Bringing you bits & bites you can sink your teeth into

Book Buzz – DARK SURF news & goings-on

As a loyal DARK SURF Nightly reader, you already know you can find the DARK SURF paperback & e-book at Amazon

But did you know this fun & fast-paced novel is now available at multiple online retailers? 

Yes! You can now find DARK SURF at:

And with summer coming, it’s an ideal time for a good “beach read” or fun book for travel. So … “Do you wanna surf forever?”

Crave – food & drink

It’s hard to leave the coast but I make the sacrifice every once in a while if I have a good reason. Alpine Beer Company in Alpine, Calif. is a good reason. This tiny brewery is in East County San Diego—a straight shot across Interstate 8 East, just over 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

On this trip, I discovered the best brown ale I’ve ever had—Koffee Sutra. This coffee brown ale, which weighs in at 6% ABV, smells and tastes like an iced coffee—with a kick. A seasonal beer, this brown ale is cold-brewed with coffee, which imparts a whole lot of flavor. It’s definitely growler-worthy so, yes, I got a growler to go. I really hope they have this on tap on my next visit; I might get 2 growlers. It’s that good!

Alpine Beer Company

Alpine Beer Company

Tip: Just a few doors down from Alpine Beer Co. is Tapatio’s Mexican Grill and Seafood. Here, I always get the fish burrito ($5.25). Big beer-battered chunks of fish are served in a soft flour tortilla, along with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo and a tangy white sauce. ¡Muy bueno!

Tapatio's Fish Burrito

Tapatio’s Fish Burrito

Book Buzz – DARK SURF news & goings-on

DARK SURF just earned a review rating of 5 out of 5 stars on Readers’ Favorite!

Check out what Readers’ Favorite reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds had to say about DARK SURF:

Readers' Favorite 5 Stars “Dark Surf by TC Zmak is a horror story with a difference. Jake Ryder’s life changes in an instant when his best friend is killed by a great white shark while surfing. This isn’t the first shark death though – the numbers have been steadily rising for some time. Lani Marley is an FBI agent and is investigating the shark-related deaths while she is on vacation. There seems to be a link between these deaths and a group of surfers called the Nomads, a completely new breed of vampires who are led by Tristan Pierce. Jake and Lani become involved with the Nomads – Lani to find out what they have in connection with it, and Jake to try to find the last surfer to see his friend alive. Neither of them banked on falling in love with members of the surf group, and neither of them could ever have imagined the truth and the consequences of playing in the surf at night.

“Dark Surf by TC Zmak was an amazing story! I was hooked right from page one and could not put it down until the very end. I have always loved vampire tales; this was something so completely different, such a unique take on an age-old story, and that is what will give this book the edge over all the other vampire stories on the market today. Exceptionally well written, with a fantastic story line and well developed characters. TC Zmak allowed us regular insights into the background of each character in a measured manner, drawing out the details and giving the story some real depth. Absolutely loved it, can’t wait for part two!”

Thank you Readers’ Favorite & Anne-Marie Reynolds!

Read the full review at:

You can find more reviews for DARK SURF, the first book in the DARK SURF series, at:

Book Buzz – DARK SURF events

You’re invited to a DARK SURF Happy Hour & Book Signing, May 20, 2015, 5-7 p.m.!

The Otter’s Den
3166 Vista Del Camino (next to Wells Fargo Bank; cross street is Reservation Rd.)
Marina, CA 93933
(Ages 21+)

Wanna have some fun? Join me for a special Happy Hour & Book Signing to kick off summer “beach reading” season. The Otter’s Den will be pouring Mermaid’s Red from Coronado Brewing Co.—one of my favorite West Coast-style red ales & one of the beers mentioned in DARK SURF—along with a selection of other beers, wines and cocktails.

DARK SURF books & T-shirts will be available for sale. If you’ve already purchased a book & would like it signed, please bring it and I’d be happy to sign or inscribe it for you. We’ll have free drawings, and give away free bumper stickers & bookmarks too.

This event is open to the public, so tell your friends!

Free drawings • Free bumper stickers & bookmarks • DARK SURF books & T-shirts for sale • No host bar

Book Buzz – DARK SURF news & goings-on

Beach Reading Season is just around the corner! 

To celebrate, the DARK SURF e-book (Kindle edition) is now only $2.99! And the paperback is on sale at Amazon, too (regular price $14.99).

I’m also working to get the DARK SURF e-book onto multiple online retailers and platforms, such as Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, Scribd, Baker & Taylor and more! I’ll announce when DARK SURF becomes available on new platforms on Facebook.

If you’ve already read DARK SURF, will you please recommend it to your friends? It would be a huge help!

Thank you for your support!

