Wednesday, August 26, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Celebrity Out

The Barnacle has been home sick with a 104F fever, which means while I've had a few days at home I wouldn't normally have, they haven't exactly been productive. But if I ever end up on some sort of My Little Pony quiz show, I'm taking home the gold. *g*

She's better and back at school, and I'm heading in to work the closing shift at the library here in a few minutes. I've been so frazzled by our schedule upset that I totally forgot what day it actually was. Oops! Luckily, I remembered before I had to hop out for work.

This is the start of a WIP about two celebrities who have just filmed a movie together and are celebrating the successful wrap, which coincides with one of their birthdays. They're both in committed relationships, but find that they're on each other's celebrity out list. With their partners' permission and ecstatic encouragement (and I say that because I don't write infidelity, it's a total no-go for me, and I know it is for a lot of you, too) they find themselves together for a night.

Celebrity Out

I think the party's dying out, I'll just go with you.” There was no reason to stay if even Emma was going, though Douglas didn't understand why she was leaving her own home.

You’re staying here,” Jeff says, pursing his lips when Douglas frowns.

Doug, it’s your 39th birthday. You’ll be 40 next year. It’s alright to live it up a bit.”

He looks at him blankly, and Jeff shakes his head fondly.

You’re going to make me say it outright, aren’t you?” he says, a smile curving his lips despite his exasperated tone. “I didn’t set out planning this, you know. But Emma and I had the most enlightening conversation. Hugh Grant? Johnny Depp? Carter Lang? Ring any bells?”

Douglas sucks in a breath, eyes widening in horror as he realizes what Jeff is talking about. He and Jeff had heard something on the radio about celebrity out lists years ago, and they'd jokingly put one together. It had been well before Douglas had any success in the industry, back when he'd been a struggling actor going out to any casting call he remotely fit the bill for and working as an overnight stock clerk at a big box store to make ends meet. They hadn’t talked about it in years, though, and he’d thought–hoped–that Jeff had forgotten. It was awkward now that they actually knew some of the men on their lists.

Jeff, you can’t think that I’d –”

It’s what the list is for, Douglas,” Jeff says, and there’s no trace of bitterness or anger in his tone. He cups Douglas' cheeks with his palms, keeping his gaze trained on him. “It’s your birthday. My present to you. Enjoy.”

Douglas huffs out a laugh, hardly believing they’re having this conversation. Because it sounds like Jeff is telling him he can have an affair with Carter as his birthday present, which is absolutely insane.

And here I thought you’d get me that watch I’ve been eyeing,” he says, trying for humor. There was no way Jeff was being serious. They'd been together for more than ten years and Douglas hadn't strayed once in all that time, and he was sure Jeff hadn't either. Why would he throw that away now?

No, we’re giving you the man you’ve been eyeing. That’s far better than any old watch, isn’t it?” Emma's comment takes Douglas by surprise, and he jumps. Only Jeff’s hands, which are still on his cheeks, keep him from whirling around. He’s suddenly sober as a judge, and he can feel a cold sweat prickle down his back. Jeff pulls him forward, pressing a kiss to his rigid lips, and then releases him. He stumbles a bit, backing up a step until he hits the wall behind him. Which is fine, until the wall moves and he realizes it’s Carter.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Business or Pleasure

I've been busy with editing and trying to decide whether or not I want to pitch the sequel to King of the Kitchen  that's been banging around in my head for the last month or so, so I haven't done much writing.

Which isn't to say I haven't done any, just that it's been a lot slower going than my usual 2K+ a day output. I'm currently plugging away on this WIP that's a big shift for me--sex first, then a relationship later. If you've read pretty much any of my books, you know that's quite a departure from my usual slow-build. *g*

Kenji has just checked into his hotel on his latest business trip, and he's hoping to get a good workout in to tire him out for the night. He gets more than he bargained for...

