What’s Cooking with JM Bray?

Today, my buddy and CP JM Bray is here to tell us about cooking and how it relates to his awesome Shroud book series. Thanks for sharing with us, Mark! 🙂
PS – Read all the way to the bottom for our giveaway! Oooh prizes!
Here he is:
Thank you, Amy for having me by for the first stop on the Mending the Shroud Blog Tour! In case you don’t know, Amy is not only a talented writer, but a trusted critique partner of mine. Her talents helped make my novels shine. 

I love to cook. My relationship with the process started at my grandmother’s side about four years of age. She’d show me how to crack the eggs just so, let me cut biscuits from the sheet of rolled dough and, as I got older, even stir the white sausage gravy…a sacred and vital item to any of her breakfasts. About age nine I discovered The Galloping Gourmet and watched it religiously, by age 11 I’d cooked my first dinner completely on my own.

Today, I’m the primary cook in our home and constantly seek to expand

my reach and depth. Lately I’ve delved into Vietnamese spring rolls. They take a little prep, but are simple to make, very healthy, and delicious!

It is no surprise then that Vincent, the the main character in Mending the Shroud, also cooks. He’s a bit of an introvert and finds serenity in the familiar movements and balancing of tastes. Without giving too much away, you’ll see him cook up a pot of potato soup and yes, the recipe…with a couple of tweaks…is my grandmother’s. I’ve shared the recipe before, so I won’t now. instead Let’s try something spicy! Fresh salsa.

3 large tomatos chopped
1/3  – 1/2 onion (depending on how much you like)
1/3 cup of diced cilantro
1 – 2 cloves of diced garlic
1 jalapeno, fire roasted and mashed.
1/2 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp powdered coriander
couple drops of worcestershire sauce
pinch of sugar
juice of 1/2 – 1 lime.

Chop tomato and onion and toss in a bowl.

Using a vegi BBQ grate, or tongs, roast the jalapeno about 6in above a stove burner until blackened on all sides. Don’t be alarmed, it smells a lot like marijuana…don’t ask me how I know this. 

Chop, then in a mortar and pestle, sprinkle with salt and mash. If you don’t have one use a cutting board and the side of a butcher knife or flat side of a meat tenderizing mallet. This is important as it releases all the flavors in the plant cells. Mincing works…but not as well. 

Mix the jalapeno and the remaining ingredients the bowl with the tomato  and onion, being sure to stir it over well to get the flavors joined. The longer it sets, the better the flavor. It keeps a few days in the fridge or so I’m told…we eat it too fast to know for sure. Its a good idea to have an extra tomato and jalapeno in case you need to adjust the spicy heat one way or another.

For me, the art of cooking isn’t far from writing. Bringing different items together, mixing them just right, adding spice…but not too much…it’s a wonderful dance of creativity. What, in you life hearkens to writing? Do you find other creative outlets? Leave a comment and let us know be sure to click the other entry items too. Who knows, you might!

The second in the fresh, exciting romantic fantasy Shroud trilogy takes up where Tearing the Shroud leaves off – with the lives, the loves, and the mythical world beyond our own. 

After accepting bodily possession and saving the world, Vincent thought his life would get easier. He thought wrong.

The Shroud may not have torn wide open, but it did tear a little, and the retribution for the failure is coming hard, fast, and directly at Vincent and the people he loves.

His only hope is to once again accept possession from Coleman and do battle with the deformed, terrifying Kafla. But this time, he’s not alone. Jule, the woman he loves and hopes to marry, is possessed as well, and together the four of them become a formidable team.

Together they hope to stave off the invasion and take the fight to the Realm, but only a supreme sacrifice can mend the Shroud and save both their lives and their worlds.

Mending the Shroud Links

Goodreads – Amazon – AmazonAU – iBooks – B&N (coming soon!)

About the Author

J.M. Bray lives in Southern California with his college sweetheart and their two dogs. After a lifetime together, they are happier than the moment they met. When not writing or working his “day job”, he loves to cook, play the guitar, and travel with his wife. Every chance he gets, he races an old Porsche named “Tuffy” at tracks in the southwest.

Connect with JM
Twitter: @jmbraybooks
Email: jmbray@jmbray.com
Website: www.jmbray.com
Blog: http://blog.jmbray.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JMBray.books
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jmbraybooks/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Writing Process Tag Tour

Thanks to one of my first CPs and a very good friend, JM Bray for tagging me in this tour. 🙂 Check out his blog here. I’m tagging my Off Beats friends: Abby Cavenaugh, Kelley Harvey and Lana Grayson.

