I brake for great songs. Not literally, but when I’m driving, I tend to station-surf, hunting for a song that lifts me up and reflects my mood. Between FM, satellite radio, the cd player, and yes, even a cassette player, there are plenty of options in my car. I’m constantly searching for songs that make me feel—feel happy, sad, romantic, or amused. One tune that I block out all else to listen to is “Samba Pa Ti” by Santana. Something about those notes evokes yearning and sensuousness, and lifts my soul to a satisfying high.
So when I answered the submission call for short stories involving a supernatural connection to jazz for the anthology All That Weird Jazz, I knew the story I wrote would involve a song that pulled the main character in, a song like “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak, or “Still Got The Blues For You” by Gary Moore. A song that takes the listener to another world. A Siren Song.
In my story “Siren Song“, Hawk Hathaway’s soul is touched by a song, too, one that leads him to a life-changing dilemma. He listens to local jazz at The Gimlet Lounge, a bar above an old speakeasy, sitting in the dark, sipping on drinks served to him by attractive bartender Greta, who with her pierced eyebrow, plaid skirt, and biker boots is both from a different world and so out of his league.
For myself, listening to music while enjoying a refreshing drink (alcoholic or not, I’m not partial), soothes my soul and provides a calming effect that I appreciate more than usual during this troubled year. Here is a cocktail with a history as old as The Gimlet Lounge, and I’ve included a non-alcoholic version as well. It’s one of my favorites.
The French 75
The French 75 is a champagne cocktail that has been around since the early 1900s and got its name from the French artillery gun used during World War I. I enjoyed several of these when The National World War I Museum in Kansas City served them at their exciting evening events that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of The Great War. They are typically made with either cognac (French brandy) or gin. For cool fall and winter nights, I prefer them made with brandy, but on hot summer nights, a French 75 made with gin is particularly refreshing.
Serve in a coupe or flute. Makes one serving.
½ oz. cognac
½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
3 oz. Champagne
Twist of lemon peel for garnish
Fill a shaker with ice and add cognac, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake, then strain into glass and top with Champagne. Add lemon peel.
French 75 Mocktail
3 oz. Tonic water
2 oz. Sprite
Twist of lemon peel for garnish
For the mocktail, pass on shaking over ice because both of the ingredients are carbonated. Instead, pour ingredients directly into a flute or coupe, and stir with a swizzle stick. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
The tonic water adds dryness to the drink, and there is no need to add lemon juice since Sprite already has lemon flavoring. I use Fever Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water.
Enjoy your drink, turn on the stereo or stream your music of choice, and if you have no dilemmas of your own to ponder, why not check out Hawk Hathaway’s in “Siren Song“?
All That Weird Jazz
Jazz. A music of improvisation, of passion, of its very own kind of magic. Considered by many to be the only truly original American form of music, it has since its birth in a smoky room somewhere also been tied to the strange, wrapped up in the supernatural, associated with the occult, at least in hints and shadows. Pro Se Productions now brings together several of the most innovative writers in genre fiction today in ALL THAT WEIRD JAZZ, telling the tales of the unusual between the notes, the magic behind the music.From straight up pulp action to ghostly noir to a dragon who digs Jazz more than anyone else, ALL THAT WEIRD JAZZ takes love for this unique musical styling to an all new level, complete with adventure, thrills, and even a chill or two.
A. Monnin is an AF veteran and avocational archaeologist. She lives to travel, and can’t wait until her next foreign trip. Egypt, the French island of Guadaloupe, and the Balearic Islands are all on her agenda.
You can find her here:
Facebook: MA Monnin
Instagram: M.A.Monnin www.mamonnin.com
Hi! I’m Megan Ryder and I write sexy contemporary romance with several series all with everyday heroes with deep wounds and feisty women with their own difficult pasts who must come together to heal and find love. My stories feature humor, deep emotion, and sexy times, all in a roller coaster to their happy ever after.
My current series features three foster boys who came to a ranch in Montana, found a home there and a place to heal, yet it took many years before they found what they all truly needed – a family and love of their own. The third book just came out, A Cowboy’s Song, and finishes the trilogy (though I will be returning to the town and the characters in subsequent books for more stories). This book is about the youngest, Ty Evans, who lost his biological family to a car accident when he was twelve years old, and was then placed in foster care. He held himself apart, and even gave up music for many years, unwilling to open himself up after the loss of his family. But now, his brothers have both found love and their own paths forward in their lives and he feels like he’s standing still. He’s feeling a bit lost and wants to find his own place at the ranch and in his life, only he’s not sure the ranch in his place.
Piper is the daughter of country music royalty, only she hasn’t quite lived up to expectations either. Her last tour and album was a bit of a snooze-fest and she’s feeling the pressure to keep up with her parents and older brother, yet she’s not feeling the passion either. She’s invited to the ranch to be in Tara Rawling’s wedding, Ty’s older brother, and she meets Ty.
When Piper and Ty sing an original duet that Ty wrote for the bride and groom and it’s recorded and goes viral, it seems like they both have a new path in life. Piper’s career has a boost and Ty might have a new path – in Nashville. But the romance they started at the ranch may not be strong enough to deal with the outside pressures of the music industry and their own past insecurities.
This book is about finding your passion, your place, and that one person who sees who you really are and loves you for that.
If you like country music, check out the song that was written and recorded for this book, “Ruined Plans Aren’t Always a Bad Thing” by Sierra Bernal. It’s featured in the book and is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon music etc. You can also check out my inspiration here on Spotify.
As part of preparing for this book, I listened to a lot of country music, which had been my standard genre but I found I really liked it. This led me to developing the playlist above, so you can hear some of my inspirations for this book. For an ebook copy of this book, tell me what you think is the sexiest country song (or any genre of music) is!
