Music, Science, & Romance

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The music of love. The love of music. Nothing gets you swooning like hearing a favorite song on the radio, or while sitting in a restaurant—or anywhere—during a moment with someone special. Is this just imaginary romanticism talking? Science says no.

In my endeavor to come up with a subtitle for my third series (yes, third one this year), I’ve been doing searches studying the connections between music, science, and romance. I was spurred on by a line from one of the reviews from the first title, The Phoenix Syndrome, that described it as “a captivating story of science, music, intimacy, and love.” (Thank you, Nikki T., for your enlightening, five-star review) The reviewer also suggested, as I had been urged by multiple other sources, that there should be a sequel.

Well, there will be. But first I need to explore—and capture—the apparent “magic” I created (unwittingly) by combining three seemingly unrelated entities: music, science, and romance.

So, I went surfing. I came across a 2012 article on CNN.com by Dorrine Mendoza that blew me away. She describes a Spotify survey that concluded music may be as sexually arousing as touch. Mendoza states, “Respondents said music playing in the background is 40% more likely to turn them on than the touch or feel of their partner.”

The study’s author, music psychologist Daniel Mullensiefen, determined the top two songs winning this esteemed designation were the theme from Dirty Dancing, Time of My Life, and Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing. Mullensiefen states that “music activates the same pleasure centers of the brain that respond to rewards such as food, drugs or sex.”

Hmm. I guess there is something to this after all.

Of course, I’ve always known music as a strong emotional trigger. I’m that annoying person who turns up the radio when a favorite song comes on and belts it out at the top of my lungs—no matter who’s in the car. I have music around me all the time—all the time—thanks to Pandora and to my car’s Sirius radio. When I write, I adjust the music to the tone of the scene I am writing. I actually grew up in a musically inclined family, as all three of my brothers were involved in numerous bands in their younger years.

How many people can say they know every, single, lyric to every, single, Beatles song ever recorded? That would be me.

I’ve been calling The Phoenix Syndrome a “rockstar romance” because the hero is a drummer in a heavy metal band. But it’s more than that. The heroine is involved in scientific research, and becomes an unlucky casualty of side effects from a drug her lab is testing. She and my drummer boy fall in love. So, there it is: music, science, and romance. I believe there’s even more to the magic of the connection than that.

Drummer on a gig

When I wrote the part just prior to the actual meeting of hero and heroine, I got so swept up in its emotional intensity that I went into a sort of writer’s trance. I finished writing the scene in tears. It describes the hero, during a cancer benefit concert in memory of his late ex-wife, telling the entire story of their journey—with nothing more than drums. And I believe this scene may well have set the stage in my book for connecting at least two of the three elements: music and love. Here’s an excerpt:

Tristan commenced a drum solo like none I’d ever imagined. I remained transfixed in an emotional coma throughout the entire ten minutes, my eyes riveted to this amazing man. A man whose passion spoke to a deeper, secret part of me I thought had dried up and died long ago. In a language of rhythm only a musician could fully understand, Tristan told the beautiful, sad story of his brief time with a woman he loved from the depths of his soul.
At first, the soft pattering of sticks on snare and toms and triangle expressed a playful, bright beginning. Gradually, cymbals and bass drum added substance, growing into a symphony of pure percussion. When he attacked the crash symbols, it was clear this crescendo symbolized the blinding, glorious blossoming of their love. But the heady high didn’t last nearly long enough.
Darker tones crept in, a rumble starting low from dual bass drums, quickly strengthening until they shook the air, reaching deep into my chest with palpable vibration. Ominous, foreboding. The cancer—Serpent C—had made its insidious presence known. A shiver ran between my shoulder blades, and fresh tears stung my eyes. How can this man tell a passionate love story with no notes, no melody, no lyrics? Yet he was, and the tale unfolded as vividly as if I were witnessing it on a screen.
In an unbounded crusade of drums and cymbals, Tristan expressed how they had waged the battle, together. Two hands, two feet, working together in perfect synchrony. But the beat maintained by one hand gradually faltered, fading, even as the other struggled to carry the rhythm for both. We all knew how this was to end. She was losing.
Finally, with stuttered, rapidly weakening pulses, one stick shuddered briefly on the snare before lying, lifeless, across the surface.
For a moment of shocked silence, the rhythm died.
But a single heartbeat played on, softly at first, then growing stronger. One bass drum thudded, steady, hypnotic, but tragically, alone.
It was then I realized the story had reached beyond my musician’s heart. Everyone around me felt the passion in this solo.

~~~

Is there a connection between music, science, and romance? I believe so. And I have faith in the magic of this connection to guide me toward writing the next musically-themed romance with a scientific twist. After all, the root word for music is “muse,” is it not?

I’m on the hunt for a fitting subtitle for a series featuring the magical connection between these three elements.

Suggestions are welcome.

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You can read more about The Phoenix Syndrome on Amazon, and view the book trailer on YouTube.

