Hot Fun in the Summertime by Joan Reeves

The Trouble With Love by Joan Reeves

The Trouble With Love: a Romantic Comedy set in a hot Texas summer.

Today’s post has a soundtrack: that classic rock song Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly and the Family Stone. Feel free to hum along.

I went to school in the “write a theme” era. I liked to write so that didn’t bother me.

Except the first week of every school year.

Every year, it was always the same. That dreaded command from the teacher: “Write a theme about how you spent your summer vacation.”

You see, my parents worked hard just to make ends meet. There was nothing in the family budget for vacations of any sort. My summers were always spent the same way: working at the farm in the kitchen garden. Our kitchen garden was humongous because it provided food for the entire year.

In the spring, we kids helped plant the garden. Then came the weekends we spent attacking the weeds with the sharp blade of a hoe. When school was out, every day was spent at the garden, keeping the weeds away from the plants, picking the peas — 2 or 3 varieties, beans — string beans and 2 varieties of butterbeans, squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, corn, and eggplant plus other veggies.

Of course, everything that was picked had to be: washed, shelled or cut up, then canned and/or frozen. The days were endless, and the work never ending. All these years later, just writing about it makes me remember how exhausted I was at the end of each day.

There may have been hot fun in the summertime somewhere in the world, but it wasn’t in the rural area where I grew up. A theme about how I spent my summer? Why not just copy the paper I wrote the year before or the year before that?

Imagination Training Camp

I think working those endless days were a training camp for my imagination. When you’re moving from squash plant to squash plant, picking the vegetables that seemed to grow larger before your very eyes, there was nothing to do but think. That was when I started making up stories in my head and letting them play like a movie.

Summer Heat

I’ve set several of my books in the summertime. I guess because I grew up in Louisiana where the summers offered blistering days, spectacular sunsets, and sultry nights. Heat is almost like a character in that it can affect the mood, the temper, and even affect how one dresses which can lead to all sorts of problems. Just take a look at my romantic comedy The Trouble With Love when by-the-book Deputy Susannah Quinn dons a bikini!

Bet You’re Wondering

My summers did get better as I grew up. There were summers when I traveled to other countries like the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Italy, France — oh, and Disney World. *g* Perhaps the lack of vacations when I was growing up prompted my love of travel.

This Summer

Then there’s this summer when I traveled a lot — on the road from the house I sold to our weekend home where I moved my office. Back and forth from the Houston-area to the Texas Hill Country. Now, I’m ensconced up on the hill, watching the grass grow — when there’s rain — and watching it burn to a crisp when there’s not a drop of precipitation in sight.

Grab A Free Book

Whatever you do this summer, enjoy it. For everyone who comments on this post, from now through Sunday midnight, I’m offering a free copy of The Trouble With Love from Smashwords. Just make a comment and leave your email address if you want a copy of this romantic comedy that’s hotter than a bowl of Texas chili.

Post Script

Joan Reeves writes sassy, sexy Romantic Comedy. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit SlingWords or Joan’s Website.

Lazy Summer Days by Joan Reeves

SouffleTo twist a Steinbeck title, “This is the summer of my discontent.”

You see, I’ve spent the last few months in an assortment of delightful activities like jury duty, taking family members in for surgery, de-cluttering the house, giving said house the HGTV treatment (which means making it look as if no one lives in it), and putting it on the market to sell. Which it did — in 3 days.

Then the insanity of all this deepened into frantic packing in order to move out the last day of this month. Suffice it to say that I’ve been away from Main Street for so long that I thought I might need a compass to find my way back.

I’m Back

Fortunately, I just followed the delightful aroma of all the good food that the talented Authors of Main Street have been cooking up this month. I love food. I love cooking,  talking about food, sharing recipes, and eating of course. (I don’t like cleaning up the mess though and would love a sous chef to step in to handle that odious task.)

In all my romantic comedies, food is talked about and enjoyed. I’ve started sharing the recipes within the books and on my websites. Today, I’d like to share a recipe that’s perfect for the summer. It’s a lemon dessert the heroine makes in Cinderella Blue, my new book — coming in August if I can just get my office set up after this move.

