“Music is to the Soul what Words are to the Mind.”
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, https://www.proliteracy.org, 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.
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. CandiceLaBria.com.
UPDATE: The winners are…Colleen C, Pamela Reveal, Debbie Caswell, Bn100, and Cheryl!
I won’t actually do any counting here, because that’s too much like math and, well… ew. But over the past few years, I’ve come to love the concept of anthologies.
Firstly, I get a try out new-to-me authors. Yes, this can also be accomplished by buying random books from random authors, but this tactic is a tad inefficient. And if I’ve spent hard-earned money on a whole book that turns out to be poorly written, poorly edited, or just plain unsatisfying, it’s like biting into a chocolate chip cookie only to realize it’s oatmeal raisin.
But a whole selection of authors and voices in one purchase? That’s a buffet! A smorgasbord! A feast, and I’m sure to find at least one (usually several) author whose voice I now love and can’t wait to read more of!
Secondly, short stories rock. I still love thick books with massive world-building that transports me across the universe or deep into a secret world within the world I already know and takes my mind and heart on an operatic-level journey toward an epic conclusion. A full 7-course meal with all the pomp and circumstance in presentation, complete with three different forks, two spoons, and weird clamp-type utensils for the escargot.
But there’s something to be said for peeling back everything but the most essential, impactful details and getting right to the heart of the story. Skipping all the minutia and going straight for dessert. Getting my money shot and my Happily-Ever-After and my hand-to-my-heart-deep-sigh-of-satisfaction… while waiting to pick a kiddo up from whatever practice they have today.
Lastly, there’s the price. I could achieve all of the above without buying an anthology… and spend a fortune doing it. Ooooor, I can dip my toe in the waters of an anthology for a lot less financial outlay. The greater the price of a book (or ebook), the greater my expectations. And therefore, the greater my disappointment if it’s not awesome.
Buuuuut, a quality book from a sure source that only costs 99-cents? OMG take my money and keep the change!!
And funny that I should be extolling the benefits of anthologies… because Delilah’s latest Boys Behaving Badly Anthology is going live October 12th. The Cowboys edition has everything you’d want in an anthology: great authors, rocking short stories, a can’t-pass-up-price, smokin’ hot cowboy heroes that will set your naughty bits aflame, and heroines you’ll feel in your heart because you’ve been them at some point in your life. I’m thrilled to be part of this year’s anthology, and (squee!!) have read most of the other stories… trust me, they are ah-mazing!!
Please comment with something anthology-related (your favorite, a fun experience, why you like them, etc.), and I’ll randomly pick five winners to receive an Amazon pre-order of the upcoming Cowboys anthology.
An excerpt from “Solar Flare” in Cowboys by Ava Cuvay
Planet Crysceous, Iona Quadrant
“Dad, the Coronal Mass Ejection will reach us tomorrow. Have you hired the replacements to herd—” Solarne Vacca jerked to a halt halfway into her father’s office, her attention snagged by the three strangers standing there. Specifically, the tall drink of aqua at the front, one hip cocked and his arms crossed at his chest, far enough from the blaster strapped to his thigh to appear non-threatening.
One glance at his sharpshooter’s face was enough to know his relaxed manner was an act.
Her heart hammered in her throat. She’d seen this man on the “Wanted” holo-vids posted around this system, sporting a list of violent offenses. He was even more striking in person, lounging with all the self-assurance of a king. Nearly two meters tall, with a head of bedroom-mussed hair as dark as a starless night, eyes the color of a cloudy day, and a body built for sin. She wouldn’t be a woman if the view didn’t steal her breath and shoot heat straight to her core with laser-point accuracy. But she was also CEO in charge of her family’s sprawling crehdisth worm ranch. This was her kingdom. And this man’s visit was a threat.
He was not here for a casual social call. He was a hired gun.
UPDATE: The winners are…Terra Oenning, Alison Rush, and Tabitha Parrish!
I love writing short stories. I used to submit short stories to publishers all the time because writing short, getting to The End quickly, gave me a rush. Writing short also gives me a chance to try new things out without a lot of risks. I “graduated” to editing and publishing my own collections of short stories because I love the process of seeking stories from talented officers, making choices regarding which stories work together, editing every precious word, and then sending the book out into the world for readers to enjoy. I’m working on volume #6 of my Boys Behaving Badly Anthologies right now—Cowboys—that I think you’ll like. It releases on October 12th! The book is a big thick volume of shorties, and it’s dirt cheap—just $0.99. No excuses at all for anyone not to pick up a copy! Click on the cover of Cowboys to pre-order your copy now!
