The Pie!

pie
If we were having coffee today, I’d offer you this piece I wrote on The Pie.
In the early 1990s, I was a moderator on what was called a USENET newsgroup; the newsgroup existed specifically for users to share recipes.  Before the web, USENET was basically THE internet. It actually worked a lot like facebook does today, with forums, posts, immediate access, and worldwide access.  But it was all text.  It was pretty much self-regulated too, by a cadre of computer professionals who helped form the early beginnings of the internet. It was a fascinating time to be internet savvy.
Anyway, a guy who was starting up a new recipe web page contacted the moderators and asked us to send him some recipes so he could flesh out the beginnings of his website, recipezaar.com.  He wisely did not want to just steal recipes, he was looking to create a recipe sharing site where people could freely exchange.
Sometime before that my wife Gretchen had seen an intriguing “Amish” Buttermilk Pie on a recipe segment of a local TV station.  All she managed to do was copy down the list of ingredients.  I used similar custard pie recipes to figure out the procedures and baking specifics.  We loved it.  But shortly after that, we lost the list of ingredients before we had recorded them elsewhere.  They were scribbled on the back of some envelope.
At one point I put out a request for buttermilk pie recipes on the newsgroup.
I bet I gained ten pounds testing the various recipes that were shared but not one was as good as that original.  Just when everything seemed hopeless I opened a cookbook and … there was the envelope!!!!!!
I did two things … made a pie to verify that yes, this WAS better than all the others, and then I wrote it down in several places.  By some serendipitous accident, this was the precise time this gentleman was requesting recipes so I submitted it, as sort of a fail-safe. I forgot about this for about four years until a friend of mine noticed it on recipezaar and asked me about it.  He said it had a bunch of positive reviews.  I hadn’t even registered as a user yet … but I got signed up and got the recipe attached to my profile. Fame at last.
This has continued to this day, but recipezaar was sold at some point, at least twice and possibly three times.  The original recipe has survived intact, along with all the reviews.  It is now the foundation of food.com.
All through its life, it has generally turned up first in searches for “Buttermilk” or “Buttermilk Pie” … and there is a reason for this.  Food.com no longer prints recipe numbers but the previous websites did … this recipe is #56, which I am sure is used as a unique database identifier (I am an IT guy). A search with no other criteria will turn them out in numeric order.  This is still the case.  If you look at the link I provide below, you’ll still see “56” … this is 56 out of over five hundred thousand recipes.
Now … a couple of years ago I concocted a free promotional cookbook … a companion book to my novels and I decided to include the buttermilk pie recipe (with minor modifications).
In the past month, I have heavily promoted the cookbook, most of that on Twitter.  So a few days ago when I received a message on Twitter about the pie I assumed it was from one of my thousands of new readers (seriously, this promotion month has been pretty good).
I probably confused her with portions of my response because I referred to other recipes and asked for a review.  After a few messages back and forth she informed me she got it from food.com!  With my big promotion, I didn’t even think about that location!
I call the recipe in the cookbook “The Best-Danged Buttermilk Pie” and it is listed as a customer favorite in the fictional cafe.  I even mention that fact in the latest novel, LUCKY STRIKE.
I’ll tell you this … get it from the website or get it from the cookbook, I don’t care.  Just GET IT.  This pie is that awesome.

The cookbook link is https://www.amazon.com/Mossback-Cafe-Cookbook-Thomas-Fenske-ebook/dp/B071XRC8MP

An alternate for the cookbook, with links to Nook and iBook and Kobo: http://thefensk.com/cook.html
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Thomas Fenske is an author living in NC.

Are You Feeling Lucky?

what's so lucky about lucky strike_What’s so lucky about Lucky Strike?  Considering the theme of vengeance and the ensuing deep-seated criminal conspiracy, not so much.  In fact, we see several crimes in the pages, including threats, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, torture, and murder. What’s it all about?  Well, that is the big question, isn’t it?

The story doesn’t depend entirely on information from the previous two books in the Traces of Treasure series, but having that firm background certainly doesn’t hurt.  Of course, Sam Milton returns along with his paramour Smidgeon Toll.  Lance Norton, one of the main characters in the second book, is part of the story as well. The story also introduces an old lawman, a private investigator named Mule Hollis, who is following a parallel trail that leads directly to our heroes.

Still, I think a fledgling reader can enjoy the book as a stand-alone but here is a brief primer. The first book involves Sam Milton’s long obsession with a lost Gold Mine. As he becomes increasingly desperate, he gets careless and the book follows his struggles with the situations he finds himself in. The second book follows up with a seeming curse that throws a cloud over all the characters and introduces several ghostly associates who have a deep interest in what transpires, as one person after another falls victim to a hidden killer.

