Wonder Boi Writes

Perfect Pairing Is Out!

***Please Share Widely***

Perfect-Pairing-2

Today, July 12, is the official release date of Perfect Pairing!  I am so excited to share this one with all of you for so many reasons.  I think it is one of the most fun books I’ve ever written.  The characters kept me amused and on my toes the whole time I wrote it. It’s also my first book with Bywater Books, and I adore their team.  I think you’ll see that came through in every aspect of the book.  Also, of all my books, this is the one I got the most advanced feedback on. We sent out a lot of advanced review copies, and the response has been unanimously positive.  I generally don’t read reviews, but my publisher sent a few along, and I admit they impressed even me!

Still, reviews don’t matter to me nearly as much as direct feedback from my friends and long-time readers, so please buy it, read it, and let me know what you think.  You are the reason I publish, and I can’t wait to start hearing from all of you.

You can get your kindle version here.

You can get a paperback version here.

You can get an ePub version here.

And if that’s not enough for you, I’m going to offer you this sneak peak of the first chapter right here:

Chapter One

Hal Orion loved the smell of food cooking in the morning. The scents were more pure, more distinct before the air grew heavy with steam and the thin film of grease clogged her pores. Energy seemed to flow more freely too, without the press of bodies to impede its natural course. Energy was important, especially in such confined spaces. Conducted by metal walls and high heat, the buzz could become frenetic, sharp, and combustible as the day went on, but early in the quiet stillness, clarity reigned and potential hummed, as charged as a gas flame ready to whoosh into life. The promise of a new day felt as crisp as the crack of an eggshell against the stainless steel griddle.

Yes, she loved mornings . . . if by mornings you meant almost noon.

She held her hand a few inches from the top of the griddle. She could feel the difference between three hundred degrees and the three-fifty she was looking for. Like a heat-seeking missile, she effortlessly zoned in on the sweet spot and marked it with an “x” made out of hickory-smoked bacon. As the slices began to sizzle, she pulled an array of cheeses from a refrigerated bin. Moving past the brie and Havarti, she reached for the guilty pleasure kept in the bottom of the drawer. American cheese was not something she was proud of loving. It wasn’t bold or artsy, edgy or even classic, but damn, it melted beautifully. She peeled off two slices and buried the rest back behind a few logs of chevre, then grabbed a few pieces of sourdough bread from yesterday’s yield.

The bacon crackled and popped a joyful tap dance behind her as she pulled a bowl of whipped butter from another cooling bin and slathered a healthy dose on each slice of bread. Flipping the bacon, she gave it a little spin, both to spread the grease in a wider circle and to make sure it cooked evenly. She liked—no, required-her bacon well done. Texture was as essential to her art as it was to a painting. It conveyed depth, nuance, and mood every bit as much as taste did. The second the bacon reached the perfect level of crunch, she lifted it from the heat and immediately replaced its sizzling sounds with those of a fresh egg dropped, yolk and all, into the bacon grease.

Moving over a smidge within the sweet spot of the grill, she painted a thin line of vegetable oil in the shape of a bulls-eye and watched it spread as it warmed. With one hand, she reached for a slice of the buttered bread and laid it gently over the oil. Then sliding it around, she let her fingers feel the heat and guide her to the optimal position before releasing it completely. With her free hand, she plucked a spatula from a canister to her left and deftly flipped the egg over onto its sunny little face. Scooting back to her right, she laid a slice of cheese across the bread, then topped it with bacon before left-handing the spatula back into action. Scooping up the egg, she dropped it atop the X like a helicopter settling onto a landing pad of bacon. With a flourish she added the second slice of cheese and bread before standing back to admire her masterpiece in the making.

“Is that a Wake ‘n’ Bake?”

Hal started so badly she dropped the spatula with a loud clang. “Shit.”

Sully laughed and grabbed it quickly. “Seven second rule.”

“Ew. No. And how do you always manage to sneak in here without me seeing you?” Hal gestured around the truck. “It’s not like you have any place to hide.”

“Maybe you were just too busy undressing that sandwich with your eyes to notice anyone else in the room.”

Hal took a clean spatula from a tin canister and used it to plate and cut her creation crossways. “Maybe, or maybe you’re just a creepy stealth fucker with mad stalker skills.”

Sully snorted lightly and wiped her hands on her T-shirt, which featured a picture of a Chef ’s knife and the caption that read “Mine really is 10-inches.” Crouching down so her eyes were level with the sandwich on the prep table she whispered, “That’s a thing of beauty.”

 

“Ya think?”

“Just look at the way the egg yolk runs into the cheese, and the bread has little bits of bacon stuck to it from the grease.”

It was awfully pretty, but pretty only partly sold sandwiches. Hal picked up half of the sandwich and nodded for Sully to help herself to the other, then in unison each took a sizeable bite right from the middle.

“Oh mah gawd,” Sully said with her mouth full. “That shit is gooey.”

Hal nodded. The texture was perfect, so crisp and simultaneously soft. Her teeth sank in satisfyingly, and the muted bacon echo cracked through her own ears. The bacon grease and the sourdough added two of the touches she’d been missing.

The flavor was good. Real good.

And real good was good enough for most food truck drivers. Hell, it was good enough for most of Buffalo. But not for her. “Needs something.”