You can check out the first five by clicking on the covers. And yes, they are all just $0.99—not because they’re not worth full price, but because the authors of these stories want as many people as possible to devour their stories! They’re a great deal and great way to find new-to-you authors!
Comment for a chance to win the download of your choice of
one these anthologies! There will be three winners!
Excerpt From “Bountiful Lust” inside Blue Collar…
Bulldog gave me the evil eye as we walked toward the small, clapboard house on the bad side of town. “Shit goes sideways,” he said, “you stand back and let me handle it.”
I offered him a non-committal nod. “Think Mrs. Holcomb will give you that much trouble?”
He snorted and skewered me with a narrow-eyed glare.
“Ooh,” I said in my best little-girl voice and gave an exaggerated shiver, hoping he’d trip over his big feet. Not that I had to pretend my reaction too much. Something about the big burly guy did it for me. His face was too manly to be handsome—square jaw, crooked nose, laser-sharp blue eyes. Thick, gold-brown hair dusted the collar of his jacket. His six-foot-four, heavily-muscled frame made me feel feminine and soft and all those other useless qualities I despised in “helpless” females. Go figure—the thought of those big, hard hands rasping over my skin made me tremble.
At Mrs. Holcomb’s door, I knocked.
I knocked again. Still nothing.
Bulldog stepped to the left and peered into the window. “Don’t think anyone’s home. And since this is his address of record…” He backed up and raised a booted foot.
“Really want to knock down her door?” I pulled my lock-pick kit from my back pocket and knelt in front of the knob. A couple of twists of my tools, and the lock snicked. I turned the knob and quickly moved away from the door, giving way to Bulldog as he grumbled something under his breath about smartass women and strode inside.
Bulldog’s big frame filled my view, so I was taken by surprise when he cussed and rushed toward a hallway.
A crash sounded in a distant room. Light from an open doorway in the back glared as he ran through it. I followed, watching as our target ran for the chain link fence and vaulted it.
Bulldog cussed again, placed a hand on the top of the fence, but when he swung over his big body, the thin metal running through the top caved, and he fell to the dirt.
I picked another spot farther down the fence, grabbed a post and swung over, landing on my booted feet and shooting down the alleyway.
Behind me, I heard grunts and more curses, and finally, “Dammit, Buttercup, wait for me!”
I wasn’t waiting for shit. Lenny moved fast for a big boy. He was almost at the end of the alley. If I didn’t catch him quickly, I’d lose sight of him, and we’d lose our paycheck. With my breaths coming fast and sweat trickling into my eyes, I sped up, reaching out with my fingertips to snatch a handful of his shirt. With the fabric in my fist, I drew back and swung him.
He went sideways, but he didn’t go down. He twisted out of my grasp and raised his fists, his eyes widening as he looked me up and down, an ugly sneer stretching across his equally ugly face.
But I was ready, ducking beneath and coming up to drive my fists into his fat gut, then bouncing back to avoid the next wide swing.
When he didn’t connect, his swing carried him forward, and he turned.
I rocketed to his back and wrapped my arm around his throat, grasping my fist to keep my arm in place, as he staggered then went to his knees, his fingers scratching my arms before reaching backward to pull my hair.
But he didn’t get a hank. His body crashed forward, bringing me with him, because my arm was trapped beneath his thick neck.
Boots pounded the pavement then slowed.
“Buttercup, need a hand?”
I wheezed, trying to drag in a breath as his weight crushed me against the pavement. “Roll him so I can get back my arm.”
Lenny’s body rolled to his side.
Bulldog lowered his boot then bent to offer me a hand up. His gaze went to the thick scratches on my arms.
Blood ran in rivulets from the deep gouges.
“Goddammit.” Bulldog’s scowl was scary as he blew out a deep breath, and then reached behind his neck to pull his T-shirt over his head.
He tossed it at me.
All I could do was stare at the grayscale tattoos covering his shoulders and chest, disappearing into his jeans.
“Wrap this around your arm. You’re gonna bleed all over my truck.” Then he went down on one knee and locked cuffs around Lenny’s fat wrists. When he stood, he kicked the low-life in the ass.