~~~

Claire Gem writes intensely emotional, contemporary romance about “strong women, starting over ~ redefining romance.” Visit her at her Website or Amazon Author Page.

 

 

 

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Wallowing in Limbo…with Serpent C

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As I write these words, I am paralyzed, creatively speaking, because of my situation. What do you do when your life comes to an unexpected, screeching halt? When you can’t plan ahead any further than November 11th at 3:40 p.m.? What do you do when you can’t do the only thing that makes you feel better? To create?

You talk to—or write for—the people who love you, or at least, like you . . .even a little. Enough to follow you on Facebook, or on your blog, anyway.

Hopefully, by the time I post this, the crisis will be over. The waiting is the worst part.

On October 31st (yes, on Halloween, my favorite holiday), I was enjoying a magical luncheon with my daughter, who lives six states away from me. I was visiting her and my grandson for Halloween—what has become an annual tradition. This lunch was extra special, though. Lil Guy was in school, and Susie and I were seated at a patio table at The Muse Restaurant, at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL. One of my favorite places in the whole world.

A mother-daughter day. Susie and I had just come from a shopping spree at the outlet mall, and up until that point, the day could not have been more perfect. And again, an annual tradition—my mother and I took Susie to the Ringling for the very first time in 1983, when she was only 3 1/2 years old. And I’ve visited there, either with my late mom, alone, or with my daughter and grandson, every year, for the past thirty-three years.

The weather was gorgeous, the view of the lagoon beyond the patio, lush and tropical. We laughed watching a turtle frantically trying to dig himself into the mud at the perimeter, while a giant Koi irritated the hell out of him. We sipped our glasses of wine, took the first bites of our delicious Mahi tuna appetizer, and then . . .my phone rang.koi

It was my gastroenterologist, a wonderful doc who’d performed some routine, screening procedures on me a few weeks before. All was well, he’d told me that day when he handed me the report, complete with pictures, in the recovery room. He’d taken some biopsies of my moderate gastritis.

This day, his tone, on the other end of the line, was somber.

“The results of your biopsy, Mrs. Brown, I’m sorry to say, were quite a surprise. I truly wasn’t expecting this diagnosis.” He cleared his throat. “I’m afraid you have cancer.”

The world stopped turning. I stopped breathing. And Susie, knowing by what she was hearing from my side of the conversation, was busily donning her armor.

Since then, I’ve been told, by a number of physicians, that if I had to get “the Serpent C,” I’d gotten the “best kind.” Leave it to me. I’m such an over-achiever. Even with cancer, I’ve got to achieve the best.

It’s lymphoma, of a type they’re telling me is a treatable, manageable disease. One that I “might die with, but not from.”

“Yeah,” I told my GI doc, “I’ll die with it alright. Especially if I decide to step out in front of a bus.”

His response? “Then don’t do it until you turn 90.”

Now, the hard part: how far has it spread? Is it contained to my stomach, or are there lymph nodes involved? My liver? Spleen? Lungs? Brain? Bone marrow?

I underwent a PET scan on November 11, a day before my 59th birthday. It is now November 16, and I have exactly two hours and thirteen minutes before I meet with the oncologist to find out. To discover whether I’m facing a simple, expedited treatment with some pills, or if I’m destined for a long, arduous course of chemotherapy.

For my husband, my children, my coworkers, and the rest of my loved ones and friends, I hope the news is good. Because as strong as I’d like to think I am, I don’t know how strong I will remain once I’m sick all the time and my hair falls out. As the future becomes as elusive as the next sentence beyond the writer’s block. As I sink into mental, and spiritual, despair.

This can’t be happening. I know I’m being selfish. I know—I have lived a charmed life up to this point, yes, but damn it—I’ve gotten used to it. Besides, I have too much yet to do. Too many moments with my husband (with whom, incidentally, I celebrate our 38th anniversary on November 18th). With my children. With my grandson.

