Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tirgearr Publishing presents Dellani Oakes


Usually, if someone asks what inspired a novel, I can tell them. Not so with Dulcet, because I honestly don't know. I simply got the starting sentence in my mind and built it into a paragraph. It continued to grow and before I knew it, I had a finished story.

The opening chords of the hymn filled the church, echoing off the walls of the empty sanctuary. Cooper Richards loved the sounds he coaxed from the aging organ, practicing for Sunday's service. The majestic music swooped around him, wrapping him in complex harmony. Feeling the music carry him away, he continued to play, his voice rising to meet the chords, his mellow tenor soaring above the accompaniment. When the hymn was over, the silence reverberated with its memory.

The premise is simple – Cooper Richards is a reformed bad boy. He took sex, drugs and rock and roll to heart, nearly destroying his life. Six months sober and celibate, he's even toying with the idea of becoming a priest. As music director for a small Catholic church, with a mostly elderly congregation, he's living a simple life.

In walks Gloria Sharpe. She's beautiful, innocent and has an amazing voice. The priest from a neighboring parish sent her over to audition for the cantor job at Cooper's church. She and Cooper sing a duet together and find an instant connection. But there's a problem, something that Gloria can't share with Cooper, something that might keep them apart.

Determined to win her heart, Cooper embarks on a plan to convince Gloria that he's the man for her. Not an easy thing, given his past.

I'm not sure where the story came from. It poured out of me in a matter of a few days. That happens sometimes, a tale wants to be told and gives itself to the writer like some kind of ethereal blessing. Other times, we struggle over every word. Books like Dulcet that make me believe that I've truly been given a gift.

Below is a short excerpt from the novel. This is the scene where Cooper and Gloria meet for the first time --

Thumbing through his music, Cooper found another song to practice. It wasn't for Sunday, he just liked the chance to learn new things. Since he had to stick around, he decided to spend his time on the new piece. It wasn't a Catholic hymn, it was a gospel song written by a man named Ben Harper. He started to play the song on the piano, singing confidently. He regretted the fact that he had no one to sing harmony, but he continued. When he reached the second chorus, another voice joined his, harmonizing with him.

The woman walked boldly to the piano, leaning on it with one elbow, much as Father Murphy had done at the organ. He got to the piano solo and she waited patiently for the next verse. Instead of singing it himself, Cooper nodded at her. She picked up the melody as he played, smiling at her.

"When my legs no longer carry and the warm wind chills my bones, I just reach for Mother Mary and I shall not walk alone." Their duet continued to the end of the song.

The notes of the piano faded away. Cooper's blue eyes met her dark brown ones, frozen like a deer in headlights. For a moment or two, he forgot to breathe. Seconds before he started gasping, he forced himself to inhale.

"Hi," he said rather too loudly. "You must be from Father Barry."

"Yes," she said with a grin. "Gloria Sharpe." She extended her hand.

He took it gingerly, afraid that if he touched her, she would disappear.

"Cooper Richards. You sing very well."

"You can hardly judge my skill based on one song," she said quietly.

"Then sing something else." He smirked, a challenge in his eyes as his fingers teased the keys.

"See if you know this one," he said.

Gloria listened a moment to the simple melody he played, a smile tugging at her full, red lips. "These feelings won't go away, they keep knocking me sideways...." She sang.

She did have a beautiful voice, Cooper thought. He enjoyed watching the play of the afternoon light across her dark brown hair. The stained glass windows cast a shattered rainbow of colors over her simple gray dress, dark stockings and clogs.

Unable to stop himself, Cooper joined her in harmony on the last chorus of the song by Citizen Cope. There was a short pause as again he lost himself in her gaze. Clearing his throat abruptly, he stared at his hands neatly folded in his lap.

"Would you like me to sing something a bit more liturgical?" She couldn't hide the laugh in her voice.

"Probably should," he admitted shyly. "That song is a newly acquired favorite. It gets stuck in my mind."
Gloria smiled, nodding. "That happens to me too. I find a song that speaks to me, and it tends to stalk me."

"I wouldn't have put it quite that way, but it's certainly appropriate. Okay, how about the 'Gloria', Gloria?" He moved to the organ, striking the familiar chords.

Gloria's voice nearly drowned out the organ, soaring skillfully to the high notes as she sang the familiar prayer. Without a break, he moved on to the 'Alleluia'. Loving the sound of her voice, he started to play the hymn he had been practicing earlier when Father Murphy came in.

"Hail Holy Queen enthroned above, O Maria." She sang the first verse in English, then switched and sang the rest of "Salve Regina" in Latin.

Cooper's opinion of her skill and knowledge increased exponentially at that point. He hated Latin, but was learning it because of his church work.

"My turn to pick," Gloria insisted, nudging him over with her hip. "I can't play like you do, but I'll start and you join in when you recognize it." She picked out a tune with one hand, adding simple chords to it.

She played half the verse before he finally caught on. It wouldn't normally have taken him so long, but her hair smelled like sunshine and fresh flowers. She sat so close, her body heat radiated from her, making his skin tingle. It was very distracting. Forcing himself to concentrate once more, he listened carefully and smiled.

His hands reached for the second tier of keys, playing a much more sophisticated accompaniment to her simple one on the tier above. With a smile, she let him take over the harmonies, continuing to pick out her simple melody with one hand as she sang.

• • •

Author, journalist, photographer, teacher, reviewer, radio show host—Dellani Oakes has worn many hats.

Addicted to writing, she spends as much time at it as possible and gets cranky if she's late getting a fix.

The Ninja Tattoo is Dellani's third published novel, though she claims to have enough, still unpublished, to keep a publisher busy for the next ten years.

Dellani also enjoys writing short stories and novellas, several of which have received Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.

Dellani currently lives in Florida with her husband and two of their four children.

Find Dellani Oakes online at --

Dellani Oakes
Dellani's Choice Blog
Writer's Scantuary Blog
Tirgearr Publishing

• • •

Dellani Oakes will be featured on Friday, 9 November at Words of Wisdom from the Scarf Princess. She will be giving a handmade book mark and book plate to one lucky winner. Each commenter's name will also be added into the grand prize drawing at the end of the tour which has a total value of $150.00! See how it works here.


Catherine Lee said...

The Catholic Church backdrop brings an interesting twist to the story. I look forward to reading this one.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Isabo Kelly said...

Dulcet sounds brilliant, Dellani. I've written books that way too, where you just sort of start and suddenly you've got a book. It's kind of cool :-). Looking forward to more from you.

Debby said...

Thanks so much for sharing. Sounds like internal inspiration.
debby236 at gmail dot com