Release Party: Color and life: how humans lost their rainbow in Kaden’s Colors

June 6, 2012

I first heard the song Flowers are Red by Harry Chapin when I was 16. I was home from school for several months, very sick, and my English teacher sent it to me on a cassette tape. I was supposed to write an essay on it. I don’t recall the essay, but that song has stuck with me, and it certainly was part of the reason behind the importance and role of color in this story, and that little boy in it was a huge inspiration for writing Henry.

In Kaden’s Colors, humans don’t wear bright colors. They stick to browns, olives, and other colors with similar tones. Of course it wasn’t always this way. When the first alien immigrants came to Earth, everyone utilized color in the same way it is used today. However, as prejudices against aliens seeped in, humans sought a way to distinguish themselves from the colorful aliens. Thus, the method of segregating colors out of the human wardrobe began.

Vibrant colors became an excuse to attack. For aliens who looked like humans, wearing a bright color endangered them. What did they do? Conform? Hide? Or wear what their nature declared they should? Take that risk and let themselves shine?

Now, look again at the cover (by LC Chase) and remember what I said about the colors humans wear. Look at the jacket. Look at the shirt. I got chills, in the good way, the first time I saw the cover. Now that you’ve had a hint at the cover’s meaning, what is your reaction?

Kaden’s Colors info:

$4.99, 168 pages, e-book.
Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2970

DSP Party: Kaden’s Colors–Coney Island, the inspiration for “The Boardwalk”

June 6, 2012

In Kaden’s Colors, we have our first glimpse of the vibrant alien culture when Henry and Ellil visit the boardwalk.

The boardwalk held the second slot on the school’s list of locations forbidden to students (Rek Academy’s campus took the first), but every weekend, upperclassmen and a few resourceful underclassmen took their chances with its “moral shortcomings” and ventured into the arcades and restaurants. Aliens were in abundance, filling up the boardwalk in their wild costumes in colors so bright they swirled in Henry’s vision. Their hair, adorned in feathers and beads, reached to the skies. The boardwalk was the one place where aliens outnumbered humans and where no one seemed to mind. Here, away from their government-assigned jobs and mandated medication, which dampened their natural urges and allowed them to better adjust to human society, they displayed their native talents, each more fascinating than the one before it, from fire-eating to illusions to jaw-dropping feats of strength. Henry’s first experience was freshman year, also with Ellil. He’d seen an alien lift a 300-pound human man over his head. He’d received a week’s detention and an irate phone call from his parents, but it had been worth it. Ellil had spent five minutes with the headmaster, emerged with a smile, and dragged Henry out the next weekend.

My inspiration for the boardwalk was a pimped out, futuristic version of Coney Island in its heyday when it was the place to be. Check out the video at the end of this post from a 1940′s documentary. Doesn’t that look like a great place? There’s a guy in uniform dancing with a tiger!!!! I get giddy thinking about how amazing this place was! Naturally, it’s where aliens would go, right?

Video of Coney Island, 1940 Seriously, watch it. It’s crazy awesome.

Kaden’s Colors info:

$4.99, 168 pages, e-book.
Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2970

Blog Party: Kaden’s Colors excerpt and first giveaway

June 6, 2012

Let’s do this! Leave a comment with your e-mail address for a chance to win a copy. Winner will be notified Thursday via e-mail.

Excerpt:

Henry had never paid attention to Mr. MacDougal’s Funhouse & Arcade. It sat on the rundown end of the boardwalk, where fire-eating jugglers gave way to strutting strippers with tasseled breasts. Bad enough he went to the boardwalk at all without venturing down to that end. Henry peered into the arcade’s black interior. “I don’t think there’s Skee-Ball here,” Henry said. He looked up at the sign over the front. Maybe the dim F in “Funhouse,” which made the sign read “unhouse,” was an intentional statement. “Maybe fun’s a euphemism….”

“Nah, it has to be here. The ad said.” Ellil grabbed Henry’s wrist and tugged him forward.

