Thank you for having me! I’m thrilled to be visiting Hearts on Fire to talk about my holiday story, Holiday Weekend, Buchanan House: Book Five.
When I contacted Hearts on Fire to host me on this tour, I asked what kind of post they would like. It’s only polite, like asking the host of a potluck what sort of dish to bring. The request I got was for an embarrassing holiday story. That turned out to be much harder to write than I thought it would be. I may be a pantser when I write fiction, but other areas of my life I plan down to the last detail to avoid surprises. Surprises that might have been entertaining to share on a blog tour! I do have one, though, even if it is a little boring.
In my family, we have an informal tradition of food mishaps around the holidays. When I was little my favorite aunt dropped a Thanksgiving turkey on her foot and broke it. Her foot, not the turkey. My holiday food story is more embarrassing than painful.
When my daughter was little I hosted her grandparents for breakfast on Christmas morning so they could watch her open her presents. Back in those days I loved cooking and made most of our food from scratch. I was especially proud of Christmas breakfasts, a wreath of cinnamon rolls decorated with icing and something a little different every year. One year I added candied cranberries and it looked so pretty. But this story isn’t about that year.
In this story, we all sat down with our coffee and cinnamon rolls and watched the kiddo dig into her stocking. It didn’t take long before everyone started to ask what I’d done differently. The rolls tasted very different, light and sweet… but I hadn’t done anything special that year. Still, the rolls didn’t taste the way they usually did, because I’d forgotten to add cinnamon to the cinnamon rolls.
I know, it’s not exciting, but it was very embarrassing for twenty-something me, and some of the people who were there told and re-told that story for years afterward.
To make up for that weak story, here’s a long exclusive excerpt from Holiday Weekend, a scene were Ryan cooks and doesn’t forget any of the key ingredients.
This excerpt takes place on Thanksgiving morning. Ryan and Glenn have just arrived at their volunteer gig for the day.
But then we were walking up to a three-story building on the last street between the business district and a residential area. The building looked a little Victorian, maybe—it had a lot of fancy details that someone smarter (someone like Glenn) probably knew the names of. The front door was bordered in stone and could’ve been a storefront, but we didn’t go through it. Glenn led me around the side to a smaller door that almost looked like a side door to someone’s home. He knocked, and in the few seconds before the door opened, I looked around and saw a driveway in back that sloped toward the house, maybe a delivery bay for the basement. That seemed odd, but then the door opened and a tall blond guy ushered us inside a kitchen that rivaled any of the restaurants I’d worked in.
But the blond guy was talking, so I quit gaping at the kitchen like a dumb hick and listened. He introduced himself as Evan, the volunteer coordinator for the day. Evan looked a little familiar, but before I could figure out where we would’ve met, more people introduced themselves and the question got lost in a sea of names I had no hope of remembering.
One thing I’m sure I’ll always remember, though, was the way the head chef talked to me. The guy had to be sixty or better and had no doubt been handsome in his prime. He asked if I had any experience, and when I hesitated he pressed an apron into my hand.
“I could use some help with the pies,” he said. He leaned close and whispered, “Larry,” into my ear. “In case you missed it.”
I nodded and tied the apron around my waist. Glenn had already started chopping celery at an island, and beside him sat a mountain of vegetables. Glenn shot a quick grin my way and then went back to chopping.
“If you need a recipe….”
“What kind of pies are you making?”
“We have a full house, so I thought we’d do four. Two pumpkin and one each apple and cherry. You okay starting the crust?”
“For all four?”
Larry dumped most of the contents of a large bag of flour into the bowl of a mixer with a fragrant yeast mixture in it. “All four or one at a time. It’s your show, kid.”
“Why do you think I can—”
“Because you didn’t say you can’t.” Larry winked and pulled the bowl off the stand and into his arms. He started stirring with a thick wooden spoon, muscles bulging as he worked. He nodded to another large bowl on the counter near where I stood.
As I moved toward the bowl, I realized Larry was wearing a net over his white hair. I turned to ask if I should use one too and saw that Larry’s hair hung in a braid halfway down his back. Larry smiled and turned the dough out of his bowl onto a thick wooden board. He looked like he wasn’t even going to use the mixer at all. Whatever he was making smelled wonderful and inspired me to start on the piecrust. The déjà vu almost choked me at first—I’d always helped Mom with the pies.
I resisted the urge to wallow in the sadness of missing Thanksgiving with the family. Barely. I did indulge in a few memories as I cut the butter into the dough—the first year I’d made all the pies myself, the year all the uncles and both sets of grandparents had made it back to town for dinner, and the year the dog (not my dog, Rick’s dog—Prin would never have done that) had grabbed the turkey off the counter while it was resting. The Orchard family hadn’t always been the closest, but we did get together for all the big holidays and supported each other whenever anyone needed a hand.
Ryan Orchard moved from small-town Idaho to Portland almost two years ago and still feels like a hick. When Paulie Nesbitt dumped him, he wasn’t even surprised. Despite losing twenty-five pounds since then, Ryan’s confidence is nonexistent and his life has stalled. Not only is he convinced the career he wants is beyond his reach, he’s given up on relationships. A new job at a familiar restaurant—and his gorgeous coworker—could be just what Ryan needs to believe in himself again.
Glenn Hernandez might be the only nineteen-year-old in Portland who dreads his days off. Between his horrible housing situation and the ever-present temptation to crawl back into the bottle, Glenn prefers to keep busy. He volunteers at the Elliott Foundation House, a homeless shelter helping LGBTQ sex workers. As an alum of the shelter, Glenn finds it hard to leave his past behind. But when the new server at the trendy restaurant where he works catches Glenn’s eye and works his way into his heart, Glenn finally has a reason to start a new life.
Rafflecopter Giveaway, December 15-30:
Prize #1: signed paperback and swag (US only, winner’s choice: Tiny House or Safe House)
Prize #2: backlist book (any ebook except Holiday Weekend; worldwide)
Buy Holiday Weekend:
Dreamspinner Press (ebook): https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/holiday-weekend-by-charley-descoteaux-7892-b
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N7ANUI9/
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-holidayweekend-2179413-149.html
Dreamspinner Press, Buchanan House series page: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/buchanan-house-6311-s
About the author:
Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. She has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.
Rattle Charley’s cages:
Rainbow Snippets Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/
@QueerBlogWed on Twitter: #QueerBlogWed or https://twitter.com/QueerBlogWed
Series: Buchanan House
Book Number: 5
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 16, 2016
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase