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Saturday, April 9, 2011

PREQUEL TO "SUNNY DAYS, MOONLIT NIGHTS" Installment #2

Today is the second installment of the prequel to "Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights". I hope you like this "story before the book". Please leave a comment. I love feedback. Thank you for coming.

SUNNY DAYS/MOONLIT NIGHTS PREQUEL #2

            Sunny awoke to find her mother wearing her reading glasses, poring over the newspaper.
            “Can  I have the want ads?” She asked.
            Her mom handed her part of the paper. Sunny picked up a pen and began to search the section under the heading “Teachers Wanted” for a position teaching art, now she had her Masters degree. The young artist didn’t fight her mother’s suggestion she find a job teaching, but she refused to change her major to education, preferring to continue with her fine arts degree.
Linda relented, knowing how strong the pull for an artist to create. Her late husband, Alex Davis, was a very talented artist.
            Linda fell in love with Alex in college. He spotted her in the quad and drew a quick sketch. Crowned homecoming queen two weeks before, she was quite stunning and admired by most of the guys on campus. Alex, being painfully shy, dropped his sketch on the grass in front of her as his way of introduction.  Linda picked it up, looked at it then at him. He got so flustered he dropped his sketchpad, pencils and chalks in the grass in front of her. She laughed as she helped him gather everything up.
            His hand touched hers when she handed him back his sketch pad and their eyes met. His shy smile grew bigger and his blue eyes danced when they met hers. She was captivated by him.
He invited her to sit for him and published his drawing in the school magazine, which brought her invitations for dates from a dozen guys, much to Alex’s distress.
            Alex didn’t have much money but he was loaded with charm and ingenuity. He took her on the most interesting dates, picnics in the woods, bird watching, late night skinny dipping in an off campus lake where Linda succumbed to his desire for her, giving up her virginity in the throes of her passion for this amazing man.  They became inseparable. While some of the girls wondered what Linda saw in the shy artist with the uncertain future, others saw the sweet man inside who was so desperately in love with Linda he would do anything for her.
            Graduation came and Linda received her nursing degree. Unwilling to be separated, they eloped, since her parents didn’t approve of her marrying a “starving” artist.  They moved to New York City where Linda found work and Alex painted. He continued to do portraits of his lady love and they lived on love in a tiny apartment.
            After a few years of struggling, it became apparent Alex would have to take a job. Their lack of money put a strain on their life together. He found a job teaching for a few years and the couple’s deep love continued to burn. City funding for school arts programs dried up and Alex was out of a job. He then began his string of unfulfilling jobs, mostly sales, which he hated but worked at anyway, desperate to keep his homecoming queen happy and well fed.
            While work days were stressful, nighttime was passionate. Linda’s respect for Alex’s talent grew as he continued to create. Sometimes he would paint or draw into the wee hours of the morning on weekends. Artwork filled their house, hung on walls and stacked in closets.
            Desperate to make money from his artwork, Alex and Linda attended every gallery showing and opening they could. After six months, Alex got his turn. One painting in one gallery made them hopeful. It sold and the gallery requested more of his work.
            It wasn’t long before Alex’s work was hanging in a few galleries in Soho and Greenwich Village. But sales were bumpy. Some weeks he would sell a painting then four weeks would go by with nothing. The extra money was always needed as Alex kept losing jobs or quitting because he couldn’t force himself into the regular work mold. Linda dreaded those days when she came home to find him sitting with a glass of wine, staring out the window. He was always sorry but it didn’t help.
            Then it happened. Linda became pregnant and the stress in their lives doubled instantly. Linda worried how they would live if she couldn’t work. Alex was thrilled. Fatherhood came easily to him. The prospect of having his own child as a playmate lifted his heart. He took jobs working in stores, two jobs a day, to have enough put aside for Linda to take a few months off.
            When Sunny was born, Linda insisted on giving her a beautiful, dignified name, Caroline, but Alex slipped “Sunshine” in as her middle name. He always called her “Sunny” insisting she brought sunlight into his life. The first few months were heaven as Linda, Alex and Sunny cocooned together, going for walks, playing, laughing and loving. Passion returned to Alex and Linda when they weren’t up at night with the baby.
