Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WIP Wednesday: turkey bondage

We're joining Carson and Tom in Talk Turkey again today. It's been a riot writing these two because their banter and chemistry is wonderful--it keeps me smiling long after it's gone on the page.

Talk Turkey

His mom had texted him a recipe for brine this morning. He'd had to look it up. Apparently some people dunked their turkey in a vat of salty water before cooking it. He laughed humorlessly as he thought about his tiny kitchen. The only place he'd be able to brine a turkey would be his rusty bathtub, where he'd be more likely to infuse it with tetanus than salt. 
But she'd been so excited to share recipes with him and so confident that he'd be able to make Christmas dinner on his own. With pictures, which was why he was headed to Safeway even though he ought to be at home with a pair of flannel pajamas and dry socks. 
His shoes squeaked against the linoleum as he made his way back to the turkeys. They were significantly more picked over than they had been last week, and Carson kicked himself for not going back right after he'd talked to Tom and getting one. All the small ones were gone, leaving Carson to choose between large and gargantuan. 
He took out his phone and dialed Tom's direct number. 
“Why hello, good sir,” Tom answered. “How are you on this lovely snowy night?” 
Carson balked a little at the greeting. He held his phone away from his ear for a second to look at the screen. He'd called the number Tom had given him, but he hadn't expected Tom to know who he was. Which was silly, in retrospect, because he already knew the hotline had caller ID. Tom hadn't had to ask for his phone number last time. Duh. 
“Carson?” Tom sounded unsure. “Uh, yeah. Sorry. I'm at the grocery store and I'm a little overwhelmed by all my turkey choices,” Carson babbled. It was true, it just wasn't the reason he was so out of whack. 
“Ah, I see. Well, how can I help?” Tom sounded more professional now, less at ease. Carson winced. Had he offended Tom by going straight to business? 
“I put off getting my turkey...” 
“And now only unsuitable ones are left,” Tom said knowingly. “Did you get the pamphlets I sent?” 
He had. It had been the first piece of mail that wasn't a bill Carson had received at his new address, but admitting how excited he'd been to open the envelope seemed silly. “Yeah. How To Thaw was riveting.” 
Tom snorted. “Personally I find Basting Basics to be the gem of that lot, but tastes differ.” 
The hard pit that had been in Carson's stomach since the horrendous office Christmas party eased a bit at Tom's comfortable cajolery. Why couldn't he talk this easily with the people in his department at work? 
“I'm saving Trussing Techniques for later. It sounded a bit racy,” he said, grinning when Tom started laughing. 
“Oh God. Bedtime reading for sure,” he said, taking a gasping breath. “You make it sound like Fifty Shades of Grey for turkeys.” 
“Could be,” Carson said, still smiling. “I've never read either, so how would I know?” 
“Clearly you need to read both now. For science,” Tom said, still sounding a bit choked. 
“I think it would be for literature, not for science. Besides, turkeys don't have hands. I don't see how they'd be able to tie a decent knot, let alone wield a paddle.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Let's Talk Turkey

I'm getting a woefully late start on this so I don't hold out much hope of it being ready in time for the Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar deadline, but this is a story I've been waiting to write for two years, so I decided to give it a go.

This year's Advent Calendar topic is holiday mishaps that have happy endings, so my meet-cute story about a man calling a turkey hotline because he got his hand stuck in the turkey while trying to take out the packet inside seemed perfect. You guys, I can't even explain how much I've wanted to write this story. SO. MUCH. But it never rose to the top of my WIP pile because there's no way it could possibly be an entire novel, and I was already working on several novellas.