Lazy Lemon Soufflé (okay, this is really a pudding, but let’s be fancy-schmancy and call it soufflé)

Ingredients
· 1 cup white sugar
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 4 tablespoons plain white flour
· 1 lemon
· 2 eggs
· 1 cup milk
· 1 tablespoon melted butter

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Select an ovenproof baking dish that will make a lovely presentation since you’ll be serving directly from the baking dish. Also put on some water to boil for step 6.

2. Grate the rind of the lemon until you have 2 teaspoons of rind. Squeeze the lemon to yield at least 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. In a bowl, mix sugar, salt, flour, rind, and juice.

3. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a glass or metal bowl, not plastic. (Egg whites won’t beat well in plastic.) In a large measuring cup or small bowl, beat the yolks, milk, and butter. Add this to the flour mixture. Then beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold this into the flour mixture.

4. Pour the mixture into the ovenproof bowl. Set the dish in a larger ovenproof pan. Pour hot water in the outer pan. (This technique is called a water bath, and it keeps soufflés and puddings from burning or getting hard on the bottom and sides.) The water should come up the side of the baking dish holding the pudding about an inch.

5. Bake at 325 for about 50 minutes. You know it’s done when you insert a knife around the sides and there’s no liquid left because it’s all been absorbed.

6. Serves 4-6. This delicate lemon dessert is as light and delicious as any soufflé you’ve ever had, but it’s much easier to make which is why I call it a lazy soufflé. Oh, and it’s good either hot or cold.

Perfect Combo: Dessert & Free Book

Whip up this dessert, chill it, and spoon it up while you read one of my sassy, sexy romantic comedies! In fact, I’ll make it easy to get one of my books. Leave a comment with your name, and I’ll send you a Smashwords coupon for a book of your choice!

Bon appetit! Bonne lecture! (Good Reading)

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romance Novels. For your consideration, get your flirt on with any of her novels, available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Find Joan Online: Blog ~ Website ~ Facebook ~ Google+ ~ Twitter ~ YouTube)

What Is A Romance Novel by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves — Available Now!

What is a romance novel?

As a reader, you may be surprised that the answer to that question frequently is under discussion by romance authors and the main organization of romance authors.

Sure, you know that the romance novel is a literary genre, and that the primary focus in this genre is the relationship – the love – between two people. Once, publishers of romance novels demanded writers end the story with a happily ever after. Now, publishers often ask for writers to end stories with an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

To me, there’s a huge difference between happily ever after and emotionally satisfying and optimistic. I suppose the new romance novel standard is supposed to reflect the cynicism of contemporary times.

A Teensy History

In 1740, Samuel Richardson penned Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. Considered the first romantic novel, Pamela had two surprising elements that were different from other novels. First, it focused almost entirely on courtship. Second, the novel was told from the viewpoint of a female protagonist.

In the next century, the remarkable Jane Austen, whose Pride and Prejudice is often considered the pinnacle of the genre, came along. She inspired Georgette Heyer – I always think of her as the twentieth century Jane Austen – who introduced historical romances in 1921.

About 10 years later, a small British company called Mills and Boon began publishing what were called category romance novels – short books with a set number of pages and standard elements. The Mills and Boon romances were resold for a North American market by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. Harlequin marketed directly to readers and allowed mass-market merchandisers to sell the books too and the genre was off and running.

Then, in 1972, Avon published The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, the first single title romance novel to be published as a paperback original, and the modern romance genre was born.

My How You’ve Grown

From then until now, there have been a lot of romance novels published. The genre has grown and given birth to sub-genres of every possible variation. It has become the most popular genre in North America where it accounts for more than half of all paperback books sold.

Romance isn’t just a North America phenomenon. The genre is also popular in Europe, the UK, and Australia. In fact, romance novels are published in more than 90 languages.

Hey, Girls! Guess What?

For years, the romance novel was decried as being lowbrow and read by women who were out of touch with reality. We’re not out of touch with reality. We just know what we want. Sadly, many women don’t get that overwhelming love and romanticism from the men in their lives, but many women do have that.

I sometimes think a good romance novel sets the standard for the kind of love and romance a woman wants in a relationship. If a man really wants to know what a woman wants, he should read a good romance novel.

I find it heartwarming — and a bit ironic — that our beloved genre is now the most popular, best selling genre of all time. Tell that to your romance-dissing acquaintances the next time they start talking about how romance novels aren’t “real” books!

