Tag Archive for north carolina

Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook for Sale!

What’s that? I share a contributor credit with such famous speculative fiction writers as Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, Chuck Wendig, Mary Robinette Kowal, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Jim C. Hines?

Ad Astra Cover

You bet I do! The Ad Astra 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook came to be when a few fellow illustrious Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America members decided it was high past time for another cookbook to come forth from our midst. Cat Rambo and Fran Wilde volunteered for editing duties and managed to gather up 150+ recipes along with some bonus specialties with ingredients that may be hard to find…

I’ll let the Foreword speak for itself to give you a better idea of what this cookbook entails:

Within the science fiction and fantasy community, writers work wherever they can find a table, often among friends, virtual and face to face. It’s a blend of friendship and business, of celebration and craft. It’s messy sometimes. It’s beautiful.

In celebration of fifty years of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook has collected recipes old and new from writers across the span of its membership. But this is more than just a cookbook. What you hold in your hands is a historical document. You’ll find a history of SF/F entertaining that goes back more than fifty years. Some of it is funny; some (like the bash cake/Mars colony cake), is itself a historical document; some of it is conversations between multiple writers. Some of it is written in fanciful, or … colorful language.

Here be Dragons.

Not everyone we wished to include are within these pages. But many are. We hope many more are to come in the future cookbooks.

The introduction to my Seared Peaches with Prosciutto and Basil definitely qualifies as one of those fanciful entries. It is a tribute to the speculative fiction writers and fans of the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina, which is where I began my fiction-writing career and where I developed wonderful friends and support from among many talented fellow key-pounders.

Ad Astra Cookbook-2

You can get your hands on this very unique, and very fun collector’s item of a cookbook straight from the SFWA website here. Click to order through Paypal. Spiral-bound print is $19.95 and e-book is $9.99. I’d recommend the print myself.

Ad Astra is available for the same prices from Amazon as well.

All proceeds from the book are going directly to the SFWA Legal Fund, which is used to help SFWA members with court costs when the need for writing-related legal action is necessary–most of us don’t make much in this gig, so the legal fund can be a career saver when our work needs to be protected.

Enjoy this fun collaboration, and I’ll enjoy my moment of glory being among this fantastic group of recipe contributors.

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!

Five Truths for North Carolinians

If we’re friends in the flesh, then you may have heard me go off on one of these rants before. Call it therapy in anticipation of our move, but I have a few things about North Carolina I want to get off my chest. And because Southerners like to believe everything’s better if you coat it in sugar or butter it up, I’ve followed each with a counterpoint extolling what I love about this state.

1. The sky is not Carolina Blue.

Sky in North Carolina.

Sky in North Carolina.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, Tarheel fans, but the sky is the same color everywhere you go, and that color is not Carolina Blue. It’s called sky blue, and that’s because it existed well before the University of North Carolina was a speck in dear old William R. Davies’ eye. You do not have a patent on the color of the sky, and it’s darn obnoxious that you think you do.

Sky in Yosemite. Oh look, it’s the same!

Sky in Yosemite. Oh look, it’s the same!

1a. Your House Divided bumper stickers are pretty cute.

Credit: Outdoor Wholesale Dropship

I love it when couples antagonize each other, and there’s no better way to observe that than during a basketball game with split Duke and UNC allegiances among the hosts. What’s even cuter is that NC State fans actually think they are UNC’s rivals. It makes me want to rub the whole Wolfpack’s heads with condescending pats.

2. Get some damn streetlights.

Those are the things on the right.

Those are the things on the right.

And while you’re at it, throw in some sidewalks and lane reflectors, too. Driving at night here is a guessing game—is that a lane divider over there or is it more construction on Davis Dr.? Who knows?! It’s too damn dark to see. Don’t even try and read the street signs. In fact, maybe you should just avoid traveling at night, especially if it’s raining. Turn on your brights, and all you’ll get are reflections in the puddles of water washing over the asphalt. There is a resistance to night pollution in this state. For all you city folk, night pollution is the collective effect that electronic lighting has on our ability to see stars. I’ll take being alive over seeing stars any day. Pun intended.

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.

Winter Tales: The Readings

About a month ago, I took part in Winter Tales, a reading of holiday-themed works by local authors that was hosted by the Orange County Public Library in Hillsborough. Poems, essays, stories, and songs were all shared that evening, and now we have video of each reading! I’m embedding them all here so you can enjoy the event as we did.

First, because this is my blog, I’m sharing my reading of a personal essay, “Treasures in Cardboard Boxes.” It’s a reflection on losing a mixtape of Christmas carols and on growing up a little different from your family.

Next is “Winter Sonnet,” a poem by James Maxey, the organizer of the event. It is a quick, sweet listen about celebrating winter with his wife.

Also from James is a personal essay, “Christmas Dismemberment,” about receiving presents you don’t really want as a child.

The evening began with a reading of a drabble, a 100-word short stories, by Mur Lafferty, the first of which was “Zuzu’s Bell” about Lucifer on his birthday.

Mur’s second reading was “750,000 of Your Friends Like This,” a futuristic, cynical, yet fun take on the Christmas Carol revisions in the future. Sorry it’s a bit lower quality than the rest of the excerpts.

Alex Granados gave less of a reading and more of a storytelling, sharing an adventure with in-laws called “Death By Big Screen TV.” It’s a great portrayal of his father-in-law and his can-do-anything attitude.

Last, but not least, are two songs from Gray Rinehart. The first was inspired by his time in Greenland and is titled “Winter Simplifies the World.”

The second song is light-hearted and FILK, meaning it’s a play on science fiction or fantasy works. This is “Tauntauns to Glory,” a fun tribute to the majestic tauntauns of Star Wars.

