GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Character guest: Madison shares her first song (Madison's Song by Christine Amsden) + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Character guest: Madison shares her first song (Madison's Song by Christine Amsden) + giveaway

My First Song
by Madison Carter 
(Madison's Song: A Cassie Scott Spin-off)

My dad forbade music in our home after Mom died. And before you start thinking it was for some sentimental reason, let me add that he called music “The Devil's Language.” I was so shy, so eager to please, that I didn't even sing at school; I stood at the back of the class and mouthed the words along with everyone else.

But I wanted to sing. Oh, how I wanted to sing!

Since music was an elective in high school, I didn't take it – Dad would never have allowed it. But I knew the music teacher, Mrs. Grant. I knew her classroom. I sometimes snuck inside after school on the days she had bus duty, sat at the piano, and pretended to play and sing. Simple songs. Childish songs. Mom died when I was six, after all, and I had scarcely kept up with modern music in the intervening ten years.

“Are you deaf?”

I jumped at the sound of Mrs. Grant's voice one Friday afternoon when she should have been at the bus line.

“Apparently not,” she said, coming around to stand in front of me. She had a sort of half smile, half frown on her face, like she had no idea what to make of me. “I've seen you here before, you know. I thought maybe you were one of the deaf students; I even did some research on teaching music to the deaf.”

My face went up in flames, which wasn't an entirely unusual experience for me. I'm easily flustered, and here I was caught red-handed doing something I knew I shouldn't do. And apparently, I hadn't been as sneaky about it as I thought.

“Why haven't you taken one of my classes, if you're so drawn to music?”

“It's from the devil,” I whispered.

Her eyes went wide. “Who told you that?”

I shrugged.

“No really, who told you that?”

“My dad.”

Her nostrils flared and she looked very much like she would march to our house right then to give him a piece of her mind.

“Don't tell him, please!” I pleaded. “I just … I don't know why I care so much.” I ran my fingers along the smooth keys of the piano.

“What were you singing?” Mrs. Grant asked.

“I wasn't singing!”

“In your head. What were you singing?”

“Oh. It's um-” I felt kind of stupid. “'I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.'”

“One of my favorites!” she said, not showing the slightest hint that the song was intended for kindergarten children. “Slide over so I can play while you sing.”

I started to stand but she motioned for me to stay seated on the long bench while she sat beside me. This close, I could see the graceful curve of her fingers as she placed them atop the keys. She held them in place for a long second while I memorized their starting position, then she burst into the staccato beat of the song.

“I know an old lady who swallowed a fly,” I sang. Or maybe just whispered.

“Louder!” she said, not pausing a beat.

“I don't know why she swallowed a fly,” I said, still feeling terribly self-conscious.

“I guess she'll die,” we sang together.

I managed a small smile as I moved onto the second verse, the silliness of the song helping to lift my spirits. I continued to watch Mrs. Grant's fingers move over the keys so intently that I failed to notice people begin to trickle into the room. It was only after we sang the last verse and I looked up that I noticed we'd gained a rapt audience – several teachers, some students, a janitor, and the vice-principal. And they weren't just watching, they were … frolicking like children, with goofy smiles on their faces! Mr. Griffith, the janitor, sixty years if he was a day, was holding hands and dancing with Ms. Stone, the vice-principal, who hadn't smiled since her pregnancy started showing and parents demanded she resign until she became Mrs. something-or-other.

“What just happened?” I asked.

Mrs. Grant shook her head. “I don't know, but you – you have a siren's voice. I haven't enjoyed that song so much since I was five.”

A siren's voice? “I knew I shouldn't have–”

“No! Don't go! I didn't mean … I meant you're wonderful.”

Around us, the others in the room began to clap while I ducked my head, utterly speechless.

“Have you ever played the piano?” Mrs. Grant asked. “I mean really?”

I shook my head, still staring at the piano keys.

“I'd like to teach you,” she said. “After school.”

“My dad would never–”

“Have to know,” she finished for me. “I'd never forgive myself if I let you go through school without learning music. I might as well resign right now.”

I continued looking at my hands while Mrs. Grant stood and began shooing everyone out of the room. When they were gone, she closed it and turned the lock.

“There, now it's just you and me,” she said. “Will you at least think about it?”

I was thinking about it. I knew I shouldn't, but I couldn't help it. I had been thinking about it for months. Slowly, as if anticipating being burned, I lifted my fingers to the piano keys and placed my hands in the starting position I recalled. Then, heart hammering wildly at my rebellion, I played the song. Not perfectly – I misremembered a few notes and had to interrupt the rhythm to find the right chords – but I played the song.

When I finished, Mrs. Grant had tears in her eyes. “You're going to be a star.”

I shook my head, but only partly in horror at the thought. I suddenly understood something about myself that I hadn't been allowed to understand before. Maybe I was demon-possessed, but regardless, music was in my soul. It always had been.

“No,” I told Mrs. Grant, “I don't want to be a star. I want to be a music teacher.”

Madison's Song
by Christine Amsden
Paperback, 272 pages
September 15th 2015
by Twilight Times Books Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black...

Madison Carter has been terrified of Scott Lee since the night he saved her from an evil sorcerer – then melted into a man-eating monster before her eyes. The werewolf is a slave to the moon, but Madison's nightmares are not.

Despite her fears, when Madison's brother, Clinton, is bitten by a werewolf, she knows there is only one man who can help. A man who frightens her all the more because even in her nightmares, he also thrills her.

Together for the first time since that terrible night, Scott and Madison drive to Clinton's home only to discover that he's vanished. Frantic now, Madison must overcome her fears and uncover hidden strengths if she hopes to save him. And she's not the only one fighting inner demons. Scott's are literal, and they have him convinced that he will never deserve the woman he loves.

About the Author:
Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that affects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. (You can learn more here.)

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.

$100 gift card