Guest Post: Inspiration from the Best Family BBQ I ever Attended by Elizabeth Pantley

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Guest Post

Inspiration from the Best Family BBQ I ever Attended
By Elizabeth Pantley

My protagonist, Hayden, comes from a small family of three, but her best friend Luna has a very large Italian family that likes to gather. And they do up everything big. Really big. In the book, Hayden tags along to their annual summer BBQ. I had the luck of attending a real-life function like this once, and it was so amazing that it became the inspiration for the event.

Years ago, I was invited by a friend to her large extended family barbeque. This family owned an enormous piece of property with farm animals and pastures. I’ll never forget driving up to the parking area and looking out over their vast property nestled in the trees, with an amazing mountain range rising behind it. We even spotted a family of deer nearby as we made our way to the picnic.

The setting itself was an experience, but when filled with family, friends, music and food it was truly magical. It was like being at your favorite county fair – but in someone’s backyard. And instead of being filled with strangers, everyone knows one another, and the atmosphere was one of connection and love.

This family took the idea of gathering to the next level, and it was a picnic I’d never forget. It became the inspiration for a scene in my book that I’d love to share with you here.

EXCERPT from Falling in Magic, Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic, 1

As we drove up to the farm, we spotted six SUVs and four trucks already parked on the grass. For a boisterous family they sure did park in nice straight lines. I guess since there were so many of them, they’d learned not to box each other in, and to make it easy for people to come and go. They truly cared about each other, and it was evident in big and small ways. I was grateful to be part of the inner circle. We parked, grabbed our trays of cookies, and followed the sound of the band. One of Luna’s many cousins had a country western band and they often played for family events.

The picnic was set up in a clearing in the middle of the back forty behind the barns. It was surrounded by trees and gently rolling hills, and you could see majestic snow-touched mountains in the distance. The setting was breathtaking.

Dotting the clearing were some of Luna’s relatives. By day’s end it would be filled with happy humanity. Most of the adults and all the kids were taking advantage of the theme to sport cowboy hats and country attire. The mood was infectious. The party probably would go on all night.  

More of the family was arriving, and the parking area was filling up. The band started to play one of my favorite country songs and Luna and I hit the makeshift dance floor. A smattering of her siblings and cousins were already there twirling and dancing in one big mass of movement. The kids were hooting and letting go of all their childish energy. Soon Luna and I were spinning and hooting with the best of them.

The tables were laid out with more food than the whole county could consume in a day. Luna and I grabbed our platter-sized plates, napkins and silverware. Pork, beans, corn on the cobb, salads, and of course, homemade pastas of numerous types covered the tables. Once our plates were filled with deliciousness, we found seats at a table which filled up with family members and friends. The next hour was bursting with chatter, stories, laughter and news.

Soon Uncle Freddie clanged a loud dinner bell, signaling that desserts were ready for us. The dessert tables were bursting with sugar-laced colors, since everyone who came brought something to share. There were Italian cakes, cookies, brownies and my all-time favorite, classic tiramisu.

As evening fell, the party was lit up with lanterns and bonfires. As if we hadn’t already had enough dessert, they pulled out marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers. Long sticks were available for those who wished to toast their marshmallows, and of course all the children (and half the adults) clambered to be in line for that. I would have to run an extra mile tomorrow, but that gooey-chocolatey goodness was worth it.

I ate my s’mores and enjoyed the infectious joy of this close-knit family as the inevitable campfire songs and stories commenced. There were more stars overhead than I had ever seen in my life. The group slowly meandered over to a large area behind the BBQ, and to my wonderment, a fireworks show began. It was a night I’d never forget.


Falling into Magic is a full-length magical cozy mystery novel with a touch of humor and a hint of romance. It is the first book in the Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic series.

You can find the book at Amazon

They told her the cat has escaped the house & ran away, but she knew the truth. The mirror had taken it. – Falling into Magic by Elizabeth Pantley

About The Book

When Hayden was a child, she lost her cat. Adults told her the cat has escaped the house and ran away, but she knew the truth. The mirror had taken her. She knew because the mirror had given her a glimpse of an alternate world and had nearly pulled her in, so she was certain the cat had suffered that fate.

Twenty years later Hayden discovers the true secret of the mirror when she is thrust into it by a mysterious villain. She learns of a world she never knew existed, and a family she never knew she had. But danger brought her here, and it followed her. And now, Hayden is on a mission to see that the threat is removed, so that she can begin her magical, meaningful new life in this enchanted world.

Book Links: Amazon

About The Author

Elizabeth Pantley is the international bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents. Her books have been published in over twenty languages. She lives near Seattle and is the mother of four and nana to one. This is her first work of fiction.

Author Links

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