It’s time to pick some giveaway winners!
So, the winner of ebooks written by my victims as well as a $20 USD gift certificate to the eTailer of the winner’s choice is… Continue reading
It’s time to pick some giveaway winners!
So, the winner of ebooks written by my victims as well as a $20 USD gift certificate to the eTailer of the winner’s choice is… Continue reading
by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin
When we’re writing the first draft of our current WIP, we usually throw in everything we can think of into the outline and MS, then go back through and cull what doesn’t work or drags the story’s timing.
That was the case with two of our scenes from our latest novel, In The Distance, Book Three of our In The Kitchen Series, each of which centered around Thanksgiving. In our minds, we could see the extreme difference between how Tyler and Trevor spend their holidays – one spending it at a homeless shelter; the other spending it surrounded by family and friends, but still feeling incredibly alone. We decided to cut both and save them for outtakes, but Tyler’s interaction with Sophie in the following scene still remains one of my favorite scenes we’ve written. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into Tyler’s past ☺
~ Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin
As soon as there was a break in the line, I took a moment to grab a drink of water. I was already sweating, despite the frigid temperature outside, and my day here had just started. Combined with the heat from the kitchen ovens and service line, I was roasting. I wiped my face off with a towel and pondered opening up the back door to let some heat out. The directors had cranked up the heat inside the shelter since warm clothes and jackets were a rarity for most of the people who frequented the center. Something I had firsthand knowledge of.
Tamara called out, “Tyler, the line’s backing up.”
I gave the shelter manager a look of apology and returned back to my place at the hot food station. Quickly, I changed out an empty pan for a hotel pan full of green bean casserole and restocked the rolls. Working the line in the restaurant had become second nature to me, but I could remember a time when I’d been amazed at the volume of food the shelter cranked out. Before I started volunteering, when I was a scared, homeless teenage looking for my next meal and safe place to stay, I had always been in amazed at how many people needed food. Not just on holidays like today, but every day. Tray after tray, the staff scooped food onto plates to ensure the mostly smiling—sometimes grumpy—people who came to the shelter had at least one meal in their stomachs. Volunteering here had been one of the best decisions I’d made since I’d gotten back on feet after my parents kicked me out. It gave me the ability to help people and feel like I was making a difference in someone’s life.
“Mommy, I don’t like green beans.”
The small voice drew me out of my own thoughts and back on the line.
“But Sophie, these look delicious. They even have cheese on them like you like. Just try them. I’m sure you’ll like them.”
“I already know don’t like them.”
The older woman’s voice lowered as she kneeled next to her daughter. “Baby, we need to eat when we can, okay?”
The small girl, maybe four or five years-old with wavy blonde hair and big blue eyes, clutched the hand of the worn-looking woman in the ragged sweatshirt and jeans. When the green beans were placed on her tray, she made another face. “I still know I won’t like them.” She was quiet and sad as they moved to the next station in the line.
Before they got too far away, I leaned across the serving line and smiled trying to keep my voice soft and friendly. “I’ll tell you a little secret. I don’t like green beans either. How about you try a few bites to make sure whether you like them or not, but I’ll get you an extra roll just in case you don’t.” I looked up at her mom and smiled, adding, “If that’s okay with your Mom?”
Her mom nodded and gave me a wan smile as I snuck the extra roll onto Sophie’s plate. Sophie shot me a shy look and darted behind her Mom’s legs and held on.
“Soph, you have to let go so I can carry our food, okay?”
The little girl released her mom’s leg and they both disappeared down the line and into the crowded dining room area where the tables had been set with donated festive decorations. I took a break from the serving line to make a circuit of the dining area.
For the next few minutes, I made my way through the dining area picking up dirty trays and offering to get refills on drinks. This wasn’t the restaurant and I wasn’t getting paid for any of the work I was doing today, but it felt good to give back and help make at least one day less stressful for the diners. There were a fair number of homeless people here today, usually identified by the fact that their clothing never seemed to fit well and was always lacking in any kind of style or coordination. But there were also a depressingly high number of families present, as well. The number of parents with small kids showing up at the shelter for meals had been steadily growing over the past year, with a few of them coming in on a weekly basis.
