THIS WEEK LIFE PLAYLISTS FEATURES AUTHOR AND MUSIC LOVER JESSIE CALAHIN WHO CHOOSES HER FIVE MEMORABLE TRACKS

As Christmas festivities approaches, it is as wonderful to sit back with my coffee, stare out at the frosty morning and reflect on the music that has shaped my life. Indeed, my love of music influenced me to write two novels about characters who could sing, thus allowing me to live my dream through them.

Pearl’s A Singer was a favourite of my late Father, and I remember him listening to it in the evenings with a glass of something soothing. Elkie’s Brook’s haunting, ethereal voice inspired the character of Pearl in my debut novel, You Can’t Go It Alone’. In my work in progress, Loving You, I have explored the genesis of Pearl’s singing ambition in more detail as this was the request from readers.

Pearl’s A Singer, Elkie Brooks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxwBjfrwpPY

Music has been a part of my life from childhood.  Owing to my love of music, my parents bought me a record player when I was very young. The record player was huge and had a smoked glass top – it was my pride and joy. Having saved up my spending money, I bought ‘Super Trouper’ by Abba.  I danced and danced to the single and drove everyone completely mad, but the following Christmas my parents bought me some disco lights to accompany my music.   At this stage I imagined myself on stage with Abba as the fifth member of the group and designed costumes in my scrapbook. I savoured each word of music lyrics and my interest in words and storytelling started to blossom.

 

 

Super Trouper, Abba:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BshxCIjNEjY

 

 

My go to song when I want a lift or feel happy is Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’. The velvety tones of Louis Armstrong’s wonderful voice always uplift me.  The lyric ‘skies of blue’ and ‘bright blessed day’ capture the joy in life: this song reinforces the positivity in the simple things.

In the opening of my novel I wrote ‘As Sophie looked up to the sky, its vast blueness held endless possibilities.’  I had just been listening to this very track during a car journey to one of my favourite destinations.

Watching the YouTube version of the song makes me smile. Louis Armstrong expresses his joy in every single word – his voice is such a powerful instrument. If only, I could sing like that!  Fortunately, I can explore my signing dream through my characters.

What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWzrABouyeE

When my niece visited last summer, I played the Louis Armstrong track in the car, and she said is was good, but she preferred other happy songs.  As we whizzed around on the Waltzer, she heard Happy by Pharrell Williams.  We downloaded the track at home and danced to it for the rest of her stay.  I will always remember the remember the summer my niece came to stay when she was ten years old, and we found our happy song.

Happy Pharell Williams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM

On our wedding day my husband wanted to surprise me with his choice of song for our dance.  He chose Whitney Houston’s version of I Will Always Love You.  I still chuckle at the choice as it is a song about divorce, but he pointed out that he was more concerned about the message of the chorus.  We danced to the track and didn’t even hear the words.  On our tenth anniversary he aimed to make up for his choice of music when he used ‘Only You’ by the Flying Pickets as the background to a PowerPoint story of our life for an anniversary – perfect.  Obviously, I must select Whitney’s song for this one.

Whitney Houston, I will Always Love You:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JWTaaS7LdU

Biography

Jessie is a Yorkshire author living in Cardiff, Wales.  Wales and words have a special place in her heart. She loves to entertain and challenge readers with her contemporary fiction and wants everyone to meet the characters who’ve been hassling her for years.  Set in Wales, You Can’t Go It Alone is ‘a novel with a warm heart’ and is the first book in a family saga. Jessie is also the innovator of the popular Books in Handbag Blog.

Besides writing, Jessie adores walking, talking, cooking and procrastinating.  Walking helps her to sort out tangles in her narratives or articles.  She searches for happy endings, where possible, and needs great coffee, food and music to give her inspiration.

Jessie enjoys connecting with her readers and would be delighted to hear from you.  Indeed, the readers requested the prequel to You Can’t Go It Alone and she has just finished it.  The prequel is called Loving You (working title) and will be out next year

Visit Jessie’s website at http://www.JessieCahalin.com.

