Yes, I know it’s not quite autumn yet, but the first day back after the Labor Day weekend always seems like the beginning of a new season. Kids are back at school, summer vacations are now happy memories, and I’m looking forward. And what a busy fall this is going to be for me. It’s a little daunting!
I’m wrapping up the Stealing the Wind blog tour this week with a “Meet the Author Chat” on the Dreamspinner Press Facebook page. Those are always a blast – fast paced, lots of excerpts, giveaways, and discount codes for Dreamspinner books. I’ll be talking about Stealing the Wind, of course, but also about my upcoming Blue Notes Series releases and the next book in the Mermen of Ea Series, Into the Wind. You have until midnight, September 8th, to be entered to win one of several prizes Stealing the Wind Blog Tour prizes: a Stealing the Wind t-shirt, a Stealing the Wind ceramic mug, and an ebook of your choice of my Dreamspinner Press releases (not including Stealing the Wind). Want to enter? Just comment on this or any other post during the blog tour and you’re in!
So what’s on tap for fall of 2013? First off is GayRomLit 2013 in Atlanta, where I’ll be a featured author. GRL, for those of you who may not yet have heard, is a convention/retreat just for MM authors and readers. You’ll find all the big name authors there from all over the world, and you’ll meet new MM authors who are just starting out. There are lots of cool events where you can meet the authors, gobble up cool swag, and buy books (not to mention getting them autographed). Author readings, Q&As, and special evening events abound. I can’t wait! GRL runs from October 17-20th.
Next up? Bent-Con 2013 in Burbank, California. This will be a new con for me. Bent-Con is an LGBT version of the popular Comi-Con (or as their site says, “Comi-Con, only gayer!”). Comic books, anime, film, books, you name it! Dreamspinner Press will have a double table and a number of Dreamspinner and Harmony Ink authors are planning to attend. The con runs from November 8-10th.
Finally, book releases! Yes, I’ve got two more books releasing Fall/Winter 2013, including the next novel in the Blue Notes Series, Encore (Blue Notes 5), which I am so excited for you to read! Encore is the story of conductor John Fuchs and violin teacher Roger Nelson, whom you met in Prelude as Alex Bishop’s teacher and David Somers’s mentor. John and Roger’s story takes place over more than 40 years, from when they first meet in high school until the present day. You’ll get to revisit the pivotal scene in Prelude where Roger gives Alex his violin and Alex auditions for John (there’s much more going on in that scene that you realized!). You’ll see a young Cary Redding (cellist from The Melody Thief), and you’ll ride the roller-coaster ride of a modern day pair of star-crossed lovers.
Life in the 1970s wasn’t easy, especially for two young men coming to terms with their homosexuality. You’ll follow Roger and John’s friendship and their on-again, off-again, love affair through the 80s, 90s, and on. This book captures some of my own childhood, although John and Roger are a few years older than I am. Painters pants, V-8 engines, high school orchestra, and high school band parties with 3.2% alcohol beer and movies at a friend’s house. And of course, in spite of their challenges, there’s a very well-deserved HEA to top it all off. Look for Encore in October/November 2013.
Last, but not least, is Symphony in Blue (Blue Notes 4.5), a sequel novella to the first four Blue Notes books, due out in November/December 2013. Want to know if Cary and Antonio finally have a child together? How about what happens when Aiden and Sam try to tie the knot? Or would you like to know if Jason finally decides to take the plunge and perform again? You’ll find the answers to all those questions and more in this Thanksgiving-themed novella.
Coming in 2014? Several more Blue Notes Series books and the next Mermen of Ea Series novel, Into the Wind. Ian and Taren leave their idyllic life with the mainland Ea to search for the rune stone. You’ll meet a new character in Into the Wind, the mysterious pirate Odhran, who will play a pivotal role in Taren and Ian’s fight to save their Ea brethren. You’ll also hear more from the secondary characters in the first book: Bastian, Rider, Aine, Barra, Renda, and Fiall.
