Blog Hopping: Reminder to Read Up!

Just a quick reminder that you can now check out the responses of the three writers I tagged in my post last week on my writing processes. The three lovely authors who agreed to be next in my chain are as follows:

  • Krysten Lindsay Hager, a new YA romance author with Astraea Press. Read her responses here.
  • Margaret S. McGraw, a fantasy and science fiction writer with a great YA fantasy novel nearing the end of edits. Margaret’s post is going up late tonight, so check here later on or tomorrow for it.
  • And Katrina Rasbold, a writer of fantasy, romance, and many nonfiction books on spirituality. You can read her answers here.

Thanks, ladies, for participating, and I’m diving in to read what you’ve said now!

Holiday Blog Break!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. Mine’s about to get better–visiting family for a day in Los Angeles and then spending three full days with my hubby in Las Vegas! We are greatly in need of a vacation; turns out that driving across the country with three cats doesn’t actually count as one. So while we’re happily getting used to life in the Bay Area–

Ben and me at Union Square.

Ben and me at Union Square.

–we’re still in need of time away. So I’m taking a break from everyday life and from blogging just until the New Year. To entice you back in January, I offer this teaser of blog posts to come…

Wine tasting on Treasure Island.

Wine tasting on Treasure Island.

Have a very merry Christmas and a fantabulous New Year!

“Warm Your Heart” Christmas Blog Tour from Astraea Press (and prizes!)

Hello readers, I have a guest post for you today. Astraea Press, publisher of my romance novella, Maya’s Vacation, is having a blog tour to promote all of their winter holidays books. Today, I’m playing host! So read on for a message from Astraea Press and a synopsis of a pair of Astraea’s holiday books. You’ll also find out how to into to win a free $50 giftcard from Astraea and a free Astraea book of your choice!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Astraea Press! We love this time of year!Is it the cooler weather? The fires in the fireplace? Family gatherings? Or our sweethearts under the mistletoe…. We do love mistletoe 😉

Whatever the cause, we want to celebrate Christmas and this holiday season with you. This is one of the many stops on a two-week tour. Check out the rafflecopter at our website or the end of this post for a chance to win a free Astraea Press Christmas book of YOUR choice (eep!). There is also a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

I want to thank Rebecca and all the other blogs who have offered to help.
All of their facebook pages and/or twitter are on the rafflecopter. I hope you
get a chance to visit them all.

So… MERRY CHRISTMAS from Astraea Press and our authors. Thanks for a great year.

~Kelly from AP

Here is a Christmas book from bestselling author Patricia Kiyono:

The Christmas Phoenix by Patricia Kiyono

Jess Tate is trying to make a life for herself and her teenage son after her husband’s sudden death.  Running the family’s struggling landscape business in Northern Michigan has been hard work, and her son hasn’t been much help.  She’s managed to get by, learning to run the big equipment herself, but between snowplowing early in the mornings and working her daytime job in town, she often wonders if there will ever be more to life than endless work.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nonfiction Bragging – An Insider’s Guide to the General Hospital Fan Club Weekend

A few months ago, I got to add a second item to my list of professional photography credits for this amazing book for lovers of General Hospital, but somehow, I forgot to announce it here!

The book is written by Katrina Rasbold, my talented boss over at All My Writers, and I can guarantee she’ll crack you up with her Southern dame prose. As the description reads,

A must have for all fans of the iconic soap opera, General Hospital! This book provides one-of-a-kind photos and stories from behind the scenes of the premier GH event of the year…. [Katrina] gives you smart tips on how to navigate this complex and intense fan event to get the most bang for your buck and for your time….Who crashed the party at the 2013 Main Cast Luncheon? What GH beauty from the past arrived at the Main Cast Luncheon to announce that she is now on the current cast? Who was the breakout star of the weekend who had hearts throbbing on Sunday?…She shares insider stories from her years working the event, plus includes over 450 photographs from her own personal collection, more than 300 of which are from the most recent 2013 General Hospital Fan Club Weekend!

You can purchase this tome through Amazon as an e-book or through CreateSpace as a print book in either black and white or color. It would make a great Christmas gift for fans of the show, which I can say because I’ve been one since the womb! The book definitely prepares folks to attend the fan club weekend, but it’s chock-full of insider stories that any GH viewer would love to hear.

