Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lunch at Last! Hope You're Not FULL!

By this time, some of you have won a drawing from Goddess Fish Promotions! WOOT!! Isn't it wonderful? And while we're discussing all this food, research and writing, I'm taking down email addresses and I'll be drawing after midnight tonight for my own special prizes. BUY MY BOOK today through Astraea Press for a Kindle (or Nook) cover zipper pull! Send your purchase info to megmims (at) yahoo (dot) com or through a Facebook message.


Secondly, we'll be getting to the MEAT of what inspired me to write Double Crossing. But first, it's lunch time!What's on the menu? These are offerings at my favorite place, Sweet Afton Tea Room in Plymouth, Michigan, shown above. First of all, a pot of tea (decaff this time, perhaps peppermint) and creamy soup – asparagus with dill, cream of tomato or butternut squash (the best of all three!)  These are my usual favorite lunch choices on their menu. Sorry I don't have pictures -- I was too busy enjoying them!

The Tavern Sandwich
Crusty Parmesan bread is warm and stacked with your choice of Black Forest ham, smoked turkey breast or roast beef and served with a cup of our homemade, seasonal soup, a crispy dill pickle and honey mustard on the side.  Delicious!! I usually choose the ham and add cheese. The roast beef is also very good.

Shepherd’s Pie
Our own version of the classic meat pie from northern Great Britain is made with ground round, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and topped with whipped potatoes. This is fabulous. It's often gone by the time I get to the tea room (I am usually running late) so I fall back on the Tavern Sandwich. 

Okay, down to business while we're munching. Oops, a bit of mustard... where's my napkin?

As I mentioned before, one wonderful place that inspired my love for history is Greenfield Village. Another is the Detroit Historical Museum and their Streets of Old Detroit in the basement. They also had a huge train display, and so did my dad (in our basement.) Odd how I'm now writing about trains! But a good friend, Jean Jacobs Coon, gave me several coffee-table sized books about the transcontinental railroad. She knew I loved research. It took a few years, but I managed to absorb a lot of the details about how the UP and CP's joining in Utah really changed American history. Another great resource was Westward by Rail written by William Rae Fraser, published around 1870.

 Here's another image of the "balloon" style smokestack engine... and a lot of the sparks and soot invaded the cars. I love adding realistic details and how characters have to deal with such things, just like we do now.


So it's true that writing a historical involves lots of research. In fact, someone pointed out in the latest draft that I'd messed up on a tiny detail -- RATS!! She was right, too! Since I take pride in being as accurate as possible (although it *is* fiction, it's still important to subtly introduce or add to readers' knowledge of history), I had to make a quick change. Personally I find it incredibly annoying to read modern ideas of what life was like over a 100 years ago, when simple research is easy to find.

In fact, my good friend Cheryl St. John, herself an incredibly accurate award-winning historical author, chided me long ago when I first began writing (the earliest version of Double Crossing.) She gently pointed out that I need to do more research on Omaha's history. I hadn't done much research at all, to be honest. So I was glad she encouraged me. So thanks, Cheryl, for the necessary cattle prod! LOL

She plans to stop by around 2:30 p.m. to "chat" -- I'm so happy, because Cheryl is a wonderful writer of both historical and contemporary romance.

I bet you think writing contemporary fiction is a piece of cake in comparison. Think again! I plan to write a contemporary murder mystery set in a courtroom. My grand jury experience will sure came in handy. Without sitting in that seat for nearly six months (yes, months) I would never have known the ins/outs of such details. Even writing about a car traveling down a Memphis highway -- if you've never been there, how do you know what types of signs, trees, drivers, suburbs, stores, etc. you will see? Chances are YOUR READERS will.

So don't assume. You know what that means. ;-)

Here's an excerpt with more food -- and not all that great, given the conditions along the railroad...