I spotted Sophie and her mom at a table in the back corner of the room. As I moved closer, I noticed the green beans were still on her plate, but both rolls and the turkey were gone. She had her head on the table on top of her folded arms, wearing the same sad expression I’d seen when she came through the line.
Her mom looked up from her plate just as I reached their table, the dark rings under her eyes more prominent now that I wasn’t distracted keeping up with the flow of the line and the blazing heat from the ovens. I smiled at her before bending down to squat next to Sophie.
“Hey squirt. How were the rolls?”
Her eyes widened when she realized she was the squirt I was referring to. She looked to her mom to make sure she could talk to me, and once she got a small nod of approval, she looked back at me and shrugged. “They were good but the green beans were nasty.”
I failed miserably at holding back my snort just as mother gasped, “Sophie. That’s not polite. Today is a day to be thankful we have food on our plates, not to be picky about what the food is.”
Sophie’s big blue eyes conveyed just how much this Thanksgiving sucked for her and her mom, and honestly I couldn’t blame her for not liking the green beans. I’d hated them as a kid and still couldn’t stomach them as an adult. I leaned forward and whispered loud enough for her mom to hear me too. “I can’t stand green beans either. They’re the one part of Thanksgiving I could happily do without. Wanna know the one thing I look forward to every year, though?”
Sophie lifted her head from her arms and nodded her head slowly, whispering back, “What is it?”
I fought back a grin and forced the most serious expression onto my face, still whispering, “Pie.”
She nodded again, her eyes opening even wider. “Me too. My granny used to make the best pumpkin pie.”
“Well, I happen to know that there’s a slice of pumpkin pie with your name on it waiting right over there. Wanna go with me to pick it out?”
Sophie gasped in excitement, as if suddenly this Thanksgiving wasn’t sucking so bad after all and turned in her seat to face her mom. “Oh, Mommy. Can I? Can I go with…?”
She turned back to me and whispered loudly, “What’s your name?”
I lost the battle with my grin and laughed out loud. “Tyler.”
Sophie excitedly turned back around and almost shouted at her mom. “Can I go with Tyler to get some pie? Can I? Please?”
Her mom’s tired eyes crinkled a little at the corner as she nodded. “Sure, baby.”
As Sophie scrambled out her seat, her mom caught my eye and mouthed, “Thank you.” I nodded and then turned all my attention to the little girl next to me, smiling widely when she slipped her tiny hand into mine and began to drag me off toward the dessert station. My smile started to fade, however, when memories came surging back of another small hand that had, at one time, fit perfectly in mine.
Had my younger brother and sister ever asked my parents about me? Had he wondered where I disappeared to? Did he and Megan even miss me? Or had my parents told them about how much of a pervert I was, convincing both my siblings their lives were much better without me there to humiliate and disgrace them all?
“Tyler?” A small tug on my hand brought me back to the little girl standing next to me. “Which piece has my name on it?” She looked back at her mom and whispered again. “I can’t read yet, even though Mommy is trying really hard to teach me.”
Pushing the memories of my siblings aside, I made a point of searching the dessert table for the perfect slice. Almost hidden behind a section of apple pie slices was a large, perfectly cut slice of pumpkin pie. I let go of Sophie’s hand and reached over the table to pull it closer to us, took out a pen from the pocket of my apron and printed her name in the neatest scrawl I could manage.
When I held the pie out to her, her answering smile was radiant. “That’s my name!” She turned back toward the table where we had just come from and screamed across the dining room, “Mom! It has my name on it!”
I almost lost my balance when she tackle hugged my knees, then watched as she grabbed the plate and sped off to her mom to show off her very own piece of pie. I took one last look at Sophie, who was now curled up in her mom’s lap. They were in the middle of a shelter with people they didn’t know celebrating Thanksgiving, but at least they had each other. It was more than a lot of people had at this time of year.
With a sigh, I turned around and grabbed a cup of water from the drink station. Ethan and Jamie had each other, and although I counted myself lucky to have them as my friends, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was still an outsider. They’d never made me feel that way, but the holidays had always been a time for family. Real family. Real family that didn’t hate you for who you loved.
