#BookMuse – Tastefully Texas

  • What is the title of your book?
    • Is it a standalone, part of a series, an anthology, or short story?
    • Would you tantalize readers with a synopsis?
      • Mia Ellis, the Texas-born and bred female protagonist has recently graduated from culinary school and has been offered an apprenticeship to a world-renown chef in New York, a dream come true for her. As she is headed for the airport, she gets a call telling her that her mother has been in a car accident and she needs to come home—to the place she’s vowed never to return.
      • With her dreams on hold while her mother recovers, Mia reconnects with Jace Farr, the man she once loved more than life itself, who has inherited a Texas Century Ranch known as The Farr Reaches. And he needs her help.
      • With the ranch failing, Jace wants to start a pasture-to-plate operation selling his beef direct to consumers, and Mia—the girl he has loved his whole life but who no longer wants anything to do with him—has the culinary knowledge and training to help him get his new business off the ground.
  • What inspired this tale?
    • I wanted to write a series that featured the “official state symbols” of Texas. Not to make the symbols the star of the story but to integrate them into the lives of the characters in a meaningful way.
    • Did you have to do any research, and if so, what, and why?
      • Yes, the backstory of the state symbols was important because at the end of each book, I give the history of it. But also, I think every book requires research to be accurate. For example, I have been a customer of a local “pasture-to-plate” program like the fictitious Farr Reaches Ranch for a long time, but I needed to know how those operations actually work from the inside out. I toured a few and read lots and lots on the subject before I felt like I was knowledgeable enough to portray that part of the story accurately.
    • Did you learn anything new or surprising while you wrote this book that you’d like to tell us about?
      • I love to cook, and I’ve been making my own homemade chili for decades, but with this book, “authentic” Texas chili took on a whole new meaning! I started going to chili cookoffs and competitions around the state and learning new techniques and ingredients. During the writing of this book, I’ll bet I made at least thirty new chili recipes based on winning entries. Using what I learned, I created my own “Bowl of Red” authentic Texas chili recipe and even included it in the pages of TASTEFULLY TEXAS.

  • Who is the main protagonist of the story?
    This series features two protagonists in each book—female and male. In TASTEFULLY TEXAS, Mia Ellis and Jace Farr are the lead characters.
    • Do you feel your character is relatable to readers of all ages?
      • Yes, I do, but the two leads don’t really get the credit for it. I have a cast of strong secondary characters that represent many different ages. They add to the relatability of the two leads.
      What made you write this character? Were they based on a real person or something that inspired you?
      • Cooking is one of my many passions in life. In my younger days, I worked in and/or managed many small restaurants in several states. Mia has the natural talent that I saw and admired in so many people, most of whom never saw their dream of owning their own restaurant come true.
      • What should readers know about your protagonist?
        • Mia is a heartbroken soul who still dares to dream.
        Why are they important to you?
        • Although Mia feels that the world has abandoned her, she never abandons those who need her.
      Do you consider the main character to be good or bad, and why?
      • I think every writer and reader can see both good and bad in a character when written well.
    • What’s the objective of your character?
      • To move on from life’s failures.

  • Is there anything specific you’d like readers to know about this piece of work?
    I felt every heartbeat in this story.
    • Is there a moral or idea you’re trying to convey, and if yes, what?
      • To steal from Dorothy in the movie version of author L. Frank Baum’s book The Wizard of Oz: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!”

  • What was your writing process like?  For example, do you use an outline, or do you let the story flow as you write (“pantser”)?
    • I am neither a pantser nor a plotter, but if I had to admit to leaning one way or the either, I’d have to jump on the “pantser” bandwagon. I always know the beginning of my story and the end of it too. I even have an idea as to what the “2nd” and “3rd” acts are going to be (I write in four acts) but what comes between the acts is completely character driven. I usually know a few of the main points between acts, so I jot those down and aim for them, but mostly, I listen to the characters. I am just a transcriber. It’s their story, not mine.
  • Do you have a writing routine?  Like, do you get your cup of coffee to write in your office in silence, or do you prefer to sit on the deck with the radio playing in the background?  What atmosphere is conducive to your creativity?
    • I write in the mornings, usually between 4am and 11am, but I often start writing again from 4pm to 7pm. I love my morning coffee with vanilla creamer, drinking 1-2 cups, but then about 10am, I switch to hot tea. I do not like to be disturbed during this time frame, and rarely will I even look at emails or text messages. Each is a distraction to my writing time.
    • Did any of your preference change while writing this title, and if so, what, and why?
      • I am a creature of habit. Not only does it benefit me, but it also helps those living with me. (Bless my husband and dogs!) Everyone knows what to expect during my writing day.

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