            When Linda returned to work, she created a schedule where she would work at night while Alex minded the baby and he would work during the day. Time for painting and time for making love was reduced to a minimum. Still, they managed to make ends meet and stay together. As Sunny grew, Alex found steady work word processing for a law firm. The work paid well even though he hated it. When Sunny became four, Linda found the cabin in The Birches. It was cheap, so she and Alex bought it. Linda went there for the summer with Sunny while Alex stayed behind to work and paint in the city, joining them on weekends.
            Alex’s work sold in galleries, providing the money for upkeep on the house. But his work found its most loving audience in the country. People in Pine Grove, though they couldn’t afford City prices, scooped up all the work Alex chose to sell up there. When Sunny was five, Alex presented her with her first box of serious colored pencils. She took a small sketchpad and joined her father on weekend jaunts to paint or draw the beautiful scenery.
            Linda had no idea her daughter’s love for her father was an outgrowth of the artistic talent she shared with him. It wasn’t long before Alex hung Sunny’s work up in their cottage alongside his. The little girl and her father were inseparable. Alex found time on weekends to rekindle his passion with Linda. They occasionally slipped down to the lake at midnight for skinny-dipping which always ended up in passionate lovemaking.
            Those weekends together reminded Linda why she loved Alex so much, why she married him, instead of one of the wealthier boys at college who wanted her. The small family laughed and cooked together, enjoyed being part of the community and then separating themselves for their own quiet times. It was idyllic and they had never been happier.
            Heavy rain on and off for two days drenched the countryside, by the time Alex boarded the bus for Pine Grove, some roads and streets were flooded. Water cascaded over the highway obscuring the bus driver’s view, limiting his ability to judge how deep the water was when he hit a puddle going too fast. The bus accident killed eight people. Alex Davis didn’t survive.
When the news arrived at Pine Grove, something inside Linda died with him. A portion of her heart sealed over, never to be touched by another man. Sunny was hysterical for days, waking up every morning to remember her beloved father was gone.
            The serious struggles for money began when Alex died. He left no life insurance, having no expectation of death so young. Linda worked as hard as she could while Sunny went to school, but they watched every dime, stretching every dollar to make it do for two. The stress of being only one step ahead of poverty further hardened Linda. Second-hand clothes, scholarship to college, all the pressures of living for two on a small salary became Linda’s preoccupation. Without her beloved Alex, she changed, fun and frolicking were snuffed out as she determined to find a better life for her daughter.
            “So, no teaching jobs?” Linda asked Sunny.
            She shook her head.
            “I found something.”
            Sunny looked at her mother and cocked an eyebrow.
            “Look here. A listing of the charity functions,” Linda pointed out.
            “You think we should be the recipients of charity? Things aren’t that bad.”
            “A perfect place to socialize, mingle with the rich.”
            Sunny grabbed the paper and read the listings.
            “Five hundred dollars a ticket! You’re kidding. Where would we get that kind of money to toss away on a dinner?”
            “Some are less. Some are less. Here’s one that is $150 a plate. We can squeeze out $300. I’ve put a little bit aside. Kind of like a dowry, since you will be getting married someday.”
            “Don’t hold your breath, Mom. Prince Charming isn’t exactly beating down my door.”
            “Not yet, but he will. Look at you, Caroline. You’re beautiful. We’re going. I’ll go with you so you don’t have to worry about being shy.”
            “Just pin a sign on my back, ‘Daughter for Sale’,” Caroline said, refilling her coffee.
            “Hush! That’s a terrible thing to say. Is it a crime for a mother to want her daughter…well fixed?”
            “That depends, Mom…”
            “I’m going to the fabric store today. You need a suitable dress,” Linda said, folding up the newspaper.
            “I’m late for work,” her daughter said, looking at her watch.
            “Perhaps it won’t be long before you leave your job at Macy’s behind for a life of luxury, my dear,” Linda said, giving Sunny a kiss.
“Keep dreamin’, Mom."


