Thursday, January 14, 2021

Author Interview & Giveaway: COMFORT FOODS


COMFORT FOODS
A Comfort Stories
Stand-Alone Novel
by
Kimberly Fish

Categories: Contemporary / Second-Chance Romance 
Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing 
Date of Publication: October 7, 2020 
Number of Pages: 385 pages 

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From the award-winning author of Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs comes a story of two rising stars blitzed by social media. Lacy Cavanaugh and single-dad Rudy Delgardo live a hundred miles apart but meet in the worst possible way. Working at a weekly paper and creating social media for area businesses helps Lacy connect with locals who open her mind to a perspective beyond Instagram. In launching a food-and-wine festival to support Comfort’s new event center, she discovers surprising skills bubbling over, much like the food she’s attempting to cook. 

Rudy, on the brink of his restaurant’s takeover, struggles to improve time management so he can create a better relationship with his daughter. Distracted by Lacy and her invitation to the festival, he’s tempted by her beauty, wit, and courage, but as a chef, he rarely gets to enjoy life outside the kitchen. Enemies, illness, and exes add unwelcome spice to the dish they’re concocting—one that will teeter with misunderstanding until the very end. 

Will Lacy and Rudy embrace their second chances and discover the perfect seasonings of family, resilience, and grace to create a handwritten recipe of love that will stand the test of time? 

 

Interview with Kimberly Fish

Comfort Foods reads like a book written in real time, how long ago did you write this story?

I’ve known for a long while I’d have at least four books in the Comfort, Texas set of stories: Comfort Plans, Comfort Songs, Comfort Foods, and in 2021, fingers-crossed, Comfort Zone. Though the other three novels had been plotted and rough-drafted years ago, Comfort Foods is my COVID-19 novel. While in lockdown in Spring of 2020, I wrote this book with liberty that comes from having no other distractions. Thankfully, a wonderful editor was also benefitting from lockdown and we were able to produce this story in record time.

Was Lacy Cavanaugh based on a particular social media celebrity?

Lacy Cavanaugh came to life many years ago as younger sister to Kali Cavanaugh while I was writing the serial Emeralds Mark the Spot. Several elements of her character were already in place and I leaped off what I’d previously written and gave Lacy the pizazz and shine of the self-styled lifestyle bloggers popular on Instagram and Facebook. She came to the story mostly fully formed because of her role in the EMTS novella, but it was a pleasure to work on the internal conflicts particularly the perception that beautiful women date easily and have instinctive skills to navigate difficulties. Logically we know that not’s true, but in today’s oversaturated, visually stimulated world, that’s a truth easily forgotten.

 Who inspired your character of Rudy Delgardo?

Though I’ve had the pleasure of knowing several chefs, I’d say the movie “Chef,” starring Jon Favreau, really informed my decision to explore the world behind the kitchen door. I then spent countless hours watching YouTube videos of famous chefs talking about their life stories and the dynamics of a professional kitchen and trying to get a handle on what drives that need for precision and creativity. Rudy Delgardo, despite his excellence in the kitchen, is a mess in his private life—and I think that when someone enjoys marshalling others at work, they forget how to interact on the home front. That made for a rich playground of potential conflicts in this story, and I wish I could have written more about Rudy’s very complicated backstory. Maybe another time.

You seem to be creating an active friend group with your Comfort stories, will all the characters always appear in every novel?

I’m a victim of their charm and can’t let these characters go. Plus, I know how vital a friend group is for navigating life. For those without tight families, it’s the peer group that gives the sounding board for all the deep questions and decisions. Colette and Beau Jefferson, Kali and Jake Hamilton, AJ and Luke English, Lacy Cavanaugh and Rudy Delgardo, step all over these pages because friends frequently ignore boundaries. This group is growing quite large and may be too big to give free reign in the upcoming story, but in Comfort Foods it was important because Lacy is Kali’s sister, and they don’t have a traditional family dynamic so their friends play the role of parents and extended relatives.

The cast of supporting characters in the Comfort stories transfer from story to story also, right?

Yes, several minor characters pop in here and there, because in small towns you run into many of same people doing errands, attending church, and going to social events. I keep a notebook so I can remember who these folks are, and in each novel, I try to expand the town’s cast. Comfort itself is not a big place, and it would make sense to see familiar faces between the books. There are a few of these characters I particularly enjoy and like to give them a speaking role as often as possible.

Is there a dog in this story too? You’ve written a dog into every other Comfort book.

