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Archive for 'music'

The Devlin Family’s Musical “Heritage” (Contest)
Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Stacey Kinzebach!

The 16-year-old girl drove me into town today. Before we left the driveway, she plugged in her phone, pulled up Pandora, and started the song list at the top of her menu.

The first song played was “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters, the next was “Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day, followed by Etta James’ “At Last.” She sighed when she heard that song, saying, “That one’s my favorite.” BTW, she sang every word of every random song played. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Her mom had the same taste growing up, and this didn’t happen because we play Classic Rock and Motown songs 24/7 in our house. We listen and know well all the current hits, but the teenager is the one who brings up the frequent gripe our family shares that they just don’t make memorable music anymore. When the opening strains of “Stand by Me” play, you instantly know the song, and no matter how long it’s been since you heard it last, you remember the words.

This morning when the guitar riff at the start of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” played, we both squealed and began dancing in our seats. I guess we’re doing something right. 🙂


For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me what songs bring the biggest smiles and joy to your family!


Cara/September North: What do The Drummonds and Arts & Crafts have to do with each other?
Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Hello everyone and thank you for having me as a guest on this blog. I enjoy arts and crafts. Pinterest is one of those social media sites that I thoroughly enjoy because it not only lets me save tons of pics of my muse, Jake Gyllenhaal, it also allows me to find new arts and crafts type projects I can work on. Are you crafty? In my YA for Mature Readers, The Drummond’s Series (14 Books!), I think at least one person is artistically inclined. The Drummonds are musicians, but not everyone is awesome at it, and several of their mates have other skills such as spray painting, pottery, making awesome “I’m With the Band” T-shirts.

What are some of your favorite arts and crafts? Are they holiday-themed?

As an author, I got a batch of my books with the pages stuck together. They sent me a fresh batch, but I am trying to figure out what all I can make with the randomly glued books I have. I don’t want to throw them away. So far, I have origami cranes and I mod-podged some pencils. Any other suggestions?

If you are into YA, please check out my Drummonds. They are available where e-books are sold.

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Why do I like this? (Contest)
Thursday, April 29th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Mary Preston!


For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, watch this video and tell me something you like about it. Maybe I’ll figure out why I like it so much!

P.S. Do you recognize him?


  1. Our Favorite Pets! (Contest) — Last day to enter! Win a FREE book!
  2. “Blown away, tissues on hand…” Have you ordered your copy? (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  3. Andy Carley: Pure Magic (Contest + Excerpt) — Win a FREE book!

Don’t forget…

Did you get your copy?

Click on the meme to go to Amazon!

Michal Scott: The Pleasant Surprise of Florence Price (Contest & Excerpt)
Thursday, March 25th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Jennifer Wilck!

Sometimes, outrage motivates you. Sometimes, pleasant surprise. My African-American women photo collection started because, out of thirty-six history cards of famous African-Americans, only six were women. My discovery of classical composer Florence Price was a pleasant surprise.

I was a classical music fan from a young age. My mother had a five-record collection of Strauss waltzes that I probably wore out on our old hi-fi. Then playing pieces like the Poet and Peasant’s Overture on clarinet in junior high school seeded a love for classical music deep in my heart. I learned all I could about European composers like Debussy and Stravinsky and Vaughn Williams. As I got older I developed a love for the classical works of American composers like Aaron Copeland and Leonard Bernstein. Now, thanks to my year-long quest, first for quotes on democracy, then music and songs to keep hope alive through 2020 and now into 2021, my musical horizons have broadened yet again. Swimming in the pool of African-American classical music and jazz composers during Black History month, I discovered African-American female composers.

I’ve been swept up away by the classical works of Margaret Bonds, Zenobia Powell Perry, and Undine Smith Moore. I learned of modern works by present-day women like Valerie Coleman, Valerie Capers, Pamela Z, and Hannah Kendall. I’ve been floating along in the wonder of expanded knowledge about women musicians with whom I was already familiar, women like Hazel Scott and Eva Jessye.

