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Archive for 'music'

Hold on to Memories (Contest)
Monday, April 29th, 2024

UPDATE: The winner is…Deb Robinson!

Last night, while storms were raging outside, I settled into bed. I was thinking about the people my family has lost.

My daughter and I were caregivers of our elderly family members during their last days. We cared for my grandmother in 2018—she was 98 and simply faded away. My father passed in 2019 due to heart and diabetes issues. My mother died from pancreatic cancer very, very quickly in 2020. We were happy to care for them. Proud we did such a good job, too, keeping them comfortable and easing their way from this world surrounded by love and family.

They lived long, fulfilled lives. You can’t hope for more. Still, I miss them deeply. I think about them often. I live in the last home they all resided in. My family is here with me. I say all this not because I’m sad, but because I treasure the fact we’re that kind of family—kind, caring, respectful, loving. I was thinking about them when I ran across this song. I’d heard it before but really hadn’t listened to it.

If you’ve followed me for very long, you know I love rock and heavy metal, and that my favorite heavy metal band is Disturbed. I’ve love them since I first heard “Down with the Sickness” which released back in 2000—so, I’m a long-time fan. Their music is powerful. The lead vocalist’s voice is, IMO, the best of any rocker out there right now. If you haven’t listened to his cover of “Sound of Silence,” you just have to. The first time my oldest granddaughter heard it, she outright cried.

This song, “Hold on to the Memories,” is another ballad. It’s not the kind of thing they’re known for, but it shows their range and their heart. I love everything about it—how they come to together as family to celebrate the memories of the ones they’ve lost. Give it a listen. Then, for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me a song that hits you “in the feels” when you’re thinking about lost loved ones.  

Krysten Lindsay Hager: Second Chance Sports Romance Playlist: Stars in the City (Free in Kindle Unlimited)
Monday, March 11th, 2024

When I was writing my drama-comedy second chance sports romance, Stars in the City, I was both caught between that longing of a soap actress named Valeria Joseph, who wanted her ex back, and the adorable swoony moments when they reconnected. So, I needed a playlist that took me into both mentalities and acted like a soundtrack to dreaming about getting back with the guy who you never got over, the swoony moments where you fall back in love, and everything else that goes on when you have a second chance with the guy you’ve never stopped loving.

I loved writing this sweet romance that reunites a young soap star dealing with her own insecurities who never got over her ex, Davis, who she runs into on the streets of New York City. She finds out he’s now playing basketball at a college in the city, and they start to fall back in love. However, Valeria’s celebrity life brings drama, and it doesn’t help when the gossip sites link her with other stars. Can these two get it together this time around?

First, here’s an excerpt from Stars in the City:

“Valeria, you don’t have to be that girl on the TV screen right now with me. I just want the girl from River Grove back,” Davis said.

Except I hadn’t been that girl since I started the show. I reached over and took another sip of water.

He leaned across the table and put his hand over mine. “I hope you didn’t think I was judging you. Your celebrity life is so foreign to me. That’s all. I just want you to know you don’t have to be on twenty-four seven. You can just be yourself because you’re amazing.”

I met his eyes, and he squeezed my hand.

“It’s not quite the same thing with me playing basketball, but I do know what it’s like to have huge expectations other people have put on you. Not to mention, the high and impossible expectations you put on yourself. You and I have always had that in common.” He winced.

“I guess it’s worse for you now playing at the college level, huh?”

He nodded.

I squeezed his hand back. “I hope I didn’t freak you out with the photo thing.”

“You’re in a whole new world. Not going to lie—I’m not crazy about how that’s impacting you, but I get it.”

“Yeah, but then I dropped a therapy session on you. Ugh. I am a lot.” I shut my eyes and sighed. He was probably eyeballing the exits as we spoke.

He was smiling when I opened my eyes. “I believe I’m the one who started that session. Actually, the fact we’ve always been able to be open and vulnerable with each another is one of the things I loved most about us. That’s why it hit like a truck when you suddenly wanted to split up. I understand it now. Sweetie, I’m just relieved we got it all out in the open.”