Dark Surf front cover

Dark Surf front cover

Book Buzz – DARK SURF news & goings-on

It’s been a while since I last did a DARK SURF update. So here’s a quickie! I’m currently working on:

  • Editing and polishing the DARK SURF sequel
  • Researching publicity firms to create a campaign for the launch of the sequel
  • Formulating the timeline for the sequel’s release (more on that in a future post!)
  • Researching and entering book awards for DARK SURF
  • Acquiring reviews for DARK SURF
  • Getting DARK SURF into multiple retailers
  • And much, much more!

There are exciting times ahead. As a Dark Surf Nightly subscriber, you’ll be the first to hear any big announcements!

P.S. If you enjoyed DARK SURF, would you please post a review on Reviews are incredibly helpful for debut novels like mine. Thanks!

Crave – food & drink

The 2005 Tempranillo. That’s what got me hooked on Pierce Ranch Vineyards wines. Until that wine, I didn’t even know Iberian varietals could be successfully grown in Monterey County.

For decades, Monterey County has been widely known for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. But when it comes to reds, I generally like my wines on the darker end of the spectrum—and that requires a warmer climate.

Pierce Ranch Vineyards is located in the sunny southernmost part of Monterey County. Here, in the San Antonio Valley appellation, the climate is similar to Paso Robles (one of my favorite Zinfandel regions), which means the days are warm and the grapes achieve a full, rich fruit flavor. Situated roughly 14 miles from the ocean, the small family-owned operation produces limited-run estate-grown wines, with an emphasis on Spanish and Portuguese varieties—including many you won’t find anywhere else locally!

Year after year, the Tempranillo ($19.95) and Petite Sirah ($21.95) from Pierce Ranch Vineyards rank among my favorite wines in the county. This year is no different. The 2012 releases are standouts, along with the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95). The 2011 Zinfandel ($21.95) is also a treat—rich and full-bodied, with deep, dark fruit flavors (berry compote, red cherry and black plum).

Pierce Ranch Vineyards wines

Pierce Ranch Vineyards wines

If you’re in the Monterey Bay area, be sure to visit Pierce Ranch Vineyards’ tasting room at 499 Wave St. in Monterey, between Cannery Row and Lighthouse Avenue. And if you like live music with your wine, the tasting room is the place to be. It features a Sunday Jazz Series from 4-6 p.m.; $5 cover, ages 21+. For night-dwellers, the tasting room also features live music on selected Friday and Saturday nights.

Check out the event schedule at or for the latest news about music & events, including the upcoming Summer Open House. The Wine Club parties are super-fun too!

And here’s a fun tidbit: Pierce Ranch Vineyards is planning on bringing cheese and charcuterie into the tasting room later this spring!

Crave – food & drink

Peter B’s Brewpub, Monterey’s original craft brewery, is a regular stop of mine when I’m in downtown Monterey, Calif. The brewpub offers a wide range of house styles, seasonal styles, barrel-aged beers and cask ales.

Like many talented brewmasters, Kevin Clark began his career in beer as a homebrewer. He joined Peter B’s as the assistant brewmaster and was promoted to brewmaster in 2011. Since then, he’s introduced an array of imaginative & tasty beers that delight tourists and keep locals coming back for more.

Peter B's Brewpub beer flight

Peter B’s Brewpub beer flight

On a recent visit, we sampled a flight of five 4-ounce samplers ($6.50).

  • The Broken Hand imperial IPA, weighing in at 80 IBUs, features a blend of Jarrylo and Azacca hops. This seasonal beer is a balanced, bitter IPA with a burst of tropical fruit. My drinking buddy, who is a huge IPA fan, really enjoyed this beer.
  • Stout Resistance, a house style, is heavily (and I do mean heavily) roasted for a deep, dark espresso flavor. I love coffee and I love this beer.
  • Royal Arches Pale Ale, a seasonal style, has a subtle aroma of soft ripe peach and apricot. At 40 IBUs, this dark golden ale is well-balanced and flavorful.
  • Lynchburg Legacy, at 35 IBUs, was aged in Jack Daniels barrels for 4 months. It has an aroma of fig and the lingering flavor of Jack Daniels on the finish.
  • Also at 35 IBUs, Inclusion Amber Ale was on the lighter side of ambers in body and in taste.

After sampling, I decided on a pint of Stout Resistance ($5.50)—my favorite of the flight (because, as you know, I like things on the dark side). I then met up with some friends on the patio and saw they were enjoying the stout as well.

With Kevin at the helm, Peter B’s has expanded and now includes a beer cellar featuring four brite tanks, adding 18,000 gallons of beer production per year and enough storage space to continue the brewing of small batch and seasonal selections.

Peter B’s also has a mug club and growlers. The brewpub is located at 2 Portola Plaza (behind Portola Hotel & Spa) in Monterey.

