Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Virtual Book Tour: ALL THE GOOD MEN

Goddess Fish Promotions brings yet another exciting virtual book tour to The Cozy Page - Cindy Jacks' All the Good Men. Cindy is here with us today to discuss the influence of food in All the Good Men. Take it away, Cindy! And remember, Cozies, that all commenters will automatically be entered to win a signed print copy of All the Good Men and a branded "Fiction for the Bad Girl in Every Woman" book bag!

Food plays a huge role in our lives. It can be comforting, sensual, or just plain nourishing. Meals make up a big part of our lives, help with family bonding and help celebrate important events. And there's no denying food's effect on our health and mental well-being, too. That's why, as an author, I think it's important to describe my characters' eating habits. Also, can they cook? And if so, do they like to or do they prefer to eat out? These details can show a reader much about who the character is.

In my book, All the Good Men, food plays a big part of the manuscript. The heroine, Dahlia, goes on several blind dates to various restaurants which helped me differentiate the personalities of the various suitors. Also, Dahlia's father loves to cook and is quite good at it so he often makes elaborate meals for his grown daughters. As in real life, this kind of interaction helped to solidify the bonds between the characters. Not to mention there is also pie-flinging scene and scene in which the hero, Jackson Carmichael, is almost killed by a Caesar salad. Yes, that's right, lol, I said killed by a Caesar salad.

With so much emotion capable with the manipulation of food, it's no wonder that many books and movies use it as an expression of love—as in Amy Tan's book The Joy Luck Club, to the ultimate slap in the, uh...face, as in the film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover. Cuisine served as the heroine's only means of self-expression and the source of elemental magic in Laura Equivel's Like Water for Chocolate. In Fried Green Tomatoes, the movie's title recipe was hardly the most memorable darkly comic dish. Even the phrase I appropriated for the title of this blog entry, “Food, glorious, food,” came from the musical Oliver! There's no doubt in this author's mind as to the powerful cultural statement that can be made by exploring the eating habits of one's characters.

In honor of the fictional pie that gave its life to punctuate my heroine's frustration, I've included my grandmother's pecan pie recipe. Maw Maw Wiggins made the best pecan pie I've ever tasted—no way in heck I'd ever fling this pie at anyone, no matter how angry. Her secret to it's gooey richness? Dark corn syrup and bourbon.

Maw Maw's Pecan Pie

Pie Crust

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, well chilled
3-5 tablespoons water, ice cold

Combine flour and salt. Cut butter into 1/2 cubes, toss into flour. Take out your pastry cutter and throw it away. It is an evil, evil device that will overwork your pastry. For an exceptionally flaky crust you gotta get your hands in there. Using your hands, quickly pinch the butter cubes into pieces about the size and thickness of dimes and nickels. Stir in cold water with fork until incorporated, then give the dough 2 or 3 more quick stirs. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest in fridge while you prepare the filling.


1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon
3 eggs
2 cups pecans, broken into pieces

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together all ingredients except pecans. Pour into pie shell. Sprinkle with pecans. Place pie on a baking sheet and put into oven. Bake 15 minutes. Turn down heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until pie is soft set. If crust and/or nuts start to brown to much, cover with aluminum foil until the end of baking time. Cool pie completely before serving.

Cindy Jacks

Dahlia is sure the hackneyed platitude is true: After a certain age, all the good men are married or gay. She feels her thirty-eight years put her well past that 'certain age.' Her best friend and her sisters dare her to put her fate where her mouth is. The terms of the challenge? During the month of October, she has to end her five-year-long man fast and go on dates with men of their choosing. Oh, and she also has to go out with anyone else who asks.

As the date disasters pile up, the vindication almost makes the torturous evenings bearable for Dahlia. But a handsome new neighbor, Jackson Carmichael, moves in, changing the rules of the game. Retired after twenty-six years as a pro firefighter in Boston, he volunteers with the local fire department, coaches a youth hockey team, and appears for all the world to be the perfect man. He just might throw a wrench into Dahlia's plan to die lonely and single...that is if she doesn't scare him away first.
Readers can find out more about Cindy Jacks and her writing at Enjoy this excerpt from All the Good Men....

