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Shira Anthony
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message 1: by Dreamspinner (new)

Dreamspinner Press (dreamspinnerpress) | 2637 comments Mod
Shira Anthony, author of The Dream of a Thousand Nights and the upcoming Blue Notes, joins us today from 1-6 EST to chat about her books, answer questions, and more!


message 2: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Hey, everyone! I'm hoping you'll join me today for chat, excerpts from my books and a few giveaways. Feel free to post questions and let me know if you want to enter the giveaway to win one of two prizes: a free copy of my first DSP release, The Dream of a Thousand Nights and a $25 Amazon gift card.


message 3: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Thought I'd start out by posting the synopsis of my upcoming release, "Blue Notes," which will be published in December or January. It's a modern gay romance set in Paris with a music theme and loosely based on my life growing up in France and as a classical musician:

Blame it on jet lag. Jason Greene thought he had everything: a dream job as a partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, a beautiful fiancée, and more money than he could ever hope to spend. Then he finds his future wife in bed with another man, and he’s forced to rethink his life and his choices. On a moment’s notice, he runs away to Paris, hoping to make peace with his life.

But Jason’s leave of absence becomes a true journey of the heart when he meets Jules, a struggling jazz violinist with his own cross to bear. In the City of Love, it doesn’t take them long to fall into bed, but as they’re both about to learn, they can’t run from the past. Sooner or later, they’ll have to face the music.


message 4: by Janey (new)

Janey Chapel (janeychapel) | 1 comments Hi Shira! Congrats on the book! I'm curious where did you get the idea for The Dream of a Thousand Nights? It sounds really exotic and creative. :)


message 5: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Ashling (andrewashling) Hi Shira,

Congratz with the launch.

Didn't you write m/f-romance? What attracted you in m/m?


message 6: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Janey wrote: "Hi Shira! Congrats on the book! I'm curious where did you get the idea for The Dream of a Thousand Nights? It sounds really exotic and creative. :)"

Thanks, Janey! To answer this one, I have to first admit to my anime obsession... There was an episode of one of my favorite series, "Bleach," which had an "Arabian Nights" theme. I got this idea for a slash pairing of Byakuya and Renji with an "It's a Wonderful Life" theme which I co-wrote with Venona Keyes. We then later rewrote it as an original story,
The Prince and the Jinn, which Dreamspinner has a shortened version of as part of its Halloween promotion this month.

I took the original germ of an idea - a prince and a genie, from that story - and started to write The Dream of a Thousand Nights by Shira Anthony . It's a bit different premise from the original, but you can still see some similarities and even a few scenes I kept!


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Shira. What persuaded you to write a m/m romance, and with the upcoming publication of "Blue Notes," another m/m romance, do you see yourself writing exclusively in this genre?


message 8: by Lily (new)

Lily (lilysawyer) | 36 comments Hi Shira!

I was wondering, when you write do you plot out your story first or wing it?


message 9: by Thea (new)

Thea Nishimori (theanishimori) | 19 comments Hey there! ^_^

I just want to know how many stories you're writing at the moment, including fanfics. C'mon, be honest -- how many irons do you have in the fire???

Also, have you ever had to abandon a story for lack of interest? (Readership interest or your own.) I'll admit it, I have with a couple... And in connection with that, what do you think makes a story worth writing to the end? What motivates you to finish one?

T


message 10: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Ashling (andrewashling) Who do you identify most with: Tazier or Tamir?


message 11: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Andrew wrote: "Hi Shira,

Congratz with the launch.

Didn't you write m/f-romance? What attracted you in m/m?"


Thanks, Andrew! And yes, my first book was From the Depths, an erotic, Harlequin-style het romance. But I didn't enjoy writing it as much as the M/M stories I had been working on at the same time.

My favorite books growing up were the "Darkover" series by Marion Zimmer Bradley. She wrote a beautiful gay romance between two of her main characters, and I think that's what first sold me. Then, later, I read Anne Rice's "Cry to Heaven," and I was a total convert.

I write M/M rom because I love men, both gay and straight. That's true, of course. That's the easy answer. XD The more complicated answer is that I've always hated the sappy, weak heroines often portrayed in traditional het romance, and so I gravitated towards stronger ones. M/M romance gives me the opportunity to write for two strong characters and also address some of the issues I've seen my gay friends struggle with (coming out, acceptance, guilt, etc.).


message 12: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Shelter wrote: "Hi Shira. What persuaded you to write a m/m romance, and with the upcoming publication of "Blue Notes," another m/m romance, do you see yourself writing exclusively in this genre?"

At this point, Shelter, it's hard for me to see writing for any other genre. I know there's probably more money to be made in M/F erotic romance, but my heart (and my muse) seem firmly planted in M/M land. And it's what I read, as well, not only what I write (yes, I totally admit to being a Dreamspinner reader/addict when I'm not writing)!

Especially after "Blue Notes," which has me thinking of at least 3 other, interrelated music stories, I think it will be a long time before I consider something other than M/M!


message 13: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Ashling (andrewashling) Do you listen to music when you're writing? If so, which music for the love scenes? :)


message 14: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Lily wrote: "Hi Shira!

I was wondering, when you write do you plot out your story first or wing it?"


