'I love you' is just the beginning of the story.

“Tattoos and Groupies”

Today I’m reblogging and expanding on a post I shared on the incomparable Rhys Ford’s blog a few days ago.  The subject matter is near and dear to my heart, and it’s also important to understanding the character of Alex Bishop in “Prelude.”  So for those of you who may have read the post, this won’t come as news to you, but for the others, I hope you enjoy it!

As many of you know, “Prelude” is the story of David Somers, the fictional music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and crossover jazz/rock/classical violinist Alex Bishop.  On the surface, the two men are polar opposites.  David is incredibly wealthy, having inherited his family’s Wall Street investment firm.  Alex grew up on the cold Chicago streets after running away from his foster care placement.  The common ground between the two men?  Music.  Because when David hears Alex play, he can’t get Alex’s music (or Alex) out of his mind.

The first time David and Alex meet, there’s one thing David notices in particular: Alex’s tattoos.  David, raised in a life of privilege, sees the tattoos and immediately makes assumptions about Alex’s musical ability and Alex himself.  Here’s a brief excerpt from the novel:

David rarely made any sort of public speech, let alone an announcement in the middle of a concert. He despised public speaking, but there was nothing to do for it—the substitution had been too eleventh hour to print something to add into the programs.

“Good evening,” he began with a practiced smile. “There has been a slight change in tonight’s program. Our featured soloist, Lastislav Voitavich, has taken ill.” There were murmurs from the audience, so David waited until the hall was silent before continuing, “Alexander Bishop has graciously agreed to perform the Sibelius.”

Instead of voicing their disappointment, the audience applauded with surprising enthusiasm. “Thank you.” David was unsure what to make of the response. He nodded stage right. There was renewed applause as the violinist took to the stage.

 Alex Bishop. A rock star masquerading as a classical violinist. Tattoos and groupies. David didn’t doubt Bishop was competent—his assistant was young, not stupid. Still, David loathed this “new breed” of musician who all too often graced the covers of magazines like Time and, more recently, Rolling Stone. Tattoos, indeed. The term “crossover artist” was a mere marketing tool intended to exploit an artist’s good looks and increase sales. He’d heard so-called crossover artists perform before, and he hadn’t been impressed.

Traditional Samoan Pe’a tattoos. Unlike Alex’s, they are usually done from the waist down.

But as David gets to know Alex, he becomes fascinated by those tattoos, just as he is fascinated by Alex.  When David finally is able to touch the tattoos, he realizes that they cover scars on Alex’s chest.  David’s afraid to ask about the scars, and it’s not until the end of the book that the full truth about them is revealed.  Early on, he learns only that Alex barely survived a knife attack, and that the scars are a result.

Alex’s tattoos are in the style of the Pe’a, the traditional Samoan tattoos used as a rite of passage.  Literally pounded into the skin, these tattoos usually cover the lower half of a man’s body.  In Alex’s case, they cover much of the upper half.  It’s a painful process and takes weeks to complete.  The designs are simple and mesmerizing.

The traditional way of Pe’a tattooing – with a hammer type tool

During the time I was writing “Prelude,” I spent a few days at a Dreamspinner Press table with Rhys, who shared with me her own tattoos (they are freaking amazing!).  I knew I wanted to use the Pe’a concept for Alex, but I hadn’t yet thought through the connection between mind and body that can be expressed through tattoos.  Rhys shared with me her newest tat, which covers an extensive scar on her upper thigh.  It was incredibly beautiful.  She explained that she’d had the tattoo done in part to cover the scar, one of the visible remnants of the abuse she suffered in her childhood (so many of those scars aren’t visible).  She also told me that it hurts more to tattoo over scar tissue.  I knew right then how I wanted to tell Alex’s story.

Alex’s choice to tattoo over his scars is a conscious one.   For him, the decision is a way to assert control over things he had no control over.  A way to take back something that was lost—a rite of passage and a show of strength.  And even though David’s scars aren’t visible, they are just as painful.  With Alex’s help, David is able to face the pain of his past and begin to move forward.

Thanks, Rhys, for the insight and for sharing something beautiful with me.  And no, I’m not just talking about the tattoo.

Don’t forget to comment on any of this weeks posts to be entered into the drawings for a Blue Notes Series t-shirt of your choice (any cover including Prelude, subject to availability of sizes); a Prelude mouse pad; or an ebook copy of your choice of any of my Dreamspinner Press back catalog books (so anything BUT Prelude). Contest ends midnight Saturday, May 11th.  –Shira

PS:  Want to read a longer excerpt from the first time David sees Alex? Click on this link and scroll down to the excerpt tab. 

 ****************************

Summary:  World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.

When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.

David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.

David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

NOTE: Each Blue Notes novel is a standalone story and books in the series can be read in any order.

Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books? You can find them all here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673

New Prelude Contests!

