for you!  Below, I have compiled some motivational quotes which I like a lot.  Read on, and maybe some of these quotes will inspire you to write on, as well!

Do any of these quotes speak to you at this part of your writing journey?

What other quotes or notions have helped you get through writing a first draft?  Please share in the comments!

My Writerly Welcome for 2018!

happy-new-year-wallpaper (1)

Hello, Readers!

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is almost over, but it is.  The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years always pass with a fury around here, reminding me of a certain holiday fave:

5 Holiday Gatherings

4 Family Birthdays

3 Winter Concerts

2 Events at Daughter’s School

Then, One Day til it’s Back To School

 

The fact that I am a music educator by day has a lot to do with the feverish pace of this season.  Report cards, concerts at school, rehearsals after school, etc, mean that the already hectic, but festive, season is all the more so.  I admit to the neglecting of this blog during this time of year, but sometimes it can’t be helped.

However, it also affords me time for reflection on 2017, and goal-setting for the year to come.  Thoughts of my hopes and dreams, and realities which are just on the horizon.  I can finally see from where I stand today, and that is a glorious feeling!

It’s going to be a big year, I think, for me as a writer.  My Contemporary Time Travel, WORDS IN THE WINDOWSILL is due to be released sometime this year.  My agent is working with me on #PrisonBreakADK to get it ready for submission, I am “this close” to finishing up Book One of my Harbor Bells Trilogy, and I have yet another novel idea just begging to be plotted out (When the idea for it came to me, it woke me from a dead sleep, insisting I write it down).

I literally cannot wait to see where this year takes me.

Happy New Year, everyone!  Do you have anything coming along in 2018 that you are excited about?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

How I’m Keeping My Balance…NaNoWriMo Style

 

NaNo 2

Welcome, Readers!

First, the good stuff!  It’s NaNoWriMo!  Congratulations to all who have started this journey for the first time,  and a loud “Hazzah!” to everyone who finds themselves back in the throes of NaNoWriMo for a repeat adventure. It’s daunting.  It’s difficult.  And completing it is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever accomplished in my life.

Now for some tougher stuff:  It’s mid-November.  Mid-NaNoWriMo, and I haven’t added to any word count of anything in two weeks.  (You read that right…Not a new word in November…)  I meant to jump right in on November 1, but I just couldn’t.  Sometimes things happen beyond your control, though, and that’s just life.  I am thinking about balance today, because I refuse to let the entire month go by without a word for my characters, or a plot point being reconciled. This post is meant to be as much of a NaNoWriMo pep talk for you as it is for me.

balance

How can I make it all happen?  And if you are at a point of this crazy writing month where you haven’t met your writing goals, how can you?  Well, for one thing, realize that the month isn’t over.  Any writing you do toward your goal is a step in the right direction.  Personally, I have to stop looking at the calendar thinking that there is no way to succeed at this, when the reality of it is, that even attempting NaNoWriMo is an incredible accomplishment.

But there is always hope, and hope may appear differently than you expect.  A few years ago, our local arts center held a series of NaNoWriMo workshops.  We were all different people, some with day jobs, some retirees, others who were just there to see what NaNo was all about. That was my second NaNoWriMo, and the year I began to work on my novel, WORDS IN THE WINDOWSILL.  During those workshops, our instructor gave us lots of exercises to help us along.

But no writing time to speak of.

The activities she walked us through approached writing a novel from different angles.  For example, we did a lot of sketching, map-making, TV interviewing, role playing, and other things to get us to know our characters and our story on a deeper level.

Some of you might be thinking this is how everyone writes, but not me.  To tell you the truth, until the workshops concluded at the end of November, I hadn’t realized how those activities helped me reach and surpass my 50K goal.  Up until then, I was worried I was wasting precious time.

It’s those other activities that I am going to rely on when I can’t actually do the writing part.  I may or may not reach 50K new words this year, but for me, and this is the balancing part, NaNoWriMo is more about fleshing out a good story.  That’s how I plan to measure my success.

So from here on out, if I can’t actually write words into a chapter of my current Work In Progress, I will be planning it in creative ways.  I need to know my characters as well as I can, so that when I do have the opportunity to write, I can make the most out of it.

The good news is, my head is in the right place for success.  And that novel I was working on during our local NaNoWriMo workshops?  WORDS IN THE WINDOWSILL is due to be published this spring with REUTS Publications!  I don’t think I need any more motivation than that!

I hope I have encouraged you to keep yourself going through NaNoWriMo.  It’s really tough at times, but you can do it!  Dori Just keep writing

How do you plan to keep your balance through this month?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!