Here are what readers have to say so far:

“It’s a delightful book, quite helpful to the person who is off to such a fan weekend. I am sure that much of the travel and packing advice is applicable to any such event in a hot climate. Written by a woman who has been there, done that, I would listen to her words and follow them in order to best enjoy the event. Best of all, you can add this book to your Kindle and carry it with you for a handy reference! As far as I’m concerned, it’s a must-have for anyone who plans on going to any fan event.”

“I remember watching General Hospital when it was in black and white (at least at my house) and featured stories about Steve and Audrey Hardy and the nurses at GH. I’ve never been to a GH event (wrong side of a very big country) but after reading this book, I feel as though I’ve been there. Insider tidbits about the participating actors, sure, but also the very necessary information about packing, hotels, where to go, when to go there, and the protocol for any GH event. A fun read even if you never make it to an event, and an indispensable one if you do plan to attend this yearly event.”

“Katrina captures the experience of the General Hospital Fan Club Weekend with unabridged honesty, humorous, truthful tales of unbelievable and unforgettable moments that positively and lovingly spotlights both the graciousness of the actors and the enthusiasm of the fans. The collection of personal anecdotes, hundreds of photos, and insider information about how to prepare” to attend this four-day extravaganza is a MUST HAVE for not only those fans who wish to attend, but also ANY fan who has loved this 50 year young daytime icon!”

I can’t leave you without a picture of me at the event, now can I? Enjoy!

Me with John J. York.

Friend Bragging

I’ve been wanting to promote some friends with new books and blogs out for a while now…so long of a while that I’m not sure I can classify them as new! Two of these friends are from All My Writers, the entertainment website where I write columns on General Hospital, Glee, and currently, trying out the slate of Fall TV show premieres.

Let’s start with Katrina Rasbold, webmistress of All My Writers and writer of many new books she’s published to Amazon this summer. One of them is a guide to the General Hospital Fan Club Weekend featuring photography by me, but I’ll post a separate entry promoting that. The rest of Katrina’s books range from instructions on making candles with a spiritual intent–

candles soap–to discussing the principles of Energy Magic for those of you attracted to that practice–

energy magic

–to a memoir about her life growing up in Kentucky that’s on my must-read list.

leaving kentucky

She’s adding Arthurian romance to her collection soon. I’ve read Katrina’s blog posts for about a decade, and her style of writing is always entertaining and full of a woman who’s determined to live life to its fullest, whatever that may mean at that time. You can buy all of her work here.

Blog Update: Look, it’s migrated!

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve (or rather, my husband has) moved my food, drink, and travel blog over to my main website. This is effectively me saying “Screw niche blogging!” and keeping all forms of my writing together. It’s probably silly, but I always felt bad when I posted about my fiction writing on the Gourmez, like I was interrupting my readers’ feast to say, “Hey! There’s this other thing I do too! See! Read my things on the bookshelves behind the dinner table!”

So now it’s all in one place, and I think I like the change. It feels more authentic to me somehow, like all of Becca the Writer is now on display. I’ve also begun taking my camera out to restaurants again, so I think that means I’m nearly settled in here in the Bay Area. I’m not going to maintain the three posts a week I was doing in North Carolina–that was just insane of me in the first place, especially because I contribute columns to All My Writers on a weekly basis as well. But I will aim for twice weekly posts about food and drink, mainly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And when I have other things to share with you, it’ll just pop up randomly on another day of the week like this blog today. Sound good?

My husband assures me that no RSS feeds need to be updated, but I don’t know if that’ll always be the case, so there’s no harm in clicking that little button on the top of the page to get the feed for this site instead. And I know most my blog readers are North Carolina based at present, but I hope you’ll still find my food adventures worth exploring from 3,000 miles away. For once, my Californian friends are enjoying seeing places they can go instead. I think that’s a fair turnaround after six years of blogging.

Me and my cousin Daniel doing the tourist thing in North Beach.

Me and my cousin Daniel doing the tourist thing in North Beach.

And now back to fiction for the rest of today. I’ve got a giant bird I need to wrangle into a short story. It flew out of the last half somehow, and now I must lure it back in. As always, thanks for reading!

My Aha Moment and a dramatic reading of “Sardines”

A few weeks back, I recorded my aha moment. How does one record an aha moment? Funny you should ask, because I didn’t know either until the aha moment team asked me to come in and do a little video session with them for their national campaign. The “they” in all this is Mutual of Omaha, and “my aha moment” is an ad campaign they’ve been running for the past couple of years. It’s a clever way to do promotions–a team of videographers tours the country and invites locals to come into their Airstream and share the aha moments that have set them down whatever path they are pursuing, whether charity work or a career.