Yes, I promised new giveaways and I promised to announce the winners of the Dreamspinner Press gift certificate and the Prelude T-shirt.  Actually, T-shirts, plural– because I had so many entries, I thought I’d toss in another!  So without further ado, I’ve got names for you:  Kerry P., you won a Prelude t-shirt, Darcy (Pomma), you won the $10 gift certificate, and Christopher Hammel, you also won a t-shirt!  Congrats.  I’ll email you and we can arrange to get you your goodies.

Now, for all those of you who didn’t win this time, I’ve got 3 more goodies to share.  This contest will end on midnight after my Saturday, May 11th Facebook chat on the Dreamspinner Press Facebook page (hint, hint – you can stop by for more giveaways there, too).  Up for grabs this time are three goodies:  a Blue Notes Series t-shirt of your choice (any cover including Prelude, subject to availability of sizes); a Prelude mouse pad; or an ebook copy of your choice of any of my Dreamspinner Press back catalog books (so anything BUT Prelude).  Same deal–comment here to be entered into the drawings!

More posts coming, more blog stops, and lots of other fun stuff, so stay tuned.  I also promised more of the video tour, so that’s on the agenda, too.  Happy day after release day everyone!  If you’ve read the book, please let me know what you thought of it.  Thanks! -Shira

 ****************************

Summary: World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.

When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.

David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.

David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

NOTE: Each Blue Notes novel is a standalone story and books in the series can be read in any order.

Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books? You can find them all here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673 Want to read an excerpt? Click on the link and scroll down to the link marked “Expand” on the right-hand side.
Looking for Prelude?  You can find it in ebook and paperback at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, AllRomanceEbooks, and other outlets.

Release Day!

Happy release day, Prelude!  I’m so happy to share David and Alex’s story with you all.  This story is chronologically the first in the Blue Notes Series of classical music themed gay romances I’ve published with Dreamspinner Press.  No other character appears in more of the books than conductor David Somers, the fictional music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Over the next month, I’ll be guest blogging at some of my favorite authors’ blogs and talking more about the series and Prelude, in particular (check out the blog tour giveaways!).  There are so many aspects of the book that I look forward to exploring with you all, including David’s unusual ability to “hear” music in response to people and emotional situations.  “Synesthesia,” of an unusual sort.  (Merriam-Webster defines this as “a concomitant sensation; especially : a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of color) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated.”)  Some people may hear a sound and think of a color, but David sees people and hears music.  That’s the music that calls to him when he first meets violinist Alex Bishop, and it’s the key to unlocking David’s walled-off heart.

You can now download Prelude at Dreamspinner Press!  Links for Amazon, AllRomanceEbooks, and Barnes and Noble will follow as soon as the book is posted on those websites.  Prefer a “real” book?  You can purchase the paperback here.  And believe me, Dreamspinner’s paperbacks are simply gorgeous!

I truly hope you will enjoy reading Prelude as much as I enjoyed working with my co-author, Venona Keyes, to write it!  David and Alex are near and dear to our hearts, and we hope you will feel the same way we do.  And don’t forget, you can find all the music in the book by clicking on the “extras” link on my website.  -Shira

****************************

Summary: World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.

When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.

David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.

David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

NOTE: Each Blue Notes novel is a standalone story and books in the series can be read in any order.

Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books? You can find them all here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673 Want to read an excerpt? Click on the link and scroll down to the link marked “Expand” on the right-hand side.

Welcome Prelude Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, Monday May 6th, is release day for Prelude!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to share this book with you and how much joy writing it brought me.  For those of you who have read the other Blue Notes Series books, you’ll have met David Somers, the fictional music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  For those of you who haven’t yet met David, Prelude is a great place to start the series, since it’s chronologically the first story.  But each story is truly standalone, so you really can start reading anywhere in the series.

Don’t forget, I have two giveaways going that end at midnight tonight, Sunday May 5th: one for a beautiful “Prelude” t-shirt (featuring Catt Ford’s amazing cover art) and a second giveaway for a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate (you can use this towards any DSP website purchase). I’ll draw winners for both giveaways after midnight. And if enough folks enter, I may throw in another swag goodie for a third winner.

Enter either giveaway contest by commenting here, on my Goodreads blog, or on the Blue Notes Facebook page, until midnight on May 5th. The winners for the t-shirt drawing and the gift certificate drawings will be announced on release day. Look for new giveaways starting on release day!  I’ll also have a separate blog tour giveaway that you can enter by commenting on blog tour posts.  I’ll put up the tour schedule here this week so you can see where I’m headed (virtually).

Throughout this week, I’ll have more giveaways to enter with more Blue Notes and Prelude swag and other goodies.  I’ll also be talking more about the book and posting up more videos from the Prelude tour my lovely co-author, Venona, and I took when we were in Chicago for the Dreamspinner Press Authors’ Workshop a few weeks ago.