Excerpt from A Cowboy’s Song
He put the travel mug down on the counter. “You call that a kiss? I lent you my dog, and everyone knows a cowboy needs his best friend. I hauled my ass out here in the cold spring night to chase coyotes away. And I apologized. And all I get is a tiny peck on the cheek? I’m feeling a bit cheated here.”
“You yelled at me, offered me your dog, and I never asked you to chase the coyotes. And I gave you my precious coffee. Twice. I’m not entirely sure why I owe you more.”
He pushed off the counter and gave her a lazy smile. “I never said you owed me, darlin’. Just maybe thinking you might want something a little more than that peck.”
A shiver ran up her spine. How could he tell that she wanted to know how his lips felt on hers, what it would be like to trace his muscles with her fingers, and see if his arms would hold her just right? She would be here for only a couple of weeks. It wouldn’t be awkward at all, even if it was bad, but somehow, she sensed it would be pretty damned awesome. And she could use some awesome in her life right about now.
She took a step forward, and his body radiated heat to warm her slightly chilled skin. Her hand reached out and stroked his arm, a tentative motion, then bolder when he stood still, staring at her with dark, fathomless eyes that seemed to see deep into her soul, to the secrets she held inside.
“You’re going to have to make the first move. I won’t have anyone say I forced you.” The deep rumble in his chest startled her in the quiet of the cabin.
She took another step until she was almost flush against him, until just a sliver of air separated them. She rested one hand on his chest, letting her fingertips curve around the muscle of his chest, his heart pounding just under the skin. Her head tilted, and she wet her lips and sucked in a breath. Why had her courage suddenly deserted her? She was inches away from the most desirable man she had seen in years and she was about to back out.
He ran his hand down her cheek and traced her lips with a fingertip then ran them under her chin, lifting her a little more. She parted her lips and her eyes fluttered shut as he pressed his lips on hers, a gentle, introductory kiss. She slowly relaxed under the unhurried tasting, opening her lips a bit more when his tongue stroked against hers. His hand circled her waist and pulled her flush against him, the hard planes of his body fitting neatly against her soft curves, and his tongue dueled with hers, parlaying and dancing in a tangle of passion.
Slowly, he pulled back and she found her hands painfully twisted in his shirt, holding him close, almost climbing him to get closer. She disentangled herself from him and smoothed the fabric of his flannel shirt, trying to ignore the muscles underneath, and the fact that she had a bed just a hallway away.
“I’ll see you in a few hours.” His voice sounded gruff and hoarse with passion.
A Cowboy’s Song
Can they build a future on a shaky foundation?
Tyler “Ty” Evans lost everything in a car accident when he was twelve, retreating into his shell so tightly that it took months for him to come out again. Music and the ranch saved him, and he will always be grateful to his foster family for saving his life. Now, with the ranch on financial tenterhooks, he wonders if he can use his music to contribute to the solution.
Piper Raines is the daughter of a legendary country music family. While her parents and brother are all famous, her attempt at an independent career went off the rails, and, with exhaustion and stress and bad press dogging her every step, she needs a place to recover. When Piper is invited to vacation at the ranch, Piper and Ty connect through horses and music. After a video duet of Piper and Ty goes viral, they’re invited to sing in Nashville, which also provides added pressure, stressing their new relationship.
So, the 15-year-old’s very pretty boyfriend sent her a video to watch that brought her to tears. Okay, so 15-year-olds shouldn’t be taking themselves so seriously, but the kid has great taste in music. Had to share…
I haven’t heard of this guy before, but I’ll be paying attention now.
And just a reminder, there are some still prizes out there, waiting to be claimed!
I’ve been working like a fiend for the past week. Whether helping my dd sort through my mom’s lifetime accumulation of stuff, writing the next bounty hunter, editing pages for author-friends, and reading shorts for the next Boys Behaving Badly anthology, I don’t have time for TV. So, I missed this year’s Grammys. However, this video of one of the performances during that show is inescapable. I saw it on a Twitter feed, watched it once, and I swear I’ve probably watched it twenty more times over the past few days.
There’s so much to love about it.
First, you see Demi Lovato in a gorgeous dress, looking angelic. Immediately, I was struck with gratitude that the overdose she suffered didn’t kill her and that she’s standing on stage looking beautiful and strong.
Then you see her begin to sing, and she does that thing that anyone who’s stood on a stage fears most—making a mistake and having to start over. My stomach sank, and I was cheering inside for her to go on. She did.
As a writer and editor, I love her words. They are few. But every single one matters. The lyrics are raw from Word One. I love the melody. It plays in my head. I can’t hum it; it starts low and quickly rises way outside my limited range, but the music makes my heart soar.
And then you see the tears, hear the tears. If you’re one of those lucky people, like me, who gets goosebumps when music moves you, then you know how I feel every time she gets to that searing crescendo. It’s glib to say, but it’s a wonderful performance.
If you haven’t seen it, get ready. If you have, enjoy another look…
If you didn’t watch it live on Sunday night at the Oscars, or you’re not one of the nearly 12 million people who’ve watched the video, you’re welcome! It was the best moment of the night and left this writer sighing.
Just back from spending the evening with my dd. We turned on the Grammy’s and settled in. As always, it was an uneven evening of entertainment with a few sterling performances. Our favorite, hands down, was Brandi Carlile singing “The Joke”. No glitzy costume. Just her with her acoustic guitar and small band, and her big, big voice. The video of her Grammy performance is on YouTube yet, but she’s always best live, so I’m sharing her performance on Austin City Limits. Really, folks, catch the Grammy performance. She was unbelievably great!