Great question, which I never even considered when I started writing! I've realize that I'm half plotter/half pantzer. *grins*

I have a general, bare-bones idea for a story - I know where I want to start, where I want to go, and some landmarks along the way when I start writing. But I don't outline - I just start writing from there and let the characters and the basic plot idea carry me along. Sometimes I have to go back and cut out a lot of the unnecessary stuff when I'm done, or add stuff that I needed at the beginning, of course! And thank God for betas as far as that's concerned!


message 15: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Thea wrote: "Hey there! ^_^

I just want to know how many stories you're writing at the moment, including fanfics. C'mon, be honest -- how many irons do you have in the fire???

Also, have you ever had to a..."


*hangs head* Oy vey! You got me there! I still have 3 unfinished fanfics I have left hanging. Sometimes, when I need a break from my original fiction, I go back and work on them. But I definitely have guilt there!

Right now, I'm have 4 original M/M stories at various stages of development. "Symphony," which I co-authored with Venona, is in need of a reworking, but is complete, and is part of the "Blue Notes" series. "Aria," another "Blue Notes" book, is about 1/4 done, and is the project I'm currently working on. I've also started a sequel to "The Dream of a Thousand Nights."

The last story, "Who Rules the King's Heart," unfortunately falls into the category of "shelved" for now. It's a fantasy story that I got about halfway through, then just lost interest and direction with. I may pick it back up again, when my muse cooperates, but for now it's just gathering cobwebs!

As to why I can finish one and not another, I'm honestly not sure. It may be because I'm not happy with a characterization or, because I tend to be a "pantzer," that I'm not getting enough direction from the characters - I guess both are interrelated. With the fan fiction stories, it's simpler: I'm just enjoying writing my own characters more than relying on another author's!


message 16: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Andrew wrote: "Who do you identify most with: Neriah or Tamir?"

Hmmm.... Neriah or Tamir? Probably Tamir, the Jinn. I adore angst, and good lord, I put him through the wringer with it! He sacrificed so much for Neriah. Plus, he's a bit of a child at heart, which I probably am, too! Oh, and I tend to wear my heart out on my sleeve, just like he does! ;-)


message 17: by Lily (new)

Lily (lilysawyer) | 36 comments Have you ever had writer's block and if so how did you get through it? I'm asking cause I've been suffering with it for the past few months. I seem to have made some headway, but I'm still struggling some days

thanks


message 18: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Andrew wrote: "Do you listen to music when you're writing? If so, which music for the love scenes? :)"

I definitely listen to music, although not while I'm actually writing the words on a page - I tend to listen in between, to get my muse going. So now that you've got me going...

The story that most comes to mind for a soundtrack (and especially for the love scenes) is "Blue Notes." The American, Jason, is a former pianist whose favorite piece of music is Brahms Op. 118, no. 2. Here's a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MIlxE... It's a totally romantic, angsty piece which I can listen to a million times and still turns me to Jell-O!

Another piece that I tend to listen to, and which appears in "Symphony," played by one of the main characters, Alex, is the Sibelius Violin Concerto: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SvAf-... God, but that first movement is SOOOO romantic!

The last piece, which is the "theme" for "Aria," my current WIP about an opera singer, is the duet from Bizet's "The Pearlfishers" which is sung by the two male leads (talk about the closest thing to M/M sex in opera!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIVXxR... Bromance at its best!


message 19: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments On that "note," (lol), I thought I'd post the first chapter of "Blue Notes" for you. Enjoy! This is a pre-publication excerpt, of course, so the final version may differ.

Chapter One:
He leaned back against the headrest and watched the clouds beneath the wing of the airplane. Used to traveling business class, with all six-foot three of him now wedged into the narrow coach seat, he cursed every aeronautical engineer who had ever suggested refitting wide-bodied jets to accommodate more passengers.

He eyed the center section of the cabin with longing, regretting that he had chosen a window seat. College students, clearly with more foresight than he, were already stretched out over three or four seats to sleep during the long flight from Philadelphia to Paris. In the final analysis, however (and, exceptional lawyer that he was, he always analyzed), he knew it was his fault alone that he should suffer the indignities of traveling like an eighteen-year-old again; it was his last minute, foolhardy decision that had landed him here.

What the hell were you thinking?

The thought had run like an endless loop through his exhausted mind for the past three hours. He knew the answer, of course: he hadn’t thought at all, he had just reacted. He’d done a lot of that lately.

A female flight attendant—blonde, attractive, and in her mid-thirties—stopped at his row with a stack of plastic cups and a pitcher of water. “Something to drink?” she offered, her voice a sensual undertone. No doubt she appreciated the lone, well-dressed man amidst the myriad of students wired to iPods, iPads, and other devices.

He had come to dismiss such attention; he had long engendered this kind of response from women. With his wavy auburn hair, strong jaw, and bright green eyes, he was, as his grandmother often reminded him, “Quite a catch.” Add to that a salary well into the six-figure range and his job as an equity partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, and Jason Greene was a man any mother would die to have her daughter bring home. Except that he hadn’t quite managed to keep the one woman he had fallen in love with happy.

“Yes—some water, please,” he replied, offering the flight attendant the same pleasant, reassuring smile that he had offered his clients for the past ten years. The same smile that he had offered Diane upon his return home to their high-rise apartment each night, having missed dinner yet again. The smile was far more effective with the flight attendant.

She handed him a cup of water. “Business or pleasure?” she asked, mistaking his politeness for something more like interest. (He wasn’t interested—he’d had enough of women to last him a lifetime, he reminded himself.)

“Neither,” he answered, foreclosing any further discussion. She responded with a slight chuckle, then moved on to the next row back.