Thanks to you all for your wonderful support.  Because of your word of mouth, readership for the series is growing by leaps and bounds.  I have a wonderful announcement to make about the series this week, too, which I’m really excited about.  So until tomorrow….  And good luck to everyone who entered the contest!  -Shira

****************************

Summary: World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.

When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.

David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.

David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

NOTE: Each Blue Notes novel is a standalone story and books in the series can be read in any order.

Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books? You can find them all here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673 Want to read an excerpt? Click on the link and scroll down to the link marked “Expand” on the right-hand side.

********************

Excerpt: PG

Setup: Alex Bishop and David Somers meet when Alex fills in for an ailing soloist with the Chicago Symphony. Alex asks David out on a date and they agree that Alex will meet David at his Orchestra Hall office on Saturday and they’ll go have lunch.

 

ALEX leaned against the doorframe of David’s Orchestra Hall office, leather jacket unzipped, a knitted scarf hanging loosely around his neck. “Am I interrupting?”

 

“Not at all.” David looked up at Alex, then back down at the papers spread out in front of him. “Please, come in.” He’d just about given up on his work, anyhow. He’d gotten nowhere, mostly because he’d been nervous.

 

Why had he agreed to see Alex at all? He was baffled that he’d given in so easily when Alex had pressed him about lunch. No. That’s not fair. He just didn’t give up as easily as you thought he might.

 

Alex settled into one of the chairs in front of David’s desk. “Work a lot of weekends?”

 

“A few.” David signed a piece of paper and set it aside. “But I’m finished for the day.” He inhaled slowly, doing his best not to reveal his unease. He’d been thinking about Alex since the concert. Dreaming about him.

 

“Great,” Alex said as he popped up from the chair.

 

The sudden move nearly made David jump. Where does the man get so much energy? He covered his reaction by standing up and pulling his jacket and scarf from off the coat-tree. Somehow, it didn’t surprise David that Alex was out the door before he’d managed to wrap the scarf around his neck. Rather than irritating, he found Alex’s enthusiasm quite charming.

 

“Where to?” he asked as he caught up with Alex, who was holding the elevator doors open.

 

“Is tapas still okay with you?”

 

“Perfectly all right.”

 

They made their way down Michigan Avenue. The wind was biting, but it didn’t deter a group of women from running toward them, laughing and chattering away as they blocked Alex’s path. “Are you Alex Bishop?” one of them asked. Her compatriots had pushed her to the front of the group, and her cheeks were bright pink. David suspected it had little to do with the cold weather.

 

“That’s me.” Alex offered them a warm smile. This was followed by a round of giggles before one of the women dug what appeared to be a map of downtown Chicago out of her purse and shoved it at Alex.

 

“Can I have your autograph?” she asked. “Please?” She fished out a pen and handed it to him without waiting for his response.

 

“Sure. Who would you like me to make it out to?”

 

David noticed that Alex didn’t hesitate as he pulled off his gloves and exposed his fingers to the frigid air. David’s hands felt cold in his cashmere-lined gloves, and yet Alex, a man who made his living with his hands, didn’t seem to mind.

 

“Teri,” the young woman said with a shy smile.

 

“Teri,” Alex repeated. “With a y?”

 

“No, one r and an i.” She nodded as Alex met her eyes before writing on the map.

 

One by one, he signed autographs for each of the young women, and with each signature, David admired Alex’s comfortable demeanor. With every woman he took the time to ask questions, listen to her answers, and respond. When they left, they were clearly enthralled. Not that David was ever approached by a fan on a Chicago street—he was more than content with his anonymity—but he could not imagine handling such a situation as gracefully.

 

“Occupational hazard,” Alex said as they walked the three more blocks to the restaurant uninterrupted. “Sorry about that.” This time, Alex’s smile was for David. David wanted to believe it was warmer, more genuine. Not that he’d ever been a great judge of emotion.

 

“Not at all,” David replied, relieved that with his scarf wrapped about his chin, Alex could not see him swallow hard. What was it about this man that left him feeling so awkward? Certainly he’d met men like Alex before. And yet, as they ducked into the restaurant, David knew he was lying to himself. He had never met anyone like Alex Bishop in his life.

 

The restaurant was yet another surprise. David had heard of it— trendy and nearly impossible to get a reservation at, even for someone with David’s connections. The small table at the back was intimate and out of view of most of the patrons. Given Alex’s reception as they walked the scant blocks from Michigan Avenue, David could understand why.

 

“I’m really sorry about all of that,” Alex said after the waitress brought them their drinks and took their orders. He appeared genuinely contrite.

 

“No need to apologize. Your public truly does seem to adore you.”

 

There was a blush on Alex’s cheeks, and David thought he looked supremely uncomfortable with the compliment. “I know you probably won’t believe it,” Alex said after he’d taken a sip of his beer, “but I hate the attention.”

