The Connection Between Food & Love with Rick R. Reed

May 1, 2015

Food & Love

 

Whenever I read a book and the author mentions that the characters are having a meal (or even a snack), I always, always, always want to know what they’re having. If the author just tells me that the characters just had dinner and gives no details, I’m disappointed. “But what did they eat?” I whine, before flinging the book at the wall.

So when I write a story, I never leave out that important detail. Why? Because what we eat matters. Eating and loving are probably two of the most significant, life-affirming, and joyous activities we can engage in as human beings.

So why on earth wouldn’t you want to know what our couple-about-to-fall-in-love had to eat on their first date?

In my latest, Dinner at Fiorello’s, it’s all about passion—whether that passion is for cooking, for eating, or for someone else, it’s the kind of universal stuff we can all identify with. In the book, I meld my main character, Henry’s, passion for food with him falling in love for the first time.

Through the lens of food and wanting to do something meaningful with his life, he discovers his first real, true love—Vito, the quiet chef with a secret who works at Fiorello’s. Henry aspires to being a chef just like Vito, yet he also comes to fall in love with him. But while he’s falling in love with Vito’s technique in the kitchen and the magical food he makes, Henry is also falling in love with the man. They’re inextricably linked.

There’s a certain alchemy that goes on when one makes good food. It becomes more than the sum of its parts. The same is true of two people in love. That’s what I tried to bring together in my new book. I hope that, just like when you take a bite of something delicious and you sigh and have the instinctive reaction of joy, you’ll have the same experience when you read about Henry and Vito’s torturous but ultimately rewarding path to love. Because, whether you’re cooking or falling in love (or even writing a book), to do it well, you have to do it with your heart.

In closing, I’d like to share with you a little taste from Dinner at Fiorello’s, this taken from when Henry interviews for his job working in the kitchen of Fiorello’s. You can see even at the tender age of eighteen, Henry Appleby understands what makes food—and love—good (here he talks about his family’s housekeeper and cook, Maxine):

“Well, she sees it as more than a means to an end, which is why I love her so much. She sees food as something that isn’t just about filling your belly, but filling your heart. She didn’t just feed me growing up, she nurtured me. She showed me that making food for someone can be a way of showing them you love them.” He looked at Rosalie, trying to make sure she was taking in, understanding what he was saying. “When I understood that, I knew that food can actually be a very powerful thing. I don’t know if I knew it right away on a conscious level, but I knew it. When I was about ten, I began asking her if I could help her make meals. My parents didn’t know what had gotten into me. My father said that I shouldn’t be helping her, because that’s what he paid her for. But I wanted to learn what she did to make her food not only good, but good for the soul.”

 

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BLURB

Henry Appleby has an appetite for life. As a recent high school graduate and the son of a wealthy family in one of Chicago’s affluent North Shore suburbs, his life is laid out for him. Unfortunately, though, he’s being forced to follow in the footsteps of his successful attorney father instead of living his dream of being a chef. When an opportunity comes his way to work in a real kitchen the summer after graduation, at a little Italian joint called Fiorello’s, Henry jumps at the chance, putting his future in jeopardy.

Years ago, life was a plentiful buffet for Vito Carelli. But a tragic turn of events now keeps the young chef at Fiorello’s quiet and secretive, preferring to let his amazing Italian peasant cuisine do his talking. When the two cooks meet over an open flame, sparks fly. Both need a taste of something more—something real, something true—to separate the good from the bad and find the love—and the hope—that just might be their salvation.

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GIVEAWAY!

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Share your most romantic meal, either eating or being served, in the comments below for a chance to win an ebook copy of my other romance that revolves around food, Dinner at Home!

 

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BIO

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Web: http://www.rickrreed.com 

Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks

Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed

E-mail: jimmyfels@gmail.com

 

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BUY LINKS

Dreamspinner ebook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6333

Dreamspinner paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6334

Amazon (to come)

AllRomance Ebooks (to come)

 

 

Wrap up and our winner – (Gerry’s Lion)

April 24, 2015

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Ashavan Doyon here to wrap up and award one of you with the final give-away – an e-book copy of Gerry’s Lion.

As for my quirk? Like Leo, I love the tropical shirts… so much so that they even let me wear them as business attire at work!

LEO LOOKED through his closet. It was hopeless.

“What do I wear?”

“It’s my mama, and my sister, and some kids. Wear something comfortable. It’s not a service.”

“She’s gonna hate me,” muttered Leo, sliding hanger after hanger to one side.