With all the changes and growth in the romance genre, I guess it’s not surprising that the happily ever after morphed into the optimistic and satisfying. But, I’m not willing to give up my happily ever after – in real life or fiction.

Maybe, it’s because the traditional ending is all about love — lasting love. Today, in the wake of so much death and destruction in the news, I find myself thinking about the importance of love. In the end, it’s the most important thing in anyone’s world.

With the romance novels I write, like my latest novel, SCENTS and SENSUALITY, I aim high. I want that happily ever after for my characters, not just an optimistic, satisfying ending.

After all, I always say my motto is: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” And I believe that.

Post Script

What’s your favorite kind of ending for a romance novel?

(Joan Reeves writes sassy, sexy Romance Novels. Her latest novel, indeed all her ebooks, are available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit SlingWords, Joan’s Blog, or her Website.)

How To Recognize An Author by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves — Available Now!

Just this week I finally uploaded my long-awaited romantic comedy SCENTS and SENSUALITY. It’s live on Amazon now and will be on All Romance eBooks, iTunes, Kobo, Nook, and Smashwords any moment now.

This morning, as I looked around my office, I was struck by how…messy and cluttered it was.

There are stacks of printouts about perfume and the science of sex appeal and smell because Amanda, the heroine of Scents and Sensuality, is a perfumer.

More stacks of printouts about computer science and computer languages because Harrison, the hero, is a computer expert. Photographs that represent the characters taped to the closet doors, receipts to file, bills to pay, books on tables and the floor – and so much more.

Instead of launching a major clean-up campaign – shudder – I decided to write about it instead. After all, it’s more fun to write about cleaning than to actually clean!

Set Priorities

In truth, my office is a representation of my entire life when I’m immersed in writing a book. Lest you think I’m just slovenly, let me tell you about a visit I made, years ago, to a successful published author whose name is withheld to prevent embarrassment. When we walked into her house, she laughingly said, “Don’t mind the mess. I’m working on a book.”

Wide-eyed, I looked around. There probably wasn’t a clean dish in the kitchen; it seemed every dish in the house was dirty and stacked in the sink and on the counter. There were piles of clothes in the hallway. Sheets were half on and half off the bed. To me, it looked as if the house had been ransacked by experts intent on finding hidden treasure. At the time, I can remember thinking, “No matter how busy I get, my house will never look like this.”

Fast Forward

Pardon me while I hold my sides laughing at my hubris on that long ago day. Actually, my house doesn’t look that bad, but it won’t win any clean house awards. Ever. There is a lot of truth in the advice: “To be successful, you must focus on your primary goal.”

My author friend’s primary goal was to support her family by writing books. Today, my primary goal is the same. Since there are only so many hours in the day – 24 at last count – and only so much energy in me, some things fall by the wayside.

10 Ways To Recognize A Working Writer

1. Her house looks as if you’d need a shovel and a rake to clear a path.

2. Her yard is sandwiched between Yard of the Month contenders with hers looking as if it should have a sign planted in front that says, “Loser.”

3. Dishes are retrieved from the dishwasher until it’s empty then they’re stacked in again and washed without ever having made the journey to the cabinet.

4. Everyone knows to go to the laundry room and dig through the basket to find clean clothes – they hope.

5. Her husband whines when he sees the red Stouffer box on the counter.

6. Her kids don’t recognize her voice when she calls.

7. She spends no money at the gas station because she never goes anywhere.

8. Every morning she thinks about going outside for a walk in hopes of conquering the spreading derriere, but then she starts writing.

9. When someone comes over and starts talking about current events, like the new Pope, she says, “There’s a new Pope?”

10. When she becomes delirious with joy, puts on makeup, dresses in something other than sweats, and styles her hair, her husband says, “I see you finished the book.”

Thus is the life of a writer.

Post Script

In Scents and Sensuality, Amanda knows the Science of Smell. Harrison knows the Science of Computers. But what about the Science of Sex Appeal? Pulsing, throbbing, will-no-be-denied sex appeal! They discover first-hand that Desire leads to Sex… Passion… LOVE!

(Joan Reeves writes Sassy, Sexy Romantic Comedy. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit SlingWords or Joan’s Website.)

Get Your Flirt On by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan ReevesThis was not only the week with Valentine’s Day, but it was also International Flirtation Week. That’s right, from Feb. 13 to 19, it’s time to get your flirt on.

