Wednesday, June 24, 2015

WIP Wednesday: an IKEA movie date!

Photo credit
Lex and I are so, so close to the finish line with Some Assembly Required. We've built the world and filled it in with a lot of wonderful, colorful characters. And now we're getting to the nitty gritty stuff that I love...sweet moments and relationship building! *g*

What happens when you're a ghost so your spiritual essence is tied to IKEA and you can't take your crush on a date? Why, you bring the date to him! Benji and Patrick's relationship is moving along at a snail's pace (or rather, Patrick's pace...) and Benji decides what they need is a good old-fashioned movie date.

Some Assembly Required, February 2016, Dreamspinner Press

Benji sighed as he moved over to snag a VGA cable from around Karin's neck and start hooking the laptop up. She'd clearly not known what he needed, since she brought several. He saw an HDMI and what he was pretty sure was an ethernet cable, though he had no idea where she'd have gotten that. 
Agnes craned her neck, watching him closely. “So you're going to show a movie using this?” 
He wondered when the last time Agnes had actually watched a movie. Had they even had talkies then? He decided discretion was the better part of valor and bit back his joke. 
I'm streaming the movie and using the projector to put it up on the wall. Kind of like how movie theaters do it.” 
Agnes poked at the laptop, and the screen flickered from the burst of electromagnetic energy. She drew her hand back quickly, and Benji almost laughed. It was the closest to chagrined he'd ever seen her. 
Karin joined them, squinting at the laptop. “So there's a movie reel in there?” 
Not for the first time, Benji wondered just exactly how old Karin and Agnes were. 
Uh, no. Nowadays movie theaters are all digital.” He bit his lip when he looked up and saw two blank faces. “It's hard to explain. But no, there are no reels of film.” 
He'd had a hard time figuring out what to screen for Patrick on their movie date, but after an hour agonizing over his choices he'd settled on The Avengers. It was the perfect mix of action and geekery and it was exactly the type of movie he bet Patrick would have lined up to see on opening night. 
Benji was going to be kind of devastated if Patrick didn't love it. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Back into the kitchen

Photo: Raleys
I'm on deadline with Some Assembly Required so it's almost all IKEA all the time in my brain right now, but I've got a little space left over for my lovely King of the Kitchen boys. The book is in edits right now, and I'm currently testing recipes for the addendum. My plan is to have one for everything Beck cooks (he's into the slow food movement, with local ingredients and minimal fancifying) and at least a few of the things Duncan cooks. That's a little harder, since he's a molecular gastronomist and I doubt most of you have the tools to spherify liquids (easier than you'd think, but requires chemicals from specialty shops) and sous vide meat to tender perfection. *g*

In this excerpt Beck cooks one of my very favorite things to make in the kitchen, roasted brussel sprouts. This recipe will definitely be in the book!

King of the Kitchen, Dreamspinner Press, November 2015

Beck pulled a plate out of the warmer, sitting it on the counter between them. The camera came forward, zooming in on it, and Duncan had to force himself not to take an instinctive step back. Filming television was hard.
We're taking on brussels sprouts today. They get a pretty bad rap, but when Duncan and I are done with them today I think you'll see that they're a flavorful and nutritious addition to any dinner table,” Beck said.
I'll be going the more traditional route, slow roasting my Brussels sprouts with grape tomatoes and finishing them with a balsamic reduction,” Beck said. The camera panned over the ingredients a stage hand had set out moments before.
And I'll be bringing some chemistry into the kitchen and showing you how to make a bacon foam that will complement my crunchy smoked Brussels sprouts perfectly,” Duncan said. He'd brought his smoke gun and his whipping siphon, and both had caused quite a stir in the prep kitchens. He held them up now. “These probably aren't tools you'll find in your home kitchen, but there are plenty of affordable models out there for the home cook. They look a little intimidating, but we'll talk through the process today. You'll find that science in the kitchen can be fun and tasty.”
Both of their dishes took a long time to make, which was why Andre and the prep kitchen had supplied them with multiple switch-out dishes so they could show the cooking process to the audience as they went. Some of Duncan's steps couldn't be prepared in advance, though, like setting up the smoke gun and preparing the siphon to make the foam.
He was more than a little nervous about things not working as they should, but everything moved along seamlessly, aside from a minor spill when he and Beck collided.
And that's why you always say call out 'behind' in a professional kitchen,” Duncan joked, brushing the balsamic vinegar he'd spilled on his coat off. “It's also why no one but Beck wears these monkey suits while we're cooking.”
He put his pot down and peeled off his sports jacket, handing it off to the stage hand who darted forward to take it. Having all this off-screen help was nice. Kind of like what he'd imagined having Thing would be like when he'd watched The Addams Family as a kid.