Learning about the life and work of Florence Price has been one of the pleasant surprises of 2021. On my favorite classical radio station alone I’ve been introduced to no fewer than seventeen of this amazing woman’s work. Her titles range from the predictable, Sonata in E Minor, Symphony No. 1 in E Minor to the poetic, Memory Mist, Moon Bridge, On Quiet Lake to the whimsical, Goblin and the Mosquito. I’d always known about the seminal event of Eleanor Roosevelt enabling Marian Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the Revolution wouldn’t let her sing at Constitution Hall. But I only learned this year that Anderson closed her recital with Price’s My Soul’s Been Anchored in de Lord.

Born in 1887, Florence came from a family of firsts. Her father was Little Rock, Arkansas’s first black dentist. She had her first piano recital at the age of four and at age eleven wrote her first musical composition. At fourteen she went to study at the New England Conservatory for three years. By 1927 she had divorced an abusive husband and moved to Chicago where her work found support from the music director of the Chicago Symphony. In 1932 she won first prize in the Wannamaker music contest. She became the first African American woman to have her work performed by a major American symphony when on June 15th, 1933 the Chicago Symphony performed her Symphony No. 1 in E minor. As a kid when I was learning about Stravinsky and Copland and Bernstein, I should also have been learning about Florence Price. But better late than never.

I’m always moved when I learn of women who achieved as Florence did, even though they didn’t receive all the accolades they deserved in their lifetime. So for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments the name of an unsung woman you feel the world should know more about.

Better To Marry Than To Burn

Wife Wanted: Marital relations as necessary. Love not required nor sought…

A bridal lottery seems the height of foolishness to ex-slave Caesar King, but his refusal to participate in the town council’s scheme places him in a bind. He has to get married to avoid paying a high residence fine or leave the Texas territory. After losing his wife in childbirth, Caesar isn’t ready for romance. A woman looking for a fresh start without any emotional strings is what he needs.

Queen Esther Payne, a freeborn black from Philadelphia, has been threatened by her family for her forward-thinking, independent ways. Her family insists she marry. Her escape comes in the form of an ad. If she must marry, it will be on her terms. But her first meeting with the sinfully hot farmer proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs her physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

In the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both Caesar and Queen discover surrender can be as fulfilling as triumph.

Excerpt from Better to Marry than to Burn…

Caesar looked at Queen. His eyes glistened with unshed tears. She swallowed hard, unnerved by the sight. Her lips trembled.

Reverend Warren smiled. “Caesar, you may kiss your bride.”

Kiss? Queen flinched. There’d be no kissing in this marriage. She’d promised to be his wife for two years with sex provided at agreed upon intervals. At the end of two years that requirement would end, and she’d be free to live as she chose. She could go anywhere she pleased, especially with the respectability of missus before her name and Caesar’s promised severance. No. This coupling made them business partners. Business partners did not kiss.

She extended her hand to seal their arrangement. He returned the handshake, but instead of releasing her, his too rough fingers imprisoned hers and pulled her to him. With his other hand, he captured the back of her head and secured her mouth to his.

A squeal of surprise parted her lips. His thick tongue swept into the shelter of her mouth. The assault ambushed her with pleasure and vanquished her resistance.

Her hands rose, as if of their own volition, and pressed against his chest. The firm muscle beneath his shirt coaxed her hands to linger, to explore— however discreetly—the muscle beneath her palms and fingertips.

Caesar broke off the kiss.

The embrace didn’t last more than a few seconds, but Queen swayed, robbed of reason and resentment.


Melanie Jayne: The Sad Song Playlist (Contest)
Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Ann Ivey!

Do you ever need a good cry?

Sometimes, I do.

Today, it is dark and rainy. The perfect setting for the broken-hearted protagonist staring out the window with tears running down their face. Yeah- I am that author. I love to write those scenes that make the tears flow, that make you feel. The ones that make you keep reading but you are hurting. Better known as “The Good Stuff.”

When I need to inflict that hurt upon my characters or I feel the emotions building up—I put on this playlist and I let my emotions flow.

