Today, please join me in welcoming my friend, Betty Bolté, back to Preternatura. Betty is dropping by today to talk about singing as it relates to her mood. Betty’s most recent release is Traces. Traces was published April 26 by Liquid Silver Books and is the first book in her Ghosts of Roseville series.
Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories featuring strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. In addition to her romantic fiction, she’s the author of several nonfiction books and earned a masters in English in 2008. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the Authors Guild. You can learn more about Betty by visiting her website. on facebook and by following her on twitter.
ABOUT TRACES: Meredith Reed, a forty-year-old architect turned demolition expert, desperately searches for the means to bury her grief. When she inherits her family’s historic plantation home in Tennessee, she decides to start anew by razing the antebellum house and replacing it with a memorial garden. A plan met with outrage from her family and her grandmother’s estate lawyer. James Maximillian “Max” Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s been promised a promotion once his proposed legislation to protect all of the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman in all of his forty-six years. If only the talented and attractive Meredith weren’t so aloof toward him and didn’t want to destroy the very property he’s grown to cherish. Meanwhile, Meredith’s estranged sister moves in and refuses to leave. The memories of their childhood spent there causes turmoil between them. And while Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and her future, she learns a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue that may save both her family and the family home from destruction.
And now, let’s hear from Betty…
Singing as Mood Ring
When I was in school, starting in elementary through middle through high school and beyond, my drug of choice was music. I sang all the time, played the viola in the orchestra (3rd grade on), sang in the high school choir, the church choir, and marched in the flag squad of my high school band. (Go Cavaliers!) After high school, I sold my viola and bought an acoustic guitar so I could play and sing. I still have it, too! As you can see in the photo, my favorite ballads are John Denver songs but I sing other tunes as well. Especially around Christmas.
While I cooked dinner or rocked my kids to sleep, I’d sing ditties and ballads as well as hymns. I sing with the radio up loud while I clean the house, glad that I have no near neighbors to complain. The radio is my constant companion, and recently I discovered the iHeartRadio app on my iPhone which thrills me!
However, I have discovered that in the last decade or so, singing has become my mood ring. I only tend to sing when I’m very happy. I blame this development on the host of tasks filling my brain at any given moment, a litany of must-do’s and oughta-do’s. It’s a rare thing for me to sit and do nothing. Even when it may look like I’m not doing anything, such as driving or crocheting while the TV is on, I’m probably also plotting the next scene or book, or planning what to fix for dinner, or something.
This realization inspired how Paulette, Meredith’s sister in Traces, views music as well. She only sings to share her joy, not to delve into nuances of the musical notes, keys, rhythms, and countermelodies. Indeed, she doesn’t understand music other than as a medium for sharing how she feels. She and Meredith touch on this while they’re sitting in the gazebo at Twin Oaks plantation one evening:
Meredith angled her glass, watching the candlelight dance in the reflection. She sipped, swallowed. “So, want to share why you came here? What happened to Mr. Perfect?”
The cricket symphony hushed in anticipation as Paulette sighed. “He’s probably wrapped up in a parka somewhere in Alaska.” She shook her head, peering into the darkness surrounding them.
“Alaska? Really? Whatever for?”
“His dream job. Wildlife journalist for National Geographic. Ugh.”
“I can’t imagine you among the polar bears and penguins, anyway.” Meredith chuckled. “You’re too much a hothouse flower.”
Paulette laughed. “You’ve got part of it right. First, there aren’t penguins in Alaska. Second, you’re dead-on about me needing a warmer climate. That’s why I’m here.”
“I thought you wanted to make me squirm.” Meredith sipped her wine, imagining the crickets rubbing their legs to create their unique music like a symphony orchestra warming up.
“I love seeing you squirm, but that wasn’t why I really came to find you.” Paulette scooted back in her chair, sitting more upright. She leveled her gaze on Meredith, resting her wineglass on her tummy. “Truth be told, I missed you. Or more accurately, I missed our friendship.”
“That was eons ago.” Meredith looked away. Although she longed for the closeness they once shared, she would never allow her sister to maneuver close enough to hurt her ever again. The emotional barrier she’d erected had to remain in order to protect herself from Paulette’s barbs.
“Hm.” Paulette twirled her glass slowly, the fairy lights glinting off the wine’s dark surface. “We can’t see the future.”
“No, yet we both know the past.”
“Do we?” Paulette cleared her throat, the sound harsh in the gentle spring evening. “I’m never certain I understand what happened, let alone the underlying meaning of events. It’s like music, as far as I’m concerned.”
Meredith focused her attention on her then, puzzled by the analogy. “How is music a mystery?”
Paulette waved her hand, palm up and open. “Music flows around me but is elusive, fleeting. I enjoy listening to it but don’t entirely comprehend what it’s trying to say.”
“Not everything has to have meaning, does it?”
Paulette nodded. “Absolutely. People crave to know why things happen. Think about all the symbolism applied to everything. Even the clothes we wear are said to show the kind of person we are.”
“Music is a different medium, though.” Meredith sat up, her back pressing into the Adirondack chair. “The notes speak to me, share a mood and a feeling simultaneously that carry the meaning. Don’t you hear the ambiance when you listen?”
Paulette slowly shook her head. “I don’t think so.” She shrugged. “But maybe some of that seeps into my subconscious.”
“Even the crickets are sharing their mood, playing their sense of peace and joy.”
“It’s the soundtrack of their life, you mean?”
“Brilliant.” Meredith nodded and stared at her sister. She’d never thought of each person having a soundtrack of music that reflected who they were during their lifetime. The myriad of tunes and compositions heard during momentous occasions as well as the day-to-day happenings, all combined into a tapestry of sound. “What would yours be?”
Paulette put her glass to her lips but lowered it without drinking. “Mine would include nursery songs and ballads as well as a hint of blues tunes. And sewing.” She lifted her wine and sipped.
“Sewing?” Meredith cocked a brow. “How is sewing a kind of music?”
“To me, the stitches are like notes. When you combine different colors and patterns, you achieve music.”
Paulette’s unique appreciation of music is brought to the fore in the sequel, entitled Remnants, which will release this fall. Music runs throughout Traces as well, but Meredith’s enjoyment of various tunes stems from a listener’s appreciation rather than a performer’s, much like a reader’s appreciation of a book versus that of a writer. Knowing the nuts and bolts of how something is created versus observing and enjoying the finished product are different sides of the same coin.
As an amateur musician, I see both sides of that musical coin. But for me, singing is more about feeling joyous and happy, and so when I break into song I know I’m feeling on top of the world. Singing effectually becomes my mood ring. I’ve heard some folks dive into a cleaning frenzy when stressed; others jog or run; my daughter hangs out with her horses; perhaps some folks even sew.
Do you have a way of knowing when you’re very happy or even very upset based on some creative endeavor? What are your “tells” that hint or declare how you’re feeling to others?
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Thanks, Betty. As always, such a pleasure having you drop by.
If you would like to win a copy of Traces (your choice of print or ebook), then leave a comment with your answer to Betty’s question.