My characters, like many readers, can’t resist a puppy. But, with the exception of Beans in Comfort Songs, none of the dogs in my books are truly cute. Cornbread was an old, gassy blood hound, and the mutt in Comfort Foods is a complete—and smelly—scoundrel. But these guys also manage to steal the show, and make people love them, so it’s hard to ignore a creature with such personality. I guess, I could try my hand creating a loveable cat. Do you think readers would like a cat in the next story?

How many more stories will you create and set in Comfort, Texas?

I’m at work on Comfort Zone, and for now, that feels like the last of this particular Comfort set. But, knowing me as I do, I wouldn’t say that’s the last story I will set in Comfort. Something about the heat, rocky soil, and call of hawks flying overhead is just too entrenched in my imagination to walk away and never revisit that area for another book.


 
Author Kimberly Fish resides in Longview, Texas, and enjoys writing contemporary fiction set in the Hill Country. During the seven years she lived in San Antonio, wandering in and around Comfort, Texas, provided endless space for her imagination to develop stories of women discovering their grit. She studied the small Texas town that had seemingly dug its heels into the limestone and refused modern development and thought that was fertile ground for stories about women remodeling their lives. It made a juxtaposition of place and purpose that was hard to ignore. Plus, anything that takes intentional effort has a much higher value than the things that come easily—Comfort personifies this, and the novels remind readers that anything worth having is worth the work. 

Comfort Foods is the third full-length novel in the set, Fiction from the Texas Hill Country, and follows behind the award-winning novels Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs. A novella, Emeralds Mark the Spot, is available as a free eBook download to subscribers of the incredibly sporadic newsletter at kimberlyfish.com and is the original story from which all other Comfort novels grew.
 
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GRANDPRIZE (US only):
Signed copy of COMFORT FOODS +
Ina Garten's MODERN COMFORT FOOD
Ends Midnight, CST, January 22, 2021
 
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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,
or visit the blogs directly:

1/12/21 Guest Post Hall Ways Blog
1/12/21 Review Sydney Young, Stories
1/13/21 Excerpt Forgotten Winds
1/14/21 Review Jennie Reads
1/14/21 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
1/15/21 Review The Clueless Gent
1/16/21 Review Jennifer Silverwood
1/17/21 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
1/18/21 Review Momma on the Rocks
1/18/21 Character Interview StoreyBook Reviews
1/19/21 Review Book Bustle
1/19/21 Guest Post That's What She's Reading
1/20/21 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
1/21/21 Review It's Not All Gravy
1/21/21 Review Bibliotica


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Monday, January 11, 2021

Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar Jan 10-17, 2021

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of January 10-17, 2021, compiled by TexasBookLover exclusively for Lone Star Literary Life.  

Special events this week include the 2021 International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Virtual Online Zoomathon Book Club Convention. Most events are still online via Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Zoom, and other venues. 

For a complete calendar of bookish events in Texas this week, including special events, daily listings, and exhibits, visit the GO! Calendar at Lone Star Lit  


 

   

 



Sunday, January 10, 2021

Lone Star Literary Life - Jan 10, 2021

 Lone Star Literary Life is brand new, hot off the pixels, and nutritious. Follow the link for the latest Texas bookish news, reviews, interviews, and goings-on, then subscribe to the newsletter-it's free! 



Excerpt: THE BLACK-MARKETER'S DAUGHTER

 

THE BLACK-MARKETER'S DAUGHTER
by
Suman Mallick
Category: Contemporary / Literary Fiction / Multicultural
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Date of Publication: October 13, 2020
Number of Pages: 166 pages


Zuleikha arrives in the US from Lahore, Pakistan, by marriage, having trained as a pianist without ever owning a real piano. Now she finally has one-a wedding present from her husband-but nevertheless finds it difficult to get used to her new role of a suburban middle-class housewife who has an abundance of time to play it. 

Haunted by the imaginary worlds of the confiscated contraband books and movies that her father trafficked in to pay for her education and her dowry, and unable to reconcile them with the expectations of the real world of her present, she ends up as the central figure in a scandal that catapults her into the public eye and plays out in equal measures in the local news and in backroom deliberations, all fueled by winds of anti-Muslim hysteria. 