“I don’t know if we should be here….”

“You’re not going back to the dorms until we have some fun.”

Henry sighed.

“Look! There they are!” Ellil dragged Henry over to the token booth, bought a handful for each of them, and bounced toward the Skee-Ball machines. Henry trailed after him.

Turned out, Skee-Ball actually was fun. Plus, his score was hella good. He left Ellil in the dust.

“I’m going for a soda,” Ellil said after Henry trounced his score a fifth time.

“Maybe it will help your coordination.”

“That’s what I’m counting on.”

Henry laughed and returned to his game. He was up to one thousand tickets. He had already given the prize table a once over. He needed five hundred more to earn the life-size stuffed Ogga Boinga. As a child, he’d had a smaller one and had slept with his nose pressed against the orange tummy and bear head with the trumpet-shaped nose. His five-year-old cousin would love this one.

“Dude.” Henry swept up another string of tickets from the game as Ellil came back in an excited rush without sodas. “There’s an alien in the backroom.”

“What?” Henry whipped around to peer into the unexplored darkness at the back of the long gaming corridor.

“They’ve got a fucking alien in the backroom.”

“Does it work in the kitchen or something?”

Ellil peered down his nose at him. “Henry. How naïve are you?”

“I….”

“I know nothing exciting ever happens in the suburbs, but come on—you have to have heard about this.”

“It’s not….” Henry gave up on correcting Ellil again that Wayward was a town proper, not a suburb, and focused on the other thing. The alien. “What?”

“Some places sell sex with aliens,” Ellil said, in his “Jaded City-ite Lectures the Country Bumpkin” voice that Henry hated. As his enthusiasm grew, his tone gave way to pure excitement. “Like, black market underground shit. They say it’s like a drug. Like the best high ever. No addiction, no shock from coming down, not even dry mouth. This is so awesome. Totally makes up for Skee-Ball sucking. Come on.” Ellil headed for the back.

“Wait. Black market?” Henry pulled out of Ellil’s grip. “I can’t do anything illegal.”
Ellil stared at him. “You’re with me. You can do whatever you want.”

“I know. I just….” Henry rubbed his wrist. “I don’t want to. I don’t want to break the law just because I can.”

“Okay. Hey. I get it. I’m sorry.” Ellil put both hands up and patted the air, placating. “I’m a dick. You’re right. You know my dad says you’re a good example for me. I should listen to you more.”
Henry smiled. He never could stay mad at Ellil for more than a few seconds. “My mom says the opposite about you.”

“I guess I didn’t make a great impression on her what with almost getting you suspended your first week.” Ellil grinned back.

“Not really. Plus, she’s still angry at your dad for getting my dad so drunk at his bachelor party that he almost missed his wedding. Which was twenty years ago, so, you know, she holds a grudge pretty well.”
Ellil flung an arm over Henry’s shoulder. “I’m glad you take after your dad, then.”

Henry decided against telling Ellil that his dad waged a silent war against the neighbor’s tree that dropped baseball-size nuts into their backyard that broke lawnmower blades.

“If you don’t want to try the alien, that’s fine, but I’ve always wanted to, so at least come with me and watch my back.”

“I don’t know….”

“It’s only seven hundred tickets to do it. You’ve got enough for both of us now. Come on.”

“Are you telling me that it takes fewer tickets to have sex with an alien than it does to get a miniblender?” Henry gestured at the prize table.

“Yes,” Ellil said without hesitation. “Those blenders are amazing. My step-mom has one. They chop ice like you wouldn’t believe.”

Henry glanced toward the entrance, expecting to see Headmaster Dowe or Mr. Duffy or, oh gods, his mother. “I don’t like this.”

“Come on, man. It’s my dream.”

“Fine. But if there’s any sign of trouble, I’m running.”

“Understood.” Ellil snapped Henry’s ticket string in half and walked to the back. Sighing, Henry followed.