Business or Pleasure

He pushed the door open, momentarily surprised when the sound of iron clanging toward the back of the small gym. Kenji had assumed he'd be on his own this late. 
He didn't need the weights, so it wasn't like it mattered. He shrugged off the surprise and entered, trying to keep his head down and not disturb the other person. The room was well-lit and clean, which was more than most hotel gyms had going for them. It was also lined with mirrors, which meant no matter which machine Kenji chose, he'd have a view of the other person, and they'd be able to see him. 
He dropped his towel and water bottle near the first treadmill he came to. He busied himself with the unfamiliar machine, setting his pace and time and then starting to jog as the treadmill belt started to pick up speed. He didn't look up again until he'd settled into a nice rhythm, the sounds of his feet hitting the belt loud in the otherwise quiet room.Kenji nearly swallowed his tongue when he finally got a look at the gym's other occupant. Or rather, the back of him. He was on the floor, busting through a set of push-ups that had his tanned, tattooed biceps bulging and his pert, rounded ass on display. 
The guy's sleeveless shirt was soaked, and his short hair was so dark with sweat that Kenji couldn't tell what color it actually was. He was working hard, and apparently he'd been at it awhile. 
Kenji had to force himself to look away. He made it a mile before giving in to temptation and sneaking another peek. The man had moved on to the free weights, and now his face was visible in the mirror. Even streaming with sweat and pink from exertion, he was gorgeous. His full lips were pinched with effort and his eyes were closed as he ran through his reps, which made Kenji look away quickly, embarrassed at his lack of self control. He shouldn't be staring at the poor guy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Into the Kitchen again!

I made a few of the T-shirts Duncan wears when
he guest-hosts on Beck's cooking show. See all of
them on my Facebook page!                                 
Before I was published, I labored under the very misguided belief that a writer wrote their manuscript, sent it off into the world, and that was that. Sure, there would be editing. Consultations on covers and blurbs. But the writing? That was done.

That, my friends, was a fallacy. Because editors aren't just there to catch typos and bad clauses--they're there to tighten up the writing and make the plot the best it can be. Which means pointing out errors in the arc, characters who are acting OOC, and basically wreaking wonderful havoc on your manuscript until it's the best it can be. Editors have a hard job, and I'm incredibly lucky that my publisher employs editors who are both talented and tactful, because it can't be easy to find nice ways to telling writers to cut sections because they're bulky, add things for clarity and pump up dialogue (and in some cases, as happened with Finding Home, add entire chapters, eek!). But I've never walked away from an edit feeling anything less than excited about how much better the book was, which is all down to how awesome the editing team at Dreamspinner Press is.

Anyway, now that I'm a grizzled writing vet (ha!) I realize that when I send a manuscript off to my publisher, I am most certainly NOT done writing. That was the case with King of the Kitchen. I had some really great editors working on it, with some great (but hard to hear) suggestions about where I could cut the manuscript to make it flow better and what I needed to add to make it really shine. Which is why now, months after the manuscript is finished, I'm still using King of the Kitchen for #WIP Wednesday. *g*

Beck and Duncan are playing up their friendship to the press, which now includes playing racquetball with Duncan's father, Vincent, and Beck's uncle, Christian. Vincent and Christian have a long-running feud, and here we see why.

King of the Kitchen, Dreamspinner Press, November 2015

We’ll meet you on the court, then,” Christian said, brushing some invisible lint off his pristine white shorts. He and Vincent were both already dressed in their racquetball clothes. He gave Duncan’s jeans a distasteful look. “Do hurry.”
Beck wondered if he and Duncan should take turns changing just to have one of them on hand to act as a buffer between Vincent and Christian, but Vincent spoke before he could suggest it.
I’ll head to the court to make sure they don’t give our reservation to someone else,” Vincent said. He sneered in Christian’s direction, his chest puffed out like a peacock. “Perhaps you could wait in the café. I believe they’re selling that brand of glorified tap water you’ve been hawking.”
Christian’s face went puce. “I only put my name on the very best brands,” he sniffed. “Not that you’d know anything about being judicious.”
Beck grabbed his uncle’s arm when Vincent took a step toward them. “Didn’t I see Arnie in the café on my way in? When I was in last week he asked me about placing an order for some premade dinners from Brix to sell here. Maybe you should go touch base with him about that. We’ll meet you on the court in five.”
Duncan snickered. “Save it for the court, old men.”
Christian glowered but held his hands up and stepped away. “I’m always happy to discuss new business ventures.”
Expand or die, isn’t that your motto?” Vincent muttered, but he turned and headed down the corridor toward the courts when Duncan cleared his throat menacingly.
This is such a bad idea,” Duncan said.