And thus concludes these Winter Tales. Hopefully, they brightened yours, wherever it may be.


Nonfiction Bragging – Front Porch at the Independent Weekly

Would you like to know how good of a year 2012 has been so far? This is the second time I’ve had to replace one of my planned bragging posts with a just published one instead!  Let’s hope this is a trend that continues.

This week, I’m directing you to an essay I wrote for our local independent newspaper, sensibly named the Independent Weekly, or the Indy if you’re a local. The Front Porch column is open to readers to send in 500-word essays on any topic, and it’s often a great place to get a sense of what others in the community are thinking about or just taste a little slice of someone’s life. This week, it’s my life you can dig into, or at least my opinions on the running craze and the constant fundraisers around us. Here is your teaser:

On Facebook, I complete the circle of life every day by reading the status updates of friends and acquaintances. Births, weddings, deaths, more births: They’re all there on display. Lately, it seems, there’s a new element of living that I’d previously neglected. I’m talking about races, the running kind—anything that ends in “-athlon,” “-K” or red-faced racers clutching their stomachs as they breathlessly pass a finish line.

Ostensibly, it’s both the method of choice to raise money for every known charity and the trendiest way to announce a transition from out-of-shape blob to exercise hound. Watching from the sidelines, it’s a little bewildering . . .

For the rest of the Front Porch, either pick up a free copy of the Indy at pretty much any coffee shop and many local businesses or head over to the web version. Thanks for reading!

Watch me read from Bother!

Hello there, fine blog readers! Last week, I did my first reading as part of Bull Spec’s Issue #5 launch. My short story, Bother, is featured on the cover, and I got the pimp spot of the evening–by which I mean, I read after 7 other fabulous speculative fiction writers and editors did their things that I wish I had recorded to share with you, too! I didn’t expect a recording at all, but that dastardly husband of mine pulled out his cell phone camera and . . . it wasn’t that bad! So I’m sharing it with you today, and I hope you enjoy hearing the first few pages of the story. If you do, pick up a copy of Bull Spec now! If you’re local, it’s at the Regulator and both Durham Barnes & Nobles this week and will be expanding to the locations listed below the video in the next few weeks. If you’re not, then order it here.

Becca Gomez Farrell at Quail Ridge Bookstore from ben farrell on Vimeo.

Tips for polishing up my reading presentation are very welcome. Hope you enjoyed it!

Locations where Bull Spec #5 is or soon will be available:

The Regulator Bookshop (Durham, 9th Street)
Sci-Fi Genre Comics & Games (Durham, 3215 Old Chapel Hill Rd between University Dr and MLK Blvd)
Quail Ridge Books & Music (Raleigh, 3522 Wade Ave at Ridge Rd)
Internationalist Books & Community Center (Chapel Hill, 405 W Franklin St)
Chapel Hill Comics (Chapel Hill, 316 W Franklin St)
Foundation’s Edge (Raleigh, 2526 Hillsborough St)
Storyteller’s Books (Wake Forest, 100 E. Roosevelt Ave)
Capitol Comics (Raleigh, 3027 Hillsborough St)
Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill, 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd)
All Fun & Games (Apex, 958 US Highway 64)
Ultimate Comics (Durham: 9th St; Chapel Hill: Farrington Rd)
Barnes & Noble of Cary (760 SE Maynard, Cary Commons)
Barnes & Noble of Durham – The Streets at Southpoint (8030 Renaissance Parkway)
Barnes & Noble of Durham – New Hope Commons (5400 New Hope Commons)
All Booked Up (Apex, 104-B North Salem St)
Northgate Books (Durham: Northgate Mall)
North Carolina:
Barnes & Noble of Greenville, NC (3040 Evans Street)
New York:
Forbidden Planet NYC (NYC, NY)
Golden Eagle Comics (Reading, PA)

Stellarcon 2011 and High Point, NC

View over the tracks

I am way behind on all my travel posts, but I’m hoping to get that taken care of in the next few weeks. Here’s one on a trip the husband and I took to High Point, NC, for the 35th Stellarcon. “Now old enough to run for president!” was the unofficial slogan. This was my third speculative fiction convention, and Ben’s first.

What did I think? It was fun! Stellarcon convinced me to sign up in large part because I was amazed that such a small conference offered so much programming. As an author, I’m most drawn to the panels on writing-related aspects that I need more guidance on, but I also really enjoyed the fan-based panels, though I only attended two. One was on love for New Who and the other was a celebration of that glorious genre called B-movies.

A sci-fi/fantasy convention, you say? Where are the crazy pictures? Well, since you asked . . .

Klingon Karaoke!

Apparently, this is a Stellarcon tradition, with a Klingon and an Enterprise crewwoman hosting the event. I sang a little No Doubt—pretty badly since I didn’t remember the verses to Spiderwebs. Sigh. Other singers had more success.

An airship captain with a nice, deep voice.

The esteemed Klingon MC singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Raven, the captain, and his girlfriend dancing along.

On Day 2, Ben and I went for a walk around High Point, as I’d never been there beyond stopping to take a picture there during the Giant Furniture Adventure. I was surprised by many of the awesome buildings High Point has that are definitely worthy of a shot or two.

Spring in Cross Timbers—Photo Blog

Just a quick blog with photos of the flowers up and blooming, and of Loki taking his proper place as lord of the manor. His throne, of course, is the top of the car.

Mazu, of the pretty, pretty coat.

Verdandi, checking out the mulch I put beneath the Bradford Pear.

The flower garden waiting on the tulips to come play.



And that pear tree:

Hope those tulips come soon!