I shook my head in an attempt to drive off the memories of a past I was no longer connected to. Today was a day to be grateful, and if making one little girl smile over a piece of pie was how I spent my Thanksgiving, I’d take it.
© Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin
Tyler Mitchell has worked hard to rebuild his life after his family kicked him out. A culinary student and sous chef who spends his spare time volunteering with kids, he’s happy enough even though he has no time to consider a relationship.
Trevor Pratt is finally getting over losing the one person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, but it’s taken screwing every cute guy in Manhattan to get there. He’s vowed to repair the friendship he broke along the way, but that’s hard to do when his friend’s new employee catches his eye. Despite being warned to stay away from Tyler, Trevor turns on the charm.
Romance is a terrible idea. Trevor is ten years older and a relentless playboy. Tyler is still unsure of his place in the world. Neither of them is ready for life-changing love, but as things heat up, their chemistry in the bedroom might just take that decision out of their hands.
Eileen Griffin lives in the southwest, but loves to travel and has spent many summers crossing Europe with nothing but a backpack on her back. She enjoys TexMex, lives for good wine, and has a certain penchant for purple unicorns. She loves reading all genres of books, but her current obsession is writing M/M romance.
Nikka Michaels lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest where she spends her time cooking, laughing and crafting romantic tales to satisfy her craving for HEAs with heat. A voracious reader, novice knitter and music lover she’s been known to multitask without breaking a sweat. She loves to read and write M/M romance but believes everyone deserves a love story.
Nikka & Eileen have graciously offered up an eBook copy of In the Distance to one lucky winner!! The giveaway starts now and ends June 20, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway, except to verify your Rafflecopter entry.
Don’t forget to check out Nikyta’s review of In the Distance to see what she thought of it!
by Eileen Griffin & Nikka Michaels
In our experience, people usually fall into two groups: Foodies and Non-Foodies. Non-Foodies tend to eat to live, whereas Foodies completely and whole-heartedly live to eat. We definitely fall into the latter category. Whether it’s trying out a new dish, walking through a farmer’s market and drooling over all the homemade/homegrown food in the stalls, or scrolling through multiple sites for *just* the right recipe, we simply love making (and yes, eating) good food.
When we first met several years ago, we did the typical swapping of favorite authors and favorite books. Soon, though, our conversations devolved into, “So, what are you making for dinner?” and “I’m looking for a good pasta recipe. Do you know of a good one for me to try?” We even sometimes take pictures of what we’re eating/making and send them to each other. We’re weird. We’ve known that for awhile now 😉
Eileen: We’d been swapping recipes for a month or so when our conversation drifted to Food TV. I’m not a big TV watcher, so I was pretty clueless about most of the newer shows. I loved “Man vs. Food” and a few of the travel shows that involved food, but that was about it. Then Nik told me I had to watch “Chopped”. I had no clue what it was, but set up my DVR to record an episode. It only took five minutes and I was hooked. The different ingredients, the time limits, the amazing dishes the contestants create – all of it sucked me in and I’ve been an avid watcher ever since.
Nikka: I laughed the first time Eileen texted me to tell me she’d actually watched an episode of “Chopped”. She was like a kid in a candy store, going through her On Demand list of them, trying to watch as many as she could. It’s not out of the ordinary for her to tweet me saying, “I might be a tad bit addicted to ‘Chopped’. Thanks Nikka Michaels.”
It wasn’t long after that we decided to collaborate on a novella idea Nik had had that revolved around two young chefs. (Yes folks, we said novella. Once we started, we knew Ethan and Jamie had so much more going on with them than what could be contained in a novella.) And hence, In The Raw and In The Fire were born, and we’re almost halfway through Book Three in the In The Kitchen series, which will be released in 2015. We still love watching cooking shows and will often call or tweet each other with, “Oh my god! Did you see what they did with the eel on this week’s episode?” Or “Weren’t the kids on the ‘Teen Chopped’ episode adorable? They would totally kick our asses in the kitchen. Just sayin’.”