A few words about the book:

Caroline Davis White is a well-known artist married to a philandering multi-millionaire. She has everything any woman could wish for except love. Brad refuses to give her the divorce she so desperately wants.  With no money, family, or friends, she flees to the small community in Catskill Mountains where she spent her summers as a child.
Mike Foster, Caroline’s childhood crush grown up, achieved success and made more money than he could ever have dreamed, but it destroyed his marriage and cost him his son.  He is wary of women who find his wallet more attractive than his good looks.
Caroline reconnects with the life she had and friends from long ago. Mike steps out of her teenage dreams into her life again, looking more handsome and tempting than ever. She knew who he was then…but who is he now?

Buy links:
Publisher: http://www.astraeapress.com
(multiple formats)
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Sunny-Moonlit-Nights-Joachim-ebook/dp/B004MMEFMG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301849536&sr=8-1
Barnes & Noble:    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sunny-Days-Moonlit-Nights/Jean-Joachim/e/2940012255570/?itm=1&USRI=sunny+days%2c+

Thursday, April 7, 2011

CAN A ROMANCE WRITER BECOME ANNIE OAKLEY?


            Author credibility is important to me. I’m writing a sequel to “Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights” and my hero is teaching my heroine to shoot a rifle.
            How can I write a scene about learning to shoot if I don’t know how to shoot? Gun-phobe that I am I screwed up my courage and made a date with a pistol range in New York City. I hauled my non-gun toting, non-hunting butt down there through a driving rain.
            Being a romance writer, I had to find the romance in the situation. Maybe the instructor would be cute? I wore a low-cut top and snug jeans, hoping for a little flirtation with Pistol Pete. Big mistake! Who knew smokin’ hot bullet shells fly out of a fired gun, possibly ricocheting right down my d├ęcolletage? John, my instructor, warned us. Ouch! So much for sexy.
            Worrying about getting burned in a sensitive place by a hot bullet shell didn’t help my nerves. John was so sweet and calming. He told me the ultimate truth, an echo from my friend, Alex, who said you can’t fire a gun if your finger isn’t on the trigger. 
            John is not tall and is unprepossessing with both arms completely tattooed, like sleeves, which didn’t go with his shy demeanor. He is patient and has a sense of humor. I liked him. Good thing since I trusted him with my life!
            He told us how to avoid shooting ourselves in the hand or foot, how to handle the gun and all in a calm, quiet voice. His calmness made me calm. I suppose you don’t want to be too upbeat with newbie gun handlers who might go hot dog on you.
I refrained from asking him how many people get injured there each year…and if anyone has been killed. Especially after signing a waiver of responsibility for my death!  He didn’t volunteer that information, probably because he didn’t want me to run screaming out the door or lose their $65.00.
            We were a small class, four women, all considerably younger. Older women have more sense…most older women. The form we filled out asked about my position as a law enforcement person, I laughed and scratched that out and wrote in “writer”.  My fellow classmates were probably police. Get ready to look like a jerk, Jean.
            Time to load our magazines. Time to shoot. I was wondering about glasses. I wear glasses for distances. I put on my glasses then the protective glasses over them. Couldn’t see the sites at all. Chuck the prescription glasses.
            I picked up the gun, loaded the magazine then pulled back the bolt. WRONG! Still, it worked. Picked up the rifle, holding it the way John told me and waited for my arm to stop shaking. After a couple of minutes I realized my arm was not going to stop shaking. Held my breath, concentrated on looking at the sites, where was that little gold ball, dammit… and fired.