So, let’s get this!

1) What am I working on?

Since 2010, I’ve been working on and off (mostly on) on my adult thriller called A SCARRED MIND. I’ve completely rewritten the story three times. Hopefully, the third time is the charm! I’m about three-fourths through with edits on what I hope is the final rewrite. I can safely say I’m more confident in the story than I’ve ever been and I can’t wait to find an agent, get published and have all you fine people read it! 🙂

It’s basically about a reluctant psychic who foresees murder and tries to stop it, inadvertently making himself the prime suspect in the investigation. Good stuff ensues.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think what sets ASM apart is that it’s a thriller about a “regular guy” who happens to have an extraordinary gift. He’s not a cop or an FBI agent or in any way involved in police investigations. He stumbles into this situation and it majorly screws up his life.

3) Why do I write what I do?

It’s as simple as writing the book I want to read. I couldn’t find anything like it out there so I decided to write it. 🙂

4) How does my writing process work?

I’ve found that I usually can’t write much during the daylight hours. I’m a night owl for sure. Usually, when I write, I am up until 1 or 2 a.m., writing in the dark with my laptop providing the only light. I also tend to get inspired by taking a shower. I guess water opens my mind. haha! When I do write during the day, it’s rare and I’m usually at the dining room table with a glass of water or cup of coffee. I almost always have music going.

DIVINITY Cover Reveal!

The cover for Michelle L. Johnson’s DIVINITY is finally here! The cover was designed by Regina Wamba at Mae I Designs. It is beautiful, badass, and perfect. 🙂 If you don’t know Michelle, you should get to know her because she’s a fabulous, funny person, incredible writer and fantastic literary agent (founder of Inklings Literary Agency, in case you didn’t know). Check out her website:  http://www.michelleljohnson.us and follow her on Twitter.

Here is what DIVINITY is about:

“When Julia climbs into a flaming car to save a trapped child, she’s left wondering why either of them survived. Then she learns that her father is the Archangel Gabriel, and that she is half human, half Archangel.

With guidance from Michael, the most powerful Archangel, Julia sets out to discover her own history and explore her angelic powers. But her journey is cut short when an evil force, invisible to human and angel alike, tears her world apart.

Now Julia must fight through her despair, harness her newfound gifts, and risk her very soul to stop the A’nwel and protect the family she never knew she had.

What she doesn’t know is that Archangels have secrets too.”

Oooh…intriguing right? I recently was lucky enough to read a copy already and it’s an amazing book. If you love Supernatural or anything angel-related, you will love this book! It’s out September 23 so be sure to pick up your own copy! 🙂 We don’t have buy links yet but I’ll be sure to share as soon as they’re available. And finally, *drumroll* here’s the beautiful cover:

Divinity cover

SQUEE!!! I’m in love with it. Congrats, Michelle! 🙂


#BostonMarathon One Year Later

Unless you don’t have a soul, you were no doubt touched by the events of one year ago today in Boston at the Boston Marathon finish line. I’ve been thinking about it all day, as many have. You see, I was watching the marathon online and on TV last year. My reason was because one of my favorite people, Joey McIntyre was running his first marathon that day in his hometown. It meant so much to so many people, including me.

Yes, I was watching because I’m a Joe girl, but it turned into so much more than that, way before the first bomb went off. I was tracking Joe’s progress online and watched the elite runners finish on TV. I can’t remember where I watched, maybe ESPN. But anyway, I was already a runner. Small time (2 miles) at the time, but still a runner. I got so excited watching the runners, especially when they crossed the finish line. It’s an emotional moment for any runner, especially the Boston natives. I remember one in particular: Shalane Flanagan. She finished 4th in her first Boston Marathon. Since then, I’ve become a Shalane fangirl. The sportscasters talked about how she was from Marblehead, 15 miles from Boston, and how much it would mean to her to win Boston. I started yelling at my TV “Go girl!!” She did awesomely but couldn’t catch the winner, Rita Jeptoo. Still, something about Shalane struck me. Maybe it was her tears soon after she crossed the finish line, that she was a Massachusetts girl. But I decided in that moment that one day, I would run the Boston Marathon. Granted, I hadn’t even run a 5k at the time. But that was it for me. I’m going to run the Boston Marathon someday. 