Gerry grasped his arm and turned him, staring at him in that intense way that made all thought flee from his head.

“You’re telling me that John didn’t make one of these for Easter?” Gerry asked, indicating one of the tropical shirts.

“But that’s so casu—”

“It’s you, baby. That’s who I want them to meet. If they’re going to hate you anyway, at least let them hate you for who you are, not someone you make yourself in hope they’ll accept you.”

“But—”

Gerry pulled him close. “I love you, baby, but I watched Adam do this for years. It didn’t help. If it didn’t help him, what’s the point in you repeating the mistakes Adam and I made?”

Leo did have a tropical shirt for Easter. Several. He turned as Gerry released him and with two quick slides had the hanger he needed. Stark black with Fabergé-style eggs covering the surface in metallic colors. Bunnies hopped along the bottom hem. How John had justified the custom print, Leo still didn’t know. Leo pulled the shirt out and held it against his bare torso. “The neck is low. They’ll see….”

Gerry reached in and pulled out a lavender turtleneck.

Leo shook his head. “Not on your life.”

“Another color, then? That tan would match the bunny rabbits.” Gerry hung up the shirt and pulled out another. “Come on. It’s not that bad. Aren’t layers supposed to be in? Anyway, you’re wearing tropical shirts. How fashion conscious can you claim to be?”

And our winner? Denise Dechene. Please email me at ashavandoyon@gmail.com and let me know what email you use for your Dreamspinner bookshelf. We’ll get Gerry’s Lion added for you.

Thanks everyone for attending. I’ll stick around for a little while to answer any lingering questions. I hope you learned something about Gerry’s Lion and I want to take this final opportunity to ask you to buy the book:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6305 – it’s still on sale until April 28!

Brown Eggs in the Woods — (Gerry’s Lion)

April 24, 2015

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Ashavan Doyon here, celebrating the release of Gerry’s Lion.

It wouldn’t be fair to talk about family traditions without speaking to my own. For me the tradition is for Easter. And while I’ve made up a lot of the traditions Gerry and Leo speak about, this one comes from my own family–so we have a little bit of an excerpt from the middle of the story:

“It’s just Easter,” Gerry said. He was trying to be reassuring. It was sweet. Also terrifying.

“Yeah. Just Easter.” Leo shook his head. “You’ve only told me about a million times how it was his mom’s favorite holiday.”

“She won’t hate you.”

“Maybe. But she’s not going to love me either.”

Gerry swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “She’ll understand.”

“Will she?”

Gerry’s voice was very quiet. “I hope so.”

Leo glared at the snow and ice. “At least we’ll be able to see the eggs.”

Gerry laughed. “She’ll just huck ’em into the woods.”

“You’re joking.”

Gerry’s laugh became a grin, and it was a broad one.

“Oh, fuck. You’re not.”

“It’ll be fun.”

“You weren’t joking, were you? She paints them brown?”

“Afraid of the bears?” asked Gerry.

“A little!”

“It’s a tradition. Don’t worry, you’re not actually expected to find any.”

“But the little kids will, won’t they?” Leo sighed.

This was a little bit of a memorial to my Grandmother. Yes, we hold an Easter egg hunt every year. And yes, the adults have to search for brown plastic eggs, hidden in the woods, with the bears. I’m totally not kidding. For the record, the hiding of these eggs in the woods (with the bears) is now my job, with the help of my husband. And the place we hide them? Black Bear Pass. You thought I was kidding about the bears, didn’t you?

I like putting these bits of myself into stories now and then, because honestly, I think it helps the stories come alive a little bit more.

So, final giveaway. The winner will receive a copy of Gerry’s Lion as an e-book (delivered to your Dreamspinner Press bookshelf): If you were writing a romance, what quality or quirk of your own would you lend to a character to help give them life? I’ll have an answer for myself at 9 pm when we wrap up, along with the winner.

Of course, everyone is welcome to BUY A COPY NOW at: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6305 <–25% off because of the sale going on now! or in print (sadly not on sale) http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6306

Presents! — (Gerry’s Lion)

April 24, 2015

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This is Ashavan Doyon and I thought I’d spread some good cheer! I mean, giving presents is very much a part of Christmas, and the story does start with a Christmas cruise.

