It’s NaNoWriMo ya’ll! In laymen’s terms, that’s National Novel Writing Month. It comes around every November and, as I said in a prior post, I’m ‘sort of’ participating. I’m not doing all of the word count hoops and all of that jazz. I’m not even trying to get to 50,000 words – the goal for the month for those officially doing the challenge. I’m just trying to get my lesfic sweet romance novella, Christmas Cakes and Kisses out the door and to the editor before the end of the month!
It’s a story I dreamed up last year as I was putting the finishing touches on the 9th book in the Morelville Mystery series, The Turkey Tussle. It plays off a scene in that book but it completely stands alone. I really wanted to release it last year but time got away from me. Not this time!
Check out the blurb and then scroll down for a ‘taste’ of Chapter 1…
Christmas Cakes and Kisses
Two different worlds brought together by cake…
When Hannah Yoder left the Amish order at 17, she didn’t know what life had in store for her. She just knew she wanted to be free to be herself. Four years later, with the support of a loving family of choice, an adopted son entering full-on toddlerhood and a new bakery starting to do well, she felt like she had almost everything. Almost. After a previous relationship fizzled out over different life goals, she decided to focus on her son, her business and completing culinary school before she gave any more thought to finding someone new to share her life with.
Morgan Barber has secrets. She hopes culinary school will be her ticket out of the life she hides from the world; a life she wants so desperately to leave behind. With her home life a constant nightmare, a career in chef’s whites seems like a beautiful dream. She doesn’t dare dream of anything beyond that for herself.
Assigned to work on a Christmas cake baking project together, the two young women are reluctant at first but then they begin to form a bond. Just when Hannah thinks she may have found a spark of the one thing missing in her life; that maybe she can have a relationship with Morgan, the other woman draws away and contemplates changing course entirely.
Can they come together and find joy in the season of joy?
This is a New Adult (NA) themed sweet romance, in more ways than one. There will be lots of cake and a few kisses but no sex. It’s not that sort of story. Go ahead and read it anyway. I promise you, you’ll get the whole ‘family, friends and love’ theme I’ve become known for and you’ll never miss it.
Still with me? Here’s a snippet of Chapter 1 to whet your appetite:
Saturday Evening, November 7th
Zanesville Technical College and Culinary Institute
“Good evening, Chef,” the twenty-four students standing at workstations called back to Chef Tomas Fourneir, in near unison.
“We’ve been working pastry for the last month. You’ve all done well.” He glanced around the room, his eyes lingering on a few students.
Hannah couldn’t hold his gaze. She looked away, toward the older woman she shared a workstation with, Sandra Teeter. Sandy scooted her right foot toward Hannah’s left and gave it an encouraging tap.
Hannah blushed and looked away from Sandy too, back toward Chef Tomas. He’d moved on and he was smiling at Sandy.
“Who is ready for cake?” he asked in a more excited tone than his usual more measured one. Hannah smiled and nodded. Sandy did too. It’s what they were both really in culinary school for and they’d talked about it often.
The chef rubbed his hands together. “In class, we’re going to go through all of the usual exercises and modules.” He emphasized, ‘in class’. “This year, unlike in previous years, we have a special project right out of the gate, as well. A very special project.”
Hannah and Sandy glanced at each other, Sandy with one eyebrow cocked. “Bring it on,” Sandy mouthed to her table mate.
The younger, strawberry blond, couldn’t help but chuckle at the 40 plus-year-old woman who’d spent all of her adult life toiling in commercial kitchens, baking up a storm and getting none of the credit. Her enthusiasm was contagious.
Sandy was the only person in the class who knew about her bakery. She’d said she made it her business to know all the competition in Zanesville and the surrounding area when she showed up at the shop one day, unannounced and not a bit surprised to find Hannah at the helm. Hannah didn’t even think the chef knew about her store. Every time she thought about telling him she shuddered from the pressure to perform that she was sure would follow.
“First, I’m going to pair you with another student,” Chef Fourneir said. “The project will be a team effort; therefore we will proceed through cakes as pairs.”
The two women glanced at each other.
“I’m picking,” he continued as a low rumble rose in the room. The class grew quiet again when he stepped toward the front workstation to his left. “Mr. Clay,” he addressed the student facing him on the right, “please step aside.”
Fourneir waited while Randy Clay picked up his knife kit and his class binder and moved before turning toward the workstations to his right. He looked past the two front tables and focused on the table where Hannah and Sandy stood. “Ms. Teeter,” he called to Sandy, “please take Mr. Clay’s place here.” He placed a hand on the now vacant workstation.
Hannah grimaced but she didn’t dare look at Sandy. Instead, she imagined having Randy as her baking partner. He was good with pastry and a hard worker. She swallowed, drew in a breath and then, as she let it out, half smiled at the man, as he waited in the aisle, watching Sandy gather her belongings.
The chef didn’t place Randy at Sandy’s former workstation. Instead, he zigzagged among the twenty-four students and their stations, moving people here and there until there was only one student left standing in an aisle, sans partner, Morgan Barber.
Hannah swallowed again, harder this time as Fourneir directed Morgan toward her. She didn’t know anything about Morgan. They hadn’t talked other than to say ‘hello’ or ‘excuse me’ in passing. Morgan didn’t really talk to anyone, always going off by herself when they would get a break in class.
Watch for Christmas Cakes and Kisses to go on pre-sale at a low, low price in early December. And, if you’re on my ARC team, watch your email for a chance to read it free.
There are other discounts and freebies on the horizon from me and from lots of my author friends…especially my lesfic author friends. Want to hear about those? Sign up on the right for my email newsletter. I won’t spam you but I will offer you some amazing deals. Promise!