My shoulders dropped in relief as I exhaled. “Even though it was a messy therapy session?”

He laughed. “Those are the best conversations to clear the air. Do you know how rare it is to find someone you can do that with? I hope you don’t ever feel you have to hold back from me.”

The waitress came over with the bill. He reached into his pocket and handed her his credit card before I could get my purse open. She placed two to-go boxes on the table for us.

“Ready to go?” He helped me put my coat on, and we walked back to my place.

“I have exactly fourteen minutes until I need to get the bus,” he said as I unlocked the door.

I frowned. Saying goodbye was going to be so hard after we had finally cleared the air. He came in and put his hand over mine.

“Val, I don’t know how to say this, but this is the first time in months I’ve felt relaxed and happy. Like my entire nervous system just regulated itself.”

We both smiled. “Mine, too. I missed you.”

How many times did I think to myself that talking to him felt like sliding into a warm bath? No one could calm my mind down like he could.

“I’m still worried I dropped too much on you tonight.”

He chewed on the inside of his lip. “I’m glad you told me all of that. You have a tendency to hold back, and I know it wasn’t easy for you.” He brushed a strand of hair away from my face. “Not going to lie—I’ve been holding back with you, too. I was afraid of getting hurt again. But I think if we want to make a go of it then we’re going to have to be open about everything. After all, things could have been different if we had talked it all out last summer.”

He looked down at the floor, and I knew there was something he needed to get out. I touched his arm, and he met my eyes.

“After we broke up, I spent a lot of time going over stuff in my head, and I didn’t know if you were afraid to get too close to me because of what happened with your mom and dad or if you wanted someone more exciting.” He sighed. “I guess I always wondered if you loved me … anywhere as much as I loved you.”

My eyes widened as I realized how much my parents’ divorce had closed me off. I told myself I held back from my other ex, Lance, because he seemed like a player, but the truth was I had been doing it for a long time.

“Last year, the idea of losing what we had was terrifying because it was the first time I’d ever felt anything like that in my life. I was scared of getting my heart broken and losing the one person who meant the most to me in the whole world.” My stomach fluttered as I knew I had to expose my true feelings for him if he was going to trust me again. “I was so in love with you.”

He exhaled and put his hands on my waist. “So you left because you were afraid that I’d leave first?”

I nodded.

He brushed my cheek. “I wish you had told me even half of this.”

I swallowed hard. “But that’s a lot to put on a teenage boy. I didn’t want you to be overwhelmed. I was so in love with you, and I was scared I was going to overload you and you’d run.”

Davis sucked in his breath. “I can understand why you’d be afraid to even bring that up to me. But you should know that that was exactly how I felt about you. And it utterly destroyed me when you walked out on us.”

My eyes began to water.

“Hey, not trying to make you cry. I just want you to know how I felt about you.”

I didn’t trust myself to talk for fear a flood of emotions and tears would come out. He cupped my face.

“Is there any chance we could get back together and maybe I could call you my girlfriend again?”

***Pick up the book here. It’s free in Kindle Unlimited:
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The One by Amy Swift: It has that late night reminiscing over lost love feeling. I can see Valeria listening to this late at night and thinking about Davis.

Nobody knows me like you do (Made For Me) by Muni Long: This one just fits Davis and Valeria’s relationship. Davis says no one has ever understood him so well and Valeria feels the same way. You see them as each other’s biggest supporter through the good and, more importantly, the bad times.

Back to December by Taylor Swift: The perfect song that embodies what it’s like to reminisce about a relationship you screwed up and want back. This feels like a song that Valeria would play on repeat about regrets with Davis.

Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves: The calming, sweet song that would fit Valeria and Davis as she says talking to him is like sliding into a warm bath.

Maroon by Taylor Swift: This song is set in New York (like the book) and the song deals with a past relationship. It reminded me more of Valeria and her co-star (and ex) Lance.

Back to You by Selena Gomez: The kind of song you sing along to in the car about the ex you’re missing. I picture Valeria singing this with her friends Cecily and Paige.