Outrageous and Courageous

Flirting isn’t just for attracting a man or woman and/or making that initial contact. Flirting should be part of the ongoing relationship. Just because you’re settled into a relationship doesn’t mean you can’t add sizzling sexiness to the mix.

In my new novel, Scents and Sensuality (on sale soon), heroine science geek Amanda Whitfield gets some lessons in flirting from her free-wheeling best friend. Too bad her BFF didn’t give her the tips below! (Maybe in my next book!)

Here are a couple of ideas to help you get your flirt on using my favorite kind of book: the romance novel. I mean, who knows better about sizzling, sassy, sexiness than romance writers and readers. As a card-carrying romance author, trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

3 Steps To Flirtation Using Romance Novels

1. Have your lover read to you. Aloud. A love scene from your favorite romance novel.

Did you ever see the movie, In Her Shoes (written by Jennifer Weiner), starring Toni Collette as Rose, Cameron Diaz as Maggie, and Mark Feuerstein as Simon? There’s a scene where Simon, pursuing spinsterish Rose, finds the romance novel she has stashed away. He picks it up and begins to read this torrid love scene aloud. He finishes the passage, turns to her, and says: “I don’t know about you, but I’m officially turned on.”

Priceless — and hot!

Then there’s the scene in Jane Austen Book Club (written by Karen Joy Fowler) where Prudie, played by Emily Blunt, gets husband Dean, played by Marc Blucas, to read aloud from Jane Austen‘s Persuasion. There is nothing explicit or graphic about that book, but, wow! Their reading aloud a love story about persuading two people who once loved to love again unlocks the passion simmering beneath the surface.

So, put your favorite romance novel and your husband in the bedroom with you and a bottle of wine and lock the bedroom door. That’s some serious flirt going on!

2. A variation of the above: you be the reader. Same result.

3. Don’t want to read? Buy an audio book. Queue it up to a scene you love. Run a bubble bath for two, turn on the iPod, and dive in.

(By the way, if you have small children, it’s probably best to wait until they’re asleep. There’s nothing that takes the sizzle out of a romantic interlude like a child banging on the bedroom door and hollering, “Mom, Fido barfed on the rug.”)

Post Script

Flirting with your significant other is akin to “dancing like no one’s watching.” It takes courage. Carpe nocte. (Seize the night.)

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romance Novels. For your consideration, get your flirt on with any of her novels, available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks,  a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay,  a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit SlingWords, Joan’s Blog, or her Website.)

Let’s Celebrate Christmas With Candy by Joan Reeves

Nobody's Cinderella by Joan ReevesSeason’s Greetings! I love the holidays — the music, the decorations, the Salvation Army  bell ringer, wrapping presents, the food — everything! I’m feeling particularly festive despite being afflicted with a miserable cold which has thrown a monkey wrench into most of my plans.

I swear, next year, I’m not scheduling anything from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day so I can be “off,” or as off as a self-employed person can ever be. That way I can concentrate on all the fun stuff instead of driving myself — and my husband crazy — trying to finish a book that should have been finished months ago.

At least my holiday romance Nobody’s Cinderella is available for those who like a side order of Holiday Magic with their romance. (Available at most ebook sellers like Kindle eBook and Nook eBook. Audio Edition.)

Eat, Drink, Be Merry

Christmas is the time of year when I allow myself to cook —  and eat — foods I normally avoid. One of these high fat/carb/sugar concoctions are those sweet morsels of southern temptation known as pralines.

Now, if you’re not from the South, you may not know about pralines. First, they’re pronounced praw-leens, not pray-leens. Whatever you call it, a praline by any other name is still delicious, fattening, and irresistible. As long as it’s made with butter, caramelized brown sugar, and tons of pecans. Oh, and that particular nut is pronounced puh-cahn. Not pee-cann. (I always tell non-southerners that the latter is a vessel in which to collect urine.)

Cookbook author Nathalie Dupree wrote in Southern Memories: “I can’t imagine a world without pralines.”

Me either! You just can’t grow up in the south without learning how to make pralines. Today, I’m going to share my secret family recipe for those yummy melt-in-your-mouth confections.

