Girls in the Woods, A Nurse on the Run, and Tea Time with Lady Lovers

Serving book news and booktails inspired by Mary Lou Butler's play-in-poems PADDOCK, plus novels JANE OF BATTERY PARK by Jaye Viner, NEVER SAW ME COMING by Vera Kurian, and Yvonne Zipter's INFRACTION

Welcome back to The Cauldron! (Glug glug)

Hello, foxes and fauns, folks and friends! I’ve got SO much to catch you up on.

To-date, I have created twenty-eight booktails (and counting). If you’d like a peek behind the scenes to see how the cocktails get made, check out my essay on LARB’s blog featuring five of my favorites! (It was really hard to choose just five, but word count… Well, it counts.)

Here’s another sneaky peeky for you: Behold! The cocktail compendium that started it all. All pre-orders of my novel, THE GOLD PERSIMMON, will be accompanied by recipes for six cocktail/mocktail pairings embodying the book’s themes, moods, and flavors, including the signature drink, The Gold Persimmon.


To learn more about me, my writing, and THE GOLD PERSIMMON, watch my interview on “All Things GLBT”…

…and this fun panel discussion of women in horror!

Read this Q&A with Gingerbread House Magazine, where I discuss the myth of Persephone: “My debut novel is full of secrets and stories within stories. Instead of an underworld, I created strangely beautiful and unsettling hotels where people go to mourn their private pain, where guests arrive but an inexplicable disaster beyond the scope of their understanding occurs and they cannot leave…” 

Leave a comment

You’re Invited! Upcoming Events

Thursday, October 5, 2021.  6:00 – 9:00pm PST. 

More details coming soon.


Thursday, October 12, 2021.  7:00pm CST. 

More details coming soon.


More events will be added to the calendar soon!

Leave a comment

How can you support THE GOLD PERSIMMON?

  1. Want to review my book? I’ve got an ARC with your name on it. Yes that’s right, I can send you an Advanced Reader Copy of THE GOLD PERSIMMON. Don’t you feel fancy?

  2. Once you get your copy, leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Book sales are all about word of mouth!

And now, without further ado…

The moment you’ve all been waiting for…


PADDOCK by Mary Lou Butler

I enjoyed the surrealism and dark, dream-like quality of the writing in this play-in-poems, along with the allusions to fairy tales and classical Greek theater.

For this recipe, I chose vodka for its strength, malleability, and invisibility as a flavor. The author had mentioned she was partial to prickly pear and I thought that would bring in some gorgeous color to match the book’s cover. The plant’s prickles appealed as well. Chartreuse is floral in a complementary way, with an eerie green tone. Lemon I included for the sharp pain and bitterness of life. Lastly, Virtue bitters bring out the other florals and, to me, references women’s true virtues: strength and perseverance.

As for the presentation, this work is so rife with references to plants, the forest, the sea, and other natural imagery, I crafted an enchanted forest vibe, with the cocktail at the center like a poisonous jewel or berry. I built the woodland tableau atop green sugar, outfitted with sticks, leaves, and flowers from my yard, along with a few crystals.


1.5 oz vodka
0.5 oz prickly pear syrup
0.5 oz green Chartreuse
0.5 oz lemon juice
Strongwater brand Virtue bitters

Combine all ingredients, including a few dashes of the bitters, in a shaker with ice. Agitate vigorously until the ice breaks up and the shaker turns frosty. Strain into a martini glass, or other stemmed vessel of your choosing. 

Leave a comment


Jane is a nurse in LA with a dark secret: she grew up in a well-known cult that kidnaps celebrities and televises their trials for their sins, while viewers at home send in their votes of “innocent” or “guilty.” Cut off from her family, Jane spends her days dreaming of a boy she met by chance in Battery Park almost a decade ago, a boy who is now a man with an entitled movie star brother. Jane’s family nearly killed Daniel over their meet-cute in the park, yet he has no idea why he was really attacked. When Daniel’s mother winds up on Jane’s floor at the hospital, the lovers get a second chance to connect… If both their families don’t get in the way.