What Hurts the Most by Rascal Flatts: I played this over and over because I was basically trying to hurt my own feelings to get the emotion right for Valeria’s voice in the story. Also Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts: For the moment where you realize the past will make them appreciate each other more and it’ll be different this time. (I write happily ever afters, so you can relax! It’s a happy ending.)

Almost Over You by Sheena Easton (There’s also a version by Lila McCann I listened to as well): If you’ve ever been sad over your ex this is your national anthem. Note: playing this at 3 am is not in your best interest unless you like crying!

Can’t Let Go by Mariah Carey: If you follow my work then you already know this song is my go-to song to hurt my own feelings to get that heartbreak feeling just right in a story. I put it on repeat and it just brings those feelings to the surface.

You can find the playlist here if you want to listen to any of the songs yourself. Plus, I have the ambiance videos Valeria sends to Davis to calm his anxiety in the book. There’s a few more videos that inspired me on the playlist as well. Happy listening and reading!

About the Author

Krysten Lindsay Hager is a bestselling author of YA and contemporary romance. She writes romance because she loves bringing people swoony moments and hope-filled happily ever afters. She writes about falling in love, fame, fitting in, frenemies, first loves, and finding your way in the world. She loves reading, watching movies, and lipstick.


Genevive Chamblee: House of the Rising Sun
Monday, February 19th, 2024

Today’s post may seem an odd one, but for me, it isn’t. See, recently, Mardi Gras was celebrated, which is a major event in Louisiana. And since 2020—when the entire world broke—it hasn’t been the same. Sure, it’s on its way to recovery, but it’s taking a while to get there. I should say, though, that this isn’t something that many people who have been around and are familiar with carnival are overly concerned with because, as mentioned, Mardi Gras is a big deal. It has tons of moving parts. Restructuring events this large is complicated. For those who think I’m minimizing the disruption, reflect on what happened in the years following Hurricane Katrina. It wasn’t that much different than what is presently occurring.

I began by saying Mardi Gras is a popular celebration in Louisiana. This is true. However, it is an event celebrated across the globe. New Orleans is likely the place where it is the most famously celebrated or is given the most attention. But NOLA wasn’t where Mardi Gras was created or even first celebrated. It’s just that when NOLA does something it does it big. Like, there is nothing really “over-the-top” about the place. Nevertheless, this post isn’t about Mardi Gras. Carnival was just the reason this topic registered with me.

This year, several parades were canceled—not due to weather but due to continued money issues that a lot can be attributed to the start of the icky Rona situation. In 2020, Fat Tuesday was on February 25, barely beating the U.S. shutdown/shelter-at-home. In 2021, it’s fair to say, that the Mardi Gras public celebration in NOLA was all but canceled. In 2022, it returned, but many parades/krewes didn’t return due to financial issues and parade route conflicts. This has continued to be the case as people get back on their feet.

So, as some friends and I were discussing the “good ol’ days” of carnival, we began to realize that there are plenty of things that we’ve taken for granted about Mardi Gras. Taking something for granted means failing to appreciate the value of something due to overfamiliarity. It also means failing to make assumptions without asking questions. Well, while we were having this profound discussion (and yes, distilled spirits were involved), the song House of the Rising Sun (or as I’ll refer to it from henceforth, HOTRS) began playing. And for the first time, I took note of the lyrics—perhaps because the first line begins: “There is a house in New Orleans.” As many times as I’ve heard this song, I never once questioned anything about it. I looked at my companions and asked where this place was located. No one knew, and that sent me spiraling down a wormhole of intoxication and loose association. Not only was I curious about the where, but I also wanted to know the what and why. So, I did some digging, and the results were intriguing…at least, to me.

Before I began dumpster diving into the where, what, and why, I was smacked with who. This became significant later when trying to answer what.


