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Thursday, September 18, 2014

End of Summer Birthday Bash | Day Four ~ Guest Post & Giveaway by Anne Mateer

Part of the joyand the challengeof writing historical fiction is putting a reader firmly into the another time period. That means more than just clothing and home decor, professions or methods of travel. It means little details of life. Part of those details in early twentieth century life include pop culture.

When I decided that Lula, my main character in Playing by Heart, would have some musical abilities, I also decided I wanted that to be a source of conflict with other characters. One way to do that was to set different types of musical preferences at odds with one another. Lula figures if she has to teach music, at least shell teach serious music, as opposed to popular music. And so guess what our hero, Chet, enjoys?

You guessed it! Popular music. But what kind of music was popular in 1917? I really didnt know, other than the song Over There by George Cohen. So I went on a search and found some really fun things.

All the World Will be Jealous of Meby Al Dubin and Ernest R. Ball

This song spent six weeks as the top sheet music seller in August 1917, according to Billboard Magazine. (Yes, Billboard magazine has been around since 1894, though it did not begin regular music charts until the 1930s.) When I read the words, I knew this was a song that would appeal to my sensitive heroand to my reluctant heroine. It was also a song that Lulas romantic sister and brother-in-law would purchase as sheet music. Heres a youtube recording of the song and the lyrics in case you cant distinguish them in the recording:

 I was jealous and hurt
When your lips kissed a rose,
Or your eyes from my own chanced to stray;
I have tried all in vain Many times to propose,
Now at last I've found courage to say:
Let's suppose that the lips I found kissing a rose
Were to tell me to look in your eyes,
if I'd find there a light that for me only glows,
More and more would my heart realize;
The roses all envy the bloom on your cheek,
And the sun even envies your smile;
The birds in the wildwood are stilled when you speak,
Their songs don't seem half worth the while.
The light in your eyes makes the bright stars grow pale,
They're jealous as jealous can be;
But when one word or sign tells them all you are mine,
All the world will be jealous of me!

Livery Stable Bluesby Original Dixieland Jass Band

While ballads like All the World were certainly more the norm, 1917 marked a new direction in music. Original Dixieland Jass Band produced the first jazz recordings of the era. Since Lulas brother-in-law owned a livery stable, I figured it was the perfect song for the story. You can hear it here:

My Hope is Built on Nothing Lessby Edward Mote

Of course, old standbys remained popular, too. This hymn, sometimes referred to as On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, was written in 1834 and included in many hymnals. It continues to be a favorite today, probably because the imagery is so clearthe solid rock vs. sinking sand. Its a hymn whose words always move me. But what I really love is that just at the time I turned in Playing by Heart, which includes this hymn as one that helps Lula when her world seems to swirl out of control, we began singing a kind of updated version in church. Here are links to listen to both the old and the new.

Music is an aspect of life we sometimes take for granted today because it is so available. But for those living in the early 1900s with fewer entertainment options, music was huge. Whether for dancing or singing, through phonograph records or sheet music for the piano, tunes found their way into the populace and became part of their lives. It was fun to rediscover some of those old songs while writing Playing by Heart. 

About Anne Mateer:

Anne Mateer has a passion for bringing history to life through fiction. She is the author of four historical novels as well as a contemporary short story in this season’s Cup of Christmas Cheer II. Anne and her husband live in Texas and are the proud parents of three young adults.

About Playing By Heart:


Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything.

With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister, but the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Lula doesn't even consider those real subjects!

Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends around Jewel's family, the girls' basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she's given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she'd expected.

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Playing By Heart! Giveaway is open to the US and Canada. Ends 9/28.

How to enter: Sign into the Giveaway Tools form below (it might take a moment to load) and submit each entry you complete. Commenting alone will not get you entered – you must click enter on the form. Happy entering!

Open only to those who can legally enter. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Giveaway Tools and announced here as well as emailed and will have up to one week to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Giveaway Tools or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. I am not responsible for any packages lost or damaged in the mail. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


  1. I'm trying to get into writing historical fiction so I found this post SO interesting!! I love the research into the music of the time and such :D

  2. Historical Fiction is my favorite. I haven't yet read Anne Mateer, but this is right up my alley! Thanks Melanie!


  3. You are right, I think we take music for granted in today's time. I wouldn't even have thought of the music from "then". This will be an interesting read!
    Kelly Y.
    kelly *at* dkcountryarts *dot* com

  4. I really want to read this book! It sounds awesome!
    I'm studying t become a teacher and I love this kind of fiction.
    Thanks for the giveaway :)

  5. Hello Anne, thank you for sharing. I love the cover of your new book and can't waait to read it. Thank you for the chance to win a copy. I can't imagine my life without music. I could live without T.V. but music would be hard. I listen to contemporary Christian music and find it both inspiring and uplifting.Music has a history for me. I can hear a song and it will remind me of a time or place from my childhood, school years or when I was dating my now husband. Lets not forget seasonal music it also lifts my spirits. ~ Blessings to you and best wishes on your new book. ~ lisastifler(at)yahoo.com

    1. Music definitely sparks my memory, too! I love that!

  6. How interesting! Thanks for sharing some of your research with us. I know the research for a historical novel must be intense -- but fun. :)

  7. I cannot wait to read this new novel. I am obsessed with history and have loved basketball since I was a kid. So this combines 2 of my favorite things.

  8. Thanks for stopping in and taking the time to read and comment, y'all! I very much appreciate your enthusiasm for Playing by Heart!

  9. Thank you for the giveaway! I've been involved in music for most of my life, so I'm always excited when my two favorite things: music and writing are combined. :)

  10. Love the old songs.. Reading playing by heart now, can't wait for the next book!

  11. hi Melissa. Thanks for hosting Anne. And hello Anne. This book sounds so good and I'd love to win it. I do have one of yours, but that sure isn't enough. Thanks for adding the videos. The first one should have still been popular when mother and daddy were young, for they married in 1921. But, they probably couldn't afford a radio, so don't know how much music they heard. I'm sure they heard the Hymnal in church. I loved the jazz music. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

  12. I really enjoy Anne's books. Thanks for the giveaway and some background for the book.

  13. Playing piano can really help me when I'm overwhelmed or overflowing with emotion, yet at the same time, playing piano (or even listening to certain music) can also trigger strong emotion. Music is amazing that way - no wonder God wants us to praise Him with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs!

  14. I love reading about when God's plans are so much better than our own. It sure makes life interesting.

  15. I love this storyline and hope to be able to enjoy reading this book!

  16. I would love to win this book...thanks for the giveaway! rita.navarre@yahoo.com

  17. Great interview! Music is a wonderful way to connect with the Lord. I look forward to reading Playing By Heart!

  18. Music can be very powerful! Think of hearing the national anthem or a very sentimental song, they can give you (at least me) goose bumps.

  19. Just making sure I entered this one Melanie! Looks like a great one. Staci

  20. Great look at music then and now, it is so woven into the fabric of everyday life. Playing by Heart sounds like an awesome book.


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