Contact her at: jessiecahalin@aol.co.uk

Connect with her at:

Facebook         https://www.facebook.com/people/Jessie-Cahalin/100016975596193?fref=nf

Facebook         https://www.facebook.com/JessieCahalinAuthor/

Twitter             @BooksInHandbag

Twitter            https://twitter.com/booksinhandbag

 

 ABOUT YOU CAN’T GO IT ALONE

Love, music and secrets are woven together in this poignant, heart-warming narrative.

Set in a Welsh village, the story explores the contrast in attitudes and opportunities between different generations of women. As the characters confront their secrets and fears, they discover truths about themselves and their relationships.

The reader is invited to laugh and cry, with the characters, and find joy in the simple things in life. Listen to the music and enjoy the food, as you peek inside the world of the inhabitants of Delfryn.

Let Sophie show you that no one can go it alone. Who knows, you may find some friends with big hearts…

Book links and contacts:

Amazon               relinks.me/B06XQ5RVD5

KOBO                    bit.ly/2IpSiLz

iBooks                   relinks.me/1438915954

Google Play        bit.ly/2RIatiP

Nook                     bit.ly/2C7LYa9

 

AN EXTRACT OF YOU CAN’T GO IT ALONE…

This is the stage at which Pearl decides to follow her dream to attend an audition and leads to a key secret in the novel.  The scene set in the seventies and the tension demonstrates Jim’s love for Pearl. Jim is a victim of the seventies and his upbringing and cannot express his feelings.  Would Pearl have listened if he had explained how he felt? Jim inhabits the masculine world of a car mechanic, in the seventies, and wrestles with his innate sensitivity.

November 1972

On the morning of the audition, Pearl’s slight frame filled the room as she crashed around the kitchen.  ‘You won’t drive me to the audition, so I am going on the bus,’ she hissed.  Her eyes shone with determination.

Jim did not glance up from his newspaper.  ‘Don’t be stupid,’ he mumbled.  The barren winter landscape always made Pearl want to flee, he hoped Pearl would change her mind. 

‘I mean it, Jim.  Don’t stop me going.’

Jim muttered, ‘I love your singing, but I don’t think these people are genuine.  Don’t go.  Let’s send demos to other record companies.’  Jim opened his paper again and took a sip of his tea.  He wanted Pearl to be happy, but he knew the audition was bad news.  If he even looked at her, she would persuade him to go.  He had to be strong to protect her from disappointment. 

Pearl snatched the newspaper from Jim.  ‘Jim, I’m trapped.  And I need to sing.  I need music.  Please come with me to the audition.  I can’t ignore an opportunity.’  Her voice faded. 

Jim stood up to collect his sandwiches from the kitchen counter and refused to make eye contact with Pearl.  ‘Why can’t you be content?  We’ve got a good life, the two of us.  You can sing anytime you want.’  He glanced at Pearl and swallowed a mouthful of the bacon sandwich which stuck in his throat.  After a cough he declared, ‘I’ll ask Maria if you can sing in the café again.  Let’s search out proper record companies,’ he soothed.  As Jim took his old leather working jacket from the back of the chair, engine oil filled the room. 

Pearl removed her pink overall.  Beneath the overall she wore a smart black dress, Pearl sighed.  ‘You don’t get it.  Just go to work.’  She turned her back as she placed the dirty dishes in the sink.

Jim wanted to kiss his wife, instead he opened the front door releasing a chill into the kitchen.  The cold wind pushed through the house and rattled the doors.  Heading down the path, Jim made his way to his workshop in the village.  He wanted Pearl to run after him, to persuade him to take her to Cardiff.  He ached to tell her how he loved her, but the words never came.  Pearl needed to escape through her singing.  Maybe, they should pack up and move to the sunshine, in Spain. 

Later that day, Jim and his apprentice, Bill, were outside having a tea break, when Pearl walked past the workshop to the bus stop.  Dressed in a tailored, red coat, Pearl strolled past.

‘Your Pearl’s a sight for sore eyes, Jim.  Is she off shopping in Cardiff?’