Like Mardi Gras being closely associated with NOLA despite it not originating from there, HOTRS is mostly associated with being performed by the British rock band, The Animals. Their version was released in 1964. However, HOTRS is a folk song that is believed to have been written in the early twentieth century and has been performed/recorded by a host of other artists. This list includes (in alphabetical but not recording order) the following: The Animals, Clarence “Tom” Ashley, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Five Finger Death Punch, Gwen Foster, Frigid Pink, Geordie, Andy Griffith, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Halliday, Lead Belly, Los Speakers, Miriam Makeba, Johnny Miller, Sinead O’Connor, Odette, Dolly Parton, Pete Seeger, Nina Simone, Thin Lizzy, Dave Von Ronk (Mayor of McDougall Street), and Glen Yarborough. This list may not be exhaustive.

Reportedly, The Animal’s version of the song was based on Bob Dylan’s version, and Dylan based his version on Dave Van Ronk’s version. However, Ronk wasn’t the original artist. The original artist is alleged to have been a woman, and the original lyrics reportedly are “poor girl” and not “poor boy.” It is believed the lyrics were changed when the gender of the singer switched from male to female. This is significant because the switch in gender perception changes the interpretation of the song. I’ll swing back around to this later.


Most of the information that I’ve read says that the HOTRS is based on a real location in NOLA. To be fair, I did find a couple of sources that said it was fictitious and a few others that concluded it was real but located in other places than NOLA. As to what type of establishment it was, three common answers kept recurring: Read the rest of this entry »

Krysten Lindsay Hager: YA Contemporary Book CECILY IN THE CITY & the Music that Inspired It (FREE in Kindle Unlimited)
Tuesday, September 5th, 2023

How do you write the third book in a YA pop star romance series? By listening to songs that bring feel good moments, inspire you, get you through hard times, and are perfect for working through those dramatic and angsty scenes. So, what songs did I use to inspire me during writing Cecily in the City? Read on!

In Cecily in the City, Cecily is still dating her favorite pop star, Andrew Holiday, but she’s now working as an actress and model. She gets to be in an up-and-coming pop star’s new music video, but she doesn’t realize that Dex is about to become Andrew’s biggest rival. Things get complicated when her star starts to rise as she begins acting on a soap opera and all eyes are on her. Then rumors begin that she’s actually dating Dex, which upsets Andrew. Add in a singer named Everly who wants Andrew for herself and drama occurs both on the set of the soap and off. Can Cecily and Andrew’s love overcome the odds?

So here are some of the songs that inspired Cecily in the City.

Kasey Musgraves’ Star-crossed album. I had the whole album on repeat for sooo long. “Simple Times” was on during writing the scenes where Cecily was trying to keep her head straight while one part of her life was exploding the same time another part was taking off. “Justified” was another perfect track to her and Andrew dealing with rumors and drama. “Camera Roll” also inspired me as I was writing. I don’t want to give too much away, but you already know I write happy ever afters, but let’s just say this one is a hard fought one!

Taylor Swift’s “Lavender Haze” & “Cardigan” both fit with Andrew’s indie pop star career and their relationship being tested by their big careers in the spotlight. (Here’s a sneak peek of the spinoff book’s inspiration: “Cruel Summer” has been playing a lot.)

Olivia Rodrigo’s “deju vu” &“good 4 u.” These songs were on repeat when I was working on the scenes where Cecily is on Instagram looking at Everly’s posts where she’s hinting she’s with Andrew now. So yeah, I needed angsty music!

Jon Connor’s “Selfish” & “Every Other Word.” When I was writing about the rumors of Cecily dating a new pop star (Dex), I needed to picture how the whole scene would appear to Cecily’s pop star boyfriend, Andrew Holiday. Andrew is a soulful singer/songwriter who writes about heartbreak and painful breakups, so I wanted to get into his character’s head of how he’d feel about not only having Cecily in the music video of this up-and-coming singer who is a rival of his, but then have to deal with rumors about Cecily and Dex dating. So, to get me into Andrew’s head space to write his dialogue and reaction, I listened to “Selfish,” before I’d start writing. It took me right into the feelings I needed to conjure up the right emotions for the scene. Note though that Cecily is NOT a toxic girl—I just needed a perspective of what Andrew might be feeling in that moment as the anxiety hit. And, if you follow me on Instagram, you know Jon’s song, “Every Other Word,” is one I’ve been talking about inspiring me as I was writing. Andrew and Cecily both they want a loyal relationship, but there’s so much drama in the celebrity world they’re in and this song fits that vibe.