Borrowed from the “my aha moment” Facebook page.

You can peruse all the videos and commericals they’ve produced at their website. I participated at their Raleigh, NC, stop and shared about my writing and the moment when I realized I was a writer for real…at the tender age of 9 (maybe 10). Watch my aha moment below!

I think it turned out pretty well! But what didn’t make it onto the reel was my dramatic reading of the poem I composed that day in Monterey. I can still picture the light blue paper I was finally able to jot it down on once we returned to the hotel in the evening, but alas, I no longer have the sheet of paper. I do still have the poem, however. And here I am, reading it in all it’s fourth-grade glory.

Now I hadn’t read that poem in years, and I surprisingly realized that (1) I was writing curveball horror twists in the 4th grade! Genre fiction is definitely for me; (2)  I was already concerned about sustainable food! I honed right in on how overfishing had destroyed Cannery Row’s sardine trade, no doubt having heard it from a tour guide or read it in the tourbook on the way to Monterey; and (3) I managed to capture a sense of place for Cannery Row, which is something I always try to do in my travel posts. It’s hilarious to me that my writing interests have not shifted much since that time.

I hope you enjoyed my aha moment and “Sardines.” I may make a series out of reading my elementary-school short stories and poems. Any guess as to what’s going on with this picture?

becca whale storyIf you answered the cover page for a short story that involves a haunted house under water, then you’d be right! And yes, that’s a giant blue whale with rainbows and clouds on its skin. Oh yes, it’s a winner, my friends. Think Lightspeed would be interested?

Food Writing Bragging: New Post at WRAL

If you were on vacation last week, you may have missed my newest post at WRAL’s Out and About blog. I was, and I almost missed it myself! This one is on all the amazing foodstuffs you can find within a block of what I call Durham’s Bermuda Triangle for foodies, also known as the intersection of Mangum and Parrish streets.

Pain aux pistaches at Loaf.

Take a food tour through the South’s Tastiest Town

By Rebecca Gomez Farrell

Posted: May 27
Updated: May 29

Durham, N.C. — For foodies, the intersection of Magnum and Parrish streets in downtown Durham is a Bermuda Triangle they may never want to escape. Within one block of it, in any direction, is a plethora of eateries, bakeries, and bars that prize local ingredients, quality products, and creativity. Consider this your guide to a perfect food lover’s day in Durham without doing more than crossing the street.

Stop 1: Breakfast at Monuts Donuts (110 East Parrish St.). This donut and bagel shop used to operate out of a tricycle. Cake and yeast donuts come in flavors like chocolate chai and the delicious maple bacon bourbon I sampled. Bagels are also a hot commodity and can be topped with eggs, cheese, and … maple sriracha? Counter Culture iced coffee should help with that morning headache….

Read on for all the stops on my foodie tour…and to see just how many times I can manage to misspell Mangum in one article. Find the rest of it here, along with a pretty awesome slide show of the tour, if I do say so myself.


State of the Blog

I’m moving to California.

Me in 2011 with Los Angeles at my back.

There is no set “when” yet, but if all goes well after listing our house next week, it will be sometime in August.  There is no set “where” yet, but if all goes well with Ben’s employment options, it will be in the Bay Area, with LA as a second choice.

This means a few things. One is that the restaurant and cocktail reviews on this blog have largely been focused on the Research Triangle area of North Carolina where I’ve lived for the past seven years. It’s where I’ve come of foodie age in terms of learning about cuisine, about how great chefs truly make it a craft, and about how sourcing local and sustainable products from farmers you trust is yes, a good idea for the welfare of animals and the treatment of soil but also an amazing treat for your taste buds.

There is no way to ever express my gratitude for these lessons North Carolina has taught me about appreciating what I eat. The people in the food industry here are passionate, committed, and really easy to spend an evening with. Many of my fellow food bloggers have become cherished friends, and that is not to mention all the other cherished friends we have here:  friends from Ben’s alma mater of RPI, friends from working at UNC Cardiology, friends from helping organize Traction the last couple of years, and dear god, the friends I’ve made in the writing community here, both in food and in speculative fiction. I will miss you all with an ache I already know too well from having left those I love behind before. It’s the price I pay to satiate my wanderlust and indulge my writerly curiosity about the everyday lives of people in different regions. In choosing not to put down roots, I’ve acquired several regrets, but I know my regrets would be greater if I’d stayed in one place. That North Carolina kept me for seven years is one of the best compliments I can pay it.

