I’m not sure how many of you will remember that a few months back I was asking for suggestions of titles, images, names of characters, well, most of everything, for a romantic novel I was planning on writing. And recently I talked about it as part of a blog hop where writers were talking about his characters. Guess what! I’ve written it!
‘I Love Your Cupcakes’ (the blame for the title is all mine) is in the process of being edited, corrected, translated, polished and made-up. But I thought I’d leave you with the beginning (and the likely cover):
Dulcinea (Dulce for her friends) was frozen in place. She could see the producer talking but her mind was on overdrive and nothing went in. “Oh my God! How did I ever get into this situation! What have I let myself into!” she thought. Adelfa’s elbow on her side made her wake up:
“Come on! We have 45 minutes to create the Killer Cupcake to end all Killer Cupcakes!”
“Well, if that’s what we have to do, let’s do it!”
Chapter 1. Beginnings (Three years ago)
Dulcinea loved her name. She had always felt it suited her to a T. So much so, that if she hadn’t been called that she was convinced she would have changed her name to Dulcinea. OK, it wasn’t the most typical name for an American girl, but her mother, Carmen, was Spanish and she always thought that the imaginary lady/love of Don Quijote deserved a second chance and a bigger role than she had ever been given. She also adored the fact that if it was shortened to Dulce, its meaning was ‘Sweet’ in Spanish. And if there was something her mother had loved was everything sweet. Carmen was the best amateur baker amongst all her friends’ mothers and she doubted that many professionals of baking and desserts could have competed with her. Her culinary skills got so popular and so many people asked her to give them their recipes or teach them how to bake that she ran a course on desserts and cooking at the local adult college until her death. It was only fair and fitting that even her daughter was Dulce.
“What do you say, then? You’ve been fighting against fate long enough. How many careers and jobs have you tried?” Adelfa, her best friend, had always been supportive of all her ideas, but was nothing if not opinionated. “Let me count…”
“…the ways?” Dulce joked.
“Don’t get Shakespearean on me.”
“Elizabeth Browning not Shakespeare.”
“See what I was saying? I know how much you love books, but…if you could do anything practical with it maybe, but as it is…So, back to what we were talking about before the literary interruption. Hairdressing…” Adelfa counted one with her fingers.
Now if this was a movie it would show a montage of a few less than graceful and chic haircuts, a burnt perm to the point of loss of clumps of hair, although Dulce’s crowning disaster had always been coloring. A full palette of unintentional bright oranges, greens, and even tri-color effects had come out of her hands and sealed her exit from hairdressing school.
“Air stewardess…” Two.
The movie would now show Dulce dropping the bags when trying to secure them in the overhead locker, pushing the trolley over somebody’s foot, dropping hot coffee on another passenger’s lap, and falling seated repeatedly on several passengers. She’d never been any good wearing heels and decided the continuous traveling didn’t suit her either. At least she wasn’t sick on anybody.
“Horticulture and ornamental gardening…” Three.
This could now get scary, especially if you’re fond of flowers and vegetables. Green fingers was something nobody could accuse Dulce of. Other than rock gardens with no plants, nothing survived her attempts at gardening. And her garden designs looked like something out of El Bosco. Adelfa used to joke that she might be OK if she specialized on gardens for Goths. Not that Goths liked fresh-air that much.
“Business Studies…” Four.
Actually, the studies had been OK. Although Dulce preferred fiction and literature, she didn’t mind numbers or studying in general. So the theoretical part had been fine. Once it came to applying it to real-life situations, she was too soft and not enough of a risk-taker, didn’t like cutthroat competition and wasn’t aggressive so she never made it. Although she considered teaching it, the most engaging teachers were always those who had plenty of personal anecdotes to tell. And she wanted something more hands on.
Now, wouldn’t you think that with digital cameras it is impossible to take a terrible picture? Well, if you knew Dulce and saw her pictures you’d know that’s wrong. Bad lights, bad angles, body parts instead of the whole. Not even a proper top model would look good in her hands.
“OK, OK. If you’re just trying to make me feel better, you’re doing a great job. And nothing bad happened to any of the babies. I’m just not cut out for it. Not everybody is as lucky as you, Adelfa. You’ve always liked mixing things and analyzing things. You’re a born Chemist and have always known it.”
Adelfa had been good at Chemistry since she was very young and had awed teachers and later professors with her skills. When she finished university she had several of the biggest Pharmaceutical companies fighting for her, although she’d chosen to teach at the local university and work on her own research. But her professional success did not seem to be enough for her. And despite her looks (beautiful café-au-lait color, kissable mouth, curves in all the right places, and a bum Beyoncé would be happy to call her own) she was once again mourning another failed relationship.
“Yes, but I’m yet to find a formula that applied to men will make the idiots and losers fluorescent.”
Dulce could not help but visualize the results of such a preparation. It would be worth billions!
“Maybe you’d need to train in magic rather than Chemistry for that. From my very limited experience on the subject I’d say that science and the best minds have failed miserably when trying to find a formula for the perfect relationship.”
“It’s probably not the guys’ fault. It’s me. I can ruin the nicest guy it seems.”