I've been busy finishing up Some Assembly Required and doing the first-round edits on King of the Kitchen (and pondering the possibility of a sequel to it, thanks to a seed planted by my editor....) so I am so far behind schedule with this delightful and funny romp about the turkey hotline. But it's started, at least, and that's something. *g*

Talk Turkey

    “Thanks for calling the Talk Turkey hotline. This is Tom.”
    The voice was like velvet. Deep and soothing. Carson's frazzled nerves instantly calmed, and his tense shoulders released a bit. Did they train the hotline operators to talk like that? Surely anyone who was desperate enough to call a turkey hotline was in a bad way. And really, Tom?
    “Tom,” he said, disbelieving. “Like Tom Turkey? Is that what they call every guy who works there?”
    The husky chuckle that came across the line gave Carson goosebumps.
    “One, I'm the only guy who works here. And two, my name really is Tom. Thomas Alexander Stockton. But yes, I do get my fair share of Tom Turkey jokes.”
    It was Carson's turn to laugh. “Maybe you should go by Thomas instead. It makes it less obvious.”
    Tom hummed thoughtfully. “The only people who call me Thomas are my mom and my grandma, and even then it's only when I'm about to be flayed by one of them. I don't think I could shake the association.”
    “Well, I suppose the jokes are inevitable, then.”
    That earned him another throaty chuckle. Carson swallowed hard, his chest tingling.
    “I've gotten used to them,” Tom said dismissively. “Can I get your name and a brief description of your turkey problem so I can give you a better customer service experience?” The silky, easy cadence of his voice had taken on a bit of stilted hesitation. Carson wondered if he was reading off a script now. How disappointing.
    How starved for human contact was he that he'd melted because the person who'd answered a turkey hotline sounded hot and interested?
    Goddamn it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Your last glimpse of Some Assembly Required before it is submitted!

Lex Chase and I have been hard at work finishing up our comedic (and surprisingly angsty and robust) foray into IKEA's spectral plane. I'm spending my day with some last-minute edits and then Some Assembly Required will be off to our publisher. It's been an interesting lark--much plottier and heartfelt than we'd imagined it we jokingly set out to see if we could outline a book based on a silly writing exercise assigned by Damon Suede at a conference in Orlando earlier this year.

It was never a book we truly intended to write, but Damon liked the snippets we'd written in the class and encouraged us to continue it. And then our editor heard him talking about it with us, and the rest is history. Or rather, the rest is ghosts falling in love in purgatory, which just happens to be housed in IKEA.

Given how much time we've spent frantically trying to finish by our deadline--which is today, by the way, because Lex and I like to live dangerously and down-to-the-wire--it was a surprise that coming to the end of the manuscript took us by, well, surprise. Suddenly we were done. It was happy, to be sure, because every writer likes to actually finish a project. But we were also sad to leave Benji and Patrick behind because we'd fallen in love with them. Personally, I think I might miss Agnes the most. She's plucky and mysterious and has most of the great one-liners in the book. *g*

So without further ado, here's the last snipped of Some Assembly Required you'll see here in #WIPWednesday, since after today it's no longer a #WIP. *sniffle*

Some Assembly Required, release February or March 2016, Dreamspinner Press

Agnes didn't look over, absorbed in her knitting and apparently trusting him to work through the snarled yarn himself. He started winding. “Find her parents?” 
Benji didn't bother to ask how she knew. Agnes seemed to know everything that went on in the store, which made it all the more puzzling that Patrick thought he could prank her. Surely Patrick realized that Agnes was more, didn't he? Benji couldn't put it to words, not even in his own head, so he'd never tried to talk about it with Patrick. Besides, he kind of liked the unique bond he and Agnes had. It was certainly better than the antagonistic one she shared with Patrick. 
Her mom. Pretty sure that will be the last time she wanders off. She was shaken up.”  
Agnes nodded, looking up briefly from her knitting. “Something about it shook you up, too.” 
It had, but he hadn't really noticed it until Agnes said something. He was always happy to reunite a missing kid with its parents, but it usually felt better than this. Today Benji just felt empty.  
And really, always and usually? Benji wasn't one for melodramatics, even in his own inner monologues. Why was he be using words that implied he'd been here years when it had been a month or two, tops? He needed to find a hobby or something.  
I wish Patrick would decide if he was avoiding me or not,” he said, because Patrick was kind of like having a hobby. If a hobby was rude and sarcastic and more often than not ended with Benji needing to regenerate in the ball pit with Agnes.  
Agnes hummed. “Patrick has a lot more than that to decide,” she murmured. Her lips moved soundlessly as she counted her stitches, though the mass of finished rows on her lap followed no discernible pattern. Agnes's knitting was as cryptic as her advice.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

WIP Wednesday: At the beach!

