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THE PROMISE KITCHEN is my debut novel.  

My second book, THE WELCOME HOME DINER, will be published by Lake Union Publishing in 2017. I am currently working on a book set in Key West, Florida.

San Francisco Review: (5 Stars) “First time author and food blogger, Peggy Lampman, knows the exact ingredients needed to create an appealing story…an eye-opening and thought provoking must read.”

Blue Ink Review: “Peggy Lampman is an engaging writer, capturing the heart of Southern living with wit, charm and vivid detail as she alternates chapters between Shelby, Mallory and Miss Ann…For readers who enjoy a Southern flavor to their stories, spending time in the company of these fine folks through the pages of Simmer and Smoke will go down as easily as a slice of watermelon on a hot summer’s day.” 

Indie Reader (4.5 out of 5 stars): “… a story full of the evocative, powerful influence of food, cooking, love, friendship and family on the human heart…a book full of flavor and substance worth savoring.” 

Kirkus Review: “A sweetly told saga, bubbling with appealing characters and food related talk… A poor country girl and a fashionable city woman learn about life in a tasty novel that blends romance and recipes.”

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Winner, Best New Fiction, 2016: National Indie Excellence Awards

Winner, Silver Medal, 2016: IBPA Ben Franklin; Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book

Winner, First Place Fiction, 2015: Royal Dragonfly Awards 

“…All my life I’ve yearned from something more, something I struggle to define. An image lies in wait, appears in a flash, then gone. It’s in the brushed edge of a dream that leaves behind no memory, only a warming prickle of joy. It’s in the smell of fresh-turned soil after a frost, ancient and newborn. It’s in the taste of honeysuckle nectar—what the wood nymphs drink, I tell my child—that we dot onto our tongues every spring.”

Ten percent of net profits from the sale of this contemporary American novel are donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

From the Author: The Promise Kitchen reflects my fascination with mother-daughter relationships, cooking, and the American South–all of her splendors and incongruities. At 380 pages, the book includes an addendum of recipes reflecting the content of the book.

My hope is that people who enjoyed books such as Fried Green TomatoesThe Secret Life of Bees, and Like Water for Chocolate might savor a story such as this.

Writers have different approaches to stimulate the process; my camera is a constant companion and images that I’ve recorded through the years are of tremendous assistance in fueling my words, as pictured in the slideshow “trailer” below.

SIMMER AND SMOKE: A CULINARY TALE

I took this photo in the graveyard where my Scottish ancestors are buried in Stewartville, Alabama. The setting inspired my first chapter where you're introduced to Shelby, who is at a funeral in her hometown of Coryville, Georgia, wondering if she'll ever find a way to crawl out of her hell-hole called life.

SIMMER AND SMOKE; A CULINARY TALE

I posed my daughter, Greta, outside a country church in Stewartville. I wanted to fix an image of Shelby and Coryville in my mind as I wrote her story. Shelby idolizes Mallory Lakes, a food writer in Atlanta, and Mallory fuels Shelby's desire to become a chef.

SIMMER AND SMOKE: A CULINARY TALE

This was a diner, now boarded up, in downtown Coryville that served Meat-and-Threes; the typical sort of one-item menu you'd find in small Southern towns. Not the sort of establishment that ambitious, talented Shelby has in mind for her future employment.

SIMMER AND SMOKE: A CULINARY TALE

A jackalope is mounted to the wall over the card table where Shelby's family share meals. The vicious and tormenting jackalope is personified in Shelby's world and represents everything she despises about her life in Coryville.

SIMMER AND SMOKE; A CULINARY TALE

Watching this little doll baby grow into a girl inspired, in part, Miss Ann, Shelby's daughter. Shelby makes the gut-wrenching decision to leave her daughter with her mother when she applies and is hired at an upscale Atlanta grocery store, which includes a benefit package that reimburses for chef school.

SIMMER AND SMOKE: A CULINARY TALE

Shelby's mysterious next door neighbor lives in this home in Coryville. After Shelby gets the job in Atlanta, the neighbor gives Miss Ann a gift, which the child feels is imperative to keep a secret.

SIMMER AND SMOKE; A CULINARY TALE

These are the neighbor's dogs. (When I came upon these two dogs bouncing on a trampoline in a crime-riddled neighborhood, the image lodged into my subconscious and had to become a part of this story.)

SIMMER AND SMOKE: A CULINARY TALE

Pictured is a dirt road in Sylacauga, Alabama, close to where my father was born.The road is a metaphor for me: Shelby's journey from Coryville, Geogia to becoming a chef in Atlanta.

SIMMER AND SMOKE; A CULINARY TALE

Meanwhile, upstate in Atlanta, with a successful food writing career, this is how I envision Mallory, directing her angst into her recipes and food blogs. Mallory seems to have it all.

SIMMER AND SMOKE: A CULINARY TALE

Not quite. What she wants most is Cooper, her lover who recently bolted, especially since she feels her biological time clock's dinger has dung.

SIMMER AND SMOKE; A CULINARY TALE

Mallory redirects her energies into the Farm-to-table movement, even documenting her purchase of a piglet scheduled for slaughter in the Fall. A hot topic in in the ag-dependent state of Georgia, her involvement leads to on-line fame. But not back to Cooper.

SIMMER AND SMOKE: A CULINARY TALE

Meanwhile, Shelby's world changes from black-and-white to color after she becomes friends with Tracy, the deli manager where she works. Tracy and Clare are partners, and Clare is the owner of Squash Blossom Farms, which is an organic farm catering to upscale restaurants and markets in Atlanta.

SIMMER AND SMOKE; A CULINARY TALE

When Shelby's invited to a woman's potluck at Squash Blossom, a new world of support and friendship opens up to her. This is the dish Shelby brings to the pot luck that was inspired by one of Mallory's blogs; fiddling with her arrangement helps calm her ragged nerves at the gathering.

SIMMER AND SMOKE: A CULINARY TALE

The squash blossom symbolizes, for me, Shelby's metamorphosis.

SIMMER AND SMOKE: A CULINARY TALE

Shelby's and Mallory's worlds collide, then catch fire, when they crash head-on into very bad things lurking around the bend.That's it! No spoilers! Contact me @peggylampman@me.com if you'd like to be contacted when the book is published.

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