Pokora’s “Tombe’” is what I was thinking of when Cecily was starring in Dex Doyle’s new video in NYC. So much of the Pyramid album was inspiring the vibe of the style for that shoot. Also, he’s become a new favorite singer of mine.

Marina’s “Complete.” MaRina’s a go-to of mine for song inspiration. “Complete,” was the uplifting and upbeat, happily-ever-after song I needed to inspire me as I wrote the feel-good ending to the book. Another song from her inspired me as I’m writing the spinoff book, Stars in the City, that’s coming next, so stay tuned!

I have Andrew Holiday sing a cover of George Michael’s “Waiting for that Day,” so if you’ve read the book, you already know about that inspiration! A few other songs that inspired me include: “Shawn Mendes’ “Wonder.” Ed Sheeran’s “Beautiful People,” and “Don’t.” There’s a link to the playlist on my Instagram as well to hear the other songs.

Find the bestselling book, Cecily in the City, here:

The entire bestselling series is free in Kindle Unlimited:

About the Author

Krysten Lindsay Hager is a bestselling author of YA and contemporary romance. Krysten writes romance because she loves bringing people swoony moments & hope-filled happily ever afters. Her books are known for making you laugh, cry, & swoon. Along with romance, her novels deal with self-doubt, finding where you belong, true friendship, & soulmates.

Amazon page:



National Play Your Ukelele Day! (Contest)
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Cindy Bartolotta!

Never heard of this holiday? Me neither, but with the kids at home due to ice storms, what better time to pull out the old ukelele and strum a few songs? The 18-year-old has several ukeleles hanging on her wall. I wish I could share the video I have of her singing while strumming her chords, but couldn’t figure out how to do that, so I’m sharing a picture of her playing in March 2020—yes, near the beginning of the lockdown. She had plenty of time to practice back then.

Then because I thought we should enjoy some actual ukelele playing, I found this: “Somewhere over the Rainbow” performed by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole. It’s my favorite ukelele piece, and he sang it like an angel.


My question to you today, do you (or did you ever) play the ukelele? Or any musical instrument? Share for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card! I never played the ukelele, but I did play the piano, guitar, and clarinet. 🙂

Krysten Lindsay Hager: Music and My Pop Star Romance Series Inspiration
Thursday, December 8th, 2022

When I created my young adult Cecily Taylor Series, I knew I wanted to give a teenage girl all the things she’s ever dreamed about like her dream career (acting) and a chance to date her favorite singer/songwriter, Andrew Holiday. I thought it would be interesting to see how Cecily would react to getting the life she thought she wanted and how she would actually handle it. Honestly, who hasn’t thought about what it’d be like to date their celebrity crush?

When writing the books, I imagined a realistic way where Cecily could not only meet Andrew (at an audition) but develop a relationship with him while on the music video set. Writing those early scenes where Cecily is falling for her pop star crush, while still trying to act normal was a lot of fun. She’s gushing and freaking out on the inside but trying to appear calm and cool on the outside. On a date, she slips and reveals she recognizes a watch that she’s seen on social media that is his grandfather’s, and then she feels like a complete stalker when she realizes she’s outed herself as a mega fan. I kept imagining how a date with my favorite singer would go and I realized it would be awkward knowing so much personal history about him. Where is that line for Andrew between a fan and a person he could see himself really dating?

As a kid I was obsessed with George Michael, and you can definitely feel George’s influence in Andrew Holiday. However, recently my mom reminded me of a crush I had when I was a toddler! Yes, you read that right, I said toddler. I was laughing as she told me I would sit in my toddler car seat bopping along to Andy Gibb. It’s not important who else I had a poster of on my wall next to the Holly Hobbie pictures…ahem. I went on YouTube and looked up some old interviews of Andy, and you can definitely see his influence as well. Readers always tell me they see Shawn Mendes in Andrew and while he wasn’t on my radar when I first started the series, I can see what they mean. As I’m working on book three in the series, (Cecily in the City will be out in March), I have been listening to Shawn and reading his interviews.