Beyond a row of neglected arcade games, a man sat on a stool beside a black curtain. Fluorescent light seeped from behind it. The man was six feet tall at least, judging from the way his feet touched the floor despite the stool’s height. He had a soft belly, framed by a black T-shirt, but he wasn’t fat. He looked like a former athlete who’d settled into a casual, but not sedentary, life. Seeing Henry and Ellil approach, he set his magazine down.

Expecting to see a naked woman on the open pages, Henry was surprised to see wedding dresses instead. The guy already had on a wedding band, and he looked like he was in his late thirties, so Henry took a guess. “Is your daughter getting married?”

The guy looked pleased. “How did you know?”

Before Henry could say that his dad had read him Sherlock Holmes when he was younger, Ellil jumped in.
“He’s a bright boy. We’re all proud of him. Also, we’d like time behind the curtain.” He handed over the tickets he’d taken from Henry.

Back to business, the man asked, “Are you both needing ‘time’?”

“Just me,” Ellil said.

“I’m just watching to make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid,” Henry said.

The man swiped Henry’s remaining tickets.

“Just in case you change your mind while you’re in there. It’s slicked up already, so don’t bother prepping it. Do what you came to do and get out.”

“Sure thing,” Ellil said.

“Congratulations on your daughter’s wed—” Ellil yanked him through the curtain before Henry could finish. Given how pristine the floors and counters were, they could have been standing in a medical facility. A padded table stood in the middle, just like at a doctor’s office. Henry stared at the naked alien strapped by its ankles and wrists and lying bent over and belly-down on top of it. The alien rested its head on its arms, as the straps around its wrists gave some leeway for movement.

The alien looked like a man. Henry had expected something that looked like a thing, like the real-life version of one of the toys at the prize table. Given how excited Ellil was, he’d anticipated that the aliens people sought for sex would be more exotic. Instead of shiny scales or wings or even pincers, this alien had a long, slightly thick body, black hair on its head, and reddish-blond hairs everywhere else. It had freckles, for all the gods’ sake. It looked older than Henry and Ellil, but not by much. Maybe early twenties. Henry stretched a finger out to touch it, a single poke against its side to see if it felt human too. He’d seen aliens of all kinds, including aliens that resembled humans, though he didn’t know any very well. Most of them that lived on Earth were humanoid, but Henry had wondered if under their clothes there was a difference. Unless this one had a special alien penis, Henry couldn’t distinguish it from an actual person.

“Ah, shit, it’s a dude,” Ellil said.

Kaden’s Colors info:

$4.99, 168 pages, e-book.
Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2970

ETA: Congratulations to Kerry, our winner! Drawing was done by random.org. Thank you to everyone who commented. Please join me Saturday 4-7pm EST on DSP’s Goodread’s group page under “Meet the Author” for more chances to win. :)

DSP Blog Party: Kaden’s Colors Introduction and Schedule

June 6, 2012

Hello friends!

I’m taking over the blog this afternoon to tell you about my new release, Kaden’s Colors. It’s a sci-fi advanced YA story featuring cute boys, aliens, and conspiracy!

Here’s the blurb:

The first alien immigrants arrived on Earth long before Henry Mekes was born. Now they’re policed by the government, forbidden from attending school, and assigned menial jobs to prevent them from becoming drains on human society. Twenty-two-year-old Kaden, for example, was assigned the job of sex worker.
 
When eighteen-year-old Henry and his friend Ellil meet Kaden in a grotty backroom to avail themselves of his services, alien rights are the furthest thing from their minds. It’s not until afterward, when Henry is trying to remind himself aliens can’t get enough of sex, that he questions his actions and the rules of the world he lives in.
 
Something about Kaden compels Henry to return again and again—but only as a friend. Soon he and his classmates hatch a plan to free Kaden, but even if they succeed, the world is still full of prejudice against aliens—and those who love them.

