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Friday, May 10, 2013

Please welcome Shira Anthony!

Series-ly? Shira Anthony’s Take on Writing the Blue Notes Series
Thanks, Kim, for letting me take over your blog today! Even better, thanks for letting me share a bit about the fourth book in my Blue Notes Series of classical music themed gay romances, Prelude, just released by Dreamspinner Press on May 6th.  Prelude is Book 4 in the Blue Notes Series.  Each book is a standalone story and the series books can be read in any order.  Prelude is chronologically the first, even though it’s the fourth book in the series.

Which brings me, in a roundabout sort of way, to my topic du jour for today’s blog stop:  series.  I just came back from the Dreamspinner Press Author’s Workshop in Chicago last month, and one of the topics that came up was how series sell with readers (the answer is, “it depends”).  But it got me thinking about why I chose to write a series.

First, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Blue Notes Series, it’s what the publishing biz calls a “spinoff” series.  Standalone books that have some interrelated characters, but are not sequels and do not need to be read in any particular order.  The alternative?  Sequel type series (self-explanatory).  I’ve read both types of series and have loved them both.

I fully admit that when I wrote the original “Blue Notes” book, I had no intention of creating a series.  But then I had these two other characters in my head (David and Alex from “Prelude”, in an earlier incarnation) who I wrote into the story, and then this cool secondary character popped up at the end of the book (Sam Ryan from “Aria”), and I started to think: “I want to write about them, too.”  That was the genesis of the series.

The best part of writing a spinoff series like Blue Notes for me?  I can fall in love with a secondary character and write his story in a later book.  Not surprisingly, sometimes what I feel about a secondary character can totally change as I write.  Case in point:  Cameron, the cheating ex in “Aria.”  I hated him when I began to write him.  He breaks opera singer Aiden Lind’s heart and sends Aiden into a tailspin.  But somewhere along the way to a final draft of the book, I started to see Cam differently.  His backstory became clear to me and, bingo, I totally fell for him.  (I know, those of you who have read “Aria” may be shouting at your screen now!)  All I can tell you is, “Just wait and see.  There’s more to Cam than meets the eye.”

Another wonderful benefit of series writing?  Overlapping stories.   Take “Prelude,” for example.  There’s a flashback scene near the beginning of the book where Alex’s violin teacher, Roger Nelson, gives Alex a new violin.  The scene in “Prelude” is written from Alex’s point of view.  In the next book, “Encore,” the same scene appears toward the end of the book and now it’s from a different character’s perspective.  In “Encore,” the scene takes on an entirely new meaning.  I won’t spoil it, but suffice it to say it’s one of the pivotal scenes in “Encore.”  Perhaps the most pivotal.

I hope you join me as I explore my classical music universe and the characters who populate it.  Don’t forget, any of the Blue Notes books is a good entry into the series.  Read a blurb that interests you?  Start with that story.  Then as you read other books in the series, you’ll probably have a few “a-ha” moments, where you see these intersections of people and ideas.  I hope you’ll enjoy those moments as much as I did writing them! 

Want to read an excerpt from “Prelude”? Click on this link (my website) and scroll down to the excerpt tab.  -Shira

PS:  Want to win some Blue Notes swag?  I’ll be giving away winner’s choice of a paperback or ebook of one of the Blue Notes novels as well as a Blue Notes Series t-shirt (winner’s choice of cover) at the end of the Blue Notes blog tour.  To enter, comment on this post and the other blog posts to win!

Summary:  World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.

When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.

David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he'll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David's heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.

David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

NOTE: Each Blue Notes novel is a standalone story and books in the series can be read in any order.

Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books? You can find them all here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673  
In her last incarnation, Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 35’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel. 

Shira can be found on:
Twitter: @WriterShira


  1. I absolutely love this series! Great guest blog too. =}

  2. I adore stories involving music and performing arts, especially by authors who know what they write of, so thanks for bringing these to my attention! I'd heard a few things here and there. Definitely on top of my list now. And I love boats, and admire socially engaged legal eagles; wow, a 35' catamaran? So (affectionately) jealous!

    1. Hi Goesta! Glad you discovered the series. I'm a firm believer in "write what you know"! I hope you enjoy the books.

      Yes, we have a new (well new for us) 1993 Island Packet catamaran to replace our older and smaller 1984 Gemini cat. We love to spend weekends on the boat (I love to write on the boat). My husband just spent a week sailing to the Bahamas to get his captain certification for blue water (open ocean) sailing. I can't wait to sail to the Caribbean on our boat! -Shira

  3. You've been on different blogs lately but you always bring fresh thoughts and that's great. I've enjoyed all of them but what I think I like the best is your discussion of serials vs. stand alones.

    I'm reading Prelude now and for anyone who doesn't already have it, all I can say is read this book. It's wonderful!

    1. Thanks so much, Andrea! I'm so glad you're enjoying the book. *g* There's nothing quite like the joy of being able to grow with your characters, and nothing that allows you to do that as well as a series (spinoff or sequel). It really is a pleasure! -Shira

  4. I've not read any of the series yet, but since this is the 'start' it sounds like a good time to start. :)

    Best of luck with this book and the rest.


    1. Thanks so much, Andrew! I hope you enjoy Prelude - it was a joy to write. *hugs* -Shira

  5. I've always preferred series that are tied in thematically and/or deal with side characters in previous books, rather than following the same main characters throughout.


    1. The ones with the same characters are so much harder to write than the thematic "spinoff" types, at least in my experience. It's just hard to maintain tension with the same couple book after book.

      My merman/shifter series (need a series name for that one) is a bit of a hybrid. It's a sequel series, because the story continues, but as the books progress, new characters/pairings are introduced. So the story is overarching, but the focus of the romantic relationship will shift as the series goes on. XD -Shira

  6. I love when secondary characters grab you and become so full of life that they have to get their own stories. I think it's fantastic that you not only have great characters but that you were able to incorporate something you're so passionate about, because passion will always come through in the writing. Congrats!

    1. Thanks so much, Charlie! It is a whole lot of fun to explore those other characters. XD

  7. Count me in please, thank you :)


    1. You're welcome, Penumbra! I've got you entered in the drawings. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Thanks for the contest and the explanation about series which I now understand.

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