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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Thank you

Since my last post, I've received words of encouragement from writers and readers and I just want to thank you all for lifting my spirits. Just to clarify, I do have one more book coming out in the next few weeks with Loose-Id and hopefully this will do better than my last one. Let me tell you, I write because I truly like creating stories, but I do need to generate some income, especially in these financially woeful times. Writing is not a chore, but neither is it my hobby. I put a lot of effort into creating plots and characters and appreciate the feedback from readers. I also appreciate sales.

I like freebies like everyone else, and have provided free stories on my site for my readers. However, for those stories that I create with the expectation of sales, I get discouraged when those sales are frustrated.

Anyway, I've subbed the first draft of my latest, Raine's Blues, for the line item editor and expect to be doing some re-writing in the next few days. The story centers on a blues club owned by an enterprising woman still mourning the loss of her love years before. She concentrates all of her efforts on building up her club and thinks she has found a gem of a singer by the name of Cintra Wells. Little does Raine realize that there's more to Cintra than what she appears to be.

I posted the synopsis some posts back, but have changed the storyline a bit. Hopefully it will pass muster with the editors. There is an underlying prom story that ties in with two other stories by Roslyn Holcomb and Lisa Riley, both talented writers. The overall theme is "Off Like a Prom Dress" and I kept that in mind with a pivotal love scene.

Basically, I took a shelved, unfinished story and simply polished it off and completed it. I posted the first chapter a couple of years ago, but am re-posting the yet unedited first chapter to revisit the story and give you all a taste of what it offers. Let me know if you like.

As always, I found prototypes for my characters. Check the pics.


Chapter 1

Raine shifted in her seat as the strobe lamps dimmed, leaving the spotlight the only illumination. A mellow sax moaned and the rest of the quartet moved into a smooth intro, something unfamiliar, jazzy and soft, a come-hither strain that lulled the audience and silenced the specter of voices. A tinkling of glass at the next table was the only intrusion. A few moments passed, and the emcee stepped into the light just off the grand piano. Tall and svelte, the emcee's pomaded dark hair and tuxedo beckoned an era of furs, champagne and diamonds, of Silver Cloud Rolls and a collective innocence unsullied by wars and devastation.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Chanel Club welcomes the fabulous Cintra Wells just returned from a smashing European tour where she dazzled audiences around the continent. And tonight she's here to dazzle us as well, so let's welcome her home with a warm round of applause." The ensuing ovation was interwoven with whistles and exclamations of "Cintra!"

The emcee stepped off the stage as the show's headliner sauntered to the waiting spotlight. Cintra Wells' motion was fluid, her evening dress a thousand sparkles on silver mesh that clung to lithe curves. A deep red outlined a pair of sensuous lips out of synch with the angular lines of her face. Her blond hair flowed past her shoulders while a Veronica Lake wave hung over her left eye. She was a statuesque but feminine declaration of elegance. As was the smoky voice that moved into the melody laid out for her.

Raine had come to the club with a dose of cynicism and more than a measure of curiosity. But her assistant Terri hadn't lied. Here was a voice worth bargaining over. It hovered above a sultry whisper, then rose with a clarity that cried out for a lost love. And it trilled to her soul as though it were calling out only for her. She pushed the thought away as quickly as it had come.

The song died softly, leaving an expectant pause which a wave of enthusiastic ovation filled. In the midst of the clapping, the pianist struck a chord, cueing in another song, signaling the audience to silence again. Cintra's voice took over, was less throaty, lighter, but still rife with a sadness that overwhelmed Raine.

"But I miss you most of all my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall…"

A shiver went through her. No matter the cost, she had to get this singer for her club. She already had a lineup with a couple of jazz singers. They were alright, but she needed something more if was going to save the club. Earlier in the afternoon, she'd sidled up to a band member to try to get more information, and had not been disappointed. Their gig at Chanel's was up in just a few weeks and they had nothing lined up after. Even then, she wasn't sure they would do, but now her uncertainty wailed out on the riff of the ballad. Cintra Wells would pack them in.

Her eyes fixed on the on the songstress, Raine felt plain in her simple black dress, which before tonight she'd thought was her "killer" dress because it hugged her bountiful curves. She sat silently, an elbow on the table next to her wine and whispered beneath her breath, "Beautiful." Entranced by the fantasy, she wondered at its pull. It was almost Sapphic.

She hoped that she would be able to meet with Cintra soon to discuss business. She might be Raine's Blues only hope.


