The Sweetest Apple
Here’s the cover of my newest release in the Second Chance series, The Sweetest Apple. It’s the fourth e-book in the series, it’s a 27,000 word novella, and it’s being launched today as a .99 e-book in most of the popular venues where e-books are sold.
You can find it here on Smashwords, and I’ll update with more links as I get them. (It takes a while for these things to upload and I’m never sure how long it will be with anyone.) For those who aren’t familiar with Smashwords, there’s an adult content filter at the top right corner on the homepage you have to click in order to see erotic romances. It’s simple to do…as long as you know it’s there. (I didn’t at first.)
There’s also a blurb with all the links, and an excerpt. And I’m posting another free excerpt below right now that you won’t find on any web sites other than this.
Update: purchase link for allromanceebooks.com
Update 2: purchase link for Amazon (thanks to social media I found out before Amazon notified me this time)
This is an excerpt from Chapter Four of The Sweetest Apple.
The one thing Matty would always remember about his first day in New Orleans would be the multitude of exotic tropical plants strewn throughout the new restaurant that had hired him fresh out of culinary school. He entered La Bonne Auberge through the front door, with his suitcases still in his hands, and glanced around at the narrow tables and rickety chairs shoved in between tall potted palms, rickety ficus trees, and bare wilted hibiscus trees that tried too hard to be topiaries.
The second thing he noticed made him wince, and then blink. The dark walls hiding behind all the trees had been painted in a poor version of the popular art of faux marble finish. The trim was another bad example of faux marble, only lighter and grayer than the walls. Instead of making the striations all go in one direction as with real marble, the artist who had faux finished these walls had taken it upon himself to turn, swirl, and feather his striations in so many different directions Matty wanted to grab a chair to keep from getting dizzy.
As Matty glanced around the main seating area wondering how people could actually sit in such small awkward chairs, he started to have serious second thoughts about moving from New York to New Orleans on impulse. He’d seen an ad for a job that had looked interesting a month earlier. The ad stated the job required chef skills and managerial skills to help a new restaurant owner get his business off the ground. What really impressed Matty the most was the ad also stated the owner wanted to give someone willing to work hard a chance to own a share of the restaurant. At the time, Matty was ready to leave culinary school and involved in a sticky relationship with the elderly male instructor who had paid his way through school. The elderly man had been suggesting Matty move in with him and they open a restaurant together. But Matty didn’t see himself sucking old balls for the next ten or twenty years of his life. So he jumped at the chance to get away from New York as fast as he could. Only he hadn’t done any research about this restaurant in New Orleans.
When he set his suitcases down on the crooked wooden floor, he heard a squeak and looked up to find the door leading to the kitchen open. A fair-haired young man wearing a white apron entered the main seating area and sent him a startled glance. A second later, the young man smiled and said, “I’m Archie Bartholomew. Welcome to La Bonne Auberge.”
Matty smiled and walked toward him. He extended his right hand and said, “I’m Matthew Allan. Everyone calls me Matty. It’s nice to meet you.”
Archie must have thought he was a customer. He lifted his chin and said, “I didn’t expect you this early. It’s nice to finally meet you.” They’d been corresponding through telephone calls and written letters. Archie had an e-mail account, but Matty didn’t actually get his own e-mail account until l998, about four years later.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Bartholomew,” Matty said.
“Call me Archie. Did you have a good trip down?”
“Very nice,” Matty said. It was the worst trip he’d ever taken. He didn’t own a car, and in order to save money he’d taken a bus. The woman behind him had two of the most annoying children he’d ever come across. He still wasn’t sure which was worse: the whining or the crying.
Archie extended his arms and looked around the main seating area and said, “So what do you think of the place?”
Matty pressed his palm to his stomach and looked around again. Trying to be as tactful as possible, he smiled and said, “You have so many tropical plants.”
Archie’s face beamed with pride. “I wanted to go with that old Katherine Hepburn movie theme, from Suddenly Last Summer. I’m glad you noticed.”
“Wasn’t Suddenly Last Summer that dark movie with Elizabeth Taylor where she’s in a mental ward?” Matty asked. He wasn’t certain. He’d seen parts of the movie once and it had bored him to death. The thought of decorating a restaurant around that film seemed more like a self-indulgent mistake.
Archie smiled wider and rubbed his palms together. “Yes, it was. And I wanted the restaurant to have that look. I’m big on themes.”
Matty glanced at a drooping hibiscus in a black plastic pot and said, “Yeah, well. I see what you mean.” He figured he’d better change the subject fast before he got into trouble with his new boss. It was too late to do anything at that point. He needed the job to survive. “I haven’t even stopped at my new apartment yet. I came here first. I should go there and get settled first and I’ll be back in time to start work in about an hour.”
“Let me show you the kitchen first,” Archie said. “I can’t wait for you to see the specials I came up with for tonight’s crowd.”