 

David considered Alex’s statement. Normally he wouldn’t have believed a word of it, not coming from someone who was so obviously at ease in the limelight. But there was something genuine about Alex. Unpretentious. How had he missed it before? You missed it because you assumed he’s something he’s not. He wondered what else about Alex he’d overlooked.

 

For the first time that day, David noticed Alex’s shirt was unbuttoned to reveal more of the tantalizing ink on his chest. David had always found tattoos base and unappealing. But Alex’s fascinated him, much like the plumage of some exotic bird. David was the bird with the dull feathers, watching, transfixed, wanting to touch the tattoos. Wanting to touch Alex….

 

To his great consternation, David realized he’d been staring. He lifted his drink to cover his slip. Alex, perhaps noticing David’s gaze, brushed the open skin at his neck with his fingers.

 

“So I hear you know my former teacher, Roger Nelson.”

 

David relaxed a bit with the familiar territory. “Roger’s an old friend. He and John Fuchs contacted me about moving to Chicago and applying for the music director position when John decided to retire.”

 

“I remember John mentioning it. Said you were living in Milan. ‘Hiding out’, I think he called it.”

 

“Indeed.” David realized he was smiling at the memory. “He and Roger showed up at the villa, bags in hand, and refused to leave until I had submitted my letter of interest to the symphony association.”

 

“Sounds like it worked,” Alex replied with a chuckle.

 

“Not immediately. Roger and John spent several weeks creating mayhem for the staff. Nearly drank half of the wine cellar in the process.” David smiled once more and leaned back slightly in his chair. “My housekeeper threatened to quit if they didn’t leave. Told me she wasn’t cut out for cleaning up after ‘rowdy Americans’.”

 

“Rowdy?”

 

“Have you ever seen John and Roger after a few bottles of wine?” Alex shook his head. “Let’s just say that they can be a bit boisterous and leave it at that.”

 

“Are you kidding? Now that you’ve piqued my curiosity?” Alex leaned forward with one elbow on the table, his chin in his hand. “Do tell.”

 

David laughed outright this time. “The last game of truth or dare they played—mind you, I had gone to bed long before this, but Gianetta told me about it the next morning—John ran across the formal gardens in just his underwear.”

 

“Could have been worse,” Alex pointed out.

 

“Indeed.”

 

“Have you heard from them lately?”

 

David nodded. “A few months ago, when I was traveling to South America. They’ve bought a lovely house together in Costa Rica. I spent several nights there. Seems John’s finally decided it’s time to settle down.”

 

“I’m glad to hear it. I’d always wondered about them.”

 

“John’s always been prone to wanderlust,” David said as the waitress arrived with a slew of small dishes and set them out on the table. “As Roger explains it, it took nearly two decades for them to admit they had feelings for each other, and another decade for them to act on those feelings.”

 

“I guess some things are just worth the wait.” Alex’s gaze settled on David, and David schooled his expression to hide his discomfort.

Two More Days to Prelude and New Excerpt!

Two days until the release of Prelude !   Don’t forget, I have two giveaways going:  one for a beautiful “Prelude” t-shirt (they came yesterday and boy oh boy do they look great!) and a second giveaway for a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate (you can use this towards any DSP website purchase).  I’ll draw winners for both giveaways after midnight on Sunday, May 5th.  And if enough folks enter, I may throw in another swag goodie for a third winner.

Enter either giveaway contest by commenting here, on my Goodreads blog, or on the Blue Notes Facebook page, until midnight on May 5th. The winners for the t-shirt drawing and the gift certificate drawings will be announced on release day. Look for new giveaways starting on release day!

Now that I got all that out of the way, I’ve got a brand-new excerpt from Prelude to share.  Just scroll down and check it out!  And if you enjoy it, stop by Dreamspinner Press’s website and preorder your copy here.  Hope you enjoy it! -Shira

****************************

Summary: World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.

When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.

David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.

David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

NOTE: Each Blue Notes novel is a standalone story and books in the series can be read in any order.

Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books? You can find them all here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673 Want to read an excerpt? Click on the link and scroll down to the link marked “Expand” on the right-hand side.

********************

Excerpt:  PG

Setup:  Alex Bishop and David Somers meet when Alex fills in for an ailing soloist with the Chicago Symphony.  Alex asks David out on a date and they agree that Alex will meet David at his Orchestra Hall office on Saturday and they’ll go have lunch.

 

ALEX leaned against the doorframe of David’s Orchestra Hall office, leather jacket unzipped, a knitted scarf hanging loosely around his neck. “Am I interrupting?”

 

“Not at all.” David looked up at Alex, then back down at the papers spread out in front of him. “Please, come in.” He’d just about given up on his work, anyhow. He’d gotten nowhere, mostly because he’d been nervous.

 

Why had he agreed to see Alex at all? He was baffled that he’d given in so easily when Alex had pressed him about lunch. No. That’s not fair. He just didn’t give up as easily as you thought he might.