            The sound was deafening, then I remembered my ear muffs. No kick to the gun, though as John told us. Made a mental note to take out the part where the kick from the gun knocked April into Gavin’s arms from my work-in-progress.  Have to find another way to get them together.
            Had no idea if I even hit the target without my prescription glasses. So I kept shooting. Boom, Boom…this was fun. Emptied another magazine when John came over. And that’s when he said it… “You’re a regular Annie Oakley.” Surprised, I looked at him with disbelief, then I almost kissed him. I put on my real glasses and…holy crap! The bulls-eye was getting torn up!
            I loaded up again. My confidence was stoked as I fired away, feeling like Rambo…until the gun jammed. You’re supposed to pull the bolt back before you put in the magazine. John bailed me out a couple more times before it sunk in. At least Rambo knew how to load his gun.
            At one point, I didn’t believe I was doing so well, and wheeled the target closer to have a better look. Damn, I was Annie Oakley! I fired the rest of the magazine and practically blew the smoke from the tip. I swear I was three inches taller when I was done. I refuse to say whose face I saw while aiming at the target…but you know who you are!
  I had the best score…by far! I saw by the tiny light going on in John’s eyes…he was impressed, even if I was stupid enough to wear a low cut top to the rifle range, I was one pistol-packin’ mama.  
            He whipped out his cell phone and took pictures of the target. I was thrilled. When we packed up, a couple of guys looked at my target and asked me, “first time?” I nodded, beaming. Crack shot, sharpshooter, Quick Draw McGraw… a rifle-virgin no more, that’s me. I’ve put John’s picture up here so you know I’m telling the truth.  Am I going back? Try to keep me away.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

CONFESSION AND LIES WEDNESDAY!

We have two short confessions and lies today, both true stories both using pseudonyms to protect their privacy. Please leave a comment. Your feedback and opinions are always welcome.


As told to Jean by Susan:
When I was thirteen there were two boys in my life. One was Chris, my heartthrob, also my best friend’s boyfriend. The other was Luke. We hung around together every day after school. Luke liked me, but I only had eyes for Chris. Being a great friend, I never say anything about it to him.

Luke asked me out on a date, or our thirteen-year-old version of a date. I didn’t like him that way, so I lied and said my mother forbid me to go out on dates until I was fourteen. Surprise, surprise, Chris and my friend broke. Now I wanted to go out with him, but couldn’t because of my lie. You might say I deserved that and maybe I did. I waited for a year and then Chris and I went on to other people. But Luke stayed in my life.

I have a house on the beach I share with my family. Luke has a house there, too. Yes, I see him from time to time now that we are adults. He is married now and I am not. Do I wonder what would have happened if I gone out with him instead of lying? Sure I do. Hey, Luke, if you ever get divorced…I’m not thirteen anymore.

As told to Jean by Angela:

My boss who hired me for my first job in advertising where I wasn’t a secretary was a flamboyant, kind of crazy lady, brusque but nice to me. It wasn’t long though before I realized she was presenting my work as hers. I did a slow boil over this for months feeling helpless.

She was married to a sweet man but was having an affair with a guy at another agency. He was married, too. I wondered why she strayed given her adorable husband. I was single at the time. As time went on, I got madder and madder while I watched her present material I created to clients and keep me out of meetings. I’m not big on revenge these days, but then I was salivating for it. Opportunity presented itself when she went on vacation with her husband.

There was some industry party or other and her married boyfriend “Peter” was there. I was surprised to find “Peter” was as interested in playing around with me as with my boss. So I took him home with me. After a torrid few hours together, I understood why she was with him. He was quite a skilled lover.When she returned from vacation, I never told her I slept with “Peter” but enjoyed the satisfaction privately.
   
My boss eventually got fired because you can't go on hiding behind someone else's work forever and a year later, I went on to another agency. About five years after, I met “Peter” again at an industry function. I gave him a warm greeting and he was obviously embarrassed because he didn’t remember me. That blew me away! I couldn't  imagine not recognizing someone I had slept with. Perhaps the revenge I got on my boss was revisited on me in the end.

TOMORROW:  CAN A ROMANCE WRITER BECOME ANNIE OAKLEY?


Publisher: http://www.astraeapress.com
(multiple formats)
 Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Sunny-Moonlit-Nights-Joachim-ebook/dp/B004MMEFMG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301849536&sr=8-1
Barnes & Noble:    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sunny-Days-Moonlit-Nights/Jean-Joachim/e/2940012255570/?itm=1&USRI=sunny+days%2c+moonlit+nights


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

WHAT GOES INTO A GREAT HERO IN ROMANCE?