I hope you’ll join me for as much of the afternoon as you can. This is the schedule of posts. There will be one every 30 minutes from 2:00 until 4:30. (Posts 1 and 2 will happen simultaneously.) Giveaway winners will be notified Thursday night EST. Anyone is welcome to enter the giveaways until then.

1. Introduction and blurb (this post)
2. Excerpt and first giveaway
3. Coney Island, the inspiration for “The Boardwalk”.
4. Color and life: how humans lost their rainbow in Kaden’s Colors
5. Excerpt and second giveaway
6. Stories of changing prejudices into positives
7. Thank you and goodnight! (Anti-bullying resources)

Kaden’s Colors info:

$4.99, 168 pages, e-book.
Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2970

The big red dog—or how readers helped write Delsyn’s Blues, part 2 (Oh yeah, and another contest)

January 2, 2012

Back on June 20, 2011, on this very blog, a release party was in progress for book 1, Loving Luki Vasquez. In introduced my assistant, Boudreau. Here’s one of his pics, for those who haven’t yet met him:

Several readers/party attendees commented on the subject of cats and dogs in general, and I mentioned that I thought Vasquez and James might acquire a dog in Delsyn’s Blues. That led to “name that dog” contest at my Goodreads author blog. Now, Bear is a chow-mix totally devoted to Luki, despite Luki’s best efforts to discourage him. Here’s the picture readers used to name the new, bulky, four-legged character:

And another contest!

My last post was an excerpt. Tell me the name of the boat Sonny was driving, and their destination, and your in the running for ebook copy of Delsyn’s Blues. (If you entered the other contest, you can enter this one, too, but you can only win once, okay?)
Like before, answer in a comment here, or email me direct at lou(dot)sylvre(at)gmail(dot)com. Please enter! I love contests!

An excerpt from Delsyn’s Blues: the Prologue

January 2, 2012

Sonny's Forest


*

DELSYN played the blues, played his frustration and grief away with old songs, heart songs, songs that did the crying for him and let him laugh. Mostly, anyway.

It was hard, and it didn’t get easier. The summer before, he’d nearly died; he’d been long unconscious, and his brain had almost starved for oxygen—lacking the blood that was instead filling the spaces in his joints. He’d surprised everyone but his uncle Sonny James when, despite everything, he lived. Perhaps he’d surprised even Sonny when his brain recovered, worked almost like normal. But his joints hadn’t been so forgiving, and every bend of knee or ankle, every bit of weight to bear meant pain, sometimes as hot and swift as lightning.

He’d just turned eighteen. This wasn’t the way the world was supposed to work.

Del’s world had narrowed down mostly to Sonny’s acres, a beautiful place that he’d known all his life, but even there he couldn’t go wherever he wanted. A wheelchair is useless over rough, soft ground, and crutches worse, dangerous even. He loved this place and hated it for the trap that it had become. His music—his guitar and his mercifully spared hands—helped. Sonny did what he could: drove him up the coast to Neah Bay, into Port Angeles for a movie, into Port Clifton—the nearest town—for Frappuccino at Margie’s. A couple of times, Luki Vasquez—the man his uncle loved—had carried him on his back as easily as if he’d been a child, took him down to the beach, and helped him wade through the low waves at the edge of the Juan de Fuca Strait.

But he hadn’t once been in the forest, Sonny’s forest, the woods he’d grown up in—and that mattered. One night he’d felt particularly lost and frustrated, and after saying goodnight to Sonny and Luki, he’d left the house by the back door and made halting, unsteady progress on his crutches to the line of trees that guarded the thick forest beyond. The smells, cedar and dust and new-formed frost, were memory and real all at once, and Delsyn desperately wanted to be in there with the trees and insects, just breathing the same air. So, placing the crutches carefully where they didn’t sink, following one weak leg at a time, Delsyn went in.