Sully quieted her munching noises. She didn’t argue. She respected the process and waited while Hal took another bite. This time she was more clinical in her approach. She broke down each flavor as it hit her, sour, tangy, smoky—they all blended nicely, but nothing popped. Breakfast has to wake a body up. Somewhere along the way Americans had forgotten that. They’d settled for flat in order to get fast. It was a warrantless trade and probably the reason everyone got so addicted to coffee.

“Coffee.”

“Coffee?” Sully asked. “You want me to run and get you a cup?”

“No, I want the grounds. Like ground-this-day kind of grounds. Go over and see if Joey’s working at the coffee shop today. If she is, have her grind me a couple pounds of something robust.”

“Yes, Chef.”

“Then get me some brown sugar and cayenne.”

Sully’s grin spread. “Yes, Chef.”

“I’ll hit the butcher and the bakery. Then meet me in Larkin Square by 3:00.”

 

“Where we’ll dry rub the shit out of some bacon,” Sully finished with a fist pump.

Hal nodded, but she didn’t join in Sully’s exuberance yet. She had work to do.

###

“Got the coffee, got the brown sugar, and I picked up some molasses. Thought that might help it paste.”

“Genius,” Hal muttered, already prepping other ingredients for sandwiches they’d feature today.

“Yeah, yeah, sweet talker. I also picked up a few of these,” Sully said, a smile evident in her voice.

Hal had known her long enough to be worried by her tone. In their teens, it usually meant someone was about to get in trouble, the fun kind. Scooping out one more avocado, she shook a few flecks of green from her fingers and finally looked up.

Sully leaned casually against a gleaming metal prep table, one eye- brow quirked and her dark hair falling across the other. In one hand she held a chef ’s knife flat across her chest. In her other she clutched a magazine cover with a picture of Hal standing in the exact same position.

Hal didn’t know whether to laugh or swear, so she did both. “Shit, what is that?”

“It’s you, Chef. On the cover of Spree. Lookin’ like some lesbian’s wet dream. The chicas are going to cream themselves for this.”

Heat flushed across her skin. “Shut up and get to work. I need apples sliced thin. Then could you get the sloppy joe sauce going?”

“Um, no, Chef,” Sully said as though Hal had asked her if she could fly.

“What?”

“I cannot prep anything until I do a dramatic reading of this article. Complete with dance moves.”

“Dance moves?”

“Oh yeah. Mine aren’t as good as yours, though. Apparently no one’s are as good as yours.” She opened the magazine and cleared her throat. “‘Hal Orion moves around her food truck with the grace and rhythm of a dancer, a sexy, salsa-style shimmy, mixed with enough spicy bump-and-grind to make your teeth sweat—or maybe that’s just the Heard of Buffalo? grilled cheese sandwich she mixes up as she moves. Whether it’s the chef or sandwich, this recent addition to the Buffalo food-truck scene is bringing the heat back to Buffalo this summer.’”

“It doesn’t say that.”

“Oh, it does, and so much more. Let me read on.”

“Please don’t.”

“I’ll skip to the good parts.” Sully’s dark eyes scanned the page.

“‘Buffalo native’ . . . blah blah . . . ‘self-trained’ . . . boring boring . . .” Hal tried to wait patiently. She wanted to snatch that stupid magazine from Sully’s hands and stuff it in the trash, then wait until late at night before digging it out and reading it sans peanut gallery commentary.

“Oh here: ‘Her food truck, aptly named ‘Cheesy Does It,’ is a veritable hot box of taste sensations.’” Sully snickered. “That’s what she said.”

“Come on.”

“No really, that’s what she said, ‘you have a hot box of taste sensa- tions.’ Did you fuck this reporter?”

“No.”

Sully raised her eyebrows, clearly not believing her.

“I didn’t. Really.”

“Then I think you should. Seriously, she has practically dubbed you the second coming of Ralph Wilson.”

“The owner of the Bills?”

“Or Theresa Bellissimo.”

They both bowed their heads in salute to the mother of the famous Buffalo wing. Then Hal cracked a smile. “So this writer really knows her food history?”

“No. She wouldn’t know a gouda from a fontina, but even a broken clock is right twice a day, and her description of you is spot on. She’s right. You’re what Buffalo needs right now. She says you’re ‘blue collar meets bleu cheese.’”

 

“Huh. I do like that.”

“I like the part where she says you’re the best she’s ever had.” “Me?”

“Well, the sandwich, but she strongly implied she’d like to feast on you as well.”

“Oy, you’re crazytown. Put that shit away.” She snapped a towel at the magazine, knocking it to the floor. We’re live in one hour.”

“Yes, Chef,” Sully said, “but there’s one more thing you should know. She gave you a nickname.”

“A nickname?”

“Yes, you have been dubbed ‘Fryboi.’”

“‘Fryboi?’That makes me sound like I make French fries.”

“Maybe you should, but I get a feeling that whatever you’re selling, the fine ladies of Buffalo will be buying tonight.”

“Back to work.”

“Yes, yes, Fryboi, but be honest. You kind of dig it.” Hal turned back to the avocados to hide her grin. She wouldn’t lie.

As a kid she’d never stuck around anywhere long enough to get a nickname, but if she’d had to wait until she was almost thirty for her first one, at least Fryboi was cool enough to make the wait seem worthwhile.