So, I’m giving away two prizes. I mentioned that commenters would be entered to win a giveaway! The first went randomly to a commenter on all the posts for the New Release Party up to this one. Yvonne is the winner - please contact me at ashavandoyon@gmail.com with the email you use at the Dreamspinner store. You’ve won a free copy of anything from my Dreamspinner backlist (that’s any e-book I’ve written for Dreamspinner EXCEPT my new release, Gerry’s Lion).  Pick from The King’s Mate, The Colors of Romance, I Almost Let You, The Byte of Betrayal, or A Wounded Promise.

I’ll also be giving away an e-book copy of Gerry’s Lion a little later tonight, so stay with me!

The start of Gerry’s Lion focuses on Christmas, and I think we see that both Gerry and Leo are very much drawn to their traditions. That was also part of my attraction to doing a story based around holidays, because I think those traditions can be very meaningful. For Gerry, they are so meaningful that he actually packed a small artificial Christmas tree to put up in his cabin on the cruise.

What is your most meaningful holiday (not necessarily Christmas) tradition?

EDIT: because I want to forget about this, but you know I need to remind you! PLEASE BUY THE BOOK:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6305

 

 

 

Time for an excerpt — (Gerry’s Lion)

April 24, 2015

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This is Ashavan Doyon, talking about my new release Gerry’s Lion.

There’s a scene where Leo has discovered that Gerry loves art and goes to the gallery on the Sunrise. He’s trying to learn more about Gerry, and he gets a little more than he bargained for.

Leo thanked him and took the stairs down to deck six. The hallway where the art was displayed wasn’t difficult to find. It was the only one that hadn’t been specifically decked out for the holiday.

Leo walked down hesitantly, looking at the artwork. Most of the names he didn’t recognize. He studied the paintings, wishing he knew anything about the artists or art. He could spot what he liked: bold oil paintings where you could see the texture of the paints. And there were a few. But the ones on the wall were painfully melancholy. Trees about to lose their last leaf. A single leafless birch surrounded by the fiery colors of autumn. They were vivid and almost angry.

“Brilliant, aren’t they?” said a quiet voice behind him.

Leo gulped and nodded.

“They are quite a departure for this artist. He’s known for more modern abstract work. His focus is usually on color and texture as much as content, conveying location and…. Well, he’s brilliant. These were his first works on the market in a couple years. But you can tell it’s him. See the birch, lonely, white, depressed… you can see the bark peeling. Look at how it’s so much more vivid than the brilliant colors of the trees surrounding it.”

“I like the textures,” Leo said, turning to find a well-dressed man in a suit. “I don’t really understand the rest.”

“Perhaps a Christmas-themed piece?”

Leo shook his head. “I’ve met someone. And he’s into art and I like art, but I want to understand it better.”

The attendant smiled. “I’m Nate. I can help you.”

Nate walked him down the hall and stopped at each piece of art. He spoke passionately about the pieces, describing the virtues of each one. Occasionally they’d come to a piece virtually locked to the wall, and Nate would drop a name even Leo couldn’t miss. Rembrandt. Picasso. When they reached the end of the hall, Nate led him into another small room. Leo stood in the doorway, transfixed.

“That’s another Tanner,” said Nate. “It’s the last modern piece he put on the market.”

“It’s pain,” Leo said, starting at the name.

It can’t be.

“You’re close. The title of the piece is Loss.”

Leo looked at the painting, studying it. Making his way through the sweeping strokes to find the objects in the sea of white and pale blues. To make out the figures. The sweep of the strokes conveyed a line. Peaks and valleys fading and then flat. And at the end of it a figure at the door, alone. A hospital room. The painting was a hospital room. An empty bed. A weeping black figure alone.

Choosing character traits for characters can be a struggle for an author. How does one convey a painting if one doesn’t paint? How does one convey the taste of a delicacy? The exhilaration of life on a motorcycle? I tried to pull Leo’s discovery of appreciating the artwork into his feelings for Gerry–important because for Gerry that artwork is very tied into Adam and Gerry’s loss.

Is there something innocuous that you associate with loss? For me it’s a cologne. A whiff can send me spiraling for days.

Sailing on the Sunrise — (Gerry’s Lion)

April 24, 2015

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This is Ashavan Doyon, here talking about the release of Gerry’s Lion.

I have a confession. This story originally started life as a submission for the Advent Calendar. I wrote it in the middle of my vacation in July two years ago. Competition for the advent calendar is really tough, and when it didn’t make it, I was heart broken. I loved the story of Gerry and his lost love Adam. For months it drove me nuts, until I finally just sat down and said to myself, what if this is the middle of the story. And I tried starting the story at Thanksgiving instead. For anyone who thinks this version has too much angst, try to imagine the Gerry that emerged in THAT story.