Fun fact: On Wednesdays from 5-6 p.m., guests drinking on the pet-friendly patio can also enjoy the live broadcast of KRML’s “Pub Talk” with beer travelers/beer geeks Chris Nelson and Merideth Canham-Nelson.

Peter B's Stout Resistance & Monterey Bay calamari

Peter B’s Stout Resistance & Monterey Bay calamari

Crave – food & drink

My friends and I rarely leave the coast. (It’s a graysuit thing.) So, when we do head for the hills, we have to have a really good reason—like fabulous wines.

If you want a quick getaway to a wine lover’s paradise, try Murphys in the central Sierra Nevada foothills in Calaveras County, Calif. With 18 tasting rooms within an easy walk down Main Street, there are so many great wines to try, it’s sinful (or, more like, Zinful)!

My all-time favorite red wine is Zinfandel, so it’s no surprise my favorite wines of the trip were Zinfandels—from Calaveras County and Amador County.

All the Zins we tried at Newsome-Harlow were rich, full-bodied and bursting with dark berries—the Calaveras Zinfandel ($24), Shake Ridge Ranch Zinfandel ($36), and Big John Zinfandel ($38). I brought home a bottle of the Calaveras Zin, a bargain at $24. It’s also served by the glass in several local restaurants, including Alchemy Market & Cafe and Murphys Historic Hotel.

Hatcher Winery also had a mouthwatering selection of tasty reds. The Shake Ridge Zinfandel ($32) from Amador County was my favorite—filled with strawberry, candied cherries, blackberry and spice. We also really enjoyed the Shake Ridge Barbera ($32) and the Syrah ($26) from Calaveras County.

At Frog’s Tooth Vineyards, the Tempranillo ($24) was the standout—and it’s considered by many to be the Calaveras County winery’s flagship wine. Filled with berries and a hint of tart plum, this is an excellent wine to pair with meats and cheeses. The Barbera ($28), also from the Sierra Foothills, was delicious too.

Bunting Winery & Vineyards pours Rhone-style wines. Here, the Syrah (Sierra Foothills) was our favorite—and it’s their most popular wine.

We tasted many more fine wines—far too many to mention here. But visit & taste for yourself. It’s an easy walk from one end of Main Street to the other, with lots of restaurants in between.

Our favorite restaurant in Murphys is Alchemy Markey & Cafe. We first experienced Chef Jason Wright’s genius years ago at Bahama Billy’s Steakhouse and Bixby Martini Bistro in Carmel, Calif. Jason describes the food at Alchemy as “craveable”—and we wholeheartedly agree. Alchemy’s menu features “big, bold flavors from around the world with an emphasis on classy American favorites.”

During our visit we started with the Crispy Fried Calamari ($11), cooked to perfection with sliced jalapenos, pepper, coarse salt, Parmesan, and chipotle aioli. We also sampled the Three Hearts Caesar ($10), romaine hearts, hearts of palm and artichoke hearts with shaved Parmesan, smoked gouda, garlic croutons, tomatoes, and creamy house made dressing. Dinner was a super-decadent Crab Macaroni and Cheese ($24), rotini with a creamy white cheddar and Parmesan sauce,  Dungeness crab meat (in every bite!), and Parmesan gratinee.

Dinner reservations are recommended. Alchemy Market & Cafe was hopping when we were there and rightfully so with such “craveable” food. There are also 12 rotating tap handles for draft beers and a selection of bottled beers.

Within our 48-hour trip, we traveled from the Monterey Bay to Murphys, visited 16 of the 18 tasting rooms along the quaint tree-lined Main Street (the 2 we didn’t visit were closed), and then made our way back to the ocean. So this wine adventure is definitely do-able for graysuits & highly recommended for oenophiles. Cheers!

Wines from Murphys, Calif.

Wines from Murphys, Calif.

Crave – food & drink

Looking for something romantic for Valentine’s Day? Add a hibiscus flower to your Valentine’s champagne or sparkling wine! Simply place the flower inside your champagne flute, fill it with champagne & watch it unfurl among the bubbles.

Wild hibiscus flower in champagne

Wild hibiscus flower in champagne

For an extra dash of romance, add some of the hibiscus syrup to get a reddish hue & sweeter flavor. The flowers are even edible.

Wild hibiscus flower in champagne with syrup

Wild hibiscus flower in champagne with syrup

For my drinks, I used “Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup” ( from Australia. An 8.8-ounce jar contains approximately 11 flowers. You can find it in places such as gourmet stores and supermarkets, and at

Cheers to you & your Valentine!

Wild hibiscus flower in champagne flute

Wild hibiscus flower in champagne flute

Photos courtesy of Steve Zmak (