Half a dozen black flies, the ones that pestered and bit, crawled on the beehive-shaped screens shielding platters on our table. The greasy potatoes soaked up blood from the close-to-raw beefsteak. The limp pale cabbage wedge also curbed my appetite. Charles and Kate discussed the springtime ceremony that had united the Union Pacific railroad with the Central Pacific in Utah, but my mind dwelled on Porter’s store. Had it been my imagination? Perhaps a good Samaritan had found my bag on a barrel after all. Maybe I’d been too quick to judge.

I jumped when Kate poked my arm. “You’re so distracted, Lily. You haven’t heard a word we’ve said to you. Is something wrong?”

“I’m worried about my uncle, and I can’t wear this suit on the train tomorrow.” I poked the mess on my plate. “I also don’t like beef that looks fresh from the cow.”

A maid carried soiled plates to the kitchen and returned with a pot of coffee. Hotel guests devoured their meals as if they didn’t expect to get another decent meal until reaching California. My head throbbed from the chatter that mingled with rattling wagons, horse cars and pedestrians outside.

Poor Lily! She has no idea there's worse to come. Join me for high tea at 4 p.m. Enjoy, and don't forget to comment!

13 comments:

Cheryl St.John said...

Meg, writing contemporary is often MORE difficult than historical. Don't tell anyone, but occasionally I make up something for a historical. lol For example my heroine can use her great Aunt Edna's secret cure-all elixir for a cough. But you really can't get away with that sort of thing in contemporaries.

Meg said...

Soooo true! I only wrote one contemp (still needs revision) and it drove me crazy trying to figure out how to fit a fictional diner in between a row of other spots in a certain location, or to get my heroine's car off on the right freeway ramp. AUGH.

I love writing historicals better. I've fudged when necessary. Hey, it's FICTION. ;-D

Maria said...

I don't know if I would have been able to eat the food that poor Lily had to face...uck! I'm a fairly picky eater...would have had to pack my own sandwiches or just eat fruit...lol...the creamy asparagus soup with dill sounds delish!

junegirl63(at)gmail(dot)com

Meg said...

That soup is awesome - I love it! - and the squash too. At least Lily is thinner than me, I would starve on that trip! Beef, boiled potatoes or fried, but if you're hungry enough... LOL...

chocoaddict said...

I like writing both historical and contemporary, but you're right, they both pose difficulties. Right now I'm trying to describe a Japanese funeral service, which I can find resources for, but the story takes place 100 years ago, so I'm not sure how much has changed! Love your excerpts.

Patty K

Meg said...

Thanks, Patty! And wow, I wouldn't even begin to know how to research Japan 100 years ago. Hmmm. Wasn't there a movie with Tom Cruise in 1800s Japan? Not that you would get much from it, but I wonder if they had a funeral. Can't remember the name of it. Shogun takes place way earlier.

chocoaddict said...

Yes, it was "The Last Samurai" but I never watched it. Guess I could do that, seeing as it's research.

Patty K

Meg said...

I do remember lots of killing, but no idea if there's a traditional funeral. Research is always good! ;-D

Karen C said...

Oh, the soups and sandwich sound wonderful, as does the sheperd's pie- I'm so hungry!!

Based on what I like to eat today, I'm not sure I could handle what Lily had to eat, but then if that was all there was ....

kacbooks(at)hotmail(dot)com

Meg said...

LOL! At that point, the last thing Lily is thinking about is food. ;-D

It was fun writing a character who forgets to eat meals. She is much thinner than I am, ha.

Hope you enjoy the book!

Meg said...

LOL! At that point, the last thing Lily is thinking about is food. ;-D

It was fun writing a character who forgets to eat meals. She is much thinner than I am, ha.

Hope you enjoy the book!

Cheryl St.John said...

Two of the contestants on Iron Chef made shepherd's pie last night. I must say I've never given that recipe a go.

Meg said...

I brown the meat, toss in leftover peas and carrots and then mush on leftover mashed potatoes... and of course, top with cheese. I also use Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup as the "gravy" - then bake. It's basically all cooked, you just warm it up and melt the cheese. Good enough, not for Food Network but hey, it's what's for dinner! ;-D