Thursday, January 20, 2011

And the Winner is...

Congratulations to author TAMMY BARLEY, winner of Roger Bruner's Found in Translation! Tammy is author of the Sierra Chronicles trilogy. If you like western romance, check out her novels.

Loves Rescue, released June 2009
Hope's Promise, released Aug. 2010
Faith's Reward, released earlier this month

A new post on someplace far, far away coming soon...with a recipe, of course!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Got Teens?

Meet Author Roger Bruner!
Leave a comment for a chance to win his new release, Found in Translation.

Got teens? (Girls, in particular) Looking for something decent for them to read? Check out Found in Translation, written by my friend Roger Bruner and just released (Jan. 1) by Barbour Publishing. This is Roger’s debut novel for young adults. If all goes well, it will soon be followed by three more. The second in the series, Lost in Dreams, is tentatively slated to be released in July.

In Chapter One of Found in Translation we meet Kim Hartlinger, on her way to a mission trip that will take her on an incredible, unexpected journey of faith. Here’s Roger’s synopsis:

Kim Hartlinger—eighteen and spoiled—arrives on a mission trip to Mexico and discovers, to her chagrin, that she’ll be doing construction in a tiny remote village without plumbing and electricity, rather than evangelism in a medium-sized town with a McDonald’s. . . “Roughing it” isn’t exactly what Kim had in mind when she signed up for this trip. As if that isn’t enough, the group is without a translator, and Kim’s “dual-language” Bible turns out to be Spanish-only. After breaking her arm the first morning on the job, Kim struggles to find a way to help her team and share the truth of God’s Word with the villagers. Will Kim be able to touch the villagers’ hearts with the Gospel? Or will her time in Mexico be up before she gets the chance?

Q. Welcome to Taste the World, Roger! Since travel is a major feature of this blog, tell us why you chose Mexico as Kim’s mission trip destination.

A. Thanks for the invitation, Susan. You must have noticed from the shape of my mid-section that I like to eat. So this is a good place to be. I won’t gain more weight on the recipes. *G*
Placing this story in Mexico was a no-brainer. My daughter, Kristi, went on a mission trip to Mexico (via San Diego, like Kim Hartlinger in the book) when she was eighteen, and several details of the trip inspired this story, even though it’s completely fictitious. She went to a far more civilized area than tiny Santa MarĂ­a, however. I purposely chose a remote area that had been devastated by a tornado so I could create my own setting without having to be totally true to geography or to stereotypes about Mexico. To give you an example, Kim’s team has brought food to feed the surviving villagers; she doesn’t have authentic Mexican food anytime during her stay.

Q. How tough was it to write in first person as a teenage girl? In other words…how did you pull that off?

A. A number of people have commented over the years about my success at capturing a woman’s point of view. My best friends have always been women—my wife is my best friend of all time—and that’s helped me to see things from a woman’s perspective. Better for me to sit around and talk about books, food, and music than cars and sports. Being the father of a teenager for seven years helped me to think a little bit like a teen girl. I’d like to think I’m a good listener, and I believe I’m more sensitive than the average man, and those qualities have helped as well. But when all else fails, I just put on my thinking cap and start pretending. But never losing my masculinity in the process, I hasten to add.

Q. What are some of the lessons Kim learns on her trip? How does it change her?

A. When we first see Kim, she’s the prime example of an irresponsible teenage girl who has her own opinion of how God will use her on the mission trip. She learns that she must obey God’s leading if she expects to accomplish anything. That may mean going as far out of her comfort zone as she can go. She also learns how important forgiveness is. In relating to Rob, the senior project manager, she learns that she can probably build a much better relationship with her father if she’s more patient and understanding. When she heads home, she’s become more responsible and more confident that she’s capable of doing whatever God wants her to do.

Q. What sort of feedback on the book have you received from teens so far?
A. So far, I haven’t received any. I’ve tried to build a small tribe of teen influencers ahead of time, but I haven’t heard back from them yet. From what several other people have said, though, that first page definitely makes them turn to page two.

Q. Will the other books in the series feature the same characters?

A. Many of the same ones. Kim is the protagonist in Lost in Dreams, but her best friend Betsy Jo—who is only mentioned in Found in Translation—will play a major role. Aleesha and Rob both feature prominently in Lost in Dreams, too. We see Kim’s Dad for the first time and get to see Kim building the relationship with him she’d expressed the desire for in the first book.

Q. Can you give us a sneak peak at Book 2, Lost in Dreams?

A. Sure. Oh, you mean you want me to. *laughing* Kim doesn’t even get all the way home from her mission trip before her mother dies in a car crash. Kim feels responsible—I won’t tell you why—and a lot of the book deals with her struggles with guilt. Lost in Dreams also has a mission theme—a trip to California to help build a hostel for low income people visiting friends and family at a remote state prison. There. I don’t think I gave away too many secrets.

Thanks, Roger. It was a pleasure visiting with you!

Thank you, Susan! This was a tasty experience for me.


Since Roger’s book is set in Mexico, today’s recipe is for FLAN, a popular south-of-the-border custard dessert – easy and delicious!

1 cup and 1/2 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 13 oz. cans evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. You will need 6 ramekins or other specialty flan cookware and a large baking pan to put them in.

Pour 1 cup sugar in warm pan over medium heat. Constantly stir sugar until it browns and becomes caramel. Quickly pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of caramel in each ramekin, tilting it to swirl the caramel around the sides. Reheat caramel if it starts to harden.

In a mixer or with a whisk, blend the eggs together. Mix in the milks then slowly mix in the 1/2 cup of sugar, then the vanilla. Blend smooth after each ingredient is added.
Pour custard into caramel-lined ramekins. Place ramekins in a large glass or ceramic baking dish and fill with about 1-2 inches of hot water. Bake for 45 minutes in the water bath and check with a knife just to the side of the center. If knife comes out clean, it's ready.

Remove and let cool. Let each ramekin cool in refrigerator for 1 hour. Invert each ramekin onto a small plate, the caramel sauce will flow over the custard.