There's a simplicity to this drink, which comes in cocktail and mocktail form. I could see Jane in her messy apartment, hastily pouring the ingredients together, though she probably wouldn't have ginger in the house. Yet it would also be appropriate to enjoy on a vacation, complete with pineapple, like the ending Jane longs for.

In presenting this booktail, I used a combo of worn wood, “sand,” (brown sugar) and hand-made flowers to create a beach-y picnic vibe. The diamond-shaped glass, which leans precariously, looks like it was just carelessly set down by someone enjoying a nice day.


3 oz pineapple juice
1.5 oz gin
0.5 oz lime juice 
1 Tbsp honey dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water
Pea sized amount of ginger  
Orange bitters 
About 1.5 oz tonic water 

Shake the juices, honey, gin, ginger, and bitters on ice til the shaker turns frosty. Strain through a mesh strainer to catch any ginger hairs, then pour into a cocktail glass. Top with tonic water.


4 oz pineapple juice 
1 oz lime
1 Tbsp honey dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water 
Pea sized amount of ginger  
Orange bitters 
About 1.5 oz tonic water 

Follow cocktail instructions. 

Leave a comment


Chloe arrives at college with a vendetta. She also just happens to be participating in a study of psychopathology, along with six other students, all of whom get a free ride for their contribution. But then people in the program, whose identities are supposed to be secret, start getting murdered.

I love strong female protagonists with psychopathology. It says so much about gender when you watch a character consciously perform femininity to get what she wants, without ever feeling pressured to convince herself that performance is real.

The frequent mention of Starbucks drinks and a to-do over a Wendy’s frosty inspired  me to design something sweet and dessert-like for this book, something college kids and mature drinkers alike would enjoy. I also wanted it to have a kick to it, with a pink, youthful color that says sweetness and conversely, danger, violence, and sex appeal.

In the presentation, I was going for something that looks like a soda fountain treat designed by Stanley Kubrick. Hence the juxtaposition of a cutesy straw and a trickle of blood running down the glass, (more red food coloring) highlighting the texture of the vessel itself, with more droplets at the mirrored base. Mirrors, of course, reflect fractured selves, hidden plots, and distortions of the truth.


2 oz Bailey’s Red Velvet
1.5 oz gin 
1 oz amaretto 
About 1.5 oz seltzer to top
A few dashes of coffee bitters
Whipped cream (optional)

Fill a tall glass halfway with crushed ice. Pour in the gin, Bailey’s, amaretto, and bitters and stir with a long-handled spoon. Then slowly add the seltzer while continuing to stir until smooth.  Top with whipped cream if desired. 

Leave a comment

INFRACTION by Yvonne Zipter

Marya Zhukova is an intelligent woman who knows her own mind, and that mind is set on two things: advancement and liberation for women in Russia, and her girlfriend. But Marya lives in nineteenth century St. Petersburg, a world fraught with gender and class conflicts, with strict expectations of women of means. Can her relationship with Vera survive, especially once Marya takes on a husband whose intellectual curiosity matches her own?

To complement the rye base, I chose Lapsang Souchong for its delightful smokey flavor, but also because it was the most popular tea used in the traditional Russian Caravan blend, so named for the caravans in which it traveled from China to Russia. I added Drambuie for its honey tones, a reference to the honey served at Christmas as a symbol of happiness and peace. Lavender syrup adds some beautiful floral notes and is also a nod to the soap Marya smells on Vera’s skin the first time they touch.

In presenting this booktail, I used a classic Russian tea glass surrounded by sumptuous black velvet, lavender, and dried peony petals. The glass is garnished with a large Vosges chocolate decorated with edible gold leaf and filled with hazelnut, Reishi mushroom, (for all the mushrooms consumed in this book!) dulce de leche, and dark chocolate. The combined effect is the perfect tea for a society lady, or for lady lovers.


2 oz rye
1 oz Lapsang Souchong tea
0.5 oz Drambuie 
0.5 oz lavender syrup (see recipe)

First, prepare the syrup. Once cool, add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled, then strain into a chilled glass. 


1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup dried organic lavender

Stir all ingredients together in a small pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes uncovered. Set aside to cool, then strain into a clean glass or jar. Keep refrigerated. 

Leave a comment


Share The Cauldron