While writing the books, I always make a playlist that goes along with the story. Some are songs I listened to while writing or editing, while others are ones that came out after the books released and they work so well with the storyline. Some of the artists on the playlist include: Ed Sheeran, George Michael, Mac Miller, Matt Pokora (his music inspired some scenes in the upcoming book), Shawn Mendes, Kasey Musgraves, Jon Connor, Marina, Clark Manson, Kylie Minogue, Lauren Alaina, and Johnny Gill among others.

George Michael’s song, “Waiting for that Day,” is just one of the George songs I imagine Andrew singing that Cecily relates to. In fact, the box set of Andrew that has all heartbreak songs on it about exes which Cecily refers to as paying “Fifty bucks to hurt my own feelings,” is based on an album of his that I got as a kid! “One More Try” is another of his songs that inspired me while writing. Clark Manson’s “Track 9” is another song that’s perfect on the playlist for the book. Marina’s song, “Flesh and Bone,” inspired a scene in In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Action and well as scenes in the upcoming book where you see Andrew and Cecily both dealing with being in the public eye.

Kasey Musgraves’s Star-Crossed album has been in the background while I’m working on book three and it was also the soundtrack as I worked on the updated version of my other book, Dating the It Guy. Jon Connor’s “Every Other Word” is one I have on repeat while working on book three, too. Lauren Alaina’s “Painting Pillows” is also in rotation as I work on book three, so stayed tuned.

Here’s a link to the playlist on Spotify. Let me know what you think!

Find the bestselling series here:

About the Author


Krysten Lindsay Hager is a bestselling author of YA and contemporary romance. Krysten writes romance because she loves bringing people swoony moments & hope-filled happily ever afters. Her books are known for making you laugh, cry, & swoon. Along with romance, her novels deal with self-doubt, finding where you belong, true friendship, & soulmates.

Amazon page:

Candice LaBria: Falling Hard (Contest & FREE in KU!)
Thursday, September 30th, 2021

“Music is to the Soul what Words are to the Mind.”
~Modest Mouse

As I started writing the short story, The Homecoming, music was an obvious component. It’s a bonding experience for my couple. It sets the mood for a romantic night. I listened to music as I wrote. Songs inspired feelings I wanted to convey. Lyrics prompted dialogue. It’s a second chance at first love. Lauren and Beck shared their first kiss at the homecoming dance just minutes before he broke her heart. Twenty-plus years and two failed marriages pass before Lauren—OM Goodness, I’m so sorry, I’m so ahead of myself. Sorry.

I’ll start over: I have loved music since I was a child. I remember finding a single of Three Dog Night’s Joy to the World when I was five and playing it over and over. Suspiciously, my record player disappeared one night. Hmmm. Thanks to the internet (and lack of parental control!) I don’t have that problem now. I stream music constantly. The array of genres means no matter what my mood, feeling or occasion, I can find the perfect song.  How many times have you been experiencing a major life event and suddenly come upon the song that captures that moment? It has gotten me through heartbreaks, made the road trip memorable, created lasting friendships, and elevated a celebration to an unforgettable party.

My first boyfriend and I would talk on the phone every night. He was a bass guitar kid. He would play albums and delve into structure and composition. Me – I just knew I liked it or not. It frustrated him because I always got the lyrics wrong. (Still do. And still don’t care. Mine are way better.) Music created that bond between us. Decades later, we had a discussion about Rush’s 2112 album. I hated it as a kid. I watched it on YouTube last year. I got it. And I realized the lost art of listening to an album; how the musicians craft a series of songs to tell a story or address issues. I now have a record player again. When was the last time you listened to an album?