# # #

Quinn Banning rarely left work early. Actually she rarely left work at all. She might leave the building, but between her iPhone, her iPad, and her Macbook Air, it may have been more accurate to say she took the office with her when she went. Right now she was taking her mobile office to a mobile restaurant—fitting. Larkin Square was a warehouse district on the south side of Buffalo, one of the many rust- belt relics currently being reclaimed by hipsters and the corporate suits eager to capitalize on their cash flow.

She glanced down at her tailored navy blazer and pencil skirt as she pulled into the Larkin Development Group parking lot. She sup- posed the outfit made it clear which side of the culture war she fought for. In this crowd of bearded men and skinny-jean-clad girls on bicycles, she probably should’ve been ashamed to display such blatant symbols of the ruling class, but she didn’t care. She’d been in Buffalo long before they were old enough to grow their mustaches, and she’d be here long after they all surrendered to better hygiene practices and shaved them off again. Still she decided to forego the briefcase and tucked the rolled up copy of Buffalo Spree under her arm. Then she double-checked to make sure her Volkswagon Jetta was locked before she fully joined the throngs of pedestrians moving toward a throbbing pulse of music and people ahead.

Food-Truck Tuesdays were becoming a big deal in Buffalo. The number of local food trucks was on the rise, and every Tuesday night they gathered in Larkin Square as local indie bands played.

She wandered down a brick walkway between warehouses turned upscale apartment buildings until the space opened into a courtyard of sorts, only instead of being filled with gardens or benches, this one was overrun with food trucks. Big, boxy, and loud, they lined every wall and squatted stagger-stacked three deep in some places. Beyond them, a covered wooden walkway held a small stage surrounded by benches and patio furniture, an old, beat-up piano, and a bunch of bar stools. Farther out, even more food trucks hummed, each one over- lapping the one next door. There had to be more than thirty of them within view. Who knew a city the size of Buffalo could sustain so many? She guessed it wouldn’t sustain them for much longer.

She’d come prepared to hunt for her target but didn’t have to work hard to locate Cheesy Does It. The neon yellow truck had electric blue trim. If the combo wasn’t so happily appealing, it might’ve been too bright to look at, like the sun, but noisier. In fact, even if she’d been blind, she could’ve found her target by following the thump of bass currently reverberating from its two outward-pointing speakers. They looked like the old sirens on the sides of schools or fallout shelters, but instead of heralding news of a nuclear attack, they loudly proclaimed that Justin Timberlake was bringing sexy back.

Me too, Justin. Me too, she thought as she threaded her way through a pack of women in everything from maxi dresses to shorts that were entirely too revealing for late spring in Buffalo. A few young men in jeans and button-down shirts flecked the crowd, but for the most part she felt like she’d found the world’s most disorganized ladies’ room line. She wasn’t sure she could even make it up to the truck, but still it beckoned to her like one of those lights that zaps flies. She hadn’t gotten as far as she had in business by being timid. Her cool air of politeness and a clearly voiced “excuse me” parted much of the crowd, and when they didn’t she punctuated her words with a sharp elbow.

When she finally stood below the large serving window, she could barely see the people above her until they leaned out under the awning to take an order. The first head to pop out over hers was dark, with black hair pulled back behind a red handkerchief. Even darker eyes regarded her expectantly. The face wasn’t exactly what she’d expected, but close enough to the one in the magazine picture she carried with her that she pulled it out to double check. No, not the same. This woman’s skin was a little darker than the deep olive complexion she sought, and her hair both a little darker and a lot longer.

“Can I help you?” The woman shouted to be heard over the music. “No, I need to speak to Hal Orion.”

The woman’s smile was not unkind, but certainly suggestive. “Sorry, you got me. What can I get you?”

“You can get Hal Orion for me.”

“Like I said, she’s helping other customers. I’m helping you. You can either order now or get back in line and try your luck again.”

“She didn’t get in line the first time,” someone nearby said. “Line?” Quinn asked. “I see no lines here.”

The woman in the truck laughed and pointed to the back of the crowd she’d just pushed and cajoled her way through.“That’s the line to order from the Fryboi.”

Unacceptable.

She’d left the office early on a business call. She’d arrived just before the starting time in order to beat the rush. She’d done her due diligence, but she would not waste all night milling around this hipster cattle herd. She wasn’t here for some grilled cheese, no matter how mind melting they may be. She had work to do, and she couldn’t do it from a distance.

“Well, tell Fryboi, that I’m not here to order anything. I am here to offer her something.”

 

“Just like prom night,” the woman said, causing everyone within earshot to laugh, including someone inside the truck.

“How dare you. I don’t know what kind of a business you’re run- ning here—”

“We’re running a food truck, sweetheart, so unless you want food from this truck, go ahead and scribble your digits on a cocktail napkin, hand it over, and stop holding up the line.”

Heat flared beneath her cheeks. “Listen, I’m not sure who you’re used to working with, but I’m not some sort of booty call. I’m not one of your little unshaven hipster fan-girls. More importantly, I’m not leaving here until I speak to your boss.”

“I’m not her boss. I’m her chef. We’re a team, like a pilot and a gunner.”

Quinn wheeled around to see Hal Orion leaning casually against the back corner of the truck in a white chef ’s coat with the sleeves cut off. Her dark brown hair sharply angled to a point just above her right eye. She was the exact mirror image of the magazine cover, sans knife, only more enthralling up close. Either her proximity or her magnetism actually made Quinn falter long enough for this Fryboi to continue. “I’m the quarterback and Sully’s my receiver. I’m a rapper and she’s my DJ. I lay the tracks, and she locks the flow. Comprende?”