With Thanksgiving not working, I turned instead to the next holiday–Valentine’s Day. It was here, I think, where Gerry really started to shine again, and the angst balanced out enough to work. But I owe this story, in many ways, to a cruise I took with my long suffering husband, who endured me writing over 17 thousand words on a one week cruise to Bermuda.

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I chose holidays to focus the scenes of this story around because they are moments of glorious potential drama, and that is magnified for many LGBT folks, as there’s additional layers of acceptance or lack thereof with their families. And we see a lot of that nuance in this story – from the angsty Christmas cruise that starts it, to the nervous wrangling of traditions for Valentines Day, to the mystery Easter egg hunt where they hunt for eggs painted brown and hidden in the woods. I actually found focusing on holidays a good way to move the story and also to jump it forward every so often, and I think it helped a lot with pacing the story.

What’s your favorite vacation/holiday story (either personal or in a romance?) I’ll be using the comments to help determine who wins the prizes!

Don’t forget to buy the book: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6305 (or in print) http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6306

–> my vacation story: On this infamous cruise, I was in one of the bars on the cruise ship in the middle of the day (it was almost completely empty) when I was approached by one of the other cruisers, who asked what I was doing. I explained that I was an author, writing gay romances. She blithely explained how those were her favorite, while her husband got redder and redder, sure she hadn’t heard me say “gay” romances. To this day I don’t know if she did, but I gave her my card, it would have been hard NOT to tell from that.

Release Day Party — Gerry’s Lion

April 24, 2015

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Greetings Everyone! Welcome to the Release Day Party for Gerry’s Lion!

This novel is my first full length novel with Dreamspinner Press and I’m so thrilled to be able to hold a copy of my work in my hands. Today we’re going to talk a little about the story, I’ll talk about some of my inspiration. In there somewhere I’ll give away some e-books, and I’ll be choosing the winners from folks who respond to my end of post questions in the comments. I love to chat, so feel free to ask me anything!

So first a little more of an in person intro from me:

Gerry’s Lion

Gerald Tanner lost the piece of his life he loved most, his husband Adam. When faced with the prospect of another Christmas with a family who thinks he’s better off now that Adam is gone, Gerry decides instead to revisit the memory of when they met, and boards a Christmas cruise on the Sunrise. He’s not expecting to meet Leo Ystrabov. He certainly never imagined the courageous young man would challenge him into feelings of desire and the possibility of a love that isn’t his precious Adam.

Leo Ystrabov doesn’t quite know how to handle the shattered heart Gerry presents so hesitantly. But the offer is precious, and Leo can’t resist. However, with two families none too eager to accept them and a lot of baggage on both sides, their relationship faces an uphill battle. Leo will have to find his courage to be the lion Gerry sees in him.

I know, sounds a little heavy. There’s a lot of angst in this story for some pretty obvious reasons. So, what attracts you to gay romances? Do your prefer a certain kind? I’m a sucker for a period piece. How about you?

Time To Desert the Desert

March 19, 2015

Well, that about wraps it up for me.The cookies are done and the verdict is…not so good. They spread despite chilling out in the fridge for awhile. Oh, well.

I saw an old travel poster and decided I couldn’t afford to start buying old travel posters, so I recreated it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little insight into Something To Die For. It’s available now on Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and your favorite ebook retailer.

 

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a copy! I’m going to be hanging out, answering comments, and looking out for the winner of the giveaway. I’ll make one last post to announce the winner later on, so check back in a few hours or tomorrow to see if you’ve won.  If you are the winner, please comment on my blog and I’ll get back with you.

Please check out Something To Die For by me, Piper Doone. Out now.

Something To Die For

Josh Tucker lives a blessed life—great job, great family, perfect husband, and two wonderful children—but a mysterious man named Adam who haunts his dreams and soon his waking life threatens everything when he stirs doubt as to whether any of it is real. Adam makes Josh question the world he’s taken for granted—as well as the origins of Adam himself.

Even if Adam’s claims are true, Josh has nothing to live for beyond his fabricated life—except the possibility of a real man out there somewhere who can love him. Josh is left with an impossible choice: stay in his delusion where he’s assured some happiness or take a great leap of faith for a chance to make a life with Adam.

 

Thank you.

Call For Backup!! And a Giveaway

March 19, 2015

Calling in for Backup…and a giveaway!