I’ll leave you all with an excerpt from the upcoming Encore. As with all the other Blue Notes Series novels, this one’s a standalone. Chronologically, it’s the first in the series. Don’t forget to comment on this post to win one of the Stealing the Wind giveaway prizes! I’ll be drawing winners after midnight this Sunday! -Shira
Excerpt: Encore (Blue Notes #5)
John ran a hand through his hair, forgetting he’d tied it back with an elastic. It had gotten so long now that it tended to flop in his face when he was bent over a score, studying it. He absentmindedly pulled the elastic out and re-secured the errant strands that had fallen into his eyes, then hummed a few measures of the piece. The sounds of cars honking and people talking outside his third-floor walk-up faded from his awareness as he imagined the sound of the french horns and trumpets playing a slow and steady chromatic scale.
The piece was good, an atonal modern piece for chamber orchestra written by one of his Juilliard classmates. The piece had taken first place in last year’s composition competition. John had been lucky to get the composer to agree for him to conduct it, luckier still that his teacher, Roberto Pirelli, had convinced the faculty to give him some rehearsal time with the school’s orchestra. It was one thing to do a good job conducting the classics. It was another to take a modern piece and show his fellow students what he was made of.
He’d been studying the damn thing every night for the past two weeks, and he still hadn’t quite figured it out. He’d have to meet with Serena after fall break and ask her some questions about the score. The modern repertoire never came easily to him—he needed far more time to master new music than the more melodic works. Still, he enjoyed the challenge of it, even if he didn’t enjoy the music as much.
The apartment’s buzzer nearly made him jump. He hadn’t been expecting anyone tonight. He wondered vaguely if his former roommate, Brian, had decided he needed a few more T-shirts over at his girlfriend’s place and had forgotten his key again. Brian had moved in with Rose at the beginning of the semester, leaving John with the single bedroom and the bed instead of the pull-out couch. John had been so happy to sleep on a mattress after two months on the lumpy sofa bed that he’d nearly kissed Brian when Brian had apologized for bailing on him. But not to worry, Brian reassured him, his parents would continue to pay his half of the rent on the place as long as he and John didn’t tell them about Brian’s arrangement with Rose.
John walked to the kitchen and buzzed the visitor in. He didn’t bother with the intercom—it had never worked, and Brian didn’t want to ask the super to fix it. Something about an illegal sublease and not wanting to lose the rent control if the building’s owner realized Brian’s sister no longer lived in the place. John didn’t worry—he doubted anyone would try to break into apartments in their crappy little building in the West Village. All the thieves were uptown where the rich people lived.
John grabbed a cigarette from the table by the front door and stuck it in his mouth, then reached for the lighter just as the doorbell rang. “Just a sec,” he said as he set the lighter down and began to work the line of dead bolts and locks on the steel door. He took a drag on his cigarette as he opened the door and exhaled smoke in the visitor’s face.
“Fucking hell.” Roger waved away the smoke. “Is this how you say hello in the big city?”
John was pretty sure he’d forgotten how to speak, since neither his lips nor his tongue seemed capable of movement.
“Surprised?” asked Roger as he flashed John a grin.
“I… ah… y-yes.” He was stuttering again. Only Roger could reduce him to a stuttering mess.
Roger’s grin grew wider—was that even possible?—as he walked into the apartment past John.
“R-Roger?” Brilliant. Four months apart and that’s all you can say?
“Not who you expected?” Roger stepped inside and kissed John, who barely managed to set the cigarette down on an ashtray as Roger pressed him up against the wall.
“I thought you couldn’t come until December,” John said after he caught his breath.
“Change of plans.” Roger bit his lower lip suggestively, then added, “Is that a problem?”
“Hell no!” John closed the door behind Roger and bolted the locks, then grabbed him and snaked his arms around his waist.
“You let your hair grow,” Roger said after the kiss broke. He pulled the elastic out and carded his fingers through John’s long hair. “I like it. Very New York.”