“Lace.”

“Excuse me?”

“The lyric is ‘lace,’ not ‘lay.’” Quinn recovered. “P-Diddy laced the tracks. Biggy locked the flow. If you’re going to drop ’90s hip-hop, you should do it right.”

“Copyright infringement.” Hal shrugged. “The point is, talking to one of my team members like they’re your personal butler is a horrible way to go about getting anything from me.”

Quinn took a deep breath and released it quickly. Clearly she’d misjudged this woman. No matter. She was more than capable of thinking on her feet. Actually, she preferred it. “Point taken. Moving on.”

###

Moving on? Who was this woman? Hal had watched her approach, first from the serving window, then up close. She didn’t even know what possessed her to leave the truck. She often had to deal with a rowdy or drunk customer, but Sully could easily handle a petite blond with entitlement issues. Something about this woman’s tone, or maybe her eyes of steel, had pulled Hal closer. The feeling was unsettling. Challenging. And she didn’t like it. Still, this tiny ball of accountant- looking spitfire had just dropped some old-school rap lyrics like her name was on the mic.

Paradox?

Quandary?

Intriguing.

Still, she couldn’t let Sully be spoken to like a hired hand. The bonds of business and friendship demanded a firm hand here. “No moving on, ’cause I’ve yet to hear an apology.” She nodded from this woman up to Sully, who still watched them from the window.

The woman’s face didn’t flame, and she refused to so much as frown, no matter how much it may have irked her. The little way her hands tensed quickly, as if wanting to ball into fists, was the only fleeting signal of her ire. Whoever she was, she’d perfected the stone cold business face. “Sully, was it?”

“The one and only.”

“Great. Sully, I’m sorry for speaking to you the way I did. I’m sorry for taking up so much of your time.” She turned back to Hal. “I’m sorry for not following the proper procedures for setting an appoint- ment. I wasn’t able to find a phone number on your social media pages, or I would’ve called ahead, but the least I could’ve done is ask for a more convenient time to talk.”

“Maybe if you’d done that,” Hal said almost wistfully, “I would’ve told you I always stay until the food is gone or the last person is fed. After that, I’m all ears. But you didn’t ask. You got all entitled up in our grill, backed up our lines, insulted my friend, and took me away from my job—a job I love.”

“And I apologized for that.”

“You also dropped some old-school rap cred, which impresses me from a woman in a shark suit and three-inch heels,” Hal said slowly. “So I’m going to give you a do-over.”

“A do-over?” Both the woman and Sully repeated.

“I’m going to go back in my truck and make some food for all the nice people who understand how a line works, and if at the end, the very end of that line, you happen to want to buy a sandwich, I might talk to you while you eat it.”

“And if I just walk away right now? You won’t even wonder about what you missed out on?”

Hal’s short shot of a laugh was unexpected even to her. “Lady, I’ve missed out on more things in my life than you can even begin to imagine. Nothing you could possibly offer will keep me awake at night.”

###

There you have it, friends.  I have given you the best I have.  I hope it’s enough to pique your interest, because my new baby is now in your hands!

 

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

GCLS 2016

Hey Friends, the Spangler family will be hitting the road next week for the Golden Crown Literary Society’s 12th annual conference in Washington DC.  If you’re going to be there, please plan on saying hello.

Here’s where you can find me:

Thursday July 7
9:30 – Author Spotlight The Arbors Room
12:30 – I’ll be auctioned off for lunch with a few lucky readers.
1:30 – Membership meeting

Friday July 8
10:40 – Special address “Table Building: A Lesfic Legacy”
11:40 – Legacies of Lesbian Literature Project presentation
4:30 – Autograph session
6:00 – Bywater Books Summer Launch Party (come get your hands on Perfect Pairing)

Saturday July 9
6:00 – Awards reception
7:00 – Awards
10:00 – Dance

Hope to see you there!

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Perfect Pairing: The Hippy Dippy

Hey Friends,

It’s been a rough couple weeks, but I figure the best thing I can do to combat all the hate in the world is just keep sharing love stories, so that’s what I intend to do.

We’re getting really close to the release date for Perfect Pairing.  Some you will see it very soon, either through your Amazon pre-orders or getting advance copies at GCLS next week. So in order to celebrate that I made another Perfect Pairing cooking video for you.

This grilled cheese is called the Hippy Dippy and it’s the health conscious favorite of Quinn Banning. See the video to get more info about the sandwich and a sneak peek at my new baby.

The Hippy Dippy
Rye Bread
Olive Oil
Goat Cheese
Arugula
Honey

Speed the olive oil on both sides of the bread and toast one side.  Flip the bread over and spread goat cheese on both pieces.  Add as much arugula as you like, then drizzle both sides with honey. Close it up and finish toasting it.  Then eat it, and don’t feel guilt because as far as grilled cheeses go, it’s pretty healthy!

Also, don’t forget you can order you copy of Perfect Pairing right now, or pick it up next week at GCLS!

 

 

 

June 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You Don’t Know Us

You don’t know us, Omar Marteen.

That fact led to death, and pain, and grief for some of us last night, but it led to something worse for you. Failure.

You saw two men kissing, and you made up your mind in an instant. I won’t go into the sadness of that. The fact that you were so filled with hate that the sight of two people expressing love enraged you shows how far from humanity you had fallen. Your heart was already clearly corroded long before the moment you decided violence was a reasonable response to love. It doesn’t take much more than that to paint a pretty clear picture of who you were as person, but if you had taken any time get to know the enemy of your own choosing, things still could have ended differently for all of us.

The liberal optimist in me firmly believes that if most of the people who spew ignorance took the time to really get to know gays and lesbians, much of their hate and misunderstandings would disappear. I think most people can still be changed with thoughtful, patient examples of love. I believe the majority of people, with the right experiences, would decide we are just like them when they see we share the same hopes and dreams and struggles. This is why coming out is still a radical, world-changing act.

But I am not so naive to think that all our problems can be solved with a heart-to-heart. I have seen racism and sexism and homophobia thrive in places where it should not, in places beyond misunderstanding, or simple lack of exposure to diversity. I know these systems occasionally require force and violence to be upheld. I also know that sometimes a human being can grow so dark and twisted they willingly abdicate their own souls. These people generally make that choice when their desire for power or vengeance or terror overcomes their desire for life itself. Clearly you had reached this point because you wanted to inflict pain or grief so badly that you were willing to give your own life in the process. You are not the first, and sadly you will not be the last, but you met the same end as all the others, and if you had taken the time to know us, you might have seen that coming.

You see, you don’t know us, but we know you.

We have heard your rants and raves on street corners and in “churches” all of our lives. We have read about you in history books going back to the dawn of time.

You are not original. Quite the opposite. You are a sad, tired cliché. And if you had taken the time to get to know a single gay person in your pathetically limited life, you would’ve known you had already lost before you even began.

Any one of us could have told you what we’ve learned from our own lives and from the lives of everyone who came before us. You are weak and scared and small compared to us. Your power flared and died in a moment, and yes, some of us died with you in that moment, but we are a resilient people. We are a stubborn people. We are a defiant people.

We survived the Dark Ages. We have been burned at the stake. We have been put on trial and hanged as witches. We have been branded with pink triangles and put into concentration camps. We have faced chemical castration and electroshock “therapy.” We have been criminalized and institutionalized. We have had our safe places bombed and burned and raided by vigilantes and legal authorities alike. And still we rose. Generation after generation, not just coming up and coming out, but pushing always forward.

Did you, you sad, scared, petulant child brimming with insecurity and rage, think that your gun could stop us? You with your anger and your misplaced indignation thought you could conquer our legions? We who are descended from giants and warriors? We who have soldiered on, loving willfully and recklessly in the face of kings and dictators and pontiffs of every religion? We will not be deterred.

Not now. Not ever. And certainly not by the likes of you.

You went into a bar during Pride month without having the slightest understanding of what we were celebrating. If you had taken the time to get to know us, to really know us and our history, you might not have liked us, but you damn sure would have realized the futility of your errand.

We do not gather this month because of the drink specials, or the dancing, or the parade floats. We gather to celebrate the fact that we are the children of a proud heritage. We gather because we are proud to be resilient and strong and filled with a fortitude you cannot fathom. We come together to share our pride in the battles won, and our pride in the battles we continue to fight. Mostly, though, we celebrate our pride in the love that brings us together.

It’s that love that ultimately makes us who we are. It streams through our blood. It is stamped on our DNA. It is a living history that moves and breathes in each and every one of our hearts and bodies. Love is the essence that connects us to one another now, to those who came before, and to all the generations who will continue on long after we are gone.

You were one man. We are a part of a line of progress that stretches from the dawn of time to the ends of eternity, united by the greatest power humanity has ever known. What could you have possibly hoped to accomplish? Maybe you wanted us to be afraid. Maybe you wanted to force us back into the closet. Maybe you wanted to eradicate us. I am not sure what you expected to do to our community, but I know you failed.

You killed and died in vain.

No, you don’t know us. I wish you had. If you had, you would have known that you weren’t going up against the people in that bar. You pitted yourself against an unstoppable movement. You were going up against the arc of human history. You were going up against love itself.

Love cannot be tortured or terrorized. It cannot be silenced. It cannot be killed.

Love heals. Love sustains. Love bolsters. Love empowers. Love overcomes. Love unites. Love always wins.

Omar Mateen, you clearly didn’t know love.

And you don’t know us.

 

 

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Perfect Pairing – The Heard of Buffalo?

Hey folks,

First of all, thanks to all of you who commented on or shared my last blog. I took all of your names and threw them into a hat, then Jackson pulled out a winner. And the winner is…drum roll please…Justdar826!

Also, the winners of the previous contest were JJCrabb and Elena, and I never heard from them so, Justdar, JJCrabb, and Elena, please email me at Rachel_Spangler@yahoo.com with your address to claim your free advanced review copy of Perfect Pairing.

And for the rest of you, don’t feel bad because this blog has a little prize for everyone. below you will find a cooking video featuring yours truly and my good friend Will Banks making the Heard of Buffalo? sandwich. This is not a drill! The Heard of Buffalo? is the big kahuna of grilled cheeses as far as Perfect Pairing goes. This is the sandwich that sets food truck chef Hal Orion apart from all the others. It’s the one that gets Quinn Banning’s attention, and later gets her foot in the door. This also happens to be one of the two sandwiches my many taste testers most frequently lost their minds for.

