Friday, March 8, 2013

Stardust Summer blog tour - guest post by Lauren Clark

Why A Good Book is Like Fine Dining

What a treat to sit down to a lovely meal with family or friends. Many people choose fine dining restaurants for special occasions, so the food, atmosphere, and delivery must not disappoint!

To me, a good book is like fine dining--an experience to be tasted, enjoyed, and savored. In turn, authors are like chefs. They plan and prepare the meal, offering interesting, creative, and unique entrees that can't be found elsewhere. Fine dining, like novel writing, requires a lot of attention to detail.

Atmosphere

At a fine dining establishment, music is playing subtly in the background and should reflect the theme of the night, such as classical for a traditional restaurant or jazz for something modern. The atmosphere should be elegant and upscale, pleasing to the eye, but not so overdone as to overwhelm the dining experience.

A book's atmosphere should also conjure up certain emotions--relaxed, tense, happy, or grieving--thus setting the stage for the story to begin. Is the book set in a busy city with street lights and skyscrapers or is the location in the country, by a lake or mountains? Is the air clean, is the sky blue? When you close your eyes, what do you hear, smell or taste? Are birds chirping or taxis honking? What does the wind feel like in your hair?

Menu

A traditional fine dining menu usually offers five to seven courses, featuring an array of attractive and delicious choices. If you think about it, a novel develops in a similar pattern. Follow along and see if you agree with my thinking ...

Courses

1. Hors d'oeuvres - The appetizer or very first part of a fine dining meal. It is a taste or a few small bites, a sampling of the chef's work. In a novel, this first course would be the introduction to the characters, their current living situations, job, family, and location.
2. Soup - The second course, served hot or cold, can be cream or broth-based, served with vegetables or as a puree. For a story, the soup would serve as the introduction of the main character's issue or challenge. It would be the reader's first hint that something is amiss in the protagonist's life.
3. Fish or Seafood Dish - The third course is often a light, flaky seafood entree. This portion of the novel might introduce the antagonist, or whomever stands in the way of the main character achieving his or her goal. It might be a love interest from the past, a jealous ex-husband, or a slighted family member or friend.
4. Entree - Often the heaviest and most substantial part of the meal, the fourth course is likely a choice of beef, chicken, lamb, or veal. This entree is usually a larger portion, often served with a glaze or sauce and potatoes or vegetables as a side dish. In a book, the entree represents a turning point in the book, a point of no return from which the main character cannot go back. It may be a choice to face a problem head on, confront an enemy, or set off in search of answers to a mystery or secret.
5. Cold dish or salad - The fifth course is a "breather," a smaller, lighter dish designed to balance the heaviness of the meat entree. At this point in a story, the main character may feel as if she or he has made progress, is moving toward a goal, and that life as he or she knows it is about to settle down and get back to normal.
6. Cheese - The sixth course in traditional fine dining is a palate cleanser; a small bite designed to allow guests to finish their wine, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy good conversation. It is also a course that signals that the evening is coming to a close; change is near. With a novel, I see this course being served as sharp or savory cheese, something that wakes up the tongue and mouth in anticipation of something sweet. I see this portion of the meal as the climax; the face off between good and evil, the moment of truth. It may be a surprise or a twist, it may make you cry out or want shut the book in frustration. Hopefully, though, the author has given you enough incentive to read on to the very end!
7. Dessert - The final course of the meal is, of course, the most delicious; a portion to be lingered over, enjoyed with coffee, or a delicate liquor. The dessert can be chocolate or caramel, hot or cold, served with berries or whipped cream. As with most novels, this course is one of the most important and memorable of a story. Those last ingredients and the way they are presented should be memorable and satisfy the reader, without being too tart or sweet, adding an even, balanced ending to the book.
What do you think?  Is a novel like fine dining? Are there any courses that I should have added?
Blurb:
Single mom Grace Mason doesn't believe in miracles, magic, or love at first sight. She likes the quiet life, complete with her eight-year-old son, their tiny house, and her teaching job. For Grace, happiness means that nothing much ever changes in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Then, one thousand miles away, tragedy strikes. A massive heart attack leaves Grace's estranged father comatose in an Upstate New York hospital. While a team of doctors fight to keep Henry Mason alive, Grace and Evan rush to his bedside to say their final goodbyes.

Henry's passing brings little closure for Grace, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her new surroundings. What begins as a short trip results in an entire summer spent with Henry's second wife, Kathleen, and her next-door neighbor, Ryan Gordon, the town doctor. When a series of unlikely events lead to Evan's disappearance, Grace must face her worst fears to find her son and bring him back home.

Stardust Summer explores the complexities of forgiveness, what it means to be a family, and the fabulous possibility of falling in love--again.
Purchase links: Amazon and B&N
Where to find Lauren: Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * YouTube * Goodreads
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27 comments:

  1. Love the fine dining analogy! Congrats to Lauren.

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    1. Thank you so much, Suzanne! I had a lot of fun writing it :)

      xx, Lauren

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    1. Colette ~ Thank you for putting me in touch with Christine! What a great blog! xx, Lauren

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  3. Happy International Women's Day, Christine!

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  4. Nice analogy! The book sounds great. ☺

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    1. I appreciate your kind words, Dana! It was a fun post to write and I was ready to head off to somewhere fun and fabulous to eat when I finished :) xx, Lauren

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    1. Thank you Cherie! While I was researching all of the "meal courses" I found several suggestions for 21-Course Meals!!! I wouldn't be able to move after visiting a restaurant that offered that :) And the book—in comparison—would have to be War and Peace!! xx, Lauren

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    1. Good Point, Alex! Let's just say that the TIP could be buying that same author's next book! xx, Lauran

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  7. that was a lot of fun to read and so true!

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    1. Prerna ~ So glad that you enjoyed it! I kept thinking about all of the wonderful meals I've had in NOLA (New Orleans)

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    1. Thank you so much Sherry! It was a fun idea to write about ... who doesn't like food ad books, right? xx, Lauren

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  9. You're killing me here, with all this lovely dining! Now I'm off to find lunch :)

    Congrats on your new release, sounds great!

    Hi Christine! *waves*

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    1. Hey Gwen! I know, right? All I kept thinking about was Filet Mignon and roasted potatoes with some Death by Chocolate Cake!! xx, Lauren

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  10. Thanks to everyone for stopping by today. It's such a fun guest post. And yes, it made me hungry too! :)

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    1. A special thank you to you Christine, for having me on your blog today! The post was such fun to write and it was a great way to think about structuring a book! Cheers! Lauren

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  11. The analogy was wonderful.

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    1. Thank you Jai! All I could think about was a few of my favorite restaurants and how they lure and keep happy customers!!

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  12. Your book sounds great. And now I'm hungry.

    Hi, Christine!

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    1. Carol~ Thank you for the lovely comments!

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  13. What a terrific analogy. Yeah, I'd agree that reading some reeeeallly good books is like enjoying a gourmet meal. But there are other books, too, that are like potato chips. You know, a guilty pleasure that may not be especially intellectually stimulating, but they sure are fun!

    Lauren, your book sound like one of those "good meal" kinda books. I'll look forward to reading it.

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    1. Thank you Susan! I love the potato chip analogy! For me personally, I have to have the Sour Cream and Onion!!!! With an ice cold diet coke ..... satisfying and delicious :)

      Glad you enjoyed!!!! xx, Lauren

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  14. Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly
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    1. Thank you for your kind comments! So glad that the guest post was useful!
      Have a great week!!!!

      xx, Lauren

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