Too many more damned books to write.

And although I’m not afraid of dying, I am afraid of the long, rocky road to that end.away-1040726_1280

Stepping out in front of a bus is looking better and better.

I promise, before I post this, I will know. And then I will either be asking for your prayers and support through this difficult time of my life. . .or whooping it up in celebration. In the meantime, I promise—I’ll stay away from public bus routes.

~~~

Four hours later. . .

 Join me in praising God for good news. My PET scan was clear, and now it’s just a matter of “watchful waiting” with periodic scans & endoscopies to make sure we’ve beaten Serpent C into submission.

Apparently, the doctors were right. This type of lymphoma is easily controlled, and can even sometimes be eliminated. With pills.

My husband promised me that if I got good news, I would be granted a “rerun.” Another day at The Muse Restaurant in Sarasota with my daughter. Another occasion to over-ride and wipe out the bitter taste that dreadful day left in our mouths for our annual tradition.

The ticket is booked. I leave a week from Tuesday for just a brief, two-day stay. Susie and I will again go to the Ringling and ask for a patio table with a view of the lagoon. Hopefully, the weather will be lovely. Perhaps that tormented turtle will still be there, digging his way into the mud to escape the harassment of the pesky Koi. Maybe the wine will be sweeter this time, the Mahi Tuna even more decadent.

Not maybe. It. Will. Be. Thank God.

Oh, and a side note to all public bus drivers who may have read my threat to jump out in front of their vehicles? Drive easy. There will be no crazy lady jumping out in front of you anytime soon.moss-541220_1280

~~~

Claire Gem writes, and will continue to write, about strong women, starting over. Visit her at www.clairegem.com.

Fall Into Romance

Welcome to the Romance Your Autumn Nights
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I never realized how much I missed autumn until I’d moved away from the Northeast, and ended up living in the southern United States for almost twenty-five years. But nine years ago we came back, and in November. I’ll never forget that drive to New England over the Blue Ridge Mountains—peak season for color that year. It was amazingly breathtaking.

georgia-305935_1280The scenery brought tears to my eyes. No, it wasn’t just the scenery. It was the move—a momentous move back to the North, and a new job in a different sector of my profession. I was exhilarated, and unsettled, and scared half to death. But as the fall leaves transformed the world around me into a riot of color and magical light, I felt myself transforming too. It was a move I’ll never regret. It was like coming home.

So today, on this eighteenth of November, 2016, I celebrate all the blessings I’ve been lucky enough to receive. A new facet in the diamond of my career, a new place in New England I now call home, and thirty-eight years of marriage to my very own handsome, happy-ever-after hero, who earned that title, and continues to earn it, on November 18th, 1978.

clark-franRomantic Autumn Nights! They began for me on this day all those years ago. I write about them, and will continue to, because I do believe in the dream of happy-ever-after. I live it.

Please join our FaceBook Party for more chances to win!