He closed his eyes and pressed the button to recline his seat. It only moved about an inch. He looked around. He hadn’t noticed that his seat was right in front of an exit row. Figures, he thought with a snort and a shake of the head. Resigned to his fate, he grabbed the extra pillow off the empty seat next to his and pushed up the armrest to give himself more room. Pulling the slippery blue polyester blanket over himself, he shifted on an angle to tuck his long legs under the aisle seat in front of him. It was not comfortable, but it would do.

He looked out the window once more. It was dark now, and here, above the clouds, he could see stars. He closed his eyes and rearranged the pillows so that his head rested against the cool bulkhead. A few minutes later, he drifted off into an uneasy sleep with the drone of the engines in his ears.

Only a day before, he had been dressed in a charcoal-gray Armani suit with a yellow striped Brooks Brothers’ tie, looking out of a wall of windows at the thickening gray clouds over the city of Philadelphia. The forecast was for snow. Again.

“You want what?” Scott Reston, the managing partner of Halwell, Richardson & Dailey, leaned back in his chair and gaped at Jason as though he were an alien.

“I’m taking a leave of absence,” Jason repeated calmly. “Starting tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” The other man’s voice resonated with shock.

“Jason, I know you’re pissed that Diane—”

“I’ve worked my ass off for this firm, Scott,” he countered before the other man could complete his sentence, all the while maintaining his calm resolve. In spite of his control, his jaw tightened. “I’ve been pulling in enough billables to more than cover a few months off.”

“Months?” The word came in a half-strangled gasp. “You want months? Look, Jaz, if you need help, I can put the new kid—what’s his name, Sanderson?—on some of your cases.”

“It’s not about the caseload. I haven’t taken time off in years, except the trip with Diane to her sister’s wedding. I need….”

“Then take a few weeks,” Scott interrupted, hoping this settled the matter. “Go somewhere warm. You can use our apartment in Cancun, if you want. Maybe you can pick up some cute Mexican babe while you’re….”

“Two months, Scott,” Jason insisted as he lapsed into his commanding courtroom voice without a second thought. “The other partners won’t question it if you’re on board. Hell, if you want, I’ll take a smaller draw this year.” One of the paperweights on Scott’s desk vibrated with the resonant baritone.

“Hell, Jaz Man. It’s me, remember? The guy you pulled all-nighters with in law school? That lawyer shit won’t work here. And since when do you let a bitch like Diane….”

“Drop it,” Jason responded, his tone colder than the icicles that hung on the eaves outside of the building. “This wasn’t her fault.”

“The fuck! She cheated on you.”

“I said, drop it. Whatever she did, she had her reasons.”

Reason one: too many hours spent at the office. Reason two: too few hours spent at home. Both my fault.

“Jaz Man….” Scott groaned, leaning back in his chair with the same party-boy look that Jason remembered from law school.

“Jaz, you’re killing me. I’m up to my neck in depos in the Alvarez case, and TransAllied just sent me a class-action complaint in a race case out of Cleveland. You’re the only one licensed up there.”

“Nothing’ll happen in the next two months on the Cleveland case, and you know it,” he shot back. “I’ll remove it to federal court, and one of your new hires can start on a motion for summary judgment and getting documents together for discovery. And if the judge wants a local guy in on the scheduling conference, you can call my buddy Phil Lane up there to handle it. He owes me one.”

Scott’s frown deepened. “I can’t convince you that you’re a crazy asshole, can I, Jaz Man?”

“Unlikely,” he replied with a self-deprecating laugh. “You’ve had more than ten years to try.” He took a deep breath, allowing his shoulders to relax a bit and softening his expression. “Look, Scotty… I need this. It’ll only be for two months. I promise I’ll come back and make it up to you. Just two months.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Scott acknowledged after a pause. He exhaled, sounding a bit like a pipe releasing steam. “Fine. You got it. I’ll take the heat from the big guns. With all the money you’ve been pulling in for the past few years, they’ll squawk a little, but they’ll be more worried about losing you for good.”

“Thanks,” Jason answered, turning to leave.

“So, where’re you going? Backpacking in South America? Some desert island in the Caribbean?” Scott asked. “Buddhist retreat in Tibet?”

“Paris,” Jason responded, stopping at the door with his fingers curled around the handle.

“Paris in January?”

“Yeah.”

“Cold as hell, I hear.”

“Yeah. Something like that.”

The plane touched down at Charles de Gaulle Airport on time in a misting rain. Pulling his small suitcase behind him and heading for the line of taxis, Jason laughed to himself—it was considerably warmer here than in Philly. It had snowed in this part of France a few weeks before, but nothing remained of the drifts that had paralyzed the region.

A taxi pulled to the curb, and the driver got out, putting Jason’s bag in the trunk. “Á 146 rue d’Assas,” he told the driver in unaccented French.

“Oui, monsieur,” came the curt response.

He leaned forward, elbow on one knee, and watched the dull procession of warehouses that stretched between the airport and the city. It didn’t look all that much different than the outskirts of Philly except for the tiny cars and road signs in French announcing various autoroutes. It wasn’t until he saw the white stone basilica of Sacré-Coeur perched high atop Montmartre that he relaxed back into the seat.

It’s been too long.

The rain picked up as the taxi turned the corner onto rue d’Assas, affording a quick view of the grand fountain at the end of the Jardins du Luxembourg with its immense horses. The park looked gray, lifeless. He handed the driver a fifty euro bill, pulled up the door code on his smartphone, and entered it into the silver keypad, then walked into the tiled vestibule when the wooden door clicked open. Rummaging briefly in his pockets, he pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the door to the courtyard, his suitcase clattering across the uneven flagstones toward yet another doorway. Tiny vines of delicate yellow flowers climbed the side of the building in spite of the cold. In spring, the entire courtyard would be full of colorful blooms tended by the building’s various residents.