He only made it a few steps before he needed to rest, so he propped his crutches against a familiar stump, a gigantic memory of the old-growth forest that once lived there, still rotting into red dust a century after it had been cut. He settled himself down carefully into its folds, glad he couldn’t see the bugs that were certainly feasting off the soft pulp even at this time of night. By shifting from foot to foot, he could rest his legs, and then he’d leave. But he was glad he’d come. For once, he’d go to sleep with sweet, forest-scented dreams.

He heard a scrabbling at his feet—probably a vole or a shrew, but he wanted to know just what it was that made the sound. “Light,” he mumbled. “I need a little light.” He always had his phone with him even though it was useless for making calls around Sonny’s place, where no signal could snake past the giant barrier of the Olympic Mountains. He used it to play games. He took pictures. He recorded his own music, the blues he loved to play. He planned to add the SD card to the tapes he’d made on an old cassette deck and give them to Sonny for his birthday in May, if he could wait that long. But for now he thought the phone could help him. He slid his thumb over the screen to light it up but soon realized the glow wasn’t enough to see the ground, and he knew he couldn’t bend down close if he wanted to be able to get back up. “Bummer,” he said and was about to slip the phone back into his pocket when he heard voices.

A man’s voice, rough and hard. “You’re an idiot! A fool, and if I’d known that before I got involved in your little retirement venture, I would have stayed miles away. Those twins are devious, worse because they’re stupid, too, and everyone in the life knows that—even their own daddy. You managed to pull them in, as lame as you are; that should have told you something.”

“I’m not sure it was them—”

“What an ass! They practically advertised the location. They’re the reason we had to move the samples.”

“And you’re the one who brought ’em here. Not the brightest, in my opinion.”

Del caught the sarcasm in the words, could imagine the man’s gesture encompassing Sonny’s land: “Here.”

“I know this place,” the first man said—a voice Delsyn didn’t recognize. “No one will look here. All we need is a little time when the owner—and his latest fuck—are absent, and we can move it again. Arrange it.”

“Fuck you.”

“Don’t even, you bastard. You’re stupid, and thanks to your little minions, nobody’s going to touch this stuff until it cools off. We’ll be lucky to move the goods by spring.”

The men were moving now, Delsyn guessed; their conversation became obscured by a rustle through leaf-trash and brush. Then, suddenly, he realized the voices were getting closer, and all at once he felt very exposed, very crippled, and very scared.

One set of footsteps moved back into the forest, but the other seemed to be looking for an exit, and that one would pass right by Delsyn. If Del had been fully able, if he hadn’t needed the crutches, he could have held still. But he had no faith in his body, and panic sent him stumbling toward the edge of the trees. He wanted to be out before the man caught him.

He might be killed, he thought. He didn’t want to die hidden in the dark.

“Hey!”

Too late. Aching to move legs that wouldn’t cooperate, Del shouted “Uncle Sonny!” But he was so afraid, his voice barely stumbled past the fear in his throat. And he was too far away from the house. And Sonny and Luki didn’t even know he was out here.

The voice seemed slimy, seemed to ooze up Delsyn’s spine. “Now, Del, take it easy. You know me. You know I’m not going to hurt you.

All I need is for you to tell me what you think you heard so I can explain. You probably misunderstood. We wouldn’t want you to get yourself hurt, now would we?”

Delsyn tried to answer, hoping he’d be smart enough to talk his way out of it. But he didn’t because he couldn’t. Ever since last summer, when he got upset—good or bad—his throat and tongue locked up, like he couldn’t get the language in his brain to come out into the world. And then….

A blow—no more than a slap, but Delsyn felt the change. Felt the simple knot that had held his damaged brain together slip free. Not in the dark, he thought, and he pushed forward as he fell. With moonlight in his eyes and shining silver on the coastal fog around him, Delsyn began to die.

Later, he knew he was no longer home, knew they had taken him someplace machines could reach him with their long plastic arms. A place to wait. And while he waited, he heard things.

A doctor said, “… very probably will not wake up.”

Sonny answered, “But he woke up before.”