 

Alex settled into one of the chairs in front of David’s desk. “Work a lot of weekends?”

 

“A few.” David signed a piece of paper and set it aside. “But I’m finished for the day.” He inhaled slowly, doing his best not to reveal his unease. He’d been thinking about Alex since the concert. Dreaming about him.

 

“Great,” Alex said as he popped up from the chair.

 

The sudden move nearly made David jump. Where does the man get so much energy? He covered his reaction by standing up and pulling his jacket and scarf from off the coat-tree. Somehow, it didn’t surprise David that Alex was out the door before he’d managed to wrap the scarf around his neck. Rather than irritating, he found Alex’s enthusiasm quite charming.

 

“Where to?” he asked as he caught up with Alex, who was holding the elevator doors open.

 

“Is tapas still okay with you?”

 

“Perfectly all right.”

 

They made their way down Michigan Avenue. The wind was biting, but it didn’t deter a group of women from running toward them, laughing and chattering away as they blocked Alex’s path. “Are you Alex Bishop?” one of them asked. Her compatriots had pushed her to the front of the group, and her cheeks were bright pink. David suspected it had little to do with the cold weather.

 

“That’s me.” Alex offered them a warm smile. This was followed by a round of giggles before one of the women dug what appeared to be a map of downtown Chicago out of her purse and shoved it at Alex.

 

“Can I have your autograph?” she asked. “Please?” She fished out a pen and handed it to him without waiting for his response.

 

“Sure. Who would you like me to make it out to?”

 

David noticed that Alex didn’t hesitate as he pulled off his gloves and exposed his fingers to the frigid air. David’s hands felt cold in his cashmere-lined gloves, and yet Alex, a man who made his living with his hands, didn’t seem to mind.

 

“Teri,” the young woman said with a shy smile.

 

“Teri,” Alex repeated. “With a y?”

 

“No, one r and an i.” She nodded as Alex met her eyes before writing on the map.

 

One by one, he signed autographs for each of the young women, and with each signature, David admired Alex’s comfortable demeanor. With every woman he took the time to ask questions, listen to her answers, and respond. When they left, they were clearly enthralled. Not that David was ever approached by a fan on a Chicago street—he was more than content with his anonymity—but he could not imagine handling such a situation as gracefully.

 

“Occupational hazard,” Alex said as they walked the three more blocks to the restaurant uninterrupted. “Sorry about that.” This time, Alex’s smile was for David. David wanted to believe it was warmer, more genuine. Not that he’d ever been a great judge of emotion.

 

“Not at all,” David replied, relieved that with his scarf wrapped about his chin, Alex could not see him swallow hard. What was it about this man that left him feeling so awkward? Certainly he’d met men like Alex before. And yet, as they ducked into the restaurant, David knew he was lying to himself. He had never met anyone like Alex Bishop in his life.

 

The restaurant was yet another surprise. David had heard of it— trendy and nearly impossible to get a reservation at, even for someone with David’s connections. The small table at the back was intimate and out of view of most of the patrons. Given Alex’s reception as they walked the scant blocks from Michigan Avenue, David could understand why.

 

“I’m really sorry about all of that,” Alex said after the waitress brought them their drinks and took their orders. He appeared genuinely contrite.

 

“No need to apologize. Your public truly does seem to adore you.”

 

There was a blush on Alex’s cheeks, and David thought he looked supremely uncomfortable with the compliment. “I know you probably won’t believe it,” Alex said after he’d taken a sip of his beer, “but I hate the attention.”

 

David considered Alex’s statement. Normally he wouldn’t have believed a word of it, not coming from someone who was so obviously at ease in the limelight. But there was something genuine about Alex. Unpretentious. How had he missed it before? You missed it because you assumed he’s something he’s not. He wondered what else about Alex he’d overlooked.

 

For the first time that day, David noticed Alex’s shirt was unbuttoned to reveal more of the tantalizing ink on his chest. David had always found tattoos base and unappealing. But Alex’s fascinated him, much like the plumage of some exotic bird. David was the bird with the dull feathers, watching, transfixed, wanting to touch the tattoos. Wanting to touch Alex….

 

To his great consternation, David realized he’d been staring. He lifted his drink to cover his slip. Alex, perhaps noticing David’s gaze, brushed the open skin at his neck with his fingers.

 

“So I hear you know my former teacher, Roger Nelson.”

 

David relaxed a bit with the familiar territory. “Roger’s an old friend. He and John Fuchs contacted me about moving to Chicago and applying for the music director position when John decided to retire.”

 

“I remember John mentioning it. Said you were living in Milan. ‘Hiding out’, I think he called it.”

 

“Indeed.” David realized he was smiling at the memory. “He and Roger showed up at the villa, bags in hand, and refused to leave until I had submitted my letter of interest to the symphony association.”

 

“Sounds like it worked,” Alex replied with a chuckle.