The second door opened without a key, and he walked a few more feet to an apartment door painted a bright shade of blue, almost turquoise. He tapped the automatic lights, illuminating the corridor, and plunged his key into the lock. The apartment was cold—colder even than outside. It had been unoccupied for months, and the frigid air from the courtyard leaked in through the ancient windows.

He left his suitcase by the front door and flipped a switch to light the entryway. A burst of color on the dining room table caught his eye as he turned up the thermostat. Rosie, he thought with a smile. She must have asked the building superintendent to set the flowers there for him.

The edges of his mouth turned up as he inhaled the sweet scent of the bouquet. Freesia and irises. There was an envelope propped against the vase, with a typewritten message inside:

Jason—
Looks like I’ll be in Milan until late March. Call me on my cell when you get in. I’ll take the TGV up for a weekend when you’re ready for visitors. I’ve had Rémy stock the fridge for a few days. The place is yours for as long as you need it.

Remember to relax!

Love you,
Rosalie


Three years older than he, Rosalie had purchased the Paris apartment years ago, having done quite well in her work as a fashion designer. Jason had stayed here once, more than ten years before, in between law school and his first job as an attorney.

She’s right—you need to relax. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? he thought as he showered a short time later. But he knew that this trip was about more than just needing time off to relax. He was running—running from everything that was wrong with his life: the long hours, the loving relationship that had slipped through his hands, the pain of betrayal, and the desire to do something with his life other than earn more money than he could ever find the time to spend. Toweling off a few minutes later, he clicked the remote on Rosalie’s sound system. Fifties jazz filled the apartment and, for the first time in weeks, he smiled.

For a half an hour he lay on the couch, just letting the music wash over him. At last, drawing inspiration from the music, he threw on a pair of jeans and a warm sweater, shoved his wallet and phone into his pocket, and grabbed his jacket and umbrella. With thoughts of a long walk, something to eat, and perhaps even listening to some live music later on, he was out the door minutes later, damp hair and all.


message 20: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Lily wrote: "Have you ever had writer's block and if so how did you get through it? I'm asking cause I've been suffering with it for the past few months. I seem to have made some headway, but I'm still strugg..."

I totally feel your pain! And yes, I've definitely been there, as well. Sometimes, for me, it happens after I've been writing a LOT. Maybe I just get tired or overloaded balancing writing, life and work - I'm not always sure what the trigger is. It's more likely to happen after I've just submitted something, though, and especially when I'm waiting for a contract from the publisher.

More than not, it just takes time off to get over it. So if I'm forcing myself to write something under my own personal deadline (which can be a trigger for writer's block for me!), I try to just step back and say, "Time to chill and do something else." Which, lol, usually means reading M/M rom or watching/reading yaoi. I know that the last time, I took about 10 days off from writing before I was able to come back to it. I've tried re-reading books I love, too (Marion Zimmer Bradley seems to be my "standby" author to reread), which seems to help. Also, talking to other authors helps me, too (shout out to the other DSP authors!). It helps to know I'm not the only one.

But you make a great point with your post - it doesn't seem to be that one day, you just wake up and the block is completely gone. It's a process and you work back into writing over a period of time. That sounds like what you're doing, as well!


message 21: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rebecca_cohen) | 90 comments Hi Shira!

Is there a story you're burning to write? And what are you working on at the moment?

Rebecca


message 22: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Rebecca wrote: "Hi Shira!

Is there a story you're burning to write? And what are you working on at the moment?

Rebecca"


Hey, Rebecca! I think the story I'm working on right now, "Aria," and the one I'm burning to write are the same, to be honest. Let me explain...

Some of you may know that I used to be a professional opera singer. I gave it up a bunch of years ago for a few reasons, mainly that my husband and I were starting a family and singing required a LOT of travel, and also because I was singing only about half the year, and the rest of the time I worked at a job I hated. It was a VERY difficult and painful decision, and one that still hurts to think about.

When I wrote "Blue Notes," I wrote a great deal of myself into one of the main characters, Jason, the American lawyer who used to play classical piano, but gave it up. Some of the scenes in that story were very hard for me to write, but they were also cathartic. XD Jason works through the pain of loss of his music with the help of Jules, the young violinist he falls in love with in Paris.

"Aria" takes one of the "Blue Notes" characters, Sam, and pairs him with Caydon, an opera singer. So for me, "Aria" represents the second half of my journey to "letting go" of the pain of giving up music. Cay represents the dream I had of being a constantly-employed professional singer. That said, it's not an easy life, and that's part of the story, as well. It's very exciting to perform, but it's also very difficult to travel all over the world and still have a strong, love relationship.


message 23: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Here is the next part of Chapter One of "Blue Notes:

“Oy! Henri!” the dark-haired young man shouted over the din of clattering dishes. “You said you’d get your drums set up before you started working.”

Henri, blond hair flopping into his eyes and up to his arms in soapsuds, shouted back, “You can do it for a change, you lazy ass! You want to get me fired, Jules? If I lose my job, you lose a place to sleep, remember?”

Jules Bardon scowled, walking over to the sinks and planting himself behind the lanky blond. “And whose fault is it that you’re so late getting to work? You spent the night with Pascal again, didn’t you?”

