Sunday, January 5, 2014

Giveaway and blog post: Show Don’t Tell … And Do It With Bugs

Giveaway and blog post: Show Don’t Tell … And Do It With Bugs

By Catherine Castle

Have you ever eaten a bug?

I’ve never eaten a bug, intentionally that is, but my heroine, in The Nun and the Narc, Sister Margaret Mary has. Sure, the odd gnat has flown in my mouth while gardening, and nearly gagged me to death, but I’m not counting that. Nor am I counting the fair number of insects that crawl in our mouths while we sleep, according to one source I’ve read. That’s why I cover my mouth with the sheet at night, although on the nights I’ve awakened gagging I have wondered what tiny creature I might have swallowed. So, I have to say, “More power to anyone brave enough to chomp down on the insects that other countries consider delicacies.”

So why, you ask, did I make Sister Margaret Mary eat bugs?

Because I wanted to show and not tell. Showing and not telling puts the reader in the action. When they are invested in your story it becomes harder for readers to put your book down.

            I could have said, “Sister Margaret Mary had an adventurous spirit. She likes to (fill in the blank).” Instead I decided to show her doing something adventurous and outside the norm.

 So, when I discovered chapulines (deep fried, chile powder coated grasshoppers) are delicacy of the Oacaxa Mexico area where the story is set, I decided to have her munch down a skewer of the crispy critters.

Chapulines are eaten fried in tacos, or fried and dipped in chile powder and threaded on skewers. Put enough chile powder on anything to disguise the taste and deep fry it, (who doesn’t like greasy spicy food, I thought) and it might be palatable.  Described as crunchy, high in protein and very low in fat, they seemed like the perfect snack for an adventurous heroine who is health conscious and taking care of the Lord’s temple (her body). So, when she’d skipped breakfast and found herself getting hungry at the village marketplace, Sister Margaret chowed down on a skewer of deep fried, chile powder-coated grasshoppers.

Here are a few other delicacies I could have had the sister chow down on.

·         Tecole—red segmented maguey worms, the larvae of the Hypopta agavis moth. They made me too squeamish to even consider letting poor Sister Margaret chomp on them, even though they are usually toasted or fried and served in a taco. She wouldn’t be seeing the bugs as she dined, but my stomach rebelled at the mere thought. Adventurous only goes so far, even vicariously for me.

·         Escamole—sometimes called “insect caviar”. Escamoles are ant larvae harvested from the roots of the agave tequila or mezcal plant in Mexico. I didn’t think the good sister could keep these down either. I know I couldn’t.

·         Huitlacoche, or corn fungus—which was described as having an earthy, mushroomy flavor. Not a bad option, I thought, because I love mushrooms. Then I saw a picture of the corn smut. It was off the table, too.

What about you, or your characters? Are they adventurous enough to eat bugs?

Want to read more about Sister Margaret Mary’s adventures? One autographed print copy of The Nun and the Narc will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter (U.S. commenter only) from this post and the other two posts by Catherine Castle appearing on the 1/5/14 Pavilion Party. Email address must be provided in order to be eligible to enter the drawing. Thanks for stopping by today and good luck.

The Nun and the Narc


Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

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Cathy Lee said...

I went to Catholic School and have known a lot of nuns...and many of them have been tough enough that I could imagine them eating bugs for breakfast!
capefearlibn at gmail dot com

Catherine Castle said...

That brings up interesting images. Thanks for commenting.

Deb Bailey said...

I love that book title!

Jackie Anton said...

Great post!

I have this book scheduled for a stop on Jan. 30. Can't wait to get started with the read.

Michele said...

A great way to explain "show, don't tell."
I've read the Nun and the Narc and enjoyed it thoroughly! (So I don't need to be in the drawing for a copy of the book, but I did want to leave a comment!)

Anonymous said...

Great excerpt! The Nun and the Narc is on my e-reader and at the top of my TBR list. Best of luck with sales, Catherine :)

Elizabeth Preston said...

Great fun-to-read blog post (in a stomach churning way). I love that you have chosen a Nun for your heroine. Hard to imagine a better source of internal conflict than vows verses hunky hero.

Catherine Castle said...

Deb, The title of this book gets a lot of attention. I knew it was a good one when it caused a stir as it was announced at a national conference as a contest finalist. I'm glad you like it, too.

Catherine Castle said...

Thank you, Jackie. I'm looking forward to my Goddess Fish tour and meeting new bloggers. Thanks for commenting.

Catherine Castle said...

Thanks for coming by, Michelle, and for the kind words about my book.

Catherine Castle said...

Joanne, thanks for coming by. I hope you like The Nun and the Narc and thanks for buying it.

Catherine Castle said...

Ohh, I like that vows versus hunky hero comment, Elizabeth. May I borrow it? Thanks for commenting.

James Callan said...

Actually, Huitlacoche makes an interesting soup - although it looks like someone sprinkled ashes in the bowl. Best if you eat it without knowing exactly what it is. But, a delicacy in some parts of Mexico. But, a great way to show and not tell. Thanks.

Catherine Castle said...

Sounds like you've been daring enough to try it. I commend you, James. Thanks for coming by.