 

“Not immediately. Roger and John spent several weeks creating mayhem for the staff. Nearly drank half of the wine cellar in the process.” David smiled once more and leaned back slightly in his chair. “My housekeeper threatened to quit if they didn’t leave. Told me she wasn’t cut out for cleaning up after ‘rowdy Americans’.”

 

“Rowdy?”

 

“Have you ever seen John and Roger after a few bottles of wine?” Alex shook his head. “Let’s just say that they can be a bit boisterous and leave it at that.”

 

“Are you kidding? Now that you’ve piqued my curiosity?” Alex leaned forward with one elbow on the table, his chin in his hand. “Do tell.”

 

David laughed outright this time. “The last game of truth or dare they played—mind you, I had gone to bed long before this, but Gianetta told me about it the next morning—John ran across the formal gardens in just his underwear.”

 

“Could have been worse,” Alex pointed out.

 

“Indeed.”

 

“Have you heard from them lately?”

 

David nodded. “A few months ago, when I was traveling to South America. They’ve bought a lovely house together in Costa Rica. I spent several nights there. Seems John’s finally decided it’s time to settle down.”

 

“I’m glad to hear it. I’d always wondered about them.”

 

“John’s always been prone to wanderlust,” David said as the waitress arrived with a slew of small dishes and set them out on the table. “As Roger explains it, it took nearly two decades for them to admit they had feelings for each other, and another decade for them to act on those feelings.”

 

“I guess some things are just worth the wait.” Alex’s gaze settled on David, and David schooled his expression to hide his discomfort.

Win a Prelude T-Shirt!

Just three more days until the release of Prelude on Monday!  To keep the party going, I’m adding a new giveaway today.  If you comment on this or any future post until midnight on May 5th, you’ll be entered to win a gorgeous, hot off the press “Prelude” t-shirt (I have various sizes available) with the amazing cover by Catt Ford.  You have until Sunday, May 5th, at midnight to enter.  

Don’t forget that I’m also running a giveaway for a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate. I’ll draw a winner for that one after midnight on Sunday, May 5th.  The gift certificate can be used toward any purchase at the Dreamspinner Press store!

Enter either giveaway contest by commenting here, on my Goodreads blog, or on the Blue Notes Facebook page, until midnight on May 5th.  The winners for the t-shirt drawing and the gift certificate drawings will be announced on release day.  And look for new giveaways starting on release day! 

Good luck everyone! -Shira

****************************

Summary:  World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.

When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.

David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.

David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

NOTE:  Each Blue Notes novel is a standalone story and books in the series can be read in any order. 

 Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books? You can find them all here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673  Want to read an excerpt?  Click on the link and scroll down to the link marked “Expand” on the right-hand side.

Prelude Video Tour – First Stop!

Less than a week until the release of Prelude!  Don’t forget that I’m running a giveaway for a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate.  Just comment on this post to be entered.  I’ll draw a winner after midnight on Sunday, May 5th.

With Prelude so close to release day, I thought I’d give share with you the first stop on the video tour I took with my lovely co-author, Venona Keyes, when I was in Chicago for the Dreamspinner Press Authors’ Workshop.  Each stop on the Prelude tour is a place from the novel, which is set primarily in Chicago.  What a great city!  Of course, Alex and David do end up in Milan and Paris, as well, but since I haven’t been to either of those places since we wrote the book, that particular video tour will have to wait.

For those of you who have read the Prelude blurb or have read the other Blue Notes books, you’ll know that David Somers is music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the greatest orchestras in the world.  So it’s only fitting that the first stop on the Prelude walking tour is Orchestra Hall, the beautiful building that houses the Chicago Symphony.  Orchestra Hall, in my opinion, is as beautiful inside as it is outside.

It takes a little bit of convincing for David Somers to take the job as the CSO’s music director.  In Prelude, you’ll get a glimpse into how that all came about.  In Encore, the next book in the Blue Notes Series, you’ll get a front row seat for that particular scene (hint: look for it at the end of Encore).  At the point in time when Prelude takes place, however, David has been music director for some time.  And it’s on the stage of Orchestra Hall in Chicago that David first meets violinist Alex Bishop.

So without further ado, here’s the video from the next stop of the Prelude walking tour!  Just click on the photograph of Orchestra Hall below.  The video will load in a new window (sorry, I haven’t quite figured out how to make it play directly on my website!):

 Hope you enjoyed it! -Shira

Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books?  You can find them all here:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673

Prelude Pre-Release Contest and New Excerpt

Nine days until the release of the next Blue Notes Series novel,  Prelude, and time for another pre-release giveaway contest!  This contest is for a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate good towards any purchase at the Dreamspinner Press web store.  To enter, comment on my blog, the Blue Notes Series facebook page post, or my Goodreads blog.  I’ll draw on winner on Sunday, May 5th (the day before release day!) at midnight.

