Saturday, May 01, 2010

Baking Blogfest!

So the other day I was thinking about how sad it is that we, as writers, never really get to write The Happy Stuff. I mean, you can have happy moments in your book, but they can never last-- happiness doesn't drive stories forward, and it certainly doesn't keep readers interested. I figure, maybe for blogfests, I can get away with giving them some happy times without the threat of everything blowing up in their face...

The Baking Blogfest is being hosted by Charity Bradford at My Writing Journey and you should be sure to hop over there and see who all else is participating! My scene takes place in Asgard. It does not take place in any of my books. Consider it a self-contained moment, outside of real continuity! I've left the narrator unnamed purposely, so I guess there's still a little bit of mystery involved. I apologize if it isn't up to the level I usually produce!

The kitchens of Bilskirnir were enormous. She would never have any reason to complain about counter space or room to work, and certainly there was plenty of storage space. The pantry alone was twice as large as her dorm room had been, and the root cellar was just as large. There was just one problem, which Thor had promised to remedy, and she couldn't really blame him for not having found the time, all things considered. They'd barely been together before he'd been exiled, and she didn't really expect him to wire the halls in Asgard for electricity just for her convenience, anyway.

She kneaded the dough on the floured table. She had gotten a later start this morning than she meant to, but it had been a very long time since she had last been required to milk a cow, or hunt for eggs among the chickens.

It wasn't really that she minded doing things by hand, but she did miss having an oven which could be set to a specific temperature, and a solid electric mixer would have made bread making a much less time consuming activity. There were, after all, no grocery stores, no 7-11s, and no deliveries. If she wanted bread for sandwiches, or toast, or breadcrumbs, she had to make it by hand first, and Thor might have been able to live for decades off no more than mead and golden apples, but she certainly wasn't going to starve herself for the next millennia.

She wondered if it had been fifteen minutes yet. That was how long it usually took to knead the dough. But of course, along with electricity, Asgard also lacked clocks and timers. Normally she didn't mind it so much, but she had scorched three loaves of bread in the last week for having lost track of the time while in the garden, picking herbs and vegetables and waiting for it to bake.

Thor had teased her for it, and eaten it without complaint, telling her it was much better than anything he had made in the last 500 years. If it were even 300 years ago, she'd perhaps have been proud, but it wasn't, and in the modern world, there really was no reason why she couldn't produce bread of reliable quality!

"I know," Thor said, stepping in from the garden. He set a bucket of goat's milk on the counter and reached over her head into a cabinet. "A proper oven is on its way, I promise. And Ra said he would come tomorrow to help with the wiring."

"I didn't realize he was an electrician."

"He isn't. But he's closer to it than I am, and I can hardly bring a mortal here." He shrugged. "It's a shame that Hephaestus left, though. He would have loved a project like this."

"Were you friends with Hephaestus?"

Thor smiled, withdrawing a collection of cheese cloths and shutting the cabinet door. "Not exactly. Aphrodite was always trying to seduce me, and I think he appreciated the fact that I never took her up on it, but I was rarely on Olympus, and he rarely left it. There was no bad blood between us, though, and that is probably the best that can be said for a relationship with any god."

She grimaced at the thought of Aphrodite as competition, studying Thor as he sifted through the milk, drawing out curdles in the cloth, his red-gold hair falling into his eyes. She folded the bread once more and set it to rise before putting it in the brick oven beside the hearth.

"I didn't think Aphrodite took that kind of rejection well," she said, trying to keep her tone mild. There was so much she didn't know about his past. So many things he had experienced without her. And yet, she did not doubt her understanding of who he was, for all the mystery.

"Mm." He looked up from the milk and met her eyes. The blueness of them still startled her after all these years. "Then it was a very good thing I was not much on Olympus, wasn't it?"

"But how did you escape when you were there?" she asked, ignoring the way his eyes had crinkled in the corners with amusement. "And for that matter, why would you want to?"

"She was married, and so was I. It would have been dishonorable, and I had no desire to cause trouble for anyone, least of all myself." The smile left his face and he turned back to the milk, fishing for more curds. "Perhaps it was foolish of me, but I never had much interest in sharing a bed with someone I did not care for, no matter what their reputation might have been."

She touched his arm, feeling the muscles working beneath the warm skin as he rang the extra whey from the cheesecloth. So much strength. So much restraint. For so long. She rested her head against his shoulder. He paused in his work, some of the tension draining from him. No longer. They were together, now.

"The oven doesn't matter, Thor," she said.

He chuckled softly and she felt him kiss the top of her head. "All the same, you'll have it. And the mixer too."

Hope you enjoyed it! I'm spending today at the art museum, and meeting my new nephew tomorrow, so I will be reading everyone's entries slowly but surely over the next couple of days. Happy Blogfest!


  1. :D I think I might know who the narrator is. I have a big smile on my face! I love it.

  2. I knooowww. But you can see how such a quiet moment would never really make the cut into a book, you know?

  3. Can I just say how much I love your stuff? Like seriously. You just mixed Norse and Greek mythology. I'm dancing on the inside. Can I be one of your beta readers? lol So much better than my baking scene! I'm jealous. ;)

  4. Haha! Yeah, I did :) I think they are like puzzle pieces-- part of the same whole, we just have to play with them until we find the right fit. I'm glad you liked it!!

  5. So interesting. Love the mythology and the line - so much strength. So much restraint. Very good. Come check out mine.

  6. Amalia you are amazing! And why can't our MC's have one moment like this, towards the end? I've been accused of "snowballing" in my writing and my professor friend suggested I add a scene to relieve the tension in spots.

    I think it has to be done with care, and kept short and at the end of the scene throw in the next bit of conflict to pull the reader into the next chapter. Yeah, I've been thinking about this, but not figured out how to make it work perfectly yet.

    I always love your writing though. It flows and your characters are alive. Really.

  7. Oh I love this scene! I can see what you mean about slowing the pace down but I still love it ;~) I love the way you handle mythology.

    I'm no expert but think I have basic knowledge yet you still manage to find something new and interesting about the stories! I love how 3 dimensional they are here :~D

  8. The most telling conversations can happen in the kitchen. I could sense some tension in there. Nice job!

  9. Thanks Mary!

    Charity: You're right, they can have moments like these in the end zone, we skip a lot of the happy moments in favor of the conflict and the forward momentum. A moment here or there is all right, but you never get a book of Happy.

    Mia: Thanks! I'm glad you enjoy my spin, and I'm SUPER glad you think my stuff is 3-dimensional :)

    Andrew: I don't know about you, but in my family, we spend a LOT of time in the kitchen, chatting things up while we cook and prepare meals. Glad you liked it!

  10. Gods and down-to-earth cooking? Great mixture! If all "boring" happy scenes are like this one, then I think some of them should make the final cut!

  11. It is a quiet scene, but I like it. And there *is* the dynamic between the characters and the internal conflicts like jealousy. Tension in a scene doesn't have to come from overt action.

  12. Lena: Thanks so much! haha. I'm glad you liked it!

    VR: That's true. There is still conflict within the scene, but it's mostly resolved by the end. I can't imagine a string of scenes like this in a book. One maybe. Two if you're really good.

  13. The baking part was great, but I really loved the whole premise of the story. What a cool concept!

  14. Its so fascinating to me to read about mythical characters in modern settings...wiring and all that. I really like this post, especiall the line about his eyes wrinkling at the corners...that was very vivid. Great job on the baking post.


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