So why California? I’ve lived on the East Coast for a decade now, and it’s time to return home for a while. I’ve been aching for those first friends I left in 2003. My soul needs a refresher. It needs the smell of redwoods, the sound of sea lions barking, and the sight of fog in the valley.

Morro Rock shrouded in fog.

Morro Rock shrouded in fog.

But it won’t be a complete return to what I know, because I’ve never lived in the Bay area, and if it’s Los Angeles, I haven’t lived there since I was 8. I’m excited to see what it’s like in California as a true adult. I’m excited to see what changes have come to the food culture of the region, to learn what else I never realized about it before becoming food aware—I was honestly clueless I lived in a winemaking region on the Central Coast, folks. There were grapevines, but I never quite realized what they were for.

One of many wines from the Central Coast that I’ve reviewed since leaving that same Central Coast.

So what does that mean for the blog? Well, it’s not going away anytime soon because that house does need to sell, and I do have a lot of restaurants to cross off my must-dine list before we leave (Want to join me? Comment!). There are a couple local businesses I’ve wanted to profile but haven’t had the chance to, and I’d like to fix that. But I do expect my posting to lessen once the great move approaches, and when we make it to California, I will plan my next blog strategy after settling in and scoping out the food blogging and writing community there. I may aim for joining larger websites that already have an established following or perhaps keeping on as I have been with a focus on my new hometown.

In the meantime, more personal blogs like this one will crop up because I have a lot to work out, you see. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to an area and people who’ve treated us so well, and I will have a few things to say about that as the move progresses.

North Carolina, treating us well.

North Carolina, treating us well.

I have plenty of fears that my friends in California and the state itself have changed enough that fitting back in may be a struggle—you see, I have this tendency to create fantasies for more than just my fiction and that includes a keen nostalgia for times and places past. I am intensely curious as to how Ben will react to life in California and how he’ll think it compares with those fantasies I’ve constructed. Have I imagined the glory of dry heat and mosquitos only when you’re camping? Will Ben understand the perfection that is San Francisco sourdough? Moving three cats across the country will also be an adventure worth documenting.


They may not agree.

So you may get more Becca than the Gourmez in the coming months, but you should still get plenty of good eats and drinks, too. Regardless, thank you, dear readers, for joining me on this “quest toward becoming the elusive ‘gourmet’ without bothering about things like tannins and foie gras” as I wrote in my original About the Gourmez page in 2007. There has been some tannins and foie gras talk since then, but I hope learning about them together has been fun, and I have no doubt I have plenty more to learn. California’s restaurants will be my next classroom.

 And what a view it has.

Fiction Bragging Reminder: Last Week to get “Bother” for Free!

In February, I let you all know about the opportunity to get your hands on one of my short stories for free for a limited time. And now that time is almost at an end! “Bother,” along with many other fantastic stories collected by M. David Blake for the 2013 Campbellian Pre-Reading Anthology, will only be available until 4/30. So what are you waiting for? Click your browsers on over to Stupefying Stories and get your copy! And be sure to give Durham author Mur Lafferty your congratulations on being nominated for the Campbell Award for the second straight year. Some of her work is also available in the anthology. You can find her at the Murverse.

Campbellian Anthology 2013 cover

Here’s what I posted to explain the anthology in February:

Published by Stupefying Stories, the 2013 Campbellian Pre-Reading Anthology is now available for free — that’s right, free! — for anyone interested in perusing the works of authors eligible for Campbell award nominations this year. What’s that? As M. David Blake, editor of Stupefying Stories explained,

Named for John W. Campbell, Jr., whose 34 years at the helm of Astounding Science Fiction (later renamed Analog) defined the “Golden Age” of the genre and launched the careers of dozens of famous writers, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer is presented annually at WorldCon to an outstanding author whose first professional work of science fiction or fantasy was published within the previous two years.

What does this have to do with me? Well, with my sale of “Bother” to Bull Spec nearing on two years ago now, I became eligible for the Campbell Award. I have absolutely no expectations of being nominated, especially because I haven’t had other speculative fiction published since then — I’ve been working on my first fantasy novel instead of sending out my short stories. But “Bother” has been reprinted in the anthology, and now’s your chance to read it for free along with other worthy works by a large list of fantastic speculative fiction authors. All for free until the Hugo nominees, including for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, are announced at the end of April.

To take advantage of this amazing access to these stories, just click here and chose the e-format you prefer at the end of the publication announcement post. And if you do read “Bother,” please let me know what you thought! Us writers do thrive on feedback.