After we’d dropped Lenny at the jail, Bulldog remained silent as we drove.
My arm stung like hell, so I was fine with the quiet for the first while.
His expression was so dark, I didn’t dare try to make small talk. When he missed the turnoff to the agency, I straightened and darted a glance his way. His narrowed gaze swung toward me, daring me to say a word. I sat back, my heart thudding hard inside my chest. Just how pissed was he?
October 12th is fast approaching! Have you pre-ordered your copy of Cowboys? It’s going to be huge! 15 sexy stories by some familiar names and by authors you’ll want to get to know real quick! Did I mention it’s only $0.99?!Crazy, right? The point is, this is a book we want EVERYONE to read, because there’s literally something for everyone inside it.
Right now, you can only pre-order it on Amazon, but it will go wide soon. If you want to pre-order your copy now, here’s the link: COWBOYS
Cowboys: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology
Get ready to fall in love with sensual tales filled with the earthy scent of horses, cows, and crisp, clean sweat; the sight of sun-leathered skin and crow’s feet; the feel of work-hardened thighs and arms; and the sound of a deep-voiced drawl…
Inside Cowboys: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, you’ll find the following stories by some of the hottest romance writers out there…
Sweet Home Cowboy by Jamie K. Schmidt – A runaway bride returns home to visit her father in the hospital only to discover her jilted groom has taken control of the family’s ranch
Free Rein by Elle James – Former Delta, now rodeo security cowboy, rescues a barrel racer on a runaway horse, rekindling an old flame in the process
Eight Seconds by Margay Leah Justice – At the rodeo, sometimes all it takes is eight seconds to fall in love
Sweetgrass Summer by Reina Torres – A rock-steady rancher, determined to give his love a slow traditional courting, is surprised when she takes the reins
Cowboys & Zombies by Cindy Tanner – Nothing can keep me from my cup of coffee—not the threat of zombies or a double-shot of sexy cowboy…nothing venti-ed, nothing earned
Carry Me Home by Kelly Violet – Down on her luck, a city girl travels back to Kansas and the boy she left behind
East of the Rift by January George – A family tragedy reunites a lonely rancher with his estranged wife
Tying the Knot by Jennie Kew – A city girl, with a submissive streak a mile wide, falls fast for a dominant, dirty-talking cowboy
Second Chances by Megan Ryder – Overwhelmed trying to hold onto her dead husband’s ranch, a lonely widow turns to the one man she can’t have for a night of passion
The Patience of Unanswered Prayer by Michal Scott – Kidnapped and destined to be another victim of Reconstruction-era violence, a feisty shop owner is rescued by a trail boss whose dark secret might save them both
Something to Talk About by Izzy Archer – When a grad student takes a job as a nanny to two motherless children on a cutting horse ranch, she catches the eye of her sexy boss
The Scoundrel by Natasha Moore – A lonely widow finds her strength when she indulges her attraction to a weathered cowboy on his last night in town
Solar Flare by Ava Cuvay – An interplanetary rancher recruits hired guns to help herd her livestock and falls into the arms of their sexy leader
Hunk of Burning Love by Delilah Devlin – A woman accidentally sets her kitchen on fire while trying to catch the eye of a Texas firefighter
Thoroughbreds and Thermodynamics by Sukie Chapin – A nerdy vet weathers a snowstorm to help a hot-as-hell rancher deliver a breach foal; save a horse, ride a cowboy, indeed!
I sent this out in my newsletter yesterday, so sorry if this is a repeat for you… 🙂
I recently received the rights back to some of my older titles. I didn’t immediately republish them. I sat on them while I thought about what exactly I wanted to do with them. They are stories that take me back to my roots in this industry writing erotic romance.
First, I had a series with Avon over a decade ago. A dark, erotic paranormal series, Dark Realm. They gave me back the three short stories associated with the series and the first two novels out of four. I was majorly bummed they didn’t give me back all the books. I did nothing while I wondered what could I do with only the first two titles? I’ve decided I’m going to republish them, and then write some other stories related to that world. Something tangential to the original plotline. The first two stories are full-length novels, something I don’t write anymore because I suffer from W.A.D.D. — Writer’s ADD. (It’s only a real thing to me.) So, the follow-on stories will be short novels. If you’re ready to sink into something very sexy and dark, with creatures based on my favorite mythologies, you’ll love my Dark Realm series. I’m releasing a short story next week, Sleeping with the Enemy, that’s a SHORT STORY related to the series. Have to say that twice because folks sometimes complain when the story was short even when they were warned! Don’t worry, it’s FREE in KU and only $0.99 if you purchase it. But it will give you a little tasty bite of what’s to come.