 

As much as this is Josh and Adam’s (and the desert’s) story, there are a number of important secondary characters in  Something To Die For.

 

And I want to talk about them so badly, but in the words of River Song on Doctor Who…spoilers.

 

I can say right off the bat we meet Josh’s husband, Sergio. Sergio is an amazing guy: patient, kind, playful, sexy, and gorgeous. And so not what he seems.

 

Josh and Sergio’s kids, as well as Josh’s mother and siblings, figure heavily in the story as anchors for his sanity. Or do they? Because there are others who show up and throw that idea on its head, leaving Josh to wonder just who is real and who isn’t.

 

Saying too much more would give it all away…so, in that spirit…let’s do a giveaway!

 

In the comments, tell me the most magical, inspirational place you’ve ever been to. The more unusual, the better! This isn’t your typical café in Paris or three weeks in the Alps kind of question. Mostly because I haven’t been on real vacation in over a decade. Well over a decade, actually.

 

If you have photos, show us! Tell everyone about the time you took a wrong turn in Kenosha and ended up almost getting eaten by a moose and you were taken in by a kindly old couple who housed you for a night and you learned to crochet and make maple syrup pie.

 

Winner receives a copy of Something To Die For!

Something To Die For

Josh Tucker lives a blessed life—great job, great family, perfect husband, and two wonderful children—but a mysterious man named Adam who haunts his dreams and soon his waking life threatens everything when he stirs doubt as to whether any of it is real. Adam makes Josh question the world he’s taken for granted—as well as the origins of Adam himself.

Even if Adam’s claims are true, Josh has nothing to live for beyond his fabricated life—except the possibility of a real man out there somewhere who can love him. Josh is left with an impossible choice: stay in his delusion where he’s assured some happiness or take a great leap of faith for a chance to make a life with Adam.

Mysteries of the Desert

March 19, 2015

When I was promoting Playing Hard To Forget (looky…it’s on sale, too, for $5.24. Would you look at that), I talked about how the wolf has figured into my family history for a thousand years. On my father’s side, the history was bloody and my family became known as wolf-slayers in Scotland around the turn of the last millennium thanks to an ancestor who saved the King from an attacking wolf in the forest.

 

So when I began having dreams of being in the desert at night with an old man speaking to me in a language I understood at the time but never when awake, hidden among the bush as a wolf stood guard to protect me from the dangers outside the protective circle of the fire and plants, my mother became fascinated by them and was obsessed with finding its meaning. This was well before I learned of my father’s side’s history.

 

Many bottles of sunscreen later, I still don’t know what they meant. All I do know is that the desert was its own character in my dreams. There was danger outside the light of the fire and the desert had sent protection for me. The only thing anyone can agree on is that it was odd that I was dreaming of a wolf, an animal not seen in the desert for many, many years, and not a common coyote.

 

I’ve always held the desert in high regard since then.

I call this one “Agave Agave Everywhere…and not a drop (of Tequila) to drink)

But a few years ago, I saw something that left me, for lack a better term, completely freaked me out. And it was then that the seeds of Something To Die For were planted.

 

I still have trouble processing what I saw into words, which, as a writer, really says something about me that using my words is difficult.

 

What I will say is that writing Something To Die For was a way for me to come to terms with what I saw that night. Giving it some humanity and a happy ending was something I needed to do, whether it got published or not.

 

I needed my desert to be the place it once was–my protection, my safe place. I didn’t want to think of it in the context of that horrid night and turning the story into something I could control from start to finish was a form of therapy for me.

 

In Something To Die For, just like in my dreams, the desert is a secret main character. Josh needs his desert to ground him. It is a part of him and helps him to get to where he needs to be.

 

But beyond all that, it’s a love story. The love story of Josh and Adam. And a love story from me to my desert.

Something To Die For

Josh Tucker lives a blessed life—great job, great family, perfect husband, and two wonderful children—but a mysterious man named Adam who haunts his dreams and soon his waking life threatens everything when he stirs doubt as to whether any of it is real. Adam makes Josh question the world he’s taken for granted—as well as the origins of Adam himself.

Even if Adam’s claims are true, Josh has nothing to live for beyond his fabricated life—except the possibility of a real man out there somewhere who can love him. Josh is left with an impossible choice: stay in his delusion where he’s assured some happiness or take a great leap of faith for a chance to make a life with Adam.

(Cookie update—the dough is chilling in the fridge. I’ve eaten 4 spoonfuls now. Everything seems good from here. I must do further research, though)