We get inspiration for the dishes we use in our books from everywhere. TV shows (even non-foodie ones because characters on dramas and comedies still have to eat, right?), magazine articles, the web, and our friends. We even have a friend with whom we share special goodies with through the mail, because who doesn’t like to get a goodie package every now and then? The following recipe was one of the ones Jamie cooks when he and Ethan go back to the culinary institute for a charity event. We knew when we saw it that it had to be a part of our book. It’s super easy to make and is a perfect way to enjoy a lazy Sunday with family or friends. Bon appetite!
Almond French Toast
Place almonds in a small saucepan over low heat. Tossing frequently, toast until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, salt, baking powder, almond extract and vanilla extract. Soak bread slices in the mixture until saturated. Place slices in a shallow pan. Refrigerate slices approximately 1 hour.
Heat canola oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. One at a time, press one side of soaked bread slices in the almonds to coat. Fry bread slices on both sides until golden brown. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.
Buttered Maple-Bourbon Syrup
Bring maple syrup and softened butter to a boil in medium saucepan.
Stir in 1 tablespoon bourbon whiskey or extract.
Serve warm over French Toast.
~Nikka and Eileen
If you can’t take the heat…
James Lassiter has had a crush on fellow culinary student Ethan Martin for three years, but has never had the guts to make a move. Putting himself out there is hard, especially when under the thumb–and wallet–of his overbearing parents. Now that bad boy chef Ethan–who is always vying with Jamie for best in class–is struggling with the pastry course, Jamie suddenly has a reason to reach out.
Ethan doesn’t mean to be an ass–okay, so mostly he does–but even though he’s secretly hot for Jamie, he sure as hell doesn’t want help with pastry. Ever since his dad walked out, Ethan has been the one to hold things together and he’s done fine on his own. Except that he can’t get his cake to rise.
Jamie could be the answer to what Ethan’s been missing his whole life–someone to depend on. But with the two competing for the same scholarship, things suddenly get too hot to handle. And if Jamie finds the strength to go for what he wants, he isn’t about to settle for what he needs.
Because the way to a man’s heart…
Eight years ago, the world was their oyster. Until, that is, competing chefs Ethan Martin and James Lassiter’s hot and heavy relationship fizzled after Jamie left for an internship in Paris. Even though Jamie’s career has taken off since his return to the States, with his own television show and a lot of fame, his feelings for Ethan have never quite gone away.
Ethan’s culinary career has developed more slowly, but he’s almost saved enough to buy the restaurant where he works and re-open it as his dream spot, Bistro 30. If only he could get the sexy chef who loved him and left him out of his mind.
But when someone starts sabotaging the restaurant and a fire threatens to take away everything Ethan holds dear, his only option is to rely on Jamie for help. Back in close quarters, the two men will have to find a way to work through their past if they hope to save the restaurant and their future.
Eileen Griffin lives in the southwest, but loves to travel and has spent many summers crossing Europe with nothing but a backpack on her back. She enjoys TexMex, lives for good wine, and has a certain penchant for purple unicorns. She loves reading all genres of books, but her current obsession is writing M/M romance. Her past published works include: Chasing Matt, a M/M novella co-authored with Nikka Michaels, Dinner For Two, a M/F romance novella, “Claiming Ayden”, a M/M shifter romance that is part of Evenight’s Alpha’s Claim Anthology: M/M Edition, and “Lost and Found”, a short story written for the M/M Romance Group’s Don’t Read in the Closet: Love’s Landscapes Event. Eileen is currently working on a new M/M series set in a Bed and Breakfast with Nikka Michaels, as well as several other projects both individual and co-authored.
Nikka Michaels lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest where she spends her time cooking, laughing and crafting romantic tales to satisfy her craving for HEAs with heat. A voracious reader, novice knitter and music lover she’s been known to multitask without breaking a sweat. She loves to read and write M/M romance but believes everyone deserves a love story. She currently has several releases out including, Chasing Matt, a M/M novella co-authored with Eileen Griffin, Christmas with Caden, a M/F romance novella from Cobblestone Press, “Waking up Wolf”, a M/M shifter romance in Evernight Publishing’s Alpha’s Claim: Manlove Edition anthology, and the MM series which includes, Mile High Service, Room Service and Lip Service from Cobblestone Press’ Blue line. She also has a short story, “His Assistant” in Evernight Publishing’s best-selling Executive Assistant: Manlove Edition anthology.