Ah, that's better.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Untitled WIP

Lex and I are barreling toward our deadline on Some Assembly Required, but we've gotten into some of the heavy stuff and I needed a bit of a break between chapters. A literary palate cleanser, if you will. So I dove into a project I've had  hanging around for quite awhile, an untitled novella about an established relationship where communication has broken down and while the love is there, the mutual understanding and respect isn't.

I'd titled this Better than Okay, but then A Fault in Our Stars happened. If you've read that, you know the importance of the characters telling each other "okay" and why I now have to find a new catchphrase for poor Jake and Connor. Any ideas? They've been a couple since college and they're early thirties now, so they're settled into their relationship and have their own verbal shorthand. 

The book is a look into their life as they are floundering a bit, as people in a longterm relationship tend to do. I love exploring what happens when a couple has passed the newlywed stage. How do they stay committed? What do they do once that first blush of love is past? Writing about lust and overwhelming initial attraction is fun, but writing about an established couple gets you to the meat of their relationship. How to they keep that happiness that came so easily early on? Or do they?

Untitled WIP

Jake ran a hand through his hair and sighed. He was overdue for a cut, but he'd been waiting for Connor to say something. Jake almost never kept track of things like that; Connor was the one who hounded him to go in for a cut when it started to get shaggy. If left to his own devices, Jake would only get it cut when it started to get so unruly that it made his baseball caps fit too tightly.
But Connor hadn't said anything. There had been no hastily scribbled Post-it note on the bathroom mirror or coupons tucked into Jake's wallet for his favorite salon chain. Hell, Jake hadn't been able to wear the Mariners hat he almost never took off for over a week now because it had gotten uncomfortable, and Connor hadn't noticed that, either.
Jake added that to his mental tally of everything that had been going wrong with Connor lately, resisting the urge to tug at his floppy locks in frustration. He needed to be doing something, but it wasn't like he could confront Connor when he didn't even know where he was. Jake knew he could text him—even at his most distracted and unavailable, Connor always responded to texts. But could he trust anything Connor said? He didn't know Jake had caught him lying about where he was. Wouldn't he just claim to be with his brother Chris and make Jake even angrier?
It was the middle of February and absolutely freezing outside, but Jake decided that if he didn’t get out and do something, he might well lose his mind. So he flicked off the television and made his way back to his bedroom, moving aside Elaine’s suitcase and rifling through the chest of drawers. He pushed through boxers and T-shirts until he found what he was looking for, a pair of threadbare sweatpants with a badly frayed draw string. Years ago they'd been navy blue, but now they were nearly gray from repeated washings. The reflective Rice University logo down the side hadn't faded, though, which was what he needed for a dark nighttime run. He’d had them since college, when he and Connor used to go for runs together around Houston after dark because it was the coolest part of the day. He shucked his jeans, pulling on the familiar pants and tying the waistband tightly, smoothing the thermal T-shirt he was already wearing over it and adding a sweatshirt for good measure. He had gloves and a thick woolen hat in his jacket pocket in the closet, but he didn’t want to risk ruining them or the coat when he worked up a sweat once he got going. Jake looked at himself in the mirror, glaring at his reflection. He hated that he'd been reduced to such a miserable, jealous state. How had he and Connor let things get so bad?
A change of scenery was definitely called for, so Jake pulled himself together, pocketed his keys and braced himself for the cold as he headed out to try to outrun his problems for a little bit.
Jake’s thoughts were of hot summer evenings and warm, blue-skied fall days as he jogged down the sidewalk, eyes focused on his sneakers so as to avoid the worst of the icy puddles. He hated winter. He’d never had a huge tolerance for cold weather, but most of his favorite memories of Connor were tied up with memories of warmth. The day they’d met at college as freshmen moving into a new dorm had been one of the hottest days of the year. Both of them were from cooler climates, and they'd been ill-prepared for the harsh heat of August in Texas. They'd adapted, though, and even after they'd moved to Seattle after graduation, they'd gravitated toward hot places on their rare vacations.
Summer in Seattle was nice, but it couldn't hold a candle in Jake's mind to his memories of sweat-soaked late summers in Texas with Connor by his side. They'd been roommates freshman year, thrown together by chance. It hadn't taken long for them to become friends, two non-Texans adjusting to not only college life but culture shock and a climate far hotter than any place either of them had lived in before.
It has also been blisteringly hot the August of their junior year when Connor had kissed him and their relationship had taken on a completely new aspect, changing from friends to lovers. The newness and excitement of his first few months of dating Connor were forever tied to memories of warm, lush weather, and heat waves never failed to make Jake remember them.
Not that he wouldn't happily live in perpetual winter if he and Connor could just get those feelings back. They'd been together so long that Jake couldn't even imagine life without Connor. They'd become adults together. They'd provided moral support for each other during their first few nerve-wracking job interviews; they'd been side-by-side as they shopped for apartments, filled out their first W-2s and puzzled over insurance options. Jake didn't know how to be a grown up without Connor there with him. The friends they'd shared an apartment with their last year at Rice had teasingly called them “Jon,” since, as one of them put it, “We never see Jake and Con apart, so it's like we have one roommate instead of two living in that room.” It had been a long time since anyone had called them that, and Jake let the word echo through his head in time with his footfalls, focusing on that instead of the ache in his chest that wasn’t entirely from the icy air.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