Matty forced a smile and said, “I can’t wait,” in a deadpan tone he knew Archie wouldn’t pick up on. And as he followed Archie into the kitchen he mentally prepared himself for the fresh hells he suspected were waiting for him in there.
In spite of the poor design and uncomfortable atmosphere, in the weeks that followed Matty noticed how well Archie planned everything in advance and how accurate he could be with all the financial details involved in running a business. Archie knew how to deal with suppliers and how to negotiate for the best deals. He kept such impeccable records in the back office the shelves behind his desk resembled a public library. Archie even kept every receipt for every purchase he made, and he asked Matty to do the same thing so he could write them off as tax deductions. Archie tended to focus on all the technical details that Matty tended to ignore so he could focus more on the creative aspects of running a high end restaurant in New Orleans.
Archie must have noticed Matty’s flair for all things visual, because he didn’t complain when Matty suggested they remove a few of the potted plants to open up the main seating area. He didn’t complain when more people started eating there every night after Matty suggested they remove all the plants and repaint the walls a nice even shade of taupe with bright white trim. Archie did look at Matty sideways when Matty said they needed new tables and chairs, and he did frown a little when Matty suggested all the floors had to be refinished. But Archie never said no to any of Matty’s requests, and Matty knew it was because Archie smiled the most on his way to the bank every morning to make a deposit.
Within the first six months people were making reservations two and three weeks in advance. Instead of Matty acting as the only chef, they hired a chef so Matty could act as head chef, orchestrate the menus, and spend more time out in the main seating area developing relationships with customers. One morning Archie asked Matty if he could sing and Matty shrugged and said, “A little.” The next day Matty arrived and found a group of men setting up a baby grand piano near the bar. Archie hired a pianist who played a combination of clichéd swing for the tourists and solid New Orleans jazz for the locals. And on occasion, when he was in the mood, Matty would sit on the piano with a microphone and sing corny numbers like Hard Hearted Hannah, and Sweet Georgia Brown, which seemed to please customers.
I have to admit that I’m not always that up to date with awards in anything. (I don’t even watch the Oscars) But when I spotted a few nominations for the 2014 Lambda Awards this year it was nice to see the names of a few authors I read and followed…and even worked with.
One nomination in particular really thrilled me because I read and reviewed the book here
. (It’s nice to know that as a reviewer I was right on target with this one. I loved it.)
That book is Pretty Boy Dead by Jon Michaelsen, an author I’ve known since I first started working with the now defunct e-publisher loveyoudivine.com. Jon is a very articulate author who works hard for perfection. Before the book was released he asked me privately about the cover and I loved it the moment I saw it. You can read my full review at the link above, where there’s also a purchase link. I highly recommend it.
The second nomination that really got to me was for an author I don’t know too much about, but have been following on social media for the past couple of months. The author is T.J. Klune, and the book is Into This River I Drown. Although I haven’t read this one, I have read a few other things by Klune and I’ve always found his voice unique. It’s hard to explain. It’s just different and draws you in.
I’ve posted about Klune several times here on the blog because he and his fiancé, Eric Arvin, have been going through a serious crisis and that crisis hit home for me in so many ways I get emotional just thinking about it. And when someone has been through that kind of hell it’s nice to see the gods of karma working hard to balance all the bad things out with something nice, too. If you’re not familiar with Klune, here’s a link to multiple posts
I’ve done since Christmas.
And third, I was thrilled to see that an editor I’ve been working with for the past year or so was also nominated this time. His name is Winston Giesecke, and his book up for an award is Team Players: Gay Erotic Short Stories.
I’ve had short stories in several of his books, with German publisher, Bruno Gmunder, and I’ve posted multiple times about that here.
I was actually thinking about being a part of Team Players
, but couldn’t do it for lack of time and other deadlines I had at the time.
In any event, Winston has a knack for anthologies and I’m always thrilled to be a part of any of his books.
There’s a full list of all the nominations here
. I noticed a lot of new names this time and that’s refreshing to see. Now if we can only get the LLF to take digital submissions next year for those millions of us who have made the complete switch to digital as both readers and authors.
Twinks: Whoa Dude!
It looks like good old Davey Wavey might have a little strong competition with this one. (When you’re on the wrong side of 30 it’s hard to compete with a twink 🙂 Johnny McGovern has a new web series out that explores hot gay videos and makes you go “Whoa Dude?”
“Whoa, Dude!” is slated to be a 16-part web series with a different theme for each installment. In each episode McGovern picks some of the best gay clips from the depths of the Internet and packages them for your enjoyment. Check out the twinks edition above and the military men feature below.
You can read more here
, and check out the vids. I am getting more and more into the whole web series thing, but it takes a lot to make me say “Whoa Dude!” But these videos are very entertaining even if you don’t say “Whoa Dude!”