I’ve been asked many times if there would be a sequel to Emmy’s chocolaty adventures in Duluth and now I can happily say, YES! Today, I want to give you, my loyal blog readers, a chance to take a sneak peek.
Emmy Hudson is in over her head. This time she’s not just trying to convince herself she can run a successful chocolate business, nor is she cooking to impress a stuffy board of directors. This time she’s competing in a reality candy making championship and is trying to win over all of America.
The Vanderbilt Valentine’s Day Candy Making Competition, held at the famous Biltmore Estates, will host eight talented candy makers – all with jumbo sized hopes and dreams… and egos. Emmy wants desperately to win, and to prove to her tiny town she is more than a stay afloat business owner and the girl who dates Eddie Edwards.
Even though the North Carolina weather makes for easier winter driving, Emmy’s road to victory is paved in potholes. A snarky producer, a real life baker Barbie, and a talented pool of candy makers, not to mention a healthy dose of stage fright stand in her way. Being filmed for Prime Time TV in sunny North Carolina might sound more glamourous that Duluth in February, but Emmy is about the learn the hard way that sometimes, reality bites.
In this sequel to Champion Chocolatier, readers will find all of the sweetness and fun they fell in love with in the original. New locations, new characters and new challenges thicken the plot and will have Hallmark lovers and reality show junkies begging for another round of foody fun and delicious disasters.
This book has been so much fun to write and I can’t wait to share it with you. Champion Chocolatier: Reality Bites will be available for sale in early February. You can email me if you’d like to put yourself on the pre-order list.
Below you will find the first chapter, but if you want even more behind the scenes action, you can check out a few of my previous blog posts on the topic HERE and HERE. I will be celebrating the release of this book with a big ol’ fancy party at Le Chateau Restaurant in La Crosse, Wisconsin. You can find more details about the event HERE and HERE.
And now, with out any further adieu, I proudly present…
Emmy sneezed. 200 million virus particles spread faster than a bullet train from her nostrils, into the air space surrounding her bed. She was thankful to not be in her kitchen contaminating everything in sight, and simultaneously wishing she hadn’t let Eddie talk her into watching that epidemic documentary last night on Netflix. It was one thing to feel sick, but another thing entirely to know the scientific effect of every cough, sneeze and sinus twinge. Emmy lay back down on her pillow and wondered how there was room for all of these thoughts in her head when it felt like sludgy mucous occupied every available millimeter of her body from the neck up.
She glanced at the clock. 7:13 am. When you ran your own business, sick days were non-existent. During tourist season Emmy worked every day. The past year had seen enough success that she was able to hire a few part time employees though, so Emmy reached for her phone and texted the most reliable one. After securing Jenna to come into work, and texting Rachel the updated employee roster for the day, she swallowed two gel caps promising quick relief and collapsed back into bed.
Emmy woke hours later, still unable to breathe through her nose. Obscuring the view of her clock was a tall cup of to-go coffee and a cranberry orange muffin. Eddie had scrawled a note.
Rest up. I’ll see you after work. Feel better soon!
P.S. Remember that your sneeze particles can travel up to twenty feet, so if you could contain your sickness just to our bedroom that would cut down on my cleaning time tonight. Thanks, hun!
Emmy propped herself up in bed, took a drink of the lukewarm coffee and reached for her phone to text Eddie a thank you. But an email notification froze her hand, leaving it hovering over the smooth glass surface of the screen. Emmy blinked twice. Maybe she was hallucinating? Maybe she had taken too many cold medicine capsules? But no, despite clearing her groggy vision the message was still there.
YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED.
Emmy swiped at the screen and opened the email.
You have been selected to compete in the Vanderbilt Valentines Candy Making Competition! 8 talented candy makers from around the country will be competing on live TV for the chance to win $100,000. To sweeten the deal, the winner will also secure a traditional publishing contract with EatTV for a cook book. Just imagine, a cookbook featuring fabulous YOU and your recipes.