Skipper's, McGrady's, the Dew Drop Inn. Dahlia didn’t find her father at any of his regular hangouts. As a last ditch effort, she drove home, hoping to find him there. No such luck.

She called Beck. “Hi, it’s Dahlia. I haven’t found him, but if for some reason he turns up at the VFW, please give me a call.”

“Will do, ma’am. Again, I can’t tell you how sorry I am he got away from me.”

“No, no. It’s not your fault. I felt like I should’ve stayed home with him, but with all the orders at work—” The doorbell interrupted her thoughts. “Beck, there’s someone here. I’ll call you back.”

As she clamped the cell phone shut its hinge snarled in a lock of hair. Dahli tugged at the accursed thing as she trotted to the front door. When she opened it, Dahlia abandoned her efforts to disentangle the phone. There stood her father, soaking wet, draped against the shoulder of a man she’d never seen before.

“Hi.” The stranger flashed an apologetic smile. “Does he belong to you? I feel like I've seen him pruning the hedges out front.”

She squeezed her eyes shut. Perhaps if she blocked out the image of her piss-drunk father long enough, he might disappear. Opening one eye she found she’d had no such luck.

“Yes, I’m so sorry. Where did he wind up, Mr…?”

“Carmichael. Jackson Carmichael. I found him floating in my koi pond.”

“Oh, good Lord. I’m really sorry. We’ll pay for any damages.” Dahlia reached for her dad, but Jackson scooped up the old man using a fireman’s carry.

“Not to worry. I’m just glad I found him when I did. Is it okay to set him on the couch?”

“Please. I’ll get some towels.” She hurried from the room if only to hide her flaming embarrassment. Upon return, she made a vain attempt to blot up the water that pooled around the passed out lump she usually called Dad.

“Thank you, Mr. Carmichael. I can’t apologize enough. Daddy’s a bit of a handful.”

“No apology necessary, but may I…?” He reached out a hand.

“Of course.” Dahli thrust a dry towel at him.

“No, no. I meant—” Jackson made a gentle twist and tug that freed the forgotten cell phone from her hair. “There you go.”

“Christ almighty. Lovely first impression I’ve made,” she said and shoved the phone in her pocket.

“Nah, no biggie.” He stripped off his shirt and dried himself. “I meant to come by to introduce myself a couple days ago, but I’ve been swamped trying to get settled.”

Though a half naked man in her living room—and a rather physically fit one at that—was a rare occurrence, Dahlia did her best to avert her eyes. “I’m sure Daddy and I have made you want to run for the hills.”

“Not at all, Ms…?”

“Foster, but please, anyone who finds my father in his fishpond can call me Dahli.”

“A pleasure,” he said and handed her the towel. “Thanks.”

“Would you like something to drink?”

“I’d love something, but I have to get back. Rain check?”

“Sure. Come by anytime.” But I won’t hold my breath...not that I blame you, she added silently.
Dahli walked him to the front door, thanking him again. After closing the door behind Mr. Carmichael, she plodded into the living room to check on her father.

“Daddy,” she said to deaf ears and sank into the loveseat. “What am I going to do with you?”


Cindy Jacks said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Amber Leigh!

Kristin said...

GIRL! Pecan Pie is delicious!!!!! Food is a big part of life, particularly romantic life. How many first dates are lunch dates? Dinner and a movie? The man trying to swoon the woman by his cooking skills? How many couples try to reconnect over candlelit dinners? How many people have brought strawberries, chocolate, syrups, whip cream, and other things into the bedroom to spice things up? Yeah, food is a pretty amazing way to bring people together. Thanks for the recipe!

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Cindy, great to have you and that pecan recipe sounds divine! I'm definitely trying it :)

Lorrie said...

OMG, Pecan pie is my favorite. I'm another that is copying this recipe. Oh yum.
Oh, and another very nice post too. lol.