The Black-Marketer's Daughter was a finalist for the Disquiet Open Borders Book Prize, and praised by the jury as a "complicated and compelling story" of our times, with two key cornerstones of the novel being the unsympathetic voice with which Mallick, almost objectively, relays catastrophic and deeply emotional events, and the unsparing eye with which he illuminates the different angles and conflicting interests at work in a complex situation. The cumulative effects, while deliberately unsettling to readers, nevertheless keeps them glued to the pages out of sheer curiosity about what will happen next.

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PRAISE FOR THE BLACK-MARKETER'S DAUGHTER

"Mallick offers an impressively realistic depiction of a woman caught between tradition, family, and her own sense of empowerment." ~ Kirkus Reviews

"The Black-Marketer's Daughter is a key-hole look at a few things: a mismatched marriage, the plight of immigrants in the U.S., the emotional toll of culture shock, and the brutal way Muslim women are treated, especially by men within their own community. Titling it—defining the heroine by her relationship to a man rather than as a woman in her own right—suggests how deeply ingrained that inequality can be." ~ IndieReader Reviews

"The Black-Marketer's Daughter is the portrait of a woman who endures violence, intimidation, xenophobia and grief, and yet refuses to be called a victim. In this slender novel, Suman Mallick deftly navigates the funhouse maze of immigrant life in contemporary America—around each corner the possibility of a delight, a terror, or a distorted reflection of oneself." ~ Matthew Valentine, Winner, Montana Prize for Fiction; Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin


Excerpt from The Black-Marketer’s Daughter

By Suman Mallick

         Her first winter in Texas is mild and dry. Apart from a short trip to Washington, D.C. to visit Iskander’s parents during the holidays, it passes slowly and methodically, in the kitchen, at the library, in front of the piano.

She makes a new year’s resolution to finally master Balakirev’s Islamey, but as the weeks progress, she finds herself spending more time doubting the foolhardiness of undertaking that enterprise than on her piano bench. She can get through the first section effortlessly, but then has to slow down the tempo to negotiate all the octaves and double notes. It irks her to contemplate that unlike the soldiers whose triumphs in hard-fought battles inspired the composition of such a challenging masterpiece, she might lack the endurance to truly capture its essence by pounding on strings with a hammer. At other times, she feels somewhat grateful that at least she can recognize the limits of her own abilities. She decides she is glad that she isn’t like Frances Ha, a character portrayal she and Marianne both immensely enjoyed on screen, but one whose blindness to her own limitations, whose persistence and struggles, are truly foreign to her sensibilities.

One afternoon the following spring, the sky turns menacing into abstract shades of dark gray. As Zuleikha drives home from the library, a woman’s voice on her car radio (which by now has discarded all pretense of cooperating and stays permanently on) makes an urgent announcement about a tornado watch. Zuleikha hurries inside their house just as the winds begin to act drunk and disorderly, and then all of nature gets violently ill. She calls Iskander at work, leaves a voice message, tries him again before hanging up. After a while he returns her call, chuckling, saying she had better get used to those “tornado things,” because they’re just a fact of life in north Texas. And by the way, the shelter is the hallway closet in the middle of the house and away from all the windows, just in case the siren sounds. She can just see the sly smile on his face as he speaks on the phone, the pressed lips.

When the siren does sound, she hides in the closet, feeling alternately ridiculous and terrified while hail rattles the roof. It’s the first time she has been inside an enclosed space this small. A black leather jacket hangs in a clear garment bag. She looks closer and sees the thick wide scrapes on the leather. On the shelf are a toolbox and an old compact-disc player. A closer inspection in the space between them reveals a tattered, torn glove. Zuleikha reaches for the glove and picks it up just as lightning strikes nearby and the power goes out. She screams.

After the eye of the storm has passed and electricity has been restored, she sits at the piano, still unsettled, playing short pieces from memory, jumping from one fragment to another, alternately upset with her husband for the chuckle and with his wife for panicking so easily; scolding, willing herself to continue playing.

She lingers on the first of Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes, a staple at school and a favorite ever since she borrowed a bootleg copy of The Painted Veil from Papajaan’s store and watched it with her friends from the academy. The piece is dark and simple, nothing like Islamey, or even Chopin’s Nocturnes or Liszt’s Concertos that still frustrate her to no end, and when she is finished, a voice startles her.

“Amazing,” Iskander says. Instead of leaving his car parked outside and coming in through the front door as usual, he has entered through the garage and has been standing in the hallway, listening, for how long she doesn’t know. It embarrasses her.

But isn’t this the type of affirmation from a man she’s dreamed about all these years?