Thing 2 and I found a double rainbow
on a rainy beach walk!
I'm at the beach for the next two weeks, so I thought it was only fitting I brought some of my characters with me.

I'm off to take the kidlets down to the sand to build castles and boogie board, but we won't be having near as much fun as Connor and Jake did in this sexy about making s'mores on the beach. *g*


There was a blanket spread in the middle of the expanse of sand, but that wasn't where Connor led him. Jake went down without a fight when Connor nudged him to his knees, obediently nestling into the sand next to it. He luxuriated in the feel of the sand beneath him, shifting and scratching just as it would if they were really at the shore, while Connor pulled the bag with marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars over and assembled a s'more.
I borrowed my dad's fire pit, but I don't think it's warm enough to go out on the balcony with it. Luckily, I always have a plan B.” Connor mumbled around the s'more he held in his teeth. He dug through a bag again, rustling around in it before triumphantly holding up a lighter.
Jake was transfixed by the sight of Connor’s lips closed around the treat, his heart thudding slowly at the thought of those full lips parted around something else.
Bit small, eh?” Jake teased, quirking an eyebrow at the small Bic.
Connor made a tsking sound, shaking his head. The lighter cast just enough brightness that Jake could see the way Connor’s blue eyes sparkled with amusement.
If I was going to melt the whole thing, yes. But I have other plans, oh ye of little faith.” Connor held the lighter up to the chocolate, eyes narrowing as he concentrated on melting the chocolate without burning his fingers. When the first tiny bead dripped to the sand, he made a triumphant noise and flicked the lighter, plunging them back into the semi-darkness. Jake blinked, a corona of colors from the flame still burned into his retinas as he tried to adjust.
Before he could ask Connor what the plan actually was, Jake felt lips pressed against his. He responded without thinking, parting his own lips enough for Connor’s tongue to slide inside. The flavor of chocolate burst over his tongue, and it took him a few seconds to realize that Connor must have licked the melted chocolate. The mental image of Connor, lips and tongue painted with the sweet, sticky s’more made Jake groan, and he cupped the back of Connor’s head with his hand, pulling him in even closer so he could deepen the kiss.
You’re such a tease,” he growled when Connor pulled back.
Connor snickered, flicking the lighter on again. His face was lit with a halo of dancing light again, and Jake smugly noted that Connor’s lips looked a bit swollen from his possessive kiss. He watched as Connor went through the process of melting more of the chocolate, this time leaving the lighter lit as he lifted the s’more to his mouth and licked it.
Jake was ready for the darkness this time, easily tracking Connor’s movements as he came closer again. He opened his mouth eagerly, stroking Connor’s tongue with his own to strip away all the chocolate that somehow tasted even sweeter mingled with a taste that was all Connor.
Christ,” Jake muttered when Connor broke away again.
Good, isn't it?” Connor bent his head, nipping at the tender skin of Jake’s neck. “And think, it's just the two of us, all alone on a deserted patch of beach.”
Jake was scrambling for the blanket before Connor had even finished his sentence, shaking it roughly to rid it of any lingering sand before spreading it carefully.
God, your mouth,” Jake murmured, fixated on the dark outline of Connor’s lips, barely visible in the light of the moon. He groaned when he realized Connor still had the half-eaten s'more clamped in his teeth. “Would you forget the stupid s’more and just get down here?”
Connor grinned around his mouthful, winking as lasciviously as he could with graham cracker and marshmallow stuffed into his mouth. He dropped to his knees on the blanket and leaned over Jake, fishing in the sand for the discarded lighter.

Trust me?” 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

WIP Wednesday: More Connor and Jake

This summer seems like it's flying by! I'm heading off to Hilton Head Island for two weeks with the kids and Hubs on Saturday, and I'm really hoping to get a good amount of writing and editing done while I'm there. So next #WIPWednesday will be coming at you from the beach, though I haven't decided which project is going to be lavished in my attention while I'm there yet. Any suggestions? I'll be finishing up Some Assembly Required with Lex while I'm there, but after that I'll be diving into something else.

Should it be The Zen Den with sexy yoga teacher Owen and his newest student, Kincaid? Or maybe it's finally time to finish my YA manuscript Incoming Credits with adorably geeky Zeke and his heartthrob Hatcher. And I also have Connor and Jake languishing out there, the poor guys whose manuscript doesn't even have a title to call its own yet.

Connor and Jake's particular brand of angst is what I was feeling this week, so you get another snippet of their story. The two of them have just come from their first night out together in weeks, spent at a bar with a group of their friends. We come in on their cab ride home.

Let me know which WIP you'd like to me to work on in the comments! *g*

Jake spent the short cab ride wondering what he should say to Connor once they were alone. Had he read too much into the way Connor had swayed into him during the chorus of the song they’d sung, or the way his own voice had hitched as he’d sung the last verse? They were both still a little drunk; maybe Jake should let it go until he was more level-headed.
Connor was unnaturally quiet as they made their way up two flights of stairs to the apartment he shared with their roommate, Gavin. Instead of slipping down the hall that lead to their bedroom as Jake had expected him to, though, Connor detoured into the kitchen.
I have a little bit of work to get through before I can call it a night,” Connor said quietly, out of deference to Gavin, who was sacked out on the couch.
It's Friday night, Con. Come on.” Jake knew he was perilously close to sounding whiny, but he didn't care. He just wanted Connor in bed with him, even if it was just to sleep.
Just a few emails. I promise.” Connor was already immersed in something on his laptop, not even looking up when Jake sighed and gave up, retreating down the hallway.
It seemed like a shame to climb into the freshly made bed stinking of smoke from the club, so Jake shut the bedroom door so the sound wouldn't wake Gavin and walked through to the bathroom, turning the shower taps on and shirking out of his clothes. Leaving them in a pile on the floor never failed to get a rise out of Connor, and Jake felt a small zing of satisfaction at knowing the clothes would drive Connor crazy when he saw them. The contentedness from the club had definitely waned, and Jake felt himself falling straight back into the pit low-level resentfulness and irritation he'd been wallowing in lately.
He was enjoying the hot spray and too caught up in his own thoughts to hear the door open, and Jake had to bite back a yelp when he saw Connor’s head poke around the shower curtain.
Jesus. A little warning?”
Connor’s eyes swept down Jake’s bare chest, traveling over the flat planes of his stomach and lingering at the trail of wiry blond hair that led down to Jake’s half-hard cock, which despite his anger at Connor putting him off to work was definitely showing interest in Connor’s appraisal now.
You should be ashamed of how much water you waste,” Connor said with a grin, pulling his own shirt up over his head and tossing it in the hamper. He cast a glance at the pile of Jake’s discarded clothes on the floor, shaking his head. “I bet you took a shower before you came out tonight, too. And one this morning.”
We can’t all be like you, Conservation Connor,” Jake teased, watching as Connor’s jeans went into the hamper. “Saving the planet one uneaten hamburger at a time.”
Connor wasn't a vegetarian, but he never ate red meat and rarely indulged in poultry or pork, preferring vegetables and fish. It was a running joke between them—Connor had been one of the only people at the Texas university where they met who didn't eat beef. Connor laughed at the familiar jibe, slipping past him into the shower. Jake watched him, studying the way the rivulets of water coursed over Connor’s pale skin as he held his face up to the spray, his dark hair flattening against his skull.
Lucky they didn’t make us sing New Age Girl,” Connor said, licking the water from his lips in a way that made Jake’s mouth go dry.
Yeah?” Jake asked, stepping closer and backing Connor up against the tiles, his lips hovering just over the other man’s. “I don’t I know that one.”
More evidence of your appalling taste in music,” Connor said, ducking his head a bit and nipping at the stubble on Jake’s chin. “Maybe Coldplay will remake it someday.”
Jake was feeling too generous at the moment to respond to the barb, angling his neck instead so Connor could press a row of kisses along his jaw. He canted his hips forward, rubbing his wet body against Connor’s, their erections brushing against each other.
It’s about a girl,” Connor said, his warm breath, cooler than the water they’re under, making Jake shiver as it skated across the shell of his ear. “A vegetarian. Who likes—”

His hand ghosted down Jake’s body, leaving no question as to just exactly what the vegetarian in questionand Connorliked.
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