I shared a desk with an employee in the late 90s. I worked days and he worked nights. He would leave me funny notes, we barely knew each other having only met once. One day as Christmas approached, our paths crossed. I asked if he wanted to help me do some shopping for the office. We headed to the mall. A song came on over the sound system. He swept me up in his arms and waltzed me around the store. It was beautiful and magical. There was a smattering of applause. A woman commented how lucky I was to have such a spontaneous guy. I thanked her. Our friendship was cemented in that moment. We traveled through Europe together. I attended his wedding and have watched his children grow. Have you ever made a friend over music or lost one?

My son taught me how innate the emotional response is to music. He was barely two months old when I was dancing him through the house to the soundtrack from Braveheart. We came to the death scene track. His expression changed and he started crying. It took me about five times to realize it was the song that was doing it, not hunger or a need for a diaper change. Something in the composition spoke to his soul at that young age. Studies conducted on the powerful effects of music on your mood support this. What song has evoked an emotional response from you?

My daughter taught me the power of the musical group experience. She loves music more than I do. As I struggled to bond with her as she entered her teens, I bought concert tickets to One Direction. At the time I wasn’t familiar with their music. She had an iPod and earbuds, so I didn’t have to listen to it like the torture I inflicted on my parents. I was excited to be spending an evening with her. We joined the thousands of girls, moms, and the occasional dad, in the football stadium. I fell in love with the opening act, 5SOS, but that is another story. The boys appeared. The energy in the stadium was astounding. 78,000 people standing and singing every word along with One D.  We were a united group. My daughter and I have traveled the US chasing bands and catching shows. How I miss that with Covid and look forward to pursuing that again. What was your favorite concert?

As I started writing the short story, The Homecoming, music was an obvious component. It’s a bonding experience for my couple. It sets the mood for a romantic night. I listened to music as I wrote. Songs inspired feelings I wanted to convey. Lyrics prompted dialogue (yes, I verified they were correct—thank you, internet). It’s a second chance at first love. Lauren and Beck shared their first kiss at the homecoming dance just minutes before he broke her heart. Twenty-plus years and two failed marriages pass before Lauren, filled with liquid courage, makes a date to reconnect with her lost first love. Drinks in a cozy Manhattan bar turn steamy, and their old spark is rekindled, but Beck leaves her wanting more. Still haunted by the heartbreak of homecoming, Lauren doubts the budding relationship after his sudden cancelation. Can Beck convince her to give him another chance? Or will the distance, both in time and location, keep them apart? “Old Me” by 5 Seconds of Summer spoke to me for the story. What’s your romance and music story?

The Homecoming is included in Passionate Ink’s Falling Hard anthology being released TODAY!  Get your copy here!

Falling Hard is a collection of 7 steamy short stories with all the proceeds going to ProLiteracy,,  a leading organization working to promote adult literacy.  I made a playlist for my story. Take a listen:

I asked the other contributors about music.  For Jordyn Koss’ story, Open Enrollment, Ed Sheeran’s All the Stars has meaning for her characters and to the story. Cher’s anthem of All or Nothing inspired Ryan T. Osborn’s character in Claiming Papa.  As Michal Scott was writing Who can Find a Virtuous Woman, Rick James’ Super Freak was playing in the background. Deni Dawson’s says, “Time is an important theme in my short story, so I wanted songs that embody the futility of time, that when time is all you have, it becomes meaningless. Until you run out of it.” Check out Lord Huron’s When the Night is Over.

If you want to read the full story on the Playlist behind Passionate Ink’s Falling Hard Anthology, find it on my blog . Interested in hearing the songs, check out them out here:


I would love to hear about how music has played a part in your life. Drop me a comment and share the experience. Have a playlist that inspires you? Drop the link. I am always looking for new music. Comment, and Delilah will pick one lucky winner to send a copy of FALLING HARD to someone who isn’t a KU subscriber!

A huge Thank You to Delilah Devlin for giving me the opportunity to write about music.

Happy listening and reading.

About the Author

Candice LaBria is the author of The Homecoming and a member of Passionate Ink. She is currently working on a Mardi Gras-themed short story and a novel about a couple that is stuck rut. Can they get past it and save their marriage or is the chasm insurmountable? Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @bria_writes, Facebook Candice LaBria, newsletter. Follow the story and music at www.