“Is that a problem?” Henri retorted without looking up from his task. “Maybe you’re just jealous. Since you dumped”—he paused for effect—“what’s his name…?”

“Philippe,” Jules supplied.

“Right. Since you dumped Philippe, you haven’t gotten any.”

“Philippe was a shit,” Jules countered, only half-joking.

“I’m sure I could convince Pascal to let you join us, if you’d like,” Henri added, smirking. A soap bubble rose from the sink and Jules flicked an angry finger by his friend’s face to pop it.

“Not interested,” said Jules. “But if you’re going to spend the whole night fucking, the least you could do is set an alarm. What the hell do I know about putting together a drum set?”

“You’ve watched me do it a hundred times,” the other young man shot back, laughing and plunking several plates down on the side of the sink. Tiny rivers of water ran from the counter down to the drain. More bubbles floated up toward the ceiling. The place reeked of grease, cigarette smoke, and soap.

“Maurice doesn’t let us play here very often,” Jules retorted, half tempted to throttle his roommate. “You have to take this seriously. You never know who might be listening.”

Henri turned and put a soapy hand on Jules’s shoulder, ignoring the look of irritation on the other man’s face.

“Dreamer,” he said. Then, biting his cheek, he added, “Fine. I’ll set up my drums if you finish the dishes.”

“You got gloves somewhere?”

“Gloves?” Henri held up his bare hands and smirked. His fingers were puckered and white.

“If I do the dishes, my calluses will…,” protested Jules.

“You’re a fucking prima donna, Jules,” Henri grumbled. He shrugged, turned back to the sink, and laughed again. “It’s all right. There are gloves on the shelf to your left.” He looked over his shoulder and winked.

Jules shook his head, reaching for the gloves. He snapped the rubber menacingly at Henri before giving him a shove in the direction of the night club’s stage, just beyond the kitchen.


The night sky had begun to clear as Jason left the small café where he had eaten dinner, and he wandered up toward Île de la Cité, hoping to catch a view of the Eiffel Tower. Crossing the Seine at ten o’clock, he watched as the tower was illuminated in a shower of sparkles. His sister had told him that the Parisians had so enjoyed the lighting for the Millennium that they had insisted the special effects continue for the foreseeable future. Leaning against the wall that ran along the river’s edge, Jason sat back and thought of nothing but the lights, ignoring the damp chill of the evening.

When the light show ended, he headed back down boulevard Saint-Michel in search of some of the jazz clubs that he had discovered in this area years ago, hidden amongst the tiny streets.

Why not?

He had nowhere to go, nobody waiting for him, no deadlines to meet. He could sleep later. A few drinks and some good music would help him sleep a lot better too. With a roguish grin he walked onward, cold hands shoved into his pockets.

Why the hell not?

He spotted a club as he turned the corner—a small, grayish-looking dive with a purple neon sign above the entrance, nestled between a boulangerie and a store that sold Japanese manga. Inhaling the fragrance of baking bread, he walked over to the club to peer inside. He couldn’t see anything, but the sounds of modern jazz wafted onto the street. He glanced up and read the sign: “Le Loup-Garou.” The Werewolf.

A fitting name for a hole like this, he thought with a chuckle. And just the kind of place where you’d expect to hear great music.


Jules glanced over at Henri and their pianist, David. David grinned and nodded, caressing the keys of the upright piano, his touch so delicate that Jules could hear the man breathe with each phrase. David complained that the instrument was out of tune and a “piece of shit,” but the sound he managed to coax from it was astonishingly sweet. Henri’s mellow brush strokes over the surface of the snare drum joined the soft piano, much like the sound of the rain on the city streets—understated, yet insistent. Sexy.

Jules gripped the neck of his violin, placing the instrument under his chin and against the rough patch of skin there, much like the mark of a lover. He drew his bow above the strings, allowing it to hover there for an instant before lightly catching the D string. The sound of the violin flickered like a candle flame blown by an unseen breeze, then grew and melded with the muted piano, sultry and inviting. Jules closed his eyes, letting the sound wash over him, responding to the slow, harmonic progression on the piano weaving the ghostly melody.


In a dim alcove only a dozen feet or so from the musicians, Jason sat nursing his drink, transported by the sound of the violin. It wasn’t jazz in the purest of forms—it was more of a hybrid, combining the traditional jazz rhythms of the fifties with a modern, yet classical approach. But whatever you might call the music, he found it transcendent. In between pieces, Jason glanced around the room to discover the group’s name, but found no mention of it anywhere.

The set ended, and the club erupted in applause. The musicians nodded, their manner casual, aloof, even a bit embarrassed. The violinist’s eyes met Jason’s and, for a brief instant, lingered there. Jason’s mouth parted slightly, his cheeks flushed. Breaking their eye contact to look down at his empty glass, he told himself that the heat in his cheeks was from alcohol and the lack of sleep. He motioned to the lone waiter for a refill.

When he turned back toward the stage, he found himself sitting face to face with the violinist.

“May I join you?” the violinist asked, a coy grin on his delicate lips. Jason figured that he might be nineteen, tops. As his companion brushed a stray lock of shoulder-length black hair from his eyes, Jason realized that he had one brown eye and one green. He was a waif of a kid, barely taller than Jason’s own sister. His face was uniquely French, from the slightly pronounced nose to the sharper edge of his jaw, and his body swam in a large pair of jeans that hung low on his hips, exposing blue plaid boxers. On top, he wore a body-hugging black T-shirt with the word, “Quoi?” splashed across the front in bright red.