So without further ado, here’s the video for the Heard of Buffalo?

Heard of Buffalo? specs 
2 cups shredded chicken (I mix light and dark meat)
5 oz bleu cheese crumbles
1/4 to 1/2 cup good Buffalo hot sauce depending on your heat tolerance (Frank’s Hot Sauce is traditional)
Cream cheese
Cheddar slices
Butter/Margarine
Italian or other thick white bread

Mix the first three ingredients, keep warmish. Butter both sides of the bread and toast one side of each piece. Flip the bread and slather a layer of cream cheese on one piece, then cover in heaping spoonfuls of the chicken mixture. Top with cheddar and close it up with the other slice of bread. Toast both sides until golden brown and cheese is melted.

 

 

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Buffalove: Food Truck Tuesdays

I mentioned in an earlier blog that as part of the lead up to Bywater’s release of Perfect Pairing I would share some little videos about the setting of the story, Buffalo, NY.

This is one of the videos. It’s a really short little ditty for Food Truck Tuesdays in Larkin Square.  It’s safe for work and super short, so why not check it out right now?

 

So what do you think?  Do you have a favorite food truck?  Do you want to come visit mine?  Looking forward to reading Perfect Pairing? Let me know in the comments below, because I might just have to do another drawing for an advance review Copy of the book!

Perfect-Pairing-2

 

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

New Wondername

I interrupt your regularly scheduled book release prep to ask your help in a very important matter.

Don’t worry I’m going to have another Buffalove Blog coming soon, but in the mean time I’ve been working with more recent hobby: Photography.  I’m not formally trained, or inclined to be an artist, but I do have a lot of fun playing with my camera, and recently some people have begun to take notice. I’ve had a couple assignments with the local newspaper and this week a friend hired me to take some photos for her to use in promotional materials. On each of these occasions the people commissioning photos asked about the name of my photography business, and since I didn’t have a photography business I couldn’t give them the name.  I still don’t really consider myself in the photo business, but it does seem like I should at least have some sort of title to tell folks when they ask.  So, I did what any good social media director would do and punted the question over to Facebook where my awesome friends came up with some great options.

Then in great indecisive fashion instead of picking one for myself I picked a few of the ones I like best, and put them in a poll for people to choose for me.

I am going to leave the poll open until Sunday night, then I’ll announce the winner next week.

 

 

 

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Perfect Pairing: The Wake ‘N Bake

Hey friends,

First order of business, I have some books to give away.  I had such a great response to my National Grilled Cheese Day poll that I decided I couldn’t pick just one winner. I’ll have to pick two! After throwing the names of everyone who commented into a hat, my lovely wife Susie picked Elena and JJ Crab to win advanced review copies of Perfect Pairing!  Elena and JJ, you can email your address to Rachel_Spangler@yahoo.com, and I’ll get those mailed out by the end of the week.

But for those of you who didn’t win, I have another little gift for you in the form of a recipe and cooking video. Below you will find everything you need to learn how to make the very first sandwich from Perfect Pairing. It’s called the Wake ‘N Bake!

Here’s the full recipe:
8 Slices Thick cut bacon
1/4 cup coffee grounds
2 Tablespoons molasses or maple syrup
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch Cayenne
1 Tablespoon water

Egg
Slices sourdough bread
American Cheese
Butter

Layer the bacon so that each piece overlaps about half of the one above it, fat side up.  Mix coffee grounds, syrup, brown sugar, cayenne and water until it makes a paste.  Spread over bacon, cover and let stand two hours to overnight.

Heat griddle to approx 350. Pat excess grounds from bacon. Fry until crisp, cooking non-marinaded side first. (The side with the sugar on it will burn quickly, so don’t leave it down for long.)  Remove from griddle and cook egg over-easy to over-medium in the bacon grease.  Butter both sides of the bread.

Remove the egg, and toast one side of the bread. Flip the bread, then add egg, cheese, and bacon, then top with the other piece of bread, toasted side in.  Cook another minute or two on each side until bread is toasted and cheese is melted.

Slice and serve hot in order to get all the best that breakfast has to offer.  Enjoy!

April 20, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

National Grilled Cheese Day!

Hey folks!

It’s National Grilled Cheese Day!  I’m so excited!  Can’t you tell by all my exclamation points!?!

Okay I’ll stop now, but really, isn’t it grand to know that National Grilled Cheese Day even exists?  I certainly think so. It’s obviously extra special to me this year since we’re in the lead up to the the release of Perfect Pairing because of all the wonderful grilled cheese tie ins to the book.  So, I thought what better way to celebrate than by eating a grilled cheese, (which I encourage you do to no matter what) while reading your own advanced review copy (ARC) of Perfect Pairing?

What’s that you say?  You don’t have an ARC of Perfect Pairing?  Well I do!  For the first time in my whole career I actually have ARCS to share, and what better way to share them than with you, my lovely blog readers.

Perfect-Pairing-2

All you have to do is comment on the blog telling me your favorite cheese and you’ll be entered to win.  I’ll draw a winner out of the hat next week and post the result here.

In the mean time, go get a grilled cheese of your own!