“Thanks.” Someone at school had told John long hair was trendy. He didn’t really care about trendy—he’d already decided he couldn’t afford regular haircuts at New York prices if it meant forgoing tickets to the Philharmonic. His scholarship covered most of his expenses, but the small stipend he received as a graduate assistant barely covered his rent, let alone the cost of food.
For the first time, John got a good look at Roger. Because of John’s summer job in Europe accompanying voice students at a program in Graz, Austria, it had been four months since they’d seen each other. Roger hadn’t changed much, although his hair was cut shorter than he’d worn it when they were in school together, and he’d traded in his jeans and T-shirt for chinos and a polo. He looked good.
“So how did you manage to come earlier? I thought you were starting at the petrochemical company in January. Not that I’m complaining, but….”
“I called and asked them if I could start sooner.” Roger sat down on the couch, and John followed. “One more week at my parents’ and I’d have killed my mother.”
“Worse.” He ran a hand through his hair and screwed up his face. “I think Miranda found out about us. I found her poking around in the closet where I hid the letters from you.”
“She went into your room?” He wasn’t all that surprised, but it still pissed him off to hear it. He was sure Miranda had known about them all along, although he’d hoped she stay out of their business.
“I knew it was a bad idea to move home after graduation.” Roger shook his head. “I should have listened to you and just stayed here until I started work. I just figured it’d be easier for us to move into our own place during your winter break.”
“Don’t worry about it.” John put an arm around Roger’s shoulders and offered him his most reassuring smile. “I’m just glad you’re here.”
Roger exhaled audibly. “I was kind of worried you’d be ticked off with me showing up without calling or anything.” He looked a little nervous. John could count on his hand the number of times he’d seen Roger nervous. Fewer still when he’d seen Roger so obviously insecure.
“I’m not ticked off.” John leaned in and brushed his lips against Roger’s. “I’ve missed you. I never thought I’d wish I was still driving between Ann Arbor and Toledo.” This time he kissed Roger, lingering longer to taste him. As he pulled away, he heard Roger’s stomach rumble. “When’s the last time you ate?” he asked.
Roger shrugged. “I grabbed something in Pennsylvania last night—some truck stop off the interstate. You got anything to eat?”
Of course he didn’t. He’d finished the two-day-old pizza for breakfast. Other than a few beers Brian had put in the fridge at the beginning of the semester, John had nothing. “Are you up for going out?” Going out was the last thing on John’s mind, but he figured there’d be plenty of time for sex after dinner. Roger was moving in with him, after all.
“Sure.” Roger’s stomach rumbled louder this time, and they both laughed. “As long as I can save a little room for you after.”
John rolled his eyes and kissed Roger again. “What am I going to do with you?”
Roger answered with a grin.
“You sure I’m dressed okay for this?” Roger asked as they exited the subway at Astor Place and headed down Eighth Street.
“You look great.” John meant it too.
“Thanks. So do you.”
John’s face warmed at the compliment. He’d hoped Roger would notice the new clothes he bought. It didn’t matter that he’d found them at a thrift store in the Village—he felt good in the slim black pants and black button-down shirt. Less like geeky John Fuchs and more like a sophisticated graduate student studying in Manhattan at a prestigious school.
“Good. I’m conducting the school orchestra next month. A modern piece one of the students composed. Bleep-blop music.”
“Atonal stuff. All over the place. It’s all the rage now. No sign of a melody anywhere.” He stuffed his hands in his pants pockets and said with a grin, “I hate it.”
Roger laughed. “But you’ll conduct it.”
“I’ll conduct anything. You know me.” John met Roger’s eyes before looking quickly away.
“You’ll do a great job with it.”
John pulled out a cigarette and lit it. He needed the nicotine to calm his jittery nerves. Alcohol would help too.
Roger shot him a disapproving look. “Bad habit.”
“A habit you share,” John pointed out as he took a long drag from the cigarette.
“I quit.” Roger grinned.
“Yeah.” The light changed and they waited for traffic.
“Shit.” John laughed. “Knock me over with a feather. I didn’t think you could give it up.”
Roger snorted. “Just cigarettes,” he said with an evil grin.