“Be my guest,” Jason replied in French, still unsure of what to think about the boy. “Seems as though you’ve already invited yourself.”

“You’re French Canadian?” the newcomer inquired, grin widening.

“American,” came the gruff answer. Jason noted the homemade tattoo on the boy’s right forearm.

“Really? Your French is excellent,” the young man replied.

“Your music’s good,” Jason countered playfully. “What’s your trio called?”

“Dunno. We haven’t named it yet—we just don’t play that much. Wouldn’t have played tonight, except the group Maurice had booked canceled, and he couldn’t find a replacement. My roommate’s the dishwasher here.” He gestured at the drummer, who was watching them with interest from the edge of the small stage. “So, do you live in Paris?” he added after a moment’s pause.

“Visiting.”

The waiter deposited two drinks on the table and winked at the violinist.

“My name’s Jules,” the boy said. “Jules Bardon.”

“Jason Greene.”

“Enchanté.” Jules took Jason’s hand across the table. The gesture was far too friendly. Flirtatious. Jason pulled his hand away and raised an eyebrow. Jules was unfazed. “Here on business?

“No.”

“Pleasure, then?”

“No.”

Jules laughed—a soft, almost girlish laugh. “Do I make you uncomfortable?” he asked, his eyes fixed on Jason’s.

“No,” lied Jason, finding the boy’s gaze a bit too intense.

“I could make this a pleasure visit for you,” Jules said as he absentmindedly traced a long finger across his own lips.

“I don’t bat for that team,” Jason said, borrowing the American expression wholesale as his high school French failed him at last. It was not the first time that he had spoken the words, although it was the first time he had spoken them in French. They were also not entirely true; it was simply that the right opportunity had never presented itself.

The dark-haired young man looked at him for a moment, uncomprehending, then laughed again.

“What’s so funny?” Jason demanded, noting a hint of licorice on the air as his companion replaced his drink on the table.

“Oh,” he said, “I understand.” He laughed again. “Sorry. I’ve just never heard it put that way before. At first I thought you were asking me about baseball.” He took a swig of his drink and shrugged. “Too bad. You looked like you could use a good….”

“Jules!”

“I have to go,” Jules sighed, disappointed. “Time for the next set. It was nice to meet you, Jason.” He tripped over the name, and it came out sounding something like “Jah-sohn.” Jason chuckled in spite of himself, reminded of the various ways in which his name had been mangled by French speakers through the years.

Jules sucked down the rest of his drink in one swallow and stood up. “If you change your mind…,” he began, but the blond-haired drummer grabbed him by the arm and dragged him back toward the stage.

Not likely, kid, Jason thought, chuckling again. He had enough shit to deal with.


message 24: by Shelter (new)

Shelter Somerset (sheltersomerset) | 22 comments One more question, Shira.... I've always wanted to ask female writers of m/m romances--how does your husband feel about your chosen genre and does he ever read your novels/MS?


message 25: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Last part of Chapter One of "Blue Notes":

It was nearly two in the morning when Jason left the club—a full twenty-four hours since he had really slept well. The rain had begun to fall again, this time in torrents. In spite of the downpour, Jason decided against taking the Métro. He liked the rain; it helped clear his mind.

He headed down boulevard Saint-Germain toward boulevard Saint-Michel, past the darkened storefronts and the few cafés that were still open. He crossed a side street, glancing to his left to see the impressive Panthéon with its white stone surface still lit. In that moment, he realized that he had never taken the time to explore Paris as an adult—he had chosen instead to get wasted and hang out in clubs rather than do any serious sightseeing. No, most of his memories of the city were those from his childhood when his parents had dragged him and Rosalie around to all the museums and tourist destinations.

He reached the corner of Saint-Michel and waited for the light to turn. On the other side of Saint-Germain, he spotted a lone figure waiting at a bus stop. “Jules?” he called out as he stepped onto the other curb.

“Jason,” the boy replied, looking surprised but pleased nonetheless. Jason noticed that he was shouldering a neon-green violin case with a few peeling Rolling Stones stickers. He had no umbrella and no jacket, and was soaked to the skin, his dark hair plastered to his pale cheeks as he shivered. His lips were already slightly blue.

“I enjoyed the music,” was all Jason said. Damn, but the kid looks young. He reminded Jason of a street kid. How do you know he’s not?

“Thanks,” Jules mumbled as he wiped the rain from his cheeks.

“Missed your bus?”

“Yeah,” Jules answered. “There’s another in about an hour. They don’t run often this time of night.”

“You can spend the night at my apartment,” Jason heard himself offer. “I’ve got a place nearby.” He immediately regretted these words—what the hell was he doing, asking a kid who had been hitting on him just hours before to spend the night? But he was too tired to think straight, and the kid looked terrible. “In the guest bedroom,” he added quickly to clarify the sleeping arrangements.

Jules’s expression turned to one of astonishment. “I… I…,” he stammered. “Sure.” Then, “Hey, I thought you were visiting.”

“It’s a long story,” Jason replied, motioning Jules under his umbrella. “Maybe I’ll tell you sometime.”

“I’d like that, Jason.” Jules pushed the hair out of his face. Jason said nothing, but kept on walking. “Oh, and Jason?”

“Yes?”

“Thanks.”

“Yeah.”


message 26: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rebecca_cohen) | 90 comments Shira wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Hi Shira!

Is there a story you're burning to write? And what are you working on at the moment?

Rebecca"

Hey, Rebecca! I think the story I'm working on right now, "Aria," and the..."



Wow - really using your roots to write - I can definitely understand that!