‘Yeah, something like that,’ said Bill

 Jim lit his cigarette. 

As he gestured to Pearl in the distance, Bill said, ‘You should’ve gone with her – I could’ve looked after the garage.  She looks disappointed.’

A cloud of cigarette smoke surrounded Jim as he shook his head.  ‘No, I’ll pick her up tonight.  We can’t let the car dealers down or we’ll lose the contract.’ Jim thought he would choke on his words, and he had to stop himself from running to Pearl. 

Journey’s End…

It’s always a relief to finish a manuscript. By the time I begin working on edits my mind is already well into sorting out the next story. Friday morning saw ‘The End’ become a reality as I e-mailed the final version off to my publisher.

I seem to have been working on this latest book forever. It’s not that I hit writer’s block or lost enthusiasm. It’s all been down to unexpected health problems. I’m hardly ever ill. Borrowing a phrase from one of my friends I haven’t got time to be ill. Over the last eighteen months, however, I seem to have experienced more than my fair share of health issues.

It started in Minorca on holiday in late May 2018 where we were staying with friends for birthday celebrations (mine). The night before the big day I received a text from Choc Lit offering me a contract for A Cornish Affair. As you can imagine this was the best birthday present ever and also an omen (or so I thought). It meant the coming year was going to be a good one. That lasted all of 24 hours. The next evening, before we left for the restaurant – before the cork on the pre-dinner bubbly had even popped – I stepped awkwardly off the bottom step of the villa’s staircase, twisted my ankle and broke it in three places. I’d just started to write a second book for my Cornish Coastal series and, of course, that came to a very sudden halt. Surgery, four weeks in plaster, two in an orthopaedic boot, physio and getting back to walking again took a big chunk out of the summer.  And when I did get a chance to sit in front of the computer (with my leg propped up on a cushion), I found it difficult to concentrate on anything. It was September before I felt ready to sit down and resume work on the project. The new year came, the word count grew and then in March I was called in for elective surgery (which had been postponed due to the ankle break). This wasn’t as intrusive as the ankle but, again, it took a couple of weeks before I could fully concentrate on my writing once more.

Then were the usual breaks and holidays in 2019 – Stratford on Avon, Suffolk, North Wales – and in between the writing continued. In September we had a week in Dartmouth. I had a sore throat for seven days and on our return this developed into a full blown bronchial virus making me wheeze like a heavy smoker. It took me three weeks to shake it off. I thought that was it. A mid-week break in Cornwall in October ended with another sore throat which quickly turned into a cold and yes…not wanting to be left out of all the fun…the dreaded virus joined the party!

Two weeks later, having managed to successfully get my twice cancelled flu shot, I’m hoping this is it as far as winter illnesses are concerned. I feel I’ve certainly had my share…and someone else’s too! But winter has only just begun so it’s a case of crossed fingers and a whole lot of hope.

So what’s next? Well I’m planning to take the weekend off, catch up with all the things I had to set to one side in order to get my writing finished – including social media. And then I’ve that new book to start…

It’s Publication Day for A Convenient Marriage by Jeevani Charika

 

It was the perfect marriage… until they fell in love.

 

Chaya is a young woman torn between her duty to family and her life in the UK. While her traditional Sri Lankan parents want her to settle down into marriage, what they don’t know is that Chaya has turned away the one true love of her life, Noah, terrified of their disapproval.

Gimhana is hiding his sexuality from his family. It’s easy enough to pretend he’s straight when he lives half a world away in the UK. But it’s getting harder and harder to turn down the potential brides his parents keep finding for him.

When Chaya and Gimhana meet, a marriage of convenience seems like the perfect solution to their problems. Together they have everything – friendship, stability and their parents’ approval. But when both Chaya and Gimhana find themselves falling in love outside of their marriage, they’re left with an impossible decision – risk everything they’ve built together, or finally follow their heart?