April 12, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 61 Comments

Sunday’s Sermon

Alert:  This is not one of my book blogs. This post contains the sermon I preached at Fredonia Presbyterian Church last weekend. Several people have asked to see it so I’m sharing it here. If you’re not a spiritual person, or simply don’t like sermons feel free to pass, but come back later in the week for more news on Perfect Pairing.  For the rest of you, brace yourselves I had a lot to say.

Scripture reading: Acts 5:27-32

When Cynthia first asked me to preach the week after Easter, I thought for sure I’d get ol’ doubting Thomas from the lectionary. I had lots of things to say about Thomas. I was already writing that sermon in my head.

Then I actually checked the lectionary and realized I hadn’t drawn Thomas at all. I’d drawn Peter. Not only did I get Peter, I got him uttering a line that’s been used and abused by so many people that I cringe when I hear it: “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”

I have to admit, my first reaction was to just abandon the lectionary. I do not like this passage. I find this passage to be dangerous. This passage was used by segregationists to justify institutional racism even after the courts ruled it unconstitutional. This verse was recently used by Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to marry gay couples under her jurisdiction. This verse has even been used by people who bomb abortion clinics. It’s been used repeatedly by people who believe they can say and do whatever they want to make their point because they have God on their side. No. I wouldn’t preach on this.

Then I read it again. The whole passage. People who like to throw the verse around rarely give any context. In fact, I didn’t remember ever hearing any of the other parts, but I did remember the first time I’d heard that particular verse. In college I was with a group observing the National Day of Silence, which involves taking an eight-hour vow of silence to symbolize the way our culture silences gay youth. We were sitting silently on the quad when a religious group surrounded us and began preaching about how we would all burn in hell. We sat silently, helpless, unable to even raise our own voices in our defense. A university official finally came by and told them that what they were doing was not only hurtful, it was against the university’s non-discrimination policy. One of the preachers said, “We don’t have to follow the university rules because the Bible says we must obey God rather than any human authority.”

Later I was disheartened to hear how many of my friends just accepted that viewpoint. One student said, “I don’t believe in God anymore. There can’t be a loving God who lets his followers treat people like that.” No one questioned the verse or suggested it had been misused. They all just took it for granted that Christians had cart blanche to preach hate. I was heartbroken. For them, for me, for Christianity as a whole, and mostly for the God I believe loves me so much he died so I could have a relationship with him. A handful of bigots had ruined that relationship for all of us by claiming to speak for Him.

I guess by now you can tell I decided to preach on this passage after all. I don’t really believe in dumb luck, or coincidence, at least not where scripture is concerned. If nothing else, I can offer a unique perspective on the subject.

I feel well situated to talk about the consequences that claiming to speak for God can have on others. It seems obvious to me that those sorts of actions, the ones meant to silence other people or negate someone’s identity are hurtful. It follows logically that they’d be even more hurt if the person in question actually believed these things are done on behalf of God. And yet so few people who use God’s name seem to draw the connection. Obviously when someone invokes God to make a point, they’re trying to play a pretty big trump card, but I wonder if they actually stop to consider anything beyond affirming their own sense of self-righteousness. Do they ever think about what happens AFTER they’ve made their point?

Once at the Martin Luther King center in Atlanta, I saw an exhibit photo of a man sitting outside his restaurant with a shotgun across his lap and a sign quoting Bible verses about slaves and curses on Africans. He seemed to imply that those verses gave him a moral obligation to refuse service to African-Americans. I’ve often wondered what he thought African-Americans would make of his God. Did he really expect them to read his sign and say, “Well gee, he makes a good point. Maybe I should go back to being a slave”? Did it occur to him that his behavior might make people question the worthiness or even the existence of his God? Did he even care if he turned people away from God? Probably not. In his mind, he was right.

I think that’s human nature. We usually think we’re right. We rarely stake our emotions or our public perception on something we know to be false. We hold onto our core values so tightly because we believe them to be fundamentally true. Especially when it comes to the big-ticket beliefs surrounding things like politics or money or religion or baseball. Even though we all know we have flaws, we tend to think even those come from some reasonable place.

When there was a disagreement recently in the Spangler household, I had to report to a friend that Susie had been right and I had been wr… I was wro …Susie was right, and I was less right. It happens. We’re human. Sometimes we’re right, and sometimes we are less right. And because I’m usually the one in my relationships who is less right, I like to think I have a certain amount of understanding for other people who fall into the same category.

Most of us come from a good place, or even when we don’t come from a good place, we have a good reason. We’re hurt or scared or have been lied to. I have a lot of patience for people who are wrestling with hard things, because I’ve been there. But my fuse grows a lot shorter the moment people drag God into their arguments, because I’ve been there, too. It’s one thing to say, “I believe what you’re doing is abhorrent.” It’s another thing to say, “God thinks what you’re doing is abhorrent.”

Disagreements are part of life. Even disagreements about issues of faith. We’ve all had disagreements with other Christians. Many of us have even disagreed with a stated position of the church. And I think that’s a good thing. It challenges us, but it’s an even better thing that we’re all still here. I think for most of us, the good side of our religion has far outweighed the bad over the course of our lifetimes.

But we no longer live in a time where the bulk of people identify religiously. We cannot work under the assumption that the people we interact with have a lifetime of other experiences to draw from. Recent polls suggest that less than 30% of Americans attend church on a regular basis, and those numbers are dropping steadily for younger generations. For many people, especially young people, we have to assume we might be their only connection to the church, and in some cases their only connection to God. We may only get one shot to show them the God we serve. If we make a mistake in our own name, they could decide they don’t care to be around us any more. But if we make a mistake in the name of God, we could forever turn them away from the very concept of a loving creator.

