Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fearless Love - Chickens. Why Did It Have To Be Chickens?

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All of my Konigsburg books include animals. I’m not sure how this happened, it just did. Starting with a diabolic cat and a sweet-natured Chihuahua in Venus In Blue Jeans, I had a greyhound in Wedding Bell Blues, a mostly coon hound puppy in Be My Baby, a largely Maine coon cat in Long Time Gone and Don’t Forget Me, and an iguana named Doris in Brand New Me.

When I got to Fearless Love, the choice was already clear, and so, as it turned out, was the animal. Chickens. My heroine, MG Carmody, inherits a chicken farm from her grandfather. MG doesn’t have much else she can depend on in the way of income—she’s a struggling singer trying to regain her confidence after some bad experiences in Nashville. So she decides to sell her eggs. And I had to find out how you raise chickens.

Fortunately for me, Denver (where I live now) had just passed an ordinance allowing urban farmers to raise a few chickens in their backyards. All of a sudden chickens were in the news, and it turned out I actually knew a few people who were raising them. Plus Denver wasn’t the only city in the country where people had decided that having backyard chickens was a good idea. I found Web sites galore with loads of chicken information.

So what did I learn? All sorts of stuff. Hens usually lay only one egg a day and they may not come through every time (so my heroine’s twenty-five chickens wouldn’t necessarily produce twenty-five eggs). They don’t lay while they’re molting, and they stop laying altogether when they age (two to three years). This creates all kinds of dilemmas for the soft-hearted urban chicken farmers who can’t bring themselves to do what traditional farmers do with aging hens—make chicken soup. I also found out raising chickens is a lot of work, which fit in with my story. Between her job in a restaurant kitchen, her reborn music career and her chickens, MG is frequently exhausted.

Although most of the chicken authorities cautioned against naming your birds (you don’t want to get too attached), I decided that I’d have at least one chicken with attitude, a rooster named Robespierre. He has a run-in with a coyote and the result is based on a similar story I picked up from a chicken blogger (yes, Virginia, there are chicken bloggers).

MG finally triumphs, with the help of my hero, Joe LeBlanc, a chef who turns out to know a lot about chickens himself. And I’ve now got enough information about chickens to know for sure that I’m not going to be raising them myself any time soon!

Here’s the blurb for Fearless Love:

Fearless Love, Konigsberg, Texas, Book 7

Sweet music doesn’t come without a few sour notes.

MG Carmody never figured her musical dreams would crash against the reality of Nashville. Now the only thing she has going for her is her late grandfather’s chicken farm, which comes with molting hens that won’t lay, one irascible rooster, and a huge mortgage held by a ruthless opponent—her Great Aunt Nedda.

With fewer eggs to sell, MG needs extra money, fast. Even if it means carving out time for a job as a prep cook at The Rose—and resisting her attraction to its sexy head chef.

Joe LeBlanc has problems of his own. He’s got a kitchen full of temperamental cooks—one of whom is a sneak thief—a demanding cooking competition to prepare for, and an attraction to MG that could easily boil over into something tasty. If he could figure out the cause of the shy beauty’s lack of self confidence.

In Joe’s arms, MG’s heart begins to find its voice. But between kitchen thieves, performance anxiety, saucy saboteurs, greedy relatives, and one very pissed-off rooster, the chances of them ever making sweet music are looking slimmer by the day.

Warning: Contains hot kitchen sex, cool Americana music, foodie hysteria, and a whole lot of fowl play. 

5 comments:

MNark said...

Chicken bloggers! LOL... I raised chickens as a kid, and more than once demanded that particularly aggressive roosters end up in the pot. I couldn't even gather eggs without being attacked. It's not all fun and feathers. :-D

mnark111 AT gmail DOT com

Meg Benjamin said...

From what I read, it's definitely not fun and feathers! Thanks for sharing your chicken experiences.

flchen1 said...

ROFL! As much as I love eggs, I'm hesitant to raise my own chickens--we have friends who do in their backyard, but I'm thinking it's a whole lotta work! ;) Great excerpt, Meg!

f dot chen at comcast dot net

MomJane said...

I had chickens for a while. They laid colored eggs. Lots of fun for kids.

Catherine Lee said...

We have a big suburban lot and I always thought that having chickens would be cool...but I didn't want to put in the work involved!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com