ATO- PJ Sharon

Hey Lovelies! Time for this week’s ATO! PJ Sharon has come a calling with her newest YA contemporary novel, Pieces of Love. Even cooler, PJ is going to be talking about music and how it relates to her book and writing! Award winning author AND she can compose music? Double WOW! Check her out ;P But lets start with a little about her book first! And, like always we’ve got giveaways! One person who comments, and leaves a valid email address will get to choose 1 of PJ’s many books (HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, SAVAGE CINDERELLA, PIECES OF LOVE, WANING MOON, or WESTERN DESERT ) AND will get a copy of Legendary!

Sixteen year-old Alexis Hartman wants nothing more than to smoke pot and play guitar. Getting high and escaping into her music seems the perfect solution when her world is shPJSharon_PiecesOfLove_800pxattered by her sister’s death. But when she’s arrested for possession a second time, life couldn’t get any more complicated. Her mother’s breakdown is the final straw that forces Lexi to spend the summer on the West Coast with her grandmother, Maddie. When Lexi steps over the line one too many times, she’s certain her life is over and that she’s destined for juvenile detention—until Maddie decides that desperate measures are called for. A three week Mediterranean cruise—for seniors.

Eighteen year-old Ethan Kaswell, the poster child for good sons, is stranded on the cruise when his father, a famous heart surgeon, is called away. With his own life perfectly mapped out, Ethan finds Lexi’s unpredictability irresistible. Although he’s smart enough to see that there is no future in falling for a “vacation crush,” Lexi’s edgy dark side draws him like an anchor to the bottom of the sea. As the two embark on the journey of a lifetime, will Lexi finally learn to love someone—even when she has to let them go?

Let the ATO officially begin!

Thanks for allowing me to hang out with your readers today, L.H. I’m happy to be here to chat about two of my favorite things…books and music! I’ve been an avid reader since I could string together a few words to make a sentence, and from my earliest memories I connected books with music. Remember all those nursery rhymes you learned as a child? Or the hymns you learned in church that maybe touched your soul in a way that helped you understand God in a new light? Without the tune, would you be able to recall the words? For me, the words don’t have the same meaning without the melody, nor would I likely be able to hear the message as well. You know what I mean. Don’t you have a playlist or theme song that comes into your head whenever you’re reading/writing a new book?

Music, like beautiful art, is visceral. Songs connect you intimately to the character/story, and every time you hear that song again, you immediately think of the book and your heart sings. It’s almost like the emotions evoked in the story connect with a particular emotion brought to life in a song, and together they strengthen the connection we feel to the characters.

I remember this being significantly meaningful when I was a teenager. A rock and roll, pop, folk, rap, emo soundtrack (take your pick), can get even the surliest teens through hormonal upheaval. Getting lost in my books and escaping into music helped me through some of the most difficult transitions ever! Books and music gave me a way to connect with the world in a safe way and make sense of life…to make me feel less alone.

So in writing Lexi’s story in PIECES of LOVE, a contemporary YA romance, I considered the ways in which she could express the pain of losing her sister to an alcohol overdose in college. I decided that since teens often turn to music as well as drugs to escape into themselves, I needed to write a song for Lexi, who is a gifted guitarist and singer who is too afraid to pursue her dreams for fear of leaving behind the memory of her sister. She’s been using pot to escape dealing with her grief and it is leading her down a slippery slope.

No, I’ve never written music before, but I loved writing poetry as a teenager and I did plenty of my own escaping into drugs and alcohol. Getting in touch with that part of me again was a beautiful thing. Painful, but beautiful. The best part is that a songwriter was born. I have a decent voice—thanks to four years of voice lessons with the fabulous Myrna Reynolds, but I don’t read music and haven’t a clue about music theory. Despite these limitations, the song, PIECES of LOVE was written on a half hour lunch break!