I know I’ll never run it at an elite level like Shalane, but I will run it. Joe, by the way, finished in 3:57:06. His goal was to finish in under 4 hours. I don’t know if I’ve ever been as proud of him and to be a Joe girl as I was that day. I remember weeping because I was so proud and happy for him. 


(Kudos to whoever took this picture. It was unfortunately not me) 

And then, maybe ten minutes after Joe finished, I started seeing tweets about an explosion at the finish line. I saw the first pictures. I’ll never forget the man’s face that I saw in that first picture. The shock on his face, blood spatters all around him. It was unreal. I thought/hoped/prayed it was someone’s idea of a very sick joke. But I kept seeing the pictures. Body parts strewn about and blood spatters. I knew immediately it was a bomb. I tried to tell myself it was a manhole or electrical explosion, but I knew. I started freaking out: Where’s Joe? Was he out of the area? Thank goodness he tweeted that he was okay moments later. But there were so many who weren’t okay. I’ve never gone from that ridiculously excited and happy to sickened, sad and mad as hell that fast. I wanted to do something to help, to heal this city I’ve never been to but love as much as a second home. I wanted to run the Boston Marathon more than ever. 

In the days afterward, I would start my own little charity group, Blockheads Against Alzheimer’s, for #TheLongestDay to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. No, it wasn’t directly for Boston but I felt like I was doing something to help other people. I’ll be doing it again this year. I’ll be running as many miles as I possibly can on #TheLongestDay, June 21. Here’s where you can join my team or donate. That would be swell. 🙂 I’m not writing this to drum up donations, though. I just want to speak of my own journey in running. After the marathon, I started training harder. I slowed down in the summer when it was so hot but I eventually got up to running 4 miles without stopping. This was a huge deal for me. I love running so much. It’s great exercise, a wonderful stress reliever and somehow makes me feel more me. 


On December 14, 2013, almost eight months to the day after the Boston Marathon (and I just now realized this), I ran my first official 5k. My time was 32:59, I think. I finished fifth overall and the third woman. It was a small field (I’d guess 50 or so at most) but still. I just knew after that, “Yup. I’m doing Boston.” I dream big, what can I say?


That’s me, near the finish. 🙂 Repping Boston with the hat, of course. Unfortunately, on January 9, on a run, I sprained my ankle. That set me back, almost to the beginning. I almost gave up. But I think it was a test for me. (a) How badly do I want this? (b) Am I really going to let an injury stop me from being a runner? Answers: (a) Really freaking bad. (b) Hell no. 

Today, a year after the 2013 Boston Marathon, I’m a little damaged but a lot stronger. A couple of days ago, I ran 2 miles again for the first time since the injury. It felt damn good. Today, when it stops raining (and it better stop soon!) I’m going to run again. For Boston, for me, for those who can’t. It may only be another 2 miles but I’m a runner. And I will run. 😀 

The 13 Best Memories About 2013

I debated whether or not to write a year-end blog but I finally figured what the heck? Might as well! 😉 My sister is so I will, too. 2013 was a great year for me. Some bad things happened and much of the year has been a struggle but I’m looking forward not backward. When I do look back on this year, I’ll think of the good not the bad. I’ll learn from my mistakes and use them to make me a better person.

I figured I’d write the 13 best things that happened to me in 2013. So in no particular order…*drumroll*  Continue reading “The 13 Best Memories About 2013”

Tearing the Shroud Release Celebration

I am so excited and proud to be a part of JM Bray’s blog tour for the release of his first novel, TEARING THE SHROUD. I’ve read this book at pretty much every stage of drafting so yeah, I’m pretty lucky. 🙂 Well, I didn’t read the original version from Mark’s college years but I’ve been his CP for over a year now. He’s my first *real* CP since before him, only friends had read my work. I met Mark through GUTGAA. I knew when I saw his bio on the site, we would be friends. He was a little hesitant since we didn’t typically read one another’s genres but I think it’s safe to say we were good for each other. 😀 I figured he would be published first and I was right. Hey, we’re all psychic. (My book is about a psychic but we’re here to celebrate Mark) See the pretty cover?


Here is the skinny on TEARING THE SHROUD and Mark:

Continue reading “Tearing the Shroud Release Celebration”

Happy Halloween! And ghost stories!