WIP Wednesday: King of the Kitchen excerpt!

It's Wednesday! Lex and I have been working away at Some Assembly Required, but I wanted to share something else with you today. King of the Kitchen was accepted and will be released in early November, just in time to hit the preorder page for GRL. I'll be reading an excerpt from it there (and man is THAT going to be interesting...I already feel like I've swallowed a swarm of butterflies just thinking about it!), and I thought I'd share a different excerpt here today.

King of the Kitchen (Dreamspinner Press November 2015) 
 JULY 2006 
The kitchen was as hot as a sauna, and the bandanna Duncan had tied around his had lost its ability to keep his forehead dry hours ago. His feet ached, his hands were chapped, and despite being surrounded by food, he hadn't eaten since breakfast. It was long past the dinner hour, but the flurry of frenetic activity hadn't slowed much at all. 
People were underfoot everywhere in the small space, bustling around with hot pans and large pots, and everywhere he turned Duncan ran the risk of toppling a precariously placed container. It was perfect. 
“Order in! Rancher's omelet, no onions, no peppers, no potatoes, no meat.” 
Duncan rolled his eyes, yanking the ticket out of John's hand. “So basically they want a cheese omelet? You don't think you could make it easier on us in here and just write down what they actually ordered?” 
John grinned. “She ordered the rancher's omelet, dude.” 
“Without three quarters of what makes it the rahncher's omelet? Did you tell her she could just order a cheese omelet and save $3.75?” 
“I did, but she's not the one paying and she wanted to stick to him.” 
That startled a laugh out of Duncan. John motioned toward a table over his shoulder and Duncan leaned through the pass through, trying to see the couple without being too obvious. He knocked over a battered pot in the process, making most of the diner's customers look up. So much for subtle. 
 “Them,” John said, pointing toward a small table toward the front of the diner, right in front of the plate glass windows. 
The woman was tall and slender with dark wavy hair cascading down her back. Her clothing and the purse perched on the floor near her feet screamed money, as did the suit on the man she was with. They weren't the diner's typical patrons by a long shot, but Duncan did have to concede that she looked like the type of person who'd be a special order. When business was slow, he and some of the other kitchen staff passed the time by betting on  whether or not the customers who walked in the door would be complicated. He was almost always right. 
 “What about him?” Duncan asked, jutting his chin toward the man she was with. 
He could only see him from behind, but from his immaculately cut hair and his ramrod straight posture—difficult in the rickety diner chairs, Duncan knew from personal experience—he looked like a special order as well. He looked down at the ticket, frowning as he tried to decipher John's chicken scratch. No matter how many times the kitchen complained, John's handwriting never improved. Duncan had worked there on and off for more than ten years and the only constant had been John and his atrocious handwriting. It was kind of comforting, in an extremely exasperating way. 
 “Seriously? Two eggs over easy, bacon, and whole wheat toast?” Duncan looked from the ticket to the man. That was a surprise. He peered at him, studying his shoulders and finding himself wishing he could see the mystery man's face. It wasn't often that Duncan's culinary profiling went astray. It was intriguing. 
“They're cousins. It was his week to pick where they had dinner. I'm getting the feeling that she's less than pleased,” John said.
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