Sonny spoke to Delsyn, sometimes, discussing and scolding as if they were riding in the Mustang on the way to the store. The nurses came in, usually chattering, one of them sounding young and very sweet. Other patients, still able to cuss out loud. Even Luki, singing the blues for him in that scratchy voice when he thought no one else was around. Del wanted to smile. He wanted to touch someone. He wanted to sing too. Then his brain came apart a little more and he dreamed a little farther down in the darkness where it was far too quiet. He entered a tunnel that led to the other side of that line, that fence between life and death. He felt pretty good about it. He’d done the best he could to say goodbye.

And he thought that, after all, dying might have been his own idea.

Covers & blurbs for Vasquez & James (business done then on to the fun…)

January 2, 2012

Okay, here’s a peek at both books, covers and blurbs, and incidentally if you click on the cover images it takes you right to the Dreamspinner Press “store.” The links are to the ebooks, but they’re available in lovely print editiions as well.

(For my next trick, I’m posting about a contest.)

Reclusive weaver Sonny Bly James controls every color and shape in his tapestries, but he can’t control the pattern of his life—a random encounter with Luki Vasquez, ex-ATF agent and all-around badass, makes that perfectly clear. The mutual attraction is immediate, but love-shy Sonny has retreated from life, and Luki wears his visible and not-so-visible scars like armor. Neither can bare his soul with ease. While they run from desire, they can’t hide from the evil that hunts them. After it becomes clear that a violent stalker has targeted Sonny, Luki’s protective instincts won’t let him run far, especially when Sonny’s family is targeted as well. Whether they can forgive or forget, Sonny and Luki will have to call a truce and work together to save Sonny’s nephew and fight an enemy intent on making sure loving Luki Vasquez is the last mistake Sonny will ever make.”

Sonny James and Luki Vasquez are living proof that the course of love never runs smoothly. Ambushed by grief, Sonny listens to a voice singing the blues from beyond the grave. While revisiting the sorrows and failings of his past, in the here and now he puts up a wall against love. Just when Luki chips through that barricade, the couple becomes the target of a new threat from outside: an escalating and unexplainable rash of break-ins and assaults. Thoughts of infidelity rise between them, a threat that may strain their newly mended love past its limits. To come through the trials alive and together, Luki and Sonny will have to unite against enemies who were once friends and overcome crippling hatred and overwhelming fear. If they succeed, maybe then they can rekindle the twin flames of passion and love.”

Hello! I’m Lou Sylvre, author of Delsyn’s Blues…

January 2, 2012

… and I’m here to celebrate that the book has been released, today! I’ve got some things I want to post including excerpts, a look into some of the places Luki Vasquez and Sonny James spend their time in Delsyn’s Blues (the sequel to Loving Luki Vasquez, perhaps a bit about Chow-chows, guns, and Grass Dancing. And more… But, I’m open to answer questions, or whatever. It’s a busy day, I know, but if you have time and inclination, please join me.

I’m going to start off with a little peak into the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in particular, which is the water that edges Sonny James’ isolated home. It’s a peaceful place… usually. And therein lies the story. But here is a photo and a tiny, tiny excerpt that is one of my favorite small moments in the book. (Some of you might have seen this before, when we talked about Sonny’s beany (that’s right, beany) on my Goodreads author blog. I hope you agree it’s worth revisiting.) Then, I’ll be right back with the blurbs and covers for both Delsyn’s Blues and book 1, Loving Luki Vasquez.

Luki reached out, “Come walk with me.”

Sonny didn’t argue or delay, but neither did he speak or smile. He took Luki’s hand and let himself be pulled up and got his flip-flops on, but he refused the jacket. Instead he put on a beanie the color of driftwood and a scarf woven in the pinks and muted blues of a winter sunset on the straits. He’d made them for Delsyn because after Nebraska he was always cold. Wearing them, Sonny looked both armored against grief and vulnerable to its every nuance.