Today is one of my favorite holidays, one that is often overlooked in the glare of the coming Christmas season. I read Stacey Nash’s post and although not part of that blog hop, I thought it would be cool to share one of my true ghost stories. ‘Tis the season, after all. 😉

I have several, since the house I grew up in (and where my parents still live) was haunted. I use the past tense because the spirit(s) that was once there has moved on. When I was 5 or 6, I remember waking up one night to hear all of the kitchen cabinets open and close. It was like someone was walking through, searching for something. The sound was unnatural and I was instantly terrified. I knew it wasn’t any of my family because the house was pitch black. That was the day I became afraid of the dark. I still can’t sleep and will panic if a room is pitch black. I sleep with a nightlight on. Not ashamed to admit it.  Continue reading “Happy Halloween! And ghost stories!”

A to Z Book Survey

I totally stole this from Julie Sondra Decker. Check out her answers, too, because she’s super cool. Here are mine:

Author You’ve Read The Most Books From

Dean Koontz. I’d say I’ve read 90 % of his books. He’s my writing mentor and one of the reasons I wanted to become a writer.

Best Sequel Ever

The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien. That’s what popped in my head anyway. 😉

Currently Reading

The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler, The Innocent by Harlan Coben and 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Drink of Choice While Reading

Coffee, Diet Coke or water

E-reader or physical book?

Physical books. E-books are great but after looking at a computer and phone screen most of the day, I prefer the *real* books.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School

Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games – something about him really appeals to me.

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance

The Harry Potter series! When I first heard about them, I thought there was no way I would enjoy it but it ended up my favorite book series ever. The movie version of Prisoner of Azkaban is what made me finally want to read them. By the time The Deathly Hallows was released, I had my own wand. I was in my early thirties. LOL

Hidden Gem Book

New Kids on the Block: Five Brothers and a Million Sisters 
by Nikki Van Noy. It’s the nonfiction story of the best group in the world in my biased opinion. I was almost a part of the book and wish I had written it. I call it a hidden gem because I know only NKOTB fans (Blockheads) are going to read it. I wish that more people would because they would find out how wrong their misconceptions are. And honestly, New Kids have a really great story. They weren’t a manufactured boy band like most people think. Go read it for yourself and see how great they are. 😀

Important Moment in Your Reading Life

When I discovered Harlan Coben. I can’t even remember which book of his I read first. I discovered him in 2012 and realized my writing style is very similar. If his books could be worldwide best sellers and I write the same way, couldn’t mine? I like to think so.

Just Finished

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read

Harlequin-type romances with six-pack abs on the cover. No disrespect to those who write and read those books but I just can’t.

Longest Book You’ve Read

Probably the unabridged version of The Stand by Stephen King. It’s about 1200 pages. (My answer is the same as Julie’s)

Major Book Hangover Because of

Six Years by Harlan Coben I really enjoyed the voice of Jake and didn’t want it to end.

Number of Bookcases You Own

Including my daughter’s three.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times

Twilight Eyes by Dean Koontz

Preferred Place to Read

On the couch with my feet up.

Quote That Inspires You


Reading Regret

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting. I’ve never been so excited by a premise only to be bitterly disappointed and want to choke the MC by page 50. Sorry, I hate to bash any book but UGH.

Series You Started and Need to Finish
 (Completed Series Only)

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I started reading the second book, City of Ashes and was disappointed it didn’t hook me right away like City of Bones did.

Three of Your All Time Favorite Books

Twilight Eyes by Dean Koontz, Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag and Going Home Again by Abby Cavenaugh (OF COURSE!)

Unapologetic Fangirl Filthy Stalker Of

New Kids on the Block 😀 Oh. You meant an author, right? Probably Dean Koontz and Harlan Coben. Harlan Coben favorited one of my tweets recently and I nearly soiled myself.

Very Excited for This Release More Than All the Others

Is it selfish to say my own book? Because other than that, I’m not sure. Dr. Sleep but it’s already out. I’m very excited for the day when I can get my copy. 🙂

Worst Bookish Habit

Reading so many books at the same time so that I don’t finish any of them within a reasonable amount of time.

X Marks the Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book

Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz. Shocker it’s a Koontz book! 😉

Your Latest Book Purchase

I bought School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins for my daughter’s birthday. I kinda wanted to read it myself. Hope she likes it.

ZZZ-Snatcher Book (last one that kept you up way too late)

Six Years by Harlan Coben. It’s obvious I loved that book, huh?

Be cool like Julie and I and go take the A to Z Book Survey! 🙂 Can’t wait to see your answers!