Buy link : Choose from your favourite book seller –

https://books2read.com/AConvenientMarriage

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07YXDHNMW]

 

 

 

 

 

Today Life Playlists welcomes writer and broadcaster Chris Penhall who is choosing five tracks which come with special memories for her…

I have music on constantly, and my tastes are pretty eclectic so choosing five tracks has been quite difficult. If I did it next week the list would be different, too, as what I’m listening to and what feels significant changes all the time! Thinking about my favourite songs has also given me the chance to play these one after another, and that’s put me in a fabulous mood. I’ve done a bit of dancing around the living room too…

1 Daydream Believer – The Monkees

I have loved this song forever and ever. I used to watch The Monkees TV show as a child when I lived in Harlow in Essex, and Davy Jones was my first crush (if you discount Scott from Thunderbirds – I was so young when I watched that I didn’t realise he/it was a puppet!)  Whenever I hear the introduction to Daydream Believer it lifts my heart. When I think about The House That Alice Built, I think of the title of this song – I never gave up my dreams of writing and being published, but I think Alice may have given up dreaming for a while. She just needed a bit of a nudge to remember how to do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvqeSJlgaNk

2 Do Anything You Wanna Do – Eddie and the Hot Rods

So, I’m 16 years old and dancing around my parent’s living room in Neath to this iconic anthem released in 1977. I still love it as much now as I did then. I think it sums up being young with the whole world in front of you, if only you can find it. I’ve discovered I know all the lyrics off by heart!  A couple of years ago I got to chat to the lead singer, the late Barrie Masters, as I was setting up some programmes about music for BBC Essex. I cannot tell you how chuffed I was, and how I was as excited as I would have been when I was a teenager, if a little more coherent, probably.

Here’s the live version

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ggk0p0b7BJE

 

Que Bueno baila usted – Oscar de Leon

I have been an enthusiastic social salsa dancer since about 2002. These days I just go to a club in London on Sundays called SOS which I have to say is one of my favourite places to be. I cut my teeth on creative writing in the mid-2000s when I wrote some pieces about my experiences of salsa and used to send them out to a small group of subscribers. I then got a website designed, where I wrote my Salsa Diaries – some of which are still on my new website. I also made three music-based radio documentaries about salsa for BBC Essex. So, you could say it’s been an important part of my life for many years. When I hear the music I just want to dance. In fact, I’ve been listening to this whilst writing, and have been wiggling around in my seat…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TFdhChyYCM

 

One Day Like This – Elbow

I think this song is absolutely gorgeous, from the way the strings build operatically and evocatively to the wonderful lyrics. And as for Guy Garvey’s voice – I have no words apart from – this is perfect. I remember it being released in 2008 when I was at the height of my salsa dancing craze and driving into an event in London with my friends in the back of the car with this blasting out. When I hear it, that’s where it takes me. Or I can feel myself opening the doors onto a wide terrace, with the warm tiles under my feet, and gazing at the sea glistening in the distance. If there is ever a film of The House That Alice Built, this should be in it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NFV8dHrZYM

 

At Last – Etta James

Oh, I love this so much – it’s so soulful, rich and gorgeous. I go to a café called Doce Tentacao in Lagos in Portugal when I’m staying there, and it plays jazz in the background. This is on frequently, and so when I hear it, I’m immediately sitting under a tree in a quiet little cobbled square, drinking a coffee or a glass of vinho verde, eating a pastel de nata, and reading a book. Once I turned the corner to go to the café and this totally co-incidentally began to play loudly as I did so. Imagine walking to your table to Etta James singing, “At last……!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-cbOl96RFM

About Chris Penhall

Chris Penhall is the winner of the Choc-Lit Search for a Star 2019 competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, with her debut novel, The House That Alice Built.

Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio as well as an Associate Producer of the Richard and Judy Book Club Podcast. She also works on an ad hoc basis doing PR and communications for a local hospice and compiles a charities news page for a local magazine.

Born in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it! She is now working on her second.
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.

You can find more information about her on http://www.chrispenhall.co.uk
or follow her on twitter: @ChrisPenhall
Instagram: christinepenhall
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChrisPenhallBroadcasterWriter

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