Now her husband comes up and stands behind, his clothes, smelling of the damp air and the rain, brushing against her. He places his hands on her shoulders and says, “That was stunning, Zu. And in this weather! I thought I’d walked into a haunted house up on a hill instead of my own.”

In an instant the chuckle from earlier is forgiven. His words spark a desire in her, they rekindle the memory of an unforgettable high school chemistry experiment she once observed. A pile of the dangerous but innocuous white powder of that mercury compound (thio-something: was it called?) was ignited, and burned with a blue flame at the tip to emerge in the shapeshifting form of a large, winding, pyrotechnical snake, while the students gasped in awe. It even had a fantastical name to boot: the Pharaoh’s Serpent. All evening, Zuleikha smolders, she slithers, and she debates. It’s about taking the initiative, which until now she hasn’t, even though they have been amorous often enough in the way newlyweds are, or are supposed to be. But he’s been the one leading, always. It’s about her putting an exclamation point at the end of a remarkable evening he started with a simple word that says so much. She wants to show how he has touched her with his appreciation for her one true gift, which is indubitably not her culinary prowess. It’s about the way these poignant moments always resolve themselves in her favorite movies.

When the pregnancy is confirmed a few weeks later, she knows with all the confidence in the world that the baby had to have been conceived that night, and on no other.







Suman Mallick
received his MFA from Portland State University and is the assistant managing editor of the quarterly literary magazine Under the Gum Tree. He lives in Texas.

◆ WEBSITE ◆ TWITTER
◆ AMAZON ◆ GOODREADS ◆ INSTAGRAM 





FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,
or visit the blogs directly:

1/6/21

Promo

Hall Ways Blog

1/7/21

Review

The Clueless Gent

1/7/21

Guest Post

Momma on the Rocks

1/8/21

Review

Forgotten Winds

1/8/21

Author Interview

All the Ups and Downs

1/9/21

Review

Bibliotica

1/10/21

Excerpt

Texas Book Lover

1/11/21

Author Interview

That's What She's Reading

1/11/21

Review

It's Not All Gravy

1/12/21

Playlist

Chapter Break Book Blog

1/13/21

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

1/13/21

Scrapbook Page

The Page Unbound

1/14/21

Author Interview

KayBee's Book Shelf

1/15/21

Review

Reading by Moonlight

1/15/21

Review

Missus Gonzo




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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Guest Post & Giveaway: HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN

 

HOUSE OF 
THE RISING SUN
by
Richard Cox
Category: Techno Thriller / Science Fiction / Adventure
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Date of Publication: July 27, 2020
Number of Pages: 408 pages

Scroll down for Giveaway!


Both a frightening apocalyptic story set in the southern United States and a character-focused, deeply moving literary thriller.

What would happen if technology all over the world suddenly stopped working?

When a strange new star appears in the sky, human life instantly grinds to a halt. Across the world, anything and everything electronic stops working completely.

At first, the event seems like a bizarre miracle to Seth Black—it interrupts his suicide attempt and erases gambling debt that threatened to destroy his family. But when Seth and his wife, Natalie, realize the electricity isn't coming back on, that their food supplies won't last, they begin to wonder how they and their two sons will survive.

Meanwhile, screenwriter Thomas Phillips—an old friend of Natalie's—has just picked up Skylar Stover, star of his new movie, at the airport when his phone goes dead and planes begin to fall from the sky.

Thomas has just completed a script about a similar electromagnetic event that ended the world. Now, he's one of the few who recognizes what's happening and where it will lead.

When Thomas and Skylar decide to rescue Natalie and Seth, the unwilling group must attempt to survive together as the world falls apart. They try to hide in Thomas's home and avoid desperate neighbors, but fear they'll soon be roaming the streets with starving refugees and angry vigilantes intent on forming new governments. It's all they can do to hold on to each other and their humanity.

Yet all the while, unbeknownst to them, Aiden Christophera bitter and malignant man leveraging a crumbling society to live out his darkest, most amoral fantasiesis fighting to survive as well. And he's on a collision course with Thomas, Skylar, and the Black family. . .

CLICK TO PURCHASE!
Indiebound │ Amazon  │  Bookshop.org │
 


Are You Ready for the End of the World?

Or Are You the Walking Dead?

Guest Post by Richard Cox

Originally posted December 2019, to Medium.com

At 9:29 AM CT tomorrow, every unshielded electronic device on Earth stops working, including the microchips and transistors and power transformers that manage your vehicle and your home and the entire electrical grid.