So do you always have the next story geared up and ready to work on once you've finished a story?

Rebecca


message 27: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Shelter wrote: "One more question, Shira.... I've always wanted to ask female writers of m/m romances--how does your husband feel about your chosen genre and does he ever read your novels/MS?"

LOL! That's an interesting question. My husband actually listens to my stories (I read them for him), but I skip the sex scenes. He has no issues with the gay part of it - he's uncomfortable with the explicit sex! (That said, he hardly complains when I use him to "experiment," lol!). It's not that it's gay sex that bothers him, it's ANY explicit sex -he had the same issue with the one het romance I wrote.

He says it's because he grew up at a time when people (his parents, I'm guessing) didn't talk much about sex. Funny, how my parents (who read my stories, sex scenes and all and were very open about sex and sexuality with my and my sister) don't have those issues!

But my husband's a great "beta" for my stories and often points out plot issues I overlook and makes great suggestions (I owe much of how the climactic musical scene in "Blue Notes" came to be because of his suggestions - they were awesome!).


message 28: by Thea (new)

Thea Nishimori (theanishimori) | 19 comments I'm back! And I have more questions. ^_^

How many gay friends do you have (roughly)? And what sorts of inspiration have you gotten from them?


message 29: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Rebecca wrote: Wow - really using your roots to write - I can definitely understand that!

So do you always have the next story geared up and ready to work on once you've finished a story?
Rebecca


Not always right away, but I had a few stories that I had completed but which I hadn't had the guts to submit - I knew they needed reworking before I would be satisfied. "The Trust" was one of those stories - it was a cool plot, but it needed cleaning up and beta reading so that I was confident the story made sense (that's the spy thriller/mystery to be released late spring of 2012). So I worked on that after I got the contract for "Blue Notes."

Also, writing "Blue Notes" felt so "right" that I was compelled to write another in the series. I knew while I was writing it that I wanted to explore some of the characters - especially Sam Ryan, the lawyer who Jason meets towards the end of the book. I just liked his character so much that I wanted to write his story. That gave birth to "Aria" and the character of Caydon, the opera singer.

I honestly think my problem is that I have TOO many ideas bouncing around in my brain. As you can see in my post to Thea about all the stories I'm currently "writing," I tend to be a bit too scattered at times. Good thing I don't write serialized stuff like Dickens did - knowing I have to finish a story before I can present it to readers is great motivation to finish it!


message 30: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Ashling (andrewashling) Does anybody else in your family know you write m/m? Do they read it? What do they think (if they do)?


message 31: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Thea wrote: "I'm back! And I have more questions. ^_^

How many gay friends do you have (roughly)? And what sorts of inspiration have you gotten from them?"


Hey, Thea! Hmm... let me think. I knew a LOT of gay men when I was singing - there are a lot of gay opera singers now and back then, as well. I also knew a few musicians who died of AIDS back in the 1980's when I was just starting out and I heard of SO many others. It was a really horrible time for the industry and I still think about them from time to time, especially now with Rick Reed's new release, Caregiver.

These days, I have probably about a half-dozen gay friends, including other writers of the genre whom I have not "met" in person, but who help keep my gay characters "true." One of my oldest and dearest friends, Jim, who I met while I was at the conservatory while I was working on my Bachelors and later my Masters of Music, is probably my biggest source of inspiration. More than anything else, I wish I could "write him" a happily-ever-after. He is handsome, sharp as anything, talented beyond belief, and just an overall sweetheart of a guy who my kids and my husband adore! I was just up to visit him over July 4th, and he helped me with "Blue Notes," which I was editing for submission at the time. He's also willing to answer my questions about gay relationships, and he's given me more than a few stories (true ones!) that may make it into my books at some point.


message 32: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rebecca_cohen) | 90 comments Shira wrote: "Rebecca wrote: Wow - really using your roots to write - I can definitely understand that!

So do you always have the next story geared up and ready to work on once you've finished a story?
Rebecca ..."


Ah, the problem of a 'too full brain'! :)

How do you organize your writing? Do you flick between stories or concentrate on one until it's done? And how do you manage to fit it all in within day-to-day life?

Rebecca


message 33: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Andrew wrote: "Does anybody else in your family know you write m/m? Do they read it? What do they think (if they do)?"

Just about all of my family (parents, in-laws, my sibling and her family, brother and sister-in-law and nieces and nephews) know what I write. My mom just read The Dream of a Thousand Nights and said she enjoyed it (and that the sex was "very tastefully done")! My dad said that, although he isn't a fan of romance, he enjoyed it, as well. They are not your typical parents, I guess - they had very "out" gay friends when I was growing up and they were also very open about sex and sexuality with me and my sister. I feel pretty fortunate. I know a lot of other writers who can't share that part of themselves with their families...


message 34: by Thea (new)

Thea Nishimori (theanishimori) | 19 comments You mention how you used to be a professional musician. Are there any similarities to being a professional writer?


message 35: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Time to mix it up! So let me throw a question out to everyone who's following today: What is your guilty pleasure?

I've already admitted to an anime fixation (especially yaoi). It's your turn, now!


message 36: by Thea (new)

Thea Nishimori (theanishimori) | 19 comments Shira wrote: "Time to mix it up! So let me throw a question out to everyone who's following today: What is your guilty pleasure?

I've already admitted to an anime fixation (especially yaoi). It's your turn, ..."


Gay internet porn. What else?


message 37: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rebecca_cohen) | 90 comments Shira wrote: "Time to mix it up! So let me throw a question out to everyone who's following today: What is your guilty pleasure?