Now for a brand-new, never before seen excerpt from Prelude.  Alex Bishop filled in for an ailing violinist and performed under David Somers’s baton at the Chicago Symphony.  The two men bump into each other a few days later at an art show to benefit the symphony, and David gives Alex his card in the hopes that Alex’s agent will arrange for Alex to play with the CSO again.  Alex, however, decides he wants to ask David out on a date, and finally gets up the nerve to call David.  David, however, has pretty much given up on dating.   But there’s something about Alex that he finds irresistible….

****************************

Blurb:  World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.

When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.

David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.

David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

Prelude is now available for pre-order at the Dreamspinner Press store.  Oh, and if you haven’t ready the original Blue Notes and Aria, those books are 20% off until May 1st in honor of France’s legalization of same-sex marriage!

***********************

PG Excerpt from Chapter 6

ALEX looked down at the card in his hand. He’d been sitting on the couch, staring at the damn thing for nearly ten minutes and holding his cell phone in the other hand. He’d even keyed in the number.

What the hell was wrong with him? He’d never hesitated to ask another man out before. He’d done his homework. David Somers had been married, years ago, but Paulette insisted he was gay. Single and gay.

He took a deep breath and tapped the Send button.

“Hello?”

“David? This is Alex Bishop. I hope I’m not catching you at a bad time.”

There was a hint of a pause before David spoke. “No. Not at all. What can I do for you, Alex?”

“I thought I’d check to see if Kenny ever got back to your booking folks.”

“He did. Thank you. Mr. Sykes said he’d need to check with your manager first. He says she has your calendar.”

Alex laughed. “That’s a good thing. I have the hardest time keeping up with it. Fortunately, my manager is also my roommate.”

“Oh.” Alex thought he heard a note of disappointment in David’s voice.

“Marla’s a smart woman. She knew she couldn’t afford a view of Lake Michigan on her own. We share the place.”

“I see. I just assumed you were seeing each other when I met her after the concert.” David’s voice was brighter now. Alex was sure of it. “So do you live near the park?”

“Harbor Point Tower.”

“We’re neighbors. I’m just down on Lake Shore Drive at Oak Street Beach.”

“Really? That’s great.” Alex leaned back on the couch.

David paused as if unsure how to respond. “I do appreciate your calling,” David said, breaking the silence. “I’m glad I was able to make contact with your agent.”

“I am too. Listen, David”—Alex hoped he didn’t sound as nervous as he felt—”if I’m out of line here, just tell me. I know you gave me your number so I could follow up about the gig. But I was thinking maybe you and I might get together sometime.”

“You want to go on a date with me?”

The way David put it so bluntly reminded Alex of how totally unprofessional he had been to ask David out at all. “I… well… yes.”

Another pause, this time longer than the last. “That’s very kind of you.” Another pause. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I generally don’t date.”

Not an out-and-out rejection. Alex heard hesitation in David’s voice, but there was something else that convinced Alex David wasn’t an entirely lost cause.

“We could just have lunch downtown. Nothing fancy. Just talk.” He almost said, We can hang out, then thought better of it.

“All right.” David still sounded tentative, and Alex hoped he hadn’t forced his affirmative. The man was always so polite. “Where were you thinking?”

Alex hadn’t thought that far ahead—he’d stalled out at the “do I ask him or not?” part of the equation. “A friend of mine has a new place I’ve heard is good. Tapas.”

“Tapas sounds lovely. We have a guest conductor this weekend, so I have no other engagements on my calendar.”

Alex repressed a chuckle, imagining a servant standing at attention as David spoke on the phone, ready to update his busy social calendar. “Let’s make it Saturday, then.” Saturday was sooner than Sunday.

“Saturday it is. Why don’t we meet at Symphony Hall? I have a few administrative matters I need to take care of in the morning. Say, eleven?”

“Eleven would be great.”

“See you then.”

Alex tapped the phone, leaned back on the sofa and ran a hand through his hair. Something about David made him nervous— something he couldn’t quite fathom. Something under the calm and composed exterior. Alex had never met anyone quite like David Somers.

Saturday couldn’t come too soon.

 

Blue Notes Series Timeline

Ten days and counting until the release of Prelude! A few days ago, my good friend Thea Nishimori commented on my David Somers blog post and asked me to set out the chronological order of the Blue Notes Series books.   While I have to admit timelines are not my forte (just ask my Prelude co-author, Venona, to tell you how many times we revised the timeline in that book!), I thought it’d be a good challenge.

For those of you who have read the series, this may help to put together the puzzle pieces.  For those of you new to the series, this may be another way for you to decide which series novel to begin with.  And it’s also a great way for me to introduce my current WIP, Encore, which will be book five in the series.