The songs are in no particular order and I limited myself to one per artist.

  1. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (Live Version from iTunes Festival 2011) by Adele.

To me, Adele is the Queen of Sad. However, there is something about this song being live and the vulnerability that I sense in her voice- instant tears.

  1. “Colorblind” by the Cast of Glee

The words! “I only see gray.” I love the imagery in this song.

  1. “I Can’t Tell You Why” by the Eagles

True story- I listened to this song on repeat when I was going through a break-up in college. It was my first adult break-up and Timothy B. Schmit’s voice is achingly sweet as he sings about the feelings of frustration and helplessness.

  1. “i hate u, i love u” by gnash

Who hasn’t been stuck in this circle? This song speaks to the aggravation that you feel.

  1. “Burning House” by Cam

I saw the artist perform this song on an awards show. It was stark and full of pain. Too little, too late.

  1. “Hurt” by Johnny Cash

Is this a love song? A tale of drug abuse? Pain set to music? I would answer affirmative to all the above. The perfect pairing of Cash’s roughened voice to the angry, sorrowful lyrics

  1. “Yesterday, When I Was Young” by Shirley Bassey

Such a powerful, smooth voice singing about loss and reflection. Dim the lights, sip your favorite beverage, and remember.

  1. “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars

The first time I heard this song, I wrote an entire book in my head that became You Only. A list of the simple regrets that soon become a huge problem.

  1. “Black” by Pearl Jam

Life and love are never simple. We can grow from pain and learn from our mistakes.

  1. “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel

This is a great example of The Piano Man’s skill. The simple words paint a poignant picture of doomed love.

Grab your box of tissues, lock the door, and let go.

To win an e-book copy of one of my books (your choice) please comment below with your favorite sad song.

About the Author

Melanie Jayne has the best life. She spends her days chatting with feisty females, waking up to sexy men, eating chocolate, and wearing pajamas. Her books predominantly feature characters over the age of thirty-five, facing life head-on. They are woman-positive and advocate empowerment.

As M. Jayne she has been tasked with telling the tales of The Novus Pack. Where a human is dumped on a werewolf pack.

She lives a quiet life on a grain farm in central Indiana with her patient husband and their mastiff, Duncan Keith. She loves trashy TV and TMZ.

Learn more about Melanie Jayne:
readmelaniejayne on Instagram 

What sounds like…? (Contest)
Monday, March 8th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Arlene Miklovic!

I didn’t have a fun topic in mind for today’s post. I usually come up with something, whether it’s a photo prompt, talking about my day, etc. Today, I had nada, until I stood in my bathroom, getting myself ready to face my day.

Something in my routine reminded me of a didgeridoo. You know, that Australian wooden instrument that makes that deep, sonorous sound. I’ve included a quick clip from YouTube so you can listen to one being played if you’ve never heard the sound.

Your challenge today is to figure out what thing in my routine could possibly remind me of a didgeridoo. Leave a comment for a chance to win a FREE download of your choice from my backlist!  If you haven’t a clue, have fun with your answer anyway. There is no wrong answer!

“She’s got the shot! She’s got the shot!” (Music Video)
Sunday, February 28th, 2021


Today, I hit the VA in Little Rock to get my COVID shot! When I finished my 15-minute waiting period, I strutted out of that facility, da-da da-da, to the tune of “The Jack” by AC/DC, substituting “She’s got the jack” with “She’s got the shot!” If no one had been looking, I’d have been headbanging out the door I was so happy!

The shot didn’t hurt. My lips felt a little numb and my head was a teeny bit woozy, but those aren’t necessarily bad sensations, right? I lived through the 70’s—and I used to have to pay to feel that way! Okay, I’m being silly, but I’m soooo relieved to have the vaccine. That’s two down in my household—the SIL is a cop/first responder. Now, we have to wait for the rest to get theirs because then we’ll be getting closer to living with a little less paranoia. I hope your day comes soon, too! In the meantime, I’ll leave you with AC/DC’s “The Jack” in case you have no idea what this little gem sounds like… You’re welcome.