Monday, November 11, 2013

Giving away my recipe for salmon chowder, a signed copy of Believe it or Not, and the secret behind page 99

If you've ever acquired a copy of Believe it or Not from me – either in a contest, at a book signing, or by breaking into my home and stealing one – there was a bookmark stuffed inside.

You probably didn't notice it, nor did you make note of what page it was on, but I did.

That's because every copy of my sophomore romantic comedy that passes through my hands gets a little extra love on page 99. It's the start of a scene that always makes me smile because of the story behind it.

Back in the spring of 2011, there was a lot happening in my life. I was preparing for the release of my first romantic comedy, Making Waves, while doing editorial revisions on the book slated for release six months after that,  Believe it or Not.

I was also spending time with a handsome, kind, smart, funny gentleman with whom I'd been acquainted for many years, but had never known particularly well until I asked him to mentor me through a difficult divorce.

While the divorce mentoring was helpful, I had an ulterior motive in spending time with him. I sincerely wished to jump his bones, so I hatched an evil plan to seduce him using the best tools in my arsenal: food, alcohol, and cleavage.

I invited him to join me on a beer-related outing for my day job, followed by dinner at my house. I wore a low-cut sweater and prepared my famous salmon chowder. As we sat on the sofa chatting afterward, I edged closer and closer, eventually tucking my bare feet under his leg under the pretense of warming them. With the touch barrier broken, he offered up a foot massage that evolved into a calf massage that evolved into . . . well, I'll stop the story there to preserve some semblance of mystery.

Simmering salmon chowder with aphrodisiac powers.
Of course, if I wanted to preserve the mystery, I wouldn't have used that experience as the basis for a romantic scene in Believe it or Not that begins on page 99. When my editor asked me to add a couple more sexy scenes to the book just a few weeks after that fateful evening on the couch, I decided to pay homage by having Drew and Violet engage in a little sofa leg massage flirtation of their own. I won't claim the scene is a blow-by-blow (ha!) account of what happened that evening, but things seem to have worked out nicely for all of us in the 32 months since then. I'm not sure when Drew and Violet's wedding will be, but ours is next September.

While I'd like to extoll the seductive powers of my legs and cleavage, I'm pretty sure the salmon chowder deserves most of the credit. In case you need to seduce someone (or, yanno, just put a nutritious and tasty meal on the table) here's my recipe:

Tawna's Salmon Chowder
  • 4-5 slices of bacon
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I use skim)
  • 1 small can evaporated milk
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 4-5 small red potatoes, cubed
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 salmon filets 
  • A small amount of milk for poaching salmon (maybe 1/3 cup)
  • Dill to taste (I use tons)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the bacon in your soup pot until crisp. Remove it and let it cool before crumbling it and setting it aside. In the bacon grease remaining in your soup pot, saute the onions until soft and golden brown. Add the carrots and saute a few more minutes to blend flavors. Add corn, potatoes, and chicken broth and simmer for about 30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, sprinkle your salmon filets with salt and pepper and put them in a pot with a little milk. If you have some scraps of onion and carrot left over, sprinkle them on the salmon as well to lend a little flavor. Cover tightly with a lid and poach for a 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 more minutes before removing from the liquid, tossing the carrots/onion, and flaking the salmon with a fork. Set aside.

Dinner is served!
Return to your soup pot and give it a good stir. Add both the evaporated milk and the regular milk and bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes more. Slowly add the salmon and bacon and simmer for 10-15 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper, and dill and serve hot with sourdough bread and a good white wine or rosé.


Since I'm in a giving sorta mood with the story and the recipe and all, how about I give away a signed copy of f Believe it or Not , too?

Leave a comment describing your best seduction meal. Recipes or links are helpful, but just a description of the dish will suffice. I'll pick a winner next Monday.


UPDATE: I've had several readers report they're unable to leave comments when they attempt it from a mobile device. I'm working to figure out a long-term solution, but in the meantime, you should be able to comment from a desktop computer or by selecting the web version of my blog (not the mobile version) from your mobile device. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Why I'm grateful for water damage and a dead television

Saturday afternoon I was holed up in my downstairs office  browsing eBay   giggling at damnyouautocorrect   surfing porn  working tirelessly on my latest manuscript when I heard a loud crash.