Maybe in that moment we don’t care. To be honest, a lot of us, myself included, can get carried away. We can get so sure that we’re right, or that the person we’re arguing with too is so far gone they wouldn’t know Jesus if he descend from the clouds right then and there. I’ve been so scared or angry or hurt that all I wanted to do was end the argument by any means necessary, and if that meant calling on God to land a decisive blow, I would gladly do so. That’s not my most Christian impulse, but sometimes it’s really hard to consider the consequences of claiming God when we don’t particularly care about the person we’re arguing with. But what about the consequences to ourselves?

A very good writer once told me to be extra careful when spelling someone’s name. She said a person’s name is how they are made known to the world, and when you misspell someone’s name, you have, in all likelihood, used someone else’s name. What if the same is true for God? If we misuse the name of God, have we indeed called on someone else?

I’m a big fan of the theology of C.S. Lewis. Jackson and I are currently reading his Narnia books. My favorite of them is The Last Battle. It’s an “end of times” sort of story, and in the book the God figure, a lion called Aslan, has come in this rapture-esque moment and welcomes a man into heaven even though he lived a faithful life serving a god of a different name. The man says there must be a mistake because he never worshiped Aslan, but Aslan says that he had, actually. He explains that all good deeds are done in his name because he is the embodiment of all things good. And all bad deeds are done in the name of the devil or false gods.

In some ways it’s a comforting thought that all good deeds are done to the glory of God, but the other side is quite terrifying when you think about it. Anytime we claim the name of God wrongly, we have, in fact, participated in the worship of something other than God, whether that’s a false deity, or an idol cast in our own image.

Damage within and damage without. With one wrong assertion, we could separate ourselves and anyone else we happen to be dealing with from a full and close relationship with God. That’s a lot of pressure.

I wonder if Peter felt that kind of pressure when he stood before the councils in Jerusalem and then Rome. He seems so confident. Peter seems confident in a lot of passages actually, but he’s been wrong before. He’s the guy who denied Jesus three times on the eve of the crucifixion, so there’s kind of a precedent for him mucking these sorts of things up. Yet when most of the powerful leaders in his world had made laws against talking about Jesus, he broke them. Not only did he break them, he looked the leaders in the eye and told them he intended to keep breaking them. And he did, right up until his death. They tortured him for nine months, then crucified him upside down, and still he wouldn’t stop talking about Jesus. There are stories that say Peter was so sure in his convictions, so tenacious and charismatic about the love of Jesus, that he managed to convert his jailers and at least 47 other people in the prison.

Peter broke the laws gleefully and to great results. We call him a martyr and a saint. We revere him as the rock upon which Jesus built his church. We know he was right, as much as we know the guy with the shotgun across his lap in Atlanta was wrong. And yet the guy with the gun thought he had God on his side, too. He had the scripture to prove it. He no doubt saw himself as modern day Peter.

So what have we got from all my rambling? Right now it sort of feels like a big mess and time to wrap this up. What can we take away?

Well for one, if we take anything out of this, I hope it’s an understanding that claiming to speak for God is a dangerous business. There are potentially dire consequences for the people around us, for the perception of Christianity as a whole, and for our own relationship with God. No one should assume that risk lightly.

But we’ve also got a powerful example in Peter of how sometimes Christians are in fact called by a higher authority than the laws of man. How can we know what’s the true call? Peter himself offers us the first part of the answer, because unlike people who use the verse as an end to an argument, Peter actually uses it as the beginning of one. He doesn’t just say, I don’t have to listen to you because God says so. He goes on to explain that God exalted Jesus as Savior, that he might bring repentance and forgiveness of sins.” He says, “We are witness of these things.”

So Peter doesn’t actually say, “God gave us the authority to break all the laws we don’t agree with.” He doesn’t say we even have the right to break the laws that we think God disagrees with. He actually only says we have the God-given right to serve as witnesses to Jesus.

That narrows the window pretty significantly, doesn’t it? It cuts out a lot of things we like to drag God into now a days, because Jesus himself didn’t talk about many of them at all. He didn’t talk about elections, he didn’t talk about gay marriage, or segregation. He didn’t even talk about baseball.

He talked about caring for poor, feeding the hungry, and loving our neighbors, even those we consider to be enemies. But even more specifically than all of that, he actually gave us a definitive answer as to how we can tell if we’re acting as witnesses to him. It’s one of the last things he ever said to his disciples. “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

And do you know who is the first of all the disciples to respond? It’s Peter. That’s the moment, that’s the commandment that causes Peter to say he will follow Jesus even to the point of death. That’s how Peter knew he was right when he stood before the council. The Savior Himself had told him go share His love.

Love is the only guarantee we have. We are given no blanket permission to scream at people, to silence them, or write them off as less valuable to God. We’re not given a charge to guard our ideals at the end of a gun or to do harm physically or emotionally to those with whom we disagree. The only way the world will know God is through our actions, and the only way we ourselves know if we’re acting as true witnesses to Christ on His authority is to love others as Christ loved us.

The only law we’re given that supersedes the law of man is the law of love.

Amen

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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