So, here’s the list in chronological order.  Remember, each book is meant to be read as a standalone and in any order.  These are NOT sequels, although secondary characters often show up as main characters in later books:

1)  Encore – This is the story of Alex Bishop’s teacher, Roger Nelson, and David Somers’s mentor and former music director of the Chicago Symphony, John Fuchs.  The story, the oldest in the series, begins in the early 1970s and spans 40+ years.

2) Prelude – Alex Bishop and David Somers’s story (Alex and David appear in all of the Blue Notes books, including Encore).  Keep your eyes out for a scene toward the beginning of the book where you will meet Roger and John from Encore.  That same scene appears in Encore, but from a completely different perspective (and with a twist that got me all verklempt!).

3) Blue Notes – Jules Bardon and Jason Greene’s story.  We learn in Blue Notes that Jason was roommates with David Somers at the University of Michigan.

4) Aria – Aiden Lind and Sam Ryan’s story.  Cellist Cary Redding from The Melody Thief makes an appearance in this one as Aiden’s best friend. 

5) The Melody Thief – Cary Redding and Antonio Bianchi’s story.  There’s a scene in Thief with Cary and Aiden where Cary teases Aiden for being too happy with Sam.  There’s also a mention that David Somers tried to fix Cary and Aiden up at one point, but that the two men became best friends instead.

What’s next for the series?  I’m arguing with my muse.  I have several stories started, including a story featuring Jules Bardon’s little brother, Guy, and a story featuring Cameron, the cheating ex-boyfriend from Aria.  I’ve also got a chamber music group (trio or quartet) in the still-in-my-imagination stage.

Do you have a particular character from the series you’d like me to write about?  Or do you have a particular instrument you’d like to see featured in a Blue Notes Series story?  I’m definitely open to suggestions!  Leave me a comment or shoot me an email at shiraanthony@hotmail.com and my muse and I will duke it out. -Shira

**************

You can find all of the Blue Notes Series books at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, AllRomanceEbooks, and other outlets.

Prelude is now available for pre-order from Dreamspinner Press! Release day is Monday, May 6th.

Want to read an excerpt from one or all of the books? Click on the “My Books” link and then on the “More” tab. Then just scroll down to the “Excerpt” tab. You’ll also find the playlists for the Blue Notes books there!

Blue Notes Series Recap: Meet David Somers

Thirteen days and counting until the release of Prelude!  Today, I thought it’d be fun to recap a bit of Blue Notes history through David Somers’s eyes.  David, as some of you may know, is the fictional conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra who appears in all of the Blue Notes Series books.  Prelude is just that:  a prelude to the other books in the series since it takes place before all of the other books.  For those of you who know David from the other books, Prelude will give you insight into how David became the man you’ve already met.  For those of you who are starting the series with Prelude, the story will be an introduction to some of the other characters who appear in the series.

Much as I have come to love all the characters in the series (I know, I’m incredibly fickle!), my absolute favorite is David Somers.  Outwardly strong, sophisticated, fabulously wealthy, and always in control, David has become a mentor to some of the talented musicians who appear in the series.  But when David first meets Alex Bishop, a crossover violinist who is just as at home playing Mozart and Beethoven as he is playing the Rolling Stones, David isn’t the same man.  He’s inwardly insecure, terribly lonely (although he’d never admit it), and dreaming of composing the music he hears in his mind.

We first meet David in the original Blue Notes book at a party held by Jason Greene’s sister, Rosalie, at her Milan apartment.  David, it turns out, was Jason’s college roommate at University of Michigan. 

The next time we meet David is in The Melody Thief.  David is cellist Cary Redding’s mentor and friend.  David is also friends with a certain Italian entertainment lawyer who rescues Cary from a couple of street thugs:  Antonio Bianchi.  Antonio handles David’s European contracts. 

David also appears in Aria.  When opera singer Aiden Lind’s boyfriend cheats on him, Aiden comes to stay at David’s London apartment.  David also conducts Aiden in his Covent Garden debut as Don Giovanni in the Mozart opera by the same name.  When Aiden struggles in his relationship with lawyer Sam Ryan, who hasn’t quite gotten over the death of his longtime partner, David shares his own personal grief over the death of his wife, Helena.

But David’s role as mentor and friend to these other characters is only possible because of the connection he forges with Alex Bishop.   Alex helps David face his fears and find the strength to move forward in his life.

I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know the “real” David Somers, and learning about his personal journey.  The best part of writing the Blue Notes Series books?  Growing the characters.  Taking them from point A to point B and beyond.  I hope you enjoy David’s journey!  -Shira

**************

You can find all of the Blue Notes Series books at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, AllRomanceEbooks, and other outlets.

Prelude is now available for pre-order from Dreamspinner Press!  Release day is Monday, May 6th.

Want to read an excerpt from one or all of the books?  Click on the “My Books” link and then on the “More” tab.  Then just scroll down to the “Excerpt” tab.  You’ll also find the playlists for the Blue Notes books there!

Page 20 of 34« First...10...1819202122...30...Last »