Joan’s Christmas Pralines

You need: heavy flat-bottomed saucepan, candy thermometer, cream or Pet Evaporated Milk, brown sugar, butter, pecans, something to spoon them onto like parchment paper, foil, or a silicone mat already spread on the counter and ready to go.

In the saucepan, combine:

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup cream (or 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup Pet Milk)

Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pan so that the bulb rests in the liquid. Turn the heat on and bring mixture to a boil. Cook on medium heat to 238 degrees on the candy thermometer.

When 238 is reached, add:

1 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped (Some people use pecan halves, but I find when they are broken into big pieces, you get more pecans per candy.)

Keep on the heat, and stir until butter melts and pecans are coated. Continue cooking until candy thermometer reaches 245 degrees.

At 245, remove immediately from heat. Quickly — before mixture seizes —  spoon dollops of the mixture onto a silicone mat or parchment paper. The pralines will spread so try to use small spoonfuls until you get the hang of it and can make the size you want.

They crystallize as they cool. When completely cool, wrap each praline in a small paper doily or wax paper and store in airtight container. These make a wonderful gift, and they are simply scrumptious.

Post Script

If you’re looking for some entertainment during the holidays, try one of my romantic comedies for a sweet treat with ZERO calories: Joan’s Ebooks or Joan’s Audio Books.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romances. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers and in audio at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks , a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit SlingWords by Joan Reeves or Joan’s Website.

Cinderella Rocks! By Joan Reeves

Nobody's Cinderella by Joan ReevesWith the holidays coming up, I’m checking my day planner every chance I get to make sure I don’t forget something or someone. Flipping ahead, I noticed that I’ll soon be celebrating the 1 year anniversary of publishing Nobody’s Cinderella. I love this book so I thought I’d talk about it today. Happily, readers seem to love it too. In fact, who doesn’t love a Cinderella story?

The Cinderella Myth is still one of the most popular folk tales in the world. You’ll find it in not only European countries but also in India, Vietnam, and Africa. In truth, it crosses all cultural lines. There are hundreds of folk tale versions of the Cinderella story.

Surprising History

You might be surprised to learn that one of the earliest recorded versions comes from China. According to the Chinese story, the heroine doesn’t have a fairy godmother, but a magical fish who helps her. However, a golden shoe leads a prince to her, and they marry. Some sources say the story actually originated in Greece even earlier.

Nearly 1200 years later, Cinderella is still having her story told by countless authors – including me. Don’t let the title of my romantic comedy, Nobody’s Cinderella (Book 1 of San Antone Two-Step), fool you. Heroine Darcy Benton is a Cinderella who wishes on a Christmas star instead of waiting for her fairy godmother to cast a spell and send Darcy her prince.

In this case, Darcy’s prince is Chase Whitaker, owner of an oil exploration/production company. Of course, I put pretty shoes on the cover of this romantic comedy. After all, what is Cinderella without a pair of knock ’em dead shoes?

Most Cinderella stories don’t show her and her prince living happily ever after. I plan to show that they do in Cinderella Blue, (Book 2 of San Antone Two-Step), which stars Darcy’s brother Bruce. You’ll meet him in Nobody’s Cinderella, and he’ll meet his match in Cinderella Blue.

I chose to give readers a glimpse of Darcy and Chase’s happily-ever-after in the second book, to be published before Christmas, because I like to see love validated. Isn’t that what a sequel is for?

About Nobody’s Cinderella

In this sassy, sexy romantic comedy, Darcy Benton is the oldest cliche in the world–a woman in love with her boss.

Other than that little quirk, Darcy is no-nonsense, practical, mature, and sober. She’s just the kind of woman Chase Whitaker wants as head of accounting for his company. She’s definitely not the kind of woman he wants in his bed.

Enter Darcy’s meddling, matchmaking best friend who has a plan to transform Darcy into a hottie designed to attract Chase’s interest. All it takes? A couple of little lies. Oh, and a wish on a Christmas Star. Darcy should have heeded that old advice. Be careful what you wish for.

Book Details

Nobody’s Cinderella is available at most ebook sellers, including:
Amazon * iTunes * Kobo * Nook

Nobody’s Cinderella Audio Book is available at Audible and iTunes.

Post Script

Happy Reading and Happy Thanksgiving!

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romances. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers and in audio at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit SlingWords or Joan’s Website.)