Neil sat at the mirror contemplating the lines cutting through the powder covering his five o'clock shadow. They were cracks in the façade, a peek behind the illusion. He wiped off the powder with a tissue doused with aloe cream, removing the last of the mask and stared at the reflection of a twenty-nine-year-old man, all hard lines and dead eyes. He peered at the blue irises; well, not exactly dead, but eyes tired of a world they've been forced to look at for too long.

The wig sat askew a head mannequin sitting on the corner of the small dressing table already overrun with makeup and paraphernalia. The accommodations here were cramped and inconvenient. He reached behind his head to release the rubber band that had been holding his dark hair in a loose ponytail; the hair fanned out over his shoulders.

The door opened and Max stepped in, shutting it behind him. He still had his sax strapped on, even though their last set was nearly forty minutes ago.

"Cin-man, gotta talk to you."

"What about?" Neil swiveled his seat to face the saxophonist. He leaned back in the chair as Max's lanky six-foot-three frame collapsed onto the dingy blue loveseat. Max reached to unstrap the sax and laid his precious "Sexy" on the floor, then sat forward, his expression full of anticipation.

"Another gig, man. Some chick came up to me tonight, said she's got an opening at a blues club called Raine's. Said she's looking for something different, something to spice up her lineup." Max smirked at that.

"Yeah? What else did she say?"

"She asked what it'd take, and I told her. Actually, I padded it a bit, to see if she would bite. She didn't even blink an eye."

"For how long?"

"Said a month to start, then we can talk extension later on if things work out. Look, Europe was fine for wine and song, but that money's gone, man, and Kieran ain't paying up like he promised. I'd like to know if I'm gonna have a roof over my head come November." He reached inside his pocket, pulled out a card. "Here, she left her number. I think we should at least talk to her." He reached over to hand the card to Neil.

Neil took the card, read the name. Raine Gayle, proprietor, Raine's Blues, "where rainy day blues are sung away" Phone: (415) 552-6889.

Raine Gayle? Neil blinked rapidly at the letters and a flurry of memories rushed forth. Could it be?

"I know, the name is really out there but she seems legit," Max interrupted Neil's reverie. "All I'm saying is let's talk with her, feel her out. We got nothing to lose just talking."

Neil sat motionless for a few moments, then suddenly folded the card and tossed it over his shoulder. It landed on top of the wig.

Max stiffened. "So what? You're not going to even consider it?" Neil saw the tell-tale tic above Max's left brow start up, a sure sign his temper had surged.

Neil drew in a deep breath, sat forward. He'd planned to talk with the others after the gig, but Max was forcing his hand with this new offer.

"I know this is a bad time to spring this on you and the guys, but this just isn't working for me anymore. I'm tired of the freak show, man, tired of the wigs, the dresses. Tired of singing like a bitch. It was fun for a while, but that just ain't me anymore."

Max sat immobile a few seconds, but didn't stay stunned for long. That tic was doing double time. "Look, I know the show's getting old. But it's working for us right now. And we gotta work, no matter what. If we go back to the way it was, with just a jazz quartet and nothing more, we're just four more bodies out there doing the club circuit. I know this is a freak gimmick, but it's a good one and it gives us an edge."

"Look, I don't want to shaft you and the guys, so I'll give you time to find someone else. But after that," he shrugged, "I'm gone."

Max's brow knit together, the lines above them deep grooves. "Man, this is so fucked, you know that? You're leaving us ass up, hole wide open. Who the hell is going to take your place? Your name's a brand and the audience expects Cintra Wells - nobody else - to front when we step on stage." He stopped, his expression changing as something began dawning. "You're planning on filling another spot, aren't you?"

He hadn't counted on anyone figuring out his game plan this early on. It put him in the uncomfortable position of having to lie.

"No, there's no other spot. I'm just tired, man. Can't you accept that at face value?"

"Neil, the one thing I've learned working with you these five years is that nothing is just face value with you. There's always something else going on. You know what? I'm done. Fine. You're leaving, leave. But you tell Stevie, Dan and Janyx tonight. You owe them that, at least." A pause, and then, "You're finishing out the contract, right?"

Neil nodded. "Yeah, I wouldn't do you guys like that."

"Like what, man? Oh, you mean stabbing us in the back. Nah, man, you'd never do that to us. You always do us right as rain, man, right as rain."

Max sighed, picked up his sax and stood. "You do what you gotta do. And we'll do what we have to to survive without you. Like you said, you're not the only bitch out there."

The last words were a deliberate kick to the groin. Well-deserved.

Neil swiveled his chair back to the mirror as the door closed and looked into the eyes of someone he barely knew anymore. Then he reached over to retrieve the balled up card still lying on top of the wig. He unrolled it and looked at a name he hadn't seen in years.


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