OMG. Is it the end already? Wow, what a fun blog tour this has been. We’ve had blogs from very different writers, with very different styles, but all with one thing in common: they all had a story appear in Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance & Erotica!
This anthology (and All You Can Eat, the volume that it followed) was really fun to work on. It teams up the genres of romance and erotica with one of my favorite topics—FOOD!
Our authors did a great job of incorporating food into their stories and in such different ways. From dinner parties to meals for two, from cooking shows to cooking disasters, from an army mess to a chocolate shop, these stories run the gamut of plots and settings.
I’ve been a fan of the Food Network for a long time and cooking competitions like Chopped fascinate me. As someone who’s been a food writer and recipe developer, it’s so exciting to see the contestants open up their baskets and pull out the mystery ingredients. I then start to formulate in my head what I would make with those ingredients, and even dare, on occasion, to compare my creations to those of the chefs on the show.
While I don’t see myself entering competitions like that, I often fantasize about it. What would it be like? What strange and exotic ingredients would I have to contend with? What would I end up making? How would the judges react?
And what if there were a hot, sexy chef competing against me? What would that be like? Would it be so distracting that I’d hate every minute of it, or would it be so exciting that it would turn up the heat on everything and make it an awesome experience? It’s one of those fantasy scenarios that will probably never happen…so why not make it happen?
That’s one of the nice things about being a writer—you can take your fantasies and express them, and make them happen in all the ways you want them to. I’ve heard it said that you’re better off not actually acting out your fantasies because they can often be disappointing, not quite the experiences you thought they would be. But when you write about your fantasies, they are just as exciting, thrilling, adventurous, and satisfying as you’d hoped. Maybe even better.
So that’s what inspired me to write “Sliced and Diced,” my contribution to Order Up (EXCERPT BELOW). In that story, the main character, Rhea, is up against three other contestants in a three-part cooking competition. The prize is $20,000 prize…and maybe the affection of one of the other chefs—sexy, exciting, creative Anya. But Rhea is insecure and doesn’t know if she has what it takes to win either prize. When Anya reveals to the judges why she’s competing, Rhea wonders if, of the two prizes, Anya isn’t the more difficult one to win.
So, the questions become: Will Rhea win the competition? Will she win Anya? What will she make with the circus peanuts and tarantula bladders? The answers to these questions and more when you read…
Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance & Erotica!
Excerpt from “Sliced and Diced”
Rhea tapped her foot with such velocity that the others eyed her with obvious annoyance. She cracked her knuckles instead, but that didn’t seem to go over very well, either.
The wait to go in front of the cameras seemed like an eternity. The four contestants for Sliced & Diced paced, texted, and did whatever they could to distract themselves. Or maybe they were trying to focus.
Rhea’s phone vibrated. She pulled it out of her back pocket and looked at it. It was a message from her sister: Good luck! You’re going to burn them! Rhea sent a message of thanks, then put her phone back in her pocket. The digital clock on the wall counted down to show time, and her guts did a routine not unlike the last time she had really bad fast food. Her arms began trembling and she hoped she’d get through this day without humiliating herself.
She turned to the door and met eyes with one of her opponents, a tall woman, her back straight and her jaw set. She looked serious and formidable.
The other two contestants included Tim, twenty-something, who seemed brash and arrogant. Rhea knew the type—talented and technically adept, but lacking the vision and diversity that comes with experience. John was perhaps in his forties. She knew his type too—well rounded and skilled, but insecure about going up against the new guard.
Rhea knew that feeling well. In her late thirties, she wasn’t too far behind him.
The other woman—Rhea thought her name was Anya—appeared confident, maybe a little audacious, but she also glanced at the clock. They all did. In just a few minutes, they were all going to go out in front of cameras to prove their culinary merit for a $20,000 prize. Even the most die-hard competitor would sweat.
The stagehand gave them the five-minute warning. Rhea’s stomach lurched, and the others didn’t look as though they were faring much better.
Finally, they were given their instructions: When you hear your name, turn the corner, walk down the corridor and onto the set, and get into position behind a work station.
Rhea seriously considered bolting.
Then she heard her name. Nerves and pride propelled her around the corner. She went to the third work station, and a moment later Anya took the fourth. At least Rhea wasn’t the only female contestant. On the other hand, Anya was very attractive, and very distracting. Rhea swallowed. Time to focus.
The hostess of the show introduced herself and ran down the rules, even though they had already been fully informed. There were baskets at each work station containing the secret ingredients required for the first round. From these, they had to create an appetizer for three judges—all renowned chefs—and a presentation dish for the cameras. Upon the signal, they all opened their baskets and pulled out the items.
“Time starts now,” the hostess announced with flare, and the four chefs began scrambling for equipment and additional ingredients.
Rhea worked furiously to get her dish completed in the allotted time, and before long her head was pounding and her face was slick with sweat. She had probably never moved so fast in her life.
And just like that, their time was up. She looked at the clock, not really believing that twenty minutes could possibly have passed that quickly. She let out a deep breath and wiped her brow, confident in her plate’s appearance. But when she looked over at Anya’s plate, she knew she was facing fierce competition. The competitors stood in front of the judges, explained what they had made, then marched out.
To order a copy of Order Up:
Seriously, dear readers. Thank you all so much for joining us on this tour. I hope you got to read something new and different from your favorite writers and got introduced some new ones. If you haven’t read all the blogs, here’s the listing of who blogged where.
June 6: Andi Marquette, blogging at her site (The Situation Room).
June 13: Cheri Crystal, blogging at Andi Marquette’s site.
June 14: CK Combs, blogging at Butchtastic.net.
June 15: Liz McMullen, blogging at her site.
June 16: Marie Sterling, blogging at HERE.
June 17: Rebekah Weatherspoon, blogging at her site.
June 20: Jaye Markham, blogging at Andi Marquette‘s site.
June 21: Emma Weimann, at Andi Marquette‘s site
June 22: N.R. Dunham, blogging at her site.
June 23: Pascal Scott, at R.G. Emanuelle‘s site.
June 24: R.G. Emanuelle, blogging at her site.
A project like this is a labor of love. As it’s been said many times over Women & Words (by me, Andi Marquette, and Sacchi Green), an anthology requires a lot of organization and patience. But when you love the subject matter and you’re honored with great stories from great writers, it becomes more than work. It becomes a project of the soul.
I hope you all feel it when you read Order Up.