The other story I’m excited about, is yes, another vampire story. This one’s set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world — Texas to be exact. I wrote one story for Samhain years ago, but it’s one that I’ve had readers ask me for the sequels many times over the years. I plan a trilogy of stories in the Texas Vampires series, but first, I’m re-editing the story that was originally known as Undeniable. Now, it’s Her Sanctuary. And yes, it’s sexy as hell.
There are a couple more books in the works that will be more familiar to you. Something for everyone, I hope.
Sleeping with the Enemy
Sleeping with the Enemy: A Paranormal Vampire Short Story Dark Realm series
Releases August 10th!
A lone rogue vampire mingles among his hunters in a blood bar, undetected…until a beautiful woman snares his attention. Suddenly, he’s running, leading her on a chase until she corners him, stake dangling from her slender fingertips. Now he has a couple of choices, play it sexy or safe?
Her Sanctuary Texas Vampires, Book 1
Releases August 24th!
A woman surviving on the edge of a dark frontier strikes a sensual bargain with a handsome stranger hiding a dangerous secret…
In a post-apocalyptic future, creatures who’ve hidden in the shadows for millennia are freed to roam in a world shrouded in darkness. Rancher Kate McKinnon runs Sanctuary Ranch—a last refuge on the western frontier. While running herd over her cowhands and integrating refugees into their self-sufficient refuge, she escapes her responsibilities the only way she has left—via radio to pockets of other survivors. One man, Ty Bennett, is her confidante, and she thinks she might be falling in love with his deep, rasping voice. Although they’ve never met, he seems to know her heart.
On a patrol to scavenge supplies, Kate and her cowboys are surrounded by a gang of renegades intent on claiming her. Rescue comes unexpectedly by a militaristic band led by the man she’s spent so many hours talking to through the dark nights. She brings him home only to discover she’s brought vampires inside the refuge.
Already half in love with the human woman, Ty offers added muscle to her defenses and promises to move her people to safety. Fighting his own nature and appetites, he seeks redemption for his many sins but can’t control his hunger to possess Kate. Getting past her prejudice and choking responsibilities tests his seductive powers.
Note: This story was previously released under the title Undeniable. It has since been revised and expanded and will be the first in at least a trilogy of new stories.
Cowboys: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology
Releases October 12th!
Cowboys is filled with tales of those rough and rugged cowboys, whether they’re riding a fence line in Texas or Australia, or herding animals on a newly colonized planet!
If you crave a sexy tale about those gruff, capable men, this collection will embody that earthy alpha male hero who isn’t afraid to show the gentle, nurturing side of his complex nature along with his rough and rugged ability to protect those he loves.
Get ready to fall in love with tales filled with the earthy scent of horses, cows, and crisp, clean sweat; the sight of sun-leathered skin and crow’s feet; the feel of work-hardened thighs and arms; and the sound of a deep-voiced drawl…
Dark Legacy Dark Realm, Book 1
Releases November 16th
How could everything have changed for Natalie Lambert so radically, so quickly?
Escaping from a tragic past, the virginal beauty arrives in New Orleans and falls victim to a series of strange, unearthly attacks. Now, for the first time in her life, Natalie aches with sexual desire. Confused, frightened, out of control, she struggles desperately to understand a world that is transforming around her. But soon she will be powerful and magnificent in ways she could never have imagined…
A ruggedly handsome Cajun policeman, Detective Rene Broussard has come to rescue Natalie in her time of greatest need. And when he inexplicably wakes in bed beside her—both burning with a lust impossible to deny—he doesn’t care that a dark and vengeful enemy has brought them to this moment. All that matters is the irresistible curve of her body, the heat of her passion…and the forbidden pleasures the night promises.
With one sharp, sensuous, biting kiss, he will be hers for life…and beyond.
Note: This book was originally released as Into the Darkness. The author is re-releasing the book and continuing the series. There will be new stories to tell!