Dulce hated seeing her friend that way. First she wasn’t right. Second, she was her friend and she’d back her up no matter what. And third, her latest boyfriend, Melvin, was not the nicest guy. She’d had worse, but Melvin was one of these guys who seemed to think collecting women was a worthy hobby and the better the women, the higher their value for him. He’d pursue them, use every trick in the romantic book, and then, once they were secured, move on to another, to the next challenge, to the next jewel in the collection.
“I’m sure if you wanted you could ruin somebody, but no, it isn’t your fault. You’re right; he was an idiot and a loser. And OK, you’re also right about me. Nothing I’ve done so far has worked out. And yes, it’s true, I’m good at baking, but how am I going to make a living out of that?” Dulce’s baking skills had been the subject of many conversations between the friends for many years, but recently Adelfa had been badgering Dulce more than usual about it.
“Let’s bake something and then we can talk. One of your mother’s recipes. What about that cake that had chocolate, toasted almonds, eggs, butter, milk, flour and baking powder?”
“Queen of Saba? But will we have all the ingredients around?” Dulce asked.
Adelfa laughed picking up the car keys.
“Let’s go shopping! We’ll need a few other things too!”
“And some salty snacks too, to even things out. At least the wanker left me before we ever moved in together and I won’t have to spend any time moving stuff. Quickly! Let’s not waste any baking time!”
Once back at their apartment (in reality the ground floor of a house that had been converted to a couple of apartments, with the advantage that they had the patio and an old but still zesty lemon-tree all to themselves) they unpacked, put their aprons on and got on with their baking. Adelfa had also stocked on drinks and served herself a glass of red wine and lemonade for Dulce.
“One of these days we’ll have to get you drinking alcohol. It’s too prim and proper this non-alcohol stance of yours.”
“You know full well how I feel about alcohol, Adelfa. It’s not a religious thing, or even a moral thing, although I can’t say I like what it can do to people. It’s…”
“A taste thing. I know, I know.”
“And I don’t mind it for cooking. I must admit it does help with some recipes. A lot.”
“You know what I think about it. As the saying goes: I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food!”
Dulce shrugged and they both laughed and got on with the cooking. The two friends peeled almonds, mixed butter and sugar, mashed the almonds into tiny bits, separated the egg-yolks from the whites, melted the chocolate with a little bit of milk and then added all the ingredients (plus the flour and the baking powder). They put the mix in a baking mold in a warm oven and went out in the patio after washing the implements, to wait for the oven to do its magic. They had recently bought a double swing chair and they both jumped on it moving backwards and forwards at a slow pace.
“So…any ideas? How could we turn my baking skills into a business? Actually, I should say “our” baking skills, as you’re the one who can work out the right combination and amount of ingredients to make the cakes or pastry do what it should” Dulce said.
“OK, you’re the Goddess of Flavors and I’m the Queen of Chemistry and calculating measurements and oven temperature. I wasn’t planning on leaving my job, especially the research bit, although I could always work fewer hours, but we could experiment after my work and I could come up with precise instructions that could be followed by other staff who’d help with the baking” Adelfa said.
“Staff? Goodness! If we’re going to have detailed methodology and recipes, maybe I could write a cookery book. Or a baking and sweets book. They are always popular and I love books, although have never written anything long. However, I guess writing a recipe book isn’t quite like writing other kinds of books.”
Adelfa chewed her bottom-lip, a habit she’d had from childhood and she’d go back to when she was thinking, especially when alone.
“A Cookery book. It isn’t a bad idea, but as a business proposition…For what I’ve seen the books of that kind that sell well are usually either written by celebrities, people who are well-known chefs (because they have a program on the TV), or books associated with a famous restaurant or location. I think we should keep it in mind for when our bakery/coffee shop becomes a success. Then we can branch out and produce all kinds of marketable products, not only books, but maybe a range of cookery utensils, maybe join in with some organic flour and flavorings distributors and rubber-stamp our label on them, aprons, children’s cookery books, videos, TV programs…”
Dulce felt as she did at times of panic. She had the vivid sensation that her freckles were growing and taking over the whole of her face, her green eyes were about to be power-ejected from their orbits and her ginger (or strawberry blonde according to Adelfa) hair was standing on end. Surprisingly enough, at times such at this when she’d managed to get to a mirror, she only looked scared and pale, but she wasn’t truly convinced the mirror wasn’t just playing a trick on her. She knew what she felt.
“Breathe Adelfa! Breathe! Maybe we should start at the beginning. Are we talking about a bakery, a coffee shop, or…?”
“And why not a mix of the two?”
Yes, why not?
I Love Your Cupcakes by Olga Núñez Miret (cover by Lourdes Vidal)
Thanks for reading, and you know if you’ve enjoyed it, like it, share, and comment. I’ll keep you updated and make a big announcement when it is published, of course! (I hope it should be in a few weeks!) Any ideas to promote are welcome!
Ah, and as I told you, I’ve started reviewing books for BTS-e Magazine and one of my reviews is published in the current number. Check it out here! (And of course, check all the rest of the content)