https://www.facebook.com/events/314701298907182/

 ~~~

Claire Gem writes about strong women, starting over, redefining romance. Her books, in the genres of contemporary & paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction are available HERE.

A Brand New Haunted Voices Novel!

Celebrating #MFRWHooks today! I’m busy putting the finishing touches on my next Haunted Voices novel, Spirits of the Heart. I don’t have a cover image yet, but I’ll post a pic or two from the trailer, which you can view HERE.

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Spirits of the Heart

Blurb:

Laura Horton returns to her hometown to start her career with the Alcohol Crisis Center. But her homecoming is jarring—her roommate just moved out, leaving Laura to share a house with the intimidating ex-boyfriend. The one with a bad temper when he drinks too much. And all of Laura’s friends from high school have long since moved on with their lives.talcotthall-kickstarter

Miller Stanford is the nighttime security officer for the state grounds, which still houses the Crisis Center. A man with a shattered past, Miller can never forgive his alcoholic father for destroying their family, a weakness Miller is terrified will consume him too. The last thing he needs is an addiction counselor—a sexy blonde one, to move in and start watching his every move. When he begins to see specters in the dark, he starts questioning his own stability.

But Laura sees them too—Greta, a little girl who wanders the grounds, searching for her father. And when Laura starts digging into the past of the old asylum, she uncovers horrors the state doesn’t want to come to light. Can Laura and Miller unravel the mysteries of Talcott Hall without jeopardizing their love—and lives—in the process?blonde little girl looking shy

A #MFRWHooks teaser to grab you:

Laura didn’t have time to suppress the involuntary gasp that escaped from her open mouth.

The man was huge, not only tall but massive, with a broad, muscular chest, one lightly furred with golden hair.  His bulbous biceps were cut, sculpted like a Greek statue. And he wasn’t wearing much more than Michelango’s David, with only a steel grey towel snugged around narrow hips to match the steely glint in his blue-grey eyes.

With a target release date of Jan. 9th, 2017, there is no buy link yet. But to help get this book out to my anxious fans sooner, I’m running a Kickstarter Campaign where you can earn ebooks or paperbacks by supporting Spirits of the Heart.

Visit the Kickstarter Campaign HERE.

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New Release Celebration!

 

Great news! Bambi Lynn has released a new book in her Gods of the Highlands saga. She has taken her Celtic gods into the new millennium with the latest installment, Solid as a Rock.solid-as-a-rock-ecover-200-x-300

Blurb:

Ellie Kramer’s life has never been easy—raised by a mother who went from one abusive relationship to the next. Her only love and stability came from her grandmother. But now Ellie’s mother is dead and her gran’s in a coma, both from causes doctors can’t explain … and Ellie may be next. Her only hope of staying alive? The boy she once left without a word of goodbye, now a man—a devastatingly attractive man with a stony composure she can’t read.

Michael Munro turned his back on the past to make a new life. He’s not happy at being pulled again into Ellie’s sphere. She’s still impossible to resist, but now she’s in deep trouble, and the cause may be a fragment of rock she found in her mother’s effects. An artifact that saps his powers of precognition, and even those of other paranormals like his uncle and mentor, Lucan. Can Michael stand strong against her pull and that of the ancient stone?

A powerful evil is on the trail of their find—the demon Cael. Can Michael and Ellie resist the attraction burning between them long enough to find the missing piece of the artifact and get it to safety? If they don’t, all hell will break loose … literally.

Don’t miss this exciting installment in the saga of Gods of the Highlands—get your copy of Solid as a Rock today!

And now, to whet your appetite for this exciting new release, is a snippet from Solid as a Rock

Excerpt:

“Welcome to Betty Bombers. You’re late. Again.” Morgan handed Ellie a tray of dirty dishes and pulled several wisps of hair from the ponytail Ellie had just tied it into. “Take these back and pretend like you’ve been here the whole time. Maybe Joe won’t notice.”

Fat chance. “Thanks, girl.” Ellie took the tray and lifted it overhead as she maneuvered through the tables. If she was lucky, she could dump the dishes and start taking orders before her boss even realized she was there.

She rounded the corner and her gaze crashed into that of Michael Munro. Gold eyes stared back at her, intense and unsettling. He sat alone at a two-top casually eating his eggs and grits. He seemed just as shocked to see her as she was him.

Before she could mask her surprise, Ellie slipped and went down hard in a crash of broken dishes and pinging silverware. While several smartasses nearby applauded, Michael jumped to his feet and rushed to her aid.

Ellie stared up at him. He was still as gorgeous as she remembered. And bigger. From her position on the floor, he looked to be about seven feet tall with shoulders as wide as a barn. She took a deep breath and swallowed hard.

Things were going from bad to worse.

She ignored his offer to help her to her feet and got up on her own. “What are you doing here?” She began collecting the scattered utensils and shards of broken dishes and tried not to look at him. He still made her jumpy and tingly, but far more than when she was fifteen. He had been a gangly teen back then, awkward and lanky. Now that she was on her feet, he still seemed to be about seven feet tall, but more like six and half, she guessed.

Michael stood back and smirked down at her. “I wondered the same thing about you.”

His voice, rich and silky, washed over her. It couldn’t be good, the way he made her feel. All warm and wet. Achy. Needy. “Working,” she snapped. Why was she angry at him? She had been the one to leave. Mama had called, and Ellie had jumped at her offer to live with her in Atlanta. She had been on the first Greyhound out of Savannah the next morning, 5:20 am. She’d not had time to say goodbye. What if Mama changed her mind?

What if seeing him one last time made Ellie change her mind?

She couldn’t take that chance. Michael Munro was bad news, an outcast, a loser who was going nowhere fast and threatening to drag her along. So in the end, she had said nothing. Just disappeared like fog on a sunny day.

Buy Links: http://bambilynn.net/bambis_books/solid_as_a_rock

You can find out more about Bambi and her work here:

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