Today is the first day of my blog series on heroes. My first question is to the writers, do we write heroes the way we want them, see them, or do we write them to please our readers. I think the answer is both. 

Today I'll be posting writers writing about what they look for in their heroes, what is important to have in a hero and I'm expecting readers everywhere to tell us if we are right or wrong!

Since a hero is male, I's starting with a man's point of view first. Welcome Alex Sinclair, an excellent writer of erotica and erotic romance, gothic romance, action and adventure, paranormal romance, historical romance and suspense novels.

"Traits of a hero...?

A hero should be scared, uncertain, fragile and knows pain. I like my heroes to be slightly darker because they have lived through bad times and terrible events. They know the suffering others will feel if they don't step up. They put themselves in harms way without a moments hesitation, whilst inside a whirlwind of emotion and fears shows that externally they are brave, but internally they are just like every other person. This is what a hero is to me."


Follow Alex at his blog: http://sinclairbooks.blogspot.com or 
join his group at http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/45395.Sinclair_Books


Now for female perspective. To me, a great hero is a combination of what men are in real life and what they are not. A great hero is brave, kind, imperfect and always up for sex like men often are in real life and a good listener, unembarrassed by his woman's show of emotions and always available...like men sometimes are not in real life! Seriously, if my hero isn't sweet and good to his woman I won't like him and my readers won't like him. Handsome helps, though drop-dead gorgeous isn't necessary.


What about his physical characteristics? I try to mix it up with size, but often end up with tall. My heroes are blond or brunette. I've never had a red-headed hero, I'm embarrassed to say. 

I don't like to be too descriptive about him physically because I want the reader to envision him her own way, making him her hero. I find that hooks a reader into the story better, making it more emotional and compelling. 


What does he do for a living? So far my heroes have been college professors, deans, soldiers, scientists and I'm now writing about my first fireman, *sigh*! Even a college professor can keep his woman safe, which is a must for my heroes. If your hero can't keep you safe, then he doesn't qualify as a hero. 


What qualities do you look for in a fictional hero? What must he have to win your heart? Please leave your comments. We writers always want to know what our readers think.

Look for hero-talk here on Tuesdays. Tomorrow is Confessions and Lies Wednesday! 

 
http://www.astraeapress.com
(multiple formats)

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Sunny-Moonlit-Nights-Joachim-ebook/dp/B004MMEFMG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301849536&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble:    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sunny-Days-Moonlit-Nights/Jean-Joachim/e/2940012255570/?itm=1&USRI=sunny+days%2c+moonlit+nights

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday from newest release "Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights"

She had been planning to leave Brad for the past three
months. Her suitcases were packed, but the time never seemed
right. After Stan’s visit, if she had any thoughts about staying, they
were gone. Her relationship with Brad had deteriorated beyond
repair and she had to leave…immediately before she had to face
another degrading situation like the one with Stan. She finished her
coffee and called for Harry.
“Would you please help me load up my car?”
“Right away, Miss,” he said.
Caroline led him into her bedroom to get two suitcases and
several small oil paintings.
“Harry…don’t put the luggage and things in the Bentley,” she
instructed.
“You’re not taking the Bentley?” he asked, raising his
eyebrows in surprise.
“No. Put everything in the Mazda,” she said, ready to be rid of the
trappings of wealth.
“Yes, Miss,” he said, picking up the two heavy suitcases.

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Sharing with you a brand new four-star review just posted today at: http://onehundredromances.blogspot.com/2011/04/review-sunny-days-moonlit-nights.html?zx=e23699a97e552ee8

PREQUEL: The first installment of the prequel to "Sunny Days" is available below. Prequel installments will happen weekly. Happy Sunday!

Buy links:
http://www.astraeapress.com
Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/Sunny-Moonlit-Nights-Joachim-ebook/dp/B004MMEFMG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1301829377&sr=1-1
Barnes & Noble - http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sunny-Days-Moonlit-Nights/Jean-Joachim/e/2940012255570/?itm=1&USRI=sunny+days%2c+moonlit+nights

COMING SOON: A series on "What makes a good hero?", with interviews and comments from many different writers.