 

You may be stranded on the highway or at work or at home. Your children may be at school, miles away, and now there’s no way to call them or reach them in a timely manner. Maybe they’re at Grandma’s house, who lives in the small town where you grew up, a six-hour drive away in your car that won’t start. At this point your kids might as well be on another continent.


Unless you’ve already prepared for such an event, you might be confused by what’s happened. You may not realize your fate is already sealed. Your first instinct may be to gather your family, even if it takes hours. You may rush to the grocery store, where you find an anxious mob of shoppers trying to buy food and supplies with debit and credit cards that would carry no value even if the self-checkout registers weren’t dark.

 

In minutes or hours, the perishables in your refrigerator will begin to spoil. The food in your pantry will survive longer, but not much, because you never bothered to supply yourself for months when grocery pickup was always minutes away.

 

Even if you carry cash and manage to load up on dry goods, your first visit to the store will probably be your last, because the trucks that deliver food to your local grocer are stuck on the highway somewhere. The aisles are ghostly, you can barely see anything, because grocery stores do not typically invest in windows. Most of the supplied light comes from candles that will soon be purchased or stolen.

 

Maybe worst of all, you’re not even sure what’s happened. Was it a military attack? A celestial event? Unless you own a battery-operated ham radio, unless it was shielded or runs on tubes, how will you ever find out? Does it even matter at this point?

 

Does anything?

 

Because let’s face it, the water taps are going to dry up in hours or days, and you live in a metropolitan area along with two million other people, and pretty much all of them will be on the hunt for drinking water, same as you. And almost none of them are prepared to purify raw water. And without pressure, there are no more flushing toilets, no way to carry waste of any kind out of the city. Which means it’s time to leave.

 

But where will you go? Maybe you own a gun, and maybe you think you’ll hunt for food. But the other two (or five or seven or fifteen) million people have the same idea, they’re headed out of town in all directions, on roads not built to convey so much traffic, and by the way there is no longer a real or implied police presence. You’re on your own. The air is choked with smoke from impact sites of airliners that crashed minutes after the event. Pharmacies have been looted for opiates and insulin and antibiotics. Whole city blocks are ablaze. Everyone is on foot or on bicycles or basic motorbikes. Occasionally you hear the engine of an old pickup or VW bus, vintage vehicles not dependent on computers to run. Maybe you own one of these suddenly valuable vehicles. What do you do when the gas tank runs dry? How do you stop someone with a gun from stealing it?

 

Besides, you probably don’t own one of these cars. You’re the walking dead. Because even if you survive the initial journey, if you get away from the city, there’s not enough game to feed your family. You’re not a very good shot and waste most of your rounds not killing the rabbit you happened to spot behind that clump of weeds. Your mouth is parched. Your children are desperate. They can’t walk any farther. You sit down and make camp and then, miraculously, rain begins to fall. You’re so thirsty. Only you have no way to capture all those precious drops that don’t fall into your hands or your mouth. And now your book of matches is ruined.

 

Want more? Continue reading on Medium.com.





Richard Cox was born in Odessa, Texas, and now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His newest novel is House of the Rising Sun. Richard has also published The Boys of Summer, Thomas World, The God Particle, and Rift. He’s written for This Land Press, Oklahoma Magazine, and TheNervousBreakdown.com.

When he’s not writing or reading, Richard loves spending time with his wife and two girls. And hitting bombs.

He also wrote this bio in third person as if writing about someone else. George likes his chicken spicy!



◆ WEBSITE ◆ TWITTER
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◆ FACEBOOK ◆ YOUTUBE ◆ BOOKBUB 

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THREE WINNERS
1st: Signed copies of House of the Rising Sun & The Boys of Summer
2nd: Signed copy of House of the Rising Sun
3rd: eBook copy of House of the Rising Sun.

Giveaway ends Midnight, CST, January 15, 2021
(US only)




FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,
or visit the blogs directly:

1/5/21

Guest Post

Texas Book Lover

1/5/21

BONUS Promo

Hall Ways Blog

1/6/21

Review

Missus Gonzo

1/7/21

Deleted Scene

That's What She's Reading

1/8/21

Review

Chapter Break Book Blog

1/9/21

Excerpt

StoreyBook Reviews

1/10/21

Excerpt

Jennie Reads

1/11/21

Review

Reading by Moonlight

1/12/21

Guest Post

All the Ups and Downs

1/13/21

Review

Rainy Days with Amanda

1/14/21

Review

Forgotten Winds




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