So much happened in the second book, it had to have made the news.  The bad thing about news coverage is that it sometimes attracts unwanted attention.  That’s what happens in Lucky Strike and the repercussions are profound.

An innocent search for some answers to what at first seems to be a small mystery results in a series of desperate acts and the villainous activities eventually involve everyone as they all scramble to make some sense of the situation.

Wait. What about the ghosts?  They’re back as well, but they are also confused by the dire situation.

Various twists and turns lead Smidgeon on a long quest from Texas to North Carolina,  collecting a confusing array of clues she must somehow piece together.

All the while a mysterious stranger creates havoc as he follows his own trail of vengeance, crime, and destruction.

Add it all up and … well, it doesn’t sound too lucky, does it?
Do you think you can figure it out?
Feeling lucky?

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Find out for yourself … experience the Traces of Treasure

Book 3: Lucky Strike
Book 2: A Curse That Bites Deep
Book 1: The Fever

All three are available in both eBook and Paperback and they are also available on KindleUnlimited.

The Story So Far …

Thomas Fenske (1)As we progress into fall I always fall back to the basic plot of my debut novel, The Fever.  It starts at just about this time of year.  Sam Milton, the main character, is hiking out of the desert on a cool October night, lamenting his failure to find his elusive goal.

As we find out, his search in the far reaches of western Texas is complicated by fears of the unpredictable weather so he limits himself to a few months in the Spring and a few months in the Fall.  He’s ready to hang it up for the year, and as his frustrations mount, perhaps forever.

Then, by chance, a friend’s casual observation puts everything right back on the front burner.  That’s what the story is really about, pitting his obsession against his worries about changes in the weather.  And the story does not disappoint.  One reader told me she had to get up and put on a sweater during a described winter storm Sam endures during his quest.

The stories are set in the 1980s, so there is no instant access to weather reports, and no way to call in air support if things get dicey, and he’s traveling through a sparsely-populated area, so even the car radio is unreliable.

So, that’s why I think this is a great time of year for you to walk a few miles in Sam’s dusty boots. Take a chance, maybe you can solve the cryptic riddle along with Sam. But I have to warn you, like Sam, you will no doubt catch THE FEVER.

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If you want to explore Thomas Fenske’s world, peek into the Traces of Treasure Series … Book 1 is The Fever, Book 2 is A Curse That Bites Deep, and Book 3 is Lucky Strike.  If you’re hungry, the companion cookbook might strike your fancy as well.

On the Cusp

LuckyStrike-WEBHere we are … it is time for the official release of my latest novel, Lucky Strike.  It’s the third book in my Traces of Treasure Series.

Although I strive to make each book a stand-alone story, since the events are sequential, certain nuances are enhanced if you have read the preceding books. With that in mind, here is a primer on the series, with a few minor spoilers.

IMG_4814Book 1, THE FEVER, introduces Sam Milton, a loner and a bit of a loser — but there is a reason for this. Ten years before the novel opens (set in 1980) he helped Slim, a dying drunken derelict in jail. Before he slips away, Slim rewards Sam’s kindness with a family secret: an old riddle that is supposed to reveal the location of a legendary Texas lost gold mine. “I know it don’t make no sense,” Slim tells him, “but it ain’t supposed to until you get there. You just have to keep searching until it does make sense.”

This is easier said than done. Sam’s spent ten years planning and searching, and he has become alienated from his family, lost friends, sacrificed love, and spent a lot of money.  In the first chapter we are introduced to Sam as he hikes out of the desert after yet another frustrating search. He’s beginning to question his quest, but the embers of THE FEVER burn steady, despite the dangers involved.  Spurred into a new search by an encouraging hint, he heads out into the darkness again on his most perilous trip yet.

Judgement dayIn A CURSE THAT BITES DEEP Sam continues his obsession but with changes. He’s found love and moved close to the primary location of his quest. Finding work at his girlfriend Smidgeon Toll’s restaurant, The Mossback Cafe, things seem to have reached a happy medium for him. After a series of inexplicable deaths and a mysterious fire at the restaurant, Sam knows he must find a killer so that he can protect Smidgeon.

LuckyStrike-WEBIn LUCKY STRIKE, several puzzling finds perplex our heroes as they attempt to re-open The Mossback.  A mysterious stranger also appears, asking curious questions and putting Sam in a perilous situation. Sam is in danger after finding two cryptic notes, and his girlfriend Smidgeon takes off cross-country to find him, following a sprinkling of hints.

It’s a wild ride with several unexpected twists you won’t want to miss as they try to unravel a wide array of clues and outwit a relentless villian.

Links to all the books in the series are on this page: Traces of Treasure

Don’t forget to check out the free companion cookbook as well … The Mossback Cafe Cookbook … wonderful recipes from the best little fictional cafe in Texas.