It immediately came to me that the words needed to be put to music. Taking a step in faith, I played with notes and tunes in my head until I could string them together to fit the words. It’s difficult to explain where it comes from—just like fiction writing or any kind of art—but I will say that it doesn’t happen unless you are willing to try something new—like learning to read as a child. Stepping out of your comfort zone, thinking outside the box…it’s what creative people do. A step in faith and believing you can do it. That’s what it takes to become whatever you want to be. That was the message I wanted to share with Lexi and with teen readers (a message that many of us adults need to hear as well). I immediately downloaded a recording app onto my phone and recorded the song so I wouldn’t forget it. With the help of a few musician friends, I was able to create a rather sweet theme song for the book and use it in the book trailer.

The song is available in its entirety on i-Tunes.

 

I’m obviously not alone in making the connection between books, music and teens. There are a slew of YA books out there these days that do just that. Goodreads has a list of over 270 of them! https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/2142.YA_Music_Books

From Tawny Stokes, STATIC, to Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s, NICK and NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST, music is now at the heart of much of teen fiction. BEIGE author, Cecil Castellucci, in this interview with the Los Angeles Times, names eight such novels, all with a rock and roll theme. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2009/08/cecil-castellucci-picks-young-adult-books-that-rock.html

Jody Piccoult has gone as far as to offer an entire CD along with her novel SING YOU HOME. With audiobooks also gaining momentum for busy readers, I suspect there will be many more artists spreading their wings and writing/recording music into their teen stories. After all, isn’t that the best part of what we do? Create indelible connections between readers and our characters, offer inspiration, and provide that safe haven where escape can lead to our very salvation.

PJ Sharon is the award winning author of contemporary young adult novels, including PIECES of LOVE, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, winner of the 2013 HOLT Medallion Award and the 2013 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. She is excitedly working on 2013 RWA conference picThe Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, a YA Dystopian trilogy. WANING MOON, Book One in the trilogy, was a finalist in both the 2013 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence, and a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit recipient. Book Two, Western Desert released in June of 2013 and was a finalist in both the Winter Rose contest and Write Touch Readers contest. Watch for Book Three in the fall of 2014.

Writing young adult fiction since 2007 and following her destiny to write romantic and hopeful stories for teens, PJ is a member of Romance Writers of America, CTRWA, and YARWA. She is mother to two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA. 

Follow PJ on Twitter:@pjsharon      http://www.twitter.com/pjsharon

“Like” PJ on Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/pjsharonbooks

Well there you have it lovelies! Such a cool, fun and unique ATO today! Much thanks to PJ for taking over and putting up a great prize! You’ve got until Aug 16th to leave a comment here or on PJ’s pages to be entered. AND DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A VALID EMAIL!

Late lovelies!

<3 always LH

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8 Comments  to  ATO- PJ Sharon

  1. Thank you to everyone for your great comments!

  2. Music is such an important way of expressing ourselves. To answer your question about playlists, my upcoming YA novel, “Narvla’s Celtic New Year” grew out of listening to some of my favorite romantic songs and includes a singer who uses his guitar and song lyrics as his primary means of expression. Thanks for sharing the way music touches you.

  3. Beautiful post, PJ. Yes, music got me through my teen years as well. It’s still important to me. The book and song, sound great!!!

  4. Great post, PJ! My books are definitely intertwined with musical inspiration. I have a long playlist for my first book, The Ghost Chronicles, on my website. For my second book, one song in particular inspired and drove me forward with the story – Brave, by Sara Bareilles. I even blogged about how the song influenced the characters and the story.

    • PJ Sharon says:

      I love Sara Bareilles, and Brave was also the inspiration for one of my stories! Amazing lyrics and perfect for a strong female heroine. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. PJ Sharon says:

    Thanks for letting me take over today, LH. This was a post near and dear to my heart. I hope your readers enjoyed it. Do you have a playlist for any of your books? And here’s a question for your readers. Have you thought about what a theme song might be for a book you’ve read recently? Connected a certain song to a character?