"No! Oh no, no, NO!"

My gentleman friend's son's scream echoed somewhere above. Or was it outside? I jumped up, frantic. The dog skittered under my desk, and I considered joining her when I heard my gentleman friend yell.

"Get back! Get back now, go!"

My spleen lodged in my throat, and my skin went icy. I scrambled toward the door, my gut twisting in anguish. I knew what had happened. I knew it. One of our five cats, hit by a car in front of our house. It was bound to happen.

I ran for the stairs, shutting the dog in the office as I raced toward the sound of yelling. The horrified note in my gentleman friend's voice told me it was bad – really bad – probably one of our favorite cats. Maestro? Matt the Cat? Blue Cat?

I hit the landing below the second flight of stairs and collided with a 6'1" wall of frantic male. My gentleman friend pushed past me and ran for the kitchen.

I followed, swallowing hard. "Which cat? How bad? Is the vet still open?"

He  grabbed a giant mixing bowl and turned toward the sink. Why would he need a mixing bowl? Where was the cat? I looked around, tallying felines. There was Blue Cat in the dog bed. Was Maggie under the fern?

"The aquarium," my gentleman friend said, jolting me from my cat count. "The TV rolled off the bed and smashed the aquarium."

I blinked at him, regrouping. "Aquarium?"

"I set the TV on the bed to clean it and turned my back for a second and now there's water and glass everywhere. Kids, stay back."

Relief washed over me, flushing out the adrenaline that had flooded my system. I turned and took the stairs two at a time, skidding breathless into the room where the 10-gallon fish tank gushed water over a TV that lay sprawled on its back like a dead tortoise.

I smiled. It was true then. The cats were OK.

I sank to my knees and began hunting for fish. My gentleman friend dropped to the floor beside me, mixing bowl in hand. Together, we located the flopping fish and got them safely into water.

"Ohmygod," I breathed. "The cats are fine."

"What?" he asked distractedly. "Never mind. We need towels."

He ran for the linen closet and returned, dropping a bundle of towels on the bed behind us. Together, we mopped furiously at the water soaking the rug.

"Who do we know with a ShopVac?" I asked.

My gentleman friend was on his feet in an instant, dialing a friend as he ran outside to hunt for a neighbor who might have the desired appliance. He returned moments later, and we set to work slopping through the wetness, sucking and pressing and maneuvering around on all fours.

I giggled.

My gentleman friend shot me a worried look. "Are you OK?"

"If you wanted me wet and on my knees, all you had to do was ask."

He shook his head, probably assuming I was in shock. "I hope the carpet isn't ruined. I hope it's not leaking through the ceiling below. I hope – "

"All the cats are OK," I breathed, smiling wider. "I thought someone was dead, but they're all fine. All this – the carpet, the drywall, the aquarium, the TV – it's so much better than I thought it was going to be."

He blinked at me, then surveyed the overturned furniture, the sodden carpet, the shards of glass littering the floor. He turned back to me. "Not much."


He smiled. Then we both got back to work.

An hour later, we were both damp and bedraggled and exhausted as we knelt there on the floor catching our breath.

"It definitely wasn't the most fun we've had ending up like this," I said. "But it could be worse."

"At least now we have an excuse to take off these clothes."

"We need an excuse?"

The whole experience felt like such a metaphor for the sort of perspective I've found myself needing again and again and again along my writing journey. So often, a setback can feel like the worst thing in the world.

Ohmygod my editor trashed my last book!

Yeah? How fortunate to have an editor.

Dammit, I can't find an agent to represent me!

No? What a gift to be able to write a whole book.

I'm stuck in this plot hole and can't get out!

What an enormous blessing to have the education required to string sentences together on a computer that sits in a warm home with food in the refrigerator and loved ones in adjacent rooms.

I'm not saying the setbacks don't suck. I'm not saying I haven't freaked out a million times over situations that seemed abysmal in the moment. But most of the time, things that seem lousy feel a whole lot less lousy when compared with the lousiness that could have been.

Have you ever had an experience like that? Please share!

I'll be on my knees doing a bit of blowing. I wonder if this hair dryer has a higher setting?