“Blue Notes” Musical Soundtrack

December 30, 2011

So, if you haven’t figured it out already, “Blue Notes” is about music and musicians, among other things. While I was writing the book, I listened to a lot of different music, mostly classical.  There are three pieces that formed the basic soundtrack for the book:

1)  Brahms Intermezzo Op. 118, no. 2.   The American protagonist in the story, Jason, is a former classical pianist whose favorite piece of music is the Brahms.  It’s a totally romantic, angsty piece which I can listen to a million times and still turns me to Jell-O!  I can’t even count how many times I listened to it while writing the book (until my husband and kids finally told me to stop!).

2) Sibelius Violin Concerto This concerto is the first piece that appears in “Symphony,” one of the other books in the Blue Notes series (co-authored with my buddy, Venona Keyes).  And, good lord, that first movement is SOOOO romantic!

3) Tenor/Baritone duet from Bizet’s “The Pearlfishers”:   This is the “theme” for “Aria,” a WIP and another music-themed novel (about an opera singer), and is sung by the two male leads in the opera, who are best friends and rivals for the same woman’s love (talk about the closest thing to M/M sex in opera!)  Bromance at its best! They should just have ditched the girl and walked off into the sunset together…

All the links are to recordings you can listen to for free. And don’t forget that you can win enter a download of my favorite Brahms recording from Amazon by leaving a message on the blog.  Enjoy! -Shira

“Blue Notes” by Shira Anthony – Contest: What’s so sexy about classical music?

December 30, 2011

Blue Notes” is a love story about musicians Jason Greene and Jules Bardon, and the first in a series of music themed romances with interconnected characters (spinoffs). Most of the stories involve classical music, and “Blue Notes” is no exception. So what’s so sexy about classical music? For some people, maybe this is a no-brainer, but for me, a former opera singer, it wasn’t such an easy concept – that classical music IS sexy.  Strange, I know!

I grew up on classical music. Sure, my dad listened to the Beatles and Led Zeppelin in the Sixties and Seventies. But the heart of our home, the soundtrack (because there always one) was classical: Brahms, Mozart, Beethoven and, later, when my mother switched from playing piano to harpsichord, Bach, Scarlatti, and Rameau.

I studied music theory from about the time I could read. I began playing the violin when I was four or five years old. My younger sister followed with cello. My mother, whose perfect pitch I wished I had, would accompany us. We sang in the car on long trips from Ohio to New York. My dad, not to be left out in spite of his tin ear, would “sing” along. Out of tune. Every time. But even he would play classical music on his stereo, graduating from a turntable to CD’s, and later a Sony Digital Audio Tape Recorder and, finally, internet streaming. Years later, my dad still listens to music on his tablet, and my mother has a harpsichord in New York and France. She still performs.

And me? I hated it. Or at least, that’s what I told myself for years. Forget Bach. I wanted Elton John, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper. So what changed? I stopped thinking of classical music as “work” and started to listen to it for fun after I stopped singing professionally. And then my friend and fellow Dreamspinner author, Venona Keyes, suggested we co-author a story about a violinist and a conductor. I pulled out recordings of the violin music I remembered playing through in high school, starting with the Sibelius Violin Concerto, and I was hooked.

Blue Notes” features one particular piano work prominently, Brahms’s Intermezzo, Opus 118, no. 2. It’s in your face romantic, brooding, and an absolutely perfect representation of Jason Greene, the American lawyer. Strong, but with a deep emotional connection he doesn’t show others often. Sexy, understated. Just like the Brahms. Want to hear what I mean? Take a listen to Nikolai Lugansky playing the piece: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iF4Rn2b4T8&feature=related

Would you like to win an mp3 download of my favorite recording of the piece and the other intermezzos? Leave a comment on DSP’s blog, on Goodreads, or on my blog, and you’re automatically entered to win “My Favorite Brahms,” by Van Cliburn, from Amazon.com. One winner will be drawn on January 31st. -Shira