I've already admitted to an anime fixation (especially yaoi). It's your turn, ..."


The BBC series Merlin - or more accurately, Prince Arthur *g*


message 38: by Shira (last edited Oct 29, 2011 01:20PM) (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Thea wrote: "Gay internet porn. What else?"

I call that "research." *sloppy grin*


message 39: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Rebecca wrote: "The BBC series Merlin - or more accurately, Prince Arthur *g*

Never seen it, but I always loved the "Arthur" legend! I need to check it out!


message 40: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Thea wrote: "You mention how you used to be a professional musician. Are there any similarities to being a professional writer?"

Wow - great question! The answer is that yes, there are a lot of similarities between the two, at least for me. Singing is such a visceral part of who I was - my instrument was my body, connected to me all the time. When I played violin, that was different. One step removed. But every time I sang, I was putting myself out there in such a personal way.

It's much the same with writing - it's ME that I'm putting out there for better or worse, and it's often very personal. My thoughts, my perspective (my typos, lol!) - you get the idea.


message 41: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Simmons (Melanie_Simmons) | 8 comments Hi, Shira!

My guilty pleasure is just about what you'd imagine: drinking sake and writing. :D Although today has been half-lost to the second book of the Hunger Games. I finally read it and it's GREAT! :D


message 42: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Simmons (Melanie_Simmons) | 8 comments Ok, my first question (sorry so late to the table, btw): Wife, mom, lawyer, author. How DO you find the time to do it all?? I can never seem to find time to write, and I only have a hubby and a job considerably less demanding than yours.


message 43: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Ashling (andrewashling) Too many to list, but I'll admit to research and BBC shows "Have I Got News For You" and "Never Mind The Buzzcocks."


message 44: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Rebecca wrote: "How do you organize your writing? Do you flick between stories or concentrate on one until it's done? And how do you manage to fit it all in within day-to-day life?"

I tend to stick with one until I come up dry and need time to think about where to go next. Then, I'll go to something else for a little while and see if I can make progress on that one. For stories that are complete, but need reworking, that's even better, because I can tackle on section and then go back to the other story, without investing too much of my imagination in the reworking. Not sure if that makes sense....

As for how I fit it in - boy, that's a toughie! Basically, I write whenever I have a free minute. I rarely work overtime, so I'm usually home evenings. I also write on my lunch break sometimes. I almost never watch TV anymore, unless it's streaming the few animes that I still follow on my laptop. Sometimes my husband (and kids) will ask that I NOT bring my laptop to the boat, just so they have more time with me.

Also, when I edit or beta-read, I do it using the "TSP" (text to speech) function of my Kindle when I'm in the car (I have about a 30 minute commute each way to work). I often use Kindle TSP to edit my stories (I catch a lot of stuff by listening that I might not notice when I read). It's great for catching typos and repeated words in a short span of text.

But yeah, it's a challenge! XD


message 45: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Simmons (Melanie_Simmons) | 8 comments Shira wrote: "Thea wrote: "You mention how you used to be a professional musician. Are there any similarities to being a professional writer?"

Wow - great question! The answer is that yes, there are a lot of s..."


Shira wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "How do you organize your writing? Do you flick between stories or concentrate on one until it's done? And how do you manage to fit it all in within day-to-day life?"

I tend to stic..."


I do get the idea, all too well. It's good to find ways to channel yourself when it's what you were born to do, and it shows in your writing. :)


message 46: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments So I have two giveaways today - an electronic copy of The Dream of a Thousand Nights and a $25 Amazon gift certificate. Who's in? I'll draw a name for each tonight sometime after 6 p.m.


message 47: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Melanie wrote: "Ok, my first question (sorry so late to the table, btw): Wife, mom, lawyer, author. How DO you find the time to do it all?? I can never seem to find time to write, and I only have a hubby and a j..."

I juggle. And I have a very patient family! XD Fortunately, my kids are older teens now (my oldest turns 18 in a little over a week - yikes!), so they aren't as needy as they were. At least, most of the time! ;-) And since I work in the public sector, the pay is lousy, but I rarely travel or work overtime.


message 48: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Simmons (Melanie_Simmons) | 8 comments Shira wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "How do you organize your writing? Do you flick between stories or concentrate on one until it's done? And how do you manage to fit it all in within day-to-day life?"

I tend to stic..."


I love to hear how other writers write. Everyone has such different styles. One writer I know writes straight-out, exactly what he wants, the first time through. Rarely edits. It galls me. :P

It's interesting to hear your style, though. My question is, do you love how you write? Does the process fuel you, or frustrate you, flitting from story to story?


message 49: by Shira (new)

Shira Anthony (shiraanthony) | 87 comments Andrew wrote: "Too many to list, but I'll admit to research and BBC shows "Have I Got News For You" and "Never Mind The Buzzcocks.""

Hah! Although it's hard to see "research" as a guilty pleasure for a writer! ;-) Or should I ask what KIND of research you're referring to? *g*

BTW, I used to be totally addicted to British comedy (I used to watch reruns of "Are you being served?" "Keeping up appearances," "Benny Hill" and "Chef!").


message 50: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rebecca_cohen) | 90 comments Shira wrote: "So I have two giveaways today - an electronic copy of The Dream of a Thousand Nights and a $25 Amazon gift certificate. Who's in? I'll draw a name for each tonight sometime after ..."

I'm in ;)

But have to love you and leave you soon - it's getting late my side of the pond :)


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