Each contestant will be expected to spend two weeks at the Vanderbilt Estates, Biltmore, for the filming of the show, sign insurance and press release waivers, and complete the contestant questionnaire. (Additional duties maybe added upon the discretion of the producer.)
A camera crew and our host, Pierce Beaumont will arrive at your store, at 2 pm on Tuesday, January 23. Please be ready to give us a tour of your store and have a selected treat ready for tasting.
We look forward to meeting you in person and wish you the best of luck in this exciting competition.
Remember, life is as sweet as you make it!
EatTV Executive Producer
Emmy read the message through twice. Then she leapt from the bed and danced, her knees and arms a wild and uncoordinated flurry of extreme happiness.
And then she coughed, hard. The blunt force of her sickness knocked her backward to her bed where she sat down violently hacking at the flehm in her throat. She grabbed a Kleenex, blew her nose and then looked at her phone again.
Wait. January 23. That’s today. Today!
Emmy whipped her head around to view the clock. The room spun. 12:02. The crew would be arriving in less than two hours.
“Oh, no, no, no!” Emmy moaned. She ran her hands through her hair and tried to gather her thoughts. How could this be happening? She thought about checking the time stamp on the email to see if she had somehow missed its arrival weeks before or calling to see if they would reschedule. But there wasn’t time.
“Rachel,” Emmy barked into the phone, her voice a rich baritone. “It’s Emmy. This is going to sound crazy but tell Jenna to take down all of the remaining Christmas decorations as fast as possible. Tell her to put up our February décor. I need you to whip up a batch of nothing fancy fudge. Make it red. We have two hours.”
“Emmy? I thought you were sick. What’s going on?”
“We made it into the competition Rachel! The Vanderbilt Valentines Candy making competition! And the are coming to the store to do an interview at 2:00 pm.”
“Yes! I just got the email. I’ll explain more when I get to the store. Just please, hurry!”
“All good Emmy, you can count on us.”
Emmy breathed a sigh of relief. If anyone could pull this off, Rachel could. She could. Together they could.
Twenty minutes later Emmy walked into the store a mouth breathing mess. She had managed to dress in something clean and dry shampoo her hair, but that was about it.
The store, however, looked great. Better than great. It looked incredible.
Maybe they will be so busy admiring the store that they won’t focus on me, Emmy thought.
Not only were the last remnants of Christmas completely cleared form the store, but Jenna was in the process of redecorating the tree (oh god, Emmy had completely forgotten about the tree!) with red ribbon and glass heart ornaments.
Emmy started to express her thanks, but Rachel told her there wasn’t time. She threw Emmy a bundle of red cloth and told her to sit.
“By some sort of miracle, the shipment of red aprons arrived this morning,” Rachel said as she attacked Emmy’s hair. She pulled it back into a sleek bun and tied a piece of left-over tree ribbon around it. Then she spun her around and fixed her eye make-up. “There, much better.”
Emmy checked her watch. 12:52. They had just about an hour until Pierce and the camera crew were scheduled to show up. Emmy told Jenna to finish up the tree and delegated the kitchen tasks to Rachel. There was no way she was going to serve snot-infested fudge to her guests. It would be safer to stay out of the kitchen all together, at least until absolutely necessary. Emmy set out table runners and votive candles on the booth tables and then speed walked through a trial tour, mentally practicing the things she would say.
Their flurry of activity was obvious to any customers who wandered into the store. They refused Emmy’s offer of conducting business as usual and promised to stop back later. Besides, that way the could hear all about whatever big-to-do was clearly in progress. The last person to walk in the door was Ben, the florist. In his arms was a gigantic vase of long-stemmed roses.
“Eddie,” was all he said. He set them on the pedestal near the door usually reserved for samples and then slipped out the door.
At 1:54 Emmy’s cold medicine felt like it was working for the first time all day and at 1:59, Pierce Beaumont walked into Sweet Shores Chocolate Store.