The photographer from the restaurant was just outside the plate glass window, so Beck slung his arm around Duncan’s shoulder and gave him a sunny smile. “The absolute worst,” he said through gritted teeth.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A different kind of #WIP Wednesday

Back to school for the Baker spawn!
I usually share snippets of manuscripts I'm working on for #WIPWednesday, but today was the first day of school for my kiddos and I'm feeling a little nostalgic and a lot proud of these two WIPs that I've been working on since 2006. So instead, here's what I'm working on when I'm not writing.

Hilton Head Island!

It's hard to believe how big these kiddos are getting. Or how fast the summer flew by, though at times it felt like it would never end. (Usually when I was paying summer day camp bills. *g*) We squeezed out every bit of fun we could with baseball games, surprise picnics, playdates at the park and two weeks in Hilton Head where we didn't do anything other than relax on the beach, swim every day, and continue our longstanding family tradition of competitive trash talking during mini golf.

Thing 1 before he was promoted to goalie
(with the monster pads and stick that entails)
The Boy (aka the Bub or Thing 1) is eight and starting third grade this year. He's a voracious reader whose favorite book is War of the Worlds, followed closely by the Harry Potter series. Bub is in the gifted and talented program where he has already surpassed me in math, and he plans to be an astrophysicist when he grows up. He announced his intentions when he was four and very nicely explained the difference when I asked him if he meant astronomer. He loves reading, cooking, anything to do with military history (especially the Civil War) and any and all things LEGO. His favorite subject at school (aside from recess) is Japanese, and he's also teaching himself Portuguese and Spanish. He starts soccer in two weeks, though that's really just a way to bide his time til ice hockey season starts back up in October. He loves watching the Chicago Blackhawks, going to minor league soccer (Go Indy Eleven!) and baseball (Go Indianapolis Indians!) games, and he can recite sports trivia and scores almost as well as his father. He has won the last five family sports bracket contests in a row, predicting tournament winners (in World Cup soccer, the NHL, and college basketball) with almost as much accuracy as that famous octopus. We have eaten an inordinate amount of crappy Hungry Howie's pizza as a result, since we always play for no-veto restaurant selection rights.

Grr Zelda. Animal lover. Fashion maven.
Future roller girl.
The Girl (aka the Barnacle or Thing 2) is starting first grade. She's only five, but even though she's a year younger than her classmates she can hold her own. She's pretty fierce. She plans to be a veterinarian when she grows up, and she loves animals of all sorts. She spent her summer reading nonfiction books about reptiles, though she doesn't particularly like them because they're not fuzzy. She said it was research. Her favorite band is Fall Out Boy, and I have been informed numerous times that she's sure her favorite television show would be Monster High, if only I would stop ruining her social life and let her watch it. Alas, she's going to have to get by on her looks, because I'm not budging on that crap. As it stands, she can usually be found watching My Little Pony instead. She'll start learning Japanese this school year, but she's been teaching herself Spanish, mostly so she can sass her father (who also taught himself Spanish, so the polyglot gene is well-embedded). She is excited to be moving up to U-8 soccer a year early, mostly thanks to the fact that she spends a gratuitous amount of time either outside practicing or begging to go outside and practice. She can also cut a mean backstroke and butterfly, and she'll probably join a swim team next season. She loves the Blackhawks as much as her brother and father do, but instead of playing hockey she's waiting to be old enough to join the Naptown Roller Girls junior roller derby team. (Only two more years!) She even has a shirt with her derby name on it--Grrr Zelda, in honor of her family nickname, Griselda. Or Zellie, affectionately.

